I’ll never forget the day I quit my job.
The year was 2013, and I had worked tirelessly in my role as the Director of Family Services at a local funeral home for six years. My husband was still working alongside me as a funeral director, but I knew I had to make the leap to change our lives.
It had been a few years since we started our website, ClubThrifty.com, and I had worked diligently to build up some part-time income through online freelance writing jobs and blogging. By the time I quit my job, I had replaced my $38,000 annual salary in its entirety, and I was so ready to strike out on my own.
It’s crazy to think of how much our lives have changed since we started our blog seven or eight years ago. For starters, my husband Greg was also able to quit his job to work on Club Thrifty full-time in February 2015. And while we earned a little over $100,000 combined at our funeral home jobs during our last year together in 2012, we brought home over $800,000 in income through online freelance writing and blogging in 2019.
Yes, you read that right — we earned over $800,000!
That’s more money than I ever thought I would have, mostly because I spent the bulk of my life working in low-wage jobs. Both Greg and I have worked in food service multiple times, I had a house cleaning business on the side in my early 20’s, and I once worked the night shift in a home for disabled adults for $9 per hour. I also worked in a factory once, and of course I worked in retail for a while. The list goes on and on.
If you would have told me I would one day earn over $800,000 per year from the comfort of my home, I would have called you a liar.
But yet, here I am.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a screenshot from my business bank account as I write this post today.
This is money just randomly sitting in our account until we take a distribution for ourselves, which we do every three months. It’s not even money I need.
On top of all the money coming into our business, we paid off the home we live in in early 2018. We now save around 80% of our income, and we simply invest the rest in our retirement and brokerage accounts. At this point, we’re on track to retire really, really early if we want to, but we’re not quite ready yet since we have young children.
Speaking of kids, they’re the reason we started all of this in the first place. They’re also the reason money is really the least of what we have gained from starting a blog.
In our old jobs at the funeral home, we worked nights, weekends, and evenings all the time. Greg was on call for around 1/3 of his life, and it felt like we never had time to just relax with our kids — or even to enjoy the lifestyle we worked hard to earn. We were living a Groundhog Day existence that mostly involved work and chores with moments of happiness here and there.
We barely had time to spend with our kids, and the time we did have was spent rushing around. Our lives may have seemed perfect to an outsider, but our work was too much. We decided to start a blog to change our lives, and that’s exactly what we have done.
How Starting a Blog Changed Our Lives
Our life is so different now that we’re self-employed and working at home on our own business. We still live a fairly frugal lifestyle, but it’s such a blessing to never have to worry about money.
We still work hard, but it’s entirely on our own terms now. We work long hours, but all the extra effort helps us grow rich instead of building someone else’s dream.
Most importantly, we are able to be present parents for our children. We put our kids on the bus each morning, and we’re waiting at home when the bus brings them home.
We make them breakfast and chat with them while they prepare for school each morning, all without having to hurry to get ready for our jobs (because, let’s face it, we wear pajamas). We also spend all of their school breaks with them, usually on some sort of epic vacation.
Becoming self-employed also opened a whole new world of opportunity up for us, including the chance to travel. At the moment, we’re traveling around four months of the year – with and without our kids thanks to my awesome mom, who is willing to babysit.
In 2020 alone, we have plans to travel to Aruba, Portugal, Poland, Budapest, Hungary, the U.K., Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and more. In 2019, we traveled to Saudi Arabia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, France, Spain, and several Caribbean destinations.
I cannot imagine trying to accomplish even a small percentage of that travel in our old jobs. We only had 20 PTO days, but that included sick days for us and our kids. Nowadays, I cringe at the mere mention of PTO or the thought of asking a boss for time off.
Nowadays, I’m freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
The thing is, there is so much more I want to do — so much more I want to see. I want to explore every corner of the world from the tallest mountain peaks to the world’s clearest oceans. I want to create new goals and make plans to reach them.
I want to make time to write a novel that I have intricately planned out in my mind. Financially, I want to set up my family and my children’s families for life. I want to help and inspire others to do the same. But more than that, I want to do it all on my own terms and without ever having a “boss” or driving into an office again.
Here’s Why You Should Start Your Own Blog
Here’s the thing — you can do all of this, too.
Greg and I are not any smarter than you or anyone else. All we did was a) figure out what we wanted to blog about, b) Google everything we could about how to earn money online, and c) execute our plan. We learned pretty much everything we know about making money blogging by looking it up or asking questions in blogging forums, and we also learned a lot through trial and error. But really, it’s just not that hard.
One of the biggest benefits of starting a blog is the fact that you can get started for less than $100 if you want – sometimes a lot less. Heck, our first website design used a random stock photo of a beach, and we did just fine.
The most important thing here is just getting started — that’s it! You have to get started if you want to start a website that can earn money and ultimately change your life.
The good news about blogging is that your ongoing expenses can also be extremely low. Almost all the money Greg and I earn is money we can keep, mostly because we don’t have to pay for an office and we do most of the work for our website ourselves.
I know you’re aching to get started, so check out our step-by-step guide on how to start a blog below! It’s not that hard, and the process we outline below makes it even easier.
How to Start Your Blog in 6 Steps
Blogging is a fun and enjoyable hobby. However, starting your blog can be a bit overwhelming – especially if you’ve never done it before. There is a lot more to it than just jotting a few thoughts down for the whole world to see. Before you can even do that, there’s a lot of work that needs to happen behind the scenes!
It is easy to get bogged down in all the technical details of starting a website. Try not to get intimidated. We started this blog about eight years ago, without much technical skill at all. Honestly, if we can get a blog up and running, so can you.
Of course, we’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way. Hopefully, this guide will give you a leg up when you’re first starting out. Just follow the steps below, and you’ll be able to avoid lots of the snags that cause others to quit before they ever really get started. So, first things first – let’s choose a niche!
Before you Build, Choose a Niche
Before you decide to start a blog, you need to decide what you want to blog about. Zeroing in on a niche is one of the most important steps to creating a successful blog. It is also one of the most difficult.
You don’t want to choose a niche that is too broad because you’ll confuse your future readers. Generally speaking, the more focused you can make your niche, the stronger connection you can make with your core audience. On the flip side, if your niche is too focused, you may eliminate whole groups of people who may be interested in reading what you have to say…and that isn’t good either.
Truth be told, I know a lot of successful bloggers who didn’t start out with a clearly defined niche…including me! If this is your first blog, you may not even know what you want it to be about until you’ve written a substantial amount of content.
Bottom Line: Spend some time thinking about this, but don’t let it paralyze you. The most important thing is to take action and start building your blog today.
Step 1: Name Your Blog
From a purely technical standpoint, the first thing you need to do is to choose a domain name for your site. There are many different theories for choosing website names. You can choose anything from your own name (ie: hollydjohnson.com) to search engine friendly terms (ie: makemoney.com).
When we were deciding on a name for our website, we really wanted to create our own brand. Although we came up with a bunch of crazy names, we eventually settled on the brand name of Club Thrifty. We think it was a pretty good choice, don’t you agree? 😉
Our brand name is relatively focused yet flexible. We originally started the blog with the sole focus of frugality and frugal living. Later, we branched out into other areas of personal finance – like travel and lifestyle.
Whatever you do, choose something you like. Whether it’s eccentricartlover.com or marvelfansunite.com, make sure your new domain name is amazing.
Step 2: Register Your Domain
Once you’ve batted around some names, make sure the domain names you selected are available. Better yet, check on those names WHILE you’re batting them around. Nothing sucks worse than spending four days coming up with the perfect domain name only to realize that it has already been purchased by someone else!
To check on the availability of your favorite domain names, all you have to do is type your domain name into your browser and see what pops up. If your search brings you to a website or a page that says “Your Domain is Registered,” that domain name is probably off the market. If you are directed to a search engine page, chances are good that domain name is available.
Typically, domain name registrars sell domains for as little as $12 a year. 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.
Better yet, here’s a HOT DEAL for you:
Seriously guys, even if you are blogging as a hobby, make sure to get a custom domain name. It makes you look more professional, you’ll fare better in search results, and you’ll have a much better chance at growing your blog. Plus, you can get by for less than $20 a month – which is considerably less than most hobbies cost. The best part is that this hobby could actually make you money!
Here’s how to register your new domain name at Bluehost:
- Login to your Bluehost account Control Panel. (We’ll teach you how to create one in the next section.)
- Click the Addons tab.
- Choose Domain Registration.
- Enter your desired domain name.
- Choose your desired top level domain (ie: clubthrifty.com) from the drop down menu.
- Click the Check button.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Next.
- Review the Registration Settings and click Add to Cart.
Boom. Easy. As. Pie.
Step 3: Find a Host
So, 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, but our favorite for beginners is Bluehost. Their customer service is good, and it is hard to beat their pricing. Furthermore, we love how Bluehost makes it super simple to integrate your website with WordPress, which we’ll talk about in a bit.
Hosting plans at Bluehost typically start at just $2.95/month. For reals, guys…that is dirt cheap. Here’s a nifty little image that compares their plans:
Of course, these prices are subject to change, but they are all very affordable. As the name suggests, the “Basic” plan is probably enough to get you started. However, I’d opt for the “Plus” plan. You get unlimited storage, unlimited domain names, and more for an extra three bucks a month. The best part about these plans is that they all include a free domain name, so make sure you take advantage of that!
Opening a Bluehost Account
Now that we know where to go for your hosting, let’s talk about how to start a blog with Bluehost:
1) Go to Bluehost.com and click on “Get Started Now.”
2) Select your hosting plan.
3) Enter your existing domain name or claim your FREE one.
4) Enter your contact and billing info.
5) Create a login and password.
6) Voila! You’re done!
Editor’s Note: When it comes to addons, typically we don’t pay for most of the extras. Generally, the only extras we consider are private domain registration and a dedicated IP address. As the name implies, the private registration is a nice privacy feature so people can’t just look up your address. Since this is a shared hosting account, the dedicated IP address helps keep your domain safe from any Google penalties that may be caused by some goonball who sharing your hosting account. Register for your Bluehost account now by clicking here!
Step 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. If you’re using Bluehost for both your domain registration and hosting services, you’re good to go. You can skip to the next section. If you’ve decided to buy your domain name from a different registrar, you’ll need to read on.
To connect your registered domain name and your hosting account, we’ll have to use 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 is your actually address. Essentially, you’ll need to change your DNS in your domain registrar account so that your address gets put in the right zip code.
When you open a new hosting account, you’ll get a welcome email from your new host that provides you with your new DNS info. It will read something like this: “Nameserver1: ns1.bluehost.com, Nameserver2: ns2.bluehost.com. Just add these to your registrar account. Since each registrar is different, you’ll need to look the specific directions for changing nameservers on each particular site.
Step 5: Build Your Site
Booyah! 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. Again, Bluehost makes creating a WordPress site super easy. Here’s how to do it:
How to Create a WordPress Website with Bluehost
1) Login to your Bluehost account.
2) Click on the “My Sites” (sidebar) or “Create New Site” (footer).
3) Create a site name and tagline.
4) Choose your domain name from the dropdown and install.
5) You’re done!
Designing Your Website
When it comes to the design of your new website, 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 through WordPress itself. (Bluehost also has some themes available.)
To browse free themes, simply click on “Appearance” and “Themes” in the sidebar of your WordPress dashboard.
However, if you really want to make your website look slick, you definitely want 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.
Genesis is not a template in and of itself. It is a framework upon which you can build something uber cool using a “Child Theme.” 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. Had we started on the Genesis framework right away, it would have saved us oodles of hours. Instead, we had to build the site twice. Plus, the website was much nicer to look at and way easier to navigate – which translated into a lot more visitors coming and staying at the website.
Since our first experience with Genesis, Greg has built several different websites…and he has used the Genesis framework on almost every one of them. Get started with Genesis here.
Step 6: Write Stuff
If your stick with it and write engaging content, you will start to attract visitors. People will 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?
Wrapping Up: It’s Time to Take Action
So, there it is – everything you need to get your blog up and running!
Of course, there are tons of things you’ll need to learn along the way – especially if you want to make money blogging. Thankfully, we have an entire course to help you out. It’s called Earn More Blogging, and it’s a great way to speed up the process and avoid many of the mistakes we’ve made over the years.
Again, none of this matters unless you take action. Dreaming about your own blog isn’t going to cut it. You need to dive in and do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect . Honestly, nobody is going to see your stuff for a while anyway, so take that time to hone your skills and perfect your blog. It’s super cheap to get started, so just get out there and do it!
We hope this piece has been helpful for you. If it has, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d support us by clicking on our affiliate links when you sign up. Good luck with your new website, and happy blogging!
- Get a FREE Domain Name and Cheap Hosting at Bluehost
- Click Here to Design Your Website on the Genesis Framework