How To Start A Money-Making Blog
There is so much information out there about how to start a successful blog.
Which is great. Because you can literally learn anything you need to know about blogging at any time – and usually for free.
But it always bothers me when I see posts about how to start a successful blog for free.
It bothers me because you can’t have one without the other.
Sorry, but there is no way to start a successful and profitable blog for free.
For cheap, though? Yes.
Starting a blog can definitely be done much cheaper than you’re probably thinking.
I’ll give you the rundown of the basics of what you’ll need to get your blog off the ground and set you up for success.
BUT! You can start a blog for super cheap.
Yes, a successful blog.
For relatively cheap, you’ll be able to:
- Design your dream website without having to pay a graphic designer or understand HTML coding
- Grow your email list through targeted opt-in’s and email marketing
- Increase pageviews with social sharing and Pinterest marketing
- Earn money from your online business
Remember, starting a profitable blog is an investment.
Ever heard the saying, “you gotta spend money to make money?”
That’s gonna apply here.
But, every penny will be worth the investment when you start seeing a return on money spent in a few short months!
All of the steps and products/services listed below are the exact ones that we pay for to run this blog.
And, in the last 10 months of blogging (as a side hustle) we’ve
- designed our website with 100% design control (without hiring a graphic designer),
- grew our email list to over 1,000 subscribers,
- increased our page views by 87%, and
- started earning cash for our product.
If you’re ready to do the same, stick around for the rundown of all the products and services we love!
AKA, your domain name.
The domain name of this website is www.whosayswhat.co.
I recommend researching each domain name that you are interested in to make sure that
a.) the name isn’t already taken and
b.) that a similar domain isn’t in use.
You don’t want to make your domain name too similar to another because they might get confused for one another.
You can use Name.com to search domain names and see if they’re already in use.
Once you’ve decided on a clean and memorable domain name, head on over to GoDaddy to register for as little as $5.99 per YEAR.
As I said, starting a profitable and successful blog for free is pretty difficult.
But for cheap…a breeze.
Because if you want to own your website, you need to pay for it.
Lucky for us, domain names are usually pretty cheap.
I purchased this domain for $5.99 per year.
I mean, not too shabby, eh?
COST: as low as $5.99/year
A website host is a service that keeps your website up and running – making it accessible to viewers and customers, so another necessity before you can start designing your website.
I know a lot of people in the blogging world recommend Bluehost for website hosting, but I simply don’t understand why.
Not only did we have a horrible experience with their customer service team, but our website was always crashing when hosted by Bluehost. They were also never prompt about fixing the techinical issues with our site.
(If you wanna know more about our poor experience with Bluehost, check out our post “5 Reasons You Need To Change Hosting Companies.”)
So, we made the switch to TMDHosting a few months into blogging and seriously, it was the best decision. Our website loads super quickly now and never crashes.
Now, if you’re looking to start your blog for as little money as possible, TMDHosting offers shared hosting for $2.95 per month when you sign up for three years of hosting.
However, I truly recommend spending a little more money and signing up for Cloud Hosting with TMDHosting.
Cloud hosting will always be faster and more reliable than shared hosting because you aren’t sharing your website space with tons of other people.
And it’s only $3 more per month.
So, let’s get that website up and running with TMDHosting so you can start designing and creating!
For some reason this was not heavily specified when I was doing research about starting a blog and it definitely caused me a bunch of confusion and aggravation.
WordPress.org is free to download and begin using. However, WordPress isn’t the easiet thing to set up.
When we first downloaded WordPress to begin designing our website, we were using Bluehost as a host.
Not only did they not install WordPress for us, they didn’t even guide us in installing WordPress on our own.
We finally had to hire a friend who was familiar with WordPress and HTML to install it for us because we simply could not figure it out.
Don’t make our mistake!
To prevent you from being frustrated, TMDHosting offers FREE WordPress installation when you purchase one of their hosting plans!
I highly recommend taking advantage of this offer because like I said, installing WordPress is not easy.
I mean, just because we wanna start a blog doesn’t mean we’re computer tech’s amiright?
So, save yourself some time and frustration and let TMDHosting do the work for you by installing WordPress for FREE.
COST: FREE with your previous purchase of a TMDHosting plan
How? With a WordPress Theme.
There are soooooo many WordPress themes to choose from, so I’ll save you the time and research.
The Divi Theme by Elegant Themes is the best.
This theme is literally the reason that I didn’t give up on creating this blog.
We discovered how hard designing a website is when we tried to designing ours with a free theme.
Because unless you have HTML coding knowledge, most themes are quite difficult to customize to your brand.
Which sucks because your brand is soooo important to stand apart from the crowd when starting a new blog.
So, how do you create a website of your dreams without knowing anything about HTML? With Divi.
Divi is a WordPress Theme by Elegant Themes that uses a drag and drop system, so there’s zero HTML coding involved
I mean you can find tons of free themes out there, but none with the customization abilities that Divi gives you without having to understand HTML.
And in this day in age, you don’t want your website to look exactly like somebody else’s because you both are using the same free theme.
Trust me, Divi is 100% worth the investment if you are serious about making a profit from your blog by standing out from the crowd with a kickass brand.
COST: $89/year OR $249 one time fee (recommended)
However, using too many plugins can slow down your website or cause an interference with your theme.
So, it’s best if you use as few plugins as possible and always use plugins that are updates regularly.
Here’s a list of the plugins I use and love (and how much they’ll cost you):
- Disqus Comment System – FREE: This is the comment system that I use on my blog. It is free, easy to use, and has a clean design. I highly recommend!
- Google Analytics for WordPress – FREE: This plugin will help you monitor your blogs growth through targeted analytics – which will help you know what’s working and what’s not.
- Lazy Load – FREE: A simple plugin that increases page speed by waiting to load images until after scrolling
- Monarch Social Sharing Plugin by Elegant Themes – FREE with the purchase of your Divi Theme (Elegant Themes Membership):
It lets you place social sharing buttons on all areas of your blog, whether at the beginning and end of posts, a sidebar, footer, or basically anywhere you want.
This plugin also makes it easy to place follow buttons on your blog so your readers can follow you on sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Updraft Plus – FREE: This free plugin backsup your website in case it gets hacked or crashes.
- WP Performance Score Booster – FREE: Simple plugin to increase website speed
- WP Smush – FREE: This plugin compresses images to optimize your website for speed
- WP Optimize – FREE: A tool that runs in the backround, automatically cleaning your WordPress so it can run “at maximum efficiency”
- Yoast SEO – FREE: If there is one plugin you download, let it be this one. Yoast makes optimizing your blog for search engines (SEO) super easy. Once installed, Yoast will guide you on every page and post to make it search engine optimized and readable to the average viewer.
Email lists are so important to the success of your business because it is something that you own in its entirety.
Your email list is 100% yours and is unique to you – nobody will ever have the exact same list of people.
Building an email list is crucial because if all else fails on your blog, i.e., you aren’t making money from affiliate links or page views, you still have your email list to market to and promote your ideas and products.
So, who should you use to grow your email list for income security? MailChimp.
I love MailChimp for a few reasons.
- It’s free up to 1,500 email subscribers
- It uses a drag and drop builder similar to Divi’s
- Their emails can be super simple or highly customizable
- Did I mention it’s free?
I know a lot of people recommend Convertkit but daaaanng $30/month for 0-1k subbies? That’s just a little pricey for me right now and MailChimp does a fantastic job for free.
Their free plan includes:
- Email automation
- Sign up forms
- Campaign templates and
- Free reports and data insights
Like I said, MailChimp has given us everything we need to easily create email campaigns and successfully market our blog — FOR FREE.
As I mentioned, Bloom has over 100 templates for opt-in forms that you can customize to your brand.
Bloom also easily connects with MailChimp so it is a complete breeze to have people automatically added to your email list once they sign up via an opt-in form on your website.
Start sending these subbies engaging email campaigns so you can build a community of followers who will love your content and your products!
We’ve covered the basics of how to set up your blog and website for success, but now how do you make money?
My first recommendation for turning your blog into a profitable business is with affiliate links.
Affiliate links are the easiest and quickest way to monetize your blog and what I recommend the majority of your posts be about in the beginning of blogging.
This is because affiliate links will monetize your blog and put earning money on autopilot and with much less work than creating and selling your own products.
So, sign up to become an affiliate with your favorite products and services to get the ball rolling on making some money.
I also recommend signing up for affiliate programs that are related to your niche. This way, you can promote the product easily in your relevant posts without having to force a sale.
Then, once you’ve got your affiliate marketing on autopilot, you can concentrate on creating your own products.
Here are a few of my favorite affiliate programs that you might be interested in signing up for:
COST: FREE TO JOIN
Now, it’s time to focus on why you really started a blog – because you’re super passionate about a certain topic.
It’s time to start creating content relevant to your niche! This content can be:
- Blog posts
- Physical products
Your blog should consist of free and paid content.
For example, you can write blog posts that offer a free content upgrade such as a workbook.
Then, your freebie leads to a sales funnel for a paid product or service.
Products and services are the second way you’ll be monetizing your blog and turning it into a profitable business.
You can offer products such as planners, merch, and ecourses and services such as financial counseling, life coaching, and graphic design.
This will turn your blog into a profitable business and let you quit that 9-5 for a life of financial independence.
So, you’ve set up your affiliates to bring in money on autopilot. And you’ve created kickass content – both free and paid.
Now, how’s anybody supposed to find your blog so you can start earning a living?
Well, you gotta market your stuff, of course!
By marketing yourself.
Primarily on Pinterest.
I focus the most on Pinterest marketing because it has been the most successful source of traffic for my blog.
And you can put your Pinterest marketing on autopilot, so thats another huge plus.
Oh, and Pinterest is free, so yay!
Pinterest is an awesome place to market your blog because it is a search engine that is comprised of millions of people searching for tons of different things.
This means that more likely than not, your blogs content will find an audience on Pinterest.
I use Pinterest in conjunction with Tailwind to automate pinning and generate traffic to my blog on autopilot.
If you want to learn how to set up your Pinterest and website to generate traffic with Tailwind, check out our post on How To Increase Blog Traffic By 64% In 30 Days.
Once you’re pinning automatically each day with Tailwind, your posts will be circulating on Pinterest and leading people back to your content.
Continue creating valuable content that you promote on Pinterest and the traffic and sales will come your way!
COST: FREE to sign up for Tailwind for one month (then $109.89/year *recommended) (or $15/month)
That way, you know which areas need improvement and which are popular with your audience.
I monitor the progress of my blog (my blog’s stats) in four different places, for four different reasons:
- Google Analytics to monitor website traffic
- Pinterest Analytics on Tailwind to monitor marketing strategies
- MailChimp to monitor email marketing strategies
- SendOwl to monitor revenue
By monitoring the progress of my blog on many different platforms, I can tweak things to improve the success of my blog.
I can also continue doing the things that are working, such as writing similar posts to ones that have received large numbers of shares and likes.
Don’t get too caught up on the statistics, though, because everybody’s progress and success is different.
So, like I said, you can’t start a money-making blog for free, but you can start one for pretty cheap.
Remember that this number includes a LIFETIME membership to Elegant Themes (which includes the Divi Theme and all their plugins) also pays for THREE YEARS of hosting for your blog.
The investment is worth it, trust me. Some big bloggers make over $100,000 PER MONTH.