This post is a newbie-friendly beginners guide showing you how to start a WordPress blog step by step.
It really is quite a simple process to start a blog, but there are several extra things worth knowing that will help you and your blog succeed.
We use ads and affiliate links on our blog. This doesn't cost you anything, yet helps keep us online. Disclosure.
I’ve been a fulltime, professional blogger for years (In addition to his site, I am also the woman behind the affiliate marketing blog HerPaperRoute.com), and have put this ‘how to start a WordPress blog‘ beginners guide together for you with every detail you will need for a successful start to blogging.
There are over 5,000 words in this blogging tutorial, in fact!
So, this guide will set you up for success so you can be blogging like a pro from the start.
Pour yourself a cup of coffee and let’s start your blog right now!
Starting A Blog Beginners Guide
First, congrats on deciding to start a blog! Blogging is a rewarding activity, that can also be very lucrative.
You can follow this WordPress blog starting guide on this page, or you can enroll in my free startbloggingpros.com Start A WordPress Blog course – both include all the information you need to start a proefessional self-hosted blog today.
Not only will you have a proper self-hosted WordPress blog set up in just a few minutes, but it will also be ready to be monetized. That means you can make money with your blog.
I will walk you through how to monetize your new blog so you can start making money blogging today.
Blog StartUp Kit
To get started, first grab yourself a free copy of our Blog StartUp Kit, by becoming a startbloggingpros.com member below.
We send our members a weekly email with helpful, useful blogging tips, as well as share opportunities for you to make money with your blog such as brand sponsorship and paid blogging jobs. We will NEVER spam you. That’s just not our style.
How To Start A WordPress Blog – Table Of Contents
- Why Use WordPress.org For Blogging?
- Decide On Your Niche
- Choose On A Domain Name And Register Hosting
- Install WordPress
- Set Permalinks
- Install WordPress Theme & Plugins
- Create Main Pages
- Write Blog Posts
- Build Email List
- Monetize Your Blog
How To Start A WordPress Blog Step By Step
1. Why Use WordPress.org For Blogging?
We run all of our websites on WordPress.org, and although we have used other platforms at times, nothing can compare to the quality and ease of use you get with WordPress.org
- Professional & Secure: WordPress is the highest standard in the industry.
- It’s Free: WordPress.org is 100% free to use, including free plugins, themes, add-ons . and more, which other platforms either don’t offer, or they charge a lot for
- It’s User-Friendly: You can set it up, customize and maintain your WordPress website all on your own. You don’t need to hire a web developer to do anything for you.
- It is completely customizable: In addition to plugin-ins, there are endless amounts of quality WordPress themes you can use and easily customize to your liking – without ever having to know or do any code.
2. Decide On Your Niche
What is a niche? Your niche is the topic that you blog about. It is wise to choose just one topic for your blog, and create all of your content to suit it.
This is because the more defined your niche is, the better chances you have of ranking on search engines, growing your blog faster, and being able to target more customers.
You want your blog to be focused on just one topic, so you can build your authority in the niche, and have an easier time growing an audience and selling niche-specific products to them.
Also, you don’t want to confuse your readers with too many topics.
How To Choose A Blog Niche
Your niche could be anything, but choose something that you will be excited to write about for years to come.
For SEO reasons, it is also wise to choose a niche that isn’t already extremely saturated by other people blogging about the same thing.
That’s not to say you can’t blog about something that is a supersaturated niche, it’s just that you will have a harder time ranking on search engines when your topic is already highly competitive.
We would recommend that you choose something as niche specific and low-competition as possible, at least for your first blog, so you can build up your authority and readership.
If you aren’t sure what your niche will be yet, that’s OK too. Your niche can develop as you develop as a blogger – don’t let that stop you from starting a blog today!
3. Choose A Domain Name And Register Hosting
To set up a self-hosted blog on your own domain name, you’ll need just two things:
Domain Name – Your domain is your blog’s address. For example: www.YourBlog.com (but ‘YourBlog’ will be whatever name you choose). Our domain is startbloggingpros.com.
The cost of a domain name is usually about $10 per year. But if you act fast, you can score a free domain name (keep reading to see how!)
Web Hosting – Web hosting allows your website to be ‘live’ on the Internet. You need web hosting in order to use your website and have other people see it.
The cost of web hosting is usually between $10-16 per month, but I have a special deal for you. See below!
How To Get Cheap Web Hosting And A Free Domain
I have partnered with the best web hosting provider Bluehost to offer you 63% off your web hosting today!
Normally, you’d have to spend over $10 per month to get a web hosting plan with a premium host but today you can get started for only $2.95/month!
They will also throw in a free SSL security certificate and free 1-click install of WordPress.org. Making it super easy and cheap to start your blog today.
This is the best deal you will find on web hosting, anywhere! But this deal is only available for a limited time…
With my special Bluehost web hosting discount, it is less than $3 per month to self-host your blog, including WordPress.org, a free SSL security certificate, and more!
Web Hosting Options
Another popular web hosting option is to host your blog with SiteGround.
To learn how to set up your blog with SiteGround, enroll in our free blogging course which explains how to set up a SiteGround blog.
SiteGround is a great web host, but it is more expensive and does not come with a free domain. Taking that into consideration, We recommend Bluehost as the better option.
Why A Good Web Host Is Mission Critical For Your Blog’s Success
You need a hosting provider so that you can use WordPress.org, which allows you to completely own your website and have full control and free will to monetize it.
This is called ‘self-hosting’ and it is essential if you want to start a blog correctly, especially if you want to be able to make money with it.
Why You Should Never Use A ‘Free’ Blogging Platform
- You can’t monetize a ‘free’ website platform such as Tumblr, Wix or the basic ‘free’ WordPress.com. Most ‘free’ platforms don’t allow you run ads and no brand is going to sponsor you for paid blogging or influencer partnerships if you have a tumblr.com domain address. So unprofessional!
- You don’t own your website on a ‘Free’ platform. If you use Tumblr for your blog, Tumblr owns your blog, and they can shut you down at any minute. Which won’t happen when you self-host and own your own website.
- It’s expensive: ‘Free’ platforms are actually much, much more expensive in the long run because with ‘free’ platforms you have to pay for upgrades (upgrades which are free and included when you self-host), and you are limited in everything you need to be able to run a blog successfully.
- Most importantly, not self-hosting means that because you are unable to monetize, you are LOSING money every day. Think of the thousands of dollars you could be making from your blog if you were properly self-hosted?
Set Up Hosting & Register Domain Name
First, you will need to register a domain name.
You can do this by checking if your desired domain name is available by entering it in the form below, or by going to Bluehost and clicking the green ‘Get Started Now’ button.
Next, choose your plan. We recommend the prime plan. It includes free domain privacy, which is important.
If you don’t have domain privacy, anyone can look up your domain and see your name, email, home address and phone number.
Whichever you choose, you can lock in the promo price for a set term, which is a great incentive that Bluehost offers to their customers.
You can register for 3 years and keep the new promo rate for all 3 years, for example.
Next, you get to register your domain! Enter your choice of name and Bluehost will let you know if it’s available. Or if you already have a domain registered somewhere else, you can add it here.
Next, you will be able to enter your contact information and complete your registration.
4. Install WordPress
Welcome to your Bluehost dashboard. Look at the top for where it says ‘Hosting’, click to be in the hosting tab and look for where it says ‘Home’ or ‘Cpanel’ click either one.
On the ‘Home’ or “CPanel’ page, scroll down to the ‘website’ area and look for ‘Install WordPress.’ Click that and follow the prompts. The 1-click WordPress install will start.
Click the icon, and you will be prompted to install WordPress. Click Install, and give your new site a name, and attach it to your domain!
While WordPress installs, a green bar at the top of your screen will show you its progress. While this is happening, you may be prompted to choose a theme from Mojo Marketplace.
You don’t have to choose a theme a yet.
Once WordPress is finished installing, you will be able to log in. The login page looks like this:
You can always access this login page at any time by typing www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin into your address bar.
Once logged in to WordPress, you will be on your WordPress dashboard. On the left side is where you will see tabs to create pages and add your first post.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with this dashboard – you will use it a lot!
5. Set Blog’s Permalink Structure
Google likes your pages and blog post URL links to be clean and tidy, without any extra information. This is an easy thing to set up.
From your WordPress dashboard, click on ‘Settings’ and then ‘Permalinks.’
Then, select ‘post name’ and save.
Now all of the pages and posts on your website will have the right format.
6. Install WordPress Theme & Plugins
When you first install WordPress, it is very basic, bare-bones. In order to make it look and function how you want, you need to install a theme and some plugins.
You will need to use a theme that is responsive, secure and from a reputable developer.
There are many free WordPress themes out there, but I would never use a free WordPress theme, for many reasons.
You should use a premium WordPress theme because:
- A premium theme is guaranteed to be bug-free and come with support from the developer, which free themes don’t
- WordPress makes updates several times a year, premium themes are updated to the current versions of WordPress, whereas free themes aren’t
- Premium themes function and look more professional because they are
- With premium themes you can have exactly what you want, with very easy customization ability, no code needed. Free themes typically require some knowledge of code in order to tweak them to function the way you want them to.
I recommend the WordPress themes from:
If you go with StudioPress/Genesis framework, you will be able to use the amazingly beautiful themes from:
How To Install WordPress Theme Theme
Once you have purchased your theme, you will be given it as a .ZIP file.
Within your WordPress dashboard, click on ‘Appearance’ then ‘Themes’ then click the ‘Add New’ button.
You will then land on a page where you can upload the zip file.
Upload the .ZIP file and once it uploads, click ‘Activate.’
Install Free Plugins
WordPress plugins make it possible to run special features and functions on your blog. WordPress has a huge gallery of free plugins you can easily install with the click of a button.
Go to ‘Plugins’ then ‘Add New.’ I recommend these plugins:
- Akismet Anti-Spam
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP)
- Ultimate Nofollow
- Yoast SEO
- Broken Link Checker
- Shortlinks by Pretty Links
- AddToAny Share Buttons
If you want to keep your website hidden from the world while you are working on it, you can put it in ‘maintenance mode.’
From your WordPress dashboard simply go to Settings – General and make sure the Bluehost ‘coming soon’ page is turned on.
This will put a wall up on your website, so only you can see its content, and then when you are ready to go live, you simply deactivate the plugin.
If you aren’t using Bluehost you will need to use a plugin to do this instead. I recommend either of these:
When you are ready to ‘go live’ you just need to turn off the coming soon page (or if using a plugin, deactivate it).
7. Create Main Pages
From your WordPress dashboard, click ‘Pages’ and then ‘Add New.’
You will then land on the WordPress page editor. It looks like this:
Some pages you should create for your new website are:
- Contact Page
- About Me – For an example of what to include on an About Me page, read this!
- Disclosure, Privacy, and Term And Conditions pages. I recommend that you purchase the Legal Bundle Templates which show you exactly what to include on these pages. This is an important step not to overlook.
You can then add links to these pages to your navigation menu by clicking ‘Appearance’ then ‘Menus.’
9. Write Blog Posts
It’s time to write your first blog post! On deciding what topics to write about, you should think about what your niche target market wants to read.
What are their pain points? How can you help and teach them something with your blog?
How To Find Topics To Blog About Which Your Target Market Wants To Read
- Go where your niche target market hangs out, such as online forums and Facebook groups, read their problems, questions and comments, and you will find tons of inspiration for blog topics.
- Next, do keyword research. By doing keyword research, you will discover what people are searching for on Google, so you can write content that people want to read. Keyword research will also give you a multitude of blog topic inspiration.
Keyword Research And SEO Basics
You should take SEO (search engine optimization) into consideration when writing blog posts, to ensure that people can find your website on Google and other search engines.
This starts with doing keyword research to see what people are looking up on Google, and using those search terms in your blog post.
You want to use keywords in your post title, in your heading tags, in the alt text of your images and throughout your paragraphs. Preferably keywords with a high search interest paired with low competition.
KWFinder is a great tool for this.
Simply enter your keyword here, and you will be given a ton of ranking info and keyword suggestions:
For a more comprehensive tool, take your keyword research further and use SemRush.
Doing keyword research is really not as boring or hard as it sounds – we promise! And doing it from the start will put you on the right track to blogging success in no time.
To learn how to do keyword research, enroll in our free SEO Made Simple course.
It’s also a smart option to work with an SEO agency who can help boost your organic reach professionally – and faster than doing it all yourself. I recommend Z Networks Group for this.
How To Write A Blog Post In WordPress
How to write a blog post in WordPress is quite simple.
From your WordPress dashboard, click ‘Posts’ and then ‘Add New.’
You will then land on the WordPress post editor. It looks almost exactly like the WordPress page editor:
How To Write A Blog Post
This is where you write your blog post, add links, set the URL and so on.
To add an image, click ‘Add Media’ and upload your image.
From the dropdown box where it says ‘paragraph’ you can select the heading tags, which are called H1, H2, H3…
Heading tags help break up your paragraphs, so it isn’t just a big wall of text. This makes it easier for people to read. Using bullets is another good way to break up text.
For each of your blog posts, create these graphics:
A Pinterest pin (600×900) – We insert our pin in our blog posts, you may also want to use it as the featured image
A Facebook/Twitter card (1024×512) – you will upload these under the social media tab in Yoast so they show when someone shares your post on social media
You can use Canva to create all of your graphics for free. For free places to source stock photography, check out this big list of styled stock photography!
Launch Your Blog
Once you have at least 6 blog posts written, it’s time to launch your blog!
This just means that you ‘go live’ by publishing your blog post drafts or disabling ‘maintenance mode’ if you had it activated.
Now, you will need to connect your blog to Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and then submit your blog to Google for indexing.
Launch your blog! Congratulations!
10. Promote Your Blog
Next, it’s time to promote your blog and drive traffic to it.
There is something called the 80/20 rule in blogging.
This refers to how a successful blogger spends 20% of their time creating content like blog posts, and then the rest of the 80% of time marketing and promoting their blog.
This is an important rule to live by.
You really do need to spend a great deal of your time marketing your work in order for people to see it. Especially in the beginning.
- First, enroll in our free SEO course, as well as our Pinterest Marketing course, each training walks you through every step in creating an effective visibility campaign for your blog.
- Create the social media pages for your blog, such as a Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
- Connect with us on Pinterest and join our Facebook Group where you can promote your blog, and meet other bloggers in our community.
11. Build Email List
Building an email list and sending regular newsletters to the subscribers on it is mission critical for your blog’s success.
Your email list is more important than how many social media followers you have, a thousand times over!
You will find that driving traffic to your blog, launching products and making sales is much easier when you have a dedicated list of people who are interested in what you do.
Your newsletter is how you nurture and grow the relationship with your audience, and how you convert them into lifelong customers.
How do you get people to sign up to your email list? You need to offer an incentive, called an opt-in freebie.
This is some sort of content/offer/product/special thing that you give your readers in exchange joining your list.
HerpaperRoute has a very informative post about list building and email marketing – it’s a must-read for new bloggers!
This post details exactly how to create a high-converting opt-in freebie that will grow your email list like wildfire.
We recommend you sign up for a free MailerLite account and use it for your email list and newsletters. It is a very user-friendly tool with great features. It is free up to 1000 subscribers, so it’s the perfect tool to use while your list grows.
If you need something a bit more professional and are ready to pay a monthly fee, you can use ConvertKit, which is the best email service provider. Plans there start at $29 per month.
We offer a free course on list building right here, too.
12. Monetize Your Blog
Now that you have successfully set up your blog, it’s time to monetize it!
‘Monetizing your blog’ just means that you have things on your blog that can make you money. You have something for sale that your readers can buy.
There are a number of ways you can make money with your blog. The most common being:
- Affiliate Links
- Physical Products eCommerce (Shopify, Amazon FBA, drop shipping)
- Digital Products (EBooks & Courses)
- Membership/Subscriptions (Where people pay a monthly fee to access your website/downloads/services)
- Ads (Google Adsense, MediaVine, AdThrive)
- Your Own Services (Consulting/coaching, design, VA/freelance services, ect)
- Blog Sponsorship
It’s wise to monetize your blog in multiple ways at once. Let’s talk about each.
Ways To Monetize Your Blog
Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to monetize your blog. Affiliate marketing is when you partner with a brand as their affiliate, they give you a unique tracking code called an affiliate link.
You place the link on your blog, in your newsletters, and on social media, and whenever someone buys their product after clicking your link, you earn a commission for referring the sale.
You can start earning money as an affiliate from day one – you don’t need to wait to have a following. I recommend that you use affiliate links in every blog post you write.
In order to become an affiliate, you first need to join an affiliate network.
But before you start applying to affiliate networks, ensure your website is live, with no ‘coming soon’ or ‘under construction’ pages. Also, it’s wise to have at least 5 blog posts published before you apply to an affiliate network.
Ensuring that those things are good to go will improve your chances of being accepted when the affiliate network’s team reviews your application and blog.
Once you are accepted, you can start applying to the individual brands who host their affiliate programs on the network.
Apply To These Affiliate Networks
- AWIN *there is a $5 sign-up fee, which is credited back to you once you are approved
- Rakuten LinkShare
- Commission Junction
Have a look at the Affiliate Program Directory at HerPaperRoute to discover and apply to hundreds of affiliate programs in a variety of niches.
To learn all about affiliate marketing, check out the Affiliate Marketing Strategy eBook by Chelsea Clarke. Chelsea is the founder of HerPaperRoute.com, and an affiliate marketing pro.
Use code STARTBLOGGINGPROS for a $15 discount!
Affiliate Marketing Quick Tip
Be sure to cloak your links with the PrettyLinks plugin, never post the direct affiliate links you are given in ShareaSale or Awin.
That way, when you sell your blog, the new owner can easily change the affiliate link in PrettyLinks to their own, one time and it will update all of the affiliate links sitewide.
You can sell physical and digital products from your website using the free Woocommerce plugin.
Dropshipping is another fantastic way to monetize your blog.
Dropshipping is when you list products for sale on your website that you don’t actually have.
Then when someone buys it from you, you buy it for cheap from your supplier in China and the supplier ships the product directly to your customer.
Dropshipping can be incredibly lucrative since there is so little expense. No inventory, no shipping fees.
You can run a complete dropshipping store on your own website using the AliDropship plugin, which is a one-time payment for the license.
The AliDropship plugin makes it possible to import wholesale products from AliExpress right into your website, manages the supplier’s inventory, pricing, sales and more.
Or, if you didnt want to run a store on your website, you could run your store on Shopify instead. Shopify costs $29 per month, after your free trial.
You can’t use the AliDropship plugin on Shopify, but they have their own similar tool called Oberlo.
The easiest and fastest way to sell online courses is to use Teachable.
Teachable is super user-friendly and makes it very easy to create, sell and manage your school. The monthly fee to use the platform with no transaction fees is $99 per month.
A more affordable option is to host your courses on your own website, using the Eduma theme and LearnPress plugin, which you can purchase bundled together for a one-time price of $69.
If you are comfortable customizing and editing your own themes, this is a great, cost-effective option.
If would rather have a done-for-you type school on a platform that requires little to no upkeep, hosting your school on Teachable is the way to go.
To monetize your website as a membership where people pay a monthly subscription to access it, you can use the MemberPress plugin.
This plugin makes it possible to ‘lock’ certain pages and content on your website that can only be accessed when someone has an active paying membership.
Google Adsense, MediaVine and AdThrive are ad networks you can use.
When you place an ad from these networks on your site, you earn money everytime someone clicks the ad.
It can be a few cents per click to a few dollars. The more traffic you have means the more money ads will generate.
Google Adsense is a good place to start as a new blogger.
Once you have 25,000 monthly sessions you are eligible to join MediaVine (which pays better than Adsense), or once you have 100,000 monthly pageviews you can join AdThrive.
Your Own Services:
Monetizing your blog with your own services like consulting/coaching, design services, virtual assistant or other freelance services is a great way to grow your income and authority.
Sponsorship involves a wide array of methods in which companies can provide money or other agreed upon benefits in exchange for advertising or promotion on your site.
This is often also known as Influencer Marketing.
You can choose to work with sponsors in ways that best fit your preferences. Some bloggers like to write advertorial posts about a brand’s product, do a paid Instagram shout-out, ect.
Others may prefer a more passive method of earning such as receiving a monthly fee for placing a banner ad in their sidebar.
It’s even possible that a company may pay a substantial sum to become an exclusive sponsor of a well-known blog within their niche.
If you are an American citizen, it is the FTC law that you must disclose an affiliate or sponsored relationship on your blog.
Other countries will have different laws. But even if you aren’t American yourself, you will likely be working with American brands so you should always have your disclosure visible.
You can do this by adding a sentence to each of your blog posts that looks something like this:
Affiliate links may be used in this post. Which means that if you decide to purchase any of the products we recommend, we may earn a commission, which is at no cost to you. For more info, see our disclosure page.
Then link to your own disclosure page. You can click to see our disclosure page above to see what sort of information is worth having on your own.
Congratulations on starting your professional WordPress blog!
Becoming a successful blogger takes time – but remember that everyone started as a newbie in the beginning.
Keep at it and continue to learn a bit more each day. You will be a pro blogger in no time!
For the next steps in learning how to sustain your blog as a profitable business, enroll in Be Your Own Blog Boss by Chelsea Clarke of HerPaperRoute.
This blogging course covers monetization in-depth, from a blogger who earns over $10,000 per month with a small blog. She gives you a clear roadmap to develop your blog into a career.
Also, Following Free Blogging Resources:
Blogging Like A Pro
Make Money Blogging
Be Your Own Blog Boss – Complete course on the business of blogging, by HerPaperRoute