How to start a blog and online business in 2021? Starting an online business has been something that has appealed to many individuals for years. From starting an e-commerce brand to promoting affiliate offers via media buys, there are many different ways to generate income online.

Blogging has been a very consistent opportunity over the years, and with so much attention available online and ways to attract that attention — like SEO and social media — it’s one of the online businesses that you can start with very little upfront costs.

If you have the time and desire, you can start a blog, but understand that because the barrier of entry is low that means the competition is fierce. Everyone and their brother wants to be a blogger and live that laptop lifestyle you see online gurus promoting on social media.

It’s not easy — at all. It will require a lot of time and energy with little to no financial return for quite some time. Some of the most successful blogs ran for years before their traffic and engagement snowballed to the point it became a real business.

As we begin to dive deeper into another year, many people begin to search for opportunities to make money online. Blogging is one of them, and if it’s something you are willing to grind it out for, you can follow these tips below for the best chance of success.

These tips will show you how to start a blog and start earning money..


Select a Niche Your Are Familiar and Passionate About (with a Large Audience)

When you look at the most successful blogs you will notice that they are very niche specific. You have to pick a topic that you have an interest in as well as something you are knowledgeable about. This comes into play when you have to write content nonstop. If the topic isn’t “fun” for you, it’s going to be difficult to crank out post after post, especially in the beginning when there isn’t any revenue coming in.

Also, you need to be able to have a grasp on the topic enough that you know what your readers will be interested in, while also being able to put your own spin and thoughts into the content to get them coming back.

You also need to pick a topic that has a large following while also not being too broad that it puts you up against competition that you will never be able to compete with. For example, you might love baseball. A general MLB blog is going to be difficult to grow, but a more focused blog about a specific team, like the Pittsburgh Pirates, is something that has a large enough audience while not pitting you against huge media conglomerates.



Create a Brandable Blog Name (Domain + Socials)

While your content plays a major role in keeping readers coming back for more and signing up for your newsletter, they are going to initially be drawn to your blog because of its name and its branding.

Let’s assume you love fishing and want to start a blog about bass fishing in southern Florida. Something like “Joe’s Bash Fishing Blog” is generic, whereas something like “Bassin” is short and memorable. Now, if by chance was available as was @bassin on all social media platforms this would be a great find.

You need to think long-term if you have intentions of building an online business. The name is very important because all of your SEO work will be for nothing if you end up changing your domain name down the line.

Spend the time to do it right in the beginning, this is a key step in learning how to start a blog. Don’t worry so much about the logo or blog design — that can always be changed and improved upon. Your domain name and social handles are much more difficult to change down the line.


Set Up Hosting and Install WordPress

In the beginning, you want to cut costs as much as possible, so sign up for low-cost shared website hosting. For a few dollars a month you can set up reliable hosting that will do everything you need.

If you want to save money, sign up with one of the big hosting and domain registrar companies, like GoDaddy, and take advantage of their combo packages. For example, GoDaddy has a WordPress hosting package that is less than $100 per year and they will also give you a free domain, a free SSL certificate, and free email.

This is an incredible value and when you start with a hosting environment already configured for WordPress it will result in better performance. They also have a one-click WordPress installation tool, allowing you to get your blog started with absolutely zero technical knowledge required.

When your blog grows and its revenue allows for it, you will want to migrate your website to a dedicated server. More space will give you your own server to scale on and you won’t have to worry about downtime caused by other websites residing on the same server. In the beginning, though, go for the annual GoDaddy plan — the freebies are well worth it.



Customize Your Blog’s Design and Layout

It’s all good knowing how to start a blog but you’re going to want a visually appealing blog too, and many people think that a great design alone will help their blog grow when in fact it has nothing to do with it — your content is what will trigger shares and repeat visitors.

Yes, a nice design is important, but when you are just starting don’t spend the money on a custom WordPress theme. The design and development costs can range anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 or more depending on what design elements and features you want.

There are plenty of free themes you can start with, or if you want a theme with more customizable options and features you can visit a marketplace like ThemeForest and find plenty of options that are between $50 and $80.

You can get a logo done on Fiverr or Upwork, from anywhere between $5 and $20, and that along with some customizing will give you a clean design that provides you with a great design to start blogging on.

Focus on usability and making it easy for visitors to read your blog posts, share them on social media, and join your email list — on all devices and screen sizes. The average consumer care more about user experience than the actual design.


Research Blog Topics Based on Interest and Keyword Potential

Successful blogs usually see their first viral moment or traffic spike when they publish an article that receives a lot of organic exposure and becomes introduced to a new massive audience in a short time.

This will often happen when a blog gets the jump on a hot topic or publishes a post that features a topic that suddenly becomes a popular search topic. Google can be the key to building a large audience, and when you plan your blog posts based on interest levels and also work keyword strategy into play you will see your organic traffic numbers grow quickly.

If your blog is based on a topic you are highly familiar with then knowing what topics are currently “hot” shouldn’t be a problem. You then need to research keywords and work terms with low competition and decent monthly search volume into the titles — and other on-page optimization elements, which I will touch on next.


Learn Basic On-Site Optimization

Creating blog posts around highly searched keywords and search queries is great, but only if your posts are fully optimized for Google. There are several on-site optimization elements that you need to address before hitting the “publish” button on each blog article.

I highly recommend you install the Yoast SEO plugin on your blog, as it will help you understand what to optimize each post for — it acts as a checklist and it’s a great way to learn these SEO fundamentals. Some main on-site optimization elements:


  • Post Title: Your main keyword should be included in your title naturally and as close to the beginning as possible.


  • URL: If you can make your post URL ( your keyword, do so.


  • Meta Description: While your meta description doesn’t directly help your posts rank, it does pull attention to your article in the search results. A high click-through rate will help it move up, so it’s important to write attention-grabbing descriptions.


  • Keyword Density: You need to include your keyword several times throughout the article, while also using multiple similar terms and long-tail variations. This helps Google understand what the article is about.


  • Headings: Using your keyword and variants of the term in H2 and H3 tag tells Google that it’s an important part of the article, again helping it understand what the article is about and what search terms it should be displayed for.


  • Alt-Image Tag: Google isn’t able to “read” images — yet — so it uses the information contained in the alt-image tag to determine what the images are about. Write descriptive tags that incorporate your keyword.


  • Interlinking: Linking to other articles on your blog helps to keep your readers engaged and moving onto more content rather than leaving your blog. It also passes authority throughout your blog, which helps all of your articles make gains in the search results.


  • Authority Outbound Links: Linking out to relevant authority articles and resources helps to show Google what other blogs and websites it should compare yours to and also what type of content your blog publishes. Don’t be afraid to link out to other blogs. As a rule of thumb, only link out to sites you would love to receive a link back from.


  • Post Length: Google’s algorithm loves long-form content. Studies have shown that the top results in the SERPs are dominated by content that is north of 1,500 words. Take the SEO and online marketing industry for example — the blog posts for the most competitive keywords are all long-form massive resources.


Again, these are just the basics, but you need to have a solid foundation if you want to rank in Google’s search results. Imagine if simply taking the time to optimize your posts helped you pull in an extra 100 visitors per post each month? It may not seem significant at first, but when you multiply that by the number of articles on your blog you see how much of an impact this can make on your traffic volume.



Focus on Growth and Study Your Analytics Data

I see too many people worry about creating advertising rate cards and trying to sell banners, but you need to focus on growth, especially in the early stages. Trust me, once your traffic is consistently high you will find that many advertisers will reach out directly and find you.

If you build it (successfully) they will come. Take the time to learn Google Analytics inside and out. This is the best data you can get your hands on, as it shows you where your traffic came from, what it did while on your blog, what content is read the most, and what content has the least interaction.

When you deep-dive into your traffic data you can identify where your best traffic is coming from, and scale up the efforts to bring in even more, while also pulling back efforts from the strategies that are producing the weakest results.


Think Long-Term Monetization Once Your Blog is a Real Business (Google AdSense and Amazon Associates First)

The monetization opportunities will present themselves when the time is right, but there are a couple of basic options you can roll out as soon as your traffic numbers are consistent. Google AdSense allows you to place ad units in different sections of your blog and you are paid each time they are clicked as well as on an impression basis.

You want to place them in a way to makes them less intrusive as many people despise banner ads. Don’t place them in the standard sidebars and header — be different. Find ways to incorporate them into your content to make them less of an eyesore.

Amazon Associates is an affiliate program that can create a steady source of revenue for your blog simply because such a large percentage of consumers buy on Amazon. You can incorporate product-specific links in your content but one of the most effective strategies is to create a “support the blog” page and leave your Amazon link there, asking readers to click on it and use it the next time they buy on Amazon.

This is a transparent way of letting them know it’s an affiliate link and that any purchases made using it are appreciated and go towards helping the blog. Far more readers will honor this request than clicking on random affiliate links scattered throughout the content.

Once your blog is full-time and you know its traffic is stable you can then think big and consider developing your own products or services, depending on what niche you are in.



It’s important to understand just how much work and effort are required to grow a blog into a real business, and one that can replace a traditional 9-to-five income. Is it possible? Yes, and there are plenty of success stories out there; individuals that started a blog and created an online resource that built up a loyal following and turned that into a business.

The majority of blogs are started by people filled with enthusiasm and large goals, but they quickly realize that it’s not something that happens overnight — it can take years of hard work before the income generated is substantial, let alone a living wage.

I think it’s very important to paint a very transparent picture. The tips I outlined above can help you create an online business that generates money, but only after a lot of work and long hours have been poured in. Most people will say they are willing to work hard, but when it comes down to it the reward doesn’t come fast enough.

There will always be an opportunity to start a successful blog in any niche, provided there is enough interest to support its growth. When you combine the desire to build an online business with expertise on a particular subject and a never give up work ethic, you can position yourself as one of the successful bloggers that earn a living online.

So, now you know how to start a blog, are you going to start a blog this year? If so, what niche are you thinking about? Let me know in the comments below.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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