How to Start with a Blog?
Share this post for good karma 😊
So, you would like to know “How to Start with a Blog”, make money from it, and possibly even do it while you work at home. Well, there is good news for you. It is easier than ever to do just that and it won’t take you much time at all to get the ball rolling. The question you should be asking isn’t “How to start a blog.” The real question you should be asking yourself is, “How to start a profitable blog.”
Starting a blog today is as simple, easy, and fast as setting up a social media profile. Anyone can start a blog, either self-hosted or using a web host. There are blogging platforms that allow you to have your segregated section, complete with your profile and exclusive posts.
There are free content management systems that allow you to host a blog on their parent domain. You could also purchase a domain, register it, host it, and create a website essentially designed to be a blog. Assess the costs of the different options, consider your technical skills such as website design and choose a platform that suits you.
While starting a blog because you love to write is great, you can also make a pretty decent penny while doing it. You probably have millions of thoughts and ideas rolling around in your head about how to start a blog, what to write about, and countless other things. DO yourself a favor and try to relax, because it is a lot simpler than you think if you want to start a blog and make money from it. Here are some quick tools and tips to get you on the fast track to blogging money.
How To Start A Blog?
I will show you how to start your own blog in just three easy steps, a blog with your own domain name and hosted on a server of your choice.
1. Choosing a Niche
There are bloggers who want to write on everything, almost. There are bloggers who focus on a niche. Both can work and both can fail. It depends on the expertise of the blogger. Not the writing expertise but knowledge. Not every blogger can develop a sound understanding of every subject that can be written about. If you are alone or have a very small team, then it is best to focus on a niche. Trying to write about too many things will not only be bafflingly challenging but it will also confuse your potential audience. Readers like specificity. You too would be perplexed as to whom you wish to target. If you check out the popular blogs or even the video bloggers who have amassed millions with their channels on YouTube, all of them are focusing on a niche that is well sorted.
You could write on anything, from fashion to technology, geology to politics, economics to history, consumer electronics to real estate, family or kids to relationships, dating or health, sports or current affairs to news, events, photography or on travel like me and anything that interests you.
Bloggers who have an astute understanding of what they are writing or the larger domain will always do well. Blogging is not just writing. It is a fine combination of writing acumen, knowledge, specialization, awareness of the latest updates, and an understanding of what people or readers are looking for.
Choose a niche that you are comfortable with and equally important is the readership. Do not pick a niche that no one is interested in. You can write a blog on such a niche to satiate your own desire but such a blog will be hard to monetize. You can only monetize a blog for profit that will have substantial traffic. Microbiology or nuclear science, applied mechanics, or even the history of textiles would not be appealing niches, even though some interesting posts can potentially get thousands or hundreds of thousands of hits. A niche must be perennially popular for the blog to be monetized for profit. You need sustainable revenue and not an onetime windfall gain, although the latter too is welcome with the sustainable profits.
2. Setting up the Blog
You can design a website from scratch, which should be easy if you are a programmer. If you have no expertise in coding or website design, then you should consider a content management system like WordPress. WordPress is free and it is the most popular blogging platform today. The open-source software which is used by more than a hundred million people can be hosted for free using the WordPress platform or you can host it on your own. You can opt for shared hosting or dedicated hosting.
You may have your own server and configure it to host a site if you know the technicalities. The best strategy is to go for a WordPress site and shared hosting. You can move to dedicated hosting in the future when you make more money as it is substantially more expensive than shared hosting.
Getting started with WordPress is pretty simple. You can download WordPress directly from the official site and start building your blog using the simple guidelines. Or, you can choose a web host and a shared hosting plan that supports WordPress. The control panel of the hosting account will get you WordPress. Thereon you can build your blog from within the website builder offered by the web host. Even as you pay for the shared hosting plan, WordPress would still be free. If you don’t wish to pay for hosting, opt for WordPress directly, and use its free hosting platform. This will have its limitations in terms of bandwidth, storage, and site features but you can keep your initial investment contained.
The following steps will illustrate how you would start a WordPress blog using a web host.
i) Choose a web host and a shared hosting plan. Go to the website of the web host and sign up for the plan. Provide all the details you are asked for, get a domain name if you don’t have one already, and make the payment to get access to your exclusive control panel. Most web hosts will offer a free domain with a shared hosting plan.
ii) Set up your account, choose the password, the features you want, and check into the Site Builder section. You will get the WordPress icon. There will be many options in the Script List such as Backups, Utilities, and Blogs. You would find WordPress in the Blogs section. Click it, get redirected it to the installation page, and install it.
ii)Use your domain name and set up your WordPress site, the blog which will be blank at this stage. You would have to work on the layout, design, features including plug-ins and everything from font to the unique elements of your blog. Don’t worry as there are drag and drop options from WordPress and from most web hosts that you can use to create your blog. You don’t need to write a single line of code.
3. Path to Monetization
You could use your blog for paid blogging. There are companies and individuals that want their products, services or entities to be promoted. These would normally pay a price for every blog post. You could take this route or you can write about what really interests you and think of monetizing the blog using advertisements. You can consider affiliate marketing, which is essentially blogging to promote and endorse certain products or services. When the audience you are targeting or your readers check out the post and click on links redirecting them to the official pages of those products or services, you would get paid. There are programs paying you for every user that clicks on the links and gets redirected. Other programs pay you a handsome commission should the users sign up for the service or purchase the product after being redirected from your blog.
Below are the few options for monetizing your blog.
The most widely used method of monetization of blogs is advertising. There are many types of advertisements you can resort to. First, there is Google Adsense which would put relevant advertisements on every webpage or post on your blog. You sign up for the Google Adsense and once you’re approved then you will be able to sprinkle different kinds of ads in allotted spaces on every webpage.
Such advertisements pay revenue in different ways. Pay per click advertisements will get you paid only when the readers on your blog actually click on the links put up in the ads. Pay per view or impression ads will generate revenue based on how many people are on the given webpage coming across the advertisement. Some ads require visitors on a blog to hover over the advertised link or content for the impression. Usually, pay per view ads has fixed revenue for a certain count of thousand or several thousand.
Then there are sponsored ads, banner ads, footer ads, and larger sponsorships. You could have sponsored ads on top or bottom of your webpage, banner or footer ads, ads within the content you are posting, on the sides or you can have a specific webpage dedicated to only one advertiser or just one brand that will have its offers dominating the layout of the webpage.
These can be facilitated by Google or you can have your direct association with advertising networks. You may also get brands to directly advertise on your blog but for that, you would need a substantial readership to entice them.
Advertising is a steady and rewarding source of revenue for blogs provided there is a large readership. Blogs that are not read by too many people will generate almost no or insignificant revenue with ads. This is why other methods of monetization become not just important but essential.
ii) Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is an effective way to monetize a blog. It is simple and can be used by any blogger. You need to sign up with an affiliate marketing network, also referred to as an affiliate network, and start promoting the products or services directly or indirectly. Affiliate marketing is quite simple.
You come up with a blog post wherein a product or service, in most cases, multiple products and services will be advertised or showcased. These products or services could be just mentioned in fleeting references within a post or the blog post can be about those products and services. If the reader clicks on the link of the product or service and purchases or signs up then you get a commission.
Affiliate marketing has become a rewarding source of revenue for bloggers, principally because one doesn’t need a very large readership to earn revenue. Even if one of your blog posts get fifty views and two people end up buying a product or signing up for a service, you can get a handsome commission. Such commissions could be exponentially greater than what you would earn with pay per view or pay per click advertisements. However, people have to buy or sign up for the products or services respectively for you to earn anything.
Affiliate marketing is often upfront wherein the blogger makes it amply clear that the posts are about products and services. These posts are mostly reviews or accounts of personal experiences. They are informative but do have some degree of promotional intent in the manner the content is created. The purpose is to offer information and to influence the buyers to purchase the product or sign up for the service being promoted. You could also do this in a subtle way, without making it obvious that you are an affiliate blogger.
iii) Paid Content
You could monetize your blog with paid content. You can get paid to write specific types of posts. These could be informative, reviews, assessments of specific products and services, comparison posts, analyses of companies or brands, endorsement articles, or just outright informational posts to help increase the outreach of a company. Paid content is very common and even some of the most read blogs have various posts that companies sponsor directly.
However, a blog cannot survive entirely on paid content. Then it becomes a glorified billboard. Paid content would inevitably be promotional, subtly, or overtly. There should be more organic content than paid content. No reader wants to read a blog that is only self-serving and paid content is more in the interest of the company and the blogger than the reader. There are exceptions in cases of products or services that can truly help people in their day-to-day lives. Other scenarios are outright consumerism.
iv) Direct Sales
This may not sound like a very plausible strategy to monetize a blog for profit but it is absolutely plausible. Affiliate marketing paid content and ads are essentially promotions. They are all about commerce. Facilitating direct sales is more straightforward and honorable than indirect measures. There are blogs that host direct sales. Incorporating e-commerce features in a blog is no big deal these days.
People who explore information and trust the bloggers they follow ardently don’t mind shopping for products they need directly from the blog. This has become very popular in the fashion, beauty, and healthcare sectors. This is becoming a trend in electronics, accessories, and peripherals. Depending on the niche you are targeting, you can easily set up an online store and sell selected products or services. Do not vie for a marketplace as you would have to cater to your niche. Be selective and have only the best products or services. Have an e-commerce strategy to go along with your everyday blogging.
v) Blast Marketing
You can offer such blast marketing services to a plethora of companies cutting across industries. Chances are your database will be in demand for businesses operating in the industry which is also the niche your blog is scattering to but a database can always be used for marketing products or services in multiple categories or niches.
Multipronged Monetization (Bonus Tip)
You have to start somewhere and with something. You need to pick one path to monetization and perfect it. If it works, then you should improve it and then consider another option. If it doesn’t work, then have it in place and then expand your scope of monetization. You can never be sure which monetization attempt will work wonders for you. It is also true that each of these methods has its strengths and weaknesses so they all must coexist. It could be affiliate marketing one month earning your revenues that you need to stay profitable for six months. It could be sponsored or pay per click ads in another month that will earn a mini fortune for you.
The simple reality is that a blog must have a multipronged monetization strategy. You should be open and prepared to generate revenue from any and every possible source. An assured revenue or multiple sources of revenue is the only way to survive, to ensure a blog is profitable, and to remain focused on what matters more than everything else, the readers.
The readers want helpful information, content that will positively change their lives or assist in their decisions. To achieve this, you ought to stay committed to research and ever-expanding knowledgebase, you must be dedicated to creating quality blog posts and you must continue working on expanding your readership. These will be daunting challenges if you cannot come up with a multipronged monetization strategy that works and will work in the future.
3. Targeting Readership/Subscribers
Every blogger can get their friends and family to become the first subscribers. Sharing a few posts will get some lost social contacts to start following the blog but not everyone may be reading all your posts. No one can use their personal contacts and social connections to get the thousands of readers that one needs to actually monetize a blog for profit. You need to target a thousand subscribers or readers, then two thousand, and then five thousand till you can grow enough to become a formidable blogger.
Let me first address how you should facilitate the signing up or following of new subscribers and readers.
i) There should be social media plug-ins to facilitate immediate following, liking, and sharing. There should be opt-in sections where readers can provide their email address and sign up for the blog updates, newsletters or emails, and other types of communications. Aside from the RSS feed and other obvious plug-ins you should have a simple popup asking if the reader or visitor will want to get notifications from the blog. This may happen on a traditional browser, mobile browser, or via social network, media, and apps. The notification has become an alternative to the conventional following.
ii) Don’t ask for more details that you need. Social media plugins immediately connect visitors to the blog using their existing credentials. Use email authentication or social media authentication instead of asking for an email address, first name and last name, city, and other unnecessary details. Your blog is not building a database of readers. You simply need a following to get a substantial readership.
iii) Always have a call to action on every webpage. Many bloggers opt for standard calls to action, suggesting they share the post or like, comment, or check out more posts. While these are acceptable, you should think of unique calls to action. Host polls, get people to agree or disagree, encourage readers to write counterpoints so you can take the discussion further. Every blog post can become an asset provided it has enough stuff to trigger a conversation and subsequent engagement with a larger audience. A blog post that doesn’t generate any attraction is a waste of space and effort, to be honest.
iv) Incentivize your followers to entice more. Offer something to your new readers so they would be inclined to follow you or become subscribers. Give something precious, which could be rare tips or some insider knowledge, to your existing readers so they continue to follow you and read what you post. Today, not many people are interested in following for the sake of following unless they get rewarded in some way.
You will use your social media profiles and presence on multiple social networks to get more readers or subscribers. That would still limit your outreach unless you take a few quintessential steps. These are to be factored in at the time of starting a blog because otherwise, you would need to rethink everything, right from your blog layout to the kind of content you are penning down.
Here are some of the most important factors that will affect your readership.
1. Your blog must stand out. You need an impressive design. You will need to have all the imperative features, from social media integration to relevant plug-ins. At the crux of the design should be a theme, one that impresses your target audience. Be unique in as many ways as possible but not quaintly that would be off-putting for some. Check out blogs like the one you are trying to create and find out what’s working for them and what’s not.
2. Nothing is more important than content. If you have the most compelling content in your niche then it wouldn’t matter how popular you are or how exquisite your blog layout is. People will read the piece. But you cannot have such priceless and unmatched content all the time. This is why you need to focus on the quality of content throughout the year. Remember the reason why you are blogging and why someone should read your blog. This alone should lead you to the type of content you should be working on. Do not just replicate what is already out there. If thousands of people have already read a blog that has discussed what you are about to write then chances are you wouldn’t get even one from that readership checking out your blog. Focus on originality. Use your own voice. The personality of a blogger is the best weapon to make any content unique.
3. After content and design comes marketing. No blogger can survive today by solely being a writer, photographer, videographer or cinematographer, painter, graphic designer, chef or cook, fashion enthusiast, gadget lover, or even as a satirist. One must market the blog and oneself. The blog and the blogger are inseparable. They are a single entity unless there are other bloggers on the same site. Use search engine optimization, target keywords, and have a specific target audience. The target audience could be people of a certain age, gender, socioeconomic background, and of a certain kind of intellect or a myriad of interests. The target audience could be confined to a city, district, suburb, or neighborhood.
4. You need multichannel and cross-platform marketing strategies. Use other and more popular blogs to publish guest posts. Make your blog’s presence felt on all popular social networks and social media to intertwine the activities to generate interest on all platforms simultaneously. Get listed on every relevant directory of blogs. Use email marketing if relevant, host live events, a podcast is applicable for the kind of blog you are planning, and produce videos to highlight inspiring content.
Congratulations! Your blog is ready now.