Start Your Own WordPress Blog – Here’s How

Start Your Own WordPress Blog

An easy step-by-step guide for the absolute beginner

Do you want to learn how to start your own WordPress blog like our Tales From the Dad Side blog, but have questions? I know that starting a blog is a little scary especially when you have no technical background and don’t know the first thing about coding! Well, don’t worry because you are not the first person that has been in this situation. Heck, I was there too! That’s why I have decided to create this guide to help answer as many questions and provide as much information as I can about how to start your own WordPress blog.

Whether you are a beginning blogger or already have a WordPress.com blog started, I will show you how to start your own WordPress blog using a hosted WordPress website, along with all the components you will need to consider to have your site running the best you can!

What this guide will not cover in depth is how to pick a niche. There are a ton of great articles out there on how to pick a niche to blog about. Also, this guide will not cover how to sign up for affiliate programs or any sort of instruction on how to make money from your site in great detail. However, we will touch on all of these subjects lightly.

Finally, I want to express that this guide only covers WordPress. There are a ton of other Content Management Systems (CMS) that you can use, but this guide only talks about WordPress.

Please Note: this is not a short guide as there are a TON of components that are involved when you start your own WordPress blog. I also want to inform you that there are affiliate links throughout this guide. If you are not familiar with what affiliate links are, read through this guide and I will explain. So let’s get started. Yes?

Who Is this Guide For?

When I first started out, I had no idea where to start, so I created this guide for the absolute beginner who has ideas and wants to express them through a blog of their own, but does not know where to start. This is a comprehensive guide that will walk you through all the parts needed to not only install your WordPress website, but also will expand past and help provide ideas on how to possibly monetize from it too.

Since hand-coding a website takes skill and can be very time consuming, using a CMS platform is a great way to get things rolling quickly. See… I have helped many others to design and build their websites and finally decided to create a guide that will help other people like you to understand where to start. However, there are so many choices of CMS platforms, which one do I use to teach about? Which is the best and which will work well for everyone from beginners to advanced level users?  Using past experience and a bit of research, I have found that WordPress was the right choice.

 

So why choose WordPress as a platform to teach about? It is easy to install and use, and is customizable to meet your needs. Plus, according to w3techs.com, WordPress is used by 28.0% of all websites, which means it is used by 59% of all people that use a CMS platform!

(CMS or a “Content Management System” is defined as a software application or set of related programs that are used to create and manage digital content. Simply put, its a program that will create, store, and manage your content for you.)

Start Your Own WordPress Blog

 




WordPress.com or WordPress.org? What to Use and What’s the Difference?

There are many people that may ask “I already have a WordPress.com website. Why do I need another?” While this may be true, there are some major differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org websites. Let’s start by covering WordPress.com.

When you want to start your own WordPress blog, there are major differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org websites. The main difference is the people that are storing your blog’s files. With a WordPress.com website, WordPress will take care of hosting your files for you. You do not need to worry about management of your web server, paying for a domain name, or the hosting, and there is no installation necessary. This sounds great! However, there are drawbacks, which I will explain in a minute.

WordPress.org websites, on the contrary, are websites that you will need to work more at to get started and the cost is greater. So why decide to choose a WordPress.org website when WordPress.com is free? This does not make any sense! Well… don’t forget the saying “You get What You Pay For.” Let me explain.

WordPress.com Pros

As stated, and as you may already know, WordPress.com is great for many when you want to start your own WordPress blog and are just starting to blog. There are other times that a free WordPress.com account would be great. For example, I had a relative create a free account as they were traveling around the USA for two months on and off. Creating this account was a great way to document all the places they have been along with posting pictures and different events they attended while at a certain location.

 

 

Start A WordPress Blog Unformatted Snippet- TFDS

 

As you can see, this is a great way to use the free account. They are not promoting anything and do not really care about the theme they use or much of anything else, because they are posting for fun. This works for what they want. They are not a business and do not need to have all the bells and whistles.

Some of the other pros of having a WordPress.com account:

  • It’s Free – Domain Name and Hosting do not cost anything
  • Easy to Use – You do not need any technical skills to create a free account and start posting. It’s easy to choose a theme, upload pictures, and change the color and logos.
  • Secure and Reliable – Since these accounts are hosted with the WordPress.com servers, the servers are spread across a slew of data centers to help with speed. Also, the security issues are always kept up for you.
  • Allows Mobile Posting

WordPress.com Cons

  • Quite Limited Control – As a customer with this service level, you have limited control over your website. For example, you will not be able to add any ads to monetize the site. You cannot add any code like Google AdSense or other affiliate code to show ads. On the other hand, WordPress will show their ads instead.
  • Limited Customization Control – You are limited to what you can do to the theme, plugins and domain name you want to use.
    • You cannot edit your domain. Your domain will default to YOUR_DOMAIN_NAME.wordPress.com. Due to this limitation as a website, with this type of name, it does not look very professional if you are using it for any type of business reasons.
    • You cannot upload any custom themes or plugins – This could be a big issue for any business. It will limit you from accomplishing certain tasks.
    • You will not be able to modify the code behind the look of your site – This is an issue for many that want to use this account for anything other than casual blogging. Imagine having a theme that you like, but the main logo is way too big and you want to adjust the size, or you want to change the font of the menu bar. Using this free account, you cannot do this.
  • Limited Performance – Since WordPress is like every other business, they are trying to make money by persuading you to purchase their upgrades. By limiting your performance, you will need to pay for upgrade fees to boost your performance.

Note: The above limited options can be upgraded to fix the limits. However, the price comparison for the upgraded options compared to hosting your own instance of a WordPress blog can be much more expensive. Here is a quick price comparison from WordPress.com to WordPress.org websites:

Following Infographic based off of WordPress.com Pricing Page and base prices found from other vendors online

Start Your Own WordPress Blog - TFDS

 

WordPress.org

Just as with the pros and cons of WordPress.com, the WordPress.org option has its own pros and cons. However, if you want to start your own WordPress blog for anything other than for some casual blogging, I strongly suggest that you choose this type of WordPress site as there are a ton more options, and you have much greater control of your blog overall. Have a look:

WordPress.org Pros

  • Domain Name – Unlike WordPress.com, with WordPress.org, you can select any domain name you want as long as the name is available. From a business standpoint, this is a must! Imagine having a website like talesfromthedadside.wordpress.com. Holy smokes that is a long name! How about a brand like Nike? Nike.wordpress.com… I think you get the picture. Having a custom domain name is a must if you want to sound like a reputable business.
    • The cost of a custom domain name with WordPress.org outweighs the price of a WordPress.com account too. The cost of a WordPress.com custom domain name will run you $18 if you register through them and $13 if you already have a domain name registered from elsewhere. These costs, even though not very much, are still quite a bit higher than what you can get a domain name from through other registrars (I will go through other registrars a bit later).
  • Hosting – Hosting costs vary from one host to another. There are many different hosts that you can choose from. Each host has its own pricing and tier structure. I will go deeper into hosting later in this guide, but just know that generally, there are many options to choose from with web hosts and they are all basically competitive, so prices are similar.
  • Disk Space / Storage – Disk space is the amount of storage that you will be able to have for your website. When first starting out, you will usually use a small amount of space. However, as time goes on, you will need to use more space for storage of images, PDFs, and other materials, which consumes space. When selecting a web host, you will usually be informed on how much storage or disk space each tier will allot. Most smaller tiers allow 50GB of disk space before you will need to upgrade.
  • Ad Free Website – You will have the option to add your own advertisements from affiliates and such to make some cash off of your website if you choose. If you choose not to display ads, then you will have no ads at all unlike the WordPress.com ads that display.
  • Customizations – With the ability to control your own website, you will be able to customize the way things look and work. This is generally accomplished through the customization of code like CSS and HTML/PHP, but can also be accomplished through plugins that will help with your specific need.

Start A WordPress Blog

WordPress.org Cons

As with anything, there are always some cons to consider. This is the same for when you want to start your own WordPress blog using a WordPress.org website. Here are a few of the down sides to WordPress.org websites:

  • Research – You need to do research for different web hosts. There are a slew of different hosts that offer different options and bonuses along with prices, speed, and bandwidth with each of their tiers. This takes time and some additional research if you do not know what some of the terms are.
  • Learning Curve – Unlike WordPress.com where you just create an account, select a theme and start posting, WordPress.org sites will require a bigger learning curve. Due to having greater control, you are faced with more to handle. Like Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben stated: “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” This holds true with your own WordPress.org website.
  • Maintenance and Security – To start your own WordPress blog using WordPress.org, there is maintenance and security upkeep involved. Don’t let this turn you off, as most of the security involves updating your theme and plugins, which is easy to do and usually only takes a minute or two.

 




 

Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

OK. So we have covered the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and the types of bloggers who should use each. Now, what about those that do not need to start their own WordPress blog because they have already started a blog in WordPress.com? They just want to migrate to their own website, but do not want to start over or go through a ton of copying and pasting. There is a solution for you as well! Plus, if you have subscribers, we can move them as well!

WordPress.com has a full guide on how to migrate your WordPress.com site to a self-hosted website located at https://move.wordpress.com/. The steps guide you through the basic steps needed to migrate. I will explain the whole process with greater detail, providing options along the way.

There are a number of steps that involve research and some navigation skills (figuring out where to go in the web hosts) to start your own WordPress blog on a new host. This process involves:

  • Research for a web host that will not only fit what you need, but fit your wallet as well
  • Moving your current WordPress.com blog to the new host
  • Installing a theme in the new host
  • Installing needed plugins
  • Getting a domain name for your new website
  • Moving your subscribers (if any) to the new host.

Ready to start? Let’s go!

Choosing a Web Host

There are many web hosts available to choose from. The host you choose is up to you. However, I am going to guide you through the process of where to start with some suggestions that I have learned.

Since there are so many hosts, I am going to talk about the top three that I suggest to start your own WordPress blog. These are suggested because of price, options, and reliability.

SiteGround

Siteground is a highly chosen web host ranked very high from a number of surveys given. They have been given high performance ratings and are geared toward WordPress sites. They have a few different options to choose from which you can find HERE

Bluehost

Bluehost boasts about their excellent uptime and easy-to-use website-building software. They also make it easy to create great looking pages for your business. You can see their shared hosting plans HERE 

Temok

Temok also has a great uptime rating and a variety of features that are included with their plans. These guys are very friendly and prompt when working with their support teams. You can see their list of options HERE

Now that we have a few web hosts to compare, let’s look at what we need to look into when shopping for a web host, because each host offers different options.

One of the biggest reasons for shopping around is cost. Every host has different costs due to different options they offer. Each host has different coupons too! If you would like to save money, I suggest a free Chrome extension called Wikibuy which will search for coupons and discounts for you automatically and help you save. I have an article explaining this in further called Amazon May NOT Always Be The Answer! However, just as an example, by visiting BlueHost’s plan page, I was presented this:

 

Note: Wikibuy is currently only a Chrome extension and does not work on all websites, but has proven to work on a ton, even Amazon!

Now that I have helped show a way to save some money in hosting, let’s look at the cost of the hosts starting out and after the contract is complete. There will be a big difference in the costs afterwards!

Let’s start with SiteGround. At the time of this writing, they offer three different plans as seen below. However, notice the price above the orange sales price. If you are just starting out, the price looks great, but if only going with a plan for one year, be prepared to pay 60% more after that initial contract.

This is something that you need to be aware of when shopping. YOU DO NOT want to be bitten by this, and it is not always apparent that the price would go up so much. Therefore, you will end up paying a lot more than you want afterwards. I was bitten by that before! Well…. lesson learned…and I thought I could use my experience to inform you.

After price comparing, the next step would be to look into the options they offer. This part gets a bit trickier as the options may or may not include what you are after. However, common things to look for are:

  • Domain Name Registrar (optional – You can go through another registrar (a nice option)) – Some hosting companies are also a registrar or work with a registrar to allow you to setup a domain name that will be used on their hosting, which helps cut down the number of places you need to go and makes configuration faster and easier. However, this could cost a bit more than if you do this on your own and go elsewhere. I’ll explain more in the next section.
  • Disk space – Chances are, if you want to start your own WordPress blog and have never hosted it locally, your disk space usage will be very minimal. For an example, a new website can be a few hundred megabytes. Please note that this is a brand new website though. Your space needed WILL grow over time. You will use more space from modifying your website, adding plugins, and forms. Your database will also grow as you create more pages and posts, etc. If you are just starting out, a beginner plan that has 50GB should be more than enough. This will supply ample space for everything you need to host your website and add additional websites if desired (depending on your hosting plan).
  • Bandwidth – Like Disk Space, bandwidth may not be too much of an issue starting out, but if your website grows, well then you will need to be cautious of your monthly bandwidth.
  • Money-back Guarantees – Most hosts have some sort of money-back guarantee. Read the length and determine your options here. If you’re not satisfied, you will have the option to get your money back.
  • Included SSL Certificates (especially good since Chrome version 56 displays sites that do not have SSL certificate as being non secure – Good article at https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2017/01/chrome-56-ssl-https-wordpress/) – This is not required. However, it is nice to have. If you have a host that will include a SSL certificate, this could be great to help save money for anyone starting out with a web store. People will feel safer with a verified certificate rather than an insecure store.
  • Number of websites, databases, ftp accounts, email accounts, etc. – As mentioned in the Disk Space point, you will want to look for additional options like these as they may play a factor as you go.
  • Website transfers – Some hosts offer free transfers, which will save you time and frustration of transferring your site over to them.
  • Backups – In the event your site is not updated regularly and gets hacked or another issue happens, it’s always good to have backups! Most hosts offer some sort of backup. However, it may be every 30 days and if something were to happen, you will lose all the content that was added in the last 30 days. Having a host that offers more frequent backups may be the better way to go unless you plan on doing your own backups.
  • Support – I believe that this point is a bit self explanatory. However, things to pay attention to are how you get support. Does the plan you are look at only allow email support or do they have phone and chat support as well?
  • Any advertisement offers – Some hosts like Bluehost offer coupons toward advertisements with Google Ads and Bing Ads. Although these may not be enticing at first, think about the next 6 months. They may help to drive some traffic in to your website or to an offer you create to help make money from your site. It’s great to have free money to start this off with. Right?

These are the main areas to look at when shopping for a web host. Everyone will have their own needs and these are just a reference to the main areas that most hosts have and that you will want to look at for your website. Let’s move on to choosing a domain name.

Choosing a Domain Name

Now that you have the host that you would like to use, you will need to choose a domain name. Most web hosts also offer domain names. A domain name is simply a name that people use to find your website. For example, to get to my website, you type in talesfromthedadside.com, which is the domain name for my website. Without a domain name, you would need to enter an IP address which looks like 125.36.36.36. Now, imagine asking someone “What’s your website?” and they reply with a string of numbers. Pretty hard to remember, huh? Well, that is what domain name registrars do. They translate the IP address into a name to make it easier for people to remember. So, now where and how do I get a domain name? Well, you need to register the website name you want to use through a registrar. This is a pretty easy process other than trying to find a domain name to use (there are tons! Look at ICANN to see a huge list). Since there are so many websites in existence, it could be a bit tricky to find the one you want. I’ll explain…

There are many registrars to choose from when getting ready to start your own WordPress blog. However, the best ones I suggest are (these are all registrars and also offer hosting services as described earlier):

For demonstration purposes, I am going to walk you through setting up a domain name using NameCheap.com. They are my number one choice, and it is easy to find coupons on the internet for new domains and renewing domains too. I use them as the registrar, but not for hosting, which will require a small configuration in the NameCheap panel to point to the web host. This is a quick and painless change, which I will explain.

You will need to start the process by going to NameCheap.com where you will be brought to the NameCheap main page. In this page, there is a domain name searching tool. It looks like this:

 

This is where you will look for an available domain name to use like samandthejets.com (Sam and the Jets). You will be brought to a screen that informs you if the domain name is available or not along with other recommendations for extensions based on the search term. At the time of this writing, the domain is available and therefore looks like this

If the site were not available, there would be an “X” next to the domain name

So now we have a domain name that is available. Next, we add it to the cart and then view the cart. From here we can proceed in two ways:

  1. Check out and call it a day
  2. Search for coupons

After doing a REALLY QUICK search, I found a coupon that was 10% off bringing the price down from $10.69 to $9.66 with free WhoisGuard (hides your name against spam and uses the NameCheap name and address instead). Now we confirm the order where we are brought to the account screen. Here, you will need to create an account that you will use to manage the domain name for things like

  • Assigning nameservers
  • Renewing the domain name
  • etc.

If you choose to go through BlueHost, you can use the search tool below to find an available domain name. The process works relatively the same.

Now, if you are using NameCheap for hosting, then you will not need to go any further. However, if you are using another web host, you will need to get their nameservers so that you can put this information in NameCheap and therefore direct your website to the correct host. For example, in Bluehost, you can see their nameservers listed under the domains and looks like this:

Using the ns1 and ns2 IP’s, we will place this into NameCheaps domain manager by clicking on “Domain List” tab on the left side menu and then click the “Manage” button for your domain name. In the next screen, you will see the nameserver section where you will need to make the change

You will need to change this by selecting the drop-down and selecting “Custom DNS.” In here, you will place the nameservers from your web host like below:

Now click the green check mark and wait for your domain to propagate correctly. Propagation is the process where the nameservers across the entire web are updated. The process usually is fairly quick, but can take up to 48 hours to complete. You can check the propagation process at sites like DNS Checker. It will show your nameservers IP address that you got from your web host.

Install WordPress

 

Conclusion

After walking you through the steps to choose a Domain Name, find a web host, migrate form WordPress.com to your new web host, choose components to add to your WordPress blog, ways to promote your website, ways to obtain traffic to your site, and ways to monetize, you now have all the components to start your own WordPress blog! As mentioned, this is not an all-inclusive article for each and every part discussed. However, it provides all the steps needed to get you going and places to look for further research so that you can make your website successful. If you have any comments or questions, please let us know below!

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