How to start a blog and make money blogging: A step-by-step guide to starting a blog for beginners. Including everything you need to do to monetize your blog from day 1.
This post is updated regularly with new information and tools to help you make the most successful, money-making blog ever! Ready? Let’s go!
How To Start A Blog And Make Money Blogging: The Ultimate Guide
Today I am going to walk you through how to start a blog that is capable of being monetized, by setting up a self-hosted WordPress.org website.
If you are looking to set up your blog with SiteGround, read this guide.
How to start a blog?
How to start a blog to make money?
How do you make money blogging?
I’m going to help you with all of this!
If you are new to the world of blogging, welcome! You are going to be great at it!
I’m Chelsea, a blog strategist with over a decade in the marketing game. I quit my job as a corporate marketing manager to get serious about my niche beauty blog, so I could stay home with my baby, and haven’t looked back.
Thanks to affiliate marketing, that blog made a healthy profit (You can check out my blog income reports here), I recently sold that blog for $50,000, and now spend my time running this one, HerPaperRoute.
Affiliate marketing is my thing, and I share all of my guides, tips and resources via free guides right here!
I strive to provide easy to understand, no b-s advice and inspiration to new, aspiring and blossoming bloggers, so that you can develop your blog into a money-making business too.
My tutorials always have a money-saving edge to them, as I do my best to provide information about the best low cost or free options and resources for bloggers.
HerPaperRoute Blogging Toolkit
Before we dive right into this, make sure you sign up for access to my members-only Profitable Blog Toolkit, it includes a ton of free resources that will help you develop your blog into a business.
Including a copy of my Blog Monetization Cheatsheet ebook – a MUST have for any new blogger.
You can access the HerPaperRoute Profitable Blog Toolkit by signing up here:
How To Set Up A Self-Hosted WordPress Blog And Make Money Blogging
Bluehost vs SiteGround Prices & Services Compared
When choosing a host for your blog, you have many options, but Bluehost and SiteGround are the most popular web hosts.
Here is a quick comparison of the two:
|Initial Price (1st year promo)||$3.95 – 11.95||$2.95 – 5.45|
|Regular Price (After 1st Year)||$11.95 – 34.95||$7.99 – 14.99|
|Load Time||722ms (fast)||419ms (very fast)|
|Secure SSL Cert. Included||✓||✓|
I can recommend that Bluehost is the more affordable option, and gives you more value (and a free domain!)
But SiteGround is a great hosting provider too. So whichever you choose, you will be in good hands.
For a step-by-step tutorial on how to start a blog with SiteGround, see this post right here.
To continue setting up your blog with Bluehost, read on.
Here’s What We Are Going To Do Start A Blog From Scratch
- Understand what self-hosting is and why it’s important
- Set up a self-hosted website with hosting & domain registration with Bluehost and Install WordPress.org. (If you already have hosting elsewhere, you can use this guide to switch to Bluehost)
- Secure installation of https:// SSL certificate.
- Change the permalink structure
- Set up Google Analytics
- Set up Google Search Console
- Submit your sitemap to Google
- Install a theme
- Set up website security
- Install plugins
- Create content
- Build your blog’s email list
- Begin a social media marketing campaign for your blog
- Monetize & make money from your blog
Website In A Box – Get Your Website Built For Free!
Want to skip all of this set-up stuff?
You can! I offer a Website In A Box service where I will set up your website for you.
Not only that, but when you purchase your web hosting via my link, send me your receipt, and I will set your website up FOR FREE!
Let me set up your WordPress site, handle all of the hosting, domain registration, tech stuff, plus plugin and theme installation so that all you have to focus on is writing your blog posts
My service is normally $499, but when you purchase hosting from me, I will install your website for free.
To get started, order the Website In A Box service here and then I will send you the web hosting info.
Rather do it all yourself? Cool, read on!
How To Start A Blog: Beginner Blogger Basics
The first thing you need to know when starting a blog is that it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed in the beginning!
There are so many things to learn, especially when learning how to create a profitable blog – but don’t give up!
Do a little each day, vow to never stop learning and believe that you CAN DO IT. I’m here to help you.
I have tutorials for every step of the way, from how to blog, how to make money blogging and how to grow your network with social media – but first things first, we need to get your blog set up, and set up correctly so that it is capable of being monetized.
I am going to show you exactly how to start your monetizable blog in this tutorial, and it will only take a few minutes!
When you start a blog that is going to make you money, the first step is you need to self-host.
What Is Self Hosting?
Paying for this means that you own your website and all of your content – which is extremely important if you want to make money blogging.
Self-hosting means that you do not use a free host (such as Blogger, Tumblr).
Why self-host? What’s wrong with using a free host?
When you pay for your hosting and own your domain, you can monetize your blog, meaning you can run ads, join affiliate programs, work with big brands and even add an eCommerce cart/shopping functionality.
Free sites like Tumblr don’t allow ads, limiting your ability to earn income from your blog as well as limiting just about everything else you will want to do.
Because when you use a free host, you don’t own your website or content, the free host owns it and can shut you out whenever they please. That is why it is so important to self-host when you start a blog.
Free sites are not actually ‘free,’ because they limit your ability to earn an income, literally stopping you from making thousands of dollars a year or month!
For example, I launched a new niche blog recently and paid for a year of hosting, which was about $72 for the year.
So on day one, I was out $72, but owning my blog allowed me to monetize it, and that first month I made $1,200! So although I paid $72 to start it, it allowed me to earn $1,200.
If I hadn’t self-hosted I wouldn’t have been able to monetize my blog and would have made exactly ZERO that first month.
This is why it is recommended that anyone who is wanting to take their blog seriously and intending to make money with it, purchase their hosting/domain with a reputable host, and run their blog on WordPress.org (not WordPress.com).
I will show you exactly how to do this now so that your blog can be up and running and ready to monetize today.
Good News: Self-hosting Is Actually Affordable
When you start a blog, you don’t have to spend much to get high-quality professional hosting for your site.
Exclusive HerPaperRoute + Bluehost Hosting Discount
When you sign up with this link you get my partner discount, giving you hosting for just $2.95 per month! Plus you will get your domain for free! If you already have hosting elsewhere, you can still use that discount to switch.
How To Set Up Hosting & Register Domain Name
First, you will need to register a domain name.
You can do this by checking if your desired domain name is available by entering it in the form below, or by going to Bluehost and clicking the green ‘Get Started Now’ button.
Next, choose your plan. The first time I hosted with Bluehost, I chose the basic plan, which was OK.
But I ended up wishing I’d just gotten the prime plan, as you get way more space and features for only $2 more per month.
Also, you can only host one website on the basic plan, whereas on the prime plan you can host multiple websites which is awesome.
Also, domain privacy is included in the prime plan, which is very important, as you will end up paying for it separately with the other plans.
Domain privacy means that it hides your personal information such as your name, phone number, address from appearing online in WhoIs. It costs about $2 per month to add privacy on later.
I’d recommend it. If you don’t have domain privacy, anyone can look up your website and your information. And I mean anyone!)
Whichever you choose, you can lock in the promo price for a set term, which is a great incentive that Bluehost offers to their customers.
You can register for 3 years and keep the promo rate for all 3 years, for example. And after that term, it will go to the regular non-promo price.
Next, you get to register your domain! Enter your choice of name and Bluehost will let you know if it’s available.
Or if you already have a domain registered somewhere else, you can add it here.
Next, you will be able to enter your contact information.
You will pay for your hosting term all at once now, as opposed to month-to-month.
Lock in the promo rate by registering for a longer term.
Click to agree to the terms, and click ‘next.’
Now you should be taken to the ‘Sign up successful’ page where you can create a password.
This will be your login to access all of your website’s foundation content and hosting information, it’s important, so make sure you remember this password.
And make it a good password that no one could guess, as even if you are a small blog, there are still people who will try to hack into it.
How To Install WordPress.org
Alright! Welcome to your Bluehost dashboard.
Click where it says ‘My Sites’ and then click the blue button ‘CREATE SITE’
On the ‘Home’ or “CPanel’ page, scroll down to the ‘website’ area and look for ‘Install WordPress.’ Depending on your version, it may look like either of these images:
Click the icon, and you will be prompted to install WordPress. Click Install, and give your new site a name, and attach it to your domain!
Fill out the information to set a username and password for the new admin to WordPress – the admin is you, and you can name yourself anything that you like.
You will use this to sign into your website to create posts and content – so again, make sure you save this information somewhere secure.
While WordPress installs, a green bar at the top of your screen will show you its progress. While this is happening, you may be prompted to choose a theme from Mojo Marketplace.
You don’t have to choose a theme a yet but it’s worth checking it out.
Check out my recommendations for Responsive & Beautiful WordPress themes while you’re at it!
Once WordPress is finished installing, you will be able to log in. The login page looks like this:
You can always access this login page at any time by typing www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin into your address bar.
Once logged in to WordPress, you will be on your WordPress dashboard. On the left side is where you will see tabs to create pages and add your first post. Take some time to familiarize yourself with this dashboard – you will use it a lot!
How To Install Secure HTTPS
- Log into your Bluehost control panel (CPanel)
- Click ‘My Sites’
- Hover over your site and click ‘Manage Site’
- On the next screen, click ‘Security’ and then beside Free SSL Certificate, turn the switch to ‘on’
The screen looks like this:
Once you’ve turned the SSL on, it can take a few hours to install and activate. In some situations, you may need to take action to complete the process. If so, you’ll receive an email with instructions.
Once that is complete, you will have a working SSL certificate for your domain name!
Now, You Can Finally Log In To Your WordPress Dashboard
You can access this dashboard by going to https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin and entering your password.
You now have a self-hosted WordPress website that is ready to be monetized!
You can access your WordPress dashboard and work on your blog anytime by going to https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin
But before you begin creating blog posts, there are a few necessary tasks we need to do to ensure your website is set up correctly.
Make sure you change your blog’s permalink structure before you start publishing posts.
Click on “Settings” and then “Permalinks.”
Then select the “Post Name” option.
Your blog posts URL will now have the right structure.
Connect Google Search Console & Analytics
It’s important that you connect Google Search Console as well as Google Analytics to your website right away.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to connect Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Install A Theme
You need a quality WordPress theme to make your blog look professional.
I run all of my websites on the Genesis Framework.
Once you have the Genesis Framework you can use any Genesis child theme.
Here are some recommendations for where to get awesome Genesis child themes:
Read this for a step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress theme.
If you use any of my affiliate links above to purchase your theme, simply send me the receipt and I will install it for you for free.
When you first start a new WordPress site, it is very basic, having little to no functions. You need to add plug-ins to your website to make it complete.
One of the many great things about blogging with WordPress is that you have access to so many great plugins. Plugins are like apps that you install on your site to improve its functions.
Must-Have Free Plugins
These are the free WordPress plugins that I use the most and recommend to anyone starting a blog.
To add plugins, from your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins » Add New
These are the top plugins I recommend:
- RankMath SEO
- Classic Editor
- Askimet Anti-Spam
- W3 Total Cache
- Social Warfare – Social Share Buttons
- Pinterest “Pin It” Button
- Pretty Links
- Broken Link Checker
- Easy Google Font
Learn more about recommended free plugins here.
How To Add A Plugin
The easiest way to add a plugin is to go to Plugins » Add New from your WordPress dashboard and search for the plugin you want.
Then it’s as easy as clicking ‘Install’ and then ‘Activate.’
But you can also upload plugins too.
If you have downloaded a plugin to your computer, here’s how to install it on your blog:
1. You do not need to unzip the .zip file, just leave it as is.
2. Go to your WordPress dashboard and on the left side tab click where it says ‘Plugins’ and click ‘Add New.’
3. On the next screen you will see a button that says ‘Upload Plugin’ Click that and upload the plugin that you saved to your computer. (You can also use this area to search for new plugins).
4. Once it has uploaded, you can go to your ‘PlugIns’ tab, find where it is and click ‘Activate.’
Finally! It’s time to start writing blog posts and other content.
I’d recommend that you write at least 10 blog posts before you go live. That way, when people visit your site there will be a lot of content for them to read but also so that you can begin applying to affiliate networks right away. More on that later!
In addition to creating blog posts, you will need to create some pages too. Some pages you will need to create:
- An ‘About Me’ page – Here is a guide to writing a high-converting About Me page
- A ‘Contact’ page
- A ‘Disclosure’ page that tells your readers about your affiliate links policies, and a ‘Privacy’ page. Ideally, you should use the Legal Bundle Templates as it gives you fill in the blank templates for all 3 legal pages you need.
Check out my top tools apps and resources for bloggers and read these guides for help in this stage:
Build Your Email List
Make it a priority to build your email list from day one.
I recommend ConvertKit as the best professional email service provider to manage subscribers and send newsletters.
This platform starts at $29 per month, so it is a bit of a financial investment when you are just starting out.
Even so, I regret not using ConvertKit from the start, as when I started blogging, I wasted a ton of time using less professional email marketing tools that only caused me a ton of stress.
A more affordable alternative to ConvertKit is Mailerlite, which is free up to 1000 subscribers, and then when you have more than 1000 subscribers, plans start at $10.
Check out these pro tips for email marketing so you can gain more subscribers and earn money from your newsletters.
How to install WordPress theme
Begin Social Media Marketing Campaign
Once you have a good amount of blog posts ready, and your website is looking great, it’s time to launch your website and officially ‘go live.’
This is usually done simply by clicking the button on your WordPress dashboard asking you if you are ready to go live, and then your site will become visible to the world.
If you haven’t already, set up social accounts for your blog. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are the big ones.
It is recommended that you post to social media every day.
It can be a huge task but I have some tips on how to automate the process, and I’ve written an entire guide to creating a social media game plan here that I think you find super useful!
As well, automating your social media efforts as much as possible is very important and will save you a ton of time.
Read this guide for more on how to automate.
Monetize Your Blog
Once your blog is live it’s time to monetize! So how do you monetize a blog? Simply put, to monetize means you have added features to your blog that will earn you money.
You should add all of these monetize features to your blog:
- Affiliate Links
- Sponsored Posts
- Own Services/Products
To get started with monetizing your blog, I recommend you do the following:
- Read this guide on How to make money blogging
- Read up on these 6 ways to monetize your blog
- Sign up for a ShareaSale account and an AWIN account
- Start applying to These high-paying affiliate programs
- Enroll in my Be Your Own Blog Boss course which will teach you everything you need to know to earn a full-time income from blogging
Congrats On Starting Your New Blog Today!
Just think of how happy you will be by this time next year, for starting this blog today! Remember to take each day in stride, work a little bit each day, and don’t give up. I’m so happy that you have started!!
I’d love to see how your blog develops! Follow me on your social account of choice, I’m on:
Blog Mentorship Program
Contact me to discuss 1:1 blog coaching. I can help you take your blogging hobby to full-fledged business.
Don’t forget to download my free Profitable Blog Toolkit below: