Are you looking to start a blog with the goal of making money with it? Are you wondering if it is still possible to make money blogging in 2020? Or if it is the right choice for you?
With over 500 million blogs and 2 million blog posts being published everyday, blogging is definitely not what it was 10 years ago. It requires some time, dedication, and strategy to make sure you are going somewhere and not spinning your wheels in vain.
That being said, it is completely possible to start a blog and make money with it. It is also one of my favorites ways of making money online.
While it is not a get-rich-quick-scheme (read that again please), it is a great long-term strategy and an almost zero-risk one.
It requires very little money investment and, as longs as you put in the work and follow the right advice, it is practically guaranteed your blog will turn into a passive and scalable source of income.
How to create a money-making blog
There are different pieces and processes that you need to consider when creating your money-making-blog.
If you are new to this it all might seem a bit overwhelming but, in this article, we’ll go into all the steps and tips you need to follow so when you are done reading it you have a complete understanding of what you need to do to create a successful blog.
These are the 5 main aspects to consider when it comes to starting your blog:
- Market research: how to choose a niche with growth and monetization potential.
- Technical aspects: all the details of what you need to be able to launch your blog online such as hosting, domain, themes, etc.
- Monetization: All the different ways to monetize your blog, tools, programs, etc.
- Content Creation: what topics to write about, how to create blog posts that make money, etc.
- Traffic: How to get eyes on your content so you can actually make money of it.
Now let’s get started!
I. Market research: choosing a profitable niche for your blog
Choosing the right niche is the first and most important part of creating a successful blog.
While there are hundreds of niches out there and you could technically make money in almost any of them, there are some key things to consider when choosing the one with the most money-making possibilities.
As the word implies, seasonality refers to how the changing of seasons through the year impact a certain niche.
If you have the chance to choose any niche, you will do a lot better by choosing one that brings you money year-round vs. one that only brings you money for a few months.
Think fishing vs. yoga, fishing interest is probably very high during the summer months and has a significant drop during winter.
Whereas yoga maintains a similar interest through the whole year.
You can use Google Trends to do quick search on your potential niches and see how the interest changes over time.
Note: These ‘niches’ are too broad to even be considered so take them just as a symbolic example.
2. Historical Trend
Besides seasonality, you should also considered how evergreen a niche is. An evergreen niche is one that will sustain or grow its potential over time whereas a non evergreen niche is one that is losing interest or has been a trend that will eventually die.
Remember that blogs are long-term businesses so if you go for a niche that is trending at the moment but has no evergreen potential, it might have died by the time your blog has managed to get ranked on google.
This, for example is what a growing niche would look like
On the other hand, this is what a trend looks like. Probably not something you want to focus your efforts on.
There are also niches that are not necessarily a trend but show a slow and steady decline on interest. I wouldn’t advice going on these either unless you have a new approach for it you know will maintain or grow over time.
3. Your own interests
You are probably already sick of hearing this but, blogs are a long term commitment so you want to choose a niche you really like. It can be something you have some knowledge and expertise on it or something you like it enough to want to learn all about it.
There is no point in choosing a niche that looks promising money-wise if you will drop it halfway because you couldn’t find it more boring.
With all the niches and monetization possibilities, you can definitely find something you like and can commit to that can make you money at the same time.
4. Niche ‘down’
Niching ‘down’ means narrowing down your niche to target a more specific audience. This help you plan your content easier and also gives you a higher chance at ranking on Google search result for those specific terms since you will be seen as an authority in the determined niche.
Niching down can mean going from “travel’ to ‘budget travel’, ‘traveling with kids’ or ‘traveling in Russia’.
Once you have positioned yourself and gained authority in that niche, you can always expand your blog to cover broader topics so don’t be scared thinking you will run out of topics or won’t be able to grow any further.
Some competition is good, it means there is people making money on that niche. However there are a couple niches where it can get too competitive and hard for you to ever rank.
In general, I would advice to stay away from the personal finances and weight loss niches. Unless, of course, you find a unattended audience or a different approach that would enable you to take a piece of that pie.
I am not saying it wouldn’t be possible to make money on those niches but competition is fierce and most likely, the positioned blogs are pumping a lot of money into new content constantly, so it will take you years to catch up with them.
6. Search Volume
As you might suspect, blogs’ best source of traffic is google so you want to make sure there is enough search volume in your related keywords (search terms) to bring significant traffic to your posts.
You don’t need to know how many searches are for every topic you will possibly talk about but you want to have a general sense that there is enough search volume.
You can use the chrome extension Keywords Everywhere to check on the main search terms in your niche. After installing the extension just type your niche topic and check the volume for it and the related keywords.
You want the search volume for the main terms to be over 10,000. That way you know there is enough interest and you should be able to find topics with enough search volume and not too much competition so you can rank for.
We will go into the monetization piece later but, when choosing your niche, you want to have a general idea that there are people buying stuff related to your niche, preferably online.
For example, the niche ‘bathtubs’ can check all the previous boxes but if you think about the buying process, the chances are people will get online to do their research and then go to an actual store to buy their bathtub making it impossible for you to get any commissions on it.
II. Technical aspect: Creating and launching your money-making blog online
Getting your blog to exist in the cyber world requires you to:
- Purchase your hosting (think of it as your blog’s house)
- Get your domain (your blog’s name and identity)
- And install WordPress (your blog’s content creation platform).
Putting all of these together is actually simpler than it sounds since Bluehost makes it all completely seamless. Just follow the next steps and you will be able to launch your blog easily.
1. Get your hosting
You want to choose a reliable hosting provider. The one I use and recommend is Bluehost, their customer service is top-notch and they give you a domain for free so you don’t have to worry about getting it somewhere else and then connecting it to your host.
Bluehost is also the easiest host to connect with WordPress (which we will use as a platform) so if you don’t have a host yet, I definitely recommend going with them.
Head over to Bluehost’s site and click ‘Get Started Now’
It will then give you the option to choose between a basic, plus, or primer plan. For now, I would recommend getting the basic plan since that is all you need for your blog.
Later on, if you decide you want to create another blog you can always upgrade your account for a couple dollars extra a month.
Bear in mind that Bluehost (and all hosting companies) will charge you at least 12 months in advance but the longer you choose to pay for, the cheaper it will be and t is the only expense you will need to make.
After choosing your plan, they all for some personal information to create your account.
2. Choose your domain
Once you have given your account details, you’ll be taken to set up your domain. If you already have one you can set it up at that moment but if you don’t you will get it for free for the first year with your hosting
Your domain name should be simple and easy to remember, preferably two words max and including your niche main search terms. Of course most domains you will first think will be taken but not overthink it and try to find a variation that is available.
Always go for .com since it will make a big difference when it comes to getting ranked on Google searches.
You will then be presented with the ‘Package Extras’ where you’ll want to uncheck everything. You don’t need those for now and you can always get them later.
The only additional service I would recommend is called domain privacy which will prevent you from getting tons of spam email.
When you register a domain, your name and contact information go into the domain registry which is public. With Domain privacy the host puts their info in the registration so you can keep your info private.
Finally, create a password to access your Bluehost account and boom! your account is now set up.
3. Install WordPress on your domain
If you followed the previous steps successfully, setting up WordPress is incredibly easy since Bluehost does it automatically for you.
When you log in to your account after creating your password, you will be asked to choose a free theme for your blog.
If you are unsure about which theme to choose don’t worry, you can change it as many times as you want later.
After choosing your theme, you will be shown the following message
This means WordPress has been installed along with your theme. When you click in the ‘Start Building’ button you will be taken to the WordPress dashboard where you can start customizing your blog and creating your content.
If you have any problems with any of these steps, Bluehost has an excellent technical support and will help you get it fixed right away. You can contact t via the chat
button on their website or call their support number at any time.
In the same way, if you already had a Bluehost or other hosting account and don’t know how to install WordPress on your new domain, your host provider will be able to walk you through the steps.
III. Monetization: All the possible ways of making money with your blog
If you ever thought of blogs as simple hobbies or wondered if bloggers even made money, then you will enjoy this section.
There is not one but many methods you can use to monetize your blog and you get to choose as many as you want, the more the better.
1. Affiliate Marketing
This is probably my favorite method to make money with blogs. To put it simply, affiliate marketing means you promote products from certain companies and receive a commission for every sale made through your referral.
To be able to promote a company’s products, you need to apply to join their affiliate program. After approved, you will receive your ‘affiliate links’ which you can then place in your blog when promoting those products.
If a visitor clicks on your links —which takes them to the product’s website— and decides to buy them, you get a commission for that sale.
Now that you know how it works, you are probably noticing that every blog you have ever visited uses affiliates links. Actually, every link in a blog is most likely, an affiliate one. Even the ones in this blog of course.
Check out this example on an article for ‘Best Cameras for beginners’ where all the highlighted elements are affiliate links.
‘Best of’ articles are pretty obvious on their selling purposes but you can use affiliate links in reviews, how-to articles and pretty much any blog post as long as you provide value to your reader.
A good way to find what affiliate offers would be available in your niche is to check out other blogs in your category and see what products they are promoting. There is a 99.9% chance those are affiliate programs.
2. Selling your own info products
Selling your own products is another great way to monetize your blog. If you are wondering what could you even sell or why would anyone buy from you, don’t worry, I am sure most bloggers have gone through that at some point.
The truth is, as a blogger, you will become an expert and an authority in your niche. You will have the information and knowledge your visitors are looking for and, over time, you will grow to know your audience and its need even better.
So, what could you sell? it could be anything from a pdf guide, to an ebook, a consultation, or a video course.
You can start with something small and start seeing how your audience reacts and continue to improve your offers over time.
When you start doing your research and writing your articles, ideas will come to you on how you could help your readers even further through some in-depth valuable information or hands-on advice you wouldn’t just put in an article.
But be careful to nowt withhold information with the hopes they buy it from you. One of the keys to getting your readers to want to buy your info products is to offer them your knowledge and help first so you can gain their trust.
The following is great example of a blog called ‘Travel Fashion Girl’ selling packing guides for different destinations. Simple but valuable info product.
3. Sell ads on your blog
Selling ads is probably one of the first and most common monetization methods bloggers use. However, compared to affiliate marketing and selling your own products, ads tend to bring a lower percentage of income for most blogs.
There are 3 main type of ads you can place on your blog:
- Text Link Ads: A text link is a few words with a link that goes to a product or service that you are promoting. This type of ad is usually paid per click vs. an affiliate link where you are paid by lead or commission.
- Banner Ads: A banner ad is simply an image that when clicked, takes the user to a recommended product or service. You have surely seen them in every website and blog.
- Network Ad Script: This is a piece of code from the ad network that you place on your website. It reserves a place on your website that will then be populated with ads served up from the network.
Technically, banner ads and network ad scripts will look the same in, the difference is that in the latter one the network will rotate the ads as they find appropriate.
There are different ad network that you could work with and they all offer different cost per view and per click.
However, the ones with the better rates like AdThrive and Ezoic have a minimum requirement of monthly visiotrs you need to have to be able to apply.
I would recommend starting with Google AdSense since they have no minimum requirements and then switching to Ezoic as soon as you hit 10k views per month.
4. Sponsored Content
As your blog grows and you begin to have more visitors and recognition, you will also have the opportunity to create sponsored content for brands in your niche.
This could look like a post about a new launch, a review of one of their current offers, or a tutorial teaching your readers how to do something with one of their products.
If you are interested in working with a certain brand, you can begin by creating content about it with affiliate links so that later on you could approach them about a sponsorship potential and they see you have been sending them potential customers for a while.
IV. Content Creation: Writing money-making articles for your blog
Now that you know the main ways to monetize your blog, let’s talk about the most important piece of your blogging journey and what will allow you to make any money in the first place: your content.
That’s right, to make money with your blog you need an audience, and to have an audience you have to create content that they are searching for and that they’ll be able to find online.
This means that you need to write content that is high quality, has enough search volume, and is optimized for SEO (search engine a.k.a Google) so that you are able to rank in the top results.
So how do you achieve this?
1. Start with ‘response posts’ on low competition keywords
Response post, as the name suggests, are short posts of 1200-1500 words that answer a specific doubt your audience might have and that hasn’t yet been answered by another blog.
To find potential topics you could write about, you can start by typing questions your audience might have on Google and see if someone has already written about it. You could also check the related searches at the bottom of the results and do that same with those.
Another great way to come up with ideas for response posts is to use the website Answerthepublic. Here you simply type one topic from your niche and it’ll show you all the related queries that have ever been made online about it.
Take for example the keyword ‘weight loss’ (not one I would recommend going for). But to use it as an example, you put it on the website and it’ll show you a result like the following one giving you hundreds of ideas.
You would then need to go on google and search for them to make sure they haven’t been answered yet, (or have been answered poorly).
Finding those ‘gaps’ on questions that haven;t been answered yet will allow you to rank easier on google since there is technically no competition.
Bear in mind that this specific questions might not have a big search volume but the purposes of this post is to get Google to start ‘trusting’ you by ranking you for low competititon keyowrd so they can later on ‘trust’ you with more competitive ones.
I would recommend starting with around 10 response posts and then moving on to the next step.
2. Go for higher volume – low competitions keywords
Once you have done some response posts, you should go for topics with a higher search volume than can bring a significant amount of traffic to your blog.
There are different tools you can use to do this research like semrush, ahref and ubersuggest. I actually use most of them and like to compare and complement the results, but if I were to choose the one I use the most it’d be ubersuggest.
Here is an example of what to look for when doing your research:
- Search volume: You want the search volume to be above 1,000
- SEO Difficulty: This is how competitive and difficult to rank for the keyword is. You want the SD to be 20 to 30 maximum.
- Domain Score: This is how google quantifies the authority of the ranked sites. If all the results have a DS of 60+ I would stay away from that keyword. On the other hand, if some results have a DS of 50 or less, you have a higher chance of ranking as a new blog.
3. Create a better resource
Finding a keyword with enough search volumen and not too much competition has won you half of the battle. But to have a real chance at ranking at Google’s top results you need to create a better resource to what is already out there.
After doing your keyword research with one onf the tools mentioned, go to google and take a look at the results that are ranked 1st and 2nd. Now go ahead an create something better.
Bear in mind that on ‘Google’s eyes’ longer usually equals better which makes sense. A more in depth, complete resource of 3000-3500 words has a lot more chances of ranking than a shorter, simple post.
So take your time and make sure the content you create is better and more complete than your competitors’. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you, remember that this is a long-term business and a good post can rank in Google and bring you passive income for years.
4. Make content that sells
Finally, when choosing your article you want to have in mind how you are going to monetize them. Is is a review for an affiliate offer? are you teaching your audience how to solve a problem while using one specific product?
Some of your content can bring you money through affiliate sales, other part can do it by bringing traffic that adds to your monthly views, and other can be related to an info product you have created.
Yes, you want to provide value and help your audience first, but make each piece of content you create will help your overall goals.
V. Traffic: Make money by bringing more eyes to your blog
Last but not least to the money-making-blog equation is…traffic. We have already touched on this subject throughout the article but let’s take a deeper look at how to optimize your traffic strategy and what traffic sources you can leverage.
SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization, meaning the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. Or to put it simply, trying to rank at the top of Google’s results.
With over 3.5 billion searches per day, there is no better traffic source than Google. Getting your blog post to appear on the first search result will guarantee a constant influx of traffic without you needing to do anything else.
This is why we direct all our effort to choosing ‘rankable‘ keywords and creating the best content possible. By putting all the time and work upfront, you have more chances of creating a passive and free source of traffic and hence, income.
After doing your best with the research and writing, you get to do a lot of waiting. Ranking in Google takes time especially for new blogs, which can be discouraging.
New blog posts can take between 9 to 14 months to reach their full traffic potential so keep in mind and don’t stop producing more and more content since it is the only key to make your blog grow.
2. Social Media
In parallel to optimizing your content for SEO and waiting for it to rank, you can use one of the many social media platforms available to start getting some traffic and, at the same time, showing Google you are a legit blog.
Do not get overwhelmed and waste your time by trying to master them all. Just choose one that you feel most comfortable with and focus on building a community or following where you can start sharing your articles and getting some early traffic to your blog.
3. Email List
If you have ever heard the phrase ‘the money is on the list’, I hate to say it but…it is true. Growing an email list of your own is one of the greatest assets you can have to make money online.
Most bloggers and entrepreneurs procrastinate on doing it and end up missing out on traffic and sales.
At the beggining, having a simple opt-in form where people can sign up to your list can help you bring back readers by emailing them every time you publish a new article.
And on the long haul, you are building a list of highly targeted people that will be interested in any product you want to promote, affiliate or your own.
Make sure to check out this article on how to create your own list to explode your online income.
Finally, forums like Quora and Reddit are great platforms where you can start sharing your articles to get some early traffic.
You could also connect with other content creators in your niche to do guest posts and help each other grow.
Be mindful that these sites have some serious policies to avoid spammers so make sure to provide value and add to the conversation instead of just posting your links everywhere.
Starting a blog to make money in 2020 is completely possible but it is not a get-rich-quick scheme.
Blogging is a long-term business and when taking seriously can turn into a highly profitable passive source of income.
The only thing most bloggers regret is not having started sooner so save yourself some remorse and start your blogging empire today!
Not sure if blogging is for you? Check out my beginner’s blogging guide!