How to Get Started with a WordPress Blog?

Do you want to communicate your opinions and thoughts on certain topics with the public? Do you want to share your life experiences or your knowledge to help others? Do you love using the computer? There are no doubts, you have to open a blog. And to do it, you cannot find a better solution than WordPress.

WordPress is a free and open-source platform through which everyone can create a blog in an easy and fast way, customizing it to the smallest details and starting immediately to write articles (posts, in the jargon). Would you like to try it? Then follow my advice on how to create a blog with WordPress and try it.

What Will You Need to Create a WordPress Blog?

There are three basic things you will need:

  1. Domain Name
  2. Hosting Service
  3. WordPress Theme

As you can see, some of the things you need to create a WordPress blog are not free. So, how much will it cost to start your blog? In most cases, the first year costs between $20-100.

1. Domain Name

To open a personal or business blog, you need some essential elements. The first is definitely the name, you have to choose the identity of your web space. A corporate blog does not have this problem, in principle, it takes the name of the business. For a personal project you have two solutions:

  • Name of the person
  • Idea or brand

The first case I recommend if you are a freelancer and you want to use the blog to let people know your views, the second can be a viable alternative to convey an idea, an individual project. For example, I choose ‘My Social Web’ because I want to give my point of view on the subject.

How to choose the name of a blog? It must be simple, easy to remember and to pronounce. Also to be written. These are also the characteristics of the domain: go to a domain provider such as Namecheap or GoDaddy and buy it, choose the extension suitable for your project (.com, .me, .blog) and take your identity.

I usually suggest buying the main top-level domains, in order to protect the brand. Question: I already have a domain, can I create a blog without buying it again? Of course, you have to point it with the new hosting. By the way, read the next paragraph to learn more.

2. Hosting Service

A hosting allows the blog to be reached, so you have to choose carefully. I suggest you invest something more and buy managed WordPress hosting, which guarantees good service and high performance. Better a Linux or Windows hosting for WordPress?

There is no real obligation but it is better to bet on Linux because it has all the resources needed for the CMS, while Windows to work must be modified by expert hands. On the other hand, there are minimum requirements to be met to make WordPress work: PHP7 or higher and MySQL 5.6 or higher.

Most people are aiming for free blogs because they do not have the skills to organize hosting, domain, and WordPress. They have no confidence with servers and other technical skills. But you know what? Today, there are hosting services like Cloudways that provide pre-installed WordPress. So you just have to buy and start writing: everything is automated!

3. WordPress Theme

We have arrived at another very important step for those who want to create a WordPress blog: the choice of the theme. There are WordPress themes for all needs and for all budgets.

First, you will have to choose whether to buy a free or premium theme. Without a doubt, free WordPress themes are available. In most cases, however, these have very limited functionality compared to premium themes.

If you choose to use a free theme, make sure it is maintained by the developer and is updated regularly. Furthermore, use only themes present in the official WordPress repository. These themes are in fact validated by the platform development team.

Whether you choose a premium theme or a free theme, follow these guidelines:

  • Select a theme that is compatible with the latest version of WordPress and has a good number of downloads.
  • Make sure the theme has a responsive layout. That is, that is perfectly visible on screens of various sizes (mobile and tablet included). Always more users use mobile devices to connect. Having a website optimized for mobile and tablet will allow you to ensure a positive experience.
  • Be compatible with the plugins you want to use. Let me explain:
    • if you want to create a multilingual WordPress blog, you will probably use WPML.
    • If you plan to add ecommerce functionality, you will probably install WooCommerce.
    • If you want to create a forum section, you will install bbPress.
  • To create an SEO-optimized blog (i.e., for indexing on search engines) choose an SEO-optimized WordPress theme.
  • Competition on domains and search engines is high. To ensure that you are found through organic searches, you will need to optimize your site and your content for search engines.

Configure WordPress Settings

First of all, I suggest you work on the default WordPress settings.

General Settings

On this page, make sure that the Site Title and the Tagline of your blog are correct (on many themes, these are in fact displayed on the online site).

Here you can also check that the administrator Email Address is correct or not. Finally, at the bottom of the page, you can change the language of the WordPress installation.

Reading

Here you can configure the display of posts in the blog and on the home. If you want to create a “classic” WordPress blog, most likely you want the latest posts to be shown on the homepage in chronological order.

On this page, make sure that the “Your latest posts” option is selected in correspondence to the entry “Full text”. You can also configure how many items to display per page.

Discussion

This is where you can work on the settings related to the comments section of your blog. In the beginning, I suggest you leave comments open to everyone. But activate the notifications, so be sure not to lose anyone and eventually delete those spam promptly.

The comments allow you to establish positive relationships with customers and to establish yourself as an expert by offering advice and useful information. Thanks to the comments, you can better understand how to help your users and how to improve the services offered.

Permalinks

This page is very important! Be sure to work on these options before writing and start sharing your posts.

The default option for permalinks is not optimal in terms of SEO. So I suggest you select the “Post Name” option so that the title of the post is displayed in the URLs of your posts.

Customize Theme Settings

Each theme has different options and a customized way to configure them. Usually, the theme options are however found in a separate category within the ‘Appearance’ section. You can also find different options within Appearance → Customize.

Here you will find different tabs. An important one is called the ‘Site Identity’, where you find the fields with the title and the motto of your blog again, and where you can upload the favicon image.

If you have difficulty configuring the theme you have chosen, you can contact the developer who created it. In case you have purchased a premium theme, you will have access to a real support portal, on Themeforest or on the developer’s website.

However, if you have downloaded one of the free themes available in the WordPress directory, you can leave your support requests in the forum area dedicated to the theme you have chosen.

Basic WordPress Plugins

Akismet

This plugin is so important that most hosting providers include it in the WordPress installation package. To check if it has already been installed, navigate to Plugins → Installed Plugins. If it is not there, install it by navigating to Plugins → Add New. You can search for it directly in the WordPress directory. Akismet helps protect your site from spam by blocking suspicious comments.

Contact Form 7

All sites should have a contact form and Contact Form 7 is the best plugin to create it. Once installed, you can have different objectives to initiate communication with your users and as a result, you will need to receive different data and create different forms.

Yoast SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This term refers to all activities aimed at optimizing your site so that it is indexed to the best on search engines – by making your pages stand out and giving them greater visibility.

Yoast SEO is a plugin that allows you to optimize your blog in a very simple way, guiding you through the insertion of keywords, creating the sitemap, and so on.

Shareaholic

Blogging and social networks go hand in hand. Social networks are undoubtedly among the most important tools for promoting your site. So make sure that at the bottom of every post you are sharing links. A great plugin to add them is Shareaholic, but there are many others.

MailChimp

A tool to connect the blog to the newsletter. Any marketing expert would recommend starting from the first post to gather the email addresses of your followers through the newsletter. Most likely, you will start with MailChimp plugin to link your MailChimp account to the blog, you need a plugin.

Optimize Images and Caching

Another aspect to pay attention to when creating a WordPress blog is images. There is no doubt that having a blog full of images, big and of good quality, is aesthetically very attractive. But you must also pay attention to the site’s performance, avoiding to leave the users to wait an infinite time before the pages are loaded.

Another trick that I suggest you take from the beginning is caching. Caching plugins, such as Breeze, is used to create a static copy of the pages on your site. When a user tries to visit one of your pages, this copy is shown, which loads much faster than the “standard procedure”. It is a good idea to optimize your site’s performance from the beginning!

Conclusion

At this point, you should know how to create a WordPress blog without too much hesitation. I advise you not to rush the steps described above: choosing a managed hosting provider and a quality theme are important choices that will influence the performance of your blog over time.

Creating a WordPress blog and bringing it to success is a process that requires you to think about many aspects. For any questions or concerns, remember that you can always leave a comment below. We will reply as soon as possible.