Time to get started
You have kicked around the idea of starting a blog long enough, it’s time to just do it. Or maybe you have setup a blog on one of the free services like Blogger or WordPress.com and you want to take it to the next level by monetizing your work. Setting up your own blog on your own domain (web address) is easier than you think. It really only takes about 15 minutes and $50.
What are some of the advantages of setting up a blog on your own domain?
- Brand Control – With a website and a custom URL (web address i.e. something.com) you can control what your brand looks like
- It looks more professional – If you really want people to take you and what you have to say seriously you have to have your own web page
- Make some money – Most of the free sites will not let you add the code to run Google and other ads on your blog, you can easily make enough ad revenue to pay for your blog
- It’s cool to have your own address – I am sure by now you have been following other blogs with custom addresses and you wanted to know how to set up one of your own
- Professional eMail – Having your own website lets you set up an email address to go with your blog email@example.com
How to get started
1. Register your domain name
First things first you have to figure out what you want the address (domain name) to be. Your domain name should be easy to type out and remember. Keep in mind that you are going to be typing it a lot and you want it to be memorable for your audience. You don’t want something like www.isetupandwritesupercomplicatedblogposts.com.
Once you decide on a domain name you need to register it. The cheapest way I have found to do this with Google Domains. It costs around $13 a year to register your domain name. Some domain registers also offer web hosting. So not only can you get an address from them, they will provide a place for you to keep your blog.
2. Find a hosting company
Once you set up your domain name you need to find somewhere to park your blog. This is the web server where your blog will actually live. There are several companies that offer hosting services. I use BlueHost for mine. They have great prices and their customer service is top notch. Some of the others are GoDaddy, Wix, HostGator and much more. Shop around and find the best price. A year of hosting a basic blog should only be about $40 a year, if it’s that much. I think I got a deal on BlueHost for $2.95/month which works out to roughly $36/year.
3. Install WordPress
WordPress is by far the most popular blog creation software. You will need to install it on your web host once you are ready to go. Bluehost does offer a one click WordPress install. Once you get it installed you can start adding plug-ins. Which are user created apps that can enhance your blog. People have already created plug-ins that can handle shopping carts, Pinterest buttons, and email integration. Anything you could need for your blog is probably available.
4. Link affiliates
You want to make some money from your blog, right? The two easiest ways to that are Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliates. Let’s look at how to set both of these up. Now you won’t make millions in your first month, but as your blog grows so does your chance for revenue.
Google AdSense –Sign up for a Google AdSense account and then add the small code snippet to your website. Google will tell you it needs to be in the <Head> section of your website. Don’t worry, this sounds complicated but it really isn’t. Just add the Header and Footer plugin for WordPress. On the left side of the dashboard, you will see the settings button. Click it and select Header and Footer. In the top left box of the next screen just paste the code snippet there. Give it about an hour and then check your AdSense account and you should see that your website is verified.
At this point, you should install the Google AdSense plug-in to your WordPress. This will let you customize where the Google ads will appear. While you are at it, you can also customize what kind of ads appear on your site on your Google AdSense dashboard.
Top tip, if you use an adblocker in your browser you will not be able to see the ads that appear on your site to check they are working. Make sure you whitelist your own site in your adblocker.
Amazon Affiliates – Go to the Amazon Affliates sign up site and create an account. If you already have an Amazon account for shopping you can easily link the two accounts together. Once you are approved you can start linking to Amazon products. Make sure you enable the Site Stripe under the Tools menu. This way, all you have to do is search for a product on Amazon and it will create the sale links for you to add to your blog. You can also create native ad units like this:
Or you can customize the products that are shown in the box. I will cover that in another blog. Just trying to get you up and running right now. To insert these links you need to cut and paste the code into the “Text” tab at the top of the blog editor. I do recommend you do your actual writing in the visual tab. It makes it easier for adding pictures and formatting your text.
5. Promote, Promote, Promote
This is the part no one really likes. If you don’t tell anyone about your blog, then no one will read it. I recommend the easiest thing you can do is set up a page on your Facebook for your blog posts. This is really easy and makes it simple to get your posts out to a fairly large audience. Facebook is still the largest platform for social media. Once you create your page asks your friends to like the page and share with their friends. This way you can automatically post your new content on your blog to Facebook.
Secondary to Facebook I would recommend Twitter. It’s a fast way to get your posts out to a large number of people. Make sure you follow people who are in your blog’s niche. Feel free to tag them in your Twitter posts to fish for a retweet. And include a link to your blog post in your tweets.
Pinterest is another great way to promote your blog, but it is a little more involved with the setup. I am still figuring it out myself.
The last really easy way to promote your blog is Google+ if you haven’t used it before, now is a good time to check it out. There are large communities that are centered around different topics. It’s easy to find and join a couple that interest you. You can then post your blog links to them. I by far get the most traffic from Google+.
What are you waiting for? You can be blogging right now. If you are waiting to build a following first or have a couple of posts pre-written, there is nothing wrong with that. Just because you set up the blog and hosting doesn’t mean you have to start that day. You can always set up a nice “Coming Soon” landing page, invite people to join your mailing list at that time to be notified of new content as it becomes available.
Setting up your own blog is fun and easy and you will get a great sense of accomplishment once you go live. It takes courage to put yourself out there. Remember even the greatest bloggers you follow had to start somewhere. If you work at it and stick to it, you will be successful!
If you need more help
There are lots of great articles out there to help with specific questions you might have. Or if you would like someone to set up your blog for you, I can do that. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and pricing. I can have you up and running in a day. Or if you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.
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