I was having a chat with a friend this past weekend about blogging.
She was curious as to how I got started and who helped me set up my self-hosted WordPress Blog.
I started this website as a passion project. It has always been a DIY project and it still is.
Her curiosity inspired me to write this article, truth is, I should have written it sooner.
Although I have done spin-offs in the past of how you can start your own blog, I’ve never really shared a step – by- step guide.
First, to start a successful blog you require ZERO technical expertise
You don’t need a fancy IT degree to create a simple good looking website. Creating a website has nothing to do with IT / Computer Science.
All you need is to have basic computer skills and knowledge of how to navigate your way around the internet.
This guide is intended to help anyone create their first blog from scratch, with WordPress.
For this step-by-step tutorial we will cover the following:
- Decide on what you want to write about
- Choose your blogging platform
- Find a Host
- Pick a Domain Name
- Install WordPress
- Customize Your Blog
- Create Your First Post!
Disclosure: Because I am a paying customer for the last 3 years, some of the links are referral links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Step 1: Decide on what you want to write about
Blogging is a way of expressing your opinions and a great way to establish yourself an authority within your niche.
Narrow down your topics to a minimum of two and a maximum of five. If you go too wide, too fast chances are you’ll drown.
Individuals have more flexibility when it comes to topic choices for a blog.
Corporate blogs on the other hand, need to stick to topics that are related to the products and services that they offer.
The main purpose of any blog is to be the go-to resource for the niche that you are targeting.
Some of the notable benefits of owning a successful blog are:
- Ability to earn a passive income: There is no barrier to entry when it comes to starting your own blog. If you’re looking to make some extra cash on the side, why not try blogging. Full disclosure it will take time and a lot of hard work before you to start earning passive income.
- You can author your first book: Almost all successful authors these days have an online presence. It’s easier to sell books to people who already know you and have read your material.
- Blogs are used as an “Inbound Marketing Strategy”: Blogs are a great marketing strategy to get more exposure for your brand and business. The more people read your material the more they’re going to trust your judgment on that topic. This trust translates into sales for your business.
Step 2: Choose Your Blogging Platform
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world. Websites such as CNN are powered by WordPress.
There are lots of limitations to using a free service to host your Blog, the main one being you can never really monetize it.
Self- Hosted WordPress blogs are the best way to launch your website.
People are often confused with WordPress because it has two options:
- “Hosted”: This is a free service offered by WordPress.com (not recommended)
- “Self-Hosted”: Not a free service, in the sense that you will have to pay for hosting. Offered by WordPress.org (Strongly recommended)
This entire tutorial will focus on Self Hosted WordPress Blogs.
Step 3: Find A Host
Hosting simply means providing space for your website on a server. This is what will allow people to find you on the internet.
The success of your blog depends on your ability to choose a reliable hosting provider.
Reliable hosting should mainly consist of:
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Money Back Guarantee (added advantage)
- Unlimited Bandwidth/ Storage Capacity (Disk Space) and
- A Site Application builder. (Such as WordPress)
I personally recommend that you use BlueHost.
I have been a paying customer for BlueHost for the last three years and my experience with them has been nothing short of amazing.
Once the page opens, Click the Green Get Started Now Button
Next, Choose Your Plan
Assuming you’ve clicked the green button, you will automatically be redirected to a page where you’ll select a plan.
When it comes to hosting there are two options you can choose from
- Shared Hosting
- Managed WordPress Hosting
If this is your first experience setting up a website, I recommend you go with shared hosting, pick the basic plan below:
Choose the basic plan of $3.95 /month as a start if you’re on a tight budget.
As a newbie blogger, this package will work just fine. Over time as your website gets more traffic you can upgrade to a different plan to cater to your traffic needs.
Step 4: Choose A Domain Name
A domain name is simply a web address. Like e-techafrica.co.ke is my domain name.
Once you select the basic plan shown above you will be directed to a new window requiring you to enter your domain name.
If you’re like me and want your blog to have the .CO.KE domain extension, you will need to register your domain with a local registrar first.
This process will probably take you less than 5 minutes. It will cost you approximately Kshs 1,200 *inclusive of taxes
Once you’ve completed your purchase of your .CO.KE domain you can then proceed to insert it on the next window “I have a domain”
If you don’t mind your blog having a .COM extension them you can simply type in the name of your domain on the “new domain” section.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing your domain name:
- Keep It Simple: Your goal is to make your domain easy to remember and easy to share
- Be creative
- Make it easy to say and spell
Next, Enter Your Account Information
On the next page make sure you use your email address because this is where you Login information will be sent.
Next, Enter Your Package Information
Bluehost will bill you, either one, two or three years at a time.
You will notice that I always skip all the add-ons, they aren’t necessary for now.
Domain protection will be offered by your local registrar so you don’t need to check this box if you’re using a .CO.KE extension.
Note: the Domain Privacy option only shows up if you registered a new domain above. It will not show up if you used a transfer domain.
As you can see above the total amount you will be required to pay for the basic hosting of 12 months is $65.40 equivalent of approximately 6,500 Kenya Shillings.
Note: Bluehost is always having special offers and discounts for new sign ups. Take advantage of them!
Next, Enter Your Payment Information
You will need to use your credit card to complete this transaction.
Next, Check your email for login info
After completing your purchase, check your email. You’ll find a welcome email from Bluehost with your control panel (cpanel) login info. Keep this information for future reference.
Log in to your Bluehost cpanel
Go back to Bluehost and click the login button in the top right corner of your screen. (Alternatively, you can use the link to your cpanel contained in the welcome email you received above.)
Select the hosting tab if it’s not already selected, and enter your login information as shared with you from the welcome email
Step 5: Install WordPress
Before you install WordPress to your website, if your domain has a .CO.KE extension you will need to change the nameservers of your domain to point to Bluehost.
A simple email request to your local registrar will do. Here an example
Kindly change my domain www.example.co.ke to the Bluehost name server information below:
These changes take up to 48 hours to reflect depending on who’s your local registrar. I recommend you call them if it’s not clear.
You can still proceed to install WordPress as you wait for these changes to be reflected on your domain.
Once you log in on your Cpanel dashboard, you will see a menu bar called website. Click “Install WordPress”
Next, Start the WordPress Install
You’ll get a window that looks something like this. Click the Install button to begin the WordPress installation process.
Next, Choose Where To Install WordPress
Choose your domain from the dropdown menu if it’s not already chosen for you.
Leave the directory field blank unless you have a good reason to create a subfolder, which is unlikely if you are just starting.
Next, Enter Your WordPress Information
You’re All Set!
After WordPress has been installed, you should see the “Status: success” indication.
Take note of the information to access your new WordPress site.
This information will also be sent to you via email.
Step 6: Customize Your Blog
Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a self-hosted WordPress site.
But, you’re not quite done yet.
Configure Your Newly Created WordPress Website.
- Go to yourwebsitename.co.ke/wp-admin.
- Type in the username and password you previously entered during the WordPress installation process.
Once logged in in, your WordPress admin menu is available on the left side of the screen. Allowing your cursor to linger over them will open sub menus.
Customize Your Site’s Appearance
If you want your website to have a professional look you will need to invest in a high-quality WordPress theme.
A theme is simply a collection of files that work together to change the design of your website and provides all the front end styling for your website.
Even though WordPress gives you access to free themes on their platform, often times they are boring and generic and they won’t make your website stand out from the crowd. That’s why I recommend investing in a quality premium theme for your website.
If you want to read a detailed list of themes that we think are absolutely amazing, read this:
Do You Want To Learn How To Secure Your Website?
WordPress users have a higher risk of being attacked due to the platform’s popularity. Equipping yourself with the proper knowledge and skills to prevent such attacks is extremely important.
If you want to read a detailed step by step guide of how to secure your website, read this:
Adding New Plugins > (Plugins > Add New)
WordPress Plugins are a great way to add functionality to your website. WordPress gives you access to thousands of plugins that enable you to add extra features to your website.
If you want to read a detailed list of plugins that we think are absolutely essential, read this:
Step 7: Create Your First Post!
Assuming you’ve followed all these steps above, you now have a fully functional blog. The only thing left to do is, add content.
So how do you publish your content on WordPress?
Posts (Posts > Add New)
You have two ways in which you can write your posts: one is the visual editor and the other is HTML editor.
The visual editor is very much similar to most text editors and permits you to add bold / italic effects to your text, change its font, add bulleted lists and numbered lists, align content differently and add hyperlinks.
There is also a distraction free writing mode which gives you a fullscreen version of the editor.
Categories (Post > Categories )
Categories are a means to divide your content.
You can add categories from your Post editor or you can access it under Posts > Categories.
Tags (Post > Tags)
Tags are a tad more specific than categories but that apart they are the same and they aid in helping visitors find your content more easily.
You can edit your profile from the “Edit Your Profile” on your WordPress admin screen on the top right hand corner.
You can describe yourself and add the necessary social media links as well.
To add a profile picture to your WordPress ID, you’ll need to get a Gravatar account. You’ll need an account from WordPress.com with which you can login to your site’s admin panel.
Over To You,
There is always something holding us back from starting something.
We’ve established it’s neither difficult nor expensive to set up your first blog, so what’s your excuse?
Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be launching our “Getting Started With WordPress” post series to help you out.
And apart from that if you need anything else, do let me know in the comments below!
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As always, I would love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment below. Drop me an email at Catherine@e-techafrica.co.ke tell me a little bit about yourself or your business. You can also send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org