How to Start a Blog that Makes Money
Maybe in your first year, you will make over $10 million. Then you can afford that yellow Vespa and travel around Europe trying to discover the meaning of life.
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Tech-wizardry, words, and the World Wide Web! A trinity of super income earning potential. Start building yourself a brighter future by investing in pixels, a small functioning mouse, and a determination as strong as that hurricane that whipped Dorothy and Toto to a place called “Not in Kansas Anymore.” You, too, CAN start an online business that makes money!
Can I Really Make Money Blogging?
The short answer? Yes, you can start a blog and make money.
The long answer? Keep reading.
For a new blog to earn $10,000,000 in one year is (so far) quite impossible and has never happened (as far as I know). But if I were to tell you the incomes of some of the highest-paid bloggers on the internet, you would fall off your kitchen table and start your career as a minor speed bump inspector.
Passive income. Hard work. True freedom. Hard work. Work at home. Hard work. Powerful sales funnels & brilliant products. More hard work. But it does pay off—eventually!Moonpixel Creative
Pixels Made of $100 Bills
Here are four examples of people who make money from blogging. See what can be achieved if all your pixels are made of hundred-dollar bills, and search engines like Google send you flowers each morning:
I think most of us would do a double backflip wearing only a pair of black socks if we owned a blog like the above! Don’t get jealous; jealousy is an ugly thing; instead—become inspired and motivated in the best way possible.
So yes—you can make money with a blog, and the earnings can be considerably more than expected. You might even be able to pay for a stranger’s coffee at Starbucks and then buy a new car on the way home!
Blog trends are an amazing rabbit hole to fall into, so why not sample some of the inspirational statistical marshmallows as you freefall?
600,000,000 Blogs & Counting
Another big number—sometimes things with lots of zeros are kinda cool (your bank balance, the number of galaxies the new James Webb Space Telescope has discovered, your WiFi speed), but still, 600 million blogs on this little pale-blue-dot of a planet is a universe all in itself.
With over 600 million blogs in the world today, out of an estimated 1.9 billion websites, is there room for one more? Yes, and technology is making access to this world easier by the year.
Whoa—and another 400 million people sit down with their iced peach tea and read those blogs each month. (via HubSpot) And things don’t look like they are slowing down as more and more nations gain blazing-fast connectivity.
I might not be able to come up with 600 million reasons why you should start a blog, but here are several good reasons to inspire you to begin your journey:
Thoughts and Ideas: So, you have an idea for the world’s next greatest sock. A blog can be a great way to share that ‘next-greatest-sock‘ idea with a poised and sockless humanity. You’ve got a message burning inside you—you are the next-greatest-sock mogul. Or what if you’re a new Hemingway or Stephen King?
You must let the fire out and share your passions, so start a blog.
But as you’ll see, there is a little more to it if you want to monetize your blog and start earning.
Connection: Another good reason why to start a blog. Sharing your thoughts, experiences, and insights on a regular basis will attract readers from all over the world who will appreciate your unique perspective. But will it make money?
Writers: Another reason to start a blog is simply that you like words. If you enjoy writing and sharing your thoughts, then blogging can be a great hobby. Hey writers! You can make new friends and connections through your blog, and you may even end up influencing others with your words.
Business: Businesses are blogging more and more! Their blog becomes a powerful marketing platform for promoting their business or products. A blog is a great way to reach out to potential customers if you have something to sell. As your blog builds momentum and scales, you will build up a following of loyal fans who will keep coming back for more.
Recent statistics have shown that businesses that blog regularly generate a much bigger return on their products and services.
The Ultimate Checklist to Set Up a Blog That Makes Money
I know you want to start. I know you want to write. I know you want to start earning what those other bloggers make.
And the potential is certainly there—but it will take time, investment, learning, research, and discipline, along with some mild existential quivering in the dark of night as you try to come up with your next blog topic.
There is no such thing as a free blog; it will cost you something—but it’s worth the investment, so keep your eyes focused on the long-term goal, not just short-term success.
How will you succeed? By deciding to quit quitting.
Don’t expect to make a lot of money in the first 12 months, but persist. No, really, that is probably the one essential key to the whole blogging business.
How will you succeed? By deciding to quit quitting. Too many people give up just before Google starts to take notice and more traffic starts arriving at your site.
There are many ways to monetize your website: advertising, eCommerce, online courses, digital products, selling eBooks, selling services (SaaS: Software as a Service), etc.
Over 85% of content publishers leverage the power of affiliate marketing to monetize their web traffic and earn extra income.
What is affiliate marketing? I am glad you asked! Do you want to make money at any time, from anywhere — even while you sleep? This is the idea behind affiliate marketing—you, as an affiliate, earn a commission for marketing another person’s or company’s products.
The global value of the entire affiliate marketing industry is estimated at around $12 billion! That’s a lot of digital candy in the marketplace—so why not begin to tap into this potentially lucrative income stream as well?
I have kept the information as brief as possible to provide you with a bird’s-eye view of the many factors that go into creating a successful online digital marketing business.
That is the focus of this ultimate checklist, so let’s dive in:
Not essential at the beginning, but certainly, later on, it will be important to register a Business Name with your governmental authority.
Ensure you have a tax or business number (ABN in Australia, EIN in the USA), as you may be able to claim tax breaks on office equipment, software, and other expenses you purchase to help run your business.
Closely related to your business name will be your domain name. No, your domain name doesn’t have to match your business name, but it can help your business if they are closely related.
For example, my registered business name is Moonpixel Creative, and my domain name is moonpixel.co.
Decide on what sort of Domain Name you will purchase for your new brand’s website. Several pro-tips to note:
To bring your ideas to life and see if your ideal domain name is available, check out Hover or Namecheap.
At the start of your blogging journey, it is good to get the name for your blog all sorted, rather than being 50 weeks into a successful blog, creating content, beginning to rank on Google search—and suddenly you want to change your domain or blog name.
If you’re still stuck, this article can help. How to secure the right domain name for your business, in-depth tricks and tips, and how to avoid feeling like a toddler driving a car in all of this.
Now we get to the fun stuff—ways to make money online!
There are a ton of options, and my personal favorite is affiliate marketing. As you have already discovered, affiliate marketing is when you promote someone else’s product or service and earn a commission when someone buys it.
It’s a great way to make money online because you can promote anything you want, and there are tons of products and services out there to promote. Your niche can also earn passive income from affiliate marketing, and who doesn’t want to make some spare cash while they sleep?
So, what will be the type of Niche you will write about? By and large, this will determine your entire blog content. Will it be ancient alien artifacts that are light blue in color or the best business software? Obviously, one has a little more revenue potential than the other!
One perspective that changed my view on my niche and content focus is what multi-millionaire blogger, Adam Enfroy, said: YOU are the brand.
Hey! Do not stress over the Niche! If you do not want to pick a niche at the beginning, that’s okay, remain flexible. Do not choose a niche, let the niche find you.
If you are the brand, that gives room for flexibility and growth—and if you are still stuck on your business name or domain name, use your name!
Once you start creating content trends will emerge, and certain things will begin to resonate—this will further help define your message.
How are you uniquely positioned to draw on your own life experience, skillsets and perspectives, education, industry expertise, and market awareness? You then leverage the ‘Brand-of-You‘ to inform your customers with top recommendations.
Website Blogging Platform
Your choice for your main website design platform is critical—a self-hosted WordPress site is THE BEST choice for many people, and despite there being other good alternatives, WordPress is still pretty hard to beat.
Self-hosting is a form of running your own website or application by setting up a server and network yourself—it is like owning your own home. The opposite of this is sites like Wix or Squarespace. Basically, you own the digital real estate rather than someone else.
I’ve also heard good reports about JetPage, a simple and high-performance alternative to a WordPress blog for non-technical people, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Just be aware that it is not a self-hosted platform, but if you are wanting an easy alternative for your first blog then it is worth a look.
Find a reliable web host on which to build your new blog/website. There are hundreds to choose from in this regard. For years I have used ICD Soft (this link gives you a 45% discount) for both my own websites as well as for my international clients.
With servers in Asia, the USA, and Europe—and with support second to none (I’ve literally had issues fixed within 120 seconds of chatting with them!) they come with a strong recommendation.
Definitely check out Namecheap who have 20+ years of expertise in providing unmatched service, support, and security to website owners. The firm has millions of users and over 10 million registrations. And they’re ready to help with DNS registration, web hosting, or just consultation.
Don’t miss some of the ongoing Namecheap deals. Depending on the TLD chosen, you can sometimes grab a good discount, somewhere between 10% to 80% off. I’ve seen .COMs for as low as $0.98.
Another great company is Hostinger with features like the ability to create 100 websites and 100 GB of fast SSD storage, what’s not to like about that?
Other popular and well-proven web hosting companies include Bluehost and Nexcess and Cloudways (using the Digital Ocean Data Center).
Think about what sort of branding your new blogging business will use. What type of logo design—along with color themes, styles, writing style, and voice, use of graphics etc?
If you are familiar with logo/branding design, you may want to create your own in Affinity Designer or Adobe Illustrator—or you can look at the many freelance options online. Contact me if you are interested as it is one of the services I offer.
If you want to make money from your blog then you need to pay attention to SEO.
With SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) being the number one global traffic source for affiliate marketers, everyone wants to be on page one of Google’s organic free listings!
You already know why—Google is the highest-quality, highest-converting, and most profitable search engine on the Internet.
So if we are going to earn a living with a website then understanding SEO is critical. On-page SEO software/plugins are a great way to help rank your content on Google and social media. See my recommendations below:
You will also want to look at other SEO tools and browser plugins for keyword research, resources to help scale your blog, and other SEO analysis. My top four recommendations in this regard are:
Remember to include some of the free tools as well like Google Analytics (Google Analytics 4 will be replacing Google’s Universal Analytics in 2023). SEO Meta is an excellent Chrome Browser plugin. It is a 1 click tool that displays all meta tags/data and main SEO information clearly to help you better manage and improve your visibility on the Internet.
Keyword Surfer is another great free tool providing one of the fastest ways to reveal search data and content guidelines for your keywords. Overall it will help boost your content relevance, ignite your keyword research process, and dominate your unique content niche.
One excellent alternative to SurferSEO is NeuronWriter. I use this extensively to optimize my blog content making sure all my keywords and topic-relevant terms appear throughout the content of each post.
Why NeuronWriter is one of my must-have tools every time I write new content:
Are you going to use a page builder to speed up the design process of your website?
The big three for WordPress are Elementor, Divi, or the basic Gutenberg editor that ships with WordPress out of the box.
I’ve used Elementor Pro for years and loved its many features.
I’ve built websites using the advanced visual builder Divi.
I now use Kadence Pro for ease and speed (vital for SEO ranking) It is an excellent extension for the ‘out-of-the-box’ Gutenberg editor already included with WordPress, and the one I recommend (this site is built using Kadence).
Pro-tip: How fast does your website load? To see how your site performs, reveal why it’s slow, and discover optimization opportunities it is worth using the free GTmetrix site.
Consider installing some essential WordPress plugins to help you with site management, design, style, and functionality. There are so many to choose from, so to kickstart you in the right direction, try these five:
Thirsty Affiliates – supercharge your link management and protect your commissions from theft caused by link hijacking. A great alternate choice would be Pretty Links. The more I use this, the more I would be lost without it!
RankMath – optimize your on-page SEO with one of the most powerful on-page WordPress SEO tools. I have been using RankMath for some time. A close second would be Yoast SEO. So what’s my verdict having tried Yoast for several years on several client websites? RankMath wins with ease of use and feature-rich content!
UpdraftPlus – your one-click website backup and restore plugin—trusted by over 3 million WordPress sites. Free and Premium versions are available.
It is important to optimize your Core Web Vitals so Google can give you a hug—zip, zap, zoom.
WP Rocket – boost your website loading time, improve your PageSpeed score, and optimize your Core Web Vitals so Google can give you a hug—zip, zap, zoom. There are free alternatives like WP Super Cache, but their features, ease of use, and performance are not like WP Rocket.
I could keep going on and on, but one more that needs a mention is ShortPixel. This image optimization plugin enhances site speed, SEO ranking, and keeps Google happy along with your site visitors. I get compression on most of my images up to 85% with no loss of quality.
Pro-tip: If you have a contact form on a WordPress site and have issues sending and receiving mail use a plugin such as Really Simple SSL. Not only does it work with all SSL certificates, but it also improves security, and it fixed my problems with ‘mixed content‘ errors immediately.
Start researching and joining various Affiliate Programs for your favorite products or services in your niche. Your Prime Directive as a digital marketer, Captain Picard, is to make commissions by recommending products so that you wake up in the morning with a few more galactic credits in your bank account!
Some of the larger Affiliate Networks include:
Is My Site Legal & Protected?
Having some basic legal pages will protect your site against fines, audits, and lawsuits. You will also protect your intellectual property.
Do you want no more guesswork or Googling for days to figure out the legal side of your blog? Then make sure your website has the necessary legal documentation pages. At least these 4 at a minimum:
Having these will protect your site against fines, audits, and lawsuits. You will also protect your intellectual property. It is best to AVOID the many ‘free’ generators found online and employ the services of a qualified lawyer who understands the field.
Second to none is Amira’s Legal Bundles, written by a LAWYER that will keep your business safe and secure in under 15 minutes! Her templates are easy to customize and take away all the worry and stress from this aspect of your business.
Want some more information on blogging legalities, this article can help. Learn about the four key legal pages you need on your website, disability policy compliance, copyright, and more.
Graphic Design Software
What graphic design software will you use to design images for your site and social media content? Adobe Photoshop and Affinity Photo are excellent choices.
Another top choice would be Canva for speed, ease of use
Visual Asset Management
Though not essential at the beginning, it is very handy to have some form of Visual Asset Management software. This will help you organize your growing bank of images for all your content across all your digital platforms. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate or Adobe Bridge are two recommendations.
I have used ACDSee for Mac for many years as it is an only-pay-once deal (no yearly subscriptions, yay!). Digital asset management and productivity become very affordable, and to make the deal even sweeter is that ACDSee Software often has deals of up to 60% discount.
Bridge is Adobe’s flagship desktop media browser and digital asset manager. What many people do not know is that it is FREE, it never expires, and it does not matter whether you’re running Creative Cloud—Adobe has not publicized it widely.
A subscription to Adobe Bridge is free. All you need is a registered Adobe ID with or without a subscription.
Perhaps not necessary when first starting out, but in the future, you may desire to create video content for your website or YouTube channel.
High-end video editing software such as Final Cut Pro (for Mac), Black Magic’s DaVinci Resolve (grab the free version), or Adobe Premier are industry leaders.
There are also cheaper alternatives such as Adobe Premiere Elements (great for absolute beginners), HitFilm (free, but you can pay to add on additional features), or Power Director 365.
Start building your mailing list to connect with your site visitors and customers. Email digital marketing tools will help grow your audience faster and drive revenue growth.
I have used MailChimp for years with several of my international clients, along with SendInBlue.
These days I prefer the simplicity and features of MailerLite which also integrates well with Kadence Blocks Forms.
Lead Magnet Creation
If you are starting to build a mailing list then you will need to think about Lead Magnet Creation.
Give people a helpful and informative asset—a downloadable PDF, some exclusive content, a book, a discount, a service, an audio file, or a magical shoelace?
Lead generation can be a challenge this is why we need to offer something valuable in exchange for their email. Give people a helpful and informative asset—a downloadable PDF, some exclusive content, a book, a discount, a service, an audio file, a magical shoelace? Something that will help point them in the right direction of what they are searching for.
1. Provide value.
2. Make sure they are engaging.
3. Make sure they promote your brand.
The ability to share something on a global scale at the press of a button is unprecedented. It is an efficient, cheap, and effective way of reaching a potentially massive audience coverage for your articles and products.
Assisting others in making informed decisions is what drives much of social media marketing.
What Social Media accounts do you have?
Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? TikTok? YouTube? LinkedIn? Pinterest? These are all the big players that can help get the word out about your new blog.
PRO TIP: I really recommend getting a Social Media Manager. I’ve tried so many of them: Buffer, HootSuite, Lately, etc – in the end the best value for money AND features is definitely ZOHO Social.
I’ve recently seen a 520% increase in engagements across some of my platforms and doubled my Pinterest views in a few weeks since using ZOHO Socials.
Zoho Social’s social media management tool offers a comprehensive set of features for managing multiple social media accounts in one place. The platform allows users to schedule and publish UNLIMITED posts, monitor social media activity, track performance metrics, and engage with their audience across various social media platforms.
What type of physical hardware do you have for creating and managing your new blog? This may seem obvious, but it needs to be stated—just in case someone thinks you can use a spoon and a piece of string connected to the Internet.
As someone who sits in front of a screen ALL day and who is involved in freelance web and graphic design for international clients for nearly two decades, here is the current loadout that I use:
Would you like to work from home? My current home office glows blue, like the skin of a tall avatar on Pandora:
Will you use advertising as part of your monetization strategy for your new website?
But remember—never overdo ads on your blog!
Don’t become an iambic pentameter advertising farm with 1000 spammy cows mooing out unmetered poetry on every page. People will bounce from your site faster than a sinking iron cliché dropped overboard from the Titanic.
Keeping in mind that little warning, check out Google AdSense, Ezoic, and Media Vine for increasing revenue on your website. This can be a powerful way of monetizing your blog and building a sustainable business.
How Will I Get Paid?
Supply your online banking and/or PayPal account so you can get paid. The companies you represent will need to send you commissions, and they will not send gold coins via an affiliate goblin piloting a hot-air balloon.
As you join each Affiliate Network or program, make sure you fill out your bank details (account number, name, BSB, hair color, etc.) and/or PayPal account email address.
I’m not saying that starting a blog is easy, it takes considerable work—but be patient, your day will come!
Having read thus far, I’m sure you still want to create a blog that is successful. Building a blog, or any online business will take time. I hope this guide will at least help orientate you in the right direction.
What about Content? What Do I Write About?
It’s all about the reader experience!
Well okay, it’s also about putting pineapple on pizza, getting all your words in the right order, and crafting original content that begs to be read by millions of waiting souls.
It’s about the experience those million souls get when they enter your creative and entrepreneurial mind via your blog post.
So, you spent 10 solid years writing your latest article on ‘Thermal Beanies that Keep Your Head Super Warm at -50 Degrees‘ and you just pressed POST.
What do you think of AI-Writers? Is it the death of art and authors? Or are they just super clever assistants helping you produce amazing content? Discover more on:
If you are writing about a new pencil that helps fight bullies at school, were they so impressed, that they will order 10 boxes within the next 10 minutes, if not sooner?
Having in-depth, well-researched, and original content will help you build authority in your specific niche.
Every Blog Needs the Power of a Sentient Verb
The fact is: words have serious power.
They make us feel things, imagine possibilities, generate ideas, infuse hope, establish trust, and for better or worse, they shape our reality.
And who does not want their reality reshaped, especially by a blog?
What is that one thing that you are passionate about?
That is what to write about. Are you passionate about home decor? Then be like Sophia Lee and carve out a decore niche and become a leading voice in that gladiatorial arena. Your blog needs you and your unique voice.
Maybe you are an aspiring author, the next New York Times Bestseller list is about to experience a serious reshuffle as your debut novel hits the Amazon warehouse floor.
Words are your thing—you eat dictionaries for breakfast and always have a spare theeesooooorus in the pantry.
What if you like birds? Odd birds. Perhaps extinct birds. Even prehistoric birds—ones with terribly long names that make you choke, like Palaeeudyptinae. Go ahead, google it, and be amazed.
Now you want to run out and start a blog on Palaeeudyptinae and make a lot of readers very happy that these neglected creatures now have a lone voice.
I am not sure how the monetization aspect would go—perhaps you could sell mugs with cute little Palaeeudyptinaen footprints all over them.
You get the idea though.
Quick Fact: 70% of all content marketers say they now prioritize content quality over quantity.
The number of content marketers who prioritize content quality over quantity has increased significantly in recent years. In 2015, only 56% of respondents said quality was more important than quantity. This year, that number jumped to 70%.
There are a number of factors that could be driving this trend, including the increasing availability of high-quality content, the increased use of AI Writing Tools, and the growing importance of SEO. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that content marketers are now placing a greater emphasis on creating quality content.
How Many Words Should I Write?
Web traffic is among the top two most-common measurements of success for content marketing strategies.
Hey, amazing entrepreneur, I know you want to make money from your blog, and once you only needed a spare 1,447 words.
Beg, borrow, throw them into a kitchen pot, and multiply. The average length of a blog page that ranked (and we all want our pages to rank, don’t we!) was 1,447 (according to a GrowthBadger report).
Yet that was back in the dark ages of 2020!
These days it is different.
If you produce a 10,000-word article, but the content and quality are like a spammy-waste-my-time-contest filled with feral man-eating pixels, then the article will not get ranked. Oops, back to the drawing board!
Today, blog posts of over 2,000 words get the best results.
So go for long-form quality content.
This is a great tip if you are serious about generating traffic to your blog and improving your overall content marketing strategy. Long-form content is generally more detailed and comprehensive than shorter pieces and can cover a wide range of topics in far greater depth. This makes it more likely to capture the attention of your target audience and keep them engaged.
When creating long-form content, be sure to include images, infographics, and other visual elements to break up the text and keep readers interested. You should also make use of headings and subheadings to structure your content and make it easy to scan. Finally, don’t forget to proofread your work carefully before publishing to ensure there are no errors.
Articles over 1,000 words consistently receive more social shares and links than shorter posts. Orbit Media reports that 50% of bloggers who write articles over 2,000 words long report getting strong results from their efforts.
Optimus Prime, Cybertronian leader of the Autobots says, “Shoot for around 2,000 – 2,500 words.” Thanks, OP!
Those posts are the ones that are far more likely to get more shares, higher rankings, and better engagement. Search engines like Google cannot wait to start promoting your blog if quality detailed content appears all over your blog.
So start tickling your amygdala, ensure enough magical ink is in your digital pen, and get to creating awesome content.
The Most Important Step
The final thing is actually so simple, it is scary:
Just do it!
Start! Begin! And once more in French: Début
Do something today that will put things in motion to create your online business. You will not turn your wildest dreams into a successful business unless some action is forthcoming.
“But I still ain’t gotta clue where to begin! How do I start my new blog post?”
Learn how to start. That will be one of the best things you can ever learn, even for life in general.
This is the thing that will help you make decisions and know what things are going to work out for you.
It doesn’t matter if it is starting a new business, learning how to play an instrument, or memorizing every instruction manual for Ikea furniture since 28 July 1943. Learning how to start is something that everyone should learn.
Creating an online business from scratch will take time, but it will never happen if you never start! You can dream about finding a niche market, talk about creating a website, or even read about promoting it via the best viral YouTube marketing videos. But nothing will really happen until you write your first blog post.
Review my checklist again, then fire up the old Doogle Docs, and start writing your first article—make an outline, include 1 H1 (header 1) and a few H2s (header 2), thus making it ready for when all the other little details come into celestial alignment.
You’ll get there—I promise!
Do you want more flexibility and control, and to leave a legacy to your loved ones? We all do—I think your entrepreneurial motivations are fine!
The only thing left now is to START BLOGGING.
And if you’re feeling overcome by generosity and want to help the universe align on the side of intergalactic peace and harmony, you could buy me a coffee at www.buymeacoffee.com/moonpixel. Your support would greatly help in keeping me motivated and writing articles that you love.
Steve Roberts is a full-time blogger, digital marketer, and freelance designer who also helps young Jedis make informed lightsaber decisions. Join Steve on this incredible journey, learning how to scale your business and entrepreneurial vision. His clients include organizations and businesses from Europe, Asia, Australia, and the USA.