Are you convinced that you can land more writing jobs if you have a writer website or blog? Great!
Your next step is actually building and creating your website.
Unless you’re hiring a web guy or gal to do it for you, it’s going to involve some basic tech stuff.
If you’re saying, “Yikes! I’m not techy….” then don’t fear — that’s what this guide is for. Don’t let your lack of tech skills hold you back. In reality, it’s easier than you think.
Let’s get started.
Step 1: Naming your website or blog
Before thinking of a name for your website or blog, decide which one it is you want. Do you want a basic writer website where you promote your writing services and build a portfolio? Or do you want a blog where you write about a specific topic?
For basic writer websites, the most common website name would be your first and last name. For example, I can build a writer website called kimbarloso.com.
For blogs, the website name should be clearly stating your topic. If it’s about parenting a child with special needs, you might go with specialneedsparenting.com (I just made that up, not sure if it’s an actual website).
You can be as creative or as straightforward with your website name — it doesn’t really matter that much. However, be warned that when you register the name as your domain, you won’t be able to change it.
Which leads us to the next step…
Step 2: Registering your domain name
A domain is a specific web address that leads to a web page. Google.com and Facebook.com are popular domains.
If you want to build a website, you need to register a domain name. For example, you can register specialneedsparenting.com to build your blog.
You register domain names from domain registrar companies like Namecheap. There are many others, but I find Namecheap makes it simple enough and they sell domains for as low as $8.99.
To register your domain using Namecheap, go to Namecheap.com.
In the search field, type in the website name that you want. Namecheap will confirm if the website name or domain is available on the next screen.
If the domain is taken, simply type another name on the search field and click the Search icon.
In the example below, I used my first and last name. Click Add to cart to confirm your purchase.
On the left side, click the View cart button.
On the Shopping cart page, make sure WhoisGuard is enabled and click Confirm order.
On the next page, you are prompted to log in or create a new account. Assuming this is your first time to do this, go ahead and create an account by entering a user name, your first and last name, a password, and your email address.
When done, click Create account and continue.
The next step is adding a payment method. You can pay via credit card or PayPal.
Enter your payment details correctly and click Continue.
If the payment goes through, you’ll be taken to the Namecheap dashboard where your domain/s will be listed.
Congratulations! You just set up your domain.
Step 3: Hosting your domain
Now comes the next part: getting a web hosting service for your brand new domain.
A web host is like a landlord. It provides your domain a home in the web. You are renting this space along with other website owners.
So what hosting service should you choose? There’s a ton. The choices are overwhelming. As someone who has written about web hosting quite a lot, I’ve tested and tried most popular ones out there.
You can get a year’s worth of web hosting with Siteground for under $50 (discounted price).
To subscribe to Siteground, go to siteground.com.
Choose the StartUp plan and click Order Now.
Select “I already have a Domain” and enter the domain name you registered in the text field. Click Proceed.
On the next page, enter an email and password to create a Siteground account.
Scroll down and enter your name, location, and phone number under Client Information. This information will not be public and will be used for billing purposes.
Enter your credit card details under Payment Information.
In Purchase Information, select your Data Center (it should be the one closest to your location or your target audience’s location).
You can subscribe to Siteground’s hosting for a year, 2 years, or 3 years. If you want the most affordable option, then pick the 1-year plan. It costs $47.50 (at the time of this writing).
There is no need to add the SG Site Scanner at this point.
You should get your payment processed, receive an invoice in your email, and led to the Siteground dashboard if all goes well.
Step 4: Pointing your domain to your hosting
If you purchased your domain from Namecheap and signed up for a web hosting service with a different company like Siteground, you need to do one step before your domain becomes hosted.
You need to “point” your domain to a hosting service by changing its nameservers.
The process is different for each domain registrar and web host.
If you purchased your domain through Namecheap, you can follow the tutorial here on how to point a domain name to a different web host.
If you have a domain name from a different company, just search for “How to point [Domain registrar] domain to [Web Host]” in Google and you should get more information.
Changing the nameservers of a domain takes 24-48 hours to update, so you will have to wait for this to happen.
To check whether the nameserver is updated, you can go to whatsmydns.net and enter your domain. If the search results show your web host’s IP, then the nameserver change was successful.
Step 5: Installing WordPress
Now that your new domain has hosting, it’s time to set up a Content Management System so you can manage your website and publish content on the back end.
The easiest way to do so would be to use a Content Management System called WordPress. It’s the most popular CMS, as it powers 34% of websites in the internet.
If you signed up with Siteground hosting, you can install WordPress in your cPanel via Softaculous.
To do this, go to the My Accounts tab in your Siteground admin area.
Find the domain on the list and click Go to cPanel. This should automatically log you in your cPanel without having to enter a user name or password. You can also access your cPanel by typing http://yourdomain.com/cpanel in your browser.
In cPanel, find Softaculous under AutoInstallers. Click on it.
You should go to a page where you have to choose the application you want to install. Click the WordPress icon in the list of applications.
Click the Install tab on the next page.
Enter your website’s title (this can be the same as your domain), description (leave it blank if you can’t think of one), user name and password. The user name and password will be used to log in to WordPress and manage your website.
When you’re done filling in the details, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Install.
The installation will start and should take a few seconds. Once done, you’ll get a confirmation page with your admin link (www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin). This is the link you need to go to if you want to log in to WordPress to either manage your site, add new blog posts, reply to comments, create new web pages, and anything that has to do with your site.
Congratulations! You now have a self-hosted WordPress website ready for you to either build a writer portfolio website or a blog.
Step 6: Installing a theme
When you first install WordPress, it will come with the default Twenty Nineteen theme. This theme works fine, but it won’t make your website stand out. As it comes with every installation of WordPress, your site will look generic and unprofessional.
There are lots of free themes that look great and you can find them straight from your WordPress dashboard. Just go to Appearance > Themes > Add new.
The theme library will give you tons of free theme options. To see how a theme looks like, hover over it and click on Details & Preview.
You should get a basic preview of the theme. Remember that because your website has no content yet, the preview will not reflect a lot of its features.
If you find a theme that you like to try, click on the Install button.
To customize a theme’s appearance, you can go to Appearance > Customize.
Step 7: Adding a logo
Nothing screams newbie like a website without a logo.
A logo is vital to your brand as a professional freelance writer. If you’re not a designer, then hire someone to create a logo for you. You can find freelancers on Fiverr who offer logo design for as cheap as $5 or as expensive as $200. Your choice.
Once you have a logo, you’d want to put it on your website’s header, which is the topmost part of your home page. To do this, go to Appearance > Themes. Click Customize on the theme that is active.
On the next page, find out where to change the logo. It is usually found in your theme’s Header section. The options might vary depending on your theme.
I use the Genesis theme and my logo is in the Header Image section. Here, I have already added the image for my logo and it appears at the top of my site.
If your header is blank or has a text with your domain name, click on Add new image to upload your logo.
Click Select files on the Choose Image box that pops up.
Find the logo file from your computer and click Open.
With the logo file uploaded, you should see it checked in your media library tab. Click Select and crop.
Drag and adjust the lines around the logo and make sure to include the entire logo then click Crop image.
The logo should now be uploaded and shown in your website header section which is the top of your home page.
More work coming up
You now have a basic, working WordPress site and there still is a lot more work to be done.
You need to figure out your home page design. You also need to figure out how to build a portfolio page where you put links to articles that are relevant to your niche or industry.
Unfortunately, there is no step-by-step for this process as website design is something that takes a lot of research and a bit of expert help.
Again, you can look up Fiverr for web designers who can help you design your writer website according to your needs.
If you are starting a blog, then you can publish your first blog post in WordPress.
In your WordPress dashboard, just go to Posts > Add New.
You’ll see the new blog post editor for WordPress. Type in the title of your blog and start writing the rest of the article below.
You can click on the + icon to add “content blocks” that can be an image, quote, list, and other types of article elements.
When you’re done writing the content, you need an image to go with your blog post. This is called a Featured Image.
To add the image as your blog post’s Featured Image, click the Document tab on the left side of the screen.
Scroll down and click on Featured Image. Click Set Featured Image.
Click the Upload files tab and click Select image.
Find and click on the image file you want to use and then click Open.
Your Featured Image should now be added to your blog post.
If you want to see how your blog post looks like when it goes “live”, you can click on the Preview button on the top left corner.
When you’re ready to make your blog post visible to the public, click Publish.
Congratulations! You have just published your first blog post.
This is just the beginning of your blogging adventure.
There’s a lot to learn. When you’re stuck, just search Google or YouTube and you’ll get tons of useful information to help you out with using WordPress to publish content on your blog.
What challenges are you facing when starting a blog? Share in the comments below!