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If you’re looking for a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to start a WordPress blog with Siteground on your own, then look no further. This blog post will detail the exact steps I took to launch my WordPress blog.
Why I Started Blogging
When I first got started blogging, I had no idea what I was getting myself into or what could really come of it. All I knew was that I wanted something different from what I was doing at the time. I was an operations manager for a third-party company… in a poker room. Believe me when I say it was NOT where I saw myself at any point in my life, but c’est la vie.
Even though the boxes were checked on paper (stable job, beach life, boyfriend, decent money), I wasn’t happy and certainly wanted more for myself. After reading the stories of successful bloggers and seeing I had nothing to lose, I took the plunge in 2017 and launched my first self-hosted blog.
And it failed.
Like a lot of new bloggers, I was impatient and grew frustrated after not seeing early returns. I managed to get 17 subscribers to my email list in three months and was garnering 30 pages views a day if I was lucky. So, I dropped the ball and the blog died a slow, tragic, underserved death.
My first blog failed because I forgot why I started blogging in the first place, which was to inspire people to live a happy and full life with purpose, which isn’t too distant from what I’m doing now as you can see; life is funny like that. I got so caught up in the income reports and six-figure lifestyles that I gave up before my blog even had a chance.
A year later, I was determined to give blogging another shot and tackled it with a plan. I figured out my branding, read Gary Vaynerchuk books, hired a web designer… I did all the things necessary to make my blog look like a business from day one. And I’m proud to say that the second time has been the charm.
Blogging has allowed me to explore a new career path in the cannabis industry as a copywriter and the tech industry as a COO, have my articles published in local magazines, work with cool clients around the world, and now I’m able to make passive income with advertising since my approval with Mediavine earlier this year.
One of my core values is personal freedom and blogging has afforded me that while opening the door to a number of opportunities I quite possibly never would’ve had. So, for that, I consider this project a success.
And if I can do it with nothing more than some college French studies plus taking in content from other bloggers, YouTubers, and Google search, then I know you can do it, too.
What is a blog?
The word “blog” is shortened from “weblog” and means a log on the web. This can be anything from an online journal that features more personal or casual content to an informational website such as Huffington Post. Or, it can be a lifestyle website with elements of both, like this one.
What are some traits of blogs, you ask? For starters, blogs tend to be updated regularly, sometimes on a schedule, with published articles. They can be stand-alone blogs where the content created for the blog is its main products (blog posts, opt-in freebies, digital courses, etc.); this is where most bloggers fall.
Or, your blog can supplement your business. Example: Siteground has a blog on its website that’s used as a part of their overall content marketing strategy; web services are the main draw.
In a nutshell, a blog is a website that has regularly updated and/or published articles.
What is web hosting?
The best way to explain how the digital worlds of blogging and business work is by drawing analogies to businesses in the physical world.
If you want to start a brick-and-mortar business, you have to rent a building or physical location to set up shop and store your products before opening your door for customers. The same goes for blogging.
In simple terms, web hosting is a service that rents out its services or technologies to an individual or an organization to post a website to the internet.
Think of your hosting service as the storage container or building that stores your products and content. It holds all the files, images, and codes that will subsequently make up your website.
What is a domain name?
If your web hosting provider is your store or building, then your domain name is the address.
You give people your domain name, or URL, to your website the exact same way a physical business owner gives customers a street address to find their establishment.
When someone types in your domain name to visit your website, your domain name is converted to an IP address that’s made of numbers. Your hosting provider locates all the content, images, videos, and other components associated with that address and displays your website to your visitors.
While there are a number of hosting companies out there that are cheaper and more popular than Siteground, it’s still my number one recommendation, especially over hosting providers like Hostgator and Bluehost.
Believe me when I say I understand the lure of these companies because I signed up for one myself. As a new blogger, you might be wanting to start this endeavor for as cheap as possible and go with the cheapest option. Just remember that, in most cases, you get what you pay for.
When I was setting up my blog, I did do my research and knew to stay away from Bluehost for customer service and performance reasons, and opted for Hostgator instead. What I didn’t know was that Hostgator and Bluehost are owned by the same parent company, EIG, and are basically the same thing.
If I had no intention of Bluehost, then Hostgator wasn’t going to work for me either.
After finalizing my theme setup, I switched from Hostgator to Siteground just before the refund window expired, and never looked back.
And thank goodness I made the switch. Some weeks later, I tried to play “developer” and add custom code to my blog theme. Whatever I did resulted in the dreaded white screen of death. I contacted Siteground’s customer service and they got back to me and had my blog back up and running within minutes.
I can’t imagine my site going down and having to wait days to hear back from customer service, especially as a beginner when everything is already causing anxiety and confusion.
Here are a few of the many reasons I love using Siteground to host my blog:
It gets rave reviews.
Siteground is a trusted and reputable name and gets positive reviews from various types of users. Other hosting providers may claim to be more popular, but amongst whom they’re popular is equally important. While bloggers might be fans of Bluehost and Hostgator, Siteground gets rave reviews in the tech space, plus solopreneurs, small business owners, and other everyday users.
Bluehost is known for its lucrative affiliate program in the blogging community and perhaps that’s why it’s so recommended. Siteground excels at things the average person needs while doing tech right.
Excellent customer service.
Siteground is popular for its amazing customer support. Words can’t describe how grateful I was that I had a tech someone readily available when I mistakenly made my blog disappear. I’ve managed to not make my blog disappear since then, but knowing there’s a super knowledgeable team of tech specialists who can swoop in at any time makes the process a whole lot easier.
They take web security seriously.
Have you been paying attention to all the data breaches recently? With the future of work moving increasingly online, it’s left a lot of platforms vulnerable to hacks and infiltrations.
Zoom has been disrupted numerous times with users having random people crash their meetings. Twitter was recently hacked with celebrity profiles being used for an elaborate bitcoin scam.
It’s important now more than ever to work with companies that take a security-first approach when it comes to you and your data. Siteground’s team of experts stay on top of security and they even offer a free ebook to help you secure your new WordPress blog.
You get what you pay for.
Siteground’s hosting is $6.99/mo, which isn’t the $2.99/mo or $3.99/mo other web hosting providers are offering. However, for that price, you’re getting tons of value.
Having their tech support team readily available is as close to having your hand being held during troubleshooting when you accidentally screw up your blog. Plus, Siteground prioritizes performance. With fast upload speeds, your readers are going to love the usability and experience of your website.
Now that you know the fundamentals, it’s time to get blogging. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start a WordPress blog on Siteground and launch your blogging career now.
How To Start A WordPress Blog On Siteground
Choose a hosting package for your blog.
The first step to starting your blog is choosing the right hosting package. Hosting is basically storage for your website and allows you to stow all your blog’s data and content on Siteground’s servers.
Siteground offers three WordPress hosting packages: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek.
If you’re just getting started, then you’re going to want to go with the StartUp hosting package.
The GrowBig and GoGeek packages are great for people with multiple websites or developers who need the staging feature. When your blog is garnering tens of thousands of page views per month, then you can consider some of the bigger hosting plans.
I started with the StartUp package when I switched to Siteground and it was perfect for my beginner needs. I didn’t upgrade to the GrowBig hosting plan until recently to accommodate traffic needs and take advantage of the staging feature since I design and maintain my website myself.
Register your domain name.
Now that we have a hosting package chosen, it’s time to register your domain name, or, what’s basically the web or online address for your blog or business.
Registering a domain name with Siteground is $15.95 per year, but if you already purchased a domain from another provider, then you can add it to your Siteground hosting plan.
A lot of people get hung up on trying to come up with the perfect domain name for their website. If you can come up with something cool and catchy that rhymes, has alliteration, or some kind of appeal, go for it. But it shouldn’t take too much of your time when there’s so much else to do.
Sometimes, it’s just easier to start with your name. My first self-hosted blog was a lifestyle blog called Simply Bonnibelle, and I later nixed it to start a travel blog based in St. Petersburg, FL called Belle In The Burg. It was great for what I was doing, but it had its limitations. For starters, I no longer live in St. Petersburg, or Florida for that matter.
So, I started blogging at BonnibelleChukwuneta.com (back to my name or a variant of it) and love that I’m free to take it whichever direction I want since my name isn’t confining me.
All to say, it’s just a name and you can always change it later if you want to, so don’t think it has to be perfect right off the bat.
Review and complete your order.
You picked out your hosting package and settled on a domain name. Time to fill in your information and make the first purchases for your new blog.
Create your Siteground account by filling in your email and creating your password, filling in your personal information and payment details, too.
For hosting services, you likely only need to start off with just one year. It’s not too long of a commitment so you can reassess after 12 months and commit to a longer plan if necessary. Plus, it’s the best bang for your buck.
There are add-on services available for purchase as well. While optional, I highly recommend getting Domain Privacy to keep your personal information safe and reduce the chance of spam and unwanted solicitations.
Once you confirm and pay, it’s time to install WordPress.
Install WordPress on Siteground.
Installing WordPress sounds way more complicated than it is. It’s actually as simple as clicking one button.
Simply log in to your new Siteground account, find your website under Websites, and access the cPanel (control panel). Once in the cPanel, find the Autoinstallers section and click on WordPress and start the installation process.
If you’re not tech-savvy or feeling a little intimidated right now, have no fear. Siteground’s awesome support team offers professional installation of WordPress for your blog and it’s absolutely free.
Choose a theme for your blog.
There are a lot of recommendations out there telling you to go with a paid theme right off the bat, but I’m going to advise otherwise. The reason I don’t recommend paying for a premium or top-shelf theme, in the beginning, is because if this is your first experience with blogging or setting up websites, then the tech might feel overwhelming or daunting.
Plus, a paid theme isn’t make or break for what you’re about to do.
While having a gorgeous blog from day one is goals, it won’t make or break your blog. I was a staunch perfectionist until the day some of my ugliest work landed me a big writing opportunity I wasn’t even looking for. And no one cared that my blog looked like a literal work in progress; my home page was my five most recent blog posts and my logo. That’s it.
So, what’s the best option for a new blogger? A free theme of course.
I know I hired a web designer for my second go at blogging; I’ve since taken over all the design and development and only recommend a designer if you have the budget for it. Creating your own can be done with time, patience, and lots of love.
My favorite free theme is OceanWP and it’s what I use for this site. OceanWP is a fast and fully responsive WordPress theme that’s great for drag-and-drop web builders and has a solid SEO base built right in. So, not only will your website look great and function well, but it’s likely to rank higher in Google, too.
The theme is easy enough for a beginner to use and make your blog your own or inject some personality. I went full developer with mine and used Elementor, a drag-and-drop page builder that allows you to fully customize your blog or website.
It has both a free and premium version. I opted for the premium version for full customization options. Figured if I’m not using a designer anymore, I may as well equip myself with premium designer tools.
While these are free recommendations, still take the time to design a quality, functional, user-friendly WordPress blog for your readers. Taking the time to create a well-designed site now helps you lay a solid foundation and build trust with readers from the get-go. Pretend like you’re the user and create an experience you want your audience to, well, experience.
I can tell you first-hand that having a beautiful blog isn’t required to make money via freelancing, but if you want to grow traffic and readership to your website and explore passive income opportunities, then yes, you need to make sure your website loads in a decent amount of time, your font choices are easy on the eyes and large enough to read, and your branding colors convey what you want.
Create epic content for your blog.
Now that your WordPress blog is set up, it’s time to start filling it with some content. Rather than start with blog posts, the first thing you want to do actually is build out some crucial landing pages for your website.
Every blog or website should have the following pages: Home, About, Contact, and Hire or Work With Me.
Having these pages published gives your readers a chance to explore your website, learn more about you and what to expect, and inquire about your products or services if you have any available (you should).
The other pages on your blog, especially your blog articles, might get more traffic, but you’ll be surprised by the number of people who check out your landing pages. I’ve had clients and fellow bloggers ask me about the particulars of my About Me and Blogging Services pages on multiple occasions.
I actually hope my future clients visit my website and come to our discovery calls or meetings with questions; it means they did their research, just as I do on them.
As for your Contact page, it doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary. Mine’s simple with details on how to get in touch for certain services, my email address, and links to my social pages.
Once you’ve got your main pages done, it’s time to get started on some articles for your blog.
Take a notebook and pen or open notes on your smartphone and jot down some titles you’d like to cover. What to write about certainly depends on who you’re writing for and what the objective of the blog post is. Yes, each blog post should have an objective.
Is it a recipe post on how to make vegan spaghetti and meatballs?
Or a travel series of a solocation featuring best hikes in Big Sur State Park?
What about a listicle on your five favorite books for people going through a breakup?
Whatever the case, have an intention for your articles from the beginning.
Recommended Blogging Plugins + Resources
Here are some of the foundational and most-used tools that helped me launch this blog successfully.
Akismet: protects your blog from spam
Coming Soon Page, Under Construction & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd: create a “coming soon” page for your website to let your readers know there’s something coming as you work on the backend of your blog… this is a good way to grow your mailing list before launching.
Insert Headers and Footers: allows you to easily add custom code to your blog without getting too complicated… you’ll want this one, believe me.
Sassy Social Share: make it easy for your readers to share your blog posts with social share buttons. Just connect your social media accounts to your blog.
WP-Optimize – Clean, Compress, Cache: optimize your site by cleaning databases, compressing images, and caching pages on your blog.
Canva Pro: graphic design platform for logos, social media headers, infographics, and more
ConvertKit: email marketing for bloggers by bloggers
Google Apps: Analytics (blog stats), Calendar (content schedule), Docs (writing drafts), Drive (organizing files), Gmail (I linked my business email to my Gmail account), Sheets (internal trackers and spreadsheets)
Grammarly: editing tool and writing assistant
Nappy.co: high-quality stock photos of black and brown people.
Tailwind: scheduler for Pinterest pins and Instagram posts
Trello: project management (this is how I keep track of progress on blog posts, digital products, and even personal stuff like what I’m eating)
Unsplash: free stock photos
Seldom do I recommend courses because there’s so much free information online, but what I’ve learned in the following two courses can’t be found anywhere else and have directly made an impact on this blog.
It was Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s blog that convinced me to start a blog of my own. I bought Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing in 2017 and it collected digital dust once I was through with it. When one of my blog posts went viral, I immediately went back to this course in hopes of earning money from that post… and I did!
While it wasn’t a huge affiliate sale, it was my first and it boosted my confidence. Plus, they say getting the first is the hardest, so it was good to have that out of the way. There’s no stone left unturned in this book, and there’s a reason why it’s a digital bestseller and a favorite in the blogging industry. If you plan on using affiliate marketing as a revenue stream, here’s your tool.
We probably wouldn’t be talking viral blog posts if it wasn’t for Pinteresting Strategies. Carly from Mommy On Purpose has been touting her unique Pinterest strategy for years. It relies heavily on a consistent schedule of manual pinning, which was unheard of at a time when Tailwind (and Boardbooster #RIP) were all the rage for getting pageviews from Pinterest.
I use her manual pinning recommendations along with Tailwind strategies of my own and have had multiple blog posts go viral and with steady viewership, even for blog posts that have a narrow focus or are for local audiences. The eBook got a major update this year and is even more relevant. Highly recommended.
When I decided to restart blogging as a travel blogger, I wanted to learn as much as I could from pros who’ve been doing it for a while. Heather and Pete Reese from It’s A Lovely Life are family travel blogging experts. Even though their blog focuses on family travel, their Travel Blogging Fast Track Course goes into depth on all things travel blogging and taught me about the different travel industries like luxury and adventure, and their nuances.
What I love most is the database with several travel bureaus you can contact as well as their pitching formula on how to land comped travel opportunities. With travel taking a bit of a back seat, now might be a good time to become an expert on post-COVID travel. Readers will want to learn from insiders when it’s safe to play again!
Blog your way to success.
You may be wondering how many blog posts you should have written before launching your blog. I don’t have a number because the truth is that you become a blogger once you hit “publish” on the first one. I’ve launched blogs with as few as three blog posts and as many as 15-20. It’s totally up to you. It is a good idea to have a few articles written with some scheduled ahead so that you don’t fall behind on your blogging schedule, however.
If I had to pick a number one tip for someone just embarking on their own blogging journey, don’t worry about your blog being perfect in the beginning; just get it up and running. It’s easy to get caught up in making your website, logo, graphics, and content perfect before hitting publish. Be like Nike and just do it. Literally.
What’s most important in the beginning is having a blog and getting into the rhythm of this new routine. Launching your blog is a huge first step and of course, you want everything to be immaculate, but always remember that your blog and the whole blogging journey is not a race but a marathon. Your blog is a work in progress and can always be updated. I make regular updates to my blogging aesthetic all the time; it’s never “done” and never will be.
You’ll definitely want to pin this one for later and keep it nearby when you start your own blog. Blogging has made for an exciting couple of years in my professional life and surely has more in store. If you’re looking to start your own blog, then now’s as good a time as any!
Just getting started with your blog? Post any tips I may have missed or questions you have below and I’ll be sure to chime in! 🙂
Don’t forget to pin for later!