So you want to start a blog? It’s a brilliant idea. A blog is a great way to share information, to express yourself and also to connect with others that have the same interests as you.The secret of getting ahead is getting started. - Agatha Christie Click To Tweet
Start a blog: Free or paid?
Although this might be a good option for people being tight on budget, there are a couple of reasons why you don’t want to use a free service for your own blog.
1. You are limited in size and restricted in the use of needed plugins
Most of the free services will give you just a limited amount of webspace to host your content and you will be restricted to use the pre-installed plugins only.
2. Many services don’t allow affiliate promotions
If you plan to make money online, you should know that on many platforms affiliate marketing isn’t allowed and sites doing so can be deleted immediately.
3. Free hosting services ad an advertisement for their own service
Many, if not all of the free shared hosting services add their own banner advertisement their users’ websites, so you also promote their business not just yours.
4. The subdomains that come with a free service don’t look professional
The domain name you will get with a free hosting account is a subdomain which looks like http://yourdomainname.yourfreehostingservice.com.
5. You want to have full control over your content
In the end it is your business and you want to be the only one who has full control over your content and how it is displayed. You want to grow your own business and not someone else’s. At least that’s why you want to start a blog.
Start a blog: Decide for a domain name
Before you get started you will need to decide for a domain name. Depending on the subject you plan to blog about you might choose a name related to your niche or if you aren’t sure yet, use your name.
Make the name as easy as possible to avoid spelling mistakes and, if possible, try to avoid hyphens.
Always go for a .com domain name. Just in the case that your targeted audience is limited to a special location you might want to consider a country specific domain name, such as .co.uk.
Start a blog: Get hosting
Now that you have chosen your domain name it is the time to get your hosting package. Your hosting package gives you the space where all your files, data and content will be stored, so that others can find it in the internet.
There are many hosting companies you can choose from. I am with HostGator since more than 10 years already and I just can recommend using them.
As you can see, HostGator offers three different hosting packages. If you just start a blog and aren’t sure if you will need a bigger package later, it is fine to choose the smallest package. You can upgrade later any time without any additional cost.
Click the yellow ‘Order Now‘ button to start.
Enter the domain name you have chosen before and enter your billing information further down this page. You have the choice to pay by credit card or PayPal.
Uncheck and skip all the offered hosting add ons.
Agree to the terms and conditions at the bottom of the page and click the yellow ‘Create Account‘ button.
Congrats! In a few minutes you will have a confirmation email from HostGator together with the login details for your new hosting account. Safe this email for future reference.
Start a blog: Login to cpanel
Click on the link in the welcome email you retrieved from HostGator to access your cpanel (control panel).
Enter the username and password for your cpanel account which you can find in the welcome email.
Start a blog: Install WordPress
Once you are logged in your screen will look like the following:
Click the blue button labeled “Install Now” on the left hand side to do a quick install.
Click “Continue” to open a questionnaire for your new installation.
Choose your domain name in the drop down field on top of the questionnaire. As you have a new hosting account there should be just one domain available to choose.
If you want to install the blog in a subdirectory such as /blog, enter it in the empty field behind the trailing slash.
It is up to you whether to enable auto upgrades or not. Personally I prefer to choose installing upgrades manually, so I won’t check this box. When doing upgrades manually I can wait a week or two and be sure that the upgrade is working fine, before installing it. Also it gives me the chance of first backing everything up, just in case that something goes wrong.
Enter your email in the next field, this is where all notifications that come from your blog will be sent to.
Give your blog a title, this might be the same as your Domain name, but it can vary.
Choose the username for the admin user. For security reasons the username shouldn’t be admin.
Enter your first name and last name and click ‘Install Now!‘
A green bar will show the progress of your installation and in a few seconds you will see a confirmation screen.
In the confirmation message that pops up you will find the links to your newly installed blog and to your admin area. Also pay attention to your username and password.
You will also receive this information also by email sent to the address you specified as admin email before. You may want to safe this information for future reference.
If you click the link to your blog you will see it looking like the screenshot below:
To enter the admin area, either click the link in the conformation message or in the confirmation email. You also can add /wp-admin/ after your domain name.
A log in screen will appear where you have to enter your username and password. When done click the blue ‘Log In’ button to enter the admin area which looks like this:
Congratulations, you’re done!
Start a blog: What’s next?
Now as you finished to start a blog you could already start writing. But you might to want to change the look and feel of your blog to fit your niche. To achieve this you will need to install a different theme and some plugins.
We will have a look at various themes and resources where to get them in one of my next posts that are coming soon. Also we will cover different WordPress plugins that are recommended to have in a separate blog post. So stay tuned.
However, if you are eager to continue, I can recommend you to have a look at Daniel Sumner’s Bloggers Roadmap. Dan teaches you everything you need to know about blogs and blogging.
Did you start a blog already? What is your blog about? Let me know in the comments below.