One of the easiest ways to get started with a website is using the free blogging software platform WordPress. It's so easy, I recommend it to complete beginners in my How to Create a Website: A Beginner's Guide article.
Of all the blogging platforms available, WordPress is the easiest to jump into and start a blog with.
That might be why WordPress is used on almost 20% of all active websites on the internet!
Before you start a blog
Before you jump in guns blazing there are a few things you'll need to start a WordPress blog. Don't worry, it won't take more than 30 minutes from start to getting your blog online. Here's what you need:
- Your own domain name. You could use WordPress.com and get a free hosted blog, but it's quite restrictive and for the sake of a few dollars you are better off installing WordPress yourself. Read my article How to Register a Domain Name to get your web address before you begin.
- Affordable web hosting. If you want to start a blog using WordPress (or any other platform for that matter) then you will need a host. My article Which Web Host Do I Recommend? will give you more information, but basically you can get hosting and a free domain name for as little as $3.99. Cheap as chips.
Have you got your hosting and domain set up and ready to go? Well let's create your blog with WordPress.
How to start a blog with WordPress
There are two ways to install WordPress depending on which host you choose and how comfortable you feel with configuring settings manually. Whichever one you choose, it's not difficult. Promise. Choose whether you want to install WordPress the “Easy Way” or the “Not-So-Easy Way”:
The Easy Way:
- Install WordPress in one click. Almost.
- Takes 5 minutes to setup and has minimal options for customization.
The Not-So-Easy Way:
- Download the latest WordPress software and install it.
- Slightly longer setup but with more advanced options to create your blog with.
The easy way to install WordPress: 1-Click installation using Softaculous
Pretty much any decent web host now will offer some sort of application installer to easily add blogs, shopping carts, galleries etc to your website. The most popular of these is Softaculous, which is the installer used by Web Hosting Hub, my recommended WordPress web host.
Softaculous automates the process of installing WordPress to just a few clicks and a couple of options to choose. You don't need to create a database, you don't need to upload your files using FTP and you don't need to edit any PHP config files. In short, it's the easiest way to install WordPress. Here's how to do it in 3 easy steps:
- Login to your hosting and select the Softaculous installer. Once you have selected your web host and have signed up, you will receive a confirmation email from them with details of how to login to your hosting control panel. Almost all hosts (including Web Hosting Hub) use cPanel for this because it is very easy to use. Once you have logged in, find the Softaculous icon and click it to continue.
- Choose the install WordPress option. WordPress will probably be one of the first pieces of software that Softaculous recommends since it is so popular. When you click install you will be taken to a page with a few options to choose from. Here you can choose:
- Which site to install WordPress on (if you have more than one)
- Whether to install it in a subdomain like
- Database and table name (They already have default values you don't need to change)
- Your site name and description
- What you'd like your username, password, email address and language to be
- Install WordPress. This is the easy part. Once you click install, the latest version of WordPress will be automatically installed for you and generate a login address for you. Usually, this is
http://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/. You can use the username and password you generated in step 2 to login to WordPress. You just created a blog on WordPress in less than 5 minutes!
The not-so-easy way to install WordPress: Creating a database and manual installation
You might find that for whatever reason you aren't able to use a 1-click install, or would prefer to install WordPress manually. Some web hosts do not have Softaculous or any kind of software installer which makes the manual route your only choice. Also, if you enjoy technie stuff, you might just enjoy the process of installing WordPress yourself.
This simple 5 step process will walk you through installing WordPress manually and it doesn't take much longer than the 1-click method once you understand it. Let's go!
- Create a database for WordPress to use. WordPress uses a MYSQL database to store information, which means you need to set one up that WordPress can connect to. You can ask your web host to provide the details of your database to you, or help you create one yourself, but if you have cPanel it's very easy with the MYSQL Database Wizard.Locate the MYSQL Database Wizard icon in cPanel and click it. You'll then be guided through a series of simple options:
- Database name: Step 1 is when you choose a database name. This can be anything you like but make sure to write it down and if you plan to have multiple sites that use a database it is best to use a name that describes your site. It makes it easier later when you're looking at 10 databases and trying to figure out which one is for which site. Trust me!
- Username and password: Step 2 is when you create a user that WordPress can connect to the database with. Again, the username is better if you identify the site with it. The password needs to be complicated with random letters and special characters to make it difficult for anybody to guess.
- Add privileges: Your user needs to have certain powers to change things in the database. Step 3 will let you choose these. Select the All Privileges option and click Next to complete the database setup.
You now have your database to use with WordPress. You'll also need to find out from your hosting company what your host name is for your database as well. By default this is usually
localhostbut some hosts may use something different.
- Download the latest version of WordPress. The next step is to download the latest WordPress version from http://www.wordpress.org/download/. You can choose between the ZIP file and TAR.GZ (another form of compression) but I always use ZIP. Unzip/Uncompress these files into a folder ready for upload.
- Edit the WordPress configuration file. Now you need to open an HTML editor or text editor and go to the WordPress folder you just unzipped. In there will be a file called wp-config-sample.php (It might not have the .php extension if you are using Windows). Save this file as wp-config.php in the same directory. Then you need to add some of your details to help WordPress connect to the database you created in Step 1.Once you have
wp-config.phpready you'll see a few lines that look like this:
/** The name of the database for WordPress */ define('DB_NAME', 'your_database_name'); /** MySQL database username */ define('DB_USER', 'your_database_username'); /** MySQL database password */ define('DB_PASSWORD', 'your_username_password'); /** MySQL hostname */ define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');
It should be quite clear now that all you do is take the database name, username and password that you generated in Step 1 and place them in this file. So if your database name were
mydatabase, your username
myusername, and your password
mypasswordthen your file would look like this:
/** The name of the database for WordPress */ define('DB_NAME', '<strong>mydatabase</strong>'); /** MySQL database username */ define('DB_USER', '<strong>myusername</strong>'); /** MySQL database password */ define('DB_PASSWORD', '<strong>mypassword</strong>'); /** MySQL hostname */ define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');
Below these database settings there is a section for entering secret key codes that looks like the below:
define('AUTH_KEY', 'put your unique phrase here'); define('SECURE_AUTH_KEY', 'put your unique phrase here'); define('LOGGED_IN_KEY', 'put your unique phrase here'); define('NONCE_KEY', 'put your unique phrase here'); define('AUTH_SALT', 'put your unique phrase here'); define('SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 'put your unique phrase here'); define('LOGGED_IN_SALT', 'put your unique phrase here'); define('NONCE_SALT', 'put your unique phrase here');
To get your unique phrases for this, just use the WordPress key generator and it will generate all of those lines for you with prefilled keys. Just delete the lines in wp-config.php and replace with those given to you by the generator.
Once you've made the changes you can save the file and move to the next step.
- Upload your WordPress files to your web host. The next step requires you to use an FTP program which will let you connect to your web host and upload the WordPress files to it. I recommend using FileZilla as an easy-to-use and free option. It's the FTP software that I've always used and it works exactly as it should.In your welcome email from your web host you would have been given the FTP login details to connect to your server. The only information you need is the host name (for example
ftp.example.com) your web host username and your password. Use the FileZilla Quickconnect option and you'll be connected in no time.
Once you have connected to your host, you need to find the folder which is “live” (meaning that any files placed here are visible to the public). For most hosts, this folder will be called
public_html. Once you find the live folder, double click it in FileZilla to open it. Then you have two options for uploading WordPress:
- Upload to the main web address. If you want your WordPress blog to appear on the URL
www.yoursite.comthen you need to upload all of the WordPress files directly into the
public_htmlfolder. This means that you have to open the
wordpressfolder you downloaded and upload the files within it, but not that folder itself. Got it? This is the preferred and easiest option for beginners.
- Upload WordPress to a sub-folder/directory. If you want your WordPress blog to appear on the URL
www.yoursite.com/wordpress/then guess what you have to do? That's right, you simply upload the entire
wordpressfolder than you downloaded from the WordPress site. Put this entire folder into
public_htmland you're good to do. One more step to go.
- Upload to the main web address. If you want your WordPress blog to appear on the URL
- Install WordPress. The final step when creating a WordPress blog the manual way is done inside your web browser. Go to
yoursite.com/wp-admin/install.phpto complete the installation. Of course, replace
yoursite.comwith your own domain name. Remember, if you installed WordPress in a sub-folder you'll need to go to
/folder/is the name of your sub-folder.
Heads up! If you get a database connection error here, it probably has something to do with the settings in wp-config.php. Go back and double check your database name, username and password and re-upload the file.
All you have to do is fill in the name of your blog and your email address and WordPress will connect to your database and install itself. When you click Continue you will give a link to your login URL (usually
yoursite.com/wp-admin/along with your username and password. Save these details somewhere you'll find them later!
If all went well, you have just successfully installed WordPress by hand. This was a very long and detailed tutorial that I tried to keep it as simple and easy-to-understand as I could, but you'll probably want to bookmark this so you can come back and double check your installation as you do it.