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How to Start a Blog and Make Your First $1k (The Complete Guide)

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a commission at no extra cost to you should you click through and make a purchase.

One of the best things about the Internet is that you can make money from anywhere in the world.

My top source of income from LeanneWong.Co has been from selling e-courses and it has changed the way I approach blogging entirely.

I no longer worry about affiliate earnings, sponsored posts, selling ad space and all that. Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with monetizing your blog in that way. In fact, more income is always a good thing.

But having an actual product or service to market to your audience makes for more stable income. You don’t have to rely on third party companies, other brands and their audiences to make a living. With your own products, you have 100% full control of how you make money.

Imagine if you could make an extra $500 every month…that could cover food and basic amenities for a few weeks.

An extra $1k every month could change your life and your family’s too. If there is any doubt in your mind about monetizing your blog, kill it.

It is very possible to make money blogging and IMO, all you need is the right direction and a hella determination to make it happen.

teachable-screenshot-leannewong-blog

But this monetization route requires consistent traffic flows to your blog and building a sizeable audience base from your email list.

Your largest and most important source of traffic will be from Google. If you’re new to SEO and want to learn how to optimize your blog for search engines, you should check out this post – SEO made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide to Rank on Google and definitely join my free 4-Day SEO Bootcamp to help you optimize your blog for SEO.

It is POSSIBLE to make money blogging, but you need discipline and a solid roadmap.

Your first $1k from blogging will be a huge milestone. And I’m going to help you get there.

MAKE YOUR FIRST 1K BLOGGING MONEY

I’ve split this guide into 6 core parts:

  • Technical Side of Setting Up a Blog
  • Niche Selection: Picking a Topic with Search Demand
  • Blog Strategy: Mapping Content to Conversion Goals
  • Traffic Generation Strategies: SEO and Pinterest
  • Building an Email List
  • Blog Monetization

This Complete Blogging Guide is packed with everything you need to not only launch a blog, but one that has the potential to profit from the start. 

#1. Technical Side of Blogging: Hosting, Domain, WordPress

web hosting blogging

First, we want to get the technical side of blogging set up and running:

  • Get web hosting
  • Get a domain name
  • Install WordPress

These are the only 3 ingredients you really need to get started.

Let’s do that quickly and as painless as possible. I’ve outlined a step-by-step process below, so you’ll be up and running in under 20 minutes.

Click here if you want to skip right ahead to the niche selection and monetization strategies.

Step 1: Use Siteground for web hosting

The first thing you want to do is get a reliable web host. Hosting is how your website will be accessible on the Internet.

Unless you are a web developer and can set up your own servers, it’s best to buy web hosting and get that handled by a professional.

So you can focus on more important things, like creating content and building your blog + biz.

I recommend Siteground because it is the most reliable hosting provider with stellar customer support. More details below.

Reliable web hosting with 99.99% uptime

I have never experienced any technical issues with Siteground. Previously, I was with Bluehost and my website crashed with server errors almost every 7-8 months.

Frustrated, I migrated to Siteground and am currently on the GoBig plan.

Siteground’s 99.99% uptime record assured me that I could safely run my online business.

Their automatic backup system and hosting technology were also primed for bloggers. Highly efficient and provided great stability in times of high traffic spikes.

Since using Siteground, my site is always online and I never worry about server-related issues again — more time to create content and actually focus on making more income + impact!

Fast website speed and server response time

pingdom-leannewong

This was my site’s load time after switching to Siteground, as tested from Pingdom. Apparently, it is faster than 45% of Pingdom’s tested sites. Wow.

Speed is now a factor in SEO, according to Google Developers.

Picking a web host with fast sever response time is crucial to your site speed. If your server takes forever (3 seconds or more) to load a page, then heck, the battle is already lost.

Free SSL Install and HTTPS configuration

You can install an SSL certificate for free with Siteground’s Let’s Encrypt SSL feature.

HTTPS configuration is quickly implemented and your site is secure in no time.

As long as your domain is hosted on Siteground, you can install a free SSL certificate with just a few clicks.

Affordable pricing starting at $3.95 USD per month

siteground hosting pricing renewal cheap best

Siteground’s hosting packages are very affordable. Starting at $3.95 USD per month (billed annually), you can get your website up and running in no time.

You’ll have to pay for 1 year in advance to enjoy the $3.95 per month pricing. That amounts to $71.40 USD which you have to pay upfront for the whole year.

Secret Tip: Go for the 3-years plan with Siteground to take advantage of cheap prices

It is no secret that many hosting providers reel you in with cheap starter plans, only to lock you in with high renewal fees.

Well, in all honesty, Siteground is doing the same thing.

After 1 year, when your hosting package is about to expire, Siteground’s renewal price is almost 3x more than the one you signed up for.

So don’t fall for that trap! If you know blogging is something you will be taking seriously, invest in it for the long-run.

Take the 3 years plan upfront, and you can enjoy the discounted price of $3.95 USD per month for 3 years. That’s about $142.20 USD for the WHOLE THREE YEARS.

A friggin’ steal!

Click here to sign up for Siteground at $3.95 USD per month. 

Step 2: Get a domain name from Namecheap

buy-domain-namecheap

Next, buy a domain name from Namecheap. Don’t overthink the name, but try to get the.com tld, if possible.

If you’re starting a personal blog, then yourname.com would be perfect.

For a business / professional services website, I recommend having the industry name in the domain. So for example, if you have a law firm, try:

  • location + niche topic: brisbanelawyers.com
  • name + niche topic: danielwrightlaw.com

The point is to have something that is descriptive of what you do and a bit of personal branding.

You want people to be able to quickly identify with your business and what you can do for them.

Step 3: Install WordPress, theme and plugins

With Siteground, you can install a self-hosted WordPress platform with one click.

It literally takes less than 3 minutes to set everything up, hassle-free without touching any code.

At this point, give yourself a pat in the back. We are done with the hard technical bits.

Time-tested WordPress Theme recommendations:

Genesis Framework 

  • Popular WP theme, for its clean and modern code
  • Secure and advanced customisation options
  • Fast load speed
  • Very expensive (starting price $59.95)

Divi theme 

  • Another popular page builder plugin
  • Comes with dozens of website templates for easy setup
  • Costly ($89 per year)

WP Ocean 

  • Free
  • Easy to set up, plenty of options for demos
  • Compatible with many popular WP plugins

Generatepress 

  • Free
  • Lightweight
  • Secure
  • High performance and fast load speed

In terms of plugins, here are my recommendations:

That’s it, folks. You’re all set with the technical side of setting up a blog.

Now from here on out, we’ll be looking at high-value strategies for content creation, traffic generation, building an email list and blog monetization.

Let’s dive in!

#2. Niche Selection: Pick a topic with search demand

search demand-lwco

Blogging without SEO in mind is like going into battle without any armor.

Getting found on search engines today is a MUST for any online business.

The first step to SEO is creating an SEO strategy and finding the right keywords to target.

My strategy is to target medium – long tail keywords with an avg. monthly search volume of 10k-100k. That’s the sweet spot of a niche with high search demand and is not too competitive to rank for.

When researching on keywords, it’s also worth checking who your competitors are and how saturated the market is.

There are some niches that are very, very, very hard to compete in.

But don’t let that discourage you just yet, because if there’s anything I’ve seen again and again – it’s that passion and hard work always win.

But what’s worse than a highly competitive niche?

It’s a niche that nobody is talking about.

The last thing you want to do is spend half a year blogging about something that has zero to little search demand.

Check out my flagship course, SEO Demystified to learn how to nail your first keyword ranking in 90 days. 

Find the search volume of your primary keyword topic

Use Google Keyword Planner to find the search volume of your primary keyword and 20-30 related keywords.

For example, this keyword topic, “japanese ramen” has an estimated 10k-100k monthly searches. It’s related keywords seem very promising as well, with searches above 10k.

high-search-deman-niche-ramen-seo

In comparison, this is a niche with relatively low search demand. Usually if a short tail keyword with 2 words, “heritage shoes” has less than 100-1k monthly searches, that is a bad bad sign.

seo-low-demand-topic

Think about it this way, if the primary keyword topic has low monthly searches, the overall traffic potential of this niche will likely be low too.

Keywords with avg. monthly search volume of 10k – 100k are considerably high and should be the baseline to target when choosing a niche to enter.

SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post

#3. Mapping your content to conversion goals

Creating great content is just the first step of blogging. To actually make money from your blog, your content needs to align with your business.

Do this by mapping your content pieces to specific conversion goals. These are actions you want your readers to take after reading your content. Such as:

  • Signing up for your email list
  • Submitting a ‘contact us’ form (for client prospects)
  • Making a purchase

For every blog post that you create, think about whether the content angle is (i) relevant to your target audience and (ii) pushes your business goals forward.

Every business has a purchasing funnel. That funnel represents your customer’s journey towards buying your product or service.

make money blogging purchase funnel

There are 3 stages: Top of the Funnel, Middle of the Funnel, Bottom of the Funnel.

Your target audience will belong at one of these stages of the funnel.

  • Are they first-time visitors to your site?
  • Are they repeat visitors and have become your subscribers?
  • Are they warm leads ready to convert?

Your blog needs to have different types of content that are geared towards their readiness to buy.

Top of the Funnel Content Types

People at the top of the funnel are first-time visitors to your site. They haven’t met you before and are definitely not ready to buy. At this stage, you want to create content that builds trust by solving a problem:

  • ‘How to’ articles
  • Tutorials
  • Listicles

Traffic potential at the top of the funnel is at its highest.

If you can rank for informational keywords with a high monthly search volume, that will send hundreds of thousands of visitors to your site.

That means your articles, tutorials and listicles have to be optimized for search engines and target the right searcher intent.

Middle of the Funnel Content Types

People at the middle of the funnel already know your brand and are usually repeat visitors, who are not yet a paying customer.

Your content needs to give them an extra nudge and tip them over to the other side. The best content types to nurture potential leads are:

  • Opt-in offers
  • Squeeze pages

Bottom of the Funnel Content Types

People at the bottom of the funnel are warm leads ready to make a purchase decision.

Your content should convince them that YOU are the solution that best fits their needs. Content with a personal touch works best at this stage:

  • Webinars
  • Testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Free demo
  • 1:1 calls

The role of content is to nurture and enable that purchasing journey. Nobody wakes up with a credit card ready in their hands right?

Your blog is not a publishing queue. It needs to serve an overarching purpose — one that impacts your bottomline and contributes to your business.

When done properly, content can be the most powerful vehicle to sell your products, services and brand.

#4. Traffic Generation Strategies: SEO and Pinterest

As a blogger, traffic is your lifeline.

You need a consistent stream of traffic to generate leads and convert prospects into buying customers. I used to think that you need to be on every social media platform to grow an audience online.

But now I am convinced that you only need two sources of traffic: Google Organic Traffic (SEO) and Pinterest.

Attract organic traffic from Google with SEO

Traffic from Google is massive — with over 3.5 billion search queries made on the search engine everyday.

That means just capturing 1% of a highly searched for keyword can mean hundreds and thousands of visits to your site per day.

google-analytics-case-study

Organic traffic from search engines is free and ranking well on Google search results will grow your blog on autopilot.

I wrote about how to optimize your blog for SEO over here, here, and here.

Generate massive traffic from Pinterest

Pinterest has been a total GAMECHANGER for my blog and generates over 40% of total traffic to my site.

It’s really the best platform to grow your blog because it’s not difficult to get good reach on Pinterest without a huge following.

leannewong-pinterest-stats

There are over 250 million active monthly users on Pinterest and that is a huge source of traffic for any business.

If you thought Pinterest was just a social platform for DIY recipes, fashion and crafts, then you’re wrong.

Pinterest is a visual search engine and you need to optimise your pins for keywords and SEO.

Unlike Google, it doesn’t take long to start seeing results on Pinterest. I saw traffic to my blog EXPLODE within a few weeks of being active on the platform. No joke.

Oh, one more thing, I was also using Tailwind to accelerate traffic growth using Smartloop and Tailwind Tribes. It worked like magic.

If you are not yet growing your blog on Pinterest, then stop reading this and get a Pinterest business account now. Then, sign up for a free-trial on Tailwind and prepare for traffic spikes on your site.

More awesome resources on Pinterest Traffic Growth:

10 Ways to Drive Massive Pinterest Traffic to Your Blog

How to Set Up Rich Pins on Pinterest in Under 5 Minutes

Pinterest Case Study: How I got 459% Increase in Organic Views in 1 Week

#5. Building an Email List

Your email list is the ONLY reliable source of traffic that will convert into paying customers.

Which is why its crucial to have a solid list building strategy the moment you launch your blog, in order to capture ice cold visitors into subscribers.

Ingredients to build an email list:

  • get an email service provider: Mailchimp (free), Convertkit (paid)
  • create a freebie / content upgrade
  • create an opt-in form
  • create an email sequence

I personally use Converkit because of its ease of delivering content upgrades and sending automated email sequences.

When I first started blogging, I used Mailchimp but saw very little results from it.

Switching to Convertkit was the BEST thing I ever did and till this day, I continue to make passive income from my email automations.

So I do urge you to sign on with a good email service provider and have your list building efforts covered.

#6. Blog Monetization

The harsh truth is, over 70% of blogs don’t make any money at all. Most bloggers still rely on a full-time job to generate a source of income.

2.5% make a modest $10,000 – $30,000 per year from their blog.

All these statistics point to the dismal fact that making money from blogging is HARD.

But that doesn’t mean its impossible. Selling an e-course is one of the most sustainable sources income for your blog + biz.

Behind the scenes of a $1,024 online course launch

When I first launched my flagship course, SEO Demystified, I didn’t think anyone would purchase it.

At the time, I had about 300+ subscribers on my list and an average open rate of 41%.

After a soft launch, I made my first $1,024 in course sales. That changed my life forever.

I knew I was on to something here and traced back the steps which generated the most interest for my course.

Create a waitlist page for your flagship course

Before launching my course, I created a landing page with a rough skeleton of the course overview and curriculum.

SEO-DEMYSTIFIED-SEO-WAITLIST

I also had 15-20 readers who had emailed me asking if I had a course about SEO for beginners.

This helped me gauge whether there was sufficient demand for my course. After I created SEO Demystified, I sent 2 emails to my waitlist subscribers and more than half of them converted.

Attract qualified leads with an opt-in freebie

The more engaged your subscribers are, the more sales you will be able to make. You want to attract the right type of people to your email list — qualified leads who are interested in the product/service you offer.

Prior to the launch of SEO Demystified, I created 3 blog posts about SEO and added an opt-in freebie that would be useful for beginners.

optin-freebie-seo

This helped me attract qualified traffic to my blog articles which saw the value of my course.

Another hotspot to attract subscribers to your opt-in is the sidebar. Remember that creating the right opt-in freebie is crucial to attracting prospects who will eventually become a paying customer.

Conclusion

Thats it, folks. My complete guide to make your first $1k blogging from growing your blog traffic to creating your first e-course.

Do me a favour? If you enjoyed this post, share it with your friends and leave a comment below!

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Author: Leanne Wong

Leanne Wong helps bloggers and entrepreneurs grow an audience and make more money online with SEO and Pinterest strategies.

Join 2,000+ others and receive full access to:

Leanne’s library of free resources to accelerate your blog growth.

87 People reacted on this

  1. I love this – such a useful, informative read! Ive been blogging for 4 years & I absolutely love reading through basics like this to refresh and remind myself of the important things I always need to be thinking about!

  2. Great guide for starting a blog. I didn’t know the first thing when I started. This wraps up what took me a few years to learn into one post.

    1. That’s awesome, Erica! So happy to hear that it has helped you with starting a blog! Took me several months to gather all I learnt over the net before starting my blog too.

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Hi, I'm Leanne.

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