Complete Guide on How to Start a Blog

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Reading Time: 33 minutes

If you’re new to blogging, our in-depth guide will walk you through the process of starting a successful blog!

I’ve been a blogger since 2012 and I am still learning new things about the process.

In this guide on how to blog, I’ll show you what I’ve learned over the past 8 years.

The best part about blogging is how cheap it is to get started. For the cost of a cup of coffee once a month, you can create and run a blog from anywhere in the world.

The guide is broken down into sections. Click on the link to jump to the appropriate section.

  1. Why Should You Blog?
  2. What Should You Blog About?
  3. How To Create Your Blog
  4. How To Make Money With Affiliate Income
  5. How To Make Money by Freelancing and Advertising
  6. Why You NEED TO Build An Email List – And How To Do it!
  7. How To Write Great Content
  8. How To Grow Your Blog And Audience
  9. The Resources I Use For My Blog
  10. How To Grow Your Following

#1 Why Should You Blog?

I started blogging in the spring of 2012. I started it because people in my yoga studio kept asking me where I got my activewear from.

I started writing reviews about activewear and 8 years later, I am a well known activewear and wellness blogger.

Why would anyone want to blog? There are plenty of reasons. It’s still a great time to get started. Check out this list and see some of the reasons why.

1. It’s fun and rewarding

Blogging is fun. I get to write about the things I enjoy and I meet people online who share similar interests. They become my friends!

When I decided to start blogging in 2012, I didn’t know that I would meet an amazing community of like-minded people and help them along the way. Here is a list of why I love blogging:

  • I get to help people with their problems.
  • I get to work with awesome brands and organizations.
  • I get to travel and not worry about actually working!

I love being able to make a difference for people around the world. My blog has allowed me to do totally that from my laptop with a reliable internet connection.

2. You’ll make new friends

I have made so many new friends I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s amazing! Relationships might start out as comments on a post, connecting on Facebook groups, or via an email.

My virtual friends end up becoming people I talk to on a daily basis. Sometimes we even hang out in person! I love it when I run into familiar faces at conferences too.

As a blogger, there will be times you will feel alone. And then there are times where you find someone who also likes the same things you do.

When you start blogging about your passions, other people with the same passions will find you and connect with you. And because of your common interest, you quickly form a bond.

Blogging is a great way to meet like-minded people who share your hobbies, values, and goals.

3. You’ll learn new things

I am a life-long learner. When I find something I am interested in, I will dive deep and learn it inside and out.

While my blog is mostly about activewear, I’ve discovered that I can become an expert on so many topics! The possibilities are endless.

No matter what subject you pick to write about, there are new things to discover. Writing is just putting your thoughts on paper where you can have an opinion, observation, or just ask questions.

There is no need to become a specialist when it comes to learning. Everything you want to know is available online.

4. You’ll challenge yourself

I had major imposter syndrome when I started blogging. I felt I knew absolutely nothing. And maybe I did?

I kept at it and now I am a pretty well-known activewear reviewer. People from all over the world come to my little site to learn more about activewear and healthy living. I was even able to partner with one of my favorite brands, lululemon and Carbon38.

Blogging is a way to break through the limiting beliefs that are holding you back from experiencing your best life.

Getting out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there was the best decision I ever made.

5. You can grow a business

And when your blog grows, so does your business! I started making $0 on my blog and now earn over a living wage each month.

I’ve also been able to go on press trips, get sponsored posts and so much more.

6. You can save on business expenses and taxes

Blogging is a business. When you make money from it, you become a business owner.

There is a different tax code for business owners, and the benefits are HUGE.

Now I do not claim to be a tax expert (I am probably compared to you, but I’m not going to do your taxes). I’ve been a small business owner since 2000. The number of deductions you can take if you own a business compared to a non-business owner is incredible.

Because I have a home office, I deduct 10% of all my utilities as a business expense (my office makes up 10% of the size of my house).

If you run your business expenses through a credit card, you can accumulate points for free benefits. I have used my points to travel for free.

You can end up with thousands of dollars in deductions.

I do want to point out there are IRS rules for having a legitimate business. I won’t get into them here. Bottom line – if you start a blog, and your blog starts making money – you have a business.

Seek out a tax expert so you can take advantage of the tax benefits of being a small business owner.

7. You have something to say

That’s right – you have something to say! Everyone does.

Right now you might be wondering – what should I blog about?

It might take a few posts and even years before you find your groove, but if you stick to it, it’ll be rewarding.

8. To have financial freedom

While this guide is about how to make money blogging, money is just a tool to achieve your life goals.

People can tell in your writing if you are passionate about something. You could make a lot of money blogging about fashion for example. But if you aren’t fashionable or don’t care much for fashion, you’re much less likely to succeed. And you want to succeed, right?

There are dozens of things I could have blogged about and made a lot more money, but I like helping people know exactly what to expect with products.

Blogging is a path to financial freedom. Like any other job, it will take time and effort. However being a blogger, you’re in the driver’s seat. You’re the boss. You work as much or as little as you want.

Action items

Every part in this series includes one small, manageable step. So are you ready to get started?

All I want you to do is write down the reasons you want to blog. You can certainly pick more than one!

Writing for writing’s sake (journaling) is a great way to record your life and events. But if you want to be a successful blogger and achieve some of those things in the list I mentioned, you need to understand your Big Why.

Knowing your Big Why is what’s going to motivate you to follow through and become successful.

#2 What Should I Blog About?

There are so many blogs on the internet. How do you make your blog stand out? People are always asking me what should I write about. I started with a specific niche, activewear reviews, and now my blog is just a whole culmination of reviews and topics that I am interested in.

You can literally write about anything your heart desires!

If you need help figuring out a niche, try out this exercise.

  • Get a pen and a piece of paper
  • Draw a line and create two columns on the paper
  • In the left column, take 5 minutes and write down topics you are passionate about
  • In the right column take 5-minutes and write down everything you are an expert on
  • Circle everything that overlaps between the two lists

The overlap is called the “Zone of Genius.” It’s where you take something you’re an expert in and passionate about.

Never pick a topic that you’re only mildly interested in. You won’t stick with it and will only end up wasting your time.

What if I’m not an expert?

For some reason people don’t realize that no one starts out as an expert at anything. You become an expert.

Here are a few things I’ve become an expert on since I started blogging.

  • Creating well-written blog posts
  • Public speaking
  • Everything activewear related
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search enging marketing (SEM)

I wanted to learn these topics and with practice and time, I became better and eventually considered an “expert.”

You can do the same.

If you have an interest or passion, wouldn’t you enjoy learning more about it? And the process of learning would be fun, right? It wouldn’t be a drag. If it is, you might consider a different topic to write about.

I have a wide variety of interests and share that knowledge with others so that it may improve their lives. Some of the things I love are saving money, beauty and skincare, activewear, fashion, travel and more.

Realize you don’t have to be an expert

That’s right – you don’t have to be an expert.

I didn’t start my blog knowing everything. It was a learning process. Keep writing about the same topics over and over again and you will become known as an expert.

For example, if you’re just starting out learning about how to make awesome macrame wall decorations, start to build your blog and the community around you will come to you for advice.

All you had to do was learn a new knot or offer a pattern to those wanting to learn macrame. You will quickly become an expert in their eyes.

Sometimes just documenting your journey from beginner, to intermediate, to expert, will transform you into an expert.

You can document anything you want to get good at, or that’s occurring in your life:

  • parenting
  • baking
  • gardening
  • relationship advice
  • how to flip products
  • how to get out of debt
  • how to use Turo
  • how to increase your productivity

There are plenty of possibilities. Simply documenting your journey and learning what that process is like will make you an expert.

Just write!

I ‘started’ my blog in February 2012. When I say start, I got WordPress set up on BlueHost.

I chose a free theme. There are plenty of free ones. Do not get overwhelmed about how your blog looks for now, you can always tweak it or pay a web developer to make it unique and user friendly.

Then I started writing. I slowly started to gain an audience who would email and comment on my posts. It wasn’t until 2015, that I started monetizing, or making money on my blog content.

I typically post 2-3 times a week.

Once your blog is up, just write. Allow that content to make its way to your readers.

Action items

Decide what you want to blog about! Figure out your Zone of Genius and pick from there, or decide on something where you’ll document the journey.

Then tell the world about it because your friends and family will hold you accountable. Post it to Facebook or tell a close friend. Don’t let the naysayers get you down. You can earn a living as a blogger and you can totally do it.

#3 How To Create Your Blog

Ready to create your blog? It’s super easy and will take at most one hour.

We recommend WordPress because it’s a content management system (CMS) that is widely used by bloggers all over the world.

Let me give you an analogy – if you wanted to open a successful restaurant, would you use ingredients you could find for free? Of course not because who knows what you kind of ingredients you would be getting at no cost. You would start with the best ingredients you could afford.

Lucky for you – it doesn’t cost much to get started blogging. As a matter of fact, it was one of the cheapest businesses I ever started.

Where to get started

WordPress is the #1 blogging software in the world. If you want to start a WordPress blog for cheap, going with Bluehost to run your blog is the solution.

I’ve used Bluehost to start three companies (including this website). In fact, the first time I used them was in 2015.

You can start your blog with Bluehost for as low as $2.95 a month. Use our link to start a blog. Plus they give you a free domain name if you go with the 12-month hosting plan (a $15 value).

The best investment you can make is signing up for the 12-month hosting plan through Bluehost. You save money by signing up for at least 12 months.

If you change your mind later, you can get a refund at any time. In six months if you decide to get a refund (you won’t because you’ll enjoy blogging so much), you can get a partial refund for your unused time.

Why pay for hosting?

You can find free blogging services like Blogger where you could start a blog. I already mentioned how that would be like using free ingredients to cook with and start a restaurant.

Here’s what’s important – if you ever want to:

  • make money off your blog
  • make money off your freelancing
  • build a successful business
  • have a professional website that attracts visitors and customers

You will have to pay for hosting.

The reason is simple – customization and flexibility. Free blogging services like Blogger don’t allow you to add all of the features available with paid hosting. Such as:

  • shopping carts
  • advertising
  • speed enhancements to improve the user experience
  • free add-ons to make your site look better
  • access to thousands of free WordPress plugins (custom functions and features so that each blogger can tailor their site to their specific needs)

I’ve been building online businesses and e-commerce websites since 2000. I would never in my life start a new website with a “free” blogging or “free” website platform. If you do, within months your website is going to start growing, and you’re going to have to switch to a paid platform anyway. You will have thrown away all that time (and lost money in the process).

I’ll give you another analogy. With free hosting, it’s like renting an apartment that has steel walls. You can’t use a hammer and nails to hang pictures, install shelves, put up wallpaper or hang a TV mount.

With paid hosting, your apartment is like a modular office space you can customize however you want. You can move the walls around, put nails in to hang pictures everywhere you want, install shelves, mount five TVs around the place, etc. Heck, you can even cut a hole in the wall and stick in a new window if you want.

You need to be able to customize your site if you want to make money.

For example, if you want to make money from advertising, advertisers prefer professional looking websites. A professional looking website is much harder to get with the free blogging services, which is just one more reason to go with a hosting platform like Bluehost.

Why Use Bluehost?

Here is why I trust and recommend Bluehost to new bloggers:

  • Amazing 24×7 support via phone, e-mail, or chat. If you have questions on getting started or setup, you can get help quickly and easily
  • It’s easy to get started. My 15-minute tutorial walks you through step-by-step how to get started blogging. It really is that easy to start a WordPress blog.
  • FREE blog domain – Bluehost will give you a domain name for free such as www.MyAwesomeBlog.com
  • 100% Money Back Guarantee – Bluehost has a 30-day money back guarantee
  • FREE WordPress setup. WordPress is the blogging software used by the majority of bloggers. Bluehost includes an easy setup for adding WordPress.
  • Reliability – Bluehost websites are up 99.9% of the time. Reliability is important because if your blog is down, you don’t make any money! I lost over $5,000 in one day before when GoDaddy was hacked and my website was unavailable.
  • Self-hosting. If your goal is to make money from your blog you have to have a self-hosted blog. Self-hosting just means you are paying to host the blog yourself using a service, as opposed to using a free service that hosts it for you.
  • You’ll look professional – Free blogs like Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress.com limit you in various ways and appear less professional than self-hosted blogs.
  • It’s cheap! Price matters. And when you have quality and price, it’s a win-win for you. Bluehost starts at just $2.95 per month (a discounted rate available through my link) which is less than a cup of coffee!

There are a lot of blog hosting companies you might come across. As someone who has been in the online business since 2000 and has started three successful companies using Bluehost, invest in yourself and check them out.

What to Name My Blog?

Mine is a silly word I made up in 10th grade that eventually became my moniker. It can be anything you want it to be.

What if you can’t think of a name for your blog?

One challenge of getting started blogging has nothing to do with writing or setting up the blog. It’s figuring out what to name your blog!

You might think all the good names are taken! It just takes time to find the right one for you.

Even if you can’t think of one yet, you can get your blog setup and finish up the name later. I’ve worked on a lot of websites where we had an idea (our adoption website) and started developing it, only to settle on a name weeks later (NRFA.org).

Action Items

  1. Sign up for BlueHost and get WordPress installed.
  2. Start thinking about a name for your blog.

#4 How To Make Money Blogging With Affiliate Income

You’ve probably asked yourself the same question. Can I do it too? And the answer is YES!

When I started blogging in 2012, I never planned on making money with my blog (we call this monetizing). Here are just some ways I monetize my blog:

  • selling products (I have a retail store on my blog)
  • advertising ads on my blog
  • affiliate income

There are so many other ways to monetize your blog, such as selling e-books, e-courses, memberships and more.

When I learned about affiliate marketing, I was blown away that I could make money in my sleep.

I’ve known bloggers to make $50,000 – $100,000 in their first year! It’s crazy, but it is very possible.

It doesn’t matter how crowded you think a particular topic is, there is room for you to carve out a piece of the pie for yourself.

How can you make money blogging?

I’m going to walk you through each of these topics in the upcoming lessons. But let’s look at the many ways you can make money with a blog:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Selling products on your blog
  • Advertising on your blog
  • Freelancing and writing for other blogs and websites
  • Sponsored posts on your blog

What’s nice about some of these are they are passive income streams. Meaning your blog has the potential to make money 24/7.

Which means, you can make money…

  • while you sleep
  • while you’re on vacation
  • while you’re on a date

Related: How I Make $20,000 a Year Advertising on My Blog

How long does it take to make money blogging?

For years I did not know I could monetize on my blog. So naturally, I made $0 money.

When I learned how to use affiliate programs, I started to see the money roll in. I then reached out to potential partners who were willing to increase my affiliate rates for performance.

I am not saying that you will get rich overnight, but it’s a great way to start building passive income if that is one of your goals.

Blog monetization is also different for everyone. It really depends on the content you produce and how many visitors convert through your affiliate links.

Yes, you can make money blogging, but it isn’t a get-rich-quick business. It’s like building any business. It takes time, effort, and persistence. But the more you invest in yourself, the more successful you will become.

Making Money Blogging With Affiliate Income

Let’s start making some passive income from your blog through affiliate income.

I love affiliate income. It’s simple – your blog acts as a salesperson selling products. But there is:

  • no inventory
  • no costs of any kind
  • no shipping of products
  • no investment
  • no fees to sign up and get started

It sounds almost too good to be true – but it’s real and 100% legit.

A new window will open up and take you right to Amazon where you can buy the book. If you bought that book, I would earn an affiliate commission from Amazon. Let’s call it $0.50.

If you’re over at Amazon, you might decide today is the day you’re going to spring for that new T.V. that costs $400. If you buy it, I get an affiliate commission on that too. We’ll call it $25 because I sent Amazon the referral.

All I had to do was put a link in my blog to the cookbook. That’s it. Someone visits your blog where you talk about the Joy of Cooking, and they click the link. The link takes them to Amazon. If they buy the Joy of Cooking (or anything else), you earn a commission.

It’s free to sign up and become an Amazon affiliate (it’s called the Amazon Associates affiliate program). You can earn up to 10% in commissions.

Affiliate income comes from links on your blog where you mention products you love. You might review a product or include a link as part of a personal story – I bought this awesome shirt on Amazon for my upcoming trip!

Here are some of the things on my blog I have Amazon affiliate links for:

  • lightbulbs
  • medical kits
  • my favorite business books
  • energy efficiency products for your home
  • podcasting equipment

No matter what you blog about, there are going to be products for which you can have an affiliate link.

And the best part is the links on your blog may be around for years. You can end up earning money from an affiliate link for something you wrote about three years ago. That’s the great thing about passive income – it just keeps coming.

How to get started with Affiliate Income

Here are the step-by-step instructions to get started with affiliate income. Remember all of these programs are FREE to join.

1. Join affiliate programs

I mentioned Amazon in our example, but there are many other affiliate programs available.

Some product websites have an affiliate program which may not be listed. If you have a product you love contact the company directly and see if they have an affiliate program.

You just have to click the link and go through the sign-up process. Amazon is the easiest and has been around the longest. You should at least sign up for Amazon to get started.

2. Promote the link on your blog

There are different ways to promote a product:

Product reviews

Consider doing a book review or writing an in-depth product review. In the first month of blogging, I did a few in-depth product reviews. These pages are some of the most highly visited on my website.

Product comparisons

Comparing two different products side-by-side helps your readers weigh the pros and cons of each. By helping them make a decision, you help build a loyal fan base.

You can see an example of where I compared two budgeting software products here.

There are many photography bloggers that talk about camera equipment. Camara equipment can be very expensive, and the affiliate commissions can be much larger.

Resources/recommendations page

Many people will be interested in what tools and resources you use to do stuff. For example, I have a resources page for all of the blogging tools I use.

It doesn’t have to be fancy – just a picture, product name, and a description. To go the extra mile include a brief summary of why you like the product.

Mentioning the product in what you write about

This one is easy. If you are writing an article on baking a cake, for example, you can include a link to the cake pan you like to use in the recipe.

Creating tutorials

You help your readers by saving them time with step-by-step tutorials. You can document anything that involves assembly or a process.

For example, I have a post on How to Make Your Own DIY Agolde Criss Cross Jeans. Take a pair of jeans that you no longer fit and turn them into a fashionable and unique pair of pants.

You can even document something that already has documentation if you believe you can do it better! We call this method skyscraper content.

Just think about YouTube videos you’ve watched on how to do or fix something because the manufacturer’s documentation doesn’t make sense. I look up tutorials all the time on how to use the features of software I use.

I have several step-by-step tutorials and recipes on my blog. And if I like the product, I’ll include an affiliate link to earn income.

Tips for good product promotion

Be Honest

Always be honest in your review. Never offer a glowing review for a bad product just to earn affiliate income. You will lose your readers’ trust.

When you are honest and help your blog readers, they will reward you with loyalty and become a life long fan of your recommendations. That’s worth much more because they will help share your blog to others.

Promote the Benefits

People buy things because it helps solve their problems or makes them feel better:

The better you become at sharing the benefits of a product, the more likely the person is to purchase the product.

Good Product Placement

The longer your blog post, the more you can talk about a product or service. But that doesn’t mean you should include a link in every paragraph.

If it’s a short article, 1–2 links may be enough.

For longer blog articles it’s ok to include a link at the beginning, middle, and at the very end.

Action items

  1. Sign up for free to Amazon’s affiliate program.
  2. Write a blog post about some products you like and include an affiliate link to it in your post.

#5 How To Make Money by Freelancing and Advertising

Freelancing is a great way to make addition income from blogging.

To break into these lines of work you’re still going to need a blog. Think of it like being an artist – you have to be able to display your work and your portfolio. Your blog lets other people find you and review your work.

I know many bloggers that make thousands of dollars per month writing for other websites.

To get started, you’ll have to work your way up, just like at any job. Your first jobs you may have to do for $20-$30 per article. Then you charge a little more. Then a little more. Then a little more. Some writers can command up to $500 per article.

Sponsored posts

At some point, you’ll get approached (via email) by someone wanting to write a sponsored post and put it on your blog.

They pay you money; they write the post, and you add it to your website.

Why would anybody do this? To get their product or service in front of the eyeballs of your blog visitors.

The post might be a product review, or include some links back to their company’s website. They may even want to get access to any newsletters you send out and include an ad.

There are a lot of types of sponsored content you could have on your website.

Warning: Be very careful with any sponsored content you accept. You run the risk of losing part of your audience if you starting putting irrelevant or inferior products and services in front of them.

Never sell out for extra income. If you do not like a product, let your sponsor know and see if they are willing to make things right. Oftentimes, they will be able to find a product you will enjoy writing about.

Display advertising

I bet you’ve seen websites with advertising on them before right? Your blog can also include ads that generate income. You get paid when a certain number of ads get shown on your blog or when someone clicks an ad.

Adding display ads to your website is another simple and easy way to make money. The more visitors you get to your site, the more you can make.

There are many sources of display advertising:

You can sign up with any of these services. They include tutorials, instructions and even tech support on how to place ads on your blog.

All of these services are free to sign up.

AdSense (Google AdSense) is one of the largest ad platforms. It’s an advertising placement service by Google. The program is for website publishers and bloggers who want to display targeted text, video or image advertisements on website pages, e-mails and earn money when site visitors view or click the ads.

Are Ads Bad?

Personally, I would rather my blog NOT have ads, but it’s one of the major ways I generate income.

It is my opinion advertisements take away from the true value of your website. Ads can also be distracting and slow down your website.

Website speed is important. If your blog is busy loading ads, your visitor might leave and never to read your blog.

However, you can find a balance between making money with ads, keeping your site looking clean, and website speed.

If ads don’t work for you, you can always turn them off and see if your visitor performance is better!

And remember, there are plenty of other ways to monetize your blog if ads aren’t your thing.

Action items

  1. Pick one strategy for making money. Focus on one strategy at a time. Affiliate income is the easiest to get started (and free). If a strategy does not work for you, get rid of it and try something else.
  2. Sign up for a free Google Adsense account. Try out Adsense. Even if you’re not going to have ads on your site, you might as well check it out and be familiar with it.

#6 Why You NEED TO Build An Email List, And How To Get Started

Here is one of the most important and often overlooked things new bloggers don’t do – growing your email list starting NOW!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard: I wish I would have started building my email list sooner.

If you’re not building an email list from Day 1, you’re making a HUGE mistake.

What’s an email list?

You’re probably on a few (or a lot) of email lists. In fact, you’re a part of my ‘Get Started Blogging’ email list where I send you this great blogging information each day.

An email list lets you collect the email addresses of your website visitors so that you can contact them later on.

Why would I want to build an email list?

You might think the most important part of blogging is having people visit your website. Visitors mean more advertising revenue TODAY, right?

Wrong.

While having people visit your website is important, being able to connect with your visitors in the future is ten times more important.

It’s also worth ten times more money.

Pretend for a moment you’ve been blogging for eight weeks and now you have enough content to put together an awesome eBook.

Who are you going to sell it to?

How will you sell it to all those people that have been visiting your blog for the past eight weeks?

How will you get them all to come back so you can tell them about your amazing new eBook?

Unless you have a way to contact them – you can’t.

Email is the #1 way to connect with your readers.

I’ll repeat it because it’s so important:

Email is the #1 way to connect with your readers.

Email is better than:

  • Sending a tweet
  • Posting to Facebook
  • Posting to your blog
  • Paid advertising where you pay to advertise your product/service

The reason email is GOLD, is because everyone reads their email. Compared to Facebook ads, a post you promote may not even get to the right audience.

When was the last time you didn’t at least read the subject of an email before you deleted it? At the very least you saw every email you received.

Email lists are the golden egg

Stick with blogging, and you’ll build an email list that has 1,000, 10,000, 100,000 or even more names on it.

Or you’re a fashion blogger, and you’ve come across a new trend and want to tell everyone about it, e-mail lists are a great way to update your audience of what’s on-trend.

Add some affiliate links in the post and you’ll earn a percentage from helping others stay fashionable.

Ca-Ching!

You’re providing value to your subscribers by telling them about something that is going to:

  • update their wardrobe
  • make them feel good in their clothing

In return, you earn money for helping them. It’s a win-win situation.

Choosing an email service provider

Email service providers maintain your email list for you. For instance when a website visitor wants to sign up for your newsletter to stay in touch with you. The provider gives you software tools that let you add the newsletter functionality to your website.

The top three email providers for new bloggers

  1. MailChimp
  2. AWeber
  3. ConvertKit
  4. Substack

Which one should you use?

MailChimp

MailChimp is free to get started, and it’s free for your first 2,000 subscribers. That’s a deal!

You’ll find some people recommend AWeber. When I first started blogging I used AWeber too. So many other people said ‘use AWeber!‘.

I have a sneaky suspicion why – because AWeber has an affiliate program!  People make affiliate income when you sign up with AWeber.

MailChimp doesn’t have an affiliate program. I get paid nothing if you use them.

Remember when I talked about being honest in your product reviews and how that honesty will help build you a loyal fan base? I just gave you an example. Recommending the best product to you (MailChimp) is more important to me than earning an affiliate sale from AWeber.

As someone who has used both products, I found MailChimp to be much easier to use.

ConvertKit is a product with a much higher price point ($79/month). As I’m writing this, I’m evaluating the product. You don’t need to invest in bigger and better services until you start making money blogging.

I’ve been using MailChimp for over 3 years, and I love it.

Keep it simple and free – go with MailChimp.

How To Collect Email Addresses

If you’ve ever signed up for a newsletter – why did you do it? You have to come up with a compelling reason to get a blog visitor to give you their email address.

A reasonable goal I’ve heard from professional email marketers is this:

For every 100 website visitors, you’re doing well if you can get two email addresses.

A 2% conversion rate – that’s your goal. Anything higher and you’re amazing. Anything lower and there is room for improvement.

Getting people to subscribe

To get someone to subscribe to your newsletter you need a compelling reason. Too often I’ve seen bloggers have something like this one their website:

Subscribe to my newsletter

Ask yourself – what would be the reason? There isn’t one. Compare that to this:

Sign up for my monthly newsletter and I’ll send you a FREE guide on how to take better phone pictures. I’ll also send you a hug!

Here’s why it works:

The frequency is clear – The newsletter will be sent monthly, so the subscriber knows when they can expect to hear from you.

You show the benefit of subscribing – You are giving them something…for FREE. Who doesn’t love free?

You show personality – Everyone knows you can’t email a hug. By sounding like a human instead of a boring company, you build a connection with your readers.

Your offer

Come up with an offer to get people to subscribe. It’s been proven if you have a free offer (something of value) people are much more likely to subscribe.

You’ve probably seen plenty of offers, but here are a few to consider:

  • Top 10 Tips On XYZ
  • 5 Ways You’ve Never Heard Of To XYZ
  • How To XYZ In Just 10-Days
  • 49 Tips On XYZ

Your offer doesn’t even need to be unique. You can take a blog post or posts you’ve already created and re-package them into a giveaway.

Here are the offers I use on my blog:

How to Collect E-mails

Here is a fantastic tool I highly recommend: SumoMe

Benefits of SumoMe:

  1. It’s FREE! – The basic templates are all free. If you want to get fancy, you can upgrade to a paid account.
  2. Easily Add to Your Blog – It’s super easy to integrate with your WordPress blog.
  3. Connects to MailChimp account – You’ve got a free email collection tool that connects with your free MailChimp account. Wauw!
  4. Tons of Features – SumoMe comes with 12+ free tools to grow your website and to collect email addresses. Install all of the email collection tools and see which ones work best for your blog.

Don’t go crazy

While SumoMe has all kinds of free tools – every one of those tools you add will slow down your website a little bit. Only install what you need. I recommend installing:

  • Welcome Mat
  • List Builder
  • Hello Bar (optional)

I tried all three on my blog when I got started. I have since scaled it back to just having a single popup that appears when someone is leaving my blog. The single popup works well for me based on the results I’ve measured over time.

Action Items

Building your email list is super-important. Here is what you should do to start.

  1. Sign up for a free account at MailChimp to store email addresses.
  2. Sign up for a free account at SumoMe to collect email addresses.
  3. Start collecting email addresses on your blog

#7 How To Write Great Content That Gets Shared

Here are my writing tips. In the 8 years I’ve been blogging, I’ve learned A LOT of things along the way. My first few blog posts were something I am not too proud of. But it doesn’t mean it had to stay that way.

Writing Killer Headlines

What causes you to read a blog post? The title!

In my opinion, it’s the most important thing. Without a good blog title, your post won’t ever get read or even ranked in Google SERPs. A great headline will encourage people to click through and read your post.

Keep your headlines simple and straight forward.

Add this book is at your library: How To Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines (check it out from the library if you can.)

It’s a swipe file of headlines you can copy and vary according to your topic. Also, here is a freebie headline swipe file I just pulled up on Google.

There is no need to re-invent the wheel – find a good swipe file of headlines and just fill in the blanks.

Here is an exercise you should try:

  1. For every blog post write ten headlines (yes, 10) in five minutes.
  2. Use a headline analyzer

Headline Analyzers

To create better headlines use a headline analyzer to check your ideas. Both of these are free:

You’ll get different results from each because they measure things differently. One might give you a high score and the other a low score for the same headline.

Try not to get bogged down creating the perfect headline. A good headline is better than not publishing your post.

What do you do with all those extra headlines you wrote? Try different versions when you’re sharing your posts on social media. When you share your content, you don’t have to use the same title as the one on your blog.

AVOID USING ALL CAPS IN YOUR BLOG TITLE!

It makes it seem like you are yelling at the reader. Try capitalizing one or two words for emphasis instead.

Writing Really Really Really Long Posts

If you want to rank higher in search engine results write longer posts. A blog post that is 1,000 words long is seen as having greater value than a blog post that is 300 words long on the same subject.

At a minimum, your blog posts should be 500 words long. If you have to choose writing three blog posts that are 500 words each or writing one long 1,500-word article on the same topic – write one long article.

Quantity is not better than quality.

The more time a reader spends on a single post, the better. Search engines and analytics tools record the time readers spend on a page. My best blog posts are the ones that take over 5 minutes to read, and Google ranks them very high in search results.

ALWAYS Proofread

Don’t let grammar make your blog lose credibility. The grammar police will…

  • Send emails correcting you.
  • Write nasty comments.
  • And never come back to your page.

If writing is not your forte (yet), here are some tools you can use to improve your writing skills. It’s the exact process that I’ve used to become a better writer.

  1. Write first. Forget about spelling, proofreading, and grammar for now. Just write your article up. When you are about 1oo% done, move onto the next step.
  2. Proofread. Copy/paste your post into Grammarly. Grammarly is a free online proofreading tool. It catches most grammar and spelling errors. Yay, you didn’t have to do it alone.
  3. Read your blog post out loud to yourself. You’ll catch any remaining errors including things you’ve written that don’t make any sense or things that are in different tenses, you will notice them if you read your writing out loud.

I write everything in WordPress. If you decide to go this route, make sure you save save save your posts. You can also turn on autosave to save you time and headache.

If this is a recipe for disaster for you, you can always write in a Google Doc and transfer it over later.
This process ensures that I proofread my articles for free and that the grammar police do not come for me.

Create A Schedule (And Stick To It)

To make money blogging you have to blog. It may sound silly, but you can’t make money working if you don’t show up to work.

At a minimum, you should blog at least once a week. If you blog less frequently the chances of you making extra money decrease dramatically. You need content on your blog to attract readers.

If you don’t blog regularly, your readers may not come back or move on to other blogs.

Download this free calendar to help you – The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Editorial Calendar

The Secret To Better Writing

The best way to get better at writing (in fact the only way) is to write more and more.

Here’s a tidbit every blogger will tell you – the stuff you write first is going to be terrible. I know because my first blog posts were too. When you look back 2–3 years from now at your earlier posts, you’ll say the same thing we all say:

I can’t believe how bad this is!

It’s normal to start off as a terrible writer. You can learn to become better. I encourage you to just write. Over time, it will get better. 

It’s like anything we do in life. The more you do something, the better you will get at it.

An athlete does not just wake up and win a gold medal. It takes time and practice.

You can also refer to articles that you’ve read in the past that you thought were amazing. Use those templates in your writing to create something you and your audience would resonate with.

Action Items

  1. Create a Content Calendar – Write down the topic of each blog post you will write over the next 30 days. One per week each week for the next four weeks.
  2. Create Ten Headlines – Practice by creating ten headlines for your next blog post using the Headline tools.

#8 How To Grow Your Blog And Get More Readers

What are the things you can do to grow your blog? As your blog grows, it helps you make more money.

You don’t need a massive blog with millions of page views and visitors to make money. You can make a good income with a small, niche site as long as you’re adding value to your visitors.

I have a kink website called It’s My Kink. It has a small audience but provides important relationships and healthy sex information.

Yes, the more visitors you have, the more you can make. You certainly want to do anything you can to drive more traffic to your site and build your email list. The following are some of the top tips to grow your blog traffic. 

You can explore each of these tips further as you continue on your blogging journey.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is the practice of writing your blog posts so they rank higher in search engines. It’s quite a science and way too much to get into.

There are all kinds of books, courses, and websites dedicated to search engine optimization. You can spend hours just learning the basics.

Install the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

The Yoast SEO plugin is a free WordPress add-on that helps you write blog posts that are search engine optimized. It’s installed on over 1 million blogs – because it’s that good.

It’s an easy way to get started learning SEO. The plugin shows up right in WordPress below your post editor. It will give you suggestions on what to fix for better SEO. Plus it gives you tips on improving the Readability of your post.

Make a note that as you get further along in your writing – maybe a couple of months from now – you revisit this topic.

Guest Post

Guest posting is where you write a blog article for someone else’s website. There are two very important reasons for guest posting:

1. You can drive a ton of new traffic to your website

I have a few gray hair articles that have been published on other outlets. People read those larger outlets and come to my site to learn more about my gray hair journey.

You never know what results you will get. But you have to try it to find out.

2. To get links to your website

One of the factors in how high you rank on Google search result pages and other search engines is how many high-quality websites link back your website. Google doesn’t tell us how important it is, but it is very important.

For example, Forbes is a very reputable website. Articles published on Forbes.com are more likely to rank higher than articles published on eatmoreveggies.net. Google ranks Forbes articles higher in search results (generally) because of the outlet’s reputation.

The official term for this strategy is called backlinking. The more links you have from other reputable websites back to yours, the higher you will show up in search results.

Make It Easy To Share Your Content

All of your blog posts should have buttons that allow your readers to share your posts on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)

And it’s got to be easy!

Here are two tools I have used and recommend.

SumoMe

Another feature of the free SumoMe tool I mentioned in the email list building lesson is the free sharing tools it includes. It’s free!

Social Warfare

Social Warfare is the sharing plugin I currently use on my website. I used SumoMe at one time and then I switched to Social Warfare. For the life of me, I don’t recall why. I think Social Warfare had an email button and SumoMe didn’t at the time.

You have to decide which features you want and then find the software that helps meet your goals.

Share Other Blogger’s Content

When you start to make blogger friends, you should help support their efforts. I am part of Facebook groups where people share other blogger’s content with their readers.

I also share stuff that is relevant. Never share something that you don’t believe in.

Use Internal Links Too!

If you write ten different blog posts about different ways to style boots, make an effort to link between your posts if it’s relevant.

Here is an example, if you have a blog post about Winter fashion, make sure you link your article on the best winter boots in that blog post. It will encourage your reader to click onto the boots post and spend more time discovering your site.

There are two important reasons why you need link your posts:

  1. It keeps the reader on your site and makes it more likely they will read more of your posts. The more they read, the more page views you get, which increases your blog traffic and conversions.
  2. Search engines see posts with internal links and will even rank them higher.

Only link to other articles when it is relevant. Do not link content that makes no sense. In other words, don’t just link for the sake of linking.

Pin on Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the top traffic sources for many blogs. When I sat through a Pinterest session at a recent conference, I was blown away at how much traffic it could generate.

I get over 500k views monthly from Pinterest. People are constantly resharing my content.

Help Other Bloggers

Are you more or less likely to help me because I’m giving you all this great information for free?

You got that right – you’re more likely to help me. That help might come in the form of:

  • Telling people you know about my website (share this post!)
  • Promoting me on your social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)
  • Sharing my content with your friends and family
  • Linking to my blog from your blog
  • Giving me a testimonial
  • Referring me to someone you might meet in the future, even if it’s a year from now

Other bloggers – even if they blog about the same topic – are not your competition.

The pie is huge and there is plenty for everyone to get a piece.

You can try to go it alone and not help anyone. The result will be it will take you 2-3 times longer to grow your blog. But if you sincerely set out to help others, they will, in turn, help you.

Warning: : When I say be sincere, I mean it. People can smell an insincere pitch a mile away. I was guilty of this when I first started blogging. If you start out becoming friends with other bloggers first, sometime in the future they will help you with your product launch, promoting your blog, your course, giving you an introduction to someone because you’ve become friends.

Always give more than you get.

Action Items

Here is a recap of the things you can do to grow your blog audience!

1. Add social sharing buttons to your website

Hopefully, you’ve already added SumoMe to your website to start collecting email addresses. If you haven’t – go ahead and install it.

Add the free SumoMe Share tool so your visitors can share your content with their friends, family, and others. The more people share your site and content, the more viral traffic goes back to your site.

2. Identify one blogger you want to build a relationship with

Start following them on social (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) and repost one piece of their content 1–2 times per week.

If you want to get gutsy, drop them an email just to say hello and tell them why you like them. Sincerity wins.

3. Install the Yoast SEO plugin in WordPress

Once you get this free plugin installed, it will help guide you in your writing of search-engine friendly blog posts.

#9 Resources I Use for Schimiggy Reviews

Here is a list of the exact tools I’ve used to grow my blog into a reputable and successful outlet.

While this list has all the tools I’ve used, you will see me mention some of the tools throughout this guide.

#10 How To Become Irresistible And Grow Your Following

In this section, I’ll cover a few other tidbits that are going to help you succeed with how to make money blogging.

Create an About Page

People do business with people. Do you want your image to be that of a big mega-bank where every customer is treated as a number and a dollar sign? Or do you prefer the local bank where you walk in, and they know you by name and ask how your family is?

Having an About Page that reflects who you are and what you’re about will help attract the type of people who will become friends and customers. You can not, and will not, attract everyone. So don’t bother trying.

It’s better to have 1,000 loyal and die-hard fans than 100,000 wishy washy followers that don’t care that much if you post a blog or disappear into thin air.

It’s also more profitable to have 1,000 loyal and die-hard fans. Think about your favorite band or music. The band makes more from the fans that buy every product and show up at every concert than the fans who might come to a show once in a while if something better isn’t going on.

Be Yourself

Be you, and people will be attracted to you. Let your personality shine through. People want to be entertained, inspired, and educated.

If you try to be something you’re not, you will either get bored or be discovered quickly. I decided I wanted to wear activewear forever. And here I am, making that happen.

Just do you and you’ll quickly realize that your vibe attracts your tribe.

Create a Contact Page

Ever been to a website where you can’t figure out how to get in touch with someone, or they intentionally hide their email address?

Nobody likes that.

How will potential advertisers and companies contact you if they can’t reach you?

Have a contact page that includes multiple ways to find you. At the least you should include:

  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Instagram handle
  • Twitter handle
  • LinkedIn

For safety and security reasons, never list your home address. Use a P.O. Box address instead.

If someone makes a comment on your blog or sends you an email – reply! Doing so quickly helps foster the relationship. Never ignore people.

Some people respond to feedback within 24-hours. I have a rule of 3 business days because I get a lot of emails.

Just a quick reply sometimes that says ‘Thanks for your comment’ might be enough. Your readers want to know you’re paying attention to them. Responding is the quickest and easiest way to do that.

One-to-one communication will build a community of loyal followers to your blog.

digital content production blogging

Final Thoughts

You’ve made it through our how to start a blog guide! Congrats!

You’ve mastered setting up a blog, how to blog, what to blog about, how to start building your audience, and a bunch of ways about how to make money blogging. Plus you’ve received tons of free tools to help your blog become successful.

What’s Next?

Now it’s time for you to implement everything you’ve learned to create a blog.

If you’ve decided to go for it, click here to sign up for a blog and get started.

Feel free to e-mail me at schimiggy@schimiggy.com if you have any questions or just wanna chat!

Good luck!

If you enjoyed our guide on how to start a blog, please share it on Pinterest. Thank you!

guide on how to start a blog schimiggy

 

Thank you for visiting today! If you found this encouraging or informative, please come hang out with me on Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.

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