Last semester, my schoolmate Birgit and I hosted a COS Camp session on how to set up your first WordPress blog. The seminar was well-received and many people were interested in learning more about the process. So, I wrote this article that includes tips to help you get started.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog, WordPress is a great platform to choose. It’s free and open source, which means you can use it for any purpose you like, including commercial websites. And best of all, WordPress is easy to use.
1. Choose a web host
When it comes to hosting your WordPress blog, you have a lot of different options. You can host it on your own website (if you have one), or use a web host specifically for WordPress blogs. There are pros and cons to both methods, so let’s take a look at each option in more detail.
Hosting Your Blog on Your Own Website
If you already have a website, you can host your WordPress blog on that site. This has the advantage of keeping all your content in one place, and it’s free (assuming you already have the hosting space and domain name). The downside is that it can be more complicated to set up, and if your website goes down, your blog will go down with it.
Using a WordPress-Specific Host
There are many web hosts that specialize in WordPress blogs. These hosts make setting up and maintaining a WordPress blog easy, and they often include features like automatic backups and malware scanning that can help keep your blog safe. The disadvantage is that these hosts tend to be more expensive than general-purpose web hosts.
When choosing a web host you also need to consider:
- where the server is located: if you are targeting a specific audience in one country (limiting your content to one language) then it might be useful if the server is located in this country or at least near enough (writing a german blog to target Austrians and having your web server located in New Zealand might not be ideal)
- server’s speed: google and see if the host has been tested for speed and uptime. You don’t want to end up with a web host who’s not reliable and has problems with speed
- support: choose a web host that will support you when you’ll have questions or you’ll need help migrating, connecting your domain, etc.
- enough space: if you are planning on having a blog full of photos and videos, consider choosing a web hosting plan that has bigger storage space
- installing an SSL certificate: most web hosts offer SSL certificates free of charge. It encrypts the information sent between your blog and your readers’ browsers. Having it installed also benefits your Google ranking
2. Purchase a domain name
Domain names are an important part of your website. They help people find your site, and they also help to create a professional image for your business. When choosing a domain name, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
First, think about what you want the domain name to represent. Is it the name of your business? The name of your product? A keyword related to your industry? Once you have an idea of what you want the domain name to be, start brainstorming potential options.
Make sure the domain name is easy to remember and type in, and that it’s not already taken by another company or individual. You can use a Domain Name Checker tool like this one to see if the domain is available.
3. Connecting web host and domain
With purchasing a web host you receive nameservers which are like the address of your server. You need to connect these nameservers with your domain. The process depends on your domain registrar, but they usually offer support or have a Help section, if you’re struggling.
4. Install WordPress
Now that you’ve chosen a web host and purchased a domain name, it’s time to install WordPress. This is a process that can vary depending on your web host, so be sure to check their documentation for specific instructions. In general, the process will look something like this:
- Log in to your web host account and go to the cPanel (or equivalent) dashboard.
- Scroll down to the “WordPress” section and click on the “Install WordPress” icon.
- Follow the prompts to select your domain name and install WordPress.
- Once WordPress has been installed, you’ll be able to log in with the username and password you created during installation.
5. Configure WordPress
Once you’ve installed WordPress, the next step is to configure it to match your needs. This includes setting up your blog’s title, description, and tagline; adding users and assigning roles; and configuring settings like comments and permalinks.
One of the best ways to learn how to configure WordPress is by reading the official documentation. This includes a wide range of topics from basic setup instructions to more advanced tips and tricks.
Your WordPress installation comes with a default WordPress theme. If you want to change the look of your website, you can purchase a new theme or choose from the free ones.
6. Create your first post & page
When you first install WordPress, the only content on your site is the default post and page that are included with the installation. These are just a basic example of what’s possible with WordPress, so it’s a good idea to delete them and start fresh.
To create a new post or page, go to the Posts menu in the Dashboard and click on “Add New.” This will open up a new editor where you can enter your content. Be sure to add a title and some descriptive text, as well as any images or videos you want to include.
When you’re done writing your post or page, click on “Publish” to make it live on your site.
You can start with a basic post introducing yourself and what you’ll write about and create a page About me and Contact me.
7. Use plugins to add features
Plugins are software modules that can be installed into WordPress to add new features or change the way existing features work. There are plugins for everything from adding social media buttons to your site to creating custom forms and surveys.
To find plugins, you can browse the official WordPress plugin directory or use one of the many third-party plugin directories like PluginBuddy or WordPress.org. Be sure to read reviews and ratings before installing any plugin, as not all of them are created equal.
There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress, so it’s impossible to list them all here. However, here are some of the most popular and useful plugins that you might want to consider installing on your blog:
- Social Media Plugins: plugins like Jetpack or WP Social Sharing allow you to easily add social media buttons to your posts and pages, making it easy for readers to share your content with their friends and followers.
- Forms and Surveys: plugins like Gravity Forms or WPForms allow you to create custom forms and surveys for your readers, making it easy to collect data or get feedback from your audience.
- SEO: plugins like Yoast SEO help you to optimize your website for search engines by providing tools and metrics to help you improve your content and rankings. They also help to monitor your website’s performance and provide feedback on how you can improve your SEO.
- Caching: plugins like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache help to speed up your website by caching your content, which can result in a significant performance increase.
- Security: plugins like iThemes Security or Sucuri Security help to protect your WordPress site from hackers and other threats.
8. Promote your blog
When you start a blog, one of the most important things you can do is to start promoting it. This includes spreading the word on social media announcing the launch of your blog, submitting your blog to directories and search engines (using Google Search Console to submit your sitemap), and reaching out to other bloggers and influencers to share or mention your content in their blogs.
You are ready!
Starting a blog can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and information at your disposal, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Google is your friend here! But most importantly, don’t be afraid to start promoting your blog as soon as it’s live – the more people who know about it, the more readers you’ll have!
Let me know if you have tips that could be useful for anyone starting!