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Hoping to start a blog and looking for clear, succinct step by step instructions on how to do so? This guide will take you through starting a blog with Bluehost as your website host and Namecheap as your domain. This is exactly what I (Gemma) did for two of my online businesses.
I am assuming you have already decided on a unique brand name that makes sense for your niche and is easy to understand. If not, scroll to the bottom of this post to read my advice on choosing a name and the importance of branding.
Bluehost – Affordable Hosting
When I first starting this travel website, Two Scots Abroad, I had no clue about hosting, domains or anything technical related but I wanted to share stories during my 18-month sabbatical to travel the Americas and Europe.
I asked friends who had sites and they all suggested signing up with Bluehost.
Many bloggers recommend Bluehost because they have an affiliate programme. This means they make commission (money) when you buy through their referral link.
This isn’t a negative thing, online businesses should get paid for their work but not every site has actually used Bluehost themselves before recommending.
Bluehost was my host for the first 1.5 years of blogging because they are affordable and have 24/7 online support which I used frequently during meltdowns.
When my contract was up, I moved to Siteground and then when my traffic grew massively (thanks to learning SEO, see other recommended resources below) I moved more expensive options which you won’t need to consider in your first year or even two depending on your traffic.
I now have another two new sites which use Bluehost.
Namecheap – Buy Your Domain
Before we go into how to sign up for Bluehost you need a domain.
That’s the www. URL that people use to find your website.
For domains, I use Namecheap as I like to keep my domain and host separate.
However, some site owners also purchase their domain from hosts like Bluehost. It’s your choice.
How To Use Namecheap
- Brainstorm brand name ideas
- Use the Namecheap search function to check availability of the .com domain
- Create an account, sign in and purchase
- I also recommend buying the .co.uk etc version of your domain to stop competitors stepping on your grass
- Namecheap will send an email asking you to confirm your purchase
Now that you have your .com domain, it’s time to buy hosting.
- Go to Bluehost
- Choose the level of hosting from Basic through to Pro
- Sign up and purchase
- Keep a record of your password as you need this to get into your account in the next step
- Make sure you use the correct email address. Customer service send a code to your inbox before any session
Point Namecheap Domain to Bluehost Hosting
Now you have a host (Bluehost) which will keep your website online and a domain (Namecheap) which people can use to find your website.
However, both a separate so you need to migrate them.
- Sign in to your Namecheap account
- Go to Domain List
- Select the .com and hit the manage button
- Look for ‘nameservers’
- Choose ‘Custom DNS’
- Sign in to your Bluehost account
- Go to Domains and select the manage button
- Copy nameserver 1 into Namecheap
- Copy nameserver 2 into Namecheap
- Click the green tick in Namecheap
- A note will say it can take up to 48 hours for the nameservers to point to Bluehost however it tends to take around 12 hours in my experience
- You will see a Bluehost ‘website coming soon’ page when the process has finished
- While you are in the Bluehost account, go to ‘profile’ and unselect the option that says Bluehost can place ads on 404 pages which is the page people land on if you’ve broken a URL link by removing a post without redirecting
WordPress and Themes
Now that the tricky tech-related stuff is done you can crack on with the fun design process.
I use WordPress to post pages, posts and manage plugins.
I recommend the premium theme Flatsome which can be found at Envato Marketplace for the design for websites.
It has an easy to use but lightweight page builder which is like building blocks.
You can start up WordPress by logging into your Bluehost account and selecting WordPress.
Adding a Theme
Once you’ve purchased Flatsome, you have download the file and then upload the parent and child theme to WordPress.
You do this in the theme section in Appearance on the left-hand side menu.
Then you activate Flatsome and start building using the child theme. Just remember to avoid hitting publish until you are ready to launch.
Bluehost recommends a handful of plugins which you can keep or deactivate and delete if you wish.
I recommend avoiding Jetpack as it is heavy. It’s the first plugin site owners are told to lose during site speed evaluations and consultations. You can learn more about site speed in my course at Make Traffic Happen.
Plugins change in reliability depending on how often they are updated.
Here are a few that are currently in use:
- Yoast or Rank Math for SEO structure support
- Antispam Bee to separate spam comments from genuine comments on posts
- Classic Editor for WordPress if you don’t want to learn how to use Gutenberg
- Contact Form 7 for you about us page
- GA Google Analytics where you can add you UA code and track page views etc
- Table of Contents Plus if you want a TOC on posts
The key to plugins is to use a little as possible and to avoid any that are not looked after/updated as those vulnerabilities can cause hacking attacks.
Ready To Launch
Once you are happy with the way the website looks and you have a couple of posts to promote you can launch the website.
You will see a bright flag at the top of WordPress which says ‘coming soon’.
Click that and launch! Congratulations.
Getting Started – Branding
1. What Do You Want to Write About?
The more niche the topic, the easier it will be to compete in the sea of other content creators.
I’ve realised this the hard way.
In this era of blogging, you can’t survive without a niche.
Having a niche helps you target an audience on social media better, create a community via Facebook groups/podcasts/YouTube, shows Google you are an authority on a topic and makes sense for email marketing.
Why have a general audience of 1000 where one might read a guide or buy a product when you can have an audience of 50 of trust your every recommendation?
It also makes pitching companies via email, networking and at events more effective.
2. Create a Name
Avoid overused words.
For example in travel – Wanderlust, Adventure, Nomad.
Avoid controversial words.
For example in travel – Tribe, Gypsy.
Avoid nicknames and the obscure.
You want to be memorable but you don’t want your potential audience to struggle with your brand name.
Use a world cloud like the wonderful The World Pursuit did (isn’t that name just dreamy?)
You now need to ensure that your name is available as a domain.
Next step is to secure the social media channels – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest and Flipboard.
Google your potential name. Is it clear or are you competing with a well-known brand, product or service?
3. Colours and Logos
Next is the fun part.
Consider what colours make sense for your brand.
Use this in your profile image, as your hyperlink hover colour on your website, for callout boxes on posts, feature it in your newsletter etc.
For your logo, you want to ensure it stands out and looks clear in a small circle for social media profile images.
Test it out Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin.
Add it to your email signature, Gmail profile and about us page/widget in the sidebar.
Other Relevant Content
So now you have a website and brand you will want to develop your skills.
Every successful blogger will say they wish they learned Seach Engine Optimisation (SEO) and implemented from the start.
You can sign up for a series of free SEO lessons with Make Traffic Happen here, join our free Facebook group for traffic and business support, read free resources on our site and/or purchase our guide, SEO The Easy Way here.