Another article about how to start a blog. I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself,
“Let me guess — this privileged, Middle-American, white male with seemingly feminine hips is going to give me generic advice on how to build a money-making blog. These tips are going to include how to find hosting, how to name the domain, and how to make money through affiliate links — let’s entertain this bozo so we can let him have it in the comments section…”
To which I would respond,
“Blast! They can see my hips through the computer screen! How did they know that’s my insecurity!”
After taking a cold shower, I would respond with,
“No — that’s not at all what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about how I did it my way. I’m also going to provide real-world evidence. And, on top of all that, I’m going to make the entire process exciting. Here goes…”
I’m going to take you through the exact basic methodology I used to create my $5,000 a month (minimum) blog. What I think is pretty damn cool (the first non-boring part), is I don’t pay a single cent on any advertising. My overall costs are pretty low.
Let’s get into it…
Step 1. Use platforms that hand you an audience on a silver platter
Many of us have been there:
“Okay, I have this amazing idea… I’m going to write about this thing that I know. Once I get a host and a domain, I’ll write up some content, and BOOM, I’ll have an audience.”
But does it ever work? If you have done the whole domain and host thing, you know getting traffic is by far the hardest part. So why are you trying to pull traffic to your site?
That’s like trying to find a girlfriend and putting a sign up in the front lawn of your 750 sqft Echo Park apartment saying, “Girlfriend wanted. Apply Inside.”
Instead, what you should do, is go out where the potential girlfriends flock:
- A bar
- A park
- A pottery class
- A CrossFit gym
In other words, you have to go where the potential audience may be.
Enter, the blogging platforms:
Why should you be focusing on these two platforms? Well, because they combine for over 400 million active monthly users. You have the ability to write content within your niche (another term for the topic you write about).
The niche you choose could be a number of things:
- Make money
These are just some of the most popular & profitable.
So before purchasing a domain and hosting or any of that, make sure you sign up for these two free platforms and start writing. Follow individuals on those platforms who are succeeding (i.e. they constantly produce content, they have substantial follower counts, etc.) within your niche. Try and mirror some of your content after theirs. DEFINITELY REFRAIN FROM PLAGIARISM.
Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Pick people who are interested in what you’re interested in.
— Russell Simmons
I’ve been able to do this, and I’ve been able to amass viewership of my content to over 4 million views and I currently generate anywhere from 100k to 200k views a month (see images):
Step 2. Redirect the viewership into entrepreneurship ownership
And then become a poet…
Okay, in all seriousness — what does that even mean?
Well, when you’ve started generating traffic, it’s great.
- You start to get internet famous
- You start getting random email “pitches”
- You start to get hits of dopamine every time an article gets high views
But really, those are all vanity metrics…
What really feels good is when you start generating income!
How do you do that? By turning the viewership into entrepreneurship ownership.
In other words… redirecting that traffic into an email list.
Why do you want to do that? Because for lack of a better phrase — that’s how you make the cheddah.
Okay, fine — I’ll be frank, many of you reading this probably know about Medium and the Payment Partner Program and how it pays you cold, hard cash already. But hey, it’s a hustle to constantly be putting out content and chasing the dollar that way. Thousands of people do it — you shouldn’t be that person, however.
Hubspot notes, when done properly, your email marketing investment pays $38 for every $1 spent — or a 3800% ROI.
How do you turn the viewership traffic into an email list?
Conduct covert, secret, double-agent reconnaissance missions.
“Uhh — what the f*ck does that mean?”
Again, turn to the professionals already on the platforms — what are they doing? If you’re savvy, you’ll notice most of the top content producers always make an opportunity to join a newsletter or something like that. Hell, even the top multinational businesses on the planet do it (see nike.com):
If one of the most powerful companies in the world is collecting email addresses — you should be doing it too.
Now, a multinational company like Nike will do this with popup ads — but what are you supposed to do as a blogger?
You should always include the reader’s ability to follow you along with article/content footers. This could be something that offers an opportunity to join a newsletter, or it could offer a “freebie” (a pdf, video module, checklist, etc. that helps the reader solve a specific problem — this is a bit more advanced).
To collect the email addresses, you should use an email service provider (ESP). Luckily, many of the email service providers offer a free tier (up to a certain amount of subscribers). Some notable ESPs are:
- Convertkit (what I use)
- Mailchimp (they locked me out without explanation — I personally don’t recommend)
There’s of course more — these are probably the top dawgs, however.
Okay — so you’ve started to build your email list, what’s next?
So glad you asked.
Step 3. Use your fancy new list to further provide value to your audience
Why do you want to become a professional blogger?
- Is it to get recognition? Maybe.
- Is it to get praise from friends and family? Perhaps.
- Is it to find time to work on a hobby? Ehh.
The main reason you want to become a professional blogger is so you can work for yourself, create the work that is fulfilling to you, and make the money you know you’re worth.
That’s where we’re going to go next.
Now that you have an email list, you’re going to want to provide the email list with products and services that will help them solve their problems.
Think about it — what’s the most foundational thing about any business? A business exists to solve problems for a customer-base and make their lives better. In his book, “Copywriting Secrets” Jim Edwards outlines the main reasons why people buy things. Those reasons are because they want to:
- Make money
- Save money
- Save time
- avoid effort
- Escape mental or physical pain
- Get more comfort
- Achieve greater cleanliness or hygiene to attain better health
- Gain praise
- Feel more loved
- Increase popularity or social status
With your niche, can you create a product or service that adheres to any one (or more) of the above-listed purchase motivations?
If so, you’re ready to move on.
Step 4. Bring home the bacon
I’ve probably talked about this 6 trillion times (I know, you’re already rolling your eyes).
Are you familiar with the eLearning industry? It’s an industry expected to reach a total global value of $374.3 billion by 2026. It’s essentially the sharing of knowledge through teaching via online technology.
Think Teachable, Thinkific, Podia, etc.
Creating your courses via those platforms is probably the most basic — meaning you’ll be up and running the quickest, however, they cost more than self-hosting on your site via a WordPress plugin like Thrive Apprentice.
Oh wait — we weren’t going to do the whole WordPress blogging thing…
Forget that I said that and go with one of the third-party sites I mentioned.
Remember, you’re the expert. What are some high-level problems you can help your audience solve? When you’ve answered that question, you can package that solution into a course that you’ll now sell to your audience.
This is the route I’ve taken, see below for a monthly earnings report from one of my courses (mind you I sell two courses and have a membership as well):
Now that’s a screenshot from my payment processor (Thrivecart). Thrivecart is pretty expensive, but you can do this via a cheaper payment processor (I used Sendowl).
You can see that a few strong days really carried me through the month, however, I only experienced two days with zero sales. I’ll take that any day — it’s like an online ATM machine.
Step 5. Legitimize the blog so Mom stops worrying about you
Okay, If your mom is old school Chicago Italian-American like mine — she’ll probably never stop worrying.
However, now is the time we can finally purchase a domain and host your site via WordPress.
I’m not going to go through any steps about choosing a hosting provider and trying to fill in any affiliate links or any of that bull — there’s already too much of that out on the internet.
What I’m really going to talk about here is, after you do a Google search, and figure out what hosting provider, etc. is right for you, you can legitimize your business by putting your newsletter landing pages and courses on the actual WordPress site.
This does a few things for you:
- It consolidates all of your pages — instead of having courses on Thinkific, landing pages via Convertkit URLs, etc.
- It makes you more legitimate — good design sells. If you’re patch-worked with your site, it can leave site visitors confused and confused visitors don’t purchase.
- It can be a vanity piece you show your aunts and uncles during the holidays so they don’t think you’re completely crazy.
That last one is maybe just for me.
The glories of a big Catholic family…
I told you this was basic — let’s wrap this up
I could go on and on when it comes to building and monetizing a blog.
Unfortunately (for me), people often lose focus when something gets too complex. If you’re one of the few people still reading this — bravo, you’re in a small minority that can actually read through an article. Most people only read for a few seconds.
What we’ve done is gone through the basic steps of setting up your blog. I know, the best part about it all is you weren’t bored at all!
I’m such an entertaining fella…
Before I completely run out of self-deprecating humor, let’s recap what we’ve learned:
- Use platforms that hand you an audience on a silver platter
- Redirect the viewership into entrepreneurship-ownership
- Use your fancy new list to further provide value to your audience
- Bring home the bacon
- Legitimize the blog so Mom stops worrying about you
That will get you started.
And perhaps, at the end of the day — that’s what we need more of. We need more people will to get started and take the chance on themselves.
- We need more people willing to create that Quora or Medium account.
- We need more people willing to write that article and share their gifts with the world.
- We need more people willing to create and fewer critics tearing others’ work apart.
So maybe the most basic step of all is putting those thoughts on paper (or the screen) and taking a chance.
The world needs it, now more than ever.
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