How to Start a WordPress Blog [Ultimate Guide]

Every now and then I see people asking this question – how to start a WordPress blog?

The answer may sound simple but it is not. It does involve some basic steps like getting a domain name and hosting but there’s more to it. In addition to getting the domain name and hosting, there are a few technical things that are necessary for your blog to grow in the long run. Let us go over these things one by one and get you started –

What does it take to start a WordPress blog?

Getting a domain name

A domain name is the identity of the blog and it is important that it conveys the same to its readers.

I gave it a lot of thought when I was deciding this domain name especially because several good ones were already taken. In fact, I vaguely remember spending a week to prepare the list of the domain names. That’s an awful amount of time on deciding the domain name alone. But from my perspective, it was worth it because being able to connect to the readers was the most crucial factor.

In addition to finding a good name, it is also necessary that you protect the privacy information around that domain name.

Why? – Because if you don’t, you’re putting up all your information such as phone number and physical address on the internet and that isn’t something you should really do.

There’re a ton of domain name providers available in the market. I personally prefer Google Domains and GoDaddy. Before you finalize the domain name provider, let me remind you that there are usually good coupons available for registering on GoDaddy. On the other hand, Google Domains provide privacy protection for all domain names purchased through them.

Getting affordable WordPress blog hosting

WordPress hosting is an essential thing that you will absolutely need to start a blog using WordPress. There’re many hosting providers and partners in the market and a bunch of them offer hosting at a cheap rate. But, your WordPress blog may suffer from slower load speeds and response time if you don’t investigate this beforehand. In the past, I’ve used Hostgator, KnownHost, Digital Ocean and Linode. I’ve had satisfactory results with all of them.

WPBloggr is currently being hosted at SiteGround.

The basic plan at SiteGround starts at $3.95 per month but it is limited to a single domain name. We’re using the “Grow Big” plan which allows us to host multiple websites. All SiteGround plans include free SSL, email accounts, daily backups, and Cloudflare CDN.

Setting up the domain name with hosting and email accounts

Once you’ve got the domain name and hosting, you’ll need to point the domain name to the hosting provider’s nameservers. This is usually updated at the place where you bought your domain name and it may look different depending on the domain name provider. For example – this is my hostname record from Google Domains. I’m pointing it to my hosting provider SiteGround. Instead of pointing it your hosting provider, you can also point them to Cloudflare. Think of Cloudflare as something that can accelerate your blog’s performance and load time significantly. More on that, later.

Setting up Name Server Records

Setting up Name Server Records

Creating a custom email address for the domain name is a piece of cake.

In order to create the custom email address, first, add your domain name as an addon domain name. If it is your primary domain name, there’s no need to add it specifically.

Once the addon domain has been added, open webmail from the mail section on cPanel. Enter your email id and setup password. This is it. You can now use your custom email address either through cPanel or add it in the Gmail (which is what I’m doing).

How to create a custom email address

How to create a custom email address

Installing WordPress

Installing WordPress over the addon domain name needs your careful attention. In the cPanel, you’ll find softaculous. This is where you can get the WordPress software. Alternatively, this installation can also be started from the Autoinstallers section of cPanel.

As soon as you start the installation, you’ll see a screen something similar to what I’ve attached below. In that screen –

  • Choose protocol as https if you’ve SSL certificate with your hosting plan. If not, choose http://
  • Choose your primary domain from the drop-down
  • Leave In Directory field blank to install it under the root of your domain. For example, if you enter the keyword blog in this field, WordPress will get installed on yourdomain.com/blog/.
  • For the site settings section, enter your blog’s name and description (in once sentence of 140 characters or less)
  • In the admin section, specify the administrator’s username, password, and email.
  • Choose language and select install.

Here’s the screenshot for reference –

WordPress - Setup instructions

WordPress – Setup instructions

Installing SSL certificate and redirecting to https

If you remember, we had selected https during the WordPress installation. But, that isn’t enough to get you started using https with your blog. There are a couple more things that need to be completed.

First – Go into cPanel and search for Let’sEncrypt. Open this software and select the domain name from the drop-down. Choose “Let’s Encrypt SSL” from the options and click install.

Second – Either install a plugin called Really SSL or use htaccess to redirect to https. Alternatively, you can also use the same window (from the previous first step), select https settings from the dropdown and set it to redirect to https. If you want to do it through the htaccess method, this is the code that needs to be added in the file –

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

Setting up the WordPress theme

WordPress has 3 inbuilt themes. They all are suitable for different blog types such as personal blog, magazine, and fashion. They are pretty good but I personally think that they are all bland. If you want something that has premium looks, a wide range of customizable options, and eye-pleasing experience, it is time to invest in premium themes.

Over the years, I’ve been using MyThemeShop premium themes and Genesis by StudioPress. I’ve also been impressed by the several themes available on themeforest. On average, you should be able to get the premium quality theme for as low as $20 to $50.

If you don’t have that kind of budget right now, you can always look at free themes offered by the growing WordPress community.

As soon as you’ve selected the theme that you want to use, and if it is a premium theme, go to Appearance -> Themes -> Add new -> Upload theme to start uploading the theme. Once done, it will appear in the Themes section and you can activate it from here. For all themes that are offered through WordPress, you can simply search and install them from the Add New window.

Setting up WordPress plugins

WordPress plugins are an essential part of the WordPress blog.

As of writing this article, there are more than 50,000 free plugins available on the WordPress directory.

Let’s take an example of one of the plugins that I’m using and see how it is helping me – WP Subscribe Pro by MyThemeShop.

The plugin gives me an ability to add a popup for user subscription to our mailing list. A subscription box can also be added at the end of the article. Overall, it gives me better control on the colors of the several elements such as that subscription box, button, and its content. As far as the popup is concerned, I can customize the popup triggers in number of ways. Here’s the screenshot for example –

WP Subscribe Pro - Popup Settings

WP Subscribe Pro – Popup Settings

To add a new plugin, you need to click on the Plugins menu on the left and click on Add New. From this page, you can either upload a plugin or search WordPress directory. Pretty easy, right?

Setting up important pages

There’re three pages that a WordPress blog should absolutely have. A contact page, about page, and privacy policy page. In fact, the privacy policy page is the most important page and it is mandatory.

A contact page is a place where you explain to your users – how they can contact you and when they can expect to hear back from you. The about page is where we’re discussing things like what topics we discuss here at WPBloggr, how it all started and what WordPress products we use. I try to avoid being typical and write these pages with good care.

The privacy policy page is where you’ll discuss how you’re collecting user information, what is it that you’re collecting and how you’re handling that information.

Setting up Google Analytics to track statistics

This is an optional task but if you plan to monetize your blog in future you should add it right away.

Google Analytics provides an in-depth analysis of the user’s behavior on your blog. There’s a lot of information collected right from how user landed on your blog to how much time that user spent on the particular article. Generally, a WordPress blog doesn’t have a login/register mechanism, which is why this information is typically anonymous.

To add your blog to the Google Analytics and add tracking code, refer to this official Google website.

Whoo! I’m now completely tired. This article involved a lot of research and it took me almost a month to put together this article. Now when I look at it, it all seems worth it.

Nevertheless, if you need my help, shout out to me in the comments below. I’ll reply to each comment asking for help.

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2 Comments

  1. Jeremy Huber February 11, 2019
    • Pavan February 12, 2019

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