Blogging for beginners (in 2021): How to Start and Grow a blog that makes passive income
It is estimated that there are about 610 million blogs on the Internet today, for a good reason. A blog is an excellent way for freelancers and individuals to explore their passion and turn it into a revenue-generating source concurrently helping others. For brands, a business blog is an effective online strategy. Not only does … Continued
It is estimated that there are about 610 million blogs on the Internet today, for a good reason.
A blog is an excellent way for freelancers and individuals to explore their passion and turn it into a revenue-generating source concurrently helping others.
For brands, a business blog is an effective online strategy. Not only does it improve their SEO rankings, but it also helps build authority in the niche and engage with their target group.
Whatever the reason, learning to blog and getting started with it shouldn’t be complicated. With the advancement in the software industry, blogging couldn’t be much easier as it is today. If you’re familiar with Google, then you can start a blog and transform it into a lucrative business.
If you’ve been thinking of starting blogging, now is the time!
This no-nonsense post will help you with everything you need to know about starting a blog, writing articles, blog promotion, and monetizing it in an easy language. Let’s dive in.
#1. What Is A Blog And Blogging
Blogs have been around since at least the late 1990s. But it’s only recently they’ve pivoted away from places where writers journal their experience and evolved to become helpful business tools.
In the beginning, blogs were called ‘weblogs.’ As in web and logs. It started as somewhere you could record thoughts and opinions on everything from travel to politics.
As blogging took off in the early 2000s, the name got shortened, and the ‘blog’ and ‘blogging’ entered the popular consciousness. Blogs offered writers, creators, and businesses a chance to share their thoughts in a journal-like interface, appealing to audiences.
Consequently, people began responding to blog posts, turning these weblogs into ongoing conversations between writers and readers. Naturally, that was too good a business opportunity to lose. Overnight blogging went from the provenance of casual writing to a business opportunity for passionate creators.
Blogs are easy to set up for even any non-expert looking to enter the field. Setting up a blog on WordPress or similar platforms can be a quick entry into the modern blogging world with just a few simple steps. And then, you need to have an attractive and straightforward design that can help you interact with your readers.
Because blogs are constantly updated with flowing thought processes or helpful information, they offer readers a glimpse into your world and expertise. Many businesses started to pick up on the importance of connecting with their audience to build trust, and blogs worked as a perfect opportunity to do so. With companies who blog gaining 97% more links to their websites, blogging creates a doorway to boosting SEO and broadening your audience.
#2. Five Reasons Why You Should Start Blogging
Here are the top five reasons to quit thinking and start blogging today:
1. You can help people
Everyone has some sort of skills – skills that people are looking for.
When someone thanks you for the helpful advice you share, it indeed makes you happy – the feeling we all get hardly ever.
Whether you are an expert in gardening, home decorating, or motivating people in agony, do not back off telling it to the world.
2. You can make money
The main reason you start a blog is very likely that you’re good at the topic you choose, or it is your passion.
But have you ever thought of making money with a blog?
Yes, you can. Depending on the popularity of your niche, you will find the target audience that – consumes your advice, buy your courses or eBooks, advertise on your blog or buy the products through your unique affiliate links (with which you earn commission) and so many other ways.
Although you don’t want to consider money as your principal goal to start blogging, you can’t overlook that blogging is super rewarding.
3. You can master in-demand skills
Blogging is a respectable professional; as you jump into it, you eventually will learn and master skills like website (and graphic) design, copywriting, SEO, affiliate marketing, social media marketing, etc.
As you realize the in-demand skills you’ve gained, you will use them to make yourself some money. Once you start blogging, you don’t stand; still, you will constantly be pushing on to grow.
4. You will get new opportunities
When I started blogging, I never thought about starting a small business, turning my skills into revenue sources, achieving financial freedom, or receiving collaboration/sponsorship emails.
But I’m enjoying all these perks now.
You see, the growth opportunities are infinite in blogging, it will open a brand-new world; you just need to embrace it with an open mind and be giving your best shot.
5. You don’t need to have prior experience
Blogging is one such profession that has nothing to do with prior experience. Even a graduate or high school kid can start a blog. You have everything you require to create and build a successful blog from scratch if you have Google.
You don’t need coding knowledge or money to get a freelancer to build a new blog for you or manage it further.
Even as a dummie, you can pull off.
#3. Seven Important Things To Keep In Mind Before Starting A Blog
Blogging is about more than simply publishing content around your niche keywords. Here’s what you need to know to help get your blog off to a kick start.
1. Research your competitors
Knowing the competition is especially important if your blog is part of a business venture. Competitor analysis lets you collect the correct perception while your blogging idea is still just a gleam in your mind. You want to read through your competitors’ blogs and look for:
Good ideas you can extrapolate on
Content gaps you can fill
And, what’s working for them
In addition, you also want to be aware of the audience your competitors are catering to and try to target the same potential audience. By studying your top competitors and their rankings on search engines, you can develop a plan to outrank them and be the number one authoritative source in your niche.
Depending on how confident you feel parsing technological language, it may also be worth checking to see which keywords score highest in search results and take note of them. Using those keywords in your posts will help make your blog more visible to your readership and improve your ranking position in search engine results.
If you aren’t sure how to assess keyword rankings, a tool likeSEMRush can help you navigate the process. Just input the keyword, and you’re off to various keyword opportunities.
3. Quality content is essential
As discussed, blog posts are a contract between writer and reader. Blog content gets noticed because it is readable, engaging, and engenders conversations among your readers.
That means that for your blog to get noticed, you must consistently produce high-quality content—the better the quality, the more shares, traction, and comments you’ll find yourself addressing.
One of the best ways to achieve this level of quality is by filling a gap in your specialist area. This allows you to contribute to the ongoing discussion without regurgitating what other bloggers are saying. And it will keep your readers coming back for more.
4. Leverage Social Media to build relationships and drive traffic
Without having the relevant readership, your blog posts may disappear into the considerable void of the internet. That makes having engaged, regular readers integral to the blogging process.
One of the best ways to build your readership is through sharing your content on social media.
Concurrently, follow peers and Influencers from your niche and help them by promoting their content genuinely. As you do that consistently, you and your blog will get seen, eventually allowing you to land with next-level growth opportunities.
If you picked a niche subject, it wouldn’t necessarily appeal to friends and family unless they share that interest.
With that in mind, curating your followers and developing relationships with similarly niche bloggers can be an excellent way to expand your audience. As you follow them, they may reciprocate by following you. And as they gain awareness of your content, they may even start sharing your posts or linking back to them.
Take the time and effort to think about your readers and develop a social media strategy, and you’ll soon have active and engaged readers.
5. Successful blogging takes time
While it’s possible to blog casually and sporadically, it won’t get you much attention. That’s fine if blogging is a hobby, but it’s less than ideal if you’re hoping to turn blogging into a business venture.
A good blog takes time and effort. You need to:
Create keyword-rich and valuable content regularly
Build authority backlinks
Promote your blog and drive potential user traffic
To do all of that, you need to plan your blog content. Start by deciding how often you will post.
Once you’ve done that, sit down and plan the content.
If you decide to post often, it may be worth investigating the option to schedule posts. That way, you can write your blog entries ahead of time, allowing you to keep to your schedule. It also saves you the hassle of remembering to post at the eleventh hour.
Besides, you will need to measure your performance, identify the gaps and fill them so you can sky-high your blog traffic with a bit of SEO push.
6. Knowing your blogging goals
Setting blogging goals is a common practice in the blogosphere, shared by all bloggers.
Blogging goals allow you to manage your energy, time, and resources efficiently and keep you moving forward, motivated to achieve more.
You should have clarity about where you want to see yourself in the coming years or even months, and you should not deviate from your target despite the failures along the way.
Follow these steps for setting your blog goals the right way:
Determine what you want to achieve in long-term and short-term.
Ensure your blogging goals are highly detailed and not too vague.
Layout an actionable plan to achieve them.
Stay focused and measure the results from time to time.
Set strict deadlines, they run you committed and don’t let you procrastinate.
For example, say your goal is to sell your own eBooks within a year – how will you do that on your blog? Will you organize your store so it’s easy for the audience to explore your collection? Do you offer special discounts to specific users via customized coupon codes? Which payment gateway do you use? Are you thinking of referral marketing?
This might all sound a bit overwhelming, but it’s better than the situation of being busy but actually not productive.
7. Have fun blogging
Have fun blogging! The best and most engaging content comes from writers who are passionate about their subject. That love and enthusiasm are compelling. If you’re enjoying the material you write, it’s a good bet so are your readers.
So write regularly, promote often, measure the results and above all else, enjoy.
#4. Blogging For Beginners: Six Steps To Start Blogging And Monetizing Your Blog
Step 1: Choose a blog niche
Ever heard, jack of all trades, master of none? It means that a general practitioner can know a little about many things, while a specialist does one thing in a significant way. It holds true for blogging as well.
There are countless niches you can run after, but the key is to identify a specific niche that you’re interested in and has a viable target group. This approach also helps you build authority and establishes you as a go-to blogger for people to find answers to their queries.
What exactly is a niche?
A niche is a specific area of a broader topic.
For example, for a broader topic like marketing, the niche could be digital marketing, direct marketing, content marketing, email marketing, Influencer marketing, etc.
How to pick a blog niche?
You should consider the following elements when trying to identify and finalize your blog niche.
Use Google to search words from your desired niche. Look for blogs and small businesses that are already working on the niche. It helps you understand the market potential and level of competition.
If you find plenty of results for your topic, there is probably a potential audience online.
2. Keyword search
Use a keyword tool like SEMrush, plug in the keywords you already picked up. If you see more monthly searches for your keywords, it indicates a potential market for the niche.
Otherwise, your blog will stay a blog, never growing into a lucrative business.
3. Realize your passion and skills
This may sound like traditional advice, but passion can make a significant difference. It should ideally be something that you’d keep doing despite the earnings.
Finding a niche that you’re passionate about, skilled in, and have a large potential market is the real sweet spot to enter that market.
4. Analyze monetization scope
Can you actually make money if you go with that niche? What’s the point when you can’t monetize your hard work?
So make sure your niche is profitable.
Check out how other bloggers are monetizing their blogs. Are they selling their own digital products? Are they doing Affiliate marketing? Do brands advertise with bloggers from your niche? Are their courses on Udemy related to your niche?
These pointers can help you decide you should go with the niche or not. You need to ensure that whatever niche you finalize has at least one or two potential monetization methods.
Step 2: How to choose a domain name for the blog
The domain name is the crucial element for your blog’s success. It is not just an address for your blog, but more than that. A great domain name can hold up your blog’s branding and help build trust with the prospects and audience.
Here are some essential factors to consider while choosing a blog domain name:
1. Go with the .com extension
Why? Well, ‘.com’ is the easiest to remember and trusted extension.
If .com is taken, try .co, .org, .biz, .io, .net.
2. Be brandable
Brainstorm catchy words from your niche that are of with some meaning. You can also use the Thesaurus dictionary to play words.
3. Make it more accessible and informative
Names that don’t need a human to think too hard are typically the easiest to remember and are likely to be memorable.
Concurrently, find the word that defines what your blog about is. For instance, my domain name, www.bloggingexplained.com, is Right off the bat; people can easily understand what they’ll find at my site.
Similarly, businessnewsdaily.com, searchenginejournal.com, yourstory.com, etc., are some of the domain names that inform at a glance what their business is about.
4. Using your full name
Using your full name can be great, especially when you’re the face of the brand.
It can be super helpful when your target group is more comfortable hiring a person over an agency. Besides, it is a lot about flexibility; you don’t have to stick to a single area of focus anytime you can consider expansion.
For instance, two of my friends operate with their full name and are super successful in their field – www.nikolaroza.com, www.anthonygaenzle.com.
5. Use domain name generators
Name generator tools like Domainwheel, Nameboy can generate new ideas when you plug in words related to your niche.
How to register your domain name?
I recommend using the following setup of Bluehost – A web hosting service company that lets you register your domain name and host your website on the Internet.
Step 3: Get your blog to the Internet
Let me simplify.
To start a blog, you need 3 things:
Blogging platform – Software that help you start a blog, design it, create pages, publish articles, and manage. Popular blog platforms are WordPress.org, WordPress.com, Blogger, Wix, etc – Some are free to use and others charge you.
Web Hosting (Server) – To place your website or blog’s data online and make it accessible for people, you need web hosting. Usually costs $2 to $10 per month.
Domain name – (We have already discussed about this in the above section).
Choosing a blogging platform
As a beginner, you must choose the right and best blogging platform to build a thriving business. To save money, most newbies are attracted to free-hosted platforms like WordPress.com or blogger.com. However, I don’t recommend using them. You will not have complete control over your blog when you go with the free platform – your options to design, run, grow and monetize your blog are limited.
That’s why I propose you starting a blog with WordPress.org – It is free and easy to use, flexible, secured, and voted majority across the world. In fact, 90% of bloggers use this to manage their blogs.
When I say free, you still need to pay for web hosting and domain name.
Registering domain name (for free) and purchasing web hosting
The best, beginner-friendly, and affordable web hosting I recommend is Bluehost.
It is reputed, secured, has excellent customer service, and has many advanced features that ease your blogging tasks.
With Bluehost’s 1-click WordPress Installation option, you now can set up your blog in less than five minutes – It really that easy!
The best thing that Bluehost offers for a beginner is a ‘free domain.’ You can easily save $10-$15 the first year.
Here’s how you can start a blog with Bluehost:
Click on this special discount link of Bluehost, select your plan, avail your free domain offer, create your Bluehost account, choose your addons, and proceed to the payment page.
Congrats! You shall receive Bluehost’s email about login credentials and setup instructions.
Step 3: Design your blog (Installing theme, Essential WP settings, and Creating Home and About pages)
Your blog design should always be minimal and hook your visitors with a readable experience that they’ll love and come back for.
After 1-click installation, your blog will be ready with a free theme. However, if you want to change your theme, you can do it from the ‘Appearance-> Themes’ section.
Through the WordPress store, you will be able to access thousands of free and paid themes, which can offer you many additional features and elements that can improve your blog design and performance.
To maximize readership and grow blog revenue, you must optimize the readability of your content and the functionality of your blog with a compelling and neat theme.
My top theme recommendations are:
All three themes are available in free and premium versions. Depending on your requirement, you can either upgrade or just blog with a free one.
After you install a theme, go to ‘appearance->customize’ to get more into customizing your blog’s design and functionality. Tweak the options, preview the new effects, and hit ‘publish’ if it catches your attention.
Following are some traits of a good blog design:
Use whitespace, it makes content easy to read..and skim.
Navigation menu and breadcrumbs.
Easy font like Poppins, Montserrat, Helvetica, Georgia, Verdana or Raleway.
Font size of 18-22.
Use identical and light colors across site.
Make social sharing icons accessible across devices.
Use Grid structure for category blog posts.
Use Author bio.
Enable comments section for engagement.
Add visuals where necessary.
Create a custom home page and sell yourself
Five essential new WordPress blog settings:
Before you jump into creating content, you’ll need to configure the essential and basic WordPress settings to make your site function properly.
Settings ->General ->Enter your site name and what it is about, and Enter your site URL with https.
Settings ->Reading ->Feed how your ‘home’ page needs to look. My advice is create a static home page with a clear value statement and CTA.
Settings -> Enable manual comment moderation and keep other options untouched.
Settings ->Permalinks -> WordPress offers the facility to have custom URL structure for your posts and pages because they’re good for usability and SEO. So enable ‘post name’ and save.
Delete dummy content (Hello world) from ‘posts’ and ‘pages’ section.
WordPress plugin: Everything you need to know
In simple words, a WordPress plugin can add new functionality to your blog or improve its performance.
WordPress store has over 59,000 plugins – both free and paid available with a wide variety of applications like design, SEO, social media, security, to eCommerce selling.
You can install a plugin from your dashboard; Plugins -> Add New.
Most plugins start working right away without any manual configuration after activating them.
Setting up ‘Home’ and ‘About’ page for new bloggers
1) Home page
Since the home page is the most viewed and high-authority page for any website, you don’t want to keep it unutilized by simply featuring your latest posts.
The purpose of your home page is to attract new readers and earn their trust by selling yourself and convince them to click on your CTA by making them understand what best you can do for them.
Don’t overdo the design by adding lots of colors, elements, and CTAs. Keep it simple!
Sure, you want visitors to buy your new course or eBook, signup for email, or follow you on social media, but if you try to achieve multiple things from your home page, you will confuse them and lose a potential customer.
So make your most important information the action of the page. Finally, you can also add testimonials (if you have any). It adds credibility.
How to create a home page and display it?
Click Pages ->Add New Page and publish the home page. After that,
Go to Settings -> Reading -> Select the home page and save changes.
About page is another excellent opportunity to let your visitors know more about you by sharing your brand story, so this shouldn’t be overlooked.
Here are some ‘About’ page tips:
Add your picture and where you’re based.
Be concise even if you decide to write 2000+ words.
Don’t tell brutal lies (like you paid off $50,000 debt in less than two months with the help of blogging).
Add your social credibility or work.
Add your best content or link to your blog.
Contact information for collaborations.
The necessary copy for your ‘About’ is how you and your blog can help the audience. So be sure the information you add will align with them.
And finally, get the user to engage with you by offering them a chance to signup, eBook download, join your Facebook group, or visit your blog.
Step 4. Writing Your First Blog Post
Who are you, how can you help people? You already talked about that on the ‘Home’ and ‘About’ pages. So what’s the point of repeating the same in your first blog post?
Instead, do this:
Narrow down your audience; you can’t help a beginner and pro) with the same outline.
Think of what’s the first thing a beginner wants to know about any topic from your niche.
Suppose you want to write about dog care and share your experience as a dog caretaker (should I call parent?) with people with zero experience.
You may want to cover “The ultimate guide on Dog care” with sub-topics as health tips, housekeeping, bonding, training, etc.
You may also plug in the keywords related to your niche in the SEMrush keyword tool to get some content ideas or visit your competitors to understand what to cover.
Once you have the topic to write, hit it on Google, visit the websites that already have covered the topic for your reference.
The first step is to start writing the draft. The rest follows.
How to write a blog post?
Click Posts ->Add New
You will see the following:
Write an engaging title so you can stick to it without distraction.
Then click on the ‘+’symbol you see on the top right and choose ‘paragraph’ to continue writing. You can click ‘browse all’ and see all the available features to help you design and publish a compelling article with visuals.
Here are some writing tips:
Break down your content into paragraphs, bullet points, quotes; because most people skim.
Add visuals where necessary.
Write compelling headlines.
Use Grammarly to be concise.
Write a captivating short intro.
Don’t bore the reader, get to the point.
Stay on topic.
Present clear CTA.
Encourage engagement through blog comments by asking questions at the end of your copy. It helps build relationships with the readers.
Once you have completed writing your first blog post, preview it (top right button) to understand how your post appears on your blog and hit the publish button.
Pro tip: The first draft can always be lousy, don’t worry about it. The golden rule of blog writing is to proofread as much as possible before publishing to ensure your writing is compelling and concise.
Eventually, how to get content ideas for your blog?
Visit competitors and steal ideas (but don’t copy).
Ask your audience via blog comments, social networks, email, or by conducting surveys/polls.
Identify trends using Google trends, BuzzSumo, SEMrush, AnswerThePublic, etc.
Always carry notes (you never know when an idea hits).
Quora.com; signup and start finding queries directly from the audience who want answers.
Udemy – plug in your keywords and you will be presented with potential ideas.
Identify topic clusters in your niche.
Try idea generators.
Step 5: Blog Promotion and Traffic Driving tips
Your job will not end after you publish your first article. You need to put efforts that can push your content’s visibility and generate engagement.
Here are the things I recommend you do post-publishing:
Promote it on your social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, etc.).
Join social media groups and be helpful to gain traction.
Share it with your friends and family to read.
Send an email newsletter (if you have any subscribers) via an email tool.
Drop thoughtful blog comments on others blogs and add your new post URL in the URL section.
Share and engage with peers and Influencers content. The high chances are that they pay a visit to your blog, read and share your content.
Write helpful answers on Quora and add your link in relevant context.
Out of all, my favorite tactic is ‘optimizing content for SEO’ and Twitter promotion. It takes time to understand how things work, the best way is to be consistent and experimenting to pick up what is WORKING for you.
Step 6: Monetizing your blog (Make money blogging)
I am sure most of us have started blogging for money, no wrong with that. Bloggers do make money out of their blogs but it is not an overnight thing you could do.
While you certainly start generating little by little revenue out of your blog, don’t set big revenue goals in your first few months. It takes an average of 8-12 months before a blogger earned their first income.
Freelancing is one of the instant ways to generate blog revenue; you can offer services like writing, blog setup, website design, social media marketing, depending on the skills you gained.
The best way to start freelancing is to create a ‘Hire me‘ page to let your visitors know about your talent and hire you.
Ensure you have enough clever writing portfolio – it could be your guest posts, client work, blog, etc.
Be active on social media and add value to others and gain traction by promoting others content. You shall see more clients coming from word-of-mouth if you do well.
Affiliate marketing is performance-based, meaning you will get a commission when a visitor makes a product purchase through the unique affiliate link you promoted.
For example, a travel blogger can publish content about the best travel essentials and link their recommendations. The blogger earns a percentage if the reader purchase through their link.
How to start?
Select one or two products you already know off and want to take the word out.
Sign up for their affiliate program, grab unique links and creatives to start promoting via product reviews and banners.
Some of the popular and trusted affiliate marketplaces are ShareASale.com, CJAffiliates, Amazon Affiliates, Rakuten advertising, etc.
You can make big passive income with an affiliate stream but that doesn’t mean you can sleep on the task. It takes your consistent focus and hard work to build and grow a community that will attract brand interest.
Sell digital products
It is one of the effective and fastest ways to monetize your blog, the only crucial ingredient you need is a decent loyal readership.
Here are a few digital products you can sell on your blog:
T-shirts and mugs with your logo
If you run a travel blog, you might try selling travel guides via Selz, Amazon KDP, Barnes and Noble Press, Gumroad, etc.
You make your blog space available for brands to advertise their products in the form of banner ads and sponsored content.
Since it is one of the potential ways to make big money, you need to put great effort into growing your blog for that level.
For brands to advertise on your blog space, you must have:
A large amount of traffic (at least 10K+ monthly).
A decent number of real fans and engagement on social media.
An authority and professional presence.
Depending on stats like Domain Authority, Page Rank, Domain Rating, etc, you can charge from $50 to $5000 per post.
If you decide to monetize through this channel, here are two tips that will help:
Focus on having high-quality content that can drive organic traffic for high-PPC (competitive) keywords, so you can make your blog an attractive space for advertisers.
Ensure the ads don’t cover the whole content and annoy the visitors.
To begin with this monetization form, you must create a media kit that will help prospects to understand your offerings and get to know you better.
#5. Final note – Blogging For Beginners (In 2021): How To Start And Grow A Blog That Makes Passive Income
Many greedy bloggers mislead by making you believe that generating passive income from blogging is easy. It’s not really true; the startup period can be intense. Stop posting quality content and overlook SEO, you will start to see a drop-off.
Growing a lucrative blog business that makes passive income on autopilot is not an overnight scheme, you have to give time for your investment to grow before you can enjoy the rewards. However, once you manage to pull it off, that’s when the real fun begins.
Every successful blogger started from scratch (zero readerships), but they built a steady profitable blog business with consistency in writing and an entrepreneurship mindset. It is also crucial to add SEO to your blogging efforts, as it will be the backbone of your growth.
Nothing comes to your table unless you go get it, so dive in, start your blog, be consistent with publishing, get noticed by Google and your audience, increase traffic and you’re off to join the gang of wealthy bloggers.