This article is part of a larger series on How to Make Money Blogging.
There are just seven steps involved with how to start a blog and make money. You can launch a blog in a single day, though it typically takes three or more months before your blog gains traction in terms of Google rankings and profitability. You can accelerate your blog’s success using the steps discussed below.
When starting a blog, you’ll need to choose a blogging platform and you may need to choose a hosting provider as well. If you want to minimize headaches and hassles, check out Bluehost, where you can host your WordPress blog for only $2.95 a month.
It takes just seven simple steps to start a money-making blog:
1. Decide What Type of Blog You Want to Start
The first step in creating a blog is deciding what you want to write about. You may already have a good idea of what you want to focus on in your blog. Still, there are some fundamentals you need to understand to ensure you select a niche that has true earnings potential.
“You have to home in on a niche that you can serve reasonably well. By doing so, you drastically cut down on your competition. People prefer something that meets their specific needs as opposed to a generic piece of content any time of the day. For example, Nerdfitness became a successful blog in a short period of time even though there were already countless fitness blogs, because it appealed to the specific target audience of nerds who want to be fit.”
— Ted Chong, Blogger, Digital Senior
Types of Blogs
There are many types of blogs you can start and each appeals to a different niche audience. The best type of blog for you is one where you already possess deep skills and experience or where you have a strong passion for the subject.
Some of the most popular types of blogs include:
- Food blogs: If you love to cook and invent new recipes, you could start a food blog, which is one of the most popular niches on the internet.
- Fitness and wellness blogs: If you have a passion for health and fitness, you may want to launch a wellness blog.
- Business blogs: These types of blogs tend to focus on a narrow set of business needs and interests, such as leadership, entrepreneurship, or business growth strategies.
- Travel blogs: If you have a deep affection for adventure and traveling, then consider starting a travel blog.
- Lifestyle blogs: A popular blogging niche, lifestyle blogs focus on a chosen set of lifestyle choices, interests, and unique tastes that are discussed from the blogger’s personal perspective.
- Craft blogs: There’s a big demand for do-it-yourself craft ideas, so if this if the idea of sharing your crafting know-how is appealing, you may want to start a craft blog.
- Finance blogs: These include blogs that talk about how to save money, how to invest your money, how to live on a budget, and other subjects related to personal or business finances.
- Sports blogs: If you’re a sports lover, you may want to start a blog about your favorite sport or team.
- Mommy blogs: These blogs focus on all things related to parenting, homemaking, and the personal challenges mothers face.
- Entertainment blogs: You can blog about movies, television, music, theater, and celebrities.
- Fashion and beauty blogs: These blogs typically talk about fashion trends, makeup, hair, and different types of beauty products and regimens.
- Hobby blogs: You can blog about any hobby under the sun, from model trains to gardening and more.
The type of blog you choose is up to you. Just make sure that you focus on a niche that you feel comfortable connecting with, as your ability to engage your blog visitors is an important key to making money blogging.
You want to write about topics that people are commonly searching for because that is the best way to get visibility for your blog. You can’t make money if people don’t find your blog.
If your goal is to have your blog posts rank on the first page of search engine results, then it’s important to research keywords to see how much search traffic different terms get. Keyword research also helps you understand how much competition there is for the keywords you’re targeting.
The best free tool for doing keyword research is Google’s Keyword Planner. It is easy to use, but you will need to set up a Google AdWords account to access the Keyword Planner tool.
By writing blog posts focused on high traffic and low competition terms, you can increase the chances that your posts will rank highly in Google’s search results. For the best tips on how to rank high on Google, view our guide.
2. How to Make Money From Your Blog
The biggest mistake many new bloggers make is failing to decide how they plan to monetize their blogs. If you want to make money from your blog, then you’ll need to consider how you’ll generate income before you launch.
The most popular ways to make money from blogging include affiliate marketing, adding advertisements to your site, selling products or services, and getting paid sponsorships for your blog posts.
If you plan to sell products or services on your blog, you don’t necessarily need to be ready to sell something on Day One. However, if you hope to monetize your blog, it’s best to be ready with something to sell within the first six months of blogging.
“Although bloggers don’t need a product to sell in the very beginning, I recommend having a product or service that can be launched within the first six months of starting a blog to avoid creating an expensive hobby. A clear revenue stream definitely needs to be part of the business plan from the very beginning. The world of blogging is competitive so the more homework you can do in the beginning to make your business successful, the better off you’ll be at creating a successful and profitable space on the internet.”
— Alexis Mathews, Marketing Strategist & SEO Specialist, Premier Executive Media
If you’d like to know more about how to generate income as a blogger, check out our popular post on how much bloggers make. The ideas there will help you jump-start your money-making blogging efforts.
3. Choose Your Blogging Platform
There are two primary types of blog platforms. The first option is to have your blog hosted on another website. While this option is often free, it comes with some significant limitations in terms of blog design, monetization, and visibility in search engines. The second option is to create a self-hosted blog, with a content management system (CMS) and a hosting company, which you can do for as little as $2.95 with BlueHost. Building your own self-hosted blog is the best way to make money online.
Build Your Blog on Another Website
There are several free blogging platforms such as WordPress.com, Blogger, and Medium. The good thing about these websites is that they connect you to a network of other bloggers.
However, there are also several downsides to hosting your blog on another website, including:
- No custom domain: Since you don’t get your own custom domain name (ex: yourbusiness.com vs yourwebsite.wordpress.com). This can lower your credibility as an authoritative blog.
- Monetization issues: You won’t be able to fully monetize your blog. Free blogging sites have strict rules in place for when and how you can make money on your blog.
- Limited control puts you at risk: You don’t have full control over your website. If the website that is hosting your blog shuts down, your personal blog will vanish as well.
- Weaker search rankings: You may have limited control over SEO, which could negatively impact your page rankings in Google.
- Blog design limitations: You have design and HTML coding limitations on these types of sites. Therefore you won’t be able to make the blog look exactly how you envision.
Build your blog on another website if you are less serious about your blog and just want a fun way to share your thoughts and experiences with others. If you decide to go this route, consider opening a free blog account on Wordpress.com, which also offers several upgrade options that will allow you to grow your blog.
Host Your Own Blog
A self-hosted blog offers tremendous versatility in terms of site design and monetization functionality. If you want to make money with your blog, then you’ll want a self-hosted website. It’s important to remember that every business needs a website, and a blog should be a part of your plan.
The most popular self-hosted blogging platforms include:
- Bluehost plus WordPress: WordPress is the most popular blogging platform available today. You can launch a self-hosted WordPress site using Bluehost for as low as $2.95 per month. Setting up your blog with Bluehost takes less than 30 minutes.
- Squarespace: Squarespace is an all-in-one website platform, which means hosting is included. You can create a beautiful blog using Squarespace with its easy-to-use website-building interface. Prices start at $12 per month.
- Wix: This all-in-one website builder is known for being one of the easiest ways to start a blog. You can start a Wix site for $13 per month. View a comparison of Wix vs WordPress.
- DreamHost plus WordPress: Another hosting provider that you can use with WordPress is DreamHost, where plans start at just $2.59 and do not require a full year commitment.
There are many other blogging platforms you could consider. If you want to get your blog started quickly and easily, the options mentioned here will definitely meet your blogging needs.
4. Select Your Domain
If you’ve decided to go with a self-hosted blog, then you’ll need to select a domain (example: yourblog.com). Bluehost includes a free domain for the first year when you purchase its hosting services.
You can also purchase your domain separately from your hosting vendor at sites like Hover and Namecheap, where average annual domain costs are $8 to $15. Domain renewal rates are typically lower on sites that specialize in domain registration than with hosting site providers.
A good domain name should include the following:
- Description of your blog: Ideally people will have an idea of what you are writing about simply from the name of your blog. For example, minimalistbaker.com is a food blog with recipes that have less than 10 ingredients.
- Keywords: You want people to find your blog when they are searching Google for answers related to your area of expertise. Having your primary keyword in your domain will help people who are searching on Google see that your site is relevant for their needs.
- The domain is easy to spell and pronounce: If your website is hard to pronounce or spell, you’re making it harder for people to remember you. Be clear and use common spellings when choosing your domain.
With millions of blogs on the internet, it may take a while to find a domain name that is not taken. The more original your blog name, the greater the chance that you’ll be able to acquire the domain you want.
Once you’ve found a domain you want, acquire it immediately. Domain registration sites are famous for tracking domain search queries and raising the price on those searched for and not purchased.
5. Design Your Blog
Once you’ve gone through steps one through four for starting your blog, it’s time to design your blog. How you will do this depends on the platform you are using. Squarespace and Wix provide standard themes you can use to customize your site.
If you decide to go with a WordPress site, you’ll need to install WordPress. Bluehost makes this easy. Simply navigate to the BlueHost dashboard, scroll down to the website section, hit “Install WordPress” and follow the installation instructions.
Design and Personalize Your Blog
As mentioned, if you’re using SquareSpace or Wix, you’ll select from one of the templates offered through these all-in-one platforms. These templates handle key design components for you, which means you don’t have to be a graphic designer to launch your blog.
Many people choose Squarespace as their blogging platform because of its beautiful modern templates. Squarespace is an easy-to-use choice for bloggers who have minimal design skills yet want to create an attractive blog. There are 21 template families on SquareSpace which translates to 92 total designs to choose from. Check out this list of best free Squarespace templates.
If you decide to use Wix to develop your blog, the Wix ADI will help you design a site based on your answers to a handful of questions. You can also choose from one of the many templates Wix offers. In fact, Wix has more than 300 design templates to choose from. Choose carefully, though, as you cannot switch templates after your blog is live.
Wix is considered one of the easiest blog platforms to use. In fact, Wix is an ideal platform choice for those with minimal technical skills.
If you decide to go with a self-hosted WordPress blog (WordPress.org), the top choice for bloggers who want to create a money-making site, you’ll need to select a theme for your website. A WordPress theme is a design framework or template that helps you customize your site. There are thousands of WordPress themes available, many of which are free. You may want to consider a paid theme, though, as you will have more design flexibility with premium themes.
When you host your blog on Bluehost, you’ll have access to dozens of free and premium themes. Installation is quick and easy and you’re never tied down to one theme: you can change your theme anytime you want.
If you want more customization options for your blog’s design, a powerful premium theme to consider is Divi from Elegant Themes. Divi not only functions as a theme, it also includes a website page builder that is easier to use than WordPress’s standard post editor. This page-builder tool makes building beautiful, customized pages a cinch, which is why Divi is so popular with non-technical bloggers. Yearly access to Divi costs $89 per year.
Finally, if you need help designing your blog, you can always get a web designer or developer to help you out. Fiverr helps you find the perfect freelancer to help you build a beautiful blog. Even better, Fiverr freelancers are available for nearly any budget.
6. Develop Blog Content
Once your site is designed, it’s time to start adding content to your blog. For those who want to know how to start a blog, this is one of the most critical yet least understood steps in the process. Content marketing is a way for you to offer your audience something of value, build trust, and convert readers into customers.
Types of Blog Posts
There are many different types of blog posts you can add to your blog to engage readers and generate money. The most successful bloggers vary their content for maximum appeal to both new and returning visitors.
Here are a few popular blog post formats you can add to your blog
- How-to posts: Instruct people how to do something. Step-by-step posts are the most popular how-to posts.
- Expert roundup posts: Gather input from various experts in their field about a certain subject or around a specific theme. Then post all the expert answers in a single post adding your personal perspective, too.
- Review posts: Choose a certain product or service and offer an objective review of it. Compare features, options, price, etc. Then advise blog visitors whether you recommend purchasing the service or product or not, explaining why you came up with your recommendation.
- Success story posts: Everyone loves a success story. Share a success you’ve had and detail what factors helped you achieve success. This is a great way to inspire blog readers.
- Interview posts: Interview others on a topic you want to blog about. You could interview an expert in the field or other people who have an opinion on what you’re writing about and want to share their thoughts.
When you experiment with different types of posts, you’ll soon see which ones attract visitors and which ones convert readers into buying customers. Learn from your successes and do more of what works.
Other Types of Blog Content
Blog posts won’t be the only content on your blog. You’ll also want to include an “About Me” page, strong calls to action (CTAs), and perhaps some email capture devices using lead magnets. Depending on the type of blog you have, there may be more content you’ll add as well. Some of the best blogging tips have to do with more than content creation.
Your “About Me” Page
In addition to blog post content, your blog will also need a strong About Me (or About Us) page. Your About page is likely to be one of the most visited pages on your entire site, so make sure you include content that demonstrates the many ways visitors can benefit from being on your blog and give them compelling reasons to stick around.
Since your About Me page could be one of the most visited pages on your site, you want it to welcome your readers and affirm that they’ve come to the right blog. Be original and conversational. Tell your visitors why you started your blog and how it can help them. Build your credibility by giving a glimpse of your background and experience.
Always include strong CTAs both within your blog posts and throughout all your pages. A CTA tells your visitors what you want them to do next. For example, you may want to send your visitors to a pillar post, which is a long-form post that best represents the purpose of your blog.
Another next-step action you may want your site visitors to take is to download a resource or tool that you’re offering them. These tools and resources are often called lead magnets, and they’re a terrific way to build an email list.
It’s not enough to get new visitors to your site. Once they’re there, you need a way to keep them coming back. Email marketing is a great way to do this but you can’t do this effectively without building an email list.
Bluehost’s plan includes a free business email address, so you’ll need to set it up. This is an important step, since getting an email from firstname.lastname@example.org will look more professional than getting an email from email@example.com.
Once you have your business email address setup, here are a few ways to collect email addresses:
- Create an e-book or PDF: Create an e-book or PDF with information that’s not included on your website. Require people to enter their email address before they can download the free information and resources you’re sharing.
- Create a weekly newsletter: Give people a reason to give you their email address by sending out a weekly newsletter. You can have a pop up on your page to get people to sign up, or just a box at the top of your website that asks people to subscribe for weekly tips.
By sending people regular emails about new updates on your blog, you are giving them a reason to revisit your site.
Other Site Content
Other content on your site will include anything else you want your visitors to see. This may include images and links to products and services you want to promote, advertisements, and affiliate promotions. It may also include infographics, videos, links to your related social media channels, testimonials from customers, and more. If a piece of content helps your site visitors and it leads to more sales, it belongs on your website.
“The best advice I have for new bloggers is consistency, consistency, consistency. I have witnessed bloggers (and also experienced in my early attempts to maintain a blog) who want to see immediate results. Then, after posting a few blogs without hitting a million views, they quit because they didn’t achieve overnight success. Pick a posting schedule, outline your strategy, batch your content, share it everywhere with everyone and more than anything — keep going!”
— Bri Seeley, Entrepreneur Coach
7. Drive Traffic to Your Blog
As mentioned in Step 6, creating an email list is a great way to generate high-quality traffic for your blog. Another top way to generate money-making traffic is to master search engine optimization (SEO) and implement SEO strategies throughout your site.
Optimizing your blog using strategic SEO tactics is a way to ensure search engines like Google will recognize pages on your site and rank them high in search engine results. The higher you appear on Google’s search engine page rankings, the more traffic you’ll get for your blog.
Yoast SEO is a powerful plugin that works with your WordPress site and is considered a “must have” SEO plugin by many top bloggers. Yoast has both a free and a premium option.
Another popular way to drive blog traffic is to create posts on social media that direct people to your blog. Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter are all top vehicles for generating blog traffic.
Be sure that all the traffic-generating methods you employ are tailored to attract targeted visitors to your blog — in other words, people who are interested in what you’re blogging about. Generating traffic that is not interested in your blog topic will only increase your website’s bounce rate (the number of people who visit your site and immediately leave). High bounce rates have a negative impact on your Google page rankings.
How to Start a Blog Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does it cost to start a blog?
Many sites, such as WordPress.com and Medium, allow you to start blogging for free. Most people who are interested in making money from their blogs create a self-hosted website. You can start a self-hosted blog for only $2.95 a month with Bluehost.
How do you start a blog and make money?
You can easily start a blog through sites like Squarespace, Wix, Bluehost, and DreamHost. The most popular ways to make money blogging include affiliate marketing, selling products and services, creating sponsored posts, and hosting advertisements on your site. The best way to make the most money is to choose a profitable niche which has sufficient demand to sustain your blogging business over time.
How much money do bloggers make?
It’s estimated that most bloggers make less than $100 a month blogging, but that’s only because their sites are not optimized to make money. Even new bloggers can easily earn $500 to $3,000 a month if they employ smart blog monetization strategies. Top bloggers earn from $10,000 into the high six figures on a monthly basis. Some blogging statistics show that marketers who focus on blogging are 13 times likelier to see positive return on investment (ROI).
Can I start a blog for free?
The top sites for starting a free blog include WordPress.com, Medium, Blogger, and Wix. While you can start a blog for free using a site that is not self-hosted, bloggers who make the most money build their blogs on a self-hosted platform such as WordPress (through WordPress.org) using a hosting service like Bluehost or DreamHost.
If you’re passionate about a certain topic, starting a blog is a great way to share your knowledge with others who have similar interests. Plus, if you’re dedicated to the process, your blog can be more than just a hobby; it can become a way to earn an exceptional income.
If you want to start building your money-making blog today, visit Bluehost. You can launch a WordPress blog in 30 minutes or less on Bluehost and it will only cost your $2.59 a month to get started. Learn more about Bluehost for bloggers.