Making money by running a blog is every digital nomad’s wet dream. Just write a couple of fun articles about your travels and and watch the money roll in right? WRONG!
Contrary to popular belief running a blog is hard work and far from passive income. Yes I’m calling you out Pat Flynn. But if you do it right, lay a solid foundation and dedicate yourself to make it work, making enough money to fund your travels by blogging is very doable.
In this monster guide I’ll show you exactly how to do it.
- 1 Pick a niche for your blog
- 2 Pick and buy a domain name
- 3 Get web hosting for your blog
- 4 Pointing your NameCheap domain to SiteGround hosting
- 5 Installing WordPress and setting up your blog
- 6 Picking the best WordPress theme for your blog
- 7 Essential WordPress plugins for running a blog
- 8 Adding Google Analytics and Google search console
- 9 Adding legal pages to your blog
- 10 Creating awesome content for your blog
- 11 Making money from your blog
- 12 How to get more visitors to your blog
- 13 Bonus: How to make even more money from your blog
- 14 Motivational conclusion
Pick a niche for your blog
First thing you need to do before starting a blog is pick a topic you’re gonna write about. You can pick anything. But if you choose a niche you already know a lot about, the writing will be easier and you’ll have to do less research for your articles.
Here are some evergreen niches that have the potential to attract large audiences:
Now the trick is to find a smaller niche within a bigger niche. Because you don’t want to compete with the big boys. The more focused your niche the less competition you’ll have when you’re trying to rank in the search results. And the easier it will be to make money from your blog.
So if you were to pick the travelling niche for example you could niche down and focus your blog on digital nomads. Or female digital nomads. Or female digital nomads who work as graphic designers and focus your content on that. See where I’m going with this?
So grab a piece of paper or a Google document and start writing down some niches. Also try to think of some of the articles you could write within that niche. And spy on the competition to see what they’re doing.
Pick and buy a domain name
Now that you’ve found your niche it’s time to pick a cool domain name for your blog. You could use your own name if it’s still available or think of something that has to do with your niche. If you’re planning to blog for a local audience you can use your country’s extension, if you’re going global .com is the best way to go.
Here are some cool examples of domain names that are still available (at the time of writing) if you were to move into the travel niche:
Or use this cool little widget:
Find a domain starting at $0.48
powered by Namecheap
Now let’s say you want to niche down and focus on digital nomads within the travel niche. Here’s some domains that haven’t been snatched up:
Need help? I love coming up with names. Please hit me up in the comments if you want me to do some brainstorming for you. I’d be more than happy to help you pick a badass name for your blog!
I buy all my domains from these guys. Check out their coupons for a nice discount!
Once you’ve picked your domain, go ahead and register it:
- Click here and enter your domain
- Fill out your details
- Complete payment
Don’t buy any web hosting, we’ll get to that in the next step.
Get web hosting for your blog
There’s lots of blogging software out there, but most bloggers use WordPress for their blogs. And I recommend you do too. It’s easy to learn and there are so many tutorials out there, it would be hard to get stuck.
WordPress is basically software that lets you create and manage your content in an easy way. Plus it has loads of really cool themes that will make your blog look good. And a million plugins that will make your blog do pretty much anything you want it to do.
You’ll want use the self hosted version of WordPress, so you have full control over your content. For this you need to buy web hosting.
There’s thousands of web hosting companies out there and you could spend days comparing them all. But lucky for you l’ve been dicking around on the interwebs for quite some time now and I’ve found the best web hosting company in the universe. There I said it.
Reasons you should pick SiteGround for your web hosting
- 1-click WordPress install
- Amazing support with free backups and restores (life saver!)
- Blazing fast (this will make you more money)
- Reliable and best security I’ve seen
- Click here and choose your plan
- Select I already have a domain
- Enter your domain
- Enter your details and complete payment
Yes there are cheaper web hosting plans. But this is your business and you NEED a solid and stress free foundation to grow it.
Pointing your NameCheap domain to SiteGround hosting
One more step before we can set up the blog. You need to point your domain to your web hosting. This is pretty easy:
Login to your SiteGround account and find your nameservers. Your SiteGround nameservers are available in your User Area -> My Accounts tab -> Information & Settings.
Login to your NameCheap account and Select Domain List from the left sidebar and click the Manage button next to your domain:
Scroll to Nameservers and choose Namecheap BasicDNS to enter your SiteGround nameservers. Don’t forget to click on the little check mark.
Installing WordPress and setting up your blog
So you’ve got your domain, you’ve got your hosting and now it’s time to setup your blog. I could do a step-by-step walkthrough, but my people at SiteGround got you covered.
Just select WordPress Services on their website and click on WordPress Tutorial.
Picking the best WordPress theme for your blog
Best free WordPress themes for blogging
To me one of the most important things to consider is how well a theme is coded. Many WordPress themes are bloated with code and this hurts performance.
Remember in my recommendation for the best web host I mentioned load speed and how it will make you more money? Well the same goes for themes. Eliminate all factors that can slow down performance.
The faster your blog loads, the higher the chances people will stay on your blog, the more likely they are to click the links on your blog that make you money. More on this later.
Here are some of the fastest loading free WordPress themes that are great for blogging:
Best premium WordPress themes for blogging
Don’t get me wrong, picking a free theme is just fine because in the end it’s the content that matters. But let explain why I think buying a premium theme is the better choice.
- You get premium support (if it breaks or you need help with customization)
- Regular updates (popular premium themes have thousands of paying customers, so they have to keep their themes updated. Free themes are more likely to get discontinued)
- Monetization functions (good premium themes usually come with advanced options that are focused on making money with your blog)
I use the Schema theme for my blog. Just like I’ve used a lot of web hosting services to find the holy grail, I also tried a million WordPress themes to find the perfect one. And for me that’s Schema.
Here’s why I think Schema is the best theme for blogging:
- One of the fastest loading themes for WordPress
- Simple and elegant design, content focused
- Very well coded and search engine optimized
- Built in functions for making money from your blog
Check out this cool video that explains it in 3 minutes:
You also get a 30 day money back guarantee, so you can test drive it first.
After you’ve picked a theme go and install it. Set up your typography, colors, etc. to make it look the way you want. Once you’re happy with the result move onto the next step.
Essential WordPress plugins for running a blog
By now I hope you’re happy with the way your new blog looks. Still looks empty now but we’ll get to that in a minute. First let’s add some plugins that will make your new blogging life a little easier.
- Yoast SEO (better search engine optimization and more control over how your posts look in the search results)
- Contact Form 7 (use this to setup a contact form)
- Mash Share Buttons (social sharing buttons)
- Akismet Anti Spam (protection against spam)
- Shortcodes Ultimate (extra formatting power for your articles)
- Table Of Contents Plus (add TOC to your long ass articles)
- WP Smush (Reduce image file sizes, improve performance)
These are the plugins I personally use. I also use the Disqus commenting system instead of the stock WordPress comments.
Play around with these plugins and get them set up. You can always add more plugins, but don’t go overboard. Some plugins can slow down your blog’s performance or don’t play nice with other plugins.
Adding Google Analytics and Google search console
A lot of guides on how to make money blogging skip this part, but I think it’s important. Maybe not at first, but as your blog grows more successful, you’ll want to start tracking and optimizing. So better to set it up before you start.
Adding legal pages to your blog
There are differences in being compliant depending on where you run your business or where your target audience is located and what data you collect. Do your research.
Create the pages and add the links to your blog. Usually the footer is a good spot to add these.
Creating awesome content for your blog
Still with me? Great! Good news is the technical part is over. You just created a badass foundation for your blogging business. Congrats on getting this far! 🙂
Now it’s time to create content for your blog. This will be the lifeblood. Your content is what’s gonna attract visitors. Once they’re on your blog you want them to engage with your content. You want them to comment and share and last but not least… you want to make money off them!
To hell with keyword research and SEO copywriting
There used to be a time when every guru told you to do keyword research before creating your articles. Find out exactly what your audience types in the Google search bar and construct your article around those keywords. I don’t believe in that anymore.
I believe that if you know what your targeted audience wants to read about and you know your stuff when it comes to the niche, you’ll write search engine friendly copy anyway.
Forget about keyword research and SEO copywriting. Seriously.
Instead follow the three golden rules of writing awesome copy.
1. Be clear
People nowadays have the attention span of a goldfish. So you need to grab them by the short and curlies instantly. The only way to do this is to be clear about what they can expect from your content.The golden rule is to not make them think. People will leave your blog if they have to make an effort.
Everything on your blog (not just the copy of your articles) should be clear. Visitors should know instantly what to expect. This goes for navigation, Headlines, sub headlines, links, everything.
Don’t put a bunch of fluff on your blog. Get to the point. If you bore your readers or repel them in any way, they will leave and you will lose money.
2. Be concise
You should have the mind of a minimalist when it comes to blogging. Keep your sentences short. Easy to digest and to the point.
This also includes formatting your blog articles into bite size chunks. With subheadings and bulleted lists.
3. Be compelling
This one is probably the hardest. To write compelling copy you have to get in the heads of your readers. Find out what makes them happy. What makes them mad or sad. What they worry about. Stuff like that.If you can tap into the human emotions of your readers, you’re golden.
Throw in some jokes, entertain, wind them up but keep it focused. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Ask them if you have to. No shame in that, makes them feel important.
If you fail to give your readers what they want, they will leave.
Nobody want to reads the next “Top 10 Things To Do In Chiang Mai”. Fuck those blogs. There’s a millions of those and they’re all boring. We have have TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet for that.
Sure you can write informative articles, but for the love of God spice it up a little. Informative doesn’t equal boring. Keep it sexy.
How about that amazing night in that local bar, where you met the chief of a mountain tribe. And after a couple of drinks he offered to go to his place where he had a makeshift shooting range. And you spent the whole night drinking moonshine and playing with guns?
Now that’s a story I’d like to read! Anyway you get the point.
For now you should create five articles to fill up your blog. Make them clear, concise and compelling. Use proper formatting, throw in some nice images and maybe a video. Google loves rich content.
Making money from your blog
Yes it’s time. I know you’ve been waiting for this, so here we go. There are multiple ways of making money with your blog. Here’s a short list:
- Sell your own (digital) products and services
- Promote other people’s products and services for a commission (affiliate marketing)
- Put ads on your blog
Selling your own products through your blog could be the most rewarding. But not everyone has something to sell.
Putting ads on your blog will make you money, but you need to have a ton of traffic to make it worth it. Plus ads are annoying and can hurt user experience.
So if you don’t have your own product or service, I would definitely go with affiliate marketing. You can make a lot of money by promoting products and services for a commission and you don’t have to deal with customers. And if you do it right you won’t annoy your readers.
Here’s how affiliate marketing works:
Which products should you promote on your blog?
This is pretty straight forward. Find out what people in your niche are buying. The best products to promote are the ones that solve a problem or play an essential part in the life of your target audience.
Let’s go back to the part where we were picking a niche. I used the example of a travel blog focused on female digital nomads that work as graphic designers.
So what does that target audience need?
Well in order to get some work done they would need:
- Fonts, icons and graphic templates
- Stock photos
- Photoshop action scripts
- Laptop and accessories
- Courses and tutorials
- And they’re digital nomads, they travel. So they also need:
- Flights and transportation
- Travel gear and clothing
And they’re digital nomads, they travel. So they also need:
- Flights and transportation
- Travel gear and clothing
And the cool part is there’s an affiliate program for each and everyone of these. And they will happily pay you for the sales you generate. Again, to me this is by far the best way to make money from your blog.
Join affiliate networks
Next step is to join some affiliate networks. Usually you need to go through a short application procedure in order to get accepted. My advice would be to be answer the questions honestly. Also be sure that you blog already has some content on it. This is one of the reasons I told you to publish five articles.
Now let’s take a look at that list again and add the affiliate networks that you should join:
Product: Fonts, icons, graphic templates, vectors, stock photos, Photoshop action scripts
Affiliate networks: Envato Market
Product: Laptop and accessories, luggage, travel gear and clothing
Affiliate networks: Amazon
Affiliate networks: Booking.com
These are just examples from our “female graphic designers living the digital nomad lifestyle” blog. You’re probably in a different niche, but I can assure you that there’s an affiliate program for almost everything. Do a Google search for “your product affiliate” or spy on your competition.
How to promote products on your blog
When you login to your affiliate network and select the product you want to promote, you should see a personalized link. This URL is connected to your account and tracks the sales you generate. You can copy this link and use it anywhere on your blog.
Every time one of your readers clicks this link and buys something, you’re making money.
Writing money articles
Now of course you should always use an affiliate link in your posts every time you mention a certain product. Never miss an opportunity to make money. But you can also make your promotions more focused by writing so called “money articles”.
These are usually guides or reviews about a product or a group of products that give a lot of value and are packed with affiliate links. And in case you didn’t notice… you’re reading a money article right now.
Writing value packed guides
This article for example is a very detailed guide on how to make money blogging, that provides a lot of value. In order to complete this guide and follow along, the reader needs to buy certain products. In this case a domain, web hosting and a WordPress theme.
These are all affiliate links. And that’s perfectly fine as long as you promote awesome stuff and provide amazing value. I use these products myself everyday. I’ve researched them and I know I’m giving you the best of the best.
And that’s the only way to stay in the game long term. If I promote bad products and you get burned, I get paid only once. If I promote awesome stuff, you’ll keep coming back for more.
Extensive reviews are another great way of creating a money article. A review or comparison allows you to have multiple affiliate links in one post, that all have the potential to generate sales.
Sticking to our example niche you could do a review on something like: “The best laptop for travelling graphic designers”. In this case you would compare different laptops and focus on graphic performance, screen quality and durability for life on the road.
You could use Amazon affiliate links for all the laptops you compare in your review and make money every time someone buys.
Of course you don’t actually have to buy all the products yourself. Just use the existing user reviews as a reference for your own article.
Always have a healthy mix of fun, informative and money articles. Don’t overdo it.
Create a resource page
Once you start building some authority in your niche, putting up a resource page is always a good idea. List the products and services you use yourself and add affiliate links where possible. Add the resource page to your navigation and refer to it in your blog posts.
There will be times when you want to switch or replace your affiliate links. Instead of going through each post and change them one by one, I recommend using a plugin to manage your links. This way you only have to change your main link and point it to the new destination.
For managing affiliate links I recommend the Thirsty Affiliates plugin.
How to get more visitors to your blog
We’re almost at the end of this guide. I gave you everything you need to build your blogging empire. It’s important you keep publishing new articles and keep growing.
This is your business now and you want to get as much traffic to your blog as possible. More traffic to your blog equals more money. So let’s take a look at how to increase your visitors.
This is the traffic generated by your content showing up in the search results. The best way to get more visitors from this source is to simply create more content that’s relevant to your target audience.
As for ranking your content Google uses about 200 ranking factors. Some of these have to do with your content. Like how many keywords, content length etc. And some have to do with performance and user experience. Like how fast your site loads, optimized for mobile devices, etc.
To be honest I don’t pay attention to all of them, but you should study the basics and best practices so you can optimize your blog and content.
You can use social media in a couple of ways to push your blog. And success also depends on which platform is best for you and your audience. Here are some ideas for getting more visitors using social media.
- Put social sharing buttons on your blog
- Set up a Facebook page or group for your niche
- Join Facebook groups and mention your blog (play nice, keep it relevant, don’t spam)
- Post photos on Instagram (good platform for travel, fitness, food and beauty niche)
- Reach out to social influencers and ask them to mention your blog
This is where you create a unique and original article to be published on someone else’s blog, with a mention of the author and a link to your blog at the bottom of the post.
This a numbers game. Big blogs get a lot of requests. So be prepared to send out a lot of emails.
Pretty straight forward. Comment on blog or forum posts and mention your own blog. Be careful not to spam. Only comment when it’s relevant and provide some value. Be prepared to get moderated.
Bonus: How to make even more money from your blog
You’ve probably heard about list building. This is where you collect your visitors email through your blog. This way you’ll gain two additional advantages:
- Generate instant traffic to your new article just by mailing an update
- Send direct promotions without having to write an article about it
The best way to collect emails and sending out emails to your subscriber list is to use email marketing software. The good ones usually have a WordPress plugin, so you can easily integrate it with your blog.
I use MailerLite for my email marketing. They have a free plan up to 1000 subscribers. And trust me once you get more than 1000 subscribers the paid upgrade pays for itself.
List building can be very profitable and will definitely help you make more money from your blog.
I’m confident that everyone can make money blogging. Everybody know something about something and everything can be promoted through affiliate marketing. But…
In order to become successful you need to take action, put in the hard work and keep pushing. And this is where the majority fails. They simply give up.
And that’s a good thing!
If it weren’t for the quitters there would be a lot more competition. So thank you quitters. Thanks for leaving all that money on the table. 🙂
It can take months before you make your first sale and start seeing some money coming in. So this game is only for the persistent. But let me tell you, once the money starts flowing, it’s an awesome feeling and the best motivation you can get.
So make sure you build a long term relationship with your audience. I would be foolish to do all this work and throw it away by promoting crappy products.
That’s it for my guide on how to make money blogging. I’ll probably be updating this guide based on your comments and questions. And I would love to see some of your blogs, so don’t be afraid to post links to your work.