Last updated on January 16th, 2019 at 08:29 pm
If you want to start a successful blog and make money with it, or are struggling to grow your existing blog, in this tutorial I’ll show you how.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post might be affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission – at no extra cost for you, which helps me cover the costs for this blog.
Okay this quote was actually about an app, but, really, same thing.
The late bloomer that I am, the idea of starting a blog came to me in 2012. And it took me ONLY 3 years to actually start that blog and another 1.5 years to decide it’s time to show the monster I created to the world. And it has been the best decision ever. It’s not easy, it’s not quick, but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done so far.
I grew this blog on my own from just an idea into a site with hundreds of thousands of page views/month where I reach people from all over the world. And that gave me the confidence that I can really do anything I want, as long as I work hard and stay true to myself.
The added bonus: With blogging, even if you don’t make millions you can earn an income from anywhere in the world. You don’t need to look for a job or to take unpaid time off. That means, oh yes, freedom and less worries about money.
Blogging, seriously, can change your life, but to speed things up, you need to start right and put in the work.
Here I want to show you how to start your own blog for as little as $3.95/month to then grow it to hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors and make money with it.
How To Start A Successful Blog In 2019
I decided to grow my blog 2 years ago, and during that time I learned A LOT about blogging and making an income doing it. If I had to start a blog all over again these are the steps I would take this time around to speed things up. And even if you’ve already started your blog, but don’t know how to grow it – I’m sure this tutorial will help you.
1. Deciding what you’re going to blog about (aka a simple way to find your niche)
2. Finding a name for your blog
3. Invest, but only in the right things.
4. Deciding on hosting: How to choose the right one for your blog
5. Starting your WordPress blog for just $3.95/month
6. Designing your WordPress blog.
7. Writing your first blog posts.
8. Promoting your blog posts on social media and getting traffic.
9. Do that again
10. Make money with your blog
Decide what you’re going to blog about
This is so important. Let me tell you, if you don’t absolutely love what you’re going to write about, you’ll hate every minute of blogging. And it will feel like a second job that you just HATE.
You can always decide to write about more topics than the one you originally started with (this blog was originally about what I ate), but make sure you love what you start with.
Blogging is a lot of work and since you don’t have a horrible boss to abuse you verbally when you don’t finish your tasks, you’ll need something else to motivate you. I don’t know what that is, but finding a topic you love will definitely make you want to put in the work more often than not.
And that’s the goal. Doing the work more often than not.
If there’s one thing that will make you successful as a blogger it’s staying consistent. So make sure you love what you’ll write about.
For me it’s healthy lifestyle and it’s something I’ve always been as passionate about as I am about Channing Tatum.
Find The Right Name
The next step is to choose a name for your blog. Don’t get overwhelmed with this step right here.
Keep this in mind when choosing a blog name: Your blog name and domain name don’t need to be something super original, smart or creative.
All your blog name/ domain name needs to be is memorable:
- Something short and sweet
- something people can pronounce
- and have the patience to write out.
That’s all. Don’t overthink, just keep in mind that people need to remember it.
Invest In The Right Things
To start a blog you need 3 things:
- hosting – where your site and all its data is stored (around
- blogging platform – what you use to write your content and manage your blog
- blogging theme – this is is for designing your blog (it’s pretty much like a predesign of your website)
With all three, you’re looking for as much freedom and space to grow as possible, because you do want your blog to also be profitable and not just a hobby.
That’s why I cannot recommend starting a blog on something like Blogger. I did that 4 years ago. It’s totally free, but the site was slow and the whole process was very time consuming. My blog never looked the way I wanted it (even though I spent hours trying to “fix” it) and I had exactly 0 traffic to that blog.
Now with this blog I did things a little differently and I’m so happy. What I can wholeheartedly recommend if you want to start a blog and be successful with it, is going self-hosted. You’ll need to spend some money, but it’s a one time investment of $100-200.
Then you have the freedom to do everything you want with that blog, it’s fully yours (unlike the free blogging platforms).
You can display ads, sell your own products, do affiliate marketing or sponsored content (you’re limited in this with a free platform).
When you stay consistent and follow the steps here, you can make that investment of $100-200 back within the first few months.
Choose The Right Hosting
I had a small crisis when I had to change my hosting about a year ago. It was so OVERWHELMING and I kinda wished I could just skip that step and ignore it.
But I wasn’t happy with my old hosting as my site was slow and was down every night for a couple of minutes, more specifically – 8. Which means, nobody could access my site for 8 minutes on a daily basis. That’s A LOT.
However, after researching for 12 straight hours I one day decided to go with Siteground.
And I’m so happy I did. For a few reasons.
- their uptime is 99.99% (mine is actually 100% for the entire year, and this is something my old hosting provider didn’t care about).
- they migrated my site for free and helped for free with all of my questions & needs (if you want free site transfer – use this link).
- they were the only hosting company that actually told me how many sessions the hosting plan can handle
- and their support was the best, 24/7 and always helpful.
- let’s not forget 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
You can get 60% off Siteground Hosting here.
The 4 things to look for in a hosting provider:
- UPTIME. You might have noticed that many hosting providers have some uptime guarantee like 99.9% or 99.99%. Like why don’t you just round that up to 100%? Well, you understand that when you get a hosting that makes your site go down for a couple of minutes every day. (that’s what happened to my site!) Then you find out, there’s a BIG difference whether your site is up 99.99% or 99.9% of the time.
- Site speed. You want a fast site, that’s it. Nobody’s got time to wait around for your blog to load.
- Do I have to pay for everything extra? My thing was the site migration. I wanted to switch from a hosting that was a little bit cheaper to Siteground (for the 2 reasons above), but the biggest issue I had was migrating my site. I had no idea how to do it and I didn’t want to spend time doing it. But I also didn’t want to spend money for it. And every other hosting company would charge around $100 for it. I didn’t want to pay extra $100 for website transfer. Thankfully, I found out that Siteground will do it all for me (without downtime) FOR FREE!!!! Sorry I screamed. So if you already have a blog and want to switch hosting, but don’t feel like doing everything yourself or paying 100 bucks for site migration, get your site migrated to Siteground for free here.
- How’s the support? What I loved about Siteground is that they’re available 24/7 and offer to do things for you if you can’t figure it out yourself. I really loved that about them.
Starting Your WordPress Blog
I don’t know about other hosting providers, but here’s how to set up your blog with Siteground. It’s very simple.
1. Choose a plan that will work for you.
If you’re brand new, you want to start with the StartUp plan. You can always change to a different plan once you start getting enough traffic, you will then just need to pay the difference and not the full amount.
If you already have a blog & some traffic, but like me last year, need better uptime and faster loading times – go with the other two options. You can even get free site transfer here.
I first chose the GrowBig plan and it was enough for around 50.000 monthly page views on my site (even though it says 25.000 visits). If you have more traffic, choose the GoGeek plan.
2. Pick a domain name.
Then, if you haven’t done it, it’s time to pick a domain name. If you don’t already own one, you can choose and purchase a domain name with Siteground, it’s very convenient.
Then click next.
3. Fill out your details and preferences.
After you fill out your data, you can choose between different data centres. Go with where your audience is or will be. If it’s in the US – choose Chicago, if it’s in the UK – choose London and so on.
Then you hit pay now and you’re ready with the sign up.
Domain Privacy Protection:
After you sign up, the other thing I would recommend getting is domain privacy protection, so your personal data is not listed online (you can order this in Siteground from your User Area -> Add Services -> Domain Privacy).
Now wordpress.org is where you’ll operate most of your site, not at Siteground.
The question is how do you get there? Well it’s very simple.
Once you’ve registered, log into your Siteground account. Then go to My Accounts and click on the red Go To cPanel Button.
Then you’ll see a little Pop Up, click Proceed. In the next step click on WordPress Installer, you’ll find it under WordPress tools.
Then click on the link that says “Install Now”
Alright, and from here you only need to fill out the form below.
domain to install: the domain you registered for your blog
Site Name: Your Blog’s Name
Site Description: A few keywords that describe your blog (I think mine is Recipes, Health & Fitness – could be mistaking though)
Be sure to choose a strong password AND username! Remember this is to protect your blog, don’t make your username obvious and really think about a good password. Write them both down, somewhere where you’ll find them.
You can leave the rest like this. Then click install!
Congrats! Now you’ve installed WordPress and you can officially start working on your blog!
For more options, you can also use this tutorial to install WordPress.
Logging Into WordPress
- Log in to WordPress using www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin
- Fill out the user name and the password for WordPress you just wrote down.
- Welcome to your WordPress Dashboard. Here you can write your blog posts and design your website.
Designing your blog.
Once you’re in WordPress you can start designing your blog. To do it, you’ll need to install a WordPress theme.
With a WordPress theme you’re looking for one that will show your content in the best way possible and that you’re able to customize. Your theme also needs to look good on mobile – that’s called responsive theme and it’s a super important point!
In the beginning, there’s no harm in starting with a free WordPress theme for the design of your blog. You don’t have that many (or any) followers and you can experiment all day long! Use this time!
In the WordPress Dashboard, left menu, go to Appearance -> Themes -> Add new and go crazy! You can search through thousands of free themes!
The free themes I used were Optimizer and Hueman and they’re both awesome, but need some CSS knowledge if you want to customize the majority of things.
Otherwise to change fonts and backgrounds you need to install and activate the theme you choose, then hit customize and go!
After using a free theme for the first 1.5 years, when I decided to start growing my blog and to speed up my website, I bought Genesis and the Divine Theme. I chose the Divine Theme, because it’s unbelievably customizable and looks great – it’s everything I ever wanted in a theme.
One important reason why I actually switched to a paid theme was SEO. With the free theme I never, ever, ever came up on page 1 in Google search results. Even when I’d google Beauty Bites – page 6 haha – that’s a slap in the face. After getting Genesis I think it took about 2 weeks and I was 1st result.
Together Divine and Genesis cost me, I believe $129, which isn’t a small amount, but you can use the Genesis framework and the child theme on multiple sites and you get lifetime support & updates (super important! and unfortunately not something you get with most themes). It’s a one time investment and I’ve been using this theme for over 2 years now – to me definitely worth it. You can get Genesis here and the Divine theme here.
Writing Your First Blog Posts
Now that you already set up your WordPress blog, it’s time to do some prep work. What do I mean by that?
Before you actually start promoting your blog, create 10-15 blog posts and schedule them in WordPress. Some back dated, and 3-4 for the coming 2 weeks.
Seriously, I’m not a big fan of preparation, because with me it easily turns into procrastination and overthinking, but having some content ready before you start will help you stay on track. And will keep visitors longer on your blog.
Here are some tips for when you’re writing your content:
- Figure out who you’re writing to. As long as you know who you’re writing to – what their interest, dreams and needs are – you don’t really have to go crazy with niching down your blog. Make sure you meet the needs of your ideal reader.
- Write as if that person is your best friend. We’re not doing dissertations here. Don’t pretend to be something or someone you’re not. You don’t need to be an expert (and seriously nobody is) at what you’re writing about, nobody expects it. That being said, it’s super helpful to have experience/some knowledge on the topic you’re writing about!
- Create helpful content. Content that not only inspires, but helps your reader take action. Ask a question: What action do I want the reader to take after she/he reads my post? And create your post around it. With recipes it’s easy – you obviously want them to make the recipe, workouts – again, DIY – same thing! Therefore these happen to be the most popular posts overall! If you need more help with writing your first blog posts, this post can help.
- Wrap up, before you go crazy! Don’t try to be perfect with your content – some people will like it, some won’t, others won’t even read it! However, what matters is to do your best in a reasonable amount of time. It’s never going to be perfect, don’t try to fix it too long. Here’s a helpful article on how to write good content fast.
- Make your blog post titles CLEAR. If you confuse people with your titles it’s less likely to make them want to read your blog.
Don’t take too long with that blog post writing part. A week is enough – write 1-2 blog posts a day to get into the habit of writing every day.
How to publish a blog post in WordPress?
In your WordPress Dashboard select Post -> Add New in the menu on the left. Once you’ve written and edited your post, you can choose to publish it now (or before – select a date, in the small area (Publish) to the top right) or schedule it for a day in the future.
*You can add images using the Add Media button and you can format your text using the menu above
Promoting Your Blog On Social Media
Whew. Your blog is now up and your blog posts scheduled, but unfortunately all your awesome content doesn’t promote itself. TRUST me. This blog was dead the first 1.5 years, because I didn’t promote it ANYWHERE.
But once I started, I got 19.000 page views within a month.
So how do you make your blog popular and get people to your brand new site?
One Word: Pinterest.
Seriously, if it wasn’t for Pinterest I don’t think I would have even 10% of the traffic I have today. No Instagram, no Twitter, no Facebook, stop wasting time and just get on Pinterest.
Create pins using Canva for each of your blog posts and upload them to your boards on Pinterest. You need beautiful, bright pictures (I use free stock photos when I don’t make my own pictures – Pixabay is a good place to find pictures) and a LARGE font.
As for the title – make it something that people actually want and need. Not something that’s just nice to have. A burning desire…Go for great, not average or just practical. For example people would need a one week workout plan to get fit, not 10 reasons to work out.
Ask Group Boards For Invites
If you’re new to Pinterest and don’t have any following ask some group boards for invites. Even if you don’t have many followers, there are plenty of group boards that will let you pin to them. All you have to do is: ASK.
But how do you find group boards?
You can start with Pingroupie – this is like a database of Pinterest group boards where you can sort boards by number of followers, repin rate or contributors. Then once you have all the relevant group boards, ask them for an invite. You can do this by following the instructions in the description of the board, or if there’s none, write an email to the group board owner (usually through contact page on their site).
And now how do you get popular?
Pinning! Pin and repin every day for 15-20 minutes a day. In the beginning I pinned every day to every group board I was a part of and then repinned content from each group board to my own boards. With time it got overwhelming, so now I’m using Tailwind to schedule my pins – even my repins from the group boards – it’s easy to use and saves me so much time.
You can get a free Tailwind trial here.
Do it again.
Now, keep writing content and promoting it!
Consistency is key with growing anything and a blog is no different. Once you have everything up and running you need to put out more content on a regular basis and to keep promoting it to your readers + potential readers.
Use a scheduling tool to promote that content on Pinterest if you don’t have time to pin manually.
Ask your visitors to subscribe via email, so you can keep them coming back to your site. You don’t need a fancy tool for that. There’s a free plugin – Jetpack, that does a ton of things and one of them is that it can automatically send out email notifications to your subscribers whenever you have published a post. That’s enough for the start, so you can keep your audience engaged.
Once you have enough traffic you can either display ads, do sponsored content, promote affiliate products or even create and sell your own products & services through your blog.
For this you’ll need to choose an ad network (I’m with Mediavine), join affiliate networks and programs for products you love and use or create your own products.
There are so many ways, you can monetize a blog these days – it’s insane! And when you get into the groove and get most of your stuff automated, that income can grow quickly even if you don’t really do much.
Here’s a helpful post on how to make your first $1,000 with a blog.
I hope you found this guide helpful. It’s been definitely therapeutic for me to put it together as blogging has become such a huge part of my life and I don’t talk about it much.
To me this blog is at times the only thing that gives me stability in life. It’s a place where I can come and just be me, wherever I go in the world. It’s the one thing that’s mine. And I don’t know if something like this means a lot to you, but it means EVERYTHING to me.