Last Updated on May 4, 2020 by ellduclos
A Beginners Guide to Starting a Money Making Blog
If you are reading this, it’s probably because you are interested in creating a beautiful money making blog. You have probably seen many blogs before and thought “That’s amazing. I want to do this.”
Maybe you have a passion for writing, or you want to just share your random thoughts with the world! I feel you. I was the same way.
What if I told you that you could actually make money from your passion! It’s crazy right?! Making money by sharing your writing and thoughts with the world. Not many know that it is possible to actually turn your blog into a full time career. BUT – it is possible.
The reasons why I love blogging
- FREEDOM – I can blog where ever I want, whenever I want. I control it – it’s MINE and no one can tell me what to do. It allows me to travel and live where ever I choose.
- CREATIVITY – I have always been a super creative person, so blogging is the perfect way to let my creativity out.
- COMMUNITY – The blogging community is mostly filled with supportive and kindhearted people. I have a community for female entrepreneurs and bloggers that are always there to help and support! It’s called BOSSGIRLBLOGGERS <- You can totally join. I will welcome you with open arms!
When I first started my blog I didn’t have that much guidance, and I ended up on the wrong platform for my needs and all of this other nonsense.
TODAY I am sharing with you the Ultimate Guide so that you can get your blog started and we can get you pursuing your passion right away!! You won’t have to look any further.
Disclaimer: This post does include affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you, if you purchase via the link I receive a small commission. Thank you for your continued support! Read full disclosure here.
Some things to keep in mind:
- You should have a passion for writing + sharing your thoughts. Otherwise it’s easy to want to give up and not be motivated to put in the work. (because it is a lot of work)
- Although making money from blogging is GREAT! Don’t let that be the main reason as to why you are creating your blog, BECAUSE – it takes a bit of time for the income to roll in, so patience is key, and ultimately you should be blogging because you enjoy it!
- Dedication is a must. If you aren’t consistent and dedicated to your blog, it’s going to be a slower journey, and again you might want to give up.
It takes a lot of work to turn your blog into a career. It took me about 6 months of VERY LATE 4am nights, & yes I was working full time too, before I started seeing a consistent income – BUT I still have months where my income is lower than other months. It happens. I do LOVE blogging so I will continue to push through even on those days where the income just isn’t as great as I want it to be! My number one reason for creating my blog was to inspire others to pursue the life of their dreams, so I will continue to try and do so, no matter what!
You can read a bit more into my story of being a college dropout and turning my blog into my career HERE. <- If I can do it, so can you!!!
OKAY, let’s get on with the guide!
STEP ONE: Decide what you want to blog about
If you want to start a blog, you need to have a “niche” or topic! Essentially your blogging “niche” is going to be what you want your blog to be focused on. Do you want it to be a beauty blog? A blog about staying motivated and productive? Or maybe a blog about your everyday life? There are SO MANY topics that you can blog about, the list is endless.
There are many bloggers out there who will tell you to focus on ONE niche, but as you can see, I do the opposite. On my blog you can find anything from beauty, fashion, lifestyle, and entrepreneurship. I don’t think it really matters too much, as long as you categorize your blog so your readers can easily find what they are interested in!
I believe that your niche should be something that you are passionate about! If you aren’t passionate about it, then you won’t get excited to write about it, which defeats all purposes.
Now that you have a niche figured out ….
STEP TWO: Decide on a blog URL
What is your blog going to be called?! Many will focus long and hard on this step. I personally, at the time didn’t think too hard about it. I knew that the more I was fixated on what to call my blog, the more time i’d be wasting. I went with my first thought.
*The meaning of my blog name: “EllDuclos” -> When I first decided to create a blog, I was afraid of my friends and family finding it. I guess you could say I was “embarrassed” or “nervous” about what they would think…(now looking back, I shouldn’t have felt that way.) ANYWAYS – Ell stands for (L) because my name is “Lauren” so I go by “Ell” and Duclos is my last name. So I guess I was creating a “secret identity” for myself. A couple months after creating my blog, I shared it with my friends and family and got a lot of support. Of course there are some who would make fun, or joke around about it. BUT I DON’T CARE. I love my blog and I am proud of it.
Choose a name that you identify with, something that you LOVE. If I could change something about my blog URL it would be that I would have included something that let’s my audience know what my blog is about.
So if you are going to do a craft blog you can include the world craft in your URL.
But again, it’s YOUR blog, name it whatever your heart desires! They say just don’t make it too long! & have it be easy to remember. But, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to choose a name!
My name wasn’t available in DOT COM, so I had to do DOT BLOG. I don’t think it matters too much.
*PRO TIP: Before choosing a website URL, check social media platforms to make sure you can use it as your social media handles as well. This way your audience can easily find and follow you on social media! Social media is HUGE for driving traffic to your blog and for creating personal connections with your audience.
STEP THREE: Choose a platform
This is an extremely important step! When I first started my blog I knew NOTHING about “Self Hosting” (sadface). So I ended up starting my blog on wordpress .com which is similar to squarespace, wix , & blogger. These platforms are “hosted” and NOT “self hosted”. This wasn’t the ideal option for what I had planned for my blog. I needed a platform that was going to allow me complete ownership, control and customization over my blog!
Since I wanted to eventually turn my blog into a full time career, I quickly realized that wordpress .com wasn’t the platform that I wanted to be on.
Why I don’t like “hosted” platforms.
- VERY LIMITED. – The customization is so limited, it was frustrating.
- You don’t have complete ownership over your blog. (Which is a must for me)
- You don’t have access to plugins – Such as e-mail list builders, and other plugins that help to customize your site and bring it a more advanced feel.
- Free platforms don’t give you your own domain, which looks unprofessional. ex: (www.ellduclos .wordpress .com) <- It’s long and tacky.
- Monetization can be limited (depending on the hosted platform) there are monetization rules you need to look into and follow. For example: On wordpress .com you can only use their Ads, so google adsense or media vine is not an option. (ADs are one way you can monetize. You add them to your blog posts and gain small income from them.)
OVERALL – Having a “Self Hosted” blog will give you this:
- Unlimited customization. You can upload your own themes, purchase themes else where and upload them and create a gorgeous website.
- If you are trying to create a shop – self hosted wordpress is IDEAL -> Woocommerce is the best OR Shopify.
- You have access to plug ins – and this is honestly my favorite reason as to why I am self – hosted. There are so many awesome plug ins.
- You can build an e-mail list!! (YES IMPORTANT)
- You have complete control and ownership over your website. A MUST FOR ME.
- You can monetize ANYWAY you want, zero limitations.
- You get your own domain – without the (.wordpress .com OR .blogger .com ) at the end of it.
- Overall your website will look and feel more professional.
SOOO – Which Self host should you get started with and why?
Well for starters, I know SO MANY recommend BlueHost, but let me advise you -> DON’T DO IT.
BlueHost is known to be a huge waste of money because of lack of customer service, errors and server downtime, and other horror stories that I have heard from multiple bloggers.
For me – I will be 100% real and honest and I will only recommend services that I truly love and have had great experience with! Which is why I suggest -> *SITEGROUND.!!!
As you know, I started my blog on wordpress .com which is a “hosted” platform. I knew I needed to become self hosted so I wanted to go with a host that would make it SUPER easy for me to transfer. Siteground made my transfer so painless! They transferred it all for me when I reached out to their LIVE chat. AND on top of that my site has NEVER been down. It’s incredible how awesome their servers are.
Reasons Why I Love Siteground:
- Super helpful support team – 24/7 LIVE chat (with actual humans, not bots.) I have reached out MULTIPLE times to them and have never had poor service.
- Fast server speed and up time is 100% for me
- Super secure with free SSL certificates
- Affordable start up prices! $3.95 a month via my link -> I suggest signing up for 1-3 years to get the BEST discounted price.
Once you sign up you will install wordpress application onto your Siteground account. (If you need help, message their LIVE chat. They will do it for you.)
You will then see on your home page -> “MY ACCOUNT” (click that, and then hit manage account, next to your URL)
THEN -> Click “Go to Admin Panel” , This will bring you to the log in page of wordpress. Once you log in you will find your wordpress dash board where you can get to creating!!!
WordPress can be challenging for some, so don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed by it. Luckily, Youtube will be your BESTFRIEND. You can find so many wordpress tutorials on there.
Related: The difference between wordpress .com + wordpress .org
STEP FOUR: Choosing a theme
Now that you have your platform and account all set up, it’s time to get to creating!
First and foremost, you want a beautiful theme (layout) for your website! You will find a ton of free themes to choose from that come with wordpress already. BUT, for me the free themes weren’t customizable and were a little plain for my liking.
Instead I decided to purchase my own! I will link below some of my FAVORITE themes that are feminine and elegant.
For a theme I prefer it to be: Easy on the eyes, not too cluttered, simple and easy to navigate, and customizable so I can switch it up without having to purchase a new theme!
Some of my favorite themes:
- Hello You Designs: I love these themes! Keep in mind, these themes are pretty advanced and can be complicated to use. I believe they have an option where they will actually install the theme for you if you need them to. BUT I love the look of these themes. They are GORGEOUS.
- Granzie Theme
- Victoria Theme
- Charlotte Theme
- The Chloe Theme
Or search Creative Market for a theme that you fall in love with!
STEP FIVE: Set up your e-mail list
It’s super important to have an e-mail list (subscribe) set up! This way you have all of your readers e-mail in one place and you can send out e-mails to them about important updates, product launches, anything else!
E-mail marketing isn’t what it used to be (i’ll be honest), so don’t get discouraged if people subscribe and unsubscribe often, or if they don’t open all your e-mails. It happens!!!!
BUUUT I will give you some advice (I am no e-mail marketing pro, but here’s what worked and what didn’t work for me.)
First, you need an e-mail list builder. I decided to go with Mailerlite. At first I tried out MailChimp but it was far too complex for my liking. I found Mailerlite to be super easy to use, it has drag and drop template. PLUS your first 1,000 subscribers is free.
Some E-mail marketing tips:
- Create an opt in to help grow your list: An opt in is a “freebie” you send your subscribers in return to thank them for subscribing (basically). For example: My freebie is a blog traffic challenge! You want your freebie to be related to your niche so that you attract your target audience. If you are a beauty blogger primarily, and your freebie is a blog traffic challenge, you might attract the wrong audience. The great thing is, if you blog about different topics you can create different e-mail lists and multiple different freebies to grow separate target audiences. That’s a bit more complex but JUST SAYING.
- I would send an e-mail once a week that is like a “newsletter” that includes links to your most recent blog posts rather than e-mailing your subscribers EVERY TIME you post a new post. Only because now a days people are unsubscribing more than they are subscribing. Many use social media to stay up to date – BUT social media isn’t necessarily a forever thing, so having an e-mail list is important JUST IN CASE. Just don’t bombard your subscribers daily. It becomes annoying.
- Try to make personal connections. Mailerlite gives you the option to address your subscribers by name when e-mailing. You can also ask questions in your e-mails to try and get your subscribers to communicate back and engage with you. Personal connections go a really long way!
Once you have signed up with Mailerlite you will want to install the Mailerlite plug in and integrate it with your Mailerlite account so that you can easily create forms and plug them into your site!
STEP SIX: Create an awesome “Start Here” page!
I think of my “Start Here” page as a way to introduce myself to my readers and let them know what my blog is about. It’s called a “Start Here” page to hopefully get my readers to click there first before reading into my blog so they can get to know me a bit better.
I created this page by going to my wordpress dashboard and under “Pages” -> ADD NEW PAGE
I just titled it “Start Here”
Under this page you will find a little bit about me, who I am, my purpose, why I created my blog and also what my blog’s mission is! I also make sure to list out my services and products as well as some categories so people can check out and read which ever posts they are most interested in.
Think of it as your “About Me” page!
STEP SEVEN: Create some blog posts!
Now it’s time to get to creating! YAY!
Start creating some blog posts and even come up with a content schedule. For example, maybe you want to publish a new post every Tuesday and Thursday!
What I like to do is take out my planner and map out my month. I love my Bloom Daily Vision Planner! I will write down which blog post I want to publish on which date. I then want to make sure that I am sticking to this schedule because consistency is SO important! That’s why I suggest creating a content schedule to help you to visualize what your blog posts for the month will look like.
When you are first starting out, it’s best to try and publish 2-3 times a week. This will help you to build traction and trust on google so that you can start ranking higher on google search engines! This is called (SEO).
YOAST SEO is a helpful plugin to help you make sure that your blog posts are optimized for SEO. I really love this plug in. After you write up your blog post, you put in a key word and YOAST SEO will tell you if your blog post is optimized for that keyword. If you get the green light it means it’s decent SEO. If the light is yellow or red, you need to make some adjustments. YOAST will tell you which adjustments to make. It’s really a great guide and tool to use!
Ranking high on Google takes time, you need to really establish yourself as a blogger, but it’s great to try and work on it right from the beginning.
WHICH REMINDS ME – > * Before creating your first blog post, go to your wordpress dashboard > Settings > Permalinks and make sure that your permalink structure is set to (yourdomain .com / blog post) This is the best setting to have for SEO, and if you don’t adjust this in the beginning you will find yourself adjusting and redirecting links in the future which is a pain in the a** !!!!
Related: How to be a Consistent Blogger
STEP EIGHT: Growing your blog traffic
Now that you have some posts going, it’s time to grow that blog traffic! It’s not as easy as publishing a post and waiting for the traffic to come. If you do that, you will probably not see any traffic except for a few randoms here and there!
In order to get traffic, you need to promote your blog and share it everywhere!!
I luckily put together a guide of 13 ways for you to grow your blog traffic. HOWEVER I will say my NUMBER ONE source of blog traffic comes from Pinterest and I recommend that you get started with Pinterest for your blog RIGHT AWAY!
There is a lot that comes with growing your blog through Pinterest, but, I made a super affordable guide that teaches you EVERYTHING you need to know about the best strategies to explode your blog traffic with Pinterest!
Don’t sleep on Pinterest, I am telling you – it is KEY to growing your blog!!!!!
STEP NINE: Making the money
Once you get that blog traffic going, it’s time to make that money!!!!! There are 5 different ways that I make money through my blog:
- Affiliate Marketing – This is by far my favorite way of making money via my blog. Again, like anything else there is strategy that is needed to make the best of affiliate marketing. Here is a post to get you started.
- ADs – Income with ads is SLOW and will come once you start receiving thousands of pageviews a month. So don’t get discourage when you make a penny or two in the beginning. ALSO – don’t fill your site with overwhelming amounts of ads because that can be a huge turn off! Google Adsense and Media Vine are good ad programs.
- Sponsored Posts – This is when brands reach out to you OR you reach out to them and try to collaborate. They basically pay you or send you free product to talk about to your audience. There is a lot that you should know about sponsored posts before you reach out to brands. This post covers pitching in more detail.
- Create A Product – You can create a product and sell it! For example I have a few e-courses.
- Offer Services – You can offer services as a side biz. Example: I offer Pinterest management services and blog coaching which you can read more about here. You could become a social media manager if you are good at that!
There is potential to make money blogging once you have an established audience that trusts you! It’s all about the trust. But it’s courses like mine that help you get off on the right track so that you are doing all you can to make sure you are on your way to turning your passion into a career!!! Because it is overwhelming when you are first starting out!
I hope you found this guide helpful!!!! We are going to CRUSH it together!
Emy of Divasclan.com says
This is a little overwhelming for me right now, but I’ll go through a few more times and also check out the links contained. Thanks for this eye-opener, Lauren.
Totally understandable. Starting a blog can be overwhelming but it’s a lot of fun!
Very detailed post, with pretty much every step you take in order to set up and run your blog! Way to go, girl! And yes, after 6 months blogging, I was so overwhelmed that I quit. Now, I’m going back from zero, to see where I made mistakes, what I did that could be improved and hopefully 2019 will be my year to make money online too. ??
Thank you so much! You got this! Sending you positive vibes!!! ?
This was SO helpful!! I’ve been running my blog for a while now and still feel like there’s so much to learn – thanks for this amazing advice!
Thanks so much Jess!! I can’t wait to see where your blog takes you (:
Thanks so much!