How to Start a Profitable Blog the Right Way – Do you want to start a blog but don’t know where to begin? This is the best guide to starting a money making blog from the beginning!
Are you ready to start a blog but you don’t want to waste your time spinning your wheels and getting nowhere? I know the feeling! When I started my blog in August 2015, I had no idea how to start a profitable blog the right way.
I was just kinda searching Pinterest aimlessly trying to see what worked. And while it took me to some amazing places, I still felt like I was spinning my wheels.
Ready for some cliches? Blogging has changed my life. It really has.
It’s given me a lot of purpose and drive in my life that I really needed. Thanks to blogging, I now have another full-time income to add to my family. I never thought that it would be possible, but less than 15 months after I first launched my blog (as in, I’d never written a post before), I made $3,292 in one month. Less than 18 months after I started getting serious about blogging, I made $12,007 in one month!
Blogging has allowed me to live what I think is a dream life. I get to stay home with my children, homeschool them, and still live a full life with my family without needing to worry about the 9-5 job hassles.
My earning potential is basically unlimited, I control all of my hours and everything surrounding my day, and I just truly love what I do. I mean, I get paid to blabber on and on about what I love! What’s not to love about that!?
And here’s my favorite part about starting a blog: it’s so cheap to start!
You can start a real profitable blog for just a few dollars a month!
I worked with Bluehost to get you the best pricing and deal on the hosting. Seriously, that’s how much I want you to start your own blog! You’ll also get a free blog domain through my link too. Act quick, though, because I’m not sure how long these low prices will last!
How to start a profitable blog the right way
Here’s what we’ll cover when it comes to starting a profitable blog:
- Why blogging is AMAZING
- Yes – there will be a cost (but I’m cheap – so you get to hear ALL of the details on how to cut corners and save more money with your blog)
- Getting hosting (plus my big money-saving hack that will help you get it for less than $100 for 3 years)
- Start writing (VERY important to discover what you REALLY want to talk about!)
- Start an email list (freebies, how to collect them, growing, and also what to say in emails)
- Affiliates & why you need them (and why you NEED to have a connection with your email list in order to use them WELL)
- Making your own products (YES. YOU. CAN. MAKE. YOUR. OWN. STUFF.)
Ok, so follow that order and don’t go diving into making a product right off the bat! Because – trust me, coming from someone whose first product launch crashed and burned – if you don’t know what your peoples’ problems are, then making a product right now is a waste of time.
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OK – Starting that profitable blog 101
Before we can get to the whole making money part of blogging, you will need to spend money to get started. But this is very important! If you ever want to start a profitable blog the right way, you’ll need to spend a little bit of money.
Can’t I just save money by using Blogger/Blogspot/Wordpress for free?
You may be thinking, “I can just start on Blogger for a free.” NO! Nuh-uh! NO WAY! Don’t do it! There are so many reasons for why a Blogger/Blogspot/free WordPress blog is a really bad idea.
But here’s the biggest reason to start a profitable blog the right way:
If you are interested in ever making money off your blog at all, then paying for your hosting is a MUST. You’re not saving money by using Blogger or Blogspot, you might even wind up costing yourself money.
Making money on Blogger or any other free blogging platform (even with a free WordPress account) is very difficult. But most of the time, you can’t make any money at all from using a free blog.
Most advertisers and companies will run away the second that they see that you run your site on Blogger websites because they don’t view them as professional. With a self-hosted WordPress blog from Bluehost, you can be sure that you’re starting your blog the right way to help you make the most money possible.
The good news about starting a money-making blog:
It’s extremely cheap to go through Bluehost AND you get a free domain for $2.95/month. You can run any of your own ads, affiliate links, direct advertising, and more with a blog run on Bluehost. You do have to pay for it upfront, which I think is a real bummer. BUT it still winds up being around $100 when you unselect any of the boxes that they try to sell you on (you really don’t need all of those protections when you’re just starting, honestly.)
So why start a blog with WordPress?
Think of your favorite blog. They use WordPress.
Almost every blog (like 99.9999999% of blogs) uses WordPress. And for good reason! Starting your blog with WordPress is easy to use, easy to navigate, very straightforward, and just fantastic to use.
There aren’t many (if any! I don’t think I’ve ever found any) dissenting opinions of WordPress. It’s the industry standard for blogging for a reason.
Plus, when you start your blog with Bluehost, they have a one-click WordPress install that gets rid of all of the guesswork. Trust me, it’s really not as techy and scary as you might think! I’m really not a tech person (AT ALL!) and I still set this all up without a problem.
And if you ever do have a problem, you can just reach out to Bluehost and they’ll help you out right away. Their support was there for me when I messed up my site (see? Not techy!) on 4th of July weekend at 1am. They’re really great and helpful. 🙂
Let’s talk worst-case scenario when it comes to starting a blog…
Let’s say you decided to start a blog with Blogger or for the FREE on WordPress (ya know, the one where it says “yourblog.wordpress.com”?) and you decide you want to make money blogging. You’ll need to pay someone to move your site for you (because trust me, that’s a headache you DON’T want). So now it’s costing you more money AND it’s a headache. Just not worth it at all.
Not to mention, no affiliates will work with you with a blog like that. They want to see people who are professionals promoting their products. And a “.wordpress.com” is not going to be professional.
Even kind of worse than that is that the site who is hosting your free blog technically owns your content. Yup. They are the ones who could shut your site down, share your content without permission, and more. Bottom line, the $2.95/month starting off the right way from the beginning is worth it.
Start off on the right foot and just start with WordPress.
Starting with the best blog hosting site for beginners (a picture walk-thru).
So you’re ready to get your WordPress.org blog started! Go you!
Here’s how to start a profitable blog the right way. You will need to pay for blog hosting so that you can have a real site that you own. So you want to know the best blog hosting site to choose for making money as a new blogger.
Now, I’m a cheapskate to my core, I’m going to share with you the best site to start with when you’re a new blogger with very little money and very little computer knowledge. The best hosting site to use to start a profitable blog the right way is with Bluehost. They start with a $2.95/month option and – no matter how many times they might suggest that you get the next step up – that’s really all you need for a while.
Why start a blog with Bluehost?
I started off using Bluehost and they were a Godsend! I had no idea what I was doing, I asked 1,000 dumb questions to their tech people in 24 hours (more than once!), and they still helped me out.
Choosing Bluehost for blog hosting was a no-brainer. They charge $2.95/month (or less if you catch their sales!) and their one-click WordPress set-up is the best.
If you’re looking to start a blog without needing to fork over tons of money, then choosing Bluehost for your blog hosting needs may be your answer. Bluehost is a great blog host and I personally have had a great experience with them.
With Bluehost, you can start your own blog with them for as low as $2.95 a month (this low price is only through my link)! Also, if you sign up using my link, then you’ll get your domain for free if you purchase a 12 month or longer hosting plan!
There are many reasons for why you may want to choose Bluehost for your WordPress blog and I honestly believe they are one of the best blog hosting sites out there for new bloggers.
Here’s why I love Bluehost for a newbie blogger’s first blog hosting site:
- It’s SO easy to use. Anyone can create a WordPress blog easily with their one-click WordPress installation.
- Bluehost web hosting offers 24/7 technical support. (Even at 1am on a holiday weekend when you think your site crashed when it was a technical problem on your end and not theirs… cough cough… I know this from personal experience!)
- Bluehost is extremely affordable. You can have a blog of your own and the only real expense you need to pay is the cheap blog hosting which starts at just $2.95 per month.
- You will get a FREE blog domain (a $15 value and a LOT of headaches to try to get a domain name from somewhere else).
- WordPress through Bluehost is FREE.
- Bluehost offers a money-back guarantee in case you decide that it isn’t for you. Even if you’re 6 months into your contract and you decide you want to go with a different host, you can get your prorated money back.
- You will be self-hosted. If you want to monetize your blog, then you will want to be self-hosted. This means your blog name is “YourBlog.com” and not “YourBlog.Wordpress.com.”
- Your first impression will look much more professional to readers, companies, and everyone else who comes across your blog if you are self-hosted on Bluehost than being on a free blog platform.
If you sign up for Bluehost, but you are confused for any reason at all, you can always send me an email and I can help you out as much as I can! But also don’t be afraid to use Bluehost’s amazing chat option and their customer service. They’ll probably be more helpful to you than I am. 🙂
Some general tips on how to navigate WordPress for your new blog:
- Your WordPress login info will be different from your Bluehost info. But both are important! You’ll receive emails with your username and password for both accounts. You’ll want to save them or write them down for safekeeping.
- Once you’re logged into WordPress, you can create new posts by clicking on “Posts” on the left-hand side when you are logged in. If you want to add a page, simply click on “Page.”
- “Posts” are different than “Pages.” “Posts” are things like what you’re reading now, and “Pages” are things like your “About Me” page.
- If you want to add an image, click on “Media” on the left-hand side, and click “Upload Media.” You can also do this from the individual posts right below the Title bar.
- You can install “plug-ins” for practically anything. Just hover over the “plug-ins” tab on the left-hand side of the menu and click “add new.”
- You can go to “Appearance,” then click “Widgets” in order to add items to your sidebar, footer, and header.
- If you are looking for a way to send newsletters or emails to your readers, I recommend Convertkit. It creates subscription boxes and landing pages so easily and beautifully. (But more on that at the bottom!)
- If you are looking into getting a great design for your blog, Genesis is the way to go. Genesis is used on my blog, and I highly recommend it. It’s user-friendly and very customizable.
- There are free themes through WordPress you can use, too. Just go to “Appearance” on the left-hand side when you are logged into your WordPress website and click on “Themes,” then activate whichever one you are interested in testing out. By doing this, you can start designing your website easily! Another option would be to buy a premade blog design. I know a lot of bloggers who swear by Restored 316 Designs for their affordable and beautiful premade designs. I used Blogelina to hand-make my site design. She was incredibly affordable and super helpful!
Now, go and start that blog! Don’t let fear stop you, just go for it!
Once you’ve got hosting started then you just should start writing!
Just start writing. You don’t have to be perfect and chances are good that your first few posts will end up getting deleted (all of mine were).
But you HAVE to start writing. Don’t focus on the theme you have, or the logo you want, or rewriting your “About Me” page for the 80th time. The more time you spend writing, the quicker it will become clear what topic you want to cover.
For me, I started my blog as a mommy blogger; talking about my kids, the struggles of parenthood and marriage with little ones, homeschooling, cooking… yeah like that. And the longer I wrote about it, the more I kept seeing that I didn’t actually WANT to talk about how to be a parent… what I wanted to talk about was MONEY.
Thus, I found my niche.
But I had to spend time every single day writing a post to get to this realization. If I wasn’t writing at least 500 words every day, it would have taken me a LOT longer to realize that I don’t care about trying to be a food blogger or a homeschool blogger… I wanted to be a budgeting blogger.
So take the time every day to write 500 words. It’ll become easier and easier. And soon, you’ll really get into what exactly you want to talk about.
Once you have been writing and know what it is that you want to talk about, then you’ll need to start working on email.
Ok – so you’ve got your blog up and running, you know what you want it to be about… now what?
Now comes EMAIL!
Hang on, hang on! This doesn’t have to be painful!
Let’s talk about the WHY of email – why does it freaking matter?!
Email – specifically collecting people’s email addresses from freebies on your site – matters because unlike social platforms that change every other month or algorithms that throw people’s traffic down the toilet for no reason, your email list is YOURS. No one – no Google change, no Pinterest change, no Facebook page armageddon – can take your list of subscribers away from you.
Your email list of subscribers is your own. These are your most loyal fans. The ones who RAVE about you, who see your name pop into their inbox and are so excited… these are your people.
You’ve got to set up a way for your people who read your blog, who go “YES! YOU GET ME! HOW ARE YOU IN MY HEAD!? I NEED TO HEAR MORE FROM YOU!” to have a way to hear more from you.
But you can’t just tell people “hey, send me an email and I’ll email you from my Gmail when I have a new post” (DO NOT DO THIS. It’s illegal.) and don’t just have a “subscribe to my newsletter” blurb in your sidebar.
You want your email offer (or freebie, opt-in, lead magnet… it has a lot of different names, but it’s whatever you see on someone’s site where they ask you for your email address to get something for free) to stand out and grab people’s attention so that they can see it and not totally ignore it.
The best way to do this is with an email service provider who can make gorgeous boxes, leadpages, and popups that catch people’s attention and get them what they want.
And you grow your email list with Convertkit helping you.
I’ve used Convertkit for my email provider since 2016 (pretty sure I was one of their first 1,000 customers). And they’re the only service I ever recommend for bloggers – brand new all the way up to experiences – to use.
They are easy to use, super friendly and helpful all the time, and their emails get into your peoples’ inboxes.
They do a lot of things that other email providers would make you get other services to do:
- Make pop ups
- Make VERY customized leadboxes (places in the middle of the post to collect emails)
- Design leadpages to collect emails so that it looks like it’s its own site
- Tag different people (so if you talk about pet grooming and cooking on your site, you don’t want your groomers to hear about recipes, right? So you can send emails to JUST certain people with tagging and segmenting)
- Create huge, ornate welcome sequences and email sequences
- Get 1:1 chat support with any and all issues
- Add as many freebies as you’d like
- Design tons of different opt-in boxes for the same freebies to test out which work best
- Test out different subject lines to see which delivers to your list better
- And a LOT more
Honestly, I love Convertkit. They really are the best of the best. And – because they know that my people are the best of the best too *that means YOU!* – they’ve hooked you up with a FREE plan to get you started with them.
Collecting email is a BIG deal when it comes to long-term blogging success and starting a profitable blog the right way. If you don’t want to depend solely on ad revenue (aka – getting as many people to your site as possible that relies on the Pinterest gods to smile upon you all the time… which is NOT a reliable source of income if that’s your plan… don’t do this), then you need to diversify your income using your email list.
Ok – you’ve got the emails from readers coming in every day… now what?
Once you have a list, make sure that you are sending them emails once a week. Yes – one per week. You could chare something that happened in your week, a lesson you learned, a funny story, tell them to check out your Youtube video or latest blog post… anything! But make sure that you’re sending something.
Can’t think of anything to say? You can get 2 whole years of email ideas for free right HERE.
Here’s your checklist of how to start a profitable blog using email:
- Get Convertkit for free to start
- Add a freebie to start collecting emails and deliver the freebie to your people. (Convertkit does all of this for you and walks you through it!)
- Email your list once a week (this is important! If you skip this part, the next part will mean NOTHING!)
- Keep making new freebies to help your list grow and grow over time.
- Use your email to sell affiliate products and your own products (read on to hear about those things!)
After you’ve got Convertkit all set up, it’s time to find more affiliate programs to join that fit your niche.
This is very important to know that you should really never promote something to your email list if you have not been emailing them every single week! I mean it. Never in a million years do this! This is like the worst possible practice for bloggers. If you are going to be selling anything to your email list (and I really recommend that you do sell to them!), make sure that you are doing it AFTER you have built a relationship with them by sending emails every single week.
Okay. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is just another word for selling other people’s products to your list. The way that works, is that you will earn a commission for every product that you sell.
Each affiliate program is completely different. Everyone has different rules, commissions, cookies, and a lot of different other things. ( That’s all just a fancy way of saying the amount that you earn per affiliate program is totally different.)
There are a few different ways that you can find affiliate programs that you can join.
Before we can get into finding specific affiliate programs for you, here are some general ones that you can join no matter what your niche is:
Amazon – Literally EVERYONE shops on Amazon. Their commission isn’t the highest (AT ALL!!!) but it’s easy to link to Amazon and earn because seriously… everyone buys from Amazon!
Ultimate Bundles – Ultimate Bundles is a company that makes big bundles of a product that they sell for a huge discount. They have bundles for almost every niche imaginable: essential oils, productivity, finance, blogging, homemaking, photography, and more.
Share-A-Sale & CJ.com – Both of these are separate affiliate networks. They’re places where a BUNCH of affiliate programs are housed. It’s easy to search and find new programs to join. It’s also easy to find the links to share all in one place.
Back to finding affiliate programs for YOUR niche…
The first place that you can look at is looking at the products that you already use on a day-to-day basis. What are some of the things that you are all the time sharing with your friends? Is there an app that you can’t live without? Do you have an all-time favorite laundry detergent that you can’t shut up about? Did you take a course that changed your whole life? These are all different things that you can be an affiliate for!
The next thing you can do when you’re looking for affiliate programs to join is to see what other bloggers in your niche are promoting. You can do this by going on to the sites of big bloggers in your niche and just looking around at what kinds of links and programs they’re talking about. This also works really well if they share their income report! It will help you to see what programs there an affiliate for that are actually making the most money. This way, you don’t have to guess at what’s working!
Things NOT to do when affiliate marketing:
- Never promote something that you don’t actually like.
- If you feel like you have to fake what you’re saying about an affiliate product just for the sale, then this isn’t the affiliate product for you.
- Don’t just use “swipe copy” (aka – re-written emails from the product creator) to promote the product. It doesn’t sound like you and your people will notice.
- I said before, but it’s worth mentioning again because it’s so important, never only email your list when you’re trying to sell something! Never ever ever!
- Join every affiliate program imaginable and have every other word on your blog being a link to try to sell another product.
Things TO DO in affiliate marketing:
- Promote things as if you were talking to your sister, your mom, or your best friend. Make it easy, don’t be a used car salesman.
- Make sure that you are building a relationship with your list.
- Don’t only promote affiliate offers to your list. Put them inside of posts as well.
- Make promoting a product easy. Always make sure that you stand behind it.
Now, you can start to make your own products!
- An Honest Review of Bluehost
- How to Frugally Start a Blog on a Budget
- 5 Signs Blogging Isn’t for You (& 1 Sign You Should Start Today!)
- The Best Blog Hosting Sites for Making Money
- How to Start Using Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers
- 10+ Incredible FREE Blogging Resources
- 6 Steps to Take To Become A Full-Time Blogger
- 30+ Real Ways to Earn Money From Home
What do you want to blog about?
Tim Halloran says
Great post Caroline, thanks for sharing! I started blogging around the same time as you and found it was incredibly slow! Infuriating at times too! But I kept going and glad I did. It’s one of my favourites earners now, blogging – but there were times I nearly threw in the towel. I agree write as if you were writing to a friend or sibling. I enjoy writing now because i keep this in mind. It’s taken me a while too to get more fluent and into a writing groove. At first I was stuck for ideas but just writing every day got me into the routine and now it’s much easier!