If you enjoy writing, starting a blog is a fun way to meet new people and release some of your creative energy. It can also be a great way to make a little money on the side. While few bloggers are able to turn their hobby into a career, most of them are able to earn a little extra cash from their efforts – provided they are consistent and stick with it long enough. Making money from a blog isn’t easy, but it’s a lot more likely if you take the proper steps from the start. If you want to know how to start a blog so that you can make some extra cash, keep on reading!
Selecting a Niche
Before starting a blog, you should think about the content you want to create. You need to choose a topic that is specific enough so that you can reach readers who are interested in what you have to say. In general, the more specific your topic the better. For instance, if your blog is about frugal travel, you don’t want to be writing a lot of articles about politics. Keep your niche focused.
At the same time, you don’t necessarily want to be so focused that you exclude potential readers. So, if you’re blogging about your love of coffee, it may not be wise to focus only on Maxwell House. Try writing about all brands and types of coffee instead. And if you are wondering if people really blog about coffee, check out RoastyCoffee.com.
Finally, when you are choosing a niche, you want to be sure that there is the potential for profit within the topic you select. It’s going to be hard to make money if you have nothing to sell or there’s no market. For instance, not very many people are going to want to read about your child’s refrigerator drawings. Fewer still will buy anything from you or pay for the privilege of reading it. However, if you broaden the topic to include parenting advice, frugal living tips, and product reviews, you’ll have a potential audience of millions who may be willing to buy what you are selling or promoting.
See also: 5 Profitable Blogging Ideas
Frankly, this is one area where a lot of new bloggers fall short. You need to make sure that what you are writing falls within your chosen topic. If not , you risk alienating and confusing your readers. However, don’t let choosing a niche keep you from taking action. There are plenty of successful bloggers who didn’t clearly define their niche originally or who’s niche has evolved as they went along. That’s what happened to us, and now we make our entire living online. So, think about it, but don’t let it stop you from taking action.
Choose a Domain Name
Once you’ve decided your blog topic, the next step is to choose a domain name. Your domain name is the website address, and – almost always – the name of your blog. There are several schools of thought on how to choose a domain name.
When it comes to starting a blog, some people believe that you should simply use your name. Since blogging is such a personal medium, they feel that your name best represents what the blog is about. An example would be JaneDoe.com. This works best for a professional website where you are selling your services (like writing, speaking, design, etc.) or for a personal blog that is more like a journal.
If you are looking to turn your blog into a business, you may want to consider creating a brand that reflects your blog’s topic. Choose something that clearly defines what you are writing about and is easy to remember. DoughRoller.net is a great example of this. By reading the title, you immediately know that the website is about money. Plus, it’s catchy and short enough to remember.
Once you’ve selected the perfect name, you need to make sure that the domain name is available. There are a number of different places where you can buy domain names, but my favorite is GoDaddy.com. The website is easy to use, and you can purchase domain names for as little as $2.99/year. That being said, most domain names will cost you about $10-15/year – which is still very affordable.
One note of caution: There are some options for free domain names available at places like WordPress.com, Tumblr, and others. Resist the temptation to be cheap. If you ever want to turn your blog into a money making machine, don’t be too cheap to buy a custom domain name.
The free domains will typically look something like “yoursite.wordpress.com.” In addition to looking tacky and unprofessional, you’re limiting your future earning potential as many advertisers won’t do business with you. Furthermore, once you do decide to upgrade, it’s a major pain to send all of your readers – and create new links – to a different web address. Trust me, just bite the bullet and buy your space. You’ll be glad you did.
Find a Hosting Company
After you’ve purchased your domain name, you need to find a host for your web address. Think of your domain name as the street address and the hosting company as the lot on which you’re going to build. There are dozens of different hosts to choose from, but you’ll want to be cognizant of pricing – especially when you’re starting out.
Most bloggers I know start off with a shared hosting account which costs just a few dollars a month. The on we recommend here at Dough Roller is Bluehost (it’s where Rob first hosted Dough Roller when he started the blog). You can hosting services for less than $5/month if you commit to more than one year, and telephone support is excellent. Personally, I’ve upgraded and pay about $12/month at our websites. Again, that’s a very affordable hobby…a hobby with the potential to make money, at that!
One last thing. It’s perfectly fine to get your domain from one company, like GoDaddy, and host the website at another company, such as Bluehost. If you want to keep the domain and hosting together, however, Bluehost is our recommendation.
Building Your Blog
Now that you have a host, it’s time to start building your blog. Personally, I’ve found the best platform on which to create a blog is easily WordPress. It’s a very powerful platform which is simple to use and understand. Many hosting companies, including Bluehost, make it easy to install WordPress with just one click. Simply, click on the website builder and follow the prompts as pictured below.
Once WordPress is installed, it’s time to design your blog. To customize the look and feel of your blog, you’ll first need to choose a theme. WordPress offers several free themes that are available for use. Just go to your blog’s “Dashboard” and click on “Appearance” in the menu on the left side of the screen. Then, click on “Themes.” Some themes provide more customization options than others. Pick the one you like, and get started customizing your blog to make it look exactly how you want it.
While the WordPress themes are OK, you should consider buying a premium theme. A premium theme will make your website look more professional, and it usually will help it to run a lot faster as well. Personally, I run all of my websites on the Genesis framework with a custom “child theme.” For a one time fee of about $85-100, you can design a professional looking website for far less than what you would pay to a website designer.
Think of it like a car: WordPress is the engine, Genesis is the body style, and the child theme is the paint job and customizations. Yeah, a car functions fine with just the engine and the body, but would you trust it or want to buy it without a decent paint job? The same is true for your website. The nicer it looks, the more readers will trust you and advertisers will want to pay for access to your audience.
Switching to Genesis is something that I always wished we would’ve done much sooner. Not only did our websites look sharper, they also ran smoother. Plus, had I opted for Genesis from the beginning, I wouldn’t have had to spend time building the website twice. If you can, I’d start with Genesis right away.
Now comes the best part – creating your content! Get on your blog and write about anything that you want…but try to stick within your niche. Hit the publish button, and let the world know what you think. Then wait…and wait…and wait for somebody to read it.
Yup, you might be excited that you just wrote the next of Anna Karenina, but nobody else is probably going to care just yet. It’s easy to get frustrated when nobody notices, but the rest of the world isn’t going to come knocking down your door. You have to let them know you’re there…and invite them in!
Promote Your Blog
Promoting your new blog isn’t as hard as it sounds. If I can do it, so can you. Your goal is to let people know you exist. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you, so you need to go where people are. These days, it’s easy – head over to social media. Create a page for your blog on all the relevant social media channels, invite your friends and family to follow you, and you’ve already started promoting.
Getting started on social media is great, but the best way to start promoting your blog is to find out where other people in your niche are hanging out and join them. There are all kinds of networks where bloggers share tips and help each other out. Ask to join a free Facebook group and get involved. Comment on other blogs and share their articles on your social media sites.
Almost inevitably, many of them will return the favor. Make real connections with other bloggers and your readers. Respond to your reader comments on your blog, and make sure you are consistently creating new material. Remember, there are millions of websites who are competing for readers. If you don’t write regularly, your readers will go somewhere else.
Most of all, have fun and don’t give up! If you work hard, write consistently, and promote yourself, you will eventually find some success. Good luck, and shoot let me know once you’re up and running! I’d love to check out your new blog.
- Pick the topic of your blog after considering your expertise, your interests, and it’s potential to make money
- Choose a domain name and get hosting at GoDaddy or Bluehost
- Listen to an interview of how one blogger was able to quit the 9 to 5 and blog full time.
- Start blogging and having fun!