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Starting a new blog from scratch and on the cheap can be daunting! This blog progress study breaks down tasks, time spent, money spent, and revenue earned.

If you’ve never started a blog from scratch, it can be intimidating. I’m starting a new blog (OtterBeeOutdoors.com). Far from my first. It almost seems second nature now.

This blog post will be updated on a regular basis to show the progress of developing OtterBeeOutdoors.com and how quickly it gains followers and revenue.

If you’re interested in blogging and blog monetization this should be an interesting post to follow.

Developing the Blog on the Cheap

I normally would put more money into the development of a blog but this blog will be developed as cheaply as possible to show how inexpensive blogging can be. Many people want to develop blogs on the cheap. It takes longer but it can easily be done.

How to Follow the Blog’s Progress

Be sure to bookmark this page and return often. Updates to this blog post will cover the tasks performed, the time spent, money spent, and the revenue earned. I’ll keep a running tally of the time spent, money spent, and revenue earned at the end of the post.

Time will be rounded to the nearest 15-minute mark.

I will not be working on this blog full-time. I will make updates to OtterBeeOutdoors.com weekly. Each weekday if possible. Baby steps. For those of you wanting to start a blog on the side. This will give you a good idea of what you can accomplish.

Scope of This Post

I’m not covering the blog’s setup in a detailed manner though I will throw out the occasional tip. Going into detail would make this post too hard to read. I’ll link to other posts where relevant.

Related content:

 

August 8, 2019

I already have Virtual Private Server hosting, aka VPS hosting, over at Bluehost, my favorite hosting company. Through Bluehost, I’ll be setting up my WordPress website. If you don’t have a Bluehost account I would highly recommend them. Most people are set up in less than 30 minutes.

Note: I have a VPS hosting. This is more than you need starting out. I have Bluehost’s VPS service because I have multiple websites hosted on the same server. Your cost for one year of hosting will be around $50.

I spent a few days deliberating on a domain name and the blog niche. I chose OtterBeeOutdoors.com. It’s longer than I wanted but it will do. Shorter names are better. I like keeping them under 15 characters.

I spent around 3 hours coming up with the domain name and researching it to see if any problems existed with that domain.

Summary of August 8, 2019:

  • Purchased the domain name through Bluehost with the domain privacy option, a must. The total cost of the domain and privacy was $23.87. But If you are new to Bluehost you’ll get your domain free for the first year.
  • Created an email account for the new domain at Bluehost and added the account in Apple Mail. I use a MacBook Pro.
  • Claimed social profiles on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (a business and group page). I did not take out the time to set up the profiles, add photos, or posts.
  • Total time spent: 1:00 hours
  • Total money spent: $23.87

Social Account Profiles for OtterBeeOutdoors.com:

August 9, 2019

WordPress Installation & Setup

Today, I installed WordPress through Bluehost. Once the installation was complete the prompts provided an autogenerated password.

SSL Certificate

Before doing anything else I always log into the new WordPress dashboard to get the site changed to a secure site. I wish this was done by default. One day I’m sure it will be.

Google all but requires your site to be secure to rank these days so make sure you take care of this first thing. Don’t create a post page or anything else before making your site secure or you’ll have to go through steps to forward your site from http to https. You don’t want this hassle.

There are two steps to convert the WordPress site to a secure site.

Step One: Log in and go to the WordPress Settings > General to change the WordPress Address (URL) & Site Address (URL) from http to https. I also changed the “Week Starts On” setting to Sunday.

Note: Saving changes after switching the address to https will log you out. Make sure you have your autogenerated password onhand. If you don’t like having an autogenerated password, you can go to Users > Your Profile and change your password.

Step Two: Set up the SSL Certificate (Secure Socket Layer Certificate) over at Bluehost. It’s located in the Addons area. I chose the free option to save money and set the renewal option to Auto Renew. It’s set to Manual Renew by default.

Permalink Setting Change

Under WordPress Settings > Permalinks I always change the link structure to “Post name”. It’s the more commonly used setting and from what I’ve been taught better for SEO. Just click its radio button and save the settings.

WordPress Plugins

After making these setting changes in WordPress, it’s time to get the plugins installed. If you’re new to blogging, you aren’t likely to know which ones you need. Unless noted, the plugins I mention are the core ones I use on most of the WordPress sites I create. I install other plugins later as needed.

Oh! Use the free versions of these plugins where appropriate. The free versions should be fine to start with. When you monetize Akismet Anti-Spam they want you to upgrade to the business version of the plugin for $5 a month.

Default Plugins That Were Kept

  • Akismet Anti-Spam
  • OptinMonster API*
  • WPForms Lite

* I kept OptinMonster for possible testing. I’ve not used this plugin before and might try it out. Since I will not be currently using this plugin I deactivated it.

Default Plugins That Were Deactivated & Deleted

  • Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
  • Hello Dolly
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com
  • MOJO Marketplace

Plugins That Were Installed & Activated

Additional plugins will be installed later as needed.

Setup Plugins

I went through the setting of all the plugins except OptinMonster API and WPForms Lite. I’ll set these up later if I decide on using them. I spent an hour going through the plugin setting. It will take you longer if you aren’t familiar with them. I have standard settings that I’m familiar with and like.

Summary of August 9, 2019:

  • WordPress installation and setup along with the SSL Certificate.
  • Deleted default plugins and added a core list of plugins that I commonly use on most blogs.
  • Went through the plugin setting and made adjustments.
  • Total time spent: 2:00 hours
  • Total money spent: $0.00

August 12, 2019

Today I created the blog’s legal pages and created the email address to use for the DMCA contact to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

If you don’t have access to legal pages, consider those offered by Amira from A Self Guru. It’s imperative that you protect yourself legally.

Legal Pages created:

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • DMCA Policy
  • Affiliate Disclosure

These pages were left as drafts and will be published after the creation of the Contact page.

Summary of August 12, 2019:

  • Created the blog’s legal pages.
  • Created the DMCA email address in Bluehost and set it up in Apple Mail.
  • Total time spent: 0:45 hours
  • Total money spent: $0.00

Related content: Is Your Blog Legal? How to Protect Yourself Legally

August 13, 2019

I spent a little time today creating a child theme for the free Twenty Nineteen theme and setup Google Analytics to deploy through Google Tag Manager.

Note: Child themes are needed for code modifications. You don’t want to rewrite code in the parent theme (Twenty Nineteen) because updates to the theme will overwrite your changes.

Created the Twenty Nineteen Child Theme

The only reason why I chose this theme is that I’ve never used it before. The theme is designed to show off the new block editor, and I wanted to see what it was like. If I don’t like it I will change themes. The theme will eventually be updated to a paid theme when the site has generated the money to do so. I want the site to generate the money for its paid upgrades.

When creating the Twenty Nineteen child theme I added the twentyninteen-child folder in the File Manager over at Bluehost and then created the following files in this folder:

  • style.css
  • functions.php
  • header.php
  • footer.php

Google Analytics

If you don’t have a Google Analytics account you’ll want to sign up for one. Google Analytics is invaluable. It gives you tons of stats so you know what’s going on. At minimum, you’ll want to use Analytics to know how much site traffic you’re getting.

I already have a Google Analytics account, so I added a new property for OtterBee Outdoors.

After creating the new property I had access to the tracking ID/code. It gets deployed through a tag in Google Tag Manager.

Google Tag Manager

If you don’t have Google Tag Manager, you’ll want to sign up.

I added a new account to Google Tag Manager for OtterBee Outdoors and installed the code for Google Tag Manager in the header.php file I created earlier.

If you aren’t comfortable modifying the header.php file, you can install a Google Tag Manager plugin for WordPress. I prefer to avoid added plugins when possible. They can slow down your website.

In Google Tag Manager, I set up a tag for deploying the Google Analytics tracking code and set it to anonymize the collection of data to comply with the GDPR.

Summary of August 13, 2019:

  • Created the Twenty Nineteen child theme files.
  • Set up the new property for OtterBee Outdoors in Google Analytics.
  • Set up the new account for OtterBee Outdoors in Google Tag Manager and created the tag for deploying the Google Analytics tracking code.
  • Total time spent: 1:00 hours
  • Total money spent: $0.00

August 14, 2019

SSL Redirect Added to the .htaccess File

I added a redirect code to the .htaccess file. It can be accessed through File Manager in the cpanel at Bluehost.

This code was needed to forward http requests to https. This is done to make sure people are going to the secure site and to prevent duplicate content. Google frowns on duplicate content. Essentially there were to versions of the site until I installed this code the http version and the https version.

The code I used is below. Just edit it to show your domain and not example.com.

# BEGIN SSL Redirect
RewriteEngine On 
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80 
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://example.com/$1 [R=301,L]
# END SSL Redirect

If you aren’t comfortable editing code, you can accomplish this by use of a plugin. I recommend adding the code to cut down on plugins. They are helpful but can decrease site speed.

If you’re redirecting an established site from http to https, you’ll need to change all your internal links from http to https. This can be done by use of a plugin.

If your site is new and you followed the steps from August 9, 2019, you shouldn’t have internal links to convert.

Contact Us Page

I originally kept the WPForms Lite plugin for testing with the contact form. It looks like a good plugin but it requires an upgrade to the PRO version if you want to use reCAPTCHA.

I highly recommend the use of reCAPTCHA if you don’t you’ll end up with a lot of spam email through your contact form.

Who wants spam? We don’t! I also don’t want to pay for WPForms PRO. I’m trying to show you that you can create a blog for very little money, so I’ve opted to use Contact Form 7 which includes the integration of reCAPTCHA for free.

I’ve used Contact Form 7 for years though I didn’t like when Contact Form 7.5.1 dropped support for reCAPTCHA v2. When using reCAPTCHA v3 I got a ton of spam. Fortunately, the Contact Form 7 – reCaptcha v2 plugin was developed. Contact Form 7 – reCaptcha v2 allows the optional use of reCAPTCHA v2 with Contact Form 7.5.1 and higher.

Plugin Change:

  • Deactivated and uninstalled WPForms Lite.
  • Installed and activated Contact Form 7.
  • Installed and activated Contact Form 7 – reCaptcha v2.

After the new plugins were installed I set up my email form and created the Contact page for OtterBee Outdoors.

Published Pages

The following pages were published:

  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • DMCA Policy
  • Affiliate Disclosure

WordPress Privacy Settings

The Privacy Policy page needed to be changed to the one I created. By default, WordPress links the Privacy Policy page to the sample Privacy Policy draft that is included in the WordPress install. Under Settings > Privacy I changed the Privacy Policy page to the one I created by picking it from the rolldown menu.

WordPress Post and Widget Changes

Deleted the default “Hello World!” post.

Removed the following widgets that were installed by default.

  • Archives
  • Categories
  • Meta
  • Recent Comments
  • Recent Posts

The only widget I left was the Search.

Summary of August 14, 2019:

  • Added the SSL redirect to the .htaccess file.
  • Tested then deleted the WPForms Lite plugin.
  • Added the plugins Contact Form 7 & Contact Form 7 – reCaptcha v2.
  • Created the contact us form in Contact Form 7 for the Contact page.
  • Created the Contact page and published it along with the legal pages created on August 12, 2019.
  • Deleted “Hello World!” post.
  • Removed default widgets.
  • Updated the WordPress Privacy Settings.
  • Total time spent: 1:45 hours
  • Total money spent: $0.00

August 22, 2019

It would be nice to be able to work on this new blog daily. I have two others and might be adding a 4th soon. It’s busy over here. We also found out we are expecting our first child. FUN TIMES!

Today I’m spending a little time setting up the social profiles. I had already signed up for the following accounts but hadn’t done much more. Everything is straight forward. It just takes a little time.

Please follow if the idea behind OtterBee Outdoors interests you. Thank you!

After setting up Twitter, I followed a few people and retweeted some posts. I didn’t spend long at it.

I spent a little extra time with Pinterest. I claimed my website, set up some boards, added some pins, and followed others.

Social media is great for getting a little traffic when you start out but it can be a big time suck. Be sure to follow the 80 20 Rule For Crazy Successful Blog Sites when working with your social media profiles.

Summary of August 22, 2019:

  • Set up the profiles on the social media accounts.
  • Total time spent: 4:00 hours
  • Total money spent: $0.00

August 23, 2019

Promoted the social media accounts for Otterbee Outdoors by following others and sharing content from others.

Summary of August 23, 2019:

  • Set up the profiles on the social media accounts.
  • Total time spent: 3:00 hours
  • Total money spent: $0.00

Time Spent — Money Spent — Revenue Earned

The Results from Starting A New Blog on the Cheap

If you’re curious, here’s the time spent, money spent, and revenue earned…

For Time Period 08/08/19 to 08/09/19

Time Spent: 13.5 hrs

Money Spent: $23.87

Revenue Earned: $0.00

I have not included the fee for hosting, because I have multiple websites sharing VPS hosting at Bluehost. You would want to sign up for the basic Bluehost plan if you are just starting out not the VPS plan. The basic should cost around $50 or less a year.

I do show the purchase of the domain name for $23.87. If you are new to Bluehost you will get your domain name free for the first year.

Starting a new blog from scratch can be daunting! I want to save you money and time when creating your blog. Follow along and I’ll show you the progress of starting a blog on the cheap. This blog progress study breaks down tasks, time spent, money spent, and revenue earned. Knowledge is the key to setting proper expectations for your blog. #ahoodlife #blogtips #blogging #bloggingtips #bloggingforbeginners #startablog
This post was proofread by Grammarly
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