Looking to start your own blog or website? If you want to embark upon an exciting journey of blogging or digital entrepreneurship with your own business website, you must learn how to make a website/blog. There are many ways to start your own blog or website. If you want to start a professional blog or website, it is important that you have your own self-hosted website to retain full control of your digital property.
In this tutorial, we will learn how to start a blog/website using WordPress as our content management system platform and Hostgator as our web hosting provider. (SpeckyGeek.com is powered by self-hosted WordPress and hosted on reliable web hosting from Hostgator since the beginning of this blog in 2010.)
Start Your Blog/Website in 3 Steps
Creating a blog or website is a fairly simple process. It requires an understanding of the basic concepts, domain name, web hosting and a content management system (WordPress in our case). Here’s the list of the steps involved in creating a website or blog. We have skipped the process of finding the niche and topic for your website.
- Get domain & web hosting from Hostgator
- Install WordPress CMS platform
- Customize your website/blog
Step 1: Register Your Domain Name
A domain name, the URL web address, is the easy to remember name assigned for your website. All computers on the Internet have an Internet Protocol (IP) Address, which is a numeric value (eg 184.108.40.206) that can be used to reach a web server, thus, being able to access a website hosted on that server. IP Address is not easy to memorize. So, unique domain names are used to represent the IP Address related to a particular website. Using domain names such as SpeckyGeek.com, one can easily access the website by memory.
Though you can register a domain name with any registrar irrespective of your web hosting provider, we will stick with Hostgator for both domain and hosting for the ease. Let’s skip to the second step so that we can get both hosting and domain together.
Step 2: Get Web Hosting from Hostgator
For any website or blog, you need to host your website files (script, images, etc) on a web server that others can reach to view your website. I recommend Hostgator, which I have been using for SpeckyGeek.com since its inception.
Go to Hostgator using this exclusive offer link (affiliate link, get maximum discount). If you intend to start just one website with no plan to start another website, choose the Hatchling plan from Hostgator shared web hosting. I recommend you go for the Baby plan, which will allow you to host multiple websites on the same hosting package.
Once you click on the desired hosting plan, you will be taken to the next page for completing the process by registering your domain name and also completing the order process.
For your website, you will have to register a domain name. In the box at the top, find a catchy a domain name for your blog that is still not registered by anyone else. Ideally, your domain name should tell people what to expect on the website. For instance, a blog about food can have terms or keywords that help people understand the topic of the website. When you find a good domain name that’s still available, select it (Hostgator does it automatically for you).
Try to get a .com domain name. If you are going to create a country-specific website, you can register a domain name with your country’s domain such as .in for India.
In the box below, you will have the Domain Privacy Protection enable by default. This feature of Domain Privacy Protection replaces your name and contact information with a forwarding address through another agency, thus hiding your contact details from the world. You can disable this option to save on the cost at the risk of getting occasional spam emails.
Now, select the tenure (Billing Cycle) for your hosting package. Select the maximum tenure that you can easily afford so that you have the maximum benefit of the discount offering. I recommend selecting at least 1 year as your initial billing cycle. Now fill in the rest of information on this order form.
On this page, you will also have the option to get some add-on features such as hacking protection and backup option. You can safely uncheck these options to keep your cost low. If the cost is not an issue, you can benefit from these features.
At the bottom of the page, you will find a coupon code already filled in the relevant textbox. Leave it as it is to enjoy the discounted pricing. Now, check the privacy & terms checkbox and click on the checkout button to complete the payment & purchase process.
Recommended Step: Create Your Email Address
Now, you have your domain and web hosting ready. Before we create our website, let’s create our own custom email address with the new domain name that we just registered, eg. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Log in to the cPanel dashboard using the login details provided by Hostgator.
- Locate the “Email Accounts” icon and click on it.
- Fill in the desired username (eg. info, contact, connect or your name) and password for email address.
- Click “Create Account”. Your new email account will be shown in the list below.
- You can now set up your email client (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc) to fetch and deliver emails from the newly created email account. In cPanel, you can find the necessary Email Server details in the “Email Accounts” page by clicking on the “More” link against the email address in the list and picking the “Configure Email Client” option.
- Alternatively, you can also forward the email address to your primary email (which can be your Gmail or any email address). Use the “Forwarders” icon in the main cPanel dashboard in the “Emails” section.
- Test your email settings by sending out a test mail.
Step 3: Install WordPress
Now that our domain, web hosting and email is ready for use, it’s time to install the WordPress CMS platform that will be used to create and manage our website content. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform and it is powers a large portion of blogs and websites on the Internet.
Login to your Hostgator hosting control panel (cPanel) using the link provided or type “/cpanel” after your domain address in the web browser and hit the Enter button (PC). (http://yourdomain.com/cpanel)
Now, scroll down in the cPanel to locate the icon which says “Quick Install”, a nifty tool to install WordPress (and many more other CMS platforms) within minutes in a matter of few clicks.
Clicking on the “Quick Install” icon will take to a page where you can choose the software to install.
Clicking on the “WordPress” link in the sidebar or in the main page. You will be directed to another section for adding the details of the “New WordPress Installation”.
Fill in the installation form that appears and follow on-screen directions. Leave the directory option blank to install WordPress on your main domain address.
In a few seconds, your WordPress website will be installed on your Web server. You can find the website login details (username & password) on the success page. You will also have these WordPress user credentials and login URL maild to you on the email address provided.
Step 4: Customize Your Website
Now your website is ready, but it isn’t ready for your audience yet. You need to make some changes to the fresh WordPress installation so that it reflects your business/blog personality. We also want to make it search engine friendly.
Here are some must-do customizations to your new WordPress blog website.
1. Delete dummy content
In a fresh WordPress installation, you have one dummy page, one dummy post and one comment. Use the sidebar menu option in your WordPress dashboard to reach these sections and delete the default entries that serve no purpose other than serving as an example.
2. Add your own tag line
By default, new WordPress installations say “Just another WordPress blog” as the tag line. Go to the WordPress Dashboard -> Settings -> General and change or delete it to suit your new website.
3. Pick a suitable website theme
You can find awesome WordPress themes for your new site for free at http://wordpress.org/themes/. You can also access these themes in your WordPress Dashboard under the “Appearance” menu. Find a good theme. Click on the install button if browsing within your website itself.
If you have downloaded a WordPress theme .zip file, you can install it under the “Appearance” menu. Click on “Themes” and then click on ‘Install Themes’ and upload your theme ZIP file.
Activate the installed theme and use the “Customize”option to make suitable changes to the theme. Many themes are loaded with features to meet your website requirements.
4. Add a website header
Based on the theme that you choose, you can have your own header with your logo & blog name.
5. Set the permalink or URL structure
By default, WordPress shows an ugly looking URL for blog posts. For SEO, it is recommended to use the “Post name” option, or paste the following in the permalink option box “/%post_id%-%postname%.html“.
6. Add WordPress SEO & Sitemap plugin
Install an SEO plugin to your WordPress site. One of the most popular WordPress SEO plugins is WordPress SEO by Yoast. Make changes to the SEO plugin settings as required. Sitemaps are also highly recommended. Wordress SEO plugin by Yoast also has the sitemap functionality that we will use.
7. Add contact form plugin
What good is a website without an easy option for readers to contact you? Add a good contact form plugin such as Ninja Forms. You can also use contact forms to generate customer/client leads.
8. Add must-have basic pages
9. Add navigation menus
In the Appearance section in the WordPress main dashboard age, you will find the Menu link. Create your navigation menus to include links to your website pages, blog post categories, blog post tags, and any other web address. You can create any number of menus and assign them to the navigation locations supported in the theme. You can also add menus in the Sidebar of your blog using the Custom Menu widget.
10. Add posts & pages
In WordPress, you have two types of content — posts and pages.
Posts are regular blog posts that are shown in chronological order by default. You can set categories and also add tags to them. Each time you want to blog, create a new post. You can add images and videos via the Media option.
Pages are more static content. Any content added via Pages does not show in the blog post section. You will have to add links to these pages (in navigation or sidebar or inside the content) in your website. In general, use Pages for content that is to be showed prominently and is more static.