How To Start A Personal Finance Blog

How To Start A Personal Finance Blog

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, but is 100% honest and unbiased. I donate 20% of blog profits to charity.


Have you decided to start a personal finance blog? Or are you still just thinking about it? Amazing! It is a lot of fun and hard work.

I started this blog in 2016 and have learned a ton since, so I thought my experience of how to start a personal finance blog might come in handy for others too.

To start a personal finance blog, you need to go through eight steps:

  1. Decide on a personal finance niche
  2. Choose a personal finance blog type
  3. Select a domain name
  4. Select a hosting option
  5. Install WordPress
  6. Choose and install a blog theme
  7. Install basic WordPress plugins
  8. Create basic pages
  9. Write and publish your first post

Let’s get this blog started!

1. Decide on a personal finance niche

Before you get going with all the technical stuff, you must take a step back and consider which personal finance niche you want to be in.

There’s plenty of niches to choose from:

  • Budgeting
  • Debt
  • Early retirement
  • Family/lifestyle
  • Frugality/minimalism
  • General finance
  • Investing
  • Making money
  • Real estate
  • Traditional retirement

How do you choose your niche?

I believe you should consider what you like the most and what you know something about.

If you don’t like the niche you choose, your blog will never become a success. You must enjoy reading, speaking, researching and writing about the topics in your niche, otherwise, you will fail within a year as many bloggers do.

If you happen to know something about the niche you choose you will make it easier for yourself to get started. However, it is not a prerequisite to start a blog in my opinion.

2. Choose your blog type

With your niche in place, you will notice there are overall two different types of blogs in the personal finance sphere: advice blogs and personal story blogs.

Advice blogs are blogs that give general finance advice (think simpledollar.com, etc.). They might have a single or multiple authors, but the authors are not in focus on the blog.

Personal story blogs are exactly opposite advice blogs. The focus is on the author(s) who shares a great deal about his/her personal life. The posts can still contain good advice but are often mixed with first-hand experiences. The posts are often based on personal opinions and thoughts.

In fact, there’s a third blog type which is a mix of the two. I consider my blog as part of this group.

Which of these blog types suits you best? I write about my personal life and write more generic advice articles too. I would like my blog to be more personal in time, but now, I blog using a pseudonym because I want to stay anonymous.

3. Choose a domain name

Now that you have your blog niche and type in place, let’s move on to the more technical stuff (I love this part!).

One of the first things you must do is decide on a great domain name. A domain name is the name of your website (my domain name is www.moneymow.com).

This can be a fun, but also frustrating task. You can come up with many good domain names. The problem is that most of the good ones are already taken (at least the .com version).

How do you find a good domain name? I follow these tips when I make up my domain names:

  1. It should be unique
  2. It should be short (2-3 words maximum)
  3. It should be related to the blog type and niche
  4. It should be available in a .com version (test domain availability at name.com here) โ€“ some bloggers are starting to use other domain suffixes, but I prefer .com versions (do you want your new amazing blog name to already have a .com version registered by someone else?)

Once you have found an available domain name, don’t rush out to buy it. You often get it for free when you register with a shared hosting provider.

My rules above necessitate that you create a blog on your own domain. I am simply not a fan of domains like “mywebsite.wixsite.com” or “mywebsite.wordpress.com”. It is ugly and doesn’t look like a serious and professional blogger.

The only advantage of using domain names like that is that they are completely free (i.e. you don’t need to buy hosting), but they are severely limited in functionality and I don’t know any serious bloggers who prefer that option.

4. Select a hosting option

Now you must find a hosting option.

This involves deciding the content management system and finding a place to host it.

For bloggers, I always recommend using WordPress (not WordPress.com, but WordPress.org), which all large hosting providers support out of the box. Most of them offer one-click installs too.

Choosing a hosting provider doesn’t have to be difficult. When you start as a blogger, you are looking for shared hosting or WordPress hosting (i.e. not dedicated hosting, since you don’t own a server of your own).

I can recommend signing up with Bluehost.

Bluehost is a good, cheap option for beginners. The support is good and it’s easy to set up a new blog following theย flow below.



Bluehost has allowed me to offer 50% off the basic plan with a $2.95 special price for my readers ifย you sign up using the link in the blue button.


4.1. How to get started with Bluehost

If you are new to setting up a blog, I’ll show you how to get started with Bluehost.

Navigate to Bluehost to start creating a hosting account:

Next, you want to pick a plan that suits you. I suggest starting with the basic option as it is the cheapest and easily covers your needs for starting a new blog:

The next step is setting up a domain. If you bought one previously, you can transfer it here. Otherwise, you can also register a new domain in this step:

Now that you have your plan and domain set, you will be asked to create an account:

After entering your account information, you are asked for your payment information (we have to pay for the service after all):

The final step is to choose your package information (i.e. how many months you want to pay for upfront). The more months you pay for, the cheaper the price.

I always select Domain Privacy Protection too (so other people can’t see who owns the domain). I don’t select SiteLock, Codeguard, SEO tools or Office 365 mailbox:

Lastly, you will be asked to create a password:

… and finally, you can log in ๐Ÿ™‚

 



Bluehost has allowed me to offer 50% off the basic plan with a $2.95 special price for my readers ifย you sign up using the link in the blue button.


 

5. Install WordPress

Now to the more technical part. Installing WordPress.

The example below is for Bluehost. If you don’t know how to set it up, their support will help you within minutes.

The first time you log in, you can follow the Bluehost setup wizard:

Step 1: Name your website

Remember to indicate that you want a blog ๐Ÿ™‚

Step 2: Choose a website type

Step 3: Choose a theme

I’ll explain below how to get another theme if you can’t find something that suits you.

Step 4: Wait while WordPress is automatically installed

If you want to go the manual route and not use Bluehost’s setup wizard, you can use the following steps:

Step 1: Log in to your cPanel (control panel) account

Step 2: Find your Website and click “Install WordPress”

Step 3: Click the “Install” button

Step 4: Choose the domain name you would like to install it to (you have to register your domain before you can install WordPress)

Step 5: In the field next to the domain you can choose to make the installation in a subfolder. I would recommend keeping the directory field empty, but if you want your blog to be installed in a subfolder such as www.example.com/blog/, then you should write “blog” here. If you decide to do this, you should know that you also need to make another WordPress installation in the root folder (main domain) to make sure the front page is not empty.

Step 6: Click “advanced settings” and consider changing settings according to your preferences, read through the license and service agreements and tick the boxes before selecting “Install Now”

Install Now button

Great job! You have just made your first WordPress installation.

 



Bluehost has allowed me to offer 50% off the basic plan with a $2.95 special price for my readers ifย you sign up using the link in the blue button.


6. Choose and install a blog theme

Now to the fun part. Designing your personal finance blog!

When you create a WordPress blog, you can either choose a free or a paid theme.

If you follow Bluehost’s startup wizard after signing up, you can select a theme as part of the process as shown above.

However, you might want another theme. In that case, you should follow the steps below.

Themes are not that expensive, so I often prefer paid themes. They are continuously updated, are easier to customize to your needs, are faster, better SEO-optimized, etc. However, free themes can work as a beginning.

If you want to install a paid theme, you should follow these steps:

Look for a theme on Themeforest.net (one of the biggest sites for themes). I bought my current theme, Soledad, here. I always recommend choosing a WordPress theme with many previous sales and good ratings because they are usually the best optimized and most customizable ones.

Make sure to select “WordPress” under “Web Themes & Templates”:

Once you have purchased the theme, navigate to “Themes” under “Appearance” in your WordPress menu:

Select “Add New” and then “Upload Theme”:

Here you should upload the .zip-file with your theme’s name that you can download after purchasing it on Themeforest.net. Once you have uploaded it, you can customize in a live preview before activating it for the entire world to see ๐Ÿ™‚

If you want to install a free theme, you should follow these steps:

Navigate to the same place in your WordPress admin as for a paid theme (“Add New” under “Themes” and “Appearance”), but instead of clicking “Upload Theme”, you simply search for a theme within WordPress. You can either use the “Search themes” box and search for keywords or scroll through the most popular ones using the menu:

You can click “Preview” to see how the free theme will look and your blog before clicking “Install” and activating it.

When I started blogging, I use the “Olsen Light” theme for free, but I quickly wanted to upgrade due to its limited functionality.

If you already now want to use a paid theme, which I recommend, you also don’t have to customize two different themes.

 



Bluehost has allowed me to offer 50% off the basic plan with a $2.95 special price for my readers ifย you sign up using the link in the blue button.


7. Install basic plugins

Now that you have found a domain name and hosting provider, installed WordPress and chosen a theme, you are actually live and ready to start blogging.

However, in WordPress, you can use plugins to make your website and blogging experience even better. I use a number of paid plugins, but to begin with, I recommend you install the following free plugins:

  1. W3 Total Cache: It makes your website much faster (which your readers and Google will like)
  2. Yoast SEO: It makes your website easier to read for Google and increases the chance they will send visitors your way
  3. Akismet: Blocks spam comments on your articles (there will be a lot)
  4. Google Analytics for WordPress: Sign up for Google Analytics and then install this plugin (if you know how to code, create a child theme in WordPress and insert this manually instead โ€“ your theme’s customizer might also include an option to do this, otherwise install this plugin)
  5. Pixabay: Access to royalty-free photos to use in your posts

There’s plenty of other plugins you will need as you start finding out how you like to blog, but these are good starter plugins and they are free.

To install the plugins, simply click “Add New” under “Plugins”, search for your plugin and click “Install Now” and then “Activate”:

Before you go all crazy with different plugins, you should, in general, avoid using too many of them. The more you use, the more they will slow your site and the more hosting resources it will use.

If you are in doubt of how to set each of the plugins up, all of the ones I recommend are widely used, so just search on Google for e.g. “Yoast SEO settings”.

8. Create the basic pages

One step left before you can share all of your golden nuggets with your readers!

I recommend you create basic pages on your site before starting to blog by selecting “Add New” under “Pages” in your WordPress admin menu:

In my opinion (and to be compliant), you need the following pages from day one:

  1. About
  2. Contact
  3. Privacy Policy
  4. Terms of Conditions
  5. Potential other disclaimers (e.g. affiliate)

Hire someone professional or search for templates or online generators for the latter three.

You can create the navigation/menu in both your header and footer. I include the first two in my header and all of them in my footer. You access your menu settings here:

9. Final step: Write and publish your first post

Now to the really fun part. You get to tell the world exactly what you want!

To create your first blog post, go to “Add New” under “Posts”:

Here you’ll find a text editor where you can write your article. You can add media (pictures, animations etc.) using the toolbar in the top and there’s plenty of other options to familiarize yourself with too. For example, you add the main picture to your post by selecting “Set featured image”, and you can add a post category under “Categories”.

Go explore the various features and try to write and publish a post.

What should you write about? Always think about your readers. What are the common challenges they face? What are things they love/hate? What are things you are particularly knowledgeable about?

As you become more used to blogging, you will find inspiration in all sorts of places. Make sure to keep a list somewhere of all your good ideas.

 



Bluehost has allowed me to offer 50% off the basic plan with a $2.95 special price for my readers ifย you sign up using the link in the blue button.


Other tips to start a personal finance blog

You’ll have plenty of fun blogging and learn a lot.

I have summarized a few of my learnings from my first two years of blogging:

  • Blogging is hard work โ€“ your blog will most likely not take off from day one and it will take many years before you make a good hourly salary (if you ever get there)
  • Commit to at least six months of blogging when you start โ€“ most blogs fail within the first year, so make sure to commit to a regular blogging schedule for the first six months to get into the habit
  • Connect with other bloggers in your niche through e-mail and blog comments from day one (you establish good relationships, get inspiration, and you get traffic from referral traffic if you add value โ€“ I wish I had more time to do this!)
  • Plan your posts ahead โ€“ I try to have at least two months of content scheduled
  • Always respond to your readers’ comments and emails
  • Set up social profiles on at least Facebook and Twitter (maybe even before buying your domain name)
  • Create an e-mail list from day one for newsletters and new posts (I use Mailchimp and their plugin for WordPress)
  • Commit to a regular publishing schedule to begin with โ€“ it makes it easier for yourself to get going and stay motivated

That’s it! You are now ready to start a personal finance blog.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Happy blogging ๐Ÿ™‚

7 comments

7 comments

Al April 25, 2019 - 21:05

Greetings from Chicago
Your website has been very informative. I wish i found it a couple weeks ago!! I just started my own finance blog and I’m learning as I go. Unfortunately the platform I picked does not allow comments after my blog posts๐Ÿ˜ก
If you have the time can you please look at my site and blog and let me know what you think?
Be honest this is my first blog and I’m just starting (It’s been almost a week)…. I now have 117 hits (not many from me)..is that good for just starting? Any comments, suggestions, and advice would be greatly appreciated.
Comments can be left at the bottom of my sight
Thank you so very much, Al
Debtblows.com

Reply
Carl Jensen April 25, 2019 - 21:53

I’m happy you could use the steps on how to start a blog! Good luck with your site ๐Ÿ™‚

Reply
Mintm Mintm April 20, 2019 - 07:52

Awesome blog post! The content was very detailed and helpful.

Reply
Scovia Driwaru April 19, 2019 - 12:08

Hi.
I always write things that people like a lot, and they always advise me to start my own blog, and I am thinking towards giving it a try, but my worry is will it hit, and if am looking at it as a money making thing, will it earn for me? Am a finance person, and I like to read & write a lot about these things, but how many people are out there to like my page and make it world wide known. I have a fever of how first or will the blog really hit. I need your advise on these, and how I can start. Will my articles also be published on the papers. Etc.

Reply
Carl Jensen April 19, 2019 - 12:23

Hi Scovia,

I think you should just give it a try ๐Ÿ™‚

Blogging is a matter of “learning by doing”. You never know if your blog will become a hit, but there’s many things you can do to influence it. The most important thing is to be consistent in the beginning – slowly you will see traffic coming to your site. After two years of blogging, I’m starting to see my personal finance blog take off, so you need to be patient.

Good luck!

/Carl

Reply
Nick @ TotalBalance.blog February 8, 2019 - 12:53

Thanks for the advice, grandpa! ๐Ÿ˜›

While I do agree with the sentiment that .com should be the default TLD (if you are in doubt), there’s no evidence to support the claim that .com in any way should be “better” than other TLDs ๐Ÿ˜‰ .com is the most-frequent used TLD for spam, so there ya go ๐Ÿ˜›
In my opinion the TLD doesn’t matter that much – what matters is that you pick a good name for your blog, and somethingFIRE or FIREsomething isn’t in my opinion a great name for a blog – but that’s just my opinion. Yours is excellent, of course ๐Ÿ˜‰ (the name, that is)

Reply
Carl Jensen February 8, 2019 - 17:42

Haha, you’re very welcome. I have been wanting to write this post for a while since I often get the question!

You are right that there’s no evidence to support it has a negative or positive effect (e.g. on SEO). It’s just my personal preference “when I make up my domain names” ๐Ÿ˜‰

To be honest I didn’t really think long about my domain name. I wanted to have something related to money/finance and then I liked the combination of “money” and “mow” the way you pronounce it. Furthermore, “mow” can both be a noun and a verb meaning either “a stack” or “to mow something” (e.g. harvesting). We mow (earn/harvest) money and stack them (our net worth) ๐Ÿ˜‰

This being said, I like your domain name because it makes a lot of sense with your story and you use it actively on the site. And you don’t have a big .com competitor for “totalbalance” ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a great weekend, amigo!

Reply

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