How To Start a Blog and Make Money Online – in 10 Easy Steps

Are you curious about how to make money online? Think that starting a blog is the way to go?

Great! Starting a blog can be a solid way to make long-term income – just for doing some writing on stuff you actually like and care about. But there’s a little more to it than that AND it may not be for everyone. This is not a get rich quick or plug and play business. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is not the place for you.

Yes, you can make a lot of money online but, like other traditional businesses, it’s not guaranteed. Anyone who tells you otherwise, is not being truthful.

Our goal is to help people who are really serious about building a real online business – because you can make a little, or a lot of money. That all depends on you…

Here’s the big difference between making money online and going to a job every day. If you do it right, the work you do today, this week, and this year – will continue making money for years to come. It’s an investment rather than trading your time for money.

So how does this work? Search engines find and cache the articles that you write, and over time each post is “worth more” to the search engines. That means you’ll get more web site traffic with every passing month as your site gains credibility. This does not happen overnight. It takes persistence and even some hard work – but you can do it if you’re serious and committed…

We did it (Dan and I both walked away from our corporate jobs and now do this full time), and so can you. The good news is that you get to take advantage of what we’ve learned over the last several years and avoid the sand traps that we had to dig our way out of.

So let’s get started – RIGHT NOW!

Here are 10 EASY steps we’ll take together to help you start a blog and make money online.

Decide to start today

TODAY. No, not tomorrow, not next week, and not next month. Tomorrow always feels “safe” because you’re not having to make a decision. The power of today is that you make that commitment to yourself. And that is the first step to success.

This step is the most critical one, and it’s where most people get stuck. Don’t dream about doing something. Just get up and do it.

“The best way to live the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams Today, in every little way that you possibly can.”  – Mike Dooley, Inspirational Quotes from Today Is That Day

Step #1 – Choose the right niche – What your blog is about…

Choosing the right niche for your blog is perhaps the most important choice you can make BEFORE you actually start writing. Choose the wrong niche, and it’s very unlikely you’ll ever succeed.

Some questions to help you choose the right niche

  • The most important question you have to ask yourself is this: What are you passionate about?
    It’ll be very hard for you to write regularly and authoritatively and be a go-to industry expert on a topic you don’t really care about. Passion tends to make the difference between amazing success and quiet failure.
  • Do you intend to make money with this blog? Would you like it to be your primary income source?
    This makes a big difference. If so, you’ll have to choose a nice that is not overly crowded. Regardless of the crowding, you’ll need to research your niche thoroughly and develop your own value proposition.

Research your niche and learn the landscape

Find the popular websites in your niche, study them closely, and visit them regularly.

Get to know the authors and regular contributors. Comment on their posts regularly so they can get to know you too.

Find the right keywords to target with your blog

Once you choose your niche, it’s crucial to find the right keywords to target. This is a delicate balance between finding keywords that get enough search traffic and keywords that don’t have too much competition.

Don’t wait until your site starts getting popular to figure out which keywords to target, or you’ll waste a lot of time and effort and end up starting from scratch.

While you can do a lot of research the manual, old-fashioned, and time-consuming way, we recommend you use a keyword research tool to find your keywords quickly and accurately.

For more details on choosing your niche, check out “How to Start a Blog – Step 1: Pick Your Niche”.

Step #2 – Get a web hosting account

Your host should be reliable, responsive if you have questions, and inexpensive. $7 per month is reasonable for a reliable host; less than that and the service tends to go down a lot.

Many people try to save those few dollars and start a blog with a free platform like Blogger.com. But we strongly advise against it. It’s virtually impossible to get free search engine traffic to those free blogs, and support is completely nonexistent. Oh, and if your blog disappears overnight (as we had happen once on Blogger.com), there’s nobody to call and ask for help. Your work is all lost. You’ll also have a hard time moving away when your blog takes off. And you’ll lose all the search engine value that you’ve built up.

Take this seriously and go with a proper web host that actually has competent support people available to help you. Spending $7/month for a proper web host will also help you realize that you’re serious about your goal.

We highly recommend HostGator when your just getting started.

HostGator is great because it JUST WORKS, they offer a lot of great features, and (unlike most other quality web hosts) you can sign up for an inexpensive monthly plan, and pay month by month. Most of the other guys advertise a really cheap rate, but you only get that if you pay 1-3 years up front.

The fact Hostgator’s email support team replies to my issues in literally minutes is awesome, but that’s not the only reason we recommend HostGator. Check out all of the reasons we love them in our web hosting review of HostGator, and then go set up your own account with them today.

Are there other good web hosts? Sure, but HostGator is the only web host that we recommend to our own friends and family when they ask…

If you’re just starting out – or you’re looking to keep your costs as low as possible while working with a solid, reliable web host, do yourself a favor and get started with HostGator.

Don’t forget to check out our web hosting review of HostGator, and give it a try yourself; we’re glad we did.

Tip: Don’t forget to use Coupon Code BLOGSUCCESS when you sign up with HostGator – and your 1st month is just $0.01! That means you can start a blog today for just $0.01. Now you’ve really got no excuse to delay, so take a few minutes and do it before you get busy and forget!

For more information on web hosting, read “How to Start a Blog – Step 2: Get a Web Hosting Account for your Blog”.

Step #3 – Install WordPress

After you choose a reliable web host, you’re ready to install your blogging software. The most flexible choice available today is WordPress. It’s also free, and easy to set up and maintain.

Yes, this is a little more involved than setting up a free account somewhere, but it’ll be well worth the effort when you get more web site traffic in a month then you would have gotten in a year on a Blogger.com.

For more information and step by step details on how to install WordPress, check out “How to Start a Blog – Step 3: Install WordPress to Run your Blog”.

Step #4 – Make a great first impression with a great theme

First impressions always matter. On the web, that’s even more important. A web visitor’s first impression about your site determines if he clicks away in the first 5 seconds, if he stays on to read what you have to say, and if he will ever come back again.

So it’s very important to put your best foot forward. Make your site interesting, distinctive, and engaging to your readers by using a great “theme”. WordPress themes are basically website designs that you can just download and enable for your WordPress account.

Start with a free theme and when you have the resources, consider having a custom theme made to enhance your brand even further.

For more information and how to find great free themes for your blog, make sure to read “How to Start a Blog – Step 4: Make a Great First Impression with a Great Theme for your Blog”

Step #5 – Configure WordPress and its plugins to get the most search engine traffic

What good is a blog if nobody is visiting? One of the great advantages of WordPress is the vast array of options to make your blog very yummy to the search engines. This is all about understanding what Google wants and giving it to them in the way they want it. Simple.

The most powerful SEO trick of all: “work with Google to give them what they want instead of trying to trick them”.

For our list of must have plugins and brain-dead simple SEO tips, check out “How to Start a Blog – Step 5: Install These WordPress Plugins to Get the Most Search Engine Traffic”

Step #6 – Make your blog welcoming and engaging to every reader

To make your visitors stick around and come back for more – day after day – use the power of WordPress and make your blog fun, engaging, and interactive.

Use polls to get readers involved and ask their opinion. Feature the latest posts and comments. Show off your most popular articles. Get readers truly involved by getting them to comment on your posts.

To discover a few simple ways to get your readers coming back, again and again, check out “How to Start a Blog – Step 6: Engage Your Readers”

Step #7 – Write your first post

OK, at this point you’ve chosen THE best niche for you, you’ve become very familiar with that niche and it’s most popular sites, and you’re basically what could be considered an “authority” on your topic.

So now is the time for that all important first post

Off the top of your head, make a quick list of all the issues in your niche that people care about. What problems do they have, what questions do they have? What keeps them up at night?

Now pick ANY one of these and write a quick article on it. This “article” can be just a simple Top 10 list, with a supporting sentence of two for each bullet. That’s it!

Get feedback

Get this first article out there and see what people think. Email it to your family and friends, and ask them to help you make it better.

All the planning in the world is no substitute for Action. It’s time to go forth and do those good and powerful things.

For detailed steps on how to get started writing great content, read “How to Start a Blog – Step 7: Write your First Post”.

Step #8 – Set up your RSS feed

Not long ago, RSS was the domain of the super-geeky. But today, millions of mainstream internet users are subscribing to RSS vibes every day.

Get set up with full-blown RSS support by setting up a free account with FeedBurner. They’ll pull a feed from your blog, make it pretty so everyone can actually read it, and they’ll even give you accurate stats on your readers. Yes, it is nice to know if anyone is actually subscribed to your feed.

WordPress also has a simple plugin that you can enable to support your shiny new FeedBurner RSS feed service.

For more information on RSS, check out “How to Start a Blog – Step 8: Set up Your RSS Feed“.

Step #9 – Register your new blog with the top directories

Once you have a few posts out there, it’s time to start getting the word out. Search engines want to see links coming back to your site. Those links show that people other than just you consider your site to be important.

Well, at first you have no links. So you have to start somewhere. One of the best places to start is the endless list of web site directories and now blog directories which are just begging to give you a free link.

Here are a few to get you started: BlogCatalogDMOZ and the Yahoo Directory. DMOZ and Yahoo Directory are very important, but your submission to them is considered just a “suggestion”, and you may never hear back or get included.

Blog Catalog has turned into a social community of bloggers, which makes it significantly more valuable than a regular blog directory, largely because of the relationships you can forge there.

For more information on blog directories, read “How to Start a Blog – Step 9: Register your Blog with Every Top Website and Blog Directory”.

Step #10 – Promote! Social Media, Internet Press Releases, Article Marketing, and more

If you don’t tell people about your new site, they’ll never know about it! Stop hoping someone will accidentally stumble upon your site. Take matters into your own hands and get the word out there!

It’s never been this easy to promote a brand new site, and to explosively grow your traffic and readership.

Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, and more

Did you just publish a great article on your site? Let people know! Social media is a great way to share your stories with others who WANT to know about it.

Share your great article on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and StumbleUpon. But tread with caution. Don’t “spam” these sites with everything you write.

To be truly successful, it’s VERY important to follow the rules and participate in these communities.

There are even some great tools like to automate the process and submit your stories to tens of social media sites! This means you save countless hours AND actually get your story out to dozens of sites instead of just one. But again, you can’t just spam these communities, it’s crucial to build a presence and participate as a real person.

Article Marketing – Establish yourself as an expert by publishing your articles

Time to get more visibility for your hard work. Article directories take your articles and provide them to the countless webmasters and eZine publishers that need what you have: good, useful, and informative content.

You’ve already spent the time and written excellent articles… Now it’s time to publish those articles on the top 10 article directories and get lots more readers coming to your website.

For more information on the best ways to promote your blog, check out “How to Start a Blog – Step 10: Promote! Social Media, Internet Press Releases, Article Marketing”.

Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, just do it and correct course along the way.” – Tim Ferriss, Inspirational Quotes from Today Is That Day

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