How To Start A Blog: My Advice To Beginning Bloggers

by Khaleef Crumbley on March 27, 2012

in Blogging

How To Start A Blog

This post is a part of the Beginner Blogger Challenge hosted by Passive Income To Retire. The point of it is for “experienced” bloggers to give a few tips to those who are just starting out or who are looking to start out.

Because I know a number of people who are looking to start their own blogs/websites, I will try to make this a “how to start a blog” post as well as tips. If you have any questions, just leave a comment below.

How To Start A Blog

Many of these points are things that I wish I knew about when I first started. Doing these things from the beginning will save you a lot of time, frustration, and even money!

Own Your Blog

When you start blogging, you have a choice on what type of platform you will use. There are websites which will allow you to have a page (or pages) within their preexisting site. The big three are Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress.com. If you are on one of these sites, whatever happens to them (hacked, bugs, shut down by government, etc) happens to you!

Also, they can shut down your space on their site whenever they feel like it (especially with Blogger). This is why I recommend that to anyone who wants to have a blog to establish their own website first! Here is how you do it:

Buy the Domain – I recommend using GoDaddy (I’ve purchased over 30 domains through them and have never had a problem). Once you decide on a domain name (this is a very important step), head on over to Godaddy (this is an affiliate link – meaning that I will earn a few pennies, at no cost to you, if you use it) and make it yours. They also have a great search feature that will let you know if a name is taken, and if so, what the closest available alternatives are.

Buy Hosting – Once you buy a domain, you have to have a place to store (or host) all of the files for your website. I have used Hostgator for nearly 3 years now and I love them! They have great prices – I pay about $6 or $7 a month, and I have about 30 websites hosted with them! They are also known for their reliable systems (my website has only been down twice since I’ve been using them), and great customer service – they have forums, an instant chat service, and a toll-free number.

If you use the coupon code “KNSFINANCIAL25” (with no quotes), you will receive 25% off of your order! So be sure that you sign up for a couple of years in order to take full advantage of this sale (it only applies to new accounts).

Install WordPressWordPress.org is where you can find the version of WordPress that you can install on your private site. This is the most popular blogging platform (and is also used to create full websites), and it is completely free. They also have tons of plugins, themes, and basic support in order to make your site run as smoothly as possible!

Permalink Structure

This is the term that describes what the URL (or link) will look like with each blog post. When you first set up your blog using WordPress, it will make the links to your blog posts look like this http://knsfinancial.com/abunchofnumberswhichmeannothingtoyou instead of http://knsfinancial.com/taxes.

Now, which one would you rather deal with? It’s pretty easy to tell what the second one is about, and it is also easy to type, and say.

There are also other benefits, which are beyond the scope of this article.

Decide If It Will Be A Business Or Hobby

When you are thinking about how to start a blog, you need to know this right away. If it is a hobby, then make sure that you keep it fun, light, and don’t allow it to take over your life or your bank account. However, if it is a business, then you can evaluate each purchase on the basis of its value as an investment.

You should organize and present yourself as a business – this may mean spending time and/or money investing in a professional design, using emails from your own domain (instead of Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail), and spending time creating and refining a system of organizing files, contacts, wishlists, etc.

I would also recommend that if you see something that you want to use for your site, but it costs money, you buy it and start using it right away – if it’s worth the investment. Trying to change platforms, especially from a free, under-supported product to a more robust professional one can be a big headache. This is especially try when it comes to building an email list!

Learn/Understand The Basics Of SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the art/science of writing and marketing a website, page, article, or even photo, in such a way that it comes up as one of the first choices when someone uses a search engine and types in the word or words that your item is about.

There is no point in doing all of these other things if no one knows that you are out there. Also, for many websites, the readers that come from search engines tend to be the ones that bring in the largest revenue.

Be Organized & Have Structure

Even if you start out with the idea that this is just a hobby, you need to be organized. Create subfolders in your email inbox, use a task list, share documents over the web so you can keep track of your ideas and other things.

Also, the way that you structure your website – categories, tags, posting schedule, pages – should be organized as well. Your readers will find it much easier to follow your story if you are organized.

Network With Others In Your Niche

The best way to learn about organizing your blog, trends, plugins and other software, affiliate programs, SEO (including targeting the right keywords), tricks, free tools, and everything else related to blogging, is to talk to people who are already doing it. Actually, that is the point of this “Beginner Blogger Challenge” – people who have been doing it, writing tips and lessons learned for the benefit of those who have less experience!

I have “met” – actually I did meet a lot of bloggers in person at the 2011 Financial Blogger Conference – a lot of great people by trying to network. I was amazed to find out that there are more than a dozen Christian personal finance bloggers…I thought I would be alone! I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t started to comment on the one or two blogs that I found, and then started to develop relationships with the writers and other commenters as well.

By networking, you can also find people who can help you with things that are outside of your expertise. I know nothing about coding, but there are quite a number of people who do in the Yakezie network, and so I know where to go when I have coding questions. Whenever there is a subject that I know pretty well, I try to lend my expertise as well – the definition of effective networking!

Support Others

Part of networking is supporting other bloggers and organizations. The point of doing this isn’t just to see what you can get out of people, but it’s a way for you to extend yourself and help people. Even if it is just giving feedback on a site redesign, the help of other people who are going through (or have already been through) what you are doing is so important.

Be willing to share what you know with others and don’t expect anything in return.

Here are 4 questions that everyone who participated in this “challenge” had to answer…

Q&A Time:

1) How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging for about 2 years. I’ve had this site for longer than that, but I didn’t use it for blogging (actually, I’m still not sure if I do now).

I initially started off by posting bulletins and announcements from the IRS, and also adding other information to my tax guide. It took about 4 or 5 months for me to start writing consistently, and also to broaden out my topics to more than just taxes.

2) Why did you start blogging?

I was bothered by all of the people that I came across who knew nothing about personal finance. I started the website as a way to provide organized information that would help people gain control of their finances.

I want people to be able to find answers to their financial questions without having to wade through all of the garbage and attempts to sell something, which flood the internet!

3) How long did it take you to earn $100?

It took about 6 months to earn my first $100. After about a year the income became a little more steady.

I honestly didn’t know that it was possible to make money with a blog or small website, so I was shocked when I found so many people making more online than I do at my day job!

4) What is (at least) one thing you wish someone had told you before you started?

I wish I would have treated this as a business from the very beginning. I would have viewed spending money as making investments, and I would have saved a lot of time and energy, while making a lot more money!

I wasted time by trying to go the cheap route and then upgrade to the better option once I started making enough money. That’s not the way most businesses operate! There needs to be an initial investment in capital and manpower in order to get a business off the ground – the same is true with a blogging business.

photo by digitalart

© 2012, KNS Financial, LLC. All rights reserved.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 April G

Hey Khaleef I just want to thank you again for you advice, and patience on helping me start my website. I too have a long way to go, but feel totally confident knowing that i can also come back and refer to knsfinancial. This website is awesome !!!!

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2 Lance@MoneyLife&More

Thanks for posting this. I just started my blog a couple weeks ago and have so much to learn. I have a long way to go but hopefully I am off to a good start!

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3 AnneMo

I really agree when you say that it is important to know if your blog is for business or just a hobby. But for me, you really have to ensure that creating a blog is your passion so that it will last longer and you will be happy with what you are doing.

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4 SB @ One Cent At A Time

that’s so much to know khaleef

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5 Julie @ Freedom 48

Lots of great points! I personally blog for the the sheer enjoyment of it… however my husband has enjoyed working on the website/technical side of it – which works out well!

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6 Money Infographics

Awesome advice, feel like I might be onto a winner now!! Just need to stick at it and have faith! Feel free to drop by my site anytime!!

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7 Financial Samurai

Khaleef – I think I might be blind. Where’s your retweet button and stuff so I can share?

thx!

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8 Khaleef Crumbley

Hey Sam, I didn’t even realize that they were gone. I just added them back. Thanks for pointing that out to me!

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9 Financial Samurai

No problem! I think they’ve actually been gone for several weeks, and I was too reticent to let you know as I am blind sometimes.

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10 Evan @ My Journey to Millions

I actually liked doing some of the stuff at the beginning that I don’t now…I learned so much about programming and websites that way.

Either way I love reading these types of posts I think they help out new bloggers so much

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11 Donny Gamble

I don’t think starting a blog is the hard part, I think maintaining a blog on a consistent basis is the hardest part.

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12 Eric

This is a great guide Khaleef. I wish I had that 5 years ago when I started my first site on blogger.

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13 John

I remember starting my own professional blog. It took me about the same time to make any money from it, but once you start making money, it seems to only increase from there if you stick with it!

I like that you mentioned the important of networking with others. That is so very important to make it.

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14 Jackie

All great tips. I’d say you’ve become very knowledgeable in just two years!

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15 Thad P @ thadthoughts.com

I have found the Yakezie network to provide an excellent mix of information, accountability and inspiration since I joined the challenge back in January. Lots of great people there, and good ideas.

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16 Thomas - Ways to Invest Money

All great tips. I can say from starting several that most of how I do things when I actually start from the ground up is done this way. Godaddy and hostgator are who I am with. I try the blogger or wordpress but found them to be to limited so purchased my own. I think you really need to understand that nothing happens over night and there will be posts were you dont get any comments or visitors.

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17 Financial Samurai

Thanks for sharing Khaleef. A good guide for beginners. Just gotta stick with it for the longer term!

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18 ShortRoadTo

I just started blogging in February, so this is a helpful post. Thank you.

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19 Jai Catalano

1. 1 year.
2. Because I was a stay at home dad.
3. 6 months.
4. DON’T DO IT!!!

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20 JP@Novel Investor

I wish this was around 2 years ago when I first started out. Great information every new blogger that wants to start a legitimate site should read. Great guide!

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21 Jen @ Master the Art of Saving

Wow! This is the most in-depth challenge post I’ve seen so far. You offer so much valuable information to new bloggers as well as those who are thinking about starting. Great post! :-)

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22 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

I would suggestion thinking about your blog before you go off and buy a domain name, then you can figure out your business plan/niche and have a good name to go with it!

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23 Lorillia |

Great tips Khaleef. You were on point with deciding if its a hobby or biz. To me that will decide your seriousness with blogging. And I agree with investing in yourself to get further.

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24 Jeremy@Modest Money

Khaleef I commend you for taking the time to help new bloggers like this.

If people are considering start a blog, I recommend taking the time to do sufficient research before starting. You don’t want to spend a bunch of time only to realize that your domain name may not be the best choice or that other mistakes are made. Analyze some blogs that you like and are similar to what you want to create. Since bloggers are generally quite open to helping others, send those bloggers an e-mail with any questions you may have. That may save you a lot of headaches and make starting a blog much easier.

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25 Squirrelers

All good tips here, well done. I have to especially agree with the buy your own domain part, and wordpress part as well.

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26 Corey @ Passive Income to Retire

Great post! Many people will find this a great resource! An interesting perspective on treating it as a business. I have taken a similar route of only investing what I make into my blog… I wonder if I could be more successful if I invested more money into it. Great food for thought…

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27 Charlotte@HIMMB

Very good information. I have just started blogging so this is good to know now. Hopefully this information will save me time and money,

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