When we think of all the different ways to make money here in the US, blogging is rarely the first thing that comes to mind, but maybe it should be? Believe it or not, in today’s increasingly tech-driven business world, bloggers make money. And with almost 6 million blog posts shared across 600 million blogs every single day, more and more people are grabbing a slice of the action.
In recent years, starting a blog has become an increasingly popular side hustle – and even a full-time career – for many Americans. But why is blogging such a popular source of income? Can it really be sustainable? And what do you need to do to start a successful, money-making blog?
Recent research suggests small businesses that have blogs generate 126% more leads than those that don’t. Meanwhile, adspace and ads generate passive income for bloggers and businesses, and 61% of US consumers make purchases based on information gleaned from blog posts. But the good news is that blogging can not only be sustainable – it’s also super-easy to get started if you have the right guidance.
Whether you’re a newcomer who wants to set up a brand new blog, or an established writer or blogger looking for the right tips and tools to monetize your blog, look no further. Our step-by-step guide will help you drive traffic to your blog, get started making money through your blog and, ultimately, get paid.
How do Bloggers Make Money?
Put simply, bloggers earn money by:
- Offering great content and valuable information to their audience in their blog posts
- Attracting a loyal readership that keeps coming back for more
Get these two aspects of your blog content right and you can make some serious money blogging – but you’ll need to closely follow the steps outlined in this MintChip guide first.
On the surface, making money online via a blog sounds pretty straightforward, but there’s actually a lot to get your head around if you want to be successful in terms of making money from your blog. Behind the scenes, you’ll need to target the right audience in your ads and affiliate marketing, collaborate with the right people on your sponsored posts and sell physical products or other services that really get people excited. Let’s take a look at how all this works.
Ads and Ad Space
One of the top ways to start a blog and make money is to strategically utilize the adspace on your website. As a new starter, you’ll want to sign up for an ad network that places targeted ads on your page – as this is a sure-fire way of bringing in a bit of money per month.
Services like Google AdSense and Sovrn can be set up relatively easily with no monthly minimum – and will automatically place rotating ads on your blog that’ll change to suit the tastes of your reader. Depending on whether you opt for AdSense, Sovrn or an alternative like Mediavine, you’ll get paid either:
- Per Click
Which helps you earn money each time someone clicks on your ad space, or:
- Per Impression
Which is a way to make money each time someone sees your ad – i.e. they won’t need to click it for you to get paid.
Affiliate Marketing and Affiliate Links
Put simply, affiliate marketing just means promoting other companies’ products in your blog content and posts. To jump on the affiliate marketing bandwagon and make money online quickly and easily, you should reach out to relevant businesses that sell physical products or digital products that suit your niche. For example, if you run a travel blog, you could pair with a photography company or a business that makes travel backpacks.
With affiliate marketing, your affiliate (i.e. the business you choose to work with) will provide you with unique URLs, known as “affiliate links” to be placed into your content. Each time someone reading your blog clicks one of these, you’ll reel in a commission – which is usually paid as either:
- A fixed amount per lead or sale generated by the URL, or:
- A percentage of the sale price of your affiliate’s product
Many companies will actively promote an affiliate program on their website, making it easy to monetize your blog by simply signing up with appropriate partners. If you’re not sure where to look, another way to get started with affiliate marketing is to approach affiliate marketing networks like Impact and Awin, which can help you gain fast access to the right affiliate program to suit your blog. Amazon Associates is another trusted resource that can help you get connected with businesses in your sector super-fast.
Nine times out of ten, bloggers will actually be paid through an affiliate network, meaning that finding a direct affiliate program with an ideal company might see you wind up working with networks anyway. For beginner bloggers, it’s worth noting that affiliate network companies often pay out higher commissions on digital products than physical products. Plan carefully and this might help your new blog to grow and earn money just that little bit faster.
Sponsored posts are kind of like affiliate marketing on the sly. Rather than dropping affiliate links into your blog content and posts, sponsored content revolves around the idea of producing full features or articles about a specific product or brand. The idea is to create engaging advertorials to promote your affiliates’ products – but in the style and tone of one of your typical blog posts. Sponsored posts can take the form of:
- A general blog post
- YouTube videos
- Social media posts
- Photographs and Instagram stories
- Email newsletters
Good sponsored posts should use your unique voice to promote your sponsors in an authentic way that doesn’t sound overly salesy. Great content and adding value for your audience is always the endgame with blogging – so try not to lose sight of this.
As a newcomer, using sponsored networks or influencer networks like Pitchboard and Viral Nation can help you get connected with the right people. Establishing a relationship with one of these networks will see you paid commission regularly, per month, through them.
At first, most networks will want to see that your blog has been active and generating some decent traffic for at least six months. Once you’ve established a solid following for your blog, however, brands and influencers might begin approaching you directly – and commission rates per sponsorship will slowly become more negotiable.
A big part of blogging is thinking outside the box. Most people think of bloggers as writers who get paid for producing good quality content, attracting a lot of followers and making strategic use of affiliate programs. While this is all true, blogging is also about sales and products – and it’s entirely possible to make money by starting a blog and making and selling actual products at the same time.
Whether you’re a writer working on your next novel, a handicraft wizard hoping to sell some arts and crafts, or an educator interested in offering your followers teaching materials and courses, blogging and selling can go hand-in-hand. You can make money blogging and selling:
- Digital Products
Like downable guides, invitations, brochures, letters and online courses.
- Physical products
Like books, artwork, t-shirts and furniture.
- Wholesale products
Like cards, balloons, party invitations and decorations.
A great way to get started with online sales via your blog is to use WordPress blog plugins like WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads, which can help you sell digital products and physical products, respectively, via easy-to-integrate apps. If e-commerce is your endgame from day one, however, think about setting up your initial blog or website using a service like Shopify, which is more sales-focussed than other hosting platforms.
Not only is sales via blogging surprisingly easy to set-up, it also comes with the added bonus that you won’t need to involve a “middle-man” agency or affiliate platform that’ll eat up a portion of your profits. As long as the products you are creating and selling are 100% your own, you’ll only need to worry about credit card fees and shipping costs when calculating your overheads.
If you can use blogging to sell products, you can use it to sell services, too, right? Correct. The 21st century is the age of knowledge and information, which means there’s always an opportunity to capitalize on what you know, by offering your loyal audience help, assistance and advice at an additional cost.
Every good blogger should establish a voice of authority and expertise across their content. Whether your blog is about saving money, creating nail art or filmmaking, your audience are relying on your content to get important information that is valuable to them – and you can monetize this by offering exclusive access to paid services that take things the extra mile.
For example, you could offer a financial coaching or mentoring service, nail art tutorials and group “how to” sessions, or a filmmaking course that helps your readers really master cameras and special effects.
Just like selling products, offering services enables you – the blogger – to set your own rates, make a little extra money blogging and monetize your blog in a new and interesting way that really works.
How Long Does It Take to Start Making Money Blogging?
If you want to start a blog and make money blogging, it’s important to be patient. Yes, professional bloggers make money – and lots of it, too, if they take the right steps to continually fine-tune and adapt their blog over time. That said, beginner bloggers shouldn’t expect miracles overnight, as blogging is a long-term commitment that requires great content and strong levels of self-discipline and adaptability.
Here at Mint Chip, we’d advise someone who’s starting a new blog for the first time to think of being a blogger as a hobby to begin with. It’s important not to expect high returns in the first few months and focus more on making sure you get your blogging platform, affiliate marketing, advertising plans and social media networks set-up properly. This will help to ensure you are in a good position to make money from your blog consistently in the longer-term. After all, the last thing you want is to burn out too soon.
Being a successful blogger means committing to a strict time plan or schedule, and yours should look something like this:
- First Three Months
Treat this time as a set-up period. Choose a blogging platform or hosting provider like WordPress, then aim to drive traffic to your blog through great content, valuable insights and strategic social media posts. You might want to hire a writer or use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools to help your blog rank better on Google, too. In the early days, you’ll be able to experiment with what does and doesn’t work for your brand without sacrificing huge numbers of followers – so use this period wisely.
- The Six-Month Mark
Aim to build up a steady following by this point. Use tools like Pinterest and InstaGrow to promote your content and boost followers if needed, and start thinking about sponsored posts, affiliate marketing and other ways to start making money – like selling your own products. Now that you have an audience, you’ll be able to better gauge what your target market might want from you. However, there is still room to fail if you’re not careful, so keep up the good research and don’t get too spammy with those affiliate links.
- The Twelve-Month Mark
It’s estimated that the majority of bloggers quit within their first year due to unrealistic expectations, so if starting a blog gets you this far and you’re still making money, you’re definitely onto something! At this point you should be able to negotiate better commissions with affiliate program companies and sell products and other services to your audience with relative ease. It might even be time to start diversifying and branching out into new niches.
How Much Do You Need to Start a Blog?
It’s difficult to put a monetary value on the total amount you’ll need to start blogging – and, more importantly, to start making money blogging. Theoretically, starting a new WordPress blog is free, but you can probably expect to pay anywhere from $35 to $1,000 for initial start-up costs and expenses – which will include hosting, getting a domain name, and much more.
Let’s take a look at all the tools, investments and strategies you’ll need to think about from day one:
- Establishing Branding
Getting your brand on point is absolutely essential. Your blog will need its own look, feel, tone and vibe – and these will all need to be carefully crafted to get your target audience excited. Websites like Canva, Piktochart and Stencil can help you create logos, templates and much more for free. That said, you’ll need to use the paid versions of these apps to get the most out of their customization tools – with packages starting at around $9 per month.
- Developing Content
Unless you’re something of a wordsmith, you might also want to hire a copywriter for your content, or a proof-reader to check your work for errors. Use sites like Upwork and Fiverr to get in touch with freelancers on the cheap. Better yet, use grammar-checking tools like Grammarly for free to ensure your own work is waffle-free. Many bloggers will start out solo and hire external writers as they become more successful.
- Finding a Web Hosting Provider
Next up, you’ll need a web hosting provider – which could range anywhere from $0.99 per month to $999 per month depending on where you look. We’d recommend sites like Bluehost, Dreamhost and GoDaddy, which offer reasonable rates for small-scale websites and attractive discounts on longer-term plans.
- Getting Your Web Design Right
There are tons of low-budget web design tools out there you can use outside of hiring professional web developers on UpWork who might charge you by the hour. Check out Wix, SquareSpace and WordPress, which offer easy-to-use drag and drop tools and reusable templates for setting up your blog. Expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $500 per month depending on whether you need a basic WordPress blog or a comprehensive, large-scale website.
- Choosing the Right Domain Name
A blog with “WordPress” or “Wix” in the name is never going to look very professional, and owning your domain name outright is usually a pre-requisite if you want to make money from your blog. Your domain name is synonymous with your brand, so choose it very wisely. Sites like Namecheap, Hostinger and HostGator can help you secure a professional-sounding domain name from $1.37 per month – or maybe even less if you can find a discount code.
- Fine-Tuning Your SEO and Search Engine Marketing
If your blog doesn’t appear on the first page of Google results, it probably isn’t going to attract much traffic. Tried-and-tested SEO tools like Ahrefs, SurferSEO and SEMrush can help you tailor your blog posts to beat those Google algorithms and help would-be readers find you quickly on search engine sites. Expect to pay from $7 to $999 depending on what services you need – and ensure you take advantage of free trials in those early days.
- Supercharging Your Social Media
Social media is king in the modern age, but getting it right takes time. You can set up an account on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all the big names for free, but you might want to use analytics and scheduling tools like Hootsuite or SproutSocial to automate each blog post once your blog starts to grow and you begin making money blogging. The cheapest plans start at around $20.
Naturally, you can spend as little or as much as you like on getting started making money blogging. Some of the tools above might not seem necessary if you already have skills or expertise in web design, web hosting, social media or other fields. As a newcomer, we’d recommend trying to stick to pay-monthly tools for most of your blogging needs, and only resorting to hiring experts if really needed – especially if you’re setting up shop on a budget.
How to Start a Blog and Get Paid: The Step-by-Step Guide
So, we’ve looked at how bloggers make money, how long it usually takes and what kind of tools you need to be a successful blogger – but how do you actually get started? Mint Chip’s step-by-step blogging guide below runs through the basics for beginners.
Step 1 – Choose and Validate a Niche
For every beginner blogger, step 1 should always be to identify your blogging niche. This means choosing a category, topic or theme for your blog that:
- You are truly passionate about
- Has a wide potential readership
- Opens the doors to money-making opportunities
We say “identify a niche” because it’s important not to fall into the trap of writing a blog on a topic that’s too generalized, or one that sits in an overly saturated market. For example, a generic travel blog is likely to get lost among the thousands of other travel blogs out there, but a niche-specific blog about the world’s weirdest attractions, the best places to go paddle boarding, or the tastiest street food in Southeast Asia, for example, is likely to gain much more traction.
You can identify a viable niche by analyzing:
Is there a potential audience out there that would benefit from your content? If so, ask yourself how they could benefit and what sort of information and posts they might be looking for, or interested in. The better you know your niche, the more you’re likely to understand this – which is why it’s important to pick a topic you’re passionate about.
Fire up Ahrefs or try out sites like answerthepublic and Twitter to check out whether people are already talking about your topic and, if so, how much. This will help you to probe demand and get an idea of what sort of language you’ll need to use when it comes to SEO. With Ahrefs, you can display an image of the keyword search volume for competitor sites, which will help wonders when it comes to building your blog.
Equally important is to determine whether there is someone else out there already doing the same thing. And if so, could you do it better? Do extensive research on your competitors and ensure you check out their domain ratings using sites like SEMrush. This will help you to figure out how much of a chance you have at outranking them when you start to build your site. If their ranking is already sky high, it might be time to start looking at a different angle or niche. Ahrefs also comes in handy. You can use their software and tools to analyze your competitor bloggers and their domain authority.
As making money is your ultimate end goal, you’ll need to figure out what profit potential your niche offers to a new blogging platform like yours that’ll be competing against established names. Check out your competitors to see if they’re making full use of their adspace. Examine what kind of ads are being placed on their page, whether affiliate marketing seems to be in action and what the CPC per keywords looks like. Ahrefs and other tools can help you get a clearer picture of what your competitors are doing and how similar strategies might pay off for you.
As we’ve already mentioned, in this medium, choosing the right niche can be make or break for your blog. A few tried-and-tested topics we’d recommend probing for a new niche, include:
- Finance and Savings
Anything from stocks and shares to investments and banking affects virtually everyone in the US and is therefore always likely to find an audience. Just be sure to look for an untapped sub-niche.
- Raising Children
Again, childcare is universally relatable and there are tons of sub-categories to be explored here, from baby dietary recommendations to tips on how to prevent children from misbehaving.
- Food, Food, Food
We all love food, and the niche food blog possibilities are truly endless. If you’re a killer chef or you’ve been hoarding a bunch of secret recipes for several years, now is the time to share your wisdom.
- Arts and Crafts
With the right affiliate program or sponsorship deal, arts and crafts can quite literally propel you to international fame in the blogging world. If your entire craft focuses on just one item, even better.
- Travel and Adventure
Everyone loves a good travel blog, so if you’re a keen explorer, or a digital nomad living in exciting cities all around the globe from month-to-month, now is the time to monetize your lifestyle. Bonus points for niche or adventure travelers.
All of the above are good starting points when looking for your niche. That said, there are a number of other topics we wouldn’t recommend to newcomers, mainly on grounds of mass competition, increased set-up complications and an all-round heavier workload. Examples of blog niches to avoid, include:
Which is oversaturated and could take some serious time for you to establish yourself among competitors.
- Overly Outlandish Topics
It’s good to go niche, but never good to go too niche. Don’t alienate your potential readership by choosing an overly outlandish or too specific topic. Think “Travelling Around South America” and not “Travelling Around South America with a Pet Monkey”, for example.
Any content about gambling or other ways people can “win money big” tends to set off alarm bells in readers’ heads. If it sounds like spam, there’s a strong chance people will avoid reading it.
This is another example of an oversaturated market that’s exploded in recent years alongside the lifestyle blogging boom. Unless you have a lot of knowledge in a specific tech niche with an untapped audience, stray away from being just another tech blogger.
With so many trusted news sites and sources out there already, this is another difficult one. By becoming a news blogger, you’re always running the risk that people might think you’re jumping on the “fake news” bandwagon or are serving up biased content or clickbait. You might even get ignored altogether.
Step 2 – Conduct Competitor Research
We can’t stress enough the importance of doing your research when you get started with blogging. Understanding your competitors, what they’re doing and how it works, is pivotal to making the right decisions and avoiding common newbie mistakes. You should:
- Research Other Popular Blogs in Your Chosen Niche
This means identifying all of your competitors and taking ample notes on what they’re doing well (and not so well).
- Determine What They’re Writing About
We’re not just talking about content here – you need to check for keywords, affiliate links, sponsored posts and all the usual marketing suspects, too.
- Pinpoint How They Present Themselves Visually
Take note of what their blogs actually look like, what kind of image their branding portrays and how it achieves this. Then, play with Canva and ask yourself how your blog could do better.
- Figure Out What Ads, Product Types, and Offers They Have
You should analyze what kind of advertising they’re involved in, what they are selling on the side and whether they’re offering any additional services or features to make money and enhance readers’ experiences. Again, think about how you could take all of this further.
- Look for Guest and Sponsored Posts
Are they collaborating with any other companies, influencers or celebrities? What kind of sponsored posts – if any – have they uploaded? And how could yours be different or more exciting?
- Try to Spot Affiliate Marketing
Does it look like they’re using an affiliate program? If so, which one? Think carefully about how affiliate marketing could work for you in similar (or, better yet, superior) ways.
- How Often Do They Post?
Timing is everything when it comes to blogging, so you should take note of the kind of times your competitors are sharing their blog posts and other materials – and use this as a rough guide of when your target market tends to be online. Also consider what’s actually in the content and what other bloggers are offering to their readers, information-wise.
Remember, your blog has to be better than your competitors, both in terms of content and in regard to SEO. This is absolutely vital if you want to gain a competitive advantage, so use all of the tools at your disposal to conduct a thorough assessment of each of your competitors.
Step 3 – Create a Strong Brand Identity
Building and maintaining a strong brand identity is as important to blogging as the content itself. If you want to see some real revenue in the longer-term, you’ll need to invest some time and energy into developing a brand that really resonates with your readers. Here are Mint Chip’s top tips on website brand proposition:
- Define How You Want to Be Perceived
Who are you? How do you want people to perceive you? Scrutinizing the answers to questions like these will help you put yourself in the reader’s shoes and ensure you are portraying the right image.
- Determine Your Value
What puts you in a position of authority to advise your readers on your chosen blog niche? What do you offer that others can’t? Think about your knowledge, experience and what you have to share with your audience. Remember: your content must add value for people if you want to make any real impact.
- Establish Some Promises
Ensuring that your content is always relevant, up-to-date and useful will help to draw in repeat readers for the long-term. You should pledge to keep your blog in tip-top condition at all times, in terms of both content and site design. Nobody wants to read a glitchy blog.
- Nurture an Emotional Connection
In order to really connect with your audience, you need to get under their skin emotionally. Make sure everything you write is tailored to suit your audience’s values and mindset – and be careful not to break the bond by speaking out of character, or “off-brand”.
As we mentioned previously, easy-to-use graphic design tools like Canva, Piktochart and Stencil are good places to start playing around with your brand identity and brainstorming the look and feel of your website and imagery. So, spend some time crafting a solid brand for your blog before you get started. The earlier you get this right, the better.
Step 4 – Buy Your Domain Name
Having full ownership of your domain and all rights reserved by you is absolutely essential when you start blogging – especially if you want to make money online. Here are five Mint Chip top tips on how to choose the right domain name to suit you:
- Choose a Name That Can Be Used Universally
If you want to come across as a pro, pick a domain name that can be used across your website, email, social media handles and more for ultimate consistency. You can check what’s available by going to Instagram, YouTube and more, and trying to create an account with your desired name. You’ll be alerted immediately if it’s unavailable.
- Include Your Top Keywords Where Possible
If you can secure a domain name that features an exact match to one or more of your keywords, this can be a big bonus as far as searchability and appearing on Google results pages are concerned. That said, you don’t want your domain to be too long – so try to strike the right balance between keywords and brevity.
- Only Opt for Relevant Names
Your domain name should reflect who you are and what you do, so make sure it’s 100% relevant. If you’re a food blogger specializing in spaghetti recipes, you want to make sure you have “food” or “spaghetti” in your domain.
- Avoid Using Hyphens
Let’s face it – hyphens are old hat. They look messy in your domain and have a weird old-fashioned vibe about them. Try to stick to something short, relevant and easy to remember.
- Don’t Forget Country Codes and Regions
If you’re a Canadian or UK-based business, having “.ca” or “.uk” in your domain will help your readers recognize where you are. Country and regional codes establish trust and could make people feel more comfortable about ordering items from you for delivery, too.
Above all else, your domain name should be short, sharp and easy to remember. You can purchase a domain name from any trusted provider like Namecheap, Hostinger and HostGator – but be sure to look out for discount codes and promotions that could save you a bit of extra money.
Step 5 – Set Up Web Hosting
Choosing a trusted hosting provider is another big part of getting set up as a new blogger. WordPress is the most popular blogging site among American bloggers but creating a WordPress blog might not be so straightforward if you’re completely new to the game, so it’s important to compare multiple options.
You should go for a content management system that’s easy to use and maintain – as you’re going to be running your blog for a long time. That said, you’ll need to think about what kind of server you’ll need, too – especially if you’re planning on expanding and building a larger site long-term. You should consider:
Web hosting can cost you anywhere from $7.99 to $59 per month depending on which features and levels of service you need. Always buy within budget.
Recent research suggests that the US e-commerce market coughs up more than $500 billion each year over slow-loading websites. Make sure you pick a provider that offers optimum performance
While one hosting provider might impose a 100GB or even a 30GB limit, another might be willing to offer you an unmetered business package for the same price. Always compare and contrast.
Think about whether or not you might need to upgrade your package or grow your site within the coming years. Maybe one day you’ll be offering much more than just a blog? Larger sites need more storage, better servers and greater performance.
This refers to the speed at which interactions can be processed on your site. If you plan on going full e-commerce once your blog gets off to a good start, having solid bandwidth is essential.
Website uptime refers to how much time your website or blog is actually active and available to visitors. Look for a hosting provider that offers a 100% uptime guarantee – or save money by opting for one that offers 98 – 99% at a cheaper price.
Safety should always be of paramount importance with any new tech endeavor, and blogging is no different. American small business sites are hacked tens of times a day, so this isn’t an area you want to neglect. Opt for a secure hosting provider that offers plenty of security perks.
- Customer support
Most modern hosting companies offer 24/7 customer support, but some are known to be much more hands-on than others. Do your research, read reviews on TrustPilot and pick a highly-rated host.
Step 6 – Invest in SEO Early
If you want to be successful and make money blogging, you’ll need to make sure your blog posts and web pages are SEO-friendly from day one. This means crafting high-quality, SEO-optimized content that cuts through the noise on Google and other search engine sites.
Making money from your blog is incredibly dependent on this, so hire a copywriter or content marketing expert to work on your copy if you’re worried about getting this right. Here’s some top tips on how to develop great content for your blog and make a real impact:
- Use the Right SEO Tools to Craft Quality Content
By now you should know how this works. Ahrefs and SEMrush both offer free seven-day trials to help you pinpoint the right keywords, analyze your competitors and get off to a good start. If you’re on a budget, Google Planners are available for free, but might lack the high-tech features of KWFinder or the usability of Keyword Everywhere.
- Fine-Tune your Keyword Intent
Your keyword intent should be predominantly commercial and geared towards attracting new site visitors and driving traffic to your blog. Don’t lose sight of this and make sure your keywords are in tip-top condition if you want to create a blog and make money.
- Go Mobile-Friendly
Your website should function as well on an iPhone or Android device as it does on a desktop – especially as 3.8 billion people globally are using smartphones these days. Make sure you have an SEO-friendly site that’s easy-to-use across all devices.
- Think About UX and UI
User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design are basically just tech terms for ensuring your site operates effectively, efficiently and offers a hassle-free customer journey. On top of SEO, you need to think about how your blog functions from a reader’s perspective and how easy or difficult it is for people to access what they need.
- Optimize Your Web Pages with Appropriate Apps
Apps and plugins like Yoast SEO are easy to integrate with your WordPress blog and offer a variety of great features to help you optimize your web pages in real-time. Rank Math and SEO Press can help you to build traffic for your blogs in quick and easy ways – and at an affordable price.
Another great tip is to go local. Getting into local SEO will help you to gain higher search engine rankings in your local niche market and garner more visitors from potential new readers in your area or field. These days, more than half of people looking for something online will enter local or regional search terms into Google first – so getting this right is a good way to establish a trusted audience in your area. Local SEO is especially important for those of you who want to sell physical items via your blog.
Step 7 – Start Analytics Tracking
Keeping tabs on who visits your site, which blog post is getting the most hits and interactions, and which web pages are most popular with your audience is a great way to gauge success. But there’s much more to it than that – valuable insights gleaned from analytics can help you to plan out future marketing activities, determine where sponsored posts or links will and won’t work, and get to know who your site visitors are and what they’re looking for.
Tools like Google Analytics, Ahrefs, SEMrush and Crazy Egg are all great for keeping track of your website traffic and helping you tweak and optimize your content for the better. You should use data acquired from these services to:
- Track where traffic is coming from
- Get to know your readers’ tastes and preferences
- Gauge the success of future content marketing activities
- Use insights to better optimize your blog
- Try to identify new markets and readerships
- Analyze trends and make predictions
Step 8 – Design your Website with the Reader in Mind
By now you should be fully aware that blogging is all about the reader and giving your audience what they need (with a view to making money in the longer-term). You should think carefully about what you can do to your website to make it more appealing and attractive to your target market. Be sure to consider:
- Web Page Layout
Do you want your site to be simple, with no-nonsense content spread across two or three pages? Or do you need a big site map with individual pages for each of your physical and online products?
- Themes and Colours
Think about what colors and imagery best represent your brand. Have a play on WordPress and check out their WordPress blog themes, but also dabble with graphic design tools like Canva to determine a consistent color palette for your blog.
- Font Size and Typeface
If your blog is targeting the over-65s with retirement planning advice, it probably isn’t wise to go for tiny font size. Think carefully about what kind of font works for your audience and try to find a balance between this and what best represents your brand.
Again, we can’t stress the importance of responsiveness, web design and starting blogging using a blogging platform that functions properly on all kinds of devices – including smartphones and tablets.
This links in pretty closely with font size, but also refers to the actual content itself. Avoid verbose language and outdated idioms if you’re targeting teenagers or young adults. Likewise, avoid using trendy slang terms if these aren’t going to click with an older audience.
- Image Quality
This is a common area where bloggers go wrong. Make sure to use high-resolution photos that don’t look blurry when viewed on a big screen, and try to upload personalized, genuine photos rather than using stock photos that everyone’s seen before. Most blogs will attract tech-savvy readers, so a bad stock image will stand out like a sore thumb!
Step 9 – Fine-Tune your Content
Blogging is about writing – and producing great content is precisely how bloggers make money. While affiliate marketing, SEO and choosing the right domain name are all important, creating posts that have a real impact and generate repeat readers should always be your number one priority.
The content you create will educate your readers, communicate your message and ultimately keep them coming back for more. This is why getting it right can make or break your blog. Make sure you publish blog posts and updates regularly and consistently, to avoid losing momentum. You should also try to diversify the types of posts you write to avoid coming across as repetitive or boring to your readers. Types of popular content include:
- List Posts
These articles tend to offer a guide to a given topic, then serve up information in a listicle or bullet-point format, with an explanation for each point. Examples include “Top 10 Cake Recipes” and “Top 5 Ways to Save Money”.
- Question Posts
Question posts can either ask a question and encourage your followers to answer it, or answer a question by sharing detailed information on how it can be resolved. An example of the former could be a quiz in an Instagram Story, while an example of the latter could be an extended blog post titled “How Can I Find the Most Comfortable Baby Clothes?”. Remember to always say “thanks for sharing” when reaching out to your followers and receiving replies.
- How-to Articles
These are very similar to the answering-a-question blog post. Generally speaking, a how-to article will offer a complete guide on how your readers can accomplish something or resolve a particular issue, such as “How to do Zombie Make-Up for Halloween” or “How to Retire Early with Comfortable Savings”.
- Product Reviews
There’s a lot to be said for a good, old-fashioned product review. Once your blog has built up a loyal following, people will begin trusting your recommendations – opening up fabulous opportunities for sponsored posts and review pieces containing affiliate links.
- Round-Up Pieces
A round-up blog post tends to focus on a summary or list of several different things pertaining to one specific topic. These are similar to list posts but tend to point readers toward external resources and links. Examples include “Top 10 Film Review Websites” and “Best Bars in Chicago”. Naturally, round-ups are perfect for affiliate content.
Step 10 – Explore Email Marketing
Email marketing is another sensible step to take on your blogging journey if you want to attract more readers and maximize the monetization of your blog.
Once you’ve gained a bunch of followers, you can keep them engaged by sending out a monthly or weekly email newsletter to their email address – which, in turn, can promote your wider services and affiliate links. Emailers also give you an opportunity to connect with your individual customers on a more personal level – i.e. you can encourage readers to write in and send fan mail.
You can get started with email marketing by:
- Getting Email Address Info from Readers
- Building a Subscriber List
- Choosing an Email Marketing Platform that Integrates with WordPress
- Sharing Taster and Teaser Content
- Adding Affiliate Links to Your Mailers
The hardest part is for sure finding the right email marketing service that will properly and efficiently integrate with your blogging platform. MailChimp, Hunter and Keap are all good options that offer great features at affordable package prices. They can help you pinpoint email address details and target the right people quickly and easily.
How do I Make Money from Blogging?
So, we’ve ran through pretty much all you need to know about getting started as a first-time blogger. But how do you actually make money? Let’s quickly review and recap some key points on how to start a blog and get paid:
Ads are the quickest way to make money as a newbie, but they won’t necessarily give you the highest returns unless you reel in plenty of clicks. You can make money online by placing ads in your headers, sidebars and footers – as well as through affiliate marketing. These will function as either pay per click or pay per impression, just as we discussed earlier.
- Affiliate Programs
This is simply the process of being able to earn money for marketing another person or company’s services on your blog. It’s popular because it’s simple, flexible and low-risk for you as a blogger. To make money fast, we’d recommend using affiliate programs or an affiliate network for those higher returns.
- Sponsored Posts
Sponsored content is simply premium content on your blog that advertises or promotes a sponsored partner. By using sponsored posts, you can make money through affiliate links and establish relationships with trusted brands that are a good fit for your blogging niche. Connect with sponsored networks like Pitchboard and Viral Nation at first, then negotiate better rates as your blog becomes more well known.
- Selling Products
Whether you want to sell digital products like online courses and e-books, tie readers into subscriptions or offer physical products that can be delivered straight to your customers’ doors, selling things is a great way to make money. Just be sure to offer tailored and/or appropriate things – like baby food from a parenting blog, or ski equipment from a winter sports blog.
- Offering Services
Just as selling products can help you to earn money while blogging, so can offering services to your readers. Online coaching and consulting, for example, can be extremely profitable and help to cement your reputation as a true expert in your field. This strategy only works once you’re properly established but can be an excellent way to supercharge your brand.
How to Start a Blog and Get Paid
Making money by becoming a blogger seems like a long-winded and difficult process at first, but it’s more than worth it. After all, what could be more fulfilling than successfully being able to make money online just by writing about something you love?
Not only can blogging be super rewarding, but it can genuinely work as a long-term, full-time job, too. If you want to be successful, you’ll need to take great care in establishing your brand, web hosting, web design, domain names and SEO. You’ll also need to choose a credible niche that can really be monetized and do enough research to ensure your blog gets a proper foothold in the market – which means using all the tools available, and not just WordPress.
We’re not going to lie – blogging is difficult. But get your brand identity, domain names, affiliate programs, hosting, SEO, social media, WordPress and email marketing in check, and there’s a very strong chance you’ll start making money within your first year – and set yourself up with a viable, successful career for the rest of your days.