Earning an income (also known as Passive Income) from blogging is one of the best ways to make money online in 2018.
Unlike starting a brick and mortar shop blogs can be setup for less than $20 and can earn enough money to supplement your regular income, and can even surpass it.
If you are interested in passive income, making money online, and starting a successful blog, we’ve got your back! This super simple beginner’s blog tutorial will show you how to get your new blog started in less than a day.
How To Start A Successful Blog In 2018: Beginner Blogging Tutorial
There’s many ways to start a blog, but the method we’ll go through today is the most simple and straight forward.
When you’re just starting out, you definitely don’t want to over complicate things. Most blogs fail because the blog owner starts overthinking and complicates the process to a point of fault. The start-up business industry has a name for my method.
They call it “lean startup”, or in our case, just doing the minimum required steps to get started.
Why Start A Blog?
Blogging is one of the best ways to start a small business at home these days.
As I said before, your blog can be set up in a day and your startup costs can be as little as $20.
Besides for the low cost to get going, blogging allows the owner (you, in this case) to create great content about the things you love and interest you, and provide opportunities to make money while you’re doing it.
Before we get too far into this tutorial, there’s a couple things you need to know and be aware of:
- Running a successful blog requires consistency. You can’t just publish blog posts every now and then when the mood strikes, you have to make a commitment to yourself (and your potential readers) to publish on a schedule.Whether that’s once a day, three times a week, only on weekends, or whatever. Having a schedule is a lot like your regular day job, and if it hasn’t dawned on you, running a successful blog is not just a job, but it’s your business, and you are the owner.
- You probably won’t have much traffic for at least six months. The first six months are pretty grueling. You won’t see a lot of traffic, and you won’t make money unless you’re extremely lucky.Blog owners tend to abandon the idea of blogging within the first six months. It might seem that nothing is working and no one is reading your blog, except your family and friends. Successful bloggers push through these first months, with their eye on the bigger picture – long term investment in the blog.
- Just Get Started. There’s a lot of information out there on the web about starting successful blogs. You could spend all your time studying and learning how to start a blog, but in the end, never really start one yourself.Information overload. The problem that some bloggers have is that they are looking for the “surefire” method of starting a blog that doesn’t fail. Let me tell you, I’ve started over eighty blogs, and out of all of them, only three made it past the first year.It was because I was that guy. I was looking for the next best thing, and discarding blogs right and left because I wasn’t seeing the traffic. Don’t get caught up in all the tips and tricks in the beginning. Just get started and learn as you go.
- Don’t believe everything you read. If you’ve been looking at starting a blog to make money online, then chances are that you’ve read a lot of “how to” guides like this one.You’ve also seen a lot of tricks and hacks to “get traffic fast”, and possibly even seen or read blog posts about how you can “make thousands of dollars in your first thirty days”.These are all “pie in the sky” articles, and should be ignored. Most of those articles are designed to prey on people that are impetuous and don’t really care about their blog’s longevity. They’re just in it to make money fast, but as fast as the money might come in, the blog crashes as soon as Google and Bing figure out what the blog owner’s doing.It’s far better to start a blog that’s going to last years and make money over time than just start one to bring in quick cash before it dies.
Money Is Secondary; Your Readers Come First
There is a balance in the force. I know that we all want to make money for our efforts, but think about it this way:
Let’s say you go into a store, like Walmart. You want to buy a vacuum cleaner. The sales person offers you one that just looks cheap. It’s slapped together, it doesn’t run right, and it doesn’t even do what it promised to do: pick up dirt. The salesman tells you it’s $400. You think he’s daft because there’s no way you’d pay any amount of money for a vacuum that doesn’t solve your problems.
Look at it in terms of your blog.
Why should anyone want to read a blog that is just there for you?
If all it’s doing is pitching people with substandard blog posts that don’t provide any value to the reader, why would they want to buy a product or service?
If all you’re doing is throwing content up to try and make money by selling people what they don’t need, your blog will fail.
No one wants to be sold something by a snake-oil salesman, and you wouldn’t like it either.
Provide Readers With Valuable Content THEY Want!
Readers should get something out of your content, and feel that it’s really valuable. Think about this example:
Farmer’s Almanac – This little periodical is the “go to” book for farmers and gardeners. It has incredibly valuable information, from when to plant things, and how cold the winter will be, for example.
It’s sold in stores for just a few bucks. They sell hundereds of thousands of copies of this little book every year. The book retails for about $6, and even if only 100,000 copies were sold (they actually sell A LOT more), they would have made $600,000 from just a six dollar book!
If the reader finds your content extremely valuable, then they probably won’t mind taking your recommendations on products or services.
If your blog posts (and whatever you’re promoting) can solve a problem, answer a question, or fulfill a need of some kind, then your chances of success at making money online with a blog greatly increases.
Be The “GO TO” Guy Or Gal, And Money Will Come Naturally
When you have really valuable content, and when your blog is one that people refer to as an authority on a given subject, then you can ask for the sale, and rightfully so.
Many people really don’t mind buying based on recommendation when it’s someone they trust and see as knowledgeable in the field.
How Do I Setup A WordPress Blog?
Ready to get started?
I recommend using WordPress as your blogging platform.
It’s one of the easiest website content managers to learn, but it’s also free to use as you wish.
WordPress also has hundreds of thousands of great themes that change your site’s look and feel, and just as many plugins.
Plugins add additional functionality to the WordPress blog, such as opening all images in a pop up light box, opening all external links in new tabs, hiding the comment section if you don’t want to offer comments, and so much more.
The process of setting up your blog is pretty darn simple.
I am also making a recommendation for Bluehost here.
In full transparency, I do receive a small commission if you decide to take my recommendation and set up your blog with Bluehost by using this link. Bluehost is a really awesome place to host your blog because you don’t have to worry about any of the technical stuff.
It’s as simple as signing up for service, choosing your domain name (which is free with this service), and when the signup is done, they send you an email with your WordPress site’s login information!
You don’t have to touch code, know how to admin a server, or anything technical.
Bluehost does offer a hosting dashboard (called a control panel) but most new bloggers don’t ever need to use it.
Besides, I’ve found that the support team will help you make any changes to the hosting environment if you just call and ask them to.
The Bluehost WordPress Hosting Plan
Bluehost offers a lot of value:
- FREE Domain Name – Normally $12-$17/year, so take advantage of this bundle deal!
- 50GB disk space – Most WordPress blogs take less than 1GB to install and configure, leaving you plenty of room for just about all your blogging needs!
- Unlimited Bandwidth – They don’t limit how much can be uploaded or downloaded when your visitors are accessing the site
The price for hosting is just $2.75 per month when you sign up for the 36 month plan. They offer a few add ons as well, but I’d deselect both at this time, so your final price for three years is only $99. There is a 30 day money back guarantee, so you don’t have to worry about “test driving” the hosting.
If you don’t like it, get a full refund. If you don’t want to commit for the 36 month plan, then there’s also a 24 and 12 month plan, but here’s my take:
Mentally, if you just get a small plan, you’re not investing a lot into it. It might not feel like you’re starting an actual business, but more like you’re just spending money on a hobby. It’s going to be easier for you to abandon the site if you don’t have a lot invested in it.
Keep that in mind as you start your journey here.
Select Your Blog Theme
There are a lot of themes for WordPress.
Some are free, and some you pay for. Keep in mind that you kind of get what you pay for, so a free theme will look a lot more simple, or be harder to customize than a theme that you’d pay for from places like Elegant Themes or Themeforest.
Paid themes almost always offer you more customization options, such as drag and drop page builders, color and font choices and a lot more, but the features are different with each theme, free or paid, so research the themes you like carefully.
My advice is to find a theme that looks very close to what you want to start with. That way, you don’t have to spend a lot of time customizing your site to get it the way you want.
You just install the theme and for the most part, you’re good to go!
Essential WordPress Plugins
There’s a set of essential plugins that I always install on almost EVERY WordPress website I run. You’ll want to choose your own plugins based on what you want your website to do, but here’s the ones that I always install:
- Akeeba Backup – (must be downloaded from Akeebabackup.com) By far, the easiest and best backup plugin for WordPress! Top recommendation, plus it’s FREE.
- Sucuri Security – Another must have for site security. It can scan and let you know if there’s malicious activity, as well as protects the site from attacks.
- Loginizer Security – Helps to mitigate brute force attacks on the login screen. Set the number of retries and how long the ban time lasts
- TinyMCE Advanced – adds additional options and functionality to the editor. I hate it that the editor strips the HTML “P” tags, and this plugin stops that.
- Pretty Link Lite – changes affiliate links to a link on your site’s domain. Can also be used for non-affiliate, external links
- Auto Affiliate Links – automatically links certain keywords of your choosing to either affiliate or external non-affiliated links
- MashShare Social Sharer – set the images used for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest plus titles and descriptions for each
- Contact Form 7 – Very simple contact form maker that is easy to use and the form can be embedded on any page/post on your site
- All In One SEO – Most people recommend YOAST, but I prefer All In One SEO. Both are options, check them out and see which one fits your needs
- External Links – automatically opens all external links (ones that aren’t on your site) in new tabs or windows
- No Self Pings – stops the ping engine from saying there’s a new ping when you link one of your pages to another on the site
- W3 Total Cache – Makes most WordPress sites faster, and offers CDN options (for advanced blog owners)
- WP No Base Permalink – stops the “/category/…” and “/tag/…” from showing in your URL structure; shortens URLs to domain/post-url
- WP Smush – optimizes images on the fly, even if you upload straight from your phone or tablet.
Get The Essential Pages Out Of The Way
First things first. I like to start off with the essential pages:
- About page – This can be about you, your company or what you do, but there should be no “sales pitches” here. You can link to sales information from here though.
- Resources page – Resources pages are very important to give readers a “one stop shop” for all the resources you mention on your site
- Contact Me/Us Page – I always have a contact page. ‘Nuff said.
- Terms / Privacy Pages – Required for any site that sells or does affiliate marketing
You might notice that I’ve left off the homepage.
The homepage is it’s own beast. There’s two general ways to handle the homepage, based on what the template can do.
The most straightforward way is to just show your latest posts.
Your site visitors can just scroll through your posts, and it’s a very easy blog format to use.
If you are a beginner, I’d definitely go with this option. By default, almost every WordPress theme comes with this option enabled. All you have to do is start writing your blog posts.
But let’s say you have a bit of skill, or there’s someone that’s helping you build the site that has the skill.
The second way to create the homepage is based on what the given template you’ve chosen can do. Some will have a predefined layout in the page templates that will allow you to just deploy the homepage, while others will require some web development knowledge to deploy.
If you’re in doubt, just get started with the first way (latest posts) and later on when you either gain the skills or hire someone that does, move over to the latter.
Widgets sit on the sidebar (if equipped) of the site, to the left or right of content (depending on your theme). They are just boxes of information that can include menus, images, videos and so on. I like to use the widgets to provide quick information, such as the latest posts and a quick “about this site” box. Here’s some of my usual Widgets:
- Search field – allows people to search your site for information
- Menu – Secondary menu that might be categories, post tags or a list of external links, if relevant
- About Me/ About This Site – Brief info about me or site with link to the full about page
- Contact Form or Email Signup – Either one depending on the situation and content of the site
- Social Media Like/Share boxes – Usually Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram
Additional widgets could be used on your site, but that’s up to you and your content. The ones I listed above are just general widgets that I start with. During the course of building and editing the site, I might remove some or all of them depending on what I want.
How Do I Setup WordPress Categories For SEO?
I’m making a bit of a jump here, but bear with me.
Every blog post needs to go into a category. The category is simply a grouping of blog posts under a similar topic.
For example, if you had a household kitchen appliance blog where you were reviewing kitchen appliances, you might have categories such as “Baking”, “Counter Top Appliances”, “Oven Accessories”, “Coffee” and more. You’d put all the coffee related items into the coffee category of course.
Choose your categories well. WordPress allows you to “nest” categories within one another, so for example, I might have “Blog” as the top category, and then “Reviews” and “Recipes” under “blog”. By doing this, you can organize your blog posts according to topic.
The main idea here is that you want to group all similar posts together in a way that makes sense to a reader.
How Do I Write Blog Posts?
Well, we’ve come to the meat and potatoes of blogging. This is what it’s really all about. Writing really good, useful blog posts can take a while, so don’t get upset if you’re not publishing a new post three times a day.
Remeber: you want to pace yourself and stick to a schedule so that you don’t overdo it and can keep publishing on time.
Blog Post Ideas
Coming up with blog post ideas can be hard at times, and easier at others. I have two ways that really work to always have ideas for new posts:
- Best In Search Approach
- 50 Post Idea List
The best in search approach is to start looking at the posts that are coming up first in Google for similar topics and start generating a list of ideas for new posts.
Look at the top three posts for ideas, and think about how you could make the post even more useful to a reader of your blog. Put the blog post in a list to come back to when you need ideas.
The 50 post idea list can actually build itself from the first method above.
Listing the ideas that are already doing well in the searches, and then making them even better is the “low hanging fruit”, but you probably will also come up with your own ideas as well. Jot those down too.
The idea is to get enough post ideas that you never have to stare at a blank screen and wonder what you’ll write about at any time.
How To Write Awesome Blog Posts That Get Likes and Shares?
You could definitely write a blog post from start to finish. Many people do it that way.
I like to start a few blog posts ahead of time just by writing the outline of the post.
Remember back in school when you wrote the outline (the night before the paper was due LOL) by just creating Titles, Headers, Intro and Conclusion? Same applies here.
You can go back later and fill in the paragraphs to complete your blog post in record time since the structure is already there.
If you want to have a very successful blog, here’s a pro tip:
Don’t write the blog posts as if you’re your own audience. Write the blog post with your target audience in mind. The blog post should:
- Answer a burning question they have
- Solve a problem
- Make their lives easier if they do what you’re suggesting
- Entertain them
Essentially, you need to think of the audience first. Your content should appeal to them, and they should always feel like they got something worthwhile from your blog posts every time they read. A blog post should always accomplish at least one of those things.
I like to repeat the questions readers have in some of the headers.
Repeating the questions does a lot for your audience.
First, if they have the same or similar question, they will stop to see your answer instinctively. If they’re on your site for something else, the question might pique their curiosity enough that they’ll stay and read the blog post.
Second reason for putting questions in the headers is that when a blog post you write shows up on the first page of Google, it might qualify for Position Zero:
When a given page on your site appears on that first page in Google, and your post answers the right question, and at Google’s discretion, they might select your question to show at the top of all search results for that question.
Of course, if that happens, it’s pretty awesome.
Find out what readers really want.
Guessing isn’t an option in my book because chances are, you’ll be off the mark since your point of view is different than your readers.
Your mindset while writing the blog post might also be different, so you may end up answering your own questions, not those that your readers have.
Finally, add eye-catching imagery and/or videos
You want to give your audience a break from all the textual content.
I believe putting in a few pictures helps in many ways. It gives the reader a visual representation of what you are writing about, which is great when they’re scanning the page to see if it’s worth the time to read. Pictures can also show people what you mean if you can’t articulate the intent well.
I like to add captions to the images so that screen readers (and devices like Amazon Echo or Dot) can tell the person what the image is by it’s caption.
Including videos, especially when it’s a product review or test is essential to give the audience a better idea of the things that aren’t easily described. Size, clues to how much something weighs, how it’s used, and so on.
In the beginning however, focus on your content and images.
Videos are something that if you’re not familiar, will take a long time to learn and include. Just start simple, but keep the video idea in the back of your mind.
Publishing WordPress Posts
Once you are done with the writing, editing, adding of images and videos, and proofing your blog post again, it’s time to publish.
It’s not as scary as some people think. In the beginning, no one is going to see your post right away, so if you publish it and find a mistake, or want to add more, not many people at all will have seen it. When your blog becomes popular, and you are getting hundreds or thousands of visitors a day, you might have to be a bit more careful, but when you’re just starting out, it’s a good time to watch what you’re doing, find out your strengths and weaknesses, and really, no one is going to be the wiser.
When Can I Make Money With My Blog?
I hope that this blog post has given you some idea on how to get started with making money online. Even though we didn’t cover the making money part, there’s a reason.
You need to have traffic and visitors to the site first. If the first time that Google crawls your site to index it, and it finds a bunch of affiliate links, your site might not be listed as high as it could have been to start with. There isn’t hard evidence that this is a fact, but in all the sites that I’ve created, those that had a lot of affiliate links when the site was scanned the first time in Google, never took off. Those that didn’t have those links did well.
Adding links to affiliate sites that earn a commission when someone buys can be done after the site’s been up for a bit and you have a steady stream of traffic coming to the site. I recommend adding links to your blog posts after you’re seeing 100 unique visitors a day or more. Even then, keep the non-affiliate link to affiliate link around a 4:1 ratio per every 1000 words.
So for a 1000 word article, you would have a total of five links (in this example). Four go to regular websites without using an affiliate link, while one is an affiliate link, and only after you have some regular traffic.
Now, if someone is holding a gun to your head and telling you that you MUST include an affiliate link or two in the beginning (like a boss that only sees money, for example), then go ahead and do it, but only, ONLY at the bottom of the post, and nowhere near the top. Make sure that the content
By not putting in affiliate links right away, you can focus on writing really good content. If you were to try making money right out of the starting gate, you’d have no traffic to begin with, Google probably wouldn’t list your site as high, and you’d get dejected that no one is buying anything.