So you want to start a blog. When you first decide a blog, it all seems so simple. You’ll just write something, anything, post it online and then other people will read it and shower you with praise on how interesting or inspirational or intellectual you are.
You sit down at your computer to write, bang out the first post that gave you the great idea in the first place, and then you sit back and…panic.
Wait, where do you publish your blog? Does it cost money? What do you call it? What do you write about when your first few article ideas are done and you have no idea what people are interested in? How do you get people to read your site?
Don’t worry – we’ve all been there!
This moment is an important one, as how you navigate these questions will have an influence on your success in meeting your future blogging goals.
Many people give up at this point, as it all seems like too much effort when all they really had was one post idea anyway.
Some people put their first post on a site like WordPress.com and try to learn as they go and play around a bit. This isn’t a terrible idea, as it’s how many bloggers started, but it wastes a lot of time.
Few people take their time before they start to really understand how to start a blog properly to give them maximum control over their success later on.
Lucky for you, you’ve found this guide on how to start a blog, so you’re going to know all of the important bits before you even get that first post up.
A Technical Guide on How to Start a Blog
No matter what your ideas are for your blog title and niche, the first questions you need to answer are:
a) do you want to make money from this blog – yes or no?
b) how much control do you want over your blog’s design – a lot or a little?
There are no right answers, here. You may just want to blog for your family and friends, or even just for yourself, and you’re not concerned with making money or fiddling with the design.
If you answer “no” to A and “a little” to B, then you’re best off setting up a free blog hosted on WordPress.com. The guide to that can be found here.
However, if you’ve answered “yes” to A and/OR “a lot” to B, you’re going to want to start a self-hosted blog.
What is a self-hosted blog?
A self-hosted blog means that you have paid a hosting company (I use Siteground, but more on that in a minute) to ‘host’ your blog’s content on the internet. This is NOT a domain name that the public sees, but rather a company that basically gives you storage and some ‘room’ on the internet to upload your photos, post your words, etc. Good ones will also provide excellent support if you need help with your website.
Having a self-hosted blog means that you can monetize your blog from the beginning, as you are not bound by WordPress.com’s rules on advertising (namely, no ad networks and other restrictions). It also means that you can be more in charge of the way your design looks.
Keep in mind that self-hosted blogs can still use WordPress, but the self-hosted version is “WordPress.org.” This can be slightly confusing, so here’s a page that shows you the differences. Read on to “How to Start a Self-Hosted Blog” to find out how to get the version of WordPress you need on your site.
Do I Really Need to Go Self-Hosted?
Some people wonder if it’s better to start off with a WordPress.com blog so you can fiddle around a bit and find your feet before jumping into the ‘big leagues.’ In my opinion, if you have the money for hosting (and this can be a very reasonable cost via Siteground), I would immediately start with a self-hosted blog. It means that you won’t have to worry about redirecting your site later on, and you can learn the skills you need on the same platform the entire time.
How to Start a Self-Hosted Blog (Step by Step)
While it may sound daunting, setting up a self-hosted blog is extremely easy. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Sign up for a hosting plan through one of the many hosting companies. My favorite, tried and tested, option is Siteground. You can read more about their different hosting options here. I would always start with the smallest one, and then you can grow as needed. Siteground operates around the world, so you can sign up wherever you are!
I’ve been with them since the beginning of my self-hosted journey, and could not recommend them enough. The number of times I’ve needed support from them and they’ve come in to save the day — worth it!
Siteground‘s plans start from around $3.95 per month, which is basically the price of a Starbucks coffee, so if you can afford that, you can afford a self-hosted blog! Please feel free to as ask me if you have any questions — I seriously love them!
Once you’ve chosen your hosting plan, you’ll be asked if you already have a domain name or if you need one. A domain name is what you see in the URL of any blog. Mine is www.budgetingtofreedom.com, for example. Read more here on how to buy a domain name. I would recommend to buy a domain from someone other than Siteground, as it will likely be cheaper.
After you’ve filled in your domain name, you’ll be taken to the payment and account information page to complete the order. Make sure to make a password you will actually remember, as I’ve had to reset my Siteground account countless times because I didn’t follow my own advice!
Once you’re into your account, you’ll see a homepage that looks like this. Go to the “Support” tab.
Scroll down to the bottom and find this message.
Finally, click on “Proceed to Chat” and ask your support team member to install WordPress.org on your site. They’ll do the bulk of the work for you and just ask which passwords you want. There are instructions to install it yourself, but I don’t see the point when they will do it for free anyway!
Once you’ve got WordPress installed on your account, you’re all set to go!