Blogging basics

"What is blogging and How can I make money with a blog?" is one of the most asked questions on the web. My duty here is to provide a complete answer to that.

I am going to try to boil this down to the essentials. There are websites that contain plenty of information on this subject, so I am not going to try to cover everything here. If you are looking for a good website about blogging for beginners, I suggest reading Make Money Blogging At No Cost. But for a quick, bottom-line version keep reading…

What is a blog?

A blog is short for “weblog”. Basically, it is just a website that has articles listed in reverse chronological order that is updated daily (or as frequently as the writer chose). Over the last decade many software programs and blogging platforms have been created to make the process VERY EASY.

As the blog writer( or Blogger as they are called), depending on which platform you use, you can just type your article, press submit and it shows up on your blog for the world to see. Most bloggers don’t know any programming languages and are not “techies.” Starting a blog is one of the easiest ways out there to start a website. If you haven’t started one yet, why not try it? It can be very quick to set up and can be completely free.

Is it easy to start a blog?

Of course, starting blog is very easy. Even if there are steps along the way that are confusing, there are plenty of resources to get the help you need. There are over 20 million blogs in existence, so it can’t be that difficult only if you will take the step to learn.

How much does it cost to blog?

There are many services that allow you to start a blog for free and a few of them have been included below. I suggest using one of the free services if you are a beginner to get a basic feel for blogging and “get your feet wet.” Once you decide you want to stick with it full-time and big-time, I suggest moving up to a self-hosted blog and how you can do this is also included below. Anyone who is really trying to make money with a blog will probably be more successful with a self-hosted blog. Getting a self-hosted blog may not be free, but still can be VERY inexpensive. You will need to pay for nothing more than a domain name ($10) and web-hosting (as cheap as a few bucks a month).

Getting a blogging platform

All 4 of the options listed are free. The first 3 options are the easiest, but the are also limited on features. If you are just trying to make an extra few hundred dollars from your blog, these options could work. But if you are really serious about trying to make good money from your blog, I recommend self-hosting your blog (which we talk about in the next section…). – This is probably the simplest blogging platform to use, but it also is the probably the least customizeable. So, it might be something good to start with, but it would be more difficult to build an income-generating website with it. – Blogger is also very good, easy to set up, owned by Google, you can customize the theme, and the domain name includes “” (in some people’s opinion a little less professional). Blogger continues to become more customizeable and currently has a lot more options than they did a few years ago. – I like they are completely free, easy to set up, you can customize the theme, but other customizations are limited, domain name includes “”. – Wait, what is the difference between and To put it simply is where you will go to set up a basic, easy blog with limited features. is where you will go to get a self-hosted blog. If you get to the point where you are serious about blogging and really want to make some money with it, you need to self-host your blog.

Here is how to create your own free website that you would need to make money online:

Create A New Email

First,you need to open a new email address that would serve as a username for logging in to your Blogger account. A Gmail account is preferrable for this purpose,but you may also use any other email provider such as Yahoo, AOL, etc.

To open a new:

After opening your new email address, you will need to open a free blogger account using the email address and password of your new email.

Create a Blogger Account

In order to get started with Blogger, you need to create an account.

First,go to the Blogger homepage, and click the "Create Your Blog Now" button close to the top right hand corner:

Screenshot: Create A New Blog

On the following page( that is the page that loads) fill the form you see. (If you are using gmail, click the Sign in first link at the top right hand corner of this form. If you are using Yahoomail or any other email address,just read on.)

Note: Look to the right for instructions about each box you will fill in.

Enter the new email address you just created and its password( 8 Characters) in the spaces provided for such.

Display Name is the name that appears after each post you make.

Finally,Enter the word verification and click on the empty box to accept Blogger's Terms of Service.

Then click the red button that says 'Continue'.

Once you're done with this, you'll be prompted to Create a Blog and get started!

The next page Says: Name Your Blog

For Blog Title, type TEST. (Don't worry,you will change this later.)

For blog address(url) type your full name,(Don't worry,you will also change this later.)

For instance my name is Chinyeaka Onam, so I will write chinyeakaonam (that is in small letters and without any space.) as my url.

Then click on the link that says check availability and wait for confirmation

if it says Sorry, this blog address is not available

,then add 101 to your name, so for me it will now be chinyeakaonam101.

Then click on the link that says check availability again and wait for confirmation and
if it says:

This blog address is available.

Then Click 'Continue' button.

You are taking to the Choose a template page.

Just scroll down and click Continue.(Do not worry! I will teach you how to design the blog soon.)

The next page should say:

Your blog has been created!

Click the Start Blogging button you see below and wait for the next page to load completely.

Then you are required to create your first post.So in the box called Title:, write this Test Post

Then, click inside the bigger box, then write this: "I am making my first post now and I wish to discover more details about blogging later."

Then click the red button called PUBLISH POST.

The next page confirms by saying: Your blog post published successfully!

Click on the link that says View Blog and what you see in the page that loads is your own blog.

Hurray! Your blog is available for the world to see.But,not yet ready.Next week I will lead you to Starting your blog with a Blogging Plan. Watch Out!

For additional study,please go to Google Help.

How to setup a self-hosted blog

If you are going to be using one of the first three options above, you can skip this section.

If you are serious about blogging and are looking for the best way to customize your blog’s look and other features, then getting a self-hosted blog from is probably the best way to go. It is currently the top choice for most bloggers. It does require more work up front and does have small costs associated with it: buying a domain name ($10/year) and hosting your blog ($10/month).

One of the big advantages is that you can use your own domain name (i.e. While this might not seem like a big deal, it is a lot easier for people to remember rather than which is what you will be given if you use Blogger.

I will warn you, being a non-techie myself, this took me some time figuring out how to get my self-hosted site set up. has a great step-by-step guide for getting you set up. While it is more work on the front end, I am really glad I got good advice and did this at the beginning, than having to do it now.

Pick a Domain Name

1. You should start by purchasing a domain name. is a great tool to see what names are still available. I would suggest going to for a .com rather than a .info or .us or anything else for that matter. It is just too easy for people to get confused. A .com is always going to hold more value than any other extension.

2. Once you get it picked out, you need to find somewhere to purchase it. I bought my first few domains at and have bought the remaining ones from Dreamhost. While GoDaddy is about one of the biggest names out there, I can’t say that I recommend them because of some of their advertising campaigns that they run. But the good news is that there are thousands of options of places where you can purchase a domain name.

Pick a host for your blog

The webhost is the company that you pay to store all of your files for your blog. There are also a million web hosting companies out there. I don’t suggest just looking for the cheapest one, because a lot of these companies are not very reliable and your site might be down quite a bit.

I like to go with the bigger companies who have a longer track record and are more established. They may cost a dollar or two more a month when you are starting out and it is well worth it.

Dreamhost, MediaTemple and BlueHost very good hosts. I have heard decent things about them from others. They may be worth checking out if you are pricing web hosts. But remember that as a beginner you need to start out with the FREE HOSTs.

Get a customizable theme

After I took the step the self-host this site, the next step that greatly helped me increase earnings was choosing a highly-customizable theme. I don’t necessarily recommend doing this at the beginning, since it does cost money to get a good theme, but once you are committed to blogging and are willing to invest a few bucks, putting that money towards a good theme is a good investment. For this site, I purchased Semiologic, which is a fantastic theme that gives you a lot of control. It costs $300 for the full version, but I quickly made that money back because the theme allowed me optimize my ad placement in ways that no other themes did.

If you are a programmer, you really don’t need to buy a theme because you can make the all the customizations yourself to any basic theme. Since starting to blog a couple years ago, I have learned some HTML codes, and lucky enough I am a programmer! But for beginners who are using, I suggest you get free website templates from finalsense.

How I make money with this blog

When I go to family functions or social events I often get a blank stare when I explain what I do for a living. I think people understand the part that I write articles and put them on a website, but when it comes to making money from it, they don’t get it. In this section I will lay it out and hopefully it will help bring some clarity…

CPC Ad Networks

There are a few different ad networks that I use on CPF. The most successful one has been Google’s Adsense program. Basically what they do is read the article that I write and find ads that are relevant to it and display them next to the article. The great thing about it is that by having extremely relevant ads, it actually can be quite beneficial to the readers as well. For example, if I write an article explaining what an IRA was, but didn’t mention where you could open one, Adsense would likely be displaying ads of places to open an IRA. So as a reader, if I read that article and decided that I did want to open an IRA, the ads would be providing options that the article did not.

I am currently doing a few tests with another CPC network called Chitika. Apparently, you can use it in conjunction with Adsense. The jury is still out, but I am interested to see how it compares to Adsense. All things considered, I have found that if optimized correctly, Adsense really can work well. I will explain more about how to optimize it in sections below.

As a beginner at blogging, adsense should be your first and only source of income in blogging. As time goes on you will find other sources of income for bloggers.

How long does it take to make money from a blog

The second question that people normally ask after, “how do I make money with a blog?” is, “how long is it going to take?”. Well just like most things in life, there is no legitimate quick and easy way. It takes time and hard work.

For the first year, you have to be working at about 20 hours a week. Learn everything about blogging, advertising, getting traffic, etc and make sure you post an article daily on your blog.

Blog earnings visualized

From other people I know who make a decent amount from their blogs, this curve seems to be typical. While the first year may not yield much income, it is very crucial for the second year to be able to. While I wish I could tell you that you could jump right ahead to where the income starts increasing quicker, but I just don’t think it is likely. There are some tips in this article that I wish I would have known at the beginning and I think they will make things go a lot quicker, but there is no getting around the fact that it is going to take you time to get there.

But just like anything, the more you put in, the more you get out. The two keys are consistency and a willingness to learn. Without them, I would say that it will be very difficult to make money with your blog.

So, from the onset of your blog write articles daily because that is 80% of what you need to get the visitors (traffic) to your blog if you want to make money from it.

How to get traffic to your blog

So now are getting to the point of this article where I start sharing everything I have learned over the last couple years about blogging. So, if you are like most, you want to create a blog so that others can read what you have to say. Sadly, people will not find your blog (in the beginning anyway) unless you do a little legwork. These are some of the things I did to get traffic and some that I still do.

The first thing I suggest doing is writing a few great articles about your topic and feature them in your sidebar. Then I would start working on generating traffic, because you not only want traffic, but you want returning traffic as well.

Guest Posting!!

I think this is one of the best ways to start getting some quick traffic. Almost every blog I know allows guest posts (even this one) – and almost every one of those does not discriminate. What I mean is that most bloggers (that I know anyway) will accept or reject a guest post based on it’s quality, not on whether they know the person or not. This provides a great opportunity for a newbie to write an article that could be seen by 20,000 readers. I don’t know of any other method that could bring traffic as quick.

I must admit, I could still do more guest posting myself. I have been pleased with the results in the past. The key is to write a great article – don’t hold back your best stuff. I have seen people grow their blogs very quickly by giving some of their best articles away as guest posts. Also, only submit unpublished content as a guest post. If it has already been published, then the blog that is allowing you to guest post won’t get any search engine traffic for that article. But there are places to republish your articles you have already published – we will get to that in a minute…

Sign up for blog community sites

Just a few off the top of my head are,, and Look for other blogs in your niche and join their networks and ask to become their friends. Networking with some of your fellow bloggers here will send a few visitors your way and is a good way to get started.

Submit to Blogcarnivals

One of the best things beginning bloggers can do is to sign up for blogcarnivals. At this site you can submit articles that you wrote on your blog to be included in a list of articles by the hosting blog. It is kind of like “open mic night.” If you have a good article with a good title, you can get some good traffic from blogcarnivals, not to mention incoming links from other related sites.

Join Directories

If I were starting a blog today, one of the first things I would do is Google “whatever topic I want to blog about” + “directory” This should return a list of web directories about your topic. Getting added to these directories will only help. You may not get a lot of traffic from them, but ultimately they will help you get more traffic from the search engines. A few to get you started…

Blog Commenting

One of the absolute best ways for new blogs to get traffic is just to comment on other blogs. Commenting with a thoughtful and provocative response will often send a few visitors your way. The blogging community is generally a very social community and those who are active in the community often reap the rewards of it.

Forum Commenting

Becoming involved in forums related to your topic and having a link to your blog in the signature line can send a few visitors. Google “your topic” and “forums” and you are sure to find a few. Just don’t be annoying and go in just to promote yourself. People can see that from a mile away. The new age of the internet (aka Web 2.0) is very much a “give and you shall receive” environment. If you seek to give and be a benefit before seeking your own rewards, you will be much better off.

Linking to other blogs

I don’t know what it is, but everyone wants to know when someone is talking about them. So it is with blogs. When people link to my site, I get a notification and often go check out who linked to me and what the context was. I have had some good relationships form just from this.

Create Squidoo pages, and a handful of others are sites that allow you to build a simple page about a topic. You can do it very quick and the pages often rank well in the search engines. If you build a page that gets a little bit of traffic and have links coming back to your site, you will catch some of those visitors.

Article submissions

Submit articles to article submission sites. These sites collect articles and most allow a bio-section that can include a link back to your blog. Here are a few that are worth looking into…

SEO tips for blogs

It will take a while to get a decent amount of traffic from the search engines. The search engines do not like NEW websites. They like more established sites that have a lot of people linking to them, hence proving that they are reputable. This is why getting links from other bloggers, directories, other web sites that have a good reputation in the search engines’ eyes is very important.

As your blog begins to grow by having more pages and more links the search engines will begin to send you more and more traffic. This is a good thing!! But, as I mentioned earlier, they are very wary of new websites – so time will be your ally when it comes to the search engines.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an science/art (depending on who you ask) that focuses on getting your website or blog to the top of the search engine listings. Being at the top of Google’s results for any decent keywords can be a great source of traffic and the greatest part about it is that it is FREE TRAFFIC!!!

I am not going to get deep into SEO much here, there are far more thorough books about it (i.e. SEOBook) but as your blog grows you should try to learn more about it, as it will only help you by knowing more. Just like most of the things you will learn while blogging, you don’t need to be an expert at it – just having a working knowledge will provide great results.

The thing to remember about the search engines (especially Google) is that they are trying to create a perfect system where any searcher can find exactly what they want. Google wants to display the most relevant websites to their searchers. They will never have a perfect system, but they probably won’t stop trying.

If you can keep this in mind, it will be very helpful when you are trying to optimize your blog. Don’t waste your time trying to trick them, they will figure it out and will punish you for it. Just focus on making it very clear to them what your site is all about and writing great content for your reader and the rest will take care of itself.

So, let’s get to some SEO. These are some of the most important (in my opinion) pieces of SEO that every beginner should know. If you do these right, you will be much better off than most people who don’t know anything about SEO.

1. Title Tags

This may be the single most important part of on-page SEO. The title tag of your website is what shows up in the top of your browser window. It is also one of the most important determining factors that the search engines use to determine what your site is about.


In the above picture you can see that the title tag is “Christian Personal Finance – Financial help, debt help…” You WILL want to make sure that your title tags contain the keywords that you want to rank for in the search engines. If your site is about rock climbing, you will not want to have “welcome to Bill’s blog” in the title tags. Something better would be “Rock climbing 101 the best rock climbing techniques”

2. Anchor Text

Anchor text – the text that people use when linking. For instance, if I created a link for a great search engine you can see that the link will go to Google. “great search engine” is the anchor text. The anchor text is a big deal, because it tells the search engines what other sites say your site is about. Google really places a lot of importance on what words are in the anchor text.

Obviously, you will not be able to control how other people link to your site all of the time. But, for those times that you can, you should use your keywords when possible. Linking to other pages and posts on your website, directory submissions, blog carnivals, and your signature line in forums all may be good places to make sure you get your keywords in your anchor text.

3. Keyword Research

If you are trying to get traffic from search engines, it is always a good idea to know what people are searching for before you start writing. I often use Aaron Wall’s keyword tool and run some keyword ideas through it to get estimates of how many people are searching for them.

4. Get links

We already lightly discussed the importance of links coming into your blog. Other that the great benefit they play in improving your search rankings, they also send visitors to your site. It is an obvious benefit, but often overlooked by people focusing on SEO. If you get a link from a blog that gets a lot of visitors, you could see a huge traffic spike from it. If you get links from lots of blogs, you could and will see visitors coming from most of them. Maybe not a bunch, but as you get more and more links, you will see more visitors coming.

The bottom line about link-building is that you have to create something great that people want to link to. If you can consistently do that, many other things will fall into place.

How to increase Adsense earnings by $1500 in less than 3 months

This section is going to be a little bit beyond the basics and I will provide details of how to dramatically improve earnings from Adsense. Just to clarify, this is an idea of how much difference a few tweaks could make in a short amount of time.

The thing you have to understand about Adsense is that no two sites are alike. Every blog has a different audience and different articles and most likely a different layout, all these things affect Adsense earnings. Knowing that, testing and trying new things is critical to find the winners!

1. Add a Privacy Policy

This is such a simple thing to do. I never realized that is a “requirement” for Adsense publishers, but when I added a link in my footer to my Privacy Policy there was a noticeable increase in earnings. I assume that Google rewards those who have a privacy policy and punishes those that don’t by trimming their earnings. In a perfect world you would want your lawyer to draft your privacy policy, but here is a sample template of a privacy policy to make your life a bit easier.


2. Put ads where people’s eyeballs went…

For me there is an eternal struggle between usability and profitability with ads. While I need to make money to pay my bills, I still want to make this site as user friendly as possible. So, I have made some sacrifices with this site in order to maintain certain levels of usability, but one of the main keys to making money with Adsense is ad placement.

Like I mentioned before, this needs to be experimented with. But for the first year or more of this site I just kinda threw the ads where ever I had extra room. Once I changed the location of my ads, my earnings tripled overnight. It really freaked me out. I had no idea that just moving an ad a couple inches would have such a dramatic effect.

The diagram to the right (from Google) provides some good starting point for what locations work and don’t.

3. Section Targeting

This was another tweak I made that made a noticeable difference in earnings. Basically “section targeting” is telling Google what text on your site to look at when deciding what ads to show. Google is pretty good at figuring this out if you don’t do this, but if you have a lot of stuff going on in your sidebars and footer sections, it is probably worth experimenting with.

It is very easy to implement. You only need to use this tag…

<!– google_ad_section_start –>

to tell Google to start, and this tag…

<!– google_ad_section_end –>

to tell them to stop. I just added a text widget at the top of my post for the start tag and after the content for the end tag.

4. Who Sees Ads Plugin

This is a great plugin that allows you (as the name suggests) choose which visitors see which ads. There are lots of criteria that you can select, so you can specify that Search Engine users see a particular Adsense unit when regular readers see something else. I have found that search engine visitors click Adsense ads a lot more than regular readers. I still show some Adsense to regular readers, but I focus my energy on the visitors from search engines – this plugin makes this very easy.

5. Change the colors

When Adsense first came out, people said to make the colors as loud and ugly as possible to draw attention to them. Next I heard that the best thing to do was to blend them into the site. Of the two methods I think that blending works a little better, and definitely looks a lot better! But, I have a slight variation of that has worked even better for me. Currently I have have most of my links set to a lighter blue color. I used to have many of my Adsense ads match that, but I saw a nice increase when I changed the Ad titles to the old standard Link Blue. I feel that visually it is a complement rather than a match. It stands out a little bit more, but doesn’t look bad either – IMO…

6. Write articles people are searching for

This might seem unrelated, but it is very important. If you are like most bloggers, you have a regular readership and you have readers from the search engines. For some reason, a lot of bloggers just don’t give much respect to search engine readers and don’t really try to reach out to them other than trying to “convert” them to a regular reader. I approach things a little bit differently, rather than getting frustrated at the fact that so many search engine visitors don’t come back, I started to embrace it. I realized that my main goal of this site was to help people, so why should I care if they only visit once or on a daily basis if they are getting helped? So while I very much appreciate and value my regular readers, I also understand that I can help those who find the site via a search engine.

I started doing keyword research to see what people were looking for in the search engines. If there are people searching to find out how to sell stuff on Ebay, I want to help them find out! What happened for me as I started to become more conscious of what people were searching for was that I started getting more search engine traffic – which of course leads to higher earnings from Adsense.

7. Add a Google search bar

This is a no-brainer. Google is the master of search, so you can bet that their search capability on your site is going to be better than the default Wordpress search tool. By installing this, you will help your visitors find the information that they are looking for on your site and make some extra cash in the process. When the search results (from the websites you choose) are displayed they have the standard Google ads present, just like normal Google search results.

8. Hook Google Analytics up with Adsense

A few months ago, Analytics started allowing the option to integrate your Adsense data. This has been so helpful for me. It provides webmasters with a wealth of information about earnings. It is simple to see which articles are making the most money, which keywords are yielding the most, what sites send the most valuable traffic, and a whole lot more. If you use Adsense, don’t pass this one up. When you log in to your account you should see this option.

9. Test, re-test, and test again…

When running Adsense tests, I typically let them run for a month in order to make sure they are very thorough. I have a calendar that I use to mark down when I make changes and what changes I make. Then when the test is complete I compare CPM and eCPM rates to see what performed better. A/B split testing is a better method when possible, but for certain tests is just isn’t possible or practical. But either way, if you want to make more money with Adsense, experimenting and testing is a must!

6 tools that have helped make it all possible…

Not all of these tools directly contribute to the bottom line, but each one of them have been very helpful over the last couple years.

  1. Google Analytics – which is a wonderful (and free) statistics tool that will help you keep track of your visitors and analyze a lot of data about them. As I mentioned before it now integrates with Adsense to give even more valuable data. When you go to, click on the SIGN IN link at the top right corner and you will see this tool, as well as other Google webmaster's tools.

  2. Google webmaster tools – This will help you see how Google views your blog. They will also let you know if there are any problems with it that you may not be aware of. For me I had some issues that were really hurting my search rankings, but I found out about them and fixed them and voila! All better.

  3. Google’s Keyword Tool – This is a great tool to get ideas about popular keywords as well.

  4. SEObook Keyword Tool – I use this to get a ballpark estimate of how many people are searching for particular key phrases.

  5. SocialPoster – This tool allows you to submit articles to multiple social sites. I use it to submit to about the top 5-10 social sites.

  6. Feedburner – If you have a blog, you will want to burn a feed. Feedburner makes this fun, organized, and easy…

Warnings for those starting out…

Don’t quit your day-job

Even if you know a lot about making money with a blog (which just be reading this article, you have a tremendous advantage over me when I started) it is going to take a while. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, it is more of a work-for-free-for-a-long-time-and-then-reap-your-reward type plan. The beautiful thing is that I can now say that it does work if you are diligent and open to learning from your mistakes. But either way, convention wisdom says, build your blog part-time and when you start making more from it than your day-job consider making it a full-time deal. My situation is a unique one and I don’t recommend doing what I did unless it really is God calling you to do so. In my case I am now thankful that I got laid off – if I hadn’t I would probably still be doing a job I didn’t like!

Learn everything you can

One of the advantages I have is that I love to learn and don’t stop when I make a mistake. I work really hard to learn from my mistakes and figure out what the better course of action would be for the next time. You are going to do things wrong, but you just have to keep going and keep learning. Learning how to use Google search is very important. If you do, you will be able to find an answer to just about every problem you encounter on the web.

Avoid time-wasters

Checking your stats every hour, reading 500 blogs in your RSS, playing on Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, or Youtube all day will kill your productivity. Focus on what yields results and stay disciplined to stick with that. Social media is an important part of building traffic, but you have to keep it in check.


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