I own multiple sites and have been making money blogging for years.
Here is a simple guide to help you set up and get started making money with links to what I use, what I recommend and extra resources.
Some are affiliate links which is how I pay for all the free content provided on this site.
I only recommend products and services I personally use on all my site.
Before You Start
Blogging is no longer just about having a website nor is it only about having a personal site.
The most successful sites also have social media, email lists, market regularly and a team.
And many aren’t personal at all.
It takes time to build up to having a presence and a community on all platforms unless you have money to get started but don’t let it put you off.
Start with a plan, be consistent, be genuine and hire as you grow.
Think about what you know or topics you might be interested in if you plan on doing it all yourself.
Otherwise, if you plan to use a team, any topic you find profitable will work.
Some bloggers/influencers have multiple sites in different niches with teams managing it all.
Once you know how to monetise it and manage a team, it can be easy plus fairly passive.
Building it from scratch takes a lot of work but with a proper plan and dedication, it can pay off.
Not all bloggers or influencers make millions though so be prepared for that.
In my experience, it has been worth it and those who know what they are doing can make good money.
Disclosure: The Thrifty Issue uses affiliate links for products and services we use.
How to Start a Blog
Blogs are easier to set up than ever before plus most hosts have excellent customer service to make it even easier.
You don’t need to know how to code, just click, drag and drop. It’s that simple.
My sites are hosted with SiteGround which often has sales.
You can buy a domain name and hosting through them easily.
I have used other sites years ago but SiteGround has consistently been better in every way.
Plan your content before starting and have some written so the site has things on it before you launch.
Quality content will have people stay longer and visit again so it is important to have.
Schedule fresh content to come out consistently so readers have a reason to visit again and you have things to promote on social media as well as your email list.
This might sound like a lot of effort to get started but it is worth it.
Choosing Your Name
When it comes to selecting a name, keep it short and easy to remember.
I recommend checking the domain name and social links are available to ensure you can have the same name across all platforms.
Check trademarks because otherwise you can do all the work and have to start over because you infringed on another brand.
It’s fairly quick to check all of these things so don’t skip it!
1. Set up a Self-Hosted Website or Blog
My sites are all hosted with SiteGround and I recommend them to everyone.
I have used a variety of hosts but SiteGround is the best value.
Customer service has been fantastic and they have done a few extras for me which they usually charge for.
I had issues with my site being down on other hosts, which is not good if you are trying to grow a business! Hosting with SiteGround starts at $ 3.95 per month.
2. Choose a Good Domain Name
Choose an easy to remember, short domain name.
Some of my domains names are with CrazyDomains but it is easier if you have it all together.
If you do have them separate, there are a few extra steps to point your domain name to the host.
For those with no experience, it is much easier to simply buy your domain and hosting together.
If you do register your site with Siteground they can step you through and have tutorials about how to direct your domain name to them.
3. Install WordPress
Hosts such as SiteGround make it easy to install WordPress. Log into SiteGround. Click on My Accounts.
Scroll down and click on WordPress then follow the instructions to install it. It is literally a couple of clicks and it is done.
Plus if you have any trouble with it, their customer service is extremely fast and responsive so can guide you through it.
4. Choose A Theme
With WordPress installed, go to your WordPress admin and pick a theme.
You can select a free theme within WordPress or opt to purchase a premium theme that has more features.
To find a theme go to “Appearance” then pick “Themes”. My sites all have free themes.
5. Add Plugins
There are thousands you can choose from and what you select will depend partially on what you are doing with your site. I recommend starting with at least the following:
Yoast SEO – for SEO
Akismet – to protect from spam
Sucuri – for security and protection
AddToAny – or similar plugins enable people who visit your site to share it easily via social media accounts
HelloBar – for email sign-ups
JetPack – gives you stats and has a heap of features
WordPress Editorial Calendar – to plan out posts easily
WP Super Cache – to cache your site
These are just a few of the plugins I use and recommend.
6. Add Google Analytics
Google Analytics will give you all the information you need about your site visitors, what they are looking at, how many are looking at your site, where they live, what they are interested in, how long they spend on your site, what they are reading etc.
Advertisers will want screenshots of this before they pay you to do sponsored posts etc. on your site.
Join Google Analytics then install the code on your site.
They step you through how to do it, provide the code and all you need to do is copy and paste it.
7. Set up Your Social Accounts and Email
Set up each social media platform you plan to use and secure the name in all others.
Make sure you go through and fill in all the details, add all necessary photos and make it clear what you are about.
Start following, liking, commenting and engaging with others on social media to get it growing.
Be genuine and provide value to get others to be interested.
Do not spam everyone or tell them to come check your site.
The more value you provide, the more others will engage plus, the algorithms on each platform will recognise you are of value and promote you more to others.
On your site, set up a way to collect email addresses and send content to them.
The reason email is so important is you own that list and if people sign up, they tend to be more committed and engaged than social media followers.
With social media, your account can be shut down and you lose everything.
Don’t let that stop you from using it, just be aware you need another way to reach your followers.
MailChimp, Awebber and InfusionSoft are popular options with different features for sending emails.
Make it easy for people to sign up to your list, give them a good reason to then make sure you stay in contact with them once a month, once a week or whatever you can commit to.
Provide value and content people want or need on each platform.
You can check out one of our weekly newsletters to see what we do.
8. Quality Content
Have at least 10 posts ready to go or live already when you launch.
Ideally, have an about page and category pages set up plus your email address then a few quality blog posts so there is content on your site.
Without content, people won’t come back and they are likely to click away as soon as they get to the site too.
You are better off posting once a week or once a month and making sure it is a high-quality post than posting low-quality content daily.
Although with social media, posting more often and being more engaged is important.
Whatever schedule you decide on, make sure it fits with your theme, goals and audience.
No one wants spammy, self-promotion in their feeds.
Make your content educational, entertaining, informative, easy to digest and relevant.
9. Marketing Plan
Who is your target audience, what problems are you solving for them and how can you reach them?
Simply setting up your blog doesn’t mean anyone will find you.
You need solid marketing, know what to share on social media, when to share it, set up your email database and send newsletters to them, do guest posts on other sites, podcast interviews and work out exactly how you are going to market your site to your audience.
Sometimes, something you create will go viral or truly resonate.
Without some research or planning you probably won’t have that happen or if it does, you might not know how to make money from it.
A plan can be as basic as what you want to share and when, along with other ways to get publicity.
For example, with The Thrifty Issue, we use Source Bottle at times to get featured in different media.
Once we got featured a few times, we were regularly asked by media to contribute.
For podcast features, reaching out to content creators we know as well as being active in a podcast group helped get features.
We don’t do a lot of marketing now but did in the beginning to get known.
10. Educate Yourself
One of the articles I found useful for blogging is
Day One Advice: 78 successful bloggers reveal what advice they wish they knew.
It has some great friends of mine in it who have sold their sites for over a million dollars.
How can you Make Money Blogging?
With multiple ways to make an income through your blog, it is best you work out what you want to do then commit to doing it that way.
For example, if you plan on having a lot of your own products, recommending others dilutes your message.
If you plan on making money from sponsored posts and affiliates work out how often you are willing to post, what your guidelines are and prices.
One easy option is to install ads. Mediavine is my favourite but you need over 50,000 pageviews a month so others such as SheMedia can be good when you are starting out (although you still need a few thousands pageviews).
Before you focus too much on monetising your blog, concentrate on building a following, an engaged community who love what you do and providing quality content for them.
If you don’t have an audience, you can’t sell anything.
Also, some affiliate agencies won’t accept you until you have a proven audience.
Keep applying though, use affiliates and other things where possible and continue to research options as you grow.
For years, sponsored posts was the default option for many bloggers as it seemed like easy money.
Sponsored posts are where you write the content in exchange for a fee.
However, now, most companies want you to produce reels or similar instead of blog posts or they need to be included in posts.
We do a combination of things and provide packages depending on the company but we only work with companies we personally use and can endorse.
The amount you charge depends on many factors such as how engaged your audience is, how big they are, your domain authority etc.
Do some research and be sure not to undersell yourself. The cheap links and sponsored posts are spam.
If doing a sponsored post, make sure it is a ‘no follow’ link.
Mark it as a sponsored post.
Use #Sponsored in the title and have a disclaimer at the beginning of the post. I also have a category for advertising.
Determine how long the post will be live for.
Decide if your rates include social media shares and how many links can be included in the article.
Create a basic contract to use and have a cancellation clause to state what happens if they or you cancel it.
Work out what you will and won’t do, brands you will or won’t promote then create a standard response to use outlining everything for all the emails you will get about sponsored or ‘guest’ posts.
Most guest post requests are from businesses wanting a link.
Create a page on your site outlining how you work with brands, what options you offer and create a media kit to either have on your site or to send to brands when they enquire.
An affiliate link is a link where you get a payment if someone buys something through it such as books from Amazon.
Most bloggers make some of their money from affiliates.
I only recommend or link to products/services I have used personally and can recommend.
By far, the best course for learning this is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Affiliate links still need to be marked no follow and disclosed as affiliate links.
You can use them in posts, in your sidebar, on social media or in your newsletter.
Be consistent, know what you are recommending and don’t spam people with them.
Impact, Commission Factory and working directly with brands are the top 3 ways I find affiliate programs to use.
Note: You can request higher payments or free product and other bonuses when working with affiliates, especially once you prove your readers convert.
Sell Your Own Products – eBooks, Courses, Coaching etc
Create eBooks, courses, offer one on one coaching, do webinars, run workshops, classes, a Meet Up Group, sell graphics, printables or physical products.
The list is endless as to what you can sell from your site. I know bloggers making over $100,000 a month selling their own products from their sites.
Work out what your audience needs/wants and fill that need or solve their problems with your products.
The above are the main ways people make money blogging.
You can also offer banner ads in your header, sidebar or footer.
The most important thing is to decide how you want to do it, provide quality content and develop a community or you won’t be able to monetise it anyway.
What questions do you have about blogging?
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