How To Start A Blog For Money
A few years ago my wife Carolyn and I moved to the French Alps from the UK so we could enjoy the mountain lifestyle. After working in various jobs in the amazing ski resort of Morzine, I decided to start an online business. My original and main choice of earning money online was to start a blog.
It isn’t obvious how this is a viable source of income. So in this post, I am going to tell you how to start a blog for money. I will break it down into simple steps to explain how you can do this too. In addition to this, I will give you the insight into what it was like to manage your own blog with the goal to use it as a business.
Step 1 - Choose A Niche
All bloggers need to choose a niche so they can appeal to an audience. If you write generic blogs, you are not going to appeal to very many people. You may have an idea of what niche you want to work in, but it takes more consideration than you may think.
I go in to more details in my post on how to choose a niche. You will notice that my guide on choosing affiliate marketing niches. It is the same principle, and you will see why later on in this post.
Examples of niches for blogs include:
- Particular sports
- A hobby
- Food and drink
However, you should choose a narrow niche to focus your blogs to a group of people with a common interest. For instance, if you wanted to be a travel blogger, you need to consider that there are different types of travel. If you build a blog that covers all aspects of travel, you will struggle to get your content in front of people. Blogs in broad niches have too much competition. Therefore, your broad travel niche will be competing against every travel blog and website on the internet. You need to narrow your focus down to a particular type of travel. Examples of narrowing your focused travel niche could be:
- Environmentally-friendly travel
- Travelling between all the best surf spots in Europe
- Cruising the canals of France
- Crossing the USA by motorbike
- Luxury accommodation in trendy cities
- Following the best snow conditions for skiing and snowboarding across Europe
As you can see, these examples focus on particular types of traveller. You need to research your niche, as not all niches are profitable, as there are a few things that it needs to:
- Have a big enough following to attract enough traffic
- Have low competition
- Be relevant and not go out of fashion
- Be a big enough subject to write lots of content on
- Have some quality keywords (I’ll come to this later)
Step 2- Think Of A Good Domain Name
After you have chosen your niche, you need to think of a good domain name for it. This is the URL of your website (the domain name for this website is www.adventurousaffiliate.com) and also needs some careful consideration.
Your domain name is important, as it gives your potential audience their first impression of you. Therefore, it needs to meet certain criteria, such as:
- It should be easy to say and type
- Not be too long
- Not contain numbers
- Not be in use
- It should be a .com
- Relevant to your brand
- It should not restrict you in the future
Once you have chosen a good domain name, you need to get it registered. There are lots of domain name registrars, but you may want to register it with your website host. You can learn more about domain names, in my post, how to choose a domain name for your business.
Step 3 - Find A Good Website Host
To get your blog online, you need to choose a website host. A website host is a server that your blog will sit on, allowing it to go online. There are many different website hosts, but not all are equal.
You may be tempted to go for the cheapest one you can find. Cheap website hosts are not always the best option, as they can be slow and unreliable. I recommend that you check out my guide on how to choose the best host for a blog.
Step 4 - Build Your Blog
A characteristic of a good website host is how easy it is to build your website from scratch. I recommend that you choose one that allows you to build your website with just one click, as it makes life so much easier. Some hosts give you a website with WordPress already installed.
You can learn all about WordPress in my post, what is the best platform for a blog?, but essentially, WordPress is the back end of your blog from where you manage it.
At this stage, you can play around with how your blog looks, by choosing a WordPress theme. There are thousands of themes to choose from, and many of them are free. Some will have paid premium versions, but don’t worry about that just yet. Themes are customisable in terms of creating the layout and aesthetics of your blog.
You can get bogged down with spending loads of time choosing and customising your theme, but you will probably need to adjust it later on as you start filling it with blogs, so I recommend keeping it simple.
At this point, it is worth mentioning that you need to choose a theme that is “responsive”. A responsive theme will make your blog posts load quickly and work well with mobile devices. It is very important to do this, as mobile users will lose patience and not bother with your blog.
The next thing you need to do is look at some plugins. These are what give your blog the functions and features you want it to have. Like themes, many of these are free, with paid options.
Don’t go silly with loads of plugins though, as too many will slow your website down and negatively affect its search engine rankings.
Step 5 - Brand Your Blog
As part of determining how your blog looks, you need to think about its branding. You should look at the colours you want to use and create a logo.
When it comes to logos, if you are not particularly arty, you can pay someone to design one for you. I recommend checking out freelance graphic designers on Fiverr for great value for money.
However, it is possible to create a logo yourself with ease and for free using Canva. I find Canva invaluable, as it makes creating graphics extremely easy, and it is something I use every day for all of my online business efforts.
I am not very good at matching colours, therefore I use the Adobe colour wheel. This is another free online resource that helps you find colours that match, contrast or complement the colours you may want for your brand.
Step 6 - Create Quality Content
There is a good chance you will have spent too much time on your branding and choosing colours (I know I have been guilty of this), but now it is time to get blogging!
But, before you do this, you need to consider what you are going to write about. Typical blogs consist of the following things:
- Personal experiences
- Reviews of products and services
- Comparisons of products and services
However, if you just start writing blogs, without a good social media presence, you are just hoping that people will want to read your blogs. Therefore, you need to create content that people are already searching for online.
Content is king when it comes to blogging, but good content starts with keyword research. Keywords are what people search for when they want some information. So, basing your blogs around keywords, will bring people to your blog organically.
Keyword research may sound a bit boring. But honestly, it isn’t that bad and spending an hour doing it, can give you a list of content to write that will last you months. Check out my guide to keyword research to see all the methods and best practices for building a great keyword list.
The more helpful you are, the more people you will attract to your blog. This is because you are answering people’s questions. You will eventually become an authority in your niche, which builds up trust with your audience. The more people that read your blogs, the more money you will make.
Step 7 - Create Social Media Accounts
To increase your reach, it is a good idea to set up some social media accounts. There are people out there that say you should be on every social media channel, but I think it is up to you what you do. This is because you may not feel comfortable, or it may not be appropriate for your brand if you are dancing on TikTok.
You may want experiment with social media channels you are not familiar with, and if you can make them work, you stand a good chance of reaching more people that you can direct them to your blog.
Step 8 - Monetise Your Blog
When you start to get some traffic to your blog and are in the early stages of building a following, you can monetise your blog. There are several ways you can make money from your blog, such as:
- Selling advertising space
- Google Adsense
- Selling physical products
- Selling digital products (ebooks, music, photos, guides, etc.)
- Sponsored blogs
However, the most effective way of monetising a blog is with affiliate marketing. This is when you promote other people’s products and services on your blog. You do this by joining affiliate programs and dropping affiliate links into your blogs. These links seamlessly take your readers to where they can buy products and services online. But, they also track sales and reward you with a percentage of the sales price.
As an example, let’s look at the travel niche again, as there are loads of ways to use affiliate marketing to earn money in this niche.
- Have you stayed in a great Airbnb? – Join the affiliate program and write about your experience
- Do you take great photos that people love? – Write about your camera equipment and place affiliate links into your blog to direct them to where they can buy the same stuff
- Are you backpacking across Europe? – Write about the experiences and where you have stayed, and drop affiliate links to TripAdvisor to each of them
- Are you living in a camper van while driving across Canada? – Create content on van life and recommend products that make your life easier
Anyway, you get the idea. If you can think of something you can buy online, there is a good chance that there is an affiliate program for it.
I go into more detail about all this in my post, how can I make money from affiliate marketing? where you can learn about the whole process and how it all works.
Step 9- Build A Mailing List
Building a mailing list is something you should do as soon as possible. The idea is to collect loads of email addresses so you can update your readers. Sending your readers links to your blogs in an email is a great way to build loyalty. The good thing about mailing lists is that people willingly sign up to them when they start to trust you.
Therefore, sending your blogs that recommend products and services to people that trust you will put you in good stead for earning money from them.
The way to get people to sign up to your mailing list is to offer them something for free. This can be in the form of an ebook or a guide that they will find useful. It is quite easy to do this using a service such as Mailchimp.
You need to send the people on your list regular updates, but don’t bombard them with daily emails. If you do this, there will soon unsubscribe, as they will feel like you are spamming them.
What Is It Like To Run A Blog?
Be Prepared To Not Make Any Money Straight Away
Blogging is a viable online business. However, many people think that they will start making money straight away. Unfortunately, this is not how it works for several reasons:
- Google’s algorithm – A new website goes into Google’s sandbox, where it will stay for at least four months. The sandbox makes it difficult for a website’s content to rank highly in search results. The way you get out of the sandbox is to create lots of quality and helpful content to prove that your blog is a good source of information.
- Creating great content takes time – It takes time to write a good blog, but you will get faster the more you do it. There are a few tricks you will pick up along the way to make sure you are productive.
- The learning curve – Building a blog isn’t particularly complicated but there are things that you will need to learn, including content creation techniques, search engine optimisation, how WordPress works, analytics and monetisation.
- Mistakes – You will make mistakes, but this is all part of the learning curve. Many of these mistakes won’t be obvious and may take months to find. But, you just need to take them on board and make sure you don’t make them again.
- Things out of your control – These are unfortunate, but you can’t let them get to you. You may experience technical problems, something that affects the economy or affiliate programs that changed their terms
You Need To Be Consistent
Ideally, you should aim to post every day. Posting daily demonstrates to both your readers and search engines that your blog is alive and kicking. Your reads will like to see updates and search engines will see your blog as a good source of information.
You may not be able to post every day, but there are plenty of other things you can be doing to manage your blog, such as keyword research, posting on social media, updating content etc.
Prepare Yourself For The Haters
The internet is a funny place, as it is full of weirdos and people that have nothing useful to do with their time. You will get nasty comments, and small mistakes you make will be picked up by grammar nazis. Ignore the negativity you get online and move on.
Learn From Your Mistakes
I mentioned this earlier, but it is essential that you don’t make the same mistakes twice. The first time you make a mistake is a learning opportunity, the second time you make the same mistake is a waste of time.
Expect To Get Excited By Small Victories
I remember the first time I saw that someone was reading my content in real time in Google analytics. I was blown away that somebody in Peru was reading my review on waterproof socks! When somebody first bought a pair of waterproof socks, I nearly exploded when I woke up to having made a sale while I was asleep. Obviously, it wasn’t a great big amount of money, but I could see that I was doing something right in something I had never done before.
When you start to make regular cash, it is a fantastic feeling and it spurs you on to work harder. It is very easy to get obsessed with your stats, but this is a habit you should try to avoid. It isn’t very productive, so you should just check them once or twice per week.
You Will Find Other Ways Of Making Money
The great thing about starting a blog, is that you can choose your working hours. This means that you can do it at any time, which give you the opportunity to find other income streams. You may choose to start an additional blog or try something completely different, such as freelancing or drop shipping.
By having different income streams, you are giving yourself financial security, as you can divert your efforts where they are needed most.
Expect To Enjoy Life More
You will be blogging about things that you enjoy, therefore you should be enjoying your work. The other thing is, the fact that you can choose your working hours means that you are not working on somebody else’s timetable. As you can see from the video above, I am loving life!
However, this doesn’t mean you can slack off. After a good day on the mountain, I am often working late at night to make sure that my week is as productive as it can be.
Get Some Training
Earlier I mentioned that it takes time to earn money from a blog. But you can shorten the path to success with some good training. A good training course will give you a clear path to follow and reduce the number of mistakes you make.
There are a few ways you can learn about building a blog using affiliate marketing to monetise it. I explain the options in this post, but I recommend that you check out Wealthy Affiliate, as it will take you from knowing nothing to having a fully functional blog that can earn you money. Check out my warts n’ all review of Wealthy Affiliate to see what I like and don’t like about it.
That Is How To Start A Blog For Money
Now you have a lot of information on how to start a blog for money. I strongly recommend that you get some training, but if you have any questions or thoughts on this, please leave them in the comments section below.