How to start and monetize a blog in 2020?
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read the disclaimer for more information.
First things first, I’d like to say at the onset that setting up a blog is easy. Ensuring you stay motivated to consistently blog isn’t. A blog needs compelling content which thereby needs…
When I started this blog over 2 years ago, it wasn’t with the intention of making it financially viable. I have PCOS (more about it here) and felt the need to talk about it and help women with the same condition. Over the years, I added more sections and topics of interest but overall my favourite thing to talk about is clean beauty and health.
In this post, I will take you through a step by step, easy to follow method that I did to start my lifestyle blog and how I have been able to do so with minimal investment. Roughly the whole set up process should take you less than 20 minutes.
Before I get to the process, there are a few blogging myths that I would like to debunk:
The biggest myth about starting a blog is that you need to be a great writer. There are number of successful sites that I’ve come across that aren’t well written but continue to be popular because the content is good. People appreciate good content and that should be the objective of every post you write.
You don’t need to be an expert in your field of interest. You just need to be passionate about the topic or else readers will see through the facade.
You don’t have to be an online/digital advertising guru to promote your blog, there are a couple of proven tactics that I will list below that you can use to drive traffic to your site.
Step 1 – Choose a name for your website
A domain is the the equivalent of a written mail address. The place you want people to land at when they click on your site. To purchase a domain, log onto any domain registration site like Siteground, Namecheap or Godaddy. Costs range from USD 0.80 (AED 0.21) to USD 20 (AED 5.44) depending on the name and website extension (.com, , .net etc.) I purchased Hotch Potch from Namecheap but before that, I did look up the same name on multiple domain sites to get the best deal. Domain names are bought annually so every year you need to pay the same amount to renew the domain. If you’re unsure about your blog’s name, make a list of topics that you want to blog about and then make a shortlist of words that relate to the topic. Here are couple of blogging topic thought starters:
Here’s how you can buy a domain name:
– Log on to SiteGround
– In the search box, enter your future blog’s name to see if it is available. Don’t be fixated on getting a .com as they’re usually taken (given that its the oldest website extension ever) or they’re usually more expensive. There are tons of other extensions available like .net, io, co that you can use for your website. Also, if your preferred name isn’t available, add a ‘the’ or a hyphen between words.
– Next, under the section ‘Choose Service’ select ‘Get a new hosting’. Under the ‘Enter Domain’ section, click on ‘Register a new domain’ if you’ve purchased the domain from another site. If you’ve purchased the domain from SiteGround select ‘I already have a domain’ and enter the website’s name.
Step 2 – Get your blog online
A hosting site is the area within your house where you stock your furniture. They’re the behind the scenes kind of housekeeping guys where your site resides. A good hosting service ensures your site is online 24/7, helps you fix technical issues and enables your site to load quickly.
WordPress is a free blogging software that you can use to create your blog’s content. It is super user friendly and is ideal for beginners.
Siteground and WordPress come together in a package and you can purchase the basic package (which is ideal for a beginner) here for $3.95 instead of the regular fee of $11.95 per month.
Here’s why I recommend Siteground as a hosting service: 1. Customer service is 24/7. This is particularly helpful when your site is down and you need immediate assistance. You can reach them on chat or phone. I usually use the chat facility as it’s quicker and also because I don’t live in the US. 2. They offer a free SSL certificate which is basically a HTTPS certificate that encrypts interaction between a visitor and the website, thus making it more secure and reliable to a visitor. 3. Compatible with WordPress 4. Websites load quickly thanks to their super-fast servers
1. After entering your domain details, select a hosting plan. I recommend the basic StartUp plan because not only it’s the cheapest and also because it’s good enough for a new blog. Once your blog attracts more traffic, you can always upgrade to the other plans.
2. Under ‘Purchase Information’, in ‘Location’ select the location closest to your geographical location and check out. That’s it, you now have a domain and a hosting service.
Tip – There are free and paid hosting services available. The biggest difference between the two is that free services have the company’s name in the website name whereas in a paid service you buy the domain so the website name will be the one you’ve chosen. Eg- my blog hosted on a free hosting service would be www.companyname.com/hotchpotch which appears too commercial. I like the personalized feature I get with a chosen name and hence recommend a paid service. Also, my blog is SEO optimized which means it ranks better in search engines like Google, Bing. Lastly, free hosting sites do not offer immediate customer service support which i personally think has been a life saver when my site has been down or I’ve faced a technical glitch.
3. Now that you have access to SiteGround’s dashboard, you need to install WordPress. Go to the second tab ‘My Accounts’ and under ‘Auto Installers’ that appears in the mid section of the page, double click on the ‘WordPress’ icon.
Disclosure – I started my blog on Site Ground and have now partnered with them to get you a huge discount. If you make a purchase through this or any of the links on this post I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote things I use and like and am always transparent about it! If you face any technical issues setting up your blog, please reach out to me and I’ll get it done for you 🙂
Step 3 – Customize your blog
So here’s where it gets interesting. Other than writing content for this site, I spend the better half of the day tinkering with templates. I don’t think there’s any one out there who doesn’t want their blog to look good. You can always enlist the services of a web designer but doing it yourself can be super gratifying. Once your site is up and running you can proudly claim THAT YOU BUILD IT FROM SCRATCH! There are tons of free, easy and well-designed WordPress themes like Elementor, Alizee, Ingrid etc. All you have to do is download the file, then click on Appearance on WordPress and click on the ‘Add New’ button that appears at the top, to install the theme. Once the theme is active, it automatically adjusts your content to the theme’s design. For more WordPress Themes, click here.
Tip – I’ve used all the free themes suggested above before I decided to purchase the Genesis Framework. I wasn’t sure if blogging was a passing phase or if I was genuinely interested in it so free themes was the best way to go to keep my investment low at the beginning. I recommend starting out with free themes as they really helped me familiarize myself with WordPress and the world of blogging.
Step 4 – Pick a topic or several topics of interest that you would like to blog about.
Be honest. Be real. Create compelling content that you as a reader would enjoy reading (that’s the way I judge every post of mine and constantly edit them on an ongoing basis to stay relevant to readers). I only write about things that interest me or services that I’ve used. A blog cannot only be about commercial gains because your readers will lose interest. The best part of the commercial world is that we are all consumers so imagine if a site is constantly trying to sell you things every step of the way, you will lose interest sooner than later. Put together at least 20 posts before you start promoting your blog.
1. To post your FIRST POST, Once you’re don’t installing and logging into WordPress, select ‘POSTS’ i.e. the third option on the left hand bar. Click on the ‘Add New’ button that appears at the top.
2. In the top box, enter the title of the post. In the white box below, starting writing your blog post. If you want to add images to your post, click on the ‘Add Media’ button that appears just below the title box. If you wish to preview your post before it goes live, click on the ‘Preview’ button that appears on the right hand side in the ‘Publish’ section. Once you’re happy with the previewed post, click on ‘Publish’ to publish it.
Tip – Ensure each post is proof-read and not too long. There are several pluging like Worth the Read that I use to the reader how long the post it. Increase the size of the text as most people (myself included) are practically blind thanks to staring at their laptops for hours on end. Please do not copy posts from other sites. One – It is plagiarism and Two – Google is aware of this and will move your site to the bottom of search engine results.
Step 5 – Direct traffic to your website
There’s no point putting up great content that no is going to read. Here are couple of free ways to direct people to your site: Pinterest– Create images and link the image on Pinterest to your site. Ensure the images are nice to look at and free to use. The same method applies to all social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
Quora – Respond to questions relevant to your field of interest and plug in your blog’s name.
Enlist with Bing – Yes, Google is undeniably the popular engine but Bing is the second best site and you should register your blog on Bing which will appear in Bing’s search results.
Step 6 – Monetize your blog
There are several ways to monetize a blog:
1. Google AdSense – Once you have a decent amount of people visiting your website, advertisers will pay to post their ads on your site. When a reader clicks on an ad, you will get paid by Google.
2. Online course or eBooks – Create a course or write an eBook on your area of interest and sell them on your blog for a nominal fee. Once you have a strong visitor base, selling them a product will be easy given that they are repeat visitors and trust the product you will be selling them.
3. Affiliate Marketing – Simply put, you get a referral feel for recommending a product or service that you’ve used to a reader who ends up purchasing the product. The thing about affiliate marketing is that you should only recommend services that you genuinely have loved using. If you choose to recommend a substantial product or service to your readers, purely for commercial gains then it will back fire and you end up losing face with readers who trust you. Here are couple of affiliate marketing services – Shareasale and Commission Junction.