Start a Profitable Blog and Have More Time for Hobbies

working on a laptop in bed with a cup of coffee

It’s no secret that the world changed for just about everyone in March 2020. For me, I was fed up working corporate jobs only to find myself doing email support for minimal pay. It was life-draining. Soul-sucking. Dream-crushing—you get the idea.

When March came around, I knew that I had to do something new. To build something. To create value in this world instead of simply just consuming it. I had this crazy idea to start homesteading, and eventually—help others homestead as well.

At this point, I had been blogging unsuccessfully for a year. I tried several sites and niches, and I had zero page views to show for it. But I knew I was close to “cracking the code”. There just had to be a formula somewhere out there. And just a few months later, I found one.

How I Make a Full-Time Income Blogging

screenshot of ad earnings
Ad earnings from January 1, 2021 to Mid-May, 2021

When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. I made all the mistakes (I still do), but over time you learn and you slowly build something.

In fact, blogging isn’t much different than building a house. You start with the foundation, add the frame, the insulation, the wiring, and so on. The following is the blueprint for how I built my blog.

  1. Idea
  2. Read Books
  3. Take Courses
  4. Practice/Write
  5. Refine

In March 2020, I had my idea for my site, but I had no working knowledge of how to put it together. So, I read books, took SEO courses from UC Davis, and learned from forums and anything else that had nuggets of knowledge, however small.

After a couple of months, I felt more confident writing and building the site. However, this is where I encountered the two biggest mistakes to make in blogging. It doesn’t matter how much practice and refining I did, these mistakes would have held me back indefinitely. The good news is that if you can get past these, you can get past anything.

The Two Biggest Mistakes New Bloggers Make

1. Overcomplicating Blogging

I was so focused on appearance that I was spending 80% of the time on it and only 20% of the time working on content. Little did I know that it was just the opposite.

If you’re into astrology, you likely already know my Virgo tendencies. I’m still not sure about the accuracy of it all, but man, sometimes it’s so spot on that it’s scary!

Apparently, I have a tendency to overthink, overcomplicate, and over-stress about most things. And is this SO true!

When I first started blogging, I spent MONTHS on my site’s appearance. And I’m not talking about two months, I mean like 7-8 months!

I went through multiple sites worth of themes, logos, custom pages, and more. You name it, I did it. And while I learned a lot, I later found out that appearance doesn’t bring traffic. I was so focused on appearance that I was spending 80% of the time on it and only 20% of the time working on content. Little did I know that it was just the opposite.

2. Writing What You Want to Write About

Instead of helping people and solving problems, I was writing like I had something to get off my chest.

The second mistake was just as deadly to my site. Instead of helping people and solving problems, I was writing like I had something to get off my chest. If you know someone who only talks about what they want to talk about, you know it can usually be a turn-off.

In the beginning, I did little to no research and would treat the blog like my personal journal—a place where I can vent. It’s no wonder I only got a few views (and they were probably from myself).

The days of lifestyle blogs are just about gone. While there are some exceptions, the majority of blogging has simply turned into a place to exchange information. You might have noticed that almost no one follows blogs anymore. You simply Google a question, read part of a post until you find the answer, and then leave the site (usually for forever).

To illustrate this, here are the most recent searches I’ve done:

  • How many scoops of coffee should I use?
  • When should I get my tires rotated?
  • How to stop my dog from humping toys

When searching these, I didn’t want to hear about why the author likes coffee, I just wanted to know how many scoops I need to use. I didn’t want to see the cutest puppy photos (sometimes I cave), I just wanted to know how to stop Banjo from humping his stuffed animals and making our guests feel uncomfortable.

While it is possible to still build lifestyle blogs today, the overall direction of the Internet (and its consumers) has moved to a quick exchange of information. You have a question. I have the answer. Nice to meet you.

So, if you’ve been treating your blog like a journal entry, and you’re not seeing any traction, consider switching your mindset to providing answers to common problems.

Tools to Get Started

Regardless of your tech-savviness, I’d like to provide you with all of the essential technical components of blogging. If we’re still using the house analogy, think of these as the tools and materials you need to build your house.

I’ve done technical support for several large companies, so I had a bit of existing technical knowledge coming into blogging. My goal is to present it in a way that’s helpful to you so you can set it up once and simply move on to creating content. And you can have everything you need to set up your blog for under $100.

1. Register Your Domain

Once you have your idea for your site, you’ll need a domain (also called a website address). Mine is couchtohomestead.com.

There are many domain providers that you can register your site with and they typically cost $10-12 per year.

I prefer Google Domains since they’re affordable and have domain privacy included, but a simple search will show you many marketplaces where you can buy your domain.

Pro-tip: Try to get your domain registered from someone other than your host. If you need to move hosting providers at any point, things can get a little awkward if they’re still holding onto your domain.

For example, for any new sites that I’m making, I use Google Domains to register my domain and Bluehost as my hosting provider.

2. Get a Hosting Plan

Once you have your domain registered, you’ll need hosting. Hosting is when you pay a company with computer servers to keep your site live 24/7 for you. Essentially, this is just like paying rent, except it’s a digital space for a website. While you can build your own server, it’s typically easier to outsource this.

For new sites, I use Bluehost since they’re affordable and reliable. I started Couch to Homestead with them and their service and support were good. The biggest downside to these starter plans is that you usually share server space with other websites (just like roommates), but this is only a concern if you have a large volume of traffic. For beginner sites, the basic Bluehost plan is a great place to start.

For more established sites, I recommend BigScoots. The Couch to Homestead site is currently hosted with them, and they’ve really rolled out the red carpet. They have a dedicated server (no roommates), so your site has room to grow from a medium to large size nicely. While Bluehost also has an option for a dedicated server, I prefer using BigScoots. Their support generally responds in a few minutes and they also do your site’s migration if you ever need to switch to them.

The only downside with BigScoots is that because of the dedicated server and support, their price is higher than most other hosting providers. However, they have a monthly plan, so you aren’t locked into an annual plan if you decide to change hosts later on (you can switch your host at any time, but you can’t always get a refund for the paid time).

3. Use a CMS

A CMS, or Content Management System, is simply the place where you update your website and blog posts. This is where you get a theme (or template) for your site, add photos, and publish your blog posts. The most common CMS for blogs and sites out there is WordPress.

Pro-tip: There’s a difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. WordPress.com is a paid hosting provider while wordpress.org is a free CMS. Most bloggers build their sites using wordpress.org.

I started with wordpress.com and paid $400 to host my first site. Big mistake.

Once you have your domain and hosting, your hosting provider should be able to help set up WordPress (the free one) for your site.

4. The Course to Learn to Do It All

photo of Jim on the Income School website
Image source: incomeschool.com

A year ago, I was reading a book where the author interviewed bloggers who were making 6-figures or more. When asked how new bloggers can succeed, one of the interviewees said to invest in a course that’s made by someone who already walked your path. They said, “Think of it like getting a mentor”.

I remember this stuck with me, and at the time, I was watching a YouTube channel from a couple of normal guys who blogged for a living, and I saw they had a course. I decided to test this advice and I quickly found out it was the best advice I could have gotten. Within several months of taking their course, I started to see results that would set my site on an upward trend for the foreseeable future.

The course is called Project 24. It’s named that because it’s designed to get your brand new site to full-time income within 24 months.

The creators, Jim and Ricky, are two down-to-earth guys who, after much trial and error, made a repeatable formula to succeed in blogging. Of course, like any business, blogging requires proper research, effort, and patience. While there’s no guarantee of success, there are people in the P24 community hitting new income milestones all the time and all around the world.

Project 24 also comes with a WordPress theme (the same theme that Couch to Homestead uses), along with constantly updated course material, and access to a helpful community that can help answer just about any question you have.

What sold me on the course is Jim saying, “Even if this only got you to success one WEEK sooner, your investment will have paid off.”, and man, I found this to be spot on. The investment I made on this course paid for itself (and more) after just a few months.

Whether you’re ready to start your first ever site, or if you’re looking to earn more traffic and income for your current site, Project 24 is one of the best resources out there.

Final Thoughts

Blogging is a business. Because of this, it can be hard and complicated. But like most businesses, the potential is truly amazing. Many online businesses come with virtually no cap on income and provide the freedom to create your own work schedule (my favorite part).

With about an hour a day, you can build passive income that’s real. While your site can take 1 or more years to grow before you see results, think about how a side or full-time income from blogging could benefit you. Who knows—you could have an extra income stream by your next birthday!

Recommended Reads

Over the years that I’ve blogged, I’ve read the following books, and I highly recommend them for any blogger—no matter their experience level or stage in their journey.