Are you wondering if you need a blog for your solopreneur business? The answer to that depends on your marketing plan. It’s possible to market a business using only methods like social media, advertising, and public relations. But blogging is such a great way to get the word out about your business that I don’t know why you wouldn’t want it in your toolkit.
Blogging allows you to share your message, communicate with prospective customers, and put a voice to your brand. Plus, it’s inexpensive and easy to get started.
So, if you’re ready to start a blog, read on. In this post, I share a step-by-step tutorial on how to start a WordPress blog with SiteGround web hosting. Follow these simple instructions and you’ll be blogging in no time!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using this link. For more information, see my disclosures here.
The 7 basic steps to start a blog
- Research and buy your domain
- Decide on a blogging platform
- Choose a hosting company
- Install WordPress on your new website
- Select and install a WordPress theme
- Enhance your website with plugins
- Next steps
This, of course, is the first step to starting a blog. However, for the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to assume that you already know what you want to blog about. If you have decided yet, then I suggest reading this post about how to find your niche.
Step 1: Research and buy your domain
Choosing your domain name is one of the most important things you will do, so it’s worth spending a little time on.
What is a domain?
A domain is a web address. For example, my domain is SolopreneurDiaries.com.
Decide on your domain name
Try to come up with something short, catchy, and easy to remember for your domain name. If you’ve already named your business, then use that name or a variation. Make sure that your domain is easy to spell and pronounce.
You may have to try different variations to find a domain that’s available. You can check available domains for free at Namecheap.
Once you’ve found an available domain, make sure that it isn’t trademarked by someone else. Also, check the major social media sites to ensure that isn’t anyone’s username. (You’ll want to snap up those usernames for yourself once you settle on your domain name.)
Buy your selected domain name
There are many options for purchasing your domain. You can register your domain through your web host or you can buy it from a third party and then link it to your hosting service. I recommend purchasing your domain from a third party like Namecheap. That way if you ever have an issue with your hosting company, your domain name is not tied up (I learned this the hard way!).
Domains are inexpensive, so I always recommend buying multiple years at once. That way you don’t have to worry about renewing it every year. You can get a .com domain at Namecheap for $10.98 a year, so a five-year contract is only $54.90.
Be sure that WhoIsGuard is checked. It’s free for the first year and keeps your registration information private.
Step 2: Decide on a blogging platform
Unless you want to learn how to code a website from scratch, you are going to need a blogging platform. WordPress, Squarespace, Blogger, Wix, and Weebly are some of the blogging platforms that you may have heard of.
WordPress is the platform that I use and recommend. It is the most popular blogging platform and it offers you the most control and the most flexibility.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
Probably the most confusing thing about WordPress is that there are two versions. You’ll often hear them referred to as WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is a hosted platform, similar to Blogger. This is NOT what you want.
WordPress.org is also referred to as “self-hosted” WordPress. This IS what you want. A self-hosted website is yours. You have complete control over the appearance and content. It is an asset that you own.
When you have a self-hosted blog, you are using the WordPress software as your blogging platform. We’ll take care of installing WordPress on your website in a later step.
Step 3: Choose a hosting company
First, what is hosting?
Your website needs a place to live on the Internet. That’s what hosting is. Your host will provide server space, among other things, for a monthly fee.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to choose a good hosting company. I hear people all the time talking about how slow their websites are or the amount of time their site is down or other problems. When you have a bad host, then you spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about hosting, rather than working on your business.
I recommend SiteGround for new bloggers. I have used them in the past. They are affordable, reliable, and have great customer service.
Some of the features include:
- 99% uptime (that equals peace of mind!)
- Free setup from SiteGround’s support team or free migration if you are moving from another hosting company
- Free SSL certificate included with all accounts
- An excellent, built-in caching system on the GrowBig package and up.
The only caveat to SiteGround is that they do monitor your site very closely for server resource usage. If you exceed their stated limits, they will throttle your account. As a new blogger, this shouldn’t be an issue, but do be aware that you may outgrow SiteGround’s shared hosting plans.
How to start a blog with SiteGround
Click here to create a blog with SiteGround (the link will open in a new tab so that you can follow along as you set up your account).
Choose the best hosting plan for your business
Now it’s time to select your hosting plan. SiteGround has three options:
- The StartUp Plan
- The GrowBig Plan
- The GoGeek Plan
Either the StartUp plan or the GrowBig plan is a great place to start. However, the GrowBig plan has one big advantage – SuperCacher. As I mentioned above, SuperCacher is SiteGround’s exclusive caching system, which will improve how fast your website loads. If you choose the StartUp plan, you will likely want to add a caching plugin to your website at some point.
The GrowBig plan is $5.95 a month. You can lock in that price for 12, 24, or 36 months. If you sign up for the 12-month plan, you will be billed $71.40 up front. 24-months will be $142.80 and 36 months will be $214.20. The best value would be the 36-month plan, as you are locking in the introductory price for the longest period.
If you’re unsure which plan to select, then choose the StartUp plan. It’s easy to upgrade to a higher level later.
Regardless of the plan you choose, SiteGround offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Enter your account info & choose extra services
After you’ve decided on a plan, it’s time to enter your account and billing information. This is also when you choose any extra services that you want to buy.
If you purchased your domain at Namecheap or another third-party site, then select “I already have a domain.” We’ll talk about how to link up your domain with SiteGround in a moment.
If you would rather buy your domain through SiteGround, then leave “Register a New Domain” selected. In either case, you’ll enter your domain and click Proceed.
SG Site Scanner is an extra service that monitors your website daily for malware. Personally, I always add SG Site Scanner because it gives me peace of mind.
Connect your Namecheap domain to SiteGround
After you complete your hosting plan purchase, SiteGround will send you a confirmation email. That email will contain an important section called “Don’t forget to update your DNS settings!
This is super-easy to do, even if you are not “technical,” so don’t worry.
Log back in to your Namecheap account and follow the instructions on this page [link to knowledgebase article]. Select “Custom DNS” and copy and paste the information from your SiteGround email into the text boxes. Then click the green check mark to save.
It may take 24-48 hours for your domain to point to SiteGround (although it is usually much faster). In the meantime, you can proceed to installing WordPress on your website.
Step 4: Install WordPress on your new website
Now it’s time to install WordPress on your website! SiteGround makes this super-easy with their SiteGround Wizard. I wish this had been available when I started my first blog in 2008!
To get started, log in to your Customer Area. You’ll see a pop-up asking if you want to start a new website. Select that and click on the WordPress button.
Enter your WordPress login information. This will be how you log in to WordPress after it is installed.
Once you’ve entered your login details, click Confirm.
It will ask if you want to add any enhancements to your account. You can skip this and just click Complete Setup.
That’s it! You’ve installed WordPress on your website. If you have any trouble at all, contact SiteGround’s live support. They will be happy to help you.
Set up your SSL certificate
SSL allows you to secure your website so that information sent through forms, such as logins, credit card numbers, and email signups, is encrypted. SSL is pretty much required these days and, even if you think you won’t need it, it’s better to set it up now. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble down the road.
Fortunately, SiteGround offers free Wildcard SSL certificates, so you can do this easily and at no extra cost.
If you’re tech-savvy, you can set this up yourself via Control Panel. However, I suggest asking SiteGround live support to do it for you. That way you will be sure that everything is set up correctly.
Step 5: Select and install your WordPress theme
Yay! This is the fun stuff. 🙂
Your WordPress theme is what determines the design of your blog.
Here are three things to consider when choosing a theme:
- Make sure that the look and feel is consistent with your brand. Is your brand fun and flirty or corporate and minimal? You would likely choose different themes for each of these styles.
- You also want quality coding and good support. Many free themes are not updated, which can open your website up to hackers.
- Lastly, a mobile responsive theme is a must! The majority of website traffic is now coming through mobile devices. A mobile responsive theme adjusts so that it looks good on desktops, tablets, and phones.
I use the StudioPress Genesis Framework on all my websites. Genesis is a theme framework, which means it’s the foundation that your theme sits on. The code is clean, it can be customized easily with child themes, and there is a ton of support available. Genesis is a one-time purchase; then you can add any child theme on top of it.
StudioPress, of course, also offers lots of child themes for Genesis.
To install your theme, first, you need to go into your WordPress dashboard. Go to http://yourwebsiteURL/wp-admin. Enter the login information that you just set up when installing WordPress on your website.
Next, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New in WordPress to install and activate your theme.
Step 6: Enhance your website with plugins
Plugins are the WordPress secret sauce. They make it super-easy to customize your website for your business needs, without getting into coding.
To add plugins, start at your WordPress dashboard. Then, go to Plugins > Add new. Use the search box and when you’ve found your desired plugin, click Install Now.
These are the basic plugins that I recommend you start with.
Akismet – helps prevent spam comments.
Contact Form 7 – allows you to create simple, flexible contact forms.
UpdraftPlus – automatically backs up your website on a pre-determined schedule. It’s absolutely essential that you have a system in place to create backups.
Yoast SEO – helps you optimize your posts for search engines so that people can find you through Google, Bing, etc.
There are a few more things that I recommend.
You permalink settings determine how your URLs will look for each of your posts and pages. Changing the structure is simple and it is SO much easier to do this now before you start adding content.
From your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Settings > Permalinks.
WordPress defaults to “Plain,” but you don’t want this. I recommend using the “Post name” structure. It’s generally the best for SEO and it makes your URLs easier to remember because they will simply be https://yourwebsiteURL/postname.
Set up Google Analytics
As a business owner, it’s essential that you have data about how your website is performing.
First, sign up for a free Google Analytics account.
If you are using the Genesis framework, it’s easy to add the Google Analytics tracking code to your website.
From the Google Analytics dashboard, copy your tracking code: Admin > Tracking info > tracking code.
Then go to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Genesis > Theme settings > Header scripts. Paste in the tracking code that you copied from Google Analytics and click Save settings.
Set up a custom email address
Rather than using a Gmail or other personal email account, it’s more professional if your email is yourname@yourwebiteURL.com. While you can set this up through your SiteGround account and have your email routed into your personal email, this is kind of a pain.
A better alternative is to set up a G Suite for Work account. In addition to using your own URL for your email address, you also get access to all the Google apps, such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Drive etc.
This post explains how to sign up for G Suite and set up Gmail to work with your own domain.
Congratulations! You now have your own self-hosted WordPress blog!
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