So… you want to learn how to start a blog you’re passionate about and make money blogging…
Hey there! My name is Melba Brewer, and I totally get you! (I’m the founder of this blog.)
And today, I want to show you how you can get started on this path!
In this blogging guide for beginners, I am going to get you started on the exact journey that I took to go from full-time employee to full-time blogger.
I am going to walk you through the step-by-step process of starting an insanely successful blog in as little time as possible!
AND teach you how to avoid the biggest mistakes and pitfalls along the way!
Here’s the outline of what you will be learning:
Step 1 – Choosing a blog name and niche you’ll love
Step 2 – Setting up blog hosting and WordPress (the best platform for bloggers)
Step 3 – Designing your blog with a beautiful theme
Step 4 – Writing content and getting visitors to your blog
Step 5 – How to make money with your blog (5 ways bloggers make tons of money)
Choosing a blog name and niche you’ll love
What Is a Blog Niche?
It’s essentially the topic that your blog is about.
A niche market is a specific market or “audience” of people that you are speaking to.
A blog niche can be as general or as narrowed-down as you want it to be:
General Blog Niche: Pets
Niched-Down Blog: Pug Owners
How to Choose Your Blog Niche?
The worst thing you can do here is to get caught down a rabbit hole of searching for your “passion.”
If you already have a topic you are passionate about that’s perfect!
If not here’s what you need to understand:
Passion is developed through experiences of trying different things and figuring out what you like to do and what you’re good at.
You should build off of skills and experiences that you already have.
Here are our 3 best strategies to use when trying to decide on your blog niche:
- What’s the ONE topic you can’t shut up about?
- Who are you?
- What kind of people do you attract?
Try to be specific, if possible.
Think about the topic that you end up talking about the most with friends and family. One that you’re pretty knowledgable about already.
Now, consider yourself. You might want to consider starting a blog that speaks to someone like you (i.e. if you’re 40, you might not want to start a blog that targets 18-year-olds).
Lastly, be somewhat specific, if you can.
Generally, if you can be more specific with your audience, you will be able to attract a more interested and loyal fan base.
If you’re a woman looking to lose weight, you’re likely going to be interested in content coming from a blog specializing on weight loss for women.
Rather than a blog about general health that puts out the occasional weight loss article.
Now, once you have your blog niche, it’s time to think about a domain name!
What Is a Domain Name?
It’s more than just the general name for your blog.
It’s the URL where your blog can be found in a web browser. i.e. https://wpintensity.com/
Something else to keep in mind here is that you don’t HAVE to settle on a domain name right away.
You can get your blog started and decide on the domain name afterward!
Tips for Choosing a Domain Name
Many domain names that you try might already be taken. Just try to get creative and never purchase a domain name from someone who is charging you a bunch of money for it!
Only if you can’t find a suitable name, use a .co instead of .com. This will provide you with more available options to choose from and .co domains are super popular (and the next best alternative)
How to Choose a Domain Name
Here are our quick few steps to get creative with your domain name!
We’ve gone through these steps with en example of the blog niche: Parenting
Step 1. Gather a list of words related to your blog niche.
Parenting. Parents. Kids. Children. Parenting Tips. Raising Kids. Home
Step 2. Use a thesaurus to get some other ideas.
Produce. Mother. Guardian. Folks. Creator. Source. Boy. Girl. Adolescent. Youngster. Offspring. Household.
Step 3. Add some slang or made-up words to the mix!
Kiddos. Rents. Parental Units. Parent Trap. Casa. Parentized. Momzilla. Mommiest. Hommier.
Step 4. Add some descriptive verbs (just Google it if you don’t know what they are)
Cook. Clean. Teach. Love. Nurture. Help. Guide. Raise.
Step 5. Add some descriptive adjectives.
Beautiful. Friendly. Maternal. Passionate. Resourceful. Loving.
Step 6. Consider adding your name and mix + match!
Setting up blog hosting and WordPress
You’re going to be an official BLOG OWNER by the end of this section!
Don’t worry — I am going to walk you through all the steps to get started the right way!
Let’s cover the basics first…
What Is Blog Hosting?
Every domain name (and website) needs a host where the domain is run from.
Basically, a host is a server or other computer that can be accessed from the Internet.
Your hosting plan is what enables your blog to be “live” on the internet (how people can find your blog).
You need a hosting plan to run a blog, so let’s go through some of your options.
Free vs Paid Hosting Plans
As with all other internet services and really anything in life…
You get what you pay for.
While starting with a “free” hosting platform may sound alluring, it’s often just a guise to get your money later on.
Think about it: That company needs to make money somehow or they’d go out of business.
Free hosting plans do exist, but they come with a whole host of other problems, including:
- Unwanted Ads: Many of the free sites put ugly, unsightly ads on your website. Gotta make money somehow, right?
- Limited Features: Often, these websites limit common features and offer them only for more money.
- Limited Bandwidth and Speed: If you start getting a lot of visitors to your blog, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan anyway.
- Pay to Move Website: Paid plans will move your websites and domains over for you without any additional cost.
- Don’t Own Domain Name: You’ll have an unsightly “.blogspot” or “.wordpress” in your domain name — unprofessional and ugly.
- Poor Customer Support: If/when you run into technical issues, you won’t be able to get top-notch customer service to help you in a pinch.
The bottom line is that free hosting is for people who want hobby blogs. Not to make money in something they are passionate about.
Paid hosting plans, on the other hand, generally come with the following:
- Faster website
- Great customer service
- Control over customizability
- No unsolicited ads
- Own your domain name
- Control over monetization
- Reach a larger audience
- Business, not just a blog
- Paid hosting plans are the only way to go if you want to run your blog like a business and actually make money from it.
Why We Love Bluehost
Reason numero uno…
Bluehost is the hosting company that we used to take both of our blogs to six figures!
Some of our other favorite reasons to start with Bluehost include:
- Bad experiences with other hosting companies
- Free domain name with hosting package
- It’s super easy to set up
- 24-Hour customer support
- One-click WordPress installation
- Multiple domain names
- Easy setup for domain email addresses
- Not only that, but it’s one of the most affordable plans out there!
You can get started with Bluehost for as little as $2.75/month.
Designing your blog with a beautiful theme
Now that you’ve begun setting up your blog, you’re probably wondering…
How can I make my blog look sexy!?
Or maybe you’re going for more of a professional look…
Whatever your vibe is… We got you!
What Is a WordPress Theme?
A theme is a set of files with a pre-written code that allows you to customize your website without needing coding knowledge.
Websites can either be built with custom code or have a theme installed that comes with basic coding.
If you don’t know website coding (like 99.9% of the world), you’ll want to select a great theme to help you accomplish the design aspect.
Before you decide, it’s important to understand that every theme has different capabilities and customizations.
Some of the basic features and customizations include:
- Uploading your logo
- Changing your menu color
- Adding a big header image on your page
- Changing your footer menu
- Displaying your blog posts on your home page
And before we talk about how to actually design your blog with a theme…
It’s super important to know what NOT to do at this stage.
Biggest Mistakes Most Bloggers Make With Design
These are some of the WORST things you can do when getting started.
They will cost you a lot of extra time and money if you aren’t careful.
1. Striving for Perfection
It’s understandable that you want your blog to look as amazing as possible.
But you have to avoid perfection at all costs.
Your blog design will likely change VERY much as your blog grows and you begin building an audience, an email list, and monetizing.
The goal should be simple and professional and open to change.
Your time is the most valuable [and limited] resource that you have and should be spent mostly on THE most important tasks for growth.
Create a simple design that expresses you and move on!
You can (and will) continue to make improvements as your blog grows.
2. Not Understanding Theme Limitations
Every theme has design limitations based on the pre-built code and templates that come with the theme.
Paid themes will provide you with a LOT more customizability.
Every theme is different, which means that you may not be able to make your blog look exactly like someone else’s (or as you imagine it in your head).
Find a theme that provides enough customizability that still fits in your budget.
And on that note…
Free vs Paid Themes
Just as with blog hosting, you get what you pay for.
Free themes will ALWAYS have fewer customizations and features than paid themes.
That’s just the way it is.
It’s perfectly fine to start out with a free theme on your blog.
But you must make this choice with the right expectations and knowledge of the limitations it will have.
You will also likely end up needing to upgrade to a paid theme at some point as you start driving traffic to your blog, collecting emails, etc.
Final words on this subject…
You cannot expect ONE theme to be able to customize everything you want how you want it without coding knowledge AND for it to be very beginner-friendly AND free.
BUT, we are going to give you a great recommendation for both a free and a paid theme!
Best Blog Theme Recommendations
DIVI (BEST PAID BLOG THEME)
Divi is the #1 theme on the market for beginners because it’s incredibly customizable and VERY user-friendly.
When you purchase Divi, you also get access to the entire Elegant Themes market. So, even if you don’t love Divi (you crazy!), you’ll get access from over 70 other themes to choose from!
They also have a no-questions-asked, 30-day money-back guarantee so there is absolutely no risk to try it!
You can give Divi a test drive here!
FLASH (BEST FREE THEME)
Flash is one of the best free themes we’ve found that allows you a fair amount of customization.
They also have a paid version if you want to upgrade for more features, but you can design a pretty great-looking blog with the free version.
You can try Flash here.
Remember not to spend TOO much time here if you can help it.
There are a lot of other, exciting and more important aspects of your blog to work on when you’re finished with the design!
Writing content and getting visitors to your blog
So, you’ve set up blog hosting, maybe started designing your blog a bit…
But now what?
What the heck do I write about?
How the heck do I get people to actually read that what I do write about?
Who Are You Trying to Reach?
Before we talk about what type of content to write, let’s talk about who you are trying to reach with that content…
Broke young mothers?
Do they know their way around the internet?
Do they like to watch videos?
Or prefer written content?
Every social media and search platform out there has a different demographic that it reaches. You’ll want to consider this when you create content and market that content.
It’s okay to not know exactly who you want to reach right now.
And you may think you have an idea but once you start creating content, it might turn out that you attract a completely different audience than you thought.
That’s okay too!
Just give it some thought because it could help you get ideas when you start driving traffic!
What to Write About?
Blank canvas. Now what?
The following are great ways to decide what to write about and include in your content:
Searchable Topics: Take the guesswork out of the process by using keyword research to find out exactly what topics your readers are searching for.
Popular and Trending Topics: Timing content out around holidays, current events, etc. is a great way to get more eyeballs on your content!
Share Your Story: Write content based on your experiences with certain problems or other roadblocks you have encountered along the way.
Watch the full lesson for free tools and examples on how to do this!
Getting Visitors to Your Blog
After a blog post is written, you must push it out to the world in order for it to get viewed (called content marketing).
Sadly, it’s not as simple as creating a FB and IG account, sharing content, and waiting for the followers to come…
It takes time and effort to drive the right kind of traffic to your blog.
Here is a 30,000-ft overview of some of the main differences between the popular social platforms and search engines for blog traffic:
Facebook — Very widely used platform. Ads can be very scalable, but it has a hugely varied audience, and they are very expensive. Competing with grandma and cat videos.
Google — Potential for tons of free, organic, targeted traffic but very competitive and time-consuming to achieve. It’s important, but it’s a long-term game.
Instagram — Great for building trust and showing insight to your personal life. Great for eCommerce. Generally poor for driving traffic to blog posts.
YouTube — Great for building trust and less competitive due to the fact that you have to get your face on camera. It can be difficult to drive traffic to blog posts.
Pinterest — Great for driving traffic to blog posts but may not be ideal if you’re market is men as the demographic is 80% women.
There are pros and cons to all platforms, but you can’t (and shouldn’t) be on all platforms at once (not well, anyway).
The Need to Focus
As a new blogger, your time is very valuable and already spread thin over many different areas. Don’t spread it even thinner when it comes to your traffic!
It’s better to be a BOSS at one source of traffic rather than be mediocre at best on several platforms.
Determine what the BEST source of traffic will be for your blog, content, audience, and potential products.
Then buy a course, learn everything you can about how to use that platform to drive traffic to your blog, and master it!
This will bring you more traffic and make you harder to reach by your competitors.
Why I Love Pinterest
Well, for starters, Pinterest has the potential for crazy viral traffic!
On top of that, we also think it’s the best source of traffic for bloggers because…
It’s a search engine — Over time, as long as you’re taking the right steps, your content will begin to rank for certain keywords. You don’t have to rely on viral traffic.
It’s not a “social” media — Pinterest is an image-based platform and users are not “conversing” in the traditional sense. You don’t have to reach your readers on a deeper level in your descriptions. You can save that focus for your blog content!
The users are spenders — The main demographic of Pinterest are affluent middle class with dolla dolla bills to spend! 50% of Pinterest users make over $50,000 per year and 87% have purchased something because of Pinterest.
There is less competition — Most bloggers and other website owners don’t know about Pinterest, don’t understand it, or can’t figure it out and eventually give up on it. It’s far less competitive to get organic search traffic than Google, and ads are less expensive than other, more widely used platforms.
Getting Started Driving Traffic to Your Blog
After choosing a platform that you think is best for your blog and your target audience, it’s time to get your LEARN ON.
We highly recommend purchasing a course and learning from someone who is an expert on the topic. It will save you a TON of time and money when it’s all said and done.
How to make money with your blog
What you’ve all been waiting for…
How do I actually make money from my blog!?
That’s why everyone is really here, right?
I am going to cover the pitfalls and mistakes and the path to success and everything in between.
The Money Mindset Trap
The trap: “I’ll spend money when I make money.”
PLEASE try to avoid getting overly focused on making money right from the get-go.
Your blog is a business and you must invest both time and money into it in order to see a profitable return.
You will need traffic and a dedicated audience to make any real money, so that should be where your focus is in the beginning.
How Do Blogs Make Money?
There are a variety of methods — all with different levels of work and time requirements.
It takes a LOT more than just posting content and waiting for the money to roll in!
Blogging income can also be irregular and inconsistent, so you need to be prepared for that.
The goal (for most bloggers) is to create an income stream that is both fairly passive and consistent.
The following are the most common ways that bloggers make money.
In order from least to highest income-earning potential (in most cases)…
You can earn some money by placing ads across your website. Some tradeoffs with aesthetics and earning potential. Great way to supplement income.
Sponsored posts are posts in which you can get paid to write and publish an article for someone (featuring their company in the article) on your blog. Common examples include product reviews, recommendations, other product information, etc.
This is when others pay you for services rendered, such as freelancing, coaching, speaking engagements, etc. Great way to supplement income on a new blog and get some great learning experience.
You can earn a commission when you sell other people’s products or services (usually a percentage of the sales price). Great way to make great income and build relationships with companies that sell products and services you believe in.
Selling Your Own Products
Knowing your target market, truly understanding their needs, and building a product to solve those needs is the ultimate way to scale your income to six figures and more.
Where Should You Start?
The most important thing to understand when you’re just getting started is that you can’t make any money without first having an audience.
Many new bloggers have the mindset of “there’s no point in getting visitors to my blog if I don’t have anything to sell.”
This is the exact opposite mindset you should have!
Having visitors to your blog and building an email list will HELP you monetize your blog.
You’ll be able to get feedback from readers, test out new ideas, etc.
Therefore, the best place to start with monetizing your blog is to begin building your audience.
You do this by creating great content for your readers and then turning those readers into loyal fans through building an email list.
Writing content and getting visitors to your blog is the next step!!!
I hope you have a fantastic time setting up your blog! And remember, if you have any questions, I’m here to answer them. 🙂