If you’re reading this page, then chances are you are on a homesteading / off-grid journey of your own and may be interested in sharing your journey! After all, why shouldn’t you? It’s fun and it can help you to connect with other people that are doing the same thing.
As you know, it can be great to connect with fellow homesteaders, aspiring homesteaders, and like-minded people whether they are near or far. Blogging is one great way to do that. Not to mention, it’s great to keep record of your journey! When it comes down to it, we blog for ourselves. We love looking back at old blog posts to see where we’ve come from because we frequently forget.
I’ve put together a list of resources to help you start your own homesteading / off-grid living / journey blog. I’ve provided resources for both free and paid blogging solutions. There are pros and cons to both which I will outline below.
Option 1 – Start a Free Blog
If you are new to blogging and aren’t sure how committed to it you will be, then starting a free blog can be a great no-commitment way to start! This is where most people start although quickly it can become extremely limiting and depending on who you are, you may want to pay for a premium blog from day one.
Free blogs are great for those that:
- Just want to dip their feet into blogging
- Have no plans to monetize their blogs down the road
- Really have no idea how to blog and would like to learn the ropes before committing to anything financially
- Don’t know if they will enjoy the upkeep with their blog
- Don’t want to take their blog seriously
Getting your blog live is pretty easy (It’s customizing it that’s hard work, ha! We can talk about that later.)
There are many free blogging platforms out there. All of them will allow you to pick your own domain name, but they will attach their domain to the end of it (ex: purelivingforlife.blogspot.com, purelivingforlife.wordpress.com, etc.). This isn’t the end of the world, it’s a great way to start and to document your journey!
There are many free blogging platforms but the ones I recommend are:
- Blogger – This is a blogging platform through Google, so you will need a Google account. You can find details on how to set up a Blogger here >>
- WordPress – This is my go-to blogging platform. The free version is fairly limited in what you can do but there are many great themes available to start out. I would say that WordPress gives you a lot more options for functionality but the learning curve may be a bit steeper. Learn how to set up your free WordPress blog here >>
Setting up an account with these platforms is extremely straightforward. There are lots of resources out there for both of these, although customization will be minimal. That is okay for starting out… it will be easy enough for you to write a post, upload some photos, and then share your post with the world via email or social media.
Option 2 – Start a Premium Homesteading Blog
Premium blogs are great for those that:
- Would like the option to monetize the blog (you know… get paid when people simply visit your blog)
- Would like a lot more flexibility with the looks and functionality of their blog
- Are experienced with the web and feel confident that you can learn the ropes
- Want your own domain name and control of your your domain name (ex: doesn’t have a .blogspot.com on the end of it)
- Plan to take your blog seriously
- Want a lot of options in how to make your blog work for you (ex: offering paid or free courses, offering ebooks, etc.)
1. Register your domain name.
One of the most exciting parts of a blog is picking out the domain name! Pick something memorable that your audience will remember. I try to go for the shortest domain names possible that still have meaning to me. Do a quick search for the domain name you are interested in to see if it is available. If so, great! Register that baby! A year of membership will run you around $12. I’ve used dozens of registrars but the two I would personally recommend to you because they are easy are:
|GoDaddy: We have 30+ domain names with GoDaddy and I’ve never had a single issue with anything. They have also been great when I need support whether it is over email or on the phone.|
|Namecheap: We have 10+ domain names with Namecheap and have never had an issue. If you want just one recommendation I’d say go with GoDaddy simply because we’ve had so many domain names through them.|
2. Set up your hosting.
A domain name is just that… a name. You will need somewhere to host your website. We’ve dealt with dozens of hosting companies for various purpose and the three I would recommend for a single blog include:
|HostNine: This is off the beaten path hosting but it has been great to us. If we have problems with any of our sites then they are resolved almost immediately via live chat. Cost: $4/month|
|GoDaddy: This blog was hosted with GoDaddy back in the day and I never had any problems. Support is great. My site was always live from what I can remember. If you have your domain name with them as well, then this is nice because it’s less to keep track of. Cost: $5/month|
|BlueHost: Lots of people host with these guys. We haven’t personally used them but I’d give them a shot if you don’t like the above options for one reason or another. Cost: $4/month|
3. Install a WordPress theme.
WordPress themes range from free to $99. In my experience, many free themes are a pain in the butt. If the theme is free, there is rarely any motive to provide technical support or update the theme as WordPress comes out with core updates which means that your site could frequently break and you won’t be able to fix it! Also, many free themes aren’t compatible with popular plugins. You will waste hours, days or weeks of your life trying to mess with free themes – I don’t recommend them.
While you can browse out the free themes and try a few out (not bad if you simply want to play), here are the paid themes I recommend.
|StudioPress: This is my go-to company for themes. They framework is awesome, most WordPress plugins seem to work with it, they have clean designs, and they have many plugins that work specifically with their themes. The theme I’m using is Executive and it’s my favorite theme so far! It’s installed on multiple websites that we own. I opt for these themes over themes that look more “flashy” because they simply work, and we make up for it with great content and great photography.|
|ElegantThemes: We were on an ElegantThemes kick for a while. They are a bit more complex-looking than StudioPress but we haven’t had any issues.|
There are thousands of paid WordPress themes out there, but these are the only two companies I can really recommend. All other themes I’ve dealt with have been nothing but headaches. These work for me every time, especially all themes by StudioPress!
4. Customize your theme.
Here is where the real fun begins (unless you’re already having a ton of fun). It’s time to customize your theme! Many premium themes come with different options for things like color, font, header and background. These default customization options for most people should be fine.
If you want help customizing your theme, you may be interested in hiring a freelance designer from UpWork. UpWork is a platform for finding freelance designers. While native English-speaking designers can charge $10/hr plus, there are many international designers that work for as low as $2/hr. You may be able to get help with blog customization or graphics for $20 or so.
You may also be interested in getting a logo for your blog. For that, I would recommend checking our Fiverr. There are people that offer logo design for just $5. $5 doesn’t entail multiple revisions, but it is a place to start and be done with it if you’re not a graphic designer.
5. Install plugins.
There are many plugins you can add to your blog. The social share buttons on my blog posts are from a plugin. The social follow buttons in my sidebar are a plugin. The newsletter opt-in is a plugin. Many of the cool features are in fact, plugins. Installing them is simple. Below is a list of my go-to plugins that really help me with all blogs, especially this one!
- Contact Form 7 – This is great so that your visitors have a way to send you a message. It’s easy to install, works on most all themes, and looks pretty sexy as well. Oh, plus it’s free.
- Fancier Author Box – This is what I have at the end of my posts. It can tell your readers who you are, link to other posts you’ve written (great for multi-author sites) and also can link to your social profiles. It’s fantastic! If you don’t do this, is a huge missed opportunity to let our followers know about your social media profiles.
- Simple Social Icons – This is what you see in my sidebar. You can link to any of your social profiles which is a great way to increase your following on various platforms. This is the easiest way to link to social profiles on your website and in my opinion, it looks the best compared to other options! This doesn’t work with many WordPress themes, however, but it does work with themes by StudioPress!
- Subscribe to Comments Reloaded – When you readers comment on your blog, it’s great to give them an option to subscribe to the thread to receive any followup comments. Otherwise, they’ll have no idea that their comment has a response. This is a must-have for your blog to keep engagement up.
- SumoMe – This is hands-down the BEST plugin to grow your email list. You can include it on the top of your blog, as a corner pop-up, or even as a full screen popup. This plugin also allows you to have social share icons under each blog post. Trust me… you want this on your blog! Do it now, and ask questions later! If you don’t understand the need for an email list, then do it anyway and in a year or two you will thank us big time.
- Yoast SEO – If you want to get organic traffic to your blog (that is, through search engines) this is a great plugin. This plugin helps you to optimize for various keywords that you wish to rank for.
- Quick Adsense – If you want to monetize your blog right away, this plugin works flawlessly with the StudioPress theme in combination with the most-popular ad platform… Google Adsense. This is what we use on our own blog and it allows us to put up to three ads on a page… we choose to do this 3x within our content. We set it to auto-injects ads at the beginning, middle and end of a post. When these ads are simply displayed we receive a small amount of money. When the ads are clicked, we receive even more money (like a dollar per click).
- Contextual Related Posts – At the bottom of our blog posts you’ll notice that there is a “posts you may like” section. This plugin does that, and it keeps folks on your blog longer by sharing your other awesome content!
- Bottom of Every Post – We like the option to share a message at the bottom of every blog post (like to follow our blog, visit the support page, etc.) and this plugin allows you to do that.
Create a page for your blog on all appropriate social media channels.
You know the saying “If you build it, they will come?” Well, that’s not true for blogging. One way to get the word out about your blog is by creating a page for your blog on social media platforms that you use! Every time you create a new post or video, you can publish a notification on your social media pages. The social media platforms we engage on and share our content through are:
- Facebook – We actually post on here just about daily even when we don’t have a blog post to share. These are just quick updates and photos that take a few minutes to publish. It’s a way of staying in touch with our followers on a daily basis.
- Instagram – We share a lot of photos here and use proper hashtags so that new people can find our photos and blog.
- YouTube – This is unlike the first two, but we host all of our videos here and that brings in yet an entirely new segment of traffic to our blog that we wouldn’t get if we hosted our videos on a non-social platform.
- Pinterest – This is the #1 traffic source for our blog… over 35,000 visitors a month from Pinterest alone! That’s enough to make a nice little side income stream of ad revenue. It’s important to create a pin for almost every blog post and share it on Pinterest.
Simple Ways to Make Money While Blogging About Homesteading
Let me preface this to be clear… building a blog is not a “get rich quick” scheme. Very few bloggers are rolling in the dough on their blogs, but many have successfully built even a small stream of passive income. It is possible if you’re committed to learning and learning by trial and error. That said, here are the quick wins for having the option to make money today.
- Sign up as an Amazon Affiliate – Chances are, you use products every single day that you love and recommend. Naturally, they will find their way into your blog posts. If those products or ingredients are on Amazon (and most everything is!), you can link to that product and when someone clicks on the link and checks out, you can get a 4-6% commission on not only the item, but everything in their shopping cart. If you look through our blog posts, we link to a fair number of products we use (only things we genuinely use though or recommend anyways). This doesn’t make us rich but does help to offset the costs of running our blog.
- Sign up for Google Adsense – This is the easiest way to turn your blog into an income stream. Nobody likes ads (myself and yourself included likely), but we all love free content so ads is one way for bloggers to be compensated. Some ads you get paid simply for an impression, and others when they are clicked. It takes minutes to sign up and with the Quick Adsense plugin, you can have your blog monetized in no time at all.
- Join the YouTube Partner Program – This is how we make money off our YouTube videos. Again, ads are annoying, but if we weren’t compensated in any way whatsoever, we couldn’t afford to make videos. We try to produce high-quality videos that we think people will like and share which has been one key to our success on this platform.
The three things above will get you started, but if you want to step up your game ahead of schedule, check out our friend’s ebook Make Money Blogging at Any Level. Our friend, Victoria, is a stay-at-home mom with a small blog and she pulls in $2,000/month for her family. Not bad at all and she’s doing something she loves!
Our Professional Blogging Equipment
One of the reasons our blog is a success is because we’ve invested in professional tools! As you know, people love quality photography and even quality video. This is one thing we wanted to have on day one. Good photography really sets apart a good blog from a mediocre blog. Here are the tools we use to make our blog really shine.
- Nikon D5200 Camera: Before we started blogging about our adventure, we didn’t have any decent photography equipment. iPhones can only do so much! We knew that to do HD video that we needed a good camera. We invested in a Nikon D5200 becuase it’s great for new photographers. We spent around $500 for a refurbished model and it does everything that we need it to do. With a large SD card and a few extra batteries, we can shoot forever! We can shoot both high-quality still photography and video footage. Hopefully one day we can buy the really nice video equipment, but this is doing great for now and is extremely low cost for a professional tool. A Canon 6i would be a great choice as well.
- Adobe Creative Suite: This is not something we recommend for everyone, but we edit 90% of our footage and photos with Photoshop, and create our videos with Adobe Premiere Pro. If you don’t want to spend any money, you can try making movies with iMovie for you Mac users, and try a free photo editing software such as Picasa. You can’t do much with these, but it’s better than nothing and can really make your footage pop!
- 15″ Macbook Pro Laptops: We didn’t buy these strictly for our homestead blogging but for all of the digital work that we do. These are a hefty investment of around $2k but to us, they’re worth every penny. On our old Dell desktop computers, rending a video would take around 4 hours. On these, most take under 5 minutes. This is priceless to us. They are also capable of running Adobe Premiere Pro and Photoshop without crashing. We’re able to edit video, photo, and upload to the blog quick and painlessly. They also seamlessly dock into our Thunderbolt displays which is great, although our Thunderbolts are in storage at the moment due to limited space in the RV!
- AmasonBasics Camera Backpack: Protecting our camera is important to us, especially as we’re working in rugged climates! Getting dust all over the camera is a normal day! We store the Nikon in a backpack so that it doesn’t get bumped around in the trailer, and also so that we can easily haul it to whatever the job site is for the day. When in the backpack, we can *gently* toss it into the bushes when we’re done filming or until we’re ready to use it. It also acts as a place to store our microphone, extra batteries and tripod.
- WD 1TB My Passport Ultra Portable External Hard Drive: As you can imagine, we were quickly filling up the storage on our Macbooks. We also wanted to easily share footage. We decided that a high storage capacity external hard drive was the way to go. Anywhere we go to use wifi, we simply plugin the external hard drive and have access to all of our footage and videos. With this we are easily able to back up our memory cards so that when they go back in the camera they are empty and ready for a full day of filming.
- PNY Elite Performance 64GB High Speed SD Card: This is a high-capacity SD card, compatible with our Nikon D5200, that allows us to capture lots of video throughout the day. We’ve never maxed it out in a day, but as a good rule of thumb, we empty the SD card after a day of filming. We love to start every day with an empty SD card and fully charged batteries.
- AudioBlocks: Music plays a large role in our video production. While information alone is great, but sometimes songs can help to convey an emotion or is a great way to show strictly footage or even a slideshow. While you can use many copyrighted songs on YouTube, you cannot monetize them. This is important. We just found AudioBlocks and they have unlimited downloads that are royalty-free and therefor, you should be able to monetize them on YouTube without a problem. DISCOUNT CODE: If you buy through this link, you can get 90% off your subscription and pay just $99/yr for unlimited downloads! This is what we do!
Join the Advanced Blogging Techniques Wait List!
If we get enough people that are interested in hearing our advanced blogging techniques such as traffic generation and monetization, we’d love to provide more in-depth content, or a full-blown e-learning course! Just submit your name and email to be put on the wait list and to be notified when we have this available.
If you have questions on blogging or are looking for specific tips and tricks, let me know! If there is enough interest we’d be happy to elaborate on the ins and outs of running a blog, how to promote your blog or monetization ideas (because who doesn’t want to make extra money from home as a homesteader?) we’d be interested in doing a series of blog posts or even a webinar. Let us know in the comments below what you’d like to learn more about and we’ll see what we can do.