Imagine how life-changing it would be to make regular income from blogging about your interests and passions?
Plenty of people do exactly that. This article will teach you some essential blogging tips for beginners to help you get started.
Blogging is fun and rewarding, and can be truly lucrative. Stories of people making six-figure annual incomes (and more) from blogging are widespread and usually genuine.
But of course there’s a lot more to being a blogger than publishing a few articles and waiting for the cash to start rolling in.
Successful blogs are run like businesses, and there’s plenty of work involved. The good news is that it’s (mostly) enjoyable work, and the learning curve is shallow enough for anybody to get involved. So don’t worry if you’re not a technical “guru.”
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Why Listen to Me?
I’ve been blogging professionally since 2009. I’ve been involved in many blogs over the years, and you’re currently reading one of them. As well as blogs of my own, I’ve worked on client blogs what have gone on to make seven-figure annual incomes.
Perhaps most importantly, I’ve seen what doesn’t work, as well as what does.
How DO You Start a Blog?
Here are the key steps involved in building a profitable blog. We’ll delve into a lot more detail later.
1. Decide what to blog about: Successful blogs have a distinct niche, and a distinct target audience. This article will help you choose a good niche.
2. Buy some web hosting and a domain name: You can start a new blog for very little money. If you can budget to spend a couple of hundred Dollars in the first year you’ll have more than enough (as discussed in detail here). It IS possible to spend far less.
3. Install WordPress and choose a theme: This will establish the initial look and feel of your site. Don’t get hung up on this step – it’s much easier than it sounds and you can change and enhance things as you go along.
4. Start creating content: You must ensure you produce articles that provide genuine value to readers. In at least some way they should be better than what’s already out there – otherwise what incentive do people have to choose your blog over the millions of others out there?
5. Share and promote your site: This could mean forming partnerships with other bloggers, mastering social media, gaining press attention, or learning about Search Engine Optimisation and working your way to the top of Google’s search results. Successful blogs do all of these things.
6. Monetize your blog: There are MANY ways to make money from a blog: making space for adverts, marketing products as an affiliate, selling related products and services of your own, arranging sponsorships – the list goes on.
7. Rinse, Refine and Repeat
Blogging Tips for Beginners
All of that sounds pretty simple really doesn’t it?
It’s not actually that complicated if you take things one step at a time and learn as you go.
But let’s now dive in to the reality. If blogging was that easy, everybody would be doing it!
1. Be Realistic About How Long Things Take
Of all the blogging tips for beginners here, this is the most important:
You MUST be aware that nothing happens instantly.
You can build a website and fill it with great content, but the chances are that months could elapse with few people beyond your family and friends ever looking at it.
When it comes to building a reputation, climbing up the rankings, being trusted by Google, and getting natural “organic” traffic, you’ll have to wait a while.
Many people believe that Google operates a “sandbox” system, which prevents brand new websites from quickly gaining traction. This is to prevent people from using technical trickery to quickly rank new sites.
Regardless of the intricacies of how Google works, the reality is that blogs take time to get off the ground.
Here’s a real-life illustration of that, from this very website. It took just under a year before gaining real momentum. If you keep in mind that this is far from being my first website, and that everything was planned pretty carefully, it shows that it’s not too realistic to expect much to happen for the first 6-12 months – at least.
I worked solidly on the site between July 2017 and February 2018, producing content every week, before seeing any real increase in traffic…You can quickly see why many people give up before they get anywhere!
If your long-term plan is to make money from blogging, you’re going to need some other money coming in (or some savings) while you get things off the ground. Thankfully, it also makes for a perfect part time project.
2. Be Prepared to Spend a Little Money
Starting a blog is probably one of the cheapest business ventures you could undertake, but it’s unrealistic to expect to do it completely free.
Yes there are free blogging platforms, but you’ll quickly outgrow them with anything more than a hobby blog.
You NEED your own domain and hosting. I recommend Dreamhost as the place to get it – and this link will take you to their current special offer.
Typically, hosting companies charge you less if you’re willing to commit to a longer fixed term. As such, if you have the funds to pay for a year (or even three) at one time, it makes sense to do so. Presumably you’re intending for your site to last for far more than a month anyway?!
A while ago, I looked in detail at the cost of blogging and concluded that $170 is the ideal amount of money to spend in the first year of a blog. Read more on that here. Essentially a budget like that will give you access to a more refined theme and access to tools that will give you a head start.
You may spend less, and you can certainly spend more. But whatever your budget, there aren’t many other businesses you can set up with such a tiny investment.
3. Understand that there’s FAR more to blogging than writing
Writing the content for my blogs is one of the things I enjoy most in my working life.
But in reality, only a fraction of the time I spend working on my sites is spent actually creating content.
Here are some of the other things you will find yourself doing as a professional blogger:
- Addressing technical issues such as backing up your site and protecting it from hackers.
- Reaching out to other bloggers and industry people for guest posts and mentions (perhaps my least favourite task!)
- Hunting for places that will link to you and boost your credibility with Google.
- Monitoring the competition to ensure you’re producing better content and generally keeping up with them.
- Signing up to and dealing with affiliate schemes and advertising networks.
- Studying lots of reports and analytics.
- Responding to reader emails, blog comments, social media posts and – sadly – trolls.
- Promoting the site on social media.
- Hiring writers and freelancers (once things start building up).
- Sending out marketing emails and newsletters to readers (I use ConvertKit – review here).
- Doing lots of work on keyword research and Search Engine Optimisation (more on that in a moment).
- Handling all of the record-keeping and accounting. In truth, this can get complicated quite quickly, even with only a small amount of money coming in.
- Sourcing and optimising lots of images.
- Updating privacy policies and firefighting legal issues.
I’ve written this big list to make an important point: If you’re planning to get into professional blogging, it’s important to know that this is what’s really involved.
I provide coaching for aspiring bloggers (click here for details – I could help you in person!) I’ve faced several situations where people have been put off the whole idea of blogging once they’ve understood this reality.
That’s OK – and there’s no shame in it. In fact, I’d encourage you to look at the list and be honest with yourself about whether you want to do all those things.
If you plan to run a blog as a business, there’s not a single thing on that list you can skip. Once you start to bring in some money you can certainly outsource some of it, but you’ll have to learn to do it all yourself to begin with.
4. Learn the Importance of Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a hugely complex topic – and it’s way beyond the scope of this article.
The crucial thing to understand is that creating content is only one piece of the jigsaw; You also need people to actually find it online.
Some bloggers get most of their traffic from Pinterest these days, and it works well for certain niches, such as food, crafts and personal finance. But it’s not a great fit for every topic. (I highly recommend checking out Pinterest Traffic Avalanche to learn about this).
The Holy Grail for most of us bloggers hasn’t changed in many years: we all want to pull in traffic direct from Google searches.
A huge part of SEO is doing keyword research. Put simply, keyword research shows you how many people are looking up certain terms online, and what the competition’s like around those keywords.
Why does this matter? Because if – as a new blogger – you write an article around a term that’s already well-covered by leading websites, your chances of anyone finding that article on Google are close to zero.
Similarly, you don’t want to spend time writing about topics absolutely nobody is interested in.
To give yourself a quick primer on SEO and keyword research, I’d strongly recommend checking out the Mangools KWFinder suite (reviewed here). You can grab a 10-day free trial – plenty of time to play around and do some research.
There’s no limit to how advanced you can get with SEO and keyword research. I’m often up into the early hours reading long articles on Google ranking factors and topics like keyword cannibalization. You needn’t take it this far (at least initially!) but a basic grounding in SEO is really important if your blog is ever going to truly compete.
5. Keep Learning – Ideally by DOING
We’ve already discussed the learning curve around blogging. It really can be as shallow or steep as you want to make it.
This is a type of work where your existing level of technical knowledge and competence IS going to make a difference to how quickly you can progress. However, it should never be insurmountable. There’s rarely a situation where the answer isn’t a quick Google search away.
Having previously worked in IT, I only bought one book before I started blogging. (If you’re interested, it was the ProBlogger book by Darren Rowse). Everything else I needed to learn came from forums, free articles like this one, documentation and “how to” guides.
The limitless amount of information is both a blessing and a curse. Many aspiring bloggers suffer from “information overload.” I’m a firm believer in learning by doing, so the very best thing you can do is to get the basic shell of your blog established and learn from there.
If you’d rather learn everything in a structured way, we’ve published an article rounding up the best blogging courses out there. Just try not to get caught in a trap of taking endless courses and not actually getting started.
6. Work Out HOW your Blog Will Make Money
It makes good sense have a firm idea of HOW your blog will make money before you put too much effort it.
The possibilities are endless. You could start a blog about graphic design trends with plans to sell your own design services; You could blog about mental health and promote related books or even telephone counselling services; You could create a food blog and market recipe books and kitchen gadgets.
The list goes on, but the key thing is that the blog itself isn’t what makes money. It’s the off-shoot books, the affiliate commissions, or the services you offer personally (using the blog as a sales tool) that really matter.
IMPORTANT: “Get some traffic and slap up some ads,” isn’t a very good blog monetization strategy!
“Ah, but you have ads on HomeWorkingClub” I hear you cry!
Well, yes, I do – but they don’t start to make any meaningful amount of money until your site had tens of thousands of visitors every month. It’s only really pocket money until you get a lot of traffic.
It’s best to have other ways to make money in your mind from the start.
7. Choose a Subject You Have Passion For
The last of my blogging tips for beginners is absolutely crucial:
Always make sure you blog about something you’re passionate about.
Your blog is likely to take at least a year to get properly started. You presumably want it to last for years after that.
You will be living, breathing and writing about that topic for an awfully long time. If you don’t have enough passion for that to sound like an exciting prospect, you may have chosen the wrong topic.
I’ve made exactly this mistake before; I’ve been working away at my keyword research and found something “on trend” with lots of interest in it. I’ve gone ahead and created the site and got all fired up about it, only to realise not long afterwards that I simply don’t care about the topic enough to keep the momentum going.
Sit and write a list of all the posts you could create around your chosen topic or niche. If 20 ideas don’t come to you with no effort whatsoever, you have probably selected something that you’re going to struggle to sustain.
Conclusion and Recap
Blogging is hugely rewarding. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s changed my life, and those of many others.
Building an audience around something you love is a wonderful thing, especially if it goes on to make you money. It is, however, essential to emphasise that while “six-figure” blogging is far from being a myth, it’s never easy money.
It bears repeating that people who make big money from their blogs run them like businesses. A lot of work is involved.
Once you’ve gained some momentum, having a business that literally earns money WHILE YOU SLEEP is pretty unbeatable. But plenty of active work goes into creating that “passive” income.
I’ll end on an obvious but crucial point: the one blog that’s certain to fail is the one you don’t start. Buy the hosting and start to play around. It’s such a small investment that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t go the distance. If you DO – well, anything’s possible 🙂
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.