If you want a website with your own domain, that will be taken seriously by search engines and readers alike, and that you can fully customize however you want, then you will want to avoid free hosts like blogspot.com, wordpress.com, or typepad.com.
Even if you think a free blog is working okay for you in the beginning, you’ll more than likely outgrow it at some point. I suggest getting your own domain from the get go! It’s really quite affordable to host your own site and get your own custom domain. You can set up your own domain and wordpress blog for less than $5.00 a month!
How to Set Up Self-Hosted WordPress
If you worry that you don’t know how to build a website yourself, don’t! This is where WordPress comes in. WordPress is simple to use and is the most popular platform for blogs today.
Purchase your domain and hosting. There are sites like GoDaddy, BlueHost and more that let you do this in one place but you’re free to choose the company you want to go through for yourself. Sometimes you can get deals for as little as $1.99 or a free domain when you purchase a hosting plan. There’s really no reason not to jump in and make your blog something awesome that you love!
I talk more about this in my post: How to Start a Blog in 3 Easy Steps
Install WordPress.org onto your domain. Many popular hosting companies make it very simple for you to do this from their dashboards. You can also install WordPress from the cPanel of your hosting account. This is the “engine” or dashboard of your hosting service.
How to Register Your Domain and Set up WordPress on BlueHost
Setting up WordPress on your Bluehost account is pretty simple. I’ve broken down the steps below so you know exactly what to do!
When you first visit Bluehost.com to set up your domain and WordPress, you’ll see a page that looks something like this:
Click the green button that says, Get Started Now. Hopefully you’ve already thought of a great name for your blog and verified that no one else is using it! If you are struggling to find a suitable domain name, one option is to simply purchase your own name. For instance, I own http://www.MelissaRingstaff.com.
If you are purchasing a new domain, you’ll fill out the “New Domain” text Box. Otherwise you’ll fill in the text box for “I Have a Domain Name.”
Go ahead and enter all of your pertinent account information. Easy!
Once you have filled out your account information, continue scrolling down the page to package information. This is where you choose the billing plan you want to use for your blog.
And then enter your billing information.
You’ll see other add-on options, but these aren’t necessary.
Now you have your BlueHost account set up!
You’ll need to create a password. Be sure to write your password down so you don’t forget it!
Now it’s time to log in to your account so we can work on setting up WordPress!
You’ll see a helpful welcome message after you log in. If want, you can just click “skip this” and I’ll help you with the rest. Or, you can go ahead and explore without me!
After clicking “skip this” you will be looking at your cPanel. The cPanel is basically where your website lives.
You’ll want to click on “Install WordPress” – see the little icon above under the heading Website? Once you’ve clicked the Install WordPress icon, you’ll click on the green Install button.
Choose the domain name you would like to install WordPress on.
You’ll see a screen telling you the installation is taking place.
Give your blog a Site Title and Tag Line. create an admin username, and create an admin password. You will also need to input the admin email address. Don’t name your admin account “admin” or the name of your URL. It can make it too easy to hack.
Then, you should see something like this, letting you now your WordPress installation is complete!
When it has finished the installation of WordPress, you can login the backend of your site with the username and password you created for your WordPress account: http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin
Login to your WordPress Dashboard using yourdomainname.com/wp-admin.
Once inside your WordPress Dashboard, you’ll be about to choose a theme and customize your new site so it looks exactly how you want it to look.
Before you being writing your first blog post, you will want to choose a theme. You can choose a free them by naviagting the left side menu under Appearance > Themes.
Or you can purchase a theme to use – or even hire a designer to create a unique theme for you. Most of you will want to start out with a free theme, but as soon as you’re able, I suggest purchasing a theme from one of my favorite designers below:
Some of my favorite places to find pretty themes are:
I have used themes from each of these companies over the years. I am currently using a theme from Pretty Darn Cute which requires the Genesis Framework – or Parent Theme. Genesis is amazing and I highly recommend it! Basically, this means you need a parent theme which is like the framework that your child theme is built on. I know it sounds complicated, but it’s not hard – you just install the Genesis Framework and then install your theme and activate it. Once your theme is activated you can customize the header, colors, and more. I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming blog post!
After you have chosen a theme, you can start creating posts. In the navigation menu on the left of your Dashboard, select Posts > Add New.
Truly, you can have your blog up and running with your new WordPress installation in 15 minutes or less in most cases, once you have chosen your domain and hosting.
[callout]Have a blogging related question? Ask me in the comments below![/callout]