August 5, 2017
I can’t believe it but I’ve been blogging for over 6 years now. It has become my passion and my full time income source. Six years ago I was a first-time mom, at home all day alone with her baby, and stressed out from being on only one income and also feeling lost because I felt like I didn’t have anything that was mine.
Long story short, I started this blog just for a creative outlet and it ended up becoming the most fun “work” (if you can call it that) that I’ve ever accomplished, and continue to do so.
If you like to write, or not even write but just share your thoughts, passion, advice, WHATEVER…I highly encourage you to start a blog!
This blog post is about how to set up a blog (on self-hosted WordPress, which I very much so recommend. Most blogs are set up on WP and there’s just so much you can do with a WP blog). There are a million and one options out there and I’ve tried about half of them over the past 6 years, so in this post I’m only going to share what I actually use.
Your To-Do List
- Think of what you want to blog about and then choose a blog name
- Purchase your domain
- Purchase a host for your blog
- Shop for a design
- Get your blog set up & start writing!
My domain is www.piganddac.com. Your domain is like the address of a house. To get it, you just need to purchase a domain from a hosting site. You can choose to either buy your domain through your web host when you buy your blog’s web hosting (explained next) or you can buy it separately. I have mine separately since I was on Blogspot and not WordPress first, and in some cases you have to buy it separately if your web host doesn’t offer it.
- hostgator.com – this is where I host my domain. I pay around $15 a year for it and usually they have a sale where you get a discounted price for the first year. I’ve always loved Hostgator and their customer service and I’ve never had any issues with them.
- Other popular place to buy a domain individually would be godaddy.com, although I don’t recommend buying web hosting from them.
Tip: I always purchase the privacy protection for the domain. It’s usually only a few more dollars and this protects your name and home address from being seen if someone looks up your domain on the WHOIS site. Instead it will show your domain host’s information instead. I find this worth the extra few dollars.
A web host is where your website will be hosted. It’s kind of like renting space. So imagine your domain being your house address, and your web hosting being the lot that your house is on.
Your main concern is going to be customer service. I have made the mistake of going with a web host who was like a bot that never responded and sent me scary emails constantly about running out of bandwidth. In the web hosting world, you pay for what you get. My brother worked at GoDaddy for several years and I could’ve gotten an amazing deal on hosting, but even he warned me that if my blog were to crash, they wouldn’t go in and fix it for me. Make sure your web host will help you if you were to crash your blog or something techy like that.
I’ve been with my host InMotion Hosting for over a year now and I can’t recommend them enough!!! You will always be able to get ahold of someone if you need assistance, and they are extremely nice and patient, which is good because most of us bloggers aren’t super techie.
You can click here to see their WordPress plans. InMotion will give you a free domain when you sign up with them, so definitely take advantage of that if you choose them to host your blog!
After you’ve purchased your domain and web hosting, installed WordPress and all that jazz…it’s time for the fun to start!
The “theme framework” of your WordPress blog is going to be like the foundation and bones of your house. The better the foundation, the smoother everything will run and the easier it will be to integrate plugins smoothly. Studiopress is where you can find lots of themes, and the Genesis is their top theme.
- Genesis – it’s really the best theme framework you can choose (it’s the one I chose too). The reason I purchased my framework rather than using a standard free one is because Genesis, for example, is coded well, allows me to easily customize, has amazing SEO capabilities, better site speed, and 24/7 tech support. When using a free theme, you risk having all of your customizations wiped out when they update and you have to deal more often with things going wonky on you, as well as risking poor coding and not as much compatibility with plugins. I would highly recommend making the investment. $59.95
Read here about why Genesis is really the best choice for a self-hosted WordPress blog.
Your child theme is going to be your blog’s curb appeal. It’s the face of your blog and what makes it pretty and visually appealing. You also need a child theme to go over your Genesis framework. And if you find a good, customizable child theme, you can keep changing things up rather than buying new child themes whenever you want a change.
Here are some of my favorite sites to peruse child themes and just other cool design elements to add to my blog.
- restored316designs.com – clean, feminine designs. I have the Flourish Theme on this site currently. What I love about my child theme is that I can customize it in so many different ways, from colors to making the front page into a landing page, and it’s ecommerce capable. This is the only child theme I’ve had because it’s so customizable that I haven’t felt the need to get a different theme.
- Hello You Designs – I am obsessed with the themes on this site! My self-care blog, jessicadimas.com, is currently using the Hello Darling theme and I love it. I feel like Jennifer’s themes look very custom without having to pay the thousands of dollars it costs for a custom theme. She’s also very helpful and emailed me back quickly when I had questions setting up my theme.
- creativemarket.com – All of my paycheck goes to this site; it’s my favorite resource for blogging related tools. You can buy fonts, watercolor graphics, photos and photo packs, graphic designs, logos, etc. Also every week, they share 6 free goods. I love buying graphics and fonts here to create images for my blog posts and also workbooks, ebooks, and printables, etc for my audience. Definitely bookmark this site.
- PicMonkey – I make all of my graphics on PicMonkey, and I do pay for the premium version which is $4.99 a month. Totally worth it because they let you use your own fonts and they have tons of their own fonts and graphics that they only let premium users access. The graphic I made for this post I created in PicMonkey.
- angiemakes.com – I love this site because she has really beautiful designs and graphics.
Don’t feel overwhelmed
This is the last step, haha. Don’t feel overwhelmed. Honestly the most overwhelming part of blogging IS just setting it up, but everything will come with step-by-step instructions and if you don’t have the time or desire to set it up yourself, you can also ask your web host for help, probably at a small charge.
You can also join my private FB group, Create Your Dream Blog, where you can ask me any question you have pertaining to blogging.
I’ll be writing a few more posts for things to do once your blog is set up, and if you’d like this post in PDF form so you can save it for later, just click here or on the image below to safely download.