Build a WordPress blog from scratch
Start a blog

How to create a WordPress blog from scratch

In my post, I am going to show you how you can create a WordPress blog. If you have never blogged before, it looks complicated. Where do you start? What do you do first? I am going to write a detailed post about each step you need to take to get your blog started.

Before we get started, I am going to show you how to build a website where you have 100% control. There are services that offer websites for free. You are free to choose one of those services, but if you are serious about creating a blog, then you will want 100% control of your website. Free websites have limitations, as you build your site, these limitations will frustrate you.

You have probably seen WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and are wondering why there are two versions of WordPress. WordPress.com is a paid service, you can use this service to build a website. WordPress.org is free software you can use to build your site. My post will show you how to use WordPress.org to create a WordPress blog.

This is WordPress.com.

WordPress.com

This is WordPress.org.

WordPress.org

Let’s create a WordPress blog.

Picking a topic for your blog

For me, this is the most important step of your blog journey. I recommend you spend time thinking about what you want your blog to be about. You will see the word ‘niche’ a lot when you start blogging, niche means topic.

If you are serious about blogging then you will be creating a lot of content. If you choose a niche that you don’t have much interest in or are not very knowledgable. You will struggle to motivate yourself to write blog posts.

You don’t have to be an expert, but you need to know more than the average person. There are people every day deciding to start something new. The internet is full of people looking for solutions to problems. If you can help people find solutions, you have the beginnings of a great website.

Think about what have you been searching on the internet for over the last year or so? What did you learn from your searches? What do friends and family come to you for advice about? Is there a topic you enjoy talking about?

Now you have an idea or two, right? Let’s move on to the next step.

Testing your blog ideas

Before you start your blog, I recommend you test your idea out on a forum. Forums are places where people go to share ideas and get answers to specific questions. The forum I love to use is called Quora. It covers every subject you can think of.

Here is their homepage.

quora.com

Sign up for an account and start looking for topics that are relevant to the blog idea you have. Follow those topics so that they appear in your feed and then look for questions you can give in-depth answers to.

When you start answering questions, Quora will start forwarding questions to you that they think you can answer based on what you have been doing since you opened your account. You will also have people on Quora requesting you to answer their questions.

After you have answered a few questions, go back to check how many views and upvotes your answers have got. If you are getting views and upvotes, that is fantastic. These are indicators that there is an audience for your blog.

I have written many answers on Quora. My most popular one was answering a question about using Amazon images on websites. Here are the view count and upvotes I got.

One of my answers on Quora.com

My answer has had 6.5k views, 17 upvotes, and one share. This is a topic that interests many people. I also have a link back to my website in this answer.

What you need to start a blog

To create a WordPress blog, you need three things. Hosting, a domain name, and WordPress software. A domain name and hosting you have to pay for, the WordPress software is free.

A domain name is the address of your website, the URL. For example, the domain name of my site is ‘newblogr.com’.

Hosting is storage for your website folders and files. When you go to a website on the internet, it is a hosting company that has the equipment to show the site. Without hosting you can’t get your site on the internet.

Once you have purchased hosting, you can install the WordPress software for free and start building your site.

Let’s move on to the next stage.

Picking and buying your domain name

Choosing a name for your new website is difficult. You will have ideas already but when you go to buy that ‘name’, you will find that someone has bought it already.

When choosing a name for your blog, try to keep it short. Easier said than done I know, but you want people to remember it. If it is too long or has dashes in the middle, it will be hard to remember. Try to choose a name no more than three syllables without dashes.

Think long term, you want to build a brand. This going to be your baby, something you are going to be proud of. It needs a name to reflect that.

I had a hard time finding an available name for my website, everything I wanted was taken.

Nameboy – free domain name generator

Here is an excellent tool to help you find a domain name, it is Nameboy.com. I use it to find available domain names, I don’t use it to buy domain names. I show where to buy your domain names later.

Here is their homepage.

Nameboy domain name generator

To use Nameboy, type one or two keywords that are to do with your blog idea in the box. After a few seconds, you get a list of available domain names that have those keywords.

As an example, I typed ‘Start Blog’ and got these suggestions. These are domain names that are available with .com. I recommend getting a .com domain if you are looking to go global with your website.

Nameboy blog name suggestions

Nameboy will forward you on to Bluehost to buy a domain with hosting if you click on any of the domain names on the list. I recommend you buy your domain name and hosting separately.

If you buy your domain and hosting together and decide to move companies later, it is difficult to do. The hosting company will lock the domain name and you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get it unlocked. The renewal fees for domains and hosting are also high.

Namecheap – Domain name seller

I buy my domain names from a company called ‘Namecheap.com‘ (*paid link). I have purchased all my domain names through them. Here is their homepage.

Namecheap.com homepage

To start, enter your required domain name and add .com to the end and select the orange search link.

On the next page, you get confirmation of the availability of your domain name with an option to purchase. As you can see a domain name costs just $11.00 a year, less than a dollar a month.

Namecheap summary page

To purchase, select ‘Add to cart’. On the next page, Namecheap will offer extra products to you. You don’t need any of them, view your cart and make your purchase. Now you have your domain name, no one else can use this name.

Namecheap upsells

After you make your purchase and have an account with Namecheap, your domain will appear in your domain list. Make a note of when your domain will expire, you need to renew it before it expires to stop someone else buying your domain name.

Namecheap dashboard

Let’s move on to the next step to create a WordPress blog.

Purchasing hosting for your blog

Hosting is basically a computer server somewhere that stores your website folders and files. When someone clicks on a link or types your domain name into a browser, the hosting company will display your website on the internet.

There are also many hosting packages. For new bloggers, shared hosting is fine. It is the cheapest package. Shared hosting means that the hosting company will put a number of websites on the same server. This is not a problem when you don’t have many posts or visitors to your site. As you grow your site, you can upgrade to a better hosting package later.

Hosting companies offer huge discounts to new customers, the problem arises when it is time to renew, the price doubles or sometimes triples. Hosting companies do not offer discounts to existing customers. Therefore, take your time researching hosting companies.

There are so many hosting companies now, I will recommend the hosting companies I use, but I also recommend checking out others. I haven’t tried them all. Apart from price, look at uptime, support, and site speed.

Uptime

Uptime is how long your site is live on the internet. You don’t want to sign up for hosting and find out later that they have a bad server that stops your site showing on the internet. Look for hosting companies that guarantee an uptime of over 99%.

Support

Support is important if you are new to blogging, things are going to happen on your site that you need technical assistance with. Choose a hosting company that has good support.

Site speed

Site speed is measured by the time it takes for your website to show on the internet. If you have a hosting company with slow site speed, visitors to your site are going to get bored waiting and will look elsewhere.

Here is an example of a review site that has listed the important factors when choosing a hosting company. Let me make it clear that I did not do this list or can give any guarantees about the authenticity of it, I am using it as an example.

Hosting company comparison

Hosting companies I use to create a WordPress blog

I have three websites and use three different hosting companies. I have purchased shared hosting packages from Hostgator, Bluehost, and Webhostface.

Hostgator, I have used for about three years now and have been more than happy with their service. Their introductory price is competitive but their renewal price is high. To check out their latest hosting package prices visit their homepage at www.hostgator.com (*paid link).

create a WordPress blog with Hostgator

Bluehost is another hosting company I have been using. I have been with them for over a year now and again, I am happy with their service. They offer a discount to new customers. You can check out their latest offers on their homepage at www.bluehost.com (*paid link).

Create a WordPress blog with Bluehost

Webhostface is a new hosting company that I have been with for nearly a year now. They offer an 80% discount to new customers, because of this great discount I went for a better hosting package, and I am happy with the service. To check out their latest new customer discounts, visit their homepage at www.webhostface.com (*paid link).

Create a WordPress blog with Webhostface

All the hosting companies above make it easy to create a WordPress blog.

Connecting your domain name with your hosting company

When your domain name is put into the address bar of a browser, the browser needs to know where to go to get the folder and files for your website. The signposts for your browser are called nameservers. Each hosting company will have unique nameservers.

After you purchase your hosting package, they will send you the names of their nameservers. For example, here are Hostgator’s nameservers.

Hostgator's nameservers

There are two nameservers. Once you have these, you need to go back to your Namecheap account. The company where you purchased your domain name. In your account, find your domain name and select the ‘Manage’ link.

Manage your domain in Namecheap

On the next page, look for the ‘Nameserver’ section, and update them to match your hosting companies nameservers. Once you update the nameservers, you will see a message that it will take 48 hours to complete the change. In my experience, it doesn’t take more than 24 hours.

Updating your nameservers in Namecheap

Once the nameservers have changed, your domain and hosting are connected. Your site is live! If you type your domain name in your browser address bar, you will see a homepage set by your hosting company.

For a more detailed walkthrough on how to update nameservers, check out my ‘How do I change the nameservers for my domain name?‘ post.

Now you have your live site, it is time to create a WordPress blog, first, we need to install the WordPress software. Let’s do that next.

Installing WordPress on your site

After you purchase your hosting package you will get an email from them. In this email, there is a link to your Cpanel. The Cpanel is like the back office of your website. It is in this Cpanel that we can install the WordPress software. In the email from your hosting company, they will include your Cpanel username and password. Click on the link to your Cpanel and log in using the given details.

Here is a screenshot of the Cpanel on Hostgator.

Hostgator Cpanel

Installing the WordPress software in Hostgator is easy. To start, find the WordPress installer icon and select that to start the installation.

For a detailed walkthrough, please check out my ‘How to install WordPress in Cpanel on Hostgator‘ post.

When you sign in to your account on Bluehost, you come to a homepage. You can start installing WordPress from here.

Create a WordPress blog with Bluehost

For a detailed walkthrough, please check out my ‘How to install WordPress in your Bluehost Cpanel‘ post.

Here is a screenshot of the Cpanel in Webhostface. To install WordPress, scroll down to the ‘Software’ section and select the ‘Softaculous Apps installer’ icon.

Cpanel in Webhostface

Once WordPress is installed, you will see a link to your website and another link to access your WordPress admin dashboard. I recommend you open both links and then bookmark them. You will be using these two links a lot from now on.

This is where it starts getting exciting. You have a live website and with the WordPress software, now you can create a WordPress blog for the world to see.

Here is a screenshot of the WordPress admin dashboard.

WordPress dashboard

Before you start writing content, let’s set up a few things on WordPress first.

After WordPress installation set up

I am going to show you a list of things you should do to get your WordPress blog ready for launching.

Permalinks

Permalinks are the URL of your posts and pages. Before you publish your first post, I suggest you check the settings in your WordPress dashboard.

To start, move your mouse over ‘Settings’ on the menu on the left and select ‘Permalinks’ from the popup menu.

Permalink settings

Now you have a set of options for your permalink structure. Having numbers or dates in your URL is not ideal. I recommend using the ‘Post name’ or ‘Custom structure’. You want your permalink to be short and have the title of your blog included. This helps Google and visitors to your site understand your content.

Permalink setting options in WordPress

Once you have made your selection, click on the blue ‘Save settings’ button on the bottom left.

Theme

Let’s look at the layout of your new website. WordPress has an excellent selection of free themes. You can access these themes from your WordPress admin dashboard. Hover your mouse over ‘Appearance’ on the left, and select ‘Themes’ from the popup menu.

Choose themes from the WordPress menu

On the next page, select ‘Add New’.

Add a new theme

Now you have access to a huge amount of free WordPress themes. Use the ‘Feature filter’ and search box to find themes that best fit your content.

Use the feature filter to choose a theme

For a detailed walkthrough on how to install WordPress themes, please check out my ‘Can I change WordPress themes without losing content?‘ post.

With so many themes to choose from it can be difficult to find one you like. It is easy to get stuck on this, I recommend choosing a theme and going with it in the beginning. You can change your theme later.

Plugins

Plugins allow you to add extra functions to your blog. They are free and cover everything you need for WordPress. Although they are useful, they do slow your site down a little, therefore only use plugins you need. Keep them to a minimum.

You can install plugins from your WordPress admin. To start, hover your mouse over ‘Plugins’ on the left and select ‘Add New’ from the popup menu.

In the WordPress plugin library, use the search box to find your plugins. I will recommend some that I use on my sites and what they are for.

WordPress plugin library

My recommended plugins

Akismet Anti-Spam – This plugin will monitor spam in your blog post comments.

ShortPixel Image Optimizer – If you are going to have images on your blog, then Shortpixel (*paid link) will compress them for you. Compressed images load faster when you have a visitor to your site. The free version is limited, you get 100 free images per month.

UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore – All websites must have a backup. If something goes wrong with your site and you lose content. You can restore everything from a backup. Updraftplus (*paid link) is free and an excellent plugin. I have a blog post on how to back up your site.

W3 Total Cache – Site speed is important. If your site is slow, your visitors will get bored waiting and will leave. This plugin helps your site load faster. It is complicated to set up, here is a walkthrough on how to set up W3 Total Cache for your site.

Wordfence Security – Keep your website secure with this plugin.

Yoast SEO – SEO stands for site-engine-optimization. It is important that your blog posts are easy to understand and read. This plugin offers recommendations to you on how to improve your blog structure.

SSL

Having SSL for your site will give you the green padlock you see in the browser address bar.

Green padlock

Green padlocks indicate that the site is safe and secure. Your site must have this or browsers will show warnings to visitors that your site is insecure.

Most hosting companies offer SSL certificates for free. Check with your hosting company about free SSL certificates. If you are with a hosting company that does not offer them for free, then check out my ‘How to change my WordPress site from HTTP to HTTPS‘ post.

Homepage

In WordPress, you have two options for your homepage. You can display your latest blog posts or you can opt to have a purpose build page. I recommend you set your homepage to show your latest posts.

First, hover your mouse over ‘Settings’ on the left, then select ‘Reading’.

Select reading from settings in the main menu

On this page, set your home page to ‘Your latest Posts’. Below that, you can set the number of blog posts displayed on your homepage. Finally, save your changes.

Settings for your home page

Your site title and meta description

When your website shows in Google search results, viewers will see a title tag and a meta description. Therefore, it is important you decide on yours before Google comes to look at your site.

Here is an example of a site title and meta description.

Site title and meta description example

My example comes from Nomadic Matt’s travel site. He has a clear title with a short and to the point meta description. Google limits the number of characters you can use in your meta description. If you go over this, Google will cut your description.

To set your site title and meta description, hover your mouse over ‘Settings’ on the left, and select ‘General’.

Site title and meta description settings

On the next page, you can set your website title and meta description.

Set your website title and meta description

Once you have finished, scroll to the bottom of the page and select the blue ‘Save Changes’ link.

For a detailed walkthrough on this, please visit my ‘How to change the homepage title tag and meta description in WordPress‘ post.

How to create your first WordPress blog post

Are you ready to create a WordPress blog? You are now ready to show the internet your website.

For your first ten posts, I recommend answering specific questions about your niche. If you answered questions on Quora like I recommended at the start. Then you already have some great questions.

Go back into your Quora account and look for the questions that got the most engagement, and use those to look for your blog post title.

Before you write your post, you need to check to see if people are searching for it on Google. To do that, type the start of the question into Google search and see what Google offers as recommended searches.

For example, I am writing this post about starting a blog. I would type ‘how to start a blog’ and then let Google finish my sentence. Like this.

Check Google for blog post titles

Google offers suggestions for searches people make. Therefore, I have the start of a list of possible blog titles.

Once you have your blog title it is time to create your first post. To do that hover your mouse over ‘New’ at the top of your WordPress admin dashboard and select ‘Post’.

How to create a WordPress blog post

Add your blog title, create your content, and then click on publish to let the world see your work!

How to create and publish a WordPress blog post

It is important to keep your website organized with categories and menus. To find out how to do that, check out my ‘How do I create a drop-down menu in WordPress?‘ post.

How do you feel? You have a live website. It is exciting, right?

What to do after publishing your first post

After you publish your first post, I recommend you set up an account with Google search console and Bing webmasters. This allows you to get Google and Bing to index your site. After your site is indexed, your blog posts will get ranked according to the search engine algorithms.

To get your site and posts indexed in Google, check out my ‘How does Google discover new websites?‘ post. To get your site and posts indexed in Bong, check out my ‘How to add a sitemap in Bing Webmaster‘ post.

Follow successful bloggers

90% of new bloggers give up within 6 months. Blogging is hard, don’t let anyone tell you that blogging is easy and you can sit back and watch the money come in. It takes hard work and lots of patience.

So you don’t lose your way, I am going to recommend following bloggers who have made their millions and enjoy sharing free tips.

Income schoolJim and Ricky are the best I have seen on the internet. They give exceptional free tips that you can use on your blog. They also share their sites so you can check out their work. On their YouTube channel, they publish a new video every Monday.

Neil Patel – Another favorite of mine. Neil works very hard creating content to help you build your audience. Some of his posts are quite technical, therefore, as a new blogger, you might get information overload. He also has a YouTube channel, he publishes two or three videos a week.

Brian DeanBrian is similar to Neil, he publishes long detailed posts about how to build your audience. He doesn’t publish content as often as Neil or Income school, but when he does, it is excellent. He has a YouTube channel.

Conclusion

If you are not sure if you should create a WordPress blog, go for it. It is not that expensive. You pay for your domain name and hosting and that is it. The rest you can do for free.

I know it looks complicated when you start. The learning curve is hard, I will admit, but once you get the hang of it, you will love blogging.

It is addictive, especially when you start getting visitors to your website. Pick a niche where you can help people the most. Google is made for people looking for solutions, if you can help direct them to their solution, you have the makings of a successful website.

If you want your blog to succeed, your content has to give value. If you plan to revamp content that is already out there, you will struggle. Choose a niche you can write excellent helpful content about. Look for specific questions where you can present a solution.

My post is a little long and I expect I will need to update and add more content to make it easier to follow. But I think I have a beginner’s guide that can get you started.

I appreciate any feedback if you want me to go into more detail or add more sections, let me know in the comments below. I want this to be a post to be useful to new bloggers.

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