If you want to start a blog, WordPress is probably the easiest and most user-friendly application you can use. There are even easier options – like using a free online blogging service like Blogger.com, but then you really don’t have much control over your own website.
With WordPress, you get the best of both worlds—an easy-to-understand platform and unlimited features to grow your blog and add bells and whistles as you learn.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
First, I should point out that there are two WordPresses. They are operated by the same company, but WordPress.com is a service that hosts your blog for you – like Blogger, Tumblr, and other third-party sites. These are often referred to as Web 2.0 sites. There’s nothing wrong with building your blog this way, but it does limit you in some ways.
If you’re using WordPress.com or any other Web 2.0 site, you don’t own the blog. You simply rent space on it. This means the host can delete your blog at any time. This happens when you violate TOS (Terms of Service). It’s surprisingly easy to do this without even wanting to.
For example, WordPress.com does not allow you to make your blog commercially in any way. So if you want to start a business or even make a few extra bucks every month, this is not the way to go.
Another reason WordPress.com and other such sites are not ideal is that you will have a harder time with SEO and generating traffic than if you owned the blog. That’s because most of the “link juice” generated by your article goes to the host and not to your specific website.
Therefore, I will focus on WordPress.org here. This is when you buy a domain, get hosting and start your own blog.
Choosing a domain and web host
Your domain is your URL – the address of your website or blog. If you haven’t decided on one yet, you must do so first. If you don’t have web hosting either, you’ll need that too. You can combine these if you like. Many web hosting companies offer you a free domain when you sign up for hosting.
When choosing a web hosting company, it is good to choose one that has a lot of experience with WordPress. If you really want to be sure of that, you can opt for WP Engine, a company that specializes in WordPress. However, they are slightly more expensive than most web hosts.
If you want to save money, you can still find a good web host that can support your WordPress site. Bluehost, for example, is highly recommended for this. They are even recommended by WordPress itself.
One suggestion I’m going to make here is that no matter what web host you choose, try to pick a plan that gives you unlimited domains/websites. Sometimes a host offers several different plans. The price difference is usually only a few euros per month.
The point is, creating WordPress blogs can be addictive! You probably won’t want to stop with one. So you can also have a hosting plan that allows you to create as many as you want.
When choosing a domain, try to keep it short and simple. If you want your blog to rank well in search engines, choose some good keywords in the title. These are words that people will actually search for when looking for information.
If your domain is something like Bobsblog.com or Marysblog.com, you’ll have a personalized name, but not one that’s likely to help you with SEO (search engine optimization). This is especially important if you intend to sell something. If you just want to share a blog with your friends, family, co-workers, etc., it doesn’t matter.
How to install WordPress
Installing WordPress is fairly easy with most major web hosting companies. Usually you use a script installer like Fantastico or Softaculous (your web host probably has one of those – check your control panel). You can then install WordPress with just a few clicks.
I don’t want to waste too much space here by describing the steps to install WordPress as you can find them at your web hosting company. There are also numerous articles and videos on this topic.
What should you blog about?
This doesn’t seem to be a problem, but many people experience “blogger’s block” after writing a post or two. I assume you have already chosen your topic. If you can’t even think of a topic, it’s not really a good time to start a blog!
But even if you have a topic that interests you, it can be difficult to think of actual posts to write about. This may require you to do some research to get inspiration. Here are a few ideas.
- Set up Google Alerts -You can receive emails from Google delivering messages to your inbox based on some keywords you choose.
- Amazon -Check out which books are popular. Check out their magazine section too!
- Other blogs – Check out Google Blogs and see what others are writing about in your niche. You don’t want to copy them, but you might get ideas that you can implement in your own way.
- Offline books and magazines -Go to the Barnes & Noble library, bookstore, and magazine department (or anywhere that sells magazines). Read newspaper. All of these are great sources of ideas.
- Consistency is the key to success
If you have a blog, you need to write blog posts! This really is the most important “secret” to a successful blog, believe it or not. You hear a lot about “quality content” these days, which is obviously important.
Filling your blog with auto-generated or spun content (if you don’t know what that is, don’t worry – you’re better off!) you’re not going to get very far. The search engines quickly identify this as low-quality content. However, you must generate posts on a regular basis.
Let’s forget search engines for a moment, when a visitor sees that a blog hasn’t been updated in months, he or she will likely conclude that it’s not very active or relevant. You probably do the same thing when you search for new websites online.
Search engines also love blogs that are updated frequently. It also gives you more content to index. Let’s say a few words about SEO while we’re on the subject.
The vast universe of WordPress plugins
Once you become familiar with WordPress, you may want to delve into more advanced features. This often means adding plugins. These are tools that you upload to your WordPress site to perform a variety of functions.
Plugins can be used for security, SEO, building forums or members pages, placing contact forms on your website, or hundreds of other things. Plugins give you the ability to perform many tasks that would otherwise require advanced programming skills.
There are so many plugins for WordPress that it would be impossible to keep up with them all. At first you might think that you don’t need any plugins – and that’s true. Still, it’s so easy to use that you might as well get your feet wet and install some basic ones.
You can access the plugin settings from your WordPress dashboard.
- Akismet -This anti-spam plugin is already included when you install WordPress, but you need to get an API key to activate it. There are instructions for this.
- Google XML Sitemaps -This makes it easy for Google and other search engines to index your posts and pages.
- W3 total cache -This is a great plugin that will make your website load faster and run more efficiently. It does this by caching posts, pages, databases, scripts and other items that take up disk space.
- Bulletproof security – Helps protect your website from attacks. This is important because hackers often target WordPress sites.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast -Facilitates the optimization of your website for the search engines.
The above is a very short list of what you can do with plugins. If you have special needs or ideas for special features for your blog, there is probably a plugin that can help you with that.
WordPress: the perfect place to develop your blog
What makes WordPress so amazing for bloggers is that it can help you at every stage of your blogging career. For beginners, setting up a barebones blog makes it easy. Advanced users can play with all configurations and plugins.
However, WordPress is still just a tool. It’s up to you to create great content so people have a reason to visit your blog!