So, you’re thinking about starting a blog? Here’s the deal: You don’t need to be a tech wizard or have a fancy writing degree to make it happen. And yes, you can still start a blog and make money in 2023. Good money, too!
While blogging can feel a little overwhelming at first, if you stick with me I’ll walk you through the basics of getting started. From deciding what you want to talk about to getting your blog up and running, with step by step instructions and screenshots to make sure you understand each step.
So many “how to blog” posts are SO LONG and complicated. I want to simplify it for you as much as possible. Ready to dive in?
Choosing a Blog Niche & Name
When you start out, one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make is picking your blog niche and deciding on a name for your blog. But no pressure, right? Ha. Let’s break it down and make it a little less overwhelming.
Pick Your Niche:
- Passion: At the heart of every successful blog is genuine passion! Think about what topics light you up, what you could talk or write about for hours. Is it travel? Cooking? DIY crafts? Personal development? Make a list of topics you’d love to write and share about.
- Market Demand: Passion is vital, but if you want to make money blogging, you need to consider market demand, too. What are people looking for more information about? It may be hard to think in this way, but think about it for a second. A blog in the “budgeting for stay at home moms” niche might do better than a “guinea pig hats” niche, right? (Although guinea pigs in hats do sound cute!)
- Monetization: Consider how you want to monetize your blog and the options for your different niche ideas. Monetization for blogs includes ads, affiliate links, creating online courses, selling digital products, or even setting up an online store related to your niche. Some niches are more lucrative than others, so consider how you might monetize in the future. We’ll talk more about this in a bit, but pretty much any blog can be monetized!
Name Your Blog:
- Reflect Your Niche: The blog name should hint at the content. For example, it’s a travel blog, having words like ‘journey’, ‘voyage’, or ‘adventure’ make sense.
- Keep it Short: Short, catchy names stick. Remember, this is the name people will type into their browsers, so keep it intuitive.
- Avoid Tricky Spellings: Unique is good, but if your blog name is hard to spell, people might struggle to find you.
- Domain Availability: Before you get too attached, check if the domain name (the web address) is available. Here’s a domain checker.
- Aim for a .com: While many domain extensions are available, .com is still the most recognized and trusted. It’s a great way to add professional polish to your blog and avoid confusion. If the .com is taken, I usually choose a different domain name rather than a different extension.
Setting Up Your Blog
Getting your blog set up is a little techy, but before your eyes glaze over and you think of abandoning ship, hang tight. It’s way simpler than you might think. I’m going to help you through it step by step.
Should You Sign Up for A Free Blog?
The allure of free blogging platforms is strong. No start-up costs sounds tempting, here’s the thing: if you’re serious about blogging to make money, free platforms will severely limit you. They often restrict ads, affiliate marketing, and selling your own products. Or at least make it harder.
More often than not, bloggers who start on free platforms move to a paid platform, which can be a pain once you already have posts up. Plus, with free blogging platforms, you don’t truly “own” your space on the web. So, for long-term goals and more control, it’s a wise idea to skip the free platforms.
Don’t worry; you can totally start a blog on a budget! Let me show you how.
Sign Up for a Webhost and Register Your Domain
Diving into the world of blogging can feel like learning a new language, with terms like “webhost” and “domain” thrown around. But don’t worry, we’re going to break it down so it’s as easy as pie.
First, some quick vocabulary to get out of the way:
- a Domain is your websites address. For example, “google.com” is a domain. It’s the address users type into their browsers to visit your site.
- a Web Host is a service provider that stores and serves website files to users on the Internet, allowing websites to be accessible online.
- WordPress is a software that you install on your domain, through your webhost, to easily create, design, and manage your website or blog.
When it comes to web hosts, I always recommend Site Ground. I’ve used them for years and have had a really good experience. Plus, their plans are affordable for those who don’t have a large budget.
Sign Up with SiteGround:
- Click here and choose the “StartUp” plan.
This is the cheapest plan, especially if you prepay for 12 months. It’s SO much cheaper, and gives you a full year to grow your blog before paying any more fees.
- Register your domain.
- Finish Checkout.
Once you’re set up with SiteGround as a host, it’s time to install WordPress.
Installing WordPress on SiteGround:
1. Log into your SiteGround account
2. Click on “Websites” along the top then click “New Website”
4. Click “Exisiting Domain” and then select the domain you just registered from the dropdown. Click “continue”.
5. Select “New Website” then “WordPress” and enter your email address and a password you want to use to log in to your new WordPress blog/website.
6. Last step! Decide if you want to add Domain Privacy or Site Scanner. If you do, click “add”. If not, just click “Finish”
Congrats! You’ve officially installed WordPress! 🎉
It will now take you through a super simple setup process where you’ll pick your theme (design), add any free plugins you think you might want, and log in.
And that’s it! You’ve officially set up your own piece of the internet.
Welcome to the world of blogging!
From here, it’s a good idea to click around and get to know WordPress. You can play around with the design, edit the homepage, etc. Just take some time to explore it!
It may feel a bit confusing at first, but I promise as you use it, it’ll get much easier.
I won’t get too much into detail on exactly how to use WordPress here, but I recommend you check out these:
- Intro to Site Editor Tutorial (quick video on how to navigate and change things)
- Getting Started with WordPress (free course showing you what you need to know to start using WordPress)
Blog Theme & Design Tips
Even though you picked your theme when you set up WordPress, you can change it later if you want a different layout and style.
Below are some tips about blog design since that’s the first thing most people start playing around with.
- Keep it Simple: Especially when you’re starting, less is more. A clean and uncluttered design lets your content shine and makes it easy for visitors to navigate.
- Choose a Readable Font: It might be tempting to go for that whimsical script font, but always prioritize readability. Stick to basic fonts that are easy on the eyes.
- Use Consistent Colors: Pick a color scheme and stick with it. Two or three primary colors that resonate with your blog’s theme. Consistency gives a professional look and feel.
- Check Design on Mobile: Ensure your design looks great on all devices, especially mobile phones. A significant portion of readers might visit your blog from their phones.
- Easy Navigation: Your readers should be able to find what they’re looking for effortlessly. Include a clear menu and a search bar, and consider adding categories or tags.
- Get Feedback: Ask friends or family to browse your blog and provide feedback. They might spot something you missed!
Remember: While playing around with designs is fun, don’t get stuck trying to make everything perfect. You want to focus on content, not spend hours playing with the design of your blog. As your blog grows, you can always tweak and refine it.
Create Content that Drives Traffic
Two of the most important things for your blog are content and traffic. Your content (aka blog posts) is going to be the best way to drive traffic to your blog. So, how do you ensure people find their way to your blog?
Here are the basic steps to creating good content that will help drive traffic:
SEO and Keyword Research
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is key to getting your blog to appear on Google when people search for related topics. The best way to do this is by doing keyword research for your posts to find keywords people are searching for that don’t have much competition. Then, you can write posts based on these keywords.
If you’re totally new to SEO, check out this free basic SEO course for beginners.
The simplest way to start keyword research is to go to Google and start typing. It will pop up suggestions based on what people are searching for. This will help you come up with keywords and phrases people are searching for. The only thing is, you can’t see how many people are searching or how the competition is.
Using a keyword tool can be extremely helpful, but most of them cost a bit of money.
Here are some options in the free and paid categories for you to take a look at.
Free Keyword Research Tools
Low Cost Keyword Research Tools
Keyword Tools I Use
- RankIQ: Provides lists of low-competition keywords for hundreds of niches. Then guides on what topics to cover, etc. Does a lot of the work for you, you just write!
- UberSuggest: Allows me to input keywords and gives more options, lets me see my competitions keywords, etc.
- Keywords Everywhere: Chrome extension that shows keyword info like, volume and competition, automatically anytime I search in Google.
If you want to really get into SEO, I highly recommend the Stupid Simple SEO course. I reference it often when I’m working on my own blog.
Write Quality Blog Posts
Once you understand SEO and have a list of keywords for your posts, it’s time to start writing! Yep, most successful bloggers spend the majority of their time writing posts, and if you want to build a profitable blog, it should be your main focus too.
Even though you want to ensure that Google search picks up your posts, remember that there’s a real person behind every click, share, or comment. And they’re not just looking for keyword-stuffed articles; they’re searching for genuine value. This means while SEO is vital, the quality and value of your content is even more important.
Tips for writing quality blog posts
- Show Authenticity: People resonate with real stories and genuine advice. Be yourself, and let your unique voice shine through your posts.
- Provide Solutions: Many readers come to blogs looking for answers. Whether it’s a how-to guide or life advice, ensure your content provides solutions to your target audience.
- Create Structure: Use headers, bullet points, and short paragraphs. This makes your content reader-friendly and easily scannable.
- Go Above and Beyond: Give all the information your reader may need and then some. Answer their questions before they realize they have them. Show that you’re a true authority in your niche.
Promote Your Content
Having great content is only half the battle. The next step is making sure it reaches as many eyes as possible!
Here are some of the best ways to get people to your content:
- SEO: We already discussed this. Finding and using relevant keywords people are searching for is a great way to drive traffic.
- Pinterest: People group it with social media, but it’s more like a visual search engine. Pinterest can drive massive traffic to your blog! It’s my second traffic driver after Google.
- Email Lists: Start collecting email addresses and building an email list. Keep your readers updated by sending newsletters or a simple alert any time you post something new can drive traffic and keep them engaged with your blog.
- Social Media: While platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can help drive traffic, I often find that the three methods above are worth your time and effort. Pick one or two max, and be really intentional about how you use them.
If writing blog posts is the thing successful bloggers spend most of their time on, promoting content is next in line. What good is having quality content if no one can find it? Figure out a few ways to drive traffic and go all in on those.
10 Ways to Make Money with a Blog
Once you start to see some traffic, you can start monetizing your blog! Remember, blogs are a long game. Growth is slow initially, but once you see results, it can become a great income. Below are some of the best ways to make money with a blog.
- Affiliate Marketing: Promote products or services for other companies. You earn a commission when someone makes a purchase through your referral link. Popular affiliate programs include Amazon Associates, ClickBank, and ShareASale.
- Ad Networks: Putting ads on your blog is an easy way to make money. But I’d argue it’s not the best way for all blogs. I personally tried ads and prefer to make money other ways as they slowed down my blog. But with the right niche, like a food blog, ads can be a huge source of income. Once you have enough traffic, you can join an ad network and get paid based on the number of views or clicks these ads receive.
- Sponsored Posts: When you start to gain a following, companies will pay you to write and publish articles promoting their products or services.
- Selling Digital Products: One of the best, most profitable ways, to make money with a blog is to sell eBooks, online courses, printable guides, etc. These can be related to your blog’s niche and provide additional value to your readers.
- Offering Services: Use your expertise to offer services like consulting, coaching, writing, design, etc.
- Memberships or Premium Content: Charge readers a monthly fee to access exclusive content, webinars, or an online community.
- Online Workshops and Webinars: Host live sessions on topics you’re an expert in. Charge attendees a fee for the knowledge and experience you share. You can even repurpose these and sell the recordings after the fact.
- Sell Merchandise: Create and sell merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, or tote bags related to your niche and link to them, or add your own banner ads, to your blog. Print on demand platforms like Printful or Teespring can make this easy
- Accept Donations: If you’ve built a loyal readership who finds value in your content, platforms like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee allow them to support you monetarily.
- Flipping Blogs: One fun, less common, way to make money with a blog is to start a blog, grow its traffic and revenue, and then sell it at a profit. Websites like Flippa facilitate the buying and selling of online businesses. You can often sell it for 12x-24x it’s monthly revenue. That means if your blog is making $1,000/month, you could sell it for $12,000-$24,000!
Diversifying your income streams is crucial, especially if you hope to make blogging a full-time income. As your blog grows, you can experiment with different monetization methods to see what resonates best with your audience and brings you the most profit.
Tips for New Bloggers on Monetizing Your Blog
- Start Right: The best first step for new bloggers is choosing a self-hosted blog. While free platforms are available, going self-hosted is the best choice if you’re serious about monetizing.
- Niche Matters: Selecting the right blog topic or specific niche is the most important thing. It ensures you attract a dedicated readership and can monetize effectively. Make sure it’s something you want to spend a good chunk of your time researching and writing about!
- Content is King: Regularly upload new content. The easiest way to keep readers coming back is by offering fresh and valuable blog content.
- SEO is Essential: Get familiar with search engines and how they work. Optimizing your content ensures better search results, driving more page views.
- Analyze and Optimize: Use Google Analytics to track your performance and understand your audience, page views, and how users interact with your content.
- Monetize Slowly: There are various ways to earn. Display ads can be a good for some blogs, but usually requires a lot of traffic to make a good amount. Writing product reviews and linking to affiliate products can be a great way to earn more, and so can selling your own digital products.
- Guest Posts & Collaborations: Writing guest posts for other blogs or inviting others to write for yours can increase visibility and page views.
- Use Social Wisely: While social media can drive some traffic, make sure it’s worth your while. Pick one, MAYBE two platforms, and keep those social media accounts updated.
- Engage with Readers: Incorporate a contact form on your blog. Good customer service is essential for building trust. Regularly interact with your readers through comments and emails.
- Start an Email List: Start email marketing early! This is one of the best options for direct communication and promoting new posts or services. Think of it this way, when someone visits your blog and leaves, you can never contact them again about new posts. If you have an email list and they subscribe, you can continue to provide them with posts and info that serve them.
- Be Patient & Consistent: Here’s the good news — you can make a lot of money blogging! But it requires a lot of hard work and dedication, especially in the first year. If you’re in it to win it, keep at it. Go in knowing you may work for a year before you see any income.
- Keep Learning: Stay updated with the latest in blogging trends and keep learning new ways to improve your writing, marketing, and business skills.
Hopefully, you’ve found this step-by-step guide to starting and making money with a blog helpful! Remember, in your blogging journey, good luck isn’t just chance. It’s the result of hard work and sticking with it long enough to see real money.
While most blogs won’t earn a million dollars a year, earning a few thousand dollars a month is totally achievable once your blog is established!