I remember when I first started blogging, just trying to learn all the blogging terms and strategies – so I know how intimidating it is when starting a blog and making money.
I had to wrap my head around learning the aspects of blogging including choose my blog’s niche, select a web host, setup my own blog, brainstorm blog topics, generate my first blog post, figure out how to get traffic, and then finally how to make money blogging.
I made a lot of mistakes in my blogging journey as have most successful bloggers and I will admit that I was overwhelmed a lot in the beginning.
But I kept going and as I got the feel for what worked and what didn’t, I began documenting all the tips and techniques that made my blogging efforts more productive and profitable.
I found these through trial and error and researching what was working for other successful bloggers.
This blog post is a dump of all the tips and tricks that I now use when I start a blog. Hopefully, they will help you get over the learning curve of your new blogging venture and help your own blog start earning money online quickly.
You will see that I have organized my tips and strategies into a step by step guide you can use when starting your first blog to make money.
My goal is to provide to help you have success on your blogging journey and avoid the mistakes I made.
1. Choose a Profitable Blogging Niche
The first step in to making money blogging is to select a profitable blog niche or topic to target. The question is, how do you actual find profitable blog niche that has the most potential to make more money from online.
This is the same question I try to answer every time I start a blog online, and I use the following steps to help me find my next blog niche.
Don’t rush this process though, because picking the right niche is the fastest way to make money blogging.
Take the time to evaluate your options using the following steps – they will act as a funnel to narrow them down until hopefully at the end out pops a profitable niche for your next blog.
Identify Your Passions and Interests
It’s essential to choose a niche that you’re genuinely interested in or passionate about. Otherwise, you may find it hard to stay motivated to create content for your new blog. Brainstorm a list of blog topics that you enjoy reading, writing, or talking about.
Check the Scope of Your Niche
Now that you have a list of topics that interest you, you need to evaluate the scope or size of each niche. You want a niche that is narrow enough to be less competitive, but broad enough with enough related blog topics to target if necessary.
Chose a niche or topic that you will be able to generate blog content consistently over time.
Analyze Interest and Competition
You want a niche with plenty of high-volume and low-competition keywords you can target.
Also, look at social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see if there is an active community of people interested in your niche.
This engagement can indicate the potential for a profitable blog and also provide an additional source of traffic for your blog.
Assess Monetization Potential
Consider whether your niche has enough commercial value to make money. Look at how other bloggers in your niche are making money with their blogs, such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, advertising (Google Adsense), online courses, etc…
Use google search for keywords in your niche and look at other blogs that are already ranking in the top 5 result. Visit each blogging website to see what avenues they are using to make money.
The more strategies you find the better. I recommend beginning bloggers focus on niches where there are affiliate marketing opportunities.
I have found affiliate marketing is the best and fastest way to make money blogging. If you don’t find any of these opportunities in you research of other blogs, then you will need to find another blog topic or use other strategies to make money online.
Evaluate Longevity and Growth Potential
Consider whether your chosen niche has long-term potential and room for growth. A successful blog should have the ability to evolve and expand over time to keep readers engaged and attract new followers in your niche’s target audience.
2. Choose a Blogging Platform
With your chosen blog niche in hand, the next step to start a successful blog, is to choose a blogging platform or website builder.
You want to choose a blogging platform that is easy to set up, and customize and makes your blogging efforts more productive by making it easy to add content.
Use the following guidelines to help you decide on the blogging platform.
Identify Your Requirements
You first need to identify your goals and requirements for your blog. Your primary goal for starting a blog to make money is the ability to create and publish SEO-optimized content.
Look for frameworks that have these features built in or can be added via plugins.
Consider Your Skill Level
Next, you need to consider your current technical skill level. If you’re new to website building, you might look for a user-friendly platform with drag-and-drop functionality like Wix.
If you’re more technically savvy or willing to learn, I suggest you look for a more advanced framework like WordPress and create a self hosted WordPress website.
This is what I personally use for all my sites and gives me the customization, optimization and scalability options that I like.
Evaluate Customization Options
In order to create your own unique look and feel you need a framework or website builder that offers a wide range of design templates and customization options.
This will help you create a unique and visually appealing personal blog that stands out from competitors.
Check for SEO Optimization Options
Your blog’s success heavily depend on the amount of organic search traffic you can attract. And that requires your blog posts to be SEO (Search Engine Optimization) optimized.
You want to choose a framework that offers SEO optimization features such as meta tags, image optimization, and XML sitemap generation.
Consider Website Speed and Performance
Website speed and performance are crucial for SEO as google search, and other search engines are focusing on user experience.
Make sure your framework has a fast-loading blog template, and capabilities for page caching and database caching.
Check for Community Support and Resources
Finally, you want to choose a blogging platform that has a large and active community. This provides you with a wealth of support and resources to help you get your blog up and running. An active community also means that the framework will continue improving and adding more features and security fixes for site security.
3. Choose the Best Hosting Plan
Your next step in your quest of starting a blog and making money is to find a place to host your blog.
Note: The rest of this tutorial will focus on setting up a blog using the WordPress platform, so If you have chosen a website builder like Wix, you can skip the next couple of sections and got directly to step 5 – Setting up your blog structure.
Otherwise, use the following steps to choose a web hosting company for your new WordPress blog. At the end of this section, I will give you my recommendations for the best web hosts for WordPress.
Check if Host Supports WordPress
WordPress requires specific server configurations to function correctly, so it’s important to choose a host that meets those requirements.
With it being the most popular framework for blogs, most web hosts will support it at a minimum. Look for hosts that offer PHP 7 or higher, MySQL 5.6 or higher, and HTTPS support.
Compare Hosting Plan Features
Look for a host that offers features such as free domain name, automatic WordPress updates, daily backups, and 24/7 technical support.
These features can help you save time and ensure your site is always up-to-date and secure.
Evaluate Server Reliability and Uptime
A reliable host should have an uptime guarantee of at least 99.9%. Look for reviews and testimonials from other WordPress users to gauge the host’s reliability.
The last think you want is for your entire blog to go offline due to an issue with your hosting company.
Check the Hosting Speed and Performance
Similar to frameworks, you need to evaluate the speed and performance of each web host. Having an optimized framework on a slow host will kill your SEO rankings.
So choose a host that offers fast server speeds and performance optimization tools like caching and content delivery networks.
Look for one that integrates with WordPress for further performance optimization options such as built in caching and faster PHP.
Look for Scalable Hosting Options
As your website grows and traffic starts to increase, you may need more resources to handle the increased traffic and increased content needs.
Choose a host that offers scalable hosting options to accommodate your future needs. You want to be able to upgrade seamlessly as needed to higher-level hosting packages.
Compare Pricing and Hosting Packages
Now that you have narrowed down your choices, it is now time to compare the web hosts base on pricing and available web hosting company packages to find the best value for your budget.
Make sure the hosts have no hidden fees (add-ons) for necessary services and if you are concerned a money-back guarantee.
Choose a Domain Name and Sign Up
Most hosting package come with a free domain, so as you sign up you will need to decide on a blog name and see if the domain is available.
You blog name should be relevant to your target niche. You can usually find a domain that is close to your first choice of a blog title or name so don’t fret to much if you can’t find an exact match.
My Web Hosting Recommendations:
Now for my recommendation for the best web hosts for WordPress sites: BlueHost and SiteGround. I am using both to host blogs currently and believe their WordPress plans are some of the best around for performance and value.
Both web hosts offer starter plans for under $3/mo, which is amazingly affordable and perfect for a new blog.
Plus, they both make it easy to scale up to their larger plans as your blog grows. Take a look at our best web hosting services for a full list that includes other great hosts.
4. Set Up Your WordPress Blog
If you have chosen WordPress as your platform for your own blog or online store, then you are going to need to set it up with the best theme(s) and plugins to optimize your site for search engines.
If you aren’t using WordPress, then you can skip ahead to the next section.
Choose A Responsive Theme
A responsive theme and blog template ensures that your website is optimized for all devices and screen sizes, making it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site.
You can select from a wide range of free and premium themes.
My favorite theme is Kadence (it’s free!) as it is highly configurable and comes with a template plugin with both free and premium templates that enable you to generate key pages of your site automatically that you can then update with your information.
You should also load their Kadence Blocks plug-in to give you access to additional WordPress blocks and content templates that will help you create rich content.
Install an SEO Plugin
Plugins RankMath, Yoast SEO, and All in One SEO can help you optimize your blog post content for search engines by providing a range of features like meta descriptions, title tags, XML sitemap creation, and keyword analysis.
Some plugins such as RankMath, go even further to help you develop SEO-optimized blog posts using AI analysis.
It allows you to select a target keyword and then compares your blog post against the current pages that rank for that keyword and offers suggestions. We use RankMath for all our blogs because of the additional features it provides for free.
Set up SEO-Friendly Permalinks
Choose a URL structure that includes your and relevant keywords. This makes it easier for search engines to understand the content of your blog pages.
You might also consider including the category as part of your URL structure. But be warned that if you switch categories, your blog post URLs will change.
So only use this option if you have very well-defined categories and only place blog posts in a single category.
Optimize Your Images
You need to optimize your images for performance – large images can take a long time to download and cause page load times to go up.
You will also want to use descriptive keyword alt tags and file names for your images to help search engines understand the context of your images.
Remember that google provides an image search and that a third of all searches are for images. Optimizations here can add an additional way for searchers to find you.
Optimize Site Speed and Performance
This caching will significantly improve your site’s page load times helping your SEO rankings. Some hosts include both image and site optimizations plugins that integrate with there servers to provide even better performance.
Secure Your Site
You will need to install some plugins to secure your site against attackers and spam to prevent your site from being compromised by hackers or bots.
Install Other Helpful Plugins
This last tip is just to document some of the other WordPress plugins I have used and found helpful:
- ThirstyAffiliates – Cloak your ugly long affiliate links and makes it easy to insert your cloaked links into your blog post. I use this plugin for setting up links to any site where I might later become an affiliate. This way I only have to change the URL in one location once I become an affiliate.
- SurferSEO – Helps you optimize your blog post for SEO using AI recommendations.
- Easy Table Of Contents – This makes it easy to add a table of contents to your blog post based on your headers.
- AdvancedAds – This plugin helps you manage ad placements on your blog content including generating sticky ads that scroll with users. They have a free plugin called fixed widget that allows you to fix any block.
5. Set Up Your Own Blog Structure
You are almost ready to create your first blog post. But before you add your first blog post to your new blog, you need to take the time to come up with how you will structure your blog and make money.
This step is extremely important and will guide your blog post creation. It is better to plan it out in the beginning than to have to rework things later.
You want a structure that helps you optimize your content to drive page rank and traffic to your monetized blog articles.
Use the following tips to help you start a blog and get set up quickly in the beginning so your site is optimized for both SEO and monetization.
Setup Your Key Pages
- Home – I build this page with a call to action (CTA) at the very top where I try to get visitors to join my email list – and then under that CTA, I provide links to my pillar affiliate pages to increase their page rank and traffic.
- About Us – I try to make this page personal and engaging. Going into the details of how and why I started my blog. The more engaging and relatable the better.
- Contact Us – I just use a standard contact us page that goes to my support@<mydomain>.com. The key is to check this email account often – when people engage with your site, you want to engage back with them.
- Blog – This page will contain a listing of all the posts on your blog. I like to include it in the footer menu to make sure all pages are linked to the front page.
- Privacy Policies and Affiliate Disclosures – There are many examples of good disclosures out there that you can use and personalize to your blog. You may want to update them in the future as you grow and get more traffic.
Determine Your Main Categories
You will need to determine the main categories for your content. The goal of these is to separate your content based on search intent (informational vs transactional).
For information posts, I use a top-level category called ‘guides’ or something similar and for transactional I use ‘reviews’ or something similar.
Make sure the include a detail description for each category as this will be displayed on the page. I try to make them 3 to 5 hundred words in length to avoid having low content pages that search engines hate.
I then create pages that pull in these categories as blocks and use them as the main links in the top navigation bar of blog pages (look at the navigation bar on this site) along with my Home page and About Us pages.
Make sure to add as much content to these pages as you can – you can even break up your subcategories on these pages and have separate blog post list for each one.
The key will be to experiment to find what approach helps you rank and drive traffic to your main monetized blog posts.
Setup Your Header
Now that you have your key pages and your main category pages you can now set up your header. You will need to figure out the process for configuring your header depending on the theme you have chosen.
Most can be configured by clicking on the customize link in the Appearance section within your WordPress dashboard.
First, you will need to create a logo and tagline to include in your header. Also, set up your logo as the site icon so it will show up in the browser tab.
Then set up the main navigation menu for the header. The top-level menu should include your “Home” page, main category pages, and “About Us” page.
Under the main category pages within your header menu, you should insert links to your pillar posts. This will greatly increase the ranking and traffic for these key pages.
I also like to add a call-to-action button or form in my header so it shows up on every page. My goal is to capture as many visitors’ emails as possible.
Setup Your Footer
Now it is time to configure your header. Your footer should include contact information if applicable, a footer menu, and a copyright statement.
You can also add another call to action or an intriguing link to direct visitors to a specific page – a lot of sites offer discounts, special offers, or secret coupons in their footer links.
Setup Your Sidebars if Applicable
If you plan to use sidebars on any of your pages or posts, then now is the time to configure them.
I utilize both of the sidebars the Kadence theme provides to add sidebar elements to blog posts and category pages.
The sidebar used in each blog post includes a search bar, affiliate disclosure, and a fixed table of contents widget that scrolls with the user.
This takes care of disclosing my affiliate links and provides a good user experience with the scrolling table of contents.
The sidebar used for my category pages contains a search bar, category list, and tag list. This strategy helps link all my pages within a couple of clicks of the main page.
6. Start Generating Content
Next, it’s time to fill your blog with content! However, before you jump the gun and start writing you first post, take the time to plan the content you will create to optimize your blog content for search engine optimization.
You need to figure out what topics you will write about and how often you plan to post new content to your blog.
Use the following steps to come up with a Content Plan for your new blog WordPress site and start creating informative and engaging content that will rank for your target audience.
Plan Your Main Content Topics
Next, it is time to do some keyword research and brainstorm new blog topics you will target in your blog posts.
This is key to make money blogging as it will help you organize and optimizing your content for best search engine ranking and it will guide your content creation. I like to track these topics using tags, creating a separate tag for each main topic.
As you choose your main topics, develop a list of keywords and questions related to each topic that you will target with blog posts.
This will help you come up with ideas for the blog posts you will plan to write within each topic.
Plan Articles Within One of Your Main Topic
The goal is to create topical clusters (content pillars) around each of these topics to show search engines you have expertise, authority, and trust (E.A.T.) which increases your rankings.
A topical cluster is simply one blog post – main pillar “transactional” post (affiliate linked review type post) that is supported by related “informational” blog posts (how-to guides).
Choose the first main topic you want to tackle and plan out the articles you will generate to create your topical cluster.
Use keyword research (learn how to do keyword research for SEO) to generate ideas and look at search intent to group the articles into “transactional” posts and “informational” blog posts and select one of the “transactional” blog posts to be your pillar post.
Typically, you will want to plan 10 to 15 articles to cover all angles of the chosen topic. This does depend on how focused and complex the topic is – some may require less and some more.
I like to use google sheets to keep track of my content plans with a separate tab for each topical cluster I plan to create.
For each blog article idea, I have columns for the article title, main keywords, target length (based on currently ranking sites), a planned date, and published date to track progress. This becomes your content plan for your new blog.
Begin Writing Articles within Your Chosen Topic
Now that you have a content plan in place for your content silos, it’s time to start writing. Keep your audience in mind – they should be the focus of each article.
As you are writing don’t forget to use mesmerizing visuals such as high-quality images and videos. This will help make your blog more engaging and attractive!
Quick note before you begin – remember to categorize your articles based on the search intent – “informational” gets put in the “Guides” category, and “Transaction” gets put in the “Reviews” category.
As I tackle each of my main topics, I typically start by writing my pillar article since it will be the post that all other articles within this topic group will link. Here is my process for filling my topical cluster with articles:
Want to create high-quality articles that are SEO optimized quickly? Then check out the best AI writing software tools – these can help you fill your new blog with optimized content quickly.
Create Your First Blog Post (Pillar post)
Your pillar post will be the main post of your topical cluster, and all other posts will link to it driving internal page rank as you can to this post.
Remember the goal of your pillar post is to drive traffic to affiliate links relevant to the topic of the cluster.
I typically make a review-type transactional article my pillar post (ex. “best video editing software” or “best bread makers”).
But you can also have an informative guide or how-to post where you embed affiliate links as recommendations within the content of the article.
When you are starting out, you should not join any affiliate programs until you start bringing in traffic.
During this period, I still find products and services with affiliate programs to add to my content and I set up my links to these using the ThirstyAffiliates plugin.
This allows me to insert my affiliate link once I join in one place and all references to the link on my site will be updated.
The are many great SEO Chrome Extensions that can help you optimize your articles, find keywords to target, and spy on your competitors. These work directly in your browser, so you don’t have to keep going from tab to tab.
Create Each of Your Supporting Articles
Now that you have your pillar article in place, it is time to start writing all the supporting articles you planned to fill out this topical cluster.
The goal of these articles is to target keywords related to the topic and to include contextual links to the pillar article and other articles within the topical cluster.
Also, don’t forget to add links from these articles to posts in other topical clusters when they make sense – this helps search engine indexing and provides additional authority within your overarching niche.
Again the LinkWhisper plugin makes this easy and provides recommendations as you create your articles making it part of the process instead of an afterthought.
Move on to Your Next Main Topic
Once you write and post all the articles within one of your main topics, it is time to move on to the next topic and start the process over to create another content silo around it.
By creating your content in this way, you will find that search engines like Google will start seeing you as an authority and begin ranking pages within each of your topical clusters.
This process of organizing the linking your articles is the most effective on-page SEO strategy you can do to help your content rank.
Search engines will see that your site covers all aspects of a given topic and would be a good reference to show searchers.
The search engines only care about delivering high-quality search results to people searching within a topic, and if they see your site as a good authoritative reference, you will rank high.
If you want help learning how to write better to create more engaging content take a look at these resources and blogs that can help
If you want help learning how to write better to create more engaging content take a look at these resources and blogs that can help:
- Best Writing Blogs For Bloggers and Content Marketers
- Best Writing Blogs for Copywriters
- Best Freelance Writing Blogs for Freelance Writers
- Best Writing Blogs For Creative Writers
7. Grow Traffic to Your Blog
Once your blog is up and running, you are not finished with start a blog and make money. You now need to work on getting your blog seen by the people interested in your chosen niche.
There are many strategies that you can take to gain visibility and traffic, but I am only going to discuss the ones that have proven to drive traffic in my experience.
These are the ones that provide the highest return on your investment of time and effort.
This is by far the most effective way to increase your sites search ranking and organic (free) traffic.
This free organic traffic is what will turn your blog from a side hustle into a significant passive income stream.
So, you might be asking – what is link building? It is simply the process of getting other sites to link back to pages on your site.
There are a ton of strategies you can use to gain valuable backlinks like guest posting, HARO, write sponsored content and I have put together a guide of simple link building strategies.
The thing you need to remember is that your content is your engine and backlinks are the fuel that will bring your money making content to life!
Develop Relationships with other Bloggers in Your Niche
In addition to link-building outreach, you should actively be developing relationships and partnerships with other bloggers by providing informative and exclusive content and collaboration opportunities.
The more engaged you are within your niche community, the more chances you will start gaining backlinks organically.
You want to be seen as the helpful expert in your niche that others want to bring in front of their readers.
This could be via video or pod cast interviews, case studies, or links to helpful content within your own domain or site.
Find Your Niches Community on Social Media
Social media is another great platform to find and engage with others in your niche community and extend your reach of potential readers and build your site’s credibility within your niche.
The goal of social media and digital marketing is to get as much engagement as possible. This can drive more traffic to your blog and increase your blog’s brand expertise and awareness.
8. Monetize and Start Making Money Blogging
This is where all your hard work pays off when you start blogging, and is the final step to make money blogging.
I do recommend that you wait to take this step until your blog has a steady stream of traffic from Google or other search engines – I know it is hard to have patience in the beginning because you have put in a ton of work and got nothing in return.
But waiting until you have traffic and your blog starts ranking for keywords, it makes it easier to get accepting by affiliate programs and ad platforms, and to begin attracting sponsored content.
Here are the strategies I use to make money and generate passive income from my blogs – my goal is to find multiple ways to make money when I start a blog to leverage the work I put into it.
Ad Networks Sell Ad Space
This digital marketing strategy involves creating ad space on your blog posts either within the blog post content, or in the header, footer, or sidebar to display ads.
A lot of bloggers use this as their first step in monetizing their blog posts – with many using Google Adsense or MediaVine to begin generating money when visitors click on an Ad.
I am not that big of a fan of selling ads or using ad networks because it took you a lot of effort to reach your target audience and get them to read your blog posts, why send them to someone else’s site.
I still use ads, but they direct visitors into my own sales funnels where I can collect email addresses and/or promote my own products (described in a later section).
Sponsored posts or sponsored content is content that another site or blog has paid to have posted on your own blog. This could be in the form of Sponsored Guest Posts or Sponsored advertising posts. Make sure to plainly disclaim that these posts are sponsored blog post.
Your Own Digital Products – eBooks and Courses
Selling your own products can help you make money blogging and multiply your blogs revenues and drive traffic to your other profit centers like affiliate marketing products and service.
The key is to create a value ladder of digital marketing products (ebook up to webinar to full course) that costs more as you go up the value ladder. And then setup sales funnels to walk people up your value ladder.
You are Ready TO Start a Blog and MakE money Online!
You now have all the information you need start a blog and make money. By taking the time to plan and organize, writing engaging content, and focusing on your audience, you can turn your successful blog online into a lucrative business.
Ready to start blogging? It’s time to make money blogging!
This step by step guide on how to Start a Blog and Make Money online is just one of the best passive income ideas for 2023.