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How To Start A Blog And Make Money

I make millions blogging. Two-point-seven last year, alone.

Here’s my story if you missed it. Know how I was telling you, towards the middle of that page, that I was headed back to Cabo? Well, just got in:

Arrived Cabo

Room’s not quite ready so I’m posted up by the pool. Just ordered a Dos Equis lager. Can’t wait to slip into my trunks. It’s eighty-eight out, so I’m a little toasty in these black joggers. But the breeze helps. And this umbrella overhead provides just enough shade to keep the glare off my dusty MacBook Pro. Here’s the current situation:

Waiting On Room

Why anyone would do any other internet business is beyond me. And yes, I do believe the average, everyday person can be successful blogging. Yep, it still works today, in 2021. No, you don’t hear as much about it. Mainly because everyone likes to jump to the next hot trend. FBA this, dropship that. Podcaster. YouTuber. Instagram influencer. TikTok whatever-er. This is a good thing. For the first time since I’ve been online, blog competition has been going down, not up.

How do I know? I started a new blog in a cutthroat niche three months ago, and it’s already doing over fifteen K a month. If you did a tenth as good as me, with what I’m about to show you, you could be at fifteen hundred bucks a month in the next ninety days. It took me about three years to hit that number. Are you giddy with anticipation? You should be. Grab your favorite caffeinated or adult beverage (just sip slow!) and let’s begin.

I’ll be using affiliate links. If you buy through them, I do earn a small commission. It won’t cost you any extra. Actually, it’ll save you money. I’ve secured deals for you on everything you’ll need. And these affiliate links are the only reason I’m willing to teach you all of this, for free, instead of charging you five grand for a coaching program. I’d be happier ‘n’ a hippie wearing bell bottoms if you made sure to click on them before purchasing.

On that note, sign up for a free seven day trial of Semrush. It’s the only nerdy tool I use. It tells you what kind of blog to make. The income potential. What you should write about. How to rank in Google. How long it’ll take. What your competitors are doing. Where you’re ranking for every single keyword. How much your blog’s worth. And about a million other things. It’s literally the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning: check Semrush. It’s basically a cheat code for blogging. Probably why Tesla uses it. Nike, IBM, Walmart, Forbes. By the end of your weeklong trial, you’ll understand why. (When your week is up, pay for the Guru Plan. I’ve had it for six years, and counting.)

After you’ve activated your free trial, log in. Then, in the search bar, type in the URL of a blog or website (they’re the same thing, as far as I’m concerned) you visit daily. Something you could see yourself modeling, but with your own unique spin. We’re just making sure there’s money to be made if you were to go that route. For example, before I launched Millyuns, I looked up a popular personal development blog:

First Semrush Search

Next, click “Search.” Then, in the upper left, click “Organic Research.” Now, in about the middle of the screen, towards the top, you’ll see something called “Traffic Cost.” It’s basically the value of all the free traffic a site gets (from Google searches) in a month. So in this case:

Traffic Cost Semrush

The Addicted 2 Success blog gets about fifty-five grand worth of people who find it in Google, click on it, and read it each month. You’d have to spend fity-five Gs on Google ads to get that same readership. Make sense? Good. Now, speaking of addicted, I just showed you your new favorite way to kill time.

Because, unless you know a blog owner personally, you won’t have a clue what theirs is making them. But now, thanks to Semrush, you do. Well, you at least have a ballpark idea of what they could be making. If their monetization strategy sucks, they might not make anywhere near their Traffic Cost. On the other hand, the opposite could be true. On that new blog of mine I mentioned earlier, the Traffic Cost shows nine-point-eight K; it did over fifteen K last month. (*Shrug emoji. What can I say, this ain’t my first rodeo.) Remember, Semrush is not claiming to know what a site is making. Rather, it’s showing you the value of their traffic. And, in my experience, the Traffic Cost is usually pretty close to what I end up making from the blog.

The main thing is, don’t start a blog that doesn’t have the potential to earn you the kind of money you’d like to make with it. Whatever space you’re thinking of going into, you should be able to find other sites with a Traffic Cost at or above your monthly income goal. The more you find, and the higher their Traffic Costs, the more you make your success a mathematical certainty. Assuming you do the work. Which, based on Millyuns’ Traffic Cost these days, it appears I have been:

Millyuns TC Semrush

Alright, got something you feel good about? Think you can talk (write) about it daily without getting sick of it? Better yet, is it something you would consume yourself with, regardless, even if you weren’t getting paid for it? Perfect. No need to worry about how you’ll monetize, just yet. As long as there’s big Traffic Cost potential, you’ll be fine. You can always find affiliate products to promote for a commission. Or make deals with product and service owners. Or sign up to an ad network, and let them serve custom ads to your readers throughout your blog. That’s what most of the largest sites in the world do. Okie doke?

Now we need to figure out a domain name for you. Something short, sweet, easy to say and spell. I’d recommend no more than two words. No dashes or numbers. And definitely a dot com. Finding such a domain, that’s still open, is hard to do. So I like to do misspellings. Hence Millyuns instead of millions dot com. As long as it reads like the word should sound, it can work well. Just don’t do something stupid like Make Money As A Super Affiliate dot com. You’re building a brand, not writing a sentence. Imagine if Amazon was The Best Ecommerce Store dot com. No one will take you serious with that kind of domain. You want something to where you can get acquired for twenty million someday. Maybe you can come up with a name that doesn’t really mean anything—yet. Google. Yahoo. Weebly. As long as you like the way it looks, sounds, reads, you’re golden.

You start brainstorming. I’m gonna get another beer, and head up to my room which should be ready by now. I’ll pick back up, poolside, mañana. And thanks to the power of the internet, I’m back. Got my favorite trunks on. Hurley. Pink and charcoal-colored with a cool-looking palm tree design. Sunscreen, shades, Nike slides. Laptop’s a hundred percent charged. So is my Anker charger, which I always bring for backup. AirPods Pro? Check. Room key. Ones for tipping. (The resort’s all-inclusive.) Just sucked down two iced Americanos. Should be good to go.

Bluehost is who you’ll wanna use to buy your domain, as well as create and host your blog. They cover the cost of the domain for the first year. They allow you to get an email for your domain, if you want. It’s free for the first month. You get an SSL certificate to make your blog secure. Without this, browsers scare people out of visiting your website by telling them, “Warning: this site is not secure.” Bluehost hooks you up with a CDN to ensure your blog pages load lightning fast. A key factor for ranking high in Google. They have excellent 24/7 support. A money-back guarantee. Just an all-around amazing company. Unless you want nonstop tech headaches and hundreds a month in hosting fees, they’re your best bet. Use my Bluehost affiliate link to save money:

Bluehost Webpossible

There’ll be a big “Get Started” button. Click it. You’ll see a list of their different hosting plans:

Basic Plus Office 365

If you want an email address to go with your domain (i.e. Joe@Blog.com), go with Plus. If not, Basic is all you need. Click “Select” on the appropriate box. That brings you to this screen:

Pick Your Domain Bluehost

Use the box on the left to search for your new domain. Click “Next” to see if it’s available. If you can’t find or decide on one, you can just click “I’ll create my domain later.” On the next page you’ll need to fill out your account info:

Bluehost Account Info

Below that, it’ll show you your package details:

Package Info Bluehost

While I order a vodka-something, you adjust your “Account Plan” to pay for one, two, or three years at a time. You’ll save the most by leaving it on the thirty-six month price. Yes, for a measly three bucks a month, you can start a blog and profit as much as you want. I’ve turned that three dollar investment into millions and millions of dollars. It’s ridiculous.

Bluehost Package Extras

If you’re getting a domain now, under “Package Extras” you’ll see an option for “Domain Privacy + Protection.” That’s the only one I’d suggest you leave checked. It hides your personal contact info. That way, you don’t get spammed with sales messages. And if you went with Plus, be sure to check the free “Microsoft 365 Mailbox – 30 Day Free Trial” box. All that’s left is to submit your payment info:

Bluehost Payment Info

Then agree to the terms, click “submit,” and you’re in business. Literally. Bluehost automatically creates you a WordPress blog. The same exact thing I’m using to make six-figures-plus per month. Easy peasy. Tomorrow I’ll show you how to customize it to your liking. Until then, I’m gonna enjoy another Sea Breeze or three and debate whether or not to pee in the pool or find a bathroom like a grown-up:

Sea Breeze Pool

I’m back, and I’m only drinking coffee today. Promise. What words come to mind when you look at my blog? Plain. Simple. Minimal. Clean. Right? Compare it to other blogs. Which of them loads quicker? Which is easiest to read? Navigate? Stay focused on? Which looks better on mobile, where eighty to ninety percent of all visitors will be viewing it from? I’d be surprised if you didn’t say Millyuns every time. When it comes to design, less is more.

Your readers are going to Google, searching for something, they want that something served to them on a pretty pink platter. Don’t make them work for it. Don’t waste their time. Don’t make them scroll and search and dodge banners and opt-ins and widgets and whatever else. I’m self-deprecating about my blog because it is so unassuming. But make no mistake, this thing spits money.

You also need to understand, what’s good for your audience is what Google wants anyway. Their job is to pair searchers with not only the most relevant results for whatever they typed (or talked into their phone), but also the blogs (websites) that offer the best user experience. They track this through things like total number of pages viewed per visit, average time on site, interactions (did they scroll, hover, click, watch a video, share an image, etc.), and more.

If your blog is bloated, cluttered, confusing; if you’re annoying people with pop-ups and autoplay videos; if the formatting or font or color scheme is hard on the eyes? They’ll just hit the back button. You can’t earn money if that happens. Worse, Google will take note. Now it’s harder to rank going forward.

It’s really just common sense. If you were reading your own blog, from your iPhone, how would you want it to look? Would you wanna squint at tiny white text laid over a black background? How about some flashing banners in between each paragraph? Wait, I know: you’d wanna be startled by a video ad that starts blaring randomly from God-knows-where on the page, but only if you were sitting in a quiet waiting room full of people, right?

Of course not. And yet, go look around. This is the type of stupid f*cking sh*t bloggers do. It’s like they hate money. Assuming you don’t, I’ve got good news. You won’t need to code anything or hire anyone to get the appearance and function you want for your blog. It comes down to picking the right theme. There are free ones and paid ones. Almost all of them suck. They were designed by just that: designers. Not multi-millionaire bloggers. They don’t understand search engine optimization (how to rank in Google and get free, targeted traffic), usability, conversions.

I do. And I’ve tried out dozens of themes over the years, and one is in a league of its own. It’s this one. I use it on all of my blogs, and you should too. Click my affiliate link to check it out:

Focus WordPress Theme

Then click the green button. Go through that page if you want, or just take my word for it. The punchline is it’s blazing-fast, good for readers, good for Google, good for you. The next page will look like this:

Focus Theme Advantages

Click for pricing. Depending on how many blogs you see yourself launching, here are your options:

Focus Pricing

Pick the one you want, then click on “Proceed to Checkout.” Follow the prompts. Create your account. Submit payment. Log in. You actually want to download the Thesis theme, not Focus:

Thesis Download

You’ll see a big long license key. Mine’s blurred out so nobody gets the ole five finger discount. Highlight yours. Copy it. Now click “Download.” It’ll be a Thesis.zip file. Find it. Drag it to your desktop. Now log in to your WordPress blog that Bluehost so kindly made for you. On the lefthand side, hover over “Appearance” and click on “Themes.” Like so:

Appearance Themes

In the upper left, click “Add New.” Then, also in the upper left, click “Upload Theme.” Then “Choose File.” And select Thesis.zip which should be waiting patiently on your desktop:

Choose Thesis Zip File

Click “Open.” Then “Install Now.” Then activate it. Now hover over “Thesis” in your lefthand column, go down to “Thesis License Key” and click on that:

Thesis License Key

Paste in the license key you should have copied a few steps back. It goes here:

Enter Your Thesis License Key

Save it to activate the Thesis theme. I don’t even bother with the Focus (skin, I think it’s called?) that came with your purchase. You can if you want, but I prefer Thesis and the Classic Responsive skin it comes with right outta the box. Aka exactly what you have right now. So if you made it this far, give yourself a big pat on the back. That was the scariest part. It’s all downhill from here.

But go have a look at your handiwork. In the very upper left, hover over your website name, then right-click on “Visit Site” to open it in a new tab:

Open Site In New Tab

It’ll look very similar to Millyuns already. Only, yours will have a sidebar. The font is probably smaller. You’ll see some placeholder text. The links are red, aren’t they? Here’s how you tweak those things. Back inside your WordPress blog admin area, hover over “Thesis” on the left again and this time click on “Content & Display”:

Content And Display

From there, it’s self-explanatory. Check what you want, uncheck what you don’t want, hit save. Right now on Millyuns, here are the only things I have turned on:

  • Site title
  • Site tagline
  • Author description
  • And skin attribution

Again, get it how you want it, then click the green “Save Display Options” button in the upper right.

Now hover over “Thesis” again, but now click “Design.” Then click on the “Links” box and use the slider to choose whichever color you like:

Classic Responsive Design Options

Below that, you can adjust layout, fonts, and sizes. Here’s what I have for Millyuns currently:

  • Layout: one column, six hundred pixels
  • Primary font: Montserrat, eighteen pixels
  • Headline font: System
  • Subheadline font: System

You do you, but I would strongly recommend a primary font size of at least eighteen pixels. The average website’s is just way too small. Me, I like to pamper my readers, not punish them:

Montserrat Eighteen Pixels

Just got home from Illinois, lock the front door, oh boy!
Got to sit down, take a rest on the porch
Imagination sets in, pretty soon I’m singin’
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door

Dude. Who is this poolside DJ? He just mixed Creedence with an EDM beat and sprinkled in short bursts of old school rap. It’s like cocaine for my nose if my nose was my ears.

Sorry, where was I? Ah, yes, blogging. Once you have the design and formatting just the way you want it, on the lower left, hover over “Settings” and then click on “General”:

Settings General

This is where you can adjust your site title and tagline:

Site Tagline Title

Now hover over “Settings” again (yep, lower left) and click on “Permalinks.” Select the one that says “Post name”:

Post Name Permalinks

Got it? Good. Now hit “Save Changes.”

Unlike most bloggers (a recurring theme if you haven’t noticed), I don’t use a single plugin. All they do is bog down the site. I just built you a speedboat; if you wanna throw anchors in the water, be my guest, but don’t come crying to me when you can’t keep up.

Now click on “Pages” on the lefthand side. Go ahead and delete the placeholder one that’s there. Then click “Add New.” Let’s make this your About page:

About Page

You’ll notice right away how easy the editor is to use. Literally just click and type. If you highlight a chunk of text, you can bold it, italicize, add a link. When you’re ready for a new paragraph, hit enter. If you want to add an image, video, extra white space, a subheadline, anything, just hit the “+” and search for what you want:

Search For Block

You couldn’t mess it up if you tried. For now, just get a sentence or two down, and hit “Publish” in the upper right. You can come back and edit it at any time. Now I want you to do the same thing to create a second page. So click “Pages,” then “Add New.” But title this one Contact. Add whatever you like. I usually just put my email. Got that done? Sweet. That’s all I do for pages. Three of them. Home, About, Contact. Your Home page will automatically be your most recent blog posts.

Speaking of which, let’s start blogging, shall we? I just got home from Cabo. Got a nice tan going. Feeling refreshed. And, let’s be honest, I need to blog. I haven’t added any new posts in over a week. Too busy working on this guide slash lounging in paradise, consuming cocktails, quesadillas, bowls of chips ‘n’ guac, and shrimp tacos.

Back to the grind. Open up a new tab. Log in to Semrush again, and do a search for one of those high Traffic Cost blogs that inspired you:

First Semrush Search

Scroll down a little ways till you see a section called “Top Organic Keywords”:

Top Organic Keywords

Welcome to your unfair advantage. Semrush is telling you which “Keywords” (words or phrases people are searching for in Google) are bringing the most visitors to that particular blog. Do you think, if you modeled what’s working for them, it just might work for you too? You’re damn right it would. So that’s why I do so many quotes posts. Click “View details” if you want to see even more, but that ought to give you an idea of what to write your first ever blog post about. Now we need to add a “Category” to file it under.

On the lefthand side of your admin area, hover over “Posts” and click on “Categories”:

Posts Categories

What is the one or two words that would classify what you just decided to write about? For example, here on Millyuns, I’ve got the following Categories:

  • Quotes
  • Net Worth
  • Reviews
  • Millionaire
  • Blogging

Give it a “Name,” capitalizing the first letter of each word, and a “Slug,” making sure it’s all lowercase:

Blogging Category

You can leave the rest of the fields blank. All set? Click the blue “Add Category” button underneath it. You can come back and add more later, if you need to.

Now click on “Posts” in the left column. Trash the placeholder blog post that’s there. Once that’s done, click “Add New.” In the righthand sidebar, tick the box next to the Category you just created. Add a title. Make sure it has the main keyword people would search for to find it in Google. I like to put a picture at the top. Add some spacing under it. Then your text. I thought it would be fitting to use this as my example:

Matt Mullenweg WordPress

He cofounded WordPress. That thing we’re both typing on now. I probably owe him some money. Hell, at least a thank you card.

Wait, you are about to hit publish on your first blog post, right? No? You’re just reading, not taking action? Grr. That’s disappointing to hear, but I get it. That was me in the beginning. Wondering if it was really that easy. Doubting that it was. Overwhelmed by the big decisions. What niche? What domain? Paralyzed by what ifs and yeah buts. Reading income reports from other bloggers, imagining what it would be like to wake up and see that I had made thousands in affiliate commissions while I slept. Wanting it so bad. Yet, for whatever reason, frozen, unable to do anything about it.

And then one day, I did. And here we are. There’s no sage advice I can give you. It sucks. It’s scary. I hope you’ll do it anyway. It’s worth it. And you’ve got a pretty good guy in your corner.

So go sign up for Bluehost. As soon as you do, they’ll create you your WordPress blog, free of charge. Go back through the steps. Let me know when you’re caught up. No really, happy to wait. What’s that? You say you took the plunge? And it wasn’t that bad? And you circled back and did everything I asked? Even got yourself a blog post ready to go live? You’re amazing. You eat glitter for breakfast and shine all day. Now, do you see that blue “Publish” button in the upper righthand corner? Click it. Boom. You’re officially a blogger.

Now what? Write another post? What should it be about? How often should you be posting? How will people find your blog? Google, right? But how do you get ranked? And how do you turn that traffic into dollar-dollar-bills-y’all? I’ll answer all that and more on the next page. Click below. Things are getting spicy!