Last update January 7, 2020.
Today I want to show how to easily and step-by-step create your own WordPress blog.
Because blogging has completely changed my life.
I've been a full-time blogger for many years now and it has some big advantages besides making me thousands of dollars each month.
It has, for example:
- Helped me to connect with people all over the world and share my thoughts and what I’ve learned with millions of people.
- Given me a very flexible schedule so that I work when it fits me, travel anytime I want and work from anywhere in the world.
Now, it just takes 5-10 minutes to set up your own blog and I’ve negotiated with Bluehost so that all Positivity Blog readers can get their own blog starting at only $2.95 per month.
Click here to start a WordPress blog, and then just follow along with the step-by-step instructions below to go through this simple and quick process.
(NOTE: This free guide contains affiliate links. So I earn a commission if you decide to purchase via one of them.).
Why not go for free webhosting?
Before we get started with the practical part of this guide I'd like to address one of the most common questions I get about blogging:
Can’t I just sign up for a free blog at for example Blogger?
I would not recommend that and here’s why:
- If you’re on a free blogging platform then you may not be taken as seriously as you’d like by readers and companies (that may want buy from you, advertise on your website or hire you for a freelancing job).
- You won’t have full control over your website. This means, for example, that the free blogging platform provider can insert unwanted ads on your website and that you may not be able to monetize the website as you’d like by for example using various ads or affiliate programs.
So if you want make money from your website like I’ve done and make a side-income – or in time a full-time income – you need to be self-hosted so you have full control over your content, design and brand and all options open when it comes to monetizing the website.
Step 1: Choose your webhosting.
If you're starting a blog then I highly recommend Bluehost. Why?
- 2 million use it and it is recommended by the best. Bluehost powers over 2 million websites all over the world. And it is recommended by WordPress itself and and by some of the most respected and best bloggers there is like Problogger.com and Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income.
- One-click installer. A second important reason is that they have what’s called a one-click installer. And that’s exactly what it sounds like. You press a button and then you have a WordPress blog just like mine set up.
- You’ll be self-hosted. And that's a big benefit as I've already mentioned.
- You get a free domain name. This is address to your website (mine's for example positivityblog.com).
- A free SSL certificate. You can use this to add an extra layer of security to your website (this is something Google and many others are getting very serious about in 2018).
- 24/7 support. So that you can ask questions or get help whenever you need it.
- 30 day money back guarantee. If you’re not happy with them then you’ll get a refund.
- 63% off for Positivity Blog readers. A final reason is that Bluehost has been kind enough to offer all Positivity Blog readers a 63% discount for anyone who sets up a WordPress website or blog. So you can get started at only $2.95 per month.
Click here to open Bluehost in a new tab and to get the discount
And then just follow the simple step-by-step instructions below that’ll guide you through the 5-10 minute set-up process.
Step 2: Buy your hosting package.
I use images from the Bluehost website during this step to make things easy to follow.
Click the green Get Started Now button in the new window you just opened.
On the next page choose which one of the 3 webhosting plans you want.
After you’ve done that you get to choose your own domain name on the page shown below (use the new domain section).
And on the following page you choose if you want 12, 24 or 36 months of hosting and then simply type in your account and payment information.
Here you can also choose if you want any of the extras like domain privacy or site backup – I’d skip them but it’s up to you – and then you put in your payment information and click submit.
Step 3: Set up your WordPress blog by using the one-click installer.
You’ve now purchased your domain name and hosting package and you have gotten access to what’s called the cpanel (this is your control panel for your webhosting account).
As you log into the cpanel you may see a message that tells you that you can have Bluehost install the WordPress website for you.
But that comes at a cost and it’s very easy to do it yourself for free.
- First, find the blue Install WordPress icon on your cpanel page and click it. This is the one-click installer.
- On the next page simply fill out the few options there. Be sure to set both a complicated Admin Username (do not use admin as a username) and Password. This will make your website a whole lot more secure against attacks. Write down the username and password on paper and keep it somewhere where you can easily find it when you need it.
- Then click the Install button and your website/blog is created instantly.
- You’ll then get the website address for where you log into your website. There you simply type in your admin username and your password and then you’re ready to start writing and shaping your very own website or blog.
Ok, so now you’ve set up your blog. What’s next?
9 Important Steps to Take from Here…
Let me continue this post by sharing 9 very important steps you can take from here.
1. Choose the theme for your website.
The theme of the blog is simply how it looks. And there is a ton of free themes you can choose from to find the design that you want to for yourself and your website.
To find free themes to choose from and to try out simply be logged in to your WordPress website and then in the left column click Appearance and then the button that says Add New. You will now be presented with many themes to choose from, both the latest ones that have been added and the most popular ones that are out there.
Take some time here and choose one you really like and think would fit your personality, idea or brand. And don’t worry about having to pick the perfect one, you can always go back whenever you like and pick another one with just a few click.
There are also many premium themes for WordPress that cost a bit of money but then you get extra functions and support to contact when you run into technical trouble.
I use a premium theme called Thesis for the Positivity Blog.
2. Install a few helpful plugins that will make your life easier and improve your blog.
Plugins are small programs that you install to your WordPress website. Many of them are free and some of them are premium plugins that usually cost a small amount of money.
To find and install a free and WordPress-approved plugin to your website first click Plugins in the left column on your website that you are logged into. And then click the button that says Add New.
You will be presented with plugins that are Featured at this time but you can also for example see what plugins are most popular in the world (these tend to be installed on millions of websites and are obviously very helpful for lots of people).
5 of my favorite plugins from the past 10+ years that I use on my website are these:
- Akismet Anti-spam. This one puts the spam comments that people try to add to my blog posts right into the virtual trash bin. An absolute necessity because comment spam can quickly get out of hand.
- W3 Total Cache. This plugin helps your website to load faster and to put less stress on your webhosting account. This is important because many use smart phones to browse the web today and if your website don’t load quickly for them then they are likely to move on to another website. It’s also an essential plugin if a piece of your content goes viral. If you don’t have it installed at such a time then your website is likely to crash and most of all those potential new readers and fans will only see an error page. I’ve been in that situation and it’s no fun.
- Wordfence Security. This plugin protects my website from being hacked (such attempts are more common than you may think).
- WP Forms Lite. An easy way to set up a contact form where readers can contact me and that keeps the spam emails far away from me.
- Easy Social Share Buttons. A really flexible plugin for adding social media buttons and many more things related to social media to your website. It’s not free, but you only have to make a one-time payment of $19 to use it for many, many years.
3. Experiment a bit.
Experiment a bit with look of your website.
- Try different colors and design options. Do you want to a colorful blog or a minimalistic one? Do you want plenty of things in the sidebar or maybe not sidebar at all?
- Get design inspiration from other websites. But don’t steal anything.
- Add a logo to the top of your website. I created mine by using Photoshop. But you can for example pay someone at Fiverr a couple of dollars to do it or use free graphics- and photo-editing software like GIMP (available both for Windows and Mac).
4. Create your first piece of content.
Now that you’re done with the initial technical setup it’s time to start publishing your own content on the website.
A handful of guidelines for creating that content that have worked well for me are (these examples are for blog posts since that’s what I have done the most but they work well for podcasts or video too):
- Focus on creating value. This is the most important thing. Because it’s what people that come to your website want. Now, what is value? It could, for instance, be practical tips and help. Or something funny. Or something exciting and entertaining.
- Focus on your passions. When you create content based around what you are passionate about you’ll be enthusiastic. You’ll go the extra mile and put in that extra work that helps you to make a great impression. You won’t tire or get bored so easily. And all of this will help you to create really good and value-filled content.
- Create content around the topics that your audience is most interested in. Answer a common question from your audience and/or the people in your life in a blog post. Or share your biggest challenges that you’ve had so far (it’s very likely that it’s a big challenge for a lot of other people too).
- Add an image or a few to your first blog post to make it even better. I use Unsplash to find free and very high-quality images for my blog posts.
- Proofread your post out loud. It may sound a bit strange but reading the post out loud is an old journalist tip that will help you to more easily find mistakes in what you wrote.
- Be patient and kind towards yourself. Your first blog post or video will most likely not be the best one you’ll ever do. Don’t beat yourself up about that. See it as a learning experience and focus on making steady progress and creating better and better content over time.
5. Create one social media account for your website (at first).
One big issue that plenty of new website owners run into is that they spend too much time on social media and too little time on creating new content on their websites.
They check their social media accounts 5 or 10 times a day.
And spread themselves thin over too many social sites.
A solution for the first challenge is to only check your social media once a day, at the end of your workday (no matter if you work on your website full-time or only for an hour in the evenings). This ensures that most of your focus and energy goes to creating content and planning for the future.
And a good tip for the second one is to only focus on one social media site at first.
Choose the one you like the most yourself and use privately. Or do some research and see what social site is the most important in your niche because this can differ quite a bit. If you’re for instance a food blogger then Pinterest is a big one and if you have a local website then Facebook may be your best bet.
I focus mostly on Facebook for my social media presence.
6. Take 10 minutes to improve the security of your website.
This is something I would be smarter about if I were to start over again with my website.
Because it was something I didn’t pay much attention to in the past. And so my blog was hacked. And it was not fun. Plenty of stress. And a lot of work to set things right again.
So I highly recommend installing the free plugin called Wordfence Security as I mentioned earlier.
And also to do this:
- Be careful about password security. Do a bit of online research to find out how you can use a safer username and password for WordPress (and also for the other websites and apps you may have in your life).
- Keep your WordPress installation updated. Make sure to always have the latest version of both WordPress and the plugins you use on your website installed. You will get automatic notifications when you’re logged into your WordPress website if there is an update to install.
7. Create a Start Here page.
When people find your website for the first time via Facebook or Google search then they may be a bit confused.
So help them to get to know you, your website and what to do next by setting up a Start Here page. Then link to it prominently in your navigation menu to help people to get on the right track as you’ve intended for your website.
Here’s what I got on my Start Here page:
- A brief summary of what my website is about and how it can help my new reader.
- A quick summary of who I am and my journey with personal development.
- A list of my most popular and best posts so that the new reader has something to move on to when he or she is done with this page.
- An introduction to my premium courses.
- Sign up forms for my email newsletter in two places on the page.
8. Start planning for your website’s near future.
So you’ve found a look for your website. Improved the security. Joined a social media website. And created your first piece of content and a Start Here page.
I would suggest to plan for the future. Not just for tomorrow or next week. But for the next month or two.
I've found in my own life that when I had a plan then:
- I did a better and more consistent job. And that led to more readers quicker than before. Plus, if you want to make your website into something popular or into a part of an online business then you can’t just work on your website or post new content whenever you feel inspired once in a blue moon.
- I didn’t have to scramble for new ideas or content to post. And that made things more fun and less stressful.
So I would suggest making a rough plan for the next month or perhaps even the next 3 months. Find ideas for what you want to create content about. Study other websites and articles about building a better website and plan for what you want to implement from that on to your blog.
Then you can of course revise and course-correct as you go. But to have a first rough plan helps to both get better results and have less stress in your life.
9. Don't be afraid to spend a bit to grow.
During the first couple of years of blogging I only spent money if it was truly necessary.
Not a good mindset if you want to improve your website and a grow your audience more quickly.
This doesn’t mean that you have to hire expensive consultants, developers or assistants.
Only that it is in my experience smart to invest a bit of money from time to time into better webhosting, premium plugins and perhaps a course or a few books that can help you.
Because being stingy with money held me back, caused more headaches than was necessary and it made me spend way too much time on things that I could have spent a bit of money on to solve so that I had more time and energy for the things that truly matter.
9 things I would have done sooner if I could do all of this again…
In this section I’d like to share some additional helpful tips for turning your new website into a successful one, mistakes I’ve made and things I simply didn’t know about in my early days.
1. Don’t make my biggest mistake: get an email list up as soon as possible.
If I could start over again with my blog and business then the most important thing I would do differently would be to start an email list as soon as possible.
Instead I waited for 4 years and missing out on connections, on building my readership and on income.
Why is an email list or an email newsletter that you send out regularly so important?
- More engagement. I usually get more good feedback, inspiring personal stories and make connections when I send an email newsletter compared to when I publish a post on my website.
- Shares and readership of my blog increased. When I have a new post up on my website then I usually send out a quick email about it to my newsletter subscribers. I have found that this increases the shares on social media and attention both inside and outside of my readership that the post gets.
- Sales go up. When I send out an email about a new course I’ve created or a special promotion I’m running then 80% or more of my sales come from that email (and maybe 20% comes from a blog post about it on my website). The same goes for weekly sales numbers of my course memberships. If you don’t have an email list then you’re likely leaving a lot of money on the table.
- I’m less affected by big outside influences. If Google decides to push me down in their search results and send less new readers to my website or Facebook changes their algorithm then I’m less affected by that. Because I have my email list and there is nothing another company can do to reduce it or take it away. It’s a security that keeps a small business more stable as the winds online twist and turn.
I recommend Convertkit for setting up an email list. It’s what I use and I’m happy with the support, functions and results.
2. Create a really good post.
The key to generating new readers to your website days after day and year after year is to focus on quality posts.
Not on writing 3 or 5 posts per week. But instead to focus that energy and time into fewer but more in-depth posts.
The tips for your first post that I shared earlier in this article still applies to this too. So focus on:
- Making sure the topic is something your audience is very interested in.
- Creating a lot of value in your post by, for example, making it super helpful.
- Adding an image or two or use other forms of multimedia like video.
- Proofreading it out loud.
But also keep this in mind to make the post even better…
Go the extra mile.
My most popular posts that have given me the most attention online and brought in the most traffic year after year have usually been the ones that I’ve poured the most time and effort into.
Such posts do more easily go viral or are at least shared more often in my experience.
These posts are also what Google like to see for their search results. The more in-depth and helpful a post is the better it tends to do to bring in new readers via search engines.
So do the work most people won’t do and go the extra mile.
Take a look at what other people have written about the topic for your post.
Do a search for it via Google.
Don’t steal information from other people’s posts but take a look at how in-depth their articles are.
When you’ve sized up the competition like this you know what you need to aim at to create an even better post on that topic.
Also, have a look at how they use images, infographics, video etc. to improve their posts. Get some inspiration from that and then think about how you can use multimedia for your own post.
3. Send your really good post around to others via email or social media.
When you’ve created your really good blog post then let some people know about it.
Reach out to a few other bloggers or influencers via email, Facebook or Twitter and let them know about the post.
If it’s a really good post then some of them will in my experience share it with their audiences too.
4. Remember: Keep most of your focus on what works and what you own.
As I mentioned earlier, things change in the online world.
I have moved up and down quite a bit in the Google search rankings over the years. And Facebook and Instagram tweak and change their algorithms pretty often too and so some get more readers and others fall behind.
So be smart and focus most of your energy into what you own and have control over. And into what works the best to grow your audience and income year after year.
In my experience that it is my email list and my blog.
For you it might be something else though. Like an email list and your podcast for example.
5. Have a look at what the most successful people and sites in your niche do (and do not do).
I’ve found that one of the best ways to build a better and more helpful website is to take a look what other people I respect and like in my niche are focusing on with their websites.
But to also check out what they are not doing and to think about if I want to make a change on my website based on that.
You don’t have to limit yourself to sites in your niche though. I’ve learned quite a few things from studying marketing blogs and food blogs too.
Here are a few questions that can be helpful to ask yourself when you visit a website that you want to learn from:
- How is this website set up from a function and design standpoint?
- What do they prioritize on the website?
- Where did they put their email signup fields?
- Do they use some kind of free gift to get people to sign up for their newsletter? If so, what’s the format and content of that gift?
- Where have they placed their social media buttons and which one(s) of the social media networks do they prioritize?
- How does this website or business make money? From a service? Or a product?
- And what affiliate products do they recommend? How have they prioritized these recommendations if there is more than one?
And so on.
But don’t steal anything from anyone.
Just get inspired. And get good ideas for how to spread your content to an even bigger audience, connect deeper with your current readers or improve upon the income from your business and website.
6. Write a guest post.
One of the best ways to find readers that will likely enjoy your blog and stick around for quite some time is to write a guest post for another website in your niche.
Here’s a few steps that have helped me to do that:
- Contact them. Check out your favorite sites in your niche and do a Google search for guest posting opportunities in your niche. Only contact sites that say they’re looking for guest posts.
- Write something that fits what the website owner is looking for. And what his or her audience seems to be most interested in.
- Make it easy for the publisher. Edit, proofread your post out loud and maybe even format it with bullet points etc. so the owner of the website you’re guest posting on has a minimum of work to do to get your post published.
- Again, go the extra mile. Don’t just do the bare minimum work to create a good post. Instead, approach this as you would when writing a really good post for your own website. A truly helpful and in-depth post will make the publisher and his or her readers happy and it’s a lot more likely that the post goes viral (or at least becomes quite popular) and that it will bring in search traffic for years to come.
- Make it easier for new readers to stick around. When someone has read your guest post and move on to your website then make it easy for him or her to become a loyal reader by making an email sign up field the first thing they see after they’ve clicked that link.
7. Ask your readers.
One effective way to understand what your readership deep down wants is to simply ask them.
You could for example ask them something like this in the first email they get after signing up for your newsletter:
What is the #1 obstacle or challenge you’re facing in life/in your business/with your hobby right now?
Or use a survey that you send out to your newsletter readers, post about on your blog and on your social media accounts. I like using SurveyMonkey for doing quick and helpful surveys.
8.Back it up if you haven’t already.
Something might break on your website. Or you get hacked. It’s no fun but it can happen.
To be prepared for that make a backup of your website. Then it will be a lot easier, quicker and less scary to get back to where you were.
You can find quite a few free and great backup plugins to use by doing a simple search for that on the plugins page when you’re logged into your WordPress website.
9. Create a content upgrade for your most popular post.
One thing I’ve started doing in 2018 is to use content upgrades for some of my most popular posts.
It’s a pretty simple thing that takes a bit of work but I highly recommend it because it can improve the number of people that sign up for your email newsletter in a big way.
Here’s what you do:
- Find your most popular post, the one that’s gotten the most visitors in the past month.
- Condense the post into a checklist. Or a cheat sheet. Or make an audio version of it if you like.
- Then make it so that when someone signs up for your newsletter via that specific post they will receive that specific content upgrade you just created.
Since the free gift you’re giving them if they sign up is so targeted to the people who read your most popular post it will convert a lot more people into newsletter subscribers.
I do, for example, have an offer where people get a few free guides in PDF format if they sign up at the end of any post on my website. It converts about 0,2% of readers into subscribers.
My content upgrades on the other hand converts at 1-2%.
So they convert readers that stop by my website and read something into email subscribers 5-10 times better.
Quite the difference.
Now, I hope you’ve found this guide helpful and if you want to discover even more about what I’ve learned about blogging and running an online business in the past 10+ years then check out this article:
How to Start a Successful Blog: 45 Tips That Got Me 1 Million Monthly Readers