I get emails and personal messages all the time from friends, family, and strangers asking how to start a blog and make money by blogging. While there is no simple answer, I will do the best I can to share what I have done. After all, this web space is big enough for all of us and I would love to help as many people as I can learn how to start a blog and make money. While I can't promise post after post on how to start a blog or what you can do to earn money, I will share everything I have learned over the past seven years. Hopefully, it will help you get started.
Let's start with the basics: How To Start A Blog:
[Step 1] Brainstorming:
Ask yourself these questions:
Why do you want to start a blog?
What kind of content do you want to share with the world?
Who is your target audience or demographic?
Will you have a niche or will you leave your blog open to sharing a little of everything?
Is the blog a business or a hobby? <----- This is a crucial question. Much like making crafts and selling them a hobby is fun and can make you a little side money but you wouldn't sink a ton or time, energy, and money into it. A business, on the other hand, is something very different. You will have long term goals, a mission statement, and a plan to get there.
After you've answered these questions, you should be ready to get to work.
Note: If you're like me and like everything on paper, I have included a Becoming A Blogger - Brainstorming Questions printable for you! You can also click the image above.
Can you believe it? It's another printable for you! Get your Becoming A Blogger- Setting Up Your Blog Checklist here. You can also click on the image to download this printable checklist!
[Step 2] Setting Up Shop:
1. Choose A Domain Name: This sounds much easier than it is. I have always purchased all of my domains through GoDaddy. Why? Well, simply put it's always really easy to find a GoDaddy coupon code. I have NEVER paid full price for a domain name. So you shouldn't have to either! Choosing a domain name is a vital part of starting a blog. I made a few mistakes when I started my first blog and I still regret it to this day. If you plan to go "niche" make sure it's something you really want to do for the long haul. A name like Faithfully Frugal & Free isn't something you can get over easily when you stop posting deals. I had readers that would get mad if I shared something expensive on my blog. No Kidding! If you can go niche while keeping it generic enough to change directions five years down the road I would highly recommend that if you're not 100% set on your niche, or plan to talk about things that don't have a lot to do with that niche. Domain names are fairly cheap and probably one of the smallest investments you will make for your business.
COST: The most I have ever paid for a domain name is $9.99 BUT if you are purchasing a highly sought after domain name you can expect to pay much more. I think the least I have paid was $4.99. You have to renew your domains every year.
2. Choose A Host: If you are brand new to blogging then you probably have no idea what a host is, so I'm going to make it super simple. Blogging is like writing an awesome children's book. Your book will have words, pictures, and possibly even a bookmark (documents, music files, links). Now imagine a book with no cover. The cover is what stores the pages, keeps everything in order, and keeps your amazing fairytale from getting covered in early morning coffee. In the simplest of terms, your host is that book cover. Or you know, a big filing cabinet in the sky. Your host will store all of your files on a server (not located in the sky), and they run automated back-ups, service, and many other tasks to help you keep your website running smoothly. I would never in a million years recommend opening a FREE blog. If you are serious about starting a blog and making money, don't even consider it!
So who do I recommend? Well, I'm glad you asked. I have used quite a few hosts over the past few years and the only one I would recommend is A Small Orange. They are fantastic in every way! If my site goes down and I send them a tweet, it's back up in 10-15 minutes. They are a smaller company and they understand the value of customer service. They seriously rock in every way. Oh and keep an eye out for A Small Orange coupon codes as well. You can choose any host you want, but I beg you, stay away from Host Gator. They are one of the worst hosts I have ever worked with. COST: A Small Orange has a few different hosting options:
Tiny: $35 per year - I would not recommend this because it's just not enough storage for photos and files.
Small: $5 per month - Great for new bloggers (you can always upgrade)
Medium: $10 per month - This is what I use. I pay by the year so it's only $100 for the year. As you will see below, I'm only using about 1GB of the 15GB I have. So I'm happy with that for now.
Large: $20 per month
UPDATE: I HATE A SMALL ORANGE!
I am no longer with A Small Orange and I hate that I ever recommend them. After using their hosting services for over two years I finally left in June of 2016. I moved to SERVOUSLY and while I am paying a lot more than I did with A Small Orange, I will never go back to any host affiliated with EIG (they also own Host Gator). ASO wasn't always owned by EIG but after the purchase, everything went downhill. My site went down for almost a full day and then went down every day for a week. ASO did nothing to help and lost a lot of bloggers. When it comes to hosting you get what you pay for so go ahead and pay more than $35 a year!
I went from paying $15 a month to $45 a month, but that's how important it was to me, and I'm about to upgrade to the $65 per month plan because my traffic has increased. If this is a business, treat it like one!
When you're first starting out you can afford $10 per month, it's a worthwhile investment, please trust me!
Here are the SERVOUSLY price breakdowns for you:
Basic: $10 per month
Premium Hosting: $15 per month
Premium Plus Hosting: $25 per month
Super Hosting: $45 per month
Prime Hosting: $65 per month
Prime Plus Hosting: $110 per month
Mega Hosting:$250 per month
3. Point Your Name Servers To Your Host: This sounds complicated, but it's so easy. If you purchase your name server from GoDaddy and your hosting from A Small Orange, you will need to point your name server to A Small Orange in your GoDaddy Account. Log into your GoDaddy account and click manage on the Domains line.
- Log in to your GoDaddy account and click Manage on the Domains line.
- Click the Settings gear tab on the domain you are editing nameservers on and select Manage DNS.
- Under the Settings tabs you will see Nameservers that look something like this:
- To edit them click Manage under your current nameservers. Then select Custom and Add Nameserver.
- Enter your new nameservers and click OK.
- You will want to edit those and change them to read:
- Changes can take up to 48 hours, but they usually don't. 🙂 If you run into any trouble. A Small Orange will be more than happy to help you out!
Once the changes take effect you can download your blog to your server. All you have to do is go into your cPanel account and install WordPress. You could choose other platforms, but I recommend WordPress because you can do anything with it. If you've ever used a platform like Blogger or Tumblr you may be afraid of WordPress, but I promise, you will be using it like a pro in no time. If I can do it, you can too!
You will find your cPanel login info in an email, be sure to bookmark this so you can find it easily. Here's what it will look like on your end.
Type WordPress into the Search bar and click on it to load the install page.
Select your domain from the drop-down box and fill in all required information. You don't have to choose a theme at this point. You can wait until you're in WordPress to work on that.
NOTE: At the bottom of the page it will have a place to add an email to send instructions to, be sure to enter your email and select that. Also, be sure to write down your username and password.
To log in to WordPress you can use the link from the email and you can always use http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin.
Total Cost To Date: Anywhere from $30 - $40 (more if you choose to pay for an entire year of hosting, but cheaper in the long run).
Congratulations, you have now set up your very first blog. That wasn't so hard, was it?
In the next post How To Start A Blog And Make Money [Part 2] we will go over how to complete the next steps and finish working on the checklist above. Before you can start making money you need to make sure your blog is ready to go, then you can start posting and earning money. We will focus on different ways you can earn money blogging. Expect to see more info on advertising, sponsored posts, and monetization. Blogging and earning money is not an overnight thing, but with commitment and hard work, you can get there!
If you found this post helpful please share it with others! Thanks 🙂
Want to skip ahead to Part 3? Check out How To Set Up Google Analytics On Your Blog here.
*This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something using me as a referral, I want you to know that I truly appreciate you! Oh, and you rock!!