Congrats on taking the initiative to start your own site to leverage over 3 billion people online today. Everybody should have their own website to build their brand, build their business, and connect with like-minded people.
When I started FinancialSamurai.com in 2009, it was much harder and more expensive to start a website. I spent $2,000 to get a crappy version up before spending another $1,000 three years later for an update. Nowadays, you can start your site by yourself in under 30 minutes for less than $100 with Bluehost, the premier web hosting company. Bluehost was founded in 2003 and operates its servers in-house in a 50,000 square feet facility in Provo, Utah.
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! No more boss. No more terrible commute. No more alarm clock. What a dream come true! Now Financial Samurai is earning multiple six figures a year with much less work and much more fun. It’s all about leveraging the internet to work for you.
Here’s an example of a real personal blogger’s monthly income statement. He’s been blogging for five years on the side while working a day job, and now generates 300,000 pageviews a month and earns an additional $300,000 a year.
Bluehost Plans and Pricing
Bluehost offers three main types of hosting plans:
- Shared hosting <- Stick with this option when you first begin to save money
- VPS hosting
- Dedicated hosting
Shared hosting is the way to go for all beginners. You should always start small and work your way up. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive option, which is what I have. But I didn’t switch to dedicated hosting until three years after I started blogging because Financial Samurai has over 1 million organic pageviews a month now.
With dedicated hosting, you are essentially renting a physical server. VPS hosting is a middle-ground option where you share a physical server with others, but you have your own virtual operating system, so the server functions as if it is physically yours.
BlueHost offers several plan options at discounted rates for a limited time.
- Starter: Beginning at $2.95 per month.
- Plus: This plan is $5.45 per month.
- Prime: This is the best value at $5.45 per month.
- Pro: Offered at $13.95
At the Starter level you get one website, 50GB of space, and unmetered bandwidth. You also get one domain, five parked domains, and 25 sub-domains. It also includes 5 email accounts with 100 MB of storage each.
Every business likes to up sell you on things e.g. “would you like fries with that?” Bluehost is no different. I would IGNORE all other add-ons and just stick to your starter package of just $2.95 per month. Don’t pay extra money if you don’t have to!
HOW TO SET UP A BLOG
Now that you know which plan to choose, here is my step-by-step instruction guide on how to set up your own WordPress (most recommended platform and what I use) blog in 30 minutes or less. Remember, I had to pay someone $2,000+ to help me get started. You can do this yourself nowadays!
1) Sign Up For A Web Host
Start with the basic Bluehost.com package at only $2.95 a month and go from there.
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:
- Choose a domain that is unique, fun, and easy to remember e.g. FinancialSamurai.com
- Choose a name with a phrase or key word that is often searched for e.g. “Financial Independence”
- Choose a domain name that is completely unique or spelled differently e.g. Yakezie, Houzz
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Choose where you want to install WordPress, in most cases with a new website. It will just be the domain name you originally picked.
Choose your WordPress login credential. I definitely suggest keeping the box checked for “Automatically create a new database for this installation.
5) Choose A Professional Looking Theme
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. 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:
- Finding consulting opportunities
- Finding new work opportunities
- Selling your own product like an eBook, artwork, photographs, online course
- Selling someone else’s great product with an affiliate program (CPA)
- When someone clicks on an ad (CPC ads like Google Adsense)
- When someone views your banner add (CPM)
- When someone pays you to publish a sponsored post of theirs
- When a company hires you to be their brand ambassador
- When someone sees your talks and hires you for a speaking gig
- When a larger site wants to buy your site
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 seven years of experience as a personal finance blogger. The chart is probably 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.
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! Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to create your own website in under 30 minutes. Ignore the add-ons that cost extra money and just get going.
About the Author: Sam began investing his own money ever since he opened an online brokerage account in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing by spending the next 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.
FinancialSamurai.com was started in 2009 and is one of the most trusted personal finance sites today with over 1.5 million pageviews a month. Financial Samurai has been featured in top publications such as the LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal.
Note – the rates listed above are subject to change.