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How To Start a Blog Clearly Explained
You’ve decided to start a blog! That’s awesome! But NOW WHAT?
HOW do you start a blog? What do you NEED to start blogging?
What is blog hosting? What do all those techy terms like bandwidth and disk space and “unlimited” domains MEAN?
What do you need for YOUR new blog?
Welcome to PotPieGirl’s How To Start a Blog 101 for the Confused and Clueless
I almost titled this:
“Starting a Blog for Dummies Written by a Previous Blogging Dummy” lol!
Why? Because once upon a time, 10+ years ago, I was a confused and clueless blogging “dummy”!
I am NOT a “tech person” at ALL – I can barely set the time on my coffee maker. I just don’t “do” tech.
If you are kinda the same way, I promise you this: I will explain all this blogging and website hosting jibberish in a way you WILL understand and come out ready to start your own blog without any confusion about what you’re doing.
In spite of my “tech ignorance”, I’ve been blogging for 10 years AND I have multiple blogs.
If *I* can figure out blogging, YOU can figure it out, too =)
Now, this is a long blog post because I wanted to take the time to explain everything VERY clearly.
Summary of Topics on This Page:
- How To Start a Blog Clearly Explained
- What Do You Need To Start a Blog?
- What is a Domain Name?
- What IS Website Hosting/ Blog Hosting?
- Understanding Website Hosting Terms
- Blog Hosting Prices – What You NEED To Know
- What is “cPanel”?
- What Is WordPress?
- Quick Review
- Starting a Blog in 3 Quick Steps
- NOW What??
- How To Make Money with Your Blog
- Blogging 101
Before we jump into to the technical stuff you need to understand when you want to start a blog, let’s talk about the BIGGEST question about blogging that I’m asked:
How do I make MONEY with a blog?
If that is YOUR question, just enter your email below and I’ll see you a FREE 7-Day email course that will answer all your questions.
Ok, let’s jump in and get started.
When I was considering starting my own blog, the biggest roadblock was what all those techy mumbo-jumbo blogging terms MEANT.
They might as well be speaking in some ancient foreign language because it all made NO sense to me – at ALL.
What IS website hosting? Bandwidth? Disk Space? AddOn domains? What do all those terms MEAN – and what do they mean to ME? What did I really need to know and think about blog hosting when choosing a host? Which hosting plan was right for MY needs?
All those years ago, when I first started a blog, I sure needed a Start a Blog for Dummies guide to help me understand it all in a way that actually made sense to ME.
But there really wasn’t such a guide that made any sense at all to me… so, over the years, I’ve figured it all out – and knowledge is pretty much useless unless it’s shared, right?
I’ve made this guide for anyone who wants to start a blog, but feels overwhelmed and clueless like I once did.
What follows is exactly how I explained everything about blogging to myself AND to my daughter in a way that completely made sense and took all the “scary” out of starting a blog for both of us.
My hope is that the information on this page will help YOU the same way it helped us and make YOU much more comfortable, and way less confused, about starting your own blog.
I’ve been in your shoes feeling clueless, overwhelmed, and pretty darn intimidated about starting a blog.
So please, grab a cup of coffee (or a cup of whatever), sit back, and allow me to explain starting a blog to you in the way that made it all make sense to me AND to my new blogger daughter.
I’m about to take you from “clueless” to starting YOUR own blog right now!
What Do You Need To Start a Blog?
I want you to stop thinking about starting a blog for just a moment and instead, look around you… I bet your cell phone is somewhere near you, right?
Ok, now – look at your phone….
What do you need for that phone to work?
You need a phone with an operating system installed,
you need a phone number, and
you need a cell phone service provider (like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc) to make your phone and phone number work, right?
Now, keeping those things in mind about your cell phone, let’s apply those things to starting a blog.
There are 3 main things you need to start a blog in the easiest way possible.
You will need:
1. A Blog “Domain Name” (this is like your phone number)
2. Blog “Hosting” (this is like your cell phone service provider)
3. WordPress (this is like the operating system installed on your phone)
As I said before, starting a blog is really NOT that complicated once you know what all the terms mean and what they DO.
Here’s what all that stuff is, how it all fits together, and simple answers to complicated terms related to blogging.
(note: if you already understand what blog hosting is and what a domain name is and what “bandwidth” is and disk space, etc… you can click here to skip all those explanations – but if you’re not 100% clear, please take a moment and read everything.)
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the address people type to go to YOUR site.
For example, my domain name here on this blog is PotPieGirl.com.
If you go to Google to search something online, their domain name is Google.com.
If you go to Amazon to buy something, their domain name is Amazon.com.
Those unique numbers send calls, texts, etc to YOUR phone, right?
When it comes to your blog or website, your domain name is uniquely for YOUR site.
Just like you own your phone number and it is uniquely yours for YOUR phone, I own PotPieGirl.com and it is uniquely mine – and no one else can use it.
To pick a “domain name” for your new blog, you need to pick a domain name that no one else is using.
It is uniquely YOURS for YOUR blog.
But you need MORE than just a unique phone number for you to have a working cell phone, right?
Exactly! And the same applies with having your own blog or website… you need MORE than just a domain name to have your own blog/site.
You also need blog hosting.
What IS Website Hosting/ Blog Hosting?
A “hosting company” will do for your domain name what your cell phone company does for your phone number – it makes it work. It makes it “live” for all to be able to call on.
And in the same way you can move your phone number from company to company (ie, you can switch your cell service from AT&T to Verizon and take your phone number with you), you can do the same thing with your domain name.
In short, that means you can move your domain name (and your blog/site) to any hosting company that you want to.
You are NOT “stuck” with a hosting company.
To recap what we’ve talked about so far:
Your domain name is like your phone number.
Ok, let’s move on…
Understanding Website Hosting Terms
Blog hosting companies use a lot of “techy” terms to describe what you get with your package.
Those terms can be down right CONFUSING – I know they sure were for me for a LONG time (and still, to this day 10 years later, I get thrown by some “geek” terms that hosting companies throw around).
I am NOT a “tech genius” – Like you, I just wanna blog =)
One of the most common questions I get about blog hosting is:
What the heck is “Shared Hosting”??
Here is the easiest way to understand what “shared hosting” is.
Again, using the cell phone analogy…
Right down the street from my house is an AT&T cell phone tower.
Anyone with a cell phone in my area that gets their phone service from AT&T is getting their signal from that cell phone tower.
With “Shared Hosting”, it kinda works the same way.
Shared hosting simply means that your blog is using the same “tower” as many other websites and blogs.
Your blog will be sharing hosting resources with other blogs because they all share the same “tower”.
Good hosting companies will limit how many websites are all using the same tower so everyone that uses that tower will get a good “signal”.
This is because each “tower” only has so much “signal” to give before it gets overloaded and sluggish – or goes offline completely.
New bloggers are perfectly fine getting a “shared hosting” plan.
Bandwidth? What Is THAT?
A term you will see when choosing a blog hosting company is “bandwidth”.
In short, bandwidth is how much “signal” YOUR website or blog is allowed to use from the “tower”.
Most websites / blogs will never use all the bandwidth their allowed to use – but it can happen that a site gets too much traffic and exceeds their bandwidth limitations.
Which is a GOOD “problem” to have =)
If that happens, all you do is upgrade to a larger hosting package with more bandwidth.
If you think about your blog hosting package as if it were the data plan for your phone, this all makes perfect sense.
With your phone’s data plan, you get a limit on how many minutes or texts or whatever you can use with your phone each month, right?
Same basic concept with the bandwidth limits on your blog hosting package.
Your phone’s data plan sets the limits on how much you can do with your phone each month… and your website/blog hosting package sets the limits on how much blog traffic you can get each month (for the most part – that’s just a simple explanation).
And just like with your phone, if you’re going OVER the limits of your data plan, you simply upgrade or get more. And you can do that with your current cell phone company, or move to another company to get a better deal on your data plan.
The only main difference between your cell phone data plan and your blog hosting plan is this:
If you go over on your phone’s data plan, your phone will still work, but you’ll charged for your overage, right?
With your website/blog hosting package, if you go over your limits, your hosting company very well might take your website offline until you upgrade.
Why would they take your site offline?
Again, remember the cell phone “tower” analogy?
The hosting company has to ensure the quality of “signal” for ALL the sites using that one tower.
If ONE site is dragging down the tower and using up too many resources, they have to take that site offline to ensure all the other sites still work well.
Makes sense, right?
Now, you CAN get your own “tower” so only YOUR site (or sites) use the resources, but that’s expensive and is rarely something a new blogger needs (and that topic is way beyond the scope of this How To Start a Blog guide).
How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?
For most shared hosting packages, bandwidth will be offered in increments of GB’s (gigabytes).
As a general rule of thumb, every 10GB is good for about 10,000 monthly blog visitors.
For new bloggers, 10GBs is usually plenty enough bandwidth, BUT – that leaves very little room for growth.
10,000 blog visits a month sure sounds like a LOT, doesn’t it?
But it’s really NOT enough.
That is NOT unheard of – and you sure as heck don’t want your hosting company to take your blog offline because you are getting too MUCH traffic, right?
You want to be sure you have room to grow and to thrive as a blogger and NOT have your growth restricted by resource limitations.
Now, on the other hand, if you are simply building a site for your local business as your “online business card” that just gives info about your company, 10GBs is probably plenty.
Very few websites for a small local business that only serve a very specific local area will get more than 10k hits a month.
Why? Because a local business website is probably not “blogging” for traffic and planning to continuously and consistently add new web pages on the site to grow traffic.
I don’t want to go off on the “local business website” tangent as to not confuse anyone, but thought I’d mention that just in case that’s the direction YOU are headed.
This post is more about explaining BLOG hosting – meaning, you plan to post to your site/blog often and you hope to GROW you traffic… and your traffic comes from all over the world.
That brings me to another important term in blog hosting…
What is “Unmetered” Bandwidth?
Some blog hosting packages will offer “unmetered bandwidth” – don’t mistake that with unlimited.
In short, unmetered means they don’t set actual limits on your monthly bandwidth (as in a hard number), but they do still have limits.
Now, every hosting company is different, but a simple explanation is this:
As an example, there are 20 blogs all sharing the same “tower” that your blog is on (ie, that whole “shared hosting” thing).
All is going along fine, plenty of resources for everyone’s blog to run smoothly.
Then, suddenly, ONE blog starts using a TON of those shared resources and dragging down all the other blogs.
With an “unmetered” bandwidth hosting package, the blog that is over-using the shared resources will get an email asking that blog owner to stop using so many resources or to upgrade their hosting package so they have all the resources their individual blog needs.
To me, “unmetered” is neither a good thing or a bad thing. Odds are good that a “normal” blog will never run into that situation.
Have I had that happen to ME?
Yes, I have – because I have a LOT of blogs and sites and, as an example, one time I installed a forum on one of my sites and that really spiked my bandwidth usage (remember, bandwidth is about the traffic or “hits” your blog gets) – and I needed to upgrade to suit the needs for my new bandwidth requirements (ie, all that additional and consistent traffic to my site).
Best advice: Being that every hosting company is different, simply ASK the company you’re considering what “unmetered” means to them AND what they do if your blog over-uses resources.
Unlimited Domains/ Unlimited Websites – What Does THAT Mean?
In many hosting package details you might see something like “unlimited domains” or “unlimited websites” or “unlimited Add On domains” mentioned in your package details.
Here’s what THAT means…
Again, think about your cell phone for a moment…
Based on your plan with AT&T or Verizon or whoever you have, how many phone numbers are you allowed to have on your plan?
On my cell phone provider plan, I can add all the phone numbers that I want to my plan.
BUT all of those phone numbers are SHARING the same resources and limitations of my data plan.
And while your cell phone service provider will charge you a little for each additional phone you add to your plan, an “unlimited domains” blog hosting package does NOT charge you – it’s included in your monthly rate.
What is “Disk Space”?
Disk space is a fancy term for how much “stuff” you can save ON your hosting package.
(some might spell it Disc Space)
Again, think about your cell phone.
Every cell phone has a “memory limit” which indicates how much “stuff” your phone itself can hold (ie, apps, pictures, texts, videos, etc… and the “stuff” we save on our phones).
Same with your computer or laptop, there is only so much “stuff” you can save before it’s full, right?
Disk space refers to how much stuff you can have on your server (ie, on your blog hosting package).
Every picture you have on your blog… every word… all of that takes up space.
Some hosting companies might call this “website space” or “storage space” – but those terms all usually refer to disk space.
Disk space for most blog hosting packages is also usually measured in GBs (gigabytes).
What Is “Unmetered” Disk Space?
Unmetered disk space is pretty much the same as unmetered bandwidth that we talked about earlier.
In short, with unmetered disk space, the hosting company does not set a hard limit on the amount of disk space you can use, BUT if you start using more disk space than the other blogs on your “tower”, the hosting company will most likely email you and ask you to either remove some saved “stuff” or to get a blog hosting package with more disk space.
And yet again – all hosting companies are different so ASK any company before signing up if you’re not totally clear on your limits, ok?
Why? Because odds are REALLY good that at some time during your stay with that hosting company that you WILL need some sort of support – and you’ll want to know how fast they reply and help you BEFORE signing up with them.
I can tell you this: I was with a hosting company for YEARS and YEARS – I never thought I’d EVER switch companies – until their customer support went seriously down hill.
It would take DAYS to get a support ticket answered let alone how long it took to get a support issue fixed – and that is UNACCEPTABLE.
If for some weird reason, your blog goes offline, you don’t want to wait DAYS to get help and get it back online, do you?
Of course not!
While their hosting was fine – their support had become horrible –
So I packed my sites up and left them – and I couldn’t leave fast enough!
I’m not one to blog negative, so I’m not going to say the name of that hosting company, but I will say it started with an “H”.
Their support team replies in MINUTES – not DAYS.
AND, they genuinely HELP me as opposed to giving me some techy geek blah blah answer that makes NO sense to me.
I have to say, I find it SO odd that hosting companies answer customers as if that customer understands and owns their own hosting company.
If we owned our own hosting company, WHY would we be with THEM?
I have literally BEGGED a hosting support person to PLEASE talk to me as if I was a complete idiot – as in, seriously dumb it down for me – because I didn’t understand a word of what they were telling me.
In this day and time, where hosting companies are advertising on TV and the like that ANYONE can easily start a blog or have a website, their customer support staff NEEDS to be able to speak to their customers as people – not as fellow hosting techs.
My hosting company talks to me and helps me as if I am a person and they don’t expect me to know what THEY know… that’s the reason I am asking THEM for help – they’re the experts, right?
But that’s ME and my own hard lessons learned after 10+ years doing this, ok?
When I first started blogging, I couldn’t afford to be choosy – I took what worked based on what I could afford.
That’s not the best way to choose a blog hosting company, but we do what we gotta do, right?
If you look at the options my blog hosting company offers, you will see they offer a LOT of “bells and whistles” that other hosting companies do not offer.
But their base product, blog hosting, is solid and their support is fantastic.
However, my company may be too much for your new blog needs at this moment, so keep that in mind.
How Much Disk Space Do You Need?
For a brand new blog, I personally think you should have at least 15GB – 20 GBs of disk space… at least.
Again, you want room to grow, right?
Also… you want to be sure you get the most “bang for your buck” when you sign up for a blog hosting package.
Which brings me to something VERY important to consider when picking a company to host your blog…
Blog Hosting Prices – What You NEED To Know
When shopping around and comparing blog hosting packages, you will undoubtedly see some AMAZING deals and great prices for new customers.
This pricing strategy might ring familiar to you if you’ve ever shopped around for a new cell phone service provider.
Every day on TV you probably see some AMAZING deals being offered for you to switch to a new company, right?
Cell phone companies sure discount their prices in BIG ways to get new customers!
Blog hosting companies work in a very similar way.
They will offer incredible deals to get you to sign up and it’ll be cheap for your first year (or whatever amount of time you sign up for to start)…
It’s renewal time.
And at renewal time, it’s highly possible that your plan will renew at a higher “normal” monthly rate and they will then bill you at that “normal” rate.
Which can come as a huge shock!
But they’ve already “got” you as a customer and statistics show that people will STAY with a more expensive plan rather then going through the hassle of changing to a NEW company.
Blog hosting companies work the same way…
They’ll get you to sign up for a ridiculously low initial rate, but then when it’s time to renew your blog hosting package, you will renew at their “normal”, and sometimes much higher, rate.
Now, there is nothing wrong or “scammy” about that pricing model for any business as long as they make it clear before you sign up, ok?
As an example,
Let’s say you find an awesome deal on blog hosting for only $2.95 a month.
That is an AWESOME deal (as long as it offers you all the resources you need).
So, you sign up for a year and pay $2.95 times 12 months = $35.40
That’s AWESOME – and your blog is paid for and hosted for an entire YEAR!
BUT… then your year is up and it’s time to pay for the NEXT year of blog hosting.
Their “normal” rate is $12.95 a month and you will then get a renewal bill (or be auto-charged) 12 times $12.95 a month = $155.40
Yeah, that’s a ton different than your first yearly hosting bill of $35.40, isn’t it?
Why do I mention this?
Because this happened to ME.
Like a newbie blogger “dummy”, I didn’t really read or pay close attention to the renewal terms for one of my hosting accounts – and I was not only surprised with a big renewal bill, they also auto-charged my credit card.
If you’re not expecting someone to take $150+ from you, it sure can sting! Especially if you’re a new blogger who still isn’t making that much money yet.
If you look at blog hosting packages and there is a monthly amount crossed out followed by a low “sale price”, or there is a “normal” or “regular” rate posted that is now discounted or on sale, that low sale price is most likely NOT your “forever” price.
That “sale” price is yours for as long of a term as you sign up with initially (ie, as a NEW customer).
THEN, when that initial “new customer” term is over, you will have a renewal monthly rate that will most likely be the higher “normal” monthly rate you see crossed out.
If in doubt at all, ASK the company and/or really read their terms BEFORE signing up.
Here’s another tip to get the cheapest blog hosting possible:
Remember earlier, I mentioned getting the most “bang for your buck”?
That brings me to my second rule:
If you can get a new blog hosting package that offers you all the resources you need now AND room to grow for $3.95 a month (which is GREAT – this blog hosting company offers that now) and they’ll allow you to sign up for 3 years, take it. AND… you get a FREE domain like this company does as well, you’re getting a great deal.
That will be about $142 out of your pocket at that moment, BUT – you are good to go for 3 YEARS before you ever have to think about a renewal bill.
Here’s an example…
Let’s say you want that awesome $3.95 a month blog hosting deal, but you don’t want to pay 3 years up front.
As a smart blogger (because you remember my Rule #1) you are sure to know your hosting renewal cost and that will be $9.95 a month when you renew.
So you pay the first $3.95 a month for a year up front and pay them $47.40
Your first year passes, you’re loving blogging (of course) and here comes your renewal bill:
$119.40 for another year.
Then THAT year passes and here’s come another yearly renewal….
ANOTHER bill for $119.40
So now, for 3 years of blog hosting, you have paid:
$47.40 + $119.40 + $119.40 =
When you COULD have just paid for 3 years at the initial low rate of $3.95 a month and paid:
and saved $144.
In short, you ended up paying TWICE AS MUCH as you needed to.
That’s a waste of money that COULD HAVE been spent on other blogging tools and training to help grow your blogging business.
Why Do I Mention All This?
Because *I* made this mistake.
I got all cute and wishy-washy and thought,
“Well, I’m not sure I’m gonna wanna blog for 3 years and I don’t want to pay ALL that money up front….”
That was DUMB of me!
Don’t be me =)
Listen – if you’re thinking about blogging for money, but you’re not willing to mentally commit to doing it for 3 years, you might want to rethink all this.
That’s just the hard truth.
What’s odd to me is that people don’t think twice about mentally committing to 4 years of college AND paying those thousands and thousands of dollars to do it…
But people absolutely freak out at the thought of paying $150 to start a blogging business and mentally commit to doing it for 3 years.
College doesn’t PAY you to go, do they? No.
College doesn’t even GUARANTEE you a JOB when you’re done, does it? No.
So seriously… if you can’t mentally commit to 3 years of blogging, you really need to rethink this whole blogging idea.
I say that with all the love in my heart AND from a very strong “been there, done that” position, ok?
Ok, all that being said, let me step down from my soapbox and move on…
sidenote: before I move on, I’ll answer a very common question I get:
“What if I sign up for 3 years of blog hosting and after 6 months, I decided I don’t want to blog anymore?”
This answer will vary from blog hosting company to hosting company, so be sure to ASK if this is a question on your mind.
Some hosting companies will not offer any refunds at all – some might “pro-rate” the amount of time you didn’t use and refund you that amount.
It all depends on the hosting company so ask them – that way, YOU are clear on your options before signing up.
Now then, let’s move on….
What is “cPanel”?
If you’re planning to blog, or start a blog, with your new domain name, you’ll absolutely want your blog hosting package to offer a thing called a “cPanel”.
In short, a cPanel is your hosting’s Control Panel.
Cpanel = Control Panel, got it? =)
Your cpanel will look VERY overwhelming to you at first, but there are very few things you’ll probably EVER need to use inside it.
What Does a Cpanel DO?
Look at your cell phone… now push the button to get to your phone’s home screen. See all those apps and shortcuts?
That is pretty much how a cPanel on your blog hosting account works.
It is a “panel” of shortcuts to all the things you can do on your “server” (ie, YOUR web hosting package).
There is a lot of “stuff” going on inside your cpanel with lots of things you can do, but odds are good that you will never use 90% or more of any of those options.
What You WILL Use In Cpanel for Your Blog
For a new blogger, there are really only 3 – maybe 4 – things you will use inside your cpanel – and once you use those things, odds are really good that you won’t need to access your cpanel again.
1. One Click Installer:
Depending on your blog hosting company, you might see options like “QuickInstall” or “Fantastico” or “Softaculous Apps Installer”. While those options might look intimidating, they each provide a very VERY useful option for you.
Those tools allow you to do something called a “One Click Install” and the majority of bloggers use it to install something called “WordPress” onto their new domain – I’ll talk about WordPress in a moment.
2. Email Accounts:
To make email address that come from your blog – for example, if your blog domain name is WidgetsByBob.com, from the “email accounts” button inside your cpanel, you can make an email address like Bob@WidgetsByBob.com or support@WidgetsByBob.com etc.
If your blog hosting package offers “unlimited email addresses”, that means you can make all the custom email addresses that you want to. It’s super easy to do, too so don’t freak out about it.
3. Email Forwarding:
Wayyyyyyy back in the “Old Days” when I was a teenager, I couldn’t STAND the thought of missing a phone call (it could be a call from a cute boy in class – and what teenage girl in her right mind wants to miss THAT call, right?)
So, if I went to a friend’s house, I would set my phone number to “forward” to my friend’s phone number so my calls would ring to her phone while I was away from home. Meaning: I NEVER missed a call from a cute boy =)
Since every teen in the world seems to have a cell phone attached to them 24/7 these days, phone number forwarding isn’t very common anymore. But there are times a business will have their business phone number forward to their cell phone while they are out of office so they don’t miss a call.
Email “forwarding” works pretty much the same as phone number forwarding works.
If, using that same example for WidgetsByBob.com, let’s say Bob wants all the mail that goes to Bob@WidgetsByBob.com to go to his Bob@gmail.com Gmail inbox, Bob would use the email forwarders option inside his cpanel to set that up.
This is EXTREMELY easy to do.
After you make your new custom domain email address, you just click “Forwarders” inside your cpanel.
Then tell your Cpanel what email to forward where.
Then click “save” and you’re done.
Now, all your domain email will go to your normal everyday inbox. Very handy.
4. Addon Domains:
Remember talking about the “unlimited domains” option some hosting packages offer?
When you’re ready to add another blog to your hosting package, you would choose the “AddOn Domains” option inside your Cpanel.
Those 4 things are things inside your cpanel that you will use (with the AddOn Domains option being one that you will NOT use for your first blog/website).
Cpanel makes doing those 4 things pretty-much “dummy-proof” – you want cpanel.
Most good hosting companies offer cpanel these days so it’s rarely mentioned anymore in a blog hosting package features list – it’s pretty much assumed that you’ll have it.
But if in doubt, ask the hosting company if they offer cpanel access with the package you are considering AND if you’ll get a “OneClick Installer” option as well.
What Is WordPress?
In short, WordPress is the MAGIC behind your blog – it’s the software that makes everything work.
And it’s EASY to use.
Back in “the day”, website designers had to hand code each and every single page on their site – meaning: you needed to know how to code.
WordPress removes that barrier of needing to know code and makes it simple for ANYONE to have and run their own blog in the easiest way possible.
In a way, WordPress is to your blog as your operating system is to your cell phone.
If you have an iphone, as an example, you have the ios operating system that makes your phone work – that makes you able to install and use apps, that allows you to customize how your phone screen and set up LOOKS, that allows you to save phone numbers and send text messages, and ALL that cool stuff you can do on your phone.
When you use a One Click Installer to install WordPress on your domain name, you are basically installing an “operating system” on your website that will make it SUPER easy to write and publish blog posts, easily change the way your blog looks, and install other blog “apps” that allow your blog to do more things (these “apps” are called WordPress Plugins).
Once you “one click” install WordPress, you are pretty much set to start blogging immediately – it’s that magical.
If you can type and send an email, you can publish a blog post on WordPress.
The “Add New Post” screen works pretty much just like your screen to write an email works.
With email, when you’re done typing the email, you click “send”, right?
Well, with WordPress, when you’re done typing your blog post, you just click “publish” and WordPress handles everything for you… and your blog post is live online for the world to see.
When WordPress is installed, new bloggers do NOT need to know any coding at all in order to blog.
It’s very, very easy to use.
What Are WordPress Themes?
A WordPress theme is the thing that makes your blog look the way it does.
Want your blog to look different? Easy, just pick a different theme!
WordPress offers tons of free “themes” to choose from that you can simply click a button and install on your site.
There are also more fancy themes that you can buy that offer additional options and blog functionality.
If I wasn’t already set and happy with my theme here at PotPieGirl.com, I would probably also use this WordPress theme.
(if you’re curious, this is where I got the theme I’m using on this site)
But you don’t HAVE to pay for a theme – you can use any free theme for as long as you want to.
What Are WordPress Plugins?
WordPress offers things called “plugins”. They have TONS of free plugins and there are tons of paid plugins as well.
Plugins are kinda like apps you install on your phone.
Apps allow your phone to do different things, right?
Plugins do pretty much the same thing for your blog.
Now, you don’t NEED any additional plugins in order to blog, but if you ever want your blog to do something special, you’ll use a plugin.
And installing a plugin on your WordPress blog is a simple “one click” type of thing as well.
I’m telling you, WordPress is super easy to use – and how awesome is it that WordPress is FREE for anyone and everyone to use on their blog!??!
What kinds of things do Plugins do for a WordPress Blog?
There is pretty much at least one plugin option for just about ANYTHING you want your blog to do.
For example, let’s say I want an ad to appear in the middle of every post on my blog.
Now, I could open and edit every single post on my blog and put the ad in each post…
OR – I could get a plugin to do it FOR me.
I’d install a plugin that is made to insert something in the middle of every post on my blog, tell it WHAT to insert in the middle of each post, and click save.
As if by magic, the plugin would then instantly update EVERY post on my blog with that ad in the middle.
Plugins are very handy to make bigger tasks easier…and to help you accomplish things for your blog that would normally require you to know website coding.
You do NOT need to do anything with themes and plugins to start blogging with WordPress, but those options are there and easy to use when/if you’re ready to use them.
When comparing a blog to your cell phone…
Your Domain Name is like your cell phone number.
Blog Hosting is like your service provider (AT&T, Verizon, etc)
Your Blog Hosting Package is like your data plan for your cell phone.
Shared Hosting is like a cell phone tower where multiple blogs share the resources of that one tower.
Bandwidth is how much traffic, or website “hits” your blog can have each month.
Disk Space is how much stuff you can save on your blog (just like the memory limits on your cell phone).
Unlimited Domains (or unlimited websites) is just like your option to add more phones to your cell phone service providers data plan – you can add unlimited new sites BUT they all SHARE the resources available.
Your Cpanel is your hosting package’s Control Panel – like your home screen on your phone with quick links to things you can do with your phone.
WordPress is like your phone’s operating system – what makes it WORK.
Themes and Plugins are like apps for your phone that allow your blog to do different things and look different.
Now that wasn’t so terrible, was it?
Starting a Blog in 3 Quick Steps
Congrats! You are no longer a “clueless” wanna-be blogger!
You now know AND understand how all the blogging pieces fit together and what all those crazy terms MEAN.
So here’s your “Quick Steps” to starting a blog.
1. Get a Blog Domain Name
First you need to come up with a unique domain name that no one else is using or owns.
This could take a minute, but don’t let the “think of a blog name” part stop you and paralyze you from moving forward.
To help you with ideas…
If you want to blog about food and recipes and your name is Sue, you could pick a domain name like SueCooks.com or RecipesBySue.com or CookingWithSue.com
Same concept if you want to blog about fashion or travel or crafts or even be a beauty blogger… try and get what your blog is about in your domain name…
Things like that.
Now, if you don’t KNOW exactly what you want to blog about yet, that’s fine too.
If your name isn’t very common, you could get your name as your domain name.
As an example, if your name is Sue Witherspooner, you could pick a domain like SueWitherspooner.com – but if your name is Sue Smith, odds are good that domain name is already used because Sue Smith is a common name.
If you don’t want to use your name, you could pick something like JustaMomInGeorgia.com
Don’t overthink this part, ok?
No, you can NOT easily change your domain name later (you’d have to buy a new domain and move your site to the new domain – which, while totally do-able, it can be a pain).
I just don’t want you to get stuck in the “choosing a name” part and never move forward and actually START blogging.
You can use this little tool below to help you find a domain name that isn’t already taken.
Their hosting packages are great for new bloggers and offers everything you need to not only start blogging, but also to grow your blog (you can check their prices here).
IMPORTANT! Do NOT use a trademarked term in your domain name.
For example, if you want to review Amazon products on your blog, do NOT name your site something like AmazonProductReviews.com or anything with the trademarked word “Amazon” in it.
Don’t use any other business name or product name or company name in YOUR domain name – unless you LIKE being sued and dealing with lawyers… ha!
In all seriousness – just don’t do it, ok? It won’t work well for you at all.
If you get your hosting through this company during this step, go to Step 3 after you’re signed up.
2. Get Blog Hosting
As I mentioned earlier, I use this blog hosting company – and I LOVE them.
But, their packages and features just might be a bit of “overkill” for a new blogger and the LAST thing I want is for you to feel even more overwhelmed at this new “start your blog” phase.
That said, I have used and tested a LOT of hosting companies and reviewed the packages they offer.
Here are 2 very popular blog hosting companies that I recommend.
I, personally, would NOT get anything LESS than their “Grow Big” plan – and if I bought that blog hosting plan, I would sign up for the longest amount of time as possible so I pay the cheapest rate they offer for a long time.
But, that company would not be my first choice simple for 2 reasons:
– Their renewal rate cost is higher than I think it should be.
– I don’t feel they offer bloggers enough resources to truly grow without having to upgrade their hosting package to get MORE resources for their thriving blog.
They’re still a very good hosting company – but again, to get the best “bang for your buck” with them, sign up for the longest amount of time they will allow.
It will most likely take you a good amount of time to “out-grow” the resources they offer and they make it very easy to upgrade to get more resources if you should need them.
Just to note: I use this blog hosting company for ONE of my blogs so I can test it out to be SURE it’s good for new bloggers.
All my other sites, including this PotPieGirl.com blog, are hosted here.
I can no longer use a “shared hosting” package – I have to have something called a VPS (Virtual Private Server). Don’t worry about what all that means right now – I just wanted to be totally transparent and tell you the hosting I would choose for NEW bloggers.
Why would I choose that blog hosting company?
First off, even their cheapest blog hosting account offers WAY more resources than most other companies.
They also offer “unmetered” bandwidth on all packages and unmetered disk space for their Plus and Prime packages.
While that “unmetered” thing is not necessarily a selling point for me, it does make me feel as if they will be more flexible with me than a hosting company with hard set limits would be.
Meaning: if, for example, I have a pin go viral on Pinterest that sends me higher than normal traffic to my blog for a few days, I feel as if the “unmetered” option will help and the hosting company won’t be as quick to do anything drastic with my site (as in, take my blog offline for using too many resources) and instead, might let me slide for that one time spike of traffic (bandwidth usage) that is NOT the norm for my blog.
Secondly, the current renewal rates with this hosting company are MUCH more reasonable (ie, CHEAPER) and in-line with what I feel like bloggers should spend to renew their hosting packages.
They offer PLENTY of room to grow and no “shock” at renewal time.
Again, sign up for longest amount of time that you can to get the cheapest blog hosting possible.
PLUS… and this is a really nice perk –
3. Install WordPress
Once you have your domain name and your blog hosting all set up, it’s time to install WordPress.
(TIP: depending on your blog hosting company, if you ask them very nicely, they just might install WordPress FOR you if you are too nervous to do it yourself) – but this blog hosting company does it FOR you right away without asking.
But you can totally do this yourself – Installing WordPress is easy-peasy!
Your hosting company will give you a link for your cPanel (your hosting Control Panel), from there, you should see an option to install WordPress.
Depending on your hosting company, the button inside your cpanel may clearly say “WordPress” or it might say “QuickInstall” or “Fantastico” or “Softaculous”…
they all do the SAME thing – they just have different names – so don’t let this throw you.
Click the installer you have in your cpanel, and from there, you pretty much just click a button and let your CPanel WordPress installer do it.
If you choose the blog hosting company I recommended, it will look something like this:
TIP: Be sure to save your WordPress login details you will be given in a safe place in case you forget and need to have that info again. I email the info to myself AND I write them down for a double-safety precaution.
Why do I email it to myself? For one simple reason – whereever I am, if I can access my email, I can find my blog login info.
Where do I write it down? I’m old school – and after trying TONS of other ways to keep up my ALL the login information for not just my blogs, but ALL my online accounts, I’ve ended up using a simple Rolodex like this one. It works great for me and is next to me on my desk at all times.
Those tips are from my personal list of “blogging lessons I learned the hard way” – and trust me, I’ve learned a LOT about blogging the “hard way” – lol!
Hopefully, this guide will help YOU avoid the “hard way”, but if you get stuck… ASK for help.
If at any time you feel confused or unsure of what to do – ASK your hosting company. Many offer “live chat” so it should only take a moment to get your answer so you can move forward.
Remember: YOU are the customer and YOU are paying for their service. Reach out for their help at any time.
And Now… Guess what?
You’re done and ready to blog!
You just go to your domain name with /wp-admin added to the end and log in with your login info… and write your first post!
(example: if your domain name is CraftsWithSue.com, you will access your blog admin area by going to CraftsWithSue.com/wp-admin )
Congrats! YOU are now a blogger and own your own little piece of the internet!
After you get your domain name and your hosting and WordPress installed and the thrill of the amazing thing you just accomplished wears off, you’ll probably find yourself wondering, “NOW what do I do??”
The Number 1 reason most people have for starting a blog is…
TO MAKE MONEY!
How To Make Money with Your Blog
If you’re interested, I have a free 7-day email blogging course that you are welcome to sign up for.
Each day, I will email you more important things you’ll want – and need – to know about blogging.
– WHY Start a Blog?
– What Do You Blog ABOUT?
– How To Make Money with Your Blog
– How To Get PEOPLE To Your Blog
– How Fast Will YOUR Blog Make Money?
– And much more!
Most likely, these are all things you really want to know now that you have a blog!
If you’re interested, just pop your email address into the form below (or here online).
Can’t see the form?
Ok, that’s a wrap!
That was a LOT to take in, wasn’t it?
Believe it or not, once you start your blog, this will all make perfect sense!
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