Over the past few months, I’ve received a lot of emails from readers asking me for pointers on how to start their own blogs. It seems like everyone has the “blogging itch” these days, and that’s a good thing if you truly have something worthwhile to share with the world, then starting your own website is a great way to do just that.
Blogging has allowed me to quit my job at the local hardware store where I worked and to earn a full-time living without having a regular job. I have no boss, I work the hours that I want and best of all I earn a great income doing it.
How can you do the same? Well read on and I’ll do my best to teach you what I’ve learned about starting and running a WordPress blog along with links to the tools that you’ll need to get started…
It Won’t Happen Overnight
Just about anyone can set up a blog site in under ten minutes – that’s the easy part. You can register a domain and set up hosting with only a few clicks, and you have a blog. But it takes time, lots and lots of time to write content and build a readership. You’ll spend hours writing, and posting articles that no one will be reading or commenting on. You’ll feel like you’re writing to yourself and really at this point you are.
I was stuck at that point for two years, but I just kept on punching at the keyboard and posting my thoughts and what I knew about prepping. I thought about giving up several times, but I wanted to help people get prepared. My goal was and still is to share the knowledge that can save lives. I don’t take this lightly, and consider myself blessed that I’ve been able to help so many people over the years.
You have to really care about the topic you’re writing about and have a dedication to doing everything that you can to help others, because if you don’t then you’ll give up before you ever reach a large audience. If your main goal is to make money, then you are going to be disappointed, especially for the first few years, and even then you probably won’t make a lot.
This blog now earns me a decent living wage, but during the first few years, I made essentially nothing. Even after a year of consistent blogging, I signed up for the Amazon.com affiliate program and for more than two years my earning from that were under $20 per month, now my earning from Amazon.com amount to several hundred dollars each month.
The good news for you is that I’m going to share everything that I know about blogging here with you for free so that if you decide to start a blog of your own you won’t be starting out totally blind like I did. You will start out knowing what took me years to learn.
So to recap… you must really want to help people, if it’s only about making money then you’ll probably fail. And it takes time… Lots of time to build an audience, it also takes a lot of work.
Sure you could be like a group of internet marketers that I recently became aware of, that are now in the “prepper niche” with their only motivation to make a quick buck… They spend big money on advertising with Facebook ads and Google AdWords to drive traffic to their blog, where they then get those people to sign-up for their “newsletter” and then they pound their email list with email after email (usually one or two per day) trying to sell their subscribers “survival gear” that is really nothing more than useless china made junk.
These marketers aren’t even preppers and are just trying to make a quick buck off of people who are looking for help and answers. Without spending massive amounts on advertising to get traffic to their site they would quickly fade away because they have no real readership (they get no comments or very few which is proof of no real readership base).
For long-term success, you have to be dedicated to your topic, love your topic and have a real desire to help others and to share your knowledge with them.
Choosing a Topic
Let’s face it blogging about prepping is an overcrowded niche, by simply doing a google search it would seem that there are as many blogs about prepping as there are preppers. My advice is that if you must start yet another prepper type blog, that you narrow your topic down to a specific segment of prepping.
For example, a site solely dedicated to cooking and using long-term storage foods, or what about a site about survival rifles and related gear, survival handguns, and related gear, or maybe survival gardening, hardening and defending your home/retreat, survival book reviews, etc…
Narrow your topic and make it specific and you’ll be able to get more readers who are looking for information on a narrow topic that’s related to a larger niche. To be honest you would probably be better off if you avoided the prepper/survival niche altogether, not just because it’s an over-crowded area but mainly because the potential audience is small when compared to other subjects.
One topic I’ve noticed that is doing very well that has a huge potential audience is what’s been dubbed the “mommy blog” where every woman with a child is a potential reader. The best subject is the one that you know the most about, or are very interested in and can learn about and then share what you’ve learned.
The big three topics are dating and relationships, health and wellness, and money and finance. These are the mega niches and the ones with the most potential to be successful and to earn you a good living working from home.
My Most Recommended Resources for Running a Blog
If you’re going to start a blog then you need a good operating platform, this blog uses WordPress as does just about every other successful blog and website, and there is a reason for that, and that is that it works, and has lots of plugins and support. And to make matters even easier most hosting providers have a “one-click” WordPress install when you sign-up for hosting – just one click and you’re ready to start blogging.
Aside from using WordPress for your blog the hosting that you choose is one of the most important considerations when starting a blog. From my personal experience, Bluehost offers the best prices and customer service.
Bluehost also offers a simple an easy one-click WordPress install so anyone can set up their own blog without any technical know-how. Just click and you’re up and running with your very own blog.
And if you need help then the folks at Bluehost are there for you, I’ve never had to wait on support for longer than three minutes and they have always answered any questions and fixed any problems that I’ve had quickly.
Bluehost plans start as low as $3.99 per month for shared hosting or $19.99 per month for their Optimized WordPress Hosting. And as your blog grows and you need more “horsepower” it’s simple to upgrade to VPS or Dedicated Hosting as we use here at Making Sense of Manliness.
Bluehost also offers domain registration, so you can set up your domain and hosting all in one place.
You can find thousands of free WordPress themes via your WordPress dashboard once you have your blog set up – just hover your mouse over the “appearance” tab, then click on themes and choose the one that best fits your needs.
Having site backups is a good idea and insurance policy, that will allow you to restore your WordPress site to an earlier version if the unthinkable happens like you mess up your WordPress code or are hacked. Whatever you do – always backup your site. VaultPress and Backup Buddy are two options.
Most new site owners don’t think too much about security, that is until they are hacked or infected with spyware or a virus that can then also infect anyone visiting their sites. Years ago when I first started this site it was attacked and hacked and the site was closed down for several days before I could regain control of it.
After that I signed up with Sucuri Security, and could not be happier with their service, they offer a plugin, scanner, and firewall to keep the bad guys out and let the good guys in (your readers), and if something ever does get past the firewall, their alerts will let you know, and…. wait for it… they will go to your site and clean it up for you at no extra charge!
This is one step that you do not want to skip – go to Sucuri Security and sign-up for expert WordPress protection as soon as you start your own WordPress Blog.
It may come as a shock to some, but most people who visit a website for the first time will never return no matter how good the content is!
To keep them as readers who come back to your site week after week, you have to get them to join your mailing list. Without a mailing list, your site will not be nearly as successful, you must start a mailing list from day one. Don’t put it off, or think you’ll wait until you get more traffic, you want to do it now.
There are a number of options available for this but the one I use and trust for this site is MailerLite – it’s easy to set up, works great with WordPress and the customer support is top-notch. Once you have your hosting and your blog set up then go sign-up with Feedblitz and start building your reader base via your mailing list.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
There are several free WordPress Plugins that you can use to set SEO for your site that will help you to drive search traffic – I suggest either Yoast SEO or the All In One SEO Pack, both are very good with the edge going to Yoast SEO.
How Blogs Make Money
Directly renting advertising space on a site is one-way blog owners can make money from their blog and another related way is through advertising networks like Google Adsense. With Google Adsense, you place code from them on your site and then the advertising network serves up advertising from advertisers in their network and then they pay you a few cents each time someone clicks on one of their advertisements while on your site.
The downside is that you have to have a lot of traffic before companies will pay you to advertise their company and or products on your site.
Think about it, would you pay a blog owner to put up a banner, link or other advertisements for your company or product on a blog if that blogsite had little or no traffic? No, of course, you wouldn’t because you would lose money.
You’ll need at least 30,000 page views per day to attract advertisers who will pay you enough to make a living from renting advertising space on your blog.
As for Google Adsense, it’s a complete waste of time unless you have huge traffic numbers.
You’ll need 50,000 or more page views per day to earn anything resembling a livable income from Google Adsense or other PPC ad networks and then it most likely will be well under $500 a week.
So to recap… forget about renting advertising space on your site until you’re well established and pulling in 50,000 or more page views per day. And if you’re pulling in traffic numbers like that then there are far better ways to earn money from your site.
Another way that blogs earn money is through affiliate sells. This is where blog owners sign-up with affiliate networks such as Advantlink, or Commission Junction or directly with companies and then recommend that companies products to their readers and when those readers click the affiliate link to that company or product and buy the product then the blog owner gets a commission from the sale.
This works really well if you have a lot of interested readers, however, products that you place affiliate links on your blog for should be directly related to your blog niche and useful to your reader. You don’t want to be linking out to anything and everything in hopes of making a sale and getting a commission.
Another huge no-no is recommending products that you do not personally own and use. As a blog owner, your first priority is to help your reader. That is number one. Don’t forget it and live by it always. Only recommend products that you have experience with and know to be of the best possible quality.
If you would not recommend the product to a loved one then don’t recommend it to your blog readers. Just don’t do it! Your readers trust you… don’t break that trust.
For example, on my recommendations page for this site “My Favorite Prepper Supplies, Gear, and Tools” I own and use everything on that page.
I have tested each product and I still use it on my own homestead and in my preps and I know that each item on that page is of good quality and that if a reader decides to purchase anything on that page that they will be getting a good product that they can actually use.
If you want to learn how to really make money through affiliate marketing there are a number of courses available, however, this one is the best affiliate marketing course that I’ve ever taken and the only one that you’ll need because it covers EVERYTHING.
Another way that bloggers make money with their sites is by developing and selling their own products and or services. This can include eBooks, traditional paperback books, training courses, paid member areas, private one-on-one coaching, etc.
The best and most profitable for most bloggers will be writing and selling their own downloadable ebooks and courses. Ebooks can sell for $49 each or even more and many online training courses sell for $199 or more.
How Much Can You Make
Do the math… if just 50 people per month sign-up for your course at $199 each that’s $9,950 a month or $119,400 per year!
Even selling an e-book at $49 each to 50 people per month would earn you a cool $2,499.50 per month or $35,000 per year.
And making all this even better is the fact that once you write your e-book or set up your training course than it’s mostly passive income from that point on.
You can be sleeping and make money, you can be on vacation and still be making money because once it’s all set up and going it works even without you being there.
You’ll need a domain and hosting…
I suggest Bluehost for both. Click here to go to Bluehost and register your domain.
Next, you’ll need to start your email list…
I suggest Feedblitz for this. Click here to go to Feedblitz and set up your email list.
Well, there you have it the basics of what you need to know to start your own successful blog or website. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comment below…