Last Updated on January 14, 2021.
Your search for how to start a blog and make money in 2021 ends here. Right in this post, you’ll learn how to start your own blog and make money with it.
I’ll show you everything you need to know about starting a blog and making money with the blog – from how to create a blog to promoting and monetizing the blog. You’ll learn how to do it yourself even if the only thing you can do on a computer is to point the cursor and click a button. To make it easy for you to follow, I provided screenshots every step of the way.
Let’s start a blog and make money!
What you’ll learn in this post:
- how to start a blog
- how to pick the right domain name for your blog
- how to set up your blog the easy way
- proven ways to monetize your blog
I divided the guide into three sections:
The first section deals with the actual process of creating your blog, the second talks about managing your blog, and the third about how to make money from your blog.
Click on any of the links to jump to the corresponding section.
Before we go on, let’s answer some quick FAQs
What is a blog?
To have searched for “how to start a blog” or “how to create a blog,” you probably already know what a blog is and what you can achieve with one. Following is a brief overview, notwithstanding.
Blogs (short for weblogs, now normalized) started out as a “place” on the Internet where people journal their day-to-day, life experiences and all of that. While blogs still serve that purpose, today, blogs can do much more than that. As a matter of fact, you can make a full business out of a blog.
A blog can serve as your showroom; to showcase your work and build a community of fans who admire your work. You can start a blog to share your expertise on a topic, to teach people how to do stuff, to conduct business, and, of course, make money.
If you’re a writer, journalist, graphics designer, or just about a creative in any industry, you can start a blog to host your portfolio, showcase your work and build a base of rabid fans.
As a business owner, you can learn how to start a blog to create an online presence for your business and generate leads. You can also run a blog as a stand-alone business to make money online.
There are many more reasons to learn how to start a blog. The opportunities are limitless.
How much does it cost to start a blog?
How much you’ll expend to start a blog depends on such factors as the type of blog you want to build, the host company you use, the plugins you use and so on. If you have Internet, a computer (laptop or desktop), and a smartphone, those are already minus the costs.
In this post, I demonstrated the process using Hostgator. It costs only $51 for the first year and it covers hosting, SSL, and domain name (that’s all you need to start a blog). With this, I’m showing you how to start a blog for almost free. However, I wrote a post about how much it costs to start a blog and another one about cheap web hosts you can try.
How technical is this?
On a scale of 1-10, this guide is a 4 (non-technical, but requires the ability to drag the mouse, point the cursor and effect a click). This guide is beginner-friendly, so regardless of your experience and technical capabilities, you’ll be able to start your blog in a matter of an hour or two.
DISCLOSURE: When you make a purchase through some links in this post, I may earn a commission. The commissions are at no extra cost to you, I promise.
How to Start A Blog and Make Money Blogging in 2021
To start a blog and make money blogging, you only need to do seven things:
- Pick a blogging niche
- Pick and register a domain name
- Register for hosting
- Setup your blog
- Publish valuable contents
- Promote your contents
- Monetize your blog
Everything you need to start, grow, and make money from a blog revolves around these seven easy steps. No more, no less.
Let’s see how to do it.
This is the first step in your journey to start a blog and make money and, safe to say, is the most important step. All other steps build on this one step. You can’t make money blogging without a blog, obviously.
In this section, I’ll show you how to:
- pick your blogging niche
- choose a blogging platform
- come up with a suitable name for your blog
- register with a web host
- setup your blog
Click on any of the steps on the list to jump straight to the corresponding part.
Pick your blogging niche
Your blogging niche is the topic your blog will be about. It is the topic you’ll be writing about on your blog. The market you’ll be operating in. The problem you’ll be helping your readers solve.
If you want to run a personal blog to journal your daily life or share your opinions on different issues, you don’t have to bother about this step. Jump straight to the next step: choose and register your domain name.
If, on the other hand, you’re learning how to start a blog in order to make money either full-time or as a side project, picking a niche is very important. The success of your blog depends highly on it. This is because if you pick a niche you have no interest or experience in or one with no market value, the zeal will peter out in no time and you’ll give up even before your blog starts picking up.
Picking a niche – a profitable niche – can prove difficult and that’s why I wrote an entire post about it, but here’s the idea—a summary, sorta.
- Solution to an embarrassing problem. e.g addictions. If you’ve ever suffered an addiction that you were somehow able to overcome, that’s your blogging niche right there. Start a blog to document how you got into the addiction (people connect well with personal stories), how you got over it and how you’re coping with your new lifestyle.
- Something you’re passionate about. Cycling? Crocheting? Cooking? You can start your blog around your passions, teaching people how to do it and also to sell your craft.
- Your professional experience. If you’re an expert in a certain field, you can start a blog giving expert advice and opinions on your industry trends.
- Finance. Know a thing or two about making or saving money, getting out of debt, living frugal? You can start a blog around any of that.
- Products. You can also blog about stuff you use and like e.g home improvement tools. You can show people how to use the tools, recommend cheaper alternatives, and make money doing just that.
Still struggling to find one? Check out these popular (and profitable) ones:
- Health and fitness
- Essential oils
- Home decor
- Home improvement
- Fashion and lifestyle
- Dating and relationship
- Adult education
Check where your interest, experience, and expertise lie in any of these niches, narrow down, use Google to check if there are more than 20 blogs specifically operating in that niche (that proves the niche is viable, with a solid market potential) and JUST START!
There are quite a lot of platforms (both free and paid) out there to choose from when you want to start a blog or website. So much it can lead to choice paralysis, but according to W3Techs the popular ones are:
All of the options listed until the last one are content management systems (CMS) and do not require any coding. This essentially means that the choice is between CMS website builders and coding your blog from scratch.
Coding from scratch requires having programming (coding) knowledge or hiring an agency or someone who does. If you don’t want to do any of that the obvious choice is website builders.
Unfortunately, most free website builders have many limitations that stifle the growth of a blog. Here are some:
- Generic feel and look. Checkout blogs hosted on Blogger, they all look almost exactly the same. Almost because well, you can choose a different color for the background of your blog.
- Limited customization. Free platforms don’t give much room for customization; they want you playing strictly by their rules.
- They monetize your hard work and even worse: prevent you from doing same. Most of these free platforms will put ads on your blog and won’t allow you to do the same. That’s a total rip-off, but then there’s no free stuff even in Freetown.
- You can wake up one day to the shocking reality that you’ve lost everything. A free platform can delete your blog in error or for flouting one ambiguous rule that you don’t even know exists.
- Limited features. The catchphrase is usually something along the line of “go pro to unlock more features.”
The free offer is usually a lure. Free blogging platforms will bombard your mail every day with hard sells.
So how do we check these limitations, enjoy flexibility, and have the choice of customizing our blogs to taste?
By choosing a platform that gives us freedom and peace of mind without breaking the bank, right?
Well, here it is:
WordPress is free and doesn’t have any of the limitations mentioned. At the risk of exaggerating, WordPress does not have any limitation whatsoever.
WordPress is a free, open-source blogging platform started in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little and licensed for the general public to make of it whatever they desire.
It is the platform of choice for both professionals and anyone just learning how to start a blog.
Here’s why you should use WordPress to create your blog:
- WordPress is the most popular blogging platform. It powers 38% of websites and blogs on the Internet.
- Customizing WordPress is easy. You only need to drag the mouse and make a few clicks to customize a WordPress blog.
- Ease of use. Writing and publishing a post on WordPress is as easy as writing in Word or Google Docs.
- Easy to get help. Due to its popularity, it’s very easy to get help. You only need to Google the problem or search in the WordPress support forum.
It is used by established businesses and media companies. New York Times, Forbes, TechCrunch, MP3.Com, Reuters, TED this blog, all use WordPress.
Your domain name is the address of your blog. It is what your readers will use to access your blog. The domain name of the blog you’re on right now is startablogonline.com. Facebook’s domain name is Facebook.com.
Regardless of where they are in the world, anyone who types www.startablogonline.com in their browsers will land on this blog.
If you have already decided on a domain name, you can jump to step 3: registering with a web host.
As simple as it seems, this step can be a little tricky, especially if it’s your first time learning how to start a blog. You can be on it for days and still not come up with one you’d absolutely love.
It shouldn’t be that hard though. It boils down to “why” you’re creating the blog. If it’s for your business, use your business name for the domain. For instance, if your business name is My Awesome Business, go for myawesomebusines.com
If you’re creating a portfolio for your writing or graphics design business, use the name of your business or niche as the domain name. For instance, if you write for the tech industry, you could choose techwriterforhire.com.
You can also include your niche or a word that implies it in the domain name. If you’re starting a blog about cooking, you can choose such names as inthekitchen.com or SophieCooking.com. Choosing a name like this gives readers an idea of what the blog is about. They know what to expect.
With the goal of your blog in mind, you should be able to choose the most suitable name for your blog. Again, this blog is about helping people start and manage their blogs; hence the name startablogonline.com.
You get the idea.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re choosing your domain name:
- Keep it short, simple, and memorable. Your readers should be able to remember your domain name without having to second-guess. So make it short and to the point. It will be a lot of work for anyone to remember thebestlogoandflierdesignerinnewyork.com compared to nygraphicsdesigner.com.
- Go for .com extension. Because it’s the most common extension, but if it’s is taken, you can go for other popular extensions such as .net or .org or your country-specific extension (such as .co.uk for the UK, .de for Germany, .ca for Canada and so on).
- Avoid hyphens and numbers. Hyphen and numbers are derailers. They derail the flow of the domain. Compare Facebook.com with Face-book.com or Facebook4you.com.
- Use your name. JeffBezos.com, DonaldTrump.com, JoeBiden.com. Names are brandable, simple, memorable, and everything.
Or just follow your guts. And if for some reason you ended up registering one you don’t like, you can change it later.
Picked a beautiful one? I’ll show you how to get your domain name for free in the next step.
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Before your blog can go live and become accessible by your readers over the Internet, you need to host it with a web host. It is this web host that will “host” the contents of your blog, from posts to images, videos and other kinds of content you put on your blog.
For hosting, I recommend Hostgator. Hostgator is a leading host company and has been in the business for over 15 years.
If you buy your hosting on Hostgator through any of the links in this post, you’ll get:
- 60% off
- Your domain name for free
- A free SSL certificate
- One-click WordPress installation
- Unmetered bandwidth
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Unlimited custom emails
SSL certificates allow you to have a “padlock” on your website or blog, signaling to users that your blog is safe and secure. All modern browsers flag websites and blogs without the padlock icon. Hostgator will give you this for free.
Because I have an SSL Certificate on this blog, here’s what Google Chrome says:
Hostgator also gives you a whopping 45 days to decide whether you want them or your money back.
So head over to Hostgator now to claim your 60% discount.
Here’s how to do it:
Step #1. Go to Hostgator (use this link). You’ll be presented with a page like below. Click on the Get Started button.
Step #2. Choose a hosting package. Depending on your budget and how many blogs you want to create, check carefully which package best suits your needs. The Hatchling plan allows you to host only one website while the other two allow hosting of unlimited websites. I chose the Hatchling plan.
Step #3. Enter your desired domain name. If available, it will be automatically added to your cart. If not, try other extensions such as .net or .org or check for another domain name.
On the same page, scroll down to choose a hosting plan and billing cycle. You can register for as many as 36 months (3 years) in advance.
Step #4. Enter your billing information. Guard your details very well. Make sure no one is looking from behind while at it.
Step #5: Uncheck all the additional services. We’ll achieve the same results using free tools and plugins.
Step #6. Now review your order and check the box to agree to Hostgator’s terms and click on Checkout Now! to complete your order.
After completing the transaction, you’ll get a confirmation email from Hostgator. The email will contain instructions on your next step, including your login details.
It’s time to create your blog.
Log in to your cPanel. You should be signed in already, but if you aren’t, use the login details contained in the confirmation email from Hostgator.
In the Software section, click QuickInstall.
On the next page, click on WordPress.
Now choose the domain to install WordPress on and fill all fields – Blog Title, Email, Admin User, First and Last Name – as appropriate.
Leave the directory empty.
Security tip: Don’t use “admin” as your username. Makes it easy for hackers. You can use anything else, but admin.
After installing WordPress, you’ll receive a congratulatory email. Now you can log in to your blog dashboard where you customize your blog and also add contents.
Your blog is now live. You can log in to your blog and start blogging!
You have successfully created your blog, it’s time to move to where the fun and most of the work is: blogging.
You’ll spend more time managing your blog than even implementing a monetization strategy.
You’ll frequently create new content or update existing ones, tirelessly promote your blog contents and continuously monitor your progress.
Let the work begin.
Logging in to your blog
To log in to your blog’s WordPress dashboard, enter your domain name in your browser and append
If your domain name is mydomainname.com, type mydomainname.com/wp-login in your address bar and hit enter.
You’ll be presented with the login page as in the screenshot below:
Enter your login details as appropriate and hit enter. Your blog dashboard will look exactly like below:
Familiarize yourself with the dashboard
This is what the dashboard looks like. Yours should look exactly the same.
- Posts: From here, you can add new blog posts, modify or delete an existing one.
- Media: This is where to manage your media files — images and videos.
- Pages: Like posts, you can add new pages or modify existing ones from here
- Comments: You can manage comments on your posts from here. You can choose to approve, modify, or delete a comment.
- Appearance: This is where to customize your blog, change themes, add a logo, add a favicon, change fonts, add widgets, etc. How much customization you can do depends on your theme.
- Plugins: Here you can install/uninstall, activate/deactivate, and delete plugins. More on this later in the post.
- Users: To add a new user — a new admin, author, editor, or subscriber.
- Settings: In settings, you can make changes that apply sitewide. You can choose whether or not to allow comments on your posts, change time and date format, change permalinks structure, and so on.
Change permalinks format
Permalinks means URL structure. You can change the structure of your permalinks to reflect the category, date, archive, or just the post name. It’s better to have just the post title, for SEO purposes.
To change that, go to Settings >> Permalinks, then select the structure you like. I checked Post name.
Once you’re done, click on the Save Changes button to save your settings.
Change or customize your theme
See themes as design templates. They are responsible for the look, color, fonts, and layout of your blog.
It is also from the theme’s customizer that you upload a logo, change your favicon, add menus among other things.
WordPress comes with a pre-installed theme that is ready for use out of the box, however, the default theme may not have the features you want and that’s why you may want to change it.
Your choice of theme depends on your needs. Sometimes, finding one that has the features you want takes serious digging, and in some cases, $$.
We won’t dwell too much on this; you can always change your theme anytime. You shouldn’t be obsessed with changing or customizing your theme by the way, because there’s always that part you want to perfect.
If you want a simple, yet fashionable theme, checkout Hestia or OceanWP. They’re both free.
I provided links (such as how to change your theme) to more resources at the end of this post. For now, let’s get the blog running.
Add a new post
Now that you’ve learned how to start a blog and probably started your blog, it’s time to publish your first post.
Here’s how to create a new post:
Hover or click on Posts and then click on Add new.
On the next page (screenshot below) enter your post title and start typing.
Click on the Save Draft button to save the post as draft. To preview the post before publishing, click on the Preview button. Click on Publish to publish the post, but before that, you should add tags and categories. Categories are good for organization; they put similar posts (post treating different aspects of the same topic) together in one place.
Say my blog is about music and I wrote a post about country music, I’ll categorize the post as Country Music and tag it with the name of the musician. When my readers click on Country Music, they’ll be presented with a page showing all posts about country music. If they click on the tag (artiste’s name), they’ll be able to access all blog posts I wrote about the artiste.
To add a new category, look to the right of the post editor, click on + Add New Category and enter the category in the space provided and hit enter. To add tags, enter your tags (as many as you want) and separate them with commas and hit enter or click the Add button.
Click on the Publish button to publish your posts.
Before you hit publish
Here are a few things to consider:
- Value. Make sure what you’re putting out is worth anybody’s time. If your readers cannot get any value from your blog post, be sure to never see them again.
- Engagement. Studies have shown that the average human has 8 secs attention span. If your posts aren’t engaging, people will hit the back button.
- Clear language. Write like you’re talking to a friend. Use a lot of YOU-s and fewer I-s.
- Headlines, bold, italics. Headlines give an idea of what to expect in a paragraph. Use bold and italics for emphasis.
- Keywords. This should come first, frankly. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner (free), Keywordtool.io (free) or SEMRush (paid) to see what keywords your potential readers use to query Google and other search engines.
- CTA, or Call To Action. Write clearly what you want your readers to do. Whether it’s to signup for a course, click a link, share the post, or even something as little as leaving comments. Tell them what to do.
Your posts must provide value, give readers the information they seek or they move to the next useful blog.
Treat your blog like a business, if you ever want to make money from your blog.
Create essential pages
Your About page to tell your readers about you and your blog. Even if you’re blogging anonymously, you have to create a persona that can be attributed to your blog.
Provide your contact details on the Contact page.
Go to Pages >> Add new to create a page. The process is the same as writing a post.
Install essential plugins
While WordPress is ready for use out-of-the-box, you can introduce even more sophisticated features to blog with plugins. You can also use a plugin to further improve an existing feature.
The listed plugins are must-haves. Some of them also compensate for the “additional services” Hostgator wants you to pay for.
- Yoast SEO – to increase your blog’s visibility to Google and other search engines.
- UpdraftPlus – to automatically back up your blog.
- Insert Headers and Footers – to add lines of code (especially for analytics and ad networks) to your blog header or footer without messing with codes.
- Limit Login Attempts Reloaded – to do just as the name says.
- W3Tech Cache – to cache your blog static files (essential for speed)
- Akismet – to stake off spam comments.
All the plugins above are free and available on the WordPress plugin directory. You can install them straight from your blog’s dashboard.
How to install plugins
Go to Plugins >> Add new. You’ll be presented with a page like below:
- type the name of the plugin in the search bar
- check if it’s compatible with your version of WordPress
- click on the Install Now button to install the plugin
Promote your contents
This is the most difficult aspect of blogging: moving from zero to one. It is like the 90% of blogging and requires continuous effort.
There’s so much chaos right now. Everything is happening on the Internet and despite our decreasing attention span, so many things are calling for our attention.
How then do you get your blog noticed?
Let’s explore a few ways:
- Offer value. Regardless of how much effort (and money) you put into promoting your blog, if there’s nothing to benefit from the blog, people will leave just as they come. So the first and most important thing to do is to ensure that a visit to your blog is worthwhile. Give your readers information they can’t get anywhere else, help them solve their problems, help them make decisions. This way, you earn not just a reader but a fan.
- Do keyword research. Keyword is a fancy term for the words your potential blog readers use to search Google for information or solutions to their problems. If you got on this page via Google, it is likely because you searched for “how to start a blog,” “how to create a blog” or anything along that line. Use Google Keyword Planner to see what keywords to target, and produce contents around those keywords. Remember, this just gives you an insight. You write for humans, not Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo.
- On-page SEO. These are the search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to implement on your posts. They involve such things as inserting your keywords in your posts (notice how I strategically insert ‘how to start a blog’ and ‘start a blog’ in this post), linking to other posts on your blog and so on. Yoast SEO will help you a great deal with on-page SEO. The plugin will also help you with what you aren’t doing and also warn you about what you’re overdoing. It’s such a wonderful freemium plugin.
- Social media. Share your posts across all social media platforms. You can do that either by manually copying and pasting the URL or using a plugin. You can use Jetpack to automatically share your posts on select social media platforms upon publishing the post. You can also use social media scheduling tools.
- Post on other blogs. To increase your visibility, look for other thriving blogs in your niche and pitch them brilliant post ideas. Guest posting on other blogs will give you the opportunity to introduce yourself (and your blog) in the industry. Get traction by publishing valuable information on other blogs and getting a backlink to your blog.
There are many more ways to promote a blog, but you want to take things slow. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many strategies. Use a few tactics at a time and monitor your progress to see which one works best for you.
You’ve learned how to start a blog and (hopefully) created your blog, now let’s talk about the money part.
How do you make money from your blog?
Many ways, but since you just learned how to start a blog and your blog is still new, here are the best ways.
Affiliate marketing is a blog monetization method where you get compensated for helping a vendor get sales or leads for their products or services. The compensation may be monetary, a free product, or any other kind of incentive.
It’s one of the most popular ways bloggers make money from their blogs. As a matter of fact, affiliate marketing is the best way to make money from a blog, because it allows you to earn passively from your blog.
Another good thing about this monetization method is that it works for blogs in nearly all niches. You only need to find and promote products that are relevant to your audience. You also don’t need tons of traffic or try too hard to push a product to make money with affiliate marketing. You can drive a sale just by linking strategically to a product in your posts or by writing an honest, in-depth review of the product.
This one is as old as time.
You make money simply by putting ads on your blog. Depending on the type of ad, you make money either just by publishing the ad or when your readers take certain actions.
The commonest ad types are banner ads and cost per click (CPC) ads.
Banner ads are, well, banner ads. You put banners on your blog and get paid based on your agreement with the advertiser. It could be for a certain period of time or based on the number of views on the ads.
You can use plugins to manage ad banners on your blog. One of such plugins is AdRotate (free), or AdSanity (paid) if you want something more sophisticated.
With CPC, you get paid based on the number of clicks on the ads. The ads could be texts, graphics, or videos.
The most popular CPC network is Google Adsense. Other popular ones are Media.net, Bing Ads, Mediavine, and Ezoic.
CPC ad is the easiest blog monetization there is, but has one major downside: you need huge traffic to make reasonable money.
Create your own products and sell to your audience.
This is perhaps the most profitable way to monetize a blog. You set your own prices and also get to keep hundred percent of the proceeds. You should however not forget that you’ll also be responsible for the production and other responsibilities that come with it hundred percent.
Things you can sell include tutorial videos, software, ebooks, software templates, online courses and so on.
Most professional bloggers have a few of these in their portfolio that brings them consistent income. I also have an eBook.
You can use your blog to host your portfolio or make it a plus to other monetization methods you use on your blog.
If you’re a writer, graphics designer, or web developer, you can make money from your blog offering your services to your audience.
While you don’t want to be too aggressive with your marketing, you should strategically find a way of informing your readers of your services. You can do this by creating a ‘Services’ or ‘Hire Me’ page where you talk about your services. You can also introduce your services on your About page and author byline.
If you write for an audience of generous people, this can be a little lucrative. While you may not make a killing, you can make enough to cover for your domain name and hosting.
You can directly ask your readers for donations (perhaps at the end of every post) or provide a donate button somewhere in your blog sidebar or footer. While you don’t want a button that screams, you want to make sure it’s visible enough for every visitor to see.
And that’s it.
Links to other resources:
- How to install and uninstall plugins
- How to change your WordPress theme
- How to setup Google Analytics for your blog
- How to connect your blog to Google Search Console
If you’re yet to set up your blog, go to Hostgator now to claim your 60% off.
Got questions? Drop them in the comments. You can also share your progress with us in the comments.