Have you been wondering how to start a blog and make money doing it?
If you have dreamt about starting a blog from scratch, there is no better time than today.
Is it too late to start a new blog in 2023? Are all the topics already taken or too repetitive?
No! The internet has plenty of space for your unique outlook. There is more than enough room to go around. That's the beauty of the endless “real estate” on the web.
Seeing the successful blogs making money and talking about their 6-figures can be intimidating, even though they intend to be motivating.
Can I tell you a secret? That completely scared me off from starting a blog for a few years.
Between feeling like there were already the obvious “winners” online, and being overwhelmed with all of the steps to launch a blog, I pushed it off for too long.
I wish I had just one person to guide me through the process so I wasn't pulled in 100 directions at once. And I wish I had started so much sooner.
So in this post, let’s break it down. I will walk you through small, bite-sized pieces of information to help everything feel more manageable. From running a marathon to diving into technology as non-techy women, anything is achievable if you just look at the single next step ahead.
Don't forget that even the fastest marathon runner once had to start at the same starter’s block as we are at today. One foot in front of another!
So, are you ready to learn how to start a blog and make money in 2023?
Me too. We are in this together, mama!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you find my content valuable and make a purchase through one of my links, I will make a commission at no additional cost to you, which helps me keep this blog going, so I can help you even more! I only recommend products I trust and/or use myself, and all opinions expressed are my own. Read full disclaimer here.
Starting a Blog Overview
Let’s break down this how-to guide so beginner bloggers can see the big picture before digging into the weeds.
First, take a few steps back, and simplify what is really involved in planning and launching a new blog. There are two main phases:
Phase 1: Mindset. “Planning it”
Phase 2: Technology. “Doing it.”
Phase 1: Mindset and planning for new bloggers
I’ll put this right out front. By “mindset,” I do not mean buckle up for positive-vibe, motivational speaker cheerleading. I’m too action oriented, so I’ll leave that for the affirmation gurus.
When I say mindset is an important starting step to launch a blog, it’s because your “why” matters exponentially as a new blogger.
Your purpose behind starting a blog will steer everything from how much time you need, what the startup costs will be, and of course, how to make money.
Just like in choosing careers (and many other things in life,) if you are only driven by money, then the method you choose may be quite different than others. Often online, we see this from overly salesy and spammy content at every turn.
But today, there are so many healthy, intentional and yes, legit ways to make money while helping people that we can take the high road to blog profits.
Phase 2: Technology for new bloggers
“Ok, I have the mindset. But HOW do I actually start a blog? What are the actual steps to own “myname.com” and put my thoughts out there onto the internet?”
The overwhelm of learning the blog building process can often be the biggest hurdle preventing new hopeful bloggers from starting.
Luckily, technology continues to advance every year. As innovation improves, so does the user experience.
For instance, new users now have some great choices to start a blog cheap. And if you put just a little work into learning, you can build your blog easily without hiring a web designer.
This post will teach you step-by-step how to launch your blog yourself just like I did – with no help from any techy professionals!
Phase 1: Blog Planning and Mindset
Before moving on to phase 2 of starting a blog to make money, build your foundations in phase 1.
Since the technical side of launching a blog is what’s new and confusing to most of us first-time bloggers, don’t look too far ahead and scare yourself out of starting.
Remember, all you need to do in Phase 1 of starting your blog is figure out the who, what and why.
Who: Are you writing for?
What: is your blog niche?
Why: are you launching?
Hopefully, another bonus benefit is that you will now have extra excitement and energy around your new blog plans.
That always helps keep up the motivation when the overwhelm tries to kick in!
Why Start a Blog in 2023
If you’re here reading this post, starting a blog has probably crossed your mind before now. But making that jump and putting yourself out there can be scary!
Before starting a new blog, it’s important to decide why you are interested in launching one in the first place.
For example, is your primary goal in starting a blog to:
- Make money – Do you intend to side-hustle or hope to make blogging your main income?
- Provide mental stimulation – Do you mostly like to write and share adventures?
- Community and resource building and sharing
- Build awareness for your (or start a new) business
- Build a portfolio for bigger freelance work
- Improve tech skills
Speaking of community and resource sharing, have you checked out our Facebook group for female entrepreneurs?
What to blog about?
As you start a blog to make money, it’s important to find a topic you can regularly write fresh content about.
If you only write about your personal adventures, you may find it hard to build an audience. Yes, you loved your backpacking trip to Europe, but are strangers going to flock to your page to hear about all the wine you drank in Italy? [If so, you may need to start a wine blog!]
On the flip side, if you try to research and write about only the most profitable blog topics, it may be the wrong fit.
Blogging is not a make money fast scheme. You have to be ready for the long-haul. Find a blog topic you know a lot about, either personally or professionally. Brainstorm some topics based on your:
- Passions, hobbies or interests
- Knowledge or expertise
- Education or experience
- Unique opinions, outlook or creative spin
“Niche Down” Your Blog to Make Money
Ultimately, your blog should provide readers solutions to their problems. Problems that you relate to, which is why you can share your view.
Successful blogs have focused topics and a clear target audience. You often hear the advice to start a blog with a “niche” or to “niche down.”
All that means is that it’s a good idea to get as focused as possible when you start a new blog. It ultimately benefits your initial audience as they get to know what your core information is about (even though we know you probably have a ton to share in other categories, too!)
When you solve a problem and help your blog readers, it helps you to make money without ever being salesy or spammy. By having a niche, you expand on solution options for your readers in the exact topic they are looking to resolve.
Examples of Popular Blog Categories:
- Personal Finance
- Cooking & Recipes
Examples of Niches within popular blog categories:
- Traveling the United States via RV; backpacking Europe on a budget
- Paying off student debt; investing for early retirement
- Vegan Recipes; 30-Minute Recipes for Families
- Family: Raising a Military Family; Special-Needs Mom Blog
- Fashion: Upcycled outdated clothes; comfortable office-wear for female entrepreneurs
Branding a Blog:
Building a brand is a topic worthy of its own post (or maybe even entire book.)
Don’t spin your wheels too much or feel you have to have everything about your blog’s brand decided before you start. In fact, I suggest you don’t even try to plan out everything. Because if you are anything like me, you will end up never starting!
(Also if you are like me, you will end up realizing how inexpensive domain names are, and end up buying more than you will ever get around to using!)
Choosing a Blog Name:
When it comes to choosing a blog name, having the early stages of your blog’s brand decided becomes valuable.
You have plenty of time to think about colors, fonts and all that goes with building a brand.
However, by starting to think about a brand, you will be able to brainstorm blog name ideas more easily. And you need a blog name to begin! Or at least, a blog domain name (the www address where your blog will live.)
For example, my blog name is The Professional Mom, and I was able to buy the domain name www.theprofessionalmom.com.
By choosing a blog name with “mom” right in the title, it helps readers recognize my content is heavily weighted in the category of mom blogs.
Additionally, by branding it with “Professional,” the goal is for potential readers to recognize it will be geared more toward working moms and mompreneurs instead of being filled with fun kid crafts and recipes.
Be aware that blogging has become so popular that it’s highly unlikely your first few choices of domain names will be available.
The good news is that your blog name doesn’t have to match the domain address, though it does help make it easier for your readers to find you.
So, are you ready to simplify the tech side and jump into Phase 2?
You can start playing with the widget below to see if some of the names you like are available now.
Phase 2: How to Start a Blog and Make Money – The Technical Side
Before you start, I highly recommend this one piece of advice.
Believe me, it will save you hours, days and possibly weeks of boring research and frustration.
Find one great tutorial by someone you have come to like and trust, and follow it entirely.
Don’t try to piecemeal various tutorials from the internet.
It doesn’t have to be my tutorial here (though I hope I’m helpful enough that it is!)
Just pick one, focus and follow it.
Oh, and remember – you don't have to do it all in one day.
Save this post to Pinterest so you can take it step-by-step when it works for you!
Free Blogging Software – Use WordPress
I’ll keep this part simple.
You're going to want a self-hosted website using WordPress.org to make money with a blog.
Note this is different than wordpress.com, which is not self-hosted.
Think of it as renting versus owning a house. Sure, renting might be faster, easier and cheaper to get started in the short term. That’s like the YourName.Wordpress.com version of blogging.
WordPress.org and self-hosting is more like buying a house. You own your professionally domain name www.YourName.com and you retain a lot more rights like “renting it out” aka selling ad space.
If you are interested in understanding more detail behind self-hosting your blog, you can always do some more research. But I’m here to help simplify, so I promise you, using WordPress.org will be the most common recommendation you will get across the board.
And it's FREE.
So, we are using WordPress as our software which will build our website.
One decision made. Check!
You don’t even have to do anything separately before our next step. Today, most web hosts have a simple one-click WordPress installation feature so we can skip ahead.
Amazing progress, right?!
Now we just have to figure out where we are hosting our website.
Hosting Your Blog Online
There are several options for choosing a web host. Yes, you do need a webhost. And yes, there are differences in web hosting platforms (speed, security.)
Some of the most popular hosting platforms I have researched include:
Personally, I have most of my websites hosted on Bluehost.
If you research how to start a blog and make money, a majority of tutorials will reference Bluehost for beginners and I agree. Why? Mainly because the cheapest host for new bloggers is Bluehost.com.
Because it is so low cost, you can play around and take your time getting started without the pressure of monetizing your blog immediately. Which is important because as we said earlier – a new blog is not going to make money overnight.
In fact, Bluehost has been recommended by WordPress since 2005. They say so right on their website!
You also don’t need some of the higher end bells and whistles of pricier hosts until you have high volumes of traffic.
It is also one of the most popular hosting platforms.
Being popular also means you’ll be able to find Bluehost tutorials very easily online. That’s how I got started blogging, and why I even became an affiliate for them (which is one of the ways to make money with a blog!)
Bluehost frequently has great sales (we’re talking under $5 per month plus a free domain name) so check out if they are currently running one.
Recently, I have added a new site to Siteground to start experimenting and learning more about any differences I notice. I am currently very happy with both hosts and find them equally easy to use. They are also the second of the three hosts WordPress recommends (see below) so you can't go wrong.
For simplicity, I have written this guide for Bluehost based on its lower cost and my honest experience as a first-time blogger learning based on Bluehost hosting.
If you are interested to learn more or check on Siteground deals or reviews, you can't go wrong with them either!
How to Start a Blog with Bluehost
So, with everything above, I wanted to be honest and let you know where you might want to consider options (hosting providers) versus how you should definitely plan to build your blog (WordPress.)
If you decide on Bluehost, I can walk you through the simple setup, because I have done it myself. That’s right – a real tutorial by a non-techy, non-webmaster woman who figured it out to start a mom blog herself!
Oh, and the WordPress.org hosting recommendations page only refers to three of the thousands of web host options: Bluehost, Siteground and Dreamhost. If you're still looking for evidence they are reliable and the best starting point, here it is.
Step 1: Head to Bluehost
Head to Bluehost.com or click through one of my affiliate links. [Psst, spoiler alert. This is one way bloggers can make a little bit of that money we are talking about. At no extra cost to your audience. But that's why you have to be helpful to your readers and believe in the companies you are recommending!]
Step 2: Choose a package.
The “Basic” Package is plenty for a new blogger. You can always step-up at any time down the road, so I always like to dip my toe in first. Don't feel obligated for the larger package upsells.
I typically choose the upgrade to include the Domain Privacy Protection add-on. It’s such a low monthly cost for the security and peace of mind that my contact information is safer and not spammed! The other add-ons are not needed.
Typically, if you can afford it, the 36-month package tends to be the best value long-term, though Bluehost may change pricing and sales offers at any time. If you use my link today, you can get a FREE domain name too.
Step 3: Create a domain name.
If you haven’t already purchased a domain name elsewhere (we have not in this tutorial,) here’s where you try to grab the one you brainstormed in Phase 1.
Personally, I’m still a fan and prefer anything that ends in the “.com” extension, though there are other options you can choose from if you think they are more fitting.
If your domain name is not available, Bluehost will recommend similar names to you. You can choose one of those or brainstorm some more and try to enter new domains until you find the right fit.
I don’t recommend grabbing the “.blog” extension just because you are planning to become a blogger. Stick with the “.com” whenever possible.
Finally! You get the literal green light. Your domain is available!
Now create your account information to complete your registration.
Step 4: One-Click To Install WordPress
Install WordPress. Choose a theme and get started. (You can always come back and play around with this later. Don’t let it distract you from starting your blog and making money as quickly as possible.)
There are plenty of free themes. You should not have to pay for a theme as a new blogger.
First, to save money, I’d start with a free blog-style theme. Later, if you find a custom design theme you love, you can pay for it and install it easily.
As you start looking for more specific themes and those made by other developers, you are going to want to make sure the design is responsive, lightweight (aka fast) and Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO) friendly.
If you are not ready to take a deeper dive into that side, stick with one of the popular free blogger themes on WordPress to make sure your new blog is optimized for the traffic you are ready to get!
Steps 1 through 4 will be just about the same if you decide to use SiteGround as your blog host instead of Bluehost. I just don’t have screenshots for that yet! Typically Siteground has slightly higher monthly costs, but you can check current deals through my affiliate link for them too. Never hurts to check!
I can’t speak to the other hosts as I haven’t used them myself.
How to Make Money Blogging
Now that you have successfully built the foundations for your new blog, it’s time to get some content on it so you engage an audience. And of course, you need readers (often referred to as “traffic”) to head to your blog to start making money.
Add a few simple Pages (these are the website items you often see as the About Page, Contact Page and Home Page.) Then, start writing your “Posts” – these are the blog posts.
For more WordPress tutorials, head to YouTube and you will be able to find a walkthrough of almost anything you need. That’s one of the biggest benefits of using the most common blogging platforms around.
Pro tip: don’t try to over design your website before you even get started. I definitely spent too much time trying to perfect my brand style and I learned two key things.
1) First, you get tied up focusing on the design part which doesn’t make you money.
There will always be something to tinker with and improve when it comes to your website, but don’t let that get in the way of the processes that actually make your blog profitable.
2) Second, as a new WordPress user, I didn’t realize that adding a few blog posts and some images on my main pages made a huge impact in helping me design.
The good news is many of the themes are designed to get you moving quickly. And, if you follow the advice in step one above, you can stay out of your own way.
However, if you are toggling between color choices and photo size options, you may not get the true sense of how your pages will look if the default theme sample page doesn’t have the same features. (For instance, if you want your links to show up in bold, pink font and underlined, you may not know if you have made the right selection if you haven’t posted one of your blog articles with links in it yet!)
Ways to Monetize a Profitable Blog
There are many popular ways to monetize a blog for profit.
While some money making plans are better for larger blogs with an existing audience, others can be started on even a small new blog with no visits yet.
As a new blogger, my top three ways to make money blogging are Affiliate Marketing, Freelance Writing and Promoting Online Ads.
Remember, blogging is not a get rich quick scheme.
Two of the methods – affiliate marketing and displaying online ads – initially make small amounts of money.
Possibly a dollar or two at a time for an affiliate sale, and less than that for a clicked advertisement.
Is it still worth-while to start affiliate marketing on your blog? Absolutely. I recommend all new bloggers get started with affiliate marketing as early as possible.
Is it still worth it to display online ads? Maybe.
Admittedly I am not actively using online ads for my blog because I would prefer to use the space for my affiliate banners. Too many ads can also start to make your site look spammy.
But, if you display ads in a few key places on your blog, it can become the easiest money you have ever made.
That why I love affiliate marketing and displaying ads for passive blogging income!
The third method a brand new blogger can use to make money is by freelancing, using their blog as a prime place to show off their portfolio of writing. This works for photographers, too!
I have always used Upwork.com (formerly Odesk.com) as both a writer and as a solopreneur looking to hire freelancers.
While it’s not passive income, freelancing can generate more money, and in a shorter amount of time. It also won’t rely on the amount of traffic you generate to your blog.
Here are some of the best ways to make money as a blogger for profit.
- Affiliate Marketing – Partner with brands of products you personally use, trust and recommend. Become an affiliate marketer in their program, and you will make commission off of every sale made through your links.
- Promote Online Ads – One of the easiest ways to make your first dollar through blogging is by displaying ads. Head to Google AdSense and register to put relevant ads in key places on your website. You will be paid per click (but no, you can’t cheat the system and click 1000 times a day yourself. They always know!)
- Freelance Writing / Photography – Use your blog as a portfolio to showcase your work as a writer or photographer. While you build content and traffic to your own website, you can reach out on freelance boards or to specific ideal clients and pitch your contributions as an expert authority in your field.
- Sponsored Posts
- Offer Paid Membership Content
- Ask for Donations
- Sell Courses
- Sell e-Books
- Start a Podcast
- Launch a Virtual Summit
- Host a Webinar / Workshop
- Coaching and Consulting Services
- Sell Physical Merchandise
- Sell Digital Products
Mom Gets the Last Word
Blogging for profit will take a lot of time upfront and consistency in posting. It’s not an overnight way to make money. But, it is definitely a very realistic option for any dedicated new blogger ready to put in the work.
Many people never monetize their blogs, which is perfectly fine too. Share it with family and friends as a way to stay connected instead.
So, are you ready to start a blog and make money in 2023? What topics are you considering? Share in the comments below!