How to Start a Financial Blog

Personal finance is just that- Personal. There are many different paths that lead to the end goal of true financial freedom. I’ve certainly learned a lot from countless other bloggers who have shared their struggles and victories learning firsthand how to effectively use our money wisely. Everyone has a personal finance story to tell.

cash flowHow do you start a blog? Why start? How do you make money from blogging? I’ve been asked repeatedly about the steps to creating a successful blog. I’ve also been asked about the unique aspects about writing in the space of personal finance. Although Simple Economist covers many different topics, the underlying principles are all based on helping individuals achieve efficiency in the decisions we make. Personal finance is certainly one of the areas where we have plenty of room to grow even after reading and studying the topic for years.

So, Why Write?
For me, there are several reasons why I write every week.
(1) Organize My Thoughts – Writing helps to clarify my observations and allows time to present a clear and fully developed argument on a topic. 
(2) Easy Place to Share – I get asked the same questions over and over so I originally started writing to have an easy resource to send to people when I would get asked questions.
(3) Inspire Change
(4) Address Inefficiencies
(5) Make Millions! – Well, originally I was just hoping to cover the cost of hosting my page. Then I decided it would be nice to have some extra coffee money. Then came funding travel and now the income SE produces goes straight into our savings and investments.

What makes you want to start a blog?

Choose a Home For Your Blog
Choosing where to start can be a pretty daunting process. Most people just want to have a site with www.MyBlogTitle.com. We don’t need many bells and whistles or special addons. And, until our sites grows, we can use pretty basic hosting plans. Shared hosting is certainly the best place to start. It is also quite inexpensive! Registering your dot.com and getting your site up and running only cost about $4-$7 a month for a basic site. Most people know names like GoDaddy, but most people find that lean hosts like Bluehost or HostGator are much less expensive for providing comparable service.

I personally have been using Bluehost since the beginning and I give them my full endorsement. For the price, they simply deliver incredible value. I have used their basic hosting tier (will eventually upgrade if the blog continues to grow). I typically have 1-10 users on the site at a time but I’ve had days with 1,000+ simultaneous users and the site held up! That is pretty impressive for a ~$5 monthly hosting site.

The easiest way to start is simply going to bluehost.com and signing up for their basic package. I currently have a promo available using this link: Bluehost for discounted service. Simply type in the name of your site and it will check to see if it is available. Begin with the starter plan, and the additional features are not needed initially. Just go with the basic package. After setting up payment, you will be given the choice of software used to run the site. I suggest Wordpress. It is simple and free! Simply follow the prompts and your site will be up and running in 5-10 minutes!

Pick a Theme
themesA theme is simply a template that dictates how your site will look. WordPress has several built-in themes and almost any will work to get started. Many sites start with the default template then add pictures and text to customize. Start simple.

 

Start Making Money
There are three simple ways to start making money when blogging about personal finance. Personal finance blogs are unique because they are quite easy to monetize.

Three Simple Ways to Make Money:

Advertising – The first is super simple. Google Adsense is a service that will put advertisers on your site. They do the work for you and give you a few pennies per thousand views and a few more if people click your ads. Advertising is steady but doesn’t provide a lot of revenue starting out.

Affiliates & Referrals
This is my favorite and the one that generates about 70% of the revenue for SE. I personally like Amazon affiliates. They allow you to link any product to amazon and if someone buys it you get a small percentage of revenue (4-6%). This works well because if you are referencing something, people actually want a link to click so they can get more info. It is unobtrusive and a win-win for your readers. I suggest setting up a “Recommends” page of your favorite things when you get started. You can see all of my recommended products and services here. In addition, other products such as banks (Capital One 360) or investment companies (Betterment) will give you a small bonus if you link to their products. These types or relationships are great if you ever plan to review any products or services. Finally, although I do not use them, Credit Card referrals are the primary revenue source for many financial bloggers. You can often get $100-$250 per sign-up depending on the cards your readers choose. Companies like Commission Junction do the work for you. With all products, make sure you only recommend products you would actually use yourself or ones that would be in the best interest of your readers.

Products
Many people simply use a blog as a way to drive traffic to their site. They often sell a book, course, or service. A blog is a great way to get your name out there and provide constant communication to your readers and potential clients. Someday I’m sure I’ll write a book and I’ll certainly use Simple Economist to raise awareness about it.

Publish and Share Your Work!
The last step is simple! Just share your work. Post to social media and tell your mom. I recommend setting up a facebook page and twitter profile. That is the best place to start. You can also jump over to Pintrest and Linkedin if you are feeling extra productive, but many find those two a bit trickier when just starting out. The Jetpack plugin can help you publish everything to email and social media automatically! Next, find other bloggers who write about the same topics you do. Take a few minutes to read their posts and just leave simple comments at the bottom of their articles. The links at the bottom help get the name of your blog out there!

Once you have several posts under your belt you can start to reach out to small bloggers and see if they would consider letting you write a post. This process of guest posting is yet another way to get the name of your blog to many others already reading about personal finance!

That’s It! Start writing! Start a blog and let me know what yours is called. You can now join the official ranks of the financial blogging world! Feel free to leave any feedback at the bottom of this post if you have questions or concerns. Enjoy

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