When first deciding to start a blog, you are given tons of information on what services you should use to succeed. But I’m a firm believer that you only need to invest in 3 things when you first start blogging: a domain name (URL), blog hosting, and legal pages. Everything else you can get away with for free when you first start.
One of the things you will need to succeed as a blogger is hosting for your blog content.
Before getting into the nitty gritty of how to set up your blog with Bluehost, here are a few details:
Why Should I Pay For Hosting?
If you plan on creating a blog that you can customize to your heart’s content (meaning you control all the content) or if you want to make money from your blog, you will likely need your own hosting.
While it is possible to do some monetization on a free blog, many programs will require you to be self-hosted (meaning you have a paid host like Bluehost).
Hosting just means you are paying a company to store your site for you (all files, your theme (the look of your site), etc).
Free blogs don’t offer a lot of customization and you cannot monetize your blog in some ways (like your free blog host will display ads THEY make money off of).
Do You Already Have a Free Blog?
Some people already have free blogs and may want to switch to a hosted blog to help with monetization (making money off your blog).
Bluehost can do that! While this mama never had to do this step, Bluehost can help you move all your files and data.
Bluehost is a low cost way to get started blogging.
Their service comes with live chat if you have issues (this mama has used this service many times and always had issues resolved without trouble), a free domain name and easy integration with WordPress (the “frontend” of your site that people see, whereas Bluehost is the “backend” that only you see where your blog files are stored).
The biggest bit of advice is to sign up for the full 3-year contract if possible. This will lock in your introductory cost for the longest amount of time.
If you have done your research and also think that Bluehost is the best service to get started, here is how you can get yourself set up.
How To Set Up Your Account
First, head over to Bluehost and click “Get Started Now.”
Select Your Plan
Depending on what you need, you can now select from tiered plans that fit the site(s) you want to create. For many of us, the basic plan is an inexpensive package to get you started.
NOTE: Keep in mind that you will pay for the full term of your service, so a 36 month basic plan will be billed in full upon completion of this process. While this seems daunting, this can lock in the super low rate and then you are set for 3 YEARS!
Choose Your Domain
Now here’s the fun part!
What do you want your domain (URL/web address) to be? Make sure to choose something you are happy with, that’s unique and easy for people to remember.
Also see this post about choosing your Domain name/URL.
There are TONS of websites out there (millions!) so if your first choice is taken, do some rethinking.
Try not to include an underscore or dash (if possible) so punctuation isn’t an issue with users getting to your site. For example, if you like MamaWantsCoffee.com and it’s taken, try something like ThisMamaWantsCoffee.com instead of Mama_Wants_Coffee.com. The shorter the better to remember for your followers!
Also, do everything you can to get a URL ending in .com. Although there is some debate, readers tend to trust a site that is .com as opposed to .net or .me.
If you already have a domain, just type it into the box on the right instead of typing in a new domain. There are a few extra steps (not pictured) to connect your URL to Bluehost (DNS).
Fill Out Your Details And Add-Ons
Now that you have your domain set, enter your account information.
There are some add-ons you can include with your plan. Just do your research to see if you think any of them would fit your needs.
If you want to protect your personal information linked to your site, included the SiteLock Security (if anyone searches for the owner of your site, they will get Bluehost’s contact info, not yours!).
Just know that you can add these services down the road if you want. But, if they are right for you, why not take advantage of it now?
With your account info all set, your plan selected and any add-ons have been chosen, it’s time to pay for your service(s).
Choose A Password
Then, click on “Create your password” to create your login password for Bluehost.
Try to choose a password that is complex enough to provide a good security barrier for your site (include numbers, uppercase, lowercase and maybe punctuation as allowed by Bluehost).
Make sure to write down your password for future reference!
Login And Choose A Theme
Now just log in to Bluehost with the URL and password you created.
You did it!
Now it’s time to choose a WordPress theme (the look of your blog) for your site/blog.
There are many free themes to choose from. But don’t stress too much! You can always change your theme later (just remember to back up your blog before changing your theme just in case it doesn’t merge properly).
See this article about how to choose a great blog theme.
Keep in mind that you can change your theme later (as is covered in this post, along with what to look for and what to avoid), so just pick one and call it a day.
Once you have chosen a theme, you will receive an “All done!” message. Just click “Start Building” to navigate to WordPress to get going!
Set Up WordPress
There are different types of website or blogs. For example, if you wish to have a business site that takes payments, sells products, and advertises, select Business.
For many of us bloggers, you can just select a personal site. Follow the steps to install WordPress.
Read this article to learn more about WordPress settings for your mom blog.
Since you have just started, your site will be live only after you “launch” it.
If someone tries to visit your URL/domain right now, it will only display a “Coming Soon” landing page. So, you can create, build, tinker and create content before you go to your Dashboard and “Launch” your site for everyone to see.
Launch Your Site (eventually)
Once you are done and have launched your site, it will then prompt you to name your site/blog and add a description.
Remember, this information will be viewable by search engines and your followers. However, you can always edit this in your Settings.
Now, you are all set!
You may login to your Bluehost CPanel where you can view your account info, available add-ons, create email addresses (the CPanel link will give you the option to go to your “backend” OR to your email service), chat with Bluehost, and anything else you may need.
However, to access your WordPress “frontend” site, you will go to your admin login URL (look for the URL that ends in “WP-Admin”). This is where you will spend 99% of your time, not needing much from the Bluehost login (yay for us less techy people!).
From WordPress, you will create pages, update the look and feel of your site and, of course, write posts and content!
Setting Up An Email
Setting up an email address (like firstname.lastname@example.org) through Bluehost isn’t terribly intuitive. You can see how to set yours up here.
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