If you are about to set up a blog for the first time, let me welcome you to the start of an incredible journey. I wanted to create a step-by-step process for creating a blog that earns money. Basically, I wanted to write the guide that I wish I could have found when I first started blogging. Consider this a handbook for how to start a blog that earns money, even if you know nothing about blogging!
First, while I believe there are many reasons to start a blog, it is ok to start a blog with the intention of earning money from it. I did. Being able to work from home and earn passive income should be very appealing! While blogging isn’t a get rich quick scheme (it truly does take time and effort to grow), the amount of money you can earn should not be underestimated. There are bloggers earning millions of dollars every year. I would say if you’re hoping to earn $1000+ a month blogging, that is a very achievable goal.
How to start a blog that earns money!
1) Choose a topic/niche
For obvious reasons, this is likely the most important step. Blogging takes time and effort, so you want to choose a topic you truly care about and can write about long term. I love personal finance, so this was an easy choice for me. There are successful blogs in almost every niche, so there is a good chance that if you are passionate about something people will want to read it.
A suggestion I have for testing whether you are passionate about a topic (and whether it is broad enough to create a blog about) is to write 20 article ideas before you start out. You don’t need to actually write the articles yet! Simply come up with the headlines. This is just a test to make sure you have chosen a niche you can write about for awhile, and it is EXTREMELY handy to have that list once you actually start writing the posts.
2) Choose your domain name and hosting platform
Personally I did not know what those words meant when I started blogging, so let me explain.
Your domain name is the title of your website. It tells your readers what topic you will be writing about. I suggest picking something broad enough that you have room to expand your articles. For example, maybe your name is Sarah and you want to start a cooking blog. Choosing a domain such as “CookingwithSarah” would be great. If you chose a domain like “PastawithSarah” you can now only post about pasta, otherwise your site name doesn’t make sense. Choose something broad.
A hosting account is where you store files on the internet. An easy way to think of it is like the hard drive on your computer. When you save files on your computer, they get stored as memory on your hard drive. A hosting account is where your blog gets saved on the internet.
While there are free hosting platforms available, I would strongly suggest against using them. If you use a free platform you do not actually own your website. That means that the platform can do what they want with your site, including adding advertisements and earning money off of it. The free platform can earn money, but you can’t!! They make all the decisions, and take all of the profit. They can also get rid of your website at any moment, so all your hard work may be lost.
So which hosting provider should you use?
I suggest using Bluehost for multiple reasons.
- They’re extremely cheap (Click here to use my link and start a website for less than $4 a month!!)
- If you use my link, you will get a free domain name if you register for at least 12 months. This is a $15 savings!
- Bluehost has responsive customer service. When you’re learning how to blog, being able to ask questions and quickly get answers is so helpful.
- They make it incredibly simple to install a blog (it’s literally just one click). As I previously explained, I’m not skilled at tech stuff, so if I can do it so can you.
- They have a 30 day money back guarantee, so if you change your mind about blogging trying it is free!
- They are the only platform that automatically includes WordPress in the installation!
WordPress is where you will design and write your blog. Think of it as the content manager of your blog, while Bluehost is the hard drive where things get saved. Bluehost and WordPress are extremely popular, therefore there is a lot of information out there for every question you may have. As a novice blogger, being able to google how to do each step of blogging is very helpful.
If I have convinced you to try Bluehost click here!
3) Start your blog!
Before we start into the basics of blogging, there are a few suggestions I have if you want to earn money from your blog. First, I would not suggest telling a large number of people about your blog until you have at least 10 articles. It can be good to tell a few close friends and family members for support/feedback, but showing your writing to a large group initially can be daunting.
The other reason I suggest keeping it private (ie not telling your social media yet) is because many people will only read your blog once. By having a solid site design before their visit, you increase the chance of impressing them at first view and having them return. More content also means more page views, which is huge when you’re starting out. Don’t burn the lead by sharing your blog too early! Focus on writing high quality articles with visual appeal that you personally would want to read.
4) Make your blog beautiful
Appearance means a lot, and people are less likely or share your posts if your blog does not look good. Luckily you do not need to be great at design because there are so many tools available!
First, if you are using WordPress you will need to pick a theme for your blog by clicking the “appearance” tab. There are fantastic free layouts that get configured for you. When I was just starting out, I tried 14 different themes before deciding on one I liked. Experiment and find one that suits you and your topic! There are themes available for purchase as well, but I personally find the free theme works great.
Next, you will need to use high quality photos for your posts. If you are starting a photography or food website you will likely be taking the photos yourself. For everyone else, I suggest Unsplash. It is completely free, and the photo selection is unbelievable. All pictures you see on my site (other than ones I took myself) are from Unsplash.
You will likely want to create graphics for your blog and social media as well. The best website I can recommend is Canva. The photo above is from Unsplash, and the editing/text I added using Canva. It is also 100% free! I can’t rave about it enough.
5) Use Plug-ins
Plug-ins are tools you can download on WordPress. There are literally thousands to choose from, and they make adding website features much easier. There are a few plug-ins I can’t do without:
- Yoast. If you have a blog, you NEED Yoast. You will learn a lot about search engine optimization as you blog (essentially how your site gets found by new people), and yoast is the best way to do it. It is also 100% free! (are you sensing a trend in me liking free things?)
- Sharethis. If you intend on making your posts shareable on social media (you should), you will need a program to do that. There are many fairly expensive ones out there, but Sharethis has most of the same features and is completely free!
6) Let’s start making money
There are many ways bloggers can earn money: affiliate links, selling their own products, advertisements, etc. I’m going to focus on the two ways I personally earn money with this blog:
An affiliate program is when you partner with a company, and add links to their products. When people make a purchase through that company, you earn a small percentage. For example, if you look at this post of mine I wrote reviews on my favorite finance books. If readers click the links, they will be taken to amazon where they can purchase the books (or anything else) and I will get a tiny commission (typically 3-5%).
Most bloggers use affiliate links to earn some money. You can find companies that you can work with by googling their name + affiliate program. I would strongly suggest to only recommend products you believe in and personally use!! Readers can tell when they are being sold to, so be honest. I also advise that you focus on writing useful, high quality articles as your main goal, and only write reviews for things you believe can actually help your readers.
You can also partner with companies to advertise on your blog. Most bloggers start with Google Adsense. Once you have 10-15 blog posts, start applying ( I got accepted when I had 11). As you scroll through my blog, you will see ads from various companies. This earns me money in two ways:
- CPC or cost per click. If a reader sees an ad that interests them, and clicks on it, you earn a small amount of money. How much you earn depends on which companies are bidding for space on your blog, so it varies. The reader does not have to make a purchase once they click the ad; you get paid simply for the click.
- CPM or cost per thousand impressions. As readers scroll through your blog, they will pass the advertisements. Each view is considered an impression, and you paid paid a small amount. Again, it varies depending on how much companies are bidding. The more page views and traffic your site gets, the more you earn.
7) Get blog visitors!
Now that you have set up avenues to earn money, it is time to grow your audience. There are tons of ways to do this (Google it and lose a Saturday reading through massive amounts of articles), but the two I have focused on are telling people I know, and growing on social media.
It’s time to tell people in your social circle
For me, this was the scariest part. When I first started my blog, I only told 5 people (massive thank you to you guys for the support and feedback!). Once I had 12 articles and the previous steps covered, I decided it was time to share it on Instagram and Facebook. I was terrified for people to know how much debt I had. By posting to those platforms, instantly my friends, family, coworkers, and other followers knew my personal story. Will it be nerve-racking to share your work? Probably. But it is the best way to quickly grow your blog, and it is worth it.
Grow your audience with social media
Most articles you read will recommend Pinterest and Instagram as the main social media platforms for growing your blog. Since I am no expert myself, I decided to share links for the tutorials that helped me (they can explain it better than I can!)
So there you have it, my step by step process for how to start a blog that earns money. If you found this post helpful, please let me know in the comments or share this article to your social media using the icons below! If you are ready to start your own blog, head to Bluehost now!
For a list of all posts I’ve written, click here