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It seems like just yesterday that I was a blogging newbie and had no idea of what I was doing. I taught myself how to set up a blog and be successful at blogging. Like I mention in my about me, when I was with one of my previous work at home companies, I was asked by our company to show others how to do this because they saw how beneficial blogging was to my business and they wanted that for others in the company. So I actually held 2 trainings a week; 1 on how to start blogging and the other on how to advertise your business online and offline.
Since switching companies and truly becoming my own boss, I didn’t want all of that knowledge that I learned to be forgotten so I’ve decided to share it with you. If you’ve ever wanted to start a blog but haven’t taken the plunge yet, well, today is your day! I’m going to walk you through it step-by-step. Ready! Let’s do this!
Planning Your Blog
Before actually setting up your blog there are a few crucial things that you’ll want to plan out first: what is your blog going to be about, who is your ideal audience for your blog, how often are you going to blog, etc…)
I’ve created a Blog Planning Sheet for you. It’ll help you answer those questions and more. By answering these questions you’ll have more clarity on the direction and purpose of your blog.
Download, print and fill out the Blog Planning Sheet here.
Starting a Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Picking out your platform
Every blog is on a platform; meaning your blog is found on a website. For example, your Facebook profile is found on Facebook. Facebook owns the site, but you’re still able to edit your own page.
Same thing with a blog; you’ll have your own blog (profile) which’ll be located on a site. There are several to choose from, but my recommendation is to use a self-hosted site using WordPress.org. Why? This type of site will give you the most freedom and the most control over your blog. There is a small cost involved and like I mentioned you control the site; not someone else who can tell you what you can and cannot have on your site.
- Select your domain name and register it
You’ll want to do some research before you choose a name for your blog. Make sure your blog name fits what you’re going to be blogging about and at the same time make it unique and creative to help you stand out from other blogs.
Have a name that you’d like to use? Simply go to Bust a Name and type it into the Quick Domain Check box.
If it’s taken, you’ll need to come up with another name. If the name isn’t taken, that’s great.
Now make sure your name passes the following tests:
–The name is not already a registered trademark. Use the United States Patent and Trademark Office electronic search system to check this: www. uspto.gov/trademarks
–There is not already a similar brand/company with a similar name. Use Google or Bing to search this.
–There is not any other brand/company with a similar name that has a bad reputation, a pending lawsuit, or products I don’t want to be associated with. Use Google to search this.
Now that you’ve come up with your blog name, now you’ll want to register it so no one else can have it. How do you do that?
There are several options. You could choose to register it where you purchase your hosting package which we’ll talk about hosting packages in a minute. Or you can purchase your domain name separately from your hosting company. The only downfall of doing it separately is that it can be confusing, especially for a newbie. So my recommendation is to purchase through your hosting company.
- Decide on your hosting company
When choosing a hosting company you’ll want to find a company that is trustworthy, has support if you need it and has a good reputation.
I use HostGator* on all 4 of my sites. Site speed with HostGator is good…even with 4 sites. They are also trustworthy, reliable and they have awesome customer and technical support.
They have several packages available to choose from. I recommend the Baby package to start with. You’re just starting out and the Baby plan is an affordable, great plan for newbies. This plan will get you unlimited bandwidth and unlimited domains. So if at any time you decide you want another website, you won’t need to get another hosting plan because with this plan you can have unlimited amounts. Later on as your blog grows you can upgrade to a different package that will be able to handle your larger number of visitors to your blog.
There are several ways to pay for your hosting plan from HostGator*. It’s $6.36 per month through my discounted link when you sign up for 36 months. (You pre-pay for all 36 months up front, but if you decide to cancel at any time, they offer a money-back guarantee. So if you had HostGator for 6 months and decided to switch, they would refund the remaining 30 months.) You really can’t beat the value for your money and the excellent service with. If yearly isn’t a good fit for you then you can pay monthly which is $7.96 a month.
Setting up your hosting at HostGator
I’m going to walk you through how to get started with HostGator. You know me; I like lists, so I’ve broken it done step-by-step with pictures for you.
- First go to lauragelnett.com/hostgator. You’ll be directed to HostGator. This is my affiliate link and by using this link you might be offered additional offers for signing up through it. Once you’re there, click on the “ Get Started Now” yellow button.
- Scroll down to view the plans. Remember, I recommend the Baby Plan. Click the dropdown menu and choose your yearly or monthly plan. Once it is selected click sign up now!
- Enter your domain name— the name you want to call your blog. Or if you already have a domain you can click “I already have a domain.”
Then re-enter your plan. Baby plan.
Now enter your username to log into HostGator and make a security pin.
- Enter your billing and credit card or PayPal info.
- You can add additional services to your plan. You don’t need to, but they are an option. If you’re not getting any additional services make sure you uncheck the boxes.
- Enter a coupon code. If you went through my link from above your coupon code will already be added. Click validate.
- Review your order and then click Checkout.
- Viola! You just set up your hosting with HostGator. You will receive an email with login and password details. Go to your email, open up the email from HostGator and click on the link next to Your Control Panel.
- Now you’ll see your cPanel. This is the back office of your hosting that holds files and info for your hosting. Login with your login info from your email.
- Scroll down until you see the Services and Software section. Under that click on Quick Install.
- Click on WordPress on the left. Then click continue.
- Under Install WordPress, find your domain name (blog name) in the drop-down menu. Enter your email address, your blog title, your admin user, your first and last name. Click Install Now!
- After it is installed you’ll see a Congratulations page. That page will give you your login info for your blog. You’ll also receive an email with this info.
- Viola! You’ve set up your domain, hosting and WordPress. Now let’s head over to WordPress and check out your blog. Click on the Admin Area link on your page or in your WordPress email. It is typically email domain name with /wp-admin behind it.
- Now using the username and password that you were just given (or from your email) log into WordPress. Now you’ll see your WordPress dashboard. Spend some time going through the various settings. It may be confusing at first, but in no time it will all be second nature.
- If you were to go to your website right now. It would basically be blank so now you’ll want to spruce it up and make it unique and creative. In order to do that, you will need to choose a theme. Your theme will determine many of the visual aspects of your blog.
For all of my blogs I chose to go with the Genesis Framework*. This gives me building blocks I need to build a strong site. Then to make it pretty I designed my own theme, but I realize that not everyone is a web designer. So you can purchase one from a designer like Restored 316* or StudioPress*. If purchasing a theme isn’t something you want to do right now, there are free themes available in your dashboard.
Once you get your site all pretty, you’re ready to start blogging. If you ever have any questions about the technical side of setting up a blog, please ask away in the comments. I’ll try my best to help.