It seems like everyone has started blogging over the past few years. It’s used in every industry, it’s used in a variety of different ways, and it’s becoming more popular all the time.
It’s hard to click on any website that doesn’t include a link to their blog. So are you ready to start yours?
Blogging is a great way to put in place marketing strategies and position yourself as a leader in your industry. With strong content and good readership, your blog can make you into an authority on just about any topic.
It’s a multi-dimensional way to reach customers, influence others, and build your online presence.
In this post, we’re going to show you exactly what you need to know to start your own free blog with WordPress.com.
Creating a WordPress.com blog is easy, but there are some things you need to know before you can dive in. Keep reading to learn how to start your blog for free on WordPress.com.
The Basics of Blogging
You already know that a blog is where you can write anything you want. You can add photos, add links, rant, and rave, provide expert advice–anything you want to do.
But there are two terms you’ll need to know and understand before you can get started: hosting and domain.
They work hand-in-hand. Without a domain, you have no blog. Without a host, you can’t use your domain.
This is the home of your blog address and all the content on your blog. Without web hosting, your domain will be unusable. Your host acts like the hard drive on your computer.
It stores all your content, images, posts, data, and other important information.
There are different hosting services you can use, but for the purposes of this post, we’re focusing on WordPress.com (which is different from WordPress.org). Using WordPress.com is completely free (including hosting), but if you want your own domain and a little more control of your website, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan.
Since all sites using the WordPress.com content management system (CMS) are hosted by WordPress.com (which is, once again, different from WordPress.org), there are only a few variables to pay attention to with the paid plans. Storage space and additional plug-ins are the main differences in the paid plans. The more you pay per month, the more storage and tools you gain access to.
For the absolute beginner, we suggest starting with a free plan and working your way up if necessary.
If you choose to go with WordPress.org, you will need to pick a hosting company, we suggest Bluehost, and work with them to upload your site.
Your domain is your personal blog address, the one where people can always find you. For example, Google’s domain is www.Google.com. The cost of a domain name is usually about $10 per year (but you can get them for less, or sometimes even a lot more).
There are two variations of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org is a self-hosted WordPress site. They won’t host for you. You’ll need to pay for another hosting service.
With a WordPress.org account, your URL will look like this: www.YourNewBlog.com. If you want your blog to look professional and be taken seriously, this is how you want your URL to look.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, will host your site, but your URL will appear as such: www.YourNewBlog.WordPress.com. Notice how the URL ends with “wordpress.com” with your site name before. This is called a subdomain and is the easiest way to get a free domain. Readers will know that you’re using the WordPress platform, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a bit less professional than the other option.
When part of your URL includes the WordPress domain, readers might not take you seriously, as this type of hosting and service is usually free.
If you want your own domain, you will have to take advantage of the paid plans mentioned above. Even the cheapest ($4/month) includes the custom domain. But keep in mind that this cost does NOT include the cost of the domain name.
Is WordPress.com the Best Option?
There are many different blogging platforms to choose from, such as Tumblr, Blogger, and Squarespace. But WordPress.com and WordPress.org are by far the most popular and the most used.
There are over 72 million active users using WordPress right now, and many of the best blogs out there use the platform. So why do so many people choose this platform over the other options? There are several reasons why.
For one, it’s free to use, which entices most people right to use it. It allows you to use a variety of WordPress themes, layouts, add-ons, and plug-ins that some other platforms don’t, plus it’s easy to set up.
WordPress is constantly updating their system and their software, so it’s safe and secure to use.
WordPress.com can be fairly customizable based on your paid plan. WordPress.org is 100% customizable so you can make your blog look and function exactly how you like.
Not convinced yet? Just know that if you decide to create your blog on WordPress you’ll be in the company of major entities such as NASA, Microsoft, CNN, and many more.
In our opinion, WordPress.org is the best option for bloggers. WordPress.com is a great, free alternative for people who are just getting started. The differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com are pretty vast, but for new users, you will hardly be able to tell the difference between the WordPress dashboards.
How to Create a WordPress Blog
If you’ve decided to use WordPress, keep reading for step by step instructions on how to get your blog started now. It’s easy to do – follow these steps one at a time and you’ll be blogging in no time.
To make it easier, we’ll break down the easy steps so you know exactly what you have to do.
- Go to WordPress.com and click “start.”
- Choose a homepage layout
- Choose a theme
- Choose your domain
- Choose your WordPress.com plan
- Create your WordPress.com account
How Should I Choose My Homepage Layout?
Before you choose a homepage layout, decide what it is you’re using your blog for in the first place. Is it for personal use? Is it for professional use?
Is it a way to highlight your photography? Will it link back to a corporate site? The purpose of your blog will dictate the layout you should choose.
When you first create your free WordPress blog you’ll see four possible homepage layouts available.
You can choose from:
- a list of my latest posts
- a grid of my latest posts
- a welcome page for my site
- an online store
Businesses typically choose “a welcome page” or “an online store.” Most bloggers use “a list of my latest posts”. Blogs focused on photography or blogs that have great images to display may want to opt for “a grid of my latest posts.”
How Do I Choose a Theme?
The theme you choose determines what your blog will look like. You always have the option to go back in, change your theme, change your colors, and add or edit your photos at a later date.
There are hundreds of themes to choose from, so it may take you some time to decide on the exact one you want.
Although you can always change this, it will save you time if you start with one that looks like what you plan to use.
How Do I Choose My Domain?
You probably already have some ideas for great, catchy names in mind for your blog. Now we’re not suggesting you’re not creative, but most of the domain names you’re thinking of are most likely already taken.
Use that creativity to come up with something different. If there’s one name you have your heart set on and it’s available for sale, you might want to consider buying it. You can buy domains from a lot of different sites, including GoDaddy, Google Domains, NameCheap and many others. Do your research beforehand to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Depending on what you’ll be using your blog for, you might want to choose your own name as your domain name. At least that way you’re not committed (at least to start) to sticking to any one topic.
Should you decide to buy your own domain, we don’t recommend buying it from WordPress. It’s best to buy it through another hosting site such as GoDaddy or HostGator.
Which WordPress.com Plan Should I Choose?
When you’ve added your blog name and finished the basic steps listed above, click on the “select free” button.
Unless you have massive plans for expansion, are certain you need a premium account, or are using your blog as a professional site, go with the free plan. You can always upgrade later.
If you find that even the most expensive WordPress.com plan doesn’t meet your needs, you probably want to move over to WordPress.org.
How Do I Create My WordPress.com Account?
WordPress will ask you to enter your email address. It’s always best to use the email address you use the most often. You will also need to create a username. Make it something you can remember.
If the username you want is already taken, add some numbers or letters to the end. This will not be your blog name; no one will see it but you.
When it comes time to create a password, make sure it’s a strong one. Use a combination of lots of special characters and numbers, use random strings of words, or use both.
For example: MyBlueCatLikesToSing57! or Grandmalovesfriedchicken1925…you get the idea. Make it strong, random, and incoherent enough that no one but you will ever be able to figure it out.
The only thing left to do to create your account is to verify your email address. Hit the “verify” link on your email and you should see that appear in a matter of seconds. With a verified email, you can start blogging by logging in from http://wordpress.com/wp-admin
Congratulations! You’ve Set up Your Blog…Now What?
Now that you’re set up and ready to go, there are lots of things you can do. You can start blogging immediately (you know you want to).
You can add some cool pics and change your colors. You can pick a new theme or add new pages. What you do now is up to you!
I’m Ready to Change My Theme
When you’re ready to change your theme, you’ll need to decide if you want to pay for one or stick with free themes. We always recommend starting with a free theme to see how it goes.
The prices for premium themes vary, so don’t shell out any big bucks until you’re certain of the one you want. Remember, you can always change it later.
Click on “active” to activate the theme.
If you don’t like it, you can choose from hundreds of free themes until you find the one that suits your blog and your style.
I’m Ready to Add New Pages and Blog Posts
Take some time to get familiar with WordPress. Check out the dashboard options – this is where you’ll have to go to create new posts and add new pages.
When it comes time to add a post, click Post -> New. To add a page, use Page -> Add New. It’s that easy to add your posts and add your pages!
Now that that’s done, get ready for the hard part. Figure out what you plan to blog about.
Start generating some great content. Attach some incredible photos and graphics to draw readers in. After all, if no one reads your blog, what’s the point?
Getting started with WordPress is easy. If you put a little bit of thought into what type of blog you want to create, you can be blogging in no time. But first, you’ll need to ask yourself a few basic questions.
What type of blog do I want? What will I use it for? What kind of readers do I want to attract? How far do I want it to go?
With these ideas in mind, decide if you want your site to be hosted via a hosting site if or if you want to self-host. Self-hosting can cost you a few dollars a month, but that’s a small price to pay to have a chance to influence the world, right?
Remember that if you let WordPress host for you, your domain will look like YourNewBlog.WordPress.com. When you self-host it will look like YourNewBlog.com.
Self-hosting is the way to go if you want a more professional look.
Setting up a WordPress account is easy. Choose a layout. Select a theme. Pick your domain name.
Choose a plan. Activate your account. That’s all there is to it.
It’s pretty safe to say that 72 million users can’t all be wrong. With so many active bloggers and massive companies using WordPress, you can be sure that the platform is doing lots of things right.
Now that you know the basics, there’s nothing left to do but get started.
So set up that account, start posting, and make your voice heard.