With the free version of WordPress, you don’t really have that much freedom to make changes to your site. Plus, WordPress actually owns your site if you use the free version (meaning, your site is technically not even yours). With the free version of WordPress, your website link even looks unprofessional; instead of a .com ending, your site will look like “yourwebsite.wordpress.com”.
Create and customize your blog. If you are using a free service, there should be a tutorial to guide you through the initial steps of setting up your blog, as well as a forum for people to ask questions. If you are hosting your own site, you will need someone with web design experience to customize your blog, or you can use software such as WordPress.org to use the same structures available at free services.

One example is this: since our blog is a sub-domain for my wife and I’s boutique beach resort, nobody seems to want to touch me as a guest blogger. I get the same response every time “you’re commercial and so you’ve got to pay for a sponsored post”…and while yes, we are commercial and not a private blog per se, we’re a tiny family run business and 95% of private blogs are striving to be commercial, whether they’re associated with a company name or not.
Thank you so much for this helpful post! I have been researching how to make a successful blog for a month or so and have found many of your posts very helpful! It is my goal within the next year or so to have one up and running! I’m currently working more then full-time hours but live my job; just want more freetime. I think with some hard work I can make it possible.
I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this one. I was blown away that you don’t have ads on your site. I have ads on my site and I’m reading along thinking your advice is to forget the ads and sell products. As a food blogger, my mind goes to e-cookbooks, actual hold-in-your-hand cookbooks, books on how to start a food blog and how to do food photography. But according to this post, those I should sell later…the cheaper products. I can’t think of what “services” I could offer, other than offering to come over and cook for them (not happening) and I’m not quite an expert at offering services of personally coaching someone’s food blog. Maybe I’m just too green for that 🙂 Am I missing the point?
Disclosure and quick heads up – I started my first blog on Bluehost and have now partnered with them to get you a big discount rate. If you make a purchase through this or any of the links on this post I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I still think a self-hosted WordPress blog is the best way to start a successful blog and build a business!

Create and customize your blog. If you are using a free service, there should be a tutorial to guide you through the initial steps of setting up your blog, as well as a forum for people to ask questions. If you are hosting your own site, you will need someone with web design experience to customize your blog, or you can use software such as WordPress.org to use the same structures available at free services.
If you want to be famous or reach a wide audience, you will have to choose something slightly broader and work hard to make the best content for that topic. A subtopic relating to fitness, finance, or relationship advice is likely to reach the most people. Consider specific but broadly applicable topics such as managing money in college, or a marriage counseling blog.
Hi Jamie, the article is very helpful. I have a question though…I searched several niches on Google Trends. they all show between 75 to 100 searches. That makes it difficult for me to choose. I blog about many things within the lifestyle category. Do I really need to pick a niche? My goal is to be a social media influencer. I’m a practising artist though.

Thanks for the update, Jon. I’ve been blogging for over 11 years. In that time I’ve seen a LOT of changes. In fact, the number one change is change itself. What used to work (Google Adwords, keyword optimization) is actually a way to lose traffic now. I’ve seen eBooks come and go, as well as video marketing, podcasting, and social media marketing. The secret is they all work, for the right message, and the right person. The hard part is, to find the right message for your brand/personality takes a lot of hard work, a lot of experimentation, and months/years of time. Thanks for laying it on the line. Blogging can be a viable occupation, just don’t quit your day job until you’ve found what works for you.
I know many personal finance writers with blogs that track the financial mess they got themselves into. They don't have financial degrees, but they are doing very well for themselves and help many people with their experiences. Many times, readers just want to hear from you, follow a real person's journey, read about how a real person made it through a problem, and so on. This is a great example of why degrees are not always needed.
I went ahead and joined the Amazon affiliate program, but even though I get numerous clicks, there haven’t been any conversions, yet. Because of this, I might get dropped, but you can always re-apply later. I just don’t have enough traffic, yet. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have signed up for a program with time limits so soon. It feels like artificial pressure. I have three other affiliates; all of them relate to my blog content.

Digital products are another awesome way to make money with your blog. Rather than selling someone else’s product or service, you’re creating something of your own and selling it directly to your tribe. There are many options to choose from when it comes to digital products, but we’re going to look at what we’ve seen and consider to be the top three.
If you’re passionate about something, it will show in your content. Readers will be able to see your genuineness and will be attracted to that. This is probably the most important thing you will learn about blogging. You can try everything in the world and use every tool known to man to be successful, but if you’re not genuine, people will see right through it.
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