[info_message style=”info”]This post is for starting a professional self-hosted WordPress blog which will cost you money.
If you would like to start a free blog, then read our post on Top 7 Free Blogging Platforms – Start a Free Blog[/info_message]
So you are thinking of starting your own blog, but you think it might be a tedious task. Do Not worry. You have come to the right place as I will show you how easy it is to start your own blog. I have blogged since around 2011, managing several blogs at once.
But before we start let us discuss why people want to blog?
Why do people want to blog?
- Some blog for Fun.
They write about their passion, they like to share their knowledge with others, they like to meet new people and have fun.
- Some blog to support their business.
Website business owners of all kind add blogs to their sites to promote their business and their products. Publishing blog post regularly increases their website traffic and help them create awareness about their business.
- Some blog to make money online.
They are blogging to become successful, become a full-time blogger, make money online and maybe retire their day job when they are in their twenties or thirties.
People are creating blogs daily for many reasons. With this huge amount of newly created blog, there is a fear that blogging is dead or at least very competitive, Is it?
Is blogging is dead?
As per Statista, there are around 409M tumblers blogs created to date and that is only on tumbler. According to Websitehostingrating over 2M blog posts published on daily basis. That creates a feeling that blogging is becoming saturated and more competitive, although this might be correct in some niches, it is not true for blogging in general. Blogging is still growing and there is a plenty of room for you and me.
Many companies realized the importance of blogging and started a blog of their own, we are not talking here about the small companies, We are taking here about giants like Facebook and Reddit. Also, companies that used to sponsor celebrities are now realizing the influence bloggers make and starting to sponsor bloggers.
They are contacting bloggers directly without online marketing agencies in the middle and giving them offers for sponsoring them, displaying ads on their blog or asking them to join their affiliate program.
Do you know? 81% of online consumers trust the information we publish on our blogs and 61% of US consumers made purchasing decisions after reading blog posts. (Source: Websitehostingrating – Link above)
Do you know? 61% of Pinterest users have found new brands and products through Pinterest. (Source: Pinterest users states)
Do you know? Digital ad spends for 2018 is expected to reach $217.36B globally. (Source: TotalMediaSolutions). Google AdSense earnings in 2017 were $95.38B, Google AdSense share revenue with their publishers like you who display AdSense Ads on their blogs. (Source: Statista)
All this money available online is waiting to be claimed by bloggers like us. If the best time for starting a new blog was probably in the late 90’s or early 00’s, the second best time is today. It doesn’t matter if you want to start your own blog as a hobby, to support your business or to make money online, below are 8 simple steps to follow to start your own blog.
How To Start A Blog In 8 Easy Steps
1. Select Your Niche
Your niche is your blog topic, what are the things that you will write about. You can start your blog with more than one niche and have more topics that you can write about, but you will less probably be recognized as an influencer in all the topics you write about. Focus on one niche to increase the possibility of your success.
Some people will tell you that you should select a niche that you are passionate about or you have a technical knowledge of. While others would tell you that you need to select a profitable niche. A niche that you can make money in. Selecting your niche depends on what is your aim with your blog. If you are blogging for fun then its easy, blog about what you are passionate about or what you know.
If you are blogging to make money online then you need a mix of the two. You don’t have to be an expert in the niche you will choose, all that you need is to be ready to learn the basics of that niche and learn more while you grow.
Blogging is a journey, its like life. Lots of ups and downs, success, and failures. Don’t be afraid that you would fail in your niche, you might have some obstacles, but if you do your best you will overcome those obstacles and succeed.
How To Select Your Niche:
- List all the niches that you are passionate about or have a technical knowledge of.
- do research for profitable niches and select the ones that you think you will be able to write about. Add them to the list.
- Do research for competition in the niches in your list. Remove the ones that have high competition.
- If you have found your niche and your niche still have high competition, narrow it down. For example, if you have selected making money online which has a very high competition. It is unlikely that you will be able to outrank the already established bloggers. Instead, select Affiliate marketing or online advertising as your niche.
2. Select Your Blogging Platform
Do I have to say that WordPress is the best blogging platform? Just in case you are not familiar with WordPress; here is why companies like Facebook are choosing WordPress as a blogging platform.
WordPress is the best content management system that you can use as a blogging platform and it is free to use. It has one of the biggest open source communities in the word.
WordPress started in 2003 and today it has 59% of CMS market share and powering up 29% of all Internet.
Why Should You Use WordPress for your blog?
- It is easy and fast to install.
If you are using a self-hosted WordPress installation, your host will most probably support 1 click installation which takes 5 to 10 minutes.
- It is easy to setup and manages.
The WordPress admin dashboard is very easy to use.
- Support is not an issue.
If you encounter any issues with your blog you can get support from the WordPress community or from a WordPress blog owner. You can post your issue on QA sites and Forums, a lot of people will help you for free.
- You can build anything with WordPress.
Literally anything, from a blog, forum, community sites, membership sites or estores. You name it.
- It is highly customizable.
WordPress is an open source which means that you can edit the WordPress core files your self, although this is something you don’t need to do, the option is available if you need any custom implementation for your website.
- WordPress has more than 3000 free licensed themes and hundreds of paid themes which you can use to customize the design of your blog and add more features without using a single line of code.
- WordPress has more than 45,000 free licensed plugins and thousands of paid ones to add more features to your blog.
- There is two versions of WordPress: Self-hosted WordPress vs WordPress.com
Many people confuse between Self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) vs WordPress.com.
A Self-Hosted WordPress is what we are discussing here. It is to install WordPress software on a web hosting account using your own domain name.
WordPress.org is a website that provides you with valuable information about using WordPress CMS software, supported themes and plugins.
WordPress.com is a hosting site where you will have a WordPress software hosted on WordPress servers. You can start for free on a WordPress.com subdomain. They have paid hosting plans with your own domain name as per below image.
I don’t recommend using the free plan on WordPress.com because you are limited to WordPress hosting terms, and you have to use a WordPress.com subdomain (Yoursitename.Wordpress.com).
You will not have a full control over your WordPress implementation. You can think of this as running your blog on Weebly or other similar platforms.
We also don’t recommend WordPress paid plans, as there are many specialized and reputable web hosting companies that have better offerings and support for a similar price.
3. Select Your Domain Name
Your domain name is what people type in the browser to reach to your blog. For example, the domain name of my blog is midiavip.com/blog.
Below are some tips for choosing your domain name:
- Select a domain name that is short and easy to remember.
- Look into competitors domain names for inspiration.
- Avoid confusing words. Words that might be confusing in general or can be confused with another brand. You need people to reach to your blog, not to your competitor website.
- Pro Tip: Keyword Based Domain name vs Brand Based Domain name
Keyword-based domain name is simply having your keyword as a domain name. For example, if your niche is social media then socialmedia.com is your domain name.
This is great for search engine optimization and will help you boost your blog ranking for your selected keyword. However its hard to find keyword based domain names these days as it’s already registered.
Brand Based domain name is simply having your company name or brand name as a domain name.
Although this will not help you with search engine optimization and ranking for your keywords, with time people will recognize your brand name and remember your domain name.
One thing to note though that with branded domains it would be hard to sell your domain name without selling the full setup, your domain name, your blog and your business.
Some people make money by flipping domains, they buy a domain and work to increase traffic to that domain and later sell that domain name, with a branded domain name it is a bit hard to flip domains.
What you can do though is to have a mix of both, branded+keyword based. For example, if your keywords are blogging and your brand or company name is Batman you can have a domain name such as battmanblogging.com
Some people use their real name as a domain name. This saves your time rather than looking for a branded or keyword based domain name. This is fine if you are starting a personal blog.
But if you have any plan to sell your blog at one point or you are planning to make money from your blog, then stop thinking about using your real name now. Why? Because it will be very hard to sell it.
If your domain name is brucewayne.com do you think that Tony Stark will buy your blog and start using your name?
- Check your domain name availability at domain name registrars.
- Pro Tip: Check your social media accounts.
Congratulation. You have found your perfect domain name and it’s available for registration but don’t rush and buy your domain name.
A very important step is to make sure that you can use your domain name as social media account username on all the social media websites that you intend to use.
You don’t need to reach a point where you have spent the time and money to select your domain and then find out that someone else is using that name for one of the social media accounts.
It is better to align your domain name with your social media accounts and be consistent everywhere. Do not use BattmanFly.com as a domain name then use BattmanFly as a username on Facebook, BattmanRun on Twitter and BattmanSwim on Pinterest.
- Claim your social media accounts
One thing to do before you buy your domain name is to register your social media accounts. Registration on all social media websites is free and this is to make sure that your social media usernames are available and reserved for you before buying your domain name.
- Register your domain name.
Great, now it’s the time to buy your domain name. There are two ways you can buy your domain name: Through domain name registrar or through your Web hosting company.
Most web hosting companies offer you a free domain name registration when you subscribe for a yearly hosting plan. Many people would recommend registering your domain with your web hosting company, as you can manage everything from one account.
But in my experience, you really need to register your domain name through a domain registrar. You are probably asking yourself, If I am getting a free domain through web hosting company, why shall I pay extra money to buy my domain name?
The Answer is to get full control over your domain name. If you register your domain through web hosting they have control over your domain name, they will have control over your DNS records which is where the domain name is pointing to reach to your blog.
It will be harder to transfer your domain name to someone else if you are selling your domain name. Is that a bad thing? It depends on the reputation of your web hosting company. If you have any issues with your web hosting company you will have absolutely no control over your blog. This was the main reason I quit blogging in 2015. More on this when we discuss the web hosting.
Register your domain through a domain registrar. And since you are getting a free domain name any way with your web hosting plan, you can register and use the free domain name for another purpose. A lot of web hosting providers have plans that allow you run multiple sites on the same account, you can use the free domain name for a side project, or better you can use it to build a website about yourself.
Use your real name as a domain name. Build a one-page website about yourself, add your social media accounts and add links to the sites you own. this will serve as your online resume and it is a great way to promote yourself online.
How to register your domain through a domain registrar?
I do recommend Godaddy as a domain registrar, they are the top domain registrar worldwide and their support is very quick if you encountered any issues. Your first choice is always a ‘.com’.
To register your domain follow below steps.
- Go to Godaddy website. There is often a 30% promotional offer…sometimes even a $1 offer!
- Type in your domain name in the search field and click on search. If your domain is available you will get a result as below.
Notice the offer to add 3 other domain name extensions .net, .org ,and .info. Click on add to Cart if you have the budget to buy them (See Pro Tip below).
If you have enough budget I do recommend adding all domain names you can afford to buy, if you don’t have a budget get at least .net extension. Why? to protect your brand.
Imagine that you have registered your domain name with funnyfish.com and you after working very hard to build your brand, someone else registers funnyfish.net. He starts using it to abuse your business or people might simply confuse between both sites. Buying both popular extensions a .com and .net will save you the trouble.
The more extensions you register the more you will protect your business. It is a common practice for businesses to register all possible extensions. .net is the most popular extension and it’s fine to start with it.
By the way, big companies will not only buy all the domain name extensions but will also buy most common variables of the domain name. For example, Microsoft will buy Micorosoft.com and all extensions, they will also buy Microsofts.com and all extensions, etc.
- Click on continue to cart. The second page will display additional features.
Privacy Protection hides your personal information on WHOIS Directory. If anyone searches WHOIS about your domain name, your personal information will not be visible. By default privacy protection is enabled, keep it enabled if you have the budget. But if you have a tight budget then select no thanks (You can buy this as add-on any time you need it).
The second option is email hosting. Keep this option as it is (No Thanks) as most web hosting offers email hosting as part of their hosting plan.
- Select the terms of your domain name registration. Make sure to register your domain name for at least 3 years (Check Pro Tip below). You need to select the option for your domain name and your domain name extension as well.
Register your domain for more than 1 Year. Google loves to see domain names with more than 1 year availability. Make sure auto renewal is enabled so that it is automatically renewed if you forget to renew it yourself.
- Sign up, fill in your account information and payment information.
4. Select Your Web Hosting Company
Web hosting companies provide you with a virtual server where you can install your WordPress software. They offer you different hosting plans and each plan give you a set of hosting capabilities like how many sites you can host, server processing power, maximum storage size, bandwidth, and other capabilities.
But what are the available web hosting offerings?
- Shared Web hosting
This is the most common and cost-effect hosting offer. Many websites will share the same resources (RAM, CPU, bandwidth, etc) of a group of physical servers. There is no guarantee on the resources your website can consume.
If you are just starting out then this is the web hosting plan you need.
- WordPress hosting
WordPress hosting is almost like shared web hosting, however, the web hosting company optimize the hardware platform that is used to run WordPress as per industry standards. This will make your website loads much faster but is more expensive than shared hosting. If you have the budget then we do recommend you to start with WordPress hosting.
If you are on a tight budget then shared hosting is fine. But make sure to select a web hosting company that offers WordPress hosting so you can easily upgrade in future.
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, which is like owning a fraction of a website just on your own. Your resources are guaranteed whether you use them or not. Nobody else can use them. Even the operating system for your virtual hosting environment is a separate instance from other virtual hosting environments which runs on the same server.
VSP is more expensive but it provides more stability and performance. Also, it provides you with more control over your virtual hosting environment.
- Dedicated Hosting
This is the best hosting offering. You have your own dedicated server isolated than any other dedicated server which gives you a full control over your environment. This is the most expensive hosting plan. However, it’s a cost-effective solution for companies with greater needs as they don’t need to build their own data center and hire their own IT staff.
Now that we have seen the different hosting offerings in the market, how do we know which web hosting company to choose?
What to look for in your web hosting company:
Most people make their web hosting selection purely based on the cheapest price, there is no shame for selecting the cheapest hosting price. But price shouldn’t be your only reason. There are other factors which are as important as cheap price.
- Support (important!)
You need a web hosting company that provides an excellent support. When you have an issue and your website is down, you need fast support that is available 24 x 7. You need the support engineers to have the technical knowledge to solve your website issue as soon as possible.
If your website is down, you are losing customers and most importantly losing money.
As we have mentioned before there are many web hosting plans. And when you are just starting your blog you need to select the cheapest hosting plan that meets your need. Which most probably will be shared hosting.
As your blog grows and your traffic increase you will need a more powerful hosting plan. You need to select a web hosting that has the widest hosting plans so that it is easier to upgrade.
- Feature rich
You need a web hosting that gives you many features and add-ons that you can buy when you need them such as SSL certificate, Backups, Website staging and many others. These features might be available for free on some plans.
Many people do not give many thoughts of the reputation of the web hosting company. This is the key reason for me to select my web hosting company and I had to learn this the hard way.
Why Reputation Is Important:
If you choose shared hosting by a non-reputable web with “Unlimited” hosting plan for a very cheap price you will probably end up disappointed. As you grow, your host may start suspending your account and asking for upgrades. You will probably end up paying more than better web hosting plans from the top hosting companies.
Bluehost – a great host for beginners
In fact, there are many good web hosting companies these days for different needs. But since we are talking about WordPress then the best web hosting companies that are always recommended by bloggers includes Bluehost, Dream host, Site Ground, WPX and WPEngine just to name a few.
Bluehost and most web hosting companies offer you with email hosting as part of the hosting plan. Very rarely web hosting companies will offer email hosting plan separate from web hosting plan such as Godaddy. Just double-check that your web hosting plan includes email hosting when you are comparing different offerings to avoid paying more.
My recommended low-cost web hosting is Bluehost, it is one of the best web hosting companies and score very well for the 5 points we have mentioned up.
In fact, Bluehost was the only recommended web host by WordPress.org for many years. Currently, it is one of 3 web hosting companies that are being recommended by WordPress.org beside Dream host and Siteground. It’s one of the most recommended hosting company by bloggers.
Bluehost has the widest hosting plans for a relatively cheap price and has excellent 24×7 support. My blog is running on Bluehost, and if you want to start your own blog then we recommend it to you. You can start with a shared hosting plan and upgrade as you grow. I have subscribed to 3 years prime plan but the basic plan is perfect if you are just beginning.
How to Sign up with Bluehost
- Go to Bluehost website. You can start with a basic plan for $3.95.
- Enter your domain name.
If you have registered your domain name through domain name registrar which I recommend, fill in your domain name in the right-hand side. You Don’t need to sign up a new domain name as you can always add a free domain name once you sign up.
- Fill in your personal information, your package details, and your payment information.
By default, your account plan is set for 3 years. We recommend keeping it that way as once you will renew your hosting plan you will be renewing it on the standard pricing and not the signup price.
Notice that there is some add-on checked by default which is Sitelock and Codeguard basic. You can remove those if you don’t need them.
Also note that those add-ons are available for free for higher plans such as prime, so if you need them it will be cheaper to choose a Prime account.
Make sure to tick the box to agree to Bluehost terms before submitting.
- Next, you will need to create a password for your web hosting account and you are done.
If you have registered your domain name through Godaddy you need to configure your Godaddy account to point your domain name to Bluehost in order for your domain name to work with Bluehost.
Follow below steps:
- Login to your Bluehost account, select domain from the left-hand sidebar. Select name servers to see the nameservers you should use on Godaddy. These were the nameservers ns1.bluehost.com, ns2.bluehost.com at time of writing – but check, because yours may be different.
- Go to your Godaddy account, you will see your available domains. Click on DNS besides the domain name you want to use with Bluehost. Scroll down to name servers section. Click on change and choose custom and fill in the nameservers as showen in below image and click on save.
5. Install and Setup Your WordPress Blog
Most web hosting companies offer 1 click installation of WordPress including Bluehost. You don’t need to do anything to install WordPress except to select 1 click installation of WordPress.
Bluehost will do this automatically. Once you login to your Bluehost account, Bluehost will begin the installation of your WordPressss blog automatically. You will be asked to select a theme, go ahead and choose any theme as you will most probably change it later. Bluehost will setup your blog on a temporary domain and then once the installation is ready it will move it to your real domain.
Some blog setup steps will need your real domain name to work such as Jetpack connection to WordPress.com. I prefer to wait for the installation to complete before setting up your blog. This might take some time to finish and you will receive an email once the installation is complete.
The email will include your login details. Please note that these login details is to login to your WordPress website and they are different from your hosting account login details.
- Great, you have received an email and the installation is now done. Head over to your Bluehost account. Click on site and click on login. Or login through the following URL: Yourdomainname/wp-login.php. Don’t forget to replace yourdomainname with your real domain name. The wizard will take you through the basic settings to setup your blog.
- Fill in your blog name which should match your domain name and fill in the site description. Click on next. If my domain name is midiavip.com/blog then my Site title will be QTopTips
- Select how you would like your home page to look like. For most ‘blogs’, select option 1 on the left-hand side for blogs with homepage showing latest blog posts (option 2 is for static welcome pages, one-page websites and advanced setup).
The wizard will prompt you to build a start contact us page, click yes.
The next step is to connect to Jetpack plugin to WordPress.com. Click on Connect to WordPress.com. This will take you to WordPress.com to register for a new account. Fill in the required details and click on create your account. This is handy for beginners to get lots of useful tools with one plugin.
- Update your business address details if you have one or click on Not now to skip.
- The next option depends if you are going to sell products online right away. Click not now to skip for now. You can install WooCommerce later if/when you decide to sell online
This is the last option and now your WordPress blog is fully functional with basic features.
6. Secure Your WordPress Admin Login
But before you start customizing your blog design and add more features. There are two important security changes that you need to do.
Security: Change your default Login page or admin URL
All WordPress website are being installed with the default Login page URL as per the below:
This makes it easy for hackers to try to hack your blog because everyone knows the login page.
Changing the URL to something unique will help you makes it hard for hackers to hack your site because simply they can’t guess your admin URL, secondly, it will free a lot of unwanted bot traffic to your site from tools trying to hack your website.
To change your default Login page use a plugin called WPS hide login. If you do not know how to install plugins, follow below steps.
- Login to your admin panel using the default admin URL.
- From the left-hand sidebar, select Plugins and Click add new.
- Fill in WPS hide login Plugin name in the search box and search for it.
- Click install – then activate.
- Go to plugin settings or to your blog settings – general at the end of the page enter a unique URL that you want to use.
By default your custom admin URL is
Change it to something else you will only know. Again the idea is to change default settings so it is not easy to hack it. This ‘/login’ URL will be the second hacker guess. Make sure you keep track of the new admin URL somewhere safe. You don’t want to lose access to your site.
Security: Change your default WordPress admin user
Again our aim here is to get red of all default options for security reason the default user name is Admin. The hacker will try to hack your website by guessing your Username and Password, If you are using the default Username, all that the hacker need now is to guess your password.
To change your default admin user, follow below steps.
- Create a custom email address using your domain name to be used for the new admin user.
Go to your blue host control panel – Click on Email on the left side bar
Fill in the details, Depending on your account you might have mailbox storage limitation. it’s better to use your real name or any other name than admin for security reasons.
2. Login to your WordPress blog – Don’t forget to use the new admin URL.
from the left-side menu select Users-Add new
Fill the details and make sure you set the role as admin, you will then receive an email asking you to set your password. Once done login with your new user name and password and then delete the default admin user.
7. Customize Your WordPress Blog
Next your need to customize your WordPress blog by selecting a theme and the plugins you need.
When it comes to WordPress themes, there are many themes available for free and many premium themes for a more professional look of your blog. Each blog has different goals and needs a different look. There is no right or wrong theme. Select the best theme that fits your need.
WordPress plugins add more features to your blog, there is over 47,000 free plugins and thousands of paid plugins. We will love to have them all but be aware that each plugin you activate will slow down your website. Even if it is milliseconds, it will add up. It is important to activate only the plugins you need.
8. Launch your website
Up to this point, if you enter your domain name in the browser you will see a coming soon page which is activated by default. If you are done with your blog setup and customization and want your blog to become public. head over to Bluehost menu on the top of the left sidebar of your administrator area and click the Launch button to remove the coming soon page.
Before you starting creating your first post, check the 20 Quick Tips: What To Do After Installing WordPress. Also, check the Top 40 Popular sites that you can create with WordPress.
Although starting a new blog is a very easy task, maintaining and building a successful blog is not! It needs planning, time and dedication to succeed. This post shows you how to start a blog but that is only the beginning!
If you don’t yet have a logo for your blog, check this post: https://midiavip.com/blog/free-logo-makers/
Do you want to create your own infographic, read this post about the Top 7 Infographic Makers.