Lifestyle Travel Tips

How To Start A Blog: A Guide for Beginners

girl on a laptop in a camper van image for how to start a blog

I started blogging in 2013 as a way to update friends and family of my travels and I didn’t start attempting to monetize my blog as a business until late 2017. At which point, I had quit my NYC job, bought a van, and hit the road full-time.

In 2018, my hobby travel and lifestyle blog finally ended up becoming the foundation for my remote income success, and is the main reason why I can now be location independent.

You can find out exactly how I monetize my blog in this post about How I Make Remote Income.


How to Start A Blog Basics

When starting a blog or any website for that matter–you’ll need to do the following three things:

  1. Choose a name and purchase a domain– a domain/URL is like your address on the internet
    • When picking your blog name and domain, I recommend:
      • Doing a quick search on google and then social media platforms to make sure that it isn’t taken anywhere that you might want to use it
      • Choosing something in a niche that interests you and you are passionate about, but also that has room for growth, and keep it short
  2. Pick a web hosting provider– your web host is kind of like a parking spot for all of your website content on a web server. It’s the place where all your images and copy will be stored online
  3. Choose a platform to edit and design your site on– this is the program that you will use to create your site, write your blog posts, etc. It is the platform that you will use on a regular basis to manage your blog.

I personally purchased my domain through GoDaddy, use Cloudways as my website hosting provider, and edit and run my blog through WordPress.org. This entire setup costs about $130/year and is my “rent” for my online business.

Load WordPress Sites in as fast as 37ms!

Cloudways has hosting management plans that start at $10/month, which is VERY affordable for everything that comes with your plan. I have been using them for about 5 years and highly recommend them.

WordPress.org Vs. WordPress.com

WordPress.org is what most bloggers use. If you are trying to start a website or a blog as a business (and not just a hobby), be sure to choose WordPress.org and then find a third-party host (again, I use Cloudways).

Even though WordPress.com is free (up to 3GB of storage), it does NOT allow you to have a custom domain, monetize your site with ads or have an eCommerce store, nor does it let you customize your site, use your own branding, or use plugins and SEO features that will help your site get organic traffic.

WordPress.org offers way more room for growth, customization, and monetization than the free WordPress.com platform version. Here is a longer explanation of the differences between the two platforms.

The great thing about WordPress.org is that you don’t need any coding experience, but if you have some or want to learn, it has room for both beginning bloggers, and advanced web developers.

Connecting your Domain, Host Provider & WordPress

Once you’ve got your domain and your host provider purchased, you’ll need to install WordPress and connect them all.

How to install WordPress on Cloudways:

Step 1: Login to Cloudways

Step 2: Switch from Server to Applications in the top left of your screen

Step 3: In the Applications tab, click on the + Add Application button in the upper-right corner and then again on Add Application in the popup

Step 4: Select the latest version of WordPress, name your blog, then click Add Application (it will take a few minutes for WordPress to install)

Once you create the application, you’ll see www followed by 1. Click on that orange number to access your WordPress URL and login credentials

Connecting your domain to Cloudways:

Step 1: Switch to the Servers section of your website dashboard. Note your server’s IP address (e.g. 35.177.XXX.XXX)

Step 2: Go to the Applications tab and select the application you just created. Next, select Domain Management from the left-hand menu

Step 3: In the Primary Domain field, enter your full domain address including the prefix (e.g. www.spintheglobeproject.com)

Step 4: Login to your domain registrar (e.g. GoDaddy), add an A Record for IP address you noted in Step One. Then, wait for the DNS changes to take place (which can take up to 24-48 hours)

After it’s done, you can check that everything is working correctly by visiting your website URL/domain.

WordPress Themes

Next, if you choose WordPress.org to edit your site, you’ll need to choose a theme, which basically determines the layout and style of your website.

I use a theme called Blossom Feminine Pro ($49/year). There are a ton of free WordPress themes out there though, so this isn’t a necessary expense.

My advice is to find a theme that looks most like the layout you envision for your website so that you don’t have to do as much tweaking and editing to get that perfect look.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Finally, if you choose to get into blogging as your means of remote income, you should learn about SEO and harness its power early on. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s how you get free organic traffic on your website by making your pages and posts search engine friendly.

If you end up starting your blog on WordPress, I highly recommend downloading the plugin “Yoast SEO.” It will ease the process of mastering SEO, and its free features will guide you through each step, page by page, and post by post.

Some Helpful FREE Blogging Resources

When you’re ready to learn more about SEO, here is a free extensive Beginners Guide to SEO (by MOZ).

I also found these two free resources really helpful in my own process of enhancing my blog:

Affordable Blogging Course I Recommend

After a lot of trial and error on my own blogging journey, I eventually decided to invest in myself and paid for a few blogging courses.

Nomadic Matt’s Superstar Blogging Course in particular, really changed things for me, and allowed me to quickly go from a hobby blog to a website that actually made me a substantial passive income.

Nomadic Matt is one of the most successful travel bloggers in the world and The Business of Travel Blogging course starts at $79/month (which is very affordable compared to most programs out there).

You can cancel anytime, and if you cancel within 14 days, you get a full refund. I highly recommend investing in yourself and getting the quarterly or annual plan though, so you can benefit from the savings bundles he offers.

Nomadic Matt‘s course/mentorship program provides you with:

  • Weekly Q&As and strategy calls
  • Unlimited tech support
  • Notes and edits on your writing
  • A community forum to interact and network with other students
  • A collab board so you can get links and guest posts and gain readers faster!
  • Bonus webinars from the most successful online creators in the world
  • Real-world assignments to keep you motivated

You will find this blogging course helpful if you want to avoid all the trial and error of learning things the hard way, want one-on-one mentorship, want direct and simplified step by step lessons, industry secrets, and access to networking with successful creators and other bloggers.

I recommend investing early on and saving yourself a headache! This course would have been much more valuable to me, if had I taken it when I first started out and would have saved me from making countless mistakes and wasting months of my time learning the hard way from trial and error.

The bottom line is that making money from blogging is A LOT of work (especially in the beginning), it involves a lot of hustling, and you will probably need to combine it with a few other means of remote income to live off of. Most importantly, you will need to master SEO, affiliate marketing and sponsorships to become successful.

Fortunately, Nomadic Matt guides you through all of that so you can learn how to make enough money to support yourself and your dreams!

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Anna French

Anna is an optimist with pessimistic tendencies who enjoys making a short story long, her coffee black, and watching Friends re-runs. These days you can catch her in her natural habitats wandering through forest roads in her van, hiking to a waterfall or glacial lake, and learning about off-grid living the hard way.

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