Nobody minds a little bit of extra money.
Maybe you are a student trying to grind your way through rent and trying to make some money on the side to get that new product you always wanted. Perhaps you are a working professional and trying to pump out some extra money for that vacation you have been planning.
We all have our own small reasons for earning some money on the side. This may have been the case in your family, ask your father, his dad, or anybody from the previous generations. Although nothing has changed significantly on the “want” front, a lot has changed.
Earlier people used to work extra time in shops, particularly fast-food outlets to make money, but thanks to the coming of the Internet you can start making money right now straight from your house with the luxury of sitting on your couch.
Blogging. Now you can easily start a blog and make money.
Blogging has taken the world by storm, by now, you must have come across someone who runs their own blog. Blogging has transformed itself from side hobby into unconventional career choices to a point where people are having six-figure incomes.
Between trying to make some extra money and acting as a platform to make millions, blogging has been an effective medium to make genuine money.
By this point in time, you must have thought at least once or twice about dipping your toes into blogging. Most of you must have also pondered on the question: how do you start a blog? But for some reason, you couldn’t muster all the excitement to go googling around the needed stuff.
If you have reached this point, I think it is safe to assume you fall into the category of people who want to know how to start a blog to make money. So I have good news and bad news. Let me start with the bad one first.
Reality is often disappointing.
It’s a tug of war between blogs out there. Especially with millions of blogs trying to woo millions of people who are quick to judge blogs and websites in a matter of seconds. If you are not able to keep visitors on your website long enough you won’t be able to make money. Since almost all the monetary methods possible involve their participation in some way or the other.
This is only made worse by the fact that if you start reading on the internet how to start your own blog, there are so many intricate details to take care of you will get submerged into the sea of different articles providing different views on how to do the smallest of things.
The good news: sure it’s a tough job to start a blog now. But with proper guidance and proper planning you can still rock your boat!
With the help of this article, I want to provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to start your own blog from scratch and start making money. You wouldn’t need to go anywhere else to know what is what, we have got you totally covered!
Let me present to you: the ultimate guide on how to start your own blog and make money.
How to Start a Blog and Make Money
Step 1: Choose Your Niche
You might simply dive into the question: how to start a blog and make money. But hold your horses for a while. Let’s start from scratch.
This is the make or breaks step. Not only because it is the first step, but because this step gives direction as to where you will focus your efforts. You don’t want to put all the eggs in the wrong basket, right?
Implementation: looking for themes and plugins is an important component of making a blog, but all that depends upon which audience you are targeting.
Every other blog usually falls into two categories: general or specific. General category usually have blogs like BuzzFeed which tend to cover every topic from sports to relationships. While specific categories usually try to target only a specific kind of audience like sports fans (ESPN) or political enthusiasts (ForeignAffairs).
So which type of blog should you choose?
While it is generally up to you to decide which niche or topic you feel comfortable with, my personal recommendation would be to stick to a niche blog. Running a blog focusing on different topics (aka general blog) might seem like the only intuitive thing to do, but it needs a lot of resources dedicated to that task. To stay up on everything you need to put constant updates across different niches which might lead you to want some extra writers taking a significant part of your budget.
Now how do we go about researching the specific niche fit for you?
Well, there are two ways: manually and using tools. While you can choose either one, my personal recommendation would be to go for both as you will get different perspectives for choosing your niche.
One of the important things you should know before answering the question: how to start a blog and make money, is your aim and your priority. This involves asking three main questions:
1. Where does my interest lie?
We all have our hobbies and interests. Some of us like football and some of us like cooking and so on. Our hobbies are what we do in our free time. Now assuming you are most likely to be a student or a working professional with restricted free time, you would most probably try to blog after college and office hours when you have time off.
How about fusing your hobby? We usually love to talk about the topic that interests us the most, using the same logic you will have a lot to write about in the long run.
Because one of the most important things you have to remember is that blogging itself is a very long process. You will most likely end up writing more than 50+ posts and it needs a lot of motivation to write that number of posts in the first place.
Also considering the fact that you make it big you will have to stick to this niche. You can technically start blogs in new niches once you will be known for your first blog that made you popular and you will still have to support it more or less. You will be better off choosing a topic which you can talk about even 5-7 years down the line.
2. Do I have sufficient knowledge in that topic?
As with regular communication, you can only convey your message to the other person if you are saying something interesting usually backed up by facts. You can still fool around with your friends and families, but with internet visitors, you have to make sure that you respect their time by offering them credible information.
This will only happen if you have some credible knowledge about the topic in mind. If you want to start a blog about cooking you should know all the basic know-how on what the general terms and processes are. Moreover, you need to make sure that you are providing your audience something new and exciting. Know all the trends in that domain.
Usually, both questions go hand-in-hand. People usually tend to have a lot of knowledge on the topic that interests them. My point is you have to put in a good amount of effort spread over a long period. There’s a chance you feel tired putting up content, but your interest in the topic can drive you to churn out extra content.
3. What is trending?
You can simply have a look over websites like Mashable and magazines to see what’s trending. I would say preferably what’s trending in your domain. Don’t worry about restricting your niche, in fact, micro-niche is what should be your concern.
I remember this one website TheWriteLife. Their niche covers content for freelance writers and now they are one of the authoritative blogs in that domain. You may sometimes find sub-niches being highly competitive.
For example, if you want to start a smartphone blog, you will see there are lots of categories from iPhone to Android. Let’s say you narrow down to Android, you will still find that there’s a lot of competition within that category as well. Some of the websites exclusively target companies like Samsung android phones and they have a respectable following of their own as well.
It’s always important to have some rough figures and estimates in the form of data. You might have a hunch going through social media articles about which type of topic is currently being talked about, but it is better to stay ahead of any uncertainty by putting a rough approximate ahead.
Both tools give you a rough approximate about the number of people searching for a certain given topic (or “search term”). With the help of Google trends, you will be able to know the search history pattern over a period of time and its interest in different countries and states. You also get suggested related search terms people are searching for.
With AdWords Key Planner you can find out the number of searches about a certain keyword and whether there’s competition for that search term or not. You wouldn’t want to target a keyword (or related niche) which has high competition as it will take a lot of effort to get to the top of the search engine from where you can drive traffic to your website. Similar to Google Trends you also get suggestions on other keywords of varying competition to choose from.
These are the free options available which do the job more often. But you can also go for advanced tools like Moz Keyword Planner which gives you advanced functionalities to select your niche.
As a rule of thumb try to go for a niche that at least has 1k searches.
Step 2: Do Keyword Research
Once you are done choosing the niche, preferably a sub-niche, my suggestion would be to select at least 10 keywords your blog should rank on. Traffic that comes from search engines can be easily monetized because these are the types of people who actually want to know about your content. After all, they have some queries and through Google’s search results came across your blog.
Every blog has at least a select few articles which bring in a good portion (more than 1/4th usually) of the daily traffic. If your articles rank well enough you are guaranteed a traffic stream every day and proportional revenue as well.
If you take a look at the Keyword Planner search, you can see that it suggested alternative keywords as well. You can make a list of at least 10 keywords and start writing articles on it.
You can even make use of advanced tools such as Semrush and Ahrefs for the same. Tools such as Semrush are paid, and you have to pay a monthly subscription charge starting from $100. But the information that the tool provides is much more comprehensive than that of Google’s.
You will get to know what keyword your competitor is targeting. You can consider your competitor well-known blogs in your niche. You want to rank above them on search engines.
You can even use the same method to find niche ideas as you will get much more detailed reports on keywords and especially non-competitive keywords which you can use in your posts to rank high in search engine result pages (SERPs).
Depending upon your budget you might or might not want to buy a subscription plan to a tool like that, but if you are planning to buy, my recommendation would be to get a subscription for a month or two because you won’t require the tool more than that. Once you have a list of keywords, you are good to go and won’t require the tool that often.
Step 3: Research Monetization Options
Before we start off making a blog it is crucial to know what are the different ways in which bloggers usually make money. Different blogs and websites use different types of monetization options: websites like BuzzFeed might go for a mix of banner ads + sponsored posts while some other tech blogs focusing on cases focus more on affiliate marketing. Here are the different type of ways on how to start a blog and make money:
By far, one of the widely used techniques people use to make money off their blogs.
It basically means you usually provide users with links of products to 3rd party websites. When they visit the link and do a purchase of the same product you get a commission fee.
One of the most popular affiliate programs is that of Amazon’s Associate program where you can place links of products on Amazon and include them in your posts so that you can make out of each sale done through your link. Considering they have lots of products to choose from no matter which product your niche deals in you will be able to find appropriate products and associated links to use in your posts.
The other traditional way people make money is by putting banner ads of different sizes across the website. Adsense has been the dominant player in this zone with other services like info links and share-a-sale also good options to choose from.
Most bloggers go for Adsense by Google; it has a certain reputation of its own. You get monthly payouts depending upon the number of people who click on your ads.
Digital and Physical Products
Under digital you can sell your own stuff as well, such as ebooks and courses. This usually is preferable once you have a good reader base to whom you can pitch your services. You can also make affiliate links by promoting software and subscription plans to different online tools.
Same goes for physical products, if you are a cooking based blog, you can sell associated tools and equipment. If you are not big of a brand you can make use of affiliate marketing and promoting top items through your website.
Step 4: Setup Your Website
Now it’s time for some action.
Hosting and Domain
Before we go on talking about how to choose host and domain, let me tell you first what those two terms exactly mean.
Hosting basically acts as an engine, an architecture of sorts that helps get your blog online. Choosing a good host is important because without a good host you can face downtime when your blog is offline and you as well as your readers and visitors won’t be able to access your blog. You certainly won’t like to leave a bad impression by doing that, right?
A domain is basically the name of your website. Google, TechCrunch, Mashable; these are all the names of the companies with similar website names. You can choose any domain you like. You can even choose the extension. No longer are you restricted to domains like .com and .net, now you have dozens of new options to choose from.
But my personal recommendation would be to stick to a conventional .com extension as you don’t want to make it tough for the readers to access your website. Especially when they are used to using .com extension for every other website out there.
So how do we go about hosting and selecting domain names?
Well, you can choose a domain name from a separate provider such as GoDaddy and hosting from a separate provider such as BlueHost.
Nowadays most of the hosting provider companies are also providing free 1-year domain support so that you don’t have to do the extra job of doing it separately. This makes your job easy and saves time and effort. In case you are planning to use different providers, it won’t be a problem as such because you can still incorporate both those things into once.
Gone are the days when creating websites needed technical knowledge. Companies have made the process of creating a website and the different processes involved in it from selecting a host to install any type of content management system like WordPress easy and straight-forward.
For example, taking Bluehost as example, once you visit their website you will be greeted with multiple options to choose from:
For now, shared hosting is more than enough. You wouldn’t require the rest two because these are usually for people with websites having heavy traffic flow.
Once you click on to the plan, you will be asked about the domain name:
Here you can either choose a new domain that your hosting provider usually gives you for free for one year. Or, you can use your own chosen domain. Both the steps are quite straight-forward. If you select “create a new domain”, it will check whether the domain you are searching for is available or not. Next, it will take you to create an account. Once you create your account and pay, voilà! Your website is ready!
Now it’s time to install WordPress.
You may think that a lot of time might get wasted on learning how to start a WordPress blog but as it turns out, it is quite easy.
Most of the hosting providers have made it easy to install WordPress by including 1-click install in their services.
Now you have to go to your Bluehost account and click on my sites.
Once you click on it it will ask you to enter your website’s name, which is usually your domain name and a tagline to go with it. The rest of the steps are quite simple; you just have to click next and let it install on its own. When you are done, you can access your WordPress website by typing: www.your-domain-name.com/wp-admin.
After you log into your WordPress website you will come across a panel which will look something like this:
Changing Themes and Plugins
The theme that you will be provided with will be very simple. You might want to change the theme so that it can appeal to visitors in a better way.
There are lots of premium theme marketplaces like ThemeForest where you will come across tens of hundreds of gorgeous looking themes. If you purchase any theme from a 3rd party vendor you will be provided with it in a zip file.
To make use of it:
- Go to Appearance Tab in the side panel.
- Click on Themes.
- Select Add New Button.
Here you will have a search functionality where you can search through all the free themes offered by WordPress.org. If you happen to like one of them you can simply click on install and you are done. If you want to upload the premium one you just bought, just click on the upload theme button to upload your zip file.
Along with themes, you can also increase your website’s functionality by making use of plugins. Plugins can help you increase your website’s load time, give you the ability to create good looking contact-forms, secure you from attacks, and so on.
To add a plugin the procedure is the same:
- Click on the plugin tab on the left-hand sidebar.
- Click on Add New.
- You can either search for free plugins available on WordPress.org marketplace, or you can upload your own 3rd party plugin you bought by uploading the zip file.
- You can also see the list of plugins you have installed by clicking again on the plugin tab and selecting Installed plugins.
Promote your Website
Now that you have a website on your hands it is time to put the word out that you have started a new blog.
The most common method applied for a very long time is guest blogging.
Now that you want to put the word out, one of the best ways is by generating awareness. With a guest post, you simply put your content out in an authority website and they in turn give you a backlink to your website. You can say it is more or less like putting up an ad in the newspaper, except that you are providing credible information to the authority website’s viewers as well.
One rule of thumb is to look for the top authority websites in your niche and try getting a guest opportunity there. If your niche is sports and you are trying to guest post on a blog which is based on fashion, you won’t get any viewers back to your website as their readers are interested in something else only.
By commenting on other people’s posts you can be a part of a community that works in the same niche. A crucial element of blogging is networking and if you want to attract visitors to your websites the best way to direct them is through the visitors of other highly ranked websites. These are the genuine readers and if you are able to strike a chord with them through comments not only you will have a good network of people who have the same interests but you will also drive quality traffic.
You can also make use of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. At the end of the day, it is about communicating with others, helping them, and asking whether they would be interested in checking out your blog.
Networking goes hand in hand with comments. In networking, you try to create new relationships and bonds with different people across the niche. From top experienced folks to people who have been in this niche for a couple of years.
It has multiple benefits. First of all, is that they can pitch your website across their social media handles if you have a good informative blog as they want to provide something useful to their readers. Second, you also get to know insider knowledge about how to do it big in blogging from the big-wigs. You can get to know what mistakes they got into and how to avoid that and if you get into some problems you will have people to help you out.
Most of the people who work in the same domain usually have a group of sorts such as a Facebook group where you will have a wider audience to whom you can pitch your blog. But be careful, most of these groups have a policy against posting spam and promotion. If you can provide something useful to someone’s queries, you can perhaps link your post (addressing the issue) in comments.
Step 6: Track your progress
For any task, it is important to have a sense of direction. To know where your blog is headed is an important task as it helps you to formulate your plan further.
Two ways to check whether your website is going in the right direction or not is through: traffic and sales.
For new blogs, probably traffic is one of the best measures to know about the growth. For the first week or so you might not get what constitutes a good daily traffic rate (like 500-1000 visitors per day), it will probably take months before you hit that level. But even if you are able to increase your daily visitors from 10-30, that itself is a big feat.
Since you will try to promote your website in different ways and do SEO to rank high up you would want to know whether your efforts have paid off or not. But beware, new blogs that rely solely on traffic stats are fine. But once your blog starts growing you need to take in multiple things into consideration like how fast your website is loading and is that affecting your blog’s bounce rate (number of second users stay on your blog post before bouncing off from your blog.
Once you grow your blog and it starts making money, a similar pattern you will come across like traffic. For the initial days, you might not make a steady stream of money or even any significant amount of money. But here it is rather important that you make progress over a period of time to know you are on the right track to start making money.
Step 7: Rinse and Repeat
If you have reached this point, my only suggestion now would be to continue in on your grind.
Rome was not built in a single day and the same goes for building blogs. There will be days when you don’t see any significant progress, but try to look at the big picture. Don’t restrict yourself to daily stats, instead, try to look at stats once in a week or month to know in general perspective where you are taking your blog.
As I said earlier, you have to stay consistent. This means you will have to put in effort over a period of time. It is okay not to feel motivated to blog some days, but you should be able to bounce back from that slump quickly. Choosing a niche that interests you can help you a lot with doing just that.
That brings us to the end of how to start a blog and make money.
Common mistakes to avoid when starting a blog
Now that you have reached this point, it is important to know what are the common pitfalls new bloggers usually fall into. Knowing what the common problems are can save you money and time looking for a solution to your problem.
1. Choosing a very competitive niche
As we said, selecting your niche is often a make or break decision. When you initially decide to start blogging, in excitement you might think that you can work it off with any niche, but you have to be a bit humble with your decisions.
You might get fixated on the question on how to start a blog and make money that you are not able to focus on small details such as choosing the right niche for you.
It is of utmost importance to know that with some niches you simply can’t target no matter how much effort you put in (unless you have a lot of money to put). If you don’t know whether the niche you chose is competitive or not you can ask people who are into blogging, I’m sure most of us would be willing to help you with your problems. After all, a good part of blogging is about networking with other people.
Also you are better off backing your expectations with data from tools like keyword planner which gives you a rough approximate from which you can plan and formulate things.
No matter which niche you chose, one thing in common: you have to be regular.
Think about this from the perspective of a user: if I am visiting your website for the first time I want information that is relevant to the current world. If you provide me with content which is outdated I wouldn’t care to spend time on your website at all.
Also, assuming you have your blog’s reader base you would want to provide them with new time to time content otherwise they will simply stop visiting your website.
Both the types of readers are important, converting visitors into regular readers has a lot of benefits, most important being it gives you the ability to make affiliate sales and use other forms of marketing. This dedicated group of regular readers is more likely to help you make money out of your blog.
On the other hand, regular posting also helps you rank higher up in search engines which you certainly wouldn’t want to miss upon.
3. Not Enough Marketing
When you start your blog from scratch, doing SEO, and getting ranked instantly is not possible. It is a timely process to show results in SERP (search engine result page). You will have to look for other ways to market your website.
Usually, people end up focusing much more on the SEO part forgetting there are other important aspects to promote and get visitors your blog as well.
My suggestion would be to not only depend on search engines. Try to diversify where your visitors come from. You never know where your next dedicated reader might come from. You should never restrict to only one source.
4. Focusing on Vanity Metrics
What would success mean to you in terms of your blog? What do you think will indicate progress while working on your blog?
While there are a lot of factors people usually look into, there’s a chance you might select the wrong set of parameters to base your decision on. For example, just only looking for daily traffic views is not advisable. Along with it you also have to look for bounce rate and for how long they are staying on your blog’s pages. Only then you will be able to know whether they are actually interested in your blog and its content or not.
5. Analysis Paralysis
This works hand in hand with the previous one. As I said, not to focus too much on one factor, it is equally important that you don’t end up focusing on way too many factors at once.
Analysis paralysis basically means you will get dumbfounded by different factors giving you different signals and not knowing what to do exactly. If you take in factors like the number of backlinks, daily pageviews, comments, and mash everything into once you won’t be able to get a clear picture of where your blog is heading. This will further stop you from making an effective decision, or for that matter, any decision at all.
Blogging is one of those amazing activities which is equally hard and easy at the same time. Easy because the steps are quite straightforward. Hard, because you need to know the correct way to run your blog without which all your efforts might go futile.
So with this post, I wanted you to provide a comprehensive article on how to start a blog and make money so that you don’t have to roam all around the Internet to know all the basics.
Wishing you a happy blogging journey ahead!