How To Make Money Blogging: A Beginner’s Guide For 2021

how to make money blogging

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Are you a beginner and interested in learning how to make money as a blogger?

There are reportedly 600 million blogs globally, with 31 million blogs in the United States that have new posts at least once per month. When you look at those numbers, the short answer is, “Yes, you can make money as a blogger,” but it will involve strategy and, you might wonder if it's even possible to break into the world of blogging and be successful.

In this article, I will address how to make money blogging as a beginner by teaching you the steps required to get your blog set up and earning money over time. 

Before you take the plunge into the world of blogging, you're probably wondering what your income potential is. Let's address that first.

How Much Do Bloggers Make?

The reality of blogging is that the vast majority of bloggers will make virtually nothing in their entire time blogging. In contrast, some top bloggers earn several hundred thousand dollars per year or more.

Studies have shown that 9% of all bloggers make over $1,000 per month, 4% of all bloggers earn over $10,000 per month, and 63% of all bloggers make less than $3.50 per day.

Statistically speaking, most bloggers fail to earn enough income to live off of, however, there are ways you can improve your chances of making money as a blogger, whether you're a beginner at blogging or experienced.

Making money on your blog involves a combination of ad revenue, affiliate marketing revenue, selling a product or service, and writing sponsored content, which all will be covered below.

How Do Bloggers Make Money

Bloggers earn money through multiple sources. 

Ad revenue is a popular way to earn money as a beginner blogger, as all it requires is to sign up for an ad network and place their ads on your site. Google AdSense is an ad network that most bloggers can use, however, it's not great money, and the ads can greatly slow down your site. An ad network like Ezoic generally requires 10,000 monthly sessions to join, and they pay much better, and their ads are less detrimental to your site speed. My earnings increased by over 300% when I switched from AdSense to Ezoic.

Affiliate marketing is another way of earning money as a beginner blogger, and the experienced blogger can make up a fair share of their income through this method. Affiliate marketing is the process of marketing other people's products or services and receiving a commission when someone buys or signs up for the product through your unique link. Check out this guide on how to make money with affiliate marketing for more information!

Some bloggers make money through sponsored posts. This is when companies pay you to write a review about their product or service, or similar. Companies are willing to pay more money to bloggers with a bigger audience, both in traffic on their blog and their social media reach.

The last common way to earn money as a blogger is through selling a product or service. A product or service could be completely related to your blog's niche or something you do on the side that your audience may be interested in. For example, some bloggers help other bloggers as a service while they grow their own. I do SEO services for other bloggers as one way to earn money on this blog.

How To Start Your Own Blog

The first thing you'll want to do to start your own blog is to come up with a blog name and get hosting for your blog. Your blog name can be just about anything you want but should be related to the topic or topics you plan to write about.

There are many blogging platforms, however, I recommended using WordPress to allow for maximum freedom. 

Next, you'll need a domain name that is the same name as your blog. You can register your domain at several places, including NameCheap, which has great prices.

Once you register your domain, you'll need hosting. If you're looking for a budget hosting plan, I recommend Bluehost, as they're as inexpensive as you'll find. The drawback to inexpensive hosting is that your site may run slowly. Short term, this isn't the end of the world, however, budget hosting is generally only good while you're growing your traffic early on. 

Check out Bluehost through my link and start your blog for just $3.95 per month.

Once your blog is set up, you'll want to start writing high-quality content. Let's talk about how to write great articles next.

How To Come Up With A Blog Post Topic

Let's talk about the best ways you can continue to come up with blog post topics to write about. 

First off, if you have readers, mailing list subscribers, followers, or other fans, ask them what would help them. Poll your audience as it's them you're trying to help. Figure out their pain points and then write posts that help solve things they're having difficulty with.

Find out what people are doing in their lives as it relates to your niche. If you're a personal finance blogger, possible questions might be “What do you do to save money each month?” or “How much do you spend on streaming services?”

Another way to come up with blog post topics is to check out what your competitors are writing about. Determine your competitors' top posts and see if you can write on those topics but in a better, more helpful way. This is also great for SEO, which you'll want to learn as soon as possible as a beginner blogger. Good SEO will help you skyrocket your traffic, which in turn, will help you make money blogging.

Another tactic for coming up with a blog post topic is to check out comments on your blog or other blogs. What are people talking about the most? Could you write a compelling piece of high-quality content to satisfy their needs?

Writing list posts and how-tos can be very helpful. “Top 10 Ways How To…” type posts can be quite eye-catching.

All in all, writing high-quality content consistently is the most beneficial. 

What Webhost Should I Use For My Blog?

There are many places where you can host your website. If you're on a budget or are not sure if you will blog long term, I recommend starting with Bluehost. You can get hosting through Bluehost for $3.95 per month by using my link. Bluehost has a simple approach to setting up your new blog and is streamlined to get you up and running with minimal technical knowledge required. Their customer support team will also assist you in this process.

Here's a walkthrough:

When you first arrive at Bluehost's website, you'll see a similar image to this.

make money blogging | how to create a blog | how to start a blog

From here, you'll want to click on the Get Started button. You'll be presented with four plan options, as seen in the below image.

Bluehost four plans to choose from, Basic plan selected

The basic plan is all most people will ever need. You pay the least amount of money per month by signing up for the 36-month Basic plan. If you plan on taking blogging seriously, then there's no reason not to sign up for a Bluehost 36-month plan unless you plan to switch hosts very early on.

Why would you want to switch hosts? Bluehost's most basic plan puts you on a shared server, meaning your site may run slowly if it grows quickly. This is not practical long term. The good thing about Bluehost's basic plan is that you won't spend a lot of money in the beginning. You can always switch to a faster and more expensive host later, such as when you're more comfortable investing more money into your blogging business.

Next, you'll need a domain. If you have a domain, that's great! Otherwise, use the next screen, as seen below, to create a domain.

how to start a blog | how to create a blog domain

Generally speaking, having a .com site is the way to go. Most people typing in a URL in their browser will, by default, think to type .com. If your exact domain is not available, Bluehost will suggest similar domain names to help you decide.

Your domain name should be the same as your blog's name. For example, my domain is thedollarblogger.com, and the blog's name is The Dollar Blogger.

Once you've successfully selected a domain name, Bluehost will ask you for your personal information, such as your name, address, phone number, and email address. You'll also be presented with add-ons, which can be seen below.

The first selected item in the screenshot is Domain Privacy + Protection, which will help prevent you from receiving spam and prevent people from finding out your personal information. The last thing you need is spam mail and phone calls that could potentially be scams.

Codeguard Basic will regularly back up your blog in case something happens and you need to restore your site. Some plugins can do this, and the plugins are free. If you aren't comfortable using a free plugin, then Codeguard Basic might be right for you.

Bluehost SEO Tools is probably not necessary. You can use SEO plugins on WordPress to do most of your SEO, and it won't cost you anything. There are also many free tools on the internet to learn SEO and help you with your blog's SEO. I simply wouldn't pay for this service. Using a suite such as SEMrush is a better option.

Related Post: SEMrush Guide: Keyword Research, On-Page SEO, and More

The next selection is the 30 day free trial of an email address at your domain. If you intend on having a mailing list, you'll need an email address at your domain. It may also help you build trust when you have a formal email from your domain.

SiteLock is not something I recommend at all. You're better off seeking security elsewhere, such as using the Wordfence plugin.

Once you've sent payment, you'll get to the screen below. You'll want to click on My Sites on the left and then click on Create Site on the upper right. This will begin the process of installing WordPress, my blog platform of choice.

Setup a blog | setup blog on Bluehost | Install WordPress

After you've clicked on Create Site, you'll see the below screen:

Create Ypur Blog | How to create a blog | how to start a blog

You can name your blog and give it a tagline. If you haven't thought of a blog name or a tagline, you can use something temporary and change it later.

Now, you'll want to choose your domain and link it to your blog. You can also select some default plugins, as seen below:

Install WordPress Plugins | How to start a blog

Personally, I recommend WPForms the most, and for absolute beginners, that's all you'll need. OptinMonster will help you grow your mailing list, which you can certainly add now if you don't want to add a plugin later to do this. MonsterInsights can be linked to Google Analytics, but you're better off simply using Google Analytics itself. You can add your Google Analytics code to your website with a plugin such as “Insert Headers and Footers”.

Next, you'll want to choose a WordPress theme.

How Do I Setup My WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is how your site will look. The theme defines the structure of your blog, the colors, and if there's a sidebar, and what side of the page the sidebar is on. Think of your theme as the physical appearance of your blog.

You can buy a theme from the Bluehost Marketplace, found on the left of the screen where you logged into previously. You can also get a free theme by logging into your new WordPress website and clicking on appearance -> Themes on the left side. See below:

Setup WordPress Theme | Popular WordPress themes

Note, your left sidebar might look different. This is a picture from The Dollar Blogger in which I have several plugins installed. At the top of the page, you'll see Add New next to Themes. Click that, and you'll be presented with a plethora of themes.

You can search themes based on filters to help you find exactly what you want or simply surf through themes that you like. Here's what the filter page looks like:

Filter WordPress Themes | How to pick a theme for my blog | How to make money blogging

Free themes are generally limited, and if you're going to get serious about blogging, then using a paid theme may make sense. You can also use a page builder tool like Elementor to create your website. 

Coming Up With Blog Categories And Content

Your niche likely has topics and subtopics that you can talk about. For example, The Dollar Blogger has topics that fall under saving money, making money, getting out of debt, and budgeting.

To create categories, click on the upper left side of the screen where you see Posts and then click Categories, as seen in the below screenshot:

WordPress Categories | Setup Categories on Your Blog

Here you can name your categories and provide a slug. A slug is the URL name for the category. So, if your topic was “Money Saving Tips,” then your slug might be “money-saving-tips.” Slugs should be in lowercase, have letters and numbers, and hyphens. Slugs should not have special characters or spaces.

Now that you've created the basic design for your blog, you'll want to write your first post. I'll go into that below.

How To Run A Successful Blog

Running a successful blog requires commitment and dedication. Whether you blog part-time or full-time, you'll need to work hard to make money blogging successfully.

Successful bloggers have a plan and structure they follow. As a blogger, I regularly evaluate how I go through the day and make sure I'm making good use of my time.

What's a blog without posts? Let's talk about that!

How To Start A Blog Post

There's a lot that goes into a blog post. When you're thinking of how to start a blog post, you might simply think that you need a topic and write about it to the best of your knowledge. Instead, I would challenge you to research each topic you write about. 

Instead of simply writing about your personal knowledge, read up on as much detail as you can, and share what you've learned, adding your own personal spin.

Writing successful blog posts requires research into what your readers want to read and how you will present it to them. The best blogs are blogs that either solve problems or answer questions.

When coming up with a blog post, you'll want to think about your readers' pain points. What's on their mind? What are they troubled by? How can you help?

You may be tempted to write a blog post similar to a journal entry where you talk about something in your life, but if your blog post doesn't draw in your readers by helping them in some way, then you probably won't have many readers long term. By focusing on providing amazing and helpful content, you will have a much better chance of succeeding as a blogger.

How to Use SEMrush to do Keyword Research for Your Blog Posts

SEMrush is an SEO suite that has a powerful keyword research tool. You can learn things about keywords such as keyword volume, how hard it is to rank on the keyword, related and similar keywords, and who the top ranking websites are on Google for each keyword you inspect.

You can add keywords to a list for further analysis or for export to a spreadsheet. From there, you can develop ideas for your blog posts.

Let's do a brief overview of how to use SEMrush to do keyword research. You can use my link to get a 7-day free trial. After that, if you choose to keep SEMrush, you'll pay $120/month for the base package. In the beginning, this might not make sense, but having an SEO suite eventually can be hugely beneficial. 

When you first log into SEMrush, you'll want to navigate to the upper left, where it says SEO, and click Keyword Overview, as seen below.

Next, type in some ideas into the keyword overview box. You can type in up to 100, but you can certainly simply type in a handful. For this example, I typed in

  • How to save money
  • How to make money as a blogger
  • How to make a budget
  • Best side hustles

When I submit the form by clicking on Analyze, the following screen pops up.

You can see that these keywords are pretty competitive, ranging from just over 72 to as high as 83. The volume is very high, so we know these are topics people are searching for.

So now, we want to find less competitive keywords that we can write about. For this example, let's use the “how to save money” keyword. 

Upon clicking on that keyword, the following screen comes up.

There's a lot of data here, so let's focus on the bottom three sections. There are 12.8K keyword variations, 12.1K questions, and 1.3K related keywords. That's quite a lot to go through.

Good SEO practices tell us that answering questions and solving problems is a key factor in ranking. So let's click on “View All 12,094 Keywords” under questions.

We get a list of all of the questions people are asking. Note: KD% stands for Keyword Difficulty percentage, which is on a scale from 1 to 100. It's helpful to find less competitive keywords.

To find less competitive keywords, we can click on the KD% filter and insert a maximum value. Let's use 70 for this example.

After applying the keyword difficulty filter, we can now get some great ideas to write about saving money.

Now, of course, this method can be used with any niche and any topic. Simply type in some keyword ideas and look up your questions. 

SEMrush is an amazing tool for this type of keyword research. Using this SEMrush 7-day free trial link, you may be able to do several months to a year's worth of keyword research. 

How to Use Social Media to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

Social media is a great place to get traffic to your blog. This is especially true when your blog is younger, and you're not getting traffic from search engines.

When you start your blog, create social media profiles on all platforms where it makes sense to you. This could be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and wherever you plan to share content.

Fill in your profiles to include as much information as makes sense about your blog.

From there, you'll want to promote your content regularly. Create a social media schedule using a tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite. SEMrush also has a social media scheduler if you're using it for your SEO needs already.

Make your content easy to share so that others will share your articles. You can use a social sharing plugin like Grow by Mediavine to allow others to easily share your blog posts on their own social media accounts.

Do your best to share content when your audience is most active. Social media schedulers generally pull this information for you to help you make informed decisions as to when to share your blog content.

Use images whenever possible, especially when you're not sharing a blog post. Visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared than other content.

Of course, you'll want to engage with your audience consistently. Stand out from other websites in your niche by interacting as much as possible with your audience. This will make them know you're interested in them and build brand loyalty.

Focus on SEO from the Very Beginning when You Blog

It's crucial to start SEO for your blog early on. SEO can take between four and six months to pick up results if you're a new domain, but you can certainly start appearing on Google earlier. 

When you're starting your own blog, you'll want to consider reading about SEO. Neil Patel is considered one of the top SEO gurus, and I highly recommend that you check out his YouTube channel and website for all things SEO.

You can also use an SEO plugin such as Yoast on your blog. Yoast will help you determine if your blog post is optimized for search engines. While Yoast won't actually affect your position on a search engine, it will provide feedback to steer your posts in the right direction.

If you want to dive in deep, you can use a tool like SEMrush to take care of almost all of your SEO needs, including:

  • Keyword research
  • Site audits
  • Research into your competitors
  • Keyword position tracking on Google
  • On-page SEO recommendations
  • And more…

You can get a 7-day free trial of SEMrush using my link.

If keyword research is daunting for you, or you're unsure where to start, I can help you! I offer keyword research and other SEO services. Please check out my SEO services, and let's start a conversation.

How To Blog For Profit

When blogging for profit, it's essential that you have a strategy from early on that evolves as you learn what is working and what isn't. You'll also want to understand that the overwhelming majority of blogs don't earn more than coffee money in their first 4-6 months. Some blogs can take as long as 12 months or longer to earn any noticeable money.

That said, to earn a full-time income as a blogger, you may be blogging as long as three years or more. That's why it's hard to judge how much money you can make blogging. As you begin to blog more regularly, you'll build up an income from ads, affiliate marketing, and any products or services you offer.

It's important to understand a statistic that less than 10% of bloggers earn a full-time income from their blogs. You have to set yourself out from the competition and truly treat your blog like a real business. There's a saying that goes, “blogging is a marathon, not a sprint,” and what that means is that you have to be in it for the long haul if you want to blog for profit. 

Very few bloggers make a lot of money early on. Those that stick around for the long haul are much more likely to earn a consistent income that grows and grows.

Let's go into some specifics on how to make money blogging.

How To Grow Your Email List

Your email list is a quick way to access your readers. Many of your most loyal readers can be found on your mailing list. Let's talk about ways to grow your mailing list, as you can use your list to market products and services to, as well as nurture your community.

To allow people to sign up to your mailing list, create a form that asks for their email, and optionally, their name, on your blog. It makes sense to have a form on each page, such as in the middle of your blog posts, on your sidebar, or in your header as a Hello Bar.

Offering something for free is a great way to increase how many people sign up. For example, we offer a free guide on how to save money when readers sign up for our site. 

As your email list grows, you will learn what your subscribers are interested in and can create and market appropriate products and services. This is a great way to monetize your blog.

For creating a mailing list, I recommend using a tool that will allow you to grow effectively and manage your subscribers efficiently. ConvertKit is excellent for that and is my recommended email service provider once you're ready to grow.

How To Monetize Your Blog

In this section, I'll talk about popular methods for monetizing your blog so that you can start earning money, even as a beginner blogger.

First off, make sure your blog is easy to navigate and looks appealing. You don't need a perfect website by any means, but if your site isn't easy to get around, then many people won't stay as long.

Ensure that your content is helpful. People read blogs to get help with questions or issues they're having. Focus on your reader and how you can help them. This means covering topics in as much detail as you can and providing resources where appropriate.

By doing all of this, you will gain more traffic, and traffic is the key to monetizing a blog. Essentially speaking, the more traffic you have and the higher income you're making per user, the more successful you'll be as a blogger. 

How To Make Money On Your Blog Through AdSense

While you don't have to put ads on your blog, nor will they be your primary source of monetization in the long run, using an ad network like Google AdSense can help you make money blogging.

Note that while you can earn money from AdSense, the ads will likely slow down your site, and the pay isn't great. This guide is included as AdSense is somewhat easy to get approved for and can start your monetization journey early. A more standardized ad network, like Ezoic, is your best bet once you have more traffic.

Here's how to get started. First, navigate to Google AdSense. Then, use your Gmail account to sign in. If you don't have a Gmail account, you can sign up for a free one here.

After you've signed into AdSense using your Gmail account, you will see this pane on the left:

How to get started with AdSense | How to monetize your blog

Click on Sites, and then on the right, click on Add Site. You will be prompted for the URL of your website. After you enter your website, you'll be presented with a code that looks similar to below:

How to monetize your blog

Copy this code into your blog's header. You can do this by using a free plugin such as Insert Headers and Footers. Once you've inserted this code, click Submit at the bottom of the screen.

There are some rules to Google AdSense, including what you are and are not allowed to have in your blog's content. You also must have some amount of content already available. Google AdSense will reject your application if your blog is empty or has inappropriate content.

If you are unsure whether you should apply for Google AdSense just yet, read the terms of service. If you do get rejected, you can simply reapply again after you fulfill the requirements.

It can take up to a few weeks to get approved for Google AdSense, so don't panic if you don't hear anything right away. Some approvals can be quicker as well.

Making Money on Your Blog With Ezoic – A Premium Ad Network

Once you've reached 10,000 monthly sessions, you're ready to skyrocket your ad revenue with a premium ad network. Check out Ezoic, a premium ad network. With Ezoic, you'll potentially earn multiple times more money per visitor than you will with AdSense.

Signing up for Ezoic is simple, and you'll be contacted by an account manager to get everything set up if you qualify. 

There aren't any contracts with Ezoic. If you ever become unhappy with the network, you can leave immediately. 

Making Money through Affiliate Marketing as a Blogger

You can monetize your blog via affiliate marketing, and there are books and courses dedicated to this. Here are a few basic examples and some networks that you can apply for below. 

Affiliate marketing is when brands and companies give you a commission to share a link to their product or service, followed by a user clicking the link and completing the offer, such as purchasing something. 

For example, Bluehost offers a $3.95 per month hosting plan through my affiliate link, and if you use my link to sign up, I will earn a commission. This does not cost you anything, but it's Bluehost's way of marketing through others.

Oftentimes, affiliate marketing costs less than spending money on advertising, so many companies are more than willing to offer bloggers a cut of the sales.

Affiliate marketing can be a major source of income for blogging. Even a beginner blogger can start earning affiliate sales, whether through a website like Amazon or through more specific companies that can be found on affiliate networks.

If you know your audience well, you'll be able to find just the right products to review or teach them about, and that will help you make money blogging through affiliate marketing.

Some popular affiliate networks include:

Check out this guide on affiliate marketing for beginners for more details.

Making Money Off Sponsored Posts

It's also possible to make money as a blogger through sponsored posts. As a beginner, it may be more difficult to earn significant income through this method as you become more appealing to brands when you have a larger audience.

As you're growing your social media following and traffic on your blog, you become more valuable to other brands in which you may share a review of their product or service. 

A sponsored post is when you offer to write about a company's product or service in exchange for money. You must disclose that your article is sponsored when you do this. Generally, an agreement is made beforehand, and the company will review your article before you post it, and then they will pay you.

As a beginner blogger, you'll likely not earn a lot from a sponsored post, if a brand will even consider you. However, bigger bloggers can earn thousands of dollars from a single post. This becomes a lucrative way to earn money if you can find one brand per month to write about in this manner.

One way to find brands to write sponsored content is to create a media kit that summarizes your blog's traffic, audience size, niche, mission, and traffic demographics. From there, you could reach out to brands in your niche, or, optionally, if a brand reaches out to you, you'll be prepared with information to provide them.

For example, a finance blog might work with a company that offers an app that helps users find better deals on insurance. The blogger may write a detailed review of the app and add it to their blog in exchange for a one-time payment.

However you do sponsored content, make sure to have everything in writing so that both you as the blogger and the company you're working with agree on the terms before anything is written and any money exchanges hands.

Selling a Product or Service to Make Money Blogging, Even as a Beginner

Selling a product or service is a great way to make money as a blogger, even when you're a beginner. Some products include:

  • Printables
  • eBooks
  • Courses
  • Physical products, especially in the craft niche

You can also offer a service. Services could be related to your niche, or some bloggers offer blogging related services to other bloggers. 

When creating a product or service, you, as a blogger, need to figure out what your readers need in their lives. What can you offer that they need and are willing to pay for? 

Those are the kinds of questions you have to ask yourself when developing a product or service.

Doing market research is helpful. One way to do market research is to poll your mailing list or your social media following. Determining information about your target audience will help you shape the perfect offer for them.

How Long Does It Take To Make Money Blogging?

There's no right answer to “how long does it take to make money blogging?” This will depend highly on how you build your audience, what you sell, and what niche you're in.

Some bloggers will begin to earn money in their first few months. However, most bloggers will likely take up to a year to earn money, and it may be two years to earn part-time income and three or more years to earn a full-time income.

Those who make large amounts of money as a blogger are in it for the long haul and are focused on helping their readers as much as possible.

How Often Should I Blog To Make Money?

Blogging more frequently is a great way to build more traffic to your blog quicker. You certainly don't have to blog five days a week, but the difference between once a week and three times a week could be significant.

When you have less total content on your blog, it makes sense to write as much as possible. It's generally recommended to have around 50 total blog posts on your blog to start ranking on Google. 

One strategy is to focus purely on writing great content for 50 posts, and then start to taper off a little and focus more on monetization and tweaking old content for SEO.

Aside from quantity of articles, you'll also want quality. Longer content generally ranks better.

Wrapping It Up

If you're serious about blogging and you want to make a living blogging, consider taking a course to get the nitty-gritty of everything you need to know. The initial investment will be worth it because it will eliminate a lot of the guesswork when you're new and unsure how to proceed.

In this article, we went over how to make money as a beginner blogger by discussing

  • How to start a blog
  • How to write a blog post
  • An overview of keyword research
  • An overview of social media and SEO
  • How to monetize your blog through ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and products and services

Now you have the knowledge to get started. A great way to get started is to simply start. As you get better at blogging, your blog will get bigger and better.

What blogging questions do you have?

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Jake
1 year ago

Awesome run down Bo, I enjoyed reading this. I wish google keyword planner was still free but you’re totally right, even $2.00 is worth access to their data.

Liz
Liz
1 year ago

Super helpful – really enjoyed this. Well written and clear! Thanks for sharing!

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