Before I get into this guide on how to set up a WordPress blog, I want to tell you a story.
Back in 2015, I thought that to have a website and a blog I would need to learn how to hand-code it myself.
So glad I was wrong about that.
However, I did not know that at the time, so I decided to set sail on my journey to learn how to code.
I spent about a month at an online course named Treehouse and started to get bored.
I am not bashing Treehouse; in fact, if you DO want to learn how to code, it is a great place to start. I did not fit in with their training.
I decided it was not for me.
Lucky, I found out about CMS (Content Management Systems) and in particular, WordPress.
Today’s guide is all about WordPress but not wordpress.com.
I will make a future comparison on wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org. However, today we are focusing on .org.
How to Set Up a WordPress Blog: What is Your Reason
People need a website (or in this case a blog) for different reasons.
Maybe you need to expand your business, and the best way to do that is by tackling the online world.
It could be because you see somebody else making a full-time income and it inspires you (like how I got inspired by Neil Patel).
It is rare. However, there are still creators who make content because they enjoy making it (I am the best example of this... hopefully).
Also, let me know in the comment section at the bottom why you want to start blogging.
The Amount of Time I Spend Blogging
There is a misconception that blogging only takes a few hours a week and you can make millions of dollars while sitting on a beach.
If you are looking for a "Get Rich Scheme," then this guide is not for you.
The amount of time you will spend blogging does depend on a few things such as:
However, you will not see any online success if you spend 2 hours a week working on your blog.
Usually, I spend as much time as somebody working a full-time job in the UK (About 40+ hours a week).
That depends on what type of content I am creating and what the end goal of that content is.
Here’s how I spend my time:
See, blogging can be much work. If you still think you are interested in hearing more, let’s get into setting up a WordPress blog.
Choosing a Hosting Plan
The most important choice you will ever need to make when you start a blog is which hosting provider you choose to host your site.
If you choose an unreliable hosting company or one that gives you slow performance, then you are screwed.
WordPress is free.
The catch to this is that you have to host the site on your own.
There are many hosting companies out there and millions of blogs telling you that this hosting company is better than this one.
I am not going to do that.
Instead, I am going to tell you about three different places to get hosting from & why I think they could be the best option for you.
You can decide which one you feel you would like to try out for yourself.
Bluehost is one of the more popular hosting companies out there.
They work with WordPress (who has personally recommended BlueHost).
They are a solid choice to go with for two reasons. It is cheap (their basic plan is $2.95/MO); however, you have to pay annually, and their cPanel is easy to use & get the hang off.
I will mention that their customer service has seen mixed reviews and as a person who takes a companies customer service seriously, I would advise you to take that into account.
I know, Wealthy Affiliate sounds weird for a hosting company. That is because they are not solely a hosting company.
I chose to add them in here for several reasons.
First, they offer training on how to earn money online (as their name suggests), they offer a keyword tool in addition to your training and 50 website storage.
Finally, they have free SSL, protection against WhoIs and 24/7 backup & support.
The downside to Wealthy Affiliate is that they do not use a cPanel nor do they offer a CDN (Content Delivery Network) with their package.
I am currently hosting my site with Wealthy Affiliate.
I am not going to be hosting it there forever (again because they focus on teaching you affiliate marketing not hosting.), however, for now, if you want to see the quality of their hosting, look at my site.
I am no longer hosting my websites at Wealthy Affiliate. My new hosting company is WPX Hosting.
WPX Hosting is my most recommended provider to join.
Sure, they might be a little expensive for some beginners (staring out at $24.99/MO), but it is worth the money.
With super fast loading times, free site migration from any other hosting provider and incredible support & protection it is my & should be your number #1 choice.
Quoting from RankXL
"Aside from super-fast speeds, the service I’ve received from Traffic Planet (WPX Hosting's previous brand name) has been like nothing I’ve experienced elsewhere.
Ask them a question about their live chat and see for yourself. Someone responds almost instantly.
I’ve been using Bluehost for a long time without any problems, so I’m not going to say they’re a terrible option and you should transfer your sites immediately."
Unlike Bluehost, you can pay monthly for those who can not afford to pay a yearly fee, and unlike Wealthy Affiliate, they do offer a fantastic alternative to cPanel.
They published a quick explanation of what admin platform they use so check it out.
Currently, I do not have anything negative to say about WPX Hosting. If you have had a difficult time with them, please share them in the comments below.
If I get enough people complaining about something in particular, then I will happily add that to this section.
Getting a Domain Name
For those who have no idea what a domain name is, it is the name you type into your browser to land on a website.
For example, this website is www.outrankn.com.
Google’s domain name is www.google.com.
Wikipedia’s domain name is www.wikipedia.org and so on.
Bluehost offers a free domain name with any package that you decide to use whereas Wealthy Affiliate & WPX Hosting does not offer a free domain.
You can purchase a domain for around $15 a year which isn’t so bad but having a free domain for a year is enough for people to choose BlueHost.
The next step is to install WordPress.
First I am going to explain how to install WordPress on Bluehost then Wealthy Affiliate.
I’d recommend reading the BlueHost version if you are going to be using any hosting service that provides a cPanel.
Installing WP (Using cPanel)
Once you purchased your host, scroll until you find the “Website” section. You will notice that there is an install WordPress or 1-click install button for WordPress.
Click that, and you will be sent to a page where you can download WP to your domain name.
After entering your details such as:
WP will start installing if anything pops up asking if you want themes, plugins or anything of that nature, ignore it.
You can (and will be) updating that later.
Once the bar has gone to 100%, you can give yourself a high-five because you have just created your very first website.
You will notice that you are information (Site Login URL, Username & Password) will pop up on the screen.
Go to that URL and use your login details and you are in!
Installing WordPress with WPX Hosting is similar to Bluehost, but since they do not use cPanel, it is slightly different.
You can read their guide on installing WP using their service here.
How to Install WP (Using Wealthy Affiliate)
Once you have made your account, you will get messaged by:
You can leave those messages for now and focus on your website.
To purchase your domain, you need to be a premium member. Assuming that you are let’s move on.
Once you have purchased your domain name, it is time to move over to their site builder.
There are four steps to installing WP:
- Choosing Which Domain to Install WP Under
- Naming Your Website (Usually The Same as Your Domain)
- Choosing a Theme (Just Choose a Random One)
- Install WP
That is all there is to it!
Choosing a Theme
The main thing that sets your website apart from the millions of sites out there is how it looks.
Google is known for having a simple logo (that changes based on events throughout the year) and having a search bar underneath.
Instagram has a simple image of their app on the phone with a sign-up/login section right next to it.
Even Gary Vaynerchuk has a bunch of cool features on his homepage.
The list goes on.
In WordPress, they use theme templates to change the look and feel of your site.
Most are free, but there are loads of professional extension that you need to purchase.
In this example, we are going to download a theme called GeneratePress.
In your WP admin area, go to Appearance >> Themes >> Add New (Located at the top of the screen).
A bunch of themes will show up, but you are looking for GeneratePress.
Type GeneratePress into the search bar on your right and download the first theme you see by clicking the install (then activate) button underneath the theme’s preview.
Now you have an awesome theme that can help you design your new site!
Plugins are the features on your site that helps to make your site feel more unique.
You can have anything from plugins that allow you to have a full online store to plugins that only load your images after the users have scrolled to a certain point on the webpage (Lazy Load).
Installing plugins is the exact same as downloading themes.
Instead of repeating myself, I am going to give you a list of some must-have plugins.
Make sure you have everything on this list if you are planning on building a blog or business site.
If you want to have an online store, then add WooCommerce to that list.
Creating Your First Piece of Content
Now we get to the good stuff!
Creating content is the best way to build any form of customer or fanbase on the internet.
It’s vital that you have a solid content marketing plan.
Before you go through all of that, you need to create your initial pages like your About page, Contact Page & Home Page.
To create pages that stand out, you will need to use a page builder like Elementor or Thrive Architect.
To create a post/page, go to your WP admin section and go to Post >> Add New or Page >> Add New.
You can add the title of the page and either publish or save as a draft on the right-hand side.
Depending on what plugins you have, you will also notice different sections underneath the text box.
If you have Yoast SEO installed, this is what you will see.
I’ll soon have a guide on adding content to your post using vanilla WP and with page builders like Thrive Architect.
Getting Your Site Ready for SEO
SEO is where you get the majority of your traffic.
Google received over 40,000 search queries every second according to Quora.
Google Received Over 40,000 Search Queries Every Second
That’s over 1.2 trillion searches each year.
Imagine getting just 0.01% of that going to your website each year (which is 100 million).
I already mentioned the plugin Yoast SEO, which is my favorite plugin for SEO. However, there are others that can be as good.
One misconception among new marketers is that Yoast SEO does your SEO for you when that isn’t the case.
Yoast’s plugin only helps you optimize your content for SEO.
You still have to do the work yourself.
Fortunately, I have written a complete guide about WordPress SEO.
How You Can Monetize Your Blog
After a few months of having your blog, you start to notice that you’re slowly getting more and more traffic each month.
Your next step is thinking about how you can start converting people into customers, subscribers or whatever you want them to become.
Remember that you’re running a business here, don’t expect to become the new Casey Neistat and have a ton of money.
I will soon have an in-depth guide on monetizing your business with WP, but for now, I will talk about the basics.
Affiliate Marketing is the practice of selling other people’s product or service for a commission.
It is how I started making money online.
For example, if you have ever read a blog, listened to a podcast or watched a video and bought an Amazon product by clicking the link in the description then that person made an affiliate commission.
Another real-life example would be when we (my fiancée & I) told her mum about a company called Tails (A dog food service).
When she signed up, we got little extra food and some bonuses. That’s affiliate marketing.
Selling Your Own Products
The only way for you to make the most out of blogging is by selling a product of your own.
Selling things like:
- Regular Books
Those are just a few things that you can sell.
There are always a ton of different tools that can help you prepare your product and help with your product launch.
FAQ About Building a Site with WP
Are There Any Differences Between WordPress.org vs .com?
Quoting WordPress themselves, wordpress.org is an open source project that users can download for free and upload the software to your web server.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a network ran by Automattic. It's similar to .org, but blogs and business sites are personally hosted by Automattic.
Do I Need to Understand Code to Use WordPress?
Unless you're a developer, then you won't be changing any code whatsoever.
99% of the time you will only be using PHP (The programming language behind WP) when fixing small bugs or adding in your code to plugin files.
Clear instructions are usually given within the text file of the said plugin; however, I will specify again.
DO NOT CHANGE ANY CODE UNLESS YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE DOING.
Where is The Best Place to Find Images?
Free images are beneficial for people who have just begun. There are tons of excellent websites where you can use images without worrying about copyright.
Here are a few:
What Are The Best Themes to Use?
There isn't a clear-cut answer to this question. Every theme is used to achieve a different goal within a niche.
You have themes centered around cooking blogs and themes centered around eCommerce stores that sell cooking items.
It all depends on what your end goal is.
Here are a few places I like to get themes from:
- Thrive Themes
- Elegant Themes
Learning More About WordPress
WordPress is a massive part of the online world now, and there are many things to learn about it.
There are loads of blogs that can help you understand more about WordPress and how you can improve your online business even more (my blog being one of them).
If you want to start a blog and need more information, here are a few marketing blogs to follow.
Before I leave, here are a few questions that some people ask about WordPress and their website.
If you have any questions about blogging or online marketing, then feel free to comment down below or use my contact page to get in touch with me directly.
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