How to Start A Blog That Makes Money
Are you wondering How To Start A Blog That Makes Money? Or maybe you have questions about it. I’m glad you’re here! In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to create your own blog, no technical experience required. (It’s easier and faster than you think.) Plus, I’ll will answer some frequently asked questions along the way. This is the site I wish I had when I started blogging almost 14 years ago.
I created my first blog in 2004 with zero computer experience. It took me forever because I had to google my way through. This how-to guide contains what I learned and is for those who want step-by-step instructions in an easy and simple format.
The 6 steps to start a blog
- Decide what to blog about.
- Choose a blogging platform.
- Find a host.
- Pick a domain name.
- Get started with WordPress.
- Design & use your blog!
Don’t worry, I’ll walk you right through. Frequently asked questions are clearly indicated by “FAQ.”
Why start a blog?
There are many reasons to consider starting a blog. Here are a few popular ones:
- Make money while working from home. I make a full-time income blogging. Many others do the same. Making money as a blogger is hard work, but it’s low risk, low overhead and low barrier to entry.
- Become a published author. It’s no secret, these days publishers rarely work with authors who don’t have an online presence. The reason is simple: it’s a lot easier to sell books to people who already know you. A blog is one of the easiest and most effective places to start.
- Get more exposure for your existing business or organization. A blog gives anyone, from individuals to large companies, the ability to reach a large number of people at very little cost.
- Just write. If you want to write, share your story, encourage others and build a community, a blog is a great place to do that.
Do you see yourself in any of those? Can you see how you would benefit from a blog? Keep reading!
FAQ: How much does a blog cost?
If you use the method below, $5 to $10 a month. I blogged for years on this budget. As my blog and income grew, I eventually started paying for more premium tools and services, but they are not required to start.
To be clear, the monthly average is indeed $5 to $10 if you take advantage of the annual payment plan, which I’ve always done. I’ll talk more about that, and another option, as we go…
FAQ: Can I start a blog for free?
Yes. Here’s my advice, from personal experience: a free blog is fine if it’s a hobby, but if you want to make money from your blog (now or down the road) I don’t recommend starting a free blog. Why? A few reasons:
- Some free services limit monetization (i.e. making money) unless you “upgrade” to a higher level. You’ll have to pay for that upgrade of course, so it defeats the purpose of having a free blog in the first place.
- Companies don’t offer free blogs out of the goodness of their hearts. They still want to make money somehow. If you’re only using their free service, they’re not making money from you. Therefore, they don’t have a lot of incentive to keep you happy. Sometimes this means you’ll have little to no support. Other times it means you’ll be badgered with offers for their paid-for products.
- Most free services have only basic features. This might not be a problem at first, but as you grow, you will almost certainly feel the pinch. Expandability and flexibility are key, both of which are limited to free blogging services.
- If you ever want to switch to a better service (very common among those who start a free blog), it’s a hassle and can be costly. Doing it yourself takes a lot of time and know-how, hiring someone to do it for you correctly costs hundreds of dollars.
- You might not be able to do what your favorite bloggers are doing. This happens to new bloggers all the time. They start a blog for free. Soon they notice other bloggers with a really cool feature on their blog and they want it to. The problem is, it’s not possible on their free service.
- Accountability. In general, we value things we pay for. Blogging is hard work. One way to keep yourself accountable is to pay just a little bit for it.
FAQ: What if I want a regular website, not a blog?
No problem. The setup process is the same. And if you decide to add a blog later, you’ll be ready to go. Carry on!
Step 1: Decide what to blog about
If you’re part of a business, company or organization, your blog should be related to the product(s) or service(s) you provide, or the cause you promote.
If you’re an individual, you have more flexibility when choosing a topic. The main things to remember are:
- Blog about something you enjoy. If you aren’t excited about your topic, writing about it will be drudgery. Who wants that? Also, why would readers be interested if you aren’t?
- Blog about something with plenty of room for discussion. A blog requires a lot of content to get going and remain interesting. You’ll be at this a long time so make sure you have plenty to talk about.
- Choose a niche in which you can establish yourself as an authority. You probably won’t be the first person to blog about the topic you choose. It’s almost guaranteed someone else has thought of it before you. Don’t fret about this, come up with a unique angle. Do you have a reasonable chance of making your blog better than others talking about the same thing?
The goal for any blog is to become the go-to resource for its topic or niche.
FAQ: What if I can’t decide on a blog topic?
Start anyway! A common beginner mistake is thinking you have to be sure of a topic to start. If you’re like most of us, you’ll either switch topics after you start or settle into something as you go.
Step 2: Choose a blogging platform
If you want to cook, you need a kitchen. If you want to blog, you need a blogging platform.
There are many blogging platforms to choose from. WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace, Wix and Weebly are a few. All have pros and cons, but WordPress is by far the most popular (source), and for good reason. It’s flexible, functional and has a large community of users who share tools and ideas.
I use and recommend WordPress. I bet many of your favorite bloggers use it too. It’s an excellent choice.
If you choose WordPress, you have two options: hosted or self-hosted. Hosted WordPress blogs (sometimes called WordPress.com blogs) are free but limit your income potential. Self-hosted WordPress blogs (sometimes called WordPress.org blogs) cost a little money, but give you much more control, and do not limit your income potential.
This guide will teach you how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog.
Note: If you go with a self-hosted WordPress blog, you are not limited to a .org at the end of your name. You can still use .com.
Step 3: Find a host
A host provides server space for your site. You need server space so your site is accessible on the internet. Let’s get you set up!
Note: I recommend what I have personally used. As a paying customer for over 10 years, the links below are my referral links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Click here to –> go to Bluehost <– and start your own blog. (The link will open in a new window so you can reference these instructions as you work.) Click the green “Get Started Now” button like so:
Note: Don’t worry if the images you see here vary slightly from the ones you see on your screen. The process is the same. Bluehost is always tweaking and making site improvements. You might even catch them in a sale!
Select your plan
Choose the plan you’d like to start with by clicking one of the green “select” buttons. I typically go with Plus or Prime because you get more unlimited features. Domain privacy, which I highly recommend, comes included with Prime. If you choose Plus, you’ll have the option to add it later for about $1 a month.
Step 4: Pick a domain name
A domain is a web address.
If you have previously registered a domain and want to use it for this new site, enter it on the right. (Don’t worry. It won’t mess things up to enter it here. It only identifies your Bluehost account for now.) If you don’t already have one, enter your desired domain on the left.
If you’re not sure what domain you want to use yet, take advantage of Bluehost’s option to choose it later. Simply click the “Choose Free Domain Later” button in the popup that appears and looks like this:
Note: For the purpose of this tutorial, I will use a new domain. If you are using an existing domain, the process is nearly the same. You can still follow along easily.
FAQ: How do I choose a domain name?
- The goal is to make it easy to remember and easy to share!
- Go with a .com whenever possible. People always assume .com before other extensions like .net, .org, .co or others.
- Make it easy to say and spell.
- Don’t include hyphens, numbers, obscure terms or confusing strings of words.
- If you’re not sure what to use, your name is a safe choice to start.
- Be creative or try a phrase if you’re having trouble finding an available name.
- Ideally your domain name will be be available on all social media platforms as well. Use a tool like Namechk to check.
FAQ: What if the domain name I want isn’t available?
This is common. If you’re having trouble, use Bluehost’s option to choose a free domain later (see image above). Take the time to come up with other options later. In the end, it’s better to have a blog with a less-than-ideal name than no blog at all!
Enter your account info
On the next page, enter your account info. Make sure you use a working email address because this is where your login information will be sent. (Save these emails!)
Choose an account plan based on how far in advance you want to pay. Bluehost bills 1, 2, 3 or 5 years upfront. They do not offer a monthly payment option, but as you can see, it works out to a very reasonable monthly amount. Not bad for your own blog or website, right?
I skip the other add-ons except Domain Privacy Protection at this point. The others can easily be added later if needed. (Domain privacy is only available for new domains. If you selected the Prime package, it’s free.) This protection keeps your personal information private. The only time I would skip domain privacy is if you are using a business address and don’t mind if it’s visible to anyone who looks up your domain.
The total is the amount you’ll pay today. You won’t have to pay again for 12, 24, 36 or 60 months, depending on the account plan you chose. It’s sorta like set it and forget it!
Enter your billing info
Next, fill in your billing information, confirm that you’ve read the fine print and then click Submit.
Skip the upgrades & special offers
Once you hit submit, you’ll be asked if you want to add any upgrades or special offers. I skip them by clicking the “no thanks” link.
FAQ: What if paying a year at a time is out of my budget?
I operated for years on a very limited budget so I understand this dilemma. I’ve used another host with a month to month billing option, although the monthly price is significantly higher (making Bluehost a much better deal overall). HostGator is the name of the company and the setup process is very similar to what you’ll find below.
Choose a password
After your purchase is complete, you’ll be asked to choose a password. Just click the “Create your password” button to choose a secure password.
This password will allow you to login and get started.
Step 5: Get started with WordPress
You can start working on your WordPress site right away. Click the blue login button in the “Congratulations!” window to get started with WordPress.
Bluehost gives you the option to pick a free theme immediately. Unless you are familiar with one listed, I recommend you skip it by clicking “Skip this step” at the bottom of the screen. Why? Because many free themes are not kept updated. Outdated themes leave holes hackers can exploit and are not worth the risk.
The Mojo Marketplace has paid themes. Mojo Marketplace has everything that you need to get a premium website up and running together in one place. You need your own domain and website hosting of course, but it takes care of everything else.
Start building your site
Note: Your site will be on a temporary domain at first. Don’t be alarmed. For new domains, this is because it takes 2-24 hours for your chosen domain to become registered. Go ahead and start working on your site. When the real domain is ready, Bluehost will switch it for your automatically. If you used an existing domain (in Step 4), you can contact Bluehost support (New Hosting Customers) or look in the help section when this site is set up and you’re ready to point your existing domain to this new site.
You have two options on this screen, the blue “Start Building” button and the link underneath, “Or, go to my Bluehost account”:
It’s unlikely you’ll need to access your Bluehost account at this point so clicking the “Start Building” button will take you to your new WordPress site like so:
The black column on the left indicates your WordPress dashboard, a place with which you will become very familiar.
I recommend skipping the blue buttons in the middle of the screen (Business & Personal) and choosing “I don’t need help” instead. Why? I prefer to start with a clean slate.
Step 6: Design & use your blog!
Congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a self-hosted WordPress site. Before we dive in, I always recommend doing the following things first.
4 quick & important things to do before you publish your first WordPress post
- Change your permalinks.
- Change your username from “Admin” to something more secure.
- Activate your domain. If you chose a new domain in Step 4, find the appropriate welcome email and click the button inside to complete the activation process.
- Change your domain from HTTP to HTTPS. Again, for security. Read the FAQ below for instructions.
How to switch to HTTPS in Bluehost
Do this via an SSL certificate. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy term. It’s easy.
Login to your Bluehost account by clicking on this link. Select the “hosting login” tab if it isn’t already. Use the login information you received via email immediately after signing up with Bluehost in Step 4 above.
Click on “My Sites” in the left column. Then hover over the thumbnail image of your site. Click the option “Manage Site” options that appears like so:
On the next screen, select the “Security” tab at the top. Turn on the Free SSL Certificate by toggling the switch to “On”:
There are many directions you can go at this point.
First, you should know this: you will undoubtedly feel overwhelmed, especially at the beginning. This is normal. The best way to learn how to blog is to simply tackle new things as you can.
A really good place to begin is learning more about WordPress.
FAQ: How do I log in to WordPress once I log out?
You can always login to WordPress by going to yourdomain.com/wp-admin (substitute “yourdomain” for your actual domain name of course).
If you don’t remember your login info, find the welcome emails sent to you after you set up your site initially. (Look in your spam folder if you don’t see them immediately.) Those emails have two sets of login information: one for WordPress (where you write your posts and manage your blog) and one for Bluehost (where you manage your hosting account and pay your hosting bill).
*Email marketing is also a very personal way of reaching your target customers. Messages from your friends and family are sitting next to email updates from your company. That’s why email marketing works at it’s best when it is personalised. Email can be tailored to customer actions so that every communication is relevant to their interest. You can cover topics like changes in your company, victories, request feedback to your customer – this list is virtually endless. With 2.5 billion users, email isn’t going anywhere. GetResponse is a simple yet powerful email marketing software that includes simple drag-and-drop creation of autoresponders, signup forms, emails, and landing pages.
By: Amy Lynn Andrews