Blogging is a passion of mine, and I am so lucky to be able to call it my full time job. Lots of people have been asking me what you really need to start a blog as a business, so I have put together a list of everything you need to set up a blog as a business.
The hardware you will need to start a blog
Although you can blog from a phone or tablet, blogging from a computer or laptop is much easier. It is easier to tinker with your theme, set up widgets, edit photos and I even find that I can write better on a computer. I have a laptop and a desktop computer, and I find that I am much more productive when I am working at my computer instead of my laptop.
You will also need an internet connection, although if you are reading this then let's assume you have that sorted!
A topic that you are passionate about
Anyone can start a blog as a business, however if you aren't passionate about the topic or topics you are writing about, then it will become a long, hard slog and you might never quite crack it. Whether it is personal finance, your children, model railways or something entirely different, you must be passionate about the subject you are covering. Not only will it help you to succeed, it takes less time to write posts on something you love, and your passion will shine through.
You might be interested in what these bloggers wish they knew before they started blogging.
Hosting and a domain name
You can host your blog somewhere for free, like Blogger or a free WordPress account, however, if you are serious about turning your blog into a business then this is the best investment you can make. A self hosted blog means that you are in complete control and having a domain name looks extremely professional. A domain name is like my website name – www.EmmaDrew.Info instead of something like websitename.blogspot.com.
When you choose a free hosting provider, you run the risk of them closing down, restricting your account or changing their terms and conditions to no longer allow certain ways to make money. For the sake of less than £50 per year,
I have recently switched my blog over to TSO Host, with their “professional plan” for £49.99. The cheaper plans don't come with a domain name, so if you do choose a cheaper plan remember that you'll need to add about £10 on for your domain name.
What's more, I have a discount code for you to get 10% off your hosting with TSO Host. Simply enter code “emmadrew003” (without the quotation marks) at checkout and you will receive 10% off your first payment. If you choose to pay monthly then it will only be applied to your first monthly payment, so to get the best saving, opt for 12 or 24 months.
A WordPress theme
A WordPress theme dictates how your website looks. There are plenty of free themes around, but I opted for a paid theme from Studiopress (I use Brunch Pro if you're interested). Themes from Studiopress are already mobile device ready which is so important to Google search rankings these days. Plus I've found a theme that I absolutely love, and I can customise easily. There's also support available from Studiopress, so if your budget allows it, and you want a beautiful theme, I would definitely consider getting a theme from Studiopress.
A mailing list
Over the past few months I have learned the importance of having a mailing list. A mailing list, or newsletter subscribers, are people who are inviting you to pop into their inbox, which is quite a privilege. Typically, these are readers who are really keen to hear about your latest blog post, or anything you are promoting such as offers or competitions. They are almost super fans, and a mailing list is a good idea all around. Here's why:
- You can increase your page views by telling your subscribers that you have a new post
- You can send them emails with affiliate offers inside, earning you more money
- You can offer sponsored newsletters to brands who want to connect with your audience
Even if you aren't planning on sending out newsletters straight away, it is important to start collecting email addresses as soon as you can. You'll need a mailing list provider, Mail Chimp is free up to 2,000 subscribers, however I have switched to using ConvertKit. ConvertKit was created with bloggers in mind, and it is easy to see that every time I use it. It is an investment that has paid for itself over and over! With ConvertKit I can run free email courses, offer freebies like my free money making checklist and send out newsletters whenever I want. Unfortunately, ConvertKit don't offer a free trial, however, if you are unhappy within 30 days simply let them know because they offer a 30 day refund policy.
Pretty link plugin
The Pretty Link plugin is amazing and I wish I had known about it sooner! Pretty Link lets you take an affiliate link (or any link) and turn it from a long, ugly looking link into something beautiful. Here's an example of my link to my Profit Accumulator, a matched betting website:
The original link is: http://www.profitaccumulator.co.uk/idevaffiliate/idevaffiliate.php?id=2691
The pretty link is: https://www.emmadrew.info/matchedbetting
You can see how much prettier it looks (hence the name), but it also helps when I share links on social media.
Pretty Link also has some awesome features, like tracking how many clicks your link has received. Plus, if your affiliate link changes, or you want to promote another company, just change the link once and it will change in all your blog posts.
There are two version of the plugin, the free version and the pro version. The free version is fine for most people – I upgraded to the pro version because there is a feature that let's you change all your existing affiliate links, and when I started using it I had over 500 blog posts to change, so it was well worth the investment!
An idea of how you'll make your money
If you are looking at starting a blog as a business then you will need to know how bloggers make their money, and decide how you want to earn money from your blog. The great thing about blogging is that you can really diversify your income and earn from a few revenue streams, you aren't just limited to one. For example, I made money from my blog with:
Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing is where I promote a product or a service and I earn a commission for every sale that I drive. I make between £3,000 – £5,000 month from affiliate marketing, so be sure to check out my guide to getting started with affiliate marketing.
Display advertising: The easiest way to get started with display advertising is to use a service such as Google Adsense. Display the code on your blog and earn some advertising income every time that your advert is displayed, and also when it is clicked.
Sponsored posts: A sponsored post is where a company ask me to write about them, their products or their services for a fee. This can be a great boost to any blogger's earnings. If you are not sure how much you should be charging then be sure to check out Michelle's survey results about what other bloggers are actually charging for sponsored posts.
Make money from your social media: You might think that only the big names with hundreds of thousands of social media followers can make money, but the truth is that we can too! If you have developed a decent social media following then consider monetising your social media accounts with Buzzoole, SocialPubli and FameBit.
Selling related products or services: I have written a book (check out my book on Amazon) which earns me a passive income. I also get paid to speak at events on topics I know well – such as monetising your blog or affiliate marketing.
Some expert advice
In order to really turn a blog into a business, you will need some expert advice. There is so much information out there, both free and with paid for books or courses.
I have put together all of my affiliate marketing secrets into one place for you, in How To SMASH Affiliate Marketing as a UK Blogger. In this video and text course I cover everything from which affiliate programs to join to how to get over that fear of emailing your list.
For blogging books, I can recommend Blog Inc, My Blogging Secrets and She Means Business. My blogging friends Emma and Lynn also launched Blogging Your Way To Riches last year, which is worth a read. This ebook about how Lena increased her page views to 350,000 a month is a great read, and if you purchase it then you can become an affiliate for it, earning your money back!
If you are looking to start a blog as a business then this list will help you along you way.