How To Start A Blog To Make Extra Money In 2018

How To Start A Blog
How To Start A Blog

Have you always wanted to learn how 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.

Can You Make Money Blogging?

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.

How To Start A Blog – For Fun Or Profit?

Some people may say that you should start a blog just for the passion of writing and not for the money.  But believe me, you can do both!  Having the carrot at the end of the stick to earn money from my blog is what kept me motivated to keep blogging in the first place.  The reason people don’t make money with their blogs is either that 1.) they quit or 2.) they aren’t trying.

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. Here is a step by step guide to starting a blog:

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.

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 it’s going to be really easy.  I promise.  I have written a walkthrough of how to get set up on BlueHost to make it easy!

Watch my video on setting up your blog in 10 minutes, or follow the walkthrough below:

1. Click here to head to BlueHost, and click the green “Get Started” button:

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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!

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4. Start Blogging!

Whatever your site is about, don’t worry about making everything perfect right from the start.  You’ll never learn how to start a blog perfectly from day one, so don’t worry about making mistakes.  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 🙂

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Hayley Gordon

Hayley is an avid surfer and the founder of this website. She splits her time surfing between Encinitas, CA and Montauk, NY.

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One Comment

  1. Wow girl, thanx for the clarity in “how to start a blog.” I just spent hours @ two different sites on start-up blogging. Dude it was like they took a drop of ocean water dissected it, rerouted, bleached it, then pasteurized it to its lowest common denominator! “Huh what dude!? Basically long-board short-story <(good name4ablog?). U took a drop of ocean water! = ur article: & told me "open your hand", know what!", that's what i got 1 drop of o-water. Thanks for pointing me to the right "sets"… P.s. BTW I'm a longboarder myself, my sister lives in Oceanside, Cali. When I visit her to get outta Arizona i bring my longboard. Thank you so much girl, surf safe and pee in your wetsuit to keep warm!" Ayyyee.

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