Updated: Feb 14
I’ve also made new friends and have been invited to partner on many new projects that I am excited about.
You can start a blog in less than 10 total clicks. Yup, and if you set up your site on a platform like Bluehost, it automatically walks you through every step of the process, from buying the domain to setting up your own blog.
After I go through the six steps I will expand on some of them in greater detail.
Step 1: Pick a Niche for Your Blog
Before you go about buying your domain name and setting up hosting, you need to decide what topic to blog about. While you might change directions or expand the scope of your website down the line, you need to start your blog with a clearly defined focus.
How To Choose a Blog Topic
As you set out to choose a topic for your blog, consider the following:
Your Passion: Blogging is one place where you should follow your heart. You’re far more likely to stick with blogging when the going gets tough if you’re writing about a subject you love. Not only will your passion motivate you when you’re 15 tabs deep in researching an article topic, but it will show through in your writing and make it that much more engaging. Look at issues that fascinate you, hobbies, your job (if you love it), and your favorite topics of conversation as starting points.
Your Experience: As I said above, blogging is a learning experience, so you don’t have to be an expert on your subject. That being said, you should pick a topic you’re familiar with. Look at your personal and professional experiences. What unique perspective have you gained from them that you could contribute online? Being knowledgeable about your niche also streamlines the research process and can make your life a whole lot easier.
The Numbers: There are plenty of affordable tools that can give you an idea of what people are searching for online. You can also look to top-performing blogs in your niche to see how they’ve found success. You should also research your audience. What kinds of people do you want to attract to your new blog, and what types of questions do you hope to answer for them? The answers to those questions will help you decide how to build your blog and approach the content you write.
The Money: In addition to researching for creative purposes, you can also analyze top sites to see how much money they make and how hard it will be to compete in a given niche. Some niches are more profitable than others, and if making money is one of your goals, you need to determine whether you could build a lucrative career in your field.
Looking at these factors should help you to pick the right niche and narrow down your topic.
Once you’ve landed on a topic, you need to pick a name for your blog.
How To Choose The Best Name For Your Blog
Choosing a name for your blog is one of the most crucial steps of starting a blog. The name will not only be your URL, but it will also be your brand!
So it’s super important that you come up with a name you love.
Here are a few strategies to help you craft the perfect name for your site. I recommend you break out a notebook (paper or digital), and get ready to brainstorm.
Your blog name should be unforgettable: Make it memorable, not too long, and use keywords related to your niche. You want readers to easily remember the name and make their way to your site, knowing what kind of content to expect when they get there.
Make a list: Start with 10 to 20 potential names for your blog. With so many websites in existence, you’ll probably find that some of your names are already taken, so you’ll want to have plenty of backups locked and loaded.
Get Inspiration, if needed: If you’re still stuck, take another peek at some of the competitors in your niche to see what kinds of names they have.
Think about domain names: Statistics show that domain names with 20 letters or less get more traffic because they are easier to type in and remember. And more traffic means more money!
Step 2: Choose Your Domain Name
A typical formula that I use when coming up with domain names is:
fun word + word related to your niche + .com
memorable phrase about your topic + .com
Some of the great domain name examples based on these two formats are:
Once you have a handful of creative titles in mind, you can see whether or not they’re available.
If your name isn’t available but you really love it, try tweaking it by adding a dash or an article like “the”
Domains ending in “.com” or “.org” are best.
To help protect your brand down the road, a common practice is to scoop up the “.com”, “.org” and “.net” variations of your domain.
Step 3: Set Up Web Hosting
Web hosting is what makes your new domain name live on the internet. Your host stores all of your site’s content and makes it accessible online so others can see your hard work.
This step may seem daunting, but you really can have a hosting account up and going in five minutes through a quick, hassle-free process.
How To Purchase Hosting For Your Blog
As I outline in greater detail on my blog post about the best web hosts, I personally recommend Bluehost.
You can select the cheapest plan and then upgrade later when you need more bandwidth; however, if you are going to take creating a successful blog seriously, you should consider an upgraded hosting plan from the start.
Here’s a quick look at the range of packages Bluehost has to offer, for reference:
If you didn’t already, take out the list you made of potential domain names and start searching. Always buy a .com domain – even if you have to search for a new name, the .com will always be more recognizable than some of the other new domain extensions (for example, don’t buy a .space domain!)
The next step is to add in your account and billing information. Here’s an example of what that looks like with Bluehost.
Review the package information and decide what term/add-ons you desire. The more months you purchase in advance, the better your rate will be. Whichever you feel comfortable with will be the best option for you!
Once you enter your payment info and accept the terms of service, you’re all set. Congratulations!
Pro Tip: Have a higher budget? While BlueHost is inexpensive and a great all around host, the absolute best web host for your new WordPress site is WPEngine. They ONLY host WordPress sites (like millennialmoney.com!) and have the best all around platform, support and customer service. They’ll set everything up for you and resolve any issues you have down the road in real time via chat, phone, or email.
Caution: Don’t Opt For Free Web Hosting if You’re Serious About Blogging
Free-hosted blogs, like WordPress.com, Blogspot, and Blogger, allow you to build a blog on the spot, free of charge.
While these sites might seem ideal, they come with some major limitations:
Domain Name: On a self-hosted blog, you don’t actually own your domain. Instead of mysite.com, your domain name will be mysite.wordpress.com, or blogspot.com/mysite, or whatever. Those free site URLs just don’t have the same ring or air of authority compared to having your own domain.
Monetization: Self-hosted blogs seriously limit your ability to make money blogging, hindering you from using affiliate programs and ads on your blog.
Limited features: Self-hosted sites come with far fewer themes, customization options, and plug-ins, keeping you from making your blog design all your own.
Ownership: Like your domain name, you don’t actually own your site, meaning the blogging platform could delete it or limit your ability to move your site to another platform in the future.
Uncontrolled Ads: Free web hosting accounts pay their bills with ads they place on your site without your permission or knowledge. Pop-up ads can slow down your site and give visitors a bad first impression.
Poor Google Performance: You’ll want visitors to find your site through Google and other search engines. Free hosting companies can slow your site’s rankings. Plus you couldn’t use Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from.
With a self-hosted blog, on the other hand, the sky’s the limit. You have endless customization options, ways to make money, and true ownership of your blog.
While those features may sound costly, hosting is unbelievably affordable if you choose the right host and package.
Step 4. Set Up Your Site with WordPress.org
Your host gets your site live on the internet, but WordPress helps you build your site.
Why WordPress? It’s the go-to for professional bloggers. WordPress is incredibly easy to use, fast, functional and highly customizable. Loads of free templates and plug-ins are available that can improve your reader’s experience, aid your writing and editing process, and allow you to make more money on your site.
After you secure your domain and hosting, WordPress should automatically install (you don’t need to click anything!). If you chose another hosting company besides Bluehost you may have to install WordPress manually.
Be sure you’re starting with WordPress.org and not WordPress.com. WordPress.org is the real deal — the content management system that gives you control. WordPress.com is the free blogging platform. A free blog limits your control.
After you install WordPress, be sure to record your WordPress log-in and password so you can log back in later.
Choose a WordPress Theme
If you opted for WPEngine as your web hosting company, you already have access to more than a dozen award-winning WordPress themes that can be installed with the click of a button.
If you decided on hosting with BlueHost, pick a WordPress theme you like to upload to your site from ThemeForest – there are a ton of designs and more are added regularly.
Pick a theme that is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and well-suited to your niche. Your readers should be able to easily get to the content they’re looking for from your home page. This theme will provide a visual framework of your site.
WordPress has lots of free themes, but you can also buy an affordable theme at WordPress.org or on a site like ThemeForest.
Familiarize Yourself With WordPress.org
Once you’ve picked a design for your blog, the next step is to get into WordPress so you can start writing your first post!
Bluehost and other blogging platforms that work with WordPress will walk you through a few steps to get your blog rolling. There, you can manage plugins and posts.
Once WordPress has been installed you should be able to log in by typing your domain name and then typing /wp-admin after your site’s address. The page that pops up should provide a space for your site log-in and password.
Once logged in you should see your WordPress Dashboard which has a menu down the left side of the screen and information about your most recent posts, necessary updates, and comments in the middle of the screen.
Customize Your Site
Next, I recommend taking some time to design and customize your site. Before you jump into writing all the blog posts that will fill your site, you may want to set up your main pages.
While posts are the timely articles you probably associate with a blog, pages give your readers some insight into who you are and what your brand is all about.
They might include your:
Home Page: The first thing site visitors see when they type in your URL. You could go into your WordPress blog’s settings and make your newest blog post your home page.
Contact: WordPressplug-ins can help you create a contact form so users don’t see your email address. Your form could be the centerpiece of this contact page, although some people add their addresses or even phone numbers.
About: Why not write a couple paragraphs to summarize your blog’s goals? Maybe add your picture, too.
Blog: Your blog posts will appear here unless you choose to make your blog serve as the home page.
If your WordPress theme includes a site menu, these pages should appear there. If not you could add a menu by looking in the Appearance section of your WordPress Dashboard.
Take the time to craft some really engaging copy that conveys your passion for the subject and your expertise. Unless you bought a Premium Theme you may need to delete some existing content before adding your own. Or, some new blog owners just adapt the content that came with the theme.
These pages give you the opportunity to display personality and convey the overall message of your brand. They also allow you to connect with your readers beyond the comment section of your blog posts, so make them count!
Once you get these pages in order, you can start writing and preparing to launch your site.
Step 5. Write Your First Post!
To do this in the WordPress editor, you need to find “Posts” in the upper left-hand corner of the Dashboard, then click “Add New.” From there, you can add a title, text, images, links, and SEO features like the post’s URL and description. At this point creating a post should resemble writing an email.
Your title and URL should include keywords from your post and answer whatever question your users are probably searching for when they come across your post.
For example, if your post is about the best way to make pour over coffee, your title and URL should reflect that.
Once you’re finished writing your post, you can either publish your post, save it in drafts, or schedule it to be auto-published at a later date and time.
Your URL should be words and not a date or other numbers. If you go into your blog’s General settings you can make your URLs default to your blog title. WordPress calls these URLs permalinks.
Plan Your Content
Make your first blog post count. Rather than cranking out the first thing that comes to mind or a stand-alone post that won’t have any connections to your other content, start with what’s known as a “pillar piece.”
Pillar pieces of content are foundational, high-level, timeless posts that you can build on with future posts.
Try to have a decent number of posts ready to go when you publish your site so anyone who happens across your site will find some quality content there.
If you were to think of your blog as an outline, these pillar posts would be the Roman numerals at the top.
From there, consider building out an editorial calendar to help you keep your due dates on track and formulate a content plan you can easily follow.
Once you feel that your blog is ready to go, just click “Launch your site” in the WordPress Dashboard, and voila, you’re live!
Step 6: Make Money
Alright, now that you’ve launched your blog, let’s talk about how you can start making money blogging. Pro bloggers call this process monetizing your new blog.
Blogging can be a great side hustle and some bloggers make a lot of money. So can you, but you’re really going to have to hustle.
Like really hustle.
And you’re going to have to be patient, too.
You can’t expect too much money from your blog for at least the first six months or even the first year. During this time you will be planting the seeds for a successful blog over the next several years.
During the first six months, you will need to spend most of your time writing quality posts and connecting with other bloggers. Social media is an invaluable asset to new bloggers. Take advantage of it and get your name out there on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.
Some blog owners even find Facebook groups which align with their blog’s mission and share blog posts.
In order to make money, you need traffic, both from Google and other places online. Building traffic takes time.
Don’t Build a Blog. Build a Money Making Platform
A lot of new bloggers think they will make money quickly on advertisements and affiliate programs which promote products and pay you a commission. But you need a lot of high-quality traffic to make money with both advertisements and affiliate links.
The fastest way to make money with your blog is to stop thinking about it as a blog and start thinking about it as a platform. I view Millennial Money as my own platform. You should view your blog as a platform, too.
When you build a platform, the possibilities for making money with it expand significantly.
Millennial Money allows me to share my personal journey building my net worth from $2.26 to over $1 million in five years. I share wealth building strategies on most of my posts.
But this blog also allows me to build my network, and open new doors to consulting and partnership opportunities.
BUT, because of the network, I have built an audience which companies are trying to reach (Millennials interested in personal finance). So I am able to earn money using the Millennial Money platform in a bunch of ways.
And I am coming up with new money making ideas for this platform every day. Here’s an inside look at the ways I generate money on my platform.
HOW I MAKE MONEY BLOGGING
I currently earn revenue on Millennial Money advertising, through affiliate commissions, participating in Twitter chats, reviewing products I test and like, as well as working on consulting opportunities.
I also reject a lot of money making opportunities to protect my brand. Just recently a Student Loan company reached out and offered me $2,000 to write an article about their new “student loan forgiveness scholarship,” which I declined after researching it.
I also reject a lot of guest post requests from content marketing companies offering $500+ to place an article on Millennial Money.
One piece of advice: Don’t sell out and post crappy content. Your readers can tell and it kills your credibility.
Since starting the Millennial Money blog, I have also rejected a $45,000 offer to purchase the domain, landed one large consulting project from a company interested in strategies to target Millennials, and started other projects working directly with bloggers who want to grow blog traffic using SEO.
When you view your blog as your platform, the opportunities for making money go well beyond advertising and affiliate revenue. Then as you continue to build a bigger audience and more recognizable brand, the money-making opportunities will continue to expand.
Hashtag your posts
Love to #hashtag? Good news!
You can add tags (#vacation #dream #summer) throughout your posts to reach more people. Why hashtag? People can use your hashtags to search through content on your blog and find the content that matters to them. So go ahead and #hashtag away!