If you’re looking for an “easy to follow” step-by-step guide on how to start a WordPress blog then you’re in the right place.
In 2016, I partnered with six-figure blogging coach Yaro Starak to help students of his Blog Mastermind coaching program create a WordPress blog.
Since then, I have helped hundreds of people start a blog (the right way!) and now, in this do it yourself guide, I am going to help you too.
Even if you’re not tech-savvy and you’ve never built a website before, the process is easy to follow. But if you do need help, I can set up your WordPress blog for free. Contact me to claim your free blog setup.
How Do I Start a WordPress Blog?
To create a WordPress blog you will need the following things:
- A blog topic idea (what you’ll write about)
- A domain name (e.g. theblogmechanic.com)
- A web hosting account (where your blog lives)
- A WordPress theme (your blog design)
- Essential WordPress plugins (for security, SEO, speed, etc)
We’ll talk more about each of the listed items above in more detail below. First, here’s a helicopter overview of the step by step process I’ll walk you through to start a blog on WordPress.
- Register a domain name
- Sign up for web hosting
- Update nameservers (this is easier than it sounds!)
- Install WordPress
- Create a professional email address
- Correctly configure WordPress settings
- Add a WordPress theme
- Add essential WordPress plugins
- Write your first blog post
Upon completion of the steps above, you’ll have a fully functional WordPress blog that’s customized to your liking. But just because it’s online, that doesn’t mean people will just come and find it.
To create a successful blog that actually makes money, you need website traffic and a proven monetization strategy. So, we’ll also cover how to get traffic and the top 3 ways for a beginner blogger to make money blogging.
First, though, you may be wondering how much it costs to start a blog AND if WordPress really is the best blogging platform. If not, you can use the links below to go straight to the create a blog section.
How Much Does it Cost to Start a WordPress Blog?
Depending on your needs and preferences, you can start a WordPress blog for as little as $20 to $200, or as much as $3000 upwards.
The total cost depends on the domain registrar, the web hosting company, the type of hosting account, how often you pay for hosting (monthly, yearly, 3 yrs), and which WordPress themes and plugins you add to the site.
If your not careful, starting a blog can become expensive. But don’t worry. In this guide, I will show you how to start a blog on a low budget using the best tools.
Should I Start a Blog on WordPress?
Without a doubt!
Almost 40% (which is millions) of website owners use WordPress to start a blog, build an online store, and more for good reason.
Plugins allow you to extend the power of WordPress in any way you can possibly think of (e.g. adding forms, testimonials, galleries, announcements, etc ) without knowing code or hiring a developer.
Also, with WordPress, you own your website and all the content on it 100 percent, unlike other blogging platforms like Medium who can close your account anytime without warning.
That said, there are two types of WordPress (self hosted and hosted) so you must be careful not to use the wrong one!
The biggest mistake I see beginner bloggers make is using hosted WordPress at wordpress.com instead of self hosted WordPress at wordpress.org to create a blog. If you’re starting a blog for business, you should create a self hosted WordPress blog because there are no restrictions.
With a self hosted WordPress blog you can:
- Install WordPress plugins
- Upload premium themes
- Customize your theme
- Monetize your blog any way you want
And that’s just a few reasons why self hosted WordPress is a better option for most people. Learn more about the difference between self hosted WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
How to Create a WordPress Blog (in 9 Easy Steps)
I’m going to assume that you’ve already decided on a blog topic and you are now ready to create a self hosted WordPress blog. However, if you do need some guidance with topic selection read how to choose the right blog topic for some helpful tips from blogging coach Yaro Starak.
Step 1: Register a Domain Name
A domain name is the web address people go to to visit your WordPress site and it should match the blog name of your website so it’s easier for people to remember.
For example, my blog name is The Blog Mechanic and my domain name is www.theblogmechanic.com.
The domain registrar I’m going to recommend is NameCheap because that’s the one I use and they are one of the cheapest registrars online. Typically, dot com domain names cost $14.99 but you can get one from NameCheap for just $8.88 at the time of writing this guide.
Note: I believe that honesty is the best policy. If you sign up with NameCheap after clicking that link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, but I only recommend resources that I personally use and trust.
Let’s go ahead and register your domain name.
On the next page, NameCheap will let you know if the domain name is available or not. If it is, click the Add To Cart button to continue. If it’s taken, keep searching until you find one that is available.
Next, you will be offered some additional services. You DO NOT need any of these extras! For security reasons and more, you should keep your domain and web hosting accounts separate, so we will get web hosting from another provider who will give you a free SSL certificate and a free professional email address. Click the Checkout button to continue.
On the next page, leave EVERYTHING as is and click the Confirm Order button.
Create a new account and continue.
On the account page, enter your information and continue.
On the setup page, scroll to the bottom and ‘save configuration to default settings’. Click Continue.
Next, choose your billing method. Personally, I prefer Paypal, but there’s also an option to pay by card, in which case you’ll need to enter your card information.
Upon completion, click the Continue button. Review your order and pay. After payment, you will be taken to a purchase summary page where you can download a receipt. And that’s it …
You have successfully registered a domain name. You can close the page but don’t forget your NameCheap username and password. You’ll need to sign back into NameCheap soon to update nameserver settings in step three of this guide.
Step 2: Create a Web Hosting Account
Every website needs web hosting. Think of it as storage space. It’s where all your website files are stored online. It’s where your website lives on the internet and choosing a good WordPress hosting company is CRUCIAL to the success of your WordPress blog.
But that doesn’t mean web hosting has to be expensive.
In this guide, I will show you how to create a WordPress blog with Bluehost. Bluehost is an official ‘WordPress’ recommended web hosting company and one of the most popular web hosting companies on the internet. They provide excellent support and they even install WordPress for you, making it easier than ever to start a blog on WordPress.
Note: At no extra cost to you I get paid a commission for introducing you to Bluehost but that’s not why I recommend them. I have years of experience with Bluehost and believe they will add value to my readers which is what matters most to me. That’s why, if you struggle to create a blog following the steps in this guide, I will set it up for you (for free) with a nice theme and essential plugins. Contact me to claim your free blog setup.
To create your web hosting account follow along with the steps below.
On the next page, select your desired WordPress hosting plan. I recommend the plus or choice plus plan because you get unlimited resources.
Then, where it says ‘Use a Domain You Own’ enter the domain name you have registered at NameCheap and click the Next button to continue.
On the next page, you need to fill out your account information, choose a billing cycle, and make payment via PayPal or card. I recommend choosing the 36 month plan because it’s the cheapest option in the long term.
Also, you DO NOT need any of the package extras on this screen to start a blog.
After making payment, you’ll be taken to a success page where you are asked to pick a username and password for your Bluehost account. Click the Create Your Account button.
On the next screen, your domain name is automatically prefilled for you. This is the username you will use to sign in to Bluehost. Enter a memorable password and click the Create Account button.
And that’s it! You have successfully created a web hosting account for your blog. You will receive an email containing all your account details including Bluehost’s nameserver information which you need in the next step. Let’s continue.
Step 3: Update Domain Name Settings
Right now, when you visit your website URL, this is what you’ll see.
Even if you logged into Bluehost and installed WordPress on your server, you will not see the WordPress installation. Why?
Because you need to update nameserver settings to make your domain name work with your Bluehost account. To do that, sign in to NameCheap. You will see your domain name listed on the dashboard.
To the right of your domain name, open up the menu and click ‘manage’. Then, scroll to the Nameservers section and select Custom DNS.
Enter ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com then click the Green Tick to save your changes.
Upon completion, you will see a success message saying the nameservers have been changed and that changes can take up to 48 hours, but it’s usually much sooner than that. In my experience, just an hour or two.
When the nameserver changes are complete the NameCheap page will be replaced with a Bluehost coming soon page that looks like this …
When you see the coming soon page, come back to this step by step guide on how to start a blog and continue with the steps below.
Step 4: Install WordPress
When you create an account at Bluehost using my link and sign in for the first time, they automatically install WordPress for you, making it easier for beginner and non-techie users to create a blog.
First, though, they will ask you some questions, and based on your answers they’ll recommend some WordPress plugins. You can skip the questions. I have my own list of recommended plugins that I install on every blog and website that I create for myself and for clients that I work with.
There are four questions in total. You can skip them all until you see a page saying WordPress has been installed. DO NOT click the launch my site button.
As tempting as it may feel right now to jump ahead and launch your new WordPress blog, it is not ready yet. There are other things we need to do first.
Stay logged in to Bluehost and let’s continue.
Related: How to Install WordPress in cPanel
Step 5: Create a Professional Email Address
When starting a blog for business, instead of using some generic Gmail or Hotmail address, you should create a professional address that is branded to your business name.
For example, my business name is The Blog Mechanic and my email is email@example.com.
Not only does a branded address look more professional than a free and generic one such as firstname.lastname@example.org – customers and other businesses are more likely to take you seriously.
So. Let’s go ahead and create a professional email for your new WordPress blog.
The first thing you need to do is click the Advanced tab in the left menu of your Bluehost account.
On the next screen, go to Email > Email Accounts.
Then Click the +CREATE button located to the right.
Next, as seen in the image below:
- Add an email username
- Add a memorable password or generate one
- Choose the amount of storage space (unlimited if available)
- Click the +CREATE button
Upon completion, you will see the new email address listed on the email accounts page.
In the next step when we configure WordPress settings, we will add the new email address to your blog. To do that you need to be logged in to the email account so you can verify ownership. Click the Check Email Link seen in the image above to launch the account in a new window. Then click Roundcube to open your inbox.
Note: managing emails sent to your Bluehost account is easier when you import webmail into Gmail. See how to add an email address to Gmail for further instructions.
Step 6: Configure WordPress Settings
Before you can install a WordPress theme and write your first blog post, it’s important to correctly configure the core settings of your blog for optimal performance.
Most of the settings I’ll walk you through to achieve this are accessed from the WordPress dashboard. But there are some settings inside Bluehost that we need to change first.
Let’s get started.
Bluehost Settings Tab
Carrying on where we left off in the previous step, you should now have two browser windows open: one that’s logged into the email account you created and one that’s logged into Bluehost.
From the Bluehost homepage go to the My Sites tab and click the Manage Site button.
On the next screen click the Settings link. I recommend turning off automatic updates because updates can break your blog. That’s why you should ALWAYS test updates first and apply them to your site manually after backing up your website. We’ll talk more about backups later.
Also, on this screen, you may want to deactivate disable comments on posts older than 28 days if you don’t want readers to comment on your blog posts.
Bluehost Security Settings
All Bluehost customers get a free SSL certificate and the Security tab is where you can activate the certificate on your WordPress blog. Go to the Security tab and turn the certificate settings on.
Once activated, go back to the Settings tab and change the site URL and home URL from HTTP to HTTPS by adding an ‘s’ at the end of HTTP.
Then, select the option update home URL to match site URL (Recommended) and click the Save Updates button.
Note: In most cases, activating the SSL certificate is as easy as turning it on and editing the site URL as seen in the image above. However, sometimes, the certificate shows as unavailable or unknown. If this happens to you, don’t worry. I have an easy fix in my guide about Bluehost SSL not working.
Login to WordPress
Once all your Bluehost settings are correctly configured, you need to log in to WordPress. To log in, click the Log in to WordPress button in the top right corner of the screen.
Once logged in you will see a welcome message from Bluehost on the WordPress dashboard with some recommended steps, and a left sidebar menu with several options.
You may feel overwhelmed by all the options at first, but don’t be. There are only a few settings to configure and I’m going to walk you through them step by step.
Note: you can also log in to WordPress at your-domain-name.com/wp-admin. However, when logging in for the first time, you may not know your username and password. I’ll show you how to create a password and retrieve your username so you can also log in at wp admin next time.
WordPress General Settings
Once logged in, from the WordPress dashboard go to Settings > General.
On this screen, you need to add a site title, site tagline, and your professional email address.
In most cases, the site title is your blog name so that’s easy enough. But you’ll want to put some thought into the site tagline because it is seen in Google’s search results and at the top of some browser tabs when users hover over it.
Your tagline should be a few words that describe what your blog is about and who it is for. For example, my tagline is WordPress help for beginners and non-techie users. It’s clear and concise. Yours should be too.
Lastly, on this page, add your professional email where it says administration email address. Then, scroll down and click the Save Changes button. After saving your changes, you need to verify ownership of the email address via email. Go to the Roundcube email account you opened up earlier. Find the confirmation email from WordPress and click the link inside it.
WordPress Reading Settings
This next step is going to sound bonkers, but stick with me here, it’ll make complete sense when I explain why in just a minute, and it’s only temporary.
On the reading tab, you’ll want to select the Search Engine Visibility checkbox to stop Google from showing your site in search results.
Why would you do that?
Because when you add a WordPress theme to your blog later in this guide, to make the theme look like the theme demo you will import demo content, and you don’t want that demo content being found in the search results.
That’s why you should tell Google not to index your site. Then, once you’ve replaced all the demo content with your own content you can come back to this setting and uncheck it, so Google knows the site is ready to be indexed.
WordPress Discussions Tab
The discussions tab is where all the settings for blog comments are found. If you don’t want to accept comments, you can just turn them off.
If you do want to accept comments, you can control how comment notifications work and whether comments must be manually approved before appearing on your site.
When accepting comments, I recommend the following settings:
Note: Spammers can use trackbacks and pingbacks to post spammy and malicious links on your site, so you’ll definitely want to disable those.
WordPress Permalink Settings
Permalinks are the most important settings on any WordPress website. They determine how the URL of a blog post or page looks and they help you rank higher in search results when formatted correctly.
For example, the permalink of this post is: /wordpress-tutorial/how-to-start-a-wordpress-blog
As you can see, it includes the post category and post name to help Google and humans understand what the post is about.
However. By default, WordPress uses the post ID which is not memorable for readers or search engine friendly. A default URL looks something like this: /?p=123
Although I personally use the category in my permalinks, I recommend you just use the post name. That way, if you ever need to change the category of posts, you don’t have to set up 301 redirects.
Upon completion, that’s the last of the core settings configured. However. Before we move on to the next step and install a WordPress theme, let’s take a minute to complete your user profile, retrieve your WordPress username and change the password used to log in to your website.
User Profile Settings
Go to Users > Profile and scroll down to the Name section.
In this section, you can see your username. You’ll notice that it’s grayed out. That’s because, by default, you cannot change your username. But if you really wanted to, you can use a plugin called Username Changer.
Note: Although the plugin hasn’t been officially updated in a while, I use it often and can confirm that it works without causing any issues.
Also, on this screen, you should change the “Display Name Publicly As”. Currently, it’s the same as your username and that’s not good. Hackers can use it to gain access to your blog.
To change the display name, add a first and last name to be used as the author of posts in the relevant fields. This can be your real name or a pen name. Then, open up the Display Name menu and select the name you just entered.
Next, in the Contact Info section add your professional email address. Then, scroll down to the Account Management section and click the Set New Password button.
WordPress will generate a password for you. Make a note of it and keep it somewhere safe. You can enter a password of your own choice that’s easier to remember but do so with caution. Weak passwords are a hacker’s best friend since they are easier to guess, so make sure to use a strong one.
Step 7: Add a WordPress Theme
WordPress themes control how your site looks. They are the web design of your blog. When you install WordPress a free default theme is added for you. It will look something like this:
As you can see it looks very basic. When blogging for business, you’ll definitely want something more visually appealing.
You can improve the look and feel of your blog by adding a new theme. For further instructions, see my guide on how to install a WordPress theme.
There are thousands of free WordPress themes to choose from in the WordPress repository, or you can purchase a premium WordPress theme.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of free themes because you get what you pay for and since you pay nothing for free themes:
- Support is very limited or non-existent
- Free themes are harder to customize
- Developers are more likely to abandon free themes
- Most free themes don’t come with documentation
- It’s not easy to make free themes look like the theme demo
Note: At The Blog Mechanic I believe in transparency. All the free themes above also offer premium versions of their themes. If you choose to purchase one of the premium themes, I may get a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.
For further help selecting the best theme for your blog see my guide on how to choose a WordPress theme – the top 10 things to consider.
Once you have installed and set up your chosen theme, you are ready to add essential WordPress plugins to your blog for things like SEO, security, site speed, spam protection, and more.
Step 8: Add Must Have Plugins
Plugins allow you to extend the functionality of your WordPress blog or website without writing a single line of code. Currently, there are 58,000+ free plugins available in the WordPress repository.
On top of that, there are premium plugins as well. I doubt anyone knows how many there are exactly, but if I had to guess I’d say thousands.
No matter what new feature you want to add to your WordPress blog, someone somewhere has likely created a plugin to help you add it, and that’s the beauty of using WordPress.
I have a step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.
That said, below are 7 must have plugins that I consider to be essential for every WordPress blog – new and old.
1. Wordfence for Security
Because of its popularity, WordPress has become an easy target for hackers. But don’t worry, there are steps you can take to protect your blog against hacks and attacks. Installing the free Wordfence security plugin is just one of them.
Wordfence identifies and blocks malicous traffic and also scans your site every day for known malware and other potential security issues. If a problem is detected, you are notified via email. The plugin comes with default settings that are suitable for most websites, so all you have to do after activating it is turn on the firewall.
For more ways to keep your new blog secure, read my WordPress Security guide.
2. Antispam Bee for Spam Protection
Moderating spam comments can waste several hours or even days of your time – time that could otherwise be spent writing content for your blog. To filter spam comments from legitimate comments, I recommend a free plugin called Antispam Bee. It’s really easy to use. You just install and activate it. Then optionally go to the settings tab and uncheck ‘trust approved commenters’. After that, the plugin will put all comments flagged as spam in the spam folder.
3. Ninja Forms for Contact Forms
Contact forms allow readers of your blog to email you directly and stops spammers from flooding your inbox with unwanted spam emails. The plugin I recommend for contact forms is Ninja Forms. While there are many other contact form plugins available, I have found Ninja Forms to be the best.
4. WP Rocket for Performance
When you first create a blog, WordPress will load fast. But with time, as you add more content, plugins, images, and other media files, it will inevitably slow down, negatively affecting search rankings, user experience, and conversions.
To optimize your WordPress blog and KEEP it loading fast I recommend installing WP Rocket because it’s simply the best caching plugin in my experience.
5. Smush to Optimize Images
Unoptimized images are one of the most common causes of a slow WordPress website and while you can use tools like Photoshop to optimize images for the web it’s much easier and cheaper to use a plugin that will automatically optimize images for you like Smush which is the one I recommend.
6. RankMath for SEO
For most websites, SEO which is short for search engine optimization is an essential part of getting traffic. But WordPress doesn’t come with built-in functionality to help you optimize your content for search engines, so you need to install an SEO plugin to add it.
There are many SEO plugins available. However, RankMath is the one I recommend because the free version includes powerful features that many other plugins charge for such as targeting multiple keywords per post, internal linking suggestions, 404 detection, and more.
7. Updraft for Backups
Website backups give you a quick and easy way to fix your WordPress blog in the event of an unexpected disaster such as a hack, plugin conflict, server crash, or even human error. UpdraftPlus is a free backup plugin used to schedule automated backups and store them safely in an external location such as DropBox and GoogleDrive. And backups can be restored with 1 click.
And that’s it. Once you have installed essential plugins you are ready to write your first blog post.
Step 9: Write Your First Blog Post
I’m often asked by beginner bloggers where they should write their blog content – on a Word document or inside WordPress.
I recommend writing posts inside WordPress because when you copy and paste content from Word to WordPress it causes formatting issues, which will make your content look messy.
WordPress has a built-in editor that is perfect for writing blog posts. It contains all the formatting and text options you need and you don’t have to finish the post in one day, you can save it as a daft and keep working on it until the post is ready to be published.
To write a post in WordPress, go to Posts > Add New to open the post editor.
As seen in the image above, you write your post on the left side of the editor area, and on the right side, you’ll find some important settings for your blog post including categories and tags.
To learn how to use the block editor to write a post see this guide by Compete Themes: how to use the WordPress block editor.
Typically, before launching a new blog you should write at least 10 blog posts so there’s enough content for people to read when they arrive on your site. You’ll need to delete any demo content you may have imported when adding a WordPress theme. And don’t forget to go back to Setting > Reading to let search engines know that your blog is ready to be found online.
Once you have enough content to launch, you need to continue adding new content frequently AND focus on getting website traffic because without traffic you have no way of making money with your new WordPress blog.
Getting Traffic to Your Blog
There are many ways to get traffic to your blog including social media, SEO, paid ads, video marketing, guest blogging, and a whole bunch more.
However. When first starting a blog I don’t recommend trying to learn and do everything at the same time because you’ll likely just end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and as a result, you’ll make little or no progress at all.
Instead, start with one method. Get REALLY good at it and then (and only then) add a second method to the mix. Executing one traffic method effectively will grow your blog much faster than doing several methods badly.
I recommend starting with search engine optimization because more than 53% of all tracked website traffic comes from organic search according to a recent Ahefs study and many other experts including Search Engine Journal.
Here at The Blog Mechanic, 75.9% of all traffic comes from Google search. To learn how to do SEO, check out this beginners guide published by Moz.com: https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
Making Money With Your Blog
Once you start getting traffic to your blog there are lots of different ways to monetize it so you can start making money. But it’s not going to happen overnight.
Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time and patience and in most cases, you need a decent amount of traffic coming to your blog to earn a consistent full-time income.
That being said, some monetization methods allow you to make money sooner than others. Below are the top 3 ways for beginner bloggers to start making money in the fastest time possible.
As an expert in your niche, you likely already have skills and experience that you can sell as a service to website visitors.
If you’re a designer, a programmer, a writer, etc, you can sell done for you freelance services and you don’t need massive amounts of traffic to earn good money from it. People love done for you services because it frees up their time to focus on other things. That’s how I make most of my money at The Blog Mechanic – selling done for you services.
But if you’re an accountant, a marketer, a nutritionist, and more, you can offer consulting services to help people resolve their problems and achieve their personal and business goals.
For most people, services are the fastest path to make money blogging since you don’t need to invest a ton of time upfront creating content like you do when selling digital products. All you need is a simple service information page and a way for potential customers to contact you for more information, or a buy now button to get started immediately if it makes sense to do so.
Another easy way for beginners to make money with WordPress is using Google Adsense to display ads on your blog. The ads are CPC.
CPC stands for “Cost-Per-Click” and as the name suggests, it means Google pays you every time someone clicks on an ad. For example, if your CPC is $0.40 per click and a visitor to your site clicks on an ad once, then you will earn 40 cents from that click (minus any fees).
The downside of using Google Adsense and other advertising networks like Ezoic is that they can slow down WordPress and you need A LOT of website traffic to earn a worthwhile income from ads.
Affiliate marketing is when you recommend other people’s products and services by adding tracked links and banners to your blog. When someone clicks a link or banner and makes a purchase you get paid a commission for referring them.
In some ways, making money with affiliate marketing is easier than selling services because you’re not trading time for money. But you do need significantly higher volumes of traffic to earn a considerable income as an affiliate, so typically, you can make money blogging much faster selling services.
I hope you’ve found this guide on how to start a WordPress blog helpful. If you did, please share it on social media using the share buttons below and let me know in the comments box if you have unanswered questions.