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Before I tell you how to start a blog, I want you to know something: I started my first blog in 2006. Embarrassingly enough, I started many that year; A couple about my weight loss journey, about running a marathon (the furthest I ever got was a few 5k’s and mud runs), and a couple about being a young parent.
That wasn’t my first run-in with sharing my corner of the world with the internet: I had a popular e-zine in the ’90s (as a middle schooler!) that even had a sponsor of Steve Madden.
However, just as quick as I was to start a new blog was I to quit my creative endeavors. It wasn’t until 2012 when I started to take blogging seriously because I learned the proper method for how to start a blog. Over a two-year period, I lost 123 pounds and wanted to share my story with the world. The blog got traction, I started working with brands, and eventually—I started getting paid to do it instead of getting only free products.
After getting my MBA, I decided to show others how to make money online, too (including how to start a blog). I stopped health and fitness coaching, which I had been doing since 2010, and focused strictly on coaching women on how to make money online. This led to me making more in one day than my previous six years as a health and fitness coach. Plus, I kept my blog and decided to strictly travel blog (and then moved back to lifestyle blogging during the pandemic).
After learning how to start a blog and creating my personal brand, I got featured in really cool media outlets:
- USA Today
- Reader’s Digest
- Thrive Global
- Women’s Wear Daily
- and way more
Plus, I now contribute to Forbes on a regular basis (not for free; they pay me!)
You might be thinking…alright. This sounds nice…but is this for me? Learning how to start a blog is for any woman who wants to create a life by design rather than a life by default.
- This is for you if you value freedom
- This is for you if you know there’s more to life than slaving away at a corporate job
- This is for you if you crave independence
- This is for you if you want to leave a legacy
- This is for you if you want to share your voice with the world
- This is for you if you want to be a leader
- This is for you if you crave being part of something so much bigger than yourself
How to Start a Blog and Make Money in 2022
If you’re ambitious, you could easily have your blog up and running in a single day. If you’re not much of a techie, though, it’s probably going to take you a couple of days to get everything running smoothly. From there, you’ll create great content, set up your social media channels, and share your blog with the world.
Don’t be too nervous about all of the techy stuff when it comes to blogging, though. It’s really not all that complicated, just a little time-consuming. I know lots of grandmas who blog, so let’s hop to it!
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Blog?
When you’re just learning how to start a blog, your expenses will be minimal compared to someone blogging for years, or even compared to someone who’s running a brick-and-mortar business.
In the beginning, the only real monetary cost is your web hosting and paying for your internet connection. A web host manages all of the mechanics of your blog—your images, blog posts, back-end work, etc—on its servers.
The good news, though, is that web hosting is relatively cheap (especially for a brand new blog without a lot of traffic)—like less than a cup of coffee from Dutch Bros every month. I’m going to assume that you’re already paying for your internet connection.
Some bloggers choose to pay for a fancy theme, which changes the way your blog looks (a theme is like a template). Or, if you’ve got cash to spend, you can even pay a web developer to create a completely customized blog for you. However, this usually runs a few thousand dollars.
If you’re looking for just the basics when starting a blog, you’ll pay for:
- Web hosting: For just $3.95 per month, you can host with Bluehost.
- Internet: We live in the middle-of-nowhere, so we pay a little over $100 per month. You probably pay much less.
- Email marketing: One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started blogging was ignoring growing my email list. I absolutely love ConvertKit, and they’ve got a free option up to 500 subscribers. Once you’re over that, it’s less than $30 per month.
- Themes: These are optional, but you can find some really nice ones on creative marketplaces for less than $100. Take a look at the example below of one of my fave places to get themes:
Once you’ve gained traction on your blog, you might consider paying for these tools and resources:
- Pinterest scheduling: The tool I use to schedule my pins on Pinterest is Tailwind. You can also take advantage of Tribes, which are groups of bloggers sharing each other’s content. Tailwind costs $9.99 per month when paid annually, and this link will give you a free month to try it out.
- Better hosting: While Bluehost is a pretty good web host, I found it to not be as reliable as I grew. I recently made the switch to DreamHost and have the DreamPress plan for about $30 per month. I’ve had 100% up-time and I get 24/7 tech support.
- Email marketing: After 500 subscribers, you’ll upgrade to ConvertKit’s lowest-tiered paid plan. This runs about $30 per month.
- Mentorship: Three months of 1:1 blog coaching with me has an investment of $5,000. You get access to my business courses plus have weekly calls with me.
- Premium plugins: Prices vary wildly for any paid plugins, and your needs may differ from mine. I pay for Astra Pro, Social Warfare Pro, Elementor Pro, Interactive World Maps, and ShortPixel Image Optimizer.
- Design tools: I’m pretty obsessed with Canva, and use the pro version (use this link to try the pro version free for 30 days). While I’m super proficient at Photoshop, you can’t beat the convenience of a drag-and-drop design tool. This will run you as little as $9.95 per month.
If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry about getting anything fancy for now. You can absolutely bootstrap your blog until you’re earning enough to start paying for optional tools and resources.
Want 300 keywords to help you grow your new blog? I’ve got a list of 300 keywords that have high search volume and little competition. Using keywords is what drives search engine traffic to your blog, and in turn, helps you make money through affiliate income.
In order to receive this list, you must use one of my affiliate links to create your blog. Just send me a copy of your receipt and I’ll send you your 300 keyword list.
1. Choose a Blog Host: Which Blog Host to Use
Before we get into the merits of various hosts, you should know this: if you want to be taken seriously as a blogger, you must use WordPress.org. This means no Squarespace, WordPress.com (which is the free version of WordPress), Wix, or any other service not on a paid WordPress.org plan.
While WordPress.org is free to use, you have to host it with a hosting company. These companies include Bluehost, DreamHost, etc. You can always change hosts later, so don’t stress about this part too much.
I’ve used many different web hosts over my 14+ years of blogging, and have found several that I love to use and recommend for my clients:
Bluehost: The Best Blog Host For Beginners
Once I got serious about blogging, I migrated from Wix.com to a self-hosted blog with Bluehost. I was pretty broke at the time and had to completely bootstrap my business, so this was perfect for my budget at less than $4 per month.
Bluehost will cost you $3.95 per month using this link, then $7.99 per month after the first year. Note that you must pay for a year at a time. It offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s why this is my number one pick for people who want to learn how to start a blog.
- FREE Domain Name for 1st Year: A domain name is your blog’s URL. For example, my domain name is Idyllic Pursuit, shown as https://www.idyllicpursuit.com
- FREE SSL Certificate Included: Ever visit a website and get a warning from your browser that the site is unsafe? Yeah, you don’t want your blog’s visitors to see anything like that. An SSL certificate makes it so this doesn’t happen. It’ll add a little padlock to the left of your blog’s URL.
- 1-Click WordPress Install: It can be a little complicated to install the WordPress software, so Bluehost makes it super easy. Just one click of a button installs the software for you.
- 24/7 Support: Break something on your website’s HTML? Yeah, I’ve been there, too. 24/7 support means you can get help from Bluehost—even in the middle-of-the-night.
To get started with Bluehost, do the following:
- Click Get Started from Bluehost’s homepage
- Choose a plan
- Set up your new domain or import an existing one
- Enter your name, address, and payment information to establish your account
- Sign in to Bluehost
- Select My Sites from the left menu
- Click on Create Site
- Name your site and give it a tagline
- Click Next
- Select the domain name you created
- Click Next
DreamHost: The Best Blog Host for Intermediate Bloggers
For some of my niche sites, I use DreamHost. This is because they’re relatively new blogs and I don’t necessarily need a full arsenal of features compared to a larger blog. If I had a lot of files, like I do with this blog, I’d choose an advanced package.
Use this link to get $50 off shared hosting with DreamHost. You’ll pay as little as $2.59 per month when you pay annually. It offers a 97-day money-back guarantee.
- Free Domain included: You can either import your own domain you’ve purchased, or you can get a free domain name through DreamHost.
- WordPress Pre-installed: As soon as you purchase hosting through DreamHost, you have access to WordPress.org.
- New WP Website Builder: While WordPress has its own built-in website builder, DreamHost provides a more robust one. This blog post you’re reading right now was built with the new WP Website Builder.
- Free SSL Certificate: This certificate helps protect your reader’s data. It also lets your readers know they’ve entered a safe website.
- Free Domain Privacy: Any time you purchase a domain, you’re required by law to provide your full name, phone number, and physical address. This is viewable by anyone, and many blog hosts charge to protect this information, but DreamHost does it for free.
DreamPress: The Best Blog Host For Advanced Bloggers
DreamPress is an advanced package offered with DreamHost. This plan is built for blogs with over 100,000 monthly visitors. Your bandwidth is completely unmetered. I use this plan for this blog, Idyllic Pursuit. If you’ve just learned how to start a blog, this may not apply to you, but is still a fantastic choice.
You’ll pay just $16.95 per month when you use this link. What I love about DreamPress (and DreamHost in general), is that you can pay monthly instead of paying for a year in advance. This is perfect for bloggers that don’t yet have the income to pay a lump sum in advance.
- Unlimited Email: When you’re working with brands, you want to use your domain’s email address rather than a generic one (such as Gmail or Hotmail).
- 1-Click Staging: This allows you to make changes to your blog without the risk of “breaking” things. You’ll test it out in a staging area first.
- SSL Certificate Pre-Installed: There’s nothing you need to do with your SSL certificate as it’s installed right out-of-the-box.
- On-Demand + Daily Backups: If you update a plugin and it breaks your site, you can revert your site to a backup in minutes.
- 24/7 WordPress Support: To me, this is invaluable. I’ve contacted support probably 100 times at all hours, and they’re super quick to help me fix things.
- Jetpack Free Pre-Installed: Jetpack is a plugin that prevents malicious login attempts to your site.
2. Select a Blogging Niche
When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I wanted to blog about. I was a serial entrepreneur and stressed pigeonholing myself into writing about just one thing. How can I possibly narrow it down when I love #allthethings?!
When I finally settled on the lifestyle niche, I felt a lot better. My blog evolved over time as I entered different life stages, picked up new hobbies, and realized I hated writing about certain topics.
In fact, this is what my journey looked like:
Health/fitness>>homesteading/parenting>>lifestyle>>travel blogging>>back to lifestyle blogging thanks to the pandemic
Your own blog will evolve over time. In fact, you should pivot as you outgrow certain niches. However, it should be complementary to what you already write about. For example, if you’re blogging about cloth diapers and babywearing, you probably shouldn’t start blogging about technology reviews on the same blog.
When picking your blog niche, it should be:
- Something you’re passionate about
- Something you can monetize
- Something people actually search for
You might look at these three requirements and think…don’t you have to be good at your niche, too?! While being good at your niche can help, it’s not essential. For example, you might be terrible at budgeting and have racked up a ton of debt. You could start a blog about paying down your debt (it’s actually one of my fave niches!).
In fact, bloggers like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income and Neil Patel made millions of dollars documenting their journeys toward success. So if you really want to teach people how to start a blog, despite you never having started one yourself, document your process and show results. People are more likely to view your article on how to start a blog compared to someone who just says they’re an authority—you provide proof.
People love to see the journey, so don’t be afraid to pick a niche you aren’t great at.– Kathy Haan
You might choose a blogging niche that is broad—like a lifestyle blogger. Or, you could narrow the niche to an option underneath the lifestyle blogging umbrella, like travel blogging or mommy blogging.
Here are some blogging niches to consider:
- Blogging (+ all things how to start a blog)
- Social media
- Personal finance
3. Choose a Blog Name
A domain name is simply your blog’s URL or blog name. For example, this blog is https://www.idyllicpursuit.com. When picking your blog’s name, keep a few of these considerations in mind:
- Your name should grow with you: “Single Mom Diaries” might fit your life stage right now, but what happens when you meet the love of your life and settle down? A lot can happen in a year! Try to stick with a blog name that is evergreen, which means it’ll be relevant for more than a season.
- Know your reason for blogging: Are you starting a blog for the sole purpose of selling it down the road? If so, naming your blog “Kathy Haan’s Misadventures” is a mistake—blog buyers don’t typically buy anything with a strong personal brand.
- It should make sense: If you name your blog, “Cookies and Kate” but you blog about retail point-of-sale machines, you might upset readers who expect to read about baking cookies. The name of your blog should be relevant to what you actually write about.
- Don’t be confusing: While Idyllic Pursuit is a pretty creative blog name, I learned the hard way that many people have no idea how to spell either word (?!). Keep your blog name simple and easy to roll-off-the-tongue. You also don’t want anything too similar to other bloggers’ names.
In order to secure a domain name, you must purchase it from a place that sells domain names. Often, your web host (like Bluehost or Dreamhost) offers a free or low-cost domain name. Be sure that once you’ve selected a blog name, you can also get social media handles that match. If not, consider choosing a different blog name.
4. Install a Blog Theme
A blog theme simply changes the look and feel of your blog. No matter which theme you choose, you can typically change the fonts and colors of your blog. Some bloggers hire both a web designer and developer, but that can run thousands of dollars to get a custom blog theme.
A more economical option for obtaining a blog theme with a little more style is to purchase a premium theme. You can find beautiful themes in Creative Market, like the one below. Simply click on the image and you can view many different theme options. Try to find a WordPress blog theme that’s responsive, which means it provides an optimal viewing experience no matter whether the reader is on mobile, a tablet, or a computer.
See What Theme Another Blog Uses
Ever stumble across a blog whose theme you’re obsessed with? You can typically see not only what theme a blog uses, but also what plugins they have installed. The blog must be using WordPress in order to see these.
Simply input the blog’s URL into one of these theme detectors:
If the blog uses a custom theme, such as one they spent thousands of dollars on through a web designer, you won’t know the theme name. It will simply say something like [blog name] Theme. For example, Idyllic Pursuit Theme.
Static Frontpage vs Chronological
Some themes have a static front page, while others simply share blog posts in chronological order. For most of my blogging career, I had a chronological front page. However, I’ve recently switched to a static front page for my niche sites because it gives a more sleek look. After all, I get to showcase exactly what I want to showcase. I’ll eventually migrate this blog to a static front page once I find the time—it’s a bit of work after so many years of using it chronologically.
Notice how clean the Living Well Spending Less blog looks? Ruth Soukup highlights some of her most popular posts on the front page and provides a way for a reader to opt into a free course. The only real downside to this is for readers that religiously read every single blog post, there’s not a way for them to see a chronological list of posts.
Some bloggers include a link to a chronological list at the top of the blog to satisfy those readers who want to see every single blog post. Typically, they simply label this “blog” at the top of the menu. Otherwise, a reader can subscribe to what’s called an RSS feed. When a reader does this, they receive notification any time a post goes live.
Some chronological blogs have “continuous scroll” which means you can scroll all the way to the very first blog post ever. However, most chronological blogs make it so you have to click to view each page. Typically, you’ll see five to 10 blog posts per page.
Upload Your Blog Theme
If you’ve purchased a premium theme, some web designers charge a fee to install your theme for you. Typically, this is around $100. However, I’ve found that it usually only takes me a few minutes to install themes so I’ve never found it necessary. However, if you’re not technically inclined, paying for installation might save you the trouble of attempting it yourself.
Once you’ve found a blog theme you like, download the zip file. You don’t need to unzip this, simply leave it as-is. Just click on customize from the left-hand menu of your WordPress dashboard, then click Change Themes. From there, select “Add New” from the top of the theme dashboard.
From here, you can upload your zip file, or you can choose from a free WordPress-provided theme. Once you’ve uploaded your theme, locate it from the options list, and click Activate.
Customize Your theme
You may need to configure some options depending on your theme. To do this, click on Customize from the left side menu. This is where you can change your theme’s colors, fonts, header image, menu, and whether or not you want a static or chronological front page—if your theme allows it.
5. Start Publishing Blog Posts
Your primary goal as a blogger is to create great content for your readers so that they keep coming back. This helps build credibility and rapport with your readers. In turn, this will present you with more opportunities for making money with your blog.
In order to create your first blog post, you must first know what you’re going to write. I suggest you create an editorial calendar to help maintain consistency in posting. Set up your editorial calendar structure before the section on keyword research. This way, you can plug in posts you want to write as you do the research.
Create an Editorial Calendar
This is one of my fave things to teach people when learning how to start a blog: An editorial calendar is a place to organize your blog’s project workflow. Good editorial calendars have a place for new blog post ideas as well as the entire writing process from researching to publishing. With a system in place for your workflow, it’s easier to create a full-time income from your blog.
You can use physical sticky notes for your editorial calendar, or you can use a digital one. I use two editorial calendars per blog. One functions as a high-level, at-a-glance board that lets me see the “big picture.” Then, I have another calendar in an entirely different program that looks at things on a day-by-day or weekly basis.
The first board I use is in Miro. Think of this as your sticky note calendar. Later on, I talk about pillars and sub-pillars. I use Miro to help me visualize the structure of my blog’s pillars and sub-pillars. Here’s a look at my travel section’s board:
Then, I create a Trello board specifically for blog posts. If you have more than one person working on your blog, you can assign “cards” to whoever is responsible for that particular blog post. Give due dates, add attachments, and move each card between lists to stay organized. What I like the most about Trello is the ability to add checklists.
Conduct Keyword Research
So, how exactly do you know what you should write? You could definitely write whatever you feel like, but that’s isn’t going to get you results quickly. Instead, you should do keyword research. This is usually the part where new and seasoned bloggers alike run for the hills. I know, because this used to be me. In fact, I don’t think I did any keyword research until six years into blogging, which was a huge mistake.
Keyword research simply means you’re doing research on words and phrases that people use on search engines. For example, if I type into Google, “how long to cook a turkey,” I will get a lot of search results on the search engine results page (SERP). Your goal as a blogger is to be on the front page of the SERP—ideally, number one. This is because people are more likely to click on the first few results and rarely ever go to the next page.
If you write blog posts that a lot of people search for, it often translates to more traffic—provided that you have optimized the post for search engines and rank well (known as SEO).
After all, great content doesn’t matter if no one is seeing it. To optimize your blog post for SEO, follow these best practices:
- Titles with approximately six words tend to get the most pageviews
- Use internal and external links
- Have at least 300 words in a blog post (bare minimum—ideally, your blog posts will be 1,200+ words)
- Your keyphrase goes in your meta description, which gets pulled by Google
There are plugins that help you check your SEO on a blog post—such as Jetpack or Easy SEO. If your SEO tasks turn green, you are doing well. It will call out any areas that you need to correct before publishing.
I could have an entire blog on how to conduct keyword research, so for the purposes of this blog post—just know that it is super important to learn.
For now, I recommend checking out this free course on how to conduct keyword research. I promise that SEO isn’t hard, and you may even learn to love it as I do. After you learn the basics, start creating your content.
Log Into Your WordPress Dashboard
To publish your blog post, you must sign in to your dashboard. Because you’re using a self-hosted WordPress blog, you will log into your dashboard by navigating to yourblogURL.com/wp-admin and sign in with your username and password. For example, if I want to sign into my WordPress dashboard I will go to blogasaliving.com/wp-admin.
After logging in, hover over + New at the top of the page. A dropdown menu will appear—click on Post. This will take you to the post editor. It functions a lot like a Word document. You can edit your blog posts visually, or use HTML if you’re tech-savvy.
On this blog, I use Elementor to build my blog posts. It’s a premium editor that really increases the look, functionality, and appeal of my posts.
Whether you use Elementor or the standard post editor that’s already built into WordPress, you edit your posts in “block components.” You can add components like text fields, images, videos, and buttons. With Elementor, you get premium features like drag-and-drop design, dividers, slides, portfolios, and even Google Maps.
Focus on Your Pillar Blog Posts First
Pillar blog posts form the basis of your blog. If you stripped away every blog post but your pillar posts, your reader will still have the basics necessary to accomplish what they need within your niche.
For example, if you blog about homesteading, your pillar posts might include the following:
- How to start a homestead no matter where you live
- How to make money homesteading
- How to homeschool and maintain your homestead
- The ultimate guide to animal husbandry
- How to be self-sufficient on 1/2 acre
Each of these blog posts is high-level, basic posts someone should read if they’re either contemplating starting a homestead or are just getting started. After writing these pillar blog posts, you can break each one down even further.
Continuing with our earlier examples, you can have sub-pillars:
- The best states for homesteading
- How to price your homesteading products
- The top 3 homeschool curriculums
- How to butcher a cow
- The ultimate guide to canning
Keep in mind that you can write many different sub-pillars, and you can even break those sub-pillars down even further, too. For example, “the ultimate guide to canning” is a sub-pillar, but you can also ‘nest’ a bunch of canning recipes even deeper than that.
The idea is to create a cluster of content that you can link to throughout your blog posts. Think of it as a kind of directory for your niche. You’re the one-stop shop for all things homesteading (or whatever your blog niche).
6. Drive Traffic to Your Blog Posts
We’ve already touched on one of the most important ways to drive traffic to your blog (a key component of how to start a blog), which is through SEO. However, it’s really important not to put all of your eggs into the “Google basket.” This means, don’t ever rely solely on search engines to drive traffic for you. Similarly, don’t get it all from any single source (like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter).
The reason you want to diversify your traffic sources is that it really, really sucks when there is an algorithm update and you lose most of your traffic overnight. Or, when search engines decide to punish you for search engine practices it doesn’t like.
A Cautionary Tale About Google
I worked for a New York-based publishing company that received millions of page views every month from Google. It was my favorite job, ever. The culture was incredible, and I got paid well to write about things I absolutely love (like how to start a blog, e-commerce, vlogging, and podcasting).
Despite writers and other experts in the company cautioning against relying on only Google traffic for its millions of dollars in revenue every month, the CEO didn’t listen to the experts. He didn’t want to tap into social media because search engine traffic worked for years.
On the one hand, it made sense. Why fix what isn’t broken? But then, the company received what’s called a “manual action” from Google. This means that the company was penalized by this search engine behemoth because it didn’t like how the company did SEO. None of it was illegal or “icky,” in fact—what it did was pretty standard practices across websites. However, Google changes the rules without ever telling anyone when or why.
While there’s no fine for receiving a manual action, revenue dropped at this company by 40%+ because traffic plummeted almost overnight due to this manual action.
The company had to lay off a good chunk of its staff, and not even a year later laid off another 40% of its staff because the company continued to hemorrhage money despite getting Google to lift the manual action a year after it was placed. The lesson here is to always diversify.
Other Ways to Drive Traffic to Blog Posts
Now that you know never to rely just on search engines for traffic, you’re probably wondering what other ways you can get traffic. I’m a huge fan of using Pinterest. A lot of people think Pinterest is a social media platform, but it isn’t really. I had the privilege of meeting one of the co-founders a few years ago and I was surprised to learn he considers it a visual search engine.
It makes sense, though. When I look for a recipe, I don’t go to Google. I go to Pinterest. I want to see what the recipe looks like, and I want to know if I have the ingredients before I go to the blog post.
The key to getting people to click on your pin that’ll take readers to your blog post is to create great images. Similarly, you need scroll-stopping images on any social media platform. I’ve used Canva Pro for years because it has beautiful templates and it’s super easy to use.
A tool that I use to auto-schedule Instagram and Pinterest posts and stories is Tailwind. Not only that, but this program takes advantage of the social sharing aspect of it. Join Tailwind Tribes, which are groups of bloggers sharing similar content that will also share your content with their audience on Pinterest.
When you use this link, you can save $15 on Tailwind.
7. Make Money Blogging
How to Make Money Blogging
Now that you’ve learned how to start a blog, it’s time to reap the rewards! Bloggers that get any kind of traction are often asked by new bloggers how to make money with a blog. Making money as a blogger comes in many forms—such as creating courses, selling products, using ads, working with sponsors, and earning affiliate income.
Become an Affiliate
Affiliate marketing helps bloggers make an income without needing to create their own products and services. This is why most bloggers start here first. You can generate income through both high-ticket offers and passively any time someone purchases a product or service using the affiliate link.
High Ticket Affiliate Offers
A high-ticket affiliate is someone who promotes offers that cost over a few hundred dollars, and sometimes even thousands of dollars. The affiliate will typically earn 30% to 50% of the sale they refer. You can become an affiliate of a high-ticket course you’ve taken, for an industry event, or you could even write a buyer’s guide on your blog that contains affiliate links.
High-ticket products take more effort to promote, but the income you may generate can be lucrative. For example, every year I promote a PR & media training program offered by a friend of mine. The program costs $3,000, and in my first year as an affiliate, I sold 21 products in just a couple of weeks’ time. I kept 50% of the sale, so I’ll let you do the math on how much I made. I also earned a retreat in Tulum and a VIP dinner party with media in NYC.
Passive Affiliate Income
Earning income passively as an affiliate includes ads, mentioning a product in a blog post, or dropping an affiliate link in an email. It is considered passive because while you do have some setup on the front end, it is generally not the sole focus of your efforts. Ad networks include companies such as Google AdSense, Mediavine, and AdThrive. These ad networks often use ads that rotate based on a user’s internet activity.
You can also run static ads for companies that you like using. An example is signing up as an affiliate for ClickFunnels or Walmart and running a single, static ad that only changes if you specifically change it. Static ads are great for niche sites because it uses hyper-relevant ads.
Work with Sponsors
Writing sponsored posts for brands can be a lucrative way to earn blog income. Even if you don’t have a lot of pageviews on your blog, you can still work with brands as a micro-influencer/blogger. Brands care more about engagement—if you have 5,000 pageviews per month and get 40 comments on every post you create, that’s better than a blog that gets 100,000 pageviews and three comments. This is because business owners can buy vanity metrics, like the number of followers they have. Engagement is much harder for bloggers and influencers to artificially create. It shows brands you’ve got an audience that pays attention.
Here are a couple of ways for you to approach sponsorship on your blog:
Pitch Companies You Use Now
Think about the companies whose products you use now. If those products fit in with your blog niche, research their marketing or partnership contact, and send an email about collaborating. If you are unable to find an email, it’s okay to send a message on social media and ask for a contact.
Become Part of a Network of Bloggers
A talent agency is a company that does the pitching of brands for you and has a network of influencers and bloggers to which it presents opportunities. Oftentimes, these networks have established relationships with these brands and work on many different campaigns throughout the year. You don’t get paid by the brand, but get paid by the agency directly—typically within 60 days of campaign completion.
Here are some of the most popular networks to join as a blogger:
- Influence Central
- Activate by Bloglovin’
- The Women Bloggers
Each agency has its own requirements to become part of its network. However, if you have an established blog with at least 5,000 pageviews per month you can join most networks. So if you’ve just learned how to start a blog, it may take you a few months to meet the application requirements. When you’re part of a network, you can apply for different campaigns that may also have their own traffic requirements.
Sell Your Own Products and Services
With plugins like BigCommerce and Shopify, it’s easy to integrate a shop within your blog. Determine what your audience needs by doing market research and then create a product to fill that need. You can create the product yourself if it’s digital, or you can outsource it by private labeling or white labeling your products.
Consider Private Labeling
A private label product is created by a manufacturer and then sold under a retailer’s name. Examples of this include Kirkland Signature sold under Costco and Walmart’s Great Value. Both retailers sell thousands of different types of products from many manufacturers, but also sell their own branded products.
White Label Your Products
To white label a product, you purchase products from a manufacturer and rebrand it as your own. This differs from private labeling in that the manufacturer is also selling this product to many other companies for white labeling. This is a common technique in the supplement industry but can be used for a wide range of products—including digital ones.
Create a Course to Make Money Blogging
When you create an online course for your readers, you put in more work on the front end to then earn a residual income for years to come. It’s important to create an evergreen course, which means that it isn’t just relevant for the immediate term, but for a long time. This way, you can continue to sell it for years while periodically updating it.
Do Your Market Research
What you consider a great course idea may not resonate with your audience. Poll your readers so that you can understand their needs and desires. You can poll them in a survey you send via email, or you can get them on the phone so that you can ask additional questions as they come up in a conversation. Tailoring the course to their needs as a whole will make the course creation process easier. You can also ask survey respondents if they’d like to know as soon as it’s available for purchase.
Determine Each Unit in Your Course
Now that you know what your audience desires in a course, you will need to choose what units you want to include. The idea isn’t to include everything you can but to only include what makes sense. For example, if you’re creating a course for beginners in a certain subject, you can omit anything more advanced. Similarly, if your course is for advanced users you won’t need to include beginner subjects.
Create a Sales Page to Pre-sell Your Course
Although you conducted market research and your readers said this is what they want in a course, it does not necessarily mean they’ll purchase it. You don’t want to spend six months creating your entire course only for no one to enroll. By creating a sales page and pre-selling your course, you can save a lot of time. A WordPress plugin like Parallax Gravity Landing makes it easy to create a sales page for your course.
A popular strategy is pre-selling the course to beta testers for a reduced rate, with the expectation they will provide feedback as they go through the course and provide a testimonial at the end. This helps fine-tune your course before launching it to your entire audience and gives you testimonials to use in the promotion of it.
Set Up a Subscription or Membership Site
A subscription or membership model is increasing in popularity thanks to subscription boxes and Amazon Prime. A membership site allows your audience to learn from you on a regular basis and earns you recurring revenue. This enables you to scale exponentially since you can sell many spots on your membership site.
Determine Where to Host Your Membership Site
Your membership or subscription site can be hosted right within WordPress using a plugin like WooCommerce Memberships. Otherwise, you can host your course in Teachable, Kajabi, or Thinkific. Where you host your course is a matter of personal preference as they have similar features.
Create Your Membership Site’s First Month of Content
Your membership site differs from a course in that users expect to have content as soon as they sign up. For this reason, you’ll want to have at least a month’s worth of content available upon enrollment. The content you create can include things like videos, PDFs, interviews, and workbooks.
FAQs about How to Start a Blog
Your income will depend on many factors, such as pageviews and how you monetize your blog. However, popular bloggers make from $1,500 to $125,000 or more per month.
There are many ways to make money blogging for others. You can be a ghostwriter, a recipe creator, and a freelance contributor. For recipe creation, you can take photos and sell them as a package. For exclusive recipes, creators can make well over $300 for each, plus the cost of ingredients.
While blogging consistently is important, quality matters more than quantity. If you want to make a full-time income as a blogger, you should treat it like a full-time job. If you treat it like a hobby, it will also pay you like a hobby. Producing two to three quality blog posts per week is considered full-time.
Bottom Line: How to Start a Blog
Now that you know how to start a blog and make money doing it, choose the strategy that works best for your situation. You might not enjoy creating courses, but you might love being an affiliate for someone else’s product instead. Your financial freedom depends entirely on what you do with the tools and resources available to you.
When you’re ready to start your own blog, choose a reliable blog host. Bluehost helps keep your blog up when you need it for just $3.95 per month. It also allows you to create a business email address and domain name, both of which are important for making money blogging.