So you want to learn how to start a blog and make money? You’re in the right place! Many people are now starting blogs for the purpose of making some extra money online, and that is a completely viable reason for wanting to start your own website.
Who doesn’t want the opportunity of making money on their own terms? Or making a passive income every month?
Starting a blog can seem daunting, and many take months before taking the first steps to starting their own website. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be difficult, it doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to be scary! If I can start a blog (with my terrible technical abilities!) so can you.
In this guide to how to start a blog and make money I am going to take you through the step by step process of how to set up a self-hosted blog, how to grow your website traffic, and how to make money blogging.
But first, a few common questions about how to make money blogging…
How do beginner blogs make money?
Since you’re reading this post, you probably want to start making money from your blog straight away. This is entirely possible, especially if you have social media accounts with some followers. You can start to make money straight away using affiliate marketing. Getting your affiliate strategy right is a key part of learning how to start a blog, and make money from it sooner rather than later.
Affiliate marketing is when you recommend someone to a service or product, and if they go on to make a purchase, you make an affiliate commission. There are several affiliate networks which you can sign up to, which we go into more detail on later in this post.
How do I start a profitable blog from scratch?
Starting a profitable blog from scratch is actually easier than you might think. As long as you carefully choose a niche topic (find out how to decide on your niche below), and build a solid foundation on which to grow your blog, it will become profitable in time.
This post will take you through the full process from start to finish of how to create a profitable blog from scratch. Even if you have no prior experience.
How much money can you make from blogging?
The sky is the limit when it comes to making money from blogging. The amount of effort you put in to creating and maintaining your blog will directly impact the amount of money that you make from blogging.
Put simply, the more effort you put into blogging, the more money you will get out. This includes working smartly to make sure that you put down the correct foundations to give your blog the best head start.
It is entirely possible to make a full time income from a blog if this is your main goal. And if your goal is to make an extra £50, £100, or £500 a month this is completely possible too. Luckily, you’re reading the guide to How To Start A Blog And Make Money- so you’re going to be covered either way!
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How To Start A Blog And Make Money
So let’s start with the basics- how to set up the foundation for a profitable blog. All the technical stuff you need to know to set up your blog, the best places to host your website, and how to set your blog up for success.
Decide on your niche
Before you start your blog, you need to decide on your niche. Usually, the narrower your niche, the better your blog will perform because you will have less competition, and your site will become a source of expert information on the niche topic.
For example, Thrifty Londoner is in the money blog niche. However, that niche has been narrowed by the fact that this website is about money AND London specifically.
Your niche needs to be something that you are passionate about, have hundreds of content ideas about, and a topic that you could talk about all day. You need to enjoy writing and researching about your niche- otherwise your blog will start to feel like a chore!
This is the most important part of starting a blog- without the right niche, your blog might not endure the test of time- especially if you don’t love what you are writing about! Burn out is a serious thing you want to avoid!
Do I need to go self-hosted?
If you want to make a substantial income from blogging, you must go self-hosted. Being self-hosted means that you buy a ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ domain name (more on that below!), and then pay to ‘host’ your website with a dedicated provider.
This gives you peace of mind because when you are self-hosted, because you own your website outright. No one can take your website away from you.
However if you create a site with a platform like Wix, Blogger, Squarespace or many others, you are not in control as you do not own your website. If the platform suddenly decides to shut down, or decides to close your account- there’s not much you can do. All your hard work is at risk of being lost.
For brand sponsorships it also looks more professional to have your own domain name, and you can also run ads on your own website too. These are two key ways in which bloggers can monetise their websites, so you definitely want a self-hosted site if you want to make money from blogging.
Scroll down to see how you set up a self-hosted website.
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Purchase a domain name
Once you have decided on your niche, it’s time to purchase your domain name. Your domain name is your website name. For example, this domain is thriftylondoner.com. Before you choose your domain name, check to make sure that the name isn’t already taken, and that the name is also available on social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. You can use a free tool like Namecheckr which will show you at a glance if your name is already taken or not.
One of the cheapest and most straightforward sites to purchase your domain name from is Namecheap. Type in your domain name idea, and see if it’s available. Make sure that your domain name ends in .co.uk or .com, as these look the most credible. I’ve added an example here:
Your domain name should only be around £5-9 per year on Namecheap, you don’t want to pay much more than this for your domain name.
Set up your web hosting
We touched on self-hosting a little earlier, and SiteGround is one of the best web hosts out there for anyone looking to start blogging. After trying out another host before SiteGround, I can confirm that they stand out among the rest as offering a first class hosting service at an affordable rate.
There are several different hosting packages with SiteGround– and there is a package to suit everyone’s circumstances and budget. I would recommend SiteGround every time, because not once has my website gone down whilst they have been hosting my site (and I can’t say the same for other providers!).
I have personally opted for the GrowBig plan because I have several websites hosted with SiteGround. It’s affordable, and comes with the added extras that you see in the screen grab above which you don’t get with other hosts.
Set Up WordPress
So when you start hosting your website with SiteGround, you’ll also need to install WordPress. Luckily, SiteGround prompts you to set this up, so it’s a really hassle free experience.
Not to be confused with the free site platform (where your domain name will be .wordpress.com!), WordPress is the backend of your blog that most people will use to make changes to their website, upload their posts and more.
This is the interface that you will use day-to-day to manage content and the overall look and feel of your blog. A very much essential tool for blogging!
Plugins are a software component that add a specific feature to your website. In other words, they enable you to customise your website in certain ways. For example, you may have noticed that on most websites there are pop ups which say ‘enable cookies,’ you can activate a plugin on your site that makes this message pop up.
There are thousands of different plugins, but this is a list of plugins that you’d be wise to install to get started:
- Askimet Anti-Scam
- GDPR Cookie Consent
- Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
- Insert Headers And Footers
- Ultimate Category Excluder
- Updraft Plus
- Yoast SEO
There are a ton of other plugins which you may wish to add over time, but these are some great ones to get started with.
You also need a pop up to ensure that your readers consent to Cookies. This is covered when you activate the GDPR Cookie Consent plugin.
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Designing Your Blog
After completing the basic set up of your blog, it’s time for the fun stuff! You can move onto designing your blog with a logo, theme, and colour scheme.
Choosing your theme
There are hundreds of themes available, and when you first start out you’ll want to take some time to select a free theme which is aesthetically pleasing, and compliments the content on your blog.
You can pay for themes which have additional benefits such as increased site speed and premium design, but you might want to try out a free theme to begin with. You can always swap to a paid theme at a later date.
While you are choosing your theme, it’s also a great idea to have a think about what colour scheme you would like your blog to be. You can continue this colour scheme throughout your blog, logo and any other associated platforms.
You can customise your theme by going to the ‘appearances’ tab on your dashboard, and then playing around with colours, fonts, placement of text and so on.
Categories, pages and menus
Another essential page you’ll need is an ‘About’ page, this should also have your contact details- so make sure you set up a new email address specifically for your website. Aim to write a little about yourself, what your blog is about, and any credentials that you may have.
The next thing to think about is your categories- aim to have around 3-4 categories for your blog. For example, I have Make Money, Save Money, Lifestyle and Free Things To Do In London. This will also help you to think about the types of content you would like to include on your site.
Your menu is then what appears on the top menu bar of your homepage- this is what people will click onto to see more posts in each category. In your menu bar you want to include your About page, and each of your categories. You can edit your menu under the ‘appearances’ tab, and it should look something a little like this…
Creating your logo
Your logo is a key part of your new brand that you are creating. One of the best sites to create your logo on is Canva. There is no need to pay someone to create a logo for you when you are just starting out- save a bit of money and make your logo yourself!
There is a free version of Canva, but you can opt to sign up for the 30 day free trial of Canva Pro, which is great for creating logos as it gives you access to more illustrations, templates imagery, and range of fonts. You can also create a transparent background using Canva Pro which is really helpful too.
If you really would prefer not to use Canva to make the logo yourself, you could instead try using Fiverr where you can get an inexpensive logo made for you at an affordable price within a few days.
Using widgets to customise your theme
You might be thinking- what on earth is a widget? Yes, it sounds like another piece of jargon. Widgets are essentially little drag and drop boxes which you can use to customise your site. The box will serve a purpose of some kind.
For example, on your website you might want to add a search bar- you can use a widget and drag it to your side bar section, and it will add a search bar right where you want it to!
If you head to the ‘appearances’ tab on your dashboard (the same area that you use to adjust your theme), you can click on ‘widgets’ to move these around and customise your website.
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How To Grow Your Blog
So with the set up and customisation out of the way- now you need to think about how to grow your blog! The first thing you need to think about is the content- that is why people will come to read your blog, after all.
As you prepare your blog for launch, have around 10 posts already written that you can launch with so that any visitors to your blog have something to read and share. Ideally these posts will be around 1,000 words in length, and be thoroughly researched.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
You might have already heard of something called SEO. We want to optimise our posts so that they have the optimum chance of reaching page 1 of Google when someone searches for a topic that our blog post covers.
Ranking highly in Google search results means that you are more likely to get more visitors to your blog.
This is where the Yoast plugin comes in handy- use the plugin to add your key words (the words you are trying to rank for) and make sure that Yoast gives you a green light to confirm your post is optimised for those key words.
There are entire courses, books and resources dedicated to SEO and key word research, so this is an area you might want to spend some additional time on to ensure that your blog is properly optimised for SEO.
It’s a great idea to have specific, Twitter and Facebook accounts alongside your blog- people love to see the face behind the website, and this is an opportunity for you to build a regular audience. This will in turn drive traffic to your website.
Another reason to be on social media is of course the opportunity for sponsored posts- being able to offer sponsored social media posts alongside blog posts is another opportunity for you to make money. (But more on that later!)
Although Pinterest is also classed as a social media platform, it deserves its own mention because it can drive traffic to your website in a completely different way.
Pinterest acts like a search engine, and when you create pins for your new posts, you can end up driving a whole lot of traffic to your site- even if your site is completely new! To avoid Pinterest taking up too much of your time, you can use a scheduling tool like Tailwind to schedule your pins in advance.
Just like with SEO, there are a ton of courses and resources on how to use Pinterest- I completed the Pinterest with Ell course which is incredible and tells you everything you need to know at how to drive traffic to your blog with Pinterest. I would highly recommend taking this course if you’d like to use Pinterest as a way to drive more traffic to your blog.
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How To Monetise Your Blog
Finally, the section you’ve been waiting for in learning how to start a blog and make money. How can you monetise your blog? There are several different ways to monetise your blog, and it’s a good idea to aim for a mixture of income streams to prevent yourself from relying on one particular strategy.
When you use an affiliate link, you are promoting a company in exchange for a commission when anyone makes a sale. For example, if you sign up to be an affiliate for your favourite perfume, you might receive a 5% commission every time someone makes a purchase through your affiliate link.
There are lots of different affiliate networks such as Awin, Tradedoubler and CJ Affiliate. These networks all have lots of different companies on their books, and you can then apply to be an affiliate of these companies.
Some brands or services will have their own standalone affiliate schemes, so you can always do a quick Google search before you promote something to see whether they have a scheme worth promoting.
The great thing about affiliate marketing, is that it allows you to start making money from your blog straight away- even if you have a small audience on social media, or a small amount of traffic from Pinterest, you can start making money!
Sponsored blog posts and social media posts are another way that bloggers make an income. Usually, you will start to be approached for sponsored content by brands and PR firms once your blog is fairly established. This is why it’s super important to have a contact page with your email address so that brands can easily get in touch with you.
You might wish to combine a blog post and social media post together as a campaign- and you can charge accordingly. The amount that you charge for sponsored content will depend on your blog traffic, your social media followers, and your suitability for the campaign.
Don’t worry if the sponsored posts don’t come rolling in straight away- building a reputation within your niche takes time, hard work and patience. In the meantime, you can join Facebook groups like Blogger Opportunities and Official UK Bloggers where people post sponsored opportunities which you can apply to directly.
Once your blog becomes very established, you can start placing ads on your blog. When you have 50,000 sessions per month, you can apply to one of the best ad agencies around, Mediavine. They have a reputation for being the agency that pays the most for advertising on blogs.
There are other agencies that you can apply to with less than 50,000 sessions, but you are unlikely to earn a large amount of money from these. In fact, many bloggers decide not to run ads because they slow down their website, and the money they gain from their ads isn’t worth it.
There are a crazy number of other ways to make money from your blog- you can sell products, coaching and services through your blog which are all things you may want to consider once you become an established blogger.
Top Tips For New Bloggers
When you’re starting out learning how to start a blog AND make money from it, it can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some top tips to help you when you are learning how to start a blog and make money:
- Make a plan- it might be a few pages long, but break this down into bite sized chunks and you’ll soon be making progress against your plan
- Connect with other bloggers in your niche. This is a big one. You can get so much support from other bloggers who will be able to offer you tips and advice about your new blog.
- YouTube is your friend. If you get stuck with a particular part of setting up your blog, you can bet that someone has made a YouTube video about it!
- Don’t give up! Stick to your side project and expect that it may take months of hard work to get your blog to a position that you are happy with. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor are successful websites!