When was the last time you had a wonderful idea that just had to be talked about? Do you have a remarkable story from your trip to Spain or several cool tricks you’ve learned from your years as a gardener?
Everyone has a story that begs for exposure, and a blog gives you the tools to get out there and start writing. Blogging used to require some more advanced technical knowledge to program a website and share your story. That has changed drastically since all the tools are now sitting around for you to play around with.
A story is an extension of your own life, sending your voice to the masses, and bringing your experiences to a whole new crowd who might benefit spiritually, physically, or even just through a little entertainment.
The coolest thing about blogging is that you can make some great income if you pour your heart into it. Many regular people are blogging everyday to bring in full-time incomes, while others simply work on their blogs to generate some passive income for the little extra glories in life.
How to Start a Blog with WordPress
It all starts with a blog, and WordPress is the best platform to get going. Below I have outlined a valuable guide for those just getting started with a blog, demonstrating how to choose a blog domain name, all the way to adding a theme.
Let’s learn how to setup a WordPress blog in under 15 minutes.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
The first step to launching your WordPress blog is understanding the framework. Basically, WordPress is the content management system (CMS) that helps you upload photos, type words, and post your content. It’s designed to work nicely for people of all experience levels, so that you don’t have to know much about coding.
WordPress comes in two forms: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Here’s a detailed guide on the differences between the two, but in short:
- WordPress.com means that the WordPress company hosts the site for you.
- WordPress.org means that you own your site and host it yourself (This guide outlines this method).
- WordPress.com is a nice system, but you don’t get much control or customization over your blog.
- WordPress.org is where you can secure, backup, and customize the site yourself. You even get access to thousands of cool plugins for making your site unique. This is typically what serious bloggers use.
What Do You Need to Get Started With Your WordPress Blog?
- An idea for your domain name.
- A SiteGround hosting account (use our link to save big bucks on your monthly subscription).
- WordPress (completely free).
- A WordPress theme (sometimes free, sometimes a small fee depending on what you choose).
- A credit card (hosting is rather inexpensive).
Step 1: Thinking of and Purchasing the Perfect Domain Name
The domain name is your online identity. The domain for this site is WPKube.com. It’s what people type in whenever they want to find your site, and it ties into your branding strategy so folks remember who you are. Take some time to think of a domain that relates to what you want to offer on your site.
Many people just use their names, while others might have company names to use. Many other websites try to focus on keywords, which can help a bit, but this isn’t going to make or break your search engine optimization.
You’ll be able to purchase your own domain name for $14.95 when you sign up for hosting in the next step. While you can buy a domain name for a couple dollars less via other sources, it’s easier to go through SiteGround, our recommended WordPress host, because the process of setting up your domain is much less complicated.
We’ll talk about choosing a domain in the next step, because it goes hand-in-hand with buying hosting, but first I wanted to explain why we like to recommend SiteGround at WPKube:
- SiteGround is a large and experienced company, and lots of the top bloggers use their services.
- The interface is easy to use, so beginners shouldn’t have any problems.
- If you run into problems, they offer 24/7 customer support.
- The service loads your pages super fast.
- Compared to other brands, you get a great deal, starting at $3.95 per month (plus the free domain).
- Their site up-time is unrivaled in the industry.
- They automatically upgrade your WordPress software, a feature that’s usually only available in managed WordPress hosting.
Step 2: Go to SiteGround and Start With Your WordPress Site
To start, go to SiteGround and click on the orange Get Started button (don’t forget to use our SiteGround coupon for 60% off).
It is recommended you start with SiteGround’s StartUp Plan. This is a decent option for those interested in just testing the waters with blogging. You receive hosting for one website, 10GB of website space, and it is suitable for 10,000 monthly visits to your website.
The GrowBig Plan is the most popular option, and it isn’t that much more expensive than the Starter plan. For $7.95 per month you get as many websites as you want. You also receive 20GB of website space and up to 25,000 monthly visits to your website. In addition, there are some great premium features such as the exclusive SuperCacher plugin used to speed up your website and improve overall performance.
The final plan, called the GoGeek Plan, is for businesses that need things like PCI Compliance and WordPress staging. Try this out if you plan on running various websites for your company and are scaling quickly.
Step 3: Complete Your Domain Acquisition
Now that you have selected your desired hosting plan it is time to register your domain name. As mentioned earlier, SiteGround charges $14.95 for a domain name, which is a competitive price.
Simply click on Register a New Domain and enter your chosen domain into the provided space.
Click on the Proceed button to see if the domain is available and complete your payment. If the domain is being used by someone else online you have to try another domain name. Otherwise, you can continue with the final part of the sign up process.
You will notice there are several sections for you to fill out in order to complete your domain acquisition and continue signing up for SiteGround hosting services.
You will need to fill in some general information about yourself, choose a password for accessing your SiteGround hosting account, and enter your preferred method of payment.
Before completing your payment you will need to answer a couple more questions and will also have the option to add a few additional features to your hosting services.
Here is a breakdown of the last section you need to complete before finalizing your hosting service subscription with SiteGround:
- Choose the data center that best represents your intended audience: Chicago (USA), Amsterdam (NL), Singapore (SG), or London (UK).
- Select your subscription length: Trial (1 month), 12 months, 24 months, or 36 months.
- Choose extra services: Domain Privacy (so your personal information does not become publicly accessed), HackAlert Malware Monitoring (alerts to possible website hacks).
After choosing which features you would like added to your subscription, read SiteGround’s Terms of Service and confirm that you agree. Then click on Pay Now.
Step 5: Install WordPress on Your SiteGround Hosting Account
Now that you’ve completely set up your SiteGround account, you can install WordPress on the host. After payment has been completed, SiteGround will direct you to their Customer Area automatically so that you can install WordPress onto your hosting account.
If by chance you decide to come back later, simply login to your SiteGround hosting account using the username that was emailed to you upon completion of payment and the password you chose during the initial set up phase.
When you choose to go directly to the SiteGround Customer Area you will be prompted with SiteGround’s SetupWizard.
To start the installation of WordPress onto your host select Get WordPress preinstalled in this account.
Before beginning the installation process, SiteGround will ask you to choose your WordPress admin email, username, and password. This information will be what you use to log into your WordPress dashboard to do things such as create and publish blog posts.
After you have done this you will then have the option to add a complimentary WordPress theme onto your website thanks to SiteGround. Themes are what your website will look like on the front end of your website.
Just remember, there are tons of WordPress theme options on the market today, and you can change the theme on your website at any time, even if you choose one from SiteGround for the time being.
When you are finished click on Submit. If everything was done correctly, you will be congratulated for completing your account settings.
Step 6: Access Your WordPress Dashboard
In your SiteGround account you will be able to visually see that WordPress was successfully installed onto your website.
By navigating from the Home > My Accounts you will be able see the domain name you chose with a small WordPress icon located right next to it ensuring you that WordPress was installed correctly onto your web hosting account.
If you click on the small green button near the left of your domain name labeled Go to Admin Panel you will be directed to your WordPress dashboard login screen. Here you will enter the username and password you chose during the installation of WordPress process.
A Look At the WordPress Dashboard
The WordPress dashboard is basically the control panel for your site. This is where you can manage:
- Your blog posts and other content
- How your blog looks (via a theme)
- What functionality your blog has (via plugins)
- Basic configuration settings about your blog
We’ll cover some of these areas in more detail later, but for now, let’s show you how to write your first blog post!
How to Write Your First Blog Post
To write your first blog post using WordPress, go to Posts → Add New inside your WordPress dashboard.
That will take you to something called the WordPress Editor, which is where you’ll:
- Give your blog post a title
- Enter the content for your blog post
- Format your blog post using simple buttons (just like Microsoft Word)
- Upload your own images
- Set categories and tags for your blog post
Once you’re happy with how your post looks, all you need to do is click the Publish button to make your post public to the world.
Step 7: Install and Customize Your Own Theme
While we showed you how SiteGround lets you choose a WordPress theme during their website setup wizard, you might not have liked any of the themes offered by SiteGround.
That’s totally fine! There are tens of thousands of WordPress themes out there for you to choose from.
Where Can You Find and Install Free Themes?
If you don’t want to pay any money for your theme, the best place to search is the official WordPress.org theme directory.
All of the themes listed there are:
- 100% free
- Code checked by the WordPress Theme Review Team
- Tagged for easy searching
Once you find a theme that you like, you need to install it on your site. Here’s how to install a WordPress theme (click for a more detailed guide):
- Going to Appearance → Themes in your WordPress dashboard
- Clicking on Add New
- On the next screen, search for the name of the theme that you found
- Hover over the theme and click Install
- Wait for the Install button to change to Activate
- Click the Activate button to make your theme live
That’s it! Your new WordPress theme is installed and active.
What are Some Suggestions for Places to Buy Premium WordPress Themes?
Premium themes usually offer better designs and more features. If you can swing the budget, they usually offer the best experience.
Here are some good places to find premium themes:
- StudioPress – StudioPress has been in the game for quite some time now, and they are famous for one of the most revolutionary frameworks in the business, Genesis Framework.
- MeridianThemes – MeridianThemes is a new-ish theme shop. They currently have 9 themes in their portfolio, starting at $49. You can get access to all 9 themes + more, for $89.
- ElegantThemes – ElegantThemes has a focus on beauty when it comes to premium WordPress themes. You can download all of their themes for $69 or choose from one of the many industry options like magazine, eCommerce, portfolio, business, and blog themes. You may also want to read our review of ElegantThemes and use our exclusive ElegantThemes coupon to get 20% off.
- FancyThemes — FancyThemes focuses on building simple blogging themes for bloggers. They currently have 5 free WordPress themes available for download and 1 premium theme.
- MyBlog Theme – MyBlog is a clean, responsive, and minimalistic WordPress theme designed by yours truly, wpkube team. It costs $39 and includes features such as Post Formats support, advanced options panel, responsive design, and premium support.
Once you find a premium theme that you like, make sure you download the ZIP file of the theme from the site where you purchased the theme.
Then, you can install it on WordPress by:
- Going to Appearance → Themes in your WordPress dashboard
- Clicking on Add New
- On the next screen, click Upload Theme
- Click Choose File and select the ZIP file of the theme
- Then, click Install Now
- Wait for WordPress to install the theme
- Click Activate to make the theme live on your blog
That’s it! You just installed and activated a premium WordPress theme.
Step 8: Add Functionality to Your Blog With WordPress Plugins
While WordPress themes are mostly just about appearances, WordPress plugins are all about adding additional functionality to your blog.
For example, you might want a contact form so that your readers can get in touch with you. WordPress plugins are what add functionality like that.
Where Can You Find WordPress Plugins?
We’ve put together a post with some of the best WordPress plugins for bloggers, but if you’d prefer to forge out on your own, you can browse tens of thousands of both free and premium WordPress plugins:
- Official WordPress.org plugin directory – a massive collection of over 50,000 free WordPress plugins that you can easily install right from your WordPress dashboard.
- Elegant Themes – in addition to themes, they have tons of helpful plugins.
- Code Canyon – a huge third-party marketplace of premium plugins.
How to Install WordPress Plugins
Once you find a plugin that you like, here’s how to install it:
- Go to Plugins → Add New
If you found the plugin at WordPress .org:
- Search for the name of the plugin
- Click Install Now
- Wait for WordPress to install the plugin, then click Activate
If you purchased a premium plugin:
- Click Upload Plugin and upload the ZIP file