Want to learn how to start a profitable blog in 2020?
Well, you’ve made it to exactly the right place!
In this guide, I am going to take you through the 8 essential steps that are involved with starting a money-making blog from scratch.
Because you probably have a million questions and are feeling lost on where to begin, I’ve done my best to keep this guide easy and straight-forward. Today, we’re going to go over things like finding your focus, writing helpful content and how to drive traffic to a brand new blog. Plus a lot more.
So, grab a big ol’ cup of coffee and get ready to take some notes. You are about to learn how to start a profitable blog with Siteground.
By the end of today, you’re going to have your very own slice of the internet.
Ready to get started?
8 Steps to Starting a Profitable Blog
- 1. Find a Profitable Niche
- 2. Choose a Name for Your Blog
- 3. Set Up & Install Your Blog
- 4. Design & Brand Your Blog
- 5. Write Blog Posts
- 6. Drive Traffic
- 7. Start an Email List
- 8. Make Money Blogging
1. Find a Profitable Niche
Most profitable blogs are about a particular topic or niche. So, before you start designing your site or coming up with a monetization strategy, make sure you spend time figuring out what you’re going to write about and who you’re going to be writing for.
When choosing a niche, ask yourself these three questions:
Are you passionate about this topic?
If you want to start a profitable blog, it’s important for you to be genuinely interested in the topics that you’re writing about. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling burnt out and stressed each time you go to write a new blog post.
Remember that blogging is supposed to be enjoyable! Choose to write about a topic that you’re passionate about.
Can you write helpful content about this topic?
On top of being passionate about your topic, you should also ensure that you can write high-quality posts about the topic.
I’m talking about blog posts that are at least 1,000 words apiece. Because if you want to start a profitable blog, you’ll need to provide valuable content to your readers.
According to Backlinko, the average length of the posts shown on the first page of Google is over 1,890 words! That’s a lot of writing! And it’s going to take some research and hard work on your behalf. Do your best to come up with a topic that’s easy to write about.
Does this topic get enough traffic?
Lastly, ensure that your topic gets enough traffic from search engines.
If your goal is to build a blog that eventually earns some money, I suggest writing about a topic that generates a decent amount of traffic. While it’s important to write about something specific, you don’t want to go too broad, or you’ll risk losing interest from readers.
To find high-traffic keywords and topic ideas, you can download the Keywords Everywhere browser extension. Each time you conduct a new Google search, the extension will show you how many searches that term gets per month.
Related Reading: How to Choose the Perfect Niche For Your Blog
2. Choose a Name for Your Blog
Start treating your blog as your new business. When it comes to deciding on a name for your blog, take your time and consider the small details!
You want the name of your blog to be memorable and easy to type. It should also reflect what you’re writing about and who you’re writing it for. It should give potential readers an idea of what your blog is all about before they even land on it! Here are a few tips for you to consider…
How to Choose the Best Domain Name
- Keep the name short and easy to remember. Longer names can result in confusion and ultimately, less traffic coming through to your blog.
- Use relative keywords. This will help potential readers know more about what you’re offering. If you write about budget fashion tips and your target audience is women in their twenties, you could include words like “savvy” or “millennial” in your blog name.
- Go with a .com domain extension. When you set up a domain name with Siteground, you’ll have the option to choose a custom domain extension. I recommend sticking with the classic “.com” as this is what most people will type in when trying to find your website.
Plan on offering services or products through your blog? You might want to consider using your first and last name as a blog/domain name. This is also perfect for bloggers who want to write about several different subjects. If you have a popular name that isn’t available as a domain, try some variations like “byfirstlast”, “hellofirstlast” and “itsfirstlast”.
Want to see if your blog name is available as a domain and on various social media channels? Head to namechk.com and enter the desired name in the top bar. Scroll down to see which domains and social media channels are available.
Related Reading: 7 Tips for Choosing a Blog Name
3. Set Up & Install Your Blog
By this point, you’ve found your focus and decided on a name for your blog! Go you!
Now, it’s time for you to actually set your blog up online. To do that, you’ll need to choose a blogging platform and purchase website hosting.
While it is possible to start a blog for free, it’s not ideal for anyone who wants to turn their blog into a business or make money blogging. When you use a free blogging platform, you don’t technically own your blog – or any of the content on it. I recommend going with a self-hosted WordPress blog.
You can learn more about the benefits of WordPress and the difference between a free & self-hosted blog by reading this helpful guide.
To make the process of setting up your blog on WordPress easy, I’m going to carefully walk you through each step.
How to Set Up Web Hosting with Siteground
The first step is to set up your blog hosting. I recommend using Siteground – it’s the company that I personally use to host all of my websites and it’s the one I recommend to all of my fellow website-owners.
In fact, Siteground is the #1 rated website hosting provider. And I think it all boils down to these three reasons:
- Speed. People do not like slow websites! If you want to ensure that people are reading your posts and actually staying on your blog, you need a website that loads fast. Siteground has some of the fastest speed loading times in the business!
- Safety. Due to its top security measures, Siteground is one of the official hosting company recommendations from WordPress. So, you can feel secure knowing that all of the blog content is safe from hackers or viruses.
- Customer Support. This is reason enough to choose Siteground over any other hosting provider. With 24/7 live chat support and virtually non-existent wait times, their customer support is like a dream! So, when something goes wrong with your website, you can rest assured knowing you’re in good hands.
Click “See Plans” on the Sitground homepage and follow these steps to set up your account…
1. Choose your ideal plan.
The Siteground StartUp Plan only costs $3.95 per month. It’s the ideal plan for anyone receiving under 10,000 visitors per month.
2. Register your domain name.
Enter your desired domain name into the box.
If it’s available, you can register it with Siteground for around $12 per year.
Already have a domain name? Plug that into the box instead.
Have a website on a different host or platform? Take advantage of Siteground’s free website transfers by clicking off the little box.
3. Enter your information.
This is where you will provide all of your contact and payment information.
You will also have the option of purchasing extra services like the SG Site Scanner. Of course, this part is optional.
How to Install WordPress with Siteground
The second part of the process involves installing WordPress onto your new blog.
To begin, log in to your Siteground account. If you don’t remember your username or password, check the confirmation email you received from Siteground after setting up your account.
When you log into your account for the first time, you should be prompted with the Website Setup Wizard. It looks a little something like this:
Click “Proceed” to start the WordPress installation.
Didn’t find the Setup Wizard after logging in? You can manually prompt the installation process by clicking on My Accounts in the menu bar > Go to cPanel > WordPress Tools > WordPress Installer > Install Now.
Continuing with the installation, you will be asked to enter a username and password. Then, you will need to choose a theme – we will talk more about that in a minute. Pick any theme, for now, you can easily change it later.
Once the account setup is complete, you will be shown a summary of all your information. Keep a record of this! You don’t want to forget your login information or admin URL.
When you arrive on your WordPress dashboard for the first time, you’ll have the option to launch your website. This will make your blog live, so don’t click the button until you’re ready!
How to Create a Custom Email with Siteground
When you’re starting a profitable blog, you want to keep things professional! That means getting a custom email address. Lucky for you, all Siteground hosting plans come with an unlimited number of free custom email addresses!
To create one, log in to the User Area, click on My Accounts > cPanel > Mail > Email Accounts.
Type in the email address you want and create a strong password. You also need to set the mailbox quota, which if you went with the StartUp plan, should be 2000MB per account.
When you’re finished, click “Create Accounts” and your new email address will ready for use.
You can access your mailbox through Mac Mail, Outlook or online through Webmail. To learn more about setting up the mailbox, check out Siteground’s helpful guide.
How to Set Up an SSL Certificate with Siteground
Having a secure website is extremely important. If you plan on eventually selling products or taking payments through your blog, it’s essential that you set up an SSL Certificate. To gain a better understanding of the importance behind SSL Certificates, watch this helpful video.
With Siteground, all websites are entitled to a free SSL certificate. To install it onto your blog, visit this tutorial and follow through with all of the instructions.
Admittedly, this part can be a little complicated. If you’re having trouble setting anything up, be sure to reach out to the Siteground support staff through online chat. They’re always available to help!
How to Get Started with WordPress
Log into your new WordPress account through your admin URL. It usually looks something like www.yourblog.com/wp-admin. You should end up on the WordPress dashboard which looks a little something like this:
Related Reading: Understanding the WordPress Dashboard
4. Design & Brand Your Blog
This step isn’t crucial, but I do believe it’s important to choose a theme for your blog and decide on a set of fonts and colours to use across your networks. All of these should complement your personal style and highlight the content on your blog. The goal is to keep things looking consistent!
How to Choose a Theme for Your Blog
Having a theme on your blog is going to make your website look more professional and help you structure your content. Unless you have previous coding knowledge, using a theme is pretty much a necessity!
There are thousands of options out there. It can be overwhelming to try and find the best one. So, I’m going to recommend one option for you: Blu Chic.
Blu Chic designs a variety of feminine yet functional WordPress themes. They are geared towards bloggers and are e-commerce ready in case you’d like to open a shop or sell services down the line.
When you purchase a Blu Chic theme, you get access to all of the customizations, set-up instructions with videos, quick support from Kathie & Andrew (the owners) and lifetime theme updates. There’s no coding experience required, but they will even set up the theme for you at an extra cost.
How to Create a Logo
Depending on your level of expertise, it’s totally possible to design a logo yourself for free. I highly suggest using Canva for this part. It’s a free online tool for designing custom graphics. You can even visit canva.com/templates and search for “Logos” to use some pre-made templates.
If you’re totally lost when it comes to graphic design, then you should hire a graphic designer.
This part doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg if you use a website like Fiverr, where graphic design services start at only $5. To find a designer, simply click on Graphics & Design in the top left corner and then click on Logo Design. From here, you can specify what type of style you want or sort through the available designers.
How to Choose the Best Fonts & Colours
Having a set of brand fonts and colours will help keep you consistent. It will make it easier for you to design social media graphics and it will help readers develop an association with your brand.
To find custom fonts that aren’t already stored on your computer, check out DaFont. You can download thousands of custom fonts for free and then upload them to Photoshop or Canva – if you’re using the premium version. Also, check out Font Pair for help with finding compatible fonts.
For help with choosing your brand colours, play around with tools like Paletton. Toggle the small “Add Complimentary” button and drag your mouse around the colour wheel to come up with a custom palette.
Try not to stress too much about the design of your blog. It’s important. But it’s not crucial to your success. Plus, there’s a very good chance that the theme, colours and fonts you use today won’t be the ones that you’re using on your blog a year from now.
As you continue to grow as a blogger, your style and brand will evolve. Just find something you like and go with it!
Related Reading: 5 Tips for Branding Your Blog Successfully
5. Write Blog Posts
Of course, writing content is the most important aspect of blogging.
Ensure your blog posts are easy to read and providing real value to your readers. If your blog posts aren’t informative or enjoyable, you won’t be able to attract the right audience.
So before you start writing content, come up with some blog post topic ideas. Write them down on a list and include any keyword, affiliate program and opt-in ideas too. That way, each time you sit down to write a new post, you’ll have some ideas ready to go!
I personally use a blog post planner spreadsheet that you can find in my free resource library. You can download the same one for free by signing up for email list.
Tips for High-Quality Content
- Create appealing headlines. According to Copyblogger, only 2 our 10 people will actually read your blog post. The rest only read your headline! Do your best to make it count.
- Keep things short. Ensure your content is easy to skim by using lots of short paragraphs, bullet points and headings. This also makes it more enjoyable for your audience to read.
- Link to other websites. Always cite your sources and include relevant links to other websites in your content. This helps establish you as a credible resource to search engines.
Content is the foundation of every successful blog. When you write high quality content, you will establish trust from readers. Which means they are more likely to share your blog posts, stick around and buy from you too!
Related Reading: How to Write Evergreen Content
6. Drive Traffic
There’s a saying that goes to make a million, you have to help a million.
The same goes for the blogging industry. If you want to make money blogging, then you need to offer your readers something of value first. Focus on writing quality posts and then work on driving traffic to your site.
Getting traffic to a brand new blog will require a bit of extra leg work. Start by getting involved with the blogging community.
How to Find a Blogging Community
- Join some Facebook groups for bloggers. You can start by joining my free group the Blog Nest.
- Leave meaningful comments on other blog posts in your niche.
- Always engage & help other bloggers by answering questions, participating in polls and showing up for live videos.
- Share content from other people more often than you share your own posts. This will build up your reputation.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other bloggers and offer to write a guest post for them!
Go through their blog and research their most popular posts. Pitch them a post idea that’s similar to one of their most popular posts because you already know that their audience will be interested. Be sure to include a couple of backlinks to your own blog in the post and share the post on your social networks once it’s published!
Also, try to write blog posts that are known for generating lots of traffic.
How to Create Irresistible Content
- Interviews. Reach out to more popular bloggers and offer to interview them. Befriend them, send them a list of questions to save their time and share some of their posts on social media too.
- Roundups. Write a roundup of the best blog posts on a particular subject, kind of like what Tiffany did with this Most Helpful Income Reports post. If you feature someone in the post, let them know about it. This will increase your chance of extra shares.
- Reviews. If you purchase a product or service, share your honest thoughts and write a review about it. Explain how it’s improved your life. Be sure to tag the company or influencer you purchased from on social media – they’ll love to hear your thoughts on their product as well.
Of course, be active on social media! If you’re creating brand new accounts, don’t overwhelm yourself – focus on just two platforms to start. One of them being Pinterest.
How to Use Social Media to Boost Blog Traffic
Of course, be active on social media! If you’re creating brand new accounts, don’t overwhelm yourself – focus on just two platforms to start. One of them being Pinterest.
A lot of people think that Pinterest is a place to find recipes and outfit ideas. But that’s not the case. Pinterest is a visual search engine that has the potential to bring a lot of traffic to your blog. I focused on developing a powerful Pinterest strategy and was able to double my page views in just one month!
Be sure to create Pinterest images for your blog posts. You can do that for free on Canva by choosing the Pinterest template. Use bright colours, include text overlay explaining what your post is all about and add your logo or blog name so that readers will know it came from you.
Here are a few other blog posts about social media that you should check out:
- How to Use Tailwind to Grow Your Traffic
- Boosting Twitter Engagement
- The Best Pinterest Group Boards for Bloggers
- How to Beat the Instagram Algorithm
Getting Started with SEO
Besides using a social media as a way to generate blog traffic, I believe it’s equally (if not more) important to learn the basics of search engine optimization. This is where little things can make a big difference!
After all, blog posts have a relatively short life span on social media. According to Moz, the average life of a tweet is a mere 18 minutes. So, if you want your blog posts to stick around for a long time, you need to make sure they’re ranking in search engines.
That’s where SEO comes into play.
Start by installing the Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress. It’s free and will enable you to easily edit your meta titles/descriptions, create your own sitemap and have crawlable categories and tags. If you have no idea what any of that means, don’t sweat it! Yoast does most of the hard work for you.
Here are a few other tips to take into consideration:
- Utilize headings in your blog posts. These tell search engines what your blog post is about.
- Research low-competition keywords and use them in your writing. Check out my guide on how to find keywords for blog posts.
- Use keywords in the URL for each blog post.
- Add relevant file names, titles and alt-text to the images used on your blog.
This is just scratching the surface of the SEO world. For more tips, read my Beginner SEO Tips for Bloggers guide.
Related Reading: 11 Sure-Fire Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
7. Start an Email List
You’ve created an awesome blog, written some helpful content and started driving traffic to your site. Now, you want to focus on capturing your leads!
In simple terms, that basically means that you want to start collecting more information from your readers. Their contact information. The easiest way to do that is by starting an email list.
I highly recommend using Mailerlite to start an email list. It’s free up to 1,000 subscribers and it’s very user friendly. You can even use Mailerlite to create landing pages and sign up forms for your blog too.
Then you can follow the instructions listed in this guide to learn how to set up your account and send your first email.
Creating an Opt-In for Your Email List
Starting an email list is easy. The tough part is getting people excited about actually signing up for your emails! Because while some of your readers will want to subscribe solely to get updates from you, others need a little enticement.
To help push them along, I recommend creating an email opt-in.
An email opt-in is essentially a freebie that people can download or use once they sign up for your email list. You can create one opt-in to promote across your blog or you can create several smaller opt-ins that are related to each blog post.
As an example, an opt-in that I could use for this blog post would be my free email course on building a profitable blog! Your opt-in doesn’t have to be a course. It could be a simple checklist, worksheet or valuable information that you’re not sharing anywhere else.
When someone signs up for your email list, you can automatically send them a welcome email with access to the freebie. It’s that simple!
Related Reading: What to Send to Your Email List
8. Make Money Blogging
At the risk of sounding too harsh, don’t even bother trying to make money with your blog if you haven’t completed the steps above. Because you’re not going to turn a profit without setting up a professional website, creating valuable content and attracting the right audience.
While there are a lot of different ways to make money blogging, I’m going to focus on the big four:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Creating Products & Services
- Sponsored Posts
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Using display ads is one of the easiest ways to make money blogging. It’s a straightforward process and doesn’t require much work from your end.
Depending on which ad network you use, you could get paid each time one of your readers views, clicks or makes a sale through the ad. The concept remains the same: the more eyes on the ad, the more money you can make.
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing means that you are advertising another company’s products or services in exchange for a commission. When one of your readers clicks through your link and purchases a product/service from said company, you get paid.
It’s straightforward and definitely one of the most popular ways to make money blogging. In fact, I make the majority of my blogging income through affiliate marketing. Take a look at some of my past income reports for more inspiration.
One of the best parts about affiliate marketing is that there are so many programs to join. So, whatever you’re writing about, you can rest assured knowing that there is an affiliate program for you to promote.
Here are some of the best affiliate networks & programs for bloggers:
To learn more about how to make money as an Amazon associate specifically, I highly recommend checking out this ebook from pro-blogger Laura Iancu.
And check out The Ultimate Affiliate Marketing Guide for Bloggers to learn more about how to make money promoting products.
Creating Products & Services
Chances are, you have seen plenty of bloggers selling their own products, courses and services. And for good reason.
It’s proven to be the most successful method monetizing a blog! That’s because you have total control over your own products. You can set the prices yourself and you don’t need to rely on anyone else in order to get paid.
Plus, rather than selling products on behalf of another company and sending your readers away from your own blog, you get to offer them something directly. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved!
Of course, you’ll need to build your audience before you can start offering your own products. So, refer to the traffic building steps we covered in step six.
Writing a sponsored post usually entails you partnering with a company/influencer and writing a blog post that promotes their products/services. It’s a great way to make money blogging and also get free products.
But before you agree to write a sponsored post for someone, it’s important to remember a few rules:
- Always write a disclosure letting your readers know that the post was sponsored and/or if you received something for free.
- Only partner with companies/influencers that you support and would actually buy from regardless of the sponsorship.
- Don’t only post sponsored content. Try to space out your sponsored posts as much as possible. Stay genuine to your readers.
Give my How to Land Your First Sponsored Post Opportunity guide a quick read. And be sure to sign up for this free influencer network to be notified of any upcoming opportunities. You will need a minimum of 2,500 social media followers to qualify.
Related Reading: Making Money Blogging at Home
Don’t think of this as the end. Think of it as just the beginning!
…okay that was a little cheesy.
My point is that even though you’ve covered all of the steps outlined in this guide, you are only scratching the surface of learning how to start your own profitable blog. It’s now your responsibility to continue growing your blog and building an audience.
It may not be easy. But it’s totally worth it.
If you haven’t already followed through with all of the steps in this post, make sure you bookmark it for later or sign up for my free email course, which goes through all of the steps at a much slower pace.
Be sure to leave a comment down below letting everyone know how far along you are in the blogging process. We can talk about our blog goals together!