How to Start a Blog with WordPress
Have you ever wanted to start a blog but didn’t, because you thought it was extremely complicated? Fortunately, it’s not. Starting your own blog from scratch takes less than 30 minutes, and I am going to walk you through the whole process.
Of course, you can always use a service like Squarespace, which doesn’t require much knowledge. You just drag and drop stuff you want on your website and you’re good to go. But where’s the fun in that?
While these services are easy to use they are severely lacking in features and customization options. Some of them have a free option, but it’s usually filled with ads you have no control over. This is done to force you to upgrade to a premium account.
In other words, it’s not worth wasting your time on that, considering how cheap it is to start a blog today.
My goal is to show you the whole process of setting up setting everything up in less than 30 minutes. The process consists of three steps: register your domain name, choose a web hosting company, install a blogging platform.
This knowledge will allow you to create multiple websites either for you, or your friends. In fact, it will probably save you hundreds of dollars in setup fees many hosting companies charge.
1. Registering your domain name
The first step is registering your own domain name. A domain name is the name of your website, which people will try to remember, and use to access your website by typing it into the address bar of a web browser. The reason we use names instead of numbers is because it’s easier to remember.
For example, here’s an address of a very popular website 18.104.22.168. Can you guess which website it is?
It’s Google (pinged from Estonia, yours will be different). Obviously, remembering Google.com is easier than some random numbers.
With all that new knowledge you need to carefully consider what your new website will be called.
How do you choose a domain name? A great domain name is short, memorable and easy to spell.
Great, but where do you get one?
There are plenty domain registrars available today. Many web hosts also provide the option of registering a domain name. Generally, domains cost around $10 – $15 per year, and the price can go up and down depending on the TLD (top-level domain, the ending after the dot).
Personally, I register all my domain names using NameCheap. It’s a great service with very competitive prices.
Once you’ve found a worthy domain, we need to go over a few options before you checkout.
You’ll be given a few options. It’s good to know what they do so you can decide whether you need them or not. You can get WhoisGuard and PremiumDNS along with your registration. But what are these features for?
What is WhoisGuard?
When you register any domain name you’re obligated to provide real information, real email, home address, phone number etc. If you want this information to be protected from easy access it’s a good idea to get WhoisGuard. This is what a whois lookup looks like when protected by WhoisGuard.
What is PremiumDNS?
PremiumDNS provides additional reliability, speed and DDoS protection, which means your website will be available worldwide even during outages and hacker attacks. PremiumDNS is optional, however, I think it’s a great feature, considering it costs around $5 a year.
After considering these options you’re free to proceed with your order.
Now you’re a proud owner of your own domain name and one step closer to starting a blog.
Let’s move on to the next step.
2. Choosing a web host
The next thing you need to start a blog is a web host. A web host stores files on a very protected, reliable and extremely fast data center, which allows everyone to access your website from all around the world, at any time, all the time.
There are many hosting providers but all you need to know about them is that they are all pretty much the same. Most of them follow a basic pricing structure: ‘very cheap’, ‘most popular’, and ‘you don’t need even half of this stuff’.
The cheapest package
The cheapest package is not worth the money, because you’re paying too much for too little. There are almost no situations where the cheapest package would be worth your consideration. Unless, you really, really want to save a few bucks.
The most popular package is usually the best bang for your buck because it promises you ‘unlimited’ everything.
The good news is that you may have many websites without any additional costs. The bad news is that ‘unlimited’ does not actually mean unlimited. Most accounts are limited by the amount of files they can store.
For example, my ‘unlimited’ package allows me to have 600,000 files on the server. So theoretically, I can reach my storage limit by having 600,000 1 byte files.
In other words, it’s just a marketing gimmick, which hosting companies use to make their most profitable packages look more enticing than they actually are.
Stuff you don’t need
The most expensive package usually has a lot of cool features, which you don’t need, unless you know what you’re doing. And if you do know, then why are you reading this?
With all that said, what’s the actual difference between hosting companies if they are all technically the same? Well, it all comes to customer support. If you don’t want to spend 4 hours waiting in a queue waiting for a response about a simple question, then it’s generally better not to choose the cheapest provider.
Trust me, I’ve tried many web hosting companies, including cheap ones and it’s not a pleasant experience. My current host was recommended by a friend of mine who runs a web design company.
I’ve been using them for 3 years since then, and I am not going to switch any time soon. That’s why I highly recommend A2 Hosting as your first web host. You will not be disappointed.
Choose your package
As I explained earlier, the best bang for your buck is the most popular package. In case of A2 it’s their SWIFT package. With this package you can create as many websites as you like. Realistically, it’s very difficult to hit 600,000 files, unless you do it on purpose. If you get tired of one website, you’ll be able easily create another one. Just some future proofing.
Here you need to choose the option of using an existing domain name, since we registered our domain with another service. Later we will update the nameservers so our domain provider and web host are linked together.
Additional configuration options
Before checking out you’ll see a few additional options. You don’t need anything extra. By default all packages come with SSL, which is great both for security and search engine optimization.
The only thing you must do is choose server location.
If you know for a fact that your main traffic source will be English speaking population then pick a US server (doesn’t really matter which you pick).
However, if you’re starting a blog for a local small business, or to target your local area then it’s a good idea to pick the closest server to you. This should make loading times significantly better for your audience.
On the other hand, the problem of slow loading times can be also fixed using content delivery networks, but I don’t think we need to worry about this right now, as they are additional expenses.
Now you can checkout.
3. Linking your domain
After you’ve successfully checked out, you should receive a welcome email from your web host. This is the most important email, because it contains all the information required to run your internet empire.
In that email you’ll find nameservers which you need to update your domain with.
Now you need to login to your NameCheap account. On the dashboard click ‘manage’ next to your domain.
Scroll down until you see ‘nameservers’ and choose ‘custom DNS’ and change that your new nameservers. Make sure you add both of them.
Click the green tick to save these changes.
The change won’t occur instantly, it can take up to 24 hours, but usually happens within an hour.
We’re almost done setting up our blog. We only have one step left which is installing blogging software.
4. Installing blogging software
What’s the difference between a blog and a website? Blogs usually get updated on a constant basis with new articles, images, links and so on. Meanwhile, a basic website generally stays static.
To make a bloggers’ life easy developers have created content management systems (CMS for short), which make the task of creating additional pages with lots of different content a breeze.
Just 14 years ago this process required you to code each individual page by hand, which took a lot of time. Now it’s done automatically in a matter of seconds.
The most popular blogging platform in the world is WordPress. There are many reasons for it – it’s free, search engine friendly, easy to use, and highly customizable. Just take a look at the most recent statistics for content management systems. More than 30% of all websites run on WordPress.
To install WordPress login to your cPanel (login information is in the welcome email). You can access cPanel by going to www.yourdomainname.com/cpanel
In the search field type “soft” and Softaculous App Installer should pop up.
Inside the app find ‘WordPress’ under ‘Blogs’ on the left sidebar and click ‘Install Now’.
A configuration window should appear and here we need to change only a few things.
First, you need to decide whether you want your blog to appear inside a directory, or not.
For example, right now my blog is setup that way if you type www.pixelprofits.net you’ll be able to access the blog itself. But if you would like your domain to have homepage separate from your blog, you can install it inside a directory like ‘blog’. Otherwise, leave everything as is.
Next you can enter the name of your blog. It’s not obligatory, because you’ll be able to change this information later. But feel free to fill this information out if you like.
Your admin account is very important, because if you forget this information you will not be able to restore it. You’ll have to reinstall everything from scratch, so make sure you use your main email (gmail, or whichever you use), not the suggested email. Later, you’ll be able to create as many email accounts as you like.
After you’ve written down your admin information you can hit ‘Install’. To test if everything is working properly try logging in into the admin area by going to www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin
That’s it! You’re done!
Now you know exactly how to start a blog from scratch. This process is identical on pretty much all web hosts that run cPanel. This knowledge allows you to setup as many websites as you like. You can try installing a new blog inside a directory, or on a subdomain. Or you can even help your friends setup their blogs.
Hopefully, this was helpful and you’ll start a blog immediately after reading this tutorial.
If you have any questions, or the guide is lacking somewhere, please don’t hesitate to ask below!