How to Start a Blog for Free and Make Money

How to Start a Blog for Free and Make Money

Blogging is one of the easiest side hustles to start from home, but it isn’t always lucrative.
Insider spoke with two bloggers who make more than $100,000 a year from their websites.
They shared six strategies for getting started and earning an income from writing.
Starting a blog is easy, but making money from it is not. It can be one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make money from home, if you do it right.Insider spoke with two bloggers who turned their writing hobby into six-figure businesses. They gave six tips for how to do it.1. Use a call to action

North’s blog was based on her experience immigrating from the UK to Portugal.

Courtesy of Samantha North

It can take months, if not years, to build a large enough audience for lucrative ad income. Samantha North, 40, started her blog, Digital Émigré, in September 2020 while she was relocating to Portugal from the UK. The site aimed to provide tips and advice for getting residency in European Union countries.Traffic was slow for the first few months. To find her audience, North created a Facebook group, called Get US Citizenship, where she shared blog posts from her website.On each blog post she’d add a call-to-action link offering $175 consultations for people looking to make the move. She said she’d take about six calls a week.2. Use keyword research to rank higher on GoogleSearch-engine optimization can help bring in organic traffic that can translate into ad revenue.North said she researched the terms people were looking for and used that as a starting point to build content.She said she’d notice that people were searching on Google for long, specific terms, such as “bank accounts for British expats in Europe,” and would then base a blog post on the terms to attract readers.If she saw that people were searching generally for information about citizenship in a European country, she’d write five articles about that topic, each focused on a different country.North said that when she started publishing blog posts using SEO every day in May 2022, she noticed a marked increase in her search traffic: Over six months she went from 5,000 visitors to her website a month to 100,000 visitors.3. Use AI to help you write more contentWriting blog posts can be time-intensive. North turned to artificial-intelligence tools like Jasper and ChatGPT.She said she learned to make the prompts for the chatbots specific. “If you give very detailed instructions about the tone, the style, and the outline, then you will get much, much better results,” she said.North used AI to outline her posts, write headings, and put ideas into bulleted lists. She said she found that using AI tools to group keywords into topics helped her generate ideas.”Let’s say you had 100 keywords — you could use AI to group them into logical topic areas,” she said. “Then you could write 10 blog posts on one topic cluster and another 10 blog posts around another cluster.”4. Sign up for ad-management services to make passive income

Bonds started her blog about jobs for stay-at-home moms after struggling to make an income from home.

Courtesy of Whitney Bonds

Bloggers don’t need a minimum amount of traffic in order to generate revenue through Google AdSense. But when they reach a certain traffic threshold, they can sign up for ad-management platforms, which can be more lucrative.Whitney Bonds, 34, was working a 9-to-5 when she became pregnant with her second child. She wanted to quit her job but needed to bring in an income, alongside her husband, to support her family.She started searching for ways to make money while staying at home, and she came across bloggers who claimed to make $100,000 a month.”I wanted to create a website for moms like me looking for legitimate ways to make money from home,” Bonds said. In January 2018 she created Tried and True Mom Jobs, where she shared the stories of moms she’d found in Facebook groups and interviewed.When she started getting traffic from search, she signed up for Mediavine, an ad-management service for bloggers with at least 50,000 visitors a month.Bonds made $50,000 from ads alone in her second year. She said that ranking highly on Google helped make her income more passive. “Once you get in the search results, you’re really set up for long-term growth,” she said.North started by using the ad-management site Ezoic. With about 30,000 visitors a month, she made about $1,000 a month. When she hit 50,000 readers a month, she applied to Mediavine.”With Ezoic, I had to adjust the ads myself and tinker with technical things, which I didn’t enjoy,” she said. “I wanted a more hands-off experience.”5. To succeed with affiliate marketing, sell products you use yourselfBloggers can earn a commission through affiliate marketing, which encourages readers to buy something by clicking a trackable link or using a unique code.Bonds received her first affiliate commission — $500 — after advertising a bookkeeping course she’d used on her website in 2018. She described it as a “light-bulb moment.”Bonds included links to courses or products in her blogs. For example, in a post about stay-at-home-mom jobs that paid well, she mentioned someone who’d made money proofreading and included an affiliate link to a proofreading course she’d taken.She said that to avoid scams, she’d make sure she knew someone who’d taken the course.Last year she made six figures from her site; about half of her income came from affiliate marketing and the other half from ad revenue.North said she tried to promote only things she’d used or tested herself.She said that using affiliate platforms such as ShareASale helped keep affiliate marketing passive. “The only hassle is managing the affiliate links — making sure none are broken, making sure every post has the right affiliate links,” said North.6. Reach out to brands for partnershipsNorth said brand partnerships could be more lucrative than affiliate marketing. North made £115,000 in 2022, with about half her income coming from affiliate marketing and referral partnerships.She said she approached businesses that offered services relevant to her niche — such as relocation companies, lawyers, or tax advisors — for ad hoc partnerships.”It’s more labor-intensive than affiliate marketing, but it’s more tailored as well,”she said. “Typically the commissions are higher and it’s easier to negotiate them.”She’d write a post about getting a certain visa and include a link at the end for the reader to fill out a form to be introduced to a lawyer in their network. If a reader hired one of the lawyers through her website, North would get a commission. She said she’d make sure she knew the lawyers so that she could vouch for them.Insider has verified these figures with documentation.

Recommended For You