Ready to start your first blog? Follow along in our step-by-step tutorial.
In this guide, I’m going to show you how to start a money-making WordPress blog with just a few dollars a month. Blogging is what allowed me to quit my job and work full-time from home working on projects I’m passionate about. It’s truly passive income, meaning it makes money 365 days of the year, without requiring me to be there all the time. It’s allowed me to make a lot of great connections with other bloggers, and professionals in the industry. And it all started with putting up my first blog. And you can do the same by following along in this step-by-step guide.
Click here to get started, then follow along the steps below.
Growing a WordPress blog takes a lot of time and hard work. Why would you want to invest hours and hours of your time to starting a new blog from scratch, then growing it? What’s the point? What’s the end goal?
In 2014, I quit my job as an SEO specialist at a local marketing agency in my city to pursue blogging full-time. I had been there exactly 12 months. The ENTIRE time I was there, I was just dreaming of the day I got to quit my job and work for myself full time.
However, I wanted to work for myself in a specific way. I didn’t want to start a brick and mortar business. That sounded awful from what I heard from other people in those businesses. They require you to show up to work for more than 8 hours per day, you’re unprofitable for the first few years in business, and you’ll literally have no free time to do anything else but work on your business.
For me, that sounded like a nightmare. Worse than being at a comfortable day job where I got to learn SEO everyday.
Instead, I dreamed of a true lifestyle business. One where I could work when and where I wanted to. One that didn’t require me to trade my hours for dollars. And one that could be grown into a large 6 or 7 figure business.
And the best form of that and meets every criteria by building a business around blogging.
I’ve now been blogging full-time for 5 consecutive years. 4/5 of those years, my blogs surpassed $100,000 in earnings.
And because of it, I’m able to work when and where I want. The business makes money whether I’m present or not. And, I’m able to choose projects that I actually want to work on. It’s the ideal business and lifestyle for me.
If you want to build a similar business for yourself, then I put together this step-by-step guide for you on how to get started.
Follow along, and let’s begin your blogging journey!
To start a WordPress blog, there are 2 things you need:
1. A domain name.
2. blog hosting.
If you’re just starting out and want to put up a blog for cheap, then you’ll want to use Bluehost hosting. They offer the cheapest plan, while still offering reliable, fast web hosting. In fact, it’s the hosting company that I used when I built my first few blogs.
It’s easy to use, they offer great technical support, WordPress is free to install, AND you get a free domain name.
Click here to start a blog on WordPress then use the steps below to follow along the next few steps.
The next step is to decide what you want your domain name to be. Your domain name is your web address (ex. RANKXL.COM is my domain name).
When you setup your blog with Bluehost, they give you a free domain. That’s awesome because then you won’t have to go out and purchase it separately, which costs about $10 to $15/year.
Finally, on the next screen, enter in your account details. Make sure you use a valid email address since this is where your login information will be sent.
Under Package Information, select your Account Plan based on how far in advance you want to pay for. The best value is if you pay for 36 months in advance.
I don’t suggest going with the monthly plan because it’s more expensive, and it’s just a hassle to have to remind yourself to pay your hosting bill every single month.
You don’t need the Site Backup or SiteLock Security features.
After that, just enter in your payment details and click Submit at the bottom of the page.
Your domain and hosting are now registered 🙂
Skip the upgrades & special offers
Once you hit submit, you’ll be asked if you want to add any upgrades or special offers. You can just skip them by clicking “no thanks” at the bottom of the screen.
Once you complete the setup process, you will be sent multiple emails. If you don’t see them in your inbox, check your spam folder. It’s important to locate them because your login information is included.
Activate your domain
In one of the welcome emails, you need to activate your domain (if you chose a new one). Simply open the email and click the button inside to complete the activation process.
Choose a password
At the end of your purchase, you’ll be welcomed and asked to choose a password. Just click the “Create your password” button to choose a secure password.
The next step is to install WordPress on your blog. Bluehost makes this step extremely simple and quick.
In the past, you had to go through something called a cpanel in order to install WordPress. It was a little technical, and it confused a lot of people.
It’s not easier than ever.
Once you setup your password, you’ll be taken to a screen that looks like this:
You can choose a theme depending on what you want your site to look like. You can always change themes later so no need to spend days pondering over what’s the best one!
Once you do, you’ll be shown this screen:
And then finally you’ll be taken to this page:
After that, you’re done!
Go to your blog and you’ll see that WordPress has been installed, and you’re ready to go.
You can log into the admin area of your blog anytime using the URL:
From here, you can start writing your first blog post.
But before we do that, we want to do one more thing first.
Some people say design doesn’t matter, but I think design matters A LOT.
People will make a first impression of your blog as soon as they land on it, before they even read a single word.
With WordPress, you have two options:
1. Stay with a free WordPress theme.
2. Buy a premium theme.
If you don’t feel like investing any money into a premium theme, it’s not the end of the world to use a free theme. However, if at all possible, I recommend getting a premium theme.
Premium WordPress themes have better design, cleaner code, more features, and helps you stand out from the sea of other blogs on the internet.
Keep in mind that 90% of successful blogs use a premium theme. It will cost you about $50, but it’s an investment worth making.
On RankXL, I use a custom designed theme to stand out even more. That’s because RankXL is a profitable business that I want to invest more money into. Although I coded it myself, to hire a developer to do it for me, it would have cost me over 5 grand.
I used to have a lot of WordPress themes here from a lot of different companies. But after trying out a bunch of themes, I now only recommend MyThemeShop. Their themes are by far the best in the industry for building a clean, professional looking blog.
Choose the one that you want your blog to look like. There is no “best” theme. All of them are great, the one you choose depends on your preference in design and layout.
There are tens of thousands of WordPress plugins available in the repository. You can download and install any of them on your blog for free.
Some plugins will be based on a user-case situation – for instance if you need a plugin to help you create nice looking tables. However, there are also those that every site should have.
In this section, I’m going to list out some of the most important ones that I like to install for every blog that I start. Each one is free and available in the public repository.
This comes pre-installed on your site when you install WordPress.
A lot of people decide to delete it, but it’s crucial that you keep it installed.
It’s extremely helpful at recognizing spam comments and filtering them out.
Yes, some do slip by once in a while, but it’s intelligent enough to know which ones are NOT spam so that legitimate comments don’t get deleted automatically.
For example, this is what the comments look like on the RankXL blog
In two and a half years, I’ve gotten just over 3000 comments.
500 of those were marked as spam… without me needing to do so.
If I didn’t have Akismet installed, these would all be published in the mix of other comments and it would take me a lot of time (and headaches) to filter them.
I’ve been using this plugin since the time I put up my first WordPress site.
There are a ton of different contact form plugins out there.
This one is reliable, free, and does exactly what it needs to.
It’ll give you cool looking contact forms like this.
All you need to do is configure the settings in your dashboard, and it’ll give you a shortcode to add on your page.
Once you do, you’ll get a slick looking form like this one.
Throughout the years, I’ve never gotten a single breakage or error using this plugin.
Just install it and forget it – exactly what it’s supposed to do.
This plugin is not one that many people know about. But it’s very helpful for security.
All wordpress sites have an admin login page that looks like this:
That makes it very vulnerable since anybody in the world can access your login screen just by adding /wp-admin at the end of your domain.
With this plugin, you have the ability to change the URL to something else of your choosing.
So, for example, you can change it to something like www.blog.com/hidden and nobody would know the URL for your admin login page.
Create “pretty” looking URL’s for your affiliate links.
The reason you would want to use this tool is that sometimes, affiliate links can look strange.
For example: www.blog.com/?aff=”23813″%commission=”50″%
You may not need this right away, but when you start promoting affiliate products, you’ll want to use this plugin to convert strange looking affiliate URL’s to pretty ones.
For instance, if I’m promoting Apple on my site, I can create a nice looking ULR for it like www.rankxl.com/apple.
Another good feature of this plugin is that it gives you stats on how many people are clicking on your link.
So you can start creating links just for the sake of tracking the clicks.
This is one of my favorite WordPress plugins.
There are a lot of different SEO tools out there you can choose from, but Yoast is the one I’ve been using since I put up my first blog.
Not only is it good for SEO, it’s also good for structuring your titles and URL’s.
For example, some themes come built in a weird way, and it’s difficult to change title tags without actually editing the header.php files.
With Yoast, you have an option at the end of each post/page in WordPress.
Editing the Title of the blog post is as easy as editing it in the Yoast editor.
The plugin that increases your site speed a TON. The difference is like night and day.
This is because this plugin creates separate html files of your pages and loads that instead of dynamically generating content from PHP that WordPress uses.
The result? Instant loading pages that are impossible to achieve through WordPress without it.
Using W3 Total Cache + CloudFlare, I increased my site speed by over 300%. You can read the case study here: https://www.rankxl.com/improve-site-speed/
Like I mentioned before, there are a lot of different WordPress plugins you can install on your blog.
The ones I mentioned in this tutorial are the essential plugins that I install for every site I build.
Here are some other plugins that I use for my RankXL blog.
Crayon Syntax Highlighter – I use this for showcasing lines of code on my sites.
Q2W3 Fixed Widget – I use this for fixed widgets that follow you down the page as you’re scrolling.
Redirection – I use this plugin for creating redirects. It’s very simple to use without any breakage.
Simple Page Ordering – I use this for organizing my pages in my wp-admin. I have a lot of pages, and ordering them to my preference allows me to keep related pages together.
And there are a few others that I use, but they are mainly for carrying out a single function that I need.
This depends on a lot of different factors such as how much time you have to spend blogging every week, and how good you are. For example, I’m now able to do this full-time for a living. So I have the ability to work day and night on my blogs.
Building a blog should be seen as a long-term goal. Think months and years. Not days and weeks.
On average, it will take you about a year or longer to grow the blog large enough where it can replace your full-time job. Yes, it can be achieved much faster but this time period is what you should expect when you get started.
It’s more competitive now than ever. More and more people are trying to build a blog and grow to the point where they can do it full-time. That being said, the market is never too competitive. People are still starting blogs today in some of the most crowded industries like health and finance and making a killing with brand new blogs.
It’s the people who don’t even give it a try who fail. There are a surprisingly large number of people who work hard at building their blogs and end up making a ton of money.
Furthermore, it’s not as competitive as you might think it is. Most people give up on their blogs in the first 12 months. A large percentage of them were actually on the right track, but they gave up because they either got impatient or lost interest. While it may seem crowded based on how many people are INTERESTED in blogging, there is still a lot of room at the top.
If you need any assistance in setting up your blog on WordPress, you can get in touch with me here and I’ll be happy to help you out.
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