A Blogger’s Advice on How to Start a Blog

A blogger's advice on how to start a successful blog

You need the right set-up to become a pro blogger

Have you been thinking about starting a blog but don’t know where to begin? Or maybe you already have a blog and are ready to start making an income from it? I’ve been in your shoes and way back in 2010 I decided to just jump in and start writing — the blogging platform and hosting service didn’t matter right? Wrong.

I blogged on that first platform for a couple of years but when I decided I wanted to make blogging my career it held me back. Only by hiring a professional to safely migrate all of my articles was I able to get myself and my blog in the right place to make a living. I’ve put together this article to help you put the right foot forward and to help you avoid making my same mistakes.

A blogger's advice on how to start a successful blogHow to start a blog

This is a guide to getting yourself started with the right set-up. I’ve also had a chat with Scott at BigScoots (my hosting company) and he’s added a little more information on how they work with you to get you up and running. I’ve had experiences with two other hosting services before and you can read all about that in the sections after this.

  1. Purchase a premium Wordpress theme. The designs come in all shapes and sizes as you can see from comparing this blog to my second website. It’s also run on a premium wordpress theme and hosted on Big Scoots. There are a lot of companies out there that sell these themes but I can recommend using Theme Forest. Also make sure that the theme you choose is ‘Responsive’ – that means that the design layout will be optimised for the viewer based on what size screen they’re reading your blog from. You can also opt to hire someone to design your own unique theme but that will be a lot more expensive. Please also note that there are a handful of free themes that Wordpress provides but none of them are that great in my opinion.   {note from Scott at BigScoots: after the purchase of a theme from themeforest, because I too recommend the same website, I often as a follow up recommend heading over to upwork or fiverr and finding an individual to customize that theme for you. It is a low cost solution when coupled with the purchase of a theme that can yield a very high quality result.}
  2. Purchase your hosting. As you’ll read more about further on, I love Big Scoots! There are other hosting companies out there but be warned — the bigger and cheaper the company, the worse the service will be. If you’re just starting out then I recommend you begin with the shared hosting which can be just a few dollars per month. The more traffic your blog gets, and the more money it makes, the more likelihood that you’ll need to upgrade your service. I’m currently running on Big Scoot’s Fully Managed Pure SSD VPS but that’s because my blog receives 150K visits per month.
  3. Get a Domain name – When you purchase hosting (step 2), it will often come with a free Domain name. A domain is your blog’s URL or website address. Domains aren’t purchased outright and you will need to renew your domain’s ‘rent’ each year or every two years depending on the deal. If you choose a hosting package that doesn’t come with a free domain you can buy one through the host or through a third party. It usually costs between $10-20 a year.
  4. Install Wordpress – If you already have a wordpress blog hosted with another service, Big Scoots will help you move it over for free. They also don’t charge you to get set-up with a new self-hosted Wordpress site. Afterwards you’ll be set to customize the theme, create blog posts, moderate comments, and install your own plugins (additional features), through your wordpress dashboard.   {note from Scott at BigScoots: We do charge a fee to transfer a site if its coming from a company without a control panel, such as wordpress.com or godaddy. That said, we often times waive this fee and we’re normally super flexible. Our goal is to make our clients move as seamless as possible, one time fees are hardly ever issued.}
A blogger's advice on how to start a successful blog

This is what my Wordpress Dashboard looks like. From here you can manage your blog and create new articles.

What set-up do I use for Lovely Greens?

Lovely Greens is a self-hosted Wordpress site. My blog is currently run on the Wordpress.org platform, I have my own domain (website URL), use a Premium wordpress theme as the design, and I host my site and email through a small but amazing hosting company called BigScoots. I have nothing but praise for their service and the website speed they offer. A little background on how I got here though.

Originally I had my blog running for free on Blogger. I thought I was happy and even had my own domain name and google ads running on the site. I just wasn’t making enough money though and found myself in a pickle. Blogger is limited when it comes to which companies will place ads on your site. Even if you have a lot of traffic, your site will never make as much as others that are self-hosted. You’ll also find that your blog will run slower the more articles and content you have published.

When I’d had enough and was ready to take the plunge I hired a professional to move my site from Blogger to the Wordpress.org platform (not to be confused with the free Wordpress.com service). It cost me hundreds of dollars and if I could go back in time I’d start with Wordpress.org on day one. Please learn from my experience!

A blogger's advice on how to start a successful blog

My experience with other hosting companies

Just before the contractor started work on migrating my site from Blogger to Wordpress I bought a hosting service. Though wordpress is the software for running your blog, your blog’s content needs to be uploaded onto a server (hosted) somewhere. The hosting service, their speed, server types, and customer support are what will save you from ‘techy’ headaches.

At first I started off with Host Papa because it offered a really competitive price. Within days my site was migrated to their server and soon it was up and running. It looked so much better as well because with Wordpress you can easily customize the design using Premium themes. I purchased my current theme through Theme Forest.

My traffic went up and up from there and things were great — then it was so good that I hit a traffic ceiling and the inexpensive hosting service wasn’t cutting it anymore. My site speed was sooooo slow. I looked into options and then decided to change my hosting company.

Switching to GoDaddy was simple, pretty cheap, and at first things were better. Then my site kept going down. Again and again and again. I had terrible issues with getting in touch with their customer service and it cost me every time I had to call them. I remember sitting on the phone waiting for a half-hour at a time.

Third time’s a try and with another blogger’s recommendation I decided to move my site to a small hosting company called BigScoots. Since I’ve moved and upgraded my package I’ve had nothing but excellent service. That’s in both in the speed of my site and their customer service — you even get to know the people you deal with on a first name basis. Since the move my site has been stable and the few issues I’ve had have been dealt with swiftly and professionally.

So after all of that, I’m finally in a happy blogging place where I feel confident in how my blog performs. I’m not a techy person and each time something happens I know I can get in touch with BigScoots and they’ll help me sort it out.


Making an income with a self-hosted Wordpress blog

With a more professional set-up, private ad companies will take you more seriously. You’ll also have a lot more time you can spend researching revenue sources since you’re not stressing about your site. There are a lot of ad networks out there besides Google and many of them pay a lot more.

Another big thing you should know is that if you start a blog with the free Wordpress.com service, Wordpress can place their own ads on your site and you won’t make any money at all. Unless you have over 25,000 page views per month you’re not allowed to place ads on your site. Realistically, you’ll likely not receive that kind of traffic for some time after you start blogging. Oh, and if you’d like to remove the Wordpress.com ads you’ll have to pay $29.97 per year. Yet another reason to start off with a self-hosted solution.

Other ways you’ll be able to make an income with your blog will be using affiliate links (links to products or services), writing or hosting sponsored posts, selling your own products, and working with brands. Once you have your blog set up with a good platform and host you’ll have time to explore all of these options.

A blogger's advice on how to start a successful blog

Image credits: both the main image and the lovely laptop in the tropics image above are courtesy of the Creative Commons.