Looking for tips on how to start a blog and make money? From my experience having owned around six websites (3 of which I successfully sold for a total of $12,000 in 2013), I have some useful tips that will help get you started with your very own blog. It’s really not as hard to get started as you might think!
So you’ve decided that you want to get on the bandwagon and start your own blog. Great! But now I bet you’re wondering just how to start a blog and make money from it. It is really easy to get started with blogging, and it just takes some good old fashioned dedication and consistency to eventually be able to make money.
What is a blog?
A blog can be described as a “regularly updated website that’s typically run be one or more persons”. I think of a blog more as a cross between a journal and an informative website. This blog for instance are my opinions on ways to save money, earn extra income and ways to get out of debt.
What kind of blogs make money?
It doesn’t matter what you’re blogging about, the fact is any blog can earn income once you learn how to start a blog and make money. You can be a successful fashion blogger, or a personal finance / lifestyle blogger like I am. There are no limits on what you can talk about either; there are mommy bloggers that make over $20,000 a month and personal finance bloggers that make over $70,000 a month.
How to start a blog for free.. or not?
The only free way to start a blog are by using a free blogger account or a free WordPress account. I would not recommend this. You won’t be taken seriously if you want to work with brands, and you run the risk of losing your free site entirely if you have too much traffic coming in since you’re using their web host for free in exchange for a free account. Too much traffic on a free site means you risk losing your site one day without warning.
Ok, let’s get started!
- Your niche and topics
- Choosing a blog name
- Choosing a web host
- Installing WordPress by 1 click
- WordPress themes (aka making it pretty)
1. Your niche and topics
This is one of the most important things you’ll need to figure out; your niche. Are you a mommy blogger that wants to talk about potty training and being a housewife, or are you more of a personal finance blogger that will be talking about ways to save money? Either way, this needs to be numero uno on your to-do list.
I recommend is writing down a list of 3-5 categories you know you’ll talk about often. Will you be talking about side hustles for extra money? That could be a category. You want your categories to make sense to what you’ll be writing about. After all, if you had a website dedicated to your dog and then you decide to start writing about Fluffy the cat – then that would not make sense.
2. Choosing a blog name
The idea of choosing a blog name is that it should be short, memorable and unique. The goal is so that people will easily remember your blog name once they leave your site. If possible, he name should represent what you’ll be writing about. A good example would be the Money Saving Mom blog. You have a pretty good idea just by the name itself to guess what kind of content you can find at the blog.
A tool I used to help come up with this blog name was Bust a Name. Basically, you just take a few keywords you think you’d like to use, and it will scramble the results. Another tool I like to use is Namechkr as it helps me figure out if the website name I come up with is available as well as if the social media accounts are taken.
3. Choosing a web host
A web host, also known as hosting, is where you’ll “pay rent” for hosting your blog. Think of it like getting an apartment where they give you the keys (your .com) and you’re renting (hosting) the space.
The best web host to start with when you’re new to blogging is by choosing Bluehost. What’s great about Bluehost is that your first domain name is free, for all you have to pay for is a years worth of your .com name and privacy protection. You don’t want to skip on privacy protection as it blocks your private information (name, address, e-mail phone number, etc) from being publicly searchable.
- Head over to Bluehost.com and click on “Get Started Now.”
- The next page will say “Select Your Plan.” Click on the first one called, “Starter Plan” where you can pay as low as $3.95 (I actually use the $6.95 plan)
- The next page will say “Sign Up Now” and this is where you will have the option to choose your FREE domain name! To continue, just type in your desired domain name and click “Next.”
- The next page should say “Sign Up – Congratulations!” and will ask for you to provide your basic information, as well as confirming your Bluehost package information, and billing information.
- Make sure to double check the “Package Information” to confirm the package you want, and to make sure “Domain Privacy” is checked.
4. Installing WordPress by 1 click
Part of this wonderful process of learning how to start a blog and make money includes learning how to set up WordPress. After all, it’s the blogging software you need to use to actually create your blog!
- From the “home” page in Bluehost, click on “WordPress Tools.”
- On the right side look for “New Install” and click to continue.
- Pick your domain name and fill out the site title, admin username, admin password and admin e-mail.
- Click on “Install WordPress” and that’s it!
5. WordPress themes (aka making it pretty)
When it comes to the design of your blog, you have a few different options. You can use free themes, premium themes or pay a web designer. Although free themes are always nice to have when first starting out, I find that paying for premium themes or a designer is what works for me.
Recommended WordPress premium themes:
- The Genesis Framework – this is the current framework I have used for the last couple of years on my blogs, including this one. It is available to purchase on StudioPress Themes.
- The Thesis Theme – I’ve used this in the past but not so much anymore. It made it easy to change to customize your blog without needing to have the knowledge of coding.
- Elegant Themes – I’ve never used any of the Elegant Themes before, but I’ve heard that they are easy to use. They also seem to be a bit cheaper than some of the items I have listed.
- InkThemes – I’ve used a theme from this place on a project in the past, and loved the professional themes this website offered.
How to start a blog and make money while doing it
I bet you’re wondering now how exactly you can go about making money blogging? After all, it was the other half of the question “how to start a blog and make money.” There are a lot of ways to make money blogging, but I’ll go over a few of them to get you started.
Affiliate marketing. In a nut shell, you are promoting other companies products and earning a commission from it. Affiliate programs that you sign up for will give you your own special link to use which is then tracked when sales are made on your blog. Some popular programs include the Amazon Associate program, Share a Sale and Commission Junction.
Network Ads. Have you ever went to a blog and seen ads on your desktop or mobile phone? These are ads that the blogger has placed on their website. Some ad networks require that you have a specific amount of pageviews of month, while other programs haven no requirement. One ad program you use can the day you start your blog is Google Adsense.
Offering a product. Once you establish yourself as a blogger in your niche, you might want to offer a product to your readers. One good example is Becky from Your Modern Family. She wrote an e-book on How to Potty Train in a Weekend a couple years ago and continues to bring her monthly income.
I can highly recommend the following blogging courses and/or e-books to get you started on your path to earning money with your blog:
- Secret Bloggers Business – It’s a little costly to start out with but the returns of what you learn in only six weeks is worth every penny.
- Blogging on the Side – a great starter e-book for beginners.
What are some of your tips for someone trying to figure out just how to start a blog and make money with it? If you’re new to blogging and have more questions, I’d love to answer them in the comments.