Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I have used all of the products listed below and recommend them because they are helpful and companies that I trust.
1) DOMAINE NAME AND HOSTING
A host provides server space for your site. When your site lives on a server, others can find it on the internet (aka.. choosing a host is essential).
Click here to go to Bluehost and start your own blog. (The link will open in a new window so you can reference these instructions while you work.) Click on the green get started now button.
Note: The images and pricing shown in this post may vary when you visit the Bluehost site as they are always improving and updating. Don't stress.. the process will still be the same.
Select Your Plan:
Choose the plan you'd like to start with by clicking one of the green "select" buttons. I recommend starting off with the plus option. You can always upgrade later. Prime is the only option that comes with Domain privacy (highly recommended). If you choose plus, you will still have the option to add it later.
Pick a Domaine Name:
This part is exciting! What do you want your domain name to be? A domain name is a web address. For example, SimplySissom.com is my domain name.
Enter your desired domain on the left to check availability. The domaine name that you would like to use may or may not be available. Bluehost will provide you with some alternatives (example simplysissom.blog instead of .com). If you are having trouble finding the perfect domaine name, you can click on "choose free domain name later" and continue with setting up your blog.
Enter Your Account Info:
On the next page, you will enter your account information. Make sure to provide a working email address because this is where your login information will be sent.
Choose an account plan based on how far ahead you want to pay. Bluehost does not offer a monthly payment option, but the prices are very reasonable. You can select how far you want to pay in advance. The longer you commit, the lower the price. You can choose between 1 year, 2 year, 3 year and 4 year contracts.
Below is a screen shot of what I used for package information settings.
The Domain Privacy protection that I added shields your personal address and phone number from being displayed to the public. I think it's a dollar per month well spent. If you are using a business address/phone number, you may be comfortable skipping this add on.
The total shown is the amount that you will pay today. You will not have to pay this again for year(s).. depending on what plan you selected.
Once you have made your package selections, enter your billing information. You will need to check the box that confirms that you agree to the terms and conditions and then click submit. You will then be asked if you want to add any upgrades or special offers. I recommend clicking the "no thanks" link.
Activate your domaine:
After completing your purchase you will be sent a series of welcome emails that contain your login information. Locate the email that provides the link to activate your name and click the button inside to finish the activation process.
Once your purchase is complete, you'll be welcomed and prompted to select a password. Just click the "create your password" button to choose a secure password.
This password is what you will use to login and get started.
In September of 2017, the next step (Installing WordPress) got a whole lot simpler. WordPress is now automatically installed so that you can get started building your site right away!
Click on the blue button in the "congratulations" window and get started with WordPress.
Once logged in, Bluehost will give you the option to pick a free theme. There are several reasons that I recommend NOT using a free theme. Free themes are often not kept updated and provide little to no tech support. Once a theme becomes outdated, it can leave your website vulnerable to hackers.
For now, click "skip this step" at the bottom of the screen. We will install your theme in the next step. You will now be prompted to start building your site.
When the "All Done!" window pops up, click on "Start Building."
Note: Your domain name may look a little funny when you first login to WordPress. Don't stress! It takes up to 24 hours for your new domain to become registered. Go ahead and begin working on your site. Bluehost will switch it over to the new domain when it's ready.
Once you click the start building button, you are taken to the backend of WordPress. When you login to your website, this is what you will see.
Note: To access the backend of your new WordPress site, type in your domaine/wp-admin. For example, the backend of my blog is simplysissom.com/wp-admin. You can also access your site by login in through Bluehost.
The black column on the left is your WordPress Dashboard. You will get very familiar with this. Skip the blue buttons (business and personal) and choose "I don't need help" instead.
2) Genesis Framework - Why You NEED it.
At this point you officially have your own food blog, BUT... there are a few things we need to do to get your new blog looking pretty! It's time to pick your theme!
Simply Sissom (and LOTS of other blogs) run on a framework called Genesis. Genesis themes consist of two parts: the framework (called Genesis framework) + a child theme (each child theme has a different look and theme). Genesis is one of the most well-known and reputable WordPress theme companies. Here are the reasons I choose to use it on my site.
1. Genesis is built on a 2-part framework (child themes):
Good themes consist of a 2-part system with two main layers: the "parent" theme underneath and the "child" on top. The parent company provides the functionality of the site and "child" theme allows you to customize the parent theme without accidentally messing up the "parent" underneath.
In short, if you don't use a child theme, you run the risk of messing up your blog every time you change the design. Here is an analogy to help...
Imagine you want to paint a beautiful piece of art to display in your son's bedroom. You can choose to paint directly on the wall, or instead you can purchase a canvas. Painting directly on the wall (parent theme) is risky. What if you mess up? Also.. if you move, you would have to leave the painting behind and repaint it in your son's new bedroom. You would definitely opt to paint on the canvas instead. If you made a mistake, you would simply need to buy a new canvas. If you move, you would just pack up the canvas, take it with you and hang it on a new wall.
Using a two-part theme is the same concept. Making customizations to the parent theme is risky (like painting on your living room wall). But customizing a child theme is like painting on a canvas. There's way less risk and you won't have to do your customizations over again every single time that WordPress updates (and WordPress updates All. The. Time.).
Reputable paid-for themes provide support. And when you are building a blog, this can be invaluable. Once you purchase the Genesis framework you will be given login information to access support forums and a help desk.
3. Large Selection
There are LOTS of genesis themes to choose from and more are being added all the time.
NOTE: Once you purchase the Genesis framework, you own it for life. You can use it on an unlimited amount of sites that you create. If you decide down the road to purchase a different child theme, you will not need to repurchase the Genesis framework.
4. SEO, Security, Speed, Etc.
If you don't know how to optimize these things yourself.. with Genesis you don't have to. You can rest assured that people who know what they are doing are keeping your site protected, fast and optimized for search engines.
Purchasing and Installing the Genesis Framework:
Once you have purchased Genesis, you will be prompted to download your theme. Save it to your desktop so that you can access it easily in the next step.
In order to upload your new theme to WordPress it will need to be downloaded as a .zip file. Some computers are set to automatically "unzip" files that are deemed safe. You will need to override this setting.
If you are using a mac, this can be done by opening Safari, clicking on preferences and then navigating to the General tab. Uncheck the option open "safe" files after downloading.
Step 1: Installing the Genesis Framework (aka Parent Theme) on your WordPress Site
Login to your WordPress account. (www.yoursite.com/wp-admin)
From the black column, select appearance --> themes. Then click on the add new button towards the top of the screen.
Click on the "Upload Theme" button towards the top of the screen.
Click on the "Choose File" Theme.
Select the Genesis zip file that you saved to your desktop.
Click on the "Install Now" button and then click "activate." (<--- really important step)
Step 2: Install the Genesis Child Theme (aka Foodie Pro, Brunch, etc.)
Note: The Genesis Framework needs a child theme to run properly. With your purchase of Genesis you will receive the Genesis Sample Child Theme for free. This theme gives you just enough basics, but without knowledge of coding you will have a hard time customizing and making your site "pretty." I recommend purchasing a child theme that fits layout and aesthetic desires.
Here are the top 3 themes that I recommend:
You can check out the Genesis child themes that are available by clicking here and selecting "Shops for Themes" from the menu bar.
To download and install the the Genesis Child theme you follow the EXACT same process described above until you get to the "Choose File" screen. This time, instead of uploading the Genesis Zip file, you will upload the child theme that you have selected.
From here you will be taken to a screen that shows all of the available themes that you can run on the Genesis Framework. Keep in mind that the colors and fonts are customizable (most of the themes will provide support to help you through this process) so focus more on the layout and structure. If you are going to be sharing recipes, a theme that has a built in recipe plugin is a plus. It will save you from having to pay someone to customize your site later.
Simply Sissom utilizes the Foodie Pro Child Theme with very limited customization. I have been very happy with it and found the setup guide to be well-written and accurate.
Note: It is VERY IMPORTANT that you upload Genesis Framework (the parent theme) before uploading your child theme of choice. If you upload the child theme first, the process won't work. If you make this mistake, Delete the child theme and the Genesis parent theme and start over.
At this point, you officially have your own food blog! Wahooo! Welcome to the blogosphere my friend!