Quit Your Day Job: How to Start a Blog

Yup! I work from home and it all began when we started a blog. How can you make money online and possibly quit your day job? Find out inside!As most of you know by now, I quit my job to pursue blogging and freelance writing full-time.  Now, I’m making more money than I ever could have at my old job. As someone who is not tech-savvy at all, I think this is absolutely nuts.  I probably hate technology and computers more than most people on Earth.  I’ve also been known to go bat shit crazy when my computer is running slow or my website is acting funny.  But still, I make it work.  How?  Because starting and running a blog is easy.

People email me all the time asking how they should get started.  And to be honest, it’s hard to explain all of the detailed steps in an email.  So, instead of creating a generic email response, I decided to write this post.  If you’re thinking of creating a website and don’t know how to get started, use this page as a step-by-step guide toward blogging awesomeness.

(FYI: This post contains multiple affiliate links. So, if you click on a link and make a purchase, we do receive a small commission. Thanks!)

1) Name Your Blog

So, the first thing that you need to do is to choose a domain name for your site. There are many different theories to choosing website names. You can choose anything from your own name (ie: hollyjohnson.com) to search engine friendly terms (ie: makemoney.com). We decided to create our own brand, Club Thrifty. Our brand name is flexible enough that we were able to start the blog as a frugality blog and later branch out into other areas of personal finance – like travel and lifestyle.  Whatever you do, choose something you like.  Whether it’s eccentricporksword.com or twilightfansunite.com, make sure that your new domain name is amazing.

2) Register Your Domain

GoDaddyOnce you have batted around some ideas about names, you need to make sure that the domain names you selected are available. Better yet, check on those names WHILE you are batting them around. Nothing sucks worse than spending 4 days coming up with the perfect domain name only to realize that it has already been purchased by someone else! All you have to do is head over to GoDaddy, type in your potential domain name, and hit search. It will show you whether or not your domain is available, and you can purchase it from them immediately. We like to use GoDaddy to buy our domain names because they are cheap. Typically, domain names are sold for as little as $12 a year there. Better yet, new customers can get their own GoDaddy domain for as little as $5.99.

Editor’s Note: I also like to buy domain names as an investment.  Does anyone else do that?

You can also find places that will give you a domain name for free.  However, it may be something like clubthrifty.wordpress.com or ilovecookies.wordpress.com.  Honestly, you know how cheap we can be, and even we think you should bite the bullet and buy your own domain name – especially if you want to make some money so you can quit your day job. Seriously, even if you are doing it as a hobby, buy your domain name. It makes you look more professional, you’ll fare better for search results, and you’ll have a much better chance at growing your blog. How much do you spend a month on your other hobbies? Less than $20 a month can get you by for blogging. Better yet, this hobby could actually make you money!

3) Find a Host

HostGatorSo, now that you have the world’s greatest domain name, you need to find a host for your blog. There are several different companies that provide hosting services. Two of the most popular hosting companies are HostGator and Bluehost. In the past, we have always used HostGator to host our blogs. We were fairly pleased with HostGator’s customer service for a long time, and it is hard to beat their pricing. Furthermore, we love that HostGator makes it so simple to integrate your website with WordPress, which we’ll talk about later. Their hosting plans start at $3.96/month. We used their middle of the road package which cost us $9.95/month. We also wanted our website to have its own unique IP address, so we paid an additional $2/month for that.

However, as our blog has grown, we’ve found that we need some different things out of our hosting company, including faster speed. We recently changed hosting companies, and now all of our websites are with Big Scoots. So far, we have found them to have extremely low downtime, increased website speed, and their customer service is top notch.

So, including our domain registration and hosting, we pay approximately $13/month to run our website. And, if you decide to sign up for HostGator using the coupon code “clubthrifty” you’ll get an additional 25% off of your purchase. Not bad, eh?

4) Connect Your Domain and Host

Now that you have a domain name and a host, we need to get them talking to each other. This is done through the use of domain name servers, or DNS for short. I don’t want to bog you down with all of the technical names and details, but it is easier than it sounds. Let’s think of creating your website in terms of building a new house. The DNS is like a zip code and your domain name as an address. Essentially, you’ll need to change your DNS at GoDaddy so that your websites address gets put in the right zip code (at HostGator or Bluehost).

You should get a welcome email from your new host that provides you with your new DNS. It will read something like this: “Nameserver1: hostgator1, Nameserver2: hostgator2). You will need to add these to your account at GoDaddy. To change your DNS with a GoDaddy domain name:

  1. Go to GoDaddy.com
  2. Log in to your Account Manager.
  3. Next to Domains, click Launch.
  4. Select the domain name(s) you want to modify.
  5. From the Nameservers menu, select Manage.
  6. Under Setup type, select Standard.
  7. Click Save.

5) Build Your Site

ProseBooyah! You’ve got both an address and a zip code that are communicating. Now all you need is a “lot” to build upon. For this, I suggest that you use WordPress. Hostgator makes creating a WordPress site super easy. Just go to your CPanel page, scroll to the “Software/Services” section, and click on QuickInstall. From there, click on the WordPress link in the “Blog Software” section and hit continue. Simply fill in the fields and shazam! You’ve installed WordPress!

WordPress provides a ton of options for customizing the look and feel of your site. There are hundreds of templates that allow you to create the site that you want. Many of them are offered for free at the WordPress site. To browse free themes, simply click on “Appearance” and “Themes” in the sidebar of your WordPress dashboard.

However, once you have WordPress installed, you may wish to buy a custom site template. Honestly, this is something we wish we would have done WAAAAAAY sooner. The look, feel, and speed of our site became much more professional when we made the switch to the Genesis framework from Studiopress by Copyblogger. Think of WordPress as the lot, Genesis as the brick and mortar of the house, and your child theme as the paint and decoration of your site.

For a one time fee of about $85 we were able to get a professional framework and custom theme…and it was WELL worth it. Still, it took days to get the site looking the way we wanted it after we made the switch. Had we started with this right away, it would have saved us oodles of hours because we wouldn’t have had to “create” the site twice. Plus, we started to get more visitors after the switch because the page was nicer to look at and easier to navigate. Furthermore, once you buy the framework and theme you can use it on multiple sites! Not bad, huh?

Better yet, don’t waste your time and energy building all of this yourself. Let us help you design your new website! Our other company, Epic Reach Media, offers basic WordPress site designs for extremely low prices. Contact us to design your website today! That way, you can save your time and energy for creating great content. Speaking of which…

6) Write stuff.

Complain about your neighbors.  Post pictures of your pet gerbil.  Start an online diary about your Star Wars figurine collection.  Who cares?  The blog is now yours to mold into whatever you want it to be.

If your stick with it and write engaging content, you will start to attract visitors. People will actually come to your website to read the words that you are writing! How cool is that? Keep plugging away, and you just may be able to make a little dough and quit your day job. We did. In fact, we’ve made blogging a full-time job, making over 6 figures a year! Pretty good for a couple of nerds who knew nothing about blogging when we started, right?

So, there it is – all you need to know about starting your own blog! Remember, we are here to help. If you’d like assistance designing your new website, don’t forget to contact us at greg (at) epic reach media (dot) com (no spaces) or fill in our contact form by following the link above! Good luck, and happy blogging!

Comments

  1. says

    I go back and forth on whether I would recommend that people start immediately with a self-hosted setup or just get started with blogger or wordpress. It depends what your initial goals are, but if you’re simply interested in blogging and don’t really have plans for making money yet I actually think I lean towards the latter, with the condition that you decide relatively quickly whether blogging is something you’ll actually keep up and if so, make the switch within a couple of months. I know that when I started blogging I just wanted to write. Dealing with the setup required with a self-hosted site would have frustrated the shit out of me. After a few months I knew that I wanted to stick with it so figuring out the technical side of self-hosted was worth it to me. I could see the arguments from the other side too though.

    • says

      I’m with Matt! Even though after I made the switch I thought, “What the heck took me so long to do this?” I don’t know if I ever would have started if I was staring down self-hosted. It would have been too daunting for me as a newb. That being said, you covered everything really well for those ready to jump in!!!

    • says

      I agree, I don’t think I ever would’ve started blogging if I had to figure out all of this self-hosted stuff. On the flip side, now that I have started blogging, I’m much more interested in trying to make sense of it… although the whole self-hosting side of things is still pretty daunting. I can’t figure out if it’s more daunting than the prospect of trying to switch over my whole site at some point to somewhere else though.

      • says

        Yea as you have aluded to, the thing with that is, if you start on blogger or wordpress, it is then harder to move everything over at a later date.

        I would recommend to just bite the bullet and go self hosted from the offset, it really is no more difficult than the guide Holly has written above, and is pretty cheap. I think with a small financial investment you are also more likely to keep it up.

  2. says

    Hey Holly,
    This is a good post who wants to start a blog. It is a very detailed guide for newbies. I have been slowly learning the technical part of setting up a blog and maintaining it. It is fun when you start involving in it

  3. says

    I am addicted to thinking up domain names but the only ones I’ve purchased have been for legit sites (some that never made it out of the idea phase) and then for my kid’s names. Someone let taynia.com expire a couple weeks ago, so I scooped it up. Made my day.

  4. says

    Love the straightforward tips. Honestly I knew I loved blogging before I even started Young Adult Money but now I’m completely hooked. Especially once you are able to monetize and start to see money come in, there’s no going back!

  5. says

    Great post mate. I’ve just sent it off to a mate of mine who wants to start blogging and is not too sure where to begin. I think you make some excellent points in this post and I’m sure it will motivate him to take the next step, setting everything up.

  6. says

    Awesome post! :) I wish I would have known to start off with a self hosted site. I started a new blog after about 2 years of blogging and it’s hard to build back up again, but I’m getting there! (Hopefully 😉 )

  7. says

    Nice outline to starting a blog. I would argue that you need the writing skills more than the technical skills. You also have to have some passion and the ability to stick with it when you have no visitors or income until you are able to grow.

  8. says

    I am probably the least technical person on the planet, but I would still say go with self hosted from the beginning. There are literally tons of YouTube videos that can show you the most simple things and when you make some contacts, people are usually nice enough to help you out. I still don’t know lots of stuff, but that’s not a good reason not to get started.

  9. says

    I think this is great info I can pass on to friends who may want to start their own blog. I think in a addition to this one, there needs to be a follow up post on how to have a “successful” blog. That’s a multi step process for sure! :)

    • says

      I haven’t sold any yet. I just buy domains that I think I might want in the future or I think I could resell at a later date. I have some pretty good ones!

  10. says

    Great tips, Holly. I echo the others on wanting a followup on how to build it into a successful blog. Anyone can create a blog but far fewer can create and sustain a successful blog. You and Greg have certainly do that and I’d love to hear you thoughts on how and why you think it worked so well. Have a great weekend!

  11. says

    I just helped a friend start a blog and for $99 with WordPress you can get a domain, hosting, and all the perks for 1-yr. It was amazingly easy as they do all the work – you can literally have your blog up and running within 15 minutes with your own domain. Pretty cool for those that are completely computer illiterate.

    Also, I love buying and reselling domains! I recently sold CouponFinders.com for a pretty penny to a UK company.

  12. says

    Great write-up Holly! Step one of the process is really critical. People need to spend a great deal of time coming up with the name for the blog as it really defines what you are about and will help attract readers. Sometimes I think I goofed in naming my blog something nondescript. In the long run I think it will take more work to build a brand with it and attract readers.

  13. says

    I constantly check domain names. If I think I have a good, unique idea I check it but it’s usually already used up. I am wanting to start a new non pf blog but all of my great ideas have been taken. I want to take my time. There’s nothing worse than putting in a bunch of time to create a blog with a bad domain name. I’ve been there before!

  14. says

    But I like my day job :(

    Otherwise, thanks! Would have been amazing to find this as I was starting out, but there’s still a ton I can use. Will also pass along this link when new folks ask

  15. says

    Simple enough, however a great deal of thought goes into every step. For example, I decided to have someone program my site. For a few hundred dollars I have exactly what I wanted.

  16. says

    Holly, we hired someone to do all of this and just walk us through it, but what a helpful resource. It’s promising to hear that you’re not tech-savvy because neither am I, but I love writing and blogging!

  17. says

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  18. says

    Nice thorough post, Holly. You’ve covered all of the basics. I think too it’s important to consider the purpose of your blog too, from the beginning. If you’re just looking to write, you don’t have to know too much, but for those starting a blog for the purpose of monetizing, there’s lots to know in order to increase page rank quickly, etc.

  19. says

    We’ve been at the blog thing for about a month, and I have to say it is far more work than I anticipated. I’m someone with a lot of good ideas and decent writing skills, but the technical parts annoy me. A few people have mentioned that all the answers can be found on youtube, which is true. You still need the time to go through it, and sift through all the stuff that doesn’t exactly answer your question.

    However, now that I’ve done it once, I feel like I could create 4 more blogs in about :30 minutes. If only I had the time to write them all…

  20. says

    The one caveat I would add is that switching domain names is a HUGE pain. Not just coming up with the new name and setting things up a second time around, but having to put in place all the redirects so you don’t lose all the traffic you have already, or get penalized by Google for duplicate content. Avoid it if at all possible!

  21. says

    Great outline Holly! I’d love to give up my day job (not that I hate it or anything) to focus more on blogging and writing. Like Moneystepper, I’d love to see how you’ve grown your blog too!

  22. says

    I am happy for you that you made it through blogging. Your experience and journey of quitting your jobs is every part time bloggers dream.
    Great outline Holly! I’d love to give up my day job (not that I hate it or anything) to focus more on blogging and writing. Like Moneystepper, I’d love to see how you’ve grown your blog too!

  23. Elizabeth S. says

    I recently listened to a podcast with Gary Vaynerchuk and he thought having your name was the best url. Do you have any suggestions for what to do if your name is already taken? I even looked at my maiden name :/ Maybe my husband and I just need to change our names?? haha

    • says

      I’ve heard people say that before too.

      Hmmm….I don’t know. My name is Holly Johnson and that site belongs to some light rock singer in the UK, so that idea was out for me too =)

      I would just pick something catchy that is easy for people to remember! And, if you see a domain you like is available, buy it. If you wait too long, it will be gone!

  24. says

    Awesome guide on how to start a blog! For some of us it’s just simple and easy but for someone who has never done it before it can be rather tricky. I mean, when I first tried changing the DNS so my site would work, I was there for hours…

    Sending this post to some friends who might be interested!

  25. Craing says

    I love it how all PF bloggers have such a “create your own site” post full with affiliate links as a way to make money.. hahha

  26. Lisa says

    Hi Holly,
    A while ago, you posted about how to become a freelance writer as sort of an offshoot from blogging.
    have a degree in English and writing is one of my talents. I am looking to start a blog to hopefully branch out into more writing jobs.
    Right now I’m deciding what I want the blog to be able. Saving money is one thing that I am very passionate about, also raising my kids, and photography. Maybe I will combing them all into one.
    Can you direct me to some sites to get started?
    Can you also direct me to this blog post?
    Thanks!
    Lisa

  27. says

    Love the post, I have my own blog and couldn’t have laid our a tutorial better. My blog now is sports/man related, but I am also thinking about starting a finance blog. Do you think this market is to overcrowded or should I move into this direction? It would just be based on my personal financial endeavors and not real elaborate.

  28. says

    Blogging is fun and it gives a satisfaction to your life. I had many blog failures before I found a niche and the right hosting. WordPress is a lifesaver when it comes to blogging and I love its simplicity. Nowadays blogging has become harder as there are so many people competing against you. I would like to add one suggestion that picking exact search engine friendly domains can be a bad idea as Google frown upon EMD’s.

  29. says

    Woah this specific blog page is fantastic i’m keen on examining the articles you write. Maintain the great work! You realize, lots of people need all-around in this facts, you might encourage them to tremendously.

  30. says

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  31. Andrew says

    As discussed in this article, I purchased a domain name from GoDaddy on 8/4, and hosting from HostGator on 8/5.

    One thing I did not see mentioned in the article, which I just discovered, is that GoDaddy would not allow me to transfer my domain for 60 days. So, I can’t move my domain from GoDaddy to HostGator until 10/4, which stinks because I upgraded my HostGator hosting from Hatchling to Baby yesterday (I already have a DJ business website, so I’m going to add the budget blog domain to that shared hosting account). I upgraded the hosting yesterday, but won’t be able to use the unlimited hosting for the new domain for two more months. Perhaps you could add that warning to your directions?

    Also, do you think it would be good to go ahead and start hosting my blog using GoDaddy, and then move it to HostGator when the 60 days run out, or just wait to set it up after I move it to HG?

    Thank you for taking the time to write this excellent guide.

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