Steps for Setting Up Your First Self-Hosted Blog

blogI’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 “” 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.


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.

Installing WordPress

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]

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 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!

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  1. Wow Amanda! What a great tutorial on setting up a blog! I wish I’d read this when I was setting up my first wp blog! I know this will help so many people.
    Dayna Camp recently posted..Do You Have a Sense of Urgency in Your Business?My Profile

    • I’m sure support was getting tired of me after two hours of making them walk me through everything step by step when I didn’t even know what questions to ask. lol

  2. Amanda, this was a very informative and concise post for someone who has never set up a blog before. Sometimes we forget that not everyone has set up a self hosted blog before.
    Adrienne Dupree recently posted..Twitter Analytics ToolsMy Profile

    • Ya, I’ve been writing for some 3rd party sites and a lot of people there only write for sites they don’t own. When I asked why most said they didn’t even know where to start so I figured I’d help them out.

  3. This is great. When I tried a while back, I gave up because I couldn’t figure out the steps to get it done and support probably had nightmares about me then. Seeing it in black and white print helps me much more than words flying at me when I’m already frustrated. I know once I do it, it’ll be easy. Love your blog/site!

  4. This is a great guide and so much easier than it seems, I use blogger, is it the same with blogger or are they completely different?

    • They are completely different. Blogger and aren’t self hosted blogs. This is, which you install on your hosting. It’s how you create a site that you own so you don’t need to worry about someone like Google deleting it (which can happen with Blogger).

  5. Unfortunately the easy way of setting up WordPress is not the most secure. You should really set it up manually and change the wp_ database names to something else other than the default to make your blog secure.

    I no longer use Fantastico to set up any blog. It’s manual or nothing. 🙂
    Bonnie Gean recently posted..Video Sunday – Episode #32My Profile

  6. When I set up my first self-hosted blog, I followed a YouTube tutorial. I got it set up fine, but the man doing the tutorial suggested using “admin” for log in name.

    You’re right about what you said about it giving hackers half of the info they’d need. I don’t use “admin” as my log in anymore.

    Bonnie, I’d appreciate a tutorial on manual installation too. I always use the five minute installation method, and I know that’s not the most secure, but I’m not real comfortable yet with fiddling around with all the files in my directory, etc.
    Becky@OrangeKittyPLR recently posted..Halloween PLR ArticlesMy Profile

  7. Oh, where were you when I fumbled through my first WP blog, lol!
    This is very helpful…keeping my eyes peeled for the next article because I am still fumbling, ha ha!

    The second blog I did, and I only have two…I did a little better, but thankfully had support from my hosting company. Thank goodness for handholding!!!
    Jessica Woods recently posted..Save Money on Back to School ItemsMy Profile

    • A good hosting company is super important. Just today I had an issue where a plugin crashed my site. If HostGator support wasn’t awesome I’d be screwed! They fixed it all for me even though it was a plugin issue, not a hosting issue and told me which plugin to use instead.

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