This step should come after defining your niche. Once you know who you’re targeting, you can get to work on finding out about all of the individual problems they’re having and pinpointing their top pain points. Why is this important? People read blogs, watch videos and buy products to solve the problems they’re having. You could simply blog about what you feel would be most popular and create products you feel would be most profitable, but having definitive proof on what your audience cares about the most is a much better way to ensure success.
What's sponsored content? Generally, it's when a brand, company or individual pays you a fee in order to get their content (or offer) in front of your audience. That means you'll likely need some semblance of a readership base before you're able to broker a sponsored content deal—because the sponsor's going to want to see your readers click through and at least evaluate the special offer you're writing about.
The truth is, it's not as easy to carve out your space on the web and make a name for yourself as a blogger today, as it was back when blogging was brand new. And it takes a lot of time to build your audience to the point where it's successful. (The most successful, multi-million dollar blogs today were started around 2005 or earlier.) So it's definitely not something you can get rich quickly with, though many people do work on their blogs full time.

In addition to getting new readers to your blog, you will also want to make sure your current readers are coming back. This is where email marketing plays a big role. By collecting the email addresses of your visitors (with their permission of course), you can then notify them when you post something new on your blog. This keeps people coming back to your blog, which not only gives you more readers over time, it also allows you to build a closer relationship with your readers.
In case you don’t know what Adsense is or how CPC advertising works (cost-per-click), basically Google gives advertisers a pre-determined amount of money each time someone clicks on an advertisement on your blog (from as small as $.01/click to some keywords raking in as much as $100/click based on a bidding system/how competitive a particular keyword is).

I always encourage my friends to look at WPengine for hosting, its a bit more pricey but is really stable and reliable, plus they include tons of goodies that are usually considered a premium service and they all work without a struggle. Thinks like a CDN, Backups, Offload to S3. All these things can really help the quality and consistency of your site and are definitely something to think about whether you are a beginner or an advanced blogger.
Why? While there are other platforms for blogging, WordPress is the most mainstream, with nearly 100 million installations to date. Yes, that's a lot of blogs out there. The fact is that there are approximately 1000 websites being created every minute of every day, with a large majority of those being blogs. So if you're starting a blog, you're likely starting a WordPress blog.
This is a big reason why I recommend building your blog with a platform that allows you to build a proper, fully-fledged website rather than a blog with a few simple pages. Platforms like WordPress.org allow you to build beautiful pages designed to captivate and convert your readers as they scroll through them. You can do this with page builders, email marketing plugins, plugins that help you manage and cloak affiliate links, and more.
For example, if your hobby is cooking, start with the different categories of recipes you enjoy cooking: Baking, Grilling, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Beef, Chicken, Crockpot, Budget, Exotic, etc. Then break it down from there: Baking: Cookies, Pies, Cakes, Breads, Quick Breads, Baking Tips, etc. If you’re not coming up with enough categories, sub-categories, and topic ideas, it’s probably not a sustainable topic for you.
The tools you use to reach people constantly change and you always have new options – more than you can handle. If however you understand the fundamentals, you realize that your core values stay consistent. How you present your value and what distribution formats you use to deliver it to people, fluctuates based on what is working best at any given time.
Before you start choosing a domain name and theme, you need to figure out what topics your blog is going to cover. What are you going to write about on a regular basis? You may already have an idea in mind, but if not, I suggest doing some intense brainstorming. Write a list of your passions, hobbies, and dreams, and a second list with your skills, experiences, and areas of expertise. Then start thinking about possible blog post ideas for each topic. If you're coming up short on article ideas, it's probably not the best topic for a niche.
If you have great writing skills, you can become a successful blogger. Writing is the basic skill for becoming a blogger. Your blog readership will depend on how good your writing skills are. When I’m talking about writing, it doesn’t mean writing like an expert, but write like an individual. You are not writing for a book or a newspaper, as they are different. See the editorial page of a newspaper or a magazine, and that’s the exact kind of writing which I’m talking about.
Okay, so if that doesn't dissuade you one bit, or you've already made the decision to start a blog, here's what you need to do in a step-by-step format. First, I need to premise this by saying that this post is largely based off of the WordPress blogging platform. It is not a step-by-step configuration guide to WordPress, but it does reference the system often.
If you aren’t part of an ad network then you are constantly searching for new companies to advertise on your site. This one was always a pain in the ass for me. I wanted to spend time making my site better, but if I ignored selling my ad space then I wouldn’t have money to continue to make my site better. You can join an ad network, but that means you are giving up a percentage of the revenue. Work hard to only get 50% of the money? Bleh.

Take it seriously. Yes, you’re applying for an online job. Yes, you can do the work in your underwear, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a “real job”. You must treat it as such or they aren’t going to treat you as a serious candidate. You aren’t the only one who wants to work in their underwear. In fact, the competition online is likely higher than it is in your local area.

Thanks Donna for taking the time to write this excellent comment. I agree with you 100%. A blog can give you an income from offline sources and is a great way of diversifying into different areas, but again it also depends on the niche you find yourself in. I always say to people to not be too reliant on one source of traffic or one source of income, because they can vanish pretty quickly.
I actually think that the recent success of more bloggers paves the way for new bloggers – we’re joining a growing industry at the perfect time. More and more brands see the benefits of working with bloggers, more affiliate programs are being offered, more consumers are turning to bloggers as a the source of their information. Ad networks are getting more competitive.
Thank you for this post. I am a SAHM of 3 kids. With only one source of income, I would love to be able to create some extra income blogging to help my family out. I love to share ideas and recipes online so I really feel like blogging is my calling but I am nervous to start because I feel like there are so many different directions to take and I want to know I am going to do everything I can to be successful.
I appreciate all the info you have here. I have had to retire from a 50 year career because of a health problem and I desperately need to find something to do at home to keep from losing my house. I have been looking at your site for months now, and just can’t find anything I would be interested in doing. I had a blog once before, years ago, and loved it, but never made any money from it as I didn’t understand how to. I have stayed away from the blogging idea because I know it takes a while to get going (making any money) and I need some NOW. But, after months of not finding anything else suitable, I have decided that if I don’t get started doing something, I’ll never get anywhere. After reading all of your info here, and printing out all of the basics to get started, it’s a little daunting! There’s so much more to it than I thought. I think I know what topic, niche, to use and want to start with affiliate marketing, but there is SO much to know and get it started! I hope I am able to get this all figured out! One thing you suggested is to connect with other bloggers to get tips on how to do things. How do you do that? Where do you find them?
Advertising is easy to start, making it a popular income stream for many bloggers. However, it’s not nearly as lucrative as it once was and it requires a lot of traffic to be truly profitable. Also, it runs the risk of frustrating your readers (ever been on a site only to be assaulted by the ads?) and making your site look cheap and unsophisticated. Therefore, it’s not a top recommendation of mine.

Finally, in order to build a blog that actually makes money, you need to get social. You need to collaborate with others. Communicate with leaders in your niche. Reach out and share other bloggers’ content. Acknowledge their work and give them positive feedback. Don’t be pushy about it and don’t look for anything in return. It doesn’t quite work that way.
If you put your nose to the grindstone — you can earn good money within a year, but the general rule of thumb is blogging is not the fast lane to making cash quickly. I’ve been blogging for nine years, but it took me five years to hit the six-figure mark. Bloggers like Sarah Titus have hit the six-figure mark within a year. Kristin Larsen started making $3,500 a month at the five-month mark. You can read their stories below:
Take it seriously. Yes, you’re applying for an online job. Yes, you can do the work in your underwear, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a “real job”. You must treat it as such or they aren’t going to treat you as a serious candidate. You aren’t the only one who wants to work in their underwear. In fact, the competition online is likely higher than it is in your local area.

It’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in the “How to start a profitable blog in 10 minutes and earn $5000 / month while you sleep!” articles that you see out there. But the thing is, those articles leave out some details – they do this on purpose, so that you go ahead and start your blog RIGHT NOW, without giving it any thought – so the writers can earn commission on hosting sales. Many bloggers earn so much money from hosting sales with their how to start a blog tutorial that they hardly even need to try making money anywhere else on their blog.
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