This post contains some affiliate links.
Blogging is an increasingly competitive business. When I first started blogging back in 2010, it was still something not many people did. It felt easier to get noticed, there weren’t as many social media platforms to contend with. That being said, because it was such a new industry, many companies and brands didn’t know how to work with bloggers. It was much harder to make a living solely from blogging.
It’s so different now. Not many industries have come as far in such a short period of time and it’s an incredibly exciting thing to be apart of. Many other bloggers will tell you the market is too saturated now, that it’s nearly impossible to create a blog and make money off of it because there is so much competition.
I’m here to tell you NOW is the perfect time to become a blogger. I started Eternal Expat in May 2016 and within six months I had over 15,000 monthly pageviews, I was working with big brands, getting free travel perks AND making enough money to live in Mexico solely through my blog.
This post is specifically about setting up your site with Siteground (my all time favorite web hosting service). If you use any of the Siteground links in this post you’ll get hosting starting at $3.95 per month AND a domain name completely free. I have tried several other hosting companies and none are as good as Siteground. The customer service truly cannot be beaten.
You ready to start making a living as a blogger now?
1. Figure Out Your Niche
Like I mentioned before, I used to have a blog back in 2010. It was called An American Abroad (you can check that baby out here if you feel like a good laugh!). It was basically a diary of my life abroad. I wrote about concerts we went to, meals we ate, random nights out and day trips we took. It had absolutely no direction and wasn’t helping anyone at all. The only people who read it after four years of writing it were mine and Luke’s parents. Most days I had ZERO views. SO sad.
When I started again in early 2016, I knew I needed to get it right. Before I started I sat down and thought about exactly what I wanted to write about. I thought about what I knew best and about what I could help other people with. Eternal Expat was born out of a desire to help others create a lifetime full of travel. I have all this knowledge about moving abroad, applying for visas, traveling long term, and getting jobs in different countries. Surely that can help someone, right? Every single post I write aligns with that idea somehow.
The best advice I can give is to create a mission statement for your blog. What is it about in two sentences?
As soon as I started the blog, because it was so focused and because I knew who my audience would be, it grew much faster than all the other blogs I’d started in the past (of which there were many).
2. Figure Out How You’re Going to Make Money
I think this is a really important thing to think about BEFORE you start a blog. Too many people start their blogs, write posts and then a few months down the line start wondering how to monetize it.
It should be one of the first things you think about. What other business would be started without a clear idea of how they’re going to make money?
Do your research. Contact other bloggers that you admire, look up how bloggers in your niche are making money and figure out how you can do it BETTER.
Once you have your niche and your mission statement, you can start brainstorming about who your readers will be. What is their pain point? What problems can you help them solve?
A few ways that bloggers make money:
- Affiliate Marketing – This is basically when you recommend something to someone and if they buy it using the link you’ve provided, you get a commission at no extra cost to your readers. Be sure to find affiliate marketing programs that align with your niche and that your readers will be interested in learning about.
- Sponsored Content – This is anything from putting a link into a post to writing an entire review of a hotel or destination. Many companies pay bloggers to write about them (some pay A LOT).
- Brand Ambassadors – This is when a company pays you a set fee to promote their brand. This could include you writing posts on your blog, writing posts for their blog, as well as promoting them across your social media outlets. It all depends on what you negotiate.
- Information Products – I’m sure you’ve seen bloggers selling courses, ebooks, consulting or coaching programs. For instance, I am currently working on a Mexico City guidebook.
Try to think outside the box. What aren’t other people offering that you can? The beauty of blogging is that your income is generated by YOU. You get to decide how it’s done and what you’re going to be “selling” on your site.
3. Get a Top Quality Web Host
In the past, I’ve used both Hostgator and Bluehost. I was not entirely happy with either one. At the start of the year I went with Siteground and I don’t see myself changing anytime soon. The customer support is absolutely incredible. They’re available 24/7 and my site has never had any downtime thanks to them.
I’ve set up both friends and family with Siteground for their blogs and websites and they rave about it almost as much as I do.
First, you’ll need to select a plan. I suggest starting with “StartUp” – their cheapest plan. It allows you up to 10,000 monthly visitors and plenty of web space. I switched up to the “GrowBig” plan very easily and without it costing any more than the price shown. Siteground was incredibly helpful with this – one of the reasons why I so highly recommend them to other bloggers.
When signing up with Siteground you automatically get a free domain registration. You can also easily switch from another host to them (they’ll do all the complex techy work for free!).
Once you get to step three – be sure to choose the data center that is closest to you. It will likely already know where you are when you register, but in case you are traveling or it thinks you’re in the US when really you’re in the UK, be sure to change it to your closest center. This will help with your website speed.
And the last step is the decision if you want to include these other “Extra Services.” I unticked both of these things. In my experience, I’m quite happy for people to be able to see who owns my site. If someone Googles Laura Bronner, I want this website to come up. Other people prefer the privacy and therefore pay the $12 yearly fee for Domain Privacy.
As for HackAlert – when malware is present on my site, Siteground sends me an email. With that service, I don’t see the need to have HackAlert Monitoring.
Once you’ve set that up, Siteground will help you set up your WordPress site through their cPanel. When it comes to customer service, Siteground truly cannot be beaten. If you’re as terribly un-tech savvy as I am, this is who you need on your side.
4. Start An Email List
Do it now. You’ll regret not starting it from the very beginning. It’s the number one way to get people back to your site again and again. It’s the only way to truly ensure that you can contact your loyal readers. As algorithms and paid advertising becomes more and more popular on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, emails will only become more important.
I recently switched over to Convertkit and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. It has really helped me build my email list into something truly meaningful and the customer service is simply awesome. It’s a slightly more expensive option, but I feel like this was really worth the investment for me.
I used to use Mailchimp and I think if you are just starting out, then it’s a great option. It’s super easy to create attractive emails and set it up with WordPress. It’s also one of the cheapest options out there.
Your first 2,000 email subscribers are completely free. If you want to create automated emails (so when someone signs up to your list, they get a welcome email or something), it only costs $15 for your first 1,000.
If you’re just getting started, this is definitely the best option.
5. Get on Pinterest
Learning how to use Pinterest was the best thing I did for my blog. It is by far my biggest driver of traffic and often the people that come from Pinterest stay on my site the longest.
A few of my biggest tips are:
- Pin every single day. Pin your own posts, pin other people’s posts. Being active on Pinterest is so important.
- Join group boards. It’s a great way to get more eyes on your pins when you’re just starting out.
- Follow other influential pinners.
- Have a variety of boards. Just because you are a travel blogger doesn’t mean every single board should be travel related. It’s okay to vary it up. It will bring different types of readers to your boards.
- Create beautiful images. Make sure they’re vertical. I use Canva to create mine, but Picmonkey is also good.
6. Learn as much as You Possibly Can
Because blogging is still such a young industry, it’s changing constantly. It’s so important to continue learning – from the very beginning and all through your time as a blogger. In the last several months I’ve taken some absolutely amazing courses that have really helped propel me in the blogging world. I think these things have really helped me create betting content, understand how to grow my readers, and finally make enough money to quit my side-hustle.
- How I Hit #1 on Google – I thought I knew a little bit about SEO, but this course made me realize I knew basically nothing. It was SO helpful. I made changes to my site as I progressed through the course and even before I finished the 100+ lessons, I saw a drastic improvement in my search traffic. If there’s only one course you take, it should be this one.
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – Okay, if there are only TWO courses you take about blogging, this should be the second one. It is one of the best, most useful things I’ve spent my money on and I’m already making back what I spent on this course. If you want to take your blog to the next level and really learn how to turn it into a business, you need to learn from the pros. The course instructor, Michelle, earns over $50,000 every month (EVERY MONTH!) on affiliate marketing alone.
- The Business of Blogging Masterclass – Christine Gilbert is the mastermind behind the blog Almost Fearless. I think it’s actually one of the first ever travel blogs I started reading way back when. I found her story so inspiring, her storytelling so captivating. When she started giving away all her secrets with her We Create courses – I jumped straight on them. I’ve taken several of Christine’s courses and I’ve learned so much about blogging as a business. She’s straight and to the point and she doesn’t just let you read the materials and do nothing with them. If you need real guidance and advice with turning your blog into a full-time job, Christine is the one to help.
- How to Build a Popular Lifestyle Blog – This is the very first blogging course I ever took and it really put me on the path to treating my blog like a business. Marina is quite fashion focused, but her tips can be utilized in any niche. I love the way the course is set out – helping you from blog setup to social media master. This is a really great course if you’re brand new to blogging.
- Digital Nomad Wannabe – This is a totally free website that has absolutely changed the way that I blog for the better. I have learned SO much about monetizing my blog and how to get to page one of google time and time again.
Time to Start Your Blog
What are you waiting for? The sooner you get your blog started, the sooner you can be working from absolutely anywhere in the world. Have questions about anything I’ve mentioned? Feel free to send me an email.