I thought it would be an awesome idea to start doing some “How to” posts on here, kind of as a way to share my knowledge of what I’ve learned along the way as a graphic designer. I hear a lot of the same questions about blogging and designing in general, so I would love to be able to give you answers to those questions. But not just generalized answers, detailed guides in the simplest of terms. I’ve read so many articles on something I’m trying to learn about, and read paragraph after paragraph, having it basically go right over my head. I end up having to re-read everything because I totally don’t get what they’re trying to say! When I want to learn how to do something, I want to just. learn. it. Simple as that. Don’t go on and on, just give me simple answers. So here I am, (hopefully) giving you some answers to your questions about what I do every day.
For my very first how to ever, I give you…
How to: Start your own WordPress blog. A simple step by step guide.
Find your niche | Think of a blog name, as well as a domain
My biggest piece of advice is to really think about what you’d like to blog or create a website about. I knew as soon as we bought our house that I wanted a DIY/home themed blog, as well as throwing in some free printables and recipes along the way. It all ties together for me, because the things that I blog about are what I truly enjoy in my life. Don’t blog about DIY just because it’s popular on Pinterest and among other blogs, blog about what you love. Have a passion for science? Blog about it! So many people would be fascinated to learn what you know. Find what fits you best, and if it takes weeks or months to narrow down what you want to write about, so be it.
I’ve come across a lot of people along the way that already have great business names picked out. For example (and this is just made up), a friend wants to name their blog/business something that is 4-5 characters long, such as RISS. We can just go and purchase riss.com to go along with our awesome new name, right? Wrong. Most short domains are already being used, and are worth quite a bit of money. Don’t assume the domain you want will be available. Maybe it is available, but that’s what we need to find out. Check out GoDaddy or another domain website to see if your name is available, and if it is, yay! That’s great news. If it’s not, don’t be upset, just search for similar options. For example, still going off RISS…I ended up purchasing RissHomeDesign.com because it fits what I blog about: home, design and life. Find words that fit what you want to blog about, even including the word “blog” in your domain is awesome! Domains have also come a long way, you don’t have to just purchase .com names anymore. There are .net, .pro, .site, .tips, the list goes on and on. You can use whatever your heart desires, as long as it fits you and your blog/website!
–> If you have a WordPress.com blog and you’re switching to WordPress.org (self hosted), PLEASE make sure you’ve done a backup and export of your blog so you have this file to import your posts into your NEW blog. <–
Verify/Check out social media accounts you want to use
So now that we have your blog’s theme and name decided, let’s move on to social media. When I first decided on my blog’s name, I knew right away I wanted to use Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. These were what was popular in 2012, Instagram hadn’t hit our screens yet, but when it did it took me a while to join, which I regret. But I made sure I could get RissHomeDesign on Twitter. For Facebook, I use my Etsy pages name (RissDesign), as well as for Instagram, but that was my choice, since my Etsy is separate from my blog, I didn’t want them to have the same names. But my point is, make sure whatever name you want to use, or a similar variation is available. Using RissDesign for Etsy, Instagram and Facebook is still perfect for me because it’s still super close to my blog name. Don’t be discouraged if your name isn’t available, just try the next best thing, or even add “blog” on to the end if necessary. Also, try using underscores. My Instagram name is actually @Riss_Design because @RissDesign was taken. So I tried the next best thing and it works fine for me.
Register your domain name
Ok, so we’re now totally set on your new domain name right?! So let’s purchase it! GoDaddy is pretty much the #1 when it comes to purchasing domains, and I definitely recommend them. When purchasing a domain, always check for coupons too. I’ve gotten a domain for as little as $1! Keep in mind, you do have renew your domain yearly (or you can renew for years at a time), but owning your own domain name, at least to me, is 100% worth it, rather than using a free one that comes with a free blogging platform (risshomedesign.wordpress.com). Owning a domain name makes you look more professional, and is the way to go if you’re looking to start your own brand.
Find a hosting company
You’ve purchased the perfect domain, so now what? Well, now it’s time to move on to hosting. If you’re not sure what hosting is, to put it simply, it’s basically a space you’re renting out to place your domain. The domain is what visitors/readers type in to find you, and hosting is where you’ve placed your domain so that there is even something to look at. There are many different types of hosting, and there are some that I find work perfectly with WordPress websites and blogs. The top two hosting companies I recommend to clients are:
- Bluehost: Bluehost is super easy to navigate, and has plans starting as low as $3.45/month! Awesome deal.
- Dreamhost: Another good hosting company, and also has some good prices starting at $7.95/month. Still pretty darn good!
Once you’ve decided on which hosting you’re going to use, it’s now time to purchase. When purchasing, you’ll select which plan you prefer (I’m using Bluehost screenshots for this example):
You’ll then choose between purchasing a domain through Bluehost or using your domain. Since you’ve purchased a domain, you’ll use the “I have a domain name” box, and type in your domain name.
You’ll then have to fill out account information…
As well as which package you’d like to purchase with payment information…
And that’s it! Congratulations – your domain and hosting is now purchased!
You’ll need to log into your hosting account, and if you’re in Bluehost, you’ll see a screen like the one below. You’ll want to scroll down to the “Website” section, and click on “Install WordPress”.
You’ll then see an installation screen, where there will be a “Select Domain” drop down menu to select you domain to install WordPress on. The directory section is completely optional. Directories are a whole other blog post, but basically if you want your domain to just go to “www.yourdomain.com”, you don’t want a directory. A directory would be adding something like “www.yourdomain.com/shop”. The “/shop” part is the directory, and adding a directory enables you to create an entirely new WordPress installation. You can have endless WordPress installations on one website, but again, I’m sure I’m just confusing you at this point, and I’m supposed to be keeping this simple for you! So to put it simply, you don’t need a directory. Unless you know what they are and that you do want one.
After selecting your domain, you’ll get to the final pre-installation page. Type in your blog’s name, as well as a username and password for your WordPress login page. I cannot stress this enough…use a unique username and password. Not your blog’s name, not your name, something extremely hard for someone else to guess. I’ve had a client before use “Admin” and “Password”. No lie. And guess what, they got hacked even after I told them multiple times that they should absolutely 100% change their login details. PLEASE DO NOT USE ADMIN AND PASSWORD. PLEASE.
And after you’ve clicked install, you should have your very own WordPress website/blog! Congratulations, you now have your very own self hosted WordPress website. WordPress should email you your login credentials, but I always recommend writing them down or storing them somewhere so you have them on hand.
Log into your WordPress | Install a theme
Now that you’ve gotten your WordPress installation completed, let’s log into it! To get to your WordPress login page go to: www.YourDomainName.com/wp-admin
Of course, switching out “YourDomainName” for your actual domain name. Once to the login page, which looks like the photo below…You’ll enter in your login details and then get to your blog’s dashboard…
Once on the dashboard page, you’ll see a left hand sidebar full of words like “Posts”, “Pages”, “Plugins”, which are all important, but let’s get your theme installed. To install a theme, go to “Appearance” -> “Themes”. If you’ve already purchased a theme, you’ll click on “Add new” and upload the zip file from your purchase or download. You’ll then click on “Activate”. And voila! You’ve uploaded your very first WordPress theme! You are now able to customize it how you’d like.
If you’re completed lost at this point, this is where I’ve come in for a lot of people. I have had a lot of clients get to this stage, and then feel overwhelmed by theme choices and design options, sometimes just confused as to what to do (which is totally understandable!), or not have the time to put together their website or blog. I have plans available where I create you your new blog’s header/logo, design details to go all throughout the blog, as well as installing all of your new designs in the blog for you! I tweak your themes layout, fonts, colors, designs, etc… to fit your new blog and style! If you’re interested in learning more or working together, feel free to visit my blog design website and take a look at some samples I’ve done. I also offer website design too, so not strictly blogs! You can contact me anytime and we can discuss your vision together.
And that’s it for how to set up your very own WordPress website/blog! I really hope this helped you out. In one of my next “How To” posts, I’ll be writing about how to create posts, pages, and how to use plugins! Stayed tuned.
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