When I was looking to start a money making blog I found a lot of guides out there on how to do it.
I was so excited to start digging through them all and absorb everything I could about blogging for money because I couldn’t wait to start my business.
When I finally sat down to follow their guides for myself, I realized a lot of them were confusing and not beginner friendly at all.
Too much loaded jargon, not enough simple explanations.
So, this post is the complete guide on how to start a blog that makes you money. You can use this strategy to make a side hustle, or scale to six figures. The sky is the limit with blogging.
I started my blogging journey back in 2014 on a free platform with no real goals in mind. I just wanted a way to express myself. I had just started college, and my blog was my escape from exams and hours full of long study sessions.
My blog had no purpose besides to be my creative outlet.
For fun and to give back to my community, I started offering free tutoring in English. My blog was about the college experience, specifically what it was like being an English Major. So I started giving tips on studying and how to write an A+ essay.
After about a year of blogging I started offering the same services to my audience, but this time for super cheap for some extra cash, and much to my surprise, people bought them!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Nothing will compare to buying my first movie ticket, cup of coffee, and paying off bills with money I had made doing something that I loved. My blog was my baby, and even though I had never set out to make any money I had somehow stumbled into my dream job.
Another year passed and I was making a sizable side hustle for a college student just offering cheap study tips and essay advice. I grew my following to 5,000 subscribers that year.
Keep in mind, this was just a hobby blog in a very small niche. I didn’t post consistently, I wasn’t self hosted, I didn’t have a strategy, I pretty much did everything you’re not supposed to do and I still made money.
The reason I think I did is because I truly loved what I was writing about. I engaged with my audience all the time. I made myself known in the community by commenting, sharing, and messaging people. I did all of this just because I loved it.
I had no clue what I was doing could be a real job because blogging didn’t feel like work. At least not work I was used to doing.
Sometime during my junior year of college I ran out of time for anything but sleep and work after I transferred schools and forgot all about my little blog. Life was hectic, I was stressed and needed more cash than my blog was bringing in so I took a crappy retail job.
At the time I was living in San Francisco (aka the most expensive place to live in the US, hence why my blog with no strategy wasn’t cutting it). After a year and half, I quit my crappy retail job because it was too soul sucking, and I went to travel with some of the money I had managed to save. You can click here to read that story. After my big trip, I worked some more, quit one crappy retail job for another and then graduated with my BA (woohoo!).
Except, I didn’t want to get a 9-5. After my various jobs in the big city I was burned out, and tired of working in places that made me miserable. I felt pretty defeated.
One night, tossing and turning, I remembered my little blog. Sure, I had only made a couple of hundred bucks back then, but I was sure I could scale it, so I started my research.
Turns out, you can scale your blogging income.
Cue, the creation of this blog, Return to Daydreams.
I tell you my story because I want you to know starting a blog and making money with it is possible. I know because I’ve done it. Twice.
Everyone says it’s not possible with a free blog. It is. I’m living proof.
Is it a good idea if you’re really looking to take this seriously? Nope.
When you’re blogging on a free platform, you do not own your content. That means if at any point in time the platform goes to internet heaven ( RIP Daily Booth and Vine) All your content is gone. All those people who loved your content are gone. Just like that.
When you’re depending on your blog for any part of your livelihood, that is a terrifying risk. One that I was not willing to take a second time.
Being self hosted has allowed me to monetize my blog in ways I was not able to before. I can use ads now, apply for sponsorships, and have affiliates take me seriously. None of which I could do on a free platform.
Technically when I was making money with my free blog I was offering services to make money. Which was cool, but it’s not gonna get me to six figures without being seriously burnt out. You need passive income for that. A luxury you do not have on a free platform.
That’s why you need to be self hosted.
For hosting, I use Blue Host.
I want you to think of your blog like a Sandwich. The Host of your blog is like the bread, and your Website is like the pb&j.
Many bloggers have a lot of negative things to say about it and claim bloggers only endorse it because they make a ton of money in affiliate income with it.
It’s true, there are bloggers that make a lot of money with Blue Host.
There are also a lot of bloggers making a lot of money promoting Site Ground. And just about any other hosting company.
Bloggers don’t make a killing because they are somehow unethical, they make a lot of money because they have a lot of traffic and are great at affiliate marketing and make a lot of money from all of their affiliates.
In fact, most people who bash Blue Host and bloggers who promote it do so in order to sell another hosting company. Go figure.
I chose Blue Host because it is affordable, reliable, and accessible to anyone with any budget. The best part of blogging for me is there are no gatekeepers keeping anyone from achieving their goals. You can make money blogging with a degree or no degree, come from any background, have years or 0 experience and still kick butt. And that’s pretty awesome.
It’s not an exaggeration to say blogging has taken people and their entire family out of poverty.
I believe Blue Host helps people do that by:
- Making hosting affordable. Upfront, you can get hosting for a year for $71.40 a year with my discount, that’s less than a week of groceries for two!
- You can install WordPress with one click. They do all the hard work for you and make setting up your blog a breeze
- They have a wonderful customer service team, with a team specifically for WordPress. They have always answered my questions quickly and went above and beyond to help me on my journey
So with my link, you can click here to get a special discount on hosting just for my readers. It is an affiliate link that is no extra cost to you. I would never recommend something I didn’t use and love myself.
Now, lets get one thing straight. When people hear the word “blog” they have a set idea of what this means. Even though I have a traditional blog where I write content that shares my tips on a certain subject, this is not the only way to have or run a blog, in fact, blogs can work for just about anyone!
Blogs can function as “homes” for your shopify or online thrift store. You can use a blog to provide more information about you, your products, or your process. You can also have a blog as a way to promote your services. I know so many social media managers, event planners, and coaches who have blogs as a place where clients can learn more about them and what they do and also incorporate a store for a one stop shop for their clients.
Your blog can also function as a portifolio. Having your own domain makes you look serious about your craft and if you’re interested in things like freelance writing, becoming a VA, publishing, or social media marketing, having a blog is a great way to up your credibility.
I started this blog to teach others how to make money online with a blog so they could live their best lives and have one of the best oppurtunties around, working for yourself!
Some other reasons you might want to start a blog are:
- You’re a mom and you want to be able to stay home with your family
- Your day job just isn’t cutting it anymore and you need a side hustle
- You’re passionate about something and want to share it with the world have a job that is creative and fulfilling!
- You want to be a digital nomad and travel the world
- You want total control over your schedule and to be your own boss
No matter your reason for starting a blog, don’t make my mistake, if you’re looking to one day make real money, do yourself a favor and start self hosted.
I know when you’re a broke college student, stay at home mom, or simply strapped for cash investing any money seems like too much, but trust me, it’s worth it. You can earn back what you spend on hosting for a year in just a month with a couple of affiliate sales.
There are many in’s and out’s to blogging, but in this guide, I am going to focus on how to set up the back end of a money making blog in under an hour if you do it all at once, or over the course of a couple days if you wanna take your time. All the information will be in this one post so you can refer back to it wherever you are on your journey.
I’m going to show you how to set up your blog with WordPress.
I suggest WordPress for your site for a ton of reasons but my main ones are:
- It is used by all the pros! The New York Times uses WordPress and if it works for them it’s definitely gonna work for you!
- WordPress provides the most customizability for your blog with the most options for plugins and themes by far. It’s a bit of a learning curve at first but once you get the hang of it you’ll be very happy you did and that you don’t have to switch and learn later.
- WordPress has a great support team should you ever need them for any problems you might have!
Overall, WordPress is going to make for a seamless, fast, and efficient site. Most bloggers that start off with other websites end up switching over because WordPress is great for beginners and pros alike, and can grow with you and your audience.
Hosting With Blue Host
Now, for hosting, I already mentioned Blue Host. It is what I use myself. Blue Host is incredible for new bloggers because it provides so much value!
I did a lot of research before I started my blog, in fact I spent two months just doing research. There are a lot of hosting companies out there, and every blogger seems to have an opinion, but Blue Host at the end of the day checked all the important boxes for me.
Some reasons I suggest Blue Host to new bloggers specifically are:
- You get a free .com when you sign up with them and you can skip the coding headache and having to buy one separately.
- They offer a 30 day money back guarantee if for some reason it doesn’t work out or blogging life just isn’t for you.
- They host big blogs and small blogs alike, and you can easily just upgrade your plan as your traffic grows.
I asked Blue Host for a special discount for my readers because I love their services and how they’re making blogging dreams come true all over the world, and they agreed. If you click right here, you can get over 50% off on your hosting!
You can only get this discount using my link, so click here to get your discount.
If you want to be sure to use my link to save $$$ and claim your free .com, you can click here and then follow along with the guide below.
In this post there are special links that I requested from Blue Host for my audience that you can use to sign up for Blue Host and claim your free .com and get hosting for over 50% off! The links in this post are affiliate links, and I do earn a small commission from them at no extra cost to you. I do not recommend anything I do not use myself and love.
Your Blog Idea
A lot of bloggers will say you need a niche to succeed and its just not true. Some of my favorite successful bloggers don’t have niche’s and blog about multiple subjects proving you can blog about multiple subjects and still be successful.
That does not mean you can blog about just anything if you want to make money from your content.
It does mean you can pick a couple of topics you’re passionate about and focus on solving problems for your target audience.
More importantly than any niche, is defining your target audience.
Who is your ideal reader? What are your ideal reader’s struggles?
By getting super specific about these answers, you will get super specific about your content and writing for your audience’s needs. When you write for your audiences needs they come back for more of your content and you build reader’s trust.
I personally don’t like the idea of a “niche” for one big reason: It feels salesy and inauthentic.
I want to help new bloggers build money making blogs in order to live a life they thought they never could. I want to help break generational financial curses. I want to teach anyone who is interested how to turn a blog into a full time income while working from home and stay home with their kids, or simply gain financial freedom.
This is my mission.
This is what I am passionate about.
If you go into blogging knowing what you want to say to the world and who you want to help with it, you’ll have a much easier time creating content around it and helping the people you want to help. If you’re in a niche it is a one fits all approach. There is a way to reach all people in this niche and so you try to do that instead of building a genuine relationships.
Spend some time getting some clarity and deciding what you want to write about with a couple of things in mind:
- What can you write about without burning out? If you pick something you think is profitable but you don’t really like, you won’t last blogging about it.
- You need to write about something that brings value to others if you want to make money blogging. This doesn’t mean picking a niche, but it does mean not treating your blog like a diary.
Pick a .com name!
Now it’s time to decide what your blog is going to be called. This is exciting but also scary because so many of us worry about getting it perfect the first time. I know I did. So I have a couple of tips that might help you out.
- Keep it simple– Don’t pick something too complicated or too long. Simple is best. Your audience needs to be able to remember it.
- Make sure it is available on social media- A lot of bloggers ignore this. Once they find their name is available as a domain, they completely forget about social media! Make sure your domain is available on socials because it’s gonna get really confusing if your blog and social handles aren’t the same (or at least really similar)
- Make sure it makes sense for what you’re writing about: Don’t name your mommy blog quickmeals.com. No one will know what you’re blog is about, and no one will remember it because it doesn’t make sense.
When I was picking my name, I did a brain dump exercise of everything I associated with the topics I wanted to write about. So, for example, if I had a food blog and was a mom, words that come to mind about food are: yummy, aromatic, delicious, organic, etc. Then, I started combining those words to get the ideas flowing like yummy organic mama.
Now that we’ve talked about how a blog works and what the components are and things you should think about before starting a blog.
I am going to be leading you step by step how to sign up for hosting, install WordPress, and Launch your website! Follow along for how to create your blog!
Step 1: Choose Hosting
Now that you have the name of your blog and what kind of content you’re going to create, lets talk about installing your hosting and picking a plan.
I will be showing you how to create a blog with Blue Host because it is what I have experienced myself. I’m going to show you step by step how easy it is to get your blog up and running.
When you use any of the links in this post or click here to sign up for Blue Host you get a discount exclusive to my audience that includes over 50% off, free WordPress installation, and a free .com. This link saves you over $50 annually.
If you decide to go with another host, that’s totally a-okay, just skip these next few steps!
So first, you’re going to go to bluehost.com. You will come to their homepage that looks like this. Then you need to click “get started now”
This will take you to the next page where you will be able to select your plan. If you’re trying to start your blog on the cheap like I was, you can always select the cheapest plan and upgrade later. That’s what I did and it saved me a ton of money.
Step 2: Choose Your Blue Host Plan
Now, you will pay upfront for a year, which can seem like a big investment when you’re first starting out, but it is so worth it. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
1 year: $71.40
2 years: $118.80
3 years: $95.40
It’s a cheaper deal the more years you purchase, but for many bloggers it is only possible to purchase one year at first, which is fine, it’s what I did!
However if you do purchase more than one year and change your mind, Blue Host does refund whatever is left. For the purpose of your new blog you only need to select the “Basic Plan” and that will cover hosting for one website and all the essentials you need to get your blog started.
You can purchase Blue Host hosting here
Step 3: Choose A Domain Name
After you select the plan that’s right for you, you will be led to a page that ask you to enter your domain name.
Remember that website name exercise we did? Now’s the time to put it into action, and name your blog by claiming your free domain name.
After choosing a domain name, it will tell if you if it is available or not. Once that’s done you will be lead to the next page to create an account and fill in your personal details.
Step 4: Create An Account
You can then choose your hosting package length. I chose only a year because you can always update later when you have more money to put into your business. However, you do save yearly the more you purchase upfront.
Step 6: Choose Hosting Package + Length
I would advise you to uncheck most, if not all of them WordPress has free plugins that do the same things for no additional cost. After this, you will be prompted to enter your payment information to proceed.
Step 7: Payment
Yay, You’re almost done with the technical stuff! After putting in your payment, you will be prompted to choose a password for your website and can then install WordPress with one click and then you are done.
Congratulations, you have a blog. If you made it this far, I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!
Blogging is amazing, and it has changed my life, and I know it will change yours. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to create. If you need any additional help, please feel free to contact me and ask me any questions. I would love to help you out, you can either email me or comment on this post.
Step 8: Pick A Theme
When you are prompted to pick a theme, don’t feel too overwhelmed by it. You can always change it later. In fact, if you’re building a profitable blog I would suggest picking a free one so you can set up your blog and then later purchasing one through either mojo market or creative market.
Having a paid theme will give you some extra professional points and help you look more serious and established. After you pick a theme you will be led to this page that has a button that reads “start building” click on that.
Step 9: Finishing Up
After you have built your website, you will be asked if you would like your website to be a “personal” site or a “business” site. I chose business and if you plan on making money with your blog, business is a good option
You will then be led to a page where you have the option to launching your site!
Once you click “launch” your page should look like the one below.
Congratulations, your blog is done! From here you can edit your theme, posts, layout, plugins, and everything else to customize your website. You can access you site anytime by selecting “My Sites”.
Now that you have a blog, it’s time to fill it with all the wonderful and awesome stuff you’ve got to say! The backbone of any good blog beyond the pretty pictures and fancy themes is good solid content.
You might be asking, what is “good content”? To that I say, it depends on your goals. If you’re reading this, you most likely are looking to start a profitable blog for either side income or full time income, which means you need to be focusing on content that is valuable to your audience. Content that reviews something, solves a problem, or teaches something is valuable and also known as “pillar content” or “evergreen content”.
For my blog, I decided to write at least some content before I launched it to the public. It’s advised by many bloggers to have some content on your blog so your audience doesn’t just click off after finding your blog. You don’t have to do this, but its what I chose to do so I would be able to focus on promoting my content and building a community. If you want to know more about creating content that earns money you can check out my post How to Treat Your Blog Like A Business From Day 1
I hope this post has been super helpful for you and your blogging journey and that you are ready to share your brilliance with the rest of us!
You did it, you started a blog, now go celebrate (and then work your booty off creating content!)