Wondering How to Start A Self-Hosted WordPress Blog? – well, you’ve landed in the right place.
Before starting the Guide, you must first buy a Domain name and Hosting Plan.
If you’re not familiar with the words WordPress, Domain and Hosting then here’s a brief:
Domain name – is the address where you send people to read your blog, it is also called an URL; for example, facebook.com.
Hosting – is where you store your website’s backend data.
WordPress – is the application that runs your blog.
Here is an analogy for you to make it even simpler:
If someone asks you to open a specific word file from a flash drive, which is not your – first, you will need the file name, that is your domain name – second, you will need the storage drive (flash drive), that is your hosting – and lastly you will need an application to open the file, that is WordPress.
Hope you’ve understood.
How to Start A Self-Hosted WordPress Blog in 2019?
Let’s not wait anymore and get your blog up and running.
Here are the 6 steps to Start A Self-Hosted WordPress Blog:
- Buy a domain name and hosting
- Install WordPress
- Install a theme
- Install the required Plugins
- Connect your new blog to Google Search Console
- Publish your first blog post and start blogging
#Step1 – Buy a domain name and hosting
We have already talked about what is a domain and hosting. So, let’s talk about why and where to get them?
FYI, it is possible to use your laptop or desktop to host a website. Just google it you’ll find the answers, but it’s not worth the time.
Even if you manage to set it up there are still going to be many complications, here are the most basic ones:
- – you’ll have to keep your laptop or desktop switched on all the time, 24/7 and 365 days
- – your laptop or desktop won’t be able to handle the heavy load.
- – it will constantly need technical assistance, anything goes wrong your site will go down.
It is a stupid idea to configure a hosting server of our own at home because it will cost you a lot of money and time.
So, the wise thing to do here is buying the hosting space you required, for a monthly fee from a company who will take care of everything for you.
Besides, buying a hosting plan will take away all the unnecessary hassles from you and let you fully focus on your main goal, to grow your blog.
If you’re looking for recommendations then here are the best service providers I know:
To buy Domain Name – Godaddy or Namecheap – compare the price on both and decide for yourself; both are great.
So, go ahead first make the purchases then come back here. If you’re on a tight budget then Hostgator is another good option.
#Step3 – Install WordPress
Now, I would suggest, don’t rush into anything and do whatever you’ve been told, not knowing what you did exactly.
Don’t just follow the steps I share, whatever you’re doing, understand it.
Take your time, take hours. If needed, take the whole day, even the whole week, but don’t just follow the instructions without having any clue about what you’re doing.
Think of it this way, you’re about to get into a new relationship. So, just like any relationship, you need to know it inside and out. That will come in handy in the long run.
I don’t want you to get too technical with it and screw your head up. I just meant that, be aware of the steps and consciously perform the steps. If you’re typing a URL, then just know why you did that, and what will be the effects.
You’ll thank me, if in the future you come across any minor issues or bugs with the blog, you will have a broader scope to troubleshoot the problem yourself, instead of depending on someone else.
Enough said, let’s dive right in…
Note: I am using A2Hosting for the demonstration. But the process is almost the same for any hosting plan from any hosting provider. And most of the times the dashboard also looks similar. So, just follow the steps, you’ll be ok. Still, if you find difficulties, send me an email I will help you out.
Okay great! Let’s get into details.
If you’ve bought your domain and hosting from different companies then first you’ll have to point your domain name to your hosting server.
But, in case you’ve bought the domain and hosting from the same company or got your domain for free with your hosting plan then you can skip this step and move forward.
Connect your domain to your hosting server
To connect your domain with your hosting server, you need to update your domain’s default nameservers with the nameservers provided by your hosting provider.
In my case, I have bought my domain from Godaddy and I’ll be hosting my blog in A2Hosting.
So, I will be updating my domain’s nameservers in Godaddy with the nameservers provided by A2Hosting.
Note: in case you can’t find your host’s nameservers, just contact their support and ask them, I am sure they will help you with the same immediately.
And if you’ve bought your hosting from A2Hosting then just use the nameservers shared below:
Just login to the account from where you’ve bought your domain name and locate the DNS settings of your domain, and update the nameservers.
If you’re on Godaddy, this is how to do it:
Login to your GoDaddy account, go to My Products from the menu, and locate the section that says Domains.
Inside Domains you should see your domain name, just click the DNS button seen against it (Refer to the image)
Now, inside domain settings scroll down to find the Nameservers section. Here, hit the Change button and a drop down will appear, select Custom from the list.
Now two new blank boxes will appear, here you need to enter the nameservers you’ve received from your hosting provider.
In case of A2Hosting, use the above shared nameservers.
Enter one in each box, use the Add Nameserver button seen right-below to add extra boxes (refer to the image).
Once you’ve entered the nameservers correctly, just hit the Save button and you’re done.
Note: in some cases the DNS gets updated right away and in others it might take up to 48 hours to get successfully updated. So have patience.
In the meanwhile, you can still install the wordpress in your hosting plan and connect it to your domain; and once the DNS is successefully updated you can access your blog by typing your URL in the web-browser.
Befoure you could install WordPress, if you’ve registered your hosting plan with a different domain then you will have to create an Addon Domain for the domain where you want to install WordPress.
Create an addon domain
To do that, first login to your hosting account or cPanel, navigate to Addon Domains and create your domain.
If you’re on A2Hosting, then follow the steps below:
Login to your A2Hosting cPanel,
Locate Domains section, find Addon Domains
Enter your domain name and hit the Add Domain button below
In case, if you’re getting any error message, something similar to this – “You cannot park your main domain.” This simply means you’re trying to add the domain that you’ve already registered with your hosting plan while buying the plan.
So, you don’t need to add the domain you can directly start installing WordPress.
How to install WordPress on your Hosting Server?
Just follow the steps carefully and you’ll be good to go:
Step 1: – Log in to your hosting account ( in my case, I will log in to my A2Hosting account). If you’ve bought your plan from Siteground, Bluehost or Hostgator then log in to that.
If you haven’t already bought your hosting plan then here the offer links:
Step 2: – Find the cPanel link and click on the button that says, “cPanel login”.
Step 3: – Locate the “WordPress A2 Optimised” icon inside the dashboard. In case of Sitegroud or any of the other hostings, it will be just “WordPress”. Once you find it click it to go inside.
Step 4: – Inside the next page scroll down, you should see a screen with 2 buttons, something like the screenshot below; Just ignore the My Apps button and click on “Install Now”.
Step 5: – Fill out the form on the next page.
From the drop-down, select your the protocol and domain name.
Note: in case of A2Hosting, the HTTPS protocol gets enabled by default once you’ve registered your hosting plan with the domain name or you added it as an addon domain. But in case of Sitegoround, select it as HTTP and you’ll get the option to enable the HTTPS feature once you’ve installed the WordPress and have installed a Siteground’s in-house plugin “SG Optimiser” in your WP blog.
· Keep the install path/ In Directory space blank.
In Site Settings:
· Give your blog a name; I am sure you have already decided what your blog name would be, but in case you haven’t, just keep whatever you like, you can change it later. Site Description is basically your tag line.
· Create an admin username, set a password and type in the Email ID where you want to receive admin notifications related to your blog.
· Now while choosing your username, don’t just keep “admin” as it is easy for anyone to hack. And you’re also not allowed to use characters like, “-”, “@”, “#”, “$”, “%”, “^”, “&”, “*”, “(”, “)” or the so-called symbols.
Use your creativity and mix it up with some numbers and make it something non-guessable and yet you can easily remember.
Select your preferred language, and once you’re all set, click on the blue button that says, “Install”
…your installation will start now. it will take a few minutes, and if you like you can switch tabs since it requires no supervision.
Finally, “Congratulations, the software was installed successfully”; if you have done everything right so far then you should see this message.
It can vary depending on your hosting provider. And, In case you’re not seeing the success message, then, just start over and make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Okay, now below the success message you’ll see your just installed blog URL and its admin URL. Refer to the screenshot below.
Note: if you’re not using A2Hosting then the admin URL would be something like this: http://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin; A2Hosting adds extra protection by changing your admin URL so that no one can guess the URL and try to hack into your admin dashboard. Although, with the other hosting providers you can install a WP Security plugin to do the same.
You can now log in to your blog’s dashboard by going to the admin URL and using the username and password you set during the installation.
And by clicking the “Return to Overview” link on the same page you can see your currently installed WordPress sites.
Congratulations!! Now you’re ready to customize your blog the way like.
If you had decided to go with Hostgator, then, here’s a guide to Start a WordPress Blog in Hostgator. I published this post when I was just getting started with WordPress.
So, it can be a bit outdated but you can still follow the instructions, the look and feel of the interface might have changed but the whole procedure should still the same.
And in case you’re on Siteground, then here’s a link to a video that should help you out: https://youtu.be/Sm9RcNJVn9c
Next step, Install a theme. let’s start…
#Step4 – Install a theme
You can install a theme in three different ways, by search, by upload, and by FTP.
Here, I have shared the easiest one of all of those three techniques.
You can check out the other techniques here >> 3 ways to Install A Theme in WordPress
How to install a WordPress theme?
When you are just starting up with blogging, chances are high that you won’t go right away for a premium theme. First, you would want to understand the platform, how it works.
So it’s obvious that you will start your blog with a free theme.
The best way to install a free theme is, login to your WP dashboard and go to > Appearance > Themes>
Here you will see the default themes that are already installed. It’s highly likely that you are not going to use any of the defaults; so, first, delete* all the default themes.
Note: you cannot delete the theme that is currently active on your blog; so, first find a new theme and then come back here and delete the default.
Here are the steps to find and install a theme from the WP Dashboard.
Step 1: Once you are on the themes page, click on the Add new button on the top left after the title “Themes”.
You can also click on the big plus sign next to the installed themes.
On the next screen, you will see some themes under the featured section; these are the ones that are promoted by WordPress. On the right to it, you will have the options to filter out the latest themes, the most popular ones, your favorite ones and then the advance filtration option to filter out the themes as per your requirement.
The latest and the popular sections are easy to understand; it simply shows you the latest themes that are added and the most popular ones.
The favorites section simply allows you to see the themes that you have favorited while browsing through themes at wordpress.org.
To take advantage of this feature, you will have to use wordpress.org as you cannot favorite a theme from inside the WP dashboard.
You will first have to create an account at wordpress.org.
Go to >wordpress.org, create a new account, confirm your email id and you are good to go.
Now you can browse through all the themes available at wordpress.org and you can favorite the ones that you like and would want to refer back later, before finalizing the theme for your blog.
Note: You have this feature for plugins as well; The feature works exactly the same for both. So, next time when you read about some plugins or themes that you would want to try out, just make a search in wordpress.org (given it is not a third party plugin or theme) hit the love icon to favorite it and you can always come back to it later.
To see the themes that you have favorited, navigate to Appearance>Themes>Add new>Favorites and type in your user name and click on the button that says “Get Favorites”; it will list down all the themes that you have loved so far.
Next, you have the Feature Filter section; here you have the advanced options to narrow down your choices.
Simply select what type of layout you want, what features you want and select the subject of your blog and click on “Apply Filters”; it will list down all the themes that have those features you have just checked off.
Finally, if you have already researched and decided your theme, then just type in the name of it in the search box to the right side on the filter bar.
Step 2: Navigate to the theme you want to install. When you hover over the theme thumbnail the “Install” and “Preview” buttons will appear.
Click on “Install”
Step 3: Now, once the installation is finished, the “Install” button will turn into “Activate” and the “Preview” button will change to “Live Preview”.
You can activate or have a live preview of your blog from here by clicking the respective buttons or you can go back to the installed themes page and activate the theme from there.
That’s it! now go ahead and customize your blog the way you want.
But before that let’s install the required plugins as well.
#Step5 – Install the required Plugins
Just like themes, there are three ways you can install a WordPress plugin; by search, by upload, and by FTP.
Here, I have shared the easiest one of all of those three techniques – that is from the dashboard, by searching.
You can check out the other techniques here >> 3 ways to Install A Plugin in WordPress
How to Install a Plugin in WordPress?
Step 1: first thing first, login to your WordPress dashboard, if you have not already.
Step 2: Go to > Plugins > Add new
You can either navigate to it from the side menu or from inside the plugins page. It will open up the page where you can see a list of plugins available with WP.
There are more than 50,650 plugins available with WordPress. It’s easy to get lost when there’s a plugin for literally anything you can imagine to do on your blog.
So, just stay focused and stick to what you had planned, search the plugin you were looking for.
If you are not sure which plugin you should use, then, here’s my list of the must-have plugins for any blog.
Go ahead and check out the list and if any of the plugins match your requirement, then, you can surely opt in for the one I have listed, as the list was made after extensive experimentation on more than ten websites. I have only listed the best as per my opinion.
If you like, you can also test all the available plugins for yourself and pick the best ones as per your liking.
Just make sure you don’t do it on your primary domain as you might screw up the whole website if you are not adept with coding or if you’re not from a technical background. So, either buy a secondary domain or create a sub-domain on the main domain and do all your testings on that.
Step 3: Type in the name of the plugin or a keyword related to the plugin in the search box.
It will show the most relevant plugins based on your search terms.
Step 4: Pick the one you want to install and click on the “Install Now” button next to it.
Now it will turn into a blue colored button written as “activate”; which means the plugin is successfully is installed.
Step 5: Now, you can either click on the blue button available here to activate the plugin or you can go back to the installed plugins page and find the plugin you’ve just installed and “activate” it from there.
All set! Now you can start configuring the plugin as you want.
Note: After the installation, the plugin should show up in the side menu of the dashboard. If it is not showing there, check if it is inside any of the other side-menu items – plugins, tools, appearance, media or the settings menu.
Look for a name that is similar to the name of the newly installed plugin. For example, Yoast SEO will show up as just “SEO”, WP Facebook Messenger will show up as only “Facebook Messenger”.
And sometimes, some plugins for custom fonts or some shortcode plugins might not even show up anywhere in the side menu, these usually show up when you add a new post or edit one.
And some plugin might not show up anywhere at all, for example, Hellobar; the plugin is simply used to connect your blog to the Hellobar dashboard outside of your blog.
#Step6 – Connect your Blog to Google Search Console
If you want your blog to be found in Google when people type in some specific keywords in your niche then you’ll need to do SEO.
And in SEO, connecting your blog to the search console is the first step.
Now, if you are a complete beginner then connecting your blog to search console might seem like a daunting task. But trust me, it is not.
Just follow the steps below and you will be ok.
First, go ahead and sign in to Google Search Console with your Gmail account.
You should see a Welcome page once you’ve signed in.
Step 1: – Insert your blog’s URL where it says, “Site URL” and click on ADD PROPERTY
Step 2: – A pop up should appear asking you to verify your ownership of the domain.
Now, it will give you 5 different ways to verify your domain. You need to use just one.
Here we will talk about the easiest one of all, by installing an HTML tag.
Inside the popup only, scroll down to see the alternative methods and Click the first option that says, “HTML tag”.
It will unfold and show you an HTML meta tag which should go in the <head> section of your blog, before the first <body> section.
If you understand what Google is asking you to do here, by all means, go ahead and do the needful. But if you’re not technically strong, then, don’t worry, just follow the instructions below.
So, to make it as simple as possible, we will use an inbuilt feature of the Yoast SEO plugin to verify our domain.
Note: For this option to work you must always have the Yoast SEO plugin installed in your WordPress and never remove the tag. But, in case, in the future, if you decide to try another SEO plugin or don’t want to use any at all, then, verify your domain with any of the other options that are available or use this one only by editing the header file of your blog.
Okay, now, instead of copying the whole meta tag just copy the section found in the content tag without the quotes. Refer to the image below:
Now, login to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to SEO>General>Webmaster Tools>
Here locate “Google verification code“, paste the copied code inside the box against it and save the settings.
Now, go back to Google Search Console and click on verify (make sure you’ve selected HTML tag as the verifying option.)
If you did exactly as instructed, you should now see the congratulations message from Google.
Technically you have now successfully connected your blog to Google search console.
The Google bots would now start crawling your blog and start to index the pages and posts, but the bots don’t know your site that well yet, so to make it easier for them, it is important that you submit a sitemap of your blog to the search console.
Here is how to do this:
Step 1: Go to SEO> General>Features
Scroll down a bit and locate XML Sitemaps; enable it, if it is not by default.
Step 2: Now, make sure the sitemap is working; go to http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml. Replace “yourdomain” with your own domain name.
For Example, here’s mine: https://honingbird.com/sitemap_index.xml
Step 3: Next Log into the dashboard of Google Search Console. Click on Sitemaps on the left sidebar menu.
On the right side of the menu, you will see a tab that says “Add a new sitemap“. And under that, you will see your blog’s link and a blank space after it. Just type in “sitemap_index.xml” here and hit “SUBMIT“. refer to the screenshot below.
Below that section you’ll see a section called “Submitted sitemaps”; here you’ll find the submitted sitemaps and their current status.
That’s it if you have followed all the instructions right then your sitemap is now successfully submitted to Google and the Google bots will start to index your blog soon.
#Step6 – Publish your first Blog Post
Once all of the above requirements are met, it’s time to start blogging.
Clicking a few buttons is very easy, but the hard part is to create content for your blog. If you’re still having trouble figuring out what you’re going to write, I recommend revisiting your interests.
Also, recommend you to read my guide on blogging in India first.
Okay, now if you’re ready and know what you’re going to write, then, let’s not waste any more time and let me show you how to post content on your blog.
How to Write a Blog post in Self-Hosted WordPress?
I will keep short and as simple as possible.
Starting from version 5.0, WordPress has changed the interface of the post and page editor. However, WordPress still has an option to revert back to the old interface, in case we find it hard to get our heads around the new interface.
In its initial release, the interface was not getting along with a few of the important plugins that I use. But it seems to be working fine now; at least for me.
So, I will be showing you how to use the new interface only, since it is going to be the one that will permanently stay after 2020.
Okay, then, go ahead and login to your WordPress Dashboard, if you’re not already.
Step 1:- In the side menu, just below the Dashboard tab, you have the Posts tab. Now if you hover over it, you’ll see 4 options here; refer to the screenshot below.
- All Posts – it will take you to the page where you can see all the posts, published as well as the drafts and sticky posts.
- Add New – it will take you to the editor, where you can write & publish your articles. – this is what we will learn here.
- Category – it will take you to the page where you can create different categories; you can do this from inside the editor as well.
- Tags – it will take you to the page where you can create different tags related to your posts or niche; this can also be done from the editor.
So, as you’ve already guessed it, click on “Add New“.
The editor will load as soon as you click it. Since this is your first time and the interface is also fairly new, WordPress will give you a mini tour of the editor itself. Just follow the popup boxes to understand the editor.
It will already cover the basic things you do in the editor – like, how to add content blocks, how to preview your post, the settings, and how to publish your post.
So, I will just share a few important points which the WordPress tour doesn’t include.
The first thing you want to do is change your URL structure (aka Permalinks).
To do that click on the plus sign and add a block (any block). Now click on Add title; a new box will appear above it, it will show you an unstructured link and a button called “Change Permalinks“. Click it and it will open a new tab within the same browser and take you there.
Now, scroll down; by default, your blog will be using the Custom Structure, which means you can customize the URL structure by using any of the tags provided below that section.
I prefer to keep it as Post Name – the option just above Custom Structure. But if you like to include your categories as well, then, you can add the category tag from below and click on save.
These 2 are the only recommended URL structures. So, don’t use any of the above available options.
Once you’re done there, come back to the editor again.
Now give your blog post a title by clicking on the Add title section. And then click on the plus sign again and add a content block as per your liking; by default, it is a Paragraph block.
So, if you don’t want to start your post with texts right away then select the right block that you want to start with; an image, a quote, a heading, an audio clip, or any of the other available options.
Notice, as soon as you click on any block, the Block section (next to Documents) on the right side menu also changes. It shows you the settings for your currently selected block. Refer to the image above.
Now to the left to the Block section, there you have a tab called “Documents“. Under this section, you’ll see a few foldable sub-tabs.
Let me explain each one separately.
Status & Visibility: –
- Here you have the options to decide, whether you want your post to be public or private – if you select private, that particular post will be visible to you only when you’re logged in. Here you can also password protect your post; which means only those with whom you share the password can view this post.
- When do you want to publish the post – by default, it is set to publish immediately as soon as you hit the Publish button. But, if you want to schedule a post, then, just hit the link that says immediately, and pick a date & time from the calendar that appears, and notice the Publish button turning into Schedule; once you hit that button your post will be automatically scheduled to be posted on that particular day you’ve selected.
- Next is Post format – here you can pick a post format as per your need; for example if your post is mainly photos then you can select the image format, if it is videos then select the video format, and if it is audio clips (something like podcasts) than you can select the audio option, and so on. by default, it’s in Standard format meant for text content.
- Next, you can decide if you would like to pin or stick this post to your blog post’s page (where your published blog posts are shown in frontend) – so this post will always show up first in your blog post’s page.
- The pending review is another way to schedule your post – the only difference is you can’t pick a date & time for this, it will automatically assign a time & date.
- Here you can create new categories or select from the ones that are previously created by you. If you had created a category before – either from the category page in posts or from the editor itself, you can find them here. And if you’re writing a post in a new category then just hit the Add New Category link found in this section and add your new category.
- Same as categories you can add new tags here or select from the existing ones – just type in a tag related to the topic of your post and hit enter; if you had used similar tags before, then, it will suggest them as you start typing.
Featured Image: –
- This is where you attach an image to your post – don’t confuse it with the images that you use within a post. The image that you select here will be used as the thumbnail image for your post that shows up in your blog post’s page as well as on the social media when you share the post.
- You can add some custom texts to brief the post. However, this is an optional option; even if you don’t add anything here, WordPress will automatically show the first few lines from the article. This is what shows up as a small description of the post in your blog post’s page as well as in social media.
- Here you can tell WordPress whether you want people to comment on your post or not. Just uncheck the Allow Comments option and this particular post won’t show a comment box.
- The next thing you can do here is – allow or disallow Pingbacks & Trackbacks. This is just a way to get notified when/if someone refers to your post from their blogs. It also works the other way around; meaning, it notifies the other blogs as well when/if you refer to some post/s of their blog from your post, given they have this option enabled for that particular post that you have referred.
That was it!
Now all you need to do is just write your first post, add the required field, and hit the publish button.
Your blog is ready to rock.
Hope you like the ultimate guide on How to Start A Self-Hosted WordPress Blog?
Starting a self-hosted WordPress site is very easy if you’re not scared of the technical hassles.
In my opinion, it is really fun to learn a new skill, which will come in handy in your blogging career.
And to be honest, it feels awesome to be an all-rounder. You don’t necessarily need to know how to create a website, but knowing that wouldn’t hurt either. I mean, you don’t see Dhoni bowling, but he knows what ball would make the batsman uncomfortable and if needed he can ball as well.
If you at least know the basic things about WordPress, then, if you ever come across any problem with the blog you would know how to tackle it. you won’t have to depend on anyone else.
So, try and test the things in WordPress yourself, until you have a good hang of the interface.
If you’re worried to mess up your main blog, then buy a cheap domain with any extension or create a subdomain and experiment there.
You don’t learn if you don’t try.
Blogging is not just about creating content, it is more than that – in fact writing is only like 30% of it. And the other 70% is equally important.
From my next post onwards, we will learn them all; one by one.
So, are you excited to start your self-hosted WordPress Blog?
Have any doubt or queries please ask me in the comment or join this community of bloggers.
P.S.: if you have found the guide helpful, please share it to your circle they might also benefit from it.