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This post is going to explain how to start making money online in 2020.
So you want to know how to start a profitable blog? Not sure where to begin? Feeling overwhelmed?
Don’t worry, I’ve been there too.
In March 2018, I started my first self-hosted blog and it was super easy, quick, and fun! At first, I was scared because I thought that it would be too hard and that I would struggle for days, weeks, or even months trying to figure everything all out. I was literally reading hundreds of articles about blogging which were all offering contradicting information. The overwhelm was real.
Luckily, I enrolled in a few blogging courses and that provided me with access to some of the best resources to starting a blog. I applied the very best tips to launch my own blog within a few days.
Now, I’m putting together this comprehensive guide to starting a profitable blog to encourage more readers to start their own blogs too!
The topics I’ll cover in this guide are:
- How to pick a profitable blog niche
- How to pick a domain name that you love and that your audience will remember
- How to buy a domain and web hosting
- How to install WordPress and design your blog
- How to write your first blog post
- How to get traffic to your blog
- How to monetize your blog
It’s much simpler than you’d imagine! So let’s get started.
1. Pick a profitable blog niche
First thing’s first. You have to choose a niche that you want to blog about. I’ve written a more comprehensive guide to finding a profitable niche which goes into further detail.
In general, these are some points to consider:
- Pick a niche that you have expertise in or that you love talking about. As in, you would’ve mind talking about this topic even if you weren’t getting paid for it. For me, that’s personal finance 🙂
- Don’t be too specific or “niched” or you might run out of things to blog about!
- If you can’t settle on just one niche, go with a lifestyle blog. A lifestyle blog is a blog that covers a variety of topics like parenting, blogging, personal finances, fashion, DIY, home decor, and more. You will figure out what topics you like to blog about as you blog more. You can decide to “niche down” when the time comes.
2. Pick a domain name
It’s important to pick a good blog name for a number of reasons. First, it’s the first impression that new visitors have of your blog and it gives them an idea of what your blog is about. Second, it’s an easy way for your readers to remember your blog and come back for more.
Spend some time brainstorming a blog name. I have a great post written about how to choose a blog name you’ll love. Check it out!
In general, here are some guidelines to follow:
- It’s best to think of a name that is related to your niche in some way. For example, my niche is personal finance for millennials (I blog about money mostly for the 20-30 year-old crowd), and I use the name “twenty” and “cents” to reflect that.
- Think of something that is easy to remember. Use play on words as it’s fun and reflects your quirky style.
- If you’re out of ideas, you can always consider purchasing your own name as the domain. I would recommend this for a few reasons. You don’t have to settle on a niche. If you want to change niches, you can rebrand your blog without changing your domain name. You also build a brand behind your name.
- It’s best to use a .COM as it is the easiest to remember.
- Things to absolutely avoid: hyphens, numbers, intentional spelling errors. These things make your blog name harder to remember which could cause confusion among readers.
Remember, not choosing the “perfect” blog name is not a deal breaker and you can still grow your blog to a highly profitable one even if you don’t totally love the name off the bat.
Related: How To Pick The Perfect Blog Name
3. Buy a domain and hosting
If you want to set yourself up for success, then you should invest in a self-hosted blog. A self-hosted blog is when you pay a company such as Bluehost to “park” your website in their “parking lot.” The company owns all the servers that you’re able to use to host your own content on (i.e. your blog). This service comes with a monthly fee of course.
Self-hosted blogs are recommended to free sites like Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress.com because:
You own all of your content
If you go on a free host like Blogger, Tumblr or WordPress.com, then you run the risk of your host deleting your material at anytime. Self-hosted blogs gives you total control and security over all of your content.
You can customize your blog as you please
Free hosts limit your functionality and you won’t be able to add widgets and fully customize your blog to your liking. On the other hand, the options with self-hosted blogs are limitless 🙂
Self-hosted blogs are easier to monetize
Blogs on free hosts look unprofessional and are difficult to customize. Free hosts make you look like you don’t take your blogging career seriously and therefore makes it quite challenging to earn credibility and build an audience. And you can’t really monetize a blog without visitors, right?
Having a self-hosted blog looks 100x more professional than free blogs. It costs as little as $3.95/month (less than a coffee at Starbucks). I would highly, highly recommend going the self-hosted option.
I personally use Bluehost and I am extremely content with their service. They offer 24/7 support and 1-click WordPress install. If you sign up for a year of hosting with them, you will get a domain for free (a $15 value). On top of that, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you decide blogging is not for you!
How to buy your domain and hosting package!
1. Go to bluehost.com
2. Click on “get started now”
3. Select your plan
I started with the basic plan. That’s all you will need when you’re just getting started.
4. Type in your chosen domain name
If you don’t have a domain name yet, read this post on how to pick the perfect blog name for your blog.
5. Enter your account information
Fill out the account information as shown below:
6. Finalize the package
Uncheck all of the additional options. The only option I pay for is “Domain Privacy Protection” so that people cannot find my personal details when they look up my domain name.
Here is a little trick I picked up recently. If you move your mouse on your screen to the corner (as if you’re about to close the window), then you will get a pop-up offering you a deal of only $2.65/month for hosting!
The pop-up will look like this:
Seriously, I’m not joking. Here’s the before price:
And here’s the after price:
I wish I had known about this hack when I first started my blog. I ended up paying $2.95 a month which is still a better price than the normal price though!
If you’re not sure if blogging really is for you, then I would go for the 12-month plan. However, do keep in mind that if you do end up blogging for the long run, it would cost double the regular introductory price to renew the plan. I’m happy with going for the 36-month plan so far 🙂
7. Make your payment
8. Set a password for your account
Congratulations! You’ve just bought your domain! You can now log in!
4. Install WordPress and pick a theme for your blog
What I love about Bluehost is that you can install WordPress in just one-click! It’s so easy!
Once you have WordPress installed, it’s time to customize your blog with themes!
Customize your blog
WordPress comes with default themes that are free. They are great for starting out, but eventually you’re going to want to go for a premium (paid) theme.
Paid themes are recommended because they look professional and are easier to customize!
Some popular premium themes are:
- Studiopress: These themes are professional and used by some of the top bloggers! I love the Foodie Pro and Refined Pro
- Restored 316: I love their Simply Charming Pro Theme and Glam Theme
Install WordPress plugins
You don’t have to do this right away but here are some free WordPress plugins that I would recommend. My blog does not function without them!
- Akismet Anti-Spam – for protecting your blog against spam
- Bottom of every post – to add the same message to the end of every post
- FMTC Affiliate Disclosure – to leave my affiliate disclosure at the top of every post
- Pinterest Pin It Button – to allow anyone to pin my blog images to Pinterest!
- Pretty Link – to manage affiliate links
- SumoMe – for the lovely SumoMe share bar
- TablePress – this is how I make beautiful tables in my posts (see example here)
- Updraft Plus – this plugin is totally free and automatically saves a backup of your blog for you (I connect it with my Dropbox account)
- WP Super Cache – to speed up your site
- Yoast SEO – to help with SEO and getting your page to rank on Google or Pinterest!
5. Start writing!
Play around and write your first blog post. An about page is a great place to start! You can check my about page for inspiration 😉
Your blog might look a little bit bare when you first start. I recommend that you officially “launch” your blog when you have at least 5-10 quality posts. I launched my blog when I had 6 posts. This gives people something to read so they don’t bounce right away.
6. Get visitors!
Make all your social media handles (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.)
Try to use the same name for all if possible. You don’t have to start posting on social media right away (work on your content first) but you should reserve these names in case someone else decides to sign up with your desired username 🙂
All of my social media handles are “mytwentycents” except Twitter. It was also ready taken so I used “twentycentsblog.”
Tell all your friends
At the beginning, the people who will be most interested in your blog are your close friends and family. Don’t be shy. Send your link to everyone you know in real life. These will probably be some of your most loyal readers.
I leveraged the power of Pinterest to start driving traffic to my blog right away. Now, I am getting at least 300-600 page views per day. On some days, I’ve even gotten over 1,000 page views!
You can read more about getting traffic from Pinterest in my post: How I Grew My Monthly Pinterest Traffic To 100,000 By Manually Pinning (No Tailwind or Boardbooster)
7. Monetize your blog
So now we get to the fun part, monetizing your blog. There are a few ways to do this:
The easiest way to start monetizing your blog is by placing ads.
As a newbie blogger, you can apply to the Google Adsense program, they do not have any traffic requirements.
Once you reach more page views, you can consider applying to some premium ad networks such as Mediavine (minimum 25,000 monthly sessions) and AdThrive (minimum 100,000 monthly page views). My goal is to get into Mediavine once I hit 25,000 monthly sessions 🙂
Brands will pay you to write articles promoting their services or products. Sometimes they also give you their products/services for free.
You can find opportunities to work with brands through Linqia (minimum 2,500 follower requirement). Alternatively, you can target brands directly and try to pitch yourself to them.
Affiliate marketing is when you promote a company’s services or products. If one of your readers clicks on your link and buys the product, then you receive a commission.
Affiliate marketing is a pretty easy and passive way to make money online. You can read more about affiliate marketing in my article: How I Made My Very First Affiliate Sale By Accident
Some bloggers also offer other services on the side such as graphic design, coaching, etc.
Launch your own products
Finally, a lot of bloggers offer their own courses, ebooks, and products.
If you have a specific solution to a common problem that your readers have, then it’s a good idea to think about launching a product!
My next goal is to launch an ebook or course 🙂
Congratulations! You have just set up your blog! The hardest part is over!
If you have any questions, please drop me a comment or email. I’m happy to help!
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