How to set up a blog on WordPress

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Thinking about starting a blog? But not sure how to set up a blog on WordPress?

If that is you, don’t worry.

Setting up a blog or any website, in general, can feel daunting, especially if you are not geeky.

In this article, I will help you set up a blog on WordPress. I will try to make it as easy as possible. Just follow my instructions, and you will be absolutely fine!

How long does it take to set up a blog?

Before we build our blog, let’s talk about the time it takes to set up your blog. It doesn’t take all that long to build the blog site itself. Depending on how difficult you make it for yourself to start with, you could be done in 1-2 hours.

But more goes into having a blog site than just setting it up.

You have to consider your marketing, the number of blogs you write per week/month, designing the images, and adding meta descriptions. Running a blog takes time.

>> Here are 5 things to keep in mind when you want to start a blog <<

What do you need to start a WordPress blog?

To start a blog, you need to have a few things before we start:

  • An idea of what you want to blog about
  • Some time
  • A little bit of money

Yes, you can start a blog for free, but if you want to do it right and have it as/for a business, you will need to pay for some things. I will explain this further in the section about domains and hosting.

Step 1: Hosting and domain

First, you need to select a domain name and buy hosting.

Think of it as a house and an address. The domain is the address pointing to a specific place, and the hosting is the house where your website lives.

While you can set up a blog on WordPress.com, I would suggest you pay a few euros (or pounds or dollars) and get a personal domain and hosting.

First of all, a website looks a lot more professional when it has a real URL instead of www.wordpress.com/mynamehere, and, more importantly, you get more options if you have the self-hosted WordPress (wordpress.org) version.

Picking a domain

We start the new blog by picking a domain. Choose wisely: don’t make the name too hard to remember or type. Depending on what you want from the blog, I would either go with your personal/company name or with something that says what you will be talking about.

For example, I own digitalie.eu because Digitalie is my business name and ourcamperstories.com where we talk about travelling with a camper.

A domain exists of the name ‘digitalie’ or ‘ourcamperstories’ and the extension ‘.eu’, ‘.com’ or many others. Someone can have digitalie.com while I have digitalie.eu.

It might be hard to find a good name since many names are already taken and sometimes the nicer extensions are already taken for the name that you want.

Come up with a few different name options and think about different extensions you would be ok with. Then check whether that domain is already taken.

>> I recommend this place to check if your domain is available <<

Domain search

To check if the domain is available, you type in the name (with or without the extension). The register will check with .com and .co.uk if you don’t type in an extension and will let you know if the domain is available if you do type in an extension. If the domain you are looking into is unavailable, the site will give alternative suggestions.

Possible domains

Take your time finding the right name and domain for your blog. If possible, you do not want to change your URL after the visitors start finding you.

Get hosting

You need a place to put WordPress, all your documents, etc. A host gives you the space to do that, and your URL will point towards that space at the host.

Once you decide on a domain, you want to buy it and get hosting to go with it. Most of the time, you can buy hosting space and the URL simultaneously. Some people recommend buying hosting at a different spot than your domain, but buying it in the same spot makes life easier and with great hosting you don’t have to worry about any problems.

Prices can differ immensely. I have seen hosting for 10 euros a year up to a few hundred per month. But while I don’t recommend the cheapest hosting, you definitely don’t need a very expensive host. Check out a few before you buy, or ask friends/other companies who they use.

I recommend going with Lyrical Host. This small English company is very good at customer service and helps you if you ever get stuck with setting up or running your blog. And if you are not that geeky, that is exactly the kind of customer service you want.

With your hosting and domain bought, it is time for step 2.

Step 2: Install WordPress

Installing WordPress can be really easy or quite a hassle.

Lyrical Host, as well as most other hosts, have a ‘one-click install’ for WordPress these days. That is really nice to have because it makes your life a little easier.

If you decided to go with a host that has a one-click install, then this step is really easy: just click 😉 – I really hope you chose this option.

To find the one-click install button, you go to the dashboard of your hosting, and then go to the services and find what they call the ‘control panel’. Here you will find the option to install WordPress with just one click.

Wordpress one click
One-click installs for wordpress

If you want to install WordPress yourself, go to WordPress.org to get the installation files. Upload them to your host via FTP. Then follow the instructions of your host on how to get WordPress installed. Here’s some help from WordPress on how to install it. But this can be tricky, and you might need someone with some technical knowledge.

>> If you want my help installing WordPress, you can plan a Pick My Brain session <<

Step 3: Setting up the design of your blog

After installing WordPress, you want a nice look for it, of course.

There are many ways to get a nice design for your website. These days there are two things to keep in mind: themes and builders.

Your theme is what controls the design of your WordPress website. If we are keeping in the housing analogy of earlier, the theme decides what colour the trim of your windows are, the look of your door, the colours of your walls. It doesn’t decide the size of your rooms though.

A builder is either a theme or a plugin (I know, this can be confusing) that helps you build your house. It is like a set of blocks. You can put one block on top of the other and build your website that way. Well-known builders are Elementor Pro – which is a plugin, Divi – which is a theme, and Beaver Builder – available as a plugin or theme, for instance.

This might sound really confusing, but in the end, this is it: you can either pick a builder to build your site with and then keep the theme light and simple, or you use a theme to design your site with.

Wordpress themes
Different themes within wordpress

Finding a theme

Option 1: WordPress’s own themes (both free and paid)

WordPress offers a lot of themes directly that you can put on your blog.

  • Log in to your WordPress
  • Go to ‘Appearance’ – ‘Themes’
  • Click ‘Add theme’
  • Filter on characteristics you’d like
  • Pick one and click install
  • Click activate

The downside of these themes is that they offer fewer customisation options, and at some point, you will run into limitations if you want something specific. But it can be a good way to get started.

Option 2: Free or paid themes from a third party

‘Third party’ means that someone other than WordPress made the theme. This is not a bad thing, but be careful whom you buy from. Pick from bigger companies and look for themes that get regularly updated.

If you are looking for a free theme, you can google on ‘WordPress free themes’. However, the chances of getting a ‘bad’ theme here are bigger, so it might take you more time to find a reliable one.

There are also a lot of paid themes. What I love about them is that you usually get more options with the look, like different layouts or looks. Paid themes are also, in general, better updated and taken care of.

When you find a theme you like, you can install it like this:

  • Download the .zip file of that theme
  • Click ‘New theme’
  • Click ‘Upload’ (small link almost on top of screen)
  • Search for the .zip you downloaded
  • Install and activate

Finding a builder

If you prefer to use a builder to build your website, I highly recommend Elementor. You can get started for free but if you want to style your blog pages, you will need the paid version.

As Elementor is a plugin, you will need a theme to coordinate. I recommend the free and very basic ‘Hello Elementor’ theme you can find in the WordPress directory. See ‘Finding a theme’.

The fabulous thing about Elementor is that it comes with premade templates to build with for free, but you can also buy complete templates you only have to change the colors and fonts of and add images and text.

I offer several templates for Elementor. You can check them out here.

Several digitalie elementor templates
Several elementor templates from digitalie

Step 4: Adding pages

If you have a WordPress installation with a theme, you are not there yet. The last part is the most difficult but also the most fun one. It requires creativity and demands your full attention: You need to make the website yours.

So how do you do that?

Well, since it’s all about your creativity, there isn’t a strict list for it, but there are things that you need to think about:

  • Homepage
    Do you want a static homepage or your last blogs to show up?
  • Pages
    Which static pages do you want to have? Think about ‘About me’, ‘Contact’, ‘Product x’ – You need to write nice texts for each and every one of those
  • Menu
    Make a menu with your static pages and maybe add a ‘Blog’ part. You can also make a submenu.
  • Blog
    As you want a blog, you will need to think about how your blog posts are going to look. It might help you to make a blog plan and set up a blog calendar before designing the look of a separate blog post and the overall blog posts page.
  • Newsletter
    If you have a newsletter, where can people sign up?
  • Sidebar
    Do you have a sidebar? What goes in there? Signup for your newsletter? Your latest blogs? A banner for a product of yours or someone else’s?
  • Social media
    Do you want people to follow you on social media? Where do you place the social buttons? Which ones?
  • Settings
    Go through the whole menu of ‘Settings’ and think about what the tagline for your site is, how the date is displayed, who can comment on your posts and how.
  • Widgets
    Widgets are great helpers for things that take a lot of time to do yourself. What kind of help do you want? There are great plugins out there to help against spam or help with SEO. Plugins for Google Analytics or automatic backups of your website.

Now I know this can be overwhelming. Having a premade template from Elementor can help you but it is also good to think about your setup yourself.

The training Wonderful WordPress Website: Built it with templates teaches you how to think about what you want in your website and build your own with Elementor (Pro) templates.

Step 5: Write your first blog post

Woohoo!! Your website is done! Now it is time to write your first blog posts and get this blog going!

>> Read more about writing blog posts here <<

Once you have a few blogs, you can start thinking about how you want to build on your website by monetizing your blog or building a business with it.

Hi, I'm Natalie

I love being creative (scrapbooking, card making, crocheting) and helping other creative entrepreneurs create money-making content that leads to fabulous products and services.

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