If you’ve been put off from learning how to set up a WordPress blog for the first time because the very process sounds too technical or confusing, I’ve got some very good news for you:
It’s much easier than you may have previously imagined.
Sure, as with most things in life, it’s possible to make WordPress installation more difficult and complex than it needs to be. If you decide to go down the route of downloading the core files from WordPress.org, configuring an FTP client, and uploading the whole thing manually then, yes, that can seem like a laborious and complicated process to WP newcomers.
If that’s the option you’re taking, nobody could blame you for being a little intimidated.
Yet the fact is that thanks to the rise of “one-click” WordPress installations, significant improvements to make the WordPress back-end more user-friendly, and drag-and-drop editors like Elementor and Beaver Builder, it’s easy to set up a WordPress blog with very little technical skill or know-how required.
In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that if you’ve got enough computer savvy to send emails, use word processors, and browse the Internet, you’re already well equipped to launch a blog.
Are you not convinced?
Let me show you just how easy it can be in the following step-by-step guide to setting up your first WordPress site, including everything from installing the core files to setting up your theme, adding functionality with plugins, and publishing your first post.
How to Setup a WordPress Blog in 2023: Your Complete Step-by-Step Guide
1. Buy a Domain Name for Your Blog
One of the many reasons why WordPress is the best blogging platform to use in 2023 is that the core software is 100% free to use.
You never need to pay a penny to install WordPress itself, though that doesn’t mean there aren’t costs involved.
The two main things you’ll need to buy are a domain name and some web hosting. I’ll tackle the latter in a moment, but for now, let’s focus on your domain name.
In short, a domain name is the web address people type into their browser to find your website.
ForrestWebber.com, Amazon.com, and even WordPress.org are all examples of domain names.
If you don’t already have a domain name of your own, now might be a good time to read my complete guide on how to choose the best domain name for your blog.
If you’re in a hurry right now, I’ll sum up that post by saying that the best approach to buying a domain name is to ensure that the name is:
- Relevant to your niche and your content
- Short and easy to remember
- A combination of your unique Second Level Domain (ForrestWebber, Amazon, etc.) and a popular, memorable Top Level Domain (I recommend .com, though .org and others can also be used).
I wrote a guide to the five best places to buy a domain name from here, though you might prefer to buy your domain from the same company that you buy your web hosting from, as this is going to make life much easier.
For the purposes of this tutorial, that’s exactly the process I’m going to take.
2. Buy Web Hosting
If we think of a domain name as similar to the physical address, which tells people where to find a particular property, web hosting is akin to the land upon which that property is built.
In other words, your web hosting plan is the place where you’ll store all of the files and components that make up your web hosting plan.
Again, I’ve written a guide to the best WordPress web hosting companies, which you can read here, though if you’re short on time, my top recommendations are:
The key things to consider when choosing which hosting company to sign-up with are:
- That they offer enough storage and bandwidth for the size of the blog you want to create
- That they offer affordable plans
- That they offer one-click WordPress installation (most do)
- That the customer service is up to scratch in case you run into any problems.
Again, I’ll restate that you may also want to choose a hosting company that also offers domain names, as this saves the hassle of configuring a third-party domain to work with your hosting company.
3. Install the WordPress Core Files
Whichever hosting company you choose, they’ll give you a certain amount of storage space on a server onto which you can install the core WordPress platform.
Again, this is easier than you might imagine, thanks to a one-click installation process. This is so-called because all you need to do is click a single icon from your hosting dashboard to launch an easy-to-follow WordPress setup wizard which takes a few key details from you and then installs the whole thing for you.
I’ve written a detailed guide on how to install WordPress, but let’s go through it again just so that I can show you how easy it really is.
A. Find the One-Click WordPress Installation Button
Different hosting companies may place the WordPress installation button in different places.
If your host comes with the widely-used cPanel dashboard (as many do), then you’ll find it there under the name “WordPress Toolkit.”
Simply click that, followed by “Install WordPress” to launch the WP setup wizard.
If you don’t have that, you’ll likely find the button under a heading such as “Websites and Applications,” “App Store,” or “Create a Website.”
Wherever you find it, click the “Install WordPress” button, and let’s work our way through the setup wizard together.
B. Give Your Website a Title
The first part of the setup process involves simply entering the name of your blog.
If you haven’t decided on one yet, my guide to choosing a blog name may prove helpful to you.
Simply enter the title and click ‘create a website’ to move on to the next step.
C. Create an Administrator Account
The WordPress administrator account is the main user account that you’ll log in with to build and manage your site. It gives you unlimited and unrestricted access to WordPress’s settings and features.
Later, you’ll be able to create other accounts with more restrictions if you want other people to be able to log in and help you grow your blog, but for now, let’s focus on the administrator account.
To create this, all you need to do is create a username and password, choose your language, and accept the terms and conditions.
D. Connect Your Domain
Next, the setup Wizard wants to know which domain name people will use to access your blog.
Select the domain you just purchased from the drop-down menu provided and click ‘Assign Domain’ to move on to the next step.
E. Let the Wizard Install WordPress For You
That’s all there is to it when it comes to installing WordPress. First, name your blog, create an account, and assign a domain name using the simple user interface.
With that done, the wizard will get to work on installing the WordPress core files.
You might have to wait a minute or two for this process to be completed, and when it’s done, you’ll likely see a page that looks something like this:
With that done, you’re ready to begin using WordPress to start a blog.
4. Log in to WordPress
In order to do that, you’ll first need to log in to your WordPress dashboard.
This is as simple as typing your domain name into the browser and adding /wp-admin at the end of it.
This will take you to a page that looks like the one above. Just enter the username and password you created during the set-up process and click “Log In.”
Doing so will bring you to your WordPress Dashboard, which looks like this:
It looks like a lot is going on here, but if you take a few minutes to explore, you’ll see that it’s all very straightforward and well-laid out.
On the right, you get an update of your site’s health and performance, an at-a-glance look at key statistics such as how many posts, pages, and comments you have, and the option to add quick drafts of your posts that you can later edit and optimize, along with other useful snippets.
On the left, you’ll find the main menu with a dark-grey background. Any time you read one of my WordPress-related posts (including this one) and see me refer to the main WordPress dashboard menu, it’s this dark-grey menu that I’m referring to.
This is what we’re going to access next to start customizing the look and feel of your new blog.
5. Install a WordPress Theme
When you first install WordPress and visit your site, you’ll find that it looks very basic and fairly unattractive, kind of like this:
It’s hardly inspiring, is it?
To fix that problem, the first thing you need to do is install a WordPress theme that will give your blog a unique look that appeals to visitors and presents your content in an easy-to-read fashion.
To do this, start at your WordPress dashboard and select Appearance – Themes from the menu:
As you’ll see, WordPress comes with three basic themes already installed. While these are decent in their own right, there are much better options out there, so let’s go ahead and install one by clicking the “Add New” button at the top of the themes page, as illustrated above.
There are literally thousands of free and paid-for WordPress themes to choose from.
You’ll be able to access most -if not all, of the freely available themes from the Add Themes page in your WordPress dashboard, while paid-for themes can be found on third-party websites like Theme Forest and from individual developers like StudioPress.
To keep things simple today, I will install a free theme.
Namely, I’m going to install Astra, which I recently listed as my top pick of the best free WordPress theme for bloggers in 2023.
Here’s how it’s done:
A. Select Your Theme
As one of the most popular free themes on the market right now, Astra takes pride of place right at the top of the Add Themes page next to the two default themes, Twenty Twenty-One and Twenty Twenty-Two.
If you choose not to use this one, you can simply scroll down to browse through countless alternatives, search for a particular type of theme using the search bar at the top, or use the feature filters.
Here, you can sort themes by the most popular or the latest to be uploaded. Alternatively, you can use the advanced feature filter.
Here, you might want to select “blog” to find blog-specific themes or choose a theme with particular features or layouts.
Again, I’m all about keeping things simple, so let’s skip this for now and install Astra.
B. Activate and Install
Whether you choose to follow my lead or pick a different theme altogether, the next step is to simply hover over your chosen theme to bring up the install button.
Click that, and when your theme is successfully installed, click “Activate.”
C. Run the Theme Setup Wizard
One of the things I love most about many top WordPress themes is that many of them come with a setup wizard, which makes it possible to create an attractive-looking blog with almost no effort.
Most of these wizards can be accessed via a notification bar that appears on your dashboard once the theme is installed.
Astra is no exception.
Find the notification on your dashboard and click ‘Get Started’ to run the setup wizard.
D. Select a Page Builder
The setup process first asks you to choose a page builder to use to customize your site and add content.
For this step-by-step guide, I’m going to select Elementor as it’s one of the easiest and most feature-rich tools around.
E. Select a Page Template
Another reason why I love themes like Astra is that they come with an abundance of pre-made templates so that you can avoid the painstaking task of manually designing your blog from scratch.
Themes are divided into multiple categories according to niche and type, with options for eCommerce stores, businesses, creative portfolios, and even blogs.
With that in mind, your next task is to select the “blog” category from the page template menu and select a template.
For this guide, I’m going to use the “Creative Blog” template.
Whether you do the same or opt for a different template, the next step is the same.
F. Configure Basic Customizations
Select it, and you’ll next be asked to start with some basic customization options, such as adding a logo and choosing both your color scheme and typography.
This is no more difficult than clicking on the controls in the left-hand panel, uploading a logo the same way you might upload a picture to your Facebook profile, and then merely clicking on pre-set color schemes and font groups.
G. Choose Advanced Options
Finally, you’ll be asked for some details about yourself and your site, after which you can choose which advanced options to use.
These are all pre-selected, and I recommend keeping all of them this way, with the possible exception of sharing non-sensitive data.
Finally, hit the “Submit” button, and your new website will be ready to be edited in moments.
6. Edit Your Theme
Once your template has been loaded, you’ll be directly straight to the front page of your new blog.
It looks good, sure, but let’s face it:
It’s no good to you with somebody else’s copy and images on it.
As such, your next task is to edit your template so that it reflects your website.
The first step to doing this is to click the “Edit With Elementor” button, which appears in the black menu across the top of your screen.
This loads your page in the Elementor editor, which you can then use to change and fine-tune every individual element on your page.
To do that, simply click on the element you want to edit, such as a text box or an image, and use the left-hand panel to customize the content and style.
If you want to add new elements such as headings, text blogs, images, videos, buttons, and more, you can do this by selecting the small box containing three rows of three smaller boxes next to the Elementor name in your control panel.
I’ve highlighted this in the image above to make it easier for you to find.
Spend as much time playing around with this as you need to. Experiment with different elementor blocks, different styles, and features until your blog looks exactly how you want it to look.
If you’re having trouble with anything, the Elementor Academy is packed full of tutorials, courses, and step-by-step guides like this one which will help you do everything you could possibly want to do with your blog.
7. Add Extra Functionality With Plugins
WordPress is a tremendous blogging platform and Elementor is a fantastic way to customize the look, feel, and layout of your new blog, but even combined, these two powerful tools are fairly limited in the kind of out-of-the-box functionality that they offer.
This is where WordPress plugins prove to be worth their weight in gold.
Whatever you want to do with your website, if it’s technically possible to do it, there’s a plugin to make that happen.
In the most basic sense, you can think of a plugin as a tool that literally plugs into your site to provide extra features.
These tools typically come in two forms:
1. WordPress Management Plugins
These plugins don’t really have any direct or obvious impact on how customers interact with your site but make it easy to manage and maintain a safe, secure, and successful blog.
This includes things like top WordPress security plugins to prevent your blog from being hit with cyberattacks, backup plugins to ensure you’ve always got a good working copy of your blog available even if everything goes wrong, and tools such as Yoast SEO which help you to optimize your content for readers and search engines.
2. User Experience Plugins
These are plugins that enhance the experience of using your blog for your readers or otherwise provide them with more ways to interact with you and your content. This might include leading email marketing plugins, plugins to help you make interactive content forms, social media sharing plugins, and more.
Much as with themes, there are literally thousands of both free and premium plugins to choose from. So it’s no surprise that it can be very easy to get carried away and install too many.
This is a bad idea as too many plugins can prove to be a tremendous drain on your hosting server’s resources, ultimately slowing your site down and making it perform poorly.
To help you avoid overdoing it and choose the right tools for your new blog, I put together this guide to the essential WordPress plugins every WordPress blogger should install.
If you don’t have time for that right now, I’ll sum up by quickly saying that there are really five types of the essential plugin you should install and give my recommendation for the best plugin of each type.
Recommended WordPress Plugins
- An SEO/content optimization plugin like Yoast SEO
- A WordPress security plugin such as Sucuri
- A contact-form builder plugin like WP Forms
- A WordPress Performance Optimization plugin such as WP Rocket
- An Analytics plugin such as MonsterInsights
- An email marketing plugin like ConvertKit.
If you want to make money from blogging, you may also want to consider installing WooCommerce to build an online store or Memberpress WordPress plugin to put some of your content behind a premium paywall.
How to Install a WordPress Plugin?
I’ll soon be publishing an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin, but if you can’t wait till then, here’s the process in a nutshell.
- Download a plugin from either the WordPress Plugins Directory to a third-party vendor
- From your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins – Add New
- Click ‘Upload.’
- Select ‘choose file’ and select the plugin you just downloaded from your computer hard drive
- Click ‘Install Now.’
- Click ‘Activate.’
Follow those six simple steps, and voilà, your new plugin will be fully installed and ready to use.
8. Publish Your First Post
By now, your WordPress blog is fully set up, looking good, and has all the front and backend functionality you could need to run a successful site.
All you need to do now is start creating content.
I’ve written a comprehensive guide on how to write a blog that talks you through every step of the process, from planning your content and doing effective keyword research to optimizing that content and getting it out to the world.
I highly recommend that you read those first to get a good understanding of how much work goes into creating the kind of compelling content that attracts visitors and helps you grow your site.
Today though, let me show you how easy it is to take that amazing content that you’ve created and actually publish it on your blog:
A. Select ‘Posts’ – Add New from your WordPress Dashboard Menu
B. On the next page, replace ‘Add Title’ with the title of your post
C. Click underneath the title and start typing or pasting in your content
D. Add images and other media using blocks
To do this, click on a new line and type in a backspace (/). This presents you with options to add all kinds of rich media such as images, videos, galleries, audio files, and other content options such as lists, headings, quotes, and buttons.
E. Add Your Blog to a Category
Categories help to group your posts together by theme or subject so that readers know what the post is about and can find related content more easily.
To add one, go to the right-hand panel at the side of your post content, select Categories – Add New Category.
Type in the name of your category, and then select the “Add New Category” button.
F. Add Tags
While categories help to group your posts together by broad themes (in our example, “blogging,” tags allow you to group them together by more specific terms.
For example, this post is about blogging, so I included that as the category, but more specifically, it’s a tutorial about WordPress, so I added those in as tags by selecting the ‘tags’ option from the side panel, typing in the name of my category and clicking enter.
G. Preview and Publish Your Post
When you’re finished creating and categorizing your content, the last thing to do is to publish it live on your blog.
Before you get to that stage, however, it’s a good idea to hit the “Preview” button so that you can see exactly how your content is going to look on mobiles, tablets, and desktop computers.
Once you’re happy with everything, simply hit “Publish” and give yourself a big pat on the back because you’ve now successfully done everything you need to do to successfully set up a WordPress blog.
Frequently Asked Questions About Setting up a WordPress Blog
How much does it cost to start a blog on WordPress?
While WordPress is free to use, you will have to pay for web hosting and a domain name. You may also want to buy premium themes and plugins. Altogether, this means that setting up a WordPress blog may cost as little as $20 per year or as much as $200+ per year.
How many hours does it take to set up a blog on WordPress?
Thanks to one-click installations, drag-and-drop page builders, and other tools, it’s possible to set up a WordPress blog from start to finish in well under an hour, though it can take a lot more depending on how much time you spend editing your theme and configuring things like plugins and core settings.
Is WordPress easy for beginners?
Absolutely. Though it used to have a reputation for being a somewhat challenging platform to learn, the truth is that WordPress is as beginner-friendly as other website and blog creators like Wix.
How to Setup a WordPress Blog in 2023: My Final Piece of Advice
If you follow the step-by-step instructions, I listed above, you’ll no doubt see for yourself just how easy and straightforward it is to set up a WordPress blog and start publishing content.
However, before I leave you, I should remind you that if you’re serious about starting a successful blog, then setting up your WordPress site is only the first step of a much longer process.
Once your content is created, you’ll need to focus on driving traffic to your blog posts, coming up with effective ways to promote your content, such as posting on social media and focusing on SEO, and, depending on your goals, possibly even exploring different ways to monetize your site.
It can be a lot of work, but if you’re prepared to put in the time and effort, blogging can also prove to be an incredibly rewarding, not to mention profitable, venture to undertake.