How to Start a Blog That Makes Money
On this page I’m going to show you exactly how to start a blog, as well as a little bit of theory behind online business in general. These days a blog is the foundation of an online business, and it’s quickly becoming the foundation for any business. People do everything online now, especially product research.
If your blog or website is in front of the customer at the time of purchase, you get the sale… whether you’re an affiliate or the actual vendor.
Why An Online Business is so Awesome…
Let me illustrate my point with an example… a vacation should be fun, right? Well, for the average person who has a regular job… it can be, but it can also be stressful.
Because that person is only making money when they are physically at their job… so besides the actual costs of the vacation, that person also lost a week of wages.
Then take someone with an online business… the business(your blog or website) is always open, and is generating revenue around the clock.
That means it doesn’t matter if you’re on a vacation or at your desk… you’re still making money.
The benefits to an online business are as simple as that.
That’s awesome, right?!
But… there’s a caveat.
What Most People Do Wrong When They’re Starting Out…
90% of people that want to make money online go about it completely wrong.
Here is what the average “newbie” does wrong:
- They get interested in making money online somehow
- They end up purchasing a training course that promises to make them a lot of easy money fast
- They try it for a few weeks and get discouraged
- They buy another “program” promising they’ll get rich quick
- They keep doing this, and they never approach it as actually “building a business”
Number 5 is the biggest mistake, and is what keeps most people from ever making real income online.
Before I show you how to start a blog…
… I just want to give you a brief overview of what Strayblogger.com is about. If you’re reading this page, then you’re probably interested in some form of internet marketing.
Internet marketing is a broad term, and can mean a lot of different things. At it’s core, internet marketing is just that: marketing on the internet.
If you are promoting your business online, whether you have products or a service to sell, then you’re engaging in internet marketing. That can be done through the use of blogging, social media, search engine marketing, email marketing, forum marketing, or any other sub-category of internet marketing.
My goal with Strayblogger is to provide a resource that will help you accomplish your internet marketing goals.
First, I want to give you a few reasons why starting a blog is a great idea:
- A blog is the easiest way to start an online business
- A blog is the most newbie-friendly way to start an online business
- A blog is an excellent way to spread the word about your current business
- A blog is an excellent way to reach your target market
- A blog let’s you be seen as the “thought leader” in your market
- A blog is your piece of online real estate that you can grow and cultivate
- A blog is search-engine friendly
- A blog has the “sticky-factor”- meaning it makes it easy for you to interact with your readers
- A blog becomes your springboard for your future online ventures
- A blog is the best way to impress and engage your target audience
- Those are just a few reasons why you should start a blog… I’ll spare you the rest for now
Decide What You’re Going to Blog About…
When it comes to starting a blog, there are usually two groups of people:
- People who have something to say, and want a platform to say it
- People who want to get into blogging, and need something to say
The first group of people are usually business owners who want to increase exposure to their business, or someone who is passionate about something and wants to start blogging about it.
The second group of people are usually individuals that want to start a blog to make money, and don’t yet know what they are going to blog about.
It doesn’t matter which group you fall into… this page will help you get started.
Deciding Between a Free Blog, or a Hosted Blog
This is a decision that people agonize over… sometimes for weeks or months. A free blog would be something like a Blogger.com or WordPress.com. This means that if your blog name was prettyflowers.com, the web address would actually be www.prettyflowers.wordpress.com, or www.prettyflowers.blogspot.com.
The Upsides to Free Blogs
The upside to free blogs, is that they’re free and easy to setup. Actually there’s not even really a setup process… you just create an account.
The Downsides to Free Blogs
There are actually many downsides to free blogs… here are some of the main problems:
- You don’t own anything… the site or the domain name
- It’s common for free blogs to get erased… Spammers will setup hundreds or even thousands of these free blogs to promote their spam, and so sometimes the hosting companies delete big sections of their servers to clean up, which can sometimes include legitimate blogs that someone(you) has worked hard on
- It’s a lot harder to get ranked highly in the search engines from free blogs
- People don’t take free blogs as serious… it’s hard to establish that you’re a professional if you don’t have your own domain name
- Very limited customization… this means limited everything from blog design to plugins to overall functionality
- This list could go on, but that’s enough for now…
Actually, there’s one more, and this is the biggest problem with free blogs…
Let’s say you tell yourself that you’re going to start with a free blog and then upgrade when it starts getting traffic or making some money… What happens is that when you do get it built up, all of your content is on that free blog… You’ll be completely starting over when you setup a hosted blog with your own domain name.
And any search engine rankings you might have had will be gone and will have to be earned again from scratch.
So, it’s pretty obvious that if you’re even half serious about starting a blog, you’re way ahead to go the self-hosted route from the beginning.
How To Start A Blog: Setting Up Hosting
Before you can setup hosting, you need to choose a domain name. You might already have one picked out, especially if you are going to be blogging about your current business.
Here are a few tips to consider when choosing your domain name:
- Exact match domains are best for SEO purposes. If your business name is Green Candy, then you should try to get www.greencandy.com
- If your blog is for any commercial purpose, then you should only consider a .com, .net, or .org domain name. These three are by far the best for SEO purposes, as well as for coming across as professional
- If your exact match domain is taken for .com, .net, and .org, you can add a hyphen such as www.green-candy.com, or you can add one word to the domain, such as www.greencandystore.com
- Another thing to consider, is that you might want to go for a highly searched keyword phrase instead of your business name. For example: if have a window cleaning business in Dallas, it might be more beneficial to use www.dallaswindowcleaning.com than your business name. The reason is, if you rank in the top 10 Google search results when someone searches “Dallas window cleaning”, you’re going to get a lot of new business… a lot more than you’ll get from your domain name just being your business name.
- If you’re starting a blog to target a niche market online, then you definitely want to use a keyword phrase for your domain name, because the lifeblood of your blog will be search engine traffic.
How to Setup Hosting for Your Blog
The nice thing about hosting these days is that it’s cheap. High-quality hosting is less than $10 a month, and pretty much every host now has one-click WordPress installation.
Here is a complete walkthrough video that I made for you: (open Hostgator in another window so you can follow along)
I recommend that you use Hostgator for your hosting. There are a few reasons:
- They are the biggest hosting company and have the best support.
- They offer everything from shared hosting up to a dedicated server… This is crucial in a host because with hosting companies that are only “shared” hosting, when your site(s) starts to get any real amount of traffic, they’ll kick you off their hosting- this happened to me. With Hostgator, when you outgrow your shared hosting account you can seamlessly upgrade to a VPS and then a dedicated server without having to transfer your entire site and all your files to another host.
- They’re one of the only companies with a monthly payment option- most hosts show you a low monthly fee but you have to pay for one or two years in advance.
Click here to open Hostgator in a new window so that you can follow along.
- Tip: When you signup for Hostgator, use the coupon code “1cent” and your first month is only one penny.
How to Choose a Domain Name
I’ve always just registered my domains through my host because it’s easier, and for dot com’s it’s a dollar less than GoDaddy. To choose your domain name, you simply pick the best of your money keywords that you’ve found, and then add a word that makes it sound like a brand. This way, you get the benefit of some main keywords being in your domain, but you also have the brand-thing going on, which is getting more and more important in the eyes of Google. For example, if you are making a site about homemade dog treats, a good domain would be: dogtreatschef.com or dogtreats101.com. You can also use .net or .org- they’re just as effective as .com.
If .com isn’t available, .net or .org is just as good, but don’t choose any besides those three, because they’ll be harder to rank for. If those three aren’t available, then try your domain with hyphens in between each word, such as: www.organic-dog-treat-recipes.com. If none of those are available, then try your second best keyword phrase, and so on. Once you’ve got your domain, you just go through the checkout process.
Now, I’m just assuming that you’ll want to use WordPress. That’s all I ever use now, and it is the perfect fit for this type of site.
If you haven’t yet, go to Hostgator and setup your hosting account.
Choosing a Theme for Your Blog
WordPress blogs use what is called a “theme” that dictates how the blog looks and functions. There are free themes, and paid themes.
As expected, paid themes are usually superior to free themes, and the best paid themes provide amazingly convenient features.
The appearance of your site is extremely important. If it looks crappy, people instantly exit… they don’t even give your content a chance.
As far as free themes, you can look through all of the examples here.
As with anything else, there are things that are free, and things that are paid for a reason… the paid things are usually a lot better.
This blog is currently run on Profits Theme, but I plan on moving this blog to Thesis in the near future. Profits Theme is a great them for niche sites and sites where you’ll be selling your own product, as it allows you to setup a Membership site within your WordPress site and create landing pages and sales pages. You can do all that with Thesis, but you’ll need a third party script to protect your members area.