(Note: This article is a little different from the norm around here, but I’ve been getting a bunch emails from folks asking me how I make money and how they can get started with a blog of their own. So I figured it was time to share how I did it! I hope it helps and let me know if you have any questions.)
I’ve been blogging full-time since 2007 and making a good living at it and having a blast in the process. I never would have thought when I started my blog that it would eventually get me on FOX News, Good Morning America, and even quoted in the NY Times. (Check out my Press Page). But I’m here to tell you that it absolutely can be done and it’s a very fun and rewarding way to make a living. Believe me, if I can do it, you can do it. This article has actually been on my mind for quite some time, so I’m really excited to finally sit down and share my knowledge about how to setup a WordPress blog and make some money from it.
People ask me all the time how I make a full-time living with my blog. So let’s cut straight to the chase: The best way to start blogging is to setup a WordPress blog with a company I’ve used for years and absolutely love called BlueHost. Not only will they keep your costs to a bare minimum, but they integrate the WordPress blogging platform making it very easy for you to start blogging.
If you consider yourself technologically challenged, and the thought of starting a blog seems overwhelming, take a deep breath as you have found the right article. I’ll walk you through the entire process of how to start a WordPress blog with BlueHost, and have you up and blogging (and making money) in no time.
Before we get started, a little bit about why I recommend BlueHost. They’re a very respected online business that I have personally had much success with, especially in my early days of blogging when I had no idea what I was doing but knew I needed to keep my costs as low as possible. Not not only will BlueHost let you register your domain for free for the first year, but their hosting packages are a terrific value and offer very reliable servers with 24/7 support and 99% up-time. (More on that later) Also, they offer it all risk-free with a 30-day money back guarantee, so if you sign-up and decide that blogging is not yo’ thang, they’ll refund every penny.
Step 1 – Pick a Domain Name
I get people all the time that ask me about simply using a “free website” service like Blogger, BlogSpot, or even WordPress’s free version, to get their blog up and going. I always tell them it’s a very bad idea and they should instead get a stand alone web domain. The reasons are long and I won’t bore you with them here, but the main one is a free web address like rather-be-shopping.blogspot.com is not nearly as professional as rather-be-shopping.com and potential customers/readers are much less likely to click on your blog when they see it in the Google search results. Free domains also tend be much slower and rarely rank very well in Google. Bottom-line: Invest in your own web domain! Especially since BlueHost will give it to you for free for the first year (more on that later).
Tips on picking your domain name: When I first started Rather-Be-Shopping.com back in 2001, I had no idea what a good domain name was. All I knew was I wanted something memorable and “shopping related” and Rather-Be-Shopping was born. If I had to do it over again, I’d pick out something a little more inline with what this site is about, which is helping shoppers save money with shopping tips and frugal hacks. In other words, when you hear the name Rather-Be-Shopping.com you don’t necessarily think about saving money, but rather you think about spending it like crazy at the local mall. Also, I wouldn’t have put the dashes in Rather-Be-Shopping as it makes it more complicated to tell people what your web address is. Whoops. Oh well, too late now to change it.
But it’s not too late for you. So when you pick your blog’s domain name, be sure to consider your target market. If you want to have a blog about golf and have reviews of clubs, balls, and equipment, consider a golf related domain like golfersparadise.com or golfreviews.com. Not only will it help you with your search engine rankings, but readers will have a really good idea of what your blog is about by just reading the site name.
Step 2 – Register Your Domain Name
So when it comes time to register your domain, it’s hard to beat BlueHost in terms of cost. Zero cost as a matter of fact. When you pick any 12-month hosting plan, even the basic plan at $2.95 a month, they’ll throw in your domain fee for free for the first year. After the first year, you can renew your domain for an affordable $15.99/year. This is a great way to get a domain, setup a WordPress blog on it, and see if you enjoy it (and can make some money) for an entire year, basically risk-free.
The first thing you’ll want to do is visit the BlueHost domain chooser page, which you’ll be taken to automatically when you begin the sign-up process, and see if your domain name is available. If it isn’t, they’ll suggest similar domains or you can go back to the drawing board and come up with another one to see if it’s available. Remember, consider a domain that will allow potential readers to quickly determine what your blog theme is. Try this website if you’re stumped as it’ll give you some great recommendations.
Step 3 – Buy Hosting for Your WordPress Blog
Congrats, you’re now the proud owner of your own blog domain! Next, you’ll need to get it hosted on a BlueHost server so the entire world can discover it. Think of this as renting space on the Internet. A space where your blog will reside so people can find it.
Below is a break-down of BlueHost’s 3 most popular hosting packages. If you sign-up via my referral link you’ll get the ‘Basic’ package for only $2.95/month when you sign-up for 12 months which translates to a screaming deal of only $35.40 for the entire year.
I highly recommend signing up for a 12-month package as you’ll get a free domain for a year, you won’t have to worry about paying every month, setting up auto-pay, or worse yet, risk losing traffic because you didn’t pay on time. In very few (if any) cases will you need more than the ‘Basic’ package to start. Plus, you can always upgrade later if need be and you’ll just get the difference in cost prorated to your account. Also, don’t bother with any of the add-ons that BlueHost tries to sell. Just get your cheap hosting package and move on.
At this point, you have your domain name, and you’ve selected your hosting package. Now just wait for a confirmation email from BlueHost with all the info you need on how to proceed to your account. Next, you’ll want to login to your account and install WordPress. It’s actually really easy…
Step 4 – Login to BlueHost and Install WordPress
Once you log-in to your BlueHost account, you’ll want to install WordPress on your new blog. Don’t let this intimidate you, it really couldn’t be easier. The first thing you’ll want to do is click Website under the Hosting tab. See image below.
Next, you’ll want to click Install Now directly under the WordPress logo.
Then just click Install under the “Do it yourself” section. Then select your domain and click Check Domain.
At this point you’ll want to click on Advanced Options and select your WordPress username and password. Pick something totally random for each, at least 8-14 characters, and write them down in a secure place.
Lastly, you’ll need to accept BlueHost’s terms and conditions followed by clicking Install Now. That’s it! Now just a wait a minute or two while WordPress is being installed and you’re done. You’ll also get an email with everything you need to proceed.
Step 5 – Pick a WordPress Blog Theme
A WordPress theme is essentially the design of your blog. Think things like the layout, the navigation, the fonts used, and the graphics used (if any). To get you started, WordPress comes installed with several free themes and you can easily find a ton of good free themes online.
First, you’ll need to login to your WordPress account with your username and password. For future reference, from now on you’ll need to visit, http://YourDomainName.com/wp-admin to login to your WordPress account. I just bookmark it in my browser and then I can get to my WordPress dashboard quickly when I need to.
Next, on the left side of your screen is your navigation menu. Under the Appearance section is where you’ll find the Themes section. If you don’t see Themes, you may have to mouse-over Appearance to show slide-out menu and click on Themes that way.
You’ll then see what themes are currently available to you. Pick one that you like or add a new one that you find online and activate it. Each theme can be customized, to make it happen just click on Customize and follow the on-screen instructions. This is the part where you can let your imagination run wild and play with some different themes until you find something that you’re happy with. Remember that you’re never stuck with a theme after you pick it and you can simply deactivate it and activate and different one whenever you want.
Step 6 – Start Creating Awesome Content
I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret that’ll get you traffic to your blog almost immediately…create amazingly awesome content. Think blog posts that improve people’s lives perhaps by saving them money, or show them how to do something, or perhaps answer a burning question that they can’t find anywhere else.
The best way to create consistently great content is to blog about something that you’re an expert in, or have a passion for, and the blog posts will be so much easier, and more enjoyable, to write. To give you an idea, below are some blogs categories that can be very profitable.
(Important Key: If you don’t have a specific blog idea in mind, don’t let that stop you from starting. Just start and it will evolve over time, it certainly did for me. Remember, your blog doesn’t have to perfect, especially in the beginning, just start it and begin writing.)
Blog Niches to Consider:
Here a few blog categories that many blogger have had great success with.
- Coupons and Saving Money: I know a thing or two about this blog category. If you love saving money when shopping (and in everyday life) or finding unique ways to make your paycheck go as far as possible each month, then you should definitely start a blog and start sharing your genius.
- Personal Finance: If you fancy yourself a smart saver and are always looking for ways to increase your savings or retirement, or have had success getting out of huge piles of credit card debt, the personal finance blog niche could be for you.
- Hobbies and Interests: The sky is the limit here. If you have a passion for a particular hobby, or interest, I guarantee there are thousands of folks out there who’d love to read what you have to say. Especially if you can do it in an engaging way that adds to the conversation.
- Mommy Blog: Mom blogs have been all the rage in recent years. The network is very impressive and provides many opportunities to make money as brand ambassadors as well as via blog advertising.
I’ll be adding new blog niches to this section as I discover them.
Money Making Opportunities for Your Blog:
Here are all the services I have used, or currently use, to monetize this blog. I only recommend services that I have actually made money with.
- Google AdSense: Many of the ads on this blog are served by Google Adsense. They make it really easy to incorporate related ads on your blog. The more traffic, the more ad revenue.
- Media.net: This is the other ad platform I use. I like them better then AdSense because you’ll actually get an account rep that’ll help you with ad placements and make sure the ads are highly targeted. They’ll then check-in with you on a monthly basis and give you more tips to maximize your profits.
- Commission Junction: This is an affiliate network that lets you sign up for specific affiliate programs to join. For example, if you start a golf blog, you can join the Golfsmith affiliate program and start directing your traffic to their site via golf product reviews. Then if someone makes a purchase from Golfsmith you’ll get a 10% commission of the sale. They have hundreds of programs that you can join from dozens of product categories.
- Impact Radius: The same as Commission Junction. They have less affiliate programs but offer better customer service. Top retailers include Target, Cabela’s, and Diapers.com.
- Escalade Network: They specialize in pay-for-performance campaigns where you post coupons and deals on your blog, targeted specifically to your audience, and get paid when someone uses your links to save some money. If you want to feature coupons, I highly recommend partnering with them and using the Coupons.com widget on your blog.
- Amazon Affiliate Program: There are many bloggers that make a ton of money by only promoting Amazon products and getting a cut of any sales that originate from their blog. I know a guy who has a photography blog and writes in depth reviews of new cameras and equipment with an Amazon link so his readers can go buy the products. BTW, he makes $80k a year doing this…..
As I discover new ways to make money with my blog, I’ll add them to the list above.
Other Highly Useful Links:
ProBlogger.net – Once you get your feet wet in the world of blogging, you’ll want to check out ProBlogger to figure out how to take your blog, and profits, to the next level.
Smart Blogger.com – Terrific site that’ll help you become a better writer as well as tips to create viral content and make money of it in the process.
Moz.com – Rand and his crew do a fantastic job breaking down how to get your blog to rank well in Google as well as the type of content that’ll get it there. They do it in a way that even the most novice of bloggers can understand.
So…have I completely scared you off, or have you gone ahead and set up your new blog? In either case, please feel free to Email Me any questions you might have about how to start a WordPress blog with BlueHost. I love helping folks with the entrepreneurial spirit create a blog and make some money from it. I look forward to hearing from you!
By Kyle James
P.S. – While BlueHost paid me nothing to write this post, it does contain affiliate links which pay me a referral fee if you sign up. Keep in mind that I never recommend a company on my blog unless I personally use it and can recommend it to my friends.