Best Ways to Start a Blog
If you’re wondering how you can start blogging without spending out too much money, it’s a lot easier than you think. In this article I will show you some of the best ways to start a blog using WordPress.
When people earn money by blogging, it is usually through either Affiliate Marketing or pay per click advertising. The idea is relatively straightforward – you start a blog based around your chosen niche and create unique content that visitors will find helpful. This may come in the form of product reviews or comparisons.
When you write about a particular product or service you add your affiliate link and If a visitor to your site clicks on one of these links and then goes on to make a purchase, you receive a commission for the referral.
If you are serious about Affiliate Marketing, by having a blog, you are creating a brand. Having a brand that is unique to you is incredibly important as it will help you build trust with your audience. It is also something that will distinguish you from your competition.
Blogging is a tried and tested way to make money online through affiliate marketing, and has been used for over twenty years. It continues to be a sound business model as we approach 2020, and more people than ever are reaping the benefits.
In the last twenty years blogging has evolved with the times, but the same basic principles apply. The main difference between now and then, is the immense increase in web traffic. Not only that, but the competition now is incredibly fierce and the earning potential is better than ever. Most major eCommerce platforms have an affiliate program so there is a much wider range of products and services to promote.
How much does it cost to start a Blog?
How to create a FREE WordPress Blog
WordPress websites, currently account for nearly 30% of all websites globally. The reason for this is that WordPress is an incredibly versatile and user-friendly website designing platform that can be used by anyone from beginner to expert.
Another great thing about WordPress, is that if you are on a tight budget you can start off with a free trial and you will be able to register a free WordPress domain e.g. [yoursitename].wordpress.com.
The video below shows how quickly you can create a free WordPress Blog in a matter of minutes.
The free WordPress trial is a great way for beginners to get started. It is also a good way to familiarise yourself with the platform. But it does have some serious limitations for long-term potential.
Another way to create a free beginners blog using the WordPress platform is through an organisation called Wealthy Affiliate. This company offers a free and paid plan. There is more information towards the end of this article on what Wealthy Affiliate has to offer, but for the time being, you can start right now, by simply typing in your preferred website name into the widget below.
Are you serious about Blogging?
Are you blogging for fun or do you really want to build a unique brand, grow your audience and ultimately earn money? If you want to make a living from your blog, you will very quickly outgrow the free version. You will not have access to SEO tools, Google analytics, plugins and premium themes. Plus you will not have your own domain name.
The main problem is getting traffic to your new blog, and although it is possible to rank a free WordPress website higher up in Google’s search results, it’s unlikely. If you’re active on Social Media, then you can leverage that as a way to get blog traffic, but again you would already need a substantial following to start with. Let’s delve a little deeper into WordPress.
Free vs Paid WordPress
WordPress is a content management system (CMS). A CMS is an application that uses a database to manage all content, and it is used when developing a website. There is a difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
With WordPress.org you can download the CMS and have your blog hosted by a third-party hosting service. With WordPress.com there are a number of different packages available (including the free version).
Unfortunately the Personal and Premium WordPress hosted packages are not much better than the free version. You do get a few extra features like your own domain name and access to an excellent learning resources section. But there is still no access to important features like plugins.
Best WordPress Hosting for Beginners
Where you have your blog hosted is an incredibly important decision. If you are just starting out, you will need to be looking for several key factors: Ease of use, speed, reliability and value for money. In this article I will be looking at the top 4 best WordPress hosting platforms that are suitable for beginners.
All of the hosting platforms listed below include a straightforward WordPress blog integration.
- Bluehost WordPress Hosting
- SiteGround WordPress Hosting
- HostGator wordPress Hosting
- Wealthy Affiliate All-in-One Hosting and Learning Platform
Key factors on deciding where to host your WordPress Blog
If you are new to blogging, you are probably looking for the easiest way to get started. But before you do, you need to consider the following important factors.
- Types of Website Hosting
- Ease of use
- Customer Support
- Value for Money
1. Types of Website Hosting
When you first start your new blog, it is highly unlikely you will have a lot of traffic from the outset. But, as your blog grows and your traffic increases, so will your hosting needs.
There are many different types of website hosting available, but for the benefit of this article, I have listed the two most suitable types of hosting for beginner and intermediate blogs. each has its own benefits, particularly if you want to scale your blog in future.
Shared hosting is usually the best solution for beginners. This is where your website is stored on the same server as lots of other websites. With shared hosting, all domains share the same server resources, such as memory capacity and processing power. Because all the resources are shared, the general cost of shared hosting plans comparatively low, making them an excellent option for beginners.
The main downside with shared hosting is that because you’re sharing the server with lots of website owners. Any surge in usage can be detrimental to your own websites speed, and ultimately user experience..
A VPS or virtual private server hosting plan is in the middle between a shared server and a dedicated server. It is perfect for website owners that require more control, but don’t particularly need a dedicated server. This kind of hosting offers the cost benefits of shared hosting plus the control of dedicated hosting. VPS hosting is great choice for the more advanced user.
Virtual private server hosting is unique because each website is hosted within its own space on the server, even though it still shares a physical server with other users. It gives website owners the option of more customisation and storage space, but they still can’t handle very high levels of traffic or spikes in usage. The means that site performance can still be affected by other websites on the server.
Reliability is another key factor when deciding on which hosting platform to use. Unfortunately in the modern world no hosting platform is going to be 100% reliable, but you certainly need to be aiming for 99%.
Any downtime could potentially cost you money in future, so you need to be sure that you hosting company have your back. With reliability should come excellent customer support. You do not want to be waiting several tentative hours to get a response if your site goes down.
Website speed is a major ranking factor with Google and other search engines. You will need to consider the location of your hosting server in relation to where you primary target audience is located.
Some hosting companies will offer you a choice of servers in different locations around the globe. If, for example you get most of your visitors from Europe, you will ideally want your WordPress blog to be hosted somewhere like Germany or the UK.
Website security is another important factor that cannot be overlooked. Another important ranking factor is trust, and you will need to have appropriate SSL certificates for your website.
What is an SSL certificate?
An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that gives authentication for a website to enable an encrypted connection. These certificates communicate to the client that the website hosting service demonstrated ownership of the domain to the certificate authority at the time the certificate was issued.
Quite often you will see a domain URL that has http or https. If you visit a site that has an http URL, it means there is no SSL certificate attached to that site, and in your browser you will see a small exclamation mark. If you hover over the mark it will say ‘not secure’.
SSL and Google rankings
In the very near future it is going to be impossible to get a site indexed by Google without the appropriate SSL certification. Another important thing to consider is, you will need to check all the outbound links on your website are ‘https’. If they are not, then your site will be penalised by Google and may be removed from their index.
5. Ease of use
One thing you don’t need to be worrying about as a beginner is how to do this, and how to do that. It can add to the already overwhelming feelings you may be having when starting out a new venture.
Ideally any WordPress hosting platform that is beginner friendly, should be a ‘one click install’ solution. All of the hosting platforms on my list are recommended by WordPress and as such are suitable for beginners and experienced users alike.
6. Customer Support
Any WordPress hosting platform that is beginner-friendly should have customer support that is ‘;second to none’. Ideally you want a hosting service that can provide proper support 24/7.
Knowing you have the support, as and when you need it will be reassuring and reduce any anxieties you may have. After all your blog is your brand and ultimately your business, so if there is a problem that is out of your control, it needs to be addressed in a timely manner.
7. Value for money
The hosting industry is incredibly competitive, and ultimately you want the ‘best bang for your buck’. You need to be looking at a hosting solution that goes that little bit further to make your experience as a beginner easier.
Some hosting companies will include a domain name in with their package, others will include SSL certificates and other incentives. Remember it is a buyers market,so always look at the best deal for you.
Pay as you go or annually?
Most domain hosting companies will list their ‘monthly cost. but you will need to sign up for a minimum term (usually 12 months). There are some companies that offer a ‘pay as you go’ service or a ‘trial period’. This is quite useful, because you can try them out, and if you decided they are not for you, you move on to another hosting company.
Top 4 Best WordPress Hosting for Beginners
#1. Bluehost WordPress Hosting
✔ 1 x Website
✔ 50 GB SSD Storage
✔ FREE Domain (for the first year)
✔ SSL Certificate
✔ 5 Parked Domains
✔ 25 SubDomains
✔ $200 Marketing Credit
Bluehost have been in the game for very long time. Initially starting under two different names in 1996. Bluehost was officially born in 2003, and at the time of writing hosts well over 2 million domains.
They are still one of the best WordPress hosting services for beginners. Their basic package has everything you need to get started and at $3.95 per month (billed annually) you get a lot for your money. 1-click WordPress CMS install, with access to all WordPress features, including all plugins, SEO tools, premium themes – the whole shebang!
You also get incredible reliability. 99.99% up-time seems to be the norm, which is very important., especially when you start to build your audience and earn money from your blog.
Storage of 50 GB SSD is more than enough for a beginner, and the shared hosting is second to none. As your site grows you can migrate to more suitable plans such as VPS hosting and ultimately dedicated hosting.
The customer support at Bluehost is what you would expect from a company of this size. With over 700 employees working around the clock, you can be confident any issues you experience will be dealt with swiftly.
The mandatory SSL certificates are included in the price, as well as a whole bunch of other features. If you are just starting out, Bluehost is hard to beat. When you consider the WordPress ‘Business’ package costs over five times as much. Bluehost makes a lot of sense for the beginner blogger.
#2. SiteGround WordPress Hosting
✔1 x Website
✔ Free WP Migration
✔10 GB Storage
✔10,000 Monthly Visitors
✔ SSL Certificate
✔ Unmetered Traffic
✔ 24/7 Support
✔ Free Email
✔ Free Cloudfare CDN
✔ Free daily Backup
SiteGround have been around since 2004 and they currently host nearly 2 million websites. They are one of the best shared WordPress hosting providers currently available and they offer the kind of features you would usually expect from a more expensive managed WordPress hosting platform.
The other great feature is SiteGround has 5 data centres in 4 countries, so if your target audience is in Europe, for example. You can have your site hosted in the UK or the Netherlands.
As with Bluehost, SiteGround offers exceptional value for money when it comes to WordPress hosting. You get all the bells and whistles, including SSL certificates, WordPress CMS, Unmetered traffic and even free WordPress migration (if you already have a site hosted elsewhere).
Their customer service is on a par with Bluehost’s. SiteGround have over 500 employees, and customer reports consistently praise the excellent 24/7 support on offer.
One of the areas SiteGround exceeds is speed and uptime, two very important metrics when considering a hosting plan. Their platform consistently comes out tops in industry reviews and customer reviews.
Is SiteGround better than Bluehost? In all fairness, if you are a beginner there isn’t really a lot to choose between the two. There are some features available with this hosting service that go that little bit further than what Bluehost has to offer (speed and server location). But ultimately the choice is yours.
#3. HostGator WordPress Hosting
✔ 1 x Website
✔ 1 GB Backups
✔ 100k visitors per month
✔ SSL Certificate
✔ FREE Domain
HostGator are another well-established hosting company. Founded in 2002, they have expanded exponentially and just like the competition offer an excellent package for beginners.
Interestingly HostGator is owned by the same parent company as Bluehost – Endurance International Group. So as you can imagine that again, there is not an awful lot to choose from between the two.
I have been doing a bit of research and it seems that HostGator are pretty good for beginner WordPress hosting, and include all the usual features in their entry-level Hatchling plan.
If you are after super cheap WordPress hosting, it would definitely be worth giving Hostgator a try. At present they are offering an excellent deal on the Hatchling plan. This includes one-click WordPress CMS installation, SSL, FREE Domain and unmetered bandwidth.
#4. Wealthy Affiliate All-in-One Hosting and Learning Platform
What is Wealthy Affiliate?
Wealthy Affiliate is what is known as an ‘all-in-one’ platform. This means that you get WordPress websites, shared hosting, training and ongoing support. On top of all of that, you also get access to a social network of thousands of other bloggers.
This does come at a cost though. Wealthy Affiliate offer two tiers: Free membership and Premium membership which costs $49 per month.
Wealthy Affiliate free membership does give you access to two free WordPress websites with their proprietary .siterubix.com domain extension. These sites are very similar in their limited functionality to the free websites available from WordPress.
Premium membership gives you shared hosting for up to 25 .com websites and 25 .siterubix.com websites. All these sites use the WordPress CMS, and include the all important SSL certificates.
I have been a member of Wealthy Affiliate since November 2018, and I am happy with the service I have received. There are some limitations to the shared hosting, but overall I believe that it is a good platform for beginners.
$49 per month is quite a lot, if you are on a tight budget, and there is an amazing amount of free, quality training available on places like YouTube.
If money is tight, I would suggest using one of the hosting platforms above like Bluehost or Hostgator. If money is really tight and you can only afford to pay monthly, it might be worth considering somewhere like Namecheap.com. Their WordPress hosting excellent value with the added bonus of being able to pay as you go.
For more information, check out my full Wealthy Affiliate review.
WordPress is one of the best blogging platforms available, and it’s great for beginners. You can start today with no financial commitment whatsoever! It is a great place to start out your affiliate marketing journey as it is very blogger focused.
Using the free version of WordPress will also give you time to familiarise yourself with the way it works, and all the little nuances. The more time you spend using the platform, the more confident you will become. And before you know it, it will become second nature.
As far as the paid WordPress.com plans are concerned, I believe they don’t offer the same value for money as going down the route of shared WordPress hosting platforms like Bluehost, SiteGround or HostGator.
All of the 3 WordPress hosting companies mentioned above offer excellent value for money and are ideal to get full WordPress CMS with access to all the features you will need for under $4 per month – now that’s value!
Of course, if you want to go down the route of an all-in-one hosting and training platform like Wealthy Affiliate, then that is not a bad idea, particularly if you are a novice. Building your first blog within a fully supported online community can give you a big boost and help you on your way to success. The other great thing about Wealthy Affiliate is that the whole process is simplified making it very beginner-friendly.
Thank you for taking the time out to read this post, if you need any advice, please comment below and I will get back to you within 24hrs.