I bet you are asking “How do I start a blog with no money?” because you know that websites make money. It’s a proven fact. But, how? How do they make money? How can you start a website or blog with no money? Well if you want every single detail, then start here. If you are a working mom looking for a side hustle that will make you money, all your answers are here.
Let me start this by saying, creating a blog doesn’t earn you an income right away. It might take YEARS. Starting a blog is playing the long game.
But, it is definitely is a great way to plan ahead and use your knowledge to create passive income.
I know from experience, that blogging works. There is money on the internet and it can be yours.
But, for every website that has succeeded and made thousands of dollars, there are a dozen more that have failed.
Let me tell you how to succeed.
- Let me tell you my story
- My Web Design Background
- Blogs vs. Niche Sites
- How to make your website successful.
- How websites work
- 1. $ – How to start a blog with no money
- 2. $$ – Cheapest way to start a blog
- 3. $$$ – How to start a website on with managed hosting
- 4. How to earn money with your blog
- Other things you need to know
- How do I start a blog with no money?
Let me tell you my story
In 2013 (yes, TEN YEARS ago), I was working as an office manager for an engineering firm, and the office we worked in had a fire and our office burned. We ended up moving out of our office building for a year. During that time, I worked from a temporary table in the middle of my living room….my first work at home job.
If you can imagine, it’s really hard being an office manager without an office manage. So, during my slow long days in my living room, I started my own blog on the side.
Everyone was doing it, so why not me?
I loved this place to show up every day, and made lots of blogging friends – some that I even have today!
Around 2019, I decided that I needed to pivot. And that’s when I rebranded from A Modern Commonplace Book to Modern Work at Home Mom. I realized that I needed to either really try to earn money with my site, or let it die. So, I pivoted to this new site…and this is where I am today!
My Web Design Background
During this same time, I started an LLC to design websites for bloggers. I became fluent in HTML, CSS, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Blogger, and every other blog platform out there.
I did this for a few years, and designed custom blog templates and themes for WordPress and Blogger, and offered hosting support services for any site on any host.
You can trust me because I have worked personally with dozens of hosts, and have seen firsthand what makes a good site host. Not only have I used to multiple hosts for my site – but I have been on the phone at midnight with tons of other hosts.
This is why you can trust me.
Blogs vs. Niche Sites
The word “Blog” comes from the phrase “Web Log” (yeah, did you know that?) and is basically a log of your life, interests, family events, etc. It can have a main theme, but it is a personal site to log your life.
A niche site is a website that is an expert in a specific topic. You could create a niche site about fixing toilets, and become the expert. Do you have to like the topic? Nope! You have just have to be the pro and gain the trust of your readers.
To get started with Niche Sites, I’d recommend the YouTube channel Income School and this video in particular. It’s GOLD.
There are a ton of questions out there about starting a blog. How do you do it? What is hosting? What host should you choose? What is important in a host?
This article is going to answer the following questions:
- How do I start a blog with no money?
- How do websites make money?
- What is the cheapest way to start a blog (on WordPress)?
How to make your website successful.
What makes a successful blog? Persistence.
No website succeeds right away. No website starts making money on the first day. And I bet very few websites make money and succeed on the same blogging platform or with the same theme where they started.
Instead, most website go through MANY iterations. Many hosts. Many themes.
Successful bloggers start…but also keep going.
You have to be persistent and play the long game. Expect to burn the midnight oil and work late hours and to never stop. And only then, will your website be successful.
How websites work
Let’s think about your website like a house. Your website is the house. The website files are your bricks. The domain is your address. WordPress (or Squarespace, Blogger, etc.) is your door. The design is the paint and pretty siding. Your host is your location.
Your host holds and stores all your website files, making the actual site possible in the first place! Every host has a server, server space, and security to make sure your files are safe and secure.
If you have a hosted framework like Squarespace, Wix, WordPress.com or Blogger, you are essentially renting space. And that framework is also your host. They possess and own your files.
If you use and install WordPress.org, you own your files. And, just like someone who owns a house, you have to shop around and check out the real estate of who will be good enough to house your files. Make sense?
Ok, now let’s talk about how to start a blog with no money.
1. $ – How to start a blog with no money
The only way to start a blog with no money, is to start your website on Blogger.
Blogger is Google’s free website host that allows you to start a blog without paying for the platform. If you are interested in starting a blog, and have zero dollars to put towards your website, then definitely start on Blogger.
If you start a website or niche site on Blogger, keep in mind that you might want to transfer to a wordpress site in the future. If you do this, it will require you to start all over again, and pay for a hosting transfer. It’s not that hard, but it’s complicated. Just keep this in mind!
Here’s a beginners tutorial on how to start a website on Blogger:
- Click here and click “Create Your Blog”
- Sign in with your Google account (TIP! Create a new Google account just for this site)
- Choose a name for your site
- Choose a blogspot URL for your site (TIP! Pick a blog’s name and URL that is also available on Namecheap here. If you decide to purchase your own domain in the future, you might have access to your own .com URL.)
- Once you create this free blog, you will be able to write your first post! Your new blank site will not have a theme. But, you will be able to begin writing.
- To find a free Blogger theme, click “Theme” on the left sidebar and choose a free template.
- Every theme will give you different options to customize it, so have fun testing them out, and choosing one that works for you.
- Once you have chosen a blog theme for free, have fun creating content and sharing your new blog with all your friends!
NOTE: When you are ready to have a hosted WordPress site with your own domain, do not purchase a domain on WordPress.com and connect your site to that WordPress option. That is NOT a self-hosted wordpress site, and you will continue to be linked to Blogger. Instead, follow the directions below to purchase a domain with Namecheap, get a hosting plan with Bigscoots, and have them or a developer setup WordPress for you and connect your Blogger site.
2. $$ – Cheapest way to start a blog
If you are willing to spend a little bit of money on your website, I would recommend using Bluehost for your host and domain. It’s SUPER CHEAP and has a great reputation for their customer service.
Believe me. I’ve been on the phone with them many times at midnight with crazy issues, and Bluehost support ALWAYS comes through.
How cheap is Bluehost’s cheapest plan?
Their cheapest plan is $2.95 a month and that includes a domain. This is crazy cheap! So, if you want to pay the cheapest price possible to start a beginner website, GO WITH BLUEHOST. This is how you get started:
Click “Get Started” and start with the Basic Plan for $2.95/month. (You can see all their plans here.) Select the Basic Plan and create a free domain name. This is definitely the cheapest way to set up a new domain!
If you already have a domain, just click “Use a domain you own”.
Bluehost will scan your domain options, and let you pick one that is available, and that matches your site name. Have fun with this! It’s SUPER fun to test out new domains.
Once you choose a domain, you will set up a new account, and Bluehost will walk you through how to set up your new site. You will be able to choose your site package, and decide what kind of plan you want!
Bluehost will also set up WordPress on your new site for you! You will not set this up separately – Bluehost will do this for you.
Squarespace and Wix
Just a note about Squarespace and Wix. Both of these platforms will cost money, so they don’t count as free options. But, they offer really simple ways to create websites. They act as a host, theme, and domain registrar all in one. You pay one simple monthly fee, and they do it all.
Personally, I find them more restrictive than WordPress sites, because they aren’t as customizable. They also require a larger monthly subscription than just a plan WordPress host. But, if you want a simple way to start a website, definitely check them out.
If you want a great resource for blogging on Squarespace, my favorite is Allison Lindstrom. Her videos are great!
3. $$$ – How to start a website on with managed hosting
Choosing a domain on Namecheap
If you are wanting to pay a little more, and have a deluxe setup for your website, I recommend choosing a domain on a separate platform, like Namecheap.
Like this Beginner’s Guide mentions, “domain name and web hosting are completely separate services from each other. So much so, you do not need to actually have your domain name and web hosting with the same provider.”
Also, your domain does not have to match your blog’s name. But, as you think about your branding and future of your site, spend time finding a blog’s name and domain that match the vision of your site.
I recommend getting your domain name from Namecheap. It allows you to have full control over your domain, and for it not to be attached to any host.
Namecheap makes it really easy to be creative, find a domain name, and register it for cheap.
Once you purchase your domain on Namecheap, you will move on to purchasing your hosting plan
Choosing a managed host for your blog
What is managed hosting? A managed host is a dedicated server just for you. You won’t be sharing a server (like on Bluehost), and your hosting speed will be dedicated, unique for you, and SUPER FAST.
If you want the best service and the best host, definitely opt for a managed host. What should you look for in a host with a managed server? Here are my top 3 criteria:
1. Look for Excellent Customer Service.
2. Look to grow with a host.
I assume you want your site to grow. Look at the options. Does the host top at 50,000 pageviews/month? Does the host only have limited space? Transferring between hosts is very complicated and time consuming, so start off well! Don’t start small and prevent yourself from growing.
3. Look for a reasonable price, but high quality
I have tried SO MANY HOSTS – and Bigscoot’s pricing is about 1/3 of what I was paying before for the same managed hosting. I DEFINITELY recommend their managed WordPress hosting.
Did I mention that switching between hosts is a NIGHTMARE? Like, I am a pro and I still shiver when sites need to be migrated. BigScoots transferred my site in about a day WITH NO DOWN TIME. Can I please shout this from the rooftops?
After I got transferred to BigScoots, they emailed me a speed report showing me how much faster my site was with their hosting. This report was going above and beyond.
I’ve been stunned by how fast my websites are. I run a ton of ads and plugins, and my sites are still super fast.
Once you set up your host plan for your domain, contact your host and ask them to help connect your Namecheap domain to your host. Bigscoots can do this EASILY. Just contact your web hosting company and they will set this up for you.
Bluehost will also set up WordPress on your new domain and hosting plan, and set up a WordPress login for you.
How much does Bigscoots cost? Bigscoots Managed WordPress hosting starts at $34.95. Yes, that is a huge price increase from $2.95 Bluehost, but it is the BEST DEAL for WordPress managed hosting. Trust me!
The Best WordPress Themes
Once you have WordPress hooked up to your site, what next? Now it’s time to make it pretty.
There are SO MANY WordPress themes out there for your enjoyment, and I have personally used DOZENS. I have used free wordpress themes, high-quality expensive themes, and everything in the middle. Here are some of my favorite:
- Bluchic: I had the Victoria theme from Bluchic for YEARS and loved it so much. It was my dream theme. You can see their whole shop here. Their themes are just stunning. I totally recommend them! You can also sign up for all their awesome freebies here.
- Astra: Astra is hands-down the best free WordPress theme out there. I have used it, and I love it. It is built well, and won’t slow down your site. It is very customizable, and has almost unlimited options. The one reason I don’t prefer it, is that it looks very generic, and takes a lot of work to make it look personalized. But, as far as free WordPress themes go, Astra is the best.
- Hello You Designs: I have purchased many Hello You Designs, I love their quality! They are feminine, unique, and a really great price point. I have admired this theme for a long time.
- Acabado: If you are interested in a basic WordPress theme for a blog’s niche site, then Acabado is your best possible option. Acabado is created by Income School, the founders of Project 24 – the ultimate niche site resources. It is lightening fast, does not require any personalization (ie. “About Page”), and is sleek! I have this for a couple other sites, and love it!
- Davey and Krista: Right now I’m using an Elementor theme by Davey and Krista, and it’s my dream site. Yes, it costs more than the other themes on this list, but I wanted it for so long, and it was worth every penny. The theme I have is an Elementor theme, which is a website builder that my theme uses as a basis. It was complicated at first for me to set up, but Davey and Krista have great resources and customer support, and I loved customizing it. If you are going to spend money for a site with high quality content, I totally recommend Davey and Krista.
- Elementor: If you are looking for an easy way to start using Elementor that is pretty fool-proof, check out this Hello Theme by Elementor. It is so pretty and easy!
The Best WordPress Plugins
There are millions of WordPress plugins out there. It’s hard to know which ones are best! Take my advice, and use minimal plugins. Each one adds extra code to your site, and can slow it down. Be incredibly picky when installing plugins, and only add plugins that are regularly updated. Here are some of my favorite essential plugins:
- RankMath SEO: This is my favorite SEO plugin ever. I have used Yoast SEO, All In One, and SEOPress, and this one is by far my favorite. It’s slim (doesn’t bloat your site), and gives me unreal insight into the SEO for my site. The free version is incredible.
- AntiSpam Bee: You need a plugin to blog comment spam on your site, and most people will recommend Akismet. While that plugin is really great, I have found AntiSpam Bee is better. Here is a great article explaining the difference.
- Social Warfare: You need a social sharing plugin, and Social Warfare is the best of the best. I used this plugin for years, and it definitely helped grow my site. The pro options are endless (floating sharing buttons, matching branded colors, etc.). I highly recommend it!
- W3 Total Cache: A caching plugin will optimize your pages, store data for your site, and reduce the load time when visitors visit your site. In short, it makes your site super fast. Definitely recommend!
4. How to earn money with your blog
This is why you are here, right? You want to earn money with your site, and have passive income.
So, how does a website earn money? First, there are so many ways to make money blogging. And, if you tap into each possible money-making avenue, you will benefit from all the options, and have different sources of revenue.
Here are the five main ways to earn money with your blog:
- Setting up ads on your site
- Growing an email list
- Selling Products
- Sharing Affiliate Links
- Getting sponsorships
Let’s dive into them briefly!
Setting up ads on your site
How do ads make money? Ads will make you money based on pageview and ad impression. If a visitor comes to your site and sees one page, it counts as a pageview. If an ad shows during that view, it is an ad impression. The reader doesn’t have to click on the ad. It just has to appear, and show an impression. The ad company will pay for that impression.
So traffic = money.
There are tons of companies out there that will want to set up ads on your site. Be wary! Do your research. Most have strict contracts that are hard to get out of. So just be careful.
Because many companies require a minimum of 50,000 or 100,000 pageviews a month to start serving ads on your site, I would recommend starting with Google Adsense until you grow to that point.
It’s super easy to set up Google Adsense! Just start here and click “Get Started”. You don’t need a minimum number of pageviews, and the process of inserting ads on your site is super easy. Yes, the payout would be a lot smaller than the bigger ad companies. But, you can get started right away!
Growing an email list
Now an email list won’t immediately make you money. But, without an email list, you’ll never make money. This is how it works.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Email Marketing Fairy: My favorite email resource EVER is Kate Doster’s Email Marketing Fairy. Kate Doster is the ultimate email marketing guru, and everything she creates is gold. This email bundle includes: 60 email templates, how to create sales funnels, a reengagement series for your list, 30 grab-and-go newsletter templates, and a break-up series. You will learn everything you need from this series. And it’s insanely cheap. Get it here!
- Birdsend: This is my preferred ESP (email service provider.) Have you heard of Mailchimp or ConvertKit? Well, Birdsend is 80% cheaper than those two and just as good (or better in my opinon). It’s cheap, high quality, has tons of features, and is the best email provider I’ve ever found. The starting price is $7.50/month for 1,000 subscribers. That’s crazy town. Sign up here and get 2 months free.
Start selling products right away! If you have an idea of a digital product that would help your readers, create it and sell it on your site. As you grow traffic, you will be amazed at how many people will resonate with you and buy your products.
If you want to get started today, you have to check out Gold City Ventures.
Gold City Ventures (with Julie and Cody) has the perfect free seminar to learn how to start selling on Etsy. It’s fascinating!
Sharing Affiliate Links
How do affiliates work? Affiliate marketing links are links to products that you endorse. And, if a reader buys that product, you will get a percentage.
The problem is that most readers can see through an empty product plug. Instead, they want to see products that you use, and that you love. Credibility sells products. So, in my experience, affiliate links are the slowest income stream there is…but also the most affective long term.
Be honest. Be credible. And people will buy.
Here are some of my favorite affiliate programs:
- Impact: Impact is one of my favorite affiliate partnerships. They are a single brand, that acts as an affiliate program for my favorite brands: Namecheap, Bluehost, Ipsy, Homer, and Little Passports! Seriously, I love all of these brands. Sign up here!
- Shareasale: If you like brands like Minted, Erin Condren, Grammarly, DockATot, Primary.com, and momAgenda, then you need to sign up for Shareasale! They create affiliates for all these brands, and pay you a percentage when people buy. It’s a great system! Sign up here for free.
- Commission Junction: I love CJ because they offer affiliate for KiwiCo (our favorite) and ABC Mouse. They also have affiliates for Burts Bees, Gerber Kids, Hooked on Phonics, PlanetBox, Stride Rite, and Rosetta Stone. Great brands! Apply for free here.
Getting sponsorships are one of the more advanced ways to earning money with your site. If you decide to work with brands and have a readership or following, you will be able to create relationships with them, and get sponsored for different promotions.
I have only done a few sponsorships before, because it’s very tricky. There is a lot to learn about contracts and policies, and making sure you are getting a good deal.
If you are interested in getting sponsored posts, I’d start by reading this step-by-step guide.
Other things you need to know
There is so much to learn about setting up a blog! From your first blog post, to the moment that you are crazy rich (we hope right!), you will be learning, growing, adding to your site. Very rarely do we just sit back and watch a site grow. It’s a constant learning process. Here are a few other things you might want to set up right away.
Google Analytics Account and Google Search Console
You need Google Analytics and Google Search Console. You just do. Don’t create any new blog posts until you have these two things set up.
Google Analytics: is the STANDARD for stats and analytics. Don’t rely on any other plugin for this. To set up, just sign up here with your blog-specific Google account.
Google Search Console: helps you measure your search traffic and performance. It gives you tools to see how your site is ranking in Google. Sign up here and connect it to your same Google Analytics account.
Search Engine Optimization
If you want traffic, you will want to immediately start doing keyword research, and optimize your site for Google SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is how you will rank.
Now, there are HUNDREDS of SEO tools out there – from Semrush to SE Ranking. My advice? Stick with Google Keyword Planner.
Google Keyword Planner: Google Ads offers a free Google Keyword Planner to help discover new keywords. It tells you which keywords are ranking, and for how many pageviews. Search for some topics, and find a keyword that has a lot of search volume, but low competition. And right a blog post for that keyword!
If you want to learn more, watch Income School on YouTube and just injest every resource they put out. You will learn more than any paid course out there.
Using Social Media
How do I start a blog with no money?
Well, if this was your question, then I hope I answered it!
I hope you learned how to start a blog (free, cheap, or expensive), how to write content, how to find your blog’s niche, how to make full-time income.
If you have any questions, please leave comments below! I love talking about websites, blogs, and everything in between. Good luck!
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