Starting a blog is still one of the best online businesses you can create today.
It’s also cheaper than ever to start a blog. You can set one up for less than the cost of a Starbucks Venti Mocha Frappuccino. It’s also quick to get started. You can be up and running in literally less than 30 minutes.
Yet there’s a dizzying array of options, not to mention technical jargon that may sound like a foreign language. Fortunately, I’ve been through this before and can help you.
I’ve owned a web hosting company for over 20 years and developed websites for clients for more than 25 years.
I also know how to create a profitable blog, since I sold my blog for $6 million.
So I might know a thing or two about creating a blog.
I’ve helped Fortune 500 companies such as Chase, IBM, Minolta, GM, Comedy Central, LensCrafters, and Nielsen. BUT I’ve also helped thousands of individuals build a blog… just like you!
Starting a blog for a business is great because:
- Small Investment To Start — Blogging is one of the few online businesses that needs little money to start. Typically under $200 is needed to start.
- Start as a side hustle — You can easily begin after work part-time and eventually create a full-time business.
- You can work anywhere and at any time — You can work from home or can work anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection.
- The world is your audience — Unlike a brick and mortar business, you can literally make money blogging while you are sleeping, and your customers can be anywhere on the planet.
- Cannot be shut down — Unlike social media, which you don’t control, you own a blog and can never be shut down. There are countless stories of social media stars on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media networks getting their account deactivated. Overnight their business is gone and lost everything that was built.
Yes, you can make a lot of money blogging. But first things first. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Let’s talk about the first step in your journey, and that’s starting a blog with this free guide.
How to Start a Blog TL;DR
I created this simple guide from my years of experience and formatted it so anyone can understand. Here’s a summarized version:
- Step 1 - Pick Your Niche
- Step 2 - Pick Your Domain Name
- Step 3 - Get Web Hosting
- Step 4 - Setup Your Blog
- Step 5 - Create Your First Blog Post
- Next Steps
This how-to can’t cover every aspect of what it takes to create a blog and make money, but at least I will get you started on the right path. I have many other articles on my blog to keep you on this path.
Taking that first step is critical (be it losing weight, starting a business, or learning a new language). See yourself with the end result of achieving your dreams. You can do this. It is possible.
So let’s start your journey and create your blog today!
Step 1 – Pick Your Niche
In starting a blog, you have to figure out the topic. In my opinion, picking what to focus on is the hardest part of creating your blog.
If you’re even reading this, I’m assuming you at least have some idea.
Otherwise, why are you here, right? I’m also assuming most of you reading you want to make money blogging. You want to start a side hustle.
But even if you’re just doing this for fun or for another personal reason, what I’m going to tell you will still apply.
However, keep in mind blogging isn’t a business unto itself. A blog is a means to an end, not the end. You’re creating a blog to let the world know your expertise in whatever niche you choose.
If you’re creating a business blog, my first suggestion is to you stay close to that niche. Don’t veer too far off that topic. So no stories about your cat on your fitness blog unless you’re somehow teaching cats to get buff.
Though perhaps you need some help on this subject. If so, I recommend the book:
- Levesque, Ryan (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 240 Pages - 03/16/2021 (Publication Date) - Hay House Business (Publisher)
It’s a Transformational Journey
The most popular topics for blogs involve transformation.
You’re writing to tell your story and help others learn how they can transform from where they currently are to your end result.
Typically, these topics include:
- Health and Fitness
- Money and Finance (my previous business)
- Love and Relationships
You can also choose to write about business-related topics, but from my experience, most consumer-based blogs do better. They also tend to be more interesting than a post on some new widget from ACME Inc. that is 2 mm smaller and lighter than before.
How Do You Know You Have a Great Niche?
As in the 1967 movie The Graduate (yeah, I know the movie is old), it’s one word. But no, it’s not “plastics.”
If you’re doing research on your topic and find little to no competition, that’s a bad sign. Google is your friend, and success leaves clues. Use the search engines to tell you what’s popular.
It’s time to do some market research. Using Google Search is a great sign to see if anyone is already writing about the niche you may want to enter. It doesn’t cost you anything to do this, and you can immediately figure out who’s your competition.
If there are no other businesses in that space, it’s for a good reason. You won’t be able to make money from it.
Gone are the days of looking for that unique business idea that has never been done before. While possible, rarely today will you find an untapped niche.
“What you need to do is find a business niche that is popular and execute better.”Larry LudwigClick to Tweet
What you need to do is find a niche that is moderate to very popular and execute better than the competing blogs.
- Be better at writing content.
- Be better at promoting your blog.
- Be better at monetizing your blog.
- Be better at building an audience.
- Be better with your blog’s graphic design.
- Add value where others are not.
When I started my blog, Investor Junkie, there were already many other investment blogs. In fact, I had a previous business partner tell me it was a horrible idea to start another investment blog.
His answer was, “There are already too many blogs.”
The fact was, all those other sites stunk. I knew I could execute better than them, and I did. It allowed me to sell my blog 8 years later.
The competition spoke in technical terms that the average Joe or Jane couldn’t understand. So I created a website that could speak to that audience and educate them on the new investment services available.
Now that you have your niche sorted out, next up is to host your blog.
Step 2 – Pick Your Domain Name
What’s in a blog name?
Think of it as your calling card. It’s the modern “phone number” on the internet. No one in the world will have the same one as you have (ie. YourBlog.com).
So make it count. Pick one that’s reflective of you and your ideas. It could be your own name (like this very website, LarryLudwig.com).
Domain names can be your company name (like mcdonalds.com). Or it could be some made-up name unique to any language.
It’s your choice!
Being creative and unique is key. You can use my tool below to begin your search.
If you are unsure of a domain name, the easiest one to create is your personal name.
Domain Name Search
Get a domain name FREE with a Bluehost hosting plan.
Enter without an extension (ie .com) to search multiple top-level names.
Domain Name Tips
- Avoid Niche-Specific Names – Create a generic domain name that can fit multiple sub-niches in your category than very specific (ie. bestwifirouters.com)
- Short and Sweet – AvoidAVeryLongNameThat NoOneCanRemember.com
- Avoid Hyphens and Underscores – Don’t buy domains with hyphens or underscores for your main address.
- Go for the .com Extension if possible – There are many other extensions (such as .co, .net, .info, etc.). Avoid them like the plague, if possible for your domain, since they may confuse inexperienced internet users.
- No Spaces Allowed – You can’t have a space.
- Easy to Spell – Is that with one “L” or two? People are horrible spellers; make sure your blog’s domain name is simple to spell.
- Easy to Remember – The domain name should be catchy and something that others will remember.
- Can the Domain Mean Something Else? – Therapistinabox.com (Therapist In A Box) isn’t a good name.
Bad Domain Names
There is an old marketing story that involves the Chevy Nova automobile. The rumor goes General Motors introduced the popular U.S. vehicle in Mexico but couldn’t understand why the sales were so bad.
They didn’t realize that “no va” in Spanish means “no go”!
Don’t be like GM and get a domain name that can have alternative meanings.
Here’s a list of domains you do NOT want to emulate.
- Itscrap.com – IT Scrap
- Whorepresents.com – Who Represents
- Penisland.net – Pen Island
- Expertsexchange.com – Experts Exchange
- Speedofart.com – Speed Of Art
- Nobjs.org – North Of Boston Jewish Singles
- Gotahoenorth.com – Go Tahoe North
- Lesbocages.com – Les Bocages
- Americanscrapmetal.com – American Scrap Metal
- Masterbaitonline.com – Master Bait Online
- Therapistinabox.com – Therapist In a Box
- Teacherstalking.org – Teachers Talking
- Childrenswear.co.uk – Children’s Wear
Get your mind out of the gutter if you think these stood for other names. This is why you must be careful in your selection.
Step 3 – Get Web Hosting
“Wait…You mean I should pay for web hosting?!”
There are many free website builders, and they’re fine… if you aren’t a business. But using one of these suggests you aren’t professional. It’s pretty much the same as putting an AOL email address on the side of your business van. Don’t do it! Don’t be Karl.
With free website builders services you can’t:
- Use your own domain.
- Run ad banners and limited how you can money.
- Look professional to your visitors.
- Get search traffic because Google won’t see it as a trusted source (most critical).
Successful bloggers never use free blog options.
As I said at the beginning of this how-to, blogging costs about the same as going to Starbucks once per month. Skip that cup of coffee and invest in your business instead!
When I first started over 20 years ago, it would have easily cost hundreds per month, taken hours to set up, and required you to be a computer whizkid.
You can be on your way in under 30 minutes.
The question is next which web hosting provider should you use? There are hundreds of web hosting services, not all of them good. You want a solid web hosting provider that is cheap, reliable, and there for you when you need customer service. I recommend Bluehost.
Why I Recommend Bluehost
Bluehost has been around since 2003, and host over 2 million websites. Bluehost is recommended by WordPress.org.
I’ve also worked with Bluehost to help make it easy for you to create a blog. Check out my free bonuses you get signing up with my link.
Bluehost offers these features:
- FREE Domain Name
- FREE SSL Certificate (otherwise known as https://)
- 24/7 Support
- 30-day money-back guarantee
To get started follow the steps below.
First Select Your Bluehost Plan
The first step is picking your Bluehost hosting plan. Starting with the Basic plan is more than enough to get started blogging so select that option.
Next Select Your Domain Name (optional)
The next step is entering your domain name for your account. If you have an existing domain name, you add it to your account.
After all that I’ve mentioned and you still can’t think of a good domain name yet? Don’t get hung up on it. You can get your free Bluehost domain name at any time after your order hosting.
More importantly, if you do have a domain name in mind go with it for now…even if it’s not the best name. You are best to start with any domain and if you have to you can always change to another one later. You are best to take action than stand there like a deer in headlights.
In your new business venture, the goal is to keep moving forward. Don’t strive to be perfect, but build something that is “good enough”. To be honest most people won’t type in your domain name anyways but will be via search or links from other sites.
Complete Your Order
The last and final step is to complete your order with Bluehost. You will need to fill out these steps in their order form:
- Account Information – Your contact information.
- Package Information – Confirm you selected Basic plan at the 12 month pricing.
- Package Extras – See below what I recommend you use.
- Payment Information – Have your Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express credit card handy.
To get the best deal out of Bluehost select the 12-month plan. Keep in mind with Bluehost you can: cancel Bluehost at any time in the first 30 days.
In the Package Extras section make sure your options appear the same way.
- Domain Privacy + Protection (checked) — This will hide your address and your email from spamming your email and home address (which is a very common thing). If you skipped selecting a domain name in previous step you will not see this option.
- Codeguard Basic (unchecked) — While you should back up your site, I recommend better options than Bluehost’s service.
- SiteLock Security – Essential (unchecked) — You don’t need this option when starting out.
That’s it! You’ve now ordered your blog.
Congrats. You’ve taken the first step on this new journey to create a blog. It’s taking actions like this that move the needle and determine if you are successful… or not. It’s steps like this that dreams are turned into reality.
Step 4 – Setup Your Blog
This is the step most get confused about and get stuck.
In order to create content, you first need software on your web host that allows you to easily make new blog posts.
In internet-speak, software used to create and manage content is called CMS (content management systems). There are hundreds of free and commercial CMS programs. The problem is, which one should you choose?
With over 25 years of web development experience, I recommend using WordPress. According to Built With, WordPress is 93% of all blogs out there. So it’s obvious WordPress is the best choice.
Bluehost is recommended by the creators of WordPress.
Fortunately, if you’ve signed up to Bluehost through me, WordPress is automatically installed for you. Better yet, I also installed my favorite WordPress theme and the plugins I recommend every blogger uses. All of this is done at no extra charge!
In addition, you get my free Ready, Set… Blog! where I walk you through the various parts of WordPress, what you have to configure to get started with writing your first post.
You’ll have the tools to get up and running in no time and get help from me.
All you have to do is pay for Bluehost web hosting via my link.
I’m sure you are now thinking… “Ok Larry, what’s the catch?”
No this isn’t a scam. By signing up using one of the links on the page, I get a commission. In the return, I’m giving back by helping you get set up at no additional cost.
No need to figure out which theme to choose or plugins to use.
After you place your Bluehost order, I give you access to my free course.
All you need to do is use my signup form.
NOTE: You must order from my Bluehost link to get my free bonuses. If you order from another source, I will not install your blog for free.
Step 5 – Create Your First Blog Post
Once your order is completed, you are ready to rock and roll.
The last and most important step. Start writing! You’ve gotten this far. Take action and create some posts on your blog.
Blog posts are how Google finds about your blog and its content. Search engines like Google account for 60-80% of all traffic to a blog post. So it’s important you write content and on a consistent basis.
What specific content you should write is a whole different subject that I won’t cover here.
Like any new venture, this is a long game. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see instant results. I wouldn’t expect real results for the first two or three months until you get in your groove.
- Write to your audience’s needs, not yours (however, they might be the same).
- Research popular search terms.
- Write on a regular basis. Start off with a goal. I recommend a new post once a week.
- Focus on quality, not quantity. Write epic posts that have at least 2,000 words of in-depth insight, rather than a whole bunch of useless 400-word articles.
- Promote. If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? Post on social media, figure out SEO for bloggers and create a mailing list so your readers can receive updates.
If you made it to the end, you are one of the selected few. You have completed the first step in a journey that can be life-changing for you.
You can continue by: