I never thought it would come to this… to the point where I could make a full-time living as a professional blogger with the ability to travel anywhere in the world and work from my laptop.
Learning how to start a blog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Before starting a blog, I was stuck in the corporate rat race with a fixed schedule and nowhere to go but climb up the corporate ladder.
While I was still quite content in my day-to-day life, I knew there had to be something more.
I had heard of this “blogging thing” and decided to give it a try. Yet starting proved to be quite difficult.
I didn’t know what to write about, where to start or even how to set up a webpage.
But you want to know what made me pursue it?
I was tired of waking up to my alarm at 7 AM, having to work a full 8 hours and only have a couple of hours to spare after coming home from work.
That’s when I took the plunge that ultimately landed me in the following lifestyle:
- I can wake up whenever I want and go to bed at the hour I want
- I’m no longer stuck in the rat race mentality
- Growing something that I can call my own has enabled my creativity to greatly expand
- Corporate stress is a thing of the past
- Traveling wherever I want, whenever I want
In short, I couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out, and I owe it all to this blog.
And I want to help you achieve the same.
In this guide, I’m going to show you the step-by-step details that you need to know so you can turn your blog into a money making machine.
The best part?
I’ve been through nearly 5 years of trial and error to find out what works best so you don’t have to.
This article includes only what you need to know to get your blog up and to start being successful with it.
And trust me when I say this: if I can do it, you can too!
One last thing.
If you’re interested in a more step-by-step version of this article, you can sign-up for our FREE 5-Day Email Blogging Course that will guide you through the steps in a more detailed manner.
With that said, let’s go ahead and get started on how to start a profitable blog with choosing your niche.
Table of Contents
Choosing Your Niche In 4 Steps
Rather than just choosing your blog topic randomly, I’m going to walk you through some creative brainstorming ideas to help you get a better handle on your niche and why you should think carefully before choosing one.
There are a few key points to consider beforehand.
In this short section, we’re going to talk about:
- Step 1: Following your passion
- Step 2: Narrowing down your topic
- Step 3: Conducting market research
- Step 4: Can it make money?
Why Choose A Niche?
Before we begin, let’s discuss why you actually need to choose a niche.
Why you can choose any topic at random and still run a successful blog, your chances of success are going to be a lot higher if you actually think about what you’re going to write about beforehand if you take the time to narrow it down a bit.
But before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s take the time to consider what a niche actually is.
A niche is a narrowed down topic of a broader category.
Let’s take the broad category as “pets” as an example. If we narrow this down, we can be more selective and select the category of “pet reptiles.”
We can even take this a step further and talk about more specifically “my pet iguana,” where we only talk about my pet iguana and things related to it.
What this does is that it gives you a clear and direct path of where your blog is headed.
It tells you what topics to write, how to conduct your marketing efforts and gives your audience a better idea of what your blog is about.
This helps especially for new bloggers as it omits any confusion on their end about what topics to write about as long as they stick to the same topic.
Now, when it comes to choosing an ideal blog topic, it should include the following:
- High search volume
- Low competition
- High potential for profit
Easier said than done, right?
However, if you give it some thought, you’ll probably be able to narrow down your topic quite easily.
If we go back to the “pets” example, we know that there’s probably a ton of competition on this topic, so we might want to narrow it down a bit more.
Yet if I choose to go with “my pet iguana,” it’s probably the case that there just aren’t enough people searching for things on iguanas (except for the few iguana owners out there).
But what about in the middle of the two?
If we choose the topic “pet reptiles,” it gives us enough topics to write about since there’s so many reptilian pets out there, and there probably aren’t as many blogs out there covering the same topic.
The only thing that’s left is to check for profitability.
These are some things you want to keep in mind when choosing a niche.
Now that this is all said and done, let’s dive right in!
Step 1: Following Your Passion
I cannot stress this enough.
Following my passion is what’s enabled me to keep writing for my blog for 5 years consecutively.
I definitely wouldn’t be able to do this about a topic I wasn’t interested in.
The great thing about following your passions or interests is that it’s going to make your life that much easier.
It’s going to show in your writing.
The first thing that’s going to stand out is your writing.
Let’s say you choose a blog topic in which you have no interest at all.
You’re most likely not really going to care about what you write about, won’t spend much time researching and will be quite lazy on making each piece of writing a work of art.
Readers will pick up on this, won’t finish the piece you’ve written and will most likely leave your site, ultimately not leading to any sales or actions that you wanted them to take.
The worst part? They won’t come back.
By choosing a topic that you’re passionate about, your articles will most likely be well-written, heavily researched and will reflect your passion.
Not only that, but you probably already have a vast amount of knowledge on the subject since it’s something you generally care about.
Choosing a topic you’re passionate about is extremely important.
Because you genuinely care about your topic, and this will stand out in every aspect of your blog.
This passion is going to continue to reflect throughout your design, marketing efforts and anything else contributing to your blog.
Yet the most important thing I can say is this:
It helps prevent burnout.
While some people get to the point where their blog is quite successful in a short time, this isn’t the case for most people, and it definitely wasn’t for me.
By sticking to your passion, it’s not going to be difficult to stick with it in the long haul.
And for those who only care about blogging for the money-making side of things, we hold no judgements against you. We just want you to have a clear path and know your goals and intentions before getting started.
Write a list of at least 5 possible topics you’re interested in writing about.
From there, follow to the next step.
Step 2: Narrowing It Down
This is similar to what we mentioned above:
By deciding to write on a broad topic, it’s going to be extremely difficult to compete against authority sites.
Let’s take BuzzFeed and Huffington Post as an example. If we write a site that’s very similar to theirs, it’s going to be difficult to compete due to their wide audience and high authority.
Why would someone go to my site that has no reputation instead of their site which has a strong reputation?
That’s why I need to stand out by choosing something unique that no one else has seen before. And if that’s not possible, at least a topic that doesn’t have a lot of people talking about it.
Furthermore, by choosing a niche within a specific category, I’m going to be seen as the expert.
Let’s say you write a blog about scorpions (yes, I like strange pets). You do thorough research and bring out the best in your writing, and many of your audience members deem you as the scorpion king.
If Huffington Post writes an article titled “Why You Should Own A Pet Scorpion,” they’re still going to want to go back to your site more since you are the scorpion expert!
Even though it’s a site with a high reputation, readers are most likely going to choose to read a blog only about scorpions since it probably has more knowledge on the subject.
Here are some other factors on why to narrow down your niche:
- You will have a very targeted audience
- Readers will know exactly what your site is about
- Google will take notice that your site is about your specific topic, and thus push you up in rankings for that specific topic
Hopefully that helps give you some clarity on why you may need to narrow down some of your topics.
From the list you created in step 1 on choosing your niche, go ahead and browse through and see if your topics are narrowed down enough.
If not, try to see if you can think of something a bit more focused. Go ahead and take some time to do that.
Step 3: Conducting Market Research
Now that we have a few narrowed down topics in mind, we need to conduct some market research to see if we have a large enough audience for our niche.
As mentioned above, the best topic is one that has the following:
- Plenty of people searching for this topic
- Low competition
- It makes money! $$$
This step will allow us to use real, online tools to help us determine these factors.
The first tool we’re going to use is Google Trends.
With this tool, we’re going to be looking for 3 things:
Is this topic a recent spike?
For example, there was probably a lot more articles regarding Donald Trump when he became president, but those have died down since.
We want to try to avoid topics that cover this trend since they are short-lived and have most likely passed their expiration date.
Will interest rise over time?
If your topic consists of a new technology and popularity is growing, you can probably ensure that your audience will continue to grow.
Maybe your topic hasn’t hit mainstream yet and will explode once it does (think of Bitcoin before and how much it’s grown in popularity now).
Has there been a stable rise in interest over time?
We want to see if people have been interested in this topic in the past, and to see if people will continue to be interested in this topic.
While the topic you choose doesn’t have to meet these three trend requirements to be successful, they do give us a good indicator of whether our audience is going to be interested or not.
Go ahead and head over to Google Trends. On the homepage you’ll be prompted to type in a topic.
Let’s stick with our “pet reptiles” and see what we get.
From the image above, we see the trend for the past 12 months for the term “pet reptiles.”
Keep in mind that this chart is not a comparison to other topics, rather that the numbers represent interest relative to the higher point on this topic for a given period of time.
Now let’s take at the trending information for the past 5 years:
By quickly glancing at the two charts, we can quickly analyze a few things:
- The topic doesn’t seem to be a recent spike since there aren’t any sharp rises and falls in the chart
- The interest has been maintained over the past year, even though during some months it dips and other months it rises
- For the past 5 years, interest has actually slightly increased, meaning that pet reptiles are becoming more and more trendy
From this information alone, we can safely say that this topic meets the criteria we mentioned above: it maintains interest over time, interest seems to be increasing and it’s not a short-term trend.
There are a few other methods on how to conduct market research for your keyword, but we don’t go into all of them here.
For those who are interested in a more detailed method, you can check out our Blog Launch Profit course which takes you through the nitty gritty on conducting market research for your blog topic.
As a thank you for being our reader, you can enjoy 10% off the course by using coupon code 10OFFSTARTABLOG at checkout.
Google Keyword Planner
The next tool we’re going to use will help us determine if there are enough people searching for our topic.
Afterall, we don’t want to write about a topic that no one has any interest in.
Head on over to Google Keyword Planner and click on “Go to Keyword Planner.”
On the next page, type in your keyword and hit the “Get Results” button (you’ll need to be logged into google for it to work).
What you’ll be shown is a list of different keywords related to your topic along with the search volume for that particular phrase.
As we can see from the results above, by sticking with the “pet reptiles” example we get lots of results along with related keywords.
Most of these results have a pretty high search volume, which is great! This means lots of people are searching for these topics.
You can mess around with this tool even further by typing in similar phrases to get exact results. Maybe I want to try “reptile cages” if I’m considering writing about cages specifically for my pet reptiles.
I can see from my search that I get lots of great results, such as “gecko cages” “reptile terrarium.”
There are plenty of terms available, and a lot of them are showing 1,000+ monthly searches in Google.
Here’s a quick general guideline on what to look for to see if there’s enough search volume for your keywords:
If you can find roughly 50 different topics about your topic that have at least 250 searches per month, it meets the criteria
Keep in mind that this isn’t an end-all factor.
What I mean by this is that although a lot of people are searching for this topic, there may be other factors that prevent you from ranking for a specific keyword (your content, backlinks, competitors and other fancy SEO topics).
But don’t worry – as a beginner blogger you don’t really need to concern yourself with this.
The most important thing is finding a niche that you’re passionate about with plenty of topics for you to write about that people are actually wanting to read.
*Note*: Using Google Keyword Planner is also a great way to get some topic ideas for your articles.
Now on for assessing the competition.
Let’s go ahead and head on over to Google to get an idea of how many pet reptile blogs there are.
Here are the results I get:
I went ahead and browsed through a few of the pages to get an idea of what might be out there when it comes to blogs regarding pet reptiles.
From my analysis, it doesn’t seem like there are too many.
Let’s take this a step further.
Remember how we found the keyword “gecko cages” in the keyword planner? Let’s try that in our search:
The first results that come up are Amazon and Petco. There’s a few things I can gather from this result:
- High authority sites are taking the #1 and #2 spot for the term “gecko cages”
- These sites aren’t specifically related to pet reptiles in general
- The articles that rank for the top spots for this term are simply selling a product, but don’t actually talk about gecko cages in general
From the information above, I can gather that with some really good content and marketing, I might be able to surpass Amazon and Petco in Google for the term “gecko cages.”
I can cater content regarding the best gecko cages to buy, what to look for in a gecko cage, the top 10 gecko cages, how much a gecko cage should generally cost, etc.
The sites Petco.com and Amazon.com merely show a quick list of gecko cages on their site, but don’t give any detailed information about gecko cages in general.
This is great news! It means we’ve possibly already found one search term that might be able to compete and rank on the first page of Google.
Try this with other keywords and see what results you get.
Conduct the market research steps above with Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner and Google search to determine whether your niche can stand out amongst the crowd and get found.
Remember to assess your competition, search volume
Take some quick notes on your thoughts and ideas on your niche worksheet about the information you’ve gathered.
See some keywords using the Google Keyword Planner that may make for great topics? Go ahead and write them down as well since you’re at it.
Now onto the fun part: can it make money?
Step 4: Can It Make Money?
Whether you’re into blogging for the monetization aspect or to make a living off of it, it’s always nice to make some extra cash.
And you never know – eventually it can lead to your full-time job.
I went ahead and put together a list of some of the most profitable blog niches out there:
- Fitness & Weight Loss
- Dating & Relationships
- Beauty Treatments
- Gadgets & Technology
- Personal Finance
If you’re topic doesn’t fall under this list, THAT’S OK. You can still make a ton of money. It just might be slightly more difficult to find ways to monetize your site.
Fortunately, there are monetization methods no matter what your niche is.
So how do we determine if your niche can make money?
There are many ways you can monetize your blog, but here are some of the more popular:
- Affiliate links
- The list goes on and on
For beginner bloggers (and even for most advanced bloggers), the easiest and simplest way to monetize your blog is through advertisements and through affiliate links.
When it comes to advertisements, as long as your site is family friendly you’ll most likely be approved immediately (or perhaps after a few articles) for Google Adsense, one of the most popular ad networks on the web.
In order to increase our earnings even further, let’s look for affiliate programs.
Search for Similar Sites
If we keep using our “pet reptiles” topic as an example, we can see from the list above that this topic falls under the general category of “pets.”
Therefore, we’re going to research other pet blogs to see what products and services they’re promoting. We can use this information to possible promote the same type of products.
Here’s what I get when I search for “pet blogs” in Google:
I eventually stumbled across the article best dog leashes from mypetsneedthat.com.
I can see from this particular article that they are promoting dog leashes from Amazon. Let’s use this information to see if Amazon has an affiliate program by typing in “Amazon affiliate program” in Google:
Fantastic! It turns out that Amazon Associates is the name of their affiliate program. After doing a bit of research, it turns out that you can earn up to 10% commission on your links when someone buys from Amazon.
So now I’ve found that my blog has the ability to be monetized.
We won’t go into too much detail into monetization in this section since we cover it in the steps below. However, the important takeaway here is that we know we can make money.
Let’s get into the next step.
Step 2: Choosing a Blog Name
While coming up with a title for your site may sound quite daunting, it’s actually quite simple.
And if that doesn’t keep you calm, we’ll give you some detailed guidelines on how to choose one.
What’s A Domain Name?
The first thing that every website needs is a domain name. So what is it exactly?
A domain is the URL of your blog.
For example, the domain for the Microsoft webpage is microsoft.com. The domain for Frugal For Less is frugalforless.com.
You can think of a domain in the exact same way that you would think of an address for your house. In this case, it serves as the address for where your blog can be found.
Wait, why are you even talking to me about this technical nonsense? Can’t I just pick a name?
As a blogger, it’s important that you’re familiar with the term since you’re going to be running into it over and over.
What Should I Look For in A Domain/Blog Name?
Now that you have a good understanding of what a domain actually is, let’s cover what entails a good domain name:
Avoid Special Characters
Try to avoid using special characters such as hyphens, exclamation marks or anything of the sort.
The reason for this is that sites that contain such characters are typically regarded as spam and are deemed as unprofessional.
Since you’re blogging about a topic you’re knowledgeable about, a great way to show this is by starting off with a domain name that’s clean and professional.
Furthermore, URLs with special characters are often a little bit more difficult to remember.
Easy to Type and Say
Your domain name should be something that’s simple and easy to say.
By giving your site a title that’s memorable, it makes it that much easier for people to come back and type in your domain name directly in the browser.
Keep It Short, Direct and Clear
This goes hand-in-hand with what was said above.
Making a short and sweet name helps make your blog title memorable. A short and direct name helps give your blog a concise message of what your blog represents.
If I’m writing about “pet reptiles,” I want to make sure to use something that’s relatable.
I wouldn’t want to call my blog petsnakes.com since I’m talking more than just about snakes. MyPetReptiles.com would be more suitable for my topic at hand.
Try To Use a .com Domain Name
This isn’t by any means required, but it’s definitely the most common. We highly suggest sticking with a .com domain name.
It’s a trustworthy domain extension that people are familiar with and trust.
Of course, there are some exceptions. However, as a new blogger we suggest sticking with a .com to make things simple.
If your .com name is taken by somebody else and you absolutely must have that specific domain name, you can go with a .org or a .net, but try not to go outside of that.
And we speak from experience when we say this: don’t try to change your domain name later on.
While it can be done, it’s just a hassle. Let’s try and get it right the first time, so take some extra time to think about it.
Take a moment to think of some creative domain names.
Don’t have a clue?
That’s okay. We suggest using the site Lean Domain Search to help you get an idea of your blog name.
Type in your topic in the search bar and you’ll get a list of results of available domain names. Happy searching!
Step 3: Getting Your Site Live With WordPress Installed
We try to avoid as many technical aspects in this tutorial to make the whole how to start a blog business as simple as possible, yet there’s a few things you just can’t avoid.
Not to worry. We’re going to make this guide so simple that even your cat could do it.
You Need A Host
As mentioned above, a domain name is analogous to the address of your home.
Now that we have a domain name chosen out, the only thing that’s lacking is the house itself, and you can think of the house as being the host.
We use the domain name to find the host, and the host then serves up your web files to give you a beautiful looking webpage.
Every single website has both a domain and a host in order to be live on the Internet.
We suggest using HostGator as your hosting provider for a couple of reasons:
- It’s quite easy to upgrade to more advanced plans
- Excellent customer support
- Integrated with WordPress for quick and easy installation
- Free backup support
- Great for beginner bloggers
- A FREE domain name for your first year
- It’s extremely cheap
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Blog?
We’ve partnered with HostGator to give you a great deal of as little as $2.75 per month when you sign-up with HostGator using our link and coupon code FFL60.
Keep in mind that the longer you sign-up for hosting, the bigger discount you get with HostGator:
- 36 months at 60.5% off
- 24 months at 58% off
- 12 months at 56% off
If you’re just starting out with blogging, we suggest going with the 12-month option and reevaluate once your plan is getting close to expiring.
We do get an affiliate commission when you register with our link, but it’s a win-win situation: you get a better deal and we earn a little bit of cash for promoting them.
Yes, there are ways to start a blog for free.
But do we recommend it? Definitely not, and here are a few reasons why:
- You don’t actually own your own domain name
- It will be seen as unprofessional and not as a trusted source of information
- There’s a limited amount of bandwidth available, and if your blog starts getting visitors you’re going to need it
- Difficult to monetize your content
So if you want to run your blog as a professional business, you’re going to need a paid hosting and domain platform.
Now let’s get into where the real action is and actually setup your site.
The following tutorial will give you detailed step-by-step instructions on how to get your site up and running.
Setting Up Your Domain Name And Hosting
Go to the HostGator page and click on the “Get Started” button.
You’ll notice that there are three different plans you can choose from.
We suggest going with the Hatchling Plan for new bloggers since it’s all you need. If you want to change later on it will be quite simple to upgrade.
Click on “Buy Now” where you’ll be prompted to enter in your information.
First, enter in your domain name. When you register your domain with HostGator it’s completely free for the first year.
I’m going to go with the name mypetreptiles.com (I know – very creative).
If you scroll down a bit you’ll see an option for “Domain Privacy Protection.”
We highly suggest leaving this box checked since it will protect your address, phone number and other private information from solicitors.
Otherwise, be prepared to get a lot of random phone calls.
From there you’ll need to confirm your hosting plan.
We already chose the Hatchling plan, and we suggest that most new bloggers will probably just want to start with the 12 month package.
Finish this step by choosing a username for your account and a security pin that you’ll use for when you contact customer support.
Enter in your billing address and credit card information on the next form below.
Now just a few more things to take care of.
If you scroll down a bit you’ll see a lot of extra services that HostGator provides.
Go ahead and uncheck all of these since you don’t need any of them.
Make sure that the coupon code FFL60 is entered to get as much as 60.5% off on your hosting package.
Accept the terms below and click on the button “Checkout Now!” to finalize your purchase.
Wait about 2 minutes for HostGator to setup your new account.
On the next page you’ll be asked to start designing your website, but we’re going to cover this later in the tutorial.
Go ahead and click “Not right now.”
You’ve just setup your domain name with your hosting provider. Let’s keep going.
Now we have the two essential things every website needs: a domain and a host.
But how do we actually manage the content on our site?
A website is quite complicated and contains lots of crazy code in a language that most of us non-techy people just don’t understand.
That’s where WordPress comes in.
WordPress is a piece of software that takes the fancy code of a website and turns it into an easy-to-use interface allowing you to create content, design your site and a lot of other cool things.
In short, installing WordPress is going to make your life that much easier.
The best part?
WordPress is already integrated with HostGator, so it just takes a second to setup.
If you followed the steps above, you should now be on the welcome page to your new account.
Click on the blue link that says “Install WordPress.”
On the next page select your domain name and hit the “Next” button. Do NOT type in anything in the directory field (if you do your homepage will be different than your domain name).
Fill out your site information, make sure both boxes are checked below and click “Install.”
Installation will just take a few seconds and you’ll be redirected to the next page with your login information.
We highly recommend either taking a screenshot or writing this information down so you don’t lose it later.
Click on the “Login” button to be directed to your site’s login page. You can access this page at any time by visiting the URL yoursitename.com/wp-admin (in my case it would be mypetreptiles.com/wp-admin).
Enter in your username and password that you saved from the previous page and…
Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed WordPress.
If you type in your domain name in your browser and you see a big, fat message that says “Site Coming Soon,” not to worry.
This just means that your domain name is propagating. In layman’s terms, this simply means that your domain name still needs time to connect to your host.
It can take up to 48 hours for this process to complete, but for me it usually completes within about 10 – 15 minutes.
Now we can get to the fun part: designing your website.
Step 4: Learn How To Use WordPress
Using WordPress for the first time can be quite a scary task.
But don’t worry. Although there’s a bit of a learning curve, with time it’s actually becomes quite simple to use.
Let’s take it step-by-step to familiarize you with the WordPress interface. We’re going to walk you through what you need to know on the WordPress sidebar.
When you first log-in to your WordPress backend you’ll be presented with the dashboard.
This section typically includes any news from WordPress and shortcut menu items to other things on your WordPress page.
Do we need to worry about this section?
No. Unless we install specific plugins (which we’ll explain later), you won’t have any need for the dashboard.
This is probably the feature that you’re going to be using most in WordPress. Posts are the blogs or “articles” that you will be writing.
Blog posts are typically organized into what are called categories, and you can create and select the category that you want your blog post to fall under.
For example, my personal finance blog uses the following categories:
- Make Money
- Save Money
Each post (depending on your theme, which we’ll get more into later) typically will display the author, publication date and category that it falls under.
The best part about posts?
They can be edited any time you want.
So don’t worry if you’ve published something and you’re not sure if it’s 100% where you want it to be – you can always go back and change it later!
You can create a post by clicking on “Posts” on the sidebar and clicking “Add New.”
Once you finish writing your piece of content and giving it a title, hit publish to see your post live on your site.
Go ahead and try it out!
Pages are a lot like posts. You create a title, they contain content and you’re able to edit them later on.
So what’s the difference?
Whereas posts serve as new pieces of information (think of a news site coming out with a new story), pages are considered to be pieces of content that are more “static.”
In other words, you probably won’t spend a lot of time updating these pages.
Here are some examples of common pages to get a clear idea of what we’re talking about
- About page
Pages typically serve to provide more legal or technical aspects about your blog.
One big difference between posts and pages is that pages don’t fall under any specific category.
Let’s go ahead and create our first page for fun. I’m going to create a contact page so that my readers can reach out to me.
Click on “Pages” on the sidebar and select “Add New.”
Create a title for your page and write some text. Then hit “Publish.”
You’ve just created your first page!
We’ll show you later down in the tutorial on how to access this page.
The next item on the sidebar is the media library. This is where any type of videos or images are stored.
You can add a piece of media from a post or a page, but you can do it more directly from the media gallery by clicking “Add New.”
Go ahead and upload a piece of media to give it a shot.
You’ll be able to use this image later in your pages and posts if you so desire.
We’ll show you how to insert images into your posts and pages in the sections below.
The thing I love most about blogs is that other readers can leave comments about the pages and posts that you’ve written.
In this section you can modify, delete or change any comments from outside readers.
This is a great way to check out any new comments that have been written in your blog instead of having to search through each post individually.
If you want to make any visual changes to your blog, the appearance section is the place to do so.
Here you can make changes to your theme (which we’ll get more into detail about this below) and edit your widgets, menus, sidebars, logo, site title and more.
Plugins are either free or paid pieces of software that add additional functionality to your site. You can think of plugins like additional upgrades to give your blog additional features.
Here’s a few examples of what some plugins might do:
- Block spam comments
- Add in additional WordPress security
- Increase your website speed
- Help with certain design aspects
- Almost anything else you can think of with the thousands of plugins out there
To get a feel for what plugins actually do, go to the plugins page on the sidebar and scroll down to view all of your plugins installed.
These plugins were automatically installed with your site. You can choose to either disable them or remove them if you like.
At the top of the plugins page, click on the “Add New” button. You can type in almost any word and you’ll be sure to find a plugin for it.
Here’s the results I get when I type in the word “blogging.”
There’s literally hundreds of plugins that appeared in my search results. Feel free to read the description or click “More Details” to get a better idea of what they do.
But not to worry – most of the time you don’t need many plugins (if any at all) to make your blog function the way you want it to.
Uninstall The Default Plugins
When you sign up with HostGator, they install a few plugins that you don’t necessarily need.
You can leave them installed, but we typically find that they’ll get in your way. Worst of all, they’ll slow down your site.
Go back to your plugins page and check all of the boxes next to each plugin except for the first one, Akismet Anti-Spam. This is the only plugin we’ll need at the moment.
Select “Deactivate” and “Apply.”
Once this step is complete, select all the plugins again except the first one. This time you’re going to get rid of them.
Select “Delete” and then “Apply.”
Note: You may notice that some sidebar items disappeared when you uninstalled certain plugins. This is because sometimes plugins will add an additional menu item to your sidebar for quick access.
The users section is a way to great additional users for your WordPress page.
Remember when you first logged-in to your WordPress page you were presented with a box that asked for your username and password?
You can also allow other people to access this page, but with certain restrictions.
Here’s a few examples:
- Contributor – The ability to create and edit posts
- Editor – Can edit and publish posts written by contributors and also create posts
- Author – Can delete, edit, post and un-publish their own articles
When you first create your WordPress account, you’re automatically assigned to the administrator role. This means that you have the power to do all of the above and more.
As long as you don’t assign an additional user to the administrator role, you don’t have to worry about anyone “ruining” your site.
If there are any technical aspects that you want to change about your WordPress site it can be done in the settings section.
This includes your time zone, email address, how many posts should display on your home page and much more.
There’s only one thing we’re going to change in your Settings. On the WordPress sidebar, click on Settings and then click on “Permalinks.”
Make sure that “Post name” is selected instead of custom structure. This will change the appearance of the URL for any post or page that you create.
For example, if I create a page with the title “Contact,” the URL will be mypetreptiles.com/contact.
If I create a post with the title “Interesting Snake Facts,” the URL for this page will be mypetsnakes.com/interesting-snake-facts.
Making this change makes it easier for your audience to identify your page or post by its URL, and it makes it easier to remember.
Note: Remember that contact page we created above? It had the title of “Contact.” Now that you’ve changed the settings, try going to yoursitename.com/contact to access the page.
You most likely won’t ever need to change anything under this section.
Yet to tame your curiosity, this section can be used to import and export data from other WordPress sites, import posts from Tumblr and a few other features you most likely will never use.
Go ahead and browse through each of the menu items on the sidebar to familiarize yourself more with WordPress.
Don’t be afraid of breaking anything either. If you do end up making a drastic change, you can always undo the setting or contact HostGator customer support.
Again, WordPress may seem daunting at first, but I promise it gets a lot easier, really fast.
Step 5: Choosing a WordPress Theme
WordPress makes it incredibly simple to start designing your blog without any prior web design experience.
Before we dive into the design process, we want to stress the fact that you shouldn’t get too hung up on your design, especially little changes.
The reason for this is because you’re going to change your blog design thousands of times before you get exactly what you want.
For that matter, we suggest sticking with something you like and to slowly make changes along the way.
While a design is important, it’s not the most important aspect of your blog.
If you get too hung up on your site design, you’ll never get to the more important aspects of creating a successful blog such as creating great content.
For that reason, we suggest the following:
- Get your design up
- Make changes to look nice
- Move on
The best part about all of this?
You don’t need any coding abilities to design your site with WordPress.
When I first started my blog, I didn’t even know how to get a website up, much less a single line of code. This doesn’t mean you have to either.
Themes are essentially out-of-the-box design packages that can be installed within WordPress.
You can change WordPress themes to change the style, feel and features of your blog.
If you’ve followed the instructions above, you should have your site up with HostGator looking something like this:
You’re probably wondering: why does my site look like this?
This is because HostGator automatically installed and activated the default theme called Twenty Nineteen. You can check this out by going to Appearance → Themes on your WordPress sidebar.
Your current WordPress only comes with 4 different themes to choose from, but there are literally thousands of different out there that you can install.
Free Themes vs. Paid Themes
There are both paid themes and free themes out there to help you design your WordPress blog.
Let’s take a look at the traits of free themes:
- They don’t cost a dime
- They provide all of the necessary functionality that your site will need
- There are literally thousands of free themes to choose from if you wish to change your design
- No customer support
- Usually don’t come with additional features
Since there are tons of free themes out there with plenty to choose from, why would you ever want to consider buying a paid theme?
Paid themes are much more powerful for the following reasons:
- Are relatively inexpensive (between $30 and $100)
- Have an entire staff dedicated to customer support
- Additional functionality and features
- Most successful bloggers use paid or custom-built themes
- It’s going to be a lot easier to make changes to your design due to additional customization options
So should you go with a paid or free one?
If you can afford, it we suggest going with a paid theme.
It’s going to be that much easier to use and will save you tons of time since you’ll have a lot more choices amongst paid themes, and it will be that much easier to make any customizations. Ultimately, you’ll be saving lots of time.
But if you’re strapped for cash, we get it. Go ahead and start with a free theme to get used to playing around with it.
Afterall, you can always buy a paid theme later down the road and switch.
Our #1 favorite free WordPress theme is Astra while our #1 favorite paid WordPress theme is the X theme.
Our Favorite Free WordPress Theme: Astra
Astra is a free WordPress theme that’s quite popular amongst beginners and is rapidly gaining traction.
It’s fast, easy to use and great for those without any coding experience.
Let’s go over how to install the Astra theme and apply it to your new blog.
Once again, go to Appearance and select “Themes” on your WordPress sidebar. At the top you’re going to click the “Add New” button.
Type in the word “Astra” in the search box and you should see a couple of options appear. It’s most likely going to be the first option.
Hover over the box and click “Install.”
Once that finishes, hover over the box again and hit “Activate.”
You now have the Astra theme installed and activated on your new site. And if you type in our domain name in the URL bar of our browser, we should get something like this…
Okay, it’s not the fanciest thing in the world, but it definitely looks better than what we had. With a little bit of customization, we can make it look that much better.
If you want to get something that’s a bit more fancy, you can consider buying Astra’s Pro that comes with 20+ starter sites right out of the box or go with the X Theme that we mentioned previously.
Step 6: Customizing Your Site
Now that we have the free Astra theme installed, time to get our hands dirty.
Let the designing begin!
In order to make any quick and easy changes to your WordPress site, go to Appearance → Customize on your WordPress sidebar. You should end up with a page similar to this:
This is the customization page for our Astra theme. There are two important ways to make changes to our site:
- Click any of the pencil icons to make changes to that specific part of the site
- You can also use the customization sidebar to make additional changes.
Note: We recommend leaving the “Hello Word!” post up for the time being so that you get an idea of how posts and your homepage will be affected by your design changes.
Before we get into the site design, let’s go through the pieces of our site from top to bottom.
At the very top of our webpage we notice that it says “My Pet Reptiles” and then “Sample Page” off to the side.
“My Pet Reptiles” is my site title and the “Sample Page” link is a menu item. The entire bar at the top is called the navigation bar.
Where you see the “Hello World!” article is the feed where new and old articles will be seen.
Off to the right side, we see a column that’s called the sidebar.
A sidebar is made up of widgets that each contain a unique functionality. On our current site, some of our widgets in our sidebar include a recent posts, recent comments and archives widget.
You probably want to make some changes to a few of these things on your site (at least I know I want to).
Instead of having the site title off to one side and the menu items to the right, I’d prefer one on top of the other. Go to your customization menu and click on “Header” and then select “Primary Header.”
I’m going to select the second image shown as it resonates more with my design style.
Great! Now my header is above my menu items. But it still looks pretty terrible since it says “Sample Page” there. Let’s add a few more things to that menu.
Go back to your customization menu and select “Menus.” Click on “Create New Menu” and give your menu a new title. You’ll also want to make sure the “Primary Menu” box is selected.
Hit “Next” and then “Add Items” to give you a list of what you can add to your new menu.
Remember when we created the contact page above? Let’s insert that into our menu by clicking on it.
You should see the contact menu item move over to the primary menu like in the image above.
Make sure to hit “Publish” to save your changes.
I refresh my site at mypetreptilles.com and here’s what I get.
It’s not complete yet, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Go ahead and try to add an About page and then adding it to your menu.
Go ahead and go through the customization menu of your theme and make any necessary changes that you’d like.
If you make a change and don’t like it, exit out and come back. As long as you don’t hit the Publish button, your changes won’t be made!
Step 7: Adding Content
Writing strong and in-depth pieces of content is by far one of my favorite things to do on my blog. I get to learn about a topic in great detail through intensive research, and I get to educate my audience about something they’ve (hopefully) never learned before.
For a lot of beginner bloggers out there, this is the one factor that deters people from starting a blog in the first place: the fear of writing.
When people tell me they don’t want to create a blog, I often hear the excuse that they don’t have any writing abilities/skills/experience/fill in blank here.
My response to all of that?
It doesn’t matter.
You will get better with time, as long as you take the time to practice.
When I first started blogging roughly 5 years ago, I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t even know how to structure an article (and I’m even more embarrassed to admit that I used to think that all new content went under pages and not posts).
Yet by comparing my very first article written and my last article written, there’s an immense difference in quality. And I mean big.
So how did I actually get good at this copywriting thing?
By writing – and doing lots of it.
If you don’t have any writing abilities/experience/skills//fill in the blank here, that’s what it may take for you.
And if this still hasn’t convinced you, I’m going to share some secret copywriting steps that will give you a jump start to your writing game.
Out of everything mentioned here, I can promise you one thing: if you keep at it, you will get better.
My 3 Favorite Tips For Writing Great Copywrite
Instead of just throwing you out there to the wolves, I’m going to give you my personal three favorite tips for writing great copywrite.
Of course there’s a lot more, but we won’t be able to cover them all in this post. In our paid course, we cover up to 16 steps for writing great copywrite.
Let’s begin with the first one.
1. Creating Great Headlines
It’s what anyone sees before they enter your post. Whether it be on your blog’s homepage or in Google, the title is the first thing that’s going to catch your reader’s eye.
This is why creating a great title is extremely important and can’t be overlooked.
But what is it that makes a great title?
It’s one that drives emotion and sends a message to a reader. Let’s take a look at some examples of this.
Going back to our reptile blog example, I’m interested in writing an article about some really cool snake facts.
I do my research, write my content and the only thing that’s left is to come up with a great title. With the most basic phrase in mind, I decided to create the following title:
Cool Snake Facts
What is this title actually telling me? That this article has some facts about snakes and they’re probably somewhat interesting.
Yet it doesn’t really call to the reader. What’s to stop them from clicking on another article titled something similar in Google?
Maybe we can try throwing some adjectives in there to spice things up.
Really Cool Snake Facts
Okay… instead of snake facts that are cool or interesting, they’re really cool. It’s a good start and adds a bit of excitement to the headline, but we can do better.
Really Cool Snake Facts That Will Shock You
Much better. Now we have a title that we know is about snake facts, but the facts within this article are probably ones that will send a small chill down my spine.
What this title does is drive emotion to the reader and gives them a reason to click.
Can we do even better? How about adding a number. Research shows that adding numbers to your titles gets more clicks. More specifically, the number 10 tends to do even better than every other number.
I’m going to make a few more changes to come up with the following:
10 Shocking Snake Facts You Probably Didn’t Know
Now we have a title that does a couple of things: it drives my curiosity since I probably didn’t know about these facts, but it also kicks in some emotion since I know that these facts will probably be shocking.
And to top it all off, the number 10 in front will help drive more clicks. If you don’t have 10 items in your article, you can always create more content or change the number in front.
But Jason, I’m really terrible at making creative headlines.
And my response is this: Great! That’s because you don’t have to be. We can look at some examples of other sites to see how well they do.
One of my favorite examples is by looking at Buzzfeed. Let’s take a look at some of the titles on their homepage and check out a couple of their titles.
Here we have the following:
- 40 Cheap, Small Accessories That’ll Make A Big Impact On An Outfit
- 27 Products That’ll Actually Help Make You Productive in 2023
Now we have a template to use. Let’s take out a few words and BAM!
- ___ Cheap ____ That Will _____ On ___
- ____ ____ That’ll Actually Help Make You ____ in ____
From this template, I come up with the following:
- 20 Cheap Iguana Cages That Will Leave Your Pet Crawling With Joy
- 10 Tips That’ll Actually Make Your Pet Reptile Love You More In 2023
I didn’t follow the template to the letter, but pretty close, and now I have some great titles.
You may think click bait, but I think genius.
2. Structuring Your Content
Writing great content is important.
Yet having a great content structure is just as important.
In order to make a piece of content incredible, you need to make sure you have a clear guideline for your reader to follow.
If you have a large block of text, it’s going to cause your reader to leave the page due to the difficulty of reading.
By not having headlines or images that break up the text, your reader may get bored since the content isn’t visually appealing.
Then what’s the secret to creating great content structure?
Take a look at other bloggers that catch your attention and see what they’re doing.
Break Up Your Text
If you’ve read this far into the article, I’ll assume that I’ve kept you entertained long enough to assume my content structure is at least somewhat decent (or maybe you just like pet reptiles as much as I do).
If you notice one thing I do consistently is that I break up text.
Because it’s going to be less likely that someone reads this:
The paragraphs in this article are typically between one and three sentences, making it easier to navigate the page.
Using headers is another great way to break up your content. Not only does it help out your audience, but creating an outline beforehand gives you a great idea of what your content is all about.
In this article, I clearly break up the steps on blogging and subheadings in each of the steps to help make it more clear for my readers.
Want to know a really easy way to create an excellent outline of your content? Research.
One of my favorite sites to do this with is Udemy. This site has tons of courses available for you to dig through.
The best part?
They have ratings so you know which courses are doing the best.
Let’s head over to Udemy to take a look at some examples. You can type in your topic, but I’m going to scroll down to get an example.
I see a course on advanced stock trading strategies. This goes perfect for my personal finance site.
I also notice that it has a rating of 4.6 stars out of 1,877 ratings. It must be doing something right.
We can dig a little further by clicking on the course to check out the course contents.
Now I have my article structure ready.
Of course, I don’t want to copy, but at least I have a general idea. Take a look at a few courses related to your topic to get a better idea for some content structure for your article.
3. Keep It Casual
One thing to keep in mind when writing great content is to consider who you’re writing for.
For most bloggers out there, you’re most likely going to write in a casual style.
Essentially what this means is to write as if you were speaking to someone.
A great way to focus on the reader is by continuously using the word “you” or “your.” This pulls the reader in since now the article becomes all about them. We want to keep in mind that we’re catering to whoever is reading the post.
In order to back this claim up, some of the world’s best authors write at a middle school level or lower.
For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald – one of the most popular authors of our time – writes below an 8th grade level.
According to contently.com, most adults can’t read past an 8th grade level.
Therefore, it would make sense to keep our language casual, simple and easy to read.
A good way to do this is by using the following:
- Active voice
- Simple words
- Fewer adverbs
- Short sentences
A good way to get into your writing style is by looking at what other bloggers are doing. If you see a great piece of content that you particularly like, ask yourself why.
What is this writer doing that keeps me so engaged? What can I take away from this article that I can integrate into my own writing?
Keep in mind that you don’t want to copy other writers out there since you want to attract others with your unique voice. Yet this is a great way to get started and to help you thinking about catering to your audience in a casual manner.
Want to determine how difficult your writing is to read? You can go to hemmingwayapp.com to check.
They rate your text and offer suggestions for improvement to keep your content simple and casual.
Creating Our First Post And Page
Now that you have some copywriting secrets under your belt, let’s publish our first post.
Head back over to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Posts.” From there, click on “Add New.”
And now we’re ready to begin writing our content.
Let’s use a few of the tricks we learned above to get started: an appealing headline, great content structure and a casual writing style for our readers.
Note: Most of the information in this sample article about snakes was made up. I’m actually not that knowledgeable about snakes.
When you finish, hit publish and take a look at your home page.
You did it! You’re officially a blogger with your first published post.
A Plugin That Makes Writing Easier
When WordPress came out with version 5.0 they completely redefined the content editor.
For most bloggers, this change was more annoying than helpful. I personally prefer the old content editor more beneficial, and that’s what I’m using right now.
If you want to try it out, you can activate it by installing the Classic Editor Plugin. Go to plugins and type in “classic editor.” Go ahead and install and activate the plugin.
Now when you write pages or posts, you’ll see something like this:
I personally find this version easier to use. However, if you prefer the new content editor you can deactivate the Classic Editor Plugin to go back to the new content editor.
Next Steps: Making Money
Now that you have your blog setup and traffic is rolling in, what next?
Time to make some money.
First, let’s get into the multitude of ways on how to make money blogging.
Affiliate programs are one of my favorite ways to make money blogging. They’re usually quite easy to implement and don’t require a lot of configuration on your end.
So what are affiliate programs exactly?
When you become an affiliate, you get paid to promote products of other companies.
For example, let’s say you write a post about the best pencils to write for your journal. You put a lot of time, effort and research into your post and finally list out 10 incredible pencils that anyone can use for writing in their diary.
You find that the top 3 pens are sold on Amazon.com and the latter 7 are on Walmart.com. In order to make your content more user-friendly, you put in links to each one of these pens to the respective websites where they’re sold.
If you’re unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, you probably put in normal links to the website.
But if you’re an affiliate marketer, you put in affiliate links that earn you a commission when someone clicks on your link and buys something from said website.
In this example, you would make the first 3 links affiliate links for Amazon and the next 7 links would be affiliate links to Walmart. If someone buys something from Amazon, you can currently earn 1-3% on sales.
If your reader clicks and buys something from Walmart, you would also earn a percentage of whatever they purchased.
Amazon Associates is one of my favorite affiliate programs because it’s the easiest to implement.
While the commission isn’t very high (they recently had a reduction to just 1-3% of sales depending on the category), it’s a great way to get started with making money from your blog.
This affiliate program doesn’t require you to have any initial traffic to your site, and as long as you have 2-3 blog posts up you should be accepted.
Other Affiliate Programs
There are literally thousands of affiliate programs out there. So how do you know which one to choose?
Go to Google and type in your product + “affiliate program.”
You’d be surprised at how many results you get for any product you type in.
Advertising is typically less profitable than affiliate marketing, but can also make a great addition to your revenue stream for your blog.
The most typical one is Google Adsense and doesn’t require any initial traffic to get started.
Yet when your blog starts getting 10,000+ users per month, you can start using alternative advertising networks that pay out a lot more.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Ezoic (requires 10k+ sessions per month)
- Mediavine (requires 25k+ sessions per month)
- AdThrive (requires 100k+ sessions per month)
Keep in mind that just because you meet the traffic requirements that you may not be accepted into one of these advertising networks. Unfortunately, most of the time they won’t tell you the reason why either.
If that’s the case, search for alternatives or apply to a different network.
Other Ways To Make Money
There are plenty of other ways to make money blogging that the possibilities are virtually endless.
Here are some other ideas you might want to try:
- Create an online course
- Write an ebook
- Make templates (wedding templates, personal agendas, etc.)
Choose the best method that works for you.
Keep in mind that the reason we went into more detail on advertising and affiliate marketing is because it’s the easiest way for new bloggers to make money.
Creating a course or writing an ebook can be very profitable, but it’s typically a lot more time-consuming and requires you to use an additional platform to upload your materials.
And don’t get me wrong – you can make really good money just through affiliate marketing. A lot of blogs live off of it alone. In fact, it’s currently my primary way of making money through this blog.
Final Thoughts On Making Money Through Blogging
Hopefully this guide has served you on how to get your blog setup and to start making money with it.
There’s a lot more that we could cover, but that would be for another blog post.
If you’d prefer a video walkthrough of the steps mentioned above, check out our FREE 5-Day Money Making Blog Crash Course.
For those who want to go ahead and dive right into making serious money with your blog and treating it as a full-time business, we recommend taking our paid Blog Launch Profit Course.
As a thank you for being a reader, you automatically get a 10% discount at checkout when you use the coupon code 10OFFSTARTABLOG.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns I’d be more than happy to help. Feel free to leave them down below and happy blogging!