Blogging is still the #1 most accessible way to make money online in 2021.
More bloggers than ever are sharing their 5-6 figure monthly income reports.
Want a piece of the action?
Well starting a blog is simple….but it isn’t easy. That is unless you have a step-by-step guide outlining exactly what to do.
In this article, I’m going to detail all of the steps for proper site setup so you can monetize your blog for years to come.
⚒️ What you Need to Start a Blog
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog?
Unlike many other ways to make money online, the cost to get a new blog off the ground is very minimal.
So how much does it cost to start a blog?
There are two recurring expenses you will have for every new blog:
- Domain Name Registration ($8 per year)
- Hosting ($50-75 per year)
⚠️ If you plan on having multiple blogs, make sure to pick a plan that allows you to host more than one site so you can split the hosting expense between them.
Once you get your blog started you may incur additional costs like:
- Premium WordPress Theme and Plugins
- Link Building (getting other sites to link to you)
- Email Marketing Service
- SEO and Marketing Tools
At the bare minimum, you will have to sign up for a couple of tools after your blog starts making some money if you are serious about making a full-time living through blogging.
How to Pick Your Blog’s Niche
Now that we have covered how much money a blog costs to start and the different ways you can monetize it, it’s time to talk about niche selection.
My standard advice is usually to start your first blog in a niche that you are passionate about or at the very least interested in.
This makes it easier to follow through to the finish line and not give up (trust me you want to see it all the way through for the maximum reward).
Below are some of the most popular blogging niches:
- Blogging about Blogging
While the above niches are all wildly popular, they are all broad and very saturated.
One way to stand out is to write about a smaller segment of a broader niche. This is called a sub-niche.
Here are the main niches I would avoid unless you already have some major blogging experience under your belt:
The above niches have the highest returns (you could make six figures per month), but they also are the most competitive.
How to Choose a Domain Name
A lot of time can be wasted trying to decide on the perfect name for your blog, but I do have a few tips for picking a good domain name.
Use a .com
Try to use a .com as your domain extension if possible. The only exception should be if you live in a country where your domain is also strong like .co.uk or .com.au and you’re targeting a non-US audience.
You will see plenty of blogs use .net and .org extensions, but I would advise against this.
People are more likely to click on the search result of a site with a .com extension (I don’t have any hard data to back this up, it’s just my experience from working with various blogs over the years).
So just stick to a .com domain when starting your blog.
No Hyphens or Numbers
There isn’t really any explanation needed.
Stay away from using a domain with hyphens or numbers.
They look spammy.
Keep it short (2-3 words max)
Two to three-word domains are just more memorable than a longer name.
I prefer to start my search with two-word domains, but I’m not against a three-word domain if it’s catchy and makes sense in the niche.
I’m also a big fan of alliteration when branding a blog. This means using the first letter to start both words.
An example would be SeriouslySmoked.com (Grilling Niche).
Alliteration isn’t necessary, but I usually like to start off my search with it in mind.
Basically, I like to keep my domain names short and sweet.
Check it on Archive.org
Archive.org is a recorded history of all websites (hence the name).
Before you pull the trigger on buying a domain name, plug it into Archive.org to see if it has ever been used for a spammy site or a site that is not topically relevant to the content you will be producing.
If either of these is the case, just move on to a different domain name.
See if it’s Already Indexed with Google
If you happen to pick up a domain name that was recently dropped it may still be indexed with Google.
You can check to see what pages (if any) are still in Google’s index.
In the Google search bar type:
If there are any pages indexed you will see them in the results.
Checking indexation is just a foolproof way to make sure your domain wasn’t recently used for anything spammy, illegal, or completely off-topic to your niche.
Run a Trademark Search
The last thing you want to happen is to start a blog, get it profitable, and then get a letter telling you that you have been infringing on a company’s trademark.
It’s never personally happened to me, but I’ve heard a couple of horror stories.
So make sure to check every domain name in your jurisdiction’s trademark database.
In the USA it’s as easy as running a query on the US Patent and Trademark Office website.
If the words in your domain name show up as trademarked, you should scrap it and move on to a different option.
Where Should You Buy Your Domain Name?
NameSilo has been my preferred domain registrar for years.
They offer the cheapest domain name registrations in the industry.
Most other registrars or hosting companies that give you a complimentary domain name charge between $9-15 per year for WHOIS Protection.
If you own a lot of domains, those additional fees can really add up come re-registration time.
But the main reason I love NameSilo is they include free-forever WHOIS Protection with every domain.
Plus NameSilo’s domain management interface is super clean and easy to use.
Where Should You Host Your Blog?
There are a number of quality choices when it comes to website hosting.
Below are my 3 favorite hosting platforms for blogs:
✅ FAST Litespeed Servers
✅ Starting at $1.99 per month
✅ Free Site Transfers
✅ 24/7 Real-time Chat Support
✅ Managed Security
✅ Automated Backups
Getting ready to purchase hosting for your blog? Check out the 7 Best Web Hosting Options for Bloggers
Getting Started with WordPress
Once you have purchased your domain name and hosting, the next step is setting up the domain and installing WordPress.
Almost every host has 1-Click WordPress install, so it should literally be as easy as ONE CLICK.
Congrats! Now you are ready to start building your blog!
Once you have WordPress installed, you can optionally spend money on a premium WordPress theme that will make your life a little easier.
The WordPress theme is essentially the framework of your blog.
When I first started out I took the cheap path and used a free theme that took forever to customize and had no tech support.
I would spend days (sometimes weeks) tweaking all of the code and making adjustments just to get my blog to look and feel the way I wanted.
It was a total time suck.
So, I did some research on premium themes and narrowed it down to a couple that I liked.
Here are my favorite WordPress themes for bloggers:
✅ Lifetime deal available
✅ Unlimited site license
✅ Easy to start quickly
✅ Best support forum
✅ Great theme library
WordPress plugins offer additional functionality that isn’t available in the core code of the theme.
Unless you build your site from scratch and are already an accomplished coder, you are going to need to use a few plugins to get the best results.
That being said, sometimes plugins are built with bloated code that can slow down your site, so try to keep them to a minimum.
How to Create a Logo for Your Blog
Many new bloggers spend wayyyyy too much time on creating a logo.
Creating a logo should be the least of your worries.
It should really be the last step before you start writing posts for your new blog.
I use Canva Pro to create my blog logos and I suggest you do the same.
They have a large assortment of premade logo designs that you can customize and tweak to your liking.
I use Canva Pro almost every day to create images for my blog and social media accounts.
If you use Pinterest to generate traffic to your blog having a Canva Pro subscription will make life a whole lot easier too.
It’s a must-have program if you are serious about becoming a successful blogger.
🎨 Keep your logo simple. You can always go back and do a professional rebrand once you start making money from your blog.
How to Start a Blog Checklist
Once you have completed all of these steps you can start writing your blog posts.
Wondering where you should start?
Every niche is different, so analyze the topics that other successful bloggers in your niche are writing about and create similar content.
This doesn’t mean you should copy what they are doing, simply use it as inspiration.
If you are creative and stay consistent with your writing, you will no doubt have success as a blogger!
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