How do I open a personal blog
Create a blog: How to successfully start your blog and what it costs
I've always wanted to create a blog and in addition to LetsSeeWhatWorks have actually started one or two blogs. Always with the goal that at some point and somehow I can make a profit (e.g. via affiliate marketing). Even if an idea is very rough and far from "mature" at the beginning, I am still relatively impulsive in the decision to create a blog. And I would do it again and again.
Why? Very easily. Because creating a blog costs next to nothing and even non-experts can start a professional blog in a very short time. This affects both the investment required and the time. At least at the beginning. For years, self-proclaimed gurus have been buzzing through the online world who call “content marketing” and are right. It is no longer just about a good product, but about sustainable, as high a visibility as possible. And that is no coincidence.
There are currently around 179 million blogs in the Internet world. Even if only very few of them can be described as successful online business today, they all have one thing in common:
They all decided at some point to want to open a blog.
Well-known German examples that I've been reading for years and like to highlight are, for example: Cachy's blog Stadt-Bremerhaven (started in 2005), Sascha Pallenberg's blog Mobilegeeks (started in 2012, today 25,000 daily visitors), t3n.de (started in 2005, over 70,000 visits a day today), Planetbackpack.de (started in 2012, almost 4000 daily visitors today), Selbstaendig-im-netz.de (started in 2007, over 5000 readers per day today), Kassenzone.de (started in 2008, just under today 700 daily readers).
All of you, the people behind it and the initiators, live well or very well from your blogs today.
Sometimes there are even real companies with several employees and an entire editorial team behind it. In some cases, however, it is still individual bloggers who get a good and stable salary, either through the sale of advertising space, as commercial referrers (affiliate marketing) or from consultant fees, which are possible thanks to the brand via the blog.
Tip: If you want to create a blog, it is extremely important to master the SEO basics right from the start. If you are new to the topic, take a look at this SEO guide. This is the only way to generate long-term traffic that you can market well sooner or later.
Creating a blog costs (almost) nothing
You keep hearing that creating a blog takes a long time. But you have to start somewhere. The good thing is, you don't need large investments or in-depth technical knowledge to get started with blogging. A blog does not have to be thought through, designed and finished down to the smallest detail from the start. Rather, a blog is an incubator for ideas and the place where you can realize yourself over the next few months and years. A business has to develop.
I find the analogy to a plant seed quite appropriate here. You plan this in and from now on provide enough water, a pleasant environment and a lot of light. Depending on how well you do it, the blog grows faster or slower, becomes straight or crooked, big or smaller. Creating a blog is child's play these days and requires virtually no technical knowledge.
How can I create a blog? 5 tips for a successful start
1: You don't need a lot, just the passion you already have
If you want to blog about something, you don't need a lot. Just an idea of what you want to deal with thematically. These can be personal topics such as cooking, art or books, but also technical matters. At LetsSeeWhatWorks the topic is “entrepreneurship” because I feel like it! The basic idea is sufficient for now. Once the first post is written, growth and development begin.
I started Happy Coffee, for example, because I want to keep the topic of coffee and, above all, sustainable consumption and fair trade in the foreground. After several years I converted the blog into a shop system and thus built up a successful e-commerce business.
2: A blog has to mature like good wine
Aging is good, at least in the blog world. There are hard numbers like the domain age, but also the time it just takes to write a post from time to time. Everything is important, everything is relevant in order to achieve the long-term reach that the others have also achieved. Because: Most of the traffic comes from Google search results. Additional marketing campaigns can significantly increase this effect, but Google is number 1. In order to get the traffic, the following basic rules must be observed:
- Write good and relevant content (with passion and easy to read)!
- Write regularly
- Pay attention to the SEO basics (here is a SEO guide for beginners)
- Tell ‘others about it, e.g. when networking (so that you get backlinks)
Those who do not take the initiative will never start this maturation process. So, get started, get started, let it mature!
3: Build your brand with a blog
A brand is not created overnight. Brand management is a lengthy process and step two after creating the blog. An example of the value a brand brings is e.g. Apple. You hear this name and think of quality, simplicity, beauty, functionality. If someone asks me why I use Apple devices, my answer is: Because it just works.
What Steve Jobs achieved with Apple as a brand is of course the top tier. But the principle also works on a small scale. If you get to know me for the first time, you quickly get the impression that I'm doing something with startups and entrepreneurship. A good thing, because branding creates a head start in trust with customers, business partners, investors, blog readers, and and and ...
And then the value of the brand becomes really clear.
If you want to create a blog, you should be aware that it is usually associated with a large piece of personality. Therefore, it is essential to conduct blogger relations with other bloggers in order to increase your visibility. A blog lives from its authors (there can also be several). These automatically become a social trademark and then also represent your topic. Your blog is your brand skin. Gradually fill them with topics that define your brand.
4: traffic = money
There are a few basic laws on the internet. One of them is: The real currency on the internet is traffic. Once you have thousands of visitors to your blog every month, you can easily monetize them.
There are many models for this: Affiliate, advertising, products, or you simply collect newsletter subscribers with freebies ... the possibilities are almost unlimited.
But your grandpas and fathers were right:
From nothing, comes nothing.
Your roadmap for a successful online business, a successful blog, looks like this:
- Create blog, fix topic
- Generate traffic
- Scale (decide how big you want to grow)
5: Creating a blog only takes 15 minutes and costs just a few euros a month
An argument that has increased especially in recent years. It has become really easy to blog and it no longer requires any specialist knowledge.
Where can I create a blog?
The possibilities are endless. It doesn't always have to be the most popular blog CMS WordPress, alternatives such as Chimpify, Jimdo, Wix or Squarespace will also help you get started in 2 minutes. I would like to introduce these possibilities here to show how easy you can create a blog. You can find my extensive homepage builder comparison here.
CMS provider:1. WordPress
WordPress - The market leader
WordPress is the undisputed market leader in content management systems. About a third of all websites are published with WordPress. WordPress has the advantage that there is a huge community and accordingly a solution has already been found for every application and every problem. The disadvantage is that WordPress is relatively complex and security issues can arise. That's why I switched from WordPress to Chimpify at LetsSeeWhatWorks. In contrast to WordPress, Chimpify is a closed system and easier to use.
Hosting provider, if you want to create a blog with Wordpress
WordPress itself is free, but there is a cost to host a WordPress blog.
1. Raidboxes - Best Wordpress Hoster from Germany
There are quite a few Wordpress hosting offers, but Raidboxes from Münster has made it its mission to offer the best Wordpress solution in Germany. The offer includes, for example, a free moving service and a free SSL certificate (so that your site runs on https). And all of this from just € 9 per month.
tip: Use the free Wordpress relocation service and see how fast your blog runs at Raidboxes. This is free for 2 weeks and is made available to you on a temporary Raiboxes subdomain. If you have not decided to stay after 2 weeks, your data will simply be deleted again.
Click here for the Wordpress relocation service
2. All inclusive - well-known hoster from Germany
The provider All Inkl from Germany is well known and also offers a pre-installed Wordpress. The hosting and performance are not as optimized as with Raidboxes, but all tariffs can be tested for 3 months free of charge. Then it starts from € 4.95 per month.
Click here for the AllInkl offer
Chimpify - The all-in-one solution for blogging and inbound marketing (used here at LetsSeeWhatWorks)
Chimpify is the solution for demanding and professional bloggers. We also rely on Chimpify with LSWW. With Chimpify you don't get Wordpress, but a completely new system developed by the team from Germany. In addition to a super-fast blog system, you also get tools for email marketing, podcasting and SEO.
Click here for the detailed experience report.
But Chimpify is so expensive ...
That is not completly correct. In fact, it becomes cheaper. Since we already had over 4000 newsletter subscribers at the time of the move from Wordpress and Mailchimp, the price was quickly justified.
No, if you're serious about your blog, then don't. Here is my comparison.
Old costs (before Chimpify): Mailchimp + hosting + SSL certificate + OptinMonster (or Leadpages) + performance optimization + theme (Mailchimp alone were already 65 € / month, all together almost 100 € + SEO tool)
New costs (with Chimpify): from 25 € / month (up to 250 email subscribers)
Jimdo - Drag'n Drop blog builder from Germany, extremely easy to use
Jimdo is also very recommendable and I use it for some pages. The Hamburg-based company now has over 20 million users and has long outgrown the startup age. If you are looking for a simple website builder, you should definitely try Jimdo.
You can test Jimdo for free here.
If you only need a website (without blog and shop), then Jimdo Dolphin is my recommendation. "Create a website in 3 minutes" is the promise of the Hamburgers. Here you come to your Dolphin page.
Wix - website builder with great blog functions and a beautiful design
Similar to Jimdo, Wix is a website builder. The advantages in comparison are an even more flexible design and many expansion options such as a separate forum. That's why Wix is the best website builder for me. More on this in the video.Check out our full Wix review here.
Squarespace - Easy entry, but little room for improvement
I also looked at Squarespace when comparing the homepage builders. In itself a solid tool that collects a few points, especially in design and SEO. Overall, for me, Squarespace is somewhat behind Wix and Jimdo in comparison.
Click here for the test report.
How much does it cost to create your own blog?
I spent $ 1000 at the beginning and it was a mistake that I learned from. However, that was years ago and was at the time when homepage construction kits were not yet widespread. That's why I decided on WordPress back then. Later, however, I switched to Chimpify.
Those who are at the beginning usually only have limited resources. If you want to start completely free of charge and maybe want to try blogging first, I definitely recommend Jimdo or Wix.com. Jimdo is free and can be used to get a first impression.
However, if you are already serious and know what you want, you should bring a little starting budget with you, if not very much. € 100 can make a big difference. Because a blog is more than just a website with texts. If you want to create your own blog, then you can make your name a "social trademark". You will be findable on the net (SEO knowledge required), you will reach more people and you can turn your vision into a successful reality.
Using “LetsSeeWhatWorks” as an example, I would like to show you how I proceeded with WordPress when I wanted to create this blog, from design to development to sending out the newsletter, and what I learned from it.
Step-by-step instructions for creating a WordPress blog
Why this blog wasn't (and should be) free
At the beginning I had an idea and a budget of € 1,000. With that, I set out to develop a blog that should serve the categories of business models, marketing, start-ups and lifestyle with exciting, authentic contributions from my experiences. As a further support, I also wanted to have a tool area that would be helpful for everyone. A project close to my heart that should be something special. This blog was allowed to cost money. I thought: of course you can also create your own blog with minimal effort, i.e. with free standard WordPress themes and manual tinkering. But if I've already saved extra, why not become “premium”.
The eye clicks too!
Usually you only have a first impression to convince your readers. So if you are the brand yourself (e.g. as a service provider or expert), then you need the right stage. Think of your website as a stage. Not only beautiful photos and graphics, but also the stage decides how the overall appearance is perceived.
Another good reason for a little investment is the technical basis. I myself have already made my experiences with many free themes (templates on WordPress). At first glance, they were all okay and they did their job. However, as soon as it comes to extensions, adjustments and special features (such as responsive themes), the free variants quickly run out of steam.
Therefore: Plan a budget and get the most out of your blog. 1000 € was way too much.
I had invested € 1,000 to create the LetsSeeWhatWorks.com blog. In retrospect, far too much, but maybe there are some good learnings in the list.
The 1000 € costs are distributed as follows:
- 600 € for blog design
- € 120 for blog development
- $ 197 for the basic topic of the blog
- $ 97 for the newsletter plugin
With each of these options, a smaller amount - and in some cases no amount at all - would have been possible. Let's take a closer look at my selection and possible alternatives.
The blog design - I would have preferred to buy a premium theme
I had the blog design cost 555 € net, the biggest item on the list. For me it was important from the beginning that my blog looks appealing and also graphically conveys what I want to express and achieve with the blog. I realized the design via the designen Klassen.de platform. The special thing about this approach is that you place your order as a design competition. That means that you as the client describe in a few words what you want.
In my case, the keyword was "Logo and design wanted for the founder blog," I also explained in a little more detail what my blog is about and who it is aimed at. After I had specified the deadline and my budget, the submissions started. After just a few days, I received five design suggestions for my blog. At the end of the estimated period (for me it was 37 days) I picked the winner.
The best designer got the prize money and gave me his design for further use. The process is really great. However, I had completely underestimated the implementation of the topic. It would have been easier to buy a premium theme directly, which is already technically great, without me having to do anything myself. Professional theme developers like StudioPress have numerous reliable premium themes on offer.
The development - if I could have saved myself, I would have used a premium theme
I budgeted another US $ 180 for the development of the blog. I found a suitable provider at Elance.Elance is a brokerage platform on which you as a client can advertise your projects worldwide. This means that from an international pool of specialists you can choose exactly the expert who can implement your project best or most cost-effectively - in contrast to designenklass.de it is not a competition, but a tender.
This gives you a significantly higher chance of getting a suitable service provider than if you were only to advertise your project nationally. In addition, Elance eliminates the annoying active search for a freelancer to develop your project. Reviews and experiences of other clients help you to get a good feeling. You just write out your project on the platform, set a budget and wait for the offers.
A developer from Pakistan finally got the contract from me to develop the LSWW blog, i.e. to implement the existing design. It was clear from his letter of offer that he had precise ideas about how he wanted to implement my idea for the budget I mentioned. Incidentally, I liked the collaboration so much that I had now hired these freelancers for other projects. Others, on the other hand, had not convinced me (long waiting times and too little output in the time), so I said goodbye to them again. In the future, I will rely on the ratings at Elance.
The blog theme
So that the programmer didn't have to start from scratch, I bought a blog basic topic (a framework) called “Thesis” from diythemes.com for $ 197. The programmer could then build on this theme. The ThesisTheme was the right one for me, as it has some advantages: Thesis is a framework on which the surface is then built up in a so-called skin. Of course, I had taken this instruction into account with Elance.
As I said, in retrospect that was a mistake. If you just spend $ 59 on a theme, that's fine in pretty much all cases at the beginning. Also worth a look is the Bloggo theme from Austria, which was specially made for bloggers.
The blog hosting
LetsSeeWhatWorks was hosted by AllInkl when it was still running on Wordpress. As mentioned above, we have now moved to Chimpify.
The newsletter system
Communication with readers is important to me. So that I can create and manage my newsletters in a WordPress plugin, I wanted to use a decent newsletter system with a variety of options right from the start. To query the addresses on the site, I decided to use the OptinSkin plugin and spent $ 97 for it. As with the thesis theme, I spent more here because I want a license for several pages. Single page licenses are cheaper. What convinced me about OptinSkin was the technically flawless implementation of the plugin and the associated functionality of the newsletter (especially the integration in Mailchimp and the ability to use skins). Nothing stood in the way of a successful newsletter dispatch.
I use Mailchimp to send the newsletters. With Mailchimp I can not only send newsletters to my mailing list, but also track what is clicked and read, when and how often. Mailchimp is available in a free and a paid version, whereby the free version can be used by up to 2000 newsletter subscribers. I would definitely do it again!
The newsletter system is already integrated with Chimpify, so there are no additional costs.
If you are toying with the idea of branding yourself or wanting to create a blog, then just do it! Don't let worries or budgetary restrictions hold you back for a long time, just get started! Because even with a small budget, your project can be implemented according to your ideas. I spent around € 1,000 on LSWW, but it's also possible with € 100. If I were to blog myself today, it would certainly be more than sufficient. Looking back, I'm glad I switched from WordPress to Chimpify, as it's a closed marketing platform. This means that there are no costs for additional marketing tools and operation is child's play.
If the blog is up, be sure to also have a look at this article on SEO and this with a few blogger inspirations on how you can earn 6-digit sales with your blog.
Have fun with your blog!
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