If you don’t know what platforms, self-hosting and domain are, you can read this other post that will help you understand all that.
If you just want to get going, this initial blog setup process will take you about 30 minutes. Easy! (Designing everything just the way you want it will take longer than that, but you can have your site up and running on the world wide web in 30 minutes…ish.)
Here’s how to start your self-hosted wordpress blog.
Step 1: Signup for Hosting & Domain
There are lots of different hosting providers that will work with a wordpress blog. I recommend Bluehost for people who are at the beginning of blogging OR who plan to start a blog on the side as a hobby. When I first switched from Blogger to WordPress, I started on Hostgator. After less than a year, I moved to Bluehost (the move was a huge hassle), and was happy with Bluehost’s pricing and customer service.
Full Disclosure: I do not use Bluehost anymore. You can read my completely honest review of Bluehost and why I recommend them for beginning bloggers even though I don’t use Bluehost anymore.
Here are 7 reasons I recommend Bluehost for beginners:
- Support: Bluehost has 24/7 support. I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes to live chat someone, and most of the time it’s just 1 or 2. The chat support people are very knowledgeable and helpful.
- Reliable: Bluehost claims 99.9% “up time” – meaning time where your site is up. I have seen my site go down a few times, but that will happen with any cheap server option.
- Easier: There are tons of tutorials about how to do anything and everything on Bluehost. Honestly though, everything behind the scenes is complicated to someone who isn’t a tech nerd. If your website takes off, or if it’s part of your business, you’ll eventually want to pay someone to do your hosting and geek stuff for you.
- WordPress recommends them.
- Most of the “big” blogs I know recommend Bluehost.
- Cheap. Depending on what plan you do, rates start at $3.95-5.95/ month and then go up to $7.99 after 1-3 years. [It’s only 2.95/ month TODAY on Cyber Monday if you pay for 36 months up front!]
- Money Back Guarantee: Bluehost offers a 30-day money back guarantee. And it works. So, if during the setup process you change your mind for some reason, you can of course get your money back! No questions asked.
Bonus reason – Bluehost doesn’t allow pornography on its servers. Most main server companies do. Go Bluehost!
[Side note – I am a bluehost affiliate, meaning I earn a small commission on referring you to bluehost. But, every hosting company has an affiliate program, so that didn’t influence my decision to recommend bluehost. It’s just the company I personally used for a long time, and therefore, it’s the one I recommend. Like I said, I even went through the hassle of switching TO bluehost from hostgator!]
I will walk you through this process step by step. It’s not difficult.
Advance notice: you can “x” out of any additional popup offer during the setup. We’ll be saying no to all of them today.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- The internet
- Domain name ideas (if you don’t know what a domain is, read this short explanation.)
- A credit or debit card
With Bluehost, once you choose “get started now,” you’ll see an option to pick a new domain name or transfer one you already own. You can purchase and research domains through other sites like Godaddy or Namecheap or Google. But, it’s simpler and cheaper to just get it through Bluehost. If you already own your own domain, no big deal. There will be an extra step at the end.
Assuming you don’t already own a domain, start typing ideas in the new domain box.
Eventually you’ll land on one that’s available – be creative! If you do own a domain name already, enter it in the box on the right and click “next.”
Once you find an available domain, you’ll be led to a page where you can enter account info: name, address, email, etc… Enter it all in.
Choose whether you want 1, 2, or 3 years of hosting paid up front. I don’t recommend any of the add-ons. (The one you might want to purchase is site backup pro. It’s pretty easy to manually backup your site, but if you really don’t want to worry about that then you could add that on for $24/ year and have it done for you.)
Enter your billing info, check the little box and voila! You have hosting and a domain 🙂
On the special offers page, scroll down and click “no thanks.”
Step 1b: Finishing Up Bluehost Stuff
Click “create your password”
I suggest generating a password with their system and copying/pasting it somewhere onto your computer (not the cloud/interwebs). You really don’t want this to get hacked. Whatever password you do, make sure it gets rated “excellent.”
Once you’ve saved your password somewhere, click the little box and hit ‘continue.’
The next page should auto fill your domain.
Paste your password in & allow your browser to save/ remember it so you don’t have to find that computer document every time 🙂
Once you hit submit, you should be into your Bluehost account.
Setting up hosting was the hardest part. The next step is to install wordpress and set up your site. Bluehost makes this SO easy, another reason I love them.
You will probably see a pop up offer for bluehost to show you how to setup your site. You can ignore that if you’re going to read the rest of this post.
Step 2: Install WordPress
Did I mention Bluehost makes this really easy?
The second menu down on the top of the page should say: home | cpanel | performance | email ….
Click the install wordpress icon (be patient while it loads).
When a new page appears, click the green ‘install’ button.
It should show you the option to install wordpress on the correct domain. Make sure this is the domain you’re wanting to work with. Then, check the box verifying you have read the terms and conditions and click “install” again. (If you purchased your domain elsewhere before today, then you will see a green box talking about that. It’s okay. Ignore that. Click install anyway. We’ll fix that at the end.)
It shouldn’t take too long to install. Be patient. You can browse themes while you wait or close out of that pop up offer.
Once the orange bar says “your install is complete,” click the button at the top that says “view credentials.”
You should see a red box with the word “credentials.” To the right of that red box, click view.
A new page will appear that says “step 1. Access your New WordPress site”
Copy & paste the information underneath there (your URL, Admin URL, username & password.) It makes sense to store it in the same document on your computer that you put your other password in earlier. Bluehost will also email you this information.
Click the admin URL to be taken to your WordPress Admin login. Enter the username & password you just copied and pasted, and login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
If you see the wordpress admin page, skip the next paragraph and go down to the section titled, “write a post.”
Extra Step: If you already owned your domain
If you already owned your domain before today, it won’t let you go to wordpress quite yet. You’ll need to first point your domain to the Bluehost nameservers, and the process will depend on what site you have it registered with. Bluehost describes this process here.
- Go to the site your domain is registered with
- Find your account page that lists your domain.
- There should be some sort of way to “manage” your domains.
- You want to find something that talks about nameservers. There will probably be 2 listed.
- You should be able to manage or edit or set or ______ [whatever word they use] the nameservers in some way.
- Then you’ll change the nameservers to bluehost’s nameservers.
Click save or update if necessary, and then logout.
It takes 24-48 hours to process (or propogate) this change. Sometimes it goes faster.
Once it processes, you’ll be able to setup your wordpress site.
Step 2b: A Little More About WordPress
Once you login to wordpress, what you see is called the Dashboard. WordPress users sometimes call this the “back end” of the site. This is the part that only you can see. You can always access it by going to yourdomain.com/wp-admin and logging in. When other people go to yourdomain.com, they’ll see the “front end” of your site which is your website. If you log out and go to yourdomain.com, you should be able to see what everybody will see if they were to go to your site right now. Go ahead – you know you want to try it 🙂
Does it look as boring as this?
Not as flashy as you were hoping for? That’s okay. I’ll walk you through choosing and installing a “theme” that will make the design of the site look like what you want.
You can get as custom or as generic as you want.
Step 3: Get a Theme/ Design
“Theme” is the word blogger people use for what you think of as the design of the site. The look. You install a theme and then customize it to make it look the way you want.
WordPress.org has tons of free themes you can browse once your site is setup.
My current design is from Pretty Darn Cute Designs, whom I highly recommend. They have some super cute designs!
I have also used designs from Solo Pine and Restored 316 Designs. Both were a good experience and have good tutorials and customer service. For total blog beginners, I’d recommend Solo Pine because their designs are inexpensive and the purchase comes with 6 months of site support. I had SO MANY questions about customizing certain features and they always responded quickly. You can check out their designs here!
The nice thing about purchasing a theme that comes with some support is the support! Themes can cost $30 or $300. I went the paid-but-inexpensive route. You can get nice looking themes for free, but then you have to figure out every customization feature by yourself. Paying $30-$75 for a theme can go a long way in maintaining your sanity and getting the design you want without knowing a lot of web design code.
Whatever theme you go with, here’s how you get it on your site:
- Download it.
- In your wordpress dashboard, go to appearance –> themes
- Click “add new” at the top
- Click “upload theme”
- Click “choose file” and find the file on your computer.
- Click install.
Done. Click “view site” or logout and go to yourdomain.com. You should see the basic version of your new theme now!
Annnnnddd our super-awesome-detailed-step-by-step tutorial for how to start a blog is done.
Phew. Great job! Comment below if you have any questions! I read and respond to each one 🙂
Feel free to check out these resources too…
If you want to learn more about wordpress…
Other Extra Resources
Weekly Fun For Your Inbox!
It's almost as good as snail mail from a friend...