In this post, I’m going to share with you how to start a blog for free and make money. You can absolutely start a blog with no money. I’m going to walk you, step-by-step, through the entire process. It doesn’t matter if you have any prior experience. Consider this your “how to make money with a blog for beginners” tutorial. Along the way, I’m also going to show you why it’s usually better to start a super cheap blog on a bootstrap budget because the potential long-term payoff is incredibly higher.
All you need to start a blog for free and make money is to choose a hosting platform, domain name, content management platform, theme and affiliate sites. Then you answer questions people are already asking about your affiliate products. You can do all of this very easily and with absolutely no money. I’m going to show you how.
How to Start a Blog for free
The first thing you’re going to need to do is to set up your blog. Let’s go, step-by-step, through this process. Don’t worry, it’s actually very simple.
Now, the best way to start a blog for free and make money is to create a website with Google Sites. If you don’t know about Google Sites, they are 100% free websites you can create through Google.
One of the cool features is that you can create an unlimited number of free websites through Google. Since they are owned by Google, they rank well in search results (that will be important later for making money with your blog).
The process for setting up a blog with Google sites is incredible easy and intuitive. Here is a quick list of the steps:
- Go to https://sites.google.com/new
- Choose a website template
- Fill in your website/blog details
- Click publish
Wow, that’s super simple, right!?
We will go over the details of each step for the rest of this post. We’ll focus on how to start your blog for free, but we’ll also look at dirt cheap alternatives because of the bigger payoffs. That way, after you start generating income from your free blog, you can prepare yourself to level up for higher profits, long-term income streams and a website that you own (best bootstrap method).
No matter if you are starting your blog for free or for cheap, you still follow the same basic steps. Either way, you can make money blogging even as a complete beginner!
Check out my post on Can You Actually Make Good Money On Fiverr? (Proof).
Step Number 1: Chose Your Site/Domain Name
Choose your domain name. This is the name of your website.
If you are starting your blog for free with Google Sites, all you need to do is enter your site name when and where prompted. But, before you type out your website name, you may want to consider the best practices in the rest of this section.
If you don’t already have a site (or domain) name, here are some best practices for coming up with a good one:
- Shorter domain names are better than longer domain names
- try to keep your domain name to one or two words at most
- Make your domain name relevant or related to the topic of your website and blog
- Use correct spelling of all words to avoid confusing people trying to find you on the internet
- Pick one that you love because you’re likely to be using it for many years
- Avoid any hyphens, underscores or anything other than actual words. The simpler you make the domain name, the easier for people to find you on the web
Don’t get stuck here. Some bloggers spend days, weeks, months and years coming up with their perfect site name. Yes, site names are important, but they are not the most important part of your website. That’s the ridiculously valuable content you provide.
Bootstrap Cheap Alternative
When you are ready to take your blog and profits to the next level, you’ll want to purchase a cheap domain name.
I use domain.com for all my websites. They are very cheap at about $13.99 per year for each domain name. You only need one domain name for one website.
As an example, my website name is writingbeginner.com. My website is all about writing for beginners so it’s relevant, short, uses only correctly spelled words and is a “dot com”.
Once you choose a site or domain name, move on to step number two.
Step Number 2: Choose Your Hosting Platform
Choose your hosting platform. In essence, this is where your website and blog will be posted or housed on the internet. It is like purchasing a plot of land on which to build your bussiness.
If you start a blog for free with Google Sites, you have already chosen Google as your hosting platform. Boom, look at you, killing these steps!
Before you move to step three, read the cheap blog hosting alternative so that you get a better grasp on bootstrap hosting when it’s time for you to level up.
Bootstrap Cheap Alternative
I highly recommend Bluehost because not only is it super cheap at less than $10 per month (usually less than $5 per month when you sign up with a special promotion), the customer service is absolutely amazing. I really can’t speak more highly of this company. There are a lot of other hosting companies out there but this one by far is my favorite.
All you do is go to bluehost.com, sign up for a new account, add your domain name, pick your pricing plan and any extras you might want and, boom, you have a hosting platform.
The other cool thing that I like about Bluehost is that you can actually host more than one website with your one Bluehost account. In other words, if you want to create a second, third or fourth website sometime in the future, you don’t need a new Bluehost account for each website. One blue host account can be used for multiple websites. It’s like having a plot of land on which you can build multiple houses or businesses. Pretty cool.
Oh, also, Bluehost is very well matched with WordPress, which happens to be a completely free content management platform that I recommend and is the most used platform for bloggers in the world.
Step Number 3: Set up Your Free Content Management Platform
A content management platform is the structural bones (or frame) of the house you build on your plot of land (that’s hosting). It’s the inside of the house or business, not what people see on the outside.
Once again, if you start your blog for free with Google Sites, then you already have a Content Management Platform (CMP). Google is your CMP. I told you this was stupid simple!
Inside of your CMP is where you will post blogs that will drive traffic to products and services your will sell (Don’t worry about selling or making money for now. Let’s get your free blog started first with everything set up for success. Before the end of this post, we’ll go over how to make money easily and automatically.)
Bootstrap Cheap Alternative
Ok, this is going to cool. I have good news: your CMP is also free with the bootstrap alternative. WordPress is the most popular CMP in the world and is 100% free. (The catch? You must use paid hosting to use this free software).
All you need to do is to set up your free WordPress account. WordPress is the foundation and structure of the houses you build on the plot of land. It’s the framework or inside of the house, not what people see on the outside. We’ll get to that in a moment.
WordPress allows you to manage the content on your site. It’s very easy to set up a WordPress website and get started within a few minutes. If you’ve chosen Bluehost as your hosting platform, then it’s a one button click away from a WordPress website.
Here are the steps:
- Simply log into your Bluehost account.
- Create a new WordPress account.
- Follow the intuitive instructions and, within minutes, you’ll have your WordPress account set up. You got this!
On the next screen, just click the “Use WordPress” button to set up your WordPress Content Management Platform.
Next, enter your website name and tagline. Just choose something simple for the tagline. You can always change it later. Then click thevblue “next” button.
On the next page, choose your Domain name from any options provided and unclick the boxes for the suggested plugins. You don’t need them for now. When you have ready, click the “next” button.
Once you click to the next screen, WordPress will magically generate your site. Then it’s time to choose your theme…
Step Number 4: Choose Your Template or Theme
Your template or theme is how your website looks to the world. To continue our analogy, it’s the exterior of the house. The appearance. So you want to choose wisely.
If you start a free blog to make money using Google Sites, you choose a template or create your own template from scratch. I recommend that you choose an existing template that you update with your own images and text. (It’s literally drag and drop. Google makes it easy).
Bootstrap Cheap Alternative
In the process of creating your WordPress account, you’ll be asked to choose a theme. The theme is the outside of your house or what website visitors will see when they visit your website and blog.
There are free themes and there are paid themes. Typically with paid things you get a better looking website with more functionality and features. There are tons of themes to choose from so take your time and pick one that you like. You can always change themes later, although you might need some technical help when you get to that point.
To help you pick a theme, keep the following best practices in mind:
- Choose a theme that is responsive so that your website looks good on mobile devices.
- Choose a theme that has a smooth and sleek design so that your website looks professional.
- Choose a theme that is fast so that website visitors don’t get frustrated with long page loading times. The faster the better.
Don’t get stuck at this point either because of the number of options. Spend no more than about an hour picking your theme. Go with the best tht you can find in that time and know that you can always change things later.
For a free theme, it’s hard to go wrong with the WordPress theme. My current favorite is the Astra theme. WordPress is sure to keep this theme updated and secured.
Now that you have started your free blog, it is time to shift into money-making mode. I’m excited for you to learn how to make money with your free blog.
Have you ever wanted to know the answers to thes two questions:
- How do bloggers get paid?
- How do beginner blogs make money?
The answer to both is…
Step Number 5: How to Make Money with a Free Blog
More good news: Unlike the first four steps, the last three steps are 100% free for both Google Sites and the bootstrap blogging approach. So let’s dig in.
- How do bloggers get paid? The three most common income sources are ads, affiliate sales and selling their own products.
- How do beginner blogs make money? I recommend starting with affiliate sales. Affiliate sales (getting commissions from selling other people’s products) are the low-hanging fruit for making money with free blogs.
It’s as easy as signing up to be an affiliate for companies like Amazon, inserting links into your website and sending traffic to those links. (You might be thinking that the traffic part sounds hard, but I promise you it is easier than it seems)
This step is one of the easiest and fastest to complete. Sign up for affiliate websites such as Amazon associates and Clickbank:
Once you sign upas an affiliate, choose a product or category of products to promote. To accelerate your success, choose products that you use or about which you are interested. This will help you promote them better.
Step number 6: How Keywords Make You Money
The best way to drive massive traffic to your affiliate links is to answer questions people are asking about topics related to your affiliate products. So, if you promote pet products, then you will want to answer the questions people are asking about pets or pet products.
How do you find out what people are asking or want to know? This is called keyword search in blogging lingo. You will want to identify 10 to 20 high volume, low competition keywords. That means lots of people are asking the questions, but almost nobody is answering them.
Ok, sounds good. But, how do you find these money-making keywords?There are free and paid methods to find keywords. Honestly, I prefer the free, organic method.
The best free tactic is to use Google search. After all, the best way to figure out what your potential leads are searching is to go to the source.
The process is simple:
- Start typing in a phrase related to the topic of your website. The longer the phrase, typically the lower competition. Using the pet example, you could type, “How to get my cat to” or “Why does my dog” (without the quotation marks)
- Don’t write the complete phrase out, instead let Google finish the phrase with several possible searches (see the screenshot above this bulleted list). Those suggested searches from Google are predictions based on searcher data. That means Google knows people search those terms. That’s good news for you because that can mean lots of traffic.
- Remember, the longer the phrase the better. These are called long tail keywords.
Next you want to check the competition by clicking on the long suggested phrase in Google. Google will open up a new search page with results for that specific query, question or phrase.
What you want to see is a list of websites that don’t directly answer the question. If you see a site like Reddit or Quora on the first page, your search term likely has low or lower competition. (Just like the screenshot example above)
This can seem tricky at first, but once you perform a few keyword searches, the process gets much easier. Repeat this keyword process until you have 10 to 20 low competition, high volume keywords with little to no competition.
Step Number 7: Blog Like a Madman or Madwoman
Now that you have your list of 10-20 keywords, it’s time to answer those questions. By providing the best answers to the questions, you will get lots of traffic to your website.
Once they are on your website, some people will click on your affiliate links. Some of those people will purchase products. When they purchase products through your links, you get commissions.
See how it works?
Your goal is to write up to a 2,000 word blog post about each of the 10 to 20 keyword phrases. Use the exact keyword phrase as your blog post title. Then just start typing.
You want to answer the question as thoroughly as possible. 2,000 words seems to be the blog post length that Google favors the most, so try to get close to that mark. If the key word is a phrase instead of a question, attempt to provide the most valuable information related to that topic.
Over a period of weeks or months, Google will start sending you traffic. Don’t worry if it seems like a ghost town at first. This is very normal. Simply put out highly valuable content specific to 10 to 20 long-tail, low competition keywords. After that, it’s a waiting game for Google.
Insert your affiliate links into the posts. You probably want one affiliate link for one affiliate product or service per post.
In other words, you don’t want to jam every single one of your affiliate links into a single post. One of your affiliate links should be most relevant and applicable to the keyword on which the post is based. Use that keyword once in the middle of the post and once at the end, perhaps combined with a banner or image that the affiliate product provides.
Good affiliate products will provide you tons of material to help sell their products. This material usually comes in the form of images, ads, videos, sales emails, landing pages, etc.
What to Expect
No one can fully predict Google or search traffic. However, typically traffic will trickle in for awhile before exploding almost out of nowhere. The key is to publish the posts with your affiliate links, not to give up and to wait for Google.
While you wait, you could be searching for new keywords and posting more content with your affiliate links embedded. The more high-quality content tailored to long-tail and low competition keywords, the easier and faster Google will find you.
The more high-quality posts you have when Google starts flooding your site with traffic, the more money you can make from selling those affiliate products.
And that’s how you start a blog for free and make money!
If you want to know even more ways professional bloggers drive massive traffic to affiliate links, read this post.