When I first showed my parents my blog their first question was who built it for me. The idea that I could have done it myself didn’t even cross their minds. Well to prove them wrong I successfully created not one, but two websites!
The truth is that creating a blog has never been easier (if a technically incapable person like me can do it, trust me when I say that really anybody can). In this easy step by step guide we have outlined the steps you need to follow to create your own website.
Greta’s Travels and Where Life Is Great have different hosting and themes, so we have outlined both processes with the pros and cons of each hosting for you so that you can choose what fits you and your website best.
Follow these 8 easy steps and create your own website now!
- Pick a name
- Register your domain
- Register your name on social media
- Purchase your hosting
- Install WordPress
- Choose a theme
- Install your plugins
- Start writing!
Pick a name
From Zero To Blog Hero is a better name than Greta’s Travels (thank you Marta!) but I’m probably still not the best person to go around preaching advice on website names, given the originality of my own blog names. But they’re both easy to remember and it’s obvious what they’re about. There is no such thing as a “wrong” blog name, however there are a couple things that are good to bear in mind:
- Don’t be too specific: If you’re creating a cooking blog and call it something like “GretasVeganRecipes.com” and then you decide to start eating meat again, it won’t make sense anymore. Choose something more broad that will always be applicable
- Make it short and simple: Make it something easy to remember and easy for people to type when they’re searching for it online. Avoid hyphens, dots or dashes if you can, as it might confuse people searching for you if they don’t remember the exact website URL
Register your name on social media
Once you’ve chosen your blog name you will have to make sure it’s available and register it on both social media and as a website. Before you pay for the domain you’ll want to check if it’s available on social media. It’s not essential but you want your brand to be cohesive, so you don’t want your blog name to be too different from your social media usernames. It’s simpler to check on social media first, you don’t want to purchase the domain and then find that the username is taken on all the platforms and you need use a slight variation of it on social media.
Purchase your domain & hosting – HostGator guide
When I first created Greta’s Travels I purchased both my domain and hosting with HostGator. I’d read positive reviews about them and felt comfortable with hosting my site with them. I also liked the idea of having everything in one place instead of having my domain registered in one place and the hosting in another. Here is a step-by-step walk through of how to register your domain name with HostGator:
- First you need to pick you plan. If you are creating your first blog, you can comfortably go for the Hatchling Plan. It’s their most basic plan but it’s all you need for the time being.
- After you select a plan you’ll be sent to an order form, which is where you register your domain name. It will also ask you if you want to purchase any additional add-on services, if you’re just starting out don’t worry, you don’t need these.
- Once you’ve paid you will see a recap screen where you can see your account information and domain name, and that’s all there is to it! You’re now ready to play around with Hostgator and set up your actual blog!
After you’ve sorted your domain name and hosting package with HostGator you need to install WordPress, this is what you will actually be using on a day to day basis to run your website. To install WordPress follow the steps below:
- Once you’re logged into your HostGator dashboard, click on “Hosting” and then in the next screen “Get started with WordPress today”. On the next screen click on WordPress.
- Select your domain name from the dropdown menu and hit next. In the next screen you need to insert your user information. The Blog Title will presumably be your blog name, and it helps to have the same username too, so when you reply to comments on your posts, people know you’re the writer
- Once WordPress is installed it will show you a screen with your username and a preset password. You can reset this by clicking on “reset password”, and they’ll send you instructions on how to do so.
And that’s it really! Once you have your hosting sorted the hard technical part is over, you just need to get comfortable with WordPress to make your blog look like you want it to.
Pros of HostGator: Cheap, good value for money, their servers rarely go down, quick and friendly customer service (when you’re a tech noob like me, that’s a big pro)!
Cons of HostGator: As your website grows their shared hosting plan can become quite slow with a risk for more outages, and upgrading to independent hosting is quite expensive. HostGator is great for starting out but when you reach a more pro level you might want to switch to something else.
Greta’s Travels was hosted on HostGator for 1.5 years until it reached 80,000 monthly views. It’s now hosted on Performance Foundry, a managed WordPress hosting that has helped speed up my website, can handle 140,000 monthly views and provides tech support for any HTML changes I want to make. It’s expensive (125 USD a month compared to the 3.95 USD of HostGator…) so it’s not for new bloggers, but if you’re ready for a step up and to consider your blog a business, it’s a good step to take.
Purchase your domain & hosting – Bluehost guide
Impeccable hosting is the most crucial element of every blog. When starting Wherelifeisgreat, I have analyzed multiple hosting companies on the market and have listed important questions to take into account when making a decision, such as:
1. How many times were the websites down because of the servers?
2. Does it offer 24/7 support? (You can’t imagine the importance of this!)
3. What is the yearly cost?
4. Does it offer free domain and one-click WordPress installation?
5. Is there a money back guarantee?
With that in mind, I recommend you Bluehost. With Bluehost, you can start your blog for only 3,95 USD/month, and you get a free domain as well. But my favorite part is 24/7 support chat. I can’t stress enough how helpful it is!
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to start your blog with Bluehost:
- Similar to other hosting companies, first you need to choose a monthly plan. I recommend taking basic one as you can always upgrade it later on.
- Time to connect the domain. With Bluehost, you get a free domain and save yourself the trouble of setting a DNS server.
- I suggest choosing the 36-month plan as it gives you savings of 50%! With that plan, you get your hosting for 3,95/month which is sadly less than I spend on coffee! And you are in for a long game, right?
- If you can afford it, add SiteLock which will secure your contact data and Codeguard Basic for daily backups.
- With Bluehost, you get a one-click WordPress installation so no sweat. Simply, log in to your Bluehost account and go through set up. The only thing left to do is to choose a theme.
Pros of Bluehost: Impressive 24/7 chat support, inexpensive monthly plans, free domain name registration, free SSL certificate included and 1-Click WordPress Install!
Cons of Bluehost: I really didn’t have any issues with Bluehost but as all cheap hosting providers, it can become slow, the more traffic comes your way.
Pick a theme
WordPress themes are what make your website look pretty with minimal effort even for us coding noobs. There are so many different themes available online that it’s easy to feel lost when picking one, I know the struggle! Especially since there are both free and paid themes, what is the difference between them?
Free themes: There are a lot of free themes out there (you can find them on wordpress.org) which are a great option if you want to keep costs low. However I have heard that these can sometimes mess up as your website grows.
Premium themes: If you want to play it safe, and have a theme that looks professional from day one, you should invest in a premium theme. Premium themes usually come with more detailed set up instructions and a more active customer support. If there is something about your theme you want to tweak you submit a ticket and someone will respond pretty quickly. They are also built more professionally and you don’t run risks of them crashing as your site grows. Some websites that sell good premium themes include:
- StudioPress: I bought the first theme for Greta’s Travels from StudioPress. Their customer service is amazing and if you have any questions on how to customize something, or fix it after you attempted it yourself and then broke it (yes this happens to me a lot) they are always really quick at responding and are super helpful. However over time I didn’t like their theme as much as it wasn’t always easy to customise new pages and display new blog posts on them.
- SoloPine: Greta’s Travels now has a Solo Pine theme. These are built with bloggers in mind and so is much easier for me to manage as it does everything I want it to. One drawback it has is that it’s a bit slow.
- Hello You Designs: From Zero To Blog Hero has theme from Hello You Designs. Their set up instructions aren’t as clear as StudioPress but their themes are beautifully built, light and easy to customise.
- Envato Market: Where Life Is Great had two different themes and both were from Envato Market. The Fox theme was the first theme that I used on Wherelifeisgreat. It had a great support! As Wherelifeisgreat started to grow, I felt the need to rebrand my blog, simplify the structure and design, so I changed to the Pillar theme.
Once you have chosen your theme you will have to install it into WordPress. It will come as a .ZIP file when you download it. You just need upload into WordPress by going in the left-hand column to Appearance > Themes > upload. One thing to note is that your website won’t look exactly like the theme demo the moment you upload it, you will need to customise it and spend some time making it look pretty. It will take time but when you get a beautiful website that looks professional, it will be worth it.
Install your plugins
Once you’ve installed WordPress go to your domainname.com/wp-admin and you can log in with the username and password that you created. You will land on your WordPress dashboard, from which you can create
The first thing you want to do is install plugins. Plugins are a way to add functionality to your website, without having to do any fancy coding (eg. The social media icons that you see on the side / bottom of this post to share it are a plugin). There are thousands of different plugins that do loads of different things. Whatever feature it is you want to add to your website, there is most likely a plugin for it. One thing to note is that plugins make your website slow, you don’t want to download too many if they’re not absolutely essential.
Some of the most basic and essential plugins you will want to install when you first create your blog are the following:
- Akimset: This automatically filters comments left on your site to avoid spam comments.
- Yoast SEO: This plugin is a bit controversial as you shouldn’t actually be following its street light system to determine whether you have good SEO implemented on your blog posts, but it still has a lot of good features such as easily editing your meta description, title that appears in search results and post URL. If you’re not sure what SEO means, check out our beginners introduction to SEO!
- SumoMe: This is a social sharing plugin. It’s the one that powers those social media share icons on the side of this page (or bottom if you’re on mobile). Which by the way, if you want to click and share this with your friends would make me very happy!
- Google Analytics for WordPress: Even if you’re not planning on become a professional blogger it’s important to know who your readers are and what they like reading, and this is what Google Analytics will show you.
- BackWPup: Once you start writing the worst thing that could happen is losing your work, BackWPup will make sure this doesn’t happen. You can schedule backups so that even if you forget, it’s working automatically in the background.
You’re all set on the technical basics and it’s time to start writing! You might want to start with an about or contact page, but it’s really up to you what you want to write first. If you feel ready to tackle the next big steps in blogging, check out these articles:
- How to get more page views from Google
- How to explode your blog traffic with Pinterest
- How to monetise your blog
- How to grow a following on social media
We hope you found this guide useful, if you have any questions just leave us a comment below and we will do our best to answer. We wanted to outline how to create a website with a step by step guide so that you can easily follow it. We also included more than one hosting and theme providers so that you know what options you have before committing to one.
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