So you have decided to setup a WordPress blog. Not just out of sheer curiosity but you find it as an avenue to release your bottled up emotions or showcase your creativity or proclaim your newly found activism or simply brandish your love for travel and food. Hey, it is 2018 – any reason is valid!
The idea of creating a blog sounds like fun. Even with the daunting images of technical mumbo-jumbos and overwhelming set of technical instructions to follow, setting up your blog the first time is actually one of the most fun part of blogging.
Forget about Mark Zuckerberg’s programming skills, setting up your first WordPress blog is like a D-I-Y life hack in a world-wide-web version of things. Simple steps, great satisfaction.
Why Setup a WordPress Blog?
For starters, it’s the most used platform in the internet-verse. In fact, a quarter of all blogs and websites that exists on the internet today uses WordPress. Crunch that down into numbers and it is equivalent to 60 million websites. Let me give you a rundown of the whys:
It’s ridiculously simple to set up
Setting up WordPress is almost like a no-brainer. A 9-year old or an 80-year old can set it up.
Very easy to use
Creating content and managing your site is almost as painless – it’s absolutely intuitive and user-friendly.
Gives you full control
You are the master of your site. No need for any developer or webmaster to create, modify or manage your content.
As long as you have the latest plug-ins and updated versions, WordPress is one of the securest places to have your site.
Built for blogging
WordPress is for blogging and blogging is for WordPress. It is designed and created for bloggers.
You are surrounded by an exceptional community to support
The community is so vast, dynamic and vibrant. You will never feel alone.
What is WordPress, really?
Before I go Wikipedia-esque and start gunning you down with self-important words and phrases of technical magnitude, the most important thing that you need to know about WordPress is that it’s free.
It’s an open-source application that supports digital content creation and modification. In other words, as it is commonly called in the blogosphere, WordPress is an open-source blogging platform that allows you to build your blog, create or modify content, and manage your site.
Now that you have an idea of what WordPress is all about, it’s time for you to know the 4 basic steps of setting up your first WordPress blog.
STEP ONE: Choosing a Platform
The good news is that you have just ticked step one off the list. Well, not really. Though WordPress was the obvious choice and obviously the final decision to be the blogging platform, you will still need to make a decision between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
I did say that WordPress is free but you will need to read the fine print and understand the difference between the two. There’s a caveat for it being free but it’s a good caveat. You just need to weigh in on each of the items and make an informed decision.
|You can only use the available themes provided by the site with no freedom to customize or upload custom themes.||Starts at $99 a year for premium users to customize and select from limited premium themes.||On top of the free themes available for use, you can use 3rd party custom or commercial themes. You can also modify or customize – basically the freedom to do anything.|
|You can only use existing built-in plug-ins in the site without freedom to upload any paid, custom or even free plug-ins from other sources.||It costs $299 a year for business users with capability to upload 3rd party plug-ins.||Install all the plug-ins you want, whether it be free, paid or custom, to maximize your site.|
|Selling ads is not allowed. You can apply for advertising if you hit more than 25,000 monthly page views but this is a revenue sharing offer.||WordAds program is available for both premium and business users comes with a revenue sharing offer.||You have the freedom to sell as many ads as you can and you can use any service that you like. The sweetest thing about it is you get 100% of the revenue.|
|Branding is powered by WordPress at the same time ads show up in your site but will not make money out of them. You can remove it for a fee.||Pay $36-$99 for personal and premium users, respectively to remove ads.|
Pay $299 a year to remove the “Powered by” link. This applies to business users only.
|You have all the freedom to customize your branding. You can keep the “Powered by” link or not – it’s up to you.|
|You won’t have any control with SEO on your site. You can install 3rd party tools for a fee.||Pay $299 a year to install 3rd party SEO tools. This applies to business users only.||Install all the SEO plug-ins you want without a fee. You can use other 3rd party SEO tools to increase your rank in Google searches.|
|You can only use the built-in WordPress analytics. You can install 3rd party tools for a fee.||Pay $299 a year to install 3rd party analytics tools. This applies to business users only.||Install all the analytics tools you want – it could be a 3rd party tool or it could be Google analytics. This helps you gain more insights about your site.|
|WordPress.com will not allow you to create an Online Store. You will be advised to switch to WordPress.org and buy hosting if you plan to create an Online Store.||Create an Online Store to sell physical or digital merchandise. Customize the way you accept payments whether it could be via credit card, PayPal or bitcoin.|
|WordPress.com takes care of maintenance of your site. No need to worry about backups, updates, optimization, etc.||Since this is your site and you pay for hosting, you are 100% for maintenance, keeping your site updated, regularly backed up, and optimizing it.|
|WordPress.com blogs are 100% FREE up to 3GB of storage. But you will have no customization options and you can’t have your own domain.||You will need to pay your hosting, domain registration, etc. Costs around $46-$100 a year.|
The most recommended between the two will always be to put your money on WordPress.org. Simply put: freedom, plugins, analytics, SEO and themes – it’s a winning choice!
Ultimately, the use of the WordPress platform is free. It all boils down to what domain to use and where it’s being hosted from. Which takes us to step two.
STEP TWO: Buying a Domain and Hosting
What’s a domain and what’s hosting? Why do you need them? Well, to crazily simplify things, let me define them as:
Domain Name – this is your blog or your site’s address. Think of it as your site’s residence name with the street address and all except you are going to name it however you want to name it. The trick is to come up with something catchy and original. Think about ‘facebook.com’ or ‘google.com’.
Web Hosting – this is where your blog lives. All the data, information, etc. of your blog or site are going to be stored in this place.
While the WordPress platform is free, you will need to invest around $3-4 per month for your Domain Name and Web Hosting if you want to setup a WordPress blog online.
There are a number of domain name servers that exist today. You will bump into very popular ones, such as GoDaddy, 1&1, and even BlueHost (though BlueHost is not purely a domain name registrar but also a hosting service provider). This is where you will register the name that you will call your blog or site, for example: myfoodtrips.com or lifeadventures.com.
To buy or register a domain name, you will need to go to the domain name server website and check if the name you have in mind is still available. If it is, you will need to sign up and pay for the registration fee, which is about $14.99 a year on average depending on the domain name. Best recommendation is to choose the .com top-level domain.
As soon as you’ve registered your domain and paid the monthly or yearly subscription, your domain name will automatically be registered and you will own that domain name until your registration expires. That’s generally how it works for most domain name registrars, such as GoDaddy.
Similar to the domain name registrars, there’s also a number of web hosting service providers that exist today. I mentioned BlueHost earlier, which is the most recommended web hosting for WordPress. There are other popular sites, such as HostGator, SiteGround, A2 Hosting.
The beauty about BlueHost, apart from it being the most recommended for those trying to setup up a WordPress blog, are the following:
- It is CHEAP
- It offers FREE domain name (so you can save your money from registering from a separate domain name registrar, which will cost you $15 per year)
- It is fast and reliable
- It offers one-click WordPress install with 24/7 support
- It allows you to host and unlimited number of sites
- It offers MORE space, bandwidth, email accounts and storage
- All of that for $3.95-$5.45 a month
To get started in signing up and buying web hosting with BlueHost, you can visit their site at www.bluehost.com and choose the best plan that will work for you. For starters, you can choose their basic package, which starts at $2.95 a month, perfect for those looking to setup a WordPress blog without any added extras.
STEP THREE: Installing WordPress
Now that you have signed up and paid for a web hosting and registered your domain, it’s time for you to install WordPress into your web hosting. To do that, you will need to login to BlueHost to get to your web hosting control panel or more commonly called cPanel.
The cPanel provides a one-click install for WordPress. Inside the cPanel are different icons that you can click depending on what action you will need to take. One of them is the WordPress icon that will let you perform a one-click install.
By clicking the WordPress icon under the “Website Builders” section of the cPanel, you will be taken to a page full of scripts. This might look intimidating but the key is to find the WordPress logo found under “Blogs” and a new screen will appear. The next steps will become pretty self-explanatory as you will need to follow through a set of instructions, which will include choosing or typing your domain name, creating your admin username and password, clicking on the Install Now button, etc.
STEP FOUR: Installing Themes and Plug-ins
Finally, your WordPress blog has been built. It’s time for you to decorate and optimize – similar to performing a D-I-Y house interior design and improvement. This is where WordPress themes and plug-ins come into play.
A theme is a template that should give you the functions that you need, it is pre-designed but you should be able to customize. It gives you the feel and look of your blog as well. There are different places to find great themes if you’re not into hard-coding CSS. Among the favorite sites are:
- WordPress Library
Choose a theme that fits your blog or site’s goal. Once you have chosen the theme of your choice, it’s now easy to install it into WordPress dashboard. Whether you purchased or downloaded a theme for free, it will come in a zip file format. You can easily upload it to your dashboard by following the simple steps below:
- Log on to your WordPress blog
- Locate the Appearance link found at the left side of the dashboard sidebar
- Click on Themes
- If you want to use one of the free themes shown in the panel, simply press Activate found under the theme
- If you want to install the theme that you have downloaded, click Add Theme
- Click Upload Themes
- Locate the .zip file saved in your local drive to upload the theme you want to use
To further customize your WordPress blog, you can install plug-ins. There are a thousand different types and sources of plug-ins. These plug-ins provide you with a wide-array of functionality in your blog, ranging from adding an Analytic functionality, Social Media options, etc.
To add a plug-in, you can start by clicking the Plugins link found at the right sidebar of your WordPress blog dashboard. It will show different types of plug-ins and you also have the option to search for a specific one you have in mind.
Alternatively, you can also use 3rd party plug-ins that you purchased and install it into when you setup a WordPress blog. To do this, follow these simple steps:
- Log on to your WordPress blog
- Click Plugins found at the right sidebar of the dashboard
- Click Upload Plugin button
- Click Choose File button and locate the file saved in your local drive to upload the plug-in you want (it’s a .zip file format most of the time)
- Click Install Now button
Voila! You have now a completely setup WordPress blog! It’s time for you to start writing…err, blogging your heart out!