Jon Smith

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    Author: Jon Smith
    Date: December 9, 2019

    How to Start a Blog and Make Money [NO FLUFF] 4 STEPS

    So...I have been contemplating my very first post to my blog for a few weeks now and decided that today is the day I start writing. No matter how long it takes to finish.

    This first article will be a comprehensive how-to article on how to start a blog and make money. 

    I chose this as my first article for a few reasons. One reason, in particular, is due to the high volume of searches and a decent CPC number for the key terms. This is a perfect example of the purpose of this article. Starting a blog and making money are the two main focuses of this post.

    This blog will make money from this exact post you are reading because of the volume of traffic I expect to receive from this content.

    At the time of writing this, it shows a 4,400 search volume and $2.02 CPC, and a KD of .73 based on KWE. All of this is important to tell you because I will be expanding on this later.

    This article is targeting two main search phrases. One of these search phrases boasts a 130k search volume which is pretty epic and if I reach the first page for this term I am guaranteed a ton of traffic to this post you are reading now. If I reach the top of page one I will take all the traffics :).

    My goal for this article is to give you knowledge but also to rank for these beautiful search terms which will allow me to give value to 130k searchers. It sounds like an epic achievement for me.... yeah! This will likely take several months to achieve or longer considering this blog is brand new and...well...Google doesn't trust me yet. 

    I will rank on page one for this key phrase I assure you! Watch me rank here! I will update it often! You can even search for yourself on Google.

    This is a very brave thing to claim and may end up making me look bad but I am pretty positive that I can achieve this pretty easily. I have a ton of SEO knowledge, skill, and experience to achieve this...I really do. Just watch and learn!

    Alright, enough banter and back on topic...we really haven't gotten off-topic actually because all of this will serve its purpose further in this post.

    How To Start a Blog Now

    1. Research Phase: Research keywords and choose your niche & domain name.
    2. Set up a web hosting account. Use SiteGround.
    3. Set up your blog permalinks and title.
    4. Write useful content based on your initial keyword research.
    5. Engage with your audience.
    6. Keep on pushing forward.

    If you already know how to set up a blog and really do not need the newbie-friendly section of this post then skip to the part you want by skimming the headlines below. Additionally, there is a table of contents at the top of this post and every post.

    1. Choose Your Niche & Some Keyword Research

    Choosing your niche is the first part of creating a blog. This is the research phase where you will determine the following: What will you write about? What will your topic focus on? Without a niche, there is no blog. We will expand more on research so keep reading.

    Choosing a niche can be a bit hard sometimes. It is best to write about a topic or topics you have plenty of knowledge on and perhaps a bit of interest would also be recommended.

    A good example: If you own a flooring company or have experience in flooring you could write about flooring, cleaning flooring and so many other subtopics to flooring. Because of your knowledge on the topic you able to create interesting and useful content as an authority in your niche. If you know about a specific topic then it's likely that you have some sort of interest in it as well.

    Your blog can be about anything, but it is best to have a leg up on your competition by actually knowing what you are talking about.

    If you just have a general idea of a topic but want to learn more about it then this is also great! Having genuine interest will give you a leg up on your competition. It's not considered work if you enjoy it...right?

    Researching Your Blog Topic

    Not all topics are created equal. Some blogs have topics or keywords that offer high payouts while others are not so profitable...and if that is the case I hope you really and truly enjoy writing and that this is not about the profits...but if it is about the money, keep reading.

    When researching your blog topic be sure to use a keyword research tool like the Keywords Everywhere Chrome and Firefox extension.

    This will help give you an idea of how many people are searching for your topic and subtopics.

    If you choose a niche that no one is searching for then chances are you will receive very little traffic to your blog which will result in you giving up or expanding your niche. 

    You want to write about topics that have a ton of volume but less competition. You will start with lower-volume topics to gain traction and get used to researching and writing about your topic 

    Researching Your Competition

    Before you even purchase your domain name you should know the volume of your topic, your competitors and their top keywords (these are keywords you will compete for later on) and have a good idea of some topics to write about. 

    The more you know the better your situation is when it comes to starting a blog and making money with it.

    It is like a business plan but instead it is now a plan of attack in your niche. A solid plan with high volume keywords and lower volume keyphrases to target will impact your ability to be successful and compete in your niche. This will help you keep your creative flow going and keep content published on your blog.

    2. Set Up Web Hosting and Get Your Blog Ready

    Every blog needs a web hosting account to be live on the interwebz. There is no way around that. I could go into hosting your own blog with your own computer but I will skip that for now and probably always. 

    I recommend SiteGround (Aff link)(Opens in a new tab, ie: you won't lose this page)

    Step 1: Click the SiteGround link above and go to shared hosting. Select the package you want to purchase, I recommend Choice Plus. It has a blue highlight...ya can't miss it. That is what I start with for every blog I own and I upgrade my account as my needs increase.

    When you get your package selected you will get an opportunity to receive a free domain name. Choose the domain there if you don't already have one. I use personally for all of my domains. We can talk about why another time.

    Step 2: Once you have your domain and web hosting account set up you will start the process of getting your blog ready. If you opted for SiteGround web hosting you will already have a WordPress installation already installed and you can log in from your SiteGround account.

    They have really made it easy to set up your blog...they did it for you. 

    Now that you have your web hosting account set up with SiteGround let's start step three. These are THE MOST IMPORTANT steps in this entire process. If you get step 3 wrong then you are doomed forever.

    Step 3: The point of blogging is to get your content found on Google and to be read by readers all across the world...right? Yes of course. Step 3 is all about structuring your blog for success right from the beginning. To do this we will set up your permalinks and blog title. Both are equally important.

    3. Set Up Permalinks and Blog Title

    People often skip this step and I get why. They weren't properly educated on the importance of setting up your permalinks and blog title when starting a blog and as soon as they realize that they needed to do this a long time ago it is too late. Well...sort of.

    Fortunately, you can redirect your old URL's in your .htaccess file on your server but who wants to go through all of that trouble? Not me..

    Permalinks are important so your content will be user-friendly, keyword-rich and the overall user experience is better this way.

    Lets set up your blog's permalinks and title the proper way right from the start.


    Your permalink structure should be /%postname% so that your post titles will reflect your keywords which is rich in the eyes of Google. It also helps to increase user experience by having a readable link structure.

    Your blog titles will reflect in your URL. For example, this post you are reading now will look like this:

    This is a keyword-rich title and the URL structure shows the main keyword I am targeting for this article.

    All of your posts should include your focus keyword and your title can be a variation of that. I like to add my second keyword in the actual post title but not the URL structure. I will elaborate more on this later. We need to get your blog set up first.

    To set up your permalinks, hover over settings on the left menu of your WordPress admin dashboard and choose permalinks. Find "custom structure" and copy what I have in my settings. I believe now you can just click the option that says "Post name" as the radio option.

    If you are a news website then you will want to choose a different structure. I suggest you research the best structure to ensure getting into Google News and other services.

    Blog Title

    Your blog title should reflect your most valuable keyword just like your URL should reflect your key topic keyword. This is done by creating a page on your website using the title as the value keyword.

    This not only helps SEO but it helps with user experience. Honestly, in my opinion, user experience is the BEST SEO PRACTICE. I always say that the definition of SEO is "Great User Experience".

    Another perfect example for the website you are on now:

    My blog title is: Jon Smith Digital Marketing

    My blog title may change in the future but for now, that is what I have it set to because that is the current goal of my website. I teach how to create blogs, rank blogs, and give tips on SEO. I also plan to cover the topic of creating a YouTube channel and similar content.

    My title is relevant to my content and my focus keyword is not very difficult and has a decent search volume also. Of course, that may change once this post goes viral because I made it to number one on Google for my key phrases. Others may target the same.

    To create your website title you will create a page on your blog and name it the title you wish to use and save it. You then hover over settings in your WordPress admin dashboard and then choose reading.

    On this page, you will see a drop-down option to choose a home page and blog page.

    Depending on your theme will be how you set this up. I will create a video soon showing the full process so don't worry. For now, just create a blog page with your keyword title. This will be the page that hosts all of your posts in order from new to old.

    I am sure that by the time you read this article this video will be on here. I am in the ghost town phase of my blog, currently. (NOT FOR LONG)

    Step 4: Strategize how you plan to build out content on your blog. This is very important. Never start a blog without a plan. You will be all over the place like I used to be.

    Not having a plan or strategy in place will make you work harder and get less accomplished. Right now you are in the beginning stages and you really cannot afford to make mistakes. If you do you can recover but it will be a ton of tedious work.

    4. Write Useful Content Based on Your Research

    This can be the hardest part of starting a blog and making money. This part requires dedication and tons of effort. Sometimes it requires a lot of research and could take days or even weeks to write one blog post. 

    This is the part that people will judge and if you provide crap content then no one will subscribe to your blog. If you do not provide value then you won't make it very far. 

    You don't have to be an expert to offer value and write useful content. You can write your blog post based on your research and formatting in such a way that people can understand. You are essentially researching for your readers and laying it out for them to consume. 

    Good content takes a lot of time but it is totally worth the effort. I plan to spend a minimum of 8 hours writing the article you are reading now. I want to pack it full of value and organize it in a way that benefits you as my reader.

    This is how shareable content is created gaining even more traffic to your website which increases your income. Speaking of sharing, please like and share this post on Facebook or wherever you wish.

    5. Engaging Your Audience

    User engagement is valuable to your blog and increases your organic rankings. Google loves a blog that has a ton of social engagement and just engagement in general.

    If you receive a ton of comments on your post or even a good number a shares Google notices and wants to put more effort into ranking your content higher in the SERPs. 

    To get your readers involved it is important for you to engage your audience and understand the basics.

    Types of Engagement

    Engaging your audience is easy and only requires that you request simple actions such as a comment or like. This is engagement in simple form and will really boost your rankings.

    Requesting an Action - asking for your readers to comment will encourage them to comment at the end of the post with either their appreciation of your blog post or their opinion on a subject. 

    People don't just want to read your content they want their opinions heard and want you to respond to their input. It is important to always reply to comments on your blog posts. Who wants to feel ignored?

    Most bloggers simply request this action at the end of an article but I don't agree that it is the best place. Yes, do add it to your conclusion but there are other ways to engage asking for a comment. 

    If you are reading this section of my blog post please comment below letting me know you read this part and understand what I mean by engaging throughout your content. Please also share your thoughts on engagement throughout your posts rather than just the ending.

    Engaging your audience throughout your content is also ok and recommended. Just like I did above in the most simple way, I asked you to post a comment letting me know you read this section and requested your opinion as well. 

    This is a very simple engagement and should be a bit more natural but you get the point.

    Asking Opinions - It is ok to ask your readers to share their opinion on your topic. Doing so makes them feel involved. 

    Sharing is Caring - Asking for a share is perfectly fine if done strategically. Don't ask at the beginning but more toward the end.

    Learning how to get your audience more engaged will take time and testing. This is especially important to learn if you are writing a post that has an affiliate link that you want people to click and convert. Building them up and giving them information about the page on the other side takes a bit of practice and skill. Testing different flows of content is what I like to do for affiliate links.

    Talking to your audience is better than talking at them. That is what makes your content more engaging and appreciated. I will elaborate more on this in the future. I have a whole day planned on the power of engagement in your content.

    6. Keep on Pushing Forward

    Starting a blog is easy. Building a blog is easy. Do you know what isn't easy? Keeping yourself motivated is probably the hardest part of blogging. 

    We live in a time where distractions are plenty. 

    Staying laser-focused is important to your success as a blogger, niche website creator or authority site creator. 

    Most people give up after writing one blog post up to a few. This is because they either lose interest or feel like they are writing for nothing. 

    The Ghost Town Phase

    When you first start your blog it should be expected that no one will see your content in the beginning. There are billions of websites and blogs online and people have to find you before they can read your content. 

    You can promote your content by being super helpful on Quora, Reddit, and other platforms or you can keep writing quality content and let Google catch on...and Google will eventually catch on. Especially if you have quality content that serves a purpose.

    A mix of both promotion and content writing is ideal. It never hurts to promote your blog it helps growth.

    Giving up too soon and giving up period is not ok. Keep on target, stay motivated and don't burn out. Taking time to yourself is important but continue creating content as often as possible. 

    Creating a schedule will ensure that you stay on track and allows you to keep up with deadlines and keeps the process of creating content going.

    Getting Organic Traffic to Your Blog

    Over time your content will start to receiving traffic to your content through longtail keywords you wrote about from your research phase. Though research never stops you should have created several pages of topics to cover in the initial research of your blog.

    Organic traffic comes from search engines. Researching longtail keywords that people are searching for will ensure a good start. Especially if these key phrases are not very competitive. In the beginning, this should be your focus.

    A blog typically takes a year or two to gain traction. That is if you do not promote it. If you start a YouTube channel on your topic you could see much faster results. I will cover this more in detail in a future post.

    Make Money Blogging

    Now that your blog is all set up it is time to start the second part of this article, making money with your blog.

    I am about to give you the secret sauce and... I am just kidding. This part is the hard thought setting up the blog was tough huh. No, it's actually the easiest part of the whole process. It takes a lot of time to start seeing results. It takes consistency and dedication. Hard work and dedication at this stage will pay off tremendously considering you have a good writing style and people enjoy reading your content.

    I personally think that my writing sucks but I am often my biggest critic. If you really suck at writing maybe consider outsourcing it. For a lot of my niche blogs, I outsource some of the content. I cannot possibly write content for the 10 blogs I have. That would be a miserable life. For this blog, I will be writing everything as this is my personal blog. 

    You will learn to write better, faster and more efficient as your progress in your blogging journey. I am a firm believer in the 10,000-hour expert rule...Just keep on creating. Always be creating!

    Ways You Can Make Money Blogging

    There are a ton of ways to profit from your blog. Monetizing a blog is the easy part. Getting traffic is the hard part.

    Before we get into the actual ways to make money blogging lets first build a foundation that will work for you and reward you for years to come. You see, you have to focus a little time and effort info this stage before you can actually succeed.

    This is the part where 99% of you will fall by the wayside and give up. Yeah, that is a bit harsh but you came here to learn how to start a blog and earn from it and...well I am just an honest guy. The truth is that most people give up and another truth is that most people give up just before they make it. Think about that for a moment. 

    Most people give up just before they would have made it.

    You spend a lot of time writing and your blog is just a ghost town for quite a while. You get tired of writing for no one to read what you have written. I get it... I know this phase all too well. I am currently in it now with this new blog (at the time of writing this post). Fortunately for me, I am a very skilled marketer and will be rushing to the top riding on my rocket in no time. You can follow me on my journey!

    Content is King

    Before I even wrote this post I had an outline in my mind and I then put it on a word doc to keep on track and get the content out.

    You should know the pages and structure of your pages at this point. Will your website have a silo structure. What pages will your blog have? You should know your post categories and have about 20 to 50 topics you want to cover. I personally have a word document with over 100 headlines I plan to use on this blog. I spent several weeks writing these out and planning my articles. The only trouble I had was my first post and what would that post be.

    Before you even consider the thought of making money from your blog you need to consider the content on your blog. What purpose does a blog have without content and epic use experience?

    You will need to spend a good 90 days dishing out content as often as possible and as high of quality as possible. This is the second most important part of starting a blog. Without good content you have nothing.

    What to Write

    Every niche has a large keyword that has a ton of volume but unfortunately at the beginning, you cannot compete for that. If you try for that tough keyword or phrase you will be focusing all of your efforts in the wrong place. Instead, focus your time on lower volume searches and longer key phrases. These are the easiest to rank for and with some hard work and quality content, you will get there.

    Once you have built up some traffic using this method and have gained a bit of traction you will then go after these epic keywords that will shut down your blog and make you have to upgrade your web hosting to a dedicated server.

    I know it sounds crazy but it can happen, especially if you have an article that goes viral. It has happened to me a few times.

    Keyword Research

    Keyword research is very important. Some people preach that keyword tools show the wrong numbers and they are all wrong...whatever.

    I know they aren't perfect but they base their numbers off of what Google gives them and other proprietary ways. Fine...but my goal with keyword research is not the volume anyway. Especially in the beginning. My goal is content ideas. You really never know the volume of a keyword for your blog until you write on that topic and rank for it on Google and other search engines.

    This is when you get true keyword volume information.

    When you search a keyphrase in Google you will see that Google is trying to guess your search term. This is based on your previous searches and the searches of millions of others just like you.

    This is KEY information here and you should note all of them for your topics. I love writing content based on the suggestions of Google. Google is your best friend here...Google is literally telling you what to write about and what people are searching for. This is GOLD!

    Keywords Everywhere

    To get a good idea of search volume I like the keyword tool called Keywords Everywhere. This tool not only gives me its guess on the volume of a key phrase or keyword, but it also helps me find new keywords through suggestions on the right side of my search page. It is an extension for Chrome and Firefox and has definitely added value to my life.

    I have paid $10 every other month for a long time for this tool. For $10 you get 100k search credits I do believe. It is especially great to find niches to add to my portfolio by accident just from my everyday searches. You can turn it off, however, I do not. 

    You Made It

    Ok, so this is the part you have probably been waiting for. How to make money blogging!

    All of the information above is exactly how you make money blogging. It is the foundation for the best part which is actually earning from your efforts in the beginning.

    This is the part where you reap the fruit of your labor. If you didn't give up by now then you are part of the elite and select few who actually earn a living online through blogging.

    Actually Make Money Blogging

    I know I know, I kind of tricked you above with the headline saying Make Money Blogging. It was I have stressed already so much...building a foundation for your blog is very important.

    To get to this part, part of the elite, the select few, it requires that you build up to it. Most people don't make it overnight and if you do then you are the unicorn or the rare exception to the rule.

    Content will get you where you need to be. Great content and exceptional user experience is key to success and will get you where you want to be. 

    Now that you know how to create a blog, write content and build a foundation lets get to the good part, making money blogging. 

    Affiliate Marketing

    Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting other people's products and services. This is often done through a special link like what you saw above where I suggest BlueHost as your hosting provider.

    I love BlueHost for many reasons. They have awesome support and set up that is beginner-friendly. They eliminate one part of the process when is installing WordPress. For many that is tough. That is why I promote them. Especially to new bloggers.

    My link is an affiliate link and if you purchased a web hosting account I made about $65. That is how I earn affiliate commissions blogging.

    I recommend products and services and if people purchase using my special tracking link I make money blogging. It really is as simple as that.

    Display Ads and Adsense

    This is one of my favorite ways to earn a passive income blogging. A lot of my blogs use a service called Ezoic. This is a platform to display ads on your websites with a special code. If someone clicks an ad you will earn a commission of the cost per click. The goal here is to focus on content that brings in quality traffic to your blog with focus keywords being high in CPC. The keywords to target are also called buyers keywords. These keywords are those that a buyer searches when they have buyers intent. That is how real money is made blogging.

    Amazon Affiliate

    Depending on the niche you are in Amazon can be a great way to earn a good commission from. I have niche websites and articles that review products and link directly to the product on Amazon. When my traffic converts into an Amazon customer I get a percentage of everything purchased in a 24 hour period. This is paid even if they purchase another product from Amazon I did not recommend. Sometimes you will see purchases that are a bit crazy and unexpected. I have seen some weird purchases.

    Sponsorships and Shoutouts

    If you have started a blog that has finally generated a ton of traffic people take notice. Especially people looking to get some of that traffic from you. This is how sponsorships agreements are created. Company A wants to place a banner on your website or they may want you to email your subscribers with their advertisement...which leads me into the final section of this article. I will get to that in just a moment. Company A will pay you to do this. You and Company A are both happy because you got paid and they have access to your traffic. It is a win-win situation here.

    Growing Your Audience

    So you have built up a nice blog and generated a lot of it is time to start building even more. This is really something you should do at the beginning but I wanted to keep it for the end because I don't want to confuse my newbie audience.

    The process is very simple. You place a lead magnet on your website and take a name and email in return for this download/lead magnet. It is called a lead magnet because people want free information. They will provide their name and email to get it. It is your job to make it very attractive and get them to convert and subscribe to your email list. The fine details of this will be discussed in another article on my blog but you get the concept. It is best to start this from the beginning using a service called Mailchimp which is free up to a certain point. 

    Emailing Your Audience

    Every time you create an article on your blog send out an email blast. If you have a cool tool or product to share send them an email. Please do not spam your subscribers. That is the best way to lose them. Instead, build value by giving them great content then offer them a product or service that will make their lives easier. There are many ways to do this right and even more ways to do this wrong. Focus on value and you should be just fine.

    Final Thoughts

    After reading this long article you should know by now how to start a blog and make money with it. Sure, there are more things I could add but I promised no fluff and that is what I intend to give you. I will elaborate more on each topic over time and if you subscribe to my blog you will get this epic content on making money with your blog, SEO and so much more. I hold nothing back and intend on giving massive value and nothing short of it. So, subscribe to my blog and watch me rank!

    Update: If you want to see how well I am doing with my goal mentioned above follow along here. You can also search for the keyphrase yourself and see where I land in the SERPs. 

    Finally, if you want to add to this post or have a question, feel free to comment below. I reply to every comment.

    Struggling to get traffic to your website?

    If you need help be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

    Author Bio

    I started blogging way back when it was much easier to rank websites. I now focus full-time on quality content and produce a lot of content for various websites I own. I also have a YouTube Channel:
    Jon Smith

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    Jon Smith Digital Marketing
    Online since: 2010
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