14 Oct How to Start a Blog for Under $100
The most common reason for starting a blog is to make money, which means blogging is ideal for a retirement side hustle.
The problem is that many people don’t know how to start a blog.
Just the thought of starting a blog feels overwhelming. Then, you start to wonder if it will be worth it.
Yes, blogging takes time, and it takes money.
Here’s the good news – not only is it easy to start a blog, but it is also not nearly as expensive as you think.
Even if you are not technically savvy or have zero experience blogging, it is possible to start a blog that actually gets read and earns money.
If you are wondering how to start a blog, you’ve come to the right place.
Keep reading for our step-by-step guide on how to start a blog for under $100.
Step #1: Select a Niche/Topic
According to Growth Badger, “There are over 600 million blogs in the world today, out of over 1.7 billion websites.”
With that many blogs in existence, you must find a way to make your blog stand out in the crowded blogosphere.
Therefore, knowing how to start a blog begins with finding your niche, or the topic that you and a select audience are passionate about.
But you don’t want to jump into blogging with a topic that hundreds of other bloggers are already discussing.
Instead, you want to settle on a topic that is popular enough to get web traffic but unique enough to not have too much competition.
Start by asking what your blog will be about and then focus on narrowing the topic.
Let’s say you want to blog about money management.
Money management is too broad, but money management for parents or money management for single moms has fewer competing blogs.
This first how to start a blog tip doesn’t end once you’ve found your niche. Now you must identify your audience.
Growth Badger claims, “Successful bloggers know their audiences well. 73% of bloggers who earn over $50,000 per year say they focus their content on the interests of a very specific group.”
If you want your blog to be a success, you must know your audience and know them well.
This means that beyond identifying your key demographics, such as single moms and age group, you need to define your avatar.
Essentially, your avatar is the ideal person to find, read your blog, and buy whatever you’re selling.
Defining your avatar is critical in helping you create a blog and focus on talking to the one perfect person rather than blindly sending your blog out to the whole world.
Here are some key questions to help you define your avatar:
- What is your avatar looking for? What questions do they have? What do they Google?
- Where does your avatar hang out (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.)?
- Who does your avatar associate with? What other blogs or personalities do they follow?
- What do they value?
- What motivates them?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What does their day-to-day life look like?
- What is their personal situation (married, single, divorced, kids, no kids, pets)?
Step #2: Choose a Blogging Platform
You’ve found your niche. Now it’s time to choose a blogging platform – an essential component to knowing how to start a blog.
Blogs are a type of website. However, unlike typical websites, they are not static. Blogs tend to be updated much more frequently than websites.
There are several blogging platforms, such as Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, and Wix, where you can write and produce blog content.
You can choose to use a free blogging platform, but you likely won’t get the results you want.
We have all seen the difference between a quality blog site and a free one.
Free blogging platforms simply don’t look as nice or professional as those you spend a little money on such as Bluehost.
Research, and decide which blogging platform will work best for the long term.
Don’t just rush into it and choose the first one you find that is free.
Instead, consider your goals.
For example, if you are starting a blog to make money, then you want to go with a blogging platform that will make your readers trust you.
The most trusted blogging platform is WordPress – for good reason.
WordPress offers the plug-ins and tools bloggers need to monetize their blogs, and they offer tons of themes or designs that will make your blog look authentic and legitimate.
Plus, it is user-friendly for first-time bloggers.
When you sign up with Bluehost (an official WordPress recommended web hosting provider), you receive instant WordPress installation and a free domain name for the first year, all for $2.95 a month.
It is well worth the $35.40 a year to make your blog look like a trusted source on the web.
Step #3: Pick a Domain Name
The next step in knowing how to start a blog is to select a domain name, or your blog’s URL address.
Without a domain name or a web hosting account, it means you will be stuck with the URL your free blogging platform provided.
It’ll look something like this:
It doesn’t exactly scream, “You can trust what I’m selling!”
Instead, you need to pick a domain name and pay for the rights to it. Generally, this tends to be inexpensive (around $10 a year).
However, when considering how to start a blog and choosing Bluehost as your web hosting account, your domain name is free for the first year.
Ideally, your domain name will be your blog name or close to it.
You get bonus points, so to speak, for choosing an SEO-friendly domain name.
Let’s take a minute to explain what SEO is and why it matters.
SEO stands for search engine optimization.
This refers to words or phrases that people type into a search engine (aka Google) that will lead them to your blog.
You want to use SEO keywords to let Google know what your blog is about and to bring your avatar to your blog.
That means you need to include a search keyword in your domain name if possible.
Using our example on blogging for moms who want to know more about money management, if your URL is www.mommymoneymanagement.com, this not only identifies who the blog is for and what it is about, but also uses a key search term.
Once you’ve selected a domain name, use Bluehost’s domain name finder to see if the domain name you want is still available.
Also, you will want to run a trademark search to make sure the name isn’t taken.
Step #4: Get a Web Hosting Account
Web hosting is the service that allows your blog to be found on the internet.
The web hosting service works as a hard drive for your blog.
If you do a simple search, you will find plenty of web hosting services, which range in price from $3 to $1,000 a month. For instance, if you pay someone to design and build your website instead of doing it yourself, you will likely pay much more.
Should you choose WordPress as your blogging platform, then you need to look for a web hosting service that specializes in WordPress, like Bluehost.
A quality WordPress web hosting provider should include one-click installation and great customer support.
Bluehost offers a WordPress Hosting Plan that includes all the power of WordPress along with innovative plug-ins, themes, and seamless 3rd-party integrations.
That’s why Bluehost is the biggest and most respected web hosting service.
Step #5: Set Up WordPress
How to start a blog using WordPress is simple with Bluehost.
After you create your account with Bluehost and have your domain name, you can log in to your Bluehost account.
Upon entering, you will see the admin panel with the “Install WordPress” icon.
- Click this magic icon.
- Then, select “Do It Yourself.”
- Then, you will check your domain.
- Next, you will check the box acknowledging their terms of service.
- Last, you click “Install Now.”
Five clicks later, your blog is ready for action.
Some people find these five clicks a little intimidating. If you’re one of them, consider hiring someone through Fiverr to do it for you.
It’s as easy as signing up for Fiverr and searching Bluehost.
You will find a variety of freelancers who offer their tech services (starting at $5). These services range from setting up the default WordPress for your domain to fixing errors on your blog.
The good thing about Fiverr is that you get to choose who you want to hire based on your budget and their skills.
Step #6: Select Your Blog Theme
Hooray! You are ready to start blogging.
Well, not quite.
You have a blogging platform, a domain name, and a web hosting account.
But you also have a blank blog.
It’s time to select a theme, which is just a fancy word for design or your blog’s overall appearance.
The theme includes:
- Widgets (and their locations)
- Page layouts (or templates)
- Styles for blog posts and archives
- Other stylistic features
When you first log in to WordPress, you will see a generic black and white web page to begin.
But there is beauty in a blank page!
You get to design your blog to look the way you want and make it totally unique.
Here’s how you select a theme on WordPress powered by Bluehost:
- On your dashboard, find “Appearance.”
- Within “Appearance,” select “Themes.”
- You will be shown several themes, but there are far more.
- Within “Themes,” select “Add New.”
- This will bring up thousands of themes.
- Select “Feature Filter” to narrow down your theme choices based on your preferences.
- Click on a theme’s thumbnail to see a preview of the theme as your blog.
- Once you find the perfect theme, click the “Install” button.
Best of all – these themes are all free!
Exploring Premium Themes
With that said, some people prefer to purchase premium themes from sites like Themeforest, which offers more than 12,000 themes and 6 months of support from the developer.
This is because the free themes don’t offer tech support like you’d get if you worked one on one with a web designer.
And, you are pretty much stuck with the exact layout of the free theme unless you know some coding to customize it.
For many bloggers, purchasing a premium theme from Themeforest is well worth it for the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have tech support.
Don’t forget about Fiverr when it comes to choosing a theme.
There are several freelancers on Fiverr who specialize in customizing and developing WordPress themes.
Step #7: Install Theme
You’re almost there!
Now that you have chosen your perfect theme, it is time to install it.
If you selected one of the free WordPress themes, then all you need to do is click “Install.”
After the installation is finished, you will click “Activate” and then start blogging.
However, if you purchased a premium theme from a site such as Themeforest, you should receive installation instructions.
The installation will vary depending on the premium theme.
Once again, this is a great time to take advantage of the pros providing their services through Fiverr.
A quick search on Fiverr for “WordPress Theme” brings up several freelancers offering to do Themeforest WordPress theme installation.
For just a few dollars, you can save your time and mental energy by allowing someone else to do this part of the job for you.
Step #8: Add Content
The question of how to start a blog is quickly followed by what to write about.
Now that you are set up and ready to go, it is time to put words on the page (or screen).
Ideally, you should have some idea of what you want to talk about as soon as you choose your niche.
But a blog isn’t a static website.
Blogs are meant to be a continuous stream of content for readers.
That means you have to come up with a lot of ideas to write about for your blog.
Start by making a list of blog topics that you care about.
Then, consider what your audience or avatar would search for that could bring them to your site.
What questions does your audience have that you can answer?
If you are stumped or just need to generate a quick list of possible blog topics, check out Answer the Public.
Answer the Public is a fast and easy way to find out what your audience is searching for online.
All you have to do is plug in 1 or 2 keywords, and Answer the Public will generate a wealth of content ideas.
Once you have your list of content ideas, create a content or editorial calendar to keep you on track with publishing new posts.
What if writing isn’t your strength?
You may have a fantastic idea for a blog, but writing is a struggle.
Or maybe you just don’t have enough time between your full-time job and managing this blog as your side hustle to write the blog content.
In both cases, it is wise to search Fiverr for freelance writers.
You can hire a freelance writer to write blogs for you on topics you know your audience will want to read.
While you pay the writer to write the blog, if it is quality content, you will continue to reap the rewards long after you’ve paid the writer you hired from Fiverr.
Speaking of reaping rewards, the key to making money from your blog is having quality content that drives traffic to your blog.
With the right kind of content, you can boost traffic to your blog and earn money from ad displays and affiliate marketing.
For example, if someone does a Google search, finds your blog, and then clicks an ad displayed on your ad, you earn money.
There are various ad networks, but most people begin with Google AdSense because they don’t require the blog to have a certain amount of traffic.
Affiliate marketing is another way to use your blog content to make money.
Affiliate marketing means you work with a company to talk about their products or services in exchange for a commission.
For example, you write a blog about teaching kids about money and link to an Amazon product that you recommend. If someone clicks this link and buys the product, you earn money.
However, it is important to understand that the quality of the content is more important than the quantity.
Growth Badger reports, “Quality of content is rated the #1 most important success factor among all bloggers.”
Content is key. The quality of your content will drive traffic to your blog. The more traffic to your blog, the more money you will earn.
Step #9: Promote Your Blog
Unfortunately, a successful blog doesn’t happen like Field of Dreams – as in, “If you build it, they will come.”
When you ask how to start a blog, you are really asking how to get people to read it.
The truth is that the biggest challenge for bloggers is getting people to their blogs.
Beyond writing SEO quality content, you have to treat blogging like a job.
That means you have to market your blog as if it is an actual product or service you are selling.
The fastest and easiest way to tell the world your blog exists is through social media.
According to Growth Badger, “96% of bloggers promote their posts with social media. […] Social media is by far the most common promotional strategy.”
But a random one-time post to your personal social media page isn’t going to cut it.
The blogosphere revolves around making connections, so you need to amp up your social media activity.
The key is identifying which social media channels your audience or avatar uses the most.
If you spend all your time sharing content on the wrong social media channel, you won’t get the traffic you want or need.
For example, if your audience is women in their 20s, then Facebook might not be as effective as Instagram.
Or, if your blog is for professionals, Pinterest may not work as well as LinkedIn.
Before you start plugging your blog on social media, review your Customer Avatar Worksheet. Where does your avatar hang out on the web?
Here are some things to consider about the different social media platforms:
- Facebook – Facebook is the most popular social media site for bloggers – especially because you can make a blog page and create ads. However, they are constantly changing the algorithm for how your posts show up on potential readers’ newsfeeds.
- Instagram – Instagram is a popular social media site that relies on media. Users share photos or 60-second videos to the platform and promote their Instagram accounts (which connects people to their blogs) by using searchable hashtags.
- Pinterest – Pinterest is a content creation source for millions of people. By pinning images and your blogs to the site, people can find your content through searching for similar content.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a business-oriented networking site designed specifically for making connections. If your blog has content relating to professionals, this is a good place to post.
- Twitter – Twitter is a microblogging social network where you are limited to a certain number of characters per post. It is great for engaging in conversations with potential readers.
- YouTube – YouTube is a media-sharing network that works well for bloggers who also want to establish a vlog (video blog). Often, bloggers will use YouTube to create additional content, such as videos of the things they discuss in blogs (cooking demonstrations, product reviews, etc.).
When planning your social media strategy, it is wise to consider more than one social media network.
With the ever-changing algorithms, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.
One last tip: If social media is not your thing, this is another part of the blog side hustle you can outsource to a social media manager on Fiverr.
Hooray! 9 easy steps later and you are well on your way to building a successful blog side hustle.
Yes, it is possible. You can start a blog for under $100 and wind up making much more.
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