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Long gone are the days when blogging only involved sharing your personal joys and day to day struggles.
Nowadays, blogging is a serious home business and many bloggers are able to earn a full-time income from blogging. And no, blogging isn’t dead.
We are still in the information age and people are looking up info on travel, parenting, dating, health and so much more. Where do they get this information? A good chunk comes from blogs.
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below and I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only recommend products that I have verified (tons and tons of research go into it) or products/services that I have personally used.
And that’s where having a good hosting service comes in. This ensures that your online business is always up and running and that your audience never loses sight of you even for a minute.
Assuming that you’ve made the decision to own a blog already, I have created this guide to help you in setting up your WordPress blog and not just with any host – I propose Bluehost, one of the most popular hosting services that comes highly recommended by top bloggers.
What is Bluehost?
When we talk about hosting, it is the framework that anchors your website on the World Wide Web.
After you create a blog, you will need a provider who will make sure it is available on the web. That is what we call a hosting company.
Bluehost is owned by a company that has four hosting brands in total. However, it cuts itself a better image by being the most popular of the three.
In total, Bluehost supports over 1 million domains, making it one of the best in the world, too.
Their advantage is that they have put together the most important features required by website owners and their pricing is truly reasonable.
These include unlimited domains, disk space, and emails, to mention but a few. We shall go into deeper details further along.
Why Not Use Free Blogs?
Yes, there are free blogs such as Wix and Blogger which won’t require you to pay for any hosting. You can also start a free blog with WordPress.
However, they come with tons of disadvantages. Some include:
- Audiences use features such as free and paid websites to gauge the “seriousness” of a site. That said, a paid site will be preferred by most audiences because they perceive them as manicured businesses.
- Owing to their free nature, free blogs are common. Therefore, some readers will come across your site and realize it looks like another that they have been to in the past. This would turn some of them off.
- If the free site ever went offline (we call it downtime), you have no obligation to demand explanations from the hosting company. Remember you’re a free user.
- Some free sites will use you as marketing tools and require you to carry their domain name alongside your blog. You must have seen sites that read, “fruitspro.wix.com” A lil bit unprofessional in my opinion.
But Why Bluehost?
Bluehost has tens of advantages above these free web platforms. We shall discuss them under the pros and cons later. I will let you in on one of the top reasons.
Bluehost (which currently hosts over 2 million websites) happens to be recommended by some of the biggest brands and names in the blogs and website industry.
First, we have Darren Rowse of Problogger who started blogging waaaay back in 2004. He recommends Bluehost as a great hosting service.
Next in line is Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income blog. Thirdly, we have Said of WordPress Beginner. If you know these brands, then you can be sure that they simply cannot endorse a crappy product.
As if those three were not enough, WordPress, the world’s most loved and used website creator, also vouch for Bluehost.
How Much Does Bluehost Cost? (Bluehost Pricing)
I knew such questions would cross your mind.
Let it be known that regardless of its positive hype and super features, Bluehost services are very affordable. They have 3 tiers of packages, namely Shared Hosting, VPS Hosting, and Dedicated Hosting.
These plans have varying features under them which influence the price.
The cheapest plan is the Shared Hosting one which is further divided into three plans starting from $3.95 per month to $5.95.
You can find more info about these products and pricing here.
Best Bluehost Plan
If you were to ask for me to help you in choosing a plan, I would first ask whether you’ve decided that you’re going to dip both feet into blogging.
If your answer is no, then I would suggest that you try out the 1-month package to test things out for yourself.
The good thing is that if you weren’t satisfied, Bluehost offers a 30-day money back guarantee. As such, you can have your money back.
With BlueHost months you don’t really pay month to month but rather on a yearly basis. Still, that’s a good thing and here’s why.
I have always been a fan of the hosting company – Hostgator.
At the end of 2017, as the festivities picked up speed, I seemingly forgot to pay for my hosting. I was shocked when my followers began calling asking why my site was giving them error 404 (offline)!
Upon checking the site, it was surely off and that is when I remembered that I hadn’t paid for my hosting.
As I got my card to pay and get it back up, I was hit by another surprise- my card had expired! Since it was Christmas time, it took me 5 days of disappointment to get it back online.
When you have a good number of people who are visiting your blog, the worst thing you want is to ever deny them access to the content they love. Some will leave and never come back. With a yearly payment, you can pay it and forget it!
(Still want to make monthly payments? Here’s how to start a blog with Hostgator – a tutorial)
The reason most people love Bluehost is that they have great goodies for their customers.
For example, assuming you haven’t purchased a domain name, they will give you one free of charge! How good is that?
You can use an existing domain name, so if you had one already, there’s no need of utilizing the free one (it’s optional).
Choosing a domain name
A domain name is more than just a name. To some extent, it influences your visitors, thus blog success. It is recommended that your domain name should be as close as possible to your niche.
Thanks to technology, there are tons of websites that can help you in choosing a unique and appropriate domain name. You can try out the following:
- Lean Domain Search
- Bust a Name
- Shopify Business Name Generator
- Domain Puzzler
- Name Mesh
Here’s something that the non-techies will love: The integration of Bluehost and WordPress is as easy as 1-2-3.
Bluehost provides one-click installation for WordPress. This is usually a complicated process, especially for beginners. However, with Bluehost, you can be done with the installation in 5 minutes.
“Nuff said! Just show me how to do it” I hear you say. Here’s goes.
Step 1: Click here to open the Bluehost site in another tab, then click on the green tab: Get Started Now.
Step 2. On the next page, you’ll be asked to select your plan. Let’s go with the BASIC plan for now. You can always upgrade later but this plan is okay for a beginner blogger.
Step 3: Here’s where you’ll enter your domain name and remember it’s free! If you had already registered a domain name, you’ll enter it in the ‘I have a domain name’ section.
Step 4: Here’s where you enter your account information. Bluehost will also let you know if the domain name you chose is available.
You’ll also choose a plan in this section, i.e, will you be paying for 12, 24 or 36 months? Please note that the longer the duration, the cheaper the hosting price.
If you choose a 36-month plan, you’ll only pay $3.95 per month, compared to $5.95 if you choose a 12-month plan. Choose ye wisely!
After that, you can enter your payment information, agree to the terms and click SUBMIT.
Step 5: Once you click submit, you will see a congratulatory message on the screen, followed by a prompt to choose a password for your account.
Once you have set up a password, you are ready to log in and install WordPress!
You’ll be prompted to choose a theme but if there isn’t once that catches your fancy, skip this step since you can choose a theme later.
Step 6: Click on ‘Log in to WordPress” and then click either “Business” or “Personal” on the next screen or simply click “I don’t need help”
Once you have done that, your WordPress blog is now ready!
A Few WordPress Tips
You can begin writing a new blog post by clicking on ADD NEW under the POSTS tab.
The PAGES tab is for writing stuff that you won’t be updating frequently, for example, the About Me or About Us page.
Under SETTINGS you will find other tabs such as discussion, which will come in handy when you need to configure the comment section, for example, you can choose to have comments enabled for a certain duration.
Under PERMALINKS, this is where you find the URL to each post.
To avoid making a mistake that many newbie bloggers make, ensure that your permalink is set to post name.
I had made the mistake of setting my permalink to numeric when I first started blogging, which wasn’t doing me any good with SEO.
You can click on the different tabs under SETTINGS to get the general idea of what they are about and how they can help you customize your blog further.
Getting Traffic To Your Blog
Traffic, or audience, is critical for the survival of your blog.
Therefore, you need to apply some proven strategies to acquire them. I have discussed some of these in my article on How to Start a Food Blog: Get Traffic and Monetize Your Blog!
In addition to the strategies that you’ll find in that article, there are two pointers I would propose in accelerating your traffic gain.
Social media provides bloggers with a great way to drive traffic to their blog. You need to attract different audiences to your blog, and this is where social media comes in.
You needn’t utilize all the platforms that you know. In my many years of experience, plus from the notion of fellow bloggers, I have noticed that certain social media platforms work best for specific blog niches.
- For instance, if you will be writing about service-oriented niches like blogging tips and personal finance, then go for Twitter.
- If your blog will focus on more visual niches like food, photography or travel, then Pinterest and Instagram are your best picks. Users on these platforms judge you by your image appeal before anything else.
- Wondering where Facebook is? Well, Facebook is an interesting tool in that it plays out centrally between the previous media. It has users who like short and precise content as well as those who love long text and visually-appealing content, too. Therefore, you MUST use Facebook regardless of your niche. Don’t forget it’s the biggest social media platform currently.
- Do you know these 90 blogging terms?
- You can good quality photos FOR FREE in these 25 sites.
- 35 income reports from bloggers that will inspire you.
- Want to start a food blog? Here’s how to do it.
Pinterest is a unique form of social media. It is so powerful in gaining traffic, yet still underutilized. I actually wish I knew about its power immediately I began blogging.
I didn’t know, but you do! Here are some free Pinterest courses that will help you better understand this pretty platform.
Monetizing Your Blog
At the end of the day, the aim of your blog will be adding value to the audience and making money for yourself.
Monetizing a blog is a wide topic that I have covered in some of my articles, and will continue to present more ways as they emerge.
All in all, summarily, the main ways that top bloggers use to make money include:
- Selling Products or Services
You can decide to sell products or services aligned to your niche.
Let’s say you have a food blog. You can opt to sell some recipe books, offer catering services or sell some of the food that you make.
As a blogging specialist, you can create and sell courses to aspiring bloggers.
- Sponsored Posts
Once your blog is running and attracting good traffic, you will be approached by advertising companies.
This is where they will want to partner with you, asking you to write an article promoting a certain product or service, in exchange for payment.
You can also reach out to brands yourself.
- Affiliate Marketing
This is a popular and very interesting way of monetizing your site. It’s my personal favorite. Well, you simply help another site to sell their products through links embedded in your articles. When a reader purchases a product, you will receive a commission.
Tools That Will Help You In Your Blogging Journey
Once WordPress is up and running, get these add-on tools:
- Grammarly will check your typing and highlight any grammatical issues or errors.
- KW Finder will help in finding and denoting long tail keywords with simple SEO.
- Yoast will improve your web optimization in terms of SEO.
- Akismet will protect your site from contact form and comment spam.
Finally, when choosing your website theme, even if it’s free, make sure it is mobile friendly. You will have audiences using both PCs and mobile phones, Tso it’s important to make both audiences happy.
Infact, mobile internet traffic accounts to 51.2% of all global online traffic in 2018, according to Statista.
When you’re ready to upgrade to a paid theme, which is recommended because they have more customization features and great support than free themes, check out Studio Press themes, which are my personal favorite.
The Pros and Cons of Bluehost
Having discussed Bluehost for the last few minutes, it’s time we learned about its pros and cons because truth be told, no company is perfect.
Pros or Upsides of Bluehost Hosting Service
- It’s amongst the cheapest web hosting services around (starting from $2.95 to $5.95 with the shared hosting plan.
- It works superbly with WordPress sites.
- Its endorsed by big brands and bloggers.
- Its uptime is one of the best in the world.
- A simple to use and very newbie-friendly control panel.
- They offer a free SSL certificate (where your blog starts with HTTPS instead of HTTP)
- Offers a free domain, if you hadn’t already registered one yet.
- They take the security of their client’s accounts very seriously. Case in point: They have put in place two-factor authentication for your Bluehost account. They also support CloudFlare, which prevents attacks to your blogs.
Cons or Downsides of Bluehost Hosting Service
- There’s no guarantee of automatic backup so you need to do it yourself.
- Their “unlimited” offers actually have some limits at certain levels.
- You can’t pay for your hosting month to month, if that is your preference.
- Their customer support could really do much better.
- There’s no free site migration.
There you have it; an overview of utilizing the best hosting provider, Bluehost. As I have insisted, it will work pretty well with WordPress sites.
Bluehost is cheap, and the setup (installation) process is very simple.
Thanks to BlueHost, you can start your blog on the cheap and start this exciting blogging journey.
We’re in this boat together and we’ve got this! All the best.