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How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide

How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide

Congratulations on taking the first step to making your dream a reality.

It amazes me how often I am asked how to start a blog even when there are so many tutorials out there. This got me to thinking about what my experiences have been using the various hosting companies and the ease of set up process and whether I felt one was any better than another. I have switched hosting companies five times. Yes, five! It was for a number of reasons, either the hosting company was lacking support, my site uptime was sub par, or they just didn’t offer what I needed. I have finally settled on Namecheap and I can finally say that I am so far happy with them. I feel that this is a great hosting company for someone starting out much like yourself and for this reason, I am using Namecheap for this tutorial.

NOTE: Many of the links on this page are affiliate links and will earn Creative Makery a small commission if you signup to the services. This adds no cost to you but helps keep Creative Makery sustainable. It’s also worth noting that almost all resources mentioned on this page are resources that I’m a regular user of.

Contents of what I will be covering:

Part 1: Setting up Domain & Hosting

Part 2: Installing WordPress on your site

Part 3: Installing Genesis & Child Theme

This is going to be simple, I promise! Please take your time…it’s important that you do this in steps otherwise you may miss something very important and become overwhelmed.

Let’s get started!

Part 1: Setting up Domain & Hosting

Choosing the Perfect Name for your site!

Choosing a name is no easy feat. It takes time and patience to find that perfect name that fits and that isn’t already taken. Before you get too settled on a specific name, you’ll want to do 3 things: Google it, and then search to see if the domain is even available. A great place to search is Namecheap. You also want to make sure it is available for social profiles like Pinterest, Instagram, etc. There is nothing like have a great name and then finding out its already in use on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram. Kinda puts a blunder in the keeping consistency for branding your business. So I highly suggest you do your research first. Just Google it!

So what is a domain? A domain is your address on the internet. Much like a mailing address, where you receive mail – a domain is an internet address to your website. You can search domain names right here to see what is already taken and what is available.

Why do I need to google the name? If you want to name your new business but you google the words and several other businesses come up, you’re not only going to be competing for google ranking alongside those people with the same business name, you also may run into trademark issues depending on the nature of the other businesses with the same name. Trust me, you don’t want to get a Cease & Desist letter because your business name is conflicting with someone else. Take time and think of your own unique name!

Once you’ve decided on a name and find that the domain is available, you’ll want to purchase that domain. You can use a service like Namecheap purchase your domain but more than likely you’re going to be ready to get your website started immediately, so it’s best to purchase your domain and hosting at the same time.

Purchase Domain & Hosting

Next, you’ll want to secure that domain. Like I said above, some hosting companies will give you 1 free domain when you sign up for a hosting package, so I recommend doing both domain and hosting together. Namecheap makes this incredibly easy!

What is hosting? We discussed above with your domain being your address – well, you home is sitting on land – that land is like the hosting for your online home. It consists of servers, files, and databases that keep your site visible and on the internet.

The hosting company that I recommend where you get 1 free domain name is Namecheap. This company is great but you can choose whichever one you’d like to work with. Namecheap is the hosting company that I use for Creative Makery. They have a 100% Uptime Guarantee. Free SSL, FREE site backups, WhoisGuard Privacy Protection free – forever! I can’t say enough about this hosting company. The customer service is outstanding!

For the sake of this guide, I’m going to be working with Namecheap because I’ve found that their process is super simple and easy to understand for someone starting out, just like you!

When you purchase hosting, you’re going to be asked which hosting package you’d like to select. I recommend that since we are going to be using WordPress (I’ll discuss this more in Part 2) that we choose a Shared Hosting Package. Any of these packages are extremely reasonable in cost and include the domain in the setup process.

Namecheap shared web hosting offers secure hosting platform with a 100% uptime guarantee meaning should they fail to meet their 100% uptime SLA, they’ll issue account credits. Their updated cPanel is live with the new Website Builder, perfect for building your personal website within minutes. To make sure your site is secure, they offer up to 50 free Positive SSL certificates for your website for one year.

If you are wondering what an SSL certificate is – well, to put it simply, have you ever seen URLs that start with “http:// while other start with “https://”? The extra “s” means your connection to that website is secure and encrypted. Any data you enter is safely shared with that website. The technology that powers that little “s” is called SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer. I highly suggest having an SSL Certificate for you site especially if you are collecting any information for mailing, newsletters, and even more important if you plan on selling anything. Its just always best to be safe than sorry. Namecheap offers this for all of its hosting plans for 1 year free. Another great reason to choose Namecheap for your Domain and Hosting.

Differences in the plans:

Steller – This package is good for 3 domains and 20GB with FREE Backups 2X weekly and is the most basic plan they offer. Steller Plus – With this plan you are able to host unlimited domains within one account, Backup 2X weekly which very important especially as a new site owner, and unmetered SSD-Accelerated Disk Space. Steller Business – This is what I use at Creative Makery. It includes 50 GB Pure SSD. What does that mean? Well, a Solid State Drive (SSD) is disk space. This means you will get ultimate performance and the best possible speeds. This is great for people who need their site to load as fast as possible or have a large database. This plan also includes 6 x Daily + Weekly Backups, Personal Nameservers & Priority Support. It’s like an all in one package and you just can’t beat the price! It is the most reasonable plan that offers 100% uptime guarantee and 30-day Money Back Guarantee AND the customer support is phenomenal!

*All New Hosting plans come with 1 FREE .website Domain registration!*

After you select the package you’d like, you’ll be taken to this screen:

Note: The Free domain is the first selection. Just to be clear, its a .website much like .com. If you want to have .com at the end of your domain name – you are going to have to pay for that! You are looking at approximately $10.98 annually. This amount can vary depending on discounts or promotions at the time of purchase. This is an annual charge – meaning you pay for it 1X annually!

Now, go ahead and choose the option to Purchase a new domain, and then enter the domain name you’d like to use. Enter it like this: creativemakery.com

Once you have done that – you will see this box to the right. Go ahead and press Continue.

On the next step, you can review your order details and apply a coupon if you have one. Use this coupon to get 15% off 12 month Stellar and StellarPlus hosting plans. Note: This coupon can only be used for pre-purchased 1 year hosting plan. If you can’t pay for a full year upfront – don’t worry, with Namecheap you can pay monthly. Just click 1 Month.

Click on Confirm Order to proceed to the checkout:

Once done, choose the payment method for your hosting package. You can choose one of three payment methods – Credit Card, Paypal or Account Funds:

On the next page, you will see the final order listing and you will need to agree to the Terms and Agreements. When ready, click on Pay Now:

A shared hosting account is usually activated instantly, however, in some cases it might take up to an hour.

Once your account is activated, you will receive your Hosting Welcome Email – it will have all your account’s login details, settings, and instructions. (Give this about 15 minutes to receive the email – good time to take a break.)

Congratulations! You have now reserved your domain name, paid for your hosting account.

Now when you receive the Hosting Welcome Email, it’s time to move on to Part 2: Getting WordPress Installed on your site.

For this next step, you are going to need your Hosting Welcome Email.

Your Email will arrive in your inbox from Namecheap Hosting Team with subject heading: “Your hosting details for www.yourwebsite.com”.

The Hosting Welcome Email will look like this:

Welcome to Namecheap HostingHi xxxxx, We’re delighted to confirm that your new Namecheap hosting account has been set up. We’ve put together this email so that you have all your package details in one place. Getting started setting up your website can sometimes be a little daunting, so check out our quick start guide which will help you in 4 easy-to-follow steps. Read Quick Start Guide Hosting package details Hosting plan This will be whatever plan you chose Main domain yourdomain.com Start date Day Month, Year Server hostname Yourserverhostname.web-hosting.com IP address XXX.XX.XXX.XXX You can manage your hosting package in your Namecheap Account Panel. cPanel details cPanel is the control center of your web hosting account. Through cPanel, you can edit email settings, FTP, databases, as well as other features. Access cPanel Yourserverhostname.web-hosting.com (if DNS propagation pending) http://yourwebsite.com/cpanel cPanel username Your Username cPanel password XXXXXXXXXXXX Using cPanel securely cPanel URLs use SSL technology for a secure login. We recommend using SSL wherever possible and also that you change your default cPanel password after the first login for increased security. Upload your site securely with FTP / SFTP When you’re ready to upload your site, we recommend that you use at least an FTP, if not an SFTP connection, which would give you increased security. FTP details Server address Yourserverhostname.web-hosting.com Username Your Username Password XXXXXXXXXXXX FTP mode Passive FTP port 21 SFTP details Server address Yourserverhostname.web-hosting.com Username Your Username Password XXXXXXXXXXXX FTP mode Passive SFTP port Your Port # Uploading your files Site content for your main domain is stored in public html folder in cPanel File Manager. To add site content for your main domain, upload your files to the public html/ folder using FTP or SFTP. If you add further domains (addon domains) to your cPanel, separate folders will be created for them within public html (e.g. public html/addondomain.com). To add content to the website for your addon domain, upload your files by FTP or SFTP to the specifically created folder. Need to Chat? If you have any questions about your new hosting package, or if you’d like to discuss anything else, our Customer Services team would be happy to help 24/7. Chat with a Live Person. Please look out for our next email in a couple of days, which will include some awesome top tips on how to make the most out of your new package. Thanks for choosing Namecheap for your hosting needs. We hope you get off to a flying start. Best regards Team Namecheap 4600 East Washington Street, Suite 305, Phoenix, AZ 85034, USA

 

 

 

 

Namecheap uses Softaculous automatic app installer. This is going to make getting your site up and running much faster!

 

Part 2: Getting WordPress Installed

How to install WordPress using Softaculous

Once you order hosting service, you can start creating your own website. With Softaculous automatic app installer you can install WordPress in a few clicks. Below you can find step-by-step guide covering the process: Using your Hosting Welcome Email you will have all the information you need to log into your cPanel.

Use the CPanel email link from your email to direct you to the CPanel. Then using the Username and Password go ahead and log in. I suggest you copy and paste the password.

1. Log into your cPanel. 2. Navigate to Exclusive for Namecheap customers section > Softaculous Apps Installer menu:

On the homepage, click on the WordPress icon:

Switch to the Install tab to proceed:

On the next page you will need to fill out the details of your WordPress installation.

  • Choose Protocol – If you have an SSL, then chose HTTPS protocol. Example: https://
  • Choose the domain you wish to install WordPress for. (This will already have your domain name listed – select it!.)
  • (Don’t worry about this – it will install WordPress in the correct directory – move on! )In the In Directory field you can specify the root folder for WordPress installation. By default, this field is empty, and it allows installing WordPress on yourdomain.com directly. If you wish to install it to a subfolder, like yourdomain.com/blog, simply type “blog” in this field.
  • (Don’t worry about this – move on) Database Name can be left default.
  • (Don’t worry about this – move on) Table Prefix can also be left default wp_; however, due to security reasons it is better to change it, e.g., to ncwpsite_ .
  • The Site Settings section should be filled out accordingly to your needs, though you can change it anytime later if required. Go ahead and add your Site Name (whatever you chose to name it, a site description, and create a secure password. Be sure to write this down in a safe place! For the admin email. You can change that from admin@yourdomain.com to something like yourfirstname@yourdomain.com or whatever you like. I have mine at shawn@creativemakery.com. It’s much easier to make the changes now than later.

Make sure you set up secure and hard-to guess details in the Admin Account section:

When ready, scroll down and hit Install. In a few moments you will see the message that WordPress has been successfully installed:

You can now go ahead and log into your WordPress Dashboard to start working on your website. Type in the browser: (replace with your site name) www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin

You did it!

Part 3: Installing Genesis Framework & Theme

Now go ahead and log into your WordPress Dashboard. It’s now time to install the Genesis Framework. If you don’t already have Genesis, you can get that here! If you would like to know what the Genesis Framework is, why so many use it and why you should use it read my post and the FAQs from StudioPress – the maker of the Genesis.

Why You Should Be Using the Genesis Framework

Frequently Asked Questions about the StudioPress Themes

Now this is the fun part! You get to pretty up your website. There are many different themes that can be customized to match your own colors and all you’ll have to do is insert your own content. If you’re having trouble picking the theme that might best fit your needs, check out StudioPress while you are picking up the Genesis Framework, your theme will not work without it.

You’re almost there! You’ve got a WordPress site set up and you’re ready to get started! WordPress automatically adds an out of the box theme to your site when you create a new install, so you’ll want to upload your new theme and once you do, it will override what is there.

Once you purchase both the Genesis Framework and your chosen theme, you’re going to download a .zip file to your local computer.

NOTE: Do NOT unzip these files!

Once you’ve downloaded those two files, login to your new WordPress site. Once you’re logged in, you’re going to be on what is known as the WordPress Dashboard. You should see a column on the left hand site that looks similar to this:

You’ll see the APPEARANCE tab on the left and when you hover over that, you’ll see THEMES as your first option. Click on that and this is going to take you to a screen that will show you all the themes currently installed on your site. We now want to upload our own, so we want to hit the ADD NEW button in the top left of the screen and then UPLOAD THEME.

This is important…make sure that you install the Genesis Framework first. You will install the ZIP file that you downloaded. If this file has been unzipped on your local computer, you won’t be able to upload it to WordPress.

Once the Genesis Framework in installed, you’ll be asked if you want to activate Genesis. There is no need to do that since we will actually be using the child theme as our design. Think of Genesis as the car and your theme as the paint job… The Genesis Framework is what drives your site but your theme is what makes it pretty! After you install Genesis, upload the theme that you’ve purchased through StudioPress following the exact same steps you just completed except this time you will hit the activate button.

From there, you can customize the site to your liking! All of the themes on StudioPress can be customized. The themes purchased on StudioPress each come with documentation so that you can get things set up like the demo site. You can also purchase customization packages from the original maker of the theme if you want something more custom and don’t know how to make those changes yourself.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful to you. Again congratulations!