Want to start a WordPress blog? Get ready cos I am going to show you everything you need to know

Starting a blog is one of the best ways to express yourself, share your views, and connect with others. It can also be profitable if you go about it the right way. So, how do you start a blog to achieve these and other goals? 

It all starts with picking a content management system (CMS) for building your blog site. At the moment, WordPress is the most popular choice with over 60% of the CMS market share and 455,000,000 WordPress websites.
People Also choose WordPress over other platforms because it is budget and user-friendly.

Are you ready to start a WordPress blog? Our step-by-step guide shows you how.

Table of Contents

WordPress.org NOT WordPress.com

WordPress.org and WordPress.com are both legit CMS platforms from WordPress. Each offers unique features for starting a blog, but we recommend using the .org option.

Why?

Using the WordPress.com platform requires paying anywhere between $48 and $540 a year to access all its features.

There is a free package, but it offers very few of the features you need to build and modify a blog to your satisfaction.

Other reasons why WordPress.com isn’t the best choice are:

  • Taking the free plan means WordPress will run ads on your site that might disrupt the user experience of your visitors.
  • Aside from running ads on your site for free, WordPress.com won’t let you sell ad space on your site, limiting your ability to monetize your blog.
  • You cannot install themes or plugins to customize your blog unless you upgrade to the WordPress Business or VIP plan.
  • Without a paid plan, your domain name will be WordPress branded. For example, instead of https://yourblog.com, your site will be https://yourblog.wordpress.com.
  • Even worse, for the slightest violation of service terms, be it deliberate or accidental, WordPress.com can arbitrarily delete your blog.

Instead of dealing with the above hassles, you could and should simply start a WordPress blog with WordPress.org. It is free to use and open-source.

Other reasons why the WordPress.org platform is a better option for blogging are:

  • You’ll have access to your site’s backend, enabling you to tweak it to meet your unique needs.
  • It has a user-friendly layout and features for building and growing your blog.
  • You can do whatever you want with your website, as long as it’s not illegal. Plus, you completely own all data from the site.
  • You can customize your site with free or paid plugins, themes, and more.
  • You can monetize your site by running ads, turning it into a store, or other ways, and keep all the revenue.

Clearly, WordPress.org is the better choice, so avoid the rookie mistake of choosing the .com option.

wordpress-com-vs-org-infographic
Infographic gotten from WpExplorer

Domain and Hosting

After selecting a website builder, the next step is choosing a domain name and web host. A domain is the name of your website. Also known as a website’s address, it’s what people will use to search for and identify your blog online.

Examples of domain names are domain.com or blog.org.

You need web hosting to power your website by providing it with the resources needed to stay online and accessible. Simply put, without web hosting, your blog can’t be on the internet.

Domain Name

Picking a domain name is equal to creating the identity of your blog. As such, you need to put careful thought into it. Here are some tips for picking a great blog domain name:

  • Make it easy to remember by keeping it short and avoiding special characters.
  • Make it catchy, but also make sure it’s easy to spell.
  • Try to get a .com domain name extension. It’s what most online users are familiar with and reduces the risk of your visitors typing the wrong extension, which takes them to a different site.
  • Let the domain name hint at what your blog is about. For example, thefoodiesblog.com hints it’s a food blog while nailsandbricks.com suggests a construction blog.

If you are having trouble coming up with the right name, use online domain generators for inspiration.

Hosting

Picking the wrong web host can cause lots of problems for your blog. A good web host provides everything your website needs to function optimally and grow, such as bandwidth, security, storage space, and more.

Many people make the mistake of opting for free or the cheapest hosting they can find. Such hosting services are typically poor, leading to slow site loading speeds, frequent downtime, and poor security. But some hosts offer affordability without compromising on quality, such as SiteGround and Cloudways.

Both offer WordPress hosting and several features to facilitate the success of your blog. Let’s take a look at what makes each option unique.

SiteGround

SiteGround offers shared hosting for blogs, which is affordable and secure. The lowest-priced plan is $11.95 per month and comes with features like:

  • Free CDN and email
  • 10GB web space
  • Free WordPress installation
  • Automatic updates for WordPress
  • 10,000 visitors per month limit
  • Unmetered traffic
  • It also comes with a cPanel (control panel) for easily setting up and monitoring of your WordPress blog.

Other reasons to choose SiteGround are:

  • Free SSL certificate
  • Free website migrations
  • Offers free domain name registration
  • Professional and fast customer support
  • WordPress staging environment
  • Daily backups

But the service also has some shortcomings, such as:

  • If you exceed your allotted resources, your website’s usage could be curbed, or your service abruptly ended
  • There’s no malware removal
  • It has a high renewal price
SiteGround Resources Comparison

I wrote an extensive review about Siteground. Check it out here – Siteground Review.

Cloudways

Instead of shared WordPress hosting, Cloudways offers cloud hosting. Overall, it’s cheaper than SiteGround, especially since it offers pay-as-you-go plans that require paying only for the resources your blog uses.

It’s also easily scalable, meaning as your website and traffic grow, you can easily access more resources to support your growing needs.

The cheapest Cloudways hosting plan is about $10 per month and offers features like:

  • 1GB RAM
  • 25GB storage
  • One core processor
  • 1TB bandwidth

Some of the hosting service’s most notable advantages include:

  • Fast page loading speeds
  • One-click staging for WordPress
  • 24/7/365 customer support
  • Free SSL certificates
  • Free WordPress caching plugin
  • Auto-healing and managed cloud servers
  • Dedicated firewalls

But it also has some shortcomings, such as:

  • No email hosting or file manager
  • You have to use a third-party to get your domain name
  • Offers a custom control panel, which can take some getting used to

To determine whether SiteGround or Cloudways is best for your blog, weigh the pros and cons of each to identify which satisfies your needs.

cloudways hosting plans
Cloudways hosting plans

I wrote an extensive review about Cloud hosting and you can check it out here – Cloudways Review

Install WordPress

Now that you have your domain name and host, the next step is installing WordPress on the host server. SiteGround and Cloudways make this easy with single-click installation.

The actual process is a bit different from host to host. On SiteGround, you have to visit the control panel on your hosting account and scroll to the Auto Installers section to click on WordPress.

Once that’s done running, you can click on the install button. Various prompts will pop up as the installation proceeds, such as where to enter your domain name, site title, username, email address, preferred language, and more.

Fill all of them appropriately until you see a success message and link to the admin page of your WordPress site. That’s all, but don’t forget to secure your blog by adding SSL for security. Fortunately, SiteGround and Cloudways offer free SSL certificates for enforcing HTTPS and more.

After the installation is complete, you can begin customizing your site’s appearance and settings, which we’ll look at in detail.

General Settings

The general settings of your WordPress blog affect how visitors see it in search engine results and more. Here’s how to modify your general settings for the best results.

Check the Site Name and Description

The site name of your blog in the dashboard settings is what visitors will see in search engine results and other places online. Because of this important role, your site name must be accurate. 

Confirm your site name by going to Settings in your WordPress dashboard and clicking on General. Here, you’ll see your Site Title and can change it to suit your needs.

The site description or tagline is something else you can change here. The tagline should be a short sentence about what your blog covers. Make it short, sweet, informative, and punchy.

Also make sure that you have a valid email address for administrative purposes.

Other things you can choose in this section are your preferred language, time zone, and blog URL.

start a wordpress blog - general settings

Search Engine Indexing

If search engines, like Google, can’t index your blog, it might not show up in search engine results, which is a big problem if you want lots of organic traffic.

Verify the proper settings are in place by going to Settings in the main sidebar then Reading. Under Reading, be sure Discourage Search Engines from Indexing this Site is unchecked.

Permalinks

Permalinks are how WordPress formats the URLs of your pages. The default permalink setting uses a jumble of incomprehensible numbers and words. If you leave this setting, you’ll be left with URLs that aren’t search engine optimized or visitor-friendly.

Fix this by going to Settings then Permalinks. Under permalinks, change the setting from Numeric to Post Name. It’s the best setting for optimal search engine visibility.

permalink settings

Choose Theme – Oceanwp or Astra

The next step in how to start a WordPress blog is picking a theme. Instead of designing the look and navigation of your blog from scratch, you can choose from hundreds of WordPress themes for such modifications.

Many WordPress themes are free, while others are paid. Whether you are going for a paid or free option, don’t pick a theme simply because it’s the prettiest. Yes, the aesthetics of your website have to be great, but the blog must also be easy to navigate, functional, and optimized for speed.

Other essential features to look for when picking a WordPress theme are lightweight build and responsive mobile-friendly design. If a theme isn’t lightweight, it will negatively impact the loading speed of your pages, leading to a high bounce rate and poor search engine ranking.

On the other hand, using a non-responsive theme will limit your visitors to viewing your blog on only specific devices. That’s a problem because these days, more people use mobile devices to access websites. As such, you must have a responsive website that can scale and adjust itself to fit any screen size. 

Popular WordPress themes that satisfy the above requirements are Oceanwp or Astra. Both also offer various customization options for changing the look and user experience of your blog. For example:
You can add a logo to your blog that represents your brand.

You can choose from lots of fonts (from WordPress, Google, and other sources) and colors to achieve your preferred look and tone. You also have the option to add favicons.

ocean wp theme settings
Here is a snapshot of the different theme settings available with OceanWp.

How to Choose a Theme

To choose a theme for your blog, simply click on Appearance in your WordPress dashboard. Navigate to Themes then Add New. You will then be presented with various options and categories from which to choose. 

By going to the Popular category, you’ll see trending themes and can install any with a few clicks. You can verify if a theme is lightweight, responsive, and secure by checking out its features and customer reviews.

You can change your WordPress theme at any time without deleting or damaging your pages.

Plugins

Plugins are fantastic tools for boosting the functionality of your WordPress blog. For example, you can get a plugin to facilitate your SEO, site speed, social media sharing, security, backups, and more.

Essential plugins that every WordPress blog owner should have are: 

Akismet

Unscrupulous visitors send spam messages through comment sections and online forms. Such spam messages can corrupt your backend files and other parts of your website. To prevent such, install a useful plugin like Akismet

Akismet protects your website by automatically searching for incoming spam messages and blocks the worst ones. The plugin can also provide you with the status history of spam messages and shows you which visitors submit the most spam messages.

Currently, over five million websites use Akismet, indicating it’s a reputable tool.

Rank Math

Search engine optimizing your blog is key to ranking high in search results and getting lots of organic traffic. To help with this, I recommend installing Rank Math. It’s a tool that helps make your website more SEO-friendly by showing you how to optimize your pages and more.

Instead of paying an SEO specialist, Rank Math is free to install and has a host of features. We are especially big fans of its automated features that verify your website’s settings and suggest how to optimize those settings for optimal search engine performance. 

You can also use it to easily set up Google Schema Markup (Rick Snippets), social profiles, webmaster profiles, and other SEO settings.

best plugins for WordPress blogs - rank math

WP Review Pro

WP Review Pro can be a big help if you intend to monetize your blog through product reviews and affiliate marketing. Instead of writing product reviews in a format that search engines can’t recognize, WP Review ensures your posts are in a proper review format that’s search-engine supported.

There are several review format types to choose from and also options for rating products. Overall, the tool is user-friendly and gives you as much search engine visibility as possible to increase the profitability of your affiliate marketing campaign. 

Optin Forms

The Optin Forms plugin allows you to create attractive email signup forms that your visitors can use to subscribe for newsletters and more. Because the tool is straightforward, you don’t need to know anything about CSS or HTML. 

You can set it within a couple of minutes for email solutions like AWeber, MailChimp, iContact, MailerLite, and more. Also, all its email form design options are fully customizable, and you can set it to run automatically after your initial setup.

Optimole Plugin

Images are a great way to make your blog posts more engaging and exciting. But heavy images can slow down page loading speeds, which can affect your conversion rate and search engine ranking.

Once it’s installed and set, Optimole fixes such issues automatically through image optimization.

It will reduce the size of your images without compromising the image quality. That means lighter images that are still clear. You can also use it to add watermarks to images and protect them.

I do have a full tutorial describing how to use the Optimole plugin to optimize your images. Check it out here – Optimole tutorial.

Social Snap for Social Sharing

One of the fastest ways to get visitors to come to your blog is by sharing your posts on social media to start a conversation. Aside from bringing in traffic, it’s also great for SEO. Instead of sharing links manually, a plugin like Social Snap can do all the work for you.

Using it is simple, and its presence doesn’t slow down the performance of your site. It also comes with attractive and customizable social media share buttons that your visitors can use to share your posts on their social media with a single click.

The plugin pairs well with all major social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and others. 

social snap plugin

WP Forms Lite

WP Forms is a drag and drop WordPress form builder for building contact and subscription forms. WP Forms Lite is the free version of this plugin. It is user-friendly and comes with a host of powerful features to help you achieve your goals.

For instance, forms made with the plugin are responsive and mobile-friendly. There are also attractive pre-built form templates to choose from to speed up the creation of your contact forms. 

When a visitor fills one of your forms, you get an instant notification and can view and manage all your leads from one place. You also get spam protection and can connect the plugin to receive payments from subscriptions.

Wordfence

wordfence security plugin

It doesn’t matter if your blog is new and still struggling to get visitors, hackers and other cybercriminals will still be interested. WordPress comes with various security features to protect against such, but you can get even better security by installing Wordfence.

Wordfence provides a malware scanner and an endpoint firewall for shielding your site against malicious IP addresses, malware signatures, and more.

For comprehensive protection, the plugin will scan your core files, plugins, and themes for vulnerabilities, malware, malicious redirects, code injections, and more.

Also, it repairs damaged files by replacing them with sound ones and warns you when there are suspicious changes in your WordPress.org repository.

Other useful safety features include:

  • Preventing the use of compromised passwords
  • The ability to view suspicious activity on your site in real-time
  • Blocking traffic from suspicious sources
  • Two-factor authentication

You can check out my full YouTube tutorial on how to use the WordFence plugin.

How to Install a Plugin

You can install WordPress plugins directly from your dashboard. Simply go to Plugins under your dashboard then navigate to Add New. Search through the available plugins for the one you need and click Install Now. 

Create Pages – About, Contact, Blog, etc.

At this stage, your WordPress blog is good to go, and all you have to do is begin creating and publishing pages. Essential pages for all blogs are the About, Contact, and Blog page, which you can create by navigating to Pages and Add New in your dashboard. 

About Page

Many blog owners neglect creating an about page because they think it’s unimportant. They are wrong. An About page is the perfect opportunity to show your visitors you are interesting and have something valuable to offer. 

Do this by using the page to introduce yourself and what your website is about.

Make the page as impactful as possible by applying the following tips:

  • Add pictures or videos of yourself that will resonate with your visitors.
  • Inspire trust by being honest about who you are and avoid overhyping yourself.
  • Tell visitors what they want to know about you and your site.
  • Last but not least, be interesting.

For some inspiration, how about you check out my own about page.

Contact Page

A Contact page is where your visitors go when they want to reach you for inquiries or other reasons. On the contact page, provide an email address, phone number, or social media pages where you can be reached.

I recommend providing a contact form on the page. Visitors can use it to email you directly without leaving your blog. But WordPress won’t provide you with a contact form automatically.

You’ll have to install a WordPress form plugin like WP Forms Lite. 

Create a Main Menu

The main menu or navigation menu lets readers find the pages they want with ease. It should be visible at the top of all your pages.

To create the main menu, simply navigate to Appearance in your dashboard. Click on Menus to view your available pages. Those pages will become a part of your navigation menu by selecting the pages you want and clicking Add to Menu. 

If you don’t like the arrangement of the listed pages, you can rearrange them by simply dragging and dropping them to your preferred spot. Click Save Menu when you are done.

Create and Publish Posts

Now comes the fun part of how to start a WordPress blog—creating blog posts. Before you begin creating, you have to decide what your blog will be about. Do you want to talk about cars, life, food, politics, children, or something else? 

We recommend writing about stuff you are passionate or knowledgeable about. Otherwise, your posts may come across as lackluster to your visitors.

Once you pick a topic, begin the process of writing by clicking on Posts in your dashboard, then Add New.

On the page for creating posts, you’ll see fields for your post title, content, and more. Fill them all, and when you are done, check out your creation by hitting Preview, which is in the top right corner. The preview will show you what your creation will look like after publishing.

If the post is fine as it is, hit Publish in the top right corner, and your first blog post will go live for the world to see.

That’s All

That’s how to start a WordPress blog and publish your first post. Don’t be shy to create and publish many more posts, but be sure to search engine optimize them for optimal performance in search engine results. You can download an SEO plugin, such as Rank Math, to help with this.  

Remember to use WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com, and you’re already halfway to blogging success.

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