I am so excited to write this post today! I’ve been blogging for about two years now, and a little over a year ago I was able to start monetizing my blog! I didn’t set out with the intention to make money with my website; however, my last semester of college I KNEW I wouldn’t get hired to any part-time position when I would only be there for 6 months.
I also knew I didn’t WANT a part-time job because, lets face it, they suck! Customers treat you horribly and managers can be hit or miss. That is when I decided I would try to really go full force at blogging as my side hustle/part-time job! Monetization is a hard concept to grasp right from the beginning; however, I want to give you all the tips and tools that I learned along the way!
This post will tell you how to create a blog for free, how to set up a blog, how to monetize a blog without ads, and so much more! Be sure to keep reading for every tip that allowed me to make over 15K my first full year of monetization. Read on to find out how to make a blog for free AND make money.
How to Create a Blog for Free and Make Money
How to Create a Blog for Free
The first step in this process will be how to create a blog for free. This is actually the easiest part of this whole process! I created my very first (and very awful) blog when I was around 13 years old. I had no idea how to create my own blog, but my dad set me up with a free WordPress.com account and I went from there!
Cut to child me spending hours Googling around and figuring out how to find a theme, how to alter that theme, and what else I needed to know. The first thing to do after you sign up is to create the name of your blog! I feel like bloggers either go one of two routes. They do what I did and choose a name that fits what they love/what they’ll write about OR they choose to go with their own name.
For me, Amanda Johnson, everything with even 15 letters/numbers was taken so I went the first route. You don’t have to pay for a domain (what the URL will be so, for me, www.sequinsandsales.com); however, it’s only $18.00/year to get rid of the “.wordpress.com” at the end of your URL.
After you come up with a name, then you can choose a theme! WordPress offers a TON of free themes and that’s what I used for the first year and a half (**see below**)! I told myself I wouldn’t buy an expensive/nice theme until I hit at least 10K followers on Instagram and that held true. This is the simplest way that I know that shows you how to start a blog for free!
After that, I suggest searching around on Google if you have any issues with figuring out how to write your first post. That being said, it’s all listed on the sidebar and all you have to do is click “write” at the top of the screen to create your first post! It’s a very simple process and once you’re in the writing page you’ll see where you can schedule the post, add in keywords, and generate your slug.
When it comes to keywords, I do use a paid system which is called Keysearch. It’s actually the best thing ever and shares the competition level of specific keywords. There are also a lot of free options for this as well! You just have to be sure to look around the web for which one will work best for you.
If you want to sign up for Keysearch, be sure to use this link (here)! It’s my affiliate link, but because I’m an affiliate I can also give you a code for 20% off which is “KSDISC!” I know that this post is about how to start a blog for free, so you definitely don’t NEED to get this tool. That being said, if you decide you want to invest in anything INVEST IN KEYSEARCH!
How to Create a Blog Website
Now creating a blog is one thing, but you want to turn it into a WEBSITE. That just means you want it to be optimized, you want it to have a consistent theme, and you want great photos! These are a lot easier to accomplish that you might think too. I started out with just my iPhone and college computer and still function with both of those today!
To optimize a post, I suggest reading into this post (here). It’s one thing that helped me when I first started out! If you want any more tips, I suggest searching “how to optimize a blog post” on Pinterest or Google. This is my trick to figuring out anything! There are so many useful hints out there that you can easily discover with one click of a button.
In order to have a consistent theme, I suggest choosing one color you love and sticking with that. I somehow discovered the color I have for my theme and use it throughout my pins for Pinterest too! I also like a simple look so I don’t have a crazy background photo or bright/distracting colors for my fonts.
For photos, I took all of them on my iPhone. Yes, all of them. I still take a lot of mine with my phone too! It’s ALWAYS with me, it’s free, and with portrait mode you can still get AMAZING shots. I also have a post on How to Use an iPhone and a Tripod to Take Quality Instagram Photos (here). If you already have a camera, use that too!
How to Promote Your Blog on Social Media
Now before you can make money, you have to have people FIND YOU BLOG. That’s why you need to learn how to promote your blog on social media! The two main sources of social media traffic for me are Pinterest and Instagram. If you’re reading this, it’s likely you found this post through one of those two platforms!
I suggest focusing on three platforms to promote to your audience. I chose Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest! Pinterest is great because it’s like a search engine with a brain. It shows people more of what they love! If you’re able to create a strong niche in whatever you like, then you’ll succeed on Pinterest.
I have a blog post that tells you How to Gain 100K Monthly Viewers on Pinterest (In Under 2 Months) (here). It’s super helpful and it has tips that I’ve learned and taught myself along the way! I utilize Tailwind A LOT and you’ll learn more about it if you read that post. It is a paid service, but you get a free trail! That’s what I started out with.
If you’re wondering how to start a blog on Instagram, then that’s a really simple task to accomplish. I suggest looking through the social platforms you want to utilize BEFORE choosing a blog name to see if they’ll be available! I took it as a sign that Sequins and Sales was for me because the handle was free on EVERY SINGLE SOCIAL PLATFORM.
When it comes to Instagram, the way that you can get people to come to your site is through a welcome page! It’s just a page on your blog that has all of the links to your newest (or most popular posts), your affiliate sites, and/or your contact page (for brands). You can check my Welcome Page out (here). I keep this in the bios of my Instagram and Twitter pages!
You can also get your page and posts noticed by utilizing hashtags. Instagram is the best place to use hashtags and it’s so easy to do so! I’ve noticed that there is not a true difference between using hashtags in your caption vs. in the comments section. I suggest doing either or both! I also have a post that share 80+ Instagram Hashtags (for all blogging niches) That are Still Great for 2020 linked (here).
How to Make Money With a Blog for Beginners
One of the easiest ways to make money as a blogger is through affiliate networks. One of the best affiliate networks for bloggers is LIKEtoKNOW.it! You’ve probably seen bloggers you follow link their items to it and it’s a great way to make passive income. What is passive income you might ask?
Passive income is virtually money you can make while you’re asleep and requires no work on the back end. This is a really easy system on how to monetize a blog without ads. If you add a LIEKtoKNOW.it link to one of your posts, people can click on it and you’ll make commission day in and day out! I have made hundreds of dollars a month just using them and Amazon alone.
If you do end up getting accepted to LIKEtoKNOW.it and RewardStyle, I have another post on how you can utilize the various functions! It took me a while to learn how I could maneuver their site and in what ways I could insert affiliate links into my posts. Read about How to Use RewardStyle to Make Money (here).
How to Collaborate with Brands
Another way to make money is by working with brands as a blogger! It can be daunting to figure out how to pitch to companies as a blogger, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be great! There are so many brands that work with bloggers that it’ll be easy to find one that will work with you.
No matter how many followers you have, UTILIZE YOUR POWER. A lot of times smaller accounts have a higher engagement rate (the amount of likes + comments you get on posts/stories) than larger accounts. Sell this to brands and prove that you have an engaged audience that loves you! I would start by asking brands for gifted collaborations first OR joining The #1 Platform for Newbie Bloggers (read more about it here).
I also have a post that can help bloggers who have a few more followers too! You can read my post on 10 of the Best Places to Find Influencer Campaigns (here). I have used these platforms myself to work directly with brands and it makes it easier because everything can be submitted in one place!
When you work with brands, you also need to use a Media Kit! You’re probably thinking “What is that?” In a nutshell a Media Kit just lists out how many followers you have, a little bit about your brand, some content examples, and (once you start collaborating with brands), logos of brands you’ve worked with in the past! This shows brands that you want to work with that you have experience and can stay on a timeline.
If you’re wondering how to create a Media Kit, look no further! Etsy has a BUNCH of various designs from a ton of different people in the industry! Other bloggers share them and a lot of people in PR create them because they work on the back end of the industry. If you’re looking for some inspo, click the link (here).
Not Sure Where to Start?
I have recently decided to start offering consulting! If you’ve been wanting to start a blog but feel stuck, then I am here to help! I have tons of resources on my blog, but I also know sometimes everything can’t be answered in one post. If you’re needing help with SEO, setting up a Pinterest strategy, or getting accepted into LIKEtoKNOW.it, click below to get my help!
In conclusion, blogging has been the best thing to ever happen to me. It’s given me a platform to share my ideas and tips, and it’s also allowed me to have a second stream of income! I’ve been able to connect with people all over the country and it is something I wouldn’t change for the world.
This was my post on how to start a blog business and run a profitable side hustle with your blog. Now, I don’t suggest staring a blog just to make money because then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. I do think though that if you have an idea, a niche, or a passion that you want to turn into a business, this is the way to go!
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