We’ll show you every single step you need to take to start a blog using self-hosted WordPress. And we’ll do it with tons of screenshots and beginner-friendly instructions. Start a blog today!
How to create a blog: what you’ll need
If you want to create a blog, here’s entire process step-by-step:
- Sign up for web hosting (we recommend Bluehost).
- Pick a domain name for your blog.
- Install free WordPress blog software.
- Log in and write your first blog post.
- Change your blog design by picking a theme.
- Install a couple of essential plugins.
- Don’t forget marketing
We’re going to cover each of these steps in detail below, but for now, what you need to know is that neither of these steps requires in-depth technical knowledge. Yes, you really can figure out how to set up a blog on your own!
Once you get your free WordPress blog up and running, you’ll probably want to start writing and likely tweak its appearance/functionality (e.g. completely changing your header or revamp your homepage). To help you do that, we’ll also show you how to:
- Write your first blog post using the WordPress editor
- Change how your free WordPress blog looks using a “theme”
- Add functionality to your blog using tools called “plugins”
As long as you know how to use social media sites, like Facebook or Tumblr, and have an overall confidence when it comes to “web stuff,” you can follow this guide. We promise!
A quick note
This guide is not about using WordPress.com. Instead, we’ll show you how to start your own blog using self-hosted WordPress so that you’re in full control. This is our recommended approach. If you’re not sure what the difference is, you can read this post for more on the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org/self-hosted WordPress.
Step 1: Purchase hosting and your domain name
You’ve already decided on your blog niche? Great, then making your free WordPress blog accessible to people around the world or ready for search engine optimization requires two things:
- Hosting – this is the engine that powers your site. While you don’t “see it,” every single website on the internet has a hosting provider powering it.
- Domain – this is your blog’s permanent address. For example, ours is
themeisle.com. Check out this post if you need help coming up with a good name and finding out how custom domains work.
You can purchase your blog hosting and domain at the same time – so don’t worry too much about the nitty-gritty details right now. But before you can do that, you need to choose a WordPress host. Because of WordPress’ popularity, there are a huge number of WordPress hosts.
We’ve personally tested the performance and reliability of many hosting companies. With the results of all these experiments in mind, we can recommend Bluehost to new bloggers in the WordPress world.
- It’s affordable. You can host your site for the price of a small latte each month – it’s just $2.75 per month for your first 12 months.
- You get a free domain name when you sign up. This ties in with affordability – your own domain would otherwise cost $10+.
- You can easily install WordPress. With just a few clicks, you can launch the WordPress software and have a working blog. No tech knowledge needed!
- It has enough performance to get you started. When you’re just starting out, Bluehost offers plenty of performance to keep your site loading.
All in, it will cost you about $33 to host your blog at Bluehost for the entire year, which includes your free domain name. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Check if your domain is available
Here’s a quick tool you can use to find out if the exact domain name you’re interested in is available:
That’s about as cheap as it’s going to get if you want to create a WordPress blog.
How to sign up for WordPress hosting at Bluehost
To get started, click here to go to Bluehost and unlock their special offer for Themeisle users ($2.75/mo). Then click on “Get Started Now” button. You’ll be taken to Bluehost plans.
For beginners, we recommend the cheap Basic plan because it packs plenty of power for your fledgling blog. Click the SELECT button to start the process:
On the next screen, enter the domain name you want to use for your blog in the new domain box and click Next. Your blog name should truly reflect the scope of your interest and be pretty straightforward. If you are not quite sure about it, Bluehost has a FAQ dedicated to the topic. Remember – you get this for free:
One click and you land on the final screen, where you’ll need to enter basic account and billing details at the top:
As you scroll down, you’ll see a Package Information section at the bottom. Here, you can choose how many years of hosting service to purchase, as well as any add-ons that you want. While Bluehost will check some of these add-ons by default, you can safely de-select them:
All in, you should pay around ~$35 for your domain name and one year of a hosting plan.
Once you’ve filled in all the information, click SUBMIT at the bottom to complete your purchase.
All right! Now, you can install all you need for your new blogging platform.
Step 2: Install the free WordPress software
If you want to create a WordPress blog, you’re going to, unsurprisingly, need to install the WordPress software.
We know this might sound a little intimidating – but we think you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to install WordPress.
When you completed the sign-up process in the previous step, you should have received an email from Bluehost with details on how to log in to the Bluehost Customer Area.
Go ahead and log in to Bluehost.
As soon as you log in for the first time, Bluehost will give you a simple wizard that takes you through the process of installing WordPress on your new site.
Don’t see the setup wizard? No worries, it’s still really easy to install WordPress with Bluehost. Just go to the My Sites area and click the Create Site button to launch the wizard:
Then, you’ll be able to fill in all the important details for your site’s name and the username/password that you’ll use to manage your WordPress blog:
Once you finish the install process, you can access your new blog’s dashboard by going to
Step 3: Go ahead and write your first blog post – you earned it!
Now that you learned how to create a WordPress blog, you’re probably excited to get to blogging!
We’ll show you how to change how your blog looks and functions in a second. But first, let’s go over just how easy it is to start blogging on your new website.
When you first log in to your blog’s WordPress dashboard, you should see a screen like this:
To write a blog post:
- Hover over Posts
- Click Add New
This will launch the WordPress Editor, which lets you write your blog posts using a really intuitive block system.
To add text, you just click and type. For other content – like an image or an embedded YouTube video, you can add new “blocks.” To help you use the editor, you can follow our detailed guide here or our more high-level guide here.
Step 4: Here’s how to change how your blog looks
When you create a WordPress blog, one of the major benefits that you get is access to WordPress’ huge collection of themes and plugins. Here’s a quick overview of the two:
Themes – these change how your free WordPress blog looks
Plugins – these add functionality to your blog
We’ll cover the former in this section.
As soon as you create a WordPress blog, you already have a theme active. This is either the default WordPress theme or the theme that you chose during the Bluehost Setup Wizard.
But there are actually thousands of blog themes available for WordPress sites (many of them are open source like WordPress itself), so you’re by no means limited to that small selection that Bluehost shows you initially.
Where to find WordPress themes for your blog
When you go to choose a WordPress theme, you’ll need to pick between free and premium themes. There’s no inherent difference between the two, but premium themes often have more detailed designs and features.
To find free themes, the best place to search is the official WordPress.org theme directory.
To find premium themes, you’ll need a broader approach. Some good options are:
ThemeForest – a big directory of premium themes.
ThemeIsle – we think our themes are pretty swell.
If you want to skip the searching, we also put together a list of the most popular and best free WordPress themes.
How to install a WordPress theme
Once you’ve found a theme that you love, WordPress makes it easy to add that theme to your site.
- Hover over Appearance
- Select Themes
- Click the Add New button
- If you chose a free theme at WordPress.org, search for the theme by name and click Install.
- If you purchased a premium theme, click the Upload Theme button and upload the ZIP file you should have received when you purchased the theme.
After installing your theme, make sure to click the Activate button to make it active on your site.
How to further customize your WordPress theme
You can treat your theme as a sort of template and further customize it by using the WordPress Customizer (which is something resembling a website builder). This interface lets you make certain tweaks to your theme to improve your web design, without needing to know code or HTML.
You can access it by going to Appearance → Customize:
Depending on the theme that you chose, you may have a different set of options on the left sidebar. But in general, you can:
- Make changes by using the options on the left
- See a real-time preview on the website preview on the right
- Make your changes live by clicking Save & Publish
For a more detailed guide, we have a full post on how to use the WordPress Customizer.
Step 5: Here’s how to add functionality to your blog
While themes are mostly about appearances, plugins are more focused on helping you add functionality to your free WordPress blog.
When you first create a WordPress blog, you pretty much only have the ability to write blog posts and create pages.
Plugins are what allow you to add more advanced functionality, like:
If you can think of a feature, there’s probably a plugin for it. That’s because the WordPress community offers over 50,000 free plugins, plus there are thousands of premium plugins.
Where to find WordPress plugins for your blog
Like themes, you can find both free and premium plugins.
Keeping the similarities rolling, the best place to look for free plugins is at the official WordPress.org plugin directory.
For premium plugins, the best method is usually to search Google for something like “best X plugin” and buy from a well-known developer.
Many free plugins listed at WordPress.org also offer premium versions with more features.
Must-have WordPress plugins for all sites
While there are plenty of niche plugins that are only good for specific uses, there are some must-have WordPress plugins that all sites, including blogs, can benefit from. Here are some of our suggestions:
- UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin
- Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
- WP Super Cache
- Yoast SEO
- Wordfence Security
- Jetpack by WordPress.com
How to install WordPress plugins
We already wrote a detailed guide on how to install WordPress plugins. But here’s the quick version:
- Go to Plugins → Add New
- If you chose a free plugin at WordPress.org, search for the plugin by name and click Install Now.
- If you purchased a premium plugin, click the Upload Plugin button and upload the ZIP file you should have received when you purchased the plugin.
Make sure to Activate the plugin after installing it.
You can always manage your existing plugins by going to the Plugins tab:
Video version of this tutorial
Here’s a video walk-through of the steps required to build a blog on WordPress. You can treat it as a summary of what’s been said above.
What to do after you create a WordPress blog
Ok, so you managed to create a WordPress blog, install your own theme, and add some functionality with plugins.
Of course, you should also know that there are other options to create a blog on the market, like Wix or Squarespace, but these are either less flexible than WordPress or come at a certain price, making WordPress a perfect start for newbies.
Well, the world is your oyster! But if you’re like most people, you’ll probably want to look for ways to:
And if you’re a beginner, you might be interested in the 45 things our team of bloggers wish they knew before starting a good blog. You can read all of these blogging tips here.
You’ll probably also want to create a blog content strategy and figure out how to come up with new blog post ideas. If you’re not interested in running a personal blog sharing random thoughts, then filling your site with high-quality blog topics and doing keyword research is one of the most important tasks of a full-time pro blogger.
Once your site allows you for making money blogging, you can even create your own newsletter and cut your teeth on email marketing, gathering email lists, or start forums to engage your audience even more. A great blog is also a perfect addition to selling products (even when done via ecommerce marketplaces, like Amazon or eBay).
At this stage, you’re already equipped with everything you need, so get out there, put some hard work into new content, and turn your new WordPress site into a successful blog!
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