If someone had told me 3 years ago that I’m going to start a blog and even earn money with it, I would’ve laughed at that person. Me? Starting a blog? With zero experience in blogging, let alone any talent (or passion) for technical issues?
But here I am today. Running two blogs, both of them generating a nice income.
I know that there are many people like me out there. People with no experience or skills, who want to run a blog, too. There are more than enough reasons for it:
- It’s fun.
- It’s cheap.
- You can do it from home.
- You can set your own working schedule.
- You can be part of a great community.
- Your earning potential is sheer endless.
- It’s easy.
Yes, it’s easy. Although it sounds like it’s super complicated and something that only geeks can do, it’s really not. I want to guide you through the first steps of starting a blog and show you that literally anyone can set up a blog.
So get ready. You are about to start something that could change your life…
Step 0: Preparation
Maybe you have done this already, maybe not. Before you can start with the implementation of your blog, you have to pick a niche and a name.
While this sounds easy, you need to be aware that this is the basis, the fundament. This can be the reason why you are going to fail or win. So choose wisely.
Although not a necessity, it helps if you are passionate about the niche you pick. If you want to write about travel but hardly ever leave your hometown because you hate being on the road, you will soon lose interest in writing about it. Plus, it is hard to write about something you have no experience in.
If you want to make money with your blog, you should pick a profitable niche. Some niches, like food, finance or motherhood, are particularly popular and have plenty of options to monetize.
It should also be an area that has many potential readers. If you write about a topic that is only of interest for 5 people, it’s going to be hard to make a living out of it. On the other hand, it can help to focus on a particular topic only and not be too broad with your niche.
If you want to learn more about niches and which one you should choose, read this awesome post by Blogging Wizard with lots of helpful ideas.
2. Name & Domain
Once you have chosen your niche, you can go ahead and think about your blog name. It always helps if the name says sometimes about your niche or the topics that you are going to write about, for example, “Balcony Gardener”. That makes it easy to identify.
However, you could also give your blog your own name, e.g. “Sarah Mitchell”, or go for something more abstract, e.g. “Green Paradise”.
Do yourself a favor and quickly check on Google if there are other blogs around with a similar name. You don’t want to cause confusion among your future readers and you probably also don’t want another blog to think that you want to copy it.
A second thing to consider when choosing a name is your potential domain. You will soon find out that many domains, that consist of common words, are already taken. So when you think of your future blog name, also check if there is a (similar) domain available.
You could, for example, add a word and call it “My Green Paradise” so you can use the domain mygreenparadise.com in case greenparadise.com is unavailable. Another option is to add dashes, e.g. green-paradise.com.
In terms of extensions, “.com” is the most popular version. But if it’s unavailable, you could also consider “.net” or “.org”. If you write for a particular country only and never want to expand, you could use your country extension, for instance, “.fr” for France.
To check if your domain is still available, you can use the search function of domain registrars, such as Namecheap. If you want to, you can also buy the domain straight away before someone else grabs it. Most of the domains cost somewhere between 5 and 15 USD per year.
Step 1: Choose a Hosting Provider
Now you need to rent an online space, where you can park your blog (simply said). Here you have two options:
- Free Alternative
If you are a blogging beginner, you will probably not want to spend much money on your blog. Who knows if you even stick to it, right?
So you might be tempted to get a free blog with providers such as Blogspot, Tumblr or WordPress.com. (Don’t get confused with WordPress.org – that’s the self-hosting version!)
The thing is: Investing only a few dollars in your hosting is well worth it.
Because if you go for the free alternatives, you will face the following problems:
- You don’t own your blog. If your blog is hosted on someone else’s property, they can more or less do with it whatever they want. If you accidentally violate their terms, they could also delete your blog – happened before. That would be absolutely devastating!
- Free options are usually full of limitations. You don’t have enough space for your photos or videos. You can’t use all the nice plugins other bloggers are using. And you don’t have access to the beautiful free themes of WordPress.org.
- Bulky domain. You won’t be able to use your preferred domain but have to go for something like greenparadise.blogspot.com. Ugly? Very!
- Harder to monetize. If you want to monetize your blog at some stage, you will find it harder with free alternatives. For example, most of them don’t allow you to place ads, which are the main income source for many bloggers.
Best Choice: Self-Hosting
For all those reasons, I (and pretty much every other professional blogger out there) strongly advise you to go for self-hosting straight from the beginning. It just makes everything so much easier.
And as mentioned before, it is not expensive at all. Often, you will be able to get a reliable hosting provider (the company that puts your website up on the internet for you) for 5-10 USD per month.
By far the most popular hosting provider for blogging beginners is Bluehost. I started my first blog with them, too, and it was the best decision I made.
Why is Bluehost perfect for a beginner blog?
- It is super cheap and includes everything you need. You will get plenty of website space, bandwidth, email storage, etc. for little money.
- There is a 24/7 customer service via phone, email and live chat, which is happy to help you with all your questions and issues (I had all types of questions in the beginning and they were always extremely helpful and patient.)
- They take care of the installation of WordPress.org, which is the most popular blogging software – for free!
- There is a money-back guarantee, just in case you are unsatisfied for any reason.
How to Set Up a Blog With Bluehost?
I know that you might be a bit hesitant to start a blog as a beginner because you think it might be too complicated. I can guarantee you, it is not. Here are the steps you have to do to sign up with a hosting provider, e.g. Bluehost:
1. Decide on a plan. If you are a beginner, the basic plan is absolutely fine and includes everything you need. You can upgrade anytime.
2. If you haven’t bought your domain yet, you can also register it now. The good thing: You get one domain for free with Bluehost! No additional costs! In case you have already registered your domain, simply insert it here.
3. Fill in your personal details.
4. Choose your package. The more months you pick, the cheaper your hosting plan gets.
5. Decide if you want to pay by credit card or PayPal and insert your details.
Click “Submit” and that’s it! Now you have set up your hosting.
Bonus Info: With other hosting companies, you would now have to install WordPress.org, which can be a bit tricky sometimes. But not with Bluehost! They install WordPress automatically for you so you don’t need to do anything else right now. Awesome!
Step 2: Customize Your Blog
Now let the fun part begin: Customization!
The best way to start is to pick a theme. A theme basically controls the visual appearance of your blog. WordPress has several free ones for you to choose from. You can find them under the menu “Appearance” on the left side. Click around and see what theme works best for your topic.
While these free themes are surely ok for basic needs, there will be limitations at some stage. If you want more customization options right from the beginning, you can also go for a premium theme. I have always used Divi by Elegant Themes and absolutely love it! Yes, there is an annual payment but it is totally worth it.
It’s super easy to use – even for me (just to mention it again: I have absolutely no technical understanding or interest at all). You can simply drag and drop elements, easily change colors and fonts, upload and insert photos and so much more.
That’s definitely an investment I haven’t regretted and can highly recommend.
Once you have decided for a theme, you can upload your logo, play around with the layout, change headings and customize your website the way you like it. Luckily, WordPress is fairly intuitive so you will be able to figure out what to do after a few clicks.
Step 3: Fill Your Blog With Pages
In addition to your posts, you will also have a few pages with important information. Think of pages like:
- Home / Start
- About Me
- Terms & Conditions
If you are unsure what to write on the last two pages, you can simply google for free private policy and terms & conditions generators and customize them to your needs.
Once these pages are set, you can pretty much leave them and only need to make occasional updates.
Step 4: Write Your Posts
Now there is only one thing left to do: Write your posts.
With WordPress, this is again very easy. Simply hit the “Posts” button in the left menu, “Add New” and start writing.
Try to publish your posts on a regular basis. The more you publish, the more Google will like you.
However, it is not just the quantity that matters. Quality is even more important. Rather go for one long in-depth post of 2,000+ words per week, instead of writing 4 posts with only 300 words. Content is still king!
If you need more tips and help on how to write the perfect blog post, check out this awesome guide by Blogtyrant.
Step 5: Promote Your Blog
You can have the best blog in the entire world. If no one is going to read it, you won’t be able to make money with it ever.
Although SEO is important to get organic views via search engines, it can take time. That’s why it is essential to promote your blog on other channels. Social media is perfect for that.
Want to learn more about SEO? Check out this SEO guide by Kissmetrics that teaches you all you need to know.
Depending on your niche, you could be very successful with a Facebook profile for your blog. Pinterest is also a great way to drive traffic to your website. Or maybe you prefer Instagram? Twitter and Reddit are other free and easy to use platforms that get your blog posts in front of a big audience.
But do yourself a favor: Don’t try to be everywhere. Nobody has time for that! Pick 2 or 3 social networks and become an expert in promoting your blog there. If you still have capacities left, you can always expand to more platforms later.
Besides social media, you can also try to collaborate with other bloggers in your niche. Ask if you can write a guest post on their blog. Or see if another blogger wants to write a post together with you.
There are many ways to promote your blog. If you want to find out more, check out this fabulous post by Jeffbullas.com with more ideas.
Start A Blog Today
As you can see, it is really not that complicated to start a successful blog and use it as a main source of income as a digital nomad. Hosting providers, such as Bluehost, make it very easy to set up a blog. The intuitive navigation on WordPress helps you quickly find your way around and themes like Divi allow even non-techies to customize their websites in no time.
And it’s not expensive either. If you go for Bluehost, it cost you not even 4 USD a month. That’s definitely doable for everyone. Click here to head over to their website and secure your hosting plan for only 3.95 USD instead of 7.99 USD: I want the discount!
All you have to do now is to make the final decision to start your own blog. As usual, that first step is the hardest. The actual building of a blog is no big deal.
Once you have figured it out, it is a great way to make money online and brings you one step closer to a location-independent life.