Seriously, what was I thinking?
Why didn’t I just create a blog on Blogger or some other website? My first ever blog, a teacher blog, was created on Blogger about six years ago. I felt confident with Blogger, and it’s very easy for someone with no knowledge of how to create a blog, let alone HTML.
So why did I decide to create a self-hosted WordPress blog?
Well, after deciding what I wanted to blog about, I read…A LOT! I read tons and TONS of other blog posts searching for tips on how to start a blog. Almost every website that I read suggested choosing WordPress to create a blog. Not only that, they suggested going down the self-hosted path.
The biggest reasons for choosing WordPress that I found was that:
- You own all of your content (not the case with Blogger)
- You have the ability to create a powerful, dynamic blog
And with that, I was sold.
The journey to starting my blogs has been difficult yet so rewarding. Difficult because I had to search from here to the moon and back on how to start these dang websites. Rewarding because I created two blogs that I am proud of.
I want to save you the headache of combing through hundreds of websites, like I did, to find out how to create your own self-hosted WordPress blog. That’s why I have provided an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to start a blog. These are the exact things that I did to begin my blogs Tame the Classroom and Tame the House. You can follow them too, and begin your blogging journey.
There’s a lot of info below. If you have time to read the whole thing, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and get your read on. If you don’t have much time, bookmark this page and re-visit it when you get some time. And if you’re super fancy, pin it and talk to me about it in the Tame the Classroom Facebook group.
Disclosure: This page contains some affiliate links. When you purchase items after clicking on the link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I only promote products or services that I have either used or strongly believe in. Please read my full disclosure for more information.
Ready? Let’s go!
Step 1: Register your blog domain name
After you choose a name for your blog, it is imperative that you purchase your blog domain name.
Why do you need to register your blog name?
Your parents didn’t bring you into the world without a name, did they? Of course not. They decided to name you after your Granny named Gertrude, then they sent some paper work to the Social Security office with your given name. A few weeks later, your parents received your Social Security card with your blessed name, and you were then considered an official person!
Well, the same thing goes with your precious blog. When you register a blog domain, you are officially purchasing the .com/.org/.net name and web address for your blog.
I suggest doing a quick Google search to make sure your beloved blog name is not already taken. If it isn’t, then you’re ready to register that name!
After reading reviews for the best websites to register a blog domain name, I settled on registering the domain names for both of my blogs at Namecheap.
I initially chose to register my domains at Namecheap because
- The cost to register was low
- Registering a new domain comes with free WhoisGuard protection the first year
- I liked the look and feel of the website
Now that I have used Namecheap for a few months, my opinion is still the same. The ease of use is definitely a plus for a novice like me. If you explore Namecheap and discover that it’s not for you, there are plenty of other choices.
Where else can you register your blog domain name?
Here are a few other top choices for blog domain registration:
Step 2: Choose a hosting company for your blog
You registered the domain for your blog, but now you need someone to host the domain name and the blog itself. This decision seemed to be the most important among all of the website owners that I visited in my search for all things blog-related.
But before I explain my choice for self-hosting, I’m sure you want to know why YOU should have a self-hosted blog too.
Self-hosting gives you full ownership of your blog and your blog content—plain and simple. That was my most important reason for choosing the self-hosted route. I can monetize my blog, use plugins, and use any theme I want.
There are other benefits to self-hosting as WPBeginner accurately showcases.
The hosting company that continued to come up in my searches was Siteground. With this decision, I really relied on reviews. Remember, all of this was brand new to me. I had no clue what hosting was prior to starting with WordPress. While exploring the Siteground website, I compared their StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek plans and saw that they provided free WordPress installation. Uh, yeah…I’ll take one in every color.
I chose the GrowBig plan because I have two websites. You might only need the StartUp plan to begin with. Be aware that when you sign up, you are signing up for a year. Trust me, this is the best way to go.
Now that I’ve used Siteground for a while let me brag about their support services.
While setting up my first website, I inadvertently got WordPress to install incorrectly. Enter Bob (that’s not his name, but let’s call him that) almost 2 minutes later saying that I made an error, of course, and that he had just fixed it.
Say what now? Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout Willis?
I was shocked that they were so responsive to my issue. The error that I made sent a ticket to support I would assume, and that is why Bob came to the rescue. So Bob fixed the problem, and I thought that was it. Until 4 more issues came up. And yes, I created those issues. Ha! So back to Bob I went. Would you believe that he answered every single question that I asked? That’s what I call awesome tech support.
I think you’ll be satisfied with Siteground, but there are other hosting choices. You can often find hosting on the same website that you registered your domain. In step 1, I mentioned GoDaddy, HostGator, and Namecheap for domain registration. These websites will also host your new domain too.
Where else can you host your new blog other than Siteground? Here are a few other highly sought after choices for blog hosting:
Step 3: Download and install WordPress
You have a domain and hosting for your new blog, but now you need to get WordPress installed on it.
In Step 2, I told you that one of the reasons that I chose Siteground hosting my blog was for their free WordPress installation. If you chose Siteground to host your blog, then let me show you how to set up WordPress.
If you chose another hosting company, they might have free WordPress installation too. Search your hosting company’s website or ask the website’s tech support for some help.
If you want to install WordPress on your own, there are 3 simple directions to do just that! The procedure is found at the bottom of the WordPress website.
Step 4: Purchase a parent theme, specifically the Genesis Framework, from StudioPress
You’re almost at the finish line! You have a domain name, a hosting company, and now WordPress is installed on your blog. You should have received your login information by now, so sign into WordPress and take a look at your blog.
(waits and stares at you through the Internet)
Umm, did you take a look at your blog yet, sha? (sha is not a typo; it’s a term of endearment we use in Louisiana. Get into it.)
What do you think?
Pretty. Ugly. Huh?
That’s my nice way of putting it.
That mug is dreary and disgusting, and it needs some help.
In this step and the next step, you get to customize the look of your blog using themes. This was my favorite part of the process. Design makes me so happy!
Much like my previous research led me to the same resource over and over, the same applied to choosing a theme for my blog. Blog recommendations and reviews kept leading me back to one particular place—StudioPress. More specifically, blog owners spoke highly of purchasing the Genesis Framework to power my blog.
I’m am going to spare you my confusing explanation and instead, I will let you read for yourself why the Genesis Framework is a good choice for you and your blog. You can also get a good explanation about the difference between a parent theme (which is what the Genesis Framework is) and a child theme (which is what step 5 is all about).
My experience with the Genesis Framework has been positive so far. My primary reason for choosing it, besides what other bloggers recommended, was that it was required for the child theme that I ultimately chose for both of my websites.
Before I move to the final step, let me briefly tell you about Elegant Themes. Elegant Themes is very different from the Genesis Framework.
I was seriously thisclose to choosing Elegant Themes. They have two main WordPress themes called Divi and Extra. Just though my exploration of the themes through the demos, I found that I loved the drag-and-drop feature (which reminded me of using Blogger). I find that I can do the same thing with my current theme, but it is a great alternative if you feel that the Genesis Framework is not for you or that you like the look and feel of websites built using the Elegant Themes tools.
Step 5: Purchase a child theme
At last, you’ve made it. You are almost ready to draft that first blog post. Before you can do that, you need one more theme.
Another theme? Really? Yes, but this is the fun part.
Now technically, you could stick with the parent theme and start your blog with no problem. Personally, I did not like the plain look of the Genesis Framework parent theme. Also remember, that I kind of jumped the gun and found a child theme that I loved that required the Genesis Framework.
The Genesis Framework is the foundation of your website. Now, you need a child theme that will work on top of your framework or parent theme. You can find child themes all over the Internet. You can choose themes from StudioPress and WordPress. Some of the other places that sell amazing, beautiful themes are Pretty Darn Cute Design and Design By Bloom. I ultimately chose a WordPress theme from Creative Market which has hundreds of themes! They also have amazing fonts, backgrounds, and other design essentials. I’ve spent hours drooling over the Creative Market website.
So how do you choose a theme among hundreds of potential themes out there?
My advice is to think about the look and feel that you want for your blog. In my case, I wanted my visitors to see many snippets of my blog posts but not the whole thing—almost like a web magazine. When looking for your theme, narrow your search parameters to focus on themes that match the way you want blog visitors to see your blog.
Pick a few themes and compare them. Almost all of the themes will have a live preview or demo so that you can see how your blog would appear in real-time. I would advise you to choose a mobile-friendly theme, and actually look at the live demo on your phone. Many of the live demos will allow you to see how your blog would look on a desktop computer, tablet, and mobile device, but I personally like to see it on my phone and right in front of me.
Once you find a theme that you like and purchase it, you will more than likely have to download its .zip file, upload it on the themes page in WordPress, and then install and activate it. Even then, you might have to do a little bit more work, like downloading specific plugins, to make it look like the demo version you fell in love with. Your theme should come with a thorough guide that walks you through the installation and tweaking of your blog.
Whew. Did you get all of that?
These are just the steps to get your blog or website up and running. There is so much more that goes into it. Be sure to bookmark this page, pin it, share it on social media, or talk to me about it in the Tame the Classroom Facebook group. I will continue to update this page with new resource and more articles below on what to do after you have started your blog.
If you have a specific question, leave a comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll try to answer you as soon as possible and with the best answer that I can muster. And if I don’t know, I’ll try to point you in the right direction to find the answer.