Several years ago – before I started my first self-hosted WordPress blog, I was totally clueless. I needed a start a blog guide so desperately!
These days there are no shortage of “how to start a blog” tutorials to be found on Pinterest, but when I started out, they were a lot harder to find. When I did find a tutorial of some sort, it wasn’t that easy to follow.
I was still confused.
I think part of the problem is that there are so many unfamiliar terms presented to you when you go to start a blog that it becomes super overwhelming!
Thankfully, I made my way through the process (which was not nearly as daunting as I had first imagined).
One of the things I thought was SO annoying when looking through start a blog tutorials was that everyone told you how to start the blog, but nobody told you what to do next. I purchased my domain and got my hosting, but then what?
I want to help you through the process of how to start a blog with as little confusion as possible. The initial process is easy – I promise you that!
But I’m not gonna leave you hanging after that! I’ll explain everything, but if you have a question – any at all – please just email me or comment and I will help you out.
If you kind of want to start a blog, but you are not sure if you should, head over to —this post to see why you should (or shouldn’t) start a blog.—
Okay! Are you ready to start a blog? Let’s get right to it.
Where are you going to blog? There are lots of options out there, free and paid.
I started several blogs years ago on Blogger, and even though they allowed me to do what I wanted to do at the time, I definitely do not recommend going that route.
The reason I would avoid Blogger and WordPress.com (the free version of WordPress) is because they seriously limit your capabilities to establish your brand and to make money, and they don’t look nearly as professional. If you want to start a blog to make money and/or run a business, a free platform is not going to be in your best interest.
When I started blogging, I didn’t even know I could make money from a blog, so that wasn’t on my radar, and I also wasn’t thinking about customization and branding my blog.
While that is totally okay if your goal is just to have an online diary that your friends and family can read, chances are that if you are on my site, your goal is to start a blog that is profitable, professional, and money-making. If this is true for you, then you definitely will want to go self-hosted with a WordPress.org site from the start.
My blog is a WordPress.org self-hosted blog, with hosting by HostGator.
In this tutorial, I’m going to be showing you how to start a blog using HostGator.
Let’s get your blog started. This actual process, setting up your domain and hosting, will only take about 10 minutes and is super simple. And don’t worry – I’ll let you know what to do next AFTER you get the blog registered.
STEP ONE: Choose and register your domain name.
What is a domain name?
This just means that you need to decide what your blog’s web address is going to be. Mine is www.kelleyhays.com.
You can choose between using your name as your domain as I did or putting a little bit of creative thinking into the mix and coming up with a unique brand name for your blog. Neither is better than the other, but it is something you’ll have to put some thought into. You definitely want to think it through and decide before you actually start a blog, since you’ll have to register your domain name before you can get your blog set up.
Of course, to decide on your blog’s domain name, you have to know your niche. I recommend having a pretty narrow blog niche. I wrote a post on 2 epic blogging mistakes I made, and one of them has to do with my niche. If you want to check that out, the post is —here—.
Where should I get my domain name?
Once you decide on a name, you need to register your domain. I’ve used GoDaddy every time I’ve purchased a domain. Their site is super simple to use. NameCheap is another great option. Domain names can vary a bit in price, but they are all very inexpensive – about $10 or so for a year. Just type in the blog web address you’d like to use, then select the extension, which is the .com or .net, etc. I would highly suggest doing a .com because it looks the most professional.
Choose your name & go register it.
If you choose to go with GoDaddy, just type in the domain name you want in the search box and see if it is available. I’d highly recommend going with a domain you can get a .com address for. Even though you totally can use a .net, .biz, or other extensions, they are just not perceived as quite as professional as a .com.
Once you find the perfect domain and it is available, check the box and click to checkout.
Next, you just have to fill out your billing options and choose how many years you want to register your domain for, then pay for your order. That’s it!
Once you have purchased your domain name, you’re ready for hosting.
STEP TWO: Purchase your web hosting.
What is web hosting?
A web host like HostGator is a company that stores and hosts all of the content and files for your blog and delivers them to the screen of your visitors.
Where should I get my web hosting?
I use and recommend HostGator. It was recommended to me when I went to start a blog, and it has been an awesome decision for my blog. There are SO many hosts available out there to choose from. BlueHost is another popular choice. I personally love HostGator and will always recommend them because they have made my experience in starting blogs so seamless and easy.
HostGator has a super easy installation for WordPress, 24/7 customer support if you need help, and they also have a money back guarantee if you are not happy with them. Their hosting is reliable and I have never had a single problem with their service.
Sign up for a HostGator Account
You’ll want to head over to HostGator and select a hosting plan. Either the hatchling or the baby plan are fine. If you think there is a chance you may want more than one domain at some point, I would splurge and spend the extra $2 a month to go with the baby plan (what I have). Click on whichever plan you decide on.
Enter your domain name
Now you’ll want to enter the domain name you purchased into the box and click on “I already own this domain.”
Choose your billing options
Now, you’ll choose how you want to pay for your hosting. You can pay by the month, or pay in larger chunks at a discount. When I started, I went with the monthly plan because I was on a tight budget. To be honest, if you can swing it, going with one of the longer plans will save you both time and money. Plus, if you are in it for the long haul and know you are going to turn this blog into a business, paying for a year or more up front can be motivating to keep working. Either way will totally work. You’ll also choose a pin here.
Next, just enter your billing details.
The next thing it is going to do is show you additional services that you can add to your hosting. You can go ahead and uncheck all of these if you want – that is what I did at first to keep costs low.
Review Order Summary:
Then, you’ll check that you’ve read the terms of services (because you did, right? :P) Then, you’ll be taken to your purchase summary. This will vary depending on what plan you chose and for how long you purchased it (monthly, 1 year, 3 year, etc.)
Click checkout & Check Email
Now all you have to do is click checkout now to complete your purchase.
You now officially have your own web domain and a blog hosting service! You are now the owner of your own .com!
What to Do Next to Get Things Set Up
Step One: Check Account Details
Go ahead and check your email next. You’ll receive your Account Details email from HostGator. The email will tell you the following:
You can login to our billing system at http://gbclient.hostgator.com/
Shared Plan: Baby
Your Control Panel: A link to your HostGator control panel will be here
Domain: your new domain will be here
1st Nameserver: server link will be here
2nd Nameserver: server link will be here
Server IP: IP address will be here
Step Two: Connect GoDaddy Domain Name to Your HostGator Hosting
The next thing you’ll need to do is connect or point your new domain name to your HostGator hosting.
For this step, you’ll need the 1st and 2nd nameservers that are listed in your account details email (the one we just looked at).
Go ahead and click over to your control panel (the link in the email), then use the username and password to log in.
Also, log in to your GoDaddy account. You will see “domains”. Click on “manage” next to domains.
Next, click the checkbox next to your new domain name, then click nameservers and click set nameservers.
A popup will come up with nameserver settings. Click on custom, and then at the bottom “add nameserver”
Now, just copy and paste the nameservers you received in your account details email into the boxes and press okay.
It can take a few hours (max 24 hours) to complete this connection.
Step Three: Install WordPress
You are now ready to install WordPress. Just login to your HostGator control panel again and locate the round WordPress logo that says WordPress 1 Click Installation. It looks like a circle with a big W in it. Click on that.
After you click, it is going to take you to a new page. Near the top it says install WordPress for free. Click on Install WordPress.
Next, select your domain from the drop down.
Leave the box to the right of that with the install/path/here box blank.
Fill in the rest of the details with your email, name, HostGator admin username, and blog title. Then click to install WordPress.
Now, it will take a couple of minutes to finish the install. You’ll see a success message when it’s done.
You can then click on view credentials to see your blog login page, username, and password. This is also sent to you in an email. The blog login page is where you will be logging in every day to write blog posts, make changes to your blog, etc. It’s important info!
Guys, I am so excited for you!! All you have left to do is go to your blog login page (admin page) and log in!
Go and do that now! Your blog is officially ready to go! This is where I don’t want you to get overwhelmed. There are SO many things to do now, so I want to guide you through the basics so you will have a good feel for the WordPress platform and how to use it.
Step Four: Go Through the Tutorials
Now all you have to do is set your blog up with a theme, branding, plugins, widgets, menus, and start creating content to post. No worries, I’m going to help you go through all of that too.
Just click through the tutorial posts below! You don’t necessarily have to do them in this exact order, so if there is something you are excited about, you can jump to it and then come back later to the others.
( If the link is not available yet, that tutorial is coming up this week, so check back!)
How to Start a Blog with HostGator — You are here
How to Set up Your Blog Theme
Must-Have Blog Plugins & How to Add Them to your Blog
How to Add Widgets to Your Sidebar
Blog Menus: What you Need to Know
How to Create Your First Blog Post
Perfect Blog Post Blueprint