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I have so many people in our Facebook group, Living Differently, who are about to start, or have recently started a blog or website that I thought a one off, comprehensive list or guide, a check list, would be a great idea to help them on their way. It will also help me stop repeating myself. These days everyone likes to have a printable pdf for lists and guides like this and that’s something we can do (see below).
Let’s start at the very beginning, it pops into your mind that documenting your experiences, ideas and images in a blog would be a nice thing to do. What next?
A Check List For Bloggers
Why Do You Want to Start a Blog?
People start blogs for many reasons, I started for fun and because I wanted to help new homeschooling families with paperwork while spreading the word about what a great option home education was.
That first blog evolved into the huge global travel blog you’re looking at right now.
This blog, and several smaller ones, support our family’s travel lifestyle these days. Not only does it bring us much-needed cash, it also opens doors for us.
I received my first media pass in year 1, and in year 2 I was being asked to review hotels. So why do you want to start a blog?
- as a hobby?
- to stay in touch with distant friends and family?
- to record your childhoods for when they have left home or you are long gone?
- to document a special event or big trip?
- as an educational tool for your kids?
- to create an electronic photo album with words and pictures?
- to make a little extra cash?
- to make a lot of extra cash?
- to enter the serious blogging world and become a professional, enjoying everything that entails?
- to help publicise some other business?
I’ve been through all of the above steps over the last decade, starting with zero knowledge and know-how. All of the above reasons are valid and all are achievable.
Why am I a Blogger?
It happened by accident, a hobby became a business. I used to have a very respectable, serious career, I was a hospital scientist. Blogging is far more fun. I blog because I can do it anywhere, with my kids.
They’re the most important thing in the world to me and I’m incredibly blessed to have never been separated from them by work or school.
We’re not rich, we don’t always make one of those 6 figure incomes that a lot of bloggers talk about, (it happens sometimes) but I think we have a millionaire lifestyle. What more could I ask?
We could, maybe, make much more money, but I have realistic needs and goals, enough is all we need. That said, our income grows all the time (give or take COVID), it will be interesting to see where it leads us and how this evolves over coming years.
If you’re in our free Facebook group or you’re one of my Skype chat clients, you’ll know that I actually really do love helping people with all this stuff (as well as travel and homeschooling), I don’t sell it particularly, it’s just a thing I do.
How do Bloggers Make Money?
I make money from my websites every day of the year, 24 hours a day, awake or asleep, at my desk, on a beach, or in the Himalayas. This is what they call passive income, being location independent, I am a digital nomad.
I do not have to work at it every day, I can take breaks. I don’t produce content or write to a schedule. I work to fit my life and my family. I work hard, but I can do that where I like and when I like.
There are many, many ways to make money as a blogger, these include:
- Advertising (Google, Mediavine, or Ezoic place advertisements on my sites in positions I can control. They pay me per view or per click, you’ll see some on this page)
- Affiliate Links (I profit from between 50 and 100 different affiliate schemes, every day. There will be some on this page)
- Creating and selling e-books or courses (Not something I’ve done so far but if I get inspired I might. I WILL NOT line my pockets through courses, ever.)
- Sponsored posts
- Banner advertising
- Writing for other publications
- Being paid for reviews
- Being paid for social media promotions, campaigns and mentions.
Bloggers are also magnets for “free stuff”. This can be in the form of hotel stays, free admissions, and products to review. I’ve even had a free cruise.
Don’t start a blog because you want “free stuff.” It’s the worst reason I can imagine and you’ll quickly come unstuck. I just want you to be aware of the possibilities.
I will tell you now, that to take a blog to a high level, you have to love it, you have to be committed to it and you’ll have to work hard. Nobody ever got something for nothing in this industry.
We GENUINELY fund our life through blogging, not by selling courses. People will say it can’t be done. THEY ARE WRONG. We will not sell out and become course sellers, we love our travel and writing about it too much.
We already have a post on how to start a blog and start making money. It’s here. It’s free.
Why You Should Go Self-Hosted Rather Than a Free Blog
There’s a very simple reason to go self-hosted ( don’t be scared by that term!) right from day one. It’s a pain to switch your free blog to self-hosted further down the line. I know because I did it.
It’s quite likely you’ll want to take blogging further, particularly once you make a few dollars. Start the ball rolling professionally from the beginning and you’ll be on the right track.
We hosted through Site Ground, they were the third hosting company we tried and I wholeheartedly recommend them for beginner – intermediate bloggers. Their customer service was always superb and they’ve held my hand through many technical problems, fixing things for me in minutes.
This is an affiliate link to Site Ground, if you use it, we make a commission and we’ll be extremely grateful.
It’s was free for me to switch to Site Ground from your existing host if you’d enjoy a faster, better hosting company, other hosts will charge you to handle the move, Site Ground doesn’t. They also give out free SSL certificates ( http:// to https://) and deal with the migration for you.
Even if blogging remains a hobby, think about it, most people spend a few bucks on their hobbies, don’t they? Blogging is actually one of the cheaper pass times and it’s pretty easy to recoup initial outlay if you stick with it.
- Buying your domain name, roughly $10 per year.
- Hosting, under $10 per month.
That’s it, there are no other costs unless you start buying professional blogging tools and plugins. You probably won’t need or want any straight away and we’ll talk about those later.
What is a Blog? What Will You Write About?
A blog should not be a diary. That’s a common wrong assumption.
I’m forever being asked how I feel comfortable with sharing my life so publicly. I actually share very little and we don’t do YouTube or posed photos for The Gram, we find that pretty cringe.
I write travel stories now and then, like this one where I talked about a string of bad luck in Egypt, or this one about the joy of trekking with my son, but if you read them you’ll see that there’s nothing really personal there.
I don’t share anything that I don’t want the world to know. This site has received over 300,000 views per month, I’m cool with those people reading the above, if I wasn’t I wouldn’t do it.
The bulk of the content on my sites is fact-based guides, resources and how-tos. Those guides are sprinkled with personality and real-life experiences, but there’s nothing that I’d hesitate to share with the world.
I’m particularly guarded with the kids, I see people over-sharing their kids’ health, emotions, and well-being. I don’t do that.
I also don’t let the world know exactly where we are at any given time and I schedule posts to conceal our whereabouts, just in case.
Also, who knows, maybe I’m just writing a fictional account from a desk somewhere in suburbia? I’ve been accused of that and of photoshopping all of our photos. It’s an interesting idea!
The New Blogger’s Checklist
Sign up to follow this website and you should receive a free, printable pdf, our New Blogger’s Checklist. Free pdf’s are in production on other topics too.
I wrote this list a few years ago so some things will have changed but the basic outline remains the same.
Free Downloadable PDF Check List For Bloggers
We no longer run our bloggers’ group, (sorry, closed now), it cost peanuts and gives you a high level of personal help and support.
I was in that group with you, you won’t see scheduled, fake, updates, it’s me. Leave a comment below if you’d like to chat more about this.
Update: This post was first published quite a few years ago, but is kept updated, we are now hosted by Agathon purely because we outgrew SiteGround. Our checklist is still here and most of it is valid today, but a few things may be out of date. We still think it’s a good free resource for you.
Thanks for following. I can see the subscriber list and the first few names on it have been with us for 10 years, that’s pretty amazing. Thank you again, from all of us, and good luck with your blog.