Welcome! I’m excited that you’re here!

If you already know what a blog is and you understand the basics of blogging, you can skip the introduction.

For everyone else, this section will help you build your foundational blogging knowledge and boost your confidence as you move forward.

Blogging Basics  

 

What is a Blog ? 

A blog is a regularly updated website, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in  an informal or conversational style.  “Blog” is a noun whose verb is “blogging”.

Blogging for money

Websites and Blogs : What’s the difference ?

This is one of the common questions that bother aspiring bloggers.

The difference is that unlike websites, blogs are regularly updated. A good example is a music blog sharing the latest Soul music.

Websites consist of static pages that are rarely updated. Blogs on the other hand consist  of fresh new content and readers get the opportunity to engage with the content by sharing their comments.  Most blogs have the following features : comments, tags, categories, author name, publishing date. Check out the Infographic below to help you gain a better understanding of “what is a blog? “

 

What is a Blog infographic

Should I start a Blog ? 

Unfortunately, only you can answer that question ! What I can say with confidence is that blogging is one of the most fulfilling things in my life.

Blogging has made my life more rewarding both financially and relationship wise.  It has also helped me develop as a person and opened doors to meet talented and wonderful people from all over the world.

When I started blogging, it was all about the money. Just like many of you I had heard people talk about the millions famous bloggers make each month.

My decision to buy a domain came very quickly. Within minutes of seeing $ 300,000 income report from a blogger I wanted to have a blog.

Three  years on, I know better !  Here is why I keep on blogging (and why I encourage aspiring bloggers to start blogging)

What are the Benefits of blogging ? 

Blogging helps you become disciplined

With blogging you have to sit down and write. It could be once  a week or even daily , either way it forces you to learn to become disciplined and patient. I say patient because you will make money overnight with  blogging.

Blogging gives you a voice.

Everyone has something to say, even though we might lack the courage to express ourselves. Your blog gives you a platform to speak your mind without worrying about criticism or censorship.

Blogging is an opportunity for Personal Development 

Blogging gets you out of your comfort zone and keeps you engaged with constructive activities. When you are blogging you also need to learn guided thinking and to set goals which will keep you motivated and satisfied with life.

Can I make money with blogging  ? Of course Yes. 

The upfront answer is Yes ! 

 Take the example of Nigerian Blogger, Linda Ikeji  who generates millions of traffic and make thousands of dollars every-month with her blog, lindaikejiblog.com.

Linda Ikeji Blogging in Africa

I personally admire her and I think that she is a true inspiration to all upcoming bloggers in Africa.

Today, Linda Ikeji earns a cool $ 65,000 each month with an estimated net-worth of $40 million USD.

$65,000 is a lot of money in 30 days…… especially for someone who left a career in modelling to start a blog from scratch.

Now this blog you’re reading does’t make that much, neither are you  going to generate that kind of money, especially when you’re just getting started. However, expecting 1/10 is a SMART objective for a beginner.

Having made that clear (and I hope now your motivation to start blogging is even higher), I’m going to give you a step by step guide to help you start a blog, grow traffic to your blog and monetize your blog.  

How to start a wordpress blog

How do I start Blogging  ?   

Starting a blog is simple. All you need is a blogging platform, basic computer skills and you’re good to go.

Basically you have two options for starting your blog:

  • Blogging on a hosted blog(free blogging platforms) –This kind of blogging is similar to posting longer content on social media. Hosted blogging is limited because it is usually free meaning that you do not have access to all the monetization features ( in other words this kind of blogging is suitable for people who blog for fun). Your web-address is usually something like nameofyourblog.bloggingplatform.com instead of nameofyourblog.com.
  •  
  • Self-hosted blogging: When you choose this option you will have your own domain name (with no platform name extensions). To start a self-hosted blog you need web-hosting (storage room for your website files) and you’ll also need to purchase a custom domain (e.g selfhostedblog.com).

In this guide, I will discuss self-hosted blogging : 

 

 How to start a self-hosted blog on WordPress

Let me start by saying that there are several options here including; wordpress.org, Wix, Squarespace and Joomla, 

Majority of these premium blogging platforms also have the “free” package.

Yes , you can blog for free on premium sites such as WordPress. But here is the catch: you need to upgrade to premium to access important features including monetization, Site engine Optimization and plugin installation.

This guide will focus on WordPress self-hosted blogs because of its benefits over other premium blogging platforms.

WordPress is an open source platform (it is not managed by  as single company, rather by volunteers). Basically this means that the platform provides free software resources to create and manage websites. 

WordPress is the most popular blogging platform and is used by more than 30% of websites worldwide.

It is used for various purposes including news blogs, magazines, business sites, portfolio sites and eCommerce sites. Big brands such as Sony Music, CNN, Time.com, Bloomberg Professional, The Walt Disney Company all run on wordpress.org.   This blog that you’re reading runs on wordpress.org

 

Wordpress.Org
Popular Brands that use WordPress

Why is WordPress so Popular ?  

1. WordPress allows users to take full control of their site from day 1.

From our experience, even newbies can hit the ground running with one hour of dedicated WordPress training. In fact, very little ongoing support is needed to keep your site running

2. WordPress offers amazing flexibility (in terms of design customization, theme selection) and handles any sort of website, from personal blogs to giant ecommerce and media sites

3. WordPress Can Handle various types of content and Media Types meaning that you are not limited to writing blog posts. You can upload videos, audios and images.

4. Bluehost (and all other major hosting companies) provide an integrated one-click installation for WordPress, so that anyone can have their site live with one click. 

There are many other reasons why people choose WordPress. Honestly, you’ll need to try it yourself to really understand the benefits of WordPress, it can never disappoint you !

 

How to create a blog on WordPress

WordPress has two versions ; WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Creating a website on either wordpress.org or WordPress.com is a very easy process. Here is a guide of the installation process with each version:

WordPress.com is the least expensive version if you don’t want to monetize your blog. But if you plan on creating a n actual online business  or want to use your blog to generate leads for an offline business I recommend starting with wordpress.org.

What’s the difference between WordPress.com & WordPress.org ? 

  • WordPress.org:  this is an open source software available for free. Anyone can download and use the wordpress.org software to create a website although you need to buy a domain name and a hosting package.  WordPress.org is managed by the WordPress Foundation, a non-profit organization  founded by Matt Mullenweg to democratize publishing through Open Source, GPL software.
  •  Wordpress.com:   Wordpress.com is a platform quite similar to free blogging sites such as Medium, Tumblr and Blogger. It lets you create content for free and takes care of your site’s security, hosting and backup. WordPress.com is managed by a for-profit company, Automattic.

The main difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com is web-hosting but there are additional differences between the two versions.

It s hard to deny that WordPress.com offers amazing features, however there are important limitations that will make you think twice about using it. Look !

  • Limited disk space (3GB)
  • You cannot make custom design changes
  • Limited Site engine optimization (SEO) options.
  • You cannot monetize your website or blog
  • Your site will display WordPress’s ads by default.

 

How to create a blog on WordPress.com 

You can create a blog for free on wordpress.com with the basic plan but this comes at a trade-off of your custom domain name, this means that  your site address will look like this; yourblogname.wordpress.com.

WordPress.com gives the option to use your website for commercial purposes and even monetize it but you will have to buy a custom domain and part with at least $ 96/ per year ($ 8/ month) to use WordPress.com’s servers.

The cost of a custom domain on WordPress is typically within the range of  $ 10 -$ 20 meaning that you can pay upto $ 116 just to get started.

If your target audience is small, the premium plan ($ 96/year) is absolutely sufficient, but if you target a large audience, you will have to buy  the more advanced business option ( $300/year)which gives you access to greater space, better site security and advanced optimization features.

 

start a blog on WordPress.com
WordPress.com Pricing plans

Creating a website on wordpress.com is literally as simple as signing up for a google account.  No need to go over the details unless you want to use the paid plans and you do not know how to pick the right domain name.

 

Visit WordPress.com and click on “Start your website” . Everything else from here is self-explanatory.

 

How to create a blog on wordpress.org  

WordPress.org is a fully customizable open source software (content management system). Rather than seeing it as superior to WordPress.com, think  of wordpress.org as the most appropriate platform for bloggers who want to make money. And since you are here and reading this sort of content, I assume that making online money is one of your goals.

Here is a detailed list of the reasons why I strongly recommend creating your WordPress website on WordPress.org:

Complete control: WordPress.org lets customize your site as you like by selecting from a wide range of free and premium themes. Unlike WordPress.com, you can customize colors, fonts, layouts and the general style of your blog. 

The best part is that you do not need any coding skills to customize WordPress.org.

Marketing Potential :  No doubt you will need to market your website in order to grow traffic and increase leads. With WordPress.org all these options are easily doable via free and premium plugins. Remember that wordpress.com is limited to only a contact form and blog subscription.

Storage Space and Site Speed: When choose the self-hosted option it means that you have the liberty to select the most appropriate web-hosting package depending on your needs. Generally the best hosting companies allow you to choose the speed of your server; decide security options; as well as the storage size that best fits your needs.

Site Engine Optimization (SEO) : SEO is essentially the process of making your website more attractive to search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. ) so that your site appears higher in search results.

With WordPress.org you can customize each multiple pages for various keywords you want to rank for and install plugins to automatically handle technical SEO.  WordPress.com does not allow you to do such advanced SEO.

And remember with 70 million new posts appear on WordPress blogs each month therefore you definitely need SEO to get targeted traffic.

Monetization:  With WordPress.com you are limited to WordPress’ default ads which will hardly make you a decent earning. But with wordpress.org you are free to advertise in any way you see fit.

You can choose AdSense and many other advertising partners, or display affiliate ads .

Wordpress SEO

Visual Guide 

The first thing I will say here is start by picking the right domain name because it is a key element of your online success, so choose wisely. Here’s why it is important to choose wisely. 

  • Your domain name makes the first impression.

A domain name such as, bloggingtips.com, immediately lets you know what to expect.

But this does not mean you must use keywords, you can still decide to use your brand name e.g. cocacola.com or catforddigitalmedia.com.

In such a case you must strive to create brand awareness through other strategies such as offline marketing.

  • It improves SEO rankings, especially when you use keywords.  

Pro tip:  When choosing a domain name try to think of a names that resonate with your niche. Also consider the following when deciding the domain name for your blog: 

  • Short and unique names are easier to say and remember.
  • Do not use numbers or hyphens (-) as part of your domain name.

Web hosting is more like the physical space that you setup your business in.

In other words, a web-hosting company provides the technologies and resources necessary to keep your site live online. 

Most hosting companies provide hoisting and domain purchase services.

If you already have a domain the hosting company will help you migrate your site to their servers.

Where do I get my free domain name and hosting package?

There are numerous webhosting companies but I highly recommend the following companies;

Benefits  

  • Custom email accounts:for example, info@yoursite.com ; this is way more professional than using the generic Gmail and yahoo accounts. 
  •  Money-back guarantee which means that you can easily get your money back if you are unsatisfied with their services. 
  • Integrated C-panel to install WordPress which is the most popular blogging platform. 

How do I buy a Domain Name on Bluehost.com 

 1.Start here to get the special offer of $ 2.75/month and click “Get started now” on the new Bluehost.com page.

  

2.Next, choose your plan.

We advice all new bloggers to choose the basic plan because the features included are sufficient for any blogger.

Of course you can always upgrade later if you deem it necessary (for example for more website space, more ‘included’ domains etc.)

 

3.Type the domain name you want to register in the left search box and click “next” to see if your domain is available.

If your preferred domain name is already taken, Bluehost provides relevant suggestions with different extensions including, .net, .biz, .org etc. 
free domain and web hosting

P.S: The right box is to be used only if you have already registered a domain and would like to use Bluehost’s hosting packages. 

 

4.The next step is to fill your account information (you need an account to manage your domain). You can even sign up with your Gmail account; just click on “sign in with Google”

 

5.Now scroll down to this part, ‘package extras.’

You don’t really need the extra options as a beginner so you can un-check all the check-boxes.

Also, remember to adjust the package plan to 12 months which is the standard hosting plan. You’ll be charged annually. 

   

Lastly, enter your payment information to complete the registration process.  Once the payment is processed, you’ll be prompted to create a password for your account. 

 Install WordPress on your domain: 

  • Log in to your hosting account
  • Head over to your C-panel
  • Locate the “WordPress” icon and click on it.

Wordpress on Cpanel

  • Choose the domain where you want to install WordPress.WordPress installation in bluehost

Once the installation is complete your next step is to choose a theme in your admin dashboard.  Click here to get started with the next part of this guide  ‘free WordPress.org themes.’ 


 

Eliud is a website optimization strategist, copywriter and social media consultant living in Nairobi, Kenya. He is a fan of technology, design, and entrepreneurship. Eliud’s other interests include writing, reading and innovation.

Catford Digital Media