Looking for the ultimate guide on how to start a blog or website with WordPress? Follow the steps in this guide to build a blog or small business website (including themes, hosting, design, & more) quickly and easily.
From a business perspective, it is important to keep blog or website design and development times short so that you can focus on getting traffic and making money.
Design considerations should take into account both time and cost to produce the best blog or website possible, in the shortest amount of time, for the least amount of money.
This guide will highlight the different ways to build a website with WordPress, help identify the right option for your website, list some of the best theme design services, and provide further reading for blogging, marketing and SEO.
Hosted vs. self-hosted
The first decision you need to make is whether or not you want to host your own blog, or use the hosted version. Here's what you need to know about each...
Hosted WordPress sites are free, quick and easy to set up at WordPress.com.
Hosted sites have limitations that may not be suitable if you want to customize and improve the performance and SEO of the default platform.
However, tens of millions of bloggers use hosted WordPress sites for their blogs.
It's important to note that you can purchase a domain name for a hosted site, so that your blog builds up SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and starts driving traffic.
Self hosted sites (available for free from WordPress.org) require you to find a Web server, domain and hosting. This makes it slightly more difficult to get up and running. However, there are many excellent hosting services that cater for WordPress (discussed later), so don't be put off by the slightly steeper learning curve.
Self hosted sites give you complete Web design and development control, making it far more flexible and powerful option.
Self hosted sites can be customized using HTML, CSS, PHP, as well as various SEO techniques. Many millions of bloggers use self hosted WordPress.
Choosing between hosted or self hosted
Choose self hosted if you want more flexibility and control and don't mind a little bit of extra work at the start.
Choose hosted if you are happy with a basic blog and don't want to have the hassle of finding a separate Web hosting service.
How to create a WordPress blog
Creating a new hosted blog is easy, so I won't go into it in much detail here. Browse to WordPress.com, create an account, click Create a new blog, and follow the instructions.
To set up WordPress on your own PC (so that you can design and develop it before deploying to the Web host's servers), you will need to follow these steps:
- Download and install a Web server package (with PHP and MySQL). I recommend XAMPP
- Download and extract a copy of WordPress to the Web server root document (most likely in C:\xampp\htdocs).
- Rename the extracted folder to the name of your new blog or website (i.e. C:xampp\htdocs\myblog)
- Browse to http://localhost/phpmyadmin in your favorite browser
- Create a database with the same name as your new blog
- Click on the Privileges tab and Add a new User to the database you just created - with all permissions. Make sure you remember the username and password of the database user (you'll need it in the next step)
- Browse to http://localhost/myblog in your browser (be sure to change myblog to the name of the folder)
- Follow the installation instructions and supply the database, user and password as requested
If all goes well, you will be able to log in to your new website. You can create as many blogs and sites by repeating this process (just change the folder, database, user and password each time).
To install WordPress to a Web server, simply repeat steps 2 - 8 in the list above (step 1 isn't required since your Web host should already be a PHP, Apache, MySQL Web server).
WordPress domains and hosting
Buying a domain name for a hosted blog is easy. Go to Add a domain under the Store tab in the admin dashboard and follow the checkout procedure.
With a self hosted site the process is slightly different because you can pick and choose the best hosting service. Most hosting services also come with domain registration facilities, so you can do everything in one place.
Check out The best Web hosting services to find a high quality hosting service. You might want to start with WP Engine - a specialist WordPress hosting service.
Design, themes & templates
Having a bit of CSS (Cascading StyleSheets), HTML, PHP and other Web related skills and experience is a big plus when it comes to customizing and designing beautiful themes.
From a blogging perspective, a theme can help set the tone, look and feel of a website.
A professional, easy-to-understand, clean and lightweight theme can help convince readers to convert (buy stuff, sign up to a newsletter, etc).
The temptation is to go overboard with all the bells and whistles. Be careful not to overload your site or slow it down too much.
Google takes page load time into consideration when calculating where pages appear in search results, so fast pages are good pages.
The good news is that there are many great WordPress design services that can help you get exactly the look and feel you want without having to spend time fighting with code (good news if you're allergic to programming and Web development).
Blogging, marketing & SEO
Once your blog or website is up and running, it's time to start adding content and generating revenue.
The following articles and resources will help you master blogging, marketing and SEO techniques:
Phew! That's a lot to take in at one go. Take it one step at a time and you'll find the WordPress is an excellent platform for blogging and making money online.
Have you already started a blog? Share your advice, tips and experiences in the comments below.