How To Start a WordPress Blog in 2020

The Beginner's Guide To Building A Successful Blog on WordPress.

Do you want to build your blogging site on WordPress?

Say no more.

This is the best place to get started and probably the last guide you’ll need to pull the strings together. WordPress is immensely becoming a blogging channel for most startups.

The stats show that about 34% of the websites on the internet are powered by WordPress’s content management system. And that includes our very own site. We've had more wins than losses.

Or to put it another way, it’s the most popular site builder and one that has a wide market share. With a few pointers to bank on, you can install WordPress and complete the setup process in just a few minutes.

This is a step-by-step guide to help you publish your first post in less than 20 minutes.

In this guide we’ll try to cover these keynotes:

  1. How to install WordPress
  2. Customizations and plugins for your WordPress blog
  3. Optimizing your blogging site for SEO
  4. Monetizing your blog
  5. Your hosting and domain options
  6. Choosing a compatible theme
  7. Setting up Google Analytics

So let’s get started.

How to set up a brand new blog on WordPress

Step1: Choose a hosting plan

Assuming that you’ll have to go with the self-hosted plan (WordPress.org), installing the software should be your outset starting point. As far as hosting is concerned, it’s flexibility is far much better than that of WordPress.com.I know this might be quite obscure, especially for a beginner.

So let's break it down:

WordPress.org Vs WordPress.com

Which one is more suitable for blogging?

Well, both are equally proficient. But first, let’s look at the infographics to see the gains and losses for each. In the end, we can evaluate what's available for us to lay our hands-on.

The huge difference is that with WordPress.com, is that you don’t need to source for any hosting plans. It’s an all-inclusive site-building option which technically means, you get a fully hosted package.

With WordPress.org, you need to look out for a hosting solution. The falloff is that users need to work alone while installing the WordPress software. The upside part of it is that it's open to diverse customizations.

WordPress.com, on the other hand, doesn’t need any 3rd party hosting servers. You also don't have to pay for your domain. That has been all figured out for you.

While everything comes with a price, WordPress.com has two versions; a free and premium version. The freebie is basic and restricts users from themes and plugins customizations. The other dealbreaker here is that your own domain name will have a WordPress suffix.

Like this one– blogwithmeaghan.wordpress.com

The only way to get around this is to look out for a hosting plan. WordPress’s paid version breaks free from these cutbacks. What makes it be on cloud nine is its unrestricted room for adjustments. You can add as many plugins as you want and make stunning changes to your blog's appearance.

A slightly discouraging fact is that it’s not fit for multiplex customizations in comparison to the open-source software. So you must know which platform is best and practically possible to work with for your forthcoming blogging project.

Most starters prefer the WordPress.org software over its alternative. The basic reason here is you're free to install whichever extensions you need and add your code to the initial template.

And probably that’s what makes it a free to use solution. But that’s sensible only if you can single-handedly manage to complete the setup process and pay for the 3rd party hosting fees.

We highly recommend Bluehost as the elementary hosting solution for new bloggers who want to sign up on WordPress.org.

Why should I host my blog on Bluehost?

  • Most of its plans are cheap. For as low as $2.65 per month, you can get unlimited access to its hosting solution. Since Bluehost is the official recommended service for WordPress, the company offers up to 60% discount on new sign-ups.
  • Each plan comes with a free SSL certificate. This secures your site’s logins, data transfers, and credit card transactions.
  • Bluehost is designed to ideally be compatible with WordPress. Its customer support is 24/7 active. Even better, the team could help you set up your WordPress site in a few minutes.
  • The hosting solution has a control panel to help you with backups, your blog’s security, domains, themes, and so much more.
  • You get a free domain once you sign up with Bluehost. That isn’t common with other hosting services.

Signing up on Bluehost

To land on this ground safely, here’s a step-by-step to help you host your WordPress blog with ease.

So this link should lead you to Bluehost’s official page. It puts on view the pricing for each plan. If you’re just getting started, the Basic plan is perfect for all your bare-bone blogging needs.

When the time to scale up is due, you can seamlessly migrate to the Bluehost Plus or even a higher plan.

bluehost hosting pricing - how to start a wordpress blog

Now, the next step is to key in a domain name for your blog.

bluehost hosting signup - how to start a wordpress blog

Like we mentioned before, Bluehost gives you a free domain. But if you already have one, then well and good. You can as well sign up with your existing domain.

Lastly, you’ll need to put all your billing information in order.

Hosting your WordPress blog with SiteGround

SiteGround is a reliable WordPress hosting service. Its StartUp plan is a first-rate option for a first-time blogger looking to launch their site using WordPress.

The plan gives you up to 10 Gb of web space and its control panel is packed with WordPress’s essential features. Some of the selling points for SiteGround’s basic plan include:

  • A free WordPress installation support
  • WordPress automatic updates
  • A free customizable email account
  • Daily backup
  • 24/7 WordPress support

SiteGround’s launching feature for WordPress functions in just minutes and allows you to transfer your site's data from another hosting company via its Migrator plugin. Unlike other transfer plugins, it’s free to use even on the premium plans.

The security updates on SiteGround are in sync with the SSL certification standards. You don’t need to struggle with any setup wizard since the encryption tools are already pre-installed.

Step 2: Install the WordPress Software (free blog builder)

This process might seem a bit swampy especially for beginners. But surprisingly, it’s so easy to install WordPress.

Supposing that you're a newcomer in the world of blogging, we’ll have to go with the most basic installation option. If you’re using a hosting provider like Bluehost, you can access the WordPress database via its automated setup solution.

Before anything else, you must check the support pages or your hosting provider’s control panel to check if it has the installation procedure. If not, you’ll, unfortunately, have to do it manually.

So the best method for a starter is to choose a hosting plan that comes with WordPress already pre-installed. Fortunately, Bluehost has substantially got you covered.

Once you finish the sign-up process, Bluehost should send you an email with detailed instructions on how to gain access to the customer’s control panel.

To start the “one-click” installation process, you need to:

1. Log in to Bluehost.

If the credentials are correct, Bluehost will redirect you to a short and easy setup wizard.

2. Still, on your control panel, click the “websites” option.

Go straight to the WordPress icon. Bluehost’s auto installation process should begin on the instant.

Just in case you don't understand how an Autoinstaller works, here’s a concise roundup of what you need to know. So, rather than setting up your WordPress website manually, the auto-installer gets it done with less input. You just need to fill in the necessary information and hit the “next” button.

The marketplace is profoundly filled to the brim with top tier auto-installers. If things get a little glitchy, you can try out any of these alternatives:

  1. QuickInstall
  2. MOJO marketplace
  3. Fantastico

Each of these options is outrightly distinct from the other when it comes to the installation procedure. They, however, tend to collectively achieve the same set of goals.

And once you link to any of these auto-installers, you should come across an “Install Now” button.

3. Set up your domain name

bluehost domain name

The next step here requires you to pick a name that superbly identifies what your blog is set to cover and polish up in a specific niche market.

Right after the step above, you need to key in your username, a password to secure access, and your site’s name or otherwise referred to as the “Site Title”. Also, don’t forget to fill the “Site Tagline” checkbox and set your email address.

While this process is finalizing, you can concurrently set up your most preferred theme. If everything runs successfully, you’ll see an “Installation complete” alert. It’s more or less of a green light to confirm that all credentials are correct.

Lastly, click the Installation complete button which will redirect you to the login page. Needless to say that you’ll need to enter your username and password to access the admin account.

And that’s it!

That’s how to install WordPress. It’s relatively easy, isn't it?

So it’s time to give you a freshman sort of exposure on how to customize your WordPress blog.

Step 3: Choose a Theme

A good WordPress theme serves as an anchor position for any blog in a pretty gratifying way. For a beginner, there’s a whole directory of free themes to pick from. If none of the freebies look appealing, you can start with a paid one. There are tons of premium themes available in the marketplace.

Installing a free theme is perhaps one of the easiest configurations you’ll come across while setting up your WordPress blog. As soon as you install a new theme, it will change your blog’s appearance to give it a drastically far-reaching effect.

Since you might not be excited by your default theme, it makes practical sense to change it entirely.  A user can access their WordPress admin page to access the pre-made themes and test their functionality.

To do that, you need to type your site’s address on the search engine and add “wp-admin” at the end. This should take you to the dashboard area. From this spot, it's far much easier to do a theme search and get a hold one which is practically consistent with your blog’s niche area.

So, once you login to the dashboard, click on the Appearance option, then go to Themes:

Just hit the Add New button to configure your most preferred theme. It’s that simple!

You’ll quickly notice that your WordPress comes with pre-installed themes. But if none of those seem fit enough to electrify your blog, you can choose to add new ones from WordPress’s themes directory.

Well, aside from this you can find exceptional themes from any of these platforms:

  1. ThemeForest
  2. StudioPress
  3. Elegant Themes
  4. CSSIgniter

Theme filtering options

This part lets you handpick what you want your theme to have. In other words, you get to tweak your WordPress blog’s theme using a torrent of filter buttons.

From the onset, WordPress allows you to sort themes by popularity, featured, or latest collection. That seems logical, but what’s handier is the Feature Filter button.

To put it into perspective, the button lets you set a threshold to help you search for themes that match your needs. You can choose any color that suits your preference. If you plan to run a personal blog, you can also customize the layout to have a couple of columns or sidebars.

Practically, it’s not always easy to build responsive widgets, especially for your homepage. But arguably, WordPress seems like a receptive platform where you can customize your pages without any mind-boggling coding.

Step 4: Write and publish your first blog post

For a blogger, words are more like bread and butter. This is one of the primary steps to monetizing your blog. In essence, WordPress has an interface similar to that of Google Docs. On that note, you can draft your piece from there and make the best use of all its functions.

wordpress dashboard

As you can see below, the dashboard is strapped with all the buttons you probably need to start writing an instantly appealing blog post.

new blog post wordpress

And once you’re done, you can hit the publish button and proceed to create a new post. It’s safe to use an automated grammar checker like Grammarly to keep off any embarrassing errors in your future blog posts.

Step 5: Tweak your site with blog-aligned WordPress plugins

Merely having a live blog site is unfortunately not sufficient. It’s, therefore, crucial to wrap our heads around some of the most productive plugins.

But why is this important?

Your blog requires optimal functionality to rank up against any potential competitors. There are thousands of free plugins to work with; over 50,000+ to be precise.

This part will put more emphasis on the best and most installed plugins for WordPress. From an experience perspective, I’d say that these are must-have tools especially if you want to optimize your blog's overall performance.

In that regard, you should consider factors such as your blog’s SEO, page loading speed, customer relationship management (CRM), social media integration, among other pertinent pointers.

Our site, at all times, uses these extensions:

Yoast SEO

Typically, SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is all about improving the quality and visibility of your blog posts. In turn, your site ends up ranking higher on the search engine.

Yoast SEO is almost entirely designed to help a new site like yours get visitors who highly convert. It not only helps you optimize the keywords, key phrases, and synonyms but also checks if Google can keep up to speed with your text.

For premium users, the level of keyword optimization is a notch above the free plan. The tool could potentially grow your audience and boost your blog’s rankings. Yoast SEO auto generates useful insights to help you analyze the performance of these indicators:

  1. The readability score of your blog post. Just so you’re aware, about 55% of readers or rather visitors, spend 15 seconds or less on your post. In other words, your content needs not to be repetitive or have long and vague sentences.
  2. SEO score – this plugin puts you on the radar as to whether your internal or external links are concisely knocked together. It also suggests a bunch of related links to use.
  3. Page preview – this part shows you a snippet of how your post appears both on the search engine and social media pages. You get to view how distinct your post is from your competitors.

Alongside these cues, Yoast allows you to set sharply defined meta descriptions, measure the usage of your focus keyphrase, and rolls out intrinsic criteria to beat the search bots.

WP Forms

WP Forms is a top-rated extension among other WordPress plugins. This is a drag & drop tool to help you build captivating forms without writing any code. You, therefore, don't need to hire an expert– take my word for it.

So why do you need a contact form builder?

To highly optimize the number of page views for your blog posts, you need to build an effective customer engagement technique.

What’s strikingly original with WP Forms is the easy fact that the blogger gets to execute these tasks without taking into account, any savvy skills:

  1. Use its pre-built templates to create email subscription forms for marketing.
  2. Integrate with popular payment gateways such as PayPal or Stripe and build nifty payment forms in minutes.
  3. Create an instant notifications system. You can use it to promptly respond to any leads from your overall visits.

If you just need a baseline solution for your blog, you can try out the free WP Forms Lite plugin.

MonsterInsights

This tool is otherwise referred to as the Google Analytics of WordPress. Your blog needs a tracking tool to keep an eye on all actions taking place in real-time.

MonsterInsights is devised to measure these metrics:

  1. Your blog’s conversion rate
  2. Number of transactions
  3. Total revenue(monthly, daily, annually)
  4. Average order value
  5. Daily sessions
  6. Average session duration
  7. Number of pageviews
  8. Bounce rate

Ranked as the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress, MonsterInsights is loaded with a responsive dashboard to give you incisive stats, every single minute.

Akismet

Your blog site is prone to hundreds, if not thousands, of spam comments each day. Akismet works as a spam protection tool for your blog. It filters annoying spams and elevates your site’s overall reputation and trustworthiness.

As broadly as possible, this plugin helps WordPress users make their websites a safe-haven by checking all the comments and contact form submissions automatically.

Akismet generates a status report for spam comments and inexact URL links.

VaultPress (backups)

It makes significant sense to always have a contingency plan in case of any future mishaps. Your site is prone to detrimental risks that could wipe off your data in a flash.

To keep that from happening the VaultPress plugin helps you backup your site’s information in real-time. The digital tool works even when it’s in offline mode.

VaultPress’s plan includes a site migration service. So if you feel like your present hosting plan is pricey or shaky, you can opt-out and transfer all the pertinent information on its so-called vault.

The pricing is modest for beginners if we put in comparison, plans from other backup options. For all solutions available on VaultPress, these are the conclusive perks you'll get a hold of:

  • Protection from security threats(hackers, phishers).
  • Virus scanning
  • Protects your blogging site from malware disrupts.
  • Real-time backups
  • Wipes out all spam comments. Upholds your SEO's reputation.

Step 6: Add social media buttons to your blog

Sharing your posts on social media is a worthwhile strategy to promote your content. With social media buttons, readers can follow your blog and share your posts with their peers conveniently.

As far as this marketing tactic goes, it makes it much effortless to engage with your target audience via social media platforms. Shared Counts is best known for its striking ease of use. It’s an open software that is both developer-friendly and pretty much engaging for beginners. This plugin allows you to add these buttons:

  • Twitter follow/share/hashtag buttons
  • Facebook follow/share button
  • LinkedIn follow plugin
  • YouTube subscribe button
  • Pinterest follow button
  • Instagram badge

You can download this plugin either from Github.com or WordPress.org.

Practically, social icons link to your social media accounts. To do that, you need to set up a widget section on your blog’s theme. This way, your visitors can easily connect to your active social accounts. As a result, you get to generate more loyal followers for each listed account.

It’s also groundbreaking to have a remarkably large number of social shares for your viral content. Both share and follow buttons work to help the blogger promote their business’ dominance and presence in a niche market.

These social sharing buttons can help you drive immense traffic to your WordPress blog, build a definitive social proof, and generate more leads via call-to-action strategies.

Fortunately, WordPress being the king of plugins, setting these share buttons is such a direct route;– it’s no brainer.

Step 7: Monetize your WordPress blog

Like any other serious investment, you need a financially rewarding business plan or your blog. This might seem like a rat race considering the number of monetized blogs on the search engine.

Online marketing is becoming one of the most lucrative strategies to create a money-making stream for your WordPress blog.

Your only homework could be to attract over 10,000 unique visits to your blog each month. But that might take so much time. It goes way beyond subscribing to a web hosting service and a blogging platform.

Take the first step to define your niche. You need to focus on repeated visits and creating content that converts. Create value and have high-quality content to make your blog informative and engaging.

So here are a couple of proven methods you can hang on to monetize your blog:

Email marketing

You’ve probably come across this term, but you might not clearly understand what it takes to get on board. Email marketing has been one of the ‘grey-haired’ ways to make money for many blog owners.

The first rule is to create an authentic email list. But how do get there fast? You can get started by setting a newsletter signup form on your website. And that’s just one way to go about it– there are other ways out.

Another prompt way to build a list is to have elementary fields — you can include the first name and email address only.

To begin marketing via email and build a better relationship with your customers, you need to work with the right plugins. Some of the best email marketing extensions that work perfectly with WordPress include:

  1. Constant Contact (read our review)
  2. MailChimp (complete guide)
  3. Campaign Monitor (review)
  4. ConvertKit (full review)
  5. MailerLite (full review)

These tools are powerful and help you automate all the notifications you need to send to your subscribers. They help you build a loyal following from scratch. With email marketing, you can push campaigns to target a specific demographic and create leads that convert into sales.

Affiliate marketing

You can use your blog to create a passive income stream using basic tactics. Besides the email list promotions, the blogger can optimize their content to rank better on Google, and close Amazon products promotion deals. There are so many pay-per-click programs to work with. You just need to stage yourself centrally in a niche market.

Affiliate marketing allows the blog owner to get a commission per sale anytime a visitor makes a purchase using their tracking link. You don’t need to create your products or services. To monitor your revenue from your existing content, you can use any of these handpicked WordPress affiliate management plugins:

  1. MonsterInsights
  2. ThirstyAffiliates
  3. Pretty Links
  4. RafflePress
  5. OptinMonster
  6. WP RSS Aggregator
  7. AdSanity

These tools give you graphical data which represents how fast or slow your ads or content are yielding through link building strategies.

If for example, you run an automotive content blog, you can persuade readers by recommending some of the most durable spark plugs and sink in a link of where they can purchase them from. Another perfect option to generate more revenue is to offer promo codes if a reader buys a product using your affiliate link.

Selling ebooks/courses/ digital products

WordPress has adaptive themes which give you a platform to sell how-to guides, eBooks, and publications. You can create digital products like webinars and sell them on your blog using “buy’’ buttons.

Readers want to get insights from site owners with an expertise in a niche topic. So if you’re an alpha-nerd, you could write about technology, give solutions and prospects that sync with your blog’s content.

To monetize your blog, you can sell digital products to visitors though PDFs, video tutorials, SaaS products, and long-form courses. But the catch is, you can't make a six-figure income overnight. It takes time and effort to build a viable business through blogging.

Pros of building your blogging site on WordPress

Open to customizations

WordPress is arguably the leading content management system on the search engine. It’s a choice for over a third of site owners and the number is still growing.

And the concise reason for its staggering dominance it that it has an interface that’s suitable for diverse blogging needs. You get a centralized dashboard that lets the user personalize their blogging site quite broadly.

WordPress, to a great extent, is designed to help bloggers scale to any level. From personal blogs to industrial-sized sites, podcasts, portfolios, you name it– WordPress seems to have no predetermined limit.

Indefinite themes

The number of WordPress themes is too large to count. I’m not bluffing guys. There’s a huge variety of professionally built themes to choose from. Themeforest, to be precise, is the hub for free themes, especially for blogs. So if you’re a beginner, rest assured that you can hang on a responsive theme for your WordPress blog and access future updates even with a zero budget.

You still have an option to subscribe to any of WordPress’s premium themes. Its directory is full of savvy designers who are pretty much conscious of the overwhelmingly impressive trends.

Most of WordPress’s paid themes have a live preview feature. You don’t need to leave your credit card details to catch sight of a theme’s appearance and layout design.

Extensive plugins to work with

I kid you not–there’s no other place to find gripping plugins to help you customize your blog other than WordPress’s very own directory.

If you need to create a basic site, WordPress allows you to narrow down to the underlying features which help your site grow exponentially. For example, the WooCommerce extension is an open-source e-commerce site builder built on WordPress. Alongside running your blog, you can use the extension to set up an online store and virtually sell products or services.

Since we’ve already touched on a few high-ranking plugins to use for your blog, activating them should happen in a snap.

Less expensive

In comparison to other content management systems, WordPress is considerably cheaper when it comes to building and maintaining your blog.

One question we get asked times without number is whether WordPress is a free to use website builder.

Well, you need to get the facts straight.

WordPress operates as free and open-source software. This implies that it’s free to install the CMS. Not to mention the number of free themes and plugins it comes along with. There are, however, a couple of significant cost implications to get your blog on the web.

Even so, it’s relatively cheaper to host your WordPress blog since you get cut-rate offers on Bluehost which is way better than other hosting companies. The hosting plan also comes with a free domain. Any extra costs may occur if you need to use premium themes or plugins.

An active WordPress community

We all start as newbies, right?

The community on WordPress works as a beginner’s guide to get things up and running within the shortest possible time. It hosts quite several adept contributors. There’s so much to learn from this end.

You can find skilled developers to help you handle complex plugins and other significant configurations. The WordPress community gives you prompt feedback on any questions you may have.

WordPress helps you rank better

It’s no secret that search engine optimization goes a long way to give your blogging site a higher ranking on the search engine.

The WordPress Yoast SEO plugin has over 5 million installations. It’s a first-string tool that helps many online businesses especially blogging platforms, to establish a surpassing authority on the web.

Yoast, together with Clearscope, both help you grade your content and analyze its potential ranking capacity for your content and videos as well. This alone makes it possible for WordPress sites to rank higher and faster.

Blogs built on WordPress are mobile-friendly

Mobile traffic is now transcending over that of desktops. It’s becoming pragmatic to make your website more effective for mobile visitors.

WordPress is, fortunately, a site builder with features to help you build responsive widgets that are mobile-optimized. In most instances, they fit mobile screen sizes and load pretty fast.

Another key factor that makes WordPress a mobile-friendly site builder is the number of blog-tuned themes which in fact, don’t require any third-party plugins to fill the mishaps.

The interface on the WordPress dashboard already has the visitors in mind. You can set push notifications to keep your readers posted on any new updates. There are no lengthy setup procedures to maximize mobile users’ experience.

Cons of building your blogging site on WordPress

The SEO functionality is a bit complicated for beginners

The learning curve is pretty steep for starters. In other words, it’s not friendly more precisely to users with little or no experience. You might face some level of difficulty trying to put a mere permalink in order.

The Yoast SEO plugin has some stiff areas too. There have been numerous reports that this tool can pose your blogging site to imminent security threats or slow your pages’ loading speed.

If you’re on a low budget, you can’t make effective use of its advanced SEO features. That’s a gloomy setback if you put into consideration the goal to garner a better ranking on the search engine.

Skills mastery is difficult for most beginners

WordPress is not as perfect as you may expect it to be. You might, later on, need to learn some HTML and CSS coding skills if you plan to manage your WordPress blog by yourself.

If you’re not using any of the managed web hosting companies, you’ll need to take care of your blog’s security updates and backups. Another drawback is that WordPress doesn’t come with drag-and-drop features like those of other site builders such as Wix.com.

Fortunately, there are drag-and-drop page builder plugins for WordPress such as Beaver and Divi which have stunning and boundless design options.

To sum up…

Taking everything into account, WordPress seems like a facile option for users who need to start a blog in less than 15 minutes.

Depending on what your objectives are, you can tailor-make your budget to fit and adapt to your exceptional needs. Besides this article, there are simple tutorials on the WordPress community to help you build a professional blogging site.

If you need any assistance with building your WordPress blog, just drop a comment below and we’ll be prompt to give conclusive feedback.