Are you searching for a way to express yourself, but you’re a bit shy, or perhaps you’re simply a fan of the written word? Then you should start a blog. Additionally, you also want to make some side hustle money in the long run? Well, take a few moments of your time to find out why starting a blog could be the perfect solution and how to start a blog and make it profitable.
How much does it cost to start a blog?
I paid less than $100 to get Seller at heart up and running. That included:
- One year of hosting with Hostgator
- Domain name registration with GoDaddy
That’s it, that’s all you need to start a blog and you can start with less than I did. I took $7,95 a month hosting plan but you can choose the Hatchling Plan package at only $2.75 a month.
Why start a blog in the first place?
To be honest, starting your own blog isn’t a business which will become profitable overnight. That’s why I believe that writing should already be one of your passions. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to be a published author, or even particularly gifted in this niche, but you have to be willing to try your best to succeed. Furthermore, if you don’t consider yourself an expert on any special topic, don’t worry about it. It’s oftentimes said that the best way to learn something new is by doing it.
So, just do it (Nike – circa 1988) and you’ll be surprised at how much useful stuff you learn (HTML, web design, SEO, plugins, how websites work, IP addresses, hosting) if you really apply yourself to blogging and you’ll be surprised at how many people are impressed that you have a blog. Your blog makes you a more interesting person to other people (of course if your blog doesn’t look like some website from 1995). That being said, even if you never make a dime, the things you learn get by starting a blog are invaluable.
Just how complicated is it?
In today’s world, it’s so easy that even your elderly neighbor can do it. Seriously, it only takes a couple of clicks to set up the whole thing, and in this article, we’ll try to provide you with the most clear and concise quite on how to do so.
Step #1 Choose your desired niche
The best thing about blogging is that your imagination is the only thing that’s holding you back. Some experts claim that the best way to earn money from blogging is to select a niche that the people would want to read. There’s only one problem with it: everyone’s already doing it! Instead of following this tactic, be your own boss. Seriously, the whole concept of blogging is to write about something that interests you primarily, and everything else will come soon enough. So, whether you decide to write about your favorite sports team, personal experiences, or DIY projects, it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re happy with your content.
In short, it’s important that you choose a niche that you are passionate about because it takes quite a lot of time to build up content and traffic but be aware that you should think about your readers, they don’t care that you have a passion – no one does, to be honest! Everyone cares about two things – can you solve a problem they have and can you offer enormous value?
How to find the right niche when you’re not sure what to blog about
In general, the best advice I got was to find something people are passionate about or have a good working knowledge of, whether it’s their favorite sports team, finding a way to make money, living a healthier lifestyle, or anything of that nature. There are several tools which can help you with your research. One of such is definitely the Keyword Planner. You’ll find it in the AdWords section of Google. Creating a new account will only take a few moments of your time, and the results can be impressive. You’ll want to look into the searches with the highest volume where the competition isn’t too strong. This quest may take a while, but trust me, once you see your opportunity, you’ll immediately recognize it.
Step #2 Try to stick to it
To some, this might seem like an unnecessary thing to even mention but bear with me for a moment. There are many types of people in the world, but if there’s one thing we all hate is when someone is trying to act like a smartass. There’s a fine line of giving people great advice, and overwhelming them with your ideas.
To put it more clearly, people don’t like to get all of their advice from one place. If you have multiple interests, and enough time on your hands, there’s nothing wrong with opening two or three blogs, but try to preserve a tight niche for each and every one of those. For instance, very few people like to read about politics and sports at the same time. DIY gardening tips with a beauty blog? I don’t think so. The key to every successful business is giving the people what they want, and if you make your platform known for one thing, they will come to you in their moment of need.
By the way, it’s easier to market a blog when you write for a specific demographic.
Step #3 It’s all about that catchy domain
Having the best content in the world isn’t gonna do much when your domain name is terrible, trust me, I’ve been through this. Before you start to brainstorm about the potential name, I’d like to advise you to stick with the .com as a preferred ending. Avoid words that are hard to spell, and try to keep it short and sweet. I highly recommend GoDaddy.com to find an affordable domain for a couple of bucks.
ProTip: Go for a brandable domain name instead of keyword rich domain names such are best online games dot com and I suggest you buy your domain separately from hosting.
Step #4 Hosting
There are plenty of websites which you can use for this purpose, but my choice would always be the HostGator.com Why? First of all, it’s pretty affordable. As you can see from the image below, at Hostgator.com you can choose from 3 different options, called Hatchling, Baby and Business plan. Each one has its advantages, so choose according to your personal preference. What’s also great is the fact that there are plenty of discounts throughout the year, so make sure to check on it from time to time. In the very beginning, we advise you to choose the Hatchling Plan package at only $2.75 a month, and you can easily upgrade it later on.
ProTip: Never go for a cheap hosting, it’s one of those things where you get what you pay for.
When it comes to a domain name, there are also two options here. The user has a chance to register a brand new domain, or you can select the other option, and type in the domain name you already own. Once again, buy domain name separately from hosting – don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
As we previously mentioned, you don’t have to run only one blog at a time, and HostGator is great because it allows you to choose the number of blogs you want to take on during the registration. The billing cycle can also be modified, so make sure to choose the option you like the most. At the very end of this step, you’ll need to set up a security PIN. It has to contain at least 4 and at most 8 characters, all consisting of numbers. Make sure to remember this PIN, as you’ll need to enter it in case you want to get in touch with the Customer Support.
The next step is pretty clear, and it’s all about your personal information. Users are dealt with options to go through PayPal or credit cards, and we advise you to go with PayPal. This way, you’ll be able to easily monitor your costs with only a couple clicks of the mouse.
Upon choosing additional services, which include Site Backup and HackAlert Monitoring (both of which come free of charge), you’ll see this message right here. It goes without saying that coupons can sometimes save you some big bucks, so don’t be afraid to use it.
Step #5 WordPress Installation
No, you don’t have to be a computer whiz to get things done. In fact, installing WordPress has become so easy that even a child can do it. You think we’re exaggerating? Let’s take you step by step. After you download and click on the setup, here’s what you’re gonna get. As demonstrated by the image, you’re gonna need to select the “One-Click Installs“ option.
With the first step done, the next move would be to click on the WordPress icon.
Remember that catchy domain name you have chosen? Well, now it’s time to use it. Select the domain for installation, choose the desired directory and click “Next“.
The only thing there is to do is to enter all of the data. It includes the Blog Title, your personal information, Email you’re gonna use as Admin and so on. Click Install, and now you’re getting really close to the finish line.
WordPress is awesome because of its reliability and flexibility, as it allows users to make as many changes as they like. Trust me, gone are the days of generic websites that all look and feel the same. How can you make it more personal and up to your taste? Let’s get right to it with our next step!
Step #6 Choose a theme
You will probably get the best results if you hire a professional to design your website, but truth be told, this is a pretty expensive option, and we wouldn’t recommend it to absolute beginners. Instead, what you can do is browse the internet in search of some awesome, and free, WordPress themes. There are many forums where you can choose from, and make sure to visit at least a few before you make your final decision.
Logging into your account is fairly easy. All you have to do is enter your Username and Password. The pop-up window looks kinda like this. Naturally, just in case you forget your Pass, there’s a way to get it back, but try your best to remember it, and always choose a complicated one, as you wouldn’t want to have your website stolen.
OK, so you’ve managed to successfully log in. Great! Still, there are a couple of loose ends to take care of, before you start typing away. Right off the bat, you’ll see a dedicated option which says “Customize your site“. By clicking on this option, you’ll also be able to apply the theme that you chose earlier.
There are also plenty of themes that aren’t free and if you have enough $$ you should invest in a good theme like from Elegant Themes (this blog is Divi from Elegant Themes). While they tend to look a bit more professional, compared to their free counterparts, there are more benefits to them as well. Free themes give you some options when it comes to customizing, such as choosing between different colors or putting a list of related articles near the bottom. Most of these plug-ins come free of charge, but sometimes, if you want to switch up a layout entirely, you’ll quickly realize that you’ll need to learn some coding in order to do so. Paid themes usually come with better support in that department, and the sheer number of available plug-ins is oftentimes far superior as well. Still, if you have a natural gift, and a willingness to explore, you can achieve incredible results with free themes as well. Just arm yourself with patience, and you’ll be good to go.
Step #7 Improve your blog with some plugins
These are mine top 8 “Must-Have” WP Plugins on your Blog:
- Akismet Anti-Spam (probably the best way in the world to protect your blog from spam)
- Contact Form 7 (ordinary contact form)
- Google Analytics Dashboard (Displays Google Analytics Reports and Real-Time Statistics in your Dashboard)
- Jetpack (enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users)
- Really Simple SSL (plugin to make your site SSL proof)
- Yoast SEO (all-in-one SEO solution for your blog)
- Shareaholic (social sharing buttons)
- WP Super Cache (Very fast caching plugin for WordPress)
Step #8 Give me some content!
Ah, finally, we come to the fun part! Still, I cannot stress enough just how important design is, so do your homework first, and only then start writing!
When it comes to blogging, there are many different directions you can choose from. Some people like to connect their social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, and include links and their own images in the text. If you choose to download images you found online, make sure to inform yourself of copyright rules. There are more than a handful of posts dealing with this thematic, so you should get the hang of it fairly quickly.
When it comes to writing, there are some things to consider:
- Make sure that your grammar is on point.
- Use a lot of cool images, and perhaps even some GIFs.
- Stick to a particular niche, and don’t wander all over the place.
- Try to get straight to the point, no one has the time to read through pages of a boring intro.
- Don’t be afraid to express yourself, and be natural.
- Evolve over time, and see what content your readers like to view the most.
These are only some general tips, and there are plenty more of those around, but the first step of doing is actually trying. We have no doubt that you’ll build your own style over time.
ProTip: Install Grammarly extension (free grammar checker)
Step #8 Promote like crazy
If you don’t promote your blog, don’t expect it to grow. In July I was on a vacation and see what happened to my traffic.
To some people, this may seem kinda funny, but working on self-promotion has become a vital part of any business. It doesn’t matter if you own a tire shop or a supermarket, or whether you’re into blogging, marketing is everything!
Now, when it comes to blogging, there are a few ways to put yourself in the best position to succeed. Search engine optimization is definitely something to think about. Start a blog without one, and chances are you won’t get very far. One plug-in may help you a lot in the beginning. We are talking about Yoast. If you constantly write content that ranks high in SEO, Google will eventually recognize it, and your website will be ranked higher in the chain.
Naturally, this is only a part of the solution. Driving people to your site is actually a far more important task. Pick one or two social media platforms, and try to be as active as possible there. We don’t advise you to choose all of them, as you simply won’t have enough time to fully dedicate to any of ’em. One additional free way of driving up the ranks is guest blogging. Connect with some people from your industry, and drive the audience to one another. Trust me, it’s been proven to work on many occasions. Finally, after some time, you might want to consider paid advertising. Still, if you’re a beginner, there’s no need to go there yet. Get a good base of readers, and then consider about this move. It can be a potentially awesome solution.
Step #9 How to make money?
Hey, writing a personal blog sure is fun and everything, but what’s in it for me? As always, that’s where monetization comes into play. Most people choose the Adsense by Google as their primary option, and while it’s pretty reliable, chances are you simply won’t earn a ton of money this way. Trust me, ad revenue is probably the least likely to make you any dime at all.
ProTip: Stay away from any kind of display ads until you begin to hit tremendous traffic…at least 50k/month.
The other option would be to sell Amazon products. If you, by chance, have your own product, that’s where the money truly is, but I understand that’s not for everyone.
The entirely different direction includes writing E-books, and selling them through Amazon. It might sound farfetched, but there are plenty of success stories out there to prove you wrong.
My choice of making money is affiliate marketing. Some links on my blog and in this post are affiliate links. These links do not cost you anything extra, and if you purchase through them I will get a commission.
Step #10 Don’t forget those email addresses!
Building up a huge social media page takes a lot of time and effort, but sometimes, those platforms can change the algorithm, and all of your efforts could be gone to waste. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to find another way to reach out to your readers. One of such ways includes building up a list of email addresses. You can do this through a special pop-up landing page by offering them a deal they cannot refuse. This usually means offering a free or discounted E-book or possibly a product you’re selling. The possibilities are endless, and it’s up to you how you’re gonna use them.
Step #11 Never give up!
We aren’t advising you to constantly bang your head against the wall, hoping that things will magically change. Instead, try to look at things from a neutral perspective, and try out different solutions. See what’s working, and stick to it. It’s the beginning, the progress might be slow, but guess what, that happened to a ton of people who are killing the game right now! Truth be told, you might not succeed on the first go, but the knowledge you gain through trial and error is immeasurable. Find a formula that works for you, regain your composure, and give it another try. What’s holding you back?