This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links and images, at no extra costs to you. Please read the full disclosure here.
Whether you are a wannabe blogger or an author, blogging is not just a great way to start your own business but it can help you increase your book sales and provide you with additional income.
If you want to learn how to start a blog in 2021 but you’re not sure where to start then why don’t we begin with the basic tools to set up your blog and get you on the road to having a full-time fun job blogging, or part-time hustle for self-published authors.
What is a Blog?
A blog is your very own personalised website, or page on your website, where you can create and share ideas, thoughts, hobbies and interests with the online community.
What is the Online Community?
Depending on what your blog is about (your niche), depends on your traffic or community you attract to share in your content.
What is Your Niche?
It could be anything from baking, vegan food, health and fitness, lifestyle, reviews, electronics or fashion.
My blog niche is centred around books and writing. This includes other authors works as well as my own, writing-related topics, things I am interested in, ideas, tips and advice I can share with the online book community.
So, if you have an idea that can help others, then you have a great basis for a blog that will also make you money.
Reasons Why You Should Start A Blog?
I have always been fascinated by how the blogs I have read over the years also reported on how much money they made. I couldn’t understand how their beautiful websites and helpful posts actually made them money.
I thought they were just doing it for fun and were being gracious with their spare time.
However, after publishing the first book I wanted to know how I could not only drive traffic to my website but also market and increase books sales. That’s when I realised other authors had blogs and why I started taking the idea of setting up my own blog seriously.
Being a self-published author also takes a lot of dedication and time and I wanted a side-hustle that would not just increase my books sales but bring in additional income to support my writing and allow me more time to write.
But How Does a Blog Make Money?
Making money through blogging is very simple, and there are a few ways to do it:
Displaying ads on your website
Selling your own products (these can be physical or digital)
Is when you recommend products, physical or digital, through a link in your blog. When someone clicks on this link to purchase the item you earn a commission on the sale, and at no extra cost to the purchaser.
Displaying Ads on Your Website
When you first launch your blog, you may think that you can apply to Google AdSense and get approved. Wrong!
If you just started a blog and you have little to no traffic to your blog, Google AdSense will not approve your blog.
I tried – it took two weeks for them to finally get back to me and it was a no. They didn’t even tell me the reason why (note: they often don’t tell you why and you can’t even speak to someone from Google). So I did some research and it was down to my blog not having enough traffic.
Basically, if you are starting out as a blogger, don’t bother with Google AdSense. Instead, apply to another Ad network like Media.net.
Media.net is run by Yahoo! and Bing, they are super easy to use and they verify you within two business days – but I applied to them in the morning and got approved in the afternoon!
Once your traffic increases substantially, you can look at applying to the bigger Ad Agencies, i.e., Google Adsense, AdThrive and MediaVine.
It’s as easy as that! You display adverts that are relevant to your blog’s content and you get paid for displaying them.
Selling Your Own Products
These can be digital downloads such as an eBook or pintables, physical e-commerce products, or courses that you sell directly through your blog.
What’s the Catch?
The only catch is that in order to make money from your blog, you need to drive the traffic to your blog.
Without traffic, people will not read your posts, click on your affiliate links, see the ads or buy your products.
So How Do You Set Up A Blog That People Love and Drive Traffic To Your Site That Makes You Money?
Here are 9 FREE tips and advice on how I set up fkmaddison.com and how you can use the same steps to start your own blog and make money online:
1 | Choose Your Niche
As I’ve mentioned above, my blog is about books: my own books, books I like to read, writing and tips and advice about self-publishing.
However, if you don’t have any ideas on what to blog about, try and find something that interests you. Don’t blog for the sake of it or you will become disinterested. If you lose interest, you won’t want to blog and you won’t make money.
Here are some niche ideas:
Fashion and Beauty
Health and Fitness
Home and garden
Making money online
Or combine a few of the above into your blog, as I have.
2 | Choose Your Blog’s Platform
Fkmaddison.com is a self-hosted WordPress blog. This means my website is run on the WordPress.org platform, and not WordPress.com
A free, none self-hosted, platform like WordPress.com, Wix or Squarespace are very limiting in the service they can provide you;
You are only given basic features, which means you then need to pay to upgrade; Your website name will look weird – i.e., if I was on a free site my web address would look like this: fkmaddison.wordpress.com or fkmaddison.blogspot.com;
Point 3 means your site looks unprofessional;
If it looks unprofessional, it is harder for you to be accepted onto affiliate programmes (companies want professional people representing their products, which means no amateur sounding/looking blog sites);
So, if you choose WordPress, choose WordPress.org (this does not mean you have .org at the end of your web address either. This is just the place where your blog runs from).
BUT before you start installing WordPress, check out Fashosts first:
3 | Choose Your Blog Host
Once you have chosen your niche to blog about and your blog platform, you will need a domain name and somewhere to host your blog. Confused?
Don’t worry, this sounds like jargon but it’s pretty straight forward.
All websites, including blogs, need a domain name. This is a website address, such as fkmaddison.com.
Secondly, the address/domain needs to be hosted. A host is a server that stores and serves your blog files via the internet. Think of this as where your blog lives online.
There are many domain names and hosting options out there, but personally, I use Fasthosts. They have a couple of price plans, but if you are just starting out you really only need the basic plan. Plus, with just one click, you can install WordPress through Fasthosts!
You can start with Fasthosts from as little as £2.50 per month!
4 | Choose Your Blog Theme
Now you have your platform, domain name and host, it’s time to choose your blog theme.
But what is a theme?
A theme is what your website looks like, from the front page to where your adverts are displayed, contact forms, social media icons et cetera.
You can get free themes from WordPress, but like free hosting options you are limited to what you can do and will always end up spending additional money to upgrade areas of your blog.
I chose to pay for my theme because:
I wasn’t keen on the offered free themes, and I would end up spending time and extra money making it look better;
I wanted something more professional, more tailored without having to do all the extra work;
If your website looks good, people are more likely to stay on your website.
I chose the Pepper+ theme by Artisan Themes because it was SEO-ready (categories and tags are built-in, making it smoother for me to work with and easier for Google to search my site and rank it). The Pepper+ theme is really versatile and fun to use – including their array of module templates which helps me to customize the look and feel of my site, pages and posts.
Artisan Themes also provide you with insightful tools, including video tutorials and are always on hand to help you out if you get a little stuck with the setup. And if you don’t want to build the look of your site yourself, you can install one of their ready-made templates.
However, when it comes to the theme, it all depends on how much you want to spend at the outset. But I would invest this small amount of money to make your blog look as professional as possible from the outset.
It is entirely up to you if you want a blog logo. Personally, because I am an author and I will be publishing books in more than one series and genre, I decided to not have one. However, if you are a business or want to remain anonymous, Canva.com is a great place to make a logo and it’s free (see point 8).
A lot of bloggers like to remain anonymous, and creating a logo is a great way to do this but will also make your blog and the subject(s) you write about look more professional.
6 | Writing Your Posts: SEO and Helpful Plugins
Once your blog is up and running it’s entirely up to you how may blog posts you write each week. But whether you aim to write 1 post weekly or 1 every day, I recommend planning your posts in advance. This way you are always prepped with posts to update your blog with and not stress at the last minute to get something written.
You will also need to brush up on your SEO (search engine optimisation) skills. This is vital if you want Google to send traffic to your website.
A great way to check that your site is search engine optimised is with the Yoast SEO plugin. This is the free version which is all you need as a beginner. Once WordPress is installed, all you need to do is click on add new plugin, search for the Yoast plugin and download it.
7 | Drive Traffic to Your Blog With Pinterest
Along with Google, you can start driving traffic to your blog via Pinterest.
Trust me, Pinterest is not just pretty pictures it’s also your friend when it comes to business.
Just like Google, Pinterest is a search engine. Everyone there is looking for pins on how to make recipes or get ideas for their wedding. You name it, there will be a pin on there for it.
So how does Pinterest help drive traffic to your blog?
If you don’t have an account already, head on over to Pinterest and set one up. Then make your profile a business account – and it’s totally free to do this!
With your business account set up, you can link it to your blog, Instagram and Youtube. If it’s not already taken, go with a Pinterest name that matches your blog name or something similar.
Some bloggers advise to create a minimum of 10 boards, but I would create as little or as many as you need to, depending on your niche and work from there. Anything on your Pinterest that is not relevant to your blog, delete or use the hide option.
Remember, Pinterest is a search engine and it needs to know that your boards and what you are pinning are relevant to your topic! Otherwise, it will get confused and send the traffic somewhere else – keep it simple and clear.
Now start pinning, but pin with intent! For every blog post you do, make 2-3 pins related to it and then pin and schedule those pins to your other boards, as well as group boards.
8 | Make Pinterest Pins with Canva
How do you make pins, I hear you ask?
To make my pins, I use Canva.com. It’s free and comes with loads of free template ideas across all social media.
Just type in Pinterest Pin to get started. Once you’ve completed your pin, download it to your computer and you’re ready to upload to Pinterest!
Click on this Canva link to join now and get a free Canva credit to a premium element.
If you are strapped for time or need more guidance, try my ready-made, SEO-readyPinterest templates.
9 | Increase Your Blog Traffic with Tailwind Scheduler
And now it’s time to schedule your pins using Tailwind!
I LOVE Tailwind! It’s easy to use and saves you so much time!
Once you have pinned a new pin to your main boards, schedule it to re-pin to your other boards using Tailwind.
A pin has a lifespan of about three months, but the longevity of the pin can be increased if you use Tailwind to pin and re-pin over several months or seasonally. You can do this using the Smartloop tool on Tailwind.
This is the best way to drive traffic to your site as Tailwind will continuously help you to promote your blog posts through the pins on your Pinterest account, even whilst you sleep. Think of this as the number one tool to market your blog!
And don’t forget to schedule to some Tailwind Tribes – these, like Group boards, will help grow your reach, find new related content for your boards and meet like-minded people in your niche.
Want to be a Blogging Author? Check Out My Recommended Tools!
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.