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I've been blogging since 2012. First, it was about personal finance, but now my writing is more focused on thinking creatively to generate more income so you can spend more time doing the things you want to do, and less time doing what you have to do. It's not about getting rich, it's about financial stability. For those who want to make more money, blogging is a fast, easy and creatively fulfilling way to make more income. Here's how to start a blog side hustle step by step.
In the first 3 years I ran this blog I made over $50,000 off my blog, and in year four I was able to leave my full-time job and make over in marketing to come run this blog as my full time gig. I'm so incredibly grateful for this journey life has taken me on, and now I make more money than I ever did working for someone else. (See my latest online income report, here.)
But the most important part of having a money making blog and thriving digital business is the “digital” aspect of it, which means having reliable technology partners and a great blog hosting service. HostGator is the new hosting provider I'm recommending because they offer great service at super affordable prices for those who want to get started blogging or making money online.
Want to blog but don't know where to start?
Take the FREE email course, Blog Idea Brainstorm: 5 Days to Your Big Blog Idea.
Click here to get your own self-hosted blog with HostGator for just $3.95 per month, and then come back here for step-by-step set-up plus my tips for creating an effective, money making brand that fulfills you creatively. You can cancel your hosting with HostGator at any time.
What Do You Want to Do?
In fact, starting a blog is the solution to (nearly) every desire you might be having.
And I'm not just saying this because I earn good money online, investing a few hours each week, but I sincerely believe (and this may be the writer in me coming out) that everyone has a story or interest to share that can be furthered by the art–yes, art– of blogging.
And when your passions collide with potential income….things get very exciting.
It's time to take your share of the pie and I'm going to show you exactly how to do it.
How to Start a Blog in Four Steps
Step #1 – Hone in on your brand
Whether you want to start a blog as a creative outlet, or start a small side business and use the site's blog to drive traffic and generate sales, it's important to figure out your branding early on. This also helps because once you have a great name, then you can get your free domain that HostGator offers with every purchase.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What does my brand stand for?
- Who will this blog/business appeal to?
- What colors do I want to use?
- What can I do to authentically make this brand stand out?
Once you've answered those questions, come up with a creative name. Growing up I'd always been called LB (my most favorite nickname) but I changed it to “L Bee” because it looked more symmetrical in the header. I kept saying it over and over and it had a nice ring to it, so I picked it and it stuck.
Some people love it; reporters hate it, and I get a lot of search traffic from people spelling “LB and the Money Tree.” So, if I had to do it differently, I'm not sure how it would go, but it's turned out alright.
The entire point of that story is to advise you to spend a lot of time thoughtfully thinking through what you want to call your blog and eventual business.
Step #2 – Buy a domain name and hosting package
If the thought of all the technology involved in running a living, breathing website is what's kept you from starting up your own blog side hustle, let me show you how brainless it can be.
Seriously, don't get tempted into letting a consultant do it for you or paying hundreds of dollars for a designer and a slick site. There are tons of options out there for you, and none of what I'm about to show you is difficult.
Four years ago I knew nothing about how the internet worked (other than being a daily user) And this was back when few tutorials existed or before blogging became as common as it is today. So trust me! If I can do it, you can do it.
Also- for those of you who want to build a side hustle on the cheap — nothing that was worth building ever came free. Which is why I advise against you setting up a free blog on Tumblr or some other whatnot.
Yes, you can get a WordPress blog for free and even set up the domain name so it looks like you're “self hosted” (That's an industry term), but you won't be able to run ads, will look like an amateur to big name sponsors, and will have less creative control over what the site looks like. TRUST ME.
Become a self hosted blogger (you can even throw that term around at dinner parties and people will think you're cool) by investing in yourself and side hustle and springing for your own domain and hosting.
I've had my ups and downs with hosting providers, but HostGator has definitely come out on top. They offer super low pricing ($2.43 per month using my sign up link) and unparalleled customer support.
Step #2a – Buy with HostGator
Wanna know a secret? I actually have several websites and some are with GoDaddy and other smaller competitors, but HostGator is my go-to. (GoDaddy even gave me a bike once).Even though I use a more expensive provider with a dedicated server for L Bee and the Money Tree (because of the traffic) I do use HostGator for some of my other, smaller sites, which is why I think they're a great fit for those who want an easy and affordable option for getting started.
Okay, so get a website with HostGator. Start here. Don't worry, you can cancel at any time!
2a.) Select Your Plan
Get the Hatchling Plan (cute!) so you can get the free domain. Also! You should blog for about a year in order to really start seeing some $$$, which is why I recommend people do it as a side hustle or creative endeavor first rather than trying to start a “blog as a business.”
2b.) Type in the domain name you decided on in step #1. Try to get a domain name as close to your blog name as possible.
2c.) Enter in your info and select your hosting plans
Get at least a year. Blogging isn't a “get rich quick” scheme, but if you put in the time and effort, you can create something that will make you great money on the side for YEARS. I've made close to $50,000 from my blog (or an average of $1,000 per month) for little work each week, doing something I really love and enjoy. I love every aspect of being a blogger, so I encourage you to get at least the one year plan.
But of course, the more months you buy the cheaper it gets, so keep that in mind too!
When you reach the billing info, make sure to enter coupon code “[your affiliate code]”. If you go to HostGator by clicking my affiliate link here, you’ll receive an extra 20% off! Score!
And if you're considering having your blog become a significant part of your life, consider HostGator's Domain Privacy Protection. It will make sure that your information as the domain owner isn't shared with others by replacing that information with HostGator's info.
Step #3 – Set Up Your Website with WordPress
Let's just make this simple: You're going to install a WordPress website.
Me (and just about every other person on the planet) LOVES WordPress. It's so stinking simple to use and intuitive and it comes with great plugins so you can create a really powerful, interactive website. People who don't understand WordPress think my site looks really impressive, but really it's just a drag and drop theme/framework that I can move around to my liking, and WordPress makes that all possible.
Really, WordPress is the industry standard for bloggers. I've used other platforms to blog for my business clients and they're hard to manage, understand, and optimize for SEO.
Just trust me, you want WordPress.
If you go with HostGator you can easily install WordPress to your domain name.You can follow along with this video, or follow the steps I outline below:
- When you completed your purchase, you should have received an email from HostGator with your cPanel username and password. cPanel is the portal you’ll use to manage your web hosting. The cPanel link is unique to you, so be sure to bookmark it for future reference.Log into cPanel and click on the Quick Install icon.
See it? Click on it.
Then this screen comes up and you should click on “WordPress” (labelled as 1 in the pic) and then “Install WordPress” (2)
- Enter in your information such as “Username” and “Password” and be SURE to write this down as this is how you will log in to your website.
- You'll receive a log in link in a separate email. Save that info as well.
In order, here's how you should fill this form out:
1. The Base Domain for your installation.
2. The sub directory you would like the site to load from, if desired. You can totally leave this blank, but maybe you want your WordPress URL to be mydomain.com/site instead of just mydomain.com. In that case, your site will always display this extension (if you enter one).
3. For Admin Email, enter an email address where you want the admin password emailed to. Make sure this is a working email address!
4. For Blog Title, enter the name of the website. This is what will appear in the header as the name of your site.
5. For Admin Username, enter your preferred user name.
6. Your first name.
7. Your last name.
8. Hit the “Install” WordPress Button
A progress bar at the top of the page will let you know when installation is complete. Once complete, you will be able to start working on your WordPress site. Check your email for your WordPress username and password as well as a link to your WordPress dashboard.
You can either pick a free WordPress theme (just hit the “themes” button in your wordpress dashboard) or buy your own and customize it. I like Creative Market and Bluchic. You'll purchase a theme and they'll give you a zip file which you can easily upload in the “Themes” tab of the dashboard as well.
How to Start a Blog Side Hustle -You MUST Create Good Content
You can click on “Posts” in your WordPress Dashboard and Click “Add New” and start typing away. But I recommend you be a little bit more strategic than that.
I tell my blog coaching clients all the time how important it is to get on a content calendar. What is a content calendar? It's basically a schedule of what post you're going to write and when you're going to publish it, with notes about any additional resources you need (interviews or pins for Pinterest.)
I recommend getting on a set process for organizing your blog's content because a) this is so helpful when you're launching or entering a busy season at home or at work and b) because you can always write whenever and schedule it for later. Set up an account on Trello (also free!) and do your content calendar like I do, or a simple pen and paper or word doc will suffice. Like me, all my coaching clients quickly become trello addicts.
5.) Promote the heck out of that content.
You can download my FREE side hustle worksheet here, which details how to get your first paying clients (if you're purely blogging as a complement to your side hustle business, and every business needs a blog!)
But for those of you who want the blog itself to produce income:
More eyeballs = more traffic = more paid sponsorship and brand partnership opportunities.
Very few of those exist without a solid following, which takes time to build but can easily be done.
I cover a lot of it in my new course, Beginner Blog Accelerator, but here are some of my favorite plugins and resources that help me promote LBMT on the daily. Most of these are 100% FREE.
- Akismet (for filtering Spam)
- Autoptimize & WP Smush (for condensing site load time)
- Disqus (For Comments)
- SumoMe (for sharing, getting email subscribers and basically everything but the kitchen sink)
- Mailchimp to deliver my weekly newsletter
- Yoast (for SEO)
- Color Boxes for my content freebie signups
- Tweet This to embed tweetables in my posts.
Still on the fence about using HostGator? Here are my favorite reasons:
- Super inexpensive to get started
- Easy WordPress install – you can be “up and running” with your wordpress blog in just a matter of minutes!
- 24/7 Tech Support
- Super responsive billing and admin team
- Can cancel at anytime (in case your blog side hustle doesn't work out…)
- It can grow along with you as your blog grows, is a HUGE plus for me.