Starting a blog can be the beginning of an exciting journey. Whatever your passion – business, photography, wildlife, education – blogging about it helps you connect with individuals who share the same passions. Blogging has evolved from being a personal journal to an avenue for sharing knowledge, gaining exposure, building a professional network and developing passive income streams.
In this post, we’ll learn how to start a WordPress Blog. WordPress is an ideal platform for starting your blog, though it has grown much larger to accommodate big names like The Washington Post, Katy Perry and Sony. More than 27% of all websites are powered by WordPress.
There are many reasons why WordPress is a popular platform,
- It’s free, open source and has terrific community support.
- It’s easy to install and use WordPress, and does not require any knowledge of web development languages.
- The appearance and functionality of a WordPress website can be controlled by many quality themes and plugins, many of them free.
- WordPress is flexible and extensible. This can really help if you want to start small and scale up at a later date.
- It’s also secure, updated regularly and the customization options are innumerable.
Overview To Start a WordPress Blog
To give you an overview of what’s involved in setting up a blog – WordPress is the structure, a kind of scaffold upon which a website can be built. It is user- friendly software that you install on your server. Once installed, you can login as Administrator and add all kinds of content to it – text, media, pages and complete blog posts. You can install themes, which will govern the way your website appears and plugins which will enhance functionality.
The three major steps steps that go into starting your blog,
- Domain Name – Find a unique domain name for your blog.
- Hosting – Identify fast and reliable hosting and set up your domain on their server.
- Installing and Configuring WordPress – Install WordPress on your domain and configure it to suit your blog.
Setting up your blog is just the beginning, there’s a lot more you can do to make your site secure, fast and search engine friendly. You’ll need to secure your site from malware and hacks, and maintain backup versions.
No one likes a slow loading site, so it’s important to optimize your WordPress website for speed. You definitely want a big audience, so ensure that your site is search engine friendly. And most importantly, you should start posting useful and relevant content regularly.
In case you want to know what products or services we use at WP Mayor to manage our blog, you’ll find a complete list of resources in this post.
Now, let’s get started,
Step 1: Domain Name
- A domain name is your online identity, the name which people type in the address bar to find you on the internet. Verisign reports that there are more than 330 million domain names registered across all top level domain as at the end of Q2 ’16.
- Before you rush into blogging, think a bit. What is your area of interest that you’d like to share on your blog. Once you determine this niche, pick a name that in some way reflects this interest.
- If this is unavailable, try moving about letters, or using prefixes / suffixes till you find the right combination.
- Avoid hyphens and hard-to-spell names. Keep the name short, pronounceable and easy to remember.
- Phrases that are often used by people to search the internet are called keywords. If you can include keywords in your domain names, that’s great. But take care that the content in your blog matches the keyword. Otherwise, the bounce rate may be high, and this would dampen search engine rankings. Keyword based names are hard to acquire and can be pricey too.
- You could also pick names like your own name or a brand name like ‘Nike’ or ‘Yonex’.
- It’s good if the name is catchy and has the potential to grow into a brand.
- There are a number of tools like Panabee or Nameboy that help name a blog. Check if the chosen names are available and register them in your name. You can also use the services of registrars like Namecheap and NameSilo for registering your domain name.
- “.com” is the one to pick among Top Level Domains. Almost all visitors search the “.com” space, before checking the other TLDs like “.net”, “.org” or country specific domains like “.au” and “.in”.
If you change your domain name later, you may lose a good part of the traffic to your blog. Hence, you ought to be certain about the name you want for your blog.
Once you’ve picked the name for your blog and registered it, it’s time to find a suitable host.
Step 2: Hosting
For a first time blogger, a shared hosting option is good to start with. There are other options like completely managed hosting and Virtual Private Hosting. But the former is a bit costly and the latter is too technical for a blogger newbie. You can consider those options further down the line.
When it comes to hosting, it is not a one size fits all scenario. Each blog must assess the traffic it is currently receiving, the expected future increase in traffic, and the ability of the host to scale up for increasing traffic. Each blogger must pick a hosting service based on the level of support required, the capacity to handle some technical troubleshooting if required and the budget allocated for hosting.
Other features to look for in a hosting service are,
- A good hosting service often bundles automatic backups and migration of existing sites to their servers.
- Downtime and low speeds can turn away visitors from your site. It dents your SEO ranking, reputation and credibility, and ultimately your revenue. Hence fast servers and reliable hosting is necessary. Siteground, for example offers 99.99 percent uptime.
- Security – the host server must ensure basic security measures to keep your site safe from hackers and malware.
- Quality of support provided by the hosting service is a vital factor. Most standard services offer good support. SiteGround and Bluehost are popular choices with bloggers, and both offer one click WordPress install.
- For complete hosting solutions with highly optimized server configuration and management of your website, you can also opt for managed WordPress services. WP Engine is among the leading providers of managed WordPress hosting.
Step 3: Installing and Configuring WordPress
Bluehost is an officially recommended hosting service of WordPress.org. It’s easy to install WordPress on Bluehost servers with a single click. They offer 24×7 support and money-back guarantee, if you’re not happy with their services.
Creating Your Domain and Installing WordPress
1. Visit the Bluehost page that makes special offers to WordPress users. Click on Get Started Now.
2. Their Basic Package is good to start with. Select the Basic Plan.
3. Sign up with Bluehost to obtain a free domain name. If you’re undecided, you can furnish the domain name later. Or, if you have an existing domain name, you can use that too.
4. Now proceed to create an account and make payment. You’ll receive an email and be required to verify the information.
Move to the website section, click install WordPress.
6. You’ll need to select the domain to which you want to install WordPress from the drop down menu. To make your blog a part of a larger website, opt to host your blog in a sub directory. However, this will cause your blog URL to appear long.
Check the domain to verify that there are no previous installations.
7. Click on Advanced Options to fill in your Site name, Admin User Name and Password.
WordPress makes your email address the username by default and generates a secure and hard-to-remember password. Take care to fill the username and password you want and make note of it. You’ll need it to log into your WordPress install. Using the default username also makes WordPress open to hacks.
Once you’ve filled in the required details, you can start the WordPress install by clicking Install Now. A progress bar will keep you informed and a you’ll be notified when installation is complete.
If you prefer a video tutorial, you can take help from this video .
1. Call up the login page of your newly installed WordPress website by typing in your domain address – www.yourwebsitename.com/wp-admin in the address bar of your browser. Type in the username and password you created during the WordPress installation process.
2. You’ll find yourself on the Dashboard of your WordPress website. The WordPress menu appears to the left. You may not need to use all the items straightaway, but do take a look at them and become familiar.
3. Configure the WordPress install to reflect your blog name and tag line. You can do that at Settings > General. The name will help your readers and Google to find you and may indicate to them what your site is about. This title can help with organic ranking.
4. Next, change the permalinks to post settings. This is because the default URLs in WordPress are unwieldy and not search engine friendly. The other features you can adjust under General Settings include post formats, viewing options, image sizes in media library and comment settings.
1. The next thing that you want to do is to customize your website. And the way to go about it is installing and activating themes, and then tweaking them till you are happy with the results. Most themes created in recent years are highly customizable, and come with many pre-made templates for specific niches. If you like them, simply adopt them as such.
Go to Appearance > Themes. Click on Themes > Add New and install any theme you like.
And then Appearance > Customize to make changes in color, fonts, size or background. You can make the changes on the left and see the effect of the changes on the blog at the right. If you like the changes you’ve made, you can save them.
Many free themes are available at WordPress.org. You can also get free and premium themes from theme shops like Tesla themes, Elegant Themes, StudioPress or from ThemeForest which is marketplace you should get acquainted with.
2. The next option under Appearance is widgets. Widgets are small strings of code that can create functional areas in your sidebar, header or footer. They are useful to a visitor. Widgets commonly used by blogs are widgets for recent posts, search bar or archives.
5. The next item is Menu. This is an important head as it helps users navigate within your website. Menus can be positioned at the top, bottom or either side of the screen, but this depends on the options your theme provides.
A recent trend is to have the menu off page, especially when the page sports a full screen hero image. Clicking on an icon will cause the menu to slide onto the screen. A menu should be structured to be intuitive and should allow the reader to understand what the blog contain in one glance.
6. The background sets the tone of your blog. Blog posts should probably retain a lot of white space or plain colored space for better readability, but the same is not true for the other pages.
7. The Header Option allows you to insert a header, add an image to it and customize it.
8. The Editor is where you can add code to change the appearance or add functions to your blog. Developers can make full use of this, and non developers can get used to adding short code snippets to manage their blogs.
9. Add plugins to enhance functionality to your blog. Some functions that are important for all blogs are backup, security, caching and SEO. For your blog to appear in many languages, you can install multilingual plugins.
10. Add pages like About and Contact. Also, add categories and tags to your post and pages.
11. Create your profile by using the Edit My Profile option in the top right corner of your blog. Use Gravatar profiles for better online visibility.
It’s highly likely that you should have a working blog by following the steps in this tutorial. Go ahead and fill the pages with top class content and get started on a satisfying journey.