Blogging

How to Start a Blog (2020) – Guide to Create Your Own Blog

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In 2020, it’s easier than ever to start a blog.

Even if you are a complete beginner who doesn’t understand anything about coding or web design.

With a little bit of guidance and the right tools, you can have your very own personal or professional blog up and running less than 30-minutes. Writing blog posts can take much longer, though.

We’ll walk you through every part of the process while helping you avoid the common mistakes new bloggers do.

Sounds good? Then let’s dive in and get started.

To Start a blog you need to follow these steps:

STEP 1: Decide: Free Blog or Self-Hosted Blog

The very first thing you need to do is choose whether you are going to build a true, self-hosted blog on your own domain name or a free blog.

We highly recommend going for the “self-hosted” route, as it gives you much more flexibility and control. Having your own domain name like www.YourNewBlog.com will make you look more serious than having a domain like YourNewBlog.FreeBlogService.com

Of course, if you are tight on budget, you can sign up with any free blogging platforms and start testing the waters. Know that your blog will be very limited, will display ads of the blog platform provider and you will have no control over your blog. This means that if it violates the TOS, they can delete your blog.

That’s why we recommend avoiding free blogging services. If you want to look serious and you are willing to be committed, we suggest getting a domain name and web hosting first and then launching your blog – see step 2 below:

STEP 2: Get a Domain And Web Hosting (Self-Hosted Blog)

In order to set up your WordPress (or any other type of website), you’re going to need two things:

  • Domain Name (a web address like YourSiteName.com)
  • Web Hosting (a service that connects your site to the internet)

Where Do I register a Domain Name and Get Web Hosting?

Go to our www.vinkershosting.com and choose a Shared Hosting Package and follow with registering Domain Name. If you’re a startup we recommend to choose the lower package and scale up whenever you want instantly.

Set Up Your Website

Once you’ve bought your domain name and set up your hosting, you’re well on your way!

Now it’s time to get your website up and running. The first thing you’ll need to do is install WordPress to your domain.

STEP 3: Install WordPress

There are two possible ways to install WordPress, one MUCH easier than the other.

1. To create a website with WordPress , use the “one-click installation”:

Almost every reliable and well-established hosting company has integrated 1-click-installation for WordPress, which makes getting going a snap.

If you signed up with Vinkers Hosting or any other similar hosting company, you should find your “1-click-installation” in your account control panel.

Here are the steps you should follow (should be similar/same on all the major web hosting companies):

  1. Log in to your hosting (Vinkers Hosting) Portal.
  2. Go to your control panel.
  3. Look for the “WordPress” icon.
  4. Choose the domain where you want to install your new website.
  5. Click the “Install Now” button and you will get access to your new WordPress website.

2. … OR MANUAL INSTALL (For those who don’t use Vinkers Hosting or any similar host)

If for some odd reason (some hosting companies don’t provide one-click-install for WordPress) you don’t have the option to install WordPress automatically, look this manual guide below:

Installing WordPress Manually

Pssst – if they don’t have 1-click-installation, maybe you’re dealing with a bad host!

STEP 4: Get to Know WordPress And Settings

Once you have your admin account for WordPress all set up (the previous step), you can proceed to visit your new dashboard:

Just go to yourdomain.com/wp-admin and input the access details for your admin account. Once you log in, you’ll see this:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

Even though WordPress is already 100% operational, there are still some settings that you should go through:

(a) General Settings

Start by going to the left sidebar and clicking on Settings → General.

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

This is where you can set:

  • “Site Title” – effectively the name of your site. The title is particularly important since it’s what every visitor sees first, and also a big part of how search engines determine your rankings. Make sure that you have your business name there.
  • “Tagline” – think of it as the summary of what your blog is about, in one short sentence. For example: “Recipes that even a beginner cook can handle.”

In this section, you can also check if your blog address (URL) is in order, set the timezone you’re in and your preferred language.

(b) Visibility in Google

The next, super-important thing that you must do is make sure that search engines such as Google can index your new blog.

To do that, go to Settings → Reading (again, from the main sidebar) and make sure that the field labeled “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” remains unchecked. Like so:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

If you don’t do that, your blog might end up literally invisible to Google.

(c) Permalinks

The “permalinks” settings define how WordPress will go about creating individual URLs – webpage addresses – for each of your individual blog posts or sub-pages. Though the idea might sound a bit advanced, setting this is very simple.

Just go to Settings → Permalinks. Once there, set your permalinks to the “Post name” variant, like so:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

This is the most optimal setting of the ones available and also the one preferred by Google and other search engines.

STEP 5: Choose Your Blog Design (Theme)

Another great thing about WordPress is that even though you might not be a skilled designer yourself, you can still get a top-shelf look for your blog.

How? Thanks to thousands of WordPress themes that are available out there on the web. Best of all, many of them are free, and you can customize them easily (without any coding knowledge).

But let’s start at the beginning. Here’s what your site looks like on the default theme that comes pre-installed with WordPress:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

You can see this design if you simply point your web browser to your main domain name: yourblog.com.

Not too bad, this default design, but we can do better! Here’s how:

Go back to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Appearance → Themes. Once there, click on “Add New”:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

Then, switch the tab to “Popular”:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

What you’re going to see are the most popular free WordPress themes in the market. And the best part is that you can install any of them with just one click.

Go ahead and spend a while browsing through this list to find something that really suits your business and the main purpose behind your new blog.

Once you do see a theme you like, you can get it installed onto your blog by clicking on “install” next to the theme’s name, followed by “activate”.

Note: What you’re doing here is just changing the look of your blog. You’re not erasing any of your content. You can change your themes as often as you want, without having to worry about your pages vanishing.

STEP 6: Customize Your Blog Design And Layout

Even though the WordPress theme that you’ve decided to use already comes with its specific pre-configured design, you can still change parts of it to your liking.

This is all done if you go to Appearance → Customize. What you’ll see is the WordPress Customizer:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

Depending on your current theme, you’ll get a different set of options in the sidebar menu, but the most common ones will include:

  • “Site Identity” – this is where you can set your blog title again, plus add a logo image and a site icon (aka. favicon).
  • “Colors” – for adjusting the basic colors used throughout the design.
  • “Header” – for setting your header graphic or image.
  • “Background” – for setting your background graphic, image, or color.
  • “Menus” – more on this later on.
  • “Widgets” – more on this later on as well.
  • And other, theme-dependent settings.

Let’s start with the first option:

1. Add Logo And Favicon

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

Since you probably already have your site title and tagline set up, what you’re going to be doing here is adding your company logo and favicon. Both are quite easy to do:

To add your logo, just click on the “Select logo” button. On the next screen, WordPress will let you know what sort of graphics are acceptable for logos.

After uploading your logo, you should see it inside the live preview window.

To add your favicon, click on the button labeled “Select image” under the “Site Icon” section:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

The process is quite similar here as well – WordPress will tell you what sort of an image it’s expecting. However, the thing that’s different here is that once you do add your favicon, it won’t actually get displayed anywhere in the preview. To see it, look at the main top bar of your web browser, next to the blog title.

2. Change Blog Colors

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

Depending on the theme you’re using, you will see a different set of options in this section of Customizer. Here’s an example from the default theme:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

Just a couple of settings here, granted, but playing with these can still help you make your new blog look unique and more in tune with your brand.

3. Add Custom Header Graphic

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

This is another section that’s highly dependent on the theme that you’re using. Though, the most common setting that you’ll stumble upon is the ability to add a header graphic/image, or perhaps even a header video. To set your header image, just click on “Add new image”:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

You can pick basically whatever image you wish for your site header, as long as it’s of sufficiently high quality. WordPress will let you know about the minimal requirements for your header image right on the upload screen.

4. Change Background

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

Some themes come with the ability to set the main background for your whole website.

Most commonly, these options will allow you to set a custom image or a solid color to be in the background. Either way, you can get quite interesting effects if you experiment with this long enough.

STEP 7: Add New Blog Posts And Pages

With all of the above already done, you’re ready to start creating content for your new blog.

If you are building a blog, you’ll likely need at least some of the following pages:

  • Blog – this one section WordPress creates for you automatically. By default, all your latest blog posts are going to be listed right on the homepage.
  • About – to tell your visitors what the blog is about and who’s behind it.
  • Contact – to let people contact you directly.
  • Services / Products – to list your products and/or services and tell people why they should buy them.
  • Testimonials – from your previous customers.
  • Portfolio – your body of work presented in an attractive way.

1. Create New Pages

Now that you have an idea of what sort of pages you might need, let’s talk about how to actually go about creating them.

Luckily, the process of creating a new page in WordPress is the same no matter what sort of page that is.

To do that, go to your WordPress dashboard and then to Pages → Add New.

As you would imagine, once you click the “Publish” button, your page becomes visible to the public.

Related: How to Disable Gutenberg Editor.

2. Add Blog Posts

The blog functionality is one of the core elements of the WordPress CMS. That’s why WordPress has a whole separate section devoted to creating and publishing blog posts.

You can find it if you go to Posts from the main WordPress dashboard sidebar:

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

Creating new posts works exactly the same as creating new pages. The only difference is that your posts are going to be displayed automatically on your homepage, while your pages need to be added to a menu if you want anyone to find them. Here’s how to do that:

3. Add Menu

Menus have a very special task in WordPress. Basically, they are your best tool for making sure that the pages you’ve created can be found by your readers.

Typically, your blog should have one main menu that’s placed in the main navigation bar. Most visitors will expect to find something like that on your site.

To create a new menu, go to Appearance → Menus. Once there, look through the list of the available pages (the pages you’ve created so far) and click the checkboxes next to the ones that you want to have in your new menu. Then, click on “Add to Menu”. You’ll see your pages listed in the section on the right.

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

At this stage, you can also drag-and-drop those pages to realign them. When you’re done, you can also select one of the checkboxes under “Display location” (see below). Most commonly, your main navigation location should be listed there – in our case, it’s “Top Menu”.

When we click on the main “Save Menu” button, my menu is going to be set.

4. Change Your Blog Sidebar And Footer

Depending on the theme that you’re using, you might have anywhere from zero to a handful of sidebars available + maybe a customizable footer as well.

To tune up what’s displayed in all those areas, we’re going to use WordPress widgets.

In simple terms, widgets are small blocks of content that can be displayed in various places throughout a WordPress blog.

To see what this is all about, just go to Appearance → Widgets.

How to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own BlogHow to Start a Blog (2020) - Guide to Create Your Own Blog

What you see here are all the different widgets that WordPress gives you. Just to name a few:

  • Archives – a list of all your past blog posts
  • Image – an image of your choice
  • Categories – a list of all your blog categories
  • Recent Posts
  • Search – a search bar
  • Text – a piece of custom text
  • and a lot more

What you can do with all those widgets is place them in one of the predefined widget areas – usually within the sidebar or the footer.

You can do the same with any of the other available widgets. Just grab them from the section on the left and drag-and-drop them onto any of the widget areas that your theme gives you.

Note: The widget areas that you see in your admin panel depend on the theme that you’re currently using.

You Are Ready to Launch Your Blog!

Congratulations. You can now launch your blog.