At this point, you have most probably set up a free blog, written a few articles, shared with friends and gained some encouraging traffic. You should have also attempted to make money from the free blog but have realized it’s hard and you need to go pro. Now, here are the most important things to do before you make money from your blog
1. Buy a premium domain
If you check a free domain, it probably looks like this, ‘your-site’.wordpress.com or ‘your-site’.blogspot.com. These types of addresses are referred to as subdomains, which simply means a section of the root domain. And since such subdomains are part of popular domains like wordpress.com, they are not good for your brand.
Free domains have the following disadvantages
- They are SEO unfriendly and thus organic traffic will be unattainable
- They are unprofessional and untrustworthy; nobody can take you seriously.
- You are not in full control of your site and changes might make your site disappear
That’s why you need to buy a premium domain. A premium domain or a top-level domain looks like this, ‘your-site’.com or ‘your-site’.co.ke. Now, this is professional. I can put my trust in such a company because they have taken full control of their services.
A top-level domain normally cost around Ksh 1000 – Ksh 1500 ($10-$15) a year for popular extensions (.com, .net, .org, .co.ke) but might cost more for others such as .ke. You can register domains through most hosting companies. I personally recommend Kenya Web Experts if you want a local domain like Kenya’s .co.ke and Hostgator if you want to use an international domain registrar.
Choose your domain wisely because it represents your brand and cannot be changed.
2. Acquire Hosting Services
Hosting is the service of storing your website/blog on a server that makes it possible for people to access. When you build a free website, the site is stored by massive servers owned by the companies that provide you with the free website. Such services are expensive and only big companies can provide them for free.
There are various types of hosting services
- Shared Hosting: Several sites sharing one single physical server. Cheapest
- Cloud Hosting: Several servers are wirelessly connected to function as one giant server
- Virtual Private Server: Servers allocate segments of space, memory and processor power for different sites
- Dedicated Web Server: An entire physical server is rented by one site
- Managed Hosting: While you work on your site, your hosting provider manages updates, security, and health of your site
For a beginner, I would recommend shared hosting since it is the cheapest and requires the least technical know-how to get started. Although it offers limited space, processing power and memory, it is perfect for new blogs.
Kenya Web Experts offers some of the best packages in Kenya, starting at Ksh 2100 ($21) per year (and you get a free domain). This package is best for people who are just trying out blogging and don’t need bills running after them.
Hostgator packages are more expensive but are worth it. The cheapest shared hosting package goes at Ksh 1100 ($10.95) a month though you can get it at Ksh 600 ($5.95) per month if you pay for a whole year, which totals to Ksh 7200 ($72).
One reason I love Hostgator is their live chat customer service. Whenever you have an issue, you can talk directly to a customer care agent and get help. Also, the prices might seem exaggerated as compared to Kenya Web Experts but once your site starts growing, you will realize why they are more costly and probably shift to get value for your investment.
3. Get a Premium Theme
Having a premium theme is not as necessary as the steps mentioned above. However, experience is the only way you can understand its importance. Sure, there are thousands of free themes on WordPress and even more on the internet and they have all you need to build a successful blog without a lot of investment.
However, as you build the blog, you will realize they have many limitations. For instance, one day you decide that the logo will look better when centered. You try to find ways to center it but the free theme will not allow. This forces you to consider changing the entire theme for another free theme with a centered logo. Then after the change, everything else looks ugly.
Premium themes are designed to give you the power to transform your site into whatever you want. They have so much functionality and customization abilities. They are optimized through clean code and good responsive design thus can look perfect on any device and help you make money from your blog easily.
I would advise that you use a free theme when starting out before purchasing a premium theme. This will allow you to appreciate what I’m talking about. Once you decide to purchase one and want to take your blog to the next level, you’ll know exactly what you need.
A great market place for premium themes is Themeforest; it has thousands of themes, which are updated on a regular basis to ensure they keep up with changing practices and security.
Well, the site now looks professional, the hosting will accommodate your progressive traffic growth, and your readers will most likely enjoy visiting your blog. Now go make more money from your blog.