How to Start a Blog and Make Money

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How to start a blog and make moneyI talked not too long ago about the truth of making money with blogging.  My hope with that post was to shed some light on the complexities of earning money with a blog. It is hard work, but it certainly can be done.  As a precursor to earning money with a blog, you need to learn how to start a blog.  I probably should have led with that, but either way, here we go.  In this article, I will teach you how to start a blog and monetize it from the start.  It is really simple to start a blog, so this shouldn’t be a very complicated process.

Step 1 – Find a Niche

This is the most important process.  Before you start any blog, you need to have a topic.  We write about personal finance here. We understand it and we can relate to it.  Don’t pick a niche just because you see other people making money at it.  That will lead you to failure.  If you like electronics, go after that. If you like scuba diving, write about it.  If you can relate to your niche, you will find it easier to write about.

Step 2 – Register a Domain

If you want to make money blogging, you need your own domain.  Our domain is sproutwealth.com.  It tells you what we talk about here.  We show you how to grow your wealth.  You need a domain to provide your readers with a glimpse in what your topic will be.  Once you have your niche, you can start looking for domains.  I register all of my domains through G0Daddy.  They are cheap and really efficient with domains.  I also make sure I keep my domain and my hosting plan at different companies.  That is something everyone should do.

You can find a large number of GoDaddy coupons to reduce your registration costs.  It only takes a few minutes to find and register your domain through GoDaddy.

Step 3 – Find Web Hosting

When you start a blog, you need a great domain and a good web host.  There are so many web hosting companies that it can hurt your brain.  Some are better than others.  Most hosts provide WordPress hosting, which is the best blogging platform around.  If you are just starting out, then you don’t want to deal with a costly host. I recommend checking out either BlueHost or HostGator.  Both of these are large companies and have cheap hosting plans.

You really shouldn’t pay more than $5 or $6 per month for hosting to start out.  Since you have no idea if your blog will be successful, you should test the waters.  BlueHost and HostGator offer cheap plans and even have great coupons to start your blogging adventure.

Special Offer: If you want to start blogging now, I can setup your blog for free. Learn more about my offer.

Step 4 – Point Your Domain to Your Web Host

After you register your domain in GoDaddy, you need to point it to your new web host. This is done through nameservers.  Your web host will give you the nameservers to put into GoDaddy.  For example, they could be ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com.  Nameservers usually come in pairs, but there could be more.

Log into GoDaddy and then go to your domain manager.  There will be a link to set the nameservers.  GoDaddy defaults to their own servers, but you just have to change it to the ones provided by your host.  Once you enter those nameservers, then it can take up to 24 hours to fully propagate through the internet. Just be patient.

Step 5 – Install WordPress

If you  have a host like BlueHost or HostGator, then your WordPress installation will be easy.  It see that I only tell you to install WordPress. While there are two versions of WordPress, you need the self-hosted variety.  You shouldn’t go with WordPress.com, as you can’t make money from those blogs. It just isn’t possible to earn good money from a free domain.  The same goes with Blogger.  Wordpress is where it is at.

Once you have your web hosting setup, you can log into their Control Panel and there will be links to install WordPress.  This is really super easy to do.  They push you through a number of steps to set it up.  The main items you need is to put in your site name, your URL (which should be auto populated), your username, and password.  DO NOT USE “ADMIN” AS YOUR USERNAME.  Did you get that?  That is a very bad idea and you should change that in the process.

If the installation process allows your to change the database table prefix, then do it.  The default is “wp_”, but you should change it to something more complex.  Something like “wp_xh5824_” could be good.  You just should change the default.  Hackers know this default and can do harm to your blog.

You will also want to add your email address, which will be your “admin” email.  When people comment, register, or anything else on your blog, this is where the email will go. You can change this later down the road.

After these pieces are done, you will hit install and you will be ready to go.  It should give you the url and admin url of your blog.  This is where you will log in.  If you just pointed your nameservers, then you might not be able to get to the URL. Remember, just be patient.

Step 6 – Setup Your Blog

Once you can log into your blog, do it.  You will see the WordPress dashboard with a number of items.  Here is what we will need to do.

Your default blog comes with a default theme. Luckily for you, there are thousands of themes from many different developers.  I would recommend a free theme  to start out and one that is responsive.  That means it moves with the screen size. This is very important in today’s era.  To find a great theme, just head to Google and type in something like free responsive wordpress theme.  You will get a number of results and you can start looking through them.  Once you find a theme, just download it.  You can then upload said theme within Appearance.  Just follow the instructions.

To customize your theme, you can go into Appeareance > Widgets and use some of the widgets in your sidebar or whatever location the theme has setup. You can also put a menu in the defined theme locations by creating a menu (or two) in the Appearance > Menus section.  *You will need to have pages and categories setup before you create a menu as that is what you typically want in your menu.  That information is below.

Go into Settings on the left menu.  Go through the options in General, Writing, Reading, and Discussion.  Set the options for what you want to happen on your blog.  Then head over to Permalinks.  This will be an important step.  Wordpress’ default setup is a terrible URL structure.  You should set your URL structure to either Post Name or Month and Name.  These are the most popular and great URL structures.  I wouldn’t recommend trying to add category name into your URL.  That could get messy.  Save your new Permalinks.

Next, head into the Plugins section.  There are two plugins you really should have. They are WordPress SEO and a caching plugin. You can either use WP Super Cache or W3TC.  Blog plugins are good. Follow the setup instructions for each plugin.  In order to find these plugins, just go into plugins and go to Add New.  You can then search for them and install right from your dashboard.  To combat spam, which will happen, you can also activate Akismet, which is already installed be default. You just have to activate it. There are many other plugins you can install, but these should get you started.

Once you have plugins, you need to create some pages for your blog.  These pages should include an about page, contact page, and any other page you want to showcase.  You just have to to into Pages, then Add New.  Wordpress comes with a visual editor. You just type in a page title, then some content and hit publish.

Step 7 – Write Your First Post

Blogs live off content.  You need to write content in order for your blog to survive.  To to that, just go into Posts and then Add New.  This will be the same visual editor as pages.  Type in a title, then the content.  You will need a category for your post to go into.  On the side, there is a category box, which will probably show “Uncategorized”.  You need to create new categories.  You can do that with the link below the box labeled “+ Add New Category”.  Just come up with an appropriate category or a few.  This is how you will categorize your posts.

When you write posts, you should work with simple paragraphs and add appropriate headings. To add a heading to the text, just click the drop down box that has “Paragraph” in it. There you will see Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, and so on.  Just pick the one that you want. Each one comes with a different size and weight.

You should also think about adding images to your post.  To do this, you can go to Add Media at the top of the editor box. This will allow you to drag an image into the box and it will upload to your site.  If you need to find images, think about Flickr or FreeDigitalPhotos.net.  These places allow you to use their photos for free, but you need to attribute the photo back to the source.  Once you add the photo, you can place it in the post any different ways. Just look through the image box for more detail.  You should also add the same photo or another one to your Featured Image section. This is in a widget on the right of the visual editor.  You can click the link and pic the same photo you just uploaded. Many themes use the “featured” image as part of the blog design.

Once you are happy, then just click Publish.  It will go live on your site.  If you want to schedule it, then go to the Publish immediately in the Publish box and click edit. This will allow you to pick a date and time to publish the post.  The time section works on a 24 hour clock. If you want the post to go live at 1PM, then it will be 13:00.

Step 8 – Monetize

If you want to make money blogging, then you need to monetize your blog. To do this right off the bat, you should sign up for Google Adsense. This is the easiest way to start earning money.  You can go to google.com/adsense and sign up for an account.  Once approved, they will allow you to create ads that you can put on your blog.  Once you create an add and get the code, just go back to your WordPress site and go to Appearance > Widgets.  Create a text widget in a location you want and paste the Adsense code in that box.  Save and boom.  You are now monetizing your blog.

There are many ways to make money blogging. Adsense is just one simple way.  You can also join the ranks of affiliate marketers.  This is where you earn a commission when a product or service is sold.  Affiliate marketing is hard, but it can really pay off.  In order to start, think about joining an affiliate network like Linkshare, CJ, FlexOffers, Amazon Associates, and the many more.  They will give you links for products and services.  When you sign up at most of these places, you also have to apply for each program you want to advertise. This is a time consuming process.  It can be hard to start affiliate marketing right off the bat as your traffic will not be there. Some networks won’t approve your site until you have been around for a few months. This is just how it works.  That doesn’t mean you can’t start looking around beforehand.

Just remember, you will not make money until you start getting traffic.  It will take some time. Some make no money at all blogging, but then some start making good money a few months in. It all depends on your niche and your drive.

Step 9 – Network and Promote

For your new blog to succeed, you need to network with others.  I have found this as one of the best ways to get your blog out there. Look for other bloggers in your niche.  Reach out to them to see if they want to link to your site if you link to theirs.  Ask if they will help you promote.  Go to other blogs and comment on their articles.  Many good bloggers will reciprocate.  It takes a lot of time to network and comment on other blogs, but it is worth it.

Promoting your blog will be hard work and very tedious.  One good way is to guest post on similar blogs.  If you know a niche well, then ask other bloggers if you can guest post on their blog.  Some will allow it, while others will not. You won’t know until you ask.  Guest blogging can be successful, but you  have to do it in good places.  When you guest blog, you will want to ask if you can link back to your site.  That is how you start promoting your blog.

Step 10 – Keep Going!

This is the last step in this basic guide. I know, how can a over 2,000 word post be basic. Well, blogging is a long term journey and complicated.  This really is basic.  This last step is crucial.  Blogging takes a lot of time and energy to succeed in.  It doesn’t happen overnight and it might not even happen in the first year.  Get over it!  That is a fact of this money making method.  If you want to make money with blogging, you have to have determination, perseverance, and ideas.  You will probably get down when traffic is low, but you have to stick with it.  The blogs that succeed are the ones which push harder and keep going.

 

I offer bloggers free installation of their WordPress blog when they host with certain providers.  If you want to start a blog and get it installed for free, learn more and get started!

John also offers blog coaching services, if you want help taking your blog to the next level learn how he can help!

 

 

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28 COMMENTS

  1. I still have a few things to do in setting up… like adding more pages and probably updating my “About Me” page linking into some of the content that I have created.

    On a side note, Adsense is definitely easy to setup and I have earned pennies so far! Can’t beat that 😉
    Kipp recently posted…August Stock Purchase and Dividend UpdateMy Profile

  2. Hi Grayson

    Thanks for the informative post.

    I recently moved my blog over from WordPress.com to self-hosted. I have two questions after reading your article. I don’t have a caching plugin installed. Can you explain what it does?

    Also, how do I tell what my database table prefix is? Is it what I see in the url when I am in the dashboard? Can it be changed once your blog is set up?

    Many thanks
    Debs
    debs@debtdebs recently posted…Misplaced FaithMy Profile

    • Hello Debs,

      A caching plugin helps your speed up your content delivery to your readers. What is does is create a “cache” of your site for your visitors. When a visitor comes to your site, it will load up once. When they go to different parts of the site, the content will be served from the cache. These are necessities for blogging as they reduce server load and page load times.

      You wouldn’t be able to see it from your WordPress dashboard. You would have to look in the wp-config.php file in your hosting folder, or go into your web hosts control panel and look at the database. Yes, you can change it after the site is set up, but it takes a little more care and time.

  3. Great tips here Grayson. I think the hardest part (obviously) is monetizing the blog, because it can take a very long time to see any sort of income, and it really has to be something you’re passionate about. Otherwise, you’ll end up giving up after 6 months when you’ve committed hundreds of hours and have only gotten a few dollars in earnings.
    Ryan S @ Impersonal Finance recently posted…overcoming FOMOMy Profile

  4. I think the hardest part is coming up with a good niche. Once you have that figured out, the WordPress part is fairly easy to learn with all of the resources out there. But coming up with a niche is key. You have to find something that not only others are interested in, but something that you can monetize as well.

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