Before I get into the logistics of how to start a blog, how to make money with that blog, and most importantly, how to drive traffic to your blog, I first want to point out some things I wished I had known before I started my blog.
Phew. I said blog a lot.
Wherever you’re at in your blogging journey, this post is or you.
Here you are. You want to know how to start, drive traffic to, and monetize your blog.
Perhaps you’ve already started it but need a little direction in how to monetize. Or maybe you’re just in the beginning stages, trying to figure out what you’re going to blog about.
Maybe you’ve long had your blog established but aren’t sure how to drive traffic or make money with it. Or maybe you’re one of those people who just want to blog as a hobby and don’t care as much about making money with it.
Wherever you are in your journey, I’m glad you’re here, and I hope this article will give you some valuable and helpful insight into your blogging journey. But before you read on, make sure you snag my FREE e-course that will walk you through starting a blog from scratch and help you skip all the common mistakes new bloggers make!
In fact, it’s my job to make sure you start going down the right path, skip all the unnecessary mistakes, and start making money immediately.
So after you read this, be sure to check out my Pinterest Traffic Masterclass, all about how to drive TONS of traffic through Pinterest and monetize that traffic.
Now, let me answer some questions you might have.
Is starting a blog profitable?
I started my lifestyle blog, Word From The Bird, in January of 2018. Fast forward to a few years later, and it’s not a SIX-FIGURE business, and I’ve only JUST dipped my hand in the sponsored posts and affiliate marketing game.
But that’s not even at the top of what most successful bloggers are making these days. Forbes suggests online learning and blogging will be a 325 billion dollar industry by 2025. WHAT!?
Think about it. The time we live in is encouraging online learning like never before; it provides more comfortable and more seamless ways of doing it.
Sure, it’s competitive. But later in this post, I’ll explain why it’s never too late to start a blog and why blogging can be done by ANYONE.
Why start a blog?
Starting a blog these days is a popular trend. It seems like everyone wants to do it. And who wouldn’t!?
You can write about something you love, do it from home, and even set it up to be a passive income money generator like I did. And while all of those things become true IF you’re successful, it’s a lot easier said than done to get there.
The influencers and bloggers who are successful have four characteristics that lay the foundation for their success.
- selflessness (putting your audience first)
- hard work and time
- genuine, honest, and real
The most important thing you’ll ever learn about branding and blogging
Once you start your blog, you will need to brand yourself. Successfully branding yourself is a lot harder than one might think.
And while I can take you through the exact process that brings me tons of traffic per month in my Pinterest Trafic Masterclass, you will first have to face the cold hard truth.
If you want to make money with blogging, you need to think of it as a job, just like any other.
Let’s say you’re the salesperson for that job. You need to find a way to sell your product; otherwise, your business will flop, right? The same goes for blogging. And what’s the most important thing to know about selling?
You want to put your customer (audience) first. Always.
Being an influencer or blogger should never be about YOUR ego.
If you sell your brand without first considering your audience, you will only be seen as a narcissistic salesperson.
But if you begin to think selflessly and humbly, like, “what can I do for my readers to help them?” You will most likely be successful, and your audience will keep coming back for more.
If you want to make it with blogging, you need to realize that your audience comes FIRST, that things will take time, and that failing is pretty much a given. In fact, I encourage you to fail. We all learn our best lessons from failing. So welcome it with open arms, and don’t take it personally.
So many times, when I was about to give up, it was at the tail end of a big FAIL. But had I not pushed through the hardships, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
If you remember ANYTHING from this post, remember this — find your perfect audience, give them what they want, and do it genuinely to you and your values. Being honest will always be your most valuable asset.
Is it too late to start a blog?
I remember asking myself this same question when I first started. Is it even worth it? It seemed like EVERYONE was starting a blog, and not only that, there were SO many bloggers out there doing it successfully. Where could I fit in?
Another valuable tidbit of info I’ve received in this business is that there will always be someone doing something you’re doing, but that should never stop you.
Why? Think of it this way.
Let’s say the founder of ZARA didn’t start their business because there was already H&M, Forever 21, Old Navy, etc. So many other companies were already doing what they wanted to do, so why bother?
But even though many companies offer similar clothing, there is only one ZARA.
In my mind, ZARA and H&M are almost the same company. Heck, throw Forever 21 in, and there are probably hundreds more that I don’t know about because I’m not a fashion guru. But guess what? They are ALL successful. They wouldn’t be in business if they weren’t.
The same goes for blogging.
You will always have something different and unique to offer because there is only one you. And as you might be doing the same thing as someone else, it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in it.
A great perspective I always remind myself to have is this: Don’t use your platform to tell everyone else how to be like you. Use it to educate, help, and encourage others in a way that benefits them. Do you see the difference?
No one likes a know-it-all who forces their opinions down your throat. They like someone who is genuinely wanting to help them.
I guarantee, if you come into this game with that mindset, you will offer something that a TON of influencers don’t — humility and kindness.
Why starting a lifestyle blog should be the first blog you start
If I would have started out blogging about blogging, I would literally have no idea what I was talking about.
But because of my experience in starting a successful lifestyle blog, I now have a bit of street cred, as well as the evidence to back up my strategy, which is why I created my Pinterest Traffic Masterclass. That’s why this blog about blogging is my second blog.
Starting a lifestyle blog is a great way to start, and here’s why.
What’s cool is, I didn’t start out writing about only those things. I also tried my hand at writing about traveling abroad (I was living in Germany at the time), food and recipes, beauty, health, and fitness.
Most advice you will hear out there is that you need to pick one niche from the get-go, and go with it. But I approached it a bit differently.
I first covered ALL the bases and then waited to see what resonated with my audience on Pinterest. In my case, it turned out to be marriage, parenting, personal development, and family life.
I still dabble my hand in other topics, but I hone in those specific ones.
I would have never found out what worked for me, had I not tested the waters.
After the first initial, “finding my voice,” I THEN narrowed down on my audience.
Some people do it differently. They know exactly what they want to write about, who their audience is, and go with it. That’s fine, too!
I can only speak from my own personal experience. But if you know your target audience from the get go, then props to that!
But let me caution you. Sometimes, with narrowing your niche from the beginning, you can become inflexible.
Have a flexible mindset when starting a blog is a MUST. In fact, you should have this mindset throughout your entire journey.
I can’t tell you how many missed opportunities I would have had I not been open to change. Be willing to evolve with your opportunities and adapt to the changes.
Sometimes, we start something and realize it’s just not what people want, and that’s OKAY.
My whole motto is about working SMART — skipping all the heavy lifting, thinking long term, and not getting caught up on the fails.
Beginning with a lifestyle blog gives you a little wiggle room for finding your perfect audience, which is what you’ll quickly learn as being the most important thing with blogging, even when starting your social media following.
A lifestyle blog is also more attainable for most people, especially if you don’t have specific skillsets that you can write about. Lifestyle blogs are mostly about life experience, or what you’re passionate about — therein lies the beauty of them.
I was never educated in parenting, but I’m a parent. I was never educated about traveling, but I love to travel. I was never educated in cooking, but I love to cook. See what I mean?
Other blogs, like financial blogs, you have to have a certain amount of education for those to do well. I, for one, would be a horrible financial blogger.
The word “budget” makes me gag, and I’ve never been good at saving money. But if you’re aim is to write about finance because you’re a banker or financial adviser, then starting a lifestyle blog wouldn’t be for you. In this case, you have your audience; now, you just need to find out what they need.
How to drive TONs of traffic using Pinterest
Last year was my biggest year yet. I had over 6 million page views to my site, without hardly any Google traffic. How? Pinterest. Check it out.
Pinterest is like Google but uses images to capture people’s attention instead of titles or the grueling process of SEO. If you’re alive, you’ve probably used or at least heard of Pinterest.
Pinterest has over 450 MILLION users per month and continues to grow. It’s an incredible free resource for bloggers to get traffic to their site and FAST. Google and SEO game is more of a long term game that includes dubious amount of patience.
You should be educated on it, even from the get-go. BUT it will take a while. Sometimes it takes up to 32 weeks for google to even know a single blog post is out there. So yeah, before you go writing articles, you should at least know the basics when it comes to SEO so that you can set your articles up for future success in the long term Google game. But if you want immediate traffic? Pinterest can be a huge asset, especially for lifestyle bloggers.
In my Pinterest Traffic Masterclass, I’ll give you in-depth insight on how to get immediate traffic to your blog because that’s exactly what I did with mine.
Remember when I said I tried my hand in many different lifestyle niches and blog posts to see which one stuck? I did it with pins.
I would create a pin that had to do something with my post, using a creative and captivating description, and then linked it to my blog. Although there’s a TON of “how-to” info within that process, all of which I cover in my Masterclass, that’s a general idea.
Take my friend Jaimee for example. She started an adoption/parenting blog. Within TWO MONTHS, she got her monthly pageviews up to 30K using my method. This enabled her to sign up for Mediavine to get ads on her site, and she started making money right away!
Here’s her testimonial.
“Hillary not only helped me set up my blog and get started, she showed me how to get traffic to my blog with Pinterest. Within a month of implementing her strategies, I was able to sign up for Mediavine ad publisher and start getting ad income!”
Check out Jaimee’s blog, Hope in Affliction.
There are many bloggers out there claiming to know how to utilize Pinterest best, but don’t have the evidence to prove it.
Head on over to my lifestyle blog’s Pinterest account and take a look for yourself. My monthly viewers range anywhere from 7 million to 12 million monthly viewers!
Learn more about the Pinterest Traffic Masterclass.
Why do most blogs fail?
Here’s the thing. You will read a lot of success stories with blogging. If someone fails, they don’t necessarily want to talk about it, hence the lack of articles written about how a blog failed.
But what you need to know about the blogging game is that it doesn’t just appear out of nowhere.
Until I really started to make an effort, put in the time, and do the things I was taught, I didn’t reap any of the rewards. At the same time, what works for someone else might not work for you. It’s important to be patient, flexible, and understand that good things come with time, research, and education.
When you don’t consider that, your blog most likely won’t make it. Think of it as starting a business—one that doesn’t pay you until months, even years after.
But the crazy thing is, in my masterclass, I teach you how to skip all the unnecessary, heart-breaking, time-consuming efforts that I could have easily avoided.
Another aspect of why blogs fail is that their content simply isn’t good.
Great content will drive a great audience. If you’re not a writer, blogging most likely won’t work in your favor. But the good thing about that is, you can always learn!
I’ve seen PLENTY of mediocre writers doing well in this business because they kept learning. The point I’m making here is, you’ll be MORE successful if you’re a good writer.
That doesn’t mean you need to know grammar like a teacher who got their masters in English. Grammarly is a great way around that.
It simply means you need to write in a way that relates to your audience while also being yourself.
The best way to do this? Write about something you are passionate about; that way, it doesn’t feel forced.
Please comment below if you have ANY questions. I check my comments often, and no question is stupid.
People Who Make Money With Their Blog Do These 5 Things First
Find your audience and create a vision board
One of the most important things to do BEFORE you get to the technical stuff is to find your niche by creating a vision board.
I always tell my clients that even if they want to write under the “lifestyle” umbrella, it’s important they don’t spread themselves too thin. You can do this by making a vision board or, in my case, a “keyword spreadsheet” that narrows down my plan of action.
Figure out which website and webhost platforms are best for you
Before you start your blog, you’re going to want to research which platform works best for your blog — WordPress or something like Squarespace. There are even a lot of boutique-style sites like Tonicsiteshop.com.
Many of these questions of who to go with are answered best after you decide what you want your blog to do, look like, and how much knowledge you have in building a website.
Here’s how I would break it down.
I started with Squarespace as a newbie but later switched to WordPress. (I wouldn’t recommend this).
Even though Squarespace served its purpose for me (it’s user friendly AND very chic) and was affordable, it had its limits. Once I hit those high numbers in traffic, my site was too slow to keep up so, I had to switch.
Here is what Squarespace is and how it can benefit you.
WordPress is for those who are willing to learn a little about site-building or already have some knowledge. What’s great is that if you use a plugin like Elementor alongside WordPress, it’s a lot easier to use than to implement code and all that jazz. WordPress is the least expensive because you can choose which web-host to have and a predesigned template.
You can always hire a developer to help you set up your site, or use a boutique-style site builder like Tonicsiteshop.com
They are an amazing company that can give you a predesigned template or build one specifically for you — this is an option for those of you who can afford something a bit pricier.
Find Your Traffic Source
Figuring out what traffic source to cater to will often only come with figuring out where your audience hangs out, which depends on what niche you choose.
Pinterest traffic is best for those with a lifestyle blog – travel, family, food, decor, beauty, health, etc. It is also useful for finance bloggers and is quickly becoming known for more topics, especially as more men are beginning to use it every year.
Google traffic can be utilized for anything, but I’m finding that for me as a parenting and marriage blogger, Pinterest is my jam.
Another course of traffic is from social media platforms, but those used more by influencers. I always struggle to find time for social media, so this has never been my strong suit. I’ve taken MANY courses and have a lot of knowledge about it, but I lack the time to juggle it all.
Again, playing the field in all of these is the only way you’ll know what works for you, but make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin. My focus has always been Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Google is slowly becoming a contender, but nothing compared to Pinterest.
If you think Pinterest is a solid contender, I would recommend learning more about my course, which will teach you the strategies I use to get 300,000 – 1 million readers per month to my blog lifestyle blog.
Every successful blogger has a reliable brand associated with their name. But branding yourself often comes with time, and being flexible in the beginning is a must.
I always think of beginning your blog and brand, like learning how to paint. You will first learn the basics and technical language, but then figuring out your style and medium will come with practice and time.
It’s the same with branding. Make sure you start with something tangible, cohesive, and narrow, but be flexible to change. Your audience is always the most important factor, so adhering to what they want while also staying true to who you are is where the sweet spot lies.
Organize your game plan
Like I’ve talked a LOT about in this post, having a game plan and long term goals will help you narrow down your visions and not draw too much outside of the lines. I know I keep repeating myself on this, but if I’ve learned one thing from my journey, it’s to not do too much at once.
This can be said for everything.
Coming up with a game plan can look as simple as something like this:
- Blogging Niche – Cocktail Queen
- Figure out the platform – WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, etc.
- Brand yourself – logo, font, image, colors, tone of voice, etc.
- Research your best traffic source – Pinterest, Google, etc.
- Find associated affiliates (sometimes more beneficial when you do this later on in the game)
- Create free email opt-in course – 5 things every mixologist needs in their pantry
- Sell a short ebook either as a freebie (I wouldn’t recommend) or at a low cost – How to set up the perfect speakeasy party, with 30 vintage cocktail recipes included.
- Create a master course to sell – Become the ultimate mixologist with expert tips and a 1 hr one-on-one zoom sesh with me.
Your prices can range based on your expertise and content.
Something as simple as that can help you pave the way to being successful.
I hope these tips will offer you some helpful insight into your blogging journey. Remember, starting and monetizing a blog isn’t easy and takes time, patience, and a TON of research. If you’re interested in having someone hold your hand, walk you through the process, so you don’t have to go through the long and grueling process, then check out my Masterclass!
I know I keep mentioning it, but I promise you it will be worth your time and money! See you soon!
Oh, and please feel free to comment below with any questions or insights. I am checking these often, so I am more than willing to help where I can! Or, if you’d prefer, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll get back to you ASAP!