How To Start A Blog & Make Money With It
People start a blog for many reasons. Some do it for fun, some do it to share a passion, and some just want to update friends and families about their life.
Then there are those who create a blog as a business. These are people who share their interesting lifestyles, teach people how to do something, or talk about current events with the intention of making money. There are many styles and types of blogs that might attract readers, but those who want to make money from their blogs find ways to turn their readers into customers.
A blogging business can be lucrative, but it can also be a lot of work, time, energy, and even money.
In this article, we will talk about some of the behind-the-scenes processes of starting a blog, and then we will tell you how you can turn your blog into a business that creates a side income or even a full-time job.
WHAT YOU NEED TO START A BLOG
To start your online blogging business, there are a few practical things you will need.
Those things are:
• A domain name
• A platform
• A hosting company (if not provided on the platform)
• A good idea for a blog
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the address of your website. When you visit a website, each one has a unique name so it can be located on the internet. For example, my domain name is WillTan.com.
The domain name you choose will often be the same name as your blog, but it doesn’t have to be.
It usually makes sense to have your blog name and domain name be the same, so people can remember them when they want to search for your blog.
For domain acquisition, I’d recommend NameCheap.
What is a Blogging Platform?
When you start a blog, it has to live somewhere on the internet. If your domain name is your address, your platform is your blog’s house.
There are many different blogging platforms to choose from.
Some are free, but most will have costs associated with them. Many bloggers choose website builders like Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly. WordPress is also an extremely popular platform that is easy to use and it’s the one I will highly recommend as it’s more versatile and scalable.
What is a Hosting Company?
Depending on what type of blogging platform you choose, you may need to pay for a hosting plan.
A hosting company will host your website so people can have access to it. Your website’s content will live on a web hosting company’s physical server.
People using WordPress can use the CMS platform (WordPress.org) for free, but they’ll need to pay for a hosting plan to install WordPress for people to view their website.
And the hosting I’ll highly recommend is the one I’m using for my sites – SiteGround. I’m using SiteGround’s Cloud hosting as I’m running LMS (Learning Management System) portals which require more hosting resources. For those who are looking to start a blog, the shared web hosting (ie. GrowBig) is more than adequate.
What is a Good Idea for a Blog?
A good idea for a blog is relative, but the best blog idea you can choose is one that intersects your interests and what can make money.
Next in this article, we will talk about choosing a niche for your website so you can start making money blogging.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR BLOGGING NICHE
Choosing the topic of your blog may be one of the more challenging parts of starting a blogging business. You know that you want your blog to make money, but you also want to write about something that you could see yourself writing about for a long time.
Here are some tips for thinking of a blog topic for your new blogging business:
1. Think about what you are interested in. There are certain blogging topics that may be more lucrative, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best topic for you.
• If it’s something that you find boring, you will have a hard time motivating yourself to write about it for long, so choose something that you’re actually interested in, not just something that you think will make money.
2. Choose a topic that you know something about. People go to bloggers because they want to learn something that they don’t already know. A good blogger must have some authority on the subject, or they will quickly lose the respect and trust of their readers.
• For example, you may be interested in writing about skateboarding, but if you have no experience with it, your readers will soon know that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
• The best sources for blogging inspiration are things that you have some real-life experience with.
That doesn’t mean that you won’t be researching topics and learning more about your subject, but you should still have something to offer your readers from first-hand understanding.
3. Write about something that you can successfully monetize. You may know a lot about something, and you may have experience with it, but if there isn’t a way to make money from it, it won’t be a successful blogging business idea.
4. Choose a topic that isn’t a passing trend. To create a lucrative blogging business, think about the long term. It would be challenging to make money blogging about a topic that is only popular for a few months. Social media can often keep up with short trends easier than a blog.
There are three big reasons why you might not be able to make money from your blogging idea:
1. It’s a flooded subject. You can expect some competition with almost any idea you can come up with for blogging, but if there is too much competition, it can be very difficult to get your blogging business off the ground.
2. It’s too niche. Your blogging topic will be more likely to succeed if the subject isn’t too broad, but you’ll also struggle if the scope is too narrow.
• For example, a blog that talks about fantasy movies and books might get a lot of attention, but if your entire blog is about an obscure movie or book, you probably won’t have a lot of traffic, simply because most people won’t be familiar with it.
3. There are no ways to monetize it. A blog that gets a lot of traffic can be monetized with ads, but the best blogging business will have multiple streams of revenue. That includes sponsored posts, affiliates, and more.
• If there are no products or services related to your blogging business, you may have a hard time making money through those avenues.
8 WAYS TO MAKE MONEY ON YOUR BLOG
There are a number of ways to make money blogging, and here we will discuss some ideas for you to monetize your blog. Remember, the most successful blogs are the ones that have a mix of revenue streams. If one is doing poorly, you will still have other opportunities to make money.
Here are some of the most common ways that people make money from their blogs.
Ads are one of the most tried and true forms of monetization for bloggers, magazines, newspapers, radio stations, podcasts, videos, television, and the list goes on. Ads have been around for hundreds of years, and it’s by far the easiest, most passive way to make money on your blog.
The other upside about making money from ads is that you can write about anything you want and, as long as people are visiting your website and clicking on those ads, it doesn’t matter what your content is about. You don’t have to write content that promotes anything. You can simply write whatever might attract people to your blog.
There are a few downsides to advertisements as well. For one, they can slow down your blog and make your blog’s aesthetic look cluttered. The ads themselves can detract from your content and may make some people want to back out of your website, especially if your ads are too intrusive.
The other negative to ads is that they tend to make less money than other types of monetization. A general rule of thumb is that people will make between 1-3 dollars per 1,000 impressions. That means your blog will have to receive 1,000 visitors before you’ll make $1.
Some ad companies pay a sum per click. It’s possible to make more money this way depending on how many people click through your ads, but advertisement income tends to be fairly low unless you’re getting substantial traffic to your blog.
Popular ad sites for bloggers include:
• Google AdSense
Affiliate content is another very popular way that many bloggers use to monetize their blogs. This type of monetization teams up content creators with businesses to promote products and services.
Affiliate content usually includes helpful information to readers while also attempting to sell something. For example, a blogger might write a blog post about how to bake bread and then include links to their favorite bread pans.
This type of monetization can be very lucrative when bloggers find an affiliate partner that pays a high percentage or if they are able to sell a lot of products.
Amazon affiliates is one of the easiest affiliate programs available to new bloggers, because they sell such a diverse number of products that most bloggers can find something that they can link to in just about any article.
However, unless a blogger is selling a high quantity of products through these affiliate links, they are unlikely to make a high profit because Amazon’s affiliate percentage of a sale tends to be low.
Bloggers are more likely to make a higher profit when they team up with specific brands that pay a higher rate.
Some of the most popular affiliate programs are:
• Amazon Associates
• Ace Fitness
• Stitch Fix
Bloggers who have a lot of website traffic and an interested audience may be able to start working directly with brands through sponsored posts.
Sponsored posts are sometimes written by the blogger and sometimes by the business. Either way, the blogger usually receives a flat fee for allowing the sponsored post to appear on their blog.
New bloggers may have a hard time finding businesses to partner with, but once your blog receives a lot of traffic, it’s likely that you will be approached by a brand in your niche.
If not, you can reach out to some of your favorite brands and ask if they would like to partner with you. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get a response from everyone that you contact. Keep trying until you find the right match for your blog.
Using an email finder tool when trying to reach out to brands for collaborations or sponsorships is a great way to speed up the process without sacrificing accuracy or relevancy. These types of tools provide access to accurate contact info quickly while also allowing users to personalize messages easily so they can better target specific individuals or organizations.
Sell Branded Merchandise
Bloggers that have a loyal audience can make money from selling related merchandise and apparel.
There are many different ideas for brand-related merch that you can sell on your blog such as:
• Tote bags
• Phone cases
Branded merchandise is great for bloggers because you can make money selling the merchandise and it also works as an advertisement for your blog.
Sell Your Own Products
A lot of bloggers make money selling their own products related to their niche. A fashion blogger may sell their own line of apparel, just as an outdoor blogger may sell camping gear. Other bloggers may sell handmade items like clothing, paintings, or furniture.
In order to sell your products on your blog, you will need to work with a platform that allows you to sell products. Many website builders have this feature built into their platform, but if it’s something that you think will be vital for your blogging business, make sure that you search for one that includes it.
Selling your own products does add another element of work to your blogging business. Unlike ads or affiliate content in which you are not responsible for storing or shipping products, if you sell products, you will be dealing with extra work and customer service. That’s something to keep in mind if your goal for blogging is to create mostly passive income.
If physical products sound too laborious, you can also sell digital products (also known as infoproducts). Digital products are a better fit for passive income and allow you to work hard on something once and reap the benefits.
Examples of digital items you can sell are:
• Music or audio
• Graphic art
• Craft patterns
• WordPress themes
Many bloggers have skills that translate well to online services. Some bloggers may also want to market their in-person services through their blogging business. As you grow your audience and show your authority in your given niche, people will begin to trust your experience and will be willing to pay for your services.
Common services that might be marketed by bloggers include:
• Freelance writing
• Graphic design
• Logo creation
• Website design
Your niche may give you other opportunities for services. For instance, a travel blogger may be good at helping people plan dream vacations.
In your given niche, you may also be able to sell in-person services. A blogger that writes about landscaping and gardening may be able to help people create the perfect backyard, or someone who writes about cooking or baking may enjoy catering parties.
There are a lot of services bloggers can offer on their blogs to make them profitable.
Although articles fall into the category of digital products, it’s worth talking about in more detail. Articles are a near-perfect fit for bloggers wanting to make money online, because they’re already good at writing a lot of content. The only difference is creating something that’s longer and in a slightly different format.
Many bloggers will create articles as lead magnets to grow an email list, but you can also write articles to sell. Your article can be marketed on your website, and you can also sell it on online marketplaces like Amazon.
Another perk of an article is you can often recycle content you’ve already written on your blog in your article.
Your article will need to offer something new and different from your blogging content, but there’s nothing wrong with repurposing blog content as part of the article you sell.
Online courses are a growing opportunity for making money online, and they’re also a natural fit for bloggers.
The internet is an incredible resource for anyone who wants to learn something, and although many people go to YouTube for how-to videos, a lot of people are also willing to pay money to learn from people who have a proven record of success or a lot of experience in a given niche.
Some of the best platforms on which to create online courses are:
• LearnDash on WordPress (my #1 choice)
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR NICHE WILL MAKE MONEY
Any blogger who has poured their time, energy, and money into a blogging project will tell you to avoid a blogging niche that is not profitable. This is good advice, but how will you know if your chosen niche is profitable without trying?
There is something to be said for experimenting with ideas, and in some ways, you won’t know until you try, but there are a lot of indications of whether your blogging idea can make money or not before you start.
Here are some considerations and ways to find out if your blogging niche will make money before you write your first blog post.
Find Out What’s Trending on Google
Google isn’t the only search engine that’s out there, but it’s a very good indicator of what people are searching for and what they are interested in. To find out how well something is doing on Google, go to Google Trends.
Google Trends can give you a lot of information about any given topic. Someone who wants to start a blog about fishing could easily look it up to see if it’s something that people research.
Using this example, if you were to type “fishing” into Google Trends, you would find out:
• Alaska is the top state to search for this term.
• New Zealand is the top country in the world to search for this term.
• The topic is consistently popular throughout the year.
You can also use Google Keyword Planner to find out how many people search for something.
Simply typing in “fishing” into the search box will show you:
• 50,000 searches are made each month for this term.
• It has low competition.
Google Keyword planner will also give you related searches such as:
All of these terms have a decent volume of searches each month, which indicates that it is something that people are interested in and could potentially have a good return.
Is There a Way to Monetize Your Niche?
Thinking back to the different ways to make money from blogging, is there a way that you can monetize your chosen niche?
If you’re not sure, use these questions to help you:
• Are there possible affiliates that you can partner with?
• Will you get enough traffic for ads?
• Will brands want to post sponsored ads on your blog?
• Are there related products you could sell?
• Are there related services you can offer?
• Would you be able to write an article that people would be interested in?
• Can you offer a related course, and would people be willing to pay money for it?
• Is it a long-lasting trend? Will people want to continue reading about it for months or years to come?
• Are there enough things you can write about? Do you have content ideas that will last you for months/years?
Using the fishing idea as an example, take some time to think through these questions:
• What businesses might someone partner with if their niche was fishing?
• What products might people be interested in related to fishing?
• What types of services might someone offer?
• What types of courses could be made about fishing?
Asking these simple questions can help you toss out ideas that really have no profitability and take ideas that can be monetized to the next level.
It’s Something People Search for, But It’s Also Unique
Your blog needs to be about something people search for, but it also has to be something that is different from your competition. A thousand blogs about cooking that all have the same recipes and advice are going to be indistinguishable from each other.
Here are some ways to have your blog stand out from other blogs in the same genre:
1. Have a personality. You want to do more than just convey information in your blog. Although people make fun of recipe bloggers for telling their life stories before they share a recipe, there is something to that. It’s good to show your audience that you’re a real person with your own perspective on life.
2. Write about something from a new angle. Try taking a very broad topic and narrowing it down, so you can talk about it in a different way.
• For example, there are a lot of parenting blogs out there, but that doesn’t mean there are no new fresh ideas. Think about a way to narrow down the topic of parenting.
• Maybe you want to do a parenting blog that focuses on the funny and relatable parts of parenting. Maybe you want to start a parenting blog that talks about mental health. Take a broad idea (parenting) and make it specific (your take on parenting).
• Using our fishing example, maybe you can use fishing for newbies, fishing for kids, or ice fishing techniques. Whatever you think might make the topic just a bit different than everything else that’s out there.
3. Be very knowledgeable about your niche. Another reason people will choose your blog over someone else’s is if you’re the absolute expert in your field.
• For example, you wouldn’t take financial advice from someone who is bankrupt, and you wouldn’t take parenting advice from someone who doesn’t have any experience with children.
• The more you show people that you know what you’re talking about, the more they will return to your content and share it with others.
Research the Competition
When you think about your blogging niche, you can learn two major things from your competition:
• Are people successfully making money in this niche already?
• How much competition will you have?
Seeing a lot of competition in your given niche is not necessarily a bad thing. If a lot of people are writing about something, it’s a good indication that money can be made through your chosen topic.
If there are multitudes of people writing in your niche, simply ask yourself how you will differentiate yourself from the competition.
To get an idea of who is already writing content for your niche, head over to Google again and do a simple search for your niche. You can try typing in “Best fishing blogs” or “top blogs about fishing” to see what comes up.
You can also simply type in “fishing” and see what blogs are currently at the top of the search results to get an idea of the caliber of competition that already exists.
Keep in mind that other people in your niche can also be helpful to you, and you can be helpful to them. There are opportunities for collaboration and cross-promotion with other like-minded bloggers.
WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?
One of the biggest mistakes that many content creators make is trying to market their brand to the entire world. You won’t be successful when everyone is your target audience.
You’re not even trying to attract everyone that’s interested in your general niche. Think smaller, much smaller (in a good way!)
Let’s say you’re thinking about writing about traveling.
Let’s start by working through a series of questions and thoughts to define who your target audience is:
1. Is your blog going to be a business-to-consumer model or a business-to-business model? There is something to be said for blogs that market themselves to other businesses rather than the average consumer.
• Businesses have a lot more buying power than the average person and therefore might have more opportunities for monetization.
• An example of a business-to-business travel blog could be one that appeals to business travelers.
Your blog would gain interest from traveling employees, but it could also be used to market directly to businesses that consistently send employees for travel.
• An example of a business-to-consumer blog would be one that markets to individuals or families that are traveling. This has a very different feel and marketing strategy than a business-to-business blog would.
2. What area of the world is your focus? Is your travel blog going to feature places all over the world, or will it be more specific like the United States, Korea or Singapore?
Where your travel blog takes you to will attract different people.
3. What geographical part of the world is your target audience? Are you making a travel blog for people who live in the United States or people who live elsewhere?
Your reader’s country of origin would greatly affect where they might travel.
• For example, someone who lives in the United States has a bigger barrier for traveling to Europe, but someone who lives in England could travel to Ireland, Scotland, and other nearby European countries with a much smaller financial burden.
4. What is the average income of your audience? Is your blog for people who are on a budget or those who have a large income and can afford a more luxury-style vacation?
• Depending on the average income of your target audience, you will write vastly different blog posts and partner with very different businesses.
5. Are you marketing to single people or to families? The needs of a traveling family versus a single person will greatly change the type of content you write.
• If you were to write about family travel you might consider things like baby changing stations, nursing mother areas, attractions for kids, discounted rates for families, and many other things that wouldn’t be necessary for a single person traveling.
6. What is the average age of your reader? The energy level of a twenty-year-old might be different than a sixty to seventy-year-old reader.
Their needs, desires, and goals might be very different on a travel excursion. Therefore, the way that you write your blog might work better for a certain demographic of people.
Any time you write content for your audience, it’s very helpful to define who you’re writing to. That way you can understand their pain points, interests, and the type of content that will make them want to keep reading.
In other words, you must monitor and analyse your blog traffic for content planning.
HOW TO GROW YOUR AUDIENCE
Once you’ve defined who you want your target audience to be, the next step is to learn how to attract them to your blog.
Low traffic, low interest, and low income are the biggest reasons why many bloggers give up and abandon their blogs.
Attracting readers can be extremely difficult, and brand-new bloggers can quickly feel defeated when the only people who are reading their blog are some loyal friends and family members.
While there are some bloggers who manage to grow an audience seemingly overnight, most blogs will grow at a steady pace over time.
Typically, with everything done right – search engine optimization, good content generation etc. a well developed blog might experience literally trickling traffic for 6-9 months until which traffic will then pick up … exponentially. The sad news is, many might not “survive” this long and generally 95% will give up.
It’s important not to compare your brand-new blog to one that has been working hard for years to grow your readership. It’s also not helpful to compare your blog to other blogs that have become successful faster than yours.
Changing your strategy can make a big difference in how many readers you can gain for your blog.
Here are some tested ways to grow your blog and develop an audience.
Create a Blog that’s Easy to Navigate
One of your top priorities for blogging is to ensure that your blog is easy for your readers to use. That means having a clean design and easy-to-identify menus. Related blog posts should be linked to each other, so people can find more information without having to deep dive into your archives.
Another important consideration is how your blog will look on mobile devices. The majority of your traffic will probably come from mobile devices rather than desktop computers, so make sure that your blog is mobile-friendly.
Make it Easy to Share Your Posts
People like to share great content, but they’re also busy with their lives. Make it super easy for people to share your posts by providing social share buttons. Encourage your readers to pass your blog posts on to others throughout your writing.
This simple call to action will remind readers that other people in their lives might also benefit from your hard work.
Grow Your Audience Through Social Media
Social media can be a great resource for driving traffic to your blog. At the beginning of social media, it was easier to grow your blogging audience through social platforms, but today it takes a bit of extra work and skill.
Also, consider this: You can also find ways to monetize your social media accounts for additional sources of revenue.
When choosing your social media platforms, consider trying a few to see which ones work the best for your blog. Trying to remain active on a lot of social media platforms will leave you feeling frustrated and your time will run out. Instead, pick the ones that you’re most familiar with and match your blog the most.
For ongoing traffic, Pinterest is often a better fit than Instagram or Facarticle, as they show your posts for a very limited time. Pins that perform well on Pinterest have the potential to be shown to people for months or even years.
Develop a Strong Email Marketing Campaign
Many bloggers find success by growing an email subscriber list. Unlike social media which might only show your content to 10% of your followers, you should have full access to your email subscribers.
You also know that everyone who signs up for your email list is genuinely interested in your content, or they wouldn’t have signed up in the first place.
Write Content that People Want to Read
Everyone’s advice to bloggers is to write exceptional content, but what does that really mean? What kind of content will make you stand out from everyone else in your niche?
Here are some helpful tips for writing content that people will want to read and share:
1. Write evergreen content. You may have heard this term before, but evergreen content is anything that you write that will remain relevant to your readers over time. Things that are momentarily trendy are not examples of evergreen content. Examples of evergreen content include:
• Product reviews
• Common mistakes
• History of
2. Have a personality. Your writing needs to convey important information to your readers, but it’s helpful if you also share something of yourself or distinguish your writing from other people’s.
3. Don’t share the same information. If people read enough blogs in any given niche, they’ll start reading the same advice over and over again. Try to give your readers something new that will help them in a different or more thorough way.
4. Write in a way that’s easy to understand. Most people searching the internet are looking for information that’s easy to find and understand. Make your blog posts scannable with lots of short paragraphs, headings, and descriptions. Use good grammar, but don’t worry about writing on a collegiate level. Keep it simple.
It can’t be overstated that understanding SEO (search engine optimization) is key to getting ongoing consistent traffic to your blog. Social media posts will fade away, but organic traffic from search engines is gold.
Consider these quick tips:
1. Do keyword research. Before you start writing anything for your blog, make sure that people are searching for it. You might have a great idea, but if you choose the wrong wording, you might miss out on a lot of traffic.
• You can also spend a lot of time writing about things you think are awesome, but if people aren’t searching for them, your chances of driving traffic to your site are slim.
2. Write quality content. Google often refers to “EAT” as a guidepost for content creators. “EAT” stands for “expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness” and they are three markers that Google uses to rank content in their search engines.
3. Longform content can help. Ten thousand words of fluff won’t help you in a search engine result, but a blog post that has more content of rich helpful information than the competition will likely rank higher than those that have a few short points.
4. Strive to get snippets. Snippets are Google’s answers to very specific questions that people ask in their search engine. These tend to do well in attracting traffic and don’t require long-form content.
• When you write a blog post, try including a section that answers frequently asked questions about the subject you’re writing about. One of your answers might end up in a snippet.
5. Adding video content can help. Another way that you can boost your ranking in a search engine is to include video content in your blog post. Videos that you have on YouTube that are added to your blog posts can improve your SEO.
YOUR BLOGGING BUSINESS IS READY TO LAUNCH
Starting a blog is easy, but creating a blog that can make money is a much harder task. Now that you’ve read through this article, you’re well on your way to knowing how to create a blog that brings in revenue.
As you’re thinking of blogging business ideas, remember to choose something that you’re passionate about. You’re going to be spending a lot of time on this topic, so ensure that it’s something you will want to write about.
Choose something that others are also passionate about and a niche that has clear revenue streams available.
Find your unique voice and style and offer something new to the blogging community.
Armed with this information, your 5-figure money making side hustling blog is just a few clicks away!