You want to start a blog, kudos.
It’s likely that this article isn’t the first one you’ve read on the topic. It’s a safe bet to say that it’s not the last one you’ll read either.
You’re still reading because you’ve either not sure how to do it or you’re afraid to get started for real.
I know it’s likely one of those reasons because I’ve had both. At the same time too.
I’m still afraid of certain aspects of blogging. Putting yourself out there can be scary. But as someone wise said, if it’s worth doing - you’re probably going to be afraid.
You’re reading this kind of article because you’ve heard you can start a blog and make money doing it.
I’ve read that too.
I’m all for honesty, so this post won’t be an exception.
Last year I started looking into ways to make some money on the side of my day job. Not because we’re not making enough, but to have more money to invest. One of the things that kept popping up was that you should start a blog and make money.
There’s actually an entire industry around topics related to how to start your blog.
Fascinating isn’t it? I didn’t know about this before I started this either.
The problem for me was that I had a hard time getting my head around the concept of how to start a blog. The technical stuff can be daunting, even though I’m a geek.
I won’t go into techy stuff in this post. It’s not that kind of post.
This is a step-by-step guide on how to get a blog up and running as fast as you can.
First I will tell you what I did and what you shouldn’t do.
Ok, so I told you that you can make money blogging. Lots of people make a full time living on it.
I want to clarify something first. I didn’t start this blog to make money in some quick and easy way. That’s not how this works.
If you’re looking for a way to make a quick buck and move on, this isn’t for you.
I know I made it sound like I’m in this for the money, and I am, at some point. But the truth I want to help people.
Through my own interest in personal finances, I’ve learned a lot. I've also noticed that many people doesn't know about these things,
I want to share what I know with other people and a blog is the perfect way to do that.
If I somewhere down the line make money by helping people, well, that’s great and it's my goal. But it's not what drives me.
The thing I want you to understand is that you should do this because you genuinely care about helping other people. If you do it any other way, people will notice and sense you’re a fraud.
Then they'll leave your blog and never come back again.
I read a lot of posts and articles about how to start a blog and was struck by the number of posts on the subject. Some are helpful, some are pure crap. Some make it seem more complicated than it is. So you have to sift through quite a lot of articles to find something useful.
Now you might wonder why I write a post on this if there are already so many out there. Well, it’s simple really. I want to write one that is good and helpful and tells my story so far.
When I first started I got a domain name that I thought was clever. It said nothing about what I was blogging about.
Quick Lesson 1: Don’t be cute or clever with your domain name.
I’m still wondering what the fudge I’m going to do with ImagineFerrets.com.
Anyway, I went over to a hosting company that I used before for smaller projects, one.com. I got a hosting deal and started.
Oh, if you’re completely new you’re wondering what hosting is.
It’s where you put your virtual property, so to speak. It’s like a hotel for websites. It’s where they live and get accessed from. It’s the server and everything else.
The hosting I picked was slow and the support was lacking. So, I changed hosts. The mistake with picking a host I wasn’t happy with and a “bad” domain name cost me about $50. Not so bad, but really not a great way to start either.
Quick Lesson 2: A good hosting company from the start is worth the money
Even though I read so much before I decided to start, I still kind of screwed up. Funny isn’t it?
So, technically, MasterYourFamilyMoney.com is my Blog Attempt, version 2.0.
I created this post so that you can be successful in your Blog Attempt version 1.0.
Reading all these posts and articles on how to start a blog I found that there’s one common thing they all first write about. There are even entire articles on this topic alone. It's because most bloggers think about this question.
What should you blog about?
What will be your topic of your blog? In most of the articles I read they all write the same thing, blog about something you won’t run out of things to write about.
How do you do that? Blog about something you can’t shut up about, something you’re passionate about.
Quick Lesson 3: Discover the thing you're most passionate about and blog on that subject.
I see your eyes rolling upwards as you think “What’s my passion?”. If you’re not thinking that, but instead know exactly what you’re going to write about, good for you!
If you’re still thinking about what your passion is, I can relate. Sometimes the passion is the thing you don’t think about at all because it comes so naturally to you.
Quick Lesson 4: What's the thing that people ask you about all the time? That's most likely your topic for the blog.
If you’re the go-to person for bunny breeding and all your friends ask you about this, well, then that’s your topic. Weird as that might seem. Even weirder is that you have so many friends asking you about it.
If you are interested in blogging about your life and daily stuff, you might be ok with a free account on blogger.com or wordpress.com.
But if you have any intention to try to make money with your blog I’d suggest you get your own hosting (don’t worry, I’ll talk about hosting soon).
Don’t get that wrong though. I’m not saying that lifestyle blogs won’t work. Because they do. Some of the biggest blogs in the world are lifestyle blogs.
I’m saying that if you’re going to blog about what you had for dinner and what your cat Fluffy did today, then you’re fine with free hosting. At least to start you off.
I can only write about the intended money-blogging part since I’ve never blogged about life stuff. If I claimed to know anything about that, I’d be lying and not helping you in the way I should.
There’s a lot of things to keep track of and understand when you think of starting a blog. It can be slightly overwhelming.
That’s why I’ve created this list of things to think about so that you can focus your attention elsewhere. I hope it helps.
I’m only talking about self-hosted platforms here. So if that’s not what you’re after, sorry.
There are a few different platforms you can use for blogging. Some are content management systems (CMS) that you can install different add-ons and stuff to make it blog-like.
Quick Lesson 5: You don't have to read this part. Simply use WordPress.org as a blogging platform.
Then there are a few real blogging platforms. Like WordPress.org. WordPress.org is the most popular platform for bloggers in the world. It’s also the one I use.
I will make this step even easier for you and remove your choice. Use WordPress.org. Don’t use it because it’s the most popular or because I tell you to use it.
Use it because it’s the best and easiest to use.
If you’re still reading it means you’re thinking of trying to make money on your blog.
Good! You’re in for a fun journey. Not an easy one, but a fun one.
The first thing I would recommend is that you get your own domain name.
You probably know this already, but I want to cover everything. A domain is the name that you put in the address field of your browser (masteryourfamilymoney.com for instance).
You can either get your domain through a service that specializes in domains. Or you can register your domain through the hosting provider I recommend (more on that later).
Quick Lesson 6: Registering a domain name through the host you pick is usually easier and saves you time since they set everything up at once.
Remember lesson one from above? Let me repeat.
Don’t. Get. Cute. Or. Funny.
When it comes to the domain, and this will relate to branding yourself too, be crystal clear. Let’s take my first domain again.
Pretend that you’re searching for information about how to create a budget. Let’s also pretend that I’m so lucky that my website ImagineFerrets.com shows up on the first page of Google (imaginary Yay!).
Would you click on that link or perhaps the one that has the domain moneycrashers.com. You’d probably go with the one that seems related to money, right?
Oh, as often as possible, try to get a .com domain.
Quick Lesson 7: Think your domain name through. A lot.
If you get stuck but have a general idea, it could be good to use a tool such as http://www.bustaname.com/ to get inspiration. You type a few keywords and it combines it and searches for possible available combinations in a domain.
Find a domain that’s as specific as possible. If you, for instance, will blog only about bunny breeding you should try to find a name that somehow relates to that.
Preferably in a way that other bunny breeding fans would be able to relate to.
Being specific is great if you know you can write a ton of posts on one given topic and around that topic. It can also be beneficial when it comes to search engines since you might have the search term in your domain name, which will help you.
Once you finally find the domain name you love it’s time to make sure it’s good. Ask your friends and family what they think of the name.
Nay. Strike that.
Ask them what they think of when they hear the name.
Quick Lesson 8: Validate your domain name with the help of others.
My advice is to not rush a name, pick something you can live with for a long time. See it as a marriage.
You have to be able to love your partner for hopefully the rest of your life. Do research on the name too so you know what related websites you can find and that you don’t come too close to a similar site.
A hosting provider (or host) is where you park your website physically. Or digitally. My brain just melted. Is it physically or not? Is a website is a physical thing…?
Anyway, the company that provides the servers where you have your blog is your hosting provider.
There is a lot of hosts out there. There are many things to consider when you’re choosing a hosting provider.
The three most important things to me are load speed, support, and uptime though. Research the hosting company’s load speed, uptime, and support before you pick one.
With load speed I mean the time it takes for a page to load for your visitors. Support is the company’s willingness and ability to help you, but it also relates to how accessible that support is. Uptime is how much your blog will be online.
Quick Lesson 9: Load speed, support, and uptime are key elements when it comes to picking a host.
You don’t want to be on a host that is impossible to get a hold of when your blog is down. The best hosts offer support 24/7 in one way or another.
Nor do you want to be on a host that is so slow that your visitor leaves before your article is loaded.
Keep in mind that we live in a world where we’re all developing something similar to attention deficit disorder. If we get bored for a second, we move to the next thing.
Assume that all your visitors have a severe case of something like ADD.
In my research for hosting company, I found that SiteGround (affiliate link) meets my criteria for a good host.
That was confirmed with their support a little while after I launched my blog.
I had an incident where I got my own IP blacklisted from their servers. I couldn’t reach my own site. I had apparently logged in too many times in a short period.
Their firewall assumed it was some sort of attack with so many requests in a short time. Good protection too, eh?
I contacted their chat support and they bumped the issue to technical support. Within 30 minutes they had it all sorted out. And they did it with a smile.
At least I like to think so because it was a very professional and pleasant chat.
Another thing you could look for is if there is support for the blogging platform you’re going to use. The most common blogging platform is, as mentioned, WordPress.org.
More and more hosts now have a one-click WordPress install which is handy. SiteGround has a really easy one-click to install WordPress and I had MasterYourFamilyMoney up and running in a matter of minutes.
Quick Lesson 10: Check if the host you pick has a one-click install of the blogging platform you will use. It will speed things up for you when you get started.
I put together this guide to get you started fast if you decide to go with SiteGround as a host. If you have another host in mind, skip this part. I've put it in a fancy colored box so it's easy to see where it ends.
You'll end up at a page that where you can see the following:
The three different options are the plans they offer. You can read more about each of the plans by clicking the "See Plan Details" under the box for each of the plans.
I personally use the StartUp version since this was a completely new blog when I signed up. If you have grand plans, you might need another plan. You know that better than me.
When you've decided on a hosting plan and you click on, you'll get to the page where you need to pick a domain name. That's easy now since you've done all that research, right?
The page looks like this:
If you're registering your domain for the first time, you chose to register a new domain. Type the domain in the box between www. and .com.
Press the proceed button.
The next page is rather straightfoward and you have to enter your billing information. The page looks like this:
Below the billing information you have a section that I suggest you take some time to review too. It contains the details about the plan you've picked and how much it will cost.
You also have some options to buy extra services, like domain privacy. The lower part looks like this:
Once you've read through the Terms of Service and agreed to them, it's time to pay.
Voila! You've got a host.
But we're not done yet.
You'll need to install the WordPress now. First click on the tab My Account:
Once on the account page. Click the red Go to cPanel button.
The cPanel can be overwhelming, but look for this button marked with a red square:
After you click that you need to enter a bunch of information that might seem confusing. SiteGround themselves offer a tutorial on how to go through the installer. You can find that by going here.
After you've gone through all this, you've got your blog set up. Now you can start making it look the way you want it.
Once you’ve done all the steps outlined in this post so far you’re the owner of your very first blog.
Now, the real work begins. I told you initially that this wasn’t going to be an easy journey, right?
I want to make sure you understand that I don’t say this to discourage you. I don’t. I only want you to know that this can be hard at times.
The next step that isn’t really related to setting up your blog.
Life is all about social media these days, right? Social media can bring you traffic to your blog if you know what you’re doing. But it can be a time suck without comparison too.
I suggest that you don’t focus on all the social media accounts when you start out. You can’t get a good functioning Facebook page at the same time as you try to get a gazillion followers on Twitter. All while you’re trying to pin 250 times a day on Pinterest.
Keep the phrase from J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece The Fellowship of the Ring in mind, as Bilbo puts it: “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
If you try to do everything at once, you’ll feel like Bilbo. For sure. And you’ll see crap results if any.
What I encourage you to do though is to make sure your name is available on the platforms you are going to use.
If you’re going for the notorious BunnyBreeding101, see if you can get it. Even if you don’t intend to use it right away.
This is a topic in itself that’s so huge that I can’t even pretend to be able to cover it, ever. But I wanted to give a quick tip here too.
I will do that the only way I know, through my own experience.
When I started writing posts I began with the introduction to the post, then worked my way through it step by step. That’s what I now think of the sixth grader way of writing.
You know when you had a subject that you had to write an essay on. You start and write and write to just get it done.
Phew, 500 words. Done, teacher!
If you’re awesome and very clear in your mind, I guess you can do that with blogging too.
But remember how I told you to always come from a place of trying to help your reader? Start there.
I start at the end. Before I start writing I ask myself “What’s the one thing I want people to take away from this post?”
Once I’ve answered that the headlines come easy. After the entire post is done, then I write the intro.
About the intro… make it juicy. This is where you hook your reader to read on. If you screw the intro up, you lose the reader.
There will be times when you doubt your decision, times when you want to give up and just stop.
I know that because I’ve felt that way myself.
But… There are also times when you love everything about what you do. The times when you get to create things because you love it. The times your words flow from you like a gentle spring stream and you feel like sunshine, simply because you’re you.
Focus on those times.
If this is your first blog you have a lot to figure out. No new career is easy when you start it.
Remember that this is what blogging is, a career.
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