I’ve been connecting with a lot of bloggers using Blogger, Weebly, and sites like that to start their blog. I myself started on Blogger. The thing is, a lot of these people are also realizing it’s not too safe to fully depend on a 3rd party website. If you’re going to get serious about making money online, it’s just smarter to set up a self-hosted website.
The main reasons people don’t are:
- They’re worried it’ll be too complicated.
- They’re worried it’ll cost too much.
Setting up your first blog can be difficult but you can actually put them together fairly easily with WordPress. You can install it onto your website and have a blog up and ready in a few minutes. It’s very user friendly, though it may take you some time to get used to where everything is, but there are also tutorials online for EVERYTHING WordPress.
As for the cost, I recently saw a site asking for $40/month to set up and host a blog… and people were doing it! That’s crazy. For a basic blog your costs will be:
- $5-14/month for hosting.
- $4-12/year for a domain name.
- The cost of any paid themes or plugins you choose to buy. There are plenty of free options if you can’t afford any of that yet.
So, I’m going to walk you through the first steps.
Buying Your Domain Name
The first thing you’ll need is your domain name. That’s the name that goes in your URL. Here are a few tips for picking a domain name.
- Try not to get something too long. I actually regret this domain name because it’s long and annoying to type.
- Getting your name as your domain name can help with branding yourself as an expert.
- Exact keyword domain matches aren’t nearly as good as they used to be. You can choose to get a keyword in your name, but don’t feel like you have to.
- Go with something memorable. When my fiance got his he picked “OtaStuff.com” because it’ll be memorable for people within his niche – the type of name that people will pass on by word of mouth.
- Go with .com if you can. If you need to go with .net that’s fine, but by default most people will type .com when they try manually go to your website.
- Don’t think too hard on it. If you’re stuck, just pick something related to your niche! The content is what is most important. It’s what the visitors will come there and keep coming back for.
There are a lot of places you can buy domain names but I always go with Namecheap. They always have a coupon code for a discount. They give you free “Whois Guard” for your first year with the domain (it keeps people from looking up your private information when they search the domain), and unlike sites like GoDaddy they don’t throw tons and tons of upsells at you.
The August 2013 code is FUNINTHESUN.
Click here to go to NameCheap and check out domains available.
Signing Up for Hosting
I’m going to put this in big letters because it’s so important.
DO NOT GET YOUR DOMAIN NAMES AND HOSTING FROM THE SAME COMPANY!
It can cause soooo many issues! If you ever want to change your hosting down the road there are companies known for making you give up your domain when you close the account.
Some hosting companies will use their own contact information when registering the domain for you and not give you full control over the domain settings. It’s just not worth the struggle. It’s much better to go to a domain registrar for domains and a hosting company for hosting.
Okay, so onto hosting.
I use HostGator for my hosting. A lot of people will recommend them. I’ve been with them since I got started and they don’t raise the prices on you, the hosting has pretty low downtime, and their customer service has always been great.
I’ve contacted their live support for things that weren’t even on their end and they helped me find the answer. One time my sites slowed down and they even moved my stuff to a faster server because of it. I won’t go anywhere else for hosting now.
I highly suggest getting the plan for unlimited domains. It’s not much more expensive and it’ll give you more options as you continue growing your online business.
Here are some coupon codes you can use at HostGator:
- $9.94 off of your first month of hosting – AmandaSentMe
- If you’re paying for multiple months, get 25% off – AmandaSentMe25Off
If HostGator doesn’t look right for you, I know a lot of people who swear by BlueHost.
When you sign up you’ll get a place to put in your domain name and all of that. Once you have access to your cPanel (meaning you’re fully signed up) we can move on.
Forwarding Your DNS
This sounds harder than it is. This is how you get your domain name and hosting “speaking.” When someone goes to your domain name the DNS is how they find the content that is supposed to display. Until you do this you won’t be able to work on your website.
These instructions are for NameCheap. If you go with someone else for your domain name you’ll need to contact support.
Log in to your NameCheap account and click “Manage Domains.” At the bottom there will be “Quickly Modify Domain” where you can type in your domain name and get to the settings.
On the left there will be a “Transfer DNS to Web Host” option. Click that.
You’ll see 5 empty boxes to type stuff in. Go to your email and grab the DNS addresses you got from your hosting company. There will probably be two. Just copy/paste those in and save!
The downside of this is that it can take up to 48 hours for them to “propagate” meaning you can’t work on your site during that time. When I setup my first site it took 12 hours. Every site after that has been around 10 minutes.
If you struggle anywhere along the way, leave me a comment or send me an email and I’ll help you figure it out.
I’m going to go over the easy way to do this. If you want to manually install it, I suggest this tutorial.
Log into your WordPress cpanel. You’ll find the information for that in your email from your hosting company. Scroll down until you find an icon that is a blue smiley and says “Fantastico.”
On the left side click “WordPress” then “New Installation.”
Select your domain from the drop down menu. Leave directory blank. There are reasons you’d add a directory, but if you’re just setting up a blog you can just leave it blank.
For the admin information, DON’T choose “admin” for your username. So many people do this and it’s a huge security risk. You’ve already given half of the information to the hacker that way! Pick a secure username and password combo.
You can change the rest later so you can put whatever you want in those slots but make sure your admin email is one you’ll use. (This tutorial will show you how to set up an email address through your domain, like how mine is amanda[at]plrcontentmarket.com.)
Click “Install WordPress” and go through the prompts until it tells you to go to log into your WordPress panel!
You Have a WordPress Blog!
At this point you are ready to log into WordPress and work on your site! The login page will likely be http://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin so check it out! If your DNS hasn’t propagated yet you won’t be able to see it yet.
Once you login you can install themes and plugins, change settings, and add posts! Take some time to look around.
Tomorrow I’ll post up a list of recommended plugins (free and paid) worth installing.
If you have any questions, let me know!