First off, congrats on your big decision to start a blog! I went back and forth over this decision for years. And now that I finally have one, I just love it and wish I had started blogging sooner! This little guide is the step by step process I went through in designing my blog and monetizing it.
Blogging is hard work, but it can be rewarding both financially and professionally.
Even if you are completely new to this blogging world, you can start your blog TODAY. Blogging is flexible and a great side hustle (or full-time job) you can totally do at home or while traveling.
So let’s dive right in. The first thing you will need to do is decide on your niche.
1. Decide on your blog niche.
What are you interested in? What field are you an expert in? What are you passionate about? This task may take some deep reflection, but take your time to start asking yourself these tough questions. It will come to you.
The important thing is that you really do need to narrow your focus. Choose a topic you are passionate about, even if you don’t feel like an expert at it just yet.
Some popular blogging niches are health & fitness, beauty, fashion, travel & lifestyle, food & recipes, photography and small business. Get as specific as you possibly can with your niche.
If you are talking to everyone, you are really aren’t talking to anyone.
Who is your audience? When writing you want to be able to talk to a specific person, your ideal customer or reader. I’ll discuss this topic in depth in another post soon, but think of blogging as talking for hours to your best friend about a subject you both love.
2. Choose A Domain Name
Now that you’ve decided on your niche, you will need a domain name for your blog. This is the web address where people can find you online. You can grab one for free at Bluehost.
Don’t overthink this part! I know. I know. I did it too. It took me quite a while before I decided on Simply Successful Creative. Just make a decision and go with it!
A few things to consider when choosing a domain name:
It needs to be something that is easy to spell and pronounce.
It should be short and simple. Mine is borderline. I admit it.
Stay away from anything hyphenated.
Try to go with a .com instead of .net or .org if at all possible.
It should relate to your niche, but not be too limiting. Think long term here. (If you are blogging about all things Florida and then move across country you are going to have a tough time transitioning your blog.)
For a personal brand there is no greater domain than your own name. This is what I did for my photography business.
A play on words can be fun too (“Road Trippin With Robin” for a travel blog or maybe “In the Kitchen with Kim” for a foodie blog.)
After you have a few contenders for your blog name, it’s important to check across all social media platforms (Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc) to see if your name is available. If it is, grab it! For a cohesive brand it is so nice to be recognized across all social media with the same name.
3. Host Your Blog
There are several options out there and a very popular one to go with is Bluehost because you can host for as little as $2.65 a month!! They have been around forever. Bluehost is reputable and extremely affordable. This is a great option if you want a Wordpress blog. I am not a web designer and not a very tech savvy person, so I went a different route.
I chose to host and create a site with SquareSpace. Pricing is tiered so you only pay for what you need. I love this. I currently pay $18 a month for my blog.
What I love most about Squarespace is how easy it is to customize my site with multiple blog pages, a store, landing pages, etc. It is perfect for bloggers, etsy shop owners and small businesses. It is powerful and user friendly!
You can get a 14 day FREE TRIAL to Squarespace just to try it out. Students are also eligible for a 50% discount!
A few more reasons I chose Squarespace:
Simplicity and a small learning curve. Like I said, I’m not tech savvy.
Drag & drop design. I love how easy designing a page is and that it auto updates so that I can see exactly what it will look like.
Customer Support. OMGosh! Squarespace is amazing for their customer support. Because everything is in house and I am not dealing with a theme creator and the plug-in developer (like you have to do with Wordpress), it is so easy to get help when I need it most.
No Site Maintenance. Spacespace is a closed source platform. There are no other developers updating plug-ins (or NOT updating them) that cause my site to not perform properly.
4. Design Your Blog
You want to think about your brand colors carefully. Colors evoke emotions and have different meanings. (Yellow = happy. Purple = royalty.) Do some research here. There are some amazing companies out there who will create an entire brand, logo, SEO and custom site for you. Here is a great one with absolutely beautiful designs.
Find one or two fonts that you like and are easy to read. I love Open Sans. I use it throughout my entire site.
Design your logo (it can just be your domain name in your chosen font for now) or you can pay to have one designed from companies like this one.
Choose your website theme. There are several excellent ones from Squarespace. A few of my favorites for blogging (because of the sidebar feature) are: Avenue, Five and Galapagos. You could also opt for a custom design offered by a designer.
Choose your blog categories. Just a few to start out with it totally fine.
Now it’s time to start adding your content and writing your little heart out!
Essential Pages For Your Blog
5. Monetize Your Blog
You can start making money from your blog in your first month. The easiest way to do this is through affiliate marketing. This is blogging about and promoting products and services you love to use on your blog. When someone makes a purchase through your link, you receive a commission from the sale.
I learned so much from How To Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours ebook. It's only $25 and I made that investment right back!
Another course that has been a tremendous help is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. It has really opened my eyes to all the possible ways to earn affiliate income. I'm implementing some of Michelle's ideas now and already seeing benefits. I can't say enough about this course!
I am working on another blog post now with tons of Affiliate Marketing Programs you can join. Look for it next week and I will update this post here when that blog post is published. Or just join my newsletter list for sweet updates and words of encouragement for your creative business journey.
Amazon is the absolute easiest one out there to join and promote products from. We all know that Amazon has everything! Haha!
Besides affiliate marketing, there are a few other ways to monetize your blog:
Advertise in your sidebar (you will need a good bit of traffic for this!)
Create a digital product to sell (ebook, course, etc.)
Write sponsored posts for different brands
Offer design, freelance or other services on your blog
Blogging takes a lot of work and the learning curve is steep. But anyone can do it! If you are willing to put in the hours, take it seriously and run it like a business you can make it profitable too!