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You’ve got something you want to write about…cooking, travel, financial independence. It doesn’t matter what the subject is, you’ve got a subject close to your heart you want to make a blog about. You’ve never done it before, so perhaps you’re wondering how to set up a blog? Things have come a long way from the days of people hand making web pages for every new post. It’s now so simple that no technical experience is required, thanks to a great platform called WordPress.
If you’re keen to learn more then keep reading, as we go through the steps of how to set up a blog and find some inexpensive web hosting that even people who are scared of technology will be able to follow.
Want to read a complete guide to starting a blog or website? Read my full guide here which explains everything from choosing a domain name to buying hosting to choosing a theme and making your site look good.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a term we’ll mention a lot. What is it? WordPress is a free blogging platform that makes setting up a blog and posting new content incredibly easy. No technical knowledge required. It’s incredibly popular too. Surveys repeatedly have 20% (or more) of all the sites on the internet sites using it.
WordPress is open source which means the code is freely available for people to see and edit. This, combined with it’s popularity, means there are lots of plugins, things you can add to WordPress to provide extra functionality and themes that help your site look its best.
As an example of what a WordPress site can look like, digitalnomadwannabe.com is built using WordPress, so is wheressharon.com. You can see how each WordPress site can look quite different.
First Steps, what is your blog called?
Blogs need a domain name – that’s what you type into your browser to go to the site. Pick a name, and use a Whois Service to see if it is taken. If the service gets no results then the domain is available and you can buy it using a domain registrar – a company that sells domain names.
We recommend Namecheap, because their prices are good and include Whois Guard for free. This keeps your details hidden from Whois searches. Otherwise anyone on the internet can see your personal details such as your address.
Some web hosts will throw in domain name registration if you buy a hosting package with them. The best hosting for WordPress we use, SiteGround, is one such company. However, Whois privacy costs extra.
Web Hosts and the Best Hosting for WordPress
A web host will “host”, that is put, your web site on a computer connected to the internet all the time – a web server. You can share a web server or you can have your own on a Virtual Private Server (or VPS for short). We’ll discuss the VPS option later, but shared hosting is the quicker, easier option.
Good web hosting is not expensive. Inexpensive web hosting can had for a few US dollars a month. The best hosting for WordPress though includes access to a tool called cPanel which makes the set up very easy (you’ll see how easy soon).
Of the many good web hosting companies I have looked into, SiteGround stands out amongst the best hosts for WordPress. They include cPanel access, have great support, are cheap and are quick and easy to get started.
Now for the “Set Up” in “How To Set Up a Blog”
Now we get to the important part: how to set up the blog itself. I could go through each step but Sharon’s made a great step by step video. It starts with buying hosting from SiteGround and moves on to using cPanel to setup WordPress:
It’s that easy. Some things may differ for other hosts (like how to get to cPanel). And just to back up what Sharon said, do not use admin as an admin username and check to make sure you’re password isn’t on this list.
Once complete you can head over to http://<your domain> to see your new site. Or go to http://<your domain name>/wp-login to enter the admin console of your new blog, where you can create new posts or change settings.
DNS Settings for your site
Sharon mentioned this, but just to be clear: if you purchased your domain name and hosting separately you need to let the registrar know the host’s DNS Servers, so other people can find your site.
The DNS servers – which look like “dns1.host.com” – will typically be emailed to you with details of your new hosting or listed when you log into your hosting account. For SiteGround log in to your account, go to My Accounts, and under Information & Settings you’ll see the servers.
This then is entered somewhere in the settings for your domain in your registrar account. It differs from registrar to registrar so I can’t be more specific here, but if you’re stuck then leave a comment or use Google and between us we should be able to help. It’s usually obvious.
The default appearance looks boring. But people pick WordPress for a reason. The big range of themes and plugins means you can make WordPress look and act in a massive variety of ways. From the admin console you can view and apply new themes or search for plugins to make your site do whatever you want.
There’s lots of advice regarding what plugins and themes to use, but you’ll need to experiment to find out what works for you. Most plugins and themes are free, but some must be purchased. Free plugins usually cover most people’s needs. For themes however, the quality of the paid ones is usually far higher than the free ones, so we do recommend buying a paid theme (usually around $50). We love the good looking themes built for speed and social media at Thrive Themes.
Hosting on a VPS
Before finishing, let’s look a little at hosting on a VPS. A VPS is your own virtual computer connected to the internet all the time. However unlike shared hosting where things come set up for you, with a VPS you need to set things up from scratch. Everything. Nothing is set up for you. Consequently you need to do some research and/or have some technical knowledge to make use of it. If things go wrong you’ll get far less support: there’s an expectation you know what you’re doing – unless you pay the big bucks to have someone take care of this for you.
So what are the benefits, then? Well, for starters you’re not limited to just one site. Depending on what level of VPS you buy you can run many more sites. For example, this blog is on a VPS running multiple WordPress sites and some non-WordPress ones, for about the cost of an inexpensive shared web hosting plan. And, if you’re into learning how things work at a technical level then you get to learn a lot.
Given its a whole computer at your disposal you can do a lot more than run websites if you want.
Virtual Private Servers can be very cheap, $1US a month even, but I’ve had dirt cheap providers disappear on me, and take my server with them, as it’s a low margin game. For cheap VPSs I use BuyVM, run by Frantech. They’ve been around for some time, and have provided good service, for currently $3 a month. Sometimes they can be out of stock, as they’re quite popular (for good reason). You can also have your own VPS on SiteGround, but you will pay a lot more money for it.
If you are new to blogging, you will not need a VPS so unless you love playing with all things technical, stick with the shared hosting discussed above.
Other hosting options
And that’s it! Now you know how to set up a blog running on WordPress with the best WordPress host we know. If you’ve gotten confused at all or need help then please leave a comment and we’ll try and help you out, or check out our free service to do this for you.
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