How to start a WordPress blog step-by-step.
How to start a WordPress blog is a common question by those wanting to make a place for themselves on the internet. WordPress is excellent for anyone wanting to start a website or blog and have no previous experience in web design. There are a few technical aspects to get set up however, they are easily done with a little guidance. With some practice, WordPress is very enjoyable to use and easy to become skilled enough to make visitor friendly websites.
First Steps to Start a WordPress Blog
Registering your domain name.
A domain name is what people type in to get to your website and is your address on the internet. For instance Google’s web address is google.com.
Next you’ll need hosting for your website. It’s your site’s house on the internet and every website needs web hosting.
The next task is installing WordPress and plugins to help functionality. Don’t be itimidated by installing any of these because it really is easy.
Plugins are little apps for wordpress that let you add new features for your site. Things like contact forms, photo galleries, security, analytics and newsletter signup forms among many others.
Domains and Hosting
People will tell you to go to the hosting company you sign up with to get your domain name. In my opinion that could be a mistake that you might regret later.
If something happens like your site gets hacked, the hosting company can suspend your account. Therefore, you have no access and you cannot move your domain to another host.
All the time, energy and income could be lost, especially if you were getting lots of traffic and making money from that site. Play it safe, protect your assets and get your domain somewhere else like namesilo.com.
Choose the domain name you want and do a search for it at namesilo.com.
Typically short names, preferably with a keyword relevant dot com (.com) extension will work best. If the .com extension is not available, a .net or .org are good alternatives.
To get set up with hosting, head over to hostgator.com and from here you need to click on web hosting.
There is a choice of 3 plans here.
The business plan is for established businesses and they get a few more benefits needed for business but not necessarily for a blog.
The hatchling plan is really good for beginners but you are limited to only one domain.
I recommend the baby plan because it allows for unlimited domains. If you have an idea for a second or multiple sites then you’re covered.
After choosing your plan start the checkout process.
Enter your chosen a domain that you’ve already purchased at namesilo.com.
In the billing section, domain privacy is up to you but costs extra money. Make sure that you have the baby package and from the billing cycle you can choose how long you want to purchase.
Fill out your username and pin information. This is what you’ll use to access your account and then enter your billing information.
Under additional services uncheck all the boxes. Things like backup or email you can actually get from within your website. Agree to the terms of service here and click checkout now.
You’ll get an email next that will give you all the information that you just entered. Keep that handy for your records!
There is one more step to do before you can start customizing your website.
You need to point Hostgator’s nameservers at your registered domain.
Find out the nameservers in the email that Hostgaotor sent you with your details. If for some reason they did not include them the nameservers will be in the DNS section of hosting. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, call Hostgator. Their customer service is great and will help you out.
Nameservers, cPanel and WordPress
Once you have the nameservers, go back to namesilo.com, login and choose your domain in your account and change the nameservers.
There will be three listed as it sits at namesilo. Delete all three and enter the two nameservers from Hostgator.
Typically you’ll have to wait about an hour but can take up to 24 hours before the changes take effect.
Once the nameserver changes have taken effect, you’ll want to click on the link in the email that Hostgator sent and it will take you to the login to work on your website.
Most web host companies use something called the cpanel and it’s like a dashboard that shows you everything that you can do for inside the website at the server level.
Here is what the cPanel will look like:
Once you login you’re now in your cPanel dashboard area for your hosting. All the way down to the bottom we’re looking for the quick install area and click on WordPress to install it for free.
*The quick install section is not shown in above image.
When filling out the form to install WordPress we’re gonna leave the first box blank, that’s where you want to install WordPress. It will make a default directory.
Next, fill out the admin email, the blog title, the admin username and your contact information.
When you’re done just click install WordPress and it’s going to install WordPress for you. When it’s done you get a notification that the installation is complete.
If you click on view your credentials, you get all the information you need to login to your website so you can start customizing it.
Once again, keep this information handy so that you can access it whenever you need to.
What we’ve done so far.
So far to start a WordPress blog, you’ve registered a domain, set up hosting and installed WordPress.
That’s all the technical stuff that has to get done for each website and now that that’s done you can move on to the fun stuff.
Setting up your website, designing it and making it your own.
Now that you’ve installed WordPress, go to your website and see what it looks like right now.
Open a new browser and type in the domain name you chose to see it. It’s a little bare but that’s okay because your next task is finding a theme.
In WordPress, a theme is a pre-made design that a designer or developer created so you don’t have to know the code to get a certain look on your site. Instead, you just use the theme and then you can further customize it and make it completely your own.
For customizing, you need to go to your web site dashboard.
To go to the back end (dashboard) of your website just type in your web address in the browser and then add /wp-admin/ at the end.
This will take you to the login screen where you’ll put in your username and password that was saved earlier.
You can also click remember me so you don’t have to do this every time.
Now that you’re logged in, this is the the dashboard area. You can get a quick glance of how your site is doing and can see things like your posts, comments and pages. Also some latest wordpress news is here and this area will look different depending on what plugins or themes that you have installed.
On the left hand side are all the areas that you use to customize your site. We’ll cover most of these later but for now go over to the appearance section specifically the themes section.
Under thems you will find all of the themes that you currently have on this site. You can switch to any of these themes by clicking activate and it will change the site’s theme immediately.
If you don’t want to use any of the themes that are already installed, click on the add new button and search for a new theme.
There are thousands of themes to choose from. All of the themes are created by a designer or developer from all over the world and they’re reviewed and approved by wordpress.
You can find the latest ones that have been uploaded and save your favorites or use a feature filter.
So you can click on the feature filter area and check off some of the features that you know you want for your site. Possibly filter by the type of site that you want such as a blog or maybe an e-commerce site.
As you scroll through and look at them you can hover over a theme image and you can see the details and preview to see what it might look on your site.
When you do that it’s not actually activating it is just giving you a preview of what it will look like.
Take a few minutes and look through all of these themes and pick one that you might want for your site. Don’t get hung up or get overwhelmed when choosing the theme.
Once you find one, click install and then activate it. Don’t worry if you don’t like it, it’s easy to change back or to another theme.
Now to customize the theme go back into our dashboard area and go to the customize area.
This area is dependent on which theme you chose. Any changes that you make here you’ll see them in real time. The changes won’t actually go live on your website until clicking Save and publish. There’s a little bit of testing the waters before you make any changes so just start from the top and start making the changes to the site.
For site identity ( title ), write what you want to name your site and do a tagline.
Eventually you will want to have a logo or an image that you want to use that is 512 pixels tall by 512 wide. You can make one yourself for free at Canva.com or outsource from a professional at a place called Fiverr for $6.
When you start a WordPress blog, outsourcing can help immensely with aspects of website building that is very technical.
Now you’re going to go to colors and pick a color scheme. Play with any of the colors until you hit one that you like and if you’ve gone too far with your colors and you just want to start from scratch you can click on the default color any time. It’ll will take you back to what it was and you can start again.
As a side note if you need some inspiration what kind of color combinations to use, search for colored.adobe.com. Look through the Explorer area and see which colors or color combinations you like and then you can use them for your site. Click on the edit copy to adjust or if you like them directly then this is the code that you want to copy. Go back into your dashboard area and paste that code there and now that’s the color that you can use.
The header background color you can see is the default color. You can add your own image here but you want to make sure that the header image size is 1600 x 400 pixels.
Pages and Posts
You can either set up a page as your front page or you can continue to use your latest posts for the homepage depending on what your preferences are.
A static page would be your homepage where can say welcome or whatever you’re wanting to convey as your message or reason for starting your blog.
As a blog, your latest posts are usually used as the homepage but this is your website and can do as you please. As you develop more content this can be changed according to your preferences.
The post option means do you want to show the full post or a small snippet of the post and then they’ll have to click on read more. Click Save and publish once you have decided on the options.
Those changes will now become live and you can see that by going back to the site and clicking refresh all those changes are made.
The next thing is creating your first blog post.
By the end of this section you’ll know how to create blog posts for your site that will include adding text, formatting that text, adding images, embedding video, adding links to your site, and more.
In the dashboard, look for Posts and add new. This is the area where you will work the majority of your time on your site as you add your own content.
To start a WordPress blog, the articles you want to create should have a good blog post title. This is a catchy title that tells the reader what this blog post is about.
By default you use a Visual editor where you can type like your google docs or a Microsoft Word document. So with this you can just add your content and format it as you need .
You can change the heading to be larger,create bullet items, do a blockquote that will look like a quote that somebody said or make links to another area or website.
To make a link, you can highlight the text that you want to use. Next, at the top of the editor where your formatting options are look for the piece of chain symbol. Enter the web address here, and click open a new tab in the options. That means that the page that people are reading will still stay on your page and it will open up the link in a new tab. It’s a good way to keep your users on your site without them losing their place.
Along with the text you’ll need to add some images. Images are kept in the media library and you can add more by uploading from your computer. Click add media and from here you can either drag a file or you can select file and navigate to your image. WordPress will bring it into the media library.
You will want to give the image a good title and you always add the alternative text which tells what the image is about. You can also make it linked to a custom URL or link to itself that means it will open in a new window. When you import an image, WordPress will create different dimensions for the different areas. Once it’s inserted you’re gonna still do a little bit of adjusting as you can align it left, right or centered. It depends on how you want the flow of the post to go.
If you want to add a video to your posts you can go to YouTube and find one you want to add. Under the video in the Share tab you will be needing the Embed code. Copy the code and go back to your post.
At the top right of your editor you will see the Visual tab and Text tab. Click the text tab and this turns into a HTML editor. Don’t panic, all you need to do is paste the code into your post. Click back to Visual and type some more.
So those are the main items that you’ll use when creating your blog post. The final thing you want to do is either publish it immediately or if you’re doing multiple blog posts at once you can schedule them for a future date.
Now you’ve set up your first blog Post, it’s time to set up some pages.
Go back to your dashboard, look for the Pages area and click add new.
The first page could be an About page and is usually all the information that will make somebody want to read your site. Write your About page then publish. The next page you’re going to create is a Contact Us page and one way to do you this is installing a plug-in to add some features. Plugins are like WordPress apps and they help add functionality to your site.
In the dashboard go into plugins and add new just like with themes. These are all the plugins that are coming from the WordPress plugin repository. The plugin that you can use is called WPForms lite. Install and activate it.
This particular plug-in allows you to create a contact form. After activation, you will see the dashboard for the contact form.
Name it Contact Us and use a template that they have called simple contact form. It does most of the work for you. You can choose if you want to have the first or last name, email and area to comment or send you a message. Click Save and you can either click embed here, or create your page and add it from the Contact Us page.
Another option if you’re not interested in collecting emails then just write on the page as you would a post. Give your contact info such as social media profiles, etc.
When leaving your email address on your page write as follows: yourname at gmail.com. Instead of using the @ symbol write at. This is more secure as bots that scrape info from websites will not pick it up because it’s not in proper form.
Other Recommended Plugins
There are also other plugins that I would recommend installing.
These would include:
- Akismet- Anti spam plugin
- Securi Security or Wordfence
- W3 Total Cache- speeds up loading time of your site
- Wp Smush – image optimizer
- Yoast SEO- excellent SEO plugin
As you become more familiar with using your website and have an idea of the functionality, you can add more or try different plugins.
Alright, now that we’ve got our pages installed and we have our first blog post we need a menu. Menus give readers an easy way to navigate through your site.
To add a menu, go back to our dashboard and under Appearance you’ll see Menus. Name the menu and click to create.
By default it’s pulling over all of your pages. Remove any page not needed by clicking on the drop-down arrow and then remove. The homepage is a custom link and when somebody clicks it just takes them back to the homepage. People are used to that so we want to keep that.
We have our About Us page and our Contact Us page and from here you can move these around by left click and dragging them. When you indent a page in the menu, it will become a subpage.
If you have a category that’s a very popular you can add it here or you can also add one of your most popular posts to the menu.
When you start a WordPress blog you will not have many items in the menus however, it won’t take long if you are posting regularly.
We then need to assign the menu a location. Depending on what theme you have you will have different menu locations. Choose a location and save your changes.
Now when you refresh and go to the home page you see the menu. Any menu item that was indented now becomes a drop-down for the menu item.
The next area that will require attention is called the sidebar area.
Widgets are used to populate the sidebar and you can easily showcase parts of your website like recent posts, popular categories and a search feature there.
Go back to the dashboard and under Appearance, find Widgets. Here you see the ones that are already on the sidebar.
You’ve got the search, recent posts and there is also categories. On the left are all of the widgets that you can use and insert into the website. When you add more plugins like WPForms lite you see a widget available. There is also a text widget and will allow you to type any text into the sidebar. You can also use HTML and CSS in the text widget.
To delete any widgets, use the drop-down and click delete. If you want to add a widget, drag from left side and insert into the sections that will accept a widget.
Widgets can be inserted in headers, sidebars and footer areas. You may have to play with the location a little until you like where it sits on your site.
Make sure that you keep all of your plugins and your themes up-to-date as it helps keep your site more secure. A plugin or theme update could also include added features to that plugin or theme.
How to adjust your web address to make sure that the search engines like Google can see your site.
In your dashboard go down to Settings, Permalinks, and from here setup to use the post name. That will shorten up the web address and make it more functional.
The next setting that we want to make sure that we have is under Reading. Scroll all the way down until you find the search engine visibility and make sure that this is not checked.
You want the search engines like Google or Bing or Yahoo to be able to find your site. Always remember to Save your changes.
You just learned how to start a WordPress blog. It covered all the steps to get you up and running quickly.
First you registered your domain name and then you set up hosting for your website.
You installed WordPress and then designed and customized your website using a WordPress theme.
You created your first blog post and added pages, plugins, menus, widgets, you even made some settings changes to make the site completely yours.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on How to Start a WordPress blog.