How to Start a Blog in 2018 (Beginner Friendly With Images and Video)
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This step-by-step walk-through on how to start a blog in 2018 will show you exactly how you can set up a website in 15 minutes.
Yes, it may take you longer than 15 minutes to read this post, it will certainly take you just over 30 minutes to follow along with the video above this article, but once you know what you are doing – the whole process really does take just 15 minutes to have a blog up and running.
Bonus: No coding or Photoshop knowledge is required. This really is the non-techie way to start your very own blog right now.
The reason I created this post is because I really do believe that the web allows individuals, and businesses, to make a decent income online, and blogging is a great way to build and promote your brand.
I also wanted to create the sort of article that I wish was available to me when I started out. What I have shared here, is the sort of information that was packaged into expensive courses back when ‘blogging’ was just becoming the ‘thing’.
Blogging isn’t new. Blogger.com launched in 1999 and WordPress launched in 2003, blogging has certainly stood the test of time and proven that it isn’t a passing trend. Today, blogging is still very popular, the fact it is still popular almost 20 years after it started is testimant to this; 20 years in internet years is a very long time indeed.
The barriers to getting online are vanishing, and 2018 sees inspiring bloggers being able to gain access to some of the best products and services available. Not only will these products help you to easily get started online with your very own blog, they have become very affordable and within reach of budget constrained start-ups and freelancers.
Now, if you don’t have 15 minutes to spare and would prefer that your site is set-up for you, with a bespoke design and optimised for the search engines, then be sure to contact me using the link below, so we can discuss your project.
The important thing for me is that you understand my mission for writing this post and creating the video walk-through.
I wanted to create the sort of post that I wish was available to me when I was starting out.
I want to help as many people as I can get started online, earning an income, from doing something they are truly passionate about.
I wanted to put everything in a single post so that it can be bookmarked and become a great resource and reference point.
I wanted the post to be comprehensive enough that you are not left with more questions or not knowing what to do next. Being a freelancer, or a business owner, is very time-consuming, so I wanted you to be able to set up your site in as little time as possible; you literally could have your site up in the next 15 minutes.
If you are a complete beginner to blogs and blogging, keep reading and I will reveal all. If you already have a good understanding of blogging but wasn’t sure how to get started, then, feel free to skip ahead but you may miss something that is useful.
To get you online and in a way that puts you in total control, you will need to make some purchases (domain name, hosting, etc.). To be as helpful as I can, and assuming you are just starting out and on a restrictive budget, the main items in this post are as cheap as I would go without compromising on service, performance, or customer support.
Right, go grab yourself a cup of coffee, and let’s get to work.
To your blogging success.
How to Start a blog in 2018 Quick Links
- 1. Pick a blog name and purchase the domain
- 2. Get yourself a hosting package
- 3. Point your domain to your host account (if separate)
- 4. Install WordPress
- 5. Add a Theme to build your sites look
- 6. Add Plugins to get the features you want
- 7. Publish your first post
- Bonus Section
What is a blog?
With the rise of Blogger and WordPress, blogging has become an accessible medium for individuals and businesses to create content to connect with their audience, and in some cases, even make a living.
Whether you have an existing website, are planning to start a business, you are a freelancer, or maybe you just want to share your musings online, starting a blog is very easy to do.
If you have an e-commerce store, adding a business blog is simple to do, and one way to easily connect to two is to put a link in the navigation menu of your site that directs visitors to your blog for a seamless user experience.
Here are some frequently asked questions
I want you to get started with your very own blog today, and the easiest way to help you do that is to remove any barriers that you may have.
FAQ: What if I have a boring product/service/topic/niche?
One barrier to starting a blog is the belief that you are operating in a boring niche. You may have to get creative, but there is a way to put a spin on your niche to create fun, engaging, and informative content.
Here are a couple of examples to get you thinking:
Sheds are pretty boring to a lot of people, but take a look at this site by Readers Sheds – they get user-generated content of people sharing their modified sheds that are now their havens in the garden, and it is all super niche focused.
Or, what about these guys, Louis E. Page. They are certainly the experts in their niche of fencing, and they share this knowledge on their blog called The Fence Post. This establishes them as the go-to authority in their market.
Your imagination is your only limit.
FAQ: Should I start a blog right now?
The simple answer in the majority of cases is yes.
Blogging allows you to share your story, to make extra income even if you do not have your own products (as an affiliate), build recognition for yourself or your brand and allows you to grow your very own community.
The content you create can generate traffic (visitors) from the search engines if your pages are indexed and rank well for particular search terms.
Your content can generate traffic from social shares across sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
Visitors to your blog pages can be enticed to sign-up to your email mailing list, and this will allow you to build your very own audience that you can directly share your content and products to.
Blogging can be highly rewarding and has allowed some people to quit their day jobs. This income, in a lot of cases, is generated through passive income, such as product reviews and recommendations as an affiliate.
The affiliate process is easy. Find a related affiliate product in your niche and sign-up as an affiliate. Grab your affiliate link. You then create a blog post that promotes the product. Insert your affiliate link to that product using a referral/affiliate link, and you earn a commission when people go through your link and make a purchase.
You can also find lots of products covering a wide range of niches at ShareASale. The pages you create on your site can continue to make you money years after being published. The longer you leave starting your blog, the longer it will take you to see results.
So yes, you should start a blog and there is no time like the present!
FAQ: Doesn’t Blogging Take Lots of Time?
Time is a consideration that you do need to put some thought into.
There are literally thousands-upon-thousands of blogs on the web that people have started and then abandoned due to the time involved in publishing fresh content.
So, it is wise to think about the time investment now, and how much you can dedicate to blogging each week or each month.
I do want to stress, once you’ve published a handful of posts, you will start to develop your own writing system. The more you write, the easier it gets, and the time involved can be reduced.
The easiest way to manage this is to create a content schedule and stick to it.
Maybe your current commitments will only allow you to post once a week, that’s fine, just try to keep to that schedule so it becomes a routine (a content publishing schedule is especially important for business pages or if you wish to make money from your blog).
If you have periods of time where you think you won’t be able to put in the time, you can allow guest bloggers to write content for your site, or outsource the writing to a freelancer, hire a college student or university student, or work with an outsourcing service.
Here are some useful links:
FAQ: How much does it cost to start a blog in 2018?
The short answer, it doesn’t cost much at all to start a blog!
If like me, you like to buy yourself a cup of coffee here and there over a month, or maybe you like to grab your lunch from a deli or fast food joint, just skipping one visit in a 30 day period could pay for your hosting account each month.
Yearly domain registrations can be ridiculously cheap too, you might just need to get creative with choosing a blog name that is available.
If you are consistent at creating good content for your readers, you will easily earn this cost back through increased sales of your products or services, or by promoting affiliate products and earning commissions.
FAQ: What blogging platform should I use?
Disclaimer – I am an avid WordPress fan and I recommend it to anyone who cares to listen. I do this because I truly believe it to be the most versatile and user-friendly platform on the market that gives you complete control over your site.
Having a site that is easy to customise is the best option for most businesses and individuals that want to make money from their blog.
WordPress allows you to quickly and instantly change the look and feel of your site with the use of themes. You can install free themes or purchase premium themes from places like Theme Forest, Tesla Themes, Studio Press, and Elegant Themes.
Here are a few examples of themes that completely change the way the site is used.
Bello Directory and Listing Theme
Bello is a directory and listing theme. Installing a theme like Bello allows you to create a directory that can be quite broad or super niche focused.
Reality Real Estate Theme
Reality is a real estate theme. The theme allows people to list properties for rent or sale.
Alis Wedding Theme
Alis is a wedding theme. This is an amazing way to create an online hub for your guests, ready for your big day. You can quickly add all the important information such as venue, times, dress codes, etc.
When the wedding is over, you will have a nice archive of your big day that you can visit over-and-over.
Lezada Store Theme
Building a blog with a store attached has never been easier, whether you want to sell your very own digital products, such as eBooks, video tutorials, etc, or you decide to start selling physical goods, WooCommerce is one of the best solutions out there.
Eskimo Blogging Theme
Eskimo is a blog theme where the emphasis is placed on the bloggers writing. That being said, it is more than just a conventional blogging theme with the addition of a store section that is powered by WooCommerce.
Again, if you are a blogger with a vision of selling your own products in the future, WooCommerce and themes such as Eskimo make it extremely easy to get started.
In the majority of cases, I will choose a premium theme over a free theme. I like having access to premium level support, and this will come in very handy if you are new to WordPress and start to dig deep into theme customisation.
WordPress also gives you the power to quickly add a whole range of functionality to your blog by using plugins.
You can access a wealth of free plugins from the WordPress.org Plugins Directory or you can find and purchase premium plugins from various places online.
I prefer premium plugins as they usually have amazing support and continue to be updated; this helps future-proof your site as WordPress gets an update.
A great place to find premium WordPress plugins is CodeCanyon.
Here are a few examples of plugins that add amazing functionality to your blog.
Monarch is a social sharing and social follow plugin that adds a plethora of social networks to your site. This allows your visitors to follow your social profiles and to share your content across their social channels with social buttons that are responsive (adapt to fit the display of the visitor’s screen size).
Amelia Appointment Booking Plugin
Here is another great example of the amazing functionality that a plugin can add to your WordPress site.
Amelia is a booking app that can be used to allow clients to book appointments for client facing services.
Cryptocurrency Exchange Lists Pro
The Cryptocurrency Exchange Lists Pro plugin creates a list of 200+ best cryptocurrency exchanges by using crypto markets API data provided by coinexchangeprice.com public API.
The plugin shows trading volume, Alexa rank, market pairs, and much more.
As you can see, there are a huge range of plugins that can add any type of functionality to your site.
Before we get to the main point of this post, I want to quickly share with you another amazing feature that I love about WordPress that is perfect for the non-techie type.
WordPress Theme Builders
There are a few builders on the market and they operate in similar ways. One of the easiest builders to use is Divi. Divi comes in two flavours – the Divi Theme and The Divi Builder plugin. They function in the same way except that the plugin allows you to use the Divi Builder with any WordPress theme.
Here is the Divi Theme in action. As you can see, everything can be edited live on the frontend of the site.
You can instantly see the changes you make. For this reason, Divi is a very powerful tool and one that gets a massive thumbs up from me. Noteworthy alternatives to Divi include:
Elementor (free and pro upgrade)
Site Origin Page Builder (free)
If you are still debating whether WordPress is for you, take the time to explore the alternatives below.
What are the alternatives to WordPress.org?
Like I have said above, I highly recommend a self-hosted WordPress site in the majority of cases, but it is important to know what your options are before committing to any platform.
Take a look at these popular alternatives.
Free / Starting from £36 PA
Free / Starting at £5 PM for Starter package
Free / Starting from £3 PM to connect domain
Free / Limited Customisation
Free Trial / Starting from £10 PM
Free / Limited Customisation
Right, with that out of the way, let’s get started and set up your very own blog.
The 7 steps to start a blog
Now we have covered what a blog is and what to blog about, let’s get our site up and running by following these steps.
1. Pick a blog name and purchase the domain
NOTE: If you want to purchase your domain name directly from your hosting provider then you can skip this step and go straight to number 2.
I personally use NameCheap for the majority of my domain purchases, I then keep hosting separate to domain name registration.
I do this just in case I ever have difficulties with a hosting provider, then I can quickly move to a new host, log in to NameCheap and point my domain to the new host account in no time at all.
The choice is yours!
If you really want to start a blog and do not have a business, you may be wondering what to blog about.
Your life is unique to you, and you will have had your trials and tribulations that you can share with others.
Here are some questions to guide you through the process of finding a topic and then choosing a suitable name:
What hobbies do you have?
Hobbies are a great way to get started with blogging because you are sharing your knowledge on a particular subject.
It doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner in your hobby of choice, you can write about your journey, how you got started, what products were a waste of money, what products were a good purchase, etc. Remember, even as a beginner, you will have more knowledge than someone who is yet to start the hobby.
Will it be a personal blog or company blog?
How you approach your writing as a personal blogger may be very different from how you write for a company blog. If it is your company then it may be less restrictive but a company you work for will usually have guidance on how to write for them.
That being said, a company blog can be entertaining and fun, but the content you publish should always align with the vision and goals of the brand.
Remember, a blog doesn’t have to stay what it started out as – just as you grow and change in life, your blog can change direction with you.
Choosing a blog name
Now you have an idea what topic you will be concentrating on, you have some choices to make:
- Do you want a descriptive name that tells people exactly what your blog is about?
- Do you want a catchy name that is brandable?
- Do you want to use your own name and become your brand?
- Do you want to use a mixture of the above?
No matter what you do decide, do not use a trading name or trademark of another company. You may find yourself in hot water and have to spend a lot of time building up links and traffic to a new domain – it just isn’t worth it.
For example, with the growth of WordPress, lots of blogs and service sites shot up that used the term WordPress in their URL. The correct way that WordPress allows fans of the site to reference them in their titles is to use the term WP instead.
KWFinder is a keyword research tool. Keyword research is something that you will want to get to grips with once your blog is up-and-running, especially if your aim is to rank in the search engines and to make money from your site. KWFinder is free to use.
If find a domain that you like on FreshDrop, then go ahead and bid on the domain. You can often get great domain names at a good price, especially considering the domains often come with positive ranking factors.
If you want to go with a name that is totally unique, try to stick with one that is memorable and easy to spell. Names such as Wix, Weebly, and DropBox, do not instantly tell you what these brands are about, but they are easy to remember and great for branding.
Returning to my main source for registering a domain, head on over to NameCheap and click on the bulk search feature.
This will allow you to type in different versions of the keywords that interest you and choose the TLD (top-level domain) extension that matter to you – this is a massive time-saver.
Once you find a domain, add it to your basket and go through the checkout process.
I recommend getting a .com in the majority of cases and .co.uk if you are in the UK.
If both are available, then purchase them both and redirect one to the other.
As soon as you’ve gone through the checkout process, you have successfully purchased your domain.
Now you have a domain, it is time to set-up your hosting account.
2. Register for a Hosting Account
A hosting account is where your website files live for people to access when they type in your domain name.
As you are just starting out, I am going to assume that you want to keep costs to a minimum. The best way to do that is to purchase a basic hosting account package and then upgrade as your site grows and you start generating some real income.
Now, if you skipped step 1 above so you can purchase your domain along with your hosting, then be sure to add a domain to your cart during the checkout process.
Head over to SiteGround and look at the best hosting packages that are available to you.
To lock in any special deals that are available, the longer the term you choose, the greater the savings will be (choose 3 years for the greatest savings)
So, why do I recommend SiteGround so highly?
Seriously, if your website goes down in the middle of the night and you need someone to help you get it back online, then you’ll want a hosting provider that has your back. SiteGround offer 24/7 support through email and live-chat, and they have helped me out of some real sticky situations, above and beyond other companies I have used in the past.
Customer support aside, they also provide you with:
- 99.999% uptime (meaning your website is rarely ever going to be offline)
- WordPress autoinstaller (Quick and Easy WordPress Installation)
- WordPress autoupdater (great security feature)
- SuperCacher (speeds up your site)
- An admin area that is intuitive to navigate and easy to use (great for managing your site)
- 30 days money back guarantee
- Free auot daily backups (another life saver)
- Free SSLs and HTTP/2
- Unlimited MySQL databases
- Free email accounts
- Plus many more features
Head on over to SiteGround and compete the registration process.
Now you have done that, let me congratulate you on setting up your hosting account. If you purchased your domain with your hosting account, then you can jump ahead to step 4.
If you purchased your domain from NameCheap or another domain registrar, then we need to point your DNS (domain name servers) to your hosting account.
Don’t worry, it sounds more technical than it really is, and the steps will be similar no matter where you registered your domain.
3. Point Your DNS to Host
To point your DNS to host, you need to obtain your domain name server information from within your cPanel dashboard within your hosting account.
You may even have the details sent to you in your ‘welcome‘ email from SiteGround so be sure to check your email inbox.
Go to SiteGround and login. When you arrive in your account, you will need to click on where it says ‘My Accounts‘ and then click on ‘Go to cPanel‘.
Inside your cPanel account, your domain name servers are displayed to the top left of the page.
Grab that information and head back to NameCheap.
Under ‘Account‘, click on ‘Domain List‘ (you may have to login at this point).
You will be taken to a page that lists all of your registered domains. If you are just starting out, you will probably only have one or two domains listed here.
Click where it says ‘Manage‘ next to the domain you want to point to your hosting account.
Now, under the section ‘Nameservers‘, click on the dropdown arrow and select ‘Custom DNS‘.
Enter your DNS details. Make sure you click the ‘tick‘ to confirm your changes.
If you get stuck, just follow the example below.
Now we can get to the fun stuff. Installing WordPress.
4. Install WordPress
To install WordPress in the easiest possible way, you simply need to login to your SiteGround account.
Head on over to cPanel again, and this time, locate the icon that says ‘WordPress‘ or ‘WordPress Installer‘.
On the next page, you will be able to select the type of install you want, ‘Quick Install‘, ‘Custom‘, and the typical ‘Install‘.
Click on ‘Install‘ and then fill out your details.
1 – Select from ‘http://‘, ‘https://‘, ‘http://www’, or ‘https://www’ for your domain.
Although all will point to the same domain, until you tell Google which one is your preferred domain (canonical URL), they will be treated as different sites.
You can also create redirects in your cPanel account (ask the team at SiteGround to help you if you get stuck on this – they will be happy to help).
If you have signed-up with SiteGround, you will be able to add a free SSL certificate to your domain from Let’s Encrypt.
That is what the (s) in https:// is identifying – a secure site. You can identify secure sites by the padlock in the corner of the address bar.
Again, ask the team at SiteGround to help you add the SSL encryption and they will ensure your site redirects to the https:// version of your site.
Choosing www or non-www comes down to personal preference.
If you are just starting out and not sure which one to choose, www is probably the best option for you as this is what people typically type in the browser address bar.
You can read more about it here – choosing between www and non-www URLs.
2 – Select your domain from the list (there will probably only be one domain listed here in your case unless you purchased extra when signing up).
3 – Write your site title here – this is typically your business name or domain name. So, in my case, I would put DKP Marketing in this section.
4 – A description about your site goes here. This isn’t fixed so don’t spend too much time thinking about it, you can easily change it inside your WordPress admin area after installation.
5 – Add your username here. You’ll need this to login to your site. Avoid generic usernames such as ‘admin’ as these are easy for hackers to guess.
6 – Create an admin password that is difficult to guess or crack with automated password guessing software.
I use LastPass to manage my passwords and this allows me to create complex passwords, and I can login to my sites with a click of a button.
7 – Add you admin email address. You can use a regular gmail address here but if you need a domain email for your business then you can quickly do this in your cPanel on SiteGround.
If you need to setup your email, then let’s do this now.
Open a new browser tab and head to your cPanel area.
Once inside your cPanel area, click on ‘Email Accounts‘.
Choose the email you want for your domain, add a password, and then click on ‘Create Account‘.
To access your email on the server you will scroll down the page where you created your email address and either click on ‘Access Webmail‘ or ‘Configure Email Client‘.
Now with your email sorted, let’s return to installing WordPress.
Still on the installation page, you will see these installation options. 1 – Choose your site language.
2 – Select these to include pre-installed plugins. I typically don’t choose to have any plugins installed this way.
3 – Choose a Theme to install. I leave this as is. WordPress will be installed with the default theme activated.
4 – This is your database name. You can change this so it makes it harder to identify that you are using a WordPress site for better security.
5 – This is your table prefix. Again, you can change this so it makes it harder to identify that you are using a WordPress site.
6 – I leave the ‘Backup Location‘ to ‘Default‘.
7 – Click on ‘Install‘ and watch the magic happen.
Now you have installed WordPress, simply visit the link given to you or add /wp-admin to the end of your domain url to login into your site. Example: www.yoursite.com/wp-admin
This will take you to your WordPress admin dashboard.
Congratulations, you’ve now installed WordPress. Let’s now add a theme.
5. Install a Theme
You have three options here.
Use the pre-installed theme. Install a free theme from the WordPress.org theme directory.
Or, purchase a Premium Theme.
I’ll quickly show you how to add a free theme first.
How to Install a Free WordPress Theme
Inside your WordPress admin dashboard, locate ‘Appearance‘ and click on ‘Themes‘.
Now click on ‘Add New‘.
Now you have a few ways of searching for a theme.
1 – Click on ‘Featured‘, ‘Popular‘, ‘Latest‘, or ‘Favourites‘ to see the different themes that are available.
2 – This is a pre-installed theme, if you like this one, click on ‘Activate‘ for the theme to be applied to your site.
3 – Click on ‘Feature Filter‘ to narrow down your search based on your pre-selected criteria.
Simply click the checkboxes of the filters that will be suitable for your needs.
Now click on ‘Apply Filters‘
If you cannot find a theme you like, then start a new search.
If you do like a theme, you can click on (1) ‘Install‘ to install the theme, and (2) ‘Preview‘ to see what it would look like on your site.
If you are previewing a theme, it may not look exactly how it does in the ‘theme thumbnail image‘ due to your site not being configured for the theme or having any content yet.
Some free themes lack any real guidance on how to configure them to look like the theme demo.
Premium themes always come with full installation details and support – sometimes they even include demo content that you can click and install to get the site to look exactly the same as the theme demo, all in a matter of seconds.
I personally, only ever work with premium themes when I start a blog for this reason.
That’s it, you now have a new theme installed. Let’s do the same again but with a Premium theme.
How to Install a Premium WordPress theme
Here are some links to the some of the best Premium themes around.
Choose the one that is right for you and your situation, and then the installation process will typically be the same.
It involves you downloading your theme to your desktop, and then uploading the theme zip file through your WordPress admin dashboard. You can also use FTP but that is a more complex way of doing things, and I want to get you up and running with your new site as quickly as possible.
Here are the links:
StudioPress (includes the Genesis Framework)
Here are 5 of the top themes on Theme Forest:
Most premium theme platforms operate in the same way, you login to your members dashboard and download the files you need for your site.
For this walk-through, I’m going to use The7 theme published on Theme Forest.
If you wish to purchase a theme from Theme Forest, then you can follow along as the process will be exactly the same. If you purchase from somewhere else, the process will be similar, especially when you get to downloading the theme .zip file from your theme provider.
Head to your account section and find the ‘Downloads‘ link.
You will see a list of all your downloadable purchases.
Click on the big ‘Download‘ button next to the theme you have purchased. You will then see a dropdown with a few options.
If you download all files and documentation, you will need to use a zip utility to unzip the zip file (click here to download the free 7zip) – most computers have an unzip function built in.
Inside the first zip file, you will find documentation for setting up your theme, and the actual theme zip file that you’ll need to upload to your site.
Some themes come with a theme file and a child theme file. The process is the same except you will upload the parent theme first and then the child theme. You activate the child theme after installation.
A child theme allows you to make edits to your site and it won’t be overwritten if the author updates his theme, such as creating custom functions or custom CSS. Read more about child themes.
Because I am using Chrome, when I click on ‘Installable WordPress file only‘, the file instantly downloads to a folder I have on my desktop. Download the theme to an easy to find location – the desktop being a logical place.
When using Chrome, the download can be seen in the bottom left corner of the browser.
You don’t need to unzip the file as WordPress will unpack the theme for you when you upload it.
Now, to upload the theme, head back to your WordPress admin area, and locate ‘Appearance‘ and then ‘Themes‘.
Click on the ‘Add New‘ button at the top of the page.
Click where it says ‘Upload Theme‘.
Locate your theme zip file and click on it so that it is selected for upload. Now click on ‘Open‘.
The theme file will now unzip and you will see a progress screen. You will see a ‘Theme installed successfully‘ message and options to see ‘Live Preview‘ the theme, ‘Activate‘ the theme, or to ‘Return to Themes page‘.
Click on Activate theme. Most themes come with there own options for updating the sites overall design. In the example of The7, the theme creates a dedicated section to managing the theme inside the WordPress admin dashboard.
If you do not see any theme options at all, then the sites design, layouts, menus, widget areas, etc., will be managed by the ‘Customizer‘.
You can locate the customizer by going to ‘Appearance‘ and clicking on ‘Customize‘. You’ll then be taken to a page full of theme options. Some themes have more options here than others.
That’s it, you have installed WordPress and added a theme.
Now we have successfully installed a free theme and a premium theme to our blog, it is time to install some plugins.
Note: you can have more than one theme installed on WordPress powered sites, only one theme will be active at a time.
6. Install a Plugin
Installing plugins is very similar to installing a themes. You can install free plugins directly from within the WordPress admin dashboard. Premium plugins typically have to be installed by downloading theme from the plugin authors page and then uploading them into your theme as a zip file.
Let’s start with the free plugins over at WordPress.org plugin directory.
Installing plugins is very similar to installing themes. You can install free plugins directly from within the WordPress admin dashboard.
Premium plugins typically have to be installed by downloading them from the plugin authors page and then uploading them into your theme as a zip file.
Install a free Plugin
Let’s start with the free plugins over at WordPress.org plugin directory.
You can search all of the available free plugins from directly within your WordPress dashboard.
Simply go to your blog and visit the WordPress dashboard. Locate ‘Plugins‘ and click on ‘Add New‘.
You will be presented with page that allows you to search by different criteria.
1 – Click on ‘Featured‘, ‘Popular‘, ‘Recommended‘, or ‘Favourites‘ to change the plugins that are displayed.
2 – This is a pre-installed plugin that is currently not active. Click ‘Activate‘ if you want to use this plugin.
3 – Jetpack by WordPress.com is already installed and shown to be ‘Active‘ on the site.
4 – Click ‘More Details‘ to learn more about what the plugin does, etc.
5 – Click ‘Install Now‘ to install a plugin that you want to use.
6 – This shows you when a plugin was last updated and whether it is compatible with your version of WordPress.
7 – Review ratings and the number active installations.
Try to stick with popular plugins as they tend to be supported. A lot of great plugins have appeared on the directory and support for them has stopped.
You will find lots of plugins that haven’t been updated for years (that is why I tend to go for premium plugins). In this example, I am searching for an SEO plugin.
Type your keyword (search term) in the search bar and pres ‘Enter‘ on your keyboard.
I’m going to click ‘Install Now‘ to install the popular Yoast SEO plugin.
You’ll see that the plugin is ‘Installing‘.
When installing is complete, you will be redirected to your plugin page and see a ‘Plugin activated‘ confirmation message.
Now, depending on what the plugin does and how it has been created, you will have a ‘settings‘ page for the plugin in your WordPress dashboard.
That’s it! You’ve installed a free WordPress plugin.
Now let’s move on to installing a premium WordPress plugin.
Install a Premium Plugin
Where ThemeForest deals with website templates, CodeCanyon is a market place for plugins and other website code.
Just like with the premium theme walk-though above, if you purchase a premium plugin from any provider, you will generally have a downloads page where you can download your purchased plugin.
Although I am using CodeCanyon for illustration purposes, the steps will be very similar no matter where you purchased your premium plugin from.
Head on over to CodeCanyon and go to your ‘Downloads‘ to access your purchases.
You’ll be taken to a page with all your purchases on. Click on ‘Installable WordPress file only‘. This will download just the required zip file.
I have downloaded my file to a ‘Plugins‘ folder on my desktop.
Download your file to somewhere easy to locate. Head on back to your WordPress dashboard and go to ‘Plugins‘, and then, ‘Add New‘.
Now, click on ‘Upload Plugin‘.
You will then click on ‘Choose File‘.
Access the zip folder on your desktop (or the location where you saved it).
1 – Select the plugin zip folder.
2 – Click on ‘Open‘ to upload the zip file to your WordPress site.
Now click on ‘Install Now‘.
WordPress will unzip the plugin files to your server.
Now, click on the ‘Activate Plugin‘ button.
Depending on the plugin you are installing, you will either be redirected to the your plugins page or the settings page for your premium plugin.
In this case, I am redirected to the Premium SEO Pack plugin settings page.
Well done, you have now installed a premium WordPress plugin.
Now let’s add our first post.
7. Publish your content
Pages and posts can be created in similar ways. Click on Pages, ‘Add New‘ to create a page.
As we are using our site in the traditional blog format, we will select ‘Posts‘, ‘Add New‘.
You will find the ‘Posts‘ and ‘Add New‘ located to the side and at the top of your WordPress dashboard.
You can also quickly create a new post by going to ‘New‘ and then ‘Post‘ on the navigation bar at the top of the WordPress admin dashboard.
Click on ‘Post‘ or ‘Add New‘. The WordPress post editor, a semi-WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) content editor, will load and you will see a page with lots of options. I won’t cover them all here, but you can learn more about the visual editor by reading this post – using the Visual Editor.
1 – This is your post title.
2 – This is where you write your content.
3 – This is your permalink to your post.
This is the URL that you would send visitors to, when your post is published, for them to read your content.
As you write your post, click ‘Save Draft‘ to save it for future editing and to avoid losing any content that you have written so far.
Click on ‘Preview‘ to see the post and how it will look to your visitors on the frontend of your site.
When you are done, click ‘Publish‘ to make the post go ‘live‘ on your site for all to see.
Well done, you have published your first post on your new blog.
How to Start a Blog Video Tutorial
The video is just over 30 minutes long, so make sure you have a coffee, or your favourite beverage to hand before you start.
Once you know the whole process, you will be able to setup everything you need to start a blog in literally 15 minutes – the video runs longer due to the detailed instruction.
I have tried to be as thorough as I can be in the video, but there is more information in the article than the video due to keeping time as low as possible. Enjoy!
Here are some quick bonuses for you for making it this far.
1 – Permalink Structure
Change your permalink settings to /%postname%/ for added SEO benefit.
Now either click on ‘Postname‘ or copy the the whole of /%postname%/ and paste it into the ‘Custom Structure‘ section exactly how it is written there.
This will remove the numbers (in this case, the date) from the default URL structure and be a nicer looking, SEO friendly URL.
After you have saved the new permalink structure, your permalink should now look like this.
Doesn’t that look better! You can read more about permalinks here – Settings Permalinks Screen.
2 – All About the Plugins
To add the best functionality to your site there are a few plugins that I always go to when building a site.
Yes, they are premium plugins, but I am yet to find free plugins that are as heavily supported, as regularly updated, and come with stellar customer support.
eForm WordPress Form Builder
There are a lot of form builders on WordPress and I have, pretty much, used the majority of them. None give me the control over my forms in quite the same way as eForm WordPress Form Builder does.
Using eForms, you can build contact forms, quizzes, surveys, data collection, payment / cost estimation and user feedback forms of all kinds.
The plugin gives you access to pre-built form templates for you to adapt, or you can build your own forms from scratch with the simple drag and drop interface.
PayPal, Stripe, WooCommerce and Authorize.Net, all integrate easily with eForms, so you’ll be able to collect payments and add people to your email autoresponder. Whenever I start a blog, I always use eForms as my main contact form, and you can see it in action on this site on the request a quote page.
Go here now to get your copy of eForm WordPress Form Builder.
Ultimate Author Box
Ultimate Author Box is a responsive post / article author section plugin for WordPress.
One thing that most popular blogs have in common is an author box at the top or bottom of the post, with a brief author bio, and often some links to social profiles.
Ultimate Author Box comes complete with:
- 15+ pre-designed templates
- Author post
- Social media feeds
- Custom tabs
- Pop-up display
- Unlimited color schemes
- Author box post customisation.
Let your readers discover who you are by adding the Ultimate Author Box plugin to your website.
Bloom is an email opt-in and lead generation plugin for WordPress. Bloom makes it super easy to convert your visitors into loyal subscribers.
What I love about Bloom, is the ability to pick from different display types. These are:
- Automatic opt-in pop-up
- Automatic opt-in fly-ins
- Inline opt-in forms (place an opt-in form in the middle of your blog articles)
- Below content opt-in forms (have an opt-in form below your blog posts)
- Widget area opt-in forms (great for sidebar opt-ins)
- Require opt-in to unlock content (perfect for your best content)
Bloom has lots of customisation options and over 100 pre-made templates, so you can build your email list straight away.
Join Elegant Themes now to download the Bloom plugin + you’ll get access to Monarch and the Divi Builder as part of your membership.
Monarch is, in my opinion, the best social media sharing plugin for WordPress.
The plugin looks beautiful compared to some social sharing plugins that are available.
The plugin looks beautiful compared to some social sharing plugins that are available.
With Monarch, you get over 20 social sharing networks to display on your website, choose as little or as many as you like. You can easily add and remove available networks to create a custom collection of sharing options that are right for you visitors.
Monarch allows you to add sharing buttons in 5 different locations on your blog and includes:
- A floating sidebar
- Above and / or below your content
- On images and videos
- Automatic pop-up
- Automatic fly-in
You can even use 6 automatic pop-up and fly-in triggers. This allows you to capture your visitors attention when they are most engaged with your content, or when they are most in danger of leaving your page.
The triggers include:
- Timed delay
- Bottom of post
- After commenting
- Upon % scroll
- After purchasing
- After inactivity
Not only does Monarch give you the ability to get social shares for your content, the plugin allows you to choose from over 35 social networks so that you can build your following.
Place your follow buttons in any widget area on your blog or use the provided shortcodes to display where you want the buttons to show up.
Join Elegant Themes now to download the Monarch plugin and you’ll get access to Bloom and the Divi Builder as part of your membership.
The SEO Framework
The SEO Framework is, in my opinion, the best SEO plugin for WordPress.
Yes, there are popular, long-standing alternatives to The SEO Framework, but I find the plugin to be bloat free and refreshingly straight-forward to use.
A good SEO plugin makes it easier to add the important SEO elements to your WordPress webpages, such as Title tags and meta descriptions, etc.
- The SEO Framework plugin is very powerful and:
- Improve search presence by ranking your website distinctively.
- Is preconfigured, providing a suitable starting point for most websites.
- Allows you to adjust the SEO through global options.
- Allows you to SEO every public page, post, taxonomy, and term.
- Shows you how to improve SEO with a beautiful SEO bar.
- Helps your pages get shared more beautifully through Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites.
- Supports custom post types, like WooCommerce and bbPress.
- Allows for easy SEO plugin switch using a tool.
Plus the plugin includes these completely automated features by default:
- Titles according to your settings with archive prefixes.
- Descriptions with anti-spam techniques and detection that informs you when it can be improved.
- A canonical URL to prevent duplicated content; with full “domain mapping”, subdomain, and HTTPS support.
- Various Open Graph, Facebook and Twitter tags.
- Special Open Graph descriptions, which organically integrates within the Facebook and Twitter snippets.
- Open Graph images, they are automatically resized and optimized when needed.
- Structured Data for Google Search and Chromium that adds extended on-site search support.
- Structured Data for Google’s Knowledge Graph; like Personal/Business site relations, names, and logos.
- Structured Data for Breadcrumbs that extend pages and categories relationship support in Google Search.
- and so much more.
The SEO Framework is a free plugin that has premium plugin upgrades.
If you plan on creating blogs or websites for other people. Envato Elements really is a great resource to have.
3. Images and Video
Writing great content that people want to share will be massively enhanced by adding images and video to your posts.
Without images, your posts will just look like a lot of text. Images draw the eye of the reader and bring your words to life.
After all, they say a picture is worth a 1000 words. You will notice that I have used animated images (gifs) to highlight how to do things in this article, and I have put together a video walk-through too. You really don’t need any expensive software to be able to do this either, and it is so straight-forward, you will kick yourself that you weren’t doing this sooner.
Grab yourself a copy of Screencast-O-Matic and you will be able to do the same as me (it’s free with limitations) and the pro plan is ridiculously cheap compared to other products on the market.
They have lots of tutorial videos so you will be editing clips like a pro in no time.
NOTE: To take your videos to the next level I highly recommend investing in a decent microphone for enhanced sound quality.
A great one to get you started is the CAD Audio U37 USB Studio Condenser Recording Microphone.
If you have the budget or are ready to upgade, then get yourself the Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone.
Video Explainers, Intros, Outros, and more
Along with creating your own videos, if your blog grows to the point where you are offering a product or service, then creating explainer videos is a great sales promotional tool. An explainer is, essentially, an introduction to your product and service and highlights what it can do for your customers.
This has a learning curve attached, but Adobe have lots of helpful videos and the you will be able to create some of the best explainer videos on the market.
That being said, an alternative online solution, and one that is beginner friendly, and my go to resource is the spectacular Renderforest.
To get started making videos, you sign-up for a free account, then start creating your amazing videos like my one below.
The video is yours free to download with the Renderforest watermark or you can pay a small fee to have the watermark removed.
With Renderforest, your video creation can really come alive. You can quickly and easily create:
- Intro Videos
- Explainer Animations
- Product Promotions
- Serice Promotions
- Logo Animations
- Slideshow Videos
You’ll also have access to:
- More than 400 video templates
- An easy to use video editor
- Your own dashboard with all your projects inside
- 115.000+ HD royalty free stock footages
- 10000s of animated scenes for your projects
- Ready made stories to speed up your video creation
- A wide range of commercial music tracks
Plus, you can publish to YouTube or Facebook with 1 click.
Here is the link again, free to sign-up so go there now.
Other Sites for Images and Videos
You can never have enough resources saved in your bookmarks for quick access, and here are some of the best resources from mine.
Unsplash – images
Pexels – images and videos
Stock Footage For Free – videos
Pixabay – images and videos
Coverr – videos
Done for You Services
Sites for for Creating Video, Social Banner Creators, Blog Post Image Makers, eBook Covers, and more
Canva – free and paid – images
Stencil – free – 10 images per month, $9 for 50 images per month, and $12 for unlimited images
Snappa – free for 5 downloads a month, $10 per month for a pro account with unlimited downloads Animaker – free account and paid account options available – great for quickly making explainer videos
Adobe Spark – free to use and premium accounts start at £10.10 a month – great for video explainers
Typito free sign-up and $5 to remove branding per video, plus, get $10 in credit when you register for a free account – brilliant for creating video explainers
Lumen5 – free video creator with paid account upgrades
Bitable – free video creator and paid account upgrades I think that is plenty of resources to get you started.
4. Learn to Write Great Content that Converts to Sales and Leads
The whole point in investing in a domain name, hosting and premium themes and plugins, is to make some money online, or you are just flushing money down the drain.
One of the best things you can learn is how to create content that converts readers into subscribers, and subscribers into buyers.
You’ll want your visitors to click on your affiliate links with great pre-sales content that encourages them to click through and purchase the product, so they too can achieve the success they are looking for.
That is where Blog Writer’s Bootcamp will take your writing to the next level.
Learning to write great headlines and hypnotic sales text that converts your visitors into subscribers, and your subscribers into buyers, is a skill worth investing in.
Here is an example of a headline that is crafted to generate interest:
Just by reading the headline, you can see the power in knowing and understanding copywriting.
Now, you will have to create a post or a product that delivers on what your headline says.
Good copywriting will get your posts read, your emails opened, and your links clicked.
The program may be a little pricey if you are just starting out, but it really is a wise investment in yourself that will pay you back for life. Here is the link again:
5. Logo Maker
As your blog grows and becomes a recognisable brand asset, your logo will become an important symbol of your business.
If you are turning out great content, provide great products or a great service, your logo will be a marker of trust to your readers and customers.
When you are getting started, a text logo will suffice, especially if you are on a restrictive budget.
That being said, when you are ready to put some money into your logo, then there a few a options open to you.
Create a free logo using the free Logotype Maker – free logo – paid options include a whole range of options and features
Create a beautiful logo with Logojoy – paid options only
Congratulations, you’ve made it this far.
If you have followed along, and taken action, you will have purchased a domain name, registered for a hosting account, pointed DNS to host, installed WordPress, installed a theme, and installed some plugins.
You have discovered how to start a blog in 2018 that should see you blogging well into the future.
Be sure to tell me about the blog you create in the comments section below. What plugins did you end up using? What theme did you go for and why?
I can’t wait to read what you have to say and to see the start of your journey.