Our blog started as a way for Julie to record our travels and keep our families updated with our adventures, but it has grown into something more. It has become a vehicle to connect us to other full-time travelers and a platform to allow us to share our knowledge and experience with others. As a result, it has also become a business that has generated revenue for us. Below we’ll walk you though the five simple steps to help you start a successful blog.
- Choose your blogging platform.
- Secure a domain name and hosting.
- Configure your blog.
- Create useful content that provides value.
- Employ income generating strategies.
1. Choose Your Blogging Platform
To start a blog you’ll need to select a blogging platform. This is a tool that helps you to get your content up onto the web. There are many blogging platforms available, but the most common by far (and what we use) is WordPress. The advantages to using WordPress include:
- It’s free (although you do need to make a small investment for a domain web host – more on that in Step 2).
- It’s easy to set up.
- It’s been around for many years and is a robust and secure system (although you do need to keep it up-to-date to maintain security).
- It has a whole industry of tool providers, designers and developers around it that will help you to customize your blog.
WordPress has two different tools:
- WordPress.com – This is where they host your blog, look after the back end, and give you access to have it on their own domain. It’s free to start but, you have pay to for upgrades.
- WordPress.org – This option gives you complete control. You choose where you want to host the blog so you control how it looks, operates and how you can monetize it. WordPress.org is free, but you will pay for your own hosting, domain etc. This is the option we use.
2. Secure a Domain Name and Hosting
You can do this separately or together. To make things simple, we chose Bluehost as our web host and got our domain for free from them.
WordPress has been recommending Bluehost for blog hosting since 2005. With 1-click WordPress installation, 24/7 support, and a super affordable rate, this is a great option for building your first website or blog. If you use the link below, we will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. If not, no worries we’re still happy to share what we’ve learned so far.
When you go to the Bluehost website, you will be prompted to pick a plan. We choose the basic one for $3.95 a month. There are two additional levels if you want more functions. However, we’ve been able to get them with plugins (more on this later).
Next you will able to choose a domain. This is the name of your website. Choosing a domain name is similar to choosing a company name — it requires a lot of thought and consideration. Your domain name is your identity on the web; you want to make sure you choose a domain name that not only fits your business, but is also easy to find and promote. Read this article for Tips for Choosing the Perfect Domain Name.
3. Configure Your Blog
If you’ve gone with Bluehost as your domain and hosting provider, installing WordPress is super simple. In fact they have created a video to show you exactly how to do it:
If you have any trouble during this process, they have a live chat support system which enables you to ask questions of their support team.
When we were setting up our blog on BlueHost, we followed these awesome tutorials. Here’s another good video that introduces you to what you’re looking at on your WordPress dashboard.
We actually watched all of the videos in this series and feel that it helped give us a good foundation for the running our blog.
4. Provide Value to Others
The most important part of having a successful (and profitable if that is your goal) blog is to start with a strategy. That means setting goals. What do you want to achieve, how will you do it, and why do you want to do it? Simon Sinek, author of the book Start With Why said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” To hear his truly inspirational message watch his Ted talk here. Understanding your why, or your purpose, will help you connect with your readers/followers. This is the key to true blogging success. It doesn’t matter with niche you choose, many others will already be working in that space. What is important is that you are authentic and can convey your purpose to your target audience.
Here are three full-time RV travelers and bloggers who are doing a great job in their respective niches:
- Ashely, an RVer with an eye for style, founded the RV remodeling and decoration website, RV Inspiration. She showcases other RVers’ work as well as her own to help you find the best ideas for your RV décor and functionality.
- Liz Wilcox, founded of the Virtual Campground, an RV Entertainment and Culture site. Her goal is to provide the funniest posts, interesting stories, and latest trends in the RV space.
- Kyle & Olivia started Drivin’ and Vibin’ as a way to chronicle their travels and lessons learned on their journey to live minimally and deliberately in a 16ft vintage travel trailer. They share their favorite free camping and boondocking sites on their blog and YouTube channel.
5. Employ Income Generating Strategies
Ad Revenue – The most common method is pay per click advertising via a Google AdSense account, but it is not the only way. You can also get sponsors to pay for a certain amount of ad space on your website. Another method commonly used by bloggers is free products and/or payment for product reviews.
Affiliate Marketing – Another option to earn an income from a blog is through affiliate programs. In this case, you’re essentially paid for referring new clients and customers to other businesses. Many bloggers will write articles about products or services and link to the business for a “commission” of any sale. A simple example of this is the Amazon Associates affiliate program. Say you blog about RVing with children and recommend products that can be purchased through Amazon. You will link to the product within your post and embed code so that if the reader clicks through and purchases that item (or anything else), you will earn a commission.
Products – Bloggers also create their own products to sell to their readers. These products can take many forms. They can be electronic like eBooks or courses, or physical products like merchandise (T- shirts, mugs, etc.). Some bloggers even sell coaching or membership services.
Profitable Blogging Roadmap – If you’re looking for some guidance on how to make money blogging, check out Blog Beautifully by Krista Dickson who also happens to be a full-time RVer. She offers a wonderful free resource, the Profitable Blogging Roadmap to walk you through the 7 key steps in building a blog that can replace the income you make at your day job.
Keep at It
Building a successful blog is not something that occurs overnight. Don’t be discouraged. Network with other bloggers or entrepreneurs to hep you stay motivated. And leave a comment here to let me know how you’re doing in your journey!