Do you want to increase your income with a blogging side hustle? Excited to get started but overwhelmed by all the “experts” with different advice? Do you wonder if there is actually money to be made in the blogosphere?
I wondered the same thing so I decided to jump in neck deep and find out. I’m here to help you navigate the water of starting your blog. I will also be providing updates on the monetary gains or losses in my blogging experiment.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive commission if you make a purchase using this link. However, I never recommend a product I would not or do not use myself. This is one way to make a little profit from your blog but that’s another post.
I have only recently added blogging to my side hustle game. I ran into a few snags along the way. It is not exactly as simple as some bloggers make it sound. At least if you aren’t a computer programmer or graphic designer.
I decided to share the cold-hard truth with you all about my blogging journey. I must confess that I have not made a profit yet. Truthfully, I’m not sure that I will. If this is a massive failure as far as money is concerned, I will tell you the truth. However, if I manage to make a few bucks, I’ll let you know that as well.
Purpose & Platform
If you are ready to make the leap into blogging, you must first ask yourself what is your purpose? Are you looking to share your thoughts and ideas with the world or are you looking to make an income? The answer to this question will be the deciding factor as to which platform you should choose. There are several platforms to pick from and this is where you will encounter your first WTF.
There are 3 main platforms most people use for blogging. Those are:
The purpose of your blog will dictate which of these you should choose.
Free vs Self-Hosted
If you think you may ever want to make money from your blog, skip Blogger and go straight to WordPress. Now, here is where you run into your first issue. Wordpress has two different types of blogging platform, one is found at WordPress.com, the other is found at WordPress.org.
The two platforms look similar with the main difference being that a free WordPress blog (WordPress.com) cannot be monetized and will not run plug-ins (the things that make all the cool stuff happen).
The self-hosted WordPress blog (WordPress.org) can be monetized with affiliate links, Google Adsense, etc to allow you to make money from your blog. This type of site can also have plug-ins installed for add-ons such as email marketing, SEO tracking, and social media sharing buttons. If you want to make money from your blog, you must have a self-hosted WordPress blog (WordPress.org)
I started my thriftylivin blog in 2012 on a free WordPress account. I wrote there for several years before I decided to make the move to a self-hosted site. Once I made the switch to the self hosted WordPress, the learning curve was much smaller because I was already accustomed to the format.
No matter which platform you choose to use the first thing you should do is choose your niche. Choosing a niche is super important when it comes to making a profit. If your posts are jumping all over the place, it is much harder to speak with authority on your main topic.
Next, you have to pick your name. I recommend using something easy to spell and remember. Many bloggers use their own name and make themselves the brand. You may also choose to have the topic of your main niche in your name.
When I chose my name, I knew my niche would be about saving and making money because that is my passion. I played around with lots of words such as frugal, cheap, thrifty, bargain, etc. I made different combinations until I found one that had a ring to it and I felt was a true representation of what I wanted my blog to be about.
Is the domain name available?
Once you have an idea for your name, you need to see if someone has beaten you to it. You can use a site such as Godaddy or Google Domains to check the availability of the name you want and you can even purchase the domain name through one of those sites. However, I highly recommend using Bluehost for domain purchasing because I recommend using Bluehost as your blog hosting site and it is SO much simpler if you host the site and domain name with the same company.
Now that we have our domain name purchased, it is time to set up our hosting site. As I said, I highly recommend hosting with Bluehost <<yes, it’s an affiliate link >> because I use them and they are fabulous. The control panel has all the tabs you will ever need in one easy to understand page.
Once you have purchased your hosting and domain name through Bluehost, all you have to do is go down to the website tab in your Bluehost control panel and click the button that says Install WordPress.
It really is that simple! See why I don’t mind being an affiliate for them. I use them and I love them because they take all the technical stuff out of the equation. Yes, I need that. I’m a cheapskate teacher not a computer programmer so I need all the technical help I can get.
If you aren’t as impressed as I was am with Bluehost, another popular hosting site for WordPress blogs is Hostgator. I can’t help you with how this site operates as I have never used it but I know that many bloggers do use and love it. If you’re interested in learning more about Hostgator, check out this bloggers take on it HERE.
12/17/16 Update: While I did begin my blog using Bluehost as my hosting site, I quickly realized that they were not the service for me. The downtime of my site when hosted through Bluehost was not as high as I wanted. I recently switched my hosting to Siteground and couldn’t be more please with the service. My website load speed increased as well as my view due to the load page increase.
Bluehost is a slightly cheaper option and may still be an option if you are just starting out and cost is a concern. I recommend checking out both and making your decision from there. For my site, I much prefer Siteground.
Now that you have the setup part done, you can go to your WordPress Dashboard by typing www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin. You are ready to start setting up the look of your site.
The first thing to do is choose your theme. On the left tab of the dashboard, click on Appearance, then Theme and pick one you like. Be careful not to get overwhelmed. This is not a life-changing choice. It can be changed anytime. You can choose a free theme or purchase a theme. I use Customizr which is a free theme for this blog.
Your blog will not look exactly like the preview at first, you have to customize it to suit you once the theme is installed.
Create the look you want
Now it is time to set up your categories, menu, and pages. This can get a little confusing so I will try to make it as simple as possible. The menu is what shows up at the top of your home page. It is the tabs you want people to be able to click on to go to another place. Before you can create a menu, you have to create your categories. These are all the “names” of the tabs you want to show up in your menu.
Go to the tab on the left that says posts and in the drop down you will see categories. Once you click on categories, it will take you to the page to create a new category. After you have created all your categories, go back to the appearance tab and go to menu. Choose the categories you want to show up in your menu by dropping and dragging them in the order you want.
You can create menus for the top of sidebar as well as subcategories but for now we will stick with one menu at the top. Once you get the hang of it, you can get more complex.
You can also add pages to your menu. A page is simply a section of your blog that rarely changes, such as your About Me or Contact Us information. You can create a new page by clicking on the pages tab on the left. If you want to add a page to your menu, just go back to the menu section and drop and drag the page where you want it.
You should have your basic set up completed and be ready to start posting. Create your first post by clicking post, add new on the left sidebar.
If you want to add specific features to your dashboard or blog, you can do that by installing plugins. Just click Plugins, add new on the left side bar to start exploring. I do recommend that you install an SEO plugin such as WordPress All in One SEO or Yoast SEO early on. These will help you to start learning the basics of SEO and how to get your blog seen by search engines.
There are other things to learn such as social sharing on sites like Pinterest and Facebook but for right now you are ready to start writing.
Get that first post out of the way and start letting your passion flow.
When you are ready to share, add your post in the comment section. Feel free to follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. I would love to see what you are blogging about and share it with my readers.
Other Side Hustles
I believe that the key to a good side hustle is for it to be something you enjoy. Who wants to do something they hate in their free time? If you are looking for other side hustles to help increase your income be sure to check out my other posts such as:
Check back often for more side hustle ideas. Get that debt snowball rolling are get ready to retire, no matter what your age!
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