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 six easy steps
Start by going to wordpress.com and when the WordPress.com page is displayed click on Start a Blog. When the Create a unique blog page is displayed click on Get Started to go to the first step in the set-up process.
Choosing a topic and design
The first screen, Step 1 of 6, is the Create your blog today! screen where you can choose what your blog is about. Click on the most relevant topic and then, on the next screen, choose a category within your chosen topic.
On the the next screen (Step 2) What would you like your homepage to look like? you can choose a layout/design for your blog. Once you have chosen a layout you are taken to Step 3 where you can choose a theme for your blog.
Choosing a theme
On the Choose a theme page you can pick out a theme that appeals to you. The theme determines the look and style of your blog (for example, colours, font style, the layout of your blog page etc.). Don’t worry if 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 4 where you can choose a domain name for your blog.
Choosing a domain name
Your 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.
In this step (Step 4 of 6) you can choose a free .wordpress.com domain name (this will include wordpress in the domain name) or you can set up a custom domain name which omits wordpress. A custom 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 page to map it (link it) to your new blog.
When you have decided on a name, type it in the Enter a domain or keyword box. A list of available free and premium (paid for) domains is then displayed. If you choose a free domain you are taken to Step 5 (see Choosing a plan below) where you can choose the plan you want to use.
If you choose a premium (paid for) domain name you are then given the option to add an email address to your blog. You can either click on Add Email or click on No thanks. The Pick a plan that’s right for you page is then displayed.
Choosing a plan
On the Pick a plan that’s right for you page (Step 5 of 6) 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 Select Free (note that this option is only available if you chose a free domain name). You will then be taken to Step 6 – the final step in setting up your blog. If you have chosen a premium domain name and/or want to upgrade to a paid for plan, click on Upgrade to the plan you want to use.
Creating your account
In this final step (Step 6 of 6) you simply enter your email address and then choose a user name and password. If the name you choose already exists, a warning is displayed. Note that your password must be at least 6 characters long. When you have added all of your account details click on Create My Account.
Verifying your email address
On the next screen you will see a message saying Click on the link in the email sent to you. So, go to your email box, find the email called Activate (followed by your username), open it and then click on Confirm Email Address. You are then automatically taken to the WordPress login page where your username and password should already be displayed (if they are not, type them in). Click on Log in to go to your new blog where you can now create your very first post.
How quick and easy was that?