This guest post was written by Chris Wilson, who has his own self-hosted blog at ELT Squared. On his blog one post is about choosing a blog provider to use with students. He has also written a step-by-step guide to for setting up a Posterous blog. Over to Chris:
If you reading this I’m guessing you’ve been convinced. It’s time to set up a blog.
Congratulations and welcome to the club!
Just to help you along the way I thought I’d pass on a few tips I’ve learnt during my many years of blogging, and by the end of this post, you’ll have set up your own self-hosted blog. But first let’s answer some important questions.
Why do you want a blog?
This can really affect every subsequent step you take. If this is something for yourself and you don’t really want anyone else to see then you’ll choose something completely different from someone who wants a blog to make money.
Why should you choose a self-hosted blog?
There are many great free blogs but they do lack some features of pricey ones (such as audio/video hosting or advertising). The free ones are great to start out on but from experience of changing between blogs three times it’s best to stick with just one.
How can you choose a name/style?
Go through these questions quickly and answer them honestly. They can help you pick a good name to use for your blog/persona.
- Think of three adjectives to describe yourself
- Imagine your ideal reader then try to write to them
- Write down some books/blogs etc that you enjoy reading. What do you like about them/the way they write?
- What other influences do you have? What is it that you like about them?
Setting up a self-hosted blog
Self-hosted blogs are very different from hosted blogs in that they require YOU to buy your own webhosting, basically a place where you can upload information, or in this case a website, to the internet and then other people can access it. Self hosting is obviously a lot more technical and requires a great deal of computer competency. It also costs money, thought the exact amounts vary.
However, the advantage is it is completely customisable! You can do whatever you want with it, install any add-ons you like, change the theme to any theme you like, have your own unique domain name etc.
I recently changed over to a self-hosted wordpress blog (wordpress are generally considered the best blog option) and I have not regretted it.
- Sign up to a hosting company.
There are various webhosting companies which have different features and different pricing schemes. I use Zyma.com which is a British company that offers great support. Despite my issues in setting up, they quickly responded and helped me through every step. Their service costs only £4.95 a year, but there is a hidden charge. You also have to pay for domain hosting. Despite owning my own domain before I went over to Zyma, I still had to pay for it for 2 years at £18.98 in total.
For a list of different companies check out this comparison list.
Once you have your webhosting you will need to choose your domain name and you can even have one that ends in .com .co.uk or any other country domain!
- Installing wordpress
Once you have signed up you need to log in to your cPanel (control panel) and then install wordpress. Many hosting services have a quick install option which is usually under a category like software and services. One of the great things about Zyma is the presence of this quick install option and video guides on their website for how to install a blog.
For more detailed instructions on how to install wordpress with or without a quick install option click this link.
Consider where to install your blog. If you install it in a subdirectory (like /blog) then you can have a website with several sections including a blog! When you are installing, it will ask you for an account name and a password. This is very important as they are your administrator account details.
- Getting the details
Enter the email address where you want your blog details to be sent to (you may have got a free email address along with your domain and webhosting)
Once you have installed your wordpress blog, you’re basically good to go! Except you have to wait 24-48 hrs for the domain name to be registered for your blog and for your use. However, you can get your first post ready, find a cool theme, write your about page and much more! You should be able to log in to your admin page via your server address (a series of numbers) and /wp-admin/ or once your domain is up using this formula: http://www.domain name/wp-admin/
If you are considering a self-hosted installation, then there is no harm in setting up a blog on wordpress.com first so you can get used to the style of using wordpress ready for when you have your own site. [The blog you’re reading right now is hosted on wordpress.com.]