This is the number one question that is asked when I am speaking at entrepreneurial events. How did you start your blog and when did you start making money with it? The story is a very long drawn out one that I talk about in my book which you can purchase right here on the blog, therefore I will skip story time and jump straight to the tools on how to start a blog and make money. If I started a blog and made a full-time job doing so, so can you! Because there are so many layers to the blogging business, I will start off with the basics so you can at least set up your blogging business.
Before we talk about the tools necessary to launch a blogging business, let’s talk about all the ways you can make money as a blogger. You are going to be BLOWN AWAY at all the ways you can make money as a blogger. Every single revenue stream I am about to share, I currently use to turn a profit in my blogging business. There are too many revenue streams to go into a lot of detail here so I will put another post together explaining each in detail, the disclosing requirements, and even recommend some platforms that you can join to fast track yourself!
How Do Bloggers Make Money
- Affiliate Revenue – This is when you get a commission for sharing a product and a special link which directs your audience to the brand page and the audience purchases the product. (You must always disclose this to your audience.)
- Ad Space on your site – You may have noticed an ad pop-up below. This is when you allocate ad space on your blog and are paid every time someone clicks on the ad.
- Guest Posts – Many publishers will pay to have their voice heard by your audience. This is when a publisher agrees to pay to post on your site. (You must always disclose this to your audience.)
- Partner Linking – Often times a brand will pay to be included in content that you are working on or have already posted. (You must always disclose this to your audience.)
- Blog Articles – Brands will pay for you to write an entire article about and share photos of their product or service. (You must always disclose this to your audience.)
- Newsletter Blasts– If you have a large subscriber list, brands will pay for featured placement. (You must always disclose this to your audience.)
- Social Posting – This is when you are paid to post on your social platform. (You must always disclose this to your audience.)
- Non-posted UGC – Many brands love your work and want to use it for their own promotional purposes. I have been featured on brand websites, social platforms, branded apps, and even in commercials. UGC means user-generated content. I create the content and they pay for usage rights.
- Whitelisting Rights– This is when a brand wants to use content that you have posted about their brand in social advertising. They will pay a weekly, monthly, or lifetime fee to “boost” that content in social advertisements.
- Event Appearances – Many brands will invite bloggers out to events to not only share the experience with their followers, but to capture some great content with a bunch of bloggers all in one place. As you can imagine, bloggers are used to pictures and therefore are creatively photogenic.
- Picture Rights/ Modeling – Because bloggers have to “have an eye” behind the camera and can produce pretty great photos, many brands will send product and pay just to have the blogger take photos of or with their product so that they can use them for various purposes such as, product imagery or lifestyle imagery for their website, billboards, print ads, digital ads, and more!
- Create Products – Often times bloggers create their own product lines. Currently I have a subscription service, online academy, and book for sale!
How to Start a Blog
Set Up WordPress as Your Blogging Platform
First you will need to set up a WordPress account. There are many platforms to blog from and after trying several of them out, WordPress is the best in my opinion and is one of the top choices in the opinion of others. (read Is WordPress a Good Website Builder) I have not come across one widget or service that WordPress doesn’t integrate with.
I know this is all BRAND SPANKING NEW TO YOU and therefore my words may seem like I am speaking another language. Just trust me, go with WordPress. Not only will you have an awesome website built in tool but WordPress also offers a free domain name for a year. (that is your website url) If you have already purchased a domain name through Go Daddy.com, no worries, you can easily set it up with WordPress.
Just like with any business, there is an investment. For a WordPress package that allows you to choose your own theme, it costs $95 a year. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND choosing a package in which you can use your own theme. WordPress does have a free option but the templates (look of the blog layout) are very basic and unappealing in my opinion. If you pay for WordPress’ annual package you can upload any template, which gives you way more control to customize your brand look. Click here to get started.
Of course there are other options out there, but if you are serious about becoming a blogger, you need to make the investment now. Trust me again, trying to convert a successful blog to a brand new platform is not only time consuming, but damaging to your SEO. I did it about 8 years ago and it was a total nightmare. I had to hire developers to help with the conversion so that I didn’t lose 5 years of posting and my Google SEO rankings.
Where Can I Download WordPress Themes?
But first, what is a theme? WordPress is the platform where your blogging business and domain is hosted, the theme is what people see when they come to your website, the “look” of your brand. First impressions are EVERYTHING so choosing a theme that fits the tone and personality of your brand is super important.
Since converting my blog to WordPress, I have purchased several themes throughout the years. Not that you need more than one, I just use a theme for a couple of years and then choose to do an upgrade to my brand and purchase a new theme. My brand is every evolving so I like to do brand revamps to stay up to date every couple of years. My two favorite themes are the one I have now from Empress Themes and a template from Envato Theme Forest Themes, which is the theme I had right before this one.If you want to check out Envato themes, click here and then in the menu, click more. Then click, web templates, and then site templates.
Empress Themes offers several upscale themes that will give your site a classy high end magazine vibe. I have found the price for theirs themes to be extremely reasonable and much lower than other companies producing the same high-quality websites. Their customer service is the best I have experienced thus far, probably because they are small business owned, and they have a variety of must-have WordPress widgets that are compatible with their sites. (We will go over a few of those later)
How do I Know if My Website is Performing Well?
Just like with any business, you need to set short and long term goals from day one. Many of the goals that bloggers will strive to achieve when launching their blog have to do with traffic. In order to grow your traffic, you have to know your audience demographic, what they want to read, and the actions they take while on your site. There is a FREE tool that will reveal all of these things to you, but it is important to set it up when launching your blog so that you can be tracking this information from day one!
Google Analytics is a free resource that provides the tracking tools you will need to measure your website’s performance metrics, audience demographic, and overall growth. Google Analytics is a very detailed tool and therefore can overwhelm you at first. I recommend reading SEMrush’s post on how to Set Up Google Analytics to properly set up your Google Analytics account. Also, watch the video below to learn more about navigating the Google Analytics platform and interpreting the data.
Head on over to Google Analytics Academy to watch more Google Analytics training videos.
Pro Tip: Set up a Hotjar account to watch how users interact on your page via screen recordings. This is extremely helpful and one of my favorite things to do.
Build your Subscriber List
You would be surprised by how many bloggers do not have, or do not focus on, their email subscriber list. It blows my mind! Sure, you may have lots of traffic in the long run, but you need to be able to directly re-engage with your blog traffic, and the only way to do this is through a subscriber list. Sure you can engage with your audience on social, however if your SEO is strong, a lot of traffic will happen via search engines and those people may not be on your social media. That is why it is important to choose newsletter platform for sending emails and creating subscriber landing pages and pop ups for capturing emails. I have tried both Mailchimp and Flodesk. In my opinion, Flodesk is easier to use and, even better, it is much cheaper. (Get 50% off Flodesk here.)
Flodesk really helps me to keep a consistent look across my blog and the newsletters that I send out. I really like how you can input your brand colors into Flodesk and they will Taylor their templates to help match your blog.
The most important tasks to set up in your Flodesk are:
- Subscriber segments
- Pop-up Newsletter sign up (under landing pages)
- A form strategy (pop-up, landing page, embedded forms)
Each of these bullet points are a piece of the overall blog strategy and deserve a blog post of their own, so stay tuned! In the meantime, if you are wondering what a form is, see the image below. The example on the left is the pop up for my blog. Once someone enters their into and subscribes, they receive a Free Capsule Wardrobe Shopping List. The form on the right is one that is embedded into one of my blog pages so that the reader can subscribe.
Setting up your social
When starting a blog, almost everyone thinks about setting up their Instagram and TikTok account, but I always advise to be present on all popular platforms. You don’t need to post on all of these platforms but you need to at least claim your blog name to prevent imposters from taking advantage of the popularity of your blog. Right now, I actively post on Instagram, Amazon Creators, Pinterest, and Facebook. I do have a Lemon8, TikTok, and Twitter page but do not regularly post.
If you have read my book, you know I talk a lot about the omnichannel experience. In a nutshell, this is a strategy in which you keep a consistent look for your brand at every customer touch point. I have shown you how my blog theme, email newsletters, and forms all fall in line with my brand visual guidelines (front and color scheme) and your socials are no different.
Not only should your profile picture match your blogger headshot, but the link housed in your social bios should have the same look and feel as your blog. If you click the link in my Instagram bio, you will see the below link list. There are many link list services out there, but as you can see, my link. List is actually housed in my blog. This means that my audience can access my blog right from my link list! Of course, I have turned off the subscriber pop-up for my link list page to reduce frustrations and steps involved with getting access to my links via my social platforms, however if my audience wants more, they can click my navigation menu in the top left of the page (cut off in the image but you can click here to see it in action) and explore my blog!
If you like the look of my link list, Empress Themes offers a WordPress plugin called Empress IG Bio Link.
Best Blogger Communities
I guess you have gathered by now that I have been in the blogging game for quite a while (over a decade) and through the years I have been a part of many blog communities. The two best, most consistent, and informational communities BY FAR are BlogHer and The Blog Societies.
BlogHer is owned by SheMedia, and not only is their CEO, Sam Skye BAD ASS, their team is as equally putting out boss babe and gent vibes. I started going to their conferences about 4 years ago and was amazed by the outpouring of support that the team of BlogHer gives to all of their bloggers. They are such a large company but they take the time to help each and every one of their community members. I highly recommend subscribing to their newsletters and getting involved with their webinars and conferences. Just a little side note, they always have some pretty big names on their conference panels. One year Sarah Jessica Parker headlined their BlogHer Business event and after the event, she commented on my post where I shared her new wine. Also, their CEO, Sam Skye left a raving review of my work for my book. (You can read it here. Just scroll to the bottom of the description.)
The Blog Societies is another very supportive community. The CEO, Jessica’s Camerata, runs the TBS membership community in which she puts out monthly webinars, and updates the dashboard with tons of valuable resources for setting your blog apart. She also hosts an annual TBSCon (conference) that I just love. I alway make lasting friendships and long-term brand partnerships every time I attend! I highly recommend getting a The Blog Societies Membership so you can stay on top of your game. Even though I have been blogging over 10 years, I always seem to learn something new with Jessica’s webinars.
Ok, I have officially written my longest blog post EVER! I will drop off here, but sign up for my “blogger series” newsletter and get your intro to blogging check list here!
In my next post, I will share all of my favorite WordPress widgets so you can optimize your site. And stay tuned for posts on “Blogging Profit Strategies,” “Important Tasks to Set Up in Your Flodesk,” and “Content Planning 101”
**Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission for introducing these products to you! This is one way that I am able to keep reviewing different products and sharing my favorites with you. Thank you for all of your support!**