When I was thinking about starting a blog, I was a nervous wreck.
For some, starting a blog doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for me it was a huge decision. Not only had I just started college, I was also a new mom. My son still wasn’t sleeping through the night, which meant I wasn’t either. Was I really crazy enough to tackle blogging too? (Yeah, I am.)
Before I started, I did tons of research and knew that blogging was a big commitment. So, if I was going to invest money into blogging, I knew I needed to stick with it. Although we didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend on something like this, my husband was so supportive and willing to help me invest in my dreams. Plus, it was actually really cheap (more on that later.)
After starting my blog at the end of April in 2017, I’ve more than doubled my investment and have over 100,000 page views on my blog already. It’s been a big accomplishment for me, and that’s why I want to walk you through how to start your own blog. If blogging is something you’re passionate about, I want to help you step in the right direction.
Whether you just want to earn a little side income or earn enough to quit your day job, this guide on starting a profitable blog is for you. I’ll be going over everything from picking a niche and setting up a self-hosted website, to understanding the WordPress dashboard. Let’s get started!
Decide what to blog about
Also known as a niche, you need to have a certain area of interest that you want to blog about.
Some bloggers will tell you that a niche is totally unnecessary, and to a point I agree. While I don’t think you should have to confine yourself to one specific category, unless you are super passionate about one thing, I do think you should have a couple of categories that you like to write about. This gives you a lot more post ideas and ensures you’re still consistent with your audience.
A few examples of good niches (that are also high-paying) include:
- Blogging (yes there’s are blogs about how to blog!)
(Food is another popular niche, but not always high-paying. Most people look up recipes and buy the ingredients in-store, rather than through a blogger’s link. If you really want to start a food blog and still make money, you may want to incorporate some of these other areas of interest as well.)
There are tons of niches out there, though. If there’s something you are truly passionate about, chances are other people are too!
Find a host
There are two types of bloggers: those who blog as a hobby, and those who think of their blog as a business to make money. Don’t get me wrong, some hobby bloggers still make money, but typically the business bloggers are the same ones making hundreds of thousands of dollars every month.
This step right here separates the hobby blogger from the business blogger. If you are ready to start a blog and actually make money from it, you’ve got to get serious and get a self-hosted website.
Here’s why you don’t want to start your blog with a free-hosting website:
- You don’t own your website/content. This means that your website/content could be taken down at any moment, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it (and yes, there are horror stories online of this actually happening to bloggers!)
- There are so many limitations in designing your website.
- When you’re ready to monetize your blog, there are restrictions. Ads, for example, are almost impossible to put on a free-hosted website.
- If you ever decide to change your blog to self-hosted, it can be pretty difficult to change everything over and can take a lot of time.
- Free-hosted websites can seem less professional, thus creating problems down the road when you want to collaborate with businesses.
Self-hosted blogs have so much more freedom, and really aren’t that expensive. As far as self-hosted sites go, I’m a big fan of Bluehost, which is what this blog is run through, and their plans start as low as $3.95 a month!
With Bluehost, you get:
- 24/7 Customer Service (they are well prepared to handle any questions, and helped me through my newbie blogger phase tremendously!)
- FREE domain
- 1-click Install of WordPress (it’s such an easy setup!)
- 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee! If you decide that this whole blogging thing isn’t for you, you can get your money back! No harm done and no reason not to sign up!
I haven’t actually tried the other hosting sites, but I’ve had such a good experience with Bluehost that I don’t see a need in changing.
Now, I know It’s a big leap of faith to put money into your blog before you’re even up and running, but honestly I think of it as an investment. You’ve got to spend money to make money, and in less than 6 months I’ve more than doubled my investment already.
If you start thinking of your blog as a business, you will go far. And what business didn’t need an investment before it took off? (Plus, you still have that money-back guarantee through Bluehost!)
Set up your hosting account
If you chose Bluehost as your host, here’s exactly how you can set your blog:
1.After clicking this link, you’ll be brought to the home page.
2. Click ‘get started now’ and you’ll have a list of plans to choose from.
These are your three main packages, which you can compare.
If you’re a new blogger, I’d recommend just getting the basic package. It’s got more than enough stuff if you’re just starting out, although as you grow you may find the other packages more suitable to your needs, especially as you get more traffic coming to your blog.
3. Pick a domain.
This is a very important step, because once you’ve picked a domain, it’s tough to change it! Not only do you have to pay for a new domain name, but you also have to redirect your old pages to your new domain, which is just a big headache (trust me, I’ve done it!)
If you’re having trouble coming up with a domain name, try this:
- Remember when you picked a niche earlier? Write down a few keywords that pertain to it.
- Look up synonyms of your keywords in a thesaurus or online.
- Now, put your words together!
For example, if you are a mom and want to be a DIY blogger, you could pick keywords like crafts, mom, DIY, homemade, mommy, etc. Your domain could then be theDIYmommy.com (which is already taken by the way, sorry!)
4. Fill out your account info.
After you’ve chosen a domain name, fill out your info and decide on whether you want to add anything to your package (Site Backup, etc.)
5. Fill in your payment info.
6. Choose a password and log in.
After you set up your password, you can now log into your new account, and ta-da! You’re now a website owner!
Choose a theme
Now comes the fun part! You get to design your website!
After you’ve logged in, you should be prompted to pick a theme. There are plenty of free themes to choose from, or you can search Etsy for some affordable themes as well. For this blog, I purchased the Rosegold theme from SkyandStars, and I love it!
Here’s my advice on choosing your theme: make sure it’s a theme that fits your brand. I know, I know, who’s thinking about branding this early in their blogging career? But it’s important down the road to make sure your theme aligns with who you want to reach. For example, I chose a very feminine theme because I want my blog to inspire young women.
Branding is a whole other beast to tackle, so I’ll save it for another day, but just try to keep your ideal reader in mind as you design your blog. Remember, you can always change it later!
After you choose your theme, you can start customizing your blog and writing posts through the WordPress dashboard.
Here’s the WordPress dashboard:
WordPress’s dashboard can be super overwhelming when you first see it. It’s not as bad as it looks, I promise!
Once you start posting, everything will make more sense and be a little easier to understand, but here’s a breakdown of everything you will need to start posting:
This is where you can view all of your posts, as well as add a new post. You also have the option to create and manage your categories and tags, which helps keep your blog neat and organized.
Categories are the major topics of your blog, while tags are the related words you might find in a particular post.
The ‘Media’ tab allows you to view your library of photos that you’ve uploaded as well as add new media.
Pages differ from posts in that they do not appear in the feed of your blog. An example of this is my Contact page, which appears at the top of my blog’s homepage but are not found in my blog’s feed.
When someone comments on one of your posts, you will see them in this section. You can reply to them, approve them, etc.
‘Appearance’ is one of my favorite tabs! This is where you can pick/change the theme of your blog, customize widgets, change your header, etc. I’d definitely spend some time going over all of the features in this tab, because there is so much you can do here to make your blog look exactly how you want it. This is one way self-hosting really differs from free-hosting!
Think of plugins as apps on your blog that help you run it more effectively. They are another way to customize your blog.
Start writing your content
Now that you’ve set up your blog, it’s time to start writing!
If monetizing your blog is something you want to do, there is one piece of advice I can give you when it comes to writing blog posts, especially your first post, and here it is: Creating quality content should be your #1 goal with each post. Create something that your readers can learn from and take away with them long after they’ve left your page. That will keep them sharing it on social media and coming back for more.
For a long time, I waited to start my blog, because I wanted to be successful from the get-go. So, I kept waiting and waiting until I felt confident enough in my blogging knowledge. Finally, I realized that in order to be a successful blogger, I just had to start a blog, and learn as I go.
Sure, it helps to be prepared, but if you’re looking for some secret formula to making money and having tons of traffic on day one, you won’t find it. Every blog is different and some are successful right away and others take a bit of time. Don’t be discouraged if your blog takes a bit of time to really get going, if you nurture and give your blog the attention it deserves, you will be successful!
Once you do get started blogging, the next step is to make sure you’re organized. Check out this post to learn how I easily organize my blog!
How’s your blogging journey going so far? Feel free to ask questions below or message me here!
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