How to Set Up a Blog for $2.75 in Under 10 Minutes
So you've decided you want to start a blog. Great! But how do you actually set it up so you can have a website that you design and publish content on?
This post goes over it all - how you can set up a self-hosted blog quickly and affordably - yes, for as little as $2.75, and in less than 10 minutes - with WordPress!
Plus, you’ll find some other tips at the end of this post as to what else you need to know about starting a blog.
(Note: some pieces of this post are included in my helpful “How to Start, Grow, and Make Money with a Travel Blog” tutorial, which you can find right here!)
BEFORE YOU SET UP YOUR BLOG: A FEW TERMS YOU WILL NEED TO KNOW:
Domain: this is the website address, or URL, for your blog. The domain for this website is goseekexplore.com.
Content Management System (CMS): This is the platform/app you use to write your posts in, design the look of your website, do coding, and connect any external apps, such as WordPress.
Self-hosted: this is what it is called when you use the CMS but you own your site. You need to be self-hosted to have a "clean" domain (goseekexplore.com) versus a domain with .wordpress.com at the end.
Plug-in: another word for an app or a widget that you connect your site to. An easy example of a plug-in would be an app that displays social media share buttons on your posts.
SELF-HOSTED OR NOT?
Self-hosted costs money; non-self-hosted is free.
Keep in mind that typically the CMS platform will NOT allow you to make money or display ads from your website unless you are self-hosted.
I've always been self-hosted as I wanted a clean URL and find it more professional looking. I also like using a professional email address (email@example.com looks better than firstname.lastname@example.org).
Myself along with other authorities in the travel industry recommend that you get a self-hosted blog if you desire your blog to be your part or full-time job, use it as a platform, and make money from it. (If you are simply doing a diary-style blog for family and friends, it doesn’t matter).
If you are going the self-hosted route, which I highly recommend you do, you’ll need to set up WordPress with a host.
How to Set up a Host with WordPress
HERE’S A QUICK TUTORIAL OF HOW TO SET UP YOUR HOST WITH HOSTGATOR (IT SHOULD ONLY TAKE A FEW MINUTES!):
First, head to the website - you’ll see the an orange button and that you can get started for only $2.75/month.
Enter your domain. See? So far, so good!
Next, choose your plan - the Hatchling Plan is the most affordable. This is what I recommend for new bloggers.
For account creation purposes, enter a Username and Security PIN. Don’t forget to write this information down, you’ll need this later.
With my link you should see it’s actually only $2.75/month instead of the usual $3.95.
You’ll then be directed to additional add-ons, which are up to you. Domain privacy is one add-on I recommend so your information (name, contact information, address) are private. If you don’t use domain privacy, your information is public and anyone can legally look it up on sites like whois.
Review your order details below and accept the terms.
And then…your hosting account has been created!
HostGator will send you a welcome email confirming your Hosting plan, Control Panel link, Username, Domain, Password, first and second Nameserver connected to your account.
Next: Install WordPress
Remember that HostGator works with WordPress. WordPress is the app you log into on your computer to create the design of your site and write/publish blog posts!
But before you can get to any of that, you’ll need to connect the host.
Within the HostGator Customer Portal, visit the “Hosting” tab and find the WordPress Icon “Get Started with WordPress Today” for a 1 click install.
If you have multiple domains, make sure you are installing WordPress to your preferred domain name.
Make sure every field gets filled in here: Blog Title, Admin User, First, Last Name, and Admin Email.
Success! WordPress has been installed to your domain. Make sure to write down your username and password because you will need it on the next step.
Now that WordPress has been installed, let’s login to the Admin Area so you can start creating the website! In a new tab, type domain.com/wp-admin and login. For example, newwebsite123.com/wp-admin. This will be the easiest way to access your WordPress back end.
I recommend bookmarking the /wp-admin URL for quick and easy access!
4 Quick Things You Should Set Up on Your Blog From the Beginning
Once you’ve connected your host and done the initial design/setup of your site (you can use a free design theme from Wordpress or buy one for about $60 on Themeforest.net), this is what I recommend doing next.
Years ago when I set up my blog, I only did one of these four things (set up Google Analytics). I only wish I knew then what I knew now, because having these four things set up from the start makes your blogging journey much smoother!
1. SET UP SSL SECURITY
This is the "s" in the https:// portion of your blog and also shows that your site is secure. It's important for Google and SEO.
I recommend setting up SSL from the start.
I didn't have it on my blog at first, and when I eventually did set it up the share counts on my social share buttons reset and I lost the previous shares - I had to upgrade to a paid version of my share buttons plug-in to get my true share count back.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA SHARE BUTTONS
These are very important as they allow and encourage readers to share your posts. Many share buttons also show the total number of shares that post has, which provides social proof for the post.
The best way to get traffic is through free shares! Why not allow someone who enjoyed your post or found it helpful to share with their friends in a super easy way?
For WordPress I highly recommend Social Warfare.
3. SET UP GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Google Analytics shows you how many pageviews your blog gets, how people find your blog, demographics, what social networks are referring them, and so much more.
It's very important to understand that stats behind your blog. And when you see something that works...run with it!
Also, if you work with brands for sponsored content (ex: a hotel review blog post in exchange for a comped stay), they will want to know what your stats are. Typically they look for pageviews, unique visitors, and demographics to start.
Here's how to set up Google Analytics for and WordPress.
4. Set up an email list and collect emails
Setting up an email list is often one of the top things people skip when starting a blog, and everyone I know (myself included) regrets not collecting emails from the beginning.
The reason I never did an email list was because a) I didn’t know what to write on my emails, b) once you reach a certain amount of subscribers you have to pay money for it on most apps, and c) I thought I could just use social media to drive traffic to my blog.
Now, I know that a) I could have collected so many more emails just to have them, and could wait to send emails later, b) it took a while anyways to gain momentum so subscriber count wouldn’t have been an issue, and c) with algorithms these days, just because someone follows you on social networks does not mean they will see your content regularly.
How do you set up an email list?
You will need an app that collects your emails for you. You may have heard of software like ConvertKit, Mailchimp, or Aweber. There are literally dozens to choose from, but those are three of the most popular.
If you receive emails from bloggers or businesses, it is very likely that they use one of those platforms to send the emails to you.
I started my email list with Convertkit and haven't looked back. I LOVE Convertkit and have never had any issues or reasons to switch.
What I liked about Convertkit when I was first starting was that I knew my list would be small at the beginning, and needed some time to work on growing my blog and developing products/affiliate strategies to earn money from it. So starting on their free trial as a newbie was great.
Next steps: grow your traffic, online presence, and set up income streams for your blog!
Download my free e-book on how to start, grow, and make money from a blog below! It includes tips for growing your traffic, social media following, and has an overview of the many ways you can make money and diversify your income from blogging.
Simply put in your details and I’ll send it to that email right away.