Do you want to make a full-time income in less than six months just using the internet? Don’t start a blog.
But if you want to build a legitimate online business that, with time and effort, could provide you with a full-time income, you should consider blogging. This post will help you learn how to start a blog, but it will also give you some pro tips on how to make a successful blog in less time.
Why Should I Start a Blog?
There are two main reasons why people start blogs. One is a hobby, and the other is building an online business that can generate income.
You should absolutely start a hobby blog if you are passionate about writing and want to share it with the world (or just your family and friends). Blogging can be cathartic and is a great way to get your thoughts out into the world.
If you know that you only want to blog as a hobby and don’t ever want to turn it into a business, consider a free platform like blogger. It’s a free online journal where you can post your thoughts. The most significant advantage is that it’s free, but you will never own your domain, and you can’t monetize your blogger blog. Consider it an online journal.
One final option to consider, if you know you don’t want to put the time and effort into a business but would like to make a little bit of money off of blogging, is Hubpages. This platform does nearly everything for you, from hosting to display ads. You have to write an engaging “hub” and add visuals like polls and photos. The downside to Hubpages is that you don’t have any control over it, and you split any profit with the platform. You are also very limited in how much money you can make – it’s unlikely that you will make more than a few hundred dollars a month if that. The advantages are that it’s free and easy, and you can make a few bucks off of it.
Blogging as a Business
Most folks start blogs because they want to make money online. Although not a get-rich-quick scheme, blogging is still a way to create an online business and make money.
If you want to make money on your blog eventually, you should treat it as a business from day one. That means paying for your own web hosting rather than using a free service and being open to investing in your blog. It also means putting a lot of work in – no business explodes and becomes profitable overnight.
How Much Money Can I Make Blogging?
Most bloggers don’t make a lot of money because most give up within the first six months. It took me four years to get Partners in Fire profitable (but if you follow along with my guidance, you will be able to do it faster!), and many people don’t want to put that much time in for little to no gain.
However, once you get past the initial hurdles, you can make money blogging. Pro Blogger’s survey of 1500 bloggers found that the vast majority (over 63% of bloggers) make less than $100 a month. However, 9% earn between $1000 and $10000 a month, and a small percentage make more than 10K per month. Keep in mind that most people who read sites such as Pro Blogger and respond to surveys are newer bloggers just starting.
The survey results tell us that although most bloggers don’t make much (a fact we already knew), it is possible to make a full-time income blogging. It’s possible to make well above the national average salary with your blog.
How do Bloggers Get Paid?
A cool thing about blogging is that there are various ways to monetize. Diversification is essential to maintaining revenue, and blogging offers that. Here are the main ways that bloggers make money, but innovative bloggers may find other methods as well.
Ads that are visually displayed on the website. Bloggers earn a share of the revenue from all ads shown on their sites.
Bloggers often promote products they love. If a reader clicks an affiliate link and purchases the product, the blogger gets a small commission.
Bloggers often work with brands to promote the brand. The brand pays the blogger to produce content and share it with their audience in a sponsored post.
Many bloggers create books, digital products, and courses. They sell these products on their website.
Bloggers offer one-on-one coaching or freelance services to their readers.
How Do I Start a Blog with No Money?
If you want to start a blog as a business, you need to invest money. If you have no money and just want to write, consider a hobby blog instead.
However, you can start a blog for very little money. You can create a blog with Bluehost hosting for as little as $3 a month! You can keep your initial costs low if you do everything else yourself.
We need to take a minute and talk about this, though. Bluehost is excellent if you literally have no money and want to start. I started my first blog with Bluehost, and it fit my needs at the time. I’ve also used Imotion hosting, and now I’m on BigScoots.
Every blogger will tell you to use Bluehost and Siteground because those two hosting companies have the best affiliate programs for hosts. Bloggers make good money when you use them, whether they are using them or not. BigScoots is far superior to Bluehost in terms of page speed and customer service, but it’s also a lot more expensive. If you have the money to spare and know you want to build a business, I recommend skipping the starter host (Bluehost) and going straight to BigScoots. BigScoots also has an affiliate program, and I make money by promoting them as well, but I use them currently and they are wonderful.
If you aren’t sure yet if you want to turn it into a business or have very little money to invest, Bluehost is a good option. It’s a great starter host and an inexpensive way to find out if blogging is the side hustle for you. I make an affiliate commission if you decide to use Bluehost, so I must be clear on what you can expect from them.
I’ve never used Siteground, so I can’t say whether they are good or not. Inmotion was a decent middle-of-the-line host, and it was nice that they have domains and hosting all in one place. I currently have my hosting with BigScoots and my domain with Google domains.
How to Start a Blog
There’s a lot to consider in the question “how to start a blog.” It’s not just a matter of putting content online. Here are the eight main things you need to consider when starting a blog. Once you get these figured out, you can start writing for your blog!
Name and Domain
Your domain name is the URL to your blog. My domain is Partnersinfire.com, and my blog name is Partners in Fire. The first step to starting a blog is figuring out your domain name. Finding a great name is difficult. Many simple words and phrases are already taken. It takes a bit of creativity and brainstorming to find the perfect fit.
There are many different extensions, called “top-level domains,” that you can choose from. The most common is .com, but with the growth of the web, many new ones have hit the market. You can choose .net, .info, .us, and many more. Many newer blogs are experimenting with different top-level domain extensions, but in my opinion, the “.com” is still the best option.
Before picking your domain name, there are a few things to consider: your niche and your branding.
Most pro bloggers will tell you that you have to choose a niche and niche down to succeed. I haven’t found that to be true; I found more success in blogging when I “niched up” than when I was niched down.
When picking your name, your niche and what you want to write about are things you want to consider. Think about the long term, and don’t pigeonhole yourself into a specific niche unless you absolutely know that is the only thing you will ever want to cover on your blog.
For example, let’s say you are an avid kayaker. You could niche down and name your website “Kayaks and only kayaks,” but that would significantly limit your options for writing and potential monetization options down the road. Instead, consider something broader that will give you wiggle room as you grow. “all about outdoor adventures” might be better because you can talk about hiking, fishing, kayaking, boating, etc. But if you niche up even further and choose something like “all about adventures,” now you have space to write about nearly anything. This doesn’t mean you can’t mainly write about kayaks, but now you aren’t limiting yourself if you choose to expand later.
The next thing to consider is your branding. How will your logo look? Who is your target audience? What problem are you solving, and how will you solve it? Think about these questions and consider them before deciding upon your domain name.
Some folks decide to use their name as a brand. You will see websites like “Nomadic Matt,” which is all about Matt and his adventures. Others choose brand names as I did with Partners in Fire. My name showcases that we are all partners on the quest for financial independence. Others choose simple words or fun phrases as their brand name or words from their niche to showcase what they are about.
How you decide to brand is up to you, but something to consider before purchasing your domain.
Did you find the perfect domain name? Check all the big social media platforms to ensure it’s available. Your blog will be your brand, and as such, you must grab the handles for all the social media accounts. Check Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, and Facebook to ensure that your brand name is available on these networks.
If they are available, you need to grab them when you purchase your domain name. You don’t need to start using them right away, but if you are going to run a legitimate business, you need a social media presence eventually, and you don’t want to find out when it’s too late that you can’t grab the Instagram handle that you need.
Are you ready to brainstorm domain names? Head to Godaddy.com and use their domain name finder. If you find a domain you love, you can purchase it through Godaddy or Google, but you don’t need to purchase hosting through Godaddy.
Once you purchase your domain name, you need to purchase hosting. We already talked about the pros and cons of different hosting providers, so we won’t rehash that, but deciding upon your host is your next step.
Another thing to consider when setting up hosting is your site security. There are two protocols in use, “HTTP” and “HTTPS.” If you want to blog as a business, you need to pay for the extra SL certificate to get that “HTTPS.” This ensures the security of your site. Many browsers are starting to restrict access to “HTTP” sites and tell users that the site is not secure, scaring folks off and limiting traffic. It’s best to start with the “HTTPS” right off the bat, even if it is an additional cost.
Although there are a variety of website builders, most blogs use WordPress. WordPress is easy to use and customize with a wide range of themes and plugins. As it’s the most common, it also has the most resources and user help.
It’s vital to go to wordpress.org and not wordpress.com. WordPress.com is a hosting service, similar to Bluehost and big scoots, but they aren’t as good (IMO). WordPress.org is where you go to download the website builder you will need.
Many hosts already have the option to install WordPress, so you don’t even need to go to the WordPress website. Follow the prompts that your host provides to install it. If your host doesn’t offer a WordPress install, you can also get it from the WordPress website. There’s a bright blue button in the top right of the screen that says “get WordPress.” Click that to download WordPress.
You will then need to go to your host and upload WordPress. The specifics of doing this vary by host, but most should offer you easy-to-follow prompts.
Theme and Customization
The hardest part about starting a blog is setting up the initial theme and customization. WordPress offers a few free themes, which are great to begin with if you aren’t sure how you want your site to look. Play around with the options and choose what you like best.
It’s important to note that you should choose a slick theme and easy-to-read font/background combination if you want to blog as a business. I’ve seen blogs with pretty pink backgrounds and purple writing, but the combination is not easy on the eyes, and most visitors won’t stay. If your blog is a hobby, it’s okay to make it however you want. But if you’re going to blog as a business, keep in mind that readers don’t want to struggle to read your content. Choose something simple, elegant, and accessible for most people.
Now is also the time to consider site speed. User experience is essential. Choose a lightweight theme that won’t bog your speed down. I currently use Astra Pro, but the free version of Astra is lightweight and easy to use for beginners.
The final step to building your blog is deciding upon your plugins. Plugins help you customize your website with widgets, updates, code insertion, tools, and anything else you might need. During your blogging career, you will update, change, delete, and test a variety of different plugins.
There are thousands of plugins that will help you customize your website. As you learn what you want, you will use many different ones.
Here are a few that I use that might help you on your journey:
- WordPress Rocket – Helps with site speed
- Post and Page Builder – I prefer this to the classic WordPress editor or block editor
- Ad Inserter – lets you install snippets of code for ads, lead magnets, or other items in any blog post
- Rank Math SEO – Many people start with Yoast as their SEO plugin, but the free version of Rank Math has more functionality
- Scriptless Social Sharing – a plugin that lets users easily share your posts on their favorite social media platforms
- Updraft Plus – Helps you back up and restore your website
- Site Origins Widget Bundle – a Bundle of customizable widgets
- Imagify – helps optimize your images to reduce site speed
I Started a Blog – What’s Next?
Starting a blog is just the first step in your journey. There’s a lot to learn about SEO, branding, email lists, site optimization, marketing, etc. Check out our Blog Strategies category for information on what we did from months 1-50 to grow our blog, and subscribe to make sure you never miss a post about growing your blog.
If you are ready to grow your blog into a profitable business now, check out the SEO Hustle blogging mastermind group that I’m a part of. I wish I had joined this group when I first started blogging. It would not have taken me four years to get profitable if I had. It’s the best resource on the internet for growing your blog into a profitable business, but only join if you are serious about doing the work.
It’s okay if you aren’t ready for that yet. Sometimes it’s best to try a few things on your own and get comfortable with your blog before taking it to the next level. Partners in Fire is here for you. We have a plethora of resources about growing your blog and will continue to publish new content that will help you on any stage of your blogging journey.
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.