Start a Blog
7 Easy Steps to Create a Profitable Blog
Why Start A Blog?
Eight years ago, I began my journey as a veterinary technician in a small animal clinic in Maryland…
That’s 15 year-old me… full of potential, energy, and passion for animals. Not to mention I was wearing WHITE scrub pants while working. Go me. And cuddling with a boa. I guess I’ll never be as brave as I was back then.
Fast forward to 23. I am now in a specialty internal medicine clinic where we get to play with the big, expensive equipment, which I love. But eight years of exploring my passion for animals has certainly taken a toll on me. The technicians that have been around for 15+ years are the true heroes of veterinary medicine, because I am worn out.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but damn.
It is just that the years of poop-scrubbing and heavy lifting, vein-finding and dog wrestling have ruined my knees, my eyes, and my heart. I still have a passion for animals and a love for all of the medical advances that have improved their lives significantly, but recently, the cons of my work began to outweigh the pros. My back hurts on the daily, my knees would creak when I was driving home after a 10+ hour shift, and my heart hurt for those who cannot afford to care for their pet’s newly-diagnosed disease. This was all made worse by the fact that despite the significant impact
technicians all veterinary staff have on our patients, veterinary technicians are some of the most underpaid employees in the United States.
While I’d been chasing money trying to work at something I loved, I had begun neglecting my other passions and hobbies, and that propelled my exhaustion to end-stage burn out. My hobbies began to feel more like chores, and I didn’t have the energy to keep up. Work eventually became somewhere that I no longer enjoyed coming to, but a place I had to go to.
But what else could I do? My technical skills were the only “workplace” skills I had. I had only worked in veterinary hospitals. I had opted to not go to college with the rest of my graduating high-school class because I was young and dumb and never expected to get to this point in my life. (Maybe once, just once, when I was in high school it possibly occurred to me that I could potentially have a mid-life crisis in my 50’s where I’d like to change careers, but 50 was so far away that it didn’t matter.) Now I’m only 23, and I was out of energy, out of money, and out of options. I felt stuck.
Then I discovered blogging.
One day I was traveling along the never-ending Pinterest vortex that we’ve all been sucked into, and came across something that read “How I made $XXXXX.XX per month by blogging”. Pfttt. When I first read through it, I scoffed and complained to myself about how all these privileged kids my age were becoming successful and making things look so easy. But the more I researched (I’m a sucker for “get rich quick” schemes), the more I realized that with some hard work, success could actually be obtained. It seemed that with some solid quality time with my keyboard, I could invest a good chunk of my time blogging, and over time, my actual “work time” could decrease, while the payoff from my initial time investment would increase. Checking out the income reports of successful blogs like Create & Go and WorldNate, I realized that this was something I could actually do…for a living! Say whaaaaaa?
Spoiler Alert: Blogging is not a “Get rich quick scheme”, but the payoff is worth the work!
It finally clicked for me that I COULD MAKE GOOD MONEY BY BLOGGING ABOUT THE THINGS I LOVE. I wrote my first article (mostly as a test) after taking a trip to Disney, and although it was my least popular post, I learned that I truly enjoyed writing. I could definitely write and give people advice and information about things I enjoyed talking about! Since then,I have made a solid chunk of change by writing various posts, and it is safe to say that I am in love. I am starting to get back to what truly matters to me and I am learning live a fulfilling life that I am not bound to by working a 40+ hour workweek in a job that was slowly killing me. I can hike, kayak, chill with my own pets, and create in my increasing “down time”, as I am finally creating the life I have craved for so long.
I’m sure that my story is similar to yours. At least the parts where you are economically bound to a mediocre job are looking for ways to defeat this deadly trap in what they call a part of “The American Dream”. On average, Americans work 47 hours per week sleep 49 hours of the week, and the other ~42% of the week is dedicated to errands, cleaning, eating, pooping, chores, and anything else that needs to be done. Somewhere in there, relaxation gets thrown in.
Don’t you deserve better?
That’s why I am here to share with you the way I have kick-started my way to success – to becoming my own boss, cutting down my work time, and talking about things I love. Below, I have outlined some very simple steps to start your own blog, so that you can take your fate into your own hands:
Step 1: Pick a Niche
First, creating a successful blog is not just about coding a rad-looking website and writing about all the random things that you know. The most important thing to do when you first begin blogging is to come up with a specialized topic that you would like to have as your theme or “niche” for your website. It is so important that the majority of your first posts can somehow relate to each other. This way, you can establish your presence in a community and gather a following. These are the people that will continue to return to your site, and in time, you can broaden your range of topics. Try picking a topic that you love, and breaking that topic down into 3-5 subtopics. This will give you bite-sized categories you can delve into, while keeping other posts relevant.
Step 2: Write, Write, Write!
Now that you know what you’re going to blog about, the next step to becoming a successful blogger is to write some kick-butt, quality content that your readers are going to eat up! This step is so important, because this is going to be solid proof that you KNOW what you’re talkin’ ‘bout! An empty blog is a sad blog, so write some quality pieces that will be showcased on the front page. This will help keep readers on your page, as they will have plenty of other content to read, and make it more likely that they will return as well.
Step 3: Pick a Blog Name & Register Your Domain
This step can be a little tricky. Picking the perfect blog name should not be something you spend weeks deciding on, but it should certainly reflect you and what your blog is about. For example, this blog is called “Life’s Little Random Handbook”. The topics that I write about fall under a the “DIY” umbrella, but because my sub-topics are so varied (i.e. wedding planning, travel, and money-generating), I felt like “Life’s Little Random Handbook” was the perfect name. But I definitely agonized over it for a day or two! Once you’ve picked out the perfect name, check to ensure that your domain name is available.
What is a domain?
A domain name is the website address that users will type in when they would like to visit you website. For example, Facebook’s domain name is www.facebook.com.
Picking a good domain..
If you’re having trouble deciding on a name, make sure that you are not overly-complicating it. In the grand scheme of things, your domain matters very little; your kick-butt, quality content is what’s most important! Use the handy domain-checker below once you brainstorm a few ideas to see if the one you’d like is available.
How do I get a domain name?
To own your own domain name, you will have to get it from a registrar, and anyone wanting to own their own domain name will have to purchase it. One of the most widely recognized registrars is godaddy.com, although there are so many registrars, that this process can easily becoming overwhelming. This is why I am here to help! One of the easiest ways to purchase your domain name is to obtain it at the same time you are setting up your host-site. You can do this for free through a blogger-favorite hosting site, Bluehost. Bluehost offers a free domain name for anyone signing up for a 12-month subscription to their service. This is fantastic, since we’re all a bunch of broke chumps looking to make some money with our blog, amiright? This leads us into our next step:
Step 4: Start up with BlueHost
So, what are we even talking about? What is hosting, exactly?
A host is a server that will run your website. Most bloggers like BlueHost because it is simple, and allows you to get a domain from the hosting company itself, making everything a billion times easier. Trust.
Every domain needs a server to run from. Without a host, you website has nowhere to exist and run! One of the most common mistakes that bloggers make when they first start out is self-hosting a free blog. This is a bad idea because:
A. Self-hosted blogs tend to run very slowly and often crash when there is too much activity.
B. Customization is very limited.
C. Your website will look sloppy, especially when it comes to attempting to monetize it (which you can’t really do anyways).
This is why I, and many other bloggers recommend signing up with BlueHost. Again, they offer a free domain when you sign up!
So let’s get your domain and hosting set-up!
First, go to BlueHost.com if you haven’t already.
Click the “Get Started” button above and then on the home screen. This will take you to a list of pricing options.
Select the “Basic” Package. You can always upgrade later, but just starting out, you will only need the basics. Get this: as a special offer to you guys, I have teamed up with Bluehost to get you all a discounted rate!
Enter your domain name and create your account
Choose your plan
Opting for a longer-term plan will be slightly more expensive up front. But you will reap the rewards in the long run. If you are feeling a little apprehensive about investing money into something you aren’t sure is going to work for you…
Bluehost does not lock you into a contract. This means that after 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years – 7 months- and three days you decide that blogging isn’t your “thing”, then you can cancel your plan!
With any start-up business, it takes money to make money. If your blog is going to be your business, how is it any different? Through this process you are buying the ability to use BlueHost’s fantastic servers with a FREE domain!
Bluehost will recommend many add-ons for your package subscription. However, the only add-on I recommend is the domain privacy protection for $0.99/month. Keep in mind that you can always add on another domain name for $10 later on down the road as well!
LET ME TELL YOU THAT I DID NOT OPT INTO THIS AND THIS WAS PROBABLY THE BIGGEST MISTAKE THAT I’VE MADE WHILE BLOGGING THUS FAR!
I have dozens of emails and phone calls per week, and some of the info they leave is so specific, it’s scary! Please please please do not opt out of this!!
Make sure that the payment information is entered, then click “Submit”.
Congratulations! You are the owner of a brand-spankin’ new website! How’s it feel? *insert virtual pat on the back here*
Step 5: Set Up WordPress on Your Site
Log into your BlueHost Account, and locate the “Install WordPress” button. Each dashboard is slightly different, however it should look similar to this:
ON the WordPress installation screen, click “Install WordPress”.
On the following screen, click “Install”, then click on the “Show Advanced Options”.
This will prompt you to create your log-in information for WordPress (where you will be doing your writing).
Then click “Install Now”. Bluehost will take care of the rest of the installation process, and when it is complete, it will take you to a screen that looks like this:
DO NOT EXIT OUT OF THIS SCREEN.
Save the information on display, and now you’ll be able to log into your WordPress account. Rad!
Now open up your login url in your browser and sign into your WordPress account. Now we can do the creative stuff like picking a theme and customizing the blog!
I can tell you that this is probably the hardest part of this whole process, as there is definitely a learning curve for this program. As a veterinary technician by trade. I spend most of my time with animals both inside and outside of work, and most of the time i am outside if the weather allows. (If you don’t a;ready know, Maryland can have all four seasons in one week!) This being said, it took a few weeks before I really became comfortable with navigating my site and making everything look good. But you can bet I was dang proud of myself once I figured it out! Definitely keep at it. I recommend going down each tab in order while you’re customizing. Do this in your dashboard too. This way you learn what each button does and you don’t miss anything that can make your blog its absolute best. Then, when the time comes to monetize your blog, the pages will look vaguely familiar to you. WordPress will help you get started by prompting you when you first log in. A helping hand can never hurt when it comes to your business!
Eventually, you will come across your dashboard that will look similar to this:
If for some reason you skipped a step, there is a nice little button at the top of your dashboard that you can click to set up your WordPress account.
Click “appearances” and “themes”. Now you can start building your blog, for reals.
Step 6: Get a Theme For Your Site
You can either use a free theme or you can purchase a WordPress theme.
Free themes will allow users to get used to the platform without a huge initial investment, however they will lack some of the tools and customization that a paid theme will allow. The paid themes will have free support if you ever need to reach out to them. There is no right or wrong when it comes to free versus paid themes, however knowing your limitations may encourage you to splurge a little on a nice theme that will set you apart.
Step 7: Add Plug-ins, Gain Traffic, & Monetize Your Blog
You’re probably worn out at this point, and no wonder! You’re a powerful, one man/woman show that just started their own business through a blog! Once you get sorted out and play on your blog for a while, be sure to check back for tips on getting traffic to your blog, and how to monetize it. *Links coming soon!*
Peace out, cub scout!
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