How to Start a Blog on WordPress
As far as blogging platforms go, there is no denying that WordPress is one of the first that comes to mind. It comes highly recommended even by veteran bloggers and industry experts, both for beginners and already experienced users.
WordPress is one of the most widely used blogging platforms in the world, powering almost 25% of all the websites and weblogs in the internet today, and that accounts for millions and millions of sites and blogs.
In this article, we discuss 1) the advantages of using WordPress as a blogging platform, 2) how to start a free blog on WordPress, and 3) how to start a self-hosted blog on WordPress.
ADVANTAGES OF USING WORDPRESS AS A BLOGGING PLATFORM
Ask professional bloggers and they will give you pretty much the same reasons why WordPress is their choice for a blogging platform. Let us take a look at them one by one.
WordPress offers hundreds of themes and a flexible plugin architecture. Design is one of the key points in starting and maintaining a blog. Whether you are setting up a free WordPress blog or a self-hosted one on WordPress, you will have access to hundreds of themes and even more plugins in its own marketplace. Many theme designers create themes specifically for WordPress, so you are bound to find the theme that fits your blog the most. If you want to extend the functionality, look and feel of your blog beyond what was made available in the theme you’ve chosen, then you can take your pick from among the tens of thousands of plugins available.
WordPress provides quality support. Through the WordPress support forum, you have access to technical support regarding any problems with WordPress that you may encounter.
WordPress is ideal even for non-techie users. You do not have to know rocket science or be knowledgeable about coding in order to start and maintain a blog on WordPress. The Dashboard has a very user-friendly design, so you can easily make changes and effect updates on your blog.
WordPress is designed for social media integration. Bloggers naturally would like to take advantage of the features of social media in promoting the content on their blogs. WordPress makes this easy by providing tools that will facilitate this integration with sites such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, among others.
WordPress is SEO-friendly. SEO may not be your top priority when you are just starting out, but it is good to cover your bases early on. Fortunately, WordPress is one of the more SEO-friendly platforms around, and you may even add specific plugins to enhance your blog’s SEO. Even the permalink structure is made to be SEO-friendly.
WordPress is a trusted platform. WordPress has established a reputation for reliability, which is why audiences tend to find websites and blogs hosted on WordPress to be more credible and professional. Even advertisers look more favorably on WordPress than other platforms, so when you reach the point in the future where you plan to make money out of your blog, you already have a good foundation.
WordPress comes with a plethora of features that bloggers will find very useful. They include, but are not limited to:
- Integrated link management
- Multiple categorization of articles or posts
- Tagging of articles or posts
- Formatting and style options for articles and posts
- Automatic filters
- Trackback and Pingback features for when another blog or site displays your links
You can start a blog on WordPress starting with two options: a free blog or a self-hosted one. WordPress.com is the one that provides free blog hosting, while WordPress.org is the software package that allows self-hosting of your blog.
Alternatively you can watch our step-by-step guide on how to start your blog using bluehost and wordpress on Youtube.
STARTING A FREE BLOG ON WORDPRESS
WordPress is an excellent blogging platform for those who want to start a blog without spending a single cent. This is made possible by the blog hosting service WordPress.com, which is powered by the open source WordPress content management system.
Free is all well and good, because you get to have a blog without spending anything. But here’s the reality of a free blog on WordPress (and technically all other free blogging platforms): you do not really own the blog. You are simply like a contributor, submitting posts, articles, images, and media to WordPress so they can publish it for public viewing.
You are, in effect, blogging on a sub-domain, or on another website – one that is not your own. In fact, even your URL or link address will be inseparable with that of the platform. For example, your URL would appear as myblog.wordpress.com.
Aside from that not-so-small issue regarding ownership, here are other disadvantages of blogging on a sub-domain of a free blogging platform.
- A lot of restrictions. WordPress.com will let you use some of its space for free, but you will be subjected to many limitations and restrictions.
- Less features than WordPress.org. If you are brimming with ideas about your blog, you might end up disappointed when you find yourself unable to bring those ideas to life, because those features are not available in the system. If you are okay with less customization, then you have no problem with setting up a free blog.
- Pay for a domain name. It is free to start your blog on WordPress.com, but if you want to have your own domain name, so you can be free of the sub-domain giveaway on your URL, you will have to pay a specific amount.
If this is your preferred option, you can set up your free WordPress blog in under 5 minutes. Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can go about it.
Step #1. Choose a blog name or address that will be used in your URL.
Since you are setting up a free blog, you will not be able to remove wordpress from your URL. However, you may opt to pay around $25 annually if you want a custom domain name.
When choosing a name for your blog URL, make sure that it is unique, has easy recall, and enables readers to find you easily.
Step #2. Register for a WordPress.com account.
- Go to WordPress.com and click on “SIGN UP”.
- You will be asked for the blog URL that you have chosen in Step 1. If you did not check the availability of the blog URL beforehand, do not worry. WordPress has a facility that will immediately inform you if your URL is already taken.
- Choose a username and a password, and input your email address. You may also choose the language you prefer to use. By default, it is set in English. You can change that if you want.
- Click on “CREATE BLOG”.
- Check your inbox for the confirmation email sent by WordPress and click on the link to complete the registration process and activate your account.
Step #3. Design your blog.
- Login to your blog using your chosen username and password.
- Click on the “Dashboard” for you to be directed to the Dashboard, which is your administrator control panel.
- Choose a theme, or the basic design of the blog.
- On your dashboard, click on Appearance > Themes.
- You will be directed to the WordPress Theme Library, containing all the themes – both free and paid – available. Browse through the themes (in keeping with the “free” topic, we will assume that you will choose a free theme instead of a paid one) until you found the one you like. Use the “Live Preview” to get a glimpse of how the theme looks like.
- Found a theme that you like? Click on that theme and click “SAVE AND ACTIVATE”
- Modify your blog. At any time during tweaking the look and feel of your blog, you can preview how it will look.
- Choose a name and tagline that will appear in your blog header. This can be done by going to Settings> General.
- Add widgets by going to Appearance > Widgets. You will be presented with a list of widget options for you to choose from. It would be a good idea to prioritize those that you need and will actually use, instead of piling as many widgets as you can on to your blog. This would result in a blog that would look like it’s bursting at the seams. The most common widgets added to blogs, especially in the early stages, include “Follow Blog”, Archives, Like on Facebook, Categories, Tag Cloud, and Meta box.
- You’re done!
Step #4. Start publishing content. Publish your first blog post by clicking on Posts > Add New.
WordPress.com has in-depth and detailed tutorials on how you can start and maintain your free blog, so even beginners can start working on it.
Usually, what many people do is to start out with a free blog first and, after a while, move to WordPress.org. However, there is no reason why you should not immediately proceed to setting up a self-hosted blog on WordPress when you are already resolved to make a success out of blogging.
STARTING A SELF-HOSTED BLOG ON WORDPRESS
This is the more preferred and recommended option. If you are really serious about blogging, and you want your blog to be a success, then you should be willing to invest a little on it.
Before we proceed to the steps, let us first go over the reasons why you should start a self-hosted blog instead of going the cheaper route and starting a free blog on WordPress.
- A self-hosted blog gives you control over your blog. We have already established that you do not really own a free blog on WordPress.com, because you are essentially making use of their space. Thus, you can decide whatever direction your blog wants to take, in terms of its look and feel, and the content.
- A self-hosted blog does not subject you to the many limitations that a free WordPress blog does. Granted, you are still going to be subject to limitations that come with the hosting plan that you chose, but those are considerably less than when you use WordPress.com.
- A self-hosted blog on WordPress is actually cheaper than when you maintain a free blog and avail of the paid features and upgrades that WordPress.com offers, such as the cost of the domain name, domain mapping, domain privacy, upgrade of storage space for media, premium themes, custom design, and the removal of ads. You are better off using WordPress.org instead.
You have decided to spend a little money for the better features, freedom and control that a self-hosted WordPress blog offers. But how will you go about it?
Step #1. Choose your domain name and check if it is available.
Step #2: Set up an account with a web hosting service provider.
Your host will provide the space where you will later install the WordPress software and conduct all your activities in your blog.
There are a number of hosting companies and service providers that you can choose from. However, since we are talking about WordPress, it is highly recommended that you pick from the hosting companies that WordPress is closely affiliated with: SiteGround, Inmotion Hosting, and Bluehost*. Out of these three, Bluehost is the favorite. Its 1-Click WordPress Auto-Install feature definitely staves a lot off the time and effort it usually takes to set up your blog on your web host.
There are several plans available on Bluehost, but you are just starting out, so there is nothing wrong with choosing the BASIC plan. You can simply upgrade in the future if and when you need it.
Follow the instructions on your chosen webhost when creating an account with them. You will also be asked the domain name that you decided on in Step #1.
Step #3. Install WordPress.
If you chose Bluehost*, then your life just became much easier. Here is more in-depth article from us describing practical steps to get your blog installed on WordPress when you self-hosted on Bluehost.
- Upon confirmation of your account, login to your Bluehost account and proceed to the cpanel.
- Scroll down to the “Website section” and click on the “INSTALL WORDPRESS” icon.
- In the next “Wordpress” screen, click on “INSTALL”.
- Choose the domain where you want to install WordPress, and click on “CHECK DOMAIN”.
- Click on the “ADVANCED OPTIONS” and input your desired blog title. This is not permanent, since you can change it later.
- You will be supplied with an Admin username and password by Bluehost.
- Agree with the Terms and Conditions and click on “INSTALL NOW”.
- Once the installation is complete, a confirmation screen will appear with your WordPress login URL written as:
You may be presented with several options that you may opt to purchase or not. You can purchase them now or do so later. We suggest that, as you’re just starting your blog, skip them. You can always buy them later on.
Keep the Credentials provided for you (you may need them later), such as your blog’s URL, your Login URL, and your username and password. An email will also be sent to you containing these credentials, so make sure you save it.
Step #4. Log into WordPress.
- Login to your WordPress account by clicking on the Admin URL that was provided for you.You may also access it by typing http://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin to the address bar of your browser.
- You will now be directed to your WordPress Dashboard, or your admin center. It is basically your “control center”.
Step #5. Customize your WordPress.
Similar to when you set up a free blog on WordPress, you can also navigate your Dashboard to give your self-hosted blog a modified look and feel, just the way you want it.
Customizing your WordPress is actually one of the fun parts of starting a blog. Let us talk about how you can customize your WordPress blog.
Themes in WordPress.
The theme is the overall layout and design of your blog. It also determines how much your blog will function or is capable of, considering how themes come with a set of features for your site.
You may make use of the free themes that are also available for WordPress.com. But if you want more functionality and (again) you do not mind spending money, you may choose from any of the premium themes available in the WordPress marketplace. If you are starting your blog with the intention of making it mobile-ready, there are also a number of mobile-ready themes.
WordPress has thousands and thousands of themes in its marketplace. This is ideal for beginner bloggers who do not know the first thing about coding and stuff related to .css and .html.
You might end up trying out several themes and test-previewing it until you find the one that you want, or that will fit the blog that you have in mind.
Once you have chosen a theme, you can start customizing.
- Customize your site’s header, background, fonts, and colors.
- Customize the sidebars by choosing from the Widgets available.
- Create custom Menus for easier navigation of your site. This is optional, though. You can learn how to do it when your blog starts to grow.
Plugins in WordPress.
The themes are already very satisfying, but did you know that you can improve it even more? Yes, you can, with the use of functional tools called plugins. From your Dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New. Upload the plugin that you want from your computer’s directory.
Take note: your WordPress blog will function even without plugins. However, it will function even better if you add these plugins.
Previewing your site before saving the customizations is highly suggested. You can actually check out the effects of every customization you made, so put that preview function to work.
Step #6. The last step is writing your first post and publishing it! Publish your first blog post by clicking on Posts > Add New.
Congratulations! You have just started your blog on WordPress. Happy blogging!
Disclosure: Some of the links (marked with *) in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.