Some folks will tell you that you can make money online without a blog or website. That’s true. But I strongly hold that you can never make as much as those who have blogs do — that’s if you really make anything more than crumbs.
Every lucrative online business requires you to run a blog as your web-based showroom. And that’s why the most successful online entrepreneurs — those who make 100% of their income from the internet — all have their own blogs.
While you can establish your online presence with free hosting platforms like Blogger, Typepad, and WordPress.com, you will be better off with a self-hosted blog (preferably on WordPress.org) — for three major reasons:
Running your blog on Blogger or WordPress.com is like building your house on rented land. Technically, the blog remains the property of the host site (Blogger or WordPress.com). And that’s why the default URL includes the host’s name (as in yourblog.wordpress.com or yourblog.blogspot.com).
You may think the blog is yours because you own the content. But the truth is, the host site reserves the right to pull down your blog or do anything to your content whenever and however they want. And worse, they can pull down your blog even when you’ve not in any way violated their terms and conditions. Both Linda Ikeji and Jide Ogunsanya (Ogbongeblog) have been victims of these. What could be more frustrating than being punished for an offence you never committed?
In addition, some free hosting sites like WordPress.com will not allow you to monetize your blog, even when it is more than ripe for that. Instead, they run their own ads on your blog and make money from your content. What could be closer to enslavement than having someone else reap the fruits of your labor?
However, with a self-hosted WordPress blog, you will own your domain (as in yourblog.com), and you will be in full control of your blog and its content. You will be able customize your blog as you want, and you will be able to monetize it anyhow you want.
With several thousands of WordPress plugins available online, you can customize your self-hosted WordPress blog by adding any functionalities you need.
You can embed a forum on your site (just as I once did on this blog). You can turn your blog into an online store. You can turn it into a directory. You can turn it into an auto-blog that updates itself automatically with fresh content. And you can include a wide range of other amazing features. This is impossible on Blogger, WordPress.com, and other free hosting platforms.
So, think of anything you can do online, you can do it with a self-hosted WordPress blog.
3. Seriousness and responsibility
Do you know why most of the abandoned blogs on the internet are freely hosted blogs? Because some element of irresponsibility and nonchalance usually comes with getting something for free.
You’ll find it much easier to abandon a free blog because, of course, you got it for free. But by starting out on a paid, self-hosted platform, you’ll be motivated to take your blogging seriously. And even in the face of challenges, the thought won’t cross your mind to abandon the blog you’ve spent some money on.
4. Positive signals
Another advantage of a self-hosted blog is that it sends signals that you know your stuff and that you’re confident about what you’re doing.
Using a freely hosted blog creates the impression that you’re kind of experimenting with your blog. And the truth is, nobody takes a “trial blog” seriously.
There are certainly many more benefits to self-hosting your blog. But even with the few reasons given, I’m sure you now understand why most of the web’s biggest blogs are self-hosted on WordPress. And you can now explain why many bloggers keep migrating from Blogger and WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress, and rarely the other way round.
Now, this is where many people get stuck: They assume — erroneously, though — that setting up a self-hosted WordPress blog is complicated and time-consuming. They think it’s something only the tech-savvy can do. But it’s not!
Others think they’ll have to spend a fortune to set up a self-hosted blog. Again, this is not true!
You can set up your own self-hosted WordPress blog within a couple of minutes — and for just few bucks. Just follow these steps:
Step 1: Choose a good hosting company
Your first step towards creating a self-hosted WordPress blog is to register your domain name and “host” your site with a reputable web hosting service.
Hosting your blog simply means acquiring some web storage space that your blog will occupy. So, the web hosting service you choose will reserve this storage space for your blog so that everyone can easily access your blog. Without a hosting package, you can’t have a functional blog.
When choosing a web hosting service, here are some major features and factors that you should look out for:
Disk space: This is the amount of web storage capacity that will be allocated to your blog. Once you exhaust this capacity you will have to buy a plan that offers more storage space, else you won’t be able to add more content to your blog. For a start, choose a hosting package that offers at least 5GB of disk space.
Monthly bandwidth: This is the total amount of data used up during all activities on your blog within a month, such as when visitors open your pages or download files. As a website or blog attracts more traffic, user activities consume more data, and so the monthly bandwidth increases. If your bandwidth is exhausted before the end of the month, your blog will be inactive and will not be accessible to users until the beginning of the next month, unless you quickly pay for an expansion. So, you should choose a hosting package or plan that offers enough bandwidth to handle huge traffic.
Control panel: This is the user interface through which you can access the various tools and services offered by your web host. Most web hosting services offer the cPanel control panel, while some offer other control panels that are equally as user-friendly as cPanel.
Support: Most reputable web hosting services offer live-chat support through which you can contact their support staff and have an instant chat session with them whenever you need answers to any questions or help with any issues. Although, you also have the option to contact a web host’s support staff by email, you won’t get an instant reply.
Hostgator is the web hosting service I’m using for this blog, and I’ve never had any issues with them since I started using them about five years ago. But their prices are somewhat on the high side, I must admit. (Hostgator charges me $11.95 — around N4,000 — per month!)
However, there are much cheaper alternatives that also provide high-quality services. I particularly recommend Namecheap because I have thoroughly tested their services, and I’ve found them to be of good quality. In fact, 3 of my blogs are presently hosted with them.
Right now, Namecheap offers one-year domain name registration for $12 or less, and their cheapest web hosting plan goes for less than $20.
Even many Nigerian web hosting services won’t come this cheap. So, I advise you to go with Namecheap.
Here’s a summary of what Namecheap offers:
- Cheap first-term and renewal prices
- 20GB disk space and unlimited bandwidth (on their smallest plan)
- You can host at least 3 or ( even unlimited, depending on the plan you choose)
- Responsive live chat and email support
- Fast servers
Step 2: Register your domain name and buy a hosting plan
If you’re interested in going with Namecheap, just follow these steps:
On the page, you’ll see a domain search column. Simply enter your preferred domain name in the column and click the search button.
The next page shows whether your domain name is available or not. If it’s not, simply choose another one. If it is, then proceed to click the “Add to cart” button.
On the next page, you’ll see the option to add web hosting to your purchase. Click on “Web Hosting” to select your preferred hosting plan. Alternatively, hover your mouse on “Hosting” in the top menu, click “Shared Hosting” and select your preferred plan. Be sure to select “One Year” for your hosting plan.
Proceed to checkout or confirm your order.
NOTE ==> An ICANN ($0.18) would be added to your domain registration costs.
You’ll be taken to the order confirmation page. Click “Confirm Order”.
On the next page, you’ll be required to create an account with Namecheap (if you don’t have one already). If you have one already, simply enter your login details.
You’ll be taken to the “Account Contact Information” page. Enter your address, phone number, and other required details, and click “Continue”.
The next page displays your “Whois Contact Information” (contact details of the owner of a domain name as profiled with the domain name registrar). Confirm that this information is correct, and click “Continue”.
You’ll be taken to the payment details page, where you’ll select a payment method (your debit card/ATM card, PayPal, or account funds). Choose your preferred method and enter all the required details. Then click “Continue”.
On the next page, you’ll be required to confirm your order.
And that’s it! You’ve successfully registered your domain name and secured a hosting plan from Namecheap. You’ll receive an email from Namecheap to confirm this.
If you already have a domain name registered either with Namecheap or elsewhere, here’s how to purchase your hosting plan on Namecheap:
Click here to open the Namecheap hosting plans page.
You’ll see the various shared hosting plans offered by Namecheap. Choose the plan of your choice by clicking the “Get Started” button under it.
On the next page, you’ll be required to connect your hosting plan to your domain name. Select whether the domain name is with Namecheap or another registrar. Or whether it’s a new domain name that you’re just purchasing.
Now, complete the rest of the order process, which is about the same as explained above.
After your payment has been successfully processed, you’ll receive some emails from Namecheap. This might take some minutes, though.
Look for the email with the subject, “Your Hosting Welcome Guide for yourdomain.com”. That email contains your cPanel login details and other important stuff regarding your hosting package.
Step 2: Install WordPress
Now, open the Hosting Welcome Guide email you received from Namecheap.
Click the cPanel URL or copy and paste the link in your browser’s address bar, and hit the enter button.
You’ll be requested to enter your cPanel username and password. Refer to the Hosting Welcome Guide email and copy these details from there. Once you’ve entered your username and password, click “Log in”.
The next page is the cPanel dashboard. Here you’ll see a number of different sections, each comprising many icons. Now, scroll down to the bottom of the page. The last section is “SOFTACULOUS APPS INSTALLER”, under which you’ll see a folder icon that bears the same name.
Click on the “Softaculous Apps Installer” link. This will take you to a page showing many icons. You’ll see the WordPress icon first.
Hover your mouse pointer on the WordPress icon, and click the “Install” button.
The next page you’ll see is a fairly long one with a number of empty fields that you have to complete.
On the next page, you’ll be able to define the credentials for your new WordPress installation. In the “Software Setup” section, delete the “wp” in the “In Directory” field, and leave the space blank. Don’t change anything under “Database Settings”.Then scroll down to the “Site Settings” section to enter your preferred name and description for your site. Both can be changed later. Next, scroll down to the “Admin Account” section to set your username and password (I strongly recommend that you change your username from the default “admin” to something else). Finally, click the “Install” button at the bottom of the page.
[In case you get an error message stating that some errors were found, just click the checkbox next to “Select the checkbox to overwrite all files and continue”, and scroll down to click the “Install” button again.]
Once the installation is complete, you will be taken to a confirmation page displaying your username and password. You will also receive a confirmation email containing these credentials.
Step 3: Confirm that your blog is now live
To confirm that your blog is now active, visit your domain URL. You should see your blog displaying the default WordPress theme and your blog title.
Step 4: Login to your blog’s back-end
To access your blog’s backend, visit yourdomainname.com/wp-admin (change yourdomainname to your real domain name). Once you’re on that page, you will see a page similar to the following screenshot:
Enter your username and password (as given in the confirmation email you received after installing WordPress), and you’ll be redirected to your WordPress dashboard, where you can gain access to the various aspects of your blog, such as the design, content, plugins, and so on.
Step 5: Install a theme
Although the default WordPress theme looks basic and cool, you can decide to choose another one from the hundreds of free themes available, by following these steps:
- Click “Appearance,” and then click “Themes”
- On the Themes page, click “Add New”
- Search for themes using any of the features listed or by entering keywords in the search box
- Choose from the displayed themes, install, and activate
- Refresh your blog (your main domain URL) to see the change
Step 6: Install necessary plugins
To enhance the function of your blog, you will need to install certain plugins. Although you might need to install more plugins later (depending on your needs), the following are important plugins that you should install first:
- All-in-One SEO Plugin–for optimizing your blog and posts for search engines
- Akismet–for protecting your blog from spam comments
- WP Super Cache–for making your blog load faster
To install a plugin, follow these steps:
- Click “Plugins” and click “Add New”
- Write the name of the plugin you want to install in the search box, and click “Search”
- Choose the plugin from the results page, install, and activate
- Adjust the plugin settings to suit your needs
Step 7: Write necessary pages
After installing the necessary plugins, you should write your blog’s pages by clicking on the appropriate links on your dashboard.
Before you start blogging, try to create the following pages:
- An “About” page that tells your readers about you and your blog
- A “Contact” page through which your readers can contact you
- A “hire me” page that highlights the various services you can render for your readers (especially if you’re a freelancer)
Step 8: Start blogging!
Once you’ve created the necessary pages, your blog is properly set up and good to go. And you can now start publishing posts on a consistent basis. In fact, you’re now a blogger!
But if for any reason you think you can’t handle the whole process yourself, you can contact me to assist you with the setup. I will readily do that for you — for a token, of course 😉
Over to you!
If you have comments or questions, feel free to share your thoughts below. Also, use the buttons below to share this post on your social media accounts so that others who may be interested in creating a blog can do so by following the step-by-step instructions in this post.
Affiliate Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you purchase a hosting plan from Namecheap — which does not in any way affect the price you pay. I only recommend services that I use and genuinely trust. And any income I make through the links is used to sustain this blog.