Starting your own blog can be a way of making money online as well as teach you valuable skills.
If you are thinking of starting a blog but don’t know how to go about it, I’m going to share everything you need to know about launching, growing, and monetizing one.
We’ll cover things like how to choose a topic, how to set up as well, and I will share some tips that will go a long way in making the process of starting a profitable blog seamless.
Before I start…
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It’s helped me earn over $300,000 in the last 12 months alone:
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How To Make Money From Blogging
4 steps to start a blog and make money
That is exactly what I’ve done in writing this guide: I have broken down the process of starting a blog into a series of actionable steps.
I don’t go deep into the details of how to execute each step and you may need to consult other resources where there is an information gap.
With that out of the way, here are the steps to take to start a profitable blog:
Choose the Right Blogging Niche (a Profitable One)
Most people starting out think they need to have an “original” idea that no one else has written. However, chances are if you dig around in a search engine everything has been written about, sometimes a lot (the topic of starting a blog, for example, has tons of guides written about it).
You encounter this problem when writing an ebook too.
This may come as a surprise but being original is not the point because if you find a topic that many successful blogs are covering, it means that it is a marketable title.
On the other hand, if no one is writing about a topic, it probably means it will be difficult to make money from it.
In any case, people want a blog that is well-written that they can connect with. Your unique perspective will be your unique selling point in the marketplace.
When choosing a topic, there are a few things you should pay attention to:
- Find a topic you know about. You should blog about something you know about. There’s no point starting a blog about something you have no idea about because it will become obvious and you will lose credibility, and your audience.
- Find a niche you enjoy learning about. Creating a successful blog will take time, so you should go for a topic you can write comfortably for a long time before it starts making money because it may take months or years before you start making money blogging. In the beginning, if you are writing something you enjoy writing about, you won’t mind it not making money because it won’t feel like a chore. Besides, if you are passionate about what you are writing, your enthusiasm will come across and your readers will resonate with your content.
- Find a topic you can monetize. If you want to make money with your blog, you should find something that will make money. You should pick a topic that has products or services you can produce on your own or promote other peoples’. A monetizable idea is typically one that answers the question “What Common Challenges Do My Readers Face?” with solutions you will offer.
Choose a Name For Your New Blog
The ideal name for your blog is something that is memorable, relevant to the blog topic, short, and available as a domain name (a domain name is the name that appears in your URL).
If your blog name can also be its domain name, that will be perfect.
For example, if your blog is called “The Best Pool Tables,” it would be perfect if the domain name is thebestpooltables.com. This makes it easier to locate your blog both for the search engines and readers.
As you find a name for your blog, ensure that the domain name is available.
Choose a web hosting service
Having picked a domain name, choosing a host is the next step in the process. A host is the service provider that will house your blog/store it.
You can choose a free service and create a blog at WordPress.com or Blogger.com.
But, if you want to create a blog that gives you credibility and looks more professional, buy a self-hosted domain.
It not only makes your blog appear more authoritative, you also have more control over it and can customize it.
Most hosting services also give you the option of buying your domain name (you can still do it separately from your web hosting). It won’t cost much and it is convenient.
Buying hosting services is the only part where you will pay money (unless you hire a developer to customize things for you in later steps). The good news is that hosting is not costly.
There are multiple hosting plans available. Examples are shared hosting, dedicated hosting, virtual private server hosting, cloud hosting, and managed hosting etc. They get more expensive as the number of features increase.
As a beginner, getting the basic shared hosting plan will suffice.
Build Your Blog
This is the part where you get your hands dirty. The process shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes (you can always change some of these settings later). So, how do you build your blog?
Install a CMS
This step involves installing your content management system (CMS), which in this case, will be WordPress.
What are some options for CMS to use on a blog? There are other options like Joomla and Drupal but WordPress will do just fine here.
To install WordPress, you will use your control panel (or c-panel). Type yourdomain.com/cpanel (type the name of your domain name instead of “yourdomain.com”) in your browser, log into the control panel, and once you are in, click the WordPress Installer.
The installation process is straightforward and after you are done, you will be provided with a WordPress username and password that you’ll use to log into your blog as an admin. The log in credentials here are different from the ones you used to enter the c-panel.
To log into your self-hosted WordPress blog as an admin to access the dashboard, type yourdomain.com/wp-admin into your browser (use your domain name in place of “yourdomain.com”).
This is how you access the dashboard and from here, you can customize your blog.
When you build a website with a content management system, you will need to install plugins from the WordPress marketplace or from safe sources online.
A plug-in is software that adds new features to the website. A plug-in will serve many useful purposes in your blog.
For a blog, here are examples of plugins I highly recommend because they will prove invaluable:
- UpdraftPlus: It is a free site backup plugin that manually backs up your blog. It can periodically backup your blog if you schedule regular backups.
- Yoast SEO: It helps you optimize your blog for search engine visibility. For example, it allows you to change a page’s meta description (the brief description you see under a web page in Google results). Yoast SEO has a free version that will increase the chances of your blog posts showing up higher in Google search results for your search terms.
- Ninja Forms: It is a form builder plugin that enables you to create all kinds of forms such as simple contact forms, event registrations, and more.
- WP Super Cache: It makes your site load faster by creating a “cache” of a lot of information that visitors frequently request from the servers. Therefore, WordPress doesn’t have to extract that data from its database every time someone opens a page.
Install a Theme
A theme changes the appearance of your blog, which means that you don’t need to be a web developer or programmer to adjust the look of your website. You can customize your blog’s appearance by choosing from a wide range of themes.
There are a couple of WordPress themes to chose from. Always download your theme from a trusted source if not WordPress’ own market place (WordPress.org) because the internet is full of malicious actors and they always tend to target WordPress.
Your theme should be from a secure, trusted source if not WordPress’ own marketplace.
One of my preferred sources for themes is MyThemeShop.
As a beginner, a free theme will suffice but that shouldn’t stop you from spending if you find a paid theme that pleases you.
Choose a theme that doesn’t ruin the user experience. How can a theme ruin user experience you ask?
A theme can slow down your website if it is too resource intensive. For that reason, keep it simple and light.
In this step, you create the main pages of your blog that provide basic information on what your blog is about. You can create pages titled “about”, “contact”, etc. to show your readers what your blog is all about.
You can always create them later but having the fundamental pages that describe what your blog is about, who you are, and shares your contact details should come first.
The Ninja Forms plugin will help with the creation of a “contact us” page.
Later on, once your blog has grown, you can create a sitemap or a “Start Here” page to show visitors which posts they should read first to ensure that they don’t feel overwhelmed.
Publish your first blog post
To write your first blog, go to posts in the dashboard and click “add new.”
How to Write Great Content
Now that your blog is up and running, here are a few things you should do to enhance your search engine rankings to get more traffic. The more visitors you get, the more likely you are to make money from your blog in the long run.
Edit Your Work Before You Post
Go through your work before you publish to ensure your blog posts don’t have typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors.
As you write your first draft, you will make inevitably mistakes and editing helps you catch these before you publish.
When your article has grammar and spelling errors, you damage your credibility and that can tank your ranking on search engines as people stop reading your work.
To help you catch mistakes, you can use the Grammarly extension. It is free but you can buy the premium version for a more detailed analysis of work.
Use Images Appropriately
There is no hard rule when it comes to inserting images into your posts.
But bear in mind that if you use more images, the page will take longer to load.
To be on the safe side, use images that enhance your content or illustrate a point.
Write Blog Posts With A Clear Message
Since your blog is communicating with the reader, you should make your blog post as concise as possible. Each post should have a clear purpose or theme.
To help with that, think of your post as answering a question that your readers have. This could be a question like “how to learn chess” or “how to bake a cake.”
If you create posts that answer people’s questions your readers will trust you and see your blog as an authority on a topic.
That being said, you can create a blog that serves as entertainment and doesn’t try to answer some defined question. Your approach with that one should be different.
In any case creating a blog content strategy will provide clarity in such situations.
Don’t Focus Too Much on the Length
You may be wondering, “How long should my blog posts be?” “Is there a sweet spot when it comes to word count?”
It may sound counterintuitive at first but you should pay less attention to those questions and focus more on how your post will serve its purpose.
If the post serves its purpose, let the length take care of itself.
Don’t make your posts too long that you wander off-topic or too short that you exclude crucial information just to reach some target wordcount.
If you can fulfill your goal with fewer words, go with that. If you need to flesh out your material a bit more and need to write thousands of words, it’s fine.
Make your Content Evergreen
If you are writing about current events, you have to keep updating the website and it will be tiring. Therefore, you should steer clear of such kinds of content as you are starting out (unless that’s what you truly want).
You will have an easier time writing posts that are “evergreen.” That means that the content will remain relevant for years only needing a few tweaks here and there over time.
Another cool thing you should do is create posts that are related to each other (and link them to each other) like you see on Wikipedia to create a web of information that will last a long time.
Optimize Your Blog for Search Engines (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization or SEO refers to a series of adjustments you make to your website and content to show up higher in Google search results.
There are other search engines, but Google is the most dominant one and the one worth caring about the most.
The world of SEO is full of charlatans who offer bad advice or advice that doesn’t work.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed, just focus on creating the best content that people find helpful and Google will reward you because, ultimately, it wants to showcase the best information to its users.
That being said, there are a few techniques you can implement to make it easier for Google to index your content and show it to people. That’s what SEO is meant for.
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources you can find online from credible people.
Note that even when you are new to the trade, you can separate an authoritative actor from someone who doesn’t know what they are doing just based on how they explain SEO.
Format your Posts Correctly
You should format your posts well to make it easy to read on all devices.
A lot of users access the internet with their phones so you have to make your blog easier to read on a small screen. For example, don’t insert too many unnecessary images that they have to scroll through.
To format your posts correctly, keep your sentences short, use subheadings, use lists, and create paragraph breaks.
Insert External Links to Authority Sources
An authority website is a site that is trusted by its visitors, industry experts, other websites, and by the search engines.
As you write content, you will stumble across a concept that you don’t know enough about.
In this case, you should guide your readers to an authority website that does a better job explaining the concept by linking to it (just as I did in the beginning of the previous paragraph by guiding you to another website that explains what an authority website is in greater detail).
By adding those external links, you build credibility and your readers will trust that you have their interests at heart (you want them to have access to the best information).
Besides, when you cite your sources, you avoid plagiarism, which can put you in serious trouble legally.
Don’t Deviate From The Main Theme of The Blog
As your blog gains traction, don’t write posts that are unrelated to what it is known for or that deviate from why you started the blog in the first place.
You may get away with it if you go about it in a clever way but it is too much trouble and it is not worth the effort.
You may be tempted to capitalize on your growing popularity to branch out and start writing about something else within your blog but that is ill-advised because it can disorient your readers.
The reader in most cases only cares about what you know about a certain topic and they will keep coming back if you focus on what brought them to you in the first place. Google knows this too and prefers to rank websites who can prove they are an authority on a topic.
If you genuinely want to branch off and start writing about something else, why not start other blogs and tell your readers about them.
How to Monetize Your Blog
As you start your blog, don’t do it with the goal of making money. Focus on creating great content and building an audience first. Then when you have that handled, you can start selling things to them.
Blogging can be a way of making money so here are three ways to make money blogging:
- Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing refers to an arrangement where you recommend someone else’s product or service and you get paid for that. When your visitor clicks the designated link that directs them to the product page where they make a purchase, you earn a commission.
- Advertising: With a Google AdSense account, you can place ads on your blog and get paid when people click on them. Alternatively, you can write sponsored posts and get paid for promoting products directly.
- Selling Products: You can create a merch store where you sell physical products like branded items or digital products like an eBook, online courses, and workshops. By the time you start thinking of selling merchandise, you should have grown your blog significantly to justify the investment.
There are many ways you can monetize your blog and these are just the most popular ones. The main advantage of having a blog that generates money is that it is easy to scale and you earn passive income. Our article on best affiliate programs can also give you some ideas on how to monetize.
However, be careful that you don’t let making money become the focus of the blog because people will sense that and start running for the hills!
Free Tips to Enhance your Blog
Add Domain Privacy Protection
As you chose your domain name and host, consider adding “Domain Privacy Protection.”
Adding domain privacy protection is something you have to pay for but that you should add to your domain.
What happens if you don’t?
Anyone can go to WHOIS and look up the name, address, and phone number you used to register the domain. If they are a spammer, they will bombard you with all kinds of crap and it can be worse if they want to harm you.
Besides, you don’t want that kind of information being out there accessible to anyone.
Use an SSL Certificate
Don’t forget to activate the free SSL certificate you will most likely get from your host. An ssl certificate adds an extra layer of protection.
When you install an SSL certificate, your domain name becomes “https://yourdomain.com” and not “http://yourdomain.com”.
That extra “s” at the beginning means your site is trustworthy and safe because your readers will see a small padlock icon next to your URL in the browser:
Without SSL, visitors may see a message that says “Not Secure” (or your connection is not private) which you don’t want because it erodes trust.
On top of that, Google cares that your site is secure. It says, “you should always protect all of your websites with HTTPS, even if they don’t handle sensitive communications. Aside from providing critical security and data integrity for both your websites and your users’ personal information, HTTPS is a requirement for many new browser features.”
You can expect it to reward sites that comply and punish those that don’t in the search result ranking.
Fortunately, most hosting services include an SSL certificate for free (when you first buy the service) and they’ll even install it for you.
Add a Featured Image to your Posts
You should add a Featured Image to each post you publish.
The featured image will be displayed at the top of your post. It will also show up when people share your post on social media.
Luckily, there are free blog photo resources you can use if you don’t have enough money to spend on stock photos or taking your own pictures for your blog articles.
Be careful with the file size of the images too. You can use Plugins like Shortpixel to reduce image sizes so it has less strain on your server resources and doesn’t slow your website down.
If your blog grows, you should consider creating categories for your posts to make it easier to keep track of everything you’ve published.
Categories are like sub-themes of your blog that keep your posts organized by general topic.
Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Blog
How much does it cost to start a blog in 2023?
If you are starting a blogging business in 2023 you can do it for free or for a cost, depending on the platform and services you use.
If you don’t want to spend a dime, you can start your “domainname.wordpress.com” blog for free with free themes and you will still be able to publish your work.
There are various blogging platforms available that offer different features at varying costs. Free options will have limited functionality and storage space and little room for customization, but premium packages come with more features such as domain name customization, hosting services and other amenities.
In the end, how much you spend starting a blog depends on what features you require and how much time and effort you’re willing to invest in creating content.
Do I have to pay taxes on my blog income?
Yes, you may have to pay taxes on your blog income but that depends on your country’s tax code.
Tax requirements vary significantly from country to country so you should research local regulations if you start making money with your blog.
Besides, if your blog earnings exceed a certain amount, you may have to register as a self-employed individual and pay taxes accordingly.
How much do successful bloggers make?
It is almost impossible to mention a specific dollar amount that successful bloggers make as income potential varies greatly based on the popularity of the content.
However, at the top, major bloggers earn millions of dollars per year. You can make a lucrative blog in the long-term if it is well-managed and regularly updated with engaging content.
Before you leave
If you’re tired of scams and want a real solution for making money online check out my no.1 recommendation.
It’s helped me earn over $300,000 in the last 12 months alone:
(This is a 100% free training)