I’ve been blogging for over 5 years and even though it started as just a hobby, it soon turned into a career. Starting a blog can be overwhelming (I recommend starting a blog with Siteground for just £2.95 a month) but it doesn’t have to be. This guide will help you streamline the process and get started in the right way.
(This post contains affiliate links – click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
Things to keep in mind before you start a blog
Blogging is a great way to make money online but it’s not a quick and easy solution, it’s a job. If you want to be successful at blogging, you’ll need to put in the effort and be in it for the long-haul. If you can see your blog as a business and treat it as such, then you are much more likely to succeed.
Not every monetization method will work for every type of blog, it’s up to you to decide what the right fit for your blog is, depending on your audience and ultimately some blog niches will just make less money than others.
Who will your blog serve & do you need a niche?
The first step before even starting your blog, is deciding on your topic and who your audience will be. I firmly believe that you do need a niche but if you want to make money blogging, I wouldn’t get too specific that your audience will be too small.
My first blog’s niche, Anxious Lass, is a personal development blog which focuses on mental health. It’s niche enough that it attracts the right audience but it doesn’t limit itself to too small of an audience.
Ask yourself what you’re good at writing about? What subject are you super knowledgeable in? Will this subject make money?
Some of the most profitable blog niches are:
– Business & Marketing
– Personal Finance
– Personal Development
– Health & Fitness
Choosing a blog name
When you choose a blog name, you need to make sure that it’s original and isn’t already in use. Don’t just check if the domain name is available but check that the name is available on all social media platforms too. You can use this handy name checker to help you out.
Where to start a blog
Once you’ve come up with your blog name, I’d recommend setting up your domain and hosting with Siteground. They are my favourite hosting company (and trust me, I’ve used lots in the past when starting up my businesses) and their customer service is excellent.
A few reasons why I prefer Siteground over any other host;
- They have several plans to choose from, so you don’t spend money on web space that you don’t yet need. (I recommend their StartUp plan first, at £2.95 a month, as you won’t need much space or bandwidth until your blog has been running for a while and you’re getting more traffic)
- I never have any downtime anymore and my websites actually load faster, which means I get ALL the traffic coming to my blogs, not just the traffic that managed to get lucky or persevere through the slow loading time.
- You don’t need any technical knowledge to get started with Siteground, they even have an application to install WordPress, so that you don’t have to figure out how to do that by yourself! They really simplify the process for you and it means you can set up your blog in very little time.
- Their live chat support is brilliant! They are super quick to respond and fix any issues you have.
How to set up your blog
You’ve probably already heard people talking about WordPress if you’ve been researching how to start a blog. It’s hands down, the BEST platform to base your blogging website on and pretty much every pro blogger sings it’s praises.
If you sign up for Siteground hosting, you can choose to install WordPress automatically using their WordPress launch. That way you don’t need to install it yourself or have someone else manually install it for you, it’s all automated, so it’s super quick.
Your blog design
Your blog design is so important, you need to give your readers a good reason to come back to your blog and stay their for a while. As well as your blog looking good, it needs to be functional and easy to use and not forgetting mobile responsive!
A lot of pro bloggers (including myself on more than one of my websites) tend to use the Genesis framework. A lot of premium WordPress themes require Genesis to be installed first, so make sure when you purchase a theme if it requires Genesis.
There are a lot of great themes available, that you can customise. I prefer finding my themes on Creative Market.
Here are some themes I like below:
Powered by Creative Market
Powered by Creative Market
Powered by Creative Market
Firstly, to get your blog post shared thousands of times, it needs to include something of value. If you’re a lifestyle blogger, writing a blog post about a recent day out to the Zoo, don’t just talk about what you did at the Zoo and how much you liked the Zoo, but give the reader a guide to what attractions they can see at the Zoo, where they can eat there and what times are best to go.
Secondly, write a killer headline! Not many people will share a blog post called “My Trip To Chester Zoo” but they will be much more likely to share “5 Chester Zoo Attractions You Shouldn’t Miss”.
Next is writing your content. You should aim to write at least 500 words depending on your subject. If you’re teaching your readers something, then blog posts of 1,000 words or more are best.
Break your content up into digestible pieces. Using smaller paragraphs makes your blog posts easier to read, especially if you have subheadings for different sections of your post. Be sure to add an introduction and a conclusion or a call to action!
How to get traffic to your blog
There are lots of different ways to get blog traffic but for now, I’ll stick to the most popular and effective methods:
Practically everyone uses search engines, there are approximately 3.5 billion searches carried out on Google every single day. You would be a fool to miss out on a piece of that pie!
There are a few ways you can optimise your blog posts to gain traffic from search engines, such as:
- Plan your keywords and keyphrases using a keyword planner
- Use your keyword in your blog post title, a few times in your body of text, in subheadings and in your image alt tags. Don’t go overboard by stuffing keywords everywhere for the sake of it, your keywords need to have context.
- Get quality backlinks by guest posting on higher ranking websites in your niche, to show Google that your blog as authority.
- Make sure your domain is HTTPS:// and is secure with SSL, as Google now ranks secure sites higher. Siteground offers a free SSL certificate, so you don’t have to pay anything extra for this.
- Use a SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) plugin for WordPress, such as Yoast SEO where even the free version has tons of features. Yoast has a score system, which is especially helpful if your an SEO newbie and have no idea how to optimise your blog posts for search engines.
A huge portion of my traffic is from Pinterest. If you use Pinterest correctly, it’s a bloggers goldmine where traffic is concerned.
A quick note about Pinterest, while it is regarded as social media, it’s really not a social media site, it’s an incredibly powerful search engine and requires a bit of work and patience to see results.
Here’s how to get started on Pinterest:
I use Tailwind to schedule my pins because I like to pin between 50-80 times a day and because a) I don’t have the time to pin all of those pins manually and b) Tailwind helps me schedule my pins for exactly the right times of day.
Pin your content in a mixture of your own boards (as well as other peoples content) and group boards. You can find suitable group boards to join by browsing PinGroupie.
Enable Rich Pins
Rich pins make sure that pins saved from your blog, clearly show more details about your blog post, such as the title and description. They also show ingredients for a recipe or product price and description. They improve the experience for people looking at your pins and help boost your engagement.
To enable rich pins, first you need to include meta data in your blog post, such as your title and description. To do this, you will need an SEO plugin, like Yoast SEO which I mentioned earlier. Next you need to validate your Pins through Pinterest’s Rich Pin Validator. Go through the steps and click validate and done!
Create eye catching pins
The recommended pin size is 600×900 or an aspect radio of 2:3. Your pins need to be longer than they are wide and be of good quality.
I create all my pins in Canva and it’s free unless you want to pay for extra business features or the premium stock photos. You can also find really good quality stock photos for free on Unsplash. Although I’d advise taking your images yourself or paying for stock photos if you can, as Pinterest will favour these!
Using tailwind tribes a long side your manual or scheduled pinning can really help grow your traffic but you have to put in what you take out.
Tribes show the amount of pins you have shared from each specific tribe, so you aren’t just plugging your own pins and ditching. This is what makes them better than group boards, as people HAVE to pin to put their own content in. Meaning your pins are more likely to get shared than in a group board with no such accountability.
My mental health blog does really well on Facebook for two reasons:
1 – I have my own Facebook group where I can talk to the readers of my blog on a personal level.
2 – I create shareable content
I find that the personal story type blog posts do better on Facebook, while the “how to” and “list posts” do better on Pinterest. I think this is because when people share links to blogs on their Facebook timeline, it’s because they want to show their friends and family what they’re going through.
A post like “What it’s like to have a mental illness” is going to do better with someone on Facebook because it tells their story better than they can.
I always make sure I include a long caption when I link to a new blog post, usually a quote from the post itself and I also re-purpose old blog posts and share them on my slower days.
Twitter + Instagram
I’m bunching these two together because I don’t spend as much time on these platforms as I should and have never gotten major traffic from them, however I have built good connections with people in my industry by being on both platforms and it has led me to be in the media and working with other fantastic bloggers.
Here’s a post from What’s Katie Up To about growing your instagram.
How to set up an email list
This is super important if you want to make money with your blog, now or in the future. Collecting an email list will be extremely valuable, especially if you go on to sell your own products or courses.
It’s crucial that you implement a way for people to sign up to your email as soon as you start a blog.
You might see that I have several ways of allowing people to sign up to my email list, including a few forms dotted around and a popup. I use MailerLite for all of this, in fact, I switched to them from Mailchimp because there was so much more I could do with them.
Automation was the biggest thing for me, as I wanted a welcome series to be emailed to everyone who signed up to my list. I also used this feature to create my free email course on my mental health blog. So I needed to be able to have automated, scheduled emails go out to my readers as soon as they sign up. You usually have to pay straight away for this privilege on most email services but with MailerLite I could do this for free, up until I hit the 1,000 subscribers mark. Pretty cool!
Their traffic reports are also excellent and you can segment your email list into different groups.
Getting people to sign up with an opt-in incentive
An opt-in incentive is a free resource or digital product that you offer to your subscribers when they sign up.
This could be a mini PDF guide, email course, a checklist or access to a free resource library, like you see on this blog!
Make sure your opt-in is related to your niche and acts as a sample of what your readers can expect from you. It needs to be helpful and good enough that people who access your opt-in incentive, will seriously consider purchasing your bigger paid for products.
How to make money from your blog
There are lots of ways you can monetise but these are the main ways to make money from your blog;
Affiliate links are unique links you use to recommend a product or service on your blog and when someone purchases through that link, you get a commission. There are lots of good affiliate marketing networks online to sign up as an affiliate, but here are my favourites:
ShareASale – ShareASale is my favourite overall affiliate program and the one I make the most consistent money from.
You sign up to each program individually and then you can use their links and banners etc. Each company has their own set of terms, like how much commission you get and how many days after they click your link will you get a commission if they purchase. You can search affiliate programs by keyword, making it easy if you have a very specific kind of product or service you want to recommend.
Amazon Associates – One of the best affiliate marketing programs, especially if you like to recommend physical products. Everyone knows and trusts Amazon, so it’s an easier way of getting commissions.
ClickBank – This network is for digital products, making it a fab place to find ebooks and online courses to recommend. You also don’t need to sign up to each program individually, you can start using affiliate links for any product straight away.
You can also find other affiliate marketing programs by searching a product or service that you’d like to recommend in Google, along with the words “affiliate program”.
Make sure you ALWAYS tell people at the top of your blog posts or emails that your post contains affiliate links, to keep your blog legal!
If your blog is getting a suitable amount of traffic, you can make money from your blog by implementing ads. These are my favourite ad networks:
Mediavine – You need to have at least 25,000 sessions a month to be accepting into Mediavine but they are a lot of professional bloggers favourite ad network and you can make much more money than you could with ad networks with easier approval.
Google Adsense – Adsense is much easier to get approved for, so I’d start with this ad network in the beginning. You also need to be in good standing with Adsense before getting approved on Mediavine, so it’s definitely worth being on there if you’d like to apply for the bigger networks later down the line.
Media.net – Another network I’ve used that’s easier to get approved for.
Companies often sponsor blogs through things like paid guest posts, paid reviews and even mentions on social media channels. Once your blog has gained some traction and you’re getting a good amount of regular visitors every month, it’s not too difficult to find companies who will happily sponsor you or pay you to be an influencer.
You don’t even have to have a massive following to be sponsored, as some companies prefer smaller bloggers but with better engagement.
My favourite network for finding sponsorship opportunities is Bloggers Required.
Perhaps your blog is about health and you can offer 1-1 nutrition advice, or your blog is about marketing and you can offer online coaching. Using your blog as a platform to sell a service is a great way of building an income, as you’re already driving people to your blog who are interested in the service you’re selling.
You could sell digital products such as ebooks, courses, printables or even physical products that are related to your niche.
I use SendOwl to sell ebooks and I recommend Teachable for selling courses.
I really hope this post was helpful and you’re now armed with more knowledge to help you start a blog. Please consider sharing this post if you think it could help someone else.
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