It is that time again, the time where I write about something that is nothing to do with being in debt. The Random Rob category gets treated to yet another post and I get to write about something new, in this case what you need to start a blog.
Why am I writing about this you may ask? Well, you may be considering setting up your own WordPress blog to discuss your own debt. You may just want to know what is involved, either way this how to guide should help you on your path to starting a blog .
Sometimes I like a break from talking about debt as you can imagine so without further delay let’s begin.
What do you need to start a Blog?
Well you need a Blogging platform and you also need somewhere to host your shiny new Blog. There are a large number of places where you can host a blog for free and I provide some examples of such places below. You also need time to write content for your new blog as well. It is very easy to get up and running and you could be blogging in no time.
Free Blogging Platforms to start a Blog
A good place to host a free blog. The set up of your new blog is easy and you can be up and running in minutes. However if you would like to make money with a blog it is probably not the best place to start. It is still possible though.
Another easy to set up platform for blogging. Blogger is owned by Google and it allows you to customise the theme and a few other bits and pieces as well.
A very easy to use blogging platform but it doesn’t have as many features as the examples listed above. It is a good way to get started but you may be wanting more features after a short amount of time. However for a simple blog to share your thoughts and ideas, you should be more than happy.
Setting up a Self Hosted Blog (One that costs money)
A self hosted blog is one you host and manage yourself. You also have your own unique domain name and can completely customise it to your liking. This is more difficult to set up but once up and running the amount of options available to you means you can do almost anything you need to.
What do you need to start a self hosted blog?
There are a few things you need to get up and running when you decide to start a blog and host it yourself. There is nothing too complicated just a few bits to put together and then you are on your way. Part 1 and Part 2 of the list below are what you require and the rest is optional. If you are running one of the blogs from the free examples listed above then you should already be set.
1. A Domain Name
When you visited my Blog, debtadviceblog.co.uk, I purchased that domain name (debtadviceblog.co.uk) so I can use it all for myself. To get started you should think of a domain name you would like, then see if it is available to register. Sometimes the domain name you would like has already been taken, but if you are lucky it might not have been.
I normally use Whois.com to find and register domain names. You can get to Whois by clicking here. There are lots of places where you can buy and register domains. GoDaddy is another example of company who can do provide these services.
2. A Web Hosting Provider
You need someone to host your blog. I personally use Krystal who are a UK based Web Hosting Company. Most of my visitors come from the UK so it makes sense to host my blog in the UK. I have also used LiquidWeb in the Past and found them to be good as well. LiquidWeb are based in the USA.
A web hosting provider essentially provides you with somewhere for your blog to run from and the tools you need to set up and administer your blog, including e-mail. In fact there are a lot of functions and features available to you in most cases.
Below is a List of Hosting Companies I have used in the past.
LiquidWeb based in the USA
Vidahost Based in the Uk (Enter code DAB10 to save 10%)
In the interest of honesty, the above links are affiliate links which means if you decided to purchase your hosting from one of the above companies, I would earn a commission. I currently use Vidahost and I love them. I moved from LiquidWeb as my website is predominantly a UK site so it made sense to host it in the UK. LiquidWeb were also excellent and it took me a lot of research before I moved to Vidahost who turned out to be equally as good.
As a side note, I have also written a review of Vidahost Cloud Web Hosting. Click here if you would like to find out more about that or carry on reading this post and go back to it later. I don’t mind.
3. Default or Customisable Theme?
I use Woothemes for my WordPress sites. They look good and offer some good customisations. You can of course elect to use a free theme or the default theme, they look quite good. It’s up to you though as it is your blog! A theme is what provides the layout, colours, plugins, text and additional features you might not find on a default installation.
There are also a large number of plugins available for WordPress. A plugin is essentially an add-on to provide extra functionality for your blog. So for example you might have a plugin to enable a contact form or sharing buttons so visitors can share your content through Twitter or Facebook for example. I list a number of the plugins I currently use in WordPress at the end of this post.
4. Finding out who visits your blog?
Ok so now you have got your shiny new blog up and running, how can you see who is visiting it? Not to worry there are ways you can do that. Let’s see how.
Google Analytics can be set up on your blog to track people visiting your blog. It can show you how they found your blog, for example via a web search or referral from twitter. It can also show you how long they visited your site for, how many pages they viewed on your site and even more information than that.
I use Google Analytics on this blog to see how people are finding me and what they are looking for. It also allows me to write better posts to answer some of the searches people have performed. For example, how do I get out of debt.
WordPress Jetpack Plugin
The WordPress Jetpack plugin can also assist in providing visitor information. It can tell you which pages have been viewed, where your users have come from and how they have found you. This is a plugin that you install in WordPress. It doesn’t take long to set up and it also comes with a lot of other features as well.
Your Webhosting Stats
Most webhosts will provide stats for you to view as well. These might not be as accurate as those from Google Analytics for example but they are better than nothing at all. Typically these will be called AWStats but could be called something else depending on which web host you are using. Ask you host if you are not sure, they should be able to tell you.
Google Webmaster Tools
Allows you to see how Google sees your blog. You can see how people are finding your blog, where you are appearing in the search results pages, who is linking to your blog and also be alerted to any issues with your blog. Adding your site to Webmaster tools may also help it get indexed in Google’s search engine.
5. How can you make money with a Blog?
It takes a long time to make any kind of money with a blog and it also takes a lot of hard work. I wouldn’t start a Blog and expect to make any money straight away. I also wouldn’t expect to make masses of money but you can make a nice side income.
It is possible to make lots of money but it takes a lot of time, effort and maybe even a little bit of luck. The main priority is the content of the blog. Any earnings should be viewed as a bonus and the making money part shouldn’t be put ahead of the content quality.
Cost per Click Advertising
I use Google Adsense on this website. The way this works is Google looks at the content I write and then displays ads that should be relevant to that content. So for example if I wrote about a debt management plan, it is likely that adverts for a debt management plan would be displayed. However it doesn’t always turn out that way.
I make a little money with my Debt Advice Blog which covers the cost of hosting the site and its upkeep. It has taken around 6 months to be earning enough to pay the server bills which is a good thing as I am in debt so needed to make this blog cost as little as possible. Thanks Google!
Some Resources for learning about Making Money with a Blog
With that being said, below I list some websites where you can look into how some successful bloggers are making good money with their blogs. These guys are in a much better position than me to explain how they make money, because they make more than I ever will.
The above blogs are the best place to start if you are seriously looking at making some money blogging. There is a lot of useful and helpful information on each site. Just remember that it takes a lot of time and patience.
Some useful WordPress Plugins
I have used a number of WordPress Plugins in the past and here is a list of the ones I have found most useful.
Prevents automated spam comments clogging up your blog. I have found this plugin to be reliable and stop all the garbage comments I was receiving in the past.
I use this plugin to help me with ranking in the search engines. It seems to be working as people can find my site. It also allows me to use the breadcrumb links you might have noticed at the top of this page.
kk Star Ratings
Allows users to rate the posts on my blog out of five stars. It also shows these stars in the Search Engine Results page as well which is cool. You can see this in action at the bottom of this post.
This allows me to create nice looking tables in some of my posts. I mainly use this when I am providing an update of my debt balance as it makes the information easier to read.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
This shows the related posts at the end of a post. It is very good as it actually shows relevant posts. As you know, I write mainly about debt but I do venture into other posts hence the random rob category. You should see related posts at the end of this post, and they most likely won’t be about debt.
I use this plugin to display my Adsense Ads. It can place Adsense ads in many places, within posts at the end of posts at the top of posts. It also has support for other advertising networks as well.
The above plugins can be found in WordPress. Simply click on the Plugins option on the left hand side of the WordPress Screen, click the Add New button and type the name in the search box to find them.
Images for your Blog
I use images for my Blog from FreeDigitalPhotos.net. There is a wide selection and they can be used for free providing you acknowledge them and the creator. You can see how I do this on the pictures I have used on this blog and in this post.
I hope you find the above information about starting a blog useful and I wish you good luck with setting up your blog! I will continually update this post with new information as I discover it. Please feel free to comment with any suggestions of your own below.