As a photographer, the best way to promote your art and start building a distinctive personal brand is to have a photography blog. I outlined my position and reasons why every photographer needs a blog powered by WordPress in my article, “Why Starting a Photography Blog is Crucial for any Photographer.”
Today, I’ll share a very practical post on how to start a WordPress photography blog in less than 10 minutes.
You will learn the following:
- How to register a domain name and secure hosting for your blog
- How to install WordPress
- How to make your blog aesthetically pleasing
Finding the Right Web Host
Choosing the right hosting company for your blog is critical. Over the years, I was burned more than once by poor hosting services. It cost me a lot of money and endless hours of wasted time. These days I am very picky about whom I trust with my blogs, my clients’ websites and personal projects.
In many cases, it is not about the price as higher prices do not always guarantee better service.
A few years ago when I started to use WordPress for most of my projects, it was important for me to find a WordPress friendly hosting company, a company I could trust. The first place that came to mind to find recommendations and advice was WordPress.org, the company behind the WordPress platform. The first recommended WordPress host was and still is BlueHost. I started to use BlueHost and never looked back.
Right now 90% of my sites and my clients’ sites are hosted at BlueHost.
I will walk you through the entire process of registering a domain name, choosing the right hosting plan and installing WordPress, all of which should take less than five minutes.
1. Choosing A Domain Name and Host
Go to BlueHost.com and click the GET STARTED NOW button.
If you are just starting your blog, opt for the STARTER plan. In a year or two when, you grow your blog, you can upgrade to the PLUS plan. The real advantage of the PLUS plan is that you can host multiple blogs (websites).
Choosing Domain Name
Choosing a domain name is the fun part and takes some brainstorming and creativity. The name you choose will be part of your identity and your personal brand.
As a photographer (artist) you have two obvious choices:
- Your name-based domain. It is common for artists to use their names when building their personal brand. Example: JohnSmith.com, JohnSmithPhoto.com, JohnSmithStudio.com, JohnSmithCreative.com.
- Abstract domain name. In my case it is PhotoTraces.com. I decided against using my name because of uncommon spellings of my first name (Viktor) and my Russian last name is not very easy to spell for an English speaking audience. I opted for an abstract name that is not too long, indicates its relationship to photography and is easy to remember and spell.
After you come up with some creative ideas, check if your domain is available by entering it in the form that looks like this:
Package Information Choices
Here, you have a few options. If you choose the long-term plan (36 months),you can save quite a bit of money; however, I suggest picking the 12 month term and see if you are comfortable. After 12 months, you can then renew for a 36 month term. This is how I started with BlueHost.
Do not worry about the rest of the options; they are useful but not essential. You can get them later when you need them.
What I like about the BlueHost setup process is its simplicity. They combined Domain Name Registration and Hosting Setup into one easy process.
Bonus: If you decide to host with BlueHost they give you the domain name for FREE.
After you filled in your personal information and chose your hosting package, click NEXT to complete your purchase. You will now be asked to create a password for your account.
2. Installing WordPress
Installing WordPress used to be a very technical step that required database creation, FTP transfer, etc. It was too complex for most non-technical people (artists, photographers, etc.). BlueHost streamlined the entire process by making WordPress installation extremely easy with only a few clicks.
Login with the credentials you picked in the previous step. Select the INSTALL WORDPRESS icon to start the process.
Simple informational screen here: Click the INSTALL button.
There is nothing here to complete. Select your domain name from the drop-down menu if it is not selected (it should already be selected). Click the CHECK DOMAIN button.
Check SHOW ADVANCED OPTIONS and click INSTALL NOW.
Select a name for your blog (mine is PhotoTraces) and create unique credentials (username and password). Click INSTALL NOW.
Now, you can sit and wait. Normally, it takes less than a minute.
When the installation bar turns orange, click the VIEW CREDENTIALS button.
Click VIEW link.
This is the final information screen of your WordPress installation. Click the ADMIN URL link to login to the Admin interface of your brand new blog.
Use your credentials from the previous screen to login to your blog’s admin panel.
That’s it! Congratulations, you are now officially the owner of a photography blog!
At this point, you are ready to create your first blog post.
3. Customizing Design
WordPress standard installation comes with the default theme. The theme defines the design and layout of your blog. The default theme is a bit plain and, therefore, I suggest selecting a theme that reflects your personality and photography style.
WordPress has thousands of free and paid themes from which I am sure you can find something you like.
Here is a list of themes that I am familiar with and would recommend:
- Genesis Framework by StudioPress – This is the current framework PhotoTraces.com runs on. StudioPress provides out-of-box search engine optimization, responsive design, airtight security, instant updates, faster load times and easy customization. The theme I use is Streamline Pro.
- Elegant Themes – Beautifully designed and well-priced, for $69 you have access to 87 themes and can use them on multiple blogs. If you are just starting, this is my recommended option as you can experiment by using different designs and see which one suits you the best. I use Explorable theme for my Photo Location Guide Interactive Map.