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If you’re “homeless” on the web, it will be hard to find you – and do business with you. And, this is why if you’re going to make serious money online, you absolutely, positively must have a website/blog.
Because a website/blog is so critical to your success as an online entrepreneur, the decisions about it, ie, selecting a domain name and deciding which host company to use, are two of the most crucial you’ll have to make. This tutorial will take you by the hand and tell you exactly how to do this, which includes learning how to start a WordPress blog on HostGator.
FYI, if you’d prefer me to set it up for you, skip to the section at the end entitled “Do My WordPress Install on HostGator for Me.” However, I highly recommend that you do it yourself, as you’re going to have to know how to update your blog. So getting familiar with maneuvering around in it from the beginning will be very helpful.
Before we get to that though, let me explain the difference between a website and a blog, and why you definitely want a blog.
Note: This post contains a lot of graphics. Where necessary, click on it/them to get a larger view.
The Difference between a Website and a Blog
A blog and a website are both websites. Websites tend to be more of a portfolio, an introduction to your work (ie, samples) and business. Websites can be thought of as an online company brochure. My SEO writing company’s site, NewMediaWords.biz is an example of this.
Blogs, on the other hand, have an interactivity about them that most websites don’t. Plugins like “Most Recent Posts;” “Most Popular Posts;” and “Related Posts/Entries;” all encourage interaction. To see an actual example of a blog “plugin,” go InkwellEditorial.com and click on any post. Then, go to the bottom of the page of that post and you’ll see a “Related Posts” section like this:
A WordPress “Related Posts” blog plugin automatically selects these posts based on the topic of the initial post you clicked on. Plugins like this help readers to stay on your blog longer.
The longer a reader stays on your blog, the more likely they are to take some kind of action (eg, sign up for a newsletter, buy a book, enroll in an e-class, etc.). See how this leads to sales and why static, brochure-like HTML websites (which don’t offer these features) aren’t as effective?
Bottom line: You want a blog for your online business. And, you want a WordPress blog because it is the most popular blogging platform these days, hands down.
Now that you know why you want WordPress blog, let’s get to the step-by-step instructions on how to set one up.
STEP I: REGISTER A DOMAIN NAME FOR YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG
Note: If you already have a domain name, you can skip this section.
The first step in getting a blog is to select and register a domain name. A domain name is simply the name of a blog, in case you don’t know. For example, InkwellEditorial.com is the domain name of my freelance writing site, Inkwell Editorial. GetaMobileCareer.com is the domain name for my affiliate marketing site, Get a Mobile Career.
You can register a domain name with the company you choose to host your website (not advised), or independently of it. Here’s why I recommend always registering your domain name separately from your web hosting company.
In that post, you’ll also learn how to quickly and easily register a domain name. Once you complete that step, come back here, ok?
Domain Name Cost
FYI, you can register a domain name for less than $10.00 a year, depending on the extension selected. FYI, domain name extensions are discussed in the linked-to post above. I use NameCheap.com to register most of my domain names, although I do have some registered via BlueHost too.
Now that you’ve registered your domain name, you’re ready to get hosting for it and start your WordPress blog.
If you’re starting for the least amount of cost possible, go with the Hatchling Plan.
Complete the Checkout Process
Step 1. If you registered your domain name with NameCheap (or another domain name registrar) as I recommend, you’ll type that into Step 1 on the form below and click “I already own this domain.”
Step 2. When you click on the Billing Cycle tab, you’ll see that you have many options. You can get hosting for as little as 1-month, or as long as three years.
The price will always be lower for the longer periods of time. So, for example, at the time of this update, if you elect the 36-month option, your web hosting costs will only be $2.78 per month ($100.08). You will pay this all at once up front — and not have to worry about hosting again for three years. Sweet, right?
However, if you can’t afford that, you can opt to be billed monthly. Currently, the rate is $4.38/month for the first month (you receive a 60% discount), and $10.95/month for every month after that, for a total of $387.63 over a 36-month period. So, see how much you can save ($287.55 in this case) by paying for longer stretches of time?
But again, if you can’t afford it, you can start out just paying the $10.95/month. Then, as you start to earn, you can upgrade to a cheaper plan.
Step 3. Enter your billing information. Be sure that the email address you enter is one you use and check often because this is where you will receive information from HostGator about your accout, eg, billing, complaints filed agasint you, server updates, etc.
Step 4. I usually uncheck all of these ancillary service boxes.
Step 5. Enter a coupon code if you have one.
Step 6. Make sure everything is good, then click the “Checkout Now” box.
Congratulations, you just purchased hosting for your soon-to-be-published blog! Now, let’s get to setting that up.
STEP 3: ACCESS HOSTGATOR CONTROL PANEL
Once you purchase hosting from HostGator, you’re going to get two emails at the email address you entered in Step 3 (the Billing part) of Step 2 above. One is a “Welcome” email and the other will contain important account info. Access the email that has your account info in it.
Specifically what you’re looking for is the Control Panel link and your NameServer info. You need this to start your WordPress installation. The email will look/similar to the following (as you can see, I’ve been a HostGator customer for a long time). Click on the “Your Control Panel” link to get started.
Once you click on the link this is what you’re going to see.
Enter your username and password. You’ll be taken to the following screen. Click on WordPress Installer.
STEP 4: POINT NAMESERVERS TO HOSTGATOR
If you registered your domain name with HostGator follow the instructions here to configure your NameServer info.
If you registered your domain name with NameCheap (or another domain registrar), enter the NameServer info from the HostGator email in the appropriate place at that site. Or, you can log into your Control Panel and click on “Server Stats” from the left-hand bar. The following screen will pop up.
The highlighted portion is your HostGator server info. This is what you will enter into the NameServer info at your domain name registration company (eg, NameCheap). FYI, you may have to wait a couple of days for your domain name to show up in HostGator’s control panel if you didn’t register it with them.
When you first log into your control panel – especially if you’re not a techie – it can be pretty intimidating. Don’t let it be. FYI, all control panels will look somewhat the same.
Think of the control panel like the dashboard of your car. It’s where all the tools are stored that you need to drive the car, right? Eg, blinkers, how much gas you have, how fast you’re going, turn on/off bright lights, etc. A web host company’s control panel is the same thing. It’s where all the stuff you need to operate a successful blog is located. And, it’s even broken down into sections for you, eg:
In the “Files” section: Under “File Manager,” you’ll find all the files on your website (once you start blogging).
In the “Domains” section: You’ll find all the domains associated with your account, ie, those you’ve registered with HostGator, and those you’ve registered elsewhere but have pointed their NameServers to HostGator.
In the “Email” section: This is where you’ll set up and manage all email addresses you want associated with your blog. You can forward them, redirect them to free accounts (eg, hotmail, gmail, yahoo), set up auto responders, etc.
So again, don’t be intimidated by your Control Panel. It’s your friend. Now, let’s use it to set up your hosting.
STEP 5: SELECT DOMAIN NAME AND FILL IN INFORMATION
Select the domain name for which you want to create a blog from the pull-down menu, then click “Next.”
Note: If you registered your domain name with NameCheap or another registrar and it’s not showing up, it’s because it hasn’t transferred over yet. Again, this can take a couple of days, although it’s usually quicker than that.
Fill out the information requested below. Be sure to click the “Terms of Service Agreement” box. It won’t let you go any further until you do. FYI, never use “Admin” as the Admin User name. It’s the first name hackers try when trying to access your blog. So use something else. FYI, I wouldn’t advise using your name either. Pick something random for the best security.
Blog Title Tip: Use keywords in your title. This is part of SEO-ing your blog, which makes it easier for search engines to find it and return it in relevant search results. This means more traffic (and sales).
STEP 6: COMPLETE YOUR WORDPRESS INSTALLATION
After you fill in all of the information requested in the above graphic, click the “Install Now” button. You have now created a WordPress blog on HostGator. Congrats! See how easy that was?
FYI, be sure to copy down your Username and Password. Keep them in a safe, but easy-to-access place. You’re going to need them every time you get ready to update your blog. Speaking of … now it’s time to get your blog live on the web. Right now, all you have is a “holding page” on your site.
STEP 7: WORDPRESS NOTIFICATION EMAIL
At the email address you entered when you filled out your information is Step 3, you’ll receive an email from WordPress with the following information. FYI, notice the part highlighted in yellow; that’s the name you gave your new blog.
BUT – and this is where a lot of sites that tell you how to start a WordPress blog leave you hanging – once you log onto your domain following your install, following is what you’re going to see. Remember, FreelanceWritingWebsite.com was the blog I did a WordPress install for.
Oh my! What are you supposed to do now?! You don’t know WordPress. This is your first time starting a blog. And you get a message like this as if you’re an advanced blogger and are supposed to know what to do. Oh boy!
Don’t worry, I got you. Following are the exact steps to take next. Click on the link where the red arrow is in the graphic just above. It’ll take you to your new blog’s log-in page. FYI, this link is always going to be http://www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin. Bookmark it because this is the page you’re going to access every time you need to access your blog.
STEP 8: YOUR WORDPRESS LOGIN PAGE
Enter the Username and Password info from Step 4.
FYI, all WordPress blog log-in pages look like this. You’re going to see it every time you log into your blog, so it’ll become familiar very quickly. Again, bookmark this page for ease of access.
STEP 9. SET UP YOUR BLOG
Here you can choose either one.
STEP 10. FILL IN YOUR BLOG’S DESCRIPTION
This section describes what your site is all about. See what I named mine? It’s because I’m selling discounted ebooks here.
STEP 11. SELECT STYLE OF BLOG
Here you’re most likely going to select “Yes” because you intend to update your blog with content, NOT just have a static page.
A static page means that your blog’s Home page will stay the same all the time. For an example, see SeoWritingJobs.com. It has hundreds of pages on it, but the Home page stays the same, because that’s where I market my SEO writing e-course. So, I always want that to be the first thing visitors see when they land on that page.
You have to go to the right-hand side of the page and click on “Recent Posts” to access other content on the site.
Most bloggers don’t elect the static home page style. They opt for their most recent post to be on the home page. This means that your home page will change every time you update your blog. See InkwellEditorial.com for an example of this.
Note: See how the right-hand side of the page (aka the “sidebar”) is the same on every page of InkwellEditorial.com and SeoWritingJobs.com?
This is important because, for example, if you are monetizing your blog, you can put links to affiliate products there; or to your site shop (if you’re selling goods and services); or a link to your newsletter so visitors can easily subscribe – no matter where they land on your site.
And this is the beauty of a WordPress blog, as opposed to a static, old-school, HTML-style site. With HTML, you have to update every page by hand. With WordPress, you can change the entire design/look of a site with just one click – and not lose any of your content. And this is why WordPress is so popular.
Ok, now let’s continue. For this site, I would normally choose a static page because it’s a site where I sell ebooks I’ve written in the past for steep discounts. But for illustrative purposes, I’m going to choose the “Most recent news or updates” style blog.
STEP 12: COMPOSE AND PUBLISH YOUR FIRST POST
Your dashboard is probably going to look quite intimidating when you log in to compose your first post. But all you have to do to start blogging is click “Post” from the menu on the left-hand side of the page, then “Add New”.
Below is where you’ll actually write your first post.
STEP 13: MAKE YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG LIVE
Up top you’ll see a button that says, “Make Site Live”. Click on it, and you’ll see the following screen, letting you know that your site is live for the world to see.
Now when you go to your site, you will see your first post. You did it! You now have a WordPress blog live on the web.
HOW TO BLOG IN WORDPRESS: TIPS FOR NEWBIES
Like anything new, it’s going to take you a little while to learn about everything that’s in your WordPress dashboard. But, you wanna know a little secret? You don’t have to know every part of this dashboard. I’ve been blogging in WordPress since 2008, and I still don’t know what half those buttons are for. It’s because you only really need to know a few, especially when you first start out.
New Bloggers: Here are the Most Frequently Used Buttons In Your WordPress Dashboard
Following are the ones you’re going to be using the most:
Post: To add new content to your blog.
Comments: To moderate and respond to visitors who leave comments.
Media: This is the button you use to upload graphics, PDFs and video to your site (unless you’re uploading a YouTube video, in which case you can just copy the code from there.
Pages: To add new top-level (eg, navigation bar) pages to your site.
How to Save Time, Frustration & Money When Blogging in WordPress
I beg of you, if you’re totally new to this and you’re frustrated and just want to “get to blogging” without worrying about all the other stuff, then hire an expert to do the initial install for you. Then, you can just log in and start blogging.
Sites like Fiverr make it very easy and inexpensive to hire someone to do what you don’t know how to do. With that being said though, you should always be looking at WordPress tutorials and reading about it to gain knowledge yourself for simple things like adding a new plugin, or changing your menu bar.
Even if you never become a WordPress expert (and I most certainly am not), you should know how to do the basics as an online entrepreneur like add new posts, moderate comments, and create and upload graphics to your blog. This way, you’re not constantly shelling out money.
Do My WordPress Install on HostGator for Me
If you want to get your WordPress blog set up and ready to go quickly, I can help. I have a guy I’ve been using for tech stuff I need done since 2009. He’s affordable, trustworthy and does great work. For $25, he’ll do a WordPress install for you. Following are the stipulations.
Choosing a Theme: Tell me what your site is about. You can provide the theme, or he’ll choose an appropriate one for you (as a web designer, he has hundreds of free themes at his disposal).
HostGator Login Info: After you send payment, send an email to info[at]InkwellEditorial.com following these instructions:
- Put “WP Install Request” in the Subject line. This is very important.
- Reference your PayPal account: eg, My PayPal email address is _______.
- List your your HostGator account login information (username and password).
My web designer will need your HostGator account log-information to complete the WordPress installation. I will confirm receipt and pass all info along to him.
Note: After the installation is complete, I always recommend changing your password. I’ve used my guy since 2009 and he’s very trustworthy, but it’s just good web security etiquette to change your password(s) anytime someone has had access to any of your online accounts.
Turnaround Time: 2-3 days (most often sooner).
Please note, there are no refunds after an installation is complete and there are no design options offered with this package. It is a straight installation of a WordPress theme. The idea is to get you up and blogging as quickly as possible on a professional-looking site, without worrying about the behind-the-scenes tech stuff you may not want to tackle initially.
Once you’re up and going and feel more comfortable, you can customize your blog to your liking, or hire someone to do it for you.
If you’re stuck on anything here, you can email me directly, or leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you in a timely manner, as I’m online practically all the time.
Order web hosting via Inkwell Editorial’s affiliate link, and I’ll send you a copy of The Small Biz Owner’s Complete Marketing Kit! That way, you can put together a low-cost/no-cost marketing plan to start monetizing your new blog right away. Just send me the following email:
Yuwanda, I got web hosting for my blog (yourblogname.com) from HostGator via your affiliate link. Send me my free copy of The Small Biz Owner’s Complete Marketing Kit please.
That’s all you need to do. If you ordered hosting via Inkwell Editorial’s affiliate link, I’ll see it in my HostGator affiliate control panel. And, thanks for your support.