In this post, I 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 you for 2020.
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 well because blogging has literally been a huge part of the transformation of my life.
Before I discovered blogging and online business, I was a lost and broken soul. I was practically homeless. Sometimes I would sleep under my mother’s staircase on a beat-up mattress. Sometimes I would sleep in my battered old car, and all of my clothes were stored in a black bin bag.
So yeah, cliche or no cliche, blogging helped to 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 meeting the love of my life. My wife who pushed me relentlessly to do something awesome with my life.
Here I am ten years later, still blogging and loving it. It’s never easy. In fact, it was and still is f**king hard work and I won’t deny that. But the love I have for blogging is unconditional. I want you to have the same drive and passion to want to succeed.
So, getting back to this post, I will take you through the process of 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 try and cover all the essentials you need to know in this post.
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. And I’ll also talk about which plugins to install and why. Along with recommending various tools for growing your blogging 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.
In all honesty? It’s not that hard at all, but if you’re starting from complete scratch it certainly can be daunting at first.
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 designed for blogging, it is an essential foundation framework in which to build and grow any kind of online business.
For beginners, it can be a steep learning curve at first. But with enough time, you’ll soon become a WordPress wizard.
Important note: 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.com or Blogger.com.
OK, so here’s what we’re going to cover.
If you don’t feel as if this part is important to you, just skip straight to the setup process using the nav-links above. 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 as to why you want to start blogging, however, let’s try and add some fresh perspective to that ‘why’.
Everything you do in life is for a reason. You just don’t do things for the sake of it, or at least you 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, because you love your job and you feel fulfilled and satisfied. (hopefully).
Why do you go to the gym? Because it’s important to keep fit and active.
Why are you starting a blogging business? Because you want to write about your passion. You want the freedom to do something for yourself, perhaps have more time to spend with your family and friends by earning a living from your blog someday.
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, to keep you on the straight and narrow path to building a successful blogging business.
Everyone has big dreams, ambitions, and aspirations when it comes to starting a blog:
Some will be starting a blog to earn a little extra income online. Some will be starting a blog to build a community around a cause or belief. Some will be setting goals with their blogs, perhaps to help them improve their communication skills, writing skills, knowledge, 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 what purpose, you will find the success you really want if you put your full focus in understanding “why” the f**k you really want to do this. I’m getting as serious as I can with you here.
When I started my first blog back in August of 2010, it was because I wanted to generate some extra income online to help fund my struggling art business.
As things turned out, my blogging goals and ambitions changed over time, and so my ‘why‘ also changed, and that’s OK.
You might find that your ‘why’ might completely evolve in a few year’s time, 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 with no reason other than to become rich, you will fail. 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.
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.
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 ten years, and whilst I have found success, like earning an income from my blog and having the freedom to enjoy life and spend more time with my family, I still have a long way to go.
And 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 onwards.
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 vital ingredient that’s required is prioritizing. If you want to succeed too, you have to be prepared to:
Right, now that’ you’re set, you can begin creating your first blog.
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
So, how do you choose the right domain name for your blog?
Let me give you some quick tips:
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 outside of your host. It just means that if you want to migrate your blog to another host, later on, you don’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. In this instance, I use and recommend SiteGround for both domain names and web hosting (Affiliate link).
If you’re signing up for a brand new shared hosting account with SiteGround, bear in mind you will have to pay a fee for your domain name. Unlike other hosts like 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 setup your hosting account.
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 webspace, which is provided by a web host provider/company.
To make things even simpler, when signing up for a new hosting account with a web host provider, all you really need is the very basics.
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 substantial 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 money.
Click here to check out the latest SiteGround discount offers.
OK, so 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
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.
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 period of hosting 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.
In addition, you might find this post useful, as it provides additional information and advice on what to look for in a good host provider for your blog.
Regardless of 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 –
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 –
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next, select the option to Start New Website and also select the WordPress Application option. See the image below.
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 have them accessible from a safe place. You’ll need them to log into your WP blog admin area after the installation is complete.
See the images below.
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.
When the installation process has finished, you will be notified and your should see a page like this.
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 it 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, then just go ahead. But before you do, I want to recommend a few essential plugins to install as well as some settings you should have on your blog.
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 an online store then there’s a plugin for that called WooCommerce. Or, if you need to create an online course, then there’s a great plugin for that called LearnDash (Affiliate link).
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 for 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 to 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 but 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 plugin 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 new. See image below.
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 image below.
OK, so the last part of setting up your WordPress blog is installing a theme of your choice.
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.
I recommend this theme framework for one reason:
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.
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 going to Appearance > Customize.
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 do check out my resource page. If you’re new to my blog and found this post useful, feel free to 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!.