***This post may contain affiliate links. I do not recommend products that I have not personally vetted and love myself.***
Are you thinking of starting a blog?
I started Atypical Life 3 months ago and have helped Mrs. Atypical with our other blog coming on 2 years now. Let me walk you through the easy part of how to start a blog.
First we have to understand what is a website or a blog and how does it work. Without this understanding and just blindly following tutorials, you will get set up, but then never be able to fix the inevitable problems that arise in a complicated system.
What is a blog?
A website is simply a named connection (domain name) to another computer that houses the files you are looking at. Every computer is given an IP address, and a DNS or domain name server, correlates a URL address to the IP address. This allows you to type an easy to remember URL into the browser and the internet magically can find the correct computer to connect to.
So the first step of setting up a blog is to get a computer or server to host your website. In theory, you can buy your own server, set it up in your office, connect it to the internet and run it from home. However, this is a difficult task and takes a lot of up front money to setup. It also does not come with customer support.
This is where Bluehost comes in. Bluehost is a web hosting company that hosts websites and blogs. They make the process of a self-hosted blog very, very easy. They provide all of the hardware requirements for you and also provide the base-layer software to run your new website or blog. In the 2 years we have been with Bluehost, we have had less than 1 day of downtime from server issues. Over 99% availability on a website is outstanding.
The best part is if you sign up through this tutorial, you will get a special rate of $2.95 per month for shared hosting.
Reasons to sign up with Bluehost:
- Free domain name with hosting purchase
- 99+% server availability
- Spectacular customer support available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week
- Custom-built servers to create a stable environment for your blog
- Bluehost will grow with you and your blog
- One-press WordPress install
- No contracts, remaining money back anytime if you don’t like it (I’m sure you will like it)
So now that we know we are going to go with Bluehost, what is next?
First, you should think of what you would like your domain name to be. This is very important because this is how people remember your blog and can tell their friends about it. A name like thisisjustanotherboringblog.com is probably not a good one. Think about what you want to write about and brainstorm names that are meaningful. It is worthwhile to spend the time upfront to decide on a good name. You can always change later, but it cost money to buy a new name and time to do additional configuration.
After you have decided on a name, head over to Bluehost and sign up for an account there. They have various levels of accounts with added services for increased costs.
- Shared Hosting – This is a server environment for your website that is shared on a single operating system. This is suitable until you have high traffic.
- VPS Hosting – Virtual Private Server Hosting – This gives you the ability to have your own operating system for your sever. You are given your own virtual server to use and have the ability to configure it to your needs. VPS Hosting is also good for very high traffic or high computing requirements for rendering your blog. You still share a physical server with other users, but you have your own operating system image.
- Dedicated Hosting – This is the ultimate hosting solution, where Bluehost provides you with a dedicated server, which includes it’s own hardware. There are no other users on your server and it is dedicated for your use only. This provides the highest speeds and processing power for extremely high trafficked websites and blogs.
If you are using this tutorial to sign up, you should start with Shared Hosting. Bluehost offers the ability to scale with you and move your plan to VPS Hosting and Dedicated Hosting for you as your blog grows.
Setting up Bluehost Shared Hosting
To start, head over to Bluehost’s homepage and click “get started now”.
Next, you have a choice between the levels of service Bluehost will give to you. We have been very happy with basic plan so far. Because Bluehost allows us to upgrade as our needs grow, it makes sense to start out with the Basic Plan for 3 years and grow from there.
Now you get the chance to choose your domain name. Since you have already thought about your domain name choice, this should be a fast step. Chances are, your preferred domain name is already taken, so be prepared to keep trying different names until you find one you are happy with and that represents what you want to write about.
If you did not decide on a domain name and are pulling your hair out agonizing over this decision, you are in luck. There is an exit-intent pop-up that allows you to skip the domain name for now and move on to registration.
The final step to your Bluehost account is to input your financial details to allow payment for your new hosting environment. $2.95 per month is an awesome deal for hosting, but if you want even further savings, move your cursor off the website again to trigger the exit-intent pop-up and get a further $0.30 in savings and get Site Backup Pro for free.
You have the choice to purchase add-ons at this point and you can purchase what you feel you need. There are privacy add-ons to shield your personal details from the domain name servers and others. The Site Backup Pro for free is an awesome service if still available. It allows you to restore single files to your site without having to restore the entire file system. Inevitably, at some point you will need this service and it will be worth its weight in gold.
Congratulations, you now have a hosting environment!
I just bought Shared Hosting on Bluehost, now what do I do?
At this point, you need to install some software to allow you to run your blog or website. First, though, let’s explore what your new shared hosting really is.
Your shared hosting environment gives you the access to a virtual computer over the internet. You now have access to a computer that resides on the Bluehost servers. Inside the files on the destination computer are:
- files for content
- files for media
- files and scripts to tell the web browser how to display things
- a MySQL database to correlate them all together
- an Email Server
- and many, many more
With all of these files on a computer, you may wonder how it all comes together to be displayed logically for us mere mortals. Sure you can read the code that makes the internet work in theory, but the true beauty of the internet comes out from the graphical display of all of the information.
In order to correlate all of the information together you need a content management system or CMS. There are various content management systems out there to choose from, but the most common for blogging is WordPress.
The vast majority of blogs nowadays run on WordPress software. There are 2 versions of WordPress out there, so be wary when you just hear WordPress. WordPress.com is a one-stop hosting and CMS solution, but because WordPress, the company, owns your website, you never have true freedom of expression. It can also get very, very expensive, and since you are reading here at Atypical Life, I know you do not want expensive. We have already setup hosting with Bluehost, so now we need to get WordPress for our new server.
WordPress.org is the website for the wordpress content management system software. It gets installed on a Linux server/operating system, and gives you a user-friendly interface for editing and building your blog.
Bluehost offers Mojo Marketplace which has a one-click install of WordPress. This makes it almost too easy to get up and running on your new website.
Navigate to “one-click installs” on your Bluehost C-Panel and here you will find WordPress as the first option for installing. Click on WordPress and follow the prompts on through to successfully install WordPress on your website.
WordPress is the first on the list for one-click installs because it is the most popular website content management system.
Tips during the install:
- Since this is a new install, you can overwrite anything that is there (if it’s not a new install make sure that your installation location is not going to overwrite anything important).
- Choose your new domain name to install to. This will install to the file location /public_html/
- Click show advanced options so you can input your preferred username and password. You should probably not use admin, admin.
- Once installation is complete, your new wordpress website will be accessible from your domain name.
- The WordPress admin panel is yourdomain.com/wp-admin, just add “/wp-admin” to the end of your domain name.
Congratulations, you now have a website.
Let the fun begin! Let me know in the comments about your new blog. I look forward to reading your new blog.
Remember, signing up for Bluehost and setting up WordPress is very easy and cheap at $2.95 per month or less, and is the beginning to a long and fulfilling journey of telling your story to the world.