Good news: You don’t need to be an influencer or have a huge social media audience to make great money writing blog posts.
“I am a firm believer that the riches are in the niches,” says Jannese Torres-Rodriguez, a Latina money expert and founder of Yo Quiero Dinero, a platform that connects Latinx and POC change makers. “It’s not about telling cool stories, it’s about the value you’re serving.”
Millions of blog posts are being published every day, according to real-time data from Internet Live Stats, a website that reports daily world wide web usage statistics. The sheer volume feels intimidating to many, but Torres-Rodriguez says this is a mindset block, and that it’s all about identifying the unique insights you have to share.
It’s easy to start a blog, but going the distance requires patience and dedication to grow and monetize.
“What most people go on blogs for is how-to information,” she says. Torres-Rodriguez made $144,210 in passive income in 2021 from her blog Delish D’Lights, which shares recipes from her Puerto Rican heritage.
If you want to know how to start a blog that makes you money, there are certain steps you’ll want to take first to set yourself up for success. We asked experts about starting a blog and becoming a successful blogger in 2022; here’s what they had to say.
How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps
Depending on your blog’s niche – and your overall goals – the exact steps you’ll need to take may vary. Generally speaking, five steps you’ll want to take to start a blog, in order, are:
- Select a niche.
- Choose a content management system.
- Purchase your domain name and blog hosting.
- Set up the necessary tools or WordPress plugins.
- Create engaging and helpful content.
No. 1: Select a Niche
What do you want to start blogging about? Do you have a passion for starting a blog on this topic? Once you’ve answered this question, dig a bit deeper to determine how your new blog posts in this niche can differ from what’s already out there.
“Millions of new blog posts are being published every day, so if you want to get any traffic to your blog, you need to find an underserved niche that is craving content,” says Alison Ver Halen, content strategist and founder of AV Writing Services, a content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) services company.
In addition to your blog post topics, also think about the audience you want to reach. Sometimes establishing your niche is more about specifying a certain audience than a certain topic.
“As a Latina in a space that is still predominantly white, I think it’s also important to lean into your identity if you are a person from a marginalized community,” says Torres-Rodriguez. “People are really hungry to connect with folks from their own communities who can also teach them about whatever topic it is that they want to learn.”
No. 2: Choose a Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is software that helps you create and publish content on the internet. WordPress and Ghost are examples of content management systems; they make it easy to have a blogging platform without requiring HTML or other coding knowledge. Note that in this article, when referring to WordPress, we’ll be referring to WordPress.org. There is also WordPress.com, which offers services to build your website within WordPress.org’s CMS.
The WordPress dashboard is an open-source platform that gives you freedom to control practically every aspect of your blog. WordPress is massively popular, powering 42.9% of all websites on the internet, according to data from W3Techs, a data collection company. However, it’s not a one-stop-shop sort of thing; for your WordPress blog to function, you’ll have to manually set up web hosting, pick a WordPress theme, and install WordPress plugins to make it more functional.
Look for a platform that offers a seamless experience for the end-user. While there are several to choose from, each has its own advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before deciding which is best.
No. 3: Purchase Your Domain Name and Blog Hosting
Your domain name refers to the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) of your website; this is what readers will type in to navigate to your blog, and should coincide with the name you select for your site. As an example, if you’re planning to use the blog name “Awesome Money Habits,” it would be ideal to choose a domain name like www.awesomemoneyhabits.com. Domain names can be purchased from sites like Bluehost, GoDaddy, HostGator, and NameCheap.
You’ll also need to set up a web hosting or blog hosting account for your site to be live. There are two options here: You can either set up hosting yourself or choose a website builder service that will do in-app web hosting for you. A website builder service like Weebly, Wix, or Squarespace will help you quickly launch a blog, and many offer a free domain name or free blog hosting perk when you sign up. You’ll have fewer options to tweak your site to your liking, but there are a variety of templates to choose from.
No. 4: Set Up Necessary Tools or WordPress Plugins
Before you begin publishing posts, you’ll also want your own blog to have reporting tools set up. These not only help your blog grow, but also help you better understand what is and isn’t working.
“Set up a Google Analytics account so you can track all the data from your blog,” says Eva Keller, co-founder of Discovering Hidden Gems, a food and travel blog. “Then set up email marketing [with a tool] like Constant Contact or ActiveCampaign, and make social media accounts on whichever platforms you plan to use, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok.”
Before you publish your first blog post, visit the Google Search Console to determine if your site is indexed. If it isn’t, your new blog can’t be found by search engines, so you’ll need to submit a sitemap for people to find your blog online.
No. 5: Create Engaging and Helpful Content
The most important step in how to start a blog successfully is to publish engaging, useful blog posts that keep readers coming back for more. Take some time to dive into the mind of your audience and jot down what topics you believe they’re most interested in. Each new blog post you publish should also have a call to action, especially if you’re wanting to monetize.
“Look at what you’re selling, and then back to your offers,” says Jacqueline Fisch, a business writing coach. “What does a potential client need to know or believe before they’ll book a consult with you or buy from you? Also make a list documenting all the questions people are always asking you. That way, you’ll never run out of ideas.”
How Do Bloggers Get Paid?
There are several ways to make money from starting a blog. Common moneymaking strategies include:
- Ad networks: Show display ads from Google AdSense on your web pages, then focus on getting as many eyeballs to your pages as possible.
- Affiliate links: Review products made and sold by others, then use affiliate links to get a cut of the transaction revenue with just a few clicks.
- Sponsored posts: Have a business or brand pay you to review their product or write guest blog posts on their blog.
- Services, programs, or products: Develop your own offers and sell them directly to your readers.
- Paid subscriptions: Give readers access to exclusive content for a monthly rate.
Keller suggests making a business plan first before deciding on a profitable blog strategy.
“You’ll need to decide what you’re blogging about, how you want to make money blogging, and where you want this business to go,” she says. “Generally, you’ll want to use a combination of these strategies. But choose just one as you’re starting out. As you master each aspect of blogging you can always add in more strategies.”
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog?
If you choose free blogging sites and forgo purchasing your own custom domain, you could start a blog with zero out-of-pocket-costs. Alternatively, you could purchase your own domain name and upgrade your hosting package to connect it to your blog site for a small fee.
If you choose to self-host through your own WordPress site, remember that you’ll need to purchase your custom domain name and service from a hosting company separately. Either way, it’s possible to launch your personal blog for well under $100.
“I scaled my food blog to six figures with a $60 theme that I installed myself,” says Torres-Rodriguez. “So this idea that we need to have a professionally designed website is not realistic and it’s not an investment that makes sense for most people.”
It’s easy to get overwhelmed as you start a blog; consider seeking out guidance along the way to lighten the load and stay focused. Keller notes that paying to learn the ropes and sharpen up your skills is a worthy investment.
“You can take courses about blogging, or about any specific topic within blogging, such as SEO, social media marketing, or how to sell your own products or courses,” notes Keller. “Even having a business coach or a virtual assistant can help move the needle enough to make your blogging business profitable quickly.”
Can I Blog on my Phone?
You can. Nearly every blogging platform has mobile functionality and allows you to create, edit, and publish articles directly on your mobile device. You can also use Google Docs to create and edit your articles, Canva to find and embed the perfect photos, and a social media management app like Buffer or HootSuite to schedule your posts while on the go.
If you’re not a big fan of writing, but still want to start a blog, Fisch suggests that you consider using a talk-to-text app like Otter.ai to verbalize and edit your ideas.
“You can also share live videos, and summarize the highlights into a blog,” she says. Strive to make your blogging journey as streamlined and straightforward as possible.
How Many Posts Should I Make?
To build a successful blog, you’ll need to consistently publish new content. There’s no concrete rule on the number of posts you should create per day, week or month. Instead, new bloggers should focus on creating a publishing schedule that’s practical and works for them.
“Make a loose plan for what you’ll write about for the next month and then the coming quarter,” adds Fisch. “I usually advise clients to plan a quarter at a time. An annual plan is often too constrictive. You can choose to veer away from your plan if you like, but having a plan to fall back on will help you stay on track.”
It’s important to remember that blogging is also a long game. Stay patient as you get things up and running.
“A lot of people give it a few weeks and then give up when they don’t see immediate results,” notes Ver Halen. “It takes about 2-3 months for Google to index and categorize your content, and it takes even longer to earn Google’s trust. So give it at least 6-12 months to see results from your blog.”
Blogging still makes money in 2022, and it will continue to do so for years to come. The key is to get started now and take action steps that will bring your next online moneymaking pursuit to life.