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Today we’re taking a step back, way way back to the very beginning, and taking a look at how to start a blog – in just 5 minutes! The people who read Amuse Your Bouche are a combination of bloggers and non-bloggers, so perhaps today I’ll manage to convert a few more of you to the blog life!
A lot of people start off on a free blogging service like Blogger, but if you have any intentions of getting more than a few thousand readers a month, or making any sort of money from your blog, you’ll need to go self-hosted eventually. Therefore I think it’s worth doing as soon as you can – I started out on Blogger, but it would have saved an awful lot of hassle if I’d started out self-hosted in the first place. And as you’ll see, it doesn’t need to be expensive – for just a few dollars a month, you can have your very own self-hosted blog with your own domain name (don’t worry, I’ll explain what that all means in a minute!).
This is a ‘beginner’ blog tip – aimed at those people who are just starting to set up their blog.
How to start a blog in 5 minutes
Before you can start writing your blog, you need to get some hosting – a good analogy is that before you can build a house, you need some land to build it on. You need a hosting company to actually provide you with a bit of Internet to build your blog on. Bluehost is the company I use for my hosting, and they’re amazing. There are other hosting companies available, but I highly recommend going with Bluehost – they’re great value for money, and their customer service is great – even though I’m in the UK and they’re an American company. Every time I’ve accidentally clicked something that totally killed my blog, they’ve had everything up and running again within just a couple of hours or less. Sometimes I ask them about things that I honestly think they won’t be able to help with, and they can – every time. So let’s start from the very beginning, and take a look at how to start your very own blog with Bluehost.
Step 1: Choose your domain name
A domain name is basically a URL – the address you type in your navigation bar to go to a website. So my domain name is amuse-your-bouche.com. Your first step is to decide what you’d like your domain name to be. This should be the same as the name of your blog for SEO purposes (you’ll learn more about SEO as you begin blogging – for now, just trust me that it’s a good idea!).
To get started, head over to Bluehost and click ‘sign up now’.
Then just type your chosen domain name into the box under where it says ‘I need a domain name’. I highly recommend going for the ‘.com’ ending.
As you can see, if you’re unlucky, your chosen domain name might not be available – but just keep going until you find a name that’s available. I’d recommend trying new names with the .com ending rather than going with a different ending – it looks so much more professional than .biz.
Once you’ve managed to get your hands on a domain name that suits you, you can go on to step 2.
Step 2: Register your Bluehost account
Enter your account information and choose what hosting package you want. As you can see, you’re able to add an international address and phone number, so Bluehost is great even if you’re not American.
There are several different package options available. It works out cheaper per month if you go for a longer time period – if you only sign up for one year, it will cost you $6.95 per month, but if you go for 3 years, it’ll only cost $4.95 per month. I went for the three year option, but if you’re not sure whether you’ll stick with blogging, you might want to go for a shorter period of time – you can always renew it after the year is up.
You’ll also need to decide what extras you’d like – as you can see, the domain ‘whois’ privacy comes highly recommended (it basically stops your personal details being available online), and it’s only $9.99 for the whole year, so I’d definitely go for that option. The others are up to you (click ‘more information’ to find out what the options mean).
Step 3: install WordPress
Once you’ve entered your payment information, you’ll be taken to your Bluehost control panel (cPanel). It should look something like this:
Scroll down to ‘software/services’, and click ‘WordPress’. Install the software, and fill in your details. You can leave the section where it says ‘where would you like WordPress installed’ blank, and then just fill in your chosen blog name (remember, this should be the same as your domain name. My domain is amuse-your-bouche.com and my blog name is Amuse Your Bouche). Choose a secure password and fill in the box (don’t forget this username and password because you’ll need it to make any changes to your blog!).
Agree to the terms and conditions, and click ‘complete’.
Step 4: Install a theme
Once the installation is complete, your blog will be live! You can view it by typing the URL you just chose into the address bar. It will look pretty boring to begin with – just the standard WordPress template.
To get into your blog’s ‘back-end’ (i.e. the behind-the-scenes area), add /wp-admin to the end of your URL – for example, www.myblogname.com/wp-admin – and log in using the username and password you chose earlier.
Your WordPress dashboard will look something like this:
From here, you can begin designing your blog by adding a ‘theme’. This is essentially a basic design that you can customise – different themes might allow you to customise different aspects of your blog to different extents (header, background, sidebar etc.). There are a lot of free WordPress themes available, which are a great place to start. If you do decide to pay for a theme, in order to get a lot more customisability (is that a word?), I use the Genesis framework – but for now you might decide to stick to a free theme.
To browse the available themes, hover over ‘appearance’ in your left-hand sidebar, and click ‘themes’.
Click the ‘install themes’ tab, and then just find a theme that you like the look of – you can browse them by ‘newest’ or ‘featured’.
When you’ve found a theme you like the look of, click ‘install now’ and then ‘activate’. You can now begin customising your blog design and writing your first blog posts - but I’ll save all that for another time!
I hope I’ve shown you how easy it is to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog through Bluehost! It might look like a lot, but you can actually get through all 4 of these steps in about 5 minutes if you know what you want – the bit that takes the time is the thinking (thinking what domain name you would like, thinking about which theme you like best, etc.)! Now get going and don’t forget to show me what you come up with! I’d be honoured to leave you your first blog comment!
(disclosure: this post contains a couple of affiliate links. This means that if you click across to Bluehost and sign up, I receive a little money. However my opinions are all genuine and I have honestly loved being hosted by Bluehost! They’ve never told me off for clicking on things I don’t understand, which is good because I tend to do that quite a lot.)