How to start a blog (and make money) in 6 easy steps:
The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog and Making Extra Money
- Choose a blog name and niche of your blog
- Get your blog online (web hosting)
- Design your blog with a free WordPress theme
- Write your first blog post
- Promote your blog and get readers
- Earn money with your blog
Many people asking questions that:
- What is a blog?
- Should I start a blog?
- Can I start a blog without technical expertise?
- Is it still possible to make money with a blog nowadays?
- How much does it cost to start a blog in 2022?
If you’re ready to take the leap and learn how to start a blog that can become a real source of income online, then let’s dig deeper.
1. Choose the name and niche of your blog
First, it’s time to choose a name and niche for your new blog.
The name of your blog is what readers will see first (such as daeravision.net) so ideally, it should represent the general topics you’ll be writing about, or it could be your name, that of your company, a clever combination of words, or otherwise.
Your blog niche is the general topic area on which you will focus your content. Examples include topics such as travel, food, fashion, lifestyle, technology, and others. Incorporating a word or two that indicates what your content is about, within your blog name (such as fashionbyjane.com or watchryanhike.com), will be very useful for future readers of your blog.
· What if I still can’t decide on the name (or theme) of a blog?
· What if the name I want to use isn’t available?
· Can I change the name of my blog later?
2. Get your blog online (web hosting)
The second step in starting a blog is to put it online. That’s what a web hosting company will do for you. In this step, you will select the blogging platform and web hosting plan that you will use to publish your blog online.
· What is web hosting?
· How much does web hosting cost?
· What is the best web hosting service to use?
The combination of blogging platform and web hosting that I use personally (and that most bloggers use) is a WordPress blog, hosted by Bluehost. WordPress is a free publishing platform that has been around since 2003 and now powers over 60% of all blogs on the internet. Bluehost is one of the most established and reliable companies in the blog hosting industry. This combination is what we will use to start your blog. Now, let’s set up your hosting.
Click Bluehost or qservers (if you are in Nigeria) to get started
First, you will select a hosting plan (then enter the name of your blog). I recommend choosing the Choice Plus plan because it comes with Domain Privacy, which will protect your personal information (your full name, email address, phone number, and home address) from being posted anywhere online.
The choice of your plan will look like this here. Just click on the green “Select” button on your plan of choice:
As I said earlier, I recommend choosing the Choice Plus plan, so that you get the Domain Privacy feature that will protect your personal information online, but any of these plans will work when you start your blog, and you can add domain privacy later during the checkout process for around $1/month.
Choose your blog’s domain name
Next, you’ll get to the page where it’s time to choose your blog’s domain name:
Once you get to this step in the checkout process, simply type in the domain name you’d like your blog to have.
If you want to perform a quick search to see if your domain name is available, you can do it quickly right here:
Check if your domain name is available:
Search for an available domain name: Search domains
If the domain name of your choice isn’t available, you can try another option you can think of, or (which I recommend) select the option to choose your domain name later after adjusting the rest of your account and taking a little longer to think about the name. Also, later in this guide, I expand a little more on how to choose the right name for your blog if you haven’t decided yet.
This is where you can click to choose your domain later (it’s a pop-up window that will appear if you hover over this page long enough or move your mouse to the top of the page):
After choosing your domain name or choosing to select it later, you will be taken to the final step of the registration process: creating your account.
Create your Bluehost account
Start by filling in your account details, such as your name, email address (it is very important to use an updated email address because this is where your login details and account information will be sent), and address. If you don’t want to enter your information manually, you can connect your Bluehost account with your Google account. Anyone works!
Select the right hosting package
This is where you’ll choose an account plan based on the price you want to set and how far in advance you’ll pay.
Please note that Bluehost only offers options for you to pay 1, 2, 3, or 5 years upfront. They don’t offer a monthly payment option (because most hosting companies that offer monthly payments tend to charge a little more). Still, with the plan you choose, the price turns out to be a great deal to start your blog and put it online today.
Which pricing plan is best to start a blog with?
I recommend choosing the “36 Month Prime Price” if you want to set the lowest possible price for your accommodation. That’s what I use. And it secures your blog hosting at its lowest rate (and gives you domain privacy) for the next 3 years. And because this low price for new customers only applies to the first payment you make, if you chose the 1-year plan, your price could increase after that first year.
That’s why, if you choose the 36-month plan, your prices will remain fixed at this rate for 3 years. For that reason, I recommend opting for the longest-lasting plan your budget can offer.
Choosing the right package extras (skip all but one)
I recommend keeping the Additional Domain Privacy Protection, but you can skip the rest. Later in this guide, I’ll show you the many free and cheap plugins and tools you can use for things like SEO optimization, extra security, and site backups, which makes most of the other add-on packages un speed.
However, as I mentioned earlier, having the added privacy of the domain keeps all of your personal contact information (your name, email, phone number, and address) private. Now, if you chose the Choice Plus Plan on the previous screen, then your Domain Privacy Protection will appear as “Free” as this screenshot above shows, it is included in that plan.
If you choose a Basic or Plus Plan, then you’ll want to check the box to add Domain Privacy Protection to your order for around $2.8/month.
The total you will see now is the amount you will pay today. However, remember that you won’t have to pay again for 1, 2, 3, or 5 years, depending on the package you choose. Plus, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee in case things don’t go as planned with your blog.
Enter your billing information
You will now enter your billing information, check the box that accepts the Bluehost Terms of Service, and then press the green “Submit” button.
Court! It’s time for a mini celebration
You have officially completed the first important step to start a blog.
With the initial registration process complete, it’s time to move on to the next stage to fully set up and optimize your blog.
On the next page, you will be guided step-by-step through the WordPress installation process on your blog through Bluehost. Later in this guide, I have a bunch of useful tips for optimizing your blog, for free. and inexpensive plugins you can install to help your blog look great and more.
Click Bluehost or qservers (if you are in Nigeria) and register your domain if you haven’t already.
Now, if you haven’t set up your web hosting yet and want to look at other options, there are other web hosting providers worth considering.
Top 2 Alternative Blog Hosting Platforms Worth Considering
- Dreamhost: I’ve hosted dozens of websites on Dreamhost over the years (and still do). All the similar features aside, such as 1-click WordPress installation, free SSL certificate, and site security, one of the biggest advantages of using Dreamhost compared to other hosting companies, is that they offer a true pay-per-month plan that allows you to pay. for the cost of hosting your blog every month without conditions. Here are some other web hosting companies that also offer monthly payment plans.
- HostGator – What sets HostGator apart from other hosting companies is their fantastic level of customer support and the fact that they also offer a true monthly payment plan (which helps if you start your blog on a budget). HostGator is among the largest hosting companies and now boasts over 8 million websites worldwide, making them a great partner to scale your blog over time.
If you still want to evaluate more of the top blogging hosting providers, check out my breakdown of the best web hosting plans for bloggers to review this year.
We are now at the point in this guide where everything from now on will be based on the assumption that you have already registered your domain name and chose the right hosting plan; so, if you haven’t already, take just a few minutes to set it up quickly.
Ready to register your domain name and set up blog hosting?
I made this video tutorial in depth to guide you step by step through the whole process:
Disclosure: Please note that when you buy hosting using my Bluehost affiliate link, I get compensated, which helps me make this ultimate guide to starting a blog at no charge to you. Know that I also use Bluehost hosting, and I would never recommend a product, tool, or service that you don’t personally use and defend.
I know firsthand that starting a blog on WordPress can be an overwhelming process.
So if you need a slightly more detailed guide, I prepared a free master course that distributes all this work into a series of action-packed lessons and goes into even more granular details than this tutorial.
While the crucial first step in getting your blog started today is to register your domain name and set up hosting, my free course expands to grow your blog. Throughout this 7-day course, you will go from scratch to publish (and promote) your first blog post. I can’t recommend it enough.
Do you want my free course: how to start a profitable blog in 7 days?
Enter your name and email address and you’ll get instant access to my course that has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, and Entrepreneur.
- Enter your name *
- Enter your email address *
This field is for validation purposes and should not be modified.
3. Design your blog with a free WordPress theme
Now that we’ve passed the crucial setup phase of starting a blog, it’s time to have a little more fun.
However, designing your WordPress blog is when you can start to feel a bit of friction with this process (if you’ve never worked on a blog before), but I promise you this won’t be too technical.
In addition… the last thing I want is for the minor technical aspect of starting a blog to derail your progress today. That’s why, in my free course How to Create a Blog in 7 Days, I break this technical setup process into an even more actionable step-by-step checklist for you.
If you want to start a blog and make money from it, WordPress is your smartest choice.
Let’s cover some basic terminology, so you understand why WordPress is the right platform (also known as Content Management System or CMS) to run your blog.
- What is a content management system (CMS)?
- What is WordPress?
- Should I start a blog on WordPress (and is WordPress free)?
- What if I want to create a blog with Wix?
Since I started blogging over a decade ago, I’ve been running my blog on WordPress and couldn’t be happier with the amount of flexibility, control, and long-term growth potential the decision has given me.
Now, one thing you need to be wary of is that WordPress comes on two very different platforms. There are WordPress.com and WordPress.org. They have almost the same name, but there are big differences between the two:
- It is free to use (with strong restrictions)
- It does not allow you to choose a custom domain name (i.e. your sitio.wordpress.com )
- You have very limited monetization options (you can’t sell your ads)
- Does not allow you to load plugins (for email capture and other things)
- It has limited theme support, so it’s stuck with very basic designs
- You have to pay to remove WordPress branding and get your domain as yoursite.com
- Limited SEO and analytics
- Fully customizable design, unlimited add-on, and unbranded options
- Full control over your monetization efforts
- Powerful SEO features (so people can find your site more easily)
- Let’s start or add an eCommerce store or membership site
- Small monthly fee (from the budget hosting plan you use to publish your blog online)
While the choice is yours, if you want to get the most out of your blog, be able to grow it with you, and eventually make money from it, WordPress.org is the way to go (and the exact process we’ve followed at all times). this guide). It is the CMS of choice that will sit in the background and power your blog.
How to install WordPress (and configure your blog settings)
Here’s a step-by-step video tutorial on how to install WordPress on your new blog and configure the right settings:
Naturally, in this video, we don’t cover everything about WordPress but remember that these are the basics that you need to achieve first.
Take time to familiarize yourself with the admin area of your WordPress blog. You will develop a much deeper understanding of how WordPress works and what things can quickly change about the visual appearance and functionality of your site over time.
Choosing the best WordPress theme (free)
When you’re still new to starting a blog, I generally don’t recommend buying a paid WordPress theme right away. Once you have some traffic and can justify the investment, then it is smart to go for a premium theme with more features and options. However, for now, a complex topic will be a distraction from your highest priority of attracting readers to your new blog.
WordPress comes with a ton of free themes to choose from, so start with one of the options you like under Appearance> Themes> Add New Theme> Popular without spending a lot of time on this for now. You can always go back and change it later.
I recommend choosing Kadence WP, Hello Elementor, or Astra (all of which are 100% free, fast, and can update later).
I like these three quick WordPress themes best because they’re sharp, clean, simple, and they’ll help you set it up without investing in a paid theme since you’re just starting your blog. Later, you can further evaluate the other WordPress themes out there or upgrade these to their premium versions for more features.
- What if I want to choose a different WordPress theme (or change it later)?
- Why design is so important when starting a blog
Even if you don’t care about design, your readers will change their behavior dramatically based on the characteristics of your blog’s design. In fact, during a 2012 study by Google and the University of Basel, researchers found that users judge a website’s aesthetic beauty and perceived functionality in 1/20 – 1/50 of a second. Also, thanks to a little psychological bias called the Halo Effect, people will extend that judgment to all aspects of your blog.
“In less time than it takes to snap their fingers, readers decide whether or not to trust your blog.”
A good blog design builds trust. It tells people that you care enough about your blog to make it look good. This doesn’t mean you need crazy animations or tons of fonts and colors. The best designs are simple, clear, and easy to read.
Once you’ve decided on the right theme for your WordPress blog, it’s time to dive into the world of WordPress plugins, to help unlock even more customizations and prep work to give your blog a chance to become a real business.
7 Essential WordPress Plugins You Should Install On Your Blog Today
WordPress plugins play a crucial role in running your blog, and getting the most essential plugins bookmarked as quickly as possible is an important step that is designed to serve your audience and work well for search engines.
Are you starting a WordPress blog? You’re going to want these 7 add-ons right now.
What is a WordPress plugin and why are they important?
The only problem with WordPress plugins is that there are thousands of different blogging plugins and tools to choose from. However, to help you cut out all the noise … here are the must-have WordPress plugins to install when you start blogging today: 1. Yoast SEO: the more people can find your content, the better your blog will be. The Yoast WordPress plugin helps you optimize your blog post titles, descriptions, content length, and other elements throughout your blog so that search engines can find you more easily.
- WPForms – You’ll want your readers to be able to get in touch with you easily, which I highly recommend as it will encourage other bloggers who want to collaborate with you to have an easy opportunity to communicate. WPForms is an easy-to-use plugin that allows you to drag and drop contact forms onto any page of your blog.
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress – This is a 100% free Google Analytics plugin that allows you to view all of your relevant analytics data directly within WordPress. Connect the plugin to your Google Analytics account (you can sign up for a free Google Analytics account right here) to find out who visits your site, how long they stay, and what are their most popular blog posts.
- UpdraftPlus: Again, sometimes things will go wrong on your blog (and it won’t always be totally under your control). It’s always smart to have a backup plugin that will save you all your work regularly, and this free one stands out above the rest.
- WP Rocket – Faster websites rank higher in Google and give your readers a better experience. WP Rocket is a plugin that caches your pages, reduces the size of your files, and does a lot more to ensure your blog loads faster for everyone.
- MaxCDN: Speaking of speed, MaxCDN also makes the images and other static elements of your blog load faster, which gives this plugin the best marks to consider as a complement to the use of WP Rocket as well.
- Insert Headers and Footers – Sometimes to edit your theme, you will need to add code snippets to your header or footer (not as scary as it sounds). However, doing it in your theme code can cause problems. This plugin allows you to easily add small code snippets to select locations around your blog.
- Bonus – Lightweight Accordion: If you like the way I create collapsible content boxes (accordion style) here throughout this guide and in the FAQ near the bottom of this post, I highly recommend that you install the free plugin that I use to create that content. sections come to life: Light accordion. With just a few clicks with this plugin, you can quickly add collapsible FAQ box functionality to your WordPress blog.
Basic WordPress blog setup to get familiar now
There are many different reasons to start a blog, and the same number of unique goals you may have in mind. Regardless, it pays to have a basic understanding of the broader aspects of how WordPress works so that you can control the visual appearance of your blog.
Let’s take a look at some of the larger image settings you can find in your WordPress dashboard.
- How to optimize WordPress permalink settings (click to expand)
- Clear your default site URL
- How to Clean Your Site’s Default URL (Click to Expand)
- Set up your blog’s home page
- How to set your blog home page (click to expand)
- Setting up your blog’s menu
- How to set up a menu on your WordPress blog (click to expand)
All right, we’ve covered the basic foundations of getting your blog’s WordPress settings dialed in. Now, let’s dig into creating a few of the main pages on your blog.
Creating the main pages of your blog (about, contact, hire)
From the moment you start a blog, you’ll want to showcase some basic information about yourself. Who you are. Why people should listen to you. How they can get in touch with you if they have questions or want to work with you.
These pages are all pretty standard, but they’re also a great way to have some fun and let your readers get to know you. I use my own About page to not only introduce who I am and tell my story but also to explain my value proposition (for potential clients looking to hire me as a freelance content marketer) and show recent achievements.
Here are step-by-step instructions for how to write an About Me page that does this on your blog, too:
How to write an About page for your blog
You might not think much about it, but your About page can quickly become one of the most popular pages on your blog.
How to write your blog’s about page
Use your about page to show the value you’re creating for your readers, and work hard to earn that attention.
How to write a contact page for your blog
Another often overlooked page that you’ll want to include early on when starting a blog is an easy way for people to reach out to you.
While mine goes deeper, your contact page can be as simple as having your email and social media accounts on one page.
How to create a contact page for your blog
Think about the types of communication you want from your readers and use your Contact page to set those expectations right away.
This field is for validation purposes and should not be changed.
4. Write your first blog post
You don’t read a blog because it looks good or because it is published frequently. (Although they both help).
You read a blog because you care what it says. Building solid content is what will bring you readers and help you make money blogging.
Do you want to start a blog? First, you need to worry about the topics you are covering.
Before you go too far down the road of creating a blog business plan, designing your content roadmap, and writing your first blog post, you need to answer a simple question… Why?
- Why do you care about the topic you blog about?
- Why should other people listen to what you say?
- Why is this an issue you can add value to?
To answer these questions, I like to think of a blog like any other business and re-emphasize the importance of choosing a clear niche.
What is a blog niche?
Does my blog need to have a niche right away?
“When you write to everyone, you are not writing to anyone. If you start a blog, you need a clear niche”.
Now if you’re not sure, or no niche immediately comes to mind, that’s fine. We can convince you with a few questions.
Ask these questions to determine a smart niche to start a blog:
- What interest or dream from your childhood seems exciting to you?
- What is the best part of your day?
- Do you have hobbies or hobbies that you want to learn?
- What is a value deeply yours?
- What is one accomplishment of which you are incredibly proud?
Right away, you should have an idea or two for a clear niche that you could start blogging about. It’s okay if your niche grows, evolves, and changes over time.
Going one step further: how to know if there is a business opportunity for your blog niche
If you want to make money from your blog, you will also want to do a little research to see if there is a market demand for your niche. What this means is: Are people actively searching for what you’re writing about? And can you add value and help them in a way that makes you money?
To create a business from your blog, you need to solve a real problem for people. To do this, I use a simple spreadsheet that I call a Niche Market Demand Checker (you can get a free copy in my course right here), which will help you make sure you create content that your target audience will find useful.
Take the blog niche you are thinking of and come up with 5-10 keyword phrases or topics within that niche you would write about. So if we wanted to start a blog about playing guitar, you could choose keywords like “best guitar books”, “how to play guitar”, “guitar chords for beginners”, “which guitar should I buy”, etc.
Now, let’s do some keyword research. Enter one of those keywords above in your Google search. If there are tens of millions (or more) of results, it’s a pretty strong indicator that people care about your topic. But to be on the safe side, I like to use a free tool like Twinword Ideas to check the monthly search volume (how many people search for this term each month).
Do this for each of your keywords and see the results. If all of your top keywords have a monthly search volume of 5,000 to 10,000, you have a potentially profitable niche. If you’re too much above that, in the hundreds of thousands of monthly searches, you may want to be more specific with your niche rather than compete with much larger established websites on more popular topics.
Brainstorming Smart Blog Posts (Using Keyword Research)
Even once you’ve established the niche you’ll be blogging about, you need to do some smart keyword research to come up with the right blog post ideas that will attract readers.
So what about the actual posts that you are going to write? The good news is that you can honestly write whatever you want! After all, this is your blog and one of the main benefits is that it is your platform for talking and sharing. But ideas don’t always come naturally.
This is where I think a simple editorial calendar is so important. It’s just a basic document to fill out that will give you a roadmap to always know what you’re writing next. It frees you up to spend more time on the fun of putting together posts, without banging your head against the wall trying to think of blog post ideas.
If I still need more ideas, I will resort to some more creative tactics…
- See what other bloggers in my niche covered (and what you did well).
- Take a look at my most successful posts to see what readers like best.
- Make more citation summary posts that don’t require a lot of original thought and effort on my part.
- Chatting with bloggers in my space and exchanging new ideas.
- Talking about specific lessons I have recently learned (and my tips).
- Reflecting on the blogging mistakes I’ve made and the tactics that work today.
At this point, I usually have a full content calendar. Still, need more inspiration for the content?
Now you are ready to write your first blog post.
Once you’ve decided on the first blog post you want to write, you’ll navigate to the “Add New Post” section from your WordPress dashboard.
Go to Posts> Add New, which will look like this right here:
You will then be taken to a new article page that will look like this (a blank canvas):
Write a blog post title that encourages readers to click
One of the reasons you blog is to attract readers, right? Well, it is worth the effort to learn how to write a headline that will engage readers and, most importantly, deliver on the promise of what your article is helping to achieve.
So let’s say you’ve determined that your hiking blog should start by looking at some underrated hikes in Northern California. Then click on the “Add Title” bar on your new post page and type a title.
As a starting point for writing a solid headline, learn by looking at the headlines of other successful bloggers in your niche:
- Do you tend to lead with numbers?
- How many of your article headlines include parentheses?
- Is capitalizing the first letter of each word good practice?
Take a look at some of my latest blog headlines so you can get inspired on how you might want to structure your headlines (and read my ultimate guide to writing blog headlines).
If you’re still not sure how to title a new post, do a Google search for the target keyword phrase you’re looking for and get inspiration for the ways other titles are written; Make sure you don’t directly copy other bloggers, but that will point you in the right direction.
Choosing an SEO-friendly blog post URL
It is extremely important that you customize the URL of your new post if you expect it to rank well in Google’s organic search results.
Crafting a Compelling Introduction for Your New Blog Post
You have a sentence or two to convince readers that your new post is worth it. Here’s an example blog post introduction that I just wrote in under two minutes for our walking example:
As you learn how to write a blog post that will keep readers interested, here are some dos and don’ts to create a solid introduction.
The simplest strategy for writing a compelling introduction is to respond to the who, what, where, when, and why as soon as possible. This may seem counterintuitive, but another trick is to start with the conclusion first. In the era of short attention spans, people have gotten tired of wasting time on clickbait blog posts that lead nowhere.
The faster you can establish relevance to your reader, give them a solid reason to believe that they will find what they are looking for in your blog post, the more likely they are to dig into your article and share it with others.
Optimizing the layout and layout of your blog post
Ultimately, what looks “good” is subjective and up to you, based on what you think your (future) readers will resonate the most. But one of the most important lessons I’ve learned through starting a blog of mine is that design matters a lot.
Click publish on your first blog post
Once you’ve written your first blog post (ideally hitting the 1,000+ word range), you’re almost ready to publish!
- Take a few minutes to check out Yoast SEO tips and make sure your blog post is SEO friendly, giving you the best chance of ranking well in organic search.
- After checking the SEO settings, choose in which “Category” this new post will be included and check that box. So, you are ready to post!
Now if like me you appreciate great design, before posting to your first blog post, there is one last step you can take.
Studies show that blog posts with images get 94% more views than those without. And when it comes to posts that are shared on social media, tweets with photos get 150% more retweets than those without one, while Facebook posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement. Adding a few visuals can nearly double the number of views and expand the shares a blog post receives.
Free Photography Resources for Blogs
One of the easiest ways to add visual flair to your blog posts is with beautiful images and designs. Fortunately, in recent years, there are now some high-quality sites that offer amazing photos that can be used completely free for your blog; my favorite is Unsplash:
Unsplash (for free blog images and stock photos)
Unsplash is the best online resource for completely free user-uploaded photos for your blog. Every photo that appears on Unsplash is selected by their team to make sure it is of high quality. Under the Unsplash license, you don’t even have to credit the photographer (they recommend that you do, however), making Unsplash the easiest option for free blog photography.
Other Great Free Blogging Photography Resources Worth Mentioning
- Wikimedia Commons – Over 21 million photos and images from across history are now in the public domain and free to use.
- Life of Pix: Stunning free photos donated by an advertising agency in Montreal, Canada.
Bonus: creating a blog content strategy
I’ve been lucky enough to work for some great companies and get paid to learn about the importance of having a content strategy for your blog. I have successfully applied those same lessons to my blog, making many adjustments and additions along the way. And if you’re having trouble with your content planning efforts, grab my free blog planner bundle and make things better today.
What is a blog content strategy?
Here’s how to create a basic blog content strategy today:
Define your blog goals: What is your purpose when starting a blog? What do you want to achieve with the content of your blog? This goal may change as your blog grows, but it’s still important to know about it early on.
Get to know your blog readers (and where they hang out) – Your readers will determine whether or not your blog is successful. To write for them, you need to understand them, so it helps if you are also writing for yourself. This is useful for doing a little research on the audience you are writing for. Think about the demographics and psychographics of your target audience. Demographics are the quantitative traits of your readers (age, gender, location, title) and psychographics are the least measurable traits such as values, interests, attitudes, and belief systems. Once you’ve written these qualities down, you can start to think of an audience person, a fictitious version of your ideal reader.
Decide on the main content pillars of your blog: When it comes to deciding what to write about, it is good to have a few targeting categories that you will refer to. I like to call these pillars of content as they are the foundation that sustains the rest of your blog. For example, if you are starting a personal finance blog, your pillars might be personal finance advice, expert interviews, industry news, debt settlement, or more. Each of these pillars can have hundreds of blog posts written under them. They also all work together to show that you are a thought leader in your niche.
Plan the content you’ll create shortly after starting your blog – Shortly after launching your blog, it’s worth taking a little time to plan your content feed for the next few weeks (possibly months). You never know when your first blog post might go viral. In that case, you’ll want to have at least one game plan to quickly attract the new readers you get. Even just one or two blog posts under each of your main content pillars are enough to get you started, ideally in the form of evergreen content that will stand the test of time.
“When you start a blog, start small and commit to growing steadily over the next few weeks and months.”
We have come a long way in this guide. You’ve gone from learning the technicalities to publishing your first post.
It’s time to talk about what happens after you’ve published your first blog post, promoting your content, generating traffic, and eventually making money from your blog.
Promote your blog and get readers
We will use my experience to go from starting a blog to quickly driving millions of readers to my content. What do you do once you’ve hit publish on your first blog posts? It is time to learn how to promote your blog content.
This is why companies like LinkedIn, Zendesk, Adobe, Close, Intuit, and more hire me as a consultant – to write content for their blogs, teach them how to promote their content and attract new readers.
If you want to create a successful blog, spend more time promoting your content than writing it.
Here are some of the best ways to start sharing your blog posts and introduce them to new readers. And if you want even more strategies, here’s my guide to learning how to drive traffic to your website, where we dig even deeper into the tactics I’ve used to grow my blog to millions of readers annually.
Use social media to promote your blog
The first obvious place to go when you want to find readers is social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are some of the most important networks today. Whichever platform best suits your niche interests and audience, it’s the right one for you. And that’s an important note. There’s no point in trying to promote your blog posts on all social media platforms.
“Share your blog content on the social media your audience spends time on.”
Look for the social channels that give you the best return
How to choose which social networks to promote your blog on
Use YouTube to increase your blog’s audience
3 tools to help you manage your social media promotion (click to expand)
The key information here is that you’ll need to experiment and see which networks work best for you.
Just because you’ve started a blog, you don’t have guaranteed readers. Here’s how to generate traffic.
Guest blogs on other blogs and relevant sites such as Medium, Quora, and Linkedin
One of the best things about starting a blog is that you’re joining a community of other bloggers who love to help each other. Guest blogging on other relevant sites is the #1 best way to connect with an already established audience. Check out my ultimate guide to guest blogging for a full tutorial, but we’ll cover the highlights here.
I’ve written hundreds of guest posts over the past decade, and it’s been the single best strategy for promoting my blog content.
The key point of all this is that you want to look for places where your audience is and be present there, whether it’s other blogs, communities, or social platforms.
Forums and message boards for bloggers
Often, simply throwing your ideas into the void of social media isn’t very effective.
Instead, being part of specific forums and online communities can give you a better return on your time, if you find the right ones. Explore the relevant groups on Facebook to see if there are vibrant communities that would be a good place to start.
Now, if your search doesn’t show any Facebook groups with a decent number of members (over 5,000), there are other options. Look for more general groups that relate to your niche on Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, or independent forum websites.
Remember, forums and message boards aren’t just places to download links to your blog posts. You need to provide value before you ask for something in return. So, start by building relationships and interacting with people there.
Using an email newsletter to increase your blog audience
One of the best forms of blog promotion is not for other audiences, but for yours (over time). An email newsletter is the most powerful way to keep current readers engaged with the work you’re doing and one of the things you need to set up right away.
Creating your email list can also be relatively simple. Place a sign-up form on your posts and key pages on your site. I use a tool I love, called ConvertKit, to manage the 150,000 or so email subscribers I have now on my blog, but Mailchimp is the best free email marketing tool to start with.
Not sure which email marketing tool to use when starting a blog?
I send my community an update every time I post a new blog post, have a resource I want to share, or when new podcast episodes are posted, and this now ensures that my content is quickly seen by thousands of people from the start. Email marketing has been by far the biggest growth and revenue driver for my blog, and something I can’t suggest enough among all the blog marketing strategies you can invest in.
Other ways to promote your blog and get more traffic
Outside of promotion on social media, through guest posts, on forums, and via email, here are some other techniques I’ve personally used to grow my blog audience quickly.
Remember that the only thing standing in the way of your blog’s growth is you. It will take some ingenuity and will to experiment, but it’s worth the effort.
Almost every guide on how to start a blog stops long before this point. Now, I’m going to equip you with the tools (and strategies) to go from starting your new blog to building a real business around you, based on my experience growing this blog to over 500,000 monthly readers and $50,000/month in revenue.
Let’s talk about how to (eventually) make money from your blog.
- Earn money with your blog
Last year alone, my blog generated $449,107 in revenue (ignore the $0 in expenses here, you can see those details in my blog’s income reports).
I do not share this to show off, but for you to understand. I know what I’m talking about when it comes to starting a blog and generating significant income with it. Also, I’ll be the first to tell you that these types of revenue figures are not typical of blogging and that it has taken me over 6 years to get to this point in my blogging business.
There’s a reason why making money with your blog is at the end of this guide to starting a blog. Unless you already have a large audience somewhere, you can’t expect to make money right away; monetization shouldn’t be your number one focus right now, but something to work on.
Still, it’s nice to have an idea of the ways you’d like to make money from blogging as you go on this new adventure. Some of these monetization strategies will be easier to implement than others while your readership continues to grow.
1. Self-employment (sale of its services)
If you want to start making money from your blog as quickly as possible, then selling your services (by getting blogger jobs, freelance writing jobs, or selling your experience as a service) is the easiest option by far. In fact, until very recently, I was still working as a freelancer as a blog monetization channel for my own business:
All you need to get an independent client is a strong enough pitch, which is where choosing to start a blog (first) will help significantly. You’ll want to build your key pages (About, Contact, Hire Me) and show at least a couple of examples of the type of work you’ve done and will soon be presenting to independent clients.
If you don’t have those work samples yet… don’t let that stop you. Create those sample articles, designs, or other deliverables and save them to your blog as if they were a project you’re paid to produce.
If you have a skill that you can sell as a service, then you’re already prepared to go out and start launching leads. That ability could be something like…
- Writing (one of the top blogging skills you’ll want to master)
- Development (see these WordPress developer job sites)
- Public relations
- Social Media Management
- Virtual assistance
- Community building
- Paid advertising or SEO campaigns
- Business strategy or project management
- The list goes on… because any skill can be monetized
Today, I still regularly book new independent clients (such as LinkedIn, Zendesk, Adobe) for $5,000/month or more and they hire me to advise and execute the creation of blog marketing campaigns for their organization.
If working as a freelancer sounds like your cup of tea, you’ll want to grab my (free) collection of all my best resources, tools, and templates for freelancers. That resource pack is the culmination of over 8 years of perfecting my standalone contract template, proposal template, cold email templates that convert new clients, and more.
I also prepared a detailed guide to get started with freelance work that you’ll want to read and another great fundamental read on how to develop a presentation process that works for your type of business is my guide for freelancers on sending emails cold. And if you want to try some of the websites where freelance clients are already looking for talented help, here are my lists of the best blogging job sites and the best freelance work sites.
2. Affiliate Programs
Each month, I earn a substantial amount of passive income from the affiliate programs I’m a member of (sometimes over $50,000+). For example, here is a screenshot of my blog income from a single affiliate program (Bluehost) during the first 5 months of last year.
Since I started a blog here just over 7 years ago, affiliate income has gradually grown to become the largest source of income for my business, and I have structured my blog to generate affiliate income due to how passive it is. Once you’ve done the work (hard) to find a sustainable traffic source for your content.
How do affiliate programs work?
Most of the major brands have affiliate programs. Think of companies like Amazon, down to key players in specific niches like online education, where brands like CreativeLive and Udemy have lucrative programs. Here’s a snapshot of my recent earnings from just a couple of other shows:
Once you have a small readership, you can go out and negotiate a more advantageous affiliate deal with companies that have relevant products that you want to promote to your audience. For A LOT more on the topic of monetizing your blog with affiliate income, check out these guides:
- More than 53 best affiliate programs for bloggers in 2022 (for affiliate income)
- 10 Ways Affiliate Marketing Can Completely Transform Your Blog
- How I Make an Extra $ 1,000 a Month Using Amazon Affiliate Marketing
3. Sponsored blog content
Unless you already have a decent size audience on your blog (or social accounts), it will take some time to grow your readership to a point where the sponsored content is a viable monetization option.
- What is sponsored blog content?
- How much traffic do you need to get blog sponsors?
The best way to make sponsored content without alienating your readers is to weave it into your typical posting style (as I’ve done with this sponsored post and this one as well).
4. Online courses
Once you have a skill (or experience) that others want to learn as well, it’s relatively easy to package your best tips (like my blogging tips), strategies, tactics, and tutorials into an online course where people can pay for access to accelerate your learning. much faster than they would otherwise by going through the shaky learning process through trial and error.
Last year alone, I generated over $ 60,000 with the launch of my premium blogging course, Built to Blog, which takes students well beyond starting a blog and towards advanced strategies for gaining readers and generating income from their blogs.
The great thing about an online course as a monetization route for your blog (or as I have done with blogging book sales as well) is that you don’t need a large audience to make money from online courses. The same is true if you choose to write an ebook and sell that digital product to your audience.
5. Traditional blog ads (ad networks)
I used to have several small blog ads showing on my content (from one of these major blog ad networks) generating between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000 per month in incremental revenue, before turning off the ads in favor of optimizing for other sources of income.
I was a member of a small ad network called Carbon Ads for the first few years of my blogging journey where they partner with bloggers and match us with ads from high-quality startups like Slack, Asana, Freshbooks, Monday, Upwork, and others. Targeted brands that my audience is already familiar with.
- How Much Can I Make From Blog Ads?
- What are the best ad networks for bloggers to join?
In general, traditional CPC or CPM advertising does not become very profitable (at least as a viable source of substantial blog income) until you are generating over 1 million monthly readers, so it is not a great channel of advertising. monetization to focus on. the short term. But, when you start a blog, it can be one of the easiest ways to make money from your traffic without a lot of extra effort.
6. Podcast sponsorships
Another great way to start monetizing your blog is by launching a (simple) podcast for your readers. You can use your traffic and the number of early listeners to book endorsements from brands that want to reach your type of readers and listeners. Here is the growth trajectory of my podcast during its first year:
You can even combine podcast ad placement deals with sponsored blog posts on your site to sweeten the deal. And I understand that launching a podcast while you’re still dominating blogging sounds like a distraction, but keep in mind that a podcast can be as
simple as casual conversations with other bloggers in your industry.
How to make money from podcast sponsorships
To learn more about the mechanics behind launching a podcast and monetizing it alongside your blog (including choosing the right podcast hosting), whose podcast became a source of $ 10,000 / month. of secondary income while still keeping your day job in sales and marketing. It’s a true masterclass for starting a podcast that you don’t want to miss.
7. Physical products (e-commerce) and software tools
Similar in concept to launching an online course for your blog audience, another great way to monetize your audience is by selling a physical product or software tool to people in your community, especially if you’re starting a store. e-commerce (with the right e-commerce website builders) to sell products related to what their readers need.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to solving the problems your blog readers have. If you need any additional incentives, consider that 75% of online shoppers say they use social media as part of their buying process.
What used to be a much more labor-intensive business, e-commerce has become a great way to monetize an audience of readers on your blog, especially with the proliferation of drop shipping and order fulfillment services.
In addition to selling to your audience, you can take advantage of loyalty programs that incentivize customers to invite their friends to shop with offers like-new customer discounts, one-month free trials, gift programs, and more. These channels create opportunities to amplify your message and spread your products through word-of-mouth marketing efforts that will cost you nowhere near similar advertising fees.
How to (simply) pitch a product to your blog audience
Tune in to my interview with Hiten Shah, who went from teaching himself how to start a blog, to now using his blog as a way to connect with his audience and launch profitable software tools as a result of the validation conversations he’s had with them.
8. Trade associations
Of all the ways to monetize your blog, this is the most amorphous. Who knows whom you will meet as a result. What about future guests on your podcast? The possibilities here for stumbling upon partnership opportunities are endless.
As a result of sticking with my blog for several years, I have been able to use it as a tool to meet some incredibly talented entrepreneurs.
Send me a message or ask any questions in the comments below!