Starting a blog with the intention of earning income at the outset changes how you go about setting it up. If you are blogging to for creative expression alone or other reasons, that’s great! Go the free route with a WordPress.com site and you’re on your way.

However, if you go that route and then want to start monetizing your blog, your hands will be tied behind your back and eventually, you’ll likely have to switch to a self-hosted WordPress site. It’s a pain in the tuckus to change everything over down the road, so I’ll save you a few headaches and show you how to do it from the beginning, the right way. And, it won’t cost you as much as you think!

Okay, so first of all, I would recommend using WordPress.org (self-hosted WordPress) to start your blog. You can start with other services, like Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress.com but you’ll have to switch to WordPress.org in the future when you want to grow or monetize, so if you’re serious about blogging, you might as well start with what can grow with you and your blog/business. Here’s an overview of the first few steps to getting it setup.

6 Steps to Start a Money Making Blog

  1. Choose your niche (what you’re going to blog about). I have two blogs, one is a food & travel blog and the other is this one, a business blog. They don’t really “go” together, they are in separate niches, so I have them on separate websites. When you’re starting, I would recommend picking one niche that you are very passionate about and go with it. What do you talk about all the time? Ask your friends and family what the top 3 things you talk about are. One of those is probably a really good thing to blog about.
  2. Pick a domain name (mine are veryveganish.com and abicowell.com) and buy it. Try to keep it short, with no dashes and make it a .com. Make it easy for people to type and watch your spelling!
  3. Choose a hosting company to host your blog. It’s easiest if you choose the same company to host your blog and buy your domain name from. I recommend Hostgator, BlueHost or SiteGround for hosting. I have more info about this below.
  4. Then, install WordPress on your website. All of the hosts I recommend make installing WordPress pretty easy.
  5. Then, pick a theme to make it look pretty. Spend a little time customizing the colors or fonts to make it look the way you want.
  6. Then, you can start writing your about page and some blog posts! You’re a blogger!
All of this technical stuff at the beginning can seem really overwhelming, but you can do it! If you’re having trouble, ask a tech-savvy friend. Or, you can hire someone on fiverr to do it for you. Then, all you have to do is focus on writing content. 🙂

 

If all of this seems like a foreign language, don’t worry. You’ll start to understand the lingo soon enough. Here’s a breakdown of what all these terms mean. Plus, I’ll share with you all the tools and companies I personally use. Between working on my own blogs and websites and helping my clients over the years, I’ve used some good services and some not so great ones. Hopefully, these recommendations will save you some headaches.

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress = a platform for running your website

WordPress is like the things that make your house function: your plumbing and electrical systems. It’s how your website functions. WordPress itself is free and open source, which is pretty cool. WordPress also gets new updates on a regular basis to make it more secure and to add new features to the “back-end” of your website, the administrator side of things that only you see. But, these changes make it easier to run your blog.

What is a domain?

Domain Name = your website name

It’s also called your web address or website address. My domain name for my food blog is veryveganish.com and my business blog is abicowell.com. A domain name is something you have to purchase and it usually costs around $10 a year. This is like your home address. It’s where people go to visit you.  Hostgator and BlueHost both sell domain names, as well as offer affordable hosting for your website (which I’ll talk about next).

What is hosting?

Hosting = where your blog lives online

A server somewhere has to “house” your website, so that when someone types in your domain name, a website will pop up. If your website isn’t hosted anywhere, it’s like someone knocking on your door and no one’s home. They’ll type in your domain name and nothing will come up except an error page.

 

Hosting usually runs anywhere from $5-15 a month to start with. I really like Hostgator‘s Cloud hosting package, which I just switched to, because it grows with you. You can actually add more than one website to it, if you need to (I use this feature since I have two blogs). SiteGround and BlueHost are also good options. They all have quick WordPress install options and great technical support. I’ve experienced the support teams at all of these companies between my own sites and my clients’ sites.

What is a theme?

Theme = how your site looks

Think of this like the decorations in your house. It makes your site look nice and the way you want it to look. You can choose from thousands of themes online. Many are free, but there are also many premium (paid) themes that have more features or are supported with updates on a regular basis. You can change themes down the road at any point, and you don’t lose any data (like your blog posts and pages) when you switch themes. It’s like swapping out pillows or artwork on the wall.

 

My site is built on the Look Theme from ThemeForest. It’s a paid theme, but has a ton of features and looks pretty cool out of the box, once you import the demo. Your site will automatically come with a free theme from WordPress you can use for awhile while you’re searching for just the right one. You can go ahead and start writing blog posts as soon as your site is hosted.

How to Get Paid to Blog

Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. If you’re thinking you can start blogging, work a couple hours a week and start making thousands of dollars in a month, then you are going to be disappointed. It takes consistent time, effort and work.
That being said, there are things you can intentionally do to make money blogging. And, they work!

 

First and foremost, you should write helpful, valuable content. Solve a problem for your readers. Entertain them. Show them how to do something. Or, talk about an experience that they can relate to. You can write about almost anything, but if you can solve a problem for people with your blog post, it’s golden.
Think about what people are googling. Think about the things you know. Think about the things you want to write about. Where do those things intersect? That’s what you should blog about.

Once you’re clear on what you’re writing about, you can start thinking about ways to monetize or make money from your blog.

10 Ways to Make Money Blogging

  1. Affiliate Marketing (recommending products you love to your readers and getting paid a commission from the brand. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, in fact.)
  2. Offering your services as a consultant/coach
  3. Teaching classes (in person or online)
  4. Sponsored posts
  5. Ads on your site
  6. Selling digital products (like ebooks or other digital goods)
  7. Selling physical products
  8. Creating and selling online courses (usually one time payment, but can be recurring)
  9. Creating and selling access to membership sites (recurring payments)
  10. Getting free products or services in exchange for writing about them
As you plan your blog posts out, think about the ways you can incorporate some of these strategies into your overall plan and into certain blog posts.

 

Affiliate marketing is something you can pretty much start off with at the beginning. We all have products we use and love that we already recommend to others. Sign-up for some affiliate programs, like Amazon, Target or others in your niche. If you’re not sure if a company has an affiliate program, google “brand name affiliate” and see if one pops up. Apply for it and then start talking about it. You can share why you like it, post a picture of you using it and then include your special affiliate link, so that if someone purchases it from your link, you get a commission! Be sure to inform your readers if you’re using affiliate links, as the FTC requires it.

Don’t Give Up

If you don’t see money flowing in right away, don’t get discouraged. Blogging is something that takes time and effort. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So, don’t give up!

 

Keep trying new techniques, be consistent with your efforts and you’ll see results!

 

What niche are you wanting to blog about? Tell me in the comments!
How to Start a Blog and Get Paid for It Travel Blogging Work Beachside by Abi Cowell
Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links, so I may get a commission if you click on them and buy something.

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Abi
Abi Cowell is married to a stubborn Yankee gamer and mother to two curious and free-spirited boys, who have impromptu lightsaber battles in her living room. Her hair is rarely blow-dried and size-11 flip flops are her shoe of choice. You’ll find her in the kitchen, if all else fails. And, just in case you’re wondering: She's a Mac.

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