How to Launch a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less

More than 6,000 people have used this simple tutorial to set up their own self-hosted WordPress site. And now, for a limited time, Bluehost is offering a special for my readers for only $3.95 a month. Honestly, this is a steal. Get it while you can!

The easiest way to build a platform in today’s world is to start a blog. While you can do this with free hosted options like WordPress.com, TypePad.com, and Blogger.com, you will get the most control by using self-hosted WordPress. This is what most serious bloggers use. It is what I use here at MichaelHyatt.com.

However, this is where many people get stuck. They assume that the process of setting up a hosting service and installing WordPress is complicated and time-consuming. It’s not.(By the way, if you are not sure about the difference between hosted and self-hosted WordPress, check out this helpful infographic.)

In the video above, I show you how to setup your blog in twenty minutes or less. As a bonus, I explain to you how to write and publish your first blog post. If you don’t need this information yourself, perhaps you know someone who does. Please feel free to pass along the link to this post.

The good news is that you won’t need any technical expertise to setup your blog. This tutorial is simple. I walk you through the process, once click at a time.

If you prefer to read about the process rather than watch a video, you can do that too. I have written down all the steps here. This will also save you the trouble of taking notes as you watch the video.

Please understand: you can get everything you need just by watching the video above. The written material below is optional.

You can launch your blog by following these seven steps:

  1. Gather your resources. To set up a self-hosted WordPress blog, you will need:
    • A domain name
    • A credit card
    • 20 minutes (give or take)

    It’s easier if you haven’t already registered your domain. It’s also cheaper. I will show you how to get one for free, using the service I recommend in Step #2.

    However, if you have already registered your domain, no sweat. You will simply need to add an additional step. I will explain the process at the end of this post.

  2. Set up a hosting account. This is where your blog will “live.” This is a server in the cloud (i.e., a remote computer), where you will rent space to install the WordPress software and manage your blog. It’s far easier than it sounds. Stay with me.

    There are a hundreds of hosting services available—perhaps thousands. However, based on my experience and research, I recommend Bluehost. I believe it is the best option for most people for the following seven reasons:

    • Reason #1: Support. Bluehost has great 24–7 support via phone, e-mail, or chat. I have personally used it several times and found the support staff to be courteous, professional, and helpful. All of the company’s support staff are located in the U.S.
    • Reason #2: Reliability. Bluehost is super reliable. It boasts an uptime average of 99.9%. That’s about as good as it gets.
    • Reason #3: Ease of Use. Bluehost is super easy-to-use (as you can witness in the above video). In fact, shockingly so. They have worked hard to make it simple for non-geeks.
    • Reason #4: WordPress. Interestingly, WordPress itself only officially recommends three hosting services. Bluehost is number one. It hosts over 850,000 WordPress blogs.
    • Reason #5: No Limits. Bluehost offers unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited domains (i.e., you can host multiple blogs or sites on one account), and unlimited e-mail accounts.
    • Reason #6: Affordability. Bluehost is inexpensive—about $4.95 to $6.95 a month, depending on which plan you select. The longer you are willing to commit, the cheaper it is.
      Note: Bluehost is now offering a special for my readers for $3.95 a month. This is honestly a steal. Get it while you can. But be sure to use one of the links in this post to get this special offer.
    • Reason #7: Values. In its Terms of Service (see Section 10.03, Bluehost prohibits pornography, nudity, and other adult content. It strictly enforces this standard and deletes sites that violate it. Personally, I don’t want my blog sitting on the same server as some pornographer. If you feel the same way, you may be surprised to know that almost all of the most popular hosting services allow pornography on their servers.

    Note: I am a Bluehost affiliate, which means the company pays me a commission every time someone signs up via one of my links. But this didn’t influence my recommendation, because all hosting services have similar programs. I recommend Bluehost because I honestly believe they offer the best hosting available.

    You should also know that I do not use Bluehost for MichaelHyatt.com. My site is too big and complicated. It requires a dedicated server with a mirrored backup. However, I have my other sites on Bluehost, as do several of my family members and friends. Bluehost specializes in shared servers and it is the right choice for 95 percent of bloggers.

    By the way, Bluehost offers a thirty-day, money-back guarantee, which is written into their Terms of Service. I have personally tested this and got my money back within a few hours. So there’s really no risk on your part.

    Okay, so if you are still with me, go to the Bluehost home page. Click on the Sign Up Now button.

    Now you need to decide whether you need a domain name or you already have a domain name. I’m going to assume that you haven’t previously registered a domain, using some other domain registration service (e.g., GoDaddy.com). If you have, I will explain what to do at the end of this post.

    Now enter your domain name in the left-most box, choose the appropriate extension (com, net, biz, whatever) and click on the Next button.

    Bluehost Screen Shot

    Fill in your account information and then scroll down to select your package. As you can see, the prices range from $4.95 to $6.95 per month. It all depends on the length of your commitment.

    Note: Bluehost is now offering a special for my readers for $3.95 a month. This is honestly a steal. Get it while you can. But be sure to use one of the links in this post to get this special offer.

    Keep in mind, you will be required to pay the annual rate in advance. That’s how Bluehost is able to offer these super low prices. Here’s the math, based on using my affiliate link.

    • 12 months at $5.95 per month is $71.40 per year and $71.40 upfront.
    • 24 months at $4.95 per month is $59.40 per year and $118.80 upfront.
    • 36 months at $3.95 per month is $47.4 per year and $142.20 upfront.

    I would not sign up for any of the other services listed on this screen, but that’s up to you.

    Now enter your billing information. Confirm that you have read and agree with Bluehost’s Terms of Service, and then click on the Next button. The system will now verify your credit card information.

    Bluehost will next ask you to “Select the Upgrades that Best Suit Your Needs.” I would skip all of these. Click the Complete button at the bottom of the page.

    Now you need to choose a password for your account. Click on the Create your password link:

    Bluehost Screen Shot

    Use the Password Generator option to create a strong, difficult-to-hack password. Copy this to the clipboard by pressing Command-C if you are on a Mac or Control-C if you are on a PC. Now click the Paste button to paste the password into the appropriate fields. The click the Create button. This creates your new Bluehost account.

    Warning: You might get an error message here. It is simply because it sometimes takes a few minutes for the Bluehost robots to create your account. Don’t panic. Worst case scenario, call BlueHost Support at 1-888-401-4678.

    Then you will be asked to login to your domain. Your domain should be automatically inserted for you. If it is not, type it into the field provided. Now use the password you just selected. Since you previously copied it to the clipboard, you can paste it with Command-V on the Mac or Control-V on the PC. Now click on Login.

    You may have to click through another upgrade offer. Feel free to decline by kicking on the “No thanks” link and proceed to the next screen.

    You should be at the Welcome screen. Now click on cPanel (short for ”Control Panel”). You should now see a page with a lot of buttons.

  3. Step 3: Install WordPress. Don’t be intimidated by the number of buttons in this step—it’s amazingly simple. The process used to be complicated, and you had to be a semi-geek to pull it off. But Bluehost now makes it super-simple. Trust me, anyone can do this.

    Scroll down the page to ”Website Builders.” Click on the WordPress logo and wait for the new page to load. You should now be looking at a page full of ”scripts.” Again, don’t get overwhelmed. Simply click on the ”WordPress” logo under “Blogs.”

    This will tell you it’s loading up your Mojo account. Mojo is simply a system for managing automated scripts. Don’t let this confuse or overwhelm you. This is what you should be seeing.

    A new ”Install WordPress” screen appears. Simply click on the “Start” button. Now select the domain on which you want to install WordPress. It should default to the correct one. Click on “Check Domain.”

    You should get a new screen with an error message. This is normal. Check “Oops. Looks like something already exists there. I understand that continuing will overwrite the files.” Since this is a brand new blog, you do. So select the checkbox that says, “Directory Exists! I understand that continuing will overwrite files.”

    If we were running this on a website that we already had up and running, we would not want to do this. But it is not an issue here. Now click again on “Check Domain.”

    The next screen will say “You are almost there.” You don’t need the “Advanced Options,” so leave that unchecked. Click on the item that says, “I have read the terms and conditions.” Now click on the “Install Now” button. The installation process should begin and will keep you updated on the process. Be patient, this will take a minute or two.

    When it is done, you will get a screen with your Blog URL, Login URL, username, and password. Bluehost will also e-mail this information to you, but I like to have a backup. I would write it down or take a screenshot. Also, copy the password to the clipboard (again, using Command-c on a Mac or Control-C on a PC).

    You’re making great progress! Now things will speed up considerably.

  4. Step 4: Load your new blog. Simply click on the blog URL address. Your new blog should load in a new browser tab.

    As you can see, there’s nothing very fancy here. WordPress uses a very generic theme by default. But that’s the beauty of WordPress. There are thousands of themes available. I will recommend one in a minute.

  5. Step 5: Log into WordPress. While you’re still on your blog’s home page, scroll down to the Login link in the lower right-hand side of the sidebar. Click on the link.

    You should now be looking at your WordPress login page.

    WordPress Login Screen

    Now enter your username and password. (Remember, you wrote these down in Step 3. You also copied the password to the clipboard.)

    You are now looking at the WordPress “Dashboard.” Sometimes, bloggers refer to this as the WordPress back-end. The front-end is what your readers see—your normal blog site. The back-end is what you see—how you control what appears on the front-end.

  6. Step 6: Write your first post. Click on the Posts | Add New option in the left-hand side menu. You should now see the New Post screen.

    Enter the title of your post, perhaps something like, “Welcome to My WordPress Blog!” (I know, clever, right?)

    Now write your first post in the field directly below the title. Perhaps you could explain why you are starting your blog, the topics you plan to write about, and how often you intend to post. (Tip: under-promise and over-deliver.)

    Now click the Publish button. This literally publishes your post for the world to see. You can click on the Preview Changes button to see it.

    Congratulations! You have just published your first post on your very own self-hosted WordPress blog.

  7. Step 7: Bookmark your blog. You’ll want to come back to your blog on a regular basis, so it’s a good idea to bookmark the two main pages: the front-end and the WordPress back-end.

    In case, you have already closed the page to the back-end, you can re-open it by going to: http://[the name of your blog]/wp-admin.

If you have followed my instructions, you now have your very own self-hosted WordPress blog. Pretty exciting, huh?

The next step is to install a theme. There are literally thousands of free ones available. Personally, I suggest spending a little money and buying a premium theme, like the Get Noticed! Theme for WordPress. This is the theme that I personally designed and built with my friend, Andrew Buckman.

Get Noticed! Theme for WordPress has features that no other WordPress theme has. It is particularly helpful for anyone wanting to build a personal brand—authors, speakers, comedians, musicians, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, entrepreneurs, and so forth.

Note: If you need to move an existing blog from WordPress.com to your new self-hosted WordPress blog, I recommend you read this article: “How to Properly Move Your Blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.”

If you want to learn more about WordPress, I recommend WP101.com. This is a tutorial site with hundreds of videos on every aspect of WordPress.

If you know someone else who could benefit from this information, please pass along the link to this post. If you would like to embed the screencast in your own blog, please feel free to do so. You can find the video on both Vimeo and YouTube.

Optional: What if you have already registered your domain name on another service? No big deal. The first thing you will need to do is to point your domain name to the Bluehost servers. This will vary depending on where you registered it. Bluehost describes the process here.

For example, at GoDaddy, where I have some domains registered, you log in, then go to Domains | Domain Management screen:

GoDaddy Domain Management

Now click on the domain name you want to point to Bluehost. You should now be looking at the “Domain Details” page. Scroll down to the bottom, left-hand side of the page. You should see a section called “Nameservers”:

GoDaddy Nameservers Page

Click on Set Nameservers. A new screen should pop-up.

  • Enter ns1.Bluehost.com in the field for Nameserver 1.
  • Enter ns2.Bluehost.com in the field for Nameserver 2.

Click OK. That’s it. Now log out. It typically takes 24–48 hours for these changes to take effect. You might get lucky, and it will start working in an hour or two.

Please note: Bluehost or your Registrar (the company from whom you bought your domain) may change their procedures from time to time. If you have any problems, please check with them. I do not provide technical support for this process.

Once you have done this, you can begin the process of setting up your WordPress blog. In Step #2, after you click Sign Up Now, you will need to enter your domain name in the right-most box that says, “I Have a Domain Name.”

Bluehost Screen Shot

Now click the next button. Everything else should be the same. If you get stuck, you may need to wait for the change in your Nameservers to take effect before proceeding. Be patient.

Question: What questions do you have about the process of setting up your blog? I’m here to help! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • Kaci

    This was so helpful! 20 mins = self hosted site. Thank you!

  • San Diego Realtor

    The link for – ” How to properly move properly move you blog from wordpress.com to wrodpress.org is not working.
    I have a blog at http://www.BestSanDiegoHomesguides.com ( it’s a wordpress free site) and I want to move it to wordpress.org
    Can you share the link again?
    Thanks
    Janet

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      The article should be available now. Evidently their site was just down when you checked earlier. Thanks.

  • Gavin

    Thanks for the help! I never thought it would have been so easy until i stumbled upon your site. Aloha from Hawaii!

  • Dolores E. Torres-Green

    Michael,

    Thank YOU for sharing this much needed information. Is it possible for you to email this whole blog to my email account at dgreentorres@gmail.com so I can have further access to it. I will need to refer back to it often as I proceed. Love the podcasts as well!

    Thank You.
    Dolores E. Torres-Green

  • Diana Rockwell

    Micheal if I have a blog on Word Press, can I marry it to the new one I would create?

  • Christi Lee Miranda

    Just set my WP up using your step-by-step. It made it easy-peasy!! Thanks for the amazing help! The screen cast was perfect for a visual learner like me! I could pause and make the adjustments I needed to keep up. I am a huge fan of your podcasts and this one was just perfect for me!

  • Krista Sharp

    You are a living Angel for doing this Michael. Thanks A Million!

  • http://www.launchmywpsite.com Scott Perry

    One note, probably should’ve put a picture up of the control panel. If you are new to using a self hosted site the array of buttons to press can be overwhelming. Although the picture would have likely changed by the time it was posted.

  • Lisa C

    After watching your video, I am finally ready to jump in the waters of blogging. Alas, when I went to Bluehost.com and entered my choice of domain name, all I got was a white screen of death – ugh! Tried again and still the white screen prevails. This is not a good start to what I hope is a long-term relationship. Is this typical?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      No, I have never heard that response before. Try clearing your browser cache and try again. If that doesn’t work, please call Bluehost support. They are outstanding.

      • Lisa C

        Thanks – they were very helpful and I am now writing my first blog! http://www.domestic-eng.com is on its way!!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Woo-hoo! I am so glad. Congratulations.

  • http://www.nicebloggingtips.com/ Rohit Singh

    Great blog post and I completely agree about your views and yes make a blog with stands out matters from rest

  • Melissa G

    Please forgive me if these things have been asked and answered already, but with over 600 comments that is a lot to wade through. Does the price of $3.95/month stay the same or increase after the first year? Is there a fee you pay up front to acquire your domain name? Is there an annual fee to pay for keeping your domain name?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You get the $3.95 price per month price when you pay for three years in advance. The domain name is free—or included within this cost. I am not sure about the annual fee for the domain name. I think it is included for the length of your hosting, but you might want to verify with Bluehost customer support. Thanks.

      • Melissa G

        Thanks so much!

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  • CoachJoyMartinez

    Thank you so much for this post! I recently switched to Bluehost and am very happy with their service so far. Your post made it very easy to make the switch as well! I was not happy with my previous host provider and their service, so I’m looking forward to using Bluehost and get posting asap! Thanks again Michael!

  • Charmant Sengabira

    Excellent presentation. You are amazing:)

  • billy

    HI how to resove this error

    http://bloggytech.in/wp-admin/

    Please visit this URL…it showing this error, after installing it onceagain its showing the same…..Please reply

  • http://webhostinghuren.wordpress.com Webhosting Huren

    Great guide to setup your wordpress on your webhosting. Thanks alot.

  • http://www.blogmat.net/ Mohammed Saimon

    Superb post. Its very easy to set up a wordpress blog and you made this tutorial so ease. Thanks
    BlogMat

  • philly

    Love it Michael. I found another good place to look up setup info -> http://bit.ly/Sh3v5t

  • http://techtage.com/ Rohit Palit

    Just awesome, Michael! Great resource for beginners.

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  • Chris Mullen

    Michael, what software did you use to record and edit this screencast. It is very nicely done! Thx

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. I recorded and edited it in ScreenFlow for Mac.

      • Chris Mullen

        Thanks Michael for the quick reply. Greatly appreciated

  • Adam

    Thank you so much for the video. I decided to go to bluehost after reading your article and an study on http://www.mywordpresshosting.com/aboutwordpress Thanks again for the great content. I really appreciate it.

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    Thanks for the clear and detailed steps Mike , the Video was really helpful …cheers

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  • how2lab

    Great Article!

    Here is a link to some more articles relevant to the subject – http://www.how2lab.com/internet/hosting/index.php (Guide to Hosting)

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  • http://www.RequiredReading.com Joe Chapuis

    Great post, Michael. A few thoughts…

    If you’re on a tight budget, at $3.95/month, Bluehost is definitely tough to beat (as long as you don’t mind pre-paying for 3 years).

    But if you care about the speed of your web site, uptime/reliability, security and customer support (and you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks a month) then WP Engine may be the smarter choice.

    I recently started moving all of my WP sites over to them. It’s soooo much better than self-hosting (I previously hosted my WP sites on my own dedicated servers) or traditional shared hosting.

    Private “staging” site, auto-caching, CDN integration… very nice :)

    Here’s a comparison:
    http://createablognow.com/wordpresshosting

    Thanks,
    -joe

  • Amo

    Hello, thanks for the guide. I already carried out all of these steps with hostgator but since signing up last night until now, almost 24 hours later, I’m still unable to access my domain or my wp-admin page. When I type these in the address bar either it takes me to some search engine, or it says “Google Chrome is unable to find this site”

    I read about domain propagation but it seems that others get their site up and running in minutes. Do you have any advice?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      It does often take 24-48 hours for your domain t be propagated across the Internet. It it doesn’t happen in that time frame, I would call the support number.

  • Akshit Aggarwal

    Hi, very nice guide. I performed all the steps to set up my own WordPress hosting and finally achieved the results. Thanx.

  • Michelle

    i had a great experience by going through this.The information really helped me a lot and all thanks to this website.I tried with http://www.needithosting.com/ website but the information on this website really helped me and made my way far more easy.

  • Garry

    Michael, what about VPS and WordPress? I don’t like the speed of most shared hosts (including Bluehost).

    Granted, there is a learning curve, but once you learn how to do it you’ll never have to worry about crowded server space and sharing computing cycles with 100s of other sites.

    I wrote a short guide here (http://g37752.hubpages.com/hub/Using-a-Virtual-Private-Server-VPS) if anyone’s interested in getting more bang for their buck

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  • Thomas Kejser

    Hi Michael. This is a great intro blog. However, I find that almost immediately after creating the first post, I need to analyse my content and add plug-in that automate common tasks to get your site loading fast and looking good in SEO.

    I wrote up a guide that builds on the next steps after getting set up like you describe here: http://kejser.org/how-i-host-on-wordpress/

    Currently, I use TSO host in the UK. Might not be a great site in the US, but it serves Europe very well for wordpress. Super helpful support team there too.

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  • Mary

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been lost in a world of info until now. Wonderful post!