Blogging 101: How to Start and Make Money from a Blog
Odds are you’ve heard of blogging, but you might be stumped on how people can actually make money blogging. Like many other work-at-home options, blogging is a viable way to make a living from home, but it takes planning and work. There is no set-it-and-forget-it when it comes to blogging.
With that said, when it comes to working at home, blogging is one option that can let you make a living from your passion and interests. Here is a basic overview to blogging and links to information and resources for further details.
Pros of Starting a Money-Making Blog:
1) Flexible – You can work on a blog anytime of the day or night.
2) Pursue your passions. Choose to blog about anything that interests you.
3) Affordable to start. You can actually start for free, but I recommend investing in a domain name and web hosting if you want to make good money.
4) Easy to start. Gone are the days in which knowing how to code was needed to blog. Now most blogging systems have copy/paste and drag/drop options making them easy to set up.
Cons of Starting a Blog:
1) Time commitment – You need to add quality content on a regular basis to keep your readership (the source of income) up.
2) Takes time to earn money – Blogs make money when they have readers. It can take time to generate the number of readers needed to make money.
3) Maintaining a list of things to write about. I’ve been writing about working at home since 1998 and sometimes I feel like there’s nothing left to say.
4) Open yourself up to online trolls. I’ve been fairly fortunate that I don’t get hassled often, but depending on the topic you blog about, there are people who like to bully bloggers.
Getting Started: How to Start a Money-Making Blog
1) Choose a topic for your blog.
Your blog topic should be big enough to allow lots of content, but narrow enough to attract a specific target group. If I were to start a work-at-home blog today, I wouldn’t start Work-At-Home Success because the work-at-home topic and audience is too big. Instead I’d focus on a specific type of work-at-home (i.e. telecommuting) or a specific target group (i.e. baby boomers).
2) Check that others are interested in the topic you want to blog about as well.
Since reader are the key to success, you want to check that others are interested in the topic. You can use SEO Book’s Keyword Tool to see how many people are searching your topic. Also take note of the search terms they use as these will be guides to what you should blog about.
3) Set up your blog.
There are several blogging platforms you can use. I’d avoid WordPress.com’s free option as it has too many limitations for bloggers who want to make money. A free option is Blogger, but everyone I know who makes good money blogging, uses WordPress.org’s script. Don’t worry, most webhosts have WordPress free already, so you just have to select it to put it on your hosting. You’ll need to buy a domain name and web-hosting. Check out WAHS tutorial on how to set up a WordPress blog in 5 steps.
4) Customize your blog to fit your topic.
This includes installing and/or customizing your theme and adding your own header or logo. Don’t just slap something together. Consider your topic and tone when you choose a theme. There are many free themes you can use, or you can buy some that may offer more customization and features. Many bloggers like the Genesis Framwork by StudioPress. I love Themify, which has a builder plugin (you can buy separate) you can use on top of another theme, or themes that include the builder plugin. The Builder plugin is a particularly favorite of mine because I can easily reformat any page or post. For example, WAHSs home page uses the builder to organize the content that appears on that page.
5) Add your static pages.
These pages never change and include things like “About” and “Contact”.
6) Add blog posts.
I always recommend setting up 10 blog posts as quickly as possible before marketing the blog. Once you’ve got 10 blogs posted, you can start a blogging schedule of 3 to 7 or more posts a week. How much content you add will depend on your topic. A daily deal site will have posts daily, maybe even several times a day. An information site, might only have new content 3 days a week.
7) Add an email list.
Many bloggers and online entrepreneurs put this off, but along with lots of traffic, having an email list is a top money maker for a blog. These people have raised their hands and said they want to know more about you and your topic. Once they do, you can send them information and resources to build a relationship, as well as send them updates to your blog and even offers. I use Aweber, and am happy with the service and price. You can start a free list at MailChimp, or many bloggers have now moved to Convertkit. Because it can be a hassle and you can lose subscribers if you move your list, research each option and plan for the future. MailChimp is free until you reach 2,000 subscribers and goes up as your list grows. For me, I found that as my list grew, Aweber offered the best price, and many of the same features as other email services.
7) Market your blog.
Having a blog in and of itself won’t generate money. The money comes from having people read your blog. So let people know about your blog and your posts.
SEO: Start with making sure your blog can be noticed by search engines through SEO. You can add a plugin to your WordPress blog that will let you input the title and keyword of your site, as well as for each page and post. For a long time I used Greg’s High Performance SEO, which let you set the title, description and keywords for each post/page. I recently switched to Yoast SEO, which all my high-powered blogger friends use. It has a free version, but I opted for the paid ($29) because it allowed for more keywords, and gives feedback on your SEO, quality of the article and even gives you a list of potential internal linking (other pages on your blog to link to).
Sharing: Next, make it easy for you and others to share your content on social media. Most themes come with social media buttons to follow you, but you’ll want a good plugin to give people the option to share what they’ve read on your blog. There are several free options to choose from, but as your blog grows, you might want to consider one or both of these options:
- Coschedule. I use this on WAHS to schedule my blog posts from within the WordPress dashboard. CoSchedule offers a couple of options, such as the basic which allows you to post to several social media platforms (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc) for about $19 per month, and more robust services that offer Pinterest posting, automatic reposting of content and more ($79 per month). Plus, it has a calendar so you can see what’s scheduled to post on your blog as well as to social media.
- Social Warfare: I recently switched to this plugin. As plugins go, it’s a bit pricey but it’s another one the mega-bloggers use. One benefit is it can post to Pinterest, but hide the graphic so you don’t have to clutter your page and slow your site down with tons of graphics. Other cool features include floating social buttons, customize the color to fit your blog’s color scheme, fast load times (won’t slow your site down), custom tweets, Twitter cards, and more.
Beyond that, you need to let the world know about your blog. Some ideas include:
- Share your posts on you social media accounts. I have found Pinterest to be particularly great at sending traffic for me, but you’ll want to use the social platform your market uses.
- Writing articles and guest posts on other blogs. While this is time consuming, it’s free, allows you to highlight your knowledge, and gets you in front of a lot of other people.
- Network with influencers and others who reach your market. That doesn’t mean ask them to share or promote you. Instead, make friends with them, share their content, reference them in your blogs, etc. When they see you provide value, they’ll connect and share with you.
- Reach out to be interviewed on podcasts or videocasts.
Check out WAHS’s posts on Marketing for more ideas.
8) Add monetization.
While you can add money-making links earlier, they won’t make money until you have traffic, so marketing (#7) is crucial and should always come first because it can take time to generate. There are many ways to monetize your blog, but most beginners start out with:
- Contexttual Ads: These are ad services that will feed ads on to your site and pay you based on clicks or leads. The most well-known is Google’s Adsense, but there are others such as Media.net.
- Affiliate Marketing: Choose products and services that are related to what your blog covers and will solve a problem your readers have.
- Sell ad space: Once you have a good amount of traffic, you can sell space on your blog.
- Sponsored posts: You want to be careful with this because you don’t want to mislead your readers. Always be upfront with readers if there is a paid link or paid post on your site. For one, it’s the law, and two, it insures your readers trust you.
- Create your own products or services: Most bloggers I know eventually create their ebooks, courses and other information products. While it’s time consuming, it boosts your clout, and allows you to make and keep more of your money.
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