You’ve wanted to start a blog for a long time and you have tons of great ideas to write about. You know your topic nine ways to Sunday and everywhere you go, people ask for your expertise. You just have one problem – you don’t actually have a blog and you have no clue how to set one up. Words like domain names, hosting and HTML are geek-speak that make your eyes glaze over.
Don’t panic. Setting up a blog is super easy and the process should only take 20 minutes.
There are many free options available, and this post will walk you through the process of setting up a self-hosted WordPress blog. That means you will have your own awesomeURL.com without the words “wordpress” in the title.
A self-hosted WordPress blog will also give you access to thousands of free plugins to help you manage and promote your website. You can also choose from a variety of themes, so you don’t have to worry about having to learn how to design or code anything.
1. Sign up for a hosting account
Once you decide to set up a blog, the first thing you need to do is sign up for hosting. This is where your blog will “live.” Think of hosting like renting an apartment or a house, while your domain name (awesomeURL.com) is your address.
I highly recommend setting up your blog with Bluehost.com. I’ve been using this company for a decade now and I’ve never experienced a problem. They are a great hosting company for small and mid-sized websites.
2. Choose a Hosting Package
While you have three options to choose from – the starter, plus and business pro – I would go with the $3.95 per month starter plan, especially if you are a small to medium-sized blog. It’s easy to move up to a larger plan later if you need to.
3. Select a Great Blog Name
Once you decide on a hosting package, you will need to select a domain name. This is the www.awesomeURL.com link for your site. Don’t rush this process. Picking a name for your blog is the most important thing you will do. Feeling stuck? Click here for tips on how to How to Choose the Perfect Blog Name.
After you select your name and checked to make sure it’s available, go to the next page and type in all your information. I usually skip all the extra upgrades they offer, and you can too. The only exception is the Domain Privacy option, which guarantees that your personal address you used to sign up for your URL cannot be accessed in public records. On the next screen, you will enter your billing information and pay for your hosting plan.
4. Install WordPress
Once you’ve signed up for hosting, selected a domain name and set up your account, you will see the “Welcome to Bluehost” screen and a “Congratulations” message. The next thing you need to do is to install WordPress. This process used to be complicated, but Bluehost makes it super easy. Trust me. I still can’t figure out how to turn on our smart TVs without my 12-year-old son’s help, but this I can handle like a boss.
Scroll down and find the section titled “Website Builders” and click on the Install WordPress logo. It will take you to another screen, where you will click on the GREEN install button and select which domain you want to install WordPress. Believe it or not, you’re almost done!
5. Log into WordPress
Once your install is complete, click on the “Admin URL” link. This will take you to the WordPress login page for your new blog.
Once you log in with your username and password, you will see your WordPress dashboard. Take some time to browse around and get familiar with all the links. You can click on “All Posts” on the left side of your screen and select “Add New” and start posting right away.
There is an endless supply of free WordPress themes you can choose from for your new blog. You can go with the standard Twenty Fifteen, Twenty Fourteen or Twenty Thirteen themes easily accessible from the dashboard. When you’re starting out, don’t worry too much about what your blog looks like. Just work on posting content and building readership.
When you’re ready, there are commercial sources that offer a wide selection of WordPress themes that you can choose from. Prices for paid – or premium – themes vary widely. You can find an enormous selection under $100 with some in the $100-$200 range.