I am writing this Blogging for Beginners FAQ's because starting a blog as a business is not an easy thing to do.
If you are not familiar with the blogging world, it can be hard to wrap your head around how it all works and how bloggers make money doing what they do.
Let's start with the basics –
What is a blog?
A blog is a collection of articles that show up on a website in chronological order.
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How is a blog different from a website?
The lines between blogs and websites have blurred over the years. Platforms like WordPress or Squarespace allow you to have both – static pages and blog pages.
A static page is a stand alone piece of content whereas a blog post is an article that shows up on a blog page and can also be organized by categories and tags.
A website can consist of several pages – Home, About, Contact, and also a Blog Page (which contains all of the blog posts).
What people find confusing is that each post is also a standalone page – when you click the headline on a post, you are usually taken to a webpage that has all the content for that post only.
The biggest difference is really on the backend. The blogger can either write a post or page in their blogging platform. If they create a post, it will also appear in the chronological list of posts on their blog page. If they create a standalone page – it will not appear in the rolling list on a blog page.
More about this: What is the difference between a blog and a website?
Why should I start a blog?
No matter what your age, a blog is a great way to start a side hustle and make money from home.
Blogging is not just for millennials and computer savvy individuals.
I, myself, am in a completely different stage of life. I have four children – my oldest is in his early twenties and my youngest is a teenager.
For me, paying for four college educations is a reality right now – and retirement is looming ahead. Even though I don't make a full-time income from my blog yet, the income that I do make is helpful.
Money, of course, should not be your only reason for blogging but should be a goal.
Other reasons for starting a blog include:
- sharing your knowledge and passion with the world
- establishing yourself as an expert in your field
- using it as a marketing tool for your local business (here are 5 reasons every business needs a blog)
- expressing your creativity
- helping others
More about this: Why owning a website is better than social media.
Do I need strong technical skills to be a blogger?
In a nutshell, yes you do but no you don't. But if you are not strong technically – it is NOT a deal breaker.
Hear me out.
What you really need to start a successful blog is a willingness to learn.
Technology can be intimidating – especially to people of, ahem – a certain age like me, who weren't raised with it. But the reality is that the world is run by technology. You can either sit in the dark ages and let it pass you by or you can jump in and learn as you go.
The technical skills that you learn through blogging will help you in every other aspect of your life.
Blogging platforms are so much easier to use than ever before.
The bottom line is that blogging software is very similar to a word processor but you will need to:
- learn a little bit of code (don't be intimidated, you can pick it up as you go along)
- work with digital images – resizing, cropping, adding text overlays etc.
- do some troubleshooting every now and then, especially with hosting especially on a starter plan like those from Bluehost (you can avoid some of the typical hosting hassles by choosing managed WordPress hosting like BigScoots but it will cost more)
More about this: How to choose the right WordPress hosting for your blog
What will I blog about?
If you have a specialized skill or passion – that is a good place to start.
There are tons of brainstorming activities that you can do to narrow down the scope of your website.
But if you plan to make money from your website – you should evaluate how monetizable your topic is.
- Are people looking for the information that you write about?
- Are people willing to pay for information, products, and services that are related to the topic that you blog about?
More about this:
- How to Choose a Topic for Your Blog
- 5 Places to Find Content Ideas For Your Blog
- Should I Start More Than One Blog?
How do bloggers make money?
Bloggers generally make money from:
- direct advertising or ad networks
- affiliate marketing
- sponsored posts/working with brands
- selling their own products or services
More about this:
How much money can I make with my blog?
This is the million dollar question – and some bloggers actually do make millions of dollars.
Just a Clarification
When I am talking about blogging here, I am talking about traditional blogging. This means writing articles on your blog about a particular topic, that appeal to your readers.
I am not talking about “internet marketing” – meaning doing webinars, or summits, or any myriad of other internet marketing techniques.
Yes, you might end up using these techniques to build traffic to your blog – but actual blogging is what I cover here.
How much money do bloggers make?
So getting back to the original question – I have found that in the beginning, the answer depends on website traffic.
It is quite logical. People need to come to your website and interact with your links, your content, your advertising etc.
You can have the greatest site in the world – but if no one shows up, then no one is buying and no one is clicking. Make sense?
How much website traffic do I need to make money?
There is no standard answer to this. It depends on the value of what you offer and what your commissions or profit margins are.
However, as a rule of thumb for an “average” blogger – I would say you need at least 10,000 pageviews per month to start seeing some regular monthly income – probably under $1,000 per month at this traffic level.
As you get closer to 30,000 pageviews per month you will see good traction and also be able to partner with some ad networks.
By the time you hit 100,000 pageviews making money should be easier for two reasons:
- your traffic level is good
- because you are making money, you can reinvest back into your business (hiring help, purchasing products and services that make blogging easier)
More about this:
How long does it take to get traffic?
Blogging is not an overnight success story. It takes a long time to get established online. You need to
- Publish good content consistently
- Understand the principles of search engine optimization
- Network with other bloggers
- Learn how to use social media
Just like an offline business, people want to know that you are the real deal before they start to trust. Building that trust takes time.
The best path is to show up every day and do your job, consistently.
Because it takes so long to establish yourself, you should start a blog when you don't necessarily need a steady income from it. Start your blog on the side when you are staying home with your kids, or while you still have a full-time job that pays the bills.
How much time does blogging take on a weekly basis?
If you want to create a business from your blog, you need to work it.
You need time to plan (use an editorial calendar), create content, create graphics, share your work, and build relationships.
At a minimum, you need to set aside 10 hours per week. But honestly, you really need to put in more time than that.
The more time you put in, the more you get out.
“Work smarter not harder” works for here, too – but blogging for beginners is different. You need to put in the time up front so you spread your brand and your name.
How much does blogging cost?
People will tell you that blogging is one of the cheapest businesses to start. You don't have rent to pay or furniture to buy.
But blogging is not free by any means.
On WordPress, you will need to buy a hosting plan and a WordPress theme. On Squarespace you will pay the monthly fee. This is at a minimum.
Beyond this, there are costs for
- your email service provider
- blogging courses
- premium plugins
- stock photos
- social media schedulers
- setting up your business legally
You may not need to get everything at once, but as your blog grows you will start to assess your needs.
Here is a summary of some of the more common blogging costs.
What is the best platform for blogging?
In all honesty – there are only two platforms that I really like for blogging:
- Self-hosted WordPress (my preference)
- and Squarespace
Please educate yourself on the differences before you start.
First, know that there is a difference between self-hosted WordPress.org and WordPress.com. They are not the same thing!
Second, know that there is a learning curve with self-hosted WordPress – it has a lot of moving parts:
- WordPress hosting
- your domain name
- WordPress theme and maybe even a child theme
- the email associated with your domain
- your own email service provider
By far, self-hosted WordPress offers you the most flexibility by way of plugins – but you have to do regular maintenance, or at least be familiar with what needs to be done.
If you are looking for cheapWordPress hosting – my favorite hosting by far is Bluehost.
While self-hosted WordPress is by far my favorite blogging platform, I recognize that WordPress is not for everyone.
When it comes to blogging for beginners, a decent option for those that don't want to go the WordPress route is Squarespace. Keep in mind that it is not as flexible as self hosted WordPress, but all of the behind the scenes work is managed by Squarespace itself. So you can focus on creating content.
I have a few clients on Squarespace and my advice was – if the complexity of WordPress is keeping you from blogging at all, then just use Squarespace and get started.
However, I do feel that Squarespace is a better choice for brick and mortar business as opposed to people that want to make their blog their business.
A third option that is generally more costly than a shared hosting account is managed WordPress.
This is still considered self-hosted (NOT WordPress.com) but the hosting company actually maintains all of the updates to your WordPress platform.
I use BigScoots managed WordPress hosting for this site and I have been very happy with them.
How do I get started blogging – what do I do first?
Well, I hope that I have answered many of your questions about the world of blogging.
Blogging takes time but it can be both rewarding and lucrative.
If you are ready to take the next step, both of these articles should help you:
- WordPress Tutorials to help you build your blog
- What is Email Marketing? A Simple Guide To Start Winning at Email
Your Questions to Add to This Blogging For Beginners FAQ
If you still have questions about starting a blog – please do ask in the comments below.
Recommended Blogging Resources
If you don't have your own website yet, use some of these resources to get started:
- Bluehost WordPress Hosting – get cheap WordPress hosting for as little as $3.95 per month for your first year
- Picmonkey Online Photo Editor – Take the FREE Trial
- The Genesis Framework and StudioPress Themes for WordPress – SEO friendly and powerful WordPress themes with great customer support
- Restored316 Designs – beautiful feminine WordPress themes that run on Genesis