Do you love to write? Starting a blog and making money from its content isn’t easy, but if you have the right writing style and an interesting story to tell, you can build an audience and generate income from advertising, product sales and services.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to start a blog and make money through advertising programs, list building and email marketing, and developing your own product to market to your blog’s readers.
Don’t think blogging is worth it? Discover hundreds of reasons to start a blog, from personal branding and marketing benefits to the advertising income that a popular blog can generate with Why You Should Be Blogging.
Choosing a blogging platform
A wide variety of blogging platforms (also known as content management systems or CMSes) are available. Today, the most popular blogging platform is WordPress – an open source CMS that’s used by more than 60 million different websites.
In addition to WordPress, there are a variety of other free and paid blog platforms available. These include Blogger, Typepad, Drupal and free hosted micro-blogging platforms like Tumblr and Posthaven.
WordPress is built for both static website development and blogging, but it’s best used for personal and commercial blogs. Whether you like to blog about cooking, marketing or technology, WordPress is the perfect blogging platform for you.
What makes WordPress such as powerful option for bloggers is that it’s incredibly easy to tweak and customize. If you want to give your blog a new look, you can use one of the thousands of free and paid WordPress templates that are available.
It’s also very easy to configure WordPress for optimal search engine visibility. With a few small tweaks and a couple of WordPress SEO plugins and extensions, you can make sure your blog posts rank prominently for their target search keywords.
Are you completely new to blogging? Learn how to set up your first WordPress blog and configure it with your own design, page structure, domain name and more with our WordPress for Beginners course.
Do you already have a WordPress blog that’s starting to attract readers? Learn how to make your WordPress website more visible to Google and achieve higher search engine rankings with WordPress SEO Rocket.
Selecting a topic to blog about
Once you’ve set up your WordPress blog, it’s time to work out what topic you’d like to blog about. There are thousands of successful blogs out there covering a massive variety of topics, so don’t feel put off if your favorite hobby is unusual or obscure.
From gardening to coin collecting, there’s a blog community for every hobby. There is also a huge community of business bloggers covering every topic from marketing and advertising to career development and professional success.
Think of a topic that you love to write about and that you think other people would be interested in reading about. A fantastic way to discover new topics to blog about is by searching for them using Google Trends and assessing their popularity.
If you’d like to generate income from your blog, it’s important that you pick a topic that can easily be monetized. Some topics, such as business development, are easy to monetize, whereas hobbyist blogs often have significantly less income potential.
Whichever topic you choose to blog about, it’s important to fight through writer’s block and post content on a frequent basis. Learn how to build a writing schedule that you can follow to publish great blog content with Power Blogging.
Building your blog’s audience
Blogging for blogging’s sake is fun, but it’s much more satisfying to see your hard work attracting an audience of loyal readers. Building an audience of readers for your blog is challenging, but with the right strategy you can make it happen.
Many of the Internet’s biggest blogs attract millions of unique readers per month thanks to a combination of great content, smart marketing and an experience that readers can’t find elsewhere.
Start building your blog’s audience by writing content that you think your readers will respond well to. Study the topics that perform well on other blogs within your circle of readership and use them as inspiration for your own blog posts.
Remember that you’re using other blog posts as inspiration – not as source material for your own posts. Be creative, personal and unique when you write your content, as readers (and Google) can spot plagiarized blog content from a mile away.
Once you’ve developed a base of high quality content, it’s time to start finding new readers for your blog. One of the best strategies for techniques readers is to write comments on blogs with a similar audience to the one you’d like to build.
These comments should be useful, packed with actionable information and helpful for readers. Don’t just spam your blog in the comments section – offer value and the readers of your target blogs will eventually start subscribing to your own.
Set a monthly target for yourself and keep building your audience day by day until you achieve it. Learn how to reach 10,000 monthly readers using the growth tactics to Launch and Grow Your Blog From 0 to 10,000 Monthly Readers.
Monetizing your blog
Is your blog generating consistent traffic? If so, you can start to monetize it to create a source of passive online income. With the right level of traffic – more importantly, the right type of traffic – your blog could generate a significant amount of revenue.
The amount that you can earn from your blog depends on several factors. The first is the niche of your blog. Blogs in niches like finance, business, law, and other valuable topics generate a higher CPM (cost-per-mille) than hobbyist or personal blogs.
CPM refers to the amount of revenue that’s generated per 1,000 visitors. If your blog is monetized using advertising from a network like Google AdSense, your CPM is the total amount that you’re paid per 1,000 views of each ad unit on your page.
AdSense is a good monetization method if your blog receives a large amount of non-commercial traffic. Blogs on topics like cooking, home renovations, world travel and other non-commercial topics can generate great revenue using AdSense ad units.
Would you like to learn how to monetize your blog using AdSense? Learn the secrets of maximizing your Google AdSense revenue with different ad units, placements and ad exchanges in our Making Money With Online Advertising course.
Does your blog cover a niche topic that few people know about? If your topic doesn’t generate high CPCs from Google AdSense, you might be able to increase your income by placing ads on your blog that promote an affiliate product.
This is called affiliate marketing, and it’s the process of earning a commission when you sell someone else’s product. Affiliate products range from software to e-books, health supplements, online coaching courses and more.
Would you like to generate affiliate marketing income from your blog? Learn about the top affiliate networks for cost-per-action, cost-per-sale and cost-per-lead offers in with Affiliate Marketing For Noobs.
Building an email list
While AdSense is a great way to generate revenue from your blog, it’s not a fantastic long-term income option. After all, AdSense pays for traffic, and the traffic your blog generates can fluctuate hugely over the course of the year.
To give yourself a more consistent, reliable source of blogging income, try building an email list made up of your blog readers. All you need to capture email addresses is a simple list building WordPress extension and a modal pop-up box.
Having an email list allows you to promote new blog posts to your readers, generate a surge of traffic whenever you have an important announcement, and – if you make your own product in the future, market it to your existing base of readers.
Would you like to learn how to create an opt-in system that turns your blog readers into loyal subscribers? Enroll in our course, How to Build a Blog and Create an Opt-In Offer That Converts, to learn the basics of generating an email list from your blog.
Developing your own product
Releasing a digital product – whether it’s software or an instructional e-book — is an excellent way to pass on information and assistance to your blog readers and create a scalable source of online income.
One of the most popular product types for bloggers is the informational product – a guide or instruction manual that explains how to do something. Think about the key topics that your blog covers and turn your expert knowledge into an e-book.
Have you never developed a digital product before? Learn how to brainstorm ideas for your digital product, put your ideas to paper, and turn your concept into reality with our course, How to Create and Package an Information Product.
Are you ready to start blogging?
Starting a blog is a great way to spread your ideas, build an audience and develop a lucrative market for your products. It’s also remarkably inexpensive or, if you use a hosted platform like WordPress.com, absolutely free.
Learn more about how to start your own blog with our blog post – Starting a Blog in 4 Easy Steps – and open your own free WordPress.com blog now using the advice in our blog post on how to start your own blog for free.