Launch your Blog Checklist.
Here is a quick 10 point checklist of everything you need to do to install your self hosted blog.
Some of the Label Titles may be changed inside of the 3rd party software (hostgator, wordpress, aweber, etc) so stick to the point and use your common sense to connect the dots if that is the case.
1. Buy a domain name. I prefer dealing with Godaddy.com simply because they have excellent customer service. Think about the name (domain name) you want to own and/or brand. I'd highly recommend securing your own name (JohnSmith.com) if it's available. Keep it generic, not any company specific. If it's not your name then keep it relevant to the content you intend to hold on that blog. Preferably get the domain name that ends with a .com, it's easier for readers to remember. Secure the purchase of the domain name and do not accept any additional offers from GoDaddy while checking out. Do select the purchase for 2 years, Google like it in it's searches. Once the purchase is complete save your username and password and DO NOT LOSE IT.
2. Purchase your hosting account. There are several great hosting services and I personally use and recommend Hostgator.com. They have amazing customer service especially via online chat 24/7. Easy to use and to setup. Once you're on Hostgator.com click on View Web Hosting Plans. Choose the plan you like ( I recommend going with Baby Plan ). If there aren't any special discounts at the time and you see room for Promo Code enter "raphaelmavi" to receive $9.95 off your purchase. When asked for an existing domain name or new domain name, go ahead and type in the domain name you just purchased from Godaddy.com. Complete the order and save the login information. You will receive an email with the confirmation of your purchase and also your username and password. Congrats! You now have your own hosting account and your own personal domain name!
3. Change the name servers. Retrieve your Godaddy account information. Login in from the top of the website. Then click on My Account on right of the screen. Select My Products and click on it. You're now in Domain Manager. Click on the domain name, then select Name Servers from the menu option and click on Set NameServers. Once in it, select the option "I have specific nameservers for my domains". Highlight the nameservers that are in there and delete them. You will theon enter the name servers from your Hostgator account. In a separate window or browser tab open your hostgator control panel (the link is in the email they sent you) and login with your username and password (also in that same email). Once logged in, you'll see an offer (pop up window) from Hostgator to install WordPress, simple install, DO NOT accept it and cancel it. Scroll down and on the left hand side you will see Name Servers. There will be two of them. Copy and paste each one into the Godaddy section accordingly. Replace the two nameservers in Godaddy with hostgator nameservers. Click OK. Give it the time needed for the nameservers to move over.
4. Setup your Email Marketing for Auto responders. While you're waiting for the Nameservers to move over this is a perfect time to setup your Email system. I recommend using Aweber.com only because they have the friendliest customer service reps and also the richest database of email templates and opt in form designs. Select the plan thats best for you. They give you the 1st month for only $1 to test drive. Once the order is complete save your username and password. Login to Aweber to create your 1st list along with the opt in form. Check out the tutorial I have for your that shows exactly how to get that done Here.
5. Installing WordPress Blog. Log in to your Hostgator account again. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you'll see a Smiley Face button that's labeled "Fantastico." Click on it. Now you will see several options in the left column. Click on WordPress. Click on New Installation. Make sure the domain name you're installing the blog on is appearing in the Domain section. Leave "Install in directory" blank and continue down the page to place blog on your root domain. Create a user name and password for your blog. Write the information down, so you don't forget it. Complete the other information according to your personal preferences. (All can be changed from inside your blog later.) Now click on Install WordPress. Finish the installation. You can email yourself the installation of the blog for safe keeping. Now you can go to your blog and see the page (www.yourdomainname.com)
6. Optimize Your Blog Title and Tag Line for the Search Engines. Log in to your blog at www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin.php with the user name and password you created. Along the top, you will see several links. First, click on “options.” Change the default blog title, making sure that your title includes your main keyword phrase. In other words, make sure the title of your blog is relevant, so that when people search for those words on Google, your blog can be listed in the search results. For example, this could be your company’s name, a particular product you are promoting, or the focus of your company’s product line. Make sure your blog title includes relevant keywords. The content of your blog will work to reinforce your blog’s relevancy to the keywords in the blog title.
Clean up the comments and delete the default posts.
7. Protect Your Blog from Spam. Log in to your blog at www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin.php and on the left click on Plugins and next to Akismet click Activate. To activate Akismet you will need a API Key. Get the key from Akismet website once you setup your free profile. The key will be emailed to you. Copy the key and paste it into the Akismet plugin in your wordpress.
8. Add Google Analytics to Your Blog for Tracking Statistics. Set up a free account at http://www.google.com/analytics
Add your domain name as the website to track. Go through the setup until you get to the page that gives you the tracking code. Leave that page open.Go to your blog dashboard and locate ‘Plugins’ on the left. Click on ‘add new’. Type “Analyticator” into the search form. Choose Google analyticator to install. Install the plugin by clicking on ‘install’ and continue installation. Go back to the “Plugins” section on the left sidebar. Click on “installed plugins.” Scroll down to “inactive plugins” and locate Google Analyticator. Activate it. The very last link on your left sidebar is for “settings,” click on it, and then look for the Google Analytics below it. Enable Analytics. Go back to the Google Analytics site that you left open and get the “Web Property ID” code from the top box. Paste it into the box that asks for “Your Google Analytics ID.” Scroll to the bottom of the page and hit “save settings.”
Done! Now, you‘ll be able to track your blog traffic on Google.
9. Change Your Blog’s Theme. You can choose from thousands of free themes in wordpres' database or your can buy a premium theme to really stand out and brand yourself. Here is a post you may find useful that fully explains the difference between free themes vs. premium themes. To install a free theme find Appearance in your WordPress control pannel. Click on Themes. Then Install New Theme. Preferably choose a theme with a right side bar with 1 or 2 columns.
10. Add an AWeber Form to the Blog. Create an Opt In form in Aweber. <------ Watch this tutorial if you don't want to make mistakes. Once you're done creating the form, copy the code by highlighting the whole code and right click to select Copy. Back in your WordPress control pannel find Appearance then click on Widgets. Drag “Text ” box to the top of the sidebar area. Click on “Text ” box’s configure button. Paste the code of your Aweber form into the “Text ” text box in your blog. Close box. Save sidebar. Opt in to your own list to make sure everything is working properly. Don't forget to add a welcome message in your auto responder (in Aweber).
Congratulations! You now have your 1st self hosted and branded blog!!!