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:
- Decide on a personal finance niche
- Choose a personal finance blog type
- Select a domain name
- Select a hosting option
- Install WordPress
- Choose and install a blog theme
- Install basic WordPress plugins
- Create basic pages
- 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:
- Early retirement
- General finance
- 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’s overall two different types of blogs in the personal finance sphere: advice blogs and personal story blogs.
Advice blogs are blogs that provide 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 is 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 own blog as part of this group.
Which of these blog types suit 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 currently 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:
- It should be unique
- It should be short (2-3 words maximum)
- It should be related to the blog type and niche
- It should be available in a .com version (test domain availability at name.com here) – 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 two different providers:
- Bluehost (if you are new and want a cheaper option)
- SiteGround (if you prefer a better and more expensive option)
I have used both providers in the past and have been happy with both.
For this blog, I use SiteGround. It is faster and the customer service beats all other hosting providers in speed and accuracy, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use Bluehost too.
5. Install WordPress
Now to the more technical part. Installing WordPress.
The example below is for Bluehost, but it is the same procedure for SiteGround. If you don’t know how to set it up, their support will help you within minutes.
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 to keep 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”
Great job! You have just made your first WordPress installation.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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 plugin, but to begin with I recommend you install the following free plugins:
- W3 Total Cache: It makes your website much faster (which your readers and Google will like)
- Yoast SEO: It makes your website easier to read for Google and increases the chance they will send visitors your way
- Akismet: Blocks spam comments on your articles (there will be a lot)
- 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 – your theme’s customizer might also include an option to do this, otherwise install this plugin)
- 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:
- Terms of Conditions
- Potential other disclaimer (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 a 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 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.
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 – 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 – 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 – I wish I had more time to do this!)
- Plan your posts ahead – 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 – 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 🙂