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Starting a food blog nowadays can be easier and cheaper than you may think. You don’t need to be a computer genius or anything like that, everything is fairly simple and you can learn new things step by step while you build your blog.
Free Blog vs Self Hosted
The first decision you need to make is to choose between a free blog and a self hosted blog. I choose to have a self hosted blog from the beginning and I think this is the best choice I have made, but if you choose a free blog because you are not really sure that you want to spend money on your blog, don’t worry, you can always switch to a self hosted blog later on if your chosen domain is available.
The first difference between a free blog and a self hosted blog is that for a self hosted blog you need to buy your domain name, in fact your blog URL is going to be for example ‘www.domainname.com’. For a free blog your URL is a subdomain of the blogging platform you choose, so for example your URL could look something like this ‘www.domainname.blogger.com’. This is if you have chosen blogger as the platform to host your blog.
The second difference is the freedom you have in building your blog. Free blogs can look pretty basic and you only get a few free templates you can use, but with a self hosted blog you are free to design your blog in any way you want.
But the most important difference is the freedom in terms of advertising and monetizing your blog. Some free blogs like wordpress.com don’t allow any kind of advertising so you will not be allowed to monetize your blog in any way, although other free blogs like Blogger.com do allow you to have some kind of advertising but you are still not totally free. I am not saying you have to start a blog just because you want to make money from it, but it’s nice to have the option and it’s nice to know you are the only OWNER of your blog; after all, we spend time and energy building something unique so we want to have freedom and ownership on what we create. Last but not least I will mention that a self hosted blog looks more professional than a free blog: more freedom in design, professional URL and domain (this will help attract more visitors), freedom of monetizing your hard work.
Start a Free Blog
If you choose a free blog, the first step is to find your blogging platform and here are some examples:
Blogger.com is extremely easy to use but it’s also very basic, in fact you will end up with a blog that looks like all the other blogs on that platform. Even though it’s free, blogger do allow you to have some advertising. Having said that, most advertising networks don’t like to deal with free blogs and they require you to own your domain. Another downside is that you never really own your blog, blogger owns it.
WordPress.com: is the same thing as blogger, a bit better in terms of design: you have many more themes to choose from and you are a bit more free to customise your blog. Most important thing: you are not allowed to monetize your website in any way, plus you don’t completely own your website.
Start a Self Hosted Blog
Well if you arrived here in this section it shows you mean business 😀
The first thing you need to understand is that creating a self hosted blog is like creating a business and you will be expected to spend as much time and effort you would spend in the creation of any other type of business. Creating a self hosted blog is not free, it has a cost but it could be as little as $4.95 per month.
Step 1: Choose a Web Hosting service and Register your Domain
So now you have to choose a NAME for your domain! How exciting, stressful and fun. The domain name will be part of your web address so for example your web address will be ‘www.domainname.com’ so keep in mind that you have to choose something that can express the essence of your business/blog in a few words and that is also memorable and short. To check if the domain you want is available you can use Whois: just type in the domain you would like, press on ‘go’ and you will find out if the domain is available. The following step is to choose your web hosting.
I use Bluehost and I find it great, you have chat support, a free domain name for the first year and a lot of other benefits and offers. Bluehost interface is pretty easy to interact with so you can easily find your way around it, plus you can always ask Bluehost for assistence in the process. All you need to do to get started is to type in your domain name and check if it’s available, then choose your plan (only $4.95 per month if you choose the 36 months plan and $6.95 per month if you choose the 12 months plan). Also you will have to choose your domain extension, this means you have to choose between .com .co.uk .org .net and so on… I suggest to choose .com if available. It’s the most used in the world and it’s memorable. Also good if you plan to expand your blog globally. After all these choices all you need to do is to fill in your details, pay and there you go! You have a domain and a hosting service! Bluehost will also provide you a professional email with your domain name so for example it will be ‘email@example.com’ mine is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can access it through your bluehost login panel. This means you won’t have to use your personal email for anything regarding your blog and it will look more professional. Pretty cool, eh?
Step 2: Install WordPress (WordPress.org)
So now you need to install WordPress to get started. Please don’t get confused between WordPress.com and WordPress.org! They are 2 completely different stories: WordPress.com is a free platform (see what I wrote above in the ‘Start a Free Blog’ section), WordPress.org is what you want for a self hosted blog: it will provide you a software you need to download on your laptop to start building your blog. More on the differences between these two platforms here.
Now, if you work on windows the process is straight forward: download then install and you are sorted. If you work on a Mac like I do, this process may be a bit more complicated but, GOOD NEWS, Bluehost has a 24h live chat help service that will guide you step by step in anything you need. I am no computer genius and I confess I used the live chat help. I am not sure what I did but the nice person on the chat guided me step by step in the installation and everything was done in a few minutes. If you want to read more about how to install WordPress on Mac click here.
So if you choose Bluehost as your web host and you work on Windows, all you have to do is to login to your cPanel, select Hosting in the top menu, then cPanel, then click on WordPress in the Website Builder tab.
this will take you to this page:
then you can just start the installation with 1 click. What happens next is that Bluehost will give you a username and Password to login to wordpress and also a login URL. So take note of your username and password and click on the login URL. Then you can actually log into your admin wordpress panel and you can start building your website.
Keep in touch!
Please let me know if you found this information useful and if you decide to start a blog! I will be glad to drop by and have a look around 😀