Before I show you how to start a blog, I've got to tell you some good news and some bad news:
The good news is that it's easy to start a blog.
The bad news is that starting a blog is the easiest part of blogging.
Why's that bad?
Because I don't want you to start a blog thinking it's going to be an easy way to make money.
I'm not sure why, but a lot of people online like to say otherwise. *Ahem*…maybe it's because they get paid when you sign up using their hosting link?
Anyways, I don't want to mislead you into starting a blog.
Here's the bottom line:
Blogging takes a lot of hard work, time, and dedication. It's not a way to get rich quick. A blog is a business and businesses take time to start generating revenue.
For example, in my first year of blogging, I only made $1,738.19 after expenses. You could make more or less, but it all depends on how much work you put in.
If you understand that, you'll have no problem building a successful, profitable blog. Otherwise, you'll probably give up 2-months in because “It's taking too long.”
OK, now that I've given you a warning and hopefully scared away the wannabe bloggers, it's time to teach you how to start a blog that makes money.
PS. Starting a blog for the first time is a learning experience and this post is pretty long, so set aside an hour, get some coffee, and get ready to change your life.
How to Start a Blog That Makes Money in 6-Steps:
- Pick a Niche with Potential
- Come up with a Relevant Domain Name
- Choose a blogging platform
- Pick a host
- Set up WordPress
What is a Blog?
A blog is a regularly updated website with posts on it. It's really that simple.
For example, right now you're on my blog reading a blog post I wrote that's teaching you how to start a blog (that's mind-bloggling).
Why Would You Start a Blog?
There are a lot of different reasons you may want to start a blog.
If you already have a couple of your own reasons, write them down somewhere you'll see them every day for motivation.
Here are some awesome benefits that I've experienced from starting a blog:
- You can help others – This is my favorite part of blogging. The more success you have with your blog, the more people you can help.
- You can make money from anywhere – This is my second favorite part of blogging.
- You'll become a better writer – If you enjoy writing or you've always wanted to be a better writer, then blogging is a great way to build that skill! I always hated writing/English class in school but blogging actually made me realize it's not so bad.
- Learn more about a topic you're interested in – When you write about something every week, you start to learn more and more about it. Whatever you blog about, you'll soon know a LOT about (yeah, I rhymed about with about, deal with it). For example, I wanted to learn more about personal finance and look at me now mom, I can budget!
I'd love to know why you want to start a blog – let me know in the comments!
One last thing before we get into the fun stuff:
There are some blogging myths that I hear a lot, and I want to give my input on them because a lot of them just aren't true.
- Blog Myth #1: You have to be a tech wizard to start a blog – FALSE. You don't need to be a GeekSquad member to start a blog. With a bit of time and patience, I could teach my grandma how to start a blog, and she barely knows how to work an iPhone.
- Blog Myth #2: You need to be an expert – You don't need to be an expert at something to start a blog about it, you just need to know more than the person who's reading your blog. I'm not an expert at iPhones but my grandma sure thinks I am.
- Blog Myth #3: Everything has already been written – This one is pretty true, but it shouldn't stop you from starting a blog. Why? Because you can make better content that's written in your own unique style and perspective. People will want to read your stuff whether you believe it or not.
- Blog Myth #4: Starting a blog is expensive – This is a tough one for me because I spent over $1,500 on my blog in the first year. However, that's because I believe in my business so I invested in a blogging course (Dare to Conquer), and some other things. Now, is investing in your blog required? Nope. You could just pay for hosting which is just $5-$10 per month and get by just fine. Will investing in your blog help it grow faster? I believe so.
OK, are you excited now? Do you see how awesome and beneficial a blog can be?
Step 1. Pick a Niche with Potential
Your niche is the topic of your blog. My niche, for example, is personal finance/making money.
Deciding on a niche is hard – it's a big commitment. However, don't stress out about it too much or spend months trying to think of the “perfect niche.”
I did that and I realized:
There is no perfect niche.
You've just got to pick one the best you can and roll with it. You can always start broad in multiple niches and then as you gain more experience and get to know your audience, you can narrow your topic down.
So, how do you come up with a good niche?
Well, if you want to start a blog that makes money, you're going to want to pick your niche with a bit of strategy and research.
To start, I'd look into one of the 7 blog niches that get good traffic and make good money:
- How to make money – I'm in this niche
- Personal finance – I'm also in this niche (yep, you can be in multiple niches at a time)
- Health and fitness – You could write about yoga, fasting, exercise, working out, etc.
- Food – Share your recipes and culinary genius with the world!
- Beauty and fashion – Love makeup, clothes, and all things glamorous? This one's for you.
- Lifestyle – This niche can pretty much be whatever you want. Write about travel, money, health, and all your interests!
- Personal development – Help people become their best selves.
This list of blog niches was put together by Paul Scrivens (or Scrivs).
Scrivs is the owner of several different successful online businesses, and he currently makes over six figures blogging, so he definitely knows what he's talking about. He's also the owner of Dare to Conquer which is the blogging/business course I mentioned earlier.
However, he says it and I'll say it too:
You don't have to start a blog in one of these niches.
They are simply suggestions based on what Scrivs has found to be the most monetizable niches with the largest audiences.
The bottom line:
If you come up with your own niche that's not on the list above, do your research and make sure it ticks off these three categories:
- Something you're interested in – Blogging is a long process, so choose a topic you're interested in learning about. If you don't, you'll have no motivation to write new posts and your blog will be sad.
- Something you can write a lot about – Every time you finish one blog post, you move onto the next one. After a while, you'll have a lot of posts on your blog. Make sure whatever topic you choose has a lot to write about so you don't run out of post ideas.
- Something that's already seen success – This one is SUPER IMPORTANT. If you come up with your own blog topic, Google it and look for other blogs that are writing about the same thing. If there are a lot and they seem pretty popular, that's a good sign that the niche has an audience and it's monetizable. If there are no blogs writing about it, that probably means there's no one searching for it either.
Step 2. Come up with a Relevant Domain Name
Now that you've got your niche, it's time to come up with a domain name.
What's a domain name? It's simply the address of your site; it's what users will type into their browser to get to your blog.
Your domain name is important because it's one of the first things a new visitor will see.
Here are some tips for choosing your domain name:
- Use keywords related to your niche – Since your domain name is going to be the first thing people see when they go to your site, making it related to your niche will make the topic of your site clear to the visitor right away. This will also help your Google rankings a bit.
- Make it short and easy to type – Everyone is in a rush these days. The shorter the domain, the better (20 characters max). This will also help with the next point…
- Make it memorable – If you want people to come back to your site then you better have a memorable domain.
- Use your name – Lot's of bloggers just use their names for their domain name. Some popular examples include amylynnandrews.com and byregina.com. This is a good option if you want to build your personal brand, but it's not a good option if you plan to sell your site in the future.
As for domain extensions, there are a lot of different ones to choose from nowadays. I recommend going with a .com as it's the most trusted and well-known extension.
Ready to find your perfect domain name?
Head over to InstantDomainSearch.com and start trying different domains that you'd like for your blog. Once you find one you like, write it down or memorize it as you'll be registering it later.
Step 3. Choose a Blogging Platform
Now it's time to pick a platform to build your blog on. This is an important step as it can be a pain to change platforms later on.
What is a blogging platform?
Simply, a blogging platform is a software or service you use to publish your blog content onto the internet.
Are there free blogging platforms?
Yes, but they are very limited. You won't be able to customize the look & feel of your site very much, you won't own your site, and you most likely won't be able to monetize your site either.
Since this post is about starting a blog that makes money, I won't go too in-depth into free blogging platforms. However, if you want to create a free blog just to see how you like blogging or to test out your niche, I recommend starting on Medium.com.
Just keep in mind that if you ever want to switch from a free platform to a paid platform, you'll have to go through the hassle of transferring all your articles over.
What's the best blogging platform?
The most popular blogging platform trusted by millions of bloggers (including myself), is WordPress (WordPress runs 30% of the entire internet).
If you choose to go with WordPress you have two different options:
- Hosted WordPress (WordPress.com) – This one starts out free, but it's extremely limited just like the other free platforms. Not good if you want to make money blogging.
- Self-Hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) – This one requires you to host it yourself, but there are no limitations on what you can do with a self-hosted WordPress blog. It's completely yours to customize and monetize. This is the recommended option.
Steps 4 & 5 of this tutorial will show you how to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog. If you want to go straight to Step 6: Make Money- Click Here.
Step 4. Pick a Host
Ok, so you've chosen to go with a self-hosted WordPress site. That means you have to find a host to put your website on the internet.
There are a lot of different hosts out there, so it can be hard to decide which one to go with.
My personal favorite hosting provider that I use for all of my sites is SiteGround. They're a WordPress recommended hosting provider and I've been using them for a couple of years now.
I've tested out other hosting providers in the past and so far SiteGround has been the best.
Here are a couple things I love about SiteGround:
My site loads fast:
The support team is amazing:
I've had a few situations where I've done something stupid and completely broken my site. When this happens I usually contact SiteGround support and the problem is resolved in less than 20 minutes.
For example, just last week I accidentally deleted my WordPress database and my blog completely broke. I was freaking out.
Once I calmed down a bit, I contacted SiteGround support. In less than 5-minutes I was talking to a live representative, and a few minutes later my site was restored and back online.
That level of support is priceless to me because each minute my site is down I could be losing visitors.
Here are some of the other benefits of hosting your WordPress blog with SiteGround:
- One-click WordPress install – Have your site up in minutes
- Auto updates – Always have the latest version of WordPress
- Supercacher – This is a WordPress plugin developed by SiteGround that will make your site faster
- Free daily backups – If something goes wrong, easily restore your site from a backup
- Free SSL – Makes your site more secure and trustworthy
If you like the sound of SiteGround, that's great! I'll walk you through the process of getting started with Siteground in just 3 steps.
Getting Started with Siteground Step 1: Choose a Plan
First things first, head over to SiteGround and take a look at the discounted WordPress hosting packages:
There are three main plans available on SiteGround (StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek) and each of them offers something different.
Since you're just starting your blog the StartUp plan will do just fine, but I recommend paying the extra $2/month for the GrowBig plan as it offers some extra features.
Getting Started with Siteground Step 2: Register Your Domain
The next step is to register the super awesome domain name you came up with earlier. Type it in and hit proceed.
Getting Started with Siteground Step 3: Review & Complete
The last step is to select your payment period and any extra services you want.
You have 4 payment period options: 12 months, 24 months, and 36 months. The discount applies to your first invoice so keep that in mind. Once your first payment period is up you'll have to pay the regular price.
Last but not least, you can add on some extra services (these are optional):
- Domain privacy will keep your personal information private, otherwise, people can find your name and address online. This is an optional feature but if you're worried about privacy it's definitely worth the extra $12.00/year.
- The SG site scanner monitors your website and notifies you when anything shady happens. Once again this is completely optional and you can add it on later if you need it.
Step 5. Set up WordPress
Setting up WordPress with SiteGround is easy, all it takes is a simple one-click setup from your SiteGround dashboard.
If you have trouble getting WordPress installed, simply contact SiteGround support and they'll get it set up for you.
Once you've installed WordPress, head over to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin and log in to your WordPress dashboard with the username and password you just set up.
Once you're logged in, you should see something like this (yours might look a bit different):
Get familiar with this dashboard because you're going to be spending a lot of time here! It's a bit overwhelming at first (and a bit scary), but all good things make us a bit uncomfortable, right?
I encourage you to spend some time exploring your dashboard and seeing what everything does. If you want to learn how to customize a certain part of your site, or if you're curious about something else, Google is your best friend.
Also, remember you can always ask me questions in the comments!
While you're on your dashboard, here are some things you should do:
Download these plugins (you can search for plugins by going to the Plugins tab on the left of your dashboard and clicking ‘Add New'):
- Yoast SEO – My favorite SEO plugin and it will help you optimize your website for search engines. Here's a setup tutorial.
- SG Optimizer – SiteGrounds caching plugin. It should come pre-installed but if not it's easy to install yourself.
Install a theme:
Your theme affects the appearance of your site, so you'll want to choose one that suits your style. You can head to the Appearance tab in your dashboard and browse the thousands of free themes that WordPress offers.
If you want to invest a bit of money into a higher quality theme, I highly recommend StudioPress' Genesis themes.
After that follow these 10 things to do after installing WordPress, but skip #5 since you're using SG Optimizer to cache.
Need Tech Support?
If you used my hosting link to sign up, send me an email (dylan at swiftsalary.com) with your receipt attached and I'll help you with anything you need. I can help you install WordPress, set up a theme, download plugins, etc.
Step 6. Make Money
This post is titled “How to Start a Blog That Makes Money” but I haven't written a single thing about making money yet.
What's the deal?
Well, this post was just about setting up a blog that has the potential to make money. That's why we made sure to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog.
However, there's so much information about making money blogging that it deserves an entire post on its own. Which you can find here:
BUT before you go, I want you to do one last thing:
The 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp is a super informative email course created by Paul Scrivens designed to teach you all of the blogging basics, and some advanced stuff as well.
Each day, the course covers a new topic:
- Choosing a niche
- Utilizing Pinterest
- Understanding your audience
- How to make money
- Sales Funnels
- Email Opt-ins
- Web hosting
- Choosing a theme
- Your content, part I
- Your content, part II
- Launching your blog
- Moving forward
Some of the things above I've already covered in this post, but it's always nice to get another perspective.
I took the 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp when I first started blogging and it helped me out a TON. The information is laid out in an easily digestible way and Scrivs keeps things interesting with his unique style of writing.
You don't have to purchase into the membership, but if you have the money and you're willing to invest in your new business, I HIGHLY recommend it. It's hands down the best online business course out there.
I honestly can say that without DTC, I probably wouldn't have earned anything in my first year of blogging. The community, the courses, everything is just so valuable in there, and the price is extremely reasonable as well.
I'd tell you more about it but there's so much packed in that it would take a while. Join the free 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp and you'll hear about it from the creator himself.
If you end up joining DTC, make sure to holler at me in the Slack community! My username is @houli
If you found this post helpful, I'd be super happy if you shared it!
I'm trying to help as many people as possible with this blog but I need your help to help more people (lot's of helping). Thanks a lot - you're awesome!