Over the past couple of years, I have received a lot of emails from people asking me how they can start a homesteading blog, so instead of writing an answer to everybody, I have decided to write in-depth about this topic. A lot of people tend to either oversimplify or overcomplicate things when it comes to blogging, if you watch a couple of tutorials you will find out that things can get extremely complicated, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be so.
The first thing that most people will tell you is to make a free blog on something like blogger or other platforms. Generally speaking, this is a bad idea, blogger is fairly limited and you do not actually own it. This is the same thing with social media if you make a Facebook page then everything you post on FB is owned by them. This is basically the same for every social media, while some can make it big but sooner or later you will have to start paying the social media platform to reach your own followers.
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A lot of people will also suggest getting a domain as cheaply as possible, there are even some free domains which you can register. As a general rule when it comes to getting a domain and hosting you should never use a free one. Free domains have extensions like .tk, .ws and so on, ask yourself when was it the last time you have seen a website with such a domain extension be on the first page of google.
There are a lot of tutorials online on how you can make a homesteading blog, although most of them just want to push a product, this is affiliate marketing and if it is done right it can be a big moneymaker. If you are new to blogging and you want to document your homesteading experience then my personal recommendation is to take it with baby steps and do not worry about making money. If you are wondering how do people who live off the grid make money then check out my recent article How do off gridders make money? ( Top 34 Ways ).
Choosing a domain that is relevant to homesteading
Choosing a domain is extremely important, this is basically your brand. My personal recommendation is to come up with something unique, the word homesteading doesn’t even have to be in the domain as Google is smart and they will figure out what is your website about based on the content. Some people will tell you to buy an expired domain to get the “link” juice, although I wouldn’t recommend doing this.
Buying the domain from a reputable registrar
There are a lot of places to buy a domain, usually, they cost around $12 per year. Stay away from GoDaddy, as soon as you check the availability of a couple of domains you will notice that all of a sudden they do not cost $12 but hundreds, this is an extremely shady practice. Don’t go for free or $1 domains, as when you will have to pay for the domain not to expire the next year they will charge you a lot of money.
Buy a domain which has whois guard protection which is for free at reputable sites, on the other hand, some sites will charge you pennies for a domain and overcharge you with the whois guard. The domain extension has to be a .com, nothing else really matters. I highly recommend Namecheap, domains are usually $12 and the whois guard is for free. Even if you do not have constant internet you can still operate a blog as it is mostly hands-off, if you want to know what are your options when it comes to the internet while living off the grid then check out my recent article How to have off grid Internet? ( Top 15 Ways ).
Installing the SSL certificate on the blog
You will need an SSL certificate if you do not have one google will show right next to your domain name “Not Secure”. SSL certificates can be either free or paid for, you can buy them from your hosting company or from the name registrar. Setting up an SSL certification tends to be complicated, so you should look for a hosting company that also installs it for you.
Choosing a hosting company to host the blog
A lot of homesteaders are led to believe that they need some fancy hosting provider, and a lot of people are confused about using shared or dedicated hosting. Shared hosting means that there are other sites on the server, dedicated on the other hand means that only your site is on the server. There is no need to buy a dedicated server, blogs do not need that much power, stick with a shared hosting service. If you are wondering how much does it cost to live off the grid then check out my recent article How much does it cost to live off the grid? ( $38,095 ).
Installing WordPress on the hosting
After you have your domain, your SSL certificate, and your hosting you have to install WordPress on your site. This is extremely easy to do, just log into your hosting account, go to the Cpanel, scroll down and you will see a section with Softwares and scripts. Click on the WordPress icon and install it on your domain, from there on it is extremely easy to do, just follow the steps.
Editing the WordPress settings the right way
After you have installed WordPress on your site, you will get an admin login page which should look like yoursite.com/wp-admin. This will be the backend of your site from where you will do most of the work. The next few steps are extremely important so try to follow them correctly, otherwise, you will have some problems.
- On the left side, you will see a tab called settings, click on it, and then click general. Now you will need to change the site title and the tagline, by default WordPress comes with a generic tagline, and site name so you will have to change that.
- Now go to the reading settings, and click on “your latest posts” and click save. This way the front page of your site will always show your latest posts.
- Below the reading settings there are the permalink settings, click on it and select the “post name” and click save changes. By default, WordPress uses the “plain” setting which will assign a number to your post. It is extremely important that you do this permalink change right at the beginning if you already have a couple of posts on your homesteading blog than you will mess the entire site up.
Installing plugins on the blog
Plugins are small apps or scripts which help with the functionality of your blog. The bad news is that plugins tend to slow down your site, which is a bad user experience. The general rule of thumb is to have as few plugins as possible. There are some plugins that are vital but some of them bloat your site way too much. Most plugins are free, but there are some paid ones, the free ones tend to have a premium paid option. In the below list there are the plugins that I use and all of them are free.
- Classic Editor: WordPress has made an update to the editor some time ago and now it is called the Gutenberg editor. The editor is where you will be spending most of your time writing content, the problem is that the Gutenberg editor tends to overly complicate simple things like changing the size or the color of a font. The classic editor plugin uses the old editor, which is much easier to use in my opinion.
- Really Simple SSL: This plugin is vital as sometimes even if the SSL certification has been installed correctly it could still malfunction on your site for some reason or another. After you install this plugin it will force the SSL to function, and it does an excellent job at it.
- Wordfence Security: Generally speaking WordPress tends to be fairly secure, but the security vulnerabilities come from the plugins which you have installed. This plugin scans your files and acts as an antivirus on your site, on top of it will also monitor suspicious activity on your site like people trying to log into your admin panel. You might wonder why would anybody want to log into your site, but there are several bot networks and shady sites which will come and test your site for vulnerabilities so this plugin is a must.
- Disable comments: This plugin disables all the comments and the comment form on all of your posts and pages. Now you might think that having comments on your site is a good idea, which it is but the problem is that 99.99% of comments will be spam, and filtering out the few genuine comments will be extremely time-consuming.
- WP Super Cache: This plugin creates a cache of your site, this way the visitor doesn’t have to load everything from your site and it can use the cache. Caching plugins are also an excellent way of increasing your site speed.
- Smush: This plugin is an image optimization plugin, most photos and images come with a lot of useless data, like the date, location, and so on. This plugin will delete all the bloat from the images and your site will load faster. This plugin also has a function called lazy load, this is excellent if you post a lot of pictures, the lazy load will only load images which are on the user’s screen and not all the images on the post which is also great for speeding up your site.
- Sitemap: Sitemaps are useful for google so pick a plugin that will generate your sitemap.
- Yoast: A lot of people will praise Yoast SEO plugin as being the best SEO plugin, the truth is that if you are new to blogging then it will only confuse you and its functionality is rather limited. Yoast also calculates your keyword density in the article, this is an extremely old way of thinking, and if you focus on it, then you will most likely not even rank. On the other hand, the creators of the plugins made two updates without testing them out which ended up deindexing a lot of websites, basically, nobody could find it on google.
Selecting a theme suitable for the homesteading blog
Far too many people get stuck on what theme they should use, there is not one specific theme which is meant for homesteading so there is no point in searching for that. Another big misconception is that you need a premium or paid theme, this is not true, in fact, free themes are just as good. If you love how some homesteading blog looks like then just search on google “what wp theme is this website using” and there you go.
There are a lot of themes which come with extra functionality like site builder and so on, you don’t need all that fluff as it will just slow your site down. Pick a theme that looks clean and is responsive, so it works on mobile devices and has a lot of downloads.
Writing content about homesteading and publishing it
The posts are basically the articles which will be shown on your site. If your website is all about homesteading then it should only be about that and nothing else. Do not confuse your homesteading blog with social media, your blog should be about giving people information. When it comes to what to write about in homesteading then you have plenty of options, just make sure to not write opinion articles.
Opinion articles are the ones like “why I hate goat’s milk”, nobody is searching for that and the odds are that nobody will ever see that. A lot of homesteading blogs make the big mistake of writing opinionated articles and hoping to make a community around their blogs, this never worked and never will work. Google’s main goal is to give the best information to the user for the question it has typed in the google search engine.
Think of what people are looking for, like “how to make cheese from goat’s milk” and so on, hopefully, you got the idea. The articles on no matter what subject you are writing should be in-depth, the general rule is that the longer the article is the more traffic it will get, but avoid at all costs bloating your articles. Do not copy and paste somebody else’s articles, as these will never rank and you will only waste your time.
A lot of gurus will say that you need to outsource content to have a successful blog, this is far from the truth. If your blog is about homesteading then your visitors will want to know and learn from your experiences.
Doing SEO for the homesteading blog
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which basically means that you optimize your website to rank for some topics. This is how your website will actually get traffic, although SEO tends to be extremely complicated so I won’t delve into it. There are two types of SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. The on-page SEO is how you optimize your articles and the off-page SEO is everything else that you do outside of your website, like backlinking and so on.
As you can see there are a lot of steps for starting a homesteading blog, the initial setup will take some time if you are new to it, although you can always hire somebody to do it for you. My personal recommendation is to focus on the content of your site and not how it actually looks, a badly looking blog with good articles can still rank but a good looking blog with bad articles will never rank.