In my blog post Choosing a blog platform, I explained the differences between hosted and self-hosted blogs and why a hosted, free option is probably the best choice for fledgling bloggers. So, now read on to find out how setting up a free WordPress blog (one of the most popular and most widely used blogging platforms) is very easy.
Setting up a free WordPress blog in five easy steps
Start by clicking here to display the Create a unique blog screen.
Click on Get Started to go to the first step in the set-up process.
Step 1 Start creating your new blog
The first screen displayed is the Let’s create a site (see below) where you are asked some simple questions to ensure that you get the site/blog you need. Start by choosing a name for your site – this is the name (title) that will be displayed on your blog page. Once you have decided on a name you can specify what your site is about and what the main purpose (primary goal) of your site is. You can also indicate how comfortable you are with creating a website. If you are a complete beginner, click on 1. When you are ready click on Continue to go the step 2.
Step 2 Choosing a theme
The next screen displayed is Choose a theme (see below) where you can choose a theme for your blog. The theme determines the look and style of your blog (for example, colours, font style, the layout of your blog page etc.).
In this step you can choose from just a small selection of themes but don’t worry if you then change your mind. You can always choose another theme later on. Even with a free WordPress blog there are plenty of free themes to choose from.
To choose a theme simply click on it and you are then taken to Step 3.
Step 3 Choosing a name for your blog
The next screen displayed is Let’s give your site an address (see below). The name of your blog (also known as your blog address or domain name) is what people will type into their browser to find your blog so consider choosing a name that’s not only easy to remember and reasonably quick to type but also gives a hint (at the very least) of what your blog is about.
If your blog is very personal you could use your own name (for example, Jo Smith’s blog). However, if, for example, you specialise in family history research and want to pass on your experience through a blog, you could choose a name which describes the content of your blog (for example, Tips on how to research your family history). Descriptive domain names not only attract a larger audience, but they also help your blog to be found in searches. There will be people out there who don’t know about your blog let alone its domain name but if they are looking for some tips on family history research and do a general search then, depending on the ranking of your blog (i.e. its position in a search engine – those at the top get displayed first), they may well find it.
If you haven’t thought of have a name for your blog, you can simply type in some words (known as key words) that describe it and WordPress will display some suggestions. If there aren’t any that are suitable, try typing in some different keywords.
You can choose to use a free domain name (this will include wordpress in the domain name – for example, myblog.wordpress.com) or you can choose a premium domain name which omits wordpress. A premium domain name does incur a yearly charge but if you prefer not to have wordpress in your blog name then it is worth considering. If you have already bought a domain name you have the opportunity on this screen to map it (link it) to your new blog simply by clicking on Already own a domain?
When you have decided on a name, type it in the Enter a domain or keyword box. A list of available names is then displayed. Click on Select next to the domain option you want to use (i.e. free or premium). You will then be taken to Step 4.
Step 4 Choosing a plan
On the next screen Pick a plan that’s right for you (see below) you can choose which plan you want to use. If you want to set up your blog for free then choose the Free plan by clicking on Start with Free. You will then be taken to step 5.
Create your account
To use WordPress to create your blog you have to create an account and so in step 5 Create your account (see below) you you will need to provide an email address which WordPress will use to communicate with you and then choose a username and password. Once you have done this click on Continue.
The following screen will then be displayed:
When you receive the following email, click on Confirm now to confirm your email and activate your WordPress account but for now simply click on Continue to display your first blog post.
When your site is displayed you will see the name you gave to your blog displayed at the top of the screen (in this example My first blog). You can click on EDIT to modify or delete it or you can create another post by clicking on start a new post. I recommend that you start by modifying the existing post so as you can add your own title and text. When you are happy with this you can start to add new posts.
When you click on EDIT (under Leave a comment on the left-hand side of the page) the following screen is displayed:
To make any changes or add a new blog post you must first confirm your email address. To remind you to do this, the following prompt will appear in the top right-hand corner of your blog post page:
So, go to your email account, open the relevant email and click on Confirm Now to activate your account. You will then automatically be taken back to your WordPress site. Click on View Site to return to your new blog page where you can click on Edit to make any changes.If you are familiar with word processing software you should have no problem with the editing tools displayed above your post. If you are not sure what they do, hover over them with your mouse (or whatever device you are using) and a brief description pops up.
When you have made all the changes you want, click on Update to save the changes. The following prompt then appears in the top right-hand corner of your blog post page:
Click on Visit post to take a look at the changes you have made.
Congratulations – you have set up your very own a blog and edited your first post. But don’t stop there. Now start to add more posts – it’s great writing practice and a great way of reaching a wider audience.