As I have mentioned previously, there are two main ways to become financially independent. The first way is through budgeting and saving more money than you earn. The second way is to earn extra income. Click here to check on my post that details 14 ways that you can earn extra income. The purpose of this post is to teach you how to start a blog to earn extra income, even if you have zero tech experience, and you have never built a website before.
But before we get into how to start a blog, let’s first talk about “what is a blog”?
- 1 What is a Blog?
- 2 Things You Should Know Before Starting a Blog
- 3 Who Am I To Teach You How to Start a Blog?
- 4 Why Do You Want to Start a Blog? (i.e. Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should)
- 5 The Basics of How to Start A Blog in 6 Easy Steps
- 6 Step 1: Decide on a Topic for Your Blog
- 7 Step 2: Choose a name (and domain name) for your blog
- 8 Step 3: Choose a Platform to Host Your Blog
- 9 Step 4: Decide on a Hosting Provider
- 10 Step 5: Install WordPress on Your Domain
- 11 Step 6: Install and Customize a Theme for Your Blog
- 12 Was this Helpful to You in learning How to Start a Blog? Please Share!
What is a Blog?
Pretty much any website you visit on the internet today is built on a blogging platform or has a “blog” component built into it.
According to the dictionary, a blog is “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style”. One of the main things that differentiate a blog from a “static” website is the fact that anyone can comment on the blog and leave immediate feedback. A static website, on the other hand, is basically just an informational website that is not regularly updated and does not foster a dialogue between the author of the website and the site visitor.
Things You Should Know Before Starting a Blog
First things first. If you think that if you start a blog and start writing blog posts that you will immediately start earning extra income, than you are sorely mistaken. Blogging can provide a nice side income, replace the income from your day job, or even make you extremely rich. But this income doesn’t come without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
If income generation is your goal, you should be prepared to start writing and blogging for a good 12-18 months before you start earning any money from your website. And I’m not talking about posting once a month, or even once a week. I mean that you should be posting at least 2-3 times per week, if not more frequently when you start.
Are you ready to make that commitment? If not, you should probably hit the back button now. But if you have decided that starting a blog is something you want to commit to, then let’s press on.
Who Am I To Teach You How to Start a Blog?
Before we get down to the nuts and bolts of how to start a blog, you are probably wondering who I am to teach you this stuff.
Let me start by saying that I’ve started numerous blogs over the years. Most of them have made money for me, and my main blog, which also happens to be the website for my law firm, generates multiple 6 figures in revenue for me each year. That being said, this revenue is not passive in that I still have to do the work for my clients, but as far as a lead generation machine that pretty much runs on auto-pilot, I have accomplished that goal. While many of my lawyer friends struggle to get new clients each month, my firm website continues to pump out new leads on a daily basis.
In addition, I’ve been an active, albeit from the sidelines, member of the internet marketing community since approximately 2013 when I first started listening to podcasts. Since that time I’ve joined numerous online courses to learn more about how to start and grow an online business. Here are just a few of the programs I’ve joined:
- The Internet Business Mastery Academy by Jeremy Frandsen and Jason Van Orden
- School of Greatness by Lewis Howes
- Podcasters Paradise by John Lee Dumas
- Product Launch Formula by Jeff Walker
- Zero to Launch by Ramit Sethi
- Screw U by Josh and Jill Stanton
Needless to say, each of these programs has taught me something unique and different about marketing and building a business online. Some people may look at this list and say that I’m a habitual course taker, and they may be right. But I look at each product or course that I’ve invested in as an opportunity – not only to expand my knowledge base about how to grow and build a business online, but also to get to know other online entrepreneurs and develop relationships with the individuals that put these courses together.
Now that you know a bit more about my background with internet marketing, let’s dig into why you came to this page in the first place – a step by step guide to starting a blog that can earn you extra income.
Why Do You Want to Start a Blog? (i.e. Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should)
There are lots of perfectly good reasons to start a blog, and lots of reasons not to. In general, I believe that everyone should have a blog in today’s internet age. Arguably, this is somewhat unrealistic – many people could care less about having a personal web presence, and even more people intentionally do NOT want a presence online.
Here are a few of the many reasons that I advocate for having a blog presence online:
You Own a Business. Clearly, if you own a business, whether online or offline, you absolutely MUST have a web presence. Google is the new yellow pages. Failure to have even a minimal presence online will set you behind your competition in the eyes of your competitors.
You Want to Start an Online Journal. Blogs were first started as a form of online journal. And just because you have a blog does not mean that you have to tell the public who you are. There are lots of blogs that are completely anonymous. Some of the most popular blogs started as an outlet for people to share their thoughts, beliefs, ideas, etc. on a given topic. One of my favorite examples of this is the Scary Mommy Blog, which was started as an online journal written of one woman’s parenting journey and now has an almost cultish following.
You Are Looking for a Job. If you are looking for a job, starting a blog could be a great way to distinguish you from all the other applicants. I was recently hiring for a marketing assistant at my law firm, and the one candidate that really stood out for me had her own website that highlighted her accomplishments.
You Want to Generate Passive Income. Blogging is a great way to start generating passive income, but it does take time. I learned a lot about passive income as it pertains to blogging from Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income Blog.
You Want to Start a Podcast. If you have a podcast, or you want to start one, you will need a blog. A blog is a great platform to promote your episodes, write up show notes and more. I learned everything I know about podcasting from John Lee Dumas of EOFire. His Podcaster’s Paradise community has been invaluable to me in this regard.
And here is the #1 reason that I do NOT advocate starting a blog:
You are Looking to Get Rich Quick. Starting a blog is not a road to instant riches. You may see or read about lots of people who came from virtually nowhere to instant stardom, fame and fortunes by starting a blog. Chances are these people were working behind the scenes for years to build relationships, hone their skills, and build their blog before they finally “made it”.
The Basics of How to Start A Blog in 6 Easy Steps
There are 6 main steps to Starting a Blog. I’ll walk you through each step in the following sections.
- Decide on a topic for your website
- Choose a name (and domain name) for your blog
- Choose a platform for your blog
- Decide on a hosting provider
- Install WordPress
- Install and customize a theme for your blog
Step 1: Decide on a Topic for Your Blog
Although this post assumes that you know absolutely nothing about the “technical” aspects of starting a blog or how to do it, I will assume that you have at least a basic idea about what you want to blog about. If you don’t know that yet, then now is the time to do your research and figure this out.
Here are a couple of ideas to help you get started.
- Blog about your business. If you have a business whether you have a web presence or not, then you definitely need a blog. Many businesses have old static websites that are in need of an update. A blog is a great way to do that (and relatively inexpensive as well).
- Blog about your passion. If there is a topic that you are extremely passionate about, such as sports, parenting, working out, dieting, woodworking, finance, etc., then blogging is a great way to share your thoughts and opinions with the world on that particular subject.
- Blog about a topic that you want to learn more about. Is there a topic that you are interested in, but not yet an expert on? This could be a great topic for blogging. You can discuss your journey to learn more about that topic and your experience along the way.
The reason you must know what you want to blog about before you start building a website is that one of the first things you will be asked to do is pick a domain name. If you don’t know what you blog will be about, then you can’t very well pick a name for it, can you?
That leads us to step #2…
Step 2: Choose a name (and domain name) for your blog
So you have decided on a topic that you want to blog about and you have a potential name for your blog. Do you know if the name is even available? One of the first things I like to do when starting a new blog is to use this handy, free tool to check possible domain names. I also recommend using Namecheap to double-check your domain names.
A domain name is basically the web address for your blog. The web address for this blog is beardedmoneyguy.com.
You may already have a web address for your blog. Many people register names months or even years before they decide to start a website on that domain. Two of the more popular places to register domain names are Go Daddy and Namecheap (which is the service I use and recommend to register all my domain names).
Once you have hit on a name that you like and that appears to be available, you may also want to check the various social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest) to make sure your chosen name is available on those sites as well.
Finally, you should do a trademark search to ensure that nobody has registered your preferred domain name as a brand.
Assuming your name is available, you will want to register it.
Now that you have a good domain name picked out, it is time to set up your blog.
Step 3: Choose a Platform to Host Your Blog
Before you do anything with your blog, you need to decide how you will host your website and build your blog. There are two main options for this, a self-hosted blog and a hosted solution. There are pros and cons to both.
A hosted solution is a service such as Wix (Click here to read a review), Weebly (Click here to read a review), or Squarespace (Click here to read a review) which serves as an all in one solution to host your blog, typically for a monthly fee that varies depending on the amount of customization you want, and whether you are creating a personal or a business blog.
I’ll be honest, I don’t have a lot of experience with these platforms as I have always chosen to develop my websites on WordPress. The reviews above were written by independent bloggers – not me.
The biggest feature I would look for when using one of these services is the ability to migrate your site to a self-hosted solution with WordPress if and when you wanted to do that. If you can’t migrate your site, then you are locked into that platform for as long as you operate your blog.
In addition, the startup costs to do a self-hosted site on WordPress pale in comparison to the recurring monthly expenses necessary to operate a blog on one of the aforementioned platforms.
On the other hand, WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms available, by far.
As I mentioned before, except for one of my first blogs that I created in 2005 or so, I’ve been using WordPress to self-host all of my websites ever since. This is because WordPress is very flexible and stable, has thousands of plugins available to increase its functionality, and a huge support community to draw on for advice and guidance. You can’t go wrong by choosing to move forward with WordPress.
Step 4: Decide on a Hosting Provider
So you have decided on a topic for your blog, figured out your name, and chosen to move forward with a self-hosted WordPress blog. Now comes the fun part – setting up your hosting (we will install WordPress and a theme for your blog in the following steps).
When we say that you will be “self-hosting” your website on your own server, what we really mean is that you will be renting server space from a “hosting provider”. There are a number of providers available to host your website, and my recommendations may change over time. For now, here is a link to my recommended host, Siteground. By clicking this link, you will be redirected to a new window allowing you to keep open these instructions as you set up your website.
I previously used a different provider that is recommended by a number of other bloggers, potentially because they pay a larger commission. However, I’ve had issues with this provider, typically related to downtime on my website for days or longer. When you are relying on a website for income, when your site is down you are generating money. For that reason, I have changed my recommendation to Siteground.
The first thing you will need to do is either review the plan options or click the button to sign up.
Select a Hosting Plan for Your Blog
When you are just starting out, I recommend the “Startup” plan. You can always upgrade later if/when you need the additional features. For now, taking action and getting started is better than fretting over paying a few more bucks for options you don’t need.
Click the “Get Started Button” for the plan that you select to move on to the next step in the process.
The next choice you must make is whether to register a new domain or transfer an existing domain. If you have an existing domain, then choose “I already have a domain”. If you are starting from scratch, then choose to “Register a new domain”.
Note that the current cost to register a new domain is $14.95. Siteground sometimes runs promotions to give you a domain for free. Other hosting providers also will give you a domain name for free. However, in my opinion, Siteground is currently one of the best and most reliable hosting providers available. $15 is a small price to pay for long-term peace of mind.
After entering your new or previously registered domain, click the blue “Proceed” button.
Enter your Account Information
You are almost done!
Now you need to enter your personal information for your account. No explanation should be necessary for this step. Make sure you note your email address and password as you will need them to sign into your account.
Enter Your Payment Information and Select Your Account Options
Next you will need to enter your credit card information and pick an initial term for your hosting. Siteground allows you to select 12, 24, or 36 months. Keep in mind that you will lock in your introductory pricing for the entire initial term.
I do recommend that you select domain privacy.
Finalizing Your Account
If there are other add-ons, I generally skip them. The only exception, as stated before, is the Domain Privacy Protection. This is what keeps your personal information private on the “whois” database. If you are operating a blog out of your home, you may not want that information available for anyone to find. This is especially true if you are operating a financial blog like this and want to keep your information private.
Lastly, you will see the total amount due. This varies depending on the period you chose (12, 24, or 36 months).
Make sure you read the fine print and click the pay now button. $170 is pretty cheap for 3 years worth of site hosting!
Check Your Email
After you complete your purchase, you should check your email. You will receive several messages from Siteground, including a sales receipt and information about your new hosting account. You will need this information to login to your control panel (where you do all the dirty work, at least until your blog is set up) at Siteground.
Login to Siteground
Now, go back to the main Siteground page and login to your account.
Don’t ask me why the cursor is in this image. I tried to take it out several times to no avail. Maybe a caching thing? (You’ll learn about caching as you get more experienced with your blog!)
Enter you email address and password and login!
That’s it! You have now rented server space on Siteground and are ready to install WordPress.
Step 5: Install WordPress on Your Domain
I’ll be honest, this is one of the features of Siteground that really turned me on to this hosting provider. With another well-known company, I was having problems getting WordPress to install. The instructions seem easy enough, but something under the hood just wasn’t working.
Once you have logged into your account, click on the “My Accounts” tab at the top, and then click on the red “go to cPanel” button underneath the manage account heading.
Begin the Process of Installing WordPress
Once you have successfully logged into your cPanel, you will want to find and click the “WordPress installer” button. You will see a page that looks like this. Click on the “install now” button.
Tell the Program Where to Install WordPress
On the next screen, you will be asked for a lot of information. I’ll walk you through it all now.
First, you must choose the domain protocol (I select http://), and then you must choose the domain on which you want to install the software. Your domain should automatically appear on the list.
As you scroll down, you will be asked for the name of your site and your site description. You can enter whatever information you would like (The Bearded Money Guy, Sally’s Blog, Whatever, etc.). This is different from your domain name and can be changed later. NOTE: You may get an error message if you do not fully complete this page, so make sure to include a site name AND and site description.
Enter Your WordPress Account Information
Next you will be asked for your Account Information. This is the Admin Username and password. Make sure this is something unique – do NOT use “Admin”. You cannot change this information later. Choose a password and make sure to write it down so you remember it.
This is the information you will use to login to WordPress once it is finished installing.
You will again enter an email address (your site information will be sent here). Choose your language.
As you continue to scroll down, you will be asked to select plugins and choose a theme. You can ignore this for now.
Click the “install” button.
Wait patiently while the software runs…
Take Note of Your Login Information for Your New WordPress Blog
Voila, if you did it all correctly, you should receive a congratulations screen. Take note of your login information. This information should also be sent to your email address.
Whenever you want to login to your blog, you will go to http://yoursite.com/wp-admin. Make a note of this address, or bookmark it for future reference.
Recapping the WordPress Installation Process
Assuming you registered a new domain with Siteground, you can now login and start to customize your website to your heart’s content. However, if you registered a domain elsewhere, you will still need to redirect your domain name servers to Siteground.
To do this, you will login to your registrar for your web domain, and find the place to provide custom name servers. This varies by registrar, and if you have questions you can call them directly.
You will enter the following name servers into your account:
Confirm that these are correct with your account. You can find this information under “account information” on your cPanel page at Siteground.
Step 6: Install and Customize a Theme for Your Blog
One of the great things about WordPress is that there are literally thousands of free and premium themes to choose from to make your blog look exactly the way you want.
I built this blog using the WP-Prosperity Theme. It’s a great theme, but not necessarily for beginners with no coding experience.
The theme I first started using, which is easy to use and an industry leader, is the Genesis Theme by StudioPress. I highly recommend it if you are just getting started.
If you found this post helpful, I would really appreciate if you would consider sharing it with others who might want to know how to start a blog. Just use the sharing buttons on this post.
Questions? Comments? Please feel free to fire away in the comments below!