You’ve decided it’s time to launch a blog, but you have no idea which platform to use or where to begin. No worries. I’m here to help with the basics of creating a free WordPress blog.
WordPress.com is my preferred blogging platform because I love its theme options, content management functions and its ability to easily transition from a free site to a self-hosted site on WordPress.org.
I recommend you begin with a free site (perhaps with slight paid upgrades like a registered domain name or a premium theme) until you’ve established your blogging routine and made sure you want to continue.
Once you are committed to blogging, you then can move to a self-hosted WordPress.org site that allows for more ownership and creative flexibility. Michael Hyatt offers a great free tutorial about launching a self-hosted WordPress site.
Following are eight basic steps for creating a free WordPress blog:
1. Log onto WordPress.
2. Sign up for a free account by creating a unique username and password that you will remember.
3. Select a URL
You want your blog address to match the name of your blog. Hopefully you’ve spent some time choosing your blog’s name. If not, now’s the time to do that before you go any further.
4. Choose a theme
You want to select a theme that reflects your blogs name, tone and planned content.
- Do this by selecting “appearance” on the left side of the navigation bar.
- Select a theme for your blog from the templates provided. You can use the “feature filter” on the right side of the “available themes” box to sort through many blog options.
- Once you have chosen a theme, choose “activate” to make it active.
When selecting a theme, be sure to choose one you’ll want to use for a while. You shouldn’t change themes the way you change underwear. You want your blog readers to see visual consistency on your site.
Note: A simple Google search will unearth many blog themes that can be downloaded (many free) and then uploaded for WordPress use. I advise you to take caution if you decide to try one of these themes as they can include viruses or other glitches that create problems syncing with WordPress. There are so many options available in WordPress that I just don’t think it’s worth the risk to get a theme elsewhere.
5. Customize your theme
Many free blog themes still allow you custom options like setting your blogs name, changing the tagline and even choosing unique colors or header images. Customize your blog as much as you can to make it uniquely yours. Do this by choosing “customize” under your blog’s activated theme. It will walk you through the changes your theme allows.
All WordPress blogs have a default tagline. Be sure to change it. You can choose to eliminate the tagline completely or add your own.
6. Select widgets
Widgets allow you to change the items in the sidebar(s) and footers (if your theme offers them). These items include email subscriptions, author bios and social media buttons.
- After choosing a theme, select “widgets” in the “appearance” section in the left navigation bar.
- Choose the widgets that best suit your blog’s needs. My advice is to test the widgets until you find the ones that best support your blog’s content and purpose.
- If you drag the widgets around in the “widgets” section, you can move the order in which they’ll appear on your page.
7. Review your progress
You should take a look at each change you make to your blog. You can view your blog by clicking its name at the top left of your screen. If you’ve made a change you don’t like, you can go back and try something different.
Don’t be afraid to try things. Trust me, you can’t break the Internet. If you could, my students and I already would have done it long ago.
8. Seek help when needed
If you need help at any time while attempting to launch your blog, WordPress has a great help menu in the upper righthand corner.
After you complete these eight simple steps, you should have a shell for your blog. The next step is to begin creating content, which is an entirely different blog post. Until then, best of luck with creating your free WordPress blog!