How to start a blog and make money: the one and only guide you need!

Follow the detailed steps to start making money online from blogging today!

Want to learn how to start a profitable blog in 2023?

No problem. Actually, I started another blog late last year and already earned $1,500 within four months! Also, I have a profitable travel blog that made my first $10,000 before the pandemic.

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The honest truth about blogging

It took me two years to earn my first $10,000 for my travel blog since I did not know how to do it first. Once I figured it out and started another blog, I quickly made $1,500 with my four-month blog.

More than 70% of blogs do not make money online, but I will share how I did it all in this blog in this post.

If I can do it, you can also do it as long as you have the right strategies in place. Besides, I have no marketing background. It’s not easy to make money online from blogging, but I always believe that you can do it if you set your mind for it.

So, are you dedicated to starting a profitable blog?

If yes, then let’s start right away!

Remember this before you start:

Always treat your blog like a business!

If you want your blog successful or popular, remember this:

  • Always treat your blog like a business.
  • Don’t post whatever you like, but focus on what your readers want.
  • Have a clear strategy for your blog! Every company has a plan and strategy for its business; you should also have one for your blog!
  • Have multiple income streams. You will know more in step 6.

How much does blogging cost?

One of the most frequently asked questions from my readers. I will answer it honestly.

It is not expensive to start a blog, so many people would like to make money from blogging. However, you do need a lot of time for it.

You don’t need to invest a lot to make a profitable blog.

You can spend a lot or a little on your blog. It all depends on your budget. I started my blog with only a little money since I did not have much budget for it. When the blog started to make money, I invested in it more.

To start a blog, you must need web-hosting: it’s like a place to store your website content in the cloud, so people read what you create online. You cannot avoid this cost. How much does it cost then? Only $2.95 per month only if you use my link to buy web hosting PLUS a free domain for the first year (special deals for my readers!)

A paid WordPress theme is also worth the investment. Your WordPress thing is the first impression your readers get when they read your blog.

The price for themes varies, but the average cost is around $80. Click here for the best WordPress theme for female bloggers!

7 Detailed Steps to start a profitable blog in 2023

When I just started, there were not many posts sharing detailed guides about starting your blog. They didn’t give me the full picture of blogging, like what I need to do now and what I need to do afterward.

This post shares everything you need to know as a new blogger. I tried to cover everything you need to know about blogging, but it might be too much information for a starter.

This post shares all the things you need to know to make a profitable blog. If you are interested in more advanced blogging skills, please check my other posts or subscribe to my newsletter to regularly get the advanced skills you need.

Chapter 1: Pick the right niche!

What is a niche exactly?

A blog niche is a specific topic you write in your blog. If your blog is about travel, then your niche is travel.

Niche is the critical factor for a profitable blog. If you choose a profitable niche, you can make much higher chances from it and even faster!

According to a recent study from the Brand On Gaille website, the most profitable niches for blogs are Personal Finance (24%), Marketing (21%), Food (17%), Lifestyle (15%), and Travel (11%).

The most profitable niche. Source: Branongaille

However, since these topics are profitable, it is also very competitive. It would be best if you narrowed it down into a very specific topic to be successful. Therefore, I recommend you start a narrowed niche blog that only talks about a particular topic.

For example, if you have a food blog, you need to narrow it down to talk about a specific Food type, like only talks about power food.

Like my successful and profitable travel blog, it only talks about a specific country. Once you narrow it down to a particular country, readers will be more likely to trust what you write and buy what you recommend.

So, did you choose a profitable niche? Did you narrow down your niche?

Step 2: Set Up Your Blog

Ultimate Guide to start a profitable blog in 2023!
Easy to start your blog!

Step 2 is the only tech setup in this guide.

I know many people dislike technical terms or are not good with computers. No worries, I made this step very simple and easy for you!

In this step, you need to finish three things:

  • Step 2-1: Pick a domain name
  • Step 2-2: Choose a web hosting plan and company
  • Step 2-3: Setup your blog
  • Step 2-4: Choose Your WordPress Themes
  • Step 2-5: Your Blog settings

Step 2-1: Pick a domain

A domain name is just like the address to your home address. People can only visit you if they have your address.

For blogging, you need a domain so that people can visit your blog! In short, a domain is the address of your website that people type in the browser URL bar to visit your website.

A domain = website name + domain extension

For us, our domain = Her online empire + .com (http://heronlineempire.com)

A good website name meets the following criteria:

  • Easy to remember
  • No difficult wording
  • Show your personality
  • Related to your blog niche
  • Your name (if you want to build a personal brand)
  • Relate to your target audience (optional)

For example, Her Online Empire aims to help women start their online business, make extra money online, and become the person they want to be. Therefore, I put “her” as part of our domain name since we have women as our target audience. Since all our activities are online, we took an “online empire” in our domain name. Besides, “heronlineempire.com” is easy to remember and understand what the website is about.

What’s your blog is about? who your target audience? You can use the same approach for your domain name.

If you would like to build a personal brand, it is good to use your name as your domain name.

Which domain extension to have?

.com is always the best option. If it’s not available, .co is also a good choice.

.com is the best option since it’s widely recognized. However, it is not easy to have if you have a popular website name. If that happens, .co is a good alternative since it’s also widely used worldwide, and it is also easy to remember.

Once you have your ideal domain ready..

Be sure to check if your ideal domain is still available now on the market before we proceed to the next step.

If you are struggling with your domain name, I suggest you write them all down and ask people around you or Facebook Groups.

Asking other people gives you confidence and inspires you to have better domain names or blogging ideas!

Step 2-2 Choose a web hosting plan and company

After picking your domain name, it is time to choose a web hosting plan!

In this step, you need to decide two things:

  • Your blogging platform
  • Your web hosting company

Which blogging platform for your blog?

 There are many blogging platforms to choose from, and I highly recommend WordPress.org!

Here is the reason why you should use WordPress.org:

  • Around 40% of the websites used WordPress.org
  • The best option for blogging
  • No monthly costs if you use WordPress.org
  • Many free and useful tools to help you run your blog
  • A lot of helpful free resources online in case you have any questions. Many people can help
  • You have full control over your blog, like where you want to display ads, and not one can force you to display ads if you don’t want to.

However, every tool has pros and cons. I am honest with you here: WordPress.org is not the most user-friendly tool, but it only takes 2-3 weeks to get used to it. Once you know how it works, you will be fine!

WordPress.org is not free and has so many benefits, even not the most user-friendly platform, and I still decided to use it for all my blogs because it is the most powerful platform if you want to run a blogging business!

Why do you need a web hosting plan?

If you own a house, you first need land to build your home on it. Same for blogging, you need a “land” first to create your blog, but we call it “web hosting,” where you store your blogging data, like posts, pictures, etc.

Many companies offer web hosting. If you want to build a blog, I highly recommend BlueHost, and here are the reasons:

  • 1 recommended web hosting company by WordPress.org.
  • Easy to create a WordPress.org blog (anyone can do it!)
  • Very affordable price, only $2.95 per month if you sign up for 36 months
  • You get a free domain name for your first 12 months.
  • Quick and easy to navigate setup for your blog since they target bloggers.
  • Fast and friendly customer service! They are very willing to help you with any questions! I asked many questions when I started!
  • Business email under your domain name

Now, you know BlueHost is your best option to start a blog. Now, let’s buy the web-hosting plan.

Once you click on the “Get Started” button, BlueHost will direct you to the web hosting plan page, like below:

If you are new to blogging, please choose Basic plan since it’s the most affordable plan!

If you are new to blogging, I recommend you have the Basic plan first. When your site has more visitors, or you want to build one more blog, you can upgrade to other plans anytime.

After choosing your web hosting plan, it is time to choose the domain name for your blog:

Next, you will be directed to a page where you need to fill in all the data for creating your account at BlueHost.

Attention:

  • Since BlueHost offers the biggest discount to new users, I recommend you having a three-year contract if you have decided to start blogging. If you sign up for a one-year deal, you pay $60, but with $40 extra, you have two more years!
  • Many people would ask if it’s necessary to pay for extra services. My answer is: no! Since you are building a new site, it is acceptable not to have them. You can add these services anytime you want afterward.

Once your payment is down. We can move on to the next step!

Step 2-3: Setup your blog

BlueHost really makes it easy to create a WordPress.org blog. That is why I recommend it to my readers!

After your payment is confirmed, it’s time to create your password at BlueHost! Just click on the green button at the button of the page.

Then, BlueHost will take you to set up your blog:

Step 2-3-1: Basic information about your blog:

Based on your information at this step, BlueHost will recommend some free WordPress Themes for you later in the process.

Step 2-3-2: What is your website for?

Step 2-3-3: Your blog name and tag lines:

No worries, you can change it afterward.

Step 2-3-4: Choose a theme for your blog

At this step, BlueHost lists all the free and paid themes you can choose for your blog. You can change your theme later anytime you want.

I would recommend you choosing Astra. It is free and with mobile responsive design!

After you complete all the steps, BlueHost will start the installation process for you. Once it is done. Your WordPress blog is ready!

Step 2-4: Choose Your WordPress Themes

A paid WordPress theme is worth the investment for any blog!

Why?

It’s the first impression that your readers get! Besides, a user-friendly theme can increase your page views by 88% and even create more sales on your blog!

How to choose the best theme for your blog?

Simplicity is the key!


It helps your reader to focus more on your content. Also, your blog looks neater when you add pictures or display ads in the posts.

Here, I recommend Simply Pro from StudioPress, reason:

  • A simple layout makes your blog easy to read
  • Suitable for any blog niche
  • Mobile Responsive Design
  • The theme builds with Genesis Framework, easy to design your blog home page and other pages, and help your blog to rank higher on the search engine results (SEO friendly)

If you like Simply Pro but find it expensive, an alternative is Soledad. It also comes with Mobile Responsive Design and from a trustworthy company.

For travel bloggers:

If you have a travel blog, I would recommend Essence Pro. It is also from StudioPress with Genesis Framework Design. It provides an eye-catching home page design that draws your readers’ attention right away.

For food bloggers:

If you have a food blog, Foodie Pro is for you! It allows you to share your recipes in an organized way—the best design for food bloggers.

For Female Entrepreneurs:

Bluchic offers many feminine WordPress themes.

If you would like to have a more feminine look on your blog, visit Bluchic, they have the best feminine design for female entrepreneurs!

Step 2-5: Your Blog Settings

There are two critical setting for your WordPress blog:

#1 Permalinks setting

Where to find it? Under settings -> Permalinks

Permalinks are the URL of your blog posts. You should keep this link unchanged in the many years to come. To make your post SEO friendly, you need to change your permalink setting in WordPress.

One of the ways how search engines know what your post is about is by reading your post links. Therefore, please set up your posts with post name logic. It is an important step. Also, it makes your post URL short and easy to remember!

#2 Reading setting

As bloggers, you like people visiting and reading your posts. Two things you need to do so that people can find your blog via search engines:

  • make sure you don’t tick “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” under your reading setting in your WordPress dashboard
Where to find it? Under Setting -> Reading
  • If you would like Google to index your site and show your posts in their search result, remember to have set up Search Engine Console. Many tutorials are online about how to do that, so I skip it in the post.

Step 3: Content writing and planning

Ultimate guide to start a profitable blog
My proven steps to write a valuable content!
Picture: Pixistock

Perfect, you have set up your blog! I am so happy for you.

Next, it is time for content writing!

In step 1, you chose your blog niche and topics. In this step, I highly advise you to plan your content strategy before start writing! Think about what you are going to write and what your purpose is!

Below are the steps to write your posts:

Step 3-1: Map out the first five to eight posts titles you will write.

Let’s say for this blog; I would like to share all my blogging tips. However, there are so many things you can write in terms of blogging. Therefore, I first start with the content that I am confident. I start writing about my strategies, how I made my first $10,000. Besides, I also talk about basics, like setting up your blog, choosing the best WordPress Themes, etc.

If you are not sure what to write, you can check what people are writing in your niche on Pinterest, Buzzsumo, etc.

Step 3-2: Outlines your content from the previous step

This step is also essential.

I would write down the table of contents for that post. For example, for this Course review post for the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, I would first share the course, price, the course creator, what I think about the course, and what I think the course can be improved.

Step 3-3: check keywords.

When I first started blogging, I didn’t know what keywords is.

Using the right keywords is essential for every blogger. This is part of Search Engine Optimization.

If you want more people to see your posts on search engines, like Google or Pinterest, be sure to use the right and not so competitive keywords. Search Engines, like Google, know your content by scanning the keywords you use in the posts. Using the right keywords helps your posts reach more people and rank higher on the search results. Make sure you do the keywords research before writing. Trust me, it saves you time and reaches more people.

How to find keywords for your posts?

There are some free and paid tools for keywords search:

Step 3-4: Start writing.

Once you finish all the previous steps, you can start writing your blog posts! I am so happy for you!

If you are a new blogger, it might take you many hours to finish one post. Trust me that is normal. Do not panic. Once you write more content, you will find your way of writing. Soon, you will spend less them to finish your posts.

Here are some tips for you on how to use WordPress:

  • Use new editor Gutenberg. It is easy to use and save you A LOT of time.
  • Use keywords in your post as we explained the importance of keywords in Step 3-3
  • Be sure to use the heading function.

Why do we need to use headlines? Using headlines quickly informs search engines to know what the posts are about. This is also part of Search Engine Optimization.

Example:

For this post, I use heading (H2) for each step to start a profitable blog. It not only helps to have an organized layout for my readers but also helps with SEO. Note: WordPress sets the post title as H1, so we start with H1 first.

In Step 3, I break it down into four more steps. Therefore, I would also use headings (H3) headings for step 3-1 to step 3-4.

Step 4: Get Traffic to your Blog

Start your profitable blog today
You need a traffic strategy! For new bloggers, you should focus on Pinterest!
Picture: Pixistock

Getting traffic to your site is the most important thing to be done after launching! Without traffic, nobody reads your post, and no one will find your posts useful. If people visit your blog, you give them an excellent chance to know you or even like you.

Blog traffic mainly comes from:

#1 Organic Traffic:

Organic traffic means people find your blog via search engines. Therefore, it is vital to make your blog with search engine optimization (SEO), so your blog rank high in the search results. Any blogs need to make your blog SEO friendly, but it takes time for new blogs even if you did everything correctly, except Pinterest!

Pinterest is also a search engine, but it takes much less time to get traffic for new blogs. I quickly got 3,000 page views after implement the right Pinterest strategies. Many bloggers use Pinterest as their primary traffic strategy when they start. As time goes by, it is much easier to get more traffic. I highly recommend you start early!

It is free to join Pinterest, but you need to create a business account to drive the most traffic from Pinterest. I recommend you join Pinterest courses early, so your site gets traffic fast.

Here I recommend two courses:

  • Pinterest Traffic Explosion by Shruti ($99): This is the second Pinterest course I took since I liked to try different techniques! The course covers everything you need to know about Pinterest and the right starter course. The original price is $297 (yes, this is what I paid), but now on big promotion on AppSumo. Be sure to grab it before the offer expires.
  • Pinterest Avalance by Create and Go ($197): a course highly recommended by many bloggers. The first course I took, and it worked for me! A lot of useful strategies and tips for bloggers.

If you are on a budget and not convinced that Pinterest drives traffic to your blog, you can start with Pinterest Traffic Explosion. With only $99, you get all you need! Please make sure you get it now since the offer expires soon.

#2 Social Media Traffic:

Social Media traffic means all the traffic from social media platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, etc. When you just started, I advise you to promote your blog posts in relevant Facebook Groups. There are two things you need to pay attention to:

  • Follow the group rules: some groups do not allow you to share your blog, and some only allow you to share your posts in the comment section for assigned admin posts.
  • Create high-quality posts: only high-quality posts draw people’s attention and make your posts more popular in the group. Sharing your post on social media platforms is the best to promote yourself.

#3 Referral Traffic:

Traffic comes from third-party websites, neither from search engines or social media platforms. If a person shares your blog in the blog post and the readers visit your blog from that post, this is considered referral traffic.

Referral Traffic is also part of your search engine optimization (SEO):
If a trustworthy site recommends your blog, it helps you get a good result on the search results. Why? Search engines assume that a reliable site would only share posts with valuable information. How do search engines know if the site is trustworthy? They give each site a domain authority score (DA). Websites with higher scores mean they are more trustworthy.

Be sure to provide valuable information and do link swaps with sites that have high domain scores.

#4 Direct traffic:

If people visit your site directly with your URL, it is direct traffic.

I always advise people have their blog URL short and easy. Then, people remember your blog URL easily and visit your site with your blog URL directly. Also, I firmly ask you to build your email list from Day 1. Why? In the future, when you have new posts, you can inform your readers right away, and that helps you get higher page views. Let’s talk about building your email list in Step 5.

Step 5: Start building your email list.

Email list is one of the most valuable blogging asset. Start it from day 1!

At first, I was not aware of the importance of building your email list.

When I wanted to sell digital products, I had nowhere to sell. If I have my email list ready, I could sell to my subscribers first. Therefore, in my second blog, I started collecting subscribers from Day 1.

Later, when I have my product ready, I was afraid to publish my products on my blog, so I first tried to sell them to my subscribers! Then, it worked well!

They always say it is easier to sell to your subscribers than anyone else. Your subscribers know who you are, trust you, like your posts or person. That is why they subscribe to your newsletters.

Many people recommend ConvertKit, I do, too. ConvertKit has the best email service for bloggers, but it is costly, especially if you have made money from your blog yet. If you are on a budget, MailerLite is your best friend. You can have up to 1,000 subscribers for free! Isn’t it great?!

How to build your email list fast? My tips.

I quickly have 1,000 subscribers for my travel blog. How I did it? I provided free resources. If they want them, they need to subscribe to my email list first! You can create lead magnets first with my proven strategy!

Creating free resources is the best way to get subscribers, but make sure your free resources align with your blog niche! Otherwise, it does not help build trust from your subscribers, not sell when you have products in the future.

For example, If your blog talks about running, but your free downloadables are about FoodFood, which is not relevant to running, it does not help.

What free resources can you create?

  • Cheatsheets
  • Checklist
  • Free guide
  • List of free tools
  • Printables

To create all the above resources, you need a template! With the templates, you can create your free resources fast and in good quality as well.

Step 6: Monetize Your Blog

To many people, this is the step they care about the most. Suppose you want to make money from blogging. Please read this step carefully.

There are a lot of ways to make money from your blog today. Here are just some of them:

  • Display Advertisement
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Sponsored Posts
  • Offering services
  • Selling products (from physical to digital)
  • Online workshop

Above are the most common income streams for bloggers. Your income stream may differ depends on your blog.

If you are a food blogger, your income mostly comes from display advertisements, sponsored posts, and affiliate marketing. People nowadays check recipes online and do not want to buy cooking books.

For my travel blogs, I earn most from Affiliate Marketing then Display advertisements. If you are an educator, like sharing social media strategies, selling your products is a perfect way to monetize your blog.

Important to know:

Making money is always the more, the better. However, most of our income is an active income, like we trade hours for money, go to the office for 8 hours, five times per week, and get our salary. If we don’t have a job, then we don’t have income. You have money only when you work in the office or boss for specific efforts.

Contrary to active income, that is passive income. If you set up a system for making money, you have income whenever and wherever you are. Passive income helps you have financial freedom. Once your passive income equals your monthly costs, you have less financial pressure. Even if your passive income is more than your monthly fees, it is unnecessary to only work for money. You can follow your passion for your jobs and even reach financial freedom!

Display advertisements, Affiliate Marketing, and selling digital products are the top three best ways of earning passive income! If you wish not to make more money by trading hours, you should focus more on them.

#1 Making money with ads

Displaying ads is the best income for bloggers, but it requires a certain amount of visitors to your site per day. You can earn around $10-20 a day if you have 1,000 page views per day.

How to display ads in your blog?

Step 1: Your blog needs to have at least six months old and have new content on your blog regularly.
Step 2: Apply Google Adsense.

Once you got approved, you can display ads on your blog. You don’t get much money from Google Adsense, highly recommend joining the Ad network for bloggers, like Ezoic (10,000+ sessions per month), Mediavine (50,000+ sessions per month).

Things to know for making money with ads:

It would be best to get approved by Google Adsense before joining any ad networks since the ad networks always ask you to get it before applying.

Ads revenue varies depending on your blog niches and where your readers locate. If your blog is related to education or your audience is from English speaking countries, like the US, UK, your revenue per 1,000 views would be higher. The reason is that the advertisers are more willing to pay the advertisements.

Pro of making money with ads

  • Passive income, you can earn money as long as you have visitors.
Cons of making money with ads
  • Difficult to make money for new bloggers
  • Make your site with ads display, and readers may find them annoying.
  • May slow down your site speed.
  • Your revenue depends on your blog niche and audience, as explained earlier.

#2 Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is the best way to make money for new bloggers!

If you just started your blog, be sure to learn Affiliate Marketing. For my travel blog, most of my income comes from Affiliate Marketing!

Why I love Affiliate Marketing:

You don’t need to trade your precious time for money. I have a full-time job, but I love blogging and making money off work. Blogging with Affiliate Marketing allows me to make money by promoting the products or services I like and trust. Besides, I am not stuck to my blog to earn money. I write posts during my free time and make sales from my affiliate programs when I sleep or enjoy a cup of coffee at the cafes!

If you have a full-time, like me, you should start monetizing your blog by promoting affiliate products. Sponsor posts and freelance works give your quick money, I like that, but to me, those are only one-off income unless you work for big and famous brands.

Pro of making money with Affiliate Marketing

  • Easy to make money online for new bloggers
  • Passive income, you can earn money as long as people buy products or complete specific actions required by affiliate companies
  • Can choose the products you like/trust to promote
  • No need to take care of the after-sale service
  • No need to have high traffic (I already made $100 in my second month of blogging)

Cons of making money with ads

  • It might sound pushy to your readers (that’s why you need the right strategies and techniques)
  • Your revenue depends on the affiliate programs. If the affiliate programs change the commission rates or even stop their program, you.

Useful resources

If you are interested in implementing Affiliate Marketing in your blog, I highly recommend this course. Michelle is the Affiliate Marketing expert. She teaches all the strategies and techniques she used and shares real examples. You can read my honest review here.

#3 Selling your own products

Your products can be anything, but it is best to have digital products for bloggers, so you don’t need to handle shipping and have a warehouse to store your products.

Digital products can be your online course, ebook, templates or workbooks, etc. If you want to have an income from selling your own products, I highly recommend building your email list first. You have the most excellent chance to sell your products to subscribers since they know who you are and trust you!

Besides, your blog is the best place to promote your products. You can share your product information in your blog posts or have a pop-up advertisement on your blog.

Pro of making money with selling your products

  • Passive income as long as people buy them from your blog
  • High price per course, you can charge at least $100 per course
  • Even if you sell $10 per ebook, ten people buy them; you get $100!

Cons of making money with selling your products

  • It takes time to have your product ready.
  • You need a platform to automate the process and saves your course content.
  • Might get inquiries from potential buyers beforehand
  • Responsible for after-sale service

Resources:

As mentioned earlier, you need some hosting platforms for your digital products. Here are my recommendations:

  • SendOwl is your best choice for selling ebooks, templates, etc.
  • Podia is the best online course or membership platform for creators.
  • Canva is the best place for you to create your ebook, workbooks, and slides
  • Pixistock has a lot of beautiful social media and online course templates for course creators.
  • Your ebook template: the very affordable template to create your ebook fast!

Step 7: Keep learning

Blogging is a long game! It takes time and effort to make money online. Don’t get me wrong, it is not difficult to make money from blogging, but you need time and effort. It is never easy to make money, right?

Since blogging is a long journey, you need to keep learning. In the last step, I have summarized all the useful (free) tools and courses.

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