Start Your Own WordPress Blog
An easy step-by-step guide for the absolute beginner
Do you want to learn how to start your own WordPress blog like our Tales From the Dad Side blog, but have questions? I know that starting a blog is a little scary especially when you have no technical background and don’t know the first thing about coding! Well, don’t worry because you are not the first person that has been in this situation. Heck, I was there too! That’s why I have decided to create this guide to help answer as many questions and provide as much information as I can about how to start your own WordPress blog.
Whether you are a beginning blogger or already have a WordPress.com blog started, I will show you how to start your own WordPress blog using a hosted WordPress website, along with all the components you will need to consider to have your site running the best you can!
What this guide will not cover in depth is how to pick a niche. There are a ton of great articles out there on how to pick a niche to blog about. Also, this guide will not cover how to sign up for affiliate programs or any sort of instruction on how to make money from your site in great detail. However, we will touch on all of these subjects lightly.
Finally, I want to express that this guide only covers WordPress. There are a ton of other Content Management Systems (CMS) that you can use, but this guide only talks about WordPress.
Please Note: this is not a short guide as there are a TON of components that are involved when you start your own WordPress blog. I also want to inform you that there are affiliate links throughout this guide. If you are not familiar with what affiliate links are, read through this guide and I will explain. So let’s get started. Yes?
Who Is this Guide For?
When I first started out, I had no idea where to start, so I created this guide for the absolute beginner who has ideas and wants to express them through a blog of their own, but does not know where to start. This is a comprehensive guide that will walk you through all the parts needed to not only install your WordPress website, but also will expand past and help provide ideas on how to possibly monetize from it too.
Since hand-coding a website takes skill and can be very time consuming, using a CMS platform is a great way to get things rolling quickly. See… I have helped many others to design and build their websites and finally decided to create a guide that will help other people like you to understand where to start. However, there are so many choices of CMS platforms, which one do I use to teach about? Which is the best and which will work well for everyone from beginners to advanced level users? Using past experience and a bit of research, I have found that WordPress was the right choice.
So why choose WordPress as a platform to teach about? It is easy to install and use, and is customizable to meet your needs. Plus, according to w3techs.com, WordPress is used by 28.0% of all websites, which means it is used by 59% of all people that use a CMS platform!
(CMS or a “Content Management System” is defined as a software application or set of related programs that are used to create and manage digital content. Simply put, its a program that will create, store, and manage your content for you.)
Start Your Own WordPress Blog
WordPress.com or WordPress.org? What to Use and What’s the Difference?
There are many people that may ask “I already have a WordPress.com website. Why do I need another?” While this may be true, there are some major differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org websites. Let’s start by covering WordPress.com.
When you want to start your own WordPress blog, there are major differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org websites. The main difference is the people that are storing your blog’s files. With a WordPress.com website, WordPress will take care of hosting your files for you. You do not need to worry about management of your web server, paying for a domain name, or the hosting, and there is no installation necessary. This sounds great! However, there are drawbacks, which I will explain in a minute.
WordPress.org websites, on the contrary, are websites that you will need to work more at to get started and the cost is greater. So why decide to choose a WordPress.org website when WordPress.com is free? This does not make any sense! Well… don’t forget the saying “You get What You Pay For.” Let me explain.
As stated, and as you may already know, WordPress.com is great for many when you want to start your own WordPress blog and are just starting to blog. There are other times that a free WordPress.com account would be great. For example, I had a relative create a free account as they were traveling around the USA for two months on and off. Creating this account was a great way to document all the places they have been along with posting pictures and different events they attended while at a certain location.
As you can see, this is a great way to use the free account. They are not promoting anything and do not really care about the theme they use or much of anything else, because they are posting for fun. This works for what they want. They are not a business and do not need to have all the bells and whistles.
Some of the other pros of having a WordPress.com account:
- It’s Free – Domain Name and Hosting do not cost anything
- Easy to Use – You do not need any technical skills to create a free account and start posting. It’s easy to choose a theme, upload pictures, and change the color and logos.
- Secure and Reliable – Since these accounts are hosted with the WordPress.com servers, the servers are spread across a slew of data centers to help with speed. Also, the security issues are always kept up for you.
- Allows Mobile Posting
- Quite Limited Control – As a customer with this service level, you have limited control over your website. For example, you will not be able to add any ads to monetize the site. You cannot add any code like Google AdSense or other affiliate code to show ads. On the other hand, WordPress will show their ads instead.
- Limited Customization Control – You are limited to what you can do to the theme, plugins and domain name you want to use.
- You cannot edit your domain. Your domain will default to YOUR_DOMAIN_NAME.wordPress.com. Due to this limitation as a website, with this type of name, it does not look very professional if you are using it for any type of business reasons.
- You cannot upload any custom themes or plugins – This could be a big issue for any business. It will limit you from accomplishing certain tasks.
- You will not be able to modify the code behind the look of your site – This is an issue for many that want to use this account for anything other than casual blogging. Imagine having a theme that you like, but the main logo is way too big and you want to adjust the size, or you want to change the font of the menu bar. Using this free account, you cannot do this.
- Limited Performance – Since WordPress is like every other business, they are trying to make money by persuading you to purchase their upgrades. By limiting your performance, you will need to pay for upgrade fees to boost your performance.
Note: The above limited options can be upgraded to fix the limits. However, the price comparison for the upgraded options compared to hosting your own instance of a WordPress blog can be much more expensive. Here is a quick price comparison from WordPress.com to WordPress.org websites:
Following Infographic based off of WordPress.com Pricing Page and base prices found from other vendors online
Just as with the pros and cons of WordPress.com, the WordPress.org option has its own pros and cons. However, if you want to start your own WordPress blog for anything other than for some casual blogging, I strongly suggest that you choose this type of WordPress site as there are a ton more options, and you have much greater control of your blog overall. Have a look:
- Domain Name – Unlike WordPress.com, with WordPress.org, you can select any domain name you want as long as the name is available. From a business standpoint, this is a must! Imagine having a website like talesfromthedadside.wordpress.com. Holy smokes that is a long name! How about a brand like Nike? Nike.wordpress.com… I think you get the picture. Having a custom domain name is a must if you want to sound like a reputable business.
- The cost of a custom domain name with WordPress.org outweighs the price of a WordPress.com account too. The cost of a WordPress.com custom domain name will run you $18 if you register through them and $13 if you already have a domain name registered from elsewhere. These costs, even though not very much, are still quite a bit higher than what you can get a domain name from through other registrars (I will go through other registrars a bit later).
- Hosting – Hosting costs vary from one host to another. There are many different hosts that you can choose from. Each host has its own pricing and tier structure. I will go deeper into hosting later in this guide, but just know that generally, there are many options to choose from with web hosts and they are all basically competitive, so prices are similar.
- Disk Space / Storage – Disk space is the amount of storage that you will be able to have for your website. When first starting out, you will usually use a small amount of space. However, as time goes on, you will need to use more space for storage of images, PDFs, and other materials, which consumes space. When selecting a web host, you will usually be informed on how much storage or disk space each tier will allot. Most smaller tiers allow 50GB of disk space before you will need to upgrade.
- Ad Free Website – You will have the option to add your own advertisements from affiliates and such to make some cash off of your website if you choose. If you choose not to display ads, then you will have no ads at all unlike the WordPress.com ads that display.
- Customizations – With the ability to control your own website, you will be able to customize the way things look and work. This is generally accomplished through the customization of code like CSS and HTML/PHP, but can also be accomplished through plugins that will help with your specific need.
As with anything, there are always some cons to consider. This is the same for when you want to start your own WordPress blog using a WordPress.org website. Here are a few of the down sides to WordPress.org websites:
- Research – You need to do research for different web hosts. There are a slew of different hosts that offer different options and bonuses along with prices, speed, and bandwidth with each of their tiers. This takes time and some additional research if you do not know what some of the terms are.
- Learning Curve – Unlike WordPress.com where you just create an account, select a theme and start posting, WordPress.org sites will require a bigger learning curve. Due to having greater control, you are faced with more to handle. Like Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben stated: “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” This holds true with your own WordPress.org website.
- Maintenance and Security – To start your own WordPress blog using WordPress.org, there is maintenance and security upkeep involved. Don’t let this turn you off, as most of the security involves updating your theme and plugins, which is easy to do and usually only takes a minute or two.
Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
OK. So we have covered the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and the types of bloggers who should use each. Now, what about those that do not need to start their own WordPress blog because they have already started a blog in WordPress.com? They just want to migrate to their own website, but do not want to start over or go through a ton of copying and pasting. There is a solution for you as well! Plus, if you have subscribers, we can move them as well!
WordPress.com has a full guide on how to migrate your WordPress.com site to a self-hosted website located at https://move.wordpress.com/. The steps guide you through the basic steps needed to migrate. I will explain the whole process with greater detail, providing options along the way.
There are a number of steps that involve research and some navigation skills (figuring out where to go in the web hosts) to start your own WordPress blog on a new host. This process involves:
- Research for a web host that will not only fit what you need, but fit your wallet as well
- Moving your current WordPress.com blog to the new host
- Installing a theme in the new host
- Installing needed plugins
- Getting a domain name for your new website
- Moving your subscribers (if any) to the new host.
Ready to start? Let’s go!
Choosing a Web Host
There are many web hosts available to choose from. The host you choose is up to you. However, I am going to guide you through the process of where to start with some suggestions that I have learned.
Since there are so many hosts, I am going to talk about the top three that I suggest to start your own WordPress blog. These are suggested because of price, options, and reliability.
Siteground is a highly chosen web host ranked very high from a number of surveys given. They have been given high performance ratings and are geared toward WordPress sites. They have a few different options to choose from which you can find HERE
Bluehost boasts about their excellent uptime and easy-to-use website-building software. They also make it easy to create great looking pages for your business. You can see their shared hosting plans HERE
Temok also has a great uptime rating and a variety of features that are included with their plans. These guys are very friendly and prompt when working with their support teams. You can see their list of options HERE
Now that we have a few web hosts to compare, let’s look at what we need to look into when shopping for a web host, because each host offers different options.
One of the biggest reasons for shopping around is cost. Every host has different costs due to different options they offer. Each host has different coupons too! If you would like to save money, I suggest a free Chrome extension called Wikibuy which will search for coupons and discounts for you automatically and help you save. I have an article explaining this in further called Amazon May NOT Always Be The Answer! However, just as an example, by visiting BlueHost’s plan page, I was presented this:
Note: Wikibuy is currently only a Chrome extension and does not work on all websites, but has proven to work on a ton, even Amazon!
Now that I have helped show a way to save some money in hosting, let’s look at the cost of the hosts starting out and after the contract is complete. There will be a big difference in the costs afterwards!
Let’s start with SiteGround. At the time of this writing, they offer three different plans as seen below. However, notice the price above the orange sales price. If you are just starting out, the price looks great, but if only going with a plan for one year, be prepared to pay 60% more after that initial contract.
This is something that you need to be aware of when shopping. YOU DO NOT want to be bitten by this, and it is not always apparent that the price would go up so much. Therefore, you will end up paying a lot more than you want afterwards. I was bitten by that before! Well…. lesson learned…and I thought I could use my experience to inform you.
After price comparing, the next step would be to look into the options they offer. This part gets a bit trickier as the options may or may not include what you are after. However, common things to look for are:
- Domain Name Registrar (optional – You can go through another registrar (a nice option)) – Some hosting companies are also a registrar or work with a registrar to allow you to setup a domain name that will be used on their hosting, which helps cut down the number of places you need to go and makes configuration faster and easier. However, this could cost a bit more than if you do this on your own and go elsewhere. I’ll explain more in the next section.
- Disk space – Chances are, if you want to start your own WordPress blog and have never hosted it locally, your disk space usage will be very minimal. For an example, a new website can be a few hundred megabytes. Please note that this is a brand new website though. Your space needed WILL grow over time. You will use more space from modifying your website, adding plugins, and forms. Your database will also grow as you create more pages and posts, etc. If you are just starting out, a beginner plan that has 50GB should be more than enough. This will supply ample space for everything you need to host your website and add additional websites if desired (depending on your hosting plan).
- Bandwidth – Like Disk Space, bandwidth may not be too much of an issue starting out, but if your website grows, well then you will need to be cautious of your monthly bandwidth.
- Money-back Guarantees – Most hosts have some sort of money-back guarantee. Read the length and determine your options here. If you’re not satisfied, you will have the option to get your money back.
- Included SSL Certificates (especially good since Chrome version 56 displays sites that do not have SSL certificate as being non secure – Good article at https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2017/01/chrome-56-ssl-https-wordpress/) – This is not required. However, it is nice to have. If you have a host that will include a SSL certificate, this could be great to help save money for anyone starting out with a web store. People will feel safer with a verified certificate rather than an insecure store.
- Number of websites, databases, ftp accounts, email accounts, etc. – As mentioned in the Disk Space point, you will want to look for additional options like these as they may play a factor as you go.
- Website transfers – Some hosts offer free transfers, which will save you time and frustration of transferring your site over to them.
- Backups – In the event your site is not updated regularly and gets hacked or another issue happens, it’s always good to have backups! Most hosts offer some sort of backup. However, it may be every 30 days and if something were to happen, you will lose all the content that was added in the last 30 days. Having a host that offers more frequent backups may be the better way to go unless you plan on doing your own backups.
- Support – I believe that this point is a bit self explanatory. However, things to pay attention to are how you get support. Does the plan you are look at only allow email support or do they have phone and chat support as well?
- Any advertisement offers – Some hosts like Bluehost offer coupons toward advertisements with Google Ads and Bing Ads. Although these may not be enticing at first, think about the next 6 months. They may help to drive some traffic in to your website or to an offer you create to help make money from your site. It’s great to have free money to start this off with. Right?
These are the main areas to look at when shopping for a web host. Everyone will have their own needs and these are just a reference to the main areas that most hosts have and that you will want to look at for your website. Let’s move on to choosing a domain name.
Choosing a Domain Name
Now that you have the host that you would like to use, you will need to choose a domain name. Most web hosts also offer domain names. A domain name is simply a name that people use to find your website. For example, to get to my website, you type in talesfromthedadside.com, which is the domain name for my website. Without a domain name, you would need to enter an IP address which looks like 126.96.36.199. Now, imagine asking someone “What’s your website?” and they reply with a string of numbers. Pretty hard to remember, huh? Well, that is what domain name registrars do. They translate the IP address into a name to make it easier for people to remember. So, now where and how do I get a domain name? Well, you need to register the website name you want to use through a registrar. This is a pretty easy process other than trying to find a domain name to use (there are tons! Look at ICANN to see a huge list). Since there are so many websites in existence, it could be a bit tricky to find the one you want. I’ll explain…
There are many registrars to choose from when getting ready to start your own WordPress blog. However, the best ones I suggest are (these are all registrars and also offer hosting services as described earlier):
For demonstration purposes, I am going to walk you through setting up a domain name using NameCheap.com. They are my number one choice, and it is easy to find coupons on the internet for new domains and renewing domains too. I use them as the registrar, but not for hosting, which will require a small configuration in the NameCheap panel to point to the web host. This is a quick and painless change, which I will explain.
You will need to start the process by going to NameCheap.com where you will be brought to the NameCheap main page. In this page, there is a domain name searching tool. It looks like this:
This is where you will look for an available domain name to use like samandthejets.com (Sam and the Jets). You will be brought to a screen that informs you if the domain name is available or not along with other recommendations for extensions based on the search term. At the time of this writing, the domain is available and therefore looks like this
If the site were not available, there would be an “X” next to the domain name
So now we have a domain name that is available. Next, we add it to the cart and then view the cart. From here we can proceed in two ways:
- Check out and call it a day
- Search for coupons
After doing a REALLY QUICK search, I found a coupon that was 10% off bringing the price down from $10.69 to $9.66 with free WhoisGuard (hides your name against spam and uses the NameCheap name and address instead). Now we confirm the order where we are brought to the account screen. Here, you will need to create an account that you will use to manage the domain name for things like
- Assigning nameservers
- Renewing the domain name
If you choose to go through BlueHost, you can use the search tool below to find an available domain name. The process works relatively the same.
Using the ns1 and ns2 IP’s, we will place this into NameCheaps domain manager by clicking on “Domain List” tab on the left side menu and then click the “Manage” button for your domain name. In the next screen, you will see the nameserver section where you will need to make the change
You will need to change this by selecting the drop-down and selecting “Custom DNS.” In here, you will place the nameservers from your web host like below:
Now click the green check mark and wait for your domain to propagate correctly. Propagation is the process where the nameservers across the entire web are updated. The process usually is fairly quick, but can take up to 48 hours to complete. You can check the propagation process at sites like DNS Checker. It will show your nameservers IP address that you got from your web host.
Congratulations if you have made it this far! The next steps are not very difficult, but requires a little time to set everything up if doing manually. You can choose to use the WordPress installer that cPanel has located under “Softaculous,” which is an automatic script installer that does all the processes for you. Almost all hosts have this. However, if you choose to do things manually, here are the steps:
The first step to migrate your WordPress.com site over is to install WordPress on your new host. Here are the steps in cPanel:
- Download WordPress zip file to your desktop (http://wordpress.org/latest.zip) or at http://wordpress.org and click the “Download WordPress” button on the top right of the page.
- Log into your host.
- Click on File Manager.
- In the new window, navigate to your domain folder (usually something like public_html/YOUR_DOMAIN)
- Once inside your domain name folder, click the “Upload” button usually located at the top of the page.
- Find the file you just downloaded and click open. This will upload to the web host.
- After uploaded, go back to the file manager and select the file.
- Click the “Extract” button at the top.
- Verify your path (/public_html/YOUR_DOMAIN) and click OK.
- Go into the newly created wordpress folder and select all files.
- Click the “Move” button.
- Change the path to your root domain folder (/public_html/YOUR_DOMAIN) and press OK.
Now that WordPress is installed in the web host, we need to create a database for WordPress to connect to. We can now close this File Manager tab and go back to cPanel. In here, you will find a section called “Databases.” In this section, find “MySQL Databases” and click on it. Here is where you will name your database.
Pro tip: Use different characters in your database name to help make it harder for other people to brute force their way into your database (ex. host_mydatabase would equal something like – host_myd@t@bas3).
Create a name for your new database and click the “Create” button. Once the database is created, you will need to assign a user to the database. You can do this under the “Add User To Database” section. Simply select your user (most likely the only user in there) and the database name you just created and click the “Add” button. On the next screen, select “All Privileges” and click “Make Changes.” That’s it! You are ready to install WordPress completely now.
The next step to start your own WordPress blog is to go to your website in the browser (ex. http://YOUR_DOMAIN.com) and you will be presented with the WordPress setup screen.
Finally! You are able to migrate your content from your WordPress.com account to your new web host! This is an easy process.
This is where you will input the information from the database that you just created and a username and password of your own.
Note: You will be able to change the password later, but the username cannot be changed after its set. ALSO, it is advised to change the Table Prefix to something other than wp_.
Next screen will be the actual WordPress install screen
You will need to enter a Site Title (Ex. My Cool Website!), a password that you will use to access the WordPress back end, a valid email (best is to use an email account that has the same domain name as your website), and click the Search Engine Visibility checkbox (this helps prevent Google and Bing etc. from indexing your website until your ready). Now click Install! If all goes well, you should be presented with the following screen
Congratulations! You have just installed WordPress on your website! Now you can login and see the back end of WordPress.
OK. We have all the components to migrate! Let’s do it!
Here are the steps to migrate to your new website:
- Log into WordPress.com
- Export your data
- Install the WordPress Importer plugin
- Import data to your new web host
- Set redirects in WordPress.com
This is a short list, but let’s walk through the steps.
Exporting WordPress.com Data
You need to export your data from WordPress.com. To achieve this and start your own WordPress blog and navigate to “Settings” > “Export”
Then click the “Export All” button and download the file. Now you will need to import into your new website, so login to your website by entering your website into the browser followed by /wp-admin so it looks like http://YOUR_WEBSITE_ADDRESS/wp-admin. After logging in, you will need to navigate to the Import tool
You need to install the Importer tool next. This is easily done by
- Clicking on the “Install Now” link located under the tool.
- After the tool is installed, you can import by clicking the “Run Importer” link, which will prompt you to choose the file from WordPress.com that you exported.
- Unzip the file and then use the “Choose File” button in your back end to find the file.
- Click on the file and click “Open,” and finally click the blue “Upload File and import” button.
- Create a new author or assign posts to your current user. Check the box that says “Silly Little WordPress” and click “Submit.”
- That’s it!
Your new website will now have all your posts from your WordPress.com account. However, before we finish up, there is still one last optional thing that you may want to consider.
You may want to have your visitors redirected to your new website. Although this is not mandatory, if you have a good following of readers, they will always come back to your old WordPress.com site and not see any updates you have made on your new website unless they manually go to your new site. For this, I suggest getting a paid Add-on called “Site Redirect.” This add-on costs around $13 per year and is well worth it if you do not want to lose any organic traffic that you have built up with your old website. It provides 301 permanent redirects to redirect all traffic to your new website. This way, you do not lose any old traffic after migration.
Google and Bing Oh My!
Remember the part where I had you check the “Search Engine Visibility” checkbox to prevent Google, Bing, and other search engines from indexing your site before you were ready? Well, now you’re ready. Let’s navigate in your new website back end to Settings > Reading. At the bottom of that page you will see the checkbox checked. You will need to uncheck this, change any other settings in that page and click save. It would also be wise to edit the settings on the General page to meet up with your timezone, the date format you would like to use and Week Starts on day. Finally, you will want to edit the way your URLs look for your posts. You can change this in the Permalinks tab under settings. Simply choose the format you would like best and save the changes.
Some Do’s and Don’ts after migration from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
- You will not want to delete your WordPress.com website if you are using the redirect add-on.
- You will need to prevent search engines from indexing your WordPress.com site so they do not index both of your websites and find duplicated posts. This will negatively affect your ranking. To do this, navigate to Settings and scroll down to the “Privacy” section where you will see three options
- It will be a great idea to get the JetPack plugin on your new website for transferring the subscribers of your WordPress.com site to your new site. The plugin also has a bunch of other nice features.
Start Your Own WordPress blog Wrap Up
These are the steps needed to start your own WordPress blog or migrate a blog from WordPress.com to your own locally hosted website so you can customize and monetize your site the way you want. There are a lot of steps and research to be completed to achieve this result, but in the end, this is all worth it. Now if this whole process is not for you or you do not have the time to spend on doing all of this, we can help. We can get your domain name, hosting and set the whole website up for you so all you have to do is customize and start writing! Simply fill out the form below to get started!
Components to start your own WordPress blog
Now that you have learned how to start your own WordPress site and have it all up and going, you can start your own WordPress blog off right by customizing it to your needs. There are a bunch of areas that you can change to make this website your own, starting off with a theme. You can get a ton of great themes that are both free and paid all over the web. Getting the right one though, depends on your needs and your wallet. So, what should you look for in a theme? Here are the main areas that you should look into when getting a theme to start your own WordPress blog.
What to Look For In A Theme
When first starting to blog, most people are intrigued by themes with all the bells and whistles. However, after working with a theme like this for a while, you will soon see that there is a lot to handle and it can make your website seem cluttered. Cluttered or difficult to navigate websites turn people off. Then they go onto the next site on the list, therefore causing you to potentially lose income. The best themes to go with are nice and simple ones that you can customize to your needs and meet your overall goals of having the website.
A theme that is not responsive (doesn’t automatically adjust for viewing on a mobile platform) is not a choice any longer! Think about it. How often do you go onto the internet to research something on your phone? I know I do a LOT! There is nothing more irritating than trying to zoom in and out to see what your are trying to find in a non-responsive site or scrolling from side-to-side to read an article.
Compatibility With Plugins
Plugins become the bread and butter of your website. When picking a theme to start your own WordPress blog, you want to make sure that the theme you choose is compatible with most of the popular plugins. For a good list of popular plugins, please refer to ThemeGrill.com where they give the top 15 WordPress plugins and a description of each. A few examples are JetPack, Akismet, and Yoast SEO.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a big deal for anyone that wants to know how to start your own WordPress blog. If a theme looks good, it does not mean that the theme is coded well. It may be coded poorly and therefore will affect SEO friendliness for your website. You will need to make sure that the theme is reported to be SEO-friendly by the developer. This is a huge part of every theme and developers know this so they will make sure to announce this in their theme description.
How many times have you shopped around for something online and read customer reviews? Reviews are a great way to help determine whether the theme is good or not. There may be reviews stating that the theme is great or maybe it does not live up to one or more of the features it boasts. There may be reviews stating that there are bugs and the developer does not reply to these bugs.
Expanding on the term of “Bugs,” support is another major thing to look for. Although free themes may not offer support, paid themes will, and if there are reviews that are saying the support is not good, then it may not be a theme you should get. Usually, there are alternate themes that accomplish the same outcome as the theme you are looking at which has poor support. Do your comparative shopping!
Other Optional Areas to Look for in a Theme
This is where I think WordPress is great. When you find a theme that you like, you customize it to your liking and then there is an update, all your customizations get wiped out. How do you prevent this? With a child theme. A child theme is a copy of certain parts of the main theme. The child theme is then processed to overwrite the sections of the main theme. For example, if your main theme has default colors of blue and red, but you customize the child theme to have colors of gold and purple, when the theme has an update, your colors will remain, because the main theme is updated, but not the child theme.
Creating a child theme is outside the scope of how to start your own WordPress blog, but for information on how to create a child theme, refer to https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/how-to-create-wordpress-child-theme/, which has the steps needed to accomplish this.
When you are looking to start your own WordPress blog, plugins are a major part to look into. Plugins make it possible for you to do just about anything with your WordPress site. While looking into the popular WordPress blog plugins from the “Compatibility With Plugins” section above, you are going to want to consider adding some or all of these to your WordPress blog website.
Plugins come in a variety of flavors from SEO to printing a PDF and everywhere in between.
a. Free vs Paid
Free plugins are listed in the WordPress plugins repository and are growing every day. People write these plugins for a purpose and can be used by you too. These people write these plugins for various reasons. Some do it for fun while others do it to make their mark. Whatever the reason, these WordPress blog plugins are added to this repository all the time and is a great place to find something useful for your site.
Most of the time these WordPress blog plugins are offered free. However, many of them have a free and a paid version. A lot of times the free version may work, but there might be something that you need that the paid version only offers. This is something that you will want to pay close attention to, because adding paid plugins to your site can end up being costly. Many times there are other WordPress blog plugins that are free and that will accomplish what your after, but you will need to hunt them down.
Finally, most paid WordPress blog plugins are updated regularly compared to free ones. This is also something to pay attention to. The “Last Updated” label is in every plugin description.
Coding is not a required skill for WordPress. However, knowing at least light HTML and CSS are great skills to learn as it will provide you the ability to expand the customizations of your WordPress blog. Such customizations can include adding a Call to Action button (explained in Monetization section below) on every page or a subscription form on every post. Many times there are plugins that can assist in this, but knowing this skill can prevent the need for plugins and therefore allowing you to save on a bit more maintenance (plugin updates).
Customizations are also a big part of having a child theme as explained earlier. Knowing some coding can assist in the child theme customizations since a child theme is really nothing more than customizations.
Now you have a great looking WordPress blog, but what about your content? Writing content for your pages and posts is crucial. Below are some areas that are needed to write great content and the pieces that are needed before and after your content is written.
You do not need to be a master at any certain topic to become an authority figure. You do however, need to research that topic.
Keeping Themes and plugins up to date – Give info of how outdated themes and plugins are the biggest part of compromised sites and provide stats of how many sites are compromised due to outdated themes and plugins.
How to Make Money With Your Website
Making Money with your site
There are many different ways you can make money using your WordPress blog. The way you choose will depend on the work you are willing to commit to. I am not going to lie to you. Monetizing from your WordPress blog is not always the easiest. People will make it look easy, but it’s not! It can be done and once things are all in place, the job becomes easier. Yes. I said “Job” because blogging and monetization is a job! It requires work to set everything up and then to keep it all going so you continue to make money from your site. However, don’t become discouraged. When that money starts to come in, you will not think its all that bad anymore! So what are some of the ways that you can make money from your WordPress blog?
Promoting Your Site
Now you know ways you can make money from your WordPress blog, but how do you reach people so that they know about you? I mean, you can have the greatest site ever, but without anyone coming to it, you will NEVER make any money! You need to promote your site!
Promoting your website can be a lot of fun! There are a bunch of ways that you can promote your WordPress blog from paid advertising to social networks. Let’s discover a few ways that you can promote your site. These are not full fledged explanations on how to do the promoting. Rather, these are a few ways that you can research and learn where to look.
Everyone knows Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. These are a few of the heavy hitters that you can advertise on and drive traffic to your WordPress blog. Once you get the traffic to your site, you need to engage the reader so they become a subscriber or purchase something from you. For example, using Pinterest (one of my favorites), you can have a Top 10 projects with your kids article that explains great project that you and your kids love. You need to get people reading it so you create a pin that gives a great image and explanation of the article. People look at this pin and then when they click on it, they are directed to your article, therefore creating traffic for your website. The same basic process works for the other social networks as well.
Using social networks are just one way to help bring traffic to your site. Although this way is free, it can take time to generate traffic and is time consuming to post to many different social platforms. However, once you get into a schedule, you can be doing this regularly. Also, there are programs on the net that can assist you with this process.
Paid Traffic from Google and Bing
Another form of driving traffic to your site is by using paid advertising like Google, Bing, and Facebook ads. These all work relatively the same way. You choose what short amount of words you want to say, the type of people you are trying to reach, your pictures and everything else that is needed to explain your article or product and then that platform reaches out to people using the specified choices. For example, with Facebook, you can direct a fidget spinner ad towards men that are between ages 25 and 35 that live in Illinois etc. Next, you set a budget that you want to use, and Facebook will distribute these ads to the relevant people that meet your criteria. When people click on your ad, Facebook will charge a certain amount for the click and direct the traffic to your product or article.
As you can see, these ways can be very useful to start bringing traffic into your WordPress blog. However, paid advertising can add up quickly, so make sure you do your research on the best ways to have a paid advertisement and set a plan before you just dive in.
OK. So now you know how to start your own WordPress blog, the components for your WordPress blog, and how to promote and advertise, but how to keep people interested and coming back to your website? A list is the answer! Ask any good online entrepreneur and they will all tell you that the power is in the list! So, how do you get people added to your list? Opt-Ins are how to get people added to your list. What are they and how should you use them?
I am sure you have been to a website that has a pop-up that says something like “Enter your Name and email to stay updated with our latest articles and products” or something along that line. These are opt-Ins. You Opt-In to receive something in return. This can also work with locked content or other means. You provide your name and email address to be able to read the rest of the article or to receive a checklist or guide. Once you enter your name and email, you are added to the list. Now the website owner can promote articles and products to you via email.
You can and should use Opt-Ins that same way. By building your list, you will have a number of people that you can reach out to when you get a new product or article that you want to promote. Reaching out to your list will help you continue to make money from your website.
You have Opt-Ins scattered throughout your WordPress blog. Now you are getting people to join your list. It will quickly become a pain to personally respond to every new subscriber. This is where autoresponders come in. An autoresponder is exactly as it sounds. You setup a certain text that you want to tell every new subscriber and the autoresponder will automatically respond with that text for each new subscriber for you. It runs on autopilot. This way, someone can join your list in the middle of the night and you don’t need to worry about responding to them. The autoresponder will do it for you. This can be done in the form of a welcome letter or to direct people to perform a next step.
Where do I get an autoresponder from?
MailChimp is not the only autoresponder service out there. There are plenty others. Westwood Virtual Associates is a website that lists the top 10 autoresponder services and a bit of detail about each. I suggest checking them out for more detailed information about each service.
Local Hosted Autoresponder
Autoresponder services are not the only way you can do an autoresponder. If you prefer, you can host an autoresponder yourself. This is not recommended for a beginner. However, this direction provides a deeper control over your list and additional options that the other services may not provide. A few of these software services are:
Groupmail – An email marketing software with a one-time purchase after which you receive the program in full afterwards
Mautic – An Open Source email marketing software that is free and customizable
Arigato Autoresponder and Newsletter – A WordPress blog plugin
MailIt – A WordPress blog plugin
After walking you through the steps to choose a Domain Name, find a web host, migrate form WordPress.com to your new web host, choose components to add to your WordPress blog, ways to promote your website, ways to obtain traffic to your site, and ways to monetize, you now have all the components to start your own WordPress blog! As mentioned, this is not an all-inclusive article for each and every part discussed. However, it provides all the steps needed to get you going and places to look for further research so that you can make your website successful. If you have any comments or questions, please let us know below!