One of the best ways to earn some extra income online is by creating a blog. While many people still view blogs as a hobby or online diary, that couldn’t be farther from the truth!
The blogging world has been huge since the early days of the Internet. Even today, it continues to flourish. Despite all of the other forms of new media that are popping up, people still enjoy reading blogs. With all that popularity comes plenty of ways to earn money. Some of the most-visited blogs on the web are raking in millions of dollars a year.
Of course, every successful blog has to start somewhere! Creating your first blog can be a daunting task, but we’re here to get you through it. With this guide, you’ll learn how to start a blog, grow your audience, and explore monetization opportunities.
Choose a Niche/Topic for Your Blog
First things first, let’s talk about the topic of your new online blog. One of the most important things you can do is to choose a viable niche to write about.
There’s only one thing separating a professional blog from a public online journal: a defined topic to guide your content.
While you could easily cover multiple topics in one blog, having a cohesive niche that’s attractive to readers is paramount.
Find Something You’re Passionate About
The biggest mistake you can make is writing about something you don’t personally care about. After all, your goal is to start blogging as a career, right? So, why write about something that you find mind-numbingly dull?
Internet users are not blind. They’re savvier than you think. If you’re not passionate about what you’re writing, they’ll know. In most cases, web users will go to a different site if they can tell that there’s no fire behind your words.
The best way to start a passion-driven blog is to write about one of your hobbies or interests. If you have a particular niche that you’re experienced in, that works, too! Not only can you provide some new insight into the particular subject you’re writing about, but you can also build some credibility among readers.
Viability and Interest
When it comes to finding the right blogging niche, many new writers find themselves searching for that “elusive topic” that no one has written about.
Let’s face it; if it exists in the real world, there’s a blog about it on the web.
There’s a very slim chance that you’re going to come up with some innovative topics that no one has written about. Even if you could think of something unique, why would you want to create a blog about it?
Being successful in the blogging world is all about gaining an audience. There needs to be some organic interest in the topic you’re writing about. Not only that, but it pays to have some competitors. You need to network within the blogging community in order to attract readers. If you’re writing about something no one else does, how are you going to do that?
When you’re narrowing down your niche topics, here are some things you can do to check viability.
- Use Google analytics to determine the popularity of keywords
- Perform simple searches to see how many competitors there are
- Use Twitter to see how many followers the topic has
- Take advantage of Google to see if there are ads related to the subject
All of those simple tricks can be used to see how much interest already exists before you commit to a niche.
Choose the Right Blogging Platform
Now that you’ve found the perfect niche, it’s time to start thinking about the technical side of how to start a blog. Your blogging platform is where you will be organizing posts, publishing content, and more. There are plenty of great free platforms that make blogging for beginners a breeze.
While they’re great to get things up and running quickly, you’ll need to move towards more flexible options if you want full control over your digital space. This includes monetization efforts.
WordPress is, without a doubt, the very best platform to start a blog. At its core, WordPress is a content management system. Without getting too much into the technical weeds, it’s a versatile platform that lets you create any type of website you want.
In fact, more than a third of all active sites on the Internet use WordPress. This doesn’t just apply to blogs. WordPress can also be used for everything from corporate to e-commerce sites.
It’s an open-sourced platform. Thus, you can install useful plugins, choose beautiful themes, and more. WordPress, the platform, is self-hosted. We’ll get into that a bit later.
Choose a Good Domain for Your Blog
Next up, you’ll need to choose a domain. The domain is going to be the main identifying characteristic of your online blog. Think of it as the address of your digital arena.
Domains are used to help Internet users easily identify sites. Behind the scenes, blogs are all given a numbered address, also known as the IP address. It’s comprised of a series of numbers that are impossible to remember. Domain names act as the front-end sign that your visitors will see and use to navigate to your site.
The Importance of a Good Domain
One of the most important blogging tips we can give you is to choose a good domain. It’s the very first thing people will see about your site before they visit. Think about the last time you discovered a new blog.
You probably saw a link on social media. Or, you might have found it on a search engine result page after performing a quick search. Either way, you took a look at the domain name and made some snap decisions. Most Internet users will see a domain and think:
- Does this site offer the content I’m looking for?
- Is it a reliable authority on the subject?
- Does it appear to be professional?
If the domain name meets those criteria, they click through and read your content.
Creating a Memorable Domain
There are many different ways to choose a domain. Here are a few tips:
- Include the topic or keyword
- Include your blog’s name
- Defining your audience
- Tell people why they should visit
- Keep it short
Ultimately, your domain name is going to be a huge part of your site’s branding. It’s going to be your blog’s main identifier, so take some extra time to choose the right one.
Registering Your Domain
You have a couple of different options on how you want to manage your domain. If you want the cheapest option possible, you can go with a free blogging platform and get a subdomain at no cost to you. This means that the platform’s name will always be attached to your blog’s domain. For example, if you have a Tumblr blog, your address would be Domain.tumblr.com.
Those are great for beginners. However, we always recommend registering your domain name. Doing so gives you ownership of that domain for a year. Registration fees are pretty affordable. Though, pricing does vary based on the extension you choose.
The main perk of registering your domain is that it looks more professional. You can have your own “.com” address with no company name attached. It gives your blog more credibility. Plus, it’s easier for your visitors to remember!
Find a Good Web Hosting Provider
If you want to make money blogging, you’re going to have to spend a little bit to make sure that your visitors are getting the best experience possible. One area where a modest investment goes a long way is web hosting.
Essentially, web hosting is where your site is going to be stored. Your pay a small monthly fee to store your site’s data onto a hosting provider’s servers. Visitors will then connect to those servers to gain access to your site.
Web hosting providers are a dime a dozen these days. Many companies even offer “blogging for beginners” plans. They’re cheap, easy to use, and offer more than enough resources to get you started.
Here’s just a shortlist of some great hosting providers worth checking out:
- A2 Hosting
Things to Consider When Choosing a Hosting Provider
Because there are so many providers out there, it can be a bit overwhelming choosing the right one. Truth is, not all providers offer the same level of service.
It’s important to do your due diligence! Take a look through all of the available features the company provides. Read some real reviews made by paying customers and find a service that meets your needs. Here are some of the most important things to look for in a provider:
- WordPress compatibility
- One-click installs
- User-friendly interface and management system
- Built-in security features
- Ample storage space and bandwidth
- Good performance features
- Solid uptime ratings
- Reliable customer service
Install WordPress and Set Up Your Blog
Before you can make your first blog post, you need to install the WordPress platform. WordPress makes this pretty easy to do. If you went with a hosting provider with one-click installs, the process is even simpler!
First, create your WordPress login credentials. Most providers these days have a simple setup wizard to guide you through the process. It allows you to choose which content management system you want to use. After clicking on WordPress, you can create your credentials and connect it to your domain name. At this point, the platform should be installed on your site.
In your web browser, type in your new blog’s address with one of the following extensions tacked on:
For example, if your domain is “MyDomain,” you would type “MyDomain.com/wp-admin” into your browser.
This brings up the WordPress login page. After entering your credentials, you should be taken to the WordPress dashboard. This is how you know that WordPress was installed successfully!
Choose an Attention-Grabbing Theme for Your Blog
Here’s the fun part of creating a blog. WordPress themes can help you customize the look of your site and make it stand out from the crowd. They’re easy to use and don’t require any coding knowledge whatsoever.
The best part is that there are thousands of blogs you can choose from! You can go with a free option to save some cash or spend a little to get a premium theme. Regardless of the option you choose, selecting a theme is pretty simple.
Installing an Official WordPress Theme
In your WordPress Dashboard, navigate to the “Appearance” menu. It’s located on the left sidebar. Then, click on the “Themes” submenu.
Clicking on the menu brings up a new page in your dashboard. Press the button labeled “Add New.”
Now, you can use the search bar to find the perfect theme. Try looking for themes that match your blogging niche. Alternatively, you can find an option that’s clean, minimalistic, and simple.
Once you find it, just click on the “Install” button.
Installing a Third-Party Theme
Third-party themes are available everywhere. You can get them from big-name web development brands and download it to your computer.
Once that’s done, go back to the “Themes” page and click on “Add New.”
This time, click on “Upload Theme.” Choose the file from your computer directory and click “Install Now.”
Activating Your Theme
After you’ve installed your WordPress themes, you can see how it looks with your site. Just go back to the “Themes” page under “Appearance.”
You’ll see a “Live Preview” option and an “Activate” option next to each theme you have. Pressing on the “Activate” button will transform your site and make the theme live to all visitors.
Some Essential Plugins for Your Blog
The beauty of WordPress is that you can customize so many aspects of your site from one place. In addition to adjusting the looks of your blog, WordPress allows you to change security, performance, and more through the use of plugins.
One of our blogging tips is to take advantage of those plugins. You can search through the web to find reputable plugins and install them onto your site with just a few clicks. Here are some important kinds of plugins you should consider getting.
The World Wide Web is a dangerous place. Hackers, malware, and privacy threats run rampant. A security plugin can help to make your blog a safer place to browse. Not only does it help keep you safe, but it also reduces the chances of issues for your visitors.
Popular Security Plugins:
- iThemes Security
- Succri Security
- 6Scan Security
Caching is creating temporary storage for site files so that they are loaded up faster. Performance is a huge factor in SEO rankings. Plus, web users expect blazing fast connection speeds. Installing a cache can help improve performance significantly.
Popular Caching Plugins:
- WP Super Cache
- WP Rocket
- W3 Total Cache
- Hyper Cache
Good SEO is the key to gaining traffic. Search Engine Optimization makes your blog more visible on search engine results pages. Plugins can take care of a lot of the brunt work and make it easy to improve your rankings.
Popular SEO Plugins:
- Yoast SEO
Social Media Plugins
What better way to gain organic traffic through social media likes and shares? A social media plugin will put those share buttons on full display.
Popular Social Media Plugins:
- Social Warfare
- Social Snap
Sometimes, good old-fashioned email campaigns are all you need to keep traffic flowing. An email plugin makes it easy to collect information so that you can keep in touch with visitors.
Popular Email Plugins:
- Convert Pro
- WP Subscribe Pro
- Optin Monster
- Thrive Leads
Data Backup Plugins
The last thing you want to deal with is losing all of your data! Catastrophic failures can corrupt data on the server end, leaving you with no options but to start over. That is, however, unless you have a backup plugin.
Popular Data Backup Plugins:
Write and Publish Your First Blog Post to Make it Live
Finally, we’ve come to the writing part!
After your site is all ready and good to go, you can start creating blog posts and making them live for viewers.
Creating a post is very easy on WordPress. Just navigate to the sidebar, click on “Posts,” and select “Add New.”
The post editor for WordPress is very user-friendly. It’s similar to a traditional text editor. You don’t even need to know basic HTML to get your blog looking good. After your post is done, just hit “Publish” and your content is pushed to the masses!
Content Blogging Tips
To help your site thrive, you need to continually pump out high-quality content. It can be a bit tough in the beginning finding topics to write about. Get creative and create posts that your readers want to take a look at. Before you know it, you’ll constantly find inspiration!
Here are some useful tips on how to keep your content fresh and exciting.
- Write relevant content
- Use keywords to find new topics
- Find new angles and point of views
- Stay on a schedule
- Invest in grammar and spell-checking apps
- Proofread everything
- Respond to comments and gather inspiration
- Take advantage of photos and artwork
Monetize Your Blog
After you gain some decent traffic, you can make money blogging. There are several ways to do this. Some of the most successful blogs combine methods to create a nice stream of passive income.
The great thing about blogging as a career is that you can continue to earn money long after you’ve created a post. As long as you still have traffic, you can continue to earn revenue for many years to come.
Affiliate marketing is great if your blog involves reviewing products or creating tutorials for your audience. Basically, you provide links that your audience can click on. These links lead to a merchant website where they can provide contact information or purchase a product. For every lead or sale, you get a commission.
There are tons of great affiliate programs out there. You can partner with Amazon or work with individual companies. There are even plugins to help you generate links automatically and track your commissions.
Another option is to display ads on your blog. Simple banner ads, contextual ads, video ads, and more generate income based on your page views. Because no sale has to be made, most ad networks pay a set rate for every thousand impressions.
Ad networks provide a lot of flexibility. You can often customize ads to fit your page or choose digital marketing campaigns that cater to your audience directly.
Webinars, eBooks, and Digital Products
Many bloggers also offer digital products that their visitors can purchase. Whether or not this is a viable option depends on the niche you’re in. However, there are fun and creative ideas for nearly every topic out there. You’re already providing a valuable service to your visitors, so why not branch out and offer something a little extra?
There you have it! Use this guide to start your very own blog.
Many people dream of the day that they can quit their day jobs and create a successful blog. Unfortunately, most of those people never get off the ground. You’re already taking an important step by learning more about what it takes to start a blog.
The best advice we can give is to just do it! Start thinking about topics and take those crucial first steps. Be vigilant and dedicate time to creating the best blog that you can. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to monetize your blog and start earning some passive income.
So, what are you waiting for? Go get started!