How To Start A WordPress Blog -Checklist

1. Register a Domain Name
Do this step first, as you'll need to enter your domain name when you set up your hosting account.

I use InstantDomainSearch.com to locate available domain names, and then register them at GoDaddy.com. Only register your domain here, skip the other offers. You always want to set up your hosting separately from your domain.

-How to Choose a GREAT Domain Name!

2. Set up your Hosting Account
I use HostGator to host my WordPress blogs because they make it easy to install, and they have great online & phone support. They are also very inexpensive at less than $10/month for unlimited domains, sites and/or blogs on that one account.

Use this link or click on the image above, and use the coupon code "wordpress". That will give you the first month free (or, for a penny - which is about as close to free as you can get).

3. Update Nameservers
Check your email for the account details for your new hosting account. Inside this email you'll find 2 nameservers. Keep the email open and go back to GoDaddy.com. Log in to your account, find your new domain name, and edit the nameservers to the two shown in your HostGator email.

It can take up to 72 hours for your domain name to point to your new hosting account, so you want to do these steps right away.

4. Install WordPress
You don't have to download WordPress and then try to manually install it yourself - that's doing things the hard way. Instead, go back to your HostGator welcome message and find the link to your control panel. You will have to use the temporary IP Address link since your domain hasn't propagated yet. Log in to your control panel with the username and password in that same email.

Once you log in, scroll down and look for the Fantastico button. It's towards the bottom, under Software/Services. Under the navigation on the left, choose WordPress and follow the instructions to install your WordPress blog.

5. Choose a WordPress Theme
While you're waiting for the domain to propagate, do a search for "free wordpress themes". Pick one (or pick a few) and download the zip files. Unzip or extract the files.

Next you'll need to upload your new theme to your hosting account. I prefer FTP, but you can also upload files from within the control panel. Upload the entire theme folder to the wp-content/themes directory in your account. If you need help, see this 6 1/2 minute video: How To Change, Edit, or Install a WordPress Theme.

6. Still Waiting?
At this point you are probably still waiting for your domain name to propagate (meaning the nameserver update hasn't taken effect yet so you still can't see your new WordPress blog when you type your domain name into a browser).

There isn't much you can do at this point since most of your links - including your WordPress admin login - depend on the domain name. So while you are waiting, decide what your first few blog posts will be about. This is a good time to do some keyword research. I use Free WordTracker - just put in words related to your topic to get some good 2-3 word phrases to start with.

Now open Notepad and write a few blog posts, based on the keyword phrases you selected. It's a great starting point because you know people are searching those phrases, and are specifically interested in those topics. Save your notepad file and go have dinner.

7. WordPress Customization
Once your domain is working, you'll be able to log in to the WordPress dashboard. Just go to yourdomain/wp-admin/ in a browser, and put in the username and password you chose when you installed WordPress on your hosting account.

Now that you're logged in - Welcome to WordPress!! - follow these steps:

- activate your new theme (under appearance > themes)
- change permalink structure -help
- edit/delete the default post (Hello World) and delete the test comment
- fill out About Me page -help
- edit/add categories
- install comment spam plugin

Now you're all set and ready to blog! πŸ˜€

Be sure to sign up for Problogger's 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series. This will give you a great start, and a perfect blueprint to follow. Even if you've been blogging for years, it's a profitable series to follow. I signed up myself! πŸ˜‰

Best,

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn’s unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews…moreΒ»

Discussion

  1. marc coma says:

    I have just started my first blog, this information is great for me, thanks

    Marc C

  2. Robet Nelson says:

    Your timing couldn't be more perfect, now if I had only seen it before trying to walk a person through installing a Theme. In any case I quickly copied and pasted your URL for the post into a PM for the person.

    Once again you prove that if there is one your the most gracious "Internet Marketing Queen" as you continue too reach out with real help and not the usual over-priced crap that so many IM'ers do. KUDO's

  3. Lynn,

    Wish I'd had this step-by-step guide when I started my blog in earnest back in 2007. This all made sense to me, but then I've been at it for going on 2 years now.

    I have a tip about writing blog posts. I noticed that you suggested creating them in Notepad. I avoid that program at all costs. I truly HATE it!

    My first choice is Word because I do a lot of heavy editing (anal retentive), and clunky text editors make me crazy. I want full-function search and replace, the ability to select a column of text instead of a contiguous segment, and other advanced editing provisions not available in "low-end" text editors.

    Now, before everyone jumps on me about how Word has all these codes embedded that can interfere with the way your posts look when you copy and paste them into your blog editor, let me give you my tip:

    As I said, I don't do any Word formatting **see note below**. I copy the text and then HERE'S THE TIP: drop it into the HTML tab of my blog post, (not the WYSIWYG editor tab). Ta-da! Not a single drop of MS code that way. Then you click the WYSIWYG tab and make it all look pretty in the WordPress editor.

    If you want to speed up the process a bit and already know which parts you want to use special formatting on, here's another tip. Create easy-to-remember codes that tell you where to apply what formatting when you finally get into your blog editor:

    BOLD - B_the text you want to bold_B
    ITALICS - I_the text you want in italics_I
    CENTERED - C_the text you want centered_C
    BULLETED LIST - *_the item you want bulleted_*
    NUMBERED LIST - #_the items you want numbered_#
    LINK (clickable) - L_the link you want to make live_L

    If you wish these to stand out, use more than one character, e.g. - BBB_text_BBB

    If you're feeling brave, you can also do some pre-coding as you compose your posts in Word. In this way, the formatting is done ahead. But if this seems too hard, just ignore it.

    bold text
    italic text
    centered text
    links Link Title
    (This last one is the hardest, but the others are dead simple.)

    Hope this is useful.

    Deb Gallardo

    • Well, I tried to show the code, but this fancy new blog format converted it into formatted text! LOL

      By the time I explained (since I'm unable to SHOW you the code) you'd be so confused that I gave up trying to figure out how to word it clearly. Here's a link for a sort-of "okay" explanation:
      http://www.web-source.net/html_codes_chart.htm

    • Robert Nelson says:

      I'm sure this perfectly fine for you, but still don't understand what you have against Notepad? If you would be so kind as to explain any problems(Wordpad problems and IE problems also, one for standards the other for adding stuff,I understand these)

  4. Funny you did this post just as I was setting up one myself. I decided to try a manual install this time just for the experience. I ended up uninstalling and using the automated install because, in spite of considerable effort, the editing control wouldn't appear. One thing newbies need to consider about WordPress is that, in spite of widespread use, support is pretty haphazard. You've got the WordPress.org forum, but often you get little or no response there. My advise is to line up someone more experienced to help with questions. You'll have some.

    I did run across this excellent article on SEO optimization for WordPress by Joost de Valk. He recommends a bunch of good plugins.
    http://yoast.com/articles/wordpress-seo/

    --Wade

  5. Chris Cobb says:

    Here's a couple of WordPress themes that I've found allow you to do some customization without messing with the theme editor.

    Atahualpa http://wordpress.bytesforall.com
    This one is free but they do ask for a donation. Has lots of options for customizing colors, fonts, sidebars, widgets and header images. Also place to paste tracking codes like Google Analytics.

    Affiliate Theme http://www.affiliatetheme.net
    This one is $97 for a single domain and $147 for unlimited domains. It has 6 different page templates and makes it easy to make a static sales page with a promotion box and call to action button. Lots of video tutorials. $147 version comes with 10 niche header images. Tracking code boxes.

    • Robert Nelson says:

      Thanks for posting the two hyperlinks, though price wise the first is more inviting. Have already uploaded it to my Blog and when I get it tweaked enough will switch over to it.Also have it installed in a Local server via MOWES(Modular Web Services)which is on a USB stick (and is not OS dependent)

  6. Lisa Marie Mary says:

    Excellent walk-through, Lynn! I'm nervous about doing domain research anywhere other than the URL bar, though, because of domain squatters. Is that site somehow different from doing research with a domain or hosting company? Like, is it blocked from ne'er do wells spying eyes? πŸ˜‰

    • Honestly, I'm not sure. I usually find & buy at the same time and never had a problem with my domain getting snatched up in the time it takes to go to GoDaddy and register it.

    • Lisa Marie Mary, et al

      I understand your "nervousness" re: domain research.

      And, Lynn, I, too use "Instant Domain" search.

      Perhaps this will ease your mind, Lisa Marie. They have an encrypted link. At Instant Domain, it says:

      "Your domain name search results are not being recorded.

      Pressing enter or return will take you directly to
      GoDaddy where you can purchase your domain.

      Click here to encrypt your searches. (Slower...)"

      *********************end of Instant Domain comment.

      So, when you "click here", you are switched to the encrypted address bar where you enter the domain you want to search.

  7. I write all my blog posts in Notepad too. NEVER in the WordPress editor or any other word processor. I was just paid by a client the other week to go in and clean every single blog post he had ever written because Word had embedded a ton of tags that weren't closed. What a disaster. I usually hand code while I'm writing my post. Once you do it enough, it's actually faster than highlighting your text and clicking the format button.

  8. Alex Newell says:

    I love checklists - especially about WordPress!

    I feel the same about about Notepad as Deb does and I've been trying different approaches. I'll certainly try Deb's method and see how I get on with it.

    I think the text editor is a major weakness of WordPress even with all the plugin help available

    All The Best

    Alex

  9. Tina Williams says:

    Lynn-

    Excellent post! Just finishing repurposing the 4 week Blogging 101 teleseminar I did in January into a new product and this is an awesome checklist to make sure new bloggers don't miss anything!

    Looking forward to following along with ProBlogger for the next 31 days for some tips and tricks from a expert. Whenever I get stuck I just hop over to your forum (http://www.selfstartersweeklytips.com/forum/)and get all the info I need there!

    Really love your new look!

    @Tina_Williams

  10. George Tran says:

    Lynn

    Sorry for a stupid question, but I could not find anyone to tell me this: Why would you want to host your own WordPress when WordPress hosts it for you for free?

    Thanks.

    Sincerely
    George Tran
    Author of "The Social Marketing Manifesto"
    Success Strategies for Small Businesses using Social Media
    http://www.socialmarketingman.com
    http://www.twitter.com/georgetran

    • Robert Nelson says:

      Read the TOS for WordPress.com you aren't allowed commerical activity(think online sales), the plugins you can use are restricted as are themes.

      Think of WordPress.com as a bicycle with training wheels and a parent close by. Wheras WordPress.org is Lance Armstrong winning the Tour of France( okay, not really but it is night and day in there differences).In fact if get good enough only your imagination will be the thing holding you in what your Blog or CMS becomes

      • Alex Newell says:

        Lovely metaphor Robert - I'll remember that next time I have to explain the differences.

        πŸ™‚

        Alex

        • Robert Nelson says:

          Your most welcome, which is not to say that there is anything wrong with training wheels for bicycles &/or learning Word Press on wordpress.com.

          But sooner or later if your doing to do any real bicycle riding at the very least you have to take the training wheels(and more likely get a 3 or speed bike)

          Same situation applies to getting a Self-hosted version of Wp from wordpress.org. You are in control and within the limits of software can do pretty much what you can dream, or pay for.

        • George Tran says:

          Thanks for the answer Robert

          Good to know.

          Do you know if there are plug-ins for Blogger that does the same? My other blog is on Blogger.com.

          Sincerely
          George Tran
          Author of "The Social Marketing Manifesto"
          Success Strategies for Small Businesses using Social Media
          http://www.socialmarketingman.com
          http://www.twitter.com/georgetran

          • Robert Nelson says:

            Sorry I don't have the answer. Try posting in our Blogging Forum. Odds are there are few if any plug in's available(but that's just an "educated" guess)Blogger is a little more relaxed about online activities but they can delete you at a moments notice. Unless you really can't afford a web hosting fee there is little if any reason to use Blogger. It is possible to import Blogger blogs into Word Press.

  11. I try to do the optimal use and this post really help me to find out WordPress from the beginning.

    Thanks

  12. The Authentic Change Coach says:

    Thank you so much for this valuable peice of information. I never appreciated this type of information because someone else built my blog using wordpress and I thought that was it. I did not realize that I would have to tweak it or even create another one.

    This is really great information.

    Thanks

    Iyabo Asani
    http://AuthenticChangeCoach.com

    • Robert Nelson says:

      You might consider printing the article and putting the printed article in a Folder for reference and ease of use.

  13. Wow, I wish I'd found this information 6 months ago!!! Thank you for sharing and keep it up... please.

  14. George,
    See this post:
    http://www.clicknewz.com/782/blogger-vs-wordpress/

    You can interchange "blogger" and "wordpress.com" in that article in addition to the points Robert made above πŸ˜‰ Hope that helps!

  15. Lynn, The Money Coach says:

    Great WordPress guidelines. As for posting, I've found Windows Live Writer to really simplify elegant posts, making it very easy to add photos and create beautiful layouts without any need for photoshop. I've written more about it here:
    http://swanjournalforwomen.com/windows-live-writer-desktop-blogging/

  16. Lisa Marie Mary,

    I replied upthread re: your comment about Instant Domain search and your concern over someone latching on to any searches you do.

    In case you don't see it, I will repeat it here.

    I also use Instant Domain Search. They have a regular search feature and they have an "encrypted" feature. The encrypted feature is a little slower, they say.

    And they state they do not save any searches.

  17. Lynn,

    Where were you and your instructions when I needed you about a year ago? πŸ™‚

    Actually, these are terrific. And I'm keeping them close at hand...because I never can have too many. Repetition, for me, is wonderful.

    Thank you.

  18. Daren Alsten says:

    Great post! I’m always finding useful things on this blog. Thanks again - I’ll be subscribing to this RSS feed!

  19. Sportsbook Review says:

    Can you explain why you always want to setup the hosting at a different place than the domain registrar.

    • Robert Nelson says:

      Because under the TOS(Terms of Service)the web hosting company can own your content if you have registered the domain with them and also host the domain on there servers.Which means the content would be there's if you tried to move.

  20. Lynn, why is it important to always set up your hosting separately from your domain. I use godaddy for both because their customer service is soooo good!!

  21. Real Online Money says:

    Great article, I have gone through a checklist similar to this and got my blog up and running in a matter of hours.

    Good stuff to see lynn, appreciate the simple information! πŸ™‚

  22. I think you wrong. Before register a domain name, you should research your keyword and your niche then register a domain on godaddy, namecheap, name.com ( use coupon code for cheap price :D).

    I really love hostgator. After buy a hosting, you install wordpress.

    Try find a nice theme (very important) and use some plugin better for SEO and your working

  23. Hey Lynn,

    I received an Attitude of Gratitude Award from Wahm-Articles.com and I've nominated you as one of my choices to receive it as well. I've listened to you speak via WahmTalkRadio and I think you're pretty darn grateful for what you've earned in life through hard work in affiliate marketing and you share a lot of information. If you accept this recognition, please read the post about what to do next...

    http://www.halloffamemoms.com/2009/04/attitude-of-gratitude-award-and-some-more-news/

    Thanks Lynn!
    Tracy

  24. Tyrone – Internet Business Path says:

    This is a great step by step article!

    Really informative especially to newbies on the blogging habit or business.

  25. WordPress' famous 5 minute installation is great as a starting point. It really does take only 5 minutes, and you can do it even if you are not computer savvy.

  26. Jorge Ribeiro says:

    Great post.
    I've been thinking in set up a blog but find it a bit confuse,but
    your guide is a good tutorial to do it.
    I'll be back to your blog,there is lots of good information here.
    Thank's for your help.

  27. Aid kits says:

    Also it's good to install the following plugins:
    - All-in-one SEO Pack;
    - Google XML Sitemap;
    Sometimes WP-Page-Numbers and DoFollow plugins are necessary.
    And, at last, I recommend to use Simple Tags plugin for tag and similar post management.

  28. Aid kits says:

    Lynn, I forgot about burning RSS feed by FeedBurner and install a feedburner plugin to replave all RSS links to feedburner links on the blog.

  29. s.domainnames says:

    Hi this is s.domiannames
    Lynn, I forgot about burning RSS feed by FeedBurner and install a feedburner plugin to replave all RSS links to feedburner links on the blog.

  30. Hi Lynn,
    I have attempted to download two themes. Both times when I try to extract the files a window pops up saying that the files are password protected and it gives me a space to put in the password. I have no idea what password they want. I tried my hosting password and my WordPress admin password but nothing works. Any ideas? Thanks!

  31. George Tran says:

    Gary

    Which Theme did you download? I think the password is on your theme (in the .zip) file. ie. You will need to buy it from the Theme owner before you can access it..

    Hope that helps.

    Sincerely
    George Tran
    Author of "The Social Marketing Manifesto"
    Success Strategies for Small Businesses using Social Media
    http://www.socialmarketingman.com
    http://www.twitter.com/georgetran

  32. Sigh...

    Installations, themes, waiting for propagation, rss, feedburner, notepad or word, checklists, tutorials, workshops, zip files, widgets and customization, spending money.

    So much unnecessary work.

  33. Kaushal says:

    Hey, i have set up a blog. This info was very helpful. But can you recommend me a cool theme for a technology related blog. Can anyone?

  34. Matt Scarlett says:

    AAAHHHH I forgot to wish you a happy birthday. for two weeks ago. Sorry Lynn!

  35. "You always want to set up your hosting separately from your domain."...can you explain why?

  36. 1st aid kits says:

    Lynn, I forgot about burning RSS feed by FeedBurner and install a feedburner plugin to replave all RSS links to feedburner links on the blog.

  37. Hi Lynn,

    Can you give the reasons of "You always want to set up your hosting separately from your domain."? I noticed that most promising web hosts offer free domain registrations. I'm curious about its cons.

    Looking forward for your thoughts. Thanks πŸ™‚

  38. Troy & Glenn,

    It's best practice to purchase your hosting & domains from separate companies for a number of reasons. If your host goes down, you can always upload your sites to another location and point your domains there. If your domains are with the host that is down, you're stuck.

    There are horror stories too of people wanting to switch hosts, and being unable to move or point their domains when they are combined.

    Also, a host is not a registrar, and a registrar is not a host - so getting hosting support from your registrar can be a nightmare. Not ideal.

    Like I said, there are a number of reasons, but just know it's common knowledge and best practice to order them separately.

  39. Thank you so much Lynn for answering this query. Would like to let you know that I purchased a 1 yr web hosting plan with hostgator through you link. When I bought the web hosting from hostgator, I also requested for the transfer of my domain from dynadot (where I bought it) to hostgator which offers 1 domain transfer for free. Then now that I'm waiting for the processing which they said would take for like 7 days, I remembered reading this article of yours and went back here to check you answer. Do you think this is a bad idea? Should I keep my domain at my domain registrar dynadot, better than transferring it to hostgator? I'm a complete newbie to web hosting issues so I really appreciate your help. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  40. Most definitely the easiest and most simple guide for beginners to start up a blog I have read - I constantly have people asking me what they should do when starting a website, directing them to this post would be perfect πŸ™‚

  41. I wished that I had found all this great information on WordPress two years ago.
    Thanks for the help.

  42. You could also add have your 'about me' bio and photo ready to post. In addition, your Twitter, Facebook & YouTube channel ready to link. Core content ready.

  43. I've been planning to set up a WordPress blog for several months. I have free blogs but wasn't sure how set up an independently hosted blog. Thanks for the checklist. Encouraged me to figure out the process with my hosting company.

  44. I am trying to access your video mentioned above "How to change, edit, install a WordPress Theme" and it will not allow me to join the membership area...can you please direct me as to how to do this.
    I would sooo love the info/help!
    Thx so much.....

  45. Syed Akram says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I always find a
    gem in your posts. Everyday thousand of people decided to join blogging community, this kind of basic knowledge always welcome.

  46. It is so important to have a list made of all the things to successfully launch a WordPress blog. The customization section is where the real things start to happen. Things like permalinks, categories, plugins and doing this all with SEO in mind.

  47. matthew scarlett says:

    I've been blogging for many years, and WordPress is becoming so easy to use, and so easy to have a professional looking site. From your sliding headers (jquery) to creating an online store, you can do it all. I've never been able to retire on the income from my blog, however, now I'm very much a part timer.

  48. I wished that I had found all this great information on WordPress two years ago.
    Thanks for the help.

  49. I have tried setting up a wordpress site but none of my affiliate links work there - instead I get a message that wordpress is disabling them! I'm not sure what to do now.

    • Jessica,

      Are you setting up on wordpress.com, instead of setting up your own wordpress blog per the instructions in the post above? WordPress.com is the free hosted version, similar to blogger.com, and they are not affiliate friendly...

      • I went through WordPress.com since I can't afford to pay for hosting at the moment.

        I ended up switching over to blogger.com and it seems to be working okay there, though their widget gallery isn't as fleshed out and themes are a little less impressive. But it's free, and the aff links work!

  50. Great list..here's an article I recently published which includes some extra points to consider before choosing a web host titled...Free Web Hosting Guide: 33 Secrets You Probably Didn’t Know!

    Let me know what you think.

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