Image courtesy of Unsplash.
Have you ever thought about a topic you’re passionate about and wondered if you could blog about it? And, going further than that, if you could make money from it?
Thinking about learning how to start a blog has become an increasingly popular pastime, especially over the past decade. Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever to start a blog and make money from it!
We’ve got all the tips and tricks for you, whether you’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a long time or are just curious about the idea. So, from start to finish, here is everything that you need to know about how to start a blog and make money from it!
How to start a blog & make money in 2020
What you’ll need
- A reliable computer, laptop, or tablet
- Niche topics in mind
- A journal or agenda
As you can see, starting a blog can be done with minimal resources! There are a few handy tools that you may want to consider purchasing later on, such as spell-check software and some promotional tools, but we’ll cover those items in our guide below!
Plan your blog topic!
There are plenty of necessary steps along the way when learning how to start a blog, but nothing is as important as deciding what you want to write about.
The key is to start thinking about what you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. You may be very experienced with a specific pastime like gardening, or be very enthusiastic about reviewing new films. Some folks decide to make a blog because their topic inspires them, while others choose to make a blog with no clear route.
Start by making a list if you know that you’re interested in starting a blog but don’t know what topic to write about. Put everything that you can think of on this list! It should include all of your hobbies, aspirations, or anything else you would be interested in writing about.
Many people have dedicated blogs for their hobbies and treat it as a personal diary of sorts. However, if you want to make money from your blog, you’ll need to narrow your list based on what people are interested in reading.
You may love your rock collection, but do you think the topic is marketable? Cross anything off of your list if it’s not a topic you’d want to read about yourself.
Your final topic should be something that you genuinely want to write about, but also something that you think will bring in readers who can learn more from you. Here are some common blogging ideas that may work for you:
- Cooking/recipe ideas. Have you always loved to cook or bake? Share your tips and favourite recipes with the world.
- Family lifestyle blogs. Are you a parent, child-care worker, or a part of a big family? These kinds of blogs are incredibly popular and allow you to share some insight into your own life!
- Financial blogs. People across the globe will always be interested in learning how to invest, save more money, or how to retire. There are plenty of different topics to tackle with a financial blog.
- Pets/animals. Do you own a pet that you love and care for? Writing about how to care for animals (especially uncommon ones) will always bring in a pet-loving crowd.
- Travel blogs. People often find inspiration for their future trips by someone who has been on a similar one. If you love to travel, you can easily learn how to start a blog and make money from sharing pictures, travel tips, and packing hacks.
- Fashion blogs. Fashion magazines are expensive and often feature outrageously pricy clothing. It’s become common for readers to go to bloggers to get fashion advice and to learn about trends.
- Review blogs. Do you watch a lot of films, play a lot of video games, or read a lot of books? Reviews for different types of media can help people decide what to read/watch/play!
Remember: you can always start a new blog later. If you decide that it’s not the right topic for you, or you’re just not generating enough traffic, you can always consider it a learning opportunity and move on to something new.
Research different blogging platforms
Now that you know what you want to write about, it’s time to decide where you’ll write it!
If you have experience with coding (or know someone who does), you may consider creating your own website from scratch. However, this process is very time-consuming. You may find yourself spending more time coding than writing!
Fortunately, there are various online blogging platforms. Many of them have free or paid versions. If you’re just starting, then a free version is usually enough!
Some of the most popular blogging platforms include WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr. These are great options if you are trying to learn how to start a blog for free.
WordPress is considered the most popular platform for blogging around the world. It’s possible to run a high-quality blog for free! It’s also incredibly beginner-friendly and will show you exactly how to start your blog.
Pros of WordPress:
- It’s easy to learn.
- There are various extensions and add-ons for experienced bloggers.
- It’s easy to customise.
- External tools will almost always work with WordPress.
Cons of WordPress:
- You are responsible for website security.
- Slow load times are not uncommon.
WordPress also offers some bonus features if you decide to pay for a membership. This is convenient for users once they have established their blog, but it’s not mandatory to make your website thrive.
Image courtesy of Blogger.
Blogger is another popular platform. One of its most appealing features is just how easy it is to set up. You can open an account and start posting your thoughts in minutes! It’s not the best choice if you want to build a large website with many pages, but it’s excellent for simple blogging.
Pros of Blogger:
- It’s free.
- Navigating the website and posting process is simple.
- It’s owned by Google, making it especially easy if you already use a Google product.
Cons of Blogger:
- It’s not ideal for websites that want to branch out beyond blogging.
- Customisation can be tricky.
Blogger launched back in 1999. So, it’s definitely one of the oldest blogging platforms around. While Blogger’s ability to remain popular for two decades certainly proves its worth, it does lack some of the innovative features that are common with newer blogging platforms.
Image courtesy of Tumblr.
Tumblr is our final top choice for blogging platforms. This choice is excellent for some bloggers, but impossible for others.
What Tumblr offers is the ease of sharing. Blog posts and images can easily be re-blogged by other users, making it simple to grow your list of followers. Despite this great feature, it’s not ideal for people who want a multi-page website.
Pros of Tumblr:
- It’s easy to gain followers and have a broader audience.
- Uploading content is straightforward.
- It’s free.
Cons of Tumblr:
- Customisation can cost time and money to learn.
- It’s tough for viewers to comment on your posts.
- Integrating multiple webpages is hard to do.
Tumblr is a great choice if your niche topic is something that is easy-to-read or very image-based. However, if you plan on writing lengthy posts, you may want to consider choosing another platform.
Register your domain
Now that you’ve decided on where you want to host your website, it’s time to choose what to name it!
Think of a handful of names that work with your website. They should be simple, yet unique enough to help distinguish your website from others who blog about the same thing.
Having a few different options is always important, as it can be frustrating to find that the name you love is already being used. Check your favourite choices to ensure that you aren’t copying it from someone else before you go on to register your name as a website domain.
All of the options for blogging platforms that are listed above allow you to create a website for free. Though, you will have your website end in a “.tumblr.com” or “.wordpress.com” domain. This isn’t always an issue, especially for newer creators.
Purchasing your own domain adds credibility to your website. It helps readers know that you’ve invested in the content that you’re writing. A unique domain name also sets it apart from other content creators.
Some blogging platforms will allow you to register a domain name on their website (for an additional fee) in only a few steps. Other sites are designed to register a domain for you while also working with your blogging platform. GoDaddy and Names are two easy-to-use and budget-friendly services in the UK.
Image courtesy of GoDaddy.
Choose a web hosting service
One of the elements of learning how to start a blog that most beginners aren’t aware of is web hosting. There is always the possibility that things can go wrong when you upload content onto the internet. Things like incredibly slow connection speed or inability to load webpages at all are common.
When you start a website on a free hosting site, like WordPress, the responsibility of keeping it up-to-date and running smoothly is all on you. Fortunately, that’s where web hosting services come in!
Having a web hosting account makes potential readers able to access your website immediately by typing in the address to your website. Many hosting platforms will also allow you to purchase a domain name, website address, and additional security features.
Image courtesy of Bluehost.
Bluehost is one of the most well-reviewed hosting platforms available. One of their most significant benefits is their seamless WordPress integration. Blogging with WordPress while hosting with BlueHost can help you create a budget-friendly, secure, and easy-to-navigate blog.
Create a list of posts to write about
Many people who are learning how to start a blog will immediately jump into the design elements of their blog. While there is no wrong way to go about it, it’s much easier to develop a blog after you know what you’re going to talk about.
Since you have a selected niche or topic, it’s time to generate some ideas for content. You don’t need to write a list of hundreds of topics that you plan on tackling over the next year. You should, however, have at least a handful of potential topics to write about.
So, why is it essential to have a plan of what topics you want to start with? By having an idea of how you’ll begin your pathway to extensive content creation, you’ll be more inspired to keep writing. Updating your website with regular blog posts is important to readers, as they want to be able to keep up with your posts on a regular schedule.
The owner of a blog who posts an update twice a week, at the same time and day each week, will find more success than the user who posts randomly throughout the month. Readers will come to expect to be able to visit your website for a new post, boosting your visibility, brand loyalty, and your credibility.
Having a well-planned list of topics will also prevent you from ever feeling like you have nothing to write about. It’s harder to get writer’s block when you have your potential topics right in front of you! Start a spreadsheet or keep a notebook of topics you think your future readers would enjoy and keep track of when you write each piece. You can add to your list regularly.
Since you now have a better idea of what you want to write about, you can start building your actual website! This can be the most exciting aspect of learning how to start a blog, but it can also be the most time-consuming.
Designing and customising your website will depend on the blog hosting platform you’ve chosen. Some have plenty of themes to choose from. These will allow you to make small changes, like colour themes, font, or image selection. Other websites allow you to start from the ground up and build your website to your choosing.
Image courtesy of WordPress.
Hiring someone to design your website for you is another option when it comes to customisation. If you don’t mind investing more money into your website, then it can be a valuable tool. Experts at coding and design can help create a beautiful theme that’s unique to your niche topic and personality.
Not up for spending money until you’ve made some of your own? Learning how to make a visually appealing website can take time, but it gives you far more freedom in how you want to present your ideas. Luckily, there are plenty of online tutorials on how to make your blog look better. For a thorough explanation of how to customise your WordPress blog, you can watch one of the many online tutorials below.
You may not know exactly how you want your blog to look until you start exploring what your chosen platform allows you to do. Try to stick with themes and colour palettes that somewhat relate to your topic. For example, a gardening website may want to use vibrant greens and floral imagery, whereas a financial website may want to look more sleek and professional.
Write your first post
By this point, you will have a well-designed blog, your own domain name, and a list of topics to write about! You’re all ready to write your very first blog post.
Your first post is incredibly important for the future of your blog. You need it to introduce who you are as a content creator, your topic, and why you’re the person to come to when readers want to learn more about what you have to say.
In addition to being introductory, it’s a smart idea to have something else that entices readers to start reading your blog. It may be a simple advertisement for an upcoming post, or it could have some neat information within the post.
Your first post needs to draw readers in right from the title. This is what makes people want to read more and spend time on your website. Most potential followers will decide in less than a second if they want to read on or scroll by.
A first blog post with the title “Welcome To My Blog” says nothing about who you are or why anyone should read the post. This title is fine if you already have a following built up from other online platforms, but anyone who stumbles upon your website won’t feel inclined to read it.
Here are a few ideas of titles that work better to pull your audience in. Remember, you can adapt the title to fit whatever niche you’re writing about.
- “I Started My Own Garden – You Can, Too!” This title feels like an introductory post while also giving readers some incentive to open the post. It promotes the topic of your blog while also welcoming readers to your journey.
- “Follow Me On My Journey Around The World!” This potential topic for a travel or lifestyle blog is a great way to tell readers what you’re writing about. It’s eye-catching and makes viewers want to learn more while inviting them to be a part of your story.
- “How I Adopted My Corgi!” This type of title would work great for a pet blog. It tells your unique story, introduces readers to your topic (dogs/pets), and may work well for SEO purposes.
The way that you choose to write your post will be indicative of what readers can expect. No matter how advanced a topic you write about, it’s important to put your readers first. Easy-to-read language will be more accessible for viewers, while complex writing may turn people away. Integrating images and videos are also smart ways to break up your text and make it easier on the eyes.
Finishing your first blog post with a promise for future posts is very important. Why should readers subscribe to your blog and want to check back? Ending your first post with a hint at your next story, or the kinds of themes you’ll be writing for next may inspire them to bookmark it for later.
Another thing to consider is optimising your posts for online traffic. SEO, or “search engine optimisation”, is a way of writing your blog posts in a way that helps search engines pick it up. Do you want to be at the top of Google’s results when people type in a certain question? Then you’ll have to learn how to optimise!
And finally, don’t forget to check your entire post for spelling and grammar. You don’t want to publish your first piece only to find that it’s filled with spelling errors! There are various spell-check plug-ins available, such as Grammarly. This option also allows you to check for plagiarism (when using the paid version).
Don’t just publish your post immediately after you’ve reviewed it. You don’t want to post in the middle of the night or while people are eating a meal. Plenty of researchers have studied when the optimal time for social media posting is, and mid-morning on a Monday is considered the winner. Once you start posting regularly, you will be able to examine traffic and engagement to see if your timing works for your audience.
Now that you have your first post written and ready to go, you’re almost on your way to having a blog. However, the next step is the most important when learning how to start a blog and make money. So, hold off on posting your first piece until you’ve tackled step #8.
Monetise your blog
You have learned how to start a blog, but now it’s time to find out more about how you can make money from it! There are a handful of ways to make money from your blog, and it’s important to know some of the different approaches before deciding on one (or more).
A lot of the ways to make money from your blog will take time. Some monetisation methods require a certain amount of views per month or a higher number of subscribers. So, you can’t expect to become rich after only a few posts, but the earlier you start, the more you’ll make.
The possibilities of monetisation will depend on your niche and your audience. You could turn your blog into a YouTube channel, offer training programs to go along with your blog or sell experiences to your readers. Here are some of our favourite and most simple ways to make money from your blog:
This monetisation method is when you promote a service or product to your readers by providing a link. You will profit each time someone clicks on your provided link and spends money.
Using affiliate marketing to make money is ideal for people who find it easy to integrate product recommendations. For example, a blogger who writes about baking or cooking may share what kinds of pans they use. Throwing in an affiliate link makes sense for their blog.
When sharing affiliate links, you must remember to stay true to your blog. It would not make sense for our baking blogger to share a link for gardening tools. Find products that your readers would be more likely to buy before adding them to your post.
Amazon offers an easy-to-use affiliate programme.
Image courtesy of Amazon.
You’ve probably visited a website before and seen noticeable advertisement boxes in the corner of the website, or between columns of text. You can add them to your website, too, with Google AdSense!
Adding ads on your website is an easy way for newer bloggers to make money. If you have some traffic but limited engagement, you can still generate an income from AdSense.
This type of monetisation will pay you per CPC. This is “cost per click”, which is when readers click on one of the advertisements from your website. They don’t need to purchase anything from the website that the ad directs them to. The CPC is determined by the advertiser.
Readers are so accustomed to seeing advertisements that displaying them on your blog will not feel out-of-place compared to the other websites that they frequent. Still, you should be careful not to fill your website with advertisements. Pop-ups can be especially frustrating for readers, which may cause them to use an ad-blocker.
Create Sponsored Posts
This form of monetisation will require a larger following. Fortunately, some sponsors will be eager to pay you if you have the potential for lots of traffic growth.
A sponsored post is simple. You write about a product or service (or mention it at least once in a separate post) and the company pays you. Blogs with limited traffic may find it easier to attract companies that offer free products rather than a direct payment.
Bringing back our baking example, a company may have a new cake batter that they are trying to advertise. They would send you a (free) sample and pay you to use the product and write about your experience. This can be done with all kinds of different products, from kitchenware to free hotel rooms.
Larger bloggers will often have potential sponsors reach out to them. Luckily, nothing is stopping you from reaching out to brands! Create what is called a “media kit” that lists your traffic numbers and following outside of the blog if relevant. For example, you may have thousands of Instagram followers that don’t subscribe to your blog. If you will cross-post your sponsored piece to Instagram, then this number will also be taken into account.
Make sure that you have a plan before reaching out to a potential sponsor. This will include what type of product you are hoping to feature, how you will feature it (include any mention of a tie-in video or similar piece of content), as well as when you would want to post it. Some companies may negotiate a different price or timeframe, which will ultimately be your decision.
Post Content For Paying Members
Another exciting way to make money from your blog is to have special content in addition to your free content.
The way that this looks will depend on your blogging platform. Some hosting websites may make it possible to have a members-only page. You can set up a PayPal or banking transfer form that allows users to pay for a password to access this private section of your website.
This type of monetisation will only work if you have enough interesting content to make people want to pay for more. This could include “secret recipe” sections, exclusive images, or otherwise.
You may also consider a tie-in newsletter for your website that is membership-only. This may look like a weekly newsletter filled with secret tips, private discount codes (given by a sponsor), or information about meet-and-greet activities. Not only would this help you make money, but it would also create customer loyalty and increase traffic statistics.
Post your first blog post!
You now have monetisation all figured out, and are ready to click “publish” on your very first blog post! Remember, scheduling your post can have an impact on how many people find your website. So, be considerate of when you publish it.
Now that you have something for audiences to read, you can finally start trying to pull your potential readers toward your website. If you wrote your first post with SEO in mind, you might already have organic traffic coming in. However, there is plenty more that you can do to advertise your website!
You finally have a blog that you can promote to the world! No blog becomes a hit overnight, but there is an endless number of ways that you can promote your blog and increase your traffic. Here are some of the most important ways to advertise your blog once you’ve published it for the world to see.
Tell your friends and family
There’s no easier way to get a few clicks than to have your friends and family visit your website! Ask anyone you know who may be interested in your topic to read your first post and consider subscribing for more.
Even if your friends and family aren’t eager to read about your niche topic, their click may still help your traffic statistics. This can impact monetisation options down the road.
Everyone has at least one social media account these days. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are very common, and there’s a chance that you already have more than a handful of friends or subscribers. Post the link to your blog and invite your followers to read it.
Keep your blog URL on your profile or “about me” section on any social media account you use. This will help you generate traffic even if you haven’t posted anything recently.
Another thing to consider is creating a brand new social media account to support your blog. Posting short sections of your blog posts, along with related images, can inspire people to want to read more. This is especially true with some blog topics like travelling. Sharing a beautiful photo of an exotic location will encourage viewers to read more about how you took the photo, which will then lead them straight to your blog!
Not everyone is an avid social media user. Emails, on the other hand, will always be a reliable form of online communication. Put together short paragraphs about your blog, upcoming content, and latest posts along with some appealing graphics. Your first newsletter should be right before or after your first blog post.
You won’t have a dedicated following to send your newsletter to right away. So, start by sending it to anyone in your contact list that may be interested. You can also consider sending it to people in the community of your niche topic. For example, if you post about gardening, consider sending it to local gardening groups in your area.
Include a section on your website where people can sign up for your newsletter. This will ensure that they never miss a post and can hear about your upcoming content before anyone else does.
Many hobbies and other topics already have an online community for people to share their thoughts and experiences. Places like Reddit have thousands of dedicated forums for hobbies of all kinds. You can be confident that anyone who stumbles on the dedicated subreddit (or another online forum) already has a passion for your niche topic.
It’s important to not spam these online communities with your blog posts. Instead, write a brief synopsis and invite your fellow hobbyists to read your blog. You may also find others who have started a blog about a similar topic. Offer to read and subscribe to theirs if they return the favour!
Promote old content
You don’t just have to keep promoting your newest blog posts. If you’ve been writing for months and have gathered a selection of older content, it’s never too late to re-share!
If your blog has gained more traffic from recent posts, then there is always a chance that they missed earlier content. Re-sharing previous successful content is a great way to help make sure readers have never missed a post.
Use guest bloggers or guest blog for others
A common promotion tactic is to find bloggers who write about similar topics. Ask one of the people writing in your niche if they would like to take turns guest blogging. This would involve you writing a piece and having them publish it on your blog, and you publishing one of their posts on yours.
So, how does this help generate traffic? The piece you publish on their website will have direct links to your blog. You may have dozens of subscribers or dedicated viewers who have never heard of their blog, and they may have the same amount that has never heard of yours! You are advertising your content to readers who are already interested in what you write about.
Building relationships with writers in your niche is always helpful in the long run. Having a friend in the blogging business can help for moral support, while also giving each other access to a larger platform.
Tag your posts
Many online platforms, and especially WordPress, have the option of putting a tag or hashtag on your posts. This will help potential readers find your website. While they may have never heard of your blog, they will search up terms related to your post, making it easier for them to stumble across it.
Remember to make hashtags and tags brief and relevant, while also being something that they will lookup. Nobody will look for #(YourName)BakesARecipe, but they may search up #HealthyRecipes. It’s all about learning what tags your audience responds to well.
Blogging has a lot of potentials. You can use it to make friends, learn more about your favourite hobbies, and share your thoughts with the world. You can also learn how to start a blog and make money, building a passive income with time. No matter what your reasons are for wanting to learn how to start a blog, there are plenty of resources to help you.
You have now learned how to start a blog, and all of the important pieces of information that go into starting, building, and promoting your blog. So, what are you waiting for? Find your niche and get to writing! Just remember to plan, write, and share!