How to Start a Blog

turntable_georgeWhat an interesting hobby this has become. I started this “just typing some shit into the computer” hobby almost two years ago, and it has totally shaken things up in the Mustache household (which is only even called the Mustache household because of this blog). I’ve had the privilege of meeting many new people, surfing on quite a few couches, and eating several free lunches provided by generous visiting readers. Several trips (including Hawaii and an upcoming one to Ecuador) are a direct result of this gig, with more sure to come. On top of that, there has been challenge, learning, and nowadays even some significant earning. So, although I was reluctant to add this new thing to an already-busy life back in 2011, now I’m glad I did (and most of the credit for that goes to the lovely Mrs. MM for forcing me to do it).

Many people email me these days asking for advice on starting their own blogs. Since I’ve only ever started one, I can’t claim to be an expert on the topic. But given the number of requests, I figured it might at least be helpful to share what we have learned over this time, in case it helps the other people on the fence get going more quickly.

Why would you even want to start a blog?

In my opinion, the only reason you should do this is because you enjoy writing and learning. Maybe you discovered an aptitude for busting out some fine phrases in high school English class, but then got shunted into a career path that leaves those skills neglected. Maybe you would like to learn more about computer, web and internet technology, and prefer to learn by doing. In general, if you really notice differences in writing style, and passionately enjoy some of them while actively hating others, you might be a writer yourself. But blogging isn’t reserved for people with some magic bit of proven talent. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. It just matters that you enjoy it.

What are the benefits of having your own blog?

The neat thing about these things is that if you’re lucky, they force you to write. Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book, but you find the idea daunting. 200 pages or more of carefully-edited and researched stuff.. who has time to make something like that? So you never get started.

This is where a blog comes in handy. You can write a 500-word diddy, or a 1500′er like most of the ones you see here, or any other quantity. You still wrote something, which means you have greased your mind and wiggling fingers for more writing in the future. It all adds up, and you get some practice and refine your ideas, and at some point you might have everything you need for a book, without even realizing it while you wrote posts.

But it’s not just for aspiring authors. A blog is also just a place to tell the world how you think, or connect with other people, or record your progress on something that is important to you. It can serve as a place to be publicly accountable. Or maybe just to post funny stories about your cats or your kids. And its purpose can change at any time.

There is also a strong business case behind learning blog skills and technical skills in general. This is a real and growing industry, with jobs and real money flowing about for organized people. For example, the job title ‘WordPress Developer’ didn’t even exist when I was a software engineer, and now it is a field were a software person can earn a six digit salary or start her own similarly lucrative business, and get a job entirely by demonstrating things they have developed – no degree required. ‘Blog Advertising Consultant’ is another that came out of nowhere, and of course there is the King of self-made internet entrepreneurs, Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income.

But I’m not a programmer. Aren’t these things difficult to set up?

Not really. The simplest way to create a blog is to simply visit blogger.com or wordpress.com and sign up for a free account. Following the prompts and poking around will have you writing your first post within five minutes, and it might be all you ever need to do. Although it’s a good way to start, that is not the subject of this post, since I’m going to cover how to start a larger-scale, self-hosted blog instead.

Why would I want to have my own hosting?

If you are starting a blog for just friends and family, you wouldn’t. Those wordpress.com and blogger.com accounts keep millions of people happy. But if you’re planning a blog that might become a business, and have things like advertising, affiliate links, or high traffic, you’re better off going for a blog that you really own, because it allows you to control many more aspects. With your own hosting, you get much better visitor statistics via Google Analytics (which works well with blogger.com but not wordpress.com), the ability to control your look and feel with more plugins and customizations, plus the ability to run your own advertising (which is not allowed on wordpress.com and blogger – in fact, they reserve the right to run their own ads on your site to pay for the free account).

Plus, your web hosting account can serve as your personal online headquarters, since you generally get unlimited storage space and fast transfer speeds even with starter accounts. Store your backup files there, create additional websites for your family, share those 8GB video files with your friends in other countries via HTTP or FTP, and much more. Mrs. MM and I have had dedicated web hosting accounts for 10 years or more for all of the reasons above, long before blogging was invented.

So how do I do it?

The following guide was written with enormous help from Mrs. Money Mustache, so all thanks go to her:

Part 1 – Think up a Domain Name and Get Yourself a Hosting Service

Perhaps you’ve already got the perfect domain name. If not, let me offer you some advice. Don’t name your site something like mydebtfreerevelation.com or billyissavingforretirement.com. Make it something catchy, like the catchyfisherman.com or thoughtful/artsy, like texanmuse.com. (I just made those up, if you can believe it, and they’re still available until some lucky reader claims ‘em :-))

I’ve grown pretty content with Bluehost hosting. People keep telling me, “Man, you can’t run a site as big as Mr. Money Mustache with shared hosting! My site is 10 times smaller and I upgraded long ago!”. But after upgrading to their “Pro” service and running some speed tests, I find that we still have capacity to spare, even with over 1.5 million pageviews per month, and often more than 200 simultaneous readers clicking away. Although a costlier hosting plan may still be in the cards after additional growth, I’m amazed at how much output we’re getting right now. The biggest benefits, however, are just in the ease-of-use of using a bigger provider like this:

  • domain registration and hosting are all done in one step
  • wordpress blog installation can be added with the click of a mouse
  • automatic backups save you from accidentally erasing your own site, as I did a couple months ago
  • forums (like our own Money Mustache Forum) are easy to install
  • FTP and email accounts and all sorts of other stuff come for free as well

So anyway, if you decide to follow the same path, here’s how you’d sign up with bluehost:

Step 1: Go to Bluehost.com (affiliate link) and it will take you to this page:

bluehost-home-page

The cost varies, but right now it looks like it’s $6.99 per month – still amazing to me since I remember paying much more for 100 megabytes of storage (about 20 modern digital pictures).  Click Get Started Now.

Step 2: If you want to register your newly-invented domain name, enter it on the left.  If you already have one registered elsewhere, enter it on the right.  Since you can register a free domain name with every new account, it might be worth locking in one either way, depending on your needs.  Click Next.

bluehost-signup

Step 3: Oh look at that… CatchyFisherman.com is available.  Lucky me!

bluehost-signup-congrats

Here’s where they tell you about your Free primary domain registration.  Enter your account information and then choose your package details.  It looks like they’re trying to sell me a bunch of extra stuff.  The only thing we chose was the Domain Whois Privacy for an extra $10 per year (this prevents your real name and mailing address from being publicly associated with your domain name).

bluehost-package-info

The drop down will show you the current account plan options.  We picked the 12 month price, currently 7.99 per month, when first starting MMM.  No need for a pro package just yet — you can upgrade your site at any time once the traffic is a flowin’. I found basic hosting was good up to at least 10,000 pageviews/day.

Step 4: I’m assuming that once you fill out the page in step 3 and click Next that you will get some kind of login information for your Control Panel (‘cpanel’).

You now have a domain name and a hosting service.  Congratulations!

Part 2 – Create your WordPress Blog in 4 Steps using Bluehost

Step 1 – Go to bluehost.com and click Login in the top right corner. This will take you to something called your cpanel.  Under the “Website Builders” category, choose WordPress.

iheartwordpress

Step 2 – Now you should be in the Mojo Marketplace. Click the Start button for a brand new install.

bluehost-mojo
Step 3a – You will need to choose a location for your install — this will probably be the root of your new URL, so you would leave this unchanged. In my case, I’m installing a new blog under www.mrsmoneymustache.com/catchyfisherman. Click “Check Domain”.

bluehost-mrsmm-catchyfisherman

Step 3b – For the last step, check “Show Advanced Options” and see what’s there. You can change this information if you like. Leave the “automatically create a database” box checked. Check the terms and conditions box and click “Install Now”.

bluehost-almost-done

Step 4 – Bluehost will automatically install the whole WordPress system. In the meantime, you can click “No thanks” to their attempt at selling you a theme.  Once this is complete, you will receive an e-mail from Mojo Marketplace letting you know that your new WordPress install is complete. You will also find the information to login to your new site in this e-mail.

bluehost-progress

Your wordpress blog is up and running already!  You’ll now see the site in the “My Installs” section. Check it out by going to the URL (in my case: www.mrsmoneymustache.com/catchyfisherman) or login to the admin section of your site by clicking the green “Admin Login” button.

bluehost-my-installs

That will take you here to login. You are logging into the backend of your wordpress site (more on this under Part 3 below):

catchy-fisheman-login

Note the URL to this login page. For me, the URL is: http://www.mrsmoneymustache.com/catchyfisherman/wp-login.php.

Here’s the Mrs. MM Catchy Fisherman blog after the initial Install.  You can customize the look in the WordPress admin panel.

bluehost-new-blog

As you can see, using Bluehost makes a WordPress Install quick and easy.  You can set up numerous sites this way on the same host by using the same 4 steps above.

Part 3 – A few customizations within WordPress

Now you have a site and you can start typing and publishing right away, but you may want to do a few things within WordPress first.  I’m far from a WordPress expert, so if any of you recommend any other setup steps, please let us know.

Step 1 – Login to the wordpress admin section of your blog by entering the username and password you were given.

catchy-fisheman-login

Step 2 – You will arrive at your WordPress Dashboard.  This is the “back end” of your blog.  This is where you go to do almost everything, including adding posts, changing the look and feel, adding plugins, etc.

For added security, the first thing you’ll want to do is change your login by removing the Admin username (unless you already did this during the install, like I did above):

  • Choose Users -> Add New
  • Invent a memorable new username and password for yourself
  • Choose “Administrator” in the drop-down box at the bottom labeled “role”
  • You should now have two Admin level users.
  • Logout as “admin” and log in using your new username.
  • Then, delete the old Admin account. Now you should only have one admin profile.

Step 3 – you may have noticed that your dashboard gave you a notice to sign up for a WordPress.com account. This is an account with the actual WordPress company, which is different from the accounts just created here on your own server.

You do want this, because it is required to enable an essential plugin called ‘Jetpack’ (which is valuable for site statistics as well as other plugins). So click “Connect to WordPress.com” and then register for an account there (I have no idea why you need to sign up for a separate account for this, but hey, whatever). Save the login information religiously.

Once you have an account, you can authorize Jetpack and you will see a new option under the left hand menu for “Site Stats”. Your site stats will start to display in a little while, although at first you will get a “Take ‘er easy, dude.” message.

You may have also noticed that there are some updates to install. Like most pieces of software, WordPress is under constant development (and it’s amazing that it is free to use!). Under ‘dashboard’, choose ‘updates’ and let WordPress do its thing.

Step 4 – Finally, you can now check all your settings and learn about them. Go to ‘Settings’ and poke through each menu item. Under ‘General’, you can type in your site name and tagline (i.e. early retirement through badassity), your e-mail address, as well as your time zone. Be sure to click the ‘save changes’ button for every page.

Advanced option: check out the ‘Permalink Settings’ to ensure the links to your articles URLs show up the way you’d like them to.  This will be handy when your catchiest articles later go viral on the Internet, as well as increasing the number of visitors you will get from search engines. The default of using Post Name seems pretty good, especially since an MMM reader friend of mine who is a Search Engine Optimization expert recommends leaving the date out of the permalink.

At this point, your site probably looks blank but enticing and ready to go. If you added a site name and tagline, you’ll see that. Since we deleted the Admin account, your hello world post is probably gone. Note that you are currently set up using the default theme (a theme is what dictates the look and feel of your site). The default theme is called “Twenty Fourteen” in this case, and mrmoneymustache.com is running one called “skeptical” at the time of writing.

bluehost-new-blog

Part 4 – Updating your blog’s look and feel

Step 1 – when you choose Appearance – Themes, you’ll see the theme that is currently installed on your site at the top left. The range of available themes is almost endless and people are making hundreds more even as you read. I also see that the Mojo Marketplace has been added as a convenient quicklink, which is a clever way to get you to buy one of their themes. I’m sure their themes are great, but start with something free and get to know your site before buying a theme.

wordpress-themes

After initial install, you have the option to choose another theme (in my case Twenty Thirteen or Twenty Twelve) from the Themes tab, or search for free themes using a keyword under the WordPress.org Themes tab at the top of the page.  You can search by keyword or by filter (as I’ve done in the image in Step 2).

The Add New link at the top of the page also allows you to upload your own theme. It’s a flexible option, but be careful only to use themes from a trusted source lest you end up installing malicious code.  A few reliable sources we’ve used are the Free WordPress Themes (which are built into the search), WooThemes, and Elegant Themes.

WooThemes has some free themes that you can use and Elegant Themes allows you to have access to ALL their themes for $39. I have purchased themes from both places and have never had any issues. I’ve also heard that ThemeForest is a good place to purchase themes, although I haven’t done so myself. I’m assuming that the Mojo Marketplace is also a reputable place to purchase themes.

Note that it is often difficult to change the basic look and feel of a theme, so make sure you start out one with basic positioning that meets your needs. If you have experience with CSS and PHP, you can dig in and change almost anything, but without that knowledge you may be stuck with a theme’s default options.

Note the “Live Preview” link under each available theme. This allows you to see what your site will look like using the new theme. If you save and activate, then the new theme will be used and your previous theme settings will likely be erased… so be careful!

Step 2 – If you decide to use one of the free WordPress themes, just use the built-in search box. For example, suppose you want one using the color orange, with two text columns and a right side bar. I’d also like to be able to upload my own logo so I choose Custom Header. Check the appropriate boxes and click ‘Find Themes’.

wordpress-theme-search
My search results look like this:

wordpress-theme-search-results
From here you can preview themes and choose one to install. Note that the themes won’t look the same on your site as they do in the thumbnail, as your site currently has nothing on it (you’ll notice this as soon as you click the “Preview” link). It can look the way they show in the thumbnail with some work.

Step 3 – You could spend all day or all month looking for just the right theme. This is one of Mrs. MM’s weaknesses. For this example, we will stick with the default theme. After updating a few options under Appearance – Theme Options, we end up with a web site that looks like this.

wordpress-final-site

Note: this screenshot is from the original article (although updated with the new theme), so it is for mrmoneymustache.com/mrsmm instead of mrsmoneymustache.com/catchyfisherman.

Another Note: I uploaded some sample data from a theme at Elegant Themes (which I’m a member of). This is a great option within Elegant Themes to get your theme to look just like their demo. Here’s a video that explains how to do it, if you have purchased an Elegant Theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXSOEkR5xFY.

Part 5 – Start Blogging!

Once you have the theme you want, you can start creating blog posts (under Posts) and pages (under Pages). You’ll probably want to link to your social media accounts and start letting people know about your blog once you have some good content.

Under Settings -> Privacy, you can choose to make your blog visible to search engines or not.

Under Appearance -> Menus, you can create a menu which helps users navigate to key pages in your site.

Under Plugins, you can add any of the thousands of plugins developed by other people. These are like phone apps for your blog, and many are quite powerful. But again, be careful since some may have bugs or security holes.

The MMM site contains the following plugins that might be useful: Ajax Edit Comments, Akismet, BackupBuddy, BNS SMF Feeds (for the forum feed), Jetpack, LinkWithin, Random Redirect, RSS to Email, Subscribe Sidebar, WP-Optimize, WP-Table Reloaded, WP Security Scan, and WP Super Cache.

You can see the new example blog we just created here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/mrsmm/
or
http://www.mrsmoneymustache.com/catchyfisherman/

If you do create a blog as a result of reading this article, and you feel it might be useful to other Mustachians, feel free to share it in the comments. It is normally considered bad form to blatantly plug your own blog in somebody else’s comment section, but in this case, we’re here to support each other in the wonderful world of self-publishing. Happy Blogging!

Here’s that Bluehost link, in case you choose to support this blog while creating your own.
(It doesn’t affect price to you, and many thanks if you do!):


Bluehost.com $6.95 Hosting

Welcome New Readers! Take a look around. Feeling Hardcore? Start at the first article and read your way through using the links at the bottom of each article. Casual Sampler? Browse the complete list of all posts since the beginning of time. Hope to see you around here more often. ~ Love, Mr. Money Mustache

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191 Responses to “How to Start a Blog”

  1. Marko Saric January 17, 2013 at 6:09 am #

    That’s a very extensive start-guide MMM! More than enough info for anyone who wants to try out this blogging thingy. Thanks for inspiring people to pick it up, we need more bloggers :)

    • Nurse Frugal January 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      I’m so glad you published this article! I’ve been thinking of switching over to self-hosting but it seems like such a huge, daunting task! I never even realized that word-press have publish their own advertisements on my free blog that I can’t even see! Thanks so much for the awesome guide ;) I think the hardest thing for me is finding time to blog regularly. The rad thing about your blog is that you post anywhere from 1-3 times a week and it’s a perfect amount.

    • Steve October 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

      Just wanted to hop on here among other MMM followers and say how useful this info was. I used it to create a site about a month ago. I’d like to share that site with you all today

      http://www.theunchainedthinker.com

  2. Daz January 17, 2013 at 6:13 am #

    Hi MMM!

    In a bizarre twist of fate (for me), I started my own blog last week (www.mrmoneymotivator.com), inspired by yours! I used GoDaddy, but apart from that did exactly what you have just described :)

    I am writing from a UK perspective, or at least an English perspective (Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and the random islands, do things in all sorts of different ways).

    Thank you for inspiring me to start writing about things that I only used to talk about to my friends!

    I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your TLA ;)

    • Kilroy January 21, 2013 at 8:41 am #

      Haha! I also started a wordpress-hosted blog (http://pathofthegreenpilgrim.wordpress.com/) two weeks ago to chronicle my path to financial independence. I owe 90% of my inspiration to Mr. Money Mustache. And I bet we’re not the only copycats. I’m looking forward to keeping up with all of you!

  3. Nate January 17, 2013 at 6:14 am #

    where was this article two weeks ago! thanks for posting this anyway. I had my trials and tribulations setting up my site and I wouldn’t want anyone yo have to deal with all of the headache without a nice guide like this. thanks MMM.

    • Johnny Moneyseed January 18, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      Whatever you do, DO NOT USE GODADDY for web hosting! WordPress is amazing, but the integration on GoDaddy is so slow, it’s unbearable. I suffer through 15-20 load times on my pages. Many times they just error out (500 error). I’ve called tech support and they say “everything looks good on our end”. Ya right. I’d be interested in knowing the easiest solution to move my domain somewhere else.

      I think my site it pretty sweet too. It looks good. The content is coming along. But how am I supposed to attract viewers if they have to deal with long load-times?

      • Johnny Moneyseed January 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

        I take back my previous criticism. WordPress runs great on GoDaddy when they install in on a Linux-based server. Would have been nice if they could have done that the first time. Now my site is loading like a dream. Maybe I will actually get some traffic now! Thanks MMM!

        • Nicole June 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

          Glad I read the comments! Planning to start my own blog, and locked in to GoDaddy for a number of years… you’ve just solved my headache before I even knew it was there, Johnny. Much appreciated. :)

  4. Bryallen @ The Frugal Graduate January 17, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    Thanks for the info, MMM! At what point would you consider upgrading to self-hosting? I currently get around 15,000 views a month, still using a free Blogger template, and am considering the upgrade, but I am not sure it would be worth it for a small blog like mine!

    • Breanne January 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      Moving from Blogger to WP is a royal pain in the ass (seriously. painful. like, manual copy-paste if you want to move all your images and stuff. They don’t make it easy).

      From that perspective, if you’re going to move “eventually”, you’d probably want to move sooner rather than later – the longer you wait, the more work you’ll have to do.

      Some people are fine staying on Blogger “forever”, though I think there’s good reasons in the post to move away. Another reason that a lot of people prefer self-hosted is that a lot of freebie services like Blogger actually give Google and all of their partners a license to use your stuff in their promotional materials — so folks don’t like the idea that Google can make money off them, and that they get no control over how Google uses their stuff. If that’s a concern for you, moving is definitely something to do before you keep posting more and more that they can use.

      It is a pain to move from Blogger, but do-able. Google around for the steps and you’ll find a bunch of guides that help. There are also services that will do it for you (disclaimer: this is a service that I offer), so it depends on your level of tech comfort.

      • Quadomated January 17, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

        I agree that migrating aside over from Blogger to WordPress is a pain, but I found moving my site over was at least livable with the “Blogger Importer” plug-in and the many online guides showing how to do so without losing page ranks/subscribers. When I migrated http://www.Quadomated.com and its 100+ posts the only thing that was a real challenge was re-uploading all my photos so that they would be stored on my self-hosted WordPress site instead of being directed to an online Picasa web album that could someday change URLs/disappear.

        • Rob aka Captain and Mrs Slow January 18, 2013 at 8:14 am #

          I consider my self to be reasonable techy but I found WordPress is a huge pain in the ass to work with, you spend way way more time reading tutorials than you will ever writing. I went with blogger instead, super easy to use.

          I also blog for fun not to try and get a huge readership.

          For those interested a few sites I found when I was trying to monetize my site.

          http://howimakemoneyblogging.com/

          and

          for blogger

          http://www.abloggersbooks.com/

          And for those whose feed back regularly includes comments like, good but a lot of typos and spelling mistakes. Fivver and Gigabucks. Hire a professional who will edit your work for $5. I also was able to hire an Indian to remove blogspot from my blog. It was money well spend as I wasn’t willing to spend the hours/days needed to read all the necessary tutorials.

          Trust me I had no idea I could make so many mistakes in 500 words.

  5. MoreKnown January 17, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    MMM, this is exactly the process I followed when I set up my site (just click my username and it’ll send you there).

    I was wondering about the plugins you use, especially for the “similar articles” and was excited to see everything listed here. Thank you!

  6. Ross January 17, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    MMM, I was also inspired to start my own blog after you published that post about my net worth change due to reading MMM. Anyway, at that time I just signed up with wordpress. At what level of readership would you deem it prudent to get separate hosting?

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 17, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      Hey Ross, glad to hear it!

      Using wordpress hosting could probably keep working to a pretty high level of traffic (100k+ pageviews/month, or maybe even much more?).

      If you plan to earn money with your blog, especially through Google Adsense or affiliate programs, the separate hosting becomes handy at whatever level you consider the income to be worthwhile.

      For every thousand page views, you might earn a dollar or two through small amounts of advertising (blogs earn much less than old-fashioned things like magazines and newspapers, even though we all know they are much cooler in reality).

      • Ross January 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

        Ok, thanks for the tip.
        So it sounds like I should consider monetizing if I get upwards of 6000 page views/month (So ads would pay for the subscription fee). I know you’ve mentioned it in previous blog posts, but this whole exponential growth in readership thing just gives me the willies! It’s exciting!
        Have an exceptional day!

        • MoreKnown January 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

          Absolutely consider it. Once you have some basic traffic (and a fair amount of content), Adwords is a great way to go.

          • Ross January 25, 2013 at 10:40 am #

            Alright, Since my traffic just increased quite a bit, I decided to pull the trigger and get my own domain. The process was a little challenging moving my blog from WordPress.com to Bluehost, but definitely doable. It certainly taught me a lot about how it all works! Thanks for showing me how to do it MMM!

            • Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle February 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

              I got through the registration but I am hung up waiting for someone from live chat to tell me what the he## a port is.

              I should know better to attempt giant changes on a Sunday night when half of their crew probably has the night booked off to watch the Superbowl.

              I will try again tomorrow.

              Port 21?

              • Johnny Moneyseed February 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

                Port 21 means FTP.

              • Bakari February 3, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

                a port is a virtual opening on your computer to access the interwebs. Your router and/or software firewall keeps them all closed by default for security, so if you want something external to be able to reach your computer, you have to tell the router/firewall to open that port.

                If you can’t get tech support, Google should do almost as good a job…

  7. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies January 17, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    Starting a blog together has been tons of fun for Mr. PoP and I. And the way our roles have shaken out in it, it’s been a great reprieve from our day jobs. I code at work, so do most of the writing. Mr. PoP has a lot of face time with clients for his job, so enjoys messing around with wordpress on the blog. Win, win.

    • Holly@ClubThrifty January 18, 2013 at 11:04 am #

      It has been fun for us to have a couple blog too. We split all of the duties up and each do about 50% of the work. I don’t see how single bloggers do it!

  8. jlcollinsnh January 17, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    Perfect timing on this post, Mr.MM!

    My blog is on WordPress and more and more folks have been encouraging me to migrate it. A very intimidating process for a non-tech guy like me.

    If I move it to Bluehost, will the content and theme of my existing blog transfer over? That’s what I’d like, along with some additional functionality.

    Thanks. You deserve a trip to Ecuador or something…..

    • Daz January 17, 2013 at 7:37 am #

      Moving a WordPress hosted blog to Bluehost will be extremely easy as they offer a quick start setup for WordPress.

      Nice easy instructions here :)

      http://en.support.wordpress.com/moving-a-blog/

      More detailed instructions for your info:

      http://codex.wordpress.org/Installing_WordPress

    • Mrs. Money Mustache January 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

      We’ve used backup buddy to transfer sites really easily. E-mail MMM for more details. :)

    • ael January 17, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

      First, great and useful article on setting up a blog. Second, I was sure from the moment I saw MMM’s mention of Ecuador that a certain jlcollings would resond. I second the idea of visiting and experiencing this country of friendly folks and fantastic physical environment (and culture). Our consuegros (parents of son- or daughter-in-law) live there.

  9. Laura January 17, 2013 at 7:23 am #

    Great post. I will be starting my new blog this week. Thanks for the guide and the inspiration!

  10. Kevin H January 17, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    I started a blog a few months ago, and this post would have been very helpful! I’m a pathologist, and these days see the results of so many preventable diseases in my daily routine. Even more disheartening, a lot of these diseases afflict people what I think should be the happiest time of their life…right at the beginning of their retirement (or even before!) I just wanted to write about ways to help people realize that these things don’t have to happen.

    There’s still a bunch of info in this post that I need to act on, specifically the plug-ins to WordPress. Also, I chose the boring name route, haha. We will see how that goes. Anyway, thanks MMM!

    My site: http://www.healthyretiree.com

    • Pollyanna January 17, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

      Kevin H – I think your domain name is straightforward and therefore, catchy – sounds like one I should watch, thanks!

    • Rob aka Captain and Mrs Slow January 18, 2013 at 8:37 am #

      cool site as I am now a few shorts years away from retirement (53) outside of money this is my main concern.

      Edit: I went to your site and wanted to comment make a comment and it forced me to log into word press. I don’t have a wordpress account ( or I do but have no idea what the password is)

      To me this is the number 1 rookie mistake a blogger makes, making you jump through hops to read your blog. I went so far as to allow anonymous commenting on my blogger blog

  11. Michael James January 17, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    Great post to help out beginner bloggers. One quibble: “plus the ability to run your own advertising (which is not allowed on wordpress.com and blooger – in fact, they reserve the right to run their own ads on your site to pay for the free account).” I’ve been running a blog on blogger for over 5 years now. I control my own advertising. I’ve never seen ads on my blog other than the ones I put there.

    • MoreKnown January 18, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

      He might mean that bar at the top of your blog (the Blogger bar?) and the “Powered by Blogger” at the bottom. You’re right though, it should be easy to set up your own ads without much issue on any standard blogging platform.

  12. Joe @ Retire By 40 January 17, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    You have a knack for writing. People love your style and messages. I started my blog 2 years ago and I’m nowhere near 1.5 million pageviews/month. :)
    Blogging is a great outlet and it changed my life. I learned so much from the communities and I’m really grateful for that.
    Great post for beginners. I would just go with the default theme and start writing. The longer you keep fiddling with stuff, the more chances for you to not write.

  13. Donovan January 17, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Great info. I would love to see something similar about starting up a small business. I’ve been kicking around the idea of turning either my music or jewelry making into a paying side gig (at the moment they only benefit my fiance), but some of the literature I’ve seen on it is daunting because it covers such a large array of business types.

    • Breanne January 17, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      For the jewelry, try looking at tactics and sites that talk especially about using Etsy – that will help you narrow down the advice to stuff that would apply directly to that stuff.

      For music, I’ve heard of some people having good results using HostBaby (it’s affiliated with CD Baby), but I haven’t used them personally. Again, though, searching for marketing tips related to HostBaby, and that might get you through the more generic stuff.

      And for marketing a really small business, IttyBiz is awesome. Vulgar at times, but awesome (then again, you’re on MMM. I’m guessing vulgar language isn’t a problem!)

    • Catherine January 19, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      For jewelry, even just cruising around Etsy might give you some good ideas about how much product you might need to open a viable storefront, how many sales you might reasonably expect to get, etc. I actually do run a small business that is an offshoot of one of my hobbies, and I sold through Etsy for a while (I have since stopped because there were other platforms that worked better with my particular product–knitting patterns).

      Be warned that starting a craft-based side business is not (typically) a good path for getting rich quick. If you are good at what you do, it can be a GREAT way to make your hobby cost-neutral, and yes, maybe even a great way to make some extra cash on top of that. But, you are also on some level in “competition” with mass-produced goods, so be prepared for the possibility that many people will not want to pay prices that reflect the time involved in making your things. There is a lot of supply relative to demand, in many cases. It is annoying, but that’s the free economy for you :) Definitely don’t go into it if you don’t also happen to enjoy making your products for their own sake.

      Most of the people I know who are running successful crafty businesses have had to put a lot of time into building a community of fans, reaching out to people through twitter, facebook, etc., and getting people somewhat invested in them personally, not just in the products they are selling. AND they put out new product regularly. It’s work! You might want to check out the book Market Yourself by Tara Swiger for some ideas on attracting customers and building a fan base (or just check out her website, there is some good free info there to get started with).

      All that said, if you can make a successful go of it, it is pretty awesome to be building something on scratch by yourself. I still enjoy running my business, even though it brings in less than 1/10th of the income that my day job does. Also, it’s nice to daydream about all the cool things you will be able to do with your crafting once you are FI and not having to work your day job anymore!

  14. Grayson @ Debt Roundup January 17, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Great writeup. I would recommend that if people take time to setup a self-hosted wordpress blog that they understand the security risks of using the username of “admin”. Hackers know the login url for all wordpress blogs unless you change it, and the default username is admin. The only thing they don’t know is your password. I would recommend changing the username when you are installing it. It is just a simple security measure that can help out in the future.

    • Christine January 17, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      Hmmm. What if my site is 2 years old (so not new) and I never set up an another user beyond admin? If I create another user and delete the admin, will I lose all my posts?? Thanks!

      • Mrs. Money Mustache January 17, 2013 at 9:24 am #

        Hi Christine,

        You can still add a new admin user under a different name and then keep your admin account so that your posts don’t get deleted. You would just change the access level of your admin account so it is no longer “admin”.

        Hope that makes sense… I almost confused myself!

        Step 1: add a new admin user with a different login name (you’ll now have 2 admin accounts)

        Step 2: change the old admin account to a Subscriber role.

        This is what we did on the MMM site.

        • Christine January 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

          That totally makes sense. Except…I did exactly that (steps 1 and 2), and after step 2 I got the message: “The current user’s role must have user editing capabilities.” I’m off to investigate, but I thought maybe you would have another tip? :)

        • Fastbodyblast January 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

          Make sure you are logged into the new administrator account. When you delete the “admin” account, you are given the option to assign the posts to another user before the full deletion occurs.

          • Christine January 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

            That did it! Thanks so much. I thank you, my old admin logon thanks you, and the security of my blog in general thanks you!

    • Mrs. Money Mustache January 17, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      Yes, agreed. I mentioned that in Part 3, Step 2 in the article.

  15. Goldeneer January 17, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    I started Goldeneer blog over a year ago using WordPress and couldn’t be happier with this creative outlet. My writing is about early retirement (by 35) through frugality, real estate and sustainability. I love reading other PF blogs. Writing this blog has encouraged me to seek out new active blogs such as yours.

    My biggest hindrance was staying motivated to continue to post on a weekly basis. The trick that worked for me was joining the Yakezie Challenge in order to keep me motivated to post several times per week.

  16. Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget January 17, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Great info, MMM. My wife and I only started blogging a month or so ago, and we’re so glad we did. Now our free time (read: couch time in front of the TV) has clear purpose and objectives. We’re more accountable and flexing all sorts of different tech/writing/design muscles that we haven’t used in years.

    We’re also on BlueHost and I’ve had a mostly enjoyable experience with them. They’ve had some downtime of late, but otherwise, no real qualms.

  17. Ginger January 17, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    I don’t know why you would want to Mr. MM, but if you decide you want to visit Buffalo, NY (or more likely Niagara Falls) over the summer, you are welcome to come visit us. The baby’s new room (due this month) is set up with a blow up mattress for visitors already, lol, since she is sleeping in our room. My husband may steal your brain for ideas around the house though, fair warning. He has been impressed with your Hawaii story.

  18. Breanne January 17, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    I blog at MyNameIsBreanne, where my focus is on providing inspiration and practical tactics helping little businesses (bloggers, home-businesses, etc.) use the web effectively.

    A big thing for me is that I hate seeing technology get in peoples’ way… using the web doesn’t have to be hard, but the sheer amount of “do this!” “no, do that!” out there is ridiculous – and most of it doesn’t apply when it’s just you running things. So, I try to cut through the crap and tell you what you need to know, while mixing in just a little bit of rah-rah motivation, for those days when you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into.

    I look forward to checking out everyone’s blogs!

  19. mike crosby January 17, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Just last week I was inspired to learn how to code. I’ve been watching a bunch of youtube videos on HTML and I’m finding that I’m loving it.

    My blog is 3 years old and I’m writing less than before. I now only write once/month now if that.

    What I find interesting is Kindle Publishing. We now have within our power to write and publish our own book for the whole world to see for almost no cost.

    MMM could string some of his “best of” posts together and he’d have an excellent book available on Kindle.

    BTW, glad MMM is back. I was jonesing.

    • Breanne January 17, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      A buddy of mine (Adam J Nicolae – adamjnicolae.com) just self-published his second Kindle book; his first one hit the #1 spot on the best seller list in its genre, and he’s been able to go full-time writer as a result. It’s amazing to think of what the technology allows us to accomplish without needing to go through the traditional hoops and gatekeepers like agents and publishing houses!

  20. Lisa January 17, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    I always wondered how you start a blog. Think it would be fun to do especially if you love to write. Thanks for all the info!

  21. Aaron January 17, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Technical question here: I started a blog for my wife about a month ago on Host Gator and followed a very similar setup. One thing I’ve noticed though is that the address displayed in the address bar is not prepended with www. Even if you type it in with www, it gets removed. Looking at the steps you provided, in Part Two Step Three you state:
    “You will also choose the location for your install — this will probably be the root of your new URL, so you would leave this unchanged.”

    I did just go with the root, but wondered after seeing this behavior was this the “root” of my problem? Should it have gone into a www folder or something else instead. It’s not really a huge deal, as it will still resolve to the address. Just more of a little nitpick that has been bothering me.

    • Breanne January 17, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Nah, it’s not related to the “root” aspect.

      The behaviour you’re seeing is setting with how your domain is set-up (sorry, not sure where the setting is in HostGator, as I typically use Dreamhost)… but, what you’re seeing is actually a preferred behaviour.

      Your choices are:

      1) have www redirect to non-www (this is what you’re seeing)
      2) have non-www redirect to www (the opposite of what you’re seeing)
      3) have www and non-www both work without redirect (this is what you’re describing as desired)

      Here’s the thing, though. Some search engines actually penalize sites in the rankings when they use option #3, because they consider the www and non-www versions of the site to be duplicates of each other – and search engines HATE duplicate content.

      So, in this case, while it may seem annoying, HostGator is actually doing you a favor (in the long run).

      • Aaron January 17, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

        Thanks for the answer. Guess I won’t worry about it.

        The more you know.

  22. CC January 17, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Thank you for all of the information! I literally just started a blog a couple of weeks ago to chronicle my “buy nothing new” year (which was partly inspired by this blog, and partly inspired by my hippie dippie ideals.) I look forward to being able to use some of these tips!

    Since you said we could shamelessly plug our own blogs, I’ll go ahead and do that:

    ccwishon.blogspot.com

    I actually have linked to MMM as one of my favorite blogs to read :) Thanks for all the awesomeness and badassity!

  23. Pascal January 17, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    MMM or Mrs. MM, do you have any specific books/articles that you would recommend for more detailed information on how to get started with Affiliate Marketing?

    Cheers,
    A fellow Canadian Expat

    • Mrs. Money Mustache January 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      We’ve used Commission Junction and FlexOffers. It’s pretty easy to figure out once you sign up with them. Commission Junction is the easier of the two and you can get setup really quickly. They probably have documentation on their site.

      • Pascal January 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

        Thanks so much Mrs. MM.

  24. Geoffrey January 17, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Good stuff…you lay it out there in a nice and easy to follow fashion. At least it looks that way to me as someone who has set a up a few of these wordpress thingys. Glad to see you had the smallbiz theme. I like it…that’s a solid theme for small businesses…

  25. David William Edwards January 17, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Another great source along these lines is Michael Hyatt’s book “Platform.”

  26. August West January 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Thanks MMM – I have been thinking of starting a blog for a long time and this post was the nudge that I needed. I followed your instructions – and it didn’t take very long. I have always been hesitant to spend any money on web hosting with the possibility that I would not earn it back – what if I get tired of blogging like some other hobbies that have come and gone? But I like the idea of having the service double as online storage. I am up and running at:

    http://www.liveonhalf.com

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

      Wow, Congratulations August! Great choice of URL as well.. “Live on Half” is catchy and a compelling idea that will surprise people enough to draw them in.

  27. Dave January 17, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Hosting of files. Are there parameter’s in terms of when its getting abusive to host files. We have a *ton* of pictures scattered across different computers (two kids), I wouldn’t mind having a blog. I’d love to have maybe 200 GB of file storage for $7/mo.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 17, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

      Well.. they do say “unlimited”, and 200GB isn’t all that huge of a chunk of data these days ($10 or so of hard drive space). As long as your monthly transfer amount isn’t that high, which could result in a notice that you are hogging too much of the shared bandwidth.

      (For comparison, this entire site used about 240GB of transfer last month, serving a few hundred thousand unique visitors.. so it would be hard for a single family to use that much sharing pictures)

  28. Mrs EconoWiser January 17, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    I am blogging for all reasons stated, except the making money part and I don’t intend on making money with it. I just love learning new stuff and keeping focus on my goals. MMM was my inspiration to start blogging, though! Thanks MMM! And the MMM family is more than welcome in our humble abode here in The Netherlands. I am looking forward to reading those Ecuador posts since I really liked the Hawaiian ones as well. Have fun!

  29. Joe January 17, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    If anyone wants comradecommunistcrewcut.com for their new site, I registered it after this post dropped: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/11/09/grim-comedy-from-mr-money-mustaches-junkmail/

    I never got motivated to do anything with it (I already have a blog) so someone else can have it if they want to do something awesome. I was thinking of making a satirical complainypants/anti-mustachian response to every MMM post, or something like that.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 17, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

      Argh! I sure hope nobody registers Comrade Communist Crewcut! I can already tell that CCC would quickly become my arch-nemisis :-)

  30. Daryl Gerke January 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    Very informative post – thank you for writing it!

    Quick question – what plug in do you use for your forum?

    Been blogging here for two years. Like you, I’m an engineer (with my own engineering consulting business which eventually made me financially independent.) Started the blog out of curiosity, and a repressed need to write.

    I blog at JumpToConsulting (www.jumptoconsulting.com), sharing my 30+ years of experience on starting and maintaining a small consulting practice. Not a lot of readers, but still rewarding and a lot of fun.

    Up to about 90 posts, and yes, the goal is to eventually turn it into a book. Kept dragging my feet, but writing little bits and pieces on a regular basis works for me. (Also looking at offering an on-line class this year.) Thanks again!

  31. addieforshort January 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Just bought my domain name. Thanks for this post. Enjoy that affiliate $$$. :)

  32. Vince S. January 17, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Perfect timing for this post!

    Thank you for the instructions Mr. and Mrs. MM! A few months back I set up a Blogger account , purchased the domain name “www.TheFIGuy.com”, linked the Blogger site to my domain and off we went (all inspired by the MMM site).

    I have never set up a blogging site and by trial and error it is up and running. Things have been coming along and we have been getting 20 – 50 hits per day. Our friends love the site and I can actually say that a few of them have made some positive financial changes due to the blog, so creating http://www.thefiguy.com has already become a success due to that.

    I hope you don’t mind if I occasionally send you out some props on the site and put up links along the way to your site. Keep up the good work and I’ll keep spreading the MMM word. Thanks again!

  33. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle January 17, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    Today’s instructional blog was designed for people just like me – no computer skills and the blog universe seems to be filled with indecipherable words like widget, RSS (not a word but I have no idea what it is), plug ins…

    I have a wordpress blog and I hope I can figure out how to switch over to your format.

    I blog because I love to write and to keep myself more financially accountable to myself and I am thrilled with my 100 views each day.

    Will this post have a part two? How to market and grow your blog? Perhaps a series?

  34. Slackerjo January 17, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    I have a blog, complete with SEVEN, count ‘em SEVEN, fans (strangely not one single family member). I blog just to write little essays about stuff mainly because I have to self censor at work all day long even though people do stupid things that make me want to rip their lungs out.

    • Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle January 17, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      I have two sons and neither have signed on to follow my blog and only one reads it when I ask him if he has read it.

      Someone from South Africa read my blog this week and that means that I have had a reader from each continent (except Antartica) and that seemed like a big accomplishment to me. Looking at the reader stats is addictive.

      I wonder if MMM has had someone from Antartica?

      • Mr. Money Mustache January 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

        That is a neat question. I don’t think Antarctica has its own ISPs, so any scientists hanging out there reading your blog might show up as “Argentina” or some other place – if all the data access is through satellites, it could be anywhere.

  35. My Financial Independence Journey January 17, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    That’s a very nice walk through. Right now I’m using wordpress.com, but I did purchase my own domain name just in case my humble little blog hits the big time.

    I’m really enjoying the fact that blogging is forcing me to research all kinds of things I usually just say I’d like to research. It also forces me to start flushing out my ideas further than what pops into my head when I’m on the treadmill. And a few times, I’ve even reached an unexpected conclusion.

  36. Tom January 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Wow, how timely! I’ve been trying to blog more regularly at criticaltom.com , and I’d forgotten to ever switch my username from “Admin.” Now my posts will look far more professional (assuming you don’t judge professionalism by the content).

    I doubt too many people in the MMM community would enjoy my ramblings, because I don’t have a great idea of what I want my blog to be, yet. I’m hoping it’ll be thoughtful and funny, but the idea of confining myself to a single theme is too nerve-wracking for now.

    I kept my theme as simple as possible, although I often worry the white background is too harsh on the eyes. I love blue/white/grey, so most other options end up looking too dark. Oh well!

  37. nomoreuntdebt January 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    I was inspired to start a blog last year after reading your blog and some others. When I am actively posting, the support I get from others gives extra boosts of motivation to accomplish my goals, and makes the time spent writing totally worth it.

  38. Amy January 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    Such a fantastic post. This is exactly the method I used to create my new site posi.be (paleo-focused health blog). The only issue I had was that bluehost won’t accept .be addresses, so I had to buy the domain from godaddy and then create a subdomain of a previous bluehost account to host it. Either way, thank you for spreading the word about how truly easy it is.

  39. Rand Shoaf January 17, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    No doubt on perfect timing MMM – After years of thinking about it, I finally pulled the trigger last week and launched a blog (http://www.welltraveledmile.com). Love your content and writing, keep it coming! I enjoy learning from all your articles (especially about real estate investments) and relate to a lot of them because I attended undergraduate school at CU Boulder. Enjoy Colorado for me!

    I have one question about word press. What is your recommendation for using free vs. premium themes? Is there a large difference in performance and SEO functions with using a pay-for-theme?

    THANKS!

  40. Nathan January 18, 2013 at 2:08 am #

    Nice one MMM. I use both Blogger and WordPress. Personally, I’ve found that WordPress is brilliant because of the themes you can get from places like http://themeforest.net (the Agora theme’s the one I’ve used for my portfolio site).

    Blogger is awesome because of its absolute simplicity and ease of use – since it’s owned by Google it’s fully integrated into your Google profile anyway. So you can get your blog up and running in a ridiculously simple way (much simpler than WordPress). Plus, as it’s running on Google’s servers, you won’t need to buy separate hosting.

    Here’s the Blogger blog, along with a Moustachian post about why I’ll never own an Apple product. Thanks for letting us show off some of our wares, MMM :)

    http://baldinosbrainorium.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/why-ill-never-own-apple-product.html

  41. Jon Bendtsen January 18, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    no longer available. Probably because you did a search to see if the name was available or not. Or they crawled websites, found yours that mentions CatchyFisherman.com and thinks “we better order this domain”.

    It will probably automatically be unregistered just before the registar will have to pay ICANN for the .com domain, they do that so they can extract money from those that “forget” to buy the domain when they check if it is available.

    JonB-MBP:sla jonbendtsen$ whois CatchyFisherman.com

    Domain Name: CATCHYFISHERMAN.COM
    Registrar: GODADDY.COM, LLC
    Whois Server: whois.godaddy.com
    Referral URL: http://registrar.godaddy.com
    Name Server: NS03.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
    Name Server: NS04.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
    Status: clientDeleteProhibited
    Status: clientRenewProhibited
    Status: clientTransferProhibited
    Status: clientUpdateProhibited
    Updated Date: 17-jan-2013
    Creation Date: 17-jan-2013
    Expiration Date: 17-jan-2014

    Registered through: GoDaddy.com, LLC (http://www.godaddy.com)
    Domain Name: CATCHYFISHERMAN.COM
    Created on: 17-Jan-13
    Expires on: 17-Jan-14
    Last Updated on: 17-Jan-13

    • Mrs. Money Mustache January 18, 2013 at 9:58 am #

      I bet it was a reader of this site. :) Hilarious!

      I removed the name and address, as that is potentially private information (especially if the person didn’t have time to set up privacy yet).

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 18, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Could have been a domain name troll, or it could have been a Mustachian – enough people have read this article by now that someone would be tempted to take catchyfisherman, don’t you think? Especially since it has built in search rank by being linked from this article. Clever person!

    • Evan Lynch April 19, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

      Actually, the culprit here is likely GoDaddy themselves. They’re rather notorious for camping on domain names that people express interest an interest in by doing a whois look up on.

      Not a great place to do business with, I use Joker.com as my domain registrar personally, although I haven’t actually done anything more than buy the domain name yet, I’m planning on using my own domain as a place for when I write novels. I also plan on creating an articles section on useful pieces of information on the internet, maybe I’ll use some sort of blogging software for that – that would definitely be the easiest way of doing it.

  42. ermine January 18, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    Absolutely agree with everything you said in this great post, with one MAJOR exception

    > domain registration and hosting are all done in one step

    NO NO NO NO :)

    Register you domain name, with anybody BUT your webhost, preferebly with a name registration specialist who doesn’t do hosting. The reason is that web hosting is a commodity business, and hosting business have been fragile in the past. If you fall out with you webhost provider, for rotten performance, or they simply go bust, if they hold your domain name they’ve got a hold over you. Whereas register your name separately and if you fall out with your webhost you can tell them to stick it, cut over the DNS records and you’re away in 24hrs (transferring a WP site isn’t a barrel of fun because the media have to be moved separately). The business integrity of your doman name provider is far more important than that of your web host.

    This isn’t a big deal if your site is non-commercial, but if you get revenue from it it’s a major hazard. I had to pay a webhost $400 and lose a dedicated colo server way back in the early 2000s just to get them to release hold of a company domain name back to me even though ti was registered in my name. I’ve had another webhost go down under me after that.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 18, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Interesting point Ermine. I’ve never had trouble transferring from one registrar/host to another, but if you register with a sketchy one, I could see the chance of trouble. With Bluehost being among the largest, I would worry less. The bad publicity from mishandling would be too expensive for a company like that to risk.

  43. JaneMD January 18, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    I use blogspot for my blog (http://cheaplifeexpensiveeducation.blogspot.com/), but the benefits of the automatic Google profile need to be measured against your desire for anonymity. Since I blog with using my professional credentials, I do not use anything resembling my real name and de-identify patients/locations/situations. Doctors can lose their licenses over this type of thing – or get harassed. For example, if you read my blog, I found breastfeeding a bit of a chore and have no problem with formula feeding. I could get labeled ‘breastfeeding unfriendly’ and be disciplined by my job/hospital. Therefore, I set up a completely separate Google account to keep my RL out of it.

    I’m not amazed with Blogger, I liked the old version better. Hmm, wonder where my blog roll went . . . need to locate that . . .

  44. CodyS January 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    You don’t need a domain name to make Google AdSense revenue (or a similar revenue program). Blogger also hosts your site for free and you can buy a domain name and have free hosting on blogger without having the .blogspot part in your URL

  45. Jason January 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    How do you deal with comment spam? It can be a real pain!

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      Good question – this blog gets hundreds per day. Luckily, there’s a plug-in for that called “Akismet” – it virtually eliminates the problem and trashes all the spam for you with near-perfect accuracy.

      • Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle January 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

        My blog is a basic WordPress model and it uses the Askimet spam filter. Some good people end up in there and I left their pithy comments to rot in the spam pile before I realized that it needs to be checked occasionally.

  46. marven January 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    Hmmm, how does this work for migrating a blog? I currently have a blog over on Blogger (actually several) that I’ve been posting to for a couple years at the longest one. I actually want to migrate them somewhere else and merge them but at the same time not lose the old stuff. Related to that, I also want to create a new online identity surrounding it, maybe LLC as well. All that is obviously beyond the initial scope of this blog post, but maybe someone else has more insight. Or maybe I should just attend FinCon13 for the answers.
    Concerning running ads on a blog, you got it partly correct. WordPress does NOT allow ads to be run on the free version for sure, and possibly not on the paid one either. However, Google does allow Blogger users to run AdSense ads and that program is free to sign up for and participate in.

  47. Tony@YouOnlyDoThisOnce January 19, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    A very cool guide, Mr. MMM! I have been reading your blog for quite awhile and wish that you wrote this post before I got started! Lots of trial and error for me (with the help of some other sources), but you are right on the mark with your tutorial. Thanks for all you do!

  48. Rand Shoaf January 19, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    What’s next Mr.MoneyMustache? A second part to this post–’How to successful get massive amounts of traffic to your site’?

    I think that would be an excellent sequel to this post!

    • Grimpeur Heureux January 20, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      There are loads of sites that will tell you the latest way to get more traffic and get a higher Google pagerank (which seems to change on a weekly, maybe hourly, basis). But the MMM site demonstrates the key requirement for success: provide good content (for me, write interesting and thought-provoking posts).

      I don’t feel qualified to say what the Mustachian stance would be, but maybe it would be something based on craftsmanship: write posts (or create other content) that you can be proud of, about something you enjoy and that help you develop your skills in whatever field you are in.

      • Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle January 20, 2013 at 11:49 am #

        Being judged on your ability to write and your thoughts and ideas is the scariest thing about blogging. The second scariest thing is the thought that no one will read what you have written.

        That is why I changed my name, ever so slightly, so at least I am only risking humiliation in front of total strangers and not all the judgemental people that I work with.

  49. Robertson January 20, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I like the new coin-on-planks logo! Was it from one of your readers? It looks great.

    • PurpleHat January 20, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

      There’s some serious gravitas in that banner! I’m surprised you didn’t whack in some Latin for good measure.

      Libertatum per virtus ?!?

      • mugwump January 25, 2013 at 8:51 am #

        Libertas per virtutem, perhaps.

  50. Bakari January 21, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    There is a list of blogs of regular MMM readers / forum participants at:

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/mustachianism-around-the-web/the-mmm-readers%27-blogroll/

  51. Aloysa @ My Broken Coin January 21, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    Quite an extensive manual. You should convert it into an ebook and sell it on your site. :)

  52. Mr 1500 January 22, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    Super awesome and I wish I would have had this post about 2 months ago; it would have saved me lots and lots of time.

    If you ever do a part II, I’d love to hear about your monetization strategies.

  53. Kelley January 22, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    A few other options you didn’t discuss was turning your blog into a blook.

    I’m a professional author (of YA and romantic comedies) w a legacy publisher, blogger, and self-publisher. Besides self-pubbing some of my own novels in print and e-books, I offer one of my blogs as a Kindle subscription (as I don’t monetize my site otherwise). I also converted it into a blook.

    To be honest, a lot of my new readers didn’t want to go thru five hundred links of previous posts to catch up. It was much easier to offer a free pdf on my site, as well as selling the e-book for Nook, Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. And e-books are living docs, so I update every month w any new posts.

    As far as costs, I learned how to format myself. Smashwords has the best tutorial, I’ve found. I also do my own covers (quite simple using Powerpoint, the free Fotoflexer site, and public domain photos-or my own.) I have accounts w all the distributors I can sign up with.

    The royalties are really nice as extra side income, and my readers appreciate it. And once you figure it out, it’s not much more work than just running a regular blog. A win-win.

  54. Bakari January 22, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    I don’t doubt in the slightest that having a fully independent blog platform and hosting provides more customization and bandwidth and storage and is probably worth it if you have a large following, but just to clarify, you can definitely integrate both AdSense and Google Analytics on Blogger – in fact, they are built in options so it is ridiculously easy. It is so easy, its almost challenging *not* to.

    Anyway, I’ve been writing way back since 2006, and have continued despite a maximum readership of about 12.
    All that changed with the MMM article “What Do You Mean You Don’t Have a Bike” where my used bike buyer’s guide was direct linked. That drove so many to my site it actually jumped to the top of google results for “buy bike on craigslist”, and it continues to be the single largest source of traffic for my blog.
    Thanks MMM

    Here’s my shameless plug: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/
    The last post is a totally emotionally charged topic, and a potential trigger for some, but don’t let that discourage you from poking around the other articles

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 22, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Thanks for the correction, Bakari.. I fixed the article regarding Blogger.com with Analytics. It makes sense that Google would work with Google.

      I am also glad to hear that your bikes via Craigslist article got some benefit from the MMM article. Having the ranking change in the search engine seems like an amazing result!

  55. Grimpeur Heureux January 22, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    I commented above but then realised that MMM is allowing direct plugs in the comments. (So here it is…)

    This post re-inspired me to write a blog. I looked back to a project I started last year but never quite got off the ground. After a bit of a re-brand and a reorientation of the style and content to better reflect me as a person, I’ve relaunched:

    http://grimpeurheureux.com

    It’s a blog about cycling and happiness. Not directly about frugal living, but I did give up my job as an investment banker to be a stay-at-home dad and our household now has a much lower income (my wife works 3 days a week). So it is indirectly about changing your lifestyle to achieve greater happiness – and I do plan to write the odd post along these lines (as well as what it is like to go from advising large companies and governments on bond deals to looking after two children aged 4 and 21 months…).

    Please stop by and have a look :-)

  56. Ryan January 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    One thing I’ve never been able to figure out is how to get those redirect links for affiliate URLs. Is there a plugin you use to get the “http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/mmm-recommends/bluehost/” to go to the correct place?

    • Mrs. Money Mustache January 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      Yes, the plugin we use is called “Affiliate Link Cloaking”, by Clionpid.

      • Ryan January 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

        Perfect. Thanks! I read a guide a long time ago on how to do it by editing the htaccess file, but got lost in all the steps.

  57. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle January 24, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Your Wise Bread ranking jumped by 73 spots this week.

    Do higher rankings mean higher ad revenue rates?

    Do you care?

    • Mrs. Money Mustache January 24, 2013 at 11:02 am #

      It looks the same to me. The blog has been sitting at #53 for 3 weeks in a row, although much of the data that is calculating the wisebread score is stuck right now so it hasn’t been very reliable lately.

      All the ranking systems are flawed in many ways and many can be manipulated (ex: want a higher klout score? tweet a lot!, want a higher alexa score? join Yakezie!). None of them accurately measure readership.

      I can assure you that MMM does not give a shit about rankings of any kind. He only cares about writing and readers. I’m the only one that checks that stuff. :) He specifically thinks you should ignore all rankings and other ways to “get ahead” and focus on writing and your readers.

      The real measure of success for a blog is how many people are reading and participating (commenting) and I think the MMM blog ranks pretty highly in this regard (much higher than any of the ranking systems would have you believe). Pageviews, visitors, feed subscribers, # of comments, forum participation… that stuff is all useful information. MMM is primarily interested in changing people’s lives and he gets e-mails every day about folks doing just that.

      I know other people say that it can affect ad revenue, but I think that has more to do with private advertisers, which we don’t use.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 24, 2013 at 11:11 am #

      Haha.. while I think the people who run that Wisebread blog are great, that rating chart is silly and almost meaningless outside of perhaps the top 5. That’s because they don’t take into account any of the things that are worth measuring in a blog: page views, unique visitors, total reader time, feed subscribers, or anything else that measures how much people read or like the blog.

      Right now it appears to be scrambled randomly (maybe a code bug) so it means nothing at all. Last time I heard, this blog was in the 50s on that chart. Now it says “71, up 53 spots from last week”. Huh?

      There are some unfortunate advertisers that do try to buy based on things like that list or the meaningless “Alexa Rank”. I commend the bloggers who get some earnings in that way, since it’s a bit of good luck on their part.

      This blog doesn’t have any private advertisers, just google adsense and affiliate links for things like ING and Lending Club. That’s not a great model for revenue either (I should just have everything ad-free and have a book instead). But for now it works and provides a fun motivation to keep things growing.

      • Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle January 24, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

        Thank you to Mr and Mrs for replying. I have a lot to learn and I am reading as much as I can.

        Today I learned that there are services that will comment on blogs for you using your blog name to get your blog name out there. $3.00 per comment. Some people must waste a lot of money on their blogs.

        • Mr. Money Mustache January 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

          Oh man, the idea of that makes me ill – Comments as a commodity. And I’m sure they would suck, just like the offers I get daily for “free guest posting on topic of your choice from experienced writer”. with an embedded link for search engine rank purposes, of course.

  58. A pair of blue eyes January 28, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    Thanks for the tips. I have signed up after wanting to get back into blogging for a long time. Hope when I have written a few more posts you can come over and see how things are going. I have been reading your blog for ages now and find it very useful (shall be linking up anyone I get to read mine to yours)

  59. Nick January 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Thanks for the information. I actually started a blog a few days ago in ernest after realizing I really liked the notion of sharing information whether it be about travel, money, science or politics. I think its critical to the human condition for people to have the chance to explore and learn more about the world we live in and the combination of the techniques you describe here in saving money, along with ways to travel cheaply, and our continued thirst for knowledge are all move us forward in a postive way. We live in exciting times and I’m eager to see what other posters on here have to share! If anyone decides they want to pay me a vist please check out: http://slicksshoebox.blogspot.com/

    Based on your advice MMM I may migrate over to private hosting at some point though. Thanks!

  60. Yossif January 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    I actually made up my own blog right as this was posted. Thanks for making an easy to follow guide for us newbies.

    My new blog is basically MMM if he talked more about diet and nutrition. I loved MMM’s attitude and style but I specialize in nutrition stuff. I’ve lost over 100lbs and I want to help others do the same. MMM inspired me to start something useful! (and if I can get some passive income off it, great. Either way, this stuff is fun to do!) Any visitors to my new blog would be great! Thanks!

    http://angrynutrition.com/

    -Yossif

  61. Renee S January 29, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    I made a blog thanks to your help! I really hope you write more blog-y posts.

    I am a public health nurse and wanted to blog about my PERSONAL experiences in the hospitals/drs offices/etc as a patient. I think it would be a very unique perspective and I have had a lot of interesting surgeries/procedures that I think would be of interest. I think I could potentially help others to get through the hospital system easier and find out answers about themselves and their children faster and more efficiently with both my personal and professional experience.

    It’s scary though…what if noone listens? What if they don’t care? Oh well, I still do want to get my story out because…its awesome :)

    Thanks MMM!

  62. Ms. Rants January 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    This is a great guide. I’ve thought about starting a self-hosted personal finance blog, but I’m not ready to start quite yet. I have a free wordpress blog already at http://chronicrants.com that I love, and I don’t want to have to divide my attention. It’s been a year and a half and while my readership isn’t all that high, I do have some loyal readers who I’ve built great relationships with. I also find it to be very cathartic to not only write about the various issues around chronic illnesses, but to find support and similar experiences from others. I’ve actually been shocked to find that some things I thought were rare are actually quite common.

    Now, what I’d love to see in part two is “how to start a *successful* blog”! Your readership stats have been amazing almost from the start, and I’m curious about that. While I don’t write for the numbers or to monetize right now, my next blog may be different.

  63. Renee S February 5, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    So, when I made my blog, I signed up with bluehost for the 36 months, but my only price option was $6.95. Now they have it low again at $4.95. I talked to their customer service rep and she refunded me $72.00 :) Just wanted to share!

  64. Cee February 6, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    This was so amazingly helpful and inspired me to finally take the blogging plunge. Thank You so very much for all you do!

  65. simplicity seeker February 7, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Thanks to this post, I finally stopped procrastinating about writing a blog and took the plunge. Now, if only I could stop procrastinating and actually write some posts of my own…
    I have lots of ideas, so I’m sure I will get around to blogging regularly sooner or later. It’s going to be a blog about a few topics that interest me: philosophy, personal finance, health and fitness, and the general pursuit of happiness.

  66. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle February 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    I just had a terrible technical experience with Blue Host. I was doing the online chat to get help with moving my online files from WordPress to BlueHost. The ovelry techy guy could not understand what my problem was when he dumped several screens of information on me at once and I had trouble following them and moving between chat, WordPress admin and the Blue Host control panel.

    It was a very frustrating experience and I explained that, as I scrolled through screen after screen of instructions, that it was difficult for me to follow and that I might as well cancel so he just transferred me to billing and I cancelled.

    I am sure the guy knows everything there is to know about Blue Host but he certainly couldn’t explain anything to me.

    The billing people were very nice and cancelling was straightforward. Perhaps Blue Host would of been easier if I had opened my blog there instead of starting with WordPress and attempting to transfer.

    I left a detailed statement about my experience in the comment area and I hope they learn from my disappointing experience.

  67. Net Worth Snowball February 14, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    Your tremendous posts and inspiration have encouraged me to join the party and kick off my own blog. I have been contemplating whether or not to blog for nearly a year, but this post gave me the necessary boot in the ass to get started.

    My blog is titled Net Worth Snowball and focuses on embracing frugality early in life to harness the snowball effect of compound interest. I will share the ways I have been able to put myself on the fast track to financial independence in my 20′s.

    Thank you so much for always providing the great content MMM and for this easy outline to blogging!

    • Mr. Money Mustache February 14, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

      Congratulations NWS! Looking forward to hearing of your journey, and if you hit retirement before 30 (which is entirely possible), I will properly bow down to you :-)

      • Net Worth Snowball February 15, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

        Thanks MMM! What an incredible honor that would be to have the godfather of FI bow down to me :)

        You rock!

  68. Ian February 15, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    One of the best posts I’ve come across – great job!
    Absolute concrete, practical steps to follow, you can’t go wrong.
    Power to the blogger dude! Thanks for posting.

  69. Brian February 20, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Wow. What a great post! I’ve been using Blogger since 2001. I like it because it’s free and easy. My previous attempts to switch over to a WordPress blog failed miserably. Thanks to your informative post I think I’m going to give it another try. I’ve had Bluehost accounts before, but for whatever reason I couldn’t make it work and gave up on it. That’s been several years ago and before you wrote this excellent how-to. Thanks a bunch.

  70. Dave February 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    Things haven’t gone well thus far. First I found that the information in this blog is, I guess, out of date already as things looked different on the site after I passed part 2. When I was done, I tried to log in according to the email they sent me. I could not log in so I spent a half hour on a chat with an incompetent technician. It was then escalated to a higher power who told me that I needed to verify the account. I hadn’t done this because, gee, there was nothing about verification in the email. I pointed this out in the chat and never heard from them again. I called about the verification and the person I spoke to had no idea why I needed to verify but did it anyway. When I got back to my computer I had email that my password had been changed. And, what a surprise, as I don’t know the new password I still cannot login! Do you think I will ever get my $105. back?

  71. Ryan February 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Inspired by your Post Here, I decided it was time to venture forth into the “Blog-o-sphere” and Create a .Com to call my own. Thank you so much for putting this all together, it really did make the whole process much easier.

    Have you given any consideration to A follow-up Post detailing the Steps you took behind the scenes to generate traffic to the Site?

    I noticed that you’ve done some guest posting, and was curious just how involved you were with the whole SEO process.

    ——————————————————————————————-

    Also wanted to personally thank you for making such a life changing Blog and creating this great community. Inspired by your Work I started saving and paying off my debts, fixing my credit and working towards FI.

    I’ve also been smoke Free for 2 months now thanks to the support of Other Mustachians in the “Throw down the gauntlet” Thread of your Forums. Again my sincere Thanks, and keep up the Good work sir’

    ~Cheers

  72. Lisa Mueller March 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Mr. MM, I am a big fan of your site. Thanks for the tips on how to start a blog. I just recently started a blog, and I love it! I love writing and it’s been a great way to connect with people. I am on wordpress.com but may consider the hosting service if I get more traffic.

    My blog is: http://savvycareer.wordpress.com/
    (how to survive unemployment an thrive in the new economy)

    I started the blog to provide information and resources to people who are unemployed, underemployed or in a career transition.

    I am a big fan of personal finance blogs and read yours on a regular basis! The Ecuador trip sounds fabulous.

    What matters the most in terms of building readership…number of subscribers or visits?

  73. Daddy Pig March 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    Mr. Money M, Thank you for what you do. I love your posts and you have inspired me to start working towards early retirement. This post also convinced me to start my own blog Richbyhalf.com. Keep up the great work.

  74. kriss April 6, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    is bluehost better or worse than dreamhost? i already have a friend set up there and we like them but i have a bit of a hard time organising all this in my mind so am looking for advice. we want to start a PPC type blog for our business. any suggestions?

  75. Ryan April 18, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Signed up for Bluehost today thanks to this post, mostly for the FTP and side benefits but maybe also to start a blog.

    The one thing i DID NOT see you mention, MMM, is that you pay for 36 months up front. Gee, thanks for the heads up on that one.

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