With over 57 million people in the U.S. reading blogs each day, blogging has become an important if not necessary way for authors to communicate with readers.
As with books, most blog readers try to avoid wasting their time on inferior content. One quick indicator of a professional blog is the domain listed in the URL. If the URL contains a generic blogging platform domain (Blogger, Typepad, WordPress, etc.) then most readers will assume that it is less professional then if the blogger has a custom domain. One quick clarification: While WordPress.com is a generic blogging platform for beginning bloggers and others without custom domains, WordPress.org is the developer of the blogging software most commonly used by professional bloggers on their sites with custom domains–and I will provide instructions to download and use that software later in this post.
That said, the title of this post is “How to Launch Your Self-Hosted WordPress Blog” so let’s get it done! I recommend printing this blog post so you can see what needs to be done without clicking back and forth between screens and can cross through the words in each step as you complete them.
__ The first step is to purchase your domain (for example PeteNikolai.com) from a domain registration service such as IWantMyName (this is an affiliate link which will pay a commission to me to help cover the costs for this blog). Beware of services that advertise a lot. They tend to charge more to cover those advertising costs, and they will pester you to buy services you don’t need. If you do some research to find a service then pay attention to renewal costs in addition to the price for the initial term. Many companies will offer a low introductory price to make the initial sale but then charge more when you renew because they know that very few people will go to the trouble of transferring to another registrar.
__ After you have purchased your domain, the next step is to sign up for hosting service to rent space where all your blog posts, data, and other files are hosted so that your blog looks the way it should when people visit your domain at any time. I suggest using an inexpensive hosting service such as Webhostingpad which cost me $95 for 5 years ($1.59 per month) when I signed up a couple years ago. The cost you pay will vary based on their current offers and any coupon codes you find online. If you click through the link in this paragraph and sign up for their service then they will pay an affiliate commission to me which helps cover the costs for this blog. Beware of any service costing $3 per month or more (BlueHost, DreamHost, etc.) and any blog that suggests such services. The more expensive hosting service providers do not seem to offer any substantial additional benefits other than higher profits for the owners and higher affiliate commissions for the bloggers who recommend them.
__ Once you have signed up for hosting service, you need to connect your domain with that service. To do so, you change the Domain Name System (DNS) Nameservers for your domain on your domain registrar’s site. Either refer to the confirmation email from your new hosting service or visit your hosting service’s site to find their two Nameserver (DNS) domains (for Webhostingpad they are ns1.webhostingpad.com and ns2.webhostingpad.com). Then go to your registrar’s site and find the page where you can manage, edit, or change the DNS Nameservers for your domain. You can also usually search the registrar site for “change nameservers” or Google “change nameservers ” to find instructions. Make the changes and save them. You will then need to wait for as long as two days for all the internet service providers to update their information so you and others can visit your site and see the content you have posted.
__ In the meantime, go ahead and install WordPress on your hosting service. Find the link to your hosting service’s control panel (cPanel) by either referring to the confirmation email from your new hosting service or by visiting their site and browsing until you find it. On Webhostingpad, click Services > My Services, click Active button, and click cPanel. This will take you to the cPanel dashboard where you manage your domain on your host’s servers.
Optional: If you previously set up hosting for one domain and are adding another domain at this time on the same hosting account then click “Addon Domains” in the Domains section of cPanel, enter the name of the new domain you are adding (without the http://www. prefix), enter your username in the “Subdomain or FTP Username” or you can use the automatic username created for you, enter the strong Password you would like to use, reenter your Password, write down both the Username and Password for future reference, and click Add Domain to add the domain and be taken back to the cPanel dashboard.
Scroll down to the Software/Services section and click Softaculous. Rest your cursor on WordPress so that it shows you the Install button and click Install. Confirm the correct domain is listed in the Choose Domain box, delete any contents from the In Directory box, edit the Site Name box, edit the Site Description box (limit it to a few words), edit the Admin Username, enter a strong Admin Password, write down both the Admin Username and Admin Password for future reference, edit the Admin Email if you want messages sent to your normal email address, and click Install. You should see a message that the software was installed successfully along with the link to your site and the link to your WordPress administrative Dashboard for your site.
__ Now that you have installed WordPress on your domain, you can go the Dashboard to begin to customize it according to your preferences. To do so, right-click on the link that ends with wp-admin and select Open link in new tab. Carefully read the authentication box that pops up and follow the instructions to enter the username and password specified. Then log in using the Admin Username and Admin Password you supplied when you installed WordPress. The first thing you see is the WordPress Dashboard with a variety of options in the toolbar on the left. To see what your site currently looks like just click on your blog’s name in the header. If it still shows a placeholder page from your domain registrar then you will need to wait a day or two until the internet service providers update their information so you and others can visit your site and see the information you have posted. Either way, go back to the Dashboard to click Posts and then click the Edit link below the Welcome post to edit and update the blog post WordPress automatically created in your Posts. Once you save it, you could even create and schedule some other posts…
Congratulations on launching your self-hosted blog! You’re now ready to write and publish posts, but how do you get the word out to actually get those posts read? I walk you through a couple of good next steps in the post on How to Use MailChimp to Email Blog Posts to Subscribers.
Please leave a comment to let me know if anything was confusing or difficult to complete.
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