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How to Start a Profitable Blog: Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide

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Hi, my name is Patrick.

When I first started blogging, I did my research like anyone else. I search “how to start blogging,” and sure enough, I thought I found the perfect tools to start blogging. I bought them, started using them, and felt something was off “is blogging supposed to be this difficult?”

With further research and months of experience, I realized I bought into the marketing and used the wrong tools for making blog posts.

I don’t want beginner mistakes like this to happen to you. That is why I made this article. After going through this beginner’s guide, you can be confident that you will start on the right foot in your blogging journey.

Choose a Niche – that you love and can monetize!

The first thing you will want to do is to pick a niche. A niche is simply the topic of your blog. When you create content on only one specific topic, this will help you build an audience as people will know what to expect from you, and therefore they will come back for more of your content.

Before you pick a niche, you might want to think about how you can monetize your blog within this niche. Ads are an easy way to monetize, but you also want to think about affiliate marketing offers in your niche.

For example, if you are in the dog niche, are there any affiliate marketing programs from companies you would personally use? Or maybe you are in the more obscure, kendama niche, will there be enough affiliate program opportunities to effectively monetize your blog?

These are the questions you will have to ask yourself if you want to create a profitable blog.

Here are some niche ideas.

  1. Art
  2. Blockchain and Cryptocurrency
  3. Books
  4. Business
  5. Photography
  6. Cars
  7. Cooking and Recipes
  8. Crafting and DIY
  9. Diet and Weight Loss
  10. Digital Marketing
  11. Exercise
  12. Farming
  1. Fashion
  2. Fishing
  3. Gardening and Lawn Care
  4. Health
  5. Makeup and Beauty
  6. Martial Arts
  7. Music and Instruments
  8. Outdoors
  9. Pets and Animal Care
  10. Sports
  11. Technology
  12. Travel

MY PRO TIP: When picking a niche, I recommend picking a niche that may be less popular but that you still enjoy or are knowledgeable in. Many times these less popular niches may have under-severed communities that you can tap into and gain an audience.

Sure the overall population of this less popular niche will be smaller, but there will also be less competition for your blog and more opportunity for you to grow and start earning money from your blog.

Buy Web Hosting – Here is the most cost effective and fastest hosting service available!

When you buy web hosting, you are buying a server that will host your website’s content and make it available for everyone to see online, on the world wide web!

The most important part of hosting is the speed it provides for your website. According to Google’s 2018 research, 53% of mobile users leave a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Google/SOASTA Research, 2017

I do not want this to happen to you and this is why picking the right hosting is so important.

When you search for “the best web hosting” on Google, all the top blogs will tell you to choose Bluehost, but this is simply a lie!

While Bluehost’s shared hosting is okay, it is no match compared to Cloudways VPS (Virtual Private Servers) options. Simply put, a VPS will give you faster speeds, more control, and more reliability as you are the only person hosted on the server. 

For only a few dollars more per month, you can see a world of difference in your website speed with Cloudways, so it is definitely worth it.

Cloudways is a service that helps manage your website on cloud-based hosting. This makes it easy for everyday people to get started and get the advantages of cloud hosting. All their server options are from reputable server hosts such as DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr, Amazon Web Servers, and Google CloudPlatform.

I honestly wish I started with Cloudways and didn’t fall for all the marketing hype of BluehostCloudways is the bang for your buck option; you get so much value for what you pay for.

Here are all the reasons I recommend you go with Cloudways.

Pricing:

With Cloudways, you can pay as you go, meanwhile with Bluehost, you have to buy at least a whole year of hosting right away. You can start with a Digital Ocean server on Cloudways for just $10/month. 

If you want the full details of pricing, check out the pricing tab on Cloudways website.

Website Speed:

Using a website called GTMetrix, you can test your website load speed. With Bluehost, I had two D ratings, and as soon as I switched to Cloudways, both my rating went to an A. This is huge!

When my website was hosted with Bluehost, it took 5 to 6 seconds to load on the front end. With Cloudways, it takes 1 second to load, more specifically around 1.3, and I still can optimize my website to improve this speed.

The speed in the backend where only I can see and edit my content also improved significantly.

On Bluehost, when I wanted to edit something, I would press a tab, and it would take around  5 to 6 seconds for it to load. This definitely messed up my workflow when I have to click these tabs tens of times when creating content.

Once I switched to Cloudways and activated their Redis caching in the backend, everything loaded almost instantly. This is great because it motivated me to work since I didn’t have these annoying load times.

Customer Service:

This all may sound complicated to you, but on Cloudways, everything is one click, and it works. They also have great customer service that doesn’t just go off a script; they actually know what they are talking about and can help you quickly. 

Plus, Cloudways also has a very well documented, extensive knowledge base for you to use if you want to learn more on your own.

How to Install WordPress

WordPress is the most popular CMS. CMS stands for content management system. A CMS is simply software that allows you to manage and create your website. 35% of all websites on the internet use WordPress.

WordPress is good for beginners because you do not need any technical coding skills to create your website and content. There are many plugins available, and you have full control over your site with hosting and monetization.

Installing WordPress should be pretty easy if it is available with your hosting plan. I will show you how easy it is to do with Cloudways.

Step 1. Sign up with Cloudways

Step 2. Pick the most recent WordPress version and finish selecting options for your hosting. 1GB size is enough to start, and you can easily scale up in the future. Pick a server location that you think is nearest to most of your website audience.

Step 3. WordPress is automatically installed. To find your temporary WordPress URL, go into the application tab of Cloudways, and select “Application URL.”

To actually log in, type in /login at the end of your temporary domain, and you will get a WordPress login screen. Use the “Admin Panel” username and password information to log into your WordPress account.

How to Pick The Best Domain Name (also cheapest!)

When you start, you need to get a domain name. A domain name is just the URL of a website. My domain is theincomezap.com.

Domain names are pretty cheap everywhere. I bought my domain name from NameCheap because they were the cheapest. Besides that reason, customer service helped me with DNS when I was a noob, and they have free whois protection by default, which is quite nice to have.

Below, I actually found a special offer for you guys to buy a .com domain name for only $0.99 for your first year. This is the cheapest domain name you can get anywhere.

Popular Domains for just 99 Cents at Namecheap!

When picking a domain name, there are a few objective rules you should follow to create the best name possible name . . .

  1. Try to keep your domain name on the shorter side. 15 characters max, so it is easier to remember.
  2. Make sure your domain name is easy to spell and pronounce. If people can’t spell your name, they can’t search for it. Avoid double letters and homonyms.
  3. Avoid symbols and numbers. Symbols may be hard to find for people. Numbers are confusing. Do you write 7 or seven?

At the end of the day, if you are having trouble finding a domain name you like, it is not the end of the world. The name is not going to make or break your website. The content of your website will be much more important! Just go with a name you are okay with, as you can always change it in the future.

After you have bought your perfect domain name on Namecheap, two more steps to complete the setup.

  1. Switch your temporary domain with the new one you bought
  2. Point the domain to your hosting provider using DNS

I will show you how easy it is to do with Cloudways. Again, go into the application tab, then click on “Domain Management” in the sidebar. Type in your new domain name and press “Save Changes.”

The second part of this is pointing your domain name to your hosting provider. In simplified terms, you need to connect your website’s hosting server IP address to your URL.

To do this, you will need to create an A record in the DNS (Domain Name System). The DNS is found at the place where you registered your domain. In my case, I registered my domain on Namecheap.

Make two A Records, with the names as shown below (www and  @). Then put in your server IP address, found inside your hosting site. On Cloudways, it’s called Public IP and is found in the application tab.

How your A records should be formatted
This is how the DNS looks on NameCheap

If this sounds like jargon and is confusing, visit this article from the Cloudways database for all the small details so you can understand this better.

How to Write Posts and Design Pages Effectively.

When I first started WordPress, for the longest time, I used a page builder to create my blog posts, and this really slowed down my blog creation process and made it less enjoyable. I thought to myself, “am I really supposed to spend a whole day just to write a single blog post that is not even specifically long?”

I started asking those kinds of questions and looking for better ways to write blog posts. It turned out I’ve been made a big mistake and was blogging inefficiently all along.

I was originally using the popular Elementor page builder to write my blog posts. Elementor was a page builder not really meant for blog posts. It was great for other things such as building pages, footers, headers, popups, your website layout, and more. But when it came to blogging, having to drag and drop the header, each paragraph, and image took up a MUCH more time and was not optimal.

Gutenberg Editor

What I should have done was started with the native WordPress Gutenberg editor. The Gutenberg editor is specifically made for the creation of blog posts. You can easily use “Gutenberg command” such as /heading or /image, and it is also much more intuitive for blogging overall.

When you first start your blog, you should practice using the Gutenberg editor since the content will be the most important part of your blog. Gutenberg is the only thing you need for writing your blog. Learn it well before you start working on the look and layout of your website.

Now that you know how to write your blog posts, you’re probably going to want to create nice looking pages. A home page, a page layout for your blog posts, a contact us form.

I first recommend you try to create the page with Gutenberg again. There are tutorials online that could help you with this, but it will help you learn more about Gutenberg.

After trying to build a page with Gutenberg, if you find that it is too limiting or you want an easier page building experience, you can go with a page builder such as Elementor.

Elementor example

If you are a beginner and want to go for a page builder, I would recommend Elementor. Since Elementor is the most popular page builder, it also has the most tutorial videos on YouTube, which are really helpful. It is easy to use with the drag and drop system and is completely free to start.

How to Monetize Your Blog

The first and most simple way to monetize your blog is with ads. You’re going to want to start with Google AdSense. I’m currently using Google AdSense for this website, and it helps me pay for my hosting and other expenses that come with blogging.

I kept my first Google AdSense confirmation letter, because everything else I get from them is online!

Once your website gets some traction and receives at least 10,000 page views per month, you can sign up for an artificial intelligence ad network such as Ezoic. Ezoic uses artificial intelligence to place ads in the most effective places, and you will get more premium ads. This will help you earn more than you would with Google AdSense.

The next way to earn with your blog is with affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is a way to get paid to promote products. You can either join an affiliate program directly with a brand or join an affiliate marketing network with thousands of offers. Here are some of the best programs to start with as a beginner.

FlexOffers: This is an affiliate marketing network that has thousands of offers. I think the search feature is great for beginners as it makes it easy to find offers in your niche. FlexOffers also has many popular brands, which is always important.

Amazon Affiliate: This is the most obvious and popular affiliate program out there. You can promote any product on Amazon. This is an easy way to start for beginners.

Other Affiliates: Like FlexOffers, another network I am part of is called CJ Affiliate. For the most part, when I search for affiliates, I search if a specific brand has an affiliate program. Many times the specific brand may not have their own affiliate site, but rather they use a site like FlexOffers or CJ Affiliate.

The third way to earn is by creating and selling your own course. If you are an expert on the topic you are blogging about, you should consider creating a course. When you show your expertise and give value to people, they will want to learn more from you and buy your course. You can use popular course creation options such as LearnDash, which is specifically made so you can create and have a course right on your WordPress website.

Last, you can create any product and sell it. This can be a physical product or a digital product such as a PDF guide.

How to Promote & Grow Your Blog

The best way to make sure your blog keeps growing is with SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization. With excellent SEO, your website could be on the front page when people search for something on Google or Bing.

I’m not going to give you a full SEO guide here, it would be very long, but the gist to getting ranked high, especially for a beginner, is this.

Find a low competition search keyword in your niche. (There are many tools to help you do this.) Then create a GREAT article about it and make sure the article is optimized for the search engine. Also, make sure your website loads fast; Google likes fast sites (psst that’s why good hosting is so important). Last, you wait some time and see your website ranked on Google’s first page for a search term.

Besides Google SEO, you can also promote your blog through other forms of social media. YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and others all have their own search engines. This means you can also learn how to optimize your content for search on these other platforms and potentially have less competition than you would have on Google.

If you already have a social media following somewhere, you can promote your blog there if it makes sense. For example, this blog and my YouTube channel cover the same topic, so if I make a video on a topic I blogged about, I can mention it in my video.

I think it is wise to use other social media platforms as it is easier to reach an audience. Pick a platform that you already know how to use and get started. I think YouTube is excellent because video content is so powerful. Also, Pinterest is a great platform because of your posts’ ability to get reposted on many different people’s boards and spread like wildfire. Last, TikTok’s algorithm can be perfect for getting new people to find out about you.

Quick Summary – My final words for you.

You’ve read through the basics of starting your website. That’s it. Get started today, and don’t look back. If you want this to be another stream of income, treat it like a business. Have a plan and follow the plan. Save this page if you need to. Do your proper research and keep improving.

Schedule time for blogging. You are the only person stopping yourself from success. Get your mindset right, have good time management, and have a good work ethic. Do this, and you will reap the benefits of creating a new income with your blog.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or suggestions, send me an email or comment on my YouTube channel.

  1. Pick a topic you enjoy and would like to write about.
  2. Get the best and most effective website hosting, Cloudways.
  3. Install WordPress, the best and most popular content management system for websites.
  4. Cheapest domain with whois protection, NameCheap.
  5. Save time writing blog posts by using the right tools.
  6. Monetize your blog with ads (Google AdSense, Ezoic), affiliate marketing (FlexOffers, Amazon Associates), and with your own course (LearnDash, Teachable)
  7. Grow your blog by learning how to do SEO for your website and on social media.

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The Income Zap is a place where you can get honest information about earning money online, from the first hand account of yours truly, Patrick.

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