How to start a WordPress blog on green energy with GreenGeeks in 2021 (it’s cheaper + better than Bluehost)

Starting a blog is more accessible in 2021 than it’s ever been before. Starting a blog on green energy is even better, and I’m gonna show you how you can do it 46 cents cheaper than Bluehost and still have a better quality host.

Before I do that, I want to explain why Bluehost is the top recommended by bloggers, even though several bloggers will advise against Bluehost.

Hint: It’s not the hosting they’re selling. They may have started there, but they moved because it wasn’t great long-term. Or they just be telling you about it because it’s “the cheapest” — it’s not: my host is cheaper (and better).

Bluehost is a top recommendation because of their high-paying affiliate program. Write a post about starting a blog inexpensively, and you’re going to land a lot of traffic (after promoting it, of course). Encourage people to sign up with a company whose affiliate payout is competitive, and you are going to make bank.

I’m explaining this to you because I value transparency. This post contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission if you purchase through links — but you won’t be charged more for it. It’s like being compensated because you referred a friend to your favorite subscription box.

And while we’re discussing this, I’m gonna throw it out there: GreenGeeks’ affiliate program works in tiers. There is opportunity to earn up to $100/sale, but the levels are determined by how many sales you make per month, so one sale per month = $50. One referral each day of the month could amount to $3,000.

It’d be great — it’d mean I could worry less about paying my bills and focus more on trying to turn my second floor apartment living room into my personal dance studio, but I don’t hold out for it.

My goal with this post is more to provide you with the tools to finally start that blog you’ve been thinking about without being tricked to spend your money on low-quality products.

Another point I want to address? Bluehost’s promotion to start a blog for $2.95/mo. is based on a 36-month, or 3-year, payment plan.

GreenGeeks is cheaper, priced at $2.49/mo. triennially.

GreenGeeks offers major discounts available that make me want to share it with the whole freaking world, because green hosting is amazing and should be the future. There is no reason to not opt for eco-friendly hosting when it’s priced so low and you don’t even miss out on quality.

The question comes down to what are you building here?

And if you are building a blog (or already a blog) about the importance of caring for our planet, but you don’t use a host powered by green energy…what is even the point?

So I want to normalize that, too. That’s why I updated this ancient post. 😏

✨ Contents ✨

Why start a blog?

I surmise you’re here because you’ve already decided, but if you’re on the edge — I got you.

Your blog is the virtual space you have total control over. Social media is not forever, and it’s run by other people. Your social media accounts are simply leased, like an apartment. You don’t fully own your account, but you’re allowed the virtual space to do with it what you want, so long as you follow the lease.

Buy property, and it’s yours to do with what you want. I used to believe you could buy a house and used that for this metaphor, but then I learned about homeowner associations (HOAs) when I moved to Princeton, TX.

Your blog = your property.

Squarespace is often looked at as a web host instead of a site builder, but it is not your property. You own the content, but you are leasing the space. Their terms make it clear that they will use your content as seen fit to “provide, improve, promote and protect” their services.

They reserve the right to (and do) update their services at any time, with or without notice, even if it risks messing up your site (like those cookie banner updates).

Social media is optional. If you want to create a stable presence on the internet, for whatever reason, you need a website. If you want to be able to update people about whatever you want, however you want, you need a blog and/or newsletter.

I recommend having both a blog and newsletter, but that’s just me. I only recently started building a mailing list after 10 years of blogging (oops), but I’ve followed bloggers who shut their blogs down to only send out newsletters and I hate it because sometimes you want something to link to when you tell people about it!

Benefits of blogging

So maybe you’re still not swayed, but that’s okay. I have a list.

  • easy to share recipes, crafts, etc. with family, friends & the whole world
  • connect with people anywhere, everywhere
  • educate people about you (e.g. autism, dissociative identity disorder) or something you know how to do (e.g. blogging)
  • share research & knowledge
  • show skills, e.g. live portfolio/résumé
  • build credibility & establish a platform

If starting a blog feels “meh” or forced to you, consider starting a podcast or making a comic instead — there are plenty other things to do instead of starting a blog, and blogs don’t even have to include writing if you hate it.

Choosing a focus for your blog

Everyone will tell you you need a niche, except a lovely handful who will tell you your blog needs a focus.

A blog niche is a specific topic you would blog about all the time. If you decide to add another niche or rebrand, retaining your current audience and adding another may not work in your favor. An example of a niche blog is Reusable Menstrual Products (shameless plug!).

A blog focus is a specific focus or theme around which all your posts relate to. While it is still specific, I consider it a vague theme or umbrella term my posts will remind people of.

My neurodivergent brain functions in a way that it believes all things are connected, so a focus allows me to keep things vague, but I adhere to a particular theme so as to avoid going too off topic.

My focus is living life as a DID system of 15 + skills sprinkled in. We discuss mental health, autism and occasionally pop culture.

A guideline I have for myself when determining if a new blog or category is worth it is to see if I can think of 52 posts about it. If so, I challenge myself to think up 20 more. From here, I determine whether I could commit to a full blog and whether it would be better than just another category on my primary blog (this blog).

In the case of Reusable Menstrual Products, I did not have 52 ideas, but I decided the exact match domain would weigh out in search engine optimization (SEO), which would help current and prospective reusable menstrual product users find the information they’re looking for — the most important thing about the project at all (when it opens, at least).

I mean, it was ✨available✨, so how could not??

Of course, this isn’t a great mindset, so don’t just do something on a whim because it’s available if you don’t have the means for it. I’d been wanting a site like this for a while, because the one that helped me in the early days turned into spam.

Remember that thing about how you can create things that aren’t blogs? Having a list of posts you could publish for a year doesn’t mean you have to create a blog.

I created a giant list of posts I could write featuring adulting lessons and tips. I even registered a domain for it. But I realized I didn’t want to start a new blog; I wanted that to be my primary blog.

Your blog’s focus is important, but so is your focus to your blog.

A blog is a commitment. You can start a blog for as low as you want, but your time and energy are also investments.

Naming your blog

So! You’ve got a focus, and now you need a name!

I have a whole post dedicated to naming your blog, but the most important factors are:

  • keep it simple, memorable & easy to say and spell
  • make it unique enough that it’s not trademarked and/or used by another brand
  • allow for growth
  • if you choose a less common TLD (dot-gay is uncommon), consider registering the dot-com version

Register domain name

If you choose to register your domain with someone who isn’t your host, then you need a registrar. I typically do this, because I prefer to manage domains and hosting separately.

However, you can also go the route of registering with your host — and I have done this, too, recently; the experience is not bad if you love and trust the host.

Registrars I recommend and use myself:

  • Name.com – small biz, clean interface
  • NameCheap – no longer as small, but WHOIS protection is free

Choosing & paying for hosting

Although there are alternatives, I recommend WordPress.org for blog management — this isn’t a host, but determining which content management system (CMS) you’ll be blogging with is key to figure out your host.

This post is also about how to start a WordPress blog, so.

I really, really recommend GreenGeeks. Previous hosts include Ofblue and NameCheap. NameCheap is great in a pinch and Ofblue is great if you want a small business host.

GreenGeeks order form
The GreenGeeks order form is sleek and clutter-free.

Powering the internet requires a lot of energy, with data centers accounting for two percent of the world’s carbon emissions — matching the airline industry. Data center pollution is expected to grow higher, hitting 14 percent, matching the USA, by 2040.

GreenGeeks replaces triple the amount of energy they use with wind power credits, creating the most eco-friendly web host.

Install WordPress

Back in the day, you had to install WordPress manually. It’s 2021. You don’t have to do that anymore!

Depending on your host’s client control panel, your one-click WordPress installation will either be on the first page or in Softaculous.

On their client dashboard, GreenGeeks has a Quick Launch tool, which allows you to start a new website with a fresh WordPress install, migrate an existing site (this is what I did!), create a starter site, or skip the setup.~

GreenGeeks Quick Launch tool screen

Since you’re starting a new website, you’d click “Start New Website”, which would open app selections — WordPress, WordPress + WooCommerce, Weebly.

GreenGeeks Quick Launch tool, Start New Website selected

GreenGeeks Quick Launch tool, Start New Website and WordPress selected
Let’s choose WordPress.

From there, you can choose the theme to start with. Since I use custom themes, I go with the latest WordPress default theme.

GreenGeeks Quick Launch tool, Pick a Theme

GreenGeeks Quick Launch tool, Congrats, your website is ready!
Aaaand complete.

The control panel search box will also take you to WordPress, if you choose to skip the setup and do everything manually.

Essential pages

  • About pages help your visitors know what your blog is about — and allow them to get to know the person behind it, as well.
  • Contact pages provide a direct method of contacting you, for whatever reason your visitors may need to do so.
  • Every website that collects any kind of personal information needs a Privacy Policy, as required by law in most countries around the world.

Setting up social media accounts

I’ve recently adopted the belief that it doesn’t matter if your social matches. Is it easier to remember? YES. But your brand/blog name/business name/etc. should not depend on whether it is available across all the social media platforms you seek to join.

That said, here are some tips to land a variation of the handle you want:

  • acronym + “blog” at the end, e.g. DIFUMKblog
  • name + “blog” at the end, e.g. hejgayblog
  • “the” + name of your blog/brand/etc., e.g. thejanelively
  • “official” + name of blog/brand/etc., e.g. officialbritney

Deeply consider how you spread your time and energy across the social channels, after you determine which platforms best suit your focus.

  • Facebook is a social platform where shitposting wins among every generation — it just depends on what you’re posting.
  • Instagram is a visual social platform where celebrities and influencers thrive. Insta-worthiness saturates this platform.
  • Pinterest is visual, best for recipes, DIY, interior design, and fashion — not so much for podcasts, music, etc.
  • TikTok is visual and meme-worthy. Highly-edited content does well, but people also love the rawness of spur-the-moment content. Being yourself and putting your own spin on trends is key. New content creators have a better chance to shine here than Instagram, methinks.
  • Twitter is more social, less visual. Lately, it’s been dominated by politics and fandoms.

Site Kit by Google for WordPress

I like to look at my Analytics and Search Console ish inside my WordPress. Site Kit by Google will automatically set up and verify site ownership, which means you don’t add the code yourself or upload the verification file.

You can also manage other Google site products, like Google Tag Manager, from this plugin.

Submitting your blog to search engines

So you have Google Analytics set up, but the internet contains more search engines than just Google. Telling search engines about your site allows them the opportunity to start crawling it immediately, instead of having to wait for it to be picked up.

JetPack has website verification services available, so you don’t have to manually update your theme header.

Places to submit your site:

Start blogging!

There’s no magic spell to just make a blog happen. If I was starting this blog over in 2021, I would obviously do many things differently because I’d be starting it a decade later.

If you spend time focusing on having the right theme, you’re going to wind up wasting a lot of money and time on something that’s not necessarily happening — the definition of holding yourself back.

Forget the rules that tell you how to blog and write to your own beat. Post about the things bloggers aren’t supposed to talk about. Learn some basic HTML to further customize your blog.

I have a blog prompt randomizer, if you need post blog post ideas.

Whatever you do, don’t be a useless blogger.

Buy me a coffee or subscribe to receive updates & letters from Jane Lively.

Leave a comment

Comments on this post

This is probably one of the “realest” post I’ve read about starting up a blog so here’s a few friendly cookies /cookie /cookie /cookie

Your cousin has a pretty well-expanded site! NameCheap is expanding to a point where profit comes first before people. But meh, there are other alternatives. I pretty much agree with everything that you said; especially the WordPress part because it’s the biggest blogging platform there is. People don’t really use FanUpdate/CuteNews anymore which is good. People should be self-reliant when it comes to creating a website. Google is their best friend and it’s a plus that they’re learning a valuable skill (web coding) since technology is the thing of the future.

Commenting is definitely one of the best ways to drive traffic to your blog, or at least quality traffic. Ads just makes people click the link, look at your blog, and then exit. I don’t know why people are against this traditional idea. I’m still all about it. We gotta get people back to this old habit, haha.

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I think that this is very informative! You cover everything that people need to know and remember. I mean, starting a website and let alone, running a website, isn’t an easy task. As usual, you’re right to the point and you don’t beat around the bush and that’s perfect! 🙂

I do have to agree with Nancy on one point though, commenting on people’s websites though is one of the very best ways to drive traffic to your website rather then just advertising your link places. By commenting on people’s sites, people feel more obligated to reply to the comment, rather then just stop and visit your site and then leave. So, Nancy brings up a great point there.

Otherwise though, I think your article is great and covers a lot of amazing and important points! The most important one being, if you don’t have the time and patience to manage a website, don’t have one. It’s simple. Just like you said.

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Very realistic and helpful tips [and reminders!]. In all honesty though, the extent to which one wishes to manage a blog varies based on the goal and the genre of their blog. For personal blogs, using premade layouts/themes would suffice. I’ve seen a few “established” blogs, on the other hand, that would fare better with paid designers’ assistance. I’m currently on the former, but I would like to hone in on my coding skills, so that I could design my own WP theme one day. Maybe it’s this little artist’s pride in me, but I always want to take charge. Of course, the investment, when handled correctly, is worth every penny.

Same for domain names. I just need to think of a cool name first. Great recommendations for places where I can purchase domain names. I’ll take a good note of them for future references.

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I never realized that there are people out there who don’t know how to set up a blog until I got into book blogging instead of “real life” blogging. A lot of people who get into book blogging don’t know a lot about HTML or PHP, or just use WordPress.com or Blogger. This was definitely a surprise for me because it’s all second nature to me now thanks to having my own blog for however long I did.

This is really helpful though! One of the number one things that stresses me out about buying a domain is the hosting (which, thank you Liz for hosting me for as long as you have!). It’s just hard to find one that’s reliable.

I definitely think commenting is the best way to gain traffic. People aren’t going to know about your blog unless you throw it out there for people to see. I mean sure social networking is great, but if no one knows about your blog, how are they going to find your social networking websites too? It’s all very full circle-ish.

Great post! 😛

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This is such a great post. I’m always being asked basic questions about how to start a website.

And I realize my photoblog is expanding well beyond what my host can handle so I am looking for a host to change to within the next year.

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I totally agree with all of this. Especially the brand names you’ve mentioned here. I’ve been a customer of ASO and Namecheap for several years now and have always been super impressed with their customer service.

If you’re looking for “cheap and good quality” good luck. I seldom wear cheap shoes or cheap jeans, because they look and feel awful.

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Cheap shoes/jeans aren’t that bad, but I grew up on them.

I wasn’t looking for that, but I was making the point that it’s impossible to find both cheap and good quality hosting sitting together in one basket.

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When I stopped getting hosted for the first time, I had to look at my options and set up everything that could work for WordPress and such. It’s a different world and something I’ve never encountered since I’ve always used free blogging platforms, but it feels good to be out in the web hosted. I had to set up everything so my blog would run but it wasn’t too complicated, honestly. Just with some instructions, such as these, and tips; it wasn’t too hard.

I’m still a noob in a lot of ways but that’s okay. I have great friends helping me out, 🙂

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Great post, Jane. There’s so much information here, it’s wonderful! The amount of research, tips, and tricks is deeply appreciated and there’s a lot here that I can learn for my own blog. Thanks for sharing!

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