How to Start a Blog as a New Career and Make it Fly!
Learning how to start a blog or build a website is an essential skill if you want to make money online today. To give you a sense of scale and what can be achieved with blogging, here’s Alex Nerney’s summary of the top 21 blog earners in the World today. Some HUGE numbers here!
Blogging websites are a great way to establish your online identity and offer a natural platform for your content to flourish. However, there are a few key things you need to consider before getting started with blogging.
Here, we break down all the steps you mustn’t miss and what you need to cover before you know how to start a blog and publish it.
What is a blog and how can you benefit from it?
Simply put, a ‘blog’ is a series of online articles and content called ‘posts’. The default display for most blogs is usually a scroll down list, with the most recent posts prioritised at the top. To make content a bit more user-friendly, it is also common for posts to be ‘tagged’ as particular categories or by specific search terms. This makes posts easy to find and allows you to group posts with similar subject matter.
Most importantly, a blog can be based around any topic or ‘niche’, whether you want to create content on your favourite coffee shops and bars, your holidays destinations and experiences or posts on what shopping you’ve done this month.
The key thing to remember is that you should regularly post on your blog. Whilst websites are usually more fixed in terms of content, the main attraction of blogs is that they are up to date and consistently updated. Good blogs are successful because they post regular informative content.
Why should you start learn how to start a blog?
Here are the three main benefits:
- Make connections and network: You will make significant connections and gain recognition in your field. By refining your blogging and researching your topics well, you can become known as an expert in your field. This will increase your value as an ‘affiliate’ to sellers or merchants if you wish to pursue affiliate marketing later on.
- Creating a knowledge hub: Blogging is creating information for a public space, and a great way to share your expertise. Not only can you connect with people who are interested in the same things as you are, but you can trade your knowledge on these topics. Comment sections can be a valuable source of discussions and allow for real conversation around your posts. They also demontrate that your blog is alive and has engagement from your audience.
Top 21 Bloggers – How They Make Their Money
Yara Starak – $40,000+ /month
His main source of income comes from selling his own digital products while other income includes affiliate marketing and some advertising.
Abby Lawson – $41,000+ /month
65% of her income is from affiliate marketing and promoting products like ConvertKit (email marketing). 35% is from their own products and services (some digital training and printables).
Darren Rowse – $40,000+ /month
Advertising is the main source of income, but he also sells a course on how to build a better blog in 31 days and runs a small conference called Success Incubator.
Trevor and Jennifer Debth – $46,000+ /month
55% of their income is from advertising, sponsored posts, and freelancing. 40% is from their own video workouts (programs). The remaining 5% is from affiliate programs.
Ryan Robinson – $50,000+ /month
The majority of it comes from affiliate earnings—around 90% of his total income. The other 10% comes from his online course sales.
Steve and Jennifer Chou – $80,000+ /month
Most of it comes from selling their own digital product on starting a successful eCommerce store. They make the rest from advertising, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing.
Rosemarie Groner – $86,000+ /month
She makes around 40% through a mix of sponsored content, affiliates, and ads. The lion share comes at around 60% from her own products
They make 50% of their income from advertising, 20% from sponsored posts and affiliate marketing, and I would guess another 30%+ from Food Blogger Pro (they don’t report on its income).
Jon Morrow – $100,000+ /month
The blog makes most of its money through affiliate marketing products that help bloggers succeed and through selling its own digital course/products.
Alex Nerney and Lauren McManus – $100,000+ /month
Most of their income comes from selling digital products on both blogs. Another smaller chunk comes from affiliate marketing and a much smaller portion comes from advertising.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner – $100,000+ /month
Most of her income comes from affiliate marketing others courses and services like Bluehost, but a good portion also comes from selling her own digital products. The remaining comes from sponsorships and advertisements placed on her blogs.
Alborz Fallah – $125000+ /month
Mainly through advertising and sponsorships with brands.
Elisa Larson and Emma Chapman – $125,000+ /month
While there are no clear indicators on where the majority of their income comes from, they have said it’s a mix of…
- Sponsorships with brands
- Digital Courses and Training (Photoshop, Blogging, and Instagram Strategy)
- Physical Products (Books, Planners, Scrapbook Materials, Ect)
Jeff Rose – $138,000+ /month
33% of his income comes from a financial planning practice he manages. Another 33% comes from affiliate marketing products and services like Insurance Plans. 20% comes from selling online courses and digital products. The final 14% comes from sponsorships and advertising.
Heather and Pete Reese -$170,000+ /month
60% comes from sponsored content and affiliate marketing. The other 40% comes from selling their own products and courses.
John Lee Dumas – $195,000 /month
35% of their income comes from affiliate marketing – others courses and products like Clickfunnels (landing page software). 35% comes from selling sponsorships on this podcast. The last 30% comes from selling his own digital products and journals on Amazon.
Pat Flynn – $200,000+ /month
40% of his income historically comes from affiliate marketing different products and services like ConvertKit, Bluehost, and other high prices courses. The other 50% comes from selling his own products and courses. 10% comes from various other places.
Chiara Ferragni – $200,000+ /month
I’m honestly not sure what sets her style apart from others, but I really love her story. Homegirl started a website which drew in half a million monthly visitors per month. She then leveraged that into a brand generating over 15 million in yearly revenue.
Sarah Titus – $200,000+ /month
She makes most of her money selling printables on her online store, and also makes some money from affiliate marketing.
Melyssa Griffin – $200,000+ /month
Most of it comes from selling her own courses as well as other people’s high-priced courses, but she’s also now in the podcast game with her new venture: Pursuit of Purpose
Tim Sykes – $1,000,000+ /month
He makes most of his money by selling dvd courses that teach people how to buy and sell penny stocks and trade them.
- Earn a passive income: Making money from home is a significant reason to pursue blogging. The Top bloggers can make a surprisingly large amount of money, and if you are writing about a topic you love, it can seem like an easy income to target.
However, there is a lot of work that goes into producing top-notch content. Still, the idea of earning an income for just a few hours a week creating content is a top reason people blog. But lots of people fail at it and the net is littered with dead blogs.
If you would like to start a blog, with the potential to earn money from it, all you need is an interest or specialist subject to attract an audience to your site.
This is called a Niche. A topic you’re naturally interested in will help you find the motivation to post regular, engaging content. However, if you’re thinking of monetizing your blog (everyone should), you need to provide information that helps people solve a problem or answers a need.
Some great general blog niches, with products to promote, that are known to be profitable include:
- Health and Fitness
- Essential Oils
- Mindfulness and Self Help
- Recipes and Food
- Travel and Guides
- Parenting Skills
- DIY and Crafting
- Special Diets (Keto, Vegan, Etc.)
- Lifestyle Choice
- Money and Finance
- Home Decor
- Beauty and Fashion
- Making Money Online
- Education subjects
- Relationship Advice and Dating
- Tech Stuff
Feel free to pick a couple of topics or more and combine them.
Why is blogging still popular in 2019?
Blogging is essentially a way to share your interest or passion with a wider audience. In 2019, blogging still provides an opportunity to connect with like-minded people on shared passions for topics. As blogging has grown, so has the range of subjects that are covered.
You can always write about classic topics like travel or fashion, but you can also write about comic books or beauty products if those are more your interests. As long as you are writing about what you care about, your audience will identify with your passion and stay engaged with you. It is this which will ultimately govern whether your blog is successful or not.
Blogging is also popular in 2019 due to its use as an affiliate marketing platform. With a ready-made audience who trust their opinions, bloggers are now able to make an income from their product recommendations on their blogs.
By simply joining an affiliate network, bloggers have the chance to link particular items in their posts and receive a commission from the product seller/merchant – all by just having their audience click through on blog-based links.
The downside to starting your own blog
There are a few things would-be bloggers should pay attention to so they avoid common blogging pitfalls. Blogging can be a bigger commitment than it may seem even though you’re writing about something you love. Here are a few things you need to consider before embarking on your blogging journey:
- The Technical issues: You don’t have to be a programming whiz kid to get your own blog off the ground, but it is important that you understand a few basics. Plugins, SEO considerations and even paid links can be tricky to set up if you are completely new to setting up your own site. While working with a content management system like WordPress will alleviate some of that stress, making small mistakes can be very frustrating and sometimes even costly. You can get training online to help you with all of this.
- Accepting Feedback: Producing content for a public audience can be incredibly rewarding. Having people relate to your ideas or opinions can be very validating and often provides a great confidence-boost to budding bloggers. However, there is always the chance that someone will disagree with your work and feel the need to let you know – and not always in the friendliest of terms. Although this can be a big downside to blogging, negative opinions or feedback don’t make up the norm. Remember to keep things in perspective. The best bloggers aren’t afraid to court a little controversy and getting a discussion going is always a great target. WordPress blogs always give the opportunity to approve or disapprove comments made about your posts so you aren’t forced to publish any you don’t want to. There are also great ‘plugins’ available to filter out spam and inappropriate comments.
- Consumption of your time: Blogging often takes a lot of time. Research, writing and editing – it all adds up. If you’re taking SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) into consideration, then even more time is necessary, as you will need to produce longer, more comprehensive texts in order to perform well in organic search results. Additionally, it also takes time in the long run to build an audience and generate income. But if you want to blog, think of it as a more productive use of your time than a Loss of Time. Just think of all that time you idle away watching TV. Using some of that time to blog will not mean you have to sacrifice any extra time from your life.
Although all of these are things you need to keep in mind when learning how to start a blog, don’t quit. People always tend to quit too early if they’re trying to make money from their blog. The potential rewards of running a successful blog far outweigh these concerns. Now you can jump into preparing to start your blog with a fully prepared and more informed mindset.
In fact you shouldn’t focus on money at all. Just make it your mission to provide helpful content that people want to read. The traffic will come and you’ll find you build authority. People may even come to you to ask your advice. That’s when you’ll know you are doing good things.
Blogging for beginners
If you have considered both the pros and cons of starting a blog and are still ready to make a start, then you need to read through this step by step guide to setting your blog up.
How Do I Start a Blog For Free?
Well, you can start a free blog if you really want to.
But you shouldn’t start with a free blog if you want to turn your new blog into a successful business, and I think if you’re reading this that is exactly what you want. Here’s why:
Free blog platforms come with a whole lot of limitations, including…
- You don’t actually own your domain name
- You can’t run ads and are limited in other ways of monetizing your content
- It looks very unprofessional and isn’t as much of a trusted source
- You get less bandwidth (will need to upgrade to a paid platform when you start getting a lot of visitors and traffic to your site)
- And quite a few more!
Important : You can’t start a blog for free, without putting any money into it, and expect to earn money from it.
If it were that easy, everyone and his dog would be doing it, competition would be sky high, and no one would be making any money from it at all!
Trust us when we say that you should NOT start a free blog if you want to turn it into a successful online business.
If you are on a budget though, and most are when first starting out, the good news is that it’s not expensive.
Here are a few of the typical blog start-up needs that you should have :
- Blog hosting plan
- Customisable blog themes
- Email service
These are not just to start but also to design your new blog and to help you begin getting subscribers to your blog as well.
I expect good free options for both a blog theme and an email service. If you are on a tighter budget and can only spend money on ONE thing, the blog hosting plan is the #1 most important investment you can make.
How do you set-up a blog?
Setting up your blog can be broken down into five key steps:
1. Name your blog
Before you go anywhere, you’ll need to settle on a name for your blog. If you are worried that your top idea is already taken, most domain hosts will let you know what sites are already registered. Additionally, they will often give you similar alternatives that are still free to choose.
Your blog’s name will be the first thing your audience comes to know you by, so finding something relevant and recognisable is vital. Perhaps write up a list with some keywords related to your blog topic, and create a few different variations on catchy phrases.
Sometimes you may want to blog under your own name if you want to establish that personal touch. You need to build trust to make a difference in affiliate marketing and hiding behind an anonymous blog name may hold you back. Consider using your own name as your domain name like I’m doing on this blog.
2. Get online
A big factor in how your blog will be perceived is the hosting service you choose. Yes, you can always choose a free platform, but if you’re looking to make an income from your blog, it may be worth investing in something a little more reliable.
You should also think ahead for expansion purposes – you may develop spin off ideas and want to start other blogs – choose a platform that will accommodate this at no extra cost (other than buying the domain names).
Here are some things to consider when choosing a web host for your blog:
3. Design your blog
Once you have got the basics of choosing a name and web host out of the way, it’s time to get to the real nitty-gritty of designing your blog. Most blogging platforms actually have a simplified backend, so don’t worry about things getting too technical. Your hosts should offer backup as well, so you don’t need worry about losing any work.
It’s likely that you’ll be working with a CMS (Content Management System) to set up your posts, create formatting, and to edit your content. Most CMS platforms (like WordPress) are extremely user-friendly, so you won’t need specialist knowledge just to ensure your blog looks the way you want it to look.
WordPress is a popular choice due to its simplicity and the range of plugins or customisations available. Over 60% of all blogs are run on WordPress, including huge sites like Forbes and TechCrunch. This blog runs on WordPress and is hosted here.
Whichever system you choose, make sure you consider the design and layout carefully. You may think your content is more important but the visual impact of your site also affects your site traffic. A study from Google and the University of Basel found that users judge a website on aesthetic beauty and assumed functionality within 1/50th of a second.
First impressions count! The platform I recommend includes thousands of different WordPress themes as part of the service, so it’s easy to get the best one for your blog.
4. Start creating your content
Once you have your name and site designed, you will probably have a good idea of where you want to begin with your content. However, as with everything, a solid strategy will help save you time and also make sure your posts follow a cohesive path.
An editorial calendar is essentially an outline of which posts you’ll cover and on what date. This will allow you to plan key topics and tangential discussions, as well as letting you productively organise your research. So how do you come up with the topics for your calendar?
Brainstorming is basic but effective. Jot down as many ideas or terms related to your blog topic as you can. Think of some questions you’ve had about the topic, because if you have wondered about something, it is likely your potential audience has too.
There are even keyword research tools available like Jaaxy to help you add to your word cloud. After you have come up with some strong ideas, organise them by setting up a spreadsheet (Jaaxy allows you to save keyword lists). Here you can list your ideas and rank them by:
- How well they fit your blog topic
- How much demand there is from your readers
- How much potential blog traffic would be created
It’s also worth checking out other bloggers in your space to discover which of their posts have the most engagement or have been shared most. Remember, blogging is about working within a network so the work of others is often a great, accessible resource for inspiration. Part of curating your content will involve liking to ‘authority sites’ such as Wikipedia where necessary.
5. Start promoting and earning money
Your blog has pretty much taken shape by this point – you have both the design and content prepared. The last thing to think about is your audience and how they will find you.
Promoting your content can be time consuming but it is definitely worth it once you start seeing increased site numbers. Additionally, if you are also aiming to start affiliate marketing, your web traffic needs to be healthy, otherwise you will not see much in the way of returns on affiliate links.
The general rule is to spend at least twice as long promoting your content as you did creating it. Here are a few avenues through which you can promote your blog:
- Social media: Aside from sharing with your existing network of friends and family, don’t hesitate to promote your blog on relevant pages. For example, if you are writing about fashion or design, comment on a magazine’s Facebook posts with a link to your own page. You should set up Social sharing buttons on all your posts to allow easy promotion to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and others.
- Interview people in your network: A great way to gain an audience is by aligning yourself with more established names in your niche. If you have a connection with someone in the blogging world that has an existing audience, you will generate both content and promotion for your own page by posting based on that connection. Perhaps do a video if you can meet face to face, or record a phone call to them and post the audio on your blog.
- Network with fellow bloggers: Engaging with other bloggers via comments and social media is a great way to make a name for yourself in a particular field of interest. If you have a positive dynamic, more popular bloggers may give you a shout out or mention in their own content. My second recommended hosting includes it’s own social space, where bloggers help each other out with topics and tactics. This includes access to some very successful people in affiliate marketing circles. You should read my review here.
- Set up a mailing list: If you have worked so hard to find an audience, it makes sense to work to retain them. Ensure your audience feels connected to you and continues to visit your blog by reaching out regularly with engaging content. Offer them a free ebook or guide in exchange for their email address. See my own mailing list hook at the top right of this blog.
The last point is probably the most important. Regularly contacting your audience is a great way to keep them engaged and interested in your ongoing content. Set up a signup form in your posts, I use a free one here, and you will accumulate email addresses quickly and easily.
Once you have these subscribers, you can manage your newsletters with professional services like AWeber.
Updating your audience when you have new content drives traffic up and ensures your readers won’t miss any of your work that you post. You can also inform your audience of any special promotions you may have.
Blogging tips to get you started quickly
So, your blog is set up, and you’re ready to click publish on your first post. But wait! Before you go live, here are three quick tips to help you get started on the right note:
1. Keep your content consistently strong
It’s one thing to write about what you love but another to write about it effectively. To make sure your content is as good as it should be, take advantage of resources online like SEO-writing guides and tools like Yoast.
This is a free WordPress plugin that helps you ensure your content is Google-friendly and ready to rank organically in searches. There are also writing guides built into the hosting to ensure your posts are the best they can be.
2. Keep your content honest
Building a loyal audience is a key factor to ongoing success with blogs and returning readers are consistently high drivers of site traffic. Additionally, audience loyalty is a strength if you decide to branch out into affiliate marketing as they will trust your recommendations and drive your sales with any affiliate partners you work with.
For that reason, it is important to maintain a level of honesty in your work. Don’t be afraid to be a little controversial if you feel justified. It breeds engagement and discussion, which proves to Google that your blog is vibrant and worthy of a higher rank.
3. Keep your content focused
Along with an editorial calendar, dedicate a fixed amount of time per week to your blog. Try to blog 3 times per week. As a starter blog, it is important to establish yourself with consistent and high-quality content. Building an audience will be vital to your blog’s ongoing success, so make sure you’re working with this in mind.
By setting some time aside, you are less likely to rush your posts. You will also be better able to keep your target audience in mind when producing content. This is called Writing with Intent. Try to write 1,500 words minimum per post. You might find it easier to write by splitting your posting into sessions of 500 words each until they’re complete.
Although there are a number of things to consider before diving in head first, starting a blog is a great way to establish yourself online. By creating your own unique space, you will connect with an audience and network of people who share your interests or hobbies.
You will become an authority and be approachable as the go-to contact in your niche. Eventually, other bloggers will link to your content as you start to grow your traffic. You’ll know you’ve made it when others start asking you for an interview!
Additionally, if you are successful enough in building your audience, you can strive to make an income from your blog. Concepts such as affiliate marketing are a great way to monetise your hard work and content creation.
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