There are so many good reasons to start a blog. A blog or website is a great residual income business to do in your spare time. A person can choose how much time you want to spend on it. Money is earned from your blog or website even without touching it for months. You have so much information to share! Think of all the things that you have learned about, things you are interested in or have “geeked out” about. If you are interested in a topic, chances are, others are interested in reading what you have to write. Or let's say you know how to do something. You could share that. Okay, now you have some ideas, now I will teach you how to start a blog or website!
Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate relationships include, but are not limited to, Bluehost, Amazon Associates, Walmart.com SM, and Etsy.
Update as of 1/13/2021 – I have switched website providers and am now with insty as they offer email services, landing pages, speed boost, the highest customer service and more. I didn't have any bad experiences with Bluehost and used them from 2017 to early 2021, but I feel that I outgrew it.
How To Start A Blog
I started making over $1,000 per month with my blog only three months after starting it. I am a very busy woman. I am a homeschooling mom of 8 children (two are adults, two are under age 4), have a side business of buying abandoned storage units and reselling the contents, run an Etsy shop, an eBay store, an Amazon Storefront and work about 20 hours a week on my two blogs. If I can do it, so can you! You can do it better if you are not as busy!
I was interviewed and featured in these articles about my blog…
Before you get on the computer to start a blog or website, let's make some notes. When you are starting a blog, you should list 20 ideas of content that you could write about. You could have a craft blog and have tutorials on how to make products. You could be a lifestyle blogger and talk about various aspects of your lifestyle. How about a cooking blog to make money? Try to have all the topics you cover go to one type of person. For me, all my content is directed to a mom who is needed in the home. For you, it could be young adults learning to cook. Becoming a blogger is a fun job that you decide how much time you want to give to it. I have about four hours a day at this stage of my life and yet I earn money from blogging. You can too. You want to have plenty of content to drive enough viewers to your site to make an income. The more posts you have, the more views you get, which means the more chance of someone clicking on your ads and buying something. That is how you get paid.
Think of a domain name for your website. I recommend thinking of a name you could get on at least two social media as well. For example, Pinterest and Twitter. If the name is available in all three places, it's a winner! You want your public to be able to find and follow you everywhere easily! You will register your domain name in the same account where you have your blog hosted. Try your domain name out to see if it is available here.
First of all, to start a blog or website, you want to go through a web hosting company that will let you own your website. This way you own all of your content. You can install the plug-ins you choose to customize the way your website looks to others. Also, you are free to share whatever you want, including downloads, a PayPal button for your favorite charity. You could add a shopping cart, e-courses, forums, discussions, boards or link to your Etsy or other shop and so much more. There are some sites that will offer free blogs, but you don't own that. Eventually, they can charge you more money or even close up shop and shut you down. It is best to have a self-hosted blog right from the beginning.
WordPress has a Business Monthly Plan from WP Engine. Here is a video about it…
Before I had my second blog, I used Bluehost's least expensive plan which you can use by clicking here. Adding a security option is a great idea and is not much more money if you do not have a technical background to protect your domain. Now I use a plan with Bluehost that hosts multiple websites, has higher speeds and the best security. You can upgrade as you grow.
Since I use Bluehost myself, I can tell you how to set that up. First, you will see this screen...
Since you know that the domain name that you want is available, to secure it, you need to purchase website hosting. That will get your domain and website on the internet. Bluehost is reliable and easy to use and I highly recommend it. The best part is that you can actually get a FREE domain name when you purchase 1 year of hosting in advance (versus paying monthly). Click "get started now", then select your plan.
I use the Basic plan and that is enough for me, but I am comforted to know that if I ever need it, I can always upgrade. Now it is time to officially enter your domain name in the left box if you are new.
Next, enter your account information. I added the SiteLock Security - Find to my account as I do not have a technical background and I would rather have someone else take care of this for me. I am so glad I did too. I am always amazed at how many malicious attacks have been stopped from happening to my account. There is a place in Bluehost where you can see how many.
Now it is time to pay the bill.
Finally, create your Password.
You will see this screen. You now have an official website and if you plan to have a blog, you are an official "Blogger"! Read on for more information.
You install Word Press through the company that hosts your website. In my case, it was Bluehost that chose the right Word Press for me. If you have to choose on your own, be sure it is the self-hosted version of Word Press so you have ownership of it, as there are two different kinds. When you go through your web host company, the core software for Word Press is free.
This is what makes your blog unique and makes it look good and stand out from the rest.
Subscribe box, Email Newsletters, Email Courses or Sequences
When I began blogging, I started with Mailchimp for a subscribe box and a place to send my email newsletters from. They offer a free service until you get to 1,000 subscribers. There are some cons with this. Your agreement with them states that you will not put affiliate links in your email newsletters to your subscribers. I personally like to tell my readers about deals that are going on or even giveaways or free patterns from companies, but since I am affiliated with those companies (which is how I know about the deals), I am not allowed to put those in my emails. They are MY subscribers, I feel like I should be able to do that if I want to. Another problem that I had was that my readers couldn't see parts of their emails and sometimes were not able to receive an email that I would send them with a free printable from a subscribe box. I could not get customer service to help me with this because I was not paying. You get what you pay for, right?
When I hit 1,000 subscribers, I did not realize it, and I thought that my readers were still getting their emails, but actually it had stopped. When I went to find out why, it was because now Mailchimp wanted to be paid. This caused some problems as I had people that were new subscribers that should have received a free download by an email and it didn't happen, etc. I cannot recommend Mailchimp because of these things.
I do highly recommend ConvertKit. The more I learn about this company, the more I love them. The creator/owner of ConvertKit, Nathan Barry, was homeschooled. I do homeschool my own children and my oldest was homeschooled from grade K to 12. I am presently still homeschooling my younger children (I am a mom of 8 children). I have noticed that homeschooled children do not seem to feel as limited in their abilities and they are better able to teach themselves and create. Most of history's genius inventors were taught at home until they could teach themselves.
I really feel this company cares about me. They could have charged me money to transfer all of my subscribers, but when they heard my sob story, they were so kind and did that difficult process for free and in a short amount of time. They want me to grow my business and be successful and remain "in the law". When the laws changed in the EU about the GDPR, Nathan Barry himself made a video and talked all of his people through it, as well as made code to help us be compliant. Who does that? Many other companies would have left me to figure it all out. He didn't even HAVE to do that.
The customer service is above and beyond. I have not had any problems with my emails getting to people, all of the pictures are showing up, every free printable I send has been received, which has saved me a ton of time! I used to have to manually attach it to an email and send it when they did not receive it. I could not do that immediately with Mailchimp so I had some disgruntled readers in the past. Now my readers are happy! I can also make an email course. (ConvertKit had a video to teach me how, plus they gave me some free materials valued at more than $100 just for watching the LIVE version!) Which is a sequence of emails training my readers how to do something. And it has subscribe boxes. There are so many more things I could say about this company and the great people that work there. But you just go check them out and see for yourself. You will NOT be disappointed. Best decision I made in this business.
Word Press app
I suggest getting this app on your phone to post on the go, to get photos from your phone more easily and more. It connects with your self-hosted Word Press website.
Writing a post is very simple. Sometimes I start in my phone app, if my photos are there, and save it as a draft. Then I type the rest on the computer as I can type faster there. Other times, I may do the whole post on the phone app or computer. My biggest problem when I started blogging is that I had all these topics I wanted to write about, but all the blogging education I was reading was telling me, you have to have a "niche". Which made me feel like I could only talk about one thing! The eBook called How To Successfully Organize A Blog With Multiple Topics was a game changer! You can have more than one topic as long as your audience is the same. Don't be offended if you are not this, but my primary reader is a stay at home mom. That's the largest percentage so I write for a mom who is needed in the home. I do have some men that like to read the Buying Abandoned Storage Units section, but I am talking about the largest percentage. This eBook explains in full detail how to organize it on your site to make it easier for your readers to find.
Pictures and Sharable Images
When you start a blog, your posts would look pretty boring if you did not add any images to them! I use a paid version of Canva for for all of my images and printables. If you have ever wondered how bloggers get their words on their pictures and make such awesome Pinterest pins, this is how they do it and probably what they use. You can use Canva for free, but then you don't have as many awesome things you can do with it. You can resize your images to fit any social media and make covers for eBooks and more. I use this product every day that I blog.
Attach social media buttons to your posts with Word Press and/or a social media button company plug-in. This makes it easy for readers to share on Facebook and Pinterest, for example. Sharing, especially when you start a blog or website, is a great way for a reader to reach someone that really needs to hear your post. That has happened with my There is hope after miscarriage post. A woman was able to read it and be encouraged after a dear friend shared it with her. You might be reading this thinking, this is not for me, but I am going to share it with my brother because I know his business needs a website. Or I am going to share it with my cousin because she is a great writer and has so much to share, she needs to start a blog. Notice the social media buttons around this post? You can even see how many times people have shared it on Pinterest and Facebook. Some sharing buttons do not have a counter. I would love for you to share this! And thank you to everyone who has and will!
A Few Plugins I recommend for Social Media Sharing
Pinterest Pin It Button
Allows you to pin your WordPress blog post images with a little Pinterest button when people hover over it. Hover over one of my photos or ads to see an example of how it works.
Getting a Pin To Go Viral on Pinterest
In my third month of blogging, I had a pin go viral and really saw an increase in affiliate marketing sales (see Monetize section below for affiliate info). This was due to pinning my pins to group boards rather than just my own Pinterest boards. When you pin to your own boards, your followers see it, but if you don't have many followers, that won't help much. With a group board of 100 contributors that each have followers, now you have a much larger audience! Yes, people can find you on Pinterest by doing a search, but they were not finding me. This Start A Blog post is just one in a million on Pinterest, but it gets found when I pin it to group boards. You can find group boards to pin to at pingroupie.
Because this is how you get paid when you start a blog or website, when you start a blog, monetization is important. There are four ways to do this: Ads, Affiliate Income, Product Sales and Sponsored Posts.
There are a few different ad companies out there. You can start out by applying with Google Adsense. When you reach about 25,000 sessions per month, you can apply for MediaVine, then when you reach 100,000 pageviews per month, you can apply with AdThrive. You basically put some code on your site that will show ads. When your viewers perform an action or view for a certain amount of time, depending on the ad network, you get paid a commission.
Another way to get your profit from a blog is with affiliate marketing. When you are on a company's main web page and you scroll down to the bottom and see the word "affiliate", that is where you go to sign up. That company will decide whether or not to allow you to put their links on your website. You can connect the link to a word or display their banner ads, for example. When a reader clicks-through the link or banner and buys within the time-frame, you get a bounty or referral commission.
With Amazon, you can display ads or link directly to products to get a percentage.
Shareasale is a company that other companies go through to pay their affiliates. You, as a blogger, can sign up with the companies you want to advertise for on the Shareasale website. Each company chooses whether to approve you or not. If they approve you, and you put their links on your website and your readers purchase through them; then your commissions from those companies pay you with one deposit into your bank account from Shareasale, which is very handy.
Keep adding affiliate links to your posts and it will really add up over time. It takes a few minutes to add links to widgets or posts, but it's the way to go!
Amazon Influencer Page
Once you get to be known as a blogger personality, and people trust you as a great source, you may want to start an Amazon Influencer Page. This is where you show products you recommend.
You can write an eBook to sell, sell digital downloads or printables, make a product to sell or link to products you are selling on other sites (like eBay, Amazon or Etsy, for example). I have an Etsy shop and eBay account that I sell from as well as sell my eBooks and sewing tutorials. I had an Etsy shop and eBay account before I started my blog, but now my sales are better with having my blog to pull in new customers.
Sponsored Posts or Ad Placements
When your domain authority for your blog reaches a level 5 or higher, you can get paid from companies that want to sponsor or pay for a post to be put on your blog. They will usually include a link in it to their business, which is how they make money to pay you. Sometimes you will need to do the writing part. There are some sponsored post network companies that you can find posts to do from many different companies and get paid from the network, such as Get Blogged.
Some other companies to check into for free products in exchange for a review or paid placements are: Blogher, Activate, The Blogger Network, IZEA, Mode, Collectively, Social Fabric, The SITS Girls, Fat Joe Publishing, Dealspotr, Blog Meets Brand, and The Blogger Programme (TBP). If these don't accept you at first, wait until your domain authority has gone up another 5 points and try again. Keep doing this until you are accepted. If you need to. You may be doing so well making money from the other ways mentioned that this will not be necessary.
A brand may also want to put a banner ad on your blog of a certain size and placement and for a certain length of time and will pay you for this.
Education After You Start A Blog
Keep learning! When you start a blog or website, it may feel like you are learning a foreign language and that is perfectly normal. Just determine in your mind that you will learn something new and apply it each day. There are many great tutorials and You Tube videos on every little detail of your blog or website and suggestions for how to do it. It may seem hard, but if you learn it and apply it, someday you too will be paid for all of this learning and then it will be totally worth it!
For ideas of great eBooks to read and other resources, check out my Resources Page under the Blogging section.
A few of my favorites:
Okay, so your blog is all set up. Now how do you get people to read it? Will they just find it on the internet? If you have learned SEO and are using SEO rules and so that you rank as high as possible in Google search, then yes. But it can take 4 months to get higher up on Google search. You can get so much more traffic from social media AND quickly! I get over 60% of my traffic from Pinterest alone. At this time, some people prefer to search on Pinterest rather than search engines for the topics they are looking for and may find you easier there. Pinterest has over 150 million viewers! It is best to put your pins out on group boards though so you need to learn to do this from eBooks such as Pinteresting Strategies. You can have a lot of social media accounts, but don't spend all of your social media time on all of them. Pick two to really focus on and visit the others just once in a while. My two that I focus on are Pinterest and Twitter.
Now you know how to start a blog or website and if you have done all of these things, your website is ready. Now get the word out there through social media (read books from the Materials section below to learn how to do that) and word of mouth, tell clubs or groups you are in, your holiday letter to family, etc. Happy blogging!
- WP Engine Monthly Business Plan
- How To Successfully Organize A Blog With Multiple Topics
- Google Adsense
- Affiliate Marketing Course
- Amazon Influencer Page
- Commission Junction (CJ)
- Get Blogged
- my Resources Page under the Blogging section
- Demystifying SEO
- Easy SEO
- Easy Backlinks
- Traffic Transformation Guide
- Pinterest Group Boards
- Pinteresting Strategies
- SEO and Domain Authority Tips Free Email Course
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