This is a 4,300+ word guide on how to start a blog and make money online in 10 easy steps.
Yep, that’s a lot of words!
So grab a cuppa tea and let's get comfy…
I'm going try to cut the fluff and share with you everything (or at least an overview of everything) you need to know about starting and building a successful, revenue-generating blog.
Making money from blogging completely changed my life. I'm not exaggerating.
I still can't quite get my head around how I can blog about topics I'm passionate about, help people and make money anywhere in the world with just my laptop and an internet connection.
Today I make money from home, coffee shops (and yes even sitting in the middle of the road!) instead of stressing out in an office.
This mammoth how-to article has come about because I want to show aspiring bloggers like you how I did and the simple steps I took to get there.
So here's my ultimate guide on how to start a blog and make money online – the 10 easy steps you can take to build your own successful and profitable blog.
Hopefully one day you’ll be making money from your blog and you'll be showing others how to do it too.
Are you ready to get started?
How I learned how to start a blog and make money online
It took me a long time to get past the scammy make money online stuff but I have always had somewhat of an entrepreneurial flair and I've always believed in the potential of the internet to become an independent business owner.
Before I was 19 I read all the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books. I learned that it's better to own the ladder than to climb the ladder, it's better to work for yourself than work for somebody else.
But here's one better – I learned than when you start blogging as a business, you are actually building for yourself an income generating asset. Most people try to leave the employee quadrant to become a business owner, but instead just end up self-employed.
In 2005 I started a semi-online business selling books on Amazon as a third party merchant for a year or two. It was a good experience but I didn't earn as much as I thought… the profit margins of second hand books were minuscule and I ended up having to rely on postage as a way to recoup some of my costs.
In the end, I had to go back to working as a customer service adviser. Over the next few years I worked in call centres for a major UK bank, a home insurance company, a car manufacturer and then for UK's largest energy company dealing with loft and cavity wall insulation installations…
Dull, dull and dull!
Leaving the house when it was dark and cold to go to huge warehouse full of agents with headset, to spend all day shackled to my desk forced to talk about stuff I had absolutely no interest in was not what I wanted to do with my life.
But I never let go of my dream… to somehow earn a passive income online to replace my 9-5 income so I could make the move to Thailand and help work with the slum kids as a volunteer.
I will never forget this one night in March 2014 – I decided to Google ‘how to make money online‘ one more time. You know what happened… scam after scam promising the earth… for an extortionate fee.
I watched a YouTube video of a self-proclaimed get rich quick guru bragging about how much money he made online whilst showing off his yachts and half a dozen sports cars (you know the type – the internet’s full of them).
Before giving my credit card details and getting scammed again I decided to read some reviews from others who had taken this program… yes, you guessed it – a total scam. But in this process I accidentally stumbled across a site called Wealthy Affiliate.
You can read more about my experience here in my 4,880 word Wealthy Affiliate review here
In short, through the Wealthy Affiliate training courses and super friendly community, I finally found what I had been so desperately searching for – a legitimate way to build an online business through blogging.
I made my first sale within two weeks (only made $1.25) but I was ecstatic! Ecstatic because I could see this worked if I would just keep going.
Five months later I quit my job and made the move to Thailand to live my dream. Here's a picture of me from last Tuesday at the Cambodian camp I visit every week.
And here's me last Wednesday…
I show this this just to say: what's possible for me and my dream is possible for you and your dream too – starting a blog and learning how to make money with it will give you freedom and choices, a new independence and change your life.
Today I earn more than $6,000 a month and it's growing all the time. I’ll straight with you… I can't tell you that money is passive, because I worked my butt off, especially in the beginning to get my blog to where it is today. I worked all the hours I could, every evening and any time during the weekend and it wasn't immediate.
But the great thing is, if you put in the effort upfront, you will reap the rewards.
And if you’ll follow these 10 steps to starting a blog and making money online, I'll show you how to do just that.
How To Start A Blog And Make Money Online In 10 Simple Steps
1. Choose the right blog niche and not just the one you think is the most profitable
A fatal mistake many aspiring bloggers make is they start a blog in a niche they think will make them the most money, instead of basing their new blog around a topic that genuinely interests them and that's easy for them to talk about.
If you don't absolutely love your niche you're going to lose interest and give up after a few months.
Google won't send thousands of daily visitors to your blog immediately – it takes time to build out your blog with content, build up a following on social media and build a growing list of email subscribers.
Because success isn't immediate – you'll need the determination to see it through. Picking a niche you're passionate and knowledgeable about is the best way to do this.
Your blog niche could be anything, an interest or hobby you have, something you know a lot about, something you want to know more about.
Here’s some helpful tips on how to find the right blogging niche from Kyle, one of the co-founders of Wealthy Affiliate
2. Registering your domain and hosting (easier than it sounds)
The good news is that the cost of launching an online business compared to trying to start a convention ‘brick and mortar' business takes very little capital investment compared to say, opening a shop on the high street.
You have no buildings to rent and no supplies to buy and store.
Your blog can be open for business 24/7 to a global audience for just $49 per month.
Domain registration and website hosting, full affiliate marketing training and unlimited membership of the biggest community of bloggers and online entrepreneurs is all available to you at Wealthy Affiliate (it's where I started).
I recommend no other program that Wealthy Affiliate because it's the all in one online business center where all the tools, training and community support you need to run a successful and profitable blogging business are available for you in one place.
And the best part is you don't even need to take my word for it – do what I did and test drive Wealthy Affiliate free for 7 days. Upgrade to premium if you want to – but no pressure.
After your FREE 7 day trial, Wealthy Affiliate domain registration, hosting, training and community support can all be accessed for $19 for the first month and $49 per month (no minimum contract).
Why not just start a blog for free?
It's possible to start a free blog with your free Wealthy Affiliate starter membership but please do yourself and your online business a huge favour by registering your blog on your own domain.
Believe me, I'm not just saying this so I'll get commissions if you become a premium member (I will), but if you want your blog to have credibility in the eyes of your readers and search engines, and you want complete control over the appearance and creative aspects of your blog, always go for a self-hosted WordPress blog.
With your own self-hosted blog you get the domain “thisismyblog.com” instead of “iwishthiswasmyblog.blogger.com“.
When you're starting a blog with the aim of making money, you'll want a web host you can be sure is secure, safe, reliable and fast.
With this in mind, here are 4 reasons I use Wealthy Affiliate web hosting for all my money making blogs:
- Wealthy Affiliate's web hosting is the fastest, most powerful and secure web hosting available online. It's easy to register your domains and hosting, create email addresses and check your website health. It won't take you long to get your blog up and running with the design you want – with automatic WordPress installation included, you'll have over 1400 website themes to choose from, full website health checks, daily backups and 24 hour tech support.
- Wealthy Affiliate shows you how to make money blogging. This means you give your blog the best chance of success as you learn how to become on expert on affiliate marketing through the video training modules and step by step tutorials. You can get constructive site feedback and support through the live question and answer areas too.
- You'll be joining the world's biggest blogging community. If you're ever stuck or unsure about anything covered in the training, you get to ask questions and get answers, receive feedback and support around the clock in the Wealthy Affiliate online community.
- All of the blogging tools in one place. Wealthy Affiliate is more than simple web hosting – as well as domain registration and web hosting, you'll have access to the Site Rubix website builder, website heath checks, keyword research tools, weekly live webinars, site comments and site feedback.
Here’s a step by step walk-through showing you exactly how easy it is to get your first blog online, taken from Lesson 4 of the Getting Started training:
3. Start the make money blogging training
So your blog is live… you're making great progress so far! But what's next?
Making money blogging can be very lucrative, but it's not a get rich scheme.
Instead, a successful, revenue-generating blog is built with the right training, skills and know-how combined with your grit, determination, willingness to learn new skills and boldness to take action.
As soon you create your FREE Wealthy Affiliate starter account you'll see the ‘Getting Started Here' training on the left hand panel.
You'll learn exactly how to start your blog, how the process of making money online works, how to get your blog ranked in Google and how to create high quality content.
And this is just course 1. There's 4 more courses covering every aspect of making money blogging in great detail.
Here’s a simple breakdown of what's covered in the Online Certification Course Getting Started training:
The best way to make money blogging is with the affiliate marketing business model. Once you've started your blog, built a steady flow of daily visitors, you can start to monetise your blog through affiliate marketing.
Simply put, one of the main ways you make money blogging is when you sign up to a free affiliate program that's related to your niche. These affiliate programs would be ones that offer products or services that your readers will genuinely benefit from.
When you sign up these programs as an affiliate, they give you a unique link which you can then use in your content to refer people to a third party site.
In other words, your blog makes you money when you (the affiliate) promote or recommend products or services online for third party companies (the merchants).
They deal with the payment and shipping and pay you anything from 5-75% depending on the program at the end of the month, usually via PayPal.
Let’s say for example, you run a running blog (pun intended): you produce content (blog posts, images and videos) on how to increase your personal best, the best music to listen to while running, how to motivate yourself, how to eat right…
You could write reviews on the best running shoes and refer people to sites like Nike or Reebok. You could share your experience with a certain fitness tracker available on Amazon.com, link to that and you get paid every time someone takes you up on your recommendation.
4. Build your blog out with helpful content
When it comes to starting a blog and making money, this is probably one of the most important steps. Your content is what makes your blog valuable so forget promotional gimmicks and just build a blog with unique content that helps people.
If you want your blog to stand out form the thousands of other blogs out there, you'll need to think outside the box, be creative with your content and add your own unique voice to the wider conversation.
Your primary goal in building a successful blog should be that every blog post you write, every image you make, every video you post should be as helpful and useful as possible.
Help people solve problems.
Write to real people with real problems. Offer real solutions and real answers to real questions people have relating to your niche. This is what makes a blog successful.
I write every blog post with the sole aim of giving the best advice and offering the best resources and tools as I possibly can. If you do this as a blogger, the making money part of your blog will take care of itself.
[alert-note]“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”
5. Target Keywords for every blog post
Simply put – keywords are what Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines rank you for. These can be single words, phrases, whole statement or questions.
I target a particular keyword (or a group of closely related keywords) in every post I write. Not forgetting the previous step of writing to real people, using keywords ensures my content is relevant for the people search for it.
It means I get consistent, super targeted traffic for each and every post I write, and my blog traffic increases exponentially with every post published.
The good news is, there are keyword research tools out there that will show you exactly how many searches a certain phrase gets searched for each month and how many competing blogs and websites there are for that keyword.
Especially when you first start your blog, you want to target keywords which have reasonable traffic (40-50 search is okay) but with low competition numbers (less than 300 is good, less than 100 is ideal).
The good news is, as I've already mentioned, the Wealthy Affiliate membership comes with a brilliant keyword research tool included. Of course there are others out there, like Jaaxy Enterprise.
Here's my full Jaaxy Keyword Research Tool Review.
Relevant Keyword => Relevant Content => SUCCESS ($$$)
My main traffic source across all of my blogs is Google. Using this technique I build my first blog from zero readers to 1400 daily readers in 12 months.
I should say at this point that it doesn't happen immediately – only as you flesh out your blog with content, reply to comments and gradually gain credibility in the eyes of the search engines will your blog start to gain momentum.
6. Using social media to boost your blog traffic
There's two simple steps you can take to get more blog readers from social media sites:
a) Make it easy for people to share your content
If you've stuck with me through the steps I've shared so far, you've got valuable, helpful content that people will want to share on their social media profiles.
Add share buttons to your blog – you'll be surprised at what a difference this makes. As well as asking for comments and engagement at the end of each blog post, why not ask for a share or a tweet?
b) Create social media accounts for your blog and share them
If you haven’t created a Facebook page, Pinterest profile or Twitter account for your website, you’re missing out.
I'm not saying you should sign up to every social media site out there – I definitely don't. But over time you'll find out what works for your niche and where to focus your marketing efforts.
For example, food blogs and other visual based blogs tend to do very well on Pinterest, whereas self-development and leadership style blogs would do better on LinkedIn.
Once you're on Facebook or Twitter, mentioned it in your posts and on your about page, encourage people to subscribe or follow.
Note of caution: be careful not to spend too much time on social media instead of building out your money making blog. I know of too many bloggers who waste hours a day lost in social. Don't do it.
7. Choosing the best affiliate programs to promote
If you skipped over step 3, you might want to take a look at it again.
Lots of blogs have lots of traffic but they're not making any money. Why? Because many bloggers don't understand how to make money with their blogs.
And the truth is, there's actually lots of ways but the most lucrative way is through affiliate marketing.
Another note of caution: Please don't waste time selling advertising space on your blog. It devalues your blog, makes it look spammy and you make a dollar per million views – it's not worth it. Use that space to promote something you can get 50% commission for instead.
So what's the best affiliate program to promote?
That all depends on your chosen blog niche and the reason for this is whatever product or service you're promoting need to be relevant and be beneficial to your readers.
Relevant because why would some on a “caring for your pet snake” blog click on a link for women's moisturising cream?
And beneficial because the last thing you want to do is undermine your blog's integrity by promoting some half-baked, sham of a product. Sure you could make some quick cash but at the expense of losing the trust of your readers.
How to find relevant affiliate programs
This is super easy to do. I'll show you.
Let's say I've started a techie blog and I'm looking to promote “iPhone cases” to my blog readers. All I do to get a full list of available affiliate programs to promote is search on Google for:
iPhone cases + affiliate program
Here's what comes up:
This works for absolutely anything you can think of:
bodybuilding + affiliate program
garden shed + affiliate program
leadership training + affiliate program
kitchen appliances + affiliate program
I am very careful about what I promote here on The Make Money Online Blog – I ask myself these 3 questions:
a) Do I use it myself? Is it something that helped me solve a problem? Can I honestly recommend it?
b) Is it something my readers would find helpful and useful in starting a blog and making money with it?
c) Do they have a free trial so readers can try it all out for free to see for themselves whether or not it would be a good fit?
ONLY if a product or service meets all these criteria will I even mention it in passing. It's a good filter to put any of your promotions through.
8. Build a community around your blog
Without community and engagement, your blog is just anther website with posts. Engagement is key to building a loyal readership and helping your blog stand out and be successful.
And there's a few easy things you can do to help build a sense of community around your blog:
a) Encourage comments and reply to as many as you can – this helps give your site more credibility if people land on a page where they can see conversations and discussions taking place. No matter how thorough you try to be when writing, people will still have questions or comments of their own to add to the conversation – so give your readers space to do that.
b) Start building an email marketing list – I wish I had done this sooner in my blogging journey. Building an email marketing list is a great way to build relationships and connection with your readers, especially if you can ask questions and get feedback on the things they're struggling with and need help with.
Important note: If people have taken the time to leave a comment on your blog or send you an email, always try to reply to as many as possible. Everyday I put time aside specifically for this.
9. Network, network, network
To truly build a successful blog, you can't do it alone. Make friends. Lots of them.
And I'm not just talking about your readers either – I'm talking about building connections with other influencers in your niche. Bloggers are not meant to be in competition with one another, rather collaboaters of different voices all adding to the conversation.
In How To Promote Your Website Like a Rockstar I give a few options on how you can reach out to other bloggers including mentioning them in your posts, adding their tag to your tweets, sending them a direct email.
Over time as you network with the other bloggers in your niche, you'll see new opportunities opening up like guest posting (a great way to get traffic to your site), video or written interviews, reviews and two way promotion of your blog content.
The possibilities are endless if you refuse to be an island unto yourself – so give your blog the best chance to success by networking, making lots of friends in the process.
10. Have the determination to see it through
Okay, I'm at 3,749 words already. You deserve a medal for reading this far! Thanks for sticking with me – you've already demonstrated persistence!
And this is the final and most important step in starting and building a blog and making money online: understand that success in blogging is not something you achieve in one fell swoop, but rather is a series of accumulative steps, each bringing you one step closer to reaching your goals.
If you're launching a blog with the aim of making money with it, you're not just a blogger; you're an online entrepreneur.
And with any other business, starting an online business means working hard, learning new things, acquiring new skills, investing into training and asking for help when you're stuck.
Take this blog as an example, this is the third blog in my online portfolio so when I started it, I knew what to expect. Let me give you an idea of what I'm talking about…
- You'll feel like you're working for free for the first 6 months
- You'll be putting in all the hours you can in writing content, you publish and no one reads it
- You might not make your first sale until after the 2-3 month mark
But then after 6 months, or about the 50 post mark, if you've been following the Wealthy Affiliate training and following the previous 9 steps I've outlined here, you'll start to see some amazing things happen…
- Your blog will start to gain traction and you'll see a steady stream of visitors start flowing through.
- Your writing will get better, more creative, it'll flow easier and quicker.
- People will start commenting on your posts and you'll see conversations starting to happen around the content you've created.
- You'll start to see people subscribing to your email list and buying things through your affiliate programs.
- People who love your content will start sharing to their friends on social media.
- You'll see your blog ranking higher and higher in search engine results.
I've been doing this for a while now and I see so many people give up before they see the breakthrough. Please don't do this. Remember – persistence is key. Absolutely anyone can make money blogging if you commit to never stop learning, trying new things and taking action to build your blogging business.
That’s it. 10 steps to starting a blog and making money from it. The problem? It’s freaking hard to do.
This is why I cannot recommend becoming a Wealthy Affiliate community member highly enough. I think I would've quit a long time ago if it wasn't for the expertise, advice and encouragement from my fellow blogging entrepreneurs.
If you haven't done so yet, why not become a free member and see how Wealthy Affiliate can help you build a successful and profitable online business. Create your free profile and I'll pop by and see how you're finding it.
Everyday you'll find me inside the member's area helping people figure out their niche, helping with some technical aspect of their site or just answering any questions they've got about the different ways they can monetise their blog.
What else do you need to know about starting a blog and making money online?
Did I cover all the bases or is there something missing? Do you disagree with anything I've said here?
I’d love to hear your motivations are for starting a blog, what kind of blog you're thinking of starting and what your money making goals are going forward. Please share your comments below!
Simon Crowe is the founder and editor of The Make Money Online Blog on a mission to help as many people as possible kiss their bosses goodbye.
Watch this video here to discover how to smash your online income goals and make your dream business a reality.