How To Start A Blog

If you are learning how to start a blog, you are in the right place. Here, you'll learn how to start a blog, how to grow the blog, and how to build a tribe that follows your blog and supports your brand and business.
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Lori Ballen is a member of the Amazon Associates Program and earns money from qualifying purchases. Posts contain affiliate links that benefit Lori as well.

If you are learning how to start a blog, you are in the right place. Here, you’ll learn how to start a blog, how to grow the blog, and how to build a tribe that follows your blog and supports your brand and business. We will cover blogging platforms, SEO, how to generate traffic, and so much more.

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If you are learning how to start a blog, you are in the right place. Here, you'll learn how to start a blog, how to grow the blog, and how to build a tribe that follows your blog and supports your brand and business. We will cover platforms, SEO, promotion and so much more.

Be sure to grab your FREE EBOOK here as well.

Successful Blogging

Blogging has been a huge part of my business for decades. In the beginning, it was all to rank on the search engines in an effort to sell services.

Over time, it turned into courses, coaching, affiliate income, and then ads.

Last year, I made $134,000 promoting 43 products throughout my blogs and webinars. This year, I closed off all other distractions and made content marketing my 1 thing.

While you won’t learn it all in one article, I’m sharing everything I’ve learned here on this website and on my Youtube Channel. No results are typical nor is there any estimated amount you can earn as a blogger.

The world is your oyster if you are willing to do the work!

Below, you’ll find the steps to getting started.

You can also find Affiliate programs on another website I own called The7thStream.com.

Step by Step

Here, you’ll find the steps for each part of the process in setting up your blog. There are many places in which to start blogging, and you might enjoy a more “show me” approach.

Enjoy!

Need Help? Call my brothers Jeff and Paul Helvin at Ballen Brands 702-917-0755.


Niche Blog Ideas

I used some amazing SEO tools like my favorite keyword research tool: SEMrush to list some great niche blog ideas. Before you dive into any of these, you’ll want to carefully consider how much passion you have for the topic.

I know, because I’ve started many blogs that I never put much time into. I kept coming back to the ones I was passionate about.

Now, if you are picking a blog niche to make money, and you don’t care about the topic specifically, you’ll need a plan in action where you hire blog writers to write the articles for you. These are called ghostwriters.

You’ll also need to have your blog posts optimized with some on-page SEO as well as graphics for social media such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

You could hire someone from Fiverr to do your graphics, someone from Crowd Content or Hire Write to write your blogs, and you could do the on-page SEO.

In any case, you will need really great, in-depth articles written around that blog niche.

If you choose a niche that is too popular, and heavily saturated such as fashion, beauty, weight loss, finance, etc. you are going to have a major uphill battle.

Yet, if you can be clever about it, and find the “niche within the niche”, you could have a winner.

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How to Install WordPress

You can Install WordPress through a variety of managed WordPress hosting websites such as WP Engine. Here, you’ll find step by step instructions to set up and install WordPress in 5 simple steps.

Click here to download The Genesis Guide for Absolute Beginners (PDF – 1.4 MB)

Click on Sites and find your site listed. When you first start, you’ll only see one link there. You might notice the word PROD in front of your website. Click that link.

If you are not migrating your website from another host, dismiss that message. Next, register the domain name you want for your website.

This is the address people will type into the browser to find your website or the address you will promote. These were once all .com addresses and now we see many other extensions such as .ly, .gov, .net and so forth.


Register your BLOG Domain Name

GoDaddy is a popular choice for domain names.

Here, you will register your domain name and set up the DNS servers for your host. It sounds complicated, but as long as you follow step by step instructions, it’s not for you to figure out.

Do not add on the hosting when you register the domain.

You don’t need the SSL certificate either. You’ll get that with wp engine.

Once you have registered your domain, click on ENTER DOMAIN on your wp engine Site and you’ll be provided with instructions to change your CNAME record to point your domain to WPENGINE.

Here is a Video Tutorial on changing the DNS servers in GoDaddy to correctly set up your domain with WP Engine.

You can also access these helpful files:
Add domain to the User Portal
Update WordPress URL Settings
Setup DNS


Web Hosting

In this section, we will use wp engine to set up Web Hosting.

wp engine managed WordPress Hosting plus Genesis Framework and Studiopress Themes. You need a web host that will provide the server that your website goes live with.

Your server is what gets your website on the web and keeps it live.

Your web host that has this server is responsible for making sure your website is live when your visitors want to access it.

Overloaded servers can cause your website to crash or have poor “up-time”. Who you choose here matters. Your WordPress Website will have a “theme” that creates the design and functionality of your website.

Many people who build on WordPress choose Genesis Framework with Studiopress themes for design. wp engine offers a one-stop-shop and you can change your theme when you get bored or want to see different designs. [http://bit.ly/wpenginestudio].

On the start-up page, you’ll see a list of wp engine hosting plans.

You can pay monthly or save by buying an annual plan. If you are just beginning and have only one website, the start-up plan might be a good way to go.

It includes up to 25,000 visitors, 10 GB of Local Storage (your website is a database) and 50 GB of Bandwith. This is a great start-up website and you could stay on this plan for quite a while, some could stay here forever.

That being said, we hope the WordPress website beyond that.

If you know you are building more than one website quickly, it’s a good idea to choose the growth plan or above. You’ll save more that way. In addition, the growth plan offers 24/7 phone support and Imported SSL certificates.

As you grow, you have add-on options such as WordPress Multisite, GeoTarget, Global Edge Security, additional Sites, Smart Plugin Manager.

Once you choose your plan, you’ll be prompted for add-ons and billing. Don’t panic. If you don’t know what something is, skip it for now.

To start, you will have everything you need (even if you don’t know what they mean) including Genesis Framework, 35+ Studiopress Themes, 24/7 chat support, Dev/Stage/Prod Environments, Transferable Sites, PHP 7.3 ready, LargeFS, Global CDN, Page Performance, Automated SSL certificates, SSH Gateway.

Add Your Billing info and Create your Site.

Your home page will show you how much bandwidth and storage you are using.

Set up the ssl certificate

Your wp engine hosting plan includes your SSL Certificate. SSL/TLS certificates allow visitors on your website to connect via HTTPS. This is a secure protocol for passing information on the web. You have to set up the SSL certificate.

An SSL certificate will include secure encryption on your website so that all information your users submit will be encrypted.

Video Tutorial [https://youtu.be/ZDcp0PHlwL8 ]

From sites, click your website and then SSL. Choose ADD CERTIFICATES and follow the prompts. Once your SSL certificate is properly installed, you’ll receive an email. It’s usually available within a few minutes but can take up to 24-hours. It renews annually.

Install your wordpress theme

Your theme creates your design, fonts, colors, side columns, footers, headers and so forth. With your wp engine Website, you have access to a large library of Studiopress themes which include the genesis framework.

It’s important to note that themes require set up to look like the sample. Each Studiopress theme includes step by step set up instructions. Follow them and you’ll get the job done.

WordPress Themes

Click here to view more WordPress Themes.

Click APPEARANCE, then THEMES, then ADD NEW. Choose your theme and click INSTALL. Next, activate your theme and customize it.

Shown below is the NICHE PRO theme from Studiopress

Niche Pro is a Studiopress theme for WordPress and shows is soft pinks, peach and White with fashion blocks

How to Add Clicky

1. Go to clicky and click Add a Site.
2. Add your URL
3. Copy the tracking code
4. Enter the code in a header or footer script area. This is found in Appearance -> Customize -> Theme Settings -> Header Footer Script. You can also add a plugin for the header and footer scripts.

FAQS

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Add clicky Analytics to my blog? Are there install instructions for the embed code?
1. Go to clicky and click Add a Site.
2. Add your URL
3. Copy the tracking code
4. Enter the code in a header or footer script area. This is found in Appearance -> Customize -> Theme Settings -> Header Footer Script. You can also add a plugin for the header and footer scripts.

What Blog Niches Make Money?

There are particular niches and types of blogs that make money easier than others. Imagine earning money writing about topics that you are passionate about. 

You share your unique interests and knowledge with the world, and you get paid. Sometimes, you even get paid while you sleep because you learned how to monetize your blog.

Sounds like a dream come true right? Well, for many bloggers, it has moved from being a dream to an actual reality. 

Below we cover different kinds of blogs and how people make money blogging. 

How Much Money Successful Blogs Can Make

 

Let’s start here because it is the fun, juicy part. How much money are people making from their blogs? Well, it varies significantly because your ability to earn is uncapped. 

Square has an Affiliate Program that allows participating websites to make a commission on activations and select sales referred to Square using their assigned affiliate links. Square provides these links, banners, and marketing assets to use on your blog or website.

 

Be prepared for your eyeballs to pop out if you are new to the blogging world. If you look at the highest earning bloggers – the estimated revenue is in the millions per year, even tens of millions!

For example, Copyblogger is estimated to reach over $33 million annually. 

That is some of the very top and pretty massive operations. Not every blogger is raking in millions of dollars every year. It is shared to show just how lucrative something as seemingly simple as blogging has become.

The average blogger might earn $1,000 to $10,000 or more in their first year. If they have been a bit sloppy or inconsistent, they might even make nothing – $0. 

As time goes on, maybe that doubles, triples, or quadruples. Of course, it is widely variable – like any business.

Successful bloggers may keep their blog as a side hustle and additional income to their day jobs. Others earn enough to make it a full-time thing.  Some bloggers are part of the gig workers’ economy as well earning freedom on how they make money, and when.

Blog revenue from publishing, services, product sales, sponsorships, courses, and affiliate income can be $4,000 – $20,000 per month for some – or even more like $40,000 – $50,000 for another. 

I earn 6-figures in affiliate income generated through blogs and youtube videos based on affiliate income commissions

There is no ‘standard’ income for blogging. Find a model that you like and dig into that niche and model specifically to find your success formula.

Different Types of Blogs that Make Money

As we will share below, blogs can be about absolutely anything. Nobody is making rules for you. 

However, we will briefly discuss a few popular blog types and have been successful for others.

Niche Blogs

A niche can be anything. Your blog niche might even be about blogging – and why not, if it is your thing! Blogging is astronomical in popularity, and everyone is keen to hear how to make money online.

 

Take Pro Blogger as an example. 

It is a blog about writing blogs. His reported monthly income is $40,000 per month or more. This revenue is through advertising and also selling a course on blogging. 

This is an excellent example of niching done well to position yourself as an expert with useful and quality content.

However, you can niche in anything you are into. 

The caveat is that it should be something that is also relatively popular and likely to earn you money. For example, there might be a (tiny) market for ear muffs made for marsupials, but probably not a large enough one to base your blog on.

You could niche in financial advice for beginners, health and lifestyle, DIY renovations – the options are endless.

Consider what topic you could write about, for years, with relative ease. Jumping on the latest hot ‘niche’ to make some coin isn’t usually the answer.

People can sense your authenticity in your writing, too, so make it something important to you.

Food Blogs

The 'Food Blogger' is a complete WordPress Website ready for you to get cooking! If you would like to build your own, we have tutorials on that as well. If you want to leave the techie stuff to us, we put the system together for you. We've got the perfect recipe.

 

We’ve all got to eat. 

This might be why food blogs are another popular blog that monetizes well. 

Gone are the days of opening a recipe book (well, for most), and instead, we often head to the search engines to inspire us.

And, in our quest, we find many, many food blogs. 

Blog, A Sassy Spoon reported their net revenue for May 2020 was around $11,500.00. 

They have a food blog that generates revenue from ad income and sponsored content as the main contributors. 

The other revenue components were business coaching, freelance photography, and a tiny amount, under $1000 from affiliate marketing

This is an excellent example of a simple food blog giving you the freedom to quit your day job. This blog is just one example, there are many more! 

The Clean Eating Couple are said to make over $125,000 per year from their food blog too. 

Travel Blogs

Ah, the travel blog.

Earning a living from a travel blog is the ultimate dream for some. You get to travel and make money from sharing your fun traveling experiences. Never work a day in your life again!

Like any blog, travel blogs can earn from just a little bit of pocket money to 5 figures a month so that you can quit your dull day job.

One of the reported top earners is Nomadic Matt, who earns at least $50k per month. 

His blog posts help people travel smarter, cheaper, and longer – who doesn’t want that? He has nailed his niche, and there is a significant interest in traveling as Matt teaches it. 

He has also written travel guides – another source of income on his blog site. 

Another successful but slightly smaller blog is, Be My Travel Muse. Blog owner Kristin’s niche within the travel blog scene is solo female travelers. 

She has over 20,000 email subscribers and reportedly makes about $4,000- $5,000 per month. 

This might feel like a more realistic starting goal for newer bloggers than aiming for 5 figure months.

However, check out some successful blogs for inspiration. 

You can see they have put many, many hours into their work. Even making $4,000 a month is not going to happen overnight. 

It will take time and effort, but it can definitely be worth it.

Check out some of these high paying travel affiliate programs.

 

How Blogs Earn Money

 

This is definitely not an exhaustive list. There are many ways bloggers make money, but here are a few:

Website Traffic

 

Here are ways to generate traffic to your blog. Today, thanks to social media, I'm able to get traffic to my blog on the same day I create a post. With Pinterest, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and other channels, it's easy to see traffic happen quickly if you promote it.

 

The more traffic your blog site has, the more desirable it becomes as an advertising space. A popular choice is through Google Ads. Another popular ad platform for beginners is Ezoic.

Understandably, not many businesses would pay to put up a billboard in a ghost town that nobody will see. It is very similar to your blog. 

Your page views become very important as the higher this number, the more eyeballs on the ads on your page – if you choose to have them.

Choosing to display and affiliate ads on your blog can mean you earn a few cents per page view or get paid per click. 

It would help if you had quite a lot of site traffic to make decent money.

If you earned 5 cents per page view, you would need 100,000 page views to make $5,000. For a new blog, this can seem impossible.

Good Content Ranks Higher in Searches

 

 

When you continuously produce high-quality blog content that is useful to the reader, it is more likely to increase in readership and have you ranking higher on Google or other search engines. 

Ranking on Google can take time.

However, imagine someone searches anytime for their question on Google, and your blog provides the specific answer – right up there at the top. 

You may have even written that particular blog some time ago, but it still provides a useful answer.

The more clicks and the greater the popularity, the more likely it can be to be featured in the search results and the better your site traffic becomes.

You then keep making money from that blog, potentially long after you have written it. Keep in mind to keep your content high quality. It can be worth revisiting and updating older blogs to keep the content top-notch. 

You’ll want to spend some time learning about blog SEO.

Email Subscribers

 

You build trust with your email subscribers. They get to know and even like you. 

This might be a big reason why you want to blog to start with – you want to connect and help like-minded people. 

A solid list of email subscribers also means that you have a group of people who already like your work, and you can email them every time you have a new post. 

This is going to help get page views.

Additionally, as you can directly communicate with your subscribers, it is easy to let them know about your paid products, services, and the online course of the affiliate programs you are part of. 

If you nurture these connections regularly, they are way more likely to buy from you or trust your affiliate recommendations. 

A big positive for an email list is that it is a much safer asset. Your social media accounts could get locked up out of the blue. 

Google might decide your blog wasn’t the best search response and bump you down several pages.

But, your email list is something you manage separately. It is a feature all successful bloggers utilize to their advantage.

I use optinmonster to build my email list through offers I make on the website. Then, I use KEAP to send my offers and cultivate the leads through email campaign funnels.

 

Affiliate Programs 

 

Many brands have affiliate programs. You essentially become an advocate for their brand or product and have affiliate links on your blog. 

Warby Parker has an affiliate program within the ShareASale Network. This is an invitation-only program.

If someone clicks on the affiliate link from your site, you get some financial incentive. 

Each affiliate program has a different payout. However, it can be an easy way to make money by recommending a product you probably would anyway. 

Affiliate marketing is my favorite way to earn income. Since I wouldn’t say I like to spend time in sales, affiliate marketing allows me to promote a product and then step out of the picture.

Recurring income from software subscriptions is my top earner. 

You can join the Wealthy Affiliate forum and learn more about affiliate marketing.

Online Courses, Books; Downloads

A popular way to monetize a blog can be through an online course, book, eBook, or other kinds of product. 

If you're considering making the most of your eLearning strategy, you should consider authoring your own courses.

 

If you’re considering making the most of your eLearning strategy, you should consider authoring your own courses.

Your blog has already established you as an expert in your niche, so a course or book can be a great way to share your knowledge with your readers.

The even better part is, you can create the course content, book, or download (like a recording or worksheet) and then keep on selling it for years – without having to do additional work. 

It becomes a great passive income of sorts.

These online courses and products that don’t have an active component are usually relatively affordable for the customer. 

It also takes little work from you after the initial outset. 

I sell courses through Ballen Academy, using my Teachable Course Builder. It’s a reliable income source, but you will need to build a following. 

Social Media and Youtube have been key to my success in selling courses.

Services

You might even build your blog around a service that you provide. As we saw above in the A Sassy Spoon example, the blogger also provided coaching services. 

For most of us, the earnings from food blogging come from ads on the website, ads on a coordinating video blog (Youtube Channel), affiliate marketing, supplement sales, sponsorships, online courses, consulting, speaking engagements, and coaching.

Your blog brings them to your page, and as they get to know and trust you, they decide they want more. You can offer a whole range of services that add to your overall revenue.

You might offer private coaching services on your blog topic or even help people create awesome blogs as you have. 

Interestingly, it might even be a side hustle to the blog niche, like copywriting. 

Teachable, the online course building software, now offers the ability to sell coaching.

How To Start A Blog

It isn’t that hard to start a blog – to maintain a blog and stay with it until it is profitable is another thing. Here is a quick list of what you need to do to start a blog:

  • Decide on what your blog is about – something you like and a popular niche.
  • Come up with an appealing blog name (it helps if the title links to what you write about).
  • Choose a place to write your blog – there are heaps of online options, popular ones being WordPress.com and Blogger.com (free or paid options available). Check out WP Engine for DIY WordPress or Ballen Brands to buy a fully designed WordPress Website for Bloggers.
  • Purchase a domain name at a website like GoDaddy – hopefully, the blog name you came up with is available. Otherwise, it’s back to the drawing board. Even if you have decided to use a free blog site with their domain name, you might want to reserve your domain name when you upgrade and start blogging more seriously.
  • Start writing! Set some weekly goals to make regular contributions.
  • Customize your blog to suit your style and selected niche.
  • Start promoting and monetizing your blog – an ongoing process with so many avenues. Start somewhere.

How To Choose A Blog Niche

You are going to commit to writing about this topic a lot. Your passion and enthusiasm for the topic will no doubt come through in your writing.

So, it is obvious to say – choose a niche that you like. 

Apart from liking the niche, make sure plenty of others like it too, or your blog is likely to solve a problem many people have. 

Ready, Set, Grow

Hi! I’m Lori Ballen. I help content creators grow and monetize their channels. Are You Ready to Grow?

About Lori Ballen

She is the founder of The Ballen Method. Lori is a content marketer, speaker, and trainer.  Her students appreciate her authenticity, as well as her ability to take complex elements and make them understandable. As a 6-figure Affiliate Marketer, Lori understands the power of monetizing content marketing channels like Youtube, Blogs, and Social Media Networks.

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