How to start a blog and make money (Free checklist & tutorial walk-through)

A few months ago my brother, who recently graduated from college, was wondering how to start a blog and make money from it. And he asked me how difficult it would be.

This wasn’t the first time someone asked me how to start a blog and make money. Or if I thought you could still start a profitable blog from scratch it these days.

In fact, people ask me quite often how to start a blog and make money all because in 2009, I started a blog that now makes enough money to support me & my family full-time and support my small team too.

Psst: just ready to dive in? Jump directly to step #1 here.

The truth is, figuring out how to start a blog and make money as a blogger has literally changed my life.

WARNING: This is a gigantic post (over 16,000 words long 😮). Track your progress and stay motivated by downloading this free checklist to use as you follow this tutorial.

Having the discipline to start a blog and make money has granted me freedom like I never could have imagined: freedom to work how I want to work, live how I want to live, travel when I want, take long lunches with my children, see my wife way more than ever before, and lots more.

All because, in college, I set out on a mission to figure out how to start a blog and make money from it.

But… I do have to admit, if I was going to start a blog today—with the goal of making money—all over again from scratch, there are definitely some things I would do differently.

The truth is, I learned how to start a blog when blogging was still somewhat of a growing art. Sure, blogs had been around for a while and just about every mom had a blog where she posted pics of her kids on a regular basis.

But cracking the nut on how to start a blog and make money from it…real money? That was way less common.

Back then, knowing how to start a blog took a huge amount of technological skills (which most of us learned on the fly): buying hosting, registering a domain, setting up an email subscription form, adding social media buttons, designing your blog theme, and actually publishing content to your blog was so much more of an ordeal than it is today.

It wasn’t like it is now where it takes you about 2 minutes to register a domain, then with one click, install WordPress and start blogging. It’s so much easier now.

I know that’s a pretty rude thing for me to say.

If you’re asking yourself how to start a blog and make money from it, you’re probably staring down the barrel and thinking:

I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know how to start a blog!

I don’t know where to get hosting—or really what hosting even is, I don’t know how to install WordPress, plus, do I even know what to write about completely!?

I don’t….know….anything….!

But, take a deep breath.

And trust me. You can do this. You can learn how to start a blog and make money from it. And it’ll probably be far easier than you think.

I’m going to walk you through an easy-to-follow in-depth tutorial that will teach you exactly how to start a blog and make money pretty quickly.

Along the way, you’ll be able to easily check off tasks right here on this page or you can download the companion PDF follow-along checklist for free instead.

how to start a blog and make money checklist sample

The overall purpose of this tutorial walkthrough is to help you start a blog that eventually can and will make money for you.

That’s the fun of starting a blog. The world is your oyster right now!

Whether you want to start a blog so you have a place to share your important ideas with the world, some extra cash coming in on the side or just a fun hobby to share with family and friends, learning how to start a blog is perhaps the fastest and best way to build a quality presence online.

And if you want to learn how to start a blog so you can eventually bring in full-time income like me and so many of my friends are doing right now, then you can totally do that too.

We’ll go through the basics of how to start a blog and make money by tackling monetization strategies, content strategies, and growth strategies for your new blog.

So, strap in.

You may want to to pin or bookmark this in-depth tutorial explaining how to start a blog and make money so you can revisit it later.

I should also add, there are some links in this blog post called affiliate links (more about that later on) which means at no extra cost to you, I may make a small commission if you click a link and become a customer. But I never recommend products I haven’t personally tried and are proud to recommend.

Ok, Let’s get started on your blogging journey!

Here’s everything we’ll do as we learn how to start a blog and make money:

Step 1: Name & Claim Your Blog.

Step 2: Setup your blog’s publishing platform.

Step 3: Choose a theme (design your blog).

Step 4: Write your first blog posts.

Step 5: Create your blog’s pillar pages.

Step 6: Add an email subscribe form to your blog.

Step 7: Connect social media buttons.

Step 8: Choose your blog’s business model.

Step 9: Connect all necessary blog analytics.

Step 10: Build a blog growth strategy.

Step 11: Share your blog with everyone.

Step 12: Blog, build, blog, build.

As we go, I’ll answer some commonly asked questions about how to start a blog and make money plus share some other helpful stories, examples, and insights as you continue.

Here we go!

Step 1: Name & Claim Your Blog.

Name your blog

Ok, the first step to start a blog and make money is to actually decide what the name and brand of your site is going to be.

How to start a blog and make money Step 1: Name and Claim Your Blog.

Be warned, many people who aim to start a blog, get stuck on this phase. So stuck they never move ahead. They spend their whole lives brainstorming the name of a blog—paralyzed by the fact they might choose the wrong one.

Don’t let that be you.

I won’t get into the details here, but if it helps you feel better, you can eventually change your blog’s name and web address without any major problems.

So just decide on something!

Since you’re trying to figure out how to start a blog and make money from it (as opposed to writing as a hobby), here are a few things to consider:

Make sure the blog name is available.

Nothing’s worse than falling in love with a blog name only to learn that it’s taken in every form possible. You can use the tool below (or visit Bluehost’s website) to safely check names you’re considering.

When I was first starting my blog, I started checking blog names with a site that, I later learned, stole domain ideas from users. I’ve personally confirmed that Bluehost (below) doesn’t do that.

Check as many as you like and Bluehost will never steal your ideas.

Brainstorm far more names than you think you need to.

If you have the perfect name already, and you’ve confirmed that the domain is available, they, by all means, register it!

But if, like most people trying to figure out how to start a blog and make money, you realize your ideal domain is taken, you’ll need to get brainstorming.

My top piece of advice in this category is to brainstorm way more ideas than you think you need. This will allow you to get past the obvious, the mundane and the (probably) taken.

From there, you can also use tools like NameMesh to mix and match words you’ve brainstormed or words related to your topic.

Match the blog name to the personality of the content you’d like to publish

Part of figuring out how to start a blog and make money is knowing ahead of time what you’ll be blogging about and to whom. Will your content be more helpful, whimsical, long-form, short opinions, etc?

Whatever name you pick should align with the overall mission and tone of the blog.

Make it easy to say, spell and remember

Part of start a blog that actually makes money is making it easy for people to say (think word-of-mouth or podcasts), spell (people will need to type your blog name in their web browser) and remember (many blogs that make money are built on return readers/customers).

Avoid complicated spellings or hard-to-remember strings of words when naming your blog.

Experiment with multiple variations where you shorten or modify the names you like the most.

If your ideal URL is taken, you can make modifications to names you liked that were unavailable. But before you go grabbing weird extensions like .biz or .info, try adjusting the actual blog name instead.

For bloggers who want to learn how to start a blog and make money, should keep in mind that trust is a major factor when it comes to users purchasing something on your site or based on your recommendation.

A 2016 study shows that 70% of people don’t trust new or weird domains as much as they trust .com or .org.

One more option for naming your blog

If you’re still having trouble deciding on what to name your blog, I suggest downloading our workbook & naming guide which will help you work through any remaining questions or concerns you have and ultimately land on a blog name you love.

Claim your blog (registration, hosting, & social media)

Once you’ve got the perfect name for your blog, it’s time to claim it.

Figuring out how to start a blog and make money starts with owning all the intellectual property related to your brand and name.

Here are the steps you should take immediately once you’ve selected a name for your blog.

A. Register your domain

First and foremost, you’ll need to register your domain.

Registration is when you stake claim to a name on the Internet for a certain time period, usually one year. Basically, you pay a fee to a registrar who then gives you permission to use that name for as long as you pay for and renew it.

Hosting (which is step B) is another piece of the puzzle you’ll need to solve. Some registrars (like Bluehost, which I recommend you use) also offer hosting which can be a real time-saver and stress-reliever when you’re learning how to start a blog and make money.

Because I’ve worked so closely with Bluehost in the past, readers of this blog can get a FREE domain registration when they also sign up for hosting (see the next step.)

B. Activate hosting for your blog

After registering your domain, you’ll want to set up some simple hosting.

Because you’re just figuring out how to start a blog, you won’t have much traffic in the beginning (we’ll fix that soon) so all you need is a basic (but quality) hosting plan for your blog.

I’ve used a bunch of different web hosts for various blogging projects and I highly recommend you get started with Bluehost.

They have a really great one-click install for WordPress (the publishing technology I recommend—keep reading…) plus they give you a free domain name and 24/7 support—which can be really helpful as a new blogger who’s learning how to start a blog and make money.

Click here to get your free domain name + hosting for just $3.95/month (most places charge way more than that).

C. Create your blog’s social accounts

Once you’ve got your blog’s registration and hosting out of the way, it’s time to claim your social media accounts.

Since social media may play a big part in starting a blog that makes money, you’ll want all your social channels to match your blog name where possible. They should also match one another so that users don’t get confused or lost.

Currently, in my opinion and experience, the best social media to focus on are (in order of effectiveness in making money as a blogger):

  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin

I’m not saying that in order to start a blog and make money you have to sign up for all of these, but they will come in handy as you network with other bloggers and grow your blog’s traffic and audience.

Step one finished!

Ok, phew. You’ve now conquered a huge part of figuring out how to start a blog and make money.

This is a big deal: You’re the proud new owner of a new blog!

Take a minute to celebrate, grab a cup of coffee and let’s get back to it with your blog’s

Step 1 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Step 2: Setup your blog’s publishing platform.

(Hey! If you’re still reading, but you haven’t actually taken action yet, go back and complete Step one action items before continuing. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.)

Now that you’ve got a shiny new domain name and reliable hosting, it’s time to start building the actual structure of your blog.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 2: Setup your blog’s publishing platform.

I’m not talking about blog posts, or home pages, or photo galleries (but we will get to that soon). No, I’m talking about the actual technology your site is built on.

Imagine your blog as a house that’s undergoing construction.

If your blog posts, pictures, and stories are the décor of the house, and the registration and hosting are the rock foundation of your home, then your publishing platform makes up the walls of your proverbial home.

Too much? Here’s the short of it: your publishing platform will determine what you’ll be able to publish and how easily you can publish it.

As a blogger, you’ll have two primary tasks: write (a lot) and turn your writing into revenue.

You’ll want to select a publishing platform that you feel comfortable with and that can grow with you. This platform is most commonly called a CMS—Content Management System.

So what’s a CMS?

CMS stands for Content Management System. It’s and application, hosted on your blog’s domain, that allows you to create, upload, edit, delete, and manage any blog text or blog images you’ll need in order for the world to read what you publish on your blog.

There are a lot of options for anyone trying to learn how to start a blog and make money, but my absolute #1 recommendation is WordPress.

Why I recommend you use WordPress

There are a few reasons I recommend you use WordPress instead of some other publishing platform. Here are just a few of my top reasons for recommending WordPress:

1. It’s 100% free.

WordPress is open-source. That means that the people who develop WordPress have made it 100% free to use; free to edit; free to change any way you’d like.

This has led to a lot of bloggers tweaking WordPress through what are called Plugins, allowing non-coders who want to make money from their blog to set up a blog quickly they way they want to.

It also means you’ll never pay a single penny to use WordPress (as long as it’s hosted on your own site). When you’re trying to figure out how to start a blog and make money, saving a few extra dollars each month is a big deal.

2. It’s incredibly easy to set up (even if you’re not a tech wizard)

Because WordPress is so popular (and free) many we hosts offer insanely simple one-click installation options.

This means that instead of spending hours and hours (like I had to) trying to set up WordPress on your own domain, you can just click to tell Bluehost (or whoever your host is) that you want WordPress. A few minutes later, BAM, you’ve got it all installed.

It’s all there in just a few moments: the database, HTML, Server-side script, and all the other scary things that (trust me) you do not want to deal with.

If you use this link to sign up for Bluehost, your account will come with a free WordPress setup plus free 24/7 support in case you get stuck along the way.

3. It’s extremely customizable

I have a background in web design. But the truth is: most people on a mission to learn how to start a blog and make money have never learned (nor do they ever want to learn) HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, and the millions of nuances it takes to program a website.

But if you’re learning how to start a blog and make money, you’re going to want to customize some things. You’ll want to test a lot of things to see what’s working and what’s not.

That’s where WordPress is so powerful!

With WordPress, you can tap into hundreds of thousands of plugins created by developers and fellow bloggers. Most plugins are also free—just like WordPress itself.

In addition to plugins, there are millions of blog themes so you can customize your blog’s look with the click of a mouse. There are also premium wordpress themes like Divi or Genesis that will improve your site speed, search engine rankings, and overall site performance.

4. It’s the gold standard for bloggers

While there are a lot of options for bloggers who want to start a blog and make money, none compare in popularity with WordPress.

In fact, according to a study, by 2018, WordPress powered 30% of all the billions of websites on the internet.

Why is this so good for you as you learn how to start a blog and make money?

It’s great for you because there’s an enormous thriving community of developers and bloggers all working on WordPress together. You can Google just about any concern you may have about WordPress and find a very detailed, in-depth response.

In addition, there are countless WordPress developers and troubleshooters you can hire on freelance job sites around the web.

So you’ll never be stuck without a course to find help quickly.

To top it all off, because it’s used by so many people, WordPress isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. You can rest assured all the work you put into your blog won’t end up being wasted because the CMS you selected goes out of business.

Other CMS options aside from WordPress

Of course, such an in-depth tutorial on how to start a blog and make money from it would be incomplete without mentioning a few other content management options.

But, to be fair, these options only work if you’re either (1) willing to give up control and flexibility on your site or (2) you’re a web developer and not afraid of code.

Here are a couple I would suggest looking into if WordPress doesn’t appear to be a good fit for you:

Squarespace

Squarespace is a good option if you don’t mind giving up some flexibility. What Squarespace lacks in functionality and flexibility it makes up for in beauty and support.

It’s definitely good for bloggers who want to figure out how to start a blog and make money because you can add e-commerce (selling) capabilities right to the site.

Ghost

Ghost is a CMS that removes the clutter that sometimes comes with the customizability of something like WordPress. But with its simplicity comes some setbacks. And unless you’re a web developer, it could be hard to get around some of these issues.

Medium

Medium is another clean, elegant CMS for bloggers. It can also offer some amazing distribution which can be extremely powerful when you’re trying to learn how to start a blog and make money from your content.

Most Medium blogs, however, are hosted on Medium’s website which means they control the look, they control your content, and they control who sees it. I would recommend Medium at a later point as a distribution strategy—not as your primary blog.

One last piece of advice for selecting a CMS

If you’re having a hard time knowing what to pick as your site’s Content Management System, here’s some good news:

You can always change it later.

The point of this tutorial is to show you how to start a blog and make money relatively quickly.

That’s never going to happen if you get paralyzed. If you’re not sure, go with WordPress. You can always export your content to another CMS later. Nothing, on the internet, is set in stone.

My recommendation? Click here to get Bluehost’s free domain name + best hosting + one-click WordPress installation + 24/7 Support.

Then move on to deciding how your blog is going to look.

I’ll be continuing this tutorial assuming you went with WordPress as per my recommendation, but be advised that most of what I’ll talk about from here on out can apply to any CMS that allows you to adjust the theme or the design of the site.

Step 2 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Step 3: Choose a theme (design your blog).

Next, it’s time to decide how your blog is going to look.

When you’re attempting to learn how to start a blog and make money as a blogger, the look of your blog is very important.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 3: Choose a theme (design your blog).

People will decide immediately on arrival if they trust you and if they want to stick around to keep reading.

Much of the trust factor comes from your site’s design—or your theme.

Because WordPress is so widely available and so flexible there are an infinite number of WordPress themes available on the Internet.

If you signed up with Bluehost like I recommended, your one-click installation probably even came with some pre-installed themes you can select from.

To see what’s available in WordPress, click Appearance > Themes from your WordPress Dashboard.

From there, selecting a theme is pretty straightforward. The web is replete with plenty of walk-through tutorials on setting up your first theme in WordPress.

My guess is you won’t need them. It’s pretty simple stuff.

What I will include here, however, is my best advice for selecting a quality theme that will help you with your goal to figure out how to start a blog and make money as a blogger.

6 Tips for selecting your first blog theme

Selecting your first blog theme can seem like a lot of pressure. Especially if your goal is to start blogging and make money pretty quickly.

However, keep in mind that due to WordPress’ extreme flexibility and stability, switching a theme at a later date is pretty painless.

Nevertheless, you still want a theme that you can start a blog off confidently with and that can grow with you at least for a few months or a year until you get your blogging feet under you.

If you’re hesitant about picking the perfect blog theme, here’s what I recommend:

1. Keep it simple

It can be tempting to really go all out on the design of your blog. But if you’re serious about cracking the nut and figuring out how to start a blog and make money at the same time, you simply can’t afford to spend weeks and weeks tweaking every little thing about your design.

Remember, readers don’t come to your blog for the design. So don’t start a blog only to focus on the design. Start a blog to focus on the content—the writing. Which we’ll get to here very shortly.

I know of three very talented bloggers who have all taught themselves how to start a blog and make money. All three of them have incredibly simple (and beautiful) blog designs.

Below, you’ll see what I’m talking about:

A. The beautifully simplistic blog design of Paul Jarvis.
B. The simple yet vibrant blog design of Matt Givanisci.

C. The incredibly elegant and simple blog design of Brian Casel.

All three of these bloggers are making health six- or seven-figure incomes from their blogs.

Without the bells and whistles.

Keep your blog simple to start out. You can always add more later.

2. Keep it fast

In addition to keeping your blog design simple, making progress on how to start a blog and make money means your blog needs to be fast.

A slow blog means lost readers, lost customers, and lost revenue. Google may also penalize your site for taking too long to load.

The most common culprits of slow-loading sites include large images (or lots of images), heavy scripts (like embedded social media buttons), videos, audio, and ads.

You can do a lot of things to make your blog extremely fast. Keeping it simple (see above) is a good first step. Choosing a fast theme is also important. From there, you can also use Google Page Speed Insights (free) to see what Google suggests you to do speed up your page.

3. Keep it responsive (mobile-friendly)

Going hand-in-hand with speed these days is the importance of having a blog that is responsive. “Responsive” website design simply means it looks good (and works well) on any device.

Instead of just working on desktop, your readers should be able to access your blog on a tablet or mobile device without any trouble.

The quickest way to ensure your blog is responsive is to simply use a theme that was built to be responsive. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find yourself in a mess of code that you don’t have time to mess with.

4. Keep it optimized

Another key element of a blog that makes money is keeping it optimized for search engines.

The scope of this tutorial on how to start a blog and make money can not possibly include everything you’ll need to know about SEO (search engine optimization) but because many headaches can be avoided later by making good decisions now, I want to include it here.

When selecting a theme, read reviews and feature sets looking to ensure the theme creator was thoughtful about SEO when they created it.

Additionally, you’ll probably want to install the Yoast SEO plugin (free) sooner rather than later so your site structure is set up properly from the beginning.

5. Keep it organized

When selecting a theme do your best to find one that lets you customize your navigation menu (almost all themes do these days). That’ll help you better organize your content as you publish more articles.

6. And finally….just…. Keep it!

The biggest temptation at this stage of learning how to start a blog and make money is to fiddle around with themes forever.

Instead, look through maybe a dozen themes and pick the best one based on the criteria above.

Remember, the point of this tutorial is to start a blog relatively quickly so you can then begin writing content and learning how to make money. Don’t spend more than 30 minutes finding and installing your wordpress theme.

Where to find wordpress themes (free or paid)

There are a few places I recommend you look when hunting for a blog theme template.

First, there are free options. The most straightforward place to look is in the The official WordPress Theme Directory or literally by googling “best free wordpress theme”.

If you’re not finding what you need in a free theme, there are some great premium wordpress theme marketplaces like Theme Forest or Elegant Themes. The nice thing about these premium themes is often there’s a customer support team behind them that can help if you get stuck.

My top recommendation though: start with a free blog theme and then once you’ve figured out how to make money as a blogger, you can upgrade if you need to.

One final, important reminder about selecting (and tweaking) your blog theme.

Setting up your first blog is totally exhilarating. I don’t want to take that joy away from you.

But remember, my job here is to show you how to start a blog and make money quickly.

So here’s my recommendation to you:

Start simple. Add later.

It will undoubtedly be tempting to spend hours selecting the absolute perfect theme. And then customizing every last color. Then adding new logos, and social media buttons.

Before you know it, you’re staying up late, hunched over your laptop, deciding between a left-hand sidebar or a right-hand one. Soon you’re Googling how to move a twitter button two pixels to the left and …wait… why isn’t that image showing up!?!?! and….Daaaahhhh!

Frustration sets in.

You get discouraged.

You give up.

And you never learn how to start a blog and make money from your efforts.

I’ve seen it before. In fact, it has happened to me before. Please don’t let it happen to you.

Instead, start small. Start simple. Remember that no one is even visiting this site (yet) and you can always make important changes later.

The important thing here is to get something online so we can start in on the real work. After all, you’re not a blog designer, right?

You’re a blogger.

Bloggers don’t design websites… they blog.

Step 3 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Step 4: Write your first blog posts.

Finally! You’ve reached a pivotal moment on your journey learning how to start a blog and make money.

After messing with hosting, registration, WordPress, themes, and all those details you can actually do what you set out to do in the first place:

Blog.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 4: Write your first blog posts.

In this step, you’ll write your first blog posts. In this section, I’ll help you understand what you should probably write about, where you should publish it, when you should publish, and other details that will help you as you learn how to start a blog and make money.

What to write about on your blog

Figuring out what to write about on your blog can be a daunting task. Some bloggers who are figuring out how to start a blog and make money have a million ideas on what to write about which leads to decision paralysis and procrastination.

Don’t let that be you.

Others can’t think of a single thing to write about. Hopefully, by selecting the write angle for your blog in the first step of this tutorial you will already have at least some idea of what you’d like to write about on your blog.

The quickest way is to rip the Band-aid off and getting writing your very first blog post.

Don’t overthink it. The truth is, you’ll probably end up going back and re-writing your first blog post eventually anyway.

Writing your first blog post

The easiest thing to write about in your first blog post is probably something like:

Who you are and why you’re starting this blog

It won’t get a ton of search traffic or maybe even a lot of traffic from social media, but this first blog post gives you a good foundation on which you can keep blogging.

Your first blog post can be fairly short and to-the-point, explaining why you’ve staked out this small corner of the internet, what you plan to write about on your blog, and what readers can expect from you in the future.

It’ll also come in handy when you get ready to write your blog’s “about” page—you’ll find that most of the stuff you write in your first blog post can be used well in your about page.

While most people who come to your blog later may never read this post, it can also serve as a great blog post to send people to when you’re trying to network with other bloggers and grow your audience.

Part of learning how to start a blog and make money from your efforts is realizing where you should be spending your time.

Take time to craft your first blog post well, but don’t be paralyzed by the pressure of getting it perfect. You’re not printing a book. You’re writing your first blog post. It can always be edited afterward.

And above all: have fun! You’re officially a blogger now!

Beyond the first blog post

Ok, you’ve written and published your first blog post…. Now what?

In order to continue on the path of learning how to start a blog and make money, you’ll need a bit more content before we can proceed.

You don’t have to sit down and write a bunch of content all in one sitting (although you can), but you will need to write at least a few blog posts before we can move to the next step.

I recommend you write 5-10 blog posts at this stage of your blogging.

Why? Because in upcoming steps, we’ll be inviting people to look at your site and if you only have 1-2 blog posts, people are more likely to assume you don’t know what you’re doing and leave.

We’ll need to come back and really fill out each of these blog posts in the future if you plan to try and bring in search traffic for any of these posts, but for now, keep them fairly short (500-1,000 words should do), interesting, and very focused on the goal you have for your blog.

If you need more ideas, here are 101 blog post ideas that might be helpful.

Step 4 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Step 5: Create your blog’s pillar pages.

At this point you should have a few blog posts published and your website should actually be looking like a blog. Way to go!

In addition to your first blog posts, it’s important to add a few pillar pages to your blog in order to flesh it out, add some trust factor, and include a few important points of functionality.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 5: Create your blog’s pillar pages.

The two pillar pages I suggest you start with are: the About Page and the Contact Page.

1. Your blog’s “About” page

Your “About Me” or “About this Blog” page is perhaps the most important page on your blog.

It’s more than just a fancy place to tell people who you are and post pictures of you and your cat dressed as pirates.

Your About Page can be a powerful place to connect with your readers, establish trust, and encourage readers to take action.

It’s also a great place to encourage readers to become email subscribers or social media followers. More on that to come.

Connect with your readers

First, an About Page is a great place to connect on a more intimate level with your readers. Here, they can learn more about who you are, why you started this blog (remember, you already wrote this in your first blog post) and why they should care.

Depending on the style of your blog, maintain a healthy balance between professionalism and personality here; showing readers who you are but also giving them reason to like you.

Establish trust

Because the entire goal of this tutorial article is helping you see how to start a blog and make money from your blogging, it’s critical to remind you that people only spend money with companies, blogs, or people they trust.

Your About Page is the perfect place to establish trust. You can do that by showing a picture of you and perhaps your friends or loved ones. You can do that by explaining why you’re blogging and what your stance is on your subject matter.

The more human you appear, the more people will trust you.

Encourage readers to take action

Finally, you want to use your About Page to encourage readers to take action.

Did you know, your About Page will most likely be the most visited page on your website. Typically, it’s the first thing people click after reading an interesting blog post you’ve written. That means one thing:

Lots of traffic.

Relatively, it’ll mean a lot of people are looking at your About Page. That means you should take this opportunity to convince them to take action.

What action should they take? Because we’re focusing on how to start a blog and make money eventually, I recommend you encourage them to sign up for your email newsletter (which you’ll have by the end of this tutorial.)

That way, you can send them email updates when you write new blog posts. Studies also show that way more purchases happen due to email marketing than social media marketing.

Alternatively, you could invite them to follow you on Pinterest, Facebook, or other social media.

Overall, the goal is to convert them from a casual site visitor to more of a fan by the text, images and/or videos on your About Page.

2. Your blog’s “Contact” page

Next comes your blog’s “contact” page. Since we’re learning how to start a blog and make money, it’s important for me to point out that eventually this contact page will come in very handy for people looking to sponsor your content, collaborate with you, advertise on your site, or build your revenue in some other way.

But for now, your Contact Page will primarily be used as a tool to, again, establish trust. In order to show your humanity and send trust signals consider including some or all of the following elements:

  • Email address
  • Contact form
  • Social Media links
  • Phone Number
  • Chat module

Since our goal is to move as quickly as possible through each of these steps, I would suggest writing some friendly copy and including your email address for now.

As your site gains traffic, however, you’ll want to remove your plain text email address so you don’t start getting spam from all over the Internet. More on that here.

Step 5 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Step 6: Add an email subscribe form to your blog.

Even better than adding a way blog readers can contact you, one of your top priorities as you figure out how to start a blog and make money is to ensure you have a way to contact your readers.

Sure, social media is very sexy. And we’ll get to adding social media buttons in the next step. But if you’re trying to start a blog and make money from it, email is going to be a critical piece.

Therefore, the best next step in building your blog is adding email subscribe forms.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 6: Add an email subscribe form to your blog.

Why email is superior to social media

There are a few reasons you should prioritize email communication with your readers over social media promotion (notice I didn’t say you shouldn’t use social media, just that it should take less of a priority than email communication).

There are a few simple reasons for that:

1. Email is still the most common denominator

Sure, Facebook and Pinterest have massive reach, but consider this: everyone who signed up for either of those services had to first have an email address.

When something goes wrong with your account on Facebook, how do you find out? How do you recover a password?

That’s right, email.

Despite social media being prolific—it seems everyone has at least one social media account—in reality, more people have email addresses.

In fact, a large study revealed there are an estimated 2.6 billion users with email addresses and only about 1.7 billion users on Facebook. That’s an extra nearly 1 billion people who have email addresses but not facebook accounts.

You have a 99% likelihood that someone visiting your blog has an email address they can give you to receive future updates from your blog.

2. People check their work email as often (or more often) than social media

Depending on your niche, a huge majority of your blog readers will have office jobs where they spend the bulk of their time.

This means, while they might be sneaking a peek at Facebook on their phone during a bathroom break, they’re checking their work email dozens of times every day.

Not only that, but the same study referenced above shows 91% of users engage with email every day, while only 57% of facebook users engage daily. To top it off, nearly 60% of email users say it’s the first thing they check every morning.

Depending on who you target with your blog content, you’ll likely find readers are far more engaged via email than they ever are on social media.

3. Email is a very intimate medium

Consider the difference between receiving an email from someone and seeing someone’s pin or post on social media.

Even if readers know you’re sending your email to hundreds or thousands of readers at once, there’s still a one-to-one intimacy you don’t get on social media.

And with software like Mailchimp or Convertkit, you can even customize the emails you send to include a reader’s name and other preferences.

4. You have more control over email than social media

I’m not going to tell you that you have 100% control over email deliverability (a fancy word for the percentage of people who receive your emails), but it’s infinitely higher than social media.

If you have any friends who have tried to start a blog and make money, maybe you’ve heard them complain about Facebook or Pinterest algorithm changes that completely ruined their traffic.

It happens all the time.

All it takes is one small change for you to completely lose the ability to contact your social media followers. Oh sure, you can pay to reach those readers, but who wants to do that?

To break it down even more, the average email gets delivered to 99.9% of intended addresses with an average of 18% of people opening it. On facebook, the average page delivers each post to 0.07% of their followers.

It’s bad.

With email, as long as you follow the rules and don’t spam anyone, you’re good. And if you use a tool like Mailchimp, they’ll help ensure you follow all the guidelines and rules you need to.

5. People prefer to be “sold” to over email

Since this is a tutorial on how to start a blog and make money as a blogger, we have to take into consideration how likely a reader is to make a purchase from an email vs. from social media.

Again, the study referenced above comes in handy here.

66% of users who make online purchases, make those purchases because of an email they received (compared to only 20% via facebook).

What’s more incredible is, when asked where they prefer to receive promotional messages, 77% of users said they prefer email (compared with an abysmal 4% on facebook).

6. You can put email on autopilot

While there are definitely some tools out there that let you put social media on autopilot, it’s a lot easier for blog readers to see through automated social media tactics than it is for them to know if you manually clicked send on an email message or if it was scheduled ahead of time.

We won’t get into all the dirty details of automation right now, but suffice it to say, email software can be incredibly powerful when it comes to automations.

For example, when someone visits your blog and signs up to receive emails from you, picture sending them an immediate “thank you” response where you charm them and convince them to stick around forever.

Then, 30 days later (after sending them some of your best blog content) you might send them a special offer to buy your ebook. Cha-ching.

The data is pretty clear

It’s no mystery when you look at the data: you should build your blog around an email list.

In fact, I’ve been in this blogging game for a long time and, by far, the #1 regret I’ve heard all (not some, all) successful bloggers tell me is:

They didn’t start building their email list soon enough.

So learn from me and thousands of other bloggers who cared more about pageviews, RSS subscribers, and twitter followers than email subscribers.

RSS is dead. Twitter is dead (in terms of traffic generation). But email is still very much alive.

How & where to add email subscribe forms to your blog

Okay, enough soapboxing on the topic of email marketing. Now it’s time to get back to learning how to start a blog and make money from it.

Our next step: actually installing email subscribe forms.

As I mentioned previously, I recommend you use Mailchimp as you’re getting started. They give you a free account up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 sends/month—which, for a beginning blogger is really a phenomenal deal.

Click here to sign up for Mailchimp.

(PS: Some bloggers claim Mailchimp is outdated, but I still use and love them. If you’d like to try something else a lot of my blogger friends rave about Convertkit too. They’re a little more expensive though.)

Once you’ve signed up for a Mailchimp account, you should read these tutorials on how to set up Mailchimp subscribe forms on your WordPress blog.

There are a few key places your new blog should have email subscribe forms, IMHO:

1. In your blog sidebar

The first, easiest, and most obvious place to insert an email subscribe form on your blog is in the sidebar. In WordPress, you’ll do that using widgets.

The only thing to keep in mind is whether your audience will primarily be reading your content on a desktop/laptop or on a smaller device like a mobile phone.

If most readers will be on desktop, then you’re good to go. If not, then you’ll potentially have a problem since most WordPress themes (or blog designs in general) tend to move the sidebar way down below the article on mobile devices.

We can get around that issue with step 2 below.

PS: If you’re not sure whether people are more likely to use a mobile device or a computer to read your blog, don’t worry. You want the form in the sidebar anyway. And later in this tutorial when we install blog analytics, you’ll be able to see exactly what kinds of devices your readers are using.

2. Somewhere around your blog content

One often-overlooked location to put an email subscribe button on your blog is within or near the content itself (or both).

This can particularly impactful if you can offer a free download of some sort (marketers call this a lead magnet), but don’t worry about getting too fancy quite yet. We can cover more about increasing your number of email subscribers in the actual marketing section toward the end of this tutorial post.

Many professional bloggers who make money blogging have at least one email subscribe form either before, after, or within each blog post itself.

Remember, because we’re using a CMS, this is something you have to set up once—not every time you create a post. If the coding makes you nervous try searching for a WordPress plugin that allows you to add code to different parts of your site.

Once that’s set up, simply copy/paste the code that Mailchimp gives you and you’re ready to go. Good enough for this stage of your blogging journey.

3. All over your “About” page

Another frequently overlooked location for your email subscribe form is your “About” page.

In reality, if you’re trying to figure out how to start a blog and make money from it, then you’ll want to really focus on this one.

Your about page is not just to explain who you are and what your blog is about, it’s actually one of the best places to encourage readers to take action by subscribing via email to future updates.

It can be easy to think the “About” page is about you, the blogger. But smart bloggers and bloggers who make money from their blogs, make their “About” page about their reader.

Instead of: “Here am I; here is my blog; this is what we’re about.”

Think more like: “There you are; You’ve got a question/concern/problem/need; read my blog and I can help you; subscribe for future posts.”

See how that changes everything about your “About” page?

It’s a powerful resource and after tweaking and testing, you’ll land on something that works really well for you.

4. On a “newsletter” page (eventually)

You don’t have to set this up right now, but another critical place to put an email subscribe form on your blog is on a “Newsletter” page. (Here’s mine as an example.)

Your newsletter page is essentially a place to convince readers they should subscribe via email to your blog. That’s its entire job. You can use reader testimonials, share subscriber numbers for social proof, and let readers know what they can expect by subscribing.

Then put a “Newsletter” link in the navigation of your site (in WordPress, use the “Menus” tool in the admin sidebar) and watch people start subscribing.

5. In a tasteful popup or slide-in module

One tactic that’s a bit more advanced but incredibly effective is to create a simple (not overbearing) popup, slide-in, or “welcome mat”.

I’ve seen this work insanely well on my own sites and I’ve heard similar feedback from other professional bloggers.

For example, here’s what my subscriber count looked like when I added my first popup (indicated by the black arrow).

As you can see, it completely changed the trajectory of my subscriber growth.

At the time of writing, I’ve got around 45,000 email subscribers which, you can imagine, does wonders for my monthly traffic and revenue.

As word of caution, Google has warned they may penalize particularly mobile sites that get in the way of the content a user is trying to access.

Later on in your journey of making money from blogging, you’ll want to run tests to determine if your popups negatively impact your search traffic.

For now, as you’re just learning how to start a blog and make money, the value you’ll get from gaining new email subscribers will far outweigh the potential detriment in Google search.

It’s something to keep in mind further down the road.

To further explain each option I mentioned above:

Popups are small windows that appear over the top of your blog posts with an invitation to subscribe to your newsletter.

Many email marketing tools like Mailchimp offer a popup form built right in. If that doesn’t work, there are hundreds of popup plugins for WordPress.

Here’s one example:

Slide-ins are also small windows that appear (usually) at the bottom of the screen when a visitor is reading your blog content.

At the time of writing, I’ve got a slide-in module on this site (maybe you saw it) that works quite effectively.

The nice thing about a slide-in is it’s a bit less intrusive than a popup. It may not collect quite as many emails, but it’s less harmful to your Google ranks and less annoying to your readers.

Here’s my current slide-in (at time of writing):

Welcome mats are full screen modules that usually fall above your site header (the top part with the logo and navigation menu).

Maybe you’ve seen these before. They’re a full-page image with email subscribe form and usually have a little down arrow at the bottom that ultimately takes you to the actual site you wanted to visit.

Here’s what it looks like:

Regardless of what you choose, there are always plugins you can install to test things out. Most quality plugins connect to Mailchimp.

Over time you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. You can experiment with offers, colors, copy (text), and other elements to improve how many new email subscribers you get each month.

For now, take it slow. As you progress on your journey of making money from blogging, you can get more sophisticated.

Step 6 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Step 7: Connect social media buttons.

Now we’re getting somewhere! For someone who, only an hour ago was wondering just how to start a blog and make money, you’re really on the right track! It’s all downhill from here.

The next step involves making it easy for your friends, family, and blog readers to share your content around the web—particularly on social media.

The easiest way to do that is by adding some sort of social media buttons to each blog post.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 7: Connect social media buttons.

Luckily, because we’re set up on a CMS (see step 2) adding something to every past and future post on your blog is incredibly easy.

Eventually, the goal will be to bring traffic to your new blog from search engines like Google or from your email list (more on that in the next step) but in the very early days of your blog, you can get some quick traffic and new readers by making it very easy for your current readers (probably friends and family) to share your new blog posts on social media.

Social Media Follow Buttons vs. Social Media Share Buttons

When I say “social media buttons” I don’t mean follow buttons—the kinds of buttons you might post in your sidebar or on your about page to encourage site readers to follow you on social media. Instead, I mean social sharing buttons.

There are a few ways you can implement this, but I recommend (in the beginning) that you use a social sharing plugin.

Picking the best social sharing plugin for WordPress

For a more in-depth review of some of the best social media sharing plugins for WordPress, you’ll probably want to review this post at a later date, review the options and select your favorite.

For now, I recommend you install the SocialWarfare plugin for WordPress. It’s currently the best, fastest, and cleanest plugin for social sharing buttons that you can get.

SocialWarfare has a great free version and after yous start to make money blogging, you can easily upgrade to their pro version.

I personally love how great SocialWarfare looks on your site. Here’s a peek at what it might look like:

But it’s also very customizable which means you can add (or remove) specific social media outlets based on where you think your content will do best. You can also change the colors, fonts, and button styles or sizes to match your site if you choose to do so.

In the beginning, I recommend you turn off the count totals (unless you already have a large Pinterest following or something) so that your new posts don’t say “1 share”—this is an instant credibility killer.

Social media takes more than buttons

I’m the first to recognize that just adding buttons to your blog won’t automatically mean people start sharing your blog posts all over the internet.

But since our goal is to help you learn how to start a blog and make money relatively quickly, we’ll skip a giant less on social media marketing for now.

Later in this tutorial (after your blog is all set up) we can talk more in-depth about how to actually drive traffic and revenue from social media. For now, setting up the buttons is a good start.

Step 7 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

You did it! You officially started a blog.

You made it! If you were fast enough and followed along closely, not long ago you were wondering how to start a blog and make money from it.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money — You did it!

Well, you’ve done a huge amount of work and completed the first half of your task: starting a blog.

While there will still be tweaks, adjustments, changes, and updates you’ll want to make (that’s just part of being a blogger), you’ve done it.

Take a minute and pat yourself on the back.

Starting a blog is no easy task. Thousands of people try to start a blog every month and end up getting burned out just on the set up.

So you’re winning. Keep it up!

But, like I said, you’re really only halfway through the task at this point.

There’s a lot of really hard (but fun) work ahead of you as a blogger. Now it’s time to work on the second part of learning how to start a blog and make money:

Making money as a blogger

The growth, marketing, sales, and revenue tactics I’ll share with you for the rest of this tutorial will take some time. Unfortunately, they can take months or years to really become good at.

That’s ok though. Blogging isn’t a one-time effort. It’s not a simple check-the-box-and-you’re-finished endeavor.

It’s a lifestyle.

And it’s beyond fun!

So grab a cup of coffee, strap in, and take each section below at your own pace. Use what works for you, disregard what doesn’t work for you, and stay true to who you are as a writer and maker.

Here we go:

How to make money blogging

Before we dive in too deep, it’s important to know just a little bit about how to make money blogging.

Just how do bloggers make money anyway?

Since you’re here because you wanted to learn how to start a blog and make money from it, I’ll assume you have some sort of idea, vision, or—at least—a guess as to how your fellow bloggers make money (did you catch that? “Fellow blogger.” That’s you. Eek!)

Maybe you’ve seen a little “advertise here” box on a blog you read frequently and started doing the math to realize your favorite bloggers are raking in a couple thousand dollars a month.

That’s what happened to Courtney—and now she’s making over $500K/year with her blogging.

Perhaps you’ve listened to interviews like this one with Michelle Schroeder-Gardner who makes over a million dollars annually from her blog. You’ve thought: hmm, I could worth with affiliates like Michelle does and figure out how to make money blogging like her.

Regardless of what you already know about how to make money blogging, trust me there’s always more you don’t know.

Every few weeks, I come across a fellow blogger who has figured out how to start a blog and make money in a new and creative way.

When it comes to learning how to make money blogging, the possibilities are endless—which is what makes it so much fun.

Here are the 5 most common ways I’ve personally seen people figure out how to start a blog and make money online:

  • Advertising
  • Sponsorships
  • Affiliates
  • Products (digital or physical)
  • Donations

Of course, there are zillions of other ways to make money blogging such as using a blog to build credibility in order to land speaking gigs which you can then charge for.

Consider authors who blog for years in preparation to release a book—which they then sell through a publisher and make money.

Many businesses with pre-existing business models also use blogging as a way to drive awareness and customer acquisition.

The possibilities for making money from a blog are endless.

Of course, these 5 methods are not even close to exhaustive. They happen to be some of the easiest ways to make money blogging and definitely the most common solutions I’ve seen beginning bloggers use.

Advertising as a way to make money blogging

This one is perhaps the most obvious—and most used way to make money blogging.

Why? Because when you’re first trying to figure out how to start a blog and make money, you’re thinking very heavily like a blogger—instead of a business person.

So you ask yourself: How can I write more and get paid for it?

Aha! Advertising.

I’ll admit, it’s how I first started learning how to make money blogging.

I still remember when I approached my dad and tried to explain to him that I would simply write things on my blog and then people would gladly pay to put their advertisements next to the things I was writing.

Brilliant, I thought!

And it has worked for me a bit, I’m not going to lie.

But when it comes to learning how to make money blogging more seriously, advertising is definitely not your best option.

Pros & Cons of making money from blogging via advertising

There are definite advantages to learning how to start a blog and make money via advertising.

It’s pretty hands-off. You can sign up for a marketplace who will book ads for you and then take a percentage of your sales. All you have to do is keep writing and growing your traffic.

Conversely, if you’re serious about figuring out how to start a blog and make money….I mean real money… you should know that to make any substantial amount of income from advertising requires a lot of traffic to your blog.

Like, millions of visits every month.

Most blogs who rely wholly on advertising (and make enough to support one or more employees) are owned and run by large companies who work full-time to build tons of traffic to their site.

While advertising is a good way to make a little extra money blogging, in my experience, you’ll need more than that if you’re going to excel in your journey of learning how to start a blog and make money enough to support yourself.

Using sponsorships to make money as a blogger

In some ways, “sponsorships” is just a fancy word for “advertising.” But, there are some definite stand-out differences that make it a really good option for anyone trying to make money blogging.

Because our goal here is learning how to start a blog and make money, it’s important to note that simply changing your mindset from “advertising” to “sponsorships” can increase in added revenue quite quickly.

While advertising tends to be done in small spends that are less integrated into your blog content or audience, sponsorships are typically larger purchases and cost more because they are more closely tied to your content and audience.

Picture, for example, the difference between seeing an ad in the sidebar of a blog (advertising) vs. your favorite blogger sending a dedicated email recommending a product.

Which are you more likely to see? To pay attention to? To act on?

Most likely, the sponsorship.

Pros & Cons of using sponsorships to make money blogging

There are a lot of advantages to attempting to figure out how to start a blog and make money from sponsorship revenue.

In fact it’s how I made enough money from blogging to eventually take my blog full-time when I was downsized out of my day-job.

The good news is influencer marketing is on the rise which means companies see the value of partnering with trusted bloggers to promote their products and services.

If you do a good job, help produce a positive ROI for your sponsor, such relationships can develop into long-term partnerships that are very lucrative for both of you.

One of my first (and biggest) sponsors ended up staying with me for over 3 years and bringing me nearly $100,000 over the course of those years.

Multiply that by 3-7 more sponsors and you can see why this is a good solution for anyone learning how to start a blog and make money.

Unfortunately, however, finding sponsors, booking sponsors, working with and managing sponsors can all be very time-consuming.

In order to continue working on making money from my blog, I had to hire a sponsorship manager to help me take care of the day-to-day management that a sponsorship model requires.

Partnering with affiliates to make money as a blogger

In a similar vein to advertising and sponsorship is an extremely popular way of learning how to make money blogging:

That’s working with affiliates.

An affiliate is (at its most basic) a company willing to share a portion of its sales revenue with you as you send them new customers.

It’s an extremely common for people learning how to start a blog and make money because it can be quite lucrative. Million-dollar bloggers like Pat Flynn swear by it as affiliate marketing continues to thrive.

At the time of writing this tutorial post, my friend Ryan Robinson makes somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000/month just from one affiliate partner.

Pros & Cons of partnering with affiliates products to make money blogging

The reason affiliate marketing is so common (and so lucrative) is because there’s little risk incurred by either party. Unlike an advertiser or sponsor, affiliates don’t give you any money unless you make a sale.

Its biggest benefit, however, can be its biggest drawback. Because so many factors related to conversion (getting blog readers to buy your affiliate’s product) are out of your control, you could spend lots of time, effort and goodwill with your readers attempting to promote products that just don’t convert.

Leaving you with nothing to show for it.

If you think you’d like to explore how to make money blogging through affiliates, do your best to pick a few strong affiliate candidates with high fees (I try to do 30% or higher). For more reading on affiliates, try this.

Selling products (physical or digital) as a way to make money from your blog

There is one major fallacy when it comes to the first three methods of learning how to start a blog and make money which I listed above. It’s this:

If advertisers, or sponsors, or affiliates can all afford to pay you as a blogger, then it would stand to reason that they are making more money than you are selling their products.

Which is why so many professional bloggers (the ones that have figured out how to start a blog and make money enough to quit their day job)

Pros & Cons of selling products to make money as a blogger

The good news is you definitely stand to have higher profit margins and higher overall revenue as a blogger when you sell your own products.

At the same time, there’s potentially quite a bit more work and responsibility for bloggers just learning how to start a blog and make money.

When you promote an affiliate or you run advertising or sponsorships, you’re sending your readers to other companies who some then become customers for.

But you’re almost never on the hook to answer customer service questions for your sponsors or affiliates. Once the transaction happens, your work is over. You collect a payment. And you move on.

Learning how to start a blog and make money can already be a daunting task. And while building rapport with customers and growing a legitimate customer base can be fun and rewarding, it also comes with a lot of extra work.

Perhaps the best reason to sell products as a way to make money blogging is this: you don’t need a huge audience to make it successful.

Even if you only have a few hundred or a few thousand people who are big fans of what you’re working on, you can usually sell a few products every week. If you can figure out the right marketing, the right messaging, and the right price, selling your own products can be a great first step on your journey of learning how to start a blog and make money.

Soliciting donations as a way to make money blogging

Finally, many people learning how to start a blog and make money have resorted to asking for donations.

You might have seen this with much larger sites like Wikipedia. Every 6 months, they put an alert at the top of each article reminding you that Wikipedia is 100% free to the public and asking you to donate.

The process is similar to a fund drive for your local public radio station or television station.

Many bloggers or podcasters learning how to make money blogging or podcasting use a site called Patreon to solicit donations. With Patreon, you can request donations based on how often you create.

For example you might ask for a new donation for every blog post you write or newsletter you send.

But you don’t necessarily need Patreon to solicit donations. Instead, you could set up a simple PayPal button.

Some bloggers also offer prizes for anyone who donates. For example, if you donate $10 or more, you get prize A. If you donate $100 or more, you get prize B, etc.

If you choose to go that route, keep in mind any costs associated with the prizes and be prepared to factor that into your business expenses.

Pros & Cons of using donations to make money blogging

There are a lot of good reasons to solicit donations from your readers as a way to make money blogging. Not the least of which is the freedom it gives you to just blog and grow for the better portion of a year before you run a donation blitz.

Many bloggers who have moved on from learning how to start a blog and make money and now, instead, make a full-time living as a blogger, use this as their primary form of revenue. And they make their entire year’s salary in just a few days or weeks each year.

I used to have an automation (again, you can use Mailchimp for something like this) that sent an email to anyone who had be subscribed to my blog’s email list for one year. I knew that after 1 year, I had delivered all sorts of value. So I asked for a donation.

It went well, but I ultimately closed it down in favor of more successful ways of making money as a blogger.

Conversely, putting all your faith in the goodwill and kindness of your readers can be a risky business move. It can also be slow-going as you’re learning how to start a blog and make money.

If someone donated the previous month or year, they may be less likely to donate again, meaning if you want consisted revenue as a blogger, you’ll have to grow fast.

It all comes down to testing

At the end of the day, when you’re on a mission to learn how to start a blog and make money, there’s no wrong answer.

It depends on you, your blog, your blog audience and the data.

Run tests, see what works, and do more of that.

How you make money blogging is 100% up to you. Don’t let anyone else tell you it has to be done a certain way. For as many different blogs are out there, I doubt that any two of them are making money the exact same way as another.

Step 8: Choose your blog’s business model.

Now that you have a general idea on the basics of how bloggers make money, the very first thing I recommend you do is choose a business model.

While that may feel a bit premature, I’ve found in my many years of blogging and coaching other bloggers that if will help inform every decision you make from this point on.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 8: Choose your blog’s business model.

It will help you set up your blog analytics (which we’ll do soon), it’ll affect how and when you share your content, it’ll affect when and what you write, and it’ll affect a lot of other aspects of learning how to start a blog and make money from it.

You’re not stuck with anything

As I mentioned above, remember: this all comes down to testing. Which means you’re not stuck with any particular method for making money from your blog.

You’re just getting started on this quest to learn how to start a blog and make money which means you have your whole blogging life in front of you.

My advice is to simply pick a business model that sounds the most interesting to you and get started.

Don’t let the fear of picking the wrong blog monetization strategy paralyze you. Instead, just start. Try something out and move forward.

If it doesn’t work, try something else until something sticks.

But you’re young in your blogging. You certainly don’t have to commit for the rest of your blogging life right this moment.

In fact, when I started blogging (I mean after years of not really having a business model for my blog), I started with some simple advertising.

After that, I experimented with selling some of my own digital products (ebooks and guides). Eventually I moved into sponsorships and then a membership program and select affiliate partners.

Now, my blog has a healthy blend multiple business models (diversification can be a good thing to strive for when you’re learning how to start a blog and make money) which keep me happily employed.

The moral of the story: you’re not stuck with any one blogging business model. Things will change and that’s ok. Roll with it.

“Being Patient” is not a business model

When you’re new and just beginning to learn how to start a blog and make money, you’ll hear this advice from a lot of people:

“Just be patient. Write great content and the money will follow.”

I have personally found this (terrible) advice comes from one of two kinds of people:

  1. Bloggers who have become successful but really have no idea how they got there (or at least they’re incapable of recognizing how they actually got there).
  2. People who have no idea what it takes to actually figure out how to start a blog and make money from it.

I probably don’t have to tell you this, but you really shouldn’t be listening to either of these kinds of people.

No, if you want your blog to be a business, you have to treat it like a business.

You would never ever start a business by renting a little brick building on main street, putting up a cute sign and then hoping people come in, tell you what they want, and maybe one day somehow give you money because they love you so much.

No way.

So why do so many people do the equivalent of that when it comes to learning how to start a blog and make money!?

Maybe they don’t know any better.

That will not be you. Not if I have anything to say about it.

Step 8 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Step 9: Connect all necessary blog analytics.

There’s a quick step I want us to side-step into here on our journey of learning how to start a blog and make money. That’s connecting all the necessary blog analytics.

This is the perfect moment to connect everything because you should at this point have a business model in mind.

You should also have a blog completely set up and ready to move forward.

Analytics should be the glue that combines your beautiful new blog with your ambitious new business model.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 9: Connect all necessary blog analytics.

Why I recommend Google Analytics

To measure most of what happens on your blog on a daily basis, I recommend you use Google Analytics. Here are a few reasons why:

It’s well-maintained

The last thing you need as a new blogger trying to learn how to start a blog and make money is for your blog to jam up and completely break.

Unless you (or someone you know) also happen to be a developer, this can be extremely discouraging.

Google, as one of the most proficient technology companies on the planet, does a fantastic job at upkeeping and maintaining the code that Google Analytics runs on. Which means less time stressing about potentially broken code and more time blogging and making money.

It’s accurate (mostly)

For the most part, the data you get back from Google Analytics is accurate. Or at least, it’s as accurate as you need it to be. Particularly when you’re just getting started in this world of blogging.

Having accurate data is critical since your goal is learning how to start a blog and make money and you can’t do that without accurate analytics at your fingertips.

While some larger companies prefer an approach they may call “more complete,” for most bloggers, Google Analytics works extremely well. As Google continues to develop the product, even the biggest sites are beginning to see its advantages.

It’s fairly intuitive

Depending on how often you use tools on the Internet, Google Analytics is quite intuitive.

Particularly for bloggers who have used other Google tools before (from Google Drive to Google Photos), you’ll find many of the critical elements are used the same way.

This is all part of Google’s goal to build a cohesive standard across all their properties.

I’m not saying that for new bloggers trying to figure out how to start a blog and make money you’re going to automatically be a Google Analytics genius. But it’s intuitive enough that, with a bit of time and maybe a few Google searches, you’ll get the hang of it.

It’s very common

Finally, Google Analytics is perhaps the most common analytics solution for bloggers and website owners that there is.

Why does this matter? I mean, if all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you do it too?

It matters because with so many users, comes a lot of questions and extremely helpful answers. There’s an enormous community of Google Analytics users out there filling the internet with helpful (usually free) answer to tough questions and other how-tos.

So if you ever get stuck or can’t figure out how to do something in Google Analytics, just Google it and you’ll be swamped with help.

Once you’ve got your analytics tool in place, it’s time to start thinking bigger by focusing on your business model and strategy.

Step 9 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Step 10: Build a blog growth strategy.

Let’s agree on this right now: You’re going to be different from most bloggers.

Most people who attempt to learn how to start a blog and make money never stop to consider their actual growth strategy.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 10: Build a blog growth strategy.

They just start blogging, writing about anything that catches their fancy. And because of this fallacy, many bloggers write for years before they ever get any traction.

Or when something does take off, they’re not sure why or how to replicate it. So they experience a high for a few days while traffic and revenue look good and then they come crashing back down wondering why learning how to start a blog and make money can possibly be so difficult.

Undoubtedly, you’ll see much quicker success in making money from your blog if you can focus first on building a growth strategy.

A solid growth strategy for your blog should include details in two key areas:

  1. Traffic/Audience Growth
  2. Revenue Growth

That’s it. It’s not complicated.

Making money as a blogger is not rocket science. But you do need a plan.

“Build an audience and then figure it out” is not a plan

A lot of bloggers will tell you the best way to start a blog and make money from it is to just focus on building your audience first and then the rest will sort itself out.

While that definitely can work, it’s a significantly slower road than starting out with a smart growth plan for your blog in the first place.

Often, this advice is given by (1) people who don’t have a very successful blog. Maybe they’ve figured out how to make a little money blogging, but it’s taken years and mostly happened by sheer dumb luck.

Or (2) people who started blogging a decade ago when the so-called “blogosphere” was significantly less crowded and making money from your blog was potentially less complicated.

If you truly care more about building an audience—getting your ideas out there, sharing your opinions, making your voice heard—then by all means, build an audience.

My guess is, though, that you want to learn how to start a blog and make money fairly quickly.

For that, building your audience before you monetize is not the best option.

Build an audience while you build revenue

Bloggers who are serious about making money should work on both building an audience and building revenue at the same time.

When learning how to start a blog and make money, some bloggers may try to convince you that you need 100,000+ readers or 50,000+ email subscribers in order to make money from your blog, they’re wrong.

I’ve met and worked with loads of bloggers who have a modest following and are still able to make quite a nice amount of money through their blogs.

Coming back to my original strategy plan for you, then? We’re going to build a strategy based on two things at the same time.

  1. Traffic/Audience Growth
  2. Revenue Growth

Make a plan to grow your blog audience & traffic

There are millions of ways to grow your blog audience and traffic.

Literally.

I just typed in “how to get more blog traffic” in Google, and it came back with this:

About 1,080,000,000 results (0.52 seconds)

That’s just insane. Needless to say, there are no shortages of ideas on ways to grow your blog.

While making a never-ending list of possible tactics falls far outside the scope of this tutorial article, I’d like to teach you how to fish when it comes to growing your blog, as opposed to giving you just a simple fish.

So the question(s) you’ll need to ask yourself as you start building a strategic blog growth plan are:

Which blog growth tactics are most effective in my niche?

Not all industries or niches are created equal. I have worked at, started, built, and killed many blogs in my life.

Not a single one of them worked the same.

In fact, I built one blog to over 50 million annual visitors using primarily social media. But when I tried to utilize those same tactics on another one of my sites, it proved a gigantic failure.

For highly visual content (like food blogs, DIY blogs, design blogs, etc) Pinterest will do wonders.

For tactical, how-to blogs, SEO (search engine optimization) might be the right ticket.

For more news-oriented content or content with a “viral” nature to it, Facebook might be your best bet.

Either way, I suggest you start with the tools you see others in your niche using most effectively. When you’re learning how to start a blog and make money, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel in the early stages.

If most of the people in your niche have a huge Pinterest presence, start there. If they seem to have a big email list, try that.

I’d recommend trying no more than 2-3 methods in the beginning and adding methods (if necessary) as you go.

When you’re learning how to start a blog and make money, people may try to convince you that you have to get set up on all major social media platforms.

While having some sort of identity or presence on all the primary networks is fine, many bloggers burn out trying to feed the endless need of new content these platforms demand.

Instead, stay focused on just a few and measure if they help you grow your audience or not.

Which blog growth strategies best fit my personality and work style?

I have to assume at least part of the reason you want to learn how to start a blog and make money as a blogger is because it sounds fun.

If that’s true, then don’t make the big mistake so many people make of choosing a growth strategy that doesn’t fit your own personality and work style.

If you never read email from other blogs, maybe starting out with an email list to grow your blog isn’t the best route.

If you hate designing graphics, Instagram and Pinterest are going to be your worst nightmare.

In the beginning, you have limited resources and time. So lean into whatever you’re good at, whatever you enjoy, and whatever makes you want to keep going. Perhaps the top reason bloggers fail is because they don’t keep going.

Which blog growth methods align best with my revenue strategy?

Finally, your blog growth strategy should align very closely with your revenue strategy.

It may be worth taking time to learn how other bloggers are finding success. There’s no shortage of podcasts and written interviews with bloggers who have figured out exactly how to start a blog and make money enough to support their lifestyle.

For example, most bloggers I talk to who are making money selling their own products rely heavily on their email list to make most of their sales. Social media and SEO work nicely as a way to get people familiar with their brand and their blog. But when it comes time to make a sale, they depend on their email list.

Conversely, I know some bloggers who couldn’t live without Instagram to grow their blog revenue. They sell sponsorships on the blog with additional exposure on Instagram making it a critical piece of their revenue.

In the next step, you’ll make a plan to grow your blog’s revenue. It may be worth revisiting this section after you complete your revenue plan.

Make a plan to grow your blog revenue

Let’s not forget, we’re learning how to start a blog AND make money. All to often bloggers get carried away with learning how to start blogging, blogging their hearts out, growing their audience, and then… oh yeah…. what about the money?

But remember: you’re different.

From day one, I want you to build a strategic plan to make money as a blogger.

That doesn’t mean every little piece of the plan has to be completely fleshed out. Or that it all has be to working seamlessly from day one.

The biggest reason to make a plan from day one is so you don’t lose sight of your goal: to actually make money as a blogger.

I fear, if you don’t make a plan from the outset, you’ll do what so many other bloggers have done and end up 2 years down the road with a few readers and no idea how to monetize what ltitle traffic you do have.

We can do better than that.

Ideas for making money as a blogger

In order to get your wheels turning, let me share a list of specific ways I’ve personally seen bloggers make money (or that I’ve used myself):

The expert

Write thoroughly researched content on your site, setting yourself up as an expert which can leverage future speaking opportunities, book deals, or consulting jobs.

The influencer

Build followers and subscribers to a high enough level that companies will pay to sponsor the content you’re producing (these numbers often don’t have to be as high as you think).

The media company

Focus on building traffic, pages-per-visit, and time-on-site then partner with an advertising technology company to serve ads when visitors come to your blog.

The educator/teacher

Write blog posts that deliver huge amounts of value, solving real problems for your readers. Solve related problems in a course or ebook which you sell to your readers.

The coach/consultant

Create sales funnels which encourage users to first subscribe, then purchase smaller products and ultimately purchase large courses or coaching packages.

The affiliate

Write helpful content that solves a problem for your audience and find a company with a reputable affiliate program who further solves one portion of your reader’s problem. As users click through from your article to your affiliate partner, you collect a commission.

The community-builder

Create a premium section or membership site to your blog. Provide some of your content for free while you offer premium content and other resources for a monthly fee.

The maker

Write about the processes you follow to create something artistic or interesting. Then sell the things you make. Examples include designers, quilters, painters, or jewelry makers.

The public servant

Write extremely helpful content and, once or twice a year, as your readers to donate in order to keep your blog financially viable.

You don’t have to select just one…

Obviously, in order to start making money from your blog, you don’t have to choose just one.

On this blog alone, I’ve experimented with advertising, sponsorship, product sales, courses, coaching, donations, affiliates, memberships, and probably more.

As we test, we learn and either put more fuel into an idea, let it run as-is on autopilot or drop it altogether.

Because you’re just figuring out how to start a blog and make money, I would suggest you start slow. Pick one or two options that interest you and test them out.

None of these suggestions will make you rich overnight and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. Take inventory of the kind of blog you’re starting, the kind of work you enjoy, how you feel comfortable making money, and then pick a few and get started.

(As a reminder, you may want to revisit the “Make a plan to grow your blog audience & traffic” section and make sure your traffic/audience plans align well with your revenue plans.

Step 10 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Step 11: Share your blog with everyone.

Whew…are you exhausted? You should be. You’ve worked really hard.

Figuring out how to start a blog and make money is no easy task, but you’ve rocked it. And now it’s time to tell the world about it.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 11: Share your blog with everyone.

Is it perfect? No. But if you wait until everything is perfect on your blog, you’ll probably never share it with anybody.

And if you never share it with anybody, you’ll never get traffic to your blog.

If you never get traffic to your blog, you’ll never make money as a blogger.

Everything starts with sharing.

Who you should (and shouldn’t) share your blog with

When you have a brand-new blog, there are certain people you will want to share your new blog with and other people you may want to hold off on for a bit.

Here are some people you should share your new blog with:

DO share your blog with family, friends & coworkers

Sharing your new blog with a small, intimate group of family, friends, and coworkers will give you a nice small sample size of people to test the new blog with.

Ask for honest feedback, but keep in mind they’ll probably sugar-coat the feedback because they like you.

DO share your blog with new and fellow bloggers (around your size)

Networking with new bloggers and blogs only slightly bigger than yours can be a great way to get honest and helpful feedback—not to mention a good way to build mutually beneficial relationships that can pay huge dividends in the future.

A great way to network with other bloggers is to offer to write guest content for their blog as well.

DON’T share your blog with huge bloggers/influencers (yet)

While sharing your content with bigger bloggers is definitely something you want to do in the future, I’d recommend not sharing it when you’re still brand-new.

Even if your content is really great, you want to stand out from the millions of people learning how to start a blog and make money by showing you’re serious about this whole blogging thing.

Once you have a decent number of quality articles (maybe 25-30) you can—and should—start reaching out to larger, more influential bloggers in order to offer them value and eventually see if they’d be willing to collaborate in some way.

Step 11 To-do list

Complete these mission-critical tasks before moving on to the next section.

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Step 12: Blog, build, blog, build.

Now that you’ve made it this far in learning how to start a blog and make money from it, it’s time to hunker down and do the real day-to-day work that professional (meaning you get paid for it) bloggers do.

That’s a lot of writing. And a lot of building.

How to Start a Blog and Make Money Step 12: Blog, build, blog, build

Write something great for your own blog.

Build a relationship with a reader.

Write something fantastic for another blog.

Build a relationship with a fellow blogger.

Try a certain kind of content.

Check analytics to see what people like and what they don’t like.

Write more.

Build more.

As you follow this process, you’ll continue to get smarter and better at blogging. You’ll adjust your traffic strategy, your audience strategy, your revenue strategy.

If you’re persistent, you’ll be successful.

Step 12 To-do list

Note: These checkboxes will reset if you leave this page. Instead, track your progress and stay motivated by downloading the free one-page checklist:

Your new life as a blogger

Congratulations! You are officially a blogger. Hey there, fellow blogger, I’m lookin’ at you!

I’m really proud of you. Here’s what you can expect in your new life as a blogger:

You’ll have a lot of fun

Hopefully, you first wanted to learn how to start a blog and make money not just as a way to bring in some extra cash, but also because it sounded fun. Don’t forget that as you go along.

For most bloggers (and I’ll assume for you too) blogging isn’t all about making money. It’s about having a voice—a way to share your influence with the world.

The most fun I’ve experienced are moments when I get to really, truly make an impact on someone’s life through my blog. Even better that I’m able to make a living doing it.

You’ll have some frustration and heartache

If you don’t experience a little bit of frustration or disappointment as you learn how to start a blog and make money then you should go buy a lottery ticket because you’re the most lucky person I know.

Anything worth having or doing in this world doesn’t come without some roadblocks, some frustration, and some difficulty. If you push through, I can almost guarantee you it will be worth it.

As you keep a big-picture, long-term mentality and remain positive, you’ll find your efforts pay off in both satisfaction and revenue.

You’ll meet a lot of really cool people

If you do it right, you’ll meet a lot of great people as you learn how to start a blog and make money from it.

This is probably the #1 thing I wish I had done differently as I started building a blog over a decade ago. I met a few people and networked with a few readers.

But as I’ve gotten much better at reaching out to (and adding value to) other bloggers, other entrepreneurs, readers, I have found the entire experience more satisfying and I’ve grown my blog and business much faster.

You’ll learn a lot about yourself

It’s virtually impossible not to learn a lot about yourself personally and professionally as you learn how to start a blog and make money—and as you continue blogging for the rest of yoru life.

You’ll refine your voice and your ability to take ideas and put them onto a page in a way that resonates with other human beings. That process alone offers countless lessons about who you are, who you want to be, and where you fit in your small corner of the world.

Because you’re learning how to run a blog as a business, you’ll also learn a lot about what you like or dislike about business. You’ll learn what aspects make you comfortable or uncomfortable when it comes to money and sales.

You’ll learn how to stretch yourself. How to work hard. How to find enjoyment in your work and loads more about who you are and how you do business.

You’ll be happy (I hope)

Most of all, I really hope you find happiness and satisfaction as you learn how to start a blog and make money from it over the long haul.

That’s not to say blogging doesn’t have it’s challenges (I’ve already covered that) but, in my experience and the experience of dozens of other bloggers I’ve personally worked with, the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

Blogging has changed my life, literally. It comes off a bit cliché, but it’s true.

10 years ago, when I first started blogging, I was a poor college student working on an experiment with a design blog.

Today, that blog has become a part of who I am. It has grown to serve thousands of readers every day. It has allowed me and my family the kind of lifestyle we’ve always wanted:

First, it gave us some incredible side-income to help with savings and buying a house.

Now, it supports me and my family full-time, not to mention my incredible team without whom I couldn’t have done half the work we’ve done.

The blog you’re reading right now is that very blog. This year, it turns 10 years old. And I can’t picture my life without it.

But enough self-indulgence.

As for you, I wish you only the very best as you continue to learn how to start a blog and make money from it. Stick with it. Have fun. And go out there and crush it!

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About Preston D Lee

Preston Lee is the founder of Millo where he and his team have been helping freelancers thrive for over a decade. His advice has been featured by Entrepreneur, Inc, Forbes, Adobe, and many more. Connect with Preston on Twitter.

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