Have you always wanted to start a blog? Maybe you want to document your hobbies (surfing?), travels, pet stories, recipes, or just want to show off your photography. Or, maybe you need to make a website for your business or side job. Whatever it is, you can easily and quickly do it in just an hour or two. It’s really that simple, even if you’ve never done it before.
I started The Surfing Handbook back in 2006 (!) and it’s seen several facelifts and updates since then. However, one thing is certain, everything I’ve learned by setting it up has been crucial in terms of learning how to make sites, monetizing my sites to earn money, and how to showcase my video projects across the internet through my other site, www.leashless.tv.
I now make a living just through the money I make through the various websites I have created, from language learning sites to software reviews. This has allowed me the freedom to pursue travel and surfing on my own time. The Surfing Handbook is my passion project. It’s the first blog I ever started, and the one that showed me it was possible to make a bit of passive money just from writing about something I love. I LOVE surfing, and I hope it shows through in the writing.
I can guarantee that if you put a little bit of effort in, you could create a blog that will earn you enough extra money to take a vacation or buy a new surfboard…..or even more. It really just depends on how much effort you want to put into it – generating cash from the internet is remarkably simple, it just takes a bit of patience in the beginning because your site needs to gain a bit of momentum before generating enough traffic to start earning. After that, it’s pretty much hands off! This is how I took my first surf trip, moved across the country to California, and traveled to Puerto Rico, Australia, Portugal, Mexico, and more.
If you want to make a bit of extra cash just from posting about things you love, you can start for as little as $3.95 a month.
However, all that is to say that ANYONE can start a blog and I’m here to tell you how.
1. Get A Hosting Provider
There are hundreds of hosting providers out there. It can be mind-numbing to try to choose one…it feels like you’re playing pin the tail on the donkey. So I’ll just cut through the crap and tell you that there are a couple very tried and true hosting providers that give you the best service and support for the money.
- Are you a first-timer just starting out? BlueHost is the way to go. At $3.95 per month with a free domain name, this is the perfect service for folks just looking for the cheapest and simplest way to start off. BlueHost has an amazingly simple signup and WordPress installation process. They are recommended by WordPress itself as the perfect hosting company to start up a blog.
- For those who don’t mind purchasing a domain name upfront, A2 Hosting is our other top choice. I just moved The Surfing Handbook to A2’s Turbo package because of our higher traffic volumes (A2 offers advanced caching technology and SSD hosting) and so far I have LOVED A2’s overall service. They start at only $3.92 per month for their speed boosted WordPress plan.
2. Choose A Domain Name / Blog Name
Maybe this is a no brainer and you’ve had the perfect website or blog name running through your head for months. Or maybe you need to sit down and brainstorm a few ideas. Don’t get too stressed, this isn’t permanent and you can always change it later. However, it’s a good idea to start out with something you like, as changing it can be a bit of a process.
When I’m trying to figure out a new name for a site I like to go with old fashioned pen and paper and just write down words I like, trying to combine them into something I like that has meaning and a good “ring” to it. This is how I named my latest travel website venture, Voyage Afield.
The challenge here is that you have to think of something that hasn’t already been done before, and the domain has to be available. I highly recommend that you start with .com if you’re starting out, unless you have a very specific reason to use another extension like .net, .org, or one of the many new ones that have popped up. For example, I used .tv for my video and film site because it’s media based and gives it a bit of a ring to it.
3. Install Your Blog On Your Host
This part might seem daunting, but if you’ve chosen either BlueHost or A2 Hosting as I’ve recommended above, it’s going to be really easy. I promise. I have written walkthroughs of how to get set up for both BlueHost and A2 Hosting! Find the appropriate tab below and click it to bring up instructions for the host you’ve chosen to go with.
Click the appropriate tab below!
1. Click here to head to BlueHost, and click the green “Get Started” button:
2. Pick a plan:
You can choose a more expensive plan to start, however if you’re just getting your feet wet I would recommend just going with the cheapest option for now–so click the “basic” one to the left. You can always easily upgrade later.
3. Enter Your Domain Name
Fairly self explanatory–just enter the domain name you have come up with into the box on the left. You can also move past this step if you just want to buy your plan and think of your domain later. If the domain name you’ve chosen is not available, you’ll have to pick another one.
4. Enter Your Account Details
Enter all your relevant information into the fields, and then pick your payment plan. Signing up for more months gives you cheaper pricing overall, and you won’t be worried about your site disappearing in case a credit card expires or you forget to renew. You don’t really need their extras to start off, and you can always add them later, so I would untick those boxes.
5. Choose a Password And Log In
This is very straightforward; I highly recommend creating a unique and complex password and storing it in a safe place. Don’t re-use your passwords. I used to do that, and when a hacker figured it out I had a not so fun time changing ALL of my passwords on all the different sites I had used it on.
6. Pick A Theme
Pick a theme that you like! I highly recommend starting with a very simple theme so you don’t overwhelm yourself. You can change the theme later. Pick one you like or click “skip this step”.
7. Click “Start Building”
8. Follow the tutorial to set up your blog and start your first post
BlueHost has included a walkthrough for setting up your site, making it extremely easy for beginners and those who aren’t super computer literate. They will help you choose your site name, the layout, and more. I recommend skipping the “Jetpack” installation steps because you don’t need it and I am actually not a huge fan of Jetpack.
Sometimes your blog will be set up on a “temporary” domain name while the new domain name you purchased gets set up in the background. This can take anywhere from a couple minutes to a few hours. But don’t worry about it – once it’s done BlueHost will place your site onto the correct domain name.
In the WordPress dashboard you will see a menu on the left side. Click “Posts” and click on “Add New”. It will then open up the WordPress editor where you can write your first post. Although using WordPress itself is beyond the scope of this guide, there is plentiful free information out there on how to use WordPress. Start with the WordPress official documentation at this link: https://codex.wordpress.org/Getting_Started_with_WordPress
9. Admire Your Work!
You are now the proud owner of a new WordPress website! Whether for personal or business, running a website is fun and addictive. Enjoy!
A2 Hosting has a few more bells and whistles on their website, which might seem overwhelming at first. But once you get your blog set up everything will be a piece of cake. And don’t worry, soon you’ll be a pro at hosting your own site thanks to A2’s helpful knowledgebase and tech support crew.
1. Head To A2 Hosting And Pick A Plan
If you’re just starting out, the “Lite” plan is really all you need to get started. A2 Hosting is very fast out of the gate, and when you’re just starting out you won’t have enough traffic to really necessitate any extra bandwidth or disk space. You can always add these on later as your site grows.
2. Pick Your Domain
Enter the domain that you want for your blog. If the domain is unavailable the system will let you know.
3. Choose Your Plan Options And Billing Cycle
The billing cycle is totally up to you: to get the cheapest per month plan you will need to purchase one of the higher billing cycles. However, there are certain advantages to this; you won’t have to worry about forgetting to renew your website or having it lapse due to an expired credit card.
The additional extras are not necessary. I don’t recommend anything that isn’t free on this screen. The good news is that they have left all of these extras turned off, so you don’t have to remove any “hidden” fees. Leave everything as-is and simply select your billing cycle.
Ensure that in the “Auto Install Applications” that WordPress – A2 Optimized is selected. This will have the system automatically install your blog. Write down the admin and password given to you in a safe place. Password will be case-sensitive.
4. Choose DNS Options
You can select DNS Management and Email fowarding. In fact I definitely recommend these two options.
ID Protection is a fancy name for WhoIs Privacy. This will hide your name from anyone doing a WhoIs search on your domain name.
Then, continue to the checkout and enter your personal and payment information on the next screen.
5. Head To Your Domain And Log In!
It may take a little while for your new domain name to resolve and start working. It just depends – I’ve had domains work right away, and some take around an hour. Simply type the domain you’ve purchased into your address bar and voila! Your WordPress site is up!
A2 Hosting creates a special address for the WordPress login when it’s auto-installed. This adds another level of security from hackers. To find this address simply scroll down to the bottom of your WordPress site and find the Meta Login, and click Log In. Then, enter the information you recorded in the previous step when you were signing up!
6. Admire Your Work!
And that’s it! You are now the proud owner of a WordPress blog on A2 Hosting! You can change the theme, add posts, and more. Although using WordPress itself is beyond the scope of this particular post, there is a ton of free information on the internet on how to start using WordPress. You can click for WordPress official documentation: https://codex.wordpress.org/Getting_Started_with_WordPress
4. Start Blogging!
Whatever your site is about, don’t worry about making everything perfect right from the start. The Surfing Handbook has been through several different formats and facelifts over the years. I’ve thrown out posts and content and changed the focus of the site a couple of different times. The point is to just create content; once you gain some momentum it will get easier and easier.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me, however if it has to do with a technical issue you will probably get a better and more detailed response by asking your hosting provider 🙂