I’ve started a bunch of blogs in my life. This one was the first, but went years without being used. At one point it promoted my first book Golf Balls Don’t Float, and then it later became a lifestyle blog, and then got hacked and subsequently deleted. My most successful blog was one that my wife and I started called Calgary Foodies.

We ran that blog for years until our son J came along and put a cramp in the number of restaurants we visit. It turns out that restaurants are expensive – kids are even more expensive. Even though we don’t post much anymore Calgary Foodies was uber successful. There are over 1000 email subscribers, several thousand facebook and twitter followers, and we were ranked the #1 blog in Alberta by urbanspoon before Zomato took them over.

Calgary Foodies also made money. Instead of selling traditional advertising on the site we used it to promote our mortgage business and did about $60,000 a year in income from people who found us via the food blog. In hindsight, we could have made more money if we would have sold traditional advertising. Regardless, blogging for money worked.

So how do you start a blog? It is simple, and cheap. Here is a step by step guide.

1. Avoid free services, and make sure your site is self hosted.

You can start a blog for free but you will regret it down the road. Free blog services limit the customization abilities you will need if you really get serious about your blog, and will usually require you to use their domain or charge you for using your own. You want your own domain! Using theirs and then trying to change later will not be impossible, but it will be very difficult.

Instead of a free sight you can get a self hosted website that will give you all of the flexibility you need and an easy one click install of the wordpress blogging platform for $3.45 a month. I recommend Bluehost. You can secure your domain name, install wordpress in 1-click, and be up and running in under 20 minutes. Bonus: Your domain name will be free for the first year!

2. Buy Your Domain & Hosting Service

Start by going to Bluehost by using my link which will give you an automatic discount. When you get to the landing page select the $3.45 option if you only plan on running one site, or the $4.95 option if you are planning on having more than one (blogging is addicting).

You probably don’t need any of the upgrades they are offering, so just un-click anything that is going to charge you extra. Remember, if you sign up using my link you will get your domain for free.

3. Install WordPress

Once you have purchased your hosting Bluehost will send you your login information. From there, you can login to your control panel and click “one-click install.” Select wordpress and follow the instructions. Everything will be set up for you automatically.

4. WordPress Tips and Tricks

  1. You can pretty much find a plugin for anything you want to do. Just google the functionality you are looking for. Want to add social media share buttons go to plugins – add new – and then search for social media share buttons.
  2. If you get stuck, google what you are trying to do. With 26% of the internet using wordpress, there is definitely someone else who has tried what you are trying and documented it.
  3. If you need help, email me. I’m happy to help.