How to start a blog on WordPress
If you want to know how to start a blog on WordPress you have come to the right page. In this guide, you will find all the necessary instructions for:
- understand how to start a structure-level WordPress blog
- domain registration, hosting and WordPress installation
- choose the WordPress theme that best suits your site
- install the essential tools for the optimal functioning of a blog
- optimize your blog to start your web adventure on the right foot
- become a seasoned blogger, and ready to conquer the net
If it is already clear to you what WordPress is, we just have to get started. But first, it is good to understand what you have to pay for and what you can get for free at this stage.
In fact, you will see that with WordPress and our advice you can easily start a blog and even showcase or eCommerce sites, or both together as a showcase site with a Blog section inside, to immediately start selling online, but you will be forced to spend a few tens of euros to have a webspace, that is a hosting service that will host your web project.
Even if you can get your web domain for free, or choose the graphic theme of your website among those offered for free by WordPress, the provider – also called hosting – will be the only essential requirement that you will have to pay, and in this article, we recommend the best cheap WordPress hosting and more.
It goes without saying that we have not only chosen the cheapest hosting services but also the best currently in use.
Start a WordPress blog
There are many people who want to start a WordPress blog, and who work for days on the design and configuration of the theme, and then leave it after a couple of posts.
Often, this happens due to lack of motivation, ideas or simply time.
I therefore advise you to identify well:
- The niche you will target: Starting a WordPress blog that caters to a well-defined niche will greatly increase your chances of being able to create a beautiful community.
- The brand and the message of your blog: What will be the look of your site, the communication style, the message you want to convey?
- The first posts you will write: When you run a blog for a long time, sometimes you find yourself running out of ideas. To validate your idea and make sure you have enough content to support the blog in the first months of its existence, write a list of 50 titles.
With these things done, you are ready to move on to practice.
WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
One of the mistakes most often made by those who want to create a WordPress blog is to register their site on the .com platform, instead of using the .org version.
The .com version of WordPress is completely different from the .org.
The first does not involve the purchase of a hosting plan. The sites are in fact hosted on WordPress servers. This places significant limitations on the modifications and customizations that can be made to your site.
The .org version is actually free software that can be downloaded and installed on your server space. There are no restrictions on what you can do on your site.
Well, now we are ready to get started and create your WordPress blog!
What will you need to create a WordPress blog?
There are three basic elements you will need:
- Hosting plan
If you choose SiteGround, the best domain and hosting provider in the world right now, domain registration is free and you also get full access to our WordPress video course!
As you can see, some of the things you need to start a WordPress blog aren’t free.
So, how much will it cost you to start your site? In most cases, the first year costs between $ 150 and $ 180.
Choose the name of your WordPress blog
The first thing you need to do is choose the name for your site.
The domain is the web address (also called URL: unique resource locator) that the user types in the navigation bar of the browser to reach your site. The Social Booster domain is https://socialbooster.agency. Registering a domain serves to ensure that only you can use it, associating it with the server space where the files and database of your site are located.
The choice of name and domain is very important. Changing domain when the site is already started is in fact rather complicated and could have repercussions in terms of positioning on search engines. So think carefully about the name you want to give your site – it will be a constant in your online presence for years to come.
Try to choose a name that is:
- Easy to remember,
- Easy to write,
- Above all, that it reflects your brand or what you want to communicate with your site
Also, I recommend that you register:
- a “top-level-domain”, that is, like the .com extension
- a domain with a localized extension. So, if you are addressing an Italian audience, with the extension .it, for a Spanish audience an extension .es etc.
The domain extension does not affect the indexing of the site connected to it on search engines, but a more widespread extension allows it to be remembered more easily.
In recent times, the sites that sell domains are trying to push even more particular extensions, such as .online, .company, .website, etc.
If your budget allows it and you like the available extensions, registering more domains doesn’t hurt. However, I advise you to prioritize the registration of the domain with the “top-level” extension and the localized one.
Register the chosen domain, and sign up for the hosting plan that best suits your WordPress blog
To start a WordPress blog you will need a hosting plan that will also allow you to register the previously chosen domain. Most likely, you will start with a shared server: that is, you will be assigned a space within a server where other sites are located (however, users will not know this. Obviously they will only see your site).
A server is a computer inside which the files and database that make up your blog are located. When a user tries to visit a specific URL, a request is sent to the server that “responds” with the files – that is, the web pages – requested by the user’s browser.
As with domain registration, there are hundreds of sites where you can sign up for a hosting plan. This is an important choice, and I highly recommend that you choose a good supplier.
For Social booster, I have relied on SiteGround for several years, in our opinion the best provider in the world right now: both for the power of the servers (in order to guarantee an excellent loading time to the pages of your website), then for support and safety.
In fact, SiteGround uses cutting-edge technologies, able to guarantee a significant increase in the speed of your website compared to other hosting. Together with tools like caching, CDN, http / 2 protocol, the performance is truly excellent.
Furthermore, you can rely 24 hours a day on a team of experts who are always available and ready to help you.
Install WordPress for free and in a few clicks
Well, at this point, you will have spent only a few tens of euros and from here on you are ready to operate and create your blog for free with WordPress. First, you should have domain and access to the hosting plan.
If you have chosen a provider such as SiteGround, Bluehost, GoDaddy, etc., you will have access to a control panel from which you can manage many aspects of your website, and even install WordPress!
In most cases, there is an application for the WordPress installation wizard with a few clicks. Often available on cPanel type panels is “Quick Install”, while on other providers it is “Fantastico”. Sometimes you find the WordPress icon directly to start the process.
In most cases, there is an application for the WordPress installation wizard with a few clicks. Often available on cPanel type panels is “Quick Install”. Sometimes you find the WordPress icon directly to start the process.
Choose an ideal WordPress theme for your blog
We have come to another very important step for those who want to start a WordPress blog: the choice of the theme.
The theme (or template) is used to give the graphic look to your WordPress site. When you install the platform, one of the default themes is automatically installed. By changing the template you can completely change the look of your blog. The latest generation themes also include extra features compared to those already provided by the platform.
There are WordPress themes for all needs and budgets.
First, you will need to choose whether to buy a free or premium theme. Without a doubt, valid free themes are available. In most cases, however, these have very limited functionality compared to premium templates.
If you choose to use a free theme, make sure it is maintained by the developer and updated regularly. Furthermore, it only uses themes present within the official WordPress repository. These templates are in fact validated by the platform development team.
Guidelines for choosing a WordPress theme
Whether you choose a premium theme or a free theme, follow these guidelines:
- Select a theme that is compatible with the latest version of WordPress and has a good number of downloads
- Make sure the theme has a responsive layout. That is, that it is perfectly visible on screens of various sizes (mobile and tablet included). More and more users are using mobile devices to connect. Having a site optimized for mobile phones and tablets will allow you to ensure they have a positive experience.
- That it is compatible with the tools you want to use. Let me explain: if you want to create a multilingual WordPress blog, you will probably use WPML. If you plan on adding eCommerce features, you will likely install WooCommerce. If you want to create a forum section, you will install bbPress. It is certainly not possible to foresee all the features that you will want to implement on the site, but if you already have some ideas, choose a theme that is compatible with the tools necessary to implement them.
- To start an SEO-optimized WordPress blog (ie for indexing on search engines), choose an “SEO-optimized” theme.
- Competition on domains and search engines is high. To ensure that you are found through organic searches, you will need to make sure that your site and content are optimized for search engines.
When looking at theme previews, don’t get too influenced by colours and fonts. In the vast majority of premium themes, these can be changed to your liking (even in some free themes, but the options available are more limited). Instead, focus on the overall look of the template, the layout, the graphic elements such as buttons and icons and, as I said before, any additional features that might be useful to you.
Tips for those who are undecided
If you’re undecided which template to choose, here are my suggestions:
- To start a WordPress blog where you only and exclusively want to write posts (on which you, therefore, do not want to implement more complex features, you can take a look at the themes suggested in this guide on the best WordPress themes. As free alternatives, I definitely recommend the default WordPress themes: like twentyfifteen, twentyfourteen, twentythirteen, etc. You can find them on the official WordPress site (and you can also search and install them directly from the dashboard of your site).
- If you want to start a blog where you’ll be posting articles very frequently, you might also be interested in a magazine-style layout. In this case, you might like Sahifa or Newspaper. As a free alternative, I recommend Hueman.
- If you want a theme that guarantees optimal performance and is fully optimized in terms of SEO, take a look at the Themeforest or TemplateMonster templates. You will find beautifully designed themes, which include many useful extensions and which, moreover, are truly unbeatable in terms of performance.
- Finally, if your goal is to start with a blog but expand your site quickly, a multifunctional theme may be your best bet. Like Enfold or Avada.
Once you’ve chosen the theme for your blog, it’s time to install it.
Install the WordPress theme
If you choose a free theme from the official WordPress directory, you can navigate to Appearance> Themes and search for the template of your choice directly from your Dashboard (before installing, you can also test it using the preview feature).
If, on the other hand, you have purchased a premium theme, after payment you will be given access to a download page from which to download the .zip folder that contains the template files.
Log into your WordPress site now and navigate to Appearance> Themes. Then, click Add New Theme and then Upload Theme. Here you can upload the .zip folder, which will be automatically extracted.
Once the theme is loaded, you just have to activate it! Once this is done you are ready to start working on the various configuration options.
Create the child theme (optional)
This is an optional but highly recommended step. Skipping it will in no way limit the use of your blog or WordPress. However, if you have some technical knowledge or the support of a person who can help you, I recommend that you try creating a child theme for your blog.
A child theme is a kind of photocopy of the theme you have installed and activated on your site, to which all changes and customizations will be applied. A child theme is useful because it ensures that any changes made are not overwritten when updates are made to the “parent” theme.
Work on the settings
First, I recommend that you work on the WordPress default settings.
On this page, make sure that the title and motto of your site are correct (on many templates, these are in fact displayed on the online site).
Here you can also check that the Administrator account email is correct. Finally, at the bottom of the page, you can change the language of the WordPress installation
Here you can configure the display of blog posts and on the home page. If you want to create a “classic” WordPress blog, you most likely want the latest posts to be displayed on the homepage in chronological order.
On this page, then make sure that the “Latest articles” option is selected under “The home page shows:”.
Also on this screen, you can also configure how many articles to display per page.
This is where you can work on settings related to the comments section of your blog. At first, I recommend that you leave comments open to everyone. Activate the notifications, however, so as to be sure not to miss a single one and eventually delete the spam ones promptly.
Reviews allow you to build positive relationships with customers and establish yourself as an expert by offering helpful advice and information. Thanks to the comments, you will be able to better understand how to help your users and how to improve the services offered.
This page is very important. Be sure to work on these options before writing and starting sharing your posts.
The default option for permalinks is not the optimal one in terms of SEO. I therefore recommend that you select the “Article Name” option, so that the post title is displayed in the url of your posts.
Configure the theme and use the “Customize” panel
Each theme has different options and a custom way to configure them. However, the theme options are usually found in a separate category within the “Appearance” section.
You will also find several options within the Customize panel (from the Dashboard, in Appearance> Customize).
Here you will find several tabs. An important one is the one called Site Identity, where you can find the fields with the title and motto of your blog again, and where you can upload the favicon image.
The favicon is the small icon that appears in the search engine tab. Starting from version 4.3 of WordPress it is possible to configure this icon from the “Customize” panel, by uploading an image of 512px X 512px size.
If you have difficulty configuring your chosen theme, you can contact the developer who created it directly. In case you have purchased a premium theme, you will have access to a real support portal, on Themeforest, or on the developer’s website. If, on the other hand, you have downloaded one of the free themes available within the WordPress directory, you can leave your support requests in the forum area dedicated to the template you have chosen.
Install the plugins
The theme is the graphics of your WordPress blog. The “extra” features are implemented through plugins. As with themes, there are plugins for all needs – free and premium.
The plugins that cannot be missing on your blog
- Akismet. This plugin is so important that most hosting providers include it in the WordPress installation package. To check if it has already been installed, navigate to Plugins> Installed Plugins. If not, install it by navigating to Plugin> Add New. You can search for it directly within the WordPress directory. Akismet serves to protect your site from spam by blocking suspicious comments.
- Contact Form 7. All sites should have a contact form and Contact Form 7 is the best tool to create it. Once installed, read the guide on how to customize your forms.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This term refers to all activities aimed at optimizing your site so that it is best indexed on search engines – making your pages rise in rank and giving them greater visibility. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a plugin that allows you to optimize your blog in a very simple way, guiding you in the insertion of keywords, creating the sitemap, and much more.
- A social plugin. Blogging and social networking go hand in hand. Social media are undoubtedly among the most important tools for promoting your site. So make sure that sharing links are present at the bottom of each of your posts. A great plugin to add them is Shareaholic, but there are many others.
- A tool to link the blog to the newsletter. Any marketer would advise you to start collecting your followers’ email addresses through the newsletter on the first post. Most likely, you will start with MailChimp (completely free for up to 2000 subscribers). To connect your MailChimp account to the blog you need a plugin.
Connect Google Analytics
Make sure your blog is somehow connected to Google Analytics, which allows you to monitor traffic levels and interactions (first, you need to create a Google Analytics account – you can do this with any Gmail email address).
Many themes have a field where you paste the Analytics tracking code. This is the simplest option!
If your theme doesn’t offer this feature, don’t despair. You can install the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin (yes, it’s the same developer as the SEO plugin).
More tips for creating a successful WordPress blog
As I wrote at the beginning of this guide, as regards the choice of the theme, do not be influenced too much by the colors and fonts you see on the demo – both are customizable!
Many premium themes include a feature to change the font. If the one you use doesn’t have it, you can still use the Easy Google Fonts plugin to change the font of the texts.
If you want to change the colors instead, there are several options.
First, check if it can be done directly from the theme configuration pages: the vast majority of templates – both premium and free – include this option.
Alternatively, you can work directly on the CSS codes. If you have created a child theme, you can make changes within the style.css file. In fact, these will not be overwritten (therefore, lost) by the updates of the parent theme.
If you haven’t created your child theme, you can write your own CSS codes using the Simple Custom CSS plugin. This tool helps to preserve changes even when updates are made.
Optimize images and caching
Another aspect to look out for when starting a WordPress blog is images. There is no doubt that having a blog full of images, large and of good quality, is aesthetically very attractive. However, attention must also be paid to the performance of the site, avoiding leaving users to wait an infinite time before the pages are loaded.
Another trick that I recommend you take from the start is caching. Caching tools, such as WP Super Cache, are used to create a static copy of the pages on your site. When a user tries to visit one of your pages, this copy is shown, which loads much faster than the “standard procedure”. It is a good idea to optimize the performance of your site right from the start!
Work consistently on SEO
Don’t forget that once your website is ready, it doesn’t have a life of its own, but you’ll have to constantly intervene to make sure it delivers the results you hope for.
For this, it is necessary to operate on all aspects of SEO, starting from those that concern the single page, up to the global ones that have to do with the whole site in general. And you mustn’t neglect the SEO that must be done outside the site, to gain backlinks to your pages and gain a certain authority.
Therefore, consider the idea of enrolling in a complete and practical SEO course, which teaches you in a simple way how the positioning of a website works and how to improve it.
Furthermore, it can be very useful to contact an SEO consultant who will show you exactly what are the points on which to intervene to improve your visibility.
At this point, you should know how to use WordPress to create a blog without too much hesitation. I advise you not to rush the steps described above: choosing a valid hosting provider and a quality theme are important choices that will affect the performance of your blog over time.