A blog is one of the easiest and least expensive businesses to start. With about $20 a month, you can start a profitable blog that will allow you to work on your own schedule. When people ask me what platform they should use to start blogging (Blogger or WordPress.com), I always reply with a simple question. “Are you hoping to make this blog profitable?” If the answer is yes, you should skip Blogger and WordPress.com and go straight to a self-hosted blog on WordPress.org. If you’re thinking “You lost me at the self-hosted part,” you’re not alone! Don’t be intimidated, I am going to walk you through the whole process of starting a self-hosted blog on WordPress.org. Here goes…
Get a Domain Name for Your Self-Hosted Blog
Before you line up anything else, you want to make sure that the domain is available for your blog name. If it’s not, and you’re set on a particular name, you may need to choose a variation of the name or a .net., .org or another extension. I recommend staying with a .com if possible, so I always advise choosing a name and checking if the domain is available first.
When you have a name in mind, visit Instant Domain Search to see if it’s available. If it’s available, you can choose to purchase it through a company like GoDaddy or Network Solutions to purchase the domain.
Find a Hosting Company
When your blog is self-hosted, it means that you need to find (and pay for) a host for your website. This is similar to what all other business websites have to do. Rather than being hosted by Google (on Blogger) or WordPress (on WordPress.com), you are going to be the master of your own domain on your host (using the WordPress framework).
There are a number of different hosting companies including BlueHost, WP Engine, GoDaddy, SiteGround and more. The two companies that I recommend to my clients (and use myself) are WP Engine and SiteGround. SiteGround is a more affordable option if you’re just starting out and have limited funds. They offer great customer support through LiveChat and will also help you migrate your site from WordPress.com (more on this later!). WP Engine is the hosting company for this blog (my baby!) and I’ve been with them for over 3 years! You can save 30% off your first payment with WP Engine with coupon code: halloween2017 (expires 10/31/17).
Download the WordPress Software
Visit the cPanel on your webhost site and look for the WordPress icon. Duble click on it, and it will guide you through the WordPress installation. You will be prompted to set up a username and password to access your WordPress dashboard (the hub of your website).
Choose a Premium WordPress Theme
A premium WordPress theme is a must if you’re planning to build a profitable blog– trust me on this one! A premium theme will help you stand out from the crowd. It will also allow your site to perform well and look beautiful on mobile devices (where SO MUCH of your traffic is likely to come from!). These types of themes also allow you to easily customize headers, colors, fonts, newsletter sign-ups, widgets and more.
I have used themes from Pretty Darn Cute Design and Bluchic (I’m currently using the Isabelle theme). I would wholeheartedly recommend both of them. They provide a lot of customer support in the form of tutorials and videos, and I found them easy to use. You can also look at themes available on Themeforest, which has a HUGE supply that you can filter by category, price, etc.
Your theme should come with instructions on how to upload and activate it. You can easily do this through your WordPress dashboard.
Customize Your Header, Theme Colors and Fonts
Once you have your theme loaded and ready to go, you will want to customize it with your own header image/logo, fonts and colors. Check your theme’s tutorial to see how large the header image is so you can format your image correctly. You can use a tool like Canva or PicMonkey to create your own header image or you can just use default header that comes with your theme. I use both services regularly.
When you are satisfied with your blog’s header, take a look at the fonts and colors to decide if you would like to change them. The plug-in Easy Google Fonts will help you easily change fonts. If you need help choosing colors for your theme, check out the Adobe Color Wheel to find color combinations that work well together! It will provide you with the appropriate hex codes to use for colors.
Set Up Pages and Menus
Now that your blog is ready to go, think about what pages you would like to have on the blog. For example, this blog has a Home page in addition to Food/Drink, Family Travel, Training, etc. Set up your pages and then click on the Appearance tab in your WordPress dashboard and select menu to customize your navigation menu, which is at the top of your site.
Write Your First Blog Post!
Next, you will want to set up an e-mail for your new blog, set up social media platforms and start promoting! You may also want to check out my list of Blogging Tools to find helpful services I use on my own blog and recommend to my clients.
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