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Even though I've been blogging about personal finance for 4+ years now, the most questions I get around what I do are “how do you make money blogging?” and “I'm thinking about starting a blog, any advice?” So for those of you who want to be masters of your own economy, here's a quick and dirty tutorial for how to start a wordpress blog with HostGator.
I'm recommending HostGator as the hosting service of choice, so the tutorial below is for that system, but set-up is basically the same across any hosting provider you choose to go with.
After having lots of problems with Bluehost, however, I am now exclusively recommending HostGator (for those who want to try out blogging and don't have very big sites, and would like to be budget friendly), BigScoots (my provider for this website) or WPEngine (the cadillac of hosting – they literally do it all for you, but you get what you pay for!).
Since BigScoots and WPEngine are a bit more expensive (especially for those who are looking to experiment or “try out” blogging) I picked HostGator as a lower cost alternative.
Ready to get started? Here's how to start a wordpress blog with HostGator.
How to Start a WordPress Blog with HostGator
Let's just make this simple: You're going to install a WordPress website.
Me (and just about every other person on the planet) LOVES WordPress. It's so stinking simple to use and intuitive and it comes with great plugins so you can create a really powerful, interactive website. People who don't understand WordPress think my site looks really impressive, but really it's just a drag and drop theme/framework that I can move around to my liking, and WordPress makes that all possible.
Really, WordPress is the industry standard for bloggers. I've used other platforms to blog for my business clients and they're hard to manage, understand, and optimize for SEO.
Just trust me, you want WordPress.
Step 1: Buy a domain name and hosting package
If the thought of all the technology involved in running a living, breathing website is what's kept you from starting up your own blog side hustle, let me show you how brainless it can be.
Seriously, don't get tempted into letting a consultant do it for you or paying hundreds of dollars for a designer and a slick site. There are tons of options out there for you, and none of what I'm about to show you is difficult.
Four years ago I knew nothing about how the internet worked (other than being a daily user) And this was back when few tutorials existed or before blogging became as common as it is today. So trust me! If I can do it, you can do it.
Also- for those of you who want to build a side hustle on the cheap — nothing that was worth building ever came free. Which is why I advise against you setting up a free blog on Tumblr or some other whatnot.
Yes, you can get a WordPress blog for free and even set up the domain name so it looks like you're “self hosted” (That's an industry term), but you won't be able to run ads, will look like an amateur to big name sponsors, and will have less creative control over what the site looks like. TRUST ME.
Become a self hosted blogger (you can even throw that term around at dinner parties and people will think you're cool) by investing in yourself and side hustle and springing for your own domain and hosting.
Wanna know a secret? I actually have several websites and some are with GoDaddy and other smaller competitors, but HostGator is my go-to. (GoDaddy even gave me a bike once).Even though I use a more expensive provider with a dedicated server for L Bee and the Money Tree (because of the traffic) I do use HostGator for some of my other, smaller sites, which is why I think they're a great fit for those who want an easy and affordable option for getting started.
Okay, so get a website with HostGator. Start here. Don't worry, you can cancel at any time!
Step #2 – Select Your Plan
Get the Hatchling Plan (cute!) so you can get the free domain. Also! You should blog for about a year in order to really start seeing some $$$, which is why I recommend people do it as a side hustle or creative endeavor first rather than trying to start a “blog as a business.”
2a.) Type in the domain name you decided on in step #1. Try to get a domain name as close to your blog name as possible.
2b.) Enter in your info and select your hosting plans
I love every aspect of being a blogger, so I encourage you to get at least the one year plan.
Blogging isn't a “get rich quick” scheme, but if you put in the time and effort, you can create something that will make you great money on the side for YEARS. I've made close to $50,000 from my blog (or an average of $1,000 per month) for little work each week, doing something I really love and enjoy.
But of course, the more months you buy the cheaper it gets, so keep that in mind too! If you go to HostGator by clicking my affiliate link here, you’ll receive an extra 20% off! Score!
I also recommend investing in HostGator's Domain Privacy Protection. It will make sure that your information as the domain owner isn't shared with others.
Step #3 – Start a WordPress Blog with HostGator by Installing WP
- When you completed your purchase, you should have received an email from HostGator with your cPanel username and password. cPanel is the portal you’ll use to manage your web hosting. The cPanel link is unique to you, so be sure to bookmark it for future reference.Log into cPanel and click on the Quick Install icon.
See it? Click on it.
Then this screen comes up and you should click on “WordPress” (labelled as 1 in the pic) and then “Install WordPress” (2)
- Enter in your information such as “Username” and “Password” and be SURE to write this down as this is how you will log in to your website.
- You'll receive a log in link in a separate email. Save that info as well.
Step #4 – Fill this form out:
1. The Base Domain for your installation.
2. The sub directory you would like the site to load from, if desired. You can totally leave this blank, but maybe you want your WordPress URL to be mydomain.com/site instead of just mydomain.com. In that case, your site will always display this extension (if you enter one).
3. For Admin Email, enter an email address where you want the admin password emailed to. Make sure this is a working email address!
4. For Blog Title, enter the name of the website. This is what will appear in the header as the name of your site.
5. For Admin Username, enter your preferred user name.
6. Your first name.
7. Your last name.
8. Hit the “Install” WordPress Button
A progress bar at the top of the page will let you know when installation is complete. Once complete, you will be able to start working on your WordPress site. Check your email for your WordPress username and password as well as a link to your WordPress dashboard.
Step #5 – Install a Theme
You can either pick a free WordPress theme (just hit the “themes” button in your wordpress dashboard) or buy your own and customize it. I like Creative Market and Bluchic. You'll purchase a theme and they'll give you a zip file. You can easily upload the zip file in the “Themes” tab of the dashboard as well.
The only way to learn WordPress if you're a novice is to get around and play in it and with the customizations. It will seem a bit foreign at first, but WordPress is very user-friendly and the most time you spend with it – the easier it will get.
Soon you'll be up and blogging in no time!