I know the overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to begin when trying to figure out how to start a blog. In fact, I’ve been in your exact shoes multiple times.
However, I can tell you with absolute certainty that by the end of this post, you'll know just how to start a Ghost blog and make money blogging.
In this guide, I'll cover how to :
- Find a niche and buy a domain name
- Get started with Ghost
- Customizing your new Ghost blog
- Write compelling blog posts
- Monetize your blog
If you make it through the entire blog post, you should have a fully functional Ghost blog and know exactly how to start a blog and turn your brand new blog into a money-making business.
Keep in mind that this is no get-rick-quick solution. Blogging is a long-term game and you'll likely first see some real hockey stick growth after 6-8 months.
Find a niche and buy a domain name
This is probably the toughest step of my how to start a Ghost blog guide since it’s going to lay the entire foundation of your blog moving forward.
Chances are you don’t know what the heck a blogging niche is if you’re completely new in the whole blogging game. If that’s the case, let’s quickly run over the 101 of niches.
What the heck is a blogging niche?
Most blogs on the internet cover a specific topic such as traveling, investing, cooking, traveling, parenting, blogging (me!), etc. That given topic is also called a niche. Here are an example of some of the more popular blogging niches out there:
A niche is essentially the thing you’re writing about. Some niches are huge and some are much smaller. You’ll have to find a sweet spot somewhere in the middle.
I've written a blog post on some of the most profitable niches. Give it a read.
You might wonder why the heck you can’t just write about everything? That way you’re able to broaden your audience and hit even more people, right?
In that case, let me explain why your approach sucks.
Why you need to stick to a niche
I know that you’re an absolute baller at canoeing and that you’ve climbed Mount Everest in nothing but your underwear. No wonder that you want to share it with the world and that you don’t want to stick to a boring little niche.
Wait for a second.
There are really two reasons as to why it’s a much better idea to limit yourself to a single niche instead of covering every topic on the entire planet. The first reason being competition and the second being expertise.
By limiting yourself to a single niche and niching down, you’re automatically limiting your blog’s competition when you’re trying to grow your blog. It’ll be far easier for you to rank number one in the search results and monetize your blog.
And, it’s going to be tough to be considered an expert on a given topic if your blog covers both canoeing and giving birth. After all, your primary goal should be to come across as an expert in your field so that people want to listen to you.
Now we’ve got that out of the way let’s take a look at some of the most profitable niches you can get into as a blogger.
How to find a profitable niche
Since you’re currently reading through this how to start a blog guide, you probably want to start a blog to turn it into a passive income and maybe even be able to quit your 9 to 5 job.
You can make money blogging about almost everything but some niches are just a tad more profitable than others. You’ll not be making as much writing about the diet of a jellyfish than you would writing about personal finance.
I’ve actually covered the 7 most profitable blogging niches in another blog post. Give it a read, find your niche, and come straight back to this article.
Where to find a domain
There are so many domain providers which makes it tough to choose. When starting a Ghost blog, you really don't have the option to choose a hosting provider that also lets you buy a domain. You'll have to buy a domain and then connect that domain to your Ghost website through the DNS settings.
Fortunately that's really easy when using Namecheap.
How to find the right domain
I’ve actually written an in-depth blog post about finding the right domain. Take a look at it if you want a more comprehensive guide on how to find a domain name.
Selecting a domain is probably the second toughest step in my how to start a blog guide. You’ll have to be a little creative since you’ll need to look at the domain name you select for years ahead.
Since your domain doesn’t have a direct impact on your overall ranking in the search results you don’t have to worry too much about the domain. Here are some guidelines you might find helpful when selecting your new domain:
- Stick to the popular .com extension if possible
- Keep the domain short and to the point
- Avoid using any symbols
- Use a domain generator
Finding a new domain is all about personal preferences and there’s really no right and wrong. Don’t spend too much time coming up with a domain name since there are a million other more important things to overcome.
Get started with Ghost
Ghost is the tool I use for managing my blog. It allows me to quickly write captivating blog posts and change the entire layout of my blog.
Most people choose WordPress when first starting out. However, I believe WordPress is rather confusing for beginners and way behind Ghost when it comes to writing experience and overall performance.
How to install and set up Ghost
Head over to Ghost.org and hit the little "Get started – free" button in the upper-right corner of your screen. It should look like this:
That'll take you to a page where you'll simply have to fill out your email address and your password (note that your password will need to be longer than 10 characters).
Once you've filled out the email address field and the password field, you'll be asked to type in your name and your credit card information.
They won't actually charge your account but just use it as a verification to prevent spam. Here's why they'll need to verify:
We used to have free trials with no-card, but we almost got put out of business by constant automated spam attacks. People sharing illegal copyrighted content and SEO spam would sign up for thousands of new accounts per day, which was not sustainable for us as a business.
Makes sense, right?
Anyways, when that's done you're asked to choose whether you're a creator, marketer, or a developer. In my case, I chose Creator since I'm a blogger.
The last step is to fill out your publication name. Fill it out with the name of your blog. Don't worry though, you can always change it later on in the settings.
Your account is now being set up. It'll probably take a second or two before it's finished loading so take a cup of coffee or eat the rest of your pizza (damn, I love pizza!)
That's it. If you've done everything like I told you, then you should see your Dashboard – looking like this:
Your next step will be to customize your Ghost blog.
Customizing your new Ghost blog
When starting a new blog using Ghost, you're provided with Ghost's standard theme called Casper. You're able to take a look at it if you click "View site":
It's actually pretty cool and I like it a lot. However, we're not all alike and some might discourage the looks of the theme (highly doubt that though). If that's the case, then installing a new theme might be something you should take a look at.
Installing a new Ghost theme
I'd advice you to take a look at Aspire Themes – which is created by Ahmad Ajmi.
I've been chatting with him for a while and he's a really decent guy who creates really decent Ghost themes. Give them a look and see if they're for you.
With every theme comes a very beginner-friendly guide to installing the theme on your new Ghost blog. And if you're completely lost, I'm sure Ahmad will help you out with installing the theme.
Changing the logo and accent color
Pretty much all the changes you're going to make to your Ghost theme can be found in the settings tab in the bottom of the left sidebar.
To change the logo and accent color, click the settings button followed by the branding button:
In here, you'll be able to change the accent color, the publication icon (also called favicon) which is the little logo in the browser tab, the publication logo (which I'm always leaving empty), and the publication cover.
That's pretty much all you'll have to know. I'd highly advice you to jump around in Ghost for a while and get familiar with the settings. It'll make your life a thousand times easier in the long-run.
Write compelling blog posts
This is where the magic happens and where you can live out your wildest dreams of becoming the next J. R. R. Tolkien. But before I get started, we need to take a look at how to publish a blog post (minor detail, right?).
How to publish a blog post in Ghost
It is super easy to publish your first blog post. All you have to do is to head over to the "Posts" tab. It'll show you an overview of all your current blog posts:
When you set up Ghost for the first time, 7 auto-generated blog posts will be published on your blog. You can go ahead and delete them by clicking on them and navigating to the settings tab within the post:
Scroll to the very bottom of the post settings tab and hit "Delete post":
To write a new blog post, head back to the list of all of your blog posts and click "New post" in the upper-right corner of your screen:
That's pretty much all you'll have to know about writing blog posts in Ghost. There's much more to publishing a blog post than just hitting "New post" if you want your content to be found by other people – specifically people searching on Google. So, let's dive into how you can boost your presence on Google.
What it takes to rank on Google
It takes a lot of RedBull, determination, and motivation. You will not be hitting the first page on Google anytime soon, but having the right mindset is half the battle.
Three of the things that I focused on when I first started out was to:
- Analyze keywords that had low competition and high volume
- Produce great content that was better than our competitors
- Getting a lot of backlinks through guest posting
You should not treat your blog like a blog. You should treat it like it was an online business. You need to constantly be scaling it through outsourcing your content and writing a ton of guest posting pitches.
If you want to drive traffic quicker, it is a great idea to take a look at the KGR (Keyword Golden Ratio) – which is, in my opinion, the number one way to generate organic traffic rather quickly.
Many other blogs on the internet that writes about how to start a blog typically tell you to write a ton of blog posts but that’s not the case. When you think SEO and organic traffic I want you to take SEO and split it into three parts:
- Technical SEO
- Link building
They can’t live without each other. If your page doesn’t score a high technical score your content and link building efforts won’t do much – and vice versa.
How to use the KGR to drive traffic
There are hundreds of ways of promoting your blog; through email marketing, forums, social media, guest posting, interviews, etc. To rank using these strategies usually takes around 6 months of hard work – which is not guaranteed at all.
If you are not the type who likes to cross your fingers and pray to the blogging god (aka Google), you should consider using the Keyword Golden Ratio that can rank your blog posts in the top 50 (or even higher) within a few days.
It was originally invented by Doug Cunnington to serve bloggers with no backlinks and a low domain authority, and it targets keywords with almost no competition and a decent search volume.
The KGR is found by dividing the number of allintitle search results with the number of monthly searches for a given keyword.
The number of monthly searches should be filtered to a maximum of 250 monthly searches, and the Keyword Golden Ratio should be below 0,25.
The very first step is to find a keyword you would like to rank for using a tool called KWFinder. They have a 10-day free trial, and you can cancel the trial at any time.
I’ve have been using KWFinder since I launched this blog, and it truly works for me. It is probably also one of the cheapest keyword research tools on the market – which is sweet music in the ears of anyone who is about to start a blog.
Once you have set up the account, throw your keyword in the search field and click Find keywords. I searched for How to filter and the following results show up:
Next step is to filter out the keywords with more than 250 monthly searches. This can be done by clicking Filter. Then type 250 in the Search Volume MAX field.
Once you are done, click Set filter and you have successfully limited your search to keywords with less than 250 monthly searches. Now, it is time to find a keyword that you would like to rank for. In our case, these were our results:
How to filter bold text in excel looks very interesting since it has 190 searches and is quite topic specific. Next step is to check how many allintitlesearches it has. To do so, simply type allintitle:your_keyword in the Google search.
As you can see, there are 5 results that have the seven words how to filter bold text in excel in the title of the page. Now it is time to do some calculations to find the Keyword Golden Ratio. Divide the number of allintitleresults with the number of monthly searches. In this case, it is 5 / 190 = 0,026. It is far below the 0,25 limit – thus, it is a great keyword to try to rank for.
If you write an awesome blog post on how to filter bold text in excel, you should have a fair chance of landing a top 50 spot within a few days. Repeat the process.
Doug published more than 200 blog posts within 5 months using this method and grew his revenue from $100 to $15.000 within a year:
Keep in mind that this is really only something you’d do to begin with – which is why I chose to include it in this how to start a blog guide. It is an incredible method to kickstart your organic traffic and gain a few backlinks. But once you have received a decent amount of traffic you should consider guest posting instead to scale your blog.
With that said, let’s take a look at how you can make money blogging using the traffic that you picked up from using the Keyword Golden Ratio.
Outsourcing your blog posts
It's quite a hefty expense to outsource my content, and I’m spending anywhere from $2.500 to $3.000 a month on content alone. Yeah, you heard it.
I'm currently working with Text Paradise to create a ton of content for my blog.
Hrvojre and Robert from Text Paradise are amazing. They're very helpful and they're actually quite cheap compared to some of the other content agencies out there.
Blog post frequency
According to HubSpot, you should publish anywhere between 3-4 times a week if you want to maximize the amount of organic traffic you receive.
In their research, they also found that bloggers who sticks to these numbers and works hard to maximize their marketing efforts are 13 times more likely to see a positive ROI.
I think your top priority should be to drive traffic to your blog by posting as much as possible while keeping the quality of your blog posts high. And then, once you're driving thousands of visitors to your site, you can focus on monetizing that traffic.
Monetize your blog
Once you are receiving a good amount of traffic, then you can start monetizing your blog using some of the methods I’m introducing in this guide.
I've written a more in-depth guide which you can take a look at by clicking here.
Best ways to make money blogging
There are almost an endless amount of ways to make money blogging. Whether it is through affiliate marketing, online courses, Google AdSense, e-books, webinars, subscription plans, or any other method, you are able to make money rather easily.
I have tried a bunch of them on some of our other projects, but I’m always returning to affiliate marketing and creating online courses. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Google AdSense since I find ads too distracting.
Without further ado, let’s put on our scuba gear and dive straight into how you can make money through affiliate marketing, online courses, and Google AdSense.
Making money with affiliate marketing
If I were to choose only a single way to monetize my blog, I would always choose affiliate marketing. Hands down. If you do not know what it is, let’s quickly run over the 411 with affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is when you promote other people’s products and, in return, receive a small cut from the sale the company makes. The amount of money that companies spent on promoting their products through affiliate marketing is constantly increasing.
Companies are spending $6,82 billion on affiliate marketing alone, and it is said that 10% of the affiliates (the people that promote the products) drive 90% of the traffic and conversions. Imagine the potential.
I’m a huge fan of Bluehost, and I have placed some links throughout this post. If you click on the link and purchase Bluehost within the cookie lifespan, I will receive a $65 commission from Bluehost.
Now, imagine that 10.000 people read this blog post each month and only 2% chose to purchase Bluehost through the link, it would still be a monthly revenue of $65 x 200 = $13.000. That is $13.000 from a single link and a single product.
Michelle over at Making Sense of Cents earned a staggering $160.211 from her blog in February 2017. And $100.151,27 was from affiliate marketing.
Another example is Alex and Lauren over at Create and Go. In September 2020, they made $160.250 from their blog.
The majority of those $160.250 was also from affiliate marketing.
So, what is the secret? Well, you will first need a ton of traffic to drive the sales. Then, you will need to sign up for some different affiliate marketing programs.
Another great way of making money blogging is through online courses, so let’s have a look at how you can go about creating and selling online courses.
Making money with online courses
The popularity of online courses have increased with a rapid pace for the past few years – and is estimated to become a $350 billion industry by 2025.
Let’s use this to our advantage and get straight into how you can make money through online courses. It is really not that hard. As with affiliate marketing, you will need traffic to drive your sales, and you will need a platform to create your courses.
Personally, I’m really digging Thinkific to create online courses. Their platform is truly intuitive and will for sure attract more customers. They have a free version that you can try out and see if it is for you.
Do you know Aaron Ward? He is an ex HBO motion designer who got into marketing because he wanted to escape the corporate environment and travel more.
Through his studies, he came up with two courses:
From those two courses, he made a staggering $79.625 in 2019 as seen below:
Creating online courses is a great way to not only make a pile of money but also help someone. Aaron thinks of it as a butterfly effect:
I help someone help someone else, who then may help someone else.
The organic traffic you get from optimizing your blog with the best SEO practices will help you promote your course.
Get started using Thinkific and dedicate yourself to helping other people achieve their dream while making a ton of money.
Le’s take a look at the last monetization method I cover in this how to start a blog guide.
Making money with ads
As I previously mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of showing ads on my site since I find them distracting and not very user friendly. My primary goal is to serve you, the reader, with valuable content in a beautiful and simple format. That is not possible when using Google AdSense – in our opinion.
That said, it is a great way to generate some extra passive income.
However, we would never recommend this way of monetizing your blog. Not even if you are starting out. To make $100.000/month you would need approximately 20.000 pageviews/day which is 7,3 million pageviews in one year.
You can make a lot more money through a combination of affiliate marketing, online courses, and sponsored content.
Wow, that was actually it. What a bunch of information to absorb, right? You have now successfully set up your blog and you are ready to take on your next challenge – to drive traffic to your blog and scale it.
Here are some of the things to keep in mind:
- The easiest and fastest way to set up a blog is by using Ghost
- According to HubSpot, it is ideal to publish new blog posts 3 to 4 times a week
- The most profitable way to make money blogging is through affiliate marketing
- Use Thinkific to create awesome courses that will help your audience
Now, go ham and scale your blog. The sky is the limit, and the only right time to get started is now. Hard work pays off, trust me. I've have been there.