How to Start a WordPress Blog

how to start a wordpress blogAfter using “drag and drop” websites for years, we decided to start a WordPress blog for the extra flexibility. At first, our blog was for keepsake purposes. But when one post got 1,200 views in less than 24 hours, I realized there was a bigger opportunity here.

You don’t need a background in computers to make money on a computer. You simply need patience and be willing to learn. If you’ve thought about it, here’s how to do it (instructions from one beginner to another).

In my post, “How Bloggers Earn Money,” I talked specifically about earning money via “affiliate programs”. Today, I’ll talk about what you need to know as a blogger. And I’ll give you step-by-step instructions so you can start a WordPress blog. 

Sidebar, I didn’t take any classes on computers, blogging, or anything else tech related. I don’t have any work experience related to IT or software development. I’m just a regular “Joe” who started from scratch. I’m brand new at this and there’s still a lot for me to learn. But if I can do it, anybody can do it.

Key Terms 

I’ll try to use Lehman’s terms throughout this article. However, if you decide to blog, you need to know the lingo. I’ve created a list of terms ALL BLOGGERS NEED TO KNOW.

  • Article (source link) – “Articles” and blog “posts” are used interchangeably. An article is one single post on a blog.
  • Blog – A type of website specifically designed for user-submitted articles.
  • Blogger or Blogging (source link) – The person who writes for a blog is referred to as a blogger. The act of writing for the blog is known as blogging.
  • CMS or Content Management System (source link) – Software program that allows you to add content to a website more easily. Blogger, Wix, and WordPress are a few examples.
  • CSS or Stylesheet (source link) – This is short for Cascading Style Sheets, which is used to style web pages. Styling options including page layouts, colors and fonts are typically preset to help control cohesiveness and an overall professional look and feel for your website and/or blog.
  • Domain (source link) – A string of letters, numbers and/or hyphens, separated by periods, that you type into your browser to visit a particular website. For example, TheFrugalRVer.com is my websites domain (I purchased the domain through a domain registrar).
  • Domain Registrar (source link) – An accredited organization that handles the registration of domain names. This is a company such as GoDaddy.com, where you actually buy domain names to build websites.
  • Host – Refers to a blog that resides on a host site server (e.g., Blogger, TypePad, or WordPress.com blogs). All published websites (websites publicly accessible) have a host because websites must be on a server to communicate with World Wide Web users.

Blogging platforms

As a general rule of thumb, the easier the blog is to set up, the more limited your income opportunities will be. Without actually coding a website from scratch, you have 2 different types of blogging platforms: multi-user platforms and single user platforms.

Multi user platforms

Multi user platforms are websites that house blogs for many users. Blogger.com and Tumblr.com are examples of multi user blogging platforms. Bloggers who use a multi-user platform do not own the domain (their website). The company that owns the platform, rather, owns the domain. They create a user based platform and issue a sub domain for each user.

For example, if I were using the Blogger platform, my website address might be www.thefrugalrver.blogger.com. In this case, blogger.com is the domain (owned by blogger/google). And “thefrugalrver” would be the sub-domain.

Bloggers using multi user platforms have no control over who hosts their content. It’s an all-inclusive platform where the domain, sub-domain, design platform, and host are part of an all-inclusive package.  Additionally, bloggers who use multi user platforms have limited control over the design of their blog. “Customizing”, in this case, normally means selecting one of a few different pre-made layouts along with the colors and fonts.

Essentially, using multi user platforms means you own the content but nothing else (the company may even have rights to content, I’m not sure).

Single user platforms

Single user platforms are websites owned by a single user. In this case, the user must buy a domain name (website address) and build a website for their blog. If you don’t know how to code, you have two options in terms of the platform used to build your website: drag and drop or WordPress.

Drag and Drop (single user platforms)

To create a website, users simply select a theme and customize that theme using a “drag and drop” functionality. Users on this platform are often concerned with aesthetics only. Examples of this type of platform, to name a few, are wix.com, weebly.com, GoDaddy website builder, and SquareSpace, to name a few).

You can actually build a really beautiful website using these platforms. Customization, however, is limited.

Drag and drop is where I started (at wix.com). Actually, I still use wix.com for my business (you can check it out here). However, my company’s website is purely for informative purposes. It isn’t set up for monetizing directly through the site. In terms of blogging, drag and drop limits your money earning options tremendously.

WordPress (single user platforms)

WordPress was originally a multi user platform. Over the years, it has evolved into the most well-known single user platform on the market. Bloggers who are on the single user platform are automatically on the multi user platform. But those who are on the multi user platform are not always on the single user platform. Most bloggers who intend on using their website as an income source have their blog set up on the single user platform.

The single user option platform is almost a hybrid between “drag and drop” and coding. Unlike drag and drop or multi user platforms, WordPress users select/buy their website theme. Then, they upload their theme to the WordPress platform for further customization.

What makes WordPress unique is the open source functionality. Software developers create free and/or paid plugins and widgets for users to embed into their website (kind of like apps used on phones). This allows users to customize and automate their site.

For example, look to the right side of this page and you’ll find a newsletter subscription form, a “like us” on Facebook section, and a “bluehost” advertisement. These are all widgets designed by third-party developers used to add design and automation to my site. On the back-end, I have plugins that automate things to maximize page views and analyze website traffic.

Drag and drop platforms offer similar options but the difference here is the “open source” aspect. Open source platforms allow third-party developers to create WordPress based software and share it with the WordPress community.

Multi-user platforms and drag and drop platforms have similar functionality but the software is proprietary. This “closed source” platform restricts the users customization options, income options, and website automation options.

In other words, WordPress is the “free market” of blogging platforms.

How to start a blog on WordPress

Step 1 – Register Your Domain – You don’t want to do anything until you register your domain. People often have an AMAZINGLY clever website name (domain) in mind only to find out the domain isn’t available. Before you get too deep with design and content ideas, be sure there’s a domain name available that fits well with your vision for the blog.

Think of a name for your website. The name should be simple enough for people to remember and obvious enough for people to look and know what the website is about.

The name of my blog changed from “Restart Your Future.” I changed the name because “Restart Your Future” wasn’t obvious to people browsing social media content. My advice in terms of choosing your domain, is to make sure you choose a name that people will read and know exactly what your content is about.

To find out if a website name is available and to buy/register your domain, click here

  • After clicking on the link, type the website name you wish to buy. If it’s unavailable, GoDaddy will generate similar options that are available automatically.
  • When you’ve picked out a website name, continue through the purchasing process.
  • Once purchased, go to the login page at GoDaddy, bookmark that page, and save your login information.

Step 2 – Buy a website theme – You don’t have to buy a theme. WordPress.com has free themes you can use. I read through several well-known blogs and buying a pre-built theme came highly recommended. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what the benefits are in buying a theme versus using a free theme. Based on my limited knowledge, I’d say you can always buy a theme later. The only downfall would be that you may lose data if you go with a free theme now and move everything over to a paid theme later.

  • You can click here to browse themes at WordPress
  • Or, you can click here to buy a theme through the company I went through. I went with “Genesis Framework” and “Simple” child theme.  The framework is the skeleton, which can be used as a theme. The child theme offers some versatility in customization. However, my knowledge on this topic is limited.
    • Again, I’ve heard good things about bloggers who go with a “child theme” but I’m not exactly sure why. You can read a beginner’s guide for Genesis here. I learn by reading tidbits and via trial and error. So far, I’ve been able to get my site running and I’ve actually made a profit. So, I’m not too concerned about learning the back-end of things at this point.

 

Step 3 – Hire a Host – Your host is the bridge that connects your content to the web. It houses your website and on a server that the online community can view. BlueHost is the only host I’m familiar with. And to be honest, most of the user options that are available are beyond my knowledge at this point.

I chose bluehost because it seemed like every other blogger chose bluehost. “Value” comes in many forms. For someone with limited knowledge on websites, there’s a lot of value in community. If I ever have any questions, I can always turn to the online community and get an answer.

You can click here to buy a plan through bluehost.

  • The “basic” option should be fine for the time being. You can always upgrade later.
  • After clicking on the “basic” option, choose the “I already have a domain” option. Enter the domain you purchased at GoDaddy.com into the form.
  • Continue through the purchasing process.

Once you’ve completed step 3, you now have everything you need to start working on your WordPress website.

  • Somewhere in the process of purchasing your bluehost plan (or shortly after), you will be prompted to choose the platform you’ll be using. Choose WordPress.com
  • Continue through the process and download the WordPress software.
  • When complete, through bluehost, go to “Cpanel” and click “1-click install.”
  • Once complete, you will have access to the WordPress dashboard.
  • When you open the WordPress dashboard, the software will walk you through the set up process. There, you will upload your website theme. You can either browse through and select a free WordPress theme, or you can download the files from the paid theme you purchased from a third-party developer.

And that’s it! You now have a WordPress website! Now, all you have to do is play around with the different options through the WordPress dashboard. This will take some time to get used to but once you figure it out, you will realize how beneficial the platform is. Once you have your site set up the way you want, it’s an automated process!

I got hung up several times and I’m sure you will too. If you’re stuck, feel free to reach out and we can walk through the process together.

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Cheers, The Cobia Family

  • Jessica Meinhofer

    Great post! I really wish we would have had an easy list like this when we started our blog!

  • Kesi Irvin

    This post was helpful!

  • Ed Bickford

    Great post! Many theme providers provide templates for free and also offer a version with more functionality you can purchase. Starting out with the free version will give you a chance to try it out and when you find one you are happy with you can buy the upgraded version.