If you’re wondering how to make a self hosted WordPress blog then know this: You are not alone. This is a question I get here at Dear Blogger several times each week, each day, sometimes each hour. WordPress is “the hard one”.
You need to “self-host” to use it.
It costs a bit of money (however I’ll show you how to get a great discount, and really, wouldn’t you rather pay a small amount to own your website than leave it up to some free service?)
The fact that WordPress, the same software powering CNN, NYTimes, Mashable and thousands of sites you read every day is available for you and I to use, from home, on our own is pretty amazing. So, let’s get started!
Make a Self Hosted WordPress Blog (aka a website or site)
The first step on your journey to create a self hosted WordPress blog is actually just to install the WordPress.org blog software. WordPress.org is originally a blogging software, but over time it has become incredibly flexible for websites. And it’s this flexibility that has lead brands like Time, Ariana Grande, Vogue, Tech Cruch, Forbes and more to use this software for their massive websites.
You can download the most current version at WordPress.org, but we’ll actually use our own web host to download/install it for us (hence, no coding) a bit further down in this article.
Does that make sense?
Let’s get a domain name, some inexpensive web-hosting, then install WordPress.org, and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
UPDATE: You can watch the video tutorial below to see how to create a self hosted WordPress blog using the beginner friendly Vantage WordPress theme. I made this video for anyone who wants to make a website for business, portfolio, eCommerce or client purposes.
Why joining WordPress is a must
No list of WordPress qualities ever seems complete, but here are three that stand out:
— WordPress has helped thousands of bloggers including yours truly make a living online from our homes and the opportunities only appear to be increasing. In short, join in.
— WordPress offers designs (they’re called “themes” in WordPress language) that can make your simple blog into a massive self hosted blog community, where you can start an entire community or online business of your own.
— WordPress has been winning a landslide victory over the past 10 years in terms of beginner support. You can always find an answer, either through Google, the WordPress codex, or best yet, right here 🙂
But the reality most often is none of us start blogging on WordPress because it is the harder one. We go for an easier outlet like Blogger, Tumblr or even Weebly.
As someone who showed up to his first blog conference on the West Coast with a Blogger blog to realize everyone else had WordPress I can relate. I moved my site and all my posts, readers, links and other belongings within about two weeks.
But if you’re up to a bit more of a challenge – and have a few bucks to invest each month – then I hope you’ll enjoy the simple guide to WordPress we’ve laid out right here. Let’s breeze through a few common questions, then step by step, holding hands, setup an entire self hosted WordPress blog.
What exactly is web-hosting?
WordPress is a free, open-source software that must be installed onto a server. This server is also known as web-hosting, and to be completely thorough, you are going to be getting some web-hosting server space. You basically put WordPress onto a server like you’d put a condo onto a plot of land.
Unless you know someone at Google, you’ll have to pay for your server space. To be clear, this space is what we WordPressers pay for. The WordPress software itself will always be free, and the newer versions that come out every few months are also free. Cool, huh? Think of this server like a computer that’s online 24/7, where you upload files just like you upload pictures to Facebook.
When you hear people talk about bandwidth and uptime, this all has to do with hosting website on a server. You want more bandwidth and 99.9% uptime, period.
The way we’ll set it up below is the most common route, and thankfully for us it involves no coding or tech know how besides basic internet knowledge and the ability to follow directions.
Okay, so where do I get hosting?
Time for another potential headache.
There are a lot of web hosts out there these days. Everyone seems to want our business, while (if you’re like me) we just want something simple to understand that will always work.
Your best choice today is going to be HostGator.
I’ve helped hundreds of readers setup WordPress with HostGator. Their QuickInstall is phenomenal, the backend is easy to look at, and we’re always happy with the result.
As they say, no host is perfect, but HostGator comes darn close and makes it fun in the process.
Prices are cheap, too, and the support is among the web’s best.
For example, a few months back I was working with a client who needed all of his articles and images moved from one self hosted WordPress blog to another. It was the dreaded domain name switch. I pulled up the live chat at HostGator, and a tech support rep spent two hours with me explaining the process. We cleared things up then and there, but he even let me know when he was going to be working again, so I could request him.
Most of us picture tech support as being awful and boring but it’s the opposite at HostGator, and that says a lot about what they value.
After doing some research, I found some more reviews here at Pinterest.
For example, one time I needed to move all of my self hosted WordPress blog content (logo, posts, menus) to a whole new site with a new domain name.
What about my domain name?
A domain name is something like www.google.com or www.twitter.com, and you get to choose a domain name all to yourself when you setup a self hosted WordPress blog or website (again, there are the same).
This domain won’t be a subdomain name like www.yourwebsite.tumblr.com, it will be your own, unique, fully-brandable www.yourwebsite.com address on the web.
You could also get a .org like I’ve done, or a .net, .biz, .co or whatever else is available.
You can register a domain name at HostGator, or use a domain name you already have, from GoDaddy for example.
What’s the cost of it all?
As I said, a big reason for my decision on hosting was that HostGator has low prices and sound support. I haven’t tried out all the other hosting options out there (there are hundreds) but was more eager to begin building the blog. HostGator’s most common shared hosting plan costs $5.56 per month, and unlike other blog hosts, you can get new user discounts too. The current discount is 20-33% off, however you can use our Dear Blogger coupon “BIGBONUS” to get 50-65% off your first order. I understand how money is tight on a new-blog budget, so definitely try this coupon if you’re using HostGator and enjoy saving a bit of money.
Tip: this discount applies to your first purchase, whether it’s for 1 month or 36 months, so you should estimate how long you want hosting (some folks keep it forever) and factor this in to maximize your savings.
Let’s get this started, shall we?
Alright, in the steps below we’ll setup a complete blog at HostGator. To be clear, the setup always starts at a blog host, and ends with you logging into your new WordPress.org blog.
Additionally, at response to popular demand, I’ve posted an under 10-minutes video below where we actually setup a complete blog then change some features.
Good lucky, and remember to ask any questions in the comments area.
So rest-assured, by the time you’re done here, you’ll have your own WordPress site up for all your friends and family to see. Well, once you’re done designing it, that is!
(The video even covers some crucial WordPress design features like themes, plugins, images, links and publishing a new post.)
Okay, here’s the guide itself! (with plenty of visuals so you don’t get lost)
How To Setup a Self Hosted WordPress.org Blog: Easy, No Code & Awesome 2017 Discounts for Beginners
If you skipped through the rather lengthily background above and just want to make a self-hosted blog of your own now, welcome! This will show you exactly the best way to create a self-hosted blog for the cheapest cost using the best tools. I’ve just updated this in January, 2017 and it’s the same process I use myself. You’ll need about an evening’s time to complete this. In this tutorial we use HostGator to register both the domain name and web hosting your self hosted blog needs. However if you already purchased a domain name from GoDaddy (or a similar registrar like NameCheap) which you’d like to use, please follow this tutorial.
Please note: If you sign up to HostGator through our affiliate links below you can get a better discount and this blog earns a small credit for referring you at zero cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Part A) Register hosting
Let’s begin! Head over to http://www.hostgator.com/greg to get increased discounts on the Hatchling or Baby plans, which are the best options and the most common choices for your first blog or website.
You’ll see the “Bonus!” logo at the top which means you’re in the right place.
If you’d rather not go through our affiliate link that’s fine! Just visit hostgator.com and click on Web Hosting in the upper left and you’ll get to the same page as our link above. Then follow the exact same process below. But the affiliate link guarantees you get the better discount described in detail below…so you should know about it!
Next, select your plan. The “Hatchling Plan” is what I recommend for beginners, and it’s where I started way back. You can always upgrade later on.
Click on the Buy Now! button.
Note: If your self hosted WordPress blog is part of your business, you can write off 100% of web-hosting and domain name costs in your annual taxes.
Now we are in the HostGator Order Form. There are 6 simple steps to register hosting. I’ll walk you through each of these steps now.
1. Choose a Domain
You can register a new domain name for $5.99/year or click I Already Own This Domain name and then pay HostGator nothing for your domain name. To do this you must have already registered a domain name at GoDaddy or another registrar.
In other words, this tutorial has you covered whether you have a domain name already or need to get one now. I’ve done it both ways (use a GoDaddy domain, and bought from HostGator). The HostGator option is a little cheaper now at $5.99 and it’s nice to have everything in the same place, so I recommend doing that, but either way is fine with your domain name!
If someone already has the domain name you selected, you’ll get an error message. It’s okay, try again. No harm done.
Once you have successfully entered your domain name, scroll down an uncheck Domain Privacy Protection because it’s an unnecessary cost.
Step 1 is done.
2. Choose a Hosting Plan
Make sure you select Hatchling for 12 months. Next, enter a Username and Security Pin. These will log you into HostGator’s billing portal should you need to later on.
3. Enter Your Billing Info
Just like any purchase from Amazon, eBay, Apple, Netflix, or wherever you like shopping online.
4. Add Additional Services
Or rather, not. Uncheck everything here and move on.
5. Enter a Coupon Code
Make sure to enter the coupon code ‘BIGBONUS’ to get an increased discount. HostGator offers a regular promotional coupon of 20-33% off but my coupon will save you on average 50-65% off! I check regularly with HostGator to see if there are any seasonal offers. So if it’s available, you’ll hear about it here.
If the coupon ‘BIGBONUS’ is already entered, you’re all set.
Using the coupons come at no additional cost to you and also gives us credit for referring you which allows me to keep making more free tutorials so I really appreciate if you use this coupon. Thanks!
Done and done.
6. Review Order Details
Make sure you have no Hosting Addons. In this screenshot we have a domain name for $5.99 and hosting for $37.59, perfect. These two numbers combine to make the red number of $43.58, which is a great deal. Your numbers may vary slightly, let me know any questions in the comments.
Once you’re happy with your order details, check the box for I have read… and then click Checkout Now.
You’ll get a screen like this one welcoming you to the HostGator family (nice!) and it’s now time to check your email to continue.
In your inbox, after a couple minutes, you’ll see two emails from HostGator. Open up the one titled HostGator.com Your Account Info.
Part B) Change your nameservers
This is just a sample from a previous blog I made, but your email will look just like this one. You now want to write down your Nameserver 1 and Nameserver 2. We’ll use these to connect your domain to your hosting.
If you bought both domain and hosting from HostGator, we’ll need to connect your domain to your hosting now. It’s very easy and I’ll show you how now. If you visit your new site, you’ll see something like this.
Click on where the arrow points.
Back in your inbox, open up the second email from HostGator titled Thank you for choosing HostGator! Use the Login name and Password in this email to login to your Billing Portal.
Once in the Billing Portal, click on the Domains tab, then click on the gear icon beside your domain name.
You will see this screen above, and it’s time to enter those Nameservers from the first HostGator email. Then save them. After a couple more moments, you’ll see this screen on your site.
This means it’s time to begin installing WordPress! Great job so far!
Part C) Installing WordPress.org
Note: If you bought your domain name elsewhere, for example at GoDaddy, you need to enter your HostGator nameservers there now before proceeding.
Once you’re done entering in your new nameservers, head back to the email titled HostGator.com Your Account Info. Click on the link called Your Control Panel to get to where we will WordPress.
Clicking on the Control Panel Link will take you to the screen right below. Login to cPanel using the Username and Password from your Your Account Info email.
Note: Got any questions so far? Drop a comment or consult the live chat feature at HostGator.
So you’re now inside the brand new HostGator cPanel called Paper Lantern! Beautiful, isn’t it? I think so, I’ve seen several generations of cPanel!
Ok, enough reminiscing, let’s move forward.
Click on the link at the top that says WordPress Installer.
Choose your domain name from the drop down list, then leave the white box to the right of it blank. Click Next.
Next, enter in some basic blog info. You can change most of this later, but make sure to get your email correct and pick a good username – this will be your new WordPress username!
Make sure your screen looks exactly like mine above (except with your own information) then click Install Now.
Great job! You’ve just installed your own copy of WordPress for free and it’s the same thing the pros use.
You can go celebrate now if you’d like for about 15 minutes. Then come back and click the link in the upper right that says My Installs.
Change your WordPress password. Save.
Now click on the link that says Admin Login.
Then, bookmark your login link (which is always http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin) now before you forget it. I prefer having it on the browser bookmark tabs, but up to you.
Login to WordPress for the first time using your new password you just made, and your Username. Welcome to WordPress! You did it!
p.s. Here’s another Dear Blogger produced WordPress tutorial if you’re eager to create more of a website feel than a blog. Remember, you can do anything with your new WordPress, don’t get stuck on a theme that doesn’t work or editing small details when you could be creating new content. You’re a pro now, so act like one 🙂 Enjoy!
Conclusion: Welcome to WordPress.org!
And as usual, thanks for using another Dear Blogger guide!
Lastly, while I tried to be super exhaustive I know you still have some questions, so post those in the comments. Someone from the community is always handy to help out, and you’re guaranteed to learn something new.
If you want to learn more about designing your new blog and adding blog features, go here.
To create a professional business website out of it instead, go here.
On my YouTube channel you can find tons of free advice on WordPress design, SEO, monetization and more. I hope you can subscribe!
p.s. If you did find this guide helpful for your blog or business, it would be cool if you could hit share (Like, Tweet, whatever!) to help a few more readers learn WordPress blogging and setup a self hosted WordPress blog! Cheers and best of luck — Greg