There are lots of reasons to blog. I personally do it because I want something that is all my own. I want to share my thoughts and passion for a simpler life with the world, but there are so many things you can do with a blog. I was always told to write what you know. I could never write a blog about knitting cat sweaters because frankly I don’t know how to knit, and I am not an expert on sizing cats for properly fitting garments…(both of which are necessary for a cat sweater blog) but I am sure that there is someone out there with those exact skills and I would love to read their tutorials!
The problem with blogging is that it can be a spendy hobby if you don’t know where to find the deals…that’s where I come in! Woot Woot! When I first started blogging I wanted to do it on the cheap. I didn’t know if I would be able to monetize it (which I do!more on that later!), so I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a hobby that I didn’t know if I would even stick with!
So here are some good resources for starting a blog.
I can’t say enough good things about Bluehost. This is who I host my blog through, and they are simply wonderful. They make the set up process of starting your blog really really easy with helpful tutorials, faq, and great customer service (and trust me, I used them all). They allow you to self-host your blog, which if you want to make any money from a blog you need to do. They also help you do it cheaply. Because of my relationship with Bluehost I have been given an access link here that allows you to host your blog for $3.95/mo. This is cheaper than the regular $5.99/month standard sign up rate and you also get unlimited bandwidth, a free domain name, help setting up your site, free email accounts and 24/7 customer service. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
I also love Bluehost because if you decide you don’t want to use your service anymore you can get refunded the amount you haven’t used. That means, if you decide cat sweaters aren’t for you, no worries, you aren’t locked in for years and years. Just let the good people at Bluehost know and they will get you your hard earned Benjamins back!
I also love that they include free email. This way you can set up a super professional email (not one that ends in @gmail or@ hotmail) for free. And free is the best when you are on a budget!
Once you figure out how to host your site, you will need a domain name. I personally like www.smartfrugalpath.com, but what you choose is totally up to you. I do suggest you choose something that is short, sweet, and gets your point across.
To buy a domain name you can go to Bluehost to purchase a domain. They typically run between $3-15 per domain. If you have already decided to host through Bluehost, you get one for free! Boom, problem solved
The design or template of your blog is called a “theme”. I personally love using WordPress.org. There are lots and lots of themes available for free, and lots and lots for $. Take some time to browse through all the selections and pick which one you like the best and suits your needs. WordPress.org also allows you to customize your theme (if you are computer savy…or you can pay someone if you aren’t). It really allows you to build your site exactly how you would want it.
I currently have a free theme called Selma. I really like it for now, but I am sure in the future, as I discover more features I really want, I will end up upgrading and getting a more complicated theme. But for now I am more than happy with the theme I have and the best part? It cost me zero dollars J
And don’t worry. If you need help there are tons and tons of YouTube tutorials to help you out (Or if you decide to go with Bluehost they have so many tutorials and step-by-step guides to help you set everything up). It really is pretty easy (and I say that as a person that really sucks at anything computery).
So now that your blog is set up…it’s time to write.
Write what you know. The best blogs that I have read are all about people who are writing about things they are super passionate about and know a lot about. I love hearing about experiences and personal stories, too…so keep it personal! Just make sure to make it your own…there is nothing worse than a blog that is trying to be something it’s not (I totally just pictured a blog all dressed up in high heels and a sparkly dress pretending to be all high class while dreaming about Taco Bell and Steeler’s games)
I use a lot of my own images because I’m just that awesome. I also
steal use with permission a lot of images from my sister-in-law. She is an awesome photographer and seems to be cool with me snagging some images from her for my blog posts (don’t worry…I asked her permission…she said yes).
If you don’t have an eye for photography or a super artistic sister-in-law you can snag free images from pixabay.com or freeimages.com. Both offer quality images that you can use without shelling out a penny!
But what about the money?
So many bloggers I follow and know make crazy money from their blogs. I have heard of monthly income ranging from $1500-$20,000. Yep…that’s right, $20k a month from blogging. Now don’t get me wrong…it is hard work and a lot of time to get that kind of income, but it is totally doable.
Now I certainly don’t make that kind of money from my blog (if I did, I would have way cooler features on my site by now! Ha! But I have figured out some ways to monetize my blog and earn extra money online.
There are a lot of affiliate programs that will pay you to talk about their services. I personally use amazon.com affiliates. When a product comes up that I use and feel passionate about I will write about it and let ya’ll know how much I love it. Then I get a kickback if you guys decide you like it, too and go out and buy it using my link. I always make sure that I only write about products that I use and that I love. I would never want to mislead my readers by promoting a product I don’t like or don’t stand behind. Its skeezy and I don’t like to be skeezy.
Guest Posts and Staff Writing
I have made money by writing articles for other publications. The pay is usually between $50-100 per article, but the time commitment isn’t too much. You have to make sure that you follow each publication’s guidelines perfectly, but if you are a good writer and have a good grasp of grammar you can make a lot writing extra articles. I have found most of my writing jobs by keeping in touch with other bloggers. The blogging community is a really tight-knit community that generally wants to help lift each other up and see each other succeed.
Sometimes companies will come to me directly and ask me to place an ad directly on my page. I am usually up for this as long as the company is one that I believe in, has good products, and would appeal to my readers. I wouldn’t want to have an ad on my site that doesn’t represent who I am, so this is a good place to be picky.
When I started out this blog I most certainly didn’t do it to make money (which is good…because I didn’t at first!). But now that I have been at it a while I am starting to see how this whole blogging thing can help us get to retirement early. I just keep having to remind myself that there truly is a direct relationship between how much effort I put into the blog and how much I get out of it.
I also think it is super important to keep in mind how much you are spending from the start. If I had spent hundreds of dollars I would have been super frustrated with those first few months with no income, but spending only a few dollars a month for hosting, domain and email through Bluehost was really the best choice for me. Now that I have more than made my money back I feel like it was a great investment.
Have you been thinking about starting a blog? What would you write about? If you have a blog, why did you start?
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