How To Build a Solid Blog Foundation

For the longest time, downtown Vancouver had a big hole in the ground at Georgia and Alberni Street. The hole was the site of the Living Shangri-La building. The Living Shangri-La will be Vancouver tallest building when it’s completed later this month. Construction on the building started in 2004 and for the first three years, the site was nothing but a hole in the ground because the workers were laying in the foundation. Once the foundation was completed, the 61-story tower went up in just over a year.

Today, people walking by the Shanhai-La see a beautiful building in front of them. They don’t see the years of work it took to lay in the foundation that made the building possible. The same thing applies to blogs. People see this blog and its huge monthly income but they don’t see the work it took to get it to this level. Without a solid foundation, a building will not stand. Unless you build your blog on a solid foundation, its chances of joining the A-list rank are very slim. Here are four keys to building a solid foundation.

Get Your Own Domain Name

This step should be a no brainer. Yet, I am continually amazed at the number of bloggers who email me for help and they don’t have their own domain name. A blog with a solid foundation is a brand and you can’t build a brand when you have Blogspot.com in your URL.

There is no reason not to have your own domain name. The cost of registering a domain is less than $10 per year at most domain registrars like GoDaddy. If you can’t afford that, then you have other things to worry about than making money online.

I’m often asked is it better to use your own name as the domain or a name that reflects the topic of the blog. If I had to do it all over again, I would have choosen a descriptive name rather than my own name for the blog domain. Read this post for the reasons why.

Choose Your Blogging Platform Wisely

I recommend all bloggers use WordPress because it’s the best blogging software on the Net. WordPress has the largest base of users, is extremely easy to use, scales very well and it’s free.

This is not to say that you can’t build a big blog using another blogging platform. However, the options and add on plugins available for WordPress makes it the blogging platform of choice for nearly all the big money bloggers.

Along with the WordPress, you should look at giving your blog a unique look. You don’t have to do this from the get go but from a branding and customization standpoint, it’s something you definitely want to do. I use Unique Blog Designs for all my blog design work.

Choose A Topic You Like

The foundation of most blogs is their content. If the content sucks, the blog will go nowhere. This is why it’s so important to choose a topic that you enjoy writing about. When choosing the topic to blog about, choose base on your passion first and income potential second. If you’re not passionate about your topic, it’s going to feel like work and that’s going to prevent you from giving your best.

Once you selected a topic you love, then you can look at its income potential. How many other blogs are in the same niche? Who are the big ones? Do they make money? What is the search volume? Etc. If you find that your topic can’t make any money, then move on to the next passionate topic on your list.

If you hire writers for your blog, then make sure they’re passionate about the topic. How can you tell if they’re passionate about it? Offer them little to no pay. When Web Logs Inc. started, they offered their bloggers only $2.50 per post. The bloggers who were passionate about the topic continued to write for them because they love the topic. The ones who were in it for the money quit. Web Logs Inc. was bought out by AOL last year and many of those $2.50 per post bloggers are now making A LOT more than $2.50 per post.

Have a Marketing Plan In Place

Most bloggers think making money online is like the movie Field of Dreams, where the main character was told, “If you build it, they will come.” The truth of the matter is you can build it but if nobody knows about it, they’re not coming.

Marketing is what separates the big blogs from the small ones. It takes a lot more than good content to build a big blog. There are tons of smaller blogs that have better content than me. The reason they don’t get bigger is because they do little or no marketing. If your blog is not where you want it to be, ask yourself what you’ve been doing to market it.

Content is only half the formula. You have to get your blog out there. That means you need to have a marketing plan in place before you start your blog. How do you plan to market your blog? If you don’t have the answer to that, then you need to sit down and work out a plan.

Summing It Up

We live in an instant society. We want everything right now and are not willing to wait for it. While it’ll be great to build a blog and have it to go to $40,000 in income in its first month, it won’t happen (well it can, but that’s for another post). You need to invest the time to build the foundation to support it.


52 thoughts on “How To Build a Solid Blog Foundation”

  1. Ryan McLean says:

    Would love to read the post about building it to $40,000 a month. 😉 wouldn’t we all??
    But this is a great post. Domain name and branding is one of the largest foundations of a blog. Without this no one will remember you. I picked a domain based on branding…I figured Smarter Wealth was pretty brandable. Bummer I couldn’t get the .com though (I got the .net)
    Thanks for the post this was really helpful. I am building my blogs foundation right now and I am about to start building the building by increasing my marketing

    1. Great article John. Few people realize that it took you several years of hard work to reach your current amount of monthly online earnings.
      One thing that I agree is that .blogspot blogs are useful when you are just starting out. As for the $10 investment – If you are making $1 and you have invested $10 in a domain name then you have achieved a 10% return on investment. But if you have a blogger account for which you haven’t paid a single cent, then your return on investment is infinity 🙂

    2. BlogSavvy says:

      Don’t take the dot net too lightly, Look at BlogSavvy.net and ProBlogger.net, even though ProBlogger owns the .com address he still has it redirect tot he .net address. It’s all a matter of branding from then on.

  2. Jack Rugile says:

    Excellent post! I agree with all of those points. Especially buying a domain name. I have stumbled across some amazing writes on who have the “blogspot” in their domain name. They could give themselves so much more credibility for only $10 a year!

    I would also like to add that building your blog one post at a time is crucial to your blog’s success. When you are starting out, you want to fill your blog with tons of content really fast. But if you don’t take time with each post and make sure that it is your best work… readers will know it. Yes, some will come back, but even more will come back if you single task when writing your post.
    Forget your blog as a whole… when you are writing a post, FOCUS only on your post 🙂

    Oh yea, your link to http://www.uniqueblogdesigns.com is broken, just a small typo in “unique”.

    Thanks for the great post John!

  3. Deepak says:

    I have read about blogging foundation a hundred times. Anyway it refreshes again! Thanks John Chow 🙂

  4. Hi John, great tie in with the Shrangi-La building – the bigger you’re going to build it the deeper the foundation. Just to add that using 3rd party platforms as your base is a foundation that can be demolished literally overnight without you being able to do anything about it.

    Also some pretty cool wordpress themes over at
    http://www.woothemes.com

    Cheers:)
    Glen Crosier
    Brighton, UK

  5. Michael Zhao says:

    Great post! I too am building my foundation. It’s been five months or so, and I’ve been writing and collecting thoughts of what to say on paper. My topics would be exercise and health related.

  6. Having a domain name is really important. In my own case I neglected this fact because I’d never thought about the money-making side of this job when I first started. Just to prove how vital this fact is:

    “a guy I know started on the same topic as what I write in my blog with his own domain name and the money he’s earning is at least 20 times what I earn” — I can honestly say his content is not that much greater than what appears on my blog. 😯

  7. Daniel says:

    You’re right
    I bought my once domain on blogger.
    It’s custom, now no longer seems to blogger.
    I bought another domain yet unnamed and what I will do with wordpress from domain.
    I give some recommendation?

    Thanks John

  8. Just a little update:

    Please feel the difference between a problog (one of the best examples of a problog is this blog) and a business blog. Problog is for making money from blog when a businesses blog is about making money from the business a blogger is blogging about.

    If you want to read more about these differences, please feel free to download my free e-book “The New Rules of Business Blogs”. You are welcome to check it out in my blog at http://www.positioningstrategy.com.

  9. Avon Blake says:

    It would be a lot easier to take what you write seriously if your blog wasn’t saturated with adverts for well known scams. Looks to me like you just make money by persuading gullible people to sign up for dodgy affiliate schemes using your cloaked referral links.

    Even for me, someone who has only just installed wordpress and started blogging, it’s all too easy to see that johnchow.com is nothing but a massive trap for gullible rookie bloggers.

    1. If you think that’s how he’s making money, then you must not know this blog too well.

    2. Peter Carter says:

      So how do you suggest John monetizes his site? And which ads are for scams?

      Easy to carp about other people and make unsubstantiated claims.

      1. I think that person was talking about the Reverse Funnel System.

  10. Nice post mr johu chow,
    nice way to make money.
    I think i will be a part of it and i urge other who visit these site to join.
    Thanks
    Kess

  11. EJC:

    Yup, our words are vey true, and I can reinforce them as well. Since getting my own domain, my income is up 1000%, however it is nowhere near your lofty numbers, but it is slowly growing.

    Need a marketing plan now!

    Big Cajun Man

  12. John, how about doing a post on a marketing plan?

    1. DAK says:

      I’ll second that suggestion! I’m sure lots of us want to see more on how to market our blogs.

  13. Avon Blake says:

    I guess you have decided to delete my comment because I said something you didn’t like. I guess I must have touched a nerve. That’s not cool John, not cool at all.

    1. John Chow says:

      I don’t delete comment. If your comment didn’t show up, it’s because it’s held for mod because you’re a first time commentator or your comment has more than two links on it.

  14. That’s very true. After blogging for more than a year, my blogs which failed are those which have little or no foundation.

    Nowadays, I spent at least a month to choose topic, planning the direction and many other work before launching a new work. This is quite boring to me because it’s like building the foundation of a building- underground and no one knows. However, it’s necessary to do so!

  15. Pangeran says:

    I think one of my wise investment is my own domain names and my hosting.

    My marketing plan is just networking and other free advertising and so.(If that considered as a marketing plan… 😳 )

    I longing this type of post from you “Uncle John”… :mrgreen:

  16. Raul says:

    Hey John,
    Do you remember that day when you told me to buy my own domain name? Best advice, EVER! 🙂

  17. Milo says:

    I agree with these points but I am amazed to read about surveys and study posted at problogger that the top blogs include a big number from blogspot and that wordpress is a minority among installations.

    1. Pangeran says:

      Maybe because the blogspot is free.
      Any example about those top blog that using blogspot beside adsense insider blog?

  18. Very good post! It is amazing how some people don’t get it.

    My wife has a blog for her business and started it on blogger.com, even after I continued to tell her it wasn’t a good idea. She did it anyway, and was bringing in about 2500 unique hits a day.

    After all of this, she finally decided she wanted to self host it. So I moved everything over to wordpress, and imported all of her old posts. She still gets alot of traffic on blogger, but the new blog is very slow to gain momentum.

    I would love to read what you have to say about making $40,000 in one month. Interested in what kind of twist you’d be putting on it.

  19. Glen Crosier says:

    Hi John, love the way you tie in the shrangi-la building with a solid blog foundation and it’s important advice to get your domain and not build your foundation on a 3rd party platform that could take your site down without warning.

    Cheers:)
    Glen Crosier
    Brighton, UK

  20. I agree that content is only half the formula. You need a marketing plan to get your blog/site noticed. If you aren’t putting your site in front of your target audience, they may not find you.

  21. Josh says:

    Wow, what happened to this blog? Hardly any comments anymore. No more monthly income posts? Alexa going down. Is the ride over. Where are the people? I don’t even recognize any of the commentators anymore.

    1. People still take Alexa as holy? Good grief. That has to be one of the most inaccurate sites I’ve ever come across.

      1. John Chow says:

        Hey, I thought Alexa was GOD! :mrgreen: It is interesting to note that I’ll overtake the Alexa ranking of Problogger.net this month. 😈

        1. Haha, evil. I wonder how long that will last.

  22. Marketing is huge and an easy way is to comment on other blogs.

  23. Brad says:

    Getting traffic is the hardest part…..

  24. Adam says:

    I agree with everything you suggested in this post. I would like to know a little more about how you marketed this site to gain more traffic and a faithful readership in the beginning.

  25. Running wordpress on my own domain was the best decision I’ve ever made…

    For those of you who are still on blogger, the jump is definitely worth it…

    1) People take you more seriously
    2) Advertisers are more willing to spend money on a real domain than on a blogspot blog
    3) There’s just about every imaginable plugin on wordpress to make things really easy for you

    What are you waiting for?

  26. I can understand all of this. I definitely have a topic I believe in. I figure I would use a Blogger.com account to learn the way of blogging so that Im not just spinning my wheels wasting money. Take all of my hardships for free I guess. I need to develop a better marketing plan. Its more of a day by day thing with me right now.

  27. john… thank you for sharing this topics. i just start my other blog. now i could see where i’m heading.. its not going down but for sure going up…. your advice really help people not just become pro blogger but also business blogger. because of your success i want to be like you too. that’s why i start my blog with something that i like which is electronic advice….
    i’m still beginner, still needs to do a lot of learning……
    again…thanks 🙂

  28. Freeman says:

    wow that picture kinda makes me dizzy! haha other than that I think this was a very well written post and will be helpful to a lot of people!

  29. Lawrence says:

    it’s amazing….

    Some of the most obvious ones – people commit!

  30. For those of us with a tech background, though, the marketing plan is the one piece missing! I suppose for those with a marketing background, the tech piece is missing, which seems to be more what this post is referencing.

  31. Excellent post John. I was just thinking the other day reading your interview on the Pepperjam network and a comment left by someone about you posting on food all the time that maybe it would be a good thing to do to start posting about some of the basic tips again. You have so much content its hard to find all the tips. So just when I thought it, you did it. Very cool!

  32. Definitely some good tips here. I first started blogging using word press because I didn’t feel like registering a domain and all that before I got a taste of blogging. But now it’s essential.

  33. ndnhumor says:

    What I enjoy is subscribing/reading big bloggers like John Chow and then a few smaller “watch me as I do it” types. I think it gives me good balance I hope. And the marketing plan is gold, unfortunately even in the off-line world, businesses still don’t heed that advice.

  34. 100kjob says:

    Thanks for the advice, John. Would like to see some tips on how you worked out your market plan in your early days.

  35. This is a great post John , the picture is so relevant to the post

  36. Some great advice, as usual John, I think the interest of blog topic is crucial, since you have to update very regularly to have any success, boredom will quickly lead to dropping the blog.
    Thanks,
    JR

  37. I agree with you, especially the part about getting a domain name. That is a MUST if you want to be taken seriously. You really can’t complain if there are people that don’t take you seriously if they see that you’re using Blogspot. I think anyone who is serious would take the time to show it.

  38. girliegeek says:

    The point that I think most people miss is that you should be blogging about something you really enjoy. If you don’t feel a certain amount of passion for your topic of choice, it comes across in your writing. I really enjoy reading blogs where I can really tell the author takes great interest and enthusiasm in their subject because I find it so much more believable.

  39. chris says:

    thank you for sharing

  40. great post…in short…your niche and letting your niche that you have something that they value to offer them. I never really thought about a marketing plan before but it is fundamental! What I started doing was finding blogs and seeing who was bringing in a lot of visitors and emulating them according to my topic. Thanks again. 😈

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