My blog is still pretty new, but in the short time I’ve been working on it, I feel like I’ve been on a steep learning curve on how to start a blog.
I decided to start a blog to help other people discover the RV life and see that it’s possible to make an income while traveling full time. My blog gives my readers a chance to follow along with me in real-time as I figure out this RVing thing.
There is a LOT of work that goes into building a blog. I’m far from an expert, but I’ve been giving myself a crash course, taking a ton of free and paid courses. I want to use my experience to help you get off on the right foot.
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Which Host to Use?
I did a lot of research before deciding to set up my blog with Siteground. They make starting a WordPress blog for cheap quick and easy, and even include a free domain name!
A lot of bloggers recommend BlueHost, which I initially started with. But then I realized that the reason they recommend it is because they offer a HUGE commission for affiliate sales. Most of the bloggers recommending Bluehost don't even use them themselves because the service and site speeds can be so terrible!
My plan for my blog is to grow it enough that I can make some extra income on the side to pay down some debt while I’m on the road. Making money with a blog is something anyone can do, and there are an unlimited number of niches to choose from.
The reason I chose NOT to go with a free service is really that you get what you pay for. With a free service, you DON’T OWN your content, and it can be deleted at any time!
You can’t make money off a free blog. You can’t have ads and it’s difficult to customize the site the way you really need to in order to monetize your blog. Advertisers and affiliates, the bread and butter of making money through a blog, avoid free websites. They really prefer working with more professional self-hosted blogs.
If you ever want to use your blog to make money or to build a brand and company from it, then using Siteground is really the only way to go.
There are a lot of step-by-step tutorials out there, but Bluehost really is simple enough that I don’t think it’s totally necessary. Yes, even you can set up a blog and domain in under 15 minutes!
How Do I Start a Blog?
There are a TON of free and paid courses out there. I’ve tried almost every free course I could find, but I was a little more selective in the things I paid for.
Luckily for you, I’ve collected the best courses I’ve found (and left out the ones I didn’t get anything out of) so you don’t have to do all the searching and research I did! I also put them in the order I think they would be most helpful, from the basics on up to monetizing and driving traffic to your blog.
- 12 Day Blogging Bootcamp - This is a great primer for how to start a blog. Scrivs’ whole business is helping and guiding bloggers and this 12-day free email course gives you all the details of what, step-by-step, must be done to start a profitable blog.
- The Secret Blueprint for Blogging Success - The Elite Blog Academy is THE authority on building and growing your blog. They have a FREE blueprint for what the layout of your blog should look like. You need to take a look at this before creating a single page on your blog!
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing - Michelle makes over $100,000 a month from her blog and she tells you exactly how she does it in this course. Affiliate marketing is when a user buys something on your recommendation, you make a commission on that sale. She gives great strategies for using and marketing your affiliate links to your readers. She encourages a genuine, authentic way that will make people want to buy what you recommend. When you look at the potential for income through affiliate marketing, this course will repay it’s small fee very quickly.
- Pinteresting Strategies - Carly at Mommyonpurpose.com uses manual Pinterest pinning to get over 200k page views a month on her blog. I’ve taken her course and implemented her strategies and my Pinterest traffic is climbing as a result. This course is well worth the fee.
What Do I Need to Start a Blog?
Every time you turn around, a blogger will be promoting some tools or applications to help you on your blogging journey. Through trial and error, I’ve found these services to be a good start to get your blog off the ground and growing quickly:
A self-hosted blog. I used to use Bluehost because a ton of bloggers recommend them. I then learned that the reason a ton of bloggers recommend them is because they have a really high affiliate payout. Most people recommending them don't even use them as their host! After a few frustrating years with Bluehost, I switched to Siteground. With Bluehost, my site speeds were always slow, I was having constant downtime, and it was nearly impossible to get anyone to work with me when there were issues.
With Siteground, I've had a much better experience. They ported over both of my websites for me and had a really handy WordPress Plugin to help with the process. My site speeds have improved dramatically and my overall experience has been much better. I feel much better recommending them to my readers than I ever did about Bluehost!
A mailing list. I’m still working to build mine, but the best option for building and maintaining your subscriptions is Convertkit. You could start with a free service like MailChimp, but it’s MURDER to try to move your list over once you grow past what MailChimp is designed to handle. It’s better to just start with a more customizable service that will grow with you.
A Pinterest Business Account. This is vital. Anastasia has an excellent FREE tutorial on how (and why) to set up your business account as well as what Rich Pins are and why you need them. A business account gives you access to analytics that you will quickly become obsessed with. They are incredibly important for understanding your traffic and what’s working and what’s not.
Pin automation. Hear me out on this one. I know Carly at Pinteresting Strategies advocates for manual pinning. However, in the words of a ubiquitous meme, ain’t nobody got time for that. I recommend taking Carly’s course and then also signing up for Tailwind. You can blend her strategies with automated pinning to keep yourself sane. Tailwind has a free trial so you can see how it works and decide if it will help your traffic. I can tell you from experience that, once you get started, you will want more than the free version offers. I’m currently pinning 30+ pins a day automatically from Tailwind and I recently started working with their Tribes. Tribes is basically another community for sharing and getting Pinterest content. I've already seen my traffic increase exponentially since starting to use Tailwind.
Pictures. I like Pixabay for free images and Haute Stock for paid images. Pixabay has excellent outdoors and camping images for my articles on RVing and other outdoor activities. Haute Stock is good for more professional-type posts (such as this one). The pictures are light and bright and good for catching the eye on Pinterest.
Image Editing. I’ve used and loved PicMonkey for years. You can do simple image editing (think Photoshop but way easier). You can also create Pins, and even create a collage and do graphic design. It’s incredibly easy to use and has tons of resources for making your images the best they can be. They also have templates created specifically for Pinterest and other social media. You can start with a free trial to make sure it’s really what you need.
You'll notice I didn't mention ads. I've found that the tiny returns most advertising companies offer are not worth the tradeoff for the visual diarrhea ad networks cause on your site. If you're a little HTML savvy and feel like you can work with ads, not on autopilot, then you can take a look at Adsense. I didn't like what Adsense looked like on my site so I don't currently have any ads.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to start!
This guide contains everything you need to get started with your money-making blog. I created it to save you from the hours and hours of research I did before (and after!) starting my blog. This easy-to-use list of resources will get you well on your way!
Have you already started your blog? Did I miss any important tools? Let me know in the comments!
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