Last updated on December 27th, 2019 at 10:01 am
Okay, I’m officially blogging about blogging now. This feels kinda weird. However, I do hope this tutorial about how to start a blog and make money in 2020 will help as many of you as possible. Those who are back and forth on whether to start a blog, those who’ve already started it, but don’t know what the next step is and the ones who struggle to grow their blog. Here I share 10 things you definitely need to do if you’re starting a blog in 2020.
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.
This quote was actually about an app, but, isn’t it the truth?
Who hasn’t had the thought: “This year I will start a blog and make money with it. It seems easy enough.”
And then you procrastinate the crap out of it.
The Blogging Lifestyle & Struggles
The late bloomer that I am, the idea of starting a blog came to me in 2012. And it took me “ONLY” 3 more years to actually start that blog. Then another 1.5 years to decide it’s time to show the monster I created to the world. You can say I actually started this blog in July 2016.
Contrary to what I believed for the longest time, blogging was nowhere near easy or quick. But it is the most rewarding thing I’ve done so far.
Blogging comes with long hours on the computer and a lot of work that isn’t just writing 1000 words into WordPress. In fact, writing takes about 10-20% of the effort. Then you’ve got to find pictures, edit, promote that content, promote yourself, find new strategies to grow, find ways to monetize, the list goes on and on. With blogging y
Is it all worth it?
To me, without a doubt: Yes. Because blogging gives you the freedom to design your days and to (pretty much) earn as much as you decide.
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 when you want to travel or when your family moves. That means, oh yes, more freedom and
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. That gave me the confidence that I can really do anything I want, as long as I work hard and stay true to myself.
Blogging, seriously, can change your life, but to speed things up, you need to start right, go self-hosted and put in the work consistently in the beginning. And that’s why we’re here. We’ll talk about how to start your blog right for as little as $3.95/month and then grow it to hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, so you can make money. Because without traffic, nobody is getting paid for blogging.
Blogging For Beginners:
How To Start A Blog And Make Money
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.
Even if you’ve already started your blog, but don’t know how to grow it and what to do next – I’m sure this tutorial will give you some new ideas and help you. You won’t just learn how to start a blog in 20 minutes, I promise.
1.Decide what to blog about (aka
2. Find the perfect name for your blog
3. Investing in the right things for better SEO
4. Choose the right hosting for your needs
5. Start your WordPress blog for only $3.95/month
6. Design your WordPress Blog
7. Write your first blog posts
8. Promote your blog posts on social media to get initial traffic
9. Keep Going (aka the power of persistence)
10. Make Money (aka how bloggers get paid)
Step 1: Blogging Topics
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 a successful blogger it’s being consistent. So make sure you love what you’ll be writing about.
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.
Step 2: Blogging Name
How To Find The Perfect 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.
Step 3: Invest For Better SEO
Invest In The Right Things
To start a blog you need only(!) 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 pre-design of your website)
You don’t need anything else in the very beginning.
But it’s important that you get all those three right from the start if you want to grow quickly. They help you rank higher in Google search and they’re also super important for user experience. Nobody has the time for a slow site to load. So don’t skip on these basics.
Site speed and the technical component to SEO that comes with reliable hosting and a good WordPress theme can’t be beaten by adding keywords to your blog posts.
For that reason, I can only recommend Siteground (you can get hosting with them 60% off here) and Genesis (you can get it here) if you’re serious about making money with a blog. That’s the only 2 investments to make in the beginning.
What should you look for?
With all three you’re looking for as much freedom and space to grow as possible. Remember you do want your blog to be profitable and not just a hobby.
As stated above, I cannot recommend starting a blog for free on something like Blogger. I did that 4 years ago. 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 0 traffic.
Now with this blog, I did things a little differently and I’m so grateful for my decision to go self-hosted. You’ll need to spend some money, but it’s a one-time investment of $100-200.
Once you make that investment, you have the freedom to do everything you want with your 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.
Step 4: Blog Hosting
Choose The Right Hosting For Your Blog
I went through 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.
Yet, I wasn’t happy with my old hosting as my site was slow and down every night (sorry I screamed) for a couple of minutes, more specifically – 8 minutes. This
After researching for 12 straight hours I one day decided to go with Siteground. And until this day, 2 years after, 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 (btw. if you want a 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.
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 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. The other reason you want a faster site is that it helps you rank higher in Google. And I can testify this, because within a month after changing to Siteground Google miraculously found my site (which never happened in 2 years of blogging).
- 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 on it. Every other hosting company would charge around $100 for it. I didn’t want to pay an 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.
Step 5: Getting Started With WordPress
Starting Your 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. In this case you will then just need to pay the difference and not the full amount.
If you already have a blog & some traffic, but like
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
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.
Step 6: Blog Design
Making Your Blog Pretty
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.
Step 7: Prepare
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
Step 8: Promote
Using Social Media To Get Traffic
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).
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
I feel like group boards don’t have the same power like 2 years ago, but if you’re new to Pinterest and don’t have any following ask some 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 your posts to your most relevant boards and group boards. I like to spread my pins apart and I use Tailwind to schedule everything because I don’t have the time and mental capacity to be pinning manually these days. Tailwind is super easy to use and has made a big difference for my traffic from Pinterest. It simply helps you stay consistent which is key if you want to grow your traffic with Pinterest. If you haven’t joined Tailwind yet, you can get a free Tailwind trial here.
That said, I used to pin manually in the beginning. Every day to every group board I was a part of and then repinned content from each group board to my own boards. It got overwhelming, but it also worked for a little bit.
Step 9: Persistence
Do it again.
Now, keep writing content and promoting it.
Persistence 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.
Step 10: Make Money Blogging
Ads, Affiliate Marketing, Sponsored Content
Once you have enough traffic you can:
- display ads,
- do sponsored content,
- promote affiliate products
- create and sell your own products & services through your blog.
For this, you’ll need to choose a good ad management company (I’m with Mediavine), join affiliate networks and programs for products you love and use or create your own products.
If you don’t have a lot of traffic, using affiliate links here and there will help you generate some initial income in the first few months. Popular affiliate networks and programs include shareasale.com, Amazon, Awin, FlexOffers, CJ.
There are many ways, you can monetize a blog these days – it’s insane! The best way to do it is to do a mixture of all or some. For example, I don’t do sponsored content and don’t have my own products yet.
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 money blogging.
I hope you found this guide helpful to get started, it’s a lot at once and most definitely not everything you will need to learn about blogging. But it’s important to start, you’ll have time to figure out the rest as you go.
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 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.
More Helpful Resources:
- Can you make money with a blog? How to make your first $200 blogging
- How my traffic exploded within a month without many followers
- How to write your first blog post & 12 blog post ideas for new bloggers
- 11 Reasons nobody reads your blog