How to Start a Blog

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My goal with VitalDollar.com is to help people who want to improve their own financial situation through saving more money, making more money, or (ideally) both. My own financial situation changed drastically after I discovered the power of blogging and how a blog can be used to generate income while working from home.

When I started my first blog I didn’t have any clue what I was doing. Fast forward several years later and I’ve now been working full-time in my blogging-based business for almost a decade. It’s truly been a life-changing experience for me and my family. I’ve been able to earn a good income, work on things that I enjoy, and avoid commuting to a job that I don’t like. The #1 factor in all of that has been blogging. I’ve even been able to sell several different blogs for as much as $500,000.

So when other people ask me about ways to make money online or from home, blogging is one of my first recommendations. If you’re on this page, chances are you are at least considering start a blog of your own. On this page I’ll show you how simple it is to get your own blog set up.

Why You Need Web Hosting for Your Blog

While there are platforms out there like Blogger and WordPress.com that will allow you to start your own blog for free, there are some very significant drawbacks to going the free route:

First of all, your blog will be hosted on their website (blogger.com or wordpress.com) and you’ll have very little control.

Second, if you want to appear professional you will need to have your own domain name, rather than hosting your site at johnsmith.wordpress.com. It’s virtually impossible to make money while using one of the free blogging platforms. If you hope to make any money from your blog you need to invest in a domain name and web hosting.

The good news is… a domain name and web hosting really doesn’t cost very much. The cost of a domain name registration is about $15 per year, and I’ll show you how to get web hosting for just $3.95 per month.

When you have your own domain and web hosting you own your website. It will look much more professional, and you can monetize the site/blog any way you want. And if for some reason you don’t like the web host you’re using, you can always move the site to a new host.

How to Start Your Blog

Ok, so now that we’ve looked (very quickly) at why you need your own domain name and web hosting, you may be feeling a bit intimidated. Don’t worry, getting your own blog set up is very easy and I’ll walk through the process.

There are countless hosting companies out there to choose from, but not all of them are equal. I recommend the hosting services from SiteGround. VitalDollar.com is hosted with SiteGround, and I recommend them for your blog as well. Since 2007 I have used many different web hosts, some good, some bad. I’ve been using SiteGround for about 5 years now and I really love their service. A lot of bloggers recommend getting your hosting with Bluehost. I’ve used Bluehost for several years as well, and honestly they’re good too and they would be my 2nd recommendation for a host if you are starting a new blog.

I recommend SiteGround over Bluehost and other hosts for two main reasons that I think are both very important: 1) page load speed, and 2) customer service.

Websites on SiteGround load faster than on Bluehost or any other web host in the same class that I’ve tried. How fast or slow your blog loads is extremely important. Every extra fraction of a second that your page takes to load will cost you a percentage of your visitors, because we’re all so impatient today. A fast-loading blog is critical if you want to keep visitors on your site and encourage them to come back again. SiteGround’s servers are specifically set up and optimized for WordPress, and we’ll be installing WordPress to power the blog.

Customer service is also a big factor when it comes to choosing a web host. I recommend never purchasing web hosting from a company that doesn’t offer customer service 24 hours per day (fortunately, most of the bigger hosts do). The last thing you want is to have an issue with your blog or website and to have to wait hours, or even days if it’s a weekend, to get in touch with a support rep. Trust me, I’ve been there.

SiteGround’s customer support is top-notch. You can contact support by online chat, email, or by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I almost always opt for online chat. With some other hosts I’ve waited up to an hour to be connected to a support rep via online chat or the phone, but with SiteGround it’s almost instantly. Even if you choose to submit an email ticket, the turnaround time is extremely fast.

The speed and accessibility of customer service is important, but so is the quality of the service. Unlike some other hosts, all of SiteGround’s support reps are very knowledgeable and friendly. The service I have received from SiteGround is amazing for a low-cost web hosting provider.

Now that you know why SiteGround is the best choice for your web host, let’s go ahead and get you signed up!┬áHead over to SiteGround’s website and you can see the different hosting packages that are available.

SiteGround Hosting Packages

I recommend choosing the StartUp plan for your new blog, which is the cheapest option. You can always upgrade later if you need to. The StartUp plan allows you to host one website/blog, so if you are going to be hosting more than one site or blog on the same account you can opt for the GrowBig plan.

The StartUp plan is just $3.95 per month, and the GrowBig plan is just $5.95 per month, so both are very affordably priced. Those prices are based on paying for 12 months of hosting upfront. The total is $47.40 for the year if you are going with the StartUp plan or $71.40 for the year if you are going with the GrowBig plan.

There is an option to pay for a one-month trial, but if you do it that way you’ll have a set up fee of $15 or $25, depending on which plan you choose. I highly recommend that you go with the 12-month plan to avoid the setup fee. They offer a 30-day money back guarantee, which gives you the chance to try it out for one month anyway.

Once you’ve decided which plan you want, just click on the orange “get started” button. Again, I recommend the StartUp plan unless you are going to be hosting multiple websites on the same account.

Next, you’ll see a screen like the one shown below.

Signing Up for Hosting with SiteGround

If you already own a domain name you can check the box that says “I already have a domain name”, and type the domain name that you will be using. If you don’t already own a domain name check the box for “register a new domain” and type the domain name that you would like. (The domain name is the web address that visitors will use to access your site. For example, mine is vitaldollar.com.)

If you are registering the domain name with SiteGround the cost is $15.95 per year, which is pretty comparable to what you would pay with other domain name registrars and web hosts.

Once you’ve done that, click on the “proceed” button.

On the next screen you’ll enter your name, email, address, and payment info.

SiteGround Signup Process

Lower on that page you’ll have a few options regarding your hosting account. I recommend that you uncheck any upgrades like the SG Site Scanner. You can also purchase the upgrades later if you want to, but declining them now will allow you to get started as inexpensively as possible.

You may notice that the checkout page shows that SiteGround offers a free website file transfer service, so if you currently have a blog on another web host SiteGround will handle moving it to their servers for you. I’ve actually used their free site transfer service before. They did a great job for me and it was done very fast.

Once you’ve entered your payment info and unchecked the upgrade offer you can click on the “pay now” button. This will complete the purchase and you’ll be able to login to your new hosting account.

After the purchase you’ll get an email with your login information. Be sure you keep this somewhere handy, and you can go ahead and login to your hosting dashboard.

If you already had a domain name you will need to change the nameservers to point to your new hosting account with SiteGround. The SiteGround welcome email with provide the nameservers that you should use, which will be something like ns1.usm40.siteground.biz. Login wherever you have the domain name registered (for example GoDaddy) and enter the nameservers that were provided to you. If you need help with this contact SiteGrounds support via online chat.

If you didn’t already own a domain name and you registered a domain name with SiteGround when you were purchasing the web hosting you won’t need to change anything or do anything with the nameservers.

Installing WordPress on SiteGround Web Hosting

Ok, now you’ve got web hosting and a domain name and you are ready to go! Let’s look at just how simple it is to install WordPress.

If you’re not familiar with WordPress it is a content management system that powers your blog and website. WordPress is free, easy to use, very powerful, and very popular. Something like 1 out of every 4 websites on the internet now are powered by WordPress.

SiteGround makes it super easy to install WordPress. When you’re logged in to your account make sure that you are on the “installations” tab (shown by the red arrow below) and then click on “WordPress/Joomla Toolkit” (shown by the purple arrow below).

WordPress Installation

That will lead you to your cPanel page, which is shown below. Under “AutoInstallers” click on the WordPress icon (shown by the green arrow below).

Install WordPress Easily

On the next page, click on the “install now” link (shown by the purple arrow below).

Install WordPress Quickly

On the next screen (shown below) you will select your domain from the dropdown. Leave the “in directory” field blank.

Last Step of WordPress Installation

In the “site settings” section you can enter your site/blog’s name and description. Don’t worry too much about this now, you can change it later. Leave the “enable multisite” box unchecked.

Below that it will ask for your admin username, password and email. Be sure that this email is one you can access (don’t use a junk email address), because if you ever need to reset your password WordPress will send the password reset link to the email address on record.

There will also be checkboxes for a couple of optional plugins that you can install. I would recommend checking the box to install the “limit login attempts” plugin (which will help to protect your site from hacking attempts). Under “choose theme” you can just leave that at “none”. Now you’re ready to click the “install” button.

Install WordPress - the End

Congratulations! WordPress is installed and your blog is set up! It will give you the URL to login to your site, you can login and go ahead and start working on your blog.

In the future I’ll be publishing more articles and tutorials related to blogging, but for now you have the blog installed and you’re ready to start your journey as a blogger.

How to Start a Blog