You’re bursting with ideas you want to share with the world, but you are intimidated with the process of setting up a self-hosted site. Does this sound familiar? The technical side of setting up a blog can feel overwhelming to those starting for the first time.
Since we’ve been sharing my blog income in our monthly financial reports, I’ve had lots of people ask how to actually start a blog, as in how to actually go through the nitty gritty technical details of getting a self-hosted blog up and running. I’m not an expert, but I’m happy to share what I do know, so I decided to put together a step-by-step showing how I set up my own blog!
We use Bluehost for our hosting. My husband, the technical one of us, did the research before we chose Bluehost. I didn’t even realize at the time (though my husband probably did) that Bluehost is the only hosting service officially recommended by WordPress. Personally, we’ve had a great experience. All the numbers say we should have outgrown Bluehost’s starter plan, but it’s still working great for us!
Go to the Bluehost site and click on the green “get started now” button.
Next, choose your plan. If you’re just starting out, the starter plan will be perfect. That’s what we did and it’s worked fine. If you pay for 36 months up front, you’ll get the lowest rate of $3.95 per month.
Choosing a Domain Name
Now it’s time for your domain name. Some people will tell you just to hurry up and pick a name so you can move on, but I think it’s important to be sure you have a domain name that you’re really happy with. My advice is to choose a name that is :
- Easy to remember — You want people coming back and telling their friends, right?
- Easy to spell — Avoid cutesy spellings that could be confusing.
- Not too long — This goes along with easy to remember, but also easy to read as a url.
- Gives a hint as to what your blog is about — You want to pique readers’ curiosity and give them a reason to click over to your site.
- Something you love — This is going to be your “brand,” so make it something you are proud to promote.
You get a free domain name registration with your Bluehost hosting package! If you already own a domain name, you can enter it here under “transfer domain.” You’ll have to go through a few extra steps to make sure your DNS points to Bluehost.
After entering your domain name, you’ll fill in your personal information for the account. This is pretty self-explanatory.
Choose a Hosting Package and Add-ons
Now it’s time to choose the hosting package you want. You can use the dropdown menu to see the available options. If you have the money upfront to pay for 36 months and you’re committed to at least three years of blogging, it will be cheaper in the long run. Not only will you get a cheaper monthly introductory rate, you’ll be at the introductory rate for longer. After the promotional period of 12, 24, or 36 months the price goes up slightly (but is still inexpensive).
Also, noteworthy is that Bluehost allows for seamless upgrades to their non-shared hosting plans (VPS and dedicated server hosting), when your site grows to need them. Bluehost doesn’t require a contract and you are free to cancel at anytime. I love when companies stand behind their product or service enough to offer a guarantee like that.
You’ll have a couple of other options for services to add to your bill. The one I recommend to everyone is Domain Privacy Protection (sometimes called WHOIS privacy). With a simple online search you can normally find the name, address, and email of the person who owns any domain name, unless it is privacy protected. The person who found you through a WHOIS search could then send you email, or mail, or make a surprise visit. With domain privacy protection, your own information will not appear in a search. For us, this service is worth paying for.
If you don’t have another site backup tool in place, it’s worth looking at Site Backup Pro as well. Avoid that terrible sinking feeling that comes when you begin to suspect a mistake or a technical failure has erased your hard work on the site.
Enter your billing information and click Next to finalize your purchase. You’re now the proud owner of a domain name (and hosting package). The next step is to get your site set up.
You’ll be asked to create a password for your account. Please choose a strong password, something with upper case and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t make it obvious either. You don’t want to find your site has been taken over by someone who correctly guessed your password was Password123.
Once you sign in with your new password, the first step will be to install WordPress. WordPress is the standard in blog engines: capable, easy to use, and free. Thankfully, Bluehost makes it really easy to set up WordPress. Go to the “Hosting” tab of your account page and click the “cpanel” link in the next row. Scroll down to the “mojo marketplace” section and click on “One-Click Installs.”
If this is a new domain without any prior versions of WordPress around, click Install. This is pretty close to being the promised one-click install process. You’ll be asked which domain you want to install WordPress to. That’s an easy choice if you have only one domain. If you have more, choose the domain you want to run your blog on from the drop-down menu. Click the Check Domain button to make sure you don’t already have a copy of WordPress installed.
When the next page says “You’re almost there…”, click the box to show Advanced Options. Type in the title of your site, a WordPress account user name, password, and email. Click the Install Now button.
Bluehost will run a script that installs WordPress to your domain in a common configuration without your doing any work at all.
Once WordPress is installed, you’ll be able to start creating and publishing posts and pages for your blog. Put up a sample post, and then play with the Appearance and other settings and the available themes until it looks just like you want it to.
You did it! You set up a WordPress blog with Bluehost like a technical pro!
Note: This post contains my affiliate link, so I’ll receive a commission when you sign up through my link at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own! For more info, see my disclosure page.
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