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Before I begin this tutorial on how to start a blog that could eventually make you money, I’m first going to tell you that making money blogging is hard work. Not only do you need to love writing, you also will need to learn and implement strategies such as email marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization.
You’ll be your own boss, editor and graphic designer, and you’ll have to mentally prepare yourself that you won’t make good money right away.
There’s so much to learn about when it comes to ad networks, affiliate marketing and creating your own products as ways to make money blogging.
Personally, I’m really glad I made the decision to start a blog because it allows me to pursue my journalistic love of interviewing people and writing about their lives. Plus, I can express my own opinions and write about my own life – wow! I’ve really enjoyed learning about every facet of blogging and learning to be my own boss, and it’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever tried.
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If ANY of the below steps are confusing, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll happily work with you to walk you through the steps of setting up a blog.
So, if you’re ready to hop on board, here we go!
Why you should choose self-hosting when setting up a blog
If you’ve dabbled in blogging before, you’ve probably heard of sites like wordpress.com, blogger.com and weebly.com, which let you quickly start up a free blog. I’ve used two of these blogging sites, but only to express my pure love of writing. These are called hosted blogs and are very, very hard to monetize. These are great if you are writing just for friends and family in a diary-type format and don’t want to worry about hosting and designing your own blog.
But if you’re serious about monetizing your blog, you should go with a self-hosted blog and Worldpress.org.
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Here is a great article about the difference between the two platforms: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which is better?
If you host your own blog, you’re completely in charge of it. You can do anything you want with it in terms of design, formatting and monetization. You’ll also be in charge of backing it up regularly and ensuring your site is secure.
I recommend going with a hosting company called Siteground, which offers a hosting plan for just $3.95 per month for a total beginning blogger.
The StartUp plan is good if you’re just setting up a blog, and if you get traffic later on you can always upgrade. I started out with Bluehost as a hosting platform, but think Siteground’s customer service goes above and beyond. Every and any question I’ve ever asked is answered quickly and efficiently via online chat.
Choosing your domain name when setting up a blog
Once you figure out which hosting platform you want to use for blogging, it’s time to choose a domain name. Domain names cost about $16 per year through Siteground, which is a steal. You can also purchase your domain name from a site like GoDaddy.com, but then you’ll have to go through the hassle of connecting that domain name with Siteground.
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Before picking a name, think through and brainstorm domain names.
Try to choose a domain name with a .com ending rather than .net or .co. Those domain name endings just confuse people, since .com is the ending people are used to typing in.
Finding the right domain name can be a real drag. I had endless lists and ideas before I chose The Wayward Home, and ran ideas by my family and friends ad nauseam. It’s good to come up with a name that isn’t super long, is easy for people to remember and accurately represents your niche.
If you need some helping figuring out if your domain name is available, use this handy tool.
Once you have your domain name chosen, then it’s time to upload WordPress.org.
Install WordPress.org on your hosting account
If you’re using Siteground for hosting your blog, you can use their handy WordPress wizard to get set up.
Once you log into the “Customer area” for the first time, you’ll see a pop-up which asks if you want to start a new website on your account.
Enter the log-in information that you want to use for your new blog, then hit “Confirm.”
Congrats! You now are ready to pick a theme.
Choosing a theme for your new blog
A theme is what makes your blog look the way it does. There are tons of themes out there to choose from, and you can spend hours browsing through which look you want for your website. Many themes are free, but I chose to go with Elegant Themes, or Divi, for my blogging site.
I chose this platform because it’s easy to manipulate, and comes with a visual builder if you need help organizing your blog. I went even further and installed the Extra Theme as its meant to work as a news type theme which works really well with categories.
I wrote more about why I like Divi in this post: How I built my blog using Divi as a total beginner
But take a look around for yourself and see which theme works right for you. No matter which theme you pick, there will be a learning curve as you figure out exactly how to use it. Don’t get frustrated! Usually, themes come with documentation and training videos to help you out. Divi has a really good support ticket system, and I’ve probably asked them 10,000 questions by now.
A lot of bloggers I admire really like the Genesis theme, so you might want to check that out.
Once you pick your theme, you next upload that theme straight into your WordPress Dashboard.
Go to Appearance —>Themes
Then go up to “Add New”
Then, you’ll have the opportunity to upload a WordPress theme you’ve already downloaded to your desktop, or you can browse an entire library of WordPress themes right through this dashboard.
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This is amazing because you can click through and see how the themes look in a “demo” of a website. I’ve spent way too much time looking at themes to figure out which one was right for me. Don’t stress too much as you can always change it later and your content will move right over to the new them.
WordPress will download and install your theme for you, and when you’re ready to start using it, simply click “Activate” and you can go about learning how to use the theme to upload a logo, create a menu, your about page, and your very first post!
I waited until I had about eight posts on my blog to publish it, but it really doesn’t matter what you decide to do.
Start learning about blogging!
If you’ve never used a WordPress.org blogging site before, it’s going to take some getting used to. There are a lot of YouTube videos that explain the WordPress dashboard and teach you how to make pages and posts on your blog and the difference.
Again, blogging isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme.
There’s a lot to learn about advertising and affiliate marketing.
I bought a course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing right out the gate because I wanted to have knowledge in place before I started using affiliate marketing. This course is run by a woman who makes over $50,000 per month in affiliate marketing alone. Michelle Shroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents is amazing and I’d highly recommend her course.
If you want to learn more about Michelle, how she got started blogging, and why she blogs and travels full-time in her RV, check out this post: How to make money blogging: Tips from a 28-year-old millionaire
Also, remember to start a mailing list right off the bat. This helps you collect subscriber emails to notify them of your latest posts, products, offers. etc. Having a mailing list is really fun because it connects you with readers. I love hearing from people on my mailing list!
I started off with Mailchimp because it was free but quickly switched to ConvertKit, which is a more advanced email marketing platform worth every penny.
Remember to have fun, and please do reach out to me if you have further questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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