By Holly Reisem Hanna
One of the biggest concerns for me when I launched my blog was what platform to use. I knew I had to purchase a domain name and hosting, but how to bring them together and make them work was a mystery to me. Because I was a new to tech world, I knew I wanted something easy, yet something that looked professional. However, the easy solutions that were already put together looked amateurish and unprofessional.
Because of this, I decided to hire a graphic designer to help me with the logistics of uploading WordPress to my host and to create a custom theme for me.
I had never worked with a graphic designer and knew nothing about how the design process was supposed to work. I ended up paying for all of her services upfront and sadly for me it was a costly mistake ($600 which did not include hosting costs or a domain purchase). After months of waiting for her to complete the work, she stopped communicating with me completely. Left with an incomplete blog, I had to find a web programmer to fix what she had left undone (another $150).
From start to finish it took four months to complete my blog. A process that I was initially told would take 6-8 weeks. Starting a blog doesn't have to be slow, expensive, or a hassle. In fact, if I had to do it all over again this is how I’d do it.
Step 1: Setup Your Hosting Account
When I set up my hosting account, there were so many steps involved. I had to decide between a Linux or Windows account, then there was the whole separate c-panel, and FTP, that I was totally lost. Save yourself a headache and use Bluehost. They have made the process so simple, anyone can do it, no tech experience needed. Besides being simple Bluehost offers 24-7 support via phone, email, and chat — which you’ll want should you ever encounter a problem. They’re also affordable ($3.95 to $6.95 a month, plus a free domain), which is a huge plus if you’re launching your blog on a shoestring budget.
For step 1 all you have to do is go to Bluehost.com and click on green “get started now” button – easy peasy.
Step 2: Select Which Hosting Plan You Want
With Bluehost, there are three hosting options to choose from, Basic for $3.95/month, Plus for $6.95/month, or Prime for $14.95/month. If you have the funds, I’d suggest going with the Plus Plan, because you get more unlimited features; and as your website grows you can switch to a more robust plan.
When you choose a domain name you’ll want to follow three simple rules:
1. Keep it simple. Refrain from words that are hard to spell or remember.
2. Use a dot.com – .com is what most people remember when typing in a web address.
3. Beware of words with multiple spellings: example: to, two, or too.
Once you’ve decided on a domain name type it into the search box and click next to see if it is available. You may need to brainstorm a few ideas to get the keywords and .com that you want, but don’t worry you’ll find one that works.
When you find your domain name, you’ll need to create your Bluehost account which includes name, address, phone number, and email address.
After you have your account created, you’ll be directed to a page where you need to select your hosting package. You can choose to pay for your hosting in a 12 month period, 24 month period, or a 36 month period — the longer the plan, the cheaper your price. Next, add your payment info and wait for an email confirmation of registration – this only takes a minute or two.
Step 5: Install WordPress
The awesome thing about Bluehost is they make installing WordPress a snap! No tech background needed. Once you’re registered with Bluehost, you’ll receive an email with your c-panel login credentials (Don’t worry, c-panel is short for control panel and once you log in it’s a couple of clicks to install WordPress).
Once you’re logged in you’ll get a popup screen that says, install WordPress or concrete5, just click on the green “Install WordPress” button. Next, it will ask you which domain you’d like to install WordPress on — choose your domain from the drop-down box and click on the green button, “Check Domain.” When the install starts, you’ll get a screen that says, “Ok, we’re setting up WORDPRESS for you!”
When the install is finished, you’ll get a status update: Installation Complete. On this page, you’ll also get your WordPress login credentials – use these to log in to your new blog, congrats! From beginning to end it takes about 15 – 20 minutes to register, pay, and install.
Now, you may be wondering if it’s difficult to navigate WordPress and I can tell you from experience it’s not. If you can navigate around a Word Document — you’ll be just fine.
When you log in to WordPress, there are some free design templates/themes (on the left-hand side under, appearance) that you can use to customize your site. However, if you’re willing to spend $35 – $199 you can get stylish, professional looking theme that will make you stand out from the crowd. You can either purchase a theme from the Marketplace (located on the left-hand sidebar in WordPress), or you can purchase a theme through Thesis or StudioPress (they have a much larger design selection than the Marketplace).
The process of customizing your blog will take some time (probably a few days), but it’s super easy and fun, and no professional designer is needed. In fact, when I did my site redesign this year, I purchased a theme from StudioPress. I can't tell you how much I love it, it's so easy to modify, and it only took a few days to get everything into place.
Step 7: Profiting From Your Blog
There are so many ways to earn money from your blog, from direct ad sales and ad networks to affiliate marketing and digital earning – so make sure to check out these must-read articles.
- Ways to Make Money Blogging
- How to Get Companies to Purchase Advertising Space on Your Blog
- Increase Your Blog’s Money Making Potential with Affiliate Marketing
- How to Get Your First Blog Advertiser
And make sure to grab my FREE blogging e-book, where you'll learn tips for creating awesome content, getting traffic, and monetizing your blog.
Good luck on your blogging journey — keep me posted.
Do you want to start a blog? What questions do you have about the setup process? Drop me a note below and I'll respond to your question personally.
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