With all the personal websites out there featuring slick ads, sponsored articles, and endorsement opportunities, bloggers today must be making bank, right?
According to a ProBlogger survey, only 13 percent of bloggers make more than $1,000 a month from their blogs. On the flip side, 63 percent of bloggers make less than $100.
But there is a sweet spot in the middle – the 24 percent of bloggers who earn $100 to $999 a month. How much faster could money like that help you pay off your student loan?
How to start a blog the smart, cheap, and easy way
If you’d like to be one of the people who earn several hundred dollars a month through blogging so you can put that extra income towards student loan payments, keep reading to find out how.
A few key decisions
1. Choose your niche
What’s your area of expertise? What are you passionate about? What topic can you see yourself blogging about for years to come?
Once you have your list, do some research to find out what specific terms people on the web are searching for related to your chosen topic(s). This will ensure there’s an audience out there for you.
I recommend using the Keyword Planner from Google Adwords. Use the “Get search volume data and trends” option to search your topic (and related keywords) for average monthly searches and competition.
If the results aren’t what you hoped for, that’s not to say you need abandon a topic you love. If you’re an entertaining writer with a unique point of view, you can garner a following writing just about anything. Even so, keyword research is a good way to rule out ideas you could take or leave.
2. Choose your host
You need a web hosting company to house, serve, and maintain the files on your site. You have numerous options, but I recommend choosing from one of PC Magazine’s best-rated web hosting services. Just be sure you choose one with managed WordPress hosting.
There are free options, too, but that’s not the route you want to go if you’re looking to make money from your blog. Fortunately, using a web hosting service is not expensive. As you’ll see, GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator all have hosting plans under $4 a month.
3. Choose your domain
Maybe it’s your main keyword. Maybe it’s a word you made up. Maybe it’s your name. What’s most important is making sure the domain you choose is:
- Easy to spell
- Not too long
- Has a .com extension
You’ll likely be offered a free domain when you sign up for web hosting. Otherwise, domains are pretty cheap, running from $10 to $15 per year. I recommend signing up for automated renewal as well (I lost a domain because I forgot to renew and getting it back wasn’t easy).
Getting your blog set up
1. Install WordPress
Provided you’ve chosen a service with managed WordPress hosting (as you should), they’ll walk you through the simple installation process.
2. Choose your theme
Your theme is essentially an out-of-the-box design scheme. You can pay for premium themes, but exhaust your free options first. You can always upgrade to a premium theme later.
3. Install plugins
Plugins are add-ons that can help add special features and reporting to your blog. There are countless options, but start with the free basics. Once, you’re up and running, I recommend checking these out:
- Akismet (to protect your blog from spam)
- Google Analytics
- Yoast SEO
- Check and Enable GZIP Compression
- EWWW Image Optimizer
- If Modified Since Header
- WP Fastest Cache
- Simple share buttons adder
Don’t let any of the names of these plugins scare you. Find them, activate them, adjust Settings (if necessary), and you’re good to go. And should you activate a plugin you decide you don’t want, just deactivate and delete it.
A few blogging best practices
When you’re first learning how to start a blog, you don’t need any technical expertise. But it’s a good idea to learn what you can as you go. Explore your dashboard and use the free tutorials available to you through WordPress.org.
It’s also a good idea to follow these simple best practices of blogging so you can give your readers a clean, enjoyable reading experience:
Some may be on the long side (1,500+ words). Others may be on the short side (500 words or less). That said, you’ll see that your Yoast SEO plugin recommends a 300-word minimum.
In each post, include a couple of internal links to other posts or pages on your site. It’s also a good idea to sprinkle in external links to other blogs or websites, too.
Use short blocks of text, subheaders throughout, and a font style and size that’s easy to read.
The title of your blog post is the first thing readers will see. If it’s not intriguing, it will also be the last. Spend time on it.
Promote your blog
Build a presence, publish your posts, and share the posts of others. The social media platforms you choose to use depend on where your audience hangs out. You know the usual suspects – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.
Find other blogs in your niche, become a regular reader, and leave comments on their posts. It’s a great way to drive traffic to your site and develop relationships with other bloggers.
How to make money blogging
Ad networks, such as Google Adsense, are the easiest of the monetization options to set up. They can also be the most difficult to make much money from, as you need a lot of traffic for clicks on Google ads to add up.
Private display ads are another option, but selling them requires a healthy amount of traffic so that advertisers have good reason to pay you for the space.
This is most lucrative monetization option for a lot of bloggers. You just have to let readers know when a post contains affiliate links (meaning if the reader clicks through and buys the product, you get paid for it). If you go this route, the Amazon affiliate program is a good program to start with.
This is where a lot of bloggers say the big money lies, particularly e-courses for which you can charge hundreds of dollars to an unlimited number of people. Other product ideas include webinars, e-books, special content membership/subscriptions, books, and merchandise.
Once you start blogging on a topic, your readers see you as an expert in your niche. That means you may be able to charge for services like consulting, coaching, and speaking engagements.
You don’t necessarily need your blog to make a dime for it to lead to new income. It just might get you a job – blogging for another site or supplementing your resume for landing full-time work.
What does a successful blog look like?
Take a look at some of the income reports of various bloggers. You can see how many pageviews they’re getting, how much money they’re making, and where that money is coming from.
Bottom line: Yes, you could blog your way out of student loan debt. The odds are against you, but if you like blogging, love your topic, and do the work, anything is possible. You could make enough money blogging to pay off your student loans and even turn it into a new career.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|