I am beyond excited for you! Why? Because you’re interested in how to start a profitable blog! That means you’re passionate and determined to create a blog that will grow and prosper! This is such an exciting time for you and I am going to show you exactly how to succeed.
Below you’ll find step-by-step directions on how to start a profitable blog. We’ll cover the basics from creating a blog name and email, moving on to setting up your website and picking a theme, then we’ll get into the dirty details of ads, networks, and sponsored posts!
Think of a Name & Niche.
This should be the number one thing you do before you move on to anything else. This is your foundation that will support your blog through its entirety. Take some time on this first step, don’t rush it.
What’s a niche?
A niche is your theme or topic. Examples of niches are traveling, cooking, or beauty. Sometimes it’s good to have a very specific niche and other times it’s good to have more of a broad theme. I typically classify my blog as a College & Lifestyle blog. I usually post about college-related topics, but sometimes (like this post) I’ll share helpful tips — or anything really. That’s why I also include the lifestyle bit.
See If Your Domain (URL) Is Available.
Once you’ve thought of a name or theme, you’ll want to make sure that the domain (URL) is available. Head over to SiteGround’s website to check your desired URL. If the domain is available it will direct you to a new page (you can ignore this for now). If it’s not available, it will show some other options or recommendations for you. I HIGHLY recommend you get a URL with the extension .com, this will help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes.
We’ll talk more about SiteGround in a few sections, but for now – they’re the company that is going to be hosting your website (they have extremely reliable servers and their customer service is extraordinary!)
Create a Gmail Account Specifically for Blogging.
To help keep you organized, create a stand-alone Gmail account for your blog. This will also be helpful for when you set up Google Analytics, Search Console, and Adsense. I would recommend your address being… YourBlogName@Gmail.com.
Create a Google Form/Survey.
Survey your friends & family, any potential readers. Ask if they’d be interested in the niche you’ve decided on. Give specific examples of posts you’d write and if they’d want to read it. Review the survey results to see if you’re headed in the right direction. If not, consider switching it up. This can also be a great way to find inspiration on what to write about.
Create a WordPress.Org Blog.
This is the first step in actually creating your blog! WordPress is a great platform to use for your website, but first you’ll need to understand the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
What’s the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a free site where you can create a free blog. The downside to this is that you cannot monetize (aka make money) on your blog. In addition to this, because all of your files and data are being saved on WordPress servers you no longer have the rights to anything you post.
WordPress.org allows you to use the WordPress admin panel to write content and customize your website. But, all of your data and files will need to be hosted on different servers (this is what they call self-hosting). There are many different hosting sites you can choose from. Below I’ll walk you through how to set up self-hosting with my favorite company!
Sign Up for Self-Hosting With SiteGround.
SiteGround is one of the best self-hosting platforms you can pick from. In the past, I’ve tried others, but they always let me down and had issues. They also have some amazing customer service and support!
Pick from one of their three plans. If you’re just starting out, then I would suggest the StartUp package.
Make sure to pick a wordpress hosting plan! You’ll see this option in the top navigation bar under ‘WordPress Services’.
Next, you’ll get to create your domain (your URL)! This is free when you sign up with SiteGround hosting. (You should have already checked this in a previous step!)
After you’ve selected your domain you can choose how long you’d like the hosting period to last. (The longer you pick the bigger discount you’ll get.)
After this, you’ll be able to work with SiteGround hosting one-on-one to set up your website through WordPress! If you ever get stuck or don’t understand something you can either reach out to me or the Siteground customer service team (recommended). They’re great at explaining every little detail and making sure you’ve got everything setup correctly.
After purchasing your hosting package, you’ll need to request to have WordPress installed. Look for this option on your SiteGround homepage after you’ve signed in. When setting up WordPress for your site you will be asked to create login information. Make sure this is a high-security password as this is the login to modify and control your website.
Once you get the okay that WordPress is installed on your site, you’ll be able to login to your Admin Dashboard. You can get to your dashboard using the following URL… YOURDOMAIN.com/wp-admin Once logged in, you’ll be able to start editing and customizing your site!
Purchase a Theme.
I recommend pipdig. Their support is awesome and all of their themes are HIGHLY customizable. They’re reasonably priced and as I said, highly customizable. This is where my theme is from!
Have a Logo, Favicon, and Signature Designed.
Hop on over to my Etsy shop, Designs by Hayle, and see how I can help you create some amazing designs for your new blog! Also consider having a profile picture, category labels, and watermark graphics created.
Create Social Accounts for Your Blog.
After you’ve created your website and established your branding, it’s time to create social accounts! Below you’ll find a list of social media accounts that you should consider creating for your blog. Buffer is a great tool for scheduling posts in advance! I also love using BoardBooster to schedule Pins on Pinterest – it’s amazing.
Download & Install Plugins.
Plugins are little add-ons that you can install on your WordPress site through the admin dashboard. There are a few important ones that you should install. Otherwise, take some time to explore them all. There is almost a plugin for everything so if you’re ever looking for something specific, just google search it.
- Yoast SEO – Boost your SEO
- Google Analytics by MonsterInsights – Helps you add Google Analytics to your site! (see next section)
- Jetpack – A ton of stuff! A lot of my sidebar widgets are from Jetpack
- W3 Total Cache – Optimize your website speed
- Disqus – Make leaving comments on posts super easy
- Editorial Calendar – Self-explanatory 🙂
To install the plugin you’ll need to first download the .zip file and then head to the ‘Plugins’ section on your WordPress admin dashboard. Here you’ll click ‘add new’ then find the .zip file you just downloaded. In some cases, after the plugin has been installed, you’ll also need to activate it.
Set up Google Analytics & Search Console.
You’ll want to have Google Analytics & Search Console set up on your website so that you can see your traffic, demographics of your readers, and how you’re doing on Google Search. Here is a great Google Analytics Guide that will show you how to set up your account and how to read your data. Laura from The Badass Business Mum has another tutorial that will walk you through both Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Create a MailChimp or ConvertKit Account.
If you plan on creating a paid product or selling a service you’ll want to start growing your mailing list ASAP. A great way to do this is to offer a free item… in return, the reader gives you their email address.
Track Your Income & Expenses.
With your Google account, you now have access to Google Drive. This will be a life saver! You can draft blog posts, create surveys (like mentioned above), and you can create spreadsheets! I highly suggest you create a spreadsheet to track all of your income and all of your expenses. This will make tax time 10 times easier!
Open A Savings Account Specifically for Blogging.
If you really start raking in the money, a great way to keep your ‘blog money’ separate is to open another savings account. Simply link any direct deposits to this account and ONLY use it for blog related things.
Create A Paypal Account.
After you’ve created your savings account, sign up for PayPal. This is one of the many ways that some networks will pay you. Make sure to your blog savings account to your PayPal account.
Sign Up for Google Adsense.
Up until now, I haven’t really shared how you can make money. This is the first step! Google Adsense is easy and a great way to start. Although, this can be a slow process until you start to gain a lot of traffic. Here is a great article that shows you how to add google adsense to your website.
Write Really Good Content And Share It.
This is probably the number one most important step. Just write tons and tons of content. You can’t expect to create a profitable blog without putting in a little effort. The key here is to write content that others will want to read and learn from. Without readers, your blog won’t be profitable. You will also want to make sure to share your content all over social media. Not only will you get others to see it, but then they’ll want to share it too. Make sure to download the Grammarly extension if you use Google Chrome. It saves your butt when it comes to spelling and grammatical errors.
Join Affiliate Programs.
Another great way to earn money is through affiliate programs. You’ll earn a commission from either clicks or purchases that others make by using your links. You’ll notice that I’ve used a few already in this post! Here are some affiliate programs that I highly recommend you join.
Joining a network can help you get sponsored posts. This is where the majority of my blog income comes from. I usually do 1-3 sponsored posts each month, depending on how many I apply for and how many I’m accepted for. Below is a list of networks/groups that I’m currently part of.
Connect With Brands via Email.
The last and final step on how to start a profitable blog is by collaborating with brands. This is the same as creating sponsored posts, but instead working through a network, you’re working straight with the brand. I’ve only done this a couple of times and I’m honestly terrible at reaching out to find new collaborations. If you put in the time and effort of reaching out and pitching ideas you can find some great companies to collaborate with!
Consider These Purchases.
When starting a blog it’s good to have the necessary gear for taking & editing photos, here are a few of my recommendations.
I hope you didn’t find this post too overwhelming, I know it was long. There is so much to learn and so much to do when you first start a blog. But, if you hustle and put you’re mind to it, you’ll accomplish so much more than you thought you could! Is there something I didn’t cover or a specific question you have? Ask me in the comments!