Have you thought about starting your own blog?
Perhaps you’ve even wondered how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog.
So now what?
There are a lot of different options when it comes to which platform to use for creating a blog or website.
If you’ve done any research, I’m sure you’ve realized that WordPress is the number one choice of serious bloggers (and the way to go).
But how do you start a self-hosted WordPress blog? Good news!
I’m going to give you a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to create your own self-hosted WordPress blog.
And I’m a very visual person, so I made sure to include a lot of helpful screenshots to guide you through the process.
Here’s what we’ll cover on how to start a WordPress blog (click on the links to jump ahead):
4. Installing WordPress, a Theme, and Plugins (also, what WordPress Themes and Plugins are)
Are you ready to become a WordPress blogger? Let’s get started!
So what is WordPress exactly? WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS), which is a platform for managing content to create blogs and websites.
And WordPress is actually the most popular CMS used for any kind of site. Users range from simple blogs to full-blown large scale business websites.
According to WordPress.org’s About page, “It is also the platform of choice for over 34% of all sites across the web.”
There are two versions of WordPress – WordPress.com and WordPress.org. This can get really confusing.
“So what’s the difference?” you ask. If you want the full breakdown, I go into detail about the differences between the two here: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – What’s the Difference and Which One Should You Use?
WordPress.org is generally the top choice of serious bloggers and for good reason. So for the purposes of this post, I’m going to talk about the self-hosted WordPress.org option.
Why you should go the self-hosted WordPress.org route
By now, hopefully, you have a good idea of how WordPress.org differs from WordPress.com. But just to recap, here are a few key differences between them:
- Even though both are free to use, WordPress.com includes hosting whereas you have to pay for your own hosting to use WordPress.org.
- WordPress.com is very limited when it comes to customization and making money from your blog unless you upgrade to the paid plans.
- WordPress.org can be fully customized with countless themes, plugins, e-commerce capability, advertising, and coding (although coding knowledge isn’t necessary).
If you want to blog for fun as a hobby, WordPress.com will do the trick. Or if you just want a simple solution to get your blog or website off the ground and running ASAP, WordPress.com is fine.
But if you want more tools, flexibility, and customization options, a self-hosted WordPress.org site is the way to go.
And if you want to make money and treat your blog as an actual business, going the self-hosted WordPress.org route is a must!
You may also like: How to Convert Your WordPress.com Site to a Self-Hosted WordPress.org Site
Choosing a Hosting Provider
With WordPress.org, you’ll need to pay for web hosting with your own hosting provider. This is to host your site and house all your website files.
Web hosting is fairly inexpensive and well worth the minimal investment to be able to use WordPress.org. You gotta spend money to make money, right?
Some of the main things you want to consider when choosing a hosting provider are:
- Documented Uptime
- Site Load Time
- Customer Service
If your site goes down, people aren’t going to bother coming back when it’s live again. You’ll lose out on traffic and sales. You’ll also lose credibility.
And if your site takes too long to load, people may not be patient enough to wait around for it. You’ll miss out on traffic and potential customers.
So as you can see, site uptime and load time are both critical. Customer service is also important. No hosting provider is going to be perfect. You’ll run into issues at some point.
But what it comes down to is this… Will customer service be available to help you? Will they be able to fix those issues? And, if so, how quickly will those issues be resolved?
These are just a few of the key features you’ll want to consider when choosing your hosting provider.
- Site Load Time
- Customer Service
SiteGround is also officially recommended by WordPress.org, which is kind of a big deal!
There are many different hosting providers out there. And if you research any of them, you’ll most likely read conflicting reviews of each.
I was originally leaning towards another popular hosting provider. Other bloggers kept recommending this hosting provider. But when I dug down and really looked into them, there were a lot of complaints from their actual users.
I looked at review sites to see feedback from a bunch of their users all in one place. This helped give me an overall picture of peoples’ actual experiences, and it wasn’t great.
But when I researched SiteGround, the users seemed to be really happy with the service. They sang praises for SiteGround, especially the customer service. That was a good sign.
I also like reading comparison articles to stack different providers up against each other. SiteGround beat out other providers in most, if not all, of the comparisons I read. That was the icing on the cake.
SiteGround was the best choice for me. Full disclosure: I’m an affiliate for SiteGround, but that’s because I did extensive research on them before using their hosting for this site.
Don’t just take my word that SiteGround is the best hosting provider option though. Do your own research, and choose the best hosting provider for you.
And if you end up not being happy with the hosting provider you go with, most offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. So there’s that.
Steps for How to Start a Self-Hosted WordPress.org Blog
If you already have a WordPress.com blog that you now want to convert to WordPress.org, read this post instead: How to Convert Your WordPress.com Site to a Self-Hosted WordPress.org Site.
But if you’re starting from scratch and want to get your own self-hosted WordPress.org blog set up, keep reading! Here are the steps to set up a self-hosted WordPress.org blog with SiteGround.
1. Purchase a Domain Name
Some hosting providers will include domain names with their hosting plans. Or they may sell domain names as an add-on to their web hosting.
I originally had my blog with WordPress.com and also purchased my domain name with WordPress.com out of convenience.
But when I converted my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org with my own hosting, I had to also transfer my domain name. This was a bit of a pain.
That’s why I recommend keeping your domain name separate from your hosting (whether that’s with WordPress.com or a different hosting provider).
It may seem easier to keep your domain name and hosting together. But keeping them separate will make things easier down the road.
It will be easier if you ever want to change hosting providers or convert your WordPress.com site to a self-hosted WordPress.org site. That way you won’t have to go through the hassle of moving your domain name too.
Why I chose to use Namecheap for my Domain Name
Other domain registrars charge extra for that service. So I love that Namecheap includes domain privacy protection at no extra charge!
- Unlimited websites
- More storage space
- SuperCacher for accelerated site speed
- Advanced on-demand back-up
- And last but not least, free site transfer since I had to move my existing WordPress.com blog over to WordPress.org.
Once you choose the hosting plan you want by clicking “Get Plan,” you’ll need to enter your domain name. Choose the option for “I already have a Domain” and enter your domain name. Then click “Proceed.”
You’ll now be taken to the final step where you’ll “Review & Complete” your order. You’ll need to choose the period of time for your hosting plan.
You’ll have the option of a 12-month, 24-month, or 36-month term. There’s also a 1-month option, but it has an additional set-up fee, whereas the other terms don’t have a set-up fee.
Be aware that the discounted promo price is only applicable for the first invoice. Once your initial term is over, the regular renewal prices will apply. So the longer term you purchase upfront, the more money you’ll end up saving.
If everything looks good, click “Pay Now” and then enter your payment info. You’ve now officially purchased a hosting plan with SiteGround and are almost ready to set up your site with WordPress.
3. Point your Domain Name to SiteGround
Before your WordPress site will work, you’ll need to point your domain name from Namecheap to SiteGround. Don’t worry though, it’s easier than you think.
10 Steps for How To Point Your Domain Name from Namecheap to SiteGround:
1. Login to your SiteGround account.
2. You’ll need to find your nameservers. There are a few different ways you can find them, but this is the easiest: Go to Website, click on the 3 dots to the right of your domain name, then click on “Server Details.”
A pop-up window will appear with two nameservers that should look something like this:
3. You’ll need to copy those two nameservers as you’ll have to enter them in Namecheap in the next steps.
4. Login to your Namecheap account.
5. From the Dashboard, you should see your domain name with a “Manage” button to the right. But if for some reason that’s not the case, click on “Domain List” on the left-hand side.
6. Click on the “Manage” button to the right of your domain name.
7. On the next page for Domains → Details, find the ”Nameservers.”
8. From the dropdown menu to the right, select the “Custom DNS” option.
9. Paste the nameserver values you copied from SiteGround.
10. Then click on the green checkmark to save the changes.
You have now finished setting up your domain name to point to your SiteGround website. Woo hoo! Be aware though that the update may take up to 48 hours to go into effect.
With WordPress.org, you have to install the WordPress application. But luckily, SiteGround makes it easy with automated WordPress installation (yay!).
How to Install WordPress with SiteGround:
1. When you log into your Account’s dashboard for the first time, you’ll see a “Set Up Site” button. Go ahead and click on it. SiteGround’s Website Setup Wizard will help you set up your site. For your first site, SiteGround’s system will automatically suggest the domain name you provided when you ordered your hosting plan and will skip the domain selection step.
2. A new section will appear where you’ll select “Start a New Website.” Then you’ll choose WordPress for the application which will automatically be installed on your new website through the Setup Wizard.
3. Next, enter the login credentials you want to use for WordPress (this is a different login than your SiteGround account). You’ll use these login details to access the back-end of WordPress (your WordPress Admin area) where you can manage and add content to your site. When you’re done entering your login details, click “Continue.”
WordPress has now been installed. Way to go! Now you’ll need to login to your WordPress Admin with the credentials you just created to start setting up and customizing your WordPress blog.
How to login to your WordPress Admin:
There are a few different ways you can access your WordPress Admin area (the back-end of your site):
1. Directly with WordPress (the easier option and my preference)
Go directly to the default login for WordPress at http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin (replace yourdomain.com with your actual domain name).
2. Through SiteGround
To log in to your WordPress site through your SiteGround account, go to Websites > WordPress Kit.
A window will pop-up. Click on “Go” for WordPress Admin. You will then be redirected to your WordPress Admin login area at http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin (yourdomain.com will be replaced with your actual domain name).
What are WordPress Themes?
WordPress uses “Themes,” which are basically templates for the layout and design of websites powered by WordPress. Themes are the starting point for building and customizing your site.
Choosing a Theme
When it comes to choosing a Theme, there are practically endless options. So how do you choose the best Theme for your needs? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Simplicity – You don’t want something that’s too complex for you or your website visitors to navigate.
- Mobile-Responsive – You want a theme that will look good on desktop devices as well as phones and tablets.
- Supported Plugins – Make sure the Theme supports all popular Plugins.
- Customer Support – If you need help, will you be able to get it? How available is customer support to help you?
- Ratings & Reviews – What are other users saying? You want something that other people recommend.
There are free Themes as well as paid Themes. I’m a very frugal person, but I do recommend investing in a high-quality Theme that offers the features and customization options you’ll want for your site.
Using the Divi Theme
I’ve used drag-and-drop website builders before and like being able to customize and design my website myself. But… I’m not a web developer, and my coding skills are very basic.
It’s exactly what I was looking for! Plus, their customer service has been incredibly helpful. I highly recommend the Divi Theme if you want an awesome theme you can easily customize.
To use the Divi Theme, you’ll first need to purchase an Elegant Themes membership. Their membership includes access to the Divi Theme as well as the Bloom and Monarch Plugins.
The annual membership plan is $89/year, but they also offer a lifetime membership for a one-time payment of $249. Purchasing a membership is risk-free because they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
So you can go ahead and give the Divi Theme a try without worrying about wasting money if you end up not liking it. To purchase the Divi Theme, visit the Elegant Themes website and click on “Pricing” in the top right corner.
Choose the option you want (yearly access for $89/year or lifetime access for $249 one-time), and click “Sign Up Today!” to complete your membership registration.
How to Install the Divi Theme with WordPress:
The Divi Theme is not available in the Theme library of WordPress. You have to download the Divi Theme from your Elegant Themes account and then upload the Theme’s file to WordPress.
Trust me, it sounds more complicated than it is. I was intimidated at first myself but was pleasantly surprised when I did it. It’s actually a very easy process.
Plus, if you need any help, the customer service at Elegant Themes is awesome! They’re available 24/7 via chat and are super helpful.
Give it a go on your own though following the steps below, and I think you’ll see just how easy it is:
1. Login to your Elegant Themes account.
2. Go to the Downloads area, and click on “Download the Divi Theme” (there’s also a Plugin version if you’d rather use the Divi Builder with another Theme).
3. The Theme should automatically be downloaded as a .zip file to your computer (do NOT unzip the .zip file as you will upload the .zip file as is to WordPress).
4. Login to your WordPress Admin
5. Go to Appearance > Themes, and click on “Add New.”
6. Click on “Upload Theme.”
7. In the next window, click on “Choose File” and select the Divi.zip file, then click on “Install Now.”
8. Once the Theme has been uploaded to your WordPress Themes, be sure to Activate the Theme by clicking on the “Activate” button for it. You can now Customize the Theme.
9. The Theme Customizer is where you can start setting up some basic details and defaults for your site such as:
• To add a Site Title, Tagline, and Icon, go to General Settings > Site Identity.
• You can choose to display your Blog Posts on your Home Page or have a static Home Page that doesn’t change (my recommendation). To do this, go to Homepage Settings, and under “Your Homepage Displays” choose “A static page.”
• You can also customize your Menus here, but I’m going to show you how to do that along with another way down below in the Menu section.
If you want to use a theme other than Divi, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New. This is where you can search for and see available Themes. Once you find the one you want to use, click on “Install” and then “Activate.”
What are WordPress Plugins?
Plugins are tools you can add-on to expand the functionality and customization of your WordPress site. One of the main advantages of having a self-hosted WordPress.org site is being able to use Plugins. They’ll take your site to the next level!
There are both free and paid Plugin options. Keep in mind though that not all Plugins work with all Themes, nor do all Plugins work with all other Plugins. Make sense?
If you’re having issues with your site, one of your Plugins may not be playing nice with the other Plugins or Theme. Start by deactivating the most recently installed Plugin to see if that solves the problem.
You may also like: 10 Free Essential Plugins to Use for Your WordPress Blog
How to install Plugins with WordPress:
Plugins are super easy to install. Here’s how to install them:
1. Login to your WordPress Admin
2. Go to Plugins > Add New
3. This is where you can search for available Plugins and install them. When you find a Plugin you want to use, click “Install.”
4. Once the Plugin is installed, click “Activate” to be able to use the Plugin. You also have the option to Upload Plugins similar to how you uploaded the Divi Theme.
5 Essential WordPress Plugins to Install:
Here are some basic Plugins you should consider installing for your site:
You can see even more Plugins I use and recommend here: 10 Free Essential Plugins to Use for Your WordPress Blog.
Whenever you’re installing Plugins, make sure they are compatible with your version of WordPress. You may also want to see when they were last updated. If it’s been a year, that could be a red flag.
5. Create Pages, a Site Menu, and Blog Posts
Now that you have a Theme and some essential Plugins installed, you’re ready to start adding content to your WordPress blog! Let’s start with some Pages you should create, and then add a site Menu:
Here are some basic Pages you should start with:
- Home – This is the first page people see when they visit your site.
- About – Be sure to include a page to introduce yourself – who you are, your background, your mission, what you offer and what you can do to help your audience.
- Blog – Make a page to feature your blog posts.
- Contact – Give people a way to get in touch with you.
As a blogger, you’ll also need to add these additional Pages to be transparent with your audience and protect yourself legally:
You’ve poured sweat, blood, and tears into your blog. You want to make sure your original content is protected. This is where a Terms & Conditions Page comes into play.
It informs your site visitors that all of the content on your website belongs to you. It also tells them what they can and cannot do with your original site content.
If you belong to any affiliate programs and receive compensation from your affiliate links, you need to disclose that to your readers.
You’ll also want your Affiliate Disclaimer to remove any of your potential liability that would be associated with your readers purchasing the affiliate products or services you’re recommending.
You may be thinking, “I’m not a lawyer, so where do I get the wording for those Pages?” You can take a look at what other bloggers are using for theirs. This can give you an idea of what to include when you create your own.
Or you can go the easier route by starting with attorney-approved templates and tweaking them as needed to work for your blog.
And if you have any site visitors from the European Union, you’ll also need to be GDPR-compliant. Check out this article about it: What You Need to Know About the GDPR.
How to Create Pages in WordPress:
Pages are simple to start. Here’s how to create them:
1. Go to Pages > Add New.
2. Add a Title for your Page and click “Save Draft.”
3. Start creating! You can either use the Divi Builder or WordPress’s Default Editor to create your Page. I recommend using the Divi Builder though for a visual page creation experience.
4. Be sure to keep clicking on “Save Draft” throughout the Page creation process so you don’t lose any changes.
5. You can add a Featured Image, Excerpt, and more details for your Page in the right-hand column.
6. You can choose to Publish your Page immediately or schedule it to Publish at a later date/time. When you’re done, hit “Publish” to make the Page live.
Keep in mind that you can always add or delete Pages and/or edit your Pages later. So don’t get too hung up on making them perfect right now. You just need to have Pages in place to start creating your site Menu.
Now that you have some basic Pages created, you’ll want to set up your site’s Primary Menu so people can access them. Think of a Menu as a Table of Contents for your blog.
The Menu consists of links that redirect your site visitors to other places (pages, blog posts, etc.) when they’re clicked on. There are a few different ways you can set up your site Menus in WordPress:
Set Up Menu with “Appearance”:
1. Go to Appearance > Menus.
2. From the “Select a menu to edit” dropdown, choose Menu (Primary Menu) and click “Select.”
3. To add the Pages you created to the Menu, click on the Pages dropdown under “Add menu items.” Find and select the Pages you want to add (you can select multiple Pages at the same time), and click “Add to Menu.”
4. The Pages will then show up in the “Menu Structure” column to the right.
5. You can drag and drop the pages to rearrange the order they show.
6. You can even change the label for each Menu item if you want it to say something other than the Page title.
7. And you can also add other items to your Menu, such as Blog Posts, Custom Links, etc. Do this by clicking on the corresponding dropdown option under “Add menu items.”
8. Be sure to click on “Save Menu.”
Set Up Menu with “Theme Customizer”:
1. Go to Appearance > Customize OR go to Divi > Theme Customizer from the WordPress menu on the left side of your WordPress Admin.
2. From the “Theme Customizer” screen, choose Menus.
3. Select the “Menu” option or “Create New Menu” if needed.
4. Make sure the “Primary Menu” option is selected under Menu Locations.
5. To add the Pages you created to the Menu, click on “Add Items,” then find and select the Pages you want to add under the Pages dropdown in the column on the right.
6. The Pages you selected will then show up under the Menu column to the left.
7. You can drag and drop the pages to rearrange the order they show up in.
8. You can even change the label for each Menu item if you want it to say something other than the Page title.
9. And you can also add other items to your Menu, such as Blog Posts, Custom Links, etc. Do this by clicking on the corresponding dropdown option in the right column.
10. Be sure to click on “Publish” to save your Menu and make it live.
You’re ready to start writing blog posts! Yippee! Blog posts are basically articles that you write. This is what blogging is all about and what people will visit your site for.
Most bloggers recommend having at least 5 blog posts published before you launch/start promoting your blog with 5-10 more blog post drafts ready to publish. I agree with this tip.
There are several reasons why you want to have a handful of blog posts already done before you start driving traffic to your blog.
First, it helps give you some credibility so your blog doesn’t look like it’s brand new. Also, you’ll be able to direct your site visitors to other related blog posts to increase views and reduce your site’s bounce rate.
All good things, so start writing! Creating Blog Posts are similar to creating Pages.
How to Create Blog Posts in WordPress:
1. Go to Posts > Add New
2. Add a Title for your Blog Post and click “Save Draft.”
3. Start writing! You can either use the Divi Builder or WordPress’s Default Editor to write your Blog Post. I usually start with the Default Editor and then switch to the Divi Builder to see if there’s anything I need to tweak with the layout.
4. Be sure to keep clicking on “Save Draft” throughout the writing process so you don’t lose any changes.
5. You can add Categories, Tags, a Featured Image, and more for your Blog Post in the right-hand column.
6. You can choose to Publish your Blog Post immediately or schedule it to Publish at a later date/time. When you’re done, hit “Publish” to make the Blog Post live.
That’s it! Your self-hosted WordPress blog is ready to go!
If you’ve stuck with me to the end and set up your own self-hosted WordPress blog, BRAVO! It seems daunting, but the key to success is to START!
So you’re already on your way to being a successful blogger. How exciting is that?!
By now, you should have a general idea of how to use WordPress for your site. There’s a lot to it and a bit of a learning curve. But you’ll figure it out as you go along.
And you can always change things or hit the “Undo” button. So don’t be afraid to explore the features and add content to your site.
Are you a perfectionist like me? My perfectionism can often get in the way of me actually finishing things or even starting things for that matter.
But when I was researching blogging as a business, one particular saying kept coming up and it really resonated with me… Done is better than perfect. I hope that’s a good motivation for you like it was for me!
Write that down. And keep it where you can see it to remind yourself not to get in the way of yourself. Happy blogging!
Thinking about starting your own WordPress Blog or struggling with getting your WordPress Blog setup? Join my Free 7-Day Blog Launch Email Course!