How to Start a Blog: Your No-BS Guide to Making Cash

Everybody and their mama has a post about how to start a blog. The keyword gets 50K hits a month. So, it makes sense to try and hit for it.

Here’s the kicker: I know my little travel and lifestyle blog isn’t going to hit page one for this keyword.

I don’t care. I want to talk about how to actually start a website that makes cash from day one. So I’m going to. I can. It’s my damn website. Shoot me.

Who Am I? Why Should You Give a Damn?

I’m Jake, a traveler and online hustler. I’ve been blogging since 2013 and made tens of thousands of dollars from it.

I’m by no means an expert. Just a guy who produces a lot of content because he likes it – with the hopes of making some cash.

I know blogging is a decent way to make some scratch online if you’re willing to invest it in. It certainly has for me.

But here’s the thing…

I’ve realized a lot of beginning bloggers do shit the wrong way. We all make rookie mistakes. The best way to learn is through experience.

So learn from mine. How to start a blog the right way? It’s really not complex once you know what you’re doing.

And luckily, I finally, kind of know what I’m doing. So I’m going to share it with you. If you want to take the advice and make some cash, do it. If you think I’m a dipshit, that’s cool, too.

Let’s dive in.

How to Start a Blog: The Basics

The basics of blogging in 2017 are not too complex. You buy a domain name, host it, through up WordPress, install a theme, and start pumping content.

Blogging is big business. Everyone wants to be a world-famous rockstar blogger drowning in cash and Instagram models. I get it. Who doesn’t want to be drowning in Instagram models?!

So companies have made it simple to start a blog. While it’s not retard-proof, it’s pretty damn close.

In an effort to close the gap from close to completely idiot-proof, I’m going to break it down step-by-step:

Buy a Domain & Hosting

First, you’ll have to find and purchase a domain name. This is step one. Numero uno.

Unless you have a cool play on words within the domain like, you’ll always want to get a .com name or if you must, a .net domain name.

If you have ideas for a domain, you can check to see if they’re available above.

Once you have an idea for a domain and it’s available, you’ll need to buy it. Now, you can buy a domain for $1.99 from a cheap provider and then have it pointed to a different hosting company.

That’s a pain in the ass. I’ve done it. It’s never worth it. Just buy all your domains through a hosting account at Bluehost.

It’s the easiest way to do things. Plus, Bluehost does a great job through every part of the process. How to start a blog? Bluehost makes it easy.

You can buy a hosting one Bluehost that will allow you to host as many domains as your heart desires. I recommend this. As any online hustler will tell you, there’s a high probability you’ll be building more than one site in the future.

Go With WordPress

If you’re blogging, you’ll immediately want to upload WordPress through Bluehost. This is step number two. No ifs, ands, or buts. Bloggers need

Just do it. Bluehost makes it easy. This is legit all you have to do:

They guide you step-by-step. There’s no guesswork here. Installing WordPress is easy.

Once you have WordPress installed, your site will be live and ready to go. But we’re not done yet. There’s still a number of steps before you actually start making cash. So let’s dive in.

Installing a Theme

The nest step is to install a WordPress theme. When you initially open your WordPress dashboard, they install a free theme from the jump. Right now, this free theme is called “Twenty Seventeen” – and it’s not that bad.

But I would NOT recommend using this theme to start your blog. Your site will look like every other brand new blog, there aren’t many features, and it’s fairly bland.

If you plan to make money from your blog, then you’ll want to buy a premium, responsive WordPress theme.

While responsive themes aren’t cheap, they’re worth the investment. By the way, responsive means the theme works on all screens – from mobile to desktops to iPads.

Every blogger has their favorite theme. Personally, I’m absolutely loving Marketer’s Delight. For blogging, it’s pretty damn tough to beat. Highly recommended.

If you want someone to do all the set up for you (at a cost), get in touch with Sites Delight.

Bonus: Installing Plugins

I won’t dive too deep here. You’ll quickly learn about plugins as you start pumping content. To start, you’ll want to download a few main WordPress Plugins:

  • Akismet – This blocks spam on comments.
  • Yoast SEO – Plugin designed to help you rank better in Google.
  • Easy Social – Allows people to share your content on social media.
  • Contact form – Helps people get in touch.
  • Disqus – Makes commenting on your blog easier than ever.

These five plugins are ideal for beginning bloggers. They’ll all help you get things going quickly and correctly.

How to Start a Blog: Content Creation

At this point in the game, you have a functioning website. You’ve bought a domain and hosting, you’ve installed WordPress, and now you have a premium theme installed, too.

What’s next? It’s time to create some content and make some cash. It’s time to watch those blogging dollars roll in.

Well, kind of. You’re going to have to show “Big Daddy” Google some love to get that far. You need to play the game the right way to start making some cash.

To make money blogging, you’ll need a plan, some keyword research, a ton of content, and some patience. Let’s take a look.

Your Blogging Plan

Unless you’re some world-class Hank Moody-type of writer, you can’t just aimlessly write words and expect your traffic and cash flow to skyrocket. You need a plan, and a good one.

You need to think through what you’re going to blog about and how you’re going to make that straight cash, homie.

First, start off by thinking about the topics you’ll write about. I write about travel and lifestyle here at Nomadic Hustle. Anything that’s about traveling and building an ideal lifestyle is fair game for me.

Pick one or two broad topics to base your blog around. Then start to think how you can make money with these topics.

Open up an Excel spreadsheet and let the ideas flow. Type up any ideas for articles, topics, anything really. You’ll always want to keep a working document of ideas.

No matter the blog topic, there’s only a few ways to make money. Basically, there are three ways to make cash from your website:

  • Create Products
  • Advertising & Sponsorships
  • Affiliate Marketing

Often, the best blogs use a mix of two or three monetization methods. Take my friend Kyle for example. While he doesn’t do any advertising on his site, he does make cash through his own products and affiliate marketing.

Personally, I’ve stuck to affiliate marketing for the last few years. Eventually, I’ll create my own products, but for now – affiliate marketing it is.

For most beginners, affiliate marketing is the best way to make money from your blog. Just. Trust. Me.

You don’t have enough traffic to make a dollar from advertising when you start out. Brands only sponsor people with a decent readership. And creating a product takes time and effort. Plus, you won’t have a clue about the market for awhile, so building a product could be a huge waste.

So what is affiliate marketing? Basically, you write about other people’s products that you’ve used. You send traffic to their products and when traffic you sent makes a sale, you receive a percentage of said sale.

For example, I affiliate for Woolly Clothing Company through Amazon Associates Program. I’ve written about their Merino Wool Henley and their Merino Wool Tank Top – both great products for travelers.

Keyword Research Matters

So now you know how you’ll make money from your blog and have a vague idea what you’ll write about. It’s time to get into the nitty gritty. We’re talking details now.

The difference between a blog that gets hundreds of thousands of hits a month and one that gets 2-3K of traffic is often keyword research and optimization.

You can be a great writer with incredible content, but if Google can’t find the content – then most people won’t, either.

Search engine optimization matters. A LOT! There have been whole books written on the topic of keyword research and optimization. So I won’t get too deep here. Let’s just look at the basics.

– Researching Keywords –

To research keywords, you’ll need to sign up for a service. There are free options and paid options. You’re just starting out blogging, so keeping things cheap will work fine.

As such, I recommend starting out with Keyword Eye. The service lets you research ten keywords every day for free. That’s all you need.

Just sign up and start researching keywords for your article ideas you have in an Excel spreadsheet.

If you want to go pro from the start, then check out SEM Rush. It’s pricey, but absolutely ideal with regards to keyword research.

– Writing Headlines –

A huge part of search engine optimization is headline writing. A shitty headline almost ensures you’ll never make page one for the keyword you want.

The headline of your article should draw in the reader. When someone reads your headline, they should want to click on your article.

So, how do you write great headlines? That’s simple. Start by using one of these methods:

  • How to…(how to articles work)
  • 10 Best…(numbered lists work)
  • Why…(question articles often work, too)

Next, you’ll take these type of headlines and add your keyword. Let’s look at a keyword no blog would ever rank for:

Nike Basketball Shoes

Here are a few article headlines that incorporate this keyword into a catchy headline:

  • 10 Best Nike Basketball Shoes from the 2,000s
  • 11 Pairs of Nike Basketball Shoes You Need to Buy Today
  • Why Nike Basketball Shoes Are NOT the Best in the World Any Longer
  • How to Properly Clean and Care For Nike Basketball Shoes

It’s not that difficult. You can find a way to incorporate EVERY keyword you’re targeting into a headline.

– Article Length –

Once you have a keyword and an article headline, you’ll have to start creating the content. As the average article on page one of Google is over 1,800 words these days, longer is better.

For beginning bloggers, you should strive to create articles between 800-2,000 words. Anything under 800 words is almost a waste of time.

– Yoast SEO –

Last, but not least – don’t ignore Yoast SEO. Every article you write should show up “Green” in the Yoast SEO Plugin after publishing.

Unless you’re writing a story or not planning to make any money from the article (AKA wasting your time), you should make sure the plugin is “Green” after you publish.

If it’s not, adjust the article until it is. Point. Blank. Period.

Time to Pump Content

Ok, so now you have a site, you have headlines, you have keywords, and you’re ready to craft some content.

Let’s do it.

To be a successful blogger, you’re going to need a whole lot of content. Google is greedy. They reward people who post consistently.

The more you post, the more views your blog will get – if you put a little effort into SEO.

How to start a blog that gets Google love? Post a ton of content.

I’m talking 100-200 posts within the first year. I’m talking 200K words within the first 7-8 months. Write a whole lot of stuff.

Play the Waiting Game

And what happens once you write a ton of content? You have to wait, and wait some more. It’ll take 3-8 months before any article you write gets Google love.

Once you have an established site, that timespan will go down to 1-5 months. But to start out? Don’t plan on seeing a lot of results before 8-10 months in.

Does Social Media Matter?

If you’re starting out a blog, does social media matter? That depends on who you ask. Some people have built their brand around social media. Other famous bloggers delete their Twitter accounts.

Social media can matter, but for first-time bloggers, pumping good content with keyword optimization is much more important.

Get on Twitter. Build a following on Instagram. But don’t invest too much time into social media just yet.

How to Start a Blog: Your No-BS Guide to Making Cash

So that’s pretty much it. If you’re curious about how to start a blog, the above 2,200 or so words break it down step-by-step.

It’ll take some trial and error, but by following the advice above you’ll be far ahead of the blogging learning curve.

Best of luck! Blogging is fun, but turning it into a business isn’t easy.


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Jake D

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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Gabe Johansson - June 7, 2017

Great guide for sure! I definitely gotta up my SEO game.

I just signed up for Keyword Eye and they have a super cool ‘Question Finder’ tool. I now have 3 low competition (most results are blogs) content ideas in a few seconds.

    NomadicJake - June 7, 2017

    Shit, I didn’t even know about that.

    Going to check that tool out myself, too.

    Thanks for the tip!

Josh Bar - June 9, 2017

Quick and to the point good stuff.
To some extend, commitment and consistency is huge. Writing is the talent/skill, but it takes a special type of person to have the drive to keep it alive.

It’s easier said than done but definitely worth it for those who want to live the “digital nomad” lifestyle.

It goes down in the DM.

    NomadicJake - June 9, 2017

    Yeah, commitment and consistency play a huge role. You need to publish a lot to make real money.

    I’d only recommend people build sites if they want to travel around. Otherwise, it’s not really worth it.

Calm and Collected - October 28, 2017

Your advice on keywords is something that people never pay attention to. Yes, it’s good to write and let them come. BUT YOU ALSO NEED TO WRITE FOR GOOGLE.

Keep it up brother!

    NomadicJake - October 28, 2017

    Keyword research will pay the bills. Don’t write without a little keyword research before!

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