How to Start a Successful and Profitable Blog!

(This page contains affiliate links – see disclosure policy here.)

If you’re seriously thinking about starting a profitable blog, then I am glad you’ve found this post. I want this post to become your new blogging bible!

I will assume that you want to start a blog to make money? If I am right, then this guide is for you. If you want to blog just for yourself and/or your friends/family, then you probably don’t need this guide!


Why Blogging?

First of all, let’s dispel a myth about blogging. Let’s be realistic. Let’s be honest with ourselves.

Blogging is not easy. Not really! Especially if you’re holding down a full time job as most people are when they start!

You’re going to need to adjust your schedule to fit in time to write, to understand how to set up and maintain a blog, to learn how to market your blog and even to learn some basic web and graphic design.

Like anything when it’s new – it sucks! There’s a very steep learning curve you’re going to climb and it will be hard! Even soul destroying at times!

You’ll find yourself glued to your computer, watching endless YouTube videos, listening to podcasts and browsing a million other blogs for inspiration!

You’re going to need understanding friends and family to see you through!

Most people don’t make any money from blogging for many months. That’s a fact you need to become accustomed to when you’re on this journey and not be disheartened when results don’t occur overnight!

You’ll read how some bloggers have made a few $1000 in their first month. They may well have, but don’t be shocked or demoralized if that doesn’t happen to you!

People learn at different rates – fact!

Your success will also be determined by how much time you can commit!

To be successful at this you need to be consistent and have that burning desire to continue when the chips are down.

The Positives

If you’re still reading – great! Let’s cover the positives.

First of all – let’s look at the possibilities. Let’s whet your palate!

It’s no secret – there are some bloggers out there who are crushing it:-

  • Ryan Robinson at RyRob.com – $50k+ a month
  • John Morrow at SmartBlogger – $100k+ a month
  • Michelle at Making Sense of Cents – $100k+ a month
  • Alex and Lauren at Create and Go/Avocadu – $100k+ a month
  • Tim Sykes at TimothySykes.com – $1m+ a month

Ok – they’re probably the exception to the rule and you may not get anywhere near their level…. But…. who cares if you don’t?

Just type into Pinterest “income reports” and it will bring up a whole host of blog posts showing you that tons of bloggers make a full time income from blogging. Even if they aren’t doing $50k a month, there’s plenty who are doing $3k – $10k a month!

That’s amazing when you think of all the other benefits of blogging such as:-

  • You are your own boss and can commit as much time as you like;
  • A lot of the money you’ll earn is often passive once you’ve done the initial hard work;
  • Blogging gives you the flexibility to do other things in your life and effectively enables you to choose your hours of works;
  • Overheads are generally fairly low compared to other businesses;
  • Blogging is good fun and you’ll meet awesome people!

Yes – blogging is not a get quick rich scheme or a fast way of making money like doing survey sites for instance, but its effort/risk to reward ratio blows everything else out of the water compared to most other ways of making cash online!


Choosing a Blogging Platform

Word Press vs Wix for blogging
WordPress vs Wix

I learned the hard way when it came to choosing the correct platform to blog on!

I chose unwisely and wasted probably a month of hard work on a website now confined to the internet bone yard!

I didn’t actually intend to start a blog when I first started writing. I knew nothing about blogging and just wanted a website to write about money and finance on and to share affiliate links hoping my website would eventually gain some traction!

I had never set up a blog before or even a website. I knew nothing about the various web hosting services or content management systems (CMS).

I set up a website using Wix! I feel slightly embarrassed telling you now but that was the first big mistake I made when setting up my blog!

Now, don’t get me wrong, Wix is fine if you just want a simple website. The problem is that it’s slow, not very customizable and looks like crap (at least my website did)!

I learnt quite quickly after watching various YouTube videos and reading posts similar to this, that WordPress was the CMS everyone was using for blogging!

Something like 60% of the world’s blogs are done on WordPress – say no more!

I switched to WordPress after some deliberation and I haven’t looked back!

I was quite apprehensive about changing as some people had said it was hard to get to grips with without any web development knowledge! I do agree it’s harder to learn than Wix but it’s really not that difficult and there are tons of tutorials out there if you need your hand holding through the process!

I have no web development experience whatsoever. I went to law school, so as far removed from web design as you can imagine.

Simply put, if I can do it, anyone can!

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

If you look into WordPress, you’ll notice that there are two websites – WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Confusing I know!

You want to go with WordPress.org and NOT! WordPress.com.

WordPress.com is basically an all in one solution for website/blog creation. With the free option, you cannot choose the name of your website, what plugins to install and you’re very limited with design options. And perhaps most importantly – you do not own your blog, which means they can delete your blog at any time should you violate their service terms!

WordPress.org is where you want to be! I It is an open source program for you to download from their website. It is fully customizable with various plugins and themes for you to use!

Most importantly – you will own whatever content you create!


Themes

If you choose WordPress, and I strongly recommend you do, you will then need to choose a theme to run!

WordPress themes are basically template website designs which define the way your blog will look and operate. WordPress has literally thousands of themes to choose from.

You will come across free and paid themes.

Free themes are OK for when you are getting started but the downside is that they are often less professional looking than paid themes. They also aren’t as regularly updated and come with less features compared to paid themes.

If you’re going for a free theme, I recommend having a look at the free themes on the WordPress.org website here to see what tickles your fancy!

However, if you are serious about committing to blogging, I would strongly recommend you look at paid themes too. Paid themes are faster, come with more features and are more future proof than their free counterparts.

Paid themes will give you a more professional look which is important when trying to present as an authoritative writer!

Making money from blogging is essentially done well by being a proficient digital marketer. To make money, you’ll be selling someone’s products (affiliates) and possibly your own products later down the line. First impressions count when selling anything so you need to bear this in mind when choosing whether to go for a less attractive and slower free theme, over a paid one!

If you do choose a paid theme, I would recommend Divi Theme.

Paid themes generally require more technical web development knowledge than free themes because they are more featureful and are geared towards the professional web designer!

Divi is an exception to this as it comes with a website building framework which means you’ll never need to go near a line of code to get your blog looking stunning!

It also comes with many template themes to choose from so you can get started straight away with plenty of options!

Divi is now the most popular WordPress theme out there, which says a lot! It scored an 85% rating when reviewed by WPCrafter, beating X theme (another popular paid theme) by 20%.

Here’s the verdict:-

Rating by WPCrafter

Web Hosting

If you choose WordPress.org as your platform, you’ll need somewhere to host your site.

Web hosting is basically where the files for your blog are held. Where your blog lives.

The WordPress.org CMS does not come with integrated web hosting like Wix and WordPress.com, so you will need to use a web hosting company to host your blog.

Sound complicated?

It isn’t. It’s very easy!

There are hundreds of web hosting companies out there to choose from. The key things you are looking for in a web hosting provider are a) speed and b) reliability. Cost will be another factor as web hosting comes with a wide range of payment options.

Web hosting is one of the few expenses you will have as a beginner blogger. The good news is that it’s fairly cheap and you can pay yearly to make it even cheaper.

My two preferred web hosting companies are BlueHost and SiteGround.

I am currently using BlueHost. I paid around $65.00 for the year to host Green in Black & White and have had no problems with them so far. No down time from what I’ve seen and my site runs reasonably fast and has a fair rating on the website speed tests I have conducted.

You can sign up to BlueHost here for as low as $3.95 per month:-

The alternative option I would recommend is SiteGround. They are faster than BlueHost and have a more dedicated team.

However, they are more expensive and their cheaper package is only designed to accommodate around 10,000 visitors per month.

SiteGround’s more expensive package is around $35 a month but it can manage 100,000 monthly visitors. By the time you have 100,000 monthly visitors to your blog, you may well want to consider a faster and more dedicated host anyway! Plus, you should be making enough money to afford it by that stage!

Check SiteGround out here:-

Web Hosting


Choosing Your Niche

If you want to make money from your blog, you need to forget about blogging about your passion or your favourite hobby!

Let’s be clear, a “money making” blog is different to a personal blog as it is not about you. It’s about your reader!

There has to be enough readers out there for you to build an audience around. It’s utterly pointless blogging about your collection of bespoke 1940’s furniture or the interesting insects that happen to live at the bottom of your garden!

Why?

a) there simply aren’t enough readers out there who care and b) what exactly are you supposed to market and sell to the people who do care about these topics?

My top tip to you is to choose a niche that’s already got a proven and profitable business model.

This will help you twofold.

Firstly, you won’t spend months writing content only to find out later that you’ve got no audience. Secondly, you can take inspiration from those in your field who are already crushing it! This is invaluable!

The simple fact is – everyone out there is copying each other. You will soon pick this up when you dig deeper into the world of blogging! Very little of what is written out there is original material!

The key is to stand out amongst the crowd. To go one further than your competitor. But even if you don’t, provided you put a good dose of effort in and get the basics right, chances are you will make money through blogging eventually!

Here’s a list of some the niches that are well established money makers:-

  • Personal finance and money making (like this blog);
  • Entrepreneurship;
  • Health and well being;
  • Fitness;
  • Travel;
  • Food;
  • Parenting;
  • Personal Development;
  • Yoga.

They perform well because there’s a big audience out there for these topics. Most people want to be richer and live more prosperous lives. Most people want to be healthy and in great shape. Everyone on the planet eats and most of us go on to be parents!

There are also many products associated with those niches that you can sell. The key to making money with your blog is to ensure you’re selling to people who are prepared to spend money to achieve their goals!

It’s a waste of time blogging about a topic like, say, geology or mental health – the people interested in those topics aren’t going to spend a penny!

When you’ve got an idea for your niche, I would recommend you look on Pinterest or Google to find the popular bloggers in that niche.

Look at what they post. Look at the products they are selling and affiliates they’re promoting. Take the free courses they give out. Read their income reports if they publish them! You will find everything you need to know by doing this!


Choosing Your Blog Name

So, you’ve chosen WordPress as your platform, BlueHost as your host and you’ve picked your preferred niche. You’ll now want to choose a suitable name for your blog!

Important?

Kind of…

Your blog name is less important than you might think though. The key to a profitable blog is to be a reliable and informative source of information for your reader.

The vast majority of your readers will usually come from either Google or Pinterest. These are both search engines. Until you’re established, your prospective reader usually won’t be looking for your name, but instead the information you provide.

If the information you provide assists your reader then that person probably isn’t going to care that much if your blog name is below par. They will be more impressed by the fact their queries have been answered!

Think about it – when you Google something, how often do you look at the name of the website over and above finding the answer to your query? Hardly ever!

It’s more important that your name is memorable, rather than witty or well thought out.

It should also roughly relate to the niche you’re in unless you’re using your own name. I went for Green in Black and White as green is a slang term for money and black and white pertains to the idea of providing straight forward tips and advice. Most importantly, those words are simple and easy to remember and they relate to my niche!

So go for something that is:-

  • Easy to remember;
  • Roughly in keeping with your niche;
  • In your target market’s native language;
  • Not too long.

You also want to check that your name isn’t already used by someone else. The last thing you want is some trademark or intellectual property lawyer on your case.

In that regard, I would strongly advise you check the availability of your proposed name before getting attached to it. If you’re signing up with BlueHost they provide a free domain (this is the web address and web name of your blog). You can check the availability of your proposed domain name here:-


Monetizing Your Blog

Monetizing is unlikely to be your number one priority after you’ve got your blog up and running. Surely you’ll want to get some content out there first?

Yes – probably.

But I think it’s important that you first consider the various methods of monetizing your blog as these will ultimately have a bearing on the posts you write!

These are the main ways to monetize your blog:-

  • Paid adverts;
  • Advertising affiliate products or services;
  • Selling courses you have made;
  • Selling e-books;
  • Sponsored posts where someone pays you to post about their product or services.

Affiliate Marketing

The method of monetization I recommend to begin with, is affiliate marketing.

The good thing about affiliate marketing as a newbie blogger, is you can get accepted to many affiliate programs or networks when your blog is in its infancy and without much of a following.

This means you can, subject to appropriate levels of traffic, start earning money immediately!

The other ways to monetize will usually come a bit later in your blogging journey when you have a more substantial audience. When you’ve cut your teeth! (For that reason, I am not going to cover those methods in this post).

Here’s a blog post I prepared earlier about some of the best affiliate programs you can use as a blogger. However, my post is more geared to those in my niche. If you’re in a different niche, you might want look at the following networks which provide thousands of affiliate products to promote, at least some of which will be a fit for your niche:-

  • Flex Offers – This has over 12,000 products to promote and is dead easy to join;
  • ShareASale – Again has thousands of products but can be a bit more difficult to join;
  • CJ Affiliate network – Has over 4000 brands’ products to promote.

I have put this section before the bit about writing blog posts for good reason!

If you want to make money through your blog from affiliate marketing, you’ll want to think about what products you can incorporate into your posts before you actually write them.

Now, I am not saying you need to incorporate affiliate products into every post, but you will notice from those making a reasonable income from their blogs, they strategically position either a direct link to a product in the post you’re reading, or they direct you to another post on their blog where an affiliate product is being promoted!

Affiliate marketing is a numbers game. The more people who see your affiliate links, the more sales you will generate.

There is little point writing 10 blogs post with only one that contains affiliate links as you won’t be exposing your reader to enough affiliate links to boost your chance of securing that precious sale!

You really need to think about how you can make the best of your affiliate links, whilst not being spammy and still providing relevant and useful content.

My top tip is to spy on what products successful people in your niche are promoting and how they do it.

You’ll notice that most of the products they mention in their posts are affiliate based!

You will soon see that blogging for money is just digital marketing with bells on, especially for those who are leveraging affiliate marketing, online course and e-books as methods of monetization.


Writing Blog Posts

I would recommend writing at least 5 articles before you launch your blog. If you don’t your blog is going to look like a barren desert to any visitor!

Ideas

Getting ideas about what to post about can take time and thought. You’ll want to plan out what you’re going to write about before you put pen to paper!

To get ideas for content you could use:-

  • BuzzSumo – This is an awesome tool for finding popular content. Just type in a few words related to your blog topic ideas and it will tell you what posts/articles are popular and generating traffic;
  • Google KeyWord Planner – Simply type in a topic you have thought of and keyword planner will provide a list of words related to that topic so you can niche down and generate more ideas;
  • Other bloggers – Take inspiration from other bloggers in your niche. There’s very little entirely original content on the internet – especially original content that will make you money. It’s matter of a) putting your own slant on things b) making your content better.

Making great posts

When you’ve found your topic(s), you’ll want to think about your actual content!

The key to writing a good blog post is to put yourself in the shoes of your reader. What are they looking to achieve by reading your post? What do they want to come away with having read your material?

This is particularly pertinent when it comes to using your blog to make money – especially with affiliate products, courses and e-books!

People spend money to help them achieve their goals. You need to ensure your material tells your reader why they need your product to do that.

Tell a story

When writing, you want to tell a story. People love stories! They find them engaging and take inspiration from them.

Your reader will be much more engaged if you tell a story and relay your experiences of how you’ve achieved or learnt something.

You can even use other people’s experiences and stories. You will see above I have included the earnings information of top bloggers. This is not by accident. I have included these to inspire you and to show you what is achievable from blogging.

Writing style

Try and keep your content conversational and paragraphs short. I try to aim for no more than four lines per paragraph in my main body of text!

Breaking up your paragraphs like this will make it easier for your reader to digest.

You see, people browsing the internet have a short attention span! If they see huge blocks of text, they are much more likely to bounce from your site, never to be seen again.

So keep things short and sweet. Short punchy sentences will be digested by your reader much easier than waves of black text!

Try to keep your writing conversational. Blogging is about having a dialogue with your reader. This is achieved much easier if you write as if you’re having a discussion rather than giving a lecture!

Use images in your posts

Our brains love visual stimuli. We learn quicker and can assimilate information easier when our brains are stimulated by imaging rather than just text.

So use photographs, illustrations, infographics and colours to break up your text!


Traffic

You could have the best content in the world. You could be the George Orwell or Shakespeare of the blogging fraternity…

The problem is, without traffic and an audience reading your material, you may as well be pissing in the wind!

One of the most frustrating parts of starting a blog is attracting readership!

This is particularly so if you’re looking to make money from your blog. Without traffic, you’ll have no one to sell to. Your adverts will remain unseen. Your products will sit there gathering internet dust!

So how can you get eyes on your content?

The two main sources of traffic are search engines and social media!

However, unless you’ve already got a substantial social media following, then just focus on search engine traffic for the time being.

The two main search engines for generating traffic are Google (obviously) and Pinterest (yes Pinterest is a search engine and not a social media platform!).

The problem with Google is that it takes time for its crawlers to properly index your site. Google likes to know that your site is legitimate, that it includes excellent content and that it is a reliable source of information.

Unfortunately, convincing Google of these things is a long drawn out process. It can take at least 6 months before your content starts to appear on the first few pages of Google.

The problem is – if you’re not on page 1, or at the most on page 2, you’re not going to generate much traffic from Google! My top tip is to forget about Google as a beginner blogger.

Most people haven’t got the patience to wait that long anyway and they don’t need to!

Instead of focusing on Google, put your efforts into Pinterest.

Pinterest is a search engine like Google but its algorithm is a lot less sophisticated than Google’s. That means you can get traffic without having to be an SEO wizard!

Still – Pinterest’s algorithm is no slouch. Traffic will not just fall into your lap without employing a strategy. So do these things on Pinterest:-

  • Set up numerous boards that are keyword focused and pin only relevant pins into those boards. Pin the pins of other bloggers in your niche but make sure those pins are of high quality, relevant and popular;
  • Enable rich pins – These allow you to give your pins a proper description into which you can place keywords so Pinterest’s algorithm can see what your pin is about with more accuracy;
  • Ensure you board names, pins descriptions, pin headlines and user profile include keywords about your blog posts. Leverage Google’s Keyword Planner and Pinterest’s search engine and keyword finder in its ads utility to assist you;
  • Make niche boards that are heavily keyword focused for niche topics;
  • Make at least 3 pins for each blog post. Pinterest loves new content, especially new pins;
  • Join small and keyword focused group boards to give your pins more coverage. Avoid big group boards that are filled with pins covering all and sundry;
  • Make attractive pins with large colourful backgrounds and text;
  • Make sure your pins have catchy headlines and calls to action where possible. Pins that tell people how you’ve achieved something do well on Pinterest as do pins listing the “top 10 ways to do xxx”;
  • Make sure your pins are vertical with a 2:3 dimension ratio. You want them to be of a good length and easily noticeable;
  • Pin manually when you can. Pinterest loves user engagement and you’ll be rewarded with more traffic if you pin consistently and regularly.

You need to ensure that your approach on Pinterest is SEO focused. I recommend watching YouTube videos by people like digital marketer, Neil Patel, to get a basic understanding of what SEO is and how it works.

If you employ good SEO strategies on Pinterest and apply those to your blog posts – an awesome thing will happen – your SEO work will pay off with Google as well and in time you’ll start to receive organic traffic from Google too!

I recommend you download the Yoast plugin for WordPress. Yoast is an amazing tool which shows you how you can make each post you write more SEO friendly, amongst many other useful features!


Conclusion

So there you have my guide to creating a blog!

There’s no doubt – blogging is tough!

But what I hope will give you the drive to pursue it, is the knowledge that it gets a lot easier once you’re up and running.

Yes, the initial hard work will be tedious, tiring, and I’ll be honest, quite difficult. But nothing worth having came without that initial hard slog, frustration and occasional mental breakdown!

So let’s close with an inspirational quote to put those doubts to bed:-

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

THOMAS A. EDISON

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mylifesucks786
3 months ago

I think I am gonna pin other posts for later on. Such a great article here. Keep up the good work.Although I have a question – In the beginning did you ever feel like giving up?, please share your experience. waiting for your feedback

Adam Zapple
2 months ago

Excellent Post! These blogs are a great source of help and also
inspiration. Thank you for the post.

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