Many creators want to learn how to start a blog and make money. Blogging has been a popular way to make money online for decades, and it’s still relevant today.
An estimated 77% of people regularly read blogs, and many bloggers earn revenue from them. We’ll break down everything you need to know about blogging—from how to start a blog to how to make money online.
How to start a blog
The beauty of blogging is that anyone can get started as long as they have a blueprint for success.
Many Teachable creators run successful blogs, courses, and other online businesses. In this article, we’re sharing expert tips, tools, and advice to help you start a profitable blog. We’ll cover how to:
- Find your niche and blog name
- Get your blog online (blogging platforms, domains, and more)
- Design your blog
- Write your first blog post—and stay consistent
- Make money blogging
1. Find your niche and blog name
Before you learn how to start a blog and make money, determine your niche and blog name.
The niche is the focus of your blog. It can be any topic that you are knowledgeable about and are interested in enough to create content consistently.
Your niche should also be specific. The more specific it is, the less competition you’ll have. In addition, a well-defined niche helps you know your target audience better, so you create content they’re most interested in reading.
For example, Teachable creator Darryl’s House Plant Journal blog focuses on houseplants from an engineering perspective.
To find your niche, start by asking these questions.
- What problems am I uniquely qualified to solve?
- What are my hobbies and interests?
- Will people want to read about this topic?
- Who will my target audience be?
You can also use these steps:
- Do keyword research to discover topics people search for on the internet. Use your findings to narrow down your niche ideas.
- Test out your ideas by getting feedback from your target audience. You might ask people on social media or discussion boards about their interests.
- Choose a specific niche based on what you discover during the previous steps.
Although it’s easier to stand out when you niche down, avoid being so specific that you don’t have an audience—or enough content to write.
Knowing your audience means you can cater to them. But first, you have to identify your audience correctly. We’ve got a worksheet to help you do just that.
Naming your blog
Once you know your niche, it’s easier to name your blog. Your readers will see your blog’s name first, so it should represent your content and brand.
Here are some helpful steps for naming your blog:
- Brainstorm a list of ideas – Jot down words that come to mind when you think of your niche. You can also use a thesaurus to find related words.
- Use a blog name generator – Try using a blog name generator if you’re stuck or want inspiration.
- Verify domain and social media handles – When you’ve narrowed down at least three blog names, check if they’re available as a domain and social media handle.
How to get your blog online
Before you start a blog, there are three things you need to check off your list.
- Choose a blogging platform
- Buy a domain name
- Set up web hosting
Think of your domain name as your street address, your host as your actual home, and your blog platform as your home builder. Your domain is how visitors find your blog online. Hosting is where your website and blog files live, and your blog platform is where you build. They all work together.
1. Choose a blogging platform
When figuring out how to start a blog and make money, choosing the right blogging platform is the first step to success. It can be more difficult and expensive to switch blogging platforms later.
Some blogging platforms to consider are:
To help you decide which is right for you, consider these questions:
- Is it easy to set up without coding skills, or is there a learning curve?
- How much does it cost to set up and maintain?
- What type of content will you create? Does the platform support it?
- As your blog grows, will the platform still meet your needs?
We’ve compared the pros, cons, and pricing of popular blogging platforms below to help you choose.
|Blogging platform||Who is it best for?||What are its limitations or drawbacks?||Pricing|
|WordPress||Those that want more flexibility, control, and customization.||To build and maintain a WordPress site, you need some technical knowledge or resources to hire support.||Plans range from $4-$45/month (billed annually).
However, this isn’t the full cost.
Additional costs include plugins that help you run your site, like Yoast, hosting, premium design themes, and other features.
|Wix||Bloggers who prefer a simple platform over customizable features.||The features are limited when it comes to SEO, analytics, and customer support.||Personal plans range from $16-$45/month.
If you want to accept online payments, then plans start at $27-$59/month.
|Webflow||Those that want to customize and design their site without using code.||Webflow pricing is more expensive than some other blogging options. There’s also a learning curve to add custom code.||Plans range from $0-$39/month (billed annually).
Pricing for ecommerce sites is more expensive—$29-$212/month (billed annually).
|Squarespace||Ideal for artists and designers that don’t need too many features.||Squarespace blogs aren’t as customizable as other platforms.||Plans range from $16-$65/month (billed monthly) or $16-$49/month (annually).
Annual plans include a free domain with your brand name only.
2. Buy a domain name
Many blogging platforms offer free domains but include the platform’s name in the URL. For example, a free domain URL might look like this:
When you buy your domain name—one that doesn’t have another company attached to it—visitors only see your brand.
On average, a domain only costs around $10-$20 per year. However, you’ll look more professional and credible blogging with a custom domain than one with a .blogspot or .wordpress URL.
Some blogging platforms add web hosting to plans, so you won’t need to do anything extra. For example, Webflow and Squarespace have their own managed hosting service.
That said, some platforms don’t include hosting, so you can use one of these providers:
Here’s a comparison table to help you decide which web hosting service might be best for you.
|Web hosting provider||Pros||Pricing|
|Hostgator||Hostgator is reliable with excellent customer support. It also has unlimited bandwidth and storage.||$7.99-$299/month (billed for the length of your contract)|
|Bluehost||Bluehost is a flexible, affordable option that works with many blogging platforms.||$2.95-$18.95/month|
|Dreamhost||It’s known for being reliable and affordable. You can also add email hosting for your domain.||Starts at $2.59/month for shared web hosting|
|Hostinger||It’s relatively easy to use with one of the most affordable pricing for web hosting.||$1.99-$3.99/month|
|WP Engine||It specializes in managed website hosting for WordPress.||Annual plans are $20-$600/month|
How to design your blog
Research suggests that 94% of the first impression of a website is made solely on design. In other words, your blog design influences whether or not someone stays on the page to read your content. These expert tips can help you design your blog.
1. Plan your layout
You can hire a UX Designer or DIY your website and blog design. The advantage of hiring a UX Designer is that they have the experience to quickly create mockups and custom templates for you. They can also advise you on how to create a site that follows best user experience practices.
However, hiring outside help comes with a cost. Most beginner bloggers are working with little to no budget or want to DIY their website design. In this case, you can leverage pre-created website themes and templates.
A theme is the entire look of your website and includes files for templates. A template is a layout of one page (like your blog). Most blogging platforms, including Wix and Squarespace, have ready-made themes and templates that come with your plan.
You can also buy themes and templates from outside resources, like Themeforest for WordPress blogs. Themes for your website usually cost less than $100.
2. Consider readability and user-friendliness
One of the most important aspects of a blog, and your entire website, is its readability and user-friendliness. Studies show that people have short attention spans and tend to skim online content rather than read it. You should consider this in your blog’s design.
To make your website and blog easy to read and user-friendly, follow these tips:
- Add a table of contents that links to different heading sections of your blog page.
- Incorporate visuals and use high-quality images and videos.
- Make your content scannable with headers, bulleted lists, and short paragraphs.
- Have a light background and a darker font size of 16 or more.
- Avoid using words and phrases some people may not understand.
- Add a related articles section on your blog posts to encourage readers to visit other pages.
3. Develop your branding
Your blog branding is your distinct identity, which makes you stand out from competitors. You want your blog to have a cohesive look, represent your brand, and connect with your target audience.
Branding typically includes your:
- Tone of voice – your tone should be consistent across all your blog articles
- Color palette – take this quiz to see where you might want to start in choosing your brand colors
4. Offer content upgrades
Content upgrades, often called lead magnets, are one of the best ways to scale your online business. They can help you stay connected to and grow your audience.
When you offer these kinds of bonuses, you can encourage your readers to sign up for your email newsletter. Sending emails to your subscribers can foster deeper engagement. Someone that reads your blog for the first time might not buy an online course or digital product from you immediately. However, they are more likely to after they’ve interacted with you several times through email, blogs, and other channels.
A lead magnet sign-up within a blog article might look like this, where the reader gives their email address in exchange for a worksheet.
One of the easiest ways to get people on your email list is to offer content upgrades within your post. These upgrades can be in the form of a PDF guide or a mini ebook.
By now, you’ve:
- Identified your niche
- Purchased a domain
- Secured hosting
- Designed your blog
Once you have everything set up, it’s time to create a blog post.
How to write a blog—and stay consistent
As you learn more about how to start a blog and make money, you’ll find that consistently writing and publishing high-quality articles is critical to success. But, where do you start?
1. Brainstorm topics
Before writing a blog post, brainstorm topics. Remember to write about topics related to your niche so they’re relevant to your target audience.
Each topic you write about should have a purpose. What value will your audience get from the blog post?
For example, the purpose of this blog is to educate. It’s also on a topic our audience cares about—how to make money by sharing your knowledge online.
2. Do keyword research
You’ll need to get traffic to your blog to earn money, and one of the primary ways to do this is through SEO or search engine optimization. With the right SEO strategy, people will start finding your blogs when they search in Google and other search engines.
To do this, you’ll perform keyword research to identify words or search queries that are relevant to your audience. Here are the most common keyword research tools that SEO experts and bloggers use:
To do keyword research, this is what to look for:
- Search volume – this is how many people a month search for each keyword. It reveals the level of interest in a topic and potential traffic to your blog
- Keyword difficulty – this is how difficult it is to rank at the top of search results. Generally, the lower the score, the easier to rank. Higher scores are too competitive for new sites.
Ideally, you want to write about topics (or keywords) with high search traffic and low competition. When writing a blog post, you’ll also want to target only one keyword phrase per page.
Keyword research tools will give you various topic suggestions, like the ones below on Keysearch:
After you’ve published articles, you can also use audience research to refine future blog topics. Track engagement on your blog posts with metrics like:
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
You can track and find all these metrics by installing Google Analytics on your site. Then, use those insights to inform your strategy.
3. Create an editorial calendar
An editorial calendar helps you plan topics ahead, keep your goals top of mind, and stay consistent. Your calendar can also help you plan for seasonal topics you might want to write about, like the holidays.
One of the biggest questions bloggers ask is how often they should post. This depends on your goals. Usually, the more articles you write, the more traffic you get. That said, quality is more important than quantity.
If blogging is your full-time job, publish new content daily. If blogging is your side hustle, you might publish new content two to ten times per month. Set an attainable goal for yourself and use your content calendar to help you achieve it.
You can use something as simple as a Google spreadsheet or a project management tool. We use Asana for the Teachable blog editorial calendar. Here’s what that looks like:
4. Outline your first blog post
Starting with an outline before writing a blog helps you gather your thoughts and organize them in a way that is easy to follow.
The best way to create your outline is to start with headings or sections of content. Headings (H2, H3, and so on) structure your page, organize content, and make it easier to skim.
They’ll quickly show readers what you’re covering in your article. For example, the outline of this article would start like this:
- How to start a blog and make money in 2023
- How to start a blog
- Find your niche and blog name
- How to get your blog online
To help outline, you can use an SEO tool like SurferSEO or Keysearch’s content assistant.
For example, with SurferSEO, you can build an outline and write directly inside its Content Editor tool. The tool includes keyword suggestions and a content score, which helps predict your content’s quality and ability to rank.
Without a tool, you can Google the keyword phrase you’re targeting and look at top-ranking pages to see what those articles cover. Of course, you never want to copy. Instead, use this for inspiration.
Although SEO tools and Google can guide you, success depends on writing high-quality, unique content. To create quality content, follow these tips:
- Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
- Leverage your experiences and knowledge.
- Get specific and provide examples.
- Share stories that capture your audience’s attention.
5. Proofread your post before hitting publish
Typos and grammar mistakes are easy to avoid with a little proofreading and insider tips and tools. For example, Grammarly is one of the best tools to help you catch and fix writing mistakes. You can download the browser extension or use the grammar checker for free.
6. Start with a backlog of content
Before you publish your articles, build a backlog of five to ten ready-to-go posts. This will make your blog launch day go smoothly. When you’re ready to launch your blog, we recommend publishing several articles at a time, so there’s more than one blog for readers.
If you’re stuck on which topics to start with, look at social media for inspiration. If you’ve been posting on TikTok, Instagram, or elsewhere, which posts have had the most views and engagement? You can repurpose social media posts into a blog, so you aren’t starting from scratch.
A backlog helps you consistently publish articles. If you take a few days off or something unexpected happens, you’ll have content ready to publish ahead.
Expert blogging and website tips
Many successful bloggers started as complete beginners and learned along the way. Like running any online business, blogging can come with a lot of trial and error before you figure it out.
We’ve worked with many bloggers and content creators at Teachable and gathered expert advice and tips below. Consider these tips your expert guidebook on how to start a blog and make money.
1. Consider post length
A common question bloggers have is how long articles should be. However, post length isn’t necessarily a ranking factor, and there’s no magic number when it comes to word count.
A HubSpot study shows the ideal blog article length is 2,100-2,400. That said, many articles under 1,500 do well.
One of the easiest ways to estimate blog length is to use a tool like WordCounter. You’ll simply drop in the URLs of the top-ranking pages for your topic and it tells you the word count for each one. Remember word counts are a reference. It’s more important that your content provides value to your audiences.
2. Make it skimmable
As mentioned, research shows 79% of people scan webpages. Your audience will decide if yours is worth reading within a few seconds.
You can show off the value your content offers quickly by making it skimmable. Blogs that are easy to skim, have these qualities:
- Table of contents
- Bullet points
- Short, concise sentences
- Short paragraphs with 3-5 sentences
- Visuals–pictures, infographics, videos, etc.
Although the post below is thousands of words long, it looks easy to read, and you immediately see what it’s about.
3. Optimize your post for search engines
SEO is vital to drive traffic to your blog, especially for beginners on a budget. If your content ranks at the top of search results, it can be a major source of traffic and growth.
We’ve mentioned keyword research earlier, but getting your post to rank in search engines includes more than that. There are hundreds of factors that influence whether or not your site ranks highly on Google.
However, you don’t need to know them all or be an SEO expert to start blogging successfully. It will help to follow some SEO best practices and techniques though. Of all the ranking factors, these two are probably the most important to remember:
Write for your readers
Above all else, your content should provide value and be enjoyable for people to read. To do this, you need to understand your audience and leverage the tips we shared for making content easy to read and skimmable.
Make sure content matches search intent
Let’s say you’re trying to rank for a keyword like “how to build a greenhouse”. People searching for the term are looking for an educational step-by-step guide. The blog you create should match their intent and answer their search query.
At minimum, you should share a list of tools and supplies they need first before diving into each step. You might also include illustrations of a greenhouse plan or an instruction video.
These quick tips can also help you improve SEO for your blogs (and website in general).
- Internally link to your other blogs and core pages – linking out to other relevant pages can help improve rankings and tell Google what your site is about.
- Link to external, trustworthy sites – adding links to research can support your points, but you should never link to a page that is trying to rank for the same topic. For example, you wouldn’t want to link to another blog on building a greenhouse.
- Target one keyword per page – each blog should have one focus keyword and you should use it strategically throughout, without keyword stuffing.
- Add descriptive alt text for images – when you upload images, sites have a box for alt text. It’s valuable to write a few words that describe the image for SEO purposes and for accessibility (screen readers).
Pro tip: Use the free version of Yoast, an SEO plugin for WordPress blogs. It analyzes your content for you and tells you where to make improvements.
Lastly, focusing on content creation alone might not get you the results you want. Your site’s health impacts your ability to rank too. Google has specific criteria to determine if a site is healthy or trustworthy.
Beginners can use an SEO audit tool like Semrush or Ahrefs. It will crawl your site, score its overall health, and provide a list of recommendations. Typically, you want to aim for a score over 90%.
The technical side of SEO can be complex, but again, you don’t need to be an expert to learn how to start a blog and make money from it. Improving SEO is a continuous process, so you can always get started now with these tips and hire an expert to help you later.
4. Include core website pages
Of course, your website is more than your blog. You’ll also include core pages that tell readers more about you and your brand. Eventually, you may want to feature other products or services that you offer like courses or coaching.
Important pages that bloggers include on their sites are:
- An about me page – helps your audience get a better idea of who you are and what your business looks like
- Contact page – is usually a basic form where visitors can leave a message and contact details
- Services pages – feature digital products and services
- Online shop – you can include physical merchandise and digital products
5. Promote your business with your blog
Once your blog is up and running, you can drive traffic from your blog to other parts of your business. Consider these best practices for successful blogging:
Add it to your navigation bar
First, put a link to your business pages on your navigation bar or menu. This is at the top of every website and features your most important links (no more than six or seven). Depending on the nature of your business, your menu text may be “shop”, “courses”, or “coaching.” Use whatever makes the most sense for your business.
Mention your business
If the goal of your blog is to promote your online business, make sure that you’re regularly mentioning it and linking to it within your blog posts. Of course, you should try to weave it naturally into your blog. If it sounds overly promotional, readers may feel like it’s an ad and disengage.
How to make money blogging
With dedication and practice, you can grow your blog audience. As you build a dedicated following, it’s easier to diversify your revenue streams and make more money. In general, bloggers make money through ad revenue, online services, digital products, and more.
According to a RankIQ study, the primary ways that bloggers make money are through ads, affiliate marketing, and sponsored reviews. They also sell their own products and online courses. We’ll dive into how you can make money blogging with these tactics:
- Offer ad space on your blog
- Do affiliate marketing
- Create sponsored content
- Sell physical products
- Offer online courses or coaching
- Monetize ebooks and digital downloads
- Create a community or membership
Here’s how to start a blog and make money:
1. Offer ad space on your blog
Offering ad space is the most popular and easiest way to make money from your blog. Two primary options for providing ad space are through ad networks or direct ads.
Most bloggers start out using the ad network Google Adsense to find advertisers for their blogs.
Google Adsense is great for any blogger because there’s no traffic minimum. That said, you’ll want to build an engaged audience to increase your earning potential.
Various factors impact how much you can earn using Google Adsense:
- Monthly page views because the more people on your site, the more ad views you get
- Focused content (your niche) to make it easier for advertisers to match your site to appropriate ads
- Positive mobile and desktop user experience to keep your audience on your site longer
- Ad placement that ensures users see your content and your ads; sometimes you have to play with this
Because different components affect your earning potential, ad revenue varies. However, you can use the Google Adsense calculator to get an idea. For example, a health blogger with 50,000 monthly page views could earn about $10,400/annually from ad revenue alone.
There are a couple of ways to set up Google Adsense ads on your blog. You can let Google place them manually (auto ads), or you can set them up yourself (ad units).
If you set up your ad unit yourself, select ads appropriate for your niche and audience. For example, if you have a sustainable fashion blog, avoid displaying ads for a fast fashion brand.
You’ll also want to consider where ad placements will live on your site. If there are too many, and they impact your blog experience and readability, you could lose your audience.
Once you have a larger audience of engaged readers (at least 10,000 monthly), you can sell ads directly to brands.
Some bloggers prefer direct ads over ad networks because there’s more earning potential since ad networks keep a portion for finding advertisers for you. However, when you use direct ads, you’ll have to find advertisers and pitch them. Depending on your niche and blog traffic, advertisers might approach you.
Here are some tips for finding advertisers for direct ads:
- Research brands in your niche
- Compile a list of ones you’d be interested in sharing with your audience
- Create a media kit (a document that shows information about your blog, including your niche, audience demographics, statistics, and accomplishments)
- Email your pitch with your media kit to the appropriate party (i.e., advertising manager, head of marketing, etc.)
2. Do affiliate marketing
Another popular way to make money online is through affiliate marketing–promoting a brand’s product or service to your audience. You would promote the product or service using a special affiliate link. Then, you’d earn a commission if your audience purchases after clicking your link.
Many big box stores like Amazon and Walmart have affiliate programs. You can also research other brands that align with your niche that may have an affiliate program. For example, Teachable offers affiliate partners a 30% commission.
3. Create sponsored content
Another way to leverage other brands to monetize your blog is to create sponsored content. Many brands will pay bloggers to write about their products or services. Again, it’s best to only work with brands you align with and that your audience would be interested in.
For instance, if you’re a food blogger, you could pitch kitchenware or food product brands for potential sponsorships.
Typically, you’ll charge higher prices for sponsored content than standard ads since you’re creating the content. Sponsored content also often has higher engagement rates, which can lead to more sales than traditional ads.
Your rate for sponsored content depends on your niche and how much traffic your blog gets. However, you can usually charge anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per sponsored post.
You could also offer sponsored content when you pitch brands for ad space. The process is the same. You’ll research brands that match your niche, then contact them with your pitch and share information about your site.
You can use these steps to help you pitch a brand for sponsored content:
- Research the brand and identify the best point of contact. Usually, you can find their “Media” or “Press Release” information on their website.
- Write an email and address the contact by their first name if you have it.
- Introduce yourself, share why you want to work with the brand, and why you’re a good fit.
- Give a general idea of what you want to do for them or which product you want to promote.
- Provide a summary of your audience, including your page views.
- Share a sample of your work.
- Give a call to action to request your media kit if they’re interested in learning more. This keeps the conversation going.
4. Sell physical products
Research shows 61% of online consumers in the United States made a purchase after reading about a product in a blog. This is ideal for bloggers as you can use your articles to talk about your products, then direct your audience to your ecommerce page to purchase.
Most blog platforms make this easy by offering widgets, plugins, or upgraded plans to support ecommerce.
Here are a few examples of promoting products that are relevant to your blog niche:
- Dog blogger – homemade dog treats
- Wellness blogger – a daily journal
- Travel blogger – merch with travel quotes
- Food blogger – recipe book
Merchandise (shirts, cups, tote bags, etc.) is a common physical product. Books and journals are also becoming popular with self-publishing.
To limit risk and measure audience interest in a product you can start a wait list before a product launch. People that want to buy, can share their email or phone number to get a notification when it goes on sale.
5. Offer online courses or coaching
If you’ve already learned how to start a blog and make money, creating online courses or coaching services should be a breeze.
Online courses are one of the top sources of income for bloggers. In the RankIQ study, blogs that made $7,500 to $25,000 a month reported that at least 11% of that income was from online courses. For example, full-time blogger Lauren McManus and her partner Alex Nerney earn a combined six figures per month.
As a blogger, you already have an advantage when you create a course or start coaching. You already have your niche and have or are building an audience and website. Best of all, your blog is an excellent place for you to market your course or coaching service.
Consider what you already teach your audience through your articles to help you decide what kind of course or coaching service to offer. What topics could you expand on for further teaching? Use this to inspire you.
6. Monetize ebooks and digital downloads
Like with courses and coaching, ebooks and digital downloads are an easy way to use the knowledge you already have to monetize your blog.
Many bloggers prefer ebooks and other digital downloads over physical products because there’s a low startup cost. You don’t have to worry about storage and shipping.
It’s easy to create and sell digital downloads with Teachable. Simply click “Digital Downloads” from the platform, input the basic details, upload your files, and set pricing.
You can even market and link your ebook or digital download in your blog articles. If you don’t use Teachable, you’ll need a website platform or plugin with ecommerce and payment features.
Here are a few examples of digital products to sell if you’re a:
- Fitness blogger – a 30-day exercise challenge
- Photography blogger – a photographer’s go-to checklist
- Parenting blogger – a guide with kids activities and games
There are countless options for digital products any blogger can create. Simply use topics you already write about and create ideas from there.
7. Create a community or membership
Creating a community or membership is another way to monetize your blog. Members of your community will pay a monthly fee, which provides you with recurring monthly revenue for your business. With a membership, you can offer exclusive content and other perks for members only.
You can make it so that anyone can read your blog, but community members have exclusive access to an app, forum, or Facebook group. Bloggers have various levels of memberships that offer different perks. Perks you can provide for your community might be 1:1 group mentorship, discounts on your products, etc.
If you haven’t already started a blog, there is no time like the present. A blog can benefit you and your online business. It’s also easy to monetize your blog when you use Teachable to create courses, coaching, and digital downloads. To get started, you can test out a free plan and adjust to a paid one as your online business grows.
What is a blog?
A blog is self-published digital media that includes editorial posts consisting of writing, photos, and videos. Blogging can be personal, diary-style posts or entries businesses post to educate their customers. Posts are usually displayed in reverse-chronological order, with more recent posts at the top of the page and older posts at the bottom.
Can I start a blog for free and make money?
Yes, some blogging platforms with limited features let you start for free. Generally, however, you will have to pay small fees to host your site, purchase a domain, and enable other helpful features, depending on your blogging goals. If you already have a website, your website provider might include blogging capabilities.
Can I start a blog without any technical experience?
Yes, you can start a blog without technical experience. Different blogging platforms require different levels of technical skills. However, there are many user-friendly options, as well as free information, to help you get started.