Not too long ago, I was exactly where you are — wanting to start a blog but not sure exactly how to go about it.
I launched Work from Home Happiness at the end of April 2015. It’s grown enough since then that now I make a full time living blogging — just ten short months later! You can too.
It all started with absolutely nothing but the desire to blog and a willingness to learn. If you’re going into this with no prior blogging knowledge or experience — that’s okay.
The truth is, you don’t need any special knowledge, technical skills, or coding know-how to launch your own money-making blog.
With this guide, you will learn every step you need to take, from start to finish, with the end result being a fully launched WordPress blog ready to be monetized out the gate!
Ready? Let’s go! This is the first step in what will certainly be an exciting journey.
Pick Your Niche
What are you going to blog about? The answer to this is what’s known as your niche. Here, at Work From Home Happiness, the niche is all things related to working from home — making extra money online, freelancing, legitimate jobs leads — you get the idea.
So, what’s your niche?
One of the most effective ways to pick is by turning to your hobbies and interests. It’s much easier and far more authentic when you actually blog about something you know and love. Your audience will pick up on your enthusiasm and reward you with social shares and frequent visits to your little corner of the Internet.
Some people start a blog based on what they determine to be a profitable niche. But, be warned, starting a blog based on a niche you have no personal connection with can be draining. You may keep up with the effort for some time, but when the passion just isn’t there, you’ll end up abandoning the project before it really gets going (and then you’re no better off than you were!)
And since we’re in this for the long haul, it’s a good idea to start with what you love and build it up from there.
But There Are Already So Many Blogs…
If you think there’s no room for you in what can sometimes feel like a crowded blogosphere — think again! The key to finding your own success in a competitive market is to find your own unique angle:
- Are you a parent bursting with life hacks that make it easy to balance work and family?
- Can you eat organic and gluten-free on a shoestring budget?
- Have you mastered the art of vegan Crockpot cooking?
- Do you throw epic themed dinner parties and backyard bashes?
Whatever it is you do really well (and love!) consider making that your niche! The more specific and targeted — the better.
The couponing blogging arena is a good example of this. Couponing is popular. There are entire television series dedicated to showing you how to save a dollar on just about anything. And there are a lot of people who have started very successful coupon-focused blogs.
How do all these bloggers make any money? The answer: They’ve all got different specialties within a much broader niche.
That’s why you can find coupon blogs dedicated to specific stores like Target, Aldi, Kroger, Dollar General, and Walmart. Some bloggers have taken that even further by focusing on a specific store within a certain geographic area like Georgia Super Walmart Savers or South Florida Save a Lot Shoppers — these are made up, but you get the point — you can find your own profitable slice of the blogging pie.
What’s in a Name? (Hint: A lot!)
Maybe you already have a name picked out. Maybe not. Before deciding, remember, your name will stick with your blog for a long time. It is how readers will relate to and remember you. To say it’s important is an understatement. It’s the platform from which you will build a brand — the right name will make all the difference in how well your blog is received by an audience.
No pressure, right?
So, how do you choose something that is 1) memorable and 2) sets the tone for your entire blogging career?
Get out a pen and paper and start jotting down words associated with your niche. That’s how I came up with Work from Home Happiness — I knew I wanted to blog about work from home and I wanted to help people find happiness in working on their own terms — and so Work from Home Happiness was born.
Granted, not the most clever or unique name ever, but it works for this blog.
You’ll want to try to find a name that is relatively short and easily remembered — if it targets a specific keyword, that’s definitely a bonus but certainly not required.
Pick a Couple of Backup Names — Just in Case!
When you come up with what you think is the perfect name for your blog, you need to come up with at least two others. Trust me on this one.
After you’ve come up with just the right name, there’s nothing worse than going to purchase the domain and — it’s taken. That’s why you’ll want to have at least two other names picked out and ready to go. Otherwise, you might lose your momentum, think all the good names are taken, and perhaps abandon your blogging dreams before there was ever a domain.
When you’ve got backup names ready to go, you won’t feel (as) defeated if your first choice is already taken.
So, Where Do You Purchase a Domain Anyway?
With a quick Google search, you’ll find that there are hundreds of places you can purchase a domain. But, perhaps the easiest way to go about it, is to purchase your domain directly from your hosting provider.
That’s okay. I was at first, too. Your domain name is the actual address where visitors will find your blog — workfromhomehappiness.com is mine. Once you purchase a domain, you’ll need a hosting provider in order to make your blog visible online.
Your hosting provider is kind of like your blog’s landlord — you’ll have to pay the hosting provider a monthly “rent” where your domain will live on the Internet.
That’s why, for the sake of simplicity, I recommend purchasing your domain directly through your hosting provider.
Which Host Should I Choose? And Why?
When you’re ready to pick out your name and get your blog hosted, head on over to BlueHost Why? I’ll give you three good reasons:
- 24/7 Support
- One-click WordPress Installation
- FREE Domain
BlueHost is known for their customer service and even offer a money-back guarantee. Plus, in just a few clicks, you can get your blog set up and ready to start making money — it really doesn’t get any easier than BlueHost.
Ready? Let’s get started. I’ll walk you through every step of the way.
This is one of similar screens you’ll see when you visit BlueHost. The important thing is to click the green “get started now” button.
This landing page highlights all the perks associated with BlueHost (many of which we’ve already discussed!) And lets you know you can get hosting for as little as $3.95 a month.
I know there are free options out there like Blogger or WordPress.com. Those sites are great — for hobby bloggers. When you’re looking to launch a money-making blog, you’ll want to go the self-hosted route. This gives your blog a more professional look and lets you more easily monetize your site (which is the ultimate goal, right?)
(Want to cover your blog startup costs? Check out these 101 Ways to Earn Extra Money Online!)
Pick Your Plan
The next screen will take you to an overview of all the plans BlueHost offers. As a beginner, many of the features may not mean much to you — parked domains, sub domains, and server power can all seem, well, confusing. Honestly, you don’t need to worry so much about these things to start.
When you’re starting a blog from scratch, the Starter plan will cover all your needs (and then some!) With this plan, you get your FREE domain and some nice bonuses like email accounts, email storage, and $50 worth of marketing offers!
If you find later, as your blog grows, that you want to upgrade, you can!
After you’ve chosen your plan, you’ll be automatically directed to the next page.
Time to Register Your Domain
Remember all that time you spent thinking up a domain name? Well, here’s where you actually get to make it your own!
I don’t know about you, but this was an exciting step for me. It’s one thing to decide to start a blog and pick a hosting plan, but it’s another thing to actually purchase a domain and make it your own!
If your first-choice domain happens to be taken — don’t worry. That’s why you came up with two backup names.
Note: It may be tempting to keep your first choice and go with a not .com option (.net, .biz, .ninja, .usa — the list goes on and on!) But it’s really a good idea to stick with dot com. Instinctively, your audience will put a dot com at the end of your site’s name. You certainly don’t want to miss out on readers because you picked yourfirstchoice.family 🙂
Once you’ve snagged your domain (congrats, by the way!) it’s time to provide BlueHost with your contact information.
This information is used to create your BlueHost account. Make sure you use an active email address — BlueHost will use it to contact you and communicate important info through this address.
Choose Your Package
After you’ve provided your contact info, you’ll need to actually pick your hosting package and any extras you want to go along with it. Note: The first line, Account Plan, defaults to the $3.95/month plan which is billed 36 months at a time.
If you’re not ready to commit to a three-year plan just yet, you can always select another one.
What About Extras?
It’s up to you whether or not you’d like to add any extras to your hosting plan (you certainly don’t need them.)
I always opt for Whois Privacy. What is Whois Privacy?
Each domain that is registered must also have contact information attached to it — including a name, address, email address, and telephone number. If you don’t choose Whois Privacy, the information displayed would be your personal information.
Scammers and spammers can scan the WHOIS database and mine it for data. I just don’t like the idea of having my personal information vulnerable like that. That’s why I choose Whois Privacy. Simply put, it keeps your private information out of public view. If you were only going to pick one extra — this would be it!
Once you’ve picked the options that make sense for you, you’ll need to provide your billing information in order to complete the transaction.
Make it Official
There haven’t been too many times I’ve been genuinely excited about a purchase — but when I bought my domain name and hosting plan, I was admittedly giddy! As you go through this huge milestone, I hope you are too.
All you need to do is put in your information, make sure you’ve read the Terms of Service and other policies and then move onto the next step.
WordPress is the go-to platform for bloggers — and for good reason! There are plenty of ways to customize your blog, add features through plugins, and truly make it your own creation.
WordPress really is a versatile (and easy!) way to get a functional and professional site fast. It’s not just for bloggers either. You might be surprised to learn that some big-name sites prefer WordPress for their online presence including:
- The New Yorker
- BBC America
- MTV News
- Best Buy
- Time Inc.
I can’t stress enough how wonderful WordPress is. Plus, when you host through BlueHost, you can install WordPress quickly and easily.
Head Over to Your cPanel
Now that you’re official (hooray!), it’s time to install WordPress so you can get busy blogging. First things first, head over to your BlueHost cPanel.
cPanel is like the command center for your site. When just starting out, you’ll only need to worry about getting WordPress installed. Simply, click on “Install WordPress” to get the process started.
From there, you’ll be directed to install the latest version of WordPress. All you need to do is click the “Start a brand new install” button.
Next you’ll need to select which domain you would like to install WordPress to. If you only purchased the one, you’ll see it selected by default.
This begins the process of installing WordPress for free directly to your new domain. You don’t have to upload any files, make any transfers, or direct anything anywhere — just click and go.
You’re just one step away now from being an official WordPress blogger.
Just name your site (your domain is fine) and note your Admin Username and Password (this is how you will login to your blog!) When you’re ready, click the Install Now button.
That’s it! You now have your own WordPress blog.
When you’re ready to log in and start making changes, you will need to navigate to your site followed by /wp-admin
For example: www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin
You’re directed to this screen where you’ll need to put in your Admin Name and Password that you created two screenshots up:
When you login, you’ll be directed to your dashboard. I’ll admit, it can look intimidating at first. But don’t be afraid of it! Your dashboard is where you will create pages, posts, and change the look and feel of your site and truly make it your own creation.
Customize Your Blog
Now that you’re up and running, you can select a theme. Your WordPress theme is what gives your blog its look. There are marketplaces, like Mojo Marketplace, where you can purchase one of thousands of available themes.
Before jumping in with a paid option, you might want to play around with the free themes that you can access directly through your dashboard. (Here’s a screenshot of my dashboard for reference:)
You’ll see three themes listed (all WordPress installs come with these). The Twenty Fifteen theme is active by default — but you can choose any theme you want!
If you’d like to try on a few and get a feel for customizing your blog, check out these 60+ Stunning Free Blog Themes for WordPress.
I (and many other bloggers) use the Genesis Framework combined with a child theme to get truly customizable (and fast!) sites. Visit StudioPress to learn more about Genesis and all the beautiful child themes out there.
Customizing your blog and getting familiar with your theme can take a little getting used to. Since each theme is unique, I can’t provide a step-by-step tutorial here.
There is a free Udemy course which will demonstrate WordPress fundamentals including customization and configuration of your blog. There’s also tons of valuable resources over at WordPress.org including tutorials that will teach you everything you need to know about blogging with WordPress (also for free!).
And, last but not least, don’t forget to snag your copy of my Guide to FREE Feminine WordPress Themes for a look at some of the prettiest themes that have premium features but won’t cost you a penny! Just sign up below and you’ll gain instant access to the pretty freebies.
That’s it. You’re now the newest member of the blogging community. Welcome. Please, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, comments, or just want to chat!
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