Learning how to start a WordPress blog can be both fun and profitable.
But if you try to create a blog without a little guidance, it can be easy to quickly get frustrated and quit. We don’t want that!
We’re going to walk through how I‘d start a WordPress blog in 2021 — and give you some additional options that are popular today.
There are a few different things you’ll need (which we’ll go through in more detail) to get your WordPress site online, including:
- A topic or niche
- A domain name (the .com)
- WordPress hosting (where your site “lives”)
- A WordPress theme (what your blog looks like)
- WordPress plugins (how to customize your site)
And of course, a little time to set things up and adjust (I’ll show you the default settings to change them a little later).
Choose a Blog Topic
When choosing a niche, industry, or topic for your blog (or podcast), you’ll want to pick something specific enough that it will resonate with your audience.
With over 4 million blog posts published every day, it’s important to be unique.
But you also want it to be wide enough so that you have enough to write about for the long haul. Along the same lines, the name of your blog (and your domain name) should be broader in scope so that you can continue the line.
You can search for a domain name here:
Think about it: If you’re having heart surgery, would you rather go to a cardiac surgeon or a general surgeon?
The answer seems obvious, yet many people create a “general surgeon” blog.
So how do you choose a blog topic?
You may already have some ideas, but you want to be sure of your topic:
- Has a lot of content to write about (not too narrow)
- Is interesting – and you are interested in it (is exciting)
- There is an audience of other people who are interested in
Here are a few ideas to brainstorm your blog niche:
- Think about what other people struggle with (what do your friends, family & colleagues complain about that you do easily)
- What do people compliment you for? (feel free to ask your friends)
- How do you people introduce you to others? What do they say you’re great?
- What would you do if you had 3 extra hours off? What would you talk about with a friend for 3 hours?
- What do you do on a Saturday afternoon?
- What are you excited about?
- What do other people that you find cool or interesting do?
Take a few minutes and write out a lot of ideas (good or bad, it doesn’t matter). Then narrow them down and combine ideas to find a topic.
Many different guides on how to start a blog recommend Bluehost for hosting.
They’re great for getting started, and they make it really easy for beginners to get started with their first WordPress site.
You also don’t need to “install WordPress” as this is done automatically when you create your account.
How do you start a WordPress blog on Bluehost?
Note: I negotiated a special rate for our readers only if you follow the link below:
Bluehost includes a free domain name (the .com) when you sign up for a hosting package.
If you want to see if your domain name is available before registering, just use this:
Or just follow these steps:
Go to the Bluehost homepage and click on ‘Get Started’:
Then you have to choose a plan. I would opt for the ‘Basic’ or ‘Choice Plus’ plan. The big difference is the number of websites you are allowed to use:
I like to experiment with new sites without affecting my main one, so I’d go with ‘Choice Plus’ – but it’s up to you!
On the next screen, choose a domain name or enter the name you already have. If you’re still trying to figure it out, just hit “Choose later!” at the bottom of:
Then you create an account. If you have a Google account (Gmail, YouTube, Android, etc.) you can easily log in with it.
Below you choose your hosting package info:
The cheapest price per month is available when you choose a 36 month plan, but if you want a shorter commitment you can opt for the 12 or 24 month plan.
Note: I pay more per month than you would pay for 2 years – just to give you some perspective on how big this is.
I would also disable SiteLock Security.
Below that, enter your credit card information, agree to the terms and click ‘Submit’.
You will see how to set up and configure your WordPress site further down this page. There are important settings that you must change immediately!
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
There is a difference between self-hosted WordPress. org using one of the hosting platforms I highlighted above and using wordpress. com.
You have full access to every feature of WordPress with self-hosting, but WordPress.com only allows you to install certain plugins and themes on the Business plan ($25/month) or higher.
Since the names are so similar, there is a lot of confusion between the two.
For 99% of new bloggers, just install WordPress through Bluehost
Change WordPress default settings
You’ll want to change a few settings right away – before you start customizing and creating blog posts or pages.
The main ones I would start with are:
- Delete the default message, page, and comment
- Make sure you have a strong password (Users > Your profile)
- Change your site’s title, tagline, and time zone (Settings > General)
- Change Permalinks to Post Name (Settings > Permalinks)
- Change your default category (Posts > Categories)
Once you have configured the default settings, you need to choose a theme. A theme determines how your WordPress blog looks.
Gratis WordPress Theme
There are many free themes that you can search for in your WordPress dashboard.
You can also start with the included Twenty Twenty theme created by the team that built WordPress.
It supports the new Gutenberg editor (we’ll talk about that in the Create Your First Post section) and looks great.
Premium WordPress Theme
A premium WordPress theme will cost a bit, but there are many benefits to going that route. The premium themes I use and recommend are:
- Updated regularly
- Well supported
- Encrypted put
- Safe, fast & SEO-friendly
- And much more…
WordPress plugins allow you to add functionality and features to your site.
Some allow you to add visual elements for your visitors to see (like contact forms), while others just work in the background (like caching plugins to speed up your site).
Here are a few free plugins to get you started:
- WP Rocket (makes your site load much faster and is easy to set up)
- RankMath SEO (walks you through getting the basics of SEO right)
- ShortPixel (automatic image compression makes your site load faster = happier visitors)
Create required pages
You should start with a few essential pages that almost every website has:
You will want to create new pages for each page.
Here are some tips and suggestions for each of them:
Your about page should really be more about what your readers can expect than you or your company.
Visitors need to know immediately whether your site is a good fit for them when they visit your about page.
Another tip is to link to popular articles or answer frequently asked questions from your readers.
After leading with the value your blog provides, you can go into every social proof you might have.
This could be sites that feature you, testimonials, comments, or just emails you’ve received from readers.
It’s okay if you don’t already have this – but it’s something to aim for. Don’t forget to add it later!
Finally, get personal.
Write about you, your history, or anything relevant to your visitors.
Your contact page should ideally have a form that your readers can fill out to get in touch with you.
If you just put your email address on your contact page, be prepared for a lot of spam!
There are several plugins that make it easy to create all kinds of shapes. I use Gravity Forms on this site, but WP Forms is my preference these days (I happen to have access to Gravity Forms from my WordPress agency days).
It’s helpful to tell people how long they can wait for a response and why they should contact you (and maybe why not).
Ideally, you’ll want a lawyer to help you craft your policy because every blog is different. It’s not as simple as copying mine and renaming it.
That said, there are some great services that can help you with this so you stay compliant.
Create your first blog post
What to write about
Your first blog post doesn’t have to say “I’m starting a blog” or “welcome to the blog”.
You want to write blog posts that help solve a problem or answer a question people have.
You probably already have a few ideas, but it’s a good idea to do a little research to see exactly how people search. That means we need to do some keyword research.
Keyword research basically means exploring the words and phrases that people are already searching for.
There are many different tools to speed up this search, and the better, paid tools will give you more accurate information about search volume (how many times people search per month) and difficulty (how hard it will be to rank on the first page). from Google for a particular phrase).
I use Ahrefs because it is the most accurate and has a ton of great reports that make finding new blog ideas easier. Plus, there’s a ton of other functionality in their tool suite. It starts at $99/month and probably puts it out of reach for most beginners starting a blog.
Doing good research will help you narrow down the topic of your blog post and include sections that make for a complete and educational post.
You can also use a tool called Answer The Public to help you find other questions people are asking about a keyword or topic:
After you’ve done your keyword research, here’s the basic process of creating your first blog post:
- Add a new message
- Give it a title
- Edit your Permalink
- Write your heart out
- Hit publish!
Quick Note: I used the Classic Editor plugin for the screenshots below. If you don’t install and activate it, WordPress will default to the new Gutenberg block editor. You may use one of the two writing interfaces, but I recommend using one.
Add a new message
After clicking the ‘Add New’ button under ‘Posts’ you will see a blank screen for editing posts:
Give it a title
When choosing a title for your post, think about what would pique your readers’ interest while being clear and descriptive about what they’re about to read.
Since many more people read headlines than the actual post, it’s important to put a little effort into this.
I would recommend writing several headlines and choosing the best one.
Write your heart out
Write your blog post.
When writing for the web, keep your paragraphs short, add media such as images or videos to enhance your writing, and try not to use fluffy language or repeat yourself.
I wouldn’t recommend using stock photos unless they specifically clarify a point you are making.
Before you hit Publish, read through your article to make sure no mistakes are made.
You should also click Preview to make sure everything looks as expected. Resize your browser to a mobile format to make sure everything looks good there too.
If you have multiple categories, choose the one that best fits or create a new category.
Once your sample is ready, go ahead and click the Publish button! 🎉