Whether you have a green thumb or love beautifying landscape, there’s a space on the internet that needs skillful people like you. People go online these days searching for ideas and solutions so your expertise can help to fill these gaps. In today’s article, I will be showing you how to start a gardening blog from scratch and get it to generate a side income or even build a business with it.
Setting Up – Domain and Hosting
The first thing to do is to decide on a domain name. This is basically the site name and the address URL that will point people to your blog. A domain can be constructed in two ways – using keywords such as fourseasonflowers.com or using a person’s name as a brand such as cathysgarden.com.
A decent domain costs between $13 to $16 per year and if you use an all-inclusive service like SiteRubix, you would also be getting privacy protection, email forwarding and technical support.
The second thing to do is to connect to a hosting service that uses WordPress platform. If you have long term plans for your blog, I would always recommend using WordPress because the back office gives more customization choices when it comes to marketing your products.
Most companies now use one-click installation to connect your domain to WordPress without having to download any software at your end. That means, your site could be up and running in less than 1 minute. For about $30 per month, this speedy technology is also available at SiteRubix where you purchase your domain earlier.
And that’s it, once you connect a domain to a hosting plan, you’ve got yourself a brand new blog.
Select a WordPress Theme
A theme is basically a design layout that dictates what people would see when they first arrive at your blog. There are over 2,000 free themes available at the WordPress repository and to make things easier, you can filter them according to your niche, which in this case, would be gardening.
On your user dashboard, simply go to Appearance ⇒ Themes ⇒ Add New and enter ‘garden’ in the search bar. This should narrow down to the designs that are most appropriate for your blog.
Alternatively, you can also go for premium themes that have more sophisticated designs. They usually come with more technical support and cost between $50 to $80 for a one-time license fee. You can view the samples through this link, but keep in mind that you don’t need to invest in one until you have a better idea on how to construct your blog.
Regardless of free or paid, always do a preview of the theme to check for mobile responsiveness and that you are comfortable with the column, widget and menu positions that you want to be displayed. If you are unsure of what’s what, using a free theme to move things around is always the best way to experiment with layouts. Another reason why paid themes can always wait.
Setting up for SEO
After the theme, the next thing to do is to install two important plugins. One to configure the important settings for the search engines called All in One SEO (or AIOSEO) and another one for creating a mobile friendly webpage, called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
Simply go to Plugins ⇒ Add New and enter the plugin’s name into the search bar. Proceed with installation and activation to enable the plugins on your site. For the thorough configuration, please read my full tutorial here on how to set up AIOSEO. As for AMP, it works pretty much out-of-the-box so you may leave as it is for now.
How to Monetize From Your Gardening Skills
Okay, let’s get down to business. So, there are basically two ways you can monetize from a blog, promoting someone else’s products through affiliate programs or sell one of your own.
1) Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate programs are usually created by larger companies that have the merchandise you want to promote. The Amazon marketplace is one of them and in the example below, we could see that this particular blogger has made an affiliate disclosure stating just that.
That means, in her articles, you’ll find specific links pointing readers to some garden related products on Amazon. And when they purchase something, she will make 5.5% in sales commissions. To do so, you’ll need to create content and I am guessing you probably know a lot about gardening that you can teach people something about it.
However, do you know that one of the most popular topics in this niche pertains to gardening ideas?
We know this because from the research data, 79% of shoppers go to Google to search for this type of information. So if you know how to position your blog on the first page of Google for a particular topic, it’s going to bring in a lot of traffic. That’s why you want to have that AIOSEO plugin installed in the first place.
Obviously, the next question to ask is – what type of gardening ideas people are actually searching for? Of course you can get inspiration from garden magazines or forums, but my favorite go-to place is actually Google itself.
On the Google search bar that we all use on a daily basis, there’s an automatic system that pulls out related search terms every time you enter a query (aka keywords). For every word that you type before or after a phrase, you’ll discover a variety of keywords as displayed below.
Now here’s the next key point. You want to select keywords that are descriptive and has a low level of competition so that you can get higher rankings on Google. Remember the 79% of shoppers that I mentioned earlier? Those are the people that you want to target.
As you go about writing content, you’ll be mentioning products naturally and this is where you are going to link it to a product review which is a dedicated page on its own. Some bloggers like to just use their affiliate links directly on the articles, but I am of the opinion that it serves more values to have them in the product review page instead.
Why? Well, people are consumer savvy these days and they like to know the good and the bad before making a purchase. It’s obvious that product prices and qualities matter these days and they are doing this research on mobile (that’s why the feature from the AMP plugin is important). Therefore, sending readers to a product review page AND THEN to the merchant page will make more sense and also translate to better sales conversion.
So, what type of products can you promote? A quick look at Houzz, a home decor online marketplace, for example, there are more than 13,000 product ideas under the lawn and garden department. That should give you a fair bit of idea. Ideally, it’s always good to promote something that you personally use, but it doesn’t always have to be the case.
You can also promote digital products because there’s actually a market demand for online courses/guides/tutorials nowadays in almost any niche. Wide internet access simply allows more people to learn new things from the comfort of their own home. What you’d find interesting is that the profit margin for digital products would always be higher than physical products because they have less overhead to maintain.
In order to save some research time, I’ve listed some popular affiliate programs related to gardening that may interest you.
- Home Depot – 4% per sale (via Commission Junction)
- Amazon Associates – 5.5% (direct application through the Amazon Associate program)
- My Evergreen – 7%
- Houzz – 10% (via ShareASale)
- Click and Grow – 20%
- The Smiling Gardener – 15 to 50% (<< this one offers digital products)
Moving on, let’s see what can a blog do for a local business.
2) Local Business Marketing
Small to medium sized businesses who are involved in gardening are usually suppliers or professionals who are providing some kind of services. Having a blog will help to feature their products, expertise and projects that they have worked on. Through this information, they can build credentials as well as attract new customers for their businesses.
In this example, a landscape company uses a blog to showcase their design ideas.
If this is the area that really interest you, please go over here to read about how to get your small business noticed on Google.
The Key to a Profitable Blog
Is to nurture it with helpful content and engage with the audience the way any good business would do with their customers. Great content drives targeted traffic and make people want to know or buy from you. That is the essence of successful blogging. I guess money does grow on trees, if you know how to do it the right way.
Hey, if you like to learn more about blogging or starting an online business, take a look at my recommended training platform and see what you can benefit from it.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese proverb.
Question – If you have any comments or thoughts about this article, please leave them in the space below and I’ll get back to you.
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