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What is Blogging?
Blogging is a great way to make an extra buck on the side or earn a full-time income. In fact, so many people from all walks of life have developed it into a passion, and are now creating entire businesses online. So, how can publishing blobs of text sometimes blend with a series of images or videos possess such great power?
Honestly speaking, the most important skill for blogging is having the eagerness to learn new stuff. While these are a number of technical requirements required, if you do know how to express yourself with writing (or speaking for video bloggers), with content that adds value to people, then you can become a blogger.
For those who don’t have these skills right now, you can still learn them with a little practice. You might have to make an initial investment, but it will generally be worth it for making you a great future in the world of blogging.
This guide aims to offer a complete blueprint on how to start and monetise a blog. Learn how to make money from home today starting with creating and monetising a blog post. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and look at the steps to follow when creating a blog that earns money.
How to Start a Blog?
Step #1: Find an Idea You’re Passionate About
When starting a blog, you don’t necessarily need a revolutionary idea. However, your blog should be focussed on something specific for you to be effective. After all, no idea, no matter how good, is truly a unique idea.
Nevertheless, we all have had unique experiences. You have a distinctive voice, and your personality is probably vibrant enough to attract other people like your friends and family.
There are generally two important questions to ask yourself when choosing your niche.
1. Do you enjoy learning about the topic?
If you don’t like the topic, it’s eventually going to show in your writing. So, don’t even bother starting a blog if you don’t like what you’re blogging about.
Regardless of what niche you pick, you need to own and love it, as it will draw the much-needed curiosity of the fine details. If you don’t, it will be easy to run out of ideas, and you won’t be able to create content that builds an audience consistently.
If you’re still having a hard time choosing the best niche to tackle in your blog, think about what your close friends and family come to you for advice. Is it recipes, fitness advice, relationship advice, gift ideas, or advice on pet supplies?
2. Is there an audience interested in the same things?
For example, if you’re a 25-year-old who wants to blog all about knitting, you might feel like you’re the only one interested. However, a simple Google search will reveal that there’s quite a large audience of young knitters just like you.
On the same breath, it’s easy to find yourself wondering if your idea is too broad, or too quirky. The best way to approach this is being a little more specific. For instance, if you’re doing a travel blog, it’s best to stay away from generic topics like “travel” and “top destinations”. Go for the more specific topics like “backpacking”.
You might be a jack of all trades and want to create a blog that tackles multiple topics. However, this will not be fruitful, since people like to subscribe to a blog that it an authority on a given topic. Keep in mind that even on the point of view of search engines, a blog dedicated on a single topic will rank higher.
Step #2: Get a Name for your Blog
This is one fun yet critical step since the name you choose will automatically come your brand. It’s how your visitors will remember you. However, don’t overthink it. The most important thing here is to take action and gain momentum.
In general, you need two things:
1. Domain name
This is ideally the name of your blog on the world wide web such as (www.yourname.com). It’s like your street address on the web that helps readers find your blog. Your domain name should generally reflect the contents of your blog, and be easy enough for people to remember. Keep in mind that just as a street address is, your domain name has to be unique (or available).
Domain names typically cost around £7 to £9 per year. Don’t worry if you don’t find the perfect domain name, you can still start your blog and change it the name later on.
A few things to keep in mind when naming your blog:
- A .com domain extension is more preferable as it’s easier to remember. But if you’re only targeting traffic from the UK, you can use .co.uk (or the respective target country domain extensions)
- The domain name should be easy to type and easy to pronounce, preferably catchy
- Since most, if not all single word domains are already taken, aim for 2 to 3 words
- Try using keywords that tell what your blog is all about. This will help people identify the niche of your blog and help the search engines decipher what your blog is about
- For a personal brand, use your name or a memorable variation of it
- Avoid using hyphens and numbers as they are more difficult to remember
2. Web Hosting
This is the internet “real estate” of your blog. It’s basically the service that allows your blog to be accessed via the internet. There are many different web hosting companies to choose from, but they all do the same thing.
For the purposes of simplicity, let’s stick with Bluehost, one of the largest, most popular and reputed hosting providers. With them, you can get started with as little as £2.30 a month.
If you feel like you’re not ready to pay for a hosting service yet, you have the option of starting a blog for free through platforms such as Blogger and WordPress. These will give you an address like yourname.wordpress.com or yourname.blogspot.com. Once you get the hang of it, you can sign up for hosting retroactively, and start monetising your blog.
Step #3: Choose a Blogging Platform
With your domain name and hosting ready, it’s now time to choose your blogging platform. This will be the tool you use to build your site and start publishing content.
There are several blogging platforms to choose from, and it’s quite easy for beginners to wade knee-deep into research, pros and cons, and comparisons. But, you want something that’s fairly user-friendly, easy to manage and navigate, with the support of different monetisation avenues for your blog.
The three most popular and free blogging platforms that are friendly for beginners include Weebly, Wix, and WordPress. However, WordPress is the Most recommended platform. It’s easy enough for beginners to use, it’s feature-rich, and it won’t limit your ability to monetise your blog. Plus, some major websites such as Bloomberg, TechCrunch, and Disney use WordPress too!
The good thing is that most reputable hosting platforms work well with WordPress, including Bluehost. So, you don’t have to worry about having to code or getting lost in the details. For the most part, you can install WordPress with a single click.
Step #4: Use a WordPress theme to design your blog
There are thousands of themes to choose from on WordPress, and it can be easy to get stuck on the “shiny object syndrome” and find yourself not walking away with anything. Remember that you can always swap out a theme any time, so you don’t have to be caught up with the bells and whistles.
Once you’ve installed WordPress, go to your admin dashboard by accessing yourname.com/wp-admin. The dashboard might seem a bit complicated at first, but you’ll be an expert in no time. Go to the appearance menu and click “themes”.
By default, you’ll probably find their “Twenty-[Year]” theme installed. Anyway, click on the “Add New” button at the top to access thousands of other available themes. Be sure to use the “Feature Filter” option that will make it much easier for you to choose something that fits your style.
When you click on the thumbnail of a theme, you’ll get an instant preview of what your blog will look like. Here, you’ll come across incredible themes that would have otherwise cost you lots of money in design fees. Once you find a theme that perfectly fits your personal taste and your niche, click on the “Install” button.
Create Pages and Menus
With a theme installed, you can now start building your pages. The first step is determining which pages you’d like to feature in your menu. You can start with the basic ones, such as the “Contact” and “About Me” pages and then fill in the rest. Since you’re starting out, consider having a general “Blog” page, and over time, as you continue building your content, you can create more specific topic categories for your blog.
To create menus, go to “Appearance”, “Menu”, then “Create Menu”. Check off the pages you want to appear on your menu, and then save it, you can name it some as generic as “Navigation”.
You can use plugins to add contact forms, forums, and even sliders to your blog. Although these seem like basic features, they aren’t usually available by default.
On the “Themes” page, click the “Customise” button on the active theme. Based on the theme you choose, the menu options on the sidebar will vary. But the main category to edit here is the “Site Identity”. Add the name of your blog and its tagline as you wish. When you’re done, click the “Save & Publish” button at the top.
Since there are so many plugins out there, we’ll only mention a few of those that are a must-have for any new WordPress blog:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast
- W3 total cache
- WP Smush
- No self-pings
- Google XML sitemap
Step #5: Write your first post
Technically speaking, your blog is now all set up and ready to go. All is left now is publishing your posts. Now, this is where the real challenge begins, since you must write excellent quality content that’s both useful and relevant.
Top 5 Beginner Mistakes:
- As you write your content, imagine that there’s a person sitting next to you, who doesn’t have any prior knowledge about the topic you’re tackling, and it’s your job to explain everything to them as clearly as possible. Your content should, therefore, cover all aspects from the basics to the advanced details. However, you don’t need to go too much on the details. Just include enough details. This will make sure that the length of your content is up to the mark.
- When coming up with the topics for your blog posts, look through the lens of your audience with questions like, what intrigues, excites, or inspires passion in your readers? What are some of the common challenges and concerns that your readers might have? What exactly do your readers love and hate about the niche? What are the character traits of my readers? You get the point. Each of these questions can produce a few blog posts, in fact, the sky is the limit here.
- It’s better if you write your posts in the first person. Think of it this way, there’ll only be one person reading the post. For instance, you’re reading this post alone. So use “you” other than “we”.
- Avoid using images from Google image search directly. Try taking your own screenshots. And if you need images for your posts without taking screenshots, you can use copyright-free images from Flickr.
- It’s also wise to keep an editorial calendar. Keep in mind that if you only write when it’s convenient for you, you’re headed on a dangerous path. You’ll soon run out of ideas, forget about the motivation you once had when starting out, and lose motivation for building your blog. An editorial calendar is an effective quick-fix for blogger’s procrastination.
How to Monetise your Blog
Some people may not have the intention or the desire to start and monetise a blog immediately. And that’s a good thing if that is you.
Nonetheless, blogging is one of the best channels for monetisation, since it lets you build audiences through a number of mediums such as social media channels, email newsletters, as well as the blog forums and blog comments.
Step #1: Engage your audience
Blogging lets you interact with people quite closely. Think of your favourite bloggers, do you sometimes feel like you know them on a rather personal level? Another advantage is that you can conduct market research quite easily. Asking a question at the end of your posts will most likely spark conversations on the comment section.
Alternatively, you can use Google Forms to send out email blasts with a survey, which can help you gain valuable info on what your target audience is looking for. For example, if 90% of the survey says they want a formal course on digital marketing, then they’re ready to pay for one from you.
Building a blog ideally opens up doors to talking directly with potential customers. This way, you will receive honest feedback on what they want from you.
Step #2: Earn from Advertisements
AdSense: For those who want to avoid selling a product or service, you can engage in what most publishers are doing, selling ad spaces. If you drive a high amount of traffic to your blog, displaying Google Ads can be an easy and quick way of making steady revenue. This is especially true if your blog is great at keeping your user on the pages. The main benefit of AdSense is that it only takes a couple of minutes to set up and you don’t need coding skills to implement it.
Direct Advertising: Anyone can put an ad on their blog with Google AdSense, however, the real money comes from ad placements from private clients. If your blog is a high-traffic site, you can make a respectable amount of income selling ad spots on your site to large corporations. The only thing that you have to do is add their banner, while you keep doing what you do best, writing about your niche.
Step #3: Sell Products and/or Services
Physical products: It can be quite difficult to set up an online shop to sell physical products, especially when you’re just starting out. You have to deal with storage, shipping, taxes, and distance selling laws. Still, you can avoid all this by finding a company that offers drop-shipping or white-label services, so that you can focus on building your blog and getting traffic.
Digital products: digital products help you earn from selling products and making the most out of your scaling business. Anything from recipes to training guides/courses, to knitting patterns, can be sold digitally without the headaches of storing and shipping the goods.
Consultancy and Training: promoting your expertise on your blog to deliver consultancy services or training can be a powerful and lucrative way of generating income. Whether you’re a customer services master, an Excel guru, or an auto accident lawyer, you can build a strong brand with your blog.
Design: for those who are good at design or illustration, there are so many opportunities to offer your services to not only businesses but other bloggers as well. Whether it’s creating logos, infographics, or photo-editing work, you can use your blog to showcase your skills and get new clients.
Step #4. Affiliate Marketing
This is a kind of performance-based marketing, which is a renowned beast when it comes to monetising blogs. With affiliate marketing, the business owner rewards the affiliates for each customer they’re brought to the company via their independent advertising endeavours.
Due to its increasing complexity, affiliate marketing has evolved to include a subset of players, which include the merchant, the network, specialised third-party vendors, the publisher, affiliate management agencies, super-affiliates, and the customer.
In simple terms, you just include a link with your affiliate ID to a company’s product or service within your content/blog and each time a user clicks it and goes on to purchase the product, you earn a commission.
In most cases, you have to apply in order to join an affiliate program. Once approved, you get a tracking link, and you can now create content around that affiliate. For example, the Amazon Associates affiliate program is one of the most popular affiliate marketing programs, and it lets you earn from promoting anything on Amazon. You can write reviews of various products in your niche and earn commissions from any leads.
Keep in mind that there are hundreds of affiliate programs, with all industries covered, and each one pays differently. The key here is doing your research and finding one that fits the mission of your blog, and your niche.
Step #5: Sponsorships
Sponsored posts: a sponsored post is a type of an arrangement where you’re asked to publish a post provided by an advertiser. Alternatively, the advertiser may ask you to publish a post that mentions their brand or their product. With sponsored posts, you can expect to receive between $50 to $500 (or more) based on your agreement.
Blog sponsorship: There are also big companies and brand that are always looking to sponsor the most influential blogs and bloggers in their niche. In most cases, this entails having to mention the brand within the sidebar/header of your site or even having some level of cross-branding across the blog.
Bringing it all together
It’s easy to start and monetise a blog. However, creating a successful blog that will make you a consistent income, in the long run, requires a great level of dedication, hard work, and grit. But if you ask me, the rewards outweigh the risks by far.
Just like anything else in life, blogging too has obstacles that will regularly attempt to throw you off the course. But don’t let them win. Go forward and share your passion through your blog. Lucky for you, this guide on how to start and monetise a blog has provided you with everything you need to get started.
Remember to be yourself, honest and transparent. Your audience is human beings. So, if you give them great content on a consistent basis, they will continue to flock to your blog, listen to you, and respond aptly.
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