There are a variety of sites out there that will host your blog for free. However, with free sites like Blogger.com and TypePad.com, you forfeit some control and the ability to monetize your site. To avoid any limitations and fully utilize your blog, it is best to go with a webhosting service.
You might already be wondering about the difference between a webhosting service and a publishing platform, but don’t worry. This complete guide will take you step by step through the process of setting up a WordPress blog on Bluehost. Just follow the instructions and in no time at all, you will have your blog up and running.
Why Choose Bluehost?
The basic purpose of a hosting service is to provide your site with space on the internet. While there are plenty of services to choose from, Bluehost provides the best combination of customer support, performance, and value. When you sign up with Bluehost, you will have access to live support 24/7. Whether you call, email, or setup a live chat, their staff will quickly answer your questions and help you troubleshoot any problems with your site.
Other characteristics you want to look for in a hosting service are speed and reliability. How fast their servers are able to load your site when visitors click on your link or type in your domain address can directly affect your Google rankings and business success. Bluehost boasts the fastest speed available, making it a safe bet.
Finally, while most hosting services are reasonably priced, Bluehost is certainly the most affordable with plans starting at $4.95 a month. You might even want to take a few moments to search for deals before you make your final purchase because you can usually find a coupon that will bring the price down to $3.95.
Setup Your Account
Now that you have made the sound decision of going with Bluehost as your hosting service, it is time to set up your account.
1. Go to bluehost.com
2. Click on the “get started now” button on the homepage.
3. You will then be prompted to pick a hosting plan. For now, choose the starter option. You can always upgrade later if you want, but the starter plan should offer all the capabilities and storage space you need to get blogging. Once you select your plan, you will be taken to the next screen that asks you to enter a domain name.
4. Enter the domain name you would like to use for your blog. You can click on the drop down arrow next to the “.com” box to choose a different address ending, such as .org or .net, but chances are that the default .com will be the right choice. After entering your domain, you are just one more step away from purchasing your little piece of real estate on the web!
5. Enter your payment and account information. Although you probably have a favorite password that you love for all your accounts, you may want to use the “generate password” feature to create a more secure password for your account. Hackers attack all kinds of sites and it is better to be safe than sorry.
That’s it! You officially own your site. As a final step you will be asked to log-in to your website. Simply enter your domain name in your browser’s address bar and enter your new password when prompted. This should take you to your site’s control panel where you can download WordPress and start publishing your work.
If you are looking at the control panel and starting to feel your heart rate pick up, don’t panic. Bluehost makes it easy to install WordPress. Try to block out any unnecessary information, follow these steps, and keep looking for the WordPress logo and you will be fine!
1. Look for the section titled Mojo Marketplace in your control panel.
2. Click on the “One-Click Installs” button. You will then see a section titled blogs. Click on the WordPress button.
3. You will be asked which domain you want to install it on, but if you only have one registered so far, the correct domain should be listed in the default.
4. Because you have just created a new site, you may get an error message. When prompted check the boxes that read “Oops. Looks like something already exists there. I understand that continuing will overwrite these files” and “Directory Exists! I understand that continuing will overwrite files.”
5. After all that, you should see the final “Install Now” button. Once final click and WordPress installation will be complete.
Check out Your New Blog
Type in your blog’s address and it should pop up in your browser. It won’t look like much now, but that blank template represent nothing but potential. The other good news is that you are now ready to choose a template, start playing around with your design, and post your first blog entry.
Log into WordPress
There are a few ways to enter the back-end of WordPress so that you can start editing your blog. Perhaps the easiest way is to type in your blog address and add /wp-admin. For example:
This will take you directly to the WordPress login page.
Enter in your information and you will be directed to the dashboard for your blog. This is where you can build pages, add posts, create menus, and do all the creative work for your blog.
Choose a Theme
While you can go right ahead and start creating and publishing posts, probably the first thing you want to do is choose a theme. This will dictate the color scheme, font and overall design of your site. There are thousands upon thousands of themes to choose from and all of them are customizable to some degree, so you can make adjustments as you go without be wedded to every design aspect. It is also fairly easy to install a new theme is you want to do a redesign down the road. With all that in mind, how do you even begin to choose the right theme?
1. Narrow your choices down to free themes.
2. Choose a theme that was built to highlight the type of content you will be publishing. For instance, there are themes that were specifically created to showcase the work of photographers.
3. Read “Starting Your First Blog? Checkout These 15 Best Free WordPress Themes” for great suggestions.
Write Your First Post
On the left hand side of the dashboard, you will see a sidebar menu. Click on “Post” and choose “Add New” and get to writing. Once you have crafted your very first blog, all you have to do is push the blue “Publish” button towards the upper right corner and you are officially a blogger.
Build an Audience
Now that you have everything setup, it is time to start thinking about how to build an audience. First and foremost, this involves setting up a strategy for consistently adding posts. You want to make sure that you are adding new content either on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Posting more than once a week won’t allow enough time for your article to gain traction. You want to be able to spend at least a week sharing and promoting your latest post on various social media outlets. However, adding new content just once a month won’t be enough to build a reputation as a source of cutting edge and timely information.
It is also a good idea to some research to see what days and times are best for publishing new material. That way, you can set up a publishing schedule and make sure that new material goes live at exactly the right time for optimal exposure. Once your publish your latest post, be sure to share it all over social media.
Network with Other Bloggers
Another strategy that will help you build an audience is to contact other bloggers who work in your niche market. Building relationships with other bloggers who may already have a more established audience can allow you to tap into their resources. Offer to post a guest blog on their site or add a “blog roll” to your site where you can link to sites you enjoy and encourage them to reciprocate the favor. Networking with other writers is by far the best way to earn high quality links to your site and build a following.
Armed with a credit card and a computer, you can start your own blog in less than 30 minutes!