If you want to start a successful and profitable blog and not treat your blog like your hobby, then you come to the right place!
In this post, I will share how I made my blog profitable and created a sustainable passive income for myself apart from my busy corporate career.
Okay, so let’s dive in!
Why you should start blogging NOW
My blog started all as a hobby.
I moved to Amsterdam as an Expat and no family and close friends around me, but I have enjoyed my time here and explored all the good places in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Then, I started sharing my stories and good places to go in Amsterdam and as times went by, people noticed my blog.
Afterwards, I realized that I could actually make money via blogging!
You can make money from blogging!
Yes, that is possible! After I started monetize my blog, I quickly made $100, then $200 and now even more!
I used my free time to explore the goods places and write about them on my blog. Then I took the right tactics to make money! Isn’t that great?
The best part about making money via blogging
If you are thinking: she’s writing blogs only for making money. Then you are TOTALLY WRONG!
I enjoy traveling and exploring nice places around the world and it is fantastic if I can make money from my hobby! In addition, I do not have to trade my time for money!
In blogging, once you create your income stream online, you do not have to trade your time for money. Often, I wake up checking emails and realize that I earn some money while I sleep, isn’t that great?
If you also want to make money when you sleep and do not mind writing blogs, now is your chance to start your blog now!
You should start a blog if:
- You want to create your personal brand: like if you are in design or in other fields where you want to build your personal brand to help your career
- Start your own business empire: blog is a good start for your business! With only less than $3 a month, you can start blogging! In addition, the sky is the limit! You can reach A LOT of people!
- You want to sell products: if you want to create your own eBooks and online courses to share your thoughts and skills, your blog is definitely the best place to promote them. It is a good way to build your own audience and get your subscribers by starting a blog. Afterwards, you only need to nurture your subscribers in order to sell the products! If you have your own products and blog, you get to maximize your profit since you do not need the support from the third parties! (Third parties will ask for high commission!)
Please note: This page contains affiliate links meaning I earn a commission if you use those links. I only recommend brands I use and trust. See my disclosure page here.
Step by Step Guide to start your blog!
Now, I am super excited to share my exclusive tips for starting your blog! Are you ready? Yes, let’s do it!
Step 1: Pick your Niche
If you want to build a successful and profitable blog, a niche blog is highly recommended! With a focus on certain topics, it is much easier for the audience to remember who you are and also easier to build the trust with the audience.
Important things to know when you pick your niche:
- Make sure you can reach your target audience online, if not, you blog will not be successful for sure!
- Most profitable niche are: marketing, travel, beauty and finance. However, they are also very competitive!
- Follow your heart and choose the topic that you love and you can write about the topics for years! Also, it is always a good idea to choose the niche that you are already good at, like your skills from work and etc.
- If you are serious about making money via blogging, first check what products you can promote via affiliate marketing.
In this post, I will teach you how to build your own blog by using WordPress.org.
You are probably wondering why we should use wordpress.org, not free blog providers like Blogger or choose Squarespace or wordpress.com.
If you use free blog providers like Blogger, you do not have the full control over your blog and in the future, if you start displaying ads on your blog, your ad income would be much less than you start the blog yourself, since the free blog provider Google would get some money from your ad income. Therefore, highly recommend you not to use Blogger or any other free blog service platform.
Top 5 reasons to use WordPress.org to start your blog:
- Many big companies, like Techcrunch, The New Yorker and etc, use wordpress to start their website.
- You have tons of free and great plugins to choose from! Plugins are like the app form your smartphone, but it is named Plugins for websites/blogs. Since many people use WordPress.org, it is easy to customize your WordPress site by using plugins. Many of the plugins are free! If you use Squarespace, you do not have that many options now. If you use Blogger, you cannot even use them.
- If you have problem with your site, you can easily get help via Facebook Group since many people are using WordPress.
- WordPress is easy to handle, especially for people who does not have IT background. There are many free themes for you to get a professional website. Like me, I have no IT background, but I still use WordPress.org to build my blog.
- If you want to monetize your blog with affiliate marketing, you should definitely use WordPress.org because some affiliate networks are only available if you build the blog yourself.
Step 2: Pick a domain name
After deciding what your niche is, you need to pick your domain name.
If you would like to have a personal brand or do not mind to use your real name, just do it! It is the best option to use your real name for your blog. This way, you have a lot flexibility about what you want to write in the future.
Let’s say if I have a blog named “Amsterdam Travel”, then it only makes sense if I write about Amsterdam or the Netherlands. It does not make sense if I write posts related to Personal Growth or Finance. I hope you understand my point here.
If you would like to have a niche site, it is perfect, but make sure you niche down, but please have your blog name broad enough so it allows you to pivot if necessary.
Once you decide your blog name, please go here to check if your domain name is still available.
Important things to know when you pick a domain name:
- .com is always better than any other domain since it is easy to remember
- Niche down but not too narrow, your blog name should be wide enough so it allows you to pivot if necessary.
- If you run a niche site, please make sure your blog name is related to your niche
- Blog name should be short and easy for the audience to remember
- Have a story for your blog name
Step 3: Which hosting service should I use?
Every website or blog needs a hosting service, so people can access the blog/website.
What is domain name? what is web host?
You can see your blog as a house, and the land is like the web host. You need the land, so you can build your house. What about domain? Domain is like the address of your house. Anyone can visit you only when they know your address, right?
Which hosting service?
I personally recommend HostGator!
Their price is very affordable, less than $3 per month. In addition, they have great support and service, here is the list of what you will get:
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Free domain registration for 1st year
- Free SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Lock
- 45 refund policy
- Best hosting service to start a blog!
- Easy to manage their service!
There are some web hosting companies offer first year for free to their new members. However, the price for the second year turns out expensive and in the end, you do not get that of a big discount!
Web hosting companies tend to offer a big discount to their new members, same does HostGator, so highly recommend you to sign up for at least 3 years in order to get the best offer!
Give Away if you..
If you’ve decided to use HostGator via my affiliate link, I will give you my most popular Pinterest Templates and the list of Pinterest Group Boards to join as a way to thank you for the support. Just drop me an email: email@example.com with your order confirmation!
Step 3-1 Which hosting plan to choose?
HostGator has 3 different kinds of plan for you to choose from, if you just start the blog, I would recommend you start with Hatchling Plan, but if you plan to have more than 1 blog, then pick Baby Plan, so it won’t slow down your site speed!
Step 3-2 Register a New Domain
If you have not registered any Domain yet, just fill out your ideal domain name and see if it is still available. If you already have a Domain then, please choose the tab “I Already Own This Domain”.
Let’s say you are totally new and have no domain yet. Please fill in your ideal domain name below:
After you fill in your ideal domain name, you will know if your preferred domain is available or not. If not, you need to pick a new domain to register. If yes, congratulations! You can move on to the next step!
Step 3-3 Choose a Hosting Plan
This step, you need to:
- Confirm your hosting plan: highly recommend you have 36 months since you get the biggest discount if you just joined HostGator!
- Setup your username and password at HostGator: always remember them! You need it for any support from HostGator or install WordPress in the next step.
Step 3-4 Fill in your personal and billing information
Step 3-5 Add additional service
You can skip this part, your blog will survive if you do not add any additional service. If you want you blog to be well protected and have auto daily backup, you can buy:
- Protect your site from hackers with help from SiteLock
- Backup Your Hard Work.
But, like I said earlier, you will be fine if you do not add any additional service!
Step 3-6 Click to pay!
Once you’ve confirmed everything is correct, just click “check out now”!
Step 4: Install WordPress
Once you have paid for the web hosting plan, you are now ready to move on to the next step: install WordPress!
In this step, we need to log into Hostgator. You will find the login button on their Homepage.
Once you log in to Hostgator, Head over to “Marketplace” and hit “Quick Install”.
Now, you are at One-Click Installs page. Please click on “WordPress”.
Afterwards, you choose the domain that you would like to install WordPress and setup the user name and password.
Step 5: Log in to your blog
Once the installation is done, you are ready to log into your WordPress dashboard for your blog!
How to log in?
You can simply type like below in the search bar:
Your website doamin/WP-ADMIN/
Like for my blog, my WordPress log in page would be: underdutchsky.com/wp-admin/
Step 6: Install blog themes
WordPress already installed the theme for you, but most likely you would like to choose your own theme!
Head over to “Appearance”, then choose “Themes”.
Once you move to “Themes” page, please click on “add new ” button on top of the page.
You will find A LOT of these to choose from. They all have free plans, but if you want to have more features from each themes, then you need to pay.
Free themes or Paid Themes?
Many people ask me: Is it worth it to buy themes for your blog? I can totally understand since I had the same question when I started my blog.
- Paid theme is mobile friendly and more secured since it’s updated regularly.
- Looks more professional if you want to have a nice and beautiful blog.
- Easier to beautiful layout on your blog. Before I paid for themes, I was wondering a thousand times how other bloggers have such a nice and user friendly blog
Of course, it is NOT a must to have paid theme.
I started with a free theme and once I got some income via my blog, I bought a paid theme. However, I need to use extra time to change the layout and wording for all my posts and that really takes a lot of time. If I could choose again, I would just buy the paid themes.
My personal recommendation for paid themes
- Authority Pro: provided by Studio Press. I use Authority Pro for Under Dutch Sky blog and it’s really easy to use and offer nice layout. Most importantly, it is very user friendly on mobile device. That is very important for any blogs.
- Envato: another company like Studio Press. They offer a variety of blog themes !
Step 7: Install Necessary Plug-Ins
In order to have additional features and functionality to your WordPress blog, we need to install Plug-Ins. The same logic for install apps on your smartphone!
Below are the most recommended plug-ins for bloggers in any niche:
- Akismet Anti-Spam: checks if the comments and contact form submissions on your blog are spam.
- Easy Table of Content: makes your content in order and help to you get traffic from search engine.
- Monster Insights: once you installed it, you get Google Analytics data from your blog. With Google Analytics, you know information like, your monthly page views, where the visitors are located and how people get to your blog.
- Pin It Button On Image Hover And Post:make it easy for visitors to share your content on Pinterest
- WP Last Modified Info: search engine, like Google, likes to have posts that are regularly updated.
Step 8: Create Site Pages
Finally, you’ve setup everything for your blog, now let’s move on to create site pages!
For every blog, you need to have some important pages, so the readers have the chance to know you, like you and understand you. Here you will below pages:
- About page: tell people who you are, why you created the blog and what you are passionate about. Share some personal story, so people know more about you.
- Contact page: the place where you welcome visitors to contact you, either from your readers or from people who are interested to cooperate with you.
- Disclosure and Privacy page: important for any blogs!
Step 9: Create content for your blog
Now, we can finally start writing!
Before you start writing…
If you want to take your blog seriously, I suggest you list down the topics you want to write about. This way, you have a strategy in writing your content, not just write whatever you think is good.
If you have a niche blog, make sure you plan what to write in the coming month before you start writing. When your mind is more structured, your blog content is also more structured.
How many posts should I write?
This is the most asked questions from new bloggers!
I would recommend to have at least 5-8 drafts before you start promoting your blog. Why? It is easier to building your audience. The visitors have a better understanding about what the blog is about and you have more posts from your blog to your readers.
Step 10: Promote your blog
Once you’ve created 5-8 posts, you can start promoting your blog!
How to promote your blog if you just started blogging?
Golden Formula = Pinterest + Tailwind!
For a newly established blog, it is more difficult to get traffic from search engine. I highly recommend you use Pinterest to drive traffic.
When I just started my blog in English, I barely had any traffic. With Pinterest, I got 300 visitors in my first month! Highly recommend you to use Tailwind, so you can join tribes and people will share your pins, so your pins will get viral! More people will see your Pins!
Since Pinterest is so important for new bloggers, here I offer Pinterest Template for free to my readers. Just sign up to get FREE Pinterest templates!
Tailwind Free Trial
If you have never used Tailwind, please sign up today with this link! You will get 1 month free trial!
Step 11: Monetize from your blog
Here comes the important part: how to monetize your blog!
Main income from bloggers:
- Display Ads: the easiest way to drive income from your blog. If you allow Ad Display on your blog, you will get Ad Income! You do not need to do anything, but write your content and drive traffic to your blog. You can start with Google Adsense, but the income is not much! Once you get more than 10,000 page views per month, you can join Ad Network, like Ezoic, you income will be much more.
- Sponsored post: companies need people to promote their products. You will get the chance to promote them once you build up your audience.
- Affiliate Marketing: Promote someone else’s products with an affiliate link. Once people buy the products/service via your affiliate link, you get the commission.
- Sell your own products: promote them on your blog, when people visit your site, you get the chance to sell!
- Freelance work/consulting service: If you have skills in certain area, you can promote them on your blog. Blog is like your portfolio, where you get to present your work online.
Affiliate marketing is my main income from the blog. I have a corporate job and do not want to trade time for money.
With affiliate marketing, I still get money while I sleep because people from other time zone buy products/service via my affiliate link. If you would like to use the same way to generate income, you can join below affiliate marketing network:
- Share A Sale
- CJ Affiliate
- and many more…please google them!
There are many affiliate marketing platform, but I only mention a few here. Choose the affiliate programs that fit your niche the best! In addition, only promote the affiliate product you trust and you use!
If you would like to know more about how to get the best result from Affiliate Marketing, I highly recommend this course. The price is fair and has all the information you need!
With the above steps, I am sure you will have a good start to make money from your blog!