Thinking about starting your own blog? Perfect! My goal with this post is to share an easy to follow step-by-step guide to starting your own blog on WordPress.Org and all the things I wish I knew before I started mine.
Disclaimer: some of the links below are affiliate links which means that I will earn a commission if you make a purchase through those links. These are all products I have found value in and personally use unless otherwise noted.
Starting this blog has been one of the most exhausting/rewarding things I have ever done and I’d do it all over again if I could….except maybe with a few changes here and there that would have saved me a headache or two.
Learn From My Mistakes
If I had to go back to when I finally decided to get the ball rolling and start my blog I would tell myself two things:
- Make sure that the domain name you want is actually available – check using an actual domain search! Just because asaucykitchen.blogspot.com is available don’t means asaucykitchen.com is.
- Start out using wordpress.org
Originally I started out on Blogger. It was free, easy, and waaaay less intimating. Did I mention free? It was a great platform to start out on and get my feet wet with the whole blogging thing which I totally appreciate. If blogging is something that you want do as a side hobby, I’d definitely recommend starting there.
If however you’re wanting to use your blog as a platform for your future business I’d recommend starting out using WordPress.org. Of course there are plenty of places that you can build and sustain a website: SquareSpace, Weebly, etc. The thing is, WordPress is the most popular blogging platform out there which means that you just about Google any problem you run into and someone else has been there before with the problem all figured out. As a person who had zero technical experience prior to blogging this was such a huge thing for me.
WordPress is also the place you want to be for search enginge optimization (SEO). Basically that means it’s great for being found. There are over 152 million blogs out there in the blogosphere. Truth is: the ‘build it and they will come’ mantra isn’t always true. Sometimes you need to work a little harder to get yourself found and WordPress and it’s 1,000 + plugins to choose from make that job a little easier for you.
FYI – WORDPRESS.ORG VS WORDPRESS.COM
This part really confuses a lot of people (myself included) at first because they sound so similar but there’s actually a big difference to keep in mind
- WordPress.com is hosted by WordPress. You have limited control over function and web layout. You have to pay for an ad free site and you can’t use any plugins or custom themes. It’s basically the WordPress version of Blogger
- WordPress.org is self hosted. You need to pay a monthly fee for hosting, but you have control of how you want your website to run and look. If you want to have the ability to run ads on your site you need to be self hosted. You also have the ability to run ads on your site to help monetaize your blog.
The Basic Steps to Starting a Blog on WordPress
- Deciding on a name
- Choosing a host
- Installing WordPress
- Designing & Customizing
Choose a Name
When it comes to starting a blog, choosing your name is simultaneously the most fun and most challenging step of all! The name you decide is going to be how you’re recognized online and across social media. Ideally you want something unique and reflective of your personality and the personality of your website.
Worst case scenario you choose a name and later decide that it doesn’t fit you or your blog. That’s totally fine. It’s not easy, it’s not cheap, and there will be a bit of hair pulling in the process, but you can absolutely change your name. Erin from Well Plated (formerly the Law Student’s Wife) wrote an EBook on the subject and I’d recommend giving it a read if you run into that problem.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN CHOOSING A NAME
- Keep it snappy. Don’t make your readers type out obnoxiously long url’s to find you.
- Be original. You want people to think of YOU with your name and not another blogger.
- Don’t use hyphens…just don’t.
As I mentioned earlier, make sure to check that the domain name you’re after is actually available. The easiest way to do this is do use a domain search engine like this one with GoDaddy. Just type out the url you want and it will let you know if it’s taken or not.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your name is whether or not the name you want is available across other social media platforms. Your dream URL may be available online, but there’s a chance someone else may be using it on Instagram or Twitter. If it’s important that you have one name across all platforms make sure to think about this before purchasing your name. You can always change your social media handles slightly if you’re set on your domain. For example Sally’s Baking Addiction goes by @SallysBakeBlog on Instagram. Just another thing to think about!
PURCHASE YOUR NAME & CHOOSE HOSTING
Now that you’ve decided on your domain name it’s time to register it. Personally I suggest purchasing your domain name from your host for the sake of bundling that purchase together.
It’s important to note that both GoDaddy and Bluehost (and probably any budget friendly hosting service you start out with) are shared hosting services. Think of it like living in an apartment complex – you have shared resources with your neighbors which makes it more affordable than living in a house. The main downside comes when you start to get more traffic to your blog. Shared hosting can slow down your site and degrade your readers experience on your blog.
Once you start getting more traffic to your blog you might want to consider moving your hosting to a Virtual Private Sever (VPS). With VPS you have dedicated serves for your blog which means faster page load time, usually more dedicated customer service, and the possibility to grow your blog even more. It does come with a much higher price though so it’s usually something that bloggers switch to further down the line when they have the traffic to justify it.
Since this is a ‘how to start a blog’ blog post I’m just going to go over the shared hosting options to start you off with.
I’m going to break this part into two sections, starting with GoDaddy – what I personally use.
Hosting & Domain: GoDaddy
So after you’ve decided on your domain name and have made sure that it’s available using GoDaddy’s domain search you need to register it. You can choose to register your domain anywhere from 1 -10 years. Starting out I’d recommend just doing it for one year; that way you can always change your domain name if you need to.
After you’ve searched and found an available name click ‘select’.
Then click ‘continue to cart’ above.
PRIVACY & HOSTING
You’ll then be directed to the Privacy & Hosting page. I’d recommend purchasing the Privacy Protection because this will keep your personal info (phone number and home address) from being displayed in public records.
Next you have two options: Website Builder + Hosting (blogging for dummies version) and Hosting (people who already have a clue when it comes to blogging)
I fell into the ‘blogging for dummies’ category here so I chose the Website Builder + Hosting. It was fast, easy, and I didn’t have to deal with a CPanel….whatever that is.
After step 2 you have the option to buy a professional email to go along with domain name. For example if I chose to do that my email for this blog would be email@example.com. You can always add a professional email later, but that part is up to you!
VERIFYING DETAIL + PURCHASE
Next page you’ll need to confirm your order. Make sure that your registration periods are right because when I got to this page my registration was set for 5 years which was a lot more than I was willing to pay!
SIGN IN & SET UP
On the next page you’ll either need to sign into an existing GoDaddy account or sign up as a new account. Write down the username and password because you’ll need to set up your WordPress blog in a few minutes. After that you just need to enter in your payment/billing info and that’s it! You’ve bought your domain and hosting and now it’s time to set up blog.
Log into GoDaddy using the username and password you created to buy your domain and hosting and then go to your account. Go to Managed WordPress and click ‘Manage’.
On the next screen click ‘setup’ on the New Managed WordPress.
You’ll then be given the option to start brand new or migrate an existing site to WordPress. For this tutorial I’m just going to show you how to start new so click the ‘Create a New WordPress Site’ box.
On the next page you need to select the domain that you’re going to build your site with. You can select the name you just bought or go with the temporary domain and switch later. Switching from a temporary domain to your purchased domain is actually really easy so no sweat.
Further down the page you’ll need to create your WordPress credentials that you’ll be using to log in.
- Username: create a username that you can use every time you log into WordPress
- Email Address: you can change this later if you want, but make sure you use one that you’ll be able to get WordPress updates to
- Password: Getting hacked sucks. Use numbers and punctuation!
Click finish, sit back and in a couple of minutes your website will be installed. You’ll then be redirected to your new WordPress dashboard.
From now on you can log in to WordPress.org by typing the web address yourdomainname/wp-admin/ The login screen will look like this
BTW: all information domains, backups, DNS, SSH & SFTP, Database, phpMyAdmin at the Gateway page
GO DADDY QUICK SET UP
Your dashboard is going to look a lot like this when you first get started. All you have to do now is click the Go Daddy Quick Set up ‘Get Started’ and you’ll be taken through a 3-step process for setting up your blog.
- Choose your site type (personal website + gallery, gallery, company organization website, blog)
- Decide on your theme. There are hundreds of free themes to start out with it and you can always change it later. I’m currently using the Foodie Pro from StudioPress Themes for WordPress <—not free, but worth every penny
- Enter in a few quick details about your blog name, your name, and what kind of content your blog is about
And that’s it! I recommend taking sometime to click around your dashboard and get familiar with everything. It will be super confusing to start off with but you’ll get used to it the more you do it until you don’t even think about it anymore.
Customising your site
One of the best parts about WordPress is how easy it is to style and customize your blog through plugins. Plugins are extra features that web developers build to ad functionality to your site. They are kind of like apps that you can download to make specific elements of your blog better. When you find the right plugins they make you and your readers blogging experience better.
For example, when I was using Blogger I could not for the life of me figure out how other bloggers were able to format their recipes. I wanted my readers to be able to easily print off the recipe without having to print my entire post. Eventually I realized it was because most of the food bloggers I came across were using WordPress to run their blog and they had special plugins that allowed them to insert recipe cards in their posts.
There are thousands of plugins to choose from – some brilliant, others not so much. Most of the time I choose free ones, but every now and then I’ll pay for a plugin that I really think is worth it – like Vaultpress (for backing up & restoring your blog if you ever ‘break’ it).
And that’s basically it! I’d like to say that setting up your blog is the most difficult part but that’s just the beginning. Growing a successful blog that makes you money takes time and work. It’s a labor of love that you need to work on every day. You’ll love it and hate it, but as long as you keep at it you will no doubt create something to be proud of.
I’m planning on adding more pages to the Blogging Resources page that includes different things I’ve done to grow my blog. If you have any suggestions of things you’d like to see just let me know in the comments below!
How to build traffic….