How to Start a Blog and Make Money – Step by Step Guide

how to start a blog

Want to know how to start a blog and make money but have no idea how? If you are a beginner, this guide will teach you everything you need to know on how to start a blog in just 4 easy steps, things to do to get started with WordPress and how to make money with a blog.

When I started blogging 9 years ago, I did not know much about blogging but with time I learned a lot by myself and also from other bloggers. Even before I started blogging I knew how to build HTML websites and a bit of programming.

I taught myself PHP, MYSQL, CSS, how to customize WordPress Themes, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), online marketing and everything else needed to make this blog earn thousands of dollars every month.

But a lot of people I know find it confusing to even create a blog. If this is you look no further, I have explained step by step in simple words on how to create a blog.

Starting a blog is very easy and does not require any coding knowledge.

Lets begin with understanding what a blog is. You can skip to starting a blog if you wish.

How to Start a blog

  1. Pick a topic for your blog
  2. Buy domain
  3. Buy Hosting
  4. Install WordPress
  5. Choose a WordPress Theme

Important things to do after installing WordPress

  1. Remove the default “admin” account
  2. Change the Permalink Structure
  3. Hide the version of your WordPress blog
  4. Disable Folder Browsing
  5. Add Categories
  6. Add your Sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools
  7. Set preferred domain
  8. Add Google Analytics
  9. Social share buttons
  10. Social Networks
  11. Time Zone

Important pages for your blog

WordPress Plugins to install

Getting started with WordPress

Start Blogging

How to make money with a blog

  1. Ads
  2. Direct Ads
  3. Products and Services
  4. Affiliate marketing
  5. Membership site
  6. Consulting

Build an email list

What is a Blog?

A blog is a type of website where the posts are shown in the most recent order on the blogs homepage. A blog is updated regularly and readers are able to leave comments on each post.

What is a post? A post  is what you are reading right now. Its a page containing your article.

The post you are reading right now is about how to start a blog. But it can be on any topic you want to write about. It can be just text, image, video, audio or the combination of all of them.

Wikipedia defines a Blog as

A blog (a truncation of the expression web log) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first).

Watch these 2 videos that explain what a blog is

 

What does blogging and blogger mean?

What does blogging mean? When you are writing a blog post, its called blogging.

Who is a blogger? Someone who blogs is a blogger. You are a blogger if you write for a blog or own a blog.

So I am a blogger who is blogging right now :)

Blogs are updated regularly

Blogs are updated regularly and are written by just one person (like this blog) or by multiple people (like techcrunch.com).

Tip: If you start a blog, make sure to update it regularly by choosing a posting frequency and sticking to it. It can be once a week, once a day or even 4 times a day.

If you are not posting daily, try to post on the same days every week. For example if you are going to blog 2 times a week, blog every Monday and Thursday of the week. This way your readers will know when to expect a post from you and visit on that day to read your post.

Just like you know which day your favorite TV series has their episode on and you make sure to watch it that day.

Whatever posting frequency you choose, make sure you stick to it.

This is very important for two reasons:

1. Your readers will know when to expect a post from you and visit on that day to read your post (if not posted daily).

2. It helps to get more traffic from Search Engines like Google

Blogs are usually written on a particular topic

If you start a blog, make sure to write on just one topic. For example, do not write on health and photography on the same blog.

This is important for many reasons:

  • by blogging on just one topic, you start getting readers who are interested in that topic. This helps to make more money with your blog.
  • Google AdSense will start showing ads more relevant to your topic
  • your blog will be known for that topic and can become the go to place for that topic
  • you can be seen as an expert on the topic, which means more people will refer your blog to their friends and family and you gain trust among your readers and you will be able to sell more products

When I first started this blog, I blogged on Technology, blogging and making money online and I ended up getting AdSense ads on blogging on my tech posts.

How is this bad? They are irrelevant ads (meaning less clicks and leads to less money made)

I made more money by starting a separate technology blog. Don’t make my mistake.

Examples of Blogs on different topics

  • Technology blog - techcrunch.com
  • Photography blog – digital-photography-school.com
  • Food blog - thelittlekitchen.net
  • Health blog - dietriffic.com
  • Celebrity gossip blog - perezhilton.com

You may see on some of the blogs that the homepage does not show the most recent posts. You can do that too on your blog if you would like.

You can show the latest posts or popular posts or promote your product or service. Its completely up to you.

Blogs have an Archive

Your blog homepage can only show a certain number of posts. As you update your blog with new posts, the older posts disappears from the homepage.

So how will your blog readers find your old posts? That’s where an Archive page comes handy. Your blog readers can find and read your old posts by month or year and even by category.

So for example, your readers can check which articles were written last year or in particular which articles were written on March 2013

But whats more useful than sorting your articles by time, is sorting them by category. This way, your readers can find and read articles on their favorite category.

For example, this blog can have categories like Blogging, WordPress, Make money online and SEO and you could read my articles on just WordPress.

Another way to get readers to find and read older articles is through search. Place a search box on your blog where your site visitors can easily find it (above the fold).

You can also make a page listing your most popular posts and link to it on the navigation bar.

Tip: Always make sure to link to relevant older posts on your newer posts because it will help your readers find your older posts.

Blogs have a comment section

Most blogs have a comment section after every post where readers can leave a comment.  This adds a social element to the blog and makes readers feel like part of a community.

What can readers use the comment section for?

  • Readers can use it to ask questions relating to the post
  • answer questions the post asks
  • take part in the conversation
  • give feedback on the post
  • thank the author for the post
  • reply to other readers who have left a comment
  • promote their blog or site by spamming (don’t worry there are automated ways to protect your blog from comment spam)
  • promote their blog or site by leaving helpful comments that add value (people can enter their site url in the comment form, the links left in comments have by default rel=nofollow which mean that search engine bots wont follow the links. So if the links are spammy, it wont affect your blog)

Why is the comment section important?

The comment section can be used to build a relationship with your blog visitors and turn them into regular readers of your blog.

You can get visitors to leave comments on your posts by asking questions at the end of a post (this helps to increase the number of comments you get) and by making your posts conversational. You can do this by using the words ‘you’ and ‘I’ and by writing the post as if you are explaining to a friend.

By answering any questions visitors leave on your comment section, you encourage them to comment on your future posts.

Also by helping them, they remember you and your blog and read your future posts.

Tools helpful for bloggers (that I use)

  • Filezila – free FTP software. You can use it to manually install or update WordPress, install or update plugins and theme files
  • easyPHP – You can use it to install WordPress locally on your computer. I use it when I need to redesign my WordPress blog
  • notepad++ is a  much better alternative to the windows notepad
  • Windows On-Screen Keyboard – I use this when logging into email or bank sites to avoid any keyloggers
  • Pomodoro timer - I use the pomodoro technique to keep myself productive and to keep writing. 25 mins of work and then 10 mins of break. You can download the Pomodoro timer from here (scroll all the way down)
  • Photoshop – for creating and editing images for blog posts. You can find free Photoshop alternatives here
  • Adobe reader – to read ebooks/PDF files
  • Chrome - the browser I use and recommend

Chrome extensions I use that are helpful for bloggers

  • Buffer – to schedule my tweets
  • Google dictionary – this is a very useful extension by Google. Just double click on a word and you get the definition
  • OneTab – useful for people like me who open a ton of tabs. The extensions makes it super easy to save the open tabs and to get back to them later when you want. Also group tabs and restore them together.

Blogs are used in many ways

  • as a personal diary – to share opinions and life events (a good example of a personal blog is my friends blog - whoisdeep.com)
  • Individuals (like this blog) or a team of people (example – copyblogger.com) can create a blog to share with the world their expertise on specific topics
  • Companies use blogs to get customers for their product or service. Example - blog.kissmetrics.com

How do companies do it? They consistently write detailed posts on topics related to their product/service and get people who would be interested  in their product or service from Search Engines, Social networks, other blogs on same topics and from word of mouth. You can also get traffic to your blog by advertising on Google, Facebook or any other site.

They then build a relationship with these visitors, gain their trust and then finally get them to buy their product or service.

As you can see, blogs are for everyone.  You can start a blog in minutes without even knowing HTML and CSS.

There are a lot of free and paid themes you can use. There are also plenty of free plugins that can be easily installed that let you do stuff your blog platform cannot do.

Blogs can be viewed anytime from anywhere – desktop, laptops, smartphones and tablets. I will explain more on this later.

Blogging is a great way to connect with other people and get your ideas out there or to teach what you know and help people.

Continue reading this blog to learn all about blogging, promoting your blog and make money blogging.

So what are you waiting for? Here’s how to start a blog…

#1 Pick a topic for your blog

This is an important step. Do not start a blog on many topics. I made this mistake. I started this blog posting personal stuff, then started blogging about technology and then about blogging and making money online.

This is a big mistake. Your blog has to be on one topic.

By writing one topic, you will be seen as an expert on the topic, build an audience who are interested in that topic, rank higher in search engines and make more money.

How will you make more money?

  • relevant AdSense ads
  • builds an audience interested in that topic, so you can sell more products and services
  • you get more traffic from Google, because they will trust your site

So don’t mix a blog with multiple topics. If you are interested in Cooking and Photography, start two separate blogs on them.

Now that you know you have to start a blog on just one topic, which topic should you pick?

Tips to choose a topic for your blog

  • it should be something you are very interested in
  • you should have the knowledge, experience and expertise in it
  • the topic should be profitable (if you want to make money blogging)

This is another mistake I made, I was interested in gadgets but I did not have enough knowledge to start a blog on it.

Is the topic profitable?

Look at other blogs in your topic and find if they are getting traffic and making money.

Tip: You can find blogs in your topic from Alltop. Just visit Alltop and search for your blogs topic.

To get an idea if the topic is profitable, go to Clickbank marketplace and see if the products in your topic (you can find the categories on the left side) have a high gravity score. If they have a high gravity score, it means enough people are buying the products in that topic and that topic is profitable.

To find the gravity score, click the category that matches your blogs topic. You will now find popular products for that category. To find the gravity score, check the stats for each product. Gravity is shown as ‘Grav’.

Sort results by Gravity and find if the gravity score for the first 5 products in your topic are higher than 30.

clickbank gravity

Also find how blogs in your topic monetize their blogs. Do they have ads or are they promoting products and services?

Do the blogs in your topic have enough Search Engine traffic?

To find if blogs in your topic get traffic

  1. find popular blogs on your topic
  2. go to semrush.com and enter the domain name and click search
  3. now you will find a lot of useful information like the search engine traffic they get, keywords they rank for, position for each keyword they rank for and search volume for each keyword

Tip: semrush also shows the competitors in organic search, you can use this to analyse other blogs in your topic

You can also find the search traffic for a keyword by using Google AdWords: Keyword Planner

Can you do better than the other blogs in your topic?

Something important that you need to ask yourself before you start a blog in a topic, can you do better than the other blogs in your topic?

Your blog should not be a ‘me too’ blog. It should be unique, should stand out from other blogs. People should have a reason to read your blog instead of others like it.

You need to blog consistently and regularly for years. You cant do this if you are not really interested in the topic. Eventually you will get tired and give up (probably just when you could have had success).

To get search engine traffic, you need

  • quality content – do you have detailed and useful posts?
  • quantity – you need a lot of quality posts
  • consistency – you need to choose a posting frequency and stick to it (once a day, twice a day, once a week, etc)
  • trust – have other authority blogs in your topic linked to you

You cant do any of this, without being very interested in the topic. Making money blogging is not easy. It requires a lot of hard work and time.

So if you decide to start a blog to make money, choose a topic you are very passionate about, have the knowledge and experience in it and is profitable.

If you want to build a profitable blog, you need to choose a profitable topic.

How to start a blog for free

If you have never blogged before, you can start a blog for free on wordpress.com or blogger.com. You can make it your personal blog and you may also mix in posts on topics you are interested in.

You can use this blog to learn the basics of blogging and to just have fun.

But if you are serious about making money blogging

  1. you should NOT use a free blogging platform like wordpress.com or blogger.com
  2. do NOT mix your personal blog with the blog you intent to make money with
  3. your blog HAS to be on one topic
  4. you SHOULD get your own domain name and hosting

#2 Buy Domain name

What is a domain name?

To explain in simple words, johntp.com is the domain name of this blog.

If you use a free blogging platform like wordpress.com or blogger.com, your blog will be at yourblog.wordpress.com or yourblog.blogspot.com  instead of yourblog.com

Which do you think is better? yourblog.wordpress.com, yourblog.blogspot.com or yourblog.com?

How to choose a Domain Name

The Domain name you choose should

  • use .com
  • be short
  • be unique
  • be easy to remember
  • be easy to spell
  • not contain hyphens
  • not contain numbers

To learn more, read The 7 Characteristics of Good Domain Names

Should you use your name as the domain name for your blog?

In my case, when I registered johntp.com, I did not intent to start a blog.

If I were to start a blog now, I would not choose my name as the domain name unless its for a personal blog.

I highly recommend you register your name as a domain name. You could use it as a personal blog.

How much will a Domain cost you?

Not much. Just around $10 a year. Nothing compared to the money you can make with your blog.

How to buy Domain Name for your blog?

godaddy

GoDaddy is the most popular place where people go to buy domain names.

Visit GoDaddy and enter a domain name you wish to buy and click ‘Search Domain’. It will let you know if the domain is available or not. If its not available, keep looking.

Buy a Domain name for your blog

Tip: Don’t buy hosting from Godaddy. Buy it from HostGator.

#3 Buy Hosting

What is Web Hosting?

In simple words, Web hosting is the service that provides space on the Internet for websites. It is where you place your Web pages so that they show up on the Internet.

When you make a website and want other people to see it, you will need to upload it with a web hosting service like HostGator.

According to Wikipedia -

A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server owned or leased for use by clients, as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center.

Different types of Web Hosting

There are 3 types of Web Hosting -

  1. Shared Hosting
  2. VPS Hosting
  3. Dedicated Servers

What is the difference between Shared Hosting, VPS Hosting and Dedicated Servers?

Shared Hosting is the cheapest hosting option and I would recommend this to you if  you are just starting a blog or are on a low budget.

The best Web Host for Shared Hosting is HostGator. It is used by most bloggers when just starting out.

You can move over to a good VPS hosting provider like KnownHost (which is what I use) when you start getting good traffic.

Watch this video that explains the difference between the different types of Web Hosting

Why should you pay for domain and hosting?

Why should you pay for domain and hosting when you can start a blog for free on wordpress.com or blogger.com?

  • they may not allow you to place ads on your blog
  • you will not have complete control over your blog
  • they could delete your blog without any warning and all your hard work goes down the drain
  • its more professional to have your own domain and hosting
  • many who started with a free blog regretted it when their blog became popular and they had to move

Once again, start a free blog only if you are not serious about blogging.

If you are serious about blogging and making money with a blog, get your own Domain and Hosting.

It will give you full control over your blog and you will look more professional.

How much will Hosting cost you?

hostgator

Not much. You can get cheap hosting at HostGator for just around $4 a month. Nothing compared to the money you can make with your blog.

When your blog grows and gets a lot of traffic, you can move to KnownHost VPS Hosting (which is what I use). Its more expensive, so start with HostGator for now if you are on a low budget.

Buy cheap hosting from Hostgator

Once you get your own domain with GoDaddy and hosting with Hostgator, install WordPress.

#4 Install WordPress

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a free blogging platform that is used by most bloggers with tons of free themes and plugins to extend the functionality of WordPress.

According to Wikipedia -

WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL, which runs on a web hosting service. Features include a plugin architecture and a template system.

WordPress comes in two flavors: the fully hosted WordPress.com, and the self-hosted version available at WordPress.org.

Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

With WordPress.com, you can start a free blog after registering. Your blog URL will be something like yourblog.wordpress.com

With WordPress.org, you can install WordPress on your own domain and hosting. Your blog URL can be anything you want. Example – yourblog.com or blog.yoursite.com

Since you are serious about blogging, you need WordPress.org

How to install WordPress in seconds

If you bought your hosting from the recommended web host of WordPress – HostGator, installing WordPress is VERY easy.

HostGator has a 1-Click WordPress QuickInstall which lets you easily have a WordPress blog ready in seconds!

If you don’t have this, you will have to install WordPress manually.

Watch this video by HostGator showing how to install WordPress using QuickInstall

Tip: Always keep WordPress up to date

 

#5 Choose a WordPress Theme

You can find plenty of free WordPress themes in the WordPress Themes directory but I strongly suggest getting your own theme to stand out from the other blogs in your topic.

You can either make your own like I did or get Premium WordPress Themes from StudioPress.

Make sure your themes are responsive so your blog displays well whether it be viewed on desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet.

The premium WordPress Themes from StudioPress are responsive, search engine optimized, secure and fast.

studiopress features

StudioPress is built by the copyblogger team and used and recommended by popular bloggers.

Get premium WordPress Themes from StudioPress

Things to do after installing WordPress

After installing WordPress, do these:

1. Remove the default “admin” account

By default WordPress creates the username ‘Admin’ for your blog. This means that if someone finds your password, they will have admin access to your blog free to do anything they want.

Its the same if your username is your name.

Don’t make it easy for hackers. Create a random username like mu3trdf45 with a strong password and give Administrator privileges to that account.

Generate strong passwords with strongpasswordgenerator

If you have posts under the ‘Admin’ username, move them to the new username and delete the Admin username.

2. Change the Permalink Structure

WordPress default permalink structure is not good for SEO. Change the default permalink to ‘post name’ and include relevant keywords in your URL when writing a post.

When writing a post, just under the post title WordPress lets you edit the permalink for the post.

Unless you have a news blog, don’t use dates in your permalink structure. If your content is timeless you don’t need the dates in your permalink structure.

To change your WordPress permalink structure:

Go to Settings -> Permalinks, select Post name and click ‘save changes’.

WordPress permalink settings

WordPress permalink settings

You will need to update the .htaccess file.

3. Hide the version of your WordPress blog

By default WordPress displays the version that you are running. If you visit your blog and check the page source you will see a line similar to this

<meta name=”generator” content=”WordPress 3.9.1″ />

Because hackers know the security holes on each WordPress version they can use this against you.

Add the following code to the functions.php file of your theme to hide your WordPress version:

function hide_wp_vers()
{
return '';
}
add_filter('the_generator','hide_wp_vers');

Another place where hackers can find the version of your WordPress blog is the readme file. Access your server via FTP (you can use FileZilla for this) and delete the file. You may need to delete this file every time you update WordPress.

4. Disable Folder Browsing

Another thing that you should do is disable folder browsing. If you do not disable, people will be able to find a lot of things like what images are in a folder, what WordPress themes and plugins you have installed, etc.

To make your WordPress blog more secure, disable folder browsing by uploading a blank index.html or index.php file inside each folder.

Note: If you are on the latest version of WordPress, then by default you have an index.php file in your WordPress themes and plugins folder.

You can also disable folder browsing by editing the .htaccess file located at the root of your server.

Open and add the following line in your .htaccess file:

Options -Indexes

5. Add Categories

Add categories for your blog. Remember to keep it neat and not have a lot of them .

6. Add your Sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools

Add your new site to Google Webmaster Tools and then your sitemap too. Once you add your site, you will be able to find when Googlebot last successfully accessed your home page, web crawl errors, etc.

7. Set preferred domain

Select your site from your Google Webmaster Tools dashboard and set your preferred domain (with or without www).

8. Add Google Analytics

Install Google Analytics to find a lot of useful information about your blog like the number of unique visitors a month, the source of traffic and the bounce rate.

Get the code from here and add it to your header.php file of your WordPress Theme.

9. Social share buttons

You can easily place Social share buttons in a floating bar or at the top or bottom of the post with the Digg Digg WordPress plugin.

10. Social Networks

Create a page on Twitter and Facebook with your blog name and promote them via your email list. Also use Buffer to schedule your social media posts so they don’t show up all together and overwhelm your readers.

11. Time Zone

Under Settings> General, change the time zone to match your countries time zone.

Important pages for your blog

Create these pages and add them to your blogs menu bar.

1. About Page

An About page is very important, add it and let your readers know what your blog is about, how you can help them and who you are. Also use it to build your email list (add an email signup form there).

Example of an about page

2. Contact Page

Create a page on your blog where your readers can email you. Use it to build a relationship with your readers.

Install a plugin like Contact Form 7 that adds a contact form to your blog so that your readers can get in touch with you.

Example of a contact page

3. Email capture page

Create a page on your blog offering an ebook or a free course as a bonus for joining your email list.

The ebook or course should be related to your blog topic that would help your readers.

Learn why you should build an email list

Example of an email capture page

4. Start here page

Start here page can be used to guide new visitors to your blog to your best blog posts, recommended tools and your free course or ebook.

How to install WordPress plugins

Login to your WordPress blog as admin and go to Plugins > Add New

Search for a plugin by name and click install now.

The page also has a link to the popular WordPress plugins.

install wordpress plugins

How to update WordPress Plugins

Login to your WordPress blog as admin and go to Plugins. This page lists all the installed plugins on your WordPress blog.

If any plugin has a new version available, it will let you know and have an update now link.

Just click the link and enter your FTP credentials to update the plugin.

Tip: Always make sure your WordPress plugins are up to date to avoid any problems.

WordPress Plugins to install

1. WordPress SEO Plugin

Install the latest version of WordPress SEO Plugin and optimize your new WordPress blog for Search Engines like Google and Bing. It’s the most complete SEO plugin for WordPress that I have found and offers you everything you need to optimize your blog.

It automatically generates XML Sitemaps and has a content analysis functionality.

After installing and activating the plugin, remember to visit the plugin’s settings page to customize it.

2. Akismet

The Akismet WordPress plugin protects your blog from comment and trackback spam.

It is already available for your freshly installed WordPress blog and only need to be activated from the Plugins page.

The following instructions can be found on the plugins description:

To get started: 1) Click the “Activate” link to the left of this description, 2) Sign up for an Akismet API key, and 3) Go to your Akismet configuration page, and save your API key.

3. W3 Total Cache

Install W3 Total Cache WordPress plugin to speed up page loading.

4. WP Smush.it

Install WP Smush.it to reduce image file sizes automatically as you upload them. This helps to load your pages faster.

5. WPtouch

If you do not want to buy a responsive WordPress Theme from Studiopress to display your blog properly for visitors using smartphones, install WPtouch.

WPtouch is a mobile plugin for WordPress that automatically enables a simple and elegant mobile theme for mobile visitors of your WordPress website.

How to make money with a blog

#1 Ads

The most common way bloggers make money is with ads. You can use Google AdSense for this. Place the ad code on your blog and AdSense will display relevant ads. You get paid when a visitor to your blog clicks the ad.

Warning: Do NOT click on your own ads. Google will find it and not allow you to use AdSense again.

Tips to make more money with Google AdSense

  • blend the ads – AdSense allows you to customize the colors, so use it to change them to match your blog themes background and link colors. This will get you more visitors to click the ads.
  • place the ads above the fold – place your AdSense ad right below your post title to increase CTR (click through rate)
  • choose the biggest ad size – AdSense offers different ad sizes, the biggest being Large rectangle (336 x 280). Place Large rectangle below your post title to get the most clicks.
  • make the ads more relevant – blog on just one topic to get relevant ads. When I started writing on both technology and blogging on this blog, I started getting ads related to blogging on my tech posts. This reduces the clicks you get as the ads are not relevant and so you make less money.
  • increase blog traffic – the more traffic you have = the more clicks you get = the more money you make.

Note: There are many alternatives to Google AdSense, but it is the one most people use.

Other types of ads

  • in-text adsin-text advertising places links directly into the text of the blog post. These can be annoying and confusing to your readers and I do not recommend them. Examples are infolinks and vibrantmedia
  • impression based – you get payed for each 1000 pageviews your blog gets. Example: Tribal Fusion

#2 Direct Ads

As long as you have traffic to your blog you can make easy money by placing Adsense ads. But here is the problem, Google takes a cut.

If you have high blog traffic and a brand, you can try finding advertisers by yourself to keep 100% of the money.

How do you find advertisers for your blog?

Easy. Google any keyword related to your blog topic and look for the ads on the right side (and sometimes top). Visit these sites that advertise on Google and contact them letting them know about your blog. Obviously not all of them will be interested in advertising on your blog, but keep trying.

Tip: You could offer them a low starting cost to encourage them to advertise on your blog. Later you can get them to advertise for a few months together for a discount.

#3 Products and Services

This is my favorite way to make money blogging. Why?

  • because it can make you way more money than ads
  • does not make your blog look ugly with ads
  • does not take extra space on your blog
  • does not slow down your blog

What are products and services?

A product is something you can sell for a one time payment like a $19 ebook

With SaaS (Software as a service) you get payed every month!

Examples of products you can sell

  • ebook
  • course
  • video or audio
  • WordPress themes
  • WordPress plugins
  • software
  • icons
  • iOS or Android apps

Examples of SaaS

  • Aweber - Email Marketing
  • Leadpages - Mobile Responsive Landing Page Generator
  • Scribe - Content Optimization Software for Online Marketing
  • SEMrush – Competitors research, shows organic and Ads keywords for any site or domain
  • ViralSweep - Create Sweepstakes and Giveaways
  • LinkTrackr - Link Cloaking and Tracking Software

How to make more money with your blog by selling products?

1. build an email list

Offer a free bonus like an ebook or course related to your blog topic in exchange for the readers email. You can also offer bonuses specific to each post (something related to the post).

Majority of the people who leave your blog, never return. By capturing your visitors emails, you can email them anytime you want. You can use this to promote products and services.

Learn more on how to build an email list

2. build know, like and trust

Get your readers to know, like and trust you.

Have an about page showing who you are and how your blog can help them.

Encourage readers to email you for help. Help your readers and build relationship with the people in your list

Offer great value – write detailed blog posts that helps your readers solve a problem

3. show you are an expert

People are more likely to buy stuff from people they know are experts.

So for example, if your blog topic is on weight loss, show how you have helped people lose weight or how you yourself lost weight.

If you teach how to play a guitar, make videos of yourself playing and show off your skill.

4. start by selling a low cost product like a $19 ebook

Find a topic that will benefit your readers and sell an ebook on it for a low price of just $19.

Why? So you can sell more costlier products to those who buy the low cost product. If someone buys a product from you, there’s a good chance that they will buy more products from you.

This is another reason why you need to build your email list with Aweber because it will let you target specific people in your list. Like the people who just bought your product, or clicked on a link in your email, or those who haven’t opened your emails (yes, not everyone in your email list will read all emails you send them).

Aweber also lets you automatically send emails in a sequence (which you just need to write once) to each new email subscriber to your list.

How can you use this?

  • to build know, like and trust – to introduce yourself, let them know how you can help them, encourage them to email you for help and build a relationship with the people in your list
  • to promote your popular posts
  • to get people on your email list to follow you on Twitter and like your Facebook page
  • to promote products or services
  • for your email course

Build your email list with Aweber for just $1 the first month

5. now to really profit from your blog – sell expensive products

Many bloggers sell low cost products and lose the chance to really profit from their blog. Sell multiple expensive products to make more money from your blog. Obviously the products should be worth the price you charge.

How to make an ebook or PDF file?

You can write your ebook using Google docs and download it as PDF

File > Download as > PDF Document (.pdf)

How to choose a profitable topic for your product?

To get an idea what topics are profitable, go to Clickbank marketplace and check the products in your blog topic (you can find the categories on the left side). If they have a high gravity score, it means enough people are buying the products in that topic.

To find the gravity score, check the stats for each product. Gravity is shown as ‘Grav’.

Sort results by Gravity and find the topic of the products with a gravity score of 30 and above.

How to sell a product?

You can sell products using e-junkie.

 #4 Affiliate marketing

Making your own products is hard and takes time, instead you can promote others products and earn a commission for each sale. Promote SaaS to get a recurring commission every month as long as the customer you referred keeps paying.

You can find products to promote from ClickBank.

Go to ClickBank and check the left side for the categories and find your blog topic. Click on the category that matches your blogs topic and you will find popular products to promote. Promote these products to get up to 75% commission per sale.

Another way to find products to promote are from blogs in your topic. Find what products or services these blogs promote. Sometimes these blogs will have products of their own which you can promote for a commission.

You can find blogs in your topic from Alltop. Just visit Alltop and search for your blogs topic.

Amazon has a lot of products you can promote too for a commission. An advantage of Amazon is that you get a commission for each product the person you refer buys from Amazon (even if you did not promote them).

For example, you promote a digital camera on your digital photography blog and the reader clicks the link and buys not just that camera but also lenses, tripod, etc because Amazon recommends them based on the product.

Tip: Make sure to only promote products that are good and related to your blog. Your readers trust is important, do not lose it by promoting just any product.

#5 Membership site (recurring)

This is an attractive business model for bloggers and another one of my favorite ways to make money blogging. You can offer content on your membership site that cannot be found on your blog that require a recurring payment to access.

Lets say you charge $19 a month and get 100 members, that’s $1900 a month. The next month you could get another 100 members which makes it $3800 a month and so on.

If you continue promoting your membership site on your blog and email list, you should keep getting new members and the amount you earn each month from your membership site will keep increasing.

Note: people won’t keep paying forever, so keep promoting your membership site to get new members or find a way to keep the current members.

Tip: To make more money with Membership sites, offer the option to pay for 6 or 12 months with a discount. For example you could offer the option to pay for 12 months with a 20% discount and let them know how much they will save by going for the yearly plan instead of the monthly plan.

Membership software

WishList Member is a powerful, yet easy to use membership software that can turn any WordPress site into a full-blown membership site.

#6 Consulting

Get people to join your email list with a free or low cost product and offer them multiple expensive products and services to make more money from your blog. Since consulting is one on one, you can charge much higher for it.

Ways to make money blogging

Here’s the mindmap on how bloggers make money (by Darren Rowse)

Click to enlarge to full size.

ways to make money blogging

As you know now, there are many ways to make money blogging.

Tip: Don’t just do one of them, do more than one to make more money. For example you could sell your own products and at the same time promote others products and services for a commission as well. Also make sure that the products and services you promote are related to your blog and useful to your readers.

Build an email list

Want to promote your new blog post? You need an email list.

Want to make money blogging? You need an email list.

Don’t make the mistake of not capturing your blog visitors emails from the beginning of your blog because majority of the visitors who leave your blog never return.

Once you capture emails, you can reach your readers anytime you want. You can use this to promote your blog posts and products.

Give more importance in growing your email list than growing your Twitter followers or Facebook fans because Twitter or Facebook may disappear tomorrow but your email list won’t and you are more likely to get way more from your email list than from Twitter or Facebook whether it be clicks or sales.

aweber

I highly recommend Aweber to build your email lists. It blows away its competitors and is used and recommended by popular bloggers who make thousands of dollars every month thanks to it.

Did you know? Majority of visitors who leave your website will never return, so Aweber will be very helpful to capture some of them and bring them back each time you publish a new blog post or notify them of your product.

Don’t make the mistake of delaying building your email list because Aweber is not free. You will make way more than you pay for Aweber if you use it.

How will you make money with your email list?

After you build an email list you will be able to email the people in the list. You can use this to promote products and services related to your blog that will help your readers.

You can sell anything like an ebook, course or service. It can be either your products or you can sell others products for a commission.

Aweber is a good example of a service you can promote. You will get a recurring 30% commission for each person who becomes an Aweber customer after clicking your affiliate link.

What is an affiliate link? An affiliate link is a special URL that contains your ID or username and is used to track how many sales you made so that they can pay you.

Tip: First focus on providing value and building a relationship with the people in your email list. You can do this by writing useful and detailed blog posts and by helping them. Encourage people in your list to reply to your emails and ask questions. Promoting products after you build a relationship leads to more sales.

Place multiple Aweber forms on your blog to capture emails.

Good places are your blogs header, just after the blog post and sidebar. You may also collect emails using a popup and offer a free bonus (like an ebook or course) in exchange for the email.

Build an email list with Aweber, just $1 for the first month

Where to place Aweber forms on your blog to build your email list

1. Homepage

Majority of the people who visit your blog land on your blog posts (from search engines, links from other sites, social networks,etc). Those who visit your homepage are mostly regular readers. If they are regular readers, there’s a good chance that they will join your email list.

For examples of homepage email signup forms, see blogs like socialtriggers.com and backlinko.com

Featurebox

Featurebox as seen on socialtriggers.com

2. About page

If people like your blog enough to check your about page, there’s a good chance they will join your email list.

3. Top of sidebar

If your blog has a sidebar, place a signup form at the top (above the fold). To get more people to signup, you can offer a bonus with a dollar value like the example below

Email form in sidebar

Email form in sidebar as seen on quicksprout.com

4. Header

You can do this easily with Hellobar

hellobar

Hellobar as seen on problogger.net

5. At the end of your blog post

If someone reads till the end of your blog post, there’s a good chance they enjoyed your post and will join your email list to be notified of newer posts.

Email form at the end of post

Email form at the end of post as seen on backlinko.com

6. In between post

People visit your blog to read your post, so their focus will be mainly around that area of your blog. That is why an ad above or in between a post will get the most clicks than an ad placed on the sidebar or footer.

Similarly if you want to build your email list faster, place an email form there.

To get even more people join your email list, offer a bonus – a post specific bonus at the beginning and end of your popular posts.

Post specific bonus

Post specific bonus as seen on backlinko.com

Brian Dean from Backlinko wrote a detailed post explaining it – http://backlinko.com/increase-conversions

7. Menu bar

Your blogs menu probably gets a lot of clicks, so create a page asking to join email list and put it on the menu bar. Again to increase the number of people who signup, you can offer a bonus like an ebook or a free course on a topic that would help your readers.

email signup forms

email signup forms as seen on blog.videofruit.com

8. Popup

Popups with email signup forms do well in converting your blog visitors to email subscribers. You will find this used in a lot of blogs.

What makes this even better?

  • Offering a bonus like an ebook or course
  • making it post specific – popup specific to that post, meaning different bonuses for each post
  • displaying the popup when the visitor is about to leave your blog or after about a minute

How do you do all this? Using optinmonster.

Optinmonster lets you target specific pages and posts, and show the popup when the visitor is about to leave your blog.

Did you know? Majority of visitors who leave your website will never return, so optinmonster will be very helpful to capture some of them and bring them back each time you publish a new blog post or notify them of your product.

exit intent popup

exit intent popup that is specific to a post (using optinmonster) – as seen on backlinko.com

9. Email

Encourage readers to ask you questions via email and after helping them, ask them to join your email list. There is a good chance they will join your email list as you took the time to help them.

10. Sticky as user scrolls

You can make the email signup form on your sidebar sticky so that when the visitor scrolls, the signup form sticks. This is especially useful when you write long posts.

Sticky email form

Sticky email form as seen on baeldung.com

11. Lead Box

A LeadBox is a pop-up window that appears when your visitors click on a designated link, image, button or text. This can be done with LeadPages software which can also create mobile responsive landing pages.

Lead Box

Lead Box as seen on http://www.leadpages.net/products/

Tools that help you build an email list faster

  • optinmonster -  Best WordPress popup and lead generation plugin. Optinmonster lets you target specific posts (useful to offer different bonuses for each post) and capture email of visitors who are about to leave your blog.
  • popup domination - Email capture software
  • optinskin – Add gorgeous opt-in forms to your blog in seconds
  • hellobar - Hellobar can be used to collect emails from your header even as the visitor scrolls
  • leadpages – With leadpages, you can easily create mobile responsive landing pages that collect emails. Among its many features, it has a LeadBox feature which is a pop-up window that appears when your visitors click on a designated link, image, button or text to collect emails.

Getting started with WordPress

How to add a new post

Login to your WordPress blog as admin and go to Posts > Add New

How to add a new page

Pages > Add New

Difference between a post and page

Post  - where you write your article

Page – where you add about and contact pages

How to add images and videos to a post

While adding or updating a post or page, click the ‘Add Media’ button.

how to add media in wordpress

By default it shows all the media items like images, audio and video you added to your WordPress blog so far.

To add new media, click the ‘Upload Files’ tab and and drag and drop files from your computer to upload. You can also select files manually from your computer to upload by clicking the ‘Select Files’ button.

After uploading the media file, add the title, caption, alt text, description and alignment and click the ‘Insert into post’ button.

How to schedule a post to auto publish in the future

Scheduling posts is a useful feature of WordPress that I recommend you use.

When you are adding or updating a post, you will find ‘Publish immediately’ under the ‘Save Draft’ button.

Click the edit link next to it and it will let you set a date and time to auto publish on.

How to stick a post to the front page

By default when you publish a new post, it will push the older posts below and they will disappear from the front page when there are more than 10 posts there.

If there is a post you want your readers to see and read, you can make it stick to the front page even when many newer posts are published.

When you are adding or updating a post, you will find ‘Visibility: Public’ under the ‘Save Draft’ button.

Click the edit link next to it and tick ‘Stick this post to the front page’ and click the OK button.

How to use the read more tag

By default, WordPress displays entire blog posts on the front page. This is bad for SEO and will make your front page load slower.

When you are adding or updating a post, click the ‘Insert Read More tag’ button on the Toolbar after about two or three paragraphs.

insert read more tag in wordpress

Start Blogging

WordPress keyboard shortcuts

Its much more convenient to use the keyboard shortcuts of WordPress when writing than using the toolbar.

Here is a screenshot of the WordPress keyboard shortcuts you can find by clicking on the question mark in the toolbar when writing a post or page (its hidden by default, click the ‘Toolbar Toggle’ button to show it)

WordPress keyboard shortcuts

wordpress keyboard shortcuts

Distraction free writing

When writing a post in WordPress, you can remove whats not needed when writing like the menu (left side) and other options (right side) by using the ‘Distraction free writing’ feature of WordPress.

Distraction free writing + F11 (full screen) removes everything on your screen that’s not needed when writing and lets you focus on just writing. This helps me a lot and it should help you too.

The ‘Distraction free writing’ button can be found on the right hand side of the Toolbar, just right under the ‘Visual’ and ‘Text’ tabs.

What makes a good blog post?

Before you write a blog post, remember these -

simple words - write in a way that anyone can understand easily

get to the point - stop wasting your readers time. People don’t have patience, so get to the point.

make your posts conversational -  use the words “you” and “I” to make your posts conversational, like you are talking to the reader directly. Just you and him/her. This method combined with a useful/educational post will get the reader to like you.

detailed posts - consistently writing detailed and helpful articles on a topic will get the reader to trust you and see you as an expert on the topic. Writing detailed posts (more than 2000 words) also increases your blogs traffic both from search engines and social networks because both search engines and people like detailed posts. Detailed posts are more likely to be shared on social networks than shorter posts. Also make it easy to share with easy to find social share buttons (don’t add too many buttons, just Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are enough).

good headlines - create good headlines to get people to click and read your posts from search engines and social networks.

Tip: Use H1 tag for the title of the blog post because it helps with SEO (I will explain more on SEO later). You will have to edit your theme for this.

introduction -  add introduction to your blog post to hook your readers to read the post

short paragraphs and sentences - they are easier to read and understand

use bold - bold the important points

subheadings -  subheadings help people who skim your blog post to easily understand the important points. Use H2 or H3 tags for the subheadings.

lists - breaking a long paragraph to lists makes it easier to read

images - avoid making post boring (especially when long) by using images.  You can find a relevant one in Flickr. Screenshots are helpful  in a how-to post.

use stats – use stats in your blog posts when possible

use videos - these days the more media in your blog post, the better

use slideshows -  Use when possible

links - link to relevant posts (of your blog and other blogs) within each post .

Linking to your other posts of your blog helps readers discover your older posts.

It also makes the post more valuable for readers by linking (when relevant) to helpful blog posts by other bloggers

Linking and sending traffic to other blogs is also a good way to get discovered by other bloggers in your topic and to get them to start reading your blog. If they read your blog and you have built a good relationship with them, there’s a good chance they will link you back and even share your posts on social networks. Both of which helps to rank higher in search engines and get traffic.

Linking to your other posts also helps with SEO but don’t overuse keyword rich anchor texts (the text you link to).

conclusion - summarize your post with a conclusion, makes it easy for skimmers too.

ask questions - End your blog posts by asking questions to encourage the reader to comment. Make sure you answer them and keep the conversation going. Example – “Do you know of any other tips or tricks to add to this blogging guide?

Notes

1. ask people to share the blog post - if you want readers to share your post, just ask them at the end of your post (it will help to get more shares). But do it only for your best posts. You may also use a WordPress plugin that requires the reader to share the post before he/she can read the entire post.

2. quoting - when quoting what a blogger wrote on his or her blog post, only quote a small portion of the post. Instead of quoting the entire blog post or a large potion, link to the post.

Let the reader focus on the content

People who visit your blog are there to read. So make it easy for them with these tips:

don’t make the content area too wide - if the area containing your post is too wide, it makes the paragraphs longer and readers may lose interest in reading. You may want to reduce the width (like this blog).

easy to read font - don’t use fancy fonts that makes it hard to read

bigger font size - make it easy on the eye and for older people with bigger font size

lots of white space - its much easier to read when a page has lots of white space than a post with text all jammed together

remove unnecessary stuff -  think about everything on your theme. Is there anything you can remove that lets your readers focus on the post?

remove unnecessary stuff in the sidebars - helps to load pages faster and makes page look cleaner. It also helps readers to focus on the post. Some of the things you may want to remove are recent comments, badges, tag clouds, calendars, archive, ads, widgets, etc

remove unnecessary sidebars - do you really need multiple sidebars?

remove or minimize the amount of ads - I have tried them all in the past – ads above the fold, ads in between a post and in-text ads.

Above the fold – the portions of a webpage that are visible without scrolling

in-text advertising - In-text advertising is a form of contextual advertising where specific keywords within the text of a web-page are matched with advertising and/or related information units.

Above the fold ads pushes your content below and in-text ads and ads in between a post confuse readers.

Its fine if you want to make money from ads, but you may want to minimize the amount of ads (especially above the fold) to improve the user experience. In the short term you may make money, but in the long term you are probably pissing readers off with the ads.

A better way to make money blogging is by collecting visitors emails, providing value and building relationship with your readers and then promoting useful and relevant products and services that solve a problem for your readers.

Once you collect the emails, you can send them your latest blog posts too. By doing this you convert one time visitors to repeat visitors.

Another reason you need to minimize the amount of ads above the fold is because of the “Page Layout Algorithm” which penalizes sites with lots of ads and not much content above the fold.

make your blog load fast - As long as you consistently write useful quality content, have linked to other relevant posts on each of your posts and your pages load quickly, your blog visitors are likely to come back to read more and the chance of them subscribing increases.

Another reason to speed up your pages are both Google and Bing use page loading speed as a ranking factor.

make it easy to skim - many don’t read the entire blog post, so you need to make sure they can skim the post and note the important points. You can do this with lists, sub headers, bold (the important points), shorter sentences and paragraphs and a conclusion

Writing good headlines

Writing good headlines for your blog post is very important because its the first thing people see whether it be on search engines or social networks. Depending on your headline, people may or may not click through and visit your blog.

That is why you need to read these articles on writing better headlines -

 

 How to become a better writer

You become a better writer by writing and reading.

become a better writer

Graphic by Copyblogger

After you start a blog, join my free blogging course. Don’t miss it if you want to build a profitable blog.

It covers everything on starting a blog, promoting it and making money blogging.

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