How to Start a (Successful, Moneymaking) Blog - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

#HilaryRowland

How to Start a (Successful, Moneymaking) Blog

How to start a blog that makes enough money for you to quit your day job.

By 


Creating Urbanette, was much more difficult than starting a blog nowadays. I started Urbanette when I was fifteen, which is farther in the past than I’d like to admit. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with magazines. I grew up in rural Canada (like, really really rural — no visible neighbors and the nearest stoplight was a ten-minute drive away if I was speeding). I used to beg my dad to take me to the local garbage dump because there was always a tall stack of magazines next to the recycling, just begging for me to go through it and pick which to rescue. My favorites were Sassy and Jane, neither of which exist in print anymore. They were opinionated and feminist, with very little of the typical gender-role BS. My dream was to be a magazine writer, or better yet, also in charge of a magazine.

How to Start a (Successful, Moneymaking) Blog

So when I got hooked up to the Internet, I immediately moved from writing in my notepad to typing out my opinions and publishing them online. I taught myself HTML by looking at the code of other websites, and built mine from the ground up using trial and error. I started the first online magazine, so (obviously) back then there weren’t any resources to help me start my blog, let alone any content about how to learn programming.

Nowadays, starting a blog is so much easier. That’s why there are so many of them. There are website builders that do all the coding for you — for free. There are grammar check apps that automatically check your writing as you type. There are books that offer sage advice for newbie bloggers.

Over the years, many of my friends and readers have asked me for advice about how to start a blog. So, to make things easier for myself all of you, here is everything you need to know:

Start by asking yourself what you’re interested in

Your blog will only be successful if you are passionate about the topic you’re blogging about. You’re also far more likely to keep it going and post regularly if you’re writing about something you’d be researching or doing anyway.

For example, if your Pinterest boards are all about food, and you love cooking, then you could start a blog about food and provide recipes and instructional videos. If you love interior design, then give your personal take on the coolest apartments around the world, coupled with your pick of the best products, and throw in some DIY tutorials. You get the picture.

It’s best to stick to one theme, like style (fashion and home decor), or financial tips (career, budget tips, and money management) for women, etc. so you can become known as an expert in that field. It also makes it easier to secure advertisers in your focus area (more about that below), since they can be sure that 100% of your readers are into learning about said topic.

How to Start a (Successful, Moneymaking) Blog

Pick a name and a tagline

Once you have your topic, make a list of names you’re considering. The best names are short — one or two words. For example, Deliciously Ella is a great name because it’s unique, personal, playful, and perfect for a food blog. Stumped? Make a list of words that describe your blog, and their synonyms, then mix and match them.

To see if you can actually use the name:

  1. Check if the .com domain name is available by searching on GoDaddy.com. If it’s available, register it! If it’s not, then try a different name.
    • Important tips:
      • Don’t register it if it’s only available with dashes or funny spelling. If Deliciously Ella had registered www.deliciously-ella.com, or deliciously-ellas.com while www.deliciouslyella.com was already taken, she would have lost a lot of readers who’s friends told them to go to Deliciously Ella .com. Not to mention, she would’ve had no control over what the owner of www.deliciouslyella.com put at that domain (that’s scary!)
      • Keep it simple and memorable. Don’t use hard-to-remember or hard-to-pronounce words. Assume that people will be talking about your blog and pick a name that they’re likely to be able to easily say, remember, and spell.
  2. Google the names you’re considering to make sure nobody else is currently using the same name. If they are, you could consider buying it from them and having them sign a contract saying they’re selling you the rights and they won’t use that name again.
  3. Once you’ve settled on a name, trademark it so nobody else can use it. It requires a bit of research, but you can do this yourself.

Next: create a tagline. It should explain what your blog is about in about 10 words, but still sound intriguing. For example, Deliciously Ella’s is: “Love Your Life, Love Your Food, Love Your Self”.

Get your website and social channels set up

  1. When you’re starting out, free website builders like WIX are a huge time-saver. They take a couple of hours to get a website set up, and let you get started without any programming skills. You literally just follow the simple instructions, pick a design you like, and drag-and-drop text boxes and other elements. Eventually you can switch to WordPress, which is what Urbanette uses, but that comes with a load of headaches that you don’t need when you’re just starting out.
  2. Make a text-based logo. Sites like 99designs and CrowdSpring are great for this. Pick a simple and elegant one that looks great small, since it’ll be small on social networks.
  3. You’ll also need to sign up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram under your new blog name and use your tagline as the ‘bio’ or summary. If you already have accounts with a following, change your username and info to your new blog name so you can keep your following. Here’s my guide to how to get a following on Instagram: 12 Ways to Kick Ass on Instagram. Here’s another valuable trick I learned: you can use Dlvr It to auto-post from Instagram to Facebook and Twitter, which saves a ton of time.

Create pretty, personality-filled content that ranks well in Google

Start with your ‘About’ page. Explain your motivation for starting your blog, and include a couple of great photos of you, looking relatable. Here’s Deliciously Ella’s fantastic ‘About’ page.

How to Start a (Successful, Moneymaking) BlogGreat bloggers don’t just teach; they tell stories. People won’t return to your blog again and again to read content that they could easily find elsewhere. They will return because they are interested in your unique and personality-filled perspective and experiences. Don’t write dry, boring articles. Instead, create your own style.

Take time to photograph, edit, and add fantastic photos to each article.

Make sure your posts are filled with great photos. Try the easy-to-use exposure settings on BeFunky, and as you get more comfortable with photo editing, upgrade to Pixlr. Canva is great for making Pinterest-worthy images with text overlays.

For more tips on how to create great content, check out this audiobook: Blogging: How to Write Blog Posts That Go Viral Without Selling Out: Attract a Raving Fan Base, Understand Your First Viral Hit, and Discover Your Unique Blogging Voice.

And then listen to this one: SEO for Bloggers: Learn How to Rank your Blog Posts at the Top of Google’s Search Results because writing great content that nobody can find sucks. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a way to get your blog posts to show up when someone searches for similar keywords in Google. It’s essential that you learn this, and then keep these strategies in mind before, during, and after writing a blog post.

Submit guest posts

The best way to get more eyeballs to your blog is to guest post on other blogs and poach their readers. Make sure that the blog you’re contributing to has a section that covers the same general topic as your blog, since you’ll be writing about the same topic area. If your article is filled with personality and well-researched, then readers will want to read more from you; they’ll check out your bio and continue to your blog. Presto! A new reader!

Many websites have a page about guest posting. Urbanette’s is here. Blogs get a lot of guest posting offers, so you’ll need to make yours stand out. Make sure your pitch isn’t generic. Read some of the articles on the website and suggest some article you could write for them. Tell them the potential title, and describe the article in at least a paragraph of detail.

Here’s a great audiobook that will teach you everything you need to know about doing guest posts: Guest Blogging Goldmine: How I Got More Than 100,000 Visitors a Month on My Blog in 9 Months Using a Free Marketing Strategy.

Learn about blogging… and then learn some more

Like any business, the biz of blogging is constantly evolving. It’s important to learn everything you can about it, and then stay up on the latest changes.

How to Start a (Successful, Moneymaking) BlogThe best book I’ve read about the business of blogging is by a woman who started out as a blogger and now runs her own influencer marketing agency. It’s called Blogging Your Way To The Front Row: The Insider’s Guide to Turning Your Fashion Blog into a Profitable Business and Launching a New Career, and it’s available in audiobook format. If you want to start a blog, this audiobook is a must. It covers everything from the planning stage, to creating shareable content and getting inspired, to getting readers and being seen as an expert, to building relationships with brands and other bloggers, to detailed instructions on ways to make money from your blog.

If you’re not ready for the deep-dive yet, and you’re starting a blog during your lunch break, then listen to this audiobook: 5 Minutes a Day Guide to Blogging: How to Create, Promote & Market a Successful Money Generating Blog, which is packed with tips on building a social media following.

Make Money

Once you have a decent following, you can start turning a profit.

  1. Affiliate marketing agencies like Commission Junction let you place affiliate links in your articles and, if someone clicks through and makes a purchase, then you get paid a % commission. Here’s a tutorial on that.
  2. If you have a larger following, another way to make money is to join an influencer network. There are tons of these, and new ones popping up all the time, so spend some time searching around for them. If you’re not sure what to charge, check out this blog post (and the comment from Sarah Woodstock).
  3. Look into drop-ship options. Basically, you’d pick products you like and set up an online store (which you can do through WIX). When you get orders, you copy them to your drop-shipper and they handle the manufacturing, inventory, and shipping for you.
  4. Create a book from your blog posts. You can get this published by a traditional book publisher, you could self-publish using CreateSpace, or you could sell a PDF version on your website. You could even make a short book and give it away to people who sign up for your email newsletter.

A couple more important tips

  1. Create a comfortable workspace for yourself at home. Make it a quiet place where you can concentrate on writing, and that isn’t cluttered. Decorate it in a way that you find relaxing and inspiring. Make it your own little writing sanctuary.
  2. Don’t view other bloggers as competition. Everyone is different and you should try to be unique. Jealousy will only set you back. Instead, befriend and collaborate with other bloggers. You’ll succeed so much faster if you collaborate rather than compete!

There you have it! If you listen to these audiobooks and follow my instructions, you could get your blog up and running over a weekend. The hardest part is thinking up unique content on the regular, and getting readers. But if you’re determined, you’ll get the hang of it! Many of the most successful bloggers almost gave up before their tipping point, so stay excited and passionate, and don’t get discouraged!

If you have other questions, let me know below.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.

A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 72 Comments

  1. Sasha

    I’m not a starter. As a matter of fact, I’m thinking of ways how to generate more income with my blogs. I’m not sure why Google search directed me to this post.

    I would suggest you write an article on enhancing affiliate sales, earning from guest blogs, generating traffic and others, to help people who already have a blog. Thanks!

  2. Most of my friends write blogs — hobby bloggers, seasoned bloggers, start-up bloggers. A question I always hear them ask is: “Why are my blogs not getting the traffic, attention or sales I’m hoping for?”

    I’ve bookmarked this post and I’m sharing with them. Very helpful! I’m also checking out the audiobooks and thinking of purchasing and giving them as gifts (one at a time of course) 😅😂🤣☺️

  3. Thanks for the kick in the butt!

  4. Peach Miguel

    This post made me feel an idiot BUT in a good way. I never thought I could earn more. I’m somehow settling in my comfort zone. Thanks for indirectly pointing out that I HAVE more to learn.

    • I’ve been doing this for ages, but I still feel like I have lots to learn — I’ll always feel that way, I’m sure! That’s why I keep reading and researching. Never stop growing!

  5. Jen Samson

    You’ve just blown me away! Thanks so much, Hilary!

  6. Gerard

    I have good friends who are earning a good income from blogging but I’m not sure if I want to do it (or if I can it myself). Thanks for the advice. I think a good way to start is to listen to some of the audiobooks you recommended. From then, I’ll decide if this is for me.

  7. Francis Woods

    OMG!!! You hit the nail on the head!!! Been thinking about guest posts and how I can utilize it. I’ve checked out “Guest Blogging Goldmine,” it’s less than two hours audiobook but I’d say it’s the best investment I’ve done so far. Thanks for recommending! I think other books you’ve mentioned here are great and helpful as well!!!

  8. Donna

    Awesome article! An eye-opener for me and many others too. I admire the way you shared everything — your experiences, tips and additional sources to check out!

  9. Jewel Mische

    I would admit that I’m a “hobby blogger.” Now, I’d like to be a pro! Thanks for the suggestions and audiobook recommendations.

  10. Britni Baynes

    It’s not easy to make blogs. You may think that it is only about writing stuff, but no it’s not. You need your heart, and soul in this. Your dedication and passion for your work are important.

  11. Lancy Stanford

    I can’t believe that you can earn money from making blogs? I’m now interested in doing blogs! Hahaha! Thanks for helping us.

  12. Marina Josef

    Is SEO free? I think you need to pay for that. Anyways, whether it’s free or not, it’s a good deal.

    • You don’t need to pay for SEO. You can do it yourself — it just takes some research and learning. 🙂

  13. Marina Bozek

    Oh, I need that audiobook about guest posts. I’m starting to submit guest posts / articles, and I want to improve my skills and pitches.

  14. Jesse Wyss

    You should do blogs not only to earn money but to inspire other people as well. Earning money in making blogs is not easy as what you think.

  15. Yuliya Bruce

    Urbanette inspires me a lot. At first, reading your articles is just a past time for me. Now, I always read your articles because I want to learn something from you, guys.

  16. Rosetta Armendariz

    My girlfriend and I are starting to make blogs. We’re glad that you posted something like this that will help us to gain readers to our website.

  17. Alena Martin

    I need followers for my Instagram account. Thank you for the suggestion! Yikes! Is this for free? Or should I buy followers?

  18. Jurik Smith

    I’m using GoDaddy.com when I made my first website. Funny how I remember my first blog. Lol

  19. Selli Coaze

    Social media has a great role when it comes to spreading your articles. Earn more followers for your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to gain more readers to your article.

  20. Hena Taylor

    I think the guest post is a good idea to spread your articles. Urbanette accepts guest posts, right?

  21. Jessi Agusta

    Before you start a business, you should know if you are capable of doing that. Even if you are a writer, that doesn’t mean you are capable of blogging. You must still learn if you’re capable of good writing before starting a blog.

  22. Bela Christo

    I want to have those audiobooks!!!! Where can I get those? Please! I’m in need of that.

  23. Cristina Joseff

    Whoa, you can make money through blogging? Now I know why my friend is hooked up with her blogging. She’s earning money through her blogs, that’s great.

  24. Maria Bruce

    I want to start my own blog about traveling, but I didn’t know where to make a logo. Thank you Urbanette for giving us access to all these resources! I have no skill when it comes to photoshop. Hehe 😂

  25. Ana Brose

    My head is aching thinking what name should I use. Thank you, I finally found a website where I can make a name for my blog! :))))

  26. Julia Stephanie Williams

    Can I just skip to the last step somehow? LOL
    But seriously, can I hire someone to do all this for me??

  27. Robert Patel

    My girlfriend is one of your readers. She’s the one who influenced me to read your articles. I’m impressed on how you’ve started this magazine. More power to you! Kudos!

  28. Michelle Lee

    Oh, Yes, why didn’t I thought of that. Guest posts are such a good idea to gain more readers. I will try that in my next article.

  29. Kathryn Gibson

    Haha! It is true. It’s useless if you make interesting articles, yet you have no readers. Be strategic, or else, it’s worthless. The SEO thingy is a good idea to earn readers.

  30. Blanche Martina

    I want to try the audiobook entitled Blogging Your Way To The Front Row. I’m a fan of yours, Hilary. I’m starting to make a blog, but I have no idea how to gain readers.

  31. Paul Daiz

    Blogging is very popular today. It is a good way to earn money too. Of course, your blog must be interesting so that you can have a lot of readers. Imagine you are the one reading the article that you are making, is it interesting?

    • Great tip! Everyone should ask themself: Would I find this article interesting enough to share with my friends? Could I improve this article somehow?

  32. Osana Smith

    I used to read Sassy and Jane too! Yay! I love those magazines!!! I wish I kept the copies that I have before. I used to collect them when I was a child. I remember the Jane magazine where the cover is Drew Barrymore.

  33. Patricia Montague

    I will share this one with my friend. She’s a fan of yours and is always telling me to check out your articles.

  34. Olive Williams

    Are the audiobooks are for free? I want that too. I want to start my own blog, and it is all because of you, Hilary.

  35. Sherry Manust

    I agree with you. You have to be passionate about on what you are doing. Doing something that you won’t love is nonsense. That’s the reason why I gave up medicine course, and start the course that I want.

  36. Kelly Gonzales

    OMG! I wanted to start a blog, and I don’t know how. I’m glad I took a glance in this post. I will follow everything that you have said. Yay! I’m excited. ^___^

  37. Dawn Katz

    I do, admire your perseverance, Hilary. I don’t usually read magazines, but when I read yours, it hooked me up. I always wait for your new posts every week.

  38. Kimberly Holder

    There’s no easy way to becoming successful. It consists of hard work and perseverance. Hilary, you are truly an inspiration to all women out there. Reading how your magazine become successful is overwhelming.

  39. Angela Freeman

    Thanks for the detailed and precise info on blogging! I’m on my way to earning more 👏😊👍🤝

  40. Andrea Clark

    I’m taking my “blogging journey” to the next level! Thanks for providing your readers (like me) the most comprehensive guide and most informative books (or I should say audiobooks) to check out!

  41. Sharlene Robinson

    You’re such an inspiration, Hilary! What I appreciate about this article is that you have wonderful tips for beginners but you also provided resources for seasoned bloggers as well!

  42. Eloisa Clay

    Success is not an instant as the instant noodles. Hard work is in need to become successful. Luckily, new bloggers don’t need to suffer what you suffered.

  43. George Sumanta

    I also have a question about outsourcing… When is it okay for someone running a blog to outsource article writing? Do you simply edit the content to match your voice? Curious if you do this at all or not?

    • If you outsource your writing, then your blog won’t have a consistent writing style or personality. I wouldn’t recommend that. For me, it’s harder to edit bad writing then it is to write my own article from scratch.

  44. Jeweli Prater

    One thing I struggle with has to do with your idea of building relationships with other bloggers. I’m fantasmo at creating relationships with real people in “real” life, but I really struggle with how to find online blogging communities with which to get involved. I’ve been most drawn to “coaching/self-help” type circles, but the problem is, what I’M saying is kind of the sarcastic/nay-sayer/life coaches are missing the boat voice – which doesn’t go well with the whoo whoo positive thinking crowd!

    I’d love to see a blog about how to find other bloggers/online communities for more edgy/less mainstream content!

    Thanks for another lovely post!

  45. Zerin Martin

    “This is really a fantastic post. As a new joiner in the industry, never have I ever thought I would learn so much in one comprehensive post. I feel so overwhelm and feels like I am so behind!
    I personally likes to see vibrant images and read long informative post, but find it very hard to do it myself. Anyhow, thank you very much for the knowledge you’ve shared. I think most people who visit this post benefiting this some way or another.

    Keep it up the good work!”

  46. Luthi Sanders

    I’ve read a lot of “how to make money from blogs” online posts and articles. But I never felt they were complete or honest. But this article, I think is an inspiration for seasoned and aspiring bloggers. Why did I say so? Because you took the time to research and recommend good book(s) to supplement your thoughts.

  47. Kseniya Tomlin

    I’m in the process of starting a blog, but I suck at social media. I have no clue what I’m doing. I want to get involved with it more, but don’t know much about it. I have an account–with almost no followers. So, that will be up there on my list of things to get done asap.

  48. Jessie Fernande

    Now I’m more motivated. Thanks for this well-written article. I’ve always had a passion for blogging (probably because I’ve been reading great blogs), but I didn’t exactly know how to go about it. I hope the audiobook is affordable. 🤔👍

  49. Caren Sipos

    I used to use WIX when I was starting to make a website. It is easy to use, especially for newbies, it’s very convenient. Thanks to WIX.

  50. Susan Phemister

    You’re a HUGE HELP to those who those of us who want to blog, but have only dreamt of it so far. You make it sound so simple! 👏

  51. Lana Wiliam

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on wordpress themes? It seems like Wix would be the easiest, but WordPress would be more sustainable, so I’m going to use WordPress. I don’t want to get hung up on picking a theme, but I was wondering if you would recommend going with a free one or a premium one to start? And if you recommend a premium one, do you have a favorite site to get them from? I’ve read that free themes aren’t really a good way to go because you don’t get updates or support and they can contain malicious code, so I was just wondering what your experience is with themes. Thanks so much!

    • We use WordPress. It’s great if you’re a professional blogger, but it’s not easy to set up and it takes effort to maintain. I think that newbie bloggers are better off using Wix, then switching to WordPress when their blog really takes off, if they decide they’re prefer that.

  52. Nataliya Smith

    I love that photo of you at your desk. What brand is that desk??

    • Thanks! It’s hard to see in this photo, but I’m working on a series of home decor articles that will be published very soon. This desk is by a brand called Grange. They make gorgeous stuff. 🙂

  53. Angelo Henderso

    Great post – thanks for sharing! I think that personal branding is sleazy if you try to be someone you’re not – people will notice that you’re not being genuine. Be yourself, put it all out there, and you’ll resonate with readers without ‘selling out’.

  54. Juli Woods

    Thanks for putting this together 💋 I’ve been meaning to start a blog for ages — thanks for the instructions — it’s inspired me to get off my butt and get started!!

  55. Amanda Young

    I would consider this as a complete reference to blogging! You’ve discussed the topic in detail. PLUS you provided us fantastic audiobooks to consider!

    • I think it’s really important to be constantly learning. Audiobooks are a great way to do that.

  56. Lusi Martin

    My intention is to begin immediately with my new blog. I want to focus around the service industry more specifically about addiction. It is a huge epidemic in this country and I do not feel that there is enough information out there, real to life information for people to read. As a product of my own demons and at this stage in my life I feel that I have much to offer in this regard. I would just like a little feedback from you about the idea, and perhaps how you would go about laying something like that out online.

  57. Honey Smith

    I am new to blogging, having started my first blog last year. I however think that keywords are an important part of your blog. In fact, I made my own 10 commandments on blogging. The first one reads. “Though shall never start a blog post without a keyword in mind.”

    • That’s great! You’re much more likely to be successful in the long run with thinking like that.

  58. Czarina

    Kudos! The information is well-organized, very comprehensive and supported by vast resources. Thanks for recommending these audiobooks. This article is “go-to” article for people starting or planning to start their own blog!

  59. Thanks for your time and effort! For a while, I’ve been thinking about starting my own blog. Yeah, I don’t have a clue on where or how to start. You have such a great resource here, Hilary! Now I’m more confident I can do it!

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