Hey there, Lacking Cents reader! We are about a dozen posts in, and it’s about time I finally document for you how I created this website and blog in case you want to start your own blogging journey.
We have grown to nearly 3,000 Twitter and 1,000 Instagram followers since launching just two months ago, and I believe our growing readership is directly related to the incredible tools that allow me to create and maintain this website. Our server has been spectacular (never a second of down time!), the theme has been enjoyable to customize, and WordPress is without a doubt the only way to blog.
If you are thinking of creating a website or blog of your own, take a look at some of the steps I took to create Lacking Cents and feel free to email me or post in the comments with any questions! Also know this — I am not an expert coder, nor have I ever built a website before. WordPress and the theme I use, Avada, do the heavy lifting. All I do is some dragging and dropping. Oh, and some writing!
Here are some steps to get you started.
Step 1: Pick a Web Hosting Company and Domain Name
Picking a web hosting company was easy for me because I knew Bluehost’s reputation for speed and reliability from other financial bloggers. It also costs less than the price of a Starbucks latte each month to run, and that includes my very own domain name (LackingCents.com!).
When evaluating your own situation, a good question to start with is: do I want to make money blogging, or do I just want a quick place to jot down some thoughts from time to time? If the latter is how you feel, a free WordPress.com account should be sufficient. Your domain name will be something like lackingcents.wordpress.com and WordPress will run its own advertisements on your website, but if monetization is not a key objective this may not bother you.
If you would like to potentially make money from your website — whether you have a product or service to sell, or through advertisements and affiliate programs, then having your own domain is key, and Bluehost offers one free when you host with them. I knew early on that I wanted to have my own domain because it was inexpensive and the name “Lacking Cents” encapsulated my family’s financial journey. It didn’t even dawn on me at first that it would help drive traffic to my site — it has.
Back to Bluehost. Bluehost is a web hosting company that has been around since 2003. It is a low-cost option that is cheaper the longer you prepay up front. I prepaid three years for Lacking Cents to maximize the value. Additionally, I bought Domain Privacy Protection to keep my personal info hidden. Instead of showing my personal information, WHOIS instead shows Bluehost’s information so I can maintain my privacy.
- If you do decide to sign up for Bluehost, feel free to use my link for a discount off the regular monthly price.
- When signing up, Bluehost will try to sell you a few add-ons that I believe are unnecessary. Aside from the basic account plan with free primary domain, the only add-on I suggest is Domain Privacy Protection if you prefer to keep your name and address private. I would skip Site Backup Pro, Search Engine Jumpstart, and SiteLock Security, as they are all unnecessary monthly fees. You can replicate the features through free WordPress plugins once WordPress is setup.
Step 2: Pick a Platform
A platform is basically the program that powers your website. I mentioned that I am not a coder, and I don’t have to be because I use an awesome platform, WordPress! WordPress is free and extremely easy to install for Bluehost users. Bluehost offers a one-click install function in its panel, so you are up and running with WordPress very quickly.
I attribute WordPress’ amazingness to three things:
- Themes: Due to the popularity of WordPress, there are countless website themes pre-built for you. This means that you can spend more time writing because the creative work on your website has been done for you. WordPress has many free themes, and you can upload others that you find with a simple Google search. In the next step I discuss the theme that Lacking Cents uses.
- Plug-Ins: The customizations are endless with WordPress plugins. I love finding new and useful plugins to add to my website to make it more functional and powerful. Some of my favorite free WordPress plugins include:
- AddToAny Share Buttons: The floating share buttons on the left side of the screen as well as the bottom of all my posts are brought to you by the free WordPress plugin AddToAny. Besides seamlessly integrating into the design of my pages, it brings in a lot of traffic and offers a way for readers to help share my website with their readers.
- Revive Old Post: Allows you to automatically post old WordPress articles to Facebook or Twitter at a defined interval. A great way to keep traffic coming back to your blog and keep older but relevant content in the spotlight.
- Yoast SEO: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is essential to building a successful website. Yoast helps your website rank with search engines like Google and Bing by creating a great sitemap, offering page analysis, and displaying a snippet analysis so you can see exactly how a page appears in a Google search.
- Support: WordPress support is excellent, if only because it is such a giant in the website platform arena. Support is community-based, and since so many people use WordPress everyday, it’s rare that you have a problem that cannot be resolved with a simple search of the forums or Google.
Step 3: Build & Write!
Once you are set up with your web host and WordPress, it’s time to build a website and start writing. I mentioned the great WordPress themes, many of which are free to use. I chose to purchase the theme that Lacking Cents utilizes because it is extremely easy to create an awesome website without any coding knowledge at all. It is also the #1 selling WordPress theme of all-time, and the support is unmatched. For every question I have about Bluehost or WordPress, I have about 15 or 20 for my theme (seriously), so having good support from my WordPress theme provider is essential.
The Avada theme by ThemeForest has been simple to learn, and has allowed me — a non-coder — to single-handedly create and maintain this website. I have never paid anyone to build or maintain my site, and I do not think I ever will. The theme’s website offers live previews of its many features. I highly suggest checking it out and considering it for your WordPress website. Click here to learn more about the Avada theme for WordPress.
Keeping Track of Your Website on the Go
I also highly recommend downloading the WordPress mobile app for your phone. It is a great way to keep tabs on your website when you are not in front of the computer. You can create and edit posts, see and reply to comments, and track your site’s statistics on the go. I love that I can go about my day knowing my phone will notify me whenever there is a new interaction on my website.
Questions? Please let me know! And for those of you taking the blogging plunge, good luck! You’ll be glad you did.
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