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How to Start a Blog

This post may contain affiliate links.

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff (BFS) has made $100,000+ since February 2010.   And when I mention blogging as my main income stream, the most frequently asked question is “How do you make money blogging?”

Well, you make money through advertising deals, selling products and services, or using your blogging to get jobs online as well. You get the advertising deals or the traffic to sell your products or services by growing your site. BUT FIRST, you need a site and we have to get you writing!

If you've ever wondered how to start a blog so that you can make money from home, this is how! I've been self employed thanks to blogging since 2011 and LOVE it. This is how I do it.

You Will Need Hosting and a Domain Name

Choosing a good hosting company can be daunting because of all of the options, but learn from my mistakes!

Mistake #1:  I started out with Blogger, a free platform for blogging. Then I realized that since it’s free, I wouldn’t have real control and they could delete my site at will.

Mistake #2:  So I learned the error of my ways and bought my own domain name for $15 for a year and paid for $6 a month hosting…with a website host that was completely unhelpful and my sites crashed weekly – Host Monster. I mean it, every week I was on the phone with them asking why my site was down…watching time tick by as they gave me the runaround.

Way Better:  I moved everything to Host Gator instead, which worked pretty well.  But as BFS grew, Host Gator started having issues keeping it live.  It was truly frustrating.  4 1/2 years after starting, I moved BFS to a more expensive option – a virtual private server.  And now I’ve moved the rest of my sites to Bluehost!

My Personal Experience with Bluehost Thus Far

I put my money where my mouth is and transferred over all of my small-medium sites to Bluehost in 2016.  I used that experience to create this guide.  So far, I’ve been very impressed.

I am not very techie, so I needed a little help along the way during the very first day.  Their customer service took 5 minutes to get to my chat box and then they answered all of my little questions within another 5 minutes.  Easy stuff – check.

Then I hit yet another wall – I didn’t know how to transfer my sites over without learning a ton.  I got overwhelmed.  Then I saw a place on Bluehost where I could pay to have up to 5 sites moved over for me for $150 total, cool beans!  I jumped in, they moved over my sites for me, and everything was great…except I forgot a site.  My pet sitting site.  Oops.

So I emailed them to see how much it would be just to move over that one site, and they just did it immediately and for free!  It was so easy!  They made my whole week!

In short, I love Bluehost.  If you are starting a site or just need to try an inexpensive host, try Bluehost.  AND, let me know that you did!  I want to help you grow!  Thanks!

Easier Start for You

I can make your journey WAY easier! Check out Bluehost. They are inexpensive, have 24/7 customer service, AND you get a free domain name any time you sign up for a 12+ month package with them.  Yep, less than $36 for your first year of blogging – domain and host all in one!

I’ve even specifically requested (and received!) a special price just for my readers for signing up for a 36 12+ month package from BFS.  It’s $2.95 a month (instead of their normal $3.95 a month discount)!  No promo code needed, just click on any of the referral links in this post or on my site.

I chose howtostartablogwithbluehost.com and redirected it right here when I signed up.   This means you can get your domain name and hosting all at once and move the hell on!  This is where I would have started in 2010 if I could go back in time.

Once you follow the steps below, check out these free posts to really tackle it all head on!

Plus, send me the receipt from your signup and receive a free consultation!!!

Frankly, if you ever plan to add any sort of advertising to your site (link sales, affiliate ads, your own products, pay-per-click/view, etc.), remember to start your site with – or move your site to – a self-hosted domain.

Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a Site with Bluehost

Okay, so I am going to break this into BIG, skim-able steps via bolded headings – 5 Main Steps.  But the 1-16 numbering is to let you know how many screens to expect.  🙂  If you already know the domain name you want, this whole process up until customizing your site should take 20 minutes or less – that includes the time waiting for confirmation emails and stuff like that.  Then add in the time of choosing a domain name (if you haven’t already) plus customizing your site.  Let me know if you need help!

First Step – Pick Your Plan

1.  Click on this banner or any of my referral links to Bluehost to get started with the special rate.

Bluehost $2.95

Yes, these are referral links.  I wrote out this step-by-step guide myself using screen prints they had for me.  I truly want to make starting as easy as possible, and Bluehost can do this for you.

2.  Select the plan for you. The $2.95 per month rate is for 36 months with the basic plan that will cover just one domain. As someone who started with just one domain in February 2010 (budgetinginthefunstuff.com) but ended that year with 4 more sites of my own (and has fluctuated up and down a dozen sites since then), think carefully about the “basic” versus the “plus” plan when you are selecting.  The discounted rate for 36 months with the “plus” plan is $5.95 a month and it’s $13.95 a month for the “pro” plan for 36 months.

2-Select Your Plan

Second Step – Domain Name Selection

3.  Once you select a plan, you’ll have a chance to either get your free domain if you selected a 12+ month option or input the domain you already have.  Honestly, if you are getting a free domain offered to you, I’d take it even if your original plan was just to transfer over the domains you have.  UNLESS you only plan on having this one domain forever…then get the 1 domain plan and stick with it.  🙂

3- Sign Up Now

Here’s my best advice for selecting a domain name. Find a name that clearly depicts the subject you’re covering and that you will love for years to come. Whatever niche you enjoy, figure out some keywords that will be searched for and include them in your name. It also helps to think of the phrases you connect with or that will help to describe your site right off the bat.

When I was selecting a name for my blog, I knew I would be talking about budgets and priorities, but I was also keenly aware that very few personal finance (PF) bloggers seemed to stress the importance of fun. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff was born on a car ride with my husband as we threw ideas back and forth. It aptly described what I wanted to write about. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably try to pick something shorter to type, but I’m quite happy with my decision now.

Once you’ve selected the main elements of your domain name, you will then need to choose the ending, which is called the top-level domain or TLD. By far, a .com is the easiest to remember. But if that is not available, you could also use .org, .net, .info, or countless other variations. My main suggestion would be to try for .com first. This is because it’s more natural for people trying to remember your web address in the future.

Third Step – Personal Information and Plan Confirmation

4.  Then you’ll hit one, long screen that contains the account info section, your package selection, and the payment info request.

4- Account Information

For the package information section, make sure they have your selections marked correctly. You’ll also see extras like “Domain Privacy Protection”, “Site Backup Pro”, “Search Engine Jumpstart”, “SiteLock Security – Find”, and your total cost.  The 12 and 24 month rates are all slightly higher than the 36 month option, but you will get a discount for them as well.  Just look at all of your options when they pop up and make the best decision for you.

5- Package Information

Click on the “More information” links near each choice to see if any of them sound especially beneficial to you…in the end, you can add most of those in the future, even “Domain Privacy Protection”, but that is more about knowing if you need that coverage from the very beginning or not. The biggest thing to confirm on this screen is that your total cost is correct.

Once you confirm all of that, you’ll see a classic billing section.

6- Billing Information

5.  After you’ve paid, you’ll most likely get a screen with a few sales offers.  Just click “no thanks” and then you should receive the welcome to Bluehost screen, which also includes the link to create your new password (make it good!).

7-Welcome To Bluehost

6.  On the next screen, choose your password and confirm it.   Then you get to the less familiar part.

8-Set Password

Fourth Step – Logging In and Installing WordPress

7.  You will be at the Bluehost cPanel Login screen, which is just a fancy name for a login screen. 🙂  Login with the username and password you just set up.

9- Bluehost_cPanel Login8.  Your cPanel screen may look overwhelming if you’re new to this, but you can just click on “Install WordPress”.

10 - cPanel

9.  That should take you to this screen for WordPress so you can click on the “Start a Brand New Install” button.

11-WordPress

10.  Then select the domain name that you will be using WordPress with – the one you chose in Step 3.

12-Install WP

11.  That should take you to this WP Login screen. This is where you will input the name of your site, your admin name (do not use “admin”…that is easily hacked), your password (again, use a big mix of letters, numbers, symbols…asses use software programs to run the username and passwords…make it tough), and the email address you’d like associated with your site. Your installation details will be sent to this email.

13-WP Login

12.  Then you’ll see the Installation screen while it installs…

14-Installation

13.  This all will be followed by the happy orange bar of “Install Complete” success!

15-Install Complete

14.  Check the email you used on the WP Login Screen to find the Mojo email with a link to browse themes to start designing your site!

16-Mojo Email

Fifth Step – Customizing Your Very Own Site!

15.  That will take you to your very own WordPress login screen. Input the admin username and password you chose on the WP Login screen.

17-WordPress Login

16.  Then you will be looking at your site’s dashboard! This is the place you can select a theme (“Appearance”), make posts (“Posts”), plugins (“Plugins”) which are the blog equivalent for “there’s an app for that”, and check out the main settings. Poke around. Keep another page up and you can see what your changes really look like by refreshing the other page and simply looking.

18-WordPress Dashboard

You can get lost on your design, but I highly suggest keeping it simple to start with while you learn what you really want. Pick a free theme that gives you a few customizing options or something that looks good to you. I’ve heard good things about free themes like “Twenty Ten”, “Squirrel”, “Clearly”, and “Mantra”. But look around, try a few out, pick your current favorite, and then start concentrating on the important stuff!

If you use my referral link, you can get started right now and receive my negotiated discounted price!

Free Consultation

If you sign up from this post, please email me your receipt and receive a free consultation on the topic of your choosing!!!

Main Requirements of a Blog

A blog is a very customized thing. That said, when I first click onto a personal blog, there are certain key elements I expect to see on every single one:

  • Header with your blog’s name.
  • An “About” page or tab.
  • Categories or archives that make your past posts easily accessible.
  • Subscription buttons so readers can at least subscribe to your RSS Feed, Twitter account, and/or Facebook account. I use a WordPress plugin called “Subscription Options” to help me place my set on the top of my right sidebar.
  • A search box.
  • A Privacy Policy, a Disclosure Policy, and a Disclaimer.
  • POSTS – Publish your welcome post and About page as soon as you can. In my opinion, you are a blogger as soon as your first post is published. It is definitely the first real step to growing an audience and eventually making money through your site.

Then you can check out these free posts:

 

If your blog has these basics, it can survive right from the start while you build it up. If you don’t give yourself a “hook” that will catch interested readers, it will be hard to build a following no matter how hard you work.

Cool beans – that is my step-by-step guide to blogging! Please email me anytime with any questions – budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com!

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