Blogger writing in a cafe

Practical Guide to Creating a WordPress Blog in 2020

Out of all the things that could motivate you to start a new WordPress site, one of the best and most popular reasons by far is to create your own personal blog.

By all appearances, this whole blogging thing is still a relatively new phenomenon. It all started back in 1997 when Jorn Barger coined the phrase “weblog.” And one year later, the first blog became a reality on the internet.

Even during its early days, people were writing personal and educational material on the internet, but fast forward 23 years, and that collective of online journals have now boomed to encompass an entire blogging industry (thanks to technology making it easier than ever and beacuse loads of people looking for new jobs to quit the 9 to 5 life).

Veteran bloggers tend to forget what it was like figuring out how to create a website with WordPress for the first time, and if you’re a writer, you’re probably more concerned with actually writing, not figuring out website settings or how to choose a domain name.

Regardless, if you want a blog, you’re going to need a website. This article is one of the many WordPress tutorials that will walk you through the process of setting up your blog so that you can spend less time working out technicalities and more time writing your content.

Choosing a Web Hosting Service

There are many web hosts for you to choose from, but a tried and true option in the industry is HostGator.

Getting started is easy. All you have to do is:

Step 1

Head over to the HostGator website and click on the get started button.

Step 2

You should be taken to a page that shows the different hosting plans you can choose from. If you only intend to have one website, the hatchling plan should be perfect for you.

HostGator will then allow you to confirm your plan and set your billing cycle. The cheapest hosting plan option is actually the longest: 36 months. This cycle reduces your monthly cost to $2.75, which is far less compared to the standard $10.95 month-to-month charge.

If you ever decide that you need more from your hosting plan, you can always upgrade at a later date.

Step 3

It’s time to choose your domain name!

This can be hard for people who really want to make sure that their domain name is perfect, but in truth, the best thing you can do is keep it simple.

For instance, if you want to create a travel blog website, a good domain name might be YourNameAdventures.com, which in practice could look like:

  • AmyAdventures.com
  • JohnAdventures.com
  • SarahAdventures.com

The domain name you want may actually be taken. In these situations, the best thing you can do is to try a different combination of words that still match the idea of your blog. Below are examples of what you could do if none of the above domains were available:

  • AdventureWithAmy.com
  • JohnSupertramp.com
  • SarahLivesAbroad.com
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A good rule of thumb is to always go with a .com website. Other options are available, like .org or .site, but neither are as common or look as professional.

While you have the option to get a domain name with HostGator, if you want to go with a third-party option, we’d recommend you check out NamesCheap.com. They offer excellent prices for all their domain names and offer a suite of other useful services you should explore.

Step 4

The next step is to create a username and fill in your billing details.

Your username and PIN can be whatever you want–just make sure you write them down somewhere so you don’t lose them!

Afterward, you can scroll down and add your credit card information, but if you use PayPal, that works, too. Don’t forget to double-check the email address you enter here because that’s where HostGator will be sending your receipt.

Step 6

Now for the finishing touches.

Prior to checkout, HostGator will suggest a couple of additional services that you may or may not be interested in. While all of these are technically useful, we recommend unchecking the Sitelock Monitoring and Site Backup boxes.

You won’t need the Sitelock Monitoring unless your blog starts bringing in millions of visitors, and you can get a free plugin later on that can take care of your site backups.

Once all the relevant details are in, the final step in this process is to check out.

Congrats! You’re now the proud owner of a fresh new domain name.

Installing WordPress and Beginning Set-up

Phew! That was a lot, huh? Good job on getting this far, because the rest of this hike is all downhill.

Now that you have a Web Host, you’re going to want to navigate to the login, sign into your account, and click on the hosting tab located near the top left of your screen.

After taking a quick look around, you should be able to find a WordPress installer under special offers. Once you click the installer, simply select the domain you want to use and hit next.

All that’ll be left to do is to fill in some admin details like your name, website title, etc. You can always edit this information in the future.

After filling in the info and hitting next, you should finally have WordPress installed with HostGator.

Up next is the fun part: getting your website to look the way you want it to.

Selecting and customizing a WordPress Theme

Once you’re in your WordPress dashboard, hover over the Appearances tab and then click on Themes from the drop-down.

You’ll be shown a couple of themes to start you out on your blogging journey, and if you don’t like the initial options, simply click, “Add New Theme,” and you’ll be taken to the Theme Catalog.

At this point, choosing a theme that checks all your boxes isn’t as important as starting with the one you think you can work with. If you later decide that you want to switch to an alternative theme, you can always do so by going back to the catalog.

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However, sometimes prebuilt themes simply don’t cut it. In those cases, you can get a page builder plugin like Elementor to allow for the customization of various elements on your site so that the blog perfectly reflects what you want to express in its design.

Finishing Touches

Last but not least, you’ll want to update your website’s settings. To start, hover over the Settings tab and click on General.

From here, you can edit your site title, tagline, and customize other details like your email address.

Next, make your way to Reading under the Settings tab.

On this page, make sure your homepage dropdown displays a static page. To do so, select the static page option and make sure that the homepage is actually set to the specific page you want visitors to see when they arrive on your website.

If you want to make your website easy for people to discover on search engines like google, avoid checking the box that says “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.”

Once that’s done, head over to the Posts tab and select “Add New.”

Welcome to the WordPress post editor!

From here, you can add your title and start writing your first blog post. Clicking on the plus button on the right will let you add blocks to your post. This enables you to add images, additional headings, lists–you name it.

Once you feel like that post is ready to go out into the world, feel free to hit publish.

Take a second to pat yourself on the back: you’re now a blogger.

Backup Your Website

Remember how one of the HostGator add-ons offered to backup your site? Well, now is the time to get a plugin that does that for you.

Technically you can push this task off and handle it later, but after all the hard work you’ve put into getting your site together, the last thing you’d want is for it all to suddenly disappear due to unforeseen circumstances.

You can find a list of free backup plugins in this article. Check them out, see what you like, and protect your hard work!

The Start of Something Great

Now that your new blog is set-up, you can continue the good work of styling your WordPress website by adding plugins, editing the menu, and so much more!

Managing your WordPress blog isn’t necessarily a walk in the park, but the more familiar you become with WordPress, the more empowered you’ll feel. You now own a piece of the internet, and that’s something to be proud of.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and start writing something great!

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