So right now I’m currently working on my master guide for “How To Start and Grow a Six Figure Blog.” (It’s free – click here to be notified of it once it’s live.) In the meantime, however, I wanted to offer some guidance for how to start a blog that makes money – to get you going in the right direction. I mean:
- What are the core foundations you need to have in place?
- How can you set your blog up for success right from the start?
- What key things do you need to make sure you have or do?
- And what are the biggest lessons I’ve learnt? (Insider tips!)
See in this post, I’m going to essentially create a tick-list for how to start a blog that makes money. The goal? To save you time and enable you to learn from the start-out “mistakes” that I made.
DID YOU KNOW: My six figure blog is actually my third blog. Uh huh, I tried two other blogs prior to it and invested a lot of time into them, yet didn’t make a single penny from them! Do I regret it? No way! Because the learning I took away from it, was what enabled me to drive the success I have done today.
Now, I’m going to give you a little peak into this – to support you on your journey, and help you get it right from the start. Does that sound good? Awesome! Then, let’s get stuck in…
How To Start a Blog That Makes Money
So when it comes to how to start a blog that makes money, you want to:
1) Carefully Pick Your Niche
First up, if you want to start a blog that makes money, you have to pick your niche. Know who you’re targeting and covering what type of content / key topics.
You can’t be everything to everyone. If you try to, your influence will be diluted and Google will be confused as to what you’re actually all about.
See, having a niche, really helps with SEO and domain authority (DA). Once your blog is established as a valuable source of information in the niche, your ranking is higher in search engines and your blog posts are shown first.
Also for you, by getting clearer on your niche – blogging becomes less overwhelming. My first blog, for example, was called “The Lucky Truth.”
It was about everything and anything to do with “supporting, uplifting and inspiring young women.” It sounds great in theory but it just ended up getting completely lost, offering bits of advice about all different things, but not really being specialist at anything.
Know Your Topic, And Your Target Audience…
So by determining your niche, it enables you to grow your blog faster and stronger – homing in on a particular topic for a set target audience, to become an expert in that field. But that’s a big part of it too – it’s not just about the topic. It’s also about the audience.
For example – think how many travel blogs there are on the internet right now. But wouldn’t it be very different recommending things to do and places to travel if you’re writing for a single 20-something, compared to a family with children?
So that’s why niching it down is so important. It then allows you to offer more valuable content – and that’s what google then favours.
What To Do After This
So the process for deciding what kind of blog you want to start and who it will target:
- Brainstorm Ideas. Look at where your expertise lies, what you enjoy and what you would feel confident writing about.
- Research Your Competition. Search the kind of content you’d want to write, to find other blogs similar to what you have in mind. Look into their traffic stats – see how long they’ve been going, how well they’re getting on, and who their main competition is to find others that are similar. A great free site to do this on is: “Website SEO Checker”.
- Do Some Keyword Research. You can also look into the topics you have in mind, and your overall blog as a whole, by using Google Trends and free tools like Wordtracker. This shows you the volume of searches you’re getting, all over the world, on those set things. Please note: these are still rough guidelines, but it helps to give you more of an indication as to how well your idea could take off!
- Map Out a Plan. Once you’ve gathered up as much information as you can, you can then knuckle down further on your topics, your niche, your target audience and your mission, to start to bring it altogether, building up a content plan to match that.
Remember: the more relevant you can keep your content to your target audience and niche – the easier it will be to rank and the more you grow your authority in this area and the more traffic (and ultimately, income) will increase!
What About The Name?
Now I know what you may be thinking at this point – “Okay, I have a good idea of what I want to go for, but what about the name?!” Oh the painful decision of picking your blog name! So before we go any further, let’s pause on this for a second…
See, I get that making this decision can seem quite daunting. It feels so permanent after all. But it’s more about WHAT you write than what you’re called. Your brand will also build over time, based on what you write, so:
- Brainstorm options.
- Check availability for each one. (More on that in a moment.)
- Then go for what you like and what you know you can work with.
Try not to overthink it. Just go with your gut, get a little feedback, maybe experiment with logos and if you’re still happy with how it’s coming together (and it feels right), go for it!
Securing Your Domain
Now as good as a blog name may be – you may not actually be able to run with it unless it’s free (someone else hasn’t already bought a domain with that name.) Your name will therefore be massively influenced by domain availability.
When it comes to choosing a domain (and therefore weighing up your options for what you could call it):
- Always choose a .com domain when possible. This should be your blog URL.
- Try to buy a domain that also has the .co.uk available. And if it is free – purchase this too.
(It’s not essential to buy this when you’re brand new, but it’s good to check it’s available for the future and you can then purchase it once you’re ready – to avoid any competition / confusion when it comes to your name and people being able to find you.)
- Keep it as short and concise as possible (as a general rule – aim for below 15 characters.)
- Avoid using numbers, hyphens, and homophones (words that sounds the same but are spelled differently.)
- Avoid complicated and commonly misspelled words – the URL should be easy to spell, read and understand.
Once you start brainstorming your blog names, you can use Bluehost’s FREE Domain Name Checker to see what’s available and what’s not. Here, have a go with it below…
Free Domain Name Checker:
I would actually highly recommend Bluehost, for securing your domain as you actually get it for free when you sign up for a hosting account (something that you need for your blog anyway!) In fact they give you:
- FREE domain for 1st year (This saves you at least £33.50 / $42 – the price I pay for my domain separately.)
- FREE SSL Certificate (This is often an additional add-on with other providers and it means your site is more protected.)
- 24/7 support (with a real person – whenever you need!) PLUS: a 1-click WordPress install which makes setting up your site far easier!
- They have also got to be the most affordable hosting provider out there, so are absolutely perfect for new bloggers. Click here for more details or to speak to someone from the team. Prices start from just £1.75 / $2.20.
EXTRA TIP: When it comes to getting your domain – I can’t stress enough, the sooner the better, as once it’s gone, it’s gone, and availability for domain names is lower than ever with buying and selling of domain names increasing in popularity (alongside the vast expanse of sites already out there of course too.)
So if you think of a good name and the domain name is free for it – snap it up whilst you can!
2) Always Opt For WordPress
So what else do you need to get right during set-up, if you want to turn this into a money-making machine? Well, making sure that your blog is on the right platform.
The word “blog” is thrown around all the time now. I’ve even heard people say they have a blog, just because they have an Instagram account with the Category selected as “Blog”. Now strictly speaking,
“A blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.”
So I suppose if social media falls under the category of a web page, it could indeed be seen as a blog. However, if you want to start a blog that makes money – you really want to be able to capitalise on Google Search traffic, which is why – as a starting point – a website should be the first selected thing.
Blogger Vs. WordPress
Next up, comes the question of what type of website. See, there’s platforms like Blogger, which is undoubtably one of the easiest ways to get started. BUT, my friends, I wouldn’t recommend it. When you blog on platforms like Blogger:
- The platform’s functionality is very basic – you can’t do much with it beyond creating a standard blog and posting content.
- Your options for customizing your blog’s appearance and features are very restricted, as is the potential for adding custom code.
- You don’t fully “own” your content because it’s all sitting on Google’s servers (though you can export your content if needed).
Instead, you want to opt for creating a WordPress blog – right from the start. In fact, in my opinion – it’s pretty unbeatable. 43% of the web is built on WordPress, so I’m not alone in thinking this too.
Getting Started With WordPress
WordPress is by far one of the cleanest, fastest ways to write and publish blog posts. It also enables you to create a far more advanced site… and easier than you may think too…
See, there’s WordPress Courses that can teach you all you know in a matter of hours, or books you can read to teach yourself (Like this one: “WordPress For Beginners”). Hosting platforms also create ease of set-up – e.g. Bluehost have the One Click Integration as mentioned, and there are amples of freelancers out there, should you ever get stuck with anything a little more technical.
So if you’re looking to start a blog that makes money, and want to do it properly – always opt a WordPress blog. Even if you’re a complete beginner. Trust me! You’d only have to try to move it to one later down the line otherwise!
3) Build Your Blog On a Lightweight Theme
Up next, up next, it’s tip #3, and once you’ve decided that you’ll be creating a website on wordpress – then you need a theme.
Now I want to share my past experience with this, because if there’s one thing I wish I knew when I was starting out, it’s that lightweight themes beat pretty themes – ALWAYS! See, here’s what happened:
- I created Forgetting Fairytales myself, as a WordPress blog (tick!) but with a Themeforest theme (initially.) It was cute and girly and I loved it. It also worked very well to begin with (no complaints at all!)
- I kept this theme for the first year, growing my blog to over 50,000 monthly readers… but the bigger it got, the more glitches it had, and I had to pay extra to get support – plus support was limited (you could only ask a certain amount of things) and pretty slow too.
- Meanwhile, Google had also just rolled out another update which was putting more favour on websites having to pass Core Web Vitals in order to rank higher. Cut a long story short – with the theme that I had, I , quite simply, could not pass my vitals.
- I then had the extremely stressful process of not only finding a lightweight theme I could rely on, but also transferring my site across. And oh my, just thinking bad to this makes me shudder… (No joke – it was one of the most stressful experiences of my blogging career to date!)
- I struggled with the transfer, the site temporarily was pulled down, and I was lucky, because I worked with a Freelancer who supported me with the process and stayed up through the night until it was back on again. But boy, was that unpleasant! If it had dropped down for two long, it would have started to permanently affect my post ranking – so it was serious stuff!
The Best Lightweight Blogging Theme
So, honestly, if you’re going to take one piece of advice from me now – it’s to start your blog on GeneratePress, right from the beginning.
This is the theme that I moved through to, after weighing up countless options and speaking to other Six Figure Bloggers because time after time, it came back to GeneratePress. Click here to check them out and browse their full collections of themes in their Site Library.
You’ll need to grab a license to use these (either yearly or lifetime) – just like you would when purchasing any other theme – but this then gives to their full range of themes, with as many sites as you like (all for the same price) so it really is, very good value.
You also don’t have to pay anything extra for support and the support is absolutely phenomenal. If you have ANY questions or problems on your site, for anything technical, any design work you’re struggling with, the lot – they will get back to you straight away. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used their support feature and how amazingly patient they are. Couldn’t fault it at all.
So if you want to start a blog that makes money – start it with a GeneratePress Theme. Click here to find out more.
How To Start a Blog That Makes Money
4) Understand SEO Basics From The Start
What else would I highly recommend that you do if you want to set up a blog that makes money? Well, get to grips with SEO before you start pushing out masses of content!
You don’t need to become an expert, and if you’re completely new to this, it certainly shouldn’t stand in your way. But swat up on it enough to ensure you’re putting the best practices into place and therefore aren’t wasting time by making simple mistakes.
A couple of key areas I recommend you learn about (as a bare minimum) is:
- Understanding Keyword Research: Specifically, how to find keywords you actually have a chance to rank for. If you go too broad – you’ll have next to no chance, and then as good as your content may be – it simply will struggle to be seen. I started with long-tail keyword phrases when I first launched my site and this worked really well. They’re less competitive, but gave me a starting point… especially with such a young domain and no authority. So this is often a good route to go – no matter what your niche!
- Understanding URL Structure: You can continue to learn about SEO as you go along, and – for the most part – you can just go back and SEO optimise any older blog posts that aren’t as good as they could be, as you continue to learn more. But one of the things you should always try to avoid – is changing your blog URL. You therefore want to learn how to structure this properly, from the start.
Where To Learn Your SEO Fundamentals
To learn about SEO, yes – you can google online. There’s a lot of info out there, but sometimes there can actually become too much to go off – with too many different people, saying too many different things.
When it comes to something like SEO (which is constantly changing), I therefore recommend going for an up-to-date, reliable source.
I personally can recommend:
- This SEO Fundamental Course (click to view): If you’re pretty much entirely new to it – this will be perfect, as it breaks down all the key things you need to learn and know. this includes guiding you through getting all of the right things in place – like a Google Sitemap, Search Console Set Up etc. Honestly, I can’t tell you how much easier that makes life for you, as it means you don’t have to then wonder if you have or haven’t done it wrong. You know for sure, as you’ve went through it step by step. (Something I wish I’d done far sooner for my blog!)
- This Technical SEO Course (click to view): If you have a basic understanding and want to ensure the rest is covered, I highly recommend you sign up for this Technical SEO course. I actually did so for this, just the other week, as I was having issues with robots (always very scary when you don’t have the knowledge / understanding behind them) so again – another big one, well well worth it.
With both of these programmes, not only are they affordable, but offer a Money Back Guarantee if you’re not happy with it. Click here to browse the full collection.
5) Create New, SEO Optimised Content Consistently
Once you know how to create SEO Optimised content, it’s then about ploughing out as much of it as you can, as regularly as you can.
See, as much as you may want to start a blog that makes money – you need the audience in order to make the money (especially if you’re focused on passive income streams over higher-paying one-off sales, like coaching for example.)
So the best route to success is blogging regularly and consistently, to start to build it up. And know how power that’s going to give you once you have reached that position.
How To Blog Regularly:
- Set weekly targets for the number of quality posts you want to get out there.
- Set monthly targets for the number of visitors you want to reach.
- Stay focused. Keep putting in the work, even when there’s no immediate reward – because it’s the people that stick with it that are the ones who then get to where they want to be!
Like I said, once you’ve built the foundations, you will then have endless options for how you make money. And actually, you may find out you end up making the most money in ways you perhaps didn’t anticipate (more on that shortly!)
But for now, what’s the top tip when it comes to creating a blog that makes money? Content, content, content! Quality, SEO optimised content, posted consistently!
QUICK TIP: If you haven’t already got it, make sure you’ve downloaded Yoast SEO. It’s a FREE plugin. You don’t need to upgrade – free is more than sufficient. But pretty much every blogger uses it!
Essentially, you just state the keyword you’re trying to rank for on a post or page. The plugin then gives you a traffic light colour code with suggested improvements if your post / page isn’t quite optimised. I would certainly be lost without it!
6) Use Social Media To Get It Going
So I was a little lucky with this one, in the fact that prior to blogging, I had a social media marketing company for about 6 years. (So – social is actually my thing!) But I want to flag it up as a key tip when it comes to how to start a blog that makes money because:
- It takes time to rank on Google search – especially with new sites (which I presume yours too, will be.)
- However, you don’t have to sit and wait for it, having your site stay on next-to 0 visitors every month until it kicks in. Directing traffic via social media is something that you do have control over and can utilise to move you forward.
Also, by using social media to direct traffic to your blog, it then drives direct traffic. This in turn, draws more attention to your site (Google favours this.) So you’re essentially using social to get your blog going, and give Google a little nudge to start recognising you and ranking you. Uh huh, it’s definitely a win, win.
How To Use Social Media To Direct Traffic To Your Blog
To explain how to use social media to direct traffic to your blog, I think I’ll actually do a separate blog post on that. (As there’s too much I could write here!) Click here to be notified once it goes live. But essentially, you want to focus on:
- Choosing your networks wisely.
- Growing your followers, audience and influence.
- Creating fun, interesting, engaging content.
- Communicating with your audience to further get them engaged.
- Utilise groups and communities wherever you can (this was a big one for me!)
- Also know that all your social media efforts at this stage can be 100% free. You don’t need to spend big with Facebook or Instagram ads… Not just yet, nor have I actually ever! So, start to master this early on, before your blog fully takes off. It will then only continue to grow and support you as your blog grows. (Can’t be bad, can it?!)
7) Look at Income Streams (Without Any Rush)
We’ve made it to the mighty tip number 7 (already!) Eek! And the last point I want to leave you with is quite a big one!
See, if you want to start a blog that makes money, it’s understandable that you to want to consider income streams – right from the very beginning. But try not to rush this, or focus on this, as it’s kind of like running before you can walk.
If there’s things you can sell easily early on, great, put them in place. A prime example of this is a service that you already offer, that you’re tying in with your blog. This can convert well – and make you a lot of money. It’s just not a passive income stream so it depends on the main goal of the blog.
Another great example of easy monetisation is adding affiliates into posts. This isn’t too time-consuming and when you’re on the right networks, it can be pretty profitable too. Just bare in mind small-scale earners like this will work – but won’t make you a lot until you start to step up the readers.
For this reason, you want to keep coming back to the process of building your audience and make that your main priority.
It’s a numbers game you see. So initially, don’t focus on sales, focus on growth. I can’t stress this enough – that’s the magic key!
Clever Monetisation Strategies
You also don’t spend hours and hours developing new products or programmes until you learn more about your audience and what they want.
Instead, wait a little while, interact with your audience, create smaller versions of what you have in mind or freebies to test the interest. You can also develop products based on top ranking posts and what’s already in demand. (Make your life easier!)
But when you do it this way, and you increase the monetisation as you go along, it works out to be far more time and cost effective…
This also increases the enjoyment you get from dabbling around with different ideas, instead of feeling the pressure of investing heavily in one set thing too soon (and then feeling like you HAVE to make it work!)
That’s one of the best thing about blogging – it’s flexible, it’s yours and you can shape it into whatever you envision, as you go along.
That’s All For This One
So there we have it – 7 insider tips and tricks when it comes to how to start a blog that makes money… Plus, what you need to do to ensure it’s set up in the right way. I hope you’ve found this valuable. Any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
All the best.