How to Start a Blog and Monetize it in 90 Days
You want to start a blog – and make money as fast as possible. You’re just not sure exactly how to go about it.
Lots of new bloggers start strong. But after a few months, their initial enthusiasm fades. They’ve spent hours on their blog without making a single dollar.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to get your blog off to a great start and how to monetize it as quickly and effectively as possible.
I’ll also show you how to create a 90-day plan to start making real money in the next few months.
Ready? Let’s get started.
The #1 Thing You Need to Do to Set Up a Blog (No, It’s Not Hosting)
You might think that a guide to starting a blog would walk you through how to pick the right web host or how to install WordPress.
The truth is, those things aren’t too hard to get right. There are plenty of great, cheap web hosts – my favorites are Bluehost and Dreamhost. They’re both recommended by WordPress and they’ll both give you a free domain name and SSL certificate.
The most important thing you need to do to set up your blog is to pick the right niche. Here’s how:
- Write a list of topics you’re interested in. You might draw on your professional life, your personal life, your hobbies, skills, and experience.
- Choose three topics that (a) you’d enjoy writing about long-term and (b) you know enough about to be able to get started.
- If your topics are quite broad, look for ways to make them more specific. This is where you find your niche. For instance, if you’ve picked the topic “personal finances” then you might turn this into the niche “personal finances for Generation Z”, “personal finances made quick and easy”, or “personal finance for parents”.
- Now, choose one of those niches and figure out if there’s a paying audience for your topic. Are there books, magazines, products, services, etc relating to your topic?
- Ask yourself whether this niche is likely to be around for years to come. If you’re planning to write about a new social network, for instance, you may want to consider a broader niche just in case that social network doesn’t last for long.
Monetizing Your Blog
There are lots of different ways to monetize a blog. You’ve probably already started to think about which would suit you.
Lots of new bloggers try to start monetizing by running ads, but they’ll only bring in a good income once you have a lot of traffic (think 1 million or more monthly readers).
So what works instead?
One of the best things you can do is to promote affiliate services and products..
This is a great option when you want to create a blog and monetize fast, because:
- You don’t need to create any products or offer any services yourself. While you might well want to do these things in the future, as they can be very profitable, they do take up quite a bit of time.
- Whatever niche you’re in, there’s sure to be plenty of products and/or services you can promote as an affiliate. For example, You can set up an affiliate account on Fiverr Affiliates, so you can earn commission on every gig sold through Fiverr’s website.
- You don’t need any special skills or connections to become an affiliate. The majority of companies let anyone sign up for their affiliate program. There’s nothing complicated or technical here, either: generally, you fill out a form, then you’ll get a special affiliate link that you use when linking to the company’s product/service.
Creating Your 90-Day Action Plan
Most bloggers are running their blog as a side hustle: they don’t have hours every day to work on it.
With your 90-Day plan, you’re in charge. You decide how much time you have available for your blog. It’s fine if that’s as little as 15 – 30 minutes per day.
Days 1 – 30: Starting Your Blog and Planning Your Content
Your first month of blogging will be pretty exciting. You’ll learn new things almost every day – and while you may feel overwhelmed or confused at times, you’ll soon discover there’s loads of available help online.
Here’s a plan you can follow and modify to suit you. I’ve suggested a day-by-day plan for the first week as you start your blog, but if you need longer to choose your niche or to get hosting set up, that’s fine. This is your journey, after all.
Days 1 – 7: Choose Your Niche and Getting Your Blog Online
- Day 1: List possible topics/niches that you might want to write about
- Day 2: Pick three of these niches and research them to see if they have money-making potential
- Day 3: Decide on your favorite niche out of those three, then come up with a name for your blog. Read Google’s tips on choosing a domain name for help with this.
- Day 4: Set up hosting with Bluehost, Dreamhost, or your web host of choice, and register your domain name. (Bluehost and Dreamhost both let you register a domain name for free, so long as you’re paying for at least 1 year of web hosting upfront.)
- Days 5 – 7: Have fun exploring WordPress! You might want to experiment with switching your blog’s theme (template), publishing a test post or page, and so on. Don’t worry about getting things wrong: you can easily delete a post or page, switch your theme back, and so on.
Days 8 – 14: Choose Your Affiliate Products/Services
During this week, you’ll pick your affiliate products/services. That way, you can come up with content ideas that link seamlessly with the things you want to promote.
Many bloggers skip this step and go straight to coming up with content ideas. But the problem with doing that is your content might not be very well aligned with your monetization plans.
To choose the products and services you want to promote as an affiliate:
- Start with the products and services you already use (and are relevant to your audience). For instance, if your niche is “personal finances for Generation Z” these might include books on personal finance, as well as online tools like Mint and TurboTax.
- Check whether these products or services have an affiliate program. You can usually find this by searching their site for “affiliate” or by looking in the footer of the site for an affiliate link.
- Make notes about each product/service on your list. You might include the best points, anything you didn’t like, and thoughts about who would most benefit from that product/service. You could also search online to see what others are saying about it.
If you have time left this week, you can continue experimenting with WordPress, or move on to coming up with content ideas.
Days 15 – 30: Plan Your Blog Posts
During the rest of your first 30 days, it’s time to come up with content ideas and start creating content for your blog.
I recommend doing this before launching your blog so you’re not rushing to come up with ideas every week. By spending a bit of time in advance, you’ll get your blog off to a much smoother start.
You’ll want to:
- Come up with a list of ideas: aim for 30. You can do this however you like – but you should make sure each idea gives you an opportunity to link to at least one of the affiliate products/services you’ve chosen. Some of these posts might be reviews, but others could be things like “10 tips for…” or “Best 10 tools to…”
- Write an outline for 10 of those posts. This should include the key points you want to make and, if possible, you should also think about basing your post around long-tail keywords that people might type into Google. Here are my tips on writing a blog post outline.
- Draft 4 of those posts that you’ve outlined. If you publish one post a week (which is fine when you’re starting out) then this will give you enough material to be a month ahead with your blog when you launch.
Days 30 – 60: Launching and Promoting Your Blog
You’re ready to launch your blog! If you have time, you may want to write and backdate a few posts so your blog doesn’t look too empty when it launches.
You’ll also want to make sure you have these key pages in place before you launch:
- About page – tell people who you are and what they can expect from your blog. This is a great place to link to some of the products/services you particularly recommend for beginners.
- Contact page – let people know how to get in touch with you. Your contact page will normally be quite short and simple, but you could still mention one or two affiliate products if you want to.
Once you’ve launched your blog, you’ll want to keep producing content on a regular basis. This helps you build a stronger connection with your readers – and gives you more opportunities to get traffic from search engines.
You should also get your email list up and running as soon as possible, using software like AWeber, ConvertKit, or Mailchimp. (Each offers a free plan to help you get started.) That way, you can easily send news or reviews about affiliate products straight to your readers’ inboxes.
When you publish new posts, promote them to help bring in traffic. That could mean posting on social networks, writing guest posts for other websites, writing on sites like Medium, Quora, and LinkedIn, and more. Once you find a method that works well for bringing in new and repeat readers, keep it up.
Days 60 – 90: Growing Your Blog, Day by Day
During your next 30 days, focus on getting into a content-creation rhythm you can stick with for months to come.
I’d suggest that you:
- Create a content calendar. This lets you plan what you’re going to publish, when. You can also include other types of content, like email newsletters, any big affiliate promotions coming up (e.g. if one of the products/services you promote is having a sale), and even content ideas for social media.
- Experiment with blogging at different times of day, especially if you’re struggling to find the time and energy for blogging. For instance, you might try getting up early and spending an hour on the blog before dealing with all the other demands of the day.
- Create a “Recommended Resources” page for your blog. This could have short descriptions or reviews of key affiliate products/services. Link to it from your About page, your Contact page, and your blog sidebar.
- Look at ways to grow your email list faster. That could mean including a sign-up form at the end of every post, using an exit-intent popup, and/or creating a lead magnet.
Start Your 90-Day Blogging Plan Today
Three months from now, you could be making real money from your blog.
But you have to make a start.
This 90-day plan is designed to be realistic. You can work it around your schedule. You don’t need to spend a lot of time on your blog. In fact, the tasks for your first 7 days could be done in as little as 15 – 30 minutes per day.
So get started. For day one, you only need to list the possible topics or niches you want to blog about. Open up a blank document or grab a sheet of paper and get writing.
Ryan Robinson is a blogger, podcaster and (recovering) side project addict that teaches 500,000 monthly readers how to start a blog and grow a profitable side business at ryrob.com.