This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase.
Update: I’ve negotiated a special lower price on web hosting for Earn Smart Online Class readers! You can sign up here and start your blog for a low price of $3.95/month. This low price is exclusively for you (my readers). It’s not found anywhere else. I HIGHLY recommend that you select the 36-month option to get the best value for money.
In a recent post, I mentioned that starting your own blog was the best way to make money online. It’s passive and offers many income avenues that you can explore.
If you are new to this (just like I was when I got started) you may be asking, “But, how do I go about this?” You don’t have to worry.
Today, I’m going to show you step-by-step how to start a WordPress blog on HostGator.
It’s not as difficult as you may think. Pay attention to the instructions below and your blog will be up and running in 15 minutes or fewer.
Click here to start a blog on WordPress and be one of my lucky readers who gets a discounted price of $0.01 the first month. You will pay 1 Cent to get web hosting at HostGator. That’s $10.94 off!
In addition, you have 24/7 technical support via email, phone or live chats, and 45 days money-back guarantee.
If you buy and are not happy with the service, for whatever reason, just send them an email and cancel in that 45-day period. You will get all your money back. It’s as simple as that!
Before we get started, let me show you amazing reasons why you should start a blog:
- A great opportunity to share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with the world. Your voice will be heard.
- Connect with amazing people all around the world
- Become an expert in your niche and people will look up to you for guidance and direction
- Networking is really important if you want to get ahead in your online business. I wish I had started sooner! Networking with experts in my niche has put me on a different level altogether.
- Make money. Apart from sharing what you love, you get an opportunity to make money,. That income can even replace what you are doing now.
Speaking of money, let me give you live examples of bloggers who started with nothing and are now full-time bloggers making $30,000 to $100,000 and above.
Michelle Gardner of Making Sense of Cents
Michelle Gardner of Making Sense of Cents made $672 in her first month back in 2012. In January 2017, she made $139,233.
I know, this may be the 100th time I am mentioning her in my posts. I apologize for that. But, really, her blog is such a big inspiration for me.
So, I see her as my teacher and my mentor. The things I’ve learned in the two months I’ve known her is more than what I learnt in all the years I’ve been online.
Harsh Agrawal of ShoutMeLoud
Harsh Agrawal is another person I look up to. He was just an ordinary guy from India who started small in 2008, and now is making it big in the online space through his blog ShoutMeLoud.
He started with $434 back in 2009 and made $32,000 in June 2017. Watching him grow the way he has really proves that anyone can do this. You just need to be organized, have strategies in place and stick to your guns! Don’t let anyone stop you.
If you are thinking of starting a blog the cost-effective and affordable way, I encourage you to use HostGator. This is the largest and most popular company serving 9 million domains worldwide, as at the writing of this post. Not to mention excellent site performance service that they provide.
I have been using it since the first day I launched this website and the experience has been fantastic!
“Why HostGator?” You may ask. I have outlined 9 reasons why I love this hosting company and why you should too. You will see my reasons over at Get a Hosting Plan. So, read on to find out more!
Why can’t I just use a free service like Blogger or WordPress.com?
Oh, no! Please, don’t do that. It may be tempting to just go with a free blogging platform like blogger or wordpress.com, but it will cost you in the long run. And, it is almost impossible to make money with a free service. Your readers won’t take you seriously, and advertisers won’t accept your application to join their affiliate programs.
Setting up WordPress on Hostgator is an inexpensive way to start a blog and you can monetize it the way you want. Set up one here for as little as $0.01.
Drawbacks of using Blogger or WordPress.com
- You are limited in terms of customizations. You can’t design your site the way you want.
- Readers and visitors won’t take you seriously. Earnsmartonlineclass.com looks more professional than earnsmartonlineclass.blogspot.co.ke or earnsmartonlineclass.wordpress.com, don’t you think?
- Your blog may be shut down unexpectedly,especially blogspot which is owned by Google. They choose to do what they want and you have no control over that. Imagine writing a year’s worth of content, only for it to go down the drain just because you didn’t want to invest a little in a business that can fetch you thousands of dollars a few months from now.
- Limits you in terms of monetization. Just like I mentioned earlier, any advertisers will not accept your application to promote their products if you are using a free service.
How to Start a WordPress Blog with HostGator: Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners
1. Choose a niche
When choosing a niche, think of your hobbies, passions and interests. What are you passionate about? What interests you? Find something that excites you. An area of interest that you can talk about with your readers and you won’t feel out of place.
I’ve seen people choosing a niche just because they think it’s profitable and will make them money. A big no, no! This will leave you disappointed. Go for something you love. Something that connects you with your readers and that enables you to build a following and form your own tribe.
So, I want you to answer these questions?
- What are you passionate about?
- Which topics get you fired up?
- What are your hobbies and interests?
- Which skills and experiences have you mastered?
Still feeling stuck?
Here are a few examples to give you an idea:
- You can start a personal finance blog where you share money making and money saving tips
- A mom blog where you show other moms how to be lady bosses and still care for their families.
- A food blog where you share modern recipes and homemade meals or,
- A work from home blog like www.earnsmartonlineclass.com where I share work-at-home job leads, side hustles, freelancing, make money online ideas, home business ideas and blogging tips
The more specific you are the better.
2. Purchase a Domain Name
Think of a domain name as your home address on the web, where your readers and visitors can easily find you. If you choose something complicated, your visitors will get lost and that won’t be good for you. You need to find a name that’s unique, memorable and that reflects the type of business you want to get into.
Struggling to get one? No problem! I struggled too when I got started but these tools over at Mashable helped me to get the perfect domain name. You should check them out.
I usually buy my domain names from Namecheap and they are darn cheap. For just $10.95 you get a domain name for a whole year.
Web hosting companies like Bluehost and Hostgator usually have domain registration as part of their service offering. You can check them out, as well. But, some say that it’s not good to have all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. That’s why I advise my readers to use domain registrars like Namecheap.
Ready to buy your domain? Get one at Namecheap for just $10.95 a year.
A few things to note when purchasing a domain name:
- A .com is the best. Avoid .net, .org, .info or these other funny domains. There are a few blogs that have had success using .net and .org but there aren’t that many. No need to take a long route when you can use a shortcut to achieve the same results.
- Keep it short and memorable. Don’t fill your name with a thousand words. You will get a chance to do that in your description section when your site goes live on WordPress
- Just use letters. Hyphens, dashes and numbers confuse people. So, don’t use them. Simple is better
3. Get a Hosting Plan
There are many options out there when it comes to hosting but my best two are Bluehost and Hostgator. You don’t just choose a web hosting provider for the sake of choosing. There are many things you need to put into consideration first.
Amazing Reasons Why I use Hostgator to Host My Blog
- Reliable. Hostgator is an award-winning company serving 9 million domains, not to mention popular and the largest in the industry. More reason to join the bandwagon. Online reputation matters!
- Lower prices. You can build your website for as little as $3.95 per month
- 1-click WordPress installation. You don’t need to be an expert to do this. Just a few clicks here and there and your site is up and running.
- 99.9% Uptime guarantee. Anything below that, they will send you one month credit in your account. That’s how serious they are about business. No one has ever complained that they searched for my site and I was offline. A big testimony to back their guarantee
- 45 days money back guarantee. Most companies offer 30 days. You have an extra 15 days in case you need more time to decide.
- $100 Bing Ads credit and $100 Google Ads Offer, all FREE. Spend $3.95/mon and get $200 worth of cool stuff!
- 24/7 Technical support.
- Easy to use and most popular cPanel
- Freedom to cancel at any time. Nothing is carved in stone. Just a willing buyer (you) and a willing seller (HostGator).
4. Create a HostGator Account
You are now familiar with this HostGator tutorial and what it can offer you. Let’s follow the steps below to install WordPress!
How to Create a WordPress Blog in 15 Minutes or Less
Step 1: Getting Started
Head over to HostGator home page and click on “Get Started Now” button. A new page will show up with 3 different packages.
- The Hatchling Plan at $3.95/mon
- Baby Plan at $5.95/mon
- Business Plan at $5.95, as well
I bought the Baby Plan when I got started because I needed more than one website. But, if you are on a tight budget, you can get the Hatchling Plan. Don’t overspend. Go with what you can afford.
Step 2: Register a New Domain or Use One Bought on Namecheap
When you click on “Sign Up Now” button you will be directed to the order form page. Here, you have to insert your domain name. There are two ways to do this. One is you register a new domain that has not be registered anywhere else. And two, you can choose the “I Already Own This Domain” meaning you bought it from Namecheap or any other domain registrar. You need to insert it in the “Enter Your Domain” section.
Step 3: Enter Your Hosting Plan Info
As you can see above, we have information for the Hatchling plan we chose earlier. If you reach here and feel like you want to change something, HostGator allows you to do that. You can change to Baby or Business plan before you buy.
A username is also required at this stage. Choose something unique but that you can remember easily, because you will need it at a later stage. Stay away from admin. This is the default name that hackers can use to access your account.
If I was the one buying a hosting plan now, I would go with the 36-month plan because it’s cheaper than paying on a monthly basis. Just buy once and forget about it for 3 years.
By then, you would have gotten enough money to buy as many plans as you want. Plus, you get a 60% discount when you buy the 36-month plan using my affiliate link. How cool is that?
Keep on reading. I will show you how to get the discount using my coupon code.
Step 4: Enter Your Billing Info
After choosing a plan, next is your billing information. I believe that these are clear and easy to follow instructions. Here, you need to enter your contact information like full names, email address, the country you live in, your physical address and the payment method you want to use. I used a credit card but you can pay via PayPal.
Step 5: Additional Services
These are highly recommended services because they add protection and backup to your site, but they are not mandatory. You can add them later when you have the funds. One service I would encourage you to get is the SSL Certificate, especially if you are running an e-commerce site. You want to protect your customers’ sensitive information like passwords and credit cards.
For backup, you can use a free service like Dropbox to backup your site. When you want a professional email, you can get one when setting up Aweber. In place of SiteLock, I normally use Wordfence, which is a free plugin that protects my site from bots and hackers.
Step 6: Use a Coupon Code
I love coupon codes. They always save me money, and you should use them too! Right? I mean, who doesn’t like saving money, even if it’s just $5. That extra five bucks can pay another service that’s just as important.
For that reason, I have partnered up with HostGator to bring the best discount rates for my loyal readers, just like you! Use my coupon code ESOC60 to save 60% on all your orders.
This offer is not available on their website and I don’t know how long it’s going to be running. So, grab it now while you still have the chance! Just enter ESOC60 and click “Validate” the discount will be applied automatically.
Step 7: Review Your Order Then Checkout
After you’ve followed all the steps I outlined above, it’s time to make sure that everything is the way you want it to be. If there is an area you want to change, feel free to go back and change before clicking the “CheckOut” button.
I had earlier talked about 45-day money-back guarantee and the 24/7 technical support which includes live chats, email and even phone support. As you can see, you get all those services totally FREE! If everything is in order, agree to their terms and conditions then click on “Checkout” button and let’s proceed.
Step 8: Install WordPress
I had also touched on this earlier. If you want to be taken seriously, use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress.com seem like easy to use services for beginners but they will cost you in the long run.
Like they say, “Cheap is expensive”. Switching that website after you’ve written 50 or 100 posts is not an easy task. It will take you a lot of time and not everything will be transferred as you want it to. So, I encourage you to get started the right way.
After you hit checkout, some information was sent to your email address. Locate that information and have it handy. We are going to need it in the following steps.
- In your email, you will see a certain url that goes to the HostGator billing login page as shown above.
- Enter your username and password.
- After logging in, you will be taken to the dashboard. Click on the Hosting tab. That tab will have Special Offers as the first section then Most Popular Links. Let’s use Special Offers for now.
- Under Special Offers, there is the “Get Started with WordPress Today” as shown above. Click on that WordPress icon. It will take you to the next page that has the QuickInstall. Fill in your details like your full names, blog name, username and password, then click Install.
Still feeling stuck?
Here is a live video that will help you with the WordPress Installation.
Finally, we did it!
After you finish that last step, your WordPress site will be up and running. You just have to go in and work on design, change your theme and install essential plug-ins.
WordPress.org is the industry standard, and I believe it’s going to be so for many more years to come. They have robust inbuilt tools like themes, plug-ins and other add-ons that allow you to customize your website the way you want.
Big brands & companies that are self-hosted and using WordPress are:
- USA Today
Step 9: How to Change Your DNS Servers from NameCheap to HostGator
If you bought a new domain from HostGator, you can skip this section. But, if you bought your domain from Namecheap before buying hosting, read on!
- Log into your Namecheap account
- You will get to the dashboard
- Click on “Domain List”
- A bunch of domains will appear
- Choose the one that you want to change
- Click on the “Manage” button that’s on the left side of each domain
- Locate the “Nameservers” section
- A dropdown menu will appear with “NameCheap Basic DNS” and “Custom DNS”. Choose “Custom DNS”
- Get the HostGator nameservers that were sent to your email when you bought the hosting
- Copy and paste them in the Custom DNS section just as they are. Don’t change anything.
- When you finish, click the green check mark to save changes. It will take a few minutes. And voila! Your nameservers are now pointing to HostGator.
ShoutMeLoud has a very detailed post on how to point nameservers from NameCheap to HostGator.
Step 10: Log Into WordPress
Once the installation is complete, you will receive a confirmation message in your email account. Open that link and access your username and password for the new site. Your admin url will be something like http://www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin/. Click on that link then log in. See the image above.
Step 11: Understand WordPress Dashboard & Customize Your Site
Once you log in, you will be taken to WordPress dashboard. If you are doing this for the first time, the dashboard my look intimidating, but you don’t have to be scared. You will get the hang of it. Just be a little patient. See image above. Let me elaborate a bit on number 1, 2 and 3.
Number 1 is appearance. We click here when we want to change our theme, widgets, or menus. I won’t go into much detail about these. But, the theme we choose is what will determine how our blog looks on the front end.
A common default theme is the Twenty Fifteen theme. You can change that by going to “Appearance” then “Themes”. A new page will appear with all available themes. You choose one then save changes. There is also an option for “Add New Theme”. You can buy a theme from Creative Market or StudioPress, click on “Add New Theme” upload it, then activate theme. It will automatically replace whatever else is there.
Number 2 is settings. This area has General, Reading, Writing, Discussion, Media And Permalinks. I won’t go into much detail also. But, I will touch on Reading. Reading section allows you to determine how your front page looks like. You can decide how many posts show up on the homepage and whether or not you have other sections like opt-in form where you collect emails, featured posts section, recent comments, etc.
Plugins are tools that help you to do a variety of things. You can use plugins to make your site look professional, protect it from hackers or turn it into an e-commerce site. I have a list of essential plugins that you must install on your site once it goes live. Check them out on this list of 51+ Blogging Resources to Grow a Kick-Ass Blog.
How can you monetize your site?
Well, I’m going to be honest with you. It takes a while before you start seeing real money from your blog. You have to put in the work in the first few months.
So, as a beginner, I would encourage you to focus on creating amazing content that your readers will love, find a way to get website traffic then think of monetizing. Understanding search engine optimization and posting on social media sites will get you the traffic you need.
You don’t want a situation where you apply for an affiliate program, get rejected then never get another chance of working with them again.
All the same, there are many ways that you can monetize your site. The most common ones are:
- Google Adsense: New bloggers can start with Google Adsense because it doesn’t have many requirements. Other alternatives that you can use are Mediavine, Media.net and AdThrive
- Affiliate Marketing: Promote other people’s products through affiliate marketing. You can use CJ Affiliate by Conversant, ShareASale, FlexOffers, Rakuten.
- Create eBooks and Online courses. You can sell your ebooks on your site or Amazon. Udemy, Teachable and Thinkific are great platforms for selling e-courses
- Write sponsored posts. You can use IZEA, Linqia and Tap Influence
- Offer freelance services. You can create a Hire Me page so clients can easily reach you
- Join Survey & Market Research Companies like MaxBounty and OfferJuice
Blogging Tips & Tricks
- Create 5 to 10 articles before you launch your site.
- Focus on solving your readers’ problems. They come to you because they want a solution. Don’t chase them away by writing irrelevant content.
- Write in simple and precise English. Don’t go heavy on vocabularies.
- Create your social media profiles and make sure they match your website. If not, let it be something close or similar so your readers can easily locate you. You can start with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
- Start collecting emails and forming a relationship with your subscribers. Use Aweber, MailerLite or ConvertKit
- Leave thoughtful and relevant comments on other people’s blogs. Don’t just leave random comments. Do this strategically. Leave comments on high authority blogs that are relevant to your niche.
- Write guest posts on other people’s blogs. Commenting and guest posting will drastically improve your Alexa ranking.
- Join Facebook groups. I cannot emphasize this enough! I didn’t do this until last month. Ever since I joined relevant Facebook groups that are specific to my niche, I have received so much engagement and traffic on my blog. Just last week, I wrote a post and it went viral. I received 1000 page views in just a few hours and 500 shares in 24 hours. I was ecstatic!
- Share your posts and other people’s posts on your Facebook business page. This is the time to grow your page. The more people that visit your page the better
- Join Pinterest Group boards. This is a new social media strategy that I’m implementing now and I’m seeing positive results. I will be documenting my experiences in future posts. The tool that I’m currently using to help me out with Pinterest is Tailwind.
That was a lot of content to get through. Sorry if it took you forever to get down here. But, I believe in giving my readers the best content full of nuggets that they can use to better their online experiences.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to start a blog on HostGator. Enjoy your blogging journey!
Virginia Nakitari is a full-time blogger and a work from home expert. Join Virginia and 200,000 monthly readers on EarnSmartOnlineClass to learn how to make money online, even as a beginner. Before starting this blog, Virginia worked as a freelancer, specializing in general transcription and virtual assistance. Her wide clientele comprised of business coaches, podcasters, bloggers, and other online entrepreneurs. It’s through these interactions that Virginia developed a knack for writing and showing people how to work from home, make money online and attain financial freedom.