How to Start a Blog and Make Money Online
Statistics show that a new blog goes online every half second, which is mainly because blogging is one fine way to flex your writing skills, dig deeper into details about topics you really love, express your creativity in style, and raise awareness about the products you sell. From craft, interior design, and photography blogs to business, marketing, and motivational blogs, blogs come in all sizes in shapes. But, do all blogs work and manage to serve the purpose right?
They do not.
There are ways to make your blogs work, but before that, you need to know exactly how to start blogging.
How to Start a Blog from Scratch
1. Select a Domain Name
First thing first, choose a domain name for your new blog. Understand that the name you choose will stay with you for a long time, so it makes sense to take your time and have a list of options before you finalize a name. Considering your niche while selecting a domain name will definitely help. Still, you should select a domain name that sounds like a brand, is memorable, and is unique.
Do not go overboard with the idea of making it unique – it should still be pronounceable and easy to remember. For this, you need to keep it short, ensure that it tells something about your niche, and have your primary keyword (if possible of course). Do not select a name that infringes on an existing trademark and be ready to be creative when your first choice of domain name is not available.
2. Choose the Best Blogging Platform
You will hear experts arguing about how to get started in the blogosphere, but the most important thing – after you decide on what your blog will be about – is to determine the best platform for your blog. Here are some of the best blogging platforms to get you started.
- WordPress: If you are currently thinking of starting your own blog, the chances are you know or have at least heard about WordPress. It is free and certainly among the leaders in the blogging platform industry. Simply sign up and create your blog in a matter of minutes. You can pick a theme to make your blog look perfect. Premium services are also available that let you using premium fonts, themes, and color options. The availability of so many plug-ins makes it much easier to manage your blog.
- Blogger: This Google’s version of blogging is free but offers optional premium extras. Try it and you will get a chance to use Google apps such as Networked Blogs and Feedburner free of cost. Its interface is quite straightforward, making it easier for you to have full control over the look and feel of your blog. You may have to look for other blogging platforms though if your aim is to have a self-hosted blog in the near future.
- Squarespace: It is a new player in the blogging industry but has already found its place, thanks to the availability of a completely package that includes websites, hosting, domains, commerce, and 24/7 support. Within minutes, you can create an aesthetically pleasing blog that is already optimized for mobile devices. The blogging platform is free for the first 14 days only.
- Dropplets: In case you want to get started without having to pay anything, you may consider Dropplets. This open source blogging platform is free to use, so you can definitely play about with it and tweak as per your preferences. Just upload it to your hosting server and load your website. Your blog will be up and running in a few simple steps.
- Postagon: It is one of the best blogging platforms for the beginners. Your blog will be up and running in a few seconds and you can start publishing right away. This browser-based blogging platform offers some extras, including domain name, email subscriptions, posts via email, RSS feeds, and social sharing.
In addition, you can also look into some other blogging platforms and decide what suits you the most. Some great examples are Svbtle, Ghost, Postach.io, Medium, and Scriptogram. Some of these platforms will cost you money, but their simple-to-use interface and attractive features will make blogging a tad easier.
3. Get Hosting & Set Up Your Blog
The next step after you have registered a domain name and choosen your blogging platform is to get some web hosting and install your blog. Frankly, a tutorial about choosing the best web hosting and how to set up a wordpress blog is beyond the purview of this article — search online for these and you’ll find a million tutorials that will walk you through.
- Personally, I recommend looking at WordPress as the easiest, most comprehensive blogging platform.
- You can then find some cheap, reliable hosting from sources like HostGator and BlueHost (you can always upgrade to better hosting once you build a website that gets traffic).
- You’ll need to configure your domain name to link to your new webhosting (easy — search tutorials online for this).
- After this, you will then upload your wordpress installation via FTP to your new hosting.
- Once you have your wordpress installed, you’ll want to look at customizing the look of it to match your blog topic and design sense. I recommend looking at premium wordpress themes if you choose wordpress — there are literally thousands of professionally designed themes you can choose from. Setting up a new theme (and the design look of your new blog) literally takes only a couple minutes, if you use WordPress and buy a premium wordpress theme from a place like ThemeForest.net.
- Once you have your wordpress installed, a theme set up, and your basic wordpress plugins installed, now you need to produce content.
- Content is KEY because the content is what forms the core of your blog.
4. Produce Strategic Content
Once you have your blog up, you need to populate it with strategically produced content. Here are a few things to remember when producing and publishing content.
- Under no circumstances should you be publishing copied content on your blog. Keep everything original to ensure it catches up with your audience and stays up for a long time.
- Pay as much attention to creating quality headlines as possible. Statistics show that 80% of people read headlines but only 20% of those readers go on to read your post. Ensure that your headlines are useful, unique, ultra-specific, and urgent.
- Make certain that your post provides valuable information to your readers. Know that they check your posts to get answer to their questions. You have several choices here actually – you can write some news posts, instructional posts, personal spotlight posts, cheat-sheet posts, how-to posts, or some entertaining posts to grab your reader’s attention while providing something of value.
- Make your blog a visual treat for your audience. Blog posts that only contain text are no longer interesting for the audience. You have to include some catchy images whenever you can. The best thing is to take your own photos and share them on your blog to personalize everything. Be sure to start working with visual content to make your blog a hit real soon.
- Make use of SEO when creating your content. Identify the most important keywords related to your niche and know what serves your business in the best way possible. Use those keywords in a logical way in your posts to make your posts visible to the search engines. Keep in mind that SEO is changing and your emphasis should always be on providing valuable content.
- Use your blog to grow your mailing list. This is very important if your blog is part of your business website. You can share quality content on your blog to raise people’s interest in your products or services. You can even enlighten them about different ways your services or products can make their lives easier. But you can grab people’s attention and sell your stuff if you gain access to their inboxes, and that is when growing your mail list makes a lot of sense. You can even use this info to promote an affiliate product.
- Always think about your competition before creating a post. Not thinking about your competition when deciding on what to publish is a big mistake. It does not make great sense to write about a topic that has already been covered several times by your competition. Try some tools and programs to do some research into your competition and learn what keywords others are targeting and how well their strategies are working.
5. Building a Readership to Your Blog
There is no point in starting a blog if there is no audience for it, and you will build an audience if you share quality stuff on your blog. It is all a circle – give something interesting to your audience to keep them glued and stay motivated considering your traffic, likes, and links. Here are some simple ways to increase traffic to your blog:
- Have your focus placed on increasing your social shares – you will see more people visit your blog if you make your readers share your content on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.
- Create great posts with compelling headlines. You need a killer headline to persuade people. Work on that!
- Find the best keywords suitable for your niche and use them properly. Make use of long tail keywords to make your posts visible in search engines. Learning to use keywords properly is the only way to get traffic from search engines.
- Write posts for other blogs as well. Establish yourself as an authority in your niche and never miss an opportunity to engage with your peers to achieve this goal.
- Be sure to leave comments on other blog posts to guide people to yours. Make certain that you leave thoughtful comments to increase traffic to your blog.
- Try networking strategies and attend webinars. Be sure to join seminars to build a community.
- Be sure to keep your blog updated. Starting a blog and forgetting about it after uploading a few posts is a recipe for disaster. Know your niche, know your audience, and know how frequently you need to update a blog.
- Take part in forum discussions to help build connections with other bloggers in the industry.
These are some simple ways to try to build a profitable and popular blog. Understand that building a profitable blog from scratch does not have to be that difficult, but it sure requires some hard work and commitment. You need to wow you audience with your quality posts and your knowledge of a particular niche. Take advantage of search engine optimization at the same time. Do the basics right and there is no reason why you cannot build a popular blog in a short time.
How to Turn Your Blog into an Online Money Maker
Once you have your blog setup, you are churning out regular content and you’ve managed to start getting traffic, now you need to think about HOW to make money online with that blog. There is no ‘figure’ for traffic I can give you that you should look at specifically to decide when to monetize your site. However, in my own experience, I’ve found that once a website starts to generate between 200 to 500 visitors a day, you can start making money with it.
The money you make will dramatically depend in your website niche (i.e. are you in finance, pets, health, fitness, home & gardening, etc), the type of traffic your site gets (search engine traffic, social media traffic, direct traffic, etc), the layout of your site, and the type of monetization. You can generate anywhere from a dollar a day to a hundred dollars a day from this level of traffic (in my experience).
Turning your blog into something that makes money is arguably an entire post just in itself. However, there are a few core things to keep in mind. These are specific strategies to follow AFTER you have started your blog have produced a decent amount of content.
Get Traffic to Your Blog
To make money, you need readers. More readers, typically means more money making opportunities. However, you don’t have to create a blog with thousands of readers a day (or more). If you have a niche blog and reach a very targeted audience in the right segment, you can make money — maybe even a lot of money — without huge traffic.
There are a number of traffic-building strategies. Keep in mind that as a blogger, you are a content marketer; and the core element of a content marketer is…creating good, engaging content. Other methods are to look at promoting your blog via social media, paid advertising, and reaching out to other blogs to share your content.
You can get traffic from Search Engines and Social Media; the combination of the two will usually be the bulk of your traffic.
Seek out Focused Niches To Start Blogs In
Niches are specific, laser targeted topics you can create a blog about.
For example ‘coffee machines’ is a niche. ‘Baby toys’ in a niche. ‘Wood Carving Tools’ is a niche. Niches can be ‘wide’ — say running shoes or baby toys or narrow such as ‘running shoes for women or hand-crafted baby toys.
Typically, wider niches get a lot more traffic but have less ‘conversions’ (actions that make you money such as readers clicking on an ad or buying something) while more focused, narrow niches get less traffic but often have higher conversions.
One variant of the narrow niche is called the ‘long tail’ which is simply a keyword phrase that people type into the search engines, such as ‘best running shoes for trail running.’ It’s entirely possible to build a comprehensive website only around a long tail topic and, due to how focused that site is, to make money from it — maybe even good money.
To find the ‘right’ niches that you can make money in, you need to look into ‘Keyword Research’, which is basically the art of finding money-making topics to build websites on. There are entire websites on the web devoted to sharing Keyword Research strategies for bloggers.
Create a Website About a Topic You Are an Expert In (or at least passionate)
The best websites are often created by experts about that topic who can really create comprehensive articles on that topic. However, you don’t necessarly have to be an expert — if you are passionate about a topic, you can certainly create a quality website about it. Keep in mind that it can take dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of hours over the course of years to build a large website that attracts lots of readers. If you spend that much time on a website, you want to KNOW a lot about the topic and to, ideally, be passionate about it!
Build Large Authority Style Websites
One piece of advice you should consider is to build very large websites that comprehensively cover a topic. These types of sites tend to, over the years, develop broad search ranking authority from Google, which means you’ll can generate thousands of visitors a day just from Google search. These visitors are valuable because they are often looking for something specific — and you can make money by offering those readers a solution of some sort — one that generates you money.
Another option is to create a lot of smaller type websites about various topics. However, it’s often much more viable, and rewarding, to build up a single large, highly traffic website rather than a portfolio of smaller websites that get less traffic. For example, you are better able to handle a single website than 20 small websites.
Use Social Media to Jumpstart Traffic & Develop Readers
One trick you can use right away to develop some readers, without having to wait months or years for good search engine rankings & traffic, is to leverage social media to build a readership. This often involves creating an active and compelling Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter and to use these sites to drive traffic to your new blog. Building up a successful Facebook Page, for example, is a complete topic in it’s own right. But keep in mind that Social Media can be very useful to drive traffic right away to your sites, IF you can build up successful social media properties (i.e. a Facebook Page with lots of followers).
Pursue Different Monetization Strategies
Once you have a site that gets traffic, you need to think about how to make money. There are quite a few different methods of making money; some methods may work much better for different websites and readership types then others.
Here are some of the core ways you can generate money on your website:
- Adsense / Media.net
- Direct Advertising
- Lead Generation
- Affiliate Marketing
- Amazon Affiliates
- eCommerce (and drop shipping)
- Digital Product Creation (create a digital product and sell it on your website)
- Kindle Ebooks (write a kindle book and sell it on Amazon)
- Amazon FBA (create physical products via China factories and sell them on Amazon)
- Membership Sites
Keep in mind that you will likely need to TEST different monetization strategies out on your website to see what (or what combination) generates the most money. For example, if you have a website about Android Phones, it’s a no brainer that you’ll want to look at making money via the Amazon Affiliate program which will give you a small commission for referring visitors to Amazon who buy something (after clicking on your link).
If you have a website about financial topics (stocks, loans, mortgages, personal finance), you may want to look at Adsense or a financial affiliate program / lead generation program which can earn money from that sort of traffic.
Keep in mind that you can also create your OWN digital product tailored just to your readership. This may be the only way to make money for some websites.
The bottom line is that once you start getting some traffic, you are going to have to test out different methods.
The Final Word
Starting a blog about a topic you are interested in or passionate about may be one of the best, life changing things you can do for yourself. It could be, in time, a means to a flexible, brand-new career.
However, building up a blog to the point where you can make money from it (part time or full time income) is a process that takes a lot of work on your part. This is NOT something you do with minimal effort and see huge monetary rewards in only a couple months.
It often takes a few years to build up a blog to the point where you can generate a substantial income from it to the point where you may be able to live on the blog alone. And for some types of blogs and for some website topics, you may NEVER be able to make enough money to quite your day job.
I don’t want to dissuade you from starting a blog. But keep in mind that if you do start a blog with the intention of making money from it, it could be a few years of effort on your part before you see significant results.