How to Start a Blog on WordPress in 20 Minutes
Starting a blog from scratch can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re not a technical person. Rest assured you’re not alone.
Many influencers who have started their own fashion blog, beauty blog, travel bog, or whatever kind of blog, have all started somewhere and you can be sure they’re likely not technical either.
Just like these influencers, you’re better at writing and promoting yourself and building followers, the real key to making money from a blog.
So I’m here to help you start a new blog on WordPress! I’ll walk you through each step in the process with detailed screen shots so there’s no confusion on how to start a blog on WordPress.
Every single day at Blogger2WP we go through the process of setting up a new blog on WordPress for our own clients. Even if we’re transferring their blog to WordPress, we still need to setup a new WordPress install before we transfer the contents, and the steps are exactly the same. So after completing thousands of new WordPress installs, we’d like to think we know what we’re doing.
Feel free to also join and help build our new Facebook Group Blogger to WordPress, created with the intention of building a community of bloggers supporting bloggers with self-hosted WordPress.
Let’s get started….
Table of Contents
- What You Need To Start a Blog on WordPress
- Get a Domain Name
- Get a Hosting Account for Your New WordPress Blog
- Point Your Custom Domain to Your Host
- Install WordPress to Start a New Blog
- Activate Your SSL Certificate
- Login to Your New WordPress Blog’s Dashboard
- Customize the Look of Your New WordPress Blog
- Make Your First Post on Your New WordPress Blog
- Learn to Use Your New WordPress Blog with WP101.com
Starting a new blog on WordPress is very easy using these instructions and you’ll be up and running in 20 minutes or less.
Here’s what you need to start a blog:
- A custom domain name (your blog or website’s address)
- A web hosting service (where your blog or website is stored on the internet)
Umm, yep, that’s it. Not much at all is it.
So let’s get a domain name.
Your domain name is your address on the internet. Just like google.com or Blogger2wp.com. This is your brand, and your unique address on the internet. It’s the very first thing you’ll need to start a blog on WordPress. Here I’ll show you how to get one of your own.
You have two choices for purchasing your own domain name. You can buy it through your hosting company (in Step 3) when you sign up for your hosting account, or you can buy it from a separate domain name provider. I always recommend you buy your domain name from a separate provider for two main reasons:
- They’re usually cheaper upfront (unless the hosting provider has a special deal going), and on renewals.
- If you decide to change hosting providers in the future, you won’t need to also transfer your domain name. You simply log into the domain name provider and point your domain to the new hosting company’s name servers.
Be wary of hosting companies offering free domains if you sign up for hosting. These companies are usually struggling to maintain their user base and people are moving their websites away from them to other hosts. They’re doing anything to bring in new customers.
Think to yourself, why are people moving their sites away from them and to other hosts?
I’m not saying don’t take the offer, just be weary!
If you decide to purchase your domain name separately, then we recommend NameCheap as our pick for best choice. They usually have the best prices, the lowest yearly renewals, excellent support, and a very easy to use interface.
If you decide to use NameCheap you can follow these instructions for purchasing your domain name:
2.1 Go to NameCheap
Signing up is pretty easy and you can use the button below to get there:
2.2 Choose a domain name
Enter you preferred domain name into the search bar and hit the search button to see if your preferred domain name is available.
If it’s available, add it to the Cart then you can proceed to the checkout. If your preferred domain name is not available, try another search until you find one is right for your blog.
2.3 Adding Options
Before checkout you’ll be asked about adding a whole lot of extra add ons. You don’t need any of these to set up your domain, but I do recommend the WhoisGuard add-on (usually free for the first year with NameCheap) as this protects your personal information (name, address, phone number, etc) from being shown if someone does a whois lookup on your domain name. All the other options such as premium DNS, or SSL certificate (SSL certificate comes with hosting company) are NOT required.
2.4 Fill in your details
This is all pretty self-explanatory, just complete the form with your personal details and your payment information. That’s it! You’re ready for step 2 below.
As far as choosing the host you want to use, you are free to pick any host you want. We highly recommend using SiteGround for many reasons, one of them being that they are officially recommended by WordPress themselves.
To read our full review on why we recommend them, please click here.
If you decide to use SiteGround to start a new blog, you can follow the steps below for signing up for your self-hosted WordPress hosting account.
3.1 Go to SiteGround
Signing up should be pretty easy, to start off with, you can use the button below and get a 60% discount:
3.2 Choose a hosting plan
SiteGround has 3 different plans available, we recommend the GrowBig package as you will not have to worry about outgrowing your blog as your visitors increase. Other features of the GrowBig plan include:
- SuperCacher – high level caching for much better loading speeds
- 30-days of daily backup copies of your blog
- Free backup restores, and
- Priority technical support – very helpful when you start a new blog.
You can always upgrade or downgrade to a different plan any time you want!
3.3 Enter your domain
You will now be asked to register a domain name. If you already have a custom domain name (you purchased it in the previous step), select the “I already have a domain”. Then put in your domain name in the box and click proceed.
If you don’t have a domain name, you can purchase it with your hosting plan if you want, or from a separate domain name provider as we described in the previous step.
3.4 Fill in your details
Next up, fill in your personal details. This should be pretty self-explanatory up until these points:
Hosting Services: The Data Center will automatically be selected based on your location, but if you want a different Data Center you have the option to select a different one by clicking the small button next to. (We recommend leaving it as is).
Period: The standard period is 12 months, you can also register for longer but 12 months is perfectly fine if you are not sure WordPress is for you. With SiteGround you also get a 30-day money-back guarantee. We do not recommend selecting the 1-month trial, as it has a $12 setup-fee which is not returned should you want a refund.
Extra Services: You do not need any of the offered extra services. The essential features that are included in all plans are more than enough to keep your site fast and secure!
Once you’re done, you can check-out and pay!
Note: If you purchased your custom domain name to start a new blog with your hosting company when you signed up for hosting, then you can skip this step. You only need to do this if you purchased your custom domain separately.
Log into your domain registrar, I’m showing NameCheap’s dashboard, your registrar might be different, but the steps will be similar.
Go to your domains and click on Manage.
Look for the Name Servers section and open the option to change it.
Select Custom DNS.
Enter the DNS server information you got from your host. This would have been in an email or it will be in your cPanel. Here’s where to find it on SiteGround:
Enter the two addresses exactly as shown, no spaces or extra characters and save it.
Now that you’ve got your hosting set-up you can go ahead and install WordPress. It’s actually quite easy thanks to SiteGround.
Once you’ve signed up you can start the setup wizard, click on Launch Setup Wizard.
Next, check off Don’t need help now and select Confirm.
Now check the box to confirm you agree with SiteGround’s Terms of Service, and click on Complete Setup.
You’ll now be at your “My Accounts” page and your page should look like the image below. Go ahead and click cPanel.
When the cPanel dashboard loads, click the WordPress AutoInstaller.
When the Softaculous WordPress installer screen loads, click on Install.
Now you need to fill in some details about your new WordPress blog. For now leave the protocol as “http://”, we’ll change it later to “https://” when we add the SSL certificate, if you want. Your domain should be pre-selected if you only have one domain. If you have more than one, select the domain you want the WordPress installation on. Leave the In Directory blank. Now fill in the Site Name and Site Description for your blog. Keep these short but descriptive. For example, this site’s Site Name is Blogger2WP, and the Site Description is Easily Move Your Blog to WordPress. These may show in your new blogs header, depending on the theme you use and options you set.
Now scroll down the page. You will be given an Admin Username and Admin Password. I suggest changing the username to something practical as your published posts will likely show this name and will be shown publicly. Whatever you choose, please make sure to write down or record your username and password. If you forget it, you won’t be able to get into your new WordPress dashboard. How to recover it is not described here.
Now enter your normal email address for the Admin Email. The default shown will not work unless you setup a mail server, and not covered in this article.
Now click on Install.
This will only take a minute or two, and DO NOT navigate away from the page.
Once the installation is complete you’ll see a “Congratulations…” message telling you WordPress was successfully installed. Yay!
You can now view your new WordPress site by typing in your custom domain name in your browser’s address bar. There won’t be much to see as there are no posts or pages, but the default WordPress twenty-seventeen theme will be loaded and a nice picture with your blog title and description displayed.
This step is optional but recommended, and if you’ve purchased your hosting plan from SiteGround you’ll get a free SSL certificate.
What is an SSL certificate you ask? When you browse the internet you have probably noticed on many websites a green https:// in the browser’s address bar. This is true for the Chrome browser, in Safari for example it shows a padlock. This means the site you’re on is secure and is genuine.
Why does it matter for your blog? Well Google does consider https as a ranking factor, so you should definitely consider activating it if you want to have successful blog with high organic traffic. Plus it also gives your site users peace of mind. If you were selling products on your website, and a potential buyer’s browser is telling them the site isn’t secure, I highly doubt they would be comfortable entering their credit card or any other personal information. Sale lost!
So let’s activate that SSL certificate.
Head back to your SiteGround account and go into your cPanel again. Scroll down the page to the Security section and click on Let’s Encrypt.
If not already installed, install the SSL certificate and wait for it to complete. Once it’s complete, turn on HTTPS Enforce. If a warning screen pops up, click OK. That’s it.
Your new WordPress blog is now secure!
Now it’s time to log in to the dashboard of your new blog on WordPress.
The proper way to access your WordPress dashboard (or admin area) is to add /wp-login.php to the end of your domain. So for example, you will enter this myawesomeblog.com/wp-login.php into your web browser’s address bar. You should now see your new blog’s WordPress login window.
Login with the Admin Username and Admin Password you created in Step 5. If you forgot these, or didn’t write them down, you can try following these steps to recover, use the myPhpAdmin method. Once you’ve logged in successfully you’ll be in your new WordPress Dashboard. It will look something like this.
At this point of the start a blog on WordPress process you will have a fully functional WordPress blog. Now you need to make it look nice by adding a different theme (if you want), create a menu, and add some widgets. I will only go over the basics in this section as every theme has different options, and menu and widget areas.
If you’re looking for some premium themes I highly recommend Elegant Themes as a top choice. Elegant’s themes are full of options you don’t always find in other so-called premium themes, making them highly customizable. They include the Divi page builder which let’s you design pretty much any layout you can think of. In addition to that, with Elegant Theme’s basic plan, you can try out any of their themes on your new WordPress blog at any time.
8.1 Add a Theme
From your dashboard go to Appearance > Themes.
Your active theme is highlighted. The default theme that comes with WordPress is Twenty Seventeen and this should be active by default. Click on Add New.
Here you can search through the free themes available in the WordPress repository or you can upload your own for your new WordPress blog. Which ever way you choose, the steps are pretty self-explanatory. Simply install, and then activate it. If you’ve purchased a premium theme, then upload the theme and activate it. The theme you purchased would be in .zip format. Keep it as a zip file for the upload, WordPress will take care of the rest.
Some themes require specific plugins to be installed. Simply follow the instructions from the theme to get this done.
After you’ve installed your theme now you can start customizing the look of your new WordPress blog.
8.2 Customizing Your Blog’s Look
Again, every theme has different options, but go to Appearance > Customize and you will see all the theme’s customization options. This will include everything from adding logos, to front page layouts, menu’s, widgets, footers, header styles, fonts, colours, etc.
In the customize screen as you make changes you will see a live preview, so you can see the effect of any change you make. If you would like to keep the change, click the Publish button at the top of the screen. Note though, if you’re making a change in the customize screen that is not visible on the current page, you won’t be able to see the change. Just navigate to the page you want to make changes to and you will then be able to see the live preview.
8.3 Create a Menu for Your WordPress Blog
Some themes will create a default menu for you showing all your pages or post categories. You can control how your menu looks and what it contains. Head to Appearance > Menus and click Create Menu. If your theme already created one then you won’t see this option, just “Save Menu”.
All menus items are drag and drop and the order shown in the Menu Structure is the order the menu items will appear on the page. If your theme supports drop down menus, you can create this by indenting a menu item by dragging it slightly to the right. The menu item above it then becomes the parent, and the indented items below it will drop-down when clicked on or hovered over, depending on your themes actions.
You can add pages, post categories, individual posts, tags, or even external URL links to your menu.
Make sure to save your menu before you navigate away from the page if you’ve made any changes. You can also make as many menus as you want. However they won’t be visible until you actually assign them to a location. Depending on your theme you could have one or more menu locations. On the menu page click on the Manage Locations tab and select a menu you created or saved to a particular location as defined by your theme.
8.4 WordPress Widgets
Every theme will have different widget locations built-in, go to Appearance > Widgets. The most common is the sidebar widget location, but premium themes generally have several locations available. This is a drag and drop operation and all you need to do is select an available widget on the left and drag it into a widget location on the right. You can usually put multiple widgets in a single widget location, and the order of the widgets in the widget location will be how they display on your site. Most widgets are configurable, so once you drag a widget over, it will expand so you can configure it.
You can also add/edit widgets from the live preview (under Appearance > Customize), however not all widget locations may be shown in this view.
Now it’s time to write your first post for the whole world to see!
From your dashboard of your new WordPress blog, go to Posts > Add New.
From the Add New Post page, enter a title for your blog post.
Now write something in the Post area. Anything you want.
Add a new Category, or choose an existing one. Add some Tags too! If you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and add a Featured Image as well.
No click on the Publish button.
That’s, go to your blog page and check out your first post on your new WordPress blog.
WordPress is relatively easy to use if you’re just posting articles. But more than likely you decided to start a blog on WordPress to get followers, build your brand, and possibly make some money while you’re at it.
At some point you will have to dig deeper and get a better understanding of WordPress so you can make it do what you want it to and maximize your return on your blogging effort.
One of my top suggestions for helping you quickly get up the WordPress learning curve is to take some high quality training.
My recommended resource for this are the folks over at at WP101.com. For a small yearly subscription you will get access to some of the best WordPress tutorials and videos on the internet. They are regularly releasing new content and constantly updating the existing ones to keep up with changes.
Even if you only sign up for the Intro to WordPress or the WordPress 101 modules, you will immediately benefit and increase your WordPress efficiency and knowledge, allowing you to focus on creating good content and building followers.
So What’s Next?
This tutorial on how to Start a Blog on WordPress is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to WordPress.
The most important thing to do now is to just start writing, create good content for your niche, and start building your following.
There’s no easy way to do this, it takes effort, and in time it will pay off.
Some things you should consider doing right away: Set up your Google Analytics. Set up Google Search Console and submit a new sitemap. Install some helpful plugins such as Yoast (for SEO and sitemap), a security plugin such as Wordfence, and a backup tool such as UpdraftPlus. (if you signup with SiteGround site backups are included). Why not create your own custom email address for your new blog.
Now get posting!
Please share this post! I’ve seen many tutorials on this topic recently and so many simply don’t cover the necessary details required for a beginner to properly start a blog on WordPress.
Please feel free to comment or ask questions below. Also join our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/bloggertowordpress and learn from or support other bloggers who have been or are going through the same process as you.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this page are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission.