How can you start making money blogging?
If you’re thinking about starting a blog and want to hear a recent blogger’s experiences and steps, I hope I can help.
In September 2018, I started thinking about blogging.
I like to write and learn new things.
Blogging just seemed like a natural fit. I started this blog in October 2018.
Here’s what I’ve learned in one month of blogging
One thing I’ve been quite surprised about is that you don’t have to be super tech-saavy to be a blogger.
You don’t have to know about coding to make your blog look the way you want it to look.
Knowing about coding certainly helps. But it’s not necessary.
There are services like Elegant Themes you can use to get the help you need! More on that below.
Also, blogging takes time!
There’s writing, images, social media, SEO etc. It requires patience and persistence.
Heard of the book Obstacle is the way? You’ve got to have that philosophy in the back of your mind when you start blogging.
There’s a huge learning curve!
Just remember that every problem has a solution. You’ll get there. It will be rewarding when you do.
I should have started blogging much sooner. I have learned so much.
This is difficult to admit. I’ve learned more practical information from blogging than I have in a recent MBA! That MBA cost me a hefty figure that makes me shudder.
Blogging has a low start-up cost – $3.95/month with Siteground (more on that below). And the learnings are endless.
12 steps to starting a blog
1. Pick the primary topic of your blog
You could pick 1 big topic like parenthood, money, food, fashion. You could pick a few topics. You could niche down.
I’ve read differing opinions for and against all of the above. I’ve heard how there might be more monetization opportunities for certain topics.
I picked one primary topic – money. My subtopics are earning and saving money, money mindset, and parenting money tips.
At the end of the day, you should write what you’re passionate about. What you could write for hours about. You can always add on topics as you grow your blog.
2. Select a domain name
Take your time with this step.
I spent 2 weeks selecting a domain name.
I brainstormed with my husband and we came up with 3 finalists. We ran these by some family members and made a decision.
Here are the steps and guidelines we used to make this decision.
The first thing we did was go through key words and phrases linked to the topic.
We wrote everything down. No judgment at this stage.
Then we cut out everything that was long (over 4 words), difficult to type out or spell. We cut out anything that wasn’t simple, memorable or clever.
Amongst the remaining few, I checked which ones were available. You could see this at Namecheap.
Just go to the search bar and insert the name you’re thinking about to see if it’s available and press “Search”. It’s best to pick one that ends in .com.
If nothing sticks for you, you can always use your own name (www.yourname.com). It doesn’t pigeonhole you to a topic. It’s a great way to showcase your resume or portfolio.
Important Note: One thing I’ve learned after consulting with a blog securities expert is that your domain should always be registered in a separate place from your host, which is where your files are stored (which we’ll discuss below).
That way, if one goes down and gets hacked, they don’t both go down.
It also makes it easier to switch host providers if you see a better deal at a different host (usually the first year or two is offered at a steep discount and then you pay the regular fees for subsequent years).
3. Select hosting and switch to HTTPS
If you don’t ever want to monetize your blog, you can go with a free platform like Blogger.
I made the decision to be self-hosted. Meaning I own my blog and its content.
It wasn’t just for the monetization potential. It was because if there are ever issues with the way the blog is running, I can contact my blog host provider 24/7 to rectify it.
My blog is hosted with Siteground.
When I was looking for web hosting companies for WordPress, I first came across Bluehost. It seemed that everyone was recommending them.
Then I came across articles of bloggers who had difficulties with Bluehost from speed load time to customer service.
That’s when I started noticing Siteground coming highly recommended.
I haven’t had issues since.
When I signed up with them, the first thing I did was asked for my site to be switched to https – a secure version of http.
It’s free with the package. It offers this extra layer of security and is an SEO ranking factor. Definitely do this.
4. Install WordPress and login
You can contact Siteground to go through how to do this with you.
To confirm it’s installed properly, login at www.yourdomainname.com/admin. Now you have a website!
Before you learn the ins and outs of WordPress, here are a few housekeeping things…
5. Create a document to get organized
This can be on paper or digital.
I kept mine on Google Drive.
I created a Google Spreadsheet with 3 tabs:
- Usernames and passwords
- Content ideas
There is a lot of information you will have to refer back to at some point. It’s a good idea to have this information organized now.
6. Create an email and set up your social media accounts
This step is important.
You want to choose the names for your email and social media accounts that are exactly or close to your domain name.
Claiming these now ensures others can’t claim them later.
You can create an email with gmail e.g. email@example.com.
Alternatively, you can create one through Siteground that’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a few things to consider like email storage space and the professional look of the email address.
I just went with gmail because I could work with other Google applications.
If this website grows, I will switch to a domain email and auto-forward the gmail email.
Once you’ve created an email, create digital files for receipts, Siteground etc. to maintain organization.
Set up social media accounts for all of the social media sites, even if you’re not planning on using them right away.
At the very least, set up accounts for Pinterest and Facebook.
7. Install a theme
The theme is the way your blog looks from colors to layout to functionality.
There are many free themes you could select through WordPress.
Their customization options are limited. You will not receive technical assistance.
There are also paid themes.
I initially selected Elegant Themes’ Divi because it’s a drag and drop builder so you don’t need to know how to code.
You have access to 80+ themes or you can create your own site which is what I did. If I had questions, I contacted their customer service team or watched their training videos which walk you through every option.
Then I heard how Divi can seriously slow down your site.
I heard about how Kadence is similar to Divi (it’s a drag and drop builder with a customer service team), but it’s great for site speed.
I’ve since switched over to Kadence and not looked back!
I use Kadence Pro, but there’s a FREE version which I know many sites use.
8. Set up WordPress properly
To get comfortable with using WordPress, google “what things you need to do after installing WordPress”.
I previously linked to an article with a list of things that I did after installing WordPress, but since WordPress is constantly changing, I highly recommend just googling what the most updated, recommended course of actions are.
9. Install plugins
A plugin is similar to an app on your phone. It gives your website additional functionality. Too many plugins can slow down your site. Here are the plugins I use.
- Yoast SEO – free version
- Akismet (spam blocker) – free version
- Grow by Mediavine – a social sharing plugin
10. Learn about blogging
Between WordPress, your theme configuration, and plugins, there’s a lot to learn.
I was fortunate because the Genius Bloggers’ Toolkit (which has dozens of resources) came out.
It’s only available for less than 1 week per year. It’s approximately $100.
You can get on the wait list for the next one or if there’s a flash sale.
This was significantly cheaper than the $50-300 blogging courses I had come across. I couldn’t stomach spending so much on a hobby I wasn’t sure about.
I just went through the toolkit. I must have gone through 10+ resources and courses in 3 days. Taking notes upon notes. It was worth it.
The last thing I wanted to do was spend precious time trying things out. I wanted to get the best practices and implement them.
I highly recommend investing in blogging education. Learn from the experts. Don’t make their mistakes.
Here are other blogging courses I highly recommend:
- Pinteresting Strategies – This is how I got my first affiliate sale!
- Affiliate Marketing For Bloggers: Everything You’re Missing – I’ve taken MANY affiliate courses and this is by far the best out of the bunch!
- Stupid Simple SEO – This is one of the most expensive courses I’ve taken, but I got my money back from this course fast. Even if you don’t take the course, I highly recommend checking out his FREE SEO training. This training has a lot of unique nuggets you can apply right away to boost the SEO on your site.
- It’s much cheaper than other common SEO tools.
- It’s the only SEO tool that provides you with low competition, high volume keywords that you can actually rank for by topic. With other tools, you have to meddle around and try to find them.
10. Create your pages
Take a big piece of paper. Write down your primary topic.
From your primary topic, draw out vertical lines and then write out your subtopics.
If you want to branch out even further, draw out vertical lines from your subtopics and write out your mini topics.
Each of your subtopics (and mini topics if applicable) will be a page on your blog.
Pages are different from posts in that there’s usually no date for when it was created and no social sharing buttons.
Create your pages. Check out the websites of major brands or bloggers you admire for inspiration.
Get comfortable and start building your site.
This is both the fun and frustrating part. Try not to be deterred or overwhelmed when you encounter an issue.
Almost everything can be answered with a google search. If you have Elegant Themes’ Divi or Kadence, contact their customer service department. I must have emailed them 30 times since I started the blog.
11. Create your posts
It’s finally time to create your posts! A few things to keep in mind when you’re writing:
- Always write with your reader in mind and what will benefit him/her
- Keep paragraphs 1-2 sentences long for mobile optimization
- Don’t begin more than 3 consecutive sentences with the same word
- Write simply. (This is something I struggle with. I’m often adding redundant and unnecessary words.)
If you’re using Elegant Themes’ Divi, do not build your posts with the Divi Builder. This way you can change themes more easily in the future.
12. Create images for your posts
I’ve heard some bloggers use free images from Pixabay and upload them onto the free version of Canva.
It worked fine, but then I came across Stencil.
With the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit, you get 2 months free with Stencil.
I love it! It makes it so easy and fast to create images for your website.
There are over 2 mil royalty-free photos, 680 templates, 1 mil icons, tonnes of preloaded sizes or easily create your own. It’s all in one place. You save so much time.
Good luck on your blogging journey. It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I hope it’s the same for you!
Related Blogging Money Making Tips Articles:
- How I got my first affiliate sale blogging
- Affiliate Programs I was approved and rejected from as a New Blogger
- The Ultimate Blog Post Checklist (+ FREE printable): 11 steps to create the perfect post
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