Don’t start just another blog, learn how to get started blogging to make money with these six steps
I’ve gotten a lot of emails about our 10-page resource guide on how to start a blog. It details everything you need to get started blogging and making money. The only problem is…it’s too darn long! I thought I would take some of the key points in the post on how to start blogging and put together an infographic that’s easier to scan quickly.
The infographic outlines the six critical steps to get started blogging from finding a hosting service to getting Google love and using plugins on your blog. I’ve highlighted additional articles in each section below the infographic for more detail on each step.
Getting started blogging is a lot of work and it will feel like you’re talking to yourself for the first six months. Stick with it and you’ll start to see visitor traffic grow and your monthly income will start growing. I was making over $2,000 after just a year of running my blogs part-time and know many bloggers making over $5,000 a month after just a few years.
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Getting Started Blogging in Six Steps
Successful bloggers spend hundreds a month on tools and resources but you should start by keeping expenses low. Your first expense and one of the only absolutely necessary ones is web hosting. You can get started blogging cheaply through the basic plan on most web hosts, usually between $4 and $6 per month. I reviewed the most popular WordPress hosting websites recently including plans for different needs.
For new blogs, I generally recommend Blue Host for hosting. They're the most popular web host for a reason, just $3.95 a month and a lot of freebies you don't get with other hosts like advertising credits and free domain.
Spend some time picking the perfect website name because it’s really difficult to change once you get started blogging. Stick with the standard .com unless you run a charitable organization and use sites like Instant Domain Search to make sure your name is available.
How Much Can You Make from a Blog
If you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you have an idea of the potential income you can make blogging. You’ve read some of my income reports or maybe seen some of the income reports from other bloggers.
You probably don’t need a lot of convincing why you should start a blog…but there will be a point after creating your blog that you will doubt yourself. You won’t be making as much as you want or maybe your blog won’t be growing as fast as you like.
Stick with it!
My $6,000+ a month blogging didn’t happen overnight. Even when I did start making money, there have been many times when I worried that it would all come crashing down.
Look at some of those valleys in my monthly income. It happens but stick with it, check out some of the tips on this blog, and you WILL BE SUCCESSFUL!
Should You Start a Free Blog?
We’re going to get into some great practical tips you can use to start your blog in a minute but there’s one question I get all the time from new bloggers.
Should I start a free blog?
NO!…how’s that for an answer?
You can start a blog for free on WordPress or some other platforms but it comes with major disadvantages.
- You don’t own your blog. The platform owns it and can do whatever it wants with it.
- You can’t run ads on your blog. I’m not a fan of ads anyway but it is an income source for bloggers.
The difference between a free blog and a paid one is less than $5 a month. The Blue Host link below is a special deal for just $3.95 a month, so just $47 a year to totally control your blog.
Compare that with the cost to start any other business and it really costs nothing to run a blog. Start with a limited budget for hosting and maybe some plugins, more on this below, and work up from there when you start making money.
Best Blogging Platforms for Beginner Bloggers
Your site hosting provider is like the back of a store, your customers don’t see it but it’s critical in helping your store function. Your blogging platform on the other hand is the front of your store, it’s where you’re going to be putting all your articles and products to show readers.
The blogging platform is where you create and manage everything on your blog from the layout of the site to your articles and plugins.
The majority of blogs are created on WordPress for a couple of reasons. First, because it’s so easy to use. Bloggers also use WordPress because there is an army of developers creating tools and widgets you can use. Some of these tools are free while you’ll pay for others but there is no other blogging platform with the selection of up-to-date plugins.
That said, there is one reason you might select a different blogging platform for your site. If you are creating an ecommerce site, something like an online retail site, then Wix and Shopify both are very good options as well.
Wix and Shopify are specially made for ecommerce sites and I’ve found some of the features a little able to use when setting up a shopping cart. Again, this is only if you are creating an ecommerce site.
If you’re creating a traditional blog, even if you plan on selling products, you’ll want to go with WordPress. You can still sell products through a WordPress blog and you’ll want all those plugins and other tools that come with it.
Starting a Blog on WordPress
Once you’ve signed up for blog hosting [here’s that special deal for Blue Host], it’s easy to install WordPress and get started.
In your Blue Host account, scroll down to where it says ‘Install WordPress’ under the Website category. This will take you to a page to type in your blog name and get started.
If you are using a custom theme or one you bought for your blog, you’ll be able to upload it in WordPress. Otherwise, you’ll start out with one of the free themes on the platform.
I use the Genesis theme from StudioPress. It looks great on mobile and is SEO-friendly but there’s no reason you can’t start on one of the free themes. This is going to cut your startup expenses for your new blog and get you started without having to drain your savings.
There are a few things you want to use to get started with your blog,
- Hosting from Blue Host or another provider
- An email marketing service. You can get started for free on MailChimp but will soon need a paid service to handle a bigger list. I use Aweber for the easy automation process.
- A social media management tool like Hootsuite. You can spend hours a day sharing on social media or you can do it all in less than ten minutes with a social tool.
- PrettyLinks link management tool. This is a paid plugin but one of the best investments you can make. It makes affiliate linking easy and saves hours when you have to change your links.
The vast majority of the plugins and tools you’ll need to start your blog will be free or will have free service levels for new blogs. The resources above will cost less than $15 a month to give your site a professional look and give it the tools it needs to grow.
Use plugins to get started blogging without being a Techie
Plugins are programs you can put on your blog to do things you can’t do without being a coding genius. These include everything from cleaning up your blog to placing advertising and collecting emails. There are tens of thousands available but start with a few basics.
- Akismet – helps to filter out spam comments…and there are a ton of them
- Broken Link Checker – Readers hate clicking through a link to a dead end and so does Google. This plugin helps to catch broken links on your blog.
- EWWW Image Optimizer – Helps to reduce the file size of images on your blog and speed up the time it takes to load.
- SEO by Yoast – Half or more of your blog visitors will be coming from Google so you absolutely must SEO each article. This plugin makes that easier.
I don’t have a post yet exclusively about plugins but include a full list of the ones I use on my sites in our start blogging resource guide. Most plugins are extremely easy to use. Just download and install them in WordPress and the come pre-loaded to do the job.
Don’t write the perfect blog post, just get started blogging!
Don’t freak out and spend hours trying to write each article. Start out by picking a topic and outlining your thoughts. Then just write it out without worrying if it’s Pulitzer-material. You’ll learn how to write faster and more persuasively the more you write.
How long should your articles be? A study of the top ten search results on Google found an average post length greater than 2,000 words with the top two spots averaging more than 2,450 words. There are a couple of likely reasons. First, longer posts are more likely to get linked to by readers because of more information. Longer posts also carry more potential long-tail keywords for Google to find.
Try writing one post per month over 2,000 words but keep the rest at a more manageable 750 to 1,250 words.
Get some Google Love for your blog!
Getting your articles ranked on Google starts with what’s called on-page SEO, adding the right words in the right places.
- Use relevant images and graphics with your keyword tagged
- Link to other articles on your site and other authority websites
- Use your keywords in headings and make the H-tags with your WordPress editor
After on-page SEO comes off-page SEO through link-building. This is where you get other websites to link to your content, boosting your blog’s authority with Google. It’s one of the most neglected strategies by bloggers and the key to getting started blogging. I share my three favorite link-building strategies in a prior post including one that has gotten me tons of quality .edu links.
Take your Blog Viral with Social Media
Facebook and Pinterest account for 95% of the social media traffic to most blogs so spend your time on those two networks. Many bloggers also do well on Twitter so spend a little time learning how to use the 140-character network.
Social media can be frustrating because it takes a lot of work to get started and build a community. With click-through rates around 1% and lower, you need hundreds of followers just to see a few visitors a day on your blog. Build your social community over time and you’ll start to see more traffic and stronger engagement with your posts.
One of the hardest things to do in your social media strategy is constantly engaging and posting your articles. The life of a tweet is less than 18 minutes, meaning your post gets buried and stops attracting visitors in no time. Really driving social media traffic means sharing constantly through the day on multiple networks. Social media management tools like Hootsuite make this easier by allowing you to link all your accounts to one page and schedule shares in advance.
Getting Started with Video Blogging
The last thing you want to think about when starting your blog is creating a video blog as well. We’ve already covered a lot of material and getting started blogging is going to take months.
But video is the future of blogging and you need to start thinking about taking your blog in that direction.
In the past, internet services weren’t fast enough for video. Remember the days of constant ‘buffering’ when it would take half an hour to watch a five-minute video?
That’s all changed and 5G mobile devices are about to make video lightning-fast.
Just as TV replaced radio, video blogging is going to eventually replace traditional blogs. I’m not saying content blogs don’t have decades left but there is already a clear shift in popularity.
The good news is, video and traditional blogs can work together! I just started developing my own YouTube channel and visitors from the videos are already my fifth-largest source of traffic to the blogs.
- Start by interviewing bloggers and other video bloggers. These interview-type videos are much easier to produce and take less time to edit.
- Create short video summaries for some of your most popular blog posts. You can upload them to YouTube and embed them into your blog post for an instant marketing boost to your video channel.
- Just like blogging, video can be extremely frustrating and slow going for up to a year. The key to success is just to keep at it and slowly grow your following.
- Learn how to boost your videos by targeting keywords and setting up your page for search.
Getting Started Blogging for Money
Don’t wait to start making money on your blog.
You’ll hear lots of advice like, “Just blog for a year and don’t worry about making money until you grow your traffic.”
You know what, your traffic will never be as high as you like. You might not make much money in those first few months but even a little will help motivate you to keep blogging.
Some blogging income sources are going to work better for new blogs. The secret to being successful as a new blogger is learning the income sources, which work fastest and which take more time but pay off in the long-run.
- Advertising through Google Adsense is easy and can be started almost immediately. It won’t make you much but it’s good for a start.
- Affiliates are where most bloggers make their money. Find three to five affiliates that work well for other bloggers in your niche. Write a review post for each and a comparison post that matches them all together.
- Sponsored posts will be a bigger income source once you build a little more traffic but make sure you limit the number of posts each month.
- Courses and ebooks are where you want to get to in blogging. Creating your own products cuts out the middleman and let’s you keep all the profit.
Blogging Rules to Live By
Don’t steal articles from other sites. Google will see it and ding your site’s search ranking…plus it’s illegal!
Don’t libel or print false information about someone or a company. Reviews of a product are fair but make sure you can support your claims or face legal challenges.
Understand fair use of images. Using copyrighted images without permission is one of the first mistakes by new bloggers. Avoid expensive lawsuits by knowing what you can use.
Getting started blogging and making money will take more than these six steps but the infographic will give you a good idea of how to begin. The biggest secret to blogging success is just to get started and keep at it! You need at least six months to a year to really start seeing traffic grow to the point you are making real money. Check out some of the other posts on the blog about how to start a blog and make money and you’ll be on your way.