Step 1: Register a domain name
Okay, I skipped the part where you decide what to name your blog and thus, your online persona but that’s kinda like naming a baby so… not exactly “quick.”
To self-host your blog, you’re going to have to own your own domain name. So assuming you have some ideas on what you want that to be head over to Go Daddy and start searching for one. As an example, registering www.myveryownblog.com could cost anywhere from $5-20/year.
Alternatively, you can go the free blog route on any number of platforms. In which case, your blog url would look like this: www.myveryownblog.com.wordpress.com or www.myveryownblog.blogspot.com or www.myverownblog.weebly.com. Frankly, I can’t think of a compelling reason why you wouldn’t self-host your blog since it allows you more control of how you use your content (monetization, added functionality and such).
Step 2: Sign up for a host account
There are all sorts of different hosting packages out there but unless you plan on running an e-commerce site, shared hosting is usually sufficient for a blog. For example, I happen to use Bluehost for My Mommy Manual but I use a private host for Hopeful World because we get bursts of traffic for our online classes. Some other popular options are Host Gator, 1&1, and DreamHost.
Each of these work a little bit differently so you’ll have to do a little legwork on which one makes sense for you. Once you’ve decided which platform to use, most will have to be installed on your hosting account. Almost every host will have a step-by-step instructions on how to do that. I know firsthand that with Bluehost, there’s a button in the control panel that says WordPress — pretty easy.
Step 4: Make your site look all pretty
All of the platforms have ways to “skin” your content… or make it look a certain way by applying “style sheets” to all the different elements, like headlines, subheads, comments, body text etc.
You could go a number of routes when designing how your brand new blog looks: A) Hire a blog designer, B) Pick a free/premium theme, C) Pick a theme and customize it for your site.
Again, I’m reference my sites to give you some tangible examples of what that means. My Mommy Manual uses a theme called Headway. I customized it myself by adding the torn paper header graphic and the cork board background image to go with our visual branding. Hopeful World is also built on WordPress but instead of using an off-the-shelf theme, we worked with a designer to develop and implement the look.
The quickest way from A to B is using WordPress with a standard theme that is already installed. In the “backroom” a.k.a. the WordPress Dashboard, there’s a tab called Appearance. You’ll be able to activate any of the pre-installed themes from there as well as follow the prompts to upload, install and activate any other free or premium themes you want.
Do a search for “WordPress Themes” and you’ll find that you can go a long way with a well-designed off-the-shelf theme and a great header.
Congratulations! You are the proud mama of a new blog!
As I write this, I’m realizing that I could go down the rabbit hole of details for each of these steps. Consider this an overview, with the most straightforward options for right now. If you leave your specific questions in the comments, I’ll make sure to cover them in more detail over the next few weeks.