You know I love Blogging; I love how it gives me the freedom to work from Home, on my own schedule, doing something I love.
And I also love how accessible Blogging is. If you’ve got a computer, you can Start a Blog.
Here’s the truth though; just because everyone can start a Blog, not everyone can make a living from Blogging. And that’s ok if you want to Blog as a hobby, or you’re happy Blogging as a side hustle and making an extra few hundred dollars a month.
But if you want to start a Blog that will make you 9-5 leaving, full time income money, you need to Start a Blog like you’re Starting a Business (because you are!)
This post isn’t any old ‘How to Start a Blog’ post. It’s a ‘How to Start a Blog’ post with extra information for Bloggers with their Business heads on.
There seems to be the idea that money shouldn’t be the primary reason for someone to start a Blog. That you should start a Blog to share your knowledge and help people, and if you make money it’s a bonus. But I don’t think that’s true. I think you can start a Blog as a Business first and foremost, and still help people.
You just have to go at it with a slightly different mindset, and make decisions on your niche and your content based on their profitability, instead of what you want to write about.
So let’s go. It’s time to start your money-making Blog!
(This post contains affiliate links. This means I make a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my referral links.)
Step 1: Choose a Niche
What is a niche?
A niche is a specific blog topic. It could be a broad niche, such as parenting, or a very specific niche, such as parenting a child with a specific medical condition.
The Benefits of Having a Niche
- It’s good for Search Engine Optimisation
- Your readers are interested in your whole blog
- You will be recognised as a specialist in your niche
- It’s easier to plan your Marketing because you know who you’re marketing to
What if you want to Blog about lots of things?
There are no rules that say you have to write about one topic to have a niche. In fact, many of the most popular and successful blogs are lifestyle blogs that cover a whole range of subjects including fashion, DIY, interiors, shopping etc all on the same blog. After all, people aren’t ever interested in one thing and one thing only!
The benefit of Blogging about multiple topics is you’ll be able to see which topics are most popular with your audience, instead of choosing a niche, and hoping you can find an audience for it.
Whatever you decide to blog about, it needs to be:
- Something you are genuinely interested in,
- Something you are knowledgeable about, or
- Something you are keen to learn more about, and most importantly,
- Something other people want to know about
Your Niche is for your Audience
You will find lots of other Bloggers telling you to Blog about what you’re passionate about, and you can monetise anything. But *whispers* it’s not true! Not if you want to make money anyway!
You wouldn’t start a product based business with products that nobody but you were interested in. Your Blog is your product, and the bigger audience you can write for, the more money you’ll make.
These two posts will help you find a profitable idea for your Blog Topic:
- 7 Blog Niches that Get Good Traffic and Make Good Money by Obstacle.co
- The 7 Things People are Willing to Pay For, by Regina Anaejionu
And, finally, it’ll make your life easier to write your blog for an audience you know! And not just people you have stats on, people you know personally in real life. People like you is always a good idea! Then you have insider knowledge on what your audience is interested in and needs help with and how to write blog posts they’ll enjoy and relate to.
Step 2: Choose a Blog Name
Your blog name is important. You don’t want to be stuck with something you’ll hate in a year’s time because changing it is going to be annoying (though not impossible) especially if you’ve built up traffic and SEO credibility.
Though, on the flip side, it’s not important enough to stress over for Months!
A Good Blog Name is:
- Fairly short, between 2-4 words, memorable, easy to spell and represents your brand.
- Not going to embarrass you. If you’re going to be operating internationally check that any words you use don’t mean anything dodgy in a foreign language! And check your chosen domain name for any inadvertent inappropriate words or phrases
- Not being used by anyone else, especially if they’re using it for a similar Blog or Business you want to, or they have it trademarked.
How to Choose a Blog Name
Use Your Name
Using your own name is always an option especially if you are using your blog to launch your freelancing or coaching career where you will develop long term client relationships.
It creates a personal feel to your brand and gives you the option in the future to make changes to your services without your blog name becoming redundant.
Brainstorm alternative ideas
If you don’t want to use your name, or its not available as a domain, it’s time to come up with some ideas!
What is your brand about? Brainstorm words that represent your brand and describe what you do. Use a thesaurus and a dictionary and get creative.
Think of words that describe your ideal audience or what your ideal audience aspires to. Try and choose words that will appeal to your readers and speak to them at an emotional level.
Ask friends and family or in Facebook groups for opinions on your ideas or to suggest ideas for you.
Spend some time trying out potential names until you find one you like. Try mixing up and making up new words.
When you’ve decided your Blog name, buy your domain name and register your Social Media Accounts, so no-one else can nab them!
Step 3: Actually Start your Blog
There are multiple places you can Start a Blog that will make money, including both versions of WordPress (self-hosted and hosted), Blogger and Squarespace.
Contrary to what you may read, you can monetise Blogs successfully on all of those platforms I just mentioned.
Why I use self hosted WordPress
But, for ultimate flexibility, I recommend going with self-hosted WordPress and a quality host like SiteGround, and I have just recently moved my Squarespace hosted Blog over to WordPress. Here’s why…
- You have unlimited design customisation options. There’s a huge choice of themes and hundreds of designers and developers that can create a totally custom site for you. The only limits are your imagination (and maybe your budget unless you’re a Web developer or designer!)
- You have unlimited functionality. Whatever you want your blog to do, there’s a plug-in (or several!) that can help you do it.
- You have total control. Your site is yours and you can do whatever you want with it or on it. (As long as you keep it legal of course!) On the flip side this means it is entirely possible for you to break your blog. And if you do break it, it’s up to you to fix it!
- There are unlimited Monetisation options. Again, the only limit is your imagination! You can run ads, include affiliate links, write sponsored posts, add an e-commerce plugin and sell products or services, it really is up to you. There are no Terms of Service to abide by. As long as you keep it legal, you can monetise your blog any way you want to!
- It’s used by Millions of people. There is no universal ‘WordPress support’ and as I just said, if you break your blog, you have to fix it. BUT, there are 76.5 million blogs using WordPress so there will be someone available who can help you! A search of Google, YouTube or asking in a Blogging Facebook group should answer any WordPress related questions you have.
Why I choose SiteGround for hosting
A good quality host is essential when growing a Blog. You want a host that keeps your Blog safe and secure, has excellent customer service, loads your site quickly and is easy to use.
I have multiple Blogs hosted with SiteGround and I’m always happy to recommend them. If you want to know why, read this post: 6 Reasons SiteGround is the Best Hosting for New Bloggers
How to do the Tech Stuff
To get your Blog started and ‘live’, you need to:
- Purchase your Hosting & Domain Name
- Sign up for, and Install WordPress
- Choose a Theme
- Press the ‘Publish’ button
For a Step-by-Step walk through of the technical side of Starting a self-hosted WordPress Blog with SiteGround, head over here…
Step 4: Customise your Blog Design
Now it’s time to make your Blog look like you want it to.
Your Blog design is determined by the Theme you use. You will probably have the default WordPress Theme installed when you first start your Blog. And if that suits you, then by all means stick to it.
But it’s fairly likely you’ll want a different look to your Blog. Which is when you disappear down the rabbit hole of choosing a Theme. There are thousands to choose from, from multiple independent designers plus the free ones in the WordPress repository. So how do you choose the right theme?
What does it look like?
When you’re judging a theme based on it’s looks, remember to ignore things like the photography, colours and fonts used in the demo. They can easily be changed. The important thing to look at is the layout of the pages, the header design, and position of the menus.
How easy is it to customise?
Different themes provide different levels of customisation, so check to see what you can change when you’re deciding if you like a Theme or not. Most paid Themes (and quite a few Free ones) make it easy to customise colours, fonts, and change page layouts.
What support do you get?
If you purchase a Theme you should get after sales support, plus documentation to help you set up your Theme in the first place. Check to see what level of support is supplied, and how it’s given, and if that suits you. Beware of designers that make you sign up to a monthly subscription to continue getting theme support and updates.
Free vs Paid
Free Themes generally have fewer customisation options than premium themes and have either no, or limited, support. However, I am amazed at how attractive and how many features some free WordPress themes do have. I tend to recommend a Free Theme to start with, until you decide exactly what you want your blog to look like, to avoid waiting money on a Theme you decide you don’t like.
If your hunting for a free Theme, don’t miss this post where I’ve shared 21 attractive & feature-packed Free WordPress Themes.
My Recommended Theme Designers
When you do decide to invest in a Theme, I recommend starting your search with the following:
- The Genesis Framework. This Blog is built on the Genesis framework, which is well know for excellent SEO, speed and security and state-of-the-art design. If you use Genesis, you have to use a Child Theme. Mine is Hello Foxy, by Hello You Designs
- Restored 316 design beautiful, feminine WordPress themes for the Genesis framework.
- Divi. Divi is a drag and drop Theme and Page Builder that makes it very easy to create the exact Blog, and Page, layouts you want without touching a line of code.
- Station Seven is my Theme designer of choice for clean, minimal designs for WordPress
- Bluchic are my favourites for gorgeous WordPress themes for female Bloggers and creative Entrepreneurs
Step 5: Add Some Content
Now your Blog is looking good, it’s time to add some Content. Obviously, you will be adding Blog Posts, but you’ll need to add some Static Pages to your Blog as well.
You need to write:
- An ‘About‘ or ‘Start Here‘ page to introduce your Blog, what your niche is, some background information on why you’re ‘qualified’ to write your Blog (make it personal to relate to your audience) and links to your ‘pillar posts’ and your email sign up if you’ve got one
- A Contact Page
- A Resources Page to share links to your favourite resources related to your niche. Your Resources page is the perfect place to add affiliate links while also being super helpful to your audience
- Depending on how you are planning to monetise your Blog, you might also have a ‘Services’, or ‘Work With Me’ Page or Product Sales Page
How to Write Profitable Blog posts
Write Popular Posts: Ok, this one sounds a bit obvious, but many Bloggers just write what they think their readers should want to know about without researching what they actually want to know about. Do some research into the types of posts that do well for other Bloggers in your niche, and see how you can take those post subjects and make them your own. When writing posts remember that ‘How To’ and List posts are always popular.
Add Affiliate Links: When it’s possible, add affiliate links to your posts. Affiliate posts convert best when you can present a product as a solution to a reader’s immediate problem. And they convert even better if it’s a product you’ve personally used.
Add your opt-ins: Encourage your readers to become subscribers by including your opt-in forms in your Blog posts. It’s more effective to add just one opt-in per post so you don’t overwhelm your readers.
Make your Posts easy to share: Include social sharing buttons, ‘click to tweets’ and pin it buttons on your images.
Include a Call to Action: Encourage your readers to interact by asking them to subscribe / buy / download / comment or whatever you want them to do. Make it clear what you want them to do and what’s in it for your readers.
Write Evergreen Content: Write content that will still be relevant and useful in 6 months or a year’s time when you can update it and re-share it or re-purpose it as part of a content upgrade, email newsletter or even a product.
Step 6: Grow your Blog Traffic
Bloggers are obsessed with numbers. It’s all about numbers – numbers of social media followers, numbers of blog post shares, numbers of comments, numbers of page views, numbers of unique visitors, numbers of email subscribers….
But not all Numbers are Created Equally
The ‘Popular = Successful’ Myth
Numbers make you feel good about your efforts. Seeing your comments, page views, subscribers and social media followers grow makes you feel like you’re doing ok at this blogging thing. That you’re doing things the ‘right way’. Because big numbers mean popularity don’t they. And being a popular blogger means you’re successful. Right?
Not necessarily. Unless of course your blogging aims are simply to get loads of people reading and commenting on your blog. I’m betting that’s not the ultimate aim for your blog though. I’m betting you want your blog readers to convert to customers and clients. And to get blog readers that convert to customers and clients you need to be marketing to the right blog readers.
Don’t sacrifice the quality of your page views for the sake of just growing your audience.
Page Views aren’t a solution by themselves
One of the most common questions I see from new bloggers is “How can I get more page views?”
Which is of course a perfectly valid question. No page views = no business!
But page views are useless on their own! Simply asking, “How can I get more page views?” is not going to help you. Instead you need to be ask, “How do I get more page views from people that are my ideal audience.
My Top Blog Growth Strategies
Pinterest: Pinterest is my number one source of traffic for this Blog and with the right tools, you can quite easily automate most of your Pinning, so your followers and traffic grows on autopilot.
To be successful on Pinterest you have to:
- Pin consistently.
- Pin manually every day, even if it’s only 10 or so pins.
- Treat Pinterest as a search engine and optimise your profile, pin descriptions, board titles and board descriptions for keywords related to your Blog niche
- Get Rich Pins
- Find and join group boards in your niche
- Create multiple pin friendly images for your Blog posts
- Make it easy for your audience to share your posts on Pinterest by including social sharing and ‘pin it’ buttons in your posts
This post gives you my 3 Top Tips for Getting more Traffic from Pinterest
SEO: SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is all about making Google (and the other search engines) like you. It’s a long term traffic building strategy because it takes time for Google to start crawling and indexing your Blog and the SEO itself can take time to perfect. However, it’s worth putting in the effort. Search engine traffic is quality traffic because they are already looking for what you’re blogging about.
Important things for SEO are:
- On-page SEO such as keywords in your Blog titles, headings and image alt tags, and using heading tags so Google knows which words are important
- Having a mobile responsive Blog
- Longer, high quality Blog posts
- Quality inbound links from other Blogs and websites
- Site Speed
- Making all pages on your Blog easily accessible
Promo threads in Facebook Groups: If you belong to any sort of Facebook blogging group you’ll have come across a variety of different promo threads.
So how do you get valuable page views from them? The main thing – post in groups that are your target market.
Make sure your blog post headline is attention grabbing – it’s what will encourage people to click when they see the little preview link. Share blog posts that are helpful and/or entertaining. Not ‘here’s my latest products’. Most of the people looking through the thread don’t know who the hell you are – don’t sell to them. Introduce them to your wonderful-ness first!
Guest Posts: Guest posting on someone else’s blog puts you and your content in front of someone else’s audience. And if they have a big audience, that’s a lot of new eyes on you! Most guest post opportunities give you the chance to include a short bio and link to your blog and one or two links to your other content within your guest post. Some blogs will even pay you for guest posting!
You need to look for guest posting opportunities on blogs that attract your ideal audience (either with the subject matter or the type of person). Choose blogs that have a similar brand aesthetic and talk to their audience in a similar way to you. You want their audience to ‘click’ with your content and voice so well they just HAVE to visit your blog!
Approaching Influencers: An Influencer in your niche promoting your blog is obviously going to be a massive traffic boost. Influencers have huge social followings and most importantly, they are trusted to be a highly valuable source of information. In other words, if someone considered to an influencer in your niche shares one of your posts, people will automatically assume it’s worth reading and that you are the bees knees just because they shared it!
Create Awesome Content: Do you know what I like to see on a blog? Yes, that’s right; Content.
It doesn’t matter how many page views you get, if your content is badly written, badly organised, or there’s just not a lot of it because all those people visiting are just going to go ‘eurgh’ and go and find another blog to look at!
Before you even start getting serious about increasing your traffic – make sure your blog is worth visiting! Make sure it is attractive to look at, that it’s obvious what your blog is about, it’s easy to find information, your categories are clearly labelled and your blog posts have a clear purpose, are easy to read and free from spelling, grammar and factual mistakes.
Step 7: Grow your Email List
Growing an email list and regularly emailing your subscribers is a brilliant way of connecting with, and ultimately selling to, the members of your audience that are really into you and your blog.
How to Start your Email List
The first step to starting your email list is to sign up for an email service that can collect, organise and email your list.
Mailerlite is useful for new Bloggers who are on a budget. Your first 1000 subscribers are free and features like automation are included on the the free plan.
Personally, I use ConvertKit and if there’s room in your budget, you should give it a try. ConvertKit makes it very easy to segment and tag your subscribers. This means if you have different topics on your Blog, with different opt-ins, you can tag the subscribers who signed up for a particular opt-in, so they only receive emails about that particular topic. You can also tag your subscribers when they open specific emails, or click on specific links in your emails.
Segmenting your list is vital for sending your subscribers the content they really want to read, and ConvertKit make it easy for you to do it.
How to Get Subscribers
When you’ve got your email service set up, it’s time to get subscribers. To encourage people to join your list…
- Share your email sign up form in a wide variety of places on your blog
- Communicate the benefits of signing up. Tell your audience what extras they’ll get that they won’t get just from reading your blog
- Provide a freebie in exchange for joining your list
- Promote your Freebie away from your Blog, on Pinterest and Social Media
What Should you Email your list?
When you’ve got some people on your list, it’s time to send them some emails. Email them as often as you think is appropriate but be regular about it, so your subscribers get used to hearing from you.
Here are some ideas of what to email your list (obviously keep it relevant to your niche!)
- A summary of your latest blog post
- Personal reasons why you wrote your last post
- Behind the scenes / sneak peeks at what you’re working on
- Share extra special resources your audience will like
- Exclusive content; eg: downloads, printables, checklists or cheat sheets
- ‘Real life’ Failures and successes
- Special tips or discoveries
How to Make Money from your Email List
You may have hear that ‘the money is in the list’. This is because your engaged email subscribers are the ones that are most interested in you and your Blog. They already trust you enough to give you their email address and like you enough to actually read your emails, so they are more receptive to you selling to them.
Make money from your list:
- Share affiliate products in your regular emails that you love and use and know your audience will benefit from too
- Take part in an affiliate marketing campaign with a partner such as Ultimate Bundles, normally to promote the launch or short term sale of a specific product.
- Sell you own products at the end of your welcome sequence
- Offer exclusive discounts, bonuses and flash sales on your products just for your subscribers
However, don’t sell to your list all the time. You subscribers will get fed up if they think all you’re doing is selling to them. Your email list is an opportunity to build on the ‘Know, Like, Trust’ factor with your readers.
Step 8: Start to Monetise your Blog
There are many ways to make money from your Blog, here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Affiliate Marketing: Earn a commission for recommending products or service that your audience need or want
- Sponsored Posts: Get paid for writing about a Product or Company to help build Brand Awareness
- Ad income
- Offer services such as a Virtual Assistant
- Offer Freelance Writing (or other Freelance Services)
- Sell digital, or physical, products
- Become a Coach
- Sell Info-Products
Can you Monetise from Day 1?
You are probably wondering why this step is so far down this list. Technically, it is possible to ‘monetise a Blog’ from Day 1. You can put a product up for sale, or write several affiliate posts, or maybe even put Adsense on your Blog.
But unless you have Traffic, you aren’t going to make any money. If you haven’t taken the time to write a variety of posts on different topics within your niche to discover which ones are most popular, you won’t know if you’re selling what your audience really wants.
You really need to build a foundation for your Blog, before you start putting all your effort into making money. Write a library of quality Blog posts, find a promotion strategy that works to build up those page view and then start with ads and affiliate marketing to get the cash rolling in.
Step 9: Set Strategic Blogging Goals
You actually need Goals from the start of your Blogging journey, but there was no point telling you to set goals until you knew what you need to be aiming for!
You need a detailed set of goals, both long term and short term, and an Action Plan to keep you motivated and drive your Blog forward.
Set yourself yearly, quarterly, and monthly goals to keep them manageable and achievable.
How to Set Blogging Goals
I expect you’ve heard of smart goals.
And while I still think that goals need to be smart to be successful I’ve discovered that for goals to drive real mind blowing success they have to be more than just SMART!
Before we dive into what your goals need to be above and beyond smart; here’s a quick reminder of what SMART stands for. And why SMART goals are still essential.
- ‘S’ is for Specific: So you know exactly what you’re aiming to do, how you’re gonna do it, and when it’s going to be done
- ‘M’ is for Measurable: Your goal needs a number. Numbers let you see exactly if all the work you’re doing is getting the results you want it to.
- ‘A’ is for Attainable: Are you ever going to achieve your goal if you carry on the way you are?
- ‘R’ is for Relevant: Are you working towards a goal that’s going to grow your blog or business in the long term?
- ‘T’ is for Timescale: Because you need a deadline!
But the trouble with smart goals is they’re all about the practicalities. They’re the sort of goals that your boss at your 9-5 gives you. You know exactly what needs to be done, how and when and because your boss is there to keep you ‘motivated’, it doesn’t matter that you’re as enthusiastic about it as you are about visiting the Dentist.
But when you’re working for yourself you need to be the boss. Your goals have to be meaningful enough that you continue to work towards them even when everything is going horribly wrong!
You don’t need SMART Business goals. You need SMARTER goals!
Smarter goals have two extras included that take your practical, dull-day-job type goals to leap-out-of-bed-in-the-morning goals!
‘E’ is for Energising: Your goals have to get you excited! A goal that doesn’t excite you isn’t going to motivate you. When you’re setting your goals the best ones make you feel all tingly with excitement that you’re bold enough to believe you can actually do that!
As your own boss you need to believe in your goals. You started your Blog for a reason. You chose your particular business model for a reason. Goals that align with those reasons, with your ‘why’, will get you excited to get started. And excited to keep moving forward and trying new things when the first thing you tried didn’t work so well.
‘R’ is for Rewarding:
Rewarding goals are goals that are worth working towards. They are goals that you are proud to tell everybody about. They are goals that are more than sales figures and client numbers and blog traffic.
They are goals that mean you can live a life you only ever dreamed of, a life you’re barely even brave enough to admit out loud that you want.
When you’ve set your Goals, keep them prominent, and re visit your long term Goals regularly to keep them at the forefront of your Blog decision-making.
Make a Plan of Action
Goals are no good without an Action Plan to implement. which is why I created this Skillshare class to take you step by step from Ambitious Goals to Effective Action Plan.
- The 6 Elements of an Effective Action Plan
- How to break down your goals into Actionable Steps
- How to fill in your Knowledge Gaps to make your Action Plan fully Functionable
- How to Effectively Schedule your Action Plan to Get Stuff Done
- How to use your Action Plan to make your Business more Efficient & Effective
If you need some help with Action Planning, Enroll Now using my Teacher referral link, and you get 2 months Premium Skillshare Membership totally Free!
10: Keep Going
Blogging is a profitable, fulfilling and fun way to make money online. It is also frustrating, confusing, overwhelming and even a little bit boring sometimes!
But there is one thing that successful Bloggers have that the unsuccessful ones don’t. And it’s not their Blogging platform, or their Theme, or an app, or a course they’ve taken.
It’s Persistence. It’s Persistence that helps them write Blog posts when they’re ‘not in the mood’, that keeps them plugging away promoting their Posts every day even when it feels like no one is taking any notice, and that allows them to take a step back and re-evaluate and try something new if what they’re currently doing isn’t working.
Your Traffic will go up and down, some Posts will be wildly popular and some will tank. And you might make your first $10 in Month 1, or you might not make it until Month 6.
The difference between a Hobby Blogger and a Professional Blogger, is the Professional Bloggers keep analysing, keep evaluating, keep adjusting, and keep going.
Time to Take Action! Now you’re ready to go on this amazing Blogging Experience, it’s time to just dive in. You can read so much information, watch so many webinars, take classes, complete challenges…. it all helps. But the best way to learn is always by Trial and Error!