Starting a blog that makes money is a tough thing to do. There's a lot that goes into it...
You got to find a niche, pick a name, get your site online, write a lot of content, and learn how to monetize your traffic.
In this guide, we'll walk you through all these steps so you can start a blog and make money in 2023.
Let's get started.
What is Blogging and How Does it Work?
The definition of blogging is writing articles or other forms of content and self-publishing them on a blog.
Blogging started out as a way for people to publish diary-like articles on the web. Today, it's evolved into a strategy for businesses and entrepreneurs to build their brands and grow an audience.
How does blogging work in 2023, you ask?
The basics of blogging look something like this:
Obviously, there's a lot that goes into each step—we'll dive deep into each of them in a minute.
The latest blogging statistics show that there are more than 600 million blogs on the internet today. Standing out is going to tough.
Can you build a successful blog for free, you ask?
If you intend on blogging on a budget, the bare minimum in terms of blogging expenses looks something like this:
The Path to Blogging Success Explained
Building a profitable blogging business is tough. Successful blogging isn't a get rich scheme. You cannot con your way to sustainable income.
If you can come to grips with a set of major points, achieving financial independence through your blogging efforts will not just be a pipe dream. There are many bloggers out there that earn a ton of money online.
You can, too!
But it requires the right approach and some patience.
1. There Are Multiple Approaches to Success
The main idea behind building a successful blog looks like this:
If you want to drive lots of traffic from Google search you will have to learn SEO—search engine optimization. The basics of SEO aren't hard to learn. You'll get the hang of them rather quickly.
To be very successful with SEO, you must focus on the right approach. Fortunately for you, there are two you can choose from:
Both approaches require a bit of each one's ingredients. Both are about the same in terms of effort and difficulty.
2. This Requires Time and Effort
When I started my first blogging project I was under the impression that I'd be making thousands of dollars within a couple of months. I specifically remember writing a dozen or so articles and wasting time looking at my analytics waiting for the money to roll in. I spent so many hour looking through Google search results hoping my site would show up on the first page.
If you want to this seriously, you will have to understand that success will take a lot of time and even more effort.
You can't write a dozen articles and hope and pray Google notices you. You will have to make them notice. Which requires a lot of content and a lot of patience.
How to Start a Blog and Make Money
Step #1: Find Your Blog Niche
While every step in this guide is crucial to your blogging success, picking a great niche is at the top.
Finding a profitable niche is obviously important. But if isn't the right fit for you, building a blog that makes money is nearly impossible.
Let's say you choose a niche that is known for the high-ticket items. Tech and electronics, for instance. If you aren't tech-savvy, this niche is probably not for you. If you prefer a pager over a smartphone, this might be a tough niche for you to compete in.
If you don't have a lot of knowledge on the topics you're going to be writing and blogging about, the quality of your content will be low.
Can't I just research my topics, you ask?
This brings us to my next point...
If you don't have the passion or interest in the niche, you will more than likely FAIL.
Passion and interest will keep you motivated. Motivation will keep you growing your blog.
Without it, the drive you feel right now to build a successful blog will fizzle out in a few months and you'll be left with nothing.
So, how do you choose the perfect niche?
1. Make a list of all your passions and interests
The first thing to do is to open up a spreadsheet and write down all your passions, interests. and hobbies.
When you have a level of interest in the niche you'll be blogging about, you'll find it much easier to work on your site and write articles.
After you've created your list you should have something that looks like this:
If you're having trouble thinking of your interests, I'd suggest browsing through Amazon's departments and categories. That will surely get your brain going.
The next thing I want you to do is to determine whether your niche idea is "YMYL".
YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life. It's a concept created by Google that was introduced in the Search Quality Evaluation Guidelines. It's designed to keep Google's users away from spammy websites.
If you want to do well in a YMYL niche, you will have to put in a ton of work. Many experts consider the most important factor is to demonstrate another concept called EAT.
This is probably all overwhelming for you. That's why I wouldn't recommend picking a niche that's considered YMYL.
Examples of YMYL niches include:
So what now?
Go through your list and add a column that shows whether your idea is YMYL or not.
You may have trouble with a couple. With me, for example, I had a tough time determining whether fitness was YMYL. While it totally is "Your Life," I was thinking that you don't necessarily need master degrees to show your expertise. But I can 100% see why most would say it's YMYL.
When you're done going through your list, another thing to consider is topic vs. product (TvP).
What is topic vs. product, you ask?
TvP is where you're determining whether a niche is topic-focused or product-focused.
A product-focused niche would be ideal for affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is when you earn commissions for selling other people's products or services.
Effective affiliate marketing would include product reviews and comparison posts from a blogging standpoint.
Google, however, is going to make that difficult. They have something referred to as the Product Review Update (PRU). The most recent update was in December 2021.
The PRU makes to tough for random blogs to rank for product reviews and comparisons.
Why? Google doesn't want to reward blogs that use other people's hard working product research. The PRU update is designed to reward bloggers that actually get their hands on the product.
That's why it'll be tough for new bloggers to compete in a product-focused niche.
If you can't afford to purchase the products you want to promote, I wouldn't recommend jumping into the product-focused approach.
You will have a better chance at succeeding if you focused on the informational approach. This is when you focus on topics that don't require reviews and comparisons.
The informational approach will also create more opportunities for content creation. More content = more traffic. More traffic = more ad revenue (which we'll get into later).
The other thing I want you to do is to determine your ideas' evergreen-ness.
If you want long-term success, your niche idea will need be relevant in 5-10 years.
Here's an example:
If you're like me and you love gaming, your list will include video games and your console of choice.
Will video games be a thing in 10 years? Most definitely. There will probably be a giant virtual reality community.
PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S, however, will likely be obsolete in 2032. The video game console market typically comes out with new generation consoles every 5 years. So we'll be at PlayStation 7 by then.
When you've gone through your list of niche ideas and determined the YMYL, TvP, and evergreen factors, your spreadsheet should look something like this:
Now you will have to find out if people are actually interested in your niche idea.
The first thing is to check how your topic is trending. You can do this by plugging in your niche keyword into Google Trends.
If the interest level isn't under 50 for months on end, I'd say your idea is trending pretty good.
The next thing to do is to search the web for existing communities in your niche. You can do this by searching social networks like Facebook Groups and subreddits.
If you're seeing groups with thousands of members, your idea is likely a great one.
You can also search for online forums to see how active they are.
The last thing to do is to get an idea of the Google search volume. This probably sounds like a scary marketing term to you, but in a few days search volume will likely be all you think about. The more search volume a keyword has, the more potential traffic you get drive from Google search.
To find the average monthly searches your niche keyword receives, you can use Google's free Keyword Planner tool. It's free with a Google account (everybody has one by now) and fairly easy to use.
If you're seeing keywords with thousands of average monthly searches, that means there's a ton of potential there.
Once you've researched your niche's audience potential, go through your list again and make note of your findings.
When your done, you'll have a spreadsheet that looks something like this:
To help you ween out your list and move you a step closer to choosing your niche, let's find which ideas your most interested in.
I'd suggest grading them with a 1-3 system—1 being lowest and 3 the highest. This should make your decision for a niche more easier.
When you're done you'll have a list like this:
Now that you've setup a proper niche idea spreadsheet, let's move forward.
2. Ask yourself the important questions
You have a list of niches. Which one should you choose?
I am sure they are all viable. I am sure you've marked a couple of them with high interest. But which one should you choose?
To aid you in your crucial decision, here are some very important questions to ask yourself:
Step #2: Pick Your Blog Name
Choosing a name for your blog is of great importance. But it doesn't have to be a difficult task. You can come up with great blog name ideas with just a few tips.
The first tip is to help you avoid any legal issues. That is to avoid trademarks and brand names.
For example, if you chose a gaming niche, you should probably avoid using "Xbox" in your name. Otherwise, you may receive a "cease and desist" letter from Microsoft telling you to stop using one of their most important brand names.
If this happened, you would have to go through the hassle of changing your name. Which only takes a couple of days or so, but that would be precious time not spent on important tasks like creating content.
The second tip is to go for a brandable name. Choosing a brand-focus name is not only great for being memorable, but it also gives you an opportunity for expansion later.
For example, if you want to go into the gaming niche, an idea you might come up with is bestgamingcontrollers.com. It's an OK name. It tells you what the blog would be about. But I wouldn't categorize that as brandable.
The other problem with this blog name is that it's limiting to a single topic—controllers. You will likely run out of content ideas rather quickly.
That's why I'd highly recommend you keep your blog name vague. If you're targeting a niche like video game accessories, pick a name that focuses on gaming as a whole.
Which brings us to tip #3:
Use a brandable word + your main niche keyword.
Here are some examples:
The last thing to do is to check if there's a domain name available. A domain name is a web address such as www.mycoolblog.com.
I recommend you get a .com over other extensions when you register your domain name. It's the one that's most commonly known on the internet. When someone thinks website they automatically think .com.
To find out if your blog name is available you will need to search for it in a domain name registrar. This is where you purchase and manage your domains.
The one I use is Namecheap. Their services are as good as they get.
Here's a screenshot where I searched if mancavemadness.com was available.
As you can see, it's currently going for a premium price. That means it has a lot of value. Probably because it's an aged domain where someone built a website on it in the past.
If I was starting my first ever blog I wouldn't spend $1845 on a domain.
I'd continue my search for a fresh domain.
After a few more searches, you'll find one that fits.
If you need more advice, no worries. Here are a few quick tips to aid you on your search for a blog and domain name:
Step #3: Choose Your Blogging Platform
There are many blogging sites out there for you to use. But which blog platform is the best choice for bloggers who want to make money?
If you were to go the free platform route you would go with one of the following choices:
The problem with free blogging options is that you'll run into many limitations.
The main thing about free blog platforms is that you won't 100% own the site you build. It'll be on a subdomain that'll look like this: www.myblog.wordpress.com. These type of subdomains are nearly impossible to rank high in search engines.
So, if you're serious about making money on your blog, you will have to avoid the free blog approach.
I recommend WordPress.org.
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS). It's a blogging and publishing platform.
WordPress powers 43% of all websites. It's the most important website building software by far.
Why? It's fairly easy to learn and gives you full control over your website.
WordPress is also free to install once you've setup your web hosting platform, which we'll get into next.
So how does it work?
When you have WordPress installed, you will have access to your admin dashboard. This is where you'll manage your entire website.
You'll be able to choose a theme that'll make web design very easy. No coding required. There are 30,000+ themes in the WordPress directory that are free to install.
You will also have access to more than 55,000 free plugins. A plugin is an extension that adds functionality to your WordPress website. There are plugins for just about everything. If you wanted to add social media buttons, you can search the plugin directory and you'll have access to dozens of options.
Step #4: Select a Web Hosting Provider
Without web hosting, there's no way for your website to be on the internet. Web hosting is essential.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of web hosting providers that are available.
Which one should you choose?
I'd recommend BlueHost. It's a great option for new bloggers. It's also very affordable for the amount of value you're given.
How to Setup BlueHost Web Hosting
1) Pick your hosting plan
BlueHost's BASIC plan is a good option for new bloggers. It keeps the cost down while giving you everything you need to get started. But if you're comfortable with picking a plan that offers more features, that's good too. Eventually, you will need to upgrade as your blog (or blogs) get bigger and more successful.
2) Enter your domain name
Enter the domain name you purchased with Namecheap,
3) Create your BlueHost account and make the purchase
Fill in all the necessary details. It shouldn't take long.
You don't need any of the Package Extras. There are tools within WordPress that'll take care of this.
So make sure to uncheck the boxes. You don't need to spend that money.
4) Create your password
Make sure that you choose a password that's strong and one you'll remember forever.
5) Login to your account
Clicking the blue button will automatically log you in.
6) Begin creating your website
Get started by simply hitting the blue button.
7) Select an option to receive help OR no help
It doesn't really matter which one you choose. But perhaps a little help is a good option since you'll receive some guidance from BlueHost.
8) Select some basic details
The first part of this is to choose your site's main purpose. You can go ahead and choose BLOG.
The BlueHost setup wizard will then ask you what type of site you're building and who it's for.
Go ahead and fill those in.
The next thing to do is to enter your blog name and tagline.
If you can't think of a tagline don't worry about it. It isn't that important at this point.
Next, pick a free theme.
You probably want to choose one in the BLOG category.
Don't spend too much time on this. Changing themes in WordPress is easy.
9) Setup your DNS nameservers
Since your domain is registered with Namecheap you will have to connect your domain name with BlueHost. Unfortunately, there's no one-click solution for this. However, it's still a very easy process.
First, head over to your BlueHost dashboard. You will need the links to the BlueHost nameservers.
Navigate to Domains > My Domains.
Then go to MANAGE.
This is where you'll find the nameservers—ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com.
Next, head over to your Namecheap dashboard. Find your domain in your Domain List and click the MANAGE button.
Scroll down to the NAMESERVERS section. From the dropdown menu, select CUSTOM DNS.
From here, enter the BlueHost nameservers into the proper boxes.
Don't forget to click the green checkmark once you're done.
Now your Namecheap domain is connected to your BlueHost account.
10) DELETE your site
I know that the website creation process you just went through was tough. But here me out...
BlueHost's initial website creation process has a small flaw. Your WordPress login details will be automatically generated. It isn't that serious. But this way you'll be able to create your own login information.
So the first thing to do is go your BlueHost dashboard and click on MY SITES. From here, click the blue manage site button.
Then go to SETTINGS.
Scroll down to the Delete Site section. Click the DELETE button.
Back on the MY SITES page, click the ADD SITE link and then CREATE NEW SITE.
From here, enter your site name and tagline.
Then click the blue ADVANCED button. This is where you will create your own login credentials.
The next page is where you choose your domain.
BlueHost will recommend pre-installing certain plugins. You won't have to. I'd recommend to uncheck these boxes.
When you're done you should see something like this:
Your WordPress website is now created.
You can now login.
You now have a website.
It's time to move onto the next step!
Step #5: Setup Your New WordPress Website
This next step is important, but I strongly recommend that you don't spend too much time on it. That's why I will only show you a basic WordPress setup.
One of the first mistakes I made was trying to perfect my website design. I spent weeks on changing my WordPress theme, creating new logos, and testing out new colour palettes.
Looking back, that was time that wasn't spent on the most important task when you're just starting out—content creation.
When you log into your WordPress dashboard, you'll screen will look like this:
1. Change your WordPress theme
The first thing to do from here is to navigate to Appearance > Themes. You are going to be deleting all the default themes and adding a new one.
To remove a theme from your WordPress, you will have to click on the theme and then hit the DELETE link located on the bottom right corner of your screen.
The only theme you should have is the latest default WordPress theme, which is Twenty Twenty-Two.
When you've successfully removed all the unnecessary themes, click on the button that says WORDPRESS.ORG THEMES.
From here, enter "astra" into the search bar.
When you see the Astra theme pop up click on INSTALL then ACTIVATE.
I recommend the Astra theme because it offers a bunch of cool features for free. The main thing I like is that you can install "starter templates" that add design layouts on your site that look like they were coded by a web design professional.
Starter templates will also automatically add pre-built peripheral pages to your site such as a homepage, about page, and contact page.
Click the GET STARTED button to begin the process.
When you click the button you'll see a tutorial video on your screen. This video is by the team that built the Astra theme. I'd recommend giving it a quick watch. It's only a 2-minute video.
When you're ready, click the blue button at the bottom of your page.
Now, when I was building my new website, I had an issue on this next page. There was nothing showing up for me.
If this is happening for you right now, simply click on logo on the top left corner. This will open a new tab where you can continue your Astra setup process.
The next thing to do is to select ELEMENTOR from the dropdown menu on the top right corner.
Elementor is a visual page builder plugin that makes creating content fun and easy. The free version of Elementor is all you need for now.
Next up, pick a starter template. Choose something that catches your eye.
I chose the Creative Blog template.
When you pick your starter template, you'll be asked to upload a logo. For now, you can skip this. Your logo isn't important yet.
The setup wizard will then get you to pick a colour palette and a font.
I'd recommend to select colours you like and leave the font as is.
This isn't that important right now. You can take a day to work on stuff like this once you've got everything else in place.
The last step is to fill in some details. Here's what I did:
When you click the SUBMIT & BUILD MY WEBSITE button, Astra will take a few seconds to do its thing. Another YouTube video will pop up once it's finished.
Your website will look a but funky after the starter template is installed.
But that's fine. You'll be able to make some design changes soon.
You will also notice that some new links have been added to your site's navigation menu. Most of these will be irrelevant to your site. We'll fix this later.
2. Change your permalink structure
The next thing to do is to change your permalink structure (URLs). Right now, they look like this: yourblog.com/pageid?123.
You want them to look like this: yourblog.com/about-us.
Navigate to Settings > Permalinks. Select CUSTOM STRUCTURE and add %postname% into the box. Click SAVE CHANGES and you're done.
3. Get out of COMING SOON mode
Next up, you're going to move your site out of "coming soon" mode.
First off, click the orange/yellow link at the top of your page.
Now, this is where I ran into an issue. It was likely just some bug in the system. Hopefully you don't run into it too.
Head over to the SETTINGS tab within the BlueHost section of your WordPress dashboard.
Under SITE CONTROLS, turn off the Coming Soon Page feature.
When I was trying to do this, it didn't let me turn that feature off for some reason.
So I tried another method.
If this happens to you, click the LAUNCH button under BlueHost > Home.
And if that doesn't work...
Go to your BlueHost account. Under HOME, go to CUSTOMIZE SITE.
This will lead you to the WordPress Customizer. This is where we want to me for the next part.
4. Update your homepage settings
First off, navigate to the Customizer, go to Appearance > Customize.
When you're there, go to the HOMEPAGE SETTINGS.
Select A STATIC PAGE. Then under HOMEPAGE, select the proper page (Home). For the POSTS PAGE you'll have to add a new page. I'd recommend naming it BLOG. ARTICLES would work too.
If you did it correctly, your site won't look all funky anymore.
5. Make sure you're on HTTPS
Before we move further, let's make sure your site is secure. If you see a lock icon beside your domain (in the URL address), you're good. It'll look like this:
But if it says "not secure" you'll have to change something within your settings.
Go to Settings > General inside your WordPress dashboard.
The two URL settings will be missing HTTPS. They'll look like this: http://yourblog.com. But you want them to look like this: https://yourblog.com.
A small change. But an important one.
Make sure to hit the SAVE CHANGES button after you add the HTTPS.
6. Change your website's main menu
Next on the list is your site's navigation menu.
Right now it's probably cluttered with a bunch of items that don't even fit your niche. So let's change that.
First off, you will need to go back to the WordPress Customizer. Remember, Appearance > Customize first and then go to Menus.
This is where you can start removing all those irrelevant links.
You will then add some items to your menu.
It's pretty straightforward, so you shouldn't run into any trouble.
I'd suggest having four items in your menu for now: Home, Blog, About, and Contact.
You can also rearrange your menu via the little REORDER link.
7. Setup some essential plugins
Currently, your list of plugins look something like this:
This is quite the list. You're going to delete some of them and add new ones.
The ones I'd suggest you remove are Creative Mail, Hello Dolly, and Jetpack.
While Jetpack is a useful plugin with a bunch of interesting features, there are others that I'd recommend you use.
Deleting a plugin is simple. Simply go to Plugins, look for the de activation link, then hit delete.
Add plugins has a little more work.
First, look for the ADD NEW link. There are two of them. They both lead to where you need to go.
The first plugin I'd recommend you install is one that'll protect your site from hackers, malware, and other harmful things.
There are about a dozen great security plugins. The one I've used for a while is called Wordfence Security. However, lately I've been using the plugin called Defender. I've found it much easier to use and understand.
To begin installing a plugin you must first enter a keyword into the search box, otherwise you'll be browsing thousands of plugins in dozens of categories.
When your search beings up the results you'll have to look for the plugin you want. It'll likely be a couple scrolls down.
Once you see it you can click the INSTALL NOW then ACTIVATE.
Configuring Defender's settings is easy. You simply click a button and the tool will do setup itself.
You can adjust the settings even more but I wouldn't recommend doing that until you're comfortable with things like this. For now, the default settings are all you need.
The next plugin is for creating backup files of your site. If something were to go wrong where your website becomes broken (or worse), having a backup will help. For example, let's say you updated a few plugins and all of a sudden everything stopped working. Having a backup file of your site can save you from losing your site entirely.
I'd recommend UpdraftPlus for this. It's the most popular backup plugin and it's fairly easy to setup.
First, of course, you'll have to search for it and then install it.
The UpdraftPlus setup wizard will then walk you through the settings (the little orange/white boxes).
You won't have to do much. The most important thing is to connect to a third party storage service. I use Google Drive since it's free to use. All you need is a Google account (basically everyone has one these days).
When you choose the Google Drive option a new section will appear right below it. You will then have to go through the authentication process, which is basically signing into your Google account.
After you've connected UpdraftPlus with Google Drive you'll be directed to a page with orange background.
All you'll need to do here is click the COMPLETE SETUP button.
This should take you back to your WordPress dashboard.
When you're back at your UpdraftPlus settings page you should see an existing backup. This would have been created when you were in the setup wizard.
If you don't see one you can simply create a new backup by clicking the big BACKUP NOW button.
The last plugin you'll setup today is already installed. Yoast SEO. We'll talk about SEO and what it stands for in a few minutes.
The first thing to do is go to Yoast SEO > Search Appearance in your WordPress dashboard.
From here, click on the CONTENT TYPES tab. Scroll down to Landing Page (e-landing-page). This is an Elementor feature. We don't need these showing up in the search results. But perhaps down the line you may need to come back and switch this back on.
You can also do this with the one directly below it (My Templates).
You have a couple more to go.
Under the TAXONOMIES tab, switch off the feature for Tags and Formats. We don't need these clunking up our XML sitemaps.
Under the ARCHIVES tab, there are two others that don't need to be included in the sitemap. The Date archive is usually turned off by default (make sure anyway). The Author archive doesn't need to be there either (unless you plan on running a massive blog with multiple authors).
And remember, be sure to hit the SAVE CHANGES button so that your configurations won't go to waste.
You can leave Yoast SEO for now. We'll be back in a few minutes.
8. Get your site ready for SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It's when you make an effort to improve your site's rankings within Google's search results so that you may generate free organic traffic.
There are many Google search ranking factors. High-quality content is at the top.
But to help Google find your website you will have to setup a few things.
First on the list is Google Analytics. This free tool will track all your incoming traffic. That means you will be able to how many people come to your website.
Go to the Google Analytics website to get started. You will have to sign into your Google account.
After you sign in you'll end up on a page that looks like this:
Click the BLUE button to begin.
Next, you'll be required to enter an account name. You can use your full name.
There are also checkboxes below it. These are your data sharing settings.
There is only one box that is UNCHECKED by default. You don't necessarily need this feature but sometime down the line it could come in handy. So for that, I'd recommend checking it.
The next part is called property setup. This is where you enter your blog's name and setup your country, time zone, and currency.
The last part of the account creation process is easy.
First, you will determine the size of your business (usually small - 1 to 10 for bloggers).
Then you'll choose how you intend to use Google Analytics. I typically only check the first three boxes. But it's up to you.
To finish setting up your account you must accept the terms of service agreement.
Now you have a Google Analytics account.
The next thing you'll need to do is to connect your account with your website so that you could start tracking your engagement.
First off, click the red button on the top right corner. It'll say GO TO STREAM SETUP.
From here, click on the WEB option.
Now, enter your website URL and a stream name (use your site's name).
Now for a bit of coding. But don't be intimidated. You will only have to copy and paste your Google Analytics code to your website.
Scroll down and click on the GLOBAL SITE TAG option. This is the code you must copy.
Next, go back to your WordPress dashboard. Navigate to Appearance > Theme File Editor. Under THEME FILES click on HEADER.PHP.
Now paste the bit of code directly under the <head> tag. But make sure you do not edit anything else. And click the UPDATE FILE button when you're done.
Let's test it out to make sure you've added the code correctly.
First off, open an incognito or private window and go to your website.
Now, go back to your Google Analytics tab. Your main navigation is located on the left sidebar. Go to Reports > Realtime.
You may have to refresh your analytics tab a couple of times, but eventually, you should see yourself on the overview map.
Congrats. You've successfully enabled Google Analytics on your website.
The next thing you'll need to setup is your Google Search Console (GSC). This is where you'll manage your Google search analytics. This is where you'll be able to see how your SEO efforts are performing.
First off, go to the GSC website. You may need to sign into your Google account.
Next, you must select a property type. There are two options: domain and URL prefix.
I'd recommend the URL prefix option. It's much easier to setup.
GSC will then verify ownership.
If your Google Analytics account was setup properly, GSC verification should go through without any issue.
If everything is good on your end you should see your Google Search Console dashboard.
You're almost done...
The last part of this is to submit an XML sitemap. This is a file of your website important pages. Submitting this file to Google will make it very easy for them to find your website.
The first thing you need is the link to your sitemap. It usually looks like this: yourblog.com/sitemap_index.xml. You can find it under the FEATURES tab in Yoast SEO > General.
Quick note: You'll only need the sitemap_index.xml part.
Go back to your Google Search Console dashboard. You'll see a link to SITEMAPS under INDEX in your sidebar menu. This is where you will add your sitemap.
Simply paste your xml link into the box and submit.
If you submitted your XML sitemap correctly you should see it pop up under SUBMITTED SITEMAPS.
Congrats. You've successfully got your site ready for SEO.
Your SEO efforts don't stop here, however. You still have a ton of work to do. Which brings us to our next step.
Step #6: Content = Traffic
Content is the lifeblood of any blog. Without good quality content, generating free organic traffic is damn near impossible.
It won't matter which approach you choose.
If you want to drive traffic without outreach and networking, you need content. Lots of it.
If you want to drive traffic with outreach and networking, you will still need content. In fact, you need the best content. No website is going to give you a backlink without super quality content.
How do you create quality content?
A typical blog post writing process will look something like this:
If you want your content to perform well in the search engines, you're going to have to put a lot more work into it than that.
Ultimately, the blog content creation process can be broken down into three categories:
I know this seems like a lot, but once you get the hang of it you'll start to create your own streamlined writing process and you'll be pumping out tons of great blog posts on the daily.
Before you get there, however, you're going to need a writing process that will ease you into the blogging game. One of the biggest blogging blunders is diving head-first into the blogosphere and getting information overload.
Beginner bloggers tend to think that their first blog post should be an introduction of themselves. But that's not necessary.
People that visit your site aren't coming to learn about you. They come to your site to learn new information. With your first blog post, that's exactly what you're going to do.
How to Write Your First Blog Post
Writing your first blog post is intimidating. Don't let it be. Every new blogger's first article is bad in one way or another.
The more you write the better content you will create.
Think of blog post writing as talking with a friend. Write like you talk and you will be fine.
Step 0: Understand the Different Types of Blog Content
There are two main types of content you will create: informational and commercial.
Informational content consists of blog posts where users find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. This type of content will make up the bulk of your blog. Experts recommend around a 70-30 split between informational and commercial content.
While info content can be monetized, the main focus behind commercial content is to make you money. This is typically done through affiliate marketing, where you promote other people's product for a percentage of a sale. We'll get into that later.
Commercial content consists of blog posts where you promote products. This includes product reviews, comparisons, and best X for Y posts.
Back in the day, as recently as last year, actually, you would be able to create sites that consist of 100% commercial content. But with Google's recent algorithm updates, these types of sites don't work. That's why it's recommended that you churn out a ton of informational content.
In fact, it's recommended that you create more informational content than commercial content. Some experts say that the 80/20 rule applies to website content—informational content being 80 percent of all the content you publish on your site.
So, for the first few dozen blog posts you write, I'd recommend you focus on an info-heavy approach. Info content attracts the most organic search traffic.
Step 1: Find a Topic
Finding blog post topics that people search for is the name of the game. If you can find these topics and write helpful content, you're going to do well in terms of generating traffic from Google search.
To find potential topics to write about you can use Google search. Google will show you what people are typing into the search bar.
The best way to get started is to browse the People Also Ask section.
To do that, go to Google and enter a broad topic into the search engine. This could be video games, home office, or weight loss.
When you click on one of the questions, more will keep popping up. It's almost infinite so you can literally come up with hundreds of blog post ideas here.
You'll notice that there will be some overlapping in some of the questions. They'll just be worded differently. If this is the case, it's best not to create blog posts for each variation of a question. Otherwise, you would be writing the exact same blog post over and over again.
Instead, you should include all the variations in one post. That way, you'll be able to compete for multiple search queries with a single blog post.
Step 2: Research Your Topic
After you've figured out what you're going to write about, it's time to see what you're actually going to be writing about.
You know what I'm saying?
I mean, sure...
You could write about the knowledge you already have about the topic and still write a decent blog post. But there are always new things and ideas to learn.
One of the best ways to learn about your topic is to see what's on Google. It's great for seeing what type of information is performing well in the search results, while also adding to what you already know—win-win.
Seeing the top results will help you figure out what exactly to write about. Perhaps you'll find out that your competitors are missing key information, allowing you to fill the gap. Thus creating a much more informative piece of content.
Step 3: Create an Outline
An outline is the structure of your blog post. It's the main talking points.
This will be made up of subheadings—which are the bigger bold lettered phrases you see scattered throughout this post.
Creating an outline will make the blog post creation process much easier. It will also help you avoid going .on tangents
Let's say you website is about gaming and you're writing a blog post about PC components.
This is what your article outline may look like:
You can easily create your blog post outline with some research. More particularly, you can Google your blog post topic and see how the top performing articles have structured their content. This is especially easy because most blogs utilize a table of contents.
For example, if you're writing a guide on building a gaming PC, you would find this guide by GameSpot.com where they outline their entire post in a table of contents box.
Obviously, you wouldn't copy the entire outline line for line. Plagiarism is a big no-no in the digital content realm.
To add more subheadings to your outline you can view more content on Google to see other article outlines.
You may also see something they've missed. Which will make your blog post a much better resource.
Step 4: Begin Writing
One of the scariest things about starting a blog is writing your first article.
But no worries. Everyone's first blog post is far from great. So don't waste your energy worrying about the quality of your writing. You will have plenty of time to come back later to update your article.
The most important thing now is to just write. That's the only way you will get better.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind while you write your first blog post:
Step 5: Add Your Images
Images add quality to a blog post in many ways. For instance, internet users don't like having to read large blocks of text. Our attention spans are far too short for that. Adding a few images to your post will help break that up and give your content much more readability.
Images will also help you get your points across. Let's say you're writing about how intermittent fasting has helped you lose weight over a period of time. You could create a graph that demonstrates that.
Another instance where you will find images useful is when you're writing a how-to guide or other instructional content. You can use a tool to capture screenshots. Screenshots will add so much value to your blog post. They're about the next best thing to actual video content.
Here are some tools to help you create nice images:
One last piece of advice:
Use a tool that will shrink the file sizes of your images.
An important part of a blog is user experience. Google's search algorithm, which will be your main source of organic traffic, rewards websites that load quick more than they do with websites that take several seconds to load up.
Images play a huge part in your website's loading speed. If you have many photos on your page that have large file sizes there's a good chance that page will take a dozen seconds to load.
That's why it's important to shrink your image files.
To do this, you can either install a WordPress plugin on your site such as ShortPixel or use an online tool like TinyPNG (which you can use right from your web browser). I'd recommend TinyPNG for now as it is much easier at this stage than learning a new plugin.
Step 6: Proofread and Edit
Spelling and grammar errors tend to throw the reader off. If you would like to avoid this, proofreading your blog post and making edits would be a great habit to develop.
Proofreading will make your blog post a much better piece of content.
You can read through your writing immediately after you finish. However, I'd recommend taking a few to hours to clear the mind so that when you come back to your article you'll have a fresh perspective on it and will perhaps think of new ideas to add to it. I usually wait until the morning to do my proofreads—especially if I'm writing a huge blog article.
Step #7: Monetize Your Blog
Now for the fun part.
There are many ways to make money on your blog. For instance, you can do sponsored posts where you have a brand or company pay you to write about them.
There's also creating and selling your own products, whether they're digital or physical. But you would need an audience for that most of the time.
What is the best way to make money blogging?
We recommend two, actually:
1. Make Money Blogging with Display Ads
Display advertising typically pays $10 to $20 per thousand views. More or less.
So to earn a full time income from this method, let's say $4000 a month, you would need about 400,000 pageviews a month if you were earning $10 per thousand hits.
Those numbers seem overwhelming. However, it is very doable. There are many blogs out there that earn 4 grand a month. In fact, there are many bloggers out there that own multiple sites that make 4 thousand every month.
But to get your blog to hundreds of thousands of views, you will need a ton of content that generates organic traffic from Google and other search engines.
When you do start to generate a lot of traffic you can start earning by joining an advertising network. There are a few solid options for this.
For starters, the best beginner-friendly ad network is called Ezioc. The best part about it is they don't have any minimum traffic requirements. Meaning you can join anytime. Even now when you don't even get 100 visitors a month.
Another great ad network is called Mediavine. This one, however, does have minimum traffic requirements. Your site must generate 50,000 pageviews per month in order to be considered to join the Mediavine network.
Other top advertisement networks include:
2. Make Money Blogging with Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing for blog and website monetization is when you promote other people's products to your visitors. You earn a percentage of every sale you generate.
Here's a nice breakdown on how affiliate marketing works:
So let me give you an example:
You have a site about video games. When you're ready to monetize though affiliate marketing, you would start by looking for a great product to promote.
This could be any product that's related to your niche. You shouldn't promote anything your visitors aren't looking for. For instance, promoting puppy treats on a personal finance blog wouldn't look right.
If there isn't a product that comes to mind, you will have to search for one. To do this, you can use Google.
You can start with searching for a type of product related to your blog niche. Using our gaming example, you might search for "best ps5 controller".
When you click on one of the results you'll see an article that lists their recommended products.
To find out if a product has an affiliate program you would search the company's name + affiliate program.
So in this example, I chose the SCUF Reflex Pro controller from the article. I searched for "scuf affiliate program" and got the following results.
As you can see, SCUF Gaming seems to not have an affiliate program. That means you wouldn't be able to promote and sell their controllers for commissions.
If you run into this problem, you can go back to the list of products from the article and search for that company on Google.
The best way to find affiliate programs, however, is by Google searching your product type + affiliate program. For example, "custom controllers affiliate program".
This will give you a bunch of options.
When you click on a result, I chose HexGaming, you will see a page with some details on the affiliate program.
This page will have the starting commission rate (%) and a link to the actual affiliate program.
All that's left is to click the JOIN button and fill out the form.
The application process tends to come with a waiting time while they check out your website. If they see you as a good fit then you will be given login details where you will sign into your affiliate program dashboard where you'll see your custom affiliate link and track all your sales.
We should also add that you can join a lot of affiliate programs right away. Some programs allow you to join automatically after filling out an account creation form.
How to Promote an Affiliate Product Effectively
There are two things that are absolutely critical to your success with affiliate marketing:
Back in the day, you could create a website and publish tons of affiliate-focused content such as product reviews and see results—even if you write half-assed content that's based on other people's information.
That means you cannot go to other people's product reviews and base your entire piece of content on that and expect results.
Google has come out with algorithm updates that focuses on rewarding affiliate content that is based on unique research. In other words, you have to get your hands on the actual product you want to promote.
This will help you create more helpful reviews. Thus, ranking better in Google search results and making more money.
Crucial Tips For Successful Blogging
To help you jumpstart your journey, here are 6 important beginner blogging tips:
1. Build a Solid Foundation
There are FOUR pillars that go into a solid blogging foundation:
i. Choosing the right niche for you
Finding a niche that fits you like a glove is one of the most important aspects of starting a blog and being successful.
This is actually why a lot of bloggers fail.
When you pick a niche that isn't for you—perhaps said niche is a very profitable one and that attracted you—you will lose interest in it.
Yes, in the beginning, you will be filled with loads of motivation. However, that fire will go out and the blog you started will be pushed off to the side. This will happen in a month or in a year. But it will all be time wasted nonetheless.
ii. Choosing the best blogging platform
Blogging and website building platforms such as Wix and Squarespace are solid choices to build your blog on. They are probably the most beginner-friendly options.
However, they've been looked at limiting. Especially with customization.
The number one blogging and website building platform we recommend is WordPress.org.
It's more customizable, especially in the coding aspect. But also with the thousands and thousands of plugins at your disposal (which are add-ons that add special functionalities to your site).
WordPress.org is also a free open source software. You will never have to pay for it on its own. However, it does require you to get your own web hosting service, but that's with every serious website.
ii. Choosing a great domain name
Finding a great domain name is key.
It must be informative but also memorable. It must be broadly focused but also short and sweet.
One of the best ways to come up with a solid name for your blog is to combine a term closely related to your niche with a brandable word or noun.
Here are a few examples:
You could even use alliteration to make your blog name even more memorable. It could look something like this:
A dot com (.com) should be your preferred domain name extension over any others.
iv. Choosing a reliable web hosting provider
There are so many web hosting services out there that are good at what they do. Some more expensive than others—but for good reason as they provided better services.
The hosting service we use for our websites is WPX Hosting. It's a little more expensive than others but the services are higher. Services that starter blogs don't necessarily need.
That's why it's best for beginner blogs to start with a cheaper—yet reliable—hosting provider.
This is where BlueHost comes in.
With BlueHost, you can get reliable web hosting at around $5 per month.
When you start to grow your site with content and traffic you can upgrade to a higher service.
2. Write Helpful Content for Internet Users
Content is the most important ingredient for your website. If you don't create dozens, even hundreds, of blog articles, you're going to have a rough time seeing the money roll in.
The content you publish, however, has to be good. If your content is helpful and is written in a presentable way, you will see your blog posts generate a ton of traffic.
But that doesn't mean you should publish proper essays as blog posts with mountains of text upon mountains of text. People don't read that stuff on the internet.
In fact, internet users rarely read an entire blog post at all. If you're reading these words, you're probably the first one to do so in the last hundred people.
What do internet users do? They skim and they scan.
That's why your content must be easy on the eyes.
Last piece of advice regarding content:
Don't overdo it on affiliate type content.
The Big G (Google, not God :P) has launched algorithm updates that target websites with a lot of product reviews, roundups, and comparisons. Especially if the site had poor affiliate content—no original product research. That's why it's best to get firsthand experience with the product before you write a review on it.
The best way to avoid getting hit with Google's product review update is to put a higher focus on informational content—listicles, how to posts, ultimate guides, question/answer posts, etc.
Experts on this topic recommend that you use an 80/20 or 70/30 ratio. That means your content should consist of 80% informational content and 20% affiliate content (reviews, etc.)
3. Be Consistent With Your Content Publishing
Whether you plan on writing 5 articles per week or 5 articles per month, you have to keep creating. Especially when you're just starting out.
Think of it this way:
To generate 100,000 visitors per month you would need 100 blog posts on your site that bring in 1000 people every month.
And to create 100 blog posts in a year, you would need to publish 8 blog articles every month—2 per week.
That is SO doable.
Even if you split that year in half...
100 blog posts in 6 months is 4 articles per week. That's a published post every other day. Which is a lot, yes, but there are bloggers out there that publish daily articles.
Whatever writing schedule you decide, you must keep to it. Or at least somewhat.
If you're not consistent with working on your blog, nothing is going to happen. You can't publish a few articles and wait for them to rank in Google search so you can generate a bit of traffic.
If you want to become a blogger that generates full time earnings online, you must drive a ton of traffic to your blog. And content is most efficient way to do that.
Topical authority is a concept that's been talked about a lot in the SEO community. It's basically where you thoroughly cover a topic through a series of blog posts.
When you publish enough content around a topic or category, you will gain topical authority and that will help you get organic traffic from Google search.
4. Organic Traffic Will Be the Lifeblood of Your Blog
Generating free organic traffic is how content blogs and affiliate niche sites make their living. Online businesses, in general.
If you want to maximize profits with your new blogging career you must get good at driving free traffic to your website.
The best way to do that with great quality (and quantity) content.
We just explained how much content you would need to write a minute ago.
But how do you write content that will perform well in the search engines?
5. A Content Website is Truly Never Finished
When I started my first blog I had this thought in my head where if I created enough content my website would be "finished" and I'd watch the money roll in.
That is never the case.
There are hundreds, even thousands, of topics to write about in any given niche. Especially if you choose one that is broad or one that isn't tied down to one specific sub-niche such as video game controllers or iPhone cases.
So if you ever feel like you have nothing else to write about, you must find new ways to find topics your audience is searching for.
How, you ask?
There are many ways to find new ideas for blog content.
6. Your Website Loading Speed and Performance is Extremely Important
Website performance has become a critical component to successful blogging in recent years.
Google, the largest search engine in the world and your biggest source or organic traffic, has launched numerous search engine algorithm updates to ensure their search results aren't riddled with websites that take dozens of seconds to load.
You must take your website page speed very serious.
That means you must:
Another serious concept that's closely related to this is Core Web Vitals.
Basically, these are a subset of factors (including page speed) Google uses to determine how well your page experience is. One of Google's biggest ranking factor is user experience. And if your web vitals are great, you will have no issues with SEO rankings—given that your content is also up to par.
FAQs About Blogging
What is a blog?
A blog is type of website that focuses on content creation to attract visitors and generate earnings.
What is a blog post?
A blog post is an article that is published on a website so that it can attract new unique visitors.
What are the benefits to blogging?
The benefits to blogging include driving organic traffic through SEO, building a following, and ultimately making money through display ads, affiliate marketing, and other partnerships.
Why do most bloggers fail?
Most bloggers fail for many reasons: inconsistency, no self-motivation or discipline, following the wrong advice, picking the wrong niche, and more.
How do I write a blog post?
The gist of it: find a topic people are searching for, look at what your competitors are writing, and try to create something better. The goal is to write helpful and useful blog posts.
Who will read my blog post?
People that visit your site will be people that are looking for information on the topics you write about.
How much content should I publish?
While there isn't a specific number to how many blog posts you should write, I would recommend you set a goal for 100 articles. If you can get there, chances are you will start making money.
What kind of content should I publish?
The type of content you need to write are on topics your target audience are searching for on Google, Reddit, Quora, and other online search engines/communities.
How long will it take my blog to make money?
It honestly depends on how much content you are willing to write. If you can create 50 blog posts in your first 3 months or 100+ in your first year, you could be making at least 4 figures in the next year.
How do I start a blog?
Pick a web hosting provider, come up with a good domain name, and setup your WordPress blog (installing essential plugins, picking a theme, configuring basic settings). This is usually done within an hour. Except when you're new to blogging, in which case it may take you a few.
What is a domain name and web hosting?
A domain name is what you see in the browser address bar (ex: bloggingaid.com). It's usually the name of your blog. You can get one for $10 per year. Web hosting is a a server that stores your website files so it can actually come to life. You can get hosting for $5 per month.
How much will blogging cost me?
There are many tools and services you can buy that would help you get results faster. But you can shoestring it and only spend money on the absolute essentials, which are domain and web hosting. A dotcom is around $10 per year (sometimes cheaper for first timers) and web hosting is around $5 per month or $60 annually. Add that up and it's roughly $70 to get started.
How do I make money with my blog?
Content, content, and more content. Content is how you will get actual internet users to visit your blog. You will be able to monetize through display ads and affiliate marketing.
How much money can I make blogging?
You can make anywhere between $100 per month to $100,000 per month with blogging. Real talk though, if you take content creation seriously, there's nothing stopping you to make $4,000 every month (which would be considered full time income).
Do I need to know how to code?
NO. WordPress is a software that doesn't require you to learn how to code. I don't do any custom coding on my own and I've done great. WordPress has so many plugins that allow you to do things that look like it was coded by professionals.