This year marked the fourth year anniversary of The Dough Roller! Before starting this site, I had no idea how to set up a blog. I’ve come a long way. Recently, several people have asked me to walk them through step by step how to start a blog using WordPress.
The good news is that setting up a blog is quick, easy, and inexpensive.
Setting Up a WordPress Blog in 3 Easy Steps
You need to do three things to set up a WordPress blog:
- Get a domain name;
- Sign up for web hosting; and
- Install the WordPress software (which is free).
So let’s cover each step, and by the end of this article, you should be all set to start your first site.
How to pick a domain name
There are a number of factors to consider when picking a domain name. And the first thing you should consider is why you are starting a site in the first place. Do you want to set up a social blog where making money online is just one of many goals? Are you setting up a site solely to generate revenue? Or Are you setting up a site to promote an off-line business? There are a lot of different and valid reasons to set up a site, but it’s important to know the purpose behind your site when you pick a domain name.
With that in mind, here are some of the factors to consider when picking a domain name:
Branding: If you are promoting an off line business, a domain name that matches the name of your company is critical. But even if your business is entirely online, a memorable domain name can help you build reader loyalty and trust. This is the approach I took with the Dough Roller. Exactly how well I accomplished that goal I’ll leave to you, but the people I talk to say its catchy and memorable. That’s the goal if your focus is branding.
Generic Domains: With a generic domain, you focus on what the site is about, rather than your own brand. For example, if it had been available, I could have named this site www.personalfinance.com or www.money.com. Those domain names were taken, but it gives you the idea of what a generic domain name is.
Visual Appeal: You should also consider things like the length of the domain name (the shorter, the better) and use of hyphens (none is best).
Top Level Domains: Does it matter if your site ends with .com, .net, .org, or some other TLD? Yes and no. Domain names with .com extensions are more valuable than other TLDs. It’s as simple as that. In addition, most folks assume that a website is a .com, so they can have trouble finding your site if it ends with a different extension. I have no doubt that some have had trouble finding the Dough Roller because it ends in .net. I think that’s why I get a handful of visitors each day who find the site through the search term the dough roller.
Availability: So you have a great domain name in mind and want to know if it’s available. There are a million places on the net to find out if a domain name is available. I use www.hostingsesame.com. It’s easy to use and will give you alternative suggestions if the name is not available. You should expect to try a lot of domain names before you find one that you like and that is available.
Hosting your site
There are many hosting services to choose from. And if you ask five bloggers which is the best, you’ll get five different answers. I’ve used several hosting services over the past four years. Of these, Hosting Sesame is my top pick. It’s inexpensive, reliable, and the telephone support is top notch. It also has a hosting package specifically designed for WordPress blogs.
And one other thing. Hosting Sesame is running a special where you can get your domain for just $3.99 (normally $10) if you purchase a non-domain item (which you must if you want hosting!). You can check out the details by clicking here.
Of course, you don’t have to use Hosting Sesame. There are plenty of good hosting companies out there. For the rest of this tutorial, however, I’ll be using Hosting Sesame. So let’s get started.
Since we are building a WordPress blog, the starting point is the WordPress hosting package. At Hosting Sesame, the option screen looks like this:
My suggestion is to go with the Deluxe Plan for 12 months or longer. The cost comes out to about $7 a month, which is hard to beat. Once you complete your purchase and sign in to your account, you’ll see a list of the items you’ve purchased (which at a minimum needs to be the domain and hosting). To get starting, find the hosting you purchased and click the Launch button, which looks like this:
And this is where buying hosting specifically designed for WordPress makes things really easy. When you launch your web hosting product, you’ll see this screen:
You’ll notice I’m using the domain hackerpress.net, which I purchased just for this tutorial. Hosting Sesame automatically fills in whatever domain you’ve purchased. Simply complete the rest of the fields, and Hosting Sesame will install and setup WordPress for you. It’s that easy.
How to Install WordPress on BlueHost
Now at this point you may be thinking that we just installed WordPress in step #2. We did. But that’s because Hosting Sesame makes it so easy. Many hosting companies require you to install WordPress on your own. So if you aren’t using Hosting Sesame, you’ll need to read this section.
Most hosting companies use what’s called cPanel. This is software that runs all of the applications available to you on the server. From the cPanel, scroll down to the Software/Services panel and click on the Fantastico De Luxe button. The image below was taken from Bluehost:
This will take you to the Fantastico page where you can click on the WordPress link in the left sidebar underneath the “Blog” heading. Here’s what the WordPress installation page looks like:
From here click the “New Installation” link to go to the WordPress installation page. In the drop-down box at the top, select the domain name where you want to install WordPress. In my example, I’m installing it in the CoolMoneyTools.net directory:
After that just work down the page inputting primarily the password you want to use and email name. Once you’ve filled in the required fields, click the “Install WordPress” button and Bluehost takes care of the rest. The next page will allow you to email the installation details to an email address of your choosing. This is very important, as you’ll want to save this information.
You can also use a program called Simple Scripts to install WordPress, which is also available with BlueHost and most other hosting services.
I know this has been a long post, but as I said, I do plan to cover this information in detail. Next week I’ll cover choosing a WordPress theme, including the SEO considerations that should go into your decision.
Published or updated September 11, 2012.