Setting up a profitable blog from scratch can seem overwhelming. If you love reading other people’s blogs and wonder if you too could be putting yourself out there, here is some super good news.
It is really very, very easy to set up and create your own online blog.
Developing a successful blog is also the beginning stage of being able to make money from home by writing a blog for money. YES, you heard correctly, you can make money from blogging!
However, to get your blog to produce an income, you first need to have a productive and popular blog, with real, engaging content.
Below are the steps you need to follow to ensure you set up your blog correctly, right from the beginning.
Why You Should Set Up a Blog
There are many reasons why you might set up an online blog, these include:
Publishing stories or recipes.
Using it to document your progress with a business, hobby or personal challenge.
Blogging online for extra income – you can make a lot of money from blogging if you do it right.
Sharing information or product reviews
To practise and hone your writing skills.
In this article, we’ll talk about ways to start a profitable blog, how to set up your blog, and the steps you need to take for your blog to start generating an income for you.
Have I convinced you that you should join the blogging community? Here’s how to get started:
8 Easy Steps to Setting Up a Profitable Online Blog
Step 1 – Choose your Topic
Not all blog topics are created equal. If you are planning to monetise your blogging efforts, you will see better, faster and more profitable results if you choose one of the top money-making topics.
This is not to say that other topics won’t make you money, I am sure that somewhere, someone is making money in almost every niche. However, some blogging niches have been proven to perform better than others.
Top Categories for Monetising your Blog:
Money and Personal Finance
Weight Loss/Health and Fitness
Beauty and Fashion
The magical niche is one that you are both passionate about AND fits within one of these categories. A specific niche is usually best, so try focusing a particular aspect of your niche, like ‘container gardening’ or ‘gluten-free baking.’
Step 2 – Get a Domain Name
Choosing a domain name (the bit before the .com in a web address) is not always easy.
You need a domain name that is:
Easy to spell
Easy to remember
Maximum three words long (one or two is even better)
Doesn’t say anything rude when the words are put together without a gap!
Is available with the extension of your choice. A .com extension is the gold standard, but in some cases, you may want to reflect that you’re in a certain country, or you can go for an alternative extension for some other reason.
Ultimately, you want your domain name to make sense with your business, and other than that, you can call it whatever you like.
In an ideal world, you would be able to secure the exact domain name that you wanted. Sadly, people do buy up interesting domain names, and then offer to sell them to you for a large sum of money.
.com domain names are probably the most common for these people to buy and resell, but they do this for good reason.
If there is a blog that you don’t know the web address for, how often have you tried to type in the name and just add ‘.com’ at the end to see what is there? It happens a lot. This is why you really want to be secure the .com extension for your chosen domain name.
If the .com isn’t available, .co, .net and .info are also becoming more common, but they just don’t have the same standing of the .com.
If someone else is using the .com of the domain name that you want, I strongly suggest that you look for a different name, as you will lose a lot of traffic to the .com version.
If you want to reflect the origin of your business, you could go with a local extension (.eu, .nz, etc.), but if you are targeting people around the globe, the .com really is the gold standard. For organisations, .org could be a good solution as well.
Once you have chosen your domain name, go through an agent that sells domain names like one.com and always buy the added domain privacy protection, which lets you keep your name and contact details out of the public WHOIS database. You can read more about domain privacy protection here.
Step 3 – Choose your Blogging Platform
A blogging platform is the background program that you use online to build your blog. There are several different options:
Free but limited in what you can do (like WordPress.com and Blogger.com)
There are two types of WordPress:
WordPress.com is free and is hosted on their server. But there are some substantial limitations on what you can and can’t do, especially when it comes to monetising.
It’s very simple to use though and would be great if you want to make something like a simple family journal blog, as it’s a nice choice for hobby bloggers who don’t want to invest money. It’s also a good option for people who plan to upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress blog in the future.
Alternatively, you can go with WordPress.org. If you choose this option, you will need to arrange hosting for your blog (i.e., pay a hosting company for storing the information.) BUT doing that means there are very few limitations on what you can do, and it is still very easy to use.
You can install plugins (mini-programs that make WordPress do amazing things) as well as edit your HTML/CSS code, giving you full control over your website and making it look more professional.
A self-hosted WordPress blog is usually the best way to go for anyone willing to invest a couple of dollars per month.
WordPress is ideal for business owners, professional brand-builders, and any blogger looking to expand their site’s functionality and professional appearance.
Some would argue that Blogger is a strong competitor for WordPress.org, now that Google owns it. Personally, I have found WordPress to be more user-friendly, and I like the themes on WordPress better. Sorry Blogger.
In saying that though, many successful blogs run on Blogger. Blogger (like WordPress.com) has free options, but with both, you have to pay to remove their ads from your site or if you want to use your own domain name.
The main reason many people turn to Squarespace is because of its user-friendliness. It offers beautiful templates that are easy to implement.
With Squarespace, there are no plugins to install or coding to be learned, as most functionalities are already built in.
Since Squarespace is a paid platform, the customer service is excellent. The Squarespace team can assist you with everything from choosing the right template to technical issues. Most of the time though, their learning centre has all the information you need.
One thing to note, if you plan on writing recipes, Squarespace currently doesn’t support recipe cards.
Wix is a popular choice for many new bloggers (if you don't mind putting up with random advertising), as it's free and very user-friendly.
Most bloggers using Wix will switch to WordPress at a certain point, as Wix has fewer options and more issues with search engine optimisation. However, Wix is easy to use and has lots of built-in features.
Tumblr is another valid option for blogging in some niches, for example, if your target audience is young people.
Tumblr is kind of half social network, half blog. It is helpful for staying in contact with your readers or sharing your travel blog with family and friends, but being a social network, you do risk losing your whole blog if Tumblr shuts down or blocks your account.
Medium is a blogging platform that allows people to write directly to their website. Like Tumblr, it’s not quite the same as hosting your own blog, but it’s a great way to reach lots of people and to get some authority in a field.
Step 4 – Choose Web Hosting for your Blog
Hosting is the storage space that your website lives in. The company that hosts your blog keeps the files on their servers (big heavy duty computers.) A domain name is just the address that you type in the browser bar, but you have to pay for that too. Sometimes hosting comes with a free domain name, but you don’t necessarily get to choose your preferred domain name if it is a free one. So which should you choose - free hosting or paid hosting?
Free things are awesome. Right? Usually, I love free stuff, but free hosting kinda sucks.
You won’t own your own blog; the hosting service can, (and sometimes do) delete it without warning.
Also, there are limits to some free blogs. You can’t fully monetise them, don’t have complete control over ads being posted on your blog, or you can’t have endless bandwidth – i.e. there are limits on the amount of photos and videos you can upload.
If you aren’t happy with those limits and want more from your blog, then you need a self-hosted blog on your own domain name. That way you are the REAL owner of your online blog.
With this option, you can name your blog whatever you want. You can also pay your host for unlimited bandwidth for videos, images, and content, plus you have access to the free themes and the ability to edit them as much as you like.
Hosting and domain names are not as expensive as you think.
These days, whichever host you choose will likely have a one-click WordPress or Joomla installer, or you can ask your hosting provider to install it for you.
Wahoo look at you go!
Step 5 - Install Analytics
Google Analytics is probably the blogger’s best and most powerful free blogging tool. Once you have set it up, you can find out where your blog traffic comes from, which pages they're visiting, how long they're staying and much more.
Even if you’re not completely familiar with it yet, it’s great to be able to collect data right from the beginning of your blog.
To get started, go to google.com/analytics and set up an account. Then you can set up a “property” - each website is its own property. They will then give you a tracking code for you to install on your website.
After doing this, head back to Google and push the button that verifies that you own the website. Now you will be able to access analytics, look up how many visitors you are getting, see where they are coming from, what they are viewing, and so much more.
Step 6 – Add Amazing Content
Plan Your Structure
I know it seems a little over the top to plan your entire blog’s structure now, but trust me, you’ll be glad you spent some serious time at the start working out what you want to cover and how you want to structure your blog.
Some websites are 100% blog, but most have at least a few other pages on them. Example of pages you might want to add are:
Home - the first thing people will see when they edit your blog
About Me - tells visitors your story and how they can work with you
Contact Me - lets people know how to get in touch with you
Store (if you need one)
Landing Pages - leading to a web shop or individual products (e.g., a course or e-book), your newsletter, or something else you want to drive attention to.
Disclaimer (for affiliate link disclosure, legal or medical disclaimers)
Terms and Conditions, Shipping, etc. (if relevant)
Once you have these pages set up, create a menu so people can easily navigate your website and find what they’re looking for.
Structure your blog
To get started, you‘ll need to choose categories to keep your blog posts organised:
Top Level Categories
These are the main categories that your page will cover. Choose three to five broad categories. For example, if you were setting up a homesteading blog, you might choose ‘Kitchen,’ ‘Garden,’ ‘Livestock,’ and ‘Frugal Living.’
Second Level Categories
Under your top level, list two to seven sub-categories that all of your posts will come under. For example, under ‘Garden’ you may have ‘Container Gardening,’ ‘Garden Planning,’ and ‘Herbs.’
You need to be able to find every post on your website within two or three clicks. If they are buried any deeper than this, not only will people not find them, Google will struggle to find them too.
Once you have your categories planned out, and you know how they will work together on your site, you can add pages or category tags for each of them.
Write Your First Post
Now you’re ready to start creating your blog posts!
If you want your new blog to rank in Google, you will need to do a LOT of research into SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Read our post on optimising SEO for more help with this.
If you’re using WordPress, you can install the Yoast plugin. Each time you create a new post, fill in the relevant information for Yoast at the bottom of the Posts page for an easy way start improving your SEO.
For Squarespace users, customise your URL in the ‘Options’ tab, and don’t forget to write an excerpt, which will show up in search results.
Add some images and wa-lah! A blog is born!
Once you start uploading images to your blog, try to keep each image under 100Kb, as it will allow the page to load faster (bigger files are slower to load.) If you have already filled your blog up with large images (like most of us do when we start), then there is a sneaky trick to resize all your images on Wordpress for free here.
With every blog post, remember to add tags and categories to keep things organised and make it easier for your readers to find the content they’re looking for.
Step 7 - Monetise Your Blog
There are multiple ways to make your blog bring in the money. Blogs can actually earn a surprising amount of income if they are set up in the right niche, sell the right things to the right people and are marketed well.
The most common ways to monetise blogs are:
Selling your own physical products
E-books, courses, and memberships
For a deeper dive into the different ways you can monetise your blog and how to get up and running with that, check out our mini-course here.
Once you have some pageviews happening on your blog, you can apply to ad networks. These networks co-ordinate advertisers on your site and pay you for either the number of people that view your page, the number of people that click on the ad, or a combination of the two.
Most blogs start out with Google AdSense. They prefer you to have been running for at least six months, and they can pay not too terribly for some niches. InfoLinks is a viable option for small blogs as well.
If you’ve set up Google Analytics as described above, you’ll be able to measure page views, sessions, and users of your blog. A user is a visitor to your site, a session is each time that they come to your site, and page views is the number of pages they viewed in total over the day.
Once you are getting 10,000 sessions a month, depending on your niche, you might be able to look at Gourmet Ads, who often pay a little more than AdSense. Blogs that get over 30,000 sessions a month can try Mediavine and those with over 100,000 page views a month can apply for other higher paying networks.
You can also choose to sell ad space privately to companies.
Depending on your niche, you may find that companies approach you to do a sponsored post for them in exchange for free products or some money. Or you could approach your favourite companies with a proposal.
If you choose to do this, don’t sell yourself short. Both your time and all this advertising are valuable. Many bloggers charge $300-$700 per sponsored post when they’re just starting out, and this number can go up as you reach more people.
As you are starting up your blog, it is a good time to look into affiliate programs for products and services that you can recommend. When you sign up to an affiliate program with a company, you’ll be given a link (or a way to generate links) to put on your website whenever you mention their product or service. When one of your visitors clicks the link to buy, you could earn a commission on the sale.
Amazon is a common place for people to start linking to products within their blog posts. ShareASale is another great option; when you sign up, you can apply to be an affiliate for multiple companies through them.
Your Own Physical or Digital Products
Selling your own product or course is probably the most profitable way of making money from your blog. However, you must ensure that what you are trying to sell actually answers the questions that your readers are asking or solves a problem that they have On top of that, they must be willing to pay money to get those answers or solutions. Otherwise, you will really struggle to sell your products at all.
You can write eBooks and sell them directly on your website or through Kindle Direct with Amazon. You could also create a course or sell physical products that you make or produce. If you'd like to know more about how to create, launch and market your own online course, check out our Course Creation Master Plan to get you on the right track.
Following on from writing your own course, you may choose to run a membership through your blog. Some topics that work really well for this are coaching, weight loss, and professional development.
Step 8 - Promote your Blog
Once you have a few posts on your blog, preferably one under each of your sub-categories, it’s time to launch your blog!
A blog launch sounds amazing and a tiny bit overwhelming, but really all you have to do is start letting people know that your blog exists!
Add a pinnable image to your blog post somewhere so people can share it on Pinterest. This needs to be 600px x 900px in size and also set as a featured image in your post. In most WordPress themes and some Squarespace templates, this featured image will display at the top of your blog posts as well as on social media like Twitter and Facebook.
Pinterest is hands down the fastest way to get your blog seen by people. If you’d like to get started on this platform, take a look at our article on how to use Pinterest to promote your business. If you want some help getting engaged eyeballs on your blog, you might like our Practical Pinner course. Pinterest literally drives millions of page views per day to bloggers all around the world. FOR FREE. You really need to be in on that action.
The big rule with promotion is to go where your readers are. For example, if your readers are on Facebook, then you should be too.
Watch the 7 day video series we made, full of tips on how you can use Facebook to drive traffic, check out our post with 5 Facebook Business Page Tips to Make your Page Convert Better.
Got any questions about how to monetise your blog? Maybe you'd like to know more about promoting it or establishing yourself as an expert? Let us know in the comments.