How to make a WordPress Blog
Updated 3rd Jult 2017
Do you want to make a website or blog with WordPress, but think it looks too complicated, or you don’t know where to start?
Are you unsure about how to do all the things like registering a domain, setting up WordPress, and getting your site up and running?
It’s really not that difficult, in fact you’ll be pleased to know you can do it all in about 10 minutes.
I’m going to show you exactly what to do, step-by-step, and even if you take it slowly, you will have your own WordPress website setup and live within the next hour.
Click here to start your WordPress blog (opens in another window), and then follow the tutorial below.
We’ll have you up and running in about 10 minutes!
Why use WordPress to make a website?
WordPress powers 23% of the websites in the world — over 60 million of them. Although it started out as blogging software, the huge variety of Themes and Plugins available now make it the first choice for creating many non-blog sites as well.
One of the main benefits is the ease of setting up and managing even big and complex websites yourself, without having to hire web designers to do it for you (and paying them every time you make a change!). It may appear a bit intimidating at first, but it’s actually really easy to create a website with WordPress.
This guide will show you how to make a WordPress website step by step in about 10 minutes or less.
What you will learn in this article
You’ll learn how to make a WordPress website from scratch — yes that’s right, starting with nothing.
I’m going to take you through the whole process of registering a Domain Name, setting up Hosting for your Website, installing WordPress, adding the Plugins you need to get started, and choosing a Theme which determines the appearance of your website.
The whole point of this guide is to be very quick and easy, so I’m not going to waste time with detailed explanations. I’ll just tell you what to do and how to do it. We’ve only got 10 minutes after all! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or just ask me.
Hosting your WordPress Blog
There are a million places you can host your WordPress site, with to be honest, not a huge amount to choose between them — you just have to pick one and get on with it.
I’ve chosen Bluehost for this guide. They are one of the biggest, they have good support, they have got a great deal if you’re just starting out, and they give you a free domain when you take out hosting with them.
Hosting with Bluehost starts at $3.95 per month if you signup for 3 years — about as cheap as you can get with this sort of service. You can signup for a shorter term if you want, but there is a full 30 day money-back guarantee, and if you cancel after this period, you get a pro-rata refund for the time you’ve had so you may as well opt for the better rate. It’s very cheap and you’re then sorted for the next 3 years.
So click on this link now and you’ll be taken to the Bluehost site where you can signup for your hosting. It will open in a new window, keep it open next to this one so you can follow through these instructions.
Click on the green ‘Get Started’ button and you’ll be taken to this screen where you select your plan:
You only need the Starter Plan so select that.
You will be offered lots of additional options and Upsells as you go through the signup process. It’s up to you, but you don’t need any of them! Just take the basic plan and ignore all the add-ons you are offered. You can always add them later if you want.
Now you will be asked to enter your Domain Name for this site if you have one, or you can register a new one now if you don’t.
This is where you get your FREE Domain Name. Just enter your chosen name into the box, and Bluehost will check it’s available and register it for you if it is. If it’s not available (eg already taken) it will suggest some alternatives and let you try again with a different name.
[Note: I’m stopping the 10 minute clock if you have to go back and forth choosing a name! Restart it when you’ve got your name.]
Installing WordPress on your new website
Once you’ve completed this form and chosen your password, you’ll be taken to this screen:
[Note: it may take a few minutes for your account and password to be setup. If you get an error message, just wait 5 minutes and try again.]
Click the ‘Install WordPress‘ button circled in red above.
You will then be offered another upsell where you can pay them to do it for you. Don’t choose this, it’s so easy to do it yourself!
Just click the green ‘Install‘ button.
It will then ask you to select which domain you want WordPress to be installed into. It should have your domain that you just chose selected already.
Don’t put anything in the ‘/directory’ box after the domain, just leave this blank.
Then click the green ‘Check Domain‘ button.
Tick the ‘Show advanced options’ button and the following screen will appear:
Choose a name for your site, an admin username, and a password.
Keep a careful note of the admin username and password that you choose! You will need these every time you add new content or make a change to the site.
Click the green ‘Install Now‘ button and your new WordPress site will be created. It’s as simple as that!
You will now get an email from Mojo Marketplace containing a link to the admin URL for your site. This will just be your domain, with ‘/wp-admin’ appended to it, eg. ‘www.yournewsite.com/wp-admin’.
Go to this URL, either by clicking on the link in the email, or just typing it into your browser.
Once you’ve logged-in using the Admin Username and Password you chose above, you will be taken to your WordPress dashboard.
Choose a Theme for your WordPress site
The first thing we are going to do is to select the Theme for your site. A Theme is a predesigned layout for your site that controls how it looks and works. Some are free, and some are paid-for (so called ‘Premium Themes‘). Most premium themes don’t cost a lot of money, and if you can find one that does exactly what you want you can save a huge amount of time. However you don’t have to have a premium theme, there are some very good themes available for free. In fact many of the most popular themes are free. It’s just a question of finding one that suits your needs.
There are thousands of ready-made themes available, covering every type of website under the sun. There are specialist themes for things like Recruitment, Real Estate, Florists, Photographers, Agencies, Shops, amongst many others, and lots of general themes that can be adapted to any purpose. Choosing the right theme for your site is quite a major task and it’s outside the scope of this 10 minute guide, which just covers the initial setup, so we’re just going to choose a simple theme to get you started.
WordPress comes with a few free themes already installed. We are just going to use one of those for now. You can change it later once you’ve found your way around WordPress a bit and also found a Theme that you like.
In the Dashboard, go down to ‘Appearance‘ in the menu on the left hand side, and choose ‘Themes‘. You should then see something like this:
Choose (for now) the Twenty Fifteen theme. Just hover over it and click ‘Activate’.
Your website will now change to reflect the Twenty Fifteen appearance, which is a very simple clean design.
All WordPress installations come with one post already in place, this is called the “Hello World” post. It’s just a dummy post so that your website has some content in it to begin with. You will delete it as soon as you start adding your real content.
If you visit your website now, you will see the homepage, complete with that first post.
It should look something like this:
Don’t worry that this looks nothing like your vision of your completed website — it’s not supposed to yet!
You can see the basics are in place — you have a home page which is displaying your latest post or article, the name of the site and and a strapline, and some menu options which allow people to find their way around.
Remember this site has no content yet, apart from the very basic ‘Hello World’ post so there isn’t much to see. And the appearance of the site will change totally when you choose a different theme. Have a little play around and switch to some of the other standard themes to see how the appearance changes.
As I said earlier, choosing the proper theme for your site is a fairly major undertaking and outside the scope of this guide, but I’ll give you some pointers on this later. Before you get carried away with choosing themes, and obessing over design, there is another thing we need to cover as part of our setup process — installing Plugins.
Essential WordPress Plugins
Plugins add additional functions to your WordPress site, that may be considered optional, or specific to individual needs. Just like Themes, there are thousands of them!
There are a few core Plugins that I consider essential to pretty much every site, and that I think you should install on your site before you go much further.
Wordfence Security is a free enterprise class security and performance plugin that makes your site more secure.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
Improve your WordPress SEO (Free): Write better content and have a fully optimized WordPress site for the best SEO.
WP Super Cache
A free plugin to speed up your WordPress Site.
UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration
A free plugin to automatically backup your WordPress site.
There will no doubt be others that you will want to add, but this is my core starter set.
I’ll just show you how to install one — the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. The installation process is straightforward and the same for all of them. They all do different things so they work in different ways once you have installed them, but they all come with documentation that explains how to setup and use them. There is no need to go into the ins and outs of them all at this stage, just install them for now and play with them later.
Installing the Yoast SEO Plugin
Go down the menu on the left hand side of the Dashboard until you come to ‘Plugins‘ and select ‘Add New‘.
In the ‘Search Plugins‘ box at the top right of the screen that subsequently appears, type in the name of the Plugin exactly as it appears in the list above, in this case ‘WordPress SEO by Yoast‘ and hit enter.
The Plugin should now appear, just click ‘Install Now‘, follow the instructions, click ‘Activate Plugin‘ and you’re done.
Repeat the process with the other plugins.
You now have a functioning WordPress installation, with a Theme installed and a basic set of Plugins.
That’s the job of this guide completed, but obviously you have a fair bit to do now. The next section will give you some pointers on how to proceed from here and turn your basic WordPress website into the finished article.
Next Steps in creating your WordPress Website
When it comes to planning a website, most people turn first to the graphic design, appearance, and layout of the site. That’s not the right way to do it (read this article on how to plan a website the right way), but it is a normal human tendency to focus on the visual first. Resist this temptation, and make sure you follow the principles outlined in the article, before you start thinking about how it’s going to look.
Assuming you have already planned your content, defined your audience, and worked out the structure of your site, then the next thing to look at will indeed be the Theme, which governs how your new site will look and work.
As mentioned previously there are thousands, even tens of thousands, of ready made WordPress Themes. If you’re lucky, you’ll find one that does exactly what you want and you can just install it and go. If you’re very lucky, you’ll find a free one that does what you want, otherwise you might have to spend a small amount of money (typically $20 — $100) to buy a Premium Theme.
Given that WordPress itself is free, that’s not much money to spend on building a website! Imagine what you would get for that amount of money if you commissioned a web designer to build you a site from scratch…
So how do you go about finding a theme?
You’ll find thousands of very good themes on all of these, in fact there is probably too much choice (you can see my personal recommendations for the best WordPress themes here).
Where to find free WordPress themes
A good starting point for finding free themes, is our old friend Google.
Try a Google search using queries such as:
“free wordpress theme”
“wordpress themes for florists”
“free wordpress theme for antique shop”
Or whatever is most appropriate for your needs.
Don’t discount free themes — there are some very good ones, but sometimes it’s worth paying for a theme that does exactly what you want if you can’t find a free one. I probably use free themes 50% of the time, and the other half I buy premium themes.
A really good free theme that I use myself sometimes is Sparkling, you can get this for free here. It’s a nice simple, clean design (fully responsive), that you can setup and use within minutes. You can just use it straight out of the box without getting bogged down in graphic design and other timewasting activities!
The best premium WordPress themes
Although some of the free themes are very good, they will only take you so far.
Ultimately, you will want a website or blog with the best usability, the best functionality, the best SEO, the best performance, and the best appearance…
For that you will need a premium theme, that you will have to pay for.
Don’t be alarmed at the thought of paying for a theme!
The costs are actually very low compared with the thousands of hours of development that have gone into the top themes (and compared with the time you would spend yourslef trying to wrestle a free theme into doing what you want).
There are two specific premium themes that I would recommend, depending upon your needs and skills.
For heavyweight blog websites, I would recommend Genesis Theme from StudioPress (it’s what this site is built with).
It’s very powerful, fast, great for SEO, and it can be customised extensively.
BUT, it does require some coding/CSS skills to get the best out of it.
If you want to create beautiful, responsive websites WITHOUT any coding skills, I would recommend Divi theme from Elegant Themes.
Divi lets you create gorgous looking pages using a simple drag and drop interface and ready-made content elements.
It’s incredibly easy to use, and you can put whatever you want on the page — your website doesn’t have to look like a blog any more!
So Divi is ideal for non-techy people who want to produce a great looking site, and especially for people who want a website that isn’t a blog.
I wrote up these recommendations in more detail in this article: timfelmingham.com/which-wordpress-theme/
Once you’ve found a Theme, you now have to learn the how to work WordPress itself. You need to learn how to create Posts and Pages (the basic content of your site), how to organise your content by category and tags, and how to setup your navigation menus etc.
I have to warn you, there is quite a lot to learn. It’s not difficult, but there is quite a lot of it, and you will need to allow quite a few hours and maybe even a few days to get the hang of it at first. Over time it will all become easier and you’ll get better at it, but be prepared to invest quite a bit of time at the beginning getting to grips with it.
The best way to learn WordPress
If you want a quick and easy way to learn WordPress, instead of struggling away for ages trying to figure it out yourself, then an online course is your best solution.
You can learn at your own pace, and most people find video based learning both more enjoyable, and more effective, than classroom courses, or reading books.
There are lots of online WordPress courses available, but beware — the quality varies widely! Chris and Jude Wharton have just launched a new course called Success With WordPress, which will take you gently by the hand and lead you through the whole process of setting up and using your WordPress site.
Chris is an experienced WordPress developer who has built lots of sites for clients, and also developed 40 different WordPress Themes, so he really knows what he’s talking about.
As Chris says: “This isn’t just another WordPress course. This course is focused around you and your business and what you need for your WordPress website. We take you through a process which will help you define you or your brand, work out your website layout and structure and bring you true success from your WordPress website. A process that would cost you thousands if you employed a traditional web agency or consultancy.”
You can see a preview of the course here.
Summary: How to create a WordPress site in 10 minutes
- Pick a Domain Name and setup your Hosting
- Install WordPress
- Select a Theme
- Install essential plugins
To get started now, just click this link to go to Bluehost and get your free domain name and hosting.
That will open a new window, just move it to the side and have it next to this one then you can follow these instructions step by step.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact me and ask me personally, I’ll do my best to help.
This post contains some affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure to see why.