Starting a blog can be both a rewarding and lucrative venture that opens exciting opportunities. Through blogging, you can establish yourself as a credible expert in your field, earn a part-time or full-time income, and connect with like-minded people who share your interests and passions.
In this article, we’ll explain how to start a blog and make money no matter your experience level.
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What Is a Blog?
In the early days of the internet, blogging was more akin to journaling. Some of the earliest blogs were used as a way to chronicle someone’s personal viewpoints and experiences.
Blogging has since evolved to become much more than a form of digital record-keeping. Nowadays, both businesses and individuals alike create blogs to share information and to bring in sales or commissions.
7 Reasons You Might Want To Start a Blog
There are several reasons to start a blog. You could be looking to start a blog to try a fun hobby, generate some side income, build a community or for any of the following reasons:
1. To Document What Happens to You
The word “blog” is actually a shortened form of “weblog,” a relic from its origins as a way to document what was happening. You may want to create a blog to have a space or a way to save your thoughts and photos in one centralized place.
2. To Have a Creative Outlet
Blogging encompasses writing, editing, and to some extent, design. This makes it a very creative pursuit. If you’re looking for a relatively low-cost way to express yourself, blogging is a great option.
3. To Share Your Thoughts and Experiences
No one else is you—which means you have thoughts and experiences that are uniquely your own. A blog is a platform through which you can share your thoughts with others, have discussions and build genuine connections while doing so.
4. To Connect With People
Blogging is an excellent way to connect with others, whether they be other bloggers, content creators or your intended audience. Blogging opens doors to meet people that you otherwise may not have come into contact with. The blogging community is highly active on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Reddit.
5. To Get Better at Writing and Digital Marketing
Blogging is a craft. If you’re looking to brush up on your writing skills, writing daily or weekly for a blog could be beneficial.
Similarly, running a blog takes a lot of work behind the scenes. Bloggers are often their own webmasters and social media marketers in addition to content writers. If you want to build skills in those areas, starting your own blog will allow you to gain valuable experience.
6. To Build Your Brand and Credibility
Creating a blog can help you build your brand and establish you as a credible expert in your niche or industry. Your blog content can demonstrate how knowledgeable or experienced you are on certain subjects.
7. To Bring In Sales or an Income
Blogging can be used to bring in sales—whether that’s for your existing business or an entirely new one. According to Indeed, bloggers bring in an average annual income of $37,073.
Misconceptions About Blogs
You don’t need to be famous to start a profitable blog. Anyone can blog, no matter their experience. Here are the most common misconceptions people hold about starting a blog:
Blogging Is Expensive
You can start a blog for free, as long as you have an internet connection. Even if you decide to pay for a custom website, domain name or photography, these costs are relatively nominal compared to the amount of money you can potentially generate from your content.
Blogging Is a Dying Medium
Blogging is not dead or dying. It is more saturated now than it was a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a successful one. Building a profitable blog nowadays may take more effort and initial investment than it would have if you started earlier but that shouldn’t necessarily dissuade you from starting one.
Every Blog Post Needs To Be Perfect
You should publish blog articles that you’re proud of, but don’t let the fear of your content not being “good” enough or “perfect” enough hold you back. Blogs are editable, so if you find you’re not satisfied with something after it’s gone live, you can always go back and change it.
You Need To Have an Existing Following To Start a Blog
You don’t need to be a celebrity or existing social media personality to start a blog. In fact, many now-famous bloggers, including Joy Cho, Carly Riordan and Blair Eadie, were not famous until after they started blogging.
Blogging Is Easy
Blogging may seem easy in theory: write words, press post, done. But in reality, unless you have a staff or have outsourced the marketing or webmaster aspects of running a blog, you’ll be spending time on more than just writing.
Depending on your niche or goals, you also might need to spend considerable time researching your topic or creating complementary assets such as photos or videos. Blogging is not necessarily easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable or rewarding.
Blogging Is a Fast Way To Earn Money
While it’s true that blogging can be used to earn an income, it’s not something that will help you “get rich quick.” You need to build an audience that wants to purchase items from you before you can start earning any money.
12 Steps To Start a Blog
If you’re ready to start a blog but don’t know where to start, these steps will set you up for success, regardless of your ultimate goals.
1. Define Your Topic or Niche
Finding a niche can be tough or feel limiting, but will help you build stronger credibility in the long term. You can certainly talk about more than one subject, but make sure your main focus is consistent and specific enough to draw readers in and encourage them to keep reading your work.
2. Do Competitor Research
After deciding what you want to write about, do some initial research to understand who the other key players are in your space. Is your niche already fairly crowded? Or are very few people writing about your intended topic?
No matter the case, doing your research beforehand will help you understand how you can create content that’s better than or different from what’s already out there.
3. Define Your Audience
In addition to nailing down your niche, you should also consider your audience. Who are you going to be blogging for?
Having the answer to this question will help you write articles that are valuable and relevant to your readers. Try to determine the following information about your ideal reader before diving right into writing:
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What do they do for work?
- What other forms of media do they already consume?
- Do they read any other blogs?
- What do they do in their free time?
- What issues or problems do they face on a regular basis?
- What do they wish they were more of an expert in?
4. Plan Your First Blog Post
Once you’ve nailed down your niche and desired audience, you can start planning your first blog article. Again, this may require some research to ensure you’re creating something that your audience will want to read.
As a starting point, type your desired topic idea into a search engine to see what kinds of articles appear in the results. If you find that the existing results don’t accurately or aptly explain the topic, that’s a great indicator that you’ll be able to write something better.
5. Name Your Blog
Every blog needs a name. You’ll want to ensure that your blog’s name makes sense given your niche or brand, is memorable/catchy, and is easy and quick enough to type.
If you have a name in mind, scour the web and social media to make sure that no one else is already using that name. If your desired name is already taken, you can either create a new one or contact the website owner to see if they are still actively using the name that you want. If you really want to protect your assets, you can even trademark your business name.
6. Create Branding Elements for Your Blog
In addition to a name, you’ll need to select a font and color palette for your blog that you’ll incorporate once you’ve built your website. You can do this yourself or outsource it to a graphic designer.
If you want a custom logo for your blog, you can design one with a free platform such as Canva, or work with a designer.
7. Claim a Domain Name
After settling on a name for your blog, you’re ready to select a domain name. You can check to see if a domain is available by typing in your desired domain name in your browser and see if a live website appears. Most domain registrars will also have a tool to help you find available domains.
When you’ve chosen a domain that’s available, you’ll need to pay for the rights to use it through a domain registrar. Owning and setting up a domain is a separate process from selecting a hosting site and web builder, which you’ll do next.
8. Choose a Hosting Site
Choosing a web host is an essential step in creating your blog. Without a host, you won’t be able to build a website; a host is what lets you effectively “rent” a presence on the internet.
Some platforms will host your blog for free, but in exchange, they’ll tack on their brand name to your web domain, e.g., thefancyblog.squarespace.com or thefancyblog.wordpress.com. In these examples, to remove the “.squarespace” or “.wordpress” from the URL, you would need to pay for web hosting in addition to buying the domain name thefancyblog.com.
Web hosting can cost anywhere from 50 cents to $10 per month depending on how much speed and storage you want to purchase. There are dozens of different hosting options out there, but we recommend selecting one of the best web host services that fits your budget and needs.
9. Build Your Website
You can build your website from scratch or by using a template or theme—it all depends on your budget and desires. A no-code web builder, such as Blogger or WordPress, will allow you to design and build a beautiful website even if you have no prior web development experience. Some templates or themes are free, but others may run you anywhere from $10 to $200.
Certain web builders allow for more customization and flexibility than others. Be sure to read the specs of each website builder you’re interested in to understand what’s possible when designing your blog.
10. Upload and Publish Your First Article
After you’ve built your website and are satisfied with its look and feel, it’s time to upload your first article. You can type and edit your content right from the back end of your website, however, it’s wiser to create all your content in a separate, cloud-based editor such as Google Docs. That way, you’ll have a secure backup of your blog content in case your site experiences any technical issues.
Before you hit publish, it’s a good idea to preview your blog post to see if it displays exactly how you want it to. You can always go back and edit it later, though, if you want to change or update anything.
11. Promote Your Blog
Once you’ve published content to your blog, you can share your links. Social media is a popular and effective way to distribute your blog content. You can share links on your existing social channels, or create new accounts to complement your blog.
12. Track Your Analytics
After you’ve published and publicized your blog, it’s important to track metrics such as views, visitors and clicks. Your hosting platform may have a default analytics dashboard built in, but we strongly recommend connecting your blog to Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free tool that will allow you to track your traffic as well as important demographic and conversion details.
You’ll need to use your analytics to earn brand sponsorships and/or advertising revenue.
How To Make Money With a Blog
Bloggers can make money using a multitude of different strategies. Some require more effort than others. Most blog income streams rely on precarious conditions, such as search engine algorithms and brand budgets. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you diversify your revenue by choosing multiple methods.
Bloggers often team up with brands to create sponsored content. This usually entails having to review a specific product or incorporate a product mention into your regular content.
Brand partnerships can be one-off deals or turn into long-term relationships based on your content’s performance and mutual interest.
Advertising networks will pay you to either run ads on your blog or when someone clicks on an ad, or both. Certain networks, such as Mediavine, require you to have a pretty hefty amount of monthly views (50,000) in order to run ads, whereas others, such as Google AdSense, have no minimum view count requirements.
Affiliate Links or Codes
Bloggers can join what are known as affiliate networks. Affiliate networks allow you to generate unique links to products that you talk about on your blog to help you earn a commission when someone makes a purchase. Amazon Associates and LTK are two common examples.
Affiliate codes work similarly to links in that you earn a small commission when someone makes a purchase. Brands may give you a unique code for your readers to enter at checkout when they shop online, and you can promote this code throughout your content to drive sales.
If you want to sell products without the logistical hassle of coordinating packing and shipping, digital products might be a better fit. Digital products are a relatively low-effort, inexpensive way to create products that your audience wants to buy. Most digital products can be accessed or downloaded by your customers immediately after purchase.
Some examples of digital products you can sell include but are not limited to:
- Printables. These can be anything from calendars and lesson plans to budgeting sheets.
- Online courses. You can use a platform such as Teachable to create more detailed lessons or tutorials than what your blog provides.
- E-books. An e-book is usually a self-written, self-published title that comes in PDF form.
Your blog can be used to sell physical products, too—whether you already sell things on another channel or want to create entirely new ones.
You can insert links to any existing products you sell into your blog posts, or you can create merchandise that aligns with your content and audience. For example, if you have a fashion blog, you can sell items such as T-shirts, hats or tote bags with your blog’s logo.
Premium Content or Memberships
Blogs are free to read, but you can put exclusive content behind a paywall to create an additional revenue stream. Dedicated readers or fans will then need to pay for access to read it.
Patreon and Buy Me a Coffee are two examples of platforms that help creators host subscriber-exclusive content. You can also use these platforms to create memberships, where your readers pay a recurring monthly fee to access premium content.
Consulting or Coaching
Your blog is a great source of free information, but your readers might be interested in learning more from you. If you start getting requests for specific advice or guidance, that’s a good sign that you’d be able to earn money through one-on-one consulting or coaching sessions.