So you want to start a blog and pour your heart, creativity, and knowledge into it?! Well, a self-hosted WordPress blog is your best choice for that!
Best part? It’s surprisingly easy to create and start a WordPress blog! So don’t be intimidated! Even if you have absolutely no technical know-how, you’ll have zero problems starting your dream blog in less than half an hour!
Of course, for this to go smooth and as fast as promised you’ll need to have the right tips and tools to do it.
The steps in short:
1. Choose a domain name
2. Get a hosting plan
3. Install WordPress
4. Choose and activate a WordPress Theme
5. Write your first blog post
1. Choosing a domain name
Usually, the domain name and the name of a site are considered to be the same thing. My best advice is not to dwell on this for too long, just keep these few things in mind:
1. Choose a name that’s not too long, easy to write and pronounce.
2. Use the opportunity to include some keywords (terms that people search for in Google and other search engines) related to your niche. For example, if your site is about puzzles, your domain can be something like puzzleadventures.com. Basically, your domain name should hint at the topic of your blog.
3. Use .com. Most users will assume .com when browsing so having a .com website makes you easier to find. However, if you absolutely love a certain name but .com is taken, don’t hesitate much about it and go with .net or another extension.
4. Avoid hyphens.
5. Be creative. Given the billions of sites out there, chances are your first choices of domain name will be already taken. Try different combinations of the words you wanna use until you find the right fit for you that’s also free.
2. Get a hosting plan
Now that you’ve figured out the name of your future blog, let’s talk about where you host it and why you need a self-hosted website.
Let me go ahead and say it – yes, blogs are great in many ways but the majority of us start them hoping to gain not only a creative outlet but additional income as well.
To be able to monetize your website, it needs to be self-hosted. This ensures your complete authority and control over your blog, enabling you to turn your blog into a lucrative business.
Simply put: free blogging platforms like Blogger, Blogspot or WordPress.com DON’T let you monetize your content! Additionally, everything you post on there is basically not owned by you but the platform.
So, set your business right from the start with a self-hosted WordPress site.
2.1 Choosing a Hosting Company
But what’s hosting? Every website you see on the internet is practically information – videos, texts, pictures. All this information is stored on special computers called servers, which makes that content available to us through the internet. So, in order for your website to go live and exist online, you need a hosting service. It’s common that people buy their domain from the same company they get their hosting.
Hosting and site performance
Hosting is fundamental to the performance of your website. As a beginner, there are a few things you need to keep in mind and I’m surprised nobody talks about it (and I certainly wish I knew that earlier!)! At least not when addressing beginners.
Firstly, hosting is one of the factors which can directly impact the performance of your blog. How? The quality of your hosting provider determines to a great extent the SPEED of your website. If your hosting plan is poor, regardless of all optimization you might do, you’ll still find it impossible to bring your website to a fast-loading speed.
The importance of site speed
Now, as a beginner, you might be wondering why site speed is so important.
- Page speed is a crucial factor in ranking your site on Google (and ranking high on Google is one of the best ways to bring traffic to your blog).
- According to Google’s research, 53% of mobile users will leave a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
- In general, sites that have faster loading times have a lower bounce rate (people browse around the content), have more visitors and better conversion rates.
If you’re serious about your blog and making a business out of it, site speed certainly needs to be one of your main concerns (content comes first, of course).
Good customer support is a MUST
Second, regardless of how advanced or not you are, chances are there’ll be times when you’ll need to contact the customer support of your hosting company. This can either cause you further frustration and annoyance or make you sigh with relief when things get fixed quickly. Trust me, you want a company with dedicated, friendly and knowledgeable support.
Don’t fall for it…
If you look around for similar articles on how to start a WordPress blog, odds are, you’ll be recommended Bluehost. The reason being that Bluehost has one of the highest paying affiliate programs and it’s quite easy to become a part of it. They are also fairly cheap, at least initially. Their renewal prices not so much. Oh, and they offer a free domain name for the first year which usually will cost you roughly 10-12 dollars. You can see how all this can appeal to anyone looking to start a blog for cheap.
Why bloggers promote Bluehost so often:
-> High-paying affiliate program
-> Easy to get affiliate with
Bluehost’s marketing strategy:
-> Cheap initial prices (not so much upon renewal)
-> Free domain name registration for the 1st year (usually cost roughly 10-12 dollars)
The problem with Bluehost:
- Bluehost (Hostgator as well) is part of the infamous company EIG. They are known for acquiring hosting companies and bringing them to a quick downfall in quality by cutting down employees and clumping more customers on the same server. This is cost-saving for them, but it comes at the cost of slower load-times for customers and notoriously poor support.
- Be ready for constant upsells. To make up for their initial cheap prices, their system will continuously give you upsell pitches. For example, basic things like having a site backup will cost you 3$ a month. As a comparison, SiteGround keeps a copy of your site for the last 30 days and, in case you need it, you’re able to restore your site to a previous point in seconds.
- They don’t deliver in performance and their online reputation shows it.
What are the best hosting companies out there then?
Here, at Best Blogging Resources we have two favorites. Honestly, they are not just our fave as you’ll see below.
Do you know how you make your business stand out from your competition? You analyze what the pain points of your customers are and focus on improving them. That’s exactly what SiteGround did!
1. Great site performance (speed & uptime) due to better technology. They’ve invested in hardware (SSD disks) and software solutions (SG Optimizer) to give their customers fast performing websites.
2. They are a support/customer-orientated company. SiteGround are well-known for their superb customer service. Along with that, SiteGround offers high-quality tutorials and guides to make setting up your new blog a breeze.
3. Five server locations. Unlike companies like BlueHost whose servers are only in America, SiteGround’s servers have several locations in Asia, Europe, and America – 5 locations in total (this contributes to their fast-loading times).
4. Free site migration. This means that you can easily switch a blog from another hosting company to SiteGround.(Note: Valid for plans GoGeek and above). Apart from that, they offer an easy-to-use migration plugin.
5. They got your back! As mentioned before, they keep a backup of your site for the last 30 days so in case anything goes wrong, you can easily restore it to a previous backup point.
6. Optimized for WordPress. SiteGround offers a bunch of WordPress tools that can make your experience with it much easier: WordPress Starter plug-in to guide beginners, various site-speed optimizations, WordPress caching and update manager.
7. Five-star reviews! They are widely praised online by customers.
I find that SiteGround is the best possible choice for beginners – you’ll get excellent site performance and outstanding customer support. Their initial prices are quite the deal so it’s a good idea to get a 2-3 year package. To be completely honest, their renewal prices are a bit steep although, in my opinion, it’s a fair price for the quality they provide.
Who’s SiteGround for:
-> Absolute beginners about to start their first blog.
-> Small/Medium businesses looking to create their online presence.
-> People who aren’t (yet) savvy with managing a website and want an “easy” hosting with friendly, reliable support.
-> Low traffic websites (under 100 000 page views) that still don’t need cloud hosting.
->People looking for a reputable and reliable host who’s been around for years
Now, if you feel that this is a big commitment and you don’t want to do this initial splurge, Cloudways is your other best option. In fact, ever since we made the switch to Cloudways, we’ve been blown away by how fast our website became. Furthermore, while migrating our website, we found their support to be very helpful and quick to react.
Shared hosting vs. Cloud hosting
What distinguishes them is that, as the name suggests, Cloudways provides you with cloud-hosting. As such, the speed and performance they can give you are unmatched by any shared hosting (although SiteGround comes as close as possible). The nature of cloud hosting makes it easier to tailor your plan to your specific needs and allows you to pay for only what you use. Cloudways’ prices start at 10$ a month.
All that being said, Cloudways might be the better choice for people who are a little more tech-savvy with managing their website, want more control over it and have higher demands for site performance. In fact, most people who move away from SiteGround go to Cloudways for these same reasons.
Yet, beginners should know…
My best advice is, if you’re an absolute beginner and haven’t signed for SiteGround’s initial prices yet, they are your best choice – price worthy, reliable and great site performance. Once the time for renewal comes and you’ve gathered more experience (and, hopefully, traffic), you should definitely look into switching to Cloudways.
3. Installing WordPress (with SiteGround)
I promise you, it’s very very easy and very very quick! Just follow the steps below. 🙂
3.1. Finish your registration with SiteGround
As this tutorial is aimed for beginners, I’m going to show you how to install WordPress once you’ve signed up for one of SiteGround’s hosting plans.
To do that, go to SiteGround’s site, choose Web Hosting and then the desired hosting plan. We recommend GrowBig as it gives you the best value for your money.
Then, choose a domain name and finish your order.
3.2. Go to SiteGround Customer Area
Once you’ve chosen your hosting plan, registered a domain and placed your order, you need to go to my.siteground.com, using the e-mail and password you’ve used upon registration. (Just click Proceed to Customer Area).
3.3. Set up your site with WordPress
Go to Set Up Site.
Then, select Start New Website and WordPress from the suggested applications underneath.
3.4. Create a WordPress account
Once you select WordPress, a new menu will drop asking you to fill in your e-mail address and the password that you want to use for your WordPress account. After you’re done, click on continue.
3.5. Finish WordPress installation
Before the installation of WordPress is completed, they will ask you if you want to add on their SG Site Scanner plugin. You can add that if you like but their security is pretty good anyway so you might as well go ahead and press Finish.
It will take no more than 2 minutes for your site to be created.
Before you know it, your site will be all set!
Congrats! Now you have your very own self-hosted WordPress site!
Now you can click on Manage Site on the right and get to the tools area of your SiteGround account. There you can create email accounts, manage your applications and files, connect to Cloudfare, etc. I encourage you to explore your SiteGround account and the options they give you.
But I guess, now you’re all excited to go to your WordPress dashboard and start creating content!
3.6 How To Log-In Into Your WordPress Account
All you need to do is go to yourdomainname.com/wp-admin. For example, if your domain name is cookingshananigans.com, you need to go to cookingshananigans.com/wp-admin. You’ll be asked to log-in and you need to use the email and password you filled in when creating your WordPress account earlier.
SiteGround’s WordPress Starter will open.
If you wish to use this beginner’s guide to WordPress – go ahead and press Start Now. To go straight to your WP dashboard – press the Exit button underneath.
And there you have it! The backend of your new website! From here, you can write your posts, manage your comments, add plugins, change how your website looks and much more.
I know it’s a bit overwhelming at first but just stick with it. You’ll get used to working with WordPress, I promise you that it’s worth it!
4. Choosing and activating a WordPress theme
Your site theme is basically the design and outlook of your blog.
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a theme.
Obviously, you want a theme that’s aesthetically pleasing and fitting to the content you’ll be sharing.
More importantly, though, you want a theme that’s fully responsive and optimized for mobile devices.
Free WordPress Themes
There are a ton of free WordPress themes that you can choose from. To look through them open your WordPress dashboard and go to Appearance as shown below. Then choose Themes.
To look through all free themes available just click on Add New. You can see how their demos look like and once you choose one click on Activate.
Now you have to customize it! Just go to Appearance -> Customize.
Free themes are great for one reason – namely, they are FREE. And if your budget is limited, that might just be your way to start.
Premium WordPress Themes
However, we don’t recommend using a free theme. There are many reasons for that but here are some of the most important ones:
1. Free themes don’t rarely offer any (reliable) support. So if something goes wrong, you’re on your own. Unlike them, premium themes from reputable vendors offer 24/7 support and you can rely on timely help with any issues concerning your theme.
2. Free themes aren’t fully customizable. They also offer a lesser number of features
3. Free themes aren’t SEO-optimized. While premium themes offer clean code and faster loading times, free themes lack all this built-in SEO-optimization.
4. Sometimes free themes have encrypted links in their footer which significantly reduces your chances of getting ranked by Google.
5. Free themes make it harder for your blog to stand out. As so many website-owners out there reach for the free versions, you’ll find a lot of them looking very similar to your own.
6. Free themes don’t get regular updates which pose a risk for the security of your website.
When choosing a premium theme, always stick to reputable, well-known vendors. Our favorites are Elegant Themes and StudioPress themes.
StudioPress Themes – Fast, SEO-optimized and GORGEOUS
StudioPress themes impress with sleek, simple and elegant designs. They all operate based on the Genesis Framework, which serves as a base theme. It’s like the ground code on which each child theme is created. If you purchase one of their themes you get the package – the Genesis Framework + the child theme you chose.
I’m personally blown away not just by their performance but by how professional and elegant their themes look. And, believe me, I looked through dozens .
Not gonna lie, they are a bit steep in price, but if you want a site that stands out, they are a clear winner. I believe this is especially important for creatives or if you’re building an online presence for your business. It’s like they say – the first impression is everything.
The great thing is that once you purchase the Genesis Framework (with or without a child theme), you don’t need to repurchase it again. Plus, you get a customer discount so if you wish to purchase another child theme, they range between 30-60 USD.
We’re currently using the Essence Pro Theme by StudioPress and couldn’t be happier.
Another great theme for bloggers is Mai Lifestyle Pro – sleek, professional and with tons of features and layouts.
Elegant Themes – The Ultimate WordPress Page Builder
Elegant Themes is one of the most popular independent WordPress theme stores out there and Divi is their signature product. The Divi theme is a new generation theme that gives you the freedom to build amazing designs without any coding whatsoever.
The theme works together with their Divi Builder plugin and it’s based on the drag and drop principle. The features and the variety of customization you can do is simply incredible.
It honestly astonishes me that you can do SO much without having any website building experience.
Furthermore, Elegant Themes offer not just great products but great customer support as well. It’s no surprise then that they receive so much praise from their customers.
4.1. Installing a premium theme in WordPress
It’s really simple, don’t worry!
Once you purchase a theme, you’ll get an instant download link. You’ll get a zip file.
Now go back to Appearance -> Themes -> Add New -> Upload Theme.
Note that if you choose to go with a StudioPress theme, you’ll first need to upload the Genesis Framework zip file. Don’t activate it though. Then in the same way upload the child theme zip file and activate it.
All you need to do is choose the zip file you downloaded and click on Install Now.
Activate your theme and head over to Appearance -> Customize to start the fun part of designing your blog!
5. Write your first blog post
We’re finally there! Writing and publishing your first blog post is definitely exciting!
How do you do that though?
Open your WordPress dashboard and go to Post -> Add New.
There you go! You’re all set to start your journey as a blogger.
Remember that the opportunities ahead of you as a blogger are endless! It all hangs on your determination and the effort you put in.
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