Starting a WordPress blog can be daunting if you’ve never done it before.
While you use websites every day, you may have no idea how they are created and the work that goes into keeping them online.
Fortunately for you, the process is easier than you think thanks to blogging tools like WordPress.
By the end of this guide, you’ll know everything you need to know about starting a WordPress blog.
You’ll have a stable foundation that you can use to create a successful blog, whether it’s a hobby or a way to make some extra money.
Below I have covered what you need to start a WordPress blog, a step-by-step guide to doing it, and then a section that answers the frequently asked questions that other beginners have.
I have also used links that provide more information, for those who want to level up their blogging skills by diving even deeper into site ownership.
Let’s start with what you’ll need to start a WordPress blog. Don’t worry, it’s less than you think!
What Is Needed To Start A WordPress Blog?
Using WordPress is one of the easiest ways to start a blog.
Unlike most fast and easy solutions in life, WordPress is a great service that can build high-quality websites without having prior knowledge in coding and the other skills necessary for site development. It’s one of the best tools in a beginner’s arsenal.
A skilled site developer could make something better from scratch, sure, but those skills take a lot of time to learn. So, as a beginner, using WordPress and other similar tools allows ordinary, busy people to create a great site very fast.
So, what do you need?
You just need three things:
- A domain name
- A web hosting account
- 30 minutes
Those are the fundamentals for starting a WordPress blog. These are explained more below.
A Domain Name Idea
Whether you’re making a personal blog or an online business enterprise, the domain name is important.
A domain name is just the name of the website, so it will be front and center with every web page and at the top of every search engine.
For many blogs, people use their name or at least include it. For online business sites, you’d need to think deeper about branding and other important considerations.
There are more tips on selecting a good name further in this guide.
In a sentence – you need to choose a name that you like, is memorable, and represents what your blog writes about.
A Web Hosting Account
The biggest barrier to owning a website isn’t making the web pages – it’s hosting.
To secure your own domain, you will need to get a web hosting account. These are accounts with web hosting services that allow you to publish your site files to the Internet, allowing you to be found by web surfers across the globe.
You can make a fancy landing page and learn how to use WordPress but, without a web hosting account, you won’t get very far.
Hosting usually comes with a small fee, which I’d suggest paying to get an acceptable standard of service, but most of them are quite affordable for enabling you to host your website.
Then you pay the web hosting service, open your account with them, and they will use on-site servers to host your site files and publish them online.
Every website out there is housed in a server, somewhere. Big, professional operations may host their own servers but, for beginners and individual entrepreneurs, you can pay a service to handle it for you.
Your Attention For 30 Minutes
This one is the easiest. It may take a little shorter or longer than 30 minutes, depending on the person, but the point is that it doesn’t take much time at all to get started. This is perhaps the biggest misconception that beginners have about site ownership – that it takes a lot of time and effort to get started.
The truth is that you can start a website in one afternoon. Then, after the website is up, you need time and effort in to grow the site.
Whether you just want readers for your blog or you’re looking to market and sell things to make some cash, you’ll need to fill the blog with content. That takes time.
So, starting a WordPress blog is easy and fast. Finding success with that blog is where the effort comes in. You can figure the rest out later, what’s important is that you get started today!
Starting A WordPress Blog Step-By-Step
That brings us to our step-by-step guide on starting a WordPress blog. It’s easy to say how fast and quick starting a WordPress blog can be but that doesn’t tell beginners what to do.
So, here is how to start a WordPress blog in seven easy steps, in plain English.
First, let’s cover the setup.
These are the things we just covered – naming and hosting your website.
You should also make sure you’re using WordPress.org, NOT the dot-com version. What’s the difference?
WordPress.org is open-source software that is 100% free to run. WordPress.com has both free and paid site-building features, though the free version places generic ads on your pages.
WordPress.org doesn’t do that. Ultimately, using the dot-org domain is more customizable and less restrictive, especially if you’re looking to grow the site into something profitable.
To make a WordPress.org domain, you need a name and hosting, as we discussed above. Registering a new domain name, once you have decided on one, can cost as much as $15 a year.
For hosting, the prices vary drastically depending on the quality of service, storage, and other resources and features they’ll give you. To start, the typical price would be somewhere around $7 to $9 a month. For a year, that’s around $84 to $108.
One of the oldest, largest, most popular, and most favorably priced services for WordPress site hosting is Bluehost.com. They work directly with WordPress and also offer periodic deals for those who are taking their first plunge into site ownership.
These next steps will generally apply to any hosting site. However for the sake of clarity we’ll be using Bluehost as our example as we have experience using it and these steps directly correlate to setup with them.
Follow these steps:
- Open Bluehost or your chosen hosting service in a window.
- Get started by clicking whatever buttons or prompts are on their website.
- From there, you’ll need to select a plan. Go for the most basic one you can afford. With Bluehost, the 36-month plan gives the best value because it extends first-year savings to three whole years.
- Enter the domain name for your website.
- Fill out any required account information.
- Finalize the process.
- Then you’ll get asked if you want optional purchases. You can get them if you want but, as a beginner, you may want to start out with the basics before risking more money.
Information will be sent to your email about logging in and web hosting.
Now that you have figured out hosting, you can start with WordPress.
First, you need to install it. Sometimes, depending on how you got Bluehost, they will have a link on their site to automatically install WordPress. Note that Bluehost is generally the easiest way to install WordPress but it’s not your only option.
After finding the relevant option in your site builder, you will be prompted with naming and giving a tagline for your site. Don’t worry, you can change both later.
Then you’ll insert the domain that you have purchased, connecting the two and creating your website.
Now that it’s set up, you can focus on more superficial things like the blog’s appearance.
Selecting A WordPress Theme
How a site looks is important. It isn’t just part of your blog; it can also be part of your branding if you have higher ambitions. There’s a reason that brands tend to stick to the same colors and fonts, after all.
Fortunately, WordPress makes managing the color and content of your blog easy through themes. They have thousands of pre-made themes that you can choose from and, at the click of a button, install them on your website.
You may need to pay to use some of them, which is definitely NOT needed for your website to work, but you can if you want.
To change the theme, find ‘Appearance’ on your WordPress dashboard and click ‘Themes’.
From there, select ‘Add New’ and find nearly 10,000 themes to choose from. You can use an intuitive filter system to find the styles that you are looking for.
The ‘Preview’ button that shows what your site will look like if you select a theme.
When choosing a theme, make sure you (and your readers) will like the following:
- Positioning of content
Don’t get too carried away when designing your WordPress. Simplicity can go a long way and you don’t want a landing page that’s too noisy. Many site owners have studied WordPress themes and promote those that give them the best metrics bump.
Install your chosen theme, click activate, then your theme should change seamlessly. For customization, you find ‘Customize’ in that same ‘Appearance’ menu. Many built-in widgets make content structure easy and intuitive to change.
You can also use page builders that are compatible with WordPress to make other changes to the site, all without needing to code.
Creating Your First Blog Post
Having a pretty site is great, but you still need to add content to it.
Make your first blog post to get the hang of it. You do this by finding ‘Posts’ on your dashboard and selecting ‘Add New’. This should put you in editing mode, where you can easily change the content of a block.
For posterity, blocks are how WordPress is structured. Each element on the page is a block, whether it’s an image or a text box, and they can be easily moved around with a block editor.
Once you’re done writing, click ‘Publish’ to make it official. Now it is publicly available for all of your fellow netizens to see!
Plugins & Customizations
While the process has been fairly straightforward so far, plugins allow you to add so much more to your website. To make an effective blog and compete with others out there doing the same, you will need plugins and other third-party additions.
WordPress plugins are essentially apps and programs that are compatible with WordPress (hence the name) and add new features to your site, all without typing a single line of code.
With nearly 60,000 plugins out there and more being created every day, you’re spoiled for choice. That’s just the free plugins, too. There are many more premium ones out there available at a cost.
So, what can you do with a plugin? Here are just a few things you can add to your site using plugins:
- Contact Forms
- Emailing Lists
- SEO Analytics
I highly recommend you get at least a contact form and search analytics for your website. The first lets readers get in contact with you while the second allows you to monitor how your site is performing online.
One of the most popular contact form plugins is WPForms. The WPForms plugin that comes with all the contact form features costs money. However, WPForms Lite is a free version you can use to get started..
You install WPForms Lite and all other plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory by finding ‘Plugins’ from your WordPress Admin Dashboard, choosing ‘Add New’, and then searching WPForms Lite.
Install and activate it, as you did with the theme, and ‘WPForms’ should appear on your dashboard.
Create a new page with ‘Add New’ and you’ll find their builder interface. Here’s where you create the form. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or confusing – simplicity is better here too and you can get more complex later if your site grows. Save and exit once you are done.
Then you need to make a new WordPress page at ‘Pages’ and name it something like ‘Contact’ or ‘Contact Us’. Then you select WPForms from the drop-down menu. Publish your page and test it out.
For analytics, the process is very similar. First, who better to give you search analytics than Google themselves? Google Analytics is easy to get if you have a Gmail account – and it’s totally free!
After providing your info, you will be given a tracking code. You can write it down for safe-keeping if you want but we can use a plugin to automatically fetch it.
You can do this with MonsterInsights, another popular plugin, which uses the free version of Google Analytics and makes it visible in your WordPress admin backend.
After installing and activating, find it under ‘Insights’ and ‘Settings’ to connect. The on-screen instructions should have you covered from there and, when complete, you should see your views on the dashboard.
This is much more convenient than separately checking Google Analytics.
If you’re getting analytics for SEO purposes, you’ll also want to check out All In One SEO, a plugin that you can use to optimize your blog’s performance. It has its own installation wizard, so you shouldn’t need too much help getting it installed.
If you’re unfamiliar with SEO and intimidated by all the metrics this opens up, you can ignore it for now and come back later when you have learned some SEO and want to build your site.
There are many, many more plugins you can get for all sorts of purposes. Here are some of the other things you can do with WordPress plugins:
- Back up your site so you’re protected if you lose information.
- Improve performance speed so that the blog runs smoother.
- Scan for security concerns and address them to keep your blog secure.
Add push notifications and other means of gathering subscribers.
Once you’ve done all of the above, you have pretty much created your blog. From here, you start writing content and putting it out there. Remember to consider SEO if you want it to hit as many eyes as possible.
However, it may feel like you’ve just scraped the surface, and that’s because you have. Like many accessible services, WordPress is easy to start but hard to master. It takes more effort and time than the average blog out there.
Just learning how WordPress works is a skill that is marketable to many employers too, so learning more is also an investment in your future.
If you learn some of the coding skills that can be used with WordPress, you can also make sites for people and make money doing that.
But what if you want to make money with your blog? Don’t worry, I have you covered.
Can I Make Money From A WordPress Blog?
The answer is a resounding yes – you can make money from a WordPress blog. There is a catch here, though.
The blog needs to be high-quality and, barring any events outside of your control, you’ll need to be visible on search engines to gather any significant traffic. Without traffic, none of the many ways you can monetize a WordPress blog will pay off.
Some people make a lot of money from their WordPress blogs. As such, some approach them as if they are get-rich-quick schemes.
You’ll need to work for success and remember that yes, some people make a lot of money, but you’re not ‘some people.’ Even if you were, you’d be in the minority.
Instead, approach the space with some humility, put in the work and time, step back and strategize when things aren’t going your way, and you should do fine.
That doesn’t mean you’ll make it rich, of course, but it does mean you can pocket some passive income at the end of the month.
With that understood – how do you make money from a WordPress blog, anyway?
Four very popular ways stand out and are easy to understand from a beginner’s perspective:
1. Online Store
The first is the most obvious but it also comes with the most effort. Bloggers often sell both digital and physical products, using their blog as a marketing platform.
Whatever you’re selling, you need to install an e-commerce plugin that allows you to add a store page to WordPress. The most popular of these is WooCommerce.
2. Reader Support
While it’s not directly connected to WordPress, many blogs that don’t have products to offer instead rely on support from their readers. Say your blog does media reviews – what can you sell?
You can create premium content and/or pursue funding through services like Patreon. Then established fans can pay for it to keep going. Naturally, you need to build an audience first.
3. Affiliate Marketing
If you can’t sell your own products, why not sell somebody else’s? You can do that through affiliate marketing. This is where you recommend and link products to readers in exchange for a cut of any purchases that happen afterward.
As I said before, many themes and designs have been studied and refined to make them the most profitable. The largest affiliate marketer is Amazon, which has no shortage of products you can recommend.
4. Google AdSense
Lastly, there is the most passive way to make money with a WordPress blog. This is just where you show other people’s advertisements on your blog.
Google AdSense is the most popular way of doing this as many companies use it for online marketing purposes. Think of it as a middleman between the advertiser and you.
Advertisers bid on keywords too, so certain keywords will get you a better rate than others.
Those are just some of the ways that you can monetize your site. If you’re a beginner, I’d worry more about establishing the site first and knowing your way around the WordPress dashboard.
There will always be time for you to expand your skillset later and pursue monetization – and it will be much easier and less stressful when you know what you’re doing beforehand!
Frequently Asked Questions
That’s everything that you must know if you want to start a WordPress blog. Even then, you may have some small questions that haven’t been covered. If that’s the case, hopefully, I answered it here.
Can I Build A Blog Without Hosting?
There are a lot of optional things when you’re building your website. Hosting is not one of them. Without hosting, you’re not on the Internet, period. Think of it as a piece of real estate – hosting stores your files and allows them to be displayed at your chosen domain.
If you don’t pay your hosting fees, visitors to your site will see a blank space where your website used to be.
How Do I Come Up With A Good Blog Name?
Well, this is a big question. If you’re really attached to the blog that you’re creating, it’s kind of like asking me to name your dog. You can name it anything you want. It is yours, after all.
That said, here’s some general advice if you’re looking for success. A domain name should be:
- Dot-com – don’t go for anything fancy as a beginner.
- Keep it short, simple, and memorable.
- Make sure it’s easy to spell and pronounce when there’s no spacing between words.
- Avoid hyphens at all costs. Try to avoid doubled-up letters too.
- Try to include keywords relevant to the topics/industries your blog is covering.
- But, if expansion is a possibility, don’t make the name too narrowly focused.
- Check to make sure any name you choose isn’t trademarked.
If you can think of a name that hits all of those points, you may have struck gold. Don’t stress too much about it, even some of the most experienced bloggers only hit a few. You can also use a name generator but, as you’d expect, the results can vary.
What Is The Best Blogging Niche?
It depends on what is meant by ‘best’, of course. Without giving you business advice, I can say that blogs about doing things are best for blogs that don’t sell anything. Vague? Yes, it is, so here are some examples of popular blogging niches:
- Arts & Crafts
See what I mean? They are all about an experience, making something that you can share with readers, along with the story of creating it. That kind of thing is what blogs are built on.
If you have money on your mind, the tech and digital marketing fields can be fruitful, and you can offer digital products that are easier to manage than the actual stock.
That said, if you build an audience with the examples above, you could easily swing an affiliate deal with, say, a tool manufacturer for a DIY site or fancy camera lenses for a photography blog and make more money.
You should pick a niche that has prospects but is also interesting to you. Then you’ll enjoy making content for the site and, well, you know what they say about doing what you love and never working another day in your life.
What Are The Costs Involved In Starting A Blog?
The costs of a WordPress blog differ depending on the plans you have, and any paid plugins you might pick up along the way.
There are four main categories:
- Domain Name
Across those four areas, you can rack up significant costs. The pros who do this for a living can and do spend thousands creating their blogs because they know they can make their investment back.
For a beginner, however, you’re looking at anywhere between $100 and $500, preferably towards the lower end.
Just know that you don’t need to dump a lot of money into a blog for it to be successful. What matters is the quality of the content and how it performs in search results.
Can I Create A Blog Without My Parents Knowing About It?
The typical blog wants people to find it but, if that’s not the case, there are ways you can make a WordPress blog private. Yes, even from your parents.
If this FAQ applies to you, you’re a young person who is showing tremendous initiative by learning these skills earlier than most.
Private blogs exist for a variety of reasons, from personal journals to family picture storage, and for teams to work quietly without the prying eyes of the Internet on them.
On WordPress, you can make a site private by editing the visibility of individual blog posts. If all of them are private under the ‘Visibility’ option, then you have a password-protected blog that only you and other admins can view through the dashboard.
There are also plugins you can use to achieve the same effects.
You can make a site completely private with ones like My Private Site, while SeedProd and MembersPress are also great for taking your blog private or creating a membership wall that keeps the average person out.
How Can I Create A Blog And Remain Anonymous?
Anything you do on the Internet is putting yourself out there in some way. Some people don’t like that, which is why it’s possible to stay anonymous with your blog. First, create a unique email that uses a pseudonym or nickname.
Next, you should opt for WHOIS privacy when getting a domain name. This means that the public-facing domain holder info is the provider’s, not yours.
If anything does come in for your eyes, it is forwarded to you. Hosting services like Bluehost also provide privacy protection, though it costs more.
Once your blog is up, you should avoid posting any identifying information. A VPN can protect you during online activity, too.
How Do I Add A Podcast To My WordPress Blog?
Through the tools that WordPress gives you, it’s easy to add podcasts to a page. However, you’ll need to find a media hosting service for the podcast itself.
Podcasts are long-form content, you can’t just dump that onto your WordPress page without slowing down the page.
Blubrry is a handy media hosting service that can work with Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting, a WordPress plugin that seamlessly connects the media file to your page.
Can I Build A Blog In A Different Language?
Yes, WordPress supports many different languages. It is the world’s most popular website platform, after all. In the admin area, go to Settings and find over 50 language options.
Can I Switch Blogging Platforms In The Future?
Yes, it is possible to switch blogging platforms. That said, it’s a tedious process if your blog is years old and is packed full of content, so do try to get it right the first time.
Maybe you have a blog already, on an established site like Medium, in which case you can translate it to WordPress. You can do the same with Blogger and WordPress.com domains too.
Ultimately, you need to pack up your old blog content, export it into a .zip file, and then import it into your WordPress.org domain.
Where Do I Find Photos For My Blog?
Assuming you aren’t taking the photos yourself, you can get photos for your blogs from royalty-free stock photo services. Check some of those sites out.
That brings us to the end of this guide. By now, you should know all you want to know about building a site with WordPress. It’s much easier than a lot of people think and doesn’t take much time at all.
There’s no time like the present, so why not get started right now? If you get lost somewhere along the way, you can always come back to our steps to get back on track.
No matter when you start or what your aspirations are, good luck with your blog!