Are you looking to start a successful blog but you’re intimidated by the technical aspects and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there? You’re not alone.
Starting a blog can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right tools and information, you can launch a successful blog.
This article provides step-by-step directions on how to start a successful blog with WordPress.com, from choosing a domain name to publishing your first post.
So, if you’re committed to making your blog a success, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started!
This article contains a curated selection of products and services that my team and I think you’ll love. We may earn a commission on some of the products you choose to buy, but it won’t cost you anything extra.
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Is it worth it to start a blog?
There’s no doubt that blogging is still a viable way to earn an income in 2023. The question is, is it worth it to start a blog in 2023?
There’s no simple answer. A lot depends on what your goals are for the blog, and how much time and effort you’re willing to put into it.
If you’re looking to make money from your blog, you’ll need to be willing to invest time and energy into creating high-quality content and promoting your site.
However, even if you’re not looking to make money from your blog, you can still find value in sharing your thoughts and experiences with the world.
So, should you start a blog?
Our answer: Yes! Worst case scenario: you will have a fun new hobby. Best case scenario: you will have a profitable business.
What you need to know before you start a blog
There are a few things you should know before you start blogging:
1. Know your audience. Before you start blogging, it’s important to know who your intended audience is and what topics they would be interested in.
2. It’s important to find your niche. What are you passionate about? What do you want to share with the world?
3. Be consistent. Consistency is key when it comes to blogging. It’s important to have a schedule or an editorial calendar to keep your readers engaged.
4. Make your content unique. Content is king when it comes to blogging, so make sure you create unique, interesting, and informative content that your readers won’t find anywhere else.
5. Learn SEO. SEO is an important part of blogging, so make sure you’re following the best practices to ensure your blog posts get maximum visibility in search engine results.
6. Experiment. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to blogging, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things to see what works best for your blog.
7. Be patient. It takes time to build an audience and establish yourself as a blogger. Don’t give up!
8. Have fun! Above all else, blogging should be fun! Don’t take it too seriously, and have a good time creating content for your blog.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org vs WordPress VIP
It’s essential to know that WordPress consists of three main branches: WordPress VIP, WordPress.org, and WordPress.com:
WordPress VIP is the go-to choice for enterprise businesses that need reliable and secure hosting.
WordPress.org is the resource hub for the open-source software that powers self-hosted WordPress sites – it does not offer hosting itself.
Finally, WordPress.com is the official managed host for WordPress sites.
Our site is powered by WordPress.com, and we currently have the Business plan.
Benefits of choosing WordPress.com to start a blog
Choosing WordPress.com as your website host provides many advantages.
Here are just a few:
1. Their team of Happiness Engineers is available to provide excellent customer service and technical support whenever needed.
2. As a managed host, it handles all the complex and time-consuming technical aspects of website hosting security, allowing you to focus on the creative and content-related aspects.
3. Additionally, WordPress.com’s infrastructure comes with many useful features already built-in, so you can get started with a more extensive range of capabilities right away.
Step-by-step guide to start a successful blog
At WordPress.com, you can choose exactly the plan that best fits your needs — whether it’s the Free, Personal, Premium, Business, or eCommerce plan.
All plans include the primary features that make WordPress.com so great, like a growing collection of stylish themes, basic customization options, and no bandwidth restrictions.
Plus, all the hosting, security, backups, and software updates necessary for your website’s success — it’s all taken care of for you!
However, if you’d like to use third-party themes or plugins, the Business Plan or eCommerce Plan are the plans for you.
Step 1. Create a WordPress.com account
One of the first things you need to do is to create a WordPress.com account.
To help you get started, we have a $25 credit gift for you. Click on the image below, and then click ‘Claim your credit’ and proceed to the next step.
Here are some tips to help you create your WordPress.com account:
1. You need to provide an email address. This is where WordPress.com will send any notifications related to your account.
2. Choose a username and password. You will use it to log in to your WordPress.com account.
Your username can be your name, your blog’s name, or anything else you want. Just make sure it’s something you can remember.
Your password should be strong. WordPress.com will give you a strength indicator to let you know how strong your password is. A strong password is at least eight characters long and includes a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
3. Once you have chosen a username and password, click ‘Create your account’.
Step 2. Choose a domain name and an extension
Your domain name is your blog’s address on the internet. It’s how people find your site and it’s what appears in the URL bar when people visit your blog.
We recommend getting your own custom domain name (like yourname.com). Not only will this make your blog look more professional, but it also allows you to have more control over your blog’s branding and marketing.
Once you’ve chosen your domain name, you’ll need to choose a domain extension. A domain extension is the part of the domain name that comes after the dot (e.g., .com, .net, .org).
There are a variety of domain extensions to choose from, but in most cases, .com is the best choice. However, if your desired .com domain name is unavailable, you might want to consider .net or .org.
Note: After you’ve found the perfect domain name, make sure it is available on other social media platforms by checking Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest to see if the same name is available.
It’s a good idea to register the same name on all of these channels to ensure a consistent presence online.
Step 3. Choose a WordPress.com plan
We recommend the Business Plan or the eCommerce Plan in order to use third-party themes or plugins. And as a bonus, your domain name will be free for the first year!
Once you’ve chosen your plan, proceed to checkout. After checkout, you’ll see the Reader dashboard.
Step 4. Set up your WordPress.com website
Welcome to your new Reader Dashboard.
Keep up with your favorite blogs easily with Reader! Reader allows you to view posts from the websites you follow in reverse chronological order. Plus, you can like, comment, share, or even visit the blog directly with just a few clicks.
How to set up your new WordPress site:
Step 1. To set up your WordPress.com site, in the top left corner, click ‘My sites’.
Step 2. Click ‘Create site’ and proceed to the next step.
Step 3. Select your site’s goals
Select your goals and click ‘Continue’.
Step 4. Choose your site’s category
Pick a category that defines your site and then click ‘Continue’.
Step 5. Choose your site’s title and a tagline
Your site’s name is important for two reasons.
First, it will be how people find your site – make it easy to remember and relevant to your topic.
Second, it says something about your blog and its personality. Take some time to brainstorm and come up with a name that reflects what you want your blog to be about.
Your site’s tagline should be short, sweet, and to the point. It should give your readers an idea of what they can expect from your blog.
Step 5. Set up your public profile
Before we continue bookmark this page to easily access your WordPress dashboard in the future:
Note: Replace ‘yourdomain’ with your custom domain name.
WordPress.com links an Avatar automatically to your email address. This is done using Gravatar, which stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.
When you set up your Avatar, it will be displayed whenever you comment on blogs, post in forums, or use WordPress.com’s community features.
Additionally, it will show up on any other website that uses Gravatar’s feature. With this in mind, you can be sure that your Avatar will be visible no matter where you post.
You can create a logo in Canva for free.
To set up your public profile, from your WordPress Dashboard, in the top right corner, click ‘Update your profile, personal settings, and more’.
Step 6. Set up your professional email address
A great way to ensure a professional appearance is by setting up an email address with your domain name, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Not only does this look more professional, but it also looks more trustworthy.
If you’re looking for a reliable email service provider for your website, we recommend using Google Workspace.
There is a small added cost but you will access powerful tools to boost your productivity like Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Meet, Chat, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.
Click on the image below, to get started with Google Workspace:
How to verify and set up your professional email address:
Step 1. Get your unique verification record.
1. Sign in using your new administrator account (email@example.com).
2. Click ‘Continue’ to verify your domain with a TXT record.
3. Look for your verification code in the setup tool and click ‘Copy’.
Step 2. Add the verification record to your domain’s DNS records.
1. From your WordPress dashboard, in the left panel, click Upgrades → Domains. Then click on ‘yourdomain.com’.
2. Click ‘Change your name servers & DNS records’. Then click ‘Google Workspace’.
3. In the text field, paste the verification code or the TXT record that you copied in Step 1.3. and click ‘Set up Google Workspace’.
Step 3. Tell Google Workspace to check your verification code.
Back to your new administrator account, scroll to the bottom, and click ‘Verify my domain’.
Step 4. Be patient.
Sometimes it can take up to 48 hours for your registrar (WordPress.com) to publish your verification code.
For more details, please read this guide to: Verify and Set up Google Workspace on WordPress.com
Step 7. Install the ‘must have’ plugins
WordPress is known for its plugin system, allowing you to easily add new features and functions to your website with the help of free or paid plugins.
However, it’s important to remember to be mindful when adding plugins as too many can slow down your website and cause conflicts with other plugins. Only add plugins if you really need them, and keep an eye out for any potential issues that may arise using the Health Check plugin.
Here’s what we use and recommend:
WPBakery is a powerful page builder that allows you to quickly create and customize beautiful web pages. It provides an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface, allowing you to design beautiful, engaging pages that will help you build strong relationships with your readers and potential customers.
2. HubSpot All-In-One Marketing – Forms, Popups, Live Chat
This plugin is a powerful tool for any business looking to maximize its online presence and marketing efforts. You can create customized forms or popups that capture leads and drive conversions across multiple platforms. With HubSpot, you have everything you need to build and grow a successful online marketing strategy.
It helps you to better organize your content calendar and social media posts. This can save you a lot of time in the long run, as you will have a clear overview of what needs to be done and when.
It allows you to add a well-designed table of contents to any post, making it easier for your readers to quickly find the information they are looking for. It’s user-friendly and simple to set up, and you can customize the appearance to match the look and feel of your website.
5. Yoast SEO
Your plan, either Business or eCommerce already has Jetpack SEO. But Yoast has a few extra tools to help you draft and optimize your content.
For more details, please read this guide: Configuration guide for Yoast SEO
Step 8. Select the right theme
Selecting a theme for your website is a key element to consider as you create your online presence. While it might seem challenging at first, you are simply deciding on the visual design of your site and the presentation of your content.
Tips for choosing the best theme:
1. Keep it simple. Don’t choose a theme that is too complicated or busy. You want readers to be able to easily navigate your site and find the information they’re looking for.
2. Make sure the theme is responsive. With more and more people accessing the internet from mobile devices, it’s important to make sure your site is responsive and will look good on all devices.
3. Make sure the theme is compatible with the plugins you’re using. That way, you can be sure that the features and functionality of your plugins will work as expected.
Selecting the perfect theme is a key factor in the success of your blog, so take your time and choose wisely.
Here are a few examples with good reviews:
A clean and fresh WordPress theme based on Gutenberg page builder. It has 10+ pre-build demos for various needs and purposes.
Gillion has 15+ high quality fully functioning website demos that are ready to be customized and published. Compatible with WPBakery page builder.
Is an elegant and feminine WordPress theme with unique design elements to tell your story. It includes 8 custom-designed landing pages built with the free Elementor plugin.
How to upload a theme or select a theme from WordPress.com
1. From your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance → Themes. From there you can either upload your own theme (.zip file that you previously bought) or you can choose one from WordPress.com.
2. To activate the theme, click the three dots next to the theme name to view the theme options, and then choose ‘Activate’.
*3. Some themes include a child theme.
The child theme is a great way to customize your main theme without risking the integrity of the original. You can make changes and edits without the fear of losing them when an update is released. The installation process is the same as for the main theme.
4. To customize your theme: Click the same three dots, and then choose ‘Customize’.
Optional: You can also customize your theme from Appearance → Customize.
A permalink is the complete web address of a blog post on your website. It is composed of your domain name plus a “slug” (the part of the URL following the domain name). Permalinks are an essential part of SEO because they help search engines determine what a blog post is about and how to categorize it. That’s why it’s important to make sure your permalinks are optimized for SEO.
From your WordPress dashboard, click Settings → Permalinks. Then change the permalink structure to ‘Post name’.
Step 10. Create the ‘must have’ pages
A successful blog has several key pages that should be present in order to be effective. These pages will act as the foundation for your blog and should be given careful consideration before you start blogging.
1. The Home page
This is the page that your readers will first see when they come to your site. It should be a brief overview of what your blog is about.
How to customize your home page:
Step 1. From your WordPress dashboard, click Pages → Add new.
Step 2. A new window will appear for you to browse through the different Page Layout categories.
Step 3. Once you find a layout that you like, click it once to apply it to your new page.
Step 4. Edit the layout with your own content.
If you need a little help with your content, use Canva’s Magic Write to create engaging content.
Step 5. Give the page a title like ‘Home’ or whatever you would like to call it.
Step 6. Publish the new page.
For more details, please read this guide: Learn the WordPress Editor Interface-Gutenberg
2. The Blog page
A blog (short from ‘weblog’) is a page where your posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order. This means that your most recent post appears first, at the top of the page.
Step 1. Create a blank page with the title ‘Blog’ and publish it.
Step 2. Once you’ve created the page, head to Settings → Reading.
Step 3. For your homepage display choose the Home page. For your default posts page, choose the Blog page.
Note: Creating a custom posts page.
If you would like more control over how your posts are displayed, do not set a posts page (leave – none -). Instead, add the Blog Posts block to the blank page you created. This is a great option if you want to completely customize the look of your separate blog posts page. Once you’ve set up your design, all newly published blog posts will automatically appear on your custom posts page.
3. The About page
This page gives your readers a chance to get to know you, the author, and it helps them to feel more connected to your blog.
4. The Contact page
The contact page is where your readers can go to get in touch with you. You should include your contact information, such as your business email address and phone number*, as well as a contact form.
For more details, please read this guide: Add HubSpot forms to WordPress pages and posts
This page is important if you collect any personal information from your readers. On this page, you should list what information you collect and how you use it.
6. The Custom 404 page
Create a custom page to provide a helpful message to your readers letting them know that the page/blog post they were looking for doesn’t exist (anymore) and add other options for them to explore.
Step 11. Add your first categories and tags
Categories are broad groupings of topics that can help readers find relevant content on your blog. They are hierarchical, therefore you can add subcategories.
To create your first category, from your dashboard click Posts → Categories. In the left section under ‘Add new category’, give the new category a name, an URL and a description. Click ‘Add new category’ to save the new category.
Tags are much more specific topics than categories, providing more detailed information to help people find related content.
To create your first tag, from your dashboard click Posts → Tags. In the lift section under ‘Add new tag’, add a name, an URL and a description for your new tag. Click ‘Add new tag’ to save the new tag.
Step 12. Create your first menu
When you’ve launched your new website, a menu was created for you automatically.
If you would like to create a brand new menu, here’s how you can do it:
Step 1. From your dashboard, go to Appearance → Menus.
Step 2. Click ‘Create a new menu’ and then type a memorable name for your menu.
Step 3. Choose the display location for your menu, and then click ‘Create menu’.
Step 4. Add the desired pages and drag them into the preferred order.
Step 5. Click ‘Save menu’.
Step 13. Publish your first blog post
Your first blog post is an important step in establishing your online presence. It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself to potential readers and start building a relationship with them.
To create your first blog post, head to Posts → Add new.
Here are a few tips to help you create engaging posts:
1. Keep it readable: Use short paragraphs and sentences and avoid jargon.
2. Make it visually appealing: Use images, infographics, and videos to break up text and add interest. You can use Canva to design your featured images or header banners.
3. Write a headline that draws readers in: Use keywords and make it attention-grabbing.
4. Start strong: The first few sentences of your blog posts are crucial in hooking readers and keeping them engaged.
5. Tell a story: Once you have a catchy headline, it’s important to back it up with compelling content. This means writing content that is interesting, informative, and engaging.
6. Be yourself and use active voice: Write in your style to make your blog posts stand out. The active voice makes your writing more engaging and easier to understand.
7. Use helpful links: Linking to other sources can add depth to your blog post and help readers learn more.
8. Edit thoroughly: Check for spelling and grammar errors, and revise for clarity and conciseness. We use Grammarly to proofread our posts.
9. Optimize your content with Yoast SEO post settings: Its settings can help you use your keyphrases optimally, write readable texts, include relevant internal links, and get your post ready for social media. The more you optimize these settings, the better your chances are of appearing at the top of the search results.
10. Have fun! Blogging should be enjoyable, so make sure to have fun with it. Write about topics you’re passionate about and enjoy the process.
Step 14. Add your site to Google Search Console
Verifying your website with popular search engines like Google and Bing is an important step for SEO. Fortunately, WordPress makes the process easy.
To get started, if you haven’t installed Yoast SEO:
Step 1. From your WordPress dashboard, click Tools → Marketing and then click Traffic.
Step 2. Scroll down to the ‘Site verification services’ section.
Step 3. Click ‘Google‘ and click ‘Start now’.
Step 4. In the top left panel click ‘Add property’.
Step 5. In the ‘Select property type’ window, select URL prefix. Add your domain and click ‘Continue’.
Step 6. In the ‘Verify ownership’ pop up, scroll down to ‘Other verification methods’ and click the HTML Tag.
Step 8. Copy the entire code using the Copy button.
Step 8. Back to your WordPress dashboard, click Tools → Marketing → Traffic. Then scroll down to the ‘Site verification services’ section and paste the code you copied from Google’s HTML tag section into the Google section.
Step 9. Click ‘Save Settings’.
Step 10. Return to the Google Search Console verification page and click Verify.
For more details, please read this guide: Site Verification Services
Step 15. Submit your XML sitemap to GSC
A sitemap is a file that outlines the pages, the blog posts, and other files from your site, as well as the relationships between them.
This type of file allows search engines like Google to easily crawl your site, and it also offers valuable information about the content, such as the date of the last update and how often the content is changed.
Having a sitemap can help ensure your content is optimally indexed and visible to potential readers/customers.
How to submit your XML sitemap to Google Search Console:
Step 1. From your WordPress dashboard, go to Tools → Marketing → Traffic.
Step 2. Scroll down to the ‘Sitemaps’ section.
Step 3. Copy yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml
If you have Yoast SEO: Go to Yoast SEO → Settings. On the left side panel, under the ‘General’ section, click ‘Site features’ and scroll down to the ‘XML sitemap’ section. Enable the feature, click ‘View the XML sitemap’, and then copy the URL.
It should look like this: yourdomain.com/sitemap_intex.xml
Step 4. On Google Search Console, in the left side panel click ‘Sitemaps’
Step 5. Paste your sitemap URL into the text field.
Step 5. Then, click the “Submit” button.
Congratulations! 🎉 You have a fully functional blog. What’s next? Keep reading.
The next steps
Secure your blogs’ social media usernames
Social media can help you promote your blog and grow your audience. Securing your social media usernames is just as important as creating great content.
If you don’t secure your social media usernames, someone else might claim them and reap the benefits of all your hard work.
Not only will they get the credit for your blog’s success, but they’ll also be able to control how people perceive your blog.
Step1. Claim your blog’s usernames (same as yourdomain.com) on each platform that you want to use. This can be done by creating a new account on each platform:
- Twitter for Business
- Facebook for Business
- Instagram for Business
- Pinterest for Business
- TikTok for Business
Step 2. Create a new menu with your social links and publish it.
Step 3. Update your Gravatar public profile: From your dashboard, click Users → All users. Hover to edit you username with your social URLs.
This will help people easily find your blog when they search for your username.
Sign up for an email marketing platform
A great way to connect with your readers and potential customers is to sign up for an email marketing platform.
Our email marketing platform is MailerLite.
MailerLite is the perfect choice for anyone who is just getting started with email marketing. It has a simple interface, easy navigation, and a user-friendly email editor. Plus, it is affordable and has all the features and tools you need to create and send beautiful email newsletters.
In the next blog posts, we will dive more into this section, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
How to monetize your new blog
There are several ways to monetize your blog once you have at least 10 – 15 short blog posts as a portfolio.
Before you can be seen as a credible source, you need to establish yourself as a leader in your field. This means showing that you know what you’re talking about and that others can look to you for guidance.
Here are some types of blog posts you should have:
- Listicles: 4 Ways to Fix Cracked Fondant on a Cake.
- Curated collections: 10 Best Cake Decorating Tools for Beginners, 10 Types of Cakes to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, or The 12 Best Cake Decorating Tools of 2023.
- How-Tos: How to Make a Plain Cake (with Pictures).
Two ways to monetize your new:
1. Use affiliate marketing.
This is a form of marketing where you promote other businesses’ products or services on your blog and earn a commission for every sale that you generate.
2. Create and sell eBooks.
Step 1. Buy an eBook template from Creative Market.
Step 2. Edit your template in Canva.
Step 3. Sell your eBook on Etsy. Use our link to redeem 40 free listings.
We will dive more into this section in our next blog posts.
Our advice: don’t wait until you have a ton of followers. If you love what you do, just begin.
Starting your own blog with WordPress.com is a great way to get your blog up and running quickly and easily.
With powerful features and tools included in their plans, you can get your blog off the ground and make it successful with an effective marketing plan.
We hope you’ve enjoy our step-by-step guide.
And, now that you know how to start a successful blog with WordPress.com, take the leap and start your blog today!
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I'm an entrepreneur whose passion is to help others achieve success online. I believe that life is a never-ending journey of learning and growth. I enjoy taking challenges on weekdays and watching web series on weekends.