What’s stopping you from starting a self-hosted blog?
For many, it’s the cost. For others, it’s that they have no idea how. Today I’m going to trample both of these worries with a tutorial on how to create a self-hosted WordPress.org blog for the tidy price of exactly zero dollars.
Yep you heard me, zero! Totally free.
What does it mean to be self-hosted?
There’s a lot of blogs out there. You’ve probably read your fair share. Many are hosted on Wordpress.com or Blogspot, free platforms that allow anyone to quickly and easily set up their own blog.
If you just want a place on the Internet to share stories with friends and family, one of these options will do fine… but the truth is, if you want to take your blog to the next level and maybe make money from it in the future, then being self-hosted (i.e. on your own web host and not theirs) is really important. WordPress.org is different than WordPress.com because it acts as a content management system that you put on your own site, so you have full control over everything. Trust me, the amount of possibilities it unlocks in terms of themes, plugins and advertising is invaluable. WP Beginner has a nice post comparing WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I suggest you give it a read if you’re still confused!
So this is my advice: if you want to go pro, then choose self-hosting. A lot of people fear this option because they assume it’s always expensive, but trust me, you can do it all for free…….
So how do you get a free self-hosted WordPress.org blog?!
It sounds a little too good to be true, but there’s honestly no catch. Biz.nf is my web host, and I started off with them because they offer free hosting packages with 1 click WordPress installation. Today in this tutorial I’m going to show you step-by-step how to sign up and get started in less than 30 minutes.
A word of caution though: this is only a starting point. If all goes well and your traffic explodes (here’s my guide on how to make that happen), then you’ll quickly outgrow the free option, so don’t be surprised if your site starts getting laggy and strange. Upgrading to a paid package is easy though, and very reasonably priced. The truth is, to have a successful blog, money must be spent, so a free site can only get you so far. BUT if you’re a complete newbie, or you’re a WordPress.com/Blogger writer looking to test drive the self-hosted route, this is perfect. So, save me the hate mail, just know that one day (hopefully), your site will outgrow the free option. I’ve been using Biz.nf ever since I started and I haven’t had any issues with it (in fact, their service is lightning quick!) although it’s not a super popular web host. So, use your own judgment, but this hosting works great for me 🙂
Alright, let’s get started!
Step one: head here to the Biz.nf website.
Press that big red sign up button, which will bring you to their secure order page.
Step two: choose the “FREE Hosting Plan”.
You’ll see it at the bottom of the list. You can choose a domain name at this point (which costs extra) but feel free to just press ‘Continue’, because Biz.nf comes with a free co.nf vanity URL that is a decent substitute for a beginner.
Step three: Enter your info.
I’m assuming you don’t have any promo codes (come on guys, this is free), so just type in your details and press Continue.
Step four: Bask in your success!
Woah, you’re already signed up. Insane. Go to your email to confirm your account and then login with the account information that you’ve been sent. This shouldn’t take too long. Be sure to check your Spam folder if you’ve been waiting a while.
Step five: Log into your dashboard and get your domain name set up.
If this is your first time looking at your own web hosting portal, then all these buttons and sections might be overwhelming. Don’t worry, once you get WordPress set up, you’ll rarely have to come back here in your day-to-day blogging life. What we’re going to do now is get you a nice vanity url that looks more professional than “HoorayHooray.wordpress.com”, so click on ‘Domain Manager’ at the top of that middle section.
Step six: Choose a catchy title for your co.nf domain.
What’s cool about Biz.nf is that they give you a co.nf domain free of charge. Through this, your blog will be “HoorayHooray.co.nf”, rather than something like “HoorayHooray.wordpress.com”. Trust me, this looks way more professional already, and to the unassuming everyday reader, they might not even realize it’s not a paid domain. I do recommend buying your own domain name down the road when you decide to go the professional route, but if you’re just starting out, you don’t necessarily need to commit to this expense just yet.
Type in your name (make it easy to remember and avoid hyphens), then press Create! If no one else has claimed it yet, it’s all yours.
Tada! Look! It’s ready!!Step seven: Install WordPress.
WordPress is my content management system of choice, as it is for the majority of bloggers out there. It’s amazingly intuitive and with Biz.nf, SO simple to set up. Click on Zacky Tools Installer (under the Domain Manager) in your dashboard.
Select WordPress as your platform.
Pick a theme. It doesn’t matter which you pick at this point because you can easily change it later, plus most of these default themes are pretty cringey on their own!
Choose any extra plugins you might want to install. None of these are mandatory, but provide extra functionality to your blog right off the bat. I definitely recommend at least Broken Link Checker, Secure WordPress and WP Super Cache.Choose which site you’ll be setting up your WordPress on. This will probably be the one you just created. Enter your blog name. Google loves blog names that give insight into what your topic is… it’s just nice for SEO purposes, so feel free to do something like “YAY Travel Blog | tips and tricks for budget travel” or another descriptive name.
After that you should be ready to Install! Confirm that all the info has been entered correctly and get that installation going. It should only take a few minutes, and then boom, your WordPress site will be fully installed!
Go to yourblog.co.nf/wp-admin to log into your WordPress for the first time… what a rush!
If you’ve used WordPress.com before, then you’ll notice the dashboard is very similar. From here, you’ll now be able to publish new posts, change themes and everything else you’re able to do on a WordPress.com blog… and more.
Here’s what it looks like on the front end. Nothing fancy yet, but that’s because we haven’t added any content or themes! There are a lot of nice free themes out there, but the best ones are of course, the premium ones that you have to pay for. ThemeForest has an awesome selection, so be sure to check them out if you want a spiffy new theme.
And there you have it, your own self-hosted WordPress.org blog, set up in less than 30 min… for free! If you were just scrolling through, what are you doing? Head to the Biz.nf website to get started.
And if you’re a beginner looking for more advice for where to go from here, check out my No BS Guide to Travel Blogging as well as these posts in my Blogtoberfest series:
Last but not least, don’t forget to become part of my Blogger Mailing List. I love to share all sorts of awesome tips and guides with my community, plus exclusive resources you won’t find anywhere else… so what are you waiting for?
PS: This post contains an affiliate link for Biz.nf which gives me a small commission to fuel my avocado addiction. Of course, I would never recommend anything unless it has worked well for me! Feel free to email if you have any questions.