So you want to blog for big bucks with nothing down? Why not? We’ve got karma to burn, so let’s go!
First, you need a computer. Don’t own one? No problem. Check your local libraries and bistros. Quiet, relaxing, and deserted during off hours. Wear comfy, baggy clothing. Bring tools for a productive outing, including plenty of big boxes.
Wait until you get home to file off the serial numbers.
Next, you’ll need an internet connection. Concerned about a potential recurring cost? No worries, your neighbor has great WiFi. Just wait for his kid to mow the lawn, and then slip the lad $10. He’ll talk.
OK, you’re in for a Hamilton. Yeah, so much for the no-cost blog, but it takes money to make money. You’ll need some skin in the game. It makes for a better made-for-TV biopic about you.
Back to your blog. There are freebie options. Once such place is wordpress.com. There, you can have your very own URL, sort of. Sure, it’s owned by someone else, and of course it can be taken away at any moment. But isn’t that exciting! Think of days, months, or even years of your work just vanishing because you used a word or image that has suddenly become offensive.
More story material, and that won’t happen to you. Right?
Anyway, if you are slightly less cheap, or thrifty—I don’t want to offend anyone here—you can login to DreamOn, BlueBanana, or BigDaddy, or similar hosts to get going. This cost about $10 monthly on a “shared server.” Yeah, another expense, but you can also host your friends’ websites, overcharging them, or try to squeeze money out of strangers with promises of untold wealth.
To be clear, a shared server is when your website lives in a box somewhere in the slums of Pittsburg. It uses a single CPU to handle the entire population of China. So if everyone hits the “home” button at once, all the lights on the Eastern seaboard flicker. Then you’ll see your pointer icon become an infinitely spinning wheel while you wait for your coffee to brew or the return of your personal savior, whichever comes last.
Now a better approach—brace yourself, this will cost more money—is to pay for an upgrade. This means you’ll spend something like $40 a month. A “virtual server” allows you to have a website that is actually usable by human beings who expect pages to load before they are placed in a nursing home. Better still, this level of service will typically include scanning for malware and bad-stuff on your website, not counting your content, of course. And it has regular backups and templates and all sorts of cool stuff.
So now you have a website. Congratulations. You’ve just added yet one more thing to your life that can quit working for no apparent reason. And the thrills never stop if you’ve somehow built a business around this portal to purgatory. There are millions of Russian hackers working nonstop to take you down, steal your identity, ransom your site, and impregnate your dog. This should scare you senseless. After all, vet bills these days are outrageous and hard to pay once your bank account has been cleaned out by Boris.
Still, it may be worth hazarding all this if you want to get rich quick. But you still need to protect your site from low-life, bonehead-hackers. These are the folks who can’t tie their shoelaces—thank you Velcro—but have enough moxie to break into your unfortified site.
First line of defense is to keep your software up-to-date. You can choose to have this done automatically, or you can do it yourself. The latter guarantees you’ll be around to see your website crash. Why? Because the new, improved version isn’t compatible with the $250 marketing plugin you just bought. Now you must turn that sucker off and can’t sell your paint-by-numbers, velvet-Elvis portraits. This costly and unacceptable situation that will force you to call tech support.
Ah, tech support. Sure, WordPress is free. But—surprise—tech support isn’t. How much will it cost?
How high is up?
It just depends on whether you want an answer today or somewhat later, such as when the first transgender, socialist, black woman is elected President with an endorsement from Southern Baptists. Bite the blog-bullet and pay more? A wise move, you think.
Within a few minutes, a real person, who may or may not speak your language understandably, will be on line and say these exact words: “Our software is actually much better and working perfectly. You’ll need to contact the vendor of your plug-in.”
Then they hang up, and bill your credit card.
Gee, and thanks, for nothing. So you Google the plugin-vendor.
Alas, this is when you notice that the vendor’s comment-forum has hundreds, even thousands, of unanswered cries for help. The entire customer base is looking for him, and he apparently, has just fled India for a scholarship at Harvard. He can’t be bothered with small-bore problems like yours. Either that, or he was rejected by Harvard, got pissed, and moved to Russia to, well, you know.
So now you have two pieces—or more—of crap-code that don’t work. What to do? Well, you go to the software shop and look for yet another plugin that is rated to work with the new-and-improved WordPress. You give up writing and selling your DIY-Elvis-art for a few days—yikes, no income—to fix your website and move forward. But one must do what one must do. Finally, you find a plugin that seems to work, and you’re back up and running.
For a few days.
Then, you get a pointed email from your web host. They’ve disabled your new plugin because it has evil coding inside that has invaded your computer, swiped your password, bank account info, and dozens of lewd selfies taken by your dog.
Damn that spaniel, anyway.
Now what? You can lather, rinse and repeat. Lathering requires shutting down all your credit reports, rinsing entails calling your bank and wearing out the buttons navigating their phone tree, and repeating sees you slogging through the cyber-muck setting up a brand new website.
Oh you eternal optimist you!
But there is another option ….
Over on YouTube, there are tons of tutorials on how to hack, or prevent, hacking. It is, as you well know, all too easy. This presents you with choices.
You can— not judging— be heroic. You do a deep dive on the dark side and become a WordPress security expert. You make money writing cautionary articles and helping poor souls, such as the retiree who lost her last dime trying to sell Dolly Parton look-alike waffles on the web.
Oh, can you relate.
You’ll earn her eternal gratitude and a lifetime supply of size Triple-E breakfast treats.
But there’s another option to pull in the really big bucks, you can—not saying you should—can your blog, sell everything, and go to your local passport office.
They say the weather in Moscow is lovely this time of year.
Just watch your karma, comrad.