Without a doubt, the most common question I’m asked about Words I Wheel By is “how did you get started?” I think there’s a common misconception that starting a blog or creating a website is a difficult process, but it doesn’t have to be! If you want to share your words and your passions, I’m 100% behind you. Here’s the path I followed:
I started out by making a free WordPress.com blog: emilyladau.wordpress.com. This is a great option for beginners, because you can decide if blogging is something you’d like to do long-term before making a financial investment. Plus, doing it this way, you won’t have to worry about coding, designs, or any major maintenance on the back-end of your site.
Once I realized I was serious about maintaining a website to publish my writing, I decided to buy a domain name (in my case, the URL wordsiwheelby.com). If you have domain name in mind, I recommend buying it now, even if you’re not ready to use it. The internet moves fast, and someone else could snap up your great URL idea if they haven’t already. Most domain names are pretty inexpensive. I pay just over $10 a year for mine. And be sure to use a reputable company! I use Namecheap. (You can also register a new domain name via Bluehost, which is a platform I use that I’ll get to in just a moment, but I decided to buy mine separately.)
In order to use my domain name, I needed to invest in hosting. In simple terms: using a free platform like WordPress.com means they host your site for you on their servers and handle all the technical aspects of setting it up, so they control all the files that make up your site. When you purchase hosting, you have control over your website.
In the interest of saving money, I jumped on a deal with a hosting platform I’d never heard of without doing any research about self-hosting or which companies are legitimate. DO NOT DO THIS! I only ended up wasting money, along with lots and lots of time dealing with nearly non-existent “customer service.”
But I get that it’s sensible to avoid spending too much when you’re just starting out. The good news is that there are plenty of very reputable hosting services that won’t require you to empty your bank account. Luckily, I realized I should start using a better service relatively early on in my hosting adventures.
Finally, I registered to host my website through Bluehost, and I’ve never looked back! They’re reasonably priced, have reliable customer service, and make hosting an easy process.
I still wanted to use WordPress so I could transfer over the posts I’d already written. Bluehost provides a super simple WordPress download process so that you can still use WordPress software to manage your site, but with access to infinitely more features than using a free WordPress.com account. There was definitely a learning curve for site management, but it’s up to you how much work you want to put in to set-up and design. You can edit, tweak, and customize your website to your heart’s content!
Since then, I’ve kept right on writing. And now, it’s your turn to get started!
Want to get in touch with your artsy side? One of the fun parts of having a website is being able to design your own graphics to accompany posts and pages, which you can do whether you’ve got a free site or you self-host. For making custom graphics, I use PicMonkey – not as intense as Photoshop, but still offers lots of ways to get creative.
Disclaimers: Keep in mind, I’m not a professional web designer or developer. These are the steps that successfully worked for me, and I hope this answers some of your questions on how to start your own website. Also, I am an affiliate of Bluehost and PicMonkey, which means if you register via a link from this page, I’ll receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!