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How To Start A Blog With A $0 Budget

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

how to start a blog when you have no budget


What is blogging?



The term was actually coined by Jorn Barger back in December 1997, however, it had pretty much existed in 1993 as well without the name that it has now. It has come a long way though since the late '90s.

For me, blogging is a form of expression, you can blog to tell the world more about you, spread knowledge and awareness, and anything that you like. Your blog is a little bit of you, for the world wide web.


Why should you consider blogging?



Apart from the fact that blogging can help you earn a serious income online, which could rival a full-time job, heck, even more, it's really fun! Yes, I said it's fun. I find it so relaxing, and it is actually how I first got started online in 2015.

If you're a personal blogger, you can be using your blog as a journal to help others get a sneak peek into your life, or a blogger sharing recipes and helping people eat good food, the idea is that you are contributing to something good, something that will help other people.

Bottom line is — If you have any kind of knowledge to give, or you want to showcase your work online, you should consider blogging.


Blogging has also been an escape for a lot of people, people that want to quit their jobs because they don't like them or have horrible bosses. Women that want to stay at home and raise kids, because as I mentioned before, blogging can help you achieve that. You can make money doing what you love!


Can you actually earn from blogging?


In all honesty, yes, you can. Is it easy money? No, it's not. But yes, blogging CAN make you rich, just like any other profession, but you NEED to work hard. Be determined, consistent and have a big bag full of patience and then a hundred bags more.

It won't come easy, because if it were easy everyone would be doing it, and yes almost everyone is, they just aren't earning an income from it, yet.

How you decide to make money from your blog is up to you, but I highly suggest not selling your soul for it, like a lot of people do which treat blogging not as a passion but as a business that will earn them loads of money. Don't recommend things without actually trying them, don't write good things about a product if you don't like it. Be nice and actually help people.


Is blogging for me?


Good question — I don't know! Yes, I don't know. And this is something I tell people in Facebook groups, through e-mails, social media, and my clients, and members of my site (you too can sign-up to be a member, it's free! The link to which is in the menu section of the blog)... all the time.

Blogging is just one of those things that really depends on you, some people fall in love with it (me), some like it enough to do it as a hobby, some just never quite understand the point behind it and some just HATE it.

You're really going to have to find this out for yourself, you know, the kind of a relationship you develop with blogging.


should you blog on a free blogging platform?



1. So you want to start a Blog?


Supposedly, you decided you want to be a blogger, that's why you're reading this, aren't you? 😬

Here's the most valuable piece of advice I have for you, as a new blogger. Don't invest too much into blogging just yet, and before any of the blogging pros decide to start throwing rocks at me, let me explain why:

You're a new blogger, you don't even know if you'll like doing it, and a couple hundred dollars later, it could all be a huge waste of those couple hundred dollars you invested early on.

It is OKAY to not invest a single dollar on your blog before you decide it's something you ACTUALLY want to do,

And even then, it's absolutely okay to not want to pay a single penny for keeping your blog online when you aren't even making anything off of it yet.

No matter what anyone else tells you, you own everything you create. Unless you have signed up for a service that says anything you create on their platform is theirs — your content is your own.

Don't feel that guilt, the one that tells you that you're being cheap if you're not investing in your blog right now.

It is POSSIBLE to blog, day after day, even if you don't have a budget, at all. Yup, $0 is what I mean.

Now, why is this advice so valuable?

Because not listening to this advice is why MOST bloggers FAIL.


2. Why do bloggers fail?


Here's what I think, since blogging is anything but instant gratification, so many of us fail at it. Humans are hard-wired to want instant gratification. This is why most people fail at blogging. Especially, if they dive into it thinking they can make back all the money in a month or two.


Blogging doesn't work like that. You need to have consistency, patience and time to put into it for it to start bringing in results. I have started and closed down many blogs, some were successful, somewhere not (thankfully I earned from each one of them, but that's a story for another time). Some, I only maintain as a hobby with no real motivation to monetise them.

I know you want it to work, but with blogging the only thing that you can expect is to not become a star blogger making $5000 or more per month following your first month blogging.

Start small, and keep working hard.

Back to the topic at hand, bloggers fail because they invest too much financially and then they are unable to sustain themselves for more than a year.

Chances are this is your story:

You heard from someone, or searched on the internet or got the idea in your dream, the bottom line is everyone just seemed to be making a point. You can make money online by blogging. And if anyone can, you can too, right?

After enough "rosy searches" (Internet searches that focus on only the good side of the thing being searched) you are confident that you need to start a self-hosted WordPress blog if you want to be successful as a blogger.

And the funny thing is, you don't know what a domain is, what self-hosted means, and any other blogging linguistics. You just know you need to start something called a self-hosted blog and that's it.

Then, you start a blog and when it isn't even supporting its cost a year later, you are frustrated, tired, and you just start feeling that it will never work. And then you decide, you're not going to pay for it another year, and you close your blog or are about to close your blog.

I know a LOT of people who have been through this and don't have a blog anymore, some even started the same time I did. But the only thing I did differently was that I dared to be different.

I started a blog for FREE. I didn't pay for it for two years and when things finally started picking up pace, I carefully weighed my options (I tested different blogging platforms for an entire year). And chose a website building platform that was right for me.

Had I not shifted my focus from being just a blogger to a freelancer (I was studying Graphic Design and wanted to pursue it as my career, also a story for another time) I would have stayed on my free platform forever (Blogger).

Update June 2019: I am back on blogger. I will write a post on why I made this decision later.

But, hold on a second, you've been reading about bloggers making so much money in just their first month, why would you not make that much or something similar in your first month?

The chances of that are quite slim unless you know what you are doing, and have a proper strategy in place, also, I'm willing to bet that those bloggers are anything but beginners. They know what they are doing, and they have been around for a while.


That blogger you read about who made $500 or more in their first month of blogging? Well yes, but you probably don't know how many blogs they have had before that and what they've learned from each one of them.

Behind-the-scenes it could be a seasoned blogger that has just decided that they will shut down their other blogs and start a new one which currently resonates with them more.


Because once you've learned:

TIP : The secret of a successful blog, which is, consistency, patience, hard work and perseverance.


It becomes repeatable, and you can make blogs after blogs using this same formula.


3. Why is it a good thing to start with no budget?


Obviously, for all the reasons mentioned above but also because when you're not investing any money you can take your time to test waters. Maybe you only have an hour a day, with no financial commitments and not having to worry how you're going to pay for the next year you can easily focus on what matters: your blog.

4. How to start a blog with a budget of $0?


There are a lot of free platforms available that help you start a blog. You can start anywhere. But keeping in mind a few things will really help you get started in the right direction.

Questions to ask yourself before you decide on a free blogging platform:

  • Do you have a Laptop/PC or are you going to use your mobile to start your blog?
  • Is your blogging platform easy to use?
  • Does your blogging platform have an easy way to insert no-follow links?
  • Is your blogging platform compatible with third-party solutions?
  • Is your blogging platform reliable and backed by a reputed company?


Why ask these questions?


Do you have a Laptop/PC or are you going to use your mobile to start your blog?


Obviously, if you have a very old PC or one that barely works you won't be able to use it in that case, a lot of bloggers prefer to blog from their smartphones. This is actually a viable option. But the blogging platform you choose should have an app that is fully functional on your mobile, not just some parts of it.


Is your blogging platform easy to use?


If you're just starting with blogging an easy to use interface will give you little to no headache finding your way around.


Does your blogging platform have an easy way to insert no-follow links?


This is very important from the perspective of monetising your blog, if you don't have the ability to no-follow blog posts in the platform of your choice, it will severely lessen your ability to earn from your blog (Read: Why You Need A Blogging Platform That Allows You To No-Follow Links).


Is your blogging platform compatible with third-party solutions?


You should always opt for a blogging platform that can easily adapt to other solutions, as you grow in your blogging journey it's possible that you'll start selling your own products, courses etc. for that purpose you'll want a blogging platform that can scale with you and either integrate directly with a third-party solution or give you the flexibility to integrate things on your own.


Is your blogging platform reliable and backed by a reputed company?


There are tons and tons of blogging platforms. Blogging is an industry with an amazing growth rate, a lot of companies start and jump into the industry only to declare bankruptcy sometime later and then you have to move from your current blog hosting platform (blogging platform) to another. This is why sticking with reputable ones that have been in the game for long is great and a smart choice.


Some reputable blogging platforms which also happen to be free or have a free plan are Blogger (completely free - no mobile apps though), Wix (offers a free plan; with Wix ads displayed on the free plan - mobile app available), and WordPress (offers a free plan - mobile app available.).


I know these companies to not be closing down in the foreseeable future. These are reputable companies. And they each are very strong contenders as they come out strong when the five questions I mentioned are asked.


5. Where to source images from when you have no budget?


I don't think I've read any blog that is worth reading that didn't have a single image in it. Humans are visual and when they are reading text it is just nice to break it up with some images to keep your reader interested.


The question is, where can you get images that you can use legally and commercially) on your blog? I mention commercially because if anything is making you money directly or indirectly, that use is called "commercial" use. Since we have a budget of $0, obviously we are going to need free images that we can use commercially.

Google is NOT a good place to look for images like those. So resist.

Here are a few places where you CAN get free images from without the hassle of worrying about lawsuits later.


These are some genuine and quality free stock photos websites. Which offer free stock photos. The latter three have the option to get free styled stock photos by either signing-up to receive newsletters or subscribing to the free membership.

For free stock photos from Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash I'd advise you to take a screenshot before you download any image so that if for any reason you have to prove that you acquired the image lawfully, you can do so. Or at least stand a chance in court.


I know of some incidents where people downloaded an image from a site like that offers free stock photos and then they were sued and couldn't prove their innocence.


To be on the safe side of things it is best to buy stock photos, however, since for the purpose of this blog post as our budget is $0 yo should stick to maintaining a folder of screenshots that proves you got the image legally and your intentions were pure.


6. Writing error-free content


Grammar mistakes are not cute. Neither are typos. And unfortunately, unless you're writing locally you will be expected to write in English and that too like a pro. Unless you have a multi-lingual site where people can choose which language they want to read in. So how do you avoid this from going public → "I am a blogger but my content is barely readable because I don't know how to write well in English."?


The answer is, you use a premium grammar and spell-checking software. Now most of them that are of any decent quality are paid. However, we don't have a budget for that. So we are going to use Grammarly.


Grammarly is amazing! I've used it on sites that I make for myself and the ones that I've done for clients (I have a premium version) but I've used the free one and it's really good.


The good thing is once you install the Grammarly extension and the app and they run everywhere, meaning no more typo filled e-mails, content drafts, social media posts etc. And they have a Grammarly keyboard (for mobile phones) as well so you can use it even when you're on the go.

7. Monetising Your Blog


Now I know you're starting a blog with $0 as a budget but you don't want it to stay that way, do you? Of course not! You want to be able to earn from your blog so that you can continue to re-invest in it and make it into a full-fledged income source.


Now if you're not monetising your blog you're not going to have any income and since you're only just starting out I DON'T recommend getting into advanced monetising techniques because you can't start running before you learn to walk.


Also, you're better off without the overwhelm at first. One baby step at a time will save you from months worth of burnout. Trust me.

Affiliate Marketing


As a new blogger, you don't have strong stats to join a lot of affiliate programs but thankfully Viglink is a high-quality automated affiliate program that will save you tons of time and help you earn money from your blog.


The reason I mention this platform over others is that I have used it, it's high-quality and a breeze to work with. They also have a feature called VigLink Insert which automatically inserts affiliate links so you don't have to put in the time to do so manually saving you a LOT of time and energy and the hassle of manually linking if affiliate marketing is not something you want to spend too much time on.

I get it, some people just want to share their content and not go through the hassles.

Their merchant selection is amazing so revenue is guaranteed even if you write about something locally or internationally.

Viglink will do good for international traffic. However, if the majority of traffic that you have is Indian traffic then try Cuelinks. It is the best alternative to Viglink if your traffic is from India.


Cuelinks has partnered with most Indian brands and online businesses and brings you a wide selection to choose from, much like Viglink.

Can you use Viglink as an Indian blogger?


Yes, you can. Viglink automatically converts most links (if applicable) into geo-optimised links. Meaning, based on the area of your reader's location, the link shown to the reader will be automatically optimised.

Advertising


Another effective way of monetising a new blog is advertising. It is worth mentioning though that it is quite the task to get into advertising when you are starting out and are really new.


Most advertising companies have very specific requirements. I suggest trying Adsense at first, and later when your blog traffic grows, consider shifting to some other network such as Mediavine and AdThrive etc.

I have mentioned some of the best paying advertisers here, but it is important to take not of the fact that too much advertising is bad for your user experience.


As a web designer who deeply cares about user experience, I do not like aggressive advertising. Having more ads placed on a website than the content available is just a spammy practice that will get you no-where. I recommend a maximum of three ads per page, and no more to avoid ruining the user experience.


If your audience sees something they are really interested in, they will click and follow through to that page. It's simple.


Aggressive advertisement will only harm the growth of your blog.


Writing Sponsored Posts


This is something most bloggers dream to do.

Why?

Because it is probably the most highest-paying method of monetising a blog. This is where brands and business give you a free service/product etc. along with paying you a fee to review and/or promote their product and/or service.


Now, this is also very hard to achieve because for brands to trust you as an influencer, you need a good amount of targeted traffic, have a good amount of followers and be recognised as an authority in your respective field.


This is also something I would advise you only try and make money off of when you have established your authority. Don't try and do it sooner because then brands will either not pay you to review their product and just offer you the product for free or will not collaborate with you at all.


You don't want to not get paid for your hard work and all that free advertising and promoting you are doing for that brand. That is bad for you because it's not helping you advance your goal of being a full-time blogger, but you probably already know that, right?


Think about it, you accept a sponsored post for a free product and write about it and don't get paid for it. That is unlimited free advertising for the company, they didn't pay you anything for that post and it's going to sit on your blog, forever and you will be driving traffic and probably even sales to that company lifelong.


I don't think that would be in your best interest as a blogger, ever.


Selling Your Own Products/Services


Once you have established yourself as an authority on what you write about, you should definitely consider selling your products/goods and/or services on your blog.


The reason that so many bloggers are able to earn a decent or a good amount of money doing this is that you don't just earn a "cut" or "commission" out of someone else's sale but all that money goes straight to your bank. You're not the middleman here, you're the boss.


A word of advice here is that you don't want to sell to crickets, which is what you will be doing if you sell without even building an audience interested in buying your services or products. It's not because I don't want you to find success sooner but because you're more likely to have sales when you already have an audience built up and ready to buy.


Ideally, this should be the last stage of blog monetisation, where you have enough audience built up that you are selling your products to them, this will increase your profit and help you make more money as a blogger.


Conclusion


By now you've probably understood that you can and should start a blog for free if you are considering blogging as a career, or a way to finally leave that 9-5.


You've also learnt that the content you create is yours, even on a free platform and it is possible to monetise a free blog as well.


And most importantly, I hope you know that a free blogging option isn't bad at all, in fact, it is a smart choice especially if you are just starting out.

The platforms mentioned in this blog posts are all scaleable. You could grow into a business and not have to switch to any other platform.

Have some questions? Let me know in the comments down below and I'll be super happy to reply and help you out. Remember, I want YOU to succeed, so if there is something that's bothering you and you feel like advice is what you need, do not hesitate to leave a comment below!

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