The Definitive 6 Step Guide on How to Start a Blog
Keywords: Blogging, Starting a blog, email, WordPress, Blogging Successes, Blogging Drawbacks, How to make money blogging,
You might have been reading blogs and wondering how do I start a blog. Maybe you have some good writing ideas but need help with the technical side of blogging.
There are many different ways to start a blog. For those less technically inclined you can use the pre-made platform like Wix or Weebly* but you lose some functionality you would get if you started a WordPress blog.
A WordPress blog is not that difficult to start but there is a learning curve involved. If you’re willing to spend a day learning the technical side of WordPress you can create a much more flexible blog then with other platforms.
Some of the benefits of starting a WordPress blog are the vast number of plugins that are available for WordPress.
A plug-in is nothing more than a small bit of code that extends the functionality of WordPress. For example when you install Jetpack for WordPress you will have the benefit of automatic cookie notification to the reader. Jetpack will post to your social media if you allow it, to to let people know but you have a new blog post published. This saves you time and effort.
One of the other benefits is the plethora of themes available to you when using wordpress. Themes are nothing more then the look and feel of your WordPress site. So if you wanted a three-column site with a sidebar and you wanted to choose theme colors a WordPress theme will assist you in doing this.
Depending on the theme you decide on you could get maps to show points of interest and properties for sale. You still need to fill in details but the theme will provide the foundation for you.
And still other themes will provide you with the basis for a membership site or a training site.
The different configurations for your site through using themes are almost endless. Themes keep you from having to write large amounts of code.
Think of your website as building a house. The web host is the land, WordPress is the foundation, the theme as the house and plug-ins as the paint and trimmings. The name for your website is the address.
In total what you will need to start a blog is to purchase a website name, find a host to maintain your website on the net, install WordPress, install a theme and for the most part after that is to start writing articles.
I’m going to have another post where we get into the technical parts of creating and installing your website but let’s go with just this overview for now.
I recommend a very cost effective web host service called WHC. There cost is low and the service I have received is accurate and quick. My themes of choice are Divi by Elegant Themes and Blocks by My Theme Shop. Both are drag and drop builders and each has its strong point.
Both cost about the same as well if you pay annually. Elegant Themes has an option for a lifetime membership as well which has unlimited licenses. My Theme Shop has a wider product range but requires ongoing payment of $96/yr.
Either way, you go you will be happy with the products and the cost is low for either company. These two organizations are what value is all about.
To write articles I use Google Docs, as part of G Suite. I use the Google Keyboard on my phone and I am able to dictate into google docs when I am not at my computer. Every chance I get I dictate a paragraph or two for the article I am working on. I carry my outline template with me (available for download) and I use my template as a guide to writing. Often I can put out over 2000 words in a day and I have been known to write as many as 3000 words in a day when dictating to Google Docs.
With Google Docs you can even create a PDF with one click.his is a great feature if you want to have downloadable content for your readers. When starting a blog it is important to have downloadable tools for your users. It helps build your email list. You can also publish directly to the web if you like.
How do I Make Money With a Website?
Think of starting a blogs as a personal online magazine. Compare a blog to a magazine on a magazine rack in the store. You focus your writing in a category and regular writing on a topic, and, over time, develop a readership base.
Like most magazines, many blogs run ads. The difference with blogs is that until your blog regularly attracts 30,000 monthly pageviews you won’t have very many options. This is about the number of page views that Taboola and Outbrain want before they will do business with you.
There are some native ad companies that will talk to you if you have 10,000 page views per month but at this point just concentrate on writing great blog posts. The large number of pageviews needed for native ads is often why you find most smaller websites selling affiliate products.
Affiliate products can be anything imaginable. Simple affiliate products are often downloadable reports. However, I have sold cable television subscriptions and truck parts as well. Any time an organization is willing to pay a commission to a website owner you will have an opportunity to make money.
Usually, there is a broker involved so advertisers don’t have to manage a slew of publishers and website publishers can see a multitude of offers. Website publishers can then choose which advertisers match the website’s content. Share-a-Sale, Webgains, Rakuten JVZOO, and ClickBank provide meeting places for advertisers and publishers(bloggers)
Another way that you can use your website to produce an income is to sell your own product. Many people start a blog just to sell their own creations. You may have developed digital product yourself that you can now sell through your own website and create blog posts around that product to draw people to you.
For instance, if you were a chef you might have written a cookbook or if you were a fitness instructor you may have come up with a workout plan for people to follow. If you were a programmer you might develop a bit of software that helps people run their website better. If you were an author you could sell your books from your website. The possibilities are almost endless.
You can sell these products on your website using a plugin like WooCommerce. WooCommerce will take care of all aspects of the sale including the download after payment. This way you can focus on creating blog posts and building your website so you can attract buyers. Without getting into detail WooCommerce will allow you to set sales, qualities, colors, sizes and whatever you need whether your product is physical or digital.
Still another way to make an income with your website is to offer courses on a topic you are familiar with. With plug-ins ,you can post the course yourself especially if you are using a hosting company like whc who has unlimited hosting space. You would need to set up a “paywall” so people pay before accessing your course. This can be done through a membership theme but there are easier ways.
You could also put the course on Udemy and encourage people to go to that platform and buy the course you will, however, be paying Udemy a fee for doing this. Hosting your course on Udemy does have some advantages because the course appears in their catalog which could be beneficial to you because people do browse their site looking for training.
Yet another way to produce an income from your site is to offer memberships. Typically you would offer a membership to your readers for information that cannot be found elsewhere on the web or that is poorly organized and you have a better way. For instance, if you were a gardener and you had a large amount of information to share with people and you could provide discounts on products a membership might be a good choice for you. This would be much like Costco offers a membership.
Many membership sites have information or products that you cannot obtain elsewhere which provides enough enticement for readers to join and pay either a one time fee or and ongoing membership fee. Just so you are aware if you are planning a monthly membership fee it will be important to keep your site updated with new information on a regular basis so people are getting value for their money. If your site does not provide new data regularly your users will simply download all of your information and canceled their membership.
There are some other methods that your site can produce an income like a coupon site. If you are looking to produce an income from another method please investigate the viability of that site idea. There are many valid ideas out there to create an income from a site but sometimes the practicality creating a specialty site can be difficult for somebody new to WordPress and may require special plugins and programs as well.
Most sites employ a multi-pronged approach to creating an income and if you are surfing around for income reports on the web you will see many major bloggers go as far as breaking down their income by affiliate program, advertising, course sales, and product sales.
It is interesting to note that some affiliate programs even for the largest of affiliate sites make only a few dollars per month. Over time there are wild swings in affiliate income from one product or another but overall the income just keeps rolling in.
To clarify my meaning you may only make a few dollars off of product “A” but product “B” is wildly successful. The next month the trend may be reversed.
Overall if you are using affiliate products you should have quite a number of them in your tool kit. When you look at income reports from some of the top bloggers, there may be 20 or more affiliate products they promote. Just remember that you need to build trust with your audience if you expect readers to use your link.
What if No One Reads My Blog?
If you have enough information you will be found and people will start reading your blog. It is not enough to write one or two articles and expect the world to come flocking to you. For Google to start trusting your information it takes anywhere from 3 to 9 months. You should consider at least 30 major blog posts and 50-60 would be better and 200 posts of at least 2000 words would be even better yet!
I use Rank Math as an SEO plugin and it certainly helps but remember, if you haven’t written the posts, no SEO plugin can help an empty website. Rank Math is a free plugin from My Theme Shop and I don’t know why it is free. It does some great things and the feedback it provides you will improve your writing for your blog.
If you’re starting a blog you should be prepared to work up to 2 years once you have your information uploaded. It’s not to say that it will take that long for your website to show up on Google but depending on how many articles you publish and how quickly you publish your blog posts it could take some time to see the full effect of your work. On Income School, they talk about how many blog publishers give up when success is just around the corner. I don’t want you to make that mistake either.
More than one blogger has said there are four phases to your blogging timeline:
The first phase is “Quiet”
No one has found you and you want to give up, but don’t. Keep writing, daily if possible. Many new bloggers will work hard on social media to get an audience and I think this is a waste of time until your site is built to something substantial. Keep writing and don’t worry about page views at this point.
Many bloggers will even give up if the world doesn’t come flocking to them now. Google may not start giving you “love” until after 6 months so be prepared to wait. Do not give up.
The second phase is “Inconsistent Traffic”
Your visitor graph will be up and down and who knows why. Again keep writing. The more pages you have the better things will get. You may hear bloggers say they get traffic from only about 10% of their pages. The statement may be true but even experienced bloggers never know what traffic will be produced from which article.
The third phase is “Rapid Growth”
This is where you see almost daily improvement with page view numbers reaching new heights. This is an exciting time for most bloggers. Google has bestowed trust on you and your articles start showing up in some cases on page one. Keep up the good work. You may be a year in at this point and you did not give up. Good for you. It’s time to see which articles are performing and which articles are dogs. Take the poor performing articles and think about better keywords and maybe a small rewrite to improve your page views.
The fourth phase is “Leveling Off”
Now your blog has reached its potential. The number of readers levels off as everyone who is looking has found your blog. In the fourth phase, it is important to keep posting new articles but with a bit less regularity than the first phases.
In this phase, many bloggers can take an extended vacation from their blog and they are right. Often as you start producing a good income you can outsource some of the tasks like social media, answering readers comments on your blog and keeping things running in general. This can also allow you to start looking at what other blogs might be in your future.
How Will I Get People to Find My Blog?
You will develop your readership by consistently blogging about what your readership needs and wants. If you are consistently blogging about vegetarianism don’t start blogging about paleo in the same space. It doesn’t make sense unless it is a one time comparison.
This just demonstrates the need for you as a blogger to know your audience. This is often referred to as creating a reader persona. Who is your Joe or Jane Average reader? Know their age, income levels, what motivates them and anything else that matters.
When you finish your blog post on social media. Have a social media calendar so you post regularly. Pinterest and Facebook do not require multiple posting but Twitter may be the exception to that rule where tweets sometimes by so fast that it is impossible to read the posts.
Some people will disagree with me on my view of Pinterest. I have heard of bloggers with over 100 pins a day. Resist the temptation to spend all day “pinning” and get some articles written.
Use pictures in your social media posts as well. Pictures are more often pondered by readers and a short tweet for instance will not get any attention. Go on to twitter yourself and watch the feed go by. You will hardly notice
Some bloggers swear by guest posting on other more popular blogs. I couldn’t agree more. If you get a link back from a popular post of yours on another blog you will see traffic start to flow in to your blog as well.
Before you start guest blogging however have your site built out with a great deal of well rounded content. When another blogger gives you an opportunity to guest post be an overachiever and give it your absolute best effort. But offering true value in your writing you will attract more readers.
Turn your articles into podcasts and record your posts and put them on your website on a podcast page. Also, your podcasts should be uploaded to one of the podcast hosting services like Buzzsprout or Podbean. This will increase your reach as they host thousands of podcasts sorted by category. They will also distribute to Itunes or Mobikin.
Finally, build a mailing list. As time goes on you will use your mailing list to keep them informed about new articles and you will also provide helpful products in your mailings. I have heard some marketers use their mailing list like a cash machine, sending out an extra mailing when they are a bit low on cash and build their revenue. Just be careful to always offer real value to your readers or you will see too many unsubscribers.
A mailing list is best set up on with a reputable service like I use. (Mailer Lite*) If you blog goes down for any reason you can still communicate with your readers through your mailing list. Really when you think about it your mailing list (which you will back up daily in 3 different locations) is the lifeblood of your business. Almost any catastrophe short of nuclear annihilation can be recovered from and your list will be there to assist you in maintaining your income.
Now one topic I did not cover in this section is post optimization. Yes, it has a place here but I want you to get the most bang for your buck and not get bogged down in the weeds. The short formula. Blog, tell people, blog for others, tell your list (as it grows). Once you have that down than you can take a deep dive into optimization and other traffic generation methods.
I also don’t believe paid advertising should be your go to in the initial phases of your business. Wait until you have a well built site with the kinks all ironed out and a good deal of content before you consider paying places like facebook to help you find readers.
How Much Money Can I Earn as a Blogger?
That’s a hard one to answer and it really does depend on your niche, your hard work the length of time blogging and your personality.
There are some dynamic bloggers out there making easily in the mid-six-figure numbers per month and there are some people out there that have put in a fair amount of work and are only earning in the hundreds of dollars per month after 2 years.
You don’t have to be in the “trickle of income” stream.
I think that anyone who applies themselves consistently with long hours and hard work can make a full time living at this business after one year. I say this not from my own experience at this point but from reviewing other bloggers work and what they have accomplished.
These bloggers are working though! Solid 12 hour days 60-80 hours per week in many cases. Is it worth it? Darn right!. If you want to get to the top of the heap or at least make a reasonably good full time living you will need to spend all of your free time at least at the beginning devoted to blogging. Once the initial work is done it does get easier. Your blog will reach its full potential and from then on only a maintenance routine will be needed. You may even have enough time to create a second blog or third blog.
It will get easier on subsequent blogs if you choose to create them. With some of the income from the first blog, you will be able to hire writers and you will have built a relationship with many of the advertisers. You will have fewer growing pains and everything should go a lot smoother than the first blog.
To prove this point Income School founders created a whole website with 30 blog posts in about 3 hours. Now obviously. They directed the labor of other folks but their time of website management amounted to 3 hours. I don’t know how much they paid writers but I would guess about $50 per article. So they spent $1500 or so on articles and a fee to a website designer and they had a full website.
You will eventually need to create your own digital products and find ways to increase monetization, mostly through affiliate links and native ads. It is not enough to rely on one source of revenue but everything you review should have the ability to make you an income.
Jim and Ricky from Income School* start out telling you your website will be a ghost town, but keep writing and get 30-40 articles completed in as short of a time as possible and then after some time you will start earning “pizza money”
Then eventually as you page views continue to rise you will look more and more attractive to advertisers and you will start getting better paying advertisers.
Don’t rely on Google Adsense or Amazon to bring you in a great amount of money. In the beginning it will do but move away from those sources of revenue when better options become available.
If you are serious and willing to commit your time and energy to starting a blog, take Jim and Ricky’s course at Income School called Project 24*. It’s under $500. Compare that to one year’s tuition at even a local community college and it’s a bargain for what they teach. Without this course I guarantee that you will make more mistakes and take longer to reach your income goals.
I like to say that if it takes one or two weeks off of your learning curve and you start producing income sooner the course will easily pay for itself. I am in their program myself and of all the money I have spent on the internet this is the only one I would spend on again.
What are Some Downsides of Blogging?
If you are not prepared to put in long hours and real work for at least the first three months of your blogging life don’t start a blog. You will have “misfires” and failures. I’ve had my share of having a good idea and then not having the wherewithal to see the idea through.
If your a social person you will be out of the loop so to speak for a number of months while you hunker down for some real work. It’s not to say you’ll never get out again but if you treat this like the business that will take care of you for the rest of your life be prepared to work for it.
If you don’t like getting in front of a camera and putting yourself out there you may have to get over this at least in a small way. Video is here and it’s not going away anytime soon. I am really reluctant to be in front of the camera so I will put myself in the corner of the screen for a few minutes and then concentrate on presenting my slides or demonstrating a product.
If you are reluctant about appearing on camera go look at what other people are doing and if you can find successful bloggers who have managed to stay off camera follow what they do. But please in order to succeed you will need to use this powerful social media avenue to increase your website page views and thus your income.
Still, another problem you can encounter when starting a blog is not to follow the advice of someone like the guys at Income School* and have your site fail because of the niche. If you choose to wide of a niche you will not be able to have enough articles to fill your site and become well known (Don’t compete with Forbes or the Huffington Post). The opposite of that is to find a narrow niche that doesn’t have enough content or people searching for your content.
A blog is never truly a “passive income” It is often presented as a passive income and yes you can make money while you sleep but without regular nurturing, your blog will slowly wither. True enough your blog will get easier to manage over time and you will be able to take days and even weeks off with little or no impact on your income or readership.
And yes you can take your laptop to the beach with you and answer a few blog comments or submit a post but there will always be some work involved. Still better than a whole lot of other ways to live.
If your not tech savvy you will have a learning curve and sometimes be downright frightened if something happens to your money machine. You or your host can have a server crash, you can lose your email list, Google could miscalculate an update and drive you into obscurity and any number of technical issues can plague you and your blog.
Through the use of backups and making sure your web host has contingency plans (or if they are using something like Amazon S2 servers you will diminish the chances of catastrophe and it might not be a big thing for a small blog but as you grow, take as many precautions as possible to insure your digital survival.
It is fairly easy to start a blog. Anyone can do it and you can even start a blog with blogger.com. However, any blogger who is serious about blogging will tell you to get a wordpress site right off the bat and I totally agree with them. Even though you can get started with a free blogging platform it is by far better to use wordpress. If you are afraid of not being able to comprehend the back end of the program use a website builder like Divi from Elegant Themes or Blocks from My Theme Shop.
So it will take a while for your blog to take off and you should expect slow growth in the beginning but as you keep at it things should start to snowball.
It is vitally important to keep your blog out there in front of everyone to see. Get lots of blog posts out there. Then be on social media, be on Youtube, be on Slideshare. Go seeking guest blog opportunities, check out and participate in forums for your niche and never stop looking for opportunities to share your message. Share your message often. Daily, and hourly if possible.
Starting a blog and making money blogging can be a gold mine and fun if you stick with it and have patience. It’s work, but you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of benefit. You’ll always know that more income is close at hand. Just remember to treat it like a serious business.
There are some risks in blogging and running a site but with a quality blog site with insightful information and some software tools and back-ups you can minimize risks.
Ask any blogger who is even semi-successful if they would do it all over again and the answer is a resounding YES!
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