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How to Buy a Custom URL For Your Blog

Don’t you think a website with a custom URL looks more legitimate than one with a URL like http://mywebsite.blogger.com?

I think everyone does!

Using a custom URL for your blog not only makes you look more professional, it’s also easier for people to remember.

Buying a custom URL can be an intimidating task for many, but it’s really not that difficult! In this article I’ll help you find the the best deal on a custom URL for your blog.

How to Choose a Blog URL

Still need to come up with a URL for your blog? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Check out our article “How Do I Choose a URL For My Blog?” by clicking the link below.

Article: How Do I Choose a Blog URL?

Where to Buy a Custom URL For Your Blog

There are a couple of ways to get a URL for your blog on the cheap. One way is to buy web hosting with a coupon that includes a free domain name. The other is to buy only the domain name with a coupon. Let’s look at each way.

Where to get a domain name free with web hosting

There a bunch of places to get a domain name free with web hosting. If you need to buy web hosting, check out the article I wrote detailing what makes a good web host. For now, I can only recommend one to my clients, friends, and family.

Dreamhost

I recommend Dreamhost to everyone. I’ve been using them since 2006 and they’ve gone from great to even greater. If you use my affiliate link you’ll save $50/year and be eligible to get a free domain name when you sign up for web hosting. Your blog will cost about 10 Starbucks lattes per year, and I’ll earn some money to keep this blog running. If you don’t want to save money, I’ve also included a non-affiliate link below.

Affiliate Link (Discount):
https://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?252388/promo/dreamsavings50

Non-Affiliate Link (No Discount):
https://www.dreamhost.com

The Best Place to Buy a Domain Name

There are so many places online to buy a URL from your blog but there’s only one that I can recommend if you’re on a budget.

GoDaddy is a domain registrar that almost always has promo codes that make buying a URL dirt cheap. Godaddy also offer web hosting and custom email, but I prefer using Dreamhost for that.

How to Make Sure a URL is Available

Only one person at a time can own a custom URL, so we need to make sure the URL you chose is available. We’ll check the availability of the URL at GoDaddy.com because it’s really simple.

1. Navigate to https://www.godaddy.com
When you get to Godaddy.com you’ll see a screen that looks something like this:

Godaddy Homepage

2. Search for the URL you want to buy
In the big search box type in the URL ending with .com that you want to buy. and click the “search domain” button or press the enter key. In this example I used the comically bad URL www.StevesAwesomeBlog.com:

Searching For a Custom URL on Godaddy

3. See the result
On the next screen you’ll get a message telling you if you URL you chose is available or not. As you can see www.StevesAwesomeBlog.com is available, but www.MyBlogTutor.com is not since I already bought it:

Custom URL Available on Godaddy
Custom URL Unavailable on Godaddy

Buying a Custom URL

You might need to search for a domain name a couple of times since many are already taken. Don’t give up, and if you run out of ideas, remember my advice for choosing a blog URL.

Get a Discount

After you find a domain name that’s available, you should buy it…with a discount!

Use my Dreamhost affiliate link if you still need web hosting and you’ll get a $50 discount and free domain name.

If you already have web hosting and need to buy a domain from GoDaddy, you could use Google to find a coupon code, or you could save a bunch of time and install the Honey browser extension and let them do it for you.

Long story short, Honey tries a bunch of different coupon codes on any checkout page (GoDaddy, Amazon, you name it) and they apply the one that saves the most money. It’s totally free and it’s saved me hundreds of dollars this year, so you should definitely check it out.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully now that you’ve got a custom URL, your blog will seem more legitimate in your eyes; it definitely will in everyone else’s. I remember when I started my first GeoCities website (I’m dating myself now…) it never felt official until I had my own custom URL. Back then I thought it was difficult, and based on questions I get I know people still think it’s difficult, but as you saw it’s not.

If you have a blog, make sure it has a custom URL. Follow the steps I outlined in this blog post and when you buy one let me know what your new URL is!

How to Choose a Great WordPress Theme

It can be really overwhelming to choose a WordPress theme since there are so many available for free.

Or is it?

How do you know if you’re installing a great WordPress theme when there are so many options available? And should you buy a theme or use a free one?

Read on and you’ll be able to answer all of these questions and more!

A Great WordPress Theme Accommodates Your Blog’s Needs

You can do so many different things with WordPress from building a blog to an e-commerce store. As such, it’s important to understand your blog’s needs before choosing a new theme.

What’s more important to your blog? Displaying lots of imagery in a whimsical manner, or improving legibility? Do you need to have a more complex layout or will something simple be better for your blog? Do you need to do lots of customizations or not?

Your blog’s appearance is the first thing people will judge so if you don’t choose a great theme, your visitors might not come back.

Evaluate the purpose of your blog and pick a visually appealing theme based on your blog’s needs.

A Great WordPress Theme Leverages Plugins and Widgets

Depending on how a theme is coded, you might get locked into using it. Great themes are built to make use of the vast WordPress plugin ecosystem; they allow you to use different plugins and widgets to customize your blog. If a theme isn’t coded to take advantage of plugins or widgets and instead does its own thing, you might be stuck using that theme.

Themes that provide their own functionality and don’t leverage plugins and widgets are difficult to change. This is because that functionality is not universal, and is specific to only that one theme.

Choose a theme that allows for customization with plugins and widgets.

A Great WordPress Theme Loads Quickly

Everyone hates a slow website, but the Internet is full of them. As you evaluate themes for your blog you will come across lots of pretty themes but many won’t load fast. You can determine how fast a theme will load by installing it and asking Google for its opinion.

To do this all you need to do is:

On the next page Google will tell you what they think about the performance of the blog theme you chose. Errors are important and must be fixed. Warnings are less important than errors, but should still be fixed if you can. Do not neglect this because page speed is one of the many factors Google considers when ranking your website!

Note: with a bit of work you can speed up pretty much any theme, and I’ll write a tutorial on how to do that, but for now try to pick a theme that’s fast without needing to be modified. If your theme scores 60 or up, you’ll be in pretty good shape.

Choose a theme that loads quickly without any modifications.

A Great WordPress Theme Works on All Devices

It’s long past 1999 and people browse the Internet on all kinds of devices these days. In fact, it’s common for websites to have more traffic coming from mobile devices than traditional computers. This means that if a theme doesn’t look great on all devices then it shouldn’t be used. Period.

Need more convincing? Usability is yet another factor Google considers when ranking your website. If you want Google’s opinion on how usable a theme is on mobile devices, you can use their “mobile friendly test” tool.

Is your theme legible on all devices? Can you click links and buttons easily without clicking the wrong thing? Try out a theme on as many devices as you have; if it’s difficult for you to read or use, then it will be for others too.

Choose a theme that looks good on a laptop, a tablet, and a phone.

A Great WordPress Theme Works on All Browsers

There are a variety of web browsers out there for people to use including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Each of these browsers has their own set of quirks that might make something look broken on a different one.

It’s essential that a WordPress theme works well on all of the different browsers available. Often the theme developer will advertise that their theme works across browsers. This is usually a good sign, but you should also check the theme’s reviews. The best way to find out, though, is to test it yourself on different browsers and devices.

To test various mobile browsers you’ll need to check your phone’s respective app store.

Download all of the desktop browsers here:

Note: If you’re on Windows you won’t be able to download Safari, and if you’re on MacOS you won’t be able to download Microsoft Edge. If you want to test your website out on either of these browsers you could use a paid service like BrowserStack.

Choose a theme that looks great on all browsers.

A Great WordPress Theme Lets You Build Layouts With a Page Builder

Changing your page’s layout isn’t a big deal if you know how to write code, but if you don’t then you’re stuck! Your options are to either have a crummy layout, or to hire someone to build a layout for you. Enter page builders.

A page builder lets you change the layout of a page without having to write any code. A great theme will come bundled with a page builder, or at the very least a recommendation for which one to use.

Choose a theme that comes with a page builder.

A Great WordPress Theme Comes With Support

Something will eventually happen that will require you to get help with your theme. Many themes (free or premium) are updated regularly to address issues that pop up. Additionally, many themes come with some amount of technical support. If you don’t know how to write code then you should definitely try to use a theme that comes with tech support because the people that made the theme know everything about it. In the long run getting support from the theme author will be cheaper than hiring someone that’s unfamiliar with the theme to fix something.

Choose a theme that comes with support

Divi Theme

On this website I’m using the Divi theme built by ElegantThemes.com. It satisfies all of the requirements I listed above and it’s been a real treat to work with.

I paid $250 for lifetime updates and support, which you might think it expensive, but when I considered that my rate as a freelance software engineer is $100/hour I thought it was worth it. Even better, I get support and free updates so for $250 I basically have a staff of engineers working on stuff for me.

The best part about the Divi theme is that it comes with a ton of prebuilt layouts, so if you’re visually challenged or just need a quick starting point Divi’s got you covered.

Note: If you choose the Divi theme for your blog I’ll be able to help you troubleshoot issues.

Choose the Divi theme if you want to buy a high quality theme that will make your life easier.

Closing Thoughts

It can be a daunting task to pick out a theme, but if you follow the guidelines above it should be a bit easier. If you want to choose a high quality theme that’s really customizable, then pull the trigger and buy the Divi theme.

Remember, a great WordPress theme:

  • Accommodates Your Blog’s Needs
  • Leverages Plugins and Widgets
  • Loads Quickly
  • Looks Great on All Devices
  • Lets You Build Layouts With a Page Builder
  • Comes With Support

When you choose a theme, let me know which one you chose!

6 Places to Find Beautiful Imagery For Your Blog For Free

Don’t you hate boring blogs that don’t have beautiful imagery in them?

Blogs are so much more interesting when there is beautiful imagery to look at.

In this article we’ll talk about six different places where you can get beautiful imagery for your blog for free.

Pexels

Pexels is a great resource for finding beautiful imagery for your blog. You can search for something specific, or browse their categories if you need some inspiration. You can even browse photos by color! Best of all, all of the photos on Pexels can be used for personal or commercial use. This means you don’t have to worry about being sued for making your content beautiful.


Free Blog Imagery via Pexels

ISO Republic

ISO Republic is similar to Pexels, but they have different photos and do a better job categorizing them. You can search and browse on ISO Republic like you can on Pexels, and all photos are also free for personal or commercial use. If you’re looking for even nicer photos, they also offer premium photos for a fee.


Free Blog Imagery via ISO Republic

NegativeSpace

NegativeSpace is much like the two previous websites, but much smaller. You can search for photos or browse for inspiration, and once again all photos are free for use for personal or commercial projects.


Free Blog Imagery via NegativeSpace

PicJumbo

PicJumbo is another site that has beautiful photos, many of which are free and can be used for personal or commercial work. They really try to upsell you premium photos, though, so keep an eye out for that. And if you want to download all of the free images at once, they let you do that with a suggested donation here.

PicJumbo

LibreShot

LibreShot is a really pretty website. Like the others they provide free images for personal and commercial use, and like PicJumbo they do a nice job trying to upsell you. You can search or browse, and sort by popularity. The most impressive part is that one guy made the website and takes all of the pictures!


Free Blog Imagery via LibreShot

Flickr

Flickr is a website that many use, but often forget that you can get great images from too. When you search, just be sure to open the “Advanced” filters and filter by the appropriate license.


Free Blog Imagery via Flickr

Closing Thoughts

With so many different places to find beautiful imagery for your blog, it doesn’t make sense not to. Making your blog more aesthetically pleasing will make it more interesting for your readers and that means they will be much more likely to come back.

Make Money Blogging: 7 Different Methods

Most people would agree that it would be a dream come true if they could make money blogging.

The sad truth is that most people just aren’t willing to work hard enough to make money blogging, or maybe they just don’t know how to monetize their blog.

If you’re one of the few that is willing to put in the time and effort to make money blogging, then read on.

Maybe you want the freedom to work when you want wherever you want. Or maybe you just want to earn some fun-money. Whatever your reason for wanting to make money blogging, this article details 7 ways you can do just that.

1. Sell Ad Space

Ads are one of the easiest ways for you to make money blogging. All you have to do is add them to your blog (pun intended) and then make sure people see them. If you can drive enough traffic to your blog then your ads will start to make you money.

There are a handful of different ad types that you can sell:

  • CPM
  • CPC
  • CPA
  • sponsorships
  • job listings

Let’s look at each type in more detail.

CPM Ads

CPM stands for Cost Per Thousand (M is the roman numeral for 1000). This means you get paid some for every 1000 people that see an ad.

The amount you get paid varies depending on the ad size, placement, product and more. $2-$3 is common for CPM banner ads though.

CPC Ads

CPC stands for “cost per click” so you get paid every time someone clicks an ad. Rates for CPC ads are much lower than CPM (well under $0.20 per click) and are also more difficult programs to be accepted into.

CPA Ads

CPA stands for “cost per action” and can have a pretty high payout. Simply put, when someone completes an action (like signing up for an email list) you get paid.

Sponsorships

A sponsorship is when someone pays you to mention their brand. Have you ever listened to a podcast and heard them say “This episode is sponsored by…”? That’s an advertisement.

There are all kinds of things you can get sponsorships for:

  • your entire blog
  • individual blog posts
  • podcast episodes
  • videos
  • etc.

The price of sponsorships will be dependent on the content getting sponsored. The larger the audience, the more negotiating power you’ll have. You could also work with an unpaid sponsor to give your community a great deal on a product or service.

Job Listings

Have you ever heard people say “it’s hard to find good people these days”? It’s true and people are willing to pay to find them. If it’s relevant to your blog you could get people to pay you to list open job positions.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing (also known as cost per transaction or cost per lead) is another way you can make money blogging. In a nutshell, you promote products and then when someone clicks your link and buys it you get a cut of the sale. Affiliate marketing can be really effective if you build up your personal brand and only recommend great products.

3. Community

Depending on the niche your blog is in, you could create a community where like minded people can connect. Often these are called “master-minds”, but in the end it’s a community built around a given topic.

At this point you might be wondering why anyone would pay to be a part of a community. The reason is because it can often be difficult to find people that you want to interact with. I pay $400 monthly to be in a community with others that strive to build passive income. We share ideas, network, help each other out, and provide support for each other when things aren’t going well.

I could create my own passive income community (and I’d like to in the future!) but for now I’m happy to pay to learn from others. It’s much cheaper than going back to college!

4. Coaching

You’re probably an expert at something and there are probably people that would pay you to teach them. Coaching is a great way to learn something quickly because you can ask someone with experience specific questions. Often what takes someone years to learn can be taught in a matter of months.

5. Premium Content

You spend a lot of time creating content so why not have people pay you for it? If your content can help someone make $5000 then it’s worth at least 10% of that ($500). And if you have knowledge that very few people posses then it’s definitely worth something. Package it up nicely, market it, and make some money with it.

6. Promote Your Other Business

If you have another business, like a lawn care service, you could use your blog to find new customers. This is called content marketing. By using your deep expertise in a subject you can inform people why they should hire you or your company for the job.

7. Sell Your Own Products

Instead of selling other people’s products, why not make your own? If you have a great product, selling it yourself make you more money in the long run. Selling your own product is also much cheaper than paying someone else to advertise it.

You could create a digital product like an eBook, an online course, or an industry report if you have the right data. And if you have the skills you could even create a physical product; ship it to customers yourself or sell it on another channel like eBay or Amazon.

Closing Thoughts

There’s no shortage of ways to make money blogging, but don’t expect miracles to happen overnight once you start. Maybe you won’t make money directly from your blog posts, but if you’re willing to think outside the box you can still earn big bucks selling:

  • ad space
  • affiliate products
  • community memberships
  • coaching
  • premium content
  • leads
  • products

How Do You Choose a Good Blog Topic?

If you’re like me then you’re interested in way too many things, which can make it difficult to choose a single blog topic.

After waffling back and forth for years I think I’ve figured out the best way to choose a blog topic.

Ask yourself these two questions:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • Do I want to monetize my blog?

Even with this guidance it can be difficult to choose a good blog topic because the possibilities are limitless, but hopefully it’ll be a tiny bit easier. Let’s look at each question more in depth.

What are you passionate about?

This should be a no-brainer. You need to write about something you actually enjoy. It will be much easier for you to write a blog topic that you enjoy. Like cooking? Maybe you should write about that. Hate finance? Then you should probably pick a different topic.

If your blog topic is something you don’t enjoy then you will have a hard time writing regularly.

Most people start a blog on a Monday and give up by Friday. This happens because they get bored with blogging. This is also why it’s important for you to write about something you are passionate about.

Grab a piece of paper and brainstorm a handful of topics that you are passionate about. This will be helpful in just a minute.

Do you want to make money off of your blog?

Everyone wants to make money, but it might not be a major goal for your blog; in addition to this blog I also have one that I write in daily as a way to reflect on my life. That blog isn’t monetized at all because that’s not its purpose.

If making money isn’t a major goal for your blog, then stop reading this article and just start writing! Seriously! Start now! I always feel great after I write for a while!

If making money is a major goal for your blog, then read on because you’ll need to consider two more things.

Is there a big enough audience reading about your blog topic?

When you’re trying to make money there are a couple of ways to do it:

  • sell lots of inexpensive things or
  • sell a few expensive things (or a lot!)

For you to make money either way there must be enough people interested in what you’re selling . But how do you know if there are enough people interested in what you’re selling?

Google provide a couple of tools that can help you determine the size of your audience:

  • Google Trends shows you how often people are searching for a given topic around the world
  • Google Keyword Planner shows you how much it costs to buy ads for keywords. It also helps you discover new keywords

After you do some research with these tools you’ll have an idea of how popular your topic is. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • a good topic has increasing popularity
  • a topic that has at least 10,000 monthly searches (this can also be a combination of traffic from several keywords) will do better than one with few monthly searches
  • topics that have a bid amount under $5 are ideal for when you start advertising

Are there products or services you can sell related to your blog topic?

The answer to this question is usually “yes”, but some products and services are better than others. If you don’t know how to make money with your blog, then click the link below to learn how.

Article: 7 Ways to Make Money Blogging

After you know about all the different ways to make money from your blog, start doing some research. This could be as simple as finding products on Amazon or your favorite affiliate site.

If you’re promoting products make sure they are popular and not too expensive (I’d stay around $100 max). If they’re too expensive people might not buy them. The only exception to this are products that will help people make or save money. In these cases the product could pay for itself so it would be an investment, and not a regular purchase.

If there are not any products or services for you to sell/promote then you won’t be able to make money with your topic. In this case you’ll need to choose another topic and start all over again.

However, if you feel confident that you can drive a lot of traffic to your blog, you could still make money selling ads.

Closing Thoughts

By now you should have a bunch of ideas for things you are passionate about. If you don’t care about making money with your blog then you should already be writing your first blog post.

But if you do want to make money with your blog you’ll need to go through each of your ideas and check to make sure that:

  • there are enough people searching for the topic
  • there are products and services you can sell or promote

Do this with each idea because some ideas will be much easier to make money from than others. After you’ve done that, pick a topic and start writing!

What’s the Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Isn’t it confusing when someone tells you to build a blog using WordPress and there are two different websites for the same thing (WordPress.com and WordPress.org)?

Well don’t worry – you’re not alone!

WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two very different websites with different purposes:

WordPress.com is a place where you can host a WordPress blog either for free or for a fee.

WordPress.org is the place you go to download the WordPress software if you want to host your blog on your own.

I’ll save you the suspense:

Hosting a WordPress blog yourself is better than using WordPress.com in almost every single way:

  • It’s cheaper
  • You can monetize your blog from Day 1
  • You can use any theme you want
  • You can install any plugin you want
  • You can customize your blog however you want
  • You get unlimited storage space for $10/month
  • You get unlimited email address for the same $10/month
  • Great customer support is free 24/7/365
  • and the list goes on and on…

Since 2006 I’ve been using Dreamhost.com to host blogs and websites and they’ve been terrific. If you’re looking for more info, check out my article that details what makes a good web host.

If you’re ready to buy web hosting you can click the link below to sign up through my affiliate link. You’ll save $50 your first year (around $7/month) and I’ll earn around $20-$30 to keep this site running. I’ve also included a non-affiliate link below too if you don’t want me to earn money, but you won’t get the discount.

Affiliate Link (Discount):
https://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?252388/promo/dreamsavings50

Non-Affiliate Link (No Discount):
https://www.dreamhost.com/

Read on if you’re still interested in the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org!

Fees

WordPress.com has a variety of plans that let you host a blog for the world to see. At the time of writing (2017) WordPress.com has four different plans:

  • Free ($0.00/month)
  • Personal ($2.99/month)
  • Premium ($8.25/month)
  • Business ($24.92/month)

If you want a custom blog that you can monetize then it will always cost you money to host it. However, the fees WordPress.com charges you are bogus because depending on how much you spend they:

  • limit the themes you can choose from
  • limit the customization you can do
  • prevent you from monetizing your blog
  • run their ads on your blog
  • charge you too much
  • and so on…

If you download WordPress from WordPress.org and host it yourself you can do anything you want from Day 1. It’s just as easy to get set up and even better, hosting a blog on Dreamhost only costs you around $10/month.

Winner: Hosting your own blog.

Storage Space

Each tier of WordPress.com hosting limits the amount of stuff you upload to your blog. Only when you buy the “business” plan will you have unlimited storage space.

Hosting your own blog on Dreamhost will get you unlimited storage space for around $10/month.

Winner: Hosting your own blog.

Theme Limitations

When you buy hosting from WordPress.com they limit you to only use free themes until you buy the “business” plan. Also, until you spend $8.95/month on WordPress.com you can only do basic theme customizations.

If you host your own blog you can install any theme (free or paid) and you can customize it however you want from Day 1. If you’re feeling brave you can even change your theme’s code when you host your own blog.

Winner: Hosting your own blog.

Custom URL

To get a custom URL on WordPress.com you need to buy a paid plan. If you don’t your URL will be http://.wordpress.com.

If you host your blog yourself you will still need to buy a custom URL, but with a coupon it will cost you less than $7/year. However, if you create a new account on Dreamhost you can get a custom URL for free!

Winner: Hosting your own blog.

Ads

When you sign up for a free account on WordPress.com they will run ads on your website that they profit from. If you upgrade to a paid plan, they won’t do this.

Until you pay at least $8.25/month, WordPress.com won’t let you run ads your own ads so you can make money off of your own blog. This is pretty slimy since you’re the one doing all the work.

If you host a blog yourself, nobody will run ads on your site unless it’s you. You can monetize your blog any way you want from Day 1 when you host it because you’re in charge. You can run ads, sell a product, start a membership program, or whatever you want.

Winner: Hosting your own blog.

Videos

When you sign up for a WordPress.com account you need to pay at least $8.25/month before you can upload videos to your blog.

If you host your blog yourself you can upload videos and whatever else you want from Day 1.

Winner: Hosting your own blog.

Analytics

Analytics tell you who visits your website and what they look at. Google Analytics is the gold standard when it comes to website analytics.

When you sign up for WordPress.com you have to pay $24.92/month before you can use Google Analytics. Until then you have to use Jetpack, which isn’t as good.

When you host your blog yourself you can use Google Analytics for free from Day 1.

Winner: Hosting your own blog.

Plugins

When you sign up for WordPress.com you can only choose from the plugins they provide. This includes the expensive paid plans!

When you host your blog yourself you can install any plugin you want from Day 1.

Winner: Hosting your own blog.

Email Addresses

When you sign up for WordPress.com you need to jump through hoops to get a custom email address (you@yoursite.com), or pay up to $50/year for Google to do it for you.

If you host your own blog, your web host will probably offer you free custom email addresses that you can set up with one click. Dreamhost offers unlimited email accounts and it’s real easy to set up.

Winner: Host your own blog.

Upgrades

When you sign up for WordPress.com they will upgrade your blog for you automatically.

When you host your own blog you will need to upgrade your own blog, but to do that you need to click one button.

Winner: Tie between WordPress.com and hosting your own blog.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, hosting a WordPress blog yourself is way better than using WordPress.com.

Once again, if you’re ready to buy web hosting you can click the link below to sign up for Dreamhost with my affiliate link.

My link will save $50 your first year and you’ll be supporting this website. I’ve also included a non-affiliate link below too if you don’t want me to earn a referral bonus to keep this site running, but you won’t get a discount.

Affiliate Link (Discount):
https://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?252388/promo/dreamsavings50

Non-Affiliate Link (No Discount):
https://www.dreamhost.com/