When you have nothing to invest, literally $0, what kind of business can you start? Can you grow from $0 to $1,000 with blogging?
Spencer Haws says it might take 4 months to start earning and up to 10 months to earn $1,000 from your site. And I haven’t been known for sticking to things.
In this article and video, I’ll look at how you can start blogging without any money to invest and grow it over a couple of months like I did last year with two case study sites.
When I first got the idea for starting a website, I just became a father but saw all of the costs involved with starting, and I didn’t really have any savings to invest.
For me, it was about traveling. I realized this when my wife was pregnant, and for those 9 months, I kept asking myself, can I blog without money? But I benched the idea.
After another 9 months of putting it off, it was around the Christmas holiday and my wife was still nursing our son Elliot a lot. So I finally had the time to look into it.
What do you need to start blogging?
There was still one thing to overcome, the budget needed to start. So I decided to look more into it.
- Well, you need a logo made
- You need paid research tools to find out what you should write about. We call these keyword tools and there are a bunch of them eager to get your money
- And you need to buy a course to learn how to do it
- Oh, and my favorite. You have to buy expensive links to your site because otherwise, Google won’t reward your content just for being great (spoiler alert: they will)
Do I need all of those things?
Do I need a logo?
I just used a cool font and put that up at the top of the site.
Do I need a course to tell me what to do?
Well, I’m just going to write and see what happens.
Do I need to pay a lot for links to my site? Well, there are mixed opinions on this anyway so I’ll just won’t do them and see what happens.
I decided then and there to put everything I heard about blogging aside and just start doing it and see where it would take me.
I’m so glad I started my blogging journey and did all this without investing in the beginning. It’s a big leap of faith, I know, but let’s decode what’s actually necessary to get started blogging.
The steps are pretty easy:
- don’t delay starting your blog,
- just start writing and don’t think too much about it at first,
- write about the right things
- Have fun doing it
What to blog about
Creating a blog, or niche site as we call it, is to build a website around a particular interest. You probably already know this, but don’t fall into the trap of blogging about your life, nobody is interested.
But a cool hobby or even an interest that you might want to pick up, there are loads of people searching for how to get into that hobby, just like you once were a beginner.
Did you pick your hobby yet? Go on; I’ll wait. It should be something you’re passionate about, at least that’s what most will tell you.
I’m a pretty grounded guy so I have never felt what I often hear about passion.
I just have stuff I’m really really interested in and would love to learn more about, like playing the guitar.
Or coding, or creating blogging dashboards with other free tools for people to use for free when they sign-up for my email list.
That’s fine too, but remember, you’re going to spend a lot of time researching and writing about your passion or interest.
It’s like the enchanting pets in harry potter, you better pick wisely or you’ll be stuck with Trevor the toad instead of something cool like the owl.
When you know your hobby, the rest is easy because what people are searching for isn’t a mystery, luckily, and you don’t need any paid tool.
Google already shows us what people are searching for and what possible questions they have.
Let’s take playing the guitar, which I have a site on. Within that hobby, there are thousands of things to cover, so you also first need to pick one, well subtopic if you will.
A Stratocaster is a type of guitar I’m really into, so that’s the first thing I’ll write about for my blog.
Google shows what people are looking for with two features:
- And people also ask questions
Going through all of these can be a hassle, so luckily, there is a free tool that does this for you.
It gathers all the things Google suggests based on what actual people are searching for and puts it in a nice format for you to use.
And a lot of these questions aren’t answered very well on blogs or forums.
I didn’t have this tool when I started, so you already have a leg up on reaching your goal and earning a living with your online business.
- If this is a hobby you already know a lot about, you probably know the answer or part of the answer to some of these questions already;
- if you aren’t yet very familiar with the hobby or topic, do your research thoroughly, and you’ll learn a lot about the topic in a very short time
Which is also very cool if you wanted to learn more about it anyways.
You can and should have a lot of fun doing this. Learning, and getting paid to do it too!
How to get started blogging
But I still had some things to overcome. How to get a website up to even start blogging? And what about article length?
I’m not an in-depth writer, but the advice is to write at least 2,100 words? It will probably take a long time to write, just one, right?
Because I found out you really do need a WordPress site to become successful at blogging. You can’t use a free platform because it will be a nightmare to get your site off of that when you need to.
And if you overcome that, that’s when the waiting game starts. You can’t see any progress in the beginning.
I’ve had this with every site I own, including kauaisurfreport and stopmotionhero I started last year. 2 months of no visitors at all, and that’s a long time to wait for something to happen.
I call this the Minority Report effect, where it just takes too long to get to the good part and you rather just turn the movie off… or give up on your site.
And even after those 2 months, very little happens. Revenue starts to come in at around month 3, and real revenue at month 4.
Plus I haven’t gotten the Spencer Haws $1,000 mark at month 10 on any of my sites.
Is this the time to invest in a paid tool to check if what you’re doing is going the right way?
Or are there any secrets you should be aware of that no Youtubers share in their SEO videos so you have to buy their online course?
There must be something more to this, right? Otherwise my site should be growing faster than it is.
Why making money from blogging is hard
Doing something now and waiting for it to pay off later is what made it so hard for me to push through.
Starting a service business online is so much easier at first. Work now, and get paid now. Or start as a writer for others to get a paycheck for work you did for them online.
I just wanted to stop writing and first see what would happen with my first few articles so I wouldn’t waste more of my time with this and perhaps pursue something else.
But that’s probably the worst thing you could do because you need that full body of content for it to work.
I could have easily stopped.
But I didn’t.
What you actually need to get started blogging
And I learned a lot in the process. It isn’t exactly $0, but you can get a website up in just a couple of clicks with $3 per month packages, like Bluehost.
That’s all you need, just follow the steps, and you are up. That’s what I did when I started. Got hosting on a per-month basis, laid down $6, and started.
Sticking to it
I learned I could keep at it during that first Christmas holiday and during the evenings while my wife was upstairs nursing.
Because it was fun to learn about my hobbies. And I finished that topic cluster on Stratocasters too!
If you push through after 2 months, you should be able to bring in at least enough to cover the hosting costs, and it’ll grow exponentially after that.
That’s what happened when I first started, and it’s what happened with two new sites I started last year,
- kauaisurfreport.com making $32 per month already,
- and stopmotionhero.com making $131 per month.
Next to my portfolio of sites earning me a nice income as a full-time blogger.
You can check out my income reports here if you need proof, but here, I wanted to get into the details of starting and building up a site without any investment.
And these articles rarely should go over 800 words.
Don’t let people fool you that you need to write 2000-word articles on anything and everything.
These shorter answers do very well now in Google and because a lot of these are very specific questions you’ll see some of them on the first page of google in no time.
Plus, I recently cut up a monster 6000 word blog post into smaller articles with great results.
Blogging without building links
Google WILL reward your content just for being great. I’ve tested it in the last year, and it still works.
I’d say it works even better now than it did when I started because Google is getting better at seeing good content for what it is.
Just writing great content on your website will get you readers.
And some paid tools are cool of course, but you don’t need them right now, and some maybe even never. I still don’t use a paid keyword tool, and I’m well over 10K a month on average.
And it took three years, but we did manage to take that 9 month’s trip to Asia before our son had to go to school.
I’d say, blogging is the best thing you could be starting without any money upfront, but this isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, and I show you exactly what to expect in this article where I wrote a couple of articles once, and the money starts coming in after that:
case study: how much is the time you invest worth as a blogger?
Check it out.
Joost Nusselder is The Content Decoder, a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new tools en tactics. He's been working on a portfolio of niche sites since 2010. Now since 2016 he creates in-depth blog articles together with his team to help loyal readers earn from their own succesful sites.