This post will provide details on how you can start a blog like Financial Samurai. I have been blogging since 2009 and it has changed my life for the better.
If you want to learn how to start a blog, you might as well learn from the owner of one of the largest independently owned personal finance blogs on the web with over 1 million visitors a month.
The global pandemic made people realize the importance of being able to make money from home. A blog can never be shut down, no matter how much your governor or mayor wants to lock everything down.
Thus, once you learn how to start a blog, you will feel an incredible amount hope and freedom. Everybody should aim to have multiple income streams for financial security.
I also believe everybody should have a blog/website. Why let companies like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms get rich off of you? Get rich off yourself with your own platform!
With a blog, you can find more rewarding work, pick up some extra consulting opportunities, make friends with like-minded people from all over the world, or quit your job and just make money online for a living.
Blogs have also grown much more valuable since they cannot be shut down in a pandemic, unlike many other business.
My Quick Blogging Story
I started Financial Samurai in 2009, during the depths of the Global Financial Crisis. I had come up with the idea to start Financial Samurai in 2006 after graduating from business school, but wanted to focus on my finance career.
After 2.5 years of blogging (2009 – 2012), I was making ~$80,000 a year online and decided to take a leap of faith and kiss Corporate America good-bye in 2012! No more boss. Gone is the terrible commute. Goodbye alarm clock. What a dream come true! It's all about leveraging the internet to work for you.
Now that I've been blogging for over 14 years, blogging just gets better and better due to economies of scale. Once you establish a brand online, you open yourself up to enormous opportunities.
Not only do you have many more opportunities to make money online or promote your message, your children can have them too. It wasn't until I became a father in 2017 that I fully realized the power of having my own platform.
How Much Money Can You Make Blogging?
To get you motivated on how to start your own blog, let me share a real blogging income statement.
Here is someone who makes ~$150,000 for his blog through advertising. But then he makes an additional ~$180,000 due to all the opportunities that resulted from his blog! He learned how to start a blog five years ago and is crushing it today.
The opportunities are endless once you've developed an online platform. The key is to just start. You'll naturally figure things out as you go along.
What's also very attractive about a blog is its cash flow. Given interest rates have plummeted post pandemic, the value of income-producing assets have gone way up. In other words, it takes a lot more capital to generate the same amount of risk-adjusted income.
One of my favorite comparisons is real estate versus blogging, my two favorite asset classes. With real estate, you need a lot of capital to buy a rental property due to the down payment. But with a blog, you hardly need any money to start. Yet, the income potential from a blog is much greater. Let me teach you how to start a blog in under 30 minutes today.
How To Start A Blog
Follow these steps on how to start a blog and you'll get up and running in no time. When I started Financial Samurai in 2009, it took me two days plus $1,500 after hiring someone from Craigslist. Today, with my instructions, you can start a blog in under an hour for just $3/month. Improvements in technology have made it easier and more affordable than ever to start a blog.
1) Sign Up For A Web Host
A web host is simply a site server that has the ability to power your site and troubleshoot it whenever necessary. Without a web host, you cannot have a running website. There are free web hosting options out there, but if you want a more stable site with higher up times and faster load speeds, it’s best to pay for a reliable web host company.
Everybody should start with the most basic, cheapest package possible, and add more server power as traffic grows. Start with the basic Bluehost.com package at only $2.95 a month, ignore all the add-ons, and go from there.
You do not need all the add ons they promote. Just the basics are enough. And you'll want to keep costs as low as possible when you first start.
I've currently got a dedicated server with a dedicated person monitoring my site that costs ~$260/month. But I've also been blogging for over fourteen years and have over 1.5 million pageviews a month. Start small, and work your way up.
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
For 2023+, Bluehost allows new users to sign up directly through their platform. 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.
This experience allows customers to sign-up for Bluehost with a one-click automatic WordPress install at sign-up. You no longer have to manually install WordPress.
See the below screenshots to see how easy it is to install. FinancialSamurai.com is on WordPress, and has been on WordPress since 2009.
5) Choose A Professional Looking Theme
Bluehost customers get access to the Bluehost Marketplace, which offers the latest and greatest WordPress themes and plugins. You can rest assured that everything in the Bluehost Marketplace has been vetted and approved.
You can also get advice and help 24/7 from Bluehost's support team by calling 844-741-1192. They can help you navigate to the Bluehost Marketplace from your customer dashboard. In addition, they can help you determine the best theme and plugins for your blog.
Another option is to get hosting through WP Engine where you can access The Genesis Theme. Genesis is one of the most beloved WordPress themes out there. Genesis will provide you a simple, sleek layout that is fully customizable.
The theme is also Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 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 Genesis doesn't interest you, there are hundreds and hundreds of other great themes to choose from. Some are free and others come with a subscription or one-time fee. I used a basic, free theme for a year until I kept coming across other websites that used Genesis.
I wanted to be a little more unique since I saw other sites have the same free theme as mine, 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, there are plenty of people who can help.
Do These 5 Things To Grow Your Blog
Now that you know how to start a blog, it's time to work on getting traffic to your blog. To do so, I recommend the following steps to grow your blog.
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. Although “do-follow” links are more valuable, even a “no-follow” comment link has value to your blog.
2) Write great content where you have an edge.
It's better to write from experience because there are too many pontificators out there who clearly don't know what they are talking about. 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.
When you write with personality and experience, it's hard to be copied. There are a lot of copycat bloggers out there. The easiest blogs to copycat are blogs with many freelance writers publishing affiliate posts. Boring!
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 blogging 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.
One good way to build a community is to start a forum, like I have here with the FS Forum. I pop in there every once in a while to interact with readers in addition to responding to comments on my posts.
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.
6) Start guest posting for big media sites.
If you can catch a lucky break and get mentioned by a big media site, you can use that mention to reach out to other big media sites given you have more credibility.
Just be aware that if you guest post for big media sites, you lose editorial control. They will likely change your tone, your sentences, cut out lots of copy, and choose a more clickbaity title since they are more on a news cycle.
I'm a contributor on places like CNBC and Yahoo. As a result, I get link-backs and new visitors every time I publish a guest post on their site. Once you start writing for big media sites, your blog's credible goes way up. Then more big media sites will link back to you and invite you to guest post.
7) Start a newsletter.
In addition to publishing three times a week, I write a weekly free newsletter. This keeps 60,000+ people engaged with my writing.
Nobody what happens to your site in the search engines, you own your newsletter. Your newsletter is very valuable because readers have opted-in to hear specifically from you, buy from you, and follow your advice.
Today, there are great services like Substack that easily enable bloggers to monetize their newsletters.
8) Start a podcast.
Starting a newsletter is a no-brainer. However, if you have time, you may want to start a podcast as well to add a new layer of personality to your voice. I stated the Financial Samurai years ago (Apple) (Spotify) and have earned many new FS readers as result.
9) Publish a traditional book or e-book.
Being an author is one of the most respected professions in society. The easiest way to be an established author is to self-publish your own ebook or hardcopy book.
In 2012, I self-published a book on how to negotiate a severance to retire early or do something else. As a result, Financial Samurai is seen as an expert in severance negotiations.
The next step to build credibility is to traditionally publish a book. This is easier said than done because you made need an agent to get a book deal.
However, if you can sign a book deal with a Big 4 publisher like Penguin Random House, your blog will likely grow after the book is published. You will gain more media exposure, more link backs, and more status.
How Much Money Can You Make Blogging?
Now that you know how to start a blog and how to grow a blog, let's explore how much you can make blogging.
The sky really is the limit regarding how much you can make blogging. 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)
- CPC ads like Google Ads – earn money when someone clicks a link
- CPM – earn money based on pageviews / impressions
- Sponsored posts
- Sponsored newsletters
- Brand ambassador
- Public Speaking
- Selling 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.
Here's another article on how much bloggers can make online and how you can make money online too. The upside is unlimited and way better than just your median-paying job where you are at the mercy of a boss you may not like.
Potential Blogging Earnings Based on Traffic
The main variable to making money from a blog is traffic. The more traffic you can generate, the more money you will make online.
Take a look at the income by pageviews table below. It was created based on my eight years of experience as a personal finance blogger. For 90% of the blogs out there, they can generate between 1 cent to 10 cents per pageview. It's all about your niche and how well you optimize your traffic through newsletters, SEO, engagement, advertising, and so forth.
The chart is also relevant for websites in the health, sports, and education genres as well. Websites in the entertainment genre make less e.g. 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 less than three years later, I was free forever! I knew what I wanted to retire to, and that was blogging. 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, with millions of people unemployed or underemployed, finding different outlets of communication and different ways to make money is more important than ever.
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!
Click here to start your website today. Feel free to ignore all the add ons besides hosting and registering the URL to save money. You know how to start a blog after reading this article. The key is to just get started!
A Blog's Value Skyrockets Once You Have Kids
If you have kids, the value of a blog will grow immensely. Once I had my first child in 2017, I started to truly appreciate the value of having Financial Samurai.
Blogging not only gave me something intellectual to do at home as I raised my son and now daughter full-time. Blogging also generates enough income to provide for my family of four in expensive San Francisco.
Perhaps more importantly, I can teach my kids about blogging, content marketing, SEO, PR, podcasting, branding, and more as they grow older. It's great to learn practical things to help you in life instead of forced subjects you may have no interest in.
If you grow your blog large enough, your children will always have a job opportunity in this cruel and competitive world. There is always something you can do to make your blog better. When all you want as a parent is to have happy and independent children, having a blog is like having career and happiness insurance for them.
I plan to keep blogging for the next 20 years. The best time to start a blog was 10 years ago. The second best time to start a blog is today!
About the Author: Sam spent 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. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his passive retirement income. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, teaching people how to start a blog, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.
FinancialSamurai.com was started in 2009 and is one of the most trusted personal finance sites today with over 1.5 million organic pageviews a month. We believe in achieving financial freedom sooner, rather than later. Nobody is going to save you. So you might as well take action to save yourself!
Note – the rates listed above are subject to change.