Do you want to know how to start a WordPress blog? Many people all over the world love the idea of making money from having their own blog. Yet, not all of them enjoy success in making a blog that they are proud of and that makes regular income for them too.
It is estimated that there were some 150 million blogs on the internet a few years ago. This number has grown greatly since then, although it is hard to know the exact number since the different blogging platforms usually don’t reveal how many customers they have.
What we do know is that over 69 million posts are added to WordPress every month. Also, over 23 billion pages are viewed on this platform each month. So, you need to know how to build a WordPress website that can stand out in this crowded market.
First of all, what are the basics that you need to know about how to start a blog using this platform? The truth is that getting off to a strong start is easier than you might think when you first learn WordPress.
By thinking about the following points you will be giving yourself the best possible chance of making this work for you. Fortunately, it is also going to be a lot easier than you probably imagine it will be.
Choose a Niche
Before we even look at the technical side of how to start a blog on WordPress we need to consider what it is going to be about. After all, you don’t want to create a beautifully presented site and then realize that you have nothing to say, or that no one is interested in what you write.
Some of the most popular and profitable blogging niches include the following:
- Personal finance
- Fashion and beauty
- General lifestyle
There are plenty of other niches out there too, some with mass appeal and others that only appeal to a smaller group of people. Choosing the perfect subject is crucial for getting going with confidence.
Naturally, the most popular and profitable niches are also those where you will also find most competition. Lots of people want to start a WordPress website in these areas.
How can you stand a good chance of beating them with your blog? Will you find a unique twist that lets your blog appear different from all the rest?
There is a lot you can do once you get started in terms of marketing your blog, improving the SEO and so on. However, the best blogs start off strongly right from the ideas stage. If you know exactly what you want then you stand a far better chance of success.
New bloggers tend to choose their niche by either thinking about something that they love or finding a subject that should make them money. This usually means either letting your heart rule your head or else doing it the other way around.
Ideally, you will find the perfect balance. Is there a subject that you enjoy and that could also make you a lot of money? Don’t forget that this blog could become a big part of your life for years to come once it takes off.
You may also find that you get paid in gifts for promoting certain brands. For instance, if you have a travel blog then you may get free trips and if you have a parenting blog you could get sent free childcare accessories. Which would be most useful to you?
Above all, find a niche that you are going to be inspired by and that will make it be easy for you to find things to write about for the foreseeable future. If you choose a narrow subject you might struggle to write content before too long.
Consider How Much of the Work You Will Be Doing
The next important point is to consider how much of the work for the blog you will be doing. You might want to do it all, to outsource it all, or to find a solution somewhere in the middle of these extremes.
Deciding how much of the work you will be doing is important because it will determine a lot of the decisions you take. For instance, if you are going to rely on freelancers then you will want a site anyone can get to grips with easily and start working on independently.
It also affects which niche you should choose. If you are going to write all of the content yourself then you should choose a subject that you are passionate about. It’s pointless learning how to build a WordPress website if you then don’t have anything to write about.
On the other hand, if you are going to pass the work on to someone else then you may be more comfortable simply choosing the niche you are most likely to earn money from. You will probably also want to make it about something that lots of people could easily write about, rather than being too specialist.
When working out how to start a WordPress blog many newcomers plan to do some of the work themselves and outsource the rest. This is a sensible move and it should allow you to concentrate on getting a great blog without having to work on it constantly.
Decide How to Monetize the Blog
Will you be starting up a WordPress blog purely for fun or do you plan to make money from it? It seems safe to say that most new bloggers have at least one eye on making a living blogging, even if they are also inspired by the subject.
The thought of working part-time from home or on an exotic beach is one of the most powerful incentives for getting started with a new blog. This is something that could open up a whole new way of living for you if you do it right.
It’s all very well deciding that you want to learn WordPress and then monetize a blog, but how will you do it? If you need to find out how to make money with a blog for beginners then the first step is to consider the following options:
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Affiliate marketing
- Write product reviews
- Charge for accepting guest blogs from other sites and companies
- Use advertising widgets
- Write an eBook
- Host a webinar
- Charge for membership
- Ask for donations
As we can see, there are many different ways of making money from a blog. The secret with all of them is to have a high-quality site that people want to visit.
If you a quality site then you will find it a lot easier to monetize your WordPress website.
It is also worth pointing out that there is nothing to stop you from switching your approach over time. If you find that one way of making money isn’t working then you can try another to see what happens.
Another idea many bloggers like is to build up their site and then sell it to the highest bidder once it is up and running. This is a smart idea, but it can be hard work too.
Choose a Blog Name and Domain Name
What are you going to call your blog? There’s no denying that a snappy, memorable name can work wonders in getting people to remember it.
You might like to pick something that is related to your niche or that is a clever play on words. There are many ways of choosing a name that sums up what your blog is all about and that sticks in the memory of anyone who sees it.
Once you have a name that you like the sound of it is a good idea to sleep on it for a few days. Does it still sound fresh and interesting when you go back to it? You might also want to ask other people for their opinion on what you have come up with.
The next step is to choose a domain name. This is a bit trickier, as you can only choose from those that are available. You will also need to see how much your chosen domain name is likely to cost you.
Ideally, the domain name will reflect your blog name and what you are all about. If you already have a name for your blog in mind then enter a few variations on this into a domain site like GoDaddy or Namecheap.
Remember that your name needs to be something that is easy to remember and easy to type as well. A short, snappy domain name that sums up your blog is ideal.
You can also choose your extension now too. The most popular by far is still .com but you can also pick the likes of .org and .business as well as many others.
Choose Your Web Hosting
How would you prefer to have your WordPress blog hosted? This is where your site is located on the internet and it is well worth putting some thought into choosing the best option.
The first decision to take is between self-hosting and choosing WordPress hosting. The former option uses WordPress.org, while the latter is available on WordPress.com.
For most new bloggers, it is best to self-host using WordPress.org. This is because it is an approach that gives you full control over your blog.
If you choose the self-hosting approach then you need to find a company to host your blog. Thankfully, there are now plenty of options for doing this that don’t cost the Earth. Some of the most popular companies include HostGator, Bluehost, A2 Hosting and SiteGround.
The monthly fee for hosting a basic WordPress blog is pretty low so it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. However, this is an ongoing charge that you be paying month after month, so it is worth shopping around for a good deal.
Installing and Setting Up WordPress
This might sound like the hardest step of all but in fact it is pretty easy. One of the benefits when you look into how to start a WordPress blog is that it just so easy to get started with this platform.
The first thing that you have to do is download the latest version of WordPress from WordPress.org. It comes in a zipped file and you should find it in your Downloads folder once it has been downloaded.
Double-click on the zipped file and then upload to your web server. You will need an FTP client for this. Your web hosting company should have given you the access that you need for this step.
It is then a matter of going to your FTP client and looking for the WordPress files that you have just added. Your web hosting company should also have given you the access credentials that you need to connect to your web server.
To upload the WordPress files you need to drag them from the list of files on your computer to the section where your web server files are located. On most FTP clients this means dragging them from left to right.
Once they have all been uploaded you can move over to your web hosting control panel. This will typically have some form of database function that lets you create a MySQL database.
This is necessary because WordPress stores content in this format, allowing it to create your site’s page quickly every time that someone opens it.
You need to choose a name for your database then click on the option to create it. You will then need to set up a user for MySQL and give them the permissions needed to make changes to the new database.
At this point you need to set a password. Be sure to make this secure but also make sure you can remember it.
The next step is to connect the new database to WordPress. You do this by going back to the FTP client and looking for the database. It uses a file called wp-config for this.
You need to double-click on the file in order to open it in your text editor. You then complete it with the details of the database that you have just set up.
You can also make things more secure by using unique phrases for the authentication keys that you come across. Having done this, you can close the file and move on to running the WordPress installation.
It should have only taken you a few minutes to get to this stage. Now you can put the address of your WordPress website into the browser.
You will then be asked the final details needed, such as username, password and email. These are vital pieces of information that you need to get absolutely right.
Having done this, you should now have WordPress set up on your web server waiting for you to create the site you have been dreaming of.
You can now enter the Administration Panel of WordPress by adding “/wp-admin” to the end of the site address URL. This brings up your login screen and prompts you for the same access details that you recently set up.
Choose Your Theme
One of the reasons who so many bloggers decide to learn how to start a blog with WordPress is that it offers a huge range of themes to choose from. This means that most people can find the perfect one for their blog.
What are the key points to bear in mind when you are deciding which WordPress theme to go with?
There are many free themes to choose from but you may want to consider paying something extra special. Paid themes offer some extra quality and often give more support and updates too.
It is easy to go through the directory of themes and find one that has the features that you want. Bear in mind that if you choose a feature-heavy theme then this could make the site a lot slower for visitors.
What about the colors?
There is no denying the power of colors. Red is for action and passion, for example. Green signifies growth and balance while blue is peaceful and trustworthy. Think about the message that you plan to send out with your color scheme.
Think about mobile users:
Will a mobile user be able to use your site and navigate it easily? Many people now read blogs on mobile devices so it is crucial that you have a site that they can use without any problems.
Make it easy to read:
It is frustrating to use a site that is difficult to read. This can be because of the choice of font or the combination of colors used. You need everyone who enters your site to be able to read the words without any hassle.
You can see the themes on offer by choosing “Appearance” and then “Themes” from your WordPress dashboard. At the time of writing, there are over 1,500 free themes here. To choose one, just click on “Install” followed by the “Activate” button.
If you want more choice then you can look for paid themes elsewhere online.
Choose the Right Plugins
An extra benefit with this blogging platform is that you can choose from an extremely wide range of plugins. This means that you can tailor your WordPress blog to meet your exact needs.
The list of available plugins has everything that you could possibly want. They cover areas such as the following:
- SEO optimization
- Google Analytics
- Visitor conversion tools
- Contact forms
- Email marketing
- Site backup tools
- Plugins to speed up the site
It probably isn’t a good idea to choose too many plugins right at the beginning. You might end up getting confused and not taking full advantage of each of them.
Therefore, it makes sense to think about your priorities for your blog. Do you need extra help in getting your SEO campaign up and running or are you keen to make your site as fast and secure as possible right away?
Try choosing one plugin at a time to try them out and make sure that you get each one running before you try another. In this way, you will soon have all of the plugins that you need.
Some are easier to set up than others, so you might need to set aside some time to get going with the more complicated ones. Thousands of good plugins can be downloaded for free. The paid ones usually offer better ongoing support, though.
Learn How to Use WordPress
The process to start to learn WordPress is easy enough for anyone who is committed to doing it. By the time you get to this stage everything is ready for you to get started. For some people it may simply be a question of overcoming the fear of something new.
The “Dashboard” area is the heart of your WordPress website. From here you can control everything and keep an eye on how well it is doing.
You will be spending a lot of time here so it is definitely worth trying to get familiar with it as soon as possible.
It is a very simple setup and you should start to feel like an expert in no time. There is certainly nothing to fear here when you are finding out how to use WordPress for the first time.
Start Adding Content
Is it time to start adding some content to your new blog? This is a crucial moment in the development of your site so it is understandable that you may feel slightly nervous about it.
Will you write your own content or outsource it to a writer? If you want to get someone else to do the writing then you can easily add them on as a user so that they have access to post directly to WordPress.
If you are going to handle the content on your own then getting started can be the trickiest part of all. You may wonder about how people are going to receive your posts and whether you will be able to find the right voice.
The good news is that you can start writing drafts directly onto WordPress or write in Word and then paste it in. To start writing on this platform you need to choose “Posts” and “Add New”. You can also easily add videos and photo to make your posts more interesting to read and to look at.
Once you are happy with the content you can choose to look at a preview of the finished post. After this, just publish it right away or else schedule it for future publication.
At this point it is worth remembering that you have the option of adding categories to neatly divide up your content. This will make it easier for your readers to find what they are after so you might want to put some thought into thinking at the very start about the names of the categories you might need.
If you just start adding articles, the homepage of your site will always show the latest ones. This is fine for a lot of bloggers but you can also choose to have a static front page if you want to.
This is done by going to “Settings” and then “Reading”. In here you can choose what page you want visitors to see first.
Optimize Your Content
Using a plugin for SEO purposes will make it a lot easier to optimize the content. This additional software will guide you by telling you how to focus on your keywords.
However, even if you haven’t done this, you can still make it as SEO-friendly as possible. This means using the right keywords in the right quantity. You will also want to optimize your titles, tags, descriptions, permalinks and everything else than you can.
If you don’t do this well then you run the risk of having great content that no one can find. This isn’t something you should leave until the site is well established. You should get into the habit of optimizing every new post before you publish it right off the bat.
The good habits that you start off with will stand you in good stead in the future if you keep them going.
Check the Site and Test It
It can be easy to get so caught up in writing content that you forget to actually check the site. If you don’t do this then you risk missing the fact that something doesn’t look right.
First impressions count and visitors might just click straight back out if they don’t like the look of your site. You should be especially careful about spelling mistakes and formatting errors that could make the blog hard work to read.
You will also want to test any links that you have added. Links that go to the wrong place are incredibly annoying for readers.
Don’t just assume that the site is looking good and working well. Check everything out thoroughly and test it before you launch it. After that, you will want to stay on top of the site and check it regularly as you add content.
Decide Whether to Allow Comments
One of the issues you will need to think about at the beginning is comments. Do you want to allow comments on your WordPress blog or disable them?
There are different opinions on this matter. Some bloggers love to see comments from their readers. This can give you immense satisfaction that people have found your post interesting. The comments section also provides a useful community feel to a blog.
On the other hand, dealing with spam comments can take up a lot of time. There are different plugins that help you with this more easily by blocking obvious spam.
Yet, you will still need to spend some time dealing with your comments. You probably aren’t researching how to start a WordPress blog because you want to spend endless hours moderating and replying to comments, are you?
Even if you don’t receive a lot of spam comments, you will still want to read your comments and reply to them. If you written thought-provoking content that deserves to be discussed then you might feel that you need a comments section for this purpose.
Alternatively, if you have a blog that is controversial then you might find that you get a lot of negative comments. Not everyone is comfortable seeing their posts get this sort of reply.
There is some debate about the SEO effects of a good comments section. It seems that it can help if the comments section has keywords in it, which is far more likely to be the case if there are a lot of comments written there.
To disable comments, you first need to go to “Discussion”. You then go to “Default article settings” and uncheck the box that says “Allow people to post comments on new articles.” You can then click “Save Settings”.
Another interesting option is to allow comments for a certain number of days after the post is published. To do this you go into “Discussion” and then “Other comment settings”. Choose the option to automatically close comments and then type in the number of days required.
The ease with which you can learn how to start a blog means that you can get started in very little time. By putting some thought into how you want your blog to grow you can also set yourself up nicely for the future.
Once you see how simple it is to start a WordPress blog you will realize that there is nothing stopping you from doing so. No matter what your reasons are for having your own blog, it is something that you can make happen with very little time and effort.