Have you been thinking of starting a blog but just don’t know where to begin? And more importantly, are you wondering how you can monetize your blog once you’ve gotten it running.
Well, you have come to the right place because this post will show you exactly that – how to start a blog and make money for beginners.
Before we begin, I’d like to say that all this can sound a little overwhelming if you have no experience with running a blog or internet marketing. With so many things to learn, you probably don’t even know where to begin.
This is by no means exhaustive, but I hope the steps laid out in this article will help you kick start your blogging endeavor as much as it did for me.
But before we go into the technicalities of starting a blog (those are the easy stuff), let’s try to get an idea of what blogging is and how people actually make a full-time income by being a blogger.
Why build a blog?
There are a few reasons to start a blog. So, before you dive right in and create your very first blog, it’s probably better to know the outcome of it and what you are trying to achieve.
Here are a few of them:
- It is one of the most effective ways to convey information or share your knowledge and expertise. Most blogs are niche-specific and they discuss topics that are relevant to the niche, such as a weight-loss blog which shares ways to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle.
- Blogging to express yourself. There are also many people who blog about their personal lives and daily adventures, as a way to keep a journal and share it with others.
- Last but not least, blogging is a good way to make an online income. As your blog becomes more popular and starts to gain significant traffic, it becomes valuable and you can monetize it through various methods. Successful bloggers do make a handsome income and if you are reading this blog post, chances are you want to get there.
How do people make money from blogs?
There are many ways to generate an income from your blog, especially once it starts getting consistent traffic. Here are a few:
- Sponsored content. Sponsored content is when another party or brand pays you to put their content on your blog. This is usually a blog post talking about the brand and promoting the products it offers. However, in order to have sponsored content coming your way, you would first need to amass a sizable audience. Therefore, not beginner friendly.
- Freelancing. This is where you can start earning immediately. You can use your blog as a way to promote what you have to offer. You’ll first need to have all the pertinent pages in place (About Me, Contact, Hire Me) and then showcase your work in your blog posts. The usual skills for hire are writing, photography, web development, marketing, social media management and the list goes on. It can be anything you are good at.
- Selling online courses. If you have a certain unique skill set that you think is relevant and is in demand by others, you can essentially package what you know into an online course or eBook where people can pay to access them.
- Advertisements. These are banner ads that you see on the side or bottom when you visit websites. Joining ad networks to place advertisements on your blog is a great way to earn a nice income on the side. A few of the main ad networks out there are Google Adsense, BuySellAds and Propeller Ads. You are usually paid either by clicks from your visitors or by impressions (every time a person sees it). However, you probably won’t make a whole lot of money until you start driving serious traffic to your blog.
- Affiliate programs. This is the main method that I recommend. Affiliate marketing is about making recommendations and promoting other people’s products through your blog and getting paid every time a sale is made. One of the most effective ways to promote a product is to do a review on it. When people decide to buy things online, they usually search for reviews on the products prior to that. So when someone comes across your review and then decides to buy the product by clicking on the link in your blog, you will earn a commission on that
How do I start a blog?
If you’re looking for a cheap and reliable web host to start your blog with, then Bluehost would be the best for you. Bluehost is one of the top web hosting companies around, with a good track record. It costs $4-5 a month. They also offer 24/7 support and 30-day money-back guarantee.
However, if you’re looking to start an affiliate marketing website/blog right off the bat, I would recommend going with Wealthy Affiliate. The platform offers top notch web hosting, solid training that will guide you through every step on how to start an online business and a highly responsive community that helps each other out. Click here for an in-depth discussion on what Wealthy Affiliate is all about.
So without ado, let’s go through what you need to know to start a blog.
Step 1: Find your niche and decide what to blog about
The most important thing to do at the very start is to decide what your website or blog is about. What is the theme of your blog and what will you be talking about?
It’s good to narrow it down to a specific niche. Try to be as specific as possible so that your blog can be more targeted instead of spreading yourself too thin.
That way you attract a targeted audience and will help Google (or other search engines) pick your blog as an authority site in the niche that you choose.
Let’s take the weight loss niche as an example. You can structure and build your blog around the weight loss niche – which is good as there a ton of people interested in this topic.
However, this can still be a bit too general. You may want to go into the sub-niche of “how to lose weight for women over 40 years old”.
Don’t worry about not being able to capture the entire market. The internet is huge and you will never be able to capture the whole pie.
Instead, you want to build your authority in a small niche, so that when people in the niche are looking for information, your blog pops up.
That is not to say that you should be stuck in that small niche forever. You should expand your coverage as your blog grows. But start small. That is the only way you will get any traction at all.
Step 2: Pick your blog name and domain name
Having a brand behind your blog is important. As your blog becomes more successful, your brand grows.
The one thing that will represent your brand is your domain name.
Just to avoid any confusion, a domain name is what goes into and appears on the address bar of your browser.
And in the case of this blog you’re on now, it is royalmarketer.com.
So how do you pick a domain name for your blog?
There is really no right or wrong when it comes to domain names. Be creative!
However, it’s probably best if you follow a few guidelines or “best practices”.
- You should pick a catchy and enticing name that is “brandable”. Can you imagine Facebook had gone with “website to connect people.com” or Netflix had picked “a video streaming website.com”? Their brands probably wouldn’t have been so popular today.
- Pick a domain name that has something to do with your niche topic. Although not entirely necessary, it helps to have a domain name that indicates what the website is about and what potential visitors are going to learn about.
- Always try to get a .com domain. These are the most popular and tend to rank better. As an alternative, you may also consider a .org domain. Avoid the other funky ones (.cool, .travel., .money, .co) as they are not proven to rank well and are harder to remember.
- Avoid dashes (“-“) or any other punctuation marks in your domain name. Clean domain names look better and are easier to remember. Weightloss.com vs. weight-loss.com. Which one looks better? I would say the former. And if someone asks me to check out “weight loss.com”, chances are I wouldn’t remember to put in dashes.
To brainstorm for domain name ideas, you can use namemesh.com. You can also use leandomainsearch.com to see if the domain that you want is available. It also provides you with alternative similar names that are available to purchase.
How much does getting a domain name cost?
If you’re worried about paying to start a blog, not to worry as there are many ways you can start a blog that is absolutely free these days.
There are many platforms that offer free options such as Blogger, Tumblr and SiteRubix [link]. These work like subdomains and usually carry the main domain’s name (www.weightloss.blogger.com for example).
However, there are a few things that you need to know before going with the free option, especially if you intend to build a business or make money from your blog (in which case I highly recommend you going with the paid option).
- If you go with the free blog, it DOES NOT belong to you and you have limited control in terms of the features of your blog, what it can do or how it looks.
- Because it does not belong to you, your blog can be shut down overnight without any reason.
- Income potential is limited. In most cases, you are not allowed to place advertisements on a free blog.
- Support is limited.
If you absolutely must go with the free option, I recommend SiteRubix within the Wealthy Affiliate platform. The platform is built with affiliate marketing in mind with a few themes to choose from. It also allows you to transfer your blog to your own domain seamlessly if you decide to do so. Some people even managed to rank their free SiteRubix site.
So with that said, I would strongly recommend that you make a small investment in your own blog, which will go a long way if you’re serious about blogging.
Domain names usually cost between $10 and $20 per year. But if you sign up with Bluehost as your web host (more below), you get to have the domain name for free for the first year.
Step 3: Select a web hosting provider
A web hosting service basically allows you to have your blog appear on the Internet. The web host stores all your website files in a server and makes sure that all your pages and posts are accessible to people when they visit your blog.
When choosing a web host (assuming you are not going for a free blog), there are a few things to look out for. Here are a few important ones:
- Site speed. High loading speed for your blog equals great visitor experience, which translates to lower bounce rates. This means more people will hang around your blog and read your content, which eventually translates to higher search engine ranking for your blog. High loading speed usually comes from powerful servers – an important factor to consider when choosing a web host.
- Site security. Website security is important to the overall success of your blog. So it is important to have security features that protects against spams and bugs.
- SSL certificate. Short for Secure Sockets Layer, this is a technology to keep an internet connection secure and makes sure files shared between two systems are safe from the prying eyes of a third party. The SSL certificate is denoted by https (instead of the usual http) before in a URL, as well as a padlock sign next to the URL. This is increasingly important if you want to rank well on Google. Most web hosts offer this for free these days.
- Support. It is important to get round-the-clock 24/7 support as you can’t afford to have your blog breakdown for an extended period of time.
- Track record. There are hundreds of web hosts in the industry – some better than others. Not all of them stay in business. It’s important to pick a reliable web host with good a track record to minimize disruptions to your blog.
Again, I recommend Bluehost as it has one of the best pricing and is very reliable.
Step 4: Choose a blogging platform (CMS)
The next step is to choose a content management system (CMS). Simply put, CMS are designed to help you create and manage your website/blog without the need to learn about coding.
It allows you to produce and publish content, organize the different media resources (pictures, videos, etc.), and basically make it look and function the way you want.
Below are some of the most popular CMS:
- Adobe Dreamweaver
The most widely used CMS by far and the one I recommend for beginners is WordPress. Most web hosts support WordPress and provide one-click installations for the system.
Step 5: Choose a theme and design your blog
A theme is basically a pre-designed visual layout for your blog. It sets the tone for how your blog will look, feel and function.
With a self-hosted WordPress site, you will have access to thousands of free themes. You also have the option of purchasing a paid theme. However, to begin with, I recommend just going with a free one until you are more familiar with things and know exactly what you need in a theme.
I wouldn’t worry too much about it at this point, as you can always change the theme down the road if you no longer like it.
Here are the 45 best free themes you may want to consider.
Before you decide on a theme, there are a few things to pay attention to in order to the most efficient and effective blog.
- Keeping it simple. I recommend you go with a theme that is conducive to readability. At the end of the day, you want your visitors to focus on your content and not be distracted by the flashy colors or all the bells and whistles of your theme. White background with dark texts are proven to be the most readable and promotes higher audience engagement in your blog.
- Pick something that suits your brand. You want to pick a theme that is reflective of your brand and niche, and should be something you enjoy working with.
- Pick a responsive theme. By this, I mean pick a theme that works well both on PC and mobile, as a large percentage of traffic these days is mobile. It is also important that the theme works well in all the different main browsers (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera).
Starting you blog with Bluehost
If you plan on starting a blog with Bluehost, continue below to find out exactly what you need to do.
Click here to go over to Bluehost and click on “Get Started”.
Select a plan. Since you are just starting out, the Basic plan is really all you need for now. You can always change it later as you need more features.
Register a domain name. You’ll get to register it for free for the first year.
Enter your account information and select the price package that you want. If you are serious about blogging, I would recommend going with the 36-month package to lock in the low price for 3 years. Otherwise, you can always just go for the 12-month package but note that renewals will be at the normal price.
You don’t need any of the package extras except the Domain Privacy Protection. I highly recommend you get it to protect your personal details attached to your domain name from appearing in public (potential spammers).
Once you’ve entered your payment information and hit “Submit”, you will be asked to create a password. Make sure to create a secure password to protect yourself from hackers.
And there you have it! Your very own blog!
All you need to do now is play around with the designs of your blog to your liking and create your very first content.
Creating your first post
It’s a good idea to create some essential posts first, such as “About Me” and “Contact”. This gives your blog an identity and allows your visitors to know about you. More importantly, this creates trust with your audience to know that there’s a real person behind your blog.
- To do that, click on “Posts” in the WordPress Admin area, and click on “Add New”.
- Enter the title of your post.
- Enter the content of your post.
- You can also insert images into your blog by clicking on “Add Media”.
- Once you’re done, hit “Publish” and you now have your first live post on your blog!
Woohoo! You now have a fully functioning WordPress blog.
As you continue to produce high-quality content and develop your blog, it will only get better.
You also want to find out more about keyword researching and SEO to help your blog rank faster.
I hope you will have enjoyed my tutorial on how to start a blog. If you have any questions or would like to share your experience, feel free leave your comments below!