Blog, Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, DIY How to Set Up a Self Hosted Blog
Blogging is a growing industry and has become a viable way to earn an income, so it’s important to have your blog set up properly from the start. There are a number of platforms available to those looking to start a blog, however I will always recommend self hosted WordPress as it is highly flexible and allows you to monetize immediately, without any extra costs. Other platforms (eg. Squarespace, Wix) may be easier to set up, however the prices to add monetization features are exorbitant and will eat into your revenue.
This article walks you through the basics of setting up your self hosted blog on WordPress, including domain registration, hosting and installing WordPress. If you have any questions, please get in touch with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck on your blogging journey!
Please note this article contains affiliate links. I only promote services that I truly believe in and use myself, and receive a small commission when you click on the links.
What is a self hosted blog?
There are two types of blogs:
- Hosted blog, such as WordPress.com, Blogger, Squarespace or Tumblr. Hosted blogs can be limiting as you do not have control or ownership of your content, so in theory it can be deleted at any time (eg. if for some reason you do not conform to host conditions). In most cases, the hosts charge high fees to add anything above the basic blogging features, such as a custom domain, Adwords or the ability to accept payments.
- The second is a self hosted blog, in which you rent space on a server and host your own content. The benefit of a self-hosted blog is that you have control of the assets (ie. the content), and you have the ability to monetize right from the beginning. It takes only a little while longer to set up a self hosted blog, and the benefits far outweigh the extra time required.
There are a wide range of hosts and platforms available for self hosted blogs, however in this article I will focus on WordPress as it is the largest provider of self hosted blogs in the world and is relatively easy to get started.
What do I need?
There are 3 components required for a self hosted blog, these being:
- Domain name. This is the web address of your blog, eg. yourblog.com. It’s the online equivalent of your street address, and tells your browser where on the internet you want to visit.
- Web hosting involves renting a space on a physical server somewhere in the world (or in the cloud, which is becoming more common) to store your website files including content and images. Using the street address analogy, the web host is the physical house where you store your belongings.
- Content management system (CMS). The CMS is the service you use to post your blog. In this case, we will use WordPress for the reasons mentioned above. Using a CMS means that you can build a website or blog without knowledge of coding.
Purchasing a Domain Name
It can be difficult to choose a domain name as this is often the brand of your blog, and you want it to stand out! My advice is to not stress too much over your domain name as you can always change it in future.
I use Namecheap* to purchase all my domains, and always recommend it to my clients. Namecheap are very well priced and often have sales on less popular domains.
- Head to Namecheap* and search for your preferred domain name. Don’t enter .com in the search box – just the actual domain you want to use. Hit search and you will be presented with a list of similar domains.
- From here, you can either select the one you want and add to cart, or try another, similar search to find a suitable available domain.
- When you get to the cart you will be offered a number of additional services – personally I don’t buy anything at this stage as you can always add it later. Namecheap provides WHOIS Guard for free, which protects your privacy as the domain owner. I highly recommend ensuring that the box is ticked, as this will hide your personal details online.
- Once you’ve checked out, you will be able to access the dashboard to view all the domains you have purchased.
Purchasing a Hosting Plan
After you’ve purchased the domain, you can go ahead and purchase a hosting plan. Whilst there are plenty of options on the market, I highly recommend Siteground* as their service is impeccable, price is low and uptime is almost 100%. Another commonly recommended host is Bluehost* as the hosting fees are cheap, however I personally do not recommend this company as a number of my web designer friends have experienced problems with their Bluehost sites.
The following steps will walk you through purchasing hosting through Siteground.
- Head to Siteground* and check out the plans on offer. For a new blog, I recommend starting with the basic plan called Web Hosting then Start Up. This uses a shared server and allows up to 10,000 visits per month with 10GB web space, which is more than enough for a start up blog. Remember, you can always upgrade as your site grows and the helpful staff at Siteground are there to assist if required.
- Select Get Started, then in Step 2 select “I already have a domain” and enter the domain name you have purchased earlier. If you have an error at this stage you may just need to wait a few more hours for your domain name to be updated across the global servers.
- Head through to the purchase page and complete your purchase. You can opt to pay for 2, 3 or 5 years in advance which gives you an even greater discount, however I usually stick to one year for new bloggers.
Update DNS Servers
Once you’ve completed you hosting purchase, you’ll get access to the Siteground user area. From here, you need to find out the DNS server details so that we can update them back at Namecheap. The DNS server tell the domain name to point to your web host, linking them up so that when you type your web address it will show the images and content on your site.
- In Siteground, head to My Accounts, then click the red button that says “Go To cPanel”. It will ask you if you want to connect securely – select Proceed.
- In cPanel, you will see the name servers displayed in the top left corner. Leave this window open for now.
- In a new window, head back to Namecheap and access the dashboard. Click on Domain List in the left panel and you will see your new domain. On the far right of the screen there is a button Manage. Click through and scroll down until you see the section titled Nameservers.
- The Nameservers section will be automatically set to the default namecheap server addresses. You need to update this with the Siteground details that we found earlier in cPanel. Change the dropdown to Custom DNS, and then copy and paste your nameservers from Siteground to here (there should be 2).
- Click the green tick to save.
That’s it! Now you will need to wait up to 48 hours for the domain servers to replicate, and then you can start building your blog. Unfortunately there is no notification for when the nameservers have been updated, but you won’t be able to complete the next step until it is complete.
Finally we make it to the fun part! You now need to download the WordPress software onto your host, and then you can start designing.
- Log back into Siteground [icon type=”fa-arrow-right” color=”#000000″ size=”16px” style=”plain” link=”” new_window=”true” ] My Accounts [icon type=”fa-arrow-right” color=”#000000″ size=”16px” style=”plain” link=”” new_window=”true” ] cPanel.
- Scroll down to the section Autoinstallers and select the WordPress icon. You will be brought to a new page with details of WordPress – select Install Now.
- In software setup, choose your preferred protocol, either http:// or http://www. depending on how you want your domain name to display. A https:// site will require installation of an SSL certificate and can be done at a later stage if you desire.
- Select your domain name from the dropdown list and leave the field In Directory blank.
- Enter your site name and site description in the respective fields. These are not publicly displayed, so use something that will help you remember. I usually enter my domain as site name, then “Blog” as site description. Leave the box Enable Multisite WPMU unchecked.
- For the admin details, enter a username and password that you will remember. Ensure the admin email is your own email address that you can easily access.
- Under Select Plugins, tick the box Limit Login Attempts. This will lockout a user after entering the password incorrectly 3 times and helps keep your site secure. I like to uncheck the WordPress Starter field, but if you’d like to browse the automatic themes then leave it checked.
- Finally, click Install.
- Once the software has installed, you will see a link to your WordPress admin panel (yoursite.com/wp-admin). Click through and it will take you to an easy set up page where you can begin to select your themes and add site content.
Congratulations! You’ve now finished your self-hosted WordPress installation and are ready to get started building your blog.
If you have any questions on how to set up the site, please contact us at email@example.com and we’ll see how we can help. Alternatively, we offer a WordPress set up service for $199 including a domain and one year hosting, and full blog design from $399. Contact us to find out more.
*Please note this article contains affiliate links. I only promote services that I truly believe in and use myself, and receive a small commission when you click on the links.