Have you ever wanted to start a blog? A blog that could be turned into an e-commerce site if you wanted to. A blog to talk about a topic you’re interested in and get some visitors who will read it. Where you could sell digital products or monetize it via ads.
A stream of passive income.
1. Basic concepts
Well, this guide will enable you to start your own blog step by step. But first of all, we’ll need to understand what a hosting service, a domain name and a CMS (or content management system) mean. These elements will make your website work.
This is the URL or the address of your web. For example, www.beginneur.com would be the domain name of this site. This is the “website’s name” which people type into their browser to access this blog.
A web hosting is a service that provides a “space” for your blog or website. It’s the “place” where your site is uploaded. Your website’s data needs to be stored in a server, and that’s what a hosting service offers.
The one that I use and I recommend is SiteGround. SiteGround has a great customer service and is for sure one of the best hosting services which enables you to have a website that loads fast.
If you purchase a package through the link you’ll support the page and you won’t be charged any extra cost.
A CMS is a software (a program) that basically lets you create, manage and edit a website. You don’t need to know how to code to upload images, put titles and paragraphs below it. You can change the banner of your website just as you would change your Facebook’s profile picture.
WordPress is the most used CMS program and the one I recommend you use. Since WordPress is an open-source software you won’t have any extra cost for it.
Nowadays, hosting services sell you their service and easily enables you to install WordPress on it. Besides, when you pick a hosting service, it will let you buy a domain name too. You don’t need to do these three steps separately. They actually can install not only WordPress but any other CMS they could offer. This means that if you are only looking to build an ecommerce, maybe you could find a specialized e-commerce CMS. It’s way easier than you think.
2. Choosing a hosting service
I highly recommend a paid hosting service since some free services won’t let you do some stuff. Some won’t let you use install some plugins (mini-programs that run on your website) and some others will add the name of the service provider in your domain (for example, mywebsite.hostingservice.com). For this and more other reasons, I would recommend you use a paid service.
In my personal opinion, SiteGround is a great service provider which works great for this site. There are other good paid services, but I recommend that one.
During the subscription process, you will have different packages to choose from. There’s always a cheaper version that lets you build only one website or more expensive ones that enables you to do more things. Choose whichever you want, the most basic version is good enough to get started.
3. Choose a topic & a niche
Once you have your blog up and running you need to choose what you want to talk about. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert at it. You can learn more about this topic along the process of creating this new blog.
Choose something you’d enjoy writing about or something that in the future you could create an info product to sell through it. Find the idea that is right for you.
By picking a niche I mean the group of people that are interested in your content. Be aware that if there’s a lot of other pages fulfilling these people’s need, is more difficult for you to get noticed. This means your blog would not be as profitable as a blog that fulfills the needs of a reduced group.
So, keep in mind these things in order to pick a niche: something you’d like to write about and something that not many people are writing about. The more you care and the less competition out there, the better for you. There’s a more in-depth article about how to pick a niche in the Marketing section.
4. Provide great content
It’s important that you keep researching and learning more about the topic. The more you know, the better content you are able to offer.
This is all about offering real value to your audience. You can’t expect to make money and give nothing in return. The first thing you need to keep in mind is the needs and desires of your audience goes first.
If you write bullshit people won’t come back and your page won’t rank in the search engines.
5. Benefit from social media & SEO
You can promote your page for free on social media platforms and you can rank better on Google thanks to SEO.
Social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Youtube, can boost your audience. You need to choose which platform is best for you. If you don’t think videos are your thing, go for Twitter (and write short excerpts) or Instagram (and use some apps like Canva to design great posts).
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the strategy that helps your blog rank higher on search engines. If you are using WordPress as your CMS, then you should not worry much about this. WordPress makes almost all the work required to SEO optimize your web. You can still learn more about this on Youtube or an online course.
Of course, these are free ways to start getting traffic to your site.
6. Create an email list
This is great to keep your audience engaged. An email list is simply a list of emails you’ve collected from your audience to send them emails about new products you are selling, sending valuable information you don’t provide on your website and more.
Learning about setting an email list is a valuable skill to acquire. You increase the chances to convert and it really is not that difficult to set up. You just need to give people an incentive to subscribe to it. Think about a free ebook (3 pages long) or simply some scheduled emails that will be sent automatically with valuable information. This may seem hard to do, but it isn’t since there are some free services that can do it for you.
If you want to learn more about it, here you have a great tutorial from Pat Flynn.
7. Track your website’s performance
You need to check how many people are visiting your website. From which platforms and how much time these people spend on it. The countries from where they check it and many other analytics.
As in every project, you’ll need a control stage. You need to know if some changes are necessary in order to enhance its performance. You can’t just believe in what you are doing when you can actually measure and analyze the results.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are very useful tools that will help you do it. With Google Search Control you can index all of your website’s links and Google Analytics will provide you with… well… analytics.
8. Monetize it
I put this part at last cause you need a basic structure before you start profiting from your website. You need to know that there are several revenue models. The most common ways to monetize your blog are:
Putting ads on your website is the easiest way of making some money. There are some ways to do it but the most common one is using a service that easily provides you the ads to display. With this revenue model, you will get paid by letting advertisers display ads on your website.
Google Adsense is a product from Google which basically does this. Adsense puts advertisements on your site and you only have to care about which spaces of your website you are willing to concede. You can think you’re “selling” those blank spaces but you are actually paid when a visitor clicks in a Google Ad from your site.
Warning: don’t fill up your website with ads. You still don’t want to mess with the user’s experience.
Promoting other people’s products or services is the second way to easily start making some money. Recommending books or whatever you like can be easily done with some services such as Amazon’s affiliate program.
It’s really easy and there’s a big variety of things to promote. You sign up and then you can choose products or services you’d like to recommend on your website. If people buy from those links, you earn a commission.
Basically, you pick a product from Amazon (or the platform you chose) you promote it on your site with a special link that redirects the user to Amazon’s site. If the person clicks the link and makes a purchase, you earn a commission.
Last but not least (neither the easiest), creating your own info product. Making an info product means you have more knowledge to offer so you can actually make a product. For example an ebook, an online course or a magazine.
There are some platforms that facilitate this whole process. Amazon lets you easily self-publish an ebook and Teachable makes it really easy to create an online course.
You can always watch Youtube tutorials on how to create an online course, a magazine or whatever the product you have in mind. Whatever it is, you can do it.