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If you’ve ever thought about starting your own blog or other business web site, I’ve got some great news for you: starting your own web site has never been easier! If you want to blog, things are SUPER easy now. If you are interested in starting up a web site to show off a graphic design or writing portfolio, advertise your consulting services, or just get your business into the 2010’s, there are easy solutions for you, too.
I started running web sites back when I was about 12 years old. They were fan sites for a video game I played extensively at the time. Please, for the love of everything good in this world, do NOT try to find them on archive.org because they are embarrassing! I had to write my own HTML and, later, PHP scripts using Notepad, with no error checking, no ‘testing environment’, nothing. I wrote my own news posting system that I used to run my site for two years. Most blog/news type systems still required that you format your own posts in HTML; no fancy Rich Text editors. It was TOUGH to run a web site back in the day! Web hosting was also more expensive than it is now.
As it turns out, the web has changed quite a bit in the past 18 years. One-click installation of software, tons of sweet widgets to customize your site, and easy theme swapping so you can get something that looks sexy without having to worry if your <td> tag was properly closed.
Step 1: Choose Hosting
The first step to starting your own blog – or any web site for that matter – is to find a good web host to use. I’ve used about a dozen web hosts in the past. Some were shared hosting accounts, some their own full dedicated servers. Some had good support, others had crappy support. The biggest things that I keep in mind when choosing a host are:
- How reliable is their service? Your web site needs to be active and reachable in order to
- How easy do they make it to install the software you need to power your site? In my case, I’m using WordPress. Most bloggers do, because it’s an incredibly powerful and yet simple tool. It’s got the flexibility to act as a blog, but it doesn’t require that you treat it like a blog. I have several friends who have sites for their businesses such as software consulting and real estate. They don’t have blogs, but they still run on WordPress.
- If shit hits the fan, how good is their customer service? If you are starting your first site, it can be intimidating! Having a good, reliable customer service with options for phone calls, emails, or online chats is important to make sure that if I get stuck I can get the help I need.
I selected BlueHost for meeting my needs on these criteria. They have simple one-click WordPress installations. I’ve had to use their customer service one time and their online chat options worked great. They’re also inexpensive which is a huge plus. If you use my link, you can get hosting for just $3.95 a month when you sign up for 3 years. This is a pretty sweet deal and was considerably less than I ever paid back in the day. Just as a note I do get some cash when you use my link. It helps keep this site going, and doesn’t cost you anything.
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
A domain name is your home address on the web; your URL. Mine is marriedwithmoney.com. You’ll want to check and see if the domain name you want is available or taken. If it’s available, you can snag it for pretty cheap.
If you have bought a domain name already through something like GoDaddy you’ll have to set up your nameservers separately. Thankfully GoDaddy makes it pretty easy, just check out that link for more information.
Step 3: Set Up Account And Package Information
Here you can choose what else you want with your site. I’d recommend the Domain Privacy Protection (so that people can’t see your name and address if they look up who owns your domain name) at a bare minimum.
SSL is also a nice plus so that your visitors don’t have to click past annoying warnings about an unsecured site. These are obviously extra costs, but running a web site without these isn’t a great idea; it could potentially expose more about yourself than you wish, and worse, it could expose your visitors to security threats.
Step 4: Install WordPress
Finally! At this point you’ll get a few emails and you can go ahead and log in. Finally we’re at the point where we can install WordPress; the backbone of many blogs today. When you log in, admittedly things can be a bit overwhelming. Don’t worry! BlueHost makes it easy for you.
- Log in to CPanel with the credentials and link that was emailed to you.
- After logging in, find the ‘WordPress tools’ link in the top blue ribbon.
- Fill out the form, and click ‘Install WordPress’. Don’t worry if you’re not in love with your Site Title, you can change that later. Just don’t do anything silly like using a generic username or password, or an invalid email address.
- Wait for the install to complete. You will receive an email with the site URL as well as the Admin Login URL.
Step 5: Configure WordPress
There are a ton of options to configure in WordPress. It can be quite a bit to take in at once, but thankfully there are a huge number of resources available online to assist, and it is relatively straight-forward. You can find some very useful plugins to help run your blog or business. If you need help, Google is very quick and easy. You can send me an email too and I’ll try to help as best I can, but to be honest you’ll probably have better luck with Google.
Step 6: Get Writing!
If you’re starting a blog, it’s likely that the writing is the most exciting part for you. Now’s the time to write, publish, and grow your site. If you’re just starting out writing, don’t worry about getting your posts perfect. Your first few posts will likely suck. A lot. But that’s okay – keep them up, read them again a few months down the line, and keep on getting better.