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How to Make Money Blogging From Home (2020)

It’s not only celebrity bloggers that can make money from their blogs. In this article we’ll show you how you can make money blogging from the comfort of your own home. Whether your goal is to eventually ditch your job, or earn an extra income, you’ve come to the right place.

According to studies, 80% of Americans don’t like their jobs. Being able to make money from your own blog can be a life-changing event.

How much money can you make blogging from home?

This is probably the first and foremost question on your mind right now. Let’s address it right away. As you can imagine, the simple answer is “it depends.”

If you treat your blog as a personal hobby you occasionally work on in your free time, don’t expect miracles. However, if you treat your blog as a business and are prepared to put in the required effort, it can be very rewarding.

Most bloggers don’t publish their income reports online. And, many stop publishing it after a while as they are concerned about copycats.

Below are some examples of successful bloggers.

Show Me The Yummy is a food blog started by Trevor and Jennifer.

In their first income report they earned a modest income of $28 for the month. They were able to increase this to $4,546 within 12 months. And, in just over two years after starting their blog they achieved a monthly income of $46,367.

Fire Nation is a blog for entrepreneurs by John Lee Dumas (JLD for short) in 2012.

In its first year the blog made $69,879. In his last income report JLD reported the blog made $220,439 in that month alone.

Since its launch in 2012 Fire Nation has generated a Gross Income of $17,379,684 and a Net Income of $12,880,013. That’s an average Net Income of over $1.6 million a year.

Just a girl and her blog is a lifestyle blog started by Abby Lawson.

In Abby’s first income report she reported a monthly income of $2,446. In her last income report, her monthly income had grown to $41,700.

Sewrella is a blog about crochet and knitting patterns, started by Ashleigh “Sewrella”

Ashleigh was able to earn a monthly income of $9,775.76 within about two years after she started her blog. Not bad, considering she has very few expenses and $9,603.13 of her income was profit.

If you search for “blog income reports” on Google you’ll find many more examples.

From the above examples, we can learn the following:

  • Income can vary significantly from blog to blog – There’s no right answer to the question of how much money you can make from blogging. What’s clear though, is it’s possible for a blogger to earn a decent monthly income.
  • Don’t expect miracles in your first month – It does take time and dedication to build a successful blog. If you’re worried about the time it will take you, remember the time will pass anyway. The longer you delay starting a blog, the longer it’ll take you to profit from it.
  • It can be very inexpensive to run a blog – Unlike most brick and mortar businesses that have high overhead costs, your average personal blog has very few overheads.

According to PayScale, the average Chief Executive Officer (CEO) earns an annual salary of $156,319.

Based on 99Firms, it’s estimated that 2% of bloggers earn over $150,000 pa. This may not sound like there are too many high-earning bloggers. However, with over 152 million blogs on the internet, it means millions of bloggers earn more than $150,000 every year.

What to blog about?

By now you’re probably wondering what you should blog about. Perhaps you already have an idea in mind, or maybe you’re totally clueless. There are literally thousands of niches to choose from, so it’s perfectly normal if you’ve not yet made a final decision.

If you can’t think of a good niche right now, don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list of 1,452 niche ideas you can download for free by clicking on the following link > niche ideas. It should give you some good ideas to think about.

Here are some guidelines to narrow it down:

  • Choose a niche that you know or are eager to learn more about.
  • You want a niche where people are prepared to spend money to get what they want.
  • Your niche should be large enough for you to make a decent monthly income from it.

Think of yourself as the CEO of a new startup. You need to be confident there’s a profitable market for what you have to offer.

Let’s consider the last two guidelines for a moment. They both require some research on your part.

Look for a niche with hungry buyers

If you’re part of the target audience for your niche, you should have a good idea if it’s full of hungry buyers. However, even if you are, it’s still a good idea to validate this.

Are there ads on the 1st page of Google?

Ads on the 1st page of Google is often a good measure of commercial interest in the niche.

Let’s use “crochet patterns” as an example.

The following ad appears on the 1st page of Google:

Etsy

It’s an ad from Etsy. The ad clearly creates the impression there are buyers in this niche.

Note: If you’re not in the U.S. and would like to see U.S. ads, use a tool such as I Search From. It’s a tool for Google Ads advertisers to see what their ads look like in other countries.

How do your competitors on the 1st page of Google monetize their sites?

The first organic listing for the keyword “crochet patterns” is a site called Crazy Patterns.

Organic Listing

This site sells patterns. It seems it’s the only way they’re monetizing the site as there are no apparent ads or affiliate links. This is perfectly normal for an ecom site. A sales page should not contain distracting ads or links to other sites.

Have a look at the other sites on the 1st page of google to find out how they monetize their pages.

Note: If a site only has Google Ads, see it as a warning sign. Most sites that only use Google Ads make very little money.

Based on what we’ve seen it would appear that this niche has hungry buyers.

The next step is to establish if the niche is large enough for you to make a decent income from it. This requires keyword research.

Keyword Research

Both Ubersuggest and Keywords Everywhere are good tools for keyword research.

Ubersuggest

Let’s stick to our example of “crochet patterns.”

Uber Suggest Search Volume

From the above screenshot you’ll see the keyword “crochet patterns” is searched for about 40,500 times every month. Based on this, there’s a lot of interest in it.

With Ubersuggest you can also get many additional keyword ideas for your blog’s content.

Uber Suggest Additional Keywords

Ubersuggest has a free and a paid version. Normally the free version will be more than sufficient for your needs.

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is a browser add-on for Chrome and Firefox.

With the free version you’ll be shown “Related Keywords” and “People Also Search For.” The paid version will also show you search volume. Since the paid version is very inexpensive, it may be worth paying for. It will save you a lot of time.

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere

You don’t have to pay for it. You can make a note of interesting keywords and search for it on Ubersuggest.

Another useful, and often overlooked tool, is Google Trends.

Google Trends

Google Trends is a free tool from Google.

It shows:

  • Interest over time
  • Interest by sub-region
  • Related topics
  • Related queries.

Google Trends

Google Trends Map

Google Trends Related Topics

It looks like interest in crochet patterns remains fairly stable and has actually picked up a bit.

Don’t forget our first guideline, namely: Choose a niche that you know or are eager to learn more about. Crochet patterns may be a large enough, profitable niche. However, if you know nothing about it or are not eager to learn more about it, walk away.

How do bloggers make money?

Here are 12 of the most popular ways to monetize your blog:

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the best and most profitable ways to monetize your blog.

It’s a great way to earn a passive income from your blog.

With affiliate marketing you enter into an agreement with a merchant that you’ll promote their product(s) or service(s). If someone clicks on your affiliate link and buys something from the merchant you earn a commission on the sale.

A good example is Amazon Associates, the affiliate program of Amazon. It gives you the opportunity to choose between millions of products to promote on your blog.

Note: At BrandBuilders we can supply you with pre-made turnkey affiliate sites. We also offer custom Amazon affiliate sites.

Some of the top affiliate networks are:

  • ClickBank – Great for high-commission digital products.
  • ShareASale – Has thousands of merchants on their site.
  • CJ Affiliate – The world’s largest, most established affiliate marketing network.

There are also many privately-managed affiliate programs. The best way to find them is to simple search on Google for “best [your niche] affiliate programs.

Alternatively, use the following search query:

“Affiliate program” + “YOUR NICHE”

In addition, most merchants that have an affiliate program will include a link to it at the bottom of their website. The link will typically say “affiliates” or “make money” or “partner with us.”

Always make sure you understand and abide by the rules of the affiliate program.

Note that the FTC expects you to disclose your relationship with any merchant that pays you an incentive to promote them. Your visitors need to know that if they buy something through your affiliate link that you’ll receive a commission.

2. Membership Site

A membership site normally charges members a fixed monthly amount to become a member. In return the site owner provides members with high quality content.

Most membership sites use one of the following two models, namely:

a. Give members access to all their content when they join.

It may seem strange to give new members access to all your content when they join. Why would they remain a member for more than one month? Well, this model works well if you have a lot of content to share.

You want new members to feel overwhelmed by all the content. Think of it as drinking from a fire hydrant. They feel they’re getting a lot of value and know that more content will be added on a regular basis.

The disadvantage of this model is that you need to have a lot of content to start off with.

b. Drip-feed content on a monthly basis.

Many new membership site owners think drip-feeding content to their members on a monthly basis is the best option. However, it’s not really an obvious choice.

Joining a membership site just to find very limited content can make you feel you’re not getting value for your money. Many new members will not hang around until the next month to see what’s next.

The advantage of this model is that you don’t need to start off with a lot of content. You can add new content on a monthly basis.

This model may work well for the crochet pattern niche we looked at earlier. You can for example add 10 new patterns every month that aren’t available anywhere else.

Consider that, according to Yaro Starak, most people won’t stay a member for more than three months. Starting a membership site isn’t easy. You may want to think twice before going down this road.

If you do decide to start one, use a good WordPress plugin such as MemberPress. Their basic plan costs $149 per year which is a very reasonable price for this plugin.

3. Offer Consulting Services

Offering a consulting service can be a lucrative way of monetizing your blog.

It’s typically geared towards businesses. And, as we know, the average business has deeper pockets than your average consumer.

Use your blog to showcase your expertise on a certain topic by providing high-quality content. You need to be seen as an expert in your niche.

Tell your visitors WHAT to do and WHY they should do it. Let them know you have a consulting service where you can show them HOW to do it. This would be based on their unique needs and circumstances.

You don’t need an MBA from Harvard to do this. If you have skills and experience that businesses would be prepared to pay for, you can earn good money.

Your consulting service doesn’t have to be directly related to a traditional business component such as taxes. It can also be on personal improvement topics within the workplace. These include topics like time management, and productivity.

The disadvantage of running a consulting service is that it’s often either feast or famine. There will be months you’re so busy working with a client you don’t know if you’re coming or going. There will also be months where you’re scrambling to find a new client.

As a consultant, your income can be very unstable. One way of improving this is to negotiate a monthly retainer with your client.

Monthly Retainer

Once you’ve completed a project, established trust and a good relationship with your client, propose a monthly retainer fee. What it means is that your client will pay you a monthly fee to have access to you. Access to your knowledge, time, and expertise.

This means your client should be able to reach you at reasonable times to ask you a question, or get advice. You can communicate via email, a video call, or even just a simple phone call.

If you’re on a retainer, your client is probably not going to pay you for a quick 5-minute phone call. You need to have a clear agreement with your client on what’s included in the retainer fee and what’s not.

The advantage for your client is they can reach out to you whenever necessary.

You can build up a nice, stable monthly income once you’re working with a couple of clients on a retainer basis.

4. Offer Coaching Services

Offering coaching services is similar to offering consulting services. However, with a coaching service, you’re offering your services to individuals, not businesses. Typical examples include a life coach, and personal fitness coach.

Provide great content on your blog and invite visitors to one-on-one coaching. People perceive one-on-one coaching as a high-end, personalized service. They’re willing to pay a premium price for it.

With high-end services like coaching, you need to have a sales funnel in place. Most people won’t pay you $200 for a 1-hour coaching session if they don’t know and trust you. Trust is earned. Give first, take later.

By providing your audience with great, free content you establish trust. Instead of jumping from free content to expensive coaching, offer them something else first. It can be an ebook or a course. Then offer them coaching.

Anastasia from AnastasiaBlogger.com is a good example. She’s a Pinterest marketing expert. She shares great free content on her blog and YouTube channel. She has her own Pinterest marketing course.

Her standard course sells for $397. She also has an advanced option that includes a 1-hour coaching session. The advanced option costs $647.

This is how she packages it:

AnastasiaBlogger.com

5. Offer Freelancing Services

There are many sites where you can make money working as a freelancer.

Some of the more popular freelancing sites, are:

The above sites are great. However, if you’re new to freelancing it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Having your own blog where you can showcase your skills can make a big difference.

Freelancing doesn’t even have to be your main method of monetizing your blog. You can combine it with other methods. All you have to do is add a link on your blog that says something like: “Work with me” or “Freelancing Services.”

Many of your blog visitors will be people looking for ideas and inspiration for their own blogs. They may even be from a marketing agency or large business. If they like what they see they may very well approach you to freelance for them.

You can also make more money if you find a client via your own blog. You can often charge more. And, you don’t have to share a big chunk of your earnings with a freelancing site.

The biggest disadvantage of finding clients via your blog is the risk that you won’t get paid. Most clients won’t pay in advance. The solution to this problem is to use an escrow service to protect you and your client.

Your client deposits money in escrow. This gives you peace of mind knowing that if you deliver what you promised, you’ll get paid. It also gives your client peace of mind. You cannot run off with their money before completing what you agreed to do.

The best known escrow service is Escrow.com. Their fees vary a lot depending on the amount deposited with them and the funding method. They do have a calculator you can use to calculate it in advance.

Another option, especially for freelancers, is Upwork. They offer a Direct Contracts service. This allows you to enter into a fixed-priced contract with non-Upwork clients. Your client deposits the funds into escrow with them. They only charge you a small 3.4% fee per contract.

6. Sell Ad Space

Selling ad space is a popular monetization tool used by many bloggers. You can reserve certain spots on your blog for paid ads, like banner ads.

Advertisers can normally reach you through a link on your site, such as “Advertise Here” or “Advertise with Us.” After clicking on this link they’ll be shown what ad and placement options are available.

Your ad page can contain a media kit that potential advertisers can download. A typical media kit will, at the very least, include your traffic statistics. You can also publish your latest traffic statistics on your ad page instead of offering a media kit.

Make sure that all ads are relevant to your audience. It’s a good idea to have an advertising policy page on your site. Use it to stipulate what type of ad content you’ll allow, or won’t allow.

Never accept ads that might compromise the user experience of your visitors. This doesn’t only include the topic of the ad but also the number of ads on a page.

Note that Google expects you to use a rel=”nofollow” or rel=”sponsored” tag for paid links. This shows Google that the link isn’t a vote of confidence from your site to that one.

Practically speaking, selling ad space isn’t really an option for a new blogger. It’s something you can consider once your site starts attracting a lot of traffic. By then it’s also very likely that you’ve found better ways to monetize your blog.

7. Sponsored Blog Posts

Sponsored blog posts, also sometimes referred to as paid blog posts, is a good way to monetize your blog. This is on condition they add value to your visitors and offer them a good user experience.

Make sure you comply with the FTC’s Endorsement Guides or you could end up in hot water. You have to be transparent if you have a financial interest in the post.

Using the following wording at either the beginning or end of the post should help you comply with the FTC:

“This blog post is sponsored by (name of advertiser)”

Normally sponsored posts are, either:

  • Written by you based on a brief from your client.
  • Written by your client but edited by you before being published.

The latter option is usually used with most sponsored posts.

Being paid for a sponsored post is not the only advantage. A high quality post adds valuable content to your site that’s helpful to your visitors. And, it’s written by a third party that might be more knowledgeable on the topic than you are.

The rate you can charge for a sponsored post will largely depend on your niche and traffic stats.

If you don’t get a lot of traffic to your blog, rather invite visitors to submit guest posts. Don’t charge them for it as they’re helping you build your site. The posts should be high quality, original, and relevant to your audience.

Free guest posts shouldn’t contain affiliate links, and shouldn’t be overly promotional. It’s customary to allow the author to post a short bio with one or two links to their site.

8. Sell Your Own Ebook / Course

Many highly successful bloggers have their own ebook(s) and course(s). It can be a great additional income stream for your blog.

If you’re new to blogging, rather focus on creating content for your blog than spend time writing a masterpiece. Once your blog is established and starts getting traffic, it would be a good time to add your own ebook. The next step would be to add your own course.

E-Junkie

E-junkie is a good shopping cart and digital delivery service to use. With E-junkie you can even set up your own affiliate program.

Easy Digital Downloads

Another very popular solution for digital downloads is Easy Digital Downloads. It’s a WordPress plugin that you can manage straight from your WordPress admin area.

9. Pay-per-click (PPC) Ads

For many years Google Adsense has been a very popular way to monetize a blog.

Google gets paid by advertisers to place ads on relevant websites such as your blog. When a visitor clicks on an ad, Google shares part of their income with you.

Sounds easy? It is easy. The problem with Google Adsense is that you need a lot of traffic to make good money.

The advantage of pay-per-click ads is it’s passive income. Once you’ve set it up you don’t really need to touch it again unless you’re trying to optimize it.

There are some good WordPress plugins you can use to manage ads, including Google Adsense, on your blog. Two of the most popular ones are Advanced Ads, and Ad Inserter. If you want to use Google Adsense they’re worth looking at.

We suggest you don’t focus on PPC ads such as Google Adsense, at least not in the beginning. Ads can be distracting for your visitors. It’s not worth compromising their user experience for a couple of dollars a month.

When your site is getting a decent amount of traffic we suggest reconsider PPC ads.

Two great alternatives to Google Adsense are Mediavine and AdThrive. Both these platforms can help you earn a lot more than you can make with Adsense. However, before you can apply with them you need great content and a lot of traffic.

Mediavine requires your blog to have at least 25,000 sessions per month.

Mediavine

In the case of AdThrive, they require at least 100,000 monthly pageviews.

AdThrive

10. Sell Physical Products

Depending on your niche, selling physical products can be a good way to monetize your blog.

Many bloggers don’t really consider selling physical products because they believe it’s too much trouble. In reality, it can be a great income stream that’s not difficult to manage.

You have a choice between selling your own products or starting a dropshipping business.

Sell your own products

You don’t need to be a large manufacturer in order for this to work.

Etsy is a massive marketplace for handmade items, craft supplies, and much more. According to Statista, there were 2.5 million sellers and 45.7 million buyers on Etsy in 2019.

Etsy

Browsing through Etsy can give you many good ideas if you’re thinking of selling your own physical products.

There are many other products besides handmade items you can sell. The sky’s the limit. You can even order live worms online from WormMan.com.

Start a dropshipping business

By starting a dropshipping business, you’re acting as a trader / reseller.

The process is very simple:

Step 1. Find a merchant who will ship directly to your client.

Step 2. Find a good product to sell.

Step 3. Add your markup to the merchant’s price.

Step 4. List the product on your blog or ecommerce store.

Step 5. Once you get a sale, place an order on the merchant.

What’s great about this business model is that you don’t manufacture anything. You don’t have to hold any inventory, and shipping is taken care of for you.

In the past nearly all products were sourced from China on sites like AliExpress. Dealing with Chinese suppliers can sometimes get complicated due to language barriers and shipment delays.

Today there are many dropshipping suppliers in the U.S. and Europe that ship worldwide.

Spocket.co – 60% of their suppliers are based in the U.S. or Europe.

Note: Spocket.co integrates with WooCommerce, a WordPress ecommerce plugin.

SaleHoo – Have a database of over 8,000 global suppliers.

Worldwide Brands – Lists many U.S. wholesalers / dropshippers.

11. Sell Digital Products

Apart from selling your own ebook or online course, there are many digital products you can sell from your blog.

Examples include:

  • Software
  • Videos
  • Audio & Music
  • Photos
  • Graphics

But what if you don’t have any of the above products to sell or don’t know how to create them?

One solution is to pay someone to create an exclusive product for you. This can be quite costly.

Another solution is to buy PLR (Private Label Rights) products.

With PLR products you can normally edit the content, and even add your name to it. It’s a great way to have an instant product you can use to build your list (more about that later), or sell.

Most PLR products are absolute garbage. However, there are good PLR products on the market. Even if they require editing, it’s often still better than coming up with your own product from scratch.

To find PLR content, do a simple search in Google:

“YOUR NICHE” + PLR

There are also many sites that sell PLR content. These include:

The above sites all have PLR content covering many different niches.

Not all PLR products give you the same user rights. Make sure you fully understand what you can and can’t do with the product before you buy it.

Note: Never publish PLR content on your blog. You want only high quality, original content on your blog.

12. Email Marketing

Most successful online marketers will tell you, the money is in the list. Having a list of people in your niche you can legally reach out to via email is a valuable asset.

If you have a responsive list that you’ve nurtured with free, helpful, and high quality content you’ve done well.

Assume only 2% of your list respond favorably to products you promote. This means that even if you have a small list of only 1,000 people, 20 people will take action. If you get $25 per sale, that’s $500 in your pocket from one email.

One of the biggest regrets from many successful bloggers is that they didn’t start an email list sooner.

There are many autoresponder companies on the market. ActiveCampaign is a good choice. They are reasonably priced, are easy to use, and have high delivery rates. Expect to pay $29 per month for their Lite Plan for 1,000 contacts.

Active Campaign

Another option is ConvertKit. They are especially popular with bloggers since they’re so easy to use. They also charge $29 per month for 1,000 subscribers. You can open a limited free account that’ll allow you to manage up to 500 subscribers.

Two things should be clear by now, namely:

  1. There are many ways you can make money blogging.
  1. You need a lot of traffic before you can earn a decent income.

This brings us to the next topic, namely how to build a well-optimized blog that’ll drive traffic to your site.

How to build a well-optimized blog

WordPress.org is by far the most popular platform for bloggers, and the one we’ll be using.

Before you can start building your blog, you first need to buy a domain name and find a host for your blog.

Note: Never use the same company as your domain name registrar and hosting provider. If you want to move to another host it can be a pain to get your domain name transferred. And, if your blog is hacked or suspended you run the risk of losing your domain name as well.

Buy a domain name

Choosing your domain name can be a lot of fun. It can also be very frustrating, especially if you can’t find a good name that’s still available to be registered.

Here are some tips to help you decide:

  • Keep it short – Try to limit it to two words, or three words at the most. Consider using your own name as the brand name of your personal blog.
  • Use a .com – This is the most popular domain. It’s also the one that most people will automatically assume you’re using.
  • Don’t use hyphens – If you can’t register your ideal domain name, don’t settle for a hyphenated version of it. Many people will forget it’s hyphenated when typing it and may visit your competitor by mistake.
  • Keep it memorable – Your domain name should be easy to remember.
  • Use a relevant name – Unless you’re using your own name, try to include a relevant keyword in your domain name.

Use a domain registrar with a good reputation, such as Namecheap.com. You’re looking at paying about $10 for a .com. Just remember to renew your domain name every year. It’s not a one-time purchase.

Find a reliable host

Now that you’ve registered your domain name, the next step is to find a host for your blog. This is necessary in order for your blog to be seen on the Internet.

SiteGround and WPX are both great choices for hosting your blog. They both specialize in hosting WordPress blogs. In addition, both offer a free SSL certificate for your blog.

When you visit a site using the Chrome browser, you’ll see the following if that site doesn’t have a SSL certificate.

Not Secure SSL

A site with a valid SSL certificate will have a padlock.

Secure SSL

A site that says “Not secure” doesn’t inspire confidence with your visitors. In addition, having a SSL certificate is a ranking signal for Google. A secure blog will, all else being equal, rank better than one that’s not secure.

SiteGround is officially recommended by WordPress.org. WPX is more expensive than SiteGround but claims to be the fastest WordPress host.

Site speed is a ranking signal.Here’s what Google says about site speed:

“You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re introducing a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests.”

Although there are many things that may slow your site down, a fast host is an advantage.

Another important factor to consider is customer service. There will be times when you have a problem with your site that requires immediate intention. Both SiteGround and WPX have a good customer service reputation.

Once you’ve signed up with a hosting company, you have to link your domain name to your hosting account. If you experience any problems, ask your hosting company to assist you.

Install WordPress.org

If your host offers WordPress managed hosting, they should have a simple click-and-install function for WordPress. If not, it’s best to contact your host for assistance on how to install WordPress on your blog.

Once you’ve installed WordPress, you’ll see a “Welcome World!” message.

WordPress

Great, you’ve got WordPress installed. Starting a blog can be a daunting experience. Don’t feel overwhelmed. Just take it one step at a time and you’ll soon have a beautiful, optimized blog.

Choose a theme

The default WordPress theme for 2020 is Twenty Twenty.

Twenty Twenty Theme

Your theme is the first thing people see when they land on your site. It has to create a great impression. Twenty Twenty has over 1 million active installations. You don’t want your blog to have the same look as thousands of other blogs.

If you decide to keep the default theme, it’s possible to customize it.

Customize Theme

Within your admin area, select Appearance >> Customize.

You can also use a popular page builder like Elementor to completely change the look and feel of your blog.

Elementor

Elementor is a free WordPress plugin that you can download straight from your admin area.

Add Elementor

Within your admin area, select Plugins >> Add New. Next, search for Elementor.

Elementor has a detailed tutorial on how to customize your WordPress theme.

There are many free and paid WordPress themes you can choose from on the Internet.

WPForms has put together a list of what they consider to be the best responsive themes for WordPress. They have 60+ themes on their list.

Installing a new theme is very easy. One of the themes that WPForms recommend is a free theme from ThemeIsle called Neve. Once downloaded as a zip file, it’s installed as follows.

Install new theme

Within your admin area, select Appearance >> Themes.

Add new theme

Click “Add New”

Upload new theme

Click “Upload Theme”

Finalize theme installation

Choose the zip file you’ve downloaded and click “Install Now”

Besides Neve, there are also some other free responsive themes worth considering, namely:

All of the above themes load fast and can be fully customized, using Elementor. All of them have a free version and a premium paid version.

Elementor also has a pro version that has 50+ additional widgets. With the pro version you can even completely redesign your own blog header and footer. The pro version only costs $49 per year for one site.

If you have to choose between a paid theme and Elementor Pro, we suggest you rather go for Elementor Pro. It offers more, and better design opportunities than most paid themes.

Install the right plugins

As previously mentioned, Google has made it clear that speed is a ranking factor. For this reason, choose the WordPress plugins you install with care. Too many plugins can slow your site down.

You should always have a good reason for installing a plugin.

Note that some plugins are also not compatible with other plugins. Always install, activate, and use plugins one at a time to make sure they’re compatible.

Here are 10 plugins worth considering:

All of the below plugins are free, or have a free version that’s good enough for most users.

  1. Antispam Bee

Antispam Bee WordPress Plugin

Antispam Bee is a great, free plugin to use against comment spam on your blog. You don’t need your visitors to decipher frustrating captchas. The plugin does not send any personal information to third party services, and is 100% GDPR compliant.

Note: WordPress comes with the Akismet spam plugin preinstalled. You just need to register and activate it. Akismet is not as effective as it once was. And, it’s not free, unless you don’t want to monetize your blog.

  1. Elementor

Elementor WordPress Plugin

We’ve already discussed Elementor earlier in this article. But, in case you skipped the previous sections to look at the plugins, here it’s again. It’s a highly recommended page builder that can help you design a beautiful, professional-looking blog.

  1. Essential Addons for Elementor

Essential Addons for Elementor WordPress Plugin

Essential Addons for Elementor includes many additional widgets you can use with Elementor.

  1. Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights WordPress Plugin

Google Analytics is an essential tool from Google to monitor the traffic statistics of your blog.

With Google Analytics by MonsterInsights you can view your traffic statistics straight from your WordPress dashboard.

  1. Wordfence Security

Wordfence Security WordPress Plugin

Wordfence Security is a must have security plugin to protect your blog from being hacked. It notifies you of any vulnerabilities, and plugins that need to be updated. It also shows you attempted logins from third parties on your WordPress dashboard.

  1. Contact Form by WPForms

WPForms WordPress Plugin

Your blog should have a professional looking contact form for visitors to reach you. With WPForms you can design a contact form, and install it on your blog within minutes.

Note: Essential Addons for Elementor that we mentioned above, has a WPForms widget. Simply drag & drop the widget anywhere on your page where you would like the form to be displayed.

  1. Rank Math SEO

Rank Math SEO WordPress Plugin

Your blog should have a SEO plugin that will help and guide you to optimize it for Google. Rank Math is a great plugin for this purpose, and is becoming increasingly popular. Rank Math can also be linked to your Google Search Console.

This way you’ll be able to view important data from Google on your WordPress dashboard.

Rank Math integrates with Elementor. You can get ranking insights straight from your Elementor dashboard by clicking the SEO tab.

Rank Math Elementor Integration

Note: For many years the Yoast SEO plugin reigned supreme. Yoast is still a great SEO plugin. The advantage of Rank Math is that it’s free. It contains many functions that are only available in the paid version of Yoast.

It has some functions that are far superior to what Yoast has to offer. For example, it has 13+ types of Schema Markups. Schema Markups, also called Rich Snippets, give Google more information about your content that Google may display in their search results.

  1. Smush

Smush WordPress Plugin

Large images can have a huge impact on how fast your blog loads. Smush is a good choice for compressing your images, for faster loading times. It also offers “lazy load.” This means not all of your images under the fold will load at the same time as those above the fold.

Tip: Resize your images before uploading them to WordPress. For example, if your theme suggests a logo of 200 x 100px for your header, don’t upload a 2,000 x 1,000px image.

  1. ThirstyAffiliates

ThirstyAffiliates WordPress Plugin

ThirstyAffiliates is an easy and effective way to hide ugly affiliate links. It also tracks your click-through rate to the merchants you’re promoting. And, it integrates with MonsterInsights.

Note: Always select “nofollow” for affiliate links.

  1. WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache WordPress Plugin

A good cache plugin can help your site to run faster. Some plugins can be quite difficult to set up correctly. WP Fastest Cache is easy to use, especially for beginners.

Do you really need a cache plugin?

The best way to answer this question is for you to run a speed test.

PageSpeed Insights

Google has a helpful tool, called PageSpeed Insights.

PageSpeed Insights

This tool analyzes the content of a web page for mobile and desktop devices. It then generates suggestions on what can be done to make that page load faster.

According to PageSpeed Insights, a score of 90 and higher is good. The frustrating part of this tool is that you can run the test 10 times in a row and get 10 different results.

If your page scores less than 90, don’t be discouraged. Chances are even your hosting provider won’t get close to 90, at least not for mobile.

Test your page before and after installing a cache plugin to determine if the plugin is helping.

Pingdom

Pingdom is often a more consistent tool for testing how fast your site loads. Sites that take long to load may lose a lot of visitors.

Pingdom

Pingdom also offers suggestions on what bottlenecks may cause your site to load slow.

Tip: It’s a good idea to run the above speed tests on some of your competitors as well. If all of them are significantly faster than you, you’re at a disadvantage. If your site speed is more or less the same as theirs, you have less to worry about.

How to Internally Optimize Your Content

The single biggest mistake you can make is to write your content as if you’re writing for Google.

The golden rule is: Write content for people, but optimize it for Google.

Google has stated over and over they want to see content that’s written for people and not search engines.

The first point Google makes in Steps to a Google-Friendly Site, is the following:

“Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site.”

and,

“In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.”

If you only remember one thing from this article, it should be the above two paragraphs.

Google’s algorithm has evolved a lot over the years. They are much better today than ever before at understanding the content and meaning of a webpage. They are relying less and less on being “forced” to rank your article for the keyword you want to rank for.

Keywords

Using the right keyword(s) is important. However, Google doesn’t only consider the keyword you want to rank for. They look at the topic, and the overall quality of your content. They try to match search queries with the right content, not just an optimized keyword.

For example, search for the following keyword: how to make money from home.

This is the first result in Google:

Keyword Example 1

It doesn’t contain the exact keyword “how to make money from home” in the title.

It also doesn’t contact the original meta description. By looking at the source code of this page, the original meta description is:

“Do you want to make money from home but avoid getting ripped off? Here are 50 legitimate ways to make extra money from home.”

So, what happened? Google decided that this article is relevant to the search query “how to make money from home.” They ignored the original description and used content from the article instead to describe it. Notice they highlight the words “home,” “earn,” and “money.”

Let’s look at the second result in Google.

Keyword Example 2

It also doesn’t contain the exact keyword “how to make money from home” in the title. It also doesn’t contain the original meta description. Once again, Google has used content from the article to rewrite the description.

Both articles also rank on the first page of Google for the keyword “ways to make money from home.” The Forbes article also ranks on the first page for “make money online.”

Based on the above, by all means use the keyword you want to rank for. But, don’t focus all your attention and effort on that single keyword. Rather focus on delivering excellent content on the topic and you’ll rank for many other keywords as well.

Ahrefs did an interesting study based on 3 million searches. They found that the average #1 ranking page will also rank well for about 1,000 other relevant keywords. This doesn’t mean those other keywords will all be highly competitive keywords though.

Title and Description

The page title and description are two of the most important elements of a webpage.

It’s the first thing people see in Google before they decide on whether or not to click on your link. And, first impressions count. Ahrefs saw a 37.58% increase in organic traffic when they improved their Rank Checker page title.

You should view both your title and description as an advert for your page. They need to entice people to click on your link. They also need to give people an accurate idea of what your page is all about.

If your title says “10 Steps to…” make sure there are 10 steps in the body of your article. Google hates clickbait, which is a form of false advertising.

Page Title

Your title is a ranking factor for Google.

Here are some best practises for writing a great title:

  • Include your main keyword – Your title should always contain your main keyword, preferably as early as possible.
  • Title length should be under 60 characters – Google actually measures title length in pixels. But, as long as you stay under 60 characters your title shouldn’t be cut off, or truncated.
  • Capitalize the first letter of each word – It’s a good practise to capitalize the first letter of each word, except stop words or short words. Capitalize My Title is a great resource that will automatically capitalize the right words.
  • Include numbers and year, when relevant – Numbers attract attention, and year shows the content is current. Instead of writing the word five, rather write 5 for it to stand out. Including the year is relevant when people are looking for the latest information. Example: “5 Best Tried & Tested WordPress Plugins (2020)”
  • It’s okay to include a question – Asking an intriguing question is fine, as long as the question doesn’t have an obvious answer. For example, if you’re a dog breeder selling puppies, don’t write: “Want a puppy?” Rather write: “Cute Thoroughbred Doberman Puppies.”
  • Use emotion or power words in your title – Get people to feel something. In the above point, we included “cute” in our title. That causes an emotional reaction. You can also include power words like “best.”
  • Try to keep your title unique – Have a look at the titles on the first page of Google for your keyword but never copy a title. Google wants their users to have a good user experience. If there are more than one search result with the exact same title, it can be confusing.

Page Description

Page description is not a ranking factor for Google so don’t try to stuff it full of keywords. Rather use it to describe the benefit(s) for the user to visit your site.

Include your primary keyword, and/or a variation thereof in your description. Google highlights the words in your description that are the same or very similar to the search query. This can make your description stand out and attract more attention.

As in the case of your page title, Google measures the length of your description in pixels. The maximum length for a description, before it’s truncated, is about 158 characters. For mobile phones it’s about 120 characters.

As mentioned in the section above where we discussed keywords, Google may not always publish your description. They may choose an alternative description, based on your content, they feel is more relevant.

Headings

Heading tags are a great way to structure the content of a webpage. See it in the same light as you would view chapters in a book.

Google allows for six headings, from H1 to H6, in order of relevance and importance.

H1 is your most important heading and there can only be one H1 heading per page.

In WordPress, your title tag is normally automatically copied as your H1 heading. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Visitors will see the same text on your site as the link in the search results they clicked on. It creates consistency.

The other headings can be used multiple times but must be structured correctly. You also don’t have to use all six headings in one article.

According to Google’s SEO Starter Guide, heading tags should be used sparingly, and only to emphasize important text.

Let’s look at a practical example to better illustrate it.

Assume you write an article about the five most dangerous dog breeds. This is how you can structure it, using headings:

H1 The 5 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds

H2 Breed 1

H3 Why this dog breed is the most dangerous

H4 Reason 1

H4 Reason 2

H4 Reason 3

H2 Breed 2

H3 Why this dog breed made the list

H4 Reason 1

H4 Reason 2

H4 Reason 3

Following this structure, you’ll cover all five dog breeds.

Internal Links

You may already know that Google wants your site to get links from other relevant sites. They see natural links from other sites to your blog as a vote of confidence in your blog. But, internal links are also very important.

By linking from one page to another on your blog, you improve the user experience of your visitors.

For example, instead of just saying people can contact you, insert a link to your contact page. Or, if you have another page on your blog with more details about a topic you are writing about, link to it.

A good internal linking structure shows Google your content is complementary and relevant to your blog topic.

When linking to other pages, use anchor text. Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. Try to use relevant keywords as anchor text.

For example, assume the subject of the page you’re linking to is dog breeds. If you mention “dog breeds” on the page you’re currently working on, use that keyword as your anchor text.

Images

It’s highly recommended you use relevant images in your blog posts to make them more interesting. We are visual beings and adding an image is a good way to illustrate something.

Always optimize your images by using the “alt” attribute. This tells Google what the image is about. Keep it short and relevant.

For example, assume you’re writing about how to make pancakes. If you add a photo of pancakes in your post, use “pancakes” as your alt text.

Whenever possible, post original images. If you can’t, there are many websites that have stock images you can use for your blog. A good free stock image website is Pixabay. It has over 1.7 million images you can use.

You can use Canva or PicMoney to edit or design beautiful, professional-looking images.

Site Navigation

This is what Google has to say about navigation:

“The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important.”

Use a navigation bar to make it easy for visitors to navigate your blog. The navigation bar should either be in your header, or just below your header.

Whenever possible, try to link to important pages or blog posts straight from your homepage.

You should also include links to important pages in the footer of your blog. This can include links to your privacy policy, website disclaimer, and contact page you didn’t include in your header.

Avoid Duplicate Content

Google’s definition of duplicate content, is “blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”

Here are some tips on how to avoid duplicate content:

  • Limit content that appears on all pages – Having the same content on every single page, such as long copyright text, may be viewed as duplicate content. Rather just mention a brief summary, and link to a page people can visit for more details.
  • Reduce similar content – If you have several pages with similar content, combine them into one authority page. Alternatively, expand on the content within those pages so they don’t look too similar.
  • Don’t publish “empty” pages – Visitors don’t like seeing blank pages. Don’t publish a page that doesn’t have any real content on it.

Google understands that most cases of duplicate content aren’t deliberate. Should this be the case they normally won’t take any action against your blog. However, if they feel you are intentionally trying to manipulate them, they may remove your site from their search results.

High Quality Content

Posting high quality, original, and comprehensive content is the best way to rank well in Google. Such content can send you a lot of free organic traffic.

NeilPatel.com published an interesting article after they analyzed 203,900 data points. They found that the focus should be on topics and long tail phrases, not keywords. According to the article “it’s about the depth and comprehensive coverage of the content.”

This is how a site with a low domain authority and fewer backlinks can outrank a much larger rival.

Before you start writing a new blog post, make sure you’ve done your research. Spend as much time as necessary to plan the structure of your article before you write the first word.

Develop a content strategy. If after every article you have to think about what to write next, you don’t have the right approach. If you want to make money as a blogger you have to plan ahead.

We have a good article about blog ideas that can help get your creative juices flowing.

Don’t follow a shotgun approach where you blindly fire off in all directions hoping you’ll hit something. You can make a huge success of your blog without having to rely on luck.

Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. To summarize:

  • There are many successful bloggers, and you can be one of them.
  • We’ve looked at how you can find a profitable niche for your blog.
  • We’ve discussed 12 ways you can monetize your blog.
  • You’ve learned how to build a well-optimized blog.
  • We covered several ways you can optimize your content for high SEO rankings.

By following the advice and recommendations in this article, you’ll be able to build your blog on a solid foundation.

Trust you’ve enjoyed this article on how to make money blogging. To discover how we can help you grow your online business, book a free 30-minute consultation with us now.

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