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I keep getting asked the same question by a lot of the people I know or meet; how can I do what you do?! How do I escape the 9-5 lifestyle, quit my job and start doing something I'm truly passionate about - while becoming my own boss?
The answer is simple; start a blog and transform it into a business. Today I'll teach you how you can start your own blog. In 30 minutes.
It's incredible what you can do with only a laptop and an internet connection. You can reach thousands of people, regardless of their geographic location. You can share your message and be heard...and yes, you can make money from it.
Wait, what? You can make money blogging?
Yes, you can. There are several ways to do that, which I've covered in a previous post. My favourite way to make money from my blog is with affiliate marketing. This consists of recommending products or services that would help your audience. If they buy through your blog, you'll earn a commission. Sweet!
OK, they are definitely some of the most successful bloggers / entrepreneurs, and they have been doing this for years. It's only now that they're earning this sort of income, but other much newer bloggers have found success much earlier. I myself am enjoying a moderate amount of success, which I plan on increasing 😉
While I don't necessarily recommend that you do what I did and quit your career to run a blog, you should definitely start one now - or better, yesterday! - and grow it so that it'll replace your job's income in a year or two. After that, the earning potential can be HUGE.
Blogging can allow your to escape the 9-5 lifestyle that you're trapped in and provide the freedom to work when, where, and how you want to.
What you need to know:
A blog is the best way to get online, start writing and getting readers. You need 4 things to get a fully operational blog:
- Hosting - the service to run your site from servers - I use Hostgator
- Domain - the web address for your site. Mine is escapingtofreedom.com
- Blogging platform - the engine that powers you site - WordPress is king
- Theme - what makes your site look pretty - I use a theme called Aspire Pro
There are other blogging platforms out there, such as Blogger or Medium, which may look easier to use than WordPress. The biggest problem with these is that you'll be very limited when you want to make your blog into a business and sell your own products.
I actually started a previous blog using Blogger. It seemed easier to use and I was eager (too eager) to get out there and share what I wanted to say.
Within 2 months I had switched to WordPress - and I never looked back.
It's simply the best and most robust platform out there. It has thousands of plugins (most of which are free) to make your site do what you want it to do, and it has a huge community to support you. Every blogger and entrepreneur that has any online presence is using it - and so should you.
OK, now that we've got that out of the way, let's build you a blog, shall we?! 🙂
As I mentioned before, your blog is going to need hosting. That's a fancy way of saying that the hosting company will rent you some space on their servers so that you can store your website for the world to see.
If you're wondering why you need to pay for hosting, and why you can't just start with a free WordPress blog, this is why; you'll never own your site, or the content your write in it. This will get in the way of starting a business and monetising because you'll never be fully in control of your blog.
The best hosting company to get started is, in my opinion, HostGator. It's what I've used from the start and I couldn't be happier with the result. Installing WordPress with HostGator is a 3-click sort of experience as well, so it really couldn't be more streamlined.
One of the aspects that sets HostGator ahead of the competition is its customer service - they never leave you hanging! I actually messed up something pretty badly when I was getting started with my site (which is pretty hard to do, yet I somehow managed it!). I thought I had broken my site...
I asked their support team for help using their cool chat system - no waiting to speak to someone on the phone if you need something fixed pronto! They were very knowledgeable about the issue I had and within 10 minutes it was fixed. When you're new to blogging, this sort of support is incredibly helpful!
Once you're ready to start, click here to go to Hostgator (you'll get a 20% discount) and you'll be greeted by this happy fella:
Click on "Get Started Now" and you'll be shown the three hosting options - you can even click directly on the buttons below and it'll take you there.
If you're just starting out I'd pick the Hatchling Plan for now - you won't need the more expensive ones until later on. You're still getting Unmetered Bandwidth, which means you can drive as much traffic as you want to your blog - it won't suffer from overload!
I went with the Baby plan myself because I wanted to set up more websites than one and the Hatchling plan only provides hosting for one domain.
Do not go month to month - it'll be a pain for you in the long run. It might be cheaper now, but it won't be great when you forget to pay in 4 months and your blog gets taken down for a while. You get a 45 day money-back guarantee anyway. You know, in case you change your mind and decide you want to keep working a 9-5 job until you're 70 😉
Now onto the ever-important naming of your blog!
Step 2 - Choose a domain
The next thing you'll need is a domain. This are the words that appear on the search bar at the top - for me it's escapingtofreedom.com. It's better if consists of two or three words that are easy to spell and remember, but there is plenty of room for creativity here. Let you inner domain name chooser be free!
I personally took ages to pick a domain name. I wanted it to be the name of the company I was going to create, so it had to capture what it was about. In hindsight, I'd recommend not spending as long as I did - it's just a name after all! There are plenty of amazing businesses built around websites with pretty terrible names. It really doesn't matter as much as you might think.
If you're struggling, try this tool to give you ideas for a domain name. All you have to do is input a couple of words and it'll generate many name variations - some of which will be hilarious - in a ridiculous kind of way.
Got a name? Good, let's move on.
You'll now want to put the domain you'd like into the box that will appear after you've selected your HostGator plan:
This will then let you know if the ".com" version of your chosen domain is available. Does it matter if it's not ".com"? Many say it doesn't matter if your domain is not purpleplantsforweddings.com as long as it's .net or .org, but I'd try and get a .com domain if possible because it adds more legitimacy to your brand.
If you already had a domain and want to transfer it to HostGator, click here - otherwise ignore this 🙂
If you've already bought a domain through another site, such as GoDaddy or Namecheap, you can click on the "I Already Own This Domain" tab and write it there.
Once you finish the rest of the steps in this guide, you'll have to find out your Hostgator NameServers. You'll get those in your welcome e-mail, as well as in your c-Panel when you click on "Server Stats" (more on this in Step 3). It'll look something like this:
You'll then have to log into the website that you got your domain from and find the "Manage" section. You're looking for something along the lines of "Manage DNS" and "Nameservers".
Once you find this, just paste the Hostgator nameservers (both of them) and you'll be set to go. It should take a few hours to transfer the domain, but then you'll be good.
If you're still confused after my pretty average explanation, check out Hostgator's official help section on this. They're the pros 😉
Once your domain name has been checked for availability, you'll see something like this:
The green tick means it's available! Instead of my ridiculous, fake domain name (who'd want purple plants at their wedding?! Orange plants are obviously way better!), you'll see your amazing new domain name 🙂
IMPORTANT: I would definitely leave this box ticked:
Without Domain Privacy Protection, anyone will be able to see your personal information - your full name, phone number, e-mail address etc... It's a small price to pay for anonymity, especially if you want to be an anonymous blogger!
As for all the other extras, I don't think they're worth it, and giving them a pass will keep your costs down. This is important at the beginning, when you may not have a lot of money to invest into your business.
After you sign up and input your billing info, you'll be all set with hosting and a domain! Bear in mind that the full amount will be billed at once.
Step 3 - Install WordPress
Ok, we're almost done, and the "technical" part will soon be over. Just a couple more steps and you'll be ready to write your first blog post!
You'll now want to head into your cPanel - your HostGator home. They've just redesigned it and it looks great - it used to be way more daunting-looking! You should have received an e-mail from HostGator with a link, username and password. Once you log in you'll see something like this:
You'll then want to click on "WordPress Installer", which will take you to the next step:
Here you can select your domain from Step 2 from the drop-down list. You can leave the "directory" box blank and click Next.
NOTE: DON'T take them up on their offer to install WordPress for you - the prices they charge are ridiculous considering it only takes a few clicks.
You'll now want to fill out the boxes, taking care to set your "Admin User" name to something other than "Admin" - this is what you'll use to log into your WordPress blog from now on, so it should not be too easy to guess by a stranger!
The "Admin Email" is where all the confirmation info will be sent, so make sure it's your best email. Tick the "Terms of Service Agreement" box and then click on "Install Now".
After a few seconds (this stuff is quick!) you'll hopefully get this screen:
The Username will be what you chose in the previous step, and the password what you'll use the first time you log in. You can change it once you're in for the first time if you wish, but the password they provide you with will be pretty darn secure - no chance in the world of anyone guessing it!
You should also get an e-mail with this info, just in case - keep it safe!
DONE! You now have a Blog with WordPress installed!
How long did that take?! 30 minutes? That's not a long time considering this site could change your life dramatically, and give you the freedom to quit your 9-5 job and pursue what you love! 🙂
Now you can go to "yourdomain.com/wp-admin" to log into the insides of your brand new blog! Obviously replace "yourdomain.com" with your actual domain! This is what you'll see:
It may take a couple of minutes for everything to be set in place, but if you see the image above you know you're good to go.
Go ahead, log in and see your WordPress Dashboard - you're going to spend a lot of time there ;)
Step 4 - Choose a theme
Now that WordPress has been installed on your brand spanking new blog, it's time to make it look pretty! For that, you'll need a theme.
You have two options here - free or paid themes.
It really depends on what you're looking to get from your blog. If you just want to keep it as cheap as possible and get started now, you'll be fine with a free theme - at the beginning at least. WordPress has hundreds of these, so you're bound to find what you're looking for.
To see a selection of free themes, go to your WordPress Dashboard (shown below - don't worry, yours will look simpler than this) and click on Appearance (circled in red) > Themes > Add New.
You can then choose the theme you like the best out of the huge selection. If you hover over a theme, you'll be able to Preview it - this lets you see what the theme looks and feels like. If you like it, all you have to do is click on the Install button and Activate it - then it'll be applied to your site! Simple!
A Case For Paid Themes
The problem with free themes is that they aren't that great. The saying "you get what you pay for" is true in this case. Some free themes will look good on the surface, but may be laggy, slow or unresponsive when visitors get to your site. Maybe they won't work well on tablets and mobile phones, which is vital.
If you're serious about starting a business, it really pays to get a paid theme from the start, which will save you from the hassle of transferring all your content and settings into a new theme down the line - I've heard it's a real nightmare.
The most popular (and probably best) paid theme out there is the Genesis framework - this is what I use on Escaping to Freedom, and it provides an incredibly optimised framework to run everything smoothly. It has clean code, it's fast, it's SEO optimised (so Google will love your site) and works perfectly on mobile devices.
These are all very important aspects of a blog / website, and Genesis ticks all the boxes.
If you decide that your new blog deserves to start in the best way, check out the Genesis Framework using my exclusive link. When your blog becomes a big success, you'll be glad you did this now.
The Genesis Framework also allows you to use Genesis-specific themes. A great example is the Aspire Pro theme, which is what Escaping to Freedom is using. I loved its look and feel and I thought it fit the Escaping to Freedom brand pretty well!
NOTE: Bear in mind that you'll have to buy both the Genesis framework as well as a Studiopress theme. This will cost around $99 as a one-off payment.
As I said, this is totally up to you - pick a free theme to save some bucks now, or invest the $99 into setting a solid foundation for your blog now, so you don't have to worry about it later.
You're done! Now go and write your first blog post!
I hope this guide has been helpful to you. If you get stuck with anything, make sure to contact me here and I'll help you as well as I can 🙂
Now that you have built a blog, you have acquired a little bit of virtual land for yourself on the vast continent that is the Internet. Where you go from here is up to you - will you keep your blog a very specialised niche reference or will you grow it to become famous around the world?
Whatever you do, have fun doing it, and remember it takes time. It takes a long time, people. Just keep going and writing great stuff and I have no doubt that you'll succeed.
If you're read this far (you're awesome) and haven't got a blog yet, you can click on my exclusive link to get a 20% discount on your Hostgator hosting.
Before you go, leave a comment below - have you found this guide useful? What are your plans for your blog?
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