Do you want to start a self-hosted WordPress blog, and you don’t even know where to start? I felt the same way when I started this project. But whether you are a new blogger with no idea where to start, or an old-school blogger trying to figure out how to grow, this guide will help you start your blog.
As a beginner, entering the blogosphere can be overwhelming. But, anyone can start a blog – even you! And once you do, you can write about anything. Suddenly, you have your very own space to write about whatever you want. And, before you know it, others will stumble upon your blog. Even better, they will love what you have to say.
I started my blog at the end of January 2017, and I have enjoyed every moment of it.
A decision you will have to make when you start blogging is whether or not to pay for a host. It seems obvious. Why would anyone pay for hosting? But, having a self-hosted blog is essential to those who would like to monetize their blog.Start a blog so you can share everything you're passionate about, and make money from it. Click To Tweet
Not only that, but the world of blogging is nothing short of incredible. And the benefits to starting your own blog are endless:
- Create a space where you can share everything you’re passionate about;
- Start writing amazing, influential content;
- Connect with the supportive blogging community;
- Empower you and give yourself confidence;
- Inspire others through your content;
- Grow your skillset, including social media management;
- Open up a world of opportunities to collaborate with other businesses.
The benefits are tenfold, and starting a blog is easier than you think. This guide will walk you through starting your very own self-hosted blog. If you ever run into any questions at any point during the blogging process, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
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Learn the Difference Between Free Hosting & Self-Hosted
When you have the choice between a free hosted or self-hosted blog, it sounds obvious, right? Everyone likes the word free. But, free hosting isn’t all that it’s cut out to be.
- If you use free hosting, you do not own your content! When you’re self-hosted, you own the content that you create.
- There may be restrictions when you want to monetize your blog.
- When you’re self-hosted, you get access to your own email address with your domain. For example, mine is firstname.lastname@example.org. Your own e-mail address gives you a level of professionalism when working with companies.
- Self-hosted WordPress blogs are much more customizable than the free WordPress option.
If you’re confused, yes, WordPress.com and a self-hosted WordPress blog are different!
- WordPress.com starts as a free hosting service.
- WordPress.org refers to a very similar software that can be installed to your very own self-hosted WordPress website.
- With WordPress.org software, you have more control over the customization of your blog.
- You also own your content!
Get a self-hosted WordPress blog!
If you are serious about blogging, you should make the small investment to start your own self-hosted blog. Personally, I love the WordPress software and once you learn about its functions it becomes very easy to navigate.
I am going to guide you through the process of purchasing your self-hosted blog from Siteground, and setting up WordPress on your blog (believe me, it’s easier than you think!).
Set up Your Hosting & Domain
To start your self-hosted blog, you will first need two things: a domain and hosting for your domain.
Siteground is an amazing hosting service highly recommend by most bloggers on the Internet for their great uptime and customer service.
- 24/7 customer service
- They install WordPress for you for free
- Free website setup and transfer
- Industry leading in terms of uptime
You can purchase your domain from Namecheap for what’s likely to be a lower cost. One domain I looked into was $29.95 on Siteground (they give you a .com for $14.95), but it was only $6.88 to purchase on Namecheap.
Siteground offers three options for hosting plans. When you use this link to sign up, you can get up 60% off your hosting plan! This discount only applies to the number of months you pay for upfront, so I recommend paying for as many months in advance as possible. I paid for two years in advance to take advantage of their deal.
(I purchased two years upfront and it only took me less than two months to earn my money back for my domain and hosting, but it’s different for everyone).
I made the mistake of purchasing the StartUp plan when I first started blogging. Although you get access to a website with essential features including phenomenal customer support, you are limited to only hosting one website. As it turns out, I’m totally addicted to creating websites (click here to check out the blogpreneur website I started with my boyfriend, Reroute Lifestyle). So a few months later I upgraded to GrowBig, paying the full price for that plan.
Here are a few of the additional features the GrowBig and GoGeek plans offer:
- Priority support available on GrowBig and GoGeek: I’ve never waited too long for Siteground’s customer service; they have insanely fast response times. But they do prioritize GrowBig and GoGeek clients with priority, which would definitely be helpful if you’re a beginner with the tech stuff (like I am!).
- SG Optimiser: one of the most important things for every serious blogger is how fast our websites load! Siteground knows this is important for keeping the visitor on your website and for better SEO rankings. Siteground’s WordPress caching solution (the SG Optimiser) is available with the GrowBig and GoGeek plans and it helps speed up a website up to several times.
- Multiple websites: Like I mentioned, Siteground’s StartsUp plan allows only one domain name and website. So, if you’re interested in hosting more than one website in the same hosting account, definitely consider either the GrowBig or GoGeek plan.
After you select a plan and purchase your domain, all you have to do is take a few minutes to fill out your information.
Before you complete your purchase, you can select extra services. If you don’t want the personal information you entered to become publicly available, definitely spend the extra $12/year to purchase domain privacy. If you think about it, it’s only an additional $1 per month to keep your private information safe. It’s up to you to opt in and get the SG Site Scanner, which checks your website daily and lets you know if your website has been hacked.
Seriously, you can start a website at only $3.95 per month! That’s cheaper than a Starbucks specialty drink!
Set up a self-hosted WordPress blog
Immediately after you set up your domain and hosting, you can set up WordPress!
You can either take advantage of Siteground‘s one-click WordPress installation or ask Siteground to install WordPress for you!
If you want to install WordPress on your own, open the “My Accounts” area. Then, click the red Go to cPanel button.
From there, look for the “Autoinstallers” section. Click the WordPress icon. On that page, you can easily install WordPress at the click of the button!
And, if you ever run into any trouble, Siteground has great, quick 24/7 customer service who are more than prepared to answer any questions you may have (trust me, I’ve taken advantage of this, too!).
Once you install WordPress, you can access your WordPress Dashboard by typing in http://YOURDOMAIN.COM/wp-admin.
Learn to Navigate WordPress
If you’re new to WordPress you might be overwhelmed by its Dashboard. Don’t worry, once you learn all the terms, you’ll realize how simple it can be. Let me walk you through the WordPress dashboard options on the sidebar.
The “Posts” option helps you organize your posts, including your post categories and tags. You can view “All Posts” including drafts and edit your posts from here.
When you add a new post, you can also manage its categories and tags.
Please, please make sure “Uncategorized” is unchecked. Give each post the love and recognition it deserves. Assign it to a category.
Categories are your blog’s overarching concepts. Like, for example, my categories are lifestyle, travel and blogging.
As for tags, you can think of them like subcategories or hashtags. If you link your blog to Bloglovin, your tags will show up whenever you post a new post!
The “Media” section showcases files you upload, including images. You can see what you’ve already opened by clicking Library. To add a new photo, click “Add New”. You can also add to your media library when you are editing a post.
You can title your images, edit their sizes, and update the Alt Text. Make sure you update the Alt Text on every image. This will contribute to your website’s search engine optimization and will help your articles rank higher on search engines.
Different than posts, Pages do not show up on your blog’s feed. You can get creative with the type of pages you make, but essential pages to write are an About Me page and a Contact page.
This section is where you can manage the comments on all your posts. You can approve comments, mark them as spam, and even reply to them!
The appearance section of your Dashboard is where you can select or upload your theme, and customize the look of your blog.
Believe me, I really like the idea of being frugal. So, I tried finding a free theme. But, the customization that paid themes allow is tenfold. You are more likely to find the theme you want if you spend $20-50 on a theme. Themeforest has a huge marketplace for themes and it’s quite easy to navigate their website. While you’re searching for themes, all you have to do is hover over an image and it shows you that theme preview.
Plugins are an additional way you can customize your blog. Think of them like apps that help you make your blog do what you want! Plugins are what make WordPress.org software so much better than free hosted blogs.
Now your blog is all set up and ready for you to start building it! But, where do you go from here?
For future guidance, you can check out my Blogging Resources Library to find the tools you need to nurture and grow your new business.
You can also check out these other posts for blogging tips and advice:
- How to Use Affiliate Marketing to Monetize Your Blog
- Make Money from Your Blog in the Next 30 Days
- Free Blogging Tools & Resources to Grow Your Blog
…or, you can browse the blogging archives.
Most importantly, remember that blogging is definitely a “learn-as-you-go” activity. At first, you might feel overwhelmed by the tasks you have to conquer. After my first month, I can confidently say that to build a successful blog, you first need to conquer your fears and stop worrying!
Starting a blog can be intimidating. In fact, I felt apprehensive before I started this blog. So many questions ran through my head. Would people think I’m weird? What if I’m unsuccessful? Now, in retrospect, I’m only overwhelmed by all the fantastic, positive support I received!
So don’t be afraid to jump start and start your blog – it’s only $3.95 per month to sign up for web hosting.
There is so much to learn from the blogosphere, and I’m so excited for you. I’ve put in a lot of work for my blog, but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. If you ever have any questions as you begin to start your blog, please feel free to contact me.