So you want to start a blog. Maybe you want a place to share your journey, an artistic hobby, help market your business, or blog as your business. Whatever has lead you down this road to blogging, I’m here to share how you can quickly get started using WordPress as your content management system. You may have heard some chatter about WordPress as it comes highly recommended among seasoned bloggers. I may be a little biased as I’ve been using WordPress since it spawned from b2 which I’ve used as well.
So what is WordPress exactly? WordPress is comprised of three separate entities; WordPress the actual content management system, WordPress.com the web-host, and WordPress.Org home of the resources, plugins, themes, and support for WordPress users.
WordPress (CMS) gives you the option of EASILY building a blog, an entire site, or even a store with proper plugins. It allows you to do so without needing much knowledge of HTML web coding and CSS language. If drag and drop is your thing, you can use a theme that supports that technology. WordPress.Org is where you can find and research official plugins and themes to build your blog.
WordPress.com is the web-hosting site created by the developers of the WordPress content management system. This site operates like a community. They offer free blog hosting as a sub-domain on WordPress.com, which would look like this if you typed your web address into a browser:
Free sounds great, but if you plan to heavily monetize your blog space (with 3rd party ads, affiliates, or sponsorships), look professional, and have more control over your blog without worrying about violating any terms, you may want to consider using the WordPress content management system on your very own web space with your very own memorable domain (yourwebsite.com). This is referred to as a self-hosted WordPress site.
So you want to host your WordPress blog on your own domain using the WordPress CMS! No problem!
First, you need to choose a domain name. When choosing your domain name, be sure to choose a name that is creative, easy to remember, and easy to pronounce. It could incorporate your own name or a catchy business name you want to brand, or something keyword or location specific. Ex: kikiwrites.com or tampacrunchymoms.com. It’s best to choose a .com extension as they are most commonly used and are viewed as the most credible. I mean, .edu is up there in credibility too, but those cost a grip and don’t really make sense if you aren’t an educational organization.
Next, you need to register your domain name. So your domain is your address where people can find you on the internet and your web hosting (which we’ll get to next) is like your dwelling where you will install WordPress CMS and put all of your content and furnishings 🙂. Your domain address or URL will sit on your web host’s server (computer) and will allow users to access your content. I’ve registered several domains with Google Domains and I highly recommend them. I love Google in general because I only have to log in to one site for email, documents, tools, and now domains. Their domains start at $12/year and come with free domain privacy to protect your contact information from solicitors or crazies. If you don’t opt for domain privacy, I can guarantee that you’ll be bombarded with unsolicited emails, calls, texts, and snail mail. It’s sooo annoying and invasive. Good thing Google offers free domain privacy!
After registering your domain name, it’s time to purchase web hosting. When looking for a web host, make sure they are WordPress-friendly. Whatever company that you choose, make sure their hosting packages feature access to cPanel (a control panel), and support PHP, MySQL5 (or the latest version of MySQL), and WordPress. Many hosts do and make their features pretty easy to find. My blog has been hosted by Gotekky for several years and I don’t plan on going anywhere. Since I have several websites serving different purposes, I have a VPS (virtual private server) plan to keep my websites running smoothly as they grow in digital uploads (posts, photos, etc.) and traffic. I am pretty comfy here at Gotekky. Whenever I need help, customer service is always there to assist me whenever I’m having a brain fart. With three kids, they are bound to happen. I’m obviously pretty biased here in recommending Gotekky for hosting. But really though, they are good people. Very personable and thorough.
Should I go for Unlimited Domains? As I mentioned, I have several websites so if you are planning to host more than one website or blog, make sure to choose a plan that supports unlimited domains or an amount that you’re comfortable with. For SEO (internet search-ability) reasons, it’s best to have each URL (domain address; e.g. “www.whateveryouwant.com”) in its own separate domain, rather than as an “add-on” domain or “sub-domain”. If each site is in an entirely separate domain, it can also be easily transferred, should you decide to sell it in the future. You will have to register (purchase) each new domain name from your registrar (i.e. Google Domains) as you add them to your web hosting account.
Free web hosting? Hold up, waaaait. A lot of domain registration companies will offer unbelievably cheap web hosting (or even free web hosting). Don’t do it! I wouldn’t recommend using your domain registrar for web hosting. Many site owners find out the hard way and end up having to switch hosts. A prime example of a domain registrar with not so stellar hosting? Go Daddy. You don’t want to potentially have to deal with poor support, frequent site crashes, or bandwidth limitations. This can happen if your site receives a surge in traffic on a sever that can’t handle the load. You really don’t want to sign up and discover your new web host doesn’t have the necessities to operate WordPress, and get sold a $100/month plan because you’ve exceeded your 15mb bandwidth… in the first week! Yikes!
Nameservers? Huh? So you have your domain and hosting. Now it’s time to point your domain to your web host by updating your nameservers. Your nameservers should be sent to you along with your web hosting logins. Log in to your domain registrar and point your domain to your web host by going to “Configure DNS”, “Nameservers” or similar. It may take a few minutes to hours to fully propagate. If you need help, feel free to reach out to customer service. It’s what they’re there for!
Now to get WordPress installed, and set up your blog.
💡 An alternative to the method I’m going to show you would be to check out Mojo Marketplace for their free One Click install or if you have knowledge of using an FTP client, to upload the files through there.
Go to WordPress.Org and download WordPress to your computer. Log into Cpanel at your web host. Set up a MySQL database by navigating to the MySQL Database Wizard. Write down the values for hostname, username, databasename, and the password you chose. The hostname will usually be localhost.
Click the File Manager in CPanel. Double click public_html. Click Upload from the top menu and upload the WordPress zip file to public_html.
Return to public_html, click the WordPress zip file, then click Extract from the top menu. Extract the zip into public_html. Double-click the WordPress folder, select all of the files and move them to public_html. You can then delete the empty WordPress folder and .zip file.
Next, type your web address in your browser and you should be prompted to install WordPress. As you continue, you’ll be asked to enter database information to set up the configuration file. Type in the MySQL database info that you saved earlier and continue on to the next page.
In the next page, you will be entering your site title, your desired user name (don’t go with admin), your choice of a password, and your e-mail address. Also you’ll be able to choose if you want your blog to appear in search engines. If you want to be found, then the answer is “yes”. All of this information can be changed later in your WordPress Admin.
Phew! I installed WordPress. Now what?
Click around your WordPress dashboard and get familiar with things.
Edit your Title, Tagline, and Time zone under Settings > General.
Change your Permalink Structure under Settings > Permalink. The default permalink structure isn’t SEO friendly. I like using the “Post name” setting so that my posts are formatted to http://iriemade.com/sample-post/ vs http://iriemade.com/2018/01/22/sample-post/.
Configure the reading settings under Settings > Reading. Here you can set what displays on your blog’s homepage. You can choose from displaying a static page or your latest blog posts.
Install plugins. Anti-Spam, Security, Backup, SEO, and Cache plugins are great to start off with.
Change your theme under Appearance. You can find more themes in the WordPress.org Themes section, or you can purchase paid premium themes from sites like Studiopress or Creative Market. Be careful of downloading and trying “free” themes from random sites. Many of these themes may contain hidden code like popup ads that will harm or affect the performance of your site.
Of course there’s so much more to learn about managing WordPress such as adding even more plugins and tweaking your CSS. Get comfortable with your blog and take it day by day. Make a post or two first, and research questions as they may arise. It won’t be long until you’re cruising with your new WordPress blog site.
All the best on your blogging journey!