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How to Start a Blog

I get dozens of questions every day from readers (like you), who are learning how to start a blog for the first time. Here are my answers to the most common beginner blogging questions people also ask when learning how to start a blog.

How do you start a blog for free?

If you want to start a blog for free, you’re in luck! There are tons of ways you can get started blogging today (in half an hour or less) that are absolutely free. Free blogging platforms like Medium, Tumblr and Blogger are great places to start a blog for free and begin practicing at building your writing skills—especially if your blog is meant to be a hobby. Just head over to one of those sites, set up a free account, and you’ll be blogging in a matter of just a few minutes.

Over the long-term however, if your blogging goal is to generate an income from blogging, or eventually build a business around your blog, choosing to start a blog with one of the many affordable hosting platforms like my personal favorite, GOOLHOST, or alternatives like NameCheap or HostGator will afford you many more options for customization, your own dedicated domain name (like yourblog.com), and the guarantee of hands on help & support with any technical challenges you face over the months and years to come with your blog.

How do you become a blogger and get paid?

Becoming a blogger, and actually getting paid for it are two very different things. While it’s a very realistic goal to start a blog and expect to begin getting paid from various different monetization methods you can implement within as little as a few months of work, the reality is that most bloggers don’t ever earn a life-changing income from their blogs.

In order to become a blogger, all you need to do is publish your first blog post—either on a free blogging platform or through your own self-hosted blog (what I recommend). Boom. That’s it. Welcome to the world of blogging.

Now when it comes to actually getting paid from your blog, there are a ton of options. From joining display ad networks, to getting sponsored posts from companies that want to reach your readers, affiliate promotions, landing freelance or consulting gigs, teaching online courses, selling physical products, building software tools and more, there are many different ways to get paid from blogging. I break down my 8 favorite ways to monetize your blog here in this guide.

How do I start a personal blog?

The first step to starting a personal blog is choosing whether you want to use a free blogging platform like Medium, Tumblr and Blogger (that all come with limitations) if you’re blogging as a hobby, or if you want to start a personal blog with the eventual goal of earning an income from your blog by using a self-hosted WordPress install and ultra affordable hosting at less than $3.00/month from a company like GOOLHOST—the latter of which is how my personal blog here is operated.

Personally, I recommend going the route of a self-hosted WordPress blog, because you’ll be able to own your own domain name, control everything about the design and branding of your blog and have way more flexibility in terms of making money from your blog (which I cover at length in this guide right here).

How do you start a blog for beginners?

Starting a blog for beginners is easy, we’re breaking it down in ten simple (quick) steps here in this guide, and in less than ten minutes you should be able to get your blog started and live on the Internet, even as a total beginner. Get started at the top of the guide here.

How do beginner blogs make money?

Beginner blogs make money from a variety of sources that don’t require a large number of readers, like landing freelance or consulting clients, getting opportunities to be a paid speaker if you’re experienced in your industry, one-on-one coaching, teaching in-person or online courses, selling physical or digital products, and if you’re able to quickly generate readers for your blog—that creates more monetization opportunities through things like sponsored content, affiliate promotions, selling your advice to readers, and more.

How much time does it take to start making money from blogging?

You can make money from blogging in as little as 1 month if you’re talking about the first time you earn anything from your blog. However, if you’re talking about getting to a more significant level of income (or repeatable streams of income), 3 to 6 months is a much more realistic time frame if you’re able to allocate a sizable amount of time to growing your blog.

There’s certainly a long-tail effect though, where the longer you stick with blogging (1, 2, 3+ years), the more content you’ll have published on your blog, the more authority your site will have, the more readers who will be coming by and thus the more you should earn. For context, five years into blogging, I'm now earning over $50,000/mo from my blog.

Moreover, the time to making money from your blog varies a lot based on many different factors like the topics you’re writing about, whether you have an existing audience somewhere (or are starting from scratch), how much time you’re able to allocate to writing and promoting your blog content, if you have any relationships with more established bloggers, brands or websites that can help accelerate your progress by letting you guest post, which ways you choose to start monetizing your blog (see my section about monetization above) because some are much easier/quicker than others, how well you’re able to implement your monetization strategy, and many other variables.

Is WordPress free?

Yes! To be clear, there are two different versions of WordPress out there. What most bloggers use, the WordPress.org version, serves as a 100% free CMS (content management system) that powers the majority of websites on the internet. It’s what I use as the backend CMS to power my blog here, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly because of how widely customizable it is—and the fact that it’s completely free.

Now, the other version of WordPress, is what you’ll find at WordPress.com. While this service is owned and operated by the same parent company that maintains the free version of WordPress, the .com version is how the parent company generates revenue with their blog hosting plans (this is how they can afford to keep the .org version of WordPress free for all of us bloggers out there). From WordPress.com, you can actually start a blog for free too—but as we covered earlier in this guide, it’ll come pre-loaded with WordPress branding built-in and your blog will live on a subdomain like yourblog.wordpress.cominstead of your own custom domain like yourblog.com.

How do I create a personal blog for free?

You can create a personal blog for free on several different platforms, including Medium, Tumblr and Blogger, which are all great places to practice writing if your blog is designed to be a hobby or just for fun.

Now, if on the other hand you’re looking to make money from your blog, you’ll want to go with a self-hosted WordPress powered blog, with extremely affordable hosting (as little as $3.00/mo) from a company like GOOLHOST. Why? While you can definitely create a personal blog for free with one of the sites I mentioned above, you’ll be very limited in your options. You’ll be stuck with prominent branding from the free blogging platform you choose, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to own your own domain name (like yourblog.com), and many of the more passive monetization channels for making money from your blog are likely to be somewhat restricted on free platforms.

When you start a blog using the steps I’ve outlined in this guide, you’ll own your website—and have unlimited control over every decision you make with it. So if your goal is to build a business and make money blogging, your only smart option is to choose a self-hosted WordPress powered blog (like mine here) and affordable hosting from a dependable company like GOOLHOST.

How do you start a free blog and make money?

The best way to start a free blog and make money, is to choose a simple free blogging platform like Medium, Tumblr or Blogger, and create a quick profile for yourself. You can relatively quickly make money from your free blog by building a reputation for yourself as an expert within your industry. Commit to writing regularly, engaging with others in your niche, networking to build relationships, and position yourself as either a consultant for hire, paid event speaker, parlay your free blog into a book deal, or use your new reputation to become a coach, teacher or advisor to others who want to learn from you.

How much do bloggers make?

The amount of income bloggers make can vary widely. While the majority of bloggers earn very little (especially in their early days of blogging), as your website traffic grows, you’ll have many more opportunities to monetize your blog and begin earning much more from it. Today, I make anywhere from $18,000 to $60,000 per month from my blog—on the side of still holding a full-time job, which makes for a nice cushion of extra savings for me.

In total over the past couple years, I've made between $150,000 and $500,000 per year as a blogger (part-time). My blogging income can vary quite a bit depending upon the number of sponsorships I’m running, how well certain posts are doing as far as driving traffic and affiliate income, the number of students joining my paid online courses, how many freelance clients I accept, and several other variables.

While most bloggers won’t typically make this much money from their blogs each year, there are plenty of bloggers earning much, much more than me—some well into the several hundreds of thousands of dollars each month. Moreover, I’m living proof that it’s possible to start a blog from scratch and begin making money from it within as little as a few months. Building a profitable blog is all about creating winning habits, deliberately building your readership and finding win-win ways to monetize with them.

Do bloggers get paid?

Yes, most bloggers get paid somehow. Bloggers get paid through a variety of different monetization paths. Some of the best ways to get paid from blogging include affiliate promotions, display advertising, sponsored content, freelance opportunities, sales of your own physical or digital products, and many of the other ways I talk about in this guide (above) when it comes to making money blogging.

How do I determine how much demand there is for the topics I want to blog about?

Before diving into determining demand, let’s cover an important term: Estimated Monthly Search Volume (MSV). This is an estimate you can get from a free or paid keyword research tool like SEMrush, Wordstream, Ahrefs and KWFinder, that'll give you their estimate of how many searches are done on the keyword phrases you run through the tool. That's pretty straight-forward.

Determining a level of demand there is for a given set of keyword phrases, on the other hand, is much more subjective and open to interpretation—but I have a free tool I put together to help you check search demand, called the Niche Demand Checker you can grab in my free course right here.

If you ask 100 different experienced bloggers, you'll get 100 different answers. Here are the ranges that I personally use to determine the level of demand a keyword phrase has when I run it through a keyword research tool:

Very Low (< 1,000)

Low (1,001 - 2,000)

Medium (2,001 - 5,000)

High (5001 - 10,000)

Very High (10,000+)

Keep in mind, we're talking about the number of monthly searches here, and in the context of how much search demand there is in a given niche topic area—which is a great place to begin when you’re learning to start a blog.

Eventually as your blog grows and you have a regular flow of new readers, you’ll be able to go after keyword phrases that get well into the tens or hundreds of thousands of monthly searches (even millions), but here we’re talking about taking on keyword phrases in a niche topic area that you’ll be able to realistically rank your content well with—that still has a decent level of search demand.

The niche I chose to blog about is crowded. How do I stand out?

By being different in some small way! There’s always an opportunity to make your blog stand out within a niche of any industry, regardless how much competition there is today. Let’s take the example of travel blogging. While there are more competitors in this space, you also typically have a much higher demand for more content than in many other industries—and proven demand is a very good thing when it comes to starting a blog.

There are literally countless trip destinations around the world, and travelers are always in need of helpful content when it comes to planning trips. Just because others cover the same destinations, doesn’t mean you can’t do it too—and still find your readers.

However, in order to truly stand out in your niche, you need to think about ways to differentiate yourself and your blog content. Examples of differentiation could be things like:

  • High quality location-based photos
  • Taking the point of view of a “locals guide” to each city
  • Having in-depth written content that goes beyond what others write
  • Shooting video footage of the best sights you need to see
  • Documenting your journey behind the scenes on Instagram,

Don’t let the fact that there are competitors stop you from choosing to start a blog on a topic you’re in love with. If anything, this is an opportunity to gather inspiration from what you see working well for competitors, adapt it to fit your own style, strengths, interests and continue building your own unique style to blogging over time.

How do I get readers to come to my blog?

I’ve written a lot about how to get readers to come to your blog in my epic guide on how to drive traffic to your website. The best ways to get readers to come to your blog include first and foremost creating share-worthy content that people will actually want to read. After that, you need to nail your on-page SEO, begin guest posting on other blogs and websites that have an existing pool of readers who may be interested in what you have to say, sharing on social media, engaging in relevant online communities, being interviewed on podcasts, launching a YouTube channel, hosting webinars, speaking at conferences, getting on local television and more that I break down here.


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