I’ve been a blogger since 2008 and I love what I do. Blogging is creative, fun, keeps my brain stimulated, and makes me extra money. As a single woman and Baby Boomer, I know that having extra income is a good thing, and what I make from my blog is fairly passive. It ka-chings while I sleep . . . literally!
If you are looking to earn extra income or build a business in retirement – that you can do from anywhere, it may be a good time to start a blog.
As an official senior, whether you feel like one or not, you have been on this Earth for over half a century and chances are you have expertise in something. Why not share the wisdom and life lessons you have learned to mentor others?
Or, you may want to reinvent yourself entirely to pursue your passions or new interests.
A blog requires little overhead which makes it easy and affordable to grow as a business. Start out simply by investing in a hosting account, which can be under $100 per year and will not take a chunk out of your retirement savings.
If you are consistent and strategic, you will begin to make money with it in a short amount of time.
Blogging offers flexibility and has endless possibilities
Imagine being able to work while you travel as long as you have a laptop and work whenever you want to. You may start out making pennies at first but if you are focused, you may be able to generate enough money to improve your lifestyle.
If you are worried about the technical aspects of blogging, it’s not hard to learn. I taught myself how to blog by taking online classes and watching YouTube videos.
If that is still intimidating, enlist the help of someone to help you solve technical issues to get set up while you focus on creating content and building your after-retirement business. There are plenty of people online who will do this for a few hundred, rather than thousands of dollars and are capable and trustworthy.
As Baby Boomers, we didn’t grow up with the Internet or social media. Instead, we read books and learned writing skills that are still within us, even if we didn’t utilize them over the years. But, even if grammar wasn’t your best subject, there are online tools, that can help you write like a pro.
If writing content sounds like a chore to you, you can use your blog to post videos or podcast streams on your blog and use it as your hub on the Internet.
Making money with a blog
I earn extra cash by linking to products I love that I have affiliate and brand partnerships with. In doing so, I’ve been able to connect with fabulous people in all sorts of industries. As a perk, I get to try out and keep products that I review for brands. This may appear insincere but the best affiliate marketers only promote brands they truly love and recommend and post honest reviews.
Blogging may fill in the gaps if your retirement fund is lacking
I started my blog because of my life’s circumstances. I worked freelance all my life as a voice actor but lost two partners to cancer. Acting work is unpredictable and because I was caregiving, it took time away from pursuing my career. Actors and other freelancers don’t have the luxury of a 401K so unless you fall into an inheritance, which I did not, you have to supplement your Social Security check to survive.
But, aside from earning extra income, I have found blogging to be a fulfilling way to use my talents, meet colleagues online, help others, and, make my life a lot more fun!
If you’re ready to start a blog, follow the steps below. I assure you they are not hard, even if you are technically challenged.
1. Decide on a niche
Building a business with a blog works best when you focus on a topic that other people are searching for. However, it’s best to write about what you truly enjoy or are passionate about. Some people make a killing writing about a certain species of tropical fish, traveling solo to Asia, or baking bread using natural yeast. There are audiences for just about everything but you must research to make sure it will be worth your while.
If you find there is interest for a niche you are interested in, be sure it is not too general like “losing weight” or “world travel.” Look for an aspect of that niche with a smaller audience that can put you on the first page of Google and that will give you a better chance of building a successful passive business.
2. Choose a domain name for your blog
Once you decide on your niche, it’s important to find a domain name that reflects your topic and personality. What you name your site is critically important so think carefully before you set up your site. It’s best to keep the URL as short as possible and always use .com unless you are promoting a non-profit organization in which you can use .org.
The reason for this is is that .com will come up in search when it’s typed into a browser so a visitor can click directly to your site. Domains that use other extensions like .net, .info, .me, do not come up automatically and are harder to find.
Think about the future of your website when deciding your domain name. For instance, a mommy blogger will someday become an empty nester. Midlife bloggers will become seniors. When I chose the name BabyBoomster.com it was not only fun but reflected my generation. When I am 100-years-old, God willing, I will always be a Baby Boomer.
I buy my domains at GoDaddy.com because it is an affordable and reliable site. However, I host my site elsewhere.
3. To build a serious business online, use WordPress.org as your blogging platform
The best way to start your blog off on the right foot, whether you want to make it a business or simply want a professional look, is to have a self-hosted WordPress site. WordPress is the premier blogging platform online today.
But, be aware that there are two types of WordPress software.
WordPress.com is a free platform and is hosted by WordPress. It has restrictions for posting ads and affiliate links and has limited functionality.
Unless you purchase a custom website address, (domain) you’ll find yourself with a long website address like www.myboomerblog.wordpress.com. Blogspot is also often used for starter blogs and is owned by Google but has restrictions, long domain names, and is not nearly as functional as WordPress.org. Wix and Weebly are also limited.
Free sites like that are okay if you’re blogging strictly as a hobby or simply want an online diary. But, if you want to start a business with a professional look go with WordPress.org. Once you establish your hosting account you can install it in about 5 minutes using your server’s installation tools.
4. Why you need control over your content
A hosting account allows you to have access to your files in a safe place. I have been hosting all my sites on Bluehost for years. To be upfront, I must disclose that I have an affiliate relationship with them. That means that if you click on this link, I will receive a small amount of compensation if you purchase an account at no extra cost to you.
Affiliate income is one way bloggers make money.
5. Set up your hosting account
When you sign up with Bluehost you will receive one free domain name and WordPress will be automatically be installed as soon as you complete your purchase.
Another reason I recommend Bluehost is that they keep their servers up to date on the backend. This isn’t always the case at other hosting companies and the result is your site may crash later on.
Bluehost’s customer service has always been excellent for me especially when I call them directly. They have helped me fix issues that have occasionally occurred on my sites over the years. Stuff happens no matter what hosting site you use.
6. Find an appropriate WordPress theme for your blog or business website
Once WordPress is installed it will need a theme, which is a template you can install in seconds by clicking a button on your site. WordPress installs with a basic default theme that is fast, but most people want options on how their site will look.
If you want your site to reflect your brand or who YOU are, there are thousands of themes available to choose from. I prefer using a premium theme because they offer online support. All of my sites use StudioPress themes because they are well coded, fast, and I am used to working with them. With free themes, you’re on your own to figure out how to configure them.
Theme builder plugins like Elementor and Divi are popular and have drag and drop options for placement but I don’t recommend them. They make it much harder to change themes if you decide you want a new look and can bloat your database making it run slower. WordPress now comes with its own Gutenberg editor that allows you to create your own layout and it is much faster and easier than most builder plugins. It is also free.
Configuring your theme may be a little tricky if you have never done it before. It may pay to have a WordPress expert help you get your blog set up to your liking if you are not tech-savvy. You can find affordable help on sites like Fiver to get you started or look up how to configure your theme on YouTube and learn to do it yourself which will save you money.
Do not let anyone talk you into coding a theme from scratch. It would not only be expensive but the theme they create may not have update options for new technology once your developer has set it up and disappeared.
WordPress.org now also offers auto-updates for WordPress versions and plugins which will not require you to pay for monthly maintenance. Updating is important to prevent hacking and other issues.
7. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to start a blog?”
Not everyone has the desire or need to write blog posts on their website even though blogging is one of the best ways to attract traffic and gain followers. However, a WordPress site can easily be your online home to promote an existing business or project without writing blog posts.
If you want to express yourself and write about what you love, you are a perfect candidate to start a blog. Some people write blog posts to organize their thoughts and eventually turn them into a book.
BabyBoomster.com was created to be an online magazine with topics that pertain to active women over 50. It focuses on travel, wellness, entertainment, fashion, beauty, and how to have a fulfilling and fun lifestyle.
I also allow other writers over 50 to submit guest posts. They must adhere to my writer’s guidelines to maintain the integrity of my site. Some of my guest writers are experts in topics I know nothing about like finance.
8. How to monetize your blog
Below are just some of the ways bloggers make money on their sites:
- Sell a physical product by writing about it. You can add a shopping cart plugin like WooCommerce, a PayPal button, or link products in your blog to a shopping site like Etsy.
- Write sponsored posts – This is when a brand pays you to try out their product or service and contracts you to write a post about it. You must add a disclaimer in your post that you are doing this and that your opinion is your own. Be honest in your reviews so your readers won’t lose trust in you. Many sponsored opportunities have switched to Instagram but remember, Instagram may go away at any time and your blog can stay up as long as you want it to.
- Make affiliate income – Find brands you LOVE, and join their affiliate programs for free. Then, add links or banners to your site. If a visitor clicks on a link and makes a purchase, you will earn a small commission. The best way to make this work is to write reviews and add trackable links. I have affiliate accounts on major networks like CJ Affiliate, Rakuten Linkshare, Shareasale, Awin, Impact, Pepperjam, Partnerize, Shop Style Collective, and others. They allow me to add unique links to specific products that include tracking ID directed to my account. Sign up with them once you have content and some traffic on your site.
Just a note: Banner ads are not as effective as text links as people are more suspect to click on them.
If you are an affiliate marketer, you must add a disclaimer that reads something like this: This post contains some affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you click on them and make a purchase.
You may want to monetize using an ad network like Google Adsense. After applying and being accepted into the program using your Google account you can insert a snippet of code on your site. This will bring up ads based on your reader’s searches and preferences. You can decide how many ads to run or run auto-ads that use artificial intelligence that is based on your reader’s views and preferences.
Once you get more traffic you may want to upgrade to an ad network like Ezoic that will make you more money than Adsense.
Amazon Associates is an easy affiliate program to join and you can add links to any products you talk about on your blog. However, they have recently cut their commission rates.
Other ways to create income on your blog:
- Sell eBooks or insert links to your published works. (Amazon, Barnes, and Noble, etc.)
- Create an online course – Link your site to a CMS learning site to teach others what you know or build one on your site using a plugin. (that’s a little more complicated) You can create a course on Udemy, Teachable, Thinkific, or other online teaching sites and link it to your website.
- Sell customized merchandise that are printed and shipped by companies like Red Bubble or other merch sites for influencers.
- Build membership sites using a membership plugin – Readers pay a monthly fee to view exclusive content that only members receive.
- Sponsorship Ads – Allow brands or business owners to purchase advertising space or place banner ads on your site.
- Podcasts, YouTube channels, IGTV – Sponsors pay to have you create video or audio to promote their products. You can embed these on your website in posts.
Generating additional income, especially passive income, is important especially as you get older unless you have a very healthy nest egg, or were born rich. Why not make some and have fun doing it?
Other tips to make your blog successful once it is set up
Learn about keyword optimization
If your content is compelling and written with searchable keywords, visitors will arrive on your site organically from Google and other search engines. For the best organic (not paid) SEO results, make sure your SEO (search engine optimization) is optimized. You can install a plugin called Yoast SEO to help you with that. It will give you tips on keyword optimization on each post and page.
Generally, you will want to choose a searchable keyword phrase for each post depending on the topic you are writing about. It should be a keyword that gets a medium amount of traffic so that you have the chance of making it to page 1 on a Google search and not be lost in the shuffle and beat out by bigger sites.
You can learn about SEO on YouTube or other websites. One of my favorite SEO experts is Neil Patel. Click here to watch his video series.
However, SEO isn’t always enough. If you write a blog post and want other people to read it and share what you’ve written, make sure it is valuable content that will answer questions your readers may have about the topic you are writing about.
Boost your posts by creating social media accounts so you can share them on multiple platforms. WordPress.org has an array of free plugins that make it easy for you to install share buttons. I like mine to be simple and fast. On this site, I am currently using the Scriptless Social Sharing plugin.
Configure your share buttons correctly
Your share buttons should be large enough to be visible. Some are so teensy they get missed. If your demographic is midlife and beyond, remember we don’t see all that well without our reading glasses.
Make your posts easy to share.
Make sure your share buttons are not only activated and easy to access but that they look the way you want them to when people share them.
Tip – Click on your Twitter share button to see what it looks like when your post is shared. Then, go to the settings of your share button plugin in your WordPress dashboard and tweak the text. It shouldn’t say “via Shareaholic” but rather via @yourtwitterhandle. If you don’t know how to do this Google your plugin on YouTube for a tutorial.
It also helps to have links to your social media accounts visible on all your website pages so that others can follow you on those sites if they want to.
Make your site readable for older eyes
The size and style of your content’s fonts can make your readers stay or leave your site. If the text is so small it’s hard to read and visitors will leave your site. I recommend using a font size of 16px or larger depending on which font your WordPress site is styled with. And as much as you want your blog to be colorful, a white background behind your text is the EASIEST to read.
Script-style fonts are also hard to read. They may be fine for Titles and headers but the main content of your site should be styled with an easy-to-read web-friendly font like Helvetica or Ariel. Click here for more suggestions.
You can install a WordPress plugin like Easy Google Fonts to style your fonts without coding them into your theme.
Don’t worry, there are videos on YouTube that will help you configure just about any WordPress plugin. Type in what you are looking for in the YouTube search bar and find the most current video.
Set your theme’s default fonts before writing any content on your site. Resist the urge to add additional colors to fonts or change font styles within individual posts to keep the look of your site consistent. It looks much more professional that way.
Most people skim rather than read an entire article especially if it’s a long post. Break up your text using headers (like H2, H3) bullet points, numbers, italics, quotes, etc. The last thing you want is a long block of text so break up paragraphs as well.
Valuable and optimized content is best to create traffic
You can have a high-trafficked and popular website without ever using social media if your content is well written, solves your reader’s problems, and contains searchable keywords. However, if all you write about is you, your blog will have a limited appeal and will not be very searchable.
A good post should be at least 300 words long but is even better if it’s 600 words or longer. Some gurus recommend long posts of 1200 – 5000 words. It really depends on your audience and what you are writing about. Add internal links (which lead to other blog posts on your site) to all your posts to keep readers on your site and add reference links from authority sites to highlight important information they may need to know.
Do NOT write obscure and nonsensical headlines
I don’t know how many times I see bloggers post headlines that make no sense. Headlines draw readers to your blog. If they do not know what your post is about, based on say a one or two-word headline, they will not click to read it. Your headline should include your keyword for that post and up to 60 characters total, so make use of the opportunity to optimize it.
Use social media strategically to give your posts a boost
You don’t have to spend endless hours promoting a post on every social media channel there is. Find out what sites work best for your content and focus on them.
My best traffic comes from Pinterest. It’s an image-centric search engine that is popular for niches like travel, food, fashion, home decor, and other lifestyle interests. The images I pin are linked to my blog posts.
If you sign up for Pinterest, get a business account that you verify using your blog’s web address. That way you can view analytics and insights to see which pins are most popular with your audience.
When setting up your social media handles use either your brand name or your real name if they’re available. You may want to set up an account for both so that no one takes it.
You can also boost your traffic using Facebook, Google, and other paid ads if you can afford it. But remember, the more you write valuable content that is searchable, the more opportunities Google has of finding your pages on the Internet without the need for you to spend extra money for ads.
Allowing comments on your blog is optional but can be very valuable as they allow you to get an idea of what your readers like when they reply. But, it’s important to make it easy for readers to comment.
If they have to jump through hoops to log in to comment, they probably won’t, especially if they are commenting from their phones.
The plugin Akismet is automatically installed with WordPress to prevent comment spam. Create an account on WordPress.com (free) without building a site on it. Then, log into your WordPress blog’s dashboard, go to Plugins, and find Akismet. It will prompt you to connect it to your WordPress.com account.
Make your blog easy to navigate
Organize your blog’s menu bar so that it is easy to click on pages and categories but keep it as simple as possible. Remember that many people will access your site on their phone and too many tabs can be messy and confusing.
Creating categories and tags help make it easier for readers to find the content they are interested in. Categories should only be for main topics on your blog and tags are for topics discussed within individual posts. Keep them to a minimum for more efficient navigation.
Add internal links to other articles on your blog in all your posts to keep readers on your site longer.
Check your spelling and grammar
I use a free app called Grammarly with my Chrome browser. It checks my spelling, grammar, and punctuation on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Word Docs. I don’t know what I’d do without it.
When I first started using it I was alarmed at all the mistakes I made in old posts and went back and fixed them. It also catches extra space and other flubs you may make when you’re typing.
Collect email addresses to build your list
Building a list is crucial if you are using your blog for business. Most website owners use some type of form from an email list provider on their site to collect email addresses from willing participants.
Sending regular emails to your readers helps you connect with them and will send them back to your site to read new posts or to offers you want to promote.
Popups are annoying but are an effective way to add new subscribers. If you use a popup, set it to appear after a visitor has been reading your content for a while rather than immediately after they land. This gives them a little time to get to know you first.
MailChimp is an email list provider that is free if you have under 2,000 subscribers. You can create a pop-up opt-in form or embedded forms to collect email addresses from interested parties and send out newsletters or announcements.
GDPR – The General Data Protection Regulation was implemented in May of 2018. It’s a data privacy law that was introduced by the European Union but affects website owners globally. It protects users’ privacy when it comes to data collection. I won’t try to confuse you with all the details but it’s something all website owners need to comply with.
If you’re using the latest version of WordPress you can automatically generate a privacy page on your site that’s pre-written. However, it’s a template and you’ll want to tweak it for your business.
You must post a link to your privacy page and ask your visitors for permission to collect data via email opt-in, contact form, and shopping cart information. For more information on how it applies to bloggers, click here.
Some of this can be accomplished using a GDPR plugin that pops up on your footer when someone arrives on your website. A visitor must accept your terms and is invited to view your privacy page before continuing.
Bloggers are also supposed to implement GDPR rules when readers subscribe to their email list. MailChimp has a specific GDPR opt-in form you can use as a link on your site. It has boxes that subscribers can check to receive the information they desire.
If you aren’t on my email update list currently, PLEASE click here and SUBSCRIBE. I would LOVE that!
Make sure your blog is mobile-friendly
People are using their phones or tablets to view websites exclusively these days. Google will penalize you in search if your site isn’t mobile-friendly. All new WordPress themes are mobile responsive but if you are using an older theme, it may not be.
If it isn’t, a theme change may be necessary that will fix the problem. There are also plugins like Jet Pack to make your site mobile-friendly but extra plugins can slow down your site.
Set up Google Analytics and Search Console Accounts for your blog
Google is the king of all the search engines so make sure to set up a Google Analytics account and Google Search Console Account for your domain. If you have a Gmail or Google account, log in and search for each. Google Analytics will want you to add a snippet of code to your blog to connect it or you can use a plugin like MonsterInsights to connect it for you.
This will help you see page views, most popular content, and a host of other statistics. Search Console will allow you to add a sitemap address to make it easier for Google to crawl your site. To set all this up, look for a current YouTube tutorial. There are many.
Site speed is mucho important
When you upload large files like images, it makes your site slower to load. This is frustrating for readers, especially if they have pokey Internet. Always resize your images to about 1200 pixels or less before uploading them to your site and reduce the file size. Never upload them at full size from your camera. A plugin like SMUSH will reduce the file size automatically when you upload images to your site.
Rename all your images before uploading them to your site using target keywords.
I use www.picmonkey.com to resize images. It has a free version. Never upload your images directly from your camera because those files are HUGE!
The fewer plugins you use on your site, the faster it will be. You can test your site speed at GTMetrix.com and Google Page Speed Insights. They will give you an idea of what may be causing your site to be slow.
Get started setting up a blog TODAY!
If you want more information on how to start a blog or have questions about the WordPress platform itself, please feel free to contact me by clicking here.
This post was updated 12/23/2021