Updated May 2016
A lot of you know I transferred my blog over from Blogger (free site to host a blog on) to self-hosted WordPress back in February 2015. I was on Blogger for four years and had considered the switch multiple times but always stopped at the last minute because I just didn’t feel ready for the commitment. The cost and the maintenance of a self-hosted WordPress blog seemed like too much responsibility to take on, plus I wasn’t even making any money on my blog to justify the costs (such a lame excuse too, I mean don’t we all spend a few bucks a month on things we enjoy, not only on things we need?!).
Switching to self-hosted WordPress was the absolute best decision I made for my blog and I only regret not coming over sooner. Plugins are my life because they make all things easier and there really is no maintenance required. It’s so easy and your blog looks 20 times more professional. If you’re considering switching over or debating on a blogging platform, I really can’t say enough good things about self-hosted WordPress.
Here are the things you need to purchase and set up in order to start your own self-hosted WordPress blog.
My domain is www.piganddac.com. Your domain is like the address of a house. To get your own .com, you’ll 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 Blogger 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 two domains. I pay around $15 a year for them 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.
- bluehost.com – you can get your domain free when you buy your web hosting with them.
- Other popular place to buy a domain individually would be godaddy.com.
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 have two recommendations, one for new blogs or small blogs with lower traffic, and one for blogs with higher traffic and usage.
- bluehost.com – Bluehost is perfect for a new or smaller blog that doesn’t have a ton of traffic. It’s a reputable and long-standing hosting company and they have very affordable plans. Most of my blogging colleagues have had or still have their blogs on Bluehost; it’s just a very popular web host and safe choice, especially for newbies. WordPress even has Bluehost as one of their recommended web hosting companies – they’re kind of like the Target of the blogging world. And they have excellent customer service which is super, super important. Starting at $3.95/mo.
- InMotionhosting.com – I have two sites and both are a few years old with higher traffic and usage. After much consideration and research, I decided to go with InMotion’s VPS hosting (I’m on the middle plan). Don’t feel nervous if you don’t understand all of these different types of hosting, because they confuse me too; what’s important is that the company you’re with has your back when it comes to the techy side of things and that they’re quick to respond. Starting at $29.99/mo. (for VPS hosting, recommended for sites with growing traffic and usage).
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.
On the other hand, if you really can’t or don’t want to make the $50 investment, a top rated free theme is Atahualpa.
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 don’t need a child theme, you’d be good with just your Genesis framework theme if you wanted, but child themes are fun. 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. Although that’s really fun too!
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. 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.
- Shay Bocks – Creator of the best-selling child theme Foodie Pro, and she has now added a new one called Brunch, which I just purchased myself. You can see my other site here set up using the Brunch 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.
- Elegant Themes – If you’re an entrepreneur setting up your site to look really great, especially for landing pages and whatnot, I would highly recommend checking this site out. The Divi child theme is used by a lot of online entrepreneurs.
- angiemakes.com – I love this site because she has really beautiful designs and graphics.
And that’s really all there is to it for setting up a blog. I’ve been blogging for 5 years now and I just can’t sing it’s praises high enough. I started blogging when I became a stay-at-home parent as a way to connect with the outside world, and it’s grown into so much more for me. What started as a hobby and community has turned into a profitable “side job” for me. I can’t even call it a job because I could do blog related things all day if given the chance.
If you’re on another blogging platform or are considering the idea of blogging, I encourage you to look into self-hosted WordPress. The benefits can’t be beat. I hope you enjoyed this article and please feel free to leave any questions below.