How to Start a Profitable Blog
If you want to learn how to start a profitable blog, then you have come to the right place!
There are so many great reasons to start a blog and benefits of starting a blog. In my opinion, blogging really is the best job ever because of the opportunity to help people to solve their problems and improve their lives and to be able to spend your time working on something you are completely passionate about. It’s also a way to potentially earn a great income in order to help provide for your family (as an entrepreneur, your income is virtually limitless—there are many bloggers who make over $100,000 a year). And other perks include being able to have autonomy and be your own boss, have a flexible work schedule, and work from home or anywhere else that you want. So another benefit of blogging is that you can work from home in order to be there to take care of children or elderly parents.
Maybe you’re afraid that you won’t be able to make money as a blogger. Well, the awesome thing about blogging is that bloggers are just wonderful but truly ordinary people sharing what they really care about and trying to help others improve their lives. Here are a few of my favorite bloggers who make great incomes (many of them are personal finance bloggers, but there are a few from other niches as well):
Rosemarie at The Busy Budgeter: More than $100,000 per month.
Kristin at Believe in a Budget: More than $100,000 a month as of earlier this year.
Michelle at Making Sense of Cents: More than $100,000 a month.
Carly at Mommy on Purpose: Over $5,000 a month when she published her last income report a couple of years ago (plus additional income from blogging about blogging); you can receive current income reports by joining her email list.
Heather and Pete at It’s a Lovely Life: More than $100,000 a month after expenses.
Abby at Just a Girl and Her Blog: More than $40,000 per month.
Lena at What Mommy Does: She was making more than $10,000 a month a couple of years ago, and her income has undoubtedly increased measurably since then.
Caroline Vencil: More than $10,000 per month.
Alex and Lauren at Avocadu: More than $20,000 per month (without including income related to blogging about blogging).
Sarah Titus: More than $100,000 per month.
Steps to Start a Profitable Blog
Each step listed here will be explained in more detail below.
- Identify a topic to blog about.
- Choose a name and domain for your blog.
- Choose a hosting service provider.
- Choose your plan and set up your account.
- Install WordPress.
- Choose a theme and start setting up your blog through WordPress.org.
- Start creating amazing content for your blog!
7 Simple Steps to Start a Money-Making Blog
Blogging has got to be one of the simplest and least expensive businesses to start. All you need is some time, a laptop and internet connection, and a passion you want to share with others. You can literally set up a basic blog in 15 minutes or less. So let’s get started!
1. Identify a topic (niche) to blog about.
The first thing that you need to do in order to begin blogging is to choose a topic to blog about. While it is true that you can set up a blog and write about any and every topic that you want, if you want to monetize your blog, you should generally choose a particular topic and stick to it. This is important in part because you will rank higher in Google results if you make it easier for the search engine to understand what you are blogging about by staying with one topic. In addition, when you blog about a particular topic, people who come to your blog will know what to expect, and so it may be easier to turn them into loyal readers. In other words, your following will grow more quickly.
Because you are going to have to write a lot of content and do so pretty consistently (at least for the first few years), if you want to make good money blogging, you should choose a topic that is pretty broad and that you love.
You can probably create a money-making blog in virtually any niche (read this article to learn how bloggers make money), but because the following are broadly popular topics, you are likely to have more success earning income from you blog if you stick with one of the six niches listed here.
- Making money
- Personal finance
- Health and fitness
- Beauty and fashion
For myself, I have been passionate about personal finance ever since I learned about the power of compound interest back in 2005. I was in a class that had nothing in general to do with personal finance, but on that day the instructor chose to teach about compound interest, and it changed my life forever. After that I wanted to learn everything I could about the subject, and so I started devouring articles and books on the topic. At one point I even went alphabetically through the library’s personal finance section, reading all of the books in the collection until well past the middle of the alphabet. Eventually I got interested in another topic, but by then very little of what I was reading was new information, in any case. I’m an editor by trade and have also done freelance editing and writing for over 15 years (since before I graduated from college), so when I learned that you could actually make money blogging about personal finance, I was ecstatic! Of course I love the opportunity to make money writing about and teaching others about something that I care about so deeply.
So how can you decide on a niche? Ask yourself these questions: What am I passionate about? Is this something that a lot of other people are passionate about, as well? Are there good ways that I can make money in this niche? (See the list above for a good indication of whether or not you can.) If the answer is no to any of these questions, then you might want to keep looking at other options.
2. Choose a name and domain for your blog.
Once you have followed the guidelines above and chosen a topic to blog about, your next step is to choose a name for your website, such as iloveallcupcakes.com. This is the fun part! But it can also be a little tricky because of course many of the simplest names are already taken, such as personalfinances.com. But you could use your name, if it is not common and isn’t already a domain name for someone else. Or you could try a variety of pairings of words to find an available domain name. For example, you could blog at bestfitnesscoachever.com.
In general, when choosing a domain name, you should follow these guidelines:
- Make it short. (My own blog title is not the best example of this, but I love the name anyway! :))
- Make it easy to remember.
- Include a word related to your niche market if you would like, as this can be a slight advantage in search rankings.
- Make it something easy to pronounce.
- Don’t use the name of another company in your domain name. So, for example, don’t choose “bestiphonereviews.com” or “bloggingforapples.com.” If you do, you could get yourself sued for copyright infringement.
- Use something that you could keep for the long term, if desired.
- Typically avoid web addresses with hyphens or numerals,
- Check to see if the URL you would like is available. If not, keep trying similar words and combinations till you find one that works that is available.
- Go with .com, since that is what is easiest to remember.
- Consider purchasing the other extensions of the web address so that someone else can’t buy them out from under you.
Once you have decided on one or a few potential domain names, type them in a search bar or Google them to see if they are still available. If you are from the U.S., you may also want to do a search for the name in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
If you would like help choosing a name, go to our new, closed Families for Financial Freedom community Facebook group and create a poll and ask group members to vote on their favorite. It is an awesome, supportive community,
Note: You don’t actually have to have a domain name chosen before you install WordPress (that step is explained below). So if you can’t decide right away, you can skip this step and come back to it later.
3. Choose a hosting service provider.
The next step to open a blog is to choose a hosting service. The hosting service is the company that puts your website up on the internet so that others can find it. It is basically like an online hard drive for your blog content. There are a lot of hosts to choose from, and honestly it took me quite a long time to decide on one. I finally decided on SiteGround because of the comments in the threads about web hosting providers in a couple of closed Facebook groups that I am a member of. The majority of bloggers in both groups use SiteGround, and they said they were happy with both the hosting service and the customer service and technical support. There were also several people in both threads who said that they had had bad experiences with Bluehost, but no one had said that about SiteGround. So even though I love saving money, the $1 or $2 a month I would save with Bluehost with the two smaller plans just aren’t worth the potential problems.
SiteGround’s hosting price is a good deal (though it is not the cheapest—but at an introductory rate of just $3.95 a month for their starter plan, it is still a great deal!), and the web hosting service also had good reviews when I Googled “SiteGround reviews.” I did the same thing for Bluehost, and looked through at least three pages’ worth of results for each—because I really wanted to make a good choice since I planned to sign up for at least a couple of year’s worth of hosting service. Bluehost is cheaper, but it also had a lower ranking in various review sites, and again, those in the FB groups recommended SiteGround (and many who initially started with Bluehost said that they had moved over to SiteGround later). So I don’t know why so many bloggers promote Bluehost, but unless the price is a real factor (and the price difference should only be a couple of dollars a month at most, so I think for most people it won’t be), I recommend you go with SiteGround.
4. Choose your plan and set up your account.
Choose your plan. Now that we’ve got that settled, you can choose your SiteGround plan. To set up your site right now (it takes only about 15 minutes), open a new browser window and go to siteground.com. SiteGround has three plans to choose from: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek. One thing that is super helpful on their site is that they give you a guideline for which plan to choose based on how big you think your site will grow to (or how big it is, if you’re transferring your site from another web hosting service). Because I intended to grow my site quite rapidly and because the price difference between the least expensive and the middle plan was only $2 a month, I went with the GrowBig plan to start.
Since I’m going to assume that you want to grow your blog in order to grow your income, as well, I’m going to recommend that you start with the GrowBig plan. But if you choose the StartUp plan and then outgrow it by receiving many more visitors to your site than the plan is meant to accommodate, you can easily upgrade to the GrowBig plan at that time.
So, choose your plan, and then click Get Started.
Enter your domain name. Now, type in your desired domain name.
Again, you do not have to have a domain name (website address) before you choose a hosting service, so if you want a little more time to choose a domain name, then just skip this step for now.
Enter your account information. Here, you will fill out your account information by choosing an email address and password, and you will fill out your contact and payment information. (Choose to pay for 12 months or more at a time for the best deal.)
Determine if you want any of the extra services. You can also register your domain name at this time (which you should do unless you’ve already registered your domain name with another service provider or haven’t decided on a name yet), decide whether to make your domain private or not, and choose whether to pay for the optional site scanner that will check your site daily to see if it has been hacked. If you don’t want your personal information tied to your blog to be publicly available, you should choose to purchase domain privacy (which I did do, as well; it is only an extra dollar a month, and the privacy protection is worth it I feel).
Then make sure you click the box that says you agree to the terms of service, and then click Pay Now.
Awesome—you now have a hosting service, and you’re ready to install WordPress (more on this below) and set up your site. But if that part seems overly daunting, you can also contact a SiteGround representative via live chat and ask them to set up WordPress for you. They can do it for you in about 15 minutes, and then you’ll be able to access your new site.
5. Install WordPress.
Complete software setup. While there are several blogging platforms to choose from, the most popular choice for those who want to run profitable blogs is one from WordPress.org (not the free WordPress.com—because you don’t own the content and so your options for monetizing might be limited). The reason most bloggers use WordPress is largely because WordPress is very customizable with thousands of different themes and countless plugins.
So, if you choose to set up WordPress yourself (or you can ask a SiteGround representative to do it for you, as mentioned above), then go to the My Accounts tab, and click on Go to CPanel.
Then, from the Autoinstallers section, click WordPress, and then click Install.
Then fill out the Software Setup information. Choose your protocol; I recommend you use https (rather than http). This gives visitors to your site more confidence that your site is secure.
Choose your domain name from the drop-down list, unless you don’t have one yet.
For the In Directory option, you can leave this blank unless you know you want to use it.
Complete site settings. Fill in the site name, unless you don’t know it yet.
Provide the site description with a sentence about the purpose of your blog.
Choose an admin username and password that you will use to log in to your blog.
For admin email, enter your email address.
Then choose your preferred language, decide if you would like to select plugins to limit the number of login attempts or allow login without a password (passwordless login).
You can then choose a theme, but I would recommend that you wait until you are in the backend of WordPress to do that.
Then click Install. Congratulations—you now have a blog!
You should now be able to log in to WordPress with the new username and password you just set up a couple of minutes ago.
6. Choose a theme and start setting up your blog through WordPress.org.
Now that you have installed WordPress, you can start setting up your blog!
Go to https://www.YOURDOMAINNAMEHERE.com/wp-admin
You can use one of many free themes to get you started, or for about $100 you can choose a more professional-looking theme from one of the theme families like Genesis or Divi from Elegant Themes.
I chose the Divi theme because it looks great and has a super helpful drag-and-drop feature to save time while creating your web pages. It is also user friendly and very customizable and offers features that other services charge extra for, such as A/B testing and countdown timers (which are very helpful when you intend to make money from your blog!).
The Divi theme has close to 100 layouts you can choose from (and they regularly add more, so they very well might have over 100 layouts by the time you read this!), so you are sure to find a layout with a look and feel that you love. Or if you want to keep things super simple, you can even choose the Simple layout to get started, like I did.
If you have the money, you can pay $250 to buy an unlimited license for the Divi theme, which means you can use it year after year. Or again, you can pay $100 for the first year, and according to what I have read, you can then just pay the difference in price ($150) after a year to upgrade to the unlimited license if you want to. (I decided to go with the unlimited license to start because I had heard great things about the product and plan to use it for years to come with this and perhaps future websites I create, which you can also do with the unlimited license.)
I am not an overly techie person, but learning to use the Divi theme has overall been pretty simple (and fun!).
It really is a great product. For example, in addition to having different types of web pages already laid out for your in various designs, such as the home page, about page, post page, sales page, contact page, content page, and more, you can clone pages you have already made and modify them to create similar pages and do other time-saving tricks. Learn more about the Divi theme here.
And just a word of caution: From what I have read, the Genesis theme, though it has some great features and functionality, is not very user friendly. So I would recommend that you not start with that theme while you are just learning to use WordPress and learning the ins and outs of blogging.
As you set up your blog, make sure you include the following:
- A good profile picture
- A well-thought-out blog menu with your blog’s main categories and other important pages
- A strong About Me page
- A Disclosure page (if you plan to use affiliate links)
- Contact information
- Links to your social media pages
7. Start creating amazing content for your blog!
You’ve arrived! You can now start creating awesome content for your future readers. Before beginning to really promote your blog through social media and other methods, you may want to have at least 5 to 10 pillar posts, which are (generally longer) posts made up of core content that helps your readers solve problems that they face. Remember to keep your ideal reader (your avatar) in mind as you write. And then write, write, write! Set up a schedule of days you plan to post blogs, and then stick to it. Your readers will appreciate the predictability of knowing when to expect to hear from you.
And remember—blogging is supposed to be fun!
In my opinion, blogging really is the best job ever. It lets you write about your passion. It allows a flexible schedule and working from home (or anywhere!) in your jammies! It allows you to be your own boss and have autonomy in your work. It allows you to work as hard and as much as you want—and to see direct results and rewards for the effort you put in. It allows you the opportunity to earn an amazing income. It allows you an outlet for your creativity. And most important, for me, it allows you to be home with your little ones or to take care of elderly parents.
Note: If you really want to learn the basic ins and outs of creating a profitable blog quickly, I recommend the Blog by Number course and ebook by Suzi Whitford. It’s the course that I took to get started as a new blogger. You can complete the course in less than three hours (not all in one sitting, unless you want to! :D) and have an excellent introduction to how to start a blog and how to begin monetizing it in order to earn money. And the class was just updated this month!
I have taken several of Suzi’s courses now, and they are all excellent. She is an an engaging instructor who teaches in an easy-to-understand and even fun way. She’s great.
Invitation to Share
Was there something on this website that has inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help others? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being. Thank you!
Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.