How To Start A Profitable Blog In 2021

If you are a travel enthusiast, like myself, then moving from one country to the next sound like a lifetime of adventure you are excited to take on. And since so very few are independently wealthy what we have to figure out is how will we make money.  A lot of what you will here me preach about is starting your own business and here is why. When you move to another country you want to be the resource. For many they are moving for a better quality of life. More affordable and less stressful. And one of the things I have noticed in just about every travel group I am in on Facebook and a number of other platforms is this one question. Do they XXX here and how hard is it to get a job as a expat? At least a few times a week I see some version of this same question in each and every one of these groups. My goal with this blog is to shift that thinking. For a number of reasons but the main one being even if you can get a job in another country will it afford you the lifestyle you are dreaming of? Considering the reason that some of these countries are so much less expensive is economics and the fact that a living wage is tiny compared to what you are used to in many cases. Imagine how disappointing it would be to get a job in another country and find yourself in the same predicament financially. Still living check to check.


Now that I have tossed that out there we are going to tackle one of the more popular ways to gain financial independence and live where ever you choose. And that is with starting a blog.


Can you still start a profitable blog in 2021?


Let’s go ahead and tackle the elephant in the room. Can someone still start a profitable blog or has everyone written about everything at this point? I understand your concerns and honestly I believe they are very valid concerns. Let me start with the short answer. Yes. You can start a blog today and be profitable in 6 months. Heck it’s 2021 and I just started this blog at the end of last year. Sure I could lament about the fact that I had this idea 10 years ago but I will spare you the soliloquy. With all the vast amounts of information it may feel like everything has been talked about. And the truth is that is not true. Later on I will go through how to research and rank for specific keywords but right now I want you to accept that even if the topic you want to speak about is already written in another blog someone is waiting to here it from you. Yes, you. From your perspective and with all the wit, charm, sarcasm, and whatever else culminates to make you.

We are in a time where anyone with a bit of grit and determination can make their dreams come true. So the question isn’t hasn’t everything been written about already; the better question is how can I put my sauce on XX topic? Cause your sauce. Your spin. Your perspective is what will make your blog successful. A good example of this is TikTok. If you are on this social media platform you will quickly realize everyone is using recycled content. And most notably someone can become more TikTok famous than the original creator. And it all comes down to the spin, the sauce, the juice that they put onto it.


How to choose a topic to write about?

The first consideration you should make is what to write about. I am big on parking lots so my advice will be to brainstorm things you like and any hobbies you have. You will be spending a lot of time with this topic so I am going to encourage you to really think about who you are as a person and your ability to stick something through to the end. I myself was the flakiest of teens and part of my early 20’s but luckily I have grown out of that phase. You will be writing about a ton of detailed things that may be going more in depth than you originally imagined possible. Also take some time to take a step back and look at the blogs you love to read. What commonalities do you see? When I thought about what topic I wanted to talk about I knew travel would be incorporated but I also knew I would be hitting uncharted waters because many blogs don’t go into the how’s and what’s needed to accomplish the goal of a traveler not just looking to visit but to live in another country. A lot of the focus is on traveling cheaper. I am looking to help you create a sustained income. I am passionate about learning more myself and I knew that once I started publishing I would stick with it because you, my readers, would be relying on me to keep it up.

So the ultimate goal is to make money and so after you have a decent parking lot of about 10 – 12 topics then I want you to start looking at affiliate programs and seeing what products or services are in line with your topic. If you don’t know what an affiliate program is use this link (link to affiliate post) and you will find an entire article I dedicated to this topic. The short explanation for now is an affiliate program is typically a special link you use on your blog to a product or service that is in line with your blog article. For example you will find some links in this blog and the companies should you choose to use their services will pay me a commission for sending them business. You pay the same and sometimes less by using these links and get the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with helping another person. When you create your own blog you will be doing exactly the same thing.

When looking at affiliate programs start with the products you currently use. A quick google search can show you if they offer a program and how much they offer for each sale. This can give you a gist of how well you will be able to monetize your blog.

If you are considering a food blog then you already know we all eat with our eyes and Pinch of Yum has a great ebook that teaches everything you need to know. Click here to learn more.

Big Tip!

Now, I have a big tip for you. Are you ready? If you are like; Ivory I just want to make money. I will write about whatever if it makes me money. Then my advice for you is to focus on reviews. Out of all the topics that is where I see people making the most. So if money is the only focus then you need to figure out what lane you want to sit in. Meaning you still need a blog theme. I honestly have seen everything from strange Amazon finds to household goods to hardwood flooring reviews to funny review of reviews websites. Figure out the topic or angle your reviews will be coming from and dive right in. Here is another tip, people rely on reviews to uncover the details that might be missing on the product details. I have read reviews sites especially if I wanted to confirm if a product was living up to it’s promise. They have been the make or break of my buying decisions.

An additional tool you will want to invest in is doing your keyword research. We want to reverse engineer the process. So start researching what information people are searching for. My first go to and recommendation for you is Google Trends. I can’t tell you how many times this free resource has told me how popular my topic is. Also Google Trends has suggested sub-topics I had not even thought of yet. It’s a goldmine. After that hop onto the Google search page and start typing in various search queries. Type slow because the first thing you will notice is Google will autofill suggestions below what you are typing. And if anyone knows what people are searching for let’s be honest; it’s Google.

Now when you start wanting to see the difficulty of ranking in search engine that’s when you will need to look at another source. I like to use SEMRush There you can audit your site, discover backlink opportunities and ways to grow.  Click here as they live and breathe this stuff. It’s feel like a lots of information at first. But rest assured while you may not understand it in the beginning I can attest it will all start to become clearer over time. They even do a free getting started virtual meeting where you can discuss your goals and learn the platform. I personally found it very useful and it helped me get the most out of the platform. They also have a very easy to use Content Marketing section that will literally give you topic ideas. And most importantly it will assist with your keyword research. Feel free to use this link and get a 7 day free trial. Also check click this link here to read how I use SEMRush to grow my blog quickly.

Choosing your domain name

You domain name is essentially your web address and how people will find you on the internet. Confession, I honestly came up with the name Have Work Will Travel in like 2 seconds. I snicker now because it makes absolutely no sense. I don’t offer work I offer information on business opportunities but when I was thinking about the concept I knew that much of what I saw was people looking for jobs and I think subconsciously I thought what if a jobseeker came to my website thinking they were going to find overseas employment but left with all the tools needed to start their own business. It’s a leap. I know. And only time will tell if I took the correct steps.

A word on domains.

You are going to read a lot about the domain needing to have your keywords and explain what you do. And this is all true but the reality no one speaks about is that there are people who spend all their time and money flipping domains and (ready for the bad news) most of the most obvious domains are sitting parked (meaning unused) waiting on someone to pay an exorbitant amount for them. I won’t jump into the whole domain flipping land here but focus more on the following tips. The shorter the url the better. Bear in mind that intentionally misspelling a word could have your readers going to a competitors website. You can combat this with a well formulated marketing plan but go in knowing it’s a uphill battle for those without experience. You can use your name and many people do. My forewarning is tying yourself to a brand that you may later want to sell could pose problems. I have heard too many stories about entrepreneurs losing the right to use their own name. Most notably Famous Amos. In future post I will jumping into making a blog with the intention to sell. This is next level information you won’t want to miss out on so take a second and sign up for my email list. Avoid trademarks. I know the temptation is strong especially for those of you considering review based blogs but trademarks are owned by a company and I don’t think it’s worth the risk should they subpoena you to take it down. All in all. Don’t overthink it. Domains cost as low as $8.99 a year and honestly worst case scenario you can buy another one should the need arise. I myself own about two dozen domains….another story for another time. It’s important to research what domains are available and you can use this link here and you will not only be supporting the author but also save 15% using the code HWWT2021. Final price tallied in the cart. When you are searching you will see many suggestions which will help especially if your particular domain is not available.

Last note. TLD’s. Short for top level domains this deals with the tail end of your domain. .com is the most popular and is the one I recommend shooting for as we are all conditioned to enter .com. Just know that there are hundreds of TLD’s from .com to .org to .shop to .live and on and on. The price will vary but honestly the short answer is .com or .org are most recognizable and while I see .io is gaining popularity for your purposes the .com is the easiest slam dunk.


Choosing a host

The next consideration is website hosting. Hosting in short is where your files will live. Really you won’t need to know much more than that. There are a ton of hosting options. And I could go on and on about the differences but I’ll be honest as someone that has had many websites they all basically work the same. And to save you some time WordPress hosting is what is going to serve your purposes the best. It is one of the most popular for a reason and it’s pretty easy to use even if you are not tech savvy. And if you need help, guess what, there are a bunch of bloggers (Ooo topic idea!) that go into teaching you what you need to know. And if you are like me and really don’t want to learn how to build a website then feel free to reach out to us using this link here and my team will design a website for you. We have affordable prices to fit every budget.

The most important feature with web hosting is uptime. You want a host that has back up measures and a history of very little down time. You want your website to always be available and if something happens there is back up available to get everything up quickly. WordPress is one of the most popular and is super affordable.  Don’t feel pressed to get the biggest package available especially if you are on a tight budget. Start with what you need and you can always expend later. Reliable WordPress Hosting here. In addition to upload time you will get web security and threat detection blocking. Many plans offer the biggest discount when you pay for the year in advance. WPEngine is offering 3 months free on their annual plan. An exclusive discount I want to extend to you. Click this link to learn more.

Another popular hosting platform that has all the bells and whistles and has very affordable plans is Blue Host

If you did not choose the WordPress hosting then you will want to make sure you hop on to set up WordPress as that is the easiest and most used platform for blogging. And we are using instead or because this is better for blogs that you want to monetize. If after reading all this you prefer WordPress then click the link here to get started. You will see several plans and if you use the code HWWT2021 you will save an additional 15%. Personally, this blog is hosted on the WordPress Ecommerce package; it has unlimited storage and includes a SSL certificate which will be important to protect your users data along with a number of other benefits.


Join an affiliate program

I won’t jump into the weeds on this one. If you are unfamiliar with affiliate marketing check out this post that will tell you all you need to get started. Personally I did not join a bunch of programs when I began. I joined as I wrote posts. So I keep a parking lot of topics that I have planned for this blog and every week I work through writing the post and then researching what products or services I use that have affiliate programs. I’ll also research competitors blog to see what advice they have given and get an understanding of what is being said and what is not being said. Remember you want to place your sauce on your blog the same way I do with mine. And I always look to point out what may not be talked about to give you guys a fuller view.

Find a sponsor for your web site. Get paid for your great content.

Once your hosting is up you want to choose a theme. There are free and paid themes.

Create your anchor posts

Now, you want to make a list of anchor posts. These are are the posts that will be major drivers to your website. They are usually highly popular searches. And if you use SEMRush then you will know immediately which ones are the ones to target and create a highly detailed post on that topic.


Create accurate post lengths

Did you know that Google shows favor to posts that are 2000 words or more?

These are more likely to come up in the top ten search results for organic searches on your topic. Take advantage of that knowledge by creating blog post that are at least 2000 words.  Being completely transparent every post does not need to be that long. But for posts that are your anchor or drivers to your website you want to make sure it’s written very thoroughly and leaves a good first impression. Most readers won’t start on your home page. Most start on a blog that answered a question that your post came up as the best result for. You want that individual article or post to be so good that they return back for more or they begin to explore what else you cover.

Don’t want to tackle writing blog post then check out the folks at Content Development Pros using this link here >>Content Development Pros

Follow the greats then put your spin on it

Salt Bae

Starting a blog is not new nor will be many of the topics that you will be considering. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. People will have already proven if a concept works. What is important is that you put your sauce on it. Your spin. Your salt bae. This is what will drive people to your blog and allow you to create a community around it. Find 5-6 blogs in your niche to follow. Watch how often they post and what they post. Figure out what more you can offer. Note: These may end up becoming your first few guest posts.


Don’t expect fast results

Blogging takes time. I hate to disappoint you but like anything worth doing if it were fast and easy everyone would do. You can start to see revenue as soon as 6 months and some of you will see it sooner than that. Personally I have a 6 month benchmark. Aim to have about 30 posts on your blog before you start to market it. You want to show prospects that you are serious about what you do. How quickly you monetize varies and depends on how quickly you get good relevant posts up. Depends on how good you are at networking with other bloggers and are in the blogging community. Depends on how often people search for your topic. Depends on the competition out there. This isn’t to discourage you but to get you in a mindset of digging your heels in and pacing for the long haul. Like anything worth doing on the other side of all the hard work it will be all worth it.

Build your backlinks

Do guest posts!

You are going to want to be seen as an authority on your topic. Part of how you do that is by doing guest posts. This is where you write a article for another blog. It may take a few tries; imagine on their side how many bloggers are probably looking to do a guest post. Once you build a popular blog you will see just how many requests come to you and you will understand their hesitance. They want the same as you would want. Someone that has quality content and that is in this for the long haul. You want to find the cross between something they have yet to cover or cover in depth combined with keyword research and competition to rank for a particular topic.

I usually set my goals early. Meaning I will stat following a blog well before I make my request. I study what they post and become a active member that comments and adds to their existing community. I look at their writing style. Then I will reach out to pitch my idea. I like to use the compliment sandwich approach. A compliment sandwich is the concept of leading with a compliment, tucking in the middle what you noticed they were missing, and then tying it all together with how I’d like to help. People typically use it for having tough conversations but I find it works in many different scenarios.

Best practices for guest posting:

  • Follow any editorial guidelines. Whatever they want is how you want to deliver. Make it easy for them to just post it. Include whatever links you have in the blog and include you bio with any links already in the post.
  • Beat the timeline given. I aim to impress so I always submit my blog post as soon as they are ready and beating the deadline by at least a couple of days. I want them so satisfied with working with me that they will happily entertain any future requests. And I am top of mind for anything they are looking for a reliable writer for.
  • Look to build long term relationships. People can feel when you are just in it for what you want. I like to give, give, give then ask. If there is anyway I can be a resource to them that usually is my first goal to build and cement a long term relationship.

Receive guests posts

Just like you can write for others, others can write for you. And just like they have editorial guidelines  and deadlines so can you. If you are just starting out don’t get overly stringent with some long drawn out list of requirements like you are the editor of the Washington Times.

I tend to focus on topics I am not as familiar with and many times I will initiate contact using the same compliment sandwich I use to request my guest post. In my most ideal scenarios my reach out to guest post on their blog is met with an agreement for them to guest post on my blog. That way it’s win-win.

And I am sure you are wondering how in the heck am I suppose to keep up with all of that?? I recommend a project management tool Personally, I use with this link you will get a 14 day trial to see if it fits your style. I’ll do another post dedicated to how I organize my projects using this tool. At this time I operate 10 websites and 3  different lines of business. If anyone has tested the durability of this platform it is me. For your blog, my advise it to create a group for blog topics. Throw them all in there. Create a group for other tasks like guest posts, and links you need to follow up on, etc. For my topic group, I rank them based on high, medium, and low priority; with anchor posts always being high priority. Then I set deadlines to have it done by. From there they have a neat toggle where you can mark what you are working on and what you are stuck on and what you have completed. And you can create dedicated views that show only what you are currently working on. All in all I would be a confused mess with out this project management tool and I highly recommend you invest in one to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed.

Work them connections – Link Building

A couple of other techniques include finding referrals to your blog that the author may have forgotten or just breezed over. You can use SEMRush to track these things and then reach out to the blogger asking them to link to your post. Another scenario is to use SEMRush to find broken links (there are tons out there) that lead to know where or maybe original website is no more. Email them and offer your relevant blogs post as a solution.

position tracking

Add Google Analytics

Be sure to add Google Analytics to your blog. It’s completely free and will help as you track the web traffic coming you your website. WP has a great tutorial on how to do it yourself.

Rinse & Repeat

Once you have done all the above things. Nothing to do but rinse and repeat. Keep adding to your blog. Building your links and doing guest blogs to increase online presence and rank higher in organic search. Aim to get at least 30 post up before starting your outreach.

All in all you can start a blog for less than $100 and I encourage you to dive in and learn as you go. No one gets it perfect and I find most people lie in “analysis paralysis” until they give up on the idea because they want to figure everything out beforehand. Commit yourself by getting started today. Get your domain. Get your hosting. Choose a theme. Get a tool to tracking keywords. And start writing.

Let me know what your top 5 topics are in your parking lot in the comments section. The feedback from other readers may help solidify what direction you should go in. Let’s travel this journey together. And if you have a unique perspective and want to guest post on this blog Hit Me Up and we can chat about the possibilities.


Oh and by the way

Try this Content Marketing Toolkit Course by SEMRush.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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