You’re passionate, with a love for writing. You’ve maybe heard about others making money writing online, but have never seen it as a reality for yourself.
Right now, it might sound like a far-fetched and intangible goal. But starting a blog… and then making money from it… is actually more tangible than you might think.
It’s not a get-rich-quickly scheme. But…think about it:
All the hard work you put into hustling at your day job… can be spent hustling from wherever you can find a decent WiFi connection.
When I realized the potential of creating a side hustle, let alone a career, blogging, I needed to learn more. Granted, the money-making potential shouldn’t be your only reason to start a blog. The reasons for starting your own blog are tenfold. You can:
- Establish your authority on a subject you love,
- Find your tribe and solve their problems,
- Learn from others who love what you do about how they tackle the same problems,
- Inspire others with your incredible content, and
- Open up a world of opportunities to make money while doing all of the above.
And, anyone can take the simple step of starting a blog. This guide will walk you through the steps you need to take to start a self-hosted WordPress blog.
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1. Choose your host: free-host or self-hosted?
With the choice between a free host (like WordPress.com or Blogger) and a paid host (like Siteground) is in front of you, the choice seems obvious. Who doesn’t like the word “free”? Actually, free hosting isn’t all it’s cut out to be. And you definitely shouldn’t choose a free host if your main goal is to start a blog and make money online.
- With free hosting, you have to adhere to your host’s Terms and Conditions.
- They can shut your site down at any time because they own your content.
- Your host may have restrictions when you start monetizing your blog.
It might be confusing, but yes. WordPress.com and a self-hosted WordPress blog are different. WordPress.com starts as a free hosting service. Self-hosted WordPress blogs (or WordPress.org software) can be installed to your very own WordPress website. With a self-hosted WordPress blog:
- You own your content.
- You can have a personalized and professional e-mail address (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Your website will perform better on search engine searches (thus increasing traffic and money to your blog).
- You have far more control over the customization of your blog.
If you are serious about blogging, the small investment to start your own self-hosted blog will be the best decision in the long run. It will be a time-consuming pain to transfer your content from a free service to your own. Plus, if you own your content from the get-go, you can start earning the most money possible from your blog immediately. I am going to guide you through the process of purchasing your very own self-hosted blog from Siteground, and installing WordPress on your blog (don’t worry, it’s easier than you think!).
Related Reading: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
2. Set up your hosting and domain
Starting your self-hosted blog requires two things: a domain, and hosting for that domain. I recommend Siteground if you are looking for a host with incredible uptime, fantastic customer service.
- Siteground offers superior, fast 24/7 customer service
- They install WordPress for you for free
- If you already have a website, they offer free website setup and transfer
- Industry leading in terms of uptime
Siteground offers three options for hosting plans. You can use this link to sign up and get 60% off your first hosting plan! The discount only applies to the number of months you pay for upfront, so I recommend paying for as many months in advance as possible.
(I purchased two years upfront and it only took me less than two months to earn my money back for my domain and hosting, but it’s different for everyone).
You receive 60% off the hosting plan of your choice with Siteground.
I made the mistake of purchasing the StartUp plan when I first started blogging. Although you get access to a website with essential features including phenomenal customer support, you are limited to only hosting one website. As it turns out, I’m totally addicted to creating websites. So a few months later I upgraded to GrowBig, paying the full price for that plan.
Here are a few of the additional features the GrowBig and GoGeek plans offer:
- Priority support available on GrowBig and GoGeek: I’ve never waited too long for Siteground’s customer service; they have insanely fast response times. But they do prioritize GrowBig and GoGeek clients with priority, which would definitely be helpful if you’re a beginner with the tech stuff (like I am!).
- SG Optimiser: one of the most important things for every serious blogger is how fast our websites load! Siteground knows this is important for keeping the visitor on your website and for better SEO rankings. Siteground’s WordPress caching solution (the SG Optimiser) is available with the GrowBig and GoGeek plans and it helps speed up a website up to several times.
- Multiple websites: Like I mentioned, Siteground’s StartsUp plan allows only one domain name and website. So, if you’re interested in hosting more than one website in the same hosting account, definitely consider either the GrowBig or GoGeek plan.
After you select your plan and either purchase or transfer your new domain, all you have to do is take a few minutes to fill out your information.
Before you complete your purchase, Siteground gives you the option to select extra services. If you don’t want your own personal information to become publicly available, spend the extra $12/year to purchase domain privacy. They also give you the option of purchasing the SG Site Scanner which checks your website daily and lets you know if your website has been hacked.
Seriously, you can start a website at less than $3.95/mo! It’s one small sacrifice (like skipping the coffee) every month in order to start the profitable blog of your dreams.
UPDATE: Right now, for Black Friday, Siteground is offering starting plans as low as $2.95 per month!!! These kind of deals are hard to come by, so click here and claim your coupon.
3. Install WordPress
Immediately after you set up your domain and hosting, you can install WordPress! Either take advantage of Siteground’s one-click WordPress installation or ask a Siteground customer representative to install WordPress for you. If you ever run into any trouble, Siteground has amazing, quick 24/7 customer service representatives who are prepared and enthusiastic about answering any questions you have. Once you install WordPress, bookmark your WordPress dashboard. You can access your WordPress dashboard by typing in:
4. Install a theme
We recommend purchasing a theme for your new WordPress website. Our favorite places to buy WordPress themes include:
- Elegant Themes – I LOVE the Elegant Themes collection, in particular, the Divi framework theme. The Divi framework provides you with a professional looking and customizable design. If you use our link you can get a 10% discount on your purchase.
- Etsy – yes, you can buy digital products on Etsy! If you’re on a budget, we definitely recommend purchasing your theme from Etsy. The shop Cityhousedesign offers affordable themes with great support.
- Themeforest – You can also find a variety of themes on Themeforest for anything you’re trying to pull off or accomplish.
If you don’t want to fuss with customizing your blog, and you just want to get started already, check out our Services page to learn more about our WordPress blog design packages.
5. Navigating the WordPress dashboard
If you’re new to WordPress you might be overwhelmed by its Dashboard. Don’t worry, once you learn all the terms, you’ll realize how simple it can be. Let me walk you through the WordPress dashboard options on the sidebar.
The “Posts” option helps you organize your posts, including your post categories and tags. You can view “All Posts” including drafts and edit your posts from here. When you add a new post, you can also manage its categories and tags. Please, please make sure “Uncategorized” is unchecked. Give each post the love and recognition it deserves. Assign it to a category. Categories are your blog’s overarching concepts. Like, for example, my categories are lifestyle, travel and blogging. As for tags, you can think of them like subcategories or hashtags. If you link your blog to Bloglovin, your tags will show up whenever you post a new post!
The “Media” section showcases files you upload, including images. You can see what you’ve already opened by clicking Library. To add a new photo, click “Add New”. You can also add to your media library when you are editing a post. You can title your images, edit their sizes, and update the Alt Text. Make sure you update the Alt Text on every image. This will contribute to your website’s search engine optimization and will help your articles rank higher on search engines.
Different than posts, Pages do not show up on your blog’s feed. You can get creative with the type of pages you make, but essential pages to write are an About Me page and a Contact page.
This section is where you can manage the comments on all your posts. You can approve comments, mark them as spam, and even reply to them!
The appearance section of your Dashboard is where you can select or upload your theme, and customize the look of your blog. Believe me, I really like the idea of being frugal. So, I tried finding a free theme. But, the customization that paid themes allow is tenfold. You are more likely to find the theme you want if you spend $20-50 on a theme. Themeforest has a huge marketplace for themes and it’s quite easy to navigate their website. While you’re searching for themes, all you have to do is hover over an image and it shows you that theme preview.
Plugins are an additional way you can customize your blog. Think of them like apps that help you make your blog do what you want! Plugins are what make WordPress.org software so much better than free hosted blogs.
And then what?
If you’re feelin’ lost, you definitely need my list of 11 Things You Need for a Successful Blog Launch. When I prepared for our blog’s launch, we successfully grew our email list to 265 subscribers and social media accounts to 100 combined followers. It goes to show that while you’re working on perfecting your blog, you can still grow your audience.
- 11 Things to Do Before Blog Launch
- How to Make Money Blogging: How This Blogger Made Her First $1,000 Blogging
- Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: How to Monetize Your Blog with Affiliate Marketing
My biggest piece of advice: yes, blogging has a learning curve.
You’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way, and there’s a lot that you’re going to want to change. It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. And, believe us, it’s okay to learn as you go.
It’s just as important to never give up. There are days I think this isn’t going to work out… take them as they come, but find ways to get past them. Because: it is going to work out. You just need to be proactive and figure out the “how.”
I love helping beginner bloggers take the first steps in their blogging journeys, and build successful and profitable blogs. Click here to join the Reroute Lifestyle community!