You've probably wanted to start a blog or website for a while now, but you weren't sure where to start, right? Maybe you thought to yourself, “I'll just start a blog on one of the free platforms to save a few buck.” To this I say–AHHHH!!!! DON'T DO IT!
Here's the deal. If you are interested in creating a blog that you can one day earn side income from or even turn into a full-time business, then you absolutely should continue reading this post and learn what I believe are the 3 critical steps to starting a blog you can eventually monetize.
Step #1: Pay for a self-hosted website instead of trying to start a blog on a “free” platform
The free blogging platforms, while convenient, will present problems in the future when you are ready to monetize it. This is partly because having a blog on a “free” platform is often considered less professional than self-hosting your own blog. Some advertising networks and affiliate programs will not even look your way if you do not own a self-hosted website.
My suggestion is to create a WordPress website using a web hosting company called SiteGround. I recently switched to SiteGround from a different hosting provider due to quality issues and a server problem that kept my site down for 5 days. Ironically, I had been considering a move to SiteGround even before this because of all the good things I was hearing about their service from other bloggers across the industry. You can always stick to standard WordPress hosting but depending on who you ask, it can be a little restrictive.
In a nutshell, SiteGround offers one of the most reliable and speedy hosting solutions in the industry. Although I am new to the service, I can already vouch for their supreme customer service in helping me to migrate my website to their platform and walking me step by step through the process both via online messenger and live chat.
Click here and follow this step-by-step guide to start your blog on SiteGround for as little as $3.95 per month–amazing price, right?
The truth is that there are many web hosting companies out there. SiteGround is considered to be one of the best and is a great place for new bloggers to get started.
Step #2: Choose a reliable WordPress theme
I'm not even going to beat around the bush here people. I use The Genesis Framework and it's what I'm recommending you use too.
When I first started blogging in 2014, I was utterly lost when it came to choosing a theme for my blog. First of all, I had no clue that not all WordPress themes were created equal. I didn't realize that just because a theme looked ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS in the demo version, that hidden pieces of broken HTML code and unresponsive theme developers could make your blog GO UGLY real fast!
Before I found The Genesis Framework and the many reliable theme options available for this framework, I racked up hundreds of dollars worth of website theme purchases that simply never worked out. (Here is a detailed post about why I use The Genesis Framework and why you should too.) It was both costly and frustrating. But lesson learned.
Currently, I'm using the Magazine Theme from StudioPress. But I'm also a big fan of Genesis Child Themes from Restored 316 Designs as well as themes from Pretty Darn Cute Designs. The themes from all of these businesses are beautiful and their services are reliable.
Step #3: Add opt-in boxes to start growing your email list right away
After you've set-up reliable hosting and installed a reliable theme on your website, the last crucial component to set up a blog you can monetize is to utilize a method for capturing the emails of your website readers and turning them into subscribers.
Communicating with your audience via email will become an integral part of your blog strategy. While you may write tons and tons of amazing blog posts that you publish to your blog, most people will not be checking your blog from day to day to see “what's new”.
You're going to want to ask them for their email address so that you can keep in touch and keep them updated when your most current content becomes available. Down the road, your email list will provide a platform to help people get to know, like and trust you enough that they want to purchase your products and services.
I started off using MailChimp as a means to capture the email addresses of my readers and communicate with them. It's a free option that's not a bad choice.
Now, however, I use an amazing tool called ConvertKit which allows me to easily add opt-in boxes directly to my website to request the email addresses of my readers, and even allows me to automatically send them a free gift like a printable planner or workbook.
You can check out this free training ConvertKit offers.
Whether it's MailChimp, ConvertKit, or some other email marketing platform, the most important part is that you use some reliable method of building your email list right away–it will be super helpful as you start to monetize.
So, there you have it! If you are serious about starting a blog you can monetize, the 3 critical steps you should follow are:
1) Choosing a reliable hosting platform – I recommend SiteGround
3) Adding a method of building an email list to your website – I recommend using ConvertKit
As always, if you have any questions while setting up your blog or need recommendations for website themes, don't hesitate to email me. I'm here to help. Good luck!