How to Start a Blog (and Make Money)

So you want to make money blogging? Heard that! You might think it seems hard, but blogging for money is easier than you think. Here’s the steps for how to start a blog and make money.

(I’ll assume you already have your niche + domain. If not, read Find Your Niche first.)

You can start a blog (or website) in just minutes. I know, because I did it as I wrote this!

Blog Platforms

Step 1 is hosting. There are a number of different options, but for the average person, my recommendation is:

Bluehost

Bluehost has excellent prices, easy administration, and reliable hosting – plus, a money-back guarantee! For just a few bucks a month, it’s the best option for beginners, with plenty of room for growth.

I recommend their Prime plan, as it’s the same low introductory pricing as the Plus plan, but with the most extras & perks – in addition to unlimited websites & space, which believe it or not will come in very handy.

(For managed WordPress hosting, check out WP Engine. Another decent alternative is Weebly. But in this article, I’ll cover Bluehost.)

Install WordPress on Bluehost

So you’ve completed the Bluehost Prime signup. Now you’ll want to wait up to about 5 minutes to receive the “Welcome to Bluehost” email, which means your account is setup and ready.

Now we’re going to painlessly install WordPress (aka WP). WP is probably the easiest, most user-friendly, and most well-supported website platform today. It currently powers over 25% of sites on the internet!

In the My Bluehost > Hosting dashboard, scroll down and click “Install WordPress” to open the “1-click” WordPress installation process. Follow the wizard, selecting your domain (with or without the “www” – it’s up to you!) and leaving the directory blank.

Next, on the “Admin Information” page, I recommend entering each field (other than password) in lower case format, for now. Be sure to remember your password.

(The first time I tried, it told me “Sorry, it looks like we can’t create a database for this script. You’ll need to manually create a database and enter your credentials.” I think it was because I had entered “Mr. Incomes” as the site title, and used capital letters in my admin email address, and it didn’t seem to like one of those.)

When I finished that, it went to a “processing” page for about a minute. Then it went to a page that said “Your installation was successful!”, and I got an email that said “Congratulations! Your new WordPress install is completed!”

I also got an email about validating my free SSL certificate (or “cert”). I highly recommend taking this step, as it makes your site more secure and trusted for both you and your visitors. Note that after SSL installation, it will take a while (usually about an hour) to become active.

Domain Pointing

Now, there’s one more step before your site is live on your domain, and that’s updating your domain’s “DNS” (Domain Name Servers). You need to change the “A record” to point to your Bluehost “Shared IP” (found on the left side of your My Bluehost dashboard, under “System”).

Here’s how to change an A record at GoDaddy – the steps vary by registrar, but the idea is the same. If you don’t know how, just Google it!

After you’ve made the change, it will take a little while longer for the domain to update and point to your new site. I recommend waiting about 10 minutes, then rebooting your computer, then try visiting your domain again. If it’s not pointing to the Bluehost/MOJO landing page (the default page for your new site), you may need to wait a while longer, then retry.

WP Login

Now that your domain is pointing to your new blog, you’re almost done. The next step is logging in. Go to yoursite.com/wp-admin. Login with the username/password you used during the install.

Now you’re in your site’s Dashboard.

Enabling SSL

At this point let’s check that your SSL cert is working. Whereas the non-SSL (or insecure) URL of your site is http://yoursite.com, the SSL (or secure) URL of your site is https://yoursite.com – notice the ‘http’ became ‘https’.

Go ahead and try to visit your secure URL.  If the site loads normally, and you see a green “lock” symbol in the address bar next to your URL, it works!

If not, you may need to wait a bit longer and then come back to this. If you’ve waited a few hours to no avail, you might want to contact Bluehost support for further help.

Now that your SSL cert is working, we want to make your WP installation use it. In your site Dashboard, in the left-hand menu, go to Settings > General.

In the “WordPress Address (URL)” and “Site Address (URL)” fields, change the ‘http’ to ‘https’ – i.e. your secure URL. Be sure it’s exactly right before continuing. You might want to copy what’s entered in each field, and visit that URL in your browser, just to verify you’ve got the URL correct and it’s working.

Now, scroll to the bottom and click “Save Changes”. You’ll be redirected to your secure URL, to the Dashboard login screen. Login again.

Tweaking Defaults

At this point I always make a few quick tweaks to the default settings. Via the left menu headings:

  • Settings. Update: Tagline, Timezone.
  • Users > Your Profile. Update: About Yourself > Biographical Info, Profile Picture (uploaded to Gravatar; you’ll create a WordPress.com account here which will be useful both now and via Jetpack in the future).
  • Appearance > Themes. I recommend leaving only the newest theme (i.e. Twenty Seventeen) for now, and deleting older ones (i.e. Twenty Sixteen, Twenty Fifteen). On this very site I’m currently using the base theme – Twenty Seventeen – with minimal tweaks, just to illustrate that you don’t need to get too fancy!
  • Appearance > Customize. Make your theme color selections, et al.
  • Appearance > Widgets. I recommend deleting each of the default Sidebar widgets (unless you like any or all of them!) by clicking each widget and then its Delete link.
  • Plugins. I recommend deactivating all default plugins by clicking the “select all” checkbox at the top of the list, then click Bulk Actions > Deactivate, then Apply. We’re going to replace any useful functionality these plugins may have provided with better plugins in an upcoming step. Lastly, go ahead and delete the Hello Dolly plugin. It’s useless.
  • Pages. Delete “Sample Page” (hover over it to see the Delete link).
  • Posts. Delete “Hello world!”.

Start a Blog… Success!

Congrats… you officially have a blog/website! You’re really getting the hang of this now.

The next thing you should do is add the Must-Have WordPress Plugins. Don’t worry, it’s not too hard and I’ll walk you through it!

Questions? Other ideas? Let me know in the comments below!

Mr. Incomes

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