Outside the Box: How to start a blog in retirement

Have you heard of a side hustle? This is a term that is thrown around to describe something that you do on the side to make some extra money. For the most part, you see a lot of young people looking to build extra income streams on the side. Maybe they have a few hours between college classes, or spare time on the weekends. The idea here is to invest your time into something productive that can potentially earn you some money down the road.

But here’s the thing. While side hustles are mostly popular among younger people, there is no age requirement. In fact, more retired individuals are seeking one out. Maybe it is for the purpose of keeping yourself busy. Or a little extra fun money. I have experience with making some extra side money on both YouTube and with blogging. Based on the skills involved with both, I would say that starting a blog is a better pick. It doesn’t require any fancy video equipment. You don’t need to know how to use complicated editing software.

Here are a few tips for getting started with a blog in your later years.

1. Consider your passion(s)

The very first thing to consider is what you are naturally interested in. We all have these passion areas, things that we “geek out” over. A few of mine are the stock market, bourbon and Jeep Wranglers. I ended up choosing to create content in the niche of investing, as one of my goals was to make money. You want to imagine yourself writing articles about a given topic for the next few years.

Assuming you write one article a week, over the course of one year, that is 52 articles.

Most of us have many different passions, and that is fine. However, you want to avoid the temptation to create a “catch all” blog for all of your thoughts and ideas. You want to take time and really decide what your topic will be. Once you decide, that is all you will be writing about. This is how you build authority with Google
the almighty search engine.

Read: Over 50 and looking for a job? This is the smart way to pitch yourself

2. Choose a blogging platform

Even if you haven’t decided on your specialization yet, you can start researching the different platforms available for blogging. We have a self-hosted Wordpess website. To explain this simply, we pay for website hosting ourselves rather than using a website building service like Wix.

Creating a self hosted WordPress is a little more complicated, but if you are looking to build a blog as a serious business it is highly recommended. This will give you much greater flexibility and control over your blog.

However, if you are just doing this for fun, a website building service is just fine. Do some research on the top options like wordpress.com, Wix and Squarespace. These website building services make it very easy to build your blog with intuitive drag and drop features.

Read: Why COVID-19’s impact on the job market is far worse for older workers

3. Decide on a name

Once you have decided on your area of focus, you will want to choose a name for your new blog. You want to make sure the name is relevant to what you talk about on your blog. For example, ours is Investing Simple and the content is related to money, investing and personal finance. You won’t find fly fishing content on our site.

Ideally, you will want to find a domain where the “.com” address is available. You should also do a search beforehand to make sure nobody else is using this name. You don’t want to end up with a trademark lawsuit.

Once you find a name that nobody is using, you can purchase your domain on a few sites. If you use a website building service, you can buy your domain right through them. Or, check out domain services like GoDaddy or Google Domains. It should cost you around $10 to $14 a year for your domain.

Read: How to start on your financial independence journey

4. Design your blog

The next step is to come up with a design for your blog. I would recommend taking a peek at 10 or so different blogs in order to get ideas. Grab a pen and paper and jot down what elements, colors and themes you like. If you are using a website building service, there are countless prebuilt themes to choose from. You can simply choose a theme and start adding your own content in. In the beginning, simplicity is the name of the game. You can always add more features down the road as your blog grows.

If you want to go with a more custom approach, that involves the self hosted route. It is quite a bit more complicated, but this allows you to have a much greater level of customization.

You may want to consider outsourcing this part of the blog process if you are not tech savvy. Personally, I do not have a great eye for design, so I outsourced this to our site builder. You can find freelance WordPress designers and techs on sites like UpWork. It might be worthwhile to spend the money on a custom design, especially if this is more of a business than a hobby. A full website design could cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 or more.

Read: AT&T boss retires with $274,000 a month for life

5. Create a content plan

Now that you have your blog up and running, it is time to create a plan for the articles you will be writing.

I would recommend putting yourself back into the shoes of a complete beginner. Let’s say your blog is about baking. Take yourself back to the first time you ever used a mixer or a rolling pin. Then, write down any questions that a beginner might have. For example, what is the difference between bleached versus unbleached flour? More often than not, as experts at a given topic we tend to be out of touch with the early steps of the process.

You could also consider reaching out to others in Facebook groups or on forums for content ideas. Another strategy you should use is looking at Google search recommendations. When you type “baking” into Google, what search results come up as recommendations? These are the most popular search results and topics you should consider writing articles on.

It really is that simple to get a blog up and running.

It doesn’t require any special skills or equipment, and it is the perfect side gig for someone in retirement. You have years of accumulated knowledge to share with others. Down the road, you can make money from blogs through ads, affiliate marketing (or “referrals”), sponsored posts and more. For the time being, your focus should be on creating valuable content around a topic you are passionate about. The rest will fall into place.

Ryan Scribner is the co-owner of the personal finance blog Investing Simple. He started his entrepreneurial journey back in 2016 when he launched his YouTube channel.

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