Everything You Need to Know About Creating a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog
A brief overview: This how to start blogging guide is going to teach you about all of the technical aspects that go into creating your very own self-hosted WordPress blog. After reading it, you should be equipped to tackle this endeavor on your own. Additionally, you will also learn important information regarding how to pick a successful domain name and other parts of web hosting.
In the previous blogging tutorial, we talked about ways to blog for profit and briefly touched on self-hosted blogs and the many benefits that they provide for bloggers. Now, we are going to move onto the first two steps to creating a self-hosted blog: picking a domain name and a hosting service.
- Your Domain Name. A domain name is one of the most critical aspects of a blog, and choosing one is a decision that requires a lot of consideration and thought. To put it simply, your domain name is the most basic form of your blog’s identity. It helps to create your brand, and it sets the tone for how readers will view and perceive you. Because of this, you want to select a domain name that is unique, easy to remember, clever, and as representative of your overall message as possible. Basic examples of infamous domain names would be google.com, apple.com, and ebay.com.
- Your Web Hosting. Once you have finally selected the perfect domain name for your blog, you need to find a web hosting service that is reliable and suits all of your needs. The web hosting service that you select will be entirely responsible for keeping your blog up and running, and it will also play a major role in regards to how well your blog succeeds. Web hosting services make blogs available to readers, and they also store all of the critical data for sites.
It is important to keep in mind that domain name companies also offer web hosting, and vice versa. Thus, if you want to purchase both of these things through the same company, you are more than welcome to do this. In fact, we recommend this, as it makes billing organized and simple. Having one account that covers all bases provides you with one less thing to worry about in the grand scheme of things.
Defining the Concept of a “Domain Name”
When people first start learning about how to make blogs, they are oftentimes confused about what exactly a domain name is. To clear up this confusion, we are going to define it for you. Essentially, a domain name is the unique address of your blog. It is the name that your blog will permanently go by unless you purchase another domain name, and it is something that you must pay for annually.
Generally speaking, domain names go for about 10-15 dollars, and most domain name companies allow you to automatically pay for this each year. If an individual knows the exact domain name of your blog, they can type it into the URL finder of their web browser and then proceed straight to the site. Additionally, your domain name will also pop up in search engines, which will be how other individuals that don’t know your blog will eventually find it.
The Different Variations of Domain Names
The suffix that appears at the end of every domain name is quite important. These suffixes are known as “TLDs”, which stands for top level domains, and they help to give information regarding where a certain domain name is located.
The most common type of domain name is the “.com” domain name, but certain endings, such as .net, .org., and .me are also popular as well. In addition to these choices, you can also have your domain name be country specific, such as .fr for France, or .co.uk for the United Kingdom.
We recommend that you try to have your domain name be a .com, but if this is impossible for the specific domain name that you would like, you can always choose a .net or .me instead.
Trust your own judgment and pick whatever will make your blog the easiest to remember and the most unique!
How to Pick the Perfect Name For Your Blog
Naming your blog is a tough decision, and we completely understand the anxiety that oftentimes accompanies it. It is a decision that cannot be easily altered or reversed, and it is by far one of the most critical parts of any site. In order to make the name selection process as simple and painless as possible, we have included some more tips below to help you along.
Eleven Tips to Help You Think of the Best Domain Possible
- Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Brainstorm. Start by writing down the first five words that come to mind when you think of your niche. Rearrange these in order to create a cohesive name that works for your subject, and do this several times until you have multiple options. One of these may not mind up being your domain name, but we guarantee that this exercise will help you to start thinking in the right direction.
- Make Sure That the Domain Name That You Have in Mind is Unique. When you finally settle on a potential domain name, the next step is to Google this domain name and make sure that it is not already taken. You also want to make sure that there are not too many domain names that are similar as well. If you wind up using a final domain name that is generic and already being used everywhere on the Internet, you are dooming yourself for failure. Additionally, never misspell a version of a domain name purely for the purpose of being able to still use it, and never use a plural version of an already existing domain name either. Both of these things look very unprofessional and are not something that you would like attached to your name at the beginning of your blogging career.
- Don’t Pick Something Too Complicated to Type or Spell. You don’t want to select a domain name that people are constantly misspelling and never getting right. If this winds up happening, all of your potential site visitors will be directed to different blogs instead! If you do insist on having a domain name that is oddly spelled and leaves lots of potential room for typos, look to make sure that many of the domain name’s variations are also free, so you can purchase those domain names as well and have them redirect to your site. Naturally, this does not sound like an ideal plan, and that is why you should always choose the straightforward domain name instead.
- Always Try to Stick With a .com. Over half of all websites use this extension, making it the most popular and preferred domain name extension that is currently available. If your favorite domain name choice isn’t available in the .com format, we strongly encourage you to try to get your second domain name choice before you use a different extension. Some individuals use web browsers that allow them to type in the domain name without the extension, and these web browsers will always lead them to the .com version of that domain name. Thus, if you use an extension that isn’t .com, you will be making it much harder for your site to get traffic.
- Make Sure Your Domain Name Has Branding Potential. Make it unique, exciting, and fun, but also straightforward, easy to understand, and reflective of your true goals and values. Selecting the perfect domain name can be a very difficult endeavor, as it is hard to pack so much into one small phrase.
- Avoid Long Domain Names. The shorter your domain name is, the better your blog will do in the long run. Although it may be hard, try to keep your domain name down to one or two words, or three words max. If you make it any longer, it will make it difficult for potential readers to remember it. Two word combinations are great choices. Also, never use acronyms, because they are especially tricky to remember and very easy to mess up.
- Don’t Infringe on Anyone Else’s Trademark! As soon as you have selected a name, your next step is to do your research and make sure that that name has never been trademarked. If you are operating within the US, you can go to the official government website on trademarks in order to do a search and see if your name is already taken. While this may not be that important for just a blog, it will be important if you ever plan on taking your blog to the next step and turning it into a business. You never know if this will be something that you will eventually decide to do, and that makes it important that you keep your options open and stay safe, just in case.
- Refrain From Using Numbers and Hyphens in Your Name. Numbers and hyphens can be incredibly confusing for site viewers, and they are easy to type out incorrectly. Like all of our previous tips, avoid any confusion and just don’t include these in your name. While you may think that they help to make your name cleverer, they will be more of a pain in the neck in the long run than you would like to deal with, we assure you.
- Don’t Pick a Name Just Because It’s Trendy. Trends come and go, and there will always be another one that you will want to follow. If you pick a name just because it’s trendy and popular now, you will quickly realize that it most likely won’t be trendy and popular in the future. Stick with something classic and timeless that you won’t regret having selected several years down the road.
- Stay Committed to Your Domain Name. When it comes to the domain name that you wind up selecting, you need to fall in love. You are going to be stuck with this name for years, and the last thing that you want is to wake up some day and realize that you just don’t like it that much anymore. Renaming a blog is not easy, as you have to start from scratch and essentially throw out all of the work that you have been doing in order to build your site up from the ground. Thus, choose a name that you really genuinely love and can see yourself loving for many years to come.
- Take a Look at Social Networking Sites to Make Sure Your Domain Name is Free. Finally, look around to make sure that there are no Facebook or Instagram accounts for the name that you plan on using. This is for the same reasoning that we have stated above, and it will help you out a lot in the long run in regards to marketing, business, and just overall confusion with your readers.
What Are Premium Domain Names?
This is a question that we receive a lot, and it is something that every experienced blog owner should know the answer to. Essentially, a premium domain name is a domain name that is already owned by someone, but isn’t currently being used to host a functioning site. In other words, the domain name is just sitting there.
There are certain domain name auction sites that sell premium domain names, and you can try looking there if you find that your number one domain name has already been purchased. However, if you cannot find your name on one of these auction sites, you can also choose to use a tool to find the contact details for the domain name owner, and then send them a message in order to see if they are willing to sell the name to you.
A Comprehensive Breakdown of Web Hosting
Once you have selected and purchased your domain name, it is time to move on to the web hosting aspect of owning your blog. The first step for this is to choose a web hosting company to work with and to make an account with them. To put it simply, when you pay for a web hosting account, you are paying for space on a server to store everything that you need for your blog.
This allows visitors to access your blog at all times and ensures that your site is always popping up in search engines when applicable. Free hosting services are always available and an option, but, as we have stated many times thus far throughout this blogging guide, they are not the preferred option for serious and seasoned bloggers.
Choose the Web Hosting Provider that is Best For You
If you wind up using a web-hosting provider that doesn’t work well, you will be forced to deal with an annoying series of problems that can serve as serious setbacks for the future success of your blog. In order to avoid this awful situation, it is pivotal that you choose a web-hosting provider that is reliable and worthy of your trust.
As a beginning blogger, there are only a few major things that you should be looking for in the ideal web-hosting provider. One of the main things that you should try to find is reliable customer service and 24/7 help.
If anything ever goes wrong with the server or your site in general, you will want to be able to talk to customer service as soon as possible in order to get everything squared away. Additionally, good web-hosting providers will also oftentimes offer perks such as free information back-ups, a free email service, and free database support. Try not to focus too much on the technical aspects of a hosting provider, and instead look at these basic and major qualifications.
10 Things to Look For When Selecting a Great Web Hosting Provider
- A Positive Reputation. This one seems pretty obvious, but it still needs to be pointed out. To see if a company is reliable, start by checking their contact information and make sure that it seems legitimate. The company should have an address, phone number, and a contact email, and there shouldn’t just be a form that you can fill out online in order to speak to them. Look at their testimonials, and also do further research online in order to find some reviews for the company. Everything should seem legitimate, and not as if the company created the reviews itself. You can also look at the Better Business Bureau in order to see if the company has any official ratings or feedback.
- Customer Service and Support. For beginning bloggers, customer service can be very critical. Because of this, you should always try to find a web-hosting provider that offers 24/7 support and help. Whether this is support over the phone or through online chatting, it can still prove to be very helpful in the long run. No matter what time of the day or night you are working on your blog, you will want to have a way to get help when something goes awry.
- A Solid Uptime. One of the most important aspects of web-hosting is uptime. You do not want to choose a company that isn’t going to be consistently keeping your blog up and running on the Internet. Instead, you want a web hoster that promises to have 99 percent uptime and minimal interruptions. When you are paying good money for your site to be online, you deserve to have this, no questions asked. Reliable companies will use top of the line technology to make sure that your site almost never goes offline.
- Potential Refunds. A sign of a good web-hosting company is if the company offers money back guarantees. If a company does offer this, make sure to look at the fine print of the terms and conditions in order to be absolutely positive for how long this offer lasts. For many web-hosting companies, you can only receive a 100 percent refund for a certain number of days or months.
- Pay Close Attention to the Features List. Although you may not be interested in the technical details and features of a web-hosting service now, it is still something that is worth looking at for when it eventually will become important in the future. The more options that you have available to you, the better. Stick with the basics when you are just starting out with blogging, but make sure that you have room to grow in the future. These technical details will become very important eventually, and you do not want to be forced to switch web-hosting providers because of them.
- A Free Email Option. Almost all reliable web-hosting providers offer free unlimited emails for their customers, but some of them do not. This is something to take into consideration when selecting your web-hosting provider, as having emails for your site looks very professional and can be useful. Generally speaking, you should have one for you, the blog owner, which includes your name at –yourblog-.com, and emails for any other important aspects of your blog, such as marketing, customer service, or other authors that frequently contribute to your site.
- A Reasonable Price. Oftentimes when you first sign up with a web-hosting provider, your fees will be very low for the first month and will become more expensive for the following months. Because of this, it is important that you are aware of what you will need to pay in the long run, and that you can afford this price. Take the time to look around and compare prices, and settle on something that you will not have an issue paying. However, do not make the mistake of choosing a server simply because it is affordable. You will most likely find that it may be worth it to spend some extra money in order to have certain perks that cheaper web-hosting services do not provide their customers with.
- Free and Reliable Site Backup. No matter how trustworthy a web-hosting provider is, there is always the possibility that something will go wrong with it. Because of this fact, you ideally would like your hosting company to provide you with a free and reliable backup service. You do not want to run the risk of losing all of your blog’s data and information, as this could be disastrous and set you back to square one. Make sure that this backup service is automated, and that it is continually updated in order to provide the best coverage possible.
- Room to Expand Your Blog and Nurture its Growth. You want to make sure that you pick a hosting company that allows your blog room for growth. If your blog becomes larger, you do not want to be forced to switch hosting companies and transfer all of your data. This is beyond inconvenient, and no one has time for that. Additionally, while your blog may seem small now and for the near future, you never know when or if it will ever take off and start to rapidly expand. Plan for the unexpected and do yourself a favor by giving your blog a little extra room to become larger.
- Make Your Blog Secure. Blogs hold a lot of information, and this makes them particularly vulnerable to hackers. Passwords can only do so much, and hackers can generally get past them if they try hard enough. It is strongly recommended that you select a hosting company that offers extra security in order to make sure that your blog is as secure as possible. This feature is generally not free, but it can be very worth it to pay a little extra money for it, just in case.
Step by Step Instructions for Getting Your Blog Set Up
Once you have taken care of selecting your domain name, purchasing your domain name, and making an account with your web hosting company, it is time to move on to the actual creation of your blog.
We are going to explain the setup process for the hosting provider known as WebHostingHub. This process is fairly similar for all web hosting companies, but it is important to keep in mind that it can vary slightly depending on which company you ultimately use.
Creating Your Own Blog
- Sign Up With a Hosting Service and Make Your Account. This process should be very straightforward and easy to do. Make sure that you have complete access to your hosting account, and that your domain name is set up with it, as you will need this in order to begin the process of setting up your blog. Additionally, become familiar with the layout of your hosting site and all of the options that your account provides you with. Also, take a look around your account management panel, which is oftentimes known as an AMP, and make sure that you are comfortable navigating through it.
- Once you have completed the previous step, login to your AMP account, and begin the process of downloading WordPress. There will be a section called “Install Popular Software”, and within that section, there will be an option to install WordPress. Use your own personal information to fill out all of the Software Setup questions and complete the process as the directions tell you to. Once you have done all of this, click the “install” button.
- After you have done the previous two steps, your blog will be officially up and running! Congratulate yourself for making it through this process and having your own official site. There will be a default WordPress theme that is installed on your blog, and you can customize or change this however you like. WordPress provides many customization options that we strongly recommend you become familiar with and take advantage of, and they are all fairly simple to get the hang of. If you would like to login to the backend of your blog, simply go to the link yourblogname.com/wp-admin, and enter in your login information.
Some Things to Keep in Mind Before You Officially Start Blogging
Although some of these points may seem repetitive, we are going to go over them again simply because of how incredibly important and relevant they are. Although many of us are used to constantly thinking in the short term, being a blog owner requires that you think about the future of your blog quite often.
Believe it or not, every decision that you make now will eventually affect the overall success of your blog in the long run. Thus, we are going to provide you with some tips that will hopefully help you to prevent any mistakes from being made and save you quite a bit of your time, effort, and money.
- Always Pick a Worthwhile Niche. Make sure that you wind up selecting a niche that has a demand for new blogs and consistent readers that will want to look at your site. See if there is competition, and see how well this competition is doing in order to determine whether or not there is a future for you in this niche. Additionally, study what your competitors are currently doing in order to make sure that your personal blog is unique and different. When you are entering a niche with competition, you want to ensure that your blog will stand out.
- Don’t Let the Technological World Intimidate You. The blogging world may seem incredibly technical and difficult to navigate, but do not let this intimidate you. With a little bit of time and effort, you will be a master at it soon. Just like any new experience, you merely need to spend time learning about the ins and outs of it, and you will eventually be confident with your blog and skills. Our guide will help you to do this, and by the end of it, you will know everything that you need to know about owning and running your very own blog.
- Don’t Feel That You Have to Be a Computer Programmer or Graphic Designer. Contrary to popular belief, anybody can run his or her own blog without being a tech savvy computer professional. Don’t let this misconception get in the way of your potential success.
- Have Some Patience and Don’t Expect Your Blog to be Successful Over Night. Creating a successful blog takes time, and there is no way around that. Be consistent with your posts, and do not get discouraged. Blogging may be a slow process, but don’t all good things take time?
- When in Doubt, Always Choose to Own Your Blog. Yes, free web-hosting is an option, but is it the best option? No. Although it will take a bit more time and money, we strongly recommend that you choose to self-host your own blog, as doing so will be more professional and lucrative for you in both the short and long term.
Congratulations- your blog is all setup! This is a huge accomplishment and you should be very proud of yourself. In the next chapter, we are going to teach you a bit about WordPress and help you to get comfortable with the backend of your blog so you can customize your blog to look and function exactly as you wish it to.