WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL. WordPress is most often used as a blogging tool or for creating an online presence that includes microblogging, forums, e commerce and other social media applications. WordPress was first released in 2003.
Let’s get started setting up your free blog using WordPress.com. You’ll want to signup for a free WordPress account. Simply click here to go to the next step and register a new username and password, or you can use any existing email address or username that you have registered on the internet.
Setting up a WordPress blog with Bluehost (recommended)
Even if you’re just starting out, we strongly recommend going with the self-hosted version. Yes, there will be a higher learning curve and probably more work from your side, but having your own site that you get to control is priceless, and it definitely pays out to invest extra time into the management. You will be able to install any themes, plugins, and services that you wish, run ads, and monetize the blog the way you want. There are practically no limitations to a self-hosted WordPress blog.
Before you can install WordPress, you will need web hosting which can store all the files, manage your domain, and take care of your site.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we have chosen Bluehost which is a fantastic and popular hosting company that lets you start a WordPress blog for as little as $2.75 per month! With Bluehost, even the lowest-priced option gives you a Free domain, an SSL certificate that will make your site more secure, an option to install WordPress through a few clicks, and 24/7 support.
The section below explains how you can register with Bluehost and install WordPress using the ‘one-click install’ button.
Install WordPress & Configure Settings
As mentioned, all three hosting plans we recommend are fully compatible with WordPress and perfect if you want to start a blog. Once you’ve selected a plan you’ll need to install and setup WordPress for your website. Depending on your host installation of WordPress may vary a bit, but no matter which you choose your site should be live and ready for blogging in very little time.
- Bluehost features a fast one-click set-up when you signup. Simply log into your account, and select the “Install WordPress” option under website. From there you just follow the on screen prompts to select you domain name and create your WordPress admin login information. You can learn more about how to install WordPress with Bluehost in our guide.
- Flywheel comes with WordPress pre-installed and ready to go. Since Flywheel hosting plans only allow you to install one website per hosting plan you need to either add a domain (and create your WordPress admin logins) or migrate a website over with the Flywheel team’s help ( to get started.
- WP Engine is a managed WordPress hosting plan as well, so you don’t need to install WordPress. You will however still need to add a new domain or migrate your website (just login and go to Install > Site Migration if you want to move your website, then whether you’re moving a website or starting a new one go to Install > Domains to point over your domain). If you selected a Pro plan or higher with WP Engine you can install multiple websites on your hosting plan. To add a new site hover on Installs and click the Add option, then repeat the process of adding your domain.
- Other Hosts: If you’re using a different host, no problem! You can install WordPress on any host (you’ll just need to manually download and install WordPress).
Once you have WordPress installed and ready, your can head over to your URL to log into WordPress. There should be a link to your WordPress login from your hosting account (usually it goes to your-url.com/wp-login or wp-admin or something similar). Use the admin name or email and password that you created when setting up your information for your hosting account.
WordPress is highly customizable (in fact it is 100% customizable as it is open source software), but for the purposes of this guide I am referring to the settings accessed via your WordPress dashboard. If you hover over the Settings Menu item in your sidebar you will see a number of options.
It may look a bit of an overwhelming list but it doesn’t have to be – there are only a few main settings on these pages that you need to concern yourself with at this stage. Let’s go through each in turn.
General WordPress Settings
On this page the most important settings are the fields to enter your Site Title & Tagline. You can come back and change them at any time, but it is a good to have an idea of what you want to use for these from the beginning for consistent branding. The Title will probably just be your site name, brand or your name (if it’s a personal blog), so that’s easy. For your Tagline think about what your wanted to start a blog in the first place. It should describe what your blog is about. You can also change the date and time format from this page if you so wish.
Writing WordPress Settings
In this section you can set a Default Post Category & Post Type for your articles. Seeing as you haven’t started blogging yet, this is a section you can return to at a later date. It’s not a crucial step though it can help speed up the blogging process by a couple seconds if your edit the defaults to your liking.
Reading WordPress Settings
From the reading tab you’ll want to set what Your Homepage Displays. Based on the theme you’re using you may want to use your latest blog posts or a custom static page. Read more about how to set and edit your WordPress homepage in our guide.
Discussion WordPress Settings
This page contains all settings relating to comments on your site. At this time your main considerations should be as to whether or not you will allow people to post comments and if comments must be manually approved. There are other options you can skim through, though most default settings should work fine.
Media WordPress Settings
This is where you can find cropping options for the media (images) you add to your website. WordPress includes options for thumbnail, medium and large image cropping sizes. You can just leave these be or customize them if you want to use the pre-set sizes in your posts.
Permalinks WordPress Settings
Permalinks are what appear in the browser address bar when a visitor is on any given page on your site – it’s your url plus the unique page or post identifier. For example the permalink for this page is “get-started-wordpress-blogging”.
Select your hosting options
The 12-month package offers the basics at the lowest price. But you can also consider the other two options – after all, hosting is a long-term investment. You could always remove unnecessary features from your package in the initial stages of your blog launch and add them back later, whenever you feel the need.
Set your password
You’ll set your password after you’ve entered your payment information, as the final step in registering yourself with Bluehost. This same password will be used for verification purposes.
Plugins & Customizations
Once you have written your first sample blog post, you probably want to get started with adding other usual elements on your website such as contact forms, galleries, sliders, email list, forums, etc.
To add all these additional features, you need to use plugins.
WordPress plugins are apps that allow you to add new features to your website (without writing any code).
There are over 59,800 WordPress plugins available in the free WordPress plugin directory alone. This means no matter what you want to accomplish, there is a plugin for it.
We have a step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.
That being said, let’s take a look at how to use plugins to add some essential features to your WordPress blog.
Choose your WordPress theme
Now you’ll be given an option to choose a WordPress theme – pick one that suits your brand and represents your website in the best way.
If none of the displayed options work, visit WordPress’s repository to choose a theme from the choices shown there.
And this is it! You can now go to the WordPress login page and start working on your blog. That was easy, wasn’t it?
Pros of a self-hosted blog
We believe that the self-hosted version of a blog is a much better option than having a free account at WordPress.com. Although there are many pros to having your own site, here are just a few ones you should take into consideration.
Pros of WordPress.org blogs:
- Complete control of your blog
- Use any theme or plugin
- Monetize the blog anyway you want
When creating your blog, you will be given a few options. You will want to first use your name and an easy to remember domain name. The next two things you need are a username and an actual password. After this is complete, you can sign on to WordPress and get started blogging right away.
On this settings page you’ll be presented with a list of different permalink formats. By default WordPress is set to use the post id which isn’t very pretty. Instead we generally prefer and recommend the Post name option since it’s easy to use, is visually appealing and it’s an extra boost to your SEO (using your keyword in your slug is typically a good thing).
Note: Once you select a permalink structure and begin publishing posts you shouldn’t change it without some prep. Switching permalink structure without proper planning and execution can result in broken links and 404 errors on your website so please use caution and these tips on how to change your permalinks safely.