Your first step towards saying goodbye to your 9 to 6 job
Congratulations Freedom Fighters!
If you’re reading this it means you have already separated yourself from the majority of people stuck in unfulfilling jobs.
Because you have decided to take action.
You’ve decided you’re sick of living life on other people’s terms.
You’re sick of working your butt off every single day just to please your boss who doesn’t really appreciate your work anyway.
You’re sick of all the office politics and corporate bullshit that is required to climb the corporate ladder.
But most of all you’re sick of living in a constant cycle of Time-Money-Servitude.
Where you’re trading 5 days of your week for 2 days of weekend.
Where you’re basically burning away the fuel of life, your time.
Where you’re so busy that you’re missing the best years of spending time with your kids as they grow up. Precious time you will never get back.
You’ve come to the right place.
This is the first step in your journey towards freedom from work.
Technology has leveled the playing field
We live in an exciting time.
Today we live in a New Economy. We are in the Digital Age. And that means that the Old Rules of the Old Economy no longer apply.
Never before has it been so possible and realistic for ordinary people like you and me to start a business at so little cost.
In the past if you wanted to start a business you would probably have to have taken out a big loan with your home as security. You would have had to invest large amounts of money up front on office space, equipment or inventory.
With the rates of failure for new businesses so high, starting a business used to be a daunting and risky proposition. You could realistically lose it all.
This made experimentation very risky and recovery so difficult.
But the good news is today technology has leveled the playing field.
Today you can set up your own digital store for a fraction of what it would cost for a physical brick-and-mortar store.
Today you can start your own digital media company in the form of a blog at barely any cost.
Today at the click of a button you can publish your work for the world to see instantly. Whereas in the past only large corporations could afford to distribute their products and messages at such a scale.
You would basically have to own a newspaper or a magazine to reach the masses.
This is the power of the internet.
Welcome to the world of blogging.
Why start a blog anyway?
The first thing you should know is the blog itself is not the business.
Many people when they first started out (myself included) mistakenly believe that the blog itself is their business or product.
But I’ve since learned that your blog is nothing more than your “store front” – to use a physical world analogy.
So imagine if you wanted to start a business in the physical world, let’s say a restaurant or a shop in a shopping mall, you would need to rent physical space for your restaurant or store front.
This physical space would serve as a place to store and display all the products and services you offer to the world. You would probably decorate it and keep it neat and tidy so that it presents well to everyone that might walk past or come inside.
As you can see in my analogy, the restaurant or store itself is not your business, it’s just space. A space for you to call your own and for your business to present itself and all its offers to potential customers.
To put it another way, what would be the alternative? If you didn’t have a physical space how could you have a restaurant or a store? You would have no business.
That’s what a blog is. A digital alternative to the physical world store space.
The good news is because it is digital, it does not cost you an arm or a leg to rent space in – and yes, that’s basically what all this is, renting space, whether it be physical or digital.
5 steps to set up your blog (your digital space)
Alright now that I’ve showed you the purpose of a blog, without further ado let’s dive into the how.
Step 1: Choose your blogging platform
First things first, to start a blog you’ll need to pick your blogging platform of choice.
Today there are many Content Management Systems (CMS) to choose from that will make your life much easier.
A CMS is simply a tool that lets you to get your content onto the web without having to write HTML from scratch. Instead you will have a word editor – kind of like Microsoft Word which every one knows how to use. Once you’ve finished typing out your content you just click the publish button and your post will be live on the internet!
As I mentioned above, today there are many blogging platforms available but in order to simplify and make your life much easier I wouldn’t bother going into analysis paralysis mode as I so often am guilty of.
Instead I’m going to just recommend you use WordPress.
It’s what this blog is built on and it’s the most popular CMS on the planet and for good reason.
- It is open source software so it is free to use (although you do need to make a small investment in a domain name and a server to host your blog – more on that below)
- It is very easy to set up
- It has been around for many years and even huge sites like MTV, Beyonce, Walt Disney and the New York Times use WordPress themselves
- It is highly customizable – it has a large ecosystem of plugins and themes that will allow you to customize your blog in many ways (both in terms of visual design and functionality)
Again I would recommend don’t fall into the analysis paralysis trap of researching all the various CMS platforms out there. It will probably just confuse you as there are so many options out there.
In summary, you can’t go wrong with WordPress so I highly recommend it. It’s what powers 25% of all websites on the internet. I use WordPress myself for this blog.
Step 2: Sign up for for a web host
A web host is something you need if you want to have a blog or website. Without a web host, you cannot have a running blog or website.
Your web host is the service that connects you with the whole world so that your content is now live on the internet.
To continue the physical store space analogy I used above, if your blog is the digital store space for your business, then you could think of your web host as the things you need to be in business in terms of connectivity. So for a physical store you would need a phone line, an internet connection and a merchant terminal that links you with a bank so you can accept credit card payments.
Likewise with a web host you can now publish on the public internet as you’re now connected to the “grid.”
In short, web hosting is simply:
A service provided by a hosting provider (such as Bluehost) that essentially lets you rent server resources (CPU, RAM and storage). Most people do not have server administration skills nor do they wish to learn these highly specialized skills. So a hosting provider like Bluehost will manage the servers for you (maintenance, support, patching, etc.) so you can just focus on managing your blog or website.
Instead of delving into the differences between shared, dedicated and VPS hosting, my advice to you if you’re just starting out is to start with the most basic, cheapest package possible, and only add more server power as your blog’s traffic grows – I assure you, that is a good problem 😉
Start with the basic Bluehost package at only $3.95 a month. Yes you heard that right!
That’s the reason I said we are living during exciting times. You can get up and running and rent your own digital space for only $3.95 a month. Compare that with renting a shop front in your local shopping mall which may run you in the thousands.
With the basic $3.95 plan you get a free domain name, 24/7 support to help you with technical difficulties and importantly Bluehost offers 1-click WordPress install which will greatly simplify your next step below.
When signing up, they will offer you some add-ons, which you can ignore for now to keep your costs as low as possible at the start.
Step 3: Choose your domain name
There are many domain name providers out there but one reason I recommended Bluehost is to make your life easier as you can do it all in one place since they offer you a free domain name for the first year which is pretty good as domains range anywhere from $10-$15 per year.
So you would do Steps 2 and 3 at the same time when signing up for Bluehost.
Ok but first I hear you asking “what is a domain name Tony?”
A domain name is basically your blog’s address. Using the real-world analogy of the shop front again, it is like the address of your store which informs customers how to get to your store.
Likewise with computers. Whenever you type in www.google.com for example, that doesn’t really mean anything to your computer. Computers “speak” in binary numbers which doesn’t mean much to humans. For example one of Google’s IP addresses is 2001:4860:4860::8888 – now of course that’s not very human readable or memorable. This is the reason why domain names were created as a form of branding for humans to use.
Alright now you know that every blog needs a domain, it’s time to pick your perfect one for your business! It’s what people will remember and refer to your online business as so pick something that best represents you!
Here are some tips to help you pick a suitable domain:
- The human and branding element – pick a domain that is unique, fun, and easy to remember. For example I picked www.freedomfrom.work because it was easy for humans to read and remember.
- The SEO element – choosing a domain name with good keywords can help your blog rank higher in Google’s search results.
- Domain length – if possible pick a shorter domain name because it will be easier to spell and easier to say when people are talking to their friends about that latest cool post you published 😉
- Legal factors – be careful not to infringe on other people’s copyright or trademarks. For example even if cocacola.com were still available (it’s not) you would most likely be infringing on their trademark if you registered for it.
- But Tony, most domains have been taken! – this is the case with most .com domains. Since .com has been around the longest most of the good domains have been taken (just like with all the good email addresses). To work around this, you can do a few things:
- Be creative! Either pick a domain name that is not a normal English dictionary word (e.g. google.com) or spelled differently for example flickr.com or imgur.com
- String together a few different words to increase your chances to find a domain that is available. For example momthisishowtwitterworks.com
- Ditch the .com altogether – in the past there might have been limited top level domains (which mean the ending of your domain name like .com or .net or .org) but today there is a whole host of new top level domains for you to choose from. For example this blog uses a .work top level domain. There are many others like .academy, .compare or even .dentist. A lot of these top level domains are relatively new so you should have better luck finding the names you want there compared with if you only tried for the .com
So spend some time brainstorming a list of possible domain names.
The go on Bluehost to see what is available.
After you pick the basic hosting plan for only $3.95/month you will be redirected to the next page where you can input your new free domain name as part of the Bluehost deal as mentioned above.
Start trying different combinations to see what’s available – in the same way you would when picking a new username or email address!
This may take awhile depending on how indecisive you are compared to me 😉
I took about 1 hour to test various combinations before I settled on www.freedomfrom.work
Once you’ve picked your domain and signed up for the basic Bluehost package congratulations are in order!
You are now the proud owner of your very first blog!
Step 4: Install WordPress
In the past this was a separate step in itself.
But from 2018 onwards Bluehost has made it even easier now. While you are signing up and setting up your Bluehost account they let you set up your WordPress site as part of the process.
WordPress is now automatically installed. You don’t even have to manually install it anymore.
So in your signing up process just make sure to write down your WordPress username and password. This will be a different username and password to your Bluehost hosting account.
When presented with the option to select your WordPress theme (it’s like a skin for your blog or website which determine how it looks) don’t fuss about it at this stage and selecting the default WordPress theme will do for now.
Here’s a video that shows you how easy the process is today:
Step 5: Designing your blog – get a premium and professional looking WordPress theme
Alright now let’s talk about design, look and feel and appearance.
You now own a blog which is your digital store front for your online business. Just like in a real store, you would want your store to look good right?
Some people hire expensive interior designers to come up with elaborate fit-outs for their restaurant or store spending thousands of dollars.
The good news is with WordPress all you need is a theme.
To understand what a theme is, I find it best to draw an analogy to clothes. When you change your clothes you take on a different “look and feel.”
Going to work? You might wear something more formal like a business suit. This gives you a professional look.
Going for a party? You might opt for something funky or groovy to give yourself a fun look.
The point is changing your clothes can change your appearance.
But of course despite the different clothes you’re still the same person all the while.
Using this analogy, your WordPress content (all the posts and articles you’ve written) is like you as a person. That doesn’t change no matter what.
The WordPress themes are like your clothes. These can keep changing. Depending on your business and how you want to be perceived by your customers and audience, you should pick a theme accordingly.
Remember, just like when meeting someone for the first time, first impressions count.
WordPress has 2 types of themes. Premium themes and free themes.
While there are many free themes out there, this is an area you might want to invest in because it’s the first thing people see when they land on your blog.
To continue my clothing analogy, this is how I see it.
Free themes are a bit like shopping at Target or KMart. They are still clothes and they cover your body, but you know the quality and materials aren’t the best nor do they look that good.
Premium themes cost a bit of money but if you pick the right one from a reputable WordPress theme provider such as StudioPress you can rest assured your theme will be secure, fast, mobile responsive (does not look ugly on mobile phones) and easy to install, maintain and customize.
I personally use the Genesis Framework by StudioPress for freedomfrom.work so I highly recommend it.
StudioPress themes are also Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly (i.e. what helps determine your blog rankings on Google search results) and load faster than other designs because it is so well coded.
Load speed is an important factor when it comes to getting people to visit your blog. Studies show that if a webpage doesn’t load within three seconds, most users will click hit the back button! Such a bad way to lose a potential customer!
Pat yourself on the back or grab a tub of ice cream!
You deserve it!
You’ve just taken the first step towards building your online business.
You have your digital “store” space now.
The next steps are to start producing quality content and start promoting your site.
Good content will attract traffic and visitors just like good products will attract customers to a physical store.
Take it a step at a time
If this sounds daunting, don’t panic!
I’m here to help you on your journey towards freedom.
Let’s form a community of freedom fighters working together to escape our unfulfilling 9-6 jobs and reclaim our time and our lives.
Remember, just start small. Just start practicing for now.
Until next time.
Tony Lee Jacobs
p.s. if you found this quickstart guide helpful, stay tuned and join my free mailing list (the Freedom Fighter’s Digest) for more tips and tricks on how to succeed in your new blogging journey. You will receive free exclusive tips as well as ideas of how to bridge your gap directly into your inbox.