Starting a blog is one of the best decisions you can make. Not only is a personal website an exceptional way to express yourself, but a well thought-out blog can help grow your career, kick start your business, and even earn a few dollars on the side.
Click here to start a blog on WordPress, and then read the following article for directions and inspiration.
From my first pitiful blog in college, to Money Nomad, I have launched dozens of websites over the years – and I have absolutely zero technical knowledge.
Thanks to some great tools online today, building a website is a bit like playing with Legos – simply add and remove a few pieces and voila! you have an awesome website.
And it’s cheap! Before hiring Jason M to design Money Nomad (and he did an awesome job), I never spent more than $50 on a website. Today, it’s not only possible to start a blog in under 20 minutes, but it can cost you less than $30!
If you’ve been thinking about starting your own website, it’s time to stop daydreaming and act – now!
Spend 20 minutes to complete the following four steps – and have your blog up in the amount of time it takes to watch a show on Netflix.
Step 1: Sign up for a hosting account and choose a domain name (8 minutes)
The first step to launching a website of any kind is to find a host (someone to store your website and keep it online) and choose a domain name (the site link where you’ll send people to find you, i.e. “MoneyNomad.com”).
Choosing a host for your website
This is the only item that needs to cost a little bit of money. Although there are some “free” hosting services – if you want to be taken seriously, avoid these. Not only are you limited in what you can do, but if you decide to make your website more professional later on, it will cost you far more money and time.
After trying several different hosting services, the one I am most happy with is iPage.com. Not only can you purchasing hosting for under $30/year – but the service includes a FREE domain name ($10-15 value) and $100+ in free advertising credits across Google, MSN, and Facebook – a great way to get the word out on your new site! Finally, you can host unlimited domains. Which means, if you decide to setup another website later, all you have to pay for is the domain name.
Use this link to see the latest hosting deals on iPage.com
Choosing a domain name
During the process of signing up for a hosting account, you will be asked what domain name you would like to register for free.
Finding an available domain name can be a lot of work – and if there is one area that could keep you from completing this entire process in 20 minutes, this is it. There are millions upon millions of websites already online – so finding a name that isn’t taken can be difficult.
But it’s not impossible!
If you’re desired name is taken, you have two options:
1. Make the domain longer
If you wanted to use the domain name MoneyNomad.com, you would be out of luck – because that’s my site! However, at the time of this writing you could create a website called “MoneyNomadsInEurope.com” because that name is available.
It’s unfortunate when your dream name is taken, but sometimes just adding another short word, a few initials, etc., can solve the problem. For example, if you’re a CPA and YourName.com is taken, you may be able to use the domain YourNameCPA.com.
2. Use another domain ending besides for “.com”
The most popular domain ending is .com. And, if you can get the .com for your website – do it! However, if the .com isn’t available, and you really want to use that name, there are hundreds of other domain endings you can use. From the well known .org, .me, and .us, to newer domain endings like .guru, .tips, and .lawyer.
The jury is mixed on whether or not it’s better to seek out a .com or accept using another domain ending.
My opinion is that, although a .com is preferred, if you create great content that people enjoy reading and sharing, your website will succeed regardless of the domain ending. What are your thoughts?
Step 2: Install WordPress on your hosting account – without being a programmer (7 minutes)
Remember when I said making websites is like playing with Legos? That’s all thanks to WordPress – a completely free software that allows you to do anything with your website.
Do you want to start a blog? You can use WordPress. Do you want to make a website like YouTube, Facebook, Groupon, or Amazon? You can use WordPress. This software is amazing!
And fortunately, you can install it with just a few clicks from your host!
How to install WordPress on iPage
Again, if you’re using iPage.com for your hosting, it’s incredibly easy to install WordPress:
- Login to your account
- Click on the tab that says “Mojo Marketplace”
- Click “One-click installs”
- Click on WordPress
- Click Install
- Select the domain from the drop down box (you probably have just one domain, so use that one)
- Do not add anything to the sub directory (after the “/”)
- Check “Show advanced settings” to choose your WordPress username, password, etc.
- And you’re done!
Once the installation is complete, just go to YourDomain.com/wp-admin and enter the username and password you created. Now you’re in WordPress!
Getting around: the basics of how to use WordPress
When you log in to WordPress for the first time, it can look overwhelming, but don’t be worried – it’s easy to figure out and hard to break. So click around and make yourself comfortable.
The five WordPress terms you need to know about right away are:
- Posts: These are your regular blog posts that you right – with the most recent showing up at the top of your page, and the older ones moving down.
- Pages: Pages are “static” meaning they just sit there and don’t change. Use pages to create your “About”, “Contact”, “Services”, etc. Anything that isn’t a blog post or article should be a page.
- Themes: Themes are the design of your website. If your was is a car, the theme would be the body. By installing and activating a new theme you quickly change the look of your entire website.
- Plugins: Plugins are the Lego pieces that you can add or remove to make your website do different things. Would you like to have a slider at the top of your website with rotating images? You can add a plugin for that. Do you want to run Google Ads on your website? You can add a plugin for that. Some plugins are visible, others are behind the scenes and help to keep your site running smoothly.
- Widgets: If you look to the right side of this article, you’ll notice that I have several different elements – an About section, an email capture tool, a list of articles currently being read, and a big Google advertisement (where I get paid when you or someone else clicks on it). All of these pieces have been placed on the side of my blog using Widgets.
Ultimately, you can start blogging by just using the first two of these pieces (the posts and pages). However, the other elements can really make your website look awesome.
Step 3: Choose a free theme for your website’s design (5 minutes)
Now that you have WordPress up and running, it’s time to choose a theme! As mentioned above, this is the body of your car.
The theme is what decides the background, header, color of the text, and other elements.
Fortunately, it’s easy to choose and change a theme without it negatively impacting your website. For example, if I decided I wanted to make my website look like Entrepreneur Magazine, I could simply install a new theme and my website would have it’s new design in a couple of minutes.
If you want a particular look for your website. For example, if you are creating a website for a hotel, travel agency, online store, etc., you may want to purchase a premium WordPress theme from ThemeForest for $25-75. However, for most of us a free theme is fine for getting started.
How to install a free WordPress theme
Once you are logged into your WordPress account, you can click on the tab “Appearance” at the left side of your screen. From there, click on “Themes” and “Add New”.
You can now search through a huge collection of free themes!
Once you find one you like simply select, download, and activate it.
Your website will now have an entirely new look.
Don’t like it? Just install and activate a new theme.
Step 4: Write your first blog post!
Congratulations – you have your own website up and ready to go. And now that you know the basics of how WordPress works, you can always make changes to your website – as most bloggers do. So don’t get caught up on perfecting your design, voice, etc. Just start writing!
The best blog post is the one that you’ve already published.
Add a title, maybe a featured image if you feel like it, and get to writing. Although different than Microsoft Office, the basics of typing in WordPress are easy – and you should be able to quickly discover how to change the header, use italics, bold, underline, and quotes.
Once you complete your first post, let me know! I’d love to check out your new blog.
Still need a hand? Let me help setup and launch your blog
I’ve created dozens of websites over the years and I make a full time living by blogging for businesses – so I know a thing or two about blogs, PR, and online marketing.
If you’d like my assistance in getting started with your own blog, just get in touch! For $50 I can:
- Chat for 30 minutes via phone or Skype to help determine the direction of your blog.
- Setup your hosting account (and pay for your first year).
- Help you choose a domain name.
- Install WordPress and the theme of your choice (free or paid for by you).
- Spend another 30 minutes on the phone to help walk you through how to use WordPress and write your first post.
If this sounds appealing, visit my “Hire Me” page and fill out the form. I’ll respond right away and we can arrange a time to talk!
What blogging tips can YOU share with us?
Whether you’ve been blogging for years or are just starting out, I’d love to hear your suggestions for creating a great blog.
What do the best bloggers seem to do differently? How do their websites look? Where do they connect with their audience? How frequently do they blog?
Share your tips and examples in the comments section below to help all of us become phenomenal bloggers!