How to Start a Blog and Make Money – 2018

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

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Click on the Green button, “get started now”

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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.

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Choose Your FREE Domain Name. If you are unsure of what to choose, they will let you decide later!

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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:

My First Month Blogging – What Worked & Didn’t Work

Second Month Blogging + Income Report

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.

How to Use Pinterest Analytics to Boost Your Blog Traffic.

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!

Closing Thoughts

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 🙂 

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Cyber Week Deals 2017

Black Friday, you’re cool and all, but Cyber Monday truly has my heart.

..and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be up waaay before the crack of dawn, cappuccino in hand (thanks to my Ninja Coffee Bar), shopping until it’s time for me to go to work. Let’s be real, I’ll be cyber-Mondaying all day at work too… sorry, kids… teach yo-selves today! Jk…

Last year, I got an amazing deal on a PS4 for my fiancé. It was originally around $399, but I paid under $200 for it thanks to Amazon’s Cyber Monday Deal. I still brag about that savings success today…

Seriously, Cyber Monday will save you a ton! That, and you can shop in your jammies 🙂

While researching this year’s Cyber Week sales, I put together a list of stores that will be participating. Hopefully, this makes your lives a little easier!

This post contains affiliate product links.

Happy Shopping!

Sidenote: my Ninja Coffee Bar is now $30 cheaper than what my fiancé paid for it! Seriously, the greatest gift ever!     

Black Friday – Cyber Week Deals!

AMAZON – Daily savings on tons of items. Amazing deals, as always! Shop Now

My Picks: 

ANTHROPOLOGIE – 30% off sitewide. Shop Now

My Picks: 

ASHLEY FURNITURE – up to 60% off select items. Extra 10% off with code TURKEY10. 0% interest fo 12 months. Shop Now

ASOS– 30% off everything with code EPIC30Shop Now

My Picks: 

BENEFIT COSMETICS – 25% off sitewide when you spend $50 with code BENEBINGEShop Now

My Picks: 

BLOOMINGDALES – take 25% off a large selection of items at Bloomingdales.com. Free shipping! Shop Now

My Picks: 


DISNEY – Up to 60% off select items with code AMAZINGShop Now

My Picks: 

DRAPER JAMES –  25% off sitewide with code MERRYShop Now

My Picks: 

EXPRESS – 50% off everything. Free shipping! Shop Now

My Picks: 

FRANCESCA’S – BOGO 60% off Shop Now

My Picks: 

GUESS – 40-50% off site wide. Free shipping! Extra 10% off at checkout! Shop Now

GUESS FACTORY – 40-50% off site wide. Free shipping! Extra 15% off $150+ Shop Now

H&M – 20% off everything. Free shipping! Shop Now

My Picks: 

JARED – Huge savings! Free 2nd day shipping. Special deals on Pandora and Le Vian. Shop Now

J.CREW – 40% off everything. Free shipping! Shop Now

My Picks: 

J.CREW FACTORY – 50-60% off everything. Extra 50% off clearance! Shop Now

My Picks: 

JC PENNEY – Large selection of discounted items! 35% off purchases of $100+ with code SHOPNOW8 Shop Now

My Picks: 

JIMMY CHOO – Winter Sale. 30% off select items. Shop Now

My Picks: 

KAY JEWELERS – 25% off everything. Free 2nd day shipping! HUGE Cyber Monday deals. Shop Now

KOHLS – Extra 15% off everything. Large selection of discounted items! Kohls Cash earnings! Shop Now

My Picks: 

LOFT – 50% off site wide with code FRIYAY Shop Now

My Picks: 

LIVING SOCIAL – 20% off sitewide with code SHOP20 Shop Now

LUXY HAIR EXTENSIONS – $10 off $100, $15 off $150, $20 off $200 and $30 of $300. Free shipping! Shop Now

MACY’S – 20% off with code CYBER Shop Now

My Picks: 

NIKE – 25% off sale styles with code EPIC25 Shop Now

My Picks: 

NORDSTROM – Large selection of discounted items! extra 20% off purchase. earn 3X the points between 11/24-12/24. Shop Now

My Picks: 

NORDSTROM RACK – extra 30% off on Clearance. Free shipping sitewide. Shop Now

My Picks: 

OAKLEY – up to 50% off select items online. Shop Now

OLD NAVY – 50% off entire Purchase. Shop Now

RAY BAN –  20% off site wide with deals up to 50% off select items online. Shop Now

REBECCA MINKOFF –  25% off orders over $100, plus free gift with orders over $175 with the code BLACK25 Shop Now

My Picks: 

SAM EDELMAN – 30% off sitewide. Shop Now

My Picks: 

SEPHORA – Cyber week steals at Sephora.com! Shop Now

My Picks: 

SHOPBOP – Up to 75% off sale items. 30% off full-priced items. Extra 20% off $200, 25% off $500 & 30% off $800 with code MORE17. Shop Now

My Picks: 

SWAROVSKI – 25% off select items. Shop Now

My Picks: 

TARGET – Cyber Monday Steals at Target.com! Shop Now

My Picks: 

THE BODY SHOP – 40% off everything! More Cyber Monday steals at thebodyshop.comShop Now

ULTA – Daily discounted items! Shop Now

My Picks: 

URBAN OUTFITTERS – Buy one get one 50% off everything! Shop Now

My Picks: 

VICTORIA’S SECRET – Select discounted items. Free gift with purchase. Shop Now

My Picks: 

WALMART – Cyber Monday Steals at Walmart.com! Shop Now

ZALES – Up to 50% off select items. Free shipping! Shop Now