Trying to figure out how to make money blogging?
You’ve come to the right place.
We’re going to explain exactly how to start a profitable blog for beginners with WordPress.
We’ll keep it simple so that by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll have your blog up and running.
You can also rest assured that you’ll be setting it up in a way that actually allows you to make money and profit.
Ready to begin? Let’s get started.
1. Figure Out Your Blog Niche/Topic
When it comes to picking a niche or a central topic that your blog will be about, it’s easy to find yourself lost in the weeds.
The truth is that there are tons of ways to be profitable with a blog, but the main thing that you need is traffic.
With traffic, there are endless ways to monetize including:
- Showing display ads: These are the advertisements that you see on most blogs out there. The owners of these websites actually get paid just for showing these!
- Using affiliate links: These are links that go to other sites that sell things. When someone makes a purchase on a site you link to using your affiliate link, you earn a commission! It’s a win-win because you’re putting your reader in touch with a product or service that you recommend or think they might find useful.
- Selling your own products: A blog is a fantastic gateway for selling your own physical and digital products. Once you have the traffic in a relevant niche, there are so many creative ways to monetize.
- Sponsored posts: Some brands will pay to have their products featured on your blog. Another great way to make some extra cash.
All that said, it’s important to pick something that you like if you want to stay motivated and keep it a long term project. This is especially the case if you don’t have much cash on hand to hire writers. If you don’t pick something that you can write about yourself, your blog will be dead in the water.
For example, this blog is about e-commerce, Kindle publishing and other ways to generate an income online (like blogging)!
This is something that I’ve been doing for over 5 years so it’s very easy for me to create content about it. It’s like second nature!
That said, make sure that your first blog is something that you think you’ll be able to write about. You don’t have to be a total pro, but make sure it’s something that you don’t find too boring or something that will go over your head.
But remember: you can monetize almost any kind of blog, especially with display ads.
As you become more advanced, you can start thinking about advanced blogging and going after huge money-making opportunities, but don’t worry about that now.
Just pick a niche, topic-set, or industry that you think you can write about. If people buy things in that niche, then it’s a plus but not required.
2. Getting a Domain and Hosting
Once you’ve come up with what you’re going to blog about, it’s time to pick a domain and get hosting.
You’ll want to think of a domain that’s easy to remember and easy to spell. Personally, I like to go for something that’s two or three words and get a .com or a .co.
Say you were going to do a blog about gardening, something like “LetsGoGarden.com” (still available at the time of writing) might be a good choice.
You can take a relevant broad word and combine prefixes, suffixes, or verbs to make it a catchy domain.
Once you move onto the next step (getting hosting), you’ll be able to check if different domains are available.
Don’t put too much time into thinking about a domain. I have some pretty bad domains that get tons of traffic.
You’re not doing billion dollar branding here and the name you pick will have very little to do with your success.
When it comes to hosting, here are my two recommendations:
- The host that I use for all of my main sites is WPX hosting. It starts at $20.83 a month (at the time of writing this) which may be a bit pricey for some beginners. However, their speed, support, and everything else about their hosting is phenomenal. I can’t say enough good things. If you have the budget for it you can click here to get started with WPX hosting now.
- If you want to get started at a lower cost, then I’d recommend going with Siteground. You can get started at $3.95 a month (sometimes less if they’re running a special). You will have to upgrade your plan down the line once you start getting decent traffic, but if you’re short on cash and just want to get started now then click here to get started with Siteground.
Side Note: Those two links above are affiliate links! See how I’m monetizing my blog by helping you start your blog? There are affiliate programs for almost everything, not just web hosting and I’ll show you how to find affiliate options in your niche a bit later.
Click the link above (or use this link) and then use the top menu to go to Hosting >> WordPress Hosting.
Scroll down to the Startup Plan then press Get Started to pick your domain.
Follow the prompts from there.
Click Start Now at the top and then click “Get Started >” on this business package.
Then press, I need a domain + hosting and follow the prompts.
3. Understanding Your WordPress Dashboard
WordPress can look pretty crazy for a first time user – let’s go over the most important things that you’ll see in your dashboard and what each of them does.
This button will bring you back to the home screen. I honestly don’t spend too much time here, but it’s where you’ll end up when you first login. It gives a quick overview of what’s going on with your site, plugins, etc so it’s worth giving it a look now and again.
This is where you’ll be spending most of your time. Posts are the bread and butter of most WordPress blog sites. To create a new post simply go to “Add New” or click “All Posts” to view all of the current posts that you have on the site.
The two main statuses that posts will have is “Draft” or “Published”. So feel free to save as a draft while you’re writing your blog posts if you don’t want something getting out into the public.
Categories will be how your blog posts are organized. Notice I said blog posts?
Categories do NOT organize pages on WordPress. Just the posts 🙂
For SEO purposes, I recommend grouping your categories by the main keyword that you’re going after.
For example, say you were going to write a series of blog posts on “kitchen cabinets”.
You would simply make a category called “kitchen cabinets” and from here you can add all of the posts revolving around kitchen cabinets.
Note: Posts that revolve around kitchen cabinets have the words “Kitchen cabinets” in their title.
Pages are really meant for things like hub pages, legal pages, home page design, etc. You won’t be making too many pages during your time as a blogger, but it’s important to know how to use them. Pages don’t get placed in categories so don’t get confused if you accidentally make a page and it doesn’t show up in a given categories blog feed.
By default, people have the ability to comment on your posts. This is the central hub that will allow you to see all of the comments ln all of your posts.
You can upload images, pdfs, and other file types here. You can also do this when you’re creating posts and pages (if you want to insert images), but they will all end up in this media library.
This is where you manage how your theme looks. Depending on which theme you pick (we recommend Generatepress)
It’s also where you set up widgets which are essentially different “sections” of your website. For example, a widget could be a menu located in a sidebar or a block of text in the footer.
Plugins are basically “add ons” to WordPress that can do anything under the sun. They’re useful for lots of different things from changing the look of your site to adding different functionalities.
But it’s important that you DO NOT go and install plugins willy nilly. We’ll tell you about the ones that you need later on.
Having too many plugins can slow your site down. Even worse, they can open up your site for security threats.
Generally speaking, you won’t need to worry about this but just make sure you don’t start installing plugins randomly.
Here you can manage everyone who has access to your site. You can add additional writers, editors, developers, etc. Down the line, I recommend a plugin called User Role Editor if you really want to customize what each role does.
But for now, don’t worry about this – just know that it exists.
There are lots of stuff you can edit in settings, but the most important parts are Permalinks and Reading.
For Permalinks, you’ll want to make sure that your site is put on the “Post Name” setting. This will ensure that your URLs don’t get cluttered with a bunch of extra stuff.
Under Reading, you can set a specific page to be your site’s homepage which you can do after you design it.
Step 4. Installing Your Theme and Getting a Logo
When it comes to getting your blog off of the ground, I like to keep things very simple.
I’m not going to spend hours upon hours working on a site’s design when a site has zero traffic.
But what I will do is install the theme I’m going to use and order a logo.
I always order my logos from Fiverr and usually don’t spend more than $10 per logo.
You can also go to Canva and design one on your own if you’re so inclined.
Click the link above and then search for “logo”. From there, you can use the filters to sort by price and find a designer that you like to have your logo done!
While the logo is being designed, it’s a great time to install a theme.
I like to use Generatepress Premium because it’s inexpensive yet extremely fast and customizable. Once you get a license, they also allow you to install it on an unlimited number of sites.
Either way, you can install the free version of Generatepress by going to Appearance >> Themes >> Add New at the top.
Once you get there, search for Generatepress. Then install and activate.
Now you have the base version of the theme which is fine, but you won’t have full control over the design and all of the features without the Premium version.
To access all of the features of Generatepress, you need to download the premium version from their website.
For now, just get everything installed and move onto the next steps until your designer delivers your logo back.
Feel free to skip to the next step until you get your logo back.
Once you get your logo back, navigate to Themes >> Customize >> Site Identity.
There you can upload your logo and get the design process started.
Once the logo is up and resized, go back to the previous menu and start customizing the other elements of your site.
You can tweak the colors, fonts, spacing of everything to your heart’s content to match the vibe of your logo.
Feel free to do some Google searching for other blogs that cover similar topics to what you want to cover during the design process. You can use their colors, typography, and logo to get inspired and create something that fits the bill. However, don’t copy them verbatim – just use it as inspiration.
Step 5. Install Necessary and Optional WordPress Plugins
Here’s a list of all of the necessary and optional WordPress plugins that you should install.
Remember, you can navigate to the WordPress plugin repository by going to Plugins >> Add New.
If you can’t find a plugin there, it usually means that you have to go to the developer’s website to download it. If this is the case, you simply need to upload the plugin by pressing the button that says “Upload Plugin” in the add new section.
This will allow you to create a title and meta description for your posts and make it much easier for the search engines to index your blog. It will also generate a sitemap that you can sync up with Google Webmaster Console.
Yoast is the SEO plugin that most bloggers rely on and the free version is more than enough to get by.
You won’t need Pretty Links right away, but it’s a great tool to create clean-looking links. For example, “BuildAssetsOnline.com/Asset” is a pretty link that we made to get to our dropshipping course titled Instant E-Commerce Asset. If you’re going to make a YouTube channel to complement your blog, you’ll definitely want this because you can easily direct your viewers where you want them to go.
WP AutoTerms (optional)
When you get these going, be sure to add links to these pages into your footer.
Nowadays, WordPress comes out of the box with the Gutenberg editor which most people think is quite difficult to use. When I start a new blog, I always get the Classic Editor for pages and posts where I’m not using Thrive Architect.
If you’re having trouble with the WordPress post editor that comes out of the box, or simply find it unintuitive, just grab the classic editor from the WordPress plugin repository.
Title and Nofollow for Links
This plugin lets you tag your affiliate links as “nofollow” and/or “sponsored”. You don’t need to know much about this yet, but this is something that’s encouraged by Google. If you are going to be including affiliate links in your first few blog posts
Thrive Architect (optional)
Thrive Architect which is part of Thrive Themes will allow you to turn your entire WordPress site into a drag and drop builder. Many new folks find it way easier to use than the normal WordPress editor.
It even allows you to create things reusable templates, tocs (table of contents) and more.
One of the main things that it’s great for is designing your homepage. It will allow you easily insert nice looking columns, transitions and anything else you might want on a homepage.
If you’re looking at a site in your niche that has a homepage you want to replicate, it will be very easy to to do in Thrive Architect.
This is an example of what your drag and drop builder will look like. Instead of using the regular WordPress editor, you can drag in blocks (on the right) onto the page. Here’s an example from our homepage:
Notice how on this image of our homepage there’s a transition along with multiple columns which house images and styled lists. This was easily built-in Thrive Architect’s drag and drop builder.
Click here to check out Thrive Architect now.
Step 6. Install Google Analytics and Webmaster Console
Google Analytics is a free tool by Google that allows you to see realtime and past visitors to your site. This is something you’ll want to install before you start blogging so that you can track your visitors and see what pages they’re landing on.
The install process is super easy, especially if you’re using Generatepress Premium which makes putting in code snippets a snap!
Here’s how the process works:
- Go to analytics.google.com and make an account.
- Follow the prompts and fill out all of the necessary information.
- During this process, you’ll be given a tracking code to put in the header of your website.
- If you have Generatepress Premium you can access the Elements function by going to Appearance >> Elements. If you don’t see it, make sure it’s activated by going to an Appearance >> Generatepress and activating all of the modules.
- Create a wp_hook element and make sure the hook is set to wp_head.
- Name this hook Google Analytics Code and paste in the tracking information supplied by Google Analytics.
- Publish this hook and your Google Analytics will be installed.
- You can use a Chrome extension called Google Tag Assistant to check the status of your analytics installation.
- When you navigate to your Analytics dashboard you can also check by going to real-time and then opening your site on your phone or an incognito browser window.
Google Webmaster Console
Here’s how to set up Google Webmaster Console. Doing so will ensure that Google begins to crawl your site right away and can detect when you publish a new post via your sitemap.
- Head over to Google Webmaster Console via this link.
- Click sign and follow the prompts to add your site.
- If you already properly set up analytics then Google should allow you to Google search console tools in a few clicks.
- If you weren’t prompted to set up your site, navigate to the top left, and click the dropdown. Then click “Add Property”
- If you’ve already installed Yoast, you can now add your Sitemap. Navigate on the left-hand side over to Sitemaps and enter your Sitemap URL: INSERTYOURSETHERE/sitemap_index.xml
- Press submit and you’re done!
Step 7. Keyword Research & Coming Up with Topics
Before you write your first blog post, you need to think about what you’re going to write about.
There are two main ways to go about getting traffic to your blog and each of them requires a slightly different approach.
- Traffic from Search Engines (SEO)
- Social Traffic (Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, etc)
Both of them have their respective place, but I personally like to focus on search engine traffic.
I like search engine traffic because once you get a page ranking on Google it’s going to stay there for a long long time.
There’s no need to go out and market your blog on social networks because the visitors come organically.
But that’s not to say that social traffic doesn’t have its place.
In fact, the best approach is to combine SEO and social traffic.
For example, on Build Assets Online we focus our efforts on getting a lot of our traffic from YouTube and our podcast.
However, we’re also ranking for keywords in the search engines such as “do you need a business license to dropship”.
It’s also important to note that the topics that Build Assets Online covers are quite competitive as they’re in the “make money and finance” space which is why we put an emphasis on social traffic for it.
We have other sites that get over 100,000 visits per month from organic search rankings without any (or very little) social media promotion.
So when you’re starting out, here’s the approach I recommend:
- Generate a list of at least 30 topics or keywords from the search engines.
- Promote those posts to places like Pinterest and YouTube which are the two best social platforms for blogging.
So how do you come up with these 30 topics?
I like to use Google itself!
Simple go to the google homepage and starting typing words that someone interested in your niche might type in.
These could be questions-focused, product-related, how to solve certain problems, etc.
Write down “phrases” or “keywords” that you see come up in the Google autocomplete. Make sure Google spits back the entire phrase.
Then, note all of these keywords down into a spreadsheet.
Try to get 50 or 100 or so.
Then go back to Google and actually search them. If you see a boatload of other blogs with the keyword in the title then skip it. If it looks like there are very few or zero blogs targeting this keyword, then keep it and make a blog post about it!
This takes practice, so don’t get discouraged if you’re not great at finding things on your first go around.
And don’t worry about finding the PERFECT keyword.
Remember, we’re going to be using a two-pronged approach with social media and search engines. This means you don’t have to put all of your eggs in one basket and stress over your keywords.
Just use the instructions above as a guideline and make your topic list.
Step 6. Make Your Social Media Accounts
At this point, you have a list of topics you want to cover and you’re almost ready to start creating your first blog posts.
But first, it’s a good idea to create your social media accounts.
The two main social media platforms I recommend focusing on are Pinterest and/or YouTube.
In the short term, Pinterest will be able to bring you quick and consistent traffic.
In the long term, YouTube will bring you consistent traffic and pay you extra money once you’re able to get your channel monetized.
But wait a second… we’re making a blog here not a YouTube channel!? I don’t want to get in front of the camera or make videos!
We get it, and that’s totally fine.
First off, if you hate the idea of making a YouTube channel to complement your blog you can totally skip it.
Second, there are tons of ways to make videos without getting on camera such as doing things like slideshows with voice overs.
So yeah, at this point be sure to make one or two of those accounts and link it up with your website.
Both YouTube and Pinterest have a short website verification process that you’ll want to follow so that they can make sure that your blog is your blog.
Remember, you can choose one or both of these platforms. It’s completely up to you.
Step 7. Set Up Your E-mail List Autoresponder
When you start getting visitors to your blog, you’ll want to be ready to start capturing their e-mail address.
There’s an old phrase in the internet marketing world that says: “The Money is in the List!”. They’re talking about an e-mail list.
The thing that makes e-mail different than other forms of media is that you own the reader’s contact information.
On social media platforms, you don’t have that kind of control. Pinterest, Facebook, or YouTube are in control of the viewer or reader, not you.
E-mail is one of the few days that gives you a way to communicate directly with your audience.
By gathering e-mail addresses and forming a relationship early with your readers. you’ll make way more money down the line.
Here are just some things that you can send to the e-mail list that can make you money:
- Launching your own e-books or info products.
- Product recommendations that you can be an affiliate for.
- Send users back to your site (where they can see ads)
- Send sponsored e-mails for brands or products that you would recommend.
For e-mail, we recommend starting with Aweber.
As you can see above, Aweber has a functionality that allows you to create a sign-up form.
These forms are very easy to embed directly onto your blog without doing any custom coding or anything crazy. To get started, I recommend using Elements on Generatepress Premium to embed an e-mail opt-in form at the bottom of every blog post.
That way when a visitor gets to the bottom of your post, they have an option to opt into your e-mail list.
Get your Aweber free trial here.
Step 8. Start Blogging!
You have your topics, your social profile(s), and now your blog should be designed and set up!
It’s time to start writing your first post.
Start by going to Posts >> Add New Post.
Be sure to include the keyword you’re going after in the title, permalink, and meta title of your post.
From there, my best advice is to simply start writing! Create the best post that you can that would satisfy someone that was searching for the topic at hand.
Pay attention to the different HTML tags that you have at your disposal. These tags are the H1,H2,H3,H4,H5,H6 and P (paragraph tags). Here are a few important things to know about the main tags you’ll be using:
- P or paragraph tags: This is what most of your content will be housed in. The text you’re reading now is in a paragraph tag.
- H1 Tag: This is always the title of your post. Never add in an additional H1 tag. It will populate automatically when you title the post.
- H2 Tag: These are your first set of subtopics. Notice how “Step 7 Start Blogging” is an H2 tag. It’s one of the main steps in this post about starting your first blog!
- H3 Tag: This is a subtopic of a subtopic. The closest H3 that you can see on this page is “HTML Tags”. Because it’s a subtopic of Step 7, I made it into an H3. When I start the next subtopic of the main topic I’ll go back to using an H2 again.
- On and On It Goes: All of the H tags are simply just subtopics of one another. You should get the idea by now!
Step 8. Syndicate Your Blog Post(s)
Once you get a blog post up, it’s time to syndicate it! You can focus on doing this one post at a time or doing it in batches once you get a bunch of them written.
It simply just depends on your preferred workflow.
Here are two variations of what I’m talking about:
- Every time you publish a blog post, make a relevant YouTube video and/or make a pin on Pinterest.
- Publish 10 blog posts and then go ahead and make 10 pins and/or 10 videos in a batch.
If you’re going to do the YouTube route, it’s important that you tell people that they can get more information on the topic on your blog. This way you can send them to your blog, get them on your email list and further engage with them.
You can also easily embed YouTube videos on your blog posts. Just click the little Embed icon next to the given video once you upload it. This is great because it adds some interactive media to your blog and fully engages users that would prefer to watch a video versus read a post. This expands your blogs reach to even more people!
Step 9. Monetize
Once you start syndicating, you’ll likely start getting some viewers to your blog! It’s not a bad idea to apply to some affiliate programs and start monetizing.
Step 10. Join the BAO Blog Blastoff Challenge (It’s Free!)
Perhaps you’ve made it through this post, followed all of the steps and have launched your first blog!
If so, congrats! We know how difficult and overwhelming it could seem the first time around.
Just in case you are in the camp of being overwhelmed, then we want to invite you to join the Build Assets Online (BAO) Blog Blastoff Challenge!
Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for the challenge using the form on this page.
- You’ll get 1 email per day for 5 days.
- Each e-mail will have an action step and a video detailing what you need to do to get your blog off of the ground.
- Follow the steps and you’ll have your first blog off of the ground within 5 days!
Already signed up for the Blog Blastoff Challenge?
You can also get 1-on-1 help from us by joining our Elite Fleet membership group. You’ll get a 1-on-1 Discord channel where you can get actionable input that can accelerate the success of your blog.