How to Start a Blog
You want to start a blog and ask yourself, which platform should I use for it? Or have you already started your first blog and you are looking for an alternative to your previous option?
In this tutorial, you’ll learn which possibilities you have as a Blogger and which advantages and disadvantages come with it. Get Started!
Table of Contents
Part 1: Choosing a Web Hosting Service
When choosing a web hosting provider for your WordPress blog there are certain features you should not overlook. Let’s go over which and why.
What’s Web Hosting?
For your blog to be accessible on the internet, it must be uploaded and stored somewhere. Web hosting providers (e.g. SiteGround) provide you with the required storage to upload your blog on a server. This service is called web hosting.
How to Choose The Right Web Hosting Provider?
Choosing the right web hosting provider is really important when creating a blog. There are huge differences, especially in terms of speed, safety and ease of use. As you know, there is plenty of upselling in every industry, hence, we recommend the one we’ve been using for over 10 years in several online projects, namely SiteGround.
To help you better understand why we love and recommend SiteGround, here are a couple of major benefits they offer:
Part 2: Selecting a Web Hosting Plan
Likewise for web hosting plans: There are certain features we must consider in order to make the right choice for your new WordPress blog.
StartUp vs GrowBig
The GrowBig plan, in comparison to the StartUp plan, increases the speed of your blog and safety as well as giving your support requests a priority, which allows you to spend more time in growing your blog.
The GrowBig plan includes the following Premium WordPress Features
Priority Technical Support:
Whenever you create a support ticket or use the live chat support, you are served first.
SuperCacher for Great Speed:
A faster blog equals higher search engines rankings and happier readers.
Free Backup Restores:
Never worry of losing your blog with automated daily back-ups.
What about the GoGeek plan?
The GoGeek plan makes sense when your traffic exceeds 25,000 visitors per month. Otherwise, the additional features that come with this plan, also known as “Geeky WordPress Features”, are not necessary to have for a blog.
Part 3: Picking a Domain Name
Choosing the right domain name for a new blog is a very important decision. A good domain name can lay the foundations for future success.
The domain is often the first thing your visitors see, so choosing a domain name with simple spelling, that can be remembered easily, is a great strategy for branding your blog.
With a unique domain, chances are more likely your visitors will remember your domain name. Stay away from names that sound like an existing blog.
.Com? .Org? .Net?
Every web address ends with a period followed by a domain extension. These letters are called “Top Level Domain” (TLD).
The most popular domains are:
If available, try to use the .com domain extension, otherwise find the one that best suits your brand.
Part 4: Data Center and Domain Privacy
Learn why the web hosting location is of importance and how to protect your personal identity from online fraud.
It is recommended to choose the data center location according to where most of your visitors are coming from. If you are planning on targeting the US markets, then Chicago (USA) is the right choice for you and if you are planning on targeting a European based audience, then you may want to choose either Amsterdam (NL) or Milano (IT).
For both, Europe and North America, London (UK) would be the ideal choice.
Domain Privacy (highly recommended)
When you register your domain privately at SiteGround, you benefit from maximum privacy and anonymity. This is guaranteed by SiteGround acting as a link between you and the WHOIS database. This means that your personal details are not shown, but instead SiteGround provides its own company data as a substitute. The domain privacy registration ensures that your data is protected against spam and misuse by third parties, thus your website and data are safe.
SG Site Scanner (optional)
This is a good service, however, we believe it is unnecessary for you at this stage.
Part 5: SiteGround Account
The cPanel of every web hosting is the location where things usually begin, from installing WordPress to securing your blog.
E-mail with Account Details
Usually you’ll receive your log-in details within minutes by e-mail.
Go to User Area
After clicking on the blue “Go to User Area” button, you’ll be forwarded to the SiteGround log-in page where you can use your username and password to access your SiteGround web hosting account.
Once you are in the “User Area”, please click the “My Account” tab in the menu bar.
On the “My Accounts” page, please hit the red “Go to cPanel” button.
This is an extremely important section for setting up your blog and we’ll discuss it further in this tutorial. Please leave this window open in your browser and let’s continue with Part 6: Securing Your Blog with SSL.
Part 6: Securing Your Blog with SSL
The number of hackers and data thieves are rising exponentially, hence securing your blog is the only logical solution.
The abbreviation “SSL” stands for “Secure Sockets Layer”. It is a protocol that ensures that you can transfer data over the Internet using an encrypted connection. An encrypted connection will typically show by the green lock next to the URL in your browser.
Did you know?
Following the announcement in August 2014, (HTTPS as a ranking signal) Google has stated to use SSL as a ranking signal and the company reserves the right to weight the ranking factor SSL encryption stronger at any time.
In order to use a secure https protocol for the URL, we must install the “Let’s Encrypt” SSL certificate first. We’ll continue where we’ve stopped during Part 5: SiteGround Account, simply scroll down to the “Security” section and click on “Let’s Encrypt”.
Installing a New Let’s Encrypt
Choose the domain name that you wish to use and select the “Let’s Encrypt SSL” option to install the SSL certificate for your new WordPress blog.
Let’s Encrypt Certificate
After a brief moment a message will pop up that your “Let’s Encrypt” certificate has been installed successfully. The SSL certificate will then appear in your account.
Part 7: Blog Platforms
You want to start blogging, but do not know which platform is suitable for your interests and goals? It’s time to find out.
The source code of WordPress is freely accessible under the GPL license, allowing any user to download, install, and use the content management system for free.
Benefits of WordPress:
- Ease of Use
The key for the success of WordPress is the ease of use and the clean appearance of its admin interface.
The development of WordPress is ongoing, which is a major benefit for the end-user as numerous new updates and features can be expected. The updates also include the improvement of old features.
Large companies and international media such as CNN and Reuters have long since resorted to WordPress for their online editions.
WordPress is safe in comparison to other content management systems. The security holes are found and closed faster, thanks to the large community. This adds tremendous value in terms of online security.
Did you know?
WordPress has the lead market share for CMS (content management system) based websites with more than half, 59.9% to be precise, using the self-hosted version of WordPress. (Usage of content management systems for websites, by w3techs)
|#||WEBSITES USING||MARKET SHARE IN %||ACTIVE SITES||# OF SITES IN TOP MILLION|
Part 8: Installing WordPress
Please go back to the tab with the cPanel page that we previously navigated to, or take a look at Part 5: SiteGround Account again. In the section called “Autoinstallers”, please click on “WordPress Installer”.
Please click the blue “Install” button to continue with the installation process of your WordPress blog.
WordPress Installation Settings
Use the https version of the protocol with or without the www. Whether you use the www in your address or not, this will not affect your blog in any way, it is just a matter of your visual preference.
If not already selected, please choose the domain that you have previously picked during the purchase of your web hosting.
Add the name of your blog. This will appear in search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, when your front-page shows up in the search results. You can edit it at any time.
Add a brief, catchy and descriptive introduction of your blog. This part will appear underneath your site name in the search engine results. Same as your site name, you can edit it at any time as well.
Your admin account name, password and e-mail address will be used for logging into your blog’s admin panel and also for the recovery of your password.
Limit Login Attempts (Loginizer):
This is a very useful plugin to keep you safe from hackers. It is not necessary, but we do recommend it.
WordPress Installation Complete
After a couple of moments you’ll receive a notification that the WordPress installation has been completed successfully. It’ll also include the URLs to the front and back-end of your new WordPress blog.
Your blog’s login web address will appear next to “Administrative URL:” as shown in the screenshot image above.
A general rule of thumb to access your login web address is to simply add “/wp-admin/” at the end of your domain’s URL.
For Example: https://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin/
By opening your blog’s URL in your browser, you can see that WordPress has been successfully installed. A green lock icon will also appear to the left of your URL representing that your website is successfully encrypted by the “Let’s Encrypt” SSL certificate which we’ve previously installed in Part 6: Securing Your Blog with SSL.
Part 9: Activating Cache Plugin for Fast Page Load
Caching plays a vital role in performance optimization and is used as a high-speed storage layer for your data to efficiently reuse already retrieved or calculated data for speeding up your blog.
Level 1: Static Cache
Firstly, click the switch button to activate the static caching application.
Level 2: Dynamic Cache
Secondly, go to the “Level 2: Dynamic Cache” tab and click the switch button to activate the dynamic caching application.
Please note: We do not need to install the “CachePress” plugin manually as it has already been taken care of in Part 8: Installing WordPress of this tutorial.
Level 3: Memcached
Lastly, go to the “Level 3: Memcached” tab and click the switch button to activate the memcached technology.
Part 10: WordPress Theme Selection
Even though the content of a blog is one of the most important things in blogging, you should not underestimate the importance of your blog’s appearance and layout.
Premium WordPress Themes
If you want to make sure that your new WordPress blog makes the best possible impression to your readers, we highly recommend purchasing a premium WordPress theme to take full advantages of all it has to offer such as:
- many pre-made designs
- easy to customize
- more theme options
- better SEO
- more unique
- professional support
- and frequent updates
Part 11: Uploading a WordPress Theme
Now that you’ve made a decision, it’s time to go ahead with the installation of your chosen WordPress theme.
Upload a WordPress Theme
To upload a new WordPress theme, you must click the “Upload Theme” button first. A new box will appear, click the “Browse” button and navigate to the WordPress theme you previously downloaded, select it and click the “Open” button. Now hit the “Install Now” button to start the uploading process.
Please remain patient, in some cases this may take a couple of minutes.
Activate WordPress Theme
Once you’ve clicked on “activate” your WordPress theme will be ready for usage.
Part 12: Creating Your First Blog Post
Moving onto the fun part of this tutorial – the creation of your very first blog post.
1. Screen Options
Hide or show certain sections, change the layout and appearance of the post editor page.
2. Post title
Give your post a title which also becomes your post slug.
3. Add Media
Add images or galleries to your posts.
4. Content Editor
Offers different styling options for your posts content.
5. Content Field
The area where you write your post content.
Aside from the “read more” tag, this is another way to include an excerpt for your post.
A simple way to notify other blogs about your newly published posts.
Activate, deactivate and monitor your comment section.
Change the post author.
10. Publish Box
Use the publish box to save your newly written post as draft, private or password protected post. You can also set up a date and time when your post will be published automatically.
11. Featured Image
Add an image which will be used across your blog as featured image and thumbnails.
12. Post Formats
A simple way to change your post layout into different styled formats.
Assign your post to specific category pages.
Assign your post to specific tag pages.
A Few Final Words
Congratulations! You’ve arrived in the World of WordPress and upgraded your knowledge from being a beginner to a true novice.
As a WordPress novice you are now capable of managing and creating your own WordPress blog. Aside from that you’ve also learned the importance of page loading speed, web security and the necessity of SSL.
Need more help?
No worries! If, after reading our tutorial How to Start a Blog, there is still something that remains unclear or you have additional questions on how to install WordPress, set up your blog or related to any of our free WordPress themes, then we’d love to hear from you!
Get in touch with us through our contact form.