Starting a blog is a great way to generate extra income today.
The best part? You can scale it however you want.
Want to just earn some extra money on the side? Great! You can do that.
Want to earn enough so you can quit your job and blog full time? You can do that too! It just takes a little more work.
The key to blogging success is staying committed. That means publishing regularly, building a community, and keeping your content engaging.
Just take a look at some of the most successful bloggers today. For example, blogger Pat Flynn earned over $127,000 in one month with his blog Smart Passive Income. Food blogger Lindsay Ostrom uses her Pinch of Yum blog to earn $66,000+ every month.
How? There weren’t any tricks or magic bullets. Just straightforward writing, publishing, and community building.
You can replicate these bloggers’ success by setting up your own blog and adding content people want to read.
Ready to get started? Let’s look at the 7 steps you need to launch your blog and start seeing your income grow.
1. Sign up for Bluehost
Before you can start blogging, you need a website hosting company. There are several web hosting services to choose from, but Bluehost offers a unique combo of affordability and comprehensive services.
Here are some of the features you can expect when you sign up with Bluehost:
- Free domain name
- 24/7 customer service, which really comes in handy when you’re stumped by a technical problem
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited domains (starting with Plus plan)
- Automatic site backups
- Extremely competitive prices
The last feature is perhaps the most important one. If you want to start out with one website/blog, you can go with the Basic plan, which will cost you just $3.95 per month.
Bluehost is also known for its seamless integration with WordPress, which is the most popular platform for blogging.
Now that you know what Bluehost has to offer, it’s time to install it. Here are the steps to make that happen.
Step 1: Go the the Bluehost website
Go to Bluehost.com and click the green button that says “get started.”
Step 2: Choose your plan
Bluehost offers four hosting plans: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro. The Basic plan is $3.95 per month. The Plus plan costs $5.95 per month, and the Choice Plus plan is $6.95 per month. The Pro plan, which is the most robust package, is $13.95 per month.
These options change from time to time, and Bluehost typically offers some kind of discount or special intro pricing. Upgrading your plan is easy, so you can always start out with the Basic plan and move to a plan with more features down the road.
Step 3: Choose a domain name
Now you’ll need to tell Bluehost your domain name. This is the name of your blog. If you already have a website, you can enter it at this point.
If you don’t yet have a domain name, you can register a new one with Bluehost for free for one year. Bluehost also gives you the option to skip this step and come back to it later.
Step 4: Create your account
Next, Bluehost will want to collect some personal info about you. This is also where you’ll fill out your payment details.
Step 5: Choose add-ons for your site
Bluehost offers some additional add-ons for your new website. These are optional features like Sitelock security and domain privacy.
Some of these features are nice to have, but they aren’t necessary if you need to keep your costs down. For example, domain privacy hides your name and personal information in the event someone runs a whois search on your site.
Step 6: Click “submit” and you’re done
When you’ve filled everything out, just click the green “submit” button to complete the signup process. Bluehost will email you to confirm that you’ve successfully created an account.
If you haven’t already purchased a domain, that’s your next step. If you have a domain, you can go straight to installing WordPress on your domain.
2. Buy a Domain on Bluehost
Once you have a Bluehost account, you can buy a domain. This is where your blog will “live” on the internet. Here are the steps for buying your domain.
Step 1: Login through the Bluehost control panel
Go to the control panel. Since you already have an account, you’ll use your account login and password.
Step 2: Click “domains” on the left side of the control panel
You’ll find “domains” on the left side of your screen.
Step 3: Search your desired domain to make sure it’s available
Run a search to make sure the domain you want isn’t already taken.
Step 4: Add your domain to your cart
For demonstration purposes, we searched “awesomeblogtomakemoney.” Bluehost returned results letting us know all the options available, along with some alternative domain names to consider.
If the domain you want is available, add it to your cart by clicking the green shopping cart icon to the right of the domain name.
Once the domain you want is added to your cart, a window displaying your cart will open on the right side of your screen. Click “next.”
Step 5: Review the registration details and click “add to cart”
In this step, Bluehost will ask you a few questions, including whether you want to add domain privacy and if you’d like your domain to renew automatically. When you’re done, click “add to cart.”
Step 6: Enter payment info and complete your purchase
You’re almost there! If you already have your payment information in your account, you’ll just need to confirm it. If you want to add a new credit card or other payment method, you can add that info.
When you’re all set with payment, confirm your purchase and click “process order” to buy your domain.
3. Install WordPress
Now that you have a domain and web hosting, you’re ready to set up your blog. There are many platforms that let you do this, but WordPress is the most popular and user-friendly. It also features excellent support, so you can get answers from experts when you need to troubleshoot.
Fortunately, the WordPress installation process through Bluehost is very easy. Here’s what you need to know.
Step 1: Log in to your Bluehost account
By now you should be pretty familiar with your Bluehost login. Just enter your email or domain and your password. This will take you to the main account page.
Once you’re logged in, click “My Sites” on the left side of your screen.
Step 2: Click “create site”
This will take you to a new page with the option to create a site. Click “create site.”
Step 3: Fill in your website information
This will take you to a screen that asks for some basic information about your website. Fill out the “site name” and “site tagline” and then click “next.” Don’t worry about this too much, as you can always change it later on.
Step 4: Select your domain name
You should already have a domain name, so you only need to click on the domain drop-down menu and choose the correct domain.
Step 5: Click “next” to install WordPress
One you click “next” the Bluehost auto-installer will automatically install WordPress on the domain you chose from the drop-down menu.
You’ll see a confirmation page letting you know that WordPress installed successfully. Click “login to WordPress” to prepare for the next step in setting up your blog.
Once you’ve installed WordPress, you can login to your blog through your domain. To do this, you’ll need to go to your login URL, which will look like this:
To do this, you’ll need to go to your login URL, which will look like this:
From here, you just enter your administrator username and password. You’ll want to login to your domain when you’re ready to move to the next step, which is installing a theme.
From here, you just enter your administrator username and password. You’ll want to login to your domain when you’re ready to move to the next step, which is installing a theme.
4. Get a Free or Low-cost Theme
Now you’re ready to install a theme, which is what gives your blog personality and a specific look. You can think of WordPress as a blank slate — like four white walls in a room with no carpeting — and your theme as the wallpaper, paint, carpet, furniture, and whatever other kind of decor you want to throw in there.
In other words, without a theme, your WordPress blog is going to look pretty bare. Fortunately, you can find hundreds of free themes. You can also purchase a premade or semi-custom theme without breaking the bank.
Once again, Bluehost makes it easy to install a theme. You can browse the Marketplace inside Bluehost to find a selection of themes. Just go to the main account page and click “marketplace” on the menu on the left side of the screen. Then click “WordPress Themes.”
This will take you to a list of themes with a variety of price points. You can click “live preview” to see how each theme looks when it’s installed.
However, you don’t have to limit yourself to Bluehost’s offerings. There are numerous places to find free and low-cost WordPress themes. In fact, part of the fun of launching a WordPress blog is finding the perfect theme.
If your budget is tight, it’s perfectly okay to start out with a free theme. To find lists of free themes to browse, just google “best free WordPress themes.” This will turn up dozens of lists with links to themes you can install without paying a penny.
If you want something more customized, you can also check out some affordable themes offered by talented WordPress developers. For example, Theme Forest offers thousands of WordPress themes for as little as $2. You can filter results to find a theme that fits the mood and content featured on your blog.
5. Configure Your Site
Once you’ve installed your theme on your WordPress blog, it’s a good idea to configure it to suit your needs. Basically, this is where you’ll customize your settings and install plugins to add features that make your site more attractive to your readers.
You can compare WordPress plugins to apps on a smartphone. Not everyone needs or wants the same apps. Rather, you install the apps that improve your user experience and make your phone more useful.
With 50,000+ free and paid plugins available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by WordPress plugins, so don’t feel bad about going slowly with them. Think about plugins that will give your blog more features. For example, maybe you want to add a contact form so readers can get in touch with you. Or you might want to link your Instagram photo gallery to your blog so visitors get a glimpse into your everyday life.
When it comes to configuring your WordPress blog, here are some essential plugins to consider.
- WPForms – This is a basic contact form that lets readers reach out to you. There’s a free version and a paid pro version.
- MonsterInsights – This plugin connects your blog to Google Analytics so you can track how many people visit your site, how long they stay on specific pages, and where your traffic comes from.
- Yoast SEO – Yoast SEO is a plugin that helps you optimize your blog for search engines so people can find your site.
- Akismet Anti-Spam – If you plan on blogging, an anti-spam plugin is a must. As soon as you hit “publish” on a blog post, you can expect spam to follow in short order. Akismet Anti-Spam offers both a free and paid version to help keep your blog spam-free, so your blog posts don’t get clogged up with spammy comments and bogus links.
- Smush – Content may be king, but images are also an important part of blogging. Unfortunately, optimizing images can be a tedious process, especially if you’re not design-savvy. The Smush plugin optimizes and compresses images for you, so they look their best on your blog.
6. Start Writing
Your blog is set up, WordPress is installed, and you have a killer theme and some must-have plugins that pull everything together. Now you’re ready to add content.
And this is perhaps the most important step out of all of them.
Why? The reality is that most blogs fail. The top reason? The bloggers behind them blog once or twice, fail to see traffic, and then promptly quit.
The truth is, like any side hustle, blogging is work. Success takes effort as well as regular commitment — especially if your goal is to make money from your blog.
On the other hand, you don’t have to be the best writer in the world to be successful. Instead, you need to focus on two things: (1) creating value, and (2) solving problems.
This is exactly what Marcus Sheridan did with his swimming pool installation and maintenance blog — the most visited blog of its kind in the world.
Admittedly, swimming pool installation isn’t the sexiest topic on the planet, and if you’re wondering how on earth a blog like that becomes successful, you’re not alone.
Sheridan has been the subject of numerous content marketing case studies, and his story is a fascinating one. When the housing market collapsed in 2008, his swimming pool business, River Pools, was on the brink of bankruptcy. People were losing their homes to foreclosure, which meant just about nobody had the money to install a pool in the backyard.
Facing the collapse of his business, Sheridan knew he had to do something to generate new business. Without a big marketing budget, the easiest and fastest way to get eyeballs on his website was to start answering some of the most commonly asked questions he’d received from customers over the years.
In short, he started blogging. Sheridan isn’t a professional writer, but he is an expert on swimming pools. By blogging about a subject he knew inside and out, he was able to offer his site visitors value. He gave his knowledge away for free.
He was also solving problems. Swimming pools are expensive and complicated to maintain. When a homeowner has a problem with their pool, they’re likely to try fixing it on their own before calling a costly repair service. When Sheridan started blogging answers to FAQs, he drove traffic to his site.
In fact, according to Sheridan, just one blog post — an article about how much it costs to install a fiberglass pool — generated $2.5 million in income for his business.
More than 10 years after he started blogging, Sheridan says he no longer considers his business a pool business. Rather, his main business is content marketing. He generates sales by continuing to blog on a regular basis, about two to three times a week.
Sheridan’s story demonstrates the importance of regular blogging. In addition to consistency, it’s also critical to offer readers value. What are you knowledgeable about? What kind of expertise can you share with the world? This is what your blog should focus on.
7. Make Money
Once you start adding content, you can monetize your blog. There are several ways to do this, including freelancing, Google Ads, and affiliate marketing.
If you’re just starting out, you probably want to start making money right away. Depending on your area of expertise, you can offer freelance services that generate extra income.
This strategy works well for certain professions, such as writing, web design, and graphic design.
For example, a web designer can add a portfolio page to their site and then create blog content around design. Some potential blog topics might include:
- 10 Design Elements Your Website Needs
- How to Make Your Website Stand Out
- Colors that Make People Visit Your Website
- How to Create a Website for $100 or Less
- 5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Website
By creating valuable and problem-solving content, a web designer, writer, or graphic designer can draw visitors to their site and offer a pitch at the same time. If you go this route, include links to your services page in the body of your blog posts, and then add a call to action at the end so readers know how to purchase your services.
You can also generate income by adding Google Ads to your blog. One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding Google AdSense to your blog. This allows you to sell space on your blog to advertisers. When visitors click on ads, you make money.
To get started, you’ll need to sign up for an AdSense account. To make it easier, you can use your existing Gmail account to sign up. From there, you have to wait for AdSense to approve you.
Note that your website should be at least six months old before you apply to AdSense. Otherwise, Google will probably reject your application.
When you get approved, your next step is to login to AdSense and retrieve your ad code, which you’ll install on your website.
AdSense gives you the option to place ads on your site manually or opt-in to auto ads. If you choose the automated option, Google will place ads for you.
The first method gives you a lot more control over ad size and placement, but the auto option is good for beginners who aren’t comfortable with pasting code into their site’s editor.
Affiliate marketing is similar to running AdSense on your blog, except you earn a commission on sales generated by site visitors clicking on a product link on your site and then buying the product.
There are several methods for making affiliate marketing work, but Amazon Associates is one of the most popular. It’s easy to use, and Amazon sells just about anything you can think of.
However, you don’t necessarily want to sprinkle a bunch of random product affiliate links on your blog.
Why? If they lack a connection to the subjects you typically post about, you’ll probably just end up confusing (and maybe even annoying) your readers. The idea is to feature affiliate links that make sense based on the things you blog about.
When you get more familiar with affiliate marketing, you can branch out to other affiliate marketing opportunities, including links for services. These are things like email hosting, webinars, and content marketing.
For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you might want to write blog posts about how to optimize sales writing for search engine optimization (SEO). This is a perfect opportunity to monetize your posts by becoming a BeRush affiliate.
BeRush is the affiliate marketing program for SEMRush, a leading internet marketing and visibility management platform. By signing up with BeRush as an affiliate marketer, you could earn a 40 percent commission on any sales your site generates.
The Key to Successful Blogging
Congrats! If you’ve followed the steps above, that means you set up your blog.
The key to generating success (and income) however lies in two important things:
- Community. As you write and publish, you need to keep in mind who you’re writing and publishing for. It’s not enough to send your words out there. You also need to make sure that you have a dedicated audience of readers who are hungry for what you write.
After all, a blog without readers (and income) is just a hobby. If you want to generate income, you need traffic. So always ask yourself: Am I doing everything I can for my community? Am I engaging them enough with my content?
- Writing, writing, and more writing. You need to write consistently and often if you want to succeed in blogging. Your writing should also be high-quality too. That means making sure that your facts are correct and the grammar is mostly legible.
The best part about blogging is that if your writing is good then people will come to you. From a handful of loyal readers, you can start scaling and finding more and more who will be willing to buy your products, or click on your affiliate links. It all begins with writing though.
Start Making Money from Your Blog Today
Blogging is a low-cost way to start earning extra cash right away. If you’re willing to come up with a regular posting schedule, you can set up a blog in minutes and start earning immediately.