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Starting a blog is not easy, you won’t make money for months, you will have to learn new things, and you will often question continuing with it. Why do I start off with this type of warning? Because I wish someone had warned me.
For three years I studied, researched, learned everything I could about blogging. I researched Niche sites, personal blogs, blogging for money, selling courses and anything else that goes with blogging. I have failed more than I’ve succeeded, yet I’m a blogging success story.
Blogging has been an adventure for me and not one I’m going to give up anytime soon. In fact it’s become such a passion for me that I’m beginning to give tips and advice on how to blog for money.
You see I have two blogs, one of them is a niche blog. The other is my mommy blog. I make a full time income on these blogs and it’s time for there to be a voice among the mommy bloggers that can speak to making money running a blog. Especially a voice that isn’t shy about giving away the good stuff.
Blogging, setting up a blog, building an email list, selling anything, is difficult as hell!
Starting a blog isn’t 7 steps to a money making blog or start a blog in one weekend and make lots of money. Anyone who tells you this is doing nothing more than trying to get eyes on their website. There is so much more to each of these steps that nobody tells you. Until now.
Step 1: Start Writing Content
I know what you are thinking, “how the hell do I write content if I don’t even have a blog yet?”
Well let’s take a look at the typical plan. You pick a name, pick hosting, pick a theme and then you start writing content and marketing that content. You read about how you should have a posting schedule of three times a week. It takes you 5 months to get enough content posted to actually grab the attention of enough people that you get enough visitors to your site regularly.
You want to build this blog to be as successful as possible as quickly as you can right? Then the very first step is to write content.
By getting into a daily routine of writing for your blog you are essentially setting yourself up for avoiding the biggest culprit of blogger burnout, writers block.
Set yourself up to have 20-50 posts ready to go when you launch your blog, this is enough content for people to stick around. As well as enough content to pique the interests to get more people to your blog. Keep in mind, while you are writing content you can continue on to the next steps so as soon as you are ready to launch you can do so.
Step 2: Pick a Domain name.
Prices vary for what type of domain you are getting. However, Name Cheap is inexpensive and their setup is easy to use. My husband insists on separating domain name and hosting because if you end up in a dispute with your web hosting your domain can’t be held hostage. It’s just general good practice.
As far as picking a domain, seriously this could take weeks. It took weeks to figure out the domain name for this site and it was one sleepless night on a whim that Rob mentioned it. I got lucky because it was perfect for how I wanted my site branded.
You will have your heart set on something and it will be taken. You will love an idea and someone will poke holes in it till you hate it. The struggle of picking a domain name is real.
Pick something that makes sense for you. Your name should compliment your brand. It should be easy to remember. Shorter names are better and easier to remember though I’m sure there is an argument to be made for bossassbitchsuperherowonderwoman.com.
Step 3: Pick Hosting
When I first started my blog I went with Dreamhost. Since then we have switched over to a cloud server with Digital Ocean. I absolutely love Digital Ocean, but I have a website developer on hand who can set up and manage my server.
If you do not have a techy person available to you and you are not capable of setting up a cloud server instance, I highly recommend SiteGround. With my developer walking me through the different hosting companies I can say without a shadow of a doubt SiteGround is the better host company to go with when you are first starting your blog.
I’m not a big hard sell person but I want you to think of this blog as a money making business. Do not skimp on the most important thing by going with a sub-par hosting service that might go down with a spike in traffic. Go with SiteGround.
Step 4: Install WordPress
I personally use WordPress for the ease of everything. It’s the blogging platform I know best. However, it is not the only one out there. There are so many different blogging platforms out there. Joomla, Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix to name a few. Some blogging platforms charge while others are free. Which is part of the draw for WordPress.org.
The downfall to using WordPress is that about 20% of the web is built on WordPress, which means it’s a target for outside attacks. To prevent this from happening there are a few things you can do.
Make sure you keep your themes, plugins, and WordPress updated with the latest updates. You’ll also want to create back ups of your site frequently.
In the near future I will have a list of posts and helpful information regarding protecting your blog.
If you are completely new to WordPress and need to learn your way around I highly suggest checking out YouTube for tutorials. YouTube and Google will become your new best friend over the next several months as you look for tutorials and tips for learning the technical side of blogging.
Step 5: Pick a Theme
Sure just grab any theme and use that. When I see bloggers write about this step it irritates the crap out of me. They don’t tell you what to look for in a theme. They don’t tell you about responsiveness. Plus they give little to no tips on how to customize the theme. Picking a theme honestly is the most time consuming step and a lot goes into it.
There is so much to consider when picking a theme I could create an entire post and even a series of posts about it. I’m going to give you the basics of what you need to look for in a theme below.
Matches your brand
Does the theme you are looking at match your brand? If you were not the creator of this blog, would you see the design and feel as though it matches or suits the brand of the website well?
When going through themes be sure to try to match as closely as you can to the layout you envision. The least amount of work you need to put into the theme the better. Changing colors or fonts is not difficult but adding a jumbotron or large banner to your site can be a little more time consuming. With the right theme it’ll be done for you.
People like to throw around terms without really understanding what it means. I’ll be flat out honest with you. Responsive Web Design is not my strong suit. In fact I still struggle with this concept.
Basically responsiveness in web design has to do with the way a website behaves. A site should work well no matter the screen size, browser, or even orientation that it’s being viewed on.
Your website should work well not only on a 24 inch flat screen monitor but also a 5 inch phone or tablet. It should work in Chrome and in Firefox. If the theme you pick works great on Chrome but doesn’t on Firefox you will lose possible readers. If the theme you pick works great on your desktop or laptop but looks horrendous or is unreadable on your smartphone, then it’s not a responsive theme.
Easy to Customize
The last thing you want to do is take a theme and use a theme and not customize that theme. You will want to add logos, pictures, or change the color scheme or fonts used. So when you pick a theme make sure it’s easy for you to understand and change.
If you are having difficulty changing a certain aspect of your theme, do a google search for an answer. Each theme is different so be sure you know the name of your theme.
Play with the Themes
Before you pick a theme, pick out 4 or 5 you really like that meet the qualifications of what you are looking for in a theme. From there you will play around with them. Add pictures, change wording and fonts, really get a feel for the themes. This will help you to narrow it down to the theme of your choice.
Step 6: Customize your theme.
This is the part where you will go through and spend weeks on end customizing your theme. If a blogger is telling you how you can build a blog in a day, a weekend, a week. RUN! Unlike some bloggers you probably have a job, children, a business, a family, and obligations that will prevent you from doing this. Unless you are a professional web designer and developer building a site in a weekend is the biggest lie a blogger can tell a new blogger.
Not to mention if you are only spending a weekend to build your website you are doing it wrong! This is your blog, your brand, your business. You will spend hours on this website teaching, selling, spreading the word, and whatever else your blog is about. The bloggers that are trying to sell you on blogging as a get rich quick tactic are terrifying and quite frankly shouldn’t have a blog.
You will spend the next 2-6 weeks customizing your blog, making sure everything appears where it needs to appear. Making sure it loads quickly, the pictures are right, the positioning is good, that no matter what device you are on your blog will be displayed in the best way possible. You will make sure your blog is enticing, informative, gets right down to the point, and has that sparkle you want it to have.
Now there is a point where you need to accept good enough. The truth is you will probably go through a few redesigns in the next few years anyways. The point now is to make sure it’s good enough for you to get it up and running and hopefully making money within the first year.
Step 7: Email List Building
Reach out to your entire facebook friends list and see who would be interested in your blog. Message each person personally. What’s the worst that happens. Someone you barely spoke to in high school says No? BooHoo. Next.
You could easily get your first 100 subscribers from doing that tactic alone. Then you can start working on getting your first 1,000 subscribers by posting on social media. Create a landing page that gets people to sign up for your list before you start posting. Share some of your posts with that list. Create a free small email course, or send out a free product as an incentive.
When you are ready to go live with your blog you will email your list and let them know to check out the finished product. This will help you to get people to your site.
When it comes to picking an email service to work with you might be tempted to go with free. If you must go with free I recommend MailerLite, though beware there is an approval period and if your site isn’t up and running yet you may be declined.
I highly recommend going with ConvertKit. Email will most likely be an important part of your business plan and because of that it’s important to great program from the start.
Step 8: Go Live
It’s time to go live. You have all your posts ready, you have all your images created, you have social media planned out. Go ahead and go live. Pull down the maintenance page and go live.
Do not expect thousands of visitors that first day. Just start marketing your blog on Pinterest and social media. Keep writing, keep marketing, and keep working at it.
Step 9: No, you will not profit…right away.
It may take months or even years before you see a profit from your business. I personally have not seen profit, yet. I’m a new blogger, and I hope one day to update this post and say, “Hell yea, I’m living the life I want.”
Update 1-17-18: Hell yea, I’m living the life I want. Ok, not quite, but as of December 15th 2017 I became a full time blogger. I’m also seeing massive growth over the last few weeks on my blog. In fact, this month looks to completely replace all of my previous income from side gigs. You can check out December’s Income Report here.
Update 10-18-19: I am making more now than I ever made at a job. This year alone I’ll be making close to $50,000 from just my mommy blog alone. It takes time and work but it’s worth it. Every blogging post below will be updated soon with loads more of helpful tips. I also have big plans for the 2020, make sure you subscribe to my list to get notification of those plans.
In order to profit on your blog you need to be consistent in building your list, posting regularly, and sharing to your social media channels. You need to have strategies in place to build your business as a blogger. You need to know how you are going to monetize your blog and what steps you need to take to do so.
For more information on starting a blog here are some things you will need to know before launching:
For posts on marketing your blog check out:
- How Manual Pinning Grows Your Blog.
- Which Social Network Should you Focus On?
- Actionable Tips to Up your Social Media Game
- Blog Marketing Plan: More than just Pinterest
Other helpful posts:
I believe the key to building a blog and a business that makes money is simply to continue working at it. Dedicate yourself to learning new things about blogging, take courses, and keep posting.
Recommended Products and Courses
- Host with Siteground for as little as $4 a month.
- ShareASale Affiliate Network (I have checked all of the affiliate networks, ShareASale has the best platform for finding, joining, and sharing affiliate programs.
- ConvertKit for email marketing.
Follow me on Pinterest and pin this post to return to it throughout your blog building time. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.