How to Start a Blog & Monetize in 2022 (Complete Guide)
Now is a great time to start blog and monetize it. Generate consistent revenues and build a business around it. It doesn't matter who you are or whether or not you have lots of startup capital. Learn how successful publishers monetize their blogs and how you can adapt their strategies to build wealth.
Reasons You Should Start a Blog
Businesses who blog have 400% more pages coming up in searches. (FORBES)
89,409 Google searches happen per second (SEMRUSH)
Blogging attracts 3X the qualified leads versus more traditional methods. (CMI)
90% of search traffic comes from your existing blog articles, not your new ones. (NEIL PATEL)
Over 409 million people view more than 20 billion blog articles each month
75% of people prefer reading articles under 1,000 words
Bloggers who earn over $50,000 per year say their most popular posts are long-form (2500+)
Publishing 2X week increases blog return on investment (ROI) by 57%
46% of people regularly take the advice of bloggers
34% of people say they've immediately bought something they didn't even know they needed after reading a blog about it. Wow!
But this isn't just about starting a blog and making money. How do bloggers make that money? And How do the start blogging their way to this kind of influence and outrageous profits? That's what this guide will show you --How to achieve monetization faster, more efficiently, and with less work.
What I'm not going to do is tell you there are 5 simple steps to monetizing a blog. There are more steps. But what you'll walk away with here is a solid understanding of blog monetization and how to do it yourself. Attract people. Grow and Audience. Gain Influence. Monetize that Audience.
Short on time? But want to learn the best way to start a blog and monetize it? Download this complete guide for easy offline reading anywhere. Take it with you and share it with your team.
In this Guide, You'll Learn:
10 Ways to Make More Money Blogging
Define Your Goals
Choose Your Niche
Research Your Audience
Choose Your Blog's Platform
Pick a Domain Name
Identify Endless Traffic-Driving Topics
Write a Blog Post
Optimize for Google Search (SEO)
Develop a Content Strategy
Promote a Blog
Build an Audience
20 Tips to Improve Your Blog
How to Make Money from a Blog (10 Ways)
To make money blogging, you have to have a plan to monetize your blog. And there are so many ways to do this. Your blog monetization channel depends on if you already have an existing product or service to promote. Or if you plan to monetize by having the blog take center stage.
However, in some Business models, you may want to tap into multiple blog monetization channels as long as those channels don't detract from your ability to meet your overall blogging goals.
If you're a lawn care services company, you could certainly choose to sign up for AdSense and put ads on your blog to make a little on the side. But this may turn off the leads you were trying to generate for your lawn care service, which is probably more valuable to you.
Let's look at 10 proven ways to generate consistent blog income.
1. Generate Leads
If you have an existing business, blogging is a top way to generate leads for your company, second only to video, especially if you're marketing business to business (B2B). Business decision-makers use blogs to understand their company's challenges and evaluate the possible solutions for those problems.
You can position your B2B blog as a helpful resource for these buyers. You'll use your blog to attract your target audience (business people who need what you sell) and guide them through the Buyer's Journey.
But even here, The way you use your blog to generate leads can vary.
You may direct readers to a contact form on your contact page. You may offer them a free download in exchange for their email address. Or you could provide a free audit, service, or trial for your product.
2. Sell Advertising Space | Use Google AdSense
Get paid to show ads for companies who are related to your niche. When someone clicks that ad, you get a few cents for each click. But this adds up once you have 10,000 or 50,000 people visiting your blog each day.
3. Sign Up for Affiliate Programs
Review and recommend affiliate products and get paid through their affiliate programs. Provide your honest reviews and sign up for their affiliate advertising program. Anytime someone clicks on that link, you share a percentage of the sale.
4. Sell Your Own Products and Services
Some businesses need to generate leads that they nurture to the point of a sale. Other products don't take much forethought. If you don't produce anything to sell yourself, you can make money with dropshipping. You build the audience. They send the products, manage returns, etc.
You can use your blog to promote these kinds of products or services directly.
5. Sell Digital Downloads
Maybe you have an eBook you want to promote. Blogging is a great way to give your audience just enough for free, so they want to buy the book.
Similarly, you might sell:
Complete How-to Guide
Original Market Research
6. Launch a Profitable Online Course
Blogging can also be a great way to share your knowledge, so people want to sign up for your course.
7. Write Blogs for Someone Else
You can make a decent blogging income by blogging for others who are monetizing their blogs. If you plan to monetize this way, you'll also find this post helpful. You can just think about this guide in terms of your client's website instead of your own, and the skills you'll learn here will help them get the most out of their blog, which will increase your income.
If you're making money by selling your blogging skill to others, you can alternatively skip to section:
How to Write a Blog Post
8. Gate Certain Content
You can set your site up to offer some content for free. This content appears in search engines. Gated content typically does not,
But if you ungate a portion of the page it might. New York Times articles appear in search this way, even though most are gated.
What is Gated Content? Similar to a gated community, gated content is behind a login and/or paywall, you require visitors to log into your site to access your prime content. There may or may not be a nominal subscription fee like $3.99/mo. If you're a big-name news source, you can charge more obviously.
This content is hidden from search engines and generally inaccessible to the general public.
You can choose to have a free paywall as well. And you may be wondering how you make money if it's free. Simple.
First, every time this person logs in you can track how they interact with content. This can provide you with insights you wouldn't achieve if they freely accessed content.
Second, because they're now a member of your site, they're on your subscriber list, so you can increase the number of times they revisit your site to increase ad revenues.
This is one of the more stable ways to generate revenues because you have more power to increase visits through email.
9. Offer an Ad-Free Experience
You can also offer subscribers an ad-free experience. This would be similar to Hulu or YouTube offering you no ads if you pay a monthly fee. The fee paid fully off-sets any ad clicking they might have done.
You will hit the sweet spot on this fee when it's high enough that people see the value and come back, but low enough that they forget about it on their credit card statement. So they don't unenroll.
You can also offer levels. The first level free subscription has ads, paid level doesn't have ads.
10. Host Sponsored Blog Posts
Offer to publish blog posts written by businesses and influencers who want to tap into your audience to promote their followings. This serves a dual function. They pay you for the opportunity to publish. And they become a source of content for your audience.
They may also pay you to create the content and publish in on your site under their name (or yours as a content sponsor). This is similar to a YouTube Influencer creating a video sponsored by a brand they use.
But be sure to set down some ground rules. If you publish everything, you'll lose your audience's trust.
Now that we've looked at the many ways you can make money with a blog, I know you're ready to dive right in.
Want to help others Help others learn how to start a blog and monetize it? Don't forget to link to this page from your website.
Define Your Goals
With the above monetization channels in mind, it's time to decide what you want your blog to do for you. It needs a primary goal. This will drive your overall strategy. But you'll also define and track some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
These are the things you regularly measure so you can compare performance month to money (oops: I mean month) and year to year to grow your blogging success.
Let's say your goal is to generate $100,000/year from your blog within three years.
What KPIs do you need to track to tell you you're on your way?
For your website:
Time spent on the page
Time spent on the site
Number of pages viewed
You'll set other goals for social like:
Net Follower Increase
Various Engagement Metrics
Whatever goals and KPIs you choose to track, make sure you have the analytics tools to track them consistently and as efficiently as possible. Make your goals SMART so you stay clear about what you want to achieve and can compare them month to money.
Set SMART Goals
Smart Goals are:
Specific - They clearly state what you're measuring
Measurable - You have the tools in place to measure them
Attainable - They're not pie in the sky. They're practical. You can undoubtedly set stretch goals. But move in the right direction and gain momentum. Set goals you can achieve soon. Make $100,000 your first year. That may not be attainable for you unless you plan to put in 80 hour weeks. But in year 2 or 3, it may not be out of the question.
Relevant - What you're measuring helps you achieve your big goal of making money. Tracking things like how many likes you get may not be appropriate if you can't correlate it to increased revenues.
Time-Bound - You set a specific time by which you'll meet this goal. It's SMART to set goals for the month, quarter, year, and 5-year, starting. These might change as you learn what you're capable of. But it's essential to have some time-bound goals to keep you on track.
Choose a Perfect Niche for Your Blog
To rock the world of blogging, you must have a suitable niche. You'll use this to develop a clear idea of your proposed blogging niche's market volume, pricing, and economic potential.
Even if you already have an established business you plan to promote using a blog, you need to have a clear vision of what your blog will be about. In that, it's essential to consider your existing business' target audience and work from there.
But if you don't have an existing business, you'll work in the opposite direction. Choose some candidate niches and then evaluate who your target audience for that niche is.
Unclear about what niche to choose? Ask yourself these three questions.
1. Do I Enjoy Learning About This Topic?
Don't start a blog because you think this is what people want if you're not already passionate about it. This topic should either be something you know absolutely everything about or something you cannot imagine yourself ever getting tired of learning about.
Because when you plug into a niche, you will be hitting the niche topics from every possible angle, inside and out, left and right, no dark corner unexplored.
If you could see yourself getting bored with this niche and abandoning your following in the future, do everyone a favor and write about something else.
2. Are Others Interested in The Same Things?
But with that said, this has to be something people are interested in. Otherwise, how are you growing your audience? So I suggest you start with the passion and explore a popular or underserved niche that aligns with it.
Underserved is tricky. Sometimes it's underserved because it's not profitable. And sometimes, it is just because no one thought of tapping into it. You can determine which it is by social listening. Follow some prominent hashtags, and listen for sub-concepts people are talking about.
3. Is it already oversaturated? Confirm Market Demand
Now, this doesn't mean you have to abandon this niche completely. But you certainly need to develop a game plan to grab the attention of people who are already invested elsewhere. What is something new you can bring to the table? How can you make this niche your own?
What's currently missing in the content already out there?
Research Your Target Audience
You've started doing this already to choose your niche. But now, it's time to dig deep.
Who are they? What are their common characteristics, interests, goals, and challenges?
Do they tend to trust or interact with specific sources online? Where do they spend time online?
You need to know what your target audience is looking for in Google and what they engage with on social. You'll use what you learn to develop topics that your audience will appreciate and engage with.
Unsure about your audience? Do some undercover work.
Put yourself in your audience's shoes and interact with them on social platforms to see what they're talking about.
Create a buyer persona for each target. This is a fictionalized representation of your ideal reader. When writing imagine you're speaking directly to this person...because in a way, you are.
Choose a Blogging Platform
The last thing you want to do is launch a blog in one place only to have to move it later. Don't let offers of a free domain name or other perks influence you. This is a decision you need to be able to live with.
When evaluating blogging platforms, you'll need to consider:
Domain privacy protection
Blog hosting limits
Content Management Tools
Whether it aligns with your technical skills
Where is the best place to create a blog? Here are some of my top picks for blog hosting.
Wix - How much does it cost? It starts at $23/mo, which you can pay annually.
Weebly - Starts a $12/mo. You get what you pay for. Weebly is much less customizable vs. Wix. But it may meet your needs, so why pay more if it does.
Substack - varies
Get a Web Hosting Account
You can set up a free web hosting account on any of the above. But free options will limit your ability to rank the sites in search and control the site. The free web hosting company will show ads to your audience, which detracts from your own money-making potential.
So I would certainly consider paying for your blog hosting, which isn't expensive.
Starting a blog on WordPress? You also have the option of a self-hosted WordPress blog, etc. You buy hosting from BlueHost account, GoDaddy, etc., and install WordPress software and a free WordPress blog theme to build your new blog there. This does require a bit more technical skill.
Don't take on more than you're comfortable with unless you plan to outsource web design.
Pick a Domain Name for Your Blog
Your custom domain name will form the basis of your online identity, whatever your niche. It is yours as long as you continue to pay an annual fee. That's around $10 to $15 a year for a .com.
How to Choose a Domain Name:
Make it easy to type and remember
Keep it as short as possible
Use keywords people may use when searching your niche
Make it memorable
Make sure it's available
Don't encourage brand confusion
See if your blog hosting company offers you a deal before buying one.
Choose a Name for Your Blog in 2021
The name of your blog may be identical to your domain name. But not always. For example, you may have an existing business, and you start a blog to generate leads if you sell software to Finance Industry professionals. Your domain name may be FinSoft.com, but the name of your blog may be "FinSoft Financial News & Insights".
If you're trying to build a personal brand as an influencer, your new blog name and domain name could be your real name, so Neil Patel.
Go for Simple and Familiar User Design
The look and feel of your blog are important. But keep it as simple as possible, so people can easily navigate and understand what your blog is all about.
Choose colors for your new blog that are easy on the eyes since you want people to stick around and come back.
But do try to define your look with a custom logo and consistent use of colors, fonts, imagery, etc., from page to page.
Keep navigation simple. And don't forget to add a search button. Make it easy for people to find what they're looking for. This is why design is so critical when starting a blog. But don't try to recreate the wheel.
Wix and WordPress themes can take the guesswork out of creating a visually appealing and functional design. Select a theme and design your blog. Customize your blog to make it your own.
Tap into Free Photo Resources
Don't worry about custom-designed images initially. You can find some beautiful images on free image sites. But do stick with very high-quality images that really improve the look and feel of your site.
Pexels and Pixabay are two of my favorites.
If you want to invest later in an illustrator who can create branded images, don't be afraid to go for it, as it can really enhance the uniqueness and memorability of your site. But this may not be the best place to spend your money starting out.
Get Your Blog Online
It's time to set up a blog and get to blogging. You have your blog site ready to go, so it's time to start creating blog posts and publishing them.
Don't expect magic after you publish your first post. Blogging is an activity that gains momentum as you publish each new blog post.
Plus, you'll need to promote it, which we'll get to soon. But for now, we'll focus on Learning How to Build and Manage Your Blog because you're going to want to have at least 5 posts on your site before it's worth your while to start promoting.
How to Write a Blog Post
Now, my favorite part--the actual writing. But know that you can build and monetize a blog even if you're not a good writer. Just outsource the writing part. It's very cost-effective and can help you grow your audience faster so you can make more money.
Write and Publish Content People Want to Consume
Before we get started, realize that if you can't create content people actually want, you'll fail to connect regardless of your goals. But how do you know what these topics are?
I'm going to show you how to unleash ideas within you and Brainstorm Blog Topics people want. With this method, you can publish a new and exciting post and instantly attract lots of traffic.
How to Brainstorm Content That Will Drive Traffic
So how do I come up with blog post topics?
You'll get nowhere if you're trying to develop a topic to write about each week. You can generate 100's or thousands of topics that will drive traffic in the same time it would take to generate one good topic. Just follow these steps.
Spy on your audience. This is one step, but there are several ways to go about this. You can follow hashtags on social platforms using a tool like Hootsuite. Do keyword research with Moz Keyword tool. Or one of my favorites, visit Quora to see the common questions people are asking. Look at what's been popular on your site in the past. Can you expand on it?
Create a keyword web. Use the above tools to start branching out related topics. Just start a list of all of the satellite topics around this topic. This will create massive inter-linking potential and help you quickly grow your following with a niche audience because you're giving them everything they ever wanted to know about X.
Choose a Pillar piece. A pillar is a massive piece of content supported by 5, 10, or even 15 related pieces of content. It's easier to rank an enormous piece of content, but it's not cost-effective to make every piece of content 10,000 words. This gives you the benefit of both worlds. But hey, this wasn't my idea. HubSpot uses this strategy.
What should my first blog post be about?
Let's get to know each other.
Who are you?
What credentials, experience do you have, if relevant?
Why do you want to create a blog?
What is this blog going to be about?
Who is Your Target Audience?
What Do You Want to Achieve with Your Blog (from the audience's perspective), so not "generate leads" or "Earn affiliate dollars". Instead.... demystify personal finance for 20 somethings to help them build wealth.
What Can Your Audience Do to Get Involved? Try these techniques and share your experiences.?
This doesn't need to be a behemoth blog post. Make it concise and summarize it as your author blurb.
How to Write a Blog Post According to Science
When you start a blog, you'll quickly realize blogging is art and science.
Sure, you just want to let the words flow. And I recommend that wholeheartedly.
But without some basic "elements" (yeah, science) in mind when you start a blog post, you'll struggle to achieve your goals. So keep these in mind. Researchers have put a lot of analysis into figuring out what works, so have a good starting point.
Don't end here. You need to do your own testing because you know, SCIENCE requires controlled experimentation. But don't try to recreate the wheel starting out. Go with what has been proven to work.
It should be descriptive, clickable, and short enough that people don't have to overthink it. Your title should include your primary keyword phrase.
Tip: Use AMI's emotional marketing value calculator to enhance the emotional punch of your titles. But note that their tool doesn't think numbers are emotional when we both know that numbers can be compelling.
Example, "How Start a Blog and Make $1,999,871 on Your Blog" Is that emotional enough for you? Use this tool as a guide but realize there will be exceptions.
It should draw people in with a promise of good things if they keep reading.
Body with Subheads
Break your content up with shorter paragraphs, bullets, and subheads. Make sure your readability level matches your audience.
Subheads not only make your content easier to digest. Google algorithm also probably weights headlines greater than other text as it seeks to understand what your page is about.
Check Your Readability
A 6-8th reading level is comfortable for most people, even if they have a master's degree. But if you're writing a technical article to a technical audience, they may expect a 10th or even a post-graduate level of writing.
You can check your readability using Hemingway App, Grammarly Premium, or Yoast Content Analysis.
As much as I'm not a fan of the author, I really like Hemingway App. Unlike Grammarly, this free tool will offer you suggestions to make your content more readable, and you can instantly see how it improves readability.
Oh, the irony!
Links to Supporting Sources
Unless your blog is a straight opinion piece, show that it's well researched by linking to those trusted sources.
Don't forget to find places to link to other posts on your site.
Natural use of keywords
When people look for something in Google, they communicate what they're trying to find with a query. A query is a string of words.
We call these keywords in SEO. To make your content more findable in the search results, make sure you're using the words that people use in their queries.
You find this out by doing keyword research. Use the most important keywords as early as possible in the piece and your headings. But never force keywords or overuse them. This detracts from readability, which will not help you meet your blogging goals.
SEO meta tags
People view your meta title and meta description in the search results. Make them clickable. A meta title should be no more than 60 characters and a description no more than 160. But these could still cut off, so I recommend that you check your metas using a tool like AHREFs meta analysis tool to see how they will appear in search.
Break up the content, show what you're talking about, and make the information more visually appealing with images every 200-300 words. Give your image and alt image title, which helps Google understand the image's relevance to your page.
Rich snippet opportunities
Keep in mind how Google pulls information to show in the search results and design your content so that Google can understand and organize it into an information card. More on this when we talk SEO.
Your slug is the part of your page's address that gives the page name—for example, www.example.com/blog/start-a-blog. "Start a blog" is your slug. Ideally, this should be shorter than your title, have a primary keyword phrase, and have no dates. You should never change a slug after publishing, or you risk breaking links and creating 404 errors. So take time to get it right before you publish.
Conclusion and CTA
Do have an ending that wraps it all up. And even if you're not selling something, you need a compelling Call to Action (CTA) that tells people exactly what you want them to do next. "If you like my blog, please like, subscribe, share."
Editing and On-Page Optimization
I use Yoast Real-time Content Analyzer and Hemingway App. Yoast also offers an SEO plugin or two you may want to check out for your WordPress theme. These help you look more objectively at your work to see how others may see it.