Do you want to know how to make a blog on WordPress? If you do, keep reading, because …
If you’re just getting started with your blog-based online business, and you’ve no idea how to build a WordPress website, I know it can be overwhelming.
I know because since 2015 I have helped hundreds of people start a WordPress blog with my blog setup services. And they tell me how frustrated they feel trying to figure it out all on their own.
I also know that not everyone is able to pay someone else to set up their blog for them. So, I decided to create this guide to show you exactly how to make a blog on WordPress the right way, step by step.
Before We Begin
The biggest mistake I see people make when starting a WordPress blog is using WordPress.com — not WordPress.org!
What’s the difference?
Well, with WordPress.com you do not have to pay for your own web hosting, and they take care of software updates for you, and website security …
Which means that you don’t have to worry about maintaining your blog after it is set up, or about your new blog being hacked.
So, I can see why WP.com sounds like a sweat deal to most people new online …
But it comes with restrictions like not being able to install WordPress plugins, upload themes, customize your theme, or monetise your blog how you want to.
All of which, are things that you need to be able to do if you are SERIOUS about creating a successful blogging business.
And that’s not all …
If WP.com feel you are breaking their terms of service, intentionally or not, they will delete your site without warning or any kind of explanation. 😠
On the other hand, when using WordPress.org which is commonly known as self hosted WordPress …
Yes, you have to pay for your own web hosting, but it’s worth the small cost because you are in full control of your website.
With WordPress.org you can install plugins, upload themes, make design edits to your theme, add Google Analytics, and monetise your blog any way you want.
What Do You Need and How Much Does It Cost To Make A Blog On WordPress?
To start a WordPress blog, you will need:
- A domain name: costs up to $10
- A web hosting account: cost $93 (ish) for 1 year
- Self-hosted WordPress software: FREE
- Essential Plugins (all free, except an optional one which costs $67)
- A premium theme (which is also optional and costs up to $99)
So in total, that’s $103 USD without the premium plugin and theme. But I highly recommend using them. In which case, it will be around $269 USD.
Are you ready to get started?
Let’s continue. 🙂
Step 1: Register Your Desired Domain Name
A domain name is the address of your website. Eg, www.TheBlogMechanic.com
I am going to recommend NameCheap as the company you register your domain name with because:
- I personally use them and I only recommend services that I know and trust.
- They are one of the cheapest places to buy domain names from.
- They sell every top level domain extension you can think of.
- They are an official ICAN accredited domain registrar which is a good thing.
Now, to avoid confusion, because this is something I am questioned about all the time. You can get a free domain name from Bluehost which is the web hosting company I am going to recommend you use. However …
I strongly recommend you keep your domain name and web hosting accounts separate, for security reasons. I’ve already explained why in the post below, so I won’t get into that here.
In this guide, I am going to assume that you’ve already decided on a domain name for your new WordPress blog. If not, here’s 3 simple exercises to help you find the best domain name.
If you’ve already chosen a domain name though, now is the time to register it. Click here to go to NameCheap and follow the step by step video below where I show you how to buy a domain name. Or …
If you prefer to follow written instructions, see this tutorial: How to Buy a Domain Name.
Step 2: Create a Web Hosting Account
Once you’ve registered your domain name, the next thing you need to do to set up a blog on WordPress, is to get web hosting.
Web hosting is where your website lives on the internet. It’s where all the files and folders for your new website will be stored.
As I mentioned earlier, I am going to recommend Bluehost because in my experience it is the best web hosting company for beginners on a budget, and they offer quality 24/7 support should you ever need help with anything.
Now, let’s create your new web hosting account. 🙂
Click here to open Bluehost in a new window. Then, follow the instructions below.
Step 1: The first thing you need to do is click the Get Started button.
Step 2: On the next page, choose a plan that suits you. I recommend the Plus or Choice Plus plan. Don’t get the Basic Plan. It’s limited.
Step 3: Next, enter the domain name you just registered in the previous step where it says Use a Domain You Own.
Step 4: Now, fill out your account information and choose your billing cycle. I recommend 36 months because it costs less in the long run. That said …
If the blog you are creating is a test project that you may or may not continue with, then you may want to choose yearly billing instead.
Then, uncheck all Package Extras. Of course, you can keep Site Lock security if you like, but you honestly don’t need it, and you can always add it back later.
Step 5: Next, scroll down and enter your credit or debit card details, or click the More Payment Options link to pay with PayPal.
Once completed, click the Submit button and follow the prompts to complete your order.
Step 6: Now, I already have web hosting with Bluehost, so I’m not going to complete the purchase. But basically, once the payment has been processed, you will be asked to set your password.
Click the Set Password button. Enter your password and click next. After that, Bluehost will send you a welcome email containing your account details including your username, nameserver info, ftp details and more. Keep that email safe, you will need it in the next step.
NOTE: If you need further instructions to complete the sign up process after making payment, below is a video taken from my Blog Setup Blueprint video course. Bluehost have made some design changes to their homepage since I created this video, but the sign up process is the same. 🙂
Step 3: Update Nameserver Settings
Once you have a domain name and you have web hosting, you need to point your domain name to your new web hosting account.
If you don’t, when someone visits your domain name, they will just see a 404 server not found page.
Nameserver settings are updated inside your NameCheap account and once the update is done, it can take up to 48 hours for the changes to go in to effect. But in my experience, it’s usually much faster than that.
Now, I won’t bog you down with the technical details of how nameservers work, because frankly, you can make a blog on WordPress without understanding that stuff. And if your not techie, it’ll probably just bore your socks off anyway. lol 🙂
But if you do want to know more about it, I found a great easy to understand article that you can read here.
With that said, follow the video below taken from my Blog Setup Blueprint video course, to learn how to easily update your nameserver settings inside NameCheap. Or you can follow the written instructions below.
Step 1: To update nameserver settings, the first thing you need to do is login to your NameCheap account.
Step 2: On the next page, to the far right of the domain name you registered, click the Manage button.
Step 3: Then, in the NameServer section, select Custom DNS from the drop down menu, and enter ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com. Now, save your changes by clicking the little green tick.
And that’s it. 🙂
You will now see a message towards the top of the screen saying changes can take up to 48 hours, but you don’t have to wait that long. You can move on to the next step when you’re ready.
Step 4: Install WordPress
The reason you don’t have to wait 48 hours or less before you can make a blog on WordPress is because …
When you create a new web hosting account with Bluehost they give you a temporary domain name that you can use until your nameserver changes have fully updated.
And, they install WordPress on the temporary domain name for you, so you don’t have to. Pretty cool, huh?
When your nameserver changes have fully taken effect, the temporary domain name will automatically update to your real domain name.
So, with your temporary domain name and WordPress already installed for you, you can login to Bluehost to configure WordPress settings and customize your blog’s appearance.
To login to your site, enter the temporary URL included in the welcome email Bluehost sent you followed by /wp-admin/ and login with your username and password.
If for some reason you cannot access the site, contact Bluehost. Support is super helpful and fast. They’ll have you logged in in no time at all.
Step 5: Choose and Install a WordPress Theme
By default, when WordPress is first installed, the Twenty Nineteen theme will be used, and it will look something like this:
Now, I’m sure you’ll agree, it doesn’t look very nice. And if you’re blogging for business, you’ll definitely want to change it.
There are literally thousands of themes to choose from, free and premium. That said, I recommend choosing a premium theme because:
- Premium themes look professional which is important for a business site
- Premium themes come with step by step documentation, making it easier to set them up to look like the theme demo
- When you pay for a premium theme, your purchase includes support
- You can customise Premium themes a lot more than you can free themes
Which premium themes do I recommend?
Glad you asked 😉
I personally use and recommend Genesis Themes from StudioPress.
Not because I’m an affiliate (I’m Not!).
But because in my opinion they are the best themes to use and here’s why.
Also, as I keep saying, I only recommend products and services that I personally use and trust.
But if using a free theme is the only option you have right now, I understand. You can always change it later.
Step 1: Choose a theme from the WordPress Theme Directory. To preview a theme hover over the screenshot and click More Info.
Step 2: Once you’ve chosen a theme, go to your WordPress admin dashboard. Go to Appearance >> Themes
Step 3: Next, click the Add New button.
On the next page, search for the theme you want to use in the search bar, top right corner of the screen.
For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll search for the Elementor Theme.
Step 4: To install your chosen theme, hover your mouse over it, and click the Install button.
Step 5: Once the theme is installed, the Install button will turn into an Activate button. Click Activate to start using the theme.
You can now start customizing your chosen theme by going to Appearance >> Customize
Once you’ve set up your Chosen WordPress theme, then you are ready to install essential WordPress plugins.
Step 6: Install Essential WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins are THE reason why WordPress is such a popular blogging platform that powers more than 30 percent of all websites.
They make it easier for non-techie users to add new website features and backend functionality without being a fully fledged developer.
Whatever you want to do with your WordPress blog, chances are, someone has created a plugin to help you do it. But …
The challenge for most people starting a blog for the first time is knowing what essential features a new website needs, and then finding the best WordPress plugins to add those features to your site.
With that said, let’s take a look at the WordPress plugins I recommend for adding essential website features and backend functionality to your new WordPress blog.
- Backups: How often you backup your blog depends on how often you publish content and make website changes. But at the very least, you should make a backup once a week. To backup your site you can use a plugin like BackWPup or Updraft.
- Analytics: Google Analytics is a free tool that gives you data-driven information that you can use to grow your blog and email list, much faster. In this article, I show you how to set up a new Google Analytics account and add the tracking code to your WordPress blog.
- Spam Protection: To protect your new blog from spam comments and contact form submissions, Akismet Anti-Spam is the best free plugin to use.
- Contact Form: If you publicly display your email address on your blog, you’ll get tons, sometimes hundreds of unsolicited emails. To stop that from happening, I recommend a free contact form plugin called Ninja Forms.
- Performance: To help keep your blog loading fast I recommend HummingBird for page and browser caching, and gzip compression. And Smush for image optimisation and lazy loading.
- Security: To help keep your blog safe from hacks and attacks I recommend using Wordfence Security for malware monitoring, security scanning and reporting, and firewall protection. And I recommend Sucuri Security to harden your WordPress installation, and security auditing, too.
- SEO: To prepare your blog for SEO optimization which helps your content get found in the search engines, I recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin. If you’re new to SEO, the team at Yoast SEO have created some free training here to get you started.
- Email Optin Forms: To add professional looking email optin forms to your WordPress blog that easily integrates with all popular autoresponder services like Aweber, MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, and more, so you can build an email list, Thrive Leads is a must have plugin for everyone.
After adding essential website features to your new WordPress blog, you’re ready to start blogging.
I hope this free guide has helped you learn how to make a blog on WordPress.
If you’ve been following along, you should now be ready to add content to your about page and publish your first blog post.
That said, like anything new, when using WordPress for the first time, there’s a steep learning curve for most people. But don’t let that stop you! 🙂
There are lots of places online where you can learn how to use WordPress in just a couple of hours, like WP101.
And each week here at The Blog Mechanic, I publish new WordPress tutorials that you can access for free anytime you need.
Plus, I love helping people with WordPress. If you’re struggling with something on your blog, ask The Blog Mechanic. You can contact me here.