How to Start a WordPress Blog – The Definitive Guide
Thinking about starting a blog? Whether you want to blog for fun or blog for your business (because blogging is content marketing 101, yo!), everyone starts out with the exact same basics you’re going to ready about in this post.
I’m going to show you the exact steps you need to follow to set up a blog, no technical skills required.
Don’t worry—I’ll walk you through every step with lots of screenshots and answer all your questions in the comments.
Why should you take my advice? Because I’ve been blogging for 15 years. I started back in 2003 when LiveJournal was a thing, then switched to WordPress in 2005. Back then, most people wrote blogs like diaries, so that’s exactly what I did, too!
But around 2007 I started building WordPress websites for friends and family, and then for non-profits, before getting a job in content marketing for a web development company.
Last year, I finally made the jump to working for myself as a full-time blogger, writing professionally for a variety of different websites. I get paid to blog and I love it!
But my journey to this point has involved a heck of a lot of work, mistakes, and figuring stuff out on my own. This is the blog post I wish I had when I started blogging 15 years ago.
Let’s get started!
The 5 Steps to Starting a Blog
Setting up a blog in 2018 is sooo much easier than it was back in 2003, believe me! It’s not difficult at all to set up a website from scratch, even with no tech know-how.
There’s no coding or complicated stuff required. In fact, if you follow this guide exactly, you’ll have your own blog set up and our first post published in under 30 minutes! Pretty cool, right?
- Decide What You Want to Blog About
- Choose a Blogging Platform
- Choose a Web Host and Domain
- Set Up WordPress
- Start Using Your Blog
Just a quick note: This guide isn’t about using WordPress.com. Yes, it’s one way to start blogging, but it’s also severely limiting. So in this guide, I’m going to show you how to start blogging on your very own website using self-hosted WordPress. This is the approach I recommend to everyone who wants more control over how their blog looks and works.
Why Start a Blog?
Before we dive into the six steps to starting your blog, let’s back up a minute because I’m interested to know one question: Why do you want a blog?
At its heart, blogging is about sharing your knowledge with the world. It’s important to blog about what you are passionate about, whether it’s crochet, tips for winning Agricola, scoping out the best brunch spots in your city, or smashing your competition with content marketing. Because when you write with passion, your readers are going to love reading your blog posts.
Here are some of the most popular reasons why people start a blog:
- To make money. Money makes the world go round, right? I make a full-time income from blogging and so do many others—and you can too! The top bloggers in the world earn a lot of money. It takes a lot of work, writing, and dedication, but it’s also easy to get started—all you need is a blog and you can get one just by following this guide!
- Share your story. Having a blog gives you a platform to voice your thoughts and opinions and share your story with others around the world. Many bloggers use their blogs as a diary where they write about their daily lives and experiences.
- Get exposure for your business. A blog can give you and your business—no matter how big or small it is—the platform it needs to reach large numbers of potential customers for very little cost. This is known as content marketing. Many people who are experts in their fields blog as a way to share their knowledge and demonstrate thought leadership.
- To become a published author. If you’re a writer, starting a blog is a great first step towards becoming a published author. Blogging gives you a place to write, share your work, and build a community of readers eager to buy your books once they’re published.
- To connect with others. Perhaps one of the most amazing things about blogging is that it lets you connect with other like-minded bloggers all over the world. No matter what your interests are, there are blogging communities online for people just like you.
Step 1 – Decide What You Want to Blog About
So, what do you want to blog about?
If you run a business, obviously your blog should be related to what you offer, i.e. post about your products and/or services, company news, and maybe even tutorials to help customers learn about how to use and make the most of your product or service.
If you’re writing for yourself, you can be more creative with your blog and what you share. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:
- Blog about what you love. It’s more likely you’ll want to actually write (and your blog will last longer than a week) if your blog is about a topic you’re passionate about. The best blogs are written with passion and enthusiasm—no one wants to read a boring blog!
- Blog with a unique angle. Thinking about starting a blog about vegan cooking? Consider this: When you google “vegan cooking blog” there are 399,000,000 results:
No matter what you choose to blog about, you probably won’t be the first person to do it (and if you are, nice work!). But don’t let this put you off! Think about how you can approach your chosen topic from a fresh angle. Ask yourself, “how can I make my blog better than all the others?”
Whether you’re writing for your business or for yourself, your goal for your blog should be to become the go-to resource for your topic. This means sticking to your topic, blogging regularly, and establishing yourself as an authority.
Step 2 – Choose a Blogging Platform
There are a ton of different blogging platforms such as Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Joomla, and Drupal, among others.
But I’m going to make it easy for you: Just go with self-hosted WordPress.
If 15 years of blogging has taught me anything, it’s that WordPress is the best tool—hands down—for blogging. Whether you’re a beginner who’s starting a blog for the first time or a business owner who wants to take content marketing seriously, WordPress has all the tools you need to create an amazing blog and even make money with it.
I used and recommend self-hosted WordPress.
Basically, there are two types of WordPress:
- WordPress.com – This option is free but you’re limited to what you can customize.
- WordPress.org – Also known as “self-hosted WordPress,” this option costs a few bucks a month but gives you so much more control over what you can do with your blog. With a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can customize your site all you like and increase your earning potential.
I can guarantee you, even if you start with some other blogging tool, you’ll eventually end up using WordPress!
WordPress powers 97% of blogs and offers a lot of benefits:
- It’s easy to set up, as I’ll show you in this guide.
- There are lots of resources to help out when you get stuck and when you want to customize your site.
- It’s scalable, i.e. if you wanted to, you could start a small blog and grow it into a global publishing company. WordPress can do just about anything!
- Self-hosted WordPress is free!
Time to start setting up your WordPress blog!
Step 3 – Choose a Web Host and Domain Name
First things first: you need to choose a web host.
What’s a web host? Basically, when you set up a blog it needs to live somewhere on the internet. And that somewhere is a web host. Web hosts provide server space (i.e. hard drives) that can store the files that make up your blog so that it can be accessible to anyone using the web.
There are lots of web hosting companies and choosing one can be overwhelming.
I personally recommend SiteGround, a web host tailored for WordPress blogs.
Not only have I used these guys and experienced great things, but they’re extremely popular amongst WordPress bloggers for their amazing support and easy set-up.
(As a long-time SiteGround partner, the links below are referral links. This means you can get up to 60% off your first year of hosting, at no additional cost to you, and Design Bombs will earn a commission if you make a purchase. FTW!
Want to know more about SiteGround? Check out our SiteGround review here.
To get set up with SiteGround:
- Go to the SiteGround website.
- Choose the plan you want to go with by click one of the orange “Order” buttons. SiteGround offers three different hosting plans to suit blogs of all shapes and sizes. I typically go with GrowBig or GoGeek because you get more features.
- On the next screen, you’ll be asked to enter your domain name.
You might want to use your name, business name, or something catchy and memorable.
If you already have a domain name, you can choose that option instead and enter your details.
For this tutorial, I’m going to select “Register a New Domain.” If you’re setting up an existing domain, no worries! The process moving forward is almost the same so you can continue following these instructions.
Click Proceed to continue.
- Lastly, you’ll be asked to enter your name, address, and payment details to create your new SiteGround account.
Now that you’re all set up with SiteGround, you’re ready to install WordPress!
Step 4 – Setting Up WordPress
SiteGround makes installing WordPress super easy. After you create your account, you’ll be prompted to set up a new website.
Click Start a new website, choose WordPress from the list of software, and click Confirm.
Next, you’ll be asked to create login details for your blog—you’ll need to think of a username and password.
Website security starts with a strong password! Here are a few tips for choosing a username and password combination:
- Don’t use admin, your name, or your domain name as your username. These are some of the first possible usernames hackers will enter when trying to guess your login credentials.
- Use a password generator to come up with a strong password that’s hard to crack.
To complete set up, you’ll need to click “Complete Setup.” You’ll then be redirected to the SiteGround dashboard where you can access your shiny new blog. All you need to do click “Go to Admin Panel” next to your domain name.
Here’s what the WordPress dashboard looks like:
Step 5 – Start Using Your Blog
Congratulations! You now have a blog! Woot!
Before you dive in and start writing your first post, there are a few things I recommend you do first:
- Update your permalink settings. You can learn more about why and how in this post.
- Enable HTTPS. This is super important for the security of your blog. SiteGround has a quick tutorial on how to do it here.
- Choose a WordPress theme. You can apply different themes to your blog to control how it looks. Often, themes come with different features, like sliders and custom post types, and options for customizing the layout and appearance of your blog. You can learn how to set up your theme here. You can read up on the best WordPress blog themes here, check out themes for recipe blogs here, and scroll through a list of fantastic portfolio themes here.
Step 6 – Publish Your First Post
This is why you set up your blog in the first place. Here’s how to do it:
- In the sidebar, click Post and then Add New.
- Give your post a title.
- Write your post! There’s a big space in the middle for you to do this.
- Choose between Visual and Text editing. Text editing allows you to use HTML.
- Add media (videos, images, etc.) to your post.
- You can save your post as a draft to come back to it later.
- Preview your post by clicking Preview—this will open it in a new tab.
- Publish your post when you’re ready.
- Give your post a feature image. It depends on your theme as to how this image will be used, but typically it will be displayed at the top of your post.
You’ve Got a Blog – Now What?
Now that your blog is all set up and ready to go, you might be wondering what to do next. Here’s what I recommend:
- Learn more about how to use WordPress. The WordPress Codex is a fantastic starting point for learning how to make the most of your WordPress blog. It’s basically a collection of tutorials on how to do everything from creating and using posts and pages, using plugins and themes, and finding help.
- Share your posts on social media. Social sharing is a great way to spread the word about your blog. Check out this article on how to promote your blog on social media by HootSuite.
- Get people reading your blog. The key to doing this is SEO. What’s SEO? Learn more in this Beginners Guide to SEO by Moz.
- Create an email list. If you want to get people coming back to your blog regularly, one of the best ways to do it is with an email list. Learn more in this guide on the Social Triggers blog.
- Monetize your blog. Now that you’re clued up on how to get traffic to your blog, you need to know how to make money from it. Here are five popular ways to make money from blogging:
- Ads – One of the easiest ways to make money, you will need to apply to ad networks to get access to ads to place on your site.
- Affiliate links – This is another easy way to monetize your blog. Again, you will need to apply to become an affiliate either through affiliate networks or some companies run their own affiliate program.
- Sponsored posts – Ss your blog becomes more popular, you may have the opportunity to do sponsored posts.
- Selling a Service – One of the fastest ways to make significant money online is by selling a service. You might have a talent for writing or graphic design, that you can sell to those in need. Create a “Work With Me” or a “Hire Me” page on your blog.
- Selling a Product – This might be a physical product or it might be an eBook or an e-course. The e-learning industry has been projected to exceed the billion-dollar mark, making it a very lucrative business to be in.
Starting a blog doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, and only for the tech-savvy. With SiteGround you can have a blog site up and running in less than 30 minutes.
If you’ve followed all the steps in this guide, you’re well on your way to building a successful blog.
Got a question about starting a WordPress blog? Let me know it the comments below and I’ll do my best to help you out!