In April of 2019, I decided to start a blog.
Well, I should say, a new blog.
In fact, the very blog we are talking about is this one, right here, Mom Advice Line.
After all, I have to admit, I’ve started a lot of blogs over the years.
I didn’t stick with any of them.
You could call them failures, if you like.
I certainly do.
It started back in graduate school. I started a blog. It was a free Blogspot blog with my sister. We wrote a couple of posts together, trying to be funny and make jokes. She was very big into Livejournal (which was a thing back then) and I was using Friendster and Myspace.
(Facebook started that year as well, as I recall, and I was in the initial wave of people who got a Facebook account).
My sister was experienced with blogging, so she took charged and set everything up.
And thus, my blogging career began!
After a few months, we got bored with it. Distracted by life, it languished, and we gave it up.
A few years later, in my last year of grad school, I started another blog. But this time, I did it on my own. It was again for fun…something my fellow students could read and comment on. After several months, I got tons of my friends to contribute to it. We wrote about school. About trying to balance life and work. Trying to pay bills, start and end relationships. We tried to make each other laugh.
And a lot of people came to read, even from other schools.
But when school ended, I let it go. The domain expired. And all that work and all of the posts and comments were gone.
I didn’t realize back then, that what we created could have had value, far beyond the entertainment between friends in the same lecture hall.
I didn’t realize that a blog could earn money.
Later, when I was in the first few years of my career, I decided to start another blog.
Not because I was thinking of an online business, or to make money off of a blog (which is a big reason why people start blogs now).
I was really stressed out, and needed to find a way to let off steam and talk about what I was going through in my profession. Since I didn’t feel comfortable telling my friends and family about my work, and I didn’t want to be honest with my friends and colleagues about my struggles (I was embarrassed), I thought a blog with a pen name would be a safe and healthy way to start working through my troubles.
After all, I had been a writer my entire life. Not that I’d made money writing books or anything. But writing had come easily to me in school, and then in work. I had blogged before, and enjoyed it.
I started a site, and started blogging. I posted, and posted. The site got some traffic.
But before the site could really turn into anything, I shut it down. I couldn’t get over the discomfort of airing my personal issues to the world, even under a pen name. At this point, the tide of social media and oversharing really hadn’t taken over just yet, and the way of things was to keep everything as private as possible.
And if I am being honest….I think I was disappointed that there wasn’t more traffic to the site. I think deep down, I wanted people to find the blog. That even though I was nervous about sharing my private self with others, I really wanted people to see my posts, to read them, and to comment on them. To see me as I was, honest and open and bare.
I didn’t know anything about getting traffic. I didn’t even realize that was a THING. And maybe back then, it wasn’t a thing yet.
Fast forward several years, and I got the blogging bug again.
This was only a few years ago. I honestly wasn’t thinking about making money from blogging. I was thinking of making money as a writer, self-publishing short stories and ebooks. I had experienced a small amount of success self-publishing under a pen name with KDP (Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Program).
I thought a blog could help me sell books. Consequently, I started a site to support my author pen name.
I bought a domain and hosting.
I cringe to admit this, but I don’t think I made more than one post on the site.
It languished, and then I let the domain and hosting expire.
This happened two more times. I started blogs and then just didn’t stick with them.
In total, I think I started six blogs that failed before I earned a single dollar.
(And when I say “failed” I mean that I worked on the sites and then let the domains expire for various reasons.
I may have continued to start blogs that I would lose interest in (and lose money on) for the rest of my life. But something changed.
My children arrived, and things in my personal life changed. All of a sudden, I lost the desire to spend my life in an office, away from my children. It was unexpected, and it happened very fast.
For the first time, I became very, very motivated to find an alternative way to make money to support my family.
And again, I turned to blogging. I was a life-long writer, after all. And I knew just a bit about blogging by this time, though I couldn’t call myself even remotely successful, by any means.
But in my previous experiences, I had started blogs with the goal of gratifying some internal need of mine. Expression. Art. Thought. Whatever.
Now, I wanted to start a blog to earn money.
I decided to throw myself into the world of blogging. But instead of treating it like a hobby, I decided to treat it like a job.
I spent hours consuming content about blogging, creating content, driving traffic. I fell into the cult of Clickfunnels, tried affiliate marketing, started an email list, tried solo ads, and I even spent money that I shouldn’t have on expensive courses.
I got up in the morning, and I spent my free time on the computer, instead of looking at social media or watching netflix.
And once again, I started a new blog.
It was focused on promoting affiliate products, instead of exposing my soul to the world.
I did this back in August of 2018.
To date, I can’t call this site a run away success. But I still have the site, and the site has led to actual earnings, rather than loses.
So I won’t call it a failure.
But I wasn’t satisfied with the performance of the site, and I still didn’t feel like I knew enough.
So I returned to the drawing board, and went back to consuming content and trying to learn as much as I could.
In April of 2019, I decided to try again.
This time, I would stick very carefully to a plan/formula that I had developed as the result of studying several “gurus” that I had followed for weeks/months on Youtube. I had spent months the internet, sorting through content that was mostly low value, and often times wrong or bad advice. I sorted until I found some people who I believed were ethical, honest, and reporting actual results.
And no, this is not the place where I recommend that you go and spend money on the infoproducts created by these people. I didn’t spend thousands to learn their strategies. And I won’t recommend that you spend thousands on courses either.
For the most part, all of the money I spent on $997 courses was wasted and I wish I could go back and NOT buy them.
In the end, all it took was a $47 course. Not because the course contained any special information. In fact, it contained a lot of information that I had already learned on my own. But seeing that information, provided in a Teachable course by a blogger that I respected…well, it pushed my confidence to new heights. I realized that I did know enough. That I could do it.
I was ready to start a new blog, yet again.
Despite multiple failures.
Thus, in April of 2019, I started a new blog.
I bought a domain name.
I got hosting.
I didn’t worry too much about the domain name, or about the hosting. I got a premium theme.
Then I started creating content.
I posted and posted and posted.
Instead of writing about what made me happy, I stuck with the plan.
Like a machine, I moved through keyword after keyword.
Within three months, I had over 200 pieces of unique content posted.
This was more content than I had created on any single blog I had previously created.
Then I waited.
But here’s where things were different.
When you start a blog from scratch with a new domain, it takes a long time for Google to start sending you organic traffic.
In the past, I had gotten impatient when traffic did not come right away.
But this time, I was confident. Confident in my information and learning. In the process.
I trusted myself and my process.
And I waited.
In the first three months, there was almost no traffic.
But then in month four, people started to come to the site.
And then in month five, more people came to the site.
In month six, more people came.
There wasn’t a ton of traffic, but there was enough that I decided to apply to monetize the site through Google Adsense.
I hadn’t applied for Adsense before, and I was nervous about getting my site approved.
But I did my research, and I didn’t let my anxieties stop me from hitting the “submit” button.
Within a few days, I had my Google Adsense approval.
I didn’t know much about putting ads on a blog, but I created some ad units and put them on the site with the free plugin Quick Adsense.
And then I waited.
I should have kept creating content for the site, but truthfully I was burned out. I had worked and worked and worked, And it was time for a break, to work on other projects.
While I was working on other projects, the site started to earn a few pennies through Adsense.
And traffic started to grow.
In months seven, eight, and nine, traffic continued to grow.
When the site reached 10,000 sessions a month (in month nine), I applied with the site for Ezoic.
Ezoic is an ads management platform. They claimed to be able to increase your ad earnings by some ridiculous percentages (between 50-250%). They use some fancy artificial intelligence to test out various ads and ad layouts on your site to figure out how to maximize your earnings without harming your users’ experiences.
I thought that the advertising claims were a bit wild, but I figured it couldn’t harm anything to try it out.
I was intimidated by the set up, but it turns out Ezoic assigns all publishers an account manager who can and will do everything for you.
My site was earning about a dollar a day (close to $30/month), and I hoped that the site could earn more.
So again, I trusted my research and process.
And the result is that the site that was earning less than $1 a day (sometimes only pennies), is now earning $5.00/day, and is on track this month to earn $150 this month, after earning only $30 last month.
The change was immediate. Literally, the first day on the platform, the site was already earning more.
Ezoic has had a massively positive impact upon the earnings of this small site, as you can see.
Traffic continues to grow each week, so I am confident that with Ezoic, the site’s earnings will grow on the same curve.
I’m not sure that my results are typical at all! I am considering moving some of my other sites over from Adsense to see what will happen.
Please note: the Ezoic link above and the links to products or services below are affiliate links. If you click the link and buy something, I may earn a commission at no additional expense to you.
I only recommend products or services that I use myself, that I think are worth recommending. I’ve been in this business enough to be sick of people recommending products they don’t use or would never use in order to earn a few dollars.
And if you don’t feel like using my affiliate link, you don’t have to. It won’t hurt my feelings.
Next year, I expect that this site will be earning $1000 per month or more.
Naturally, I am going to continue to post content and work to get the site to this point.
But I am confident that if I put in the work, with Ezoic’s help, the site will get there.
So what was different this time? Why did I succeed this time, when I had failed so many other times?
There are lots of reasons, but none of them are as important or central as this one:
I didn’t quit.
In the past, with every single site I started, I did not keep working at it.
With my new experience and recent success (I consider starting a site from scratch and building it up to $150/month to be a success), I see that my previous projects could also have been successful, if only I had continued to work on them.
Of course, there are some other keys that went into making this new site successful that I didn’t use in my failed blogs. But ultimately, it was persistence that pushed this site to success.
And now….in most cases, this is the spot in the blog post where most bloggers would start trying to sell you something. An infoproduct. A course. An ebook.
Or they’d strongly encourage you to join their email list, or message them on Facebook messenger.
I don’t have any products to sell you. I don’t care if you find me on Facebook or on Youtube.
But here’s what I am going to do. I’m going to tell you step-by-step what I did to make this happen, and when it makes sense, I will link you to the product that I used to get there. I will only provide links to products that I have actually used, period.
And if you are expecting that there’s a magic step, tool, or formula, you are going to be disappointed. The formula is pretty simple, and it was when I finally stopped looking for the magic pill and went to work on the simple steps that I succeeded.
Step One: You have to decide to START.
In April of 2019, I decided it was time. I decided I was ready to take action. There’s no products or services that I can recommend to help you get to this point. It was a matter of mixing up what I wanted to do and the circumstances my life was in.
Step Two: You have to choose a general topic for the blog.
In the past, it used to be a great idea to pick a really specific topic. But in general these days, the successful folks in blogging are choosing more general topics and domains, so that they would be free to create content in lots of general areas and wouldn’t be stuck to one small slice of a subject. (Choosing outdoor sports in general rather than choosing camping with kids or bass fishing).
You don’t have to pick something you are passionate about, or something you know much about. But it does have to be something that you can stick with for the long run.
Areas to avoid: unless you are a doctor or medical professional, you should avoid anything health related. And unless you have specific expertise, it is best that you avoid finance as well. Google has been very particular about these content areas lately, and sends traffic to those who have expertise and authority (like actual doctors, accountants, etc).
Step Three: Chose a domain name.
I have bought domain names with both GoDaddy and Namecheap.
Between the two, I recommend Namecheap. With Namecheap, you can often get WHOIS Guard for free (which Bluehost charges you for), and Namecheap offers tons of promos and coupons.
Do your best to get a .com domain name, and avoid anything with an .xyz or other strange or unusual ending. People think those domains are spammy or will give them viruses.
Step Four: Choose your host.
To have a blog of your own (unless you go with a free blogging service offered by Blogspot, Wix, Weebly, etc) you need hosting. You can go with a free blog service if you like, but almost all bloggers who are serious about making their blog a business end up moving to their own domain and host, because these sites tend to perform better overall.
There are many, many options for hosts. I myself currently use Dreamhost, WPX, Siteground, and Bluehost (I have several sites, and I have been testing several different options to get an idea of what is best for me and my business as it grows).
For a beginner, I currently recommend Siteground and Bluehost.
When I started out, I used Bluehost almost exclusively. I started at least four blogs with Bluehost. Bluehost is extraordinarily easy to get started with. In fact, with Bluehost you can register your domain with Bluehost (rather than with Namecheap or GoDaddy), and save yourself the technical trouble of having to integrate and set up the domain with your host.
Bluehost does charge for WHOIS Guard (as compared to Namecheap which does not), but for people who feel intimidated by the technical aspects, it may be worth the money. This money might also be offset if you catch Bluehost during a time when the company is offering the domain registration for free (happens a lot).
At this time, I host one of my sites with Bluehost. Bluehost was a great provider to get me started, but in the future I will probably move the one remaining site I have with Bluehost over to Siteground, which I will describe next.
If you are not intimidated by all things technical, I think Siteground is probably a better option for you. The cost per month is very similar, but I think its dashboard with all of the various tools is easier to access and use.
With Bluehost, you have to try hard to find and get access to all of the options. And for someone who is intimidated by all things technical, hiding that stuff away from the user is a relief. But for the rest of us, it is pretty obnoxious to have to go and hunt around for things.
A lot of people who have reviewed Siteground claim that it is faster than Bluehost, but I honestly have not seen anything significant between the two services (for what I use it for) that indicates one way or another that Siteground is dramatically faster than Bluehost.
I wasn’t a beginner when I got started with Siteground, but I think anyone can learn how to use it and I think it does a really good job for new and small sites. I have contacted Siteground support multiple times for help migrating sites, and integrating with ad network providers, and the help I received was top notch.
At this time, I have three sites hosted with Siteground, including the site where you are reading this article, and I have no plans to leave them.
Like Bluehost, it costs only a few dollars a month, and the plans are affordable as your site grows.
Step Five: Get the domain and hosting set up, and then install WordPress.
You can use whatever system you want to get your blog up and running, but I’ve always used WordPress and been happy with it. I can figure out things technically, but I don’t have any coding experience, nor do I have any desire to learn to code. With your host, there are step by step instructions to show you how to get started (and frankly, the host will take care of most of what you need).
Step Six: Install a theme.
You can choose any of the themes offered for free, or buy a paid theme. I honestly don’t think it is worth spending much time on a theme at this point. The goal needs to be getting started, and you can always mess around with customizing your site at a later date.
What needs to happen most of all at this point is that you need to start creating content (meaning blog posts). People get stuck on customizing their themes and never get to the stage of actually creating content. I recommend that people spend as little time at this stage as possible on the theme, doing just enough to make it functional.
When I look for a theme, I want something light, fast, easy to use, with few customizations, that is friendly to Adsense or display ads. I look for something promoting itself as fast, rather than beautiful, because beautiful usually means lots of code that makes things run more slowly.
I avoid installing tons of plugins or doing work on the site to focus on making it cool, because most of those features make the site annoying slow which will hurt the growth of a new site. (Google uses the speed of the site to determine the rank of a particular post).
Step Seven: Start creating content.
Choosing the topics of your blog articles and creation of content is a topic that I intend to cover in a separate post (which I will link here when it is complete).
Ultimately, your blog will need a lot of content to be successful. You should not expect to see tons of traffic to your site if you only post to the blog 10-20 times.
Step Eight: Be Patient, Keep Posting Articles Consistently, and Wait.
And that’s about it. Seriously. I didn’t worry about getting links to the blog. I didn’t hire anyone to make the site look cool. I didn’t spend any money on any other tools or services to make the site grow more quickly. All I did was create content over and over until the Google started sending traffic to the site.
And as a result, this site (THIS SITE YOU ARE VISITING RIGHT NOW) is now earning $5/day (for a month average of $150/month).
If you have a blog that is or could be monetized with display ads, and you think it is under-earning, use this link and check out Ezoic, and see if they can 4x-5x your website earnings as they did with this site.
Any questions? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
New To the World of Blogging? Check Out These Other Posts.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.