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CHALLENGE DAY #2: Choosing a Profitable Blog Host and Platform

Believe it or not, which website host and platform you choose is the most important factor in how much money your blog can make. Even what theme you choose can indirectly affect how well your blog does.

We’re going to make sure you sign up for the host and platform that have the most money making potential and get the best theme for search engines and your readers. Of course, all my recommendations are based off what exactly what I use for my very own blogs!


I challenge you today to finish today’s lesson and get one step closer to an additional income stream in your life!


Today you will learn:

  • what blog host and platform you need to go with in order to make your blog profitable, and
  • how to set up your WordPress blog.

Remember, if you need help with anything at all, ask away in our Facebook community, and tag your question with #challengeday2.



New to this challenge?

Did you somehow find your way to this roadmap before even learning about what this challenge is about? Well, let’s get you started the right way.

Learn about this free blogging course here.


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THE BEST TYPE OF SITE TO MAKE MONEY WITH

You’re getting into blogging because you want to make money, right?

Well, what website host and platform you choose to blog with affects how much money you can make. It is the biggest differentiator.

It also makes a difference in how brands and readers view you, whether you can place ads on your blog and so much more.

Before we get into all that, let’s learn about two different types of sites so you understand why one site is able to make more money than the other.

SELF HOSTED VS NON-SELF HOSTED SITE

When you start a blog, you can get a self hosted or a non-self hosted blog.

Spoiler Alert: A self hosted blog is profitable and a non-self hosted blog is not.

SELF HOSTED blog

A self hosted blog has two parts: your blog and the hosting company’s server that it’s stored on.

Here’s an analogy for it:

  • Your blog is the house that you own and are building, and of course, your house needs to be built on land.
  • That piece of land in the blogging world is a hosting company’s server.
  • Your blog is built on, or rather, stored on a hosting company’s server. The server gives your blog space to exist on the internet. That way, anyone can access it through their computer, phone and tablet.

In real life, you want to first get land before you build a house.

So in the blogging world, you would first sign up with a hosting company to have access to their server where, with a one-click method provided by the hosting company, you can build your blog that you own.

Because you own your self hosted blog, you have full access to all your website files and the server they’re stored on.

You can do whatever you want with these files and build your site from the ground up exactly to your liking.

This is like owning your own home. You have the total freedom to customize your home exactly the way you want.

Best of all, you can make money from a self-hosted site!

NON-SELF HOSTED Site

A non-self hosted site is a free site on platforms like Tumbler or Blogger.

You can’t access all the website files, only your content, and you have no control of what may happen to your site in the long run or how the site works because you don’t own it.

It’s like renting. You can put the stuff that you own in your rental home, but you really can’t change the structure of the home and do whatever you like with it.

Although it’s free, it comes with one huge catch; you can make LITTLE TO NO money with a non-self website


THE “DOWNSIDE” OF A SELF-HOSTED BLOG

As I mentioned above, you need a self hosted blog if you want to treat it like a business and make serious money.

But there is one “downside” to getting a self-hosted blog. It’s not free.

To be upfront, it’s $3.95/month. However, most hosting companies make you pay for at least a full year of hosting upfront so your start-up cost will be at least $47.50.

As a result, it seems like a big chunk of change coming out of your pocket, which you might feel like you don’t have or you just don’t want to spend it.

That’s normal to feel that way, but listen to what all these bloggers say about spending a few dollars a month on hosting:

They all exclaimed that self-hosting is a must, and of course, I agree with them all!

Self-hosting is the way to go if you want to make money.

But even if you don’t want to make money that much money, and instead want to blog as a hobby or a side hustle, then self-hosting is still the way to go if you want complete control over it.

You know that saying, “You have to spend money to make money?” Well it’s true.

Please ask yourself this and be honest.

Do you want to invest in your future?

Do you want to invest in yourself?

If you’re feeling a little unsure about this “downside”, then learning about the benefits of a self hosted blog will definitely help you understand why this small investment is nothing in comparison!


My Own Experience: Many people don’t know this but before my first successful travel blog, I had a DIY blog that didn’t make any money or even get page views. That’s because I wasn’t serious about investing in a business and signed up for a free non-self hosted blog. Don’t make the same mistake as me!


BENEFITS OF A SELF HOSTED BLOG

Here are my top three reasons why you need a self hosted blog if you’re serious about starting a money making business.

COMPLETE OWNERSHIP

When you have a self hosted blog, you completely own everything on your site.

On Tumblr, Blogger, and other free, non-self hosted sites, there is always a chance that your blog can get shut down because you don’t own your site whereas on a self-hosted site, your blog will always exist as long as you want it to.

Furthermore on a self hosted blog, you can adjust everything to your liking, which includes how your blog theme works and looks.

This is so important for your brand image and even for search engines!

PROFESSIONALISM

Having a self-hosted site makes you look like a professional.

Imagine you’re a brand looking to sponsor a blogger.

  • What if you go on a free non-self hosted sites and see ads like “Get a Free Website With Wix!”? What do you think about that? Does that look professional or not?
  • What if you go to a blog URL that’s blogaboutcats.wordpress.com? Would you trust them over www.blogaboutcats.com?

Having a self-hosted site is more professional in the eyes of both brands and readers, and that professionalism leads to trust!

MONEY MONEY MONEY

You can more easily monetize a self hosted blog. In fact, sky’s the limit with how much money you can make with a self hosted blog.

Free, non-self hosted blogs severely limit how much money you can make. Here’s how:

  • Majority of companies and brands only work with self hosted blogs.
    • A non-self hosted blog is not taken as seriously.
    • Brands cannot trust a non-self hosted blog to exist in the near future.
  • Brands that have affiliate marketing programs mainly only work with self hosted blogs.
    • They need access to the backend of your self hosted blog to input code that helps them track referrals from your blog to their site. Free, non-self hosted blogs do not have this capability.
    • Some affiliate marketing programs have it in their program policy that you need to own your own blog in order to work with them.
  • Premium ad networks only work with self hosted blogs.

DO NOT limit your money making potential by opting for a free, non-self hosted blog.

Go for a self hosted blog so you can make money a variety of ways such as sponsorships, affiliate marketing, ads, digital sales through your own shop and more. We’ll cover this all on day five.

Of course, you also don’t want to go for any hosting company and blogging platform.

You want the one that is the industry standard, you can grow with and I personally use and recommend!


SIGNING UP FOR HOSTING

Now that we got through all the technical stuff to give you a better understanding about why a self hosted blog is necessary to make money, let’s get you signed up and your blog running!

THE HOSTING COMPANY I’VE USED SINCE 2009

fromlusttilldawn hosting bluehost

This is going to make me sound ancient, but I’ve been using Bluehost since 2009 and it’s where my travel and lifestyle blog was hosted on until October 2020; that’s 11 years!

October 2020 Update for Full Transparency:
As a blog specialist, it was finally time to try a new hosting company so I can give more well-rounded advice.

I started using Siteground back in July 2020 for this blog you’re on now and recently switched my travel blog over it too so I wasn’t paying for two hosting companies at the same time.

BLUEHOST VS SITEGROUND

Between the two hosting companies, I’d still recommend Bluehost to new bloggers.

I may be biased because I used them for so many years, but…
Besides the fact that Bluehost is the main hosting company that WordPress suggests using on their home page, Bluehost’s cheapest introductory rate ($3.95/month) is almost half the price of Siteground’s cheapest rate ($6.99/month).

After your cheap introductory pricing with Bluehost is over in 1-3 years (depending on how long you sign up for), the price goes up to the normal rate. At this point, you can do what I did and switch to Siteground to get their introductory rate.

Bloggers switch hosting companies all the time to save money. It was SO easy to move my blog because of Siteground’s migration plugin. Yes, I’ll have a blog post showing you how easy it is to go from Bluehost to Siteground when you get to that point.

If you don’t care about budgeting, then I would also recommend Siteground. It comes with a great optimizing plugin that I love (although you can download a free one if you have a Bluehost).

All things considered, I built my blogging business and got to where I am with Bluehost. Thus, this course is going to continue on as it always has with my recommendation for Bluehost.

But still, I had to add this whole section on Bluehost vs. Siteground so I could be fully transparent with you on why I was recommending a hosting company I’m no longer with! Ok now back to our regularly scheduled program…

BENEFITS OF BLUEHOST

I recommend Bluehost to start your blog out with because:

  • They have great customer service.
    • One time I called at an odd hour, and this guy physically went to another floor to find someone so he could pass the phone off to him and help me out. We had a nice conversation as he made his way through the building—lol. This was just one of my many great customer service experiences with them.
  • It’s easy to use.
    • You can literally create a WordPress blog in MINUTES. There is a one-click WordPress installation process. I show you the exact steps below.
  • Bluehost is quite affordable.
    • Plans start at $3.95 a month. This low monthly price is only available a promotional price through my link! Make sure to follow the steps below so you don’t pay extra for things you don’t need.
  • WordPress, the industry standard blogging platform, through Bluehost is FREE. We’ll learn about WordPress in a bit; stay tuned!
    • If you sign up for WordPress without Bluehost, WordPress starts at about $8.25 a month.
  • Bluehost is the main hosting company that WordPress suggests using on their home page.
    • This means that WordPress and Bluehost work seamlessly together and have lots of options for add-ons and customization.
  • It’s risk-free to try.
    • If you decide that blogging isn’t for you within a certain number of days, Bluehost will give you your money back within 30 days without questions asked.
  • Your WordPress blog will be self-hosted on Bluehost, which means your blog will look professional and you can monetize it!
  • You’ll get a free e-mail like [email protected] Other companies charge $5/month or $60/a year for.

As you can see, there are lots of reasons why I’ve enjoyed Bluehost for so many years!

Note: Their low promotion price is a special promotion offered only through my link. Make sure to sign up the right way (shared below) so you don’t sign up for extra things you don’t need.

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR SIGNING AND SETTING UP YOUR BLOG THE RIGHT WAY

You’ve learned so much; it’s now time for action! Here are step-by-step instructions for signing up for the same hosting company I use the right way.

1. Click on this link to get my special promotional price.

2. Click ‘Get Started’.

3. Select the ‘Basic’ plan.

As a new blogger, you do not need more than the basic plan; mainly because you don’t need unlimited domains, parked domains and subdomains.

As for domain privacy and spam, we have that covered with the domain name you bought yesterday and a free plugin that we’re going to install.

For these reasons, go for the basic plan as a new blogger.

4. Type in the domain name you bought yesterday the money saving way.

If you didn’t get a domain name yet, you can always click “I’ll create my domain later”.

But when you do, make sure to save money in the long-run by NOT opting for Bluehost’s free domain name offer and buying it where I recommend.

5. Fill out account information.

After you fill out your personal information, uncheck all the package extras. You don’t need them.


I don’t recommend this but if you can’t pay $142.20, you can lower it to 12 months making it only $71.40 (at the $5.95/12 months price). But when you renew, it’ll go back up to the normal $7.99/month.

As a serious blogger, you will be running your business for more than a year or two, which is why I say go for 36 months to save money as long as possible.

Keep in mind, there is a 30-day money back guarantee!


6. SET UP YOUR ACCOUNT and wordpress blog.

WordPress is the blogging platform that you’ll be creating your house with. Consider it the tools to build your house.

It is the industry standard for creating blogs and is great because it has so many options for customization, has high-security standards, supports multimedia and can grow with you!

Now that you have a Bluehost account, its website will guide you on how to finish up setting up your account and create a WordPress blog with these easy steps.

Create a password for your Bluehost account.

Login to your Bluehost account with your domain name and password.

It will guide you through this.

  • Add the name of your site. (i.e. Sarah Chetrit)
  • Add your site’s tagline (i.e. Content creator helping others blog); You can update this later in Settings so just put whatever!
  • Click the button for Do you want a blog?

Answer this however you’d like!

Pick any theme that is free because we are going to pick a theme that you actually want tomorrow!

Once you get to this screen (below), don’t click on “View My Site”. We have one more thing to do in order for that link to work!

Normally if you bought a domain name through Bluehost, you could click “Login to WordPress” and access your WordPress dashboard aka where you will be building your blog and posting blog posts from.

But since we got a domain name that’ll save you money in the long run, we have to do one more thing! See the next section.


CONNECTING YOUR NAMECHEAP DOMAIN NAME TO BLUEHOST

Since you bought your domain name at NameCheap to save money, we now need to create a connection between NameCheap, where your domain name is, and Bluehost, where your hosted blog is.

1. Sign into your NameCheap account.

 © NameCheap

2. Select Domain List from the left sidebar and click the Manage button next to your domain in the list. Then find the Nameservers section and select Custom DNS from the drop-down menu.

 © NameCheap

3. After that, enter Bluehost’s nameservers one by one in each line:

  • ns1.bluehost.com
  • ns2.bluehost.com

4. When the nameservers are entered, press the green checkmark to save changes.

Now go to www.yourblogname.com/wp-admin and login with your username and password that you setup via Bluehost.

You should be able to login right away, but sometimes, it takes about 24-48 hours for your domain name to properly connect to Bluehost.


CONGRATULATIONS! YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG IS NOW fully set up!


NEXT STEP

I am so proud of you for finishing the second day of the challenge!

Now you can:

If you have any questions, feel free to ask anything in our Facebook group!


#letsbamm


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