Finance blog MoneyCrashers Co-Owner Andrew Schrage had a clear reason to start blogging and a solid foundation in his chosen topic: He studied economics and wanted to help others. A blog would be an ideal way to achieve his goal of educating people on money matters. “I could reach a larger audience than by just writing a book or starting a consulting business,” he told our team.
Despite his initial enthusiasm, Andrew discovered blogging success doesn’t come overnight. His blog, which helps people develop “financial fitness,” was slow to gain traction. With time and the right approach, though, MoneyCrashers eventually took off. “Starting an online business does require a lot of patience before any sort of significant money starts to roll in,” Andrew says.
Andrew’s experience reflects that of many bloggers – even the most successful ones. For most people who want to start a blog, the eventual goal is to get regular readers and grow a cash flow. Getting there is a matter of dedication and strategy.
How to Start a Blog for Free and Make Money
Are you ready to start a blog, but not sure how to make money doing it? There are certain things you can do from the get-go to set yourself up for eventual profitability. Even if you’re green when it comes to blogging, following these steps can bring you closer to making green in your bank.
Tip 1: Use a Free Blog Host Like Wix
One advantage to blogging as a business is that it doesn’t have to have a lot of up-front investment. Anyone can start a blog for free using a platform like Wix. It’s as simple as entering your signup information. Other free blog software options include WordPress.com, Blogger, and Medium. These platforms are set up for even the novice to be able to quickly start blogging without worrying about the hardware or software behind their web operation.
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Our Expert's Wix Review
As a web builder, Wix is an industry leader when it comes to ease of use, setup time, and available features. The browser-based, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) site-building service is hands down one of the foremost brands in this industry niche, and that's not without just cause.
Getting started and familiar with the platform is a straightforward process, and the resulting websites you can build are in keeping with industry standards, as far as design and customization go. While you're not going to get the same level of support as you would from a leading web hosting service, the feature set available and included in this free service is a pretty exhaustive list. All it takes to sign up — and said signup is free — is an email or a Facebook account.
Once you're in, you can preview thousands of templates, which are all broken up into categories and then further classified by design or industry type. For example, choose the Online Store category with the Clothing & Accessories subcategory to start selling your custom-printed t-shirts. Your garage band can showcase your latest performances and let family and friends know of upcoming shows by utilizing the Music and Band categories. You can browse the most popular templates and check out the newest additions.
Once you've made your pick, you may feel a tad overwhelmed at the interface — but that's only because the functionality exceeds that of your typical drag-and-drop builder. You can manipulate and edit virtually any facet of your new website, until it perfectly matches the picture in your head.
Finally, get your finished creation noticed by search engines (and the millions of web surfers that they send to websites) using the Wix SEO Wizard. Just tell the Wizard the words or phrases you want people to search for and find your site, and Wix will spit back out a full SEO report — so you know where you stand in terms of relevant visitors being sent to your site. Wix premium plan customers can also benefit from $300-worth of search engine advertising credits, upping the chances of increased site visitors.
Anyone in any field could find themselves wanting a website at some point in their career or personal life. Whether you're a stay-at-home mom with a creative writing habit to share or a serial entrepreneur ready to profit from your next great idea, you don't want building your own website from scratch to be a strain — on your wallet, your time, or your brain. With Wix, you can be your own web designer, developer, and marketer. The interface is easy to use and the end designs are up to snuff with industry standards. When it comes to code-free website building, Wix is a leader and an innovator.collapse info -
Tip 2: Blog What You Know (and Are Passionate About)
If you’re going to commit to writing a blog, you should be in it for the long haul. That means the topics you blog about should be ones you care about and know very well – enough to keep up with for many years to come. Posting regularly, especially when a blog is new, helps develop a continued, loyal readership as well as attract new readers.
“The realm we chose is rather general, which helps, because we can write about anything from the best credit cards to have, ways to save money on monthly bills, how to save for retirement, and a variety of other topics related to personal finance,” Andrew says of MoneyCrashers.com. Make sure you have the drive and knowledge to write continuously and passionately about your chosen topic.
Tip 3: Develop Social Media Skills
When it comes to marketing your blog, social media has the potential to make a big impact. Using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets to promote your posts and complement your blog will diversify and expand your following.
Social media works for gaining new followers but is also a great place to add value for those who are already reading your blog. Using social media for marketing is a bit different than using it for personal communication. There are many free online resources to help you get started, including Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to Social Media and Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing podcast.
Tip 4: Connect with the Blogging Community
A blog is not an island. Many people who start a business may feel like they’re alone in their efforts. However, bloggers are a different bunch who are not only generally good communicators but also value relationships with other bloggers where they can join forces to mutually support one another. Work your network by offering to share content and cross-promote posts with other bloggers in similar and related niches. The blogging community is strong; you may be surprised who is willing to help you out.
Tip 5: Choose an Income Stream (or Several)
Content alone doesn’t make money. A blog needs a stream of income to generate a profit. Income sources on a blog can be sorted into three categories:
- Advertising: money from paid ads and clicks from ads on the blog
- Affiliate earnings: commissions received for referring visitors to certain companies
- Products & services: money from products and services offered by the blogger
Bloggers who make money have at least one of these sources of income embedded in their site, and the biggest earners incorporate all three. Content’s role in making money relates to its ability to bring visitors to the site. The more people who view your content, the more people click on ads and buy products and services marketed on your site.
How Much Money Can You Make Blogging?
The amount of money a blog can make ranges from zero to millions of dollars (which is very rare, but finance blog Smart Passive Income made $1.8 million in 12 months, so it’s possible!). This number depends on a broad spectrum of factors, from blog topic and audience to networking and marketing efforts to sources of income.
Many blogs don’t make any money, but that shouldn’t dissuade you if you’re determined. It’s possible to make a good living with a blog. Many blogs make several hundred to several thousand dollars per month. It’s rare to make more than that, but it’s been done and can be done again.
Check Out The Top Money-Making Blogs to Get Inspired
Andrew is optimistic about the future of blogging. “The opportunities for bloggers should continue to grow over the next few years, provided they can create interesting, creative, and useful content,“ he said. This list includes sites that are some of the top moneymakers in the blogging world, and some who are starting to grow their earnings after small beginnings. Use them as inspiration as you start to plan your own blog.
- Pinch of Yum, a food blog that made about $70,000 in March 2017
- Just a Girl and Her Blog, a lifestyle blog that made more than $30,000 in March 2017
- Neat House Sweet Home, which went from a $176 yearly income to $1,172 in one month
- True Valhalla, a game development blog that made more than $8,000 in March 2017
- Easy Baby Life, a blog about motherhood that made $4,882 in March 2017
- Arts & Classy, a home and DIY blog that made $1,451 in March 2017
As you can see, a variety of content niches hold the potential for blogging prosperity. To move toward making it happen for your own site, you’ll need a blog host, a topic you’re passionate about, and great content. Go forth, blog, and prosper!