It’s never been easier to set-up a blog. Years ago you had to be tech savvy and know how to code, or alternatively you would have to hire a web developer before you could set-up your own site. Those days have long gone. You can set-up a great looking WordPress blog within a couple of hours with just a few clicks without ever touching a line of code.
There are a number of great benefits of being a blogger, you can work for yourself and it also gives you an enormous amount of freedom allowing you to work whenever and wherever you want. Another advantage of blogging is that it’s one of the cheapest ways of making an income. You can create a blog for less than a $100. There are many bloggers out there who have turned their passion into a full time job by earning 5 to 6 figures a month. There are a number of ways of monetising a blog from affiliate marketing, advertising, to writing sponsored posts.
If you have been thinking about setting up a blog but have been worried about it being too technical, don’t worry. This article will help demystify the whole process. After reading this post you’ll be able to create a blog from scratch and you will realise it’s much easier than you initially expected.
There are 8 main steps to creating a blog:
- Choose a domain name for your site
- Purchase hosting
- Install WordPress
- Install a WordPress theme
- Add essential plugins
- Perform WordPress setting changes
- Create your pages
- Create your blog posts
All these steps will be covered in this post, our fool proof instructions are extremely easy to follow. Let’s begin…
- 1 Step 1 – Choose a Domain Name
- 2 Step 2 – Set-Up Web Hosting
- 3 Step 3 – Install WordPress
- 4 Step 4 – Choose a WordPress Theme
- 5 Step 5 – Install Essential WordPress Plugins
- 6 Step 6 – Required WordPress Settings Changes
- 7 Step 7 – Set-Up Your Blog Pages
- 8 Step 8 – Create Your First Blog Post
- 9 Related Articles
Step 1 – Choose a Domain Name
The first thing before you do anything else is to purchase a domain name for your site. A domain is basically the address for your website. Before deciding on a domain name you should first decide on a topic for your site.
You should carefully consider your domain name as it plays a crucial part for your sites branding. Ideally your domain name should reflect what your site is all about.
What Makes a Good Domain Name?
- Memorable: Your domain should be easy to spell and remember, keep your domain short. If you domain is difficult to remember you may lose repeat visitors.
- Easy to type: Avoid hyphens or numbers, it doesn’t look good in a domain and it will be difficult to type and remember.
- Check that it’s not being used on social media: Even if your domain is available also check that it’s not being used on social media such as Facebook, Twitter as you will probably want to maintain your brand across multiple digital channels.
- Go with a .com domains: Try to go for a .com extension if it’s available as it’s the most widely used. There are a number of other extensions including .net, .tv, .info, .biz. Although these are normally cheaper they don’t look as professional as a .com extension. If the .com extension is not available think about getting your equivalent country’s domain i.e. co.uk, .fr, .de, .au.
We would recommend that you register your domain through GoDaddy, their prices are affordable and their site is easy to use. They are also the world’s biggest domain registrar.
How to Register a Domain Name With GoDaddy?
In order to register your domain through GoDaddy follow these simple steps:
1. Navigate to GoDaddy’s site.
2. Enter the domain name that you’re thinking of registering into the search box and click “Search”. In this example, we are using mywonderfulblog.com as a domain we would like to register.
3. GoDaddy will then determine whether the domain is available. In this case the mywonderfulblog.com domain is available. GoDaddy will ask if you would like to register the .com version. It will also list a number of other extensions where your domain is also available. In this case the .uk, co.uk, .shop, .info, .net and .org are all available. Select the domains you will like to register by clicking on the “Add to Cart” button and then click on the “Continue to Cart” button.
4. On the next screen, GoDaddy will give you some options regarding domain privacy. For an additional fee, they will hide your personal information from anyone who views your domain details. In this case, they are charging an additional £6.99/domain per year for each domain you register with them. If you don’t want to go with this option, just select the “Basic Privacy Protection” which is free.
GoDaddy will also ask if you would like Linux Web Hosting and if you would like to create an email address that matches your domain. You don’t really need this, so you can click on the “Continue with these options” button.
5. On the next screen enter your personal details and click on “Continue”.
6. You will then be asked to review the domains and options you have selected. They will also allow you to choose how long you would like to register your domain/s for. The default option is 2 years but you can change it to 1, 3, 5 or 10 years. They also offer more options like further domains, domain privacy etc. This is not necessary so just proceed to the checkout and pay for your domains.
Now that you have your domain, we now need to set-up a hosting account. More on that in the next section…
Step 2 – Set-Up Web Hosting
We now need to set-up web hosting. Hosting is required to store your website files such as blog content, images, videos etc so that others can view your site. Essentially the blog that you will create will be stored on an online storage centre with thousands of other websites, it’s down to the web hosting company to maintain these servers so that your site it always available to your users.
There are lots of hosting companies out there, some good and some not so good, so it’s vital that you choose the right one. A bad hosting company will overload their servers which will mean your site will be slow for your visitors and their support may be limited.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Web Hosting
- Cost: How much does it cost per month?
- Uptime: Ideally you want your site available 24/7 although this may not always be possible and there will be some occasional downtime. Do they offer any uptime guarantees?
- Speed: You want your site to load quickly so that your visitors get the best user experience. A slow site can have a detrimental impact on your visitor numbers.
- How easy it to install WordPress: Many web hosting companies now offer one-click installations for WordPress so you can be up and running in no time.
- Technical support: If anything goes wrong you will need to contact them, are you able to contact them 24/7? How can you contact them? Is it through live chat, by telephone, by email or would you need to raise a support ticket?
The hosting company that we recommend is HostGator, they offer a number of benefits including:
- One-click installations for WordPress – installing WordPress takes at most a few minutes so you can set-up your blog quickly and easily without any technical knowledge.
- 24/7 support – they have great customer support. You can also use live-chat so urgent issues can be resolved quickly.
- Great prices – their Hatchling Plan starts at only $2.43 per month.
- Uptime guarantee – they have a 99.9% uptime guarantee meaning your site will suffer hardly any downtime.
- Money-back guarantee – they offer a 45-day money back guarantee if you’re not happy with their services.
- Free advertising coupons – they offer $100 Google AdWords and $100 Bing ad coupons for you to use to promote your site.
Although we recommend GoDaddy in order to register a domain, their web hosting is not that great. They suffer from poor loading times so we would recommend signing up to HostGator as we use them and we are extremely happy with their service and support that they provide.
How to Set-Up Hosting With HostGator?
1. Navigate to HostGator’s website.
2. From the main menu select “Web Hosting”.
3. HostGator will then display 3 different web hosting plans to choose from. A Hatchling Plan which is the cheapest plan and is suitable if you just want to create one website and offers unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth. The Baby Plan is perfect if you want to create multiple website (I would definitely recommend this plan). The last and most expensive plan is the Business Plan which has added extra extras over the Baby Plan including a dedicated IP and free SEO tools. Remember that you can always upgrade your plan at a later date if you need to. Once you’ve decided on the right plan for you, click on the “Buy Now!” button.
4. On the “HostGator Customer Form” select the “I Already Own This Domain” tab as we’ve already registered our domain on GoDaddy. Enter the domain name that you registered earlier.
Next choose your payment plan, this can range from 1 month up to 3 years. The longer the payment plan, the cheaper it will be. We would recommend either the 1 or 2 year payment plan.
HostGator will then offer some additional extras which you can select. HostGator provides a free SSL certificate so there is no extra charge for that. Once you’ve finished selecting any additional services you may require click on the “Checkout Now!” button to complete your purchase.
5. After a few minutes HostGator will send you an email with your account details. Remember to keep these details safe.
In this email, it will provide details of how to access your HostGator’s CPanel. CPanel is short for control panel, and allows you to do such things as install WordPress, create email accounts, modify databases and much more. At first it may look a bit scary with so many different icons displayed but don’t worry you won’t be needing to use most of these things.
Step 3 – Install WordPress
We have now registered our domain and we have a web hosting account we can now move on to installing WordPress.
Just before installing WordPress, if you’ve purchased your domain outside of HostGator which in this example we have through GoDaddy, we will need to make some minor changes so that we point our domain name from GoDaddy to HostGator instead (you can skip this step if you’ve registered your domain using the same hosting company):
1. Log into your GoDaddy account and select “Manage Domains” from the main menu.
2. From the “My Domains” screen, find the domain you have registered and click on the button next to the domain name and select “Manage DNS” from the drop-down menu.
3. On the DNS Management screen navigate to the NameServers section and click on the “Change” button. There should be 2 nameservers pointing towards GoDaddy. We will need to change this so that it points to our new server which in this case it’s HostGator.
4. Next log into HostGator’s control panel, link, and log in details should be in the original mail you received from HostGator when you initially signed up. On the far right of the control panel there should be a “General Information” section, make a note of the primary and secondary nameservers.
5. In GoDaddy, select “Custom” from the “Choose your new nameserver type” from the dropdown and update the two nameservers to correspond with the ones in HostGator. Next click on “Add Nameserver”.
Updating the nameservers may take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.
You will know once the update has completed by launching your domain in a web browser and seeing the default HostGator page. If you’re not seeing the HostGator page loading just be patient and try again later before moving onto the next stage.
Now we’re ready to start installing WordPress. There are number of blogging platforms out there including Joomla, Drupal but WordPress is definitely the best. WordPress is used by over 75 million websites as it is used by many of the leading companies such as NASA, Time, CNN, Sony, The New York Times. WordPress is free and reliable and it allows you to manage your site, including the content and design without any technical knowledge.
How to Install WordPress?
There are a couple of ways of installing WordPress. You can either do it manually or you install it directly by going to HostGator’s control panel and performing a one-click installation.
The one-click installation is the easiest and fastest ways of doing this so let’s begin:
1. Log into your HostGator’s control panel.
2. Under the “Software” section click on the “QuickInstall” button.
3. On the “Site Builders & CMS” screen select the “WordPress” option.
4. Next, select the domain from the dropdown where you want WordPress installed on.
You will need to decide how you would like to install WordPress, either at root of the directory or under the sub domain. For example:
Root directory: https://www.mysite.com Sub directory: https://www.mysite.com/blog
If you have a HostGator plan which allows you multiple domains such as the baby plan, you can host multiple sites on a single hosting package. Once you have completed this click on “Next”.
5. On the “Install Settings” screen, enter the username, email, blog title, and first and last name. Never use “admin” as the username or use your name as this is a security risk. Once you completed the relevant sections click on the “Install” button.
6. The installation may take a few minutes. Leave your web browser open while it’s installing. Once it has completed the installation, a pop-up will appear with the installation details including the domain URL that WordPress has been installed to, your admin username and your password. You will also get an email with the details.
The default login page of your WordPress site is: http://yourblogdomain.com/wp-login.php. This is the URL for your WordPress dashboard. This is where you will log in to create your blog, publish posts, install new themes and where you’ll run your blog from.
Step 4 – Choose a WordPress Theme
Congratulations you’ve now installed WordPress on your hosting account. WordPress by default will have activated their basic theme which at the time of writing is “Twenty Seventeen”. A theme is essentially the overall design of your site which can be customised by you, which will include such things as fonts, colours, backgrounds, different page layouts and styles for your blog posts and much more.
The default WordPress theme which has been installed is pretty basic, so you will probably want to choose a different theme especially if you’re trying to monetise your site so it looks professional and is visually appealing to your visitors. There are literally thousands of themes out there to choose from. Some themes are free while for premium themes you will have to pay for these.
Premium themes can cost anywhere between $15 to $99. It’s definitely worth investing in a premium theme especially as they will usually look and function better than free themes. They’ll also provide technical support if there’s any issues with your theme and there will be better documentation.
Factors To Consider When Choosing a Theme
Responsive & Mobile Friendly
There is a range of devices users nowadays can use to browse the web. It’s important that your theme supports all devices including mobile and tablet devices. Your theme should be able to change its layout depending on the device your visitor is using. A website’s responsiveness is also taken into consideration when ranking pages in Gooogle’s search results, so it’s vital that you choose a mobile-friendly theme.
The speed of your site is another important factor to consider. If it takes too long to load, your users may go elsewhere. Visitors expect a site to take no more than a few seconds to load. If your theme is poorly-coded it may impact your websites performance. Check out the themes reviews and see if anyone else is complaining about it being slow.
Easy to Customise
The purpose of using a theme is to save you time so that you’re able to customise your website without having to worry about making any changes directly to the code. It is therefore important that your theme should be easy to customise. Are you able to change the colour scheme or font with a couple of clicks? Are there a wide range of fonts you can choose from or can change the size of the sidebar or move widgets where you want them to be?
Always look for an SEO optimised theme. Even if it mentions that you’re theme is “SEO Ready”, test their demo page with a SEO tool such as MozBar. A theme that is poorly coded or where they fail to follow good design practices, will have a negative effect on your search rankings, which means less people will get to see your site, which is not what you want.
Don’t forget when choosing a theme to also check out the ratings and reviews and make sure the theme is regularly updated.
Best Sites to Find Themes
There are lots of companies who produce WordPress themes, some of our favourites include:
ThemeForest – Our favourite theme site, it has thousands of themes for all budgets to choose from. If you’re looking for a theme ThemeForest this is the site to go to first. Apart from themes, they also have stock photos, animations, videos and much more.
StudioPress – Well-known for their Genesis Framework which is a Search Engine Optimised and fast loading theme that is used on over 500,000 WordPress sites.
Thrive Themes – Thrive Themes concentrate on creating conversion focused themes which allow you to create landing pages and optin forms quickly.
How to Install a Theme?
If you’ve purchased your theme, you will have to download it, it will usually come in a .zip file format. You will then have to install your theme from your WordPress dashboard, it is a very simple process, just follow these steps:
- From your WordPress Dashboard, select “Appearance”-> “Themes”.
- Click on the “Add New” button at the top.
- Click on the “Upload Theme” button and navigate to where you have downloaded your theme’s .zip file.
- Next click on the “Install Now”
- You will then be redirected to another screen which will display the status of your installation. Once it has fully installed click on the “Activate” button and your theme should be installed.
Step 5 – Install Essential WordPress Plugins
Now that you’ve installed a WordPress theme, you can start installing some plugins. Plugins are essentially add-ons which you can install to do useful things on your site, for example add a forum, help you speed-up your site by using caching, add a photo gallery, add forms and much more.
There are literally thousands of plugins which you can use, some more useful than others. When using plugins on your site, make sure you only install the necessary ones. If you go overboard and install too many plugins it could slow down your site and you could face a higher security risk especially if you forget to update out-of-date plugins.
Indispensable WordPress Plugins to Install
1. Yoast SEO
The must have plug-in to help you make your content as SEO friendly as possible for each post.
Helps filter out spam from comments. It automatically does this for you so you don’t need to worry about dealing with hundreds of spam comments on your blog. The plugin also comes preloaded with your WordPress blog.
3. WP Super Cache
OptinMonster is a great lead-generation plugin which allows you to create attention grabbing email signup forms on your site that convert well. It works with most email marketing tools such as MailChimp or Aweber.
Large image files on your site can slow it down, avoid this by installing the Smush Image Compression and Optimisation plugin which resizes, optimises and compresses all your images.
Allows you to keep track of broken links so that you can quickly fix them to prevent them affecting your search rankings. Activate the plugin every few weeks to find broken links and then turn it off as it may slow down your website otherwise.
How to Install a Plugin From the Dashboard?
The quickest and easiest way to install a plugin is from the WordPress dashboard itself.
To do this follow these steps:
- Select “Plugins” and then select “Add New” from the WordPress Dashboard menu.
- If you know the name of the plugin you want to install enter the name of it in the search box on the top right. In this example we have entered “Yoast SEO” into the search box.
- Once you’ve located the plugin click on the “Install Now” button.
- Once the plugin has installed, click on the “Activate” button.
How to Install a Plugin From a Third-Party?
Apart from downloading plugins from the WordPress, you can also install plugins from third party websites. Once you’ve downloaded the plugin (should be a .zip file) from the author’s website, follow these simple steps in order to install it.
- Select “Plugins” and then select “Add New” from the WordPress Dashboard menu.
- Click on the “Upload Plugins” button which is located near the top of the dashboard.
- Next click on the “Browse” button and navigate to where you have the download the .zip plugin file.
- Click on the “Install Now” button.
- Once the plugin has installed, click on the “Activate” button.
Step 6 – Required WordPress Settings Changes
You’ve now installed WordPress and you’ve chosen your theme and you have installed some useful plugins. You’re now ready to start working on the fun part which is creating great content. Before that though, you should make some minor changes to your WordPress site settings.
Here are some of the settings that we recommend that you modify (don’t worry these won’t take long):
A permalink determines the structure of your web address/URL. The permalink structure can determine how SEO friendly your URL is and will therefore determine how well you rank in Google.
A non-SEO friendly URL will look like the following:
While an SEO friendly URL will look similar to the below:
Your aim is to use a simple but clear permalink structure, ideally you want the URL to end with your post name or otherwise you can prefix the post name with the category instead. WordPress allows you to choose the default permalink structure for your site.
In order to modify your permalink structure perform the following steps:
1. Go to Settings -> Permalink.
2. Next select “Post name” or select “Custom Structure”. If you’ve selected “Custom Structure” click on the “%category%” button followed by the “%postname%” button as shown below.
3. Finally click on “Save”.
2. Delete Dummy Posts
Your WordPress theme that you have installed will probably come with default pages, posts and comments which you won’t want to appear on your site. In order to delete these perform the following steps:
1. From the WordPress dashboard go to “Posts” -> “All Posts” and delete all the default posts. You can delete all the required pages by selecting the relevant posts and then performing a “Move to Bin” from the “Bulk Actions”.
2. Next go to “Pages” -> “All Pages” and delete all the pages that are not required.
3. Finally go to “Comments” and delete the comments.
No doubt your site will require menus which will be used by your visitors to navigate through it.
In order to create the required menus for your site you will need to perform the following steps:
1. Select “Appearance”-> “Menus” to bring up the Menu Editor.
2. Select “Create a new menu” near the top of the page.
3. Next enter a name for your new menu.
4. Now you can add the relevant menu items including categories, pages, posts and links.
5. Finally click-on the “Create Menu button”.
4. Modify Discussion Settings
You need to decide whether you want your users to be able to comment on your posts, and if you do, how would you like to moderate this and how should it be displayed on your website?
In order to change the discussion settings before the following:
1. Go to “Settings” -> “Discussion”.
2. Make the require setting changes as required.
3. Finally click on the “Save Changes”.
There are number of possible settings which you can modify including being emailed whenever someone posts a comment, as well being notified whenever a comment is held for moderation. This is useful to prevent spam.
5. Set-Up Your Time Zone
The default timezone WordPress uses is UTC +0, you will therefore need to alter the time zone to match yours. The time zone is useful if you would like to schedule when your posts go live, so ensure its set correctly.
In order to set the correct time zone:
1. Go to “Settings”->“General”.
2. Locate the “Timezone” field and select the relevant time zone from the drop-down menu.
3. Click on “Save Changes”.
6. Modify Your Site Title and Tagline
Your title and tagline are important elements of a site and they will also be one of the first things your users see. You want to use a good title and tagline so that your visitors will understand what your site is all about. These elements also play an important role in SEO so spend time thinking about your site title and tagline.
In order to modify your site title and tagline perform the following:
1. Go to “Settings”->“General”.
2. Locate the “Site Title” and “Tagline” field and make the required changes.
3. Click on “Save Changes”.
7. Allow/Disallow User Registration
You will have to determine whether you allow users to register on your site. For example, you can enable user registration so that users can add post, comments etc on your site. The default user role is subscriber which can be changed as required i.e. if you want users to be able to write posts on your site, you can change the user role to Author or Contributor.
1. Go to “Settings”->“General”.
2. Scroll down the “Membership” section and check or uncheck the “Anyone can register” as required.
3. Next select the default user role which is assigned to a new user who registers on your site.
Step 7 – Set-Up Your Blog Pages
How to Create a Page in WordPress?
1. From the WordPress dashboard, hoover over “Pages” and then select “Add New”.
2. From the “Add New Page”, enter your page title and add the relevant content.
3. Once you have created your page, click on the “Preview” button to view it. If you’re happy with the changes click on the “Publish” button.
4. You will now need to add the page to the relevant menu so that it’s displayed correctly. In order to do this, navigate to “Appearance” from the WordPress dashboard and then select “Menus”.
5. On the “Menus” screen, the latest page that you have created will appear in the “Pages” box on the left. Select the page by selecting the relevant tick box next to it and click on the “Add to Menu” button.
6. In the “Menu Structure” section, move your page to the relevant menu and order as required and then click on “Save Menu”.
Step 8 – Create Your First Blog Post
Let’s now create our first blog post. Don’t worry, if you’ve used Microsoft Word or a similar in the past you should be create a post without issues, it’s super easy, I promise!
How to Create a Blog Post in WordPress?
In order to create our first blog post, go to your WordPress dashboard (yourblogdomain.com/wp-admin) and hoover over the “Posts” menu item and click on “Add New”.
The “Add a New Post” screen will now open and will look something similar to the below:
The “Add a New Post” screen essentially as 6 key components which are:
1. Title section: This is where you enter the title of your post blog.
2. Content area: This is where you write your blog post. It can contain text, images, video and much more.
3. Add media: This is where you can select images, videos, documents which can be added to the content area of your post.
4. Publish: When you’ve created your blog post, you will need to publish it, so it goes live to your audience. This is the area where this task is done. You can publish a post immediately or you can schedule it to post sometime in the future.
5. Categories: When you’ve created your post, you will need to assign it a category. This is the area where you can create a category and assign your post to it.
6. Tags: This is where you can enter keywords and phrased that relate to your post.
Ok, now that you’re aware of the key elements to the screen let’s start creating our blog post…
Let’s enter the title for our blog post first:
Let’s now add some blog content. Just above the content area where you write your post, you’ll have a toolbar where you can format your text as required, it’s similar to what you see in a normal text editor.
To the far right, you’ll have two tabs labelled “Visual” and “Text”. The Visual tab is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. It essentially displays your content how you would see if it was published in your web browser. While the Text tab, shows you all the background code that is generated as part of your blog post. The Text tab is useful if you want to alter some of the HTML code, on the whole you will just need to use the Visual tab.
Let’s now add an image to our blog post. Click on the “Add Media” button and then select the “Upload Files” tab and navigate to the location of your image.
Its good SEO practice to fill out the title, caption, alt text and description for your image as search engines will use this data to for search ranking purposes.
Once you finished entering all the details for your image, click on the “Insert into Post” button.
The blog post now looks like the following:
We now need to assign our post to a category. These are used to categorise your posts so that your visitors can easily locate them when they visit your site. Think of it like a table of contents in a book. You will normally display your categories on your top menu bar on your site so that your users can navigate to the relevant sections.
Let’s create a new category called “Blogging”, in order to do this click on the “Add New Category” link which is located under Categories section on the far right. Next assign the blog post to the “Blogging” category by clicking on the checkbox next to the category.
We now need to add some tags relating to the post. Think of tags as keywords relating to your post. Tags are indexed by search engines so always ensure you include some.
Let’s preview our blog before we publish just to make sure it looks ok. We can do this by clicking on the “Preview” button in the Publish section. The blog post is displayed in a web browser just how your visitor would see it.
Right, we’re now ready to publish out first blog post. If you want to publish your post immediately, you can click on the “Publish” button otherwise if you want to schedule it to post at a later date, just click on “edit” link next to the “Publish immediately” text and configure the date and time to publish your blog post.
You’ve now created your first blog post, easy wasn’t it?