How To Start a Blog and Make Money?
Step by Step Practical Guide To Make Money Blogging
Hey! Jeremy here, I’m writing this guide on how to start a blog and make money because blogging absolutely changed my life! I went from dropping out of college to traveling the world for a living, getting featured in magazines and so many other wonderful things all thanks to blogging.
During the last week of March 2016 I started this blog for less per month than the cost of a coffee at a Starbucks and now it pays for my travels around the world and comes up on the first page of Google for many queries. If you’ve asked me How to make money traveling?” or read my article on How I make money traveling, you’d know that blogging makes up a huge chunk of my income.
In this step by step guide, I’ll give you the steps to start a blog and make money and tell you about the different strategies that I have used that have worked in growing this blog!
Why should you start a blog?
Many people who just get introduced to me think that I believe everyone should “quit their jobs and travel the world” but that couldn’t be further from the truth! My thesis is promoting doing what you love, whether that is spending more time with your family, volunteering at a worthy cause or even traveling the world!
When you get to do what you love, You’ve won! Simple as that, doesn’t matter if you are millionaire or just making a couple 1000 bucks. When you get to wake up each day and do what you love, you’ve won!
Starting a blog gave me that freedom, which is why I’m writing this guide for you right now!
A Few Benefits Of Starting A Blog
- Income: The title of this article is “How to start a blog and make money“, however blogging solely for money or income is honestly a waste of time.
Can you make a million bucks blogging? Yes! There are already people who have done that!
Should you start a blog just for the purpose of making money? I don’t think so!
Your purpose should be to bring value to your readers and have a positive impact in people’s lives! The money will come if you start by doing that!
- Credibility: Blogging can give you a lot of credibility and recognition in many fields! You can use your blog as a portfolio if you want to get into writing, or use your blog to showcase your marketing skills if you want to start freelancing as a social media manager!
This step-by-step guide should give you everything you need, but if you run into some issues, or just want some advice, hit me up and say “what’s up”! Blogging changed my life, and I love to talk about it! So let’s get right into it…
Step 1: Get Started
The entire process of starting your blog should only take you about 30 minutes. After that, your site will be online and ready for you to start blogging!
Here’s a few reason why you should avoid the free blogging platforms!
Without a doubt, you need to self-host your WordPress blog.
When was the last time you saw a successful blogger with a website like “jeremynoronha.freeblogs.com”(ew!) instead of their own domain name like “JeremyNoronha.com”, for example?
The domain name is not the worst of it!
- You don’t control your content – the platform you are using does. They have the right and could shut you down anytime, and for any reason. Seriously! Don’t believe me? Read this.
- The web address will look like something like this yourfreeblog.blogspot.com! Yikes.
- You’re not allowed to advertise on most free blogging platforms! That kinda beats the point of reading an article called “How to start a blog and make money” when your platform doesn’t allow you to do the making money part of that.
That’s why I wrote this guide because I cringe every time someone tells me that “they blog” and the link to their site has a .wordpress or a .wix! I usually don’t even click through as the URL sends me vibes that the person isn’t really committed to blogging!
Before you can start blogging the right way, there are two things you need to do:
Pick a domain name
Already have a name in mind? Skip this part and scroll below. The domain name for this blog is thinktravelliftgrow.com. If you type that domain name into a browser anywhere in the world you will be sent to this site.
You want to pick a name that is unique, it’s useful but not extremely necessary to have a descriptive name so that your audience will immediately know what your blog is about. However always remember that “Google” didn’t mean anything 30 years ago so a name doesn’t make or break a blog.
Another option is to simply use your own name. For example, I use JeremyNoronha.com for my consulting business and for my personal brand. You can also add your middle name or middle initial if you find your name is already taken.
Ideally, try to go for a .com name but even other alternatives such as .net and .org work just as well.
Too many people get stuck over here, spending months debating about a name when their time could be better spent in producing actual content, I probably made a “mistake” picking such a long name for my blog, but at the end of the day that never stopped me! Stop focusing so much on trying to get the ‘perfect’ name.
Choose a Web Host
You need a web host if you plan on starting a blog. If you consider your domain (eg. jeremynoronha.com) to be the address of your website then your web host is the plot of land on which you are going to build your house that is your blog.
I’m sure we can all agree that we hate websites that take forever to load! That’s why you need a good host!
I host this blog on SiteGround and I can’t praise and recommend them enough! Their customer support is just absolutely amazing and they moved my site over from my previous host for free!
Speed was also a huge concern for me, I hate when I go to a website and it takes FOREVER for the site to load! Let’s be honest, we all hate websites that waste our precious time. That is why I always make sure my site loads as fast as possible and SiteGround‘s fast SSD servers truly help me achieve that. Here are some screen shots of my page load time from Pingdom!
Also, Google likes it when your website is fast and it helps your SEO and you come higher up in Google Search! Here’s a screenshot of my page speed score from Google’s Pagespeed Insights.
I’m not sure if you guys noticed but this site is secured with SSL (the tiny green lock at the top next to the URL), that means all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral!
Basically that any info you enter on this site is safe from hackers and here’s the cool part, that was free with SiteGround!
Read my full in-depth SiteGround WordPress Hosting Review here.
So it’s probably super expensive to start huh? Nope!
There are multiple plans with SiteGround and through the features change with each plan, all of them offer the basic features mentioned above (which cost 100s of $ elsewhere) along with features such as
- Unlimited Data Transfer
- Free Website Transfer
- Free Website Backup
- And the best customer service I’ve ever come across!
Alright perfect! Now then, let’s start with the actual setting up of your blog!
Step 2: Set Up Your Blog
Once you are on SiteGround, you will come face to face a couple of options!
The right plan for you would depend on a lot of factors, here’s what I would recommend!
- Startup: This plan is great for someone just getting started and with only a single website. Thanks to a 60% discount I share below its cost only 3.95$/Month! That’s less than a dollar a week! It’s one of the cheapest in this industry!
- GrowBig: This plan is perfect for bloggers like me, who have multiple websites as it’s the best bang for your buck as you can add additional websites on the same hosting account for free. You also get more power and features like the Supercacher.
- GoGeek: I recommend this pan for the more advanced bloggers and developers that need resources like Git or any other staging features.
Whichever plan you chose, I recommend getting a 2-year or 3-year plan as the 60% discount is only applicable on your first purchase, this why I recommend buying hosting for 2-3 years will save you money down the line.
Click on Get Started below the plan of your choice!
Type in your domain name in the box and then click “Proceed” to see if it is available
- If you already own a domain name and want to use it for your blog, click the “I already have a domain” and type your existing domain in the box and then click “Proceed”
Once you’ve chosen a hosting plan and decided on a domain name it is time to enter all of your important information.
You can choose how long you would like to pre-pay for SiteGround’s hosting services at the discount rate and can lock in the rate for up to three years. The only downside to this is that you have to pre-pay for all of those years up-front, which can be pricey.
In addition to choosing the length of your initial contract, you can also choose any extras. You also have the option of adding Domain Privacy and/or SG Site Scanner to your account. Currently, these services cost an additional $12 and $19.80 each per year respectively. Neither of these services is a necessity! But I would recommend Domain Privacy.
Once you pay the bill, your account will be created! Now we just have to get you set up with WordPress!
Now here’s one of the many reasons I recommend SiteGround, I messaged them and asked them if this would work and they gave me a thumbs up! After you buy your hosting using the above link to get the discount, you can request a free setup via the User Area or via contacting a customer support rep through the Live Chat to setup WordPress for you and send you the WordPress login details.
Seriously, how cool is that! That won’t take more than a few minutes as you can see from the picture below, SiteGround has one of the faster support I’ve ever dealt with and it’s free! Isn’t that great, head over to SiteGround using the link below to get started if you haven’t already!
Step 3: How To Use Your Blog
Once you’ve had WordPress install and got your login details from SiteGround, head on to http://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin (replace “yoursite.com” with your domain name) to bring up the login screen for your site!
Once you login you will be in the WordPress administrator area. This is where you will make any changes you want to your blog. To start with, you will probably want to change the title of your blog. To do this, go to the bottom of the left menu and click “Settings”. That should take you to this screen:
On this screen, you can change your “Site Title” and also the subtitle, known as your “Tagline”. Enter whatever you want in these two boxes and then scroll to the bottom and click the “Save Changes” button.
Once you save these changes they will immediately be live on your site. To see what your site looks like at any time you can just type your domain name in the browser and hit enter.
How to Write a Post
Blogging is all about writing, so let’s learn how to write your first blog post.
Go to the left menu and click on “Posts”.
You will see there is already a post there titled “Hello world!” This is a default post on every new WordPress blog, and we don’t need it. To delete it click “Trash” just under the post.
To begin writing a new post, click the “Add New” link (found in either the left menu or next to the word “Posts”).
You should now be on the post creator screen. You can enter the title of your post in the top box and then begin writing your post in the lower box.
If you would like to add a picture to your post, click on the “Add Media” button and click “Select Files” to upload a picture from your computer. You can make adjustments to the picture size and alignment on the next screen. When you are all set click “Insert into post” to add the picture.
Once you have finished your post just click the “Publish” button on the right side of the screen to publish it.
Congratulations! You now know how to publish content on your site! Your blog is now on the internet. Yup, your site is LIVE! See that was much cheaper, easier and faster than you thought, right?
Step 4: Design and Configure your Blog
You’re probably thinking that your blog design looks pretty boring now, right? Not to worry, I will show you how to change your design and layout in this step, along with a bunch of other cool tips and tricks for personalizing your blog.
Basic Blog Design
Everyone has a different idea of how they want their blog to look. One of the great things about WordPress is that you can change the entire layout and design of your site with just a few clicks.
Your Theme is going to be the design and layout of your blog! Themes come in 2 types, free and paid and here’s a place where you get what you pay for. Free themes are usually bloated and slow and also can’t be edited easily. Themes usually are just a one-time payment and worth the investment.
Here is a list a couple of places where you can good themes, I’m giving a lot of choices, as each person has their own subjective opinion of what is a good design and hopefully these will give you a lot of options.
- Elegant Themes: Elegant themes is a favorite among many bloggers as it’s an incredible deal of $89/year or $249 one time payment with access to around 88 themes with new ones always being added. The most popular paid theme in the world Divi is also a part of it. Divi itself is worth more than the price as it’s a drag and drop editor wherein you can build absolutely any kind of blog. I would definitely recommend Elegant themes as you get everything you need to build any type of blog.
- StudioPress: Some of the fastest and best themes that I would recommend for a little more advanced users! They’re a little more expensive as compared to Elegant Themes. I use Aspire for this site. At ~$99 for a theme or $499.95 for all the themes, it’s definitely worth its price for a little more advanced users.
Those 2 are the biggest and easiest places to get your themes. I recommend Elegant Themes if you are just starting out, while Studiopress themes for more advanced users. Elegant themes are useful for beginners as support is provided via a forum. You can post a question and within a few hours or so, you’ll have your answer which will be good if you are starting out.
Here are a couple other places where you can shop around for single themes.
- ThemeFuse: Themefuse has some pretty amazing themes, which is why I wanted to mention them here. Their The Core gives you 20 themes for the price of one! Give them a look at ThemeFuse.com
If you are extremely tight on your budget, you can find free themes by googling “Free ‘type’ blog WordPress themes” and replacing ‘type’ with the type of blog you have, eg travel, food etc. However most of the time these themes will be limited in their functions. I recommend investing in a paid theme.
Head to “Themes” under “Appearance” and click “Add New” and click “Upload” to upload the theme that you bought or search for the free theme that you find in the search bar and click “Install”
After that head back to ‘Themes” and click “Activate” on the Theme you installed. To see your new theme in action, go to your site and take a look!
Each theme will have it’s own options when you get to this screen. If you are using an Elegant Theme you will have Divi Builder, a plugin that will make all of this incredibly easy as you can design your entire site by dragging and dropping the components you want. Want a slideshow? Just drag and drop it! Elegant Themes does a great job explaining how to use them hence I won’t do it here.
I honestly feel like you shouldn’t spend too much time focusing on trying to get the “perfect” design at the start and instead focus on producing content!
Step 5: Start Blogging!
Yes, now that we are done with the technicalities, let’s get to the fun stuff!
The heart and soul of a successful blog is great content. If no one wants to read what you are writing about then your blog won’t be very successful.
One of the easiest ways to write content that people actually want to read is to answer a question about your topic that you have yourself. Chances are if you are wondering about something, so are other people. Obviously, you will need to do some research to find the answer, but once you do you will be providing valuable content that people actually want to read and share with their friends.
It is also important to keep in mind that great content is about more than just the writing. Images, videos, different fonts, and colors all make your content look eye-catching and interesting. Blogs are not books, and they need to have more than just a huge block of text to keep the readers’ interest.
Even if you set up your blog properly and create great content, there is no guarantee that anyone will ever see it. Because of this, marketing your blog correctly is a requirement if you want to be a successful blogger. Distribution is everything!
Here are some things I’ve done to successfully drive traffic to my blog and towards my consulting business.
- Forums: Just by Googling “Your niche” Forums, you will come across hundreds of forums in your niche. These forums have your target audience, however, don’t be a spammer just spamming a link to your blog! Form connections, your audience is talking and having discussions out there on the internet, join the conversation and add value or some unique insight. Answer any questions that you can with the content you’ve already created as well as linking back to the full post for additional content if it’s beneficial to the context.
- Social media sharing: Simply sharing your latest blog post on all your social media channels with a boring one-line description won’t cut it. You have to tailor updates based on the social network to get the best results. You don’t dress the same way for a barbecue party as you do for a funeral, similarly, each platform from Facebook to Instagram works a different way, produce valuable content, engage with your community and never take anyone for granted.
- Email newsletter: It’s a good idea to start building an email list when you start blogging, don’t spam them instead try and bring them extra value and use your email newsletter to create a deeper connection with your community!
- SEO: If you Google a lot of queries my blog comes on the first page eg. ‘Dropping out to travel the world’, even for some high competitive queries like “how to make money traveling“, and my blog is just a little over a year old! I now do SEO consulting for businesses as a side hustle as well!
My best tip for marketing is to give before asking! Don’t be the asshole spamming your link everywhere, find a way to give than you take! Bring value to your readers and engage with them! Put in the work and have patience!
Step 6: Make Money Blogging
How to Start a Blog and Make Money
Let me make this point clear again, starting a blog solely for the income is honestly just a waste of time. Start out by bringing value and having a positive impact on people’s life!
There are only a couple ways to make money blogging, here are the tried and true methods! Either sell a product or a service, advertising, affiliate marketing or get sponsored by companies!
Here are the most popular 3 methods used by most bloggers
- Advertising: Ad networks let you show ads on your site and pay you based on the interaction those ads get. For beginners, the most popular and probably the best option is Google Adsense. The program is relatively easy to get into and is easy to set up.
*I personally don’t like ads and hence I never use them on my blog!*
- Affiliate Marketing: Basically you can recommend products from companies and earn a % of a sale if someone buys something. The customer doesn’t pay extra, you get paid out of the companies cut! Although most will be ‘cost per sale’ (CPS), there are also networks that work on a cost per action (CPA) basis. CPA affiliate networks will pay you based on if the user follows through with some sort of action like signing up for a trail or something.
The most popular one and a huge chunk of my income is through Amazon’s Associate Program.
Here are a couple of my articles wherein I’ve used Amazon Affiliate Links so you get a better idea how this works
I have a policy on my blog wherein I never recommend a product unless I love it or believe in it, that’s why I recommend Audible so much, cause I love reading as it changed my life.
- Direct Sales: A couple years down the line, I’m probably going to write a book that will bring a lot of value to a lot of people. I have been asked if I’m working on one right now, but I’m not as I don’t believe I can provide enough value in a book yet but when I do it’s a product I can sell! You can sell products directly on your blog, E-commerce tools and plugins have made this easy to do. If you are using WordPress as I recommended above, you can use WooCommerce to create a whole e-commerce store or use a more simple plugin like Easy Digital Downloads to sell digital products on your site.
Blogging isn’t a way to make money quick! You need to have patience and put in the work if you want to start a blog and make money, I made barely a dollar in my first month of blogging but now it pays for my travels all around the world!
All the best! I’d love if you’d hit me up and tell me if this article on starting a blog and making money had a positive impact in your life! xoxo