My first blog, which I started in December 2016 was a complete fail. I didn’t make a single cent from it.
One day, while visiting my best friend, he asked me if I was interested in writing articles for a new blog he was starting. You should have seen how ecstatic that question made me. I had always been interested in starting a blog because I knew that I was a good writer. English & Literature were my favourite subjects in school and deep down, I always wanted a career in writing. Before my friend came up with that proposal, I hadn’t figured out how to start a career in writing or how to start a blog. And as you know, the ability to follow your passion is a privilege reserved for the rich.
He taught me almost everything about starting a successful blog, which he had learnt from a mutual friend who was already making over $1,500 per month with her blog.
I had just started my first job after uni. It was a blood-sucking, low-paying, 9 to 5 job so seeing this young woman who was making money blogging was borderline unbelievable. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that all she did was sit at her desk at home, write an article, publish it and voila! The money came flowing.
Most times she’d travel with her small laptop and blog on the go. She didn’t:
Have a boss.
Have to wake up at 5 am.
Get stuck in traffic every day.
Live her whole life looking forward to just 30 days of vacation per year.
Chase invisible corporate ladders.
Stick to a specified dress code.
Instead, she was happy and had all the time to do whatever the hell she wanted, including being a full time stay at home mom!
I wanted her life so bad! Also, $1,500 per month was loads of money to me in 2016!
Better still, she blogged about something she was passionate about; nutrition. She was a clinical officer.
She was my first practical and living testimony of the fact that work is not something that you go to, work is something that you do.
Why did my first blog fail?
1. Call me madam inconsistency!
The plan was to publish an article every week. In 4 years, I published less than 60 articles.
2. Didn’t have a niche
I wrote about anything and everything. This confused my readers, they couldn’t understand what my expertise was.
3. I wasn’t passionate about what I was writing about
I used to write motivational stuff: ways to improve yourself, life hacks to beat laziness, relationship advice…if you know me, you know I’m not passionate about any of those things. Writing for that blog, therefore, felt like punishment as opposed to what I feel when writing about money on this blog!
4. Didn’t have a plan, a step by step road map
A blog is a small business which means that one should have a schedule and a step by step plan to help them achieve their blogging goals: to make money, help people, bring your passions to life etc. I was all over the place. Most times, I’d quit for months then go back to writing due to guilt.
5. I was scared of self-promotion
My first blog was anonymous. I couldn’t risk, or rather I didn’t have the courage to share my work publicly and also have it traced to me. I had a multitude of fears that I just couldn’t get over…
Why the hell would anyone read what I had to say?
My friends and family would make fun of me if they ever discovered that I have a blog
Everything has already been said in the millions of books & blogs that already exist so I wasn’t going to add anything original to the world.
What if my articles suck?
What if my grammar is terrible?
Worse still, what if a potential or current employer comes across my blog and uses it against me?
All these stupid fears prevented me from growing through self-promotion.
If you’re scared to put yourself out there, read Austin Kleon’s small book: Show Your Work!
It’s literally a guide to self-promotion for people who hate self-promotion.
6. I got advice from multiple internet gurus
There are hundreds, if not thousands of blogging gurus on the internet. Since I wasn’t ready to pay for most stuff, I dug the whole internet looking for free tips on how to start a successful blog.
Most times, I was looking for stuff that would help me make sense of why I wasn’t succeeding as fast as I had hoped. Why was I not anywhere close to making money from my blog? Why was there no one reading my articles even after I put in so much work?
I’m guessing you’re here because you want to learn how to start a blog AND make money! From my 5 years of solid blogging experience…
There are two ways to create a successful blog:
1. The easy way: Invest in a paid course that will teach you everything and guide you step by step.
It is self-paced and will also ensure that you make your 1,000 dollars per month within 6 months (or less) of starting your blog.
This is the method I used with this blog (thewealthtribe.com) after my first blog (bloomsandsmiles.com) failed miserably.
I wasted 3 years of my life wishing that something magical would happen overnight which would get me to a point where I would make money from my blog but of course, it didn’t happen. Learn from me.
I recommend the Launch Your Blog Biz course by professional bloggers Lauren & Alex from Create & Go who make over $10,000 per month from their two blogs.
If you have always wanted to learn how to create and grow a successful blog without being a tech guru or a pro writer that makes over $10,000 per month, sign up for their course.
2. The ‘it might take you forever’ way: follow my free guide below.
I promise to do my best to show you all the strategies.
If I were you, I’d go with the paid option because truth be told, all the good gems in this business are deliberately hidden behind paywalls.
So you’re still reading? Okay. I see you’ve chosen to take the hard option. Buckle up, you’re in for a long ride.
First things first…
Is it worth it to start a blog?
The freedom to work from home or anywhere in the world.
You’ll be fully location independent!
You get to decide how much money you make.
There’s no boss or HR department who puts a roof over your salary. The options are endless!
You’ll earn, mostly passive, diversified income.
I’m sure you’ve come across that Warren Buffet “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die” quote multiple times.
Blogging is one way to make money while you sleep, literally.
Did you see an ad from Google when you landed on this blog? Thank you, you just paid me.
Starting & launching your blog doesn’t cost much.
You can sign up for a FREE domain at Bluehost for under $4.
You will earn back all the money you invest in starting your blog. This is a reminder that you should treat your blog just like any other business because it is a business!
If you’re not willing to put your money where your passion is in the beginning, don’t start. You’ll end up frustrated for 3 years like me.
Blogging is a creative outlet.
Good, persuasive writing is an art that brings joy to writers. There’s also joy in creating something for yourself and that also helps others.
You control your work hours
You create your schedule, unlike employment where your hours are predetermined for you. As a night owl, I can’t wait to get my blog to a point where I can quit my job.
Provide real value to people.
It’s a wonderful feeling to know that your work reaches many people around the globe and helps them create better lives for themselves.
Let’s travel the world, baby!
The money brings the ultimate luxury to travel wherever, whenever!
You’ll become a tech guru
Before I started my blog, I used to fear anything tech! If anything went wrong with my laptop at work or school, I’d immediately call the ‘tech guys’ for help. My brain would completely freeze due to fear of messing up.
One of my greatest achievements is that I set up everything on this blog by myself!
I owe this transformation to Alex & Lauren whose course is beginner-friendly. They’ll explain everything to you like they would a 5-year-old!
Challenge and improve yourself daily which will boost your confidence.
I learnt 99% of all I know about money & investing after starting this blog. We learn better by teaching others.
You’ll be your own boss!
Now that you know the many perks of starting a blog, I’ll share the step by step process and the best services you can use to set up your blog. If you have ever wondered ‘should I start a blog?’ or ‘How do I start a blog?’ then the following process will get you sorted.
How to start a blog for free
Here’s a quick overview of the process:
Step 1 – Pick a blog topic (niche) and personal brand
Step 2 – Sign up for blog hosting
Step 3 – Install WordPress
Step 4 – Pick a theme for your website
Step 5 – Start blogging
Step 6 – Create your social media accounts
Step 7 – Write your “About” page
Step 8 – LAUNCH!
Step 1 – Pick a blog topic (niche) and personal brand
One of the mistakes that I made with my first blog was to waste a lot of time picking the ‘perfect’ blog topic. The blog was a collaboration between my friend and I so it wasn’t entirely up to me anyway.
New bloggers spend a lot of time deciding their blog topic because they’ve read that some hot topics make loads of money and the rest are super hard to monetize. Some blog niches are indeed extremely profitable. Such niches include:
- Personal finance, investing & Insurance
- Making Money Online
- Home decor
- Health & Fitness
- Beauty & Fashion
- Personal development
That being said, any blog niche is profitable. Heck, I know a lady who makes over $5,000 a month blogging about goats!
As much as it’s important to choose a niche that you like because in that case, it’ll be easier to stay consistent, don’t waste too much time on it. Simply select a topic that you’re interested in or have experience in.
Building a loyal audience for your content is more important than choosing the right blog niche. Remember that you can connect to all humans on the planet in this fast internet age, which is your superpower. All you need is to find about 50k people who are passionate about your niche and who are always coming back to read your content. Trust me, there’s an audience for you out there.
You’ll never meet anyone who’s similar to you, there’s no substitute for you. You’re unique. That uniqueness is your creative superpower in the blogging world.
Find what you’re obsessed with, and don’t worry if there are already ‘too many people writing about the same topic. As Naval Ravikant says, “you can escape competition through authenticity. Don’t copy, don’t imitate. No one can compete with you on being you. You can turn your uniqueness into an online career.”
The most important lesson here is to pick a topic and GET STARTED. You’ll learn on the go just like the rest of us. You can always change your niche down the road anyway.
To set your blog website, you need two things:
- A Blogging Platform – The place you will make edits and write your blog posts (articles).
- Hosting – A space on the internet where your new blog lives.
Step 2 – Sign up for blog hosting
Think of the internet as a big piece of land. Just like you would need to buy a piece of land to build your house, you need to buy a space on the internet for your blog to be set up. A blogging host helps you buy and secure this plot!
My number #1 blogging host recommendation is Bluehost – it’s what I use for my blog too! Bluehost is very popular with bloggers and other sites because they’ve been in the business long enough to understand everything you need to get started and thrive in your blog business.
They host over 2 million websites!
They also have fast and impeccable 24/7 customer service, which is something you need because you’ll need reliable technical support once in a while.
The best part is, they’re super affordable which is what you need as a new blogger who might not have all the money in the world to invest in the beginning.
If you decide to use Bluehost – you’ll also get a FREE domain name to go with your hosting plan. Can it ever get better than that? That adds up to $3.95 a month which is basically the same price as a coffee. Sacrifice one coffee today and become a business owner.
I’m sure at this point you’re wondering…
Why do you need a self-hosted blog?
You may decide to go for a free blog from free services such as Blogger, Tumblr WordPress.com. Do you take people/websites who have websites that look like this: thewealthtribe.wordpress.com or thewealthtribe.blogger.com seriously? Because I don’t and most people won’t take you seriously or perceive you as a professional if you start such a blog.
Unless it’s your personal online journal and you have zero ambitions to turn your blog into a money-making business, DON’T start a free blog.
Having a self-hosted blog through Bluehost is your best bet. Paying for self-hosting immediately makes you the owner, the boss which gives you 100% control to monetize it and turn it into a successful business.
Commit to set yourself up for success from day 1.
Why start a blog with WordPress
Just like there are many other blog hosting service providers, there are also many platforms where you can create and design your blog. These include Wix, Squarespace, Blogger and WordPress.
You should use WordPress for several reasons:
- WordPress and Bluehost are 100% compatible, meaning you’ll have fewer technical errors (read headaches!) to deal with.
- If you sign up for Bluehost, you get WordPress for FREE.
- It’s easy to set up, navigate, edit and customize.
- WordPress is super popular with bloggers, I included! Due to its popularity, there are thousands of customizable themes available for you!
- There are countless tutorials and resources on the internet to help you succeed.
- There are many plugins (software) available to further customize your blog and make it prettier.
- It’s easier for your WordPress site to be found by Google as WordPress automatically optimizes it! Worshipping web traffic will soon be your new religion, I kid you not!
That being said, I highly recommend Bluehost as your hosting service and WordPress as the platform for your blog. Going forward, I will show you how to set up the two.
Step by step Bluehost and WordPress set up
If you get lost as you go through this process, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment at the end of this article. I will help you.
Click here to begin then click the Get Started button as shown above.
Next, select your web hosting plan. The basic plan is fine if you’re a beginner in blogging. You can always upgrade your plan later if you need more services.
Next, you’ll set up your website address (domain name). For example, my domain name is thewealthtribe.com.
If you already have a domain name, you can type it under “use a domain you own” as shown on the right below.
If you’re a beginner and don’t have a registered domain, type in the domain of your choice in the first box as shown below.
Fill in your account and billing information.
You will get more value from your money if you use the 36-month plan – this will lower your monthly costs and you don’t have to think about making hosting payments for over 2 years!
Note: Bluehost will charge you for an entire year upfront – that’s what enables them to charge under $4 a month.
I use the 36-month plan. Of course, this is optional. Choose the plan that works for you.
Next, fill in your payment info.
Congratulations! You’re the official owner of a blog and top tier hosting plan!
Bluehost will send you a welcome email to confirm your new account.
Create a strong password for your account. Don’t share it with anyone, that’s the key to your new blogging business!
Next, log in to your brand new Bluehost account and start familiarizing yourself with your dashboard.
If you feel lost or confused at any time during the sign-up process, you can ask for help from the Bluehost Customer Service team via the Live Chat (a blue button on your right)
Step 3 – Install WordPress
As stated earlier, you get WordPress for FREE when you install Bluehost. Bluehost also makes it super easy to install WordPress so this next step is going to be easy, fun and fast!
As shown in the image below, WordPress was installed automatically after signing up for Bluehost.
All you need to do is pick a theme from the available options. Don’t overthink this step as you can always change your theme later!
And now to the FUN part: Start building your blog from the WordPress dashboard! This is where you will spend most of your time in your blogging career so it’s important to fully understand the different tabs in the dashboard.
Click Start Building and start exploring!
Do you want to start a blog for business or personal use? For the purpose of this guide, I assume that you want to start a blog that will make money so let’s go with business.
If you’re already a pro at WordPress, you can skip this part by clicking ‘I don’t need help.’
Your WordPress dashboard is where you’ll do almost everything:
- Customize your theme
- Write and publish articles (blog posts)
- Create pages
- Moderate blog comments
- Install plugins
- View your Google Analytics etc
You should take time to understand how to navigate it. There are loads of videos on YouTube to help you with this in case you ever get stuck.
To help you choose the right plugins, settings, theme, and an easy to navigate blog, invest in the best blogging course that will have you making $1,000 per month in 6 months or less!
To access your WordPress dashboard in your browser, go to yourdomain.com/wp-admin/
Click launch as shown above. Enter your site title and a short description.
And that’s it, ladies and gentlemen! Easy peazey! Congratulations!
The below image shows how your Bluehost dashboard looks like.
You should also consider creating a professional email such as email@example.com. Remember that our goal is to do this the professional way! I set up mine on G-suite which I pay for $6 per month.
Step 4 – Pick a theme for your blog
Now, we need to have an honest conversation about free stuff.
Think of most blogs or websites that you have visited in the past. Which sites did you leave as soon as you landed? On which sites did you spend more than 3 minutes?
I’m guessing your answers to the above are: the ones that were pretty, colourful and easy to navigate. Right?
You want to have a blog (business) that you’re proud of. The free themes offered on WordPress are an eyesore. They’re free anyway so you can’t expect glamour.
This is where you get to decide if you want to have a blog that repels your audience or one that attracts them and gets them to stay on and read.
I recommend that you use Divi Theme (which is what I use). It’s the best in the market for newbie bloggers.
Divi allows you to focus on creating amazing and engaging content, and not get stuck in the design hustle for hours every day. Don’t waste time, your key role as a blogger is content creation.
Divi is easy to use, affordable and customizable. You will have a website that looks both beautiful and professional.
Their customer service team is also efficient and available 24/7!
Check DIVI out here.
Step 5 – Start blogging!
The technical stuff is out of the way, hooray! It’s now time to showcase your talent: content creation (writing)
Write at least 10 articles and publish before you start telling your friends, family, people who said you’d amount to nothing (haha, I’m kidding) and the whole wide world that you’re officially an online business owner.
You need to have a few articles for them to read when they visit your blog.
Step 6 – Create Social Media Accounts
This is the easiest part, yes? You need social media to share your mouth-watering and genius content.
- Twitter – It’s a great place to network with other bloggers and learn from them while sharing each other’s content.
- Instagram– I’m not a fan of this one but if your audience hangs out here, you need to be on it.
- Pinterest – This is where you will get the most of your blog traffic as a newbie. A lot of people don’t know that Pinterest is also a search engine platform (like Google!) and also a social media platform.
- Facebook or Telegram Group – A private Facebook group for your followers allows you to connect with them directly.
Step 7 – Write Your About Page
This is a short (or long) bio that tells your readers who you are.
People buy from people they can connect with so it’s important to write a compelling bio that excites your readers to read your work and buy from you.
Write an honest story about yourself.
This should be done after publishing the first 10 articles.
Step 8 – Launch your blog!
Hooray! Time to go live! I’m so happy to see you thrive fam! Congratulations🎉
I still remember how thrilled I was when I launched my blog in July 2020 and started sharing my work. It’s an unmatched feeling so kudos to you.
Keep me in the know about your progress and pleeeease drop your spankin’ new URL in the comments below so I can check out your blog too!
Important lessons from my 5 years of blogging experience
Blogging is a long-term game.
It requires immense patience and time. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. If that’s what you’re looking for, don’t even start.
Consistency is the name of the game!
Just like any other job, you’ve got to be disciplined and work hard. Writing is an art that requires you to schedule time and put your creative cap on.
If you’re not consistent, you’ll lose traction and your loyal followers.
Don’t get stuck at the design stage of building your blog as most people do!
I got stuck at this stage for about 3 months. I was looking for perfection. It won’t be perfect in the beginning but I promise you’ll get better at it. You’ll improve on the go!
Don’t waste time. Focus on creating content because that’s your core task.
You’re likely to feel overwhelmed in the beginning
Most blogs are a one-man/woman show. There’s a lot to be done from content creation, marketing, social media, search engine optimization, design…it’s worse if you also have a 9 – 5 job like I do.
The best approach is to create a daily schedule that ensures you cover all angles of your business.
Fear and self-doubt will be a constant companion.
Don’t entertain them for too long. Do it while afraid.
How to Invest in Yourself & Your Blog Business
Very few blogs succeed because:
- Most bloggers don’t do it professionally.
- Newbie bloggers are not willing to invest in themselves and their business.
- Bloggers think they can get everything for free and end up with a 6-figure blog.
As I shared in the beginning, it won’t happen. All the good strategies in this business are deliberately hidden behind paywalls.
The best investment I made last year was to pay for the Launch Your Blog Biz course by Alex & Lauren. It’s worth every dollar!
Other Resources for Growing & Monetizing your Blog:
- ConvertKit – This is the email marketing tool and automation you need to grow your blog and business. I use it for collecting subscribers, building sign up forms, and sending bulk emails.
- Launch Your Blog Biz – For newbie bloggers who want the ultimate roadmap for starting and growing a blog to making over $1,000 per month without being a tech wizard or a scammy salesperson.
- Pinterest Traffic Avalanche – Learn how to drive millions of users to your blog or website.
- Six-Figure Blogger – Learn how to create and sell your own digital products. From e-books, courses, webinars etc. This is ideal for advanced bloggers.
You can do this! Go. Do. Be!
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