Last month a whopping 77,144,263 blog posts were published using WordPress – a free and open source blogging platform. This data does not include standalone blogs which are self-hosted, so actual numbers are much higher than that.
Blogging has become a huge part of the internet. A blog is not just a place to vent, it’s more than that. For businesses, it’s a way to build brand awareness, connect with their customers, and increase visibility across all major search engines.
For everyone else – an incredible opportunity to make extra income on the side. There are plenty of bloggers who quit their jobs to do blogging full-time. And now they’re reaping their rewards.
The beauty of blogging is that pretty much anyone can do it. Blogging does not require any special skills (although, some skills might come in handy) and it doesn’t take much money to get started.
To start a blog you only need three things:
- Short and memorable domain name
- Reliable and fast web hosting
- Blogging software, or content management system
Are you ready to start a blog? Follow this guide and you’ll be running your blog in under 18 minutes. Let’s get to it!
1. Registering a domain name
The first step is get a domain name.
What is a domain name you may ask? All websites on the internet communicate with each other using IP addresses.
An IP address serves similar function your home address does but on the internet. Every website has its own unique address. It usually looks something like this: 126.96.36.199.
Does that address look familiar to you?
Probably not because you’ve never seen it this way. However, it’s the IP address of a website no one can live without today – Google.
Domain names play an important role – they convert numerical IP addresses into letter based memorable names so it’s easier to find and access websites.
That’s why you need to learn how to choose a good domain name first.
Where to register a domain?
To register a domain you simply either need to Google for “domain name registrars”, or you can use the one I use for all my domain needs – Namecheap. The reason why I use Namecheap as my main domain registrar is pretty obvious. Cheap names.
Great prices, hassle free domain registrations, and starting May 2018 they include WhoisGuard for free with each new and existing domain name. That’s even more money saved.
You can find out why WhoisGuard is important here.
Now there will be a million of things offered for you to spend your money on but at this point you only need a domain name with free WhoisGuard.
Once you picked a perfect domain name for your new shiny blog it’s time to move on to the next step.
2. Getting a web host
Essentially, a web host is a powerful set of computers located in massive data centers all over the world. Such computers can host thousands, or even millions of websites at the same time.
That’s what we need to get our blog online. Again, there are plenty of web hosting companies, some are great, some are expensive, and some are not worth their money.
Without naming any companies, I strongly advise you to stay away from the popular cheap ones.
I’ve been online for over 7 years managing, creating and promoting websites and I’ve tried a plethora of web hosting companies.
To this day, my choice still falls on A2 Hosting because of their high reliability, competitive prices and, more importantly, impeccable customer support.
Which package to choose?
Now here comes the part that literally no one else talks about. Which package should you choose and why? Web hosting companies generally design their packages to get people to spend more.
The cheapest package usually has the least value, while still having a hefty price tag. The most expensive package has so much value that a beginner will not know what to do with it.
I always recommend going with the most popular option. In this case it’s the SWIFT package. You can always upgrade to a bigger package later if needed.
Another marketing tactic hosting companies use is offering “unlimited” everything. While it’s true that you may not run into any limits, it’s good to know that your account is actually limited in certain ways:
- Number of files you can host – 600,000
- Number of processes – 50
- Physical memory you can use – 1 GB
Domain registrar options
Next you need to tell your host you’re going to use a domain name from another registrar. You can use A2 Hosting to register domain names as well. But it’s more expensive and does not have free WhoisGuard.
Next are the configuration options for your package. Fortunately, you don’t need to fiddle here with anything. Leave it as is unless you know what you’re doing.
You only need to do two things here: choose server location and disable automatic installation of WordPress.
I’ll explain why you don’t need to use the automatic installer in a bit.
Here you need to think about where will the majority of your readers come from and pick accordingly. Server location may affect user experience (page loading times) and SEO (location based results).
Disable automatic installation of WordPress
The reason why I didn’t want you to use the automatic installer is because I want to teach you how to do it from cPanel.
cPanel is an online web hosting control panel which is used by most web hosting companies. Sometimes it may look different because that particular host runs a custom cPanel theme, but they all work the same.
Now proceed to checkout and wait for your welcome email. Do not ever delete that email as it contains all the important information about your hosting account.
Before we proceed to the final step, we need to connect our domain name with our web host. This is quite easy to do.
Simply login to the admin panel of your domain registrar and click ‘Manage‘ next to the domain you’re going to use for your blog.
Find the ‘Nameservers‘ tab and select ‘Custom DNS’. Enter the nameserver information provided in the welcome email. Usually, you are given two nameservers as one serves as a backup. Make sure you press the little green tick to save changes.
For this change to come in effect it can take up to 24 hours. However, most of the time it takes around 15 minutes, or less. In meantime, let’s move on to the final step of setting up our blog which is installing WordPress.
WordPress is a highly customizable, flexible and user-friendly content management system, or CMS for short. You can build pretty much any type of website imaginable using WordPress.
Landing pages, portfolio websites, e-commerce stores, blogs and everything in between – WordPress is more than capable. All of this can be done with no HTML, CSS, or PHP knowledge whatsoever.
When I first started fiddling with websites around 10 years ago, I had to build individual pages for my websites using HTML and CSS, which was a very time-consuming task. Now you can create pages with a few simple clicks using WordPress.
Login to cPanel
The first step is to login to your cPanel, which is usually located at https://YourDomain.com/cpanel.
Next you want to type “soft” into the search bar and look for WordPress – A2 Optimized under scripts.
WordPress – A2 Optimized is a A2 Hosting specific WordPress installation with their custom plugin, which is designed to improve performance and security of WordPress.
You can later uninstall the plugin if you don’t want to use it for some reason. However, it’s excellent for beginners.
Click that and you’ll be redirected to a Softaculous app installer.
From here click the ‘Install Now‘ button to proceed to the next screen.
Here you need to know only about a few important things:
- Always choose HTTPS protocol like shown below unless your host specifically does not provide one for free.
- Choose the domain where you want to install WordPress.
- Decide whether your blog will be in a separate directory, or on the main page (www.YourDomain.com, or www.YourDomain.com/blog). In most cases you want to leave this field empty.
Enter the name of your blog and provide a small description of what your blog is going to be about. You can edit this setting anytime you want so you can skip this step if you like.
Very important information as it allows you to enter WordPress admin area. That’s where all the magic happens.
- Username can be anything you like. Generally, you don’t want to use something like “admin” as it’s the most common username for hackers to abuse.
- Password should be as strong as possible. Use the auto-generate feature to get a strong one. Don’t lose this password.
- Email should be your main email address (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo) as it can be used to recover the password in case you lose it.
Now it’s time to hit that ‘Install’ button one last time and you’re done.
To check whether everything works simply go to www.YourDomain.com/wp-admin and try logging in.
If you see the login screen then you’ve done everything correctly, and all I have left to say is congratulations! You’re now a proud owner of your own tiny corner on the Internet.
So what did we learn today?
We learned how to register a domain name. We learned a bit about web hosting and how to change nameservers. Most importantly we learned how to install WordPress using cPanel.
This knowledge should help you save a lot of money in the long run as the majority of web hosting companies charge outrageous fees for such simple tasks.
In addition, you’re now capable of helping your friends, family, and relatives to start a blog of their own in a matter of minutes. Good luck!