Alright, so you’re ready to start your blog, but you don’t know where to start.
I know all the talk about self-hosting, https certificates, and domain names can be confusing. But don’t worry, I’m here to help. So what do you say we just cut right to the chase?
With this step-by-step, no fluff guide, you can learn how to start a WordPress blog right now…for dirt cheap.
*This post contains affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase after using them, I earn a small commission, which helps support this blog at no additional cost to you. Keep in mind that I only link to quality products that I use myself and feel would be beneficial for my readers. Read my full affiliate disclosure for more information.
First things first, if you haven’t already signed up for my Blogging Basics 5-day e-mail course, here’s your chance to do so. This course goes over the basic foundations of setting up and optimizing a successful blog for the long run.
Did I mention that it’s completely FREE?
So What Is WordPress?
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS), with over 18 million installations across the planet. It allows its users to easily create, edit and publish web content without prior knowledge of programming.
All the big-time bloggers use WordPress for a good reason. It’s a functional, flexible CMS and you can pretty much do whatever you want with the right tools. BUT… not all WordPresses were created equally. *gasp*
Pay close attention to this section. It’s the most important part of this post.
There are two versions of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
They are entirely different, and it’s important that you understand why before I show you how to start a WordPress blog.
WordPress.com allows you to create a blog that lives on their server. Although it might be tempting to go this route since it’s free and super easy to set up, I STRONGLY recommend that you don’t do this if you want to turn your blog into a business.
You’ll have no flexibility, and you’ll never fully own your content. It also makes it incredibly difficult to monetize your blog.
WordPress.org allows you to use the EXACT same software for free. The only difference is that you’ll have to find a place on the web for it to live. This is known as “self-hosting” your blog.
When you self-host your WordPress blog, you’ll be able to install plugins (additions that allow you to further customize your website) and change anything you want. Plus, most brands only work with self-hosted blogs and Google is said to favor them in search results. It’s literally the only way to go.
There’s no need to worry if you’re already established on WordPress.com… it’s super easy to transfer to a self-hosted platform with SiteGround.
To tell you the truth, I originally hosted my first blog at WordPress.com for a few years. As incredibly nerve-wracking as it was, switching over to self-hosting was the single best decision I ever made for my blog.
So How Do I Self-Host My WordPress Blog?
I know it can sound daunting at this point in the game. Don’t worry; it’s so much easier than you think.
While there are several hosting platforms to choose from, I’m gonna talk about SiteGround since it’s what I use for both of my blogs. In fact, it’s the choice of many big-time bloggers and officially recommended by WordPress.org.
What draws people to SiteGround is that it’s lightning fast, reliable and secure (all of which are necessary). Their customer service is also on point; every time I contact them with questions, they respond within a few minutes.
Like I stated above, it’s super easy to transfer your website to SiteGround, whether it’s on WordPress.com or a different host. In fact, they’ll even do all the site migrating for you, for free, with just the click of a button.
Last, but not least, they make it super affordable to self-host your blog. In fact, SiteGround has allowed me to offer you the opportunity to get started for just $3.95 per month. I mean, that’s less than a cup of coffee.
This deal could go away at any time so jump on it! I don’t want you to miss out on quality hosting for such a reasonable price.
So now that we’ve laid the foundation, let’s talk about how to set up your WordPress blog.
Follow these exact steps to start a WordPress blog today:
- Step 1: Sign Up for SiteGround
- Step 2: Choose Your Domain Name
- Step 3: Install WordPress
- Step 4: Log In To Your DashBoard
- Step 5: Install a Theme
- Step 6: Design Your Brand
- Step 7: Add Finishing Touches
- Step 8: Start Writing Content and Promoting It
Step 1: Sign Up For SiteGround
Once you click through my link, you’ll end up at the following page:
You’ll notice that there are several options to choose from, but since you’re setting up a WordPress blog, click on the “Managed WordPress Hosting” option. Simple as that.
Next, you’ll come to a page with the different hosting options.
Naturally, the more expensive packages will offer faster speeds and more options for bigger blogs. However, it’s completely acceptable to go with the StartUp plan when you first start. You can easily upgrade at any time.
All plans come with benefits like free migration, 24-hour support, a 30-day money-back guarantee, free Cloudflare CDN (which helps speed up your website), and even daily backups.
They also give you a free SSL (secure sockets layer), which encrypts the link between a browser and your website. This makes your site start with https:// instead of
Basically, you just need to know that this makes your website secure, which makes Google happy… and we ALWAYS want Google to be happy.
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
The next screen lets you register your domain name, also known as the address to your website(ex: thebestdayever.blog).
Remember to choose something relevant to your brand and easy to remember. If your readers can easily recognize it, they’re more likely to come back… and trust me, you want that.
If you want to use a domain that isn’t offered through SiteGround (like .blog or .io), you can register it somewhere else, like GoDaddy, and then check the “I already have a domain option.”
The next page lets you finish signing up for your SiteGround account and billing options. You’ll have the option to be billed monthly or annually for a lower price.
You can also choose to add the “Site Scanner” option to your package, which checks your site for Malware. Again, you probably don’t need this to start with, and you can always upgrade later (which you should- popular blogs will eventually attract those pesky hackers).
Step 3: Set Up WordPress
Once you’re finished signing up, you’ll get an email with a button to launch the wizard.
When you launch the wizard, it will take you to the following screen. Here you will select that you wish to install WordPress. You also have the option to transfer your website (which is how you would move your site from WordPress.com or another hosting plan).
On the lower have of
Choose something original along with a complex password.
After you press confirm, it’s time to complete the setup.
Give it a couple of minutes to load and then BAM… you’re done!
Step 4: Log In To Your Dashboard
There are two ways to get to your dashboard, and they’re both easy.
- You can access it through your SiteGround dashboard.
- You can just add /wp-admin/ to the end of your domain name.
Either way will take you to the login screen, where you will put in your credentials.
Congratulations! You are now logged in to your very own WordPress blog!
Step 5: Install a Theme
The theme is the front-end design of your webpage aka what the user sees. When you first set up your blog, a generic default theme from WordPress will be installed.
If you have a lower budget, a theme is something you can cut costs on in the beginning. There are tons of great free options that will work just fine, including the default theme. Here are 50 of the best free themes from codeinwp.com.
However, as your blog grows larger, you’ll eventually need to upgrade.
I use GeneratePress on both my sites since it’s one of the fastest themes available. In fact, I just recently implemented this theme when it was recommended to me by a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert.
Just by switching my theme to GeneratePress, I was able to increase my Google PageSpeed score drastically.
It’s also super easy to use and has a ton of different options to make your blog look exactly how you want.
Installing a Theme
You will need to download a compressed folder version of the theme from the developer’s website. Then, go to Appearance > Themes
Click the “Add New,” and then “Upload Themes” buttons and upload the zipped folder.
After it is installed, go back to the Appearance menu and click Customize to make the theme your own.
Step 4: Design Your Brand
According to huge bloggers like Neil Patel, one of the best things you can do for your blog in 2019 is to create and grow your brand. When you start pumping out exceptional content, your readers will begin to associate it with your brand.
If they like what they see, they’ll be excited to read more in the future.
When I start noticing well-branded content on Pinterest, I usually feel compelled to check out the blog behind it. A solid brand will make you look professional, and you will stand out against the millions of others.
Here are some ideas to help you get started with a brand:
- Pick 1-3 colors to use in your graphics, logo, theme, etc. These colors should compliment each other and will help create brand recognition. Paletton.com is a free website that allows you to pick a base color and then shows you color schemes built around that color.
- Your logo is quite possibly the most important part of your brand. You can hire a freelancer on UpWork.com to make one for pretty cheap. The other option is to create your own for free at Canva.com
- Use fonts that will make you stand out from the crowd. When it comes to graphic design and branding, nothing makes me happier than pretty, original fonts. You can find some killer font duo packages for cheap at CreativeMarket.com
- Come up with a catch phrase or something else that differentiates you from everyone else.
Remember, when it comes to branding, your goal is to make people remember you. Be original and have fun with it.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
There are several small things you need to do before launching your blog, but I will save the nitty-gritty details for another time and another blog post. That being said, here are some basics you should look into (sign up for my free course
Plugins are extra software programs that you can integrate into your WordPress site to add functionality. There are literally millions of plugins to choose from, and it’s up to you to decide which ones you want.
I will tell you this:
- Plugins can drastically slow down your site. Always make sure to get the lightest possible option and only use plugins you absolutely need.
- WordPress comes stock with a “Jetpack” plugin. Uninstall it before you even get to know it. It’s notorious for slowing down websites, and the features you like can be replaced with better options.
- Hackers try to get in through plugins. Make sure always to update when possible and choose ones that are continually being updated.
For the sake of time, I’m just gonna tell you about a few essential plugins you should look at. Check out my ultimate list of blogging resources to see all the plugins I use.
So, if I could only choose five plugins to use, this is what they would be:
✓ Yoast SEO – This plugin is a MUST! It allows you to put your targeted keyword in (for example: “how to start a blog”), and helps you optimize your post for Google searches. There’s a paid version, and it’s great, but you can definitely start with the free one.
✓ Social Warfare – This adds social media buttons to all your posts, pin-it buttons to your images, and allows you to customize what images/text will be shown when someone shares it. It’s one of the fastest social plugins and has a decent free version.
✓ ConvertKit – You’ll always hear that the money is in your e-mail list. Think about it… you’ll always own your list, it allows you to build relationships with your readers (which helps drive traffic and affiliate sales), and it will never break your heart like a Google algorithm change. ConvertKit makes it crazy easy to build your list, which you should start doing from the get-go. I’m also able to provide you with an opportunity to try it for free (this offer could go away at any time, so jump on it).
✓ WP Rocket – Google is really starting to crack down on page speed. In fact, tons of bloggers lost a huge chunk of Google traffic last year for having slower websites. WP Rocket helps you optimize your site and make it much faster. It’s the choice of most big bloggers.
✓ ShortPixel Image Optimizer – Since we live in such a visual world, it’s really important to use a lot of images in your posts. They help break up your content and make it easier to read. However, they can be a big speed-killer as well. ShortPixel compresses and optimizes your images to help keep your page fast.
If you use affiliate links, you need to set up a disclosure page that you link to in the footer. Otherwise, you could be sued by the FTC. Yikes.
You could also find some free and paid templates to use on the internet that would probably cover you, to begin with.
Before you launch, don’t forget to set up social media accounts for your blog. I’d highly recommend Pinterest, Instagram, a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
Don’t forget to brand them with your colors, images, logos, and catch-phrases.
Trust me when I say that your readers want to know more about you. Set up an “About Me” page to show them who you are and why you do what you do.
A contact page is something else that you should quickly set up so your readers can easily get in touch with you. Don’t you hate when you can’t find a way to contact someone?
Step 6: Write Content
Okay, your blog is up and ready to go! Now you just need to start pumping out quality content like it’s your job…because, now, it kinda is.
Remember, it’s gonna take some time and effort, but you can do it! I have faith in you!
Your Turn: Do you feel like you now know how to start a WordPress blog? Is there anything else you need help with? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below…