Who is this guide for?
This guide is for the average person who wants to start a blog and understands that, though it’s easy to start a blog, turning a blog into a money-making machine or even just a full-time income isn’t always easy, but it is doable and highly rewarding.
This guide is for you, as long as:
- You don’t mind putting in the work
- You legitimately want to help others
- You’re not looking to get rich quick
- You’re not only in it for personal gain
What makes this guide different?
There are probably thousands of how-to-start-a-blog guides on the internet, so why should you be reading this one? Here are three reasons:
- This Guide is Simple – If something doesn’t absolutely have to be included, it won’t be. This is a straight forward guide to starting a blog.
- This Guide is Honest – Blogging isn’t for everyone, though I wish everyone would do it. I’ll be honest about the work involved with it.
- This Guide is Transparent – I’m going to be 100% honest all the way down to telling you when I make money from you clicking on a link.
What this guide will cover:
(click the link to go directly to a specific section)
Preface: Here’s Why I Blog
Chapter 1: Start a Blog
Chapter 2: Improve Your Writing
Chapter 3: Find and Use Images
Chapter 4: Get Traffic to Your Blog
Chapter 5: Make Money With Your Blog
Chapter 6: Plugins, Tools and Resources
Chapter 7: Ethics and Legal Matters in Blogging
Preface: Here’s Why I Blog
Who Am I?
My name is Kalen and I won’t waste your time telling you things about me that you can learn right here, but I will quickly tell you why I love blogging…
- I love to blog because you have the entire world for an audience.
- I love to blog because you grow through teaching things to others.
- I love to blog because you can do it from anywhere in the world.
- I love to blog because you have no competition, only friends.
- I love to blog because it keeps me engaged in my topics.
- I love to blog because my family supports me doing it.
- I love to blog because you can earn passive income.
- I love to blog because it’s just a lot of fun.
- I love to blog because I love to write.
- I love to blog because it helps others.
You’ve got to find your reason. It could be some of these or none of these, but you need to figure out what motivates you. Blogging is a lot of work. It takes time and dedication before you will ever see your first dollar, but once you put in the work, you will eventually be able to sit back and earn money while you’re not even at your computer. It’s all worth it in the end, but you’ve got to remember that.
Chapter 1: Start a Blog
Starting a blog is easy. There are really just 5 steps between not having a blog and writing your first post.
Step 1: Choose a Name
The first thing you’ll want to do is choose a name for your blog. Once you choose a name, you’ll want to see if your domain name (ex: yourname.com) is available. There is a lot of debate over the importance of your blog name (and your domain name), but in my experience and after listening to many successful people on this topic, I don’t believe your blog name is that important. Taking the action of just choosing a name is better than taking months to pick “the right name.” You just need to make sure it’s relevant.
Step 2: Buy Your Hosting and Domain Name
I recommended signing up for web hosting and registering your domain name with SiteGround. Use this link to get started for under $4/month. That’s dirt cheap for hosting, plus it includes your domain name and the hosting is extremely high quality. I was using a company called HostGator, but I switched to SiteGround for many reasons. By the way, it’s really easy to upgrade your hosting plan as your blog grows. (I’ve done it. Twice.)
A moment of transparency: When you click the link above (or right here) and sign up for hosting with SiteGround, I will get a small commission. This is one of the ways I make money with this blog. It’s called affiliate marketing. More on that later. That being said, HostGator actually pays more money than SiteGround and I could still use my HostGator affiliate link if I wanted to, but I am not making this guide to make as much money as possible, I’m giving you the best tools possible and I believe SiteGround is your best option. If you want to know exactly why I recommend SiteGround, read 5 Reasons That Prove I’ve Found the Best Web Hosting Company.
Update: I actually had an agent from BlueHost contact me to try to convert me to using them as my company of choice. They offered to pay almost double the commission that SiteGround pays, but again, I turned them down, because I honestly believe SiteGround is the best hosting company available to you.
Step 3: Install WordPress
There are many blogging platforms out there, including WordPress, Blogger, TypePad and Sitebuilder. I suggest using WordPress. It’s the most popular blogging platform and in my opinion, there is no competition.
Why use WordPress?
- WordPress is 100% free
- WordPress is easy to use
- WordPress is extremely versatile
I don’t know of anything that the other blogging platforms do that WordPress can’t do, but I do know some things that WordPress can do that the others can’t. The choice seems obvious, right? See, and I’m not even getting paid to encourage you to use WordPress.
SiteGround actually has WordPress hosting plans. It’s the same as a regular hosting plan as far as what you get, but it will come with WordPress already installed, so as soon as you buy your hosting, you can start blogging. It doesn’t get any easier that that!
P.S. For some reason other hosting companies like to charge extra for WordPress-specific hosting. I’m not sure why that is, but SiteGround charges the same. Another great reason to use SiteGround.
Step 4: Choose a Theme
Right now, you can get access to all 87 of their themes for $69. Most premium themes cost at least that much and with Elegant Themes, you are getting 87 different options. You could change your theme every week if you wanted to (not that I would suggest doing that). That price gives you access to all their themes for a year. If you’re happy with those 87 themes, you can download every single one of them, let your membership expire after a year and still continue using the themes as long as you want, but consider keeping the membership for theme updates.
Installing a theme is extremely easy. Simply, go into your WordPress dashboard, hover over “Appearance” in the left menu and click “Themes”. Then click “Add New” at the top, then on the next page click “Upload Theme” at the top and upload your theme zip file. Elegant Themes makes it easy to download the zip file for any theme in their member area.
Step 5: Write Your First Post
Once you’ve installed WordPress and your pretty new theme, you’re ready to write your first post. First, let me explain the difference between a post and a page. A post is simply a blog or an article…whatever you want to call it. A page is a permanent, usually stagnant, piece of the web for things such as your “about me” section or possibly a “contact” section. Pages don’t change very often, whereas new posts are constantly being added and updated. Also, posts will flow through your RSS feed as you upload a new one, but pages will not.
Here’s how to actually write your first post, in five steps:
- Create your post. Go to Post > Add New in the sidebar
- Create your title. You can always change this later, but go ahead and put a title in the title box. Your title, also known as a headline, is arguably the most important part of your post, because it’s all many people will see. If the title doesn’t drag them in to read your post then it doesn’t matter how good the article is.
- Write your post. Writing a post is easier said than done, but ultimately, the process is simply to come up with an idea, create an outline with main points, write a sloppy first draft and then edit until you’re happy with it.
- Change your URL. Under your title you will see an editable URL field. You’ll want to make that “search friendly,” so remove the filler words like “the” or “at” and simplify the title to a few main keywords. This will help others find your post. You can change the format of your URL, under Settings > Permalinks in the sidebar.
- Finalize the post. Add your category in the right sidebar. Add some tags. Add a beautiful featured image that will catch people’s eye. That’s a good start for your first post. We’ll talk about plugins and other additions in a moment.
It Really is That Simple
That’s it. Choose a name, buy hosting/domain, install WordPress, choose a theme and write your first post. It’s a good idea to play around in WordPress a little to become more familiar with the platform and if you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to contact SiteGround’s customer service. They are seriously top notch and can be reached through their website or by calling (866) 605-2484.
Why and How to Start a Newsletter
If you blog and especially if you want to make money with it, you should remember that “the money’s in the list.” This is true for two primary reasons:
- Email subscription is the most valuable way to promote your articles, products or services. It’s a direct link from you to your readers.
- If you ever decide to sell your site, the amount of active subscribers weighs heavily into the amount of money you can sell your blog for.
It’s easy and actually even free to start a newsletter. There are many paid services, but I would suggest starting with MailChimp. They offer a free plan as long as you have less than 2,000 subscribers, so it’s great for starting your newsletter. Use this link to signup for free and get started today. MailChimp has tutorials to guide you through everything so it’s super easy.
Once you’ve signed up with MailChimp, you’ll need to integrate some sign-up forms into your blog. The easiest way to do this is by using a “plugin”. Plugins are uploaded just like “themes”, except you click on “Plugins > Add New” to add them. We will get into plugins more in chapter 6, but for now we’re just going to talk about an email subscription plugin (which may be the most valuable plugin you can install).
Elegant Themes offers an amazing plugin called Bloom. That’s what I use and I love it. You can get all of Elegant Themes’ plugins included with their themes for an extra $20 on top of the price I mentioned above. It’s highly worth it. Bloom allows you to add subscription forms that pop-up, embed in the page, slide in or show up at the bottom of each post. I love the versatility. However, if you don’t want to pay for a plugin to add subscription forms, MailChimp offers a few ways to add the forms. However, the best free way to do this is with the Sumo plugin.
A Quick Word on Your Homepage
Most bloggers start off by having their blog as their homepage. This is perfectly acceptable, and it is the default in WordPress, so you don’t have to change anything to do it. If you decide you want something specific to show when people go to your homepage (like mine), you can set it to a specific page; it’s called a static page. You can go to Settings > Reading, from your WordPress dashboard, to change your homepage to a static page of your choice. I wouldn’t worry about this in the beginning. I would focus more on creating great content.
Now let’s talk about the most important part of your blog: your writing.
Chapter 2: Improve Your Writing
When I first started blogging, I didn’t realize the importance of being a good writer. It may seem obvious, but you’ve got to work on your writing skills to write the amazing content you want to write. Now I love to write and I consider myself a much better writer than I used to be. I was pretty horrible at first and I didn’t even realize it.
In this chapter, I’ll show you how to improve your writing skills and make money while doing it. I’ll even show you exactly where to go to get paid to write and I’ll give you all the resources you need to become an expert writer – you’ve just got to be willing to put in the time.
How to Become a Better Writer
How do you become a better writer? You write. There’s no shortcut. You write as much as possible – everyday is best. You write when you don’t feel like it and when do feel like it. Make friends with other writers so you can share your work and get feedback. Writing comes with practice like most things that are worth doing.
The ultimate goal, especially with a blog, is to write how you speak. That’s much easier said than done. You’ve got to write all the time to find your voice in the words. You can even try a speaking program like Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home that will actually type the words as you speak them. Some people prefer to write like this, but the end goal is to be able to write exactly how you speak whether you have a speak-to-write program or not.
Here’s how to become a better writer and actually get paid…
Before we go on, check out Copyblogger’s guide to becoming a better writer:
My Top 3 Writing Tools
There are so many free writing tools out there. I would highly recommend using them all first before paying for one. Here are a few of the best tools, that I have used personally and continue to use to help with my writing:
Grammarly is like spell-check for grammar. You can simply install it as a browser extension in Google Chrome and it will automatically start highlighting and checking your grammar. It’s so useful that I actually learned a few things about grammar just by seeing my mistakes.
Here’s a screenshot of Grammarly:
2. The Readability Test Tool
The Readability Test Tool allows you to type in a domain name and see how easy the content is to read. Your content should be as simple as possible and this test will help you determine that.
Here’s a screenshot of The Readability Test Tool:
Scrivener is the ultimate writing platform, whether you’re writing a blog post or a 400-page book. The best part is that you can try it for free. Scrivener offers a 30 day free trial that only counts the days you use it. So if you use it everyday, you have the program for 30 days. If you use it twice a week, it lasts fifteen weeks. Plus, you can always export all your writing before the trial expires if you decide to discontinue using it. By the way, if you decide to buy it, it’s only $40.
Here’s a screenshot of Scrivener:
10 Websites That Will Pay You to Write
It’s not uncommon to write and work on your blog for a year before you start earning an income. Many bloggers, myself included, get paid writing gigs to not only help our pocketbook, but also to grow and become a better writer. Here are some of the best places to go for getting paid writing gigs:
- FundsforWriters – FundsforWriters pays $50 for each accepted post. They are looking for articles about writing and making money with it. They only accept articles between 500-600 words, but they want you to make each word count.
- Uxbooth – Uxbooth pays $100 for each accepted post. They take four to eight weeks to accept and post articles, so don’t count on this being a quick money maker. They take so long, because they pair with editors to only publish the best content.
- iWriter – iWriter pays up to $15 for each accepted post. That may seem small, but they aren’t as strict as many of the others above and they allow you to pick exactly what you write – as many or as few articles as you want.
- Textbroker – Textbroker pays up to five cents per word, if you’re a 5-star writer. You’ll start by submitting a short sample article and you will most likely start as a 3-star writer, but you can work your way up by writing more and writing great content.
- Listverse – Listverse pays $100 for each accepted post. The article must be a list, it must be at least 1,500 words and you must include at least 10 things. Other than that, you can get pretty creative with it.
- TopTenz – TopTenz pays $50 for each accepted post. Again, the article has to be in a list format and it must be at least 1,500 words, with few exceptions.
- A List Apart – A List Apart pays $200 for each accepted post. They’re not first on the list, because they tend to publish less articles, which means you have a smaller chance of getting accepted, but they pay well.
- International Living – International Living pays $75 for each accepted post. They are mostly looking for travel experiences from countries you have visited.
- Matador Network – Matador Network pays up to $60 for each accepted post, but standard pay is around $20-$25. They don’t really focus on a minimum word count, but they have a maximum count of 1,500 words.
- The Penny Hoarder – The Penny Hoarder pays up to $800 (rarely), depending upon the number of page views you receive. The pay starts at $100 for 50,000 page views, so this isn’t a guaranteed paid article, but it can potentially be highly rewarding.
Writing Resources for Days
There are all kinds of tools out there to help you improve your writing and most of them are free thanks to the internet. Here are some huge lists of writing resources that you will want to bookmark and come back to:
Improve Your Grammar
Grammar is important. Whether you’re writing on your own blog or you want to write for some big websites, you have to make sure your writing is on point. Here are some great resources to put you ahead of the game:
- Start with The Compact Guide to Grammar for Busy People for a refresher
- Avoid these 15 grammar goofs
- Avoid these 11 compound word errors
- Don’t make these 10 common grammar mistakes
- Make sure you’re using these 27 commonly misused words correctly
A Few Hundred More Writing Resources
- Try these 5 simple ways to open your blog posts with a bang
- Check out this list of apps and services for writers
- Read these 101 Writing Resources that will take you from stuck to unstoppable
- It will take time, but go through these 150 writing resources
- Try these 50 free resources that will improve your writing
- Get theses free ebooks: 52 Headline Hacks and 101 Headline Formulas
- Try this free Emotional Marketing Headline Analyzer to test your headlines
Chapter 3: Find and Use Images
Eventually you’ll want to include images on your blog. You may want header images for each post, images within your post and other images around your website. That’s great, because images can really break up content and make it easier to read. But be careful, you can’t use just any old image you find searching the web. There are rules.
You’ll want to find images that you are free to use. Sometimes images require attribution, which simply means you’ll need to put a link somewhere in the post showing where you got the image from. Some don’t require attribution at all, though it’s still a nice gesture to do it anyways.
When you start searching for images to use, you’ll see the Creative Commons License start to pop up. That’s basically just a license that dictates how you use the photo and how you provide attribution. Many of the resources I’m about to share will not require attribution, but for the ones that do, you can read more about the Creative Commons License here. Now for some places to find free images!
32 Places to Find Free Images You Can Use
* Denotes that it’s one of my go-to places to get images.
Chapter 4: Get Traffic to Your Blog
Obviously it doesn’t matter how wonderful your blog looks if nobody visits your site. The reason I chose to wait until chapter 4 to mention blog traffic is because I want you to understand the importance of having a solid foundation. Before you really starting worrying about getting more visitors, you need to make sure you’ve got something worth visiting. Improve your writing skills and really create a resource, first.
You can build traffic in a variety of ways. We’ll go over guest blogging and how it really does work in a moment. But there are many, many ways. Ultimately, one of your main goals with building traffic is getting your content out there on other websites for people to see, and then building links back to your blog. Another important aspect is blog commenting. Commenting on other blogs isn’t the best way to build traffic, but it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers in your arena, so start finding other similar blogs and start building relationships.
Now let’s go over the basic ways people will get to your blog:
- Search Engine – When someone searches for a specific term or phrase, your website may come up as an option. If you want to rank higher in the search engines, you’ll need to learn a little bit about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how Google ranks websites, but blogging is not all about keywords and writing for robots.
- Referrals – When someone sees a link to your site in an article or on a blogroll and clicks on it, you just received referral traffic. This is some of the most valuable traffic you can get, and it’s relatively easy to get this once you start working on your writing skills.
- Social Media – When someone sees your article on Facebook or Twitter and clicks on it, you just got social media traffic. There are hundreds of places like that to share your content. This is a great source for traffic; however, you really don’t want to count on it as a primary traffic source, because social media websites and algorithms change almost everyday. There are also plenty of tools to automate part of this process.
- Direct Traffic – When someone types your blog URL into their browser, the are going directly to your website. Hence the name, direct traffic. This could be from word-of-mouth advertising or a random business card, but this also includes someone clicking a link in an email, like your newsletter.
There are different views on whether you should primarily write for search engine traffic or social media traffic or referral traffic. I say just write. Become an amazing writer. And then write. Don’t write like a robot to include certain keywords, and don’t write about the hottest topics just to get social media traffic (unless that’s really what you want to do). Write about what you’re passionate about and you’re more likely to stick with it, because traffic doesn’t come overnight.
Content and Traffic
I don’t consider myself an expert on writing viral articles, but I have noticed that people talk about getting 100k views as a huge success, and I’ve had articles get 100k social media shares, which means millions and millions of views. I may not be the authority, but I am, arguably, an authority.
Ramit Sethi says how you’re writing is actually much more important than what you’re writing. William Zinsser says, in On Writing Well, “You can make anything interesting, if you write well enough.” You must have the writing part down before you start trying to build a huge audience. I’ve seen it happen a hundred times where someone’s article goes viral and they get a million views to their blog within a few days. But due to their poor content, only about 20 people stick around for the long haul.
In the end, if you write consistently and well, for a while, it will pay off.
And that doesn’t just mean writing on your own blog.
Guest Blogging for Traffic
One of the most powerful ways to get traffic is by guest blogging. Once your foundation is set in place and you have a great blog for people to see, start guest blogging like crazy. Of course, you’re going to hear about how guest blogging doesn’t work anymore, and how it’s a waste of time. Nonsense. Here’s the deal: guest blogging purely for backlinks on a bunch of spammy blogs with terribly written articles is a waste of time. That has never worked well. If it drives traffic to your blog, it’s not the traffic you want. But guest blogging on reputable websites, whether high profile websites in your niche or multi-topical websites like LifeHack, Huffington Post or Business Insider, guest blogging works.
Guest blogging is a process. You’ll want to write some high quality content for your own blog, and then apply to write for some high profile websites. That will be the basis for your writing portfolio so you can start writing at bigger and bigger websites. It will take time, but it’s worth your while. I promise
Learn From the Experts
I’ve built traffic by doing many different things. Instead of repeating what has already been said by the main authorities in the area of building traffic, I’m going to direct you to some of the resources that really helped me out along the way:
- The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience by Neil Patel and Aaron Agius
- The Advanced Guide to Link Building by Neil Patel and Brian Dean
- The Advanced Guide to SEO by Neil Patel and Sujan Patel
- The Ultimate Guide to Writing Blog Comments by Kevin Duncan
- Guest-Posting on Steroids: A 4 Step Blueprint That the Top Guest Posters Use by Neil Patel
- How to Plan a Blog Post in 10 Minutes So You Can Write it Better and Faster by Jennifer Bourn
I’m not going to link to a million guides and articles. Those six should keep you busy for a while.
Chapter 5: Make Money With Your Blog
This is where it gets interesting. A blog isn’t necessarily a money magnet on its own. You can have 10 million readers and not make a dime. Getting people to your blog and making money from your blog are two totally different topics. You can make next to nothing with a huge audience or you can make a comfortable living with 10,000 readers a month. It has everything to do with how you choose to monetize your blog.
Let’s go over 8 ways to monetize your blog:
This is definitely the most known way to make money with a blog. It’s also starting to become the least common way. You can sell direct advertising spots on your blog or you can sign up with a company like Google AdSense or Media.net. Either way, you won’t see a whole lot of money from ads until you have a serious number of views. You can make money with ads by how many people see your ads (CPI – Cost Per Impression) or from how many people click on the ads (PPC – Pay Per Click) or from how many people follow the link/ad and buy/sign up for the product or service (CPA – Cost Per Action).
This falls into the CPA category for getting paid. There are many affiliate networks, such as FlexOffers and CJ Affiliate that allow you to promote other people’s products and services. I’ll tell you about more affiliate networks in a moment. You simply put a link or a banner on your page and then you get a percentage if someone clicks through and buys the product/service. This is effective and one of my favorite ways to earn. I suggest only linking to products or services you’ve personally used and know are good. The last thing you want to do is damage your reputation.
Many people have created a paid membership area on their blog. This is typically for exclusive content that you can only access in the “member’s area.” If you have a really great idea on what to include, this can be a great idea. Of course, it must be something that people can’t easily find elsewhere on the web for free. One example would be to create a very detailed, professional video series on a subject, and charge a small fee to access all the videos. Another (and more popular) option would be to create a members are with direct access to you through things like webinars. At that point you’re basically selling yourself.
You can create your own product, such as an ebook, film or computer software. You would then use your blog as a promotion tool to get people to buy your product. You don’t have to have an incredible amount of traffic to make this option work. You just need a very good product and an even better system of marketing your product. If you create a seriously awesome product, you’ll want to spend just as much time and money creating a seriously awesome marketing plan for your product. This could be done through your blog and through other avenues.
You can offer a paid service, such as life coaching, blog coaching, goal setting or financial planning. Just be sure to investigate all the legal implications and make sure you’re not claiming to be a professional if you’re not one. Again, you’re selling yourself here. Whatever service you provide, make sure it’s high quality and consistent. If you claim to post an article every Monday and you miss one, it’s not a big deal. However, if someone is paying for a service and you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, you’re going to have trouble.
6. Sponsored/paid posts
There are two very different types of sponsored or paid post to be addressed. One type is where a company will pay you to publish an article about their company or a certain product. This is usually going to be in the form of an article related to their company. For example, a car part company could write an article for your blog about “How to Find Cheap Car Parts Online”, and then they would include a link to their own website, as well as others.
The more legitimate form of this is where you start the post off with a disclaimer that the post was written by the company, and then people expect them to mention their own brand. The more sketchy type of sponsored post is when someone wants you to publish an article under your name and just include a link to a certain website. This is basically the same as selling a link on your blog, which Google is highly against, because it messes up their algorithm. You’ll start seeing a lot of the latter type of offers as you get more and more traffic, but beware! While this can be a highly lucrative form of monetizing your blog, you don’t want to jeopardize your blog or your brand for some money now, when you can be making much more legitimate money down the road. The wait is worth it.
If you think of something valuable (newsletter, online magazine, etc.) that you can consistently offer on a certain basis (weekly, monthly, etc.), you may want to offer a subscription service. This could be a fee charged each time your product is sent out or on a monthly basis. Either way, this has to be something that your customers can only get by subscribing to your website. This is just like magazine subscription services, only digital.
This could be an entire section on it’s own. Many people have made money by creating YouTube videos. Evan of EvanTube is a kid and he has made millions by creating reviews of products that other kids his age would use. It’s not easy to get views into the millions, but once you do, you’ll start seeing some cash come in. Many bloggers have completely turned to videos to get their point across by starting a video blog. Feel free to start an entire video blog (Vlog), but make sure you’re set up to record professional videos. You’ll also want to polish your speaking skills and actually have something worth talking about.
Think of it like this, you’re not really “building a blog,” you’re building an audience. You want your audience to trust you. You want them to feel like you have their best interest in mind, because you should. That’s part of what I love about blogging: you grow your audience and earn more by serving others. Sometimes it’s best to have things in place that help you stick to your plan of serving others to grow your audience, as opposed to self-serving methods. Let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about…
The 10/1 Formula for Sharing
It’s a good idea to have a formula to keep you on track. For example, you could use a 10/1 formula. For social media, that means you share 10 valuable posts from other peoples’ websites to every one of your own posts. For your newsletter subscribers, you could send 10 completely informative, non-profitable emails for every one email asking for something or promoting your product.
If everything you share and send out is to earn you money, people will pick up on that, and it won’t work. At least, not for long. If you truly want a committed audience, be real, be transparent, and serve your audience. That will lead to earnings down the road, but remember, it’s going to take a lot of work before the money starts coming in. But once you do start earning money, it will be some of the most rewarding work you’ve ever done. Not to mention, it will most likely be passive income. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Chapter 6: Plugins, Tools and Resources
I’ve already given you several resources for your blog, but in this chapter, I’m going to organize some of the resources I already mentioned, and list many more resources to help you build your blog. You don’t want to overload your blog with plugins, because that can dramatically decrease loading speeds. However, a few solid plugins won’t affect speed very much, and they can make everything easier for you and your readers.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I think it’s pretty impressive.
I have used most of these plugins. I use several of them now, and others have served me well in the past, but are no longer necessary.
- Adsense Click-Fraud Monitoring – Monitors and prevents malicious clicks on Adsense ads. Could prevent an exclusion from your Google Adsense account.
- Affiliate Link Cloaking – Cloaking your affiliate links and tracking the hits and unique visitors of each link.
- Akismet – Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from spam.
- BackupBuddy – The most complete WordPress solution for Backup, Restoration, Migration, and Deployment. Backs up a customizable selection of files, settings, and content for a complete snapshot of your site. Restore, migrate, or deploy your site to a new host or new domain with complete ease-of-mind.
- Bloom – A simple, comprehensive and beautifully constructed email opt-in plugin built to help you quickly grow your mailing list.
- Clean My Archives – A plugin that displays a full archive of posts by month and year with the “clean-my-archives” shortcode.
- Better Click to Tweet – Add click to tweet boxes to your WordPress posts, easily.
- Google Analytics – This plugin makes it simple to add Google Analytics to your WordPress site, adding lots of features, e.g. error page, search result and automatic outgoing links and download tracking.
- Growmap Anti Spambot – Very simple plugin that adds a client side generated checkbox to the comment form requesting that the user clicks it to prove they are not a spammer. Bots wont see it so their spam comment will be discarded.
- Monarch – An extremely versatile and comprehensive social media plugin with so many different options and ways to display social media share buttons.
- P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) – See which plugins are slowing down your site. Create a profile of your WordPress site’s plugins’ performance by measuring their impact on your site’s load time.
- Pre-Publish Post Checklist – With Pre-Publish Post Checklist, you’ll never have to worry about accidentally publishing a post.
- Pro Categories Widget – Pro Categories Widget plugin.You have choice to specific categories exclude.
- Q2W3 Fixed Widget – Fixes positioning of the selected widgets, when the page is scrolled down.
- Quick Adsense – Quick Adsense offers a quicker & flexible way to insert Google Adsense or any Ads code into a blog post.
- Revive Old Posts – WordPress plugin that helps you to keeps your old posts alive by sharing them and driving more traffic to them from Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. It also helps you to promote your content. You can set time and no of posts to share to drive more traffic.
- RSS Image Feed – RSS Image Feed is not literally producing a feed of images but it adds the first image of the post to the normal feeds of your blog. Those images display even if you have the summary in the feed and not the content.
- S3 Media Storage – Store media library contents onto S3 directly without the need for temporarily storing files on the filesystem/cron jobs. This is more ideal for multiple web server environments.
- Shortcodes Ultimate – Supercharge your WordPress theme with mega pack of shortcodes.
- Sumo – Many free Tools to grow your email list.
- Editorial Calendar – The Editorial Calendar makes it possible to see all your posts and drag and drop them to manage your blog.
- WordPress Popular Posts – WordPress Popular Posts is a highly customizable widget that displays the most popular posts on your blog
- WP Review – Create reviews! Choose from stars, percentages or points for review scores. Supports Retina Display, WPMU and Unlimited Color Schemes.
- WP Super Cache – Very fast caching plugin for WordPress. My caching plugin of choice.
- WP Optimize – This plugin helps you to keep your database clean by removing post revisions and spams in a blaze. Additionally it allows you to run optimize command on your WordPress core tables (use with caution).
- WP PageNavi – Adds a more advanced and elegant paging navigation to your WordPress blog.
- Yoast SEO – The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
Social Media Tools
These are all tools that I either use or have used.
- Buffer – Schedule across multiple platforms.
- Dlvr.It – Schedule and share on multiple platforms.
- Hootsuite – Several social media tools in one tool.
- JustRetweet – Mutual sharing for multiple platforms.
- Status People – Find your fake followers.
- Socialoomph – Scheduling and friend/follower management.
- Tweepi – Another Twitter friend manager.
- TweetDeck – Twitter account management.
- Twiends – Connect with people on Twitter.
- Twitlistmanager – Manage your Twitter lists.
- Twitter Counter – Twitter statistics.
- TwitterFeed – Auto-post your own and friends’ updates.
- Twitter Tools – Exhaustive list of Twitter tools.
These are programs I’ve worked with or currently work with. Flex Offers is my main one.
- Flex Offers
- Amazon Associates
- Commission Junction
- Share A Sale
- iTunes Affiliates
- Affiliate Window
- Max Bounty
More Guides to Make Money Blogging
I’ve chosen to only list the guides I’ve actually read.
- Problogger’s Guide to Starting Your First Blog
- Steve Pavlina’s Guide to Make Money Blogging
- SmartBlogger’s Guide to Make Money Blogging
- Problogger’s Larger Guide to Make Money Blogging
- Project Life Mastery’s Guide to Make Money Blogging
- BONUS: Problogger’s Guide to Making Money With the Amazon Affiliate Program
Books on Blogging
Again, these are all books I’ve actually read and recommend.
- Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett
- How to Make Money Blogging: How I Replaced My Day Job With My Blog by Bob Lotich
- Blog Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit and to Create Community by Joy Cho
Blogging Blogs I Frequent
These are all of the blogs about blogging that I subscribe to.
- Copyblogger – Tips on blogging, writing, and specifically copywriting.
- Elegant Themes Blog – All kinds of blogging topics, and free resources.
- Moz – Great information for marketing your blog.
- OkDork – Noah Kagan’s marketing blog. Very valuable information.
- Problogger – Awesome, practical ideas and tools to grow your blog.
- Quicksprout – Very detailed blogging articles, published often.
- Search Engine Journal – Great information about getting search engine ranking.
- SEO Book – Awesome search engine information.
- Smart Passive Income – Very detailed articles, published occasionally.
- Smartblogger – Long, detailed articles about everything blogging related.
Fight the urge to subscribe to more than about 10 blogs like this. There is enough information on the above blogs to keep you busy for a while, and there is no need to overwhelm yourself with information. Plus, the more you subscribe to, the more you take a chance of getting bad information.
Chapter 7: Ethics and Legal Matters in Blogging
Don’t blow off this chapter. It’s some of the most important information in this entire guide. And it’s not that long!
Ethics in Blogging
I want to briefly touch of the importance of ethics. It’s very important to follow a set of ethics or principles in your blogging. For example, if you decide to accept sponsored posts, or any guest posts on your blog, set principles and guidelines for the contributors. The last thing you want to do is compromise your character, and the character of your brand. For example, if you’re running a fitness and nutrition blog, you wouldn’t want to publish a sponsored post about the importance of daily donut eating, just to make a few bucks from the sponsored post.
People will have to trust you to keep coming back. You never want to lose that trust, so make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons. I’ll tell you right now, if you want to start a blog just to make money, find another side hustle. Blogging isn’t for you. You can create niche sites and make money from advertising, but that is very different from blogging, and from being a respected blogger.
If you want to blog to help others and connect within the blogging community, then you’re doing it for the right reasons. The money will follow if you keep at it, but it’s by no means a quick buck. And when money is your first priority, you won’t produce your best content.
Just make sure you’re blogging respectfully, and for the right reasons. Now on to the legal stuff!
Legal Matters – Disclosures and Policies and Terms, Oh My!
There are some things that you’ll need to add to your blog that may not be as fun as writing, designing and making money with your blog, but they are very important to your long-term success. Let’s address the main six types:
I know, very original names, right?
2. Terms and Conditions
Here are some free terms and conditions generators:
- TermsFeed Terms and Conditions Generator
- Shopify Terms and Conditions Generator
- Terms and Conditions Generator
This would be where you would explain that you are not a professional (unless you are). It’s important to protect yourself, because once you get going, you’ll have a lot of content on your blog. Some of it may even be from other authors, and you don’t want to be held responsible. People understand that reading blogs is a good way to get information, and most people accept the fact that bloggers aren’t certified experts, but cover yourself legally with a disclaimer.
You can view mine here, it’s part of my Terms and Conditions.
4. Affiliate Disclosure
This is exactly what it sounds like: a disclosure of your affiliate partnerships. If you don’t have affiliate partners, don’t worry about this part, but it’s vital if you do have them. You are required by law to have an FTC Affiliate Disclosure if you have any affiliates on your website.
View mine here.
5. Other Disclosures/Disclaimers
Always play it safe and make sure you have all the disclosures you need. Be honest and transparent with people — that’s the only way to have continued success. If your blog involves anything legally, do your research and get the proper disclosures. For example, since I am not a certified financial expert, like a CPA or a CFP, I have to include that in my disclaimer (in my terms).
Copyrighting is protecting your content — your words. Technically, it’s just the process of being able to prove your wrote something first. Once you publish a blog, it is copyrighted to an extent, but if you’re concerned about other people stealing your work, get a professional copyright. Usually you won’t have to go the legal route, because it’s not that big of a deal if people do steal your blog content, and most people give credit where credit is due. Zen Habits is an example of a blog that gives permission to everyone to do what they will with the author’s content. That’s another option, and I don’t see anything wrong with it, unless you’re paranoid.
Stop waiting for a magic guide to do all the work for you. Go out and put what you’ve learned into practice. If you follow this guide, you can be extremely successful as a blogger, but you do have to put in the work. It really is as simple as “write, monetize, put in the work,” but it’s the last part that stops most people. There is so much to learn, and this can all seem overwhelming, so I will leave you with a thought to take the pressure off and get you started:
Start a blog and just start consistently writing to increase your writing skills — that’s what will help you become a successful blogger and a successful writer. Don’t worry about what people think about your writing (unless you’re constructively using the criticism), just start writing to get better. For yourself.
And one more thought:
Stop waiting, get started now; now is always the best time.
Happy blogging! I will see you in the comments below!