Start Your Own WordPress Blog – Ultimate Guide!

Start Your Own WordPress Blog – Ultimate Guide!

#1 Blogging isn’t as difficult as you think it to be!

First of all, let me burst some myths about blogging. There exist a notion that blogging is a complex task, a la rocket science! Rest assured, it is nothing like rocket science! Creating and maintaining blogs is not that difficult. You may own a blog even without you having sound coding knowledge! All this has been made possible by awesome CMSs (Content Management System) like WordPress, Blogger, Drupal etc.

These CMSs have ensured that even laymen can start a blog, maintain it and make it look stunningly beautiful and functional! This of course is advantage number one, folks!

#2 It can help you generate money!

The reason why a good majority of folks start blogging is for making money out of it! Come on, be honest, we all enjoy an extra source of income. And blogging can just provide such an extra source of income!
With a wide variety of monetization methods, blogs can help you earn serious money. Some of the most commonly used monetization strategies are- Google AdSense, other Ad networks like Chitika and Infolinks, Sponsored reviews, Selling Ad Space etc.
This is a boon, especially for folks who stay at home, like housewives. But I must maintain that anyone can start and maintain a money making blog, irrespective of their age, gender and nature of work.

#3 A blog will add an extra dimension to your business

In this digital age, online presence and reach is a crucial factor that determines the fortunes of businesses. Creating a blog for your business can add an extra dimension to the business.
It basically acts like a spokesperson, for the business. It will help customers know more about the products/services that you offer. Also, interaction and communication will be taken to a whole new level, thanks to blogs!
And as mentioned above, creating a blog and maintaining it is easy. So, creating a blog for your business actually makes good sense!
Those were the key advantages that I felt obliged to mention. Of course, there are other advantages, like a blog acting as a platform to express oneself, sharing ideas, gaining popularity etc. In short, it comes packed with advantages!
Now, let us hop on to the meat of the matter- ‘Steps involved in creating a blog’. For the sake of the readers, links to external resources have been provided wherever necessary.

Step by Step Guide to Help you Start a Blog

Step 1- Finding the ‘perfect niche’ to start a blog on

Before starting a blog, you should have a basic idea about what you are going to blog about, I mean the topic/niche that you will be dealing with. This is the very first step. Giving ample attention to this stage will help you get a good ‘kick start’!
Choosing a particular topic to blog about will give you a ‘sense of direction’, a definite goal. It will help you concentrate your efforts in a much better way.
Finding that perfect niche is not too difficult, if you take into consideration your passion and area of interest. Make it a point to start a blog on topic that you are genuinely interested in, the one that you are passionate about.
A blog will flourish only when it offers awesome content. And when you write on topics that you are knowledgeable and passionate about, awesome content will automatically fill up the blog, making it successful!
So, the first step is to select a topic that suits you, one which you think you can do well on. Suppose you are interested and knowledgeable about the field of education, it makes good sense to start an education based blog. If it is technology that interests you, a tech blog will work fine!
Blindly following others and choosing a niche aping other bloggers will lead to disaster. Make it a point to think well and select the ‘perfect niche’ that suits you the best!

Step 2- Knowing about CMSs and choosing the right one

CMS stands for Content Management System. They are platforms that help you effortlessly manage blogs. Blogs are all about content. Content could be anything, like- articles, images, videos, files etc. The role of a CMS is to help you manage content, add new content, delete content, present content in a specific way etc.
Thanks to these CMSs, giving shape to a blog and maintaining it has become child’s play! Some of the well known CMSs are- WordPress, Blogger, Drupal and Joomla. All of these CMSs are heavily PHP centered, thus helping them create stunning blogs with awesome functionalities.
There are other tons of CMSs too, like- Yola, Weebly etc. But among all these entries, the most used ones are- WordPress and Blogger.
They hold the pole position, thanks to their virtues and qualities. We’ll be dealing with these two CMSs here.
Both WordPress and Blogger allows users to create free blogs. But technically, they can’t be termed as blogs, for they are just ‘sub-domains’!
You might have seen blogs like- xyz.blogspot.com or xyz.wordpress.com. They are free blogs, not self hosted. They are hosted as ‘sub-domains’ by the likes of Blogger and WordPress.
At first, the prospect of creating free blogs might tempt us all. But, to be honest, they are free for a reason. In fact, all free things are free for a reason. The same theory applies in case of blogs. Free blogs are free, since they come loaded with many limitations and restrictions. Let us take a look at them-
Free blogs are riddled with restrictions and limitations
First of all, they are not at all hosted by you or your resources. Such free blogs are hosted on the servers of Google/WordPress, whichever platform you choose. So, basically the blog is a sub-domain and is at the mercy of Google/WordPress.
If they find your free blog to be compromising or violating any of their ‘Terms of service’, they have the freedom and right to remove and delete the blog, without any prior warning!
Also, when it comes to branding, free blogs don’t fare well. If you are looking to build an authoritative blog, it would be appropriate to ditch the idea of making use of free means to create it.
Developing a ‘brand identity’ through one’s blog is the mantra right now. And building brand identity is possible only through a proper self hosted domain, not the free one! Also, the earning figure of a blog is tied to its brand identity and authoritativeness, to an extent. So, looking from earnings’ point of view too, putting efforts towards building free blogs doesn’t make much sense.
Okay, now that you are familiar with the perils associated with free blogs, let us do a brief comparison between WordPress and Blogger CMSs. Know why WordPress is a better option than Blogger.
WordPress Vs Blogger: why WordPress is the clear winner-
WordPress and Blogger both allow users to create free blogs. But we are not interested in free stuff, are we?. We are all into setting up a blog with custom domain name.
When it comes to managing a blog with custom domain name using Blogger, the ‘hosting aspect’ of it is managed by servers of Google! Yes, the files and content of the blog are stored on the servers of Google. At first, it may seem a good prospect. But upon looking closer, this very aspect turns out to be a limitation!
Since the blog is hosted on Google’s servers, its existence is at their mercy! You violate any of their Terms of use and the blog will be removed without much warning!
Also, when it comes to Blogger, functionality aspects are limited, when compared to WordPress.
On the other hand, WordPress thrives on the ‘Open source community’. To manage a blog with custom domain name using WordPress, a user has to make necessary arrangements for hosting. This, is a boon in disguise. This very aspect helps WordPress enabled blogs to be independent, when compared to Blogger based blogs.
Thanks to the open source policy that WordPress sticks to, it has a wide and active user and developer community. Thanks to the developer community, a wide variety of useful WordPress plugins, themes etc are available for free at the WordPress.Org repository!
Thanks to these plugins and themes, WordPress blogs are highly functional and easily customizable! With minimum efforts, the functionality of a blog can be enhanced. For example, just by using BuddyPress plugin, one can transform a WordPress blog into a full-fledged Social Networking site! Isn’t that awesome?
Similarly, making use of the tailor made themes, one can effortlessly try out new and exciting looks for their blogs. Even niche wise themes are available. For example, there are themes tailor made for magazine styled blogs, photography blogs, video sharing blogs (Vlogs) etc.
These powerful features are what makes WordPress the best CMS on the planet! If you plan to take your blog to the next level, and branch out, then WordPress is the way to go!

Step 3- Registering an appropriate domain name

Now that you have selected the appropriate niche and CMS (WordPress, which will help you grow your blog really big!), all you have to do next is find an appropriate domain name.
Don’t take this stage too lightly, for it holds much significance in the long run!
A domain name should have the following properties-
  • It should be an easy to remember name
  • If possible, it should contain a keyword relevant to your niche
  • It should be relatively short, not excessively long
Having a keyword in the domain name, which is of value, in your chosen niche, holds much SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value. Having an easy to remember domain name will leave a good impression on the mind of readers and they are likely to follow up with repeated visits. People really don’t care to type urls of insanely huge domain names, besides, they are also hard to spell and note down. So, having a relatively short domain name is recommended.
Register domain names with registrar services that are trusted. Some of them are notorious for squatting requested domains and demanding higher price later. Personally, I use Godaddy for registering domains.
Godaddy is reputed, well known and a reliable player in the industry. It is their economic pricing and awesome security features that make them awesome, when it comes to registering domains!
When it comes to registering domains, rushing to decisions is not recommended. It will be more practical to jot down good domain names and choose the best one after a brainstorming session!
Also, experimenting with the domain name extensions is also a good idea. Sometimes, the domain name you want might not be available. For example, xyz.com might not be available. In such cases, you may go for regional extensions like .in, .it etc. But only go for such choices if you are targeting regional traffic from that particular country.

Step 4- Buying an awesome hosting plan

Hosting is a tricky affair, when it comes to self hosted WordPress blogs. Because, on one side, there are those ultra cheap hosting providers, who offer hosting packages at unbelievable prices. Sometimes, the packages that they offer sounds too good to be true.
It is quite natural that bloggers tend to get tempted by such ultra cheap hosting packages. But remember that they are cheap for a reason! The main reason behind such low costs is poor quality service!
If you don’t choose your host provider carefully, you will he ‘blessed’ with unwanted gifts like- huge, unbearable blog down time durations, poor loading speed, security vulnerabilities, hidden costs etc.
Considering these facts, it is always better to purchase hosting packages from decent, reputed host providers. There are host providers, who provide reliable, quality hosting, at economical rates.
This is an attractive prospect for bloggers, since they can avail quality service at a competitive price, without breaking their bank! Look for host providers that offer good post sales services and customer support service. Also, purchasing WordPress oriented hosting packages will help in the long run.
Finding a host provider that offers awesome service at an economical rate is not that easy. But I’ve did the hard work on behalf of you! I’ll be mentioning two such host providers that satisfies the ‘economical pricing’ and ‘quality service’ criteria. They are – HostGator and Bluehost!
My personal experience with HostGator has been amazing, with them giving no opportunity to fret over poor service! Their pricing chart is economical and full of choices. The post sales services are also good, with help available at almost real time, thanks to their live chat assistance.
Looking from technical point of view, their servers are well configured, boasting state of the art technology.
Check out this no nonsense review of HostGator and see for yourself what they are offering.
Bluehost is well known for being tailor made for WordPress hosting. Yes, the servers are best configured to manage nuances associated with a WordPress blog.
You can expect your blog to run smoothly and efficiently, as long as they are hosted on Bluehost’s efficient, WordPress oriented servers.

Step 5- Installing WordPress

No, you don’t have to run through hectic processes to get WordPress installed on your server. In most of the cases, if you have purchased hosting from a reputed provider, WordPress installation can be done with the click of a button! Yes, you read it right, with just one click of a button!
This is because WordPress is insanely popular and most servers are configured in advance to accommodate it. Using cPanel, one may easily install WordPress with the click of a button.

But if you want to take the second path, and install it manually, that too is possible. Check out this guide to get in grip with the manual installation process.
Either way, installing this amazing CMS is ridiculously easy!

Step 6- Selecting a good theme and giving the blog a professional look

They say that ‘First impression is the last impression’. In blogging world too, this statement has a place of its own. A blog with good look and layout leaves a good impression on the mind of the visitor.
The design of a blog should be professional. Thanks to the open source policy of WordPress and large developer community, there is no dearth of free WordPress themes.
But, buying a premium theme has advantages of its own. Usually, the free themes are not neatly coded. This results in slow loading speed, security lapses, unresponsive design etc.
Buying premium theme will help get rid of such troubles. They are well coded, light weight, responsive and stable. They look professional and are easily customizable, enabling the blogger to try out unique looks and layout.
Premium themes are also SEO optimized. They follow Schema.Org’s layout guidelines, which is something that Google really likes!
Wondering what my personal recommendation is? It is Genesis framework!
It makes creating stunning blogs easy. Customization is one of the main features that Genesis has to offer. A blogger may try out unique, creative looks, thanks to this flexible framework.
Basically, Genesis takes care of aspects like SEO friendliness, Code optimization, good looks, functionality etc of the theme. And it is mobile responsive too!
Why not check out this Genesis framework review and get to know it better?
So, going the premium way is recommended, since you won’t have to worry about aspects like- security flaws, flawed coding, slow loading blogs, unresponsive design, poorly navigable layout etc. A premium theme will take care of all these aspects and make the blog SEO friendly, just the way Google wants it to be! You see, Google wants blogs to be user friendly and enhance user experience while using the blog. Premium themes have all it takes to leave a good impression on the visitor and Google!
PS: This blog is also running on Genesis Framework.

Step 7- Installing some very useful plugins

So, now that you’ve bought domain name, purchased hosting package, installed a stunning theme, set up a good layout, it is time to add some basic plugins, so that the blog functions efficiently.
Plugins adds to the functionality of a WordPress blog. Thanks to the vast developer community, plugins that performs a wide variety of tasks are available for free on the WordPress.Org repository.
I’ve listed some plugins that will prove to be handy. They will execute some very important tasks that will ensure that the blog functions smoothly.
The link to the installation process and details of the plugin have been provided in case of each plugin.
The anti-spam plugin will come handy in keeping spam comments at bay. You see, spamming is a thriving industry! So, in case you own a blog, expect it to be hit by spam commenters at some point of time!
This plugin runs on auto pilot mode and will automatically detect and filter spam comments out.
They say that SEO is dead! Come on, it is here to stay! And the best plugin to take care of Search Engine Optimization aspects of your WordPress blog is- WordPress SEO by Yoast.
Find installation guide and settings of this plugin here.
Social sharing is one such aspect associated with blogging, which we can’t afford to ignore. Placing well placed social sharing buttons and social follow buttons will enhance social media presence of your blog and blog posts.
The more social media presence, the better the social media signals that will be generated! AddThis social bookmarking plugin will take care of social sharing aspects of your blog. The creators of this plugin also have created stunning social follow buttons too!
Caching will help your blog load faster and help servers perform better. Caching involves storing static version of your blog, which is a compressed one, on the server.
This ensures that the compressed version of your blog is rendered at faster speeds than the regular version. Thus, the strain on the server is also reduced to a great extent.
I recommend W3 Total Cache for caching purposes of a WordPress blog. It is conflict free and doesn’t interfere with other plugins. Also, setting it up is relatively easier, when compared to other caching plugins. Find W3 Total Cache’s settings here.
This is a multi utility plugin. It can be said to be a collection of plugins! I agree that this is a ‘bloated’ plugin. But it comes loaded with number of useful features.
Some of the handy features of this plugin are- subscription service, WordPress stats, WordPress mobile theme, Photon image CDN etc. There are loads of other features too, being offered by this plugin!
Submitting a valid sitemap using the Google Webmaster Tools is something that webmasters should never forget. This plugin will help WordPress bloggers create valid sitemaps of their blogs!
Once activated and after submitting the sitemap, there is no need to re-submit it again and again! The plugin will take care of the rest of the proceedings and update the sitemap as soon as a new post is published/changes are made to the blog!
There are tons of other useful plugins too, which WordPress.Org repository has to offer. I’ve only dealt with the main ones, the ones that’ll help the blog run smoothly.

[Bonus] ‘Blogging Resources’ list to take your blog to the next level

We are not finished yet! You see, I’m really in a mood to help you guys! That’s why I thought about putting the link of my awesome ‘Blogging Resource’ page right here.
Wondering what these ‘resources’ are all about? Well, these blogging resources will make your blogging journey a smooth ride. It is all about enhancing productivity and making the most out of these tools.
Click here and do give the recommended ‘Blogging Resources’ a look. I’m sure they will come handy throughout your blogging journey!