Blogging is absolutely blowing up.
With the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020, more adults are recognizing that sitting behind a desk 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year with their results controlled by someone else isn’t so fun anymore.
While the pandemic has been detrimental for many, the silver lining is right now, you’re currently looking into how to start a blog that can help you make money. Whether you have the:
- Extra time on your hands
- Want to write about passions or causes
- Or, because you simply want more streams of income,
Blogging is a great opportunity for anyone who possesses a little sticktoitiveness and a simple understanding of a keyboard.
In the wake of the shutdown, adults of all ages are waking up to the fact that relying on one source of income is risky, and creating income through blogging is a fantastic way to flexible and even passive income.
Not to mention, blogging can be fun. For example, today we will be creating a fake blog (for this article) on stand up paddle boarding.
In the coming article, I will share with you 7 very practical and mostly simple steps to creating a blog that can help you eventually earn $1,000 or more per month in under 45 minutes (this includes setup).
Step 1: What’s your blogging idea?
The first step in starting your blog is knowing what the heck you're going to write/talk about!
This screenshot below is just my invoicing account over the last 90 days of the money I have received leveraging my blog:
However, we don't want to get ahead of ourselves.
Before you can start making an extra $100, $500, or $1,000 plus blogging – you first need to figure out what the heck you're going to write about! Here is how to do just that:
What do you enjoy?
Asking yourself this question can be the best way to start figuring out what exactly it is you want to blog about!
I am not going to pretend that blogging is always puppy cuddles and rainbows, there are elements of blogging that can be tedious and boring.
However, I have found that if you truly are PASSIONATE about your topic or enjoy something in life, writing about it can be easier! With that being said, here is how you can identify a topic to blog about:
- Write down hobbies or things you enjoy
- Write down a list of 5 passions you have
- Don't be worried about it being “Too Specific”- Niche blogging is actually your best option to growing a profitable blog.
You can always add more to your ideas later on, but a big mistake most new bloggers make is trying to blog about everything! The more specific the better.
Once you have a solid idea, just do a little search on Google to see what else is out there. For the sake of this article, I will use a specific niche blogging topic: Stand Up Paddle Boarding.
As you can see, Stand Up Paddle Boarding get's quite a few search hits every month and the competition is really low. This means there is interest in the topic, but not a lot of people are writing about it.
On the contrary, if you were to write about investing – the competition is going to be way higher! That doesn't mean you can't create a successful investing blog, it just means there is no truly original idea.
Step 2: Pick a blog domain name & get hosting.
Here is how you pick a blog name/domain:
Take out a piece of paper, write down your blog niche/topic on the top.
Brain dump names you like for your blog idea, and keep them at 2-3 words may. For example, since we are talking about SUP Boarding, ideas might include:
- SUP Board Guy
- Your SUP Board
- The SUP Board BLOG (TSBB)
- Paddle Board Adventures
- Lakeside SUP Board
You get the point, short, sweet, and memorable!
Once you have your domain name idea, type it in a search bar, just to make sure it's not taken! Chances are it won't be, but it could be, so play it safe and have a backup.
Once you have a domain, now you can land hosting for your blog and download WordPress!
I have started my blog and helped friends start their own websites over 10 times. Every time I start with the one-stop-shop called Bluehost.
In blogging you have your host and your platform. Just about every serious blogger uses WordPress as their platform, and hosting can vary.
For starters, Bluehost is your best bet because you're able to:
- Get hosting for 36 months
- Get your domain name (included)
- Download WordPress (included)
- SSL (https) secure
- Select the basic plan for $2.95 a month (you don’t the fancy professional plans)
2. Choose your domain name (you should have already thought this one out – short, catchy, and niche specific)
3. Fill out the basic contact info then read this:
I always recommend buying the 36-month package (it is the cheapest) and the only add-on worth considering is maybe the domain protection, but I don't see the need for it any more personally.
Now you have your blog! Before we start designing and crafting killer blog posts, you will want to complete one more step:
Activate Your SSL:
- Just go to your Bluehost login.
- Click my sites.
- Click manage site.
- Click security.
- Toggle on free SSL certificate.
I get a small percent of the commission when you use my link to start your blog with Bluehost. This is at no cost to you and I just helped you save up to 65% if you followed the tips above :).
Step 3: Start setting up your WordPress blog.
First, don't let the WordPress dashboard intimate you, it's not that bad. Everything you need is on the left and you will slowly familiarize yourself with everything WP offers.
Here is a quick rundown of your left menu options, I highlighted the most important ones that everyone has:
Each is self explanatory for the most part.
Posts are where you manage your blog posts, pages are where you create website pages, and appearance is where we will spend some time setting up your blog.
Plugins, are basically tools you can add to your blog. To give you an example, later we talk about the Yoast Plugin which is used for SEO purposes!
Setting Up/Designing Your Blog:
If you're like me, chances are you have never designed a website.
Don't freak out, it is not that difficult. Typically, you will learn over time and through some trial and error. I also promote something I heard one time called “TFO”- try and find out.
That being said, first you will want to start with the appearance tab and go from there:
Add a theme:
>> To start, click Appearance, Themes.
Here you can search for WordPress themes, premium themes or use the free ones provided (there are feature/search options to help you find a suitable theme).
I would recommend using a free theme provided by WordPress/Bluehost or you can get a paid theme from Studiopress (They created the Genesis Framework which I use for all my websites).
For now, I would say go with free and in a few months switch to a paid theme once you have a better idea of what you want.
Add Some Pages:
Once you have your theme selected, you will want to add some pages:
Pages – this is where you create website pages, for example, the About, Home, Contact Me, and Recommended pages on MLW are all pages I created.
>> Just simply click “Add New” and you will create a page. Pages I would recommend starting with:
- Create a custom Home Page which is simple using widgets, Elementor (paid), or the free theme content (recommended)
- Create a very transparent “About Me” page.
- Create a “Contact Me” page using the form feature with in the create a page. Just don’t include your email address.
- Create a Privacy/Disclosure page. Just go ahead and create something generic and get it over with. Heck, you can copy mine if you want, I don’t care – just take out the Money Life Wax stuff.
- Most themes will come with a Blog page, a Contact page, and a Privacy page you can simply customize
Create Your Blog's Menu:
Setting up your blog's menu can sometimes seem tricky, but it isn't that bad. For your blog's primary menu you will want to have something simple, here is the Money Life Wax menu:
Under each is a drop-down option, that when you edit your menu, you simply drag and drop. For example, as you can see below, Money, drops down into Make More Money, Pay Off Debt, Saving Money.
To access your menu, simply go to >> Apperance, Menus:
I use my blog categories to help break up my blog, this is something you can do as you add more and more content. The only thing you might want to know about is the “Custom Link” feature.
This allows you to name a page, section, or menu item whatever you want!
Adjust Your Settings
This is where you can set your site title (blog name) also with a tagline.
For example, SUP Board Guy | Adventures & SUP Board Advice:
On Google, it will look like this:
Next, be sure to make sure your email is correct and adjust your time zone to wherever you live since the default is Utah.
Typically, you want to have a “Static Home Page” where you showcase your best posts or categories for readers.
However, you can also have your latest posts as an option as well since your blog is so new, then change later. The only other feature I like to change is to include a summary for each post, NOT the full text.
Double-check and make sure your permalinks (the “Slug”) are set to post name. However, later in the crafting blog posts section, I will teach you how to edit these for SEO purposes.
This is what makes WordPress amazing in my opinion = Widgets.
Plugins and Widgets are why all pro bloggers use WordPress and over time you will want to familiarize yourself with widgets.
For now, simply know you can customize your sidebar here,
>> Appearance, Widgets:
You don't need to spend a lot of time here YET, but it is where you can do some serious customization.
For more technical advice and design advice, use this article I wrote here that goes in-depth on plugins, design, and tools you will want to consider.
Design Mistakes to Avoid:
I am a bit of a perfectionist.
Truthfully, I spent more time making sure my blog “Looked Good” than I did making awesome content.
Don't do this.
From my early days of blogging, I can tell you – your blog can look amazing and have no readers if you don't have quality content.
And with no prior web design experience, if I could go back in time, I would simply pick a free WordPress theme or a Studiopress theme, make it functional and focus on creating great content!
Designing websites is something that evolves with you. Once again, it's not preaching, but don't overwhelm yourself with menial tasks like web design.
Step 4: Braindump a list of content ideas
To help you come up with content, this is going to be hard to accept, but in the world of blogging – you have to write to the reader, not to yourself.
I struggled with this and still do, but I have realized that what I think might be amazing isn't necessarily what my readers want. To help, I always tell new bloggers to gear their content around their “Avatar” or ideal reader.
Identify your Avatar:
Simply take out a piece of paper and start jotting down the demographics of your ideal reader. Include things like:
- Age range
- Income level
- Education level
- Potential views
In the case of stand up paddleboarding, we would want to identify the ideal reader of a paddleboard blog. You can go deeper into this and look into things like characteristics of paddle boarders, where paddleboarders typically live, etc.
Once you have a solid avatar, now you can start brainstorming content!
How to create content ideas:
Simply answering the, “Who, What, Where, When, and How” questions is enough to keep you busy with generating content ideas for your blog!
For example, if you're blogging about paddleboarding, you could write about:
- How to paddleboard for beginners
- Where to paddleboard in your area
- Who is paddle boarding for
- When is the best time to paddleboard?
- Best SUP Boards for 2020
- SUP Board Water to Avoid
- What is Stand Up Paddle Boarding
That list took about 10 seconds to generate and I could have gone on forever. Simply use a Google Sheet like this (free download here) to help you brain dump tons of content ideas!
You can always go back and add search volume and other info!
Also, look for ways to also show you're creative side by writing “Original Content.”
Where blogging differs from traditional media norms is the conversational tone and individual perspective that mainstream media companies simply can't offer.
Do your best to create content that is unique. For example, in addition to writing about the best SUP Boards, if I was blogging about paddleboarding I could share my experiences or create a funny article like, “The Funniest Paddle Boarding Falls I Have Personally Experienced.”
This human element mixed in with how-to posts will help you connect with readers!
You can also do keyword research to help you find keywords to write about!
Do Some Keyword Research
Let me first start by saying that it took me about 1.5 years to even start to understand keywords.
While I don't think it will take you that long, it isn't something you should overwhelm yourself with either. As you progress as a blogger I would recommend researching search engine optimization and keywords.
To help you, here are just a few quick tips to figuring out some keywords:
1.) Use What Google Gives You:
Use Google to your advantage.
For example, type in a common term like “Stand up paddleboarding” and then use the “People also ask” and “Searches Related”:
Write there, you now have 12+ keywords to explore/use.
2.) Look at other “Slugs”
This isn't the easiest way and in some blogging spheres its a bit frowned upon, but looking at other articles slugs can sometimes give a good indication of a keyword.
A slug is a series of words after your website name that identifies your article. For example, this blog post's slug is how-to-start-a-blog. My keyword? You guessed it – how to start a blog.
Sticking with SUP boards, here is an example of a blog post slug:
While this isn't the best way to do keyword research, it is a quick way to generate a few post ideas.
Pro Tip: Keep your slugs short and sweet, these are edited with Yoast and should not be your entire title, but instead you want to tell Google what your post is about!
3.) Use Keywords Everywhere Plugin
The quick, cheap and easy way to do keyword research is to install the Keywords Everywhere plugin.
The plugin is free to install and after free uses, you have to buy “credits” to do research. However, for $15 I bought 100,000 credits. In one year I have used just 5,500 of those credits.
I simply toggle the plugin on and off when I want to use it. Simply search for a term and then use the options on the right to collect keywords:
4.) Learn how to do real research with Moz or Ahrefs
Eventually, you will want to use Moz or Ahrefs to do advanced keyword research. I have personally used both but I will just say this – wait!
Focus on writing high-quality blog posts, which we cover next. Don't overwhelm yourself is something I say often to new bloggers. Trying to do EVERYTHING at a high level isn't possible.
Come back to this article and bookmark this SEO Research Course here that helped me learn everything about SEO!
However, if you want to look into it now, check out:
These are the best-paid tools for SEO and keyword research, though at this point, I would recommend simply holding off for now and coming back to this in a few months!
Writing (Step 5) is our next topic!
Step 5: How to Craft 5-10 Quality Blog Posts
Prior to publishing your blog/going live, I would recommend prewriting 5-10 blog posts that way you start out ahead of your content, instead of behind it (like I did).
This will help you start off your blog launch on the right foot, instead of feeling like you need to “Keep up with content.” While this is not a rule, I would recommend at least having 5 articles on your website drafted up.
Here is how to write blog posts for QUALITY:
To start writing, you can access the “New Post” button from three places on WordPress, typically, I go with the left sidebar option, Add New.
Next, you will want to create what I call a “Working Title,” with some of your keywords if possible. You can always change your title later, especially if its a list and you are not sure if it will be 7, 8, 9, etc.
Once you have your title, I go ahead and fill out the Yoast Plugin SEO data. This is a free plugin and it's all you need for SEO.
Simply tap the “Y” and enter your focus keyword, in this case, “best SUP board”.
Next, you will want to tap the pencil above next to “Google Preview” to adjust your “Slug” to include your keyword and add a “Meta Description” with your keyword (This is the snippet below a link you see on Google):
When you're done, simply hit close and you are all set when it comes to SEO, aside from writing of course!
Identify Blogging Headings (H2 and H3)
Above this sentence is an example of a H3 heading. Step 5: How to Craft Quality Blog Posts, is an example of an H2 heading.
It is important to know that when writing blog posts, your headings do matter, because they do the following:
- Headings break up the text for readers
- Headings tell readers the focus of that section
- H1 is your title, and shouldn't be used in text
- H2's are your subheadings, and with in a H2 you can have H3s
- On average you want to have 150-250 words between headings, right around 200 being ideal
The first thing I do is lay out all my headings (you can always change them) to help guide and structure my writing.
I will sometimes read similar blog posts to get a feel for headings and I do my best to include my keyword in a few headings:
As you can see, the above layout has six H2 headings, and seven areas to add text.
Now that you got your blog post ready for SEO and your working headings identified, now you can write.
Writing in Blog Style
When you write a blog post, it is conversational and way less formal. Blog posts typically:
- Use conversational tone
- Should be at least 1,000 words
- Don't require you to indent (thank you high school for nothing)
- Don't require 3-5 sentences per paragraph
- In fact, you want your paragraphs to be 1-2 sentences to help readers
Here is what I mean:
The above text block (paragraph) is 101 words, includes my keyword focus and introduces the point of the article.
When possible, add bullets or numeric lists to help break up text and to highlight steps you want to take!
Quality Writing is Key
It took me about a year to figure out everything I just shared above when it comes to writing blog posts.
I was told to write “often” and post frequently which turned out to be a mistake since I wrote about anything I wanted for the longest time.
However, when it comes to a quality blog that makes you money, that starts with quality content. Think of writing blog posts that:
- Answer questions or problems for readers
- Is transparent and authoritative
- Relatable when applicable
This doesn't mean you have to write like John Grisham or Maya Angelou, but just make sure you stay focused on your niche – like paddle boards.
Developing a strong SUP board readership would be hard if my articles also talked about hiking, running, and cycling.
While this might not be a bad idea in the long run once your blog grows, staying focused and having quality content is key!
Before you hit publish!
Before you hit publish on a blog post, here are some quick tips to know:
Schedule your post: When you hit publish, you have the option to choose a date and time to “Schedule your post.”
When you have created your 5-10 posts, schedule them 2-3x per week. I do Tue-Wed-Thr. But I originally just did Tue/Thr.
Select Categories & Cover Photo: After you got your post date, make sure you also choose the appropriate categories (2-3 usually) and set a featured image.
Don't inundate yourself looking for cover photos or making them, simply:
- Look up free stock images online
- Create a CANVA account and design images using their templates
*Remember, the design doesn't matter if you have no eyeballs to look at it*
Also, forget about tags. Some bloggers will say use them, but the more I read, they're really irrelevant at this point in the how-to blog game!
One last tip.
When adding photos, be sure to always include your keyword in the “Alt Text” box. This tells Google what the image is.
Step 6: Monetize your blog with these strategies:
When I started blogging I kept hearing this term called “Monetizing” and while I knew it had something to do with money, truth be told I did not know what it meant.
Monetizing your blog simply means making money with your blog, or using it to earn revenue.
The most common forms of monetizing a blog include:
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsored posts & sponsorship
- Email marketing
- Selling digital products
- Coaching others
Personally, I have made money using all of the above except for #5.
My least favorite is ads and if you notice I don't have ads on Money Life Wax because, in my opinion, the user experience goes way down with ads, and to really make money with ads you want about 50,000 page views.
However, what I do love is sponsored posts that I align with my readers and affiliate marketing.
Here is an example if we are stilling with our Stand Up Paddle Board theme:
Let's say a SUP Board company reaches out and asks you to write a review on their board. Once your blog has some traction and a decent email list, you could charge this company $200 all the way up to $1,000 for this one post.
^^ This would be an example of a sponsorship/sponsored post. An example of affiliate marketing would be if you wrote an article like this:
“The 10 Best Paddle Boards for This Summer.“
If you are an affiliate for Amazon let's say, and you linked to each board and someone purchased a SUP Board, you would get an affiliate commission!
For starters, focus on writing high-quality content and growing your email list, and monetizing will get easier down the road. Or you can do this:
Quick Idea to Make Money Blogging:
What has separated me from other bloggers when it comes to making money blogging is a very important term called LEVERAGE.
As you begin to progress as a blogger you quickly realize that blogging is something that will take some time to create a steady income, but it is really just a form of marketing.
Graphics, SEO, Content, Social Media, Email – you name it – is all encompassed in what is called digital marketing. Knowing this, early on I quickly realized that though my blog would be the long-term plan, I could also make some money using my blogging skills.
I started offering my digital marketing services to small business owners I knew and within five months of blogging, I was making $1,000 a month with marketing.
This allowed me to enhance my skills and reinvest in my blog (treat it like a business). “Blogging” for others is something to consider in the early stages to help you make some money as you grow your readership!
Step 7: Stay Steady Blogging
You hear it all the time, “Life isn't a sprint, it's a marathon.”
That cliche, somewhat redundant saying may be played out, but when it comes to blogging, it couldn't be more true.
When you start your blog, there is no doubt some easier and quicker ways to make money that may not require as much effort such as a part-time job or driving for Uber.
If you need money now, those ^^^^ may be your best bet.
However, if you understand that blogging is similar to training for a marathon, what you will realize is that it takes time to get the ball rolling… but once it get's rolling your blog will grow.
I used to hate running. I started running a few miles here and there before I signed up for a half marathon.
I knew if that if I signed up for a race and followed a training plan, I would be able to complete my first half marathon. Sure enough, 100 days later I finished my first half marathon in the top 20% and at 8:32 a mile.
Had you asked me about running 13.1 miles before that I would have laughed! But a few months later with a simple approach to training, I did it!
I just made a point to always run 25 miles a week, which took about a total of five hours per week.
Blogging is the same way.
You won't get it all today, tomorrow or next week. But getting hosting and a domain name will make you commit to yourself.
You will always have something “to do” for your blog and you can easily lose track of time simply trying to edit one thing on your website.
Learning how to blog is really done through trial and error, combined with a little reading. Consistently finding five hours a week to dedicate to your blog will do the following:
- Set you up for blog growth
- Avoid blogger burnout
- Create 2 high quality posts per week
That is all you need! Two high-quality posts per week and in three months you have 24-30 posts! From there you will have gained enough experience to know where to improve, where to target growth areas and so on!
Stay steady, stay consistent, have a long-term approach, you never know when someone might come and offer you $50,000 or more for your blog (Yes, this happens).
Final Blogging Tip
I am extremely happy with my decision to start a blog less than three years ago!
Since that summer day, I have no written well over 300 articles and because of blogging, I have been able to create extra income for my wife and I that ranges between $1200 to $2400 per month.
That being said, my final two tips would be these:
- Stay patient
- Stay informed
I have alluded to it several times now, but blogging is a long-term game that tends to go against our short-term desires. Don't look at blogging as a short-term fix for your financial needs, but as a long-term solution that will give you back some control.
In addition to emphasizing patience, if I could do something again, I would join blogging groups way earlier simply for the support, encouragement, and for the sake of not learning the hard way.
Since joining an insider blogging group I have seen my blog blow up and I have also been able to attract stronger partnerships. So as we part here are some final words:
- How to start a blog is not something that is too complicated to learn, but it's not easy either
- Start with Bluehost to get your domain name, secure website, hosting, and WordPress all for under $100 when you use this link (Yes I get compensated for this but not at your expense! I will also help you if you need anything – simply email me here)
- Bookmark these articles for future help:
- Courses to consider:
- Stupid Simple SEO
- Bloggers Secrets
Here is to scaling and making money with your new blog! Get after it!
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and many more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their newborn son, their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! In case you were wondering, Josh uses Personal Capital to track his net worth and his first investment account ever was an Acorns account 😎