How to Start a Blog. This is not a recipe post (obviously!) but an important one all the same. While I write and share recipes for food & photos of food here on Gal Meets Food, one of the most popular questions I get has NOTHING to do with food.
You guessed it!!…
HOW DO I START A BLOG?
Yep! That’s the question! You might have the same question??
That’s probably why you’re reading this post titled “How to Start a Blog”, right?!!
Um, yeah. Duh.
Sure, blogging seems like something that absolutely everyone does these days and it seems like it should be as easy as the snap of a finger. And, for those using a free blogging platform like Blogger or WordPress.com, it is pretty simple & straightforward.
There are other hosting sites & theme sites, but these are both companies I’ve worked with and trusted myself. Thus, they are the ones I’m sharing with you.
Let’s get into it!
STEP ONE: YOU’RE GOING TO NEED A DOMAIN.
This is usually the toughest part of the process, especially if you’re starting a blog on a whim and haven’t put any kind of thought into what you’re going to be writing or sharing. This is the part that is going to make you ready to ram your head into the desk and possibly leave you in tears: choosing your domain name. When I first started blogging, I took quite a bit of time figuring this out. It’s important after all!! But it can also be FUN!!
You may choose to use your actual name, or you may choose to go with something completely different. Like BettyLouStevens.com. Or, instead, AFashionableGirl.com (both of which are currently available through BlueHost right now by the way… I CHECKED!! hehehe… but they might disappear in the future so don’t hold me to it! 😉
Anyhow…. if you’ve thought of a name for your business or website, then you’ll want to check first to be sure that the domain name is available. When I came up with the name “GalMeetsFood” I immediately had to check to see if it was available…. and….. to my surprise…. IT WAS!! If your name is NOT available…. don’t stress!! Brainstorm. Outline. Do some searching and some Googling to see what is available and what isn’t. Take some notes. And when you’re ready, purchase yourself a domain. The domain names are FREE with BlueHost when you register with them for a hosting account (we’ll get to the hosting soon here!)
Now that you’ve taken care of that it’s time for step two…
STEP TWO: PURCHASE HOSTING.
One main difference between free blogging platforms (like Blogger and WordPress.com) and what is called SELF-hosted WordPress, is that you will have to have hosting. Hosting is where you will quite literally purchase your own little corner of the internet. Free blogging sites allow you to store your content and your photos on their servers. With a self-hosted site, you own the section of the internet that you are publishing on. Meaning that should Blogger or WordPress.com decide one day that they don’t want to be in the blogging business anymore, YOUR content will be safe and not disappear into internet oblivion.
I highly recommend BlueHost for hosting. They are top notch when it comes to security and customer service. I personally have used this company and any time I have any trouble (which is very, very rare), their customer service is on top of it and the issue is fixed in no time! And, like I mentioned before, with BlueHost you also get a free domain when you register for hosting!
When you go to purchase hosting, you’re going to be asked which hosting package you’d like to select. This can seem completely overwhelming because there are so many options and so many different “tools” that are included in a hosting package.
You’ll see a screen like this…
I recommend that you choose the “Most Popular” Package. This is going to get you the most bang for your buck and land you that free domain if you’re just starting out with a self-hosted site. Once you click on the hosting plan of choice, you’re going to be asked to either choose a domain you already own or register a new one.
The screen will look like this:
Remember that fabulous url that you spent so much time thinking about earlier?? This is where you’ll get to snatch it up! Yay!!
But wait… What if you already have a domain but need to transfer it to your hosting provider?
You can absolutely transfer an existing domain to your host! I would definitely recommend having someone help with this if you aren’t familiar with how to do it (most hosting providers have a customer service team that would be willing to walk you through the process). With BlueHost, you’ll want to change your name servers to these:
If the words “name servers” just totally freak you out and make you feel completely lost, don’t worry or stress or quit! Just call someone over at BlueHost! Someone will help you out with this and you CAN do it. I promise! Yay again!!
Okay, so you have a domain and you have hosting.
STEP THREE: INSTALL WORDPRESS ONTO YOUR CHOSEN DOMAIN.
Now that you’ve got your hosting account and you’ve made a selection with your domain, it’s time to launch WordPress!
Many hosting companies offer an easy installation process for WordPress. If you’re using Bluehost, look in your cPanel for the WordPress icon and follow the steps from there. You’ll have WordPress installed in under 5 minutes!
Basic Steps for Installing WordPress in BlueHost:
- Sign into your BlueHost account and go to your cPanel.
- Click on the WordPress icon in your cPanel.
- This will bring you to a page where you can hit “Install”
- After you click “Install” you’ll choose which domain you want to install WordPress to. Just select the url you chose for your blog/ website and you’re all set!
- Next you’ll choose & enter a site name (the name of your blog/ website), an admin username (your name or your blog’s name or whatever you like that you’ll remember easily!), and a password (they might choose this for you at first but you’ll be able to change it later if not!)
- They will set up your site and now you just wait a bit… but don’t worry!! It doesn’t take too long at all!
Once you get notified that your WordPress is all installed, you need to login to your WordPress for the first time!
How do you do this??
Basic Steps for Logging in:
- Once the WordPress Installation is complete, click on the button that says “View Credentials” (I believe they email this link or the actual credentials to you also… just in case you don’t stay on the screen!)
- Click “View” and it should show you the url of your blog/ website, the url for where you go to login, the admin username you chose and your password. Take a screen shot of this page just in case and/ or write down the info on a notepad before you go on. (The url for logging into WordPress for your blog is your blog’s url plus /wp-admin. For example: GalMeetsFood.com’s login is at http://galmeetsfood.com/wp-admin. Does that make sense??)
- Highlight and copy the password. Click on the url for where you go to login. Type in your admin username (hopefully you chose something that’s easy to remember for you like your name or your site’s name, but if not you have those login credentials so it’s all good!). Paste that password you copied (You can change it if you like! I would recommend doing so!)
You are all logged in!! Good job!!
Now, comes the hardest part…. stick with me here… we can do this together.
Okay, just kidding…. this next part is actually SUPER fun! Triple Yay!!!
STEP FOUR: CHOOSE YOUR THEME!
This is where your creativity gets to shine!!
There are a lot of theme providers out there. You can search around Google for sites that sell WordPress themes.
I personally use and recommend the Genesis Framework. And I love it!! This is not what your FINAL theme will look like, but it provides a great framework to start with. You install it first and then pick & install what’s called a “Genesis Child Theme”. My Genesis child theme is called “Foodie Pro” and I purchased it on StudioPress (a site where you can buy the Genesis Framework & child themes to go along with it).
This framework helps make your theme SUPER easy to edit and tweak to match your blog/ business/ personal style. The coding is top notch (which is important for us non-coders!) I’ve found it to be completely customizable and super-versatile. Just pick a theme you LOVE!!
Now let’s talk about how you INSTALL your theme on your WordPress site so you can dive into your blogging!
**Psssssssssstttttt!!! Be sure you read the part below that says, “SUPER IMPORTANT!” Trust me!
STEP FIVE: INSTALL YOUR THEME AND START BLOGGING!
You’re almost there! You’ve got a domain, hosting, a WordPress site set up and you’re ready to get started! WordPress automatically adds a theme to your site when you create a new install, so you’ll want to upload your new theme and override what is there.
Once you purchase a theme… or both the Genesis Framework and any of the Genesis child themes, you’re going to download a .zip file onto your computer. Once you’ve downloaded that, login to your new WordPress site.
Once you’re logged in you’re going to be on what is known as the WordPress Dashboard.
You should see a column on the left hand side that looks similar to this:
See that column on the left up there? That’s your dashboard!
You’ll see the APPEARANCE tab kind of in the middle of the dashboard. Did you find it? When you hover over it, you’ll see something that says THEMES. Click on it!
Here’s what it looks like:
Click on THEMES & this will take you to a new screen. Up at the top click the button that says: “ADD NEW” and then click the button at the top that says “UPLOAD THEME”.
You’ll see a box that looks like this at the top of the page:
You’ll click “CHOOSE FILE” and select the theme you purchased & downloaded to your computer. Find it in your downloads, select it, and then click that “INSTALL NOW” button. Easy, right??!
Okay… IF you decide to use the Genesis Framework & one of its child themes, make sure you install the Genesis Framework FIRST!! (before the Genesis child theme).
See that “CHOOSE FILE” button in the photo above?? You’ll click it and install the ZIP file that you downloaded for the Genesis framework. DO NOT unzip the file! It won’t download and you’ll get an error message. You’ll be asked if you want to activate Genesis once it’s installed. No need to do that because you won’t actually be using this theme. Well, you could I guess, but it’s kind of bare and boring on its own. This is just the framework.
Kind of like a picture frame is important for hanging a picture but the picture itself is the pretty part that everyone looks at! The Genesis Framework is the frame and the Genesis child themes are the picture options…. you pick which one you like best to fit in your frame!
Once you pick the Genesis Child Theme you like best, you’ll need to Install it, just like you did the Framework. Go to Appearance > Themes > Add New > Install Now > Choose File (just like before), select the child theme you purchased and downloaded, and then click “Install Now”. This time you DO want to “Activate” this theme. It will work because you have the framework there! Yay Hooray!!
MAKE IT YOURS!
Finally you get to let your creativity soar!! You’ll learn by poking around and there are likely tutorials on how to customize whatever specific theme you choose, but start by going to the “Customize” tab on your Dashboard (remember the dashboard??). Customize will allow you to change lots of things like your site title, logo, colors, fonts, layout, background, menus, widgets, etc. etc. etc.
There is a TON more to learn but this will help you hit the ground running!
*Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links & I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I have used & highly recommend all of the products listed in this post. They are helpful for starting a blog & I trust the companies represented. Just want to be sure you’re informed! Thanks! ♥ jenna