Trying to figure out how to start a blog? I know how difficult it can be for a complete beginner to get started. But I promise you that it’s really not that hard, which is why we decided to write this complete guide for beginners – we will guide you step by step through the entire process; from choosing a domain name and signing up for hosting to installing WordPress in a couple of clicks to choosing a theme and writing your first blog post.
And after you read this guide, you’ll know exactly how to start a blog with WordPress. Even if you don’t know any code. And even if you’ve never made your own website before! I promise. Let’s get into it right away so that you can get started blogging within the next hour.
What Do You Need to Start a Blog? Is it Expensive?
Good news! It’s not expensive to start a blog. But kind of bad news…it’s not 100% free either. You will need to spend a little bit of money, but not much more per month than you spend on your latte at Starbucks.
There are only two things you absolutely need to start your WordPress blog:
- Web Hosting – this is the engine that powers your blog and makes it accessible to people around the world. Don’t worry, good WordPress hosting is cheap.
- A domain name – this is your permanent address on the Internet. For example, this website’s domain name is “alienwp.com”
The hosting provider we recommend, Bluehost, which costs from $5.45 per month when you pay for a year of hosting. And best of all, that host will even give you a domain name for free.
So all in all, you’ll only need to pay around $65 to run your blog for an entire year. Not $65 per month, $65 total! Cheap, right?
Self-hosted WordPress vs WordPress.com
Ok, there’s only one more thing I need to cover before I show you how to start a blog. I’ve been telling you to use WordPress, but it’s actually a bit confusing because there are two versions of WordPress. One is at wordpress.com. It’s free but incredibly limited. You have very little control over your site and can’t monetize your site. I don’t recommend it.
With self-hosted WordPress(AKA wordpress.org), you host your own blog and have full control over every aspect. It’s very easy to use and much more flexible. That’s why I absolutely recommend starting your blog with self-hosted WordPress.
Step 1: Sign Up For Web Hosting
To get started, you need to sign up for web hosting. As I mentioned, this is what powers your site. It’s absolutely essential for running self-hosted WordPress.
For beginners, we recommend Bluehost because:
- It’s affordable
- They give you a free domain name
- You can install WordPress with a single click
For beginners, those three features are the trifecta! Cheap, free domain, and easy installation. Can’t beat it.
If you’d like to see what other hosting companies we recommend then take a look at our complete guide to WordPress hosting where we go into detail about different hosts.
To get started, head to Bluehost and click the Get Started Now button:
On the next screen, you need to choose your plan. As a beginner, you can absolutely pick the cheapest basic plan:
Next up, fill in the new domain box with your desired domain name. Unfortunately, domain names are unique. So make sure you choose a domain name that doesn’t already exist. Bluehost will tell you if the domain is a duplicate:
After you click next, you need to enter your basic account information. It’s pretty self-explanatory!
As you scroll down the page, you’ll see package information next. Here’s where you need to configure some things. First, you should choose how many months you want to pay for in advance. If you pay for 36 months at a time, Bluehost will only charge you $3.95 per month.
But paying for 36 months up front is a lot, so I think it’s a better idea to choose the 12 month plan.
Bluehost will also recommend you pay for lots of upgrades. But you really don’t need these upgrades. So I recommend unchecking all of those boxes to save money. The only one that you might want to add is domain privacy.
Once you uncheck everything, your total price should only be $65.40.
And lastly, you need to enter your credit card details and click Submit. If you don’t want to pay via credit card, you can also click the link for other payment options:
Step 2: Install WordPress on Bluehost
Congrats! You’re almost there. Now, you just need to install WordPress. Don’t worry – you won’t need to know any code. All you need to do is click a few buttons.
Start by signing into your Bluehost cPanel. Bluehost should send you those login details after your payment.
Then, scroll down to the Website section and find the Install WordPress button:
On the next page, make sure your domain is selected (it should be by default) and then click the Check Domain button:
Bluehost will verify your domain name automatically. Once that’s done, you just need to click Install Now on the next screen:
And that’s it! Not too difficult, right? You can find the admin URL for your new WordPress site and view your login details by clicking on View Credentials.
To log in to your WordPress site, just go to “yourdomain.com/wp-admin” and log in with the account details.
Your WordPress dashboard should look like this:
This is the behind-the-scenes, private area where you’ll control every aspect of your blog.
Step 3: Choose a Theme for Your Blog
Next, you need to choose a theme for your blog. Your theme is essentially your blog’s “clothing”. WordPress powers everything underneath, but your theme affects how your site looks to the outside world.
There are tens of thousands of WordPress themes out there, so it’s hard to recommend just one.
We put together a list of the best minimal blog themes. But you can also browse the wordpress.org theme directory to find nice free themes.
How to Install a WordPress Theme
To add a new theme for your blog, you need to navigate to Appearance → Themes from inside your WordPress dashboard:
Then, click the Add New button at the top.
On the next screen, you can preview all of the themes in the free wordpress.org theme directory. You can easily search and filter to find the perfect theme for your blog.
And if you want to preview what any theme looks on your site, all you need to do is hit the Preview button when hovering over a theme:
And once you’ve found a theme you love, you just need to hit the Install button to add it to your site. Just make sure to hit the Activate button after installing it to activate the new theme.
How to Customize Your Theme
Once you activate your theme, you can customize how parts of it look by using something called the WordPress Customizer. It lets you make changes and preview them in real time. To use it, just click on Appearance → Customize:
Step 4: Write Your First Posts and Pages
Now that you’ve got a theme, you’re ready to start producing content! By default, WordPress lets you create two types of content:
- Posts – think of these like blog post entries. They work like any blog you’ve ever read.
- Pages – these are better for static entries. For example, if you want to create an About Me page, you should use a page instead of a post.
To create a new post, you just need to go to Posts → Add New in your dashboard:
You can enter a title for your post, write your body text, and add categories. If you want to add images or videos, click the Add Media button. And if you want to format your text, you can use the buttons at the top. They function pretty similarly to formatting Word documents.
And once you’re ready to share your post with the world, you just need to hit the Publish button.
Creating pages is an almost identical process. You just need to make sure to go to Pages instead of Posts:
Step 5: Adding Plugins
Plugins add all sorts of cool functionality to your new blog. They aren’t absolutely necessary, but they are incredibly helpful. Pretty much all WordPress sites use at least a few plugins.
To add new plugins, you go to Plugins → Add New:
You’ll see a similar interface to when you picked your theme.
You can search for specific plugins or browse the most popular plugins.
It’s hard to give specific recommendations for plugins to choose because the exact plugins you need will depend on what functionality you want. But some good general plugins that all WordPress blogs should have are:
- SEO plugin – Yoast SEO is good. It helps people find your site in Google search.
- Caching plugin – good for making your site load quickly.
- Backup plugin – good for keeping your data backed up and safe. BackupBuddy is a good one.
- Contact form plugin – helps people get in touch with you.
You can browse around and see which plugins look cool. Just make sure not to install too many WordPress plugins lest you slow your blog down.
Step 6: Enjoy Your New Blog!
While it will definitely take you some time to feel like a WordPress master, you now have a fully functioning blog. It’s all your own! And if you followed this guide, it should’ve taken you less than an hour to start a blog.
I hope you enjoyed my guide for how to start a blog. And I can’t wait to see what websites you come up with!