Thomas Mondel Writer. Thinker. Blogger.

The Complete Guide To Creating A Successful Blog

My resource for your that shows you all the technical stuff you need to know, demonstrates you that it isn’t all that complicated and makes you avoid common mistakes! Follow this easily laid out action plan you simply have to follow to kickstart your blogging experience right from the start!

So you want to create an awesome blog? I am glad you are here.

This is my complete guide on how to create a successful blog from scratch.

  • The guide shows you why you NEED to create your own personal website.
  • It will guide you through on all the important planning steps you should take to make it become successful.
  • It will help you with installation and hosting of your very own blog.
  • It shows you all the tools and teaches you all the technological stuff you need to run your blog.
  • It demonstrates you that it is not really that complicated as it might seem at first.
  • The guide offers you a clear action plan you can simply follow step-by-step.
  • It will teach you what you have to think about when starting out and helps you with your planning phase.
  • And it points out all the common mistakes and how to avoid them!

NOTE: It makes no sense to blindly rush forward to getting your blog up without any clear vision in mind. When I first made the decision to write a blog I had NO idea what I was trying to get out of this. I just wanted to write and contribute something (which might be a very noble gesture in itself, but as with everything in life, without a clear vision and direction you are heading, you are just spinning around in circles).

So let’s say I made this mistake for you and you can skip it for yourself! =)

I offer you my guidance and experience and when you follow the steps mentionend in this article, you are on the best way to create your own successful blog!

OK. Let’s dive into it.

I structured this guide as simple as I could. There will be questions you should ask yourself.

Take this serious and people will take you and your blog serious later!

The more effort you are putting into finding the right answers NOW and creating a precise vision for yourself, the less pain and frustration you might feel later, so I am trying to save you some time here.

LAST PIECE OF ADVICE BEFORE WE START: Don’t be so stupid like the little past me and tell yourself that you can “think about this when it is needed”. Do it BEFORE you start your blog and before you invested huge amounts of hours into your blog, your content and your marketing. 

OK, here it is for real now!

As I hinted at before, this guide is really big. I’ve tried to cover pretty much everything I could think of. Therefore, I’ve actually added a Table of Contents. You might find it useful if you need to refer back to a specific section of the guide in the future.

[toc]

Preparation

Get ready to create something great! Prepare to build something awesome!

Round 1: You Need To Create Your Own Blog

you need to create a blog

You need to create your own blog. But since you are already here. I guess I don’t really have to convince you anymore.

Still, if you are still unsure about that whole blogging stuff, hear me out:

If you want to look good to recruiters, establish yourself as an expert, and help other people, then a blog can do nothing but good things for you.

There are so many benefits in starting your own blog. Here are my biggest reasons for starting out with that blog:

  • Teach Other People Useful & Helpful Stuff
  • Become A Better Writer
  • Establish Yourself As An Expert In Your Field
  • Build An Amazing Network With Likeminded People
  • Learn Impressive Marketing Skills
  • Build A Powerful Resume
  • Become Incredibly Attractive To Recruiters
  • Solidify Your Knowledge Though Teaching And Applying
  • Get Access To Well-Known People
  • Learn Useful Technical Skills
  • Learn Important Life Lessions
  • Become Solution-Oriented And More Positive About Life
  • Express Yourself and Your Ideas
  • Become A True Leader Of People
  • Make Money

You should also check out: 18 Awesome Benefits Of Blogging

Round 2: Avoid Free Blog Hosting

avoid free blog hosters

A lot of people recommend free hosting providers (like Blogger, Tumblr & WordPress.com). And although blogging is free there, choosing this option comes with some downsides. Let me first explain what the main difference is in self-hosting and free hosting providers.

Free hosting providers (like WordPress.com):

  • Free to set up
  • Occasionally shows ads
  • Limited selection of themes
  • Limited ability to customize
  • Cannot be used to make money
  • Support available
  • Spam and security protection included
  • You don’t really OWN your blog (this was a deal-breaker for me!)

Self-hosting (like WordPress.org):

  • Requires a paid host
  • No ads unless they are your own
  • Unlimited free and paid themes
  • Design and customize your own themes/features etc.
  • Use it for anything you like
  • Support available
  • Additional free plugins available

What is a freely hosted blog?

The freely hosted blogs are the ones that most people turn to when they want to give blogging a try. I did the same when I was first starting out. The common ones include Blogger, WordPress.com (very different from self-hosted WordPress), Tumblr, Live Journal, etc. You sign up for an account and they give you a blog. But you never really own it. You have no access to the server backend and your customization options are very limited. =(

Why are they good?

These blogs are great if you are really early on in your career and you want something that is free and easy to use with minimal chance of mucking it up. They are easy to set up (basically just a registration), but your blog will never become successful because you don’t really OWN it. Each of these sites does have its own advantages and will work well for some people. However, I have always believed that their limitations far outweigh their advantages.

Why are they not good enough for real money making?

If you want to grow a blog or a website to make money you need your own domain name and self hosted blog. The free ones are just too limiting. So why aren’t they good enough?

  • Very limited control Most free blogs don’t allow you to tweak the coding which makes up the framework of the site. This might sound a bit daunting for a beginner but one day you will need to get in there and change the code (or pay someone to) in order to add new features and updates.
  • You don’t own it The biggest drawback for me is that you don’t really own your blog – the provider does. Why would you want to spend years building up an asset that you don’t fully own or control? That is a deal breaker for me.
  • Not as good for Google rankings It is well known that Google doesn’t give as much weight to free blogs on their search results. Why? Because they don’t rate them as being as authoritative. By hosting your own blog with your own domain name you are signalling to Google that you mean business.
  • Limited design options On a self hosted blog you can upload your own themes, hire designers, etc. You can tweak the layout and change the total look and feel. With a free blog you often can’t. You are normally stuck with whatever the free blog host offers which means that your blog will look like a lot of others.
  • Bad for branding Something a lot of people don’t realize is how important it is to have your own domain name. Now, you can do this on some of the free hosts now but it is mostly the area of self hosted blogs. This is very important for building up your brand over the years.

The most flexible, powerful and professional way to run your blog is with its own domain name and own host.

What is the main disadvantage of a self-hosted blog?

Some people say that it is more complicated to start a self-hosted blog but that really isn’t true. These days hosts like HostGator have one-click WordPress installation, which makes starting a blog in fact super easy! HostGator also has 24 hour live support. You can always just chat with their support team. This was super helpful when I was first starting out and had some technical questions. They will help you with any problems you have along the way. They even helped me with my domain transfer when I was moving my freely hosted blog to a self-hosted one. You can believe me, that I would have been better off just starting out with a self-hosted blog. I would have saved a lot of trouble and additional overhead work.

What are the costs of a self hosted blog?

The beauty of this is that it is really, really cheap to host your own blog. All you need is a domain and a hosting package from HostGator for $3.96 a month. This is a special discounted rate HostGator has given my readers. By entering the coupon code “thomasmondel” you even get 25% off the initial package price.

Round 3: See The Benefits For Yourself

  • Why don’t you just try and see the benefits for yourself?
  • Try it out for yourself and see how it changes you as a person.
  • Stick with it for a year or two and then look back.
  • See how you have changed, what person you have become.
  • If you like the new you, you can keep going.
  • If not, you can stop and do something else.
  • But you should always at least try something before you judge it.
  • Never depend on second hand experience, try to get first hand experience in everything you do in life.

REMEMBER: “I tried something new and I didn’t like it.” Is aways a better story than “I don’t know, I have never done that.”

The Planning Phase

OK the preparation is done. Now it’s time to get into the planning stuff.

This is important, take it seriously.

Before you start out and dive into blogging, answer yourself the questions I have put together for you in this section of the guide and think about it in depth. It is easy to rush into some new business because you are all excited and stuff, but it makes no sense to skip the necessary planning to make it all work. You need a pre-defined roadmap that shows you were you are heading.

The more time you spend creating a solid action plan, the better off you are later and the better will be your results.

Step 1. Find Your Reason

Why are you doing this?

why so serious about blogging

Everything great starts with an even greater mindset. You have to adapt that mindset for yourself. The question “Why are you doing this?” should be the question you spend the most time thinking about. Try to answer these questions for yourself.

  • Why are you actually creating that blog?
  • What is your motivation?
  • What is your drive?
  • Why do you think you want to do this?

Find out why you are so passionate about doing this. Write it down. Then put it somewhere, where you can see it every day.

WHY SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THAT NOW? The more specific you are about this (which you should be) the easier it will become later for you to persevere. Creating a successful blog takes time. It takes a lot of energy. There will be up and downs and you might feel frustrated from time to time. There will be times when content is just flowing out of your brain but there will also be times when you don’t get anything done at all. The more clear you are about why you are doing this, the easier it will be for you later when times are tough and nothing feels like working. A GREAT REASON behind your action actually fuels your motivation and acts as an additional drive.

Step 2. Choose Your Topic

What is the purpose of your blog?

Your blog should have one purpose. And you should also be clear about what this is. You have to know and your readers want to know as well. When I first started out my idea of blogging was something like “I just write about some stuff I care about and then I will see”. Similar to that very vague purpose were my results in the end. Don’t let this be you. Make yourself clear on what your purpose of your blog is.

Here are some examples:

  • Personal branding
  • Offering some kind of services
  • Promoting and selling products
  • Providing valuable content
  • Making money?
  • Connecting people of similar interest
  • Creating a new customer base
  • Increasing your business reach
  • Networking with similar-minded people
  • Sharing your point of view with the world
  • Offering your expertise
  • etc.

These are just some examples, you can have your own. The most important aspect is that you are conscious about what it is. Don’t just go without any clear idea in mind.

Be professional and plan ahead.

WHY SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THAT NOW?

People have to know what is up on your blog. There has to be a strong connection between your blog and the topic you are trying to cover. And this bond can only be created when you stick to your own rules. Nobody is interested in subscribing to a fitness blog and then suddenly getting mails about finances, because YOU believe that it is important as well. Give people more of what they expect you to give them. When you are focusing at too much at once and try to cover too much different topics on your website, your readers just get scattered and confused (or even pissed off). You simply create better connections by sticking to your blog’s purpose.

Step 3. Define Your Audience

What is your target group?

blog audience

You HAVE to make yourself clear about what kind of people you are trying to reach with your content. Imagine the “perfect” reader that would be interested in exactly that very content you are providing. Then structure everything around providing the most helpful and most valuable content to exactly that kind of person.

  • How old is your ideal reader?
  • Are you more focused on women or men or both?
  • Why would that person benefit from your content?
  • What are the interests of this person?
  • What are his hobbies?
  • How does he spend his time?
  • Is he single or living in a relationship or is this even important for your blog’s topic?
  • If you would be in his shoes, would you like what you see?
  • Is the content you put out there something that you would share with your friends?
  • Would you come back for more?
  • How can you satisfy such a person and even give them more than they expect?
  • WHAT ARE THEIR NEEDS?
  • usw.

Ask yourself questions like this.

WHY SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THAT NOW?

The more you think about the “ideal” person that reads your blog, the easier it is for your to shape your content towards helping this type of person the best. You can never please everybody and everyone, but you can always help SOME people. You have to fit everything on your blog to matching the needs of the readers that care the most about the value that you provide. Take enough time to think about this (and write everything down). It will make stuff so much easier later when it comes to content creating.

Step 4. Find Your Value

What enables you to provide value in that niche?

albert einstein blog value

Ye we are all very special… But now for real, what sets you apart from all the others? Think about what kind of experiences in your life allow you to fulfil that role you are promising to your readers.

Here are just some pointers:

  • You have x experience in your field which makes you an expert.
  • You have gone through a challenging life experience and you can talk about it to help others.
  • You have made some mistakes and want others to avoid them.
  • You learned some valuable life lessons and you want to provide your insights to your readers.
  • You have some special talents which might help other people.
  • etc.

Whatever you have that you are offering, I am pretty sure are certain that it might improve other people’s life in one way or the other. Make yourself clear what this qualities/services are and communicate them to your target audience.

WHY SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THAT NOW?

Creating a loyal and happy fan base in your target audience builds on providing honest communication, providing true value. You have to make yourself clear why you believe that your services are valuable to other people and what you can offer them and why. And they as well might be interested in it too. There are thousands of blogs and influences out there, options are literally endless. If you don’t even know why they should read your stuff, how should your readers know?

Step 5. Think About The Monetization

How will you monetize your blog?

blog show me the money

A lot of people are into blogging lately because they feel like it is THE big thing. They believe that it is an easy and fast income source. You just write some articles and people will come and make you rich. But the longer you are into that whole entrepreneur stuff you will realize that it is never like this, not even remotely.

Success (in any area of your life) takes time.

You get “paid” for the amount of value you offer to people.

Always try to help people:

  • Reach THEIR goals.
  • Find the information THEY are looking for,
  • Improve THEIR lifes,
  • Or enrich THEM in any way or form.

Put the focus on other people! The more you help them, the more they will appreciate your efforts and it will come right back at you in the form of you making some money. You have to keep that money stuff in your mind, but it should not be your primary focus on creating that blog in the first place. This should not be your drive. There are actually endless ways of making money blogging and there are even more posts on the internet about doing so. I will give you here just a little summary to give you the general idea:

  • Google AdSense (or any other ad provider)
  • Amazon’s affiliate program (like I put them on some of the links here on my blog)
  • E-Book sales
  • Continuity Programs (a continuity program is a site where you earn a recurring income from people who subscribe to a service you offer)
  • Offering your services (like software development or graphic design jobs)
  • etc.

You can literally do anything. Just think about being of service to OTHERS and provide great value. And always overdeliver: give more than people expect. They will thank you later.

WHY SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THAT NOW?

You have to have a clear goal on what your monetization looks like. If you want to display ads you have to keep that in mind when it comes to select your blog design. When you want to use affiliate programs you might structure your blog around writing product reviews or any other way or form to recommend the stuff to people and show them that it has value. When you are offering services you have to think about maybe structuring your blog differently and redirecting people to a landing page, etc. When you want to sell e-books, you have to think about creating that one too, etc. Different scenarios arise different questions and the sooner you think about them all, the sooner you can start with a clear vision in mind.

Step 6. Structure It Carefully

What will your blog represent?

You have already thought about what the purpose of your blog willl be, but you also have to think about what it will represent.

  • Will it be about yourself (think personal branding)?
  • Will it be about the services you offer?
  • Will you create a new brand? Or are you the brand itself? (thomasmondel.com)
  • Are you aiming to create a community around a specific topic?

WHY SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THAT NOW?

Depending on the answers to these questions you should adapt your domain name for your blog, structure and layout. My website is actually my personal branding page AND also the landing page for my blog. So it actually fulfills both functions. Some people separate them, but I decided to merge them into one since it is both part of myself and I also wanted to project that onto my visitors. Whatever you decide to do with your blog, make the decision early on, to avoid unnecessary domain transfers and content shifts (no fun).

Step 7. Name That Little Fellow

What will be your blog title?

name your blog

Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Your domain name should be easy to remember and easy to spell to avoid any issues with finding it.
  • Do not use “-” or any other separators as far as possible since it will just make the url more complicated.
  • For personal branding you should definitely choose something like yourfullname.com.
  • If it should no longer be available, put some initials between your first name and last name.
  • Try to avoid adding numbers as best as you can (except is is part of your blog’s brand of course). It just doesn’t  look great and makes a rather unprofessional impression.
  • Think about yourfullname.com as your personal branding webpage. It represents you in the world wide web. You can always create seperate websites for all the services you offer (for example like a blog or a special product you created). Or you just merge it together just like I did.
  • Try to get yourself a .com adress.
  • Check if your URL for your blog name is available.

If you are not sure about whether a domain is taken or not follow these steps here to find out:

1. Follow this link. It will bring up the HostGator webpage you see in the image below.

domain click

2. Click the “DOMAINS” button marked in the image. This will lead you to a form where you can search for the availability of your desired desired domain names. new domain name

3. You can easily try out different domain names and endings and see which one you like best.

Here are some examples on how NOT to do it:

  • dont-seperate-your-url.com
  • dontusestrangeextensions.biz
  • dontusenumbers6432.com

Don’t overcomplicate, we don’t need complicated!

Some things to consider when thinking up a blog name:

  • By reading the title, do people easily get what my blog is about?
  • Could you easily say it in conversation (and is the spelling obvious?)
  • How many words should it contain? (three are OK, two are probabely better tough)
  • Make it stand out! You don’t want it to look like every other blog name out there.
  • Make it visual. If people associate your name with something visual, that will make it more memorable.
  • Make sure it’s spelled like it sounds. You don’t want people to be constantly misspelling it because it’s “ie” instead of “ey”.
  • Keep it simple. If your name is complex or long-winded, people might be less likely to remember it!
  • Start deciding on the graphics as you come up with the name. People are more likely to remember your blog if there are “iconic” graphics or visuals that go along with it.

Since you are in it for the long run you have to spend some really good quality time into thinking about this whole naming stuff. Of course you can rename it later, by moving to another domain, but this is usually confusing for your readers and also quite some trouble for yourself, that is easily avoided by thinking about it in the first place.

Conclusion:

  • Do your research. Find out how popular or unique your name really is. You want one that stands out; one that no one else has.
  • Match your domain and social media accounts to your name. Make sure your name is consistent across all platforms.
  • Decide what kind of name you want. Do you want one that clearly describes your blog? Or do you want a 100% unique word or phrase that has no obvious meaning?
  • Take your time. Don’t create your name on a whim. Once you come up with an idea, don’t immediately create your blog. Think about it for a few days and let it “sit” in your mind. Does it still sound good in the morning?

WHY SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THAT NOW?

Your domain name is like your digital representation of yourself. Think about your domain as the postsign to your products and services. It is where people can find you and what you get assosiated with. And the easier they can find you the more happy customers you reach.

Step 8. Select Your Social Media Networks

What networks will you integrate into your blog?

guide social media

There are a lot of social networks out there, the following list includes the most important ones for growing your blog:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Goodreads
  • StumbleUpon
  • Pinterest

In this planning phase you should think about what networks you will focus on.

I definitely recommend you at least going with Facebook, Twitter and Google+, since these three are the ones where you will generate the most traffic for your blog.

For personal branding LinkedIn is a great choice too.

Add YouTube if you are into video blogging and want to create additional tutorials or promotional videos.

Also answer the following questions for yourself (be decisive):

  • Will you use your private accounts?
  • Or do you want to create a facebook page for your blog?
  • Same goes with Google+: personal account or Google+ page?
  • Will you tweet on your personal Twitter account? Or do you create a new one?

This all might be very confusing for you (it definitely was for me), but let me help you.

Just remember this little rule:

  • If you are creating a personal website about yourself and your services  ==> go with your private accounts and establish a brand about yourself.
  • If you are creating a seperate blog about some topic, product or service you offer ==> go with seperate pages and accounts to make the product stand for itself.

Also check beforehand if your blog title is available on all these platforms.

WHY SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THAT NOW?

Again, putting in some thought here before you start out helps you to avoid some problems later. You might not want to spam your friends about the new fitness blog you created all the time. You might not want to mix your personal facebook and your new blog at all. I believe it is always better to keep things seperated. It is common to have a personal website about yourself and your services and products. It glues everything together and somebody searching you will find a great portfolio about you and the stuff you do in your life. But try to keep things seperated as much as possible and let everything stand as its own entity.

Step 9. Set Goals For Yourself

What are your goals with your blog?

blog goalls

In order to get things done, you need to define that very things! Don’t make the same mistakes that I did and just start writing with no specific blogging goals in mind.

Here are some examples of what I would call GOOD blogging goals:

  • Creating a daily writing habit (this does not mean to post a new article everyday, but definitely working on your craft!)
  • Post x articles per week
  • Get x new subscribers to your blog this week
  • Write x guestposts for other relevant blogs in this month
  • Finish your ebook by the end of this month
  • Find a new mentors and like-minded people that can support you with your blog
  • Analyse your blog stats (like visitors, page views, visit duration etc. and think about improving them)
  • Find additional ways to bring more value to your visitors.
  • etc.

Set clear goals and you will be able to measure your progress. This is crucial, because whatever you don’t measure, you will not see. And when you not see any progress for a certain period of time, you will quit.

That is also the reason why I am so hyped about this little gadget here: Pick Four. I mentioned it already in my Tools section of this blog. I really believe it is the best tool for setting (and achieving) goals I found so far. It is basically a simple workbook where you have to define 4 goals you are working towards in the next 12 weeks. 12 weeks is a long enough time to get things done, but also not too long to get all worried about weird stuff! Since you write down what you did to getting closer to your goal EVERY day, the “streak” effect and momentum you gain are invaluable. (Also, you might also feel disencouraged to write “nothing” into your today’s column which might be an additional push for yourself to keep going).

WHY SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THAT NOW?

Without any goals in mind, you will have less drive, because you are disconnected from the bigger picture. You feel less challenged and you might never get into real great momentum. Don’t miss out on this powerful force that is called “setting goals”. It can really drag you towards higher levels of achievements, and make you become somebody you never thought you are capable of becoming. It makes measuring your progress super easy because you have the facts and stats right in front of you. You either wrote 2 articles this week, or you didn’t. Without precise goals progress will be nearly impossible for you too see and you will quit.

Step 10. Create a Content Plan

What are you going to write about?

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Holy moly, batman! This is the last step of the planning phase. The planning is nearly done and you are just one step away from beginning to create your blog. Don’t get uber excited now and skip this one, since it might be one of the most important parts of this guide and contains some valueable pointers you should keep in mind when creating new content for your blog. In short: You need to have a detailed content plan about your blog. What do I mean by this? Let me explain. By now, you have defined your audience already, you know what they want and how you can help them. You know your blogs purpose. But a purpose alone can be a very broad topic and writing about everything is like writing about nothing.

Always keep in mind what you are trying to achieve with the article you are about to write.

Here are some pointers:

  • Does it serve the general idea of the blog?
  • Will it be usefull for somebody in my target audience?
  • Would my readers recommend this to other like-minded people?
  • Will it help them in any shape, way or form so that their life get’s greatly improved?

With these questions in mind, sit down and come up with at least 20 blog titles for your future blog! List them and tweak the titles until you feel happy with them. Then look at them and ask yourself:

  • Do they convey value?
  • Would somebody in my target audience (just by reading this blog title) be interested in reading it?
  • Is the purpose of this post clear?
  • Is it short enough? (it should be less than 70 characters or else to search engines will cut it off)
  • Could you change something about them to improve any of the above?
  • Rinse and repeat until you are happy with your first 20 blog titles.

WHY SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THAT NOW?

Having ideas for your first content ready acts as an addiontal boost once your blog is up and running. You will feel excited and pushed to hammer them down and publish them. This drive can be a great source of momentum for you once you finished this guide and created your blog. Also, having some potential blog post titles ready makes it super easy to lay down the structure, put in some thought afterwards and greatly accelerates writing them. I will tackle the topic of writing awesome content later in that guide. But for now write down your first 20 blog titles. Afterwards your training is done, my young padawan! In the next chapter of this guide you will be FINALLY create your very own blog!

Building Your Blog From Scratch

Wow we are about to create your very own blog! Starting a WordPress blog is super simple with HostGator. In fact, it only takes a few clicks. Building your blog won’t involve any coding. You just have to click through a couple of setup routines. I will show you exactly what do to and guide you through the whole process. Believe me: the planning stuff was MUCH harder than the things that you will get confronted with in this section!

You will see, it is really super easy!

One of my goals here is to make all the processes I tackle for you very easy to follow and for you to understand.

Let’s get it right the first time around!

Note: I will earn a small commission if you buy a hosting package from one of my links. Still, there will be NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank for your support!

Level 1: Get Yourself A Domain and Hosting

Click here to open HostGator in a new window (and earn 25% off the initial payment package) and then follow the tutorial below. It will take you through the setup process – step by step. It should take around 10 minutes.

As I said before: HostGator is the hosting provider of my choice. Although there are many different hosting providers out there, I have always been working with them. Here are the main reasons I picked them in the first place and sticked to them until now!

  • They are super reliable! Servers and backup servers are always up and running and there never was an incident were my blog was not available.
  • They offer 24h LIVE CHAT SUPPORT! (This is huge, because you can reach an employee literally all the time and ask them about any technical issue you might experience while working with your blog.
  • They are really, really cheap. Self-hosting costs only $3.96 per month. That is very little money for a whole lot of service and value. My visitors are also getting a 25% discount.
  • WordPress can be installed with just one click. You will see for yourself later how much this simplifies the whole process!

hostgator

Click the “VIEW WEB HOSTING PLANS” button in the middle. You will see the three hosting plans they are offering.

You only need the HATCHLING plan. Select it by clicking “ORDER NOW”.

hostgator_packages

Now it is time to select your domain name. This is the URL by which your visitors can reach your blog.

Select “Register a new domain” and select your desired name in the field below.

select domain name

Confirm the “Package Type” and the “Billing Cycle”. 36 months is the cheapest solution.

Hatchling package will totally sufficient for your blog. If you (later) want to manage multiple domains on one HostGator account, feel free to use higher tier packages.

hostgator package type

Select a username and security pin.

hostgator username password

Enter your billing information and payment information.

hostgator billing

Uncheck all of the hosting addons. You don’t need them. Although increased SEO and Google rankings sound fun, there are way better ways to do it. And these alternatives are even free!

IMPORTANT: As for Domain Privacy Protection, only leave this checked if you want to hide your name and address from WHOIS searches. I don’t usually care about that, but you might. hostgator addons

If you want to receive an additional 25% discount on your purchase, make sure to use the coupon code “thomasmondel”. Thank you for your support! hostgator coupon

Afterwards you can check your purchase summary and click “CREATE ACCOUNT” to finish creating your hosting and domain. Once you’ve paid, you’ll receive an email with all the information you’ll need to continue. Time?

Level 2: Setting Up WordPress

Now that you’ve got your hosting bought and paid for, it’s time to set up WordPress. WordPress is famous for its super fast install. You can do it in less than 2 minutes!

One of my favorite things about HostGator is their quick-install options. You can easily install new software just like WordPress with just one click!

Let’s get it installed!

Type this URL into your browser: yourdomain.com/cpanel – use the domain name you selected before instead of the “yourdomain” of course.

If for some reason you can’t yet reach your domain yet (sometimes it can take a little while to set up), use the link you were given in your HostGator email listed Your Control Panel.

Now, log in with the username and password you were given in the email. You’re now in your cPanel. At first it will seem a little overwhelming but don’t worry, you can ignore 95% of them. All you are looking for is the QuickInstall button.

You should find it in the Software/Services tab.

hostgator quickinstall

You get directed to the QuickInstall page. There you can find a list of software that is ready to install on the left side of the screen.

Find “WordPress” in the “Blog Software” section and click it.

quickinstall blog software

Click “Continue” to the right.

quickinstall continue

Now you have to specify your “Application URL”. This is where people can find your blog. Usually you install it into the root directory of your domain. So you have to keep the right field empty. But when you want to install WordPress into a subdirectory you can easily specify it here (for example: thomasmondel.com/blog).

quickinstall install now

Fill in the fields as required.

Uncheck the “Enable Auto Upgrades” checkbox. You should always keep your WordPress installation up-to-date, but it’s better to do it manually so you can make sure your theme and plugins are working right after you update.

IMPORTANT: Also make sure NOT to use “Admin” as your Admin User name. Try to use something more unique to make your site more secure.

After pressin the “Install Now!” button you finished your WordPress Installation!

“Your skills in WordPress has increased by 1!” Level 3:

Level 3: Configure WordPress

As I said before WordPress runs pretty solid right out of the box. So you don’t have to change a lot after the initial install.

Your control panel in WordPress is called the Dashboard.

This is were all your future magic will be happening.  It’s where you’ll be doing mostly everything – blogging, creating pages, uploading themes and plugins, etc.

Browse http://yoursite.com/wp-admin.

Log in, and you’ll see your new Dashboard.

Here you can add new Posts, Pages, change your theme, add plugins, customize your widgets, pretty much everything.

But I don’t want to confuse you too much now.

Let’s just do the necessary steps and move on. We will handle everything else later.

I recommend that you change the Permalink Settings. You can find that setting by browsing to the Settings –> Permalinks section to the left on your Dashboard. You should find something like you see in the image below: permalinks

Select Post name. This makes sure that your blog post titles are represented in the URL of your blog.

We will now install some plugins. Sit tight!

Level 4: Install Recommended Plugins

I have a full list of all the plugins I use on my WordPress blogs. They are basically little gadgets that help you to do stuff more efficiently.

Take a look at the list and see for yourself if this is something you could find useful too.

  • Ad Injection – This is the best plugin I found for injecting AdSense ads into my blog. Used it in the beginning, but decided later to drop it again, since I no longer wanted to fill my blog with stupid ads. Still, it is very easy to use and makes all the processes super easy.
  • Broken Link Checker – Automatically checks your blog for broken links and notifies you per mail.
  • Contact Form 7 – There are a lot of contact forms out there. And to be honest, they are all the same! =)
  • Disqus Comment System – Very cool plugin for commenting.
  • Google Analytics for WordPress – Google Analytics are an absolute must and this plugin works great for integrating it into your WordPress blog.
  • LeadSquared Website Topbar – This plugin will add a nice, customizable bar on the top of your website. Great to highlight featured articles.
  • Light – Responsive LightBoxAutomatically makes all images that link to other images into a responsive lightbox. Click on any image on this blog to see how it looks like.
  • Limit Login Attempts – Name is program. Limits failed login attempts and adds an additional level of security to your blog.
  • MailChimp for WordPress Lite – Simple plugin to integrate MailChimp email forms and newsletters.
  • Redirection – Set custom routes to fix broken links and prevent 404 errors.
  • Table of Contents Plus – Allows you to create content tables and add them to your blog posts or whereever else you want them. Very handy when you create longer posts to keep the overview.
  • WordPress Importer – Used it to import my stuff from my old WordPress.com account. It includes posts, pages and all media and comments and really helps you with the process.
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast – Probabely the only SEO plugin you will need.
  • WP Socializer – Allows you and your readers to add your content on social media networks. Also adds this little fancy floating social bar you see on the side.
  • WP Super Cache – Speeds up the loading of your blog by caching already loaded content.

To install these plugins you have to browse to Plugins –> Add New on your WordPress Dashboard.

wordpress search plugin

Simply type in the name of the plugins above into the Search field (for example: “Ad Injection”)  and press the Search Plugins button.

wordpress list of plugins

A list of all available plugins that are assosiated with that name will appear and you can select one of them and press Install Now to add it to your WordPress blog. WordPress will do all the work for you and download unzip and install the plugin. All you have to do later is press Activate and you are good to go.

Do this with all the plugins I have listed here, or with any other plugin you find usefull.

Plugins really do make working with WordPress super easy.

If you find plugins that you find so helpful that you could not want to live without them anymore, I am always happy to hear from you about them! I am always up to new stuff! Just leave a comment below and let me know.

Level 5: Choose and Install a Theme

Themes allow you to completly change the look and feel of your blog. Simply find one of literally endless free or paid themes and install it on your blog.

On your Dashboard click Appearance –> Themes and then click Add New.

You should see a form similar to this one:

wordpress install theme

You can filter by different categories and attributes and you can also search by name.

Once you found something you like continue with the guide.

But don’t waste too much time on this right now. Developing your blog layout and design is an ongoing process. You will always find yourself learning new stuff on how to tweak your pages, layout, design and stuff.

Also remember that visitors are not coming to your blog because that beautiful theme you got there. It is the content and the quality of your writing, the amount of value you provide and other important aspects that makes them returning to your side.

Here is just a quick example on how a different theme can totally change the look of your blog:

theme examples

Usually you don’t need to BUY a theme. There are a huge amount of free options out there. If you still decide to buy a premium theme for your blog and pimp it a little bit in regards of looks check out ThemeForest. They have a huge collection of high quality premium themes for you.

Boss Level: Start Writing

You have successfully installed WordPress on your own hosting server! Now nothing can stop you from putting out some high quality content into the world!

Time to celebrate!

celebrate

Thank You

Let me know what you think about this guide!

  • Did it help you creating your own blog?
  • Did you find it useful or is there something you think should definitely be in it?
  • How can I improve this guide for others?
  • Have I forgotten something super important?

Leave a comment below! Your opinion is important to me and you should not hold back on telling me what you think. Others might be interested in your point of view as well! =) I want to make this guide super helpful for my readers so if there is any open question you encountered, let me know and I will fill in the gaps!

Did you find this tutorial useful? Spread the word! I’d love it if you used one of the buttons in the sidebar to share this post! It only takes a couple seconds and it helps other like-minded people to find it too.

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Thomas Mondel Writer. Thinker. Blogger.