Follow these steps to find out how to create a blog and make money on a side
Do you want to learn how to start a blog?
You keep reading everywhere about how easy it is to start a blog and how you can make money blogging instantly.
You’ll learn how to start a blog today in 6 easy steps that’ll take about 10 to 15 minutes.
I have been blogging for the last 10 years and started several blogs. I also run large companies' blogs to increase their revenues with content marketing.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for SEMRush, Bluehost and Wix, and will receive a commission if you sign up through my referral link. This is at no additional cost to you, and you will get great pricing through my link for the best possible products that I use myself for my daily work with my clients.
Click here to start a blog with WordPress, then use this tutorial below for easy directions.
If you’re looking to start a WordPress blog for cheap, then choosing Bluehost for your hosting needs may be your answer. Bluehost is a great web host and I personally have had a great experience with them.
How to create a blog and make money in 7 easy steps
Learn how to start a blog by following these simple steps:
Are you using these ideas to monetise your content?
1. Register your blog name and pick a niche
You can click here to purchase a domain name and create a blog, then continue to follow the easy steps below.
The very first thing you will need to do when starting a WordPress blog on Bluehost is to think about what you want your domain name to be. This can be tough, and I would give some serious thought to this.
I decided to come up with my own name and surname because I wanted to build a personal brand around Luca Tagliaferro. But this might not be your goal, so you might want to do something else with your blog. Choose a name that people can spell easily and without any spelling mistakes. As a general rule, the shorter, the better.
Your blog’s niche is the general topic area that you’ll be focusing your content around. Examples include topics like travel, food, fashion, lifestyle, technology, and otherwise. Incorporating a word or two that clearly signals what your content is about, within the name of your blog (like travelshouse.com or watchlucawrite.com)—will be very helpful for your future blog readers.
My top tips to pick a name are:
Catchy: pick a name easy to remember
Easy: make it easy to spell
Short: and sweet
Memorable: pick a name that relates to you and what you want to write about
Advantages and disadvantages of using your own name
Do you want to choose your own name? Great choice! One of the main advantages can be that the whole blogging activity will be associated with your name, and this helps spread your name around. When you'll write guest blogs, it's easier for you to be recognized as an expert in your niche.
On the opposite side, think about what your name means for the niche you have chosen. Probably not much. If your name is Joseph for example, and you want to write about travel blogs, your name doesn't mean anything. But that's not a problem, you can call it Josephtravels.com, for example.
What if I can't pick a name?
If you can't decide on your blog name, you can start today like most of us do. Start anyway! Blog niches and names are relatively important for the success of your blog. The most successful companies and bloggers have names that have literally nothing to do with what they write about or what they sell. I am an example myself. Or take Coca Cola, Apple, Google, Amazon. Imagine you didn't know those companies, do their name matter? Probably not.
Can I change my blog name later?
Yes, you can easily change the name of your blog later, you’ll just need to buy a new domain name (around $10). While the name you choose for your blog is important, it’s something you can always change in the future—so don’t let this step hold you back.
What happens if my name isn't available?
When you start your blog with a hosting company like Bluehost, they’ll let you choose your domain name later. If the domain name you want isn’t available, don’t get hung up at this stage—just select their option to choose your name later after getting everything else set up and you can have more time to think (remember, execution is what you’re here for, not perfection).
2. Buy hosting for your blog (get it online)
The second step in starting a blog, is actually getting your blog online. That’s what a web hosting company will do for you. In this step, you’ll be selecting the blogging platform and web hosting plan you’ll use to get your blog online.
Before we go about selecting a platform and web hosting, let's talk about blog expenses.
In order to receive the cheapest alternative for web hosting, all you need to do is choosing the Basic option at $3.95/month. This is a special offer if you click on my link, it also includes 60 days refund guarantee, no questions asked. It's only valid for my link and if you buy for 36 months. If you sign up for 24 months, it will cost 20% more and if you buy for 12 months, another additional 20% extra.
The Basic plan is all you need, for now, you can skip the Plus, Choice Plus and Pro plans as they are more expensive. You can always change later when your blog will grow in readers and GB of storage. The amount of money you spend on the Plus and Pro plans is not justified at this stage, so you don't need them.
You also don't need to buy hosting for unlimited websites, if you are a single person blogger like myself, all you have is 1 website so the Basic plan will do perfectly fine, for the moment.
All the things that you need like SSL encryption to make your domain secure and 25 subdomains are, to be honest with you, even more than many standard websites even display.
As you can see in the image below, when you choose the 36-months plan from Bluehost hosting company, you'll also get a FREE domain name, which comes useful because you can save money. One domain name could cost you from $5 to unlimited money, I have seen domain names costing $5,000 for the value they convey in terms of marketing.
Also, another thing I have to say is that you probably don't need to buy the extra upgrades Bluehost is providing at this stage. The only one you really need is the Domain Privacy Protection, this means nobody can associate your personal name and home address with your domain name. It's a level of privacy I recommend.
But with regards to SiteLock Security and Codeguards, you can skip those ones.
PICK YOUR BLOG'S DOMAIN NAME
After you have chosen a plan, the next step is choosing your blog domain's name.
During your checkout process, when you get to this point, you can create your domain name. If you don't have a domain name at this stage, you can skip this step. Even if you do have a domain name, but it's not available, you can still skip this section and add it later.
Have a look at the image below. Simply click to "I'll create my domain later".
Alternative web hosting platforms worth considering
Siteground - I have hosted 5 websites on Siteground in the last 3 years and still have a couple of them. They offer similar features as Dreamhost. They also offer 1-click Wordpress installation and for those blog wanting to offer e-commerce, they also offer WooCommerce installation. WooCommerce is the official WordPress e-commerce platform.
In terms of costs, they cost a much as Dreamhost at $2,95/month for their StartUp Plan, which includes 1 website, free WordPress integration and up to 10,000 visitors per month.
3. Install WordPress
Okay, this is probably the step that all of you have been waiting for. If you want to start a WordPress blog on Bluehost then continue reading.
This part isn’t hard at all. Bluehost makes it very easy to create a WordPress blog and it is FREE.
After you create your password, Bluehost guides you through exactly what you need to do in order to create a blog.
First, Bluehost will ask you to pick a theme. You can just pick a random one here or find one that you actually like. You can change it later so it’s not a big deal or just scroll to the bottom and skip this step. Remember, there are many free ones too!
Click on “Start Building”
On the next screen, you can choose “Business” or “Personal” – it’s up to you. Or, you can click the “I don’t need help.”
WOOHOO! You now have a WordPress blog. You will have to work on the design and producing high-quality content, of course. Good luck!
If you sign up for Bluehost, but you are confused for any reason (such as how to set it up, picking a plan, pricing, etc.), you can always send me an email and I can help you out. That’s what I’m here for so don’t be afraid to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. How to get content ideas
Think about this. What's the reason why you read a blog?
Does it look nice?
Do they publish frequently?
Are the articles long and informative?
All those things help, but they are not the main reason.
You read the blog because you care about what they say. Creating strong content is what will bring you readers and help you to eventually make money blogging can be a very profitable venture.
This is why the first thing you need to do, is come up with content ideas that people want to read about.
Here are 3 ideas for finding content people care about, with examples.
Idea number 1: writing based on your personal passion
While there are some risks in choosing a blog niche based on your interests, it certainly doesn't have to be a receipt for disaster. Using your own know-how to create interesting and valuable content can be extremely profitable.
For start, writing about your own passion can help you stay motivated because starting a blog and making money out of it, it's not simple and you'll have to overcome lots of hurdles and problems if you are deeply invested in what you are creating.
Eric Bandholz started beardband as a blog discussing sales and business strategy. Slowly, his passion for beards crept into the blog. Over time, he turned his passion for the bearded lifestyle into a separate and successful ecommerce business selling beard-grooming products.
Do I need to start finding my niche early?
The example above suggest you don't have to. You can write about things that simply interest you without a precise calendar or strategy to stick to. However, it's advisable that you find a niche soon rather than later, the reason being that you inform your audience on how to find you and it's easier for when you connect with other bloggers.
Do I need to learn how to position my website on search engine?
With billions of queries searched every day on Google, you probably have to learn SEO quite early. Users go to Google and Bing to find information, make a purchase, find new websites and these search engines have all content organised in search results. If you want your blog to come on top, you should definitely learn SEO.
Idea number 2: consider your professional experience
Has working in a particular industry made you know the ins and outs? Maybe you have a skill set that is particularly attractive and you can use it to start writing about a particular topic?
Turning your work experience into a blog is a smart way to enter a market with a leg up that isn't easy for others to copy and duplicate.
Retro Supply is an online shop that sells digital assets for graphic designers and illustrators inspired by history. Founder Dustin Lee, a designer by trade, pivoted from a running a freelance web design shop to generating more passive revenue through Retro Supply’s blog, then turning it into a digital shop.
Idea number 3: read customers reviews on trendy products
Whether you already have a blog or not, there is a wealth of insight you can glean from customer reviews.
If you already have an established blog that monetizes as a side income, you are most probably promoting other companies' products and you can see what customers are saying about the products you promote. Are there are any trends or interesting bits of feedback you can use as inspiration to write about?
If you don’t currently have a blog, have a look at customer reviews for other brands and products in the industry you want to explore. What “wishlist” feedback is being shared about potential improvements to already successful products?
You pick and choose lots of products online and check if they have an affiliate program. If so, you join as an affiliate and write reviews for those products.
Andrea Pilotti is the founder of GuidaAcquisti.net, the largest Italian reviews website for households products. Andrea and his team review on a daily basis washing machine, fridges, technology products. Then they join the affiliate programs and with this type of content, without even having an online shop, they generate six digits profit per year.
5. Prepare keywords research and editorial plan
Your official website is now ready to be published. Now you can really start to create contents.
Everything is exciting, beautiful...but what content should we write about? Use the list above on how to start with content ideas, this is a very good starting point.
But what if you come up with ideas that people are actually not interested about? Let's say you are a mum with many ideas around solf play games with your children (I know about this because I have one child myself), but how do you know for sure that there is a demand for this type of topic?
This is when keywords research comes to help.
The starting point of your keyword research is exactly your niche. When you have a niche, try searching Facebook posts or head down to Quora.com to find out what are the most common questions. Let's continue with the soft play example and see which common questions are frequently asked:
What are the best indoor children games?
Where can I buy soft play equipment for the house?
Why is it important to have a play area for kids?
These actually questions that I have searched on Quora myself, so they are real questions people are asking.
Now, write down 5-10 questions and ideas including your own ideas and topics that you want to talk about. This is the base for your keywords research.
There are also other methods to find ideas for your content.
One of the most used tools is AnswerThePublic.com
Before starting this guide, I have searched "how to start a blog", for example. As a result, you'll find all the questions and searches people have made on the topic of how to start a blog. This can help when you'll have to niche down your articles.
The more your articles will answer people's questions, the more your audience will find them interesting.
Once we have found out about the topics, we need to think about numbers: this is when we check search volumes, which means how many times per month a keyword is searched.
The best keyword volumes for a brand new blog are those between 500 and 800 searches per month. If they have less searches there is risk that you won't get enough traffic to your website. If they are higher than that, you'll have to compete with much more established and powerful blogs and it will be really hard to climb on top of search engines.
There are a few tool that allow you to search keywords volumes. My favourite is SEMRush because it can go from basic to super advanced SEO functionalities for all bloggers and it allows you to analyse hundreds of factors contributing to search engines rankings.
Pro Tip: create a free account with SEMRush now because it will one of your best allies to count on when growing your blog.
I strongly advise you to start the 7 days free trial provided by SEMRush. This will allow you to explore it for a week at no costs, including all the premium functionalities.
If you decide you don't want to use it, just download all the data you have found and cancel your free trial before the end of the 7 days. You'll have enough material for at leat 1 year and you won't be billed for anything. You can also keep using SEMRush for free in its limited version.
But let's come back to where we were.
Below you'll see, for example, the results for the keyword research "how to start a blog". Especially if you have basic skills, I advise you to opt for some keywords that have a low Keyword Difficulty, because this way you have better chances of positioning your blog on Google.
I can assure you it's very frustrating writing dozens and dozens of articles that nobody will ever read.
In this case how can you choose a keyword that has a lower Keyword Difficulty? The answer is very simple, just opt for the long and medium tail keywords.
What are the long tail keywords?
Long tail are longer keywords, real phrases, that have lower search volumes but also a lower competition and difficulty.
According to Hubspot, 50% of total queries on search engines is composed by four or more words. This means that more than half of the global search queries is about something specific. Going back to the example of "start a blog" (also called short tail keyword), here are a few examples of long tail keywords:
how to start a successful blog in 2021
how to start a blog with Wordpress
how can I start a fitness blog
SEMRush offers you many solutions about the long tail keywords you need to use, showing you how they are used by your direct competitors, what are the regional and global volumes, how you should structure your article and what are the semantically-related keywords that you should insert to give you better chances to climb up on Google.
You can also download the free e-book from SEMRush that will explain you in a very detailed way how to analyse your competitors.
There are also other tools you can use for this task, including Google Keyword Planner that will help you with planning your paid advertising on Google.
These are the search engine optimisation tools that I advise you to use regularly:
Answer the Public
Moz Keyword Explorer
Taking a step further: how to brainstorm smart blog post ideas (using keywords research)
You have to do smart keywords research in order to generate the right blog ideas that will actually bring you readers.
The beauty of a blog is that you can write whatever you want, but it doesn't always come naturally. That's why I believe a simple content calendar. It's just a roadmap to give you some indication of what needs to be written.
Here is how you can come up with keywords ideas:
Brainstorm topics and write them all down: Start by writing down as many ideas or keywords that you can. Aim for things you know your target audience would find valuable.
Use a keyword research tool to gather even more ideas: Use a keyword research tool like SEMRush (pictured above), Twinword Ideas (free), or Moz to get more ideas.
Lump similar ideas together: Take all of your terms and start to refine them. Are there duplicates that you can lump together?
Put your ideas in a spreadsheet and prioritize: Now, turn to your editorial calendar spreadsheet and include your keyword, estimated search volume, difficulty and opportunity. Looking at all these, assign a priority to each one topic, on a scale of 1-5 (or a basic High-Medium-Low).
Outline content that hits all three key needs: Take your top priorities and set deadlines for them. Look for topics that hit all three key needs: Fits your niche, are genuine needs of your readers, and have potential to drive traffic to your blog from search engines.
Once you have nailed keywords research, it's time to prepare your editorial calendar. I don't think there are any definitions about editorial calendar, so I'll make up mine own:
"An editorial plan is a document (Excel, Word, etc,) that helps us to create an editorial strategy for our blog and in which we include all the keywords we want to target, related keywords data, blog titles and other info so that we can build a strategic plan for the blog."
That's because a blog is, most of all, a business and you should approach it that way. You would never trust a company that doesn't plan, right?
I have even prepared an editorial plan that you can use for your own projects. It's the same plan that I use with my clients and it's very useful whether you delegate writing to content writers or you write them yourself.
Download the content calendar here (it's free, no email required).
Next Pro Tip: many of the guides that you'll find on the web stop right here. But I have decided to go an extra mile and explain you some of the things that you need to start and run a blog, if you want your blogging business to be successful and sustainable.
It's hard to find such a detailed, long and valuable guide elsewhere. Most of all, it's hard to find a guide that really generates revenue for you. I don't do any theory or fluff, but I share my experience of 10 years in digital marketing, of which 8 building and growing blogs with thousand of visitors per day.
Before you get too far down the road of creating a blog post, laying down your content calendar and writing your first blog post, you need to answer one simple question... Why?
Why do you care for the topic you are blogging about?
Why should other people listen to what you are saying?
Why is this a topic that you can add value to?
Writing a blog post headline that encourages readers to click through
One of the reasons you chose to start a blog was to attract readers, right? Well, it pays dividends to put some effort into learning how to write a headline that’ll entice readers and most importantly—deliver on the promise of what your article is actually helping readers to accomplish.
So let’s say you’ve determined that your hiking blog should start by breaking down some underrated walks in Southern Hampshire. Next, click into the “Add title” bar on your new post page and type in a title like…
"15 scenic walks you have never heard of in Hampshire"
As a starting point to writing a strong title, learn by observing the headlines of other successful bloggers in your niche:
Do they often lead with numbers?
How many of their article headlines include parentheses?
Does it seem like a best practice to capitalize the first letter of every word?
Check out a few of the most recent headlines from my blog so you can get some inspiration on how you might want to structure your headlines.
If you’re still unsure about how to title a new post, then do a Google search for the target keyword phrase you’re going after and gather inspiration for the ways other titles are written—be sure not to directly copy other bloggers, but that’ll point you in the right direction.
Now, if like me, you appreciate great design—before you hit publish on your first blog post, there’s one last step you could take.
Studies show that blog posts with images get 94% more views than those without. And when it comes to posts getting shared on social media, tweets with photos get 150% more retweets that those without one, while Facebook posts with images get 2.3X more engagement. Adding a few visual elements can almost double your amount of views and expand the shares a blog post gets.
6. How to write your first WordPress article
Now that your editorial plan is ready, it's finally time to start writing your first WordPress article. Go to WordPress and click to Posts > Add New Post.
To write an effective post that can check all the boxes for Google and your readers, you should pay attention to a few things.
First of all, you always have to write quality contents that could make a difference. I know this is something you'll see everywhere in the marketing world, but look at how many blogs you have out there that are simply rubbish. Here are my personal opinions on what makes an article "valuable":
Offer solutions that can be applied straight away, give you readers something to do;
Show off your skills and experience and support your statements with authoritative citations, real case studies and results;
Help people in a genuine and honest way;
Make your posts headlines attention grabbing without getting into click-baiting. There are many tools that can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your headlines. As I have explained in my article: "How to write effective headlines that grab attention: 25 examples and tips to improve your headlines"
Add images, videos and infographic images in your articles that could help your readers get into more details;
Write short and clear sentences, exactly as I am doing myself in this guide. Leave many white spaces that help reading on the screen, which is notoriously more difficult than reading on paper;
Use bullets points, both numbered and unordered;
Use sub-headlines such as H2 and H3 to facilitate posts reading;
Highlight with bold or Italic to make a point and grab people's attention on a word;
Even if it doesn't exist a minimum word count, write posts with more than 1,000 words.
7. Are you using these monetisation ideas?
In the last month of 2020 (that is December), my blog generated $9,807.97 in revenue.
I share this not to brag, but so that you’ll understand I know what I’m talking about when it comes to starting a blog and making a generous side income with it. Moreover, I’ll be the first to tell you that these kinds of income figures are typical with blogging—and that it’s taken me less than 2 years to reach this point in my blog business.
Even if monetisation doesn't come quickly, especially if you start your blog from scratch, it’s good to have an idea of which ways you’d like to make money blogging as you go into this new adventure. Some of these monetisation strategies will be easier than others to implement while your readership is still growing.
When it comes to my favourite techniques to generate money, I tell you right now that I don't use any Google AdSense and that I have a few affiliate links in my blog as I have joined only 5 affiliate programs so I almost generate no passive income.
1. Freelancing (selling your services)
If you want to begin earning from your blog as quickly as possible, then selling your services (by landing SEO jobs, freelance writing gigs or otherwise selling your expertise as a service) is the easiest option by far.
All you really need in order to land a freelance client, is a strong enough pitch, which is where choosing to start a blog (first) will help significantly. You’ll want to build out your key pages (About, Contact, Hire Me) and showcase at least a couple examples of the type of work you’ve done that you’ll soon be pitching freelance clients on.
Today, I still regularly book new freelance clients on Fiverr Pro and I’m brought on to advise and execute on creating blog marketing campaigns for many organizations.
If freelancing sounds like your cup of tea, you’ll want to read my guide on how to become a Fiverr Pro Seller.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Like we mentioned earlier, affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetise your blog, and it’s certainly at the top of our list. Why? Because it’s simple, passive income – just how it should be. If you aren’t already familiar, affiliate marketing is essentially a practice that bloggers use to refer their readers to products or brands, with whom they have an affiliate marketing partnership. Brands will pay you a percentage of a purchase made if the purchase was made through your website or linked from your website.
This example from entrepreneur.com is a great one:
“For example, if you’re running a fitness blog, you can easily sell affiliate health, weight loss, or body building supplements. Since the content is already attracting people that are interested in fitness, selling these types of products helps you to create a near-automated stream of passive income.”
Most of the biggest brands have affiliate programs. Think companies like Amazon, all the way down to key players in specific niches like online education where brands like CreativeLive and Udemy have lucrative programs.
eBooks are another great way to make money online because you can write them yourself and sell them yourself.
Essentially, your blog is already one big eBook, but now you can expand a bit more on some of the topics that you frequently write about for your most interested readers.
You can even promote your eBook through your blog posts by saying something like, “if you’re looking for some more information on this topic, I recently wrote an eBook that goes a bit deeper. For just $Xx.xx, you can purchase it here!”
eBooks really are great because you can get people to not only subscribe to your blog, but to get on board with what you have to offer. From there, you can begin to use that eBook to not only earn you money, but to generate leads and build up your following.
4. Online Courses & Workshops
If you write about a technical or practical skill on your blog, it would be a wise idea to offer online courses and workshops. Not only would this be a fantastic way to market your brand, but it’ll also be a good way for your followers and readers to really get to know you as a person. It’s one thing to get to know someone by reading their writing, but it’s something entirely different to actually hear their voice and learn from them – even if it’s done remotely and at the other end of a screen.
For example, if you publish a blog on photography or design, it would be a good idea to create a course or a workshop based around a specific skill like lighting and printing, or even a Photoshop or Illustrator crash course.
5. Advertisements & Sponsorships
This one might be a bit harder to take advantage of because it’ll require you to have a clear and proven following for your blog.
Again, it’s not impossible, but it’ll certainly require some leg work to build up your blog from the ground up. You’ll want to have a web designer or developer build in some advertising space on your blog, but you’ll also want to ensure that it doesn’t disrupt the experience of your readers.
After all, how often would you return back to a blog that was difficult to read because an ad would pop up on the screen every 5 minutes or so? You wouldn’t!
However, it is worth considering that these types of advertisements and sponsorships can be quite lucrative, but you’ll have to make it work in a way that makes sense. It’s all trial and error.
6. Start a Podcast
This is a new one that we’re only recommending because it’s clear that the podcast craze is more than just a craze – it’s a full-blown industry, and it’s growing quickly. The best part about podcasting is that it takes relatively little effort to create or to publish, and you can certainly turn a nice profit if you’ve got a following of people willing to read and listen to what you have to say.
For instance, your blog could be a space where you introduce the topics that you plan to talk about later on in your podcast. With a short blog post, you can easily lay the ground work for a two hour podcast that your readers would have to pay for if they want to listen.
Not to mention, you can also use your blog as a place to promote your podcast and to have your listeners continue the conversation. It’s a great way to stay modern, current, and on-trend too.
It's time to monetise your blog
Now that you’ve heard all about our top 6 ways to monetize your blog, it’s time to put them to the test. If you’ve already got your blog established, it should be as simple as picking the strategy that works best for you. From there, you can hit the ground running.
And if you want to learn all the strategies I use so that you too can monetize your blog, you have to read my 11 detailed methods on how to monetize your blog.
Conclusion and takeaways
We are at the end of this long guide on how to create a blog and monetise it. The information I have provided is really a lot and maybe you'll feel a bit confused right now.
Don't worry, it's a normal process, you'll always feel overwhelmed when you learn new information.
Ultimately, growing a successful blog all boils down to being excited and engaged with your new blog. If you want people to read what you’re writing, you need to give them a reason to.
Write exciting content, connect with people in your niche and enthusiastically share what you’re working on.
The traffic, monetization and everything else will follow.
I wrote this guide because starting a blog has been one of the most empowering, life-changing decisions I’ve made in my life.
And I hope that by now you feel confident enough to go out there and start a blog of your own.
Quick summary of how ti start a blog in 2021:
Are you using these ideas to monetise your content?
Will you take the leap and start your own blog this year? Drop me a line in the comments below.