The Complete Beginners Guide To Starting A Blog With WordPress In 2020

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In this post, I will carefully guide you through the necessary steps for creating a WordPress blog from complete scratch, for the first time. This guide has been fully updated for 2019 and 2020. Enjoy.

First of all, many congratulations 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 life-changing step.

I'm not kidding you, I know this because blogging has literally transformed my life.

I know that this might sound like such a cliche to you, but seriously, I went from being very broke, practically homeless (living under my mother's staircase, sleeping on a beat-up mattress with a bag of my old clothes), and with a struggling business - to finding success with blogging and online business five years later. (Now almost nine years later, at the time of updating this post in September of 2019).

It wasn't easy, it was f**king hard work, but I was driven to get out of the rut that I found myself in.

So, in this post, I will take you through the process of creating a WordPress blog from start to finish.

Don't worry about a thing, and never think that you can't do this. I will try and cover all the essentials you need to know about.

I'll advise you on what pitfalls to avoid. I'll recommend a theme to install and use in your WordPress blog, and I'll also talk about which plugins to install and why, along with various tools to grow your blogging business.

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

Just to remind you, once again, this guide is aimed at complete newbies (Beginners).

How difficult is it to start a blog with WordPress?

In all honesty? If you're starting from complete scratch it certainly can be daunting at first.

That being said, getting set up with a WordPress blog isn't that difficult to do. 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 around without any guidance.

WordPress is a powerful website creation tool. It is an essential foundation framework in which to build and grow your blogging business.

For newbies, it can be a steep learning curve at first, but with enough time spent using it, you'll soon become a WordPress wizard.

Important note: For clarity purposes, 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.

  • 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 as the web host provider).
  • Installing recommended plugins, and configuring WordPress.
  • Installing a theme.
  • Recommended resources.

Why start a blog and what it really takes to succeed

If you don't feel as if this part is important to you, just skip straight to the next part. However, if you're completely 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 clarity to that 'why'.

Everything we do in life is for a reason.

Why do you go to work every day? Because you love your job (hopefully), you need to earn a living to pay the bills and live a reasonably comfortable life.

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

Why are you starting a business? Because you want the freedom to work for yourself so that you have more time to spend with your family.

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.

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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. That's perfectly fine.

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 them grow 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 for 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.

When I started my first blog back in 2010, it was because I wanted to generate some extra income online. I already had an e-commerce business that I was trying to grow, with some struggle. I imagined that I could use the extra income to help me grow my e-commerce website.

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 change in a few years time.

If you get 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.

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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 in 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 blogging.

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 ten years almost, and whilst I have found a small amount of success, like earning a part-time income from my blog, it is not the success that some A-list bloggers portrait online, and I'm OK with that because I love blogging. You have to love it too. You have to love the entire process of building your blogging business and go through months of not earning a penny.

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 blogging goals in small steps. My Ultimate Pro Blog planner will help you become a more organized blogger, with over 30 printable templates and worksheets.

Right, now that' you're set, you can begin creating your first blog.

Step #1 - Select and purchase a domain name

Your first step is selecting your domain name.

Remember, in this tutorial, 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.
  • 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.
  • Use a top-level (popular )domain name extension such as .com or .net

Where can you purchase a domain name?

You can purchase a domain name from any reputable online provider such as GoDaddy or 123-Reg.co.uk, 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 domain names and web hosting.

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If you're signing up for a brand new account with SiteGround, bear in mind you will have to pay a fee for your domain name. Unlike other hosts like Bluehost where you can get a free domain name for the first year.

Next, we'll talk about web hosting.

Step #2 - Choose the right web host provider

OK, so, by now you should have in your mind what you'd like to have as your domain 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 principle for a website. A website needs webspace, which is provided by a web host provider/company.

To keep things, even more, simple, 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. 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 will not need those additional resources to simply start your blog, so don't waste your money.

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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 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 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. See below

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

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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 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.

I want to choose a different web host provider, but 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 hosts.

In addition, you might find this post useful, as it provides additional information and advice on choosing the right web host provider for your blog/website project.

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 out for in a good web host provider -

  • Affordability, but not the most critical factor! Using the cheapest host around is not always the best strategy.
  • Reliability and Security (with 99% up-time) Very important.
  • 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)

Step #3 - Install WordPress into your domain name

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

More than likely, your host provider will offer 1-click install.

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, and for a newbie, that process was a nightmare.

You can still use FTP to install WordPress today, however, I would recommend using 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. I'll be using SiteGround for this demonstration once again -

Feel free to check out my quick video tutorial above if you wish instead.

(Update - I'm currently putting together an updated video tutorial for installing WP in SiteGround)

Step One: Log into your SiteGround host account and go to Accounts, then hit the Go To cPanel button. See below.

Setting Up A WordPress Blog
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Step Two: Scroll down and click on the WordPress icon under 'Auto-installers'See image below.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.04.55
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Step Three: Click Install and then enter the details for the installation.

You should always select the https://www. protocol if this is available (which it should be). If you don't see it here, then you'll need to enable https on the domain using Let's EncryptCheck out this post to learn how.

Next, select the domain name in which you would like to install WordPress. This would be the domain name that you just purchased with your hosting.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 09.59.24
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Step Four: Continue with the setup by giving your blog a name, description, and admin username and password.

Note: Do not use the word Admin as a username for security reasons. Create a unique login name that hackers won't be able to guess easily.

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 blog admin area 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 initial set up.

The Limit Login Attempts plugin is highly recommended. It will help you track and block brute force login attempts made on your site, including the responsible IP addresses which you can block later on.

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Step Five: When you're all done, just hit the install button and let the magic happen.

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When the installation process has finished, you will be notified. You should see a Congratulations information page containing your blog URL address, username, and login passwordSee image below.

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Use these credentials to log into your new WordPress site.

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 you are new to all of this, plugins are part of what makes the WordPress open-source platform so flexible.

You can pretty much create a WordPress website and make it do whatever you want it to do, simply by installing and activating a variety of function enhancing plugins.

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 plugin for that called Thrive Apprentice (Premium plugin)

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. WordPress SEO by Yoast - This is by far the most powerful and complete on-page and site-wide SEO plugin available for WordPress, with over 5 million downloads to date. I'm currently using this plugin on my blog Magnet4Blogging.

If you're looking for something a little more advanced, with additional features, I'd also recommend trying SEOPressor Connect, however, this is a premium subscription-based plugin service that will set you back $9 per month subscription.

You can compare the two SEO plugins above here.

2. WP Super Cache - 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 - A must-have plugin to help you install the Google Analytics tracking code into your blog. Google Analytics is used to monitor your traffic growth and blog user behavior.

5. Social Snap - This is a powerful, lightweight, fast loading social sharing plugin that will help your site visitors share your awesome content on social media. There is a free version and premium options for using this plugin.

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 newSee 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 are exactly the same.

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.

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Step #5 - Installing a WordPress theme

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.

If you're looking for a more personalized look and feel for your WordPress blog, I would recommend using a premium, customizable theme such as the Genesis Theme Framework.

I recommend this theme framework for several reasons:

  1. It's reliable, robust, and well-coded. And, child themes for Genesis are relatively easy to configure. Customizing can be a little challenging, but there is a ton of documentation and tutorials available online and from the StudioPress site for you to figure it all out.
  2. I've worked on dozens of client and personal website projects using Genesis. If you need help, I'm here to help.

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

Installing a Genesis Theme

If you happen to choose Genesis, I've created a quick video tutorial on how to install the theme into your brand new WordPress blog.

The video is almost 8 years old now, but the process of installing this theme software into WordPress hasn't changed at all.

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 do check out my resource page.

I want to wish you the very best of luck on your new blogging venture. If you found this guide useful, please share it with your friends on social media, I appreciate you. Or simply click on the Click-To-Tweet box to share on Twitter.

Fabrizio Van Marciano.

Affiliate Disclaimer: As an affiliate of SiteGround, Bluehost, 123 Reg, StudioPress, and Thrive Themes, 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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