You’re here because you’ve heard all of the stories… Men and Women working from home, getting free products from big name brands, making money just by typing out some words on the internet. It sounds super glorious, right? Problem is… if everyone could do it, everyone would. Not everyone knows how to start a blog the right way or what tools and information you need before you even draft your first post. So how do you start a blog that actually makes money?
There are 5 important steps to take before you even begin thinking about writing that first post. These 5 steps are key if you want to start a blog that makes you money.
1. You need to decide what you want to blog about
This is the absolute FIRST thing you need to do. If you’re a multi-passionate person like myself, I realize that it can be difficult to narrow down a topic… but it’s really important that you first decide what your niche is – what you want to blog about and who you want reading your blog.
It can be tempting to think that you can just blog about beauty, travel, and parenthood in the same blog – and in some ways, you can. But you should decide on a true focus by determining who would read your blog. If you are looking to share your experiences with other parents, then that’s your focus and should be the spin you put into your content.
2. Choose a name for your blog
A lot of new bloggers agonize over this step. It always seems like all the good blog names are taken. Don’t drive yourself crazy over the name of your blog – it’s super easy to change down the road if you need to. Instead, focus on something that fits well with what you’re going to blog about. Just remember that this name should reflect what you are going to write about.
Try using the Thesaurus to find different words that express the meaning behind your blog. It’s a fun way to find new ideas for a blog name while using a less common word – often making it easier to secure a unique domain name.
Things to consider when choosing a domain name:
- Check to see if the domain name is available – particularly as a .com extension. I like buying domains from NameCheap – they run frequent sales and have great every day prices as well.
- Is the name available on social media networks? I love NameChk for this – it’s a free tool that checks for your user name across dozens of networks.
- Make sure your name is easy to remember and spell. Type out the domain name in all lowercase. Does it look strange? Is it still easy to read? Make sure it doesn’t read as something… well, something else.
- Do your research! Are there other blogs or businesses with similar names? Will you be confused with someone else? Be sure to search for any trademarks too!
Pro Tip: Buy your domain name separate from your web hosting (we’ll get to that in a moment). Yes, you can buy it from your web host, but it’s highly recommended that you keep these separate.
3. Buy Website Hosting
If you want a profitable blog, you need to be on a self-hosted platform. My website runs on self-hosted WordPress software. That means I have purchased my own hosting space and uploaded the free WordPress software to it. It’s the best option because it gives you complete control over your content, how that content is displayed, and the ability to monetize your blog in whatever ways you want.
Other platforms are often limiting in their functionality, preventing you from the best forms of monetization, your search engine optimization (SEO) results, and access to some pretty awesome customization including premium themes, like the one I use for this website.
So who has the BEST hosting? After over a decade of experience between 4 different hosting companies, I can tell you hands down… It’s Siteground.
Why Choose Siteground?
- They are incredibly affordable with pricing starting at under $4/month.
- Their customer service is stellar – Live Chat is always available and super fast.
- I have been a happy customer for over 2 years now with 99% up time (there was that 10 minutes I was down).
- They don’t try to sneak in any extra charges or upgrades – your plan comes with what you need or you can add it in for free.
Signing up is really easy – there’s only a few steps!
Step 1: Decide on a Plan
You probably don’t need more than the StartUp plan and you can always upgrade later. I like this plan for those who are new to blogging because it’s super affordable. If you buy an annual plan (which I highly recommend), the cost comes out to $3.95 per month. That’s less than $50 for the whole year!
Step 2: Enter Your Domain
As previously mentioned, you should really keep your web hosting and domain name separate. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest buying your domain name through NameCheap.
Step 3: Set up your account and enter payment details
This is where you will create your account including your login information and payment details for your account.
Step 4: Choose a Purchasing Period
A little tip for you… Invest in the future of your blog and purchase however many years of hosting you can afford. No, I in no way further benefit as an affiliate. The $3.95/mo price is based on an annual package and it’s an introductory price – meaning, as soon as that time has passed, the regular monthly price of your hosting will be $11.95!
Cost Options (without any add-ons):
- One Year: $47.40
- Two Years: $94.80
- Three Years: $142.20
Pro Tip: The option SG Site Scanner is a service that monitors your website and lets you know if you’ve been hacked. It’s a nice extra, but not necessary as there are free WordPress plugins that perform the same job.
3. Install WordPress
As if I didn’t have enough things to love Siteground for… They make installing WordPress soooo easy. There’s nothing special you need to download or any fancy tools necessary. You can do it all from within your Siteground cPanel. Just log into your account, click over to your “My Accounts” tab, and click on the red cPanel button to get started.
Once you’re in your cPanel, look for the section labeled “Autoinstallers” and click on the WordPress logo. This nifty tool will guide you through the install (and honestly, do most of the work for you). Click on the “Install Now” link as shown below.
How to complete your install:
- Select https:// – All websites should utilize a secure connection. For more info on setting up your SSL certificate with Siteground, click here.
- Choose your URL from the dropdown list. If you purchased a domain elsewhere, you need to add it. Here’s the easy to follow tutorial for setting up an AddOn domain.
- Leave the Directory blank.
- Insert a Site Name and Description. You can always change these later in your WordPress dashboard.
- Decide on an Admin user name. It should NOT be “Admin”, the name of your blog, or your first name for sake of security.
- Turn on Loginizer – It’s a nice, free plugin that helps secure your website by limiting the number of login attempts.
- Click the Install Button – Taaa Daaa!
4. Choose a WordPress theme
There are no shortage of awesome, totally free WordPress themes available these days. You can access them via your WordPress dashboard under Appearance >> Themes >> Add New Theme. Siteground has a great tutorial that shows you how to select a theme and even make some minor changes.
Want something a little more… special? I love custom, premium themes and you will too! Check out a few of my favorite WordPress theme designers:
5. Decide how you want to monetize
My favorite (and most successful way) of monetizing is through affiliate marketing. Affiliate programs are a great way to incorporate products and services you love into your writing and get paid for it every time someone uses your link to make a purchase.
Check out my post of high-paying affiliate programs for bloggers. There’s no shortage of programs that you can get involved with. The best part is that you can start just by incorporating products you already use and love into your blog posts. I’m especially a fan of Ultimate Bundles because they have easily doubled my affiliate income. The bundles are easy to sell at excellent price points, and there’s something for bloggers of most niches.
Other forms of monetization exist as well… although some of them are more lucrative than others.
That’s it! You’re ready to start blogging!
You’re now the proud owner of a blog built on the proper foundation for earning money. It’s time to start blogging. Check out this tutorial by Siteground to learn how to write your first post.
Have questions? Want even more blogging tips? – Join my Facebook group, Hexagon Connection.