How to Start a Blog to Make Money

How to Start a Blog to Make MoneyWondering how to start a blog to make money but not sure what to do next?  Want to blog for business, but not exactly “tech savvy” or good with computers?

I got you covered.  This is part 2 in my Blogging Smart and Sassy series, all about helping you build a blog from the ground up – one that will make you money!

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a commission if you purchase through my link.  Thank you for supporting this site!


A Little Bit About Me

This is the first honest-to-goodness blog I’ve ever authored.  However, I’ve “been online” for over 15 years.

My first experience was when my sister and I started a baby/parenting website using Microsoft Frontpage and basic HTML – talk about ages ago.  It was a great learning experience and as we both learned, we discovered new resources that developed our skills.

One day, we were referred to SBI! (formerly Site Build It!).   Here was a way to go from knowing nothing to having an online business.  I began to imagine the possibilities of that – working from home, freedom, exciting ways to bring in income – and I wanted in.

This was a major turning point for me and this is where I learned how to start a blog to make money – except I was building a static website.

I went from knowing almost nothing about building a website (let alone a web business!) to knowing how to build a site, write content, attract an audience, and make money online.

So I do have an above average understanding of what it takes to make money with an online business and I’m applying that knowledge and experience here to show you how to start a blog to make money – just like me.


 How Easy is it to Start a Blog?

Believe it or not, pretty darn easy.  In our last post, we talked about how to choose a niche, now we’re going to take the next step to having an income-producing blog.

Let me reassure you that you don’t have to be tech-savvy, good with computers, or a great writer.  If you can follow directions, use a mouse, and know how to type, you can start a blog.

Know that in the beginning, you’re going to make mistakes, become frustrated and at times, and wonder what in the world you were thinking when you decided to try blogging.

Just a heads-up! I created an awesome worksheet to help you decide on your domain name AND it includes a checklist for setting up your blog! You can find that at the end of this post.
Keep moving forward!

Learn from your mistakes, give yourself some distance when you need to, and remember that you want to help people, make a difference, express yourself creatively, feel the freedom of owning your own business, live a laptop lifestyle, and – ultimately – make money.

There is some serious work to be done, but don’t worry – blogging for profit is a LOT of fun.  The hard work you will put in will be so satisfying and one day, you’ll make your first dollar…then your first $100…then $1,000, and so on.

You’ll realize that all that hard work was worth it and that you really do have the best job in the world.


Blogging as a Business or as a Hobby

If you’re serious about learning how to start a blog to make money , you need to get in the right mindset and treat your blog as a business from day one.

Blogging as a hobby is fine and you can certainly monetize a hobby blog.  Just know that blogging for pleasure is not necessarily going to earn you a full-time income.  If this is what you want to do, you can sign up for a free blog with a site like Blogger and you’re on your way.

In fact, if this is your goal, I recommend purchasing One Hour Affiliate by Erica Stone.  Just like the title implies, you can create quick and easy posts promoting affiliate products and incorporate these into your everyday blogging.

Plus, the blog setup instruction is worth the price of the course alone – no more do you have to settle for squished content or sub-par templates.

On the other hand, blogging as a business on a self-hosted platform like WordPress will definitely bring in more money than a blog that is strictly for sharing family photos, updates, and such.  And it doesn’t take much to switch your mindset and take your blog seriously.

What Does it Mean to Be “Self-Hosted?”

Being self-hosted means that you own 100% of your website, which is not the case when you use a free blogging platform like Blogger.

Free blogs and other platforms that allow you to create content limit you by controlling what you can post and how you can monetize.

As an example, I started a blog on Blogger and after about a week of posting, my blog was deleted.  The only reason I was given was that I had somehow violated their terms of service, even though I wasn’t writing anything adult, explicit, or violent, and I wasn’t being spammy with affiliate links.

I was devastated.

I immediately applied for reinstatement and, after about two weeks, I got my blog back.  But not everyone gets that happy ending.

Can you imagine working on your blog for 1, 5, 10 years and having it shut down?  Sure, you can back up your content – and should! – but you still have to just about start over.

No, I think it’s better to own your business and have complete control over it.

This series is all about blogging as a business and if this is the path you’ve decided to take with me, the next step is securing your domain name.


How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Blog

Brainstorming is one of my favorite things to do and is so important when learning how to start a blog to make money.  Nothing feels so good as getting all your thoughts down on paper – your mind becomes clear and open, making planning much easier.

So to start, fix yourself your favorite beverage, grab a pen and paper, and begin writing down some words related to the niche you’ve chosen.  Then write down words related to the words you’ve written down.

Try to think of everything and be sure to ask friends and family for help – their input can be priceless.

With this blog, I wanted to convey my personality, my message, my journey, and that it was about – you guessed it – blogging.

I came up with:

  • blogging for profit/cash/dollars
  • wealthy blogger
  • the blogging challenge
  • blogging insider’s guide
  • blogging secrets
  • and several more

I spent about a week brainstorming ideas and it was frustrating because nothing was really right.  But take it from me, you’ll know it when you find the perfect domain name for your blog.  Don’t give up until it’s perfect for you.

My domain name came from my sister, who made the suggestion for The Savvy Blogger and I knew instantly that it was mine.

I checked the availability and was thrilled to see it was available!  You’ll see that when you do your own searching, a lot of the names you come up with will be taken.  But the right one will be available for you.

One thing I suggest for finding the perfect domain name is to try and come up with a name that is no more than two or three words.  The shorter, the better.

How to Start a Blog to Make Money – Your Action Step

You can start checking domain names right here.  Enter your domain name in the box below and click “Check Availability.”

It can take awhile to find the perfect domain name for your blog.  Don’t give up!  It’ll happen.


How to Get Hosting for Your Blog

Your website host is what makes it possible for your blog to be seen on the internet – providing the services and technologies needed for you blog to “go live.”  It accomplishes this by storing – or hosting – your blog on computers called “servers.”

That’s the crash course.  You get much more from your host, but for now, we just need to know why you need one and what it does for you.

Choosing the Right Hosting Company

There are so many hosting companies to choose from and you should do some research to find one you like.  My top choices are InMotion and Bluehost.  I’ve used them both and they both provide great service.

I recommend checking out both – Bluehost is a steal at under $5 a month (including your domain name) and has great sales. InMotion offers up great packages if you’re looking to host more than one site.

What About GoDaddy?

I do use GoDaddy for purchasing domains, but I’ve been unimpressed by their hosting – definitely NOT user-friendly.  They do, however, have fabulous customer service, so if you go with them as a host, you can expect that.  One pro for using GoDaddy is that you can pay by the month for hosting, but it’s so much better to come up with $60 (or less!) and go with Bluehost.


How to Start a Blog to Make Money Using Wordpress (dot ORG)

For self-hosted sites, you want to get WordPress.  That’s WordPress.ORG, not .COM.

Next, you’ll sign in to your hosting account and install WordPress, which is super easy.  But if you need help, get in touch with customer service.  Most hosting companies will walk you through installing WordPress and it only takes a few minutes.

Choose Your Theme

This part is pretty fun.  Your theme modifies the way your site is displayed and determines what your site looks like to visitors.

There are plenty of free themes to choose from, attractive designs that you can modify to suit your needs.  My favorite free WordPress theme to this day is Accelerate.  That’s what this site uses, except I’ve chosen to use the Pro version – which requires a fee – because I wanted more flexibility with backgrounds, colors, and fonts.  But the free version is excellent.

I also love these pretty and feminine WordPress themes – they’re gorgeous and affordable!

One common opinion among successful bloggers and internet marketers is that it’s important to keep it simple – choose a theme you like, at a price you can afford, and one that presents your content in the best possible way.

Once you have your theme set up, you can play around with your theme’s appearance and settings to get your site to look exactly as you like.

Settings and Plugins

I don’t want to go into too much detail about settings and plugins here, but I will talk about the few I start with.  I recommend keeping it simple here, too.


Settings

  • When you log in to your WordPress dashboard, you’ll see “Settings” on the left-hand side.
  • Hover over that and click “Reading” – set it up to display 5 of your more recent posts.  Also make sure that this box is unchecked:

how to start a blog to make money - reading settings

  • Click on “Discussion.”  These are the settings I’m currently using:

how to start a blog to make money - discussion settings

how to start a blog to make money - avatar settings

  • Click on “Permalinks” and choose the “Post Name” blog post display setting:

how to start a blog to make money - post settings

These are the basic settings I use.  Now, there is a much more thorough setup and if you’re interested in not only how to start a blog to make money, but also how to set it up in detail, I highly recommend getting Extreme Revieweven if you’re not going to build a review site.

Why?  Because Erica takes you through a very detailed WordPress blog setup and the cost of the course is a bargain considering how much instruction you get.

And it’s a bonus that you will also learn how to build an affiliate review site!


Plugins

There are SO many plugins you can use to customize your blog.  On the left side in your WordPress dashboard, click on Plugins and “Add New” to look up new plugins.

You’ll also want to deactivate and remove any plugins that you will not be using.

Here are the plugins I use:

  • Akismet – you can choose to use the free version
  • Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy – super easy to use and set up
  • Bad Behavior – site security
  • Contact Form 7 OR Contact Form by BestWebSoft – if you want visitors to be able to contact you
  • iThemes Security – more security
  • Shortcodes Ultimate – shortcodes for easy buttons, boxes, videos, all kinds of stuff
  • Simple Sitemap – creates a sitemap for your site
  • Tablepress – creates tables
  • TinyMCE Advanced – Enables advanced visual editor tools
  • WP Socializer – social bookmarking and sharing buttons
  • WP Super Cache – fast page caching for faster site loading
  • Yoast SEO – makes SEO a no-brainer

Now I’m not going to go into all the settings for these, but you will want to click on “Settings” for each plugin and set them up.  It’s not hard.  If you get stuck, ask for help in the group.


Create a Header Image for Your Blog

Part of learning how to start a blog to make money is learning about creating basic header images.  I’m going to show you how to create a header image for your blog quick and easy using PicMonkey.

You will need to know the dimensions of your theme’s header image.  Mine is 1100 x 300 pixels.  You should be able to find the size you need by going to Appearance > Header in your WordPress sidebar.

hot to start a blog and make money - header size

This is by no means intended to leave you with a professional-looking header image.  That depends on your skill.  But to get your site up today, let’s look at how you can create a header yourself.

First, go to PicMonkey.  You can do quite a lot for free, but I do have a subscription to the premium service and it’s worth every penny (all these images you see…I did them with PicMonkey Premium!)

Click on “Design.”

picmoney header 01

This opens a drop-down menu.  Click on “Custom.”

picmoney header 03

Enter the size of your header image in pixels.  Click “Make it!”

picmoney header 04

You’ll come to this screen.  On the left there is all the options you can check out for creating a header image.  These are the basic edits and you have other options like adding overlays and text.

picmoney header 05

Play around with this tool.  It’s awesome.

If you can’t create a header image you like – or just don’t want to – you can have a pretty good image created on Fiverr.  Don’t expect perfect, but you can get some good quality images designed.  Logos, too, for that matter.


How to Start a Blog to Make Money – Wrapping Up

Now you know how to start a blog to make money and you are officially set up to start blogging!  Congratulations!  

The next post in this series is all about brainstorming post topic ideas, so start thinking about what you want to write about and we’ll dig deeper into finding post topics in my next series update.


How did your blog setup go?  Are you ready to start brainstorming post topics?
Let me know how you’re doing in the comments!

How to Start a Blog to Make Money; don't just blog about what you love without getting paid! Yes, you can share your passions and make good income doing so. Find out how!

how-to-start-a-blog-worksheet

* indicates required




4 thoughts on “How to Start a Blog to Make Money

  • August 15, 2016 at 9:14 AM
    Permalink

    Very informative post. Definitely a lot of good info to digest here 🙂

    Reply
    • August 15, 2016 at 7:16 PM
      Permalink

      Thanks, Dave!

      Reply
  • October 29, 2016 at 6:06 PM
    Permalink

    Tons of valuable – easy to understand and follow – information! Thank you Julie ?

    Reply
    • November 18, 2016 at 3:04 PM
      Permalink

      Thanks, Laura!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join me and let's talk all things "income blogging!"