How to Start a WordPress Blog - Simple and Practical steps

How to Start a WordPress Blog

a WordPress BlogAre you considering starting a blog on WordPress or moving your existing blog to WordPress?

Did you know that over 23% of all websites globally are run on WordPress?

WordPress is an extremely popular and reliable platform for running a blog and it’s completely free! When you install WordPress you get a website, a blog and a full content management system to easily add/update content on your site. You also get an ecosystem of developers around the world who build additional extras in the form of plugins that enhance what WordPress can do.

These plugins extend the functionality of WordPress and mean you don’t need to get functionality custom built by your developer every time you need a new feature.

Here are some essential ideas on how to start a blog.

Listen to this post!

I’ve done a recording of this post so you can listen to it while you are in the gym, in the car etc!

 

How to start a WordPress blog in 6 steps

1. Register Your Domain Name

You have two choices for starting a WordPress blog. You can register your own domain name and install the blog there or you can put your website on wordpress.com.

I strongly advise you to register your own domain name and put the blog there. Putting your blog on WordPress.com is like renting a house instead of buying it: if you add value to a rented house, the owner gets the benefit.

With a blog, if you are creating great content, the value of your website will continuously go up as you drive more traffic to it.

Years ago, it was really beneficial if you had keywords in your domain name that were related to your products or services.  For example, ‘Sportsequipment.com’ would do well with searches for ‘sports equipment’.

But, each year, the importance of keywords in a domain is going down (see our post about the Search Metrics report on Google ranking).

Instead, think of a name that you can build on as a brand.  Something that is short, easy to remember, easy to spell and available as a .com domain.

If you want to get traffic from all around the world, it’s important to register a .com name instead of a country specific domain e.g. .ie (Ireland), .fr (France) etc. Country-specific domain names are great for getting traffic for that country but not good for traffic from the rest of the world.

“When starting a blog, it’s extremely critical to not only leave a great first impression (through site design, logo and content), but also to provide the best possible value in the process. With over 100 million blogs in the world, this is a competition of who can provide the best value and why you are worth someone’s time. Now it’s up to you to prove why your blog is worth it!” – Zac Johnson of http://blogging.org.

2. Pick a Hosting Provider

A web host stores all the files related to your website/blog and makes the site available for anyone to browse. So, when you have your domain name, you need to figure out where to host the site.

Here are some considerations for hosting:

Virtual or dedicated machine: A virtual environment means that you share resources on a machine with other websites. This is fine if your traffic is relatively low and you are just starting out but, as your site develops, you may need to move to a dedicated machine where no other site can get access to your resources.

Bandwidth: Think about a pipe with water going through it; only a certain amount of water can get through the pipe. Ideally, you want a site that provides unlimited bandwidth. though this doesn’t actually mean unlimited because there is no such thing. What it means is that there are no restrictions imposed on your site and, if you have a really busy day, more bandwidth will be made available to you.

Cost: Cost is always a factor but the cheapest is not necessarily the best. Consider everything that the hosting provider includes as part of the package.

Support: This is absolutely key for a hosting environment. You need 24×7 support and you need a quick response to your queries.

Uptime: There is no hosting environment that is up 100% of the time so you need to find out what their uptime is for the previous month. You want 99.99% uptime or higher

We currently host our site with SiteGround who provide what we need in terms of cost, bandwidth, support and service.

Read this post, which gives more details on selecting a hosting provider.

3. Install WordPress

To install WordPress, go to WordPress.org and download the latest version. You then upload the files to your server and begin the installation process.

Having said that, any good hosting provider nowadays provides a very simple installation process for WordPress. For example, if you use SiteGround, they will provide you with a one-click install that will have your installation up and running in a couple of minutes.

When you first install WordPress, a default theme is automatically provided. This means that you immediately have a website up and running and you can start blogging straight away. You can add content easily through the content management system but the site won’t look very professional.

 

4. Add Your Theme

Now that you have your basic WordPress installation up and running, it’s time to make it look good. A theme gives you the overall look/layout of your website.

You can get a developer to build you a custom theme or you can use a theme that a developer has already created.

If you’re buying an existing theme, you’ll need to spend some time customizing it and you’ll probably need some developer help but, overall, it’s a very cost-effective way of getting your website up.

Here are a few sites for purchasing themes:

5. Add Your Plugins and Essentials

Your WordPress theme will give you a certain amount of functionality but there’s still a bit more to do. For example:

a) Google Analytics – Add your Google Analytics code to all of your pages so you can start tracking visitors to your site.

b) Add Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin – This is the best SEO plugin and you also get some nice additions, for example, the creation of a sitemap (a file that Google reads to figure out what to index on your site).

c) Add an Editorial Calendar – Whether you are a one-person operation or a 50-person operation, you need a editorial calendar. Check out this article.

d) Add a social-sharing plugin – You want your content shared as much as possible. We use Flare for social sharing.

e) Tighten up security – Your default themes will not be secure so you’ll need to get a developer to tighten up security. For example, you should not be able to access the admin area by going to website/wp-admin and you should also not be able to login with an ‘admin’ user name.

f) Change permalink structure – By default, your page names will be like this ?12343 but what you want is more user-friendly URLs. Go to Settings -> Permalinks -> Common Settings and select the ‘post name’ option.

g) Add other plugins – See this article, which outlines expert bloggers’ favorite WordPress plugins.

6. Create Your Content

Now, you’re ready to create your content. Here are some articles that will help with content creation:

 

Summary

WordPress is an extremely powerful and popular platform to build your blog on. All of our websites over the last 10 years have been on WordPress and I don’t see a reason to change this.

What is your opinion of a WordPress blog?

Why don’t you create a free blog on WordPress and get started?

How do you start a WordPress blog?

 

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14 Responses to How to Start a WordPress Blog

  1. Not enough information about tightening up security, though I always recommend using a cloud security provider like Incapsula or Cloudflare there are plently of good WordPress plugins which can help. WordPress sites will be scanned and exploited very rapidly once the are online. Plugins and WordPress itself must be updated frequently, and you should install a commenting spam blocker plugin ASAP or disable trackback and comments in your general settings if you don’t plan to allow comments on your site.

  2. Great post Ian. We love WordPress at Cloudways. Anyone can start a WordPress blog by using our easy to use application hosting panel in just some clicks on DigitalOcean or Amazon servers. Its extremely easy for the bloggers to manage their hosting & server specifications easily.

  3. Nice post for the beginners. I would think that your stat of 23 percent of blogs being on WordPress is correct but I would say the percentage of blogs that are most successful in terms of traffic and income it is less than a fraction of 1 percent. While WP is free out of the box and there is a world of free plugins which makes it an awesome starting point, the customization it requires down the road for a blog to become a mega site is very expensive and you will be paying for custom work that is out of the box in the more robust open source CMS which are more expensive at the set up and start up mostly because as you mentioned, just a lot of WP developers out there. (But as you said better than I could, cheapest isn’t always best so buyer beware) I know people doing the millions of visitors a month on WP like I do on my sites but they have full time tech teams and huge budgets and while it may be WP somewhere, it is so custom it is really just WP in name at this point. The most important thing for the beginner, just get something up and get it out there and WP is a great place to start.

    • Hey Mitch, thanks for the feedback. You’re right about WordPress not being suitable for everything and for the bigger projects you need to weigh up your options. The plugin and play model with WordPress is great but you don’t want to be patching together a solution which contains pieces of functionality from many different developers. So the bigger sites need to consider their options. Ian

  4. Really useful information for any newbie WordPress user. A cache plugin is another important basic requirement for a WordPress site, W3 Total Cache is a great option

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