If you asked me a couple of years ago what I would be doing today — The word “blogger” would never come to mind. In fact, I probably would have snorted at you and continued moping around, trying to convince myself that I belong in an office, working for someone else. And although there’s nothing wrong with that, I always envisioned myself doing something on a grander scale, putting all of my dedication and energy into something I was passionate about — and unfortunately, building someone else’s dream stopped making sense to me. I wanted to be creative and productive, but most importantly, happy. Isn’t that what we’re all striving for, anyways? Don’t we all deserve to be encompassed by a strong sense of purpose and positive energy? I think we do.
The good news is, if you’re reading this, you’re already a step closer.
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Why is being self-hosted important?
Being self-hosted is profoundly advantageous. In fact, here is a nifty lil’ chart detailing the differences between WordPress.com (free) and WordPress.org (self-hosted):
What’s a web host?
A web hosting company is basically who puts you on the (internet) map. They store your website online for you and without them, you’re unable to use or access your domain.
What will your domain name be?
This might be a little tricky if you don’t already have an idea of what you’d like to name your website. Here’s a little guideline for picking an optimal domain name:
‣ Make sure it’s user friendly. Although princessconsuelabananahammockhasablog.net may seem like a good (or funny) idea, it’ll take your readers some considerable attention to make sure it’s typed in correctly. Try to make it short and sweet so all of your readers can return to your blog over and over again. Remember — Easy to type, easy to remember.
‣ Use the appropriate domain name extension for your business. Usually ‘.com’ looks the most professional and works best for bloggers, however, I have seen ‘.me’ and ‘.co’ catch on lately as well.
‣ Let’s keep it unique and avoid issues like trademark infringement, yes?
You can register your domain name through Bluehost for free with the purchase of a 12 month (and up) hosting plan. I recommend this route to everyone as it’ll make your blog setup simple, due to everything being in one place.
* Elsewhere you would have to pay the base fee for the hosting, alongside another fee for a domain name (usually on an external website).*
Step 1: Hosting + Domain Name
Click here to go to Bluehost. (This link will open in a new window so you can follow along as you create your new account.) Select the big green “Get Started Now” button.
You will be lead to a page of the different plans Bluehost offers. I recommend registering for the “basic plan” if you’re just starting out. However, if you’re planning to host more than one website, the “plus plan” would be a better option for you.
After selecting your blog plan of choice, you will be asked to enter in the domain name you’d like. Bluehost will inform you if the domain name is already in use by displaying a yellow banner on the top of the same page. If your domain name has been approved, you will be redirected to the next page, titled “Create Your Account”.
Enter in all of the required fields for account information, package information, and payment information. Underneath the package information section, you will be asked to select which account plan you’re signing up for. For those looking to get serious about blogging and making money from home, my recommendation would be to register for the 36 month plan, as you’ll save quite a bit of money (50% off in savings). However, if you’re not sure if blogging is for you and you’re just testing out the waters, the 12 month plan would be the best selection for you.
In the same section, you’ll see that Bluehost offers add-ons for a fee, such as Search Engine Jumpstart and SiteLock Security. You can choose whichever add-ons you feel are necessary, however the Domain Privacy Protection feature is mandatory in my books. The DPP feature protects you from potential unsafe happenings, as it won’t display any of your personal information to anyone looking for it. There is a worldwide database by the name of “WhoIs” which allows anyone to search a domain name, free of charge, and receive access to the owner’s full legal name, address, and more. I recommend that no one overlooks or neglects this feature. It’s important to invest in your safety and privacy, especially on the internet.
Once you have entered in all of your information, you’ll receive a welcome email with your control panel (aka cPanel) login info. Keep this for future use.
STEP 2: wordpress installation
Next, go back to Bluehost and click “login” at the top right hand corner of the page, and sign in with the cPanel login info you received in your email. You’ll be redirected to your cPanel account. As you scroll down the home page, under the “website” tab, click the “Install WordPress” button. In simple terms, WordPress is the tool that will help you create, build, and design your website. Think of it as the framework of your foundation (Bluehost).
You will be then be asked to select your domain name from the drop-down menu (unless it’s already displayed). Leave the directory field blank. Once Bluehost and Mojo verify your domain, you’ll be brought to another page. Here it will ask you to choose your admin name. Never use “admin” or your website’s domain name as your actual administrator name, as it’s a step closer for someone to hack or access your blog. It should be something others couldn’t guess or know. Enter your email address and click the “Install Now” button. You will then receive a confirmation notice on your screen that WordPress has successfully been installed, as well as a confirmation by email.
You are now able to access your website. Enter in your website’s name, followed by /wp-admin. It’ll look something like this: http://www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin
Step 3: design
Now you’re able to get into the fun part: Designing your blog to look the way you want it to. In order to do this, you’ll need to upload a theme. On your WordPress dashboard, hover over “Marketplace” and click “Themes”. Scroll through the theme options until you find something you like. Or, if you have a specific look in mind, search for your desired theme by entering a keyword in the search bar. This could be a keyword such as “minimal”, “fun”, “professional”, etc.— Whatever floats your boat.
If you’re not ready to purchase a premium theme just yet, no worries! Head on over to your WordPress dashboard, hover over “Appearance”, and click “Themes”. There will be 4 free themes available for you to install onto your website.
All you need to do now is customize your theme the way you like and add your content in. It’s that easy!
Oh, and since you’re officially the new rockstar owner of a website, here are some useful resources that can help you get started:
7 Free WordPress Plugins Every Blogger Needs
6 Common Mistakes New Bloggers Make
How To Write Attention-Grabbing Blog Post Titles