*This post contains some affiliate links. What are affiliate links?
First, my assumption is that you are interested in starting a blog because you are looking to make money from your blog: Either through affiliate marketing or from your own product or service. I make this assumption first and foremost because these 8 steps involve setting up a self-hosted blog, and not a free blog.
What impact does a free versus a self hosted blog have on your business?
Big impact. For starters, you cannot advertise anything on a free platform like WordPress. You will have to abide by all their terms and conditions as far as content goes AND perhaps most importantly, you don't own your content and you can be shut down without notice at anytime.
From a business branding perspective, it will be more difficult to sell anything from a free blog than it will be from a self-hosted blog. It's just not as convincing that you are running a serious business if you are not able to invest in its set-up. There are of course some exceptions and I am not saying it can't be done. I DEFINITELY would urge you to start with a free blog if you can't afford anything else. 100% doing anything at all towards your business is at least one step in the right direction! Just do consider that the alternative is not a huge investment. Plus having to switch over later is a big P.I.T.A. My goal is to give you the right guidance on getting started right from the get-go.
I will cover costs below.
With a self-hosted blog, even if you decide to host it with WordPress (.com), you have full control of your content, your sales, your audience and your OWN terms and conditions about what you do with your business. Plus of course, it is a legitimate business platform that will add one more notch of confidence from your visitors.
That said, let's begin:
How To Start A WordPress Blog In 8 Easy Steps
Your Basic Investment: There are two basic costs involved in order to have a self-hosted WordPress blog. This cost will vary depending on where you buy your domain at and where you decide to host your blog at. Sometimes, this will be the same company but the costs are usually separated into two different products: domain and hosting. Some providers will offer them as a bundle.
Domains: You can expect to pay anywhere from $1 to $30 bucks a year for a domain (however, I have NEVER paid more than $14/year). These higher charges are definitely applicable when the domain renews, so be very vigilant on these renewal fees (a .com should never cost more than $15/year to renew). All domains will have a lower first year then a higher yearly renewal cost after that, unless you pre-purchase more than 1 year at a time. So for example, if you select GoDaddy for your domain registration and you are a NEW customer, you can expect to pay $1 or maybe $2.99 for your first year. GoDaddy typically renews at $14.99 each year after.
Hosting: In addition to your domain, you need a host to house your website content. It's like paying rent :-). Hosting will either be a monthly cost or a yearly cost. Hosting fees vary significantly between providers. It often depends on the size of your website in terms of visitor traffic or how big your website will be (how much content it will have). You will need to find a hosting package that meets those requirements for you. The good news? If you are just starting out, you will likely (95% of the time), be perfectly fine choosing the basic package that any host offers. The average basic plan cost will range between $5 to $10 a month. You will get a better deal if paid annually. The option I recommend below is $47/year through that link. Renewal costs are higher with hosting as well, so also keep that in mind.
Additional optional costs: You may incur other costs as you build your blog such as: paid themes (although there are many free ones to choose from as well), premium plugins that enhance your blog's functionality (99% of the plugins I use are free), email marketing software (to automate your subscriber building efforts), and maybe stock photography for your blog (although there are also lots of free sites out there – just be aware that when using free stock photos, your images will not be unique). All these are typically one time investments, except maybe stock photography, where having a subscription is relatively standard.
In a nutshell, if you follow my recommendations below you will pay ~$47/year for your hosting including a domain, for your first year. And that's all you need to get this going!
Here are the 8 Steps To Set Up Your Self Hosted WordPress Blog
Register a domain name. Your domain is www + name that people will type on their browsers to get to your site. Keep your domain name simple and easy to spell. If you will be branding YOU, try to find your name as your domain name. If taken, get creative with your middle name or middle initial. Either use Godaddy or SiteGround*.
Choose a hosting provider. There are SO MANY choices, I know. I chose SiteGround and was DELIGHTED with the significant improvement in both support and performance. I moved this website from another hosting provider to Siteground and I will never look back. What a difference. If you want to read about my SiteGround review, I wrote a blog about it here: Why I Switched and What I Like About Siteground.
*Pro-Tip: Siteground offers a free domain with any hosting package subscription of at least one year (use my link for a hosting discount). If you are just starting, you only need the $3.95/mo one ;-). The longer term you choose (1 year, 2 years etc…) the longer you will enjoy a lower hosting price than it's typical renewal fee.
Install WordPress. With SiteGround, this is relatively easy to do and in fact it is part of the set up. It walks you through the installation step by step. You even get to pick a free theme in the process and it will install it for you!
If you are not using SiteGround, you will likely find a WordPress auto installer inside your CPanel. Or manual options like Softaculous. These are pretty easy to use and install.
Pro Tip: Since it would be impossible to list instructions to every host, here is a quick tip. Go to Google and type in the search box something like this:
“How to install WordPress in [enter name of your host]”
Find a theme and activate it. Now that you have your WordPress blog installed, from your Administrative menu, find Appearance –> Themes and start looking for a theme you like.
Pro Tip: Enter this term “responsive” in the search field of the Themes menu to filter the Themes by those who are also mobile friendly!
Once you have found the Theme of your dreams, click install and activate! You may not see much happening since you don't have any content yet, but after step 5 below, you will see things start to take shape. Good news: you can go browse for and instantly apply a different Theme at any time!
Don't worry about changing anything about your new Theme just yet. Let's first add some content so you can get a better idea of what things will look like.
Add 3 pages of content. Find the Page –> Add New option from your left navigation menu and create your first THREE pages: About Me, My Services, Contact Me.
Create TWO blog posts. Find the Posts –> Add New option from your left navigation menu and one at a time create 2 different blog articles you wish to include in your blog. Make each one about a different subject. For example, if you are a health coach: make one about exercises and the other about healthy tips.
Pro-Tip: When you are done writing your blogs, find the Category field inside each blog (along the right side) and add a category name under which you wish to file the post. These categories will help your readers later find content related to specific topics that you cover in your blog. It will also help keep your blog organized and focused!
Adjust your Theme's options. Now that you have some content, go ahead and change some colors and fun stuff around. Many free themes offer a set of customizable options for you to choose from.
If you are not happy with the extent of customization the free Themes you are finding offer, and you are feeling determined, let's find a PREMIUM theme instead. Premium themes offer much more flexibility and better yet, a support community, to help you achieve your desired results. My favorite Theme to use is Divi by Elegant Themes. You will be able to do just about ANYTHING with Divi. It allows you to layout your pages anyway you want (instead of the standard one column WordPress look). There is a little learning curve but the Divi online community is VERY helpful.
There are other places to find premium themes at. Here are a couple other themes and places where you can buy them:
- Oxygen Page Builder for WordPress
- Pretty Darn Cute Designs Themes for Creatives
- Creative Market WordPress Themes
Pro-Tip: Once you purchase a premium theme you will receive a .zip file. To upload this theme to your WordPress blog, navigate to Appearance –> Themes and click on the Upload New Theme button at the top, then search for the Theme .zip file that you downloaded to your folders. Once installed, activate the theme and you are good to go!
Share your content! Well, ok maybe you need about 5 blog posts created before you start sharing your blog, but you are well on your way! When you are ready, go to one of your published blog posts and copy its full URL and then paste it on your favorite text based social media network like Facebook or Twitter. If you are more of an Instagram or Pinterest user, don't worry, you can still share your content there by creating an appropriately sized image for either using Canva.
Bonus Tip: Depending on your Theme, the Home Page of your new blog will either point to one of your pages OR to a “blog” page where your latest posts will be listed. You can switch from your home page displaying these different styles by going to your left navigation menu under Settings –> Reading and changing the first set of Front Page Display options to either a specific page or select “your latest posts”. If you have not yet decided on a creatively designed Home Page, I recommend you stick to the ‘latest posts' option. You can easily switch this back and forth anytime you want.
That's it. Simple as that. As you get more practice you can also start learning how to create graphics to add to your blog posts and make them more fun, create a logo for yourself and start adding plugins that will further enhance the functionality of your blog! Here is a list of the plugins I use. All of those are free.
If you'd like to watch my VIDEO TUTORIALS on how to set up your WordPress blog with SiteGround AND how to install a theme, come check out my How To Start a Blog series.