So you want to start a blog but have no idea where to begin? I get it, not too long ago (2 years to be precise) I was in the exact same place.
The internet can be a wonderful life-changing resource and you can actually find every piece of information you need.
However, it is usually scattered and overwhelming leaving your more confused than when you first started.
I have written a few blog posts about blogging, monetization, affiliate marketing, and tools. But I notice I haven’t written the beginner’s guide I wish I would have had when I began my blogging journey.
So, here it is. Hope it gives you the clarity and guidance you need to start your blog, whether you are a beginner or have been testing the blogging waters for a while.
My beginner blogging journey
Do not worry, I do not plan on making this post about me but I want to highlight how I chose to begin my blogging journey since I believe it will help you find out if this is for you.
I also learned about all the business models our clients were using and got more and more curious every day about starting my own. (Ok, I also got a bit bored of the 9-to-5-cubicle life and wanted to do find a way out).
Chances are, if you are reading this you have a little entrepreneur inside you looking for freedom and possibilities.
I have now been combining blogging, affiliate marketing, and online selling for almost 3 years and have been able to multiply my old salary 4 times with my 2 niche blogs (without counting this one).
While it has definitely been a challenging journey, I am so happy I started it. The beginning is the hardest part but if you are able to break through doubts and resistance, you can make a living out of blogging and scale it as much as you want. There is no limit to what you can do with a platform and an audience.
Blogging as a business
Before becoming one, I used to think blogging was just something people did for one of two reasons: either fun or reputation.
I knew friends who had blogs about their interest and would just post whenever they felt like and were happy with people reading their posts.
On the other hand, I knew consultants, coaches, and business owners who run their own blogs because it’d serve them to build authority and credentials when approaching new clients. This one was technically supporting their income but it wasn’t a direct source of revenue.
But what I was failing to see was all the bloggers who had built a profitable and almost passive business entirely from their blogs. And that is the type of blogging I practice and the type I want to share with you today.
The thing is having a blog is having an audience, and that is one of the most valuable assets in the internet era.
Put simply, the way people make money is by selling things whether it is products or services (duh, capitalism). And in order to do that, they need people interested in buying them.
If you have an audience you have dozens of possibilities to monetize it. We’ll get to that but before let’s talk about whether you should start a blog or not.
Should YOU start a blog?
Ok, I am a blogger blogging about blogging so I see the irony. However, I have not always been a blogger and I have also read hundreds of articles about it before starting my journey.
So I am familiar with the advice that is being given out there and I believe I can be as impartial as it gets about this.
This are some conditions I think are essential to your success as a blogger and can help you decide it you should start a blog or spare your time for something else.
You should start a blog if:
You are self-motivated
The first few months of blogging are an uphill path and I won’t be doing you any favors by hiding it.
If you decide to begin your blogging journey you’ll be spending the first 6 to 8 months learning the basics and mostly just writing without an audience. It might feel fruitless and you’ll be tempted to quit.
In fact, a lot of people do before they start seeing results. We as humans are used to getting rewards for our work and using that as a motivation to keep doing it.
But with as a beginner blogger you will not get any outside rewards at the beginning and it can feel like you are going nowhere and just wasting your time.
This is what separates successfull bloggers from the millions blogs who never see the light.
You must have the self-motivation to push through the harder part, trust the process, and know that this is a long-term game.
I understand how it can be discouraging to put in the time and effort for over 6 months without results. But creating good content and waiting for it to rank on Google can take up to 12 months.
But you must remember you are not the first one doing this, every blogger has been there and if you stick to the plan and keep publishing you will start seeing the rewards.
You have another income
While part of the goals of creating your own blog is that you will eventually be able to replace your regular job, it will require some time before you can make the same you were doing with your 9-to-5 and of course, scale it to make much more.
If you are relying on savings or do not have a current income, you won’t be in the right mindset or situation to begging and stay on the blogging path.
For better or worse, one of the most essential parts of blogging is putting in the work and being patient while you start getting traffic. It won’t work any faster because you put in more time or because are in a hurry to make money.
If you want are a beginner wanting to become a blogger, make sure you have your finances taken care of so you can create your blogging empire without pressure.
Unless of course, you have no responsabilities or bills to pay for about 12 months.
You like writing (and reading)
This one is a little bit obvious but blogging requires lots of writing (and reading and learning).
So if you dread the idea of sitting in front of a computer for hours writing and researching then do not put yourself through it. The whole point of starting your own blog is to do something you will enjoy or at least can see yourself doing for a while.
Blogging requires lots of other skills like managing, designing, networking, social media, etc. Some people enjoy those more than the actual writing themselves and can eventually outsource the writing part.
However, unless you want to spend money before making money, you’ll need to be writing your articles for the first year.
Even after that, if you will outsource someone to di it after your blog is profitable, you’ll need to review their job and know what they are writing about so you keep putting the best content out there.
You like to learn new things
While most people imagine blogging is a lot about writing —and that is true— there are other skills and processes that go into it and that you will need to learn.
From Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and basic graphic design to Social Media and Email Marketing. Running a blog with the goal of making money is like starting a small business that requires you to step out of your comfort zone and learn something new almost every day.
Surely once you are making money, you can hire someone to help you with the things that you prefer delegating but at the beginning, I suggest trying to learn the basics so no one can scam you charging you more than they should.
You want to be your own boss
Finally, I believe the most important requisite to starting a blog as a beginner is having the desire to be your own boss and having control over your time and life.
I know it sounds a bit cliche but nothing will give you the drive and commitment to put in the work as the pursuit of a bigger goal for yourself. Whether that is never having to worry about money again, spending more time with your loved one or being able to travel the world.
Ultimately, if you do not meet all the previous requirements at 100%, this one will make you find the way.
Beginners guide to blogging
Now that I’ve shared my humble opinion on what it takes to be a blogger, I want to give an overall look at the whole blogging process so you can have a broad idea of the steps you’ll need to follow.
1. Choosing your niche
Your niche is the category or topic your blog is going to be about. Some of the aspects that go into choosing your blog’s niche are:
- Your interests: You need to have some knowledge or passion for the topic.
- The potential: You want to choose a niche with a big enough audience and where you know at least vaguely there are possibilities for monetization.
- The trends: You want to choose a niche that has proven to attract consistent interest overtime as well as one that is not too seasonal or you’ll be left with no business for half the year.
- The competition: undoubtedly, there is competition in every niche especially in those where the money is but if your niche is too competitive I’d suggest ‘niching down’ and choosing a sub-niche with an unattended audience where you can stand out.
Some examples of profitable general niche are:
- Fitness and Weight Loss.
- Dating and Relationships.
- Wealth Building Through Investing.
- Make Money on the Internet.
- Beauty Treatments.
Inside each of these ones are hundreds of other smaller niches you can (and should) focus on. For example, in the Fitness and Weight Loss niche, you could focus on Keto Weight Loss or Fitness for Moms.
Additionally, do not restrict yourself to these categories. If you have other interests and an idea to monetize them. I know bloggers doing 6 figures niches like succulents (plants) and 3d printing.
For a complete guide on how to choose and validate your niche make sure to check out this article later.
2. Getting your blog online
I’d be lying if I’d say I understand exactly how URLs and servers work but I do know is that if you want your blog to exist online you need two things: a host and a domain.
A host is a server where all your blog content will live and your domain is the virtual address you’ll use to point people towards your blog. This blog’s domain for example is “affiliatesmind”.
There are many host and domain providers out there and they also have similar prices and quality. However, I use and recommend Bluehost for two reasons:
- It offers a free domain for your registration so you’ll be saving $7-$15 on average plus the trouble of having to connect them if you get them separately.
- It is the only hosting that connects automatically with WordPress. In simple terms, WordPress is the tool 99% of bloggers use and it is a pain to install it in any other hosting besides Bluehost.
3. Giving it some style
One of the most common mistakes bloggers make is to spend to much time choosing their theme and tweaking all the tiny details possible. Don’t be one of them.
Your blog theme and design is important but you won’t get any significant traffic for months and you will be making better use of your time by creating more and more content. Which is what is going to make possible for anyone to see your blog ultimately.
That being said, there are thousands of themes available but they all have their limitations and unless you know to code, you don’t wanna invest in them.
Instead, I recommend using a lightweight theme like GeneratePress or Astra (the free versions) and getting a page builder like Elementor which is going to give you many more options and features than any paid theme.
4. Installing your plug-ins
Plug-ins are like apps for your blog. They help you do specific things that your theme can’t do without the need for coding.
But they can also slow it down —or worst— be the source for security breaches. So, you want to be very picky and get only the essentials.
These are the plugins I think are 100% necessary:
- Yoast SEO. This is the most important SEO plugin in my opinion!
- Akismet. Protects your blog against spam.
- Wordfence: Protecting your website from hacks and malware.
- Cookie notice. For GDPR compliance.
- UpdraftPlus: backup, restore, and migration WordPress plugin.
- Elementor. Optional, but I love the Elementor builder for my pages.
My preferred way to install plugins is to go to the dashboard and go to “Plugins” > “Add New” and search for the name.
5. Planning your content
Planning your content strategically vs “winging it” is the difference that’ll make your blogger a successfull one.
When choosing what to write about consider that each blog post you make needs to fulfill a purpose. Again, we are building a business here so we are not writing just for fun.
Without going into too much detail, there are many ways in which you can make money through your blog and each blog posts should be target towards one (or preferably more) of them.
- Some blog posts can attract a lot of traffic and make you money through ads
- Other posts can be about an affiliate product you are promoting and will make you money through commissions.
- Others will be teaching something valuable to your audience where you can, later on, offer them a more detailed paid guide or course.
- And others can be to educate and show your expertise in a certain topic to build your authority and your blog’s overall content.
While all the content you will create should have a direction, that doesn’t mean you do not care or give value to your audience. On the contrary, the only way to build trust with them is to overdeliver and then overdeliver some more.
To create a new category, log into your dashboard and go to “Posts” > “Categories” and add them from there. Once you have done that you’ll be able to select easily what category each post belongs to.
If you want to know how to choose the best topics with a higher chance to rank on Google’s top results make sure to check out this article.
6. Introducing yourself
As a blogger, you are the image of your own brand and building trust with your readers is essential for them to keep coming back and wanting to hear more from you.
One of the key ways to achieve this is to create a good “About Me” page. This is where you can tell your visitors your story and experience as well as letting your personality shine through so they can connect with you as a person and not just a blogger.
You can check other blogger’s “About me” pages for inspiration but ultimately, this is a very unique page and only you can decide what to share on it.
It goes without saying but you should keep it professional and light. Consider that some of your readers might be marketers or business owners looking to learn about you for a potential partnership.
You should also create a “Contact Us” page so —well— people can get in touch with you.
To create a new page go to log into your dashboard and go to “Pages” > “Add new“.
7. Creating your Resource Pages
Contrary to your blog posts which are published chronologically and don’t have a permanent spot on your blog, your resources pages are static Pages with relevant products and recommendations that should always be accessible from your main menu.
Not all bloggers have them but I find that they make your blog more organized and friendly. They also allow you to concentrate all your recommendations in one place so you can keep your blog posts focused on the main topic.
That way, when you write a new article and want to share something about a specific tool or offer, you can link your visitors to those pages and avoid explaining it all again.
It also stops you from filling your pages with affiliate links which, even thought it hasn’t been proved, it’s believed to help with SEO.
To create a new page go to log into your dashboard and go to “Pages” > “Add new“.
8. Monetizing your blog
Now for the fun part!! As I have mentioned, there are many ways to make money with your blog but they all depend on you having an audience and some good content.
That is is why I have placed these steps here and suggest you start focusing on it after you have created at least 30 articles (and continue on a publishing schedule).
From placing ads to your site to including affiliate links and selling your own products, the possibilities are endless once you have a platform and an audience.
If you want an in-depth guide on how to monetize your blog check out this article later.
9. Getting some early traffic
As you might have deducted from this article, the best traffic source for a blog is Google. I trust I don’t need to tell you how big it is so you can imagine why as a blogger, we focus a lot of our strategies on it.
That is known as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and I explain who to do it in the article mentioned above.
But it is worth mentioning that it can take a while for google to start showing your blog posts so you start getting visitors. For a new blog it can be between 10 to 12 months since the post published date.
This is why we want to start driving traffic from other sources as we continue to create content. There are many traffic sources to choose from like Instagram, Facebook groups, Pinterest, Youtube, TikTok or forums like Quora.
They all have they pros and cons and its own learning curve so I suggest choosing one and sticking with it until you have mastered it.
Blogging is already a lot to do so you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too many other tasks.
10. Building a loyal fan base
I doubted about writing this point. Putting myself in your place I could feel myself getting overwhelmed with yet another task. And that is how I felt about building my own loyal fan base (a.k.a my email list) when I first started blogging.
Whenever I read an article about the importance of growing my email list I would get anxious and just procastinate on it.
But I must tell you, I wish I would have started sooner. An email list is like a container full of people waiting to read your articles and get the products you recommend. Cool huh?
Additionally, every email subscriber can make you on average $2-$3 per month besides helping you bring traffic to your new blog posts.
However, learning how to blog plus setting up an email autoresponder can be a bit too much at once so I recommend you get all your blog set up, and once you have a regular posting routine take a day to set up your email subscription form.
With Elementor it’ll take you a few minutes to create a subscription form and connect it to an email software like Active Campaign, which makes it super easy to create email sequences that run on automatic so you can continue to focus on blogging.
11. Get on the right side of the law
Do you know those boring legal pages all blog have links at the bottom? No? I am not surprised. I’d actually be surprised if you knew about them because there is nothing there for 99.9% of visitors.
The fact is there is a law called GDPR which stands for ‘general data protection regulation‘ and is a part of the EU law on data protection and privacy. it is also the reason why you have maybe seen banners about ‘cookies’ on some pages.
This law applies to all European citizens so Even if you aren’t located in the EU yourself, a portion of your future visitors will. Which means your blog has to be GDPR compliant.
This is also essential if you plan of placing ads on your site since most ad networks have it as a requirement.
- WordPress, or any other blog or content management system
- Google Analytics, or any similar website analytics program
- Google AdSense and/or AdWords
- Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other social media “like” buttons or plugins
- A shopping basket/cart
So, the answer is probably yes.
12. Taking it step-by-step
If you have come this far on the article, I hope you are very excited and a little bit scared. They say that’s how you know something is worth pursuing and that is how I felt about blogging when I first began.
It can also be a bit overwhelming to think about all the little pieces that you need to put together which is why I suggest you to take it step-by-step. Set up a schedule for yourself and focus only on the task at hand.
It can be tempting to try to control all the details and plan far ahead but the truth is, the process is quite straight forward and it has been proven thousands of times. The best you can do for your future self is to create good quality content and then some more.
13. Do not sweat the details
Last but not least, do not get too concerned if your first blog post is not as perfect as you want it to be or your homepage layout doesn’t make you cry of excitement.
Your writing will get better with practice as well as your skills with everything else. And no, if one visitors come to your blog without it being perfectly ready they probably won’t notice.
I’ll say this once again but you want to put 90% of your time into creating high-quality-monetizable-content. That is what is going to bring people in and allow you to start seeing the rewards of your work.
You can also tweak your blog to perfection when you are getting significant traffic.
Beginner’s Blogger Guide FAQ
How much can a beginner blogger make?
This obviously depends, but in my experience and the people who have followed similar approaches to blogging as mine, you can be sure you’ll make zero dollars for the first 6-7 months and then you can make between $500-$2000/ month for the rest of the first year.
It keeps getting better from there si the trick is to stick with it.
For a more in-depth question on how much can bloggers make, you can check out this article: How Much Do Bloggers REALLY Make?
How much does it cost to start a blog?
Blogging is one of the cheapest businesses you can start but it still has some costs, especially at the beginning.
First 3 month costs:
- Blog Hosting: $110 (averages to $2.75/month with Bluehost discount)
- ElementorPro Page builder: $49 (most value vs paid themes)
- Email Marketing: $15/month (first month free)
Total Expected Costs in the First 3 Months: $174 upfront
Total costs in the next month: $15/month
How do you start a blog for free?
There are some platform that will allow you to start a blog 100% free like Wix or Blogger but these are not self hosted platfroms which means you do not own the content or the blog itself.
They can shut down tomorrow and your blog can be gone overnight. Aditionally they are not good for SEO (especially wix) and have limited features.
When setting up your self-hosted blog you are actually paying for hosting since WordPress is free.
Blogging for begginers: Takeaway
If you are want to start blogging, there has never been a better time than now. Well, they say the best time was yesterday but today is the second best time.
It takes some dedication and consistency but I believe is one of the best things you can do for your future with almost zero investment.
Hopefully, you have another source of income at the moment so you can start your blogging journey without stressing too much about the outcome for the first months.
Trust me, it’ll be worth it.