I’ve been blogging on and off for the last ten years while holding down a full-time job and supporting a growing family with the associated lifestyle inflation that comes with that. But one thing that has made me financially secure is that even if I didn’t have my job I would be able to have enough income from my blogging side hustle to cover my core living expenses.
In a strange way having this safety net has also given me the confidence to take more risks in my day job and overall made be better at what I do, in addition to developing some solid time management skills. Here’s how you can do this as well if you are looking to grow or diversity your income sources (always a prudent financial move).
And if you really get good at this blogging business gig and can become a legit social media influencer down the road, you may even be able to quit the 9 to 5 corporate rat race and become your own boss.
In today’s digital world it’s really easy and inexpensive to start a blog/website (or Youtube channel, which I will cover in another article). You can find a lot of information online and on this site around blogging and making money, but what I want to share in this article are really five simple steps to get started based on what I’ve learned over the last 10 years.
I am keeping it simple but realize that this article has been distilled to the basics based on a lot of experience and lessons learned. You’ll still need to do a lot of self-exploration by trial and error to find what exactly works for you, but these tips will at least give you a solid foundation to start from.
Step 1 – Get Your Domain (Website) Name
There are lots of places to get a domain name. GoDaddy is what I use, but there many options out there (just google where can I buy a domain) and you can get a domain for less than $5 in your first year – but make sure you also factor in the ongoing annual renewal fee.
It is however really important you spend some time thinking about the domain name as this will be basis for your online brand. Don’t pick the first one that comes to mind or you see available. Pick something simple and easy to remember, which reflects the topic you want to right about. For example I wanted to write about personal finance and investing, so that’s how I came up with the name of my site – Saving to Invest, a good basis for finance containing some popular and easy to associate key words.
And don’t forget to register for free social media site handles when you get your domain name (see Step 4).
Step 2 – Pick a Managed Hosting Provider (so you take out the technical hassle of managing your site)
To keep it simple I definitely recommend you going with WordPress as your blogging/website platform – its the #1 option out there and used by most bloggers. Without getting too technical a blogging platform is just basically like the operating system for your blog or website. But you need to host your website on a server somewhere in the cloud and I would definitely recommend a managed host who takes care of all the “technical” stuff.
Unless you know what an Nginx issue is, or what a 404 error means or what an Apache server is just go for a Managed WordPress Hosting service. Trust me, this will save you a lot of time in the long run and worth the premium over a self managed service. The best one I found so far and which one I use is Big Scoots. They have options for those just staring out to the professionals out there – which helps if you grow quickly. But best of all they have an amazing support service and are happy to answer all your technical and functional questions (response time is in minutes).
By going with a reputable managed hosting provider you get a team that takes care of all the back end technical complexities and all you have to focus on is just setting setting up your website and creating the best content or focus on selling the product you want to.
Please do your research and there are plenty of other options out there that will work fine but getting a good hosting provider will make your life much, much easier when starting out. Or save your time and leverage my years of trial and error and just go with Big Scoots. They can help with pretty much everything, other than content creation, for your website.
Step 3 – Pick a Theme That Is Simple and SEO Friendly
You have picked a domain/website name and a managed hosting provider. Now you need to pick a theme or a look and feel for your website. They are lots of options and you can start with free WordPress default ones. But you’ll soon realize to get a blazing fast website you need to pick a modern and SEO (Search Engine Optimized) theme. SEO very simplistically means doing things for the Google search engine to love your website and content.
I have done a bunch of research on the top pre-built WordPress themes and unless you are a CSS/HTML expert and/or strong graphic designer go with a pre-built theme that allows you to focus on the simple front end configuration. Generate Press was the top one and the one I went with – as it was very SEO friendly and provided many user friendly guides to get you started. You can start with a free theme and then progress to the more powerful premium theme.
Step 4 – Get Social and Build Your Online Brand
People won’t just find your blog or website via Google search or friendly referrals. A lot of traffic nowadays will come via social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This means you need to ensure you are setting up social media profiles for your blog/website to spread the word and get traffic (i.e. visitors to your site) from Day 1.
Start with the big four social media platforms – Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn – and go from there. Try and keep the name and branding consistent with your website or blog name. So when you register your website/domain name (step 1) make sure you also sign-up for the same social media handles – which should all be free.
Remember you are building your online presence, and social media is a key part of this (even if you don’t like it). You can not just rely on Google searches or referral links to bring you traffic.
You can see my social media channels for this site that are setup here – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Based on your niche (e.g food or lifestyle blogs/websites) you may want to setup Pinterest and TikTok as well.
Step 5 – Start Monetizing
For most blogs/websites starting out you will either monetize via display ads, affiliate programs or selling a product. I will write a whole article on this as a big topic on its own, but if you are just a standard blog with information topics, go with Google Adsense for display advertising. They have an easy application process and most blogs/websites get accepted.
Once you start getting a lot more traffic you can go for premium ad providers like Adthrive, that I use for this site. You’ll have to show that your site is getting a certain minimum threshold of visitors. You can do this via a free Google Analytics account that tracks your traffic numbers.
All set up now. Focus on writing and spreading the word
Now you are ready to write and hopefully make some money. It’ll take you circa six months or more before you can really make some meaningful income. You’ll need to write about 30 to 50 high-quality articles over this time which you need to promote on social media, with the ultimate aim of getting top search results on Google. After all they are still the 900 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to getting eyeballs to your site.
There are a lot more advanced strategies when it comes to building your blog and website. I’ll write about those in the future but this article will provide the basics to get you started asap. Get started with a topic/area you are interested in and can write on for several months.
Start now see how you go. Its cheap and if you don’t like the world of blogging after six months you can stop and have no regrets. Good luck!
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