The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide To Set Up A Profitable Website

By Yaro Starak
47 Comments

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at the new EJ step-by-step guide to set up a profitable website.

You will find it under the “How You Can Start” tab in the navigation bar above, or click this link –

How You Can Start: A Step-By-Step Guide To Set Up A Profitable Website

How To Set Up A Profitable Website

You will have to enter your name and email to access the page, which adds you to the EJ Newsletter.

It should be pretty clear that this guide is intended to be a first point of contact for anyone new to this website and new to the process of learning how to make money online.

I spent a month putting together the guide, digging into the archives of this blog, my online courses and various other materials I have produced over the years in an attempt to collect the best of the best into a recommended order of study.

As stated on the page, the guide exists to –

  1. Highlight the best content
  2. Give you an optimal order of study
  3. Assign tasks to go with the content so you take action

It’s basically a complete online course in internet marketing – and 100% free.

Let’s Move The Furniture Around

Over the years the design of this blog has changed many times. The purpose of facelifts is to increase usability, modernize the layout to keep up with design standards, integrate new features as they become popular (think Facebook like and Twitter tweet buttons, and before them, Digg and StumbleUpon buttons), speed up load times and improve SEO performance – and most importantly – adapt to changing overall strategy.

Plus, it’s fun to update designs, it’s like moving around the furniture in your house, everything feels new again.

The challenge with blog design is meeting the needs of multiple goals. When I started blogging I was all about the RSS feed, assuming that was the most important metric. Then my email list became the most critical element, but I also wanted to make sure the content was read, that sponsors advertising is seen, that articles are easily shared through social media, etc etc.

At one stage my monetization strategy was the traditional blogging and publishing model, focusing on increasing unique visitors and pageviews so I could make money from advertising that included banners and Google AdSense. Adsense failed for me, but sponsors who paid a monthly fee for banners worked well, and has for seven years straight.

Next I tried affiliate marketing, which proved lucrative. A couple of years later I produced my own products, which was even more lucrative.

I learned that email marketing converted better than blogging, although my email list was fueled by my blog, so the relationship is symbiotic. I needed the blog for subscribers (the front end) and the list to drive traffic to specific offers on demand.

All of these goals and income methods compete for attention on your blog. Figuring out what you want to focus on comes down to your strategy, which then dictates what your blog design should look like.

Are you about email opt-ins and conversion rates, or banner ad impressions and click-throughs, or all of these goals?

What Am I Thinking?

Some of my goals with the new design for EJ were to –

  1. Start moving away from the “Yaro” brand to the “EJ” brand
  2. Simplify the layout to better highlight the content
  3. Reduce how much is on the page to decrease load time, improve SEO performance, and highlight what matters most
  4. Increase email subscriptions without decreasing reader engagement
  5. Highlight the wealth of value hidden inside the archives

It’s difficult to do everything at once, and the list above isn’t comprehensive, I have other goals as well.

At the end of the day we are all dealing with a finite variable – the reader’s attention span – so there is only so much you can present to them. The more you ask, the less you will achieve of each outcome.

Again, overall strategy dictates a lot of these decisions, and everything is a work in progress. All you can do is figure out what you want, how you can get there and get busy testing to prove your assumptions. Watch your metrics and your bank balance to help determine what is working and what isn’t.

First Impressions Count

I spotted a trend recently that I am surprised has taken so long to surface. Bloggers have begun to realize that they don’t have a very good “entry page” for new people to first learn about their blog.

Step into the mind of a new visitor to your blog for a second… Think about the questions in their head, their lack of a framework about you or your website and you will begin to see how important what kind of first impression your blog makes is. You need to manage their expectations and over deliver value in one very short-lived first impression.

Unfortunately for so many blogs, the first impression they make is whatever blog post is at the top of their blog on any given day. If you have good content, that’s not such a bad thing. However it is very unlikely one blog post is an accurate representation of what your blog truly offers, and many first time readers will leave without discovering your value – or more importantly, subscribing.

One of the secrets I’ve kept hidden away for a long time (although if you think about it it’s not that hidden or tricky), is why my free report, the Blog Profits Blueprint, is so important and successful.

While other bloggers who write about blogging have produce a ton more content then I have over the years, most of them failed to capture their readers on to an email list. They also failed to create good entry content or a way to introduce new readers to what they offer. They usually left it up to their About page to describe what their blog offers.

My Blueprint has been the best first impression I could make. It’s comprehensive, it’s a one-stop solution from A to Z, it over delivers, it collects my best ideas in one place and best of all, to get it, people must subscribe to my list, so I can keep in contact. It’s also been great for word of mouth and thus viral traffic, bringing new people to my blog every day.

The Blueprint also aligned with my strategy and main monetization method. I sold a course on how to make money with blogs, so offering a free report on the exact same thing is a great way to bring in my target audience. This is one of the reasons why I’ve been able to sell several hundred thousand dollars of my Blog Mastermind course over the years.

Of course that all changed recently. I shut down Blog Mastermind. All my other courses are closed too (as I type this), and my blog strategy has changed as well. This is a bit risky as I have a working model that makes good money, but transition is important, and I’m personally ready for a change. I enjoy experimenting, I’m an entrepreneur after all.

How You Can Make A Good First Impression With Your Blog

I don’t know what your specific goals are, but I do know all blogs need a tool that gives a good first impression.

EJ is nearing it’s seventh birthday so naturally there is a lot of content in the archives, plenty of which I could use to create a good “first impression” page.

That’s exactly what I did with the How You Can Start page. It speaks to the main goal most visitors to EJ have, it over delivers, it’s a complete A to Z solution and with the registration process brings people on to our newsletter.

Your blog may not be old enough that you have a wealth of content in your archives, but that doesn’t mean you can’t highlight your best work so far.

I recommend you do this using a “Start Here” page of some kind. Even just listing your top 10 articles so far, is a good beginning point.

It’s important that your entry page does the following –

If you have a free report, or video series, or something similarly comprehensive, your entry point may be that resource, in which case make sure every page of your blog presents that offer. This especially makes sense if you sell a product related to the resource, as you can use your email list to run people through a gauntlet (series of autoresponder emails) to pre-sell your product.

Ideally, do everything. Have an entry page that stands alone, and offer a free report and newsletter. This can take a while to build up, so take your time with it.

Presently EJ offers my two leading free reports, an email newsletter and the guide, but it has taken several years to create all these resources.

Use Fresh Eyes

I’ll leave you with one important piece of advice.

As soon as you start blogging on a regular basis with the intention of using your blog for business objectives you immediately begin to distance yourself from the most important group of people – your readers.

As someone studying how to blog and how to make money online you begin to see the “meta” behind everything and lose the frame of what it is like to just “be a reader“. This is natural of course, but unfortunately you also lose perspective on what your readers actually want.

It helps if you think back to a time before you knew what you know now and consider what you were thinking about, what your motivations were and how you looked at information online. I suggest you also seek input from others, review successful blogs and of course, ask your readers directly for feedback.

Knowing what kind of first impression to make is just as important as setting up the resources to do it, so don’t assume anything.

What Do You Think?

In the spirit of asking for feedback, once you have taken a look at the new How You Can Start page, I’d love your feedback on it.

Please leave your comment below and tell me what you think, in particular whether it meets your motivation for coming to this site.

Yaro Starak
Impressionator

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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47 Comments

  • Hi Yaro,

    Yep nice update to the blog. Much easier to find out info on “making money online” – which is pretty much the theme of your site.
    Yes traditional blogs are not designed very well for first time visitors and organizing posts by dates is not that useful unless your site is a news site (another trend – not dating posts). I have seen the trend around successful sites such as Steve Pavlina Home page or Copyblogger or SEOBook.com . These now look like web business with blogs. It is very easy to see what they want the user to do. I like the model.

  • Raj

    I am not sure if you should make it mandatory to include an email address to access that page, especially when new readers do not know what is there in that page. Maybe you can provide a list of topics that are covered there and then ask for people to subscribe to access them all? Or, you could make a pdf of all the articles and allow them to download it for casual reading after they register with their email address.

    • You login once to access the page and you don’t need to again, unless you use a different computer or clear your cookies.

      I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and the login lightbox explains what you get once you register.

      • Fred

        Yaro,
        Like the changes. But I was looking around at your new site and clicked on the login lightbox was stuck in loop for me. Even when I tried some of my other email addresses to try login as a new user, it kept prompting me. Btw while I was typing this I got an email indicating that I had just registered. Mmmmm I know I was registered, even paid for one of your courses. Maybe it was just my computer?

        • It could be because of your cookie settings.

          Test it on another computer or another browser and see what happens.

          • I’m having this same problem. I’m not clearing my cookies and I’ve tried multiple computers (mac and windows), browsers, and email addresses.

          • I’ll ask my tech guy to take a look for you Colby. He may get in touch for further information.

          • Hi Yaro, I just tried accessing the page and everything is working fine now. Thanks!

  • Many people are afraid of change. If their site is making money they don’t want to mess with it. I think change is good but, I may change things up too much and not give people to get use to my brand with a consistent appearance.
    Thanks for the great post.

  • Hey yaro I selected a niche rather a keyword “Affordable Website Design” and I am using WordPress to build my site that contains all web related services. The problem is I also started a blog and I Am getting readers. but they never ever convert to customers. Sometimes I feel why I am I giving away valuable information without any reason. Is my blog strategy for my web design services backfiring on me? Please suggest.

    • It’s hard to answer that question Rahul because there could be many reasons.

      I suggest you start asking for feedback from the group that counts the most – your current readers or “prospects”.

      Send them a survey or just ask in a blog post what they would be willing to pay for if you offered it.

      • ok I will try to do that. Thanks for d tip been a while since I talked 2 u. :)

  • Neil

    Page not found.

    • Comment needs further explanation :-)

    • Neil

      Ohh. I am sorry. I thought it was a temporary glitch. I click on the download button and I get the message “page not found”.
      I tried again this morning with the same result.I have already your “Blog Profits Blueprint”.
      I was expecting a new report.
      Now I am not sure what actually I am supposed to download.

      • Ahh, yes, we are working on a better looking PDF download of that page, so for the time being you will have to read it on the browser window.

        • Neil

          OK. Got it. Thank you.

  • Hi Yaro,
    I like what you have done with the design of your blog and do you think that changing the focus from “Yaro” to “EJ” will work in the way that you hoped it will.

    What I am saying is that many people, me included look up to you as a leader in the blogging industry. It’s you and not EJ so much that people like. Just curious to your answer.

    • Hey Justin,

      I agree with your comments. I think the transition away from me to EJ is working, in fact this will probably be the last time I mention it since most people won’t even realize what the difference is/was as time goes by.

      I also agree that I personally have a good brand and name as a teacher, which I don’t plan on wasting because I still enjoy writing, it just won’t be all about me which takes some of the pressure off and makes for something more sustainable long term.

      • I too was wondering the same. And to parlay on that question Yaro – are you finding other areas to tap into? Would be interested in what your outlook looks likes . . .?

        • I’ve been working on some new software which I’ve mentioned before called CrankyAds.com. It’s currently running the ads on EJ right now and will go public once we have ironed out the major bugs and got all the core features working.

          That’s my main focus now in terms of my immediate future, that and of course EJ.

          I’ll be writing a lot more about CrankyAds soon enough, I just don’t want to promote it heavily until I know the basic user experience is up to my expectations.

  • Wow, your guide is very impressive. Nice work Yaro!

  • Hi Yaro, I’m unable to see the Make money online page even after I registered and verified (the pop up keeps coming up).

    Jane.

    • Hi Jane,

      Can you give it a go on another computer or at least a different browser?

      I think cookies not being set may be what is causing the pop-up not to go away once you are registered.

  • Hey Yaro.

    I think the “How To Make More Money” page is looking great. Everything is very big and bold, which is great for holding peoples’ attention. I’ve noticed that a lot of websites are moving to the “big” design model (big text, big boxes, wide page layout), and I don’t think this is just some design fad. It actually makes a ton of sense when you think of it, because everyone is so overstimulated online that a page with lots of big elements has a better chance of holding attention than a site with tiny print, tiny graphics, etc.

    Also, I just had one question.

    One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is whether or not to stay with a free blogging service. I personally use wordpress, which is great for now because it offers pretty good free templates and lets you get started for free. However, I’m beginning to realize that over the long run, if my blog gets a big audience, I’m going to have a hard time monetizing it due to all the restrictions WordPress has in place on free blogs, and the fact that WordPress apparently takes part of your ad revenue. Eventually, I’m going to want to run my own site. Should I migrate now or later?

    • I suggest you migrate sooner rather than later, or consider upgrading to the wordpress.com VIP services, which I think gives you more control.

      Personally though, I think wordpress.org on your own server with your own domain is the way to go.

  • Hey Yaro
    I love your site and style and wish you well with the transition. You have to take risks to succeed and this one seems like a logical calculated risk – the best kind!
    Cheers
    Mark

  • You know guys a lot of people think that SEO is the key to success and they WERE true. However in Today’s time there is something emerging which is called SMO (Social Media Optimization) and that is where all the websites are heading. So if you wanna get good flow of organic traffic to website it’s important to optimize your website for Google+, FB and Twitter along with the standard SEO practices. After the Google Panda Update Good SMO is getting some active response.

  • Yaro, you’re right here (as you generally are on these matters!). I am still focusing on getting content onto my blog at this stage but already see the difference a good first impression can make. I asked a few friends to provide feedback on my initial efforts and the common denominator seems to be in favour of a more ‘website’ look. By this I mean a static home page with sufficient information to draw in new readers who will then progress to the regularly updated sections. I think this is the way forward and call this concept a ‘blogsite’ – the mechanics of a blog but the appearance of a website…but I’m not there yet!

    • Hey Andy,

      A word of warning when asking friends for feedback.

      They may well not be your target market or know your industry, or may have ideas of what kinds of website they think are “professional”, so don’t take what they say as fact.

      They give you indications of what to experiment with, but make sure you test things out on a real audience and do so looking at the metrics that matter to your goals.

      • Hi Yaro,
        Now that´s a good point, thanks for the tip. In my case the majority of my friends are my target audience, but nevertheless they do have disparate views on what is important in a website. I think in the end it´s up to us to decide and let´s face it, there´s always something to tinker with. I have now opened up my blog to around 120 new ´testers´ in a more diverse demographic so it will be interesting to see what feedback I get now. Small steps and all that, I am hoping to reach unique visitor number 100 today and that´s a milestone for me!

  • I would still prefer it to be an email course. Too much information on one page to me/

    • That’s why when you register you go on the EJ newsletter, which is a companion e-course that guides you through the most important content in the guide, and gives you action steps to take each email too.

      The best of both worlds :-)

  • Hi Yaro,
    I find your method is expensive to deploy compare with darren’s workbook where not much investment required. I still cant sense my confident in monetizing at the moment.

    As a beginner like anyone, i tend to evaluate the ROI and is at contant worry about traffics and quality of content.

    Yaro, Any advise for blogger in same situation as me ?

    -When is the right time to invest on email list ? (Aweber)
    -I’m still not getting enough traffic, does that mean its not a good time to invest USD19/monthly (i need to multiple X3.3 for malaysian ringgit)

    With this constraint, i find it difficult to progress as your method has recommended to build the list at early stage of blog life cycle.

    Therefore, i feel creating quality content is first pririty unless you can guide me how to start email list even with low traffics with 20 post.

    • Add to above msg,

      I’m working on changing my blog focus from quality, lean sigma to write about Habits. this mean i only have 3 post. Please advise based on you experience.

      Is this still worth taking your recomendation ?

    • I’m not sure what you mean by expensive to deploy – the page is free to access and the only things you need to pay for at the very least is a domain name and hosting – things Darren also recommends you do.

      Starting a list early is a good idea, but if your budget is tight, then yes, start with content creation. It might even be worth spending some time building an audience and work towards making $20 a month from advertising programs first, which you can then reinvest into your email list.

      It all depends on your constraints – what is hurting now? Cashflow? Then work on the quickest path to cashflow.

      Good luck!

      Yaro

      • Thanks for the tips Yaro, I would work on advertisement and create more content for traffic

  • Add to above msg,

    I’m working on changing my blog focus from quality, lean sigma to write about Habits. this mean i only have 3 post. Please advise based on you experience.

    Is this still worth taking your recommendation ?

  • M

    Thanks for the information. I just signed up. I am sure I will learn a lot. I will comeback with feedback

  • Angela

    Thanks!

  • Mir Imran Elahi

    Yaro,

    I like your new design, especially the footer part. It looks really
    nice. I am unable to see the Make money online page after verifying my
    email account. Good luck with your new brand. I’m sure it will be also
    very successful.

    ~Mir Imran Elahi

  • Very helpful and practical advice and I am looking forward to implementing it on my blog. Thanks!

  • Great article! With regard to using a blog to make a great first impression, any ideas how to make window installation interesting?

  • Hi Yaro,
    I was in the comment section of this post when found an interesting thing. I do agree what Justin had said about you “It’s you and not EJ so much that people like” and you replied very nice as well. I think EJ is a medium to find Yaro easily. Isn’t it ?

  • Leo

    It always seem so obvious when others point it out to you. My blog’s about a month old now, and of course the landing page takes you to the most recent article. I’ll be making this change asap. Thanks for the advice!

  • Yaro, I agree with you on your point about keeping focus. One thing I would like to add is an eye for the details. those who miss out small details on their homepage or blog lose readers and clients, because minor glitches shatter confidence in people.

  • I love your site and style and wish you well with the transition. You have to take risks to succeed and this one seems like a logical calculated risk – the best kind!

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