Start a blog, they said.
It’ll be fun, they said!
But here you are, making pennies and dimes from your blog, and starting a blog that makes money seems like a myth at best…
And a cruel joke at worst.
I’ve been there my friend, but after many years in the online entrepreneurship game…
I’ve successfully gone from making 2K a month at my old job, to making over 50K per month, and I promise that if you are truly passionate about monetizing your blog…
It’s possible, and I can show you how.
If you want to start a blog and make money, then this 9 step quick-start guide is exactly what you need.
Let’s do this.
How to Start a Profitable Blog in 2021
Thinking of Starting a Blog in 2021? Here's What to Expect:
Starting a blog can be an amazing way to create passive income, and have a job that allows you to work from anywhere. But if you want to be successful, you'll need to find the right blogging niche, master the basics of SEO, and learn how to monetize your blog.
Start Up Costs
While this list is not a comprehensive compilation of every you need to start a profitable blog, it provides a snapshot of what you need to add into your business plan.
According to https://www.ryrob.com/how-much-cost-blog-budget/, here is the range of startup costs that you can expect for your blog:
Total: $2,093 - $7,010
Annual Revenue of Established Blogger
The sky's the limit when it comes to being a blogger.
What you put in is what you will get out…
There is no cap on your potential for income and profit.
But the reality is that blogging is hard work.
At least according to Glassdoor, the average blogger can expect to make around $32,800 a year.
Which isn’t bad…
But it’s also nothing to write home about.
Profit Margins of Established Blogger
The average profit margins of a blog are 80% or higher.
Which is almost unheard of in any business model!
This is one huge plus for the blogging business model.
9 Step Quick Start Checklist:
1. Know What You’re Getting Yourself Into
Can you make money blogging?
The short answer is yes.
But the reality is that starting a blog will maybe take you a couple hours…
Starting a successful blog that actually makes you money is an entirely different story.
From a purely statistical standpoint, most blogs never make any substantial money.
In fact, some statistics go so far as to say that only 5% of blogs are even profitable at all.
Which is mind boggling when you account for the fact that in 2020, there were over 31.7 million blogs in the United States alone.
So the question is not, “Can I make money with a blog?”, but “How do I become a blogger in that 5%?”
Hard work, and strategy.
Because of the saturated nature of the internet today, standing out from the crowd and creating valuable content that can be monetized isn’t going to happen overnight.
From a distance, becoming a blogger seems like a really glamorous opportunity for passive income.
Heck, most bloggers spend most of their time chilling on vacations in Hawaii, or Bali, or somewhere tropical, right?
Before you decide to start a blog…
Know what you’re getting yourself into.
You will either need to be prepared to put in the time and hard work to get your blog off the ground…
Or you’ll need to be content with a hobby blog that you devote your time to purely from a place of personal passion.
Writing a successful blog that makes money is no different that starting any other kind of business.
You’re an entrepreneur, and you run a business.
If you want to end up on a beach in Mexico...
You have to be willing to grind and hustle to get there.
2. Pick a Profitable Niche
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when starting a blog is choosing the wrong niche.
Your niche will make or break the success of your blog.
I’m not suggesting that there is no room for unique and unexpected blog niches, but the fastest way to monetize a blog is to appeal to the largest number of people the fastest.
So if you are blogging about your deeply held conviction that underwater Unicorns really do exist and how they aren’t just Narwhals…
Don’t be upset when your blog traffic is basically just crawling along.
When it comes to monetizing a blog, traffic is everything.
Since your most valuable commodity is traffic, you will want to choose a topic that you are not only passionate about…
But one that other people will be passionate about too.
The most basic element of a successful blog is a blog that is bringing value to people.
It won’t matter how passionate you are, or how masterful your SEO game is if you aren’t actually providing value.
The best way to know whether or not your blog is providing actual value to real people is to put yourself in your prospective reader’s shoes.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Having a niche will help you grow faster, and it will ensure that you are truly creating content that will impact people’s lives.
Even if you’re just a shy food blogger helping parents prepare healthy meals that their kids will still love…
Don’t underestimate the value and impact that you can have.
If you make your focus serving others and creating value within your chosen niche…
Then nine times out of ten, you will have the makings of a profitable blog niche.
3. Choose Your Platform, Domain, and Host
On a very practical level, starting a profitable blog still requires you to know the basics of actually starting a blog.
Monetization comes later.
First, you have to know where to begin.
There are three main elements to a blog:
When choosing your domain name, focus on making sure that it is concise, catchy, and clear.
It should be something easy to remember, and something that clearly communicates what you blog is about…
And you need to double check that it hasn’t already been used!
Your site host is the platform that connects your content as the blogger to the “world wide web” for your readers to access and visit your blog.
There are a lot of sit host options out there, but you primarily need to look out for an option that is affordable, has fast load times, and great customer support.
In my opinion, Bluehost checks all of those boxes, and is highly recommended across the board by fellow bloggers.
Finally, you’ll want to choose your blogging platform.
Think of your platform as both the head of your blog.
It will be the face that your readers see, and also the brain behind the scenes
Many times, people choose a blogging platform purely based on aesthetics and design.
Trust me, I appreciate a beautifully designed website as much as the next person…
But when it comes to creating a successful and profitable blog, it isn’t just about good looks.
Your absolute best bet for a blogging platform is WordPress.
WordPress is virtually unmatched in the level of control and customization that it offers its users.
So much so, that WordPress websites make up over 32% of the websites in the entire world.
What WordPress lacks in user friendliness and ease of use, it makes up for everywhere else.
4. Customize Your Blog
Now it’s time to customize your blog!
This is where your personality and brand come into play.
That’s right, when you have a blog, you will also need a brand.
Even if you keep it super simple with a logo and a basic color scheme.
Businesses have brands, and your blog is a business now, remember?
If you’re more on the creative side of things, or your blogging niche is more expressive and aesthetics oriented (like fashion or lifestyle), then you can go wild with this step!
Have fun with it!
Hire a designer to help you create the perfect logo for your blog, or design one yourself using a free graphic design program like Canva.
Whatever direction you decide to go, whether simple or elaborate, don’t let organization fall by the wayside.
Creating a user friendly website and blog is just as important as creating a beautiful one.
This means that you need to have clearly labeled headers, footers, and sidebars that are functional for your readers to use to navigate your blog.
If you are concerned about the appearance of your blog, or you find WordPress difficult to use, there are many different themes that you can use to spice things up on the visual side of your content.
Some great choices for blogging themes are:
Best Blogging Themes:
5. SEO Basics
These three letters strike fear in the hearts of many new bloggers.
But guess what?
It doesn’t have to.
You are not expected to be a professional SEO strategist starting right out of the gate.
The important thing is that you take time to learn the basics, and continue to grow your knowledge base and skills as you go along.
Search engine optimization is important for your blog because traffic is important for your blog.
The better optimized your site is, the better it will rank in Google’s eyes…
And therefore, the more traffic and attention it will get from viewers.
Essentially, when you create your blog and post content to it, the Google bots will begin scanning your site and determining how important and authoritative they think it is.
The simplest way to explain what Google is looking for, however, is tied to Google's inherent purpose.
Google exists to provide answers and information…
But not just any answer…
The BEST answer.
So your goal as a blogger is to create content that provides the absolute best answer and information for your potential readers, in hopes that Google will agree with you and rank your content higher on the list.
That is an extremely abbreviated version of what it takes to create quality content that will rank well from an SEO standpoint.
But the important thing is that you write for people, not for Google bots.
You post every single day, stuff your content full of keywords, and use all the Alt Text and Metadata features, but if you aren’t writing content for real people…
It’s not going to work long term.
Everything goes back to serving up value.
But, if you are interested in the more tech-y aspects of SEO for your blog…
The other core component of this success algorithm is link building.
The more links you have pointing back to your website from other well ranking websites, the better you look to Google.
If you are wanting to start generating quality backlinks for your new blog, you can start by:
These are just the basics, however.
Take time to dive into the world of back-linking, and add this to your list of new blogging SEO skills!
In addition to quality link building for your blog, these things play a role in SEO for your blog too:
Don’t over-stuff your keywords throughout a post... but you should include them in the page title and headline, in the URL, in the body of your article, and in your site’s metadata.
Another helpful tool for you blogging tool belt will be the Yoast SEO plugin!
6. Email Marketing and Social Media
So how exactly are you supposed to market your blog?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Marketing a blog is actually not much different from marketing any other product or service.
Which means that you and your email list need to get nice and cozy and well acquainted with each other.
Your email list is an invaluable asset that many people have neglected because they are operating under the false assumption that email marketing is outdated, or even dead.
But this isn’t true!
In reality, email marketing is alive and well, and those who know how to use it strategically in an authentic way that isn’t spammy are reaping the benefits.
What kind of benefits?
According to current marketing research and statistics, 59% of respondents say that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions!
And on top of this a well written welcome email has an average read rate of 34%.
If this doesn't sound that high to you…
Because the average read rate for normal marketing emails is only 24% according to a recent study by Return Path.
That 34% is sounding a lot better now, am I right?
Get your initial welcome email up to snuff by honing in on these things:
Welcome Email Checklist:
Grow your email list by including a pop-up window on your blog for readers to subscribe and enter their email.
But be careful not to push this on them immediately.
Allow your readers time to scroll your site, and maybe even finish reading an article before you have that window set to pop-up.
Another great way to encourage email subscribers is to offer a free digital product in exchange for their email.
This can be something small, but of value to your ideal reader.
For example, if you are a food blogger, a PDF of your favorite quick and easy dinners to make on a busy weeknight would be a great freebie!
In addition to growing your email subscriber list, pour some of your energy into a social media presence as well.
Although social media isn’t the end all be all for blogging, having a Pinterest account that links back to your blog can have more power than you might realize.
It’s certainly worth devoting some time to see which platforms work best for helping to grow your niche!
Once you have it narrowed down, you can focus on staying active on the main accounts that have helped to create traffic and growth for your blog.
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for!
Let’s talk about the best ways to actually monetize your blog and start taking home a paycheck from all your hard work and effort.
Two Tips to Get Your Blog Monetized Fast:
One of the most common misconceptions about monetizing your blog, is that the only way to really make money from it…
Is if you’re blogging about blogging!
And while it’s true that this is a very popular and lucrative niche…
It certainly isn’t the only niche that can help to generate a full time income for you as a blogger.
In fact, monetizing your blog is done in several different ways:
Blog Monetization Strategies:
Ads are the most simple option on this list, because they literally cost you nothing and require no work.
Other companies will literally pay you just to have their ad present on your page.
But beware of having too many ads scattered across your site.
This can come off as annoying at best, and scammy at worst.
A little goes a long way when it comes to monetizing your blog through ad campaigns.
Also keep in mind that it’s preferable to only accept ad spots from relevant companies, so that the ads will at least be more applicable for your readers and your niche.
Sponsored content is something that has become more and more prominent, especially on platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
Basically, other brands will pay you to promote their product or services on your digital platform.
This is great if you truly love and support the product or brand, but if you are taking sponsored content deals left and right without vetting the products…
You’re going to come across as inauthentic and a scam, which will discredit the rest of your blog in the eyes of your viewers.
Businesses everywhere want their products in front of prospective buyers.
The key here is your blog’s genre.
If you are talking about their industry or the problems that their industry solves, companies might be interested in compensating you to display their products or services on your site.
How might you incorporate their offerings on your website?
Ideas for Sponsored Content and Ads:
Giveaways & Reviews
Newsletter, Video or Podcast Sponsors
Well, there’s a few ideas to get your mind working!
Be sure to have some perspective:
Ads on websites aren’t as profitable as they were a couple of years ago.
To really be profitable,
You need to have a fire-hose of visitors flowing through your site.
Affiliate marketing is similar to sponsored content…
But instead of getting paid directly by a brand or company, you earn a commission when someone uses a link from your blog post to purchase a product that you recommend.
Kind of like when you get a discount on your next haircut for recommending a friend to your favorite hairstylist.
Affiliate links can be very effective, in fact, 60% of people purchase a product after reading a blog post about it! (https://www.blogtyrant.com/new-blogging-statistics/ )
When you are beginning your blog and starting to get some traffic, you might consider offering some products that others have made to get some money coming in.
(Who knows... it might pay for your website hosting lol).
While there are literally thousands of affiliate programs you can be apart of, these are some that you might start with:
Ideas for Affiliate Marketing:
Amazon Influencer Program
Digital products are one of the best ways to create passive income from your blog.
This is because when you create a digital product that will be relevant for your readers...
It can potentially be sold over and over again for as long as it remains relevant and continues to provide value.
For example, if you are an interior design blogger, and you create a course on how to decorate and update your home without breaking the bank…
That course could be sold for years!
Which means consistent income for you without any extra work.
Digital Products were all the rage in 2017, and while the ruckus has calmed down a bit, given the right audience and the right content...
You can still position yourself to garner some significant income from offering them on your website.
Here’s some examples of some digital products that are popular among bloggers:
Ideas for Digital Products:
One of the best ways to find out what digital products your audience will be interested in is to actually ask them!
Use your email list to reach out to your readers with a questionnaire about what they would be interested in seeing you create.
Then you will know ahead of time if there will be substantial interest!
Another option rather than offering digital products is to actually create and market a physical product.
(Or if you want to get fancy: even a combination of physical and digital products together!)
Examples of great physical product ideas:
Ideas for Physical Products:
Finally, you can use your blog to promote your expertise.
Often, blogs themselves don’t make you money.
Blogs show others that you are an expert in your field, positioning you in the space (your topic) as an authority...
Which gives you the ability to close others on hiring you to perform various services for their businesses.
If you’re writing a blog about a specific niche, chances are, you have some level of experience or expertise in that area.
So market that!
Sell your own consulting/coaching services.
If you’re a photographer, offer mentor sessions!
If you’re a graphic designer, promote your web design service!
If you’re a pet blogger, sell virtual classes for personalized puppy training!
You get the picture.
Leverage your platform to promote yourself!
8. Strategic Sales Funnel
Once you’ve nailed down your avenues for blog monetization, you need to streamline your sales funnel.
A sales funnel is just a fancy term for the journey your potential buyer will take before they take the jump to purchase from you.
And a good sales funnel ultimately starts with building trust…
Without trust, you won’t be able to make a sale.
This is another great reason why I am stressing the “bringing value” aspect of blogging.
When you provide authentic value to someone before they’ve given you a dime, you start to build trust with them.
Your sales funnel doesn’t have to be sleazy, manipulative, or pushy.
In fact, a simple sales funnel is simply created to draw people in, keep them sticking around by delivering value, and then offering them more value in the form of digital product, or service.
If your goal is actually to give people something so incredible that you would pay for it yourself, then there’s nothing pushy or sales-y about a sales funnel.
It’s all about the heart and intent behind what you are creating and offering.
If you’re still feeling kinda lost on the whole “sales funnel” strategy…
Here is a simple road map to help you get started:
Basic Sales Funnel:
Now you have yourself a very basic, straightforward sales funnel, and you’ll be well on your way to raking in cash from your blog!
9. FAQ’s and Profitable Blog Niche Ideas
The 10,000 Hour Principle:
If I started today, how long would it take to bring in some solid cash?
To be straightforward, blogging isn’t for those who want to get rich quick. If you put in the work (20 hours of writing per week or more), here’s my estimate of the time it would take to put some dollars into your pocket: After about 6 months of work, you probably could make enough to pay for your coffee at Starbucks.12 months from starting your efforts, you could make a pretty solid part-time income. Give it 24 months (2 years) of regular effort and you might be able to go full-time in blogging and leave your soul-sucking 9-5.
If you are looking for some solid stats on what bloggers make, you can check out the US Bureau of Labor Statistics under the category of “Writers and Authors”.
But if you are getting into blogging strictly for the money, you probably won’t be successful.You need a deeper motivation.The most successful in the field relish in the process of creating jaw-dropping content and then let the cash fall where it may.
In case you still “need” to know what hard working bloggers make, check out this list of 11 trendy writers. https://fitsmallbusiness.com/how-much-do-bloggers-make/
Getting the niche portion of your blog right is very important.
People want to know who you are, why they should listen to you, and what you’re going to be teaching them about.
But honing in on the correct niche can sometimes be intimidating.
If you’re feeling stuck, here is a small list of great blogging niches that you can leverage to start a blog that makes money.
10. Bonus: 5 Profitable Blogs to Learn From
Many people make money blogging today.
But if you still need some proof...
Here are 5 real examples of profitable blogs:
Pros and Cons
of starting a blog in 2021
Starting a Blog Can Be Profitable, but Lead Gen is Better, Here's Why:
Remember when I said that I went from making 2K a month, to making over 50K a month?
Well it’s true…
But it wasn’t just from blogging, and I did it within five years.
Yes, you read that right.
My monthly income increased over 48K in five years.
Along the way, I’ve definitely learned the in’s and out’s of creating a successful blog…
But I have to tell you: a blog isn’t the best method for creating passive income!
Blogs are actually a lot of hard work, and they take consistent maintenance before they become anything close to passive income.
Plus, when you pick your niche, you’re relying on a projected and assumed amount of interest from your potential readers.
So then, if my blogs (and yes, I have several) aren’t what created that 50K per month, then what did?
It was primarily from online lead generation.
In fact, local lead generation has been my go to model for generating passive income for quite some time now.
The beauty of lead generation, is that there is an absolutely guaranteed demand for it.
Because the one thing that small businesses literally always need more of…
Think about it, what is a business without leads?
Online lead generation leverages the power of Google’s localization capabilities, with strategic SEO, to provide small business owners with a steady income of new leads.
And with the right skills and training, you can hand those leads to small businesses on a silver platter.
Plus, as my grandfather would say, you can charge “top dollar” for it, too!
Take a look at this: