First things first… know that WordPress.org and WordPress.com are not the same.
You’ll want to be using WordPress.org, a self-hosted platform!
(The gold standard for professional bloggers.)
See the chart below!
What is a self-hosted WordPress.org website?
Self-hosted websites are the ones with ultimate flexibility and customization. There are fewer restrictions to the customization you make layout and design, and you can add any functionality using plugins. WordPress.org is an open-source content management system (CMS for short) that offers maximum customization. You can use it to build a business website or a blog. WordPress.org is actually FREE; it’s the hosting/domain you have to purchase.
What is hosting? What’s a domain?
In everyday terms, your blog or website contains your content and you want to move in somewhere online. Your web host website is your Internet landlord. Your domain is just your address (e.g. yourbizname.com). You want to choose a reliable internet host (landlord) to protect your content’s files and keep your website live.
Why go self-hosted?
If you plan to start a blog that eventually generates any income (from ads, affiliate links, your own products/services, or other things), then I highly recommend going the self-hosted route.
Reasons I advise against starting a free blog if you want to monetize your site:
- If you’re on a free blogging platform, then there are limitations. You might not be able to customize your site design as much and may not be taken as seriously by readers and companies (that may want to buy from you, advertise on your website or hire you for a freelancing job).
- You won’t have full control over your website.
You can, however, start a free blog **if you only plan to blog as a hobby.
So if you want to make money from your website like I’ve been doing and making a side income through your e-commerce blog (selling of online goods/services), then you should go self-hosted.
Good web hosts in my opinion…
Ranked from best to “worst” (not actually terrible) web hosts, I’ve tried/used all three in my 8+ years of blogging as a hobbyist and now, currently as an entrepreneur + freelance writer.
- Lyrical Host – They are a UK-based web hosting company of five, and I love them because I like to support small business and web hosting plans can either be paid monthly, quarterly or annually, so you don’t have to commit to an upfront plan of one or more years.
- I like any company that offers non-locked-in contracts – the only reason you’ll need to stay is that you want to stay.
- The customer service and tech support are very personable; they have a wonderful online Facebook community of fellow bloggers (everyone is so kind and helpful to one another), and they put hosting fees towards goodwill initiatives such as planting trees and saving animals. When you host with them, you are supporting good causes as well! My sites have great uptime, security, SEO and speed. Their motto is “Web hosting that’s more you.”
- This site is currently hosted by Lyrical Host.
- Use the code ARIE10 for 10% off!
- Siteground – Next to Lyrical Host, I also really enjoyed using Siteground.
- Pricing is decent, you do have to pay upfront so it can be costly at the time. They are a bigger company, so customer service and technical support don’t feel as personable, but my websites thrived when I used their web hosting. It’s speedy with good uptime, and security.
- Their motto is “Web hosting crafted with care.”
- I liked them quite a bit but LH is my favourite! Go small biz!
- Bluehost – For total beginners, if you need something more budget-friendly, you can try Bluehost.
- Their service isn’t as stellar as the other two, but the hosting price is lower per month, but you do have to pay upfront for at least a year or so for the lowest cost possible (so, yes, there’s that whole locked-in contract thing, no month-to-month payments) so it’s an option.
- Bluehost has mixed reviews but I’ve personally had okay experiences with them.
- HostPapa – I won 3 years of free hosting with them and the price is quite reasonable! I would say the experience with them feels a lot similar to hosting with Bluehost. Not stellar, but not bad either.
- WPEngine – I had one year of free hosting with WPEngine thanks to a promotion that I got through B-School, and I had no issues with it. However, because they’re a bigger company, the service feels impersonal.
What to look for with any hosting plan…
- Free SSL certificate (ensures a “security” certificate for your website)
- Good technical support
- Accessible customer service
- Money-back guarantee within 30 days of purchase
- One-click installer for WordPress.org, or pre-installed (makes life easier!)
- Good reviews when you research it; good reviews are solid social proof!
Regardless of what you choose… Go with your gut and do what’s financially feasible for your monthly or annual budget towards your blog or business.
Before starting your website, here are a few things that you should do first!
- Know what business name or blog name you’re going with.
- Pick a business name or blog name that is catchy, memorable, specific, or self-branded.
- Check if that business name or blog name is available as a domain (web address) and on the social media channels you want to be on. You don’t have to be everywhere online, but you should aim for 1-3 platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) where your audience will likely be hanging out.
Step 01: Buy your hosting package.
Here’s what the Siteground page looks like (as an example):
Regardless of which web host you use, you’ll need to sign up for the hosting plan that works best for you. There’s month-to-month plans and annual upfront plans that allow you to save money. Do what you can!
Setting up everything includes:
- Entering your contact and credit card information online
- Registering your domain (you can get it from Namecheap or from your host)
- Setting up the logistical backend of your hosting account
- Installing WordPress from your web host (Lyricalhost comes with WP pre-installed)
Step 02. Set up your website.
You’ve now purchased your domain name and hosting package and you have gotten access to what’s called the Cpanel (this is your control panel for your web hosting account).
- Simply fill out the few options there, or go to your website.com/wp-admin/ page. It will prompt you to enter both a complicated Admin Username (do not use admin as a username) and Password. I recommend using a Password Generator, and storing your hard password manually in a safe space or using something like the Last Pass web app to remember this password. A complex, safe password will make your website a whole lot more secure against attacks.
- Then click the Install button and your website/blog is created instantly.
- You’ll get the website address for where you log into your website. There, you simply login and then you’re ready to start writing and shaping your very own website or blog! 🙂
- If you have a previous blog, you can import the content. If not, start blogging!
Step 03. Set-up a theme for your blog or website!
There are tons of free themes for WordPress which you can choose from, but if you have a particular vision for your blog, you might want to use a premium theme (which you will have to pay for).
Here are some of my favourite theme designers for your e-commerce needs.
- Shops, courses, and service-based entrepreneurs: Bluchic
- For wedding websites: Moments, Restored316 and Lovely Confetti
- For minimalist business websites: Design by Bloom
Personally, I am using ChicServe by Bluchic and highly recommend it!
How to Install a New Theme
0-Go to your email and download the latest theme (from the download link you received upon your purchase) – you should download the zip file and then the file called “themenamed.zip”
1-Go to Appearance – Themes
2- Click Add New button
3- Click Upload Theme button
4- Click Choose File and select the theme zip file (e.g. Victoria.zip) from your computer to be uploaded
5- Click Install Now button
6- Click Activate link. That’s it! You can now go to your site and see the newly activated theme.
Here’s a quick demo video on how to install a new theme!
And you’re done!
Happy blogging. You’re ready to post!
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