If you’ve ever searched for how to make money online, you’ve probably come across the idea of blogging for money.
For some people, blogging is a fun and creative hobby. For others, it’s an extremely profitable business!
There are a lot of resources out there about how to make money blogging. To start with, I held back from adding to the noise – because I wanted to prove that it was possible first.
(There are heaps of ‘make money blogging’ tutorials written by people who’ve never made a penny from their blogs. Why should you take their advice?!)
Well, last summer – less than two years after I started my blogging journey – I started to make more money blogging than in my day job. A few months later, I quit my job to become a full time blogger!
I get a lot of questions on how I did it and how to make money from blogging, so I decided to write this comprehensive step-by-step guide for beginners.
Are you interested in the idea of starting a blog to make money? Bookmark this page, work through the steps, and most importantly, stick at it!
If I can do it, you can, too 🙂
By the way, this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I may earn a commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!
Why start a blog for money?
There are literally hundreds of different ways to make money online.
So why start a blog?
Well, blogging is fun, creative and extremely profitable!
It’s a completely flexible side hustle. You can write about whatever topics interest you. You can set your own schedule and hours. This makes it easy to fit around a full time job or a family.
(Easier than getting a part time job outside the home, anyway!)
You will also learn loads of super useful skills, like copywriting, social media management, SEO and even basic HTML.
And when it comes to earning potential, the sky’s the limit! Literally, some of the top American bloggers make hundreds of thousands each month.
There don’t seem to be so many of us UK bloggers doing this professionally, but it’s still totally possible to make a good income here.
I currently make over £3,000 a month blogging, so I’m proof that you can make money blogging in the UK! Another successful UK blogger is Emma Drew, who runs a six figure blogging business.
Blogging is also a very affordable business. There are very few business models that you can start for so little money. But you can start a blog from just £2.95 a month, plus around £12 yearly for your domain name.
This is amazing when you think about how much it would cost to start a traditional business!
How fast can you make money blogging?
Before you start, you should know that blogging is not an easy or quick way to make money online.
Blogging for money requires a huge time investment.
Yes, we’ve all read these amazing case studies of bloggers who made hundreds in their first few weeks.
But these people are the exception, not the rule.
From my own experience – and the experience of the many, many bloggers I’ve chatted to online – it takes around three to six months to start making any money from your blog, and about a year to make a consistent income.
Here is an interesting report on how much you can make in your first year blogging. You’ll see it is definitely possible to get the income ball rolling, but it’s unlikely to be quit-your-job money.
But after that first year, it gets easier and easier. Your traffic and income all just start to snowball!
So if you want to start a blog, I encourage you to commit for at least a year. That’s when you’ll really start to see returns on your hard work.
If you just want to make cash fast, blogging is not for you.
But if you want to build a sustainable, flexible, lifestyle business – and you’re willing to put in the work to make that happen – blogging could be just what you’re looking for!
Right. Let’s get started!
How to start a blog to make money: the step-by-step guide
First off, you need to decide the topic of your blog.
What should you blog about?
If you are starting a blog to make money, it helps to choose a lucrative niche.
This post has some GREAT information on which niches make the most money.
However, it is possible to make money in almost any niche.
Some ideas include home decor, personal finance, DIY, health, frugal living, gardening, homesteading, fashion, parenting, travel, food and pets.
I recommend choosing a niche over a general lifestyle blog, because it seems to be quicker to build success. When all your posts relate to the same topic, it’s easier for readers (and search engines – don’t underestimate the importance of this) to understand what you’re all about and to see you as an authority in your field.
My biggest tip is to choose a topic you can talk about all day. You will need to spend a LOT of hours on your site and write dozens, possibly hundreds of articles on this topic.
What’s the one thing that your friends and family always come to you for advice on?
Don’t choose something you don’t care about just because you think it will make you money. You’ll probably burn out and give up.
Choose a domain name for your blog
A domain name is your web address. For example, my domain name is www.boostmybudget.com.
You want something that’s easy to remember and easy to spell. Shorter is better.
Google whatever name you come up with to make sure it isn’t taken and doesn’t have any weird connotations!
Your domain name is really important, so take some time to think it over. If you’re stuck for ideas, try brainstorming words related to your niche on a piece of paper.
Also, you will probably want to set up social media profiles in your blog name. Namechk is a useful website that lets you check whether a name is available across lots of different platforms.
I recommend that you register all the key social media profiles early on, even if you won’t use them right away, to make sure nobody else takes them!
You can register your domain name at the same time you sign up for hosting. That’s the next step.
Choosing a host for your blog
A web host is simply the platform that makes sure your website is online.
It sounds technical, but it really isn’t.
Think of it like renting a little piece of internet to put your website on.
I have experience with several different hosts, including Bluehost, WebHostingHub and SiteGround.
Bluehost was OK but slow. WebHostingHub was TERRIBLE in too many ways to list.
And SiteGround is excellent!
My site speed got a lot faster on SiteGround. Their support team answers you straight away, should you ever need them (I never had to wait more than a minute on live chat). They have almost no downtime, and they are simple to use.
SiteGround have a one-click website installer which is very easy even for complete beginners.
Also, SiteGround offers a free https security certificate which will be a requirement for all websites in future and helps you do better in Google searches. Don’t worry about that too much if you’re a beginner, but trust me, you’ll be grateful further down the line!
In the interests of transparency, I have recently moved away from SiteGround myself to a small local hosting company. This is because blogging is now my full-time income and I needed to pay more for the extra level of support (not to mention increased page views and storage).
However, SiteGround is still my number one recommendation for beginners, as one of the cheapest, easiest and fastest hosts out there 🙂
What about free blogging platforms?
So you might be wondering, why do I have to pay at all? Aren’t there free blogging sites?
Yes, there are sites that let you have a blog for free. However, these are really designed for personal blogs – the sort that you write as a diary and only ever expect your friends to read.
If you are setting up a blog to make money, you really need to pay for hosting and a domain name from the start.
Firstly, the free hosts have some restrictions over what you can do to monetise your site.
Secondly, it doesn’t look as professional. Many brands won’t work with you, and it is harder to win trust with your readers.
Which looks more professional and authoritative: boostmybudget.com or boostmybudget.weebly.com?
Thirdly, you don’t own your content on these free sites. In theory the free blog platforms could remove your blog at any time.
I know several bloggers who started blogging on a free site and had to move over to a paid platform later when they were ready to make money from their sites. It’s possible to move, but it’s huge headache.
Trust me, if you want to blog for profit, you need to pay for a good hosting service!
Since professional hosting is only a few pounds per month it’s not a huge investment. It’s 100% worth it if you want to make money blogging.
But if you are totally set on starting a blog for free, I would recommend this site. With a free membership, you get two free websites, as well as beginner training and support to help you get set up. This can be a great way to dip your toes in the blogging waters for free. You will need to upgrade in the long run though!
How to start your blog on SiteGround
If you decide to go with SiteGround like me, just click here to sign up for your hosting plan.
You will see several options. The StartUp plan is what you need if you just want the one blog.
(I definitely don’t recommend starting more than one at the same time!)
You can upgrade easily later on if you do start another site, or if you start to get a lot of traffic and outgrow the starter plan.
Click ‘get started’ on your chosen plan.
Now you get to register the domain name that you thought of earlier!
Now it’s time to enter your personal details…
… and your payment info!
You can choose to pay monthly, or you can pay for one or two years upfront. The longer the period you sign up for, the cheaper it will be in the long run. I recommend paying for the longest period you can afford because you will save money over time.
Hurray! You did it! You are the proud owner of your very own blog 🙂
Click on the Proceed button to access your new blog.
Installing WordPress on your new SiteGround blog
Now you have your website and hosting set up, you need to install WordPress.
Ok, so SiteGround is the host that buys you a little piece of the internet and makes sure your blog is online. WordPress is the platform where you write posts, add images, change your blog’s appearance, answer comments… basically all the day-to-day blogging stuff.
You need both of them. And don’t worry, WordPress is free!
I know all this makes your head spin when you’re new to blogging, but honestly, it all makes sense once you just get started!
One of the reasons I recommend SiteGround is because they have the one-click WordPress installation.
Once you finished your SiteGround registration, you should see the following popup. Click ‘Get WordPress’, and you’re done!
When the installation is complete, it will take you to your WordPress dashboard. It will look something like this (but less busy, since you won’t have any posts or plugins yet!):
In future, you will log into this WordPress dashboard to write posts and edit your site. You won’t actually have to use the SiteGround site very often. It will just buzz away in the background, doing its thing and keeping your site online 🙂
Writing your first blog post on your new blog
Blog posts are the most important part of any blog.
Ready to write your first blog post?
Click on ‘Posts’ from your WordPress dashboard, and then ‘Add New’. The post editor looks like this:
It is very easy to use. You can see that you can add text effects like bold, italic, bullet points and so on, just like in Word.
Wondering what’s the difference between a ‘post’ and a ‘page’?
Posts are for new content on the topic of your blog. You should add new posts regularly. They will show on the homepage of your blog (also called the ‘blogroll’) and in category pages, most recent first. They will usually show the date published (unless you specifically turn this off).
Choosing and installing a blog theme
A blog ‘theme’ is a template that affects how your blog looks.
You can easily change this later on if you want, but it makes sense to choose one you like from the beginning.
When you first start, your blog will automatically have a free basic WordPress theme. You can keep this theme, or find a new one.
There are paid themes and free themes. Most themes are very customisable, meaning you can change the colours, fonts and even the layout. So don’t worry too much about finding the perfect theme.
However, if you do find one you love from the start then it will definitely cut down on the time you spend fiddling with it!
Boost My Budget uses a free theme from Colorlib.
If you want to invest in a paid theme, there are hundreds of different options.
I use Extra theme on one of my other blogs. It takes some getting used to, but I think it looks extremely professional and you can create almost unlimited looks.
Bluchic has beautiful feminine WordPress themes.
Pipdig has stylish minimal themes which I love.
Themeforest has a HUGE selection of themes in every category.
You can even buy blog themes on Etsy! This might be a more personal touch and its always nice to support small businesses.
Once you’ve found your theme, you download it as a zip file. Then you can upload it in the ‘Appearance’ section of WordPress and apply it to your site.
Getting traffic to your new blog
Before you can think about making money from your blog, you need to start getting traffic.
You will never make any money from your blog if nobody’s reading it!
Now, I’ll warn you upfront: when you first start blogging, nobody will read your blog.
Well, perhaps your mum and your best friend. But nobody else. You will sit there refreshing your stats 100 times a day, and literally see no hits.
Don’t be discouraged!
It always takes time to get traffic to a new blog. It just takes time for people to find you and for search engines to recognise and trust you. That’s just the way it is.
That’s why I said it usually takes around 6 months to start making money with your blog. It usually takes this long just to start appearing in Google searches.
The important thing is to understand that the time you’re spending on your blog is an investment. People can still come along and discover the very first articles you wrote 6, 12 or 24 months later. So take pride in all your content, and keep plugging away.
That said, there are two things I think you should focus on for getting traffic to your new blog: Pinterest and SEO.
In my experience (and the experience of many of my successful blogging colleagues), Pinterest is the best way to get visitors to a new blog in the short term. And SEO is the best way to get consistent, valuable traffic to your blog in the long term.
Let’s take a closer look:
My top recommendation to get visitors as a new blogger is Pinterest.
Pinterest is the best way to get traffic fast as a new blogger because it’s both a social media site and a search engine.
All the images (‘pins’) on this board were created by me, and they all link back to posts on my blog. I get hundreds of visitors a day from people clicking on my pins. Sometimes they are searching for a topic that I write about (such as ‘how to make money online’), and sometimes one of my images will just catch their eye in the home feed and they’ll click through out of curiosity.
Unlike other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it doesn’t really matter how many followers you have. People will find your content if they are searching for the topics you write about. This means you can start getting traffic from a brand new account.
Also unlike Facebook and Twitter, your pins can carry on bringing in traffic for a long time after you first share them – even years later!
Pinterest is a visual platform, so the look of your pins is very important. Pins should be vertical (portrait) orientation. They should have eye-catching images and very clear, easy-to-read text.
I create all my Pinterest images on the free site Canva. They even have pin templates that you can use if you’re stuck for design ideas!
Since Pinterest is a search engine, the best way to get your pins found is to use keywords. These are words that people are searching for. You can find these by seeing what words Pinterest suggests to you when you start searching for your topic.
Use keywords in your pin title, description, board names and even your profile.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the art of making your blog appear high in the search results on Google and other search engines.
SEO traffic is the best kind of traffic in my opinion, because it’s completely passive! Once you get to spots 1-3 in the Google search results for a particular term, you will get a constant flow of traffic without having to do much more. No constant repinning or sharing on social media.
SEO traffic is the kind of traffic that allows you to make passive income, and achieve the blogger’s dream of making money with your feet up on the beach 😉
However, SEO takes a while to kick in. When you launch a brand new blog, it usually takes around 6 months to start appearing in Google searches at all.
This is because there are gazillions of terrible sites out there, and Google don’t want to show their readers any old rubbish. It has to learn and trust your site. You can help them trust you by publishing consistent, regular, good quality content over time.
The good news is that the better you get at SEO, and the longer your site’s been around, the easier it will get to rank.
I will have a new post on SEO for beginners coming out soon, but in the meantime, here’s a very thorough resource to check out.
I recommend learning about SEO and applying some best practices from the start. But don’t stress too much about it in your first six months or so.
Other ways to get traffic
The most obvious way is probably social media. Some bloggers get loads of traffic from Facebook, Twitter or another source.
However, as I said, most social media channels are a lot more time consuming than Pinterest, and not as effective. You can burn out if you try to do too many things at once! So I strongly suggest focusing on Pinterest first of all, and exploring other social media channels later 🙂
Here’s a quick list of other potential ways you could try to get traffic to your new blog:
- Start your own Facebook page and/or group
- Join relevant niche Facebook groups, take part in discussions, and drop links when appropriate (check group rules first and don’t spam!)
- Reddit (again, become part of the community first and don’t spam!!)
- Niche relevant internet forums
- Answer questions on Quora and add relevant blog links if appropriate
- StumbleUpon (now Mix)
- Share on your personal Facebook page
- Ask friends, family and colleagues to follow your blog
- Print out business cards and hand them out, or post on public noticeboards such as in your coffee shop or library
- Network with other bloggers and share their content – many of them will return the favour
- Leave helpful, relevant comments on other blogs. Some people may click through to learn more about you.
- Look for blog link up parties, ‘Linky’s and link exchanges in your niche (blogging Facebook groups can be a good way to learn more about these)
- Offer to write guest posts for other bloggers
- If you write a review or article about a brand, tag them when you share the post on social media and they may share it for you
The best channel for you will depend on your niche and your audience. It’s worth taking some time to research where your potential audience hangs out. There may be niche forums or social media sites, for example, which are very active in your niche.
How to make money with your blog
So, now you have a blog!
But how will you actually make money with your blog? That’s what we’re all here for, after all.
There are several different ways that bloggers make money. Here are some of them:
- Affiliate marketing
- Advertising (through an ad network such as Google Adsense that automatically places ads on your site)
- Placing private ads or banners for individual clients
- Sponsored posts
- Selling digital products (ebooks, courses etc)
- Brand ambassadorship
- Membership site (readers pay a subscription to access exclusive content)
- Freelance services (writing, editing, proofreading, social media etc)
- Working as a VA (Virtual Assistant)
- Public speaking engagements (in this case, as with a couple of others above, you would be using your blog as a launchpad rather than making money from your blog directly)
- Sell your blog (a blog is an asset that can be sold in the same way as any other business. Some people even make money by buying, improving and reselling blogs, in the same way that you can flip houses.)
Most bloggers will NOT use all of these methods, so don’t try to take on too much and burn yourself out!
I recommend that you just focus on one or two ways of making money in the beginning. You can explore additional income streams once you get into your groove.
For example, I make most of my money from the following three methods, in this order:
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsored posts
My current goal is make my income as passive as possible, so I am planning to phase out sponsored posts. Instead, I plan to create and sell some digital products of my own.
Remember, making money from a blog does take time. You will almost always need a high amount of traffic before you start making significant money. And traffic takes time to build up.
I have a separate post than goes into much more detail on the best ways for beginners to make money blogging.
But let’s have a quick look at the most common ways here:
Affiliate marketing is when you promote a product or service that you love, and you make a commission on any sales or sign-ups that happen through your link.
I currently make over 50% of my income from affiliate marketing. It’s my favourite way to make money as a blogger, because it’s mostly passive!
By this I mean that you write an affiliate blog post once, and it has the potential to make money over and over again without any additional work from you. Every time a new visitor lands on that same old blog post, you have the chance to make additional sales.
There are posts I wrote two years ago that still bring me a regular income in affiliate sales without me lifting a finger. See why I love it? 🙂
Affiliate marketing works with almost any product or service you can think of. Almost every online retailer has an affiliate program these days. I list some of the companies I use in this post.
To use affiliate marketing in an effective and non-spammy way, please only promote products you trust and truly recommend. Ideally, they should be products you’ve used yourself.
Affiliate marketing works best in content such as ‘how to’ posts/tutorials, and reviews.
Don’t just shove affiliate links down your readers’ throats – you need to provide genuinely helpful content that demonstrates the benefit of the product you’re recommending.
The post you’re reading now is one example!
In this post on starting a blog to make money, I’ve provided detailed instructions on setting up your own blog with Siteground. The links to Siteground in this post are affiliate links. I used Siteground myself (until my blog outgrew them) and sincerely rate them as the best host for beginner bloggers.
So if you decide to sign up with Siteground as a result of this post, you benefit from an honest recommendation (and hopefully a useful tutorial), Siteground gains a new customer, and I get a commission to say thanks for spreading the word. It’s win-win-win!
This is my second top way to make money blogging. It’s also very passive once you’re all set up.
You can sign up with ad networks who will give you a bit of code to place on your blog, and then ads will show automatically. You get paid per view and/or click on the ads. Because of this, the profit you can make from ads is directly related to your traffic.
For new bloggers, the easiest ad networks to start with are Google Adsense and Media.net.
You will likely only earn a few pennies a day with ads when you’re starting out, but it’s still probably the easiest way to start earning something straight away! And it can be surprisingly motivating to see some money coming in at the beginning, even if it’s not very much 🙂
Once your traffic grows, you can apply for more selective ad networks that pay much better. Some of these are Mediavine, Monumetric and Adthrive.
I’m currently with Mediavine and I love them! Since joining them, I make over a quarter of my income from ads.
To apply for Mediavine, you need a minimum of 25,000 user sessions per month. This makes a great goal to aim for over your first year or two of blogging.
It took me about 18 months to get there, but it was a real turning point in my blogging career when I made it.
On one of my other blogs, I have ads by Monumetric. They require a minimum of 10,000 page views per month. They pay much better than Adsense and they’re a great option before you hit Mediavine levels.
Sponsored posts are another popular way to make money blogging. This is when a company asks you to publish a post mentioning them, and they pay you to do it.
Sometimes the company wants you to write the post, and sometimes they will provide a pre-written post.
Sponsored posts are not passive income, because obviously you have to spend time writing them. Not to mention all the time negotiating with the company, invoicing, and so on.
But they can potentially be very profitable. They are a good way to get a quick cash hit in the earlier days of blogging when you aren’t making much from ads.
It’s difficult to say how much you can make from sponsored posts because it varies massively! Some bloggers with large audiences earn upwards of $1,000 per post. But when you start out, you’re likely to be offered just $20-$50 or so.
A lot of companies try to take advantage of newer bloggers and offer insultingly low fees. The lowest I’ve been offered is $5!!
Remember, it’s your blog, and you get to be picky about what you publish. Don’t say yes to every opportunity, no matter how desperate you are for cash. You’ll only annoy your readers and damage your blog in the long run.
This is where it helps to have blogging friends and join blogging groups on Facebook so you can discuss things like fees with them.
I’ve mentioned a few places where you can find sponsored posts in this post. You can also find opportunities on Twitter under the hashtags #prrequest, #bloggerswanted and #bloggersrequired.
Once you get a little bigger, companies will start to approach you, too.
If you would welcome sponsored posts, it can help to make a ‘work with me’ page on your blog, describing the sort of opportunities you’re looking for. Also consider making a media kit. This is a document showcasing your stats, audience profile and fees. You can find templates to make media kits for free at Canva.
Your path to starting a blog to make money
Ok, there’s a lot of information in this post, so let’s quickly recap and outline the key steps you need to take in order to start making money blogging:
- Choose a blog name and niche
- Set up your blog on Siteground. Install WordPress.
- Start writing posts! It’s important to be consistent in publishing posts. Set yourself a posting schedule that you can stick to (for example, mine is once a week on a Tuesday) and commit to posting at least once a week for a year.
- Create a blog Pinterest account. Create at least one pin for each post in Canva, and share on Pinterest with a well-keyworded description.
- Learn about SEO and start optimising your posts for SEO. But don’t freak out if you don’t see any results for at least six months.
- Decide which monetisation method might work best for you, and take steps to make that happen.
Obviously this is an extremely bare bones outline and there is a lot more detail we could go into. But I wanted to give you some kind of basic roadmap to follow, as well as practical steps for getting started.
If you need more help, a fantastic and very comprehensive blogging course for beginners is Turn Your Dreams Into Money by Emma Drew. It covers everything from the practical side of setting up your blog, to setting up an email list, creating your own products, becoming a brand ambassador, getting media coverage – all kinds of things I haven’t touched on in this post.
Emma is a very successful British blogger, so her course is great if you want to learn how to make money blogging in the UK.
Of course, you don’t have to be in the UK to benefit from her course. Most blogging principles are universal. But I sometimes feel like the blogging space is dominated by Americans, so it’s nice to learn from the experiences of a fellow Brit 🙂
Ready to make a blog and make money?
There is a LOT more we could talk about when it comes to how to write a blog and make money.
In this post, I aimed to make a comprehensive guide on how to make money with a blog for beginners. I wanted to show you how to actually set up your blog and get it online, and then point you in the right direction to monetise it.
There is a lot of information to take in, but I hope it’s helped! You can always bookmark this page and come back to it.
Remember, blog success doesn’t happen overnight.
Just get started. Pick a name, get your hosting, start writing your first few posts and exploring WordPress. You’ll get there step by step 🙂
Enjoy your new blog!