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How to start

Are you looking to find more rewarding work, pick up some extra consulting opportunities, make friends with like-minded people from all over the world, or quit your job and just make money online for a living? All these are possibilities if you launch your own website and build your brand.

After 2.5 years of blogging (2009 – 2012), I was making ~$80,000 a year and decided to take a leap of faith and kiss Corporate America good-bye in 2012! No more boss. No more terrible commute. No more alarm clock. What a dream come true. It’s all about leveraging the internet to work for you.

Here’s a real example of someone who makes ~$150,000 for his blog, but then makes an additional ~$180,000 due to all the opportunities that resulted from his blog! The opportunities are endless once you’ve developed an online platform. The key is to just start. You’ll naturally figure things out as you go along.

Blogging For A Living Income Example: $300,000+

A real income statement example from a blogger


1) Sign Up For A Web Host

A web host is simply a site server that has the ability to power your site and troubleshoot it whenever necessary. Without a web host, you cannot have a running website. There are free web hosting options out there, but if you want a more stable site with higher up times and faster load speeds, it’s best to pay for a reliable web host company.

Everybody should start with the most basic, cheapest package possible, and add more server power as traffic grows. Start with the basic Bluehost.com package at only $2.95 a month, ignore all the add-ons, and go from there. You do not need to add all the add ons they ask. Just the basics to keep the cost as low as possible when you first start.

I’ve currently got a dedicated server with a dedicated person monitoring my site that costs ~$200/month. But I’ve also been blogging for over seven years and have over 1M pageviews a month. Start small, and work your way up.

bluehost plan comparison

2) Find a Domain Name

Bluehost provides a free domain name for one year to everybody who signs up. When selecting your domain name, here are some tips:

  1. Choose a domain that is unique, fun, and easy to remember e.g. FinancialSamurai.com
  2. Choose a name with a phrase or key word that is often searched for e.g. “Financial Independence”
  3. Choose a domain name that is completely unique or spelled differently e.g. Yakezie, Houzz
  4. Choose a shorter domain name because it is generally easier to spell and get right than a longer domain name e.g. Jet.com vs. SellingArtsandCraftsForLife.com.
  5. Choose a domain name that ends in .com for more credibility, followed by .org and .net.

I spent about one hour brainstorming a list of possible domain names and then went on Bluehost to see what was available. Once you get on the site, click the basic hosting plan for only $2.95/month to get you to the next page where you can input your New FREE Domain name when you sign up with Bluehost. Start punching away to see what’s available! If your domain name is not available, Bluehost will give you a whole bunch of suggestions as to what’s available.

How To Start A Blog

3) Hosting Options Package

After you’ve selected the basic package and found a free domain name that works, you’ll come across this portion of the sign up page with a whole bunch of different options. If you don’t want anybody knowing who owns your site, click Domain Privacy Protection. The Site Backup Pro for $1.99 a month may be a good idea because you never want to lose your work. But once you get your site up and running, there are free WordPress.org plug-ins that will backup your data for free. I wouldn’t choose and pay for any of the other options.

Bluehost.com Sign Up Options Package

Congratulations! You now own your very own website!

4) Install WordPress

WordPress is by far the most popular publishing platform on the web. WordPress is easy to set up, easy to use, and extremely customizable with endless amounts of free widgets and themes to choose from.

After you sign up with your web host, go back to Bluehost and click on “login” located at the top right of the screen to login onto the cpanel and check your email for the credential that you created.

Install WordPress With BlueHost

Then install:

Install WordPress On Bluehost

Choose where you want to install WordPress, in most cases with a new website. It will just be the domain name you originally picked.

Installing Worpress With BlueHost

Choose your WordPress login credential. I definitely suggest keeping the box checked for “Automatically create a new database for this installation.

How To Install WordPress

5) Choose A Professional Looking Theme

Genesis Themes

The Genesis Theme is one of the most beloved WordPress themes out there. Genesis is what Financial Samurai uses. For a one time fee of $59.95 through StudioPress, Genesis will provide you a simple, sleek layout that is fully customizable. The theme is also Search Engine Optimization friendly and loads faster than other designs due to its framework. Load speed and design are critical for all websites. Studies show that if a webpage doesn’t load within three seconds, the majority of users will click elsewhere.

Go Generic Themes

If you don’t want to pay money for a Genesis Theme, you can always go generic. There are hundreds and hundreds of great free themes to choose from. I used one for a year until I kept coming across other websites that used my same theme. I wanted to be unique, so I finally went with Genesis. The great thing about Genesis is that it is well followed by thousands of independent web designers. So if you ever want to get someone to customize your beautiful site, you’ve got plenty of people who can do it for you.

Do These 5 Things To Grow Your Site

1) Comment on larger blogs in your niche. If you leave a well-thought-out comment on a popular article, you will most likely have some readers trickle your way. It might just be one or two from each comment, but if you comment in many well-known places you will notice your readership increase quite impressively. Each comment will leave a link-back to your site and links are the currency of the web.

2) Write great content where you have an edge. It’s better to write from experience because there are too many pontificators out there who clearly don’t know what they are talking about. For example, if you are not retired, then writing about retirement life won’t be credible. Always think about what makes your content unique, entertaining, and value-added.

3) Guest post on larger blogs. Guest posting on larger blogs in your niche is one of the best ways to supercharge your traffic and create an audience. Before guest posting, try and get to know the blogger for 3-6 months. Comment on his site and share his posts over your social media network. He will take notice of your tireless support. Now it’s time to reach out over e-mail and ask if you can create a custom guest post that jives off a topic he’s already written about or write something brand new. Have at least one link back to your site.

4) Build a community. Remember that your community is always first. The biggest blogs in the world have built great followings because they share personal stories and opinions on things they care about. Once you have a community of raving fans, they will become your greatest supporters. Before publishing any post, ask yourself whether the post is something your community wants to read.

5) Have a consistent writing schedule. Financial Samurai usually publishes on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and sometimes on the weekend. I stuck with this three-posts-a-week schedule without fail for five years and readers have come to appreciate the consistency. It’s important you create a regular publishing schedule in order to build appreciation, loyalty, and trust with your ever growing reader base.

Related: How To Build Your Online Brand

How Much Money Can You Make Online?

The sky really is the limit regarding how much you can make online. Getting rich is all about having leverage. You’ve got maximum leverage once you start your site since there is no limit to how many people can visit your site 24-7, unlike a retail store.

The main ways to make money with your website are the following:

  1. Finding consulting opportunities
  2. Finding new work opportunities
  3. Selling your own product like an eBook, artwork, photographs, online course
  4. Selling someone else’s great product with an affiliate program (CPA)
  5. When someone clicks on an ad (CPC ads like Google Adsense)
  6. When someone views your banner add (CPM)
  7. When someone pays you to publish a sponsored post of theirs
  8. When a company hires you to be their brand ambassador
  9. When someone sees your talks and hires you for a speaking gig
  10. When a larger site wants to buy your site

Real example of a pro food blogger

You can check out my post, Blogging For A Living, for more examples of how much people with various years of experience and traffic figures make online.

Potential Earnings Based on Traffic

Take a look at the income by pageviews table below. It was created based on my eight years of experience as a personal finance blogger. For 90% of the blogs out there, they can generate between 1 cent to 10 cents per pageview. It’s all about your niche and how well you optimize your traffic through newsletters, SEO, engagement, advertising, and so forth.

The chart is also relevant for websites in the health, sports, and education genres as well. Websites in the entertainment genre make less e.g. LOL Cats, Buzzfeed, Pop Sugar. Meanwhile, websites that have lots of traffic due to a robust forum (e.g. Reddit) will make less than blogs with direct traffic to pertinent articles. For most dedicated bloggers, the blue and green areas are the realistic sweet spots.

Estimated Blog Income By Traffic

Leverage The Internet For Financial Freedom

In 2009, I never imagined that starting a personal finance blog would allow me to break free from Corporate America. Yet three years later, I was free forever! The freedom to travel anywhere in the world and still make money online is amazing. Just 25 years ago, practically nobody was online. Working a day job was the only way to make enough to one day retire and be free. Now, anybody with initiative can start a website.

What used to cost a bunch of money and time to create a site, now costs almost nothing. The things you do today could change your life tomorrow. All you’ve got to do is try! Click here to start your website today.

About the Author: Sam spent 13 years after college working at two of the leading financial service firms in the world. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. He also became Series 7 and Series 63 registered. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $210,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, consulting for leading fintech companies, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.

FinancialSamurai.com was started in 2009 and is one of the most trusted personal finance sites today with over 1 million organic pageviews a month. We believe in achieving financial freedom sooner, rather than later. Nobody is going to save you. So you might as well take action to save yourself!