The Complete Beginners Guide To Starting A Blog With WordPress In 2021

Last Updated on January 13, 2021 by Fabrizio Van Marciano

This post will carefully guide you through the necessary steps for creating a WordPress blog from complete scratch. This is a beginner's guide, and I have fully revised and updated it for 2021.

First of all, I want to congratulate you for wanting to start your own blog.

If you are as determined and as committed as I think you are, then sometime in the 'not too distant future,' you'll look back upon this day and thank yourself for taking this potentially life-changing step.

I'm not joking around with you either; I know this because blogging has literally been a huge part of my life's transformation.

Before I discovered blogging and online business, I was a lost and broken soul.

I was borderline homeless. Often living in my car, and sometimes cooped up sleeping under my mother's staircase of her house on a camping mattress. All of my clothes were stored in a black refuse sack.

So yeah, you can call it a cliche or whatever you want; for me, blogging helped define me and pull me out of the rut I was in.

But, I also have to say that none of this would have been possible without the love and support of my lovely wife, Samantha. From the moment I met her, she's been pushing me to reach my dreams and goals.

So, here I am, ten years later, still blogging and loving it. It gets easier with more time and practice. When you're starting out, there is a learning curve to deal with, admittedly.

OK, that's enough of me trying to inspire you. Getting back to this post, I want to take you through creating a WordPress blog from start to finish.

Don't worry about a thing; never doubt yourself or think that you can't do this. I will cover all the essentials you need to know in this post and make it easy to follow.

I'll advise you on what pitfalls to avoid. I'll recommend some web hosting, a theme to install and use in your WordPress blog. I'll also talk about which plugins to install and why and recommend various tools for growing your blog as a business.

Everything else in between, I'll cover as well so that you can make the best possible start to your blogging venture.

Just to remind you, once again, this guide is aimed at complete beginners. If that's you, then read on.

Table of Content

  1. How difficult is it to start a blog with WordPress?
  2. Why start a blog, and what does it take to succeed?
  3. Step One: Select And Purchase A Domain Name
  4. Step Two: Choose The Right Hosting Provider
  5. Step Three: Installing WordPress With Your Domain Name
  6. Step Four: Recommended Plugins And Settings

How difficult is it to start a blog with WordPress?

In all honesty? It's not that hard at all, but it certainly can feel daunting at first if you're starting out the first time.

Once you've set up your first blog, you'll be able to do it again a second time around without any guidance.

WordPress is a powerful open-source website creation tool. It isn't just reserved for blogging; it is an essential foundation framework for building any kind of website or business.

For beginners, it can be a steep learning curve at first. But with enough time and experience, you'll soon become a WordPress wizard.

Important information: For the purpose of clarity, this free 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 discuss starting a blog with a free blogging platform such as WordPress.comBlogger.com, or any other website creation tool

OK, so here's what we're going to cover.

  • Why? We'll start with why you are starting a blog, plus what it really takes to build a successful blog. (Yes, this part is a critical step of setting up your blog).
  • Choosing and purchasing a domain name.
  • Choosing the right web hosting provider.
  • Installing WordPress into your domain via your web host account. (For this part, we're going to be using SiteGround (Aff link) as our choice of web host providers).
  • Installing recommended plugins and configuring WordPress.
  • Installing a theme.
  • Recommended resources.

Why start a blog, and what does it take to succeed?

If you don't feel like this part is important to you, just skip straight to step one using the above nav-links. However, if you're new to the world of blogging and online business, I really urge you to read this part first.

I'm sure you're well aware of why you want to start blogging; however, let's try and add some fresh perspective to that 'why.'

Everything we do in life is for a reason. We just don't do things for the sake of it, or at least we shouldn't.

Why do you go to work every day? Because you need to earn a living to pay the bills and live a reasonably comfortable life. But more importantly, it is because you love your job, and you feel fulfilled and satisfied.

Why do you go to the gym? Because it's important to keep fit and active.

Why are you starting a blog? Because you want to write about your passion. You want the freedom to do something for yourself, perhaps earn a part-time or full-time income from your blog, eventually, so that you can have more time to spend doing the things you love.

Knowing "why you want to start a blog," like, really know why will unconditionally help you to define the purpose of your blog, and of course, keep you on the straight and narrow path of building a successful blogging business.

How To Start A WordPress Blog From Scratch
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Everyone has great ambitions and dreams when it comes to starting a blog or online business:

Some folks start blogging to try and earn a little extra income online. Some start a blog to build a community around a cause or belief. Some will be setting goals with their blogs, perhaps to help improve communication and writing skills, etc. Some will be starting a blog to help market their business online. And some will be starting a blog just for the fun of it.

Starting a blog for the first time is exciting, and regardless of your purpose, you will find the success you really want if you put all your focus on understanding "why" you really want to do this. Seriously!

If you've lost complete interest with your blog six months down the line, just remember reading this part! It will be because you didn't understand why you started your blog!

When I started my first blog back in the Summer of 2010, I wanted to generate some additional income online to help fund my art business (eCommerce).

As time went on, my blogging goals and ambitions changed, and so my 'why' also changed, and that's 100% OK.

You might find that your 'why' might completely evolve in a few years, but when you find it, you've got to lock onto it and work solidly towards that 'why,' no matter what.

If you're getting into blogging for no reason other than to 'become rich', you will fail!

Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. In my opinion, it never was! Sorry to disappoint you, but the statistics speak for themselves. You need to have a real valid reason why you are starting a blog.

Money should never be your motive for starting a blog. Passion should be.

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The long road to blogging success...

The process of creating a blog is just the first step. It's also the easiest step.

Anyone can start a blog with a domain name and some web hosting. However, it will take much more than just simply 'putting up a blog' to become successful at blogging.

The road to blogging success is a long, bumpy, and unpredictable one. It is not a smooth, 6-lane highway with all the pitfalls mapped out for you. Goodness, I wish it was.

There will be some tough decision making along the way. There will be ups and plenty of downs, but it's important to enjoy the entire process from the day you start your blogging journey.

Don't set high expectations

If you're starting a blog with high expectations in mind, that's kind of OK. But please do not set them so high that you can't see the ground. If you get what I'm trying to say.

You're not going to become successful overnight, period.

I've been blogging for over ten years, and whilst I have found success, like building a community and earning an income from my blog. And having the freedom to enjoy life and spend more time with my family and friends, I still have a long way to go until I reach my ultimate goal.

And you know what? I'm OK with that because I love blogging. You have to love it too. You have to love the entire process of starting from rock bottom to building your blogging business upwards and outwards.

You will experience many months of not earning a cent from your blog. This has to come before you can start earning, and as long as you're putting in the hard work now, you have nothing to worry about.

The other necessary ingredient that's required is prioritizing. If you want to succeed too, you have to be prepared to:

  • Sacrifice some recreational activities, like playing computer games or Binge-watching Netflix, so that you can focus on building and growing your blog.
  • Committing yourself to learn new things and applying what you have learned.
  • Planning, setting goals to help you stay focused on reaching your goals in small steps. My Ultimate Pro Blog planner will help you become a more organized and productive blogger. It has over 70 printable templates, worksheets, and cheat sheets! Grab it and put it to good use.

Right, now that' you're set, you can begin creating your first blog. Let's go through the process.

Step #1 - Select and purchase a domain name

Your first step is selecting your domain name.

Remember that I'm assuming that you're completely new to the world of blogging and setting up a WordPress blog. So let's first look at what a domain name actually is.

A domain name is simply the address of your blog/website. For example, the domain name for my blog is www.magnet4blogging.net

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So, how do you choose the right domain name for your blog?

Let me give you some quick tips:

  • Choose a domain name that is the same as your blog's name. So, if your blog is called Seb's Surfing Journal, then your domain name should naturally be something like www.sebssurfingjournal.com.
  • Choose a domain name that is 'unique' and 'memorable'.
  • Avoid using hyphens in your domain name.
  • Avoid using your name, unless you want to build a personal brand with your blog then using your name is strongly recommended. If you plan to sell your blog sometime in the far distant future, do not use your own name.
  • Use a top-level domain name extension such as .com or .net though I would recommend .com above all else.

Where can you purchase a domain name?

This part is important, so pay attention carefully 🙂

You can purchase a domain name from any reputable online provider such as GoDaddy or 123-Reg.co.uk (Affiliate link).

Some bloggers recommend purchasing a domain name separate from your host. This is useful if you want to migrate your blog to another host later on. You won't have to migrate the domain name as well.

However, since you're setting up a WordPress blog for the first time, the easiest way to purchase a domain name is actually through your web host provider.

For this instance, I use and recommend SiteGround for both domain names and web hosting (Affiliate link).

Other hosting providers I also recommend are -

  1. Bluehost
  2. WPEngine (A little on the expensive side).
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If you're signing up for a brand new shared hosting account with SiteGround, bear in mind you will have to pay a separate fee for your domain name.

Unlike other hosts such as Bluehost (Affiliate link), for example, you can get a free domain name for the first year.

Next, we'll talk about web hosting and go through the necessary steps required to set up your hosting account.

If you've decided to NOT purchase your domain name separate from your hosting, read on.

Step #2 - Choose the right web host provider

OK, by now, you should have in your mind what you'd like to have as your domain name (blog name). It's now time to see if it's available and purchase it along with some reliable and secure web hosting.

What is web hosting and why do you need it?

Once again, just to remind you that this tutorial assumes that you're totally new to blogging and the world of web hosting.

Here's the best way to understand how web hosting works -

Imagine a house is built on a piece of land. You go through a real-estate agency to buy land for your house to be built on, right?

Well, it's the same 'kind-of' principle for a website or blog. A website needs some webspace, which is provided by a web host provider/company.

When signing up for a new hosting account with a web host provider, all you really need is the very basics to make things even simpler.

SiteGround offers three shared web hosting packages. For a fresh new blog, I would recommend the Startup plan (Affiliate link). You really don't need anything more than that.

As your blog grows, you might want to upgrade to a GrowBig or even a GoGeek account for additional resources and improved performance. You may even want to consider cloud hosting.

That being said, you will not need those additional resources to simply start your new blog, so don't waste your time and money.

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Click here to check out the latest SiteGround discount offers.

OK, here's a step-by-step guide on how to get signed up with SiteGround (Affiliate link) web hosting. If you don't wish to use SiteGround, check out this post for recommended alternative web hosts.

Once you have selected the plan that is right for you, you will be taken to the hosting signup page.

Step 1 check domain name availability - First, enter the domain name you wish to use to see if it is available. If it is, then you can celebrate. See below

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Step 2. Enter account information - Provide your email address and choose a secure password of your choice. Don't forget to confirm your password and keep it in a safe place. You will need these to login later on to install WordPress.

Step 3. Enter client information - Enter information about yourself such as your name and address, company, phone number, etc. See images below.

siteground signup 1
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siteground signup 2
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Step 4. Enter payment information - Add your payment details such as credit or debit card information. Check the box if your card details are the same as the address you used above. See the image above.

Step 5 - Select your plan - Select the plan you wish to purchase, select the data center, and the hosting period required to finalize the hosting price.

Once you're all done, hit Pay Now to open your SiteGround account.

You're halfway there already.

But, Fabrizio, I want to choose a different web host provider. However, I'm not sure which one!

That's totally cool, as I said at the start - If for any reason you don't want to use SiteGround, check out this post I created for alternative shared hosting providers.

You might also find this post useful, as it provides additional information and advice on what to look for in a good host provider for your blog.

Whether you decide to use SiteGround or something else entirely, the signup process will be more or less the same. Here's a rundown of what to generally look for in a good web host provider -

  • Affordabilitybut not the most critical factor! Using the cheapest host around is not always the best strategy.
  • Reliability and Security (with 99% up-time) Essential.
  • Good all-around reputation and credibility.
  • Large GB hosting space.
  • Technology.
  • Rock-solid tech support and helpful customer service (The big one).
  • Domain name hosting.
  • Easy installation of WordPress (One-Click Install, which most web host companies offer these days)
  • Easy to use cPanel (Control Panel, not always essential as many hosting companies are doing away with the old cPanel interface)

Step #3 - Install WordPress into your domain name

This is probably the most crucial step of setting up your WordPress blog, but don't panic, as this is also the easiest step.

More than likely, your host provider will provide a 1-click install feature.

This feature simply means that you can install WordPress into a domain name of your choice, via a hosting provider of your choice, with just a single click of the mouse.

Back in the good old days, you would have to install WordPress via FTP manually. This wasn't hard but it was very tedious.

You can still use FTP to install WordPress today, however, I would recommend using a 1-click install feature if you've never done it before.

So, let me show you how to install WordPress on a new domain name. Obviously, I'll be using SiteGround for this demonstration -

Start A WordPress Blog - Step One

Log into your SiteGround hosting account using your username and password you created during the account setup. Then from the homepage, click on the Websites tab at the top of the menu option. See the image below.

Setting Up A WordPress Blog
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At the top of this page, you will see a New Website tab in orange. Click on this to create a new website, although you are creating a blog. See the image below.

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Start A WordPress Blog - Step Two

OK, so next you need to click on one of the three options that you see.

Click on the New Domain option only if you DID NOT purchase a domain when you signed up to SiteGround. Or, if you don't have a domain hosted elsewhere that you'd like to use, like 123Reg.

If you already have an existing domain name, with SiteGround or with another provider, simply click on the Existing Domain option to go through the setup.

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For the sake of this tutorial, we'll go through the Existing Domain setup because I already showed you how to purchase a new domain at the start when signing up with SiteGround.

So, click on the Existing Domain button on the new website setup page to create your blog with the domain you already have. Then enter the domain name in the field. See the image below.

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Start A WordPress Blog: Step Three

Next, select the option to Start New Website and also select the WordPress Application option. See the image below.

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Enter your email address and create a password for your WordPress blog login page.

Keep these credentials unique from your web hosting username and password, and always be accessible from a safe place. You'll need them to log in to your WP blog admin area after the installation is complete.

See the images below.

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Start A WordPress Blog: Step Four

Under Add Extras, you will see the option to add SG Site Scanner. This is a feature that scans your blog daily for viruses and Malware. You don't need to take this out now; it is optional. You can always add it later. When you are done, just hit the Finish button.

start a wp blog 10
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When the installation process has finished, you will be notified and your should see a page like this.

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Now you have a few options. If your domain name is NOT hosted with SiteGround, for example, it's hosted elsewhere such as 123Reg, you will need to point your domain to the new host server. So copy the DNS credentials and paste them into your domain service provider panel where ever that is.

Otherwise, you can go straight ahead and click the Manage Site button to manage your blog and add any extra tools you want or to configure your blog.

If you would rather log into your blog to begin writing your first post, just go ahead. But before you do, I want to recommend a few essential plugins to install and some settings you should have on your blog.

Step #4 - Recommended plugins and settings

OK, so at this stage, you've pretty much completed all of the main steps for setting up your WordPress blog, and you're almost ready to start blogging and writing your first post.

Next, let's do a little WordPress blog configuration. We'll start by installing a few 'essential' plugins.

What are plugins?

Once again, I'm assuming that you are new to the world of WordPress plugins.

Plugins are part of what makes the WordPress open-source platform so flexible.

You can pretty much create a WordPress website for anything or for any type of business you want.

For example, if you need to set up an online store, you can install a plugin called WooCommerce. If you need to create an online course, then there's a great plugin for that called LearnDash (Affiliate link).

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Plugins can also be used to enhance the functionality of WordPress. You can find a wide range of functional plugins in the WordPress repository here. There are currently over 50,000 to choose from. I recommend using a combination of quality free plugins and premium plugins where possible.

The plugins that I'd recommend installing for a new blog are as follows -

1. RankMath SEO - Not the most popular SEO plugin out there, but I recently changed to this from using Yoast, and so far, I've been very impressed. RankMath SEO is lightweight, fast, and has some fantastic features that allow you to do advanced SEO and optimize multiple keywords.

2. WP Super Cache - Want to make your blog load super fast? This plugin will generate a static HTML file from your WordPress blog. After an 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. Google ReCaptcha plugin - This plugin is 100% free, and you can use it to help reduce comment and contact form spam as your blog begins to get popular.

4. Monster Insights for WordPress (Affiliate link) - A must-have plugin to help you install Google Analytics tracking code and track and monitor your blog's traffic growth. You can access a host of advanced features in the premium version too.

5. Social Snap (Affiliate link) - This is a powerful, lightweight, fast loading social sharing plugin that will help your site visitors share your awesome content on social media. I have linked to the premium plugin. However, there is a free version if you prefer to check it out.

6. WPForms Contact Forms (Affiliate link) - A fantastic, feature-loaded, and easily customizable contact form plugin for WordPress. You can literally create any kind of custom form for your blog with this plugin. Again, I've linked to the premium version; however, you can find the free version in the WordPress repository.

7. Thrive Leads (Affiliate link) - No new WordPress blog is complete without the best email list building plugin installed. For growing your blog audience, I recommend using Thrive Leads. I've been using TL myself for almost five years, and I have nothing but great things to say about it. You can check out my review of Thrive Leads here.

So, those are just a few of the essential plugins I would recommend you install when setting up a WordPress blog for the first time.

There are many more others that you will come across in the future, and you'll probably want to try some out. However, don't get too carried away installing too many plugins, as this can contribute to slowing down your blog and page loading time.

Check out this blog post on essential things to do after installing WordPress for more plugins and WordPress configuration tips.

How to install a WordPress plugin?

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 newSee the image below.

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Your dashboard will look a lot different from the image above, that's because the WP dashboard has changed over the years, but the navigation and process have not changed.

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 into your site. See the image below.

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Step #5 - Installing a WordPress theme

Okay, so the last part of setting up your WordPress blog is installing your chosen theme.

What is a theme?

You know the drill; if you're new to themes and WordPress templates, keep reading. If you're not, then skip this.

A theme is also known as a skin, and it is what makes each WordPress blog/website unique and different.

On its own, WordPress is just a content publishing/management platform. By default, your blog will have the Twenty Nineteen theme installed.

I want to recommend a few themes that are beginner friendly.

The first theme - If you're looking for a theme you don't need to hack to pieces to customize, I would recommend something like the Genesis Theme Framework (Affiliate link) by StudioPress.

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I recommend this theme framework for one reason:

  1. It's reliable, robust, and well-coded. And, child themes for Genesis are relatively easy to configure. Customizing can be a little challenging, especially if you are not familiar with code. But there is a ton of documentation and tutorials available online to you figure it all out.

You can check out my full review of the Genesis Framework platform here.

The second theme - The alternative theme I would highly recommend checking out is Thrive Theme Builder (Affiliate link). This is much more than a theme; it's 100% customizable in every sense because it allows you to build and customize every part of your blog without touching a single string of code.

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Check out my review of Thrive Theme Builder here.

How do you install a theme?

Installing a theme is as easy as installing a plugin. From your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Themes > Add New > Upload Theme and choose the theme you want to upload - Assuming the Zip File for the theme is on your computer somewhere after you have purchased it.

Once you've uploaded the theme, simply activate it and begin customizing it by navigating to Appearance > Customize.

It's a wrap!

So, that's it! You're all set up ready to start blogging like a true pro!

If you want to learn more about the tools I'm using to grow my blog and online businesses, please check out my resource page. If you're new to my blog and found this post useful, please subscribe for updates here.

I want to wish you the very best of luck on your new blogging venture.

Fabrizio Van Marciano.

Affiliate Disclaimer: As an affiliate of SiteGround, Bluehost, 123 Reg, StudioPress, Thrive Themes, WPForms, MonsterInsights, and SocialSnap - I earn from qualifying purchases. If you decide to purchase using any of the affiliate links in this blog post, I will get a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks in advance!.

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