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If you’ve landed on this page, chances are you want to start your own blog and make money blogging, or you may already have a blog but you’re wondering how to take it to the next level.
That’s awesome! Kudos to you for wanting to invest in yourself and your passions!
If you want to blog as a hobby, or if your blog serves you as a creative outlet or a platform to express your thoughts, this post may not be for you.
If you’re not interested in monetizing your blog to its full extent or you don’t care how many people will read your blog, the advice in this post may not be relevant to you.
But if you want to start your own blog and make money from it, then you’re in the right place because I will show you exactly how to set up a profitable blog.
If you’re here, I assume you already know what you will be blogging about and you have already picked a name for your blog.
If that’s not the case, no worries. Just take my FREE 5-day email course Blogging for New Bloggers Fast Track and we will brainstorm together!
CAN YOU REALLY START YOUR OWN BLOG AND MAKE MONEY FROM IT?
Oh yes, my answer is a big fat yes! In fact, I got some great news for you:
- Blogging is not dead. It’s very much alive and kicking! And you can still start your own blog and make money blogging in 2018!
- Pro bloggers such as Pat Flynn, Neil Patel, Darren Rowse, Melyssa Griffin, and many others make a fortune from their blogs (we’re talking about 6 figures A MONTH here). But they’re not the only ones making money blogging. Thousands of bloggers are generating an income from their blogs. Sure, it may vary from extra pocket money, to side-hustle earnings, to full-time income, to significant wealth, but the bottom line is if you’re not making money with your blog you’re leaving money on the table.
I’m not going to say you will make millions overnight with minimal effort.
As eloquently put by Brent at LinkyBlog, the self-proclaimed internet gurus who say so are the reason why most bloggers quit blogging within the first year of starting because of false expectations.
Truth is blogging is not easy, it requires lots of hard work, dedication, and consistency. And, as these detailed statistics reported by Anh Nguyen at BloggingThing show, less than 5% of bloggers earn more than $10,000 a month.
And I’m not saying that only because I have read tons of articles with statistics and income reports of successful bloggers.
I’m talking from experience too. In my first month of blogging, I made $128 through humorous posts on this very lifestyle blog. I make much more now, but the point is if I did it, so can you!
And so, without further ado, let’s dive into a few easy steps to set up your blog the right way if your ultimate goal is to generate an income through blogging.
PICK THE RIGHT PLATFORM
There are many free blogging platforms out there (WordPress, Blogger, Weebly to name a few).
However, if you want to start your own blog and make money from it, I strongly recommend to do it on self-hosted WordPress.
What I mean by self-hosted WordPress is to use WordPress.org.
Difference between WordPress.org and WordPres.com
Sometimes, especially at the beginning of your blogging journey, it’s easy to get confused between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, and between self-hosted WordPress and Premium WordPress.
But it’s really important to understand the difference between the two or you may end up picking the wrong platform.
So, let’s clear up the difference.
WordPress.org is the industry standard. It’s an open source software and content management system (CMS) which is free in itself, but to be able to use it you need to install it on a web server which means you need to pay for a web host to host your website on their server.
People commonly refer to this as self-hosted WordPress (which is the option you want to go for and we will see in a minute why).
WordPress.com is a hosting and blogging platform where you can host your blog for free but it comes with several limitations, including the inability to fully monetize your blog.
WordPress.com has also some paid plans (Premium, Business, and VIP) which allow some form of monetization but they are expensive and they still won’t let you fully monetize your blog the way you want it.
For example, you can’t install AdSense or other ad networks (you can only display the ads from their AdWords network) and you cannot have an affiliate marketing blog on WordPress.com which means the main purpose of your content cannot be to drive traffic towards other sites to generate sales.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use the occasional affiliate link if your blog offers plenty of valuable content. For instance, reviews of books or products are officially allowed by WordPress as an exception to their general rule.
In addition to these restrictions, WordPress.com comes with other limitations such as the inability to install plugins or Google Analytics (unless you’re on the Business plan but it costs $299 a year which is crazy and definitely not worth it!).
Last clarification for new bloggers: blogs on WordPress.com will have by default this type of address: www.yourblog.wordpress.com. If you purchase your custom domain www.yourblog.com but remain on WordPress.com, it does NOT mean you are self-hosted.
It only means that you have a custom domain but all the above limitations in terms of customization and monetization will still apply.
You can use this infographic on your blog!
If you already know that you would like to have your blog on WordPress.org, you can skip this part. Otherwise, read on to find out why going self-hosted WordPress is the best decision you can make if you want to start your own blog and make money.
Have you ever heard the old saying that to make money you need to spend money? Well, it’s so darn true! If you’re serious about blogging, you should definitely invest in your blog.
I understand that when you’re only starting out, you might not be ready to fork out hundreds of dollars on very expensive courses or blogging tools.
But starting on self-hosted WordPress is paramount and will save you lots of headaches down the track.
Most pro bloggers are on self-hosted WordPress. Last time I checked some statistics, around 37 million websites and 48% of Technocrati’s top 100 blogs were managed on WordPress.org.
There must be a reason, right?
I mean, most pro bloggers don’t just recommend it, they have their own websites set up that way. It’s not just a quick scheme to get you to spend money on a web host or something like that.
I made that investment myself and so have done many other bloggers who don’t blog as a hobby.
But the investment we’re talking about here is minimal. You can start a blog for as low as $3.95 a month.
What’s $50 a year in the big scheme of things? And that’s especially true when you consider how much the initial investment usually is for brick and mortar shops or any other kind of business.
Plus, we’re setting up a blog to make money, so you are most likely to recoup your initial investment within the first month, if not week.
So, what does this initial investment get you in return that free platforms (or even other paid platforms such as Wix, Joombla or Squarespace) can’t get you – or at least not as much as WordPress.org?
Here you have it.
- Full ownership of your website
- Full customization options
- Access to any plugin
- Full monetization options
- E-commerce capabilities
- Branding freedom
- Best Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Best analytics
- Professional look
- Preferred platform by brands for sponsored posts
- Access to StumbleUpon and similar
What are the downsides?
- Yearly or monthly expenses for web host and domain (between $50 and $100 a year all included for the average blog). It’s more expensive than free platforms but less expensive than other paid platforms such as Squarespace or WordPress Business
- You are responsible for your website’s maintenance. For example, you will have to keep it updated, back it up regularly, and run spam checks. Most web hosts will do it for you included in your web hosting fees but it’s best practice not to rely solely on them for your website’s maintenance. However, everything can be done through plugins, so it’s not like you will actually have to do it manually (unless you want to).
I would also like to add another advantage of being on self-hosted WordPress which is often underrated.
If you’re only starting out now, going with the mainstream option is a safer bet, as most – if not all – advice, posts, and tools around cater for and are targeted to self-hosted WordPress blogs.
Trust me, it will save you the headache of trying to figure out how to do things on a different platform or coming up with a turnaround when a feature or tool is not available on your platform.
I’m talking from personal experience here.
I initially started this blog on Squarespace, and later on migrated to self-hosted WordPress because of the endless limitations of Squarespace (unrelated to monetization – you can fully monetize your blog on Squarespace, and I did).
I was unable to get most plugins or tools and I had to figure it out a way to do what I wanted without that plugin or tool that all the other bloggers on self-hosted WordPress were using.
The migration has been painful and we’re still paying the consequences.
We had to deal with domain transfer, DNS propagation, content migration, redirection of URLs, website re-development, and many other problems and issues.
In the process, we lost most of our comments, some shares, over 5 points in domain authority and page authority, Alexa ranking, lots of traffic and so on.
And I must say Squarespace is overall a great platform.
A free platform such as WordPress.com com has many more substantial limitations than Squarespace, so you would be way more likely to want to migrate to self-hosted WordPress at some stage.
And trust me, you don’t want to go through the pain of a migration. And the more content you have on your blog, the more problems may arise during a migration.
So, regardless of whether you want to monetize your blog straight away or down the track, start with self-hosted WordPress and you won’t have the problem to migrate your website once you have a lot of content on it.
It doesn’t cost much, less than $4 a month.
PICK THE RIGHT WEB HOST
In order to use WordPress.org, you will have to connect your website to a server so you will need to sign up for a web host that will host your website on their server.
They’re both officially endorsed by WordPress itself, very popular amongst bloggers and the best choice for new bloggers due to their affordability.
I personally use Siteground for this very blog.
I can tell you why I decided to go with Siteground, and I will also show you how to get a 60% discount! YAY!
This was an important factor for me in choosing a web host. You don’t want to pay for a web hosting service only to find out your website is down and no one can access it, not even you!
I had read many comments from other bloggers on Facebook groups complaining of how their web hosts would give them a lot of downtime and no real supports to fix the issues.
I had also noticed that many knowledgeable bloggers were now switching to Siteground because of their better customer service, coverage, speed, and reliability, and how they were saying they never looked back.
Siteground has an uptime of 99.99%! So, first tick for me!
This was another aspect that was really important to me.
When I was with Squarespace my website was quite slow and I was worried, especially seen that Google takes into consideration page loading speed as a ranking factor.
While doing my research for the best web host, I found out that unlike other web hosts that still use HDD drives, Siteground uses SDD.
Second tick for me!
Thanks to SSD, PHP7, and HTTP/2 enabled servers, you will get a super-fast hosting with Siteground.
And with their “SuperCacher” caching system, it gets even faster!
Don’t worry if all that geek stuff sounds gibberish to you. You’re not required to know what SSD or PHP7 is, what matters is that your website is equipped with cutting-edge technology and loads as fast as it gets.
Customer service and support
The customer service at Siteground is unprecedented. It’s so good it’s hard to believe!
Their service is available 24/7 and you can reach them via chat or phone call.
When I decided to go self-hosted, I approached a few reputable web hosts
With other hosts, I waited for longer than 15 minutes (in one instance, 45 minutes) to be connected to a customer representative.
When I asked whether they could help with my migration, they redirected me to some tutorials to install WordPress, transfer the domain, install the SSL certificate (it’s what makes your URL https, instead of http, and your website secure to users), URL redirection and everything else needed.
Some web hosts pushed their paid service for the migration in the range of $150 (one off-expense on the top of the hosting fees) which however wouldn’t include the above.
And the worst part was that whatever query I had, they would reply by hard selling their plans, even with a certain frustration like “So, what plan would you like to sign up for?”
When you contact Siteground, they say they will be with you in a heartbeat.
I have no idea what kind of customers they have but my heartbeat doesn’t go that fast.
Every time I contacted them, they replied within a split second.
They answered all my queries in detail without even once mentioning their plans.
And the best part is they did everything for me included in their standard price of their hosting fees. I mean, they literally transferred the domain and installed WordPress and the SSL certificate for me.
So, customer service and support: tick, tick, tiiiiiiiiiiiick!
They will be with you within minutes and you can ask any questions, they won’t push you to sign up if you’re not ready.
While the web hosting fees of Siteground are comparable to other hosts, another benefit of signing up with them is that to get their best deal, you only need to pay 1 year in advance (basically less than $60 upfront).
If you want to get the best deal with most other web hosts, you will have to pay for 3 years in advance (between $105 and $200 upfront).
The fact that Siteground offers its introductory rate even if you only pre-pay for a year is a great advantage for new bloggers!
Maybe you don’t have a big budget for your initial investment or maybe you don’t want to lock yourself in a contract for 3 years when you don’t even know if blogging is really your call yet.
So, having the option to pay for only one year in advance to get the best deal or to lock the introductory rate for up to 3 years is awesome!
I really think Siteground is the best host you can get for your new blog and it’s the one I picked for my own, even though I’m affiliated with most other good web hosting providers.
But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Here is what other bloggers are saying about Siteground!
HOW TO START YOUR OWN BLOG WITH SITEGROUND IN 6 EASY STEPS
Step 1 – Pick the right shared hosting plan
All right, first thing in order to start your own blog and make money is to pick the right shared hosting plan for your needs and set up your account with Siteground.
Let’s see how to do it with these super easy steps.
You will be ready to go in less than 5 minutes!
Siteground offers three shared hosting plans.
StartUp – can host one website and handle up to 10,000 unique visits per month. It comes with the first level of the SuperCacher plugin enabled, the SSL certificate, unlimited emails, free daily backup and 24/7 customer support.
GrowBig – can host multiple websites and can handle up to 25,000 unique visits per month, 30 backup copies and free restore, all 3-levels of our SuperCacher, and customer support with priority.
GoGeek – can host multiple websites and can handle up to 100,000 visits per month, has all features of the other plans plus other geek stuff such as 1-click WP staging, pre-installed git, PCI compliance and fewer accounts on the server.
If you’re only starting now. You can choose the StartUp plan. It will suit your needs for now and you can always upgrade and scale up down the line as your blog grows. Otherwise, I think the GrowBig is the best value for money and it’s the plan I have started on.
Once you picked your plan, click on Get started.
Step 2 – Register your domain
Hopefully, by now you will have already picked your blog name and domain.
If you already have a domain, enter it and Siteground will point it to their server for free.
If you don’t have a domain yet, you can register one with Siteground. It will be an additional $15.95 a year.
This option might be cheaper (depending on the domains available on Namecheap) and some people say it’s safer (you won’t have all your eggs in one basket), but I personally find it easier to have everything in one place so I transferred and registered my domain with Siteground.
Whatever you decide to do, I recommend getting a domain with the .com suffix.
And if you’re not sure what domain to get, again, just take my FREE 5-day email course Blogging for New Bloggers Fast Track and we will figure it out together.
Step 3 – Set up your account information
Enter your email address and pick a password.
Note these account details somewhere safe because you will need them to access your Siteground account once the set up is completed.
Step 4 – Enter your information
Wow, it’s getting real now! Fill out the form with your personal details and payment information.
Step 5 – Choose the length of your contract
Here is where you can get the best deal!
If you choose at least 12 months you won’t only get 60% OFF the regular price but you will also get the set-up fees of $ 14.95 waived!
If you chose 24 months or 36 months you will pay a bit more now but you will get the introductory rate locked in for 2 or 3 years.
Here you can also choose the data centre you would like your website to be hosted at. By default, the form will indicate the closest data centre to your location but you can change it if you like.
Step 6 – Add any extras
Here you can choose some add-ons.
The Domain Privacy costs $12 a year and will prevent people from seeing your details including your phone number on Whois domain lookup and other similar registers.
The SG Site Scanner costs $19.80 a year and it’s a malware detection and early warning system.
I added both the Domain Privacy and the SG Site Scanner.
But you don’t have to if you think you won’t need them. And you can always add them later if you change your mind.
Tick the little checkbox to confirm that you have read and agree to the terms of service and click on pay now.
YAY! You’re all set!
You will receive an email from Siteground shortly with your log in details.
Now that you have a web host, you will need to download and install WordPress.
Wait, don’t panic!
Leave the task to figure out how to do that on their own to the bloggers who choose other web hosts.
You’re with Siteground, so no need to worry about!
And while you are it, ask them to install the SSL certificate for you for free.
It’s what will make your domain https instead of http so that Google won’t warn users that your site might not be safe.
Once Siteground sets up your WordPress site, they will give you your login details.
And if you go to https://yourblog.com/wp-login.php (change yourblog.com to your domain), this will show up.
You can log in now and start customizing your website!
PICK THE RIGHT THEME
WordPress comes with free themes and Siteground has probably already installed one for you.
To browse free themes and pick one for your blog, in your WordPress dashboard go to Appearance and click on Themes.
Then click on Add new.
This is my dashboard and as you can see, I have tried out and tested a few themes.
Some of these are free and some are premium.
Some nice free themes I have found are Kale, Lucienne, OceanWP, and Minalite.
Free themes come with limited functionalities and features, no obligation or support and of course, they’re not so unique as many users use the same ones.
You will never be able to customize your website the way you want it with a free theme. The customization and flexibility of a free theme is very limited.
There is nothing wrong with starting out with a free theme.
But as we’re talking about starting your own blog and make money here, I strongly recommend that you get a premium theme or else you will miss out on many features that play an important role in your monetization strategy.
Once you install the theme you’ve picked, you will have to customize it to make your blog look the way you like. So, have fun working on the design of your website! If you’re a creative person you will love this part, if not, don’t worry and don’t stress, your content is more important than any pretty design.
While you customize your theme, start promoting the launch of your website.
Don’t waste precious time!
Build a Coming soon page and promote it so that once the website is ready you will already have an engaged audience and some subscribers.
You don’t have to worry about people seeing your website incomplete or being able to track the changes and progress you’re making.
There is a plugin that allows you to create a beautiful Coming soon page to start collecting email addresses of people interested in your upcoming blog, and keep the rest of your website hidden.
YOU’RE ALL SET!
All right, you got your new website and your coming soon page is up, well done!!!
You are ready to rock the blogging world!!!
Keep having fun customizing the design, start writing awesome content and then promote, promote, promote!
Let me know in the comments if you set up your blog and how it all went. If you have any questions leave them in the comment or join me in the Facebook Group Blogging for New Bloggers, a supportive community of over 3.4K awesome bloggers and growing!
Take my FREE 5-day email course Blogging for New Bloggers Fast Track for extra detailed and actionable tips on how to start your own blog and make money within the first 6 months of your blogging journey!