In this article, I will explain how you can setup your own self-hosted WordPress blog from scratch. The advantage of having a self-hosted blog over free blogs like Blogger, TypePad, LiveJournal, and Xanga is that you have more control over the design, layout, and content of your blog. In addition, if you’re serious about blogging and establishing your web presence, you definitely need a blog with your own domain name. WordPress is the most popular blogging software.
1. Signup for professional web hosting
The first thing you need setup a self-hosted blog is to find a place to host the blog. There are many web hosting solutions on the Internet but I highly recommend Bluehost. I believe Bluehost is one of the best web hosting providers for the following reasons:
- Only $6.95 USD / month
- Unlimited hosting space
- Host unlimited domains
- Free domain name
- Excellent 24/7 support
- SimpleScripts and Fantastico script support (installs WordPress with a simple click)
Having your own web hosting provides greater flexibility for your blog. You have your own space (unlimited if you use Bluehost) to upload anything you want. You don’t have to show ads if you don’t want to. In addition, you can use your own domain name(s) as well as host multiple blogs/websites!
2. Register a domain name
After you find a web hosting server, the next thing you need is to register a domain name. You need to come up with a good and unique domain name that is still available. Go to Checkdomain.com to see if the domain of your choice is still available. There are a few things to consider when choosing a domain name. Here are a few:
- Easy to remember and spell
- Descriptive name
- Niche (main theme / topic / subject of the blog)
- Long-term strategy
Bluehost web hosting comes with a free domain registration. Otherwise, a single domain registration usually costs about $10USD / year. Also, if your domain registration is different from your web hosting, you need to link the domain name to the hosting server by setting up the name servers. With Bluehost, you don’t need to setup the name servers.
3. Install WordPress
Now that you have a domain name and web hosting, it is time to install the blogging software! WordPress is the best and most popular choice in terms of self-hosted blog. Other choices include Movable Type, Textpattern, and b2evolution.
Installing WordPress is easy and takes about 5 minutes. There are plenty of tutorials on how to install WordPress. However, if you use Bluehost for web hosting, there’s an even easier way to install WordPress. Use SimpleScripts on the cPanel to install WordPress with a single click. SimpleScripts automatically creates a SQL database, installs WordPress, and sets up an admin account. I wrote a step-by-step tutorial on installing WordPress using SimpleScripts.
4. Find a WordPress theme
There are tons of WordPress themes you can use for your blog. Searching “wordpress theme” in Google returns 8 million results! Most themes are free but there are a few premium themes you can buy if you want your blog to look professional. Here are a few places to start looking:
- WordPress Theme Viewer
- WordPress Theme — The Best of the Best
- 83 Beautiful WordPress Themes You Haven’t Seen
- 100 Excellent Free WordPress Themes
- WordPress Theme Generator
- DailyBlogTips: Free WordPress Themes
5. Start blogging!
Start writing articles about the main theme or niche you’ve chosen for your blog. Unless this is a personal blog about your life, try to stick to the general theme of the blog. Come up with interesting topics to blog about. Engage your readers with provocative thoughts and ideas. Share useful information as well as your own opinions and thoughts.
6. Publicize your blog
Spread the word about your blog. Tell your friends. Join a few social networks. Subscribe to other blogs. Leave a few comments. Participate in online discussions. Give out a freebies. Add your blog to a few directories. There are many different ways to publicize your blog and increase your readership.
7. Keep Your Blog Active
Starting a blog is relatively easy, but keeping it active takes a lot more work! Many people start blogs but only a handful blogs regularly. Coming up with ideas and topics to blog about takes some intentionality, time, and effort. I wrote a post earlier about tips to add more posts to your blog. Come up with your own strategy and plan to keep your blog active.
Now that the blog is up and running, there are a few extra things you can add to your blog.
- WordPress Plugins—Plugins help tweak your website to your liking. There are thousands of plugins out there but only a handful of really useful ones. Check out my favorite plugins list.
- Sitemeter—Tracks the number of visitors that visit your blog. Sitemeter also provides extra information such as location, referrals, entry and exit pages, etc…
- Feedburner—Keeps track and manages your blog’s RSS subscription. Feedburner makes it easier for people to subscribe to your blog.
- Google Analytics—In-depth stats and analysis about your blog. See an example of a few stats from my blog.
- Google Webmaster—Tools and resources to help manage and diagnose the indexing of your blog in Google.
- Google Adsense—Make a few bucks by monetizing your blog. Google Adsense is a good place to start.