Starting a blog is honestly one of the best decisions I ever made, and it’s opened up so many doors for me, from introducing me to some awesome internet friends to sparking conversations in job interviews. Whether you’re pursuing a new hobby or trying to make passive income, blogging is a great way to share your experiences with others and be creative in a space that’s entirely your own. I was able to make hundreds of dollars a month throughout college, get a taste of entrepreneurship while exploring career paths, and learn about what it takes to run a business all before I walked the stage at graduation. Whatever path you’re on now, blogging can add an empowering perspective to your experiences!
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Today, I’m going to teach you how to start your own in less than half an hour so you can start writing as soon as you want! I’ve been doing this thing for a while, so if you have any questions along the way, like picking a plan or finding a certain page, I’m happy to help and give any advice I can!
The blog we’ll be starting on this tutorial will be using WordPress (it’s one of the most popular softwares used to make blogs on) and SiteGround (a hosting service). If that’s a bit confusing, don’t worry; we’ll clear things up in a couple paragraphs!
For some background, I recommend SiteGround for your hosting service because it’s inexpensive ($3.95 a month with my link), easy to set up, very reliable, and trusted throughout the blogger community (just check out any blogger Facebook group or Google them). I’ve used SiteGround myself for years, and haven’t had a single problem with them! Their customer service is extremely helpful, and they had my blog transferred over from my previous host in a day. They can even help with technical issues like redirecting your posts or guiding you through setting up your blog! It’s also great to know that tons of other bloggers use and love SiteGround, so I’m definitely not a rare case!
Aside from great customer service (which you’ll seriously appreciate if you run into trouble starting your blog), they’re known for having some of the best page load and performance speeds out there and top notch security features. These details really start to matter as you grow your blog, so having a good foundation is key!
The money thing.
Yes, starting a self-hosted blog costs money. I’ve spent years getting emails from new bloggers asking if they should start on a free platform like Blogger or go for self-hosted, and here are my thoughts:
Blogger is totally fine, that’s where I started blogging! But as soon as I decided I wanted to do more than just occasional hobby-writing, things got difficult. It was hard to get my design to look the way I wanted, because there are only so many ways you can rearrange things on free platforms (if you’re on a computer, see how my front page has that slider at the top and a grid below with pictures below it? You can’t do that on free platforms!). I wanted my blog to look unique, and that’s hard when you don’t have a ton of control over your design.
Some free platforms also have rules against making money on your blog, or adding ads to it. I didn’t want any boundaries preventing me from growing my blog.
And…unless you’re in a position where $5 a month isn’t something you can spare (in that case, it totally makes sense to go with a free platform), then $5 a month really isn’t that much to invest in a hobby or business! Within a year of switching to WordPress I was making enough money to cover my hosting multiple times over. Even if you don’t make a cent blogging, spending a few dollars a month to have your own space on the internet is still pretty fun and empowering.
Lastly, it’s very normal for hosting services to sell subscriptions in three, six, or twelve+ month subscriptions. You’ll get a lower price/month the more months you purchase, so I always suggest going for the twelve month option! A year is a good amount of time to play around with your blog and decide if it’s for you.
If you have any hesitations about starting on WordPress, I’m happy to answer any questions you have!
First off, let’s get some vocab straight.
Self-hosted – basically, every website you’ve ever visited is hosted “somewhere”. The technical details of where don’t really matter in this case. Being hosted means anyone can type your URL into their search bar and end up on your website when they press enter, so of course, your blog needs to be hosted so people can see it!
A self-hosted blog is one where you’ll be taking care of your website’s hosting yourself. In this case, we’re using SiteGround to host our blog.
WordPress – we’re using the WordPress.org version of WordPress, aka the self-hosted version. This is different from WordPress.com, so make sure you know which one you’re trying to set up! Basically, you’re creating your blog using the toolset that WordPress.org offers, which includes things like a dashboard where you make your posts and support for a bunch of cool themes. You won’t actually be downloading anything on the actual WordPress.org website, since SiteGround has a nifty connection with them that lets them do all the installing for you!
Domain – if you already have a blog, there’s a good chance it’s a subdomain, like yourdomain.blogspot.com. On WordPress, you have to use a regular domain, like yourdomain.com. We’ll be setting that up in one of the first steps!
How to Start A Blog On WordPress with SiteGround
1. Setting Up Your Hosting + Domain
First, go to the SiteGround website. Here you’ll have to decide which hosting plan you want. The plan you choose will depend on your site traffic and how big your website is (if you’re a photography website for example, you’ll need more storage than the average blogger). The information below each plan will help guide you!
I chose the GrowBig plan because my blog ranges from 50,000 pageviews during slow months to around 300,000 during peak months, so to keep page speeds high this was the best decision for me. If you’re just starting out though, the StartUp plan should be perfect for you!
Now you’ll need to set up your domain. I purchased my domain name through Namecheap so that my domain and hosting would be maintained through separate companies. That way if something goes wrong with one of them, you still have control of the other! Namecheap has a super easy-to-use website, and after trying out several other domain registrars, they’re definitely my favorite. Buying a domain is as simple as searching for the domain you want and adding it to your cart! You can also get the WhoisGuard addon if you prefer (I do).
If you’d rather keep things together though, you can get a domain name through SiteGround as well.
Finally, you’ll need to decide how many months you want to pay for. I haven’t found a host that lets you pay month by month, so this upfront payment is very normal! You’ll only get the discounted price for the months you pay for right now (that $3.95 you see for the StartUp plan), so I recommend paying for as many months as you comfortably can. I opted for the 24 month payment, knowing that I could hopefully earn back most of what I paid by making money on my blog!
You’ll also see an add-on section with a HackAlert offer. I don’t know a ton about how necessary or effective this is, but for $12 per year, I felt it was well worth it for just the assurance that my site is safe!
Once you’ve double-checked your choices, input all the rest of your information and finish the setup!
2. Setting Up WordPress
Now for this part, you can actually ask a SiteGround employee to set up your site for you if you’d rather not go step by step! Just go here and click the LIVE CHAT button at the top of the website and ask them to set up your WordPress website. If you’d rather have more control, here’s the step by step process!
First, select the My Accounts tab from your SiteGround homepage and click the red Go To cPanel button.
Now select the WordPress icon under the AutoInstallers section, then click the blue Install button.
Fill in all the blanks, and don’t hesitate to use that Live Chat button if you get stuck! Here are some general tips:
Choose Protocol: you’ll most likely just want http://
Choose Domain: if you only have one site, it should already be selected. Otherwise, just choose the one you want to set up WordPress on!
In Directory: unless you’re using your base domain name for something different and are trying to install on a subdomain, this should just be left blank!
Site Name: type your blog name here (this can be changed later)
Site Description: type a very short description of your blog here (this can be changed later). Mine is “A College + Lifestyle Blog”
Admin Username: come up with a username to log into your WordPress dashboard with. Write this on a sticky note!
Admin Password: come up with a password to log into your WordPress dashboard with. Make sure it’s unique and impossible to guess! I recommend using random letters and symbols. Write this on a sticky note!
Admin Email: type your email here
Select Language: pretty self explanatory
Select Plugins: you can select to use these plugins if you want, I personally didn’t
Choose a Theme to Install: you can either select a theme here, or install it in a few seconds through your WordPress dashboard (I recommend this route)
Click that Install button and head to your WordPress dashboard! You’ll find that at http://yourBlogName.com/wp-admin.
3. Installing Your Design
If you’ve already found a theme for your site, you’re one step ahead! Otherwise, visit this post for some tips on finding one. I’m using a custom design I made on the Genesis Framework using the Glam Pro Theme. I wrote several posts on why I love the Genesis Framework and how to use it to your advantage if you’re considering this route!
Now that you have a theme, go to your WordPress dashboard and select Appearance > Themes. Then click Add New and Upload Theme. Upload the .zip file for your theme you downloaded, and click Install Now.
Congrats, you’re finished! Here’s a few basic things you should know when you start diving into your new blog:
The Basics Of WordPress
Now that your blog is set up, you’ll want to play around with your WordPress dashboard to figure out where things are and how to do things like post, add widgets, and customize your theme. I’ll start with the links on the side of your dashboard:
Posts: You’ll be using this one a lot! This is where you create new posts. You can also decide which category they belong to, add tags to them, and set a featured image.
Media: All of your images will be stored here. That’s basically its only purpose!
Pages: Unlike posts, pages don’t get published to your main blog feed, but are great for making important information available to your readers. Some basic pages you’ll want to make are About and Contact, but you can create as many as you want!
Comments: This is where you can monitor any comments being made on your posts. You’ll probably only need to come here if you want to delete a bunch of comments or see if you’re getting a lot of spam comments.
Appearance: You’ll notice this link has a lot of sub-tabs when you hover over it. “Themes” lets you edit which theme you’re using, “Customize” lets you change some basic design features of your blog (like colors, logos, and layouts), “Widgets” lets you add new widgets to specified areas throughout your blog (like in your sidebar), “Menus” lets you add navigation bars to your blog with links to important pages (like the one on top of this blog), and “Editor” is where your code lives, so if you have something specific you want to change about your blog design (like font sizes or link colors), you’ll probably be editing a CSS stylesheet in here.
Plugins: These are one of the best parts of using WordPress! Plugins add new functionality to your blog, and these are some of my favorites:
- Disqus – this is a really popular commenting system that I use on my blog. It lets your readers comment on your posts by signing in through their Twitter or other social accounts, and you can check out what it looks like by scrolling to the bottom of one of my posts!
- jQuery Pin It Button – you’ll notice that if you scroll over an image in my post, a little pin pops up that you can click on to pin that post. This is the plugin I used to do that, and it’s super easy to set up!
- Yoast SEO – – if you don’t know what SEO is, basically just know that there are some things you can do on your blog that make it show up more in search engines, bringing in more readers. This plugin makes it incredibly easy to maintain good SEO on your blog, and it will guide you through setting everything up when you install it.
Users: Since you’re going to be the only writer on your blog, you won’t need to use this page.
Tools: Unless you’re trying to import stuff from an old blog, you won’t need to use this page either!
Settings: This is where your blog and plugin settings pages are. There’s a lot in here, but the main settings you’ll be messing with are:
- Tagline – this is the tidbit of info that shows up next to your blog name when it shows up on google and in the tab on your browser. Mine is “College + Life Tips” for reference! You’ll find it under General settings.
- Front page – if you’re just writing blog posts, you don’t need to mess with this setting. If you decide you want a dedicated home page though (to show off courses or products), you can change this setting to “a static page”. You’ll find this under Reading settings.
- Blog posts to show at most – if your blog is loading slowly, it might be because you have too many posts displaying on your front page! A good number is anywhere from 3 to 6 posts. You’ll find this under Reading settings.
- Permalinks – for the best SEO, I’d suggest setting your permalink to “post name”. That way your links don’t have a ton of unnecessary numbers and dates, and look so much cleaner!
If you need some more help getting started, check out the posts I’ve listed below or visit my blogging archives for over 50 posts on blogging!