Part of my last New Year’s resolution was to start a blog. Basically, I wanted my own little corner of a creativity on the internet and was intrigued by the whole “you can make money by blogging” story. Long story short, I hesitated and doubted myself all the way until late July. Yes! I spent 7 months procrastinating and telling myself that I wasn’t creative enough, rich enough or even just interesting enough of a person to have my own little blog.
Your life doesn’t have to be an expensive, Pin-worthy Insta-story for you to own a successful blog. Or even a profitable blog. You can make a growing blog based off of your own creativity!
Fast forward to December 2017, this full-time teacher was still able to create a growing profitable blog within a few months as a beginner! I didn’t even need to invest hundreds of dollars in tutorials, software or e-books. I literally just committed to a host, chose a name and created content.
Blogging has truly been a blessing as I try and plan/pay for my upcoming wedding 🙂
So, if you are looking for an outlet for your creativity, or even just a way to make a side income (nothing wrong with that!) start blogging! Like, now. I will even try to save you a couple steps along the way! Just read on 🙂
Here is my “How to Start a Profitable Blog in 2018”
This post may contain affiliate links and/or product links for your convenience. All opinions and advice are 100% my own. I only recommend products that I use, love and believe others will love.
Step 1. Decide on your Niche, Niches or stay Nicheless!
I stumbled over this step at first. (pun intended) I panicked over the idea of choosing one niche to commit to when I am interested in so many things! I found out for myself that you don’t have to choose ONE niche. In fact, you don’t even have to choose a niche for your blog at all.
I’ve discovered that my traffic is not based on people finding my blog because they belong in my “niche”, but mainly by a certain post intriguing them enough to click.
I receive most of my traffic from my songwriting posts, but my style/decor posts are a close second place! I especially enjoy making beginner blogger posts to help other newbie bloggers out there. All of these topics are not really related, but they coexist perfectly on my blog. I’m glad I didn’t just stick with one niche!
However, if you are confident in having one niche, then go for it!
Step 2. Choose a Platform & Host
Think of your blog’s platform as the software in which you will create your blog. There are hundreds out there! WordPress, Blogger, Weebly… Wix. The list goes on!
I use WordPress. I started off with the free wordpress.com platform, however I quickly switched to wordpress.org and paid for my host (bluehost). The free version of wordpress.com was great, except in order to monetize my blog (make money) I would have to upgrade and pay $$. It was much cheaper to use bluehost and stick with wordpress.org.
There are bundles of free platforms out there for beginners, but they won’t make it easy for you to monetize your content. Some will not enable you to earn profit at all. Basically, if you want to even earn a few dollars here and there, you will have to commit to a legitimate website host.
I began my blog knowing that I eventually wanted to earn a side profit but, I didn’t want to hand over hundreds of dollars on something that I wasn’t certain would work out. I needed affordable. There are tons of hosts out there, but I felt bluehost was my best option.
I chose bluehost. Here’s why:
- They are WordPress.org’s #1 recommended hosting company. WordPress powers over 25% of the world’s websites, so I feel like they may know a thing or two about hosting platforms!
- They are affordable! While other hosting companies will charge you for their services AND your domain name (guitarandlace.com), Blue Host offers lower monthly rates AND you get a free domain name.
- Bluehost is flexible! I was shocked to find out that other companies capped your website at a certain amount of views. Once you reached over that number of traffic views, your site would be locked and you would have to pay more money to upgrade. Not Bluehost! They give you unlimited views and will not lock your website.
- 24/7 Support! I have yet to use this feature, however I am comforted to know that they will be there to assist me if I needed it.
- Money Back Guarantee! This sealed the deal for me. I knew that I could try it and if I felt that I didn’t like what they had to offer, I could get my money back. Spoiler: I loved bluehost and am still using it.
Step 3. Sign up for your Host!
Since I use Blue Host, I will use their set up as my example. This is to show you how easy it is to sign up for a host.
Go to bluehost.com
Click on the Green button, “get started now”
I chose Basic, but I wish I went with plus for the extra features! Honestly, the price I paid for bluehost was made back in blogging profit within the first few months blogging.
Choose Your FREE Domain Name. If you are unsure of what to choose, they will let you decide later!
After Filling out your information, payment and billing address you will create your password and then you have your website! I use WordPress with bluehost, but there are other platforms as well.
Step 4. To Invest or Not to Invest.
I probably spent every spare moment researching “how to blog”. I listened to youtube videos on blogging, read how-to-blog posts and studied other beginner blogger’s growth. More than half of the content I stumbled on wanted my money. Bloggers were selling e-books on how to use Pinterest correctly, PDF files on how to grow your traffic to 250k in two weeks and basically everything I ever wanted as a beginner blogger all with an expensive price tag. I almost caved, but glad I didn’t.
The truth is, thousands of bloggers are out there wanting to make money off of their blog. It’s become the Millennial Dream to be a work-from-home blogger! They will sell just about anything in hopes that we will believe in it. Now, I am sure there are some honest bloggers with real deals out there, but it’s hard to tell behind a screen.
Good news though! My blog grew naturally without all of the tutorials and guides. I saved all of that money and earned my own affiliate income through ads and product advertising. I didn’t have to claim that I loved Tailwind to make everyone sign up, so I could earn commission. In fact, I didn’t love Tailwind at all. It was barely mediocre for me! I would not feel right talking someone into paying for it, so I could walk away with a couple dollars.
What I’m trying to say is: Be careful with your wallets out there!
Step 5. Monetize your Blog NOW
You don’t have to wait for your blog to grow in order to monetize for profit! I earned affiliate income within my first month as a blogger!
More info on how I did that:
There are so many affiliate and ad companies out there that will accept new bloggers. As long as your blog looks like it has potential, they will take you in!
Currently, I make the most profit from Amazon Affiliates, Google Adsense and SurveyJunkie Affiliates. All of these companies accepted me right away. If you are interested in more, I’ve written an entire post on Affiliate Markets that Accept New and Small Blogs.
The best thing for me is, I am earning commission off of products that people purchase because THEY want to. There is never a time that I am falsely claiming that a product is amazing and life-changing in hopes that I will earn commission. Every product or company that I affiliate with is either something that I use and love or something that is my style and I would love to have!
Lastly, don’t be afraid of ads! Just about any site you visit will have a few ads here and there. It is so common that I don’t even notice them now.
I do believe that how you use ads will affect your traffic. If your blog is slow or hard to browse through because there are ads in literally every corner, you may lose the interest of your potential followers. I once visited a fashion blogger’s site, because I wanted to see where she purchased her sweater from. 10 seconds later an ad popped up covering my entire phone screen. I couldn’t click the tiny x without clicking on the ad which took me to some other site with more popups. It was a mess! I even tried visiting again, thinking I just didn’t press the x to my best ability (haha). Nope! I went through that pop-up mess again!
I am sure she is earning a pretty penny on that one ad, but it makes browsing her website nearly impossible.
In a nutshell, monetize your blog with class.
Step 6. Create Appealing and Evergreen Content
As a full time teacher, I do not have the time to write 3 blog posts a week. I rely on good, evergreen content. This includes “How To’s”, “Monthly Reports” and “Style Ideas”. Actually, most content can be popular all year long! Writing a post about a weekend sale that is only happening this weekend probably won’t be a post that continues to earn traffic. However, once your blog is established with followers you may earn more affiliate commission since shoppers are always looking for the current deals! Until then, evergreen content is your best bet.
My most popular posts are my songwriting how-to posts. My songwriting page has over 16k shares on Pinterest! What?! Here I am thinking that my content was vanilla at it’s best… a few months later and my songwriting tips are being pinned all over the world! (happy music teacher!)
My second most popular posts are a tie between my decor/style posts and monthly reports. My monthly reports are where I talk about what success my blog has seen during the prior month. As a beginner blogger I constantly read these type of posts! I found them to be inspiring and helpful to my own blog’s growth.
Step 7. Advertise Your Content in all the Right Places
Pinterest, people! Pinterest is my main source of traffic by far! I will tell you that it is slow at first. Nothing magical happens all of a sudden on Pinterest. (I do believe in miracles though, haha!)
It is all about growing your profile, becoming a constant pinner (of your content and other content) and of course having eye-catching pins. The more you pin the quicker you will grow.
As for creating “Pins”, I currently use canva.com. They make pin creating a breeze! I find that the desktop version is way easier to use than their phone app, but it’s nice to have both!
Instagram is another story. I believe it is truly useful in the fashion and home decor niche. I’ve read of blogs that receive most of their traffic and sales via Instagram, however I have yet to have success. It’s my own fault, though! I need to post more frequently. Goals, people! Let me know if you have any breakthrough tips for Instagram!
Blogging is obviously an endeavor beyond a how-to post, however I feel these were the main steps that I took to get myself to where I am at now. It’s been 5 months of constantly growing and earning a profit from blogging, but I still feel like I have tons to learn from.
I feel like the best lesson learned was that blogging is more of a “slow cooker” instead of a “microwave”. Things definitely took time before I started noticing steady growth. Even then, I still had days where my growth seemed to decline. It’s really a learn as you go type of adventure!
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions that you may have! For some reason my comment section closes itself after 4 comments. (Probably because I am using a free theme hehe) So, feel free to contact me via my contact page 🙂