So you’ve heard all about blogging and you’re not really sure what this is all about, or perhaps you’re looking for a sideline income and you’ve got a penchant to tap into some creative writing and make some money online but you’re not quite sure where or how to start?
Well if you love writing, blogging is probably your answer and if you want to make money online, blogging is without a doubt one of many ways to achieve this. Need some proof you can make money online with a blog? Check out these guys who have become really good at it and provide monthly income reports to show you what can be achieved!
But let’s start with some basics, because after all, this is a beginners guide.
Blogging or blog, what does it all mean?
The term blog was abbreviated from “web log” and is used to describe a website that presents an ongoing chronicle of information very much like a diary or journal.
Blogs can be set up and used by individuals or companies.
For individuals, a blog is a great place to organise thoughts and opinions on a subject or just as a chronicle of your daily life.
You may be an avid gardener and want to set up a gardening blog to showcase the growth of your vege plot for family, friends and other avid gardeners and then provide tips on gardening, or you could run a blog that discusses the political goings on in the world.
For companies, it’s a great way to present information and news to customers about the business and it’s products or services.
What is blogging?
Blogging is the art and action of maintaining your blog. If you someone says they “are blogging” then it normally means they have set up a blog and they are maintaining it, or in the more immediate sense that they are currently writing a post for their blog.
What is a blogger?
A blogger is someone who runs or maintains a blog. I’m a blogger. I blog about personal finance, debt, money making tips and how to earn passive income. That is to say, this blog is documenting my journey to making a source of passive or extra income.
What makes a blog different to a website
A blog is a website, but a blog consists of content in the form of a series of entries that are often considered to be articles or most commonly referred to as blog posts.
What you are reading right now is a single blog post. Another example of a blog post is my introductory post on why I’m documenting my journey to passive income.
A blog post are typically dated and assigned to a an author. You can have multiple authors on a blog, if you want. Posts also can also be assigned to specific categories, which you define, and tags which help readers discover new content. Tags are typically just keywords that are links to other related posts tagged with the same phrase.
Posts can contain just words, but can also contain richer content such as images and video. Doing so provides a better experience to users by helping communicate the content of your post in other ways.
Generally, although not essentially, a blog post can also offer readers the opportunity to leave comments about the blog post. If you scroll to the bottom of this post you’ll see a comment form. It’s a great way to interact or engage with your audience. If you want to see how blog comments work then please feel free to add a comment and let me know whether you found the post useful (or not) and perhaps even give me ideas on how to improve it.
You see what I did there? I asked for your engagement! Getting engagement from your audience helps build your blogging community. Getting that feedback or your ideas is a great way for me, as a blogger, to learn how I can make this post and indeed my whole blog better.
If the content is useful I can create more of it, if it’s still not explained well than I can evolve my blogging style.
The good thing about running a blog of your own is it’s yours. There are no hard and fast rules that dictate what you should say and how you should say it.
If you want to earn some money from your blog then sure it pays to ask your audience for improvement tips on what you’re blogging about and how you are writing about it.
What do you need to get a blog up and running?
A domain name
Now, you don’t need a domain name to get you started. If you’re on a really tight budget or you’re just starting a blog and what to give it a try before you get more serious then you can consider getting one later.
You can get a domain name long after you have started your blog but most people have a reasonable idea what they want to blog about and choosing a domain name creates more of a sense of ownership over their blog.
Picking a good name for your site is important it says a lot about you and your content. I personally believe you’ll be more invested in your blogging efforts if you choose a site name and get a domain name to match.
Finding a domain name that hasn’t been registered can be a chore. But before I give you details on some websites that can help you with that, along with the best places to register a domain name let me give you some examples of some blogging sites that have and haven’t chosen a domain name to give you a clear understanding.
Let’s go back to the gardening example with two blogs I found on the web. I’m doing a little gardening myself to save money on herbs for cooking so I’m afraid we’re following a theme.
Real Men Sow – Gardening Blog
Jono set up his blog in 2007 after taking on a redundant allotment with his Mum. He’s documented his journey, provides tips and informs users about the money he saves and the satisfaction he gets from growing his own food. He’s got a great title to his blog and so he purchased a domain name www.realmensow.co.uk to suit. The domain name really provides a great way for
Jono’s blog post contain information and updates about allotment gardening and are a perfect example of what a blog can be. He has provided a means to monetizing his blog by offering copywriting services to other blog or website owners via a link from his website.
When your blog starts to become successful, Jono’s blog has been featured on some prominent websites and publications, this provides a perfect opportunity to share your knowledge and experience in order to earn some extra money as I intend to do. Jono does so in order to pay for seeds for his garden.
Mark’s Vege Plot
Mark runs a blog without a domain name. He also blogs about his garden as well as family, travels, cookery and food. He hosts his blog on a free blogging platform called Blogger (more about blogging platforms soon). But you can see that not choosing a domain name hasn’t hindered Mark’s ability to provide quality content, although sometimes hosting on a free blogging platform can be a hindrance.
You have to wonder though how good Mark’s website would look in search engine results or on other websites as www.marksvegplot.co.nz!
So, ultimately getting a domain name is really down to choice and most likely cost because a domain name is normally an annual fee. If you want to get a little more serious, particularly if you want to earn some income then I would suggest you register and use a domain name.
Choosing and registering a domain name for your blog
So how do you go about choosing a domain name? If you have firm ideas what you want your domain name to be, then go ahead and visit a domain name registrar.
A registrar will help you find the domain, you register and pay for it (there is normally an annual fee, but you can register for as long as 10 years in advance). I recommend using either of these two registrars simply because they are reasonably cheap but because they offer really simple control panels that empower you to make changes to the settings on your domain name if you need to. I won’t go into details about that. These sites are 123reg.co.uk and godaddy.com.
If you are struggling to think of a domain name then I sometimes use a tool called Name Mesh to help me with research. This tool allows you to put in keywords and then it provides you with a list of variations or ideas on what is available to register. It can save you a lot of time!
Choosing and blogging platform
Let’s cover off what a blogging platform actually is.
A blogging platform is the service that provides the functionality to run a blog. A blog platform is a specific form of a content management system.
There are a whole bunch of blogging platforms out there. I’ve tried a few over the years and I’d say the very best is WordPress. Another popular blogging platform is Blogger, which is owned and operated by Google. There is also a new platform set up by Twitter’s founders called Medium. There are of course many more but if I present you with so many in this post you’ll be spoilt for choice and less likely to make a decision.
If you want my strongest recommendation, pick WordPress. It’s easy to use, has tons of features that enable you add things to your site easily and you can customize your design and layout by installing themes.
Hosting your blog
This section assumes that you are going to be blogging with WordPress (like me) and you sensibly want to have your own hosting.
Three of the best hosting companies that myself and my partner have used are:
I have been a web developer for almost 20 years and have used DiscountAsp.net for website hosting for a very long time. Clicking on the link will get you 3 months free when you sign up for an annual account!
Everleap is a hosting service in the cloud offered by the same company as DiscountAsp.net, it’s the same level of quality service but it’s hosting “in the cloud”. I’ve used Everleap for the last two years and I’m really happy. It’s a little more pricey than DiscountAsp.net hosting, especially if you get the 3 months free. However, it’s run on faster computers with some added features to help server your sites to browsers faster. Page speed has a positive effect on ranking in search engines, which is where you want to be found to get people to visit your site.
One major benefit to Everleap with it being “in the cloud” is that you can increase your ability to cope with that traffic quickly if all of a sudden you get a lot of extra traffic. I’ve read of many bloggers who have hit this nightmare after writing an article that’s got a whole bunch of traffic in a short space of time. This happens if you write a good blog post and people share the article at a fast rate. Your hosting company doesn’t expect the traffic and the package that you are on can’t cope so they pull your site down. Aside from many other benefits, Everleap will avoid that problem for you when it happens.
The next best thing about Everleap is they offer a 30 day trial period. You can’t argue with that!
Both DiscountAsp.net and Everleap are reliable, offer a simple control panel that’s easy to understand, have a good number of resources to help guide you and if you are still stuck the 24/7 support is amazing.
Bluehost is a provider used by my partner. She found it easy to set up her site plus it’s inexpensive and they offer a money back guarantee. She opted to try Bluehost as I was curious how they would fair against my usual host. The jury is still out as far as I’m concerned as she’s only just begun blogging herself. We’ve only had exposure to ordering, set-up and some basic support. Whilst it’s been a seamless experience, at the moment I can’t give it the full commendation that I can for the other two.
If you ordered a domain name from 123reg.co.uk earlier, or you plan to, then you may notice they offer hosting. They are awesome for domain names but not so brilliant with their hosting. I’ve tried it and had a bad experience with both the hosting features and an even worse experience dealing with the support to try to fix the issues. I ended up complaining and getting a refund after spending weeks trying to solve seemingly simple issues. I gave them a try because their hosting was cheap, bad idea.
Setting up your blog with your hosting provider
If you’ve ordered hosting then to be able to start blogging you need to set up your blog on your hosting. If you set up hosting with WordPress or Blogger then they’ll guide you through it. If you ordered hosting with Everleap, DiscountAsp.net or Bluehost then you may want some hand holding.
If so, I’m going to create some guides on how to do this, but I think that’s a post for another day.
However, if you’re keen to have help in the meantime then let me know in the comments and I’ll help you out – your questions will help me pull a really useful guide together for others to follow!
If you’ve reached here you’ve hopefully got an understanding of what blogging is. If you haven’t and you have questions, remember that’s what the comments field below is for, feel free to ask any questions.
So what now? Well, you want to start blogging. You’ve just begun your journey and I invite you to sign up to my mailing list to get notified when I post new articles that will be useful to you. If you want to make money online with your blog, or via other means, then there’s going to be tons of information coming to you with lots of tips and helpful advice to save you pain and help you avoid mistakes as I share my blogging experiences and successes with you.
If you set up a blog as a consequence of this post let me know by firing your site URL or domain name into the comments field with a little “hello”. I’d love to take a look. Also, if you want more ongoing tips or you’re keen to follow my journey to earning a passive income from my blog, and other sources, then please join my mailing list for updates.
If you are looking for specific advice about the next steps on your blog then drop me a message in the comments field, I’m here to help.