For some people, blogging is a fun hobby and a way to pass some free time which is cool. But if you decide to get serious about it, you can truly turn blogging into a business of your own.
Writing has always been my passion and since last year, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with blogging. I actually love it so much, that I started freelance writing to get paid to blog for other people.
Why Start a Blog?
- It’s a great creative outlet. You can express your thoughts and feelings with the world.
- You have the freedom of working from home and being your own boss.
- It will improve your writing skills.
- It can help grow your existing business (businesses with blogs get 55% more traffic than businesses without!)
I could really go on and on about all of the reasons you should start a blog but chances are, if you’re here, you’re already aware of some of them.
One thing I learned about blogging is that it can be confusing to get started. Between different domains, hosting packages, blogging platforms, and products being offered by different companies, it can quickly get overwhelming.
It took me a bit of trial and error, but eventually, I figured out how to get started with my own self-hosted blog. To save you the trouble of going through all those extra steps, I created this quick and easy step-by-step guide to have your blog up in running in no time.
This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure for details.
Note: There are several ways to set up a new blog. This post is going to show you specifically how to start a WordPress blog with SiteGround, the two sites I personally use and recommend.
Pre-Step: Decide What You Want to Blog About
The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is decide what you’re going to write about, or your niche. Some people are going to tell you that you need to write about certain topics if you want to be successful, but I couldn’t disagree with that more.
In my experience, I’ve found this one thing to be true when choosing a niche: if you are passionate about it and you are willing to put in the work, you will be successful.
That’s all there really is to it. There isn’t some master list that says “parenting blogs make this much, finance blogs make this much, and fashion blogs make this much.” Your success is really all up to you, regardless of the topic.
The bottom line is, you have to choose a topic that you’re truly interested in because if you don’t, your readers will know.
Your writing won’t be genuine and it will definitely be obvious. There’s something out there for everybody and no matter what you write about, there will be an audience out there who wants to read it. The authenticity of your writing and your personal, unique style is what will attract readers to your blog and make them want to stay.
Step 1: Choose a Hosting Plan
The first thing you’re going to need to do is select a “host” for your blog. A web host is a company that provides the space on the Internet where your blog lives. Think of it as you being a tenant paying rent for a place to stay and your hosting provider being the landlord.
Last year was when I launched my very first blog. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing and had to figure everything out myself along the way. This year, I relaunched and I’ve learned so much since then.
My first hosting provider was HostGator. The plan I chose was relatively cheap, but I was constantly having technical issues and the customer service was…less than satisfactory. Long story short, they had to go.
I ended up switching to GoDaddy since I already had my domain with them (we’ll get into that in step #2), but they were too expensive. Finally, I ended up with SiteGround, the only company I recommend, and I’ve been so happy with the switch.
Siteground has three hosting plans to choose from:
- StartUp: this plan is perfect for new bloggers who are just starting out with one site (recommended).
- GrowBig: this is SiteGround’s best-selling plan and the plan I currently have. You can host unlimited websites and it includes features that will speed up your WordPress site.
- GoGeek: when you blow up and become the poppin’ blogger that I know you’ll be, this plan will be perfect for you. It provides the maximum amount of web space available, supports more monthly traffic, and still includes the unlimited number of sites.
Hosting plans with SiteGround start as low as $3.95/mo. Click here to choose your plan.
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
Now we get to the fun part: picking a name for your blog!
If your hosting provider is the landlord, your domain is the street address. It’s what people type into GPS to get to your house, or in this case, your new blog.
Do not spend a ton of time on this step!
My blog launch was set back literally for months because I couldn’t decide on a name. Do not do that.
If you’re completely stuck and you’re finding that you’re spending too much time brainstorming, many people simply go with firstnamelastname.com. There’s also the option of changing your domain name later if you really want to.
The benefit of choosing a niche first is that it may help to choose your domain name based on what you’re going to be writing about. That way, your audience has an idea of what they can expect from your site before they even read anything.
If you’re a step ahead and already purchased your domain somewhere else, the GrowBig and GoGeek plans offer a free website transfer. Before finally switching to SiteGround, I actually stayed with GoDaddy longer than I wanted to just because I was dreading the hassle it was going to be to get everything switched over.
I signed up for the GrowBig plan that included the free transfer and I literally went through a few steps to make the request and that was it. My site was up and running. So if you already have a domain or you’re trying to move your site over to SiteGround, GrowBig may be an option for you to consider.
Step 3: Enter Your Information
If your domain is available, you’ll receive a “Congratulations!” message and be prompted to enter your personal information and payment details.
Step 4: Choose Your Hosting Plan Length
After you enter all of your information, you’ll need to confirm your hosting plan as well as the length of the term. Siteground has slashed the prices of all of their hosting plans by 60%, so I highly recommend taking advantage of it. Several other companies only apply a discount to the longest term available, but SiteGround has a way of always looking out for their customers.
Right now, you can get your hosting out of the way for the next year for only $3.95/mo. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend paying for more than 12 months since you’re just getting started. You can always extend your term at any time.
In addition to your regular hosting plan, you can also add on SG Site Scanner, a service that monitors your website every day and notifies you of any security concerns. It isn’t a necessity, but feel free to add it on if you’d like.
After you correctly enter all information, confirm your plan terms, and submit payment, you’ve become the owner of your own domain name and web hosting plan. You’ve completed the first half of starting your blog. Now, you just need to get your site up and running on WordPress.
Step 6: Set Up WordPress
Under the ‘My Accounts’ tab, go to cPanel.
Once in cPanel, your screen should look something like the screenshot below. Under ‘Autoinstallers’ select ‘WordPress’ since that’s the platform we’ll be using.
Next, you’ll be brought to the WordPress installer screen. From there you can choose ‘Quick Install’ or ‘Custom Install.’ Quick Install will install your site using basic preset options, while ‘Custom Install’ will allow you make more customizations such as installing your site with ‘www’ in the beginning. Here’s what you’ll need to fill in:
- Choose Protocol: Usually, this is http:// unless you have an SSL set up (which SiteGround offers for free). In that case, it would be https://
- Choose Domain: Choose the domain that you set up back in Step #2
- In Directory: Leave this blank
- Site Name: What is the name of your site? (You can leave the default setting since this can be updated later)
- Site Description: Give a brief description of what your site is all about (Again, you can leave the default setting and upgrade this later)
- Admin Username: Your account username. You will need this to log in, so write it down!
- Admin Password: I highly recommend using the suggested password as it is very strong and will make it difficult for your site to be hacked. Write this down and keep it in a safe place.
- Admin Email: The email address you will be using to login
- Language: The preferred language for your site
- Choose a Theme to Install: You can leave this blank for right now. WordPress will install its default theme on your site and you can replace it with your own in the next step.
Congratulations! You officially have your own blog.
Wait a few seconds for the installation, and if there are no issues, you will have successfully installed WordPress on your site. If you run into any issues, SiteGround has an amazing customer service team that can be reached 24/7 via chat. Really, I was on the support chat at 2:00 am for an hour and a half once and the rep was so patient and helpful.
Now, it’s time to select a theme to make your site look good.
Step 7: Select a Theme
This is where you get to customize the look of your blog with a theme. You can either pay for one or choose a free one.
People have different opinions about whether you should start out with a paid (premium) or free theme, but personally, I think it’s best to start out with a free one.
After setting up WordPress, the very first thing I did was go buy a $50 theme only to realize that I wasn’t happy with it because it didn’t allow me to customize my blog the way I wanted. What a waste of money.
Take some time to feel your way around your new site and develop a vision of what you want your blog to look like. When you’re ready to make a bigger investment into your blog and know what you’re looking for, there will be tons of paid themes waiting for you.
In the meantime, here is a list of free premium WordPress themes to get you started.
Also, Creative Market is a great place to shop around, with themes starting as low as $2.
You can now use the login details you set during the installation to access the backend of your site by going to http://yournewblog.com/wp-admin.
That’s everything you need to know to start your own WordPress blog with SiteGround. That wasn’t too bad, right? The only thing left to do now is to start creating that content your audience is waiting for!
Will you be launching your own blog? Share your link with me so I can check it out!