How to Start a Blog for Free Using WordPress (6-Step Guide)
Do you want to know how to start a blog for free using WordPress? While starting a blog might sound like an intimidating task — especially if you have little to no coding, programming or technical know-how — it’s actually quite simple.
One of the most popular blogging platforms available is WordPress. It’s the most beginner-friendly CMS made, and the majority of the tops blogs all run off the WordPress platform.
This six-step guide will walk you through the process, explaining how to start a blog for free, right now, using WordPress.
Many people become interested in starting a blog after researching how to start an online business, as it has one of the lowest barriers of entry, cost-wise.
The simple six-step process outlined below is simple to follow, allowing anyone from a college student to a middle-aged parent to quickly start a blog and begin publishing content in almost no time at all.
How to Start a Blog: Two Things You Need
You will need two things to start your blog:
- A domain name. This is your blog’s name. (ex: hustleralliance.com)
- Web hosting. This is your blog’s home online and where your files are stored.
Once you have your domain name and web hosting you can be up and running in less than an hour. The entire step-by-step process is below.
Let’s jump right in and get started, and show you how to start a blog using WordPress.
Step #1: Get a Domain Name and Web Hosting
In this blog post we are explaining how to start a blog using WordPress, simply because it’s the easiest to use platform with the most customization abilities.
Yes, there are other options, but none (in my opinion at least) come close to being superior to WordPress. You get to alter your blog’s appearance, have access to thousands of plugins and have complete control over your blog’s files. You also get complete control over the monetization strategy used, if any.
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WordPress itself is free. After all, the title of this blog post is, “How to Start a Blog for Free Using WordPress” — but there is a catch (there always is).
Actually, it’s not really a catch. You can download WordPress for free and there is no cost to use the blogging platform. You also get upgraded versions of WordPress when they improve and make changes to the platform. All for free.
You are responsible for hosting your blog, though. So, you first need a domain name (your blog’s online address) and WordPress hosting.
Don’t worry. We can help you take care of this right now (and for MUCH less than you are probably thinking).
Get Your Domain Name
A domain name is what someone types into a web browser, taking them to your blog. It’s your blog’s online address. (Example: hustleralliance.com is our domain name).
HostGator has a great offer right now, and we highly recommend them for easy domain registration.
Get WordPress Hosting
Every website on the internet requires hosting, whether it’s a small business website or a blog. It’s where all of your blog files are stored and accessed.
Again, HostGator’s WordPress hosting is what we recommend. We use HostGator ourselves, and while we have a dedicated server with them, you don’t need that type of storage size for a standard blog.
Their WordPress hosting plans are very affordable and HostGator has even put together a nice offer for our members and blog audience, which includes a free domain with a hosting plan.
I would never recommend a company that I don’t personally use. I’ve had servers with HostGator for more than ten years. They are one of the most trusted web hosting companies, hosting millions of websites, including this one.
Disclaimer: I want to be fully transparent with you. If you purchase your web hosting through HostGator using the link in this blog post we will earn a referral fee. You will NOT pay anything extra by signing up through our affiliate link. It’s actually the complete opposite — you will save money and get a free domain as well. We could run any hosting affiliate program we wanted, but promote HostGator because we personally use them.
So, if you are read to start a blog let’s get your domain registered and your web hosting setup.
First, click here and HostGator’s website will open in a new browser window.
Click on “WordPress Hosting” and you will be brought to this page:
You will want to click on “Buy Now!” under the “Starter Plan” option — that is all you need since you will only be hosting one website. You will then be taken to this option:
Select at least a 12-month plan (to take advantage of the free domain offer) and enter in the domain name you want to register for your blog.
The domain search bar will instantly tell you whether or not your desired domain is available or not.
Once you have your domain name selected, fill out the billing information. Once submitted this will create your hosting account with HostGator.
While you only have to register for the 12-month plan to qualify for the free domain, you can select the 36-month plan for maximum savings. This allows you to lock in low-cost hosting, and it also gives you one less thing to worry about.
You can start your blog knowing that your hosting is taken care of for the next several years. There are some extra add-ons you can purchase, but you honestly don’t need those right now. For right now, just get your hosting setup and your domain registered.
Look for an email confirmation from HostGator that contains all of your account information, along with login instructions for both your HostGator account and access to cPanel, which is the control panel for your WordPress hosting. Once you have your cPanel login details you can move onto the next step.
Step #2: Install and Setup WordPress
When you login to cPanel for the first time you will land on the main dashboard (pictured below). It may look like a lot of options, and it is, but you will very rarely need to access the features in here.
Scroll down to the “SOFTWARE” section at the bottom and click on the “QuickInstall” icon.
You will be taken to the QuickInstall dashboard, which gives you the option to install WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.
Look for the “Install WordPress” option and click the “Get WordPress” link.
You will then be taken to the WordPress installation option within QuickInstall. All you have to do is click on the “Install WordPress” button to begin. Yes, it’s that easy!
As soon as you click on the “Install WordPress” button QuickInstall will begin to install WordPress on your hosting account. During the installation process you will have the option to browse themes, but you can ignore that. There is no need to purchase a theme — you will learn how to find a free theme for your blog below in
The QuickInstall will start installing WordPress. The marketplace will prompt you to browse WordPress themes, while WordPress is being installed. There is no need to do that right now. You will learn how to get a free WordPress theme in the next step below.
You will select your domain from the drop-down menu and then enter an email address you want associated with your blog’s Admin account, a title for your blog (don’t worry — you can change this later), an Admin username (avoid using ‘admin’ as your username), and your first and last name.
When you have all of the information entered click on the “Install WordPress” button to finish the finalize the installation process.
That’s it. You have now successfully installed WordPress.
You will see your WordPress login URL and your password. Make sure you copy/paste your password in a safe place. You can always change it later, but for now using the default password that is automatically generated is a good idea.
Your WordPress login URL will be:
You will want to copy/paste this and keep it with your password.
Click on your login URL and enter your username and password. This will take you to your WordPress admin dashboard:
Now it’s time to customize the look of your blog by installing a new theme.
Step #3: Install a New WordPress Theme
Every WordPress blog has a theme. It’s what dictates and controls the visual element of your website. There are free themes as well as paid premium themes.
On a brand new fresh WordPress installation your blog will look similar to this:
Most new WordPress installs will come with a few different themes, but they leave a lot to be desired. Honestly, very few, if any, WordPress blogs are built using these default themes.
You will want to customize your blog to create a look and feel that matches your niche. Visual appearance is very important, so you want to find a theme that is perfectly matched and gives you a great visual base to start with.
Now, there are literally thousands of WordPress themes available, both free and paid.
It’s very easy to change your theme.
From your dashboard, click on “Appearance” » “Themes” and then from there you will want to click the “Add New” button.
Now, you will see several available themes, as well as have the ability to search the WordPress theme directory, which consists of thousands of free blog themes.
There will be some popular recommendations shown on the main page, but I would suggest you really search based on what features you want your blog to have.
Click on the “Feature Filter” tab and you can filter the results based on your specific needs and wants.
Take your time and explore several different options. When you roll your mouse over a theme you will be see a “Preview” button. If you click on that you will see what that theme would look if you installed it on your blog.
It’s important to realize that when you look at the preview it’s going to use your current content when rendering the preview, which only consists of a sample blog post.
Look for a design, style and features that contribute to a simple layout that will provide your audience with a pleasant user experience. Less is often more.
When you finally find a theme you want to use for your blog just click on the “Install” button. Once it is installed you will see an “Activate” button. Click on that and your new theme will be activated.
After your new theme is installed, you can click on “Appearance” » “Customize” to begin customizing it. WordPress themes are highly customizable, allowing you to make several changes to better suite your specific needs.
If you want to explore themes with more features, you can look at paid options. ThemeForest is a great source of premium WordPress themes. There are several very affordable themes available with premium features and layout capabilities.
Once you have your theme installed you can begin publishing content on your blog. The next step below shows you how to publish your very first blog post.
Step #4: Publish Your First Blog Post
WordPress is the top blogging platform because it’s simple to use.
You can begin writing your first blog post immediately. Simply click on “Posts” » “Add New” within your WordPress dashboard and it will bring up the editor. Add a title and begin writing your blog. It’s that easy!
When you are finished writing your blog post and it’s edited and formatted to your liking, just click on the “Publish” button located in the upper right-hand corner of the WordPress dashboard.
This will instantly publish your post, making it live on your blog and viewable across the internet.
Within the editor there are several other options. Let’s highlight a few of the more basic ones.
Permalink: A permalink is the URL of the blog post, which is essentially the post’s permanent address online. You can adjust your permalink structure via “Settings” » “Permalinks” in the WordPress dashboard.
Categories: Categories are pre-defined taxonomies within your WordPress blog, used to sort and group content into separate sections. If your blog will publish content on multiple topics this allows you divide it into sections. You can manage them via “Posts” » “Categories” in the WordPress dashboard.
Tags: Tags are also pre-defined taxonomies, similar to categories, but they are more focused on specific topics. Tags are keywords used for topics discussed in a post. You can manage them via “Posts” » “Tags” in the WordPress dashboard.
Featured Image: The Featured Image (post thumbnail) is the main image of the post, which your theme will use on the post itself, as well as on other areas of the blog, according to its layout and structure.
There is no need to overwhelm yourself at first. Become comfortable using the basic features of the WordPress editor first, and then explore all of the more advanced options.
Now that you know how to publish blog posts, it’s time to customize your blog and add some features using plugins.
Step #5: Customize Your Blog Using Plugins
WordPress plugins are apps that you can upload to improve and enhance the functionality of your blog.
There are more than 54,000 plugins available for download in the WordPress plugin directory. They allow you to easily add functionality to your blog without any coding or development skills.
You can add features like customizable social share buttons, contact forms, image galleries, popups, etc. — as well as improve your blog’s performance — all via plugins.
While there are plugins to help you accomplish almost anything, there are some features you will want to make sure you address right away. Let’s go over those now, and recommend the best plugins to use to implement these features on your blog.
How to Optimize Your Blog for SEO
SEO is an important part of your blog, especially if you are looking to take advantage of organic traffic from Google and other search engines. Most blogs aren’t optimized correctly from the start, which gives you a huge advantage.
Optimizing your blog from the very beginning will give you a major head start on its SEO. On-page SEO is very important and you can install a free WordPress SEO plugin that will help you optimize every blog post before publishing it on your blog.
The Yoast SEO plugin is the best option available. In fact, it’s the same SEO plugin that we use on this blog. After installing the plugin you will see an “SEO” option in your WordPress dashboard.
Clicking on that “SEO” tab will take you to the general settings page, where you can then use the configuration wizard to complete the initial setup.
Doing this right away will help you publish content that is properly optimized. It’s much easier to optimize your blog posts for your target keywords and search phrases prior to publishing them rather than having to go back and optimize previously published posts.
How to Optimize Your Blog for Speed
A blog that loads quickly and delivers a pleasant user experience will do a much better job of building a loyal audience than a blog that loads slowly, creating a poor user experience.
WP Super Cache is a plugin designed to help speed up your website by generating static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog. Those files are served rather than processing the comparatively heavier WordPress PHP scripts.
If that doesn’t make sense to you don’t worry. The plugin comes configured already, and you can run it as it is without any further modification, and experience improved blog speed.
A slow-loading blog will cause visitors to leave, which increases your bounce rate, and they will also convert at a much lower rate. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to capture newsletter subscribers or sell a physical product — your conversion rate will be much lower if your blog loads slowly.
The perfmatters plugin was developed by marketers and WordPress performance experts to speed up your entire blog. It’s the number one performance plugin for WordPress.
The perfmatters WordPress plugin speeds up your blog several ways. The main way is by disabling things that are not being used on your blog. Removing code and scripts that your blog isn’t using lightens it up, resulting in faster loading webpages.
How to Install Google Analytics Tracking
You will want to setup a Google Analytics account right away.
Google Analytics allows you to dive into your traffic and visitor data, showing you how many people landed on your blog, where they are from, how they got there, what type of device they were browsing on, what content they engaged with and what they did before and after engaging with that content.
Actually, go setup a Google Analytics account right now.
You want to install Google Analytics right away so you have traffic data starting on day one. This allows you to monitor your data and make changes to improve your blog’s growth over time.
After signing up you received a Google Analytics tracking code. You can either add the code to your header or footer manually, but that requires a bit of coding and programming know-how. Or you can use a WordPress plugin.
The best Google Analytics plugin is Monster Insights (we use it on this blog). It’s the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress and it allows you to easily install your tracking code. It also adds a nice dashboard within your WordPress dashboard for easy traffic monitoring.
Switch to your WordPress admin area to install and activate the MonsterInsights plugin. It is the free version of the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress, and it is the easiest way to add Google Analytics on your site.
After you install and activate the plugin you will want to click on “Insights” » “Settings” from the dashboard to begin the configuration process.
Once you authenticate the plugin with your Google account it will automatically connect your Google Analytics account to your blog.
It’s a very simple process — just follow the prompts and instructions throughout the setup process. Your Google Analytics data will now be available to view in your dashboard under the “MonsterInsights” column in your dashboard.
How to Backup Your WordPress Blog
There are many reasons why you should backup your blog. It could be hacked, your server could crash, you could install a bad plugin, etc. There are several scenarios that are unlikely to happen, but if they did it could create a major headache if you didn’t have a backup ready to install.
If you don’t backup your WordPress blog and something unexpected happened you would lose all that time, effort and money spent thus far.
UpdraftPlus creates backups automatically without you having to worry about it. More than 2 million blogs have already installed this plugin. It’s the best backup solution available.
This WordPress backup plugin will automatically place your backup files into the cloud service of your choice, including Google, Dropbox, Amazon and more. If you ever need to, you can restore your blog with a backup with one-click.
How to Protect Your WordPress Blog from Hackers
More than 30,000 new websites are hacked every single day. WordPress blogs are one of the biggest targets, due to plugin vulnerabilities and outdated themes (which is why it’s important to keep your plugins and themes updated), as well as weak passwords.
We use iThemes Security for our blog, and suggest you use it as well. It features more than 30 ways to protect and secure your WordPress blog. It’s simple to setup and the default settings alone will make your blog much more secure than it would be without the plugin installed.
Once installed and activated, you can click on “Security” » “Settings” from the dashboard to view the different features and enable or disable them, according to your needs.
Step #6: Setup Different Blog Monetization Channels
There is one question that everyone asks after starting a blog:
How can I make money from my blog?
Is it possible to make money from a blog? Yes.
While there are multiple ways to monetize your blog, it’s important to understand that it takes time. There is no such thing as overnight success when it comes to earning money blogging.
The majority of blogs never make money. There are several different online businesses you can start, but if you have your heart set on building a successful blog just be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort before it generates significant income.
How to Start a Blog That Makes Money
I see a lot of guides, courses and coaching that all promise to reveal the shortcut to generating blog income, and the majority of them are fluff.
There aren’t any ways to avoid the hard work. But, the harder you work, the bigger of a reward, financial-wise, you can achieve. Let’s dive into a few common ways to monetize your blog.
How to Install Google AdSense on Your Blog
Most of the websites and blogs you visit have ads on them. It’s the most common way to generate income, and Google AdSense is the premier display advertising network for publishers.
It’s very easy to create an account and get your ad code. There are several different plugins available to help you manage your ads as well as display your Google AdSense code on your blog. We use the Advanced Ads plugin on this blog.
Advertisers bid on clicks and impressions, and Google matches their keyword bidding to content on its network of publishers. In return, you receive a cut of the advertising revenue generated via your blog.
It’s not the most lucrative option available, but it’s a great first-step towards monetizing your blog. In the beginning it can help you cover operational expenses like hosting and premium plugins, themes and development.
How to Add a Shopify Store to Your Blog
Several blogs generate revenue by selling items on their blog, from digital products to physical products. If physical product sales is a good match for your blog, then you will want to consider adding a Shopify store to your blog.
WooCommerce is WordPress-specific e-commerce software, but in my opinion, Shopify is a much more robust platform — and the most popular e-commerce platform in the world.
If you want to add e-commerce functionality to your WordPress blog, we show you how to start a Shopify store, breaking it down into an easy to follow seven-step guide.
Since you would be using Shopify with WordPress it will require that you create a sub-domain for your e-commerce store. For example, if your blog URL was myblog.com your store URL would be shop.myblog.com.
Top Affiliate Marketing Programs for Your Blog
Affiliate marketing is a great monetization options for most blogs. You recommend products or services to your readers, and financially compensated when they make a purchase using your unique affiliate link.
There are affiliate programs for almost any product or service you can think of, making it possible to identify offers that line up with your blog’s audience.
It’s important to run offers that you trust and can recommend to your audience with complete confidence, as well as offers that your blog audience is highly likely to be interested in.
You can see a list of top affiliate networks in this blog post. There are also plugins designed specifically for affiliate marketers. For example, we use ThirstyAffiliates to manage our affiliate links on this blog.
Answers to Common WordPress Blogging Questions
There are a lot of common questions when it comes to starting a WordPress blog, so I wanted to create a little resource here at the end of this blog post that addresses some of the more commonly asked questions.
Q: Do I have to use WordPress to build a blog?
A: No, you do not have to use WordPress to start a blog. There are other options available, but nothing is as easy to use as WordPress and gives you complete control over your blog’s hosting, content and customization. Personally, I wouldn’t start a blog on any other blogging platform other than WordPress.
Q: Is starting a blog really free? What costs are involved?
A: You can build a WordPress blog for free by using a free theme and free plugins. If you want a premium theme or more advanced plugins they will cost money, even though those costs are often minimal. You will need to buy a domain name and signup for WordPress hosting.
Q: Can I start a blog without having to buy a domain or web hosting?
A: You have to have a domain and a web hosting account. There is no way around it. Your domain is your blog’s “address” online and your web hosting is where all of your blog files are stored and accessed. You can register a domain here and create a WordPress hosting account here. It’s a very simple process.
Q: Is it really possible to start a blog and make money from it?
A: Many blogs earn money, so the answer is yes, but it’s important to know that it takes time. You should focus on publishing quality content and building a loyal audience first. Then, look into the different monetization options available: Google AdSense, affiliate marketing, creating your own product, etc.
Q: How often should I publish blog posts? What should I blog about?
A: This really depends on your goals as well as your audience size. When you are just starting out you want to focus more on the quality of your content rather than the quantity of posts you publish. As your traffic increases you can then scale your publishing volume accordingly. As far as topics, you need to write about what you are passionate and knowledgable about and what your audience wants to read.
Q: How do I get people to read my blog?
A: Yes, you can use WordPress in other languages. You can select your language during installation or from Settings page in WordPress admin area. WordPress is fully translated in more than 56 languages and partially translated into dozens of other languages. Many top WordPress themes and plugins are also available in multiple languages. You can also translate a theme or a plugin that you want to use on your website. Our forum is a great place to ask for feedback and connect with other bloggers.
Q: How long will it take my blog to become popular?
A: This depends on several factors. First, how big is your niche? Is there a large potential audience? How often do you plan on updating your blog with fresh content? Are you going to target specific keywords and try to scale your blog through organic growth? There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
Now that you know how to start a blog, are you going to? What kind of blog are you going to start? Let me know in the comments below!