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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 out there.

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 TypePad, 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

There are lots and lots of ways to monetize your blog. From Amazon and iTunes affiliate programs to contextual link advertising, there's pretty much no end to the money-making opportunities. Personally I would stick with those big names at first. Google's AdSense is #1 for a reason: it works. It can take a while at first, but if you keep blogging about what you love, eventually you may see those credits total up. If you're writing about stuff sold on Amazon, why not drop an affiliate link in there? No reason not to make money off recommendations (just be honest about them!). Blogger makes it easy to do this with the "embedded javascript" content box.

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.

Wrapping up

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.

  • Brad Linder

    Great suggestions Victor. While Blogger isn't as powerful as WordPress, TypePad or other blog clients, there are a surprising number of Blogger hacks available that let you do things like add tag clouds, place ads or other content in between posts, remove the annoying Blogger toolbar from the top of the page, and so on.

    Reply
  • Victor Agreda Jr

    thanks Brad, I find most users don't use stuff like tag clouds, etc. available on the more powerful platforms. also, my hope is that by getting folks to buy a real domain, when they DO want to switch, all they have to do is point the URL to a new host.

    one warning to readers about the hacks: they may not work with the easier-to-use new templates. there are a bunch of old templates to use, but you lose the drag-and-drop page editing tools for your page template.

    Reply
  • M.E. Williams

    Hey, how did you know that I was planning on registering fuzzykittiesftw.com next week? ;)

    I will have something more in the next week or two for people interested in Oblique Strategies: a fun project. (Getting all the equipment together has been not so much fun, but I finally have it. It should be easier for people who aren't me.)

    Reply
  • 3 Comments / 1 Pages
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