Blogging on the Cheap

This site was assembled fairly quickly and it is built upon the most cutting edge blogging platform out there. WordPress is so powerful; it facilitates publishing yourself on a global scale. Words and thoughts belonging to you stand independently. They stand right alongside juggernauts like CNN, Reuters, and Yahoo, and are just as accessible. Your ideas on view to all the world. It’s an inspiring sensation. Here’s how I did it and how you can too:

  1. Register a domain name with Namecheap* – $10 per year
  2. Open an account with DigitalOcean – $5 per month
  3. Install and configure WordPress – free!

This comes out to around $70 per year. Totally doable! It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a pre-packaged web hosting plan, you receive root access to your own shell, and you get to walk away with valuable skills.

1) Domain Name

Get creative and brainstorm for a few minutes. A good domain name can easily be unavailable; it is, after all, a unique identifier and may already be in use by someone else. Another suggestion is to use a favorite word or phrase, something that reflects the topics that you’ll write about most often. You’ve seen plenty of domain names, so consider a few of the more recognizable ones. Is there a catchy word or phrase to describe your brand?

Although it is possible to switch domain names later on, try to avoid this. Step 2 will build upon this name and must be revisited if it changes. One upside is that since you’ll be learning so much about server configuration it will seem like just another small task to reconfigure your site. I, in fact, switched my domain name, too, and learned a lot in the process. Doing text match searches in PHPmyAdmin on the tables (to ensure no lurking remnants of the old name remains) is an excellent demonstration in the structure of WordPress data storage. Finding multiple copies of the same post in the database is actually what led me to disable post revisions.

2) “Web Hosting”

#2 is easy. Setting up DigitalOcean is a straightforward process. Visit the above link, open an account, and input your payment information. With the $5 option you receive your own IP address. No one else has that same IP address and your domain name must be configured to ‘point’ to it so that visitors can access your blog.

3) Choose and Configure a Framework

Of course we are using WordPress for this. Step #3 is ultimately the most technical. See that word ‘configure’? It means that your new blog will take a lot of work and never be truly complete. But don’t be scared, this is the fun part! Think of all the learning along the way. Such an open-ended project can morph into anything! Perhaps even something no one has ever thought of before.

Even though I opted to build my website on Debian (a Linux distribution that I am familiar with) this excellent guide from DigitalOcean describes how to install WordPress on Ubuntu. Most Ubuntu commands can easily translate to a Debian environment because Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian! DigitalOcean’s guide is the perfect resource to overview the process and understand the particulars. By the way, the Ubuntu distro is another wildly popular open source project—just like WordPress and Debian!


Everyone’s approach to tackling a big new project is a little different. Sure, there are frameworks we can follow, however I realize that my method may not be the same as your method. Anyway just try taking the three steps I outlined above. After that you can run wild in the fields of bountiful code and discover other wondrous projects like Laravel and the countless communities of developers and doers that build these amazing products. Believe me, you’ll want to do all this.

Whichever way you end up going, starting with the steps above is a path in the right direction. Learning something new always brings an opportunity for optimization, and that kind of thing takes awhile. It is important, therefore, that recurring costs remain low. If you have cyclical interests like me, you will be able to relate:  Weeks will pass and I’ll not even think about Real Life Points. This is natural and a great reason to keep costs down.

But who knows, this new interest in writing for the entire Internet might flame into a full-on blogging obsession. You and I, we’re playing with FIRE! **


* Thar be referral links to the services mentioned in here post. Arr!

** “Financial Independence, Retire Early” – an ever-popular movement within the FI community

As an aside, this post was first drafted on April 24th, 2014. Wow! The described procedure of setting up a blog remains the same. I suppose this stands to affirm the process is quite sound. Happy blogging!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *