One of the most simple and popular ways to started building a passive residual income stream online is to start a website or blog.
But there’s so much information out there and so many different options and directions…where do you even begin?
Well, I know it might seem a little bit overwhelming on the surface, especially if you’re brand new to making money online, but just like most things in life, so long as you have the RIGHT information, it’s actually pretty simple.
Essential Tools You’ll Need
So, first off, you’ll need a few essential tools to get started. The first is a domain name (the actual URL that people type in to access your website) and you’ll also need a hosting account (this is where all the files of your website are stored – webpages, images, videos, etc.).
The first is thing you will need is your domain name. This is simply the URL that people will type in to get to your site. For example http://myveryfirstwebsite.com.
Now, if you invest in your hosting account first, they’ll typically throw in one domain for free. When I first started out that’s what I did. But now I would highly recommend keeping your domains separate from your hosting accounts. This makes it much easier to transfer domains or redirect domains to different hosting moving forward. Sometimes you may want to switch hosting providers due to an issue with support or that particular hosting provider.
And just like there are several great hosting providers, there are also many different domain registrars you can go through to purchase your domain names.
But the one I like the most is Namecheap. They’re really easy to use and they have good support.
To find your domain, you may already have one in mind, so you if that’s the case you can just search for it using their website to see if it’s available.
If it’s not, you can either go with an alternative domain extension like .net or .org or many times Namecheap will give you recommendations and suggestions based on what you typed in.
A tool that you may also find useful when coming up with a name for your website or blog is LeanDomainSearch.com.
I know there are a lot of domain extensions out there these days, but if possible I would still do my best to find either a .com, .net, or .org.
Just like there are several options when it comes to where to register your domains at, there are a whole bunch of hosting providers.
Some are good. Some are bad. And some are just ok.
I personally like to go with companies that have been in business for years and years and have solid support and feedback.
There are several great solutions out there, and each reputable one has their strengths and weaknesses. But if you are planning on using your hosting for a few basic blogs or websites, and maybe you’re expecting a few thousand visitors each month to each of your sites, I would go with a hosting provider like SiteGround.
They’ve been around for several years. They’ve got solid support. And especially if you’re just starting out, you’re going to be in good hands with your website, without having be some techno nerd when it comes servers and things like that.
Things To Consider Before You Invest In Hosting
Do you need an SSL?
If you’re going to be selling anything directly on your website, not affiliate products, but anything e-commerce, where you’re selling a product directly on your website and accepting payment, you will probably want to consider investing in an SSL certificate. This is how you get the “https://” on in the URL of your site instead of “http://“ and adds and extra layer of protection for visitors and customers of your website.
Most of the time a FREE SSL certificate is include in your hosting package. To double check it should tell you if you do or not on the hosting plan comparison on the site. If you don’t see it though or are not sure, just reach out to support and they will be able to point you to a package that does…and sometimes the SSL certificate may be an additional amount…it all varies on the hosting provider.
An alternative to purchasing an SSL certificate is to use a service called Cloudflare. Cloudflare helps to protect your site viruses, bots and malware and also gives you a free SSL certificate.
You’ll need to point your domain to Cloudflare and then Cloudflare to your hosting account. It’s very simple and you should be able to find instructions on how to do that either on YouTube or by reaching out to your web host.
What Is A CDN And Do I Need One?
CDN stands for contend delivery network and is basically techno babble meaning your site is going to load a lot faster. The way a content delivery network works is that your site is cached on multiple servers around the world, so if someone accesses your site from Italy, the CDN is going to load your site for that user from it’s closest location to Italy, so that it loads in the shortest amount of time for that user, so that they have the best possible experience with your website.
We’re generally talking about microseconds here, but this becomes more and more important the more visitors you attract to your site.
Some web hosts have CDNs built in to their network but then if your site starts to just go viral and get tons of traffic you may want to consider either a host that specializes in and is known for the CDN or upgrade your hosting package/plan at your current provider.
Connecting Your Domain To Your Hosting Account
So, just to recap, I would find and register your domain name FIRST. Again, I recommend using Namecheap.
And then once you have your domain, you can sign up for your hosting account. For this I recommend going with SiteGround.
Alternative Hosting Solutions
SiteGround is just one of many hosting providers out there. These are a couple other alternative options you may want to consider:
As you’re creating your SiteGround hosting account, there will be an option to select if you’d like to setup a brand new domain with SiteGround or if you have an existing domain that you would like to point to your hosting account. You’ll select the option that you already have a domain and just want to point it to the account you’re setting up.
Pointing Your Domain Nameservers To Your Hosting Account
Okay, this sounds really technical and complex, but it’s actually quite simple.
So, once you’ve got your domain name and hosting, you need to point your domain to your hosting account, so that when people type in your URL (http://myveryfirstwebsite.com) it actually pulls up your website content instead of just the parked domain page from your domain registrar.
For instructions on how to do this, watch the video below…
TIP: When selecting a hosting account, I highly recommend going with a plan that allows you to have unlimited domains (since most people eventually have more than one). So, if you do this, it’s really easy to add additional domains to your account. You’ll just go to your cPanel or back office dashboard and click the button that says something similar to “add domain” and you’ll type in the URL of the domain and add it to your account. Then you’ll need to point the nameservers of that new domain from your domain registrar to your hosting account, just like you did for the original domain you added. And now you have more than one domain pointed to your hosting account!
How Much Does Web Hosting Cost?
One of the reasons why starting a blog or website is one of the best online businesses to start is because of the very low startup cost.
The pricing of most hosting packages is usually only a few dollars per month, or you can pay for a year or two upfront and save a percentage.
Every hosting company has different names for their plans and packages, but I would start out with whatever package allows you to host unlimited domains.
Looking For Hosting Coupons And Deals?
Compared to other businesses you can start online, a hosting account is already one of the most affordable things you can invest in…but to make it even more affordable, there’s usually lots of deals and discounts that you can find.
If you’re setting up a new account, you can usually find coupons, discounts, promos, or special Black Friday deals posted to popular deal sites like RetailMeNot.
Need Additional Help Or Have Questions While Selecting Your Hosting Package?
If you have other specific questions during the hosting signup process you have several options to get your questions answered.
The first place to check are the host’s FAQs (frequently asked questions) and knowledge base. Here you’ll find answers and solutions to many of your common questions.
But if for some reason you don’t find what you’re looking for there, you can reach out to support directly by emailing, calling or sending a message through live chat.
The host’s contact information should be prominently displayed on their site. But I’ve found that live chat usually gets the best and fastest response to any question.
Installing WordPress On Your Blog
Once you’ve got your hosting account setup, the next thing you’ll want to do is install WordPress.
This is actually really simple and if you login to your SiteGround back office or cPanel, you should see an option somewhere to install WordPress with 1-click. If you can’t find this option, reach out to support and they’ll be happy to assist you.
But doing this will install WordPress on your site/blog.
There are other blogging platforms such as Joomla and Drupal, but WordPress is by far the easiest to use and most popular blogging platform. It also has way more templates and plugins than the other two, so that’s why I recommend going with WordPress.
Setting Up Your WordPress Theme
Ok, so now you have WordPress installed, but you don’t want your site to be just some basic generic template. You want to be unique and somewhat customized.
That’s where WordPress themes come in.
Now, there are FREE WordPress themes and there are Premium WordPress themes.
There are a few really good FREE ones, however, if your site is going to be an authority site or blog in your niche (basically you’re going to put a lot of time and effort into publishing good content on it and making sure people can find it in the search engines) then I would HIGHLY recommend going with a Premium WordPress theme.
When I created my first WordPress site, I was super cheap and used the best FREE themes I could find, but after awhile I realized it’s much more worth it to spend $40-$100 one-time on a high quality Premium WordPress theme that’s going to give me the ability to customize it just how I want, and that I can use on all of my other sites.
There are a lot of great Premium WordPress themes and websites out there, but here are a couple that I really like:
Essential WordPress Plugins
Once you’ve got your theme selected and installed, I recommend installing a few WordPress plugins.
Plugins basically just give extended and enhanced features to WordPress.
There are tons of them out there and I don’t want to overload you with gobs to install, but these are a few that I install on most all of my sites and I recommend doing the same.
Akismet – helps protect your blog against comment spam
All-in-One SEO Pack – recommended plugin for optimizing your site content to rank in search engines
Google Analytics by Monster Insights – makes it super easy to connect your Google Analytics account to your site or blog, so that you can track your website traffic and get insights into the kinds of keywords that people are typing in to find your website
Limit Login Attempts – helps to keep out bots and hackers from getting into your site
URL Rotator – really helpful tool for cloaking links and making them prettier, especially if you’re doing affiliate marketing
WP Zero Bounce – redirects the user if they come to your site and hit the back button (very useful for affiliate marketing)
Creating And Adding Google-Friendly Content To Your Website
Now that you’ve got your website all setup and your theme and plugins all installed, you’re 95% there.
The main thing left to do is to just add content.
If you’re on a bootstrap budget or just really like to write, you can create the content yourself.
But if you have a budget to work with and you’re not a writer, you may consider outsourcing niche related articles based around the topic or theme of your website.
If you’re considering having someone else write content for you, here are a few websites I recommend:
iWriter – This is a very affordable marketplace for outsourcing content. I would go for articles that are 1000 words or more and only work with writers that have a 4 star rating or above. You can get content written cheaper, but these are a few good metrics to start with.
BKA Content – Tf you have a more technical or specialized niche or topic, I would use these guys. They are more expensive, but in my experience they do a very good job and the quality is generally much higher than if you went to an article marketplace.
Format For Outsourcing Articles
My template for what I give writers when outsourcing articles is very simple.
I first decide what keyword, phrase or topic I want the writer to write on…
And then I give them this template:
Conclusion Paragraph/Call To Action
It’s very simple and is essentially the same format as all the papers or essays you probably had to write in grade school.
That’s it. Don’t overthink it.
If You’re Writing Your Article Yourself
Now, without getting all technical and diving really deep into SEO (search engine optimization) and how Google ranks content in it’s search engine, what Google is looking for is really pretty simple.
Google’s main objective is to deliver the best possible search result to the user for the specific search phrase they typed in.
So, if you’ve got the most relevant article out there, with the most value and information about that specific topic…YOU WIN!!
So, how do you do that?
The way I would recommend going about this is to first do some research.
I like to use a keyword tool called KeywordTool.io, which gives you a list of long tail search phrases that people type in related to the keyword you search for.
For instance, if you were to type in “siteground” it knows that the most relevant results for the keyword “siteground” are all related to the hosting company. So, it’s going to give you a huge list of relevant keywords that people are typing into Google about that particular subject or phrase.
What I like to do is the copy that list of keywords into a notepad and start to cherry pick ones that I can write a really meaty article about.
I’ll group related keywords into sections and those will be my paragraphs and subheads.
And then once you go through and rough out the direction and flow of the article you’re going to write, you now have a blueprint for exactly what to write…you simply just elaborate on each of the keywords and before you know it you’ll have a really detailed article that answers the questions of several of the long tail search phrases that people commonly type in about that particular subject.
These are the kinds of articles that Google loves. It would much rather rank one really good article for lots and lots of keywords than several articles and pieces of content for specific search phrases.
So, by putting a little bit of extra work in on the front end and doing what most other people won’t take the time to do, you’ll really set yourself apart from your competition and you’ll see the organic traffic naturally start to pour in over time, without the need to purchase expensive backlinks to boost your pages in the SERPS.
Using Backlinks To Boost Your Search Engine Ranking
Now, I just mentioned that if you structure your articles properly and focus on crafting a really thorough piece of content that targets many of the search phrases that most people type in about that topic, that alone will solve a lot of your SEO and ranking problems.
However, if you do that and you’re site still isn’t ranking for they keyword you want it to…or maybe that niche is fairly competitive, the only way to boost your blog post or website is to get external backlinks (other authority websites) point to it.
Traditionally this was done through guest posting on other relevant blogs and websites, but this is extremely difficult to make happen and super time-consuming.
So, the best option (which is actually also way easier) is to just buy authority links from other sites.
There’s several options out there for this but these are a few of my faves:
Blackhatlinks – A great place for affordable wiki, bookmark and social signals links.
Fiverr – Another great option for affordable social signals and bookmarks. Their site search kind of sucks, but if you use the categories and sort by top rated you’ll usually find the best gigs that way.
The HOTH – You can also buy social signals and all other types of links here, but this is a solid source for powerful high authority backlinks, which can really give your site a boost. These links are called HOTHBlitz.
Additional Hosting Information
Setting Up A Custom Email Address With Your New Domain
So, up until now you’ve probably just used free email providers for receiving email, but now that you’ve got your own custom domain name, you may want to have people email you at something like “email@example.com” and add that email to business cards. So, there’s actually several different ways that you can go about doing that.
If you chose Namecheap for your domain registrar you can actually setup a custom email address within your Namecheap account and have it all hosted there. You can either redirect a custom email to an existing address (free). Basically when someone emails “firstname.lastname@example.org” you can have it forward to an email you check regularly like a Gmail account.
OR you can setup an actual webmail account associated with that custom email address within your Namecheap account. And that option is only a few bucks per year.
You can setup a webmail account through your hosting account. So, within your cPanel or back office you should see a section for email. If you don’t, reach out to support and they will help you find where it is.
You can setup as many email addresses and webmails as you choose, and you’ll be able to check them through your hosting account or if that’s a little cumbersome for you, you can also connect those webmail accounts to Apple Mail or Outlook or whatever program you use to check and organize and manage your mail. There are usually support articles and tutorials in the web hosting knowledge base on how to do this, but if you run into any problems, just reach out to your hosting support and they’ll be able to help you out.
And last, you can create a Gmail account using your custom domain. This is called Gmail for Business and costs between $5-$10/month but it’s totally worth it if you don’t want to login using the clunky hosting webmail or you don’t use Apple Mail or Outlook. And with this option all your mail will be delivered to you in a familiar way, with the Gmail interface.
Using FTP Programs To Upload Your Website Files
First off…what the heck is FTP?
FTP stands for file transfer protocol and is just a fancy term for a program that communicates with your web host and allows you to upload, edit and delete files in your hosting account from your desktop, and without having to login to the cumbersome hosting back office.
FTP programs are really useful and save lots of time when adding several files to your site at once or large files.
You can use the basic file uploaders in your hosting back office to upload most files, but there is usually a file size limit for that tool. So, if you have a file that’s bigger than about 500MB, you’ll probably wind up having to use a FTP to transfer and add that file to your website.
FTP programs are really easy to use and there’s several great options out there. If you’re on a PC I recommend FileZilla and if you have a Mac I recommend Cyberduck.
You should be able to find instructions on how to use each of these on YouTube or the hosting knowledge base.
Earning Money By Promoting Hosting Companies
This whole article has been primarily about how to get setup your hosting account so that you can get started making money by driving organic traffic to website or blog, but did you know that you can actually make money by referring others to your same hosting provider?
And not only that, web hosting companies have some of the most lucrative affiliate programs. There are many popular bloggers that make six and even seven figures each year in commissions, referring others to hosting plans.
Hosting is one of the easiest things to sell and recommend too, since it’s something that most everyone needs. If you’re looking to start your own website and want to full control over every aspect of that site, then you’re going to need to invest in your own hosting.
So, that’s just something extra to consider once you get started and have everything setup.
TIP: Another tip as far as earning money from hosting is becoming a reseller. There are actually only a handful of big hosting companies in the world. Most other websites out there that you think you’re buying hosting from are actually just resellers of a larger hosting company, meaning all the back end techy stuff is maintained by the parent company and the site from where you purchased your package or plan from is just paying for a reseller account from a provider and just marking it up and selling it to you. And you can do the exact same thing. Reseller accounts are very inexpensive, and even if you just get a handful of companies, you can generate several thousand dollars each month with very little cost or overhead…so, that’s definitely something to consider.
Just To Wrap Things Up
And that’s pretty much all there is to it.
I know it may seem like a lot if this is your first time, but once you’ve bought and setup a website once or twice, it gets to the point to where it just takes a few minutes.
The only time consuming part is the article writing…but, again, that can all be outsourced.
And then if you’re publishing highly relevant content (that solves your visitor’s questions) on a regular basis and you’re still not ranking where you would like to, just buy some backlinks and wait. And then you may need to buy some more…and then wait some more. But eventually you’ll rank.
And if you’re looking for a great tool to keep track of all of your search engine rankings without you having to manually type each phrase in and check every day, there is a great tool called ProRankTracker which keeps track of all of your rankings in one simple dashboard.
Hopefully you got a lot out of this article and it answered most of your questions about setting up your own blog or website from scratch, but if you’re looking for some additional SEO tips and strategies, check out my SEO Siphon Strategy.