How to Start an Online Business With a Blog and Leverage SEO

  • Entrepreneurs told Insider that blogs were crucial stepping stones to building their business.
  • Among them are Tori Dunlap and Alexa Curtis, who have grown their brands from their blogs.
  • They share best practices for search-engine optimization and choosing the right blog platform.

Blogging helped Tori Dunlap find her voice.

She started posting weekly in 2016 to build a community of 20-something women, and she quickly realized her passion for sharing financial advice with the audience.

While the blog allowed Dunlap to earn revenue through affiliate links and brand partnerships, it also gave way to business opportunities like speaking engagements, financial-literacy courses, and a best-selling book.

Today, she’s the founder of the multibranch financial-guidance platform Her First $100K, which booked $4 million in revenue in 2022, according to documents viewed by Insider.

While blogging started in the 1990s and has taken various forms in the decades since, some entrepreneurs have told Insider it’s still a crucial stepping stone to building their business.

“The blog is the thing that supports your mission, that continues to prove your credibility and value to people,” Dunlap said.

Alexa Curtis, who started a blog when she was 12, agreed with Dunlap. Her blog morphed over nine years into a startup called GrasshopHer, a mentorship program for young women looking to learn more about career development.

But both Dunlap and Curtis said that because of the evolving online ecosystem, saturated blogosphere, and changing algorithms, it’s important for founders to use blogs in tandem with other platforms. Dunlap called a blog “a touchpoint,” versus a business model.

Dunlap and Curtis shared their tips for launching a blog, including leveraging search-engine optimization and choosing the right platform.

Follow strategic SEO practices to find readers

Alexa Curtis, entrepreneur and micro-influencer.

Alexa Curtis said it’s important for founders to use blogs in tandem with other platforms.

Alexa Curtis.

SEO is a key tactic for bloggers: It helps search engines like Google and Bing recognize, recommend, and rank your content for people searching the web. Dunlap said SEO should play into every aspect of a blog post, including the browser title, post title, URL, blog copy, and image captions.

“The easiest way to rank is to think about long-tail keywords,” Dunlap said.

Long-tail keywords are a way for you to differentiate your searches on popular topics. For example, the keyword phrase “how to save money” is already saturated, she said. But “how to save money 20-something woman” might be less crowded, more specific to her content, and more accurate for what searchers want to find.

Curtis said leveraging SEO was also a great way to increase your brand-partnership value.

“If a brand is paying me for a social-media post, I offer a sponsored blog post for an extra amount,” she said.

Most are willing to pay extra fees “because even the biggest brands need more SEO,” she added, and including their links in your blog posts will help boost their searches.

Choose the best platform for your needs

Curtis started her platform on Blogger, moved to Squarespace, and ended up on WordPress, where her blog, Life Unfiltered, now lives. She said Squarespace was the most user-friendly platform but that WordPress was easier to monetize.

Dunlap hosts her blog on Squarespace but agreed that WordPress has effective plug-and-play SEO tools, which can be helpful for nascent bloggers trying to generate an audience.

She uses Squarespace because of how easy it is to customize the design.

Dunlap said features like images should be included on all blog posts, with SEO-strategic captions.

After you find a blogging platform that works, the next step is to use outside social-media platforms to grow your reach. For example, Dunlap can turn popular blog topics into a podcast episode, TikTok video, and additional resources on its website, which creates a cohesive brand.