I'm going to show you how to put together a very simple blogging empire for under $10. In today's market of web services, there's often little reason to actually pay for anything, especially if you want to try something out. So if you've ever hankered for a blog of your own, especially one where you can make money, stay tuned. Here are X steps to rolling your own blog (and possibly making a little money at it).
Step One: register a bona-fide domain name
I know it hurts to fork over cash, let alone on something so spurious as a name. And it certainly isn't fair that Yarn.com or Knitting.com or even Superknitting.com are all taken (as of this writing, martianknitting.com IS available). With domains going for peanuts, it isn't surprising that most of the good names are gone. So think about what brand you're trying to create, and come up with something catchy but usable. This, admittedly, is the hardest part of almost any creative endeavor. But there are tools to help!
To quickly find site names that are available, I use instantdomainsearch.com
because it checks as you type. Plus, it refers you to several reputable domain sellers once you choose a name. While it won't help you come up with a name, it'll save you grief as you discover all the good names are taken.
If you need help in the creativity department, let's just say there's another blog post on that topic alone, but About.com has a serviceable piece on creating a name for your business
. I find Oblique Strategies
and the Creative Whack Pack
good tools for brainstorming, but there are actually dozens of strategies for creative thought
The point of having a genuine domain, instead of something like jimboknits.blogspot.com is that no one will remember your rather long website name! Buying a domain name simply puts your foot into cyberspace with a proper landing spot. Read on for where you get the blogging done, how you add video and pictures, and how to monetize your blog.
Step two: get blogging!
My personal choice for new bloggers is simply Blogger.com. It isn't the most versatile, but I think it is one of the easiest for new folks to understand. Also, while the templates are not many, the new tools allow you to easily add things like Google AdSense (maybe because Google owns Blogger?). You'll be putting Google ads on later.
To set things up, simply go to Blogger.com
and set up an account. Now, you purchased a domain name, right? Well, you can point that domain name to your blogger account. So while you may have created joeisblogging.blogger.com as your blog, you can point fuzzykittiesftw.com to your blogger page. Each domain registrar has a way of doing this, so check the help files on their site to find out how to do it.
Blogger is just like a web-based word processor, and from there you can add links and customize your pages. Yes, there are lots of other choices out there like WordPress
, and various holy wars associated with each platform. But for drop-dead simplicity and decent help, I find it tough to beat Blogger.
Step three: add media
I use two services for photos and video. YouTube
for video, simply because it is the most-trafficked video service out there (but by no means the best in terms of services). Photos go on Flickr
, in part because you can tie your Flickr account to your Blogger account, which gives you a way to blog directly from Flickr.
If possible, try to make your Flickr and YouTube account names sync up with your domain (not always possible). So if you are MarysCrocheting.com, try to get MarysCrocheting as a user name for Blogger, Flickr and YouTube.
Step four: just add advertising
One last tip: how to keep track of site visitors? There are options like Sitemeter
, but I use Statcounter
. While the free version limits your stats a bit, it is good for trending and seeing where your audience is coming from.
The key, in part, is to have a decent balance between high-performing ads or affiliate links and good, searchable content. Too many ads look crass. Too little content and why would someone visit?
Write about what you are passionate about-- it's what blogging is for! Do that with single-minded focus for long enough and you might even earn some money doing it.