I am a total newbie at owning my own website, though I have edited a website at my old job, so I knew how to manage it once I got in, but just getting to that point took me a few weeks!
Before I started anything, I bought a “how to become a travel blogger” course from Travel Blog Success over a YEAR ago when I was first thinking seriously about this blogging idea. I’m not going to lie, it’s expensive! I bought during a half-off Black Friday sale and it was still $200. When I finally started the course, I had my doubts that it was worth even the half price I paid, but it really was. Not only did I get an in-depth basic course, but courses on blog monetization and non-blog travel writing were also included. You are also admitted to a helpful facebook group of travel bloggers who can offer advice and support. Following the advice in the course–which itself is just a series of blog posts–I learned about how to set up a blog in WordPress and lots of advice about plugins, analytics, and so forth. All the non-writing stuff about blogging that I was only dimly aware of.
Then a few weeks ago, I bought some domain names from NameCheap.com on the advice of travel blogger Jeremy Scott Foster that it might be a good idea to have your domains separate from your hosting site. GoDaddy.com had cheaper prices, but NameCheap included DNS security for only a small amount more, and I preferred having that protection. In the end, I bought seven domain names for $10 each per year. I’m not sure why I bought so many, but I think I’m going to use many of them for redirects to my website (once I figure out how to do that) and I just felt it was nice to have those original assets in hand.
A week later, I purchased hosting from BlueHost, on the recommendation of both Travel Blog Success and Jeremy Scott Foster, in fact, if you have bought a TBS course, you will get a discount on your BlueHost service. I ended up paying $95 for three years of hosting, which pans out to about $2.64 per month. While blogging is cheap, setting up your own blog does have its start-up costs!
Once you get into your BlueHost dashboard, you can perform a one-click install of WordPress, which is what most self-hosted bloggers seem to use. I did this, it looked like it installed, but nothing happened. I couldn’t access my WordPress admin page, and when I looked at my website, it only displayed a NameCheap splash page. I called BlueHost support and got a very unhelpful associate on the line who only told me to install WordPress again. When I asked her to stay on the line with me, she said, “We don’t really do that, you’re supposed to do this part on your own.” Nice. In all, I installed WordPress four times, just hoping it would finally “take.” It never did, and I called Mojo Marketplace instead, which is where I downloaded WordPress through BlueHost…confusing, I know, but once you do it it will make more sense. The guy on the line there quickly said I needed to “point my nameservers to BlueHost”, and to call them. I did, this time dialing by accident-on-purpose what might have been the business line.
This time I got Cynthia, glorious Cynthia, who finally helped me out. She told me that because I had installed WordPress so many times, I needed to clean up those files. She walked me through deleting the files I had created and did a clean install from a different place than I had done before. AND she stayed on the line with me to make sure it worked! We chatted about blogging and she finally was able to tell me that it all looked good, but that I needed to point my nameservers to BlueHost, and I needed to talk to NameCheap to do that.
NameCheap doesn’t have a phone line, only a live chat, so I chatted with a gentleman who told me where to go to customize my DNS, which I did, using the information that Cynthia had given me. Then I had to wait 24-48 hours for it propagate (populate?) so I left it all weekend. Returning to the site on Tuesday, well over 48 hours, I found I still had the same problems, and when I looked at the nameservers on NameCheap, they hadn’t changed! I opened another chat window and talked to yet another guy and he walked me through it again, but this time he checked what I had done, and told me I had put in too much. What I had was ns1.bluehost.com 184.108.40.206 and all I needed what the initial part, not the numbers. After all, I did say I was a rookie. He fixed my work and told me to wait another 24-48 hours. About 44 hours later I checked everything and it STILL wasn’t working! Would I ever get this blog off the ground?!? But I checked in again after about 49 hours and, miracle of miracles, my admin site was finally operational. Hallelujah!
Next, I installed a theme I found in this article called Hemingway, which I totally fell in love with. Installation was easy, then I plugged in and activated lots of plugins, per the TBS course–ones that will keep spam out of my comments, one that will backup my blog, ones that will make it run smoother…lots of plugins! Then finally I could start writing!
Never did I expect that even just starting a blog would take this much legwork! And, if you used a hosted site like Blogger or maybe Wix, it might not be this complicated. It also would have been a lot easier for me to get my domain from BlueHost, then I wouldn’t have had all that back and forth getting started.
If you have read all the way to the end, congratulations and thank you! Also note that some of the above links are affiliate links, which means I get credit (or cash money!!) if you sign up through them. Because I’m a blogger and I have those now. 🙂