Have you ever thought about starting your own blog to share with the world your delicious recipes?
Or maybe you’re a small business owner who decided to build better relationships with customers (and maybe attract new ones along the way).
Chances are you think creating your blog from scratch is a very difficult task, which costs a lot of money. However, that’s far from the truth.
Creating a blog is a very simple task even if you have little to no experience in building websites. If you can follow some basic instructions you can start your blog in a matter of minutes.
But, it will take a few more hours to set everything up, after that you can start dishing out content like there’s no tomorrow.
To start your own blog you need three things: domain, web hosting and a content management system (CMS for short).
1. Choosing a domain name
Your domain is one of the most important parts of your blog. Domains are used to identify online resources with a text based label rather than long numerical addresses used on the internet. What’s more memorable Google.com, or 188.8.131.52?
A long and confusing name is usually bad for business in any niche. So it’s a good idea to spend some time on brainstorming a unique, original and short name. If you need more help feel free to read this article on picking a good domain name.
Once you’ve decided on your domain name it’s time to register it using a domain registrar. There are plenty of businesses which provide such services for example GoDaddy, HostGator, BlueHost etc. I personally prefer using NameCheap.
The reason is I think quite obvious (hint: it’s in the name).
Usually .com domains are valued more than other domains, because they are the most recognised and trusted. Make sure that you go with a .com if you can. Other good options are .net, or a country domain such as .co.uk, .de, .ee, if you’re going local.
Another thing to consider before checking out is domain privacy and PremiumDNS. You can tick off PremiumDNS, because it’s an unnecessary expense when starting. But when it comes to privacy it’s up to you.
Do you want others to be able to look up your real name, address, phone number etc? In my opinion, if you’re registering a domain name for a business, you can leave that feature off. However, if you’re registering a domain name for yourself, it’s a good idea to spend on privacy protection to avoid revealing sensitive information. Once you’re done, there’s one thing I have to tell you…
You’re now a proud owner of your own domain name. But, we’re just getting started. Now we need to find a place to store all the files of your future blog. And that’s why we need a web host.
2. Picking a web host
A web host is basically a large network of computers in a secure area that works non-stop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Technically, you can host your blog on your own computer, but it requires different kind of knowledge, expensive equipment and plenty of time. In other words, it’s a bad idea.
When picking a web host you need to know a few things. All web hosting companies offer pretty much the same thing when it comes to technical stuff. For example, unlimited websites, databases, emails, 99.99% uptime etc. The only major difference between them is their support.
Through my many years online I’ve changed quite a few web hosting companies. I used HostGator, I used WestHost, I read about BlueHost and many others. But none of them can compare to my current favourite – A2 Hosting, which was actually recommended by a friend of mine, who runs a design firm here in Estonia. They have the best support period.
For both of us gone are they days when you had to sit in a queue for two and a half hours to find out that it’s not your host’s fault your website is down. Now we learn that we screwed up much faster. 🙂
You can pick which ever hosting you like, but just make sure you don’t go for their cheapest plan. Because you’ll be paying too much and getting too little in return. Usually, they have the ‘best bang for your for your buck’ plan. In case of A2 Hosting it’s their Swift plan.
Here’s a little secret I didn’t know about for a long time. Unlimited storage does not actually mean unlimited storage. It’s usually limited in the amount of the files you can host on your account. For example, the limit on my account is 600,000 files. It doesn’t matter whether the files are 1 kilobyte in size, or 1 gigabyte, I won’t be able to host more.
Pretty much every web hosting company does this. It’s a good example of marketing.
3. Setting everything up
After you got your domain and host, you need to link everything together. You need to tell your domain name where you want to host it.
To do this you need switch your domain’s default nameservers to your host’s nameservers. You can find your personal nameservers in the welcome email of your host.
It can take from 24 to 48 hours to take effect, but usually it happens much quicker.
4. Content management system
Our next step is to choose a blogging platform, or a content management system (CMS for short). When I was just starting my first website (sometime 7 years ago), I had to code every single page for every piece of content I wanted to publish.
It took significantly more time and required knowledge of HTML/CSS. But today everything is done in seconds using a CMS. Thankfully, the biggest blogging platform is absolutely free and it’s called WordPress. A lot of big websites (NewYorker, TechCrunch, Microsoft News) use that platform because of it’s reliability, security, and unlimited customisation options.
Another great thing about WordPress is ease of installation. Every proper web hosting company will let you install a WordPress blog within a few minutes.
Here’s how to do it using A2 Hosting (or any other hosting, they usually use the same system called cPanel).
Login to your cPanel.
In the search bar type ‘soft’.
Click ‘WordPress – A2 Optimized’ in the ‘Scripts’ menu.
Scroll down and press the ‘Install Now’ button.
Fill out the details.
Choose Protocol: A2 Hosting comes with free SSL, so choose https://
Choose Domain: Choose which domain you want to install your blog on. Leave as is, unless you have multiple domains.
In Directory: Do you want your blog to be the main focus of your domain (people will go too www.domain.com and land on your blog) ? Or do you want it to be an addition to an already established website (eg. www.domain.com/blog)?
This is all pretty much self explanatory, you can change these settings later.
This is the information you must keep secret and never lose. Make a screenshot, write it down, make a tattoo on your chest (not really). This is your login and password for the WordPress. If you lose that you’ll have to re-install WordPress.
Press ‘Install’ and you’re done.
5. Final steps
After installation is finished you will be able to login to WordPress admin area using the following address www.domain.com/wp-admin.
Congratulations! Now you’re a proud owner of your first blog. In addition, you now know the basics of setting everything up yourself, which will save you a lot of money in the long term. You can use that knowledge to help your friends, family and pets setup their own blogs.
Now that you have your own blog, there’s still a lot you need to do before writing your first post. For example, we need to configure your WordPress installation for best results. So when you actually publish your content, search engines will rank it higher, people will want to read it and share with their friends.
If I have missed something, or you have questions feel free to ask me in the comments below.