How to Start a Blog – Your Self-hosted WordPress Guide (2018)
Updated May 4th, 2018
Welcome to the Ultimate How to Start a WordPress Blog Guide!
By following this step-by-step article, you’ll have your very own blog up in no time.
If you’re still on the fence in regards to starting a blog, read 7 Life-changing Reasons to Start a Blog Today first. It will provide you with a valuable insight on the benefits of creating a blog and I think many of the reasons listed those reasons will convince you to get started.
Otherwise, if you’re ready, let’s begin!
**Disclaimer: Some links on this page might be affiliate links that provide me with a commission per sale. It doesn’t cost you any extra so don’t worry! All earnings help me keep this blog running and providing you with more articles in the future**
For this tutorial, we’ll be using WordPress. It’s the only blogging platform you’ll need to become a successful blogger. In fact, to reassure you, you should know that it’s the most used platform out there today with a market share of 59.9%. It’s also easy to learn, easy to use, fully customizable, and currently contains over 30,000 plugins available to self-hosted users.
What You’ll Need:
- Web Hosting – The hosting provider that will store your blog’s files
- Domain Name – The URL of your website. (ie. www.aspiringbloggers.com)
- ** Blog Theme – a ready-to-use website design that can be installed on WordPress
Breakdown of costs for this guide:
- Web Hosting – $3.95 USD per month for the first year, $10 USD per month afterwards) Paid one year up front = $47.40 USD
- Domain Name – $14.95 USD per year for most domains.
- Blog Theme – Lots of free themes available on WordPress. Premium themes can be purchased for $15 – $60 USD
- Total cost for your first year of blogging: $14.95 + $47.40 = $62.40 USD
For as little as 17 cents a day, you can begin the blog of your dreams.
How to Create Your Blog
To start your own blog, you’ll need to do the following:
- Sign up for Web Hosting and Purchase a Domain Name
- Install WordPress
- Choose a theme for your blog
- Design your blog
- Post your first article
- Promote, promote, promote!
I’ll be going over all of these steps with you.
Step 1. Sign up with Siteground and Register a Domain
The first step to creating a Self-hosted WordPress blog is choosing a fast and reliable web host. We’ve already done the research for you and found the best web hosting service provider for beginners.
For this tutorial, we’re going to be using Siteground Hosting
Siteground provides fast servers, the best customer support, and paramount security for your site. Read my in-depth review:
Article | The Best Web Hosting Service for New Bloggers
As mentioned earlier, signing up with Siteground will cost you $47.40 for the first year. You can decide to do 3 years to maximize the effect of the $3.95/mo sign up discount if you’d like.
If you’re ready, you can sign up here or click on the banner below
The landing page will give you three options to choose from.
Choose the “Startup” option from the packages above. It’s the only package you’ll need as a beginner blogger.
Purchase a Domain Name
On the next screen, you’ll need to register a new domain for your Self-Hosted WordPress blog.
Deciding a domain name can be quite difficult so it’s best to spend a bit of time thinking about it before choosing one. You can brainstorm a list of ideas and choose the name you think will best suit your blog.
When you’re ready, simply type in the domain you want and Siteground will check whether or not it’s available. In many cases, the domain you want might already be registered.
Note: While some websites such as www.godaddy.com offer domain names for as little as $9.99 USD a year, I prefer to purchase my domain names with my web host — Siteground. It’s a bit more expensive ($5 USD) but it just makes it easier to maintain if you keep your web host and domain registrar in one place. That way, you won’t have to go back and forth between your domain registrar and web host when you need to make changes on the back end. For a measly $5 more per year, you’ll gain convenience.
Let’s go over some of the options in the next section.
Location: Choose the location that’s closest to your target audience. The closer the servers are to your audience, the faster their connection speed to your site.
Domain Privacy: Select this add-on option if you don’t want your personal information to be seen when others search up the details of your site. It’s not mandatory to add this to your site but some people prefer the privacy.
SG Site Scanner: This add-on enables an additional level of protection on your site to prevent hacks. Might come in handy if you’re interested, but I’ll have other articles that will show you how to protect your site.
After carefully selecting your options, you can proceed to process your payment and then you’ll be able to create your account login information.
We’re done the first step!
Step 2. Install WordPress
Now we’re onto the good stuff — installing WordPress. Installing WordPress is easy!
On some occasions, Siteground will actually install WordPress for you during step 1. You can check by going to the domain you bought earlier. If it’s installed, skip to the bottom of step 2 to log into your site’s admin panel.
When you’re logged into your Siteground account, you can access the “My Accounts” tab. Then click on “Go to cPanel.”
In the Autoinstallers section, choose WordPress.
Click on Install. Configure the settings accordingly:
Choose Protocol: Select “https://”
Choose Domain: Select the domain you created earlier. This should be selected already by default but sometimes it may not
In Directory: Leave this field blank
Site Name: Enter the name of your website
Site Description: Enter the tagline for your site. You don’t have to spend much time thinking about this since you can always easily change it down the road
Enable Multisite (WPMU): Leave unchecked
Admin Username: Enter the username you wish to log in to your site with
Admin Password: Enter a password for the above username. (make sure the strength indicator is as high as possible)
Admin Email: Enter the email you wish to associate your login account with
Select Language: Choose whatever language you’re most comfortable with reading
Select Plugin(s): Leave both options unchecked
Choose a Theme to install: Leave it at none (we’ll be helping you find a theme in the next step)
Don’t touch the advanced settings and click install. After a few moments, WordPress will be successfully installed on your site!
You can now access your site by typing www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin and logging in with the account information you created earlier. Replace “www.yourdomain.com” with the domain you purchased in step 1.
This is the admin panel and where you’ll be changing your site’s appearance, and creating pages and posts.
Yay! We’re almost done.
Step 3. Choose Your WordPress Theme
Now we’re going to play around with installing a theme on your site. Themes are different layouts you can use to make your blog look just the way you want it.
To access all of the free themes that come available with WordPress, go to:
Appearance > Themes
located on the left side of your admin panel.
Click on the “Add New” button at the top and then browse until you find the theme you want to be installed on your blog. When you’re ready to install, just hover over it and click install and activate.
Voila! You now have a theme installed on your blog.
Note: There are hundreds of free to use WordPress themes out there, but I usually prefer to use premium themes for the following benefits:
- More features and customizability
- Theme support form author
- Makes your blog stand out more than free themes
Some premium themes are more expensive than others but it’s a one-time fee so you’ll have permanent access to the themes you purchase and you can even install them on multiple websites that you own.
My favourite sites to purchase themes from are:
You can find thousands of beautiful themes at these sites so it’s up to you to decide what theme suits your tastes and your blog.
If you’re having trouble, you can find a blog that you really like and then visit What WP Theme is That to identify what theme that blog is using. This only works if the blog is using WordPress and not a custom theme.
For further help with choosing a WordPress theme, read my friend, Marie’s guide on How to Choose a WordPress Theme.
Step 4. Design Your Blog
This is the fun part! After installing your theme, you get to make it look exactly the way you want!
Unfortunately, I can’t show you how to do this part because every theme has different settings when it comes to customizing the design of your blog. You’ll have to familiarize yourself with your theme’s settings and other configurations to make your blog look exactly the way you want it to look.
If you’re lucky, you may even find a theme that looks perfect to you from the start and then you won’t have to do much work.
I find the designing step to be the most time-consuming because even to this day, I’m still customizing the appearance of my blogs.
My suggestion to you would be to not focus too much on the design of your blog. After all, visitors aren’t going to return to your blog because it’s pretty, but because you have content worth reading.
Step 5. Post Your First Article
Now that you’ve officially finished setting up your Self-Hosted WordPress blog, it’s time to publish your very first blog article! Such exciting stuff.
On the left side of the admin panel, go to Posts > Add New to create an article. Be sure to include a lot of pictures and text! A minimum of 500 words per article will help your posts rank better on search engines because it will contain more keywords — words/search phrases commonly searched for.
Read The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to SEO and Higher Organic Traffic to learn more about search engine optimization and how it can help you grow your traffic.
Before you public your article to the public, you want to have a few articles written on your blog. That way, your readers can read through your stuff and know what to expect from you in the future.
They will also have a reason to subscribe!
Step 6. Share Your Blog
Sharing your articles is one of the most fun parts of being a blogger. You can choose what platforms you want to share your posts on and then get feedback or even comments from readers.
Here are some platforms that I recommend:
- Join blogging groups in your niche by searching for them in the search bar. Some groups have tens of thousands of members and it’s a great way for you to promote your content. Be sure to follow the rules of the groups so that you don’t get kicked out.
- Share posts on your timeline so that your friends and family can see them and share with their list of friends and family as well. This is a great way to get your blog rolling
- When making posts, be sure to use a lot of relevant hashtags! Include the hashtags in your comments and not in the post caption itself so that your caption doesn’t look spammy. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags in the comments so make sure you use of as many as you can
- Tweet your latest blog posts and use relevant hashtags
- Create conversations with other people in your niche by retweeting their posts, or commenting on them
- Create a board on Pinterest that is related to your blog. Be sure to pin links to your articles and to articles from other bloggers in your niche as well! The more you pin, the higher the chances are that your blog will be discovered by others on Pinterest.
- Join group boards in your niche. Some group boards have 100,000+ followers that you can share your posts with!
For more promotion tips, check out my post on How to Promote Your Blog Posts: 14 Methods That Guarantee Traffic.
Congratulations! You’ve now succeeded in creating a Self-hosted WordPress blog that you can call your own. It’s going to be a long but amazing journey from here on out but if you stick to it, it will be worth it.
My biggest advice to you is to do lots of research for your blog niche so you can learn what to do, what not to do and how to further the growth of your blog. There are successful blogs out there that are similar to yours and you can learn a lot from them.
That’s all for now! Be sure to subscribe and check out my other articles to learn more tips for growing your blog. Pin the image at the top to share this tutorial.