How To Start A Blog In 2018 And Make Money Blogging: The Ultimate Guide
How to start a blog and make money blogging – This post has been updated January 17, 2018 with new information and tools to help you make the most successful, money-making blog ever!
How To Start A Blog In 2018 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 with Siteground!
How do you start a blog?
How do you start a profitable blog?
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!
It’s my passion and mantra at HerPaperRoute 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.
My tutorials always have a money-saving edge to them too, as I do my best to provide information about the best low cost or free options and resources for bloggers. Helping you succeed at blogging is my ultimate goal and your success makes me so happy!
You have made a wise decision today to finally start a blog!
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. You can get in by signing up here:
How To Start A Blog:
How To Set Up A Self-Hosted WordPress Blog With Siteground And Make Money Blogging
This guide below will show you how to:
- Understand what self-hosting is and why it’s important
- Set up a self-hosted website with hosting & domain registration with Siteground – or how to easily switch to Siteground if you already have a blog hosted elsewhere
- Install WordPress.org
- 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
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 plus give you my Blog Boss course, all for just $299.
With Website In A Box, you will get my full profitable blog training course Blog Boss, but you won’t have to worry about any of the initial blog set up aspects because I will do it for you!
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.
This option also comes with a month of tech support!
Order the Website In A Box service here.
Rather Do It All Yourself? Cool, Read On!
Today is the day you start your blog! You can do it, @Herpaperroute is here to help!! Click To Tweet
HOW TO START A BLOG:
WHAT IS THE FIRST THING AN ASPIRING BLOGGER NEEDS TO KNOW?
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.
1. WHAT IS SELF HOSTING?
Self-hosting is when you own your own domain, and you pay a company such as Siteground, or others – (here’s a list of top 8 Web hosting providers) to allow your site to be viewable and ‘live’ on the Internet. 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).
Related: What’s the difference between WordPress.org and .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! There are many great options for hosting plans available (I have written about my top 8) but my number #1 choice is Siteground, which we will be talking about and doing a step-by-step walkthrough in this tutorial.
With Siteground you will get free WordPress.org hosting and a ton of web space. Siteground provides an incredible amount of value at an affordable price.
>> SITEGROUND SALE! When you sign up with this link you get 60% off all packages, making the starter plan just $3.95 per month! If you already have hosting elsewhere, you can still use that discount to switch. And they will even migrate your old site to the new oe for free!
HOW TO START A BLOG:
2. HOW TO SET UP HOSTING AND INSTALL WORDPRESS
In this video, I will show you how to start a blog that is self-hosted.
This is a step by step tutorial on how to set up hosting with Siteground and install WordPress.org.
There is also a text version of the tutorial below.
This video is a lecture that is included in my training course: BlogBoss! Profitable Blog From The Start. This course covers everything you need to know to create, run, market and monetize a blog. I cover affiliate marketing, sales funnels, list building, literally everything for the business of blogging. Sign up for the class here.
START A BLOG, STEP-BY-STEP
SET UP HOSTING & REGISTER DOMAIN NAME
Go to: Siteground and choose your WordPress hosting package.
If you already have a website and just need to transfer it to Siteground, read this: How to switch from Bluehost to Siteground – and get your money back!
Otherwise, to set up a new WordPress website, read on!
I recommend the GrowBig package as for just $2 more than the StartUp package, you get double the web space and visitor capacity. The StartUp package is good, but it is limited to only 10GB webspace and 10,000 monthly visits.
10,000 monthly visits may seem like a lot to you now, but if you follow any of my blog traffic guides you will find that your monthly visits number will be well above that cap. I had 10,000 monthly visitors just 6 weeks after launching my new blog, so it’s definitely better to choose the GrowBig package.
GrowBig also gives you the ability to host multiple websites which will be a big time and money saver if you want to run multiple money-making niche sites.
Select the package that is right for you and then choose ‘Get a new hosting account.’ Then select either ‘Register a new domain’ or ‘I already have a domain’ if you want to transfer an existing domain.
If you are starting a new blog with a new domain, enter the domain name you want for your blog instead – and make sure you spell it correctly, it can’t be changed later!
Next, you can enter your account and payment information, along with selecting additional products. I highly recommend you purchase private domain hosting. This will protect your personal information.
Once you have paid, you will get a notification that your account has been successfully created! Now you can proceed to the Customer Area where you will be able to choose a username and password for accessing your Siteground dashboard and CPanel.
3. INSTALL WORDPRESS
Option One: If you already have a website with another host, and you just need to move it to Siteground, this is what to do:
Once you are logged in to your new Siteground dashboard choose ‘support’ and then open a ticket to request to have your website transferred to the new host. A Siteground support rep will transfer your website free of charge.
This can take up to 24 hours. You can skip the ‘option 2’ steps below, but scroll down to where I have listed the ‘tasks’ that you will need to do once your website transfer is complete.
For more details on transferring your website to Siteground, read: How to switch from Bluehost to Siteground – and get your money back!
Option 2: If you are starting a completely new website with a new domain, this is what you need to do:
When you are logged into the Siteground Customer Area, you will see a popup asking you if you want to have WordPress preinstalled on your account. Yes, you do! Select that option and click on the Proceed button.
This WordPress SetUp Wizard makes installing WordPress super easy and is one of the reasons I love Siteground. It is very user-friendly and doesn’t require any tech skills!
The next page consists of two parts. In the first one, enter the login information for your new WordPress application. (‘Application’ is your blog.)
Choose a username and password, and make both something hard to guess. Never use ‘Admin’ as your username, because hackers will have no problem getting into your site with such a simple username.
Next, scroll down and pick one of the free WordPress themes available in the Wizard and click on the Submit button once again. Don’t worry, you can change your theme later.
Finally, you will see a quick summary of your WordPress installation, including from where to access your admin area, your username, and your password. Click Submit and WordPress will be installed and configured for you and you will be given the login details.
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.
4. CHANGE THE PERMALINK STRUCTURE
Make sure you change your blog’s permalink structure before you start publishing posts!
1. Click on “Settings” and then “Permalinks.”
2. Then select the “Post Name” option.
Your blog posts URL will now have the right structure.
5. SET UP GOOGLE ANALYTICS
- Create a free Google Analytics account.
- Install this free plugin to easily install and monitor your Google analytics within WordPress.
- Follow the plugins prompts to authenticate your account.
6. SET UP GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE & YOAST
The following information comes from the official guide from Yoast. Make sure you have the Yoast Plugin installed.
1. Go to Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and sign in with your Google account.
2. Click the red button to add your website. ‘Property’ means website.
3. Next, in the popup, add your website URL and click the blue button.
4. Click the ‘ Alternative Method’ tab. You will be given a code. Only copy the code that is in the parenthesis after content, as per the image below:
5. Go back to your WordPress dashboard and on the left hand side, click ‘SEO and then ‘Dashboard.’
6. Click on the ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab and add the code under ‘Google Search Console’. Click ‘Save Changes’.
7. Lastly, go back to Google Search Console and click ‘verify.’
ENABLE ADVANCED YOAST SETTINGS
1. In your WordPress dashboard look on the left hand side, click ‘SEO and then ‘Dashboard.’
2. Click on the ‘Features’ tab.
3. Toggle the ‘Advanced settings pages’ switch to enabled.Click ‘save’.
GET YOUR SITEMAP
1. In your WordPress dashboard look on the left hand side, click ‘SEO and then ‘XML Sitemaps.’
2. Toggle the switch to ‘enabled.’
3. The screen automatically expands with additional options for the sitemaps. Customize your sitemap using the newly displayed tabs.
4. Click ‘Save Changes’ to activate XML Sitemaps.
5. View your new XML Sitemap by clicking the ‘XML Sitemap’ button.
7. SUBMIT SITEMAP TO GOOGLE
- Sign in to Google Search Console.
- On your Search Console home page, select your website.
- In the left sidebar, click Crawl and then Sitemaps.
- Remove outdated or invalid sitemaps like
- Click the Add/Test Sitemap button in the top right.
sitemap_index.xmlinto the text box that appears.
- Click Submit.
Utilize The Must Have Blog Tools List
Bookmark my must-have blog tools page for a list of essential tools, apps, resources and tech that I use to run my blogs. Most of them are free!
8. INSTALL A THEME
Your new website needs a theme! When it comes to choosing a theme, you have a ton of options. I recommend you choose one that is responsive (meaning that it automatically converts to a mobile-friendly version when viewed on cell phones and tablets) and one that comes with support from the developer.
There are many free WordPress themes out there, but I would recommend not using a free theme, and instead investing in a quality premium theme, for a few reasons.
Reasons to use a premium theme are:
- You get more customization options with a premium theme
- Premium themes come with support from the developer (So you can contact them for help at any time)
- Premium themes come with lifetime updates, whereas free themes typically don’t.
- Premium themes are more professional and look more professional.
- You are guaranteed that a premium theme is bug-free, and up to date with your version of WordPress, which you can’t be guaranteed with a free theme
I use the Isabelle theme from BluChic, and I love it. You will see that the theme looks different on the Bluchic website than it does on my website because I have customized it with my brand colors, fonts and images. You can do that too when you choose yours!
The look and feel of your brand is going to be the first impression people see when they visit your site, and they will decide in a matter of seconds whether or not you are professional enough for them to follow, subscribe to and buy from.
So don’t let the look of your website let your business down! Investing in a quality WordPress theme for your blog is a must!
My recommendations for the best places to source a great WordPress theme are:
- StudioPress where you can get the ever popular Genesis Framework
- Pretty Darn Cute – Themes from this designer work with the Genesis Framework
More Info About Choosing A Theme
Jacqueline WordPress Theme By BluChic
Jacqueline is a power-dressed WordPress theme for the Boss lady, consultants and coaches. Always stylish, always on trend, she’s the one you go to when you need to make a great first impression.
Built with a list-building mindset, Jacqueline uses her most prominent piece of web real estate to help you convert leads the first time so they keep coming back for more. Try Live Demo >
Maggie WordPress Theme By BluChic
Maggie is a WooCommerce ready WordPress theme that allows you to get an online shop up and running in no time. You can disable the shop too if it’s not what you fancy.
Try Live Demo >
Some of my favorite themes from StudioPress are Foodie Pro and the Melyssa Griffin theme Authority Pro. All Studio Press themes include the Genesis Framework, or you can buy the Framework separately.
Having the Genesis Framework allows you to use any of these themes as well:
Swank Minimalist WordPress Theme By Pretty Darn Cute
The Swank WordPress Theme provides a clean, airy design that keeps your content the focus while framing it in style. Swank is just as functional as it is gorgeous.
Boasting a portfolio custom post type and a custom widgetized home page designed for you to showcase whatever you like, you can truly make it your own with a few drags and drops. This theme is incredibly easy to setup and comes with detailed instructions as well as access to our unmatched support team. Try Live Demo >
The Fun WordPress Theme By Pretty Darn Cute
Why is this called the Fun WordPress Theme? Because it’s FUN and easy to get setup and move things around to make it your own. This theme keeps you from banging your head against the desk, and allows you to spend that time playing with the many features it has to offer!
Do you sell products or downloads? Great, this theme is WooCommerce ready! Don’t sell anything? Awesome, just skip the “install WooCommerce” part of your setup instructions and you’re golden. It really is that simple. Try Live Demo >
How To Install Your New Theme
Once you have chosen a theme you like, purchase it and download it to your computer.
To install your new theme, in your WordPress dashboard go to ‘Appearance’, then ‘Themes’ and click the ‘upload’ button.
9. SET UP WEBSITE SECURITY
It is important to check your website for malware and other harmful security issues. Malware slows down your website and can cause your website to be blacklisted by Google. Use MalCare WordPress Security to scan your website for malware, remove any found, and protect it from getting any more in the future.
Try MalCare WordPress Security Free >
10. INSTALL PLUGINS
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:
Yoast makes setting up SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on your website super easy. It suggests ways to improve your posts so that you rank higher in search engines like Google – aka so you can be found online and gain more readers.
JetPack may be one of the best free plugins out there, as it combines several must-have blog features that you would normally have to pay for elsewhere. JetPack offers analytics, anti-spam & security, social share buttons, and so much more.
W3 Total Cache
Cache plugins are used to speed up your site. This one is great because it saves a static HTML version of your website, instead of generating pages one by one. This takes less strain on your server, creating a faster more user-friendly site, and ultimately better search rankings.
AddToAny Social Share & Follow Buttons
This is how to share buttons to your site. It is clean and out of the way, yet impossible to miss at the same time. Exactly what share buttons should be! With AddToAny your readers can easily share your content across pretty much every social network – which is awesome! Plus with simple tweaks, you can customize the look of the buttons however you like.
UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
Backing up your site is a must, and this free service allows you to backup and store the files to a storage app of your choosing such as Google Docs, Dropbox and more.
Pinterest “Pin It” Button
Adds a ‘Pin It’ button when you hover over an image, so you can easily pin images to Pinterest.
Pretty Link (Lite)
This is the free version of Pretty Link. The free version allows you to cloak links. It is a tool that takes any regular link and makes it ‘pretty’ by using your own domain. (More on this coming up in our affiliate marketing training module ahead).
Pretty Link Pro is a significant upgrade to Pretty Link Lite that adds many tools and redirection types that will allow you to create pretty links automatically, cloak links, replace keywords throughout your blog with pretty links and more advanced tracking.
Coming Soon by Supsystic
While you are working on your website, its good to have a ‘coming soon’ page that visitors can see and interact with before you go live with your finished site. You can add a ‘subscribe’ box to this page so you can start collecting emails before you launch.
Broken Link Checker
This plugin is a must, especially when it comes to your affiliate links. You don’t want to risk losing out on commissions as a result of links not working! This plugin automatically checks your website for any broken links and sends you an email whenever it finds one.
Revive Old Posts – Revive Old Posts is a premium (not free, but very useful) plugin you can use to keep your old blog posts constantly in rotation on social media, without having to manually re-post anything. The app takes care of everything. Get Revive Old Posts Here.
HOW TO ADD A PLUGIN
- Click the link below to the plugin you want. It will lead to it’s download page.
- Click ‘download’ on that page and it will be saved to your computer.
- You do not need to unzip this file, just leave it as is.
- Go to your WordPress dashboard and on the left side tab click where it says ‘Plugins.’
And then click ‘Add New.’
On the next screen you will see a 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).
Once it has uploaded, you can go to your ‘PlugIns’ tab, find where it is and click ‘Activate.’
11. CREATE CONTENT
Finally! It’s time to start writing blog posts and other content.
It is recommended 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. You can see mine here for reference.
Check out my top tools apps and resources for bloggers and read these guides for help in this stage:
12. 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. 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.
Check out these pro tips for email marketing so you can gain more subscribers and earn money from your newsletters.
13. BEGIN SOCIAL MEDIA 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!
14. 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, ADS, EBOOKS + COURSES & YOUR 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, a FlexOffers account, and an AWIN account
- Start applying to These high-paying affiliate programs
- Join HelloSPON for paid blogging opportunities
- Enroll in my Blog Boss! Profitable Blog From The Start 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:
Don’t forget to download my free Profitable Blog Toolkit below:
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PROFITABLE BLOG TOOLKIT
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- Profitable Blog Cheatsheet!
- Styled Stock Photos!
- Social Media Marketing Planner! & More!
The Best Part?
IT’S FREE! JOIN HERE:
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Especially If It’s Small!
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These bloggers are called Micro-Influencers.
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Learn how to position your blog and yourself as the authority as a Micro-Influencer in your niche in this intensive training The Micro-Influencer’s Handbook. Gain insight into the business of blogging and influencer marketing, learn the tools you need to work with brands, create high-converting content, advertising, and successfully monetize your online persona.
More info >
HerPaperRoute is a resource for bloggers to learn tips and tools to improve and monetize their blog and business. As such, I recommend products/brands that I personally use and trust in my business, this post may contain affiliate links where applicable. For more information, see my disclosures.