Have you been wanting to share your ideas with the world at large and start a WordPress blog?
Maybe you’ve started traveling and want to start a travel blog. Or, maybe you’re good in the kitchen and want to post your favorite recipes for others to try. Better yet, maybe you’re an activist for social change and need a wide-reaching platform to spread the word about your cause.
No matter what you want to write about, starting a blog with WordPress is the best way to go about it. As the most popular content management system in the world, you don’t have to have any technical or coding knowledge to get started. Plus, you can customize it as you see fit.
But the best part about blogging with WordPress is, as you begin to generate more traffic, you can make money online by monetizing your site in several ways.
Because of this, we’re here to show you how to start a WordPress blog so you can start sharing your ideas right away.
What Do You Need to Start a WordPress Blog?
The first thing you need to understand about the WordPress content management system (CMS) is that there are 2 versions to choose from: WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
For complete details, check out this WordPress.org vs WordPress.com comparison. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at each to help you decide:
|You must pay for WordPress web hosting and a domain name registration. You’ll also need to pay for any premium themes and plugins you want to install on your blog.||WordPress.com blogs are FREE. You do not get a custom domain name and have limited storage.|
|You can use any WordPress theme and/or WordPress plugin (free or premium).||Bloggers are limited to the free themes available on the platform. There are no plugins, only built-in plugin-like functionality.|
|You can monetize your site any way you want (e.g., sell ads) and keep all the earnings.||You are not allowed to sell ads. Only those with high traffic volume can apply for advertising with revenue sharing.|
|You are responsible for all site maintenance, including site backups, security, and site optimization.||WordPress.com handles all site maintenance for you.|
Because WordPress.org is so flexible, most bloggers opt to use the self-hosted WordPress.org platform.
In addition to knowing which version of WordPress you want to use, you’ll need the following to start a WordPress blog:
- Domain name
- Hosting account
- WordPress installation
- WordPress theme and plugins
So, let’s start a WordPress blog!
Step 1: Get a Domain Name
The domain name of your website is the website address (or URL) that people type into their web browser when they want to visit a specific website.
Your domain name serves many purposes:
- A way of identifying your website
- Branding for your blog
- Giving people a way to remember and recognize your website
- A way to tell people what your blog has to offer
Some people use their personal name or company name as their website’s domain name. Others choose a name that relates to the content of their blog. For example, The Food Network’s domain name is www.foodnetwork.com.
You have to purchase and register your blog’s domain name. This ensures no one else can use that domain name. Registration is good for one calendar year. As long as you continue to register your domain name each year, no one else will be able to use it.
You can purchase a domain name for your blog from any number of companies. But, to make things really easy on WordPress users, many WordPress hosting companies offer domain name registration as part of their hosting plans.
In fact, the hosting service we’re going to use for this tutorial, Bluehost, offers a 1 year free domain name registration to anyone that signs up for one of their hosting plans.
For help with choose a domain name, be sure to check out these easy to use domain name generators.
Step 2: Sign Up For Bluehost Hosting
To start, go to Bluehost and click on the green ‘Get Started’ button.
This will take you to the different hosting plans available.
It’s recommended you start with the Basic plan. This is a great option for bloggers just starting out. With it, you’ll get features like 50GB of SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, a free SSL certificate, and 25 subdomains.
This is on top of the features all Bluehost customers get like:
- 24/7 customer support
- Built-in security measures
- Easy to use cPanel
- Automated backups
- One-click WordPress installation
- CDN services
As an official WordPress.org recommended host, Bluehost is a great hosting option.
Next, you’ll be prompted to either create a new domain or enter an existing one.
Lastly, you’ll need to fill out your account information, decide on any package extras (e.g., plan length and domain name privacy), and enter your payment details. We recommend choosing the 36-month plan, since it’s the best value.
You’ll see a success message when you’re purchase is complete. Click Create Account to continue.
Next, you’ll need to create a password for your account. After you do this, your account is ready to go. Click go to login.
For added protection, you’ll then be prompted to sign in to your account.
Step 3: Set Up Your Account
Now that you have your domain name and web hosting, it’s time to set up your account and start your WordPress blog. When in your Bluehost account, you’ll be asked to name your site, create a tagline, and decide if you want to start a blog and/or online store.
Of course, these things can be changed later if you want. It’s just to help you get started.
When you toggle on Do you want a blog? You’ll be asked where you want to display blog posts. Select either My home page or A different page.
Then click Continue.
The next screen will ask you what you goals are. Select the options that matter to you. In addition, select how comfortable you are with creating websites if you want. Then, click Continue.
Bluehost makes it easy for you to access hundreds of reliable WordPress themes to help start your WordPress blog. You have the option to choose one now, or pick a theme later when you’re in the WordPress dashboard.
Step 4: Start a WordPress Blog
Now that your Bluehost account is all set up, it’s time to start a free blog using WordPress. This means installing the WordPress software on your website.
To start, go to My Sites and click on Create Site.
Next, give your site a name and tagline.
Need help deciding on a blog name? Check out this roundup of amazing blog name generators to inspire you.
Bluehost will then set up your site for you. You’ll be able to login to the WordPress dashboard by either going to www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin or going to My Sites in your Bluehost account and hovering over the default theme in the screen.
There, you’ll see two options:
- Manage Site
- Log into WordPress
Select Log into WordPress to go straight to the WordPress dashboard where you can start creating content, adding images, and so much more.
If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to building your WordPress blog, Bluehost has a great checklist in the Home section of your account.
Step 5: Pick a WordPress Theme
At first, your WordPress blog will look something like this:
This isn’t visually appealing. Luckily, with WordPress you can customize the look of your website by choosing a WordPress theme.
To install a WordPress theme on your blog, go to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard. Click on WordPress.org Themes to access free WordPress themes found in the repository.
There you can search themes based on Featured, Popular, Latest, Favorites, and Premium themes. You can also search for a specific theme too.
If you need a theme with a certain feature, just click on the Feature Filter button and select the features you want included in your theme choices.
When you find a theme you like, click the Preview button to see what your website will look like when the theme is applied to your site. Make sure to look for things like design, color schemes, typography, and layout.
If you still like what you see, click Install and then Activate.
Once the theme is activated on your website, you can click on the Customize button to make changes.
Here you can change things like:
- Site Identity: change the site name and tagline and upload a custom logo.
- Colors: use the custom colors or change to a custom color scheme.
- Background Image: upload a background image to your site.
- Menus: customize the navigation menu on your website.
- Widgets: add or delete widgets such as a search bar, recent blog posts section, or site categories.
- Homepage: decide whether to display your latest blog posts or create a static homepage.
- Additional CSS: add custom CSS to change the look of your website.
Each theme will have its own customization options in the Live Theme Customizer. The above just gives you can example of some of the things you can change.
Premium WordPress Themes
If you need a theme with more advanced functionality, you may want to look into the premium themes available from these reliable theme companies:
- FancyThemes: FancyThemes creates simple blogging themes for bloggers. They have 13 free themes and 1 beautiful premium theme for purchase.
- Meridian Themes: Here you’ll find WordPress themes built for bloggers, creatives, and business owners. There is 1 free theme and 11 premium themes to choose from.
- Elegant Themes: Elegant Themes is a reputable theme company that offers memberships to customers, complete with 2 WordPress themes meant for magazine, eCommerce, portfolio, business, and blogging sites. A membership also comes with a social sharing plugin and a opt-in form plugin.
- StudioPress: Famous for one of the most popular frameworks in the world, Genesis Framework, StudioPress has plenty of stunning premium themes for you to pick from.
To install a premium theme on your WordPress site, start by going to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard. Then, click Upload and then Upload Theme.
Browse for the theme zip file on your computer and click Install Now.
Wait for WordPress to install the theme and then click Activate to make the theme live on your blog.
Step 6: Create a Blog Post
After you have the basic design of your WordPress blog sorted out, it’s time to create your first blog post.
To do this, go to Posts > Add New in your WordPress dashboard.
Here you’ll see the Gutenberg Editor, which makes it easy to write content and add images to your blog post. It works by adding blocks of content to your website.
To add a block, click on the (+) and choose the type of content you want to add to your site.
Once you’re done writing, all you have to do is click the Publish button to make your blog post live for all to see.
Underneath the ‘Publish’ area (in the Document section), you’ll see other sections to customize such as:
- Categories: assign your blog post to a category so readers can easily find articles about the topic that interests them most. Categories are a broad grouping of your blog posts and help people identify what your blog is all about. Every blog post on your website must be assigned a category.
- Tags: assign your blog posts tags, which are specific details about individual blog posts. You do not have to give your blog posts tags.
- Featured Image: this is where you upload an image to appear at the top of your blog post. It will also appear anywhere on your website you allow blog post featured images to appear.
- Excerpt: here you can write a small snippet of information about your blog post for people to read.
Step 7: Using WordPress Plugins
WordPress themes help with the visual appearance of your blog. On the other hand, WordPress plugins help with your site’s functionality.
Just like themes, there are thousands of WordPress plugins available for your blog. And while it would be impossible to name them all, we can break down some of the types of plugins that might be helpful for making your blog better.
- Site Security: securing your WordPress website from hackers, spam, and other malicious activity is your responsibility when you have a hosted blog. That’s why using a security plugin to stop brute force attacks, site downtime, and a poor user experience is critical to your success. Some of the best site security plugins include Wordfence Security or Sucuri.
- Backups: having a backup of your website, stored in a safe off site location, can help should anything go wrong. Some great options are BackupBuddy and UpdraftPlus.
- Performance: a fast loading blog is the best kind. Using a WordPress plugin to help with caching content and optimizing images will increase your site’s speed and performance and help boost your search rankings. For help with site performance, we recommend StackPath (previously known as MaxCDN) and WP Super Cache.
- SEO Optimization: organic search results are one of the best ways to drive traffic to your blog. A good SEO plugin will help you optimize your content for better rankings and increased traffic. The best SEO plugin by far is Yoast SEO.
- Social Media: making your blog content shareable across multiple social media networks will help you reach a broader audience and boost engagement with your site content. If you want to enable social sharing on your site, consider using Social Media Share Buttons and Icons.
How to Install a WordPress Plugin
To install a WordPress plugin from the WordPress Repository on your blog, start by going to Plugins > Add New.
There, you’ll need to search for the plugin you want to install on your blog.
When you find the one you want, click Install Now and then Activate.
If you want to upload a premium WordPress plugin you’ve purchased from a marketplace, go to Plugins > Add New and click the Upload Plugin button.
Browse for the zip file you have stored on your computer, click Install Now and then Activate.
Keep in mind, each plugin you install and activate on your WordPress blog may or may not require additional settings configurations to work properly.
And there you have it! You now know how to start a WordPress blog, complete with a domain name, web hosting provider, WordPress theme, and plugins.
If you need a little extra help understanding the WordPress CMS, be sure to check out this quick guide to WordPress user roles.
So, get out there and start a WordPress blog today. And don’t forget to tell us all about your experience in the comments below!