I started blogging when I was 14 years old. Just a couple years later, I was making some decent side change. As a 20 year old, blogging and graphic design is my full time job. There are many great tutorials on how to start a blog for fun, but I couldn’t find a blog post on how to start a monetized blog for teens. A lot of the articles written by 40-somethings forget that a major hinderance can be the inability to legally enter into an ad contract. Here is a step by step guide on how to make money blogging as a teen. (This is a detailed guide anyone can use this guide, but there’s a lot of information specifically for teens!)
Disclaimer: I make a small commission from some of the links on this site. It allows me to keep the site up and the content free. You can read my full disclosure here.
How to Start Your Blog
I write this assuming the person who wants to begin blogging is over 13 and wants to blog for profit. If you’re just wanting to create a blog for fun, some points may not matter as much as others!
1. Come up with a name
This may seem obvious, but the first thing your blog needs is a name! Your name is your brand. Check and see if your domain name is available. Then, check all of the major social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. (Make sure your name also isn’t too long! For example, some sites put a cap on how long your username can be.)
You will want your name to be consistent across all sites or at least on all of your major social sites. Once you decide, take your social media handles ASAP so no one else does!
2. Buy your domain name
After settling upon a name, buy your domain name ASAP! It’s typically about $9.95-$15. Buy any domain ID protection that comes with it (around $7-22 – it is worth it). Companies can track what domains have been looked up, and occasionally snatch it up themselves and hike the price.
3. Buy hosting
I would recommend buying hosting the same place you buy your domain, to prevent a lot of headaches in the future. I use Siteground, and have been really happy with it. They have top-notch, instant 24/7 customer service. For your first year, they offer a student plan where hosting is only $2/mo for the first year!
4. Set up your blog
If you are wanting to blog professionally, use WordPress. It is slightly more of a learning curve than Blogger, but it’s a widely-used platform used by sites that receive millions of views.
5. Find a theme
There are plenty of great WordPress themes for beginning bloggers. Choose something simple, easy to read, and responsive (most themes are!). (Black backgrounds with white text is so difficult to read!) Responsive themes adjust appropriately on mobile and tablet devices. A good bulk of your traffic will come from mobile, so it’s important to have a good looking mobile site. Creative Market also has great themes, including some nice ones for under $30. Look on other sites in your niche to see what you want your site to look like.
6. Download plugins
There are thousands of great free plugins on WordPress! Simply go to Plugins > Add New and search away. There’s a plugin for virtually everything, from verifying your website with Pinterest to preventing spam comments.
My favorite plugins include:
- Askimet (anti-spam)
- Comment Reply Notification
- Digital Downloads
- Pinterest hover button
- Yoast SEO
- Google Analytics
- Cresta Social Buttons (or any social media share buttons)
7. Set up a menu
This menu will have your basics: Home (that leads back to your homepage), about me, and contact. Sometimes, bloggers have a second menu with their most popular categories.
8. Start writing content
Start publishing awesome content! Remember to proof-read and keep posts error-free.
Creating Your Own Images
I recommend using Picmonkey to create your own images. There’s also Canva, but Picmonkey consistently yields quality results while Canva’s images tend to be blurry in my opinion. I know hundreds of bloggers who use Canva, so I’m definitely in the minority.
Ideally, the best programs are Adobe PhotoShop and InDesign, but these can be expensive and have an intense learning curve if you don’t already have experience. (The more you gain experience blogging, these two programs are great to learn and are great skills when you hit the job market.) Picmonkey is simple and yields pretty good quality.
In our visual world, beautiful, eye-catching images and photography is a must. My first images were in no way “pretty” and were in fact very ugly. Content is king. Ultimately, my posts were about the content, not the images, so while nice images have improved my blog, they weren’t that way in the beginning.
Marketing and SEO
Everyone’s niche is different. My first successes blogging was when one of my first posts (this one!) received 100 repins overnight. It was then when I realized I might actually be able to make money blogging. I realize I got very lucky and had made the right connections very early. Everyone’s success looks different. My readers primarily love Facebook and Pinterest. Fashion bloggers may have better luck on Pinterest and Instagram. Still others might have better luck on Twitter. Know what your audience uses.
Comment on blogs in your niche. Make them authentic and relative to the post. Network with those in your niche. Share other’s content, and many will return the favor.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Using keywords that are being consistently searched helps you rank higher in Google.
There are four main ways to earn money blogging. They are affiliate marketing, ads, sponsored posts, and creating products.
In order to begin making money, set up a checking account. There are several banks that offer student accounts, complete with a debit card, if a parent co-signs. Check and see if your parent’s bank has this option. I would recommend creating an EIN (Employer Identification Number) to use for tax purposes. It’s quick and easy to set up, and will require a parent’s co-signature. As tempting (or accidental) as it may be, do not have your account with a parent’s social security number. This can be a huge pain to change in the future!
When in doubt, use a parent’s name/SSN, and get it switched when you turn 18.
1. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate links are links that have a unique tracking code. I’m an affiliate for several sites, but my #1 is Amazon. I have many book/movie lists and receive a small percentage of sales. Many clothing retailers have affiliate programs, if that’s where your niche is. When using affiliate links, be sure to have proper disclosure! It’s required legally and makes you more reliable.
There are many different ad networks out there, but the most common among beginners is Google Adsense. The payout isn’t the best, but the ads are very easy, you’re in control, and it is a fantastic choice for beginners. After you begin gaining momentum, I’d recommend Mediavine. You need 25,000 sessions, around 30,000 page views, monthly to qualify.
3. Sponsored Posts
I use the network Clever for sponsored posts. Others have luck with Tapinfluence. (You can have both if you want!) There’s not always a lot of options for a 15 year old, but it never hurts to sign up. You can also pitch brands asking them for product in exchange for a sponsored post.
4. Creating Products
Creating your own products is one of the best ways to make money as a blogger. You have an asset; something to sell. Choose something related to your niche that your readers will find valuable.
Whatever you use, try to avoid spammy pitches you receive from your email.
Fonts, Images, and Copyright Fun
For years I used Picmonkey to make my images, until I started to use Photoshop. I still use Picmonkey for their great features and collage maker.
For images, if you did not put it on the internet, it doesn’t belong to you. Never use images you found from Google. I know bloggers who have been faced with hefty fines because of this. Take your own images or use Unsplash or Pixabay for stock images that you can use for 100% free, no credit required.
Commercial use means anything for-profit and that you are making money from. If you’re blogging for profit, everything you use must be for commercial use even if you’re not directly making money from it.
Personal use is for when you are not making any money. If you are blogging for money (or want to in the future), always choose things that allow commercial use.
You can use any fonts already installed on your computer. You can find more fonts on dafont.com, and when searching be sure to click “100% free.” If a font says “free for personal use,” check out the creator’s website to find a price. Some fonts are just $5! (Kimberly Geswein has a large collection of fonts that are just $5/each to use on your blog.) Fonts you pay for, such as any you buy from Creative Market, are allowed for commercial use.
Tips to Remember:
1. It’s NOT overnight cash.
2. Write what your audience wants.
3. If something’s not working, adjust your plan.
4. There’s a million “experts” with a million different opinions.
5. Have fun and don’t forget why you started! 🙂
6. Remember you will grow and change. My blog today did NOT look like it did when it started. Constantly be willing to learn, adapt and grow!