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 you don’t really have much control over your own site.
With WordPress, you get the best of both worlds: an easy-to-understand platform and unlimited features that allow you 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’re run by the same company, but WordPress.com is a service that hosts your blog for you, just like Blogger, Tumblr, and other third-party sites. These are often called Web 2.0 sites. There is nothing wrong with creating your blog in this way, but it does limit you in some way.
When you use WordPress.com or any Web 2.0 site, you do not own the blog. You are simply renting space on it. This means that the host can delete your blog at any time. This happens if you are deemed to have violated any TOS (terms of service). It’s surprisingly easy to do this, even without meaning to.
For example, WordPress.com does not allow you to market your blog in any way. So if you want to start a business or even make a few extra bucks each month, this is not the way to go.
Another reason why WordPress.com and other sites like it aren’t ideal is that you’ll have a harder time with SEO and traffic generation than if you owned the blog. This is because most of the “link juice” generated by your article will go to the host rather than to your specific site.
That’s why WordPress.org is what I’m going to focus on here. This is when you buy a domain, get hosting, and start your own blog.
Choosing a domain and web server
Your domain is your URL, the address of your website or blog. If you haven’t chosen one yet, you’ll need to do this first. If you don’t have web hosting either, you’ll need this as well. You can combine them if you want. 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 this, you can go with WP Engine, a company that specializes in WordPress. However, they are a bit more expensive than most web hosts.
If you want to save money, you can still find a good web host that supports your WordPress site. Bluehost, for example, is highly recommended for this. They are even recommended by WordPress itself.
One suggestion I’ll make here is that regardless of which web host you choose, try to pick a plan that gives you unlimited domains/websites. Sometimes a host will offer several different plans. The price difference is usually a few dollars a month.
The point is that 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 searching for information.
If your domain is something like Bobsblog.com or Marysblog.com, it will have a custom name but not one that is likely to help you with SEO (search engine optimization). This is of particular importance if you intend to sell something. If you just want a blog to share with your friends, family, co-workers, etc. then it is not important.
How to install WordPress
Installing WordPress is quite easy with most major web hosting companies. Typically, you use a scripted installer like Fantastico or Softaculous (your web host probably has one of these – look in your control panel). You can then install WordPress in a few clicks.
I don’t want to waste too much space here describing the steps to install WordPress, because you can find it from your web hosting company. There are also numerous articles and videos on this topic.
What should I blog about?
This doesn’t seem to be a problem, but many people experience “blogger block” after writing a post or two. I assume you have already chosen your topic. After all, if you can’t even think of a topic, it’s not a good time to start a blog yet!
But even when you have a topic that interests you, it can be challenging to think of actual posts to write about. For this, you may need to do some research to get inspired. Here are some ideas.
- Set Google Alerts -You can receive emails from Google that will send news to your inbox based on some keywords you choose.
- Amazon -Check out which books are popular. Also check out their magazine section!
- other blogs -Check Google blogs and see what others in your niche are writing about. You don’t want to copy them, but you may get ideas that you can put your own spin on.
- Offline books and magazines -Go to the library, bookstore and magazine section of Barnes & Noble (or wherever they sell magazines). Read newspapers. All of these are excellent sources of ideas.
- Constancy is the key to success
If you have a blog, you have to write blog posts! This really is the most important “secret” to having a successful blog, believe it or not. You hear a lot these days about “quality content”, which is of course important.
If you’re populating your blog with auto-generated or threaded content (if you don’t know what that is, don’t worry, you’re better off!) you won’t get very far. Search engines are quick to recognize this as low-quality content. However, you have to generate posts regularly.
Forgetting search engines for a moment, when a visitor sees that a blog hasn’t been updated in months, they’re likely to conclude that it’s not very active or relevant. You probably do the same thing when you search for new sites online.
Search engines also love blogs that are frequently updated. It also gives you more content to get indexed. Let’s say a few words about SEO, as long as we’re on that topic.
The vast universe of WordPress plugins
Once you get familiar with WordPress, you may want to start looking at 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, to create forums or membership sites, to place contact forms on your site, and hundreds of other things. Plugins give you the ability to perform many tasks that would otherwise require advanced coding knowledge.
There are so many plugins for WordPress that it would be impossible to keep up with all of them. At first, you may think that you don’t need any plugins, and this is true. However, they are so easy to use that you might as well get your feet wet and install some basics.
You can access plugin settings from your WordPress dashboard.
- Akismet -This antispam plugin is already included when you install WordPress, but you must obtain an API key to activate it. There are instructions on how to do this.
- Google XML Sitemaps -This makes it easier for Google and other search engines to index your posts and pages.
- Total cache W3 -This is a great plugin to help your site load faster and run more efficiently. It does this by caching posts, pages, databases, scripts, and other things that take up space.
- bulletproof security -Helps keep your site safe from attacks. This is important, as hackers often target WordPress sites.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast -Makes it much easier to optimize your site for search engines.
The above is a very abbreviated list of what you can do with plugins. If you have particular needs or ideas for special features for your blog, chances are there is a plugin that can help you achieve this.
WordPress: the perfect place for your blog to evolve
What makes WordPress so amazing for bloggers is that it can help you at any stage of your blogging career. For rank beginners, it makes it easy to set up a basic blog. Advanced users can play around with all the settings and plugins.
However, WordPress is still just a tool. It’s up to you to create awesome content so people have a reason to visit your blog!