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I’ve been in the blogging business for a little over 4 years now. It’s been a wild ride, but I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Yet what still amazes me today is that I’m able to earn a living off of something that I’m truly passionate about.
I’d like to take the time and share with you the 7 things you need in order to create a successful personal finance blog. All of the steps in this post are very detailed, so be prepared for a lot of content with specific steps.
Even if you’re interested in starting a blog but not interested in personal finance, these steps will still apply.
1. Be Passionate About Your Topic
Before we get into the technical side of how to setup your blog, there’s one thing I want to cover first. It goes without saying that if you don’t have knowledge about a topic or aren’t willing to do some research on it, you’re not going to be able to churn out any content.
The reason I started Frugal For Less is because I realized that I had a problem with the way others were spending money. I know it sounds strange, but it actually annoyed me at how people were not getting an easy 2% in cash back here and there.
I already had this knowledge base about quirky ways to make money through apps from years of research. It was obvious that you should be able to easily save over 30% on that H&M purchase. How come no one else was getting it? I eventually came to the conclusion that not everyone shared the same enthusiasm for my hobby.
With that being said, I started writing. I knew that if no one read my posts, at least my friends would get big kick out of it. And at the very least, it would definitely increase my knowledge of the world wide web.
It’s been nearly two years now, and for the past 13 months I’ve produced roughly 365 articles. That’s right – I’ve been able to consistently write anywhere from 600 – 2,500 words daily for the past year.
Without the passion and drive to write about frugality, I wouldn’t have gotten to 2,000 visitors on a daily basis. As this number keeps growing and more people start listening to what I have to say, I’m only going to become that much more passionate and produce that much more content.
There is one exception to this rule: pay someone else to write for you. While I’ve tried to do this myself, it can often prove difficult to find great writers. Furthermore, it’s going to end up costing you a lot of money.
I Don’t Know What To Write About
I often get this a lot: people want to start a blog, but they’re not sure what to write about. The best advice I can give is to find something you enjoy reading about. Do you already follow certain blogs online or read books? What do the authors write about? Is there anything they’re missing out in their work?
Although we’re specifically focusing on personal finance blogging, it can be about anything or anything related to finance. There’s travel-related finance, saving money while working, trying to budget as a working mom, starting a business, Pokemon GO, TV Shows, etc.
If you’re not sure and really need help on deciding on a topic, send me an email at email@example.com and I’d be more than happy to help – no charge.
2. Get A Creative Domain Name
Now that you’ve got a topic to write about, picking a name for your blog can be a dilemma of its own. After all, this is the foundation of what your site is about.
When starting my blog, I literally picked the first 5 names that came to my head and sent them all to my brother. I told him to select the best one, and that’s how this site was born.
I’ve thought of better names since then, but now the name is stuck and I don’t think I could ever replace it. Furthermore, people have commented on how the name is easy to remember and how nicely it rolls off the tongue.
Even though I chose the name somewhat randomly, I knew that I wanted the term frugality in there somewhere. It’s important to choose something that’s related to your topic.
5 Quick Tips For A Creative Domain Name
1. Be direct. For example, adropinthesun.com sounds nice and poetic, but nothing can beat financeblog.com. The second name will let readers know what they can expect. If I’m searching for a topic on finance and see two different sites with similar articles on Google, I’m most likely going to choose the one that sounds more credible.
2. Make it memorable. It will make you look professional and add credibility to your brand. Furthermore, having a name that’s easy to spell and easy to type will make readers more likely to recall your site name.
3. Keep the name short. Research shows that top websites have only 1 or 2 words in their domain name. It’s getting more and more difficult to find short domain names. So if you’re going to get started, act on this right away.
4. Choose a .com. Over 75% of the websites are using .com as their extension. This is the standard that everyone goes to, and most users are going to assume that your site ends in .com. You don’t want someone trying to find your site and mess up by constantly typing in .org, .net or any other variation.
5. Be unique. You want to try and stand out from your competitors. There are already a ton of personal finance blogs out there already. Do you have a niche you specialize in? Maybe you’re a mom and can write funny stories about how difficult it is to keep a budget with a kid since your little one always eats food when you’re gone. Being different can go a long way.
I highly recommend choosing Namecheap as your domain registrar. They give out monthly coupon codes that give you $1 off domain names, and they provide free WhoIsGuard Protection. Domain names typically cost $10/year no matter what service you use.
How Do I Get A Domain Name?
Getting a domain name is quite simple. Here we’ll walk you through it in just 2 easy steps.
1. Select a name. You can get a domain for as little as $9.99 per year at Namecheap with free WhoIsGuard Protection (hold off on your domain purchase for now – if you go with Bluehost hosting, they give you a free domain your first year). Type in the domain name you want to check if it’s available.
2. Add to cart and pay. If you’re registering with a .com, most unlikely are you going to find a domain for under $10/year with any domain registrar. With tax your total may come out to be a little bit more expensive, but fortunately Namecheap has coupons for $1 off your first year. For the month of August 2016, you can use the code REGXFERX. Pay the fee and you’re done.
3. Choose A Host
If you’re just starting out, you’re going to want to spend as little money as possible. Hosting plans can cost up to hundreds of dollars of month depending on the site and your traffic. Fortunately, since you’re going to be just starting out, we don’t have to worry about this.
For those of you unfamiliar with setting up a website, a web host gives you access to a server in which you can place your web files. When you point your domain name in the direction of the web host (shown in the next step), it allows for user to view these files. If this sounds complicated, not to worry – you don’t have to be a tech expert to start a blog.
Which Hosting Service Should I Use?
If you’re looking for a cheap yet reliable hosting service and just getting started, we recommend using BlueHost. They only cost $3.95 per month, and they have some of the best customer service in the industry. You also get a free 30-day trial if you decide to not want to run a blog anymore.
They may not be the fastest on the market, but as an amateur blogger this isn’t something you’ll need to worry about. The best part is that you won’t be able to find a much cheaper price anywhere else.
How Do I Get Started With BlueHost?
Getting started with BlueHost is incredibly simple. However, we realize that some of you might not be experience with web development, so we’re going to walk you through it in detail.
1. Choose a plan. Keep in mind that you can use any hosting service you want, but we’re going to use BlueHost as an example. Go directly to the BlueHost page and click on “Get Started” now button. From there select the $3.95 plan. You can always upgrade later if you decide to change or your site grows.
2. You already have a domain. The next page is going to ask whether you have a domain or not. Since we already registered with Namecheap, select that you already have one. Make sure to type in your domain name, since we’ll be using that to log-in.
3. Setup account. Enter in your personal information. This just includes your name and address.
4. Choose a plan. The longer you agree to go with BlueHost, the cheaper your monthly plan will be. There’s no need to select any of the extra options, and you can always add them on later if you really want to.
5. Create a password. If your payment information went through correctly, you’ll be able to setup a password to log-in to your account. Your username will be your domain name that you typed in earlier when setting up an account. Don’t forget to verify your email!
4. Link Your Domain To Your Host
The next step will connect your domain to your hosting service. This means that when people type in your site, your webpage will appear. While this task sounds a bit daunting, it’s actually a lot simpler than it seems.
1. Log-in to Namecheap. Go back to your Namecheap account and log-in. Click on the “Domains” tab at the top of the page. From the sidebar on the left, click on “Domain List” to view all of your available domains.
2. Manage Domain. Find your domain and click on the “Manage” button.
3. Select Custom DNS. Scroll down to the section where it says name servers. Click on the tab and select “Custom DNS.”
4. Type in name servers. With Bluehost, the nameservers are always the same for every domain. Type in ns1.Bluehost.com for the first nameserver and ns2.Bluehost.com for the second – just like in the picture below. Select the green check mark to apply. This process will take up to 48 hours to complete on their end.
5. Install WordPress
We highly recommend using WordPress to get started with your first blog since it’s incredibly simple to use. Go back to the BlueHost panel and scroll down until you see a button that says “Install WordPress.”
They do offer paid options to do it for you, but this is completely unnecessary (and they’re expensive). Simply click on the install button and select the domain you wish to install WordPress to. There’s no need to fill out anything in the directory field. Click on “Check Domain” and then click on “Advanced Options”. Fill out your site title, agree to the terms, and you’re ready to install! Make sure to remember your admin username and password.
Watch the green bar at the top of the page. When it slides all the way to the right, this signifies that WordPress has been installed successfully.
You can log-in to your WordPress site by typing in your domain/wp-login. In my case, I would type in the URL jasonwuerch.com/wp-admin. A page with a login box should appear. Type in your username and password that we told you to save above.
If you forgot this, you can go to your notification center to view your credentials, or you can always contact BlueHost support for help.
Once you log-in, experiment with the WordPress interface. You can also visit WPBeginner.com for help. I learned by browsing around, googling questions and asking others for help. If you have any questions about using WordPress, leave them down below and I’ll do my best to answer them!
6. Change Your Theme Or Style Your Site
You don’t need to be a professional web designer to make your site look good. Fortunately, there are hundreds of free WordPress themes that will change your site from nothing to something in an instant. You can view a list of Free WordPress Themes here.
There’s also 4 or 5 themes that you can choose from that come with your WordPress installation as shown in the image above. These can be found under the Appearance -> Themes tab. If you want any custom work done, you’re going to need to learn how to do web design or you can hire a professional.
7. Blogging Tips For Beginners
Here are a few personal tips to help you get started. on your blogging career.
Start Writing, But Not Everyday (Unless You Want To)
I post almost every day on Frugal For Less, but that doesn’t mean you have to. A lot of blog readers or new bloggers think that in order to get started as a professional in this field, you need to write a post every day. In fact, this is the exact opposite.
Research actually shows that writing longer posts and quality posts are going to ultimately lead in more traffic. According to famous SEO expert Neil Patel on QuickSprout, posts at length of 2,500 words or more tend to do the best.
While it is possible to do this on a daily basis, it’s highly improbable, especially if you’re trying to consistently churn out quality content. It doesn’t matter how much content you have on your blog – if the content isn’t interesting, no one is going to come back and you won’t be able to develop a strong following.
Writing Takes Practice
I often hear a lot from new bloggers that they aren’t very good writers. As with any task, writing takes a lot of practice before you get good at it. In fact, I often find that I make simple mistakes, and rereading my posts makes me cringe to a point beyond belief. It’s incredibly difficult for me to go back to my very first posts – they’re unclear, poorly written and unorganized.
Look forward almost two years from that point and I can see a tremendous difference. Make it a goal to have your friends edit your content for simple errors. If your site gets big enough, you can hire professional editors or writers to take over content production.
Last but not least, don’t give up. No matter how poor of a writer you are, you can always improve. For some, this just may take a bit of work. What I’ve found in most cases is that professional writers need to write almost everyday in order to ensure that their skills don’t wane. While we don’t expect you to do this, the more you write the more you get better.
The reason I write everyday is because I enjoy it. I wake up excited to find the next best way to lead a healthy, frugal lifestyle and share it with thousands of others. In summary, don’t feel stressed to repeatedly produce content – this usually results in frustration and giving up.
Research Other Posts On The Same Topic And Do It Better
Sometimes I’m lucky enough to be writing an article that no one has researched before. If enough people are searching for it, I can quickly be indexed as number 1 or 2 on Google for a specific search term. However, the majority of the time this isn’t even close to the case.
There are already thousands of posts that tell you how to start a successful blog, and I’m just going to add to the mix. How am I to stand out if I’m just writing about the same thing as everyone else?
Research Other Bloggers
Before I write any post, I type in my post article in Google to see what other bloggers have written. Not only does this give me an idea of how to organize my posts, but it shows me what ideas I’m missing. This way I can incorporate my ideas plus the ideas of other bloggers.
Don’t get this confused with copying content. Google hates plagiarism, and your search traffic will definitely show if all your doing is copying and pasting. Instead, use other articles to help fuel your ideas to write a better, more detailed and longer post. This will improve you search rankings and attract more followers to your site.
Find Relevant Topics
Have to urge to get writing but can’t think of a topic? My personal favorite source for finding content is Reddit. Before I decide to write, I usually browse through a few SubReddits that I follow. If a topic looks interesting enough, I do some research to see if it’s legitimate and start writing. Other forums can also serve as a great way to find article topics.
Write Article Titles That Scream At Your Audience
I could have just as easily written a blog post called “How to Start a Blog.” But does that really grasp your attention? Not only is Google already saturated with pieces related to this topic, but it doesn’t really grab your attention in any way.
Lists Are Fantastic
My post popular posts are ones that have numbers in them. Lists are a great way to quickly inform readers of how long your articles are as well as quickly grab the reader’s attention. One of my most popular posts is 40 Amazon Hacks To Help You Save Money. I get a lot of traffic from Google, the title is appealing, and it’s long enough to warrant visitors to favorite the page and constantly come back to it.
Use Google Keyword Tools To Find Unique Titles
Maybe you have an awesome topic idea in mind that you’d like to write about. Sometimes no matter how good your writing is, your article may never get seen. If your topic of choice is already extremely popular, it’s important to refine your title a little bit to stand out.
I personally use Google Keyword Tools to assess my competition on a particular article. Typing in the term “How to start a blog” returns a lot of search results on average, but the competition is somewhat high.
When I change it to “How to start a finance blog,” the amount of average monthly searches goes down, but my competition is much lower. I’m far more likely to get hits due to less competition, and my page is more likely to get hits since the term is more specific to what readers are searching for.
Blogging isn’t free, nor should it be taken lightheartedly. Given these facts, you should still enjoy what you’re doing if you want to make your personal finance blog successful. Otherwise it’s going to be all too easy for you to run out of steam and give up.
If what I mentioned above seems daunting and almost impossible, the best way to find out whether you can hack it or not is to get started. The costs are cheap, and you’ll learn a ton in the process. Not only that, but you’d be surprised about how transferable these skills are to other industries. Just being able to setup a website is a huge selling point for many companies.
If you have any questions about starting a successful personal finance blog or any sort of blog, leave them down in the comments below as we’d love to help. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!