Many congratulations for wanting to start a blog. If you are as committed as I think you are, you'll look back upon this day someday, and think to yourself you made one of the best decisions of your life.
I'm not kidding you.
Blogging has literally transformed my life. I went from being broke, practically homeless with a struggling business, to finding success with blogging three years later, so I know you're making a great decision to start your own blog.
In this post I will take you through the process of creating a WordPress blog or website from start to finish.
Don't worry, I will cover all the essentials. I'll tell you what pitfalls to avoid and everything else you need to know to make this the best start ever.
I'll also try and make this tutorial as simple as possible to follow, however if you get stuck, I'm here to help you, so don't hesitate to reach out and connect with me.
How difficult is it to start a blog with WordPress?
Setting up a WordPress blog is really not that difficult to do at all, I know you probably think I'm saying this because I've set up hundreds of them in my time.
But you'll see for yourself as you read through this guide. Once you've set up your first blog, you'll be able to do it again a second time without any guidance.
If you're completely new to the world of blogging and using WordPress, this guide is for you. I created it just for you.
Even if you've had experience before but need a refresher, you can still use this guide to get started.
Important note: Just to make you fully aware, this tutorial will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to start a hosted blog, using a web host provider and the WordPress open source software. (WordPress.org)
This guide will not cover starting a free blog with a free blogging platform such as WordPress.com or Blogger.com.
OK so here's what we're going to cover.
- Why start a blog and what it takes to build a successful blog (Yes this part matters).
- Choosing and purchasing a domain name.
- Choosing the right web host provider.
- Installing WordPress into your hosting account. (In this tutorial I'll be recommending and using SiteGround as the web host provider).
- Recommended plugins and settings, how to install a plugin.
- Free themes vs paid themes, how to install a theme.
Why Start a Blog and what it takes to succeed
If you don't want or feel the need to read this part, just skip straight to the 5-step setup guide. However if you're new to the world of blogging, I urge you to read this part before you do anything else.
I'm sure you already know why you want to start blogging, but let's try and clarify things a little bit better, because it's so critical from the very first step, that you know why you really want to start blogging,
Knowing "why" will help you to define the purpose of your blog, and of course keep you on the path to finding success with your blog.
Everyone has big aspirations when it comes to starting a blog.
Some will be starting a blog to make some extra money online.
Some will be setting goals and long term objectives with their blogs.
Some will be starting a blog simply for the fun of it.
And some folks will be starting a blog to help them connect with other like minded people.
Starting a blog for the first time is exciting, and what ever your aim is, you will find success if you really put your heart and soul into knowing "why" you want to do this.
There is something else I need to tell you, and you're probably not going to like this one...
YOU WILL FAIL.
Yes you read that right. You will probably fail at blogging to some degree, and that should be expected.
Almost all of the top bloggers I've collaborated with over the years, have failed at some stage in their blogging career.
I have proudly failed at blogging. In fact I spent three years building a blog that failed, only to start all over from scratch.
Embrace success by all means, but be very prepared to fail, especially if you're completely new to this.
Fortunately though, if you're subscribed and read Magnet4Blogging regularly, your chances of failing should be pretty slim. (No pressure on me then to ensure that I deliver nothing but awesome content huh?).
I've made the mistakes, I've written about them on my blog, so that hopefully you can avoid them yourself.
The long road to success...
Creating a blog is the very first step I know. But it's also the easiest step.
The road to blogging success will be a long one, and if you're determined and driven enough to want to succeed as I think you are, then you will succeed.
What ever your goal might be for starting a blog and doing blogging, just remember that it's going to take a lot of hard work upfront first, and time as well, before you can reach your ultimate goal.
I've been blogging for over 6 years now, and I'm still trying to reach my ultimate goal, but that's cool, because I'm in no rush, and I'm having so much fun with blogging.
Right, let's get started with getting your WordPress blog up and running.
Five Steps To Setting Up A WordPress Blog
Step #1 - Choosing a Domain Name
So the first step of successfully setting up a WordPress blog is choosing a domain name.
Remember this tutorial post assumes that you're completely new to all of this, so let's first look at what a domain name actually is.
A domain name is simply the address to where you blog will live. For instance the domain name for this blog Magnet 4 Blogging is www.magnet4blogging.net.
When somebody wants to access your blog, they'll simply go to the 'www.yourdomainname.com'. Or they will click on a link to your domain name perhaps from another website, or from the search engine search result pages. Or from a social media link.
So how do you choose the right domain name for your blog?
There is no definitive answer to that question in my opinion, choosing a domain name is a little bit like choosing a name for your pet goldfish, it can literally be 'what ever you want it to be'.
That being said, here are some tips and a few guidelines to help you find the perfect domain name for your blog.
- Choose a domain name that is the same name as your website. Here's an example of this:
If you want your blog to be called Gina's Singing Tips, then you would choose the domain name ginasingingtips.com.
This might sound like pretty logical and obvious advice, but you'd be surprised at how many people make the silly mistake of naming their blog something completely different, to what their domain name actually is.
Choosing a domain name that is the same name as your blog allows you to build your brand and identity around that domain name, and it also makes it way easier for your users to find you online.
- Choose something 'unique and memorable'. By this I mean choose a domain name that will stick out in people's minds, something that will stand out in the crowd. At the same time choose one that is easy for your users to remember. For example something like 'zigsurfblog' or 'montysbmxblog'.
- Avoid hyphens in your domain name. This tends to make your domain name look cluttered and cheap in my opinion. Also folks online are so used to typing domain names without the use of hyphens, so beware of that, you rarely see a hyphen in a domain name.
- Use a top level domain extension. So a top level domain extension would be a .net or definitely .com if possible. Unless you are starting a localised or non profit blog of course, then something like .org might be ok.
Where to purchase your domain name?
You can purchase a domain name from any reputable online provider such as Godaddy.com or 123-reg.co.uk, however since you're setting up a WordPress blog for the first time, the simplest way to purchase a domain name is with your web host provider.
I recommend using SiteGround to host your blog and your domain name. If you're signing up for a new account with them, you automatically get a FREE domain name registration for 1 year, worth $19.
Step #2 - Choosing The Right Web Host Provider
OK so by now you should have an idea what you'd like to have as your domain name, it's time to see if it's available and purchase it with some reliable and affordable web hosting.
What is Web Hosting and Why Do I Need It?
Again just to remind you that this post assumes that you're totally new to blogging and the world of web hosting.
Here's the best way to understand what web hosting is:
Imagine a house is built on a piece of land. The same for a website that's built on a piece of web space.
Here's a clearer breakdown of this:
Web hosting space = plot of land, your space on the web.
Web host service provider = real estate agency, a company that sells web hosting space.
Blog or website = property built on plot of land, your WordPress blog for example.
Blog theme or skin = Interior and exterior decor, a unique custom blog design. (More on this later on)
There are many different levels of services available when it comes to web hosting. Usually when you're starting out for the first time, you begin with a shared hosting plan.
As your blog grows with popularity and in size, you can consider upgrading to perhaps a VPS (Virtual Private Server), or a dedicated server. You don't need to worry about this just yet though.
So now you have some idea as to what web hosting is, the different tiers of service available and why you need it, let's look at what to look for when purchasing web hosting online.
There are essentially three things you need to keep in mind when purchasing web hosting: affordability, reliability and customer service.
There's a lot of choices when it comes to choosing the right web host, and over the last 5 years I've used many of them - HostGator, DreamHost, HostMonster, and I've been a BlueHost customer since 2010 before moving to SiteGround, which is the web host provider I use and recommend today.
Shared web hosting generally starts from around a few dollars each month, though I would advise that you don't just shoot for the cheapest solution and be done with it.
Remember reliability and customer service is important, regardless of who you choose to host your WordPress site with.
I consider paying between $6 to $9 each month to be reasonably affordable when starting out, and if you're planning on monetizing your blog later on, you'll soon be making back what you spend on web hosting each month.
Once again, I choose SiteGround for most of my web hosting requirements as they offer not only affordability and extreme reliability, but also great uptime, customer service, and technical support.
If you wish to set up your WordPress blog with SiteGround, you can visit the SiteGround website here.
Disclaimer: Should you choose to purchase hosting from SiteGround using my affiliate link above, I will earn a small commission for recommending you to them, but at no additional cost to you. If you do choose to use my affiliate link, I'd like to thank you in advance for your support. I appreciate you.
Here's what you need to do to get signed up with SiteGround, it's very easy.
1. Enter your Account information - Your email address, password of your choice.
2. Enter client information - Information about you such as name and address, company etc.
3. Enter payment information - Your payment details such as credit or debit card.
4. Confirm plan information - Select the plan you wish to buy, select data center, period to finalise the hosting price.
*Currently you can save up to 60% off the regular price of hosting for the first invoice. So for instance, for $47 you can have a brand new blog set up for 12 months on a StartUp plan!
One you're all done, hit Pay Now to open your SiteGround account.
So young Jedi blogger, regardless whether you decide to use SiteGround or not, or any other reliable web hosting you find, here's a run down of what to generally look for in a good web host provider -
- Affordability, but not the cheapest option!
- Reliability and Security (with 99% up-time guaranteed)
- Large GB hosting space
- Good technical and customer support (The big one)
- Domain hosting
- Easy installation of WordPress (One-Click Install, which most popular web hosts offer these days)
- Easy to use cPanel
Step #3 - Installing WordPress
OK so you have your domain name and you've purchased some web hosting, in this next step we're going to install WordPress.
This is probably the most crucial part of setting up a WordPress blog, but don't panic as this is also the easiest part of setting up your blog.
You've heard me mention the "one-click install" feature above right? Well this is a simple feature that most web host providers offer these days.
The "one-click" feature just means that you can install WordPress into your domain name via your hosting company, with just a single click of the mouse.
Back in the day you'd have to install WordPress via FTP, you can still do that today but it is far too technical to do as a newbie. Instead you're going to install WordPress with a single click of the mouse.
Let me show you how to install WordPress on a new domain name in SiteGround:
Feel free to check out my quick tutorial video below if you wish instead.
Step One: Log into your SiteGround host and go to accounts, then hit the Go To cPanel button. See image below.
Step Two: Scroll down and click on the WordPress icon under 'Auto-installers'. See image below.
Step Three: Click Install and then enter the details for the installation. You should always select the http://www. protocol where possible, and then select the domain name in which you would like to install WordPress.
Step Four: Continue with the settings by giving your blog a name, site description and admin username and password.
Keep these in a safe place by the way. You'll need them to log into your site after the installation is complete.
Choose an admin email address and language, then select the security plugins you'd like to have installed with your set up.
Step Five: When you're done, hit the install button and let the magic happen.
When the installation is complete, you should be able to log into your new WordPress site by going to http://www.yourblogname.com/wp-login.php
Step #4 - Recommended Plugins and Settings
OK so at this stage you've pretty much completed all the steps for setting up your WordPress blog, and you're almost ready to start blogging and writing your first post. So next, let's do a little configuration.
Let's start with installing a few essential plugins.
What are plugins?
Plugins are part of what makes WordPress so flexible and functional, you can pretty much create a WordPress website and make it do what ever you want it to do, simply by installing and activating a variety of functional plugins.
You can find plugins in the WordPress repository here.
The plugins that I'd recommend installing are as follows -
1. WordPress SEO by Yoast - This is by far the most powerful and free SEO plugin available for WordPress, with over 5 million downloads to date. I'm currently using this plugin on Magnet4Blogging.
If you're looking for something a little more advanced, I'd recommend trying SEOPressor Connect, however this is a third party premium service that will set you back $9 per month subscription based.
2.WP Super Cache - This plugin will generate a static HTML files from your WordPress blog. After a HTML file has been generated, your web server will actually serve that file instead of processing the heavier WordPress PHP scripts. This simply means your site will load faster, and less demand will be placed on your server. Your users will see cached versions of your pages.
3. Akismet - Akismet is automatically installed when you set up a WordPress blog for the first time. It is the industry's recommended anti web-spam plugin for WordPress, however to take full advantage of Akismet and it's spam filtering capabilities you'll need to signup for an API key which will cost you around $5 per month. Doing so means that you won't have to worry too much about comment spam.
5. Social Warfare - A powerful, yet lightweight and fast loading premium social sharing plugin to help your site visitors share your awesome content on social media sites.
So those are just some of the essential plugins to install when setting up a WordPress blog for the first time, there are many more others that you will come across along the way.
Check out my post on essential things to do after installing WordPress for more plugin and WordPress configuration tips.
How to Install a WordPress Plugin
Once again this tutorial assumes that you're totally new to WordPress and using plugins. The process of installing a plugin is the most simplest thing you can do with your WordPress blog.
Once you've logged into the back end of your WordPress blog (dashboard), simply scroll down and in the right sidebar you'll see plugins.
Hover your mouse over the plugins link and it will open up a drop-down menu with more options, simply select add new. See image below.
Once you're on the plugins page you can then search for a plugin you want to install, or upload one that you've downloaded from the WordPress repository. See image below.
Step #5 - Installing a Premium WordPress Theme
OK so the last part of setting up your WordPress blog is installing a theme of your choice.
What is a theme?
A theme, also known as a skin, is what makes a blog built on WordPress truly unique. WordPress on it's own is just a platform with no style, a theme is what will give your WordPress site a unique look and layout.
By default WordPress uses their own Twenty Twelve theme, along with a host of other available themes in the theme file. Most 'serious' bloggers that I know will often go for a custom designed theme or invest in a premium quality theme such as Genesis or Thrive.
The other option you have is to hire a web designer to help you create the look and layout you want for your WordPress blog, however this can be costly and if you're just starting out, you're probably better off going for a premium WordPress theme to begin with.
What theme do I personally recommend?
I recommend Thrive themes if you're looking for something simple to customise, and you're focused on conversion optimisation. I recommend Genesis if you're looking for a solid, robust, reliable, SEO optimised theme with minimal fuss.
Check out this post for a more thorough comparison of the two theme providers.
Installing Genesis Theme
If you so happen to choose Genesis, here's a quick video on how to install the theme into your new WordPress blog. The video is a good 6 years old now, but the process of installing this software hasn't changed a bit.
OK peeps so that's it, you're all set up ready to start blogging like a pro!
I will be updating this post as and when required, so be sure to bookmark this page for the future.
If you want to learn more about the tools I'm using to grow my blog, check out this page.