How to Start a WordPress Blog in 2018 and Beyond

Disclaimer:  Did you guys know this post has affiliate links in it?  You didn’t?!!  Well, just letting you know that if you decent try out one of the services below, we get a commission.  On the one hand, it’s a shame we have to tell you this, but on the other hand, shows how you can also place affiliate links creatively in your own blog!  We show you how below!

You are looking for ways to earn cash online, and you’ve stumbled upon what appears to be an impossible way to earn…blogging.  It’s become cliche almost that you can make money online writing your expertise or expressing yourself creatively, but the fact remains, yes you can make money blogging!

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    Here are just a few other bloggers/publishers that make money:

    • Making Sense of Cents – ~$100k/mo
    • Eyeswoon – ~$10-15k/mo
    • Cash Cow Couple – ~$10-15k/mo
    • Making Star Wars – ~$10/20k/mo
    • Super Hero Hype – ~$20-$50k/mo

    Why Do Most Blogs Fail?

    You may have started a blog before, and it’s gone flat.  The truth is, 90% of blogs typically fail after their first year is done.  Why just a year?

    • Lack of commitment
    • Lack of focus
    • Lack of monetization

    MoneyHax is an excellent example of what it takes to get a blog going.  Why?  We’ve been live for about a year and a half now, and we are now just starting to gain steam.  We knew this is going into the whole blog thing, that’s why we remain to be committed.

    Start Your Blogging Journey

    Don't get overwhelmed
    Lot’s of info below for Starting Your Blog!

    Step 1:  Pick Something to Blog About (with Quiz)

    Before buying a domain or hosting, ask yourself this simple question:  What do I know more than others?

    If the answer is clear, then you should continue to the next step.  But if you don’t know the answer, or if you have trouble defining a particular niche or category, you will need to find this out first.  Starting a blog requires you to write, consistently, to a specific niche and the audience that follows that niche.  If you like fishing, for example, you could start a blog on different fishing aspects.  Since your audience is defined, you’ll be able to target content towards them.  Here’s a couple of ideas:

    QUIZ TIME!! What Type of Blog Should You Start?


    "If You Build It, They Will Come" - Field of Dreams

    Blogging takes dedication.  We'll give you a head start on what type of blog you should consider pursuing.  All you need to do...is START!

    QUIZ TIME!! What Type of Blog Should You Start?

    Question 1 of 4.

    How Much Time Can You Dedicate?

    There are blogs that work one day a week, one hour, or those who wake up first thing and start typing away.   Which options suits you the best?

    1. I can work on this thing full time!
    2. Because I don't know how much I'll be making, I can only dedicate about an hour a day
    3. I can work on the blog every day whenever I get the chance!
    4. I prefer to work about less than an hour.

    Building Blog(s) Take Time!

    You won't rank right away.  You won't make money right away.  You won't get followers right away either.  But if you dedicate yourself even just a tiny portion of your day to the blog EVERYDAY your chances of success are much higher.

    Question 2 of 4.

    What kind of money do you want to make?

    You can certainly make money blogging, how much you want to make depends on several factors.

    1. I'd love for the blog to replace my job's income!
    2. It'd be nice to make about $1000 a month.
    3. I just want to start the blog for fun, since I love writing!
    4. If I can make money blogging about my passion, then I'll succeed!

    Money shouldn't be the only focus

    Blogs are built a specific purpose in mind.  You need to reshift your mind to fulfilling an informational need out in the real world.  There are plenty of parenting blogs for example.  Fill an informational need or desire for a group of people and you'll end up with monetization ideas.  

    Question 3 of 4.

    Which Blogs do you Prefer to Read?

    In order to become a blogger, you must know the game very well.  Which blogs do you aspire to become?

    1. I love Buzzfeed and their Viral Quizzes!
    2. Whatever pops in my Facebook feed.
    3. I figured this blog started sometime, why can't I do the same!
    4. Any site with a fancy top ten list appeals to me!

    It's best to establish competition

    Let's face it:  There's competition in blogging.  This doesn't mean your competitive peers won't help you out though.  Blogging is more about connecting content with a group of people.  

    Question 4 of 4.

    What kind of personality trait best fits?

    Blogging also depends on the type of personality you are.  Not all people are destined to become bloggers!

    1. Curious
    2. Relentless
    3. Outgoing
    4. Reserved

    Solve a problem

    No matter your personality, if you can find purpose and passion to write about specific subjects, you'll find it easier to build your blog business.

    Next question 1 of 4

    All 4 questions completed!


    Share results:

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    Once you have your content focus ready to go, you should consider branding your blog with a domain.  There is debate as to whether, a dot com, or dot net, matter in this decision, but the answer is always clear, dot com is still preferred amongst the web since most are already used to typing that in.  If you rely on people going to your website through Google, it wouldn’t matter as much, but if someday you want people to type in your site, a dot-com domain in necessary!

    Use a Domain Availability checker like the one below to find out if your desired name is available

     

    You should buy your domain and hosting together since it makes things easier to get things started.   But before continuing to consider hosting to be the most critical aspect of your initial start-up phase.  If you are a blog, WordPress is King and allows customization while also being easy to set up.  Make sure to find a hosting provider aimed at working together with WordPress.  There is an extra cost to this, but it makes it up for faster hosting, which is essential for ranking.  Interested in an affordable hosting plan?

    Try our partner BlueHost and pay as little as $60 per year!!

    *We Suggest Paying the .99c/mo Domain Privacy Add-on, that will make the total $71.  Why?  Because if you don’t pay the charge you’ll get calls every day about logo design and other non-necessary stuff*

    *NEW* INCLUDES SECURITY CERTIFICATE (ASK BLUEHOST CUSTOMER SUPPORT IF YOU DIDN’T GET ONE FROM THIS LINK!!)

    selecting domain in bluehost
    Make Sure Domain is Available and Type it in here!
    bluehost hosting plans
    Be Sure to Select 1 Year to 3 Years (1 Year is Cheapest!)

    Step 2:  Technical Stuff

    Step 2a:  Install WordPress

    So you are ready to blog.  First, you’ll need to install WordPress through BlueHost or your chosen hosting provider.   With our link, you’ll immediately have access to WordPress hosting without having to install WordPress yourself.  Of course, customer service is always there to help you install WordPress no matter the platform though.

    For BlueHost, they’ll guide you right to the “My Site” section of the Dashboard where you’ll see your new site option.

    bluehost create site

    When you click on the button you can give your site a title and tagline.  Don’t worry, these do not change the domain name involved.

    Ready to Enter WordPress?  Hit the Log into WordPress Button from Your “My Sites” Section

    Step 2b:  Using WordPress to Post

    Assuming you have installed WordPress through an optimized WordPress hosting provider, you may be asking yourself what to do now?  You technically can just start writing through the new post part of WordPress’ Dashboard.add post

    But since we know that just posting whatever you want to write isn’t the best way to actually get a blog business rolling, we’ll recommend you install several plugins FIRST to get yourself ahead of the game and prepared for proper writing for SEO purposes.

    Step 2c:  Install These Plugins Now!

    On the left side of the WordPress Dashboard, you’ll be able to install plugins fairly easily.  In case you were wondering, Plugins are the extra tools that your site needs in order for blogging success.  Some are free, some are not.  To install them you’ll see the plugin icon on the left side of the WordPress Dashboard:

    add new plugin

    From here you can search and activate plugins, or you can manually install them using files you downloaded.  Premium plugins aren’t typically found on this page, so you’ll have to install them manually in some cases.

    install plugins

    Ready for our Favorite Plugins?

    Yoast SEO

    We’ve tried many SEO related plugins, but with Yoast, everything you need is included in its base plugin.  You’ll get SEO tips, updates, sitemap integration (is necessary for Google), and much more.  The best feature is how you can edit the snippet of each post right from the edit area.  The snippet helps you rank better, utilizing keywords.  It’s up to debate whether Yoast is the best SEO plugin still, but we’ve found it perfect for our site so far.  Cost: Free

    Yoast Snippet

    Yellow Pencil

    If you are fond of a theme but hate the way something in particular looks, i.e., the way, the sidebar looks.  You can easily edit the CSS of anything using Yellow Pencil.  CSS, or Cascading Style Sheet, is what tells the website how to translate colors, text, and looks overall.  Luckily, with Yellow Pencil, everything is in front of you to change, and no coding is necessary! Cost: $20-$40

    Yellow Pencil
    Edit anything from Text on a single page (or the whole website) and much more!

    A word of caution, however, changing CSS can disrupt certain things on the website’s theme.  Be sure to test every change you make before you save it!  

    Editing the snippet is comfortable with Yoast!

    WP Rocket

    If you want your page to load quicker, there are a few options out in the WordPress plugin space for Free.  We decided to pay the premium for WP Rocket.  It’s been a major addition to our website, and we can’t recommend it enough!  Your pages will load super fast using the cache plugin but also helps you minify Javascript, HTML, and CSS.  Don’t ask us what that means, but we know it helps with website speed.  We’ve tried other caching apps, but WP Rockets customer service (answers within hours) and premium features make this one a worthy purchase! Cost: $39/YR

    wprocket dashboard
    Newly Released easy to use dashboard

    UpdraftPlus Backup

    If you take your blog seriously, having a backup plugin is 100% necessary for your success.  Chances are you may be hacked, or maybe you make a critical mistake that causes your blog to look crazy.  Enter UpdraftPlus.  By frequently backing up your site using the plugin (super easy to do), you are going to save yourself heartache and stomach pain.  It’s so easy to restore your previous hack-free, error-free website that you are going to start thanking the high heavens that UpdraftPlus exists.  Get it now…we mean it! Cost: Free (more space costs money)

    Updraft Plus
    With a click, you backup, restore, or delete old backups

    Imagify

    Optimizing your website is a major part of your website’s performance, and perhaps success.  Images take up a lot of space and bandwidth when it comes to your users or readers.  The longer the page loads, the higher the chance someone says “eh, no thanks” to your posts.  Enter Imagify.  With a swift click of the mouse, you’ll optimize images easily so that they’ll be decreased in size without sacrificing much of the images quality.  There are other options like WP Smush, but we’ve found that if you pay for Imagify’s premium upgrades, it’s hassle-free and easier to work with over time!

    Imagify
    Even this screenshot was optimized!

    There are other useful plugins necessary for your own experience building the blog of your dreams.  However, the ones above are required, if not required for your website to exist.  Have another suggestion for a plugin?  Let us know in the comments below!

    Step 2d:  Get a Theme

    Notice that with everything we’ve done so far, your website looks a bit plain?  Take a look at your new website now and you’ll find that there’s only generic information and coloring in it.  That’s because with an included WordPress theme you won’t find proper theming and appeal that you’d probably be seeking.  Enter WordPress Themes.  You can find plenty of Free WordPress themes that offer enough functionality found in a similar way we found additional plugins.

    Theme Option

    From here you can search for Free Themes or like Plugins, opt to manually install more Premium Themes found elsewhere.

    free theme

    Premium Themes are Best for Blogging

    Though we never had a complaint about Free Themes, for the slight extra cost raning from $20-$60 you can find themes that have color options and looks that may suit your audience better.  Plus many premium themes on Themeforest will include multiple premium plugins when you pay for a theme.  Head over to Themeforest (there are other marketplaces).

    Themeforest Search
    Be Sure to Type in Your Appropriate Subject

    When you have purchased and completed downloading your new theme, you can install it on the WordPress (Appearance  –>  Themes –> Upload) area.

    *Remember* most blogging businesses fail because of their failure to start, so start writing about your favorite topics in your niche, the worst that could happen is that your posts will be disregarded if they don’t rank well.

    Honestly, we can fill this section with fluff, but one thing you can do to make it easy…ask your hosting support team.  They’ll get you a WordPress site rather quickly, and yes, they are typically available at most times of the day.

    Step 3:  Monetization Through Affiliate Marketing

    Step 3a:  Find products through an Affiliate Network

    One of the major pain points of becoming an affiliate marketer is finding the right products that fit your following.  There is a solution.  FlexOffers, an affiliate network, provides products ranging from Groupon, Kohls, Newegg, Best Buy, Etsy and much much more.  Since you won’t have to join multiple networks, which can be recommended once you are a pro affiliate marketer, FlexOffers has everything you need right there in front of you.

    FlexOffers Featured Programs

    Existing Blogger/Influencer?  Try these as well!

    Step 3b:  Apply to programs through the network

    Using FlexOffers as an example, you’ll be able to apply to programs.  Some may take a bit to review your application, and in many cases, these reviews consist of making sure you are a legit person, an also an excellent source of organic (natural and not bogus) referrals.

    Before you apply, be sure to review the terms and conditions of each program, sometimes an application will restrict a specific promotional method like buying AdWords campaigns.  You can also see the commission rate attached to the program.  The commission rate is what you’ll be making if someone ends up buying your product through a referral (affiliate) link.

    FlexOffers Terms

    Step 3c:  Approved for a program?  Start using links!

    Affiliate links are the guts of any affiliate marketing aspect.  It’s what bridges you from the referral to the commission.  When someone clicks on a referral or affiliate link, there is a cookie transferred.  No personal information is transferred through the cookie, only the click ID that identifies the user from the network.

    To put it simply, the click acts as a connection between purchase and the network, again in this case FlexOffers.   To get a link, it will work the same amongst most major affiliate networks:

    • Find the approved program by search or use the Links menu option
    • Click the Approved checkbox
    • Hit the Orange Search button
    • See your authorized links
    • Sort by advertiser by typing them into the advertiser search box

    Tip:  An advertiser is the host of products, for example, Groupon is an advertiser.  In affiliate marketing, there is the advertiser (merchant) and the publisher (blog or one who posts the affiliate links)

    Links via FlexOffers

    From this area you’ll see a few things, you’ll see the HTML code, which would include the text you would put in front of the link or even a graphic.  You can consider this option should you want paste a sale or promotion directly into your website’s code area.  For now, let’s focus on the link portion.  The link is in the HTML but hidden somewhat.  If you click on the Link tab on you’ll note the affiliate link shows up.  The affiliate link here is “https://track.flexoffer…..fos=1″ the other text right after, rel=”nofollow,” is not technically the affiliate link and can be disregarded.  (For that more savvy nofollow is a proper function of SEO).

    FlexOffers Tracking Link

    Step 3d:  Keep going and build your following

    Most affiliate marketers start up and go away within the first few weeks.  It’s tough to convert sometimes when a user knows you are pushing another’s products.  Leverage your networks reporting options and find out who is clicking on your links!

    Through passion, being technically savvy, and willing to be consistent there may be no better way to make money online than affiliate marketing.

    Other Monetization Methods

    We’ve talked about this term a few times already but are you clear on it?  Here’s the simple meaning:  A Way to Get Your Blog to Produce Money.  Some ways bloggers monetize?

    • Advertising (Google Adsense and others)
    • Digital Products
    • Coaching or Tutoring

    Here’s why these methods are so darn useful (and accessible):  Little to No Overhead

    What this means is there is little cost to you to use these techniques including starting a blog compared to other business models.  So if your blog fails, there is little out of pocket expense for you.  However, don’t let this be a factor in your motivation to keep your business growing!

    Step 4:  Social Media

    You’ll need to connect with your audience through social networks.  One thing we’ve noticed about Social Networks these days is that it’s vital for your blog’s success if you aren’t necessarily skilled at SEO.  Without a Social Presence or SEO knowledge, your blog will have a hard time going.  Be thorough and get yourself onto these social networks (and be active on them):

    1. Pinterest
    2. Facebook
    3. Twitter
    4. Tumblr
    5. Instagram

    Yes, in that order.  According to multiple sites we’ve researched, Instagram rarely helped a blog’s overall success.  We checked the Student Loan Hero’s Instagram page (which was recently acquired for 50 Million Dollars), and there were only a dozen pictures on Instagram.  That being said, it’s your formula that you’ll have to master.

    For Pinterest, we’ve heard that outside of Google’s Page Rankings for your posts, Pinterest will be the best source of organic (natural and not bought) traffic around.  We’ve had an OK experience with this, although we can confidently say that out of all of the networks out there, Pinterest seems to be the best for your blog’s business overall.

    Pinterest Traffic
    Our Pinterest Traffic is Up and Down – But We Use It!

    We took a course on Pinterest that we recommend you start with.  In fact, we wish we had just bought this course first before all endeavors into the Pinterest world.  The Pinterest Traffic Avalanche course is a bit pricey but worthy of your money considering the authors have legit made a ton of cash and won a lot of traffic through the platform.

    Believe it or not, no blogger will tell you their exact recipe for success as that’s their competitive advantage. 

    You’ll Need Hosting:

    DreamHost Hosting: $3.95 a month (Includes Domain if you pay for a year)

    BlueHost Hosting: $3.95 a month (Includes Domain = $71 Per Year)

    Start Making Money Via an Affiliate Networks

    FlexOffers: Free Sign Up (Need Website with Content to Join)

    AWIN: Review

    Other Tools

    Tailwind:  Pinterest Scheduling App

    Leadpages:  Landing Pages for Getting Email Leads (Advanced)

    Themeforest:  Most Popular Source for Quality WordPress Themes (yes, this one is from there!)

    Subscribe Today and Get FREE ACCESS to Our Affiliate Marketing Section

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      3 Comments

      • Todd Weitzman
        Posted July 26, 2018 at 3:56 pm 0Likes

        Hi Shonda. I don’t really use this type of plugin, but I looked this kind of function up online and found a wordpress plugin here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-to-twitter/ … Hope that does the trick!

      • Orlando Blackall
        Posted July 26, 2018 at 6:51 pm 0Likes

        Right now it appears like Expression Engine is the top blogging platform out there right now. (from what I’ve read)
        Is that what you are using on your blog?

        • Todd Weitzman
          Posted July 26, 2018 at 7:00 pm 0Likes

          I’m using WordPress for now. Though took a look at Expression Engine just now and overall looks like that would be a worthy competitor of WP and Joomla. Thanks for the info!

      Leave a comment

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