OK I am sure that by now, pretty much everyone in the entire universe knows that last Friday was my little blogs 1st birthday, and being entirely unable to confine birthday celebrations to just one day, I have created a whole week’s worth of content to celebrate!
So far I have shared what I’ve learnt in my first year of blogging, several highlights from my first year, my most popular posts, a few food blog photography tips and yesterday I shared my top tips for wannabe food bloggers.
Well, today I am going to tell you how to actually start that blog. It’s so much easier than you might think!
How to start a food blog
1. Decide whether your blog will be hosted or self-hosted
The first thing you need to do is decide if you want to have a hosted or self-hosted blog. If you are not sure what that means, check out point 4 from yesterday’s post: 10 top tips for wannabe food bloggers. I would thoroughly recommend going self-hosted if you are serious about blogging. Self-hosted is generally considered more flexible than hosted and more professional, plus it offers more ways to make money in the long run. The main two criticisms of being self-hosted that I have seen is that it is expensive and complicated. Well, I can tell you I’m not very techy and I didn’t find it all that difficult to set up my blog. It took me about 30 minutes to do everything I am going to share below. And as for cost – I pay about £5 a month for my blog – which I think is more than worth paying for all the benefits of having a self-hosted blog.
If you want to start a self-hosted blog, read on… I am going to show you how to set one up in less than half an hour!
2. Choose your host
With hosted websites like wordpress.com and blogger.com, you don’t need to worry about hosting – WordPress and Blogger do this for you – but if you are going to be self-hosted, you have to pay a hosting company to look after your blog. There are lots of hosting companies out there, but I would thoroughly recommend the one my blog is with: Bluehost. I have been very happy with them and have had almost no problems (there was one day when my site was down for about 2 hours – that’s 2 hours in over 1 year…when you read some horror stories on the internet, you realise that is really, really good!)
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of hosting companies. I’m sure many of them are good, but I have only used Bluehost, so that is the only one I can personally recommend. It’s not just me who thinks Bluehost is good, google them and you will find lots of good things about them – for example, Bluehost are 1 of only 4 hosting companies that WordPress actually recommend. Bluehost is also fast, reliable and really simple to use…
3. Select your plan
The first thing to do is to go to Bluehost’s home page (just click on the advert above), then click ‘get started now’.
This will take you to a screen that looks like this, where you can select your plan.
I would personally suggest you get the cheapest plan – you can always upgrade later. The more expensive plans offer things like more space and bandwidth, which you might need when you are doing really well, but it’s unlikely you’ll need that when you start out. You also get things like the opportunity to store more than one website with them (were you planning to start more than one?!) and more email addresses (you get 5 email addresses with the cheapest plan – will you need more than that? I personally only use 1!).
4. Choose your domain name
Next you need to choose a domain name (i.e. your web address – so, mine is easypeasyfoodie.com) for your site. Think very carefully about this – you will be using this for a long time! (It is possible to change later, but it’s a pain.) Have a look at yesterday’s post for more about choosing a domain name.
Type the domain name you have chosen into the box on the left and see if it is available. If it is available, you will go to a screen like this, where you fill in your personal details.
If it’s not available you will go to a screen like this where you will be given some alternative suggestions.
See if there is anything you like here. If there is, click on it. If there isn’t, go back and try something else.
One note of caution. You may be offered your chosen name with an alternative ending, such as .co / .info / .biz Don’t go for any of them. Choose a .com ending. Every single piece of advice I have ever seen says .com is best.
Alternatively, if you already own a domain name then type it into the box on the right instead and follow the instructions there instead. For the purposes of this post, I am assuming you don’t already own one.
The good news is, so long as the domain name you like is available, you can have it for free! Bluehost offer one free domain name with every new hosting account. That’s really good – domain names can cost a fortune elsewhere!
5. Fill in your personal information
Fill in your name, address and payment information. You will notice there are various other add ons you can buy at this stage such as Domain Privacy Protection and Site Backup Pro. The only one I would bother with at this stage is Domain Privacy Protection – if you choose that one, it means your name, telephone number, address and email address won’t be publicly registered on the WHOIS register for all the world to see (WHOIS is an organisation that manages all data regarding domain registration – anyone can access this information from a WHOIS search engine like whois.domaintools.com). I don’t know how you feel about such things, but I didn’t much fancy having my name, telephone number, address and email address easily searchable for all to see!
You are also given the option to buy 1, 2 or 3 years worth of hosting. And obviously the cheapest price is for the 3 year option. It’s up to you which one you choose, but I went for 3 year option, as I was sure I wanted my blog to be a long term thing. One thing to note: although it shows a monthly price, you pay for each year in one lump sum up front. (I can tell you this with confidence because I’ve just had to pay my bill for my second year!)
6. Create a password
After you have filled in your information, chosen your hosting package and selected any extras, you can click ‘Submit’ to complete your purchase. Next, you will be asked to create a password for your account. You need to create a strong password that uses letters, numbers and symbols. Or there is an option for you to get Bluehost to create one for you.
7. Install wordpress
You should now be looking at this screen:
The next step is to install WordPress. Scroll down to the ‘Website’ section and click ‘Install WordPress’ and follow the instructions. Be patient it does take a little while!
When you have installed WordPress you can log in to your WordPress site. Click on the Admin URL link – this will take you through to the WordPress login page which will look something like this…
Enter your WordPress username and password, then click ‘Log In’. You will now be looking at the WordPress dashboard, which will look something like this…
This is where you will control everything to do with your WordPress site, such as creating pages, writing posts, and changing the appearance of your blog.
Some bloggers call this the back end (the front end being the bit your readers see).
There are loads of things you can do now, but I am going to tell you about 3 you should do straight away: install a theme, customise your theme, then write and publish your first post!
8. Install a theme
The first thing you should do is choose a theme for your blog. A theme is essentially a design template. There are literally hundreds (probably thousands) of themes out there, some are free and some you have to pay for (these are usually called premium themes). To begin with I suggest you just choose a free theme and then you can upgrade later if you want to.
To install a theme, scroll down the left hand side until you find ‘Appearance’ and hover over it until a second menu appears like this.
Then click on ‘Themes’ and you should find yourself on a screen that looks a bit like this.
Either choose one of the themes here or click the ‘add new theme’ button, where you will find loads of other themes. You can filter these by featured / most popular / latest / premium etc. When you find one you like, just click on it and then click ‘install’ and then ‘activate’.
9. Customise your theme
To begin with your theme will look a bit generic, but then you can customise your theme – change the colours, change the font, add your logo… All themes are different, so this bit is outside the scope of this post, but you should be able to find help on the website of the company or person who designed your chosen theme.
And if you decide you don’t like your theme, don’t worry, just go and choose another one! Personally I wouldn’t buy a theme at this stage, as it will take you a while to work out what is and isn’t important design-wise and you may go through quite a few themes before you find one you are happy with!
It is possible to spend several days, or even weeks, trying out themes and fiddling about with customisation. I advise you don’t…for now! Just pick something you are reasonably happy with and get on with writing some posts. You can come back and fiddle some more with themes and customisation later and it will be much easier to see how it will look once you have some content…
10. Write and publish your first blog post
Yey! You are finally ready to write your first post!! Hover over ‘Posts’ on the left hand side and then click on ‘Add New’.
Type the title of your post into the title box and then write your text in the field immediately below.
You could explain why you are starting your blog and the topics you plan to write about. Or you could just post your first recipe. If you want some inspiration, check out my first post – I kept it very simple and just outlined what I planned to do. I also used this as my about me page for a while.
To add pictures click on ‘Add Media’, ‘Upload Files’, ‘Select Files’ and then choose a picture from wherever you’ve saved it on your computer. Once the file has uploaded click on ‘Insert into post’, in the bottom right hand corner.
Down the right hand side you can choose whether to publish immediately or schedule it for sometime in the future (or even backdate a post). You can also create categories for your post – for example, I categorise mine according to whether it is a recipe/a review/a blogging tip etc. – and add tags. I usually tag key words – such as ingredients for my recipes. You can also set a featured image – which is the one that displays on your front page and is the associated image for Facebook / Twitter etc.
When you have written your post, added any images you want, plus any categories or tags, click publish (or schedule if you have selected a date in the future). This will publish your post for all the world to see.
You might see a message that says, “Your site is currently displaying a ‘Coming Soon’ page. Once you are ready to launch your site click here.” If so, click on the ‘click here’ link. (Or you can do what I did and hide behind that ‘Coming Soon’ page for a while whilst you sort your blog out a bit!)
Congratulations! You have just published your first post on your very own self-hosted WordPress blog.
I hope I’ve shown you how easy it is to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog through Bluehost! It might look like there are a lot of steps, but you can actually get through all 10 of these steps in about half an hour!
So what are you waiting for? Get started now! And let me know how you get on. I would love to be the first one to leave a comment on your newly created self-hosted blog!!
Wondering how blogging can possibly fill up hours and hours a day? Come back tomorrow and I’ll let you in behind the scenes to ‘A day in the life of a food blogger’.
Missed out on my previous blogiversary content? You can find it all here…
See you tomorrow!
**Just to let you know, scattered throughout this post are a few Bluehost affiliate links – if you buy web hosting from Bluehost after clicking on one of the Bluehost adverts, it doesn’t cost you any more, but I will get a small commission – thanks in advance! 🙂 **