If you are looking for a way to earn some additional income and you have an area of interest that you are passionate about, then starting a blog could be a great idea. It’s always best to choose a topic that you could talk all day about rather than picking something that you think will be popular. You need to remember you will likely be writing on the topic at least once a week so you want it to be a fun creative endeavour instead of something you dread.
Once you have chosen your topic and are ready to get started, you can follow my 7 easy steps to get you up and running with your own blog.
First and foremost if you want to monetise your blog in anyway or thing you would like to do that in the future, I suggest you steer clear of blogging platforms like Blogger or WordPress.com (this is different to wordpress.org). You really need your blog to be self hosted so you can optimise your site and customise your content and layout.
- Choose a domain name
Your domain name will not only be the address people use to find your blog it will also form the basis of your brand going forward so it is understandable that you want to take your time to find something you love (although it is not essential that your domain and brand is an exact match although I do recommend to try and get them to be the same). Quite a lot of names are already taken or trademarked so make sure you do a check not only if the domain is available but also if it is available in social media accounts (you can check this when you are setting up your hosting which is detailed in step 2).
When choosing a domain I recommend not making it too long, and most social media accounts have handles of 15 letters or less so if you can stick as close to that as possible it tends to make life easier in the long run.
Don’t get too hung up on the name, you can spend hours and hours on making sure you get the right one when time could be better spent writing blog posts.My domain name was not my first choice but others were taken so at the end of the day I just rolled with it and now I am used to it and quite like it.
- Arrange Website Hosting
There are a number of choices for who you can select to host your website but my personal preference and who I use to host my site is SiteGround. The reason I love them is their price is quite competitive and my most favourite thing about them is they 24/7 support. With two young kids sometimes it is hard to get on the phone without chaos going on in the background, so being able to utilise the online live chat is a god send. The other great thing about SiteGround is they have a one-click WordPress install so even a truly beginner user can build a website. Plus you get a .com domain name as part of the package.
To set you your hosting head on over to the SiteGround website and select the Plans. The low cost StartUp plan is more than sufficient to start with, and you can always scale it up down the track as your traffic builds. Click Get Started and you are on your way!
Next you enter in the domain you want to have. Decide if you want to go with .com.au or .com. My choice was made easy as .com was already taken.
Click on Proceed and you will then need to enter in your personal details and payment info.
You might like to consider paying for 3 years of hosting upfront as it will work out a better deal per month, as well as considering taking out the optional extra of the Site Scanner to minimise the risk of your website being hacked. After that, you will need to tick the checkbox that you agree to the terms and hit Pay Now.
After that, you will now be the proud owner of web hosting and a domain name.
- Set up WordPress
You are now so close to having your blog up and running. All you need to do is install WordPress. There are a few options to get it installed but the easiest and quickest way is to use the Account Setup Wizard.
Choose the Get WordPress pre-installed option and hit Proceed.
You will then be prompted to set up login information.
4. Choose a Theme
A theme is basically choosing the design for your website. A good user friendly theme will help to generate more traffic and help to keep your readers engaged with your content. I recommend choosing a theme from either ThemeForest or Elegant Themes. For the record my theme is Primrose from ThemeForest. My view is it is better to invest in a premium theme from the get go that might cost you a little bit of money upfront, rather than having the headache down the track of trying to change it across.
- Install your Theme
In WordPress, click on Appearance and then choose Themes and upload the file you received when you purchased your theme in the step above.
- Add plugins
Plugins are extras that you add to your website to help add additional functionality. I suggest you do some research on the ones that work for you but some that I have found valuable include:
- Easy Social Share Buttons or Shareaholic – makes it super easy for your readers to share your content on social media.
- Yoast SEO – takes the complications out of search engine optimisation and provides real time feedback to ensure your blog posts are SEO optimised.
- Updraft Plus – takes care of making sure your website is backed up and allows you to restore your site if it is subject to an attack
- Google Analytics for WordPress – allows you to track crucial metrics to determine how your blog is performing in terms of traffic, conversions, time on site etc
- Get blogging!
Now the fun begins – you are officially a blogger – congratulations and welcome to the community. Get started writing content and help drive traffic to your site via setting up social media channels. I have found the most success with Twitter and Pinterest but I am determined to get some more traction on Facebook and Instagram too.
Once you have a couple of base posts I recommend you do some research around monetising your blog. There are a number of ways to do this including banner advertising on your site, affiliate marketing or using your blog as a platform to gain work (like I do with my content creation for small businesses). If you are looking to focus on affiliate marketing I cannot recommend Michelle’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course enough. Whilst my background is in Partnership Marketing so not a heap of the content was brand new to me, it was still so helpful to learn her approach on how she earns more than $100,000 a month blogging! Having access to the private Facebook Mastermind Group which includes other great bloggers has been invaluable for me and that alone makes the price worth it (note the price of the course is in US dollars).