How to Start a Blog in 5 Easy Steps; Beginner’s Guide 2021

Picture of a computer with blog title

If you start a blog, don’t expect to make money.

They’re a waste of time, they’re obsolete, and it takes years to build a following.

Sound familiar?

You’ve probably heard this said a thousand times – maybe you’ve even said it once or twice. I definitely heard it over and over, especially after I decided to start my own blog.

But if you’ve been put off by comments like that, or you’re scared that blogging is just too complicated, it’s time to change your mindset.

Not only is blogging still relevant and one of the best ways to make passive income – it’s also so easy that you can get up and running in just 5 steps.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. My reputation is of the utmost importance to me, which is why I only provide completely honest, unbiased recommendations.

Why You Should Start a Blog

There are plenty of reasons to start a blog.

You might want the freedom to work from home and spend more time with your kids. Or the security to work from home if there’s an emergency (like a pandemic…)

Maybe you just want that extra income – to pay for medical bills, or support yourself through school. (Blogging is one of the best online jobs for college students!)

Or you might be preparing for your retirement fund, so you don’t have to worry about the future.

Blogs are one the best, most consistent ways to make money online, and they’re flexible enough to fit around any lifestyle, no matter how busy.

Despite what you’ve heard, it’s also really easy to start a blog and make money.

I’ve put together a guide with just 5 simple steps, that will give you all the tools you need to start a successful blog.

(You can also download my 7 Day Checklist here to follow along with this guide and have your blog live and ready within a week!)

How to Start a Blog

Here are the 5 steps I used to start a profitable blog. This post (and my guide) will give you, what I think, is the quickest and easiest way to make money blogging.

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1. Set up hosting with Bluehost

The first thing you need when you start a blog is hosting.

If you don’t know what hosting is, it just means a service that lets you be accessible online. It’s how you get your URL. And, you need hosting to get a website working.

What is website hosting?

On my Blogging for Beginners page I describe hosting as “the foundation on which your website, or blog, lives.” If the foundation is weak, so will be your website.

Now, although there are options for free hosting (like BlogSpot or Wix) it’s not a good idea if you’re serious about blogging as a business. Not only does it look unprofessional and seriously limit your design options. But, it also makes it near impossible to monetize your blog down the line.

(If you wanted to join affiliate networks, for example, you’d struggle to be accepted without a self-hosted blog.)

This doesn’t mean that you can’t start a blog on budget; there are some great deals on hosting platforms that help you save on other expenses.

Why Bluehost

Bluehost is by far the most popular for new bloggers, and for good reason. You can get hosting for as little as $3.95 a month, and that includes a free domain name (your URL name) and a one-click WordPress install.

Bluehost also has a great reputation for customer support, which is 24/7, and they’re really easy to use. They also give you the option to start a second site or expand your blog as you grow.

The Money Shark is actually hosted through Bluehost (in case you hadn’t guessed!) and the experience has been smooth and easy.

Before I walk you through how to get set up, though, you’ll need to decide on a niche.

What is a niche?

A niche just means the specific topics and content your blog focuses on.

Some examples of niches are:

  • Fitness
  • Food
  • Finance
  • Home Decor
  • Parenting

A blogger in the parenting niche, for example, might write articles about non-toxic products for babies or healthy candy recipes. A blogger in the fitness niche could write about marathons and triathlons.

Choosing a niche is the most important factor as to whether or not your blog will be successful. If your blog doesn’t have a clear niche, you can’t choose a target audience, and without that, you won’t be able to attract traffic in any meaningful way.

You don’t just have to stick to a broad niche either, you can be as specific as you like. There are lots of niches within niches – and the more specific, the easier it will be to build an audience.

Niche example

So, for instance, a fashion blogger might niche down into footwear, and then again to just heels. This makes it a lot easier for you to promote yourself on social media, or to find Pinterest and Facebook groups that like your content.

What makes a good niche?

You should choose something that you’re interested in and you enjoy writing about, but if you want to start a blog that makes money, you also need to consider which niches are profitable.

You might LOVE writing about rock formations, but it’s unlikely to make you money.

The key to choosing a good niche is to find something that is specific enough so that you can put your own spin on it, but general enough that you can attract a big audience.

Some of the most profitable blogging niches are:

  • Travel
  • Food
  • Fitness
  • Health
  • Beauty
  • Fashion
  • Lifestyle
  • Parenting
  • Pets

Make a list of your interests and things that you’re knowledgeable about. See how many of these cross over into blogs that could make money (so niches with affiliate link potential, or that you could sell a course on)

Identify your target audience

Once you know what you’re writing about, it’s time to work out who you’re writing for.

The key to a successful blog, and especially to successful content, is to create everything with a specific reader in mind.

You want to make sure that your blog makes your audience feel seen, understood and that it solves their problems so they keep coming back.

Some questions you might want to ask yourself when defining your target audience are:

  • Are they male or female?
  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they do for work?
  • What’s their income?
  • Are they married?
  • Do they have kids?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What are their biggest problems?
  • Where are the most active online?

So, let’s imagine that your niche is food – specifically, vegan recipes. might decide that your target audience fits the following profile:

  • Female
  • Mid 20’s
  • Lives in a city
  • Works at a smoothie bar
  • Has an income of $23,000 p/a
  • Single
  • No kids
  • Enjoys exercise and arts and crafts
  • The biggest problem is cooking vegan meals on a budget
  • They’re most active on Pinterest and Instagram

With this profile, you can see that your target audience is likely to be tired after work and looking for ways to save money. So, you should start a blog about vegan recipes that are cheap and quick to make, and promote them on Instagram or Pinterest with high quality images.

Tip

The more detail you can create when picturing a reader, the better you’ll be able to fix their problems.

Once you’ve figured out your niche and what you’ll write about, you’re ready to set up your blog and choose hosting.

Go to Bluehost.com to get started

Bluehost helps you start a blog and make money
Bluehost helps you start a blog and make money

Click on ‘hosting’ and choose your plan. The longer your plan is, the cheaper it works out (signing up for 36 months is a lot less than signing up for 12)

Choose your hosting plan

For all intents and purposes, the basic rate should be fine for a new blog. The main difference is that with choice or plus you can add more domains and host more traffic.

Bluehost offers different plans to start a blog to make money
Bluehost offers different plans to start a blog to make money

You can always upgrade in the future, though, don’t spend too much time worrying about this step.

Choose your domain

The next screen you’ll come to will ask you to choose a domain name.

Choosing the right domain can help you start a successful blog

Ideally, you want this to be the same as your blog name. This will make it a lot easier for people to find you. I’d also recommend choosing ‘.com’ for your URL because people trust websites with ‘.com’ more than other domains.

Bluehost will tell you if your name has been taken, so you might have to play around until you find one that’s available. I wanted my blog to be called The Money Shark, and luckily for me, themoneyshark.com was still free!

Picking a good name

You should also aim to choose something that is related to your blog, your content or your niche. Again, it makes it easier for people to find you and remember you. If in doubt, another option is to just use your name.

A lot of people get stuck here because they obsess about the ‘perfect’ name and waste a lot of time. Don’t worry too much about it – as nice as it is to have something really catchy and cool, your audience really only cares about content.

Once you have your name sorted, you just need to fill in your details, and you’ll be good to go!

Enter your details so you can start a successful blog
Enter your details so you can start a successful blog

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2. Install WordPress

Now that you’re online with a domain name, you need to actually get your site up and running.

The best platform to create a blog is WordPress, which Bluehost actually includes and makes really easy to set up. WordPress is so popular that 20% of the worlds self-hosted websites use it.

WordPress is the most popular platform for creating a website because it’s really well designed and easy to use, and also comes with built-in plugins or the option to add your own.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Now, you might have heard that there’s two different types of WordPress; WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

The key difference is that wordpress.org requires you to use separate hosting (like Bluehost) and wordpress.com is hosted through WordPress.

While WordPress.com is free, you get a lot less freedom than you do with wordpress.org. (For instance, you have to use a subdomain, which is less professional and harder to monetize). You also usually end up paying more if you go through wordpress.com then if you use a hosting site like Bluehost with WordPress.org.

Pros of WordPress.com
  • You can get a free plan
  • You don’t have to worry about backing up your site
Cons of WordPress.com
  • You’re limited in how well you can monetize your site
  • You limited in terms of themes, plugins and data space
  • You have to use a subdomain that includes the words ‘WordPress’
Pros of WordPress.org
  • You have lots of options for installing plugins, themes and extensions
  • There’s a huge range of themes to choose from or customize
  • You get a free and professional domain with most hosting servers
  • There are plenty of monetization options
  • It usually works out a lot cheaper than WordPress.com
Cons of WordPress.org
  • You’ll have to learn more about running a site because less is done for you

My opinion

Do yourself a favor and go with WordPress.org. It’s definitely the best option if you’re planning to make money or scale your website for a lot of visitors. The best way to install WordPress.org is through a hosting site like Bluehost. 

It’s quick and easy. 

How to install WordPress.org

Bluehost is the best for this because it actually installs wordpress.org for you with just one click (another reason it’s so popular with website owners!)

All you need to do is log in with the password you just created.

You’ll come to a screen that asks you whether you would like to choose a theme. There’s also an option to ‘skip this step

Tip

You can choose a theme here, but I’d advise you to skip this and choose a theme later.

This is just because you’ll want a chance to browse all the themes WordPress has to offer, so you can choose one that fits your niche and blog aesthetic.

Once you skip forward, WordPress is automatically installed, and you can explore your ‘dashboard’ and customize a theme!

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3. Choose your theme

After WordPress is connected, you get to choose a theme to make your blog look good.

This is a really fun part of setting up a blog – you get to browse through all the options and find something that really shows your personality.

Go to your ‘dashboard’, ‘appearance’, and ‘select themes’

If you go to your dashboard and click on appearance you’ll see the option to select themes.

WordPress Dashboard
WordPress Dashboard
WordPress Add Themes
Add Themes on WordPress

To browse WordPress themes, click on ‘add new’ and you’ll be able to choose from a huge variety of free ones that you can easily upload and customize.

WordPress also allows you to choose themes that include blogging templates, which will save you huge amounts of time on formatting later on!

WordPress themes are great for getting started, but they don’t have many options for customization. If you really want freedom with design, you should download a theme from a third party.

Sites like Elementor, Themeisle and Elegant Themes let you install themes and theme builders (drag and drop tools to build websites)

Some of the sites have a free version and then a paid version. Obviously, paid versions have much better customization features, like carousel posts and pricing tables, but free versions are fine when you’re starting out, and you can always upgrade.

Theme recommendation

I would recommend using the Astra theme on WordPress and then connect it to Elementor Pro. It’s easy, doesn’t require any coding, and gives you tons of design options to make your blog user-friendly and professional looking.

Elementor is what I used to create www.themoneyshark.com.

Installing a theme to WordPress is easy. Just download the theme to your computer and compress it to a zip file. To add themes in your WordPress dashboard, select ‘themes – upload – upload themes’ and then upload the zip file and select ‘install now’.

Create pages

The next step in starting your blog is to create the main pages for your site. (This is known as a ‘sitemap’ and helps Google index and understand your site)

If your theme includes templates, you can download them here and customize them.

Otherwise, you can go to ‘pages’ on your dashboard, and select ‘add new’:

Add Pages on WordPress
Add Pages on WordPress

The pages you’ll definitely need for your new blog are:

  • Home
  • About
  • Blog / Blog Categories
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms and Conditions

When you customize your blog in ‘settings/reading’, you’ll have the option to have all your posts appear on your homepage, or on a separate page.

WordPress Settings
WordPress Settings

I would recommend having a static homepage that only shows popular posts, and building several different ‘category pages’ for each section of your blog. So for example, a travel blog might have sections like destinations, food, hotels and flights, and different pages for each.

All your pages should include
  • A navigation menu
  • A footer with links to your terms and conditions and privacy policy
  • Social Icons so your audience can follow/ connect with you
Your homepage should include
  • Your blog title
  • A little about what you’re blog does
  • A brief introduction to you and your brand
  • Some recent posts
Your about page should include
  • Who you are
  • Why you started your blog / your journey
  • Why people should listen to you
  • Your mission with this blog (your why)

Spend some time looking at other blogs in your niche to get inspiration on what you’d like your blog to look like. You want to show your personality with these pages, and show your audience what makes you different.

Add terms and conditions / privacy policy

Every website needs these pages to comply with internet laws like GDPR. You can put these in the footer of your site, so they don’t clog up your header menu, but you do need to have them somewhere easily accessible on your blog.

Once your blog starts to get some traffic, it’s best to contact a lawyer or a legal blogger and get some personalized documents drawn up.

How to find terms and conditions / privacy policy examples

Until then, there are sites like Ibuenda that offer templates for various documents, that are versed in all the different internet laws around the world.

(DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice! You should always contact a professional legal counsel for advice regarding the law.)

Once you know which pages you want and you’ve either created them from scratch or downloaded the templates from your theme, you can customize them by adding a header menu, different fonts and different colors.

Tip

You should also create a document listing them all with their URLs – you can add this into Google Console later to help optimize your blogs SEO.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the design at this point (the whole reason we chose a theme was to save time!) It’s more important to get your blog published and add content then it is to have the perfect aesthetic.

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4. Optimize your blog for performance

Now that you’ve got your hosting, your WordPress dashboard and your theme, you need to optimize your site for performance and success.

WordPress plugins

One of the best features of WordPress is the ease with which you can add plugins.

A plugin is a downloadable tool that you can install to your site that adds extra features. Features include things like loading speed, SEO tools, security, contact forms, email list opt-ins, and many more.

Plugins are an extremely useful way to make your site more user friendly or to add all the necessary tools for monetization.

However, the more plugins you have, the more likely they are to slow down your site. That’s why you should make sure the only plugins that you use are necessary and useful.

How to add a WordPress plugin

There are two ways to add plugins. To add a plugin manually you should go to WordPress.org, download the plugin to your device and compress it into a zip file, and then go to ‘plugins’ on your dashboard, click ‘add new’, and ‘upload’.

Otherwise, to add a WordPress plugin directly from WordPress, simply click on ‘plugins’, ‘add new’, and search in the search bar. When you find the plugin you want simply click ‘Install Now’ and ‘Activate’.

Add new WordPress plugins
Add new WordPress plugins
Install new WordPress plugin
Install new WordPress plugin

My favorite WordPress plugins

I’ve made a list of some of the most useful plugins you should start with:

Yoast SEO is a plugin that helps you make sure your site and content are SEO optimized. It’s free, and although it can’t bring you traffic, it can make sure that you get ranked higher on Google so that you’re more likely to bring in traffic.

Monster Insights is a plugin that helps you monitor and analyze your blog’s traffic. You can easily link it to Google Analytics, and it will tell you things like where your visitors come from, how they found your blog, and how long they spend on each page.

OptinMonster helps with lead generation. This means that it can help you build an email list and create opt-ins for your visitors, or create sales campaigns for ebooks or courses. It’s one of the best plugins you can use to grow your blog and get a dedicated audience.

It isn’t free to use, but they do have a 14-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out and if you hate it, you get refunded, no questions asked.

This plugin is a little more technical, but to simplify things, it just makes your site run faster. This is essential because the main reason that visitors leave sites is lag times and slow loads. It’s also free to download and extremely easy to get up and running.

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but this plugin allows you to add a table of contents to your pages or posts.

This is really helpful if you start to have a lot of different sections in each category or long-form posts that are over 2000 words. It also looks great in a static sidebar, and anything that makes your blog more user friendly is a plus.

Disqus allows you to replace WordPress’ automatic comment design with your own. This makes it easier for you to interact with visitor comments, or add features like voting and videos.

Disqus also provides an analytics dashboard so you can see how good your overall interaction is with visitors, and analyze which posts get the most engagement.

Akismet is automatically suggested to you by WordPress, and you won’t realize why you need it until you get rid of it.

Most blogs actually get an overwhelming number of spam comments every day, but with Akismet, you’d never know. Not only is this less irritating for you, but it also makes your real visitors have a much better visual experience.

This plugin is designed to display posts and pages related to the current one. This will help keep your audience on your blog longer, which is great for rankings and saves you from having to create these displays manually.

This lets you customize and create multiple contact forms for your site. The default contact form you get with WordPress themes can be a bit of an eyesore, and is usually minimal with its content, so having a plugin that gives you more options is really cool.

Add Google Analytics and Google Console

Once you’ve set up your plugins and customized them a little, it’s a good idea to think about adding Google Analytics to your site.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is how you’ll know if:

  • Anyone is even reading your blog
  • How people are finding your blog
  • Which posts people read
  • How long people spend on each page
  • The average demographic of your readers

Google Analytics won’t just make it easy for you to optimize your blog and put your energy into the things that actually get you results – it will also make your digital marketing and self-promotion easier.

The more you can narrow down your demographic, the better placed you’ll be to promote your blog in the right ways and the right places.

Add Google Analytics
Add Google Analytics for better insight to your blog
What is Google Console?

Google Console is another tool that you link to your site via Google. Instead of helping you analyze your audience, though, Google Console helps you to plan your SEO and get your content ranked better in Google Search.

You get tons of features with Google Console, including performance analysis, URL inspection, coverage and sitemaps. They help you with a range of blog stats, like whether your URLs are displayed with warning signs, what kind of keywords are performing for your blog, or what the mobile and tablet usability are vs desktop.

Google Console is very extensive and you’d need a separate guide to go through all the features, but once you’ve installed it you can play around with the different tools and find out which are most relevant to your blog.

(Although I’ve suggested a plugin that helps with SEO, Google Console is still essential – not just because it has such a variety of features, but because being designed by Google means it understands Google’s specific SEO algorithm).

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5. Create your content

Now that you’ve got all the technical work done, it’s time for the best part – creating your content! (a.k.a. providing value for your readers!)

Of course, you want your blog to be entertaining, but the best way to start a successful blog is to have something that gives people value.

People usually read blog posts to learn something – whether that’s how to fix a problem, what to eat or where to travel. So, your content needs to add value to the reader’s lives.

How to provide the most value

Your target audience’s problems are known as ‘pain points’ and if you can figure these out, you can make great money with a blog.

Finding those pain points will also give you ideas for your content plan, and it’s not too hard to find them.

Some of the best ways you can do this are by:

  • Browsing through similar blogs

Spend some time looking at blogs that are similar to yours. See which posts are popular, whether people are leaving comments, and decide how you can write it better.

  • Social media

Social media, especially the comment sections of posts related to your niche, can give you great insight into what your audience is struggling with. You can also use trending hashtags on Twitter or Pinterest to find popular searches.

  • Forums

Forums like Reddit or Quora are gold mines for finding pain points. They’re literally platforms where people ask for help with their problems, and you can filter by niche, so your target audience is basically telling you exactly what to write with zero effort on your part.

  • Trend tools

Google Trends or BuzzSumo are tools that tell you which words and search terms are currently trending. You can also type in a trend or question, and you’ll get suggestions for similar topics you can write about.

Your first 10 posts

Spend some time planning out 10 good posts to launch your blog with. You want these posts to be highly valuable, and you want them to STAY valuable. (This is called ‘evergreen’ content, which means that your posts give value and stay relevant for the foreseeable future – not just for the next week)

Your first few posts are usually known as pillar content.

What is pillar content?

Pillar content is the most important content on your site. For blogs this usually includes blog posts that speak directly to the niche you’re writing about and have the most impact for the the target audience you’re writing for.

Pillar content also typically brings you the most traffic. It’s a good idea to write your pillar content in long-form posts to cover all areas of the topic. (Long-form blogs are usually more than 2500 words).

Tip

Include a free download with your pillar content. This helps provide even more real value for your readers.

A great example of this is my Blog Smarter, Not Harder 7 day blog launch guide. 

Structuring your content

Having a plan of which sections and categories you’d like to include, and coming up with at least one post for each section will put you on the right path for success. If you want to treat your blog like a business, you should also be thinking about which posts you can monetize and plan content accordingly.

Some key factors in how successful your blog will be are:

  • Keyword research

You need to understand keywords to get ranked on Google. Do some research using tools like Google Trends, Buzz Sumo or Ahrefs, and subtly weave those words throughout your posts.

A word of warning though – ONLY use those keywords if you can fit them naturally into the post. Google recognizes keywords that have been thrown in simply for SEO (this is known as ‘keyword stuffing’) and will lower your ranking if it sees you doing this!

  • Answer a question or a pain point

Make sure that you address a problem for your audience and solve it by the end of your post. Your audience wants to learn something useful from your content – so make sure that’s what you give them.

  • Always write to your audience

Picture your ideal reader in mind when you write your content, and try to write like you’re talking to a friend. If you’re using overly complicated words and formal jargon, people will switch off.

Make sure that you write every single piece of content for your demographic, even your copy.

  • List posts

List posts are absolute favorites for Google rankings. This is partly because Google finds it easiest to organize, but also because they usually get high traffic and click rates.

Google also prefers posts that use an odd-numbered list, and that include superlatives (like best, most, least, biggest) and a keyword. If you’re making an ‘ultimate guide’ style list, it’s also a good idea to add the year in your title. (For example, ‘The 21 best ways to wear yellow in 2021)

Including the year helps Google know that your content is extremely relevant NOW, which again boosts your chances of getting pushed up in search engines.

  • A good introduction and conclusion

Having a killer introduction is essential to hook readers. The average person’s attention span is now around 8 seconds, so your first line has to be amazing.

Statistics are a great way to do this, or with a quote. People also love stories, so telling a gripping little anecdote in the first paragraph is often enough to keep your readers with you long enough to commit to the post.

A good conclusion should include a question and call to action. So, for instance ‘Do you have an unusual tip for getting your kids to eat their greens? Let me know in the comments!’

This keeps your audience connected and encourages them to actively engage with your content.

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Hire Writers to Write Your Content

Unless you’re dead set on writing your own content, you might want to look into hiring writers.

Not just because actually creating content is a huge time drain, but because writers (good ones!) should know how to write content that’s engaging, readable and that’s SEO optimized.

As great as SEO tools are, Google is constantly updating its algorithm, and knowing how to weave the right keywords into content without making it sound awkward is a learned skill.

You’ll also want to scale your blog fast, and ideally, have at least one or two posts being published each week. Trying to balance this yourself while also dealing with all the business aspects of a blog can get overwhelming.

How to hire a ghostwriter

There are a few ways that you can find professional writers, even on a budget.

If you use freelancing platforms like Upwork or Freelancer, you’ll find a lot of low priced writers to choose from. If you’re on a budget, this is probably the best option for you.

However, it goes without saying that you get what you pay for. A lot of writers who accept really low pay and offer fast turnarounds, do so because they’re using plagiarism or un-researched content.

Ghostwriter recommendation

My recommendation is to find a handful of ghostwriters for $.04 – $.06 per word.
 
This is a good range to start. From my experience you’re likely to find a few diamonds in the rough at this price. But, you’ll also be able to filter through a few duds without breaking the bank. Win, win!
 

If you want quality writers at a higher level, you can post adverts on job boards or look for writers using LinkedIn. You will have to pay more for these writers, but they’ll have studied writing and have experience in your niche, in SEO, and in marketing.

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Scaling Your Blog

As nice as it is to make your mark on the world, you’re probably a lot more interested in making money from blogging. And to make money blogging, you must scale.

You’ve already optimized your blog for monetization, but I have a couple more tips that will grow your blog rapidly. This will undoubtably be one of the most valuable things you’ll learn in order to make money with a blog:

Tip 1: Prioritize keywords

Writing content with the right keywords will make or break how much you can earn.

You should use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to find popular searches (usually with over 1000 hits)

Don’t go for the most popular search terms, though – if you aim for extremely competitive keywords, you won’t be able to rank against the established blogs in your niche.

Tip 2: Build backlinks

Making sure there are links leading back to your site is how you build authority on search engines. Eventually, if you have really great content, this will happen organically.

Until then, you can write guest posts on other blogs. These will allow you to link back to your blog through your bio, and you might even be able to sneak a few more links into the actual content.

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How to Monetize a Blog

Consulting services

If you have enough expertise in a subject, you can sell consultation sessions. For example, if you have experience working as a social media manager, you could offer 30-minute meetings where you advise clients on how to build their followings and online presence.

Depending on the service you’re offering, you can charge a little or a lot. Do some research to find out how similar services are priced, and invest in some great copywriting to set up a sales page on your blog.

Sell a book or a digital product

Ebooks are an easy addition to your blog that can make you thousands of dollars.

You don’t have to write a novel – a short book with some real, concise value can be just as lucrative. You can even hire a ghostwriter to do this for you to save yourself some time.

Digital products include things like:

  • Courses
  • Planners and Checklists
  • Workbooks
  • Templates

There’s a lot of variety in what you can sell with digital products, so you’ll easily find something that fits your niche. Courses are by far the most profitable though, so keep that in mind as you scale your blog.

Advertisements

Selling ad space is one of the fastest ways to start making money on your blog. You can do this through AdSense from day one, and as you get more traffic you can upgrade to better quality ad programs.

Affiliate links

Adding affiliate links to your posts means that you’ll make commission when someone buys something you’ve mentioned.

There’s a huge range of affiliate products and services to market, and this is how most blogs make passive income. You can find something to promote in any niche, and you can get started with a completely new blog.

You can learn about the best affiliate programs for new bloggers here.

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How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog?

You can, of course, start a blog for free. But if you want your blog to be a business that makes you money, you need hosting and your own URL.

Don’t worry, though – you can still start a blog on a tight budget. With Bluehost, you can get a year of hosting for less than $60! If you then choose a free theme, free plugins and you write your own content, you’ll have a profitable side hustle for less than a hundred dollars.

For a paid theme or premium plugins, your budget goes up by another $100.

If you then want to hire a writer, you’ll need to set aside quite a bit more. If you choose to seek out cheaper writers, you could get your first set of posts for somewhere between $500-$1000.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Starting a Blog

There are a few rules for blogging that can define your success or ruin your chances of it.

Successful bloggers do the following:

  • Have a plan and set goals

The process of blogging will go a whole lot smoother if you have a strong plan before you get started.

You need to know what your short term and long term goals are, how you plan to monetize your blog, how you plan to promote your blog, etc. Think about all the details before you get going and check in with these as your blog grows.

  • Keep their target audience in mind

Whether it’s your design, your content, or even the affiliate products you’re promoting – everything should be done for your target audience.

You should always focus on your audience’s pain points in every post. Remember – people don’t want to know about you – they want to know what you can do for them.

  • Treat their blogs like a business

If you treat your blog like a business from the start, it’ll be a hundred times easier down the line for you to make money.

If you treat it like a hobby, that’s all it will be.

  • Focus on niche keywords

Keywords are the key to success. If you want people to find you, you have to use popular keywords with a completion level of 0.3, that are in your niche and that sound natural in your content.

  • Make sure blog posts are always valuable

Writing fluff that’s bloated with keywords won’t get you an audience. Blogging is competitive, and the best way to stand out is to have useful content that helps your audience solve problems.

Unsuccessful Bloggers do the following:

  • Expect to get rich overnight

Yes, you can make money blogging. Yes, you can make money from day one. But will you start making $10,000 in the first month? No.

Blogging requires patience. You need to be prepared that it could take a year for you to make enough income to live off.

  • Are inconsistent

Posting frequently is essential to building a following and getting ranked on Google.

You should aim to post at least once a week and create a content calendar to hold yourself accountable.

  • Create ‘click-bait’ content with no value

It might be tempting to create really wild titles that people won’t be able to resist clicking on, even if they have nothing to do with the post.But if you want to build a following that trusts you enough to buy your products or click on your affiliate links, you need to have genuine, valuable content that does what it says on the tin.

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The Hardest Step is the First Step

It’s easy to waste months trying to find the perfect selling point, the perfect niche, the perfect post idea – but spoiler alert – there isn’t one.

As Marilu Henner once said:

“Don’t let perfectionism become an excuse for never getting started.”

The key to success with blogging is trial and error – trying new things until something sticks. Remember, a blog is a living, breathing thing. It evolves with time.

You don’t have to be perfect, and actually getting started and posting regular content is a hundred times more important than having a clever domain name.

Once you push through the fear of failure and take that first step of signing up with Bluehost, you’ll find that enthusiasm and excitement take over, and things start to fall into place.

Are you thinking about starting your own blog? Or have you started one that became a surprise success? Let me know in the comments where you are on your journey!

About Matt Collins

With a rapidly growing team of readers, my mission is to teach hungry professionals how to maximize their net worth with scalable side hustles and responsible financial management practices.

My reputation is of the utmost importance to me, which is why I only provide completely honest, 100% true, unbiased recommendations for systems and software I know and trust.

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