Blogging is huge – everyone and their nan is doing it, except you, apparently?
I’m going to show you how to start a blog in a few steps that even my nan could follow. Not only that, but I will also make sure you leave this post with an idea of how you can monetise your blog today, or in the future, so that you can make money from your writing and potentially turn it into a full-time job, and living.
Start a Blog in 4 Stupidly Easy Steps
Starting a blog is very easy, although there there are many steps involved which may confuse those less savvy internet users, but I will try to make each step as clear as I can and hopefully it’ll be a breeze for you.
Not up to the challenge? Try my WordPress Installation service – I’ll set it all up for you!
1) Blog Purpose / Direction – Research
Before you start a blog, you need a purpose and direction to drive it forward. Wanting money probably isn’t a good enough reason to start a blog, and you’d probably run out of steam before seeing a return.
The most successful blogs are born from passion and knowledge, assuming of course that there are people out there searching for answers related to that passion. I’d always advise people to focus on one thing with their blog as it’s very rare to see successful sites that cover everything without big teams of writers.
There’s a great tool called Keyword Planner by Google which enables you to see how many times a particular query is searched for, on average, per month in their search engine. It’s very handy.
Here’s your checklist:
- You enjoy writing a lot of content?
- You have a strong passion for something?
- You have the knowledge to educate others about your passion?
- People search for answers related to your passion?
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above, you’re ready to start your first blog. Let’s go!
2) Blog Domain & Hosting – HostGator
Okay, so the first thing you are going to need to start a blog is web hosting and a domain.
There are literally thousands of hosting companies and domain registrars who would welcome your business, but I would recommend HostGator for your new blog – it’s affordable, fast and their support is excellent.
When choosing your domain, try to register something that is fairly easy to remember and related to either yourself or your chosen passion / industry. I wouldn’t worry too much about a keyword-rich domain, either, as relevancy can be achieved with individual page URLs once you start writing your awesome content.
Grab the ‘Hatchling’ plan and remove ALL ‘Hosting Addons’ when checking out or this will add a considerable amount to your monthly or yearly bill, and none of them are required. This package should cost you about £4.26 per month, excluding domain, which will cost around £7.70 per year. Very affordable.
Here’s your checklist:
- You’ve grabbed your ‘Hatchling Plan’ with HostGator?
- You’ve registered your ‘.com’ domain too?
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above, you must be ready to install your blog. Let’s go!
3) Blog Installation – WordPress
If you took my advice and grabbed your domain and hosting with HostGator then this third step is going to be extremely easy for you. Didn’t go with HostGator? Try the official WordPress installation guide here.
You’re going to need to login to your new HostGator cPanel account. Once logged in, scroll down until you find the ‘Software/Services’ section and click on QuickInstall. On the next page, find the ‘Blog Software’ section and click on WordPress. Now simply follow the instructions on screen until you see “Congratulations!”.
WordPress is an extremely powerful blogging platform and there are many plugins that can enhance it in very positive ways. I wrote a post late last year listing my 6 essential wordpress plugins – I highly recommend that you read that post and install all six of those plugins. Your blog is then ready for the world.
Here’s your checklist:
- You’ve successfully installed your new blog?
- You’ve installed the six plugins that I recommended?
- You’ve written that famous first post?
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above, you must be ready to monetise your blog. Let’s go!
4) Blog Monetisation – Make Money Blogging
Okay, so you’ve done the relevant research and found that there are people hungry for your knowledge. You’ve purchased hosting and a domain, and successfully installed WordPress. Fantastic – it’s time to monetise your content and ensure that your knowledge isn’t being put into compelling words for free.
There are many ways to monetise content, but for blogs I would usually recommend a combination of three of the big ones – contextual advertising, affiliate links and, of course, direct banner sales.
- Contextual Advertising
There are many contextual advertising platforms out there, but the big one is Google AdSense. It supports both text and image ads, which are displayed automatically depending on the content on the page. It pays for each click you receive, and the value of each click is based upon advertiser bids in AdWords.
- Affiliate Links
You can grab affiliate links directly from online retailers or service providers, or alternatively (and my preference) you can join a network / marketplace such as Commission Junction where advertisers come together in one place for publishers. Affiliate links work particularly well in great reviews.
- Direct Banner Sales
Give potential advertisers a way to contact you – make it known that you accept advertising directly and those with a related product or service will get in touch. You can set your own prices for different slots on your blog. Alternatively, you can use a marketplace such as BuySellAds for instant opportunities.
Monetisation is a necessary evil – you can’t be expected to spend hours upon hours of your life providing great, useful and knowledgeable content for free. There is a way to soften the blow with visitors, though, and that’s by using the combination above in a subtle way that actually compliments your content.
Google AdSense, for example, does well when placed directly above and below your content and affiliate links do well when placed within relevant content such as reviews of products and services, rather than banners in your sidebar. Direct banner sales, on the other hand, can be placed in your sidebar, header and/or footer with performance based on visibility, offer and visitor demographics. Don’t frustrate visitors with too many.
Here’s your checklist:
- You’ve created 2 Google AdSense ad units – one above posts, one below?
- You’ve joined Commission Junction and will link to relevant products / services in posts?
- You’ve made it clear that you accept direct advertising, and also joined BuySellAds?
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above, you’re ready to make money blogging. Congratulations!
You’re now a fully qualified blogger, how does it feel?
If you really want to make it as a blogger and generate enough revenue to be able to quit your full-time job, you absolutely must dedicate every second you can to it – writing once a week isn’t good enough, frankly.
Ideally, you will write at least one great post a day, but if you have nothing to say it’s best not to force rubbish upon your readers like I did with the Helicopter Game and Graze Box posts – rubbish in my industry, maybe, but how good is the helicopter game? See, I’m doing it again… Sorry! Best of luck – make it rain.
Leave a comment below and show off your new blog!