How to Start a self-hosted WordPress Blog; The Complete Guide for New Bloggers
Welcome to the Complete Guide to getting set up with your new WordPress Blog.
WordPress can seem a bit overwhelming at first, so this step-by-step guide walks you through everything you need to know to get from buying your Hosting and Domain name, through to personalising your WordPress Theme and installing (only) the Plugins you actually need.
If you are totally, completely, brand-spanking, only-just-heard-of-WordPress new to WordPress, read this post first: The Super-Straightforward Introduction to WordPress (including a WordPress vs WordPress comparison)
NB: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you purchase a product or service via my link.
Before you Start your Blog
There are only two things you need before starting your Blog:
- Web Hosting
- A Domain Name
There are literally hundreds of webs hosts out there, which makes choosing a good one a daunting task. Here's 6 considerations to help you make the right decision:
Security: The worry about security was one of the things that put me off starting my Blog on WordPress when I created this one. There are so many scary stories about blogs getting hacked and keeping everything secure and backed up and updated all sounded really time consuming! But in real life it's actually not!
Siteground have a unique Account Isolation feature that means even if there is another vulnerable account on the same server as your Blog, your's won't be affected, Free Backups are done daily (even on the cheapest hosting package), you can choose to have WordPress Automatic updates at no extra cost and they have a proven record of patching vulnerabilities faster than other top hosts.
Which, in plain English, means I don't actually have to do anything, apart from update plugins and my theme, to make sure my Blog is kept safe and updated!
Speed: Readers like fast Blogs, Google likes fast Blogs. Find a host that values speed and has technology in place to increase your Blog load times and you will have happy readers.
Support: Oh support is so important when you're Brand new to something! When you're choosing your host, have a look to see if they offer 24/7 support, if it's available via phone as well as email or chat and how much support they actually offer. (Some hosts will only offer hosting help, and aren't so helpful with specific WordPress issues)
I can personally recommend SiteGround support! They respond super quick to support tickets (within 5-10 minutes), after I explained my problem, they didn't just just tell me how to fix it, they went ahead and fixed it for me, and if you as them nicely, they'll even set up your WordPress Blog for you. For free!
Uptime: The last thing you want when you're growing your Blog is for it to go down. All that effort getting traffic and writing posts, just for your site not to be available.
Ease of Use: Find a host that is new-blogger-friendly. Hosting companies know that anything that speeds up the Blog set-up process or makes it easier for non tech-savvy newbies will be gratefully received. Look for WordPress specific hosting, 1-click installation and Siteground will even transfer an existing WordPress site for free!
Personal Recommendations: I went with SiteGround in the first place due to personal recommendations from bloggers I trust. And knew which hosts to avoid from reading numerous complaints in Facebook groups!
I always recommend SiteGround without hesitation when anyone asks me about WordPress hosting.
Most hosts include a domain name for at least the first year you're with them. You can also use a domain you've purchased elsewhere; you will need to change the DNS records so they point to your host and not the company you purchased it from (which is simpler than it sounds!)
When buying your Domain name, I always suggest
- Buying a .com extension if it's available.
- Checking there are no trademarks on the Domain name you want to register
- Checking the name (or something very close) is available on the social media accounts you're going to use
- Making sure your Blog name doesn't inadvertently spell something inappropriate!
When you've purchased your hosting and domain name, it's time to get your Blog up and running!
How to get your WordPress Blog set up with SiteGround
Step 1: Choose a hosting plan. I use GrowBig plan so I can have multiple websites on the same plan, Backup & Restore is included in the price and I get priority support.
Step 2: Now either register a new domain for free or choose to use an existing domain you already own. You can transfer a domain to SiteGround for free at this point as well.
Step 3: Fill out your account details and purchase your Hosting! I purchased Hackalert Monitoring too, for the extra security peace of mind.
Step 4: Your hosting is now all set up and ready to use! You will receive a confirmation email from SiteGround with your account details.
Step 5: Now it's time to Install WordPress. There are 3 options for completing this step.
- Contact Support and they'll do it for you
- Use the 1-Click Installer
- Install WordPress manually (if you have more than one blog on the same hosting you'll need to install WordPress for each domain)
I used the 1-Click Installer for mine which was super simple
To Install WordPress manually....
Step 5a: Open your cPanel, from My Accounts in your User Area
Step 5b: Scroll down your cPanel until you reach Autoinstallers, and select WordPress
Step 5c: Softaculous will open and simply click on Install Now to get started.
Step 5d: Fill out the details in the Software Setup form. If you have more than one domain, make sure the right one is selected from the domain dropdown. Fill out your Blog Title and Description (you can change this easily in the WordPress admin panel so don't worry too much about what you put here. If you leave Select Theme as none, the default WordPress 2017 theme will be used.
Finally click Install
Step 5e: WordPress is now installed!
Type your Domain name into your browser and your new Blog will be there! If you kept the default WordPress 2017 theme, it will look like this
What to do after WordPress is installed
Now you have your Blog ready to go, it's time for the fun stuff; choosing and customising a theme, writing your first blog post, creating pages and installing plugins.
Log into your WordPress Admin panel from My Accounts in your SiteGround User Area, or go directly to yourdomainname/wp-admin.
Choose and install a WordPress Theme
In this tutorial I'll show you how to preview, install and activate a free WordPress Theme from the theme repository.
And this Blog Post previews 10 responsive, easy to customise, totally gorgeous Premium Themes for less than $50 if you're searching for the perfect Premium Theme to suit your Blog.
So, let's go....
Step 1: In your Admin Panel, go to Appearance and then Themes.
Step 2: You will now see the Themes that are already installed, with the first one in the list being the current active theme. Click 'Add New' to browse more themes.
Step 3: You can narrow down your Search by searching for a specific keyword, or filtering out themes based on functions and layout options. To look in more detail at a theme, hover over it and click 'details and preview'.
Step 4: On the Theme Preview you can get a more detailed look at the theme, look at the ratings (if it's been rated) and get more information, sometimes including a link to a live demo site. You need to Install the Theme before you can use it. Installing it won't make it your live theme. Install the theme by clicking the Install button at the top of the left hand sidebar (where it says activate in this photo because the I'd already Installed it when I took the screenshot!)
Step 5: To make a Theme your live theme, you need to activate it. Click the 'activate' button and you have a new theme!
Step 6: To customise your Theme, go to Appearance, then Customize and you will see the options that are available with the theme you've chosen.
Step 7: Now I've changed the theme, my new Blog looks like this.
Now you've chosen, activated and customised your theme, it's time to add Plugins.
How to install Plugins on your Blog
Plugins are extras that you add to your Blog. There is a Plugin for everything, from Backups and Anti-Spam to extra design features, or whole new levels of functionality like membership sites and e-commerce.
Step 1: To Install Plugins, first go to 'Plugins', then 'Add New'.
Step 2: Before you install any Plugins I suggest you do some research first and get some recommendations on the best ones to use for whatever function you're looking for. There are thousands of plugins available. If you don't know what you're looking for, you may grow old and die before finding what you want simply by browsing the Plugin Directory!
To find a plugin, type the name of it in the search box, then click 'Install Now' on the one you want to install.
Step 3: You need to Activate your Plugin to make it work.
All your installed Plugins are listed under 'Plugins' and 'Installed Plugins'. Here you will see which ones are active, and which ones have updates available. I recommend keeping your Plugins updated to the latest version to keep them secure as well as working properly.
Here are some Plugins you might like to install on your Blog (It is by no means an exhaustive list and only install plugins you really need. The more you install, the slower your Blog will be, and the higher the chance of things going wrong if plugins are incompatible)
- Askimet: An anti-spam Plugin that is pre-installed with WordPress. You will need to activate it to make it work.
- Jetpack: Jetpack is also pre-installed with WordPress. It includes social sharing, SEO tools, Stats reporting, brute force attach protection and many other features. There are lots of free features as well as a variety of paid plans.
- Yoast: For Search Engine Optimisation
- Shareaholic: Customisable social sharing buttons
- Google Analytics Dashboard: Allows you to view your Google Analytics Stats in your WordPress install
- Google XML Sitemaps: Generates an XML Sitemap for your Blog that you can submit to search engines so they can index your Blog easier
- Backwpup: Backup your Blog and save your backups to an external Backup Service
- Related Posts for WordPress: Automatically displays related posts at the bottom of your posts, to keep your readers on your site for longer
- WP Super Cache: Speeds up your Blog
The Next Steps
Writing Content: Blog Posts and Static Pages
Now your Blog is up and running, looks nice and includes all the functionality you want it to, it's time to actually start Blogging!
To write a Blog Post, head to 'Posts' on your WP-Admin menu and then 'Add New'.
- For advice on how to write Posts for your Brand New Blog, including a Free list of 30+ Evergreen Blog Post Ideas, have a read of: How to Write Brilliant Blog Posts for your Brand New Blog
I hope you found this tutorial helpful and you're now confident and ready to get your Blog Started.
Here's that link to SiteGround again to get your hosting, and please leave me a comment with any other WordPress tutorials you'd like to see.
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