Starting a blog is a great way to establish a presence on the internet. I’ve been sharing my story for a while here at MrCrazyKicks, and it’s been an awesome experience connecting with like-minded people around the world, as well as meeting new friends here at home.
To be honest, I never even liked writing, but that’s probably because I was always writing for school or work. Now that I’m writing about my hobbies, travels, and early retirement, I actually love it.
Putting ideas that are bouncing around in my head down on paper helps me organize my thoughts and eliminate my own mental roadblocks. At the same time, I’m able to create a valuable resource for both myself and friends. And it’s always exciting to release a new post and see readers show up to check it out.
In addition to making new friends and sharing knowledge, blogging can also be a profitable business. If you offer valuable content and grow an audience, you can earn affiliate income by sharing products you use from companies you trust. Like a solid portfolio, a good blog can become an asset.
While you might think running your own website is complicated and expensive, it’s actually very easy and cheap. I don’t really do any programming on my website, because I use a platform called WordPress. It’s a lot like using a basic word processor – the only difference is that in addition to saving your work, you can also publish it on your website with the click of a button. Basically, if you can use a web browser, you can create your own blog.
You can even start a blog for free using platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com. These are OK if you just want to mess around, but because they’re free, you don’t have the same control over your site for things like monetizing. If you do plan on growing your site into a business, then it’s worth paying a few bucks for your own hosting.
I use BlueHost (affiliate link) for my blog because it’s cheap and easy to use. My hosting plan costs me less than $4/month, and I’ve found it to be very reliable.
Bluehost also caters to bloggers by installing and setting up WordPress for you. If you decide to start your own blog, here’s how simple it is to set one up.
Choose a plan
I’m still using the basic plan. It’s cheap and has worked well for me, even after having some bigger traffic days where I had over 100 visitors at once. I also keep my website as simple and lightweight as possible, so the amount of space provided isn’t an issue.
In the future however, I might consider an upgrade. Mostly because the basic plan only allows you to host one website. While I only run this blog right now, I’ve had some other project ideas, and it would be nice to be able to throw another site up if I wanted to.
Choose a domain name
I recommend choosing a memorable domain name. There is a sea of websites that are iterations of common phrases relating to a topic like personal finance. And while a lot of them have great content, it can be confusing identifying certain blogs because their names all sound the same.
I called my website MrCrazyKicks because I started wearing Crazy Kicks to work when my wife and I were nearing financial independence. It has some meaning to me, but is also unique. You can google a potential name to see if anyone else has a similar domain name.
If you’re worried about people not knowing what your website is about from the name, don’t. That’s what the content is for. Consider the fact that Google meant nothing before the website was started.
Once you have a name, you can easily register a new name with Bluehost, or use another registrar like GoDaddy. I registered my domain with Bluehost because it was easy, then I moved over to Namecheap once the promotional pricing was over.
Fill out info and pay
Once you have your domain picked out, fill out your personal information. Then make sure you’re happy with the plan you chose.
I didn’t sign up for any of the extras except for Whois Privacy Protection for my domain name. This is especially important if you want to remain anonymous. Otherwise people will be able to lookup the name and address of the domain name owner.
At this point you have a website, congratulations!
Make sure to setup a secure password.
The nice thing about Bluehost is that it comes with WordPress already setup for you. Just pick a theme and start populating your website.
There are tons of free themes, and there are also a lot of fancy themes you can buy. Personally, I’m a fan of using the free themes that are put out by the WordPress team. Right now MrCrazyKicks.com is using the “Twenty Eleven” theme.
These themes might not be as fancy, but that’s what I love about them. Because they’re so simple, they have less bugs, and they’re super light weight. That translates to a more reliable website that loads faster. You could waste a lot of time configuring a fancy theme, but for MrCrazyKicks, I’ve concentrated more on the content, photos, and artwork.
You can always change themes down the road.
Once you have your theme, let Bluehost set it up for you.
At this point, you should be setup with WordPress and see the dashboard. I’d skip the message asking if you need help setting up the site, and just start digging in.
You can start dressing up your website by clicking on the appearance tab and going to customize. From here, you can add a header image, setup menus, and add different widgets which can do anything from adding links to sharing your Twitter feed.
I recommend editing the size of any images you use on the site so that it will load faster. If you don’t have an image editor, you can use PIXLR for free. I usually make sure my pics are smaller than 300kb.
Once happy with the looks, it’s time to start writing. There are different arguments about how often you should write. This depends on the type of content you want to put out. For example, some people are writing several times a week about their daily lives. Other people write more instructional posts meant to stand on their own. The latter might not draw as many regular followers, but might pull more traffic from search engines. Just pick a schedule that is easy for you to keep up with.
Whatever type of blog you decide to do, the most important thing is to share your unique story and perspective. Provide some personal insight, and do some research so you can provide extra information on a topic.
Finally, keep your writing succinct and clean. Coming from a career as an engineer, my writing was pretty horrific. I got away with it because other engineers were paid to read it. That doesn’t fly when you’re trying to grow an audience that willingly reads your content. As an aspiring writer, a couple of books that I’ve found extremely useful were On Writing Well, by William Zinsser, and On Writing by Stephen King.
If you do decided to start a blog, cheers to your new adventure! Like any hobby, it can take a good bit of time and practice before you start seeing results, but I think you will find the experience rewarding.