You recently heard that people are actually make money, sometimes loads of money, by working from home running a blog (of all things), and now you are wondering how to start a blog of your own so you can make money too.While there are lots of ways you can start a blog for free and very easily through sites like Blogger, if you really want to start a blog that will make money and eventually become a profitable business venture, then you don’t want to use Blogger. Trust me. I used to be on Blogger and everyone, and I mean everyone, told me to switch over to a self-hosted wordpress.org website, as soon as possible.
But, it’s hard to make a commitment isn’t it? Hard to fork over money for something you aren’t 100% sure will actually give you a return for your investment. I get it. I was right there with you a little over two years ago! I’m a very frugal (tight-wad) person and have a DIY mentality. But, I believed that I had what it takes to cut it as a blogger.
I’ve come to realize that I could have grown my blog and had greater success sooner if I would have been more willing to spend some money along the way. Curse that darn adage of “it takes money to make money.” I wish it wasn’t true. Often though when you invest your hard-earned money into something, you are more dedicated to seeing it succeed.
Starting a blog the right way will save you more money, time, and gray hairs than starting a free blog and trying to switch over to a self-hosted website once you confirm you are actually awesome and ready to really grow as a blogger.
What is a self-hosted blog?
A self-hosted blog is a blog that you are paying for someone to run on their server. Because it is self-hosted, you are given much more control, flexibility, and autonomy.
You are the one coming up with company policies and services (minus basic rules of your hosting provider like no porn and nothing illegal). Your blog also cannot be removed at whim, like it could from Blogger when someone may complain about something on your site. You won’t lose your photos or other products. You can also freely and completely alter how your website is designed, laid out, and do things like add stores, shopping carts, membership-only areas, and so much more. Besides, some free hosting blogging platforms like wordpress.com (not wordpress.org) do not allow for any advertisements or other monetization.
You need to be self-hosted in order to make full-time income as a blogger. It gives you the most control over what you can do with your website in order to grow.
How do you start a blog the right way?
Pick a Domain Name
You need to come up with a great domain name, then you need to buy it.Selecting a domain name is hard. I can’t tell you what to name your blog, but I will give you some things to consider when coming up with a good one:
1. Keep it short. Short blog names are easier to remember and easier to type correctly.
2. Make sure it’s easy to spell. If you have a difficult to pronounce and spell last name, it may not be wise to use your last name as part of your blog title.
3. Lookout for any unintentional words in your url name. Because urls condense spaces, be leery of what words form when condensed together. Some people might be confused by a site named www.assoonasigo.com for instance. Is that supposed to be read “As So On Asigo” or is it “As Soon as I Go”? Plus, you have an alternative word for “butt” in the url.
4. Make it memorable. I have thought about changing my blog’s name from “What’s up Fagans?” to something that perhaps better suggests what it is I write about. However, so many people have told me that my blog name is memorable! So, I’ve stuck with it. There are hundreds of blogs with the words mom, mommy, mother, kid, play, learn, and so on, so originality and memorability is important. Because if a person reads a lot of blogs, they may not remember if your site was The Idealist Mom, The Realistic Mama, B-Inspired Mama, or Teach Mama. (All are great sites but could be mixed up!)
5. Think long-term: can it grow with you as you grow? If you name your blog something toddler-related, and then your toddlers enter grade school, and you no longer feel like writing about toddlers, you may need to rebrand in a few years’ time. Or if you name your food blog with a healthy title but later want to share desserts, you might have fans who revolt. Or if you name your blog 3 Boys and a Dog and then a few years later have an unexpected fourth child who happens to be a girl, or your dog dies, your name won’t really make sense.
6. Are the Social Media Handles Available? Ideally all of your social media handles will be the same and will be your blog’s name in some form. For instance, I am whatsupfagans on just about every social media channel, as well as email. It makes it easy for people to find and tag me!
Buy a Domain Name
I personally recommend buying a domain name separate from your hosting company. This allows you the freedom to easily move your domain name to another host if you should need to, and renew it easily, and keep it separate.
Go to a site like GoDaddy.com and make sure you domain name is available and then buy it!
However a lot of hosting companies will include domain registration for free when you sign up for hosting! It can be a great way to save a little extra money when starting a blog.
Buy a Hosting Plan
When choosing a hosting company, you really want a company that is going to offer a fast and reliable server and excellent customer service. No matter what host you select there will be (hopefully) small periods of time when your site will be down. It just happens. When it does, you want a company that is easy to contact and fast to remedy the situation and offer full tech support for whatever issues you may have.
And that is why BlueHost is an excellent company to buy hosting from! They are very affordable at only a few dollars a month too.
How to Start a Blog with BlueHost
Head over to BlueHost.com with my affiliate link and click “get started now”! I am going to take you step by step through the process so that you can start a blog right now! Be excited!! You are going to do this and you are going to be awesome and taking your first step toward being a successful money-making blogger. And hey, there is a money-back guarantee if you change your mind.
On the next screen they are going to ask you to select a BlueHost Hosting plan. They have different levels depending on your website’s needs. As a new blog, you will likely only need their starter plan. As you grow and need more speed or other options, you can easily upgrade to the Plus Plan. If you want to know more about what something is, simply click on the numbers in the column and a pop-up will appear to help explain what things are and how they work in its respective plan. Next, either sign up for a free domain with your hosting plan, or enter the domain name you already purchased somewhere else. On the next page it is going to ask for your personal information, followed by which account plan you want, as well as other signup options. The account plans are cheaper per month the longer the term. If you don’t want to set up hosting for 36 months right now (though at $3.95/month you are getting a great deal!) you can always choose a shorter length term and pay a bit more per month, but less up front. You can click “More information” to figure out if you should pay for some of the add-on options.
The Domain Privacy Protection is basically to keep your personal home information off the WhoIs registry, which is important if you don’t want people finding out where you live. However, you can set up a Post Office Box, which I would highly recommend anyway for purposes of having an email subscriber list, because you legally need to include your home address and contact information on your emails as well. If you do sign up for the Domain Privacy Protection, BlueHost’s information will show up instead of your own when people search for your website in the WhoIs database.
The Site Backup Pro is a good idea, but if you back-up your site yourself every so often, you won’t need this feature. But, if you don’t know how to back-up your website this may just make it easier for you so you don’t lose your data and information.
I will be sharing tips in a future blog post about Search Engine Optimization, and I don’t really think you need to pay for the Jumpstart. There are resources out there to help your site be indexed to Google, Yahoo, and Bing without having to pay anyone.
I also don’t think you need to pay for the SiteLock Security, unless you intend to do a lot of online selling through your blog (but that will probably come later). There are great free plug-ins available to help you filter out spam and protect your site. Once you have figured out exactly what you want in your package, fill out your billing info, and click submit!
Congratulations! You are now officially self-hosted with BlueHost!
How to Install WordPress on Your Blog
You will receive a confirmation email and be prompted to set up an account with BlueHost. Once you’ve created it, go ahead an login to Hosting.
This will take you to Bluehost’s C-Panel (short for Control Panel – it’s your blog’s hosting dashboard). Now it’s time to set up your blog! BlueHost makes it super easy to install WordPress onto your blog’s domain. Start by clicking on the “Install WordPress” button.Another screen will popup and prompt you to do a brand new installation of WordPress. After you click the green Start button a pop-up will appear where you’ll need to specify which domain you want WordPress to be installed on (some people have several domain names registered with BlueHost). Next you will need to select “show advanced option” and choose an Admin username. I HIGHLY recommend that you do not use “Admin” or anything close to it as your Admin log-in name. Hackers always try variations of Admin when trying to hack into a blog. They also try your blog’s name, so don’t use that either. Create a great password as well, and protect your new blog from hackers. And finally you will install WordPress onto your blog!
Congratulations! WordPress is now installed on your blog!
Log-in to WordPress and Your New Blog
Follow the instructions on how to access your website in the email they send you.
In case they don’t send it to you, type in your blog’s url in your search bar followed by “/wp-admin” so that it looks like this: “http://example.com/wp-admin”. Hit enter. This will show up:
Enter the WordPress Admin Username and password you just created and click “Log In.”
When you login you will be on your WordPress Dashboard. This is the lifeblood of your blog and how you will tweak, edit, and create all that is your blog. Get to know this dashboard. It will take some time to do so, but it will come soon enough.
Design Your Blog
Now you have a blog, but it looks extremely boring.
You need to choose a theme to install into your blog. A blog theme will determine many of the visual aspects of your blog including color palettes, navigation bars, formats (magazine style, one-column, two-column, three-column, etc), and other little details.
There are many free themes available for WordPress. However, I don’t recommend them. I did the free themes for several months after I began my blog, because, again, I’m Miss Frugality, and I was used to everything being free over on Blogger, and didn’t yet understand why I should pay $100 for a fancy blog design. But, it was a mistake to go so many long months with a free theme.
The reason? Searchability and useability.
After I installed the Genesis framework onto my blog my search traffic increased. For whatever reason, maybe because it’s very mobile-friendly, my blog posts were more searchable on Genesis. Many people told me this was true, and I saw it firsthand.
The other great reason to install the Genesis Framework is so you can more easily customize and add code to your blog. I am not a tech-savvy person who knows a lot of coding. The Genesis Framework makes it much easier to add elements and html to certain parts of your blog because of their “Simple Hooks” feature. It’s awesome.
The Genesis Framework makes it easy to switch themes if you so desire as the framework stays the same, and only the “child theme” changes. It means less reworking and re-tweaking should you choose to change up your blog layout or design. The Framework is also stays compatible with new WordPress updates, which means your site has a far less chance of breaking.
Once you have the Genesis Framework installed there are lots of great and beautiful themes to choose from! StudioPress offers both the Genesis Framework and themes together in a bundle package if you don’t have Genesis installed yet (which you won’t). It’s a great way to save money right from the start on a great design as the Framework by itself is $59.95. A Theme + Genesis Framework will most likely cost between $79.95 and $129.95.
Having a professional looking website will help your blog be successful. You aren’t blogging as a hobby. You just spend money paying for a domain name and hosting so you are a serious blogger now, so you need to take your presentation seriously right from the start and stop being quite so DIY and frugal (like I was).
I am currently using the Foodie Pro theme here on What’s up Fagans? (modified and customized by Stephanie Jones of Jornie.com). I was previously using the Beautiful Pro Theme. Another popular blog theme is the Modern Blogger Theme. But, it doesn’t matter what I like, it matters what you like. Explore their themes and see what you like and how you would envision your content in it.
If you don’t like any of the StudioPress Themes, I also love a lot of Restored 316 Designs‘s feminine themes that also work with the Genesis Framework. You’ll still have to buy and install the Genesis Framework first, but Restored 316 Designs are only $50 and they really are gorgeously feminine.
StudioPress provides great instructions on how to properly install the framework and any child theme. If you need more help they have a PDF: Click here to download The Genesis Guide for Absolute Beginners.
And that’s how you start a blog the right way, the professional way, the way that will set you up to start making money as a blogger.
I will be sharing more professional blogging tips, especially for beginners, so be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss my next blogging post.