How To Start an Income Blog (Mini Course)

Make Money Online, Start Your Blog, WordPress

start-income-blogStarting a blog isn't very hard.

Visit WordPress.com or Blogger.com. You can setup a blog for free and begin blogging. This is perfect if you want to simply share your personal experiences with friends and family. This works for millions of people.

But wait! Don't visit those sites! (I don't think that is what you want.)

An income blog is different than a personal one.

To make money with your blog, you need to setup the right platform.

Is this Income Blog Mini Course For You?

If you want to make money with your blog and are ready to invest in it, then this mini course is for you.

You will need to invest both time and money in your new business.

While it isn't expensive, blogging is like any other business: you will have to spend some money to create the platform where you can really begin making money. So much of any business is trial and error. Suppliers, customer segments, marketing and products are tried and adjusted as required. Wouldn't it be great to know the recipe to building your business?

We've been blogging for many years and I've spent thousands of dollars on training, themes, plugins and online services. Some worked – others not at all.

In this short course you’ll get my recipe – a cheat-sheet of the products, services and training that I both use and would buy again – if I had to start over. Are you ready? Let's get started!

The course is broken into 2 sections:

  1. The Short Version: What you need to know to start right now. It is what we are currently using to run our sites.
  2. The Long (Detailed) Version: If you want to understand specifics and your other options then this will be perfect for you.

The Short Version: Cheat Sheet

If you don’t want all the explanation and just want to buy/download the stuff and get started, this first part is for you. Some of these suggestion are premium while others are inexpensive, even free. These are the actual tools and services we use to run our business. If you would like other options, see the long version below.

  1. Choose your blog niche: Before you buy, register or do anything else, read this post about your blog niche. If you already know your topic, move to step 2.
  2. Buy your domain name: Visit GoDaddy and purchase your domain name. Choose a minimum term of 5 years with private registration. If you aren't sure of which domain name to choose, learn more about choosing a domain name. Cost: $75 (roughly)
  3. Buy your hosting: Go to HostGator and purchase the Baby Plan on a one year contract. Cost: $95.52
  4. Buy Thesis:  Go to DIYThemes and purchase Thesis Professional. Cost: $197
  5. Choose your Thesis skin: either use the basic free skin included or choose from one of these Thesis skin designers: Themedy, Thesis Awesome or Kolakube. Cost: Free – $67
  6. Buy these plug-ins: Optin Skin $67 (list building), BlogVault $9 / month (site backup), Easy Redirect Script $77 (affiliate link management).
  7. Signup with Aweber: Visit Aweber (email marketing) and sign up for the $1 trial account. After the first month, Cost: $19 per month
  8. Order these books: The Four Hour WorkweekAttention! This Book Will Make You Money and Bloggers Boot Camp and read them over the next 4-6 weeks.

Share this post: If you have found this to be useful, please take a minute to share the link with a friend or colleague – it may be just what they need.

Looking for more detail? Below the image is the detailed course. Remember – there are free/inexpensive and premium ways to do almost every step. Just choose the combination that's right for your blog.

See the full set of tools and services we use to run our business in our Blogging Resources.

starting point income blog

Start an Income Blog: The Long Version

In this course, you’ll learn the following:

  1. Blogging Overview: Learn about choosing your blog niche, blogging frequency, monetization and commenting systems 
  2. How to buy your blog hosting
  3. How to choose your WordPress theme
  4. Which plugins you should use
  5. How to build your email list – and why you need one
  6. How to track your progress
  7. Additional reading and reference

1) Blogging Overview

In this section, you’ll learn some of the basics of blogging, such as choosing your blog niche, blogging frequency, monetization and commenting systems. If you want to get to the tools, skip ahead to section 2.

Choosing a Blog Niche

Choose narrow and own it. When we started our first blog, we were super general (destination-ecuador.com) and planned on covering everything about Ecuador. And in a very sterile way. After reading the book Attention! we changed both our name and our approach. We re-branded our site to GringosAbroad and made it a family travel/expat blog. We wrote from our own experiences – with personality, and people loved it! While we had trouble attracting attention to our first site – the adjusted site is now the most popular English language travel / expat site in the country.

Blogs are popular because they aren't sterile corporate-speak. Write about what’s important to you, with your emotion and humor. People will be able to relate to you and you’ll build a loyal community.

Further reading: How to determine your blog niche.

Blogging Frequency

Some of the popular blogging books and bloggers advocate posting a minimum of once per day. Recently there has been a shift in that mindset. Publishing everyday (or even multiple times per day) puts the focus on volume.

Quality will suffer – eventually – at such a high rate. When we first started, we published 5-6 times per week. Recently I had to go back through those older posts and delete dozens of them – the quality just wasn't there.

Instead of focusing on the number of posts – focus on helping people.

Address a concern or question that is common among your readers (or one you imagine will be) and solve it. Tell them the issues involved and what they need to consider. Include video tutorials, links and clear photos. Many bloggers aim for 400-600 word posts. Instead, you should aim for 1000-3000 words. Make it epic. Readers will become advocates for your site and it will be shared socially. Create a huge set of these types of posts and your site will quickly become an authority in its niche.

Of course, there is a minimum posting frequency that you should follow. We aim to publish a minimum of 3-4 times per month – once every 7-10 days. We follow this minimum even when we are traveling, working on another project or on vacation. Once you establish a pattern, its important to stick to it – your readers will expect that of you. There is nothing more disappointing than finding a blog that answers your questions – and then noticing that they haven't updated in months.

A blog without recent posts is a dead blog.

Blog Monetization

monetize-blog-nicheWhile many people start a blog with the intention of selling a specific product, there is a better way. Begin blogging and build your community first.

Community building includes more than getting traffic. Interact and build a following across social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc) and your email list.

Once you have a group of people who trust and respect you, you’ll learn what interests and troubles them. You’ll be in a position to create an educational product (e-book, course, consulting) that will be just what they are looking for.

Remember: build an audience then find a way to monetize it. If your niche is well chosen, you won’t have any trouble.

Further reading: How we make money with our travel blog

Commenting System

I have experimented with the top three systems (Disqus, Livefyre and IntenseDebate) and I dislike them all. They frequently have errors and functional issues. And while they generally don’t require users to register to leave a comment – their format can confuse and frustrate commenters. Unless one of these commenting systems has become the standard in your industry, I recommend not using any of them.

The alternative to these systems is the already-installed WordPress commenting system. Because it is part of WordPress it always works. There is never a need to log-in or connect-with-Facebook so it increases the level of interaction. There are four simple fields: name, email, website (optional) and comment. There are plugins that add more options (social sharing, subscription, etc) to the comments. The only one I use is Subscribe to Comments (see more in the Plugin section).

2) Purchase Your Hosting

I've hosted with many different companies. The one that I recommend is HostGator. As you get started you will need just their basic shared hosting plan. Their service is stable and their customer service knowledgeable. And you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal. I recommend the Baby Plan because you can host all your sites within the one hosting plan.

They offer three hosting plans:

  1. Hatchling Plan: One Domain, unlimited bandwidth and disk-space. Cost: $5.56/month with 1 year commitment.
  2. Baby Plan: Unlimited Domains, bandwidth and disk-space. Cost: $7.96/month with 1 year commitment.
  3. Business Plan: Same as Baby Plan (unlimited domains, bandwidth and disk-space) plus  free Private SSL & IP and Toll Free Number. Cost: $11.96/month with 1 year commitment.

Pricing reduces even further with a two or three year commitment.

A key feature of HostGator is that you can start out with a very inexpensive, albeit powerful, hosting plan and then upgrade to either VPS or Dedicated hosting – without having to switch hosting companies.

HostGator offers a number of entry level packages at a very low cost. Their customer service is exceptional – both in terms of short wait times and in solving problems.

We also host two of our larger sites with MediaTemple – a cloud-based host. If you are just getting started, HostGator will be all you need.

Further reading: How to choose your blog hosting.

start-blog-wordpress-theme

3) Choose Your WordPress Theme

There are three options (aside from designing it yourself) for WordPress themes.

  1. Free Themes: WordPress provides free themes (Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven and Twenty Twelve) that come as part of your WordPress installation. They load fast and work smooth. They are not very easy to customize but might work for you if you are on a budget. You should consider upgrading to a more robust theme as your site grows. WooThemes – a low cost option – also offers 15+ free themes. They are worth checking out. If cost is a concern, I think a free WooTheme is your best option.
  2. Low-cost Themes: WooThemes is a favorite of mine. When I was getting started I used a number of WooThemes. They are produced by fluent English speakers (different from many of the lower cost themes) which means you’ll understand all the instructions. Sounds funny – but some of the other theme designs are frustrating to use because of poor English. WooThemes has a ton of theme options, and they offer a buy-1 get-2-more-for-free deal. It’s great if you are planning a couple of sites (or if you just can’t make up your mind). They also produce a set of eCommerce themes known as WooCommerce.
  3. Premium Theme: If you are serious about blogging and have a little money to invest – I recommend that you choose Thesis from the beginning.  The Thesis framework isn't cheap. There are three options. You get the same framework with all options. The biggest difference is support. The less expensive option only gives you 12 months of upgrades. That means in a year from now, you’ll have to pay to get the latest version of the framework. With Thesis Professional you get lifetime access. You also get a couple of free skins with the two premium versions. Choose from Thesis Basic ($87), Thesis Basic Plus ($164) or Thesis Professional($197). You can use them on unlimited number of your own sites. In addition to the theme, you'll also need a skin – that you can get here: ThemedyThesis Awesome or Kolakube. A free skin comes with the theme as well.

BryanHaines is powered by Thesis Professional.

What is a WordPress Theme?

wordpress-logo

The theme is what makes a WordPress installation look like “your site”. It takes the basic looking free theme and makes your site look like an authority. A theme gives your site/blog its appearance.

  • WordPress is the back-end – it is a content management system (known as CMS).
  • The theme/skin manages the front-end: the width, colors, fonts and function of your site.

A good theme will allow customizations so you can test conversion rates and increase page views (or whatever your desired action is). Free themes should be avoided. Low cost themes (under $50) have their place but I’ll never use them again. I've used a number of frameworks (Pagelines, Genesis and Thesis) and I feel strongly that only this level of theme should be used for your online business.

I've used dozens of premium themes. The one that I’m the most happy with is Thesis – it is the fastest and most stable framework that I've used. It’s design features are intuitive and there are many designers creating great skins (like a miniature theme) for it. In fact, the skin I’m using here is a modified version of a premium one I purchased. Some of the best Thesis skin designers: ThemedyThesis Awesome or Kolakube.

Here is how WordPress / Thesis / Thesis Skins fit together:

  1. Install WordPress on your hosting server.
  2. Then, inside of WordPress dashboard install Thesis as a theme.
  3. Then, inside of your Thesis dashboard you can upload (and modify) your skin. It is kind of like a layer cake.

thesis-wordpress-theme

4) Required WordPress Plugins

WordPress plug-ins are small files / programs that install inside of your WordPress installation. They allow added function to your blog. Many plug-ins are marketing tools, to generate more page-views, improve site navigation or encourage social sharing.

Here are the plug-ins that we use on our blogs:

Free WordPress Plugins

  • Jetpack Related Posts: This is a simple plugin that displays a set of photo/text links at the bottom of each post and/or page on your site. Because it displays contextually similar posts, this increases page views by more than 20% on my sites – and it creates a better user experience.
  • Subscribe To Comments Reloaded: This free plugin is like having a secondary newsletter list. Here’s how it works: Readers can either subscribe to replies or new comments (or both) on a specific post. Every time someone else posts a comment, they get an email with a link back to the post. Not only is this good for traffic, it also creates a great user experience because they get updates on topics that interest them.
  • Tweet Old Post: This free plugin connects your blog archives to Twitter and automatically tweets the links at a set interval. It is a great way to bring attention to past posts. You can add specific or category based #hashtags. It will build your Twitter following and bring a steady flow of traffic to your blog. Very customizable.
  • Akismet: If you hate spam comments, you must use this one. You can sign-up for a free account and it blocks more than 99% of spam comments. In the past 2 years, this spam filter has blocked 48,561 spam comments on GringosAbroad (we have a respectable 4,663 real comments published). I can't even imagine sorting out that number of spam comments.
  • Smart Archives Reloaded: This simple (and free) plugin generates an attractive archives (site map) for a blog. See it in action here. This is an important component of your site navigation.
  • WordPress SEO: I don't pretend to understand the depth of SEO – but I do know a good plugin when I see it. This plugin doesn't affect page speed / load time but it does structure your posts (and site in general) in such a way to make it easier for search engines and search users to find your content. It manages the following: post titles and meta descriptions, canonical, breadcrumbs, permalink clean up, XML Sitemaps, RSS enhancements, edit your robots.txt and .htaccess, and clean up head section. Once setup, it manages these aspects automatically.

Premium WordPress Plugins

  • Optin Skin: Increase your newsletter conversion rate with this powerful plugin that allows you to place sign-up forms all over your site. Above, below or inside of posts. The use of short-codes lets you insert a signup form inside of any page, post or sidebar. There are options to run A/B testing to determine the best signup form – both text, colors and images can be tested. Comes with a nice set of skins – that are customizable.
  • BlogVault: This is a plugin that I can’t do without. It automatically backs-up and protects my sites. Every 24 hours a complete backup is generated and available for download. Every time I’m going to make updates or significant changes to a site, I log-in and generate a backup. If something goes wrong on what I’m doing, I can just restore it – and the tool restores the site as it was before I broke it. You never think about this until your site crashes – a necessary safety net.
  • EasyRedirect Script: Creating clean affiliate links doesn’t have to be hard. A tool like Easy Redirect Script changes a link like this: http://nanacast.com/vp/100004/382460/ to one like this https://bryanhaines.com/ers Both go to the same place and we get affiliate commissions either way – but it sure looks better, doesn’t it? I can see click count and organize links by categories. And if the affiliate changes the coding in the future, I only need to update the change in the tool (it installs on your server, sort of like a WordPress install) and it updates all links – even if they are in an old email or even in a pdf file someone has stored on their computer.
  • Popup Domination: This plugin consistently spiked new subscriber sign-ups by more than 400%. A/B testing helps determine which version works best for conversion and there is the option to limit on which page the popup will display. A powerful tool to build your list – and your community.

5) Email Marketing

Building an email list should be one of your principal objectives. Your email list is a tangible asset that needs to be cared for and grown.

Why is the Email Newsletter So Important?

Your email list is important because it gives you the ability to contact these readers again: every time you publish a new post, have some big news or release a new product.

These subscribers will become the core of your community – they have raised their hand and asked for you to contact them with your news and offers.

Who should you use to build your list?

I recommend AWeber. They are the best option that I've seen. Aweber offers a powerful auto-responder tool, newsletter creation tool, signup form tool, RSS to email, powerful analytics, high deliverability rate and subscriber segmenting. If you don't really understand what this all means, don't worry. With time, many of these tools will be useful to you. For now, just start with Aweber and learn their powerful tools as you go.

The first email marketing service I used was Constant Contact. And I would never have switched, except that they didn't allow multiple lists with unique branding. This became an issue because I wanted to use the one account to manage lists for different sites. They couldn't do it – I would have had to purchase multiple accounts. This wouldn't only be inconvenient – it would also be expensive. After sorting through a dozen options, I settled on Aweber. I currently have 5 email lists within the one account.

Aweber integrates seamlessly with both Optin Skin and Popup Domination to help build your list.

aweber-email-marketing

6) Track Your Progress: Analytics

There are a number of ways to track the progress and growth of your site. Here are the two that we use:

  1. Google Analytics: To use this free service, you'll need to sign-up for a free Google account. If you have a gmail email account you can use that. Then you will have to copy a small line of tracking code inside of your WordPress site. Many themes have a specific place to paste it. This is the most powerful analytics service that I've used – and it's free! You can track numbers of visitors, page-views and sources of traffic. Be warned: analytics can be addictive!
  2. Site Stats by JetPack: There is a free plug-in produced by WordPress.com called JetPack. This is a powerful set of tools – the best of which is Site Stats. I like this because it is inside of WordPress. While I check Google Analytics every week – I can keep on eye on actual site traffic right inside of the WordPress dashboard. Site Stats display the following charts: Referrers, top pages/posts, search engine terms and out-bound clicks. The “referrers” chart is important because you can see right away if another blog is linking to you – and you can both thank them and join the conversation on their site. This is even easier to setup than Google Analytics.

7) Additional Reading

Recommended Business Books and Training

  • The Four Hour Workweek: This recent classic has come to define the lifestyle design movement. Tim Ferriss takes societies standards and turns them on their head. He covers lifestyle design for employees, business owners, singles and families.
  • Empire Building Kit: This is one of the most comprehensive step-by-step guides to starting an online business. A full years worth of daily emails, plus case studies and action plans – this course is sure to help you go from wishing, to a functioning online business.
  • Attention! This Book Will Make You Money: This is one of my favorite business books – and yet it reads more like advice from a good (expert) friend. Jim Kukral speaks from personal experience about topics ranging from idea generation and selling online to proper use of social media and powerful branding.
  • Bloggers Boot Camp: Think you have what it takes to be a professional blogger? Long-time bloggers Charlie White (Mashable.com) and John Biggs (TechCrunch.com) give a glimpse into just what’s required to make a successful blog/business. They cover tools and tactics. Not all that deep, but definitely a solid introduction.

Recommended Travel and Expat Books

  • The Family Sabbatical Handbook: If you are lacking the confidence to pull up your family and head to another country, then reading about these 16 families who have successfully done that will certainly help. The book covers families who have taken sabbaticals in Europe, China, Mexico and South America. Learn about how they made things work – everything from money and schooling to language and the reentry to their home country.

8) Other Blogging  Considerations:

Writing a blog is simple. Running a profitable blog is something else entirely. If you follow the above seven steps, you’ll have a functioning and professional blog. Now you need to build an audience and begin building a community. As your community grows, so will your income.

Over the coming months, we'll be covering the following topics:

Share this post with a friend or colleague

If you enjoyed this guide, please share this with friends and colleagues. It may be the best gift they receive all year!

So there you have it. The basics to starting a successful income blog.

Questions or comments? Great! Please share them in the comment section below:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin

Hi, I'm the Author!

Bryan Haines is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is co-founder of Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Bryan also runs two authority blogs with his wife, Dena: ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorials) and GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel).

34 comments… add one
  • Shavonne Sep 18, 2016, 4:51 pm

    Interesting read, I changed template on our blog and the serps took a massive slide
    p.s Stay away from the Warrior Forums haha

  • David Mar 29, 2016, 4:20 pm

    Quite a few friends recommended your site as a good starting point in starting a monetized blog and I can see why. As of right now I have only ever used social media casually with close friends and worry that starting a blog would make me me a target on-line. My question is: Should I take extra precaution before starting a blog (Such as using an alternate, blog only e-mail and social media account)?
    Thanks,
    David

    • Bryan Haines Mar 30, 2016, 7:54 am

      It’s not a bad idea to have a “personal” and a “work” email address. Some bloggers use unique email addresses for each blog / project they create. I used to do that, but it gets cumbersome after a while.

      For most social media accounts, it’s often best to have a division between work and private life. Twitter is probably the exception – where many authority bloggers now use their personal brand instead of a blog-branded profile.

      All the best on your plans!

  • john Aug 22, 2015, 8:34 pm

    Awesome post bro. I just plan to start my niche blog. Hope it would helps a lot.

  • Michael May 17, 2015, 9:57 am

    Hi Bryan,

    Ran across your amazing post! Just a question, I have setup a website, http://www.pinoyindubai.com (it’s a guide for expats living in Dubai), and have setup a blog section in there. Do I have to create another wordpress blog and redirect it to the section or just go on as what I’ve done so far and add posts.

    Thanks and appreciate your feedback.

    Mike

  • Anna Apr 30, 2015, 1:27 am

    Brian, this post is truly EPIC! Thank you for such detailed info! I am a blogger striving to make a living with my blog. My biggest problem is traffic. I don’t know how to bring people to my blog. I do care about my readers and don’t post fluff. Sometimes a thorough research is involved in writing a content. I try to promote my articles as much as I can: through social media (Twitter, FB, Instagram), by leaving comments on other blogs…all I get is just a few additional visitors. It’s very frustrating! All monetization strategies are of no use if you don’t have traffic, am I right? Any suggestions? I’ll highly appreciate it!

  • maggie murphy Feb 9, 2015, 8:25 am

    great basic how-to steps. much appreciated.

    • Jim Apr 22, 2015, 6:59 am

      Great information Bryan and Dena. Regarding finding a blog niche, how important do you feel it is to keep focused on one basic idea? To clarify, could 3 or 4 people with different ideas and interests share a single monetizing blog?

      • Bryan Haines Apr 22, 2015, 11:28 am

        I think it is pretty important. Community building requires writing about one central topic. Otherwise readers will unsubscribe when they get an email promoting an unrelated topic. It would be better to run a separate blog for each topic.

  • Dividend Dreams Jan 13, 2015, 11:06 am

    Just wanted to thank you for this post. I wanted to start a blog but had no idea where to start. Your tutorial was easy to follow and I had my site up an running in a few days. Best of luck in 2015.

  • Heather Oct 8, 2014, 1:36 pm

    Hi,
    I am very new at this and I tried to follow your steps but I am really confused. How do GoDaddy, Wordpress, and Thesis work together? I can’t even get to my wordpress dashboard. I am wondering if you can recommend any videos or sites for beginner bloggers. I will check out bloggersbootcamp. As you can see my website http://www.clearandcloudycostarica.com is blank! LOL Heather

    • Bryan Haines Oct 29, 2014, 8:51 am

      Hi Heather – I understand the confusion. GoDaddy is both a domain registrar and web host. From your question, it appears that you are using them for both your domain and your hosting.

      Here is how it all fits together:

      1. GoDaddy is the host where your site actually resides.
      2. WordPress is the framework that manages all your content (known as a content management system, or CMS).
      3. Thesis is what gives the design to your site. Once you setup your hosting with GoDaddy, you will install WordPress. Inside of the WordPress dashboard you will install Thesis under the menu Appearance > Themes.

      After you install Thesis theme inside of WordPress you are ready to start customizing your site. You’ll probably want to add an About page and a logo. Maybe a subscribe box for your email list. And then you can get busy blogging! 🙂

      Hope this helps. Please feel free to ask any other questions.

  • Mary Sep 23, 2014, 2:09 pm

    Hello there,
    I am so glad I ran across your blog . I am in the midst of trying to monetize my blog I already have, Unbeknownst to me I was not able to add an email list page from my A weber account. And I am afraid I will not be able to ad my affiliate links. Do I need to upgrade with Word Press and what should that upgrade entail?

    • Bryan Haines Sep 30, 2014, 6:55 am

      WordPress.com has significant limitations for monetization. On this post about blogging platforms, I explain in detail.

      What you’ll want is Wordpress.org – also known as a self hosted WordPress install. You’ll need to buy a hosting package: I recommend HostGator. Another popular option is BlueHost. You’ll also need a domain name – we use GoDaddy for all our domains.

      The actual WordPress software is free from WordPress.org or you can install within your hosting package – they both offer 1-click install.

      With this setup you are ready to begin building a solid email list and site monetization.

      Let me know how you make out!

  • Khaidem Sep 20, 2014, 2:06 am

    Great article. Thanks for sharing such great information about how to earn money through blogging. Great tips!!

  • Betty Wheeler Sep 30, 2013, 1:57 pm

    Okay….so I have been following your gringosabroad for awhile and thank you for this site. Learning a lot.
    Here’s my dilemma……I started a blog awhile back featuring my natural hair journey (there’s a story behind that related to Ecuador believe it or not). I started out on blogger, then moved to wordpress.com and got the idea that I wanted to monetize. I tried wordpress.org and was completely overblown by the plugins Didn’t know what I was doing and think I may have had plugins that stopped others from working. Totally frustrated and went back to wordpress.com.

    Hubby and I are anticipating a retirement move to Ecuador and I really want to start an income producing blog to supplement our pension checks. Not sure natural hair will work and thinking about documenting our decision and process of making the move, much like what you and your family did. However, wondering if this niche is filled.

    So, I’m wondering what is your take on a novice surviving a blog like wordpress.org. I still have the account, just not using it….Oh yea! I have a blue host hosting account and a domain name from go.daddy.

    Also, do you think the market can stand another blog about moving to Ecuador? LOL

    • Bryan Haines Oct 14, 2013, 4:00 pm

      If you are serious about starting a professional blog, I think it is worth the time to setup your own, self-hosted blog. It really isn’t that hard and it is so much better.

      While there are lots of blogs about moving abroad, most are amateur. If you spend some time to establish a clear blog niche, you should do well.

  • Investor Monkey Jul 29, 2013, 9:28 am

    Hi Bryan,
    Thank you for the great post.

    I have found the blog niche that I would like to work on and that is on sharing of my investment journey, gaining passive income through investments.

    I had started blogging via blogspot (http://investormonkey.blogspot.com) and after working on it I decided to shift the blog over to my own domain. A week ago, I realised that I have been doing a lot of research and thought it would be very useful to pen down my research thus I started another blog with blogspot (http://reitsinvestment.blogspot.com).

    I would like to ask if it would be useful at all to maintain all 3 blogs or should I just merge all three into one?

    The second question that I would like to ask is, I had applied for Google AdSense for a month and till date, I am only seeing blank advertisement placements. Do you know usually how long Google takes to approve the AdSense for contents?

    Thank you.

    • Bryan Haines Jul 29, 2013, 9:43 am

      Usually it’s best to focus your blog on a specific niche. I don’t know about investments so I can’t comment on your topics. But if you are writing a personal investment blog, you could probably cover all these topics on one.

      The other factor is time. While it might be ideal to run each topic separately, will you have time to manage them? And it addition to writing them what about site maintenance and blog promotion. My wife and I run 4 blogs and, at times, it can be overwhelming. I recommend focusing on one topic and making it a success. Maybe add another one later.

      Google Adsense provides contextual ads. It could be that they are not pulling any relevant topics for your site. Once you place the ad code, it is best to focus on creating a solid base of content. Without the content your traffic will be low anyway. And the ads will be less relevant, resulting in less clicks. In addition to Google Adsense, there are many other ways to monetize a site.

      One final suggestion is regarding branding. I think your blogs will grow faster if you add some personality to them – by including your name and a photo. People will easily relate to you and be quicker to trust you.

      • Investor Monkey Jul 29, 2013, 10:49 am

        Hi Bryan,

        Thank you so much for your kind suggestions. Will try to look into what you had suggested and beef up the contents.

        Thank you.

  • Angie May 27, 2013, 2:33 pm

    Hi Bryan,
    Thanks for another great article 🙂 I am on step one and in the process of buying my domain name from go daddy but I am confused about the next steps. If I am using word press why do I need a host server like host gator? What is the purpose of a host? I am extremely new at this so please don’t take offence to this ignorance.. I am eager to learn and grow my business online 🙂
    xox
    Angie

    • Bryan Haines May 30, 2013, 11:23 am

      You don’t have to use a host with WordPress. WordPress.com offers free hosting (to a certain point). There are limitations with the WordPress.com format and I recommend using WordPress.org (the other WordPress). It is also free but more flexible. Inside of HostGator you can easily install WordPress.

      The host is where your files actually reside – where your blog readers will actually access your site to read it.

      Learn more about blog hosting.

      • Angie Jul 1, 2013, 4:49 pm

        Great thank you!

  • Claire Apr 7, 2013, 6:48 pm

    Hi Bryan, Today was going to be the day I got as many steps as possible done on starting my new blog, thinking that with my tax refund still sitting in my chequing account some of the payments wouldn’t be as painful as at any other time. BUT I got hung up on the first step! GoDaddy wanted to charge somewhere in the region of $120 for private domain purchase/registration (including $49.95 for private registration), not the roughly $75 you cited. So I called them, the guy suggested I remove a hyphen from the name and the quoted price on the first page then dropped from $14.99 to $9.99 but showed up in the cart at $13.99! He put on a discount making the best price $104.31 but I couldn’t see his price when I logged in and looked at my cart, the total was still well above $75 at $120.00. He added that items don’t remain in one’s cart very long and that prices are changing all the time. That sounded very unreliable to me and I decided not to purchase the domain name today before contacting you and asking if you paid $75 for private registration, or if the private part was an additional charge you didn’t mention. $30-$50 more than your approx. quote is substantially more! Could you clarify this, both in your blog and to me, because I was quite unprepared for the total I was given just for registering a domain name, and know that I pay quite a bit less for my old (still in use) domain (which was registered with a company I don’t remember about 10-12 years ago).

    Thanks.

    • Bryan Haines Apr 16, 2013, 7:11 pm

      Hi Claire,

      The pricing can change – that is for sure. The link that I included in the post actually gives a discount (it is also an affiliate link). You can try again here: GoDaddy Domains.

      Two weeks ago, I purchased a short-term domain for $16.16 ($8.17 for registration and $7.99 for private registration). Two months ago I purchased another domain with 5 year registration for $75.82 ($55.91 for domain registration and $19.91 for private registration).

      Sorry you had some trouble. GoDaddy is the best, hands down. If you try this link https://bryanhaines.com/godaddy again, I think it should go smoother. Just remember to remove everything from your shopping cart except these two items.

      Let me know how you make out.

  • Brian C. Mar 7, 2013, 3:52 pm

    Bryan, thru GoDaddy do you recommend ‘certifying’ my domain name?

    • Bryan Haines Mar 7, 2013, 9:09 pm

      I don’t think it is worth it. The important add-on is private registration to avoid spam.

  • Jon hallock Feb 28, 2013, 7:47 pm

    Thanks for putting all that together. I will be coming down there soon. One concern is, after 90 leaves in each of the first two years is it true that you can’t leave Ecuador, even on certain special occasions?
    Thanks for helping me understand what I’m getting into as a blogger and as a resident.
    Jon

    • Bryan Feb 28, 2013, 8:17 pm

      Of course. Regards residency issues – I’m not sure. We aren’t out of Ecuador long enough to worry about it.

      Thanks Jon!

  • Joanna Feb 28, 2013, 4:48 pm

    Love this comprehensive guide to starting a blog. My husband and I started our own blog just a couple of weeks ago and we are learning the very things you’ve described and yes I agree Google Analytics can be addictive. What is your take on Google and Bing webmaster tools? Useful or not? Also, what are your thoughts on starting small (i.e. not spending all that money) and building/adding on some of these things as your audience grows?
    Thanks!
    Joanna

    • Bryan Feb 28, 2013, 4:53 pm

      I occasionally use Google Webmaster tools, but haven’t had the need very often. I only use it to see that the site is being properly indexed by Google. I don’t spend any time with Bing…

      I think that you can use a basic – even free – theme to get started. It’s not that hard to upgrade. But I recommend starting right away with building your newsletter. Tools like Aweber and OptinSkin are so valuable. You want to begin building your list from day one.

Leave a Comment