The other day I got an email from Meg, a reader of MoneyPantry, wanting to know how she could start a free blog to make money with.
As many of you guys, Meg is just looking for a way to make some extra money on the web, and after hearing about profitability of blogging, she decided to start a blog.
But she doesn’t want to invest any money into it, yet.
She wants to make sure she can make money with a blog before she invests any money into buying her own domain name and paying for a professional hosting account.
I completely understand that!
In fact, if you read this post where I share 100 ways of making money online for free, you will find out that I actually started my blogging carrier with a free blog I had built using Blogger (also known as BlogSpot).
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I did not have even an extra $20 to get a domain and a hosting account. Plus, I just did not know if I could make any money from the blog, so I wanted to do it for free to test the waters.
By the way, later on, that same free blog become BlogStash.com, a blog that helped me make over $100,000 in 2 years or so.
Anyway, I wrote a long and detailed answer to Meg. And as I hit the “send” button, I realized this could be useful for hundreds of other readers on MoneyPantry.
So, I decided to publish it as a short guide to starting your first blog for free and making money with it.
What will I learn?
Step 1: Building the Blog
1. Topic Selection
There is no restriction on the kind of topics for your blog – you can boast about your lavish lifestyle, write products reviews, brainstorm ideas, observe news or financial market, or share jokes and photos.
But if your intent is to monetize your blog, you must choose a profitable topic and your content must serve the interest of others.
This is the only way to be assured of traffic to your blog.
Perhaps topic selection is the trickiest part in starting the whole blog.
Some things to keep in mind as you pick the topics:
- The topic is something you have deep knowledge or great expertise on
- The topic is something that interests you deeply
- A ready and perhaps captive audience for the topic
- The topic has an universal appeal
- Your content could add value to whatever that were written previously
- The topic allows room for discussion; it is not meant to be dead end
- You can build a community with the topic
2. Write a Few Articles
Once you have got your topic picked, it’s time to write a few articles for your blog. I suggest writing at least 10 articles so you can publish 1 a day for the first 10 days.
From then on, you can write more and publish either daily or a few times a week.
The best advice I can give you about the style of your writing is to make it personal. Write as if you are talking to your readers face to face.
As you write more and more, you’ll find/develop your own voice and style of writing that will help you stand out from the rest.
Once you have your 10 starter articles ready, it’s time to get your blog.
2. Setup Your Free Blog
Setting up a blog is a breeze nowadays.
There are plenty of services to choose from and most of them would host your blogs for a fee while allowing you to make money.
Some samples of popular free blogging platforms:
Since I personally used Blogger to build my first free blog, I’ll explain how to do build yours through Blogger as well.
That said, the process is pretty much the same for almost any blogging platform you choose.
Creating your blog in Blogger.com
Setting up a blog hosting account here involves 3 easy steps :
- 1.Create an account
Display name : (What you like to be known to others reading your blog posts)
(One account can link to multiple blogs)
- 2.Name your blog
Blog title (Enter a title for your blog.) Example: The Diary of a Boring Old Man
Blog address (URL) : yourblogname.blogspot.com
- 3.Choose a template
Pick from a list of ready-made templates for your blog. (It is fuss-free to change the template later, and you could even incorporate your own custom-built template once your blog is set up.)
Congrats! You have successfully created your first blog completely free.
4. Publish Your First Post
Blogger.com will then take you to the composing page. Trust me, composing a blog post is no more difficult than composing an email.
Pour your heart out, tweak further if it is necessary and when Click Publish Post button when you are perfectly happy with the content.
To have a flavor on how your Blog looks, click the ‘View Blog’ tab.
If further enhancement is required, you can easily make changes. Or you can add new posts to your blog.
You have just become the latest entrant to the Blogosphere.
5. Keep Updating Your New Blog
From that point on, your job is to keep your blog updated with fresh and useful content.
Having lots of (useful and quality) content on your blog increases the likelihood of your posts ranking in the search engines like Google, thus driving more traffic to your site.
You can also take advantage of social media to promote your new blog and drive traffic to it.
It is worth mentioning that promoting your blog is a never-ending project. If you want to be successful, you have to constantly promote your blog.
Step 2: Making Money with it
Once your blog starts to receive a few hundred visitors a day, you can begin to think about monetizing your blog.
Here are a few ways in which you can monetize your blog:
1. Contextual Ads
There are many different ways you can make money with your blog which I cover below, but the easiest and most newbie-friendly way is Google Adsense and other contextual ad programs.
Various technologies (or more specifically contextual ad programs) exist to push automatically dynamic advertisements that are relevant to your blog content.
To get started, simply sign up with Adsense (it’s free). Once you are approved, login to your account, copy your Adsense code and paste it into your blog where you want the ads to appear. It’s that easy!
If you use Blogger, it’s even easier as Google owns both AdSense and Blogger, and so integrating Adsense to Blogger can be done easily from your new blog dashboard.
Once your ads are up and running you will start earning money.
Basically, every time someone clicks on one of the ads displayed by Adsense, you earn a commission. The amount you earn for each click varies based on the ad, and it can be anywhere from a few cents up to $30 or more per click.
Google will direct deposit your earnings every month to your bank account, If you live outside of the U.S., Google will send you a check.
Important: Never ever click on your own ads or tell others to do that. Some people may be tempted to click on the ads on their own blog in order to make money. That is against Adsense policy and it will get your account banned. It can be anywhere from a few cents per click, up to $30 or even more.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing involves the promotion of products or premium services, which cut you a share of the sales as a reward for your promotional effort.
Pick the right promotional banners and insert them into your blog. As mentioned, you are entitled to your fixed commission with every successful sale.
There are many great affiliate marketing networks out there with hundreds of offers you can choose from to promote.
A few top ones include:
3. CPA Offers
In a way, CPA (or Cost per Action) is similar to affiliate marketing programs. However, your payment comes in lieu of the completion of certain tasks.
Examples include asking users to provide their contact information for future offers and getting users to download a program to their computer.
Consistent with the above affiliate marketing, pick the offer that suits you through hyperlinks or through banner ads as provided by the advertiser.
Some of the CPA networks that I use to find and promote CPA offers include:
4. Products and Services
Once you are able to attract regular and consistent traffic, you may want to contemplate to sell your own products or services there.
First off, work to earn your visitors’ trust.
You then offer specific gigs that you may have demonstrated your mastery; things like photo editing, content marketing, or Web design. Be ready to keep some sample work handy to show off to potential clients.
You can also get innovative to draw new customers, like one-time free services to new prospects.
If you are fairly confident you have built up deep empathy with your visitors through your blog postings, maybe you can include donation buttons on your blog. After all, your readers stay with you because they trust you to provide valuable information to them for free.
By way of donation, it represents their appreciation of the service you render so far, and also a gesture in kind to ensure that you can keep on doing what you do without the worry of funding or sustaining.
Popular payment processors offer ready-made donation buttons (that are customizable) that you can easily insert into your blog’s HTML editor or main widget screen.
Of many payment processors, the 2 most famous one include:
As you can see, building a blog is very easy, but making money with your blog is not that easy. It takes a lot of hard work and patient to make it.
Normally, for the first year or so, you are looking at continuous posting and establishing yourself as a serious blogger. Once you have got some audience and traffic, that’s when you will start making money from your free blog. Of course, at that point, you may want to move to a paid blogging solution – getting your own domain name and a hosting account – but that’s a whole another topic.
For now, I hope this short guide will help you set up your first blog for free, and hopefully earn your first few dollars as a blogger.