Blogging for beginners: the first 90 days

This blogging for beginners guide covers the 10 most important steps for your blog’s first 90 days of life – including how to make money from your blog.

How do I know what I’m talking about? Well for starters, I’ve been blogging for over 10 years.

My most popular blog attracts over 100K visits per month and has generated six figures in annual revenue. This guide contains the most important steps that helped me along the way.

This guide is for those of you who already have your domain name and a WordPress site up and running. It will help you take the next steps and have a clear way forward.

Affiliate disclaimer: I sometimes link to products and services to help cover the costs of running this blog. There’s no extra cost to you – and I only recommend products that I’ve both used personally and think are awesome. Thanks for your support! 

Blogging For Beginners: 10 Essential Steps For The First 90 Days

#1. Find your first keywords

Every successful blog is based on keyword research. And any decent guide to blogging for beginners should highlight this as a critical first step.

Without proper keyword research, Google won’t know what you’re writing about. As a result, you’re unlikely to attract much organic traffic.

So the first thing I would do as a beginner blogger would be to identify at least 30 long-tail, low-competition keywords in my niche. This gives me a nice bank of keywords to draw from whenever I sit down to write a new blog post.

“Long tail” keywords are over four words in length. They typically revolve around a question, such as “how to start a blog for free”, but they can also be other sorts of phrases.

One of the phrases I use in this article – “beginner’s guide to blogging” – would count as a long tail keyword (“blogging for beginners” is the main target keyword, however).

What’s so great about long tail keywords? Well, they’re usually less competitive.

Because fewer people search in such specific ways, long tail keywords typically have a lower search volume than “head” keywords (such as “blogging”).

For large websites, it’s often not worthwhile to pursue these keywords. That opens up the playing field for small sites, such as your new blog, to target those lesser-known keywords.

As a new blogger, I strongly recommend you focus on question-based keywords in your niche. These are usually long tail and hence less competitive. What’s more, they also build a strong foundation of expertise around your personal brand.

PRO Tip

Focus on question-based keywords in your niche when building your foundation.These are usually long tail and hence less competitive – while also strengthening the sense of expertise around your personal brand. Read more about the advantages of long tail keywords.

Do this often enough, and you’ll soon build a small foundation of organic traffic. And that’s where the SEO magic starts to happen.

I recommend using Semrush for your keyword research. Both tools offer similar features at similar price points, but Semrush has a handy 14-day free trial. Grab yours here.

#2. Publish your first 30 blog posts

You’ve got the keywords lined up. The next step is to write and publish your first 30 blog posts.

If you’ve followed my advice and focused on long-tail keywords, you should have some nice phrases ready to structure your posts around.

But don’t just dive in and start writing haphazardly.

It’s important to write your blog posts in a specific way, to make sure Google’s crawler bots can understand exactly what each post is about.

As a minimum, you should include your main target keyword in the following locations on the page:

  • Title
  • First paragraph (and make it bold)
  • URL slug
  • Meta description
  • At least one H2
  • A few times throughout the text (but only where it naturally fits – no stuffing!)

You can see I’ve followed all the above steps in the blog post you’re reading right now. That’s usually enough to show Google’s bots what your blog post is about.

Want to know exactly what goes into an SEO-friendly blog post? My handy on-page SEO checklist will keep you on track. Grab a free copy below!

When you’re first starting as a blogger, the prospect of publishing 30 posts may feel overwhelming. But remember, this number isn’t set in stone.

My goal is for you to build a strong foundation in the early stages, which will set you up for good SEO performance later down the line. Your mileage may vary, but the faster you publish, the sooner your blog will grow.

Publishing a new post two to three times a week is a great cadence to aim for. If you can only manage to publish one per week, that’s fine too. Just do what works best for you.

#3. Add internal links

Using internal links is one of the best ways to boost your blog’s SEO. It’s a way of telling Google that one blog post on your site relates to several others.

Done properly, this creates a cluster of blog posts on various aspects of a topic. Google likes this because it builds topical authority, which then gets rewarded with higher rankings.

You should start adding internal links as soon as you’ve got two or three posts published. Ideally, those posts will also cover different aspects of the same topic in your niche, so it should feel natural to add internal links between them.

For example, I can add internal links to this blog post pointing to others on different aspects of blogging and SEO, such as how to monetize your blog.

Most importantly, make sure your internal links lead your readers towards other content that’s relevant and will help them solve their problems.

Every time you publish a new blog post, make sure it contains two or three internal links to relevant posts. This task should form part of your standard on-page SEO workflow.

#4. Start tracking your growth

I need to manage your expectations here for a moment. Don’t expect immediate results once you start publishing on your blog.

Building organic traffic with SEO is a long-term play. But it pays off massively in the future.

If you can keep the faith and trust the process long enough, you’ll soon find your early SEO efforts bearing fruit. Plus, the more you publish, the faster you’ll grow.

With that caveat in mind, let’s look at the best ways to track your blog’s growth in those crucial 90 days.

Google Search Console (GSC)

This free tool from Google is a must for anyone who wants to grow their organic traffic.

Once you’ve got GSC connected to your website, you can view all sorts of helpful information about your organic growth and performance in Google.

Key metrics to focus on:

  1. Impressions (the purple line)
  2. Clicks (the blue line)

As you can see, this website experienced many months without any growth.

That reflected my lack of activity on it until around August 2022. Once I started publishing again, there was an uptick in impressions, soon followed by an uptick in clicks.

During your blog’s first 90 days, you should keep a close eye on impressions, rather than clicks.

Because your blog posts are unlikely to rank on page one at this early stage, you’re unlikely to get many clicks. But monitoring your impressions can tell a subtle but encouraging story.

PRO Tip

An increase in impressions means Google is starting to pick up your content. As you continue to publish new content, you should see a steady increase in impressions. Keep publishing!

Google Analytics (GA)

Google Analytics is another important free tool provided by Google. GA tracks traffic to your website from all different sources, instead of focusing only on organic search performance (as GSC does).

That could include direct traffic (people typing in your domain name into Google), organic traffic (SEO), social traffic (people finding your posts via social media), or referral traffic (people finding your posts from other websites).

It’s important to connect your blog to Google Analytics as soon as possible, so you can keep an eye on what your traffic is doing.

#5. Claim your blog’s social media handles

The next thing to do is claim social media handles for your blog on every platform you can think of.

Even if you’re not planning to create an active presence on that platform, it’s still a good idea to snap up your social media handle.

Once you’ve got the accounts set up, you should create a bio for yourself on each one, and make sure it includes the URL for your blog.

Normally, links from social media platforms will be nofollow (which means they won’t directly help with your blog’s SEO).

Nevertheless, having these profiles set up will signal to Google that your blog has a presence online beyond just its URL. That’s a good thing for credibility.

#6. Start your email list

Building your email list is a critical step in becoming a profitable blogger.

I see far too many people either overlooking it altogether or missing out on early opportunities to get their list started. Don’t be one of those people (I was)!

Instead, hop over to ConvertKit and create a free account. This is where you’ll start building your list. You can use ConvertKit’s free plan until you reach 1000 subscribers.

If you want to use automations and sequences in your email marketing, consider upgrading to the Pro plan (this is what I currently use). But it’s not necessary at this early stage.

Once you’ve got a free account set up, create a simple email capture form using one of ConvertKit‘s easy templates (my favorite is the Clare form, as it’s lightweight and ultra simple).

Include this form at the bottom of all your blog posts, inviting your readers to sign up for a newsletter (you can create the newsletter later – the main goal is to get a few people on your list).

If you have a sidebar on your blog, you can also include the form there as a widget.

Caveat: A newsletter isn’t the most compelling prospect, so you might only get one or two signups to start with. But that’s better than nothing.

If you want to take your email marketing to the next level, consider creating a free lead magnet and hosting it via ConvertKit.

You can then promote the lead magnet in different ways, such as on your social media channels. Once you start getting organic traffic, you’ll hopefully get more signups.

For more about ConvertKit, check out my detailed review.

#7. Set up paid consultations

Losing momentum is one of the biggest risks in your first 90 days of blogging.

This is typically because SEO takes time to work. Without the encouragement of tangible progress, lots of people give up too early – before they ever see any results.

Having an early monetization strategy in place helped me push through this difficult stage. One of the simplest ways to make money from your blog at the beginning is by offering paid consultations.

I’m assuming that you’re already an expert in the niche you’re blogging about. Perhaps it’s your previous career, or your current full-time job, or a passionate hobby.

If that’s the case, then you’re likely already enough of an expert to sell your knowledge via online consultations.

To get started, first set up a paid consultations page on your blog. Here’s mine.

Include a catchy headline, a list of bullet points about how the consultation will help your clients, and if you can, several testimonials. (The best way to get these at the beginning is to offer a few sessions for free in exchange for a testimonial).

Next, sign up for a Calendly account and embed the booking page into your WordPress page. Check out my page for an example of what this looks like. It’s a really simple and easy way to get people to sign up for your services.

Then, make sure you’ve set up a Stripe account to take your payments. There’s a neat integration with Calendly and Stripe, which provides a smooth booking process. Note: you’ll need a paid Calendly subscription to integrate Stripe.

Finally, if you don’t already have one, set up a Zoom account. If your consultations are less than 40 minutes, you can just use the free plan. But for consultations of an hour or more, you’ll need a paid Zoom subscription.

Together, these handy tools create a simple workflow for potential clients to read about your service, choose a time slot that works for them, make payment, and get on your calendar.

Then all you have to do is show up at the right time and deliver your expertise to your client on Zoom.

Once the session is over, I recommend asking the client if they’re happy to give you a testimonial. Then you can add it to your existing testimonials to further strengthen your social proof.

Pro Tip

You won’t have much organic traffic in your blog’s first 90 days. So I recommend promoting your consultations using your social media platforms, especially Twitter and LinkedIn.

#8. Build your first backlinks

We hear a lot of talk about backlinks in the SEO world. And sure, they’re important, but you should handle them with care. I’ll explain.

You get backlinks when other websites link to yours. It’s a vote of credibility in the eyes of Google. When other websites link to yours, it shows that they see it as a valuable and reliable source.

The more backlinks your site has, the more powerful it will be. And, in many cases, the more likely it is to rank higher in search.

Because backlinks are so important for SEO, many people try to game them. That’s been going on for many years. It’s led to a huge number of ‘link farms’ and other dodgy practices waiting to catch out newbie bloggers.

A ‘link farm’ is a website publishing content on a vast range of topics, created for the purpose of selling backlinks to other sites. Link farm content tends to be poor quality, and lacks focus – as they want to cater to as many niches as possible. Avoid!

My advice is: to proceed with great caution when building backlinks.

When I first started, I made the mistake of buying a few links from low-quality link farm websites. These didn’t make any difference to my rankings at all and were a total waste of money.

It’s important to build as many backlinks as possible from sites that are relevant to yours. You can also get valuable backlinks from more general sites, such as reputable news sites (New York Times, BBC, etc). These will also help your SEO efforts.

Here are my recommended ways to get backlinks in your first 90 days:

  • Twitter (look for the hashtag “JournoRequest” – used by journalists looking for sources
  • HARO (Help a Reporter Out) – you can sign up for daily alerts from journalists looking for sources
  • Guest posting for smaller sites in your niche – I recommend aiming for sites around your level to start with, as they are more likely to accept a guest post.
  • Your university alumni department – if you graduated from university, I recommend checking out their alumni pages to see if they publish alumni success stories or similar. Look for ways your blog could fit in. Educational backlinks (e.g. .edu or .ac.uk) are powerful and will give your blog a major boost.
  • Friends with websites – ask if they could add your link as a niche edit, or have you write a guest post (but make sure the site is at least somewhat relevant to yours).

#9. Get in a publishing rhythm

After your first 30 blog posts are up (and it may well take you longer than 90 days – that’s totally fine!) aim for a publishing frequency of at least 2 to 3 times a week.

I believe this is the most manageable cadence to achieve a decent pace of growth (if you can post every day, of course, you’ll grow your blog even faster).

Remember, the more you publish, the faster you’ll rank and grow.

Need freelance writing support? Try Workello’s done-for-you hiring service.

Once you have published articles for all 30 of the target keywords that you defined in the first step, then go back to your keyword research tool and look for more.

Try to build out existing topic areas. Google likes you to cover a topic in as much depth as you can, which may mean writing 10 or more blog posts on different aspects of that topic.

My advice is do keyword research and blog post writing separately. Do a day of keyword research, build up your next bank of keywords, and then devote all your time to drafting the blog posts.

Don’t forget to follow best practices for on-page SEO! My FREE checklist will be useful here. Grab a copy below.

#10. Evaluate your progress

After 90 days, examine your Google Search Console dashboard. Look for the purple line, which means impressions.

If you’ve been doing everything correctly, you should see an increase in impressions, even if it’s just a small one. You (probably) won’t be anywhere near page one yet, but you should see some “green shoots”. This is progress!

Final Thoughts

After the first 90 days are up, just keep going.

Find suitable keywords, target them with high-quality, well-optimized blog posts, and go after more backlinks.

Repeat.

It works. Don’t give up.

If you stick with this relatively simple process, the day will soon come when your blog traffic starts to increase in leaps and bounds.

Before you know it, you’ll have a healthy, flourishing blog. It’s a major asset that can open up opportunities in many areas – from monetization to publicity and all kinds of partnerships.

You can either keep your blog as a side hustle, or grow it until it replaces your full-time income.

Blogging has been a total game-changer for me. I know it can do the same for you.

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