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Once upon a time I knew nothing about blogging. I knew of blogs and wanted a creative outlet of my own to share my life and knowledge with the world. I fished around the internet looking through tutorial after tutorial. Pining numerous blog pins to my Blogging: Tips & Tricks board. Spending countless hours on my blog and feeling so lost and overwhelmed. That was until I stumbled upon Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook. This book was heaven sent. Abby Lawson from Just a Girl and Her Blog takes you step by step through it all in her e-book. From using wordpress and plugins, to social media and promotion. I don’t think I would be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for that blogging angel. 🙂
So you want to start a blog eh? Are your fears holding you back from taking the plunge into the blogging world? Well no more excuses. Today I will take you step-by-step on starting a blog. Let’s get on with it shall we?
STARTING A BLOG: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
I highly recommend starting with a self-hosted site using WordPress.org. Why? This type of site will give you the most freedom and the most control over your blog. I’ve had wix, blogger, and wordpress.com but I didn’t feel the freedom that I have with my self-hosted site. There is a small cost involved, but it will be worth in in the long run. The first thing you’ll need to do to set up your self-hosted blog on WordPress.org is select your domain name and hosting package.
1) SELECT A DOMAIN NAME AND GET IT REGISTERED.
Research is key when choosing a name for your blog. You want something that fits you, your blog, and is unique and will help you stand out in a positive way. If you need a little help in this area, check out Bust a Name. It allows you to type in some keywords you want to use in your domain name and combines them into available domains. Think about your niche when choosing your name. If you’re unsure choose something versatile. You don’t want to choose a domain name where 6 months later you’re going to want to change it (I know this from experience-4 blog domain name holder). Choose wisely. 😉
Once you have the perfect name,you need to register it so no one snags it up. You could choose to register it where you purchase your hosting package. We’ll talk about setting up hosting in a minute and give you an example of registering both parts together.
Another option would be to purchase your domain name separately from your hosting package, which some would say adds an extra layer of security but can also complicate things. When I had Wix (free host) I had already bought my domain from godaddy.com, and then switched hosting to Bluehost a few months later where I registered a new domain name, so I’ve done it both ways.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend you keep things as simple as possible and take advantage of the free domain name with Bluehost.
2) DECIDE WHICH HOSTING PROVIDER TO USE.
You want to pick a trustworthy host because if they have problems, you have problems. Your host is where your blog “lives,” so it affects your site speed and accessibility. Support is also an important factor to consider when choosing a host. You want to be able to call when an issue arises and have it fixed right away to avoid blog downtime as much as possible.
If you’re just getting started and want an amazing combination of price, speed, and reliability, I recommend Bluehost. I’ve used them from the start of my self hosting journey and have not had one problem.
HOW TO START A BLOG AND INSTALL WORDPRESS
SETTING UP HOSTING AT BLUEHOST
I’m going to walk you through the steps of getting started with Bluehost. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that there are 20 steps– that just means I’ve broken it down to make it really easy for you!
1) Navigate to Bluehost. There are always discounted deals through my affiliate link to assure you are getting the lowest price possible (thank you for your support). Click the big green “Get Started Now” button.
2) You’ve already decided on a domain name at this point. To register your domain name with Bluehost, enter it under the “new domain” box and click “next.”
3) Enter all of your account and contact information.
4) Continue down to the “package information” section. You get the cheapest monthly rate by selecting 36 months. It’s important to note that Bluehost charges you for the full the 36 months upfront. You are prepaying for the hosting. That’s one of the reasons they are able to offer great hosting at such a small price. They always have that money-back guarantee, though, so you won’t risk losing your money.
There are other services available on this screen but don’t worry about those yet. You can always add them later. (We would recommend setting up some sort of backup for your blog so that you don’t lose all of your hard work if your site crashes).
5) Enter your billing information, agree to the service agreements, and then click “next.”
6) Again, there are some additional options you can purchase here, but I wouldn’t. These could be added later if you need them. Click “complete.”
7) Congratulations! You officially have a Bluehost account. Next you need to create your password.
8) On this screen, you’ll create your Bluehost account password. Don’t forget it! (make this a strong one because you don’t want to get hacked!)
9) Now that your password has been created, you can log into your account for the first time! Make sure you’re logging into “hosting” and not “webmail.”
10) When your account opens for the first time, you’ll see a helpful little welcome message. I’m walking you through the process, so select the “close this welcome message and don’t show it again” button. 🙂
11) Once you close that window, you’ll be in your account dashboard. You will get very familiar with this page. First things first– you need to install WordPress. Click the “install WordPress” button at the bottom of the screen.
12) On the WordPress Installation screen, click “Install.”
13) Click “show advanced options.”
14) Name your site (you can always change it later), create a username for the WordPress install, and create a WordPress login password. You’ll want to make sure that “Automatically create a new database for this installation” and “I have read the terms and conditions of the GPLv2” are checked as well. Click “Install Now.”
15) Watch the little bar at the top of the next screen turn green. That means WordPress has been successfully installed.
16) Now check your email, and you should have something from Mojo Marketplace. This email is important, so make sure you save it! It includes your website URL, your WordPress admin login URL, and your WordPress login username.
17) From the email in the previous step, click the Admin URL. It will take you to a site that looks like the one below. Enter your username.
18) To retrieve your password, navigate back to your Bluehost tab and click the very bottom “view” to see your WordPress password. Remember, this alert expires after 12 hours, so make sure you get the password within that time period.
19) This page shows everything you need to start using WordPress. I like to take a screenshot of this page and save it somewhere that I’ll be able to access easily if I forget my info. (Not that I’m forgetful or anything. 😉 )
20) Now that you have your password, you can log into WordPress and it will take you to the WordPress dashboard. You will learn to love this. Spend some time going through the various settings. It may be confusing at first, but in no time it will all be second nature.
MAKE IT PRETTY: CHOOSE YOUR THEME
You did it! Woo hoo!!! Give yourself a big pat on the back. Now you want to make your blog pretty, right? In order to do that, you will need to choose a theme. Your theme will determine many of the visual aspects of my blog– my background, colors, fonts, navigation bar, and the social media buttons in my header are all part of my theme.
Because I’m not a web designer and I don’t know code, I chose to go with the Genesis Framework. This framework gives you the main building block to design a strong site. Now find a theme and make it pretty. For my current theme I chose the Pretty Lifestyle theme by Pretty Darn Cute Design, which gave me all of the beautiful, feminine visual elements of my blog. If you are a woman and you are a blogger (or would like to be a blogger), you must check out their themes.
Related: Feminine Themes for WordPress
If you decide not to go with a child theme from Pretty Darn Cute Designs, you can also check out child themes by Angie Makes, Restored316, Kathie and Andrew from BluChic, who also makes beautiful, well-designed child themes, and StudioPress, the creators of the Genesis framework. Since each theme will be different, there’s not one complete tutorial I can give you for all of them, but all of the themes I mentioned above come with excellent service and support, and they will be able to help you get set up in no time.
And that’s how to start a blog! I have faith that you can handle the technical side of blogging– don’t let it intimidate you! Sure, you will do a lot of learning as you go along, but once you have the basic building blocks in place, you are a lot closer to getting to do the fun stuff: creating amazing content!! If you’d like to learn more about starting or growing a blog, be sure to check out this amazing eBook by Abby Lawson, Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook! It covers all the blogging basic from which plugins to use and the essential elements you need to include in your blog to how to work with brands and make money! I tell you, this was a life and time saver.
If you ever have any questions about the technical side of setting up a blog, please ask away in the comments, and I’ll try to help as much as I can. Now go out there and show the blogging world who has arrived! 🙂