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Everyone and their mother has a tutorial on how to start a blog, right? I even wrote a post about the easiest way to start a blog, because I was sick of bloggers overcomplicating everything (and recommending crappy blog hosts just so they can make a buck). You've set your blog up, but now what? How do you go from installing WordPress to getting a paycheck? I'm going to try and help you put it all together in this post.
BEFORE YOU READ THIS POST, take a deep breath. There is a LOT of information. It's okay to bookmark it and come back later, or scan the subheadings to see what interests you the most.
What to do After Starting a Blog
There are so many bloggers that start, then abandon their blogs, because they have no idea what they're doing. I don't want that to be you.
If you ask 100 bloggers what to do after starting a blog, you may get 100 different answers. I'm giving you my suggestions and recommendations, based on years of experience (and lots of trial and error). You can always mix things up, do the blog stuff your own way, etc. This isn't a set-in-stone rule book that you must follow, nothing relate to blogging ever is.
Content is KING. Always remember this. The most important part of blogging is delivering helpful content. Before I start writing a blog post, I make sure it has a purpose. Before I publish it, I make sure it serves its purpose. For this blog post, the purpose is to answer questions I'm asked every single day by folks who have started a blog but don't know what to do next. It's monetized by ads and affiliate links, so I know it will make money and be worth the time I spent writing it. Depending on the type of blogger you are, and what kinds of content you put out, your blog's purpose may be a bit different. At the end of the day, the most important part of blogging (to me) is helping other people.
Choose your topics and stick with them. I'm bad about this but it's great advice LOL so follow it. ;)
ACTION STEP: Write 15 blog posts before doing ANYTHING else, with the exception of setting up social media (we will talk about that in a bit).
How long should my blog posts be?
That's a great question, with no real answer. My blog posts are 1000-3000 (or more) words, and that works for me. Other bloggers may write 300 word posts and that could work for them. My personal philosophy is that if you CAN write 1000 or more words, you should, but it needs to be solid content, NOT FLUFF! I hate fluff! Solid content is the way you will actually make money blogging. When you write longer content, you'll have more chances to make money with your blog posts, too.
When you write longer content posts (like this one, for example) make sure you use subheadings (google/youtube to figure those out if you don't know how) so the content is easy to scan. The last thing you want to do is write long paragraphs that people skip over completely.
What should I write about?
Hopefully you figured out what to write about before you started your blog, because your blog name should reflect your topics if at all possible. With that being said, it's totally normal to run out of blog post ideas eventually. Use my post on how to come up with 101 blog post ideas in under an hour to help you get started with the brainstorming process. If you're stuck on topics rather than blog titles, some profitable topics include: recipes, parenting, travel, and finance. Blog what you're passionate about, and the rest will fall into place.
Some of my most popular posts:
Notice, none of my top posts are related to the topic of “how to blog”, even though teaching others to blog is something I'm super passionate about. You'll also notice that none of my top blog posts are related, which is NOT something I want you to copy. If your top posts are related, you'll get more traffic and SEO juice and your blog will perform better. For years, I've written willy nilly about whatever I wanted to, so learning to reign it in is tough.
Sometimes, we write posts and they go viral or even semi-viral, when we least expect it. I didn't think anyone would care about my mother daughter post, but they do! When you start writing, pay attention to what is getting the most traffic and see if you can figure out why. Monetize those posts and duplicate your success. Use Google Analytics to track everything related to traffic and search terms.
What about images?
I use free stock photos for most of my blog posts. I know how to take photos, even professionally, but they take so much time it's not something I invest in on a regular basis. If you have the time and energy to take your own photos, please do. They will make your blog unique and will make you stand out. It's worth it, but it's one of those “do as I say not as I do” things, because I have honestly gotten lazy about taking my own photos unless it's a personal or travel post. I 110% recommend using PicMonkey for editing because you'll need to add text to at least one image in each blog post, for social media sharing purposes. If you're using stock photos, the editing you do will make yours stand out above the rest.
Be careful who you listen to when it comes to blogging advice. Hopefully you've known me long enough to know I'm a straight shooter and I'm not going to recommend something unless it's amazing. So many bloggers will recommend crappy hosting because it makes them a quick buck. Or they'll recommend a course for $897 that is RIDICULOUSLY over-priced and not that helpful. Why do they do that? Because they make hundreds of dollars off your purchase! Take blogging advice with a grain of salt unless it's from someone you know and trust. Speaking of trust, here are some of my favorite bloggers to follow on the CONTENT topic.
an amazing the BEST resource for bloggers new and old. I've followed ProBlogger for years and years (the site has been around since 2004), and everything I've learned there is gold. Even though I'm a professional blogger myself, I still use ProBlogger as a resource on a regular basis. For me, the key to being a great blogger is that I am constantly learning. My favorite thing about ProBlogger is that you can learn by listening or by reading – they have a podcast but I hate podcasts so I'm thankful they have 8,000+ blog posts I can read through instead.
Gary Vaynerchuk is not a blogging resource so much as a motivational resource, but is 100% someone you should follow if you need that kick in the ass to make your blog profitable. I wrote about his latest book here and mention him in one of my favorite posts: how I went from $2k/mo to $10k/mo with my blog.
Setting a blog up is easy AF. Making money with a blog? Not quite as easy. It's MUCH easier to make money now than it was 10 years ago when I started, but there will always be a lot of moving parts and it's going to take commitment on your part. I'm going to need you to commit to spending at least an hour a day on your blog if you have another job, and at least two hours a day if you don't have another job. Ideally, you'll spend more like five hours a day at first but like I said earlier, I don't want you to get overwhelmed. Either way, you need to commit to giving it six months. Put the work in for six months. DAILY. If you aren't making a profit by then, send me an email (slapdashmom AT gmail). Let me know what you've been doing, what's working and what's not working, how much time you spend on your blog (and what you do during that time), etc. I will make time to email you back but DO NOT EMAIL ME until you have spent six months really hustling and grinding on your blog, following the tips in this post, and REALLY putting the work in. Trust me, I will be able to tell right away if you have put the work in or if you haven't, so don't try to BS me. ;)
Set your social media accounts up with your blog name. Sometimes, you'll find the names are taken (you should search them BEFORE you buy your domain). For example, I am @slapdashmom on Twitter and Facebook but @slapdashmom1 on Instagram and Pinterest, which I hate but hey, what can ya do? You don't have to actually use the social media accounts at first, but you do want your names locked in. Create a spreadsheet with your usernames and passwords. Once your 15 blog posts are written, you can move on to social media sharing.
Some bloggers earn the majority of their income through affiliates. Affiliates are a great way to monetize your blog, especially until you have a product of your own to sell. As an affiliate for Amazon, for example, you'll earn a small percentage of the sales you generate for them. If you click on my Amazon link and buy something within 24 hours (without clicking on someone else's affiliate link in between), I will earn around 4% (depending on the items). This is a very low paying affiliate but it's a numbers game: more people shop on Amazon than anywhere else, so you'll make money as an Amazon affiliate if you have the traffic/numbers. Shareasale is my favorite affiliate platform because they have high-paying programs and their links are easy to access. Remember to write your 15 blog posts BEFORE doing anything else… like applying for affiliate programs. You will NOT be approved if you are a brand new blogger, so write your posts and get established before attempting to join affiliate programs.
Just like above, I'm going to say this: be careful who you trust when it comes to affiliate advice! Most blog posts talking about affiliates include affiliate links, which is totally fine. The problem comes when people start recommending products JUST to make a buck. When you see posts like “I make $100,000 a month with my blog!”, tread carefully. YES they're kicking ass, YES they've put the work in, but if you look at a breakdown of their blog income, the majority of it will be from hosting referrals (getting people to sign up for blog hosting). Take my recommendations but feel free to do your own research as well. Doing a little digging now can save you lots of time and headache in the long run.
I wrote a post about the best affiliate programs to join. Check it out for some ideas specifically for affiliate programs related to lifestyle blogs (which is most likely what you will be starting – or a version of it).
Pat Flynn knows his shit when it comes to affiliate marketing and passive income. I use his free resources (and have bought his books – they're great), but he also has courses and paid resources available. Take some time to read through his blog and/or listen to his podcast for some great tips and motivation. He makes six figures a month and has been around for many years.
Networking with other bloggers isn't what it used to be. When I first started a profitable blog back in… oh I don't know, like 2010 maybe, there was a group of us who really TRULY helped each other. We became friends, most of us even met in person. I'm still friends with a few of these bloggers (Amber and Meagan don't blog anymore, but Stacie does and her blog is amazing), while others from our group moved on and I haven't heard from them in years. But now, blog networking is so different. Bloggers just want to run in and drop links in a group and hire someone to share those links. Nobody wants to put the work in anymore, they seem to want shortcuts. It's crazy how things have changed. If you want to network with other bloggers, it's going to take some work on your part. Many of us are so jaded from flaky people who think they want to blog, we aren't as open to networking as we used to be. Plus, everyone seems to try and befriend bloggers because they WANT something, and that gets tiring. So, don't be discouraged but keep in mind that it's going to take some elbow grease before you get “in” with other bloggers, and that's okay. It's worth it; a blogging tribe is priceless.
Once you've written your 15 posts, I don't want you to stop there. I want you to continue writing posts as efficiently as possible. Write 2-3 posts a week if you can. Keep QUALITY over quantity in min when doing so, but there's no reason you couldn't write 2-3 really amazing posts this week if you put your mind to it. Continually creating top-notch content is only one aspect of creating a blog that makes money. Another aspect is ad networks.
Google AdSense used to be the main ad network most bloggers used. The pay was shit and they would shut your account down for no apparent reason, only to keep hundreds or thousands that you had earned! Finally, other ad networks like Mediavine and AdThrive hit the scene. They do have minimums for traffic (MV is about 25,000 while AT is about 150,000). I feel like they put these minimums on not just so they could get the best advertisers and pay better, but because it forces you to focus on writing content that is WORTH SOMETHING. When you write content that is worth something, your traffic goes UP and then you can start making money with your ad networks.
As soon as you hit that 25,000 unique pageviews for the month, apply for Mediavine. If they don't accept you, find out why (if possible), and work on improving your blog. I have heard good things about MV but haven't personally used them. AdThrive is the first ad network I've used in a LONG time because I really, really hate ads. However, I spend hours each week creating helpful content for my readers so I don't mind the ads being on my blog if that means I'll make $10,000 a month (or more) doing something I absolutely LOVE to do.
Mediavine and AdThrive are full service ad management companies, which means they will place the ads on your blog and you don't have to worry about anything else (other than collecting that moolah!!).
Other income streams
There are SO MANY WAYS to make money with your new blog. Aside from ad networks and affiliates, you can create your own products. You can also do freelance writing for other bloggers, or be a virtual assistant and do administrative tasks for other business owners so you can make money while your blog is growing. The sky is the limit with this one, so get creative and HUSTLE THAT ASS!