Use the right resources, get the right results
Everyone wants to make money online.
Imagine waking up in the morning, opening your laptop and seeing that you made hundreds of dollars overnight.
Some people think making a living from the internet is just a pipe dream, but it’s a real possibility.
You can turn a possibility into a probability by following the right steps and using the best resources.
Whether you want to earn six figures a month or just enough to quit your job and travel the world, the first step is the same – just get started (siteground affiliate link).
This guide will teach you how to build a blog that can make money, all while avoiding the mistakes I made when I first started. You don’t need any crazy technical knowledge to start a website – it’s all here in this guide.
The 3 Things You Need
The great thing about blogging is it’s super easy to get started. All you need is a computer, internet access, and $60 for your startup costs (domain and hosting).
I think blogging is the best business in the world, some people think this is a crazy idea but I genuinely believe it.
How many businesses can you start for $60? It’s a tiny startup cost and you can get paid thousands of dollars per month by writing words. The reason it works so well is because of scale. There are millions of people on the internet
You’ll make most of your money through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is when you recommend a product and a reader makes a purchase through your link. You get paid for referrals who buy products you recommend.
This part is easy, the next part is where people make a big mistake.
Be An Authority
A lot of the so called “experts” recommend you start a niche blog. This advice is dead wrong, it may have worked 10 years ago but not anymore. People want to read blogs written by someone who is an authority on a subject.
All you have to do is choose a subject you are passionate and knowledgeable about. Choose a wide subject so you will have plenty to write about. These wide subjects are called verticals, as opposed to narrow niches.
- Health and Fitness
- Drugs and Alcohol
- Politics, Safety, and Crime
- Sex and Relationships
- Business and Finance
- Home and Garden
In each of these verticals there are billions of dollar being spent every day. More importantly they are subjects that people will always care about. They are evergreen meaning they aren’t flavor of the month ideas, when you build your blog in one of these verticals it can last forever.
Remember you are building a blog to make money. There are so many people interested in these subjects it’s easy to find passionate readers, and you will never run out of ideas to write about.
Choosing A Domain Name
Your domain name is the address for your website. Since your domain name is how people will recognize your website it’s important to pick a domain name you like. You can pick any domain name that isn’t already taken – but I recommend you consider the following rules of thumb.
- No numbers or hyphens. The best practice is to not use numbers or hyphens in a domain name. They make it harder to remember and harder for a user to type into their browser.
- Choose a brandable domain. A brandable domain is a domain that you could turn into a real business and brand. Think of the difference between starting a domain called calvinklein.com vs. deluxmenswear.com.
- Stick to .com extension. People choose alternative extensions because the .com version is already taken. If the .com version of a domain you want is taken, you should consider chooseing a different domain name.
Buying Your Domain
To buy your domain name you need to use a registrar. There are a lot of domain registrars but the best is NameCheap. They have a very simple interface, on their homepage you simply search the domain you want, add the domain to your cart, and buy it.
NameCheap has competitive prices and 2 key features that are shown in the image below.
- Free WhoisGuard
- Domain Auto-Renew
WhoIs is a free online database where anyone can access information about a website and its owner, whether it be an individual or a company. This information will be stored in current and historical WhoIs records – your name, address, telephone number, email address and physical address.
WhoIsGuard protects your personal information and Namecheap provides this service for free. The domain auto-renew feature ensures your domain doesn’t expire at the end of one year. This will save you a world of pain and it’s also free. I highly recommend you keep WhoIsGuard and Domain Auto-Renew turned on for the duration of time you have your domain.
Web hosting is the service that makes your website accessible on the World Wide Web. Web hosts provide space on a server for individuals and companies. There are a thousands of hosting companies – it’s incredibly important you choose a reputable company, the best web hosting for beginners and intermediate bloggers is Siteground. They have excellent customer service, a very simple setup interface, and a free SSL certificate (added security) and many other great features.
You will want to use a shared web hosting service. There are different types of hosting and Siteground allows you to upgrade later on if you need more server space. I will explain step by step how to build your website, but if you need assistance the staff at Siteground are great.
Siteground has excellent customer service, if you need help setting up your website or have general questions, they will always be there to help you out.
The Startup plan is the best to start with. Select “Get Started” and you will be redirected to a page to enter the domain you bought from NameCheap. Then on the next page you input your personal and payment information.
Once you have your domain and hosting, you need to connect them so that your website works properly.
Connecting Your Domain and Hosting
Connecting your domain and hosting is not hard, but it can feel confusing the first time you do it. If you follow this guide step by step you should have no issues. If you do get confused, you can reach out to Siteground support staff. That’s one of the bonuses of having hosting with a reputable company.
- Log in to your Siteground account and click on the tab called “Manage Account”.
- Click on the tab called “Information & Settings”
- The second option reads “Account DNS” and includes the information about your two nameservers, they should look like this: ns1.siteground###.com & ns2.siteground###.com
- Log in to your Namecheap account and click “Domain List”
- To the right of your domain click click the box that says “Manage”
- The 4th section will say “NameServers”
- Input your information
- On the dropdown bar select “Custom DNS”
- On the two dotted lines below copy and paste BOTH your name servers
Now you will need to wait for the nameservers to update. Apparently this can take up to 48 hours (so they say), but usually only takes a few hours. Once the name servers update you will have a fully functioning (albeit empty) website!
While you are waiting for your nameservers to update let’s introduce you to your new best friend as a blogger – WordPress.
You are going to want to install a content management system (CMS), they allow you to easily create, add, modify and delete content on your website without adding a bunch of code yourself. I recommend using WordPress, this is the most widely used CMS on the internet and it powers 28% of websites. For a small business or personal website, it is the best and easiest way to create the meat and potatoes of your website.
With Siteground there is a very simple way to install WordPress. Under “MyAccounts” select the orange button that says “Go to cPanel”. Then click on the WordPress icon under the AutoInstallers section.
This is an autoinstaller, but you still must make a few selections. This includes things like your URL structure, site name, site description, username and password. These are all easy to change in the future, with the exception of your URL structure. This is the format of the addresses of different posts on your website.
I recommend you choose the post name setting. This is the format most successful bloggers use, it’s the easiest for readers to understand, and share.
Creating An Email Account
You will want to create an email associated with the website you create. This can be easily done with your website’s cPanel . Under the heading “Mail” click the option called “Email Accounts”. This will bring you to a very simple interface to create an email account.
You can then connect your website’s to your primary email address so you can send and receive emails from ONE inbox. This can be more convenient than using multiple inboxes. Simply Google “Connect Siteground email to MyEmailProvider” and include your email service (e.g. Gmail) in the place of MyEmailProvider.
I recommend you choosing one of the following email formats for your website’s email:
Choosing A WordPress Theme
When you install WordPress it comes with a default theme. This theme is okay but a ton of websites have it because it’s a default option and it’s free, you know how people are with free stuff.
Your WordPress theme determines the look of your website. You can either go with a free WordPress theme or a premium WordPress theme. Since you are blogging for profit, I highly recommend you choose a premium theme.
You are building an online business so investing $50-$100 on a beautiful web design for your site will be worth it. It will increase the authority of your website, build the trust of your readers, and increase your profits.
If you decide to use a premium theme I highly suggest you pick a theme from StudioPress. They create very high-quality themes that are ready to use and optimized for search engines, I recommend you look at their websites and the themes they have for sale. Take a look at the three StudioPress themes below, they are all great options for bloggers.
Three of my favourite StudioPress themes
“Form and function converge at Eleven40 to create a look that will draw your readers in no matter what device they are on. The intelligent design of Eleven40 incorporates mobile-responsive flexibility and HTML5 to deliver the right look at the right time.”
Description from the Eleven40 detail page on the StudioPress website.
”Presenting Metro, a modern magazine-style layout built on an optimized mobile responsive platform. The spacious frame highlights your online publishing for a wide-screen world, and the sleek social features will help to build your audience fast.”
Description from the Metro Pro Theme detail page on the StudioPress website.
“Put yourself on the front lines of online publishing with the up-to-the-minute, high-gloss look and feel of the Magazine theme. Your online features never looked better than with the versatile layouts and media-ready design of the Magazine theme. A stylish frame speaks volumes about the publisher.
Description from the Magazine Theme Pro detail page on the StudioPress website.
StudioPress themes are built for SEO (search engine optimization), mobile responsive (massively important), and are easily to customize with several layout options to add your own style to the theme you choose. They are well tested and sold by a company with a great reputation in the industry.
Unfortunately there are a lot of marketplaces (even some of the biggest and most frequently recommended) that sell poorly made themes. A WordPress theme that was slapped together haphazardly can slow down your website or even inject malicious code that leaves your website vulnerable to hackers. Studiopress can’t take this chance, they need to sell good themes or they risk their immaculate reputation.
Essential WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins are applications you can install to your website to add certain functionality. There are thousands of free and paid plugins. I have only included free plugins that I believe are essential to starting an affiliate marketing website.
Akismet – The best anti-spam plugin on WordPress. Without Akismet your website will begin to look like a spam warzone.
UpDraftPlus – The world’s highest-rated and most installed WordPress backup plugin. Updraft Plus allows you to schedule automatic backups of your WordPress website to Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive.
Yoast SEO – The best free SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plugin.
Contact Form 7 – This can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. Contact Form 7 supports CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and more.
SG Optimizer – This plugin will link your WordPress website with all the performance optimizations provided by SiteGround. This plugin can add SSL security to your website (essential) and can make your site load faster with caching. Check out Siteground’s official SG Optimizer Tutorial.
Mailchimp for WordPress – This will make it easier to add a Mailchimp email signup for for your website.
Setting Up An Email Newsletter
A huge mistake people make when starting an affiliate marketing website is not collecting emails from day 1. You will want to have an email newsletter that is extremely easy for people to signup for. I recommend having a signup form on your homepage and in a sidebar on your website. Adding an incentive to signup is also helpful, e.g. a free ebook or guide about something in your vertical.
The best email newsletter service for beginners is Mailchimp. They are free for up to 2,000 subscribers on your list. You can set up your Mailchimp email newsletter with your website’s email address “email@example.com”.
Once you have signed up for Mailchimp configure your settings and design your email template. Then go into your settings and find your API key. Go into your settings for Mailchimp for WordPress plugin and paste your API key. Now you can make signup forms that are easily built into your WordPress site.
This article provided you with all the resources you need to start a blog that is on the path to financial success. I can’t overestimate the importance of building a blog where you write articles in a wide vertical rather than in a narrow niche. Learn to think like a marketer, make your first affiliate commission, and start paving the road to financial freedom.