In this article we will talk about how to start a blog and make money online.
Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no additional cost for you.
Blogs are often the brainchild of individuals who desire to use their knowledge to help their audience and make money online in the process.
If you are thinking of creating your own website but don’t know where to start, you can follow this step-by-step guide.
How to Start a Blog and Make Money Online: Your Ultimate Guide
Step 1: Choose a Niche
Choosing a niche you would like to stick with is of utmost importance; it determines the future of your website. This will stand as the basis for your content creation, and hopefully, you’ll be able to even make money from it.
There are thousands of niches you can choose from. Here are just a few examples: health, personal finance, mental health, lifestyle, relationships, sport, real estate, etc.
However, some of these niches do better than others and are easier to monetize. Therefore, you should perhaps do some research to understand which niche would be your best bet before starting.
The good news is there is always an audience out there for every single topic you might be interested in.
However, to make the process of finding the perfect blog niche, you will need to ask yourself a few questions:
What Is Your Forte?
If you want to know how to start a blog and make money through it, you must focus on a topic you know a lot about. This step is key.
Do you have any talent? What are the things that interest you? What is the topic you feel knowledgeable about? Is there a topic you would speak about for hours?
Asking yourself these questions is important because if you end up with a niche you have no 100% interest in, it will only take a few months for you to burn out. Instead, if you choose your area of expertise, if you choose a topic you’re passionate about, you probably won’t give up.
What Do People Want?
Another important question you need to ask yourself is, what do people need?
What is their area of interest? You don’t want to keep reeling out content that doesn’t interest people.
Therefore, look for a niche that is not too competitive but that will interest a large audience.
You can also choose a not-so-popular niche. Just make sure to do some keyword research and create content around high-volume keywords in that niche.
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
After choosing the niche you would love to create content on, you must choose a domain name. At this step you only have to come up with a domain name idea, you will purchase the domain later, when setting up the blog.
A domain name is simply the blog name (for example forbes.com, entrepreneur.com, etc.), and it’s what users will use to search for your website once it’s up and running.
The importance of a domain name is often underrated.
It’s the foundation on which the subsequent activities of the blog will be built, so you should make sure to choose a concise and easy-to-remember name.
Even though all catchy blog names seem to have been taken, you don’t have to worry. There are ways you can go about getting great blog names.
- Choose an easy-to-pronounce name: Reduce your intended blog name to a simple pronounceable unit. No one wants to keep tabs on blog names that are unnecessarily complex.
- Use the .com, .net, or .co extention: Most blog names have these attached to them, and many wonder why. These extensions are usually used to overcome roadblocks; .org is usually used for a non-profit organization, while .com, .co and .net are used for for-profit businesses. So, in learning how to start a blog and make money, get familiar with these extensions.
- Don’t use characters or numbers: This will aid retention. Also, it will be easy to remember the domain name and type it out on a search bar.
- (Optional) Use your name: If you don’t want to break a sweat searching for a domain name, then use your name; chances are no one is using your full name as their domain.
- If possible, choose a name that includes an important keyword in your niche. For example, if you want to write about plants or gardening, it would be great to include the keyword plant or plants in your domain.
If you can’t come up with a domain name, then you can always buy an already existing website with a good, optimized domain name.
However, this can be expensive, especially if you want a high-quality, .com domain; for instance, a high-quality domain could be worth $15,000 or more. In any case, you can buy a website on Flippa.
That’s my favorite platform.
Step 3: Choose A Domain Host
Now that you have a name for your blog, the next thing is to find a house for your blog. A domain host is your blog’s house; for instance, if you are a mechanic, you will need a space for your business, the same way you need a space for blogging.
There are different options you can choose from while searching for a hosting web; here are a few:
For this blog post, we will focus on Bluehost, as in my opinion it’s one the best ones, especially for beginners. It includes the domain for free during the first year, and you don’t have to pay for WordPress.
Now that you are ready to set up on a hosting web, go to the official website of Bluehost and click on the “Start Building” icon under “Wordpress made easy”.
You’ll be then redirected to the page where you can choose a hosting plan.
On this page, there are multiple options, and the prices are around $2,60 to $6 every month.
The amount solely depends on the plan you choose; the amount for a single blog plan is different from that of a robust plan that allows you to create multiple blogs.
Once you’ve chosen a plan, proceed to enter your domain name – remember that it’s free with Bluehost. If you don’t have a domain name, you can enter your intended domain name in the “Create a new domain” box.
And if you already have a domain name, enter your domain name in the “Use a domain you own” box. Proceed and click on the “Next” button.
The next thing to do now is to create your blogging account. You will be required to provide information like your full name, country, city, email, etc. Make sure you fill in all the information to complete this stage.
After that, click on the “create your password” button to complete the setup. A confirmation code will be sent to your email, and just like that, you have successfully set up your domain on Bluehost.
Step 4: Install WordPress
Every blog needs a content management system (CMS).
The CMS allows you to create, publish and manage blog posts. The most convenient option is WordPress, and that is because it is easy to use. Not to mention it allows you to customize your website to your taste by providing different theme options.
If you want to start a blog and make money, WordPress is the right tool for you.
The good thing about WordPress is that most hosting websites have it linked up to their sign-up process; that way, you can install WordPress while setting up your website.
Bluehost makes it easy for you. If you followed the instructions in the previous sections, WordPress will be ready to install at this point.
- Once you’ve created your password you will be redirected to your Bluehost account.
- At this point Bluehost will ask you to choose a theme.
Step 5: Choose a WordPress Theme
Another vital step while setting up a blog is choosing a theme.
The theme is the overall look, feel, and style of your website, including colors, style, and layout. In essence, your website theme speaks for your brand and impacts users’ experience.
The theme selection process can be tedious because there are thousands of themes. There are free themes and paid themes.
If your blog is new you can go for a free theme. An option I like for new blogs is Neve.
If you want to go directly for a paid theme, I recommend Generate Press.
It’s a great theme if you want a good site speed – which is essential to your website performance.
Once you’ve chosen your theme, you can click on Start Building and you’ll be able to customize your website.
Step 6: How to Access Your Dashboard and Change Theme
If you want to turn the computer off and customize your website later, you can simply log in to your WordPress dashboard later.
So, how do you access your WordPress dashboard?
You simply have to log into your WordPress admin page. You can access it by going to [yourdomain.com/wp-admin]
Type in your login information.
Once you’re in, click on “Appearance” in the menu in the sidebar, then click “Themes.”
Click the “Add New” button at the top to access WordPress themes.
Pick the one that suits your needs.
After that, you can click on Live Preview, to see how your blog will look like; this will give you the chance to decide whether or not it suits your needs and whether to install or look for a more appealing theme.
When the installation is done, click the “Activate” button, and now you have your choice theme activated.
If you can’t find the theme you like on WordPress, you can go to commercial sites like “StudioPress,” and “Thrive Themes” to purchase one.
Step 7: Optimize Your Blog
Connecting your website to Google will make finding your blog on search engines possible.
The SEO process might seem complex, but you can make it easier by starting from the easiest step to get your blog optimized.
Go to Plugins and click on “Add New”.
Search for “Yoast SEO” in the search bar; it will be the first result to pop up.
Select the “Install Now” icon. Then, press the “Activate” button. Now that the installation is successful, open the plugin and follow the setup process.
Next, go to the tab “Webmaster Tools” and click “Google Search Console.”
This step is essential as Google Search Console will allow you to submit your articles to their search index and optimize the visibility of your blog.
Login to your Google account, go to the “Alternate methods” tab, and click “HTML tag. Copy the meta code that pops up, leaving out the quotation marks.
Then, go back to the Yoast Setup (Webmaster tools tab) paste the meta code into the “Google Search Console” text box and click “Save Changes”.
Then click the “Verify” button on Google Search Console.
Step 8: Write Your First Blog Posts
A domain name, checked.
SEO plugin setup, checked.
Now, you can create a post directly from WordPress.
From your WordPress Dashboard, click on “Posts” then “Add New”.
Make sure to add visuals to your post; it is very important because it helps retain readers.
After writing your first blog post, another important step is to optimize it through the Yoast plugin.
You will find it at the bottom of the post.
Completing the Yoast optimization will give you a preview of what your post will look like on search engines; it will also provide some useful feedback for keyword optimization.
What every blogger will tell you is to follow Yoast instructions until the Yoast dot at the top of your blog post becomes green.
However, my advice is to write for humans first.
Make sure your content is going to actually answer your audience questions in detail. Then, optimize your posts to help search engines find them.
But don’t overoptimize your content.
Don’t include the keyword in every subheading, and don’t repeat the keyword 100 times in your article.
This said, once you’re ready to publish your post, scroll up to the right of the “preview” button and click “Publish”.
But before doing it, make sure to check for grammatical errors and typos, and make sure your content flows naturally too. You can use Grammarly, it’s the best option in my opinion.
When you finish correcting the typos (if any), you can publish your post. Do this by clicking the “publish” button.
Rinse and repeat. The goal is to publish at least 30-35 blog post. If you can publish at least 50, even better.
According to Matrics360, once you have at least 50 posts your blog traffic increases by 53%.
And with the optimization that you have put in place, your blog posts can be finally indexed in search engines. This might take a few months, so don’t worry if you don’t see traffic right away, it’s completely normal.
My main blog today gets more than 125k pageviews per month. It took five months to see the first traffic.
Recommended read: How to Really Make 10K Dollars a Month: 6 Strategies That Work
Step 9: How to Monetize Your Blog and Make Money
Monetizing your blog is not as hard as it seems.
In fact, it can be pretty easy. However, the success of your monetization strategy significantly depends on the quality of your content, your expertise, and the relationship you have built with your audience.
Here are some important steps to follow if you want to monetize your blog.
1. Do keyword research
To be able to monetize your blog, you need to focus on increasing your traffic first.
And you do that not just by publishing a lot of high-quality content, but also by understanding what your audience really needs.
And you can do that with keyword research.
If you’re a beginner, my advice is to look for keywords with:
- a good monthly search volume (at least 50 searches per month),
- and that are not too competitive (Ahrefs KD between 0 and 10; Ubersuggest SD between 1 and 25).
Through keyword research you can also identify popular queries that haven’t been answered yet or for which there is not much content in the search results.
And that’s one of the best ways to help your audience find what they’re looking for.
You can make money by simply selling ad units on your website. All you need to do is to place ads on your website. You can do it by joining Google Adsense – or an ad network once you have more traffic.
Once you have at least 20-30 high-quality, optimized blog posts, you can apply for Google AdSense.
Once you reach 50,000 sessions per month, you can apply for Mediavine. In my case, that’s where the real money come from: I make at least $8,000 a month with my main blog.
Here’s a screenshot of my earnings:
3. Affiliate links
You can also make money through affiliate links.
For example, once you have enough great content on your blog, you can recommend any of the Amazon products you have tried and you truly believe in, and that are related to your content.
All you have to do is share an Amazon affiliate link, and each time any of your readers purchases through your link, you get a commission.
The commission depends on the product category and marketplace. You can join the Amazon affiliate program here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/
Every time you share an affiliate link, make sure to mark it as sponsored and nofollow – see screenshots below.
4. Selling your own digital products
If you’re an expert in your niche, why not creating a course or an e-book and sell it through your website?
If you want to create and sell a course, Teachable is your best bet, they also have a free plan.
While if you have an e-book, you can use Gumroad.
A good idea is to give your product visibility by placing a widget or a link to it in the sidebar of your blog.
This way, every reader who finds your blog will see your product.
Now that you have learned how to start a blog and make money online, you need to stay consistent and publish often – at least once a week.
Nobody said starting a blog would be easy.
In fact, starting a blog means starting a business; it comes with burdens, and one of the many mistakes bloggers often make is a lack of consistency.
You started the blog to write and create content and not breed cobwebs; nobody becomes successful at what they do without consistency and dedication.
For that reason, make sure to learn more about SEO so that your website can appear in search engine results often.
This helps boost the traffic your blog receives daily to set you on the right path to successfully monetizing your blog and build your passive income machine.
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