starting a blog

A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Blog as a Side Hustle

Blogging can be a profitable side business. Startup costs are low and the nature of the business is flexible. You can monetize your blog through affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, display ads, and selling digital and physical products. Some bloggers become so successful that they turn blogging into a full-time business.

Have you heard of Pat Flynn, Chiara Ferrangi, Abby Lawson, and Darren Rowse? These highly paid bloggers earn upward of $4.8 million per year from their blogs.

Granted, you may not be able to earn that kind of money right off the bat. But it’s proof that blogging can be a sustainable side business to supplement your income. On average, bloggers can expect to earn $500-$2,000 per month in their first year of blogging.


Most Popular: How to Create a Successful Lifestyle Brand

Anyone can build a successful blog with hard work, patience, and the right strategy — even beginners.

Let’s begin with a basic understanding of what a blog is.

What is a blog?

Source: Mantran

A blog (short for weblog) is an online journal or educational website that displays content in reverse chronological order i.e. recently published posts appear first. A writer or group of writers may contribute to a blog.

There are many different types of blogs: personal, business, niche, media, and reverse blogs.

The main purpose of a blog is to connect the blogger with their target audience. Blogs are also used to boost organic traffic and drive qualified leads to your website.

A blog showcases your authority and helps you build a brand.

If you’re wondering where to start with creating a blog that you can subsequently monetize, you’ve come to the right place.

How to start a blog and make money from it

We’ll take you through the steps to start a blog, grow your audience, and ultimately make money from it. We’ll also share details about some free online tools you can use to get started.

  1. Pick a profitable niche and name for your blog

Source: Adam Enfroy

Choosing a niche enables you to grow your business by finding a target audience. You start being considered an expert in the space by your audience and by search engines. And you face less competition by focusing on a single niche than if you were writing for several niches.

Some of the most profitable niches are personal finance, education, food, business and marketing, travel, parenting, DIY blogs, and health and wellness blogs.

Next, you need to choose the right name for your blog. The name depends on many factors – your niche, target audience, tone of the blog, and your end goal. It should also be easy to pronounce and spell and sound good in domain name format.

business name generator tool can help you come up with ideas for the perfect blog name.

  1. Get web hosting and register a domain name

If you intend to make money from your blog in the future, you have to think like an entrepreneur now. A web hosting service keeps your data secure and your blog operational.

The choice of hosting plan should include considerations like fast site loading speed, good security, prompt customer support, and affordable prices.

Choose a free web hosting plan from services Wix, Hostinger, or InfinityFree to get started. However, keep in mind that you’re likely to face issues like restrictions on storage and bandwidth that will limit your blog’s growth.

It may be worth investing in an affordable hosting plan like Bluehost, Hostgator, A2 Hosting, or Siteground.

After choosing a web hosting plan, you have to register your domain name. Free domain registration is often included in web hosting services like Bluehost, InMotion, GoDaddy, and DreamHost.

  1. Customize your blog

Source: ConvertKit

Among the top blogging platforms on the market, beginners can choose between Wix, Weebly, WordPress, or Joomla. What’s great is that all of these platforms are free!

When you’re ready to scale up, you can upgrade to a paid plan for greater customization options.

Wix and Weebly offer a drag-and-drop editor with plenty of free templates to help you design the look and feel of your blog. Joomla provides lots of extensions to add extra features to your blog and is especially good for a complex site.

For advanced features like ecommerce integration and Google Analytics, you’ll have to buy a plan.

  1. Scale your blog content

Now that you have chosen a home for your blog, it’s time to plan, create, and publish high-quality content.

Create a content strategy before you begin to write to help your blog attract organic traffic and to maintain a consistent publishing schedule.

The type of posts you write will depend on the purpose of your blog and your target audience.

Here are a few tips to research blog topics:

  • Conduct keyword research

Focus on keywords i.e. the words or phrases you want your blog to be known for and that your target audience actually uses. This will help you show up higher on search engine rankings.

Use Google autocomplete, People Also Ask, and Related Searches to find out what people are looking for online concerning your main keywords.

Use free keyword research tools like Answer The Public, Keyword Surfer, QuestionDB, Ubersuggest, or Google’s Keyword Planner to find keywords with high search volumes.

  • Create topic clusters

Source: CoSchedule

Topic clusters focus on topics to make it easier for search engines to find related content and boost search visibility. Create a pillar page that covers a general topic and targets a high-volume keyword. Then create cluster pieces that target specific long-tail keywords.

Choose your pillar topics (5-10) considering the core focus of your blog.

For example, if your pillar page is about productivity software, the cluster pieces could be: Which is the best free productivity app for Android users?

You could place an internal link from this cluster page to the pillar page on the anchor text “productivity app”.

  • Research your competition

Using Google, find out who is already ranking for the keywords you’re targeting. Study how your competition has approached the topic and identify gaps that you can fill using your own content.

  • Craft a winning headline

Write click-worthy headlines to persuade people to read your posts. You can use free headline generator tools like HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator and The Hoth’s Blog Topic Headline Title Generator.

After completing your research, develop an outline for your blog post to ensure you cover all the important points. Draft the post, proofread, and publish it.

Post consistently to attract organic traffic and signal to Google that you are an active blog.

Create an editorial calendar to plan when and how often you will publish content.

  1. Promote your blog

Source: Backlinko

Your work does not end after hitting the publish button. You must work toward maximizing blog traffic. The more people visit your blog, the better your income will be.

A few ways in which you can raise awareness about your blog are:

  • Focus on SEO.

The keyword research that you performed while researching blog topics will help your blog be more visible on search engines.

Write in-depth posts that answer common user queries and use strategic long-tail keywords. This will help your post rank higher in organic search results. Consequently, more people are likely to visit your blog.

Take a look at the top SEO trends for 2022 and know how you can optimize your blog for search engines.

  • Start a newsletter.

Use email marketing to get your visitors to keep coming back. Send a regular newsletter to promote your content and build a closer relationship with your subscribers.

You can get people to subscribe to your newsletter in the following ways:

  • Create opt-in forms as pop-ups asking visitors to sign up for your newsletter.
  • Create lead magnets or free assets that incentivize people to sign up for the newsletter. Lead magnets are valuable assets like e-books, guides, online courses, or discount codes that your target audience will appreciate.
  • Create a social media strategy.

If you’re not using social media to promote your content, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of readership. Create social media accounts for your blog on major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Repurpose your blog content to suit the preferred formats of these platforms like videos for YouTube and infographics for Instagram. Link back to your blog to drive traffic from these platforms.

  1. Build a reputation.

Expand your online presence and establish yourself as an authority in your space to get more visitors to your blog.

You can guest post on reputable sites like Entrepreneur, Inc.com, and Fast Company. Or you can follow prominent bloggers in your field to see where they’re getting guest posts published.

Guest blogging allows you to gain backlinks to your blog. This improves your SEO and makes your blog more visible in search results.

  1. Monetize your blog.

Once you have a significant following and an established content strategy, it is time to start making money from your blog.

There are many avenues to make money:

  • Sell advertising space.

Use Google AdSense to generate income by placing targeted ads within your blog. You get paid when the ads are viewed or clicked. Thus, you can turn your blog traffic into money.

You can choose the size, shape, and placement of the ads to maintain a good browsing experience for your visitors. Choose ad colors that match your blog’s color palette for a consistent visual experience.

Use free tools like Creatopy and Venngage to customize the design of your ads.

  • Use affiliate marketing.

Source: Hit Publish

An affiliate program enables you to earn money through commissions by promoting products or services of others. You add affiliate links to products or services in your posts, within your blog, or on your social media accounts. When visitors click on the links and buy through them, you get a commission from the sale.

Remember that you must disclose that you have placed affiliate links in your blog.

Popular affiliate programs are Amazon Associates, Awin, CJ Affiliate, and ShareASale.

  • Sell digital products.

Bloggers with expertise in their field sell digital products like e-books, online courses, video guides, or webinars to boost their income from their blog.

Creating digital products has low overhead costs and zero shipping costs, so you can price them lower than physical products.

  • Offer paid subscriptions or memberships.

You can offer paid memberships to your blog for perks such as a private community to exchange ideas, access to webinars, free consultations, or unlimited downloads of your infoproducts.

You can also offer in-depth content with unique insights to paid subscribers. To coax readers into subscribing, you can offer a preview of the content and ask them to buy a subscription to read the entire piece.

  • Write sponsored content.

After you have an established online presence, companies may approach you for brand collaborations where you write a paid post that promotes their products or services. You may also be offered free products as extra perks.

Choose your sponsors carefully to ensure that your credibility is intact. Thoroughly vet the products and services you’re recommending to your audience.

You can also contact brands you’d like to work with to enquire about collaboration opportunities.

Summing up

Most commonly, blogs fail because bloggers give up too soon. Blogs may take months or even years to become popular.

Blogging is a long-term investment that pays rich dividends if you consistently publish high-quality content. Promote it relentlessly through email marketing and social media marketing.

Patience, dedication to good content, a smart strategy, and the use of monetization tools will ensure that you generate a decent income from your blog.

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