Launching Your First Blog: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide

Image courtesy of Pixabay under a Creative Commons CC0 licence.

Last updated: December 12, 2017 at 23:00 pm

Blogging is a great way to express yourself, make new friends, and earn extra money. And it’s really easy to get started — even if you’ve never tried blogging before.

Like many things in life, the secret is just to start! Your new blog will be up and running by the time you’ve finished our five steps. Relax, we’ll hold your hand the whole way through.

How To Start A Blog Today

Our guide has 5 simple steps (it’ll take about 20 minutes):

  1. Get the Best Web Hosting
  2. Pick Your Domain Name
  3. Set Up WordPress
  4. Create Great Content
  5. Build Traffic

Our step-by-step blogging guide will save you time and money and get your new blog online today. Once we’ve live, we’ll teach you how to produce content and how to attract your first visitors.

Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining ‘Blog’ is a fool’s errand.”

Two Things Before We Start

#1. While we help you start your own blog, some of the services we recommend pay us a “referral fee” if you buy their service. This doesn’t cost you a penny – in fact, you will save money with some special deals we’ve negotiated.

#2. Starting your blog takes a little time – about 20 minutes or so to get started. We suggest building your blog in one session, if possible. Short of time? Relax, we have a plan…

What Is a Blog, Exactly?

“Blog” is a contraction of “web log”. It’s a website that’s updated regularly, and is usually written by one person or a small group of writers. The tone of voice is usually pretty informal.

But, there are also professional, scientific, and academic blogs with a less casual voice. There is no single style, tone, or topic that defines a blog. Instead, blogs can be described as “anything goes”.

Originally considered an online journal or diary, blogging has expanded into much more than a place for individuals to share their thoughts with the world. In short, a blog can be defined as a website that you regularly update with new content.

Blogs come in all shapes and sizes. Really, you can blog about anything. The most common blog topics are in the realm of travel, fashion, food, and pets. But even though these niches are saturated with content, people are continuously finding new angles to take with them.

A blog can exist to be informative, educational, instructional, or just plain entertaining. If you’re ever read a piece of writing online, chances are you’ve read a blog post.

You can learn more in our history of blogging post.

Help! I Want To Make A Website, Not A Blog

No problem. The process to make a website is the same (at least at the start) as starting a blog, and WordPress is still your best choice to build the site with. Onwards!

Why Start A Blog?

It’s easy, fun and the best way to make your voice heard online. And – best of all – it’s very cheap to get started, and doesn’t require you to be a technical genius.

Is blogging dead? Most definitely, the answer is “no”. While Twitter gets bigger and bigger, it’s no replacement for a blog.

First of all, Twitter is a platform for sharing short snippets of text, articles, and pictures. You cannot post an entire article’s worth of content on there. Sure, you can use Twitter to promote your blog and share links to your posts. But Twitter itself is no replacement for blogging.

Personal Blogging

Many people start a blog to use as an online journal. This medium acts as an outlet to their thoughts and gives them an audience to share their opinions with.

Others choose a topic that they’re passionate about like gardening, baking, or woodworking. They may blog to share their knowledge about these topics or create a discussion among like-minded individuals.

Making Money With Your Blog

People running a personal hobby blog sometimes do so with the aim of making some money off of it. There are many different ways to make money with your blog. So many that this topic requires a full article of its own.

In short, people typically make money by placing advertisements on their blog, signing up as affiliates with other companies, or promoting products in their posts.

Don’t quit your day job yet! It takes a long time, even years, to build up an established blog that can make some decent money.

Blogging for Business

Businesses blog for another reason. This is referred to as content marketing, a form of marketing that is becoming extremely popular and valuable. You’ve probably noticed that almost every e-commerce store or online service has a blog.

Blogs help companies increase their online presence, develop an engaged audience, facilitate trust in their brand, send traffic to their website, promote products, educate their consumer base… the list goes on.

Why Should I Trust You Guys?

We run some of the biggest websites for webmasters in the world. As well as Blogging.com, we run HTML.com, Digital.com & many more.

In fact, our sites have become so popular that they’ve been featured in newspapers, magazines and websites like…

New York Times Logo        Time Magazine Logo        Mashable Logo
Metro Newspaper Logo        Venturebeat Logo        Business Insider LogoOur carefully crafted guides – just like this! – are read by many millions of readers every month in hundreds of countries around the world.

Finally, we’ve been doing it since way back in 2006 (a whole century in internet years)!

Why Should You Use WordPress?

WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS (content management system). It powers 25%+ of all websites online today, and an even larger percentage of blogs. (You’ll find more insane WordPress statistics over here).

Once you’ve created a blogging website with WordPress (more on this later), it’s simple to update it with new content. You can write blog posts directly into the text field in your WordPress dashboard, or you can write them in your favorite word processor and just paste your content into WordPress. You’ll be able to format your posts and add images, as well as various other interesting features.

Since WordPress is focused on blogging, it makes blog creation as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. Everyone from techy millennials to tech-illiterate baby boomers run blogs on WordPress.

 

Graph c/o Pingdom.

“Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud”

5 Reasons We Love WordPress

WordPress lets you customize your layout, create content, and expand your blog’s functionality over time. And you can achieve all this without touching a single line of code.

We love WordPress for lots of reasons, but to provide specifics:

  1. It’s 100% free (even if you make money from your blog in future)
  2. It’s super-easy to install (5 minutes max)
  3. There are lots of awesome WordPress themes & plugins available (and most are free)
  4. There is tons of free help online (like at Blogging.com!)
  5. It’s very easy to get started in a few minutes.

 

Image c/o WordPress.org

Help! I Need A WordPress Alternative

We love WordPress – just like the rest of the internet. But if you insist on starting your blog on another platform, you might like to check out Wix website builder.

What About Weebly Website Builder?

You may have heard about another website creation platform called Weebly. Weebly is a drag-and-drop website builder as well as a hosting service. Weebly is great for simple website design and hosting. Although you can also create a blog on their platform, most bloggers prefer the flexibility of WordPress.

If you use Weebly, you must pay for a monthly plan which includes hosting. But this means you won’t have the flexibility of choosing your own hosting provider as you can with WordPress. And, WordPress has many more features which come in the form of countless plugins.

WordPress users will have more tools at their disposal and much more freedom to create what they want.

Do I Need My Own Website?

We recommend starting your own blog site instead of using a blogging platform like Medium. Medium is an online platform for publishing content. There are many benefits to using the platform, including an instant start to blogging.

But having your very own website gives you complete control and ownership over your content. You get your own domain, your own brand, your own dedicated readers. A lot of bloggers prefer to post content on their personal websites first, and then post a duplicate of their content to Medium. This lets them expand their reach to a wider audience.

So, no, you don’t need your own website to start a blog. But we highly recommend it! For all of the same reasons that we recommend using WordPress.org over WordPress.com.

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com: Which Do You Need?

WordPress comes in two flavors. Be sure to know which you need.

WordPress.com is their “back to basics” blogging platform. You can build a WordPress site easily enough, but it’s much more limited than the regular WordPress.

For example, your choice of WordPress theme and plugins is drastically restricted (which is why few major blogs use it).

Worst of all? You’re stuck with a http://something.wordpress.com subdomain, instead of a proper domain name.

Not only does it look unprofessional, it means you are not in full control of your blog’s most important asset: it’s domain name. This is because your blog is hosted on WordPress’s servers. In other words, you don’t have to pay for web hosting.

But before you jump into using WordPress.com for free blogging, know that personal blog hosting is extremely cheap. And with all the features you get from using WordPress.org, everyone agrees that it’s worth it to pay a bit for hosting your own website.

“Grown up” WordPress – aka WordPress.org – is the most popular choice for 99% of blogs. We strongly recommend you opt for WordPress.org, as you’re future-proofing your blog.

(It’s possible to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org later… but it’s painful).

Take our advice and choose WordPress.org. Your next step is to buy WordPress web hosting.

Step #1. Choose the Best Web Hosting

Comparing all the different WordPress hosting services can be overwhelming. Almost every budget hosting company, big or small, now supports WordPress. And they all claim to be the best, and the cheapest!

Why Is Finding The Best Web Hosting Important?

Good web hosting can make or break your blog. Web hosting is what allows websites to be posted on the internet. Your website needs to be stored on a server so it can be accessed by people all over the world via the internet. Though it’s possible to host a website from your own computer, this isn’t realistic for most people. Which is why web hosting companies exist to provide this service.

You need to think about four things when it comes to web hosting:-

  1. Cost. What will it cost per month?
  2. Speed. You need your blog to load fast. Speed is super-important as users move to mobile.
  3. Uptime. Every website goes offline sometimes. But a good web host will help avoid problems with downtime.
  4. Technical Support.

The Types of Web Hosting

Web hosting comes in a wide variety of options. You’ll run into shared hosting, cloud hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers. If you’re starting a blog for the first time, you don’t need to worry about the last two.

Shared hosting is the cheapest and most basic form of hosting available. This kind of hosting stores your website on a server that you share with other customers of the hosting company. And, you share all of the resources – such as bandwidth and disk space – of the server as well.

Cloud hosting will give you faster website speeds because it stores your website across multiple shared servers. This increases site performance because users don’t share the resources of just one server with each other. And, cloud users enjoy higher uptime since a problem with one server is unlikely to effect a website stored on multiple servers.

VPS and dedicated hosting provide more power for larger websites with much higher traffic.

You’ll also notice that some hosting companies have WordPress hosting. These plans typically run on shared servers but can also be offered as cloud and VPS-based hosting. WordPress hosting is optimized for running the platform and will give you the most seamless WordPress experience.

But if you’re looking for the cheapest hosting possible, go with a basic shared hosting plan. Just make sure you can get a one-click WordPress install to make your life easier.

Our Favorite WordPress Hosting Service

We recommend BlueHost as the perfect choice for new bloggers.

It’s been recommended by Automattic – the team of geniuses behind WordPress – since 2005, and BlueHost’s parent company is one of the investors behind Automattic, so you know you’re in good hands.

One of our favorite things about Bluehost is their WordPress hosting built on revolutionary VPS technology. Since they use the power of virtual servers instead of shared servers, WordPress websites run insanely fast.

Bluehost makes it effortless to install WordPress from the control panel in your hosting account. They also include a content delivery network (CDN) to provide faster website loading for people located geographically farther from their servers. And, all websites get a free SSL certificate to reassure your site visitors that their information is secure.

Although we love Bluehost, we wish they provided an uptime guarantee. When a web host guarantees a certain amount of uptime (typically 99.9%), their customers can receive compensation if their website goes down for extended periods.

Bluehost’s WordPress-optimized plans may be more expensive than you’re willing to pay. They start at about $20/month. In that case, personal bloggers will have absolutely no problem with their cheaper shared hosting plans. You’ll still get adequate resources for your new blog, and a free domain name!

Or, go with Bluehost’s cloud hosting for a more affordable option than their WordPress plans but for 2x faster loading than you get with their shared hosting.

Go and signup now at BlueHost.com before moving to the continue with the next step of the tutorial.

Get your WordPress hosting now at Bluehost »

Image c/o WordPress.org

PRO TIP Don’t worry about fancy web hosting for a new blog. If you need more bandwidth or disk space in future, your host won’t be shy about offering upgrades.

How Good Is BlueHost For Uptime?

Despite Bluehost’s lack of uptime guarantee, we’ve been very pleased with the reliability of their hosting. We’ve consistently had at least 99.9% uptime from them. Compared to other hosts that experienced much more frequent downtime, Bluehost’s reliability is impressive.

If, however, you do experience extensive downtime with Bluehost, they’ll let you pull out of your contract early. If you do this, they’ll issue a pro-rated refund for the remainder of your subscription.

Here’s BlueHost’s uptime graph vs nine other hosts we’ve been tracking long term. Remember, an uptime of 99.9% is the industry standard.:-:-

Image c/o Down.com

How Fast Is BlueHost?

We can’t stress enough how important your page load speed is. Many site visitors will leave immediately if your page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Talk about impatient, right? With so much information available online, people aren’t going to wait for it from a website that takes too long to load.

Bluehost claims that their shared hosting plans provide a load time of 372ms (milliseconds). Their cloud hosting will give you 151ms. Our experience with Bluehost’s shared plans has shown that they consistently provide load speeds of less than 3 seconds. Great!

This graph shows how fast BlueHost is vs nine other hosts we’ve been tracking long term:-

Image c/o Down.com

Why Is Technical Support Important?

The final point – technical support – is boring, but it’s also really, really important. When it’s 1am and you don’t know why your blog is offline, you need somebody you can speak to!

Specifically, you need somebody you can call by phone – not send an email and wait a week for a reply.

Image c/o BlueHost.

How Much Does Web Hosting Cost?

BlueHost usually costs $7.95/month.

However, we’ve negotiated a special deal for Blogging.com readers. Take a look here for the latest pricing.

If you’re prepared to make a long-term commitment, BlueHost costs as little as $2.95/month. The longer you commit to, the less you pay each month. It’s your call.

Get your WordPress hosting now at Bluehost »

 

Image c/o BlueHost.

Help! I Can’t Afford To Pay For A Year’s Web Hosting…

When starting a blog, we think it’s important to make a commitment – just like joining the gym. But we also know that not everybody is able to make big financial commitments just like that.

If you need a “Plan B” who offer month-to-month billing, we recommend HostGator, owned by the same parent company as BlueHost.

Help! I Need To Start My Blog For Free

In our opinion, WordPress.com is the only show in town. Sure, there are plenty of other services, like Google’s Blogger.com or Yahoo’s Tumblr. But they’re severely limited next to WordPress.

Go signup now at WordPress.com before continuing with the next step.

Which Web Hosting Plan Is Best For Me?

Most hosting services offer multiple plans. BlueHost’s cheapest shared hosting plan is fine for a new blog, and allows plenty of bandwidth and disk space for your blog to grow.

BlueHost’s cheapest shared hosting plan offers WordPress as a one-click installer. Just find this button in your control panel (called cPanel) and click it to setup your new blog. It’ll be ready in seconds.

 

Image c/o BlueHost.

Need More Powerful WordPress Hosting?

Already got an existing site or blog that needs upgrading? If Bluehost doesn’t sound powerful enough for what you have planned , we recommend you check out WP Engine.

They offer high-end WordPress hosting… but with prices to match. WP Engine starts at $29 per month, so is about 10x the price of BlueHost.

However, we’ve negotiated a special deal for Blogging.com readers. You can find the most up-to-date pricing here

WP Engine is specially focused on hosting WordPress websites. In fact, that’s all they do. Do to their pricey nature, their hosting is better suited for small to medium-sized businesses. Or for personal bloggers who experience over 20,000 visitors per month.

This hosting provider’s business plans are great for companies running multiple blogs because they allow for more than one WordPress install. Although most of their plans use shared servers, they provide 99.95% uptime for websites hosted with them.

WP Engine provides added power for growing blogs or business websites. But this power may be overkill for the new blogger. If you’re just starting out, grab a cheaper plan from Bluehost instead. You can always migrate your website to WP Engine for free if you outgrow Bluehost.

If you’re looking for more powerful WordPress hosting — Use WP Engine »

Screenshot c/o WP Engine.

Step #2. Pick A Domain Name

Your domain name is extremely important. It’s the first point of contact that your audience will have with your blog. Your blog’s readers are sure to make snap judgments based on your domain name. So you need to get it right first time!

Before you go ahead and register your domain ame, there are three golden rules you should follow. Your domain name should…

  1. Be memorable
  2. Be hard to mis-spell (aka “pass the radio test“)
  3. Be descriptive (ie, Describe your blog’s topic, or establish a brand name)

For example, if you’re a passionate collector of vintage guitars, VintageGuitars.com would be a better fit than MyFavoriteGuitars.com. It fulfils all of the criteria we mentioned.

However, VintageGuitars.com is likely to be a very expensive domain indeed (more on premium domains in a moment).

Incorporating keywords into your domain name can help brand a blog – like Blogging.com! Keywords are individual words or phrases that are closely related to your niche. Think about the words that people might use to search for your content, and bear them in mind when choosing a domain name to register.

Finally, remember, you can’t use spaces or punctuation (except dashes) in a domain name.

Good and Bad Domain Names

To get a better idea of what makes up a good domain name, we’ve come up with some examples:

For a blog on caring for pet budgies, friendly-birds.com is a bad domain name. First, this domain uses a hyphen. This is a problem because people are likely to forget the hyphen when typing in your domain. And, the name doesn’t describe that the blog is about budgies or pet care. Instead, healthybudgie.com is a much better choice. The domain name is specific, contains keywords, is short, memorable, and easy to spell.

A domain name for a carpentry blog of ibuildthingsoutofwood.com may sound detailed and specific. But it’s actually too long and hard to remember. Learncarpentry.com is much shorter, specific, descriptive, and uses valuable keywords.

For a gardening blog by a woman named Hermoine, hermoineblogs.com sounds adequate. But this domain name is vague, it’s not descriptive, and contains no keywords about gardening. Additionally, if your name is hard to spell leave it out of your domain. On the other hand, vegetablegardening.com is descriptive, short, easy to spell, and takes advantage of keywords.

You can read more about choosing a good domain name in our in-depth guide.

What Domain Name Extension Should I Use For My Blog?

The choice is yours! We love .COM domains (hence Blogging.com), but they can be expensive (more on that in a moment).

(Domain name extensions are really called “TLDs” or “gTLDs”, by the way).

PRO TIP: If you choose a new domain extension, be sure to make sure your domain still passes the radio test! Most people online have still not heard of the new extensions, which is why we think they’re best treated with caution.

What Domain Name Extensions Can I Register?

The world’s most popular domain extensions (or TLDs) include…

WorldwideCountry Specific"New" TLDs
(2014 Onwards)
  
.COM.CO.UK.XYZ
.ORG.DE.CLUB
.NET.US.ONLINE
.INFO.FR.NINJA
.BIZ.ES.ROCKS

How To Register A Domain Name

BlueHost offer a free domain when you sign up to a shared hosting plan. So you can register your hosting and domain all at the same time.

Image c/o Bluehost.

Want To Use A Different Domain Registrar?

If you can’t find the domain extension you want, or you’d prefer to register your domain elsewhere, we also use and recommend GoDaddy.

They’re the world’s biggest domain registrar (Nearly 17% of all domains registered ANYWHERE), and you’ve almost certainly seen their ads on TV. You’ll find their domain search form here.

Image c/o GoDaddy.

Help! My Perfect Domain Name Is Already Registered!

PRO TIP: it usually costs a lot of time and money to buy a domain name that’s already registered.

If you’re feeling ambitious, we’ve an excellent guide at WhoIsHostingThis about how to buy a domain name that’s already registered.

If you’re very lucky, the domain might be listed for sale at a domain name marketplaces. Two of the biggest premium domain aftermarkets are:-

We’ve bought premium domain names from each of these, and are happy to recommend them. The bad news?

  1. You could have to spend A LOT of money…
  2. You may spend many weeks or months negotiating
  3. You will typically wait 1+ weeks for your domain to transfer ownership

Premium domains usually start at $1000+, but some change hands for $100,000s – or even millions of dollars. Before you fall in love with your dream domain name (and have to remortgage the house), you have been warned!

Step #3. Setup WordPress

How To Install WordPress

Lucky for you, WordPress is famous for their “5 minute install”.

Just follow the instructions and give your blog a name. Don’t worry, you can change it later easily enough if you need to (unlike the domain name, which is much more hassle to change).

How to Login To WordPress

Once WordPress is installed, you’ll receive an email with your…

  • Username (“admin” by default)
  • Password (whatever you entered)
  • WordPress Login URL (This will look like: http://blogging.com/wp-admin/)

It looks like this:-

If you can’t find the email, check your spam folder. Got the email? Then go ahead and log in to WordPress.

Exploring The WordPress Dashboard

You’ll see that you have access to a dashboard. This area gives you complete control over your WordPress blog.

In a few short moment, you’ll be ready to create your first blog posts or pages, like your contact page or other “must have” pages.

The WordPress dashboard is the control panel for your blog and lets you control everything from the design to the technical settings.

How To Setup WordPress

WordPress Dashboard Sidebar

Good news: WordPress works great right out of the box. There are three simple housekeeping tasks you need to take care of before you publish your first post:

a) Set Your Blog’s Name

In Settings > General, customize your:

  • Site Title (eg, Blogging.com)
  • Tagline (a strapline displayed below the logo in many WordPress themes)

b) Double Check Your Email Address

Check that your email address is correct, in case you need to reset your password in future. If there’s a typo, you’ll be locked out.

a) Setup Permalinks

In Settings option of the left-hand menu, go to Permalinks. They’ll be set to “Plain”. We suggest you use:-

  • “Post name” (eg, blogging.com/sample-post/)

But if you prefer, you can opt for one of these alternatives:-

  • “Day and name” (eg, blogging.com/2017/12/03/sample-post/)
  • “Month and name” (eg, blogging.com/2017/12/sample-post/)

“Permalinks” are the words that appear in the URLs for your blog posts and pages. They help search engines, like Google, find your blog posts more easily. This gives you a better chance of being indexed for the keywords that will drive traffic to your blog.

Whatever permalinks you choose, be prepared to stick with it: changing them once your blog has started to gain an audience can have catastrophic repercussions for your blog traffic!

How To Choose A WordPress Theme

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”

To design your website with WordPress, you first need to start with a pre-designed theme. WordPress has countless to choose from.

Your choice of WordPress theme is just as important as your choice of domain name. It allows you to get creative, and make your blog look and feel just like home.

The good news is WordPress makes it super-easy to chop and change your WordPress theme. You can change it every day of the year if you want to!

So: should you use a free theme or pay for a premium WordPress theme?

(For example, a premium theme will allow you to control practically every aspect of the layout. You will be less restricted by the theme defaults compared to a free theme.)

New Blogger? Use A Free Theme

For beginners to blogging, free themes offer more freedom to experiment. If you’re not used to using WordPress, we recommend using a free theme until you know which features matter to you most. WordPress has its own repository of free themes.

You can install them right from your dashboard; just click on “Appearance” and then “Themes.”

Some of the most popular free WordPress Themes include…

  • Twenty Seventeen
  • Twenty Sixteen
  • Twenty Fifteen

…and usually arrive by default when you install WordPress. You’ll probably recognize them all because these blog themes are so widely used. For example, Twenty Seventeen looks like this:-

 

Screenshot c/o WordPress.org

 

Advantages Of Free Themes

  1. Freedom To Choose. You can switch between free themes as frequently as you like, without having to pay.
  2. Experiment. Try out lots of different color schemes and layouts
  3. 100% Free with all the basic functionality you need to start blogging

Disadvantages Of Free Themes

  1. Generic. You may find that thousands of other blogs use the same WordPress theme as you
  2. Less Professional. The sad truth is it’s harder to make your blog look professional with a free theme
  3. Less customization. Free themes usually offer less sophisticated customization. This will be more important as your blog builds an audience and gains traction.

Experienced Blogger? Upgrade To A Premium Theme

Premium themes usually offer a more stylish and exclusive look out of the box. In that case, we suggest investing in a premium theme.

Our favorite sites to buy premium WordPress themes include:-

 

Screenshot c/o StudioPress.com

 

How Much Do Premium WordPress Themes Cost?

It varies. Expect to pay from $29 at the low end to $99. Some super-deluxe premium WordPress themes will cost $150+, if you buy a developer licence to use across many sites.

How to Install, Update, and Change WordPress Themes

WordPress makes it simple to alter the design of your website. Installing a theme is easy:-

  1. From your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New
  2. Now you’ll see all of WordPress’s featured themes. You can choose one of these or search for the names of themes you’ve heard about.
  3. To narrow your search, use the Feature Filter to select layout, your desired features, and your blog subject.
  4. Once you find a theme you like, you can preview it with your content. If you don’t have any website content or the plugins necessary for the theme, this preview might not look like anything like the final product.
  5. Once you’ve picked a winning theme, just click Activate, and you’re done!

You can then customize your theme using the customizer. The extent to which you can customize your website will depend on the theme you selected. Change between themes easily just by activating a new theme. All of your website content will appear in the new theme.

You will know if there is a new update to your theme when you go to Appearance Themes. This will show you all of the themes you’ve saved, as well as your active one. If it’s time to update a theme, just click Update Now.

Before you do this, note that any customization you did to the theme will be lost when you update it. To avoid this, you’ll have to update it manually.

How To Customize WordPress With Plugins

Plugins are extensions that add features to WordPress and help unleash the power of WordPress. They can make your blog even more powerful by adding features.

Popular plugins do things like add:-

  • Better SEO (making your blog appear higher in the search engines)
  • “Cacheing” (making your blog faster)
  • Fancy contact forms

How to Find and Install Plugins:-

  1. Click Plugins > Add New from your WordPress dashboard
  2. Check out the featured plugins on this page for the most popular and useful options.
  3. Use the search function to find plugins for the specific features you want to add to your website, like a shopping cart or intent-to-leave popups.
  4. When you find a plugin you like, just click Install Now.
  5. Activate the plugin and you’re good to go!

Some themes may require you to install particular plugins for some of their features to work. Each theme will make it clear which plugins you need to install.

3 “Must Have” Free WordPress Plugins

In our opinion, there are three “must have” WordPress plugins that every blog should have. Go ahead and grab these for your blog right away. On the WordPress dashboard, go to “Plugins”, then “Add New” and search for them by name.

  1. Akismet, to prevent comment spam from overwhelming your comment section.
    It’s free & built by the same team that made WordPress, Automattic.
  2. WP Super Cache, to speed up your blog. It’s also by Automattic.
  3. Yoast SEO, which makes it really easy to optimize your blog for search engines (This is your first step towards “search engine optimization” (SEO).

The free version of Yoast SEO is fine for now – you don’t need Yoast SEO premium.

2 “Must Have” Premium WordPress Plugins

There are a handful of premium WordPress plugins that we think every blog should have. You’ll need to pay for these ones.

  1. Jetpack, which is also developed by the WordPress team, and adds features backups for a small fee
  2. Sucuri, a security plugin that protects your blog against hacking and malware. It’s owned by GoDaddy.

Each of these plugins is built by a respected contributer to the WordPress community. Alas, not all are.

PRO TIP: No longer using a plugin? Delete it via your WordPress dashboard to stay safe.

WordPress Plugins: How To Stay Safe

Plugins are a critical part of WordPress. We use them extensively on Blogging.com. But you need to be careful when adding plugins to your blog for several reasons.

  1. Speed. Too many plugins will slow WordPress down. A LOT. That makes it difficult for your readers to navigate, and for search engines to crawl it.
  2. Security. Out-of-date plugins are a security risk that could get your blog hacked.
  3. Getting hacked. Poorly coded plugins can also introduce security risks. For example, hackers may figure out a way to manipulate the plugin to send spam from your domain name, or to insert hidden links on your site.
PRO TIP: Remember to keep your WordPress plugins up-to-date! You’ll get a reminder in the WordPress dashboard.

How to Backup Your WordPress Website

There may come a time when you have to back up your WordPress site. Maybe you want to do this on a regular basis just to be safe. If not, you’ll at least want to back it up before making major changes or manually updating your theme. There are a couple of easy ways to do this:

  • Through your hosting company. Many web hosts provide backups for their customers which you can control from your user account.
  • Use a WordPress plugin for automatic backups, such as Duplicator.
  • Back your site up manually. This is slightly more complicated and involves using cPanel or an SFTP program.
  • If your web host provides customer support, they will be able to help back up your WordPress website.

How to Add Google Analytics to WordPress

Google analytics is an amazing, free analytics service for tracking your website visitors. It provides a wealth of information such as where your visitors come from and which web pages perform the best. This helps bloggers learn who to target with their content and which blog topics people like the most.

To integrate Google Analytics with your WordPress site:

  1. Sign up for a Google Analytics account.
  2. Once you’ve created an account, you’ll be presented with your Google Analytics tracking code. Copy this code.
  3. Navigate to your WordPress dashboard. Install and activate an analytics plugin, such as MonsterInsights or Google Analytics Dashboard.
  4. Follow the instructions for your plugin, you should end up at a place to paste the tracking code that you copied from Google Analytics. Both of the mentioned plugins have simple step-by-step instructions on how to do this.

Step #4. How To Write Your First Blog Post

High-quality content is critical to gaining traffic for your new blog.

(Once the web traffic starts to flow, your blog could become a profitable hobby — or even a full-time job. More on making money from your blog later).

But if your content is merely average, you may not attract much traffic – or even none at all! There’s a million blogs on the internet. You need to make yours stand out from the competition.

How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

The length of content on the internet is a hotly debated topic. Word-count is a key contributor to your search ranking results. Longer content typically ranks higher on Google. In fact, the longer the better when it comes to search ranking. This is because longer articles will contain more keywords, more topics, headings, links, and pictures.

At the very least, your blog posts should be more than 300 words for Google to rank it. The ideal length of a post for general reading is 1,000+ words.

And that’s just fine too. Just make sure that your long posts are extremely easy to read and to skim. Avoid walls of text at all costs!

If you’re aiming for a solid number, then between 1000 and 1500 word posts should be a perfect starting point. But feel free to experiment and find what works best for you and your audience.

How To Write For Your Blog’s Audience

You need to be clear about what you want to say, and it helps to imagine who your audience will be. Pick a topic that you are truly passionate about, and think about the needs of your blog’s readers.

Blogs exist on more or less any subject you can think of under the sun, from trading commodities to rearing chickens.

In each case, you need to find the right angle – and find your own voice. More on that in a moment.

How To Write Your Best Content

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.”

There’s no magic formula to determine what your content should look like. It depends on your niche, and what your passion is. And it depends on what your readers are looking for.

Some blogs focus on breaking news or viral stories from the web. These blogs can gain a lot of traffic very soon after publication. The articles tend to have a short life span.

Other blogs contain in-depth articles that are written with longevity in mind (what we call “evergreen content”).

These articles tend to be longer, more detailed, and aim to attract traffic for many years – or even decades!

Look at other blogs in your niche and look at the things they do well. Try to find gaps in their strategy, and capitalize on those opportunities.

How To Create a Blog Schedule

Setting a schedule for your blog will help you build traffic – and keep it up over the medium and long term.

Scheduling is important for two reasons:

  1. Building Readership. You’ll encourage your readers to visit your blog regularly. Pacing your blog posts ensures that there’s always something new to read.
  2. The Power Of Habit. You’ll get into the habit of regular writing – and stick with it. Just like going to the gym!

How Often Should I Publish Blog Posts?

There’s no right or wrong frequency for publishing new posts. It depends on…

  • Your blog’s topic (eg, breaking news vs history)
  • Your audience (eg, young vs old)
  • Your goals (eg, a hobby vs a job as professional blogger)

But no matter how often you update your blog, it’s a good idea to space out your posts, instead of publishing lots of new blog posts all at the same time.

You don’t have to sit down and write every blog post just before you intend to publish. WordPress has a built-in post scheduler that lets you plan new blog posts in advance.

This gives you the freedom to plan a complete blogging schedule, write the blog posts ahead of time, and then publish them at regular intervals.

That might be once a day, once a week or once a month – the choice is yours.

Step #5. Promote Your Blog

“Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs.”

Once you’ve got your first blog posts live, the next step is to get visitors to read your blog. This isn’t as hard as you might think. Most bloggers rely on four key sources of traffic:-

  1. Search engines, like:
    • Google
    • Bing
    • Yahoo
  2. Social media, including:
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Google Plus
    • LinkedIn
    • Pinterest
  3. RSS (You can read more about RSS subscriptions here).
  4. Email newsletters
  5. Direct traffic, or people typing your domain name. You’ll not have any when you launch your blog!

There’s plenty of articles on Blogging.com about search engines and social media, so we have plenty of tips to guide you.

Promoting your blog on social media is one of the best ways to increase readership. This keeps your followers updated on your new posts, makes it easy for them to share your content with others, and helps create engagement as readers discuss your topics.

Take advantage of this valuable, and completely free tool for expanding your blog’s audience.

Once you have traffic, you may want to push your visitors to subscribe via RSS or via email list to keep them coming back for more. More on that in a moment.

How To Get Your Blog Indexed By Google

Search enginges like Google add new blogs to their index when they discover them mentions (in the form of links) on existing sites. The more links your blog has, the more popular it is and the higher Google rank you.

Want to know how to get your first link to your new blog? Read on below!

How To Create Social Media Profiles At Facebook, Twitter Etc

You’ll need a matching name to your domain name on social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter.

Registering on social networks will protect your reputation, and prevent shady marketers from grabbing your name and using it for a rival site. Try to get the exact same wording as your domain (or a very close variant).

Social networks can drastically expand your blog’s audience. If you have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you have a better chance of getting found, so you should be thinking about them as part of your blogging strategy.

Happy Blogging!

That’s it. We ask for your help with three things:

  1. Spread The Word. If you found this guide helpful, please consider sharing it on Twitter, Facebook or by email to anybody you think might need our help.
  2. Share Your Blog With Us. Please be sure to email us and share your new blog. We’ll be featuring the best new blogs with our readers.
  3. Sign Up For Our Newsletter. for tips and advice on how to grow your readership & even earn money from your blog.

Further Reading: Blog Design

There’s plenty of posts on Blogging.com to help you get to the next level with your blog:-

Further Reading: Content Creation

Further Reading: Getting Traffic & Building An Audience

Further Reading: How To Make Money From Your Blog

  • Coming soon!

Need Help Starting Your Blog?

Email us and we’ll do our best to help. We promise to respond to every message we receive, but please be patient: we tackle your questions in the order we receive them!

Nick Reese is a multi-passionate entrepreneur who believes anyone can transform their business and life they they’ve got guts and hustle. He’s also the co-founder of Broadband Now which aims to simplify the broadband shopping process.