Are you looking to create a blog? We know that the thought of launching a blog can be scary especially if you’re not a tech savvy person. But the good news is that starting a blog is way easier than you think, regardless of your skill set.
Blogging platforms like WordPress makes it super easy for anyone to start a blog without knowing a single line of code. Once you have setup the blog, you can create content in a post editor that looks very similar to Microsoft Word. You can customize the design, look, and feel of your blog with an easy to use drag & drop interface.
In other words, starting a blog in 2018 is A LOT easier than starting one 10 years ago.
In this step by step guide, we’ll walk you through how to start a blog from the grounds up in less than an hour.
To make it easy for you, we have organized this guide into 4 different sections.
- I. How to Create a Blog – The Technical Guide (Step-by-Step)
- II. Growing Your Blog with Must Have Blogging Tools
- III. Blogging Best Practices and Recommendations
- IV. FAQs
I. How to Create a Blog – The Technical Guide (Step-by-Step)
While there are dozens of different blogging platforms out there, we recommend using WordPress because it doesn’t require any technical skills to create a blog.
WordPress powers 30% of all websites on the internet. The beauty of WordPress is that you can easily customize your blog’s appearance and extend its features using plugins (apps) with just a few clicks.
To start a WordPress blog, you don’t need to know any code. We’ll walk you through every step of starting a blog in this tutorial, so you could be up and running in less than an hour. All you have to do is follow our step by step guide below.
Step 1: Choosing a Blogging Platform – Self-hosted WordPress
As a beginner, it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed with the choices of different blogging platforms. To make matters worst, there are two different types of WordPress available.
There’s WordPress.com which is a hosting solution, and then there’s the popular self-hosted WordPress.org platform that every professional blogger loves.
We recommend using the self-hosted WordPress.org platform to everyone because it’s a truly superior blogging platform.
The main difference between self-hosted WordPress and others is that it gives you full freedom and control over your site. You can customize the look and feel as needed. You can monetize your website however you like. You can even add an online store to your blog.
Last but not least, no body can delete your blog just because you didn’t follow their terms of service. See this guide to see the full differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
Now that we have chosen the platform, let’s take a look at what do you need to start a WordPress blog.
Step 2: Purchase a Domain Name and a Hosting Account
To start a WordPress blog, you’ll need to own a domain name and a web hosting account. This is needed for creating any type of website.
If you’re new to the web space, below is the definition of a domain name and web hosting.
Domain name: Your domain name is your blog’s address on the internet, like Google.com or IsItWP.com. It’s what your customers type in their browsers to access your website. A domain name normally costs around $14.99 per year, but we’ll show you how to get it for free later in this article.
Web hosting: Your web hosting account is where your blog’s content and files are stored. Think of it like your website’s house. When a visitor tries to access your blog by typing your web address (or domain name), they’ll be directed to your website files stored in your web hosting server. Web hosting typically costs $7.99 per year.
When you’re first starting your blog, the combined cost of domain and hosting can seem like quite a lot.
That’s why we’ve worked out a deal with Bluehost to offer our users a free domain name, free SSL, and over 60% off on WordPress hosting.
Bluehost is one of the largest hosting companies in the world. They have been involved in the WordPress community since 2005, and they are an officially recommended hosting provider by WordPress.org.
Note: We believe in full transparency. If you purchase hosting using our referral link, then we will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. You’ll actually get a discount on hosting + a free domain + free SSL. We can get a commission from just about any hosting company, but we recommend products that we truly believe will add value to our readers.
To start your WordPress blog, head over to Bluehost website and click the Get Started Now button.
On the next page, you’ll now be asked to choose a plan. Since you’re just getting started, you can choose the basic plan that also includes a free domain and free SSL. You can always upgrade your account as your site grows.
You can now either choose an existing domain you have or purchase a new domain for free. We recommend getting a new domain anyways since it’s free.
You’ll now be prompted to enter your account information. For easy registration, you can sign in with Google with just a couple of clicks.
After entering the details, scroll down the page until you find the package information box. You can select the basic plan for 12 months, 24 months or 36 months. You can also see that a few addons are preselected which increases the total price. You can uncheck these addons because you won’t be needing these right away. You can always add them later if needed.
Note: Choosing the 36 months plan will get you the best value for your money!
Once you have configured your plan, scroll down the page further to enter your payment details. You will need to Agree to their Terms of Service and then, click Submit.
You’ve successfully subscribed to a hosting plan. You will be asked to create a password for your account. After that, you’ll receive an email with details on how to log in to your web hosting control panel (cPanel) where you can manage everything from hosting files to emails and support.
Step 3: Install WordPress on Your Web Host
With Bluehost, you don’t have to go through a separate WordPress installation process because Bluehost now does it by default. All you have to do is to choose your WordPress theme, specify the name and tagline for your blog, and you’ll be ready to get started with WordPress.
After subscribing to your hosting plan, you’ll now be prompted to choose a WordPress theme. You can pick just about anything on this step because you can always change your theme later (we’ll show you how to do this in a later step of this tutorial). The most important part is to start building your blog so go ahead and choose any theme.
You’ll be then asked to choose the name and tagline for your blog.
After specifying the details, click Next. Bluehost will now automatically install WordPress for you. Once it’s done, it’ll show you a screen like this:
You can login to your site by appending wp-admin to your URL. Here’s how your WordPress login URL should look like:
You can now log into your WordPress blog with the credentials sent to your email address.
Step 4: Change Your WordPress Theme
Now that you’ve logged into WordPress, changing the visual appearance of your blog is easy. All you have to do is find the right WordPress theme and install it on your WordPress blog.
The default WordPress theme is good, but if you want a different look and feel for your site, then you can find an alternative theme from the official theme directory and install it on your site.
But before you choose a random free theme for your blog, take a look at our list of top WordPress themes and decide which one would be the best choice.
If you choose a premium theme, then it has to be downloaded from the theme vendor’s site and uploaded to your WordPress.
If you decide to go with a free WordPress theme from the official theme repository, then you can search and install it right from your WordPress dashboard without having to download it to your computer.
To install a free theme, navigate to Appearance » Themes in your WordPress dashboard. Then click the Add New Theme box.
You will see some featured themes in your dashboard. Before installing a theme, you can preview it by clicking on the thumbnails displayed.
You can also filter themes based on layouts, features, and blog niches by clicking on the Feature Filter button.
In the right hand corner, type the theme name in the search bar. Once you’ve found the right theme, hover on its image and then click the Install button. Next, you need to click Activate to change your blog’s appearance.
Step 5: Write Your First Blog Post
Now that you’ve changed your website’s appearance, you’re ready to create your first blog post.
In the left menu of your WordPress dashboard, you will see two similar options which can often confuse new users: Posts and Pages.
Choose Posts if you want to create a blog post that appears in a chronological order in your WordPress blog.
Choose Pages if you want to create standalone pages in your WordPress blog such as About Us page, Contact page, etc.
To create your first blog post, head over to your post editor by clicking Posts » Add New.
You will need to add a title to your post and start writing content in your post editor. To upload images to your blog, all you have to do is drag and drop your images to the text editor from your computer. Alternatively, you can use the Add Media button to upload your images and videos.
WordPress organizes your blog posts with categories and tags. Take a look at the difference between categories and tags.
Once you’ve finished writing your post, you can publish it.
Step 6: Extend Your Blog With Plugins
Now that you’ve learned how to draft your first blog post, you probably want to know how to enhance your blog by adding features like a contact form, photo gallery, etc.
With WordPress, you can find thousands of free plugins (apps) that let you easily add additional features to your blog without having to touch a single line of code. Just like WordPress themes, you can easily find and install free plugins from the WordPress plugin repository within your WordPress dashboard.
All you have to do is to visit the Plugins » Add New page and use the search box in the right corner to find a plugin. Once you find the plugin you’re looking for, click the Install Now button and then click Activate.
II. Growing Your Blog with Must Have Blogging Tools
Having the right set of plugins in your toolbox is necessary to expand the core features of your WordPress blog.
It’s true that every blog is unique in terms of audience, content, design and features. But there are some common plugins that almost every blog will have to install. Since it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed with all the different plugins available for WordPress that do almost the same thing, we have hand picked the best ones below.
We use these plugins on our own sites and recommend our users to install them. For your convenience, along with the plugins’ name, we’ve also explained their use and provided the links to the pro and free versions.
- Build contact forms with WPForms – Pro | Free
- Connect your site with Google Analytics using MonsterInsights – Pro | Free
- Improve your SEO with Yoast SEO – Pro | Free
- Add an extra layer of security with Sucuri
- Take a regular backup with Updraft Plus – Pro | Free
- Improve WordPress performance with W3 Total Cache
- Prevent spam comments with Akismet – Pro | Free
- Grow your subscribers and sales with OptinMonster
Since a detailed explanation about all the plugins will be out of scope, we’ll explain how to add some essential features on your blog with the plugins listed above.
- How to add a contact form with WPForms
- How to connect your blog to Google Analytics with MonsterInsights
- How to improve your SEO with Yoast SEO
1. How to Add a Contact Form With WPForms
Regardless of your blog’s topic, including a contact form on your blog is necessary. Adding a contact form to your blog makes it easy for your visitors to contact you.
WPForms is the best contact forms plugin for WordPress beginners. It lets you create a contact form with a drag and drop builder and allows you to publish it anywhere on your site with ease.
A few more benefits of using WPForms are:
- Create any type of online forms hassle free such as contact forms, donation forms, registration forms, signup forms and more…
- All forms you create with WPForms will be 100% responsive meaning it works on mobile, tablets and desktop.
- Seamlessly integrate your form with your favorite email marketing tools or third-party web apps.
- And more…
Read the complete WPForms review.
To create a form on your blog, first off, you’ll have to install WPForms by navigating to Plugins » Add New. Search forthe WPForms plugin and when it shows up, click Install Now, and then Activate.
You’ll now be directed to the beautiful welcome page of WPForms. You can either click the Create Your First Form button or click WPForms » Add New to create your first form.
Next, you’ll be prompted to choose a template. You can select one of the premade templates or start with a blank form. If you want, you can give a custom name to your first contact form.
WPForms makes it easy to build a form with drag and drop. Click on the appropriate form fields in the left panel to add them to your form. You can also easily re-arrange them and even remove any unnecessary fields with ease. After making the necessary changes click Save.
Next, go to your post or page editor and click the Add Form button above the text editor.
You will need to select the right form you want to publish and then click Add Form and then click Publish.
That’s it! You’ve now successfully published a contact form.
Want to create a contact form the easy way? Then, get started with WPForms today.
Want to start with the free version instead? Try WPForms Lite.
2. How to Connect Your Blog to Google Analytics With MonsterInsights
If you want to grow your blog traffic, then you need to understand how people are finding your blog and what they do when they’re on your blog.
The easiest way to track user interaction on your site is using Google Analytics. Google Analytics is the best tracking solution for websites, and the best thing is it’s free to use.
The MonsterInsights plugin makes it easy for you to setup Google Analytics on your WordPress blog. Plus, it also lets you make use of the full possibility of Google Analytics tracking, like file downloads tracking, ads tracking, form submissions tracking, ecommerce transactions tracking, etc. without having to touch a single line of code.
Read the complete MonsterInsights review.
To set up Google Analytics on your blog, head over to Plugins » Add New. Search for MonsterInsights and when the plugin shows up, click Install Now and then, activate.
Head over to Insights » Settings to authenticate your blog with Google Analytics. Click Authenticate with your Google account.
On the next screen, select your Google account.
Next, allow MonsterInsights to manage your account.
Finally, select the right website profile for your blog and click Complete Authentication.
After authentication, you can easily find how your website is doing by visiting Insights » Reports.
Get started with MonsterInsights today to easily set up Google Analytics on your site.
Want to start with the free version instead? Try MonsterInsights Lite.
3. How to Improve Your SEO With Yoast SEO
Want to attract targeted audience to your blog? The best way to attract targeted visitors is to drive more search engine traffic, also known as organic traffic by improving your website’s SEO.
According to OptinMonster, SEO is the practice of increasing your website traffic by getting your web pages to rank higher in search engine results. Visitors who arrive at your site via search engines are called organic traffic.
SEO can get technical and complicated but thanks to the free SEO plugins and WordPress SEO guides, it has gotten quite easy even for beginners.
While you can find tons of different SEO plugins out there, we use and recommend Yoast SEO. It is the most popular SEO plugin in the market.
With Yoast SEO, you can easily add meta tags and titles to your WordPress blog posts / pages. It also forces you to choose a focus keyword for your blog posts and pages to make sure you’re using the keyword appropriately on that page.
In your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins » Add New. Search for Yoast in the search bar that you can find in the top right hand corner. The Yoast SEO plugin will now have appeared on your page. Click Install and then Activate.
In your WordPress dashboard, you can now find the SEO menu in the left taskbar. Simply click on it. If the plugin detects any SEO error, you can fix it by following the suggestions provided.
Setting up Yoast SEO is easy using the configuration wizard. Simply click on configuration wizard to get started.
In the first step, you’ll be asked whether you need to configure Yoast SEO yourself or hire an expert to do it for you. Select CONFIGURE YOAST SEO to do it yourself.
In the next step, you’ll be asked whether your site is ready to be indexed. You can choose option A. Then, click Next.
You need to choose the website type in the next step. For you, it’s blog. Then, click Next.
For Google’s knowledge graph card, you’ll be asked whether the blog is run by a person or a brand. If Person is selected, you’ll have to specify the name of the person. If Company is selected, you’ll have to add the logo as well. Then, click Next.
You can now enter your social media profile URL in its appropriate field. Then, click Next.
In the Search engine visibility step, you don’t have to change the default settings because they’re set up to index your posts and pages. Simply click Next.
Author archives might create duplicate content issue for search engines. To prevent it, you can disable it if your blog doesn’t have multiple authors.
Next, you’ll be prompted to connect your website to Google Search Console, which is a free tool that gives you detailed insights into how your blog content is being perceived by Google.
Next, you can set up the title for your blog, and then, click Next.
You can now exit the configuration wizard because other steps are created for promotional purposes such as signing up for the Yoast’s newsletter.
Get started with Yoast SEO today to improve your blog’s SEO.
Want to start with the free version instead? Try the free Yoast SEO.
III. Blogging Best Practices and Recommendations
Now that you have learnt how to start a blog, it’s worth taking a moment to learn some blogging best practices that will help you make your blog successful. These blogging best practices are based on years of experience from our team and other blogging experts.
- Blog with a purpose
- Choose the right topic to blog
- Unlearn conventional writing lessons
- Drive traffic to your blog
- Resources to learn and master WordPress
Blog With a Purpose
When it comes to blogging, having a purpose is critical, or you’ll lose the direction and inspiration as time passes. When you blog with a purpose, your readers will understand it because it shines through in your writing.
Here are some of the reasons why people blog:
1. Journal/Personal Blogging
Some people blog to document everything they have going on, so they can keep track of progress. It helps you connect with likeminded people in the community and build longlasting relationship with them.
2. Make Money Blogging
A lot of people start a blog with a single goal: make money online.
Your blog can be your semi-passive income source, meaning you can earn money even when you’re not actively updating it. Some of the ways you can monetize your blog are:
- Advertising: Sell ad space on your blog and generate a steady stream of income from it.
- Affiliate marketing: Refer products to your audience and generate revenue when they purchase using your referral links.
- Sell products: Create a product that you know your audience will love and sell it on your blog.
3.Establish Yourself as an Authority
In this crowded digital era, blogging can help you demonstrate your expertise and establish your authority. In order to do this, you’ll have to keep an eye on trends in your niche and consistently blog about it.
Be sure to offer tips and recommendations to your audience on a regular basis, and let them realize that your blog is a go-to resource when it comes to everything related to your niche.
Choose the Right Topic to Blog
When starting a blog, it’s imperative to realize that blogging isn’t always going to be rainbows and unicorns. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.
To run a blog on a long term basis, you’ll need to be persistent. And to be persistent, you’ll need to consider a few different things when choosing a topic for your blog.
- Passion: For persistent blogging, you need to choose a topic that you’re really passionate about. You can’t continue writing about a topic that doesn’t excite you.
- Traffic volume: Just because you love a topic doesn’t always mean it’s the best one for starting a blog. If no one else wants to read a blog on the topic you’re about to choose, then you’ll need to reconsider the topic before jumping in.
- Purpose: Consider the purpose of your blog when you decide on a topic. For instance, if you want to make a living from advertising, but the niche is too narrow with low traffic volume, then you might want to expand your niche or change your monetization strategy.
Unlearn Conventional Writing Lessons
Blogging is a bit different from conventional writing. If you’re an aspiring blogger, then you might have to unlearn a few things that you were taught in your English class.
For example, when you’re blogging or writing for the web, it’s advised to craft short sentences and even shorter paragraphs, so readers can quickly consume your article. This is mainly because people have shorter attention span on the web.
Another difference is that print editors often recommend writers to write in third person. However, bloggers are expected to write in first person voice. By writing in the first person voice, you’re talking directly to your readers just like you would with your friends.
Aside from talking to your readers directly, you’ll also have to optimize your blog posts for search engines. This will help search engines discover and index your website, so you ca attract more search engine traffic, also known as organic traffic to your blog.
Not sure what type of blog posts you should write?
Don’t worry! We’ll explain a few different types of blog posts that are proven to work.
- Tutorials and how-to guides: Explain how to do a tedious task step by step, in an easy to follow style. This particular guide that you’re reading right now is a perfect example of a tutorial.
- Listicles: List posts are always among the most shared content on the internet because they’re easy to follow.
- Latest industry news: Keep an eye on the latest industry news and blog about it. You can even explain what each trend means to an average reader, and how they can embrace the changes in your industry.
- Controversial subjects: Talking about controversy can bring some readers to your blog but be cautious! Controversies can be highly emotional. Make sure you’re not hurting sentiments so choose your words wisely.
Looking for more blog post ideas? Read 73 types of blog posts that are proven to work.
Drive Traffic to Your Blog
Do you want to bring life to your blog? It goes without saying a blog without readers and engagement is a dead blog. There is no value in maintaining a blog if no one wants to consume your content.
When you try to bring some traffic, always try to attract the right segment of readers who love the type of content you publish. Otherwise, they won’t stick around, which won’t be profitable for you in the long run.
A few different ways to drive traffic to your blog are:
- Blog commenting: Actively comment on popular blogs in your niche and get involved in the conversations. When users click on your name, they’ll be directed to your blog provided that the blog allows backlink from commenter’s name.
- Email outreach: Create a list of bloggers in your industry. Send an email outreach requesting them to provide a backlink to your site. With the right strategies, this tactic is effective in building backlinks and driving traffic.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO enables you to grow your website traffic by getting your blog posts to rank higher in search engines. With onsite and offsite SEO tactics, you can drive more targeted organic traffic to your site.
- Social media: Encourage your readers to share your blog posts to social media. This can help you drive social media users to your site.
Grow Your Blog to Next Level
Now that you’ve learned how to set up a blog, create your first post and drive some traffic to your blog, the next thing you should focus on is laying the foundation for growing your blog to the next level.
For example if you find some traffic trickling in, then you can set up a goal for driving first 1k monthly visitors or first 100 daily visitors. Once you achieve it, then you can expand your goals to drive better results.
Growing your traffic and revenue can take time. Some ways to speed up the growth of your blog are.
1. Start an Email List
70% of first-time visitors will never return to your blog once they leave.
That means you’re losing a big chunk of visitors and marketing efforts daily unless you’re building an email list. Email marketing is the best way to connect with your website visitors.
2. Exponentially Grow Your List
Most default signup forms you create from your list building tools are boring. This makes lead generation less effective, which also significantly slow down the growth of your email list.
With OptinMonster, you can create beautiful optin forms with ease that are proven to drive in more signups. It also comes with dozens of targeting options, so you can display the form to the right user on the right page of your blog at the right time without frustrating them.
3. Invest in Facebook Ads
Investing in Facebook ads is probably the easiest way to drive traffic to your site. You can retarget your first-time visitors on Facebook with ads and encourage them to return often to your site.
Resources to Learn and Master WordPress
The WordPress community is huge, so you can find tons of different resources on the web that will help you learn and master WordPress.
Some of the best and free WordPress resources you can find on the web are:
- IsItWP: At IsItWP, we regularly publish WordPress tutorials, WordPress theme and plugin roundups, reviews, WordPress deals and a lot more.
- WPBeginner: WPBeginner is the largest free WordPress resource on the web for WordPress beginners. They regularly publish useful tutorials, videos, coupon codes for WordPress products and a lot more.
- WPForms blog: If you want to read tutorials that help you grow your business using the WordPress platform, you need to follow the WPForms blog. You can also find tips and recommended practices to build any types of online WordPress forms.
- MonsterInsights blog: The MonsterInsights blog is an excellent resource you can follow to get a handle on Google Analytics best practices and recommendations.
Having helped thousands of users start a blog, we’ve found that people ask the same sort of questions again and again. This is why we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions, so you can easily start your blog.
How does a blog differs from a website?
A blog is just a type of website that publishes articles in a chronological order. Blog articles are usually published using a blogging platform like WordPress, so anyone who can’t code can start a blog with ease. Once the blog is set up, you can easily start creating content in your post editor and publish it as easy as clicking a button.
Can I create a blog without WordPress?
Yes! There are dozens of blogging platforms such as Blogger, WordPress.com, TypePad. But we always recommend you to start a blog on self-hosted WordPress because it gives you full freedom to build a blog the way you want with no restrictions.
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org (self-hosted WordPress)?
WordPress.com is a free blogging platform that lets you kick start a blog with ease, but comes with a lot of restriction such as limited theme availability and limited storage space. Plus, the free platform doesn’t allow you to monetize your website.
WordPress.org also known as self-hosted WordPress requires you to own a domain name and a hosting account to run a blog. With a self-hosted platform, you get full control over your blog, monetize your blog the way you want, provides an unlimited theme and customization options and unlimited storage space depending on your hosting provider.
How much does it cost to start a blog?
To start a blog on self-hosted WordPress, you’ll have to purchase a domain name for $14.99 per year and a hosting account, which costs around $7.99 per month. Altogether, starting a blog will cost as low as $110.87 annually.
You can find thousands of free themes and plugins for your blog. However, if you prefer premium themes and plugins, the running cost of your blog may go high.
Can I start a blog anonymously?
If you want to publicize a blog but remain anonymous, then you need to make sure to protect your domain with WHOIS privacy turned on. For anonymous blog, often people use a pseudonym/nickname to write under. You can even create a unique email just for writing your blog.
What should I start a blog about?
While you can start a blog on any topic, it’s advised to start a blog on a topic that you’re really passionate about. Or you can even start a personal blog, documenting your data-to-day life and reach likeminded people on the web.
How can I make money by blogging?
There are a lot of different ways to generate revenue from your blog. Some of them are:
- Sell ad spaces directly or by using a third-party vendor like Google AdSense.
- Affiliate marketing.
- Sell your own products.
- Offer services to your clients.
Can I run a multi-author blog?
Yes. WordPress comes with 5 default user roles that will help you mange and control permissions for each author on your blog.
Can I add an eCommerce storefront to my blog?
Yes! Adding an eCommerce storefront allows you to easily start selling physical or digital products right from your blog. Just install a plugin like WooCommerce and integrate an eCommerce storefront into your blog so you can start selling your products.
Can I create standalone pages on my WordPress blog?
Of course. With WordPress you can create standalone pages like About page and Contact page on your blog.
What are categories and tags in WordPress?
The content of your WordPress blog is organized by categories and tags.
Categories are basically a broad grouping of your blog posts. Think of it as general topics you cover or a table of content of your blog. As they’re hierarchical, you can have as many as subcategories for each one.
Tags are meant to describe specific details of your post. They can be used to micro-categorize your content and they’re not hierarchical.
How can I learn more about WordPress terminologies?
Refer to this WordPress Glossary Terms for Beginners whenever you’re puzzled by strange WordPress terms or abbreviations.
Can I start a blog in multiple languages?
With WordPress, you can easily start a multilingual blog with a multilingual plugin such as Polylang. You might also want to choose a WordPress theme that supports the multilingual plugin you want to use.
We hope this guide helped you start a WordPress blog. Have fun blogging!
The post How to Start a Blog in 2018 – Step by Step (with Pictures) appeared first on IsItWP – WordPress Technology Lookup Tool.
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