How to Start a Blog

When I first decided to start a blog, I did a bunch of research and joined many groups to discover the best services and prices out there to get going. After some deliberation, I went with Bluehost because of the low cost to get started, live chat if you have issues, a free domain name and easy integration with WordPress (the “frontend” of your site that people see, whereas Bluehost is the “backend” that only you see where your files, etc are stored).

NOTE: Make sure to check out my Blogging Resources page where I list helpful plugins, products and programs I personally use on my site!

Why Should I Pay For Hosting?

If you plan on creating a blog that you can customize to your heart’s content (meaning you control all the content, including if you want ads) or if you want to make money from your blog, you will need your own hosting. Hosting just means you are paying a company to store your site for you (all files, your theme (the look of your site), etc), rather than going through a free site that will host for you but will require you to display their ads (so they can make money!).

Some people already have free blogs and may want to switch to a hosted blog. Bluehost can do that! I didn’t have to do this, so you will need to do your research on how to merge your old free site into your new, hosted site. Plus, Bluehost can help! I’ve personally contacted Bluehost many times for help on live chat.

If you have done your research and also think that Bluehost is the best service to get started, here is how you can get yourself set up.

How To Set Up Your Account

First, head over to Bluehost and click “Get Started Now.”

Depending on what you need, you can now select from tiered plans that fit the site(s) you want to create. For many of us, the basic plan is an inexpensive package to get you started (this is what I went with).

NOTE: Keep in mind that you will pay for the full term of your service, so a 36 month basic plan will be billed in full upon completion of this process. While this seems daunting, this locks in the super low rate and then you are set for 3 YEARS!

Now here’s the fun part! What do you want your domain (URL/web address) to be? Make sure to choose something you are happy with, that’s unique and easy for people to remember. There are TONS of websites out there (millions!) so if your first choice is taken, do some rethinking. I suggest trying not to include an underscore or dash (if possible) so punctuation isn’t an issue with users getting to your site (for example, if you like MamaWantsCoffee.com and it’s taken, I’d change it to ThisMamaWantsCoffee.com instead of Mama_Wants_Coffee.com). The shorter the better to remember for your followers!

If you already have a domain, just type it into the box on the right instead of typing in a new domain. There are a few extra steps (not pictured) to connect your URL to Bluehost (DNS).

Now that you have your domain set, enter your account information. There are some add-ons you can include with your plan. Just do your research to see if you think any of them would fit your needs. Personally, I only included the SiteLock Security to keep my personal information out of the public’s reach (so if anyone searches for the owner of my site, they will get Bluehost’s contact info, not mine!). Just know that you can add these services down the road if you want. But, if they are right for you, why not take advantage of it now?

Now that your account info is all set and your plan and any add-ons have been chosen, it’s time to pay for your service(s).

Then, click on “Create your password” to create your login password for Bluehost.

Try to choose a password that is complex enough to provide a good security barrier for your site (include numbers, uppercase, lowercase and maybe punctuation as allowed by Bluehost). Make sure to write down your password for future reference!

 

Now just log in to Bluehost with the URL and password you created.

You did it! Now it’s time to choose a WordPress theme for your site/blog. There are many free themes to choose from. But don’t stress too much! You can always change your theme later (I just suggest backing up your site/blog before changing your theme just in case it doesn’t merge properly).

Once you have chosen a theme, you will receive an “All done!” message. Just click “Start Building” to navigate to WordPress to get going!

There are different types of website or blogs. For example, if you wish to have a business site that takes payments, sells products, and advertises, select Business. For many of us bloggers, you can just select a personal site (this is what I did). Follow the steps to install WordPress.

Since you have just started, your site will be live only after you tell it to do so. If someone tries to visit your URL/domain right now, it will only display a “Coming Soon” landing page. So, you can create, build, tinker and create content before you go to your Dashboard and “Launch” your site for everyone to see.

Once you are done and have launched your site, it will then prompt you to name your site/blog and add a description. Remember, this information will be viewable by search engines and your followers. However, you can always edit this in your Settings.

Now, you are all set! You may login to your Bluehost CPanel where you can view your account info, available add-ons, create email addresses (the my.bluehost.com will give you the option to go to your “backend” OR to your email service), chat with Bluehost, and anything else you may need.

However, to access your WordPress “frontend” site, you will go to your admin login URL (look for the URL that ends in “WP-Admin”). This is where I spend 99% of my time, not needing much from the Bluehost login (yay for us less techy people!). From WordPress, you will create pages, update the look and feel of your site and, of course, write posts and content!

Happy blogging!!

See my Blogging Resources page for other blogging tips and services I use.