How To Start A Blog

Are you wondering how to start a blog? Or, have you thought about it for awhile but just aren’t sure how to set it up?

This post will show you the exact directions for setting up a beautiful blog that will have you earning money quickly.

I have been able to earn more than $700 dollars a month on my blog while being a full-time college student and working part-time. I have only had this blog for seven months, but in that short time I am now earning more money blogging than at my part-time job, and you can too!

With these instructions, you will be able to start a blog in less than an hour. I will also answer my most asked questions I get related to starting a successful blog.

These are the 6 steps to follow when starting a blog:

1. Decide what you will be blogging about.

2. Choose your blogging platform.

3. Pick a host.

4. Find your domain name & start your WordPress blog.

5. Design your website.

6. Get blogging!

Why should you start a blog?

There are so many reasons to consider when starting a blog. I personally started a blog because I wanted to make money on my own schedule and be a networking tool for future job opportunities once I am done with college.

My blog has allowed me too:

  • Pay over $6,700 dollars towards my car loan in a year.
  • Only work six hours a week. (I really don’t even have to do this, I just like my job!)
  • Network with people and companies all over the world.
  • Get an amazing internship my freshman year of college.

While starting a blog has been an amazing experience for me, here are four popular reasons other people start blogs.

  • You can make money while working from anywhere. One of the best things about blogging is that you can make money from anywhere, at any time. As a college student, it is extremely hard to find a job because you are constantly leaving for breaks. A blog allows you to make money wherever you are and even earns you money while you aren’t working on it.
  • It is great for your resume.  Having a strong resume out of college is essential to securing a great job. To show a company that you were able to start a business (yes, your blog IS your business!) at such a young age (people in their 20s are young;) ) shows future employers what you are capable of accomplishing and your drive for success.
  • You get free stuff. Its no secret, this is a huge plus for starting a blog! I only write about products and services I truly love on my blog, but I get a ton of free things sent to me just to try out. While this shouldn’t be the only reason you start a blog, it is something to look forward too.
  • You can make money around the schedule you want. Every single semester, your schedule changes. It is SO hard to find a job that is adaptable to your changing demands. A blog allows you to make money around times you are available.

{Read my latest income report to see how I made $781.88 in July from blogging!}

Do you see yourself blogging? These next steps are laid out to make it as easy as possible for you starting a successful blog QUICK!

Question #1: How much does it cost to start a blog?

Having a blog is extremely cheap. If you follow the way I show you, it will be around $10 dollars a month– total. Cheaper than most dinners these days!

I budget about $20 dollars a month on my blog and this brings me a HUGE profit (since I am making hundreds of dollars a month on my blog). I started at about $10 but with the higher my income gets, the more I spend on marketing tools (as in $10 more…so really not that much more for the amount I am making now).One of the best things about blogging is that it costs very little to maintain.

Now, you can start a blog for free, but I highly do not recommend it.

I originally started By Sophia Lee on Blogger as a “hobby”. I had it on there for about two years and just last summer, I decided I wanted to start making money on my blog. Some free sites don’t let you use monetization on them so I had to switch to WordPress (and companies take you much more seriously). Everything got deleted. I ended up having to pay someone a couple hundred dollars to recover some of my broken posts. I went from around 1,400 views a day to just 100. I had to start from scratch which was a horrible experience. I do not wish this upon anyone, so if you want to make money from your blog I don’t recommend starting a free blog.

Here are some reasons why you don’t want to start a free blog:

  • Certain free services control the amount of money you are able to make. The reason they do this is because they want you to pay for their “upgrade”. They also don’t give you much support because they aren’t getting anything from you and really aren’t worried about keeping you happy.
  • You only have basic features available. With a free blog, you get the bare minimum amount of features. You have limited options on what you want to make your website look like. You also have to put their name at the end of the website in many cases. An example is when I was on blogger my URL was http://bysophialee.blogspot.com. It does not look professional!
  • If you decide to upgrade to the better service, you could lose all your work. Learn from me and don’t do what I did! Moving from a free blog to a paid blog can result in your old posts not working anymore. The links change, the format gets messed up, or you just lose it entirely. It will cost you hundreds of dollars to hire someone and fix all of that mess!
  • When you pay for something, you are more likely to stick with it. I often see a huge difference between people who pay for something and those who get it for free. The people that pay for it take it much more seriously and are the ones that really become successful. The people that get it for free are much more likely to quit because it can become hard work and they give up since they don’t have any value in it.

Here are the easy steps to creating a self-hosted WordPress blog, that can be completed in less than 30 minutes with no previous experience.

Step 1: Decide what you will be blogging about.

As young adults, we have a lot of different directions you could go on deciding the best blog topic for you.

Your blog could be about what you are majoring in and use it as a tool to advance you further in that career path. For example, my friend is majoring in elementary education and just recently asked me about starting a blog all about teaching. She would blog about different lesson plans, teacher organizing tips, and so on. Not only does this give her the opportunity to earn extra money on the side when she graduates, but also gives her something she can put on her resume.

You could also write about something you love individually that doesn’t really have anything to do with school.

Here are some good blogging topics you may like:

  • Fashion
  • Organizing
  • Money Tips
  • Travel Tips
  • Lifestyle Tips

For my blog, I did a mix of the two different blogging directions. I am majoring in interior architecture and love anything “home”. Because I am in college, I choose my blog to focus on dorm decor, organization and cleaning tips. But, I also love talking about money and relationship tips. I merged these all together (since they are all kind of similar) and create content targeting girls ages 18-24.

The most important part of deciding what you will blog about is making sure to choose something you truly enjoy. You will be talking about this topic a lot, so make sure you are very interested in it!

Some bloggers encourage you to stay in a certain niche. A niche is a specific category that you talk about. An example of a niche would be a blog only about dorm room cleaning tips. Every single post written would have something to do with dorm room cleaning tips. This is great and no harm in that, but I also haven’t seen the harm in doing more of a variety as long as they all tie in together. It wouldn’t make sense to have posts on home decor for grandmas and dorm cleaning tips. (Like that example?! 😉 ).

What you don’t want to do, is come up with a niche and write exactly the same posts as another blogger. Make sure to come in with a unique viewpoint or idea that can teach your readers something different than what is already out there.

If you cant think of a blog topic or are not sure on one, don’t worry. You do not have to have a topic 100% decided. In all honesty, most people switch there’s! It’s just a good idea to at least think about it so you can decide on your name and other things further on in the steps.

Step 2: Choose your blogging platform.

I saw this comparison from another blogger and thought it was genius: “If you want to cook, you need a kitchen. If you want a blog, you need a blogging platform”. (Thanks, Amy Lynn Andrews!).

To have a blog you have to have a blogging platform. Some platforms are WordPress, Blogger, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. All of these are different but WordPress is by far the most popular. The main reason for this is how easy and customizable it is. It also has a TON of users so if you ever have questions on how to do something, there is almost always a response on how to do it.

I use and only recommend WordPress.

WordPress has two different options that you can choose. They have a hosted option (www.wordpress.com) and a self-hosted option (www.wordpress.org). I only teach how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog, because it is the one loved and preferred by beginner and long-time bloggers. 

Also, do not let the .org scare you at the end of the self-hosted WordPress website…your website name DOES NOT have to have .org in it! It can be a .com website. 

Now, it’s time for the good stuff! Let’s get it set up!

Step 3: Pick a host. 

When using WordPress, you download it to your computer. This way, you are the only one that is accessible to your blog (which is great for security reason!). However, WordPress is just a software that is set up to be able to easily design your website and put up your posts. To download WordPress go to wordpress.org and click on “Download WordPress”. 

You need to pick a host to get your website “live” and viewable to the public. Basically, it does all the “background” information.

There are many hosts on the market, but I only recommend Bluehost.

There are a few reasons why I am so passionate about how much I love Bluehost. First, they are SO cheap! You won’t be able to find a hosting site cheaper. Second, their customer service is amazing. I will message them at any hour of the day and they have immediate answers for me and will even go into my blog and change what I need to be done so I don’t have to worry about it.

Bluehost is where the $10 dollars monthly comes in, but right now it’s on sale for only $2.99 a month!

First, go to the Bluehost website. 

Click the green button that says “get started now”.

(PS: Bluehost might look slightly different depending on if they update there site, which they do a lot. Even though the site changes, these steps don’t so keep following along!).

BTW, don’t forget to turn on Ebates! You will get $10 dollars off of Bluehost if you do :). Ebates is my all time favorite money saving website and has saved me over $100 in just the last few months of doing it. 

Second, choose your plan.

Press “select” for whatever plan you think is best for you. I chose (and recommend) Prime just because you get so much more offered for just three dollars more.

And, since the plus and prime are the same prices right now, it’s a no-brainer! I am pretty sure it wasn’t the same price when I purchased it though, and the SiteBackup Pro was the reason I went the Prime compared to the Plus.

The next screen will be where you will pick your blog name. 

Step 3: Pick a blog name/domain.

 This is where you will be able to start playing with domain addresses. Your domain address is what people type into the search bar to get to your website. For example, mine is bysophialee.com.

For your name, you can either have a title that is related to what you are writing about on your blog or use your name. I choose to use By Sophia Lee because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to write about and knew that I could change my content as I developed. Now, that I am set on what I am blogging about, I use it as my “branding”. However, I do really like names that have to do with your blog is about (like makingsenseofcents.com for a money blog) so your readers know what you are writing about right away.

Some things to think about when choosing your domain:
  • Make it short
  • Make it catchy and memorable
  • Make sure it is shareable.

You will know if the name you are thinking about is already taken if it says “Unable to Continue”. This can get frustrating if you find out the name you want is being used, but just keep trying!! You will find the perfect name!

If you can not think of any names, do not worry. You do not have to choose now. 

If you already have a domain name, put it into the “I have a domain name” box and continue following along with these instructions (they are almost exactly the same).

Now you want to add in your account information.

Make sure that you put the correct information in this section, especially your email. You will be getting your password sent here so you want to make sure it goes to the correct email!

You now choose which payment option you want to do. They chose to not allow monthly payments so you pay for as much time as you want upfront. They offer 1, 2, 3, or 5-year packages. The places that allow monthly payments can be 3x as expensive :(. Bluehost really does offer extremely reasonable prices, especially for your own website!! Plus, don’t forgot to turn on Ebates to get another $10 dollars off!

I personally did the 36-month price just so I don’t have to think about it for three more years, but if you are just starting a blog and don’t want to spend that much, a 12-month plan will be great for you!

To sign up for Bluehost, click HERE!

I don’t personally find it worth it to add on any of the extras. I didn’t add any, and I don’t regret it at all. 

Once your payment information is in, press submit. 

Here you will be prompted for upgrades and special deals. Just say no, you don’t need it.

Once your purchase is complete, you will be asked to choose a password. Add a password that you will remember.

This password will allow you to log in.

Now that you have your password created, you are ready to get started with WordPress!

Step 5: Design your website!

{I have made a whole post about WordPress themes here: The Secret To Making Your Blog Look Professional- The Best Themes of 2018}

After logging in from the last step, you will be taken to a screen that will prompt you to pick different themes. The theme you choose is what your website will look like. I do not recommend picking any of these because they often do not get updated and don’t look very professional.

However, I do recommend checking out other themes.

The way your blog looks is the first thing people will see so you want to make sure your blog looks put together and professional.

There are a TON of inexpensive themes out there that are extremely easy to install. I got my theme from 17th Avenue Designs and LOVE IT! My theme is called “Amelia”. The women that designed my website has a lot of affordable options that are beautiful and look so professional!

She gives you exact instructions on how to set it up and is great at answering emails if you have any other questions for her. Click here to see her themes.

Here are some of the themes available to you:

With these themes, you are able to customize them to represent your blog. You have the ability to customize the entire website and even change the colors. Purchasing a theme is a one time cost that will make your blog look much more professional than using a free theme.

Reasons why I don’t recommend a free theme:

  • You are all on your own to figure out how to set it up (this takes forever).
  • They are often outdated and have mistakes in their coding which allows hackers to easily get into your website.
  • They do not look professional.

If you don’t like any of 17th Avenue Design themes, I recommend checking out Etsy and searching, “WordPress themes“. It will take you to some other great options.

Since you will be using a different theme than what Bluehost offers, press “Skip this step” which is below the theme options.

Your theme will give you exact instructions on how to install it after you complete these next simple steps.

Now is where you start building your website.

First, press “Start building.”

You will then see this screen on your computer. Press “I don’t need help”. I don’t recommend choosing Business or Personal because it will change your theme which is not something you want since you will soon be uploading your own theme!

The dashboard on the left will become your new best friend. This is where you do basically everything for your blog. I recommend clicking around on different ones and seeing what they do.

It may look confusing at first but soon you will know it like the back of your hand! The same exact situation on how your high school seemed SO big and confusing at first and then within two weeks you knew were everything was and couldn’t understand why you were so nervous before!

At first, your blog will be assigned to a temporary domain. This will get changed 2-24 hours after it becomes fully registered (this should happen extremely quick). You can continue working on your blog until this is ready. Bluehost will switch it for you automatically don’t stress about this!

If you used an existing domain, contact the Bluehost support and message them what you need. They will take care of everything for you (for free, too!). I do this all the time– it makes everything so much easier.

NOW, you can follow the instructions your theme gives you and set up your blog! This is one of my favorite parts of blogging. Make sure to not get too hung up on something, chances are you will be constantly changing the way your theme looks in the next few months.

If setting up your blog seems too overwhelming for you, many of the people that design themes offer services for a low cost to set it up. I personally did this with 17th Avenue Designs and it worked great. I bought the service one day and it was set up the next!

Step 6: Get blogging!

Congratulations! You officially have a blog up and running!

My biggest tip to you: Just start writing. The only way to be a successful blogger that makes money is to get content out there. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s something!

I recommend you check out my other blogging resources to see how I have been able to grow my blog in such a short time. I go over everything from how I write my posts, create my blog images, get thousands of views a day, and use Pinterest as my blogging best friend.

All About Themes: The Secret To Making Your Blog Look Professional- The Best Themes of 2018

All About Pinterest: How To Create A Beautiful Pin and Get More Pageviews

All About Getting Traffic to Your Blog:

 

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