How To Start A Blog

How To Start A Blog

It’s not an exaggeration to say that starting a blog changed the entire trajectory of my life. And many of you have expressed interest in exploring this as a hobby or maybe even as a side hustle. So with that in mind if you’re looking to start a blog, here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to get started today. You can have a blog up and running in just a few hours, even if your tech skills are limited.

Why Start a Blog

Before you get started creating your blog, you'll want to take some time and figure out why you’re looking to start a blog in the first place  Having a ‘why’ behind your blog can help when it comes to choosing a name, theme, topic, and the positioning of potential affiliates. Also, the ‘why’ behind your blog will help you determine who your ideal reader is.

Here are some of the primary reasons people start blogs.


Some blogs exist purely to act as a form of journaling. Some individuals find it cathartic to put their thoughts into words and share them. And, in some cases, the blogger behind the blog remains anonymous to create even more comfort when sharing their personal thoughts and feelings.


Blogs are amazing for educating a specific audience on a given topic. Blogs posts vary in style, but those that are informational or ‘how-to’ in nature, help their audiences learn more about a given topic, or specifically show them how to do something.

Earning Money

Some people are blown away when they learn that blogs are great for earning money. For some, blogs are much more than a hobby, in some cases, blogs are full-blown businesses. Not only do big blogs earn plenty of money, but they can also be sold for big sums of money too. While your goal doesn’t need to be to make loads of money, it can be fun to aim for some level of monetization.

Related: 4 Ways To Monetize A Blog

Enhancing Credibility

For those with another primary business, a blog is a great secondary method of building credibility within an industry. While you might have a business presence through LinkedIn or other social channels, a blog is a space to share what you know about your field of expertise–whether it’s cooking, decorating, personal finance, investing, cars, etc.

Getting Started–The Nuts And Bolts To Your New Blog

Once you know what your goals are for the blog you can begin creating it. To do so you will need three basic things:

  • Domain: This is your “.com” and how people find you, for example
  • Host: This is where your files are stored, for example Siteground.
  • Blogging Platform: This is the framework of your blog. It provides the content management system and design, for example WordPress.

It's important to know that some services offer the blogging platform and host in one. These are sites like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. Even WordPress has it own in-house hosting service. While these services make it easy to get started we don't recommend them. They have limited flexibility which means you will quickly outgrow them. And your content is often trapped on that service. If you decide to leave you likely will not be able to take your content with you.

Choose Your Topic/Niche

Your blog topic should be something specific. Get started by starting with a broad topic and narrowing down as you go. For example, those in the personal finance space could blog about all personal finance topics–like debt, savings, investing, real estate; while other blogs choose to be more specific. For example, someone might focusing exclusively on paying off debt.

Your blog will require plenty of your attention so it’s best to choose a topic you feel passionate about. Your chosen topic should be one where you could already imagine endless article topics.

Choose Your Domain

The domain, if you’re unfamiliar, is the web-address or URL for a website. A domain is usually Domain names can include .ca, .net., .org but we recommend getting a *.com address if at all possible

While it’s easy to get hung up on choosing a name for your blog, it’s not worth delaying the launch over the perfect name. Recall companies like Uber, Skype and Google. You wouldn’t have known the purpose of their businesses just by their name–and yet, they are massive success stories. When brainstorming a name, work to keep the name relatively short, simple to spell, and something unique. Start with five potential names.

It’s not worth getting too hung up on any one name, as you’ll need to see which of the names you’ve brainstormed are available through your host.

Keep in mind, if you buy your domain at the same place you are going to host your site, you save yourself the trouble of moving it to your new host. However, moving it is possible, so if you already own a domain at one site you are not forced to host it there.

Choose a Web Host

The hosting service is where you site lives. If you are starting out I would recommend taking a look at Siteground. Siteground is an easy-to-use web host, with plans starting from as little as $3.95 per month. It is by far the best value for a new blogger. They also have great customer service and plenty of opportunities to scale as your brand grows.

The host ensures that your website is accessible 24/7, that it can handle multiple visitors, that it can’t be hacked and so on.

While free hosts are available, paid hosts offer premium features which are highly recommended such as enhanced security, email addresses, and back-up services.  A paid host will allow and support high volume traffic.

Check out our review of Siteground here.

Choose Your Blogging Platform

As far as we are concerned there is only one choice here–Wordpress. You will get WordPress through your host. Set up your domain and host first, then add WordPress to your site via the host.

WordPress may appear complicated but it has endless templates and plug-ins, including the best potential for selling online. Also, with an almost cult-like following, the WordPress community has endless discussion forums where nearly any question has an answer. Think about this, 25% of the internet is built using WordPress. There is plenty of help out there if you have questions.

We use WordPress and would recommend it for you as well.

Choose a Template

Templates often offer a stylish color palette, and, in some cases, are geared towards the intention of the website. WordPress has a near unlimited number of paid and free themes; and even, themes intended for bloggers, restaurateurs, creative services, etc. Choosing a more specific theme, like those for bloggers can enhance the user experience saving you time in the form of optimization and formatting. You don’t need to find the perfect template on day one, in fact, experimenting with different free options could be a good strategy. 

The Bottom Line

Too many would-be bloggers fail to start blogs because of paralysis by analysis or perfectionism. Don’t get hung up on the perfect theme, template, font, or color. The most successful bloggers just get started and adjust as they go. Successful blogging requires constant iteration and adjustment, but it doesn’t have to happen before you get started or overnight. The biggest regret of most bloggers is that they didn’t get started sooner. So, carve out some time, be willing to make mistakes, and take action.

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How To Start A Blog

How And Why To Start A Career In The Trades

How and why to start a career in the trades

Upon reading the title of this post, you're probably wondering: Why would I want to work in the trades?

Well, for me, I knew I needed to do something physical. I like to move, and sitting behind a desk all day holds negative appeal for me.

Why would you want to learn a skilled trade? There are many benefits to working in a skilled trade:

  • Hands-on trade work isn’t capable of being shipped overseas.
  • Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC can’t be installed or repaired by robots.
  • Very low student cost overhead.
  • The schooling can often be done in one year.
  • Once you're licensed (where required) starting your own business is incredibly easy.
  • Most trades workers out there today are nearing retirement–a massive shortage of skilled trades workers is looming.
  • People are always looking for someone to do work on their house.

As an addendum to that last point, every time (almost literally every time) I meet someone and they find out that I am an electrician, their eyes light up and they start describing the impending project or issue they have that requires an electrician.

Getting started

I did not start out my life wanting to be an electrician. In fact, I received an Associate’s Degree in graphic design and worked for five years in the sign business before I realized I needed something different.

My wife recognized my need for change before I did. She knew I had developed an interest in learning more about electrical systems from the rudimentary ones I had worked on in the sign business. I suddenly started getting recruitment emails from local “after-market” vocational schools asking if I’d think about checking them out.

The big change

Eventually I caved and went to an open house. When I saw the electrical program they offered and the hands-on nature, I knew this would work for me. I immediately inquired about the details, and soon after signed up for a one-year course.

Every state has different requirements for attaining licensure as an electrician, and I live in one of the most stringent, Massachusetts. At the time (eleven years ago now) I needed 600 classroom hours and 8,000 apprenticeship hours to be eligible to take the Journeyman Electrician exam.

The course I took provided all of the classroom hours, and approximately 600 field hours as well. And the best part? One of my instructors knew a contractor looking to hire an apprentice, and because I was on the higher end of the class in terms of interest level and learning ability, I was recommended to the contractor.

I worked for that contractor my entire apprenticeship, and learned an incredible diversity of skills in the meantime.

This process cost me $25k. Not bad, considering most of my peers were getting out of college with at least twice that in student loans. Granted that was over a decade ago, but the ratio of cost has, if anything, changed for the better for trade schools.

That example was my story, but there are other ways to enter into this lucrative world. In fact, I have a friend whose younger brother went through a plumbing program at a vocational high school, and therefore got all of the benefits I got but for free! He left high school with all of his classroom hours and many of his field hours, had a job as an apprentice waiting for him when he graduated (in fact he even worked part-time while still in school, thereby earning even more field hours) and now has an extremely successful business at the age of 26.

I’ll link to a list of the “after-market” vocational training programs here for those who are beyond high school. I’m guessing that is pretty much everyone reading this.

Yeah but, economic downturns?

Every one knows that construction is the first area to feel the crunch during an economic downturn. Why would you want to get into the first field to feel the chopping block when things go south?

I’ll refer you, again, to me. I started my job as an apprentice in June of 2007. As history tells us, the next couple of years were not the most shining moments of our economy. The company employing me definitely had a bit of a hard time, but we all made it through with our jobs. Sure, we weren’t working on new construction anymore, but people had shifted their focus from building new to refurbishing existing. The phone kept ringing.

Let’s talk about the side hustle

This is where the real bread and butter is in this world. I wrote an article about creating a lucrative business on the side here. So lets talk about the benefits having these trade skills and licenses creates.

Once I got my Journeyman’s Electrician License, I was legally allowed to do electrical work for hire in my state. This meant that no matter my employment status, I could always supplement my salary by taking jobs on the side.

If we look at the Big Three pillars of FI (frugality, income, investments), the one we tend to have the least personal control over is income.

Now that I have my own business, I can determine how many jobs I want to take on and how much I would like to charge per job. I set my hourly rate just a hair below the market average, which in my area is $85 per hour. This means I can charge $75 per hour and people are happy to pay it!

Think about what that means for your FI journey: Adding the ability to make $75 for each hour of your time spent working is a huge jump from what most of us are making in our day jobs. Once we have established a reputation as someone who does quality work we can pick and choose which jobs we would like to take on.

That brings up yet another good point: building a reputation. I know there is a saying that goes something along the lines of, “it takes a lifetime to build it, and one second to destroy it”. I may be paraphrasing here, but in the world of trades, reputation is pretty darn important.

That being said, building a good reputation is not as hard as you may think. In fact, returning phone calls will put you ahead of the game, as for some reason trades people have a tendency to be lousy communicators. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had people comment on how grateful they were that I called them back, even if it was to say that I couldn’t do the job.

What about the day job?

Right, I suppose it would be good to talk a bit about the actual jobs and how those pan out, wouldn’t it?

Like I said earlier, I spent my apprenticeship, and about a year past that, working for a contractor. I did a range of work from small residential service calls to installing 4,000 amp electrical systems for factories to installing fire alarm systems for business parks.

The diversity of work was fantastic. I often had no idea where I would be from one day to the next. This variety kept my days interesting, and gave me access to many areas that are never seen by the public.

Some days I came home a filthy, exhausted mess, and I would have to take off my clothes on the front porch before I was allowed into the house. Other days I would come home clean and shiny.

My work might have me repairing the light fixtures over vats of caustic acid at a powder coating factory, or running ethernet cables in a library.

After a while, the unending variety got to be a little much. Plus, I was beginning to realize the small company for whom I worked offered no growth potential. The wages weren’t great and the benefits were worse, and I knew it was time for me to move on.

Eventually I ended up getting a job as a maintenance electrician for a local university, and now my days consist of extreme regularity and climate-controlled workspace. My wages are pretty good and my benefits are fantastic. Plus, I come home clean at the end of the day.

My point in relating all of this to you is that the possibilities are nearly endless in the trades. Look for a job in an area in which you might be happy. As I said earlier, a huge gap in skilled trades workers is looming. Soon there will be many many companies out there desperate for help. The laws of supply and demand will be on your side.

A perfect example of this in Massachusetts is solar energy. A law recently passed that requires electricians on site at solar installations. Solar companies were suddenly scrambling to hire electricians, and I have been contacted by several. As an electrical license holder, you hold the cards in these cases.

In conclusion

Wow, we’ve gone over quite a bit today! As we wrap up this discussion, I’d like to end it by saying that trades aren't for everyone. Especially in the beginning, you might find yourself in situations that are uncomfortable and possibly dangerous, and you may find yourself wondering why the heck you ever considered this as an option in your life.

That being said, my career has provided me with an incredible life, and it supports my family. I'm able to use my skills to make repairs and additions to my house, and if one of my neighbors has an electrical emergency I hop into action and save the day.

For me, the choice to become an electrician, though made somewhat by happenstance, has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I think as time goes on we'll start to see the trades portrayed in a brighter and brighter light, as society begins to realize what life would be like without them.

The choice is yours, of course. Just know that it’s never too late to start; the trades will always be there waiting for you. Come on over and see what they’re about!

How and why to start a career in the trades

053 | Millennial Money Man | Do you want to be rich?

053 Millennial Money Man

This episode was an interview with Bobby from Millennial Money Man on attacking debt, becoming a full-time blogger, methods to teach finance in schools and how to scale side hustles.

In today’s episode we cover:

  • Bobby’s story starting as a high school music director
  • Him quitting his job to be a full-time blogger
  • How he paid off his student loans
  • His mentor teaching him the basics of managing money
  • The lightbulb moment which brought him to start Millennial Money Man
  • Bobby’s rule on talking about money with friends and family
  • How he hasn’t changed even though he has more money
  • The FI lifestyle
  • Being a valuist
  • Questioning the traditional narrative that everyone has to go to college
  • At which age should kids start learning about personal finance
  • How the world would change if everyone knew more about finance
  • Bobby’s method to get kids interested in finance
  • Bobby’s initial idea to do teaching seminars in schools
  • How he decided to quit his job
  • Getting started with side hustles
  • Advice for new bloggers: using your blog as a portfolio
  • Scaling your blog/side-hustle
  • The path to earning good money with a blog
  • Hot Seat Questions


Links from the show:


Thank you for being a part of the ChooseFI community!  ? If you want to support us, here are some easy ways:

1) Leave an iTunes review:

2) Use our page to sign up for travel credit cards

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3) Most importantly, find your friends, coworkers, and family members who may be open to this message and tell them about the podcast! (Episode 21 is a great starting place) As Jonathan would say, “The FIRE is spreading my friends!”

042 | The Green Swan | Why Start a Business, When You Can Buy One?

042.The Green Swan

In Episode 42 we have a wide ranging discussion with JW from The Green Swan about his FI path, going into business with family, buying an existing business and much more.

In Today’s Podcast we cover:

  • A discussion with JW from The Green Swan about financial independence and busing buying and ownership
  • How JW got involved in the FIRE community
  • A discussion of life insurance and how much someone in the FI community really needs to think about
  • They were already on a path to financial independence even before finding the FI community online
  • How JW approached college with the mindset of graduating early
  • JW’s dad passed many of the tips and tricks of the FI community to him in his teens
  • JW’s relationship with his older brother made a big difference in his FI journey and they long talked about buying a business
  • The concepts discussed in the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad and how it could help you get multiple streams of income
  • JW and his brothers were saving for many years in anticipation of buying a business
  • How they researched the options of buying a business
  • How they could step in and grow the business they intended to purchase
  • What did they do to fix the culture in the business and reassure their employees about the future of the business
  • How did they know they could add value to this or any other company?
  • How they structured their legal entity to optimize most efficiently
  • They are investigating purchasing a similar business to expand their business
  • What does the path look like for each of the four brothers and how have they navigated the sibling dynamic?
  • They entered the business with ‘eyes wide open’ to the potential to damage their family relationships
  • They built an operating agreement with all potential future possibilities so they could navigate future issues. It was important that they did this from the outset
  • The unexpected joys and crazy things that happen when you own a small business with many employees and JW’s examples
  • How are they funding a future potential acquisition?
  • How do these businesses impact JW’s financial independence number?
  • He is calculating his FI number without even considering the income or equity in the businesses
  • Hot Seat Questions
  • Favorite life hack is listening to podcasts and audio books at 2x speed
  • He wishes he would have done ‘house hacking’ like his father did when he was younger

Links from the show:

Books Mentioned in the Show:

030R | The Side Hustle “Unpacked” | Friday Roundup

030R - Unpacking the Side Hustle

In today's podcast we have the biggest announcement in the history of ChooseFI thanks to Alan from PopUp Business School, so be sure to listen and get your responses in ASAP.

In Today’s Podcast we cover:

  • The Friday Roundup after Episode 30 with Alan Donegan of PopUp Business School
  • Brad’s thoughts on not doing what everyone else is doing: July 4th, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc.
  • Jonathan’s wife loved the episode with Alan and she is going to use these skills on a side hustle herself
  • You don’t need a lot of money to start a business – the big takeaway from the episode for Brad
  • Bartering skills and maximizing unused resources were two takeaways for Jonathan’s wife
  • Mutual benefit from establishing relationships even when you can’t see where the value might come from
  • Sell your value first and then create the product or service
  • You won’t know if your product or service is legitimate until you actually make people buy. That’s the only real feedback
  • Feedback from Luis on the ChooseFI private Facebook group on his wife’s side hustle
  • How Brad’s business history set him up for success, as he failed and learned along the way
  • How to find low-cost ways to attempt new businesses
  • The different mental approach when using a side hustle as a means to get to FI
  • Brad’s personal approach to his side hustles and what would happen if they ‘went away’
  • Huge announcement of a competition: Alan will work with one winner one-on-one for 12-24 months to help them build their own side hustle business
  • Submit your voicemail submission on our website and tell us why we should select you
  • How this will impact the entire ChooseFI community
  • We’ll bring in our other in-house experts on this project as well
  • Small world stories of meeting other members of the FI community
  • Email from Evan from Bellingar Estates Winery in Oregon
  • What to think about mentally in good times and bad in the financial markets
  • Itunes reviews of the week and giveaway

Links from the show:

Books Mentioned in the Show:

030 | The Side Hustle | The Unspoken Lever of FI

030.The Side Hustle

The most commonly glossed over topic in the FI community | We Bring Alan Donegan on to talk about how a Side Hustle can be a powerful lever to help you reach FI

In Today’s Podcast we cover:

  • How Alan Donegan of PopUp Business School has turned starting businesses on its head similar to how FI has turned personal finance on its head and caused us to think differently
  • How starting a business is truly one of the ‘pillars of Financial Independence’
  • Brad and Jonathan started up their own business with ChooseFI based on similar principles to what Alan is teaching
  • You need to know what you’re running to in FI and not just what you’re running from with your old job
  • Alan’s FI journey and his goal to get to FI by the age of 40
  • How Alan was nearly scared off from starting a business by the course he took through the British government with Business Link
  • Started up PopUp Business School with his business partner Simon
  • Why Alan believes you don’t need any startup capital, business plans, etc. to start a business
  • Story of a popup café/restaurant in London and how this person didn’t spend a dollar to get started
  • The value of networking and genuine human connection
  • What stops you from starting a business? Money is the biggest issue.  Confidence and scared that it will fail are two others and knowing what to do on a day-to-day basis
  • The value of learning with no risk
  • 5 ways to start a business with no risk
  • #1: What can you get for free?
  • Actionable steps: Search on Google “where can I get X for free”
  • #2: What can you borrow?
  • Story of minivan rental business and how they borrowed the minivan and saved 99% of the original business plan amount
  • The only way to truly test your business and get an honest response is if you ask for a sale and see if they buy
  • #5: Sell Your Value Before You Create It: Sell the idea first, get the money, then produce the content/product
  • Story of Dennis selling lasagna and collecting the money first in order to purchase the ingredients
  • #3: Could you barter instead of using money?
  • In order to feel comfortable asking for things, focus on relationships and giving value. We all have skills that others would value
  • #4: Sell stuff you already have
  • Another option is to sell someone else’s stuff and split the profits!
  • Brad’s idea for an online consignment store
  • How passion and helping others motivates you to work on your business
  • How Alan’s business is helping those who most need the support and how people pay $0 to attend PopUp Business School
  • Hot Seat Questions
  • Favorite life hack: Geographic Arbitrage

Links from the show:

Books Mentioned in the Show:

006 | The Power of Partnerships | ChooseFI Origin Story

Find a Partner and Start a Business

We share the origin story of ChooseFI. The how and why we decided to partner on this

  • The Power of Partnerships
  • How Brad and Jonathan met
  • Our decision to partner up on Choose FI
  • The importance of taking action
  • The value of personal relationships in an online world
  • What to look for in a partner
  • Complementary skills and how it can help beat the learning curve
  • How to find a partner in your niche
  • Find people you connect with and meet in person if possible
  • Split up the duties in the partnership to create an effective partnership
  • Partnerships likely aren’t going to be 50%/50% in time spent, but you can still add value
  • Have an understanding from the outset what the partnership will entail to avoid problems down the road

Links from the show:

Welcome to the Fishbowl: FI Experiments for 2017


welcome-to-the-fishbowlWe started as a financial independence laboratory.  While many aspects of your journey to FI are simple (save a significant percentage of your income, invest most of your money in low-cost index funds, max out your 401k, etc., etc.) there is still a lot of room for experimentation, especially on the making money side of the equation.

We know you might not have the time or resources to run all these experiments yourself, so we’re going to do them ourselves and blog about them every step of the way!

So ‘welcome to the fishbowl' where you can watch the good, the bad and the ugly of all of these experiments!  Some might succeed beyond our wildest dreams and some might fail miserably, but you can be sure that we’ll document every step we take and post it here for all to see.

At the end of each experiment, we’ll all be wiser and have a blueprint for success in each of these areas.

Choose FI Experiments for 2017:

Experiment: Building a Blog

captureThis is the most obvious experiment of all! Jonathan and I are launching in early 2017 and we’ll document everything we’re doing to build, grow and succeed with this new
site from the ground up.

Building a blog is the ultimate ‘side hustle’ and we know it appeals to a lot of people in the FI community.

The metric we’ll use to measure our success is page views per day.  By the end of 2017, we hope to have 5,000 pageviews per day.  This is a huge goal, as neither of my other successful websites ( and are even at that level, but we think it’s doable for Choose FI.

Experiment: Starting a Podcast

podcast-answer-man-siteSimilar to building a blog, this is a ‘side hustle’ with significant upside potential! Neither of us has any experience whatsoever with starting a podcast, but Jonathan just built a studio in his home (wow, did he go all out!!) and bought some training materials from and we’re getting down to work recording our first episodes so we can go live in early 2017.

I simply have no idea what to expect with the results of this podcast, but we hope to quickly get to the point where our episodes are being downloaded thousands of times per month.

It would also be nice to get 250 ‘five-star' ratings on Itunes in 2017.

We plan to post at least 2 new episodes per week and will keep these episodes to under 30 minutes each, as that's a nice bite-sized amount that you can consume in a day's commute or while exercising.

Experiment: Peer-to-Peer Lending

lending-club-logoLending Club and Prosper are interesting alternatives to traditional investing; with P2P lending you are actually loaning money (in increments as small as $25) to people who applied for loans through those websites.  LC and Prosper are marketplaces that connect borrowers and investors looking to loan money for a significant return.

Our plan right now is to invest ~$2,000 on each site and document the process, how we selected the loans to invest in and to report back on our performance.

Experiment: 3 Hour Car Flip

car-flip-pictureThis is one of the experiments I’m most excited about!  Jonathan follows the 3 Hour Car Flip site which they describe as “the simple way to buy and sell cards for profit” and he is going to document his very first ‘3 Hour Car Flip.’

He is going to buy a beat-up used car, repair it and ‘flip’ it for a profit in a matter of days.

Jonathan has no experience with this, so if he succeeds it should be 100% replicable by you!

Experiment: Real Estate Investing

roofstock-entryThis particular experiment is still in the planning stages, but Jonathan and I are each interested in real estate investing and we want to thoroughly research the field and find out what our options are.

I’ve recently been following Paula Pant at Afford Anything, Chad Carson at and came across this gem of a podcast from Listen Money Matters on, so my mind is spinning with ‘single family rental’ options.

Our experiment might be taking the plunge and buying a single family home that we’ll rent out, or it might be as simple as investing in a fund through Fundrise or Roofstock.

Stay tuned!!

Experiment: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

fba-amazon-logoFBA is also known as ‘retail arbitrage’ where you buy products on clearance locally (or online as ‘online arbitrage’) at a huge discount and then sell them on for retail price and make the difference (less fees) in profit.

A friend of mine does this locally here in Richmond, VA and it is extremely interesting to me! My wife Laura intends to research this and start her own FBA business in 2017 (our youngest is going to kindergarten in the fall, so Laura is going to have a lot of time on her hands!).

The goal is to make $1,000+ in net profit every month, which we think is quite attainable with the right amount of research and work ethic.

What Experiments Should We Add?

The above is our tentative list of experiments for Choose FI in 2017.  If there are any experiments you want to see us run in 2017 (or you’re running yourself and want to document on our site!), be sure to comment below: