How to Get Your First Blog or Website Online and Start Making Money Online
“There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait”.
-Alexander Hamilton in the musical Hamilton
Total transparency: We’re proud to be affiliated with the companies we use and recommend and may receive compensation for doing so.
I’m heading into New York City from the suburbs of Philly in a just few hours to see the famed Hamilton production. I’m so excited – I can feel the anticipation starting to crawl up the back of my neck like an army of ants.
But… before I head out the door, I want to make sure I get this post up and live for you. Because learning how to set up a blog to generate passive income online is one of the core pieces to being able to do the “million things” that you want to do but may not have done just yet.
Today you’re going to learn how to start a WordPress blog (I’ll use blog and site interchangeably in this tutorial) step-by-step with nothing left out.
Here’s the thing… I’m not great at bragging about myself, but I’m told I need to tell you that it’s possible and fun to make a full time living online.
I’ve been making a full-time living working from home (or anywhere else there is an internet connection) for over 10 years.
I’m a real guy, doing this for real every single day. For the past 10+ years, I’ve made a good living without reporting to a boss, without putting on a tie (unless I want to), AND without sitting at a suffocating soul-sucking cube.
I’m not going to post pictures of me with a Lamborghini or anything like that. Because I don’t really care about stuff like that. I care about freedom. And the definition of freedom to me is being able to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want; without having to answer to anybody, ever for anything.
If FREEDOM is what you care about, then keep reading. Because today I’m going to hand you one of the keys to a lifestyle filled to the brim with freedom and possibility.
I’m going to show you how to set up a site that you own and control.
Look… I’m not going to lie to you. There are lots of methods for making income online. But if you want to make a long-term, permanent income then you need to have websites and email lists that are yours and yours alone.
That’s why you shouldn’t start your blog on a free platform like Blogger or WordPress.com (not to be confused with your own self-hosted WordPress blog). These are both good platforms, but they are owned and controlled by someone else.
You want your site to be on your own domain and on a host that YOU pay for and control. The cost is minimal, but the long-term payoff can be HUGE.
One of the easiest, most flexible, and most affordable ways to have your own site is to use the WordPress platform to build it. I’m not talking about setting up a blog at WordPress.com, instead, I’m talking about installing the WordPress software onto a domain and hosting account that YOU own, and this is easier than it sounds.
When WordPress first came out, it was mostly a blogging platform. And it can still be used strictly for blogging. But now it can also be used in many other robust ways. Including, but not limited to, membership sites, sales pages, content that makes money, list-building and nearly anything else you can imagine.
For most people that have businesses with an online component, a WordPress site is and/or should be one of the basic pieces of that business.
Setting up a WordPress Blog is EASY. So, let’s get started!
Step 1. Decide on Your Domain Name
For many people, choosing a domain name can be an excruciating process. There is a myth that all the “good” domain names are already taken. And while it’s true that many names like pets.com or diapers.com are registered, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get a great branded domain name for your business.
I’m going to show you exactly how to register your domain name in a moment, but first let me go over a few general rules for choosing the domain name you’re going to use.
1. Always use a .com extension
There are a lot of domain extensions on the market today: .us, .net, .org to name just a few. But the most recognized and widely used domain extension is still a .com.
And most people will type in .com rather than other extensions into their browser. So, I always register all my sites as .coms.
2. Don’t use hyphens
It’s tempting to use a hyphen in your domain name in order to get the name you want. This would look something like My-Fair-Lady.com.
But hyphens are a bad idea. They make your site look spammy and unprofessional. And they are hard to remember.
3. Do use unusual word smashups
I like the domains that I buy to have some level of relevance to the niche I’m going into, but your domain no longer has to be a specific keyword phrase or keyword. That means that you can get creative with your domain and still have it work well.
For example, if you were going into the knitting niche and creating a site all about knitting then you may want to consider names like:
When you smash up words like this, you can get interesting and unique domain names that tell people what you’re about and stay relatively short.
I usually find out if a domain name is available through a domain name registration company like GoDaddy or Namecheap.
Simply type the name of the domain you want in the search bar at the top and it will tell you it’s already been bought. It can take some creativity to find a good domain name, but the effort is worth it.
When it comes to buying the domain name you choose you can do that one of two ways. You can buy your domain name straight through your web hosting company or you can buy your domain name using a separate domain name registrar like GoDaddy.com or NameCheap.com.
Buying your domain directly through your web hosting company is a little bit easier (more on that below), but I personally prefer to have my domain names registered at a separate place from where I have my hosting. I personally buy all my domain names from NameCheap.com.
Okay, you’ve brainstormed some domain names, found one that you like and is available.
You can either purchase your domain name from a domain registration company as mentioned above or you can purchase it directly from your web host… which we’ll talk about in the next step.
Step 2. Decide on a Web Host
To get started setting up your blog, you’ll need to have a place for your website to live, this is your web hosting account.
A hosting provider is like an apartment or house for your blog. It’s where your blog lives on the internet. That way, when someone types in your web address – like InternetIncomeCoach.com – the web browser knows where to find your site.
Without a host, your site doesn’t exist on the web.
Choosing the RIGHT host is important.
Bad hosts can slow down your site and cost you visitors and traffic – which will cost you money in the long run. Slower sites don’t get ranked as well in Google and are more expensive to send paid traffic to.
There are several levels of hosting that you can get – depending on the traffic that your site receives. These plans can range from $3.95 a month up to several hundred or even thousands of dollars a month.
If you are just starting out, you don’t need to spend a lot of money.
A plan between $3.95 a month and $11.95 a month will work perfectly fine for anyone just getting started online or transferring their from an old host to a new host. As you continue to grow your online business and get more traffic you can always upgrade to a more robust plan.
Important Note: There are higher level and more robust plans that come with more dedicated server space and get more complicated as you go. I have quite a bit of traffic that goes to my site and I STILL use an inexpensive shared hosting plan that works great. You don’t really need a more expensive plan until you get well over 100,000+ visitors a month to your site.
The hosting company that I currently use, recommend, and am very happy with is SiteGround.
The two primary reasons I use and recommend SiteGround are:
- They are superior when it comes to website speed and performance (your sites will load FAST)
- They have amazingly fast and competent technical support (which I rarely have to use)
They have great customer service, an exclusive app that speeds up your WordPress site, and an easy to use interface. I use them for every one of my sites and my sites load FAST.
Side Note: If you’ve been online for any amount of time or have done any research on this topics then you know that almost every online marketing “guru” out there recommends either HostGator or Bluehost for web hosting.
I’ve hosted my sites with both of these companies up until a couple of years ago – after they got bought out by a company called EIG. Once EIG took over HostGator, then Bluehost, my sites started to load extremely slow, went down (offline) multiple times a day, and the customer support became very poor… which is why I can no longer use or recommend these hosting services.
It’s really unfortunate to see so many online “gurus” (who I can only assume are motivated by high affiliate commissions) to continue to recommend Bluehost, HostGator, and other EIG owned companies in light of the extremely poor performance and service.
Let’s take a look at how SiteGround tacks up to the usual suspects in terms of performance and support.
SiteGround Website Speed
One of the most important things to consider when purchasing any web host is how fast your website will load.
I’m sure you’ve been on websites that load lightning fast and other sites where it seems to take forever for the website to load. A slow loading website is not good!
The chart below shows how SiteGround stacks up against 12 of the most popular web host companies on the market right now including Bluehost, HostGator, iPage, Fatcow, Justhost, ASmallOrange, Inmotion, WebhostingHub, Arvixe, GoDaddy, GreenGeeks, and A2Hosting.
The average industry page load time was 4.7 seconds (this is completely unacceptable), while SiteGround’s page load speed was 1.68 seconds. (Remember the slower your site loads the lower it will rank in Google and the more likely your visitors will leave your website!)
In addition to their superior page loading speed, SiteGround also offers a service called SuperCacher which makes your website load even faster.
As you can see, by adding the SiteGround SuperCacher, page load speed on SiteGround dropped to a remarkable 1.3 seconds.
SuperCacher is including free with SiteGround.
SiteGround Traffic and Performance
Another key thing to consider with your web host is how much traffic your web host can handle.
You’ve probably heard (or have even been the victim) of a website shutting down if it gets too much traffic – this is a worse case scenario.
The chart below shows how many website visitors (or hits) SiteGround can handle in two minutes compared to the industry averages.
The average web host is able to handle an average of 2,852 hits while SiteGround is 3 times as many hits of 8,276 visitors. But it gets even better because of the SiteGround SuperCacher…
With SiteGround SuperCacher enabled SiteGround is able to handle over 230,000 hits every two minutes. You read that right… over 230,000 hits every two minutes vs 2,852 industry average.
This means it’s very unlikely you’ll ever have to worry about your website going down, even during periods of very high traffic, such as a product launch or a piece of content going viral.
SiteGround Customer Support
Another thing that is very important to me in a web host is
good great customer support.
Based on my own personal experience with the web hosts mentioned above I very frequently had issues with my website being slow and going offline. Contacting their customer support was extremely frustrating as there were extremely long wait times and the tech support staff were generally incompetent.
In the rare occasions that I’ve had to contact SiteGround customer support, I found them to be extremely fast and very competent at actually resolving my issues.
Let see exactly how SiteGround customer support compares to the competition…
SiteGround Phone Support
Sometimes you have a pressing issue and the most effective way to deal with it by talking with someone on the phone. I don’t know many people who like waiting on the phone on hold…
Out of the 12 most popular web hosts, only three web hosting providers including SiteGround had no wait time, 6 of the web hosts had a short wait time, and 4 hosts had a long wait time. Also, out of all the web hosting platforms on the market 90% of web hosts have no U.S. based phone support at all.
SiteGround Live Chat Support
LiveChat is my favorite way to get support and resolve issues. I’ve personally used SiteGround LiveChat support a couple of times (and have also used other hosting companies LiveChat support as well). The chart below is congruent with my actual experience.
On average SiteGround is able to resolve a support issue in 5 minutes via LiveChat while the other popular web hosts had an average wait time of 10 minutes before even answering chat and an average resolution time of 21 minutes.
SiteGround Ticket Support
If I have a non-pressing support related issue or question usually I’ll simply submit a support ticket.
As you’d expect by now, SiteGround’s customer support is again superior other popular web hosting companies in this area as well.
The average first reply to a support ticket is 8 minutes versus an industry average of 8 hours and as long as 18.5 hours. That’s a lot of time to make you feel blue about your hosting provider!
How to Start a Blog with SiteGround Web Hosting
Hopefully, by now I’ve shown you that based on my own personal experience and independent tests that SiteGround is a superior and budget-friendly web host. With that said, let’s take a look at how easy it is to get started with SiteGroud as well as look at which plan I recommend.
Guiding your customers through the signup process is a great way to increase your conversions. We have prepared some screenshots below that you can use on your website. You can take any of the screenshots with a right click on the image and selecting “Save image as”.
1. Choose your hosting plan
SiteGround has three plans you can choose from, StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek.
So which one should you go with? Here are my recommendations:
- The StartUp plan is good if you’re just getting your feet wet with blogging and online marketing, just have one website, or don’t really have commercial intent with your site (just doing this as a hobby).
- The GrowBig plan is the best value plan in my opinion. This plan gives you the ability to have multiple websites and most importantly gives you the SuperCacher feature I discussed above which significantly speeds up your website. This is the plan I usually recommend to my coaching clients.
- The GoGeek plan is perfect for sites that are getting 25,000 to 100,000 visitors per month. Most people aren’t going to start with the plan but can certainly upgrade into it when their site grows.
Step 2. Choosing Domain
After you choose the plan you want to go with, you’ll then choose your domain name (remember the things to keep in mind when selecting a domain name above).
If you don’t already have a domain name or want a new one you can register your domain name directly with SiteGround.
If you already have a domain name or purchased one with a separate registrar you’ll simply enter that information here.
Note: If you already have a WordPress site with another web host and are transferring your website to SiteGround, they offer a free website transfer where they’ll handle all of the tech work of moving your site from your old host to them – which can save you a lot of money or DIY tech headaches.
This is available for the GrowBig and GoGeek plans, which is another reason I usually recommend my coaching clients go with the GrowBig plan.
Step 3. Review and Complete
The final step is to review and complete your order.
What I particularly like about SiteGround is that you can lock in the special introductory pricing for up to 3 years, saving hundreds of dollars a year.
If you can swing it, I’d recommend paying 36 months in full up front to maximize your savings, as you’ll probably end up being really happy and sticking with SiteGround for the long haul.
If not, no worries, just go ahead and go with a one year paid up in full.
Step 3. Add Your Domain to Your Host
Note: If you decided to purchase your domain name directly from your web hosting provider then you can go ahead and skip to the next step.
If you bought your domain through a separate registrar like GoDaddy or NameCheap please follow these instructions to “point” your domain to SiteGround (or whatever web host you choose).
I remember when I first heard the word “point” in relation to web hosting that I was entirely confused. This is an industry term that means “tell your domain registrar where your domain lives on the web “. To do this you’ll need something called nameservers from SiteGround.
Here’s how to do it:
- Get your nameservers from SiteGround. You can ask customer service what they are for your account or get them through the process listed here. I always copy and paste them into a notepad file for reference.
- Once you have the nameservers follow these steps:
- Log in to the dashboard of your domain registrar company.
- Locate where it says nameservers and click “change”.
- Select custom under “choose your new nameserver type”.
- Enter the nameservers you got from SiteGround.
Once you’ve changed your nameservers it takes 24 to 48 hours for your site to “propagate” at the new host. This is simply the process of your domain registrar (GoDaddy or NameCheap) telling the Internet where your website will live.
Once your website is propagated you can install WordPress through SiteGround – which is fast and easy.
Note: if any of this tech stuff is making your head spin, then just simply buy your domain name directly from your web host and your domain name and hosting account will automatically be linked together. It’s a couple of dollars more for the domain name but can save you from the tech headaches.
Step 4. Install WordPress through Your SiteGround cPanel
I remember looking at an instruction like this when I started and going “what the heck is a cPanel”. A cPanel is the control panel for your site. It’s not where you’ll be managing most the day-to-day operations of your WordPress site, but it’s where you’ll install WordPress and set up email addresses. Here’s how to install WordPress using cPanel:
1. Login to SiteGround.
This is the login that you got when you purchased your SiteGround hosting.
2. Click on the my accounts tab.
3. Find your domain that you pointed to SiteGround and click on the “manage account” button.
4. Click on the “cPanel” button.
5. Scroll down to where it says “auto installers” and click on the WordPress icon.
6. Hit the install button.
7. Change your settings.
- You want to change your site name as well as your site description. They show up in the search engines, so it’s a good idea to get something that represents who you are in there now. You can always change your site name and description later as well.
- Change your admin username and admin password. This will be the username and password you use to log into your site, so make sure you jot this down.
8. Click on complete installation and go to the admin panel for your WordPress site.
Your admin panel will be your URL plus wp-admin (ex: LlamaKnitting.com/wp-admin).
9. Sign in to your WordPress site.
- Click into your admin panel URL or copy and paste it into your web browser.
- Enter your username and password (the ones you saved) into the form.
- You now have WordPress set up and are in! Congratulations!
That’s all there is to it, you now have your website/blog live on the internet.
Of course this just the starting point, but it’s a major milestone because nothing happens until you start something.