Start a Blog: Earn Extra Income in 8 Easy Steps

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Hey, you know what you could do this weekend? You could start a blog.

I’m going to start blogging about blogging because people ask me about blogging a lot. If you’re thinking about starting a blog, but you don’t know what to do, I’m hoping you’ll have time this weekend to get one started using the steps I listed below. I’m going to keep building on this series so hopefully by two months from now the people who wanted to follow along have a blog up AND they’ve made at least a little bit of money through blogging. That’s the goal.

I get asked for blogging advice a lot. It’s not a surprise that people who know me in “real” life ask me for a little guidance when they’re thinking about starting blogs for their businesses or just because they have some ideas they’d like to get on the Internet. I’ve been blogging since forever (2001 is forever in Internet time) and I’ve been making money by blogging for the last six years, spending five of those years being a full-time blogger. So, yes, I know about the blogging.

For some reason, though, I haven’t put together a comprehensive guide. I did a “how to have a wedding blog make money” series years ago on Magical Day Weddings, but that was back when I was on blogspot and I barely knew what I was doing. A lot has changed and the best part is that it’s soooo much easier now to start a professional-looking blog that can start earning you money within the second or third month. It used to be pretty tough to really get going, but a lot of great things have happened to make blogging more accessible. Of course, there’s a lot to blogging, but if you just want to get going and be able to say, “I’m a blogger” by next Monday, you just have to follow these steps:

1 /// Decide what you want to blog about.
2 /// Choose a name.
3 /// Buy a dot com and some hosting space. (Inexpensive!)
4 /// Set up your blog.
5 /// Arrange your blog so that it looks the way you want it to. (Not hard!)
6 /// Set up a Facebook page for your blog.
7 /// Write three posts and pin them on Pinterest.
8 /// Add some ads to your sidebar.

This is not hard. If you already feel overwhelmed, breathe. This isn’t hard. If I was teaching an eight grade class about using the Internet, I would be comfortable assigning this as weekend homework. You can do this. Let’s walk through it.

1 /// Decide what you want to blog about.

This can be the easiest or the hardest thing about this process, depending on how you approach it. You probably already have a topic in mind when you think about starting your own blog, but before you commit: can you really blog about that topic? If it’s too specific (Oscar-winning movies from 1972) you’ll run out of material eventually and you won’t be able to blog that often. If it relies on other people and/or their work (cute outfits people wore around town or watercolor paintings from your favorite artist), you have to keep in mind that not everyone likes being photographed and you can’t republish other people’s work unless you have permission.

Another huge problem that I see with people who are starting blogs is that many of them are copycat blogs because you see a blogger doing something and you think, “I could do that!” A good example is food or fashion blogs. It can be tempting to start blogging all of your dinners or outfits if you see another person getting paid to eat and wear stuff, but if you aren’t truly passionate about what you’re talking about it’s not going to work. Blogging is a great way to make money if you find something you love, but it’s the absolute worst way to make money if you don’t love what you’re talking about because (A) you’ll burn out, (B) your audience won’t like your stuff because they’ll know you aren’t into it, and (C) you won’t make any money and then you’ll be frustrated because you’re doing all of it for no reason at all. I am guilty of starting blogs purely for profit and those blogs went down in flames, taking the money I spent on the dot coms with them. (insert fiery crash sound here)

When people wonder what they should blog about, I tell them to imagine going to the bookstore. Where are you going? When I walk into a bookstore, I head toward photography/fashion magazines and then I move over to cookbooks, parenting, and travel (in that order). Not surprisingly, those are exactly the things I’ve been successful at when I publish blog posts. If you can find a topic that you gravitate naturally toward, you’ll do much better as a blogger.

2 /// Choose a name.

Choosing a name for your blog is getting harder as names and dot coms get scooped up every day. I’ve run through all sorts of names (the list boggles the mind, actually) and I’ve learned that shorter is better and the dot com is often unimportant. I chose “Ever Clever Mom” on purpose because many of my favorite blogs have topic-explanatory three-word titles (A Beautiful Mess, Young House Love, Girl’s Gone Child) but other people have gone with made-up single-word blog titles and done just fine (Dooce, Bleubird,Chookooloonks).

The benefit to making something up is that you’re more likely to get a dot com that matches your blog name. I have two things to say about this. First, if it’s too crazy made up, nobody will remember it and your dot com won’t matter. Second, it doesn’t matter all that much if your dot com matches. My dot com matches and I like that, but I follow lots of blogs that are named one thing and then the dot com is something totally different (often the person’s name like “amysmomblog” because they didn’t know what the name should be). It’s fine. Yes, it helps you look professional if it matches BUT don’t decide you just shouldn’t blog because all the dot coms are taken. It will be OK.

3 /// Buy a dot com and some hosting space. (Inexpensive!)

Here is where I start to veer big time from the advice I gave on my wedding blog a million years ago when I walked everyone through blogspot. I think that people who are starting a blog today should always buy the dot com and pay for some hosting space. Why? It makes your life soooo much easier down the road if your blog gets bigger.

Blogspot (owned by Google) is very easy to use and you get a free blogspot address, so there’s little time or money commitment. Tempting, right? Yes and that’s why I was on blogspot for years. That being said, Google is tricky and they’ve been known to delete blogs with no warning since technically it’s still their space and not yours. Plus, you just can’t do as much design-wise with a blogspot blog. It ends up being a crutch that fights with you when you try to personalize it and you run the risk that it could all just *poof* disappear for no reason. In my opinion, it’s better to start with WordPress but if you want to make money then you need to host it yourself (through a hosting company) and buy a dot com.

Scared? NO. Not hard!!! You can do this! It only sounds intimidating.

I use Bluehost and you can buy space and a dot com through them directly. I used to use HostGator, but I’ve had less downtime with Bluehost and I feel like I’ve gotten a better response with their customer service. When you sign up, you have to pick between sharing a server or having a private server for a little bit more money. I’m private because I have a fair amount of traffic, but being in a shared server is cheap and easy and should be fine when you’re starting out.

So go to Bluehost and get a dot com and get on a shared server. Then…

4 /// Set up your blog.

Bluehost has a 1-click WordPress install to get you started with a WordPress blog. It’s very easy and they have articles, videos, and a customer service hotline if you need to be walked through. Don’t bother with what your blog looks like – just get it up so that when you visit the dot com you just bought, you see a WordPress blog. Really, they can walk you through all of this if you need them to. They’re very nice.

5 /// Arrange your blog so that it looks the way you want it to. (Not hard!)

Designing your WordPress blog is more hands-on, but it’s not hard. There’s a template option in your WordPress dashboard that lets you browse through and find a template (blog design) that will work for you. Most are free, but if you’re honestly serious about making a go at blogging as a way to get some income AND you aren’t that familiar with html or coding or any of that, I would consider purchasing a WordPress template from an Etsy seller. I purchased this template from a designer on Etsy and she gave a great step-by-step instruction sheet so I could install it AND she was right there via private message if I needed help. The whole thing was set up within an hour and I love it.

After you have the basic design, you can add widgets to your sidebar, which are just fun extras you want to include. I have photo links, as well as a widget for recent posts and Instagram photos. This is also how you add your search bar, etc. It’s easy, but if you’re feeling lost, check out this article on adding widgets in WordPress. Note: don’t add too many because they do slow your site down a little.

6 /// Set up a Facebook page for your blog.

Set up a fan page for your blog. It’s good to have this be ready to go so you can share new blog articles via your fan page and people can join it right away. Do not, however, ask people to join your fan page before you start blogging. They’ll be confused and you’ll get fewer fans in the long run. Just set it up and have it ready.

7 /// Write three posts and pin them on Pinterest.

I always start with at least three posts: an introduction posts and then two really good posts that people will want to share. The most shareable posts are fairly short, offer something to the reader (like tips or instructions), and have big beautiful photos. Go ahead and spend a lot of time on these two because you want to make a good impression. Do not write three posts about how you’re excited to start blogging. You are blogging. Get to it.

Once your posts are up, pin them to Pinterest, post them on Facebook (either by sharing the link or by sharing a photo with the link as the photo comment), and then share them with everyone via Facebook update, tweet, Instagram, email, etc. Don’t do huge sharing blasts everytime you blog because that gets annoying, but when it’s your blog’s big debut people give you some slack.

8 /// Add some ads to your sidebar.

This is where the money comes in. There are a lot of ways to make money blogging, but if you want to start making money this weekend you can put some Google ads in the sidebar and you’ll start to accumulate earnings with every person who visits. It takes a while, but don’t be frustrated because pretty much everyone starts out this way. Or, to bump up your income, you can add links on the sidebar to your own business, e-book, or Etsy shop if you happen to have one. Having a blog that is connected to your business can be a HUGE income boost if you do it well, because it’s publicity and a way to personalize the fact that you want these people to give you money. If they like you and they feel like your blog contributed something toward making their life better, they’re a lot more likely to buy something! At my most recent blog conference, I’d say only a third of the people I met were full-time bloggers. The rest had added blogging as a way to make a second income or recharge their business profits.


That was, of course, the quick and painless guide to just getting yourself on the Internet. I’ll do some more posts on getting more people to read your blog and finding other ways to make money, but ultimately you just have to start blogging before you worry about any of that. You don’t have to blog all the time (many people who blog once a week end up doing fine), but if you have it in you to put quality posts up pretty often, go ahead. You’re building up your archives so new visitors have something to check out when they start to poke around.

Fact: blogging takes time to get started and you just have to sit down and do it.

Other Fact: blogging probably doesn’t take as much time as you think AND many bloggers earn a very nice second income just by blogging about things they want to be talking about anyway. Plus, they get to call themselves experts and meet other people who are into the same things. And sometimes they get to stop being attorneys and stay home with their cute kids instead. It’s kind of the best.


Let me know if you have any questions! I’ll be around this weekend if you need help!

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  • Reply Mindy

    Great advice!

    March 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Thanks, Mindy!

      March 6, 2014 at 8:13 pm
  • Reply Hope at Disneyland

    I remember your old how-to-blog series and it’s great that you’re updating the series now with what you’ve learned since then. My husband has had his blog for over a year on blogspot. He works SO hard researching his articles so now your tidbit about Google scared me so I better tell him to back up everything just in case.

    March 6, 2014 at 5:47 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Yes! I didn’t back up for forever and I’m so lucky I didn’t lose it all either to Google wipes or to hacking!

      March 6, 2014 at 8:13 pm
  • Reply Meagan

    Thank you so much for posting this! I was so torn between Host Gator and Blue Host and have been putting off my decision because I didn’t have any personal reviews! Looks like I finally have some direction! 🙂

    March 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Yeah, I was with Host Gator for about 9 months and I ended up having a lot of downtime. They always got the sites back up, but the customer service was a little slow and I always felt like they started out each time asking, “What did you do? You must have done something to screw your sites up.” I was really nervous about jumping over to Bluehost, especially because I did the transfer myself, but it’s been a good thing.

      March 6, 2014 at 10:15 pm
  • Reply Renee

    Great post! I look forward to reading the rest of the series. 🙂

    March 9, 2014 at 10:15 pm
  • Reply Christine

    I’ve been playing with starting a blog. I read this post to my husband and it inspired him to buy a domain and hosting space for me, so I guess I’m committed now lol What do you suggest for the first posts after the intro post? Just jump right into it as if the blog has always existed, or should there be some kind of progression into your blog content?

    March 21, 2014 at 9:14 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      I’d say just jump into it. Keep the posts short, though. I feel like a lot of early blogs have huge posts because they’ve been saving up a lot to say and that’s intimidating for readers. Yay for your new blog!!

      March 22, 2014 at 1:40 pm
      • Reply Christine

        Thanks! 🙂

        March 22, 2014 at 2:24 pm
  • Reply Shannon

    I’ve been thinking of starting a blog since my high needs daughter was born- finally going to sit down and do it this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration!

    April 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm
  • Reply Novella

    Genuinely when someone doesn’t understand after that its up to other people that they will
    assist, so here it takes place.

    April 29, 2014 at 1:58 pm
  • Reply Kelsey

    I googled “should I attended a blog conference” and am so thankful to have found your step by step blog start up!!! Seriously, so so helpful! Thank you thank you thank you!!

    April 28, 2016 at 7:47 am
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      You’re welcome! I’m glad it helped!

      May 1, 2016 at 6:50 pm

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