Alright, so you want to learn how to start a blog and make money. I won’t waste your time. I’ll jump right in. This website would help you pick your niche, launch your site, drive traffic, and start making money.
1. PICKING A NICHE
Before you can start blogging you have to have an idea of what you are going to be blogging about. This is perhaps one of the most crucial things to do before you even get started.
The most popular naysayers will tell you that you have to blog about something that you are passionate about because that will keep you motivated.
They will tell you that passion, skills, and experience have to align in order to create a niche that will work for you. Well, I am here to tell you that they are wrong. Well, not completely wrong but they are wrong if you are actually planning on making money from blogging.
If you simply want to blog and write for your own growth and self-reflection then their advice is perfect. But if you are planning on making money then you need to make sure that your niche has monetary potential.
As a matter of fact, monetization should be the driving focus. Passion is great, I am passionate about a lot of things, but passion does not equal money. Money equals money.
Treating your blog like a business from the very beginning will set you on the right path to making a full-time income.
To start thinking like a business owner ask yourself these questions:
WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?
You need to determine your audience members and the ways in which your blog niche can help solve some of their problems.
The more you know your audience the easier it is to determine what issues and pain points they have. Then you can swoop to the rescue and provide a solution to their problems.
The more connected you are to the audience members the more success you will have because you understand intimately the problems they have. And more importantly, you understand the problems they are willing to pay to have solved.
HOW YOUR NICHE LINES UP WITH YOUR GOALS?
Whenever you are going into a business you need to have goals established. You need to have a plan to make those goals happen.
You have to ensure that the niche you pick also aligns with your goals. If your goal is to make money and you have a niche in collecting old currencies you might want to rethink.
It is not that it is not possible, but it will certainly be more difficult.
People have to want what they are willing to give. Although the graphic above says you have to love it, this is not necessarily true.
DOES YOUR NICHE HAVE AFFILIATE MARKETING/MONETARY POTENTIAL?
You then need to see if your niche has affiliate marketing potential.
In my humble opinion affiliate marketing is the holy grail of blogging due to the high potential of passive income. With affiliate marketing, once you have it set up, you can just start raking in money while putting little if any effort.
Affiliate marketing refers to the act of recommending a particular product to an audience, in exchange for a slice of commission from the sale of the product or service.
There are a number of large and small companies that have affiliate programs. You simply need to apply for them, receive a referral/affiliate link, and incorporate it into your blog.
- When applying for affiliate programs, you need a business email. Not your regular, regular Gmail.
- When your audience clicks on the links, there is a cookie set up on their computer and when a sale occurs you are credited with a portion of the proceeds for a period of 30, 60, 90, and even 360 days.
Now, in order to have a profitable affiliate income, you need to rank on google and drive web traffic to those pages with affiliate links. In order to rank and drive traffic, you need great keywords.
Keywords are going to be your bread and butter.
The keywords that drive the most traffic are those that reference “the best”, and “how-to”.
These two keywords are perfectly positioned to drive both traffic and volumes. Think of it this way when someone is searching for things with “the best” they are looking for reviews, and lists in order to get information before they make a purchase.
A quick google search will emphasize that affiliate marketing runs these “best of” “how-to” posts.
With “how-to” people are essentially looking for a guide, and most likely a step-by-step guide (similar to this post). This will allow you to integrate affiliate links into the posts, which may link to the “best of” review post which will need more affiliate marketing.
Both of these dominant keywords need to come with detailed, long-form posts because those kinds of posts are preferred by Google (and other popular search engines). This is the main driving force for highly profitable blogs.
In order to better gauge what this looks like look for examples in your niches:
Personal Finance: millennialmoney.com, investorjunkie.com, makingsenseofcents.com
Fashion: Nerd About Town, The Blond Salad, Shine by Three
Travel: Borders of Adventures, The Blonde Abroad, Dan Flying Solo
There are certainly some niches out there that have higher potential than others. Some like tech, finance, and marketing seem to be hot right now.
Now, doing the actual keyword research is crucial because the content is king. You need to make sure that whatever it is that you are writing about for your niche is something that people actually want to read. If no one wants to read it, then you will not get paid.
People make hundreds of thousands of searches every second on Google alone. This is a gold mine if you can harness it correctly.
But, harnessing correctly can be difficult if you do not have the right tools or knowledge of SEO. Popular tools that are used for keyword research include, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz, etc. They provide a variety of keyword metrics such as monthly search volume and keyword difficulty.
Monthly search volumes refer to the number of times that a particular keyword has been searched in a month.
Keyword difficulty refers to how it is to the rank for a keyword due to competition. This is usually from a 0 to 100 scale.
The thing is that if you are a new blogger and you try to rank a keyword that has a high monthly search volume and a high keyword difficulty you are probably not going to get far or rank (at all).
Now, a good target for new bloggers starting out is those keywords that are medium volume and low competition. This means that there is not much competition for the keyword and a detailed, long blog post can have you ranking in a few months with some well-placed backlinks. These will be the keywords that drive revenue to your sites especially if the keyword is worth some money.
High volume and low keyword difficulty are the gold mines. But, like gold, they are a rare find. If you find some let me know.
High volume, high competition keywords will bring traffic to your website but they probably are not going to bring in revenues. They are nevertheless good to have because they can increase mail lists and unique visitors.
Now that you have established your money-making niche and keyword research, it is time to leverage your network.
Your network will give you cache and influence to stand out from the masses. In this case, Linkedin will become your best friend. You need to use this platform and other social networking platforms in order to perform outreach. This outreach will eventually lead to relationships if done right and these relationships will help you guest post on niche relevant high domain backlinks.
KEYWORDS TO KNOW:
Backlinks: This is a link when one site is linked to another. This is also known as an inbound or incoming link.
Domain authority: This is how search engines like Google rank the authority of a website. The higher the number the better, the more likely it is to be on the first page of google.
In SEO, if you get a backlink from a high domain website. Then it could possibly boost up your own domain authority. Thus, Google will find you more trustworthy and your website will be more likely to rank.
This is why networking and connections are so critical. By creating these connections, you can build a relationship, get guests posted, and get a backlink back to your site.
This momentum will allow you to gain credibility quicker, and drive traffic which leads to more income.
2. GET A DOMAIN NAME
This is important but should not be that time-consuming. You can try to pick a name that is related to your niche (fiscallyfrugal -> personal finance) or you can simply just use your name.
Your domain name should not pigeonhole you in case you change your mind about your niche.
Buying your domain name is also cheap and affordable. There are several registrar websites like Bluehost, Namecheap, GoDaddy, etc. that provide these services. The average price for a yearly domain is about $10. However, Bluehost will give you a domain name for free for a whole year.
I would highly recommend a .com extension because these are the ones that rank the highest when it comes to trustworthiness.
Make sure your domain name is simple and easy to remember. Please, avoid numbers, symbols, etc.
3. GET A HOST
Choose the hosting company that works best for you. In order for your website to go live you need a host that will provide security, stability, and integration with WordPress.
Make sure that your host providers have these features:
- SSL certificate
- cPanel dashboard
- low or free pricing
- Uses and recommends WordPress
- 24/7 customer services
- High-end security servers
- High-Speed Loading
4. SET UP WORDPRESS
WordPress is the best blog platform if you ever plan to monetize your blog. This is where you will upload or write your posts, create your menus, and categories, and design/customize your websites.
There are other content management platforms out there that have free and paid options. However, most blogs are hosted on WordPress, and for good reasons.
They provide an abundance of plugins, (free and paid), and the kind of customization that exists almost nowhere else.
Most web hosts come with 1 click installations for WordPress.
When creating your blog, you should be careful about which WordPress you use. There is both wordpress.com and wordpress.org.
WordPress.com: These options really limit you because you cannot customize much. You also cannot pick a custom name without having to pay some money. However, it requires no maintenance and is hosted by WordPress. This is a great option for casual bloggers and those simply wanting a website to show off their online resumes.
WordPress.org: This option is self-hosted by you. You have the chance of using your custom domain name and fully customizing it with plugins and CSS addition. You also have an eCommerce option as well. This is the best option for those that are serious about blogging (like you hopefully) and those hoping to use It for business.
Picking your theme is very important for UX design. Thankfully, WordPress has plenty of free and paid options. In the WordPress dashboard, there is an appearance option in the left-hand corner. This will take you to the customization of your website.
Here you can change your:
- Colors and Fonts: You can change your color options, font design, button shape/size, etc.
- Menu: This holds your categories, and you can change their placement and navigation options.
- Site Identity: You can add your own logo, name, etc.
- Additional CSS: If you have some coding skills you can customize your CSS and make it look the way you want.
You should always make sure that the fonts are legible. I had this issue when I initially started my website. The spacing and line length was too small and so my texts appeared close together.
Old Blog Post with Old Font/Spacing DesignNew Blog Post with New Font/Spacing Design
This made it harder to read. Quickly fixing that made my website a thousand times easier to read which also decreased my bounce rate.
Also, make sure that your website is both desktop and mobile-friendly. Google search engine is starting to put a higher emphasis on mobile websites, so if yours is not bad, it will not bode well for you.
At the end of the day, keep the site design simple, easy to read, appealing, and quick.
Themes installation is found on the left-hand side. Under appearance -> Themes -> add new
This will give you an array of free and paid options.
Moving on to plugins…
Due to the nature of WordPress, it is very easy to customize your website and that is where plugins come in. Plugins are tools that are integrated into your site and help with the functionality, design, and customization of your site. If you are not a coder, these plugins will save your life.
These is the ones that I use:
- Yoast SEO: In order to have a successful site you need great SEO optimization. This will let you know how SEO ready your posts are, allowing you to fix major issues before you hit publish.
- Easy Table of Contents: This automates the creation of a table of contents. This keeps your readers engage and also makes it easier to read your content.
- GDPR Cookie Consent: This helps you become GDPR compliant for your readers in the EU.
- ThirsityAffiliates: This essentially beautifies your affiliate links and leads to higher conversion rates.
- ShortPixel Image Optimizer: The best blogs have plenty of pictures, which can slow down a website. This plugin compresses them and allows them to load faster.
The appearance of your URL can have a major impact on your ranking. By default, your permalink is set to your postID. This can often look messy and disorganized.
You can fix this by going to settings -> permalinks -> post name/custom name -> save
This should help your post name line up with your URL and keyword
5. CONTENT CREATION
As I mentioned above content is king. If you have followed the steps outlined above then you should have everything you need to start blogging.
Any content you create most has gone through the keyword research talked about above.
Now, you do not have to be the next Hemingway but you do have to know how to write in a way that is appealing to your audience. Your writing should be easy to read.
- Make sure it has headings and subheadings.
- It should also be grammatically correct.
- It should also be grammatically correct.
- Make sure there is varying sentence structure.
- Add picture/videos/audio/infographics to break up the texts
- Use bullet points and numbered lists
- Make sure your paragraphs are no more than 4 sentences at the most.
FOCUS ON YOUR KEYWORDS
Keywords will make and break your blog so they should always be at the forefront of your mind.
So, make sure that they are incorporated in the permanent URL, in your title, headings, first paragraph, meta description, alt image, and throughout your paragraphs.
The most important thing to remember when writing your content is that it must answer the reader’s questions or solve their pain points. Please do not waste their time, get to the point.
To write your blog post go again to the left-hand corner and click on posts à add new
This will open up the WordPress editor. It should look fairly similar to a word document. Type in or upload your blog post.
Before you press submit make sure that you have the Yoast plugin. This will allow you to see if your post is SEO compliant (green dot). You can then preview the page in the upper right-hand corner, this will show you how your post will look when published.
If you like it then publish it. If not then make the needed changes and then publish it.
6. LONG-TERM GOALS AND STRATEGY
Just because you have published your first post does not mean that your work is over. As a matter of fact, you are just getting started.
You have to have the long game in mind. Ranking takes time and patience.
Strategic steps to take to ensure success:
- Perform keyword research on keywords you want to rank for.
- Write the content (or have someone write the content based on the keyword). Make sure it is adequately long to compete with others. Then publish it asap. You can always go back and edit it.
- Start your link-building campaign (check out the post below this for more details). This will give you the juice to start ranking.
- Once you are sufficiently ranked (page 2 or 30 then you can start reaching out to affiliate programs in order to earn some money.
- Continue to build your links, and once you get to that first page of Google, you are in! Reach out to your affiliate program and try and negotiate a higher commission.
Bonus: Use long-tail keywords. This tends to be more specific and less competitive. Check out these articles on them.
7. LINK BUILDING
In order to grow your audience and authority, you need to start link building. There are a number of ways of going about doing this. However, the best way especially for beginners is guest posting.
This allows you to also build relationships, backlinks (my favorites), etc. This is like the chicken and the egg. You will need backlinks to rank, and the higher your rank the easier it is to get backlinks.
But like I mentioned above LinkedIn is going to be your best friend. Find editors for the websites and blogs you want to guest post on and reach out to them via email to pitch your guest content.
In order to be successful at guest blogging, you have to make sure that you are proving something valuable to the other blog/website. It is a give and take relationship, not just a take, and take.
- Find Guest Posting Opportunities: This can be one of the easier steps. You can simply type in “blog niche” guest posts and there are websites that will show tons of opportunities. The sites listed usually have some guidelines that they want you to follow. However, do not just guest post on random sites. You have to be strategic and efficient. Use Moz to check the domain authority of certain sites, the higher the domain authority the more powerful your backlink from them will be. Once you have the sites you want to use Linkedin to reach out to them.
- Plan out your Guest Post: Treat this guest post as if it was your own. Follow the guidelines that the site provides. They usually want the content to be unique as well.
- Pitch Your Guest Post/write: If you have managed to get in contact with someone from the site. Send them a few blog post ideas. They will select one and then it is time to write. Make sure you are using the same guidelines from step 6 to write this guest blog post.
Bonus Things You Need to Have:
- Google Search Console: This will help you index your sites. This is to ensure that Google can crawl it and it can show up on the search engine.
- Google Analytics: This will help you monitor your traffic on your sites. You can see where your audience is coming from, demographics, etc.
Need to Have pages:
- About Page: This should share as much or as little information about you. Try to make it as personable as possible so that your readers feel connected to you in some ways.
- Contact Page: This is the page on which people should be able to easily reach you. It can be a contact form or a simple email address. It is up to you
- Resources: This is where you can link to some of the resources that you use or promote in some ways. It is also a great place for affiliate marketing.
- Disclosure: If you are using affiliate marketing links, sponsorship, or ads. This is where you disclose all this to your audience members. It can also include private policy information. This is a legal tender that most people seem to forget about. However, it is critical for regulations for money-making blogs.
If you are looking for more ways of making money and passive income check out this list of 65 passive income ideas.