Did you know that you can easily create a blog for free and make money using the WordPress self hosted platform?
Well you can!
And the reason you can create a blog for free is simply because WordPress is an open source platform. This means it’s free of licensing requirements which is where the bulk of costs come in.
The platform, together with its programming code is available for anyone to use freely.
Did you know that WordPress currently powers over 30% of ALL websites on the internet?
I’d say that’s a pretty darn good reason to create a blog for free on the WordPress content management system.
It’s important, however, not to mistake wordpress.com with wordpress.org.
WordPress.com is a managed web hosting platform. It’s a going concern (Automattic, Inc US), in business with the objective of making profits like any other business.
You cannot create a blog for free on the .com platform.
On the other hand, wordpress.org is a “self-hosted” platform and is the platform I’m referring to here.
The beauty is that you don’t have to be a geek to create a blog for free on WordPress.
The only thing you need to do is customize your website according to personal preference and go on to create epic content.
To help you create a blog for free, I’ve created a comprehensive guide that will walk you through the entire process of setting up your very own website.
THE REQUIREMENTS TO CREATE A BLOG FOR FREE
Irrespective of the direction you follow with your online business, a website with a blog is imperative. It’s your platform to develop your brand, grow your business and generate passive income.
Want to know the biggest challenge most people face when starting out in their online businesses?
The lack of technical know-how!
Well guess what, you don’t need it. If you can follow a simple tutorial, you can easily create a blog for free AND go on to make money.
I’ll have you set up in no time at all.
I put this guide together to help you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past.
OK, here are the basic things you’ll need in order to create a blog for free.
- A suitable domain name i.e. your website address, e.g. theadamwolfson.com
- A hosting plan
I want you to be able to hit the ground running when you’re done, so here are the things I’ll cover in this tutorial:
- How to get a FREE domain name
- Signing up with the best WordPress hosting provider for beginners
- Installing WordPress
- Configuring WordPress settings
- Choosing a free website template or theme
- Premium themes
- Page builders
- Essential plugins for SEO and other functionality
FIND A SUITABLE DOMAIN NAME
Before you go on to create a blog for free you’ll need to get yourself a domain name.
Now you’re not actually going to purchase it just yet because I’ll show you how to get your chosen domain name for free.
All you’re going to do right now is find an available domain name for your business.
Here’s a very handy tool that will open up in a separate tab so you can switch between tabs while working through this tutorial.
Type in your preferred name. For this example I’ll use “labradordogs”. The next screen looks like this.
This particular domain name is already taken. However, there are some available variations under the column headed Generator. Click “See All” to list all available names.
It’s not necessary to choose a premium domain name.
The objective here is to create a blog for free. Using the tool, choose a domain name, write it down and then return here.
Great stuff. Let’s move on to the next step.
SIGN UP FOR A HOSTING ACCOUNT
I’ve hosted a number of my websites with a few of the top hosting companies around.
I’ve found Bluehost to be the best for beginners and I trust them unreservedly.
They are one of the top web hosting companies worldwide, with over 2 million websites under their control.
As a matter of fact, WordPress highly recommends Bluehost to host your site as they offer the ultimate platform for WordPress websites.
Whilst you can create a blog for free, you’ll have to pay to host it. This is the ONLY cost to you, unless you choose to spend some money on a theme and page builder – discussed later on.
But the beauty of using Bluehost is that you get a free domain name when you sign up with them. [Note: I am a Bluehost affiliate. This means that I will earn a referral fee, at no cost to you whatsoever, if you sign up using this link. I would really appreciate your business].
Their customer service is brilliant. They know WordPress backward, forwards and inside out, and are available 24/7 by phone, email or live chat.
Offering 1 click WordPress install, their hosting plans are fully scalable. There’s plenty of room to expand and grow into either cloud based or dedicated hosting, together with a number of other great features.
If you’re not happy with them for any reason, they offer a money back guarantee within 30 days.
Ok then, follow this tutorial to create a blog for free.
Click here to go to the Bluehost website. [Affiliate link] This link will open up in a new tab so can follow the tutorial easily.
Click the green Get Started Now button.
The basic plan is pretty much intended for CV type websites and something I’d recommend. The prime plan for a three year period offers the best value for money. With all the extras, it’s a really sweet deal.
Enter your chosen domain name under the new domain section.
Now go ahead and enter your credit card details.
Create your password and then log in to your account.
Now choose any free theme that tickles your fancy. The Total and Hestia themes are both good themes, but the choice is yours’. You can always change themes later on.
Click Start Building.
OK, now you’ll notice that WordPress has been automatically installed for you, so we won’t need to complete this step separately.
Choose Business or Personal depending on your preference. I chose the personal option because I’m more personally involved with my readers.
Enter your site title and description.
Now click Log in to WordPress.
Ensure your account details are correct. And you’re done.
CONFIGURE IMPORTANT SETTINGS
After you create a blog for free you’ll see that WordPress comes with certain default settings. Not all of them are ideal or user friendly so it’s best practice to change some of them.
Have you ever been to a website and seen something like this in the URL bar of your browser – https://www.example.com/?p=123.
The last part of the URL denotes the page that you are on.
I’m sure you’ll agree that the ?p=123 doesn’t tell you much about the page.
Truth be told, it doesn’t mean anything to Google either. So best we change it.
Return to the WordPress dashboard. Hover over Settings and then click on Permalinks.
Enable the Post name option. Click save.
When readers view any of your pages or posts they’ll now see your custom title in the URL which is much prettier. It’s also better for SEO.
Hover again over Settings and click Reading. Now place a tick in the checkbox to discourage indexing by search engines.
This is really important because, at this stage, you will be making customizations and don’t want Google to index your website just yet. Remember to Save the setting.
Hover over Settings and click on Media. Change the sizes of images as required. I normally change thumbnails to 250X250, medium images to 700X700 and large to 1024X1024.
Remember you chose a theme during the set up of Bluehost?
This was necessary to complete the hosting account setup and WordPress installation. But you may find that the theme you chose is not quite what you were looking for.
No problem. You can change the theme at any time without losing your work. The caveat here is that you may have to re-customize a bit.
Here’s how to change your theme.
In your dashboard, hover over Appearance, and click Themes in the sub menu. Then click on Add New. You will be taken to a screen that looks like this.
From here, you can search for over 6000 themes.
If you place your mouse over a theme, you will be given an option to preview it.
The preview may not look like the image on the themes screen, simply because all the data was not imported into the theme preview. However, the image on the themes screen gives you an idea of what you can expect.
Once you find a theme you like, hover over it again and click Activate.
The beauty of WordPress is that there are heaps of free themes to choose from.
That’s why it’s so easy to create a blog for free.
A free theme will certainly save you money, but it’s important to know the implications of free themes so as to avoid problems later on.
- As you may have noticed from the previous step, most free themes look nothing like what you saw in the illustrations on the main themes page. The images you saw showed the main page of an already customized theme, to give you an idea of what they could ultimately look like. In other words, the demo data is not included. You have to start customizing from scratch. If you’re just starting out, this can be quite difficult as well as time consuming.
- If you change your theme once you’ve worked on it for a while you’ll have to customize a number of things all over again. When you create a blog for the long term, it’s really important to consider your options carefully.
From experience, the chances are pretty high you’re going to need more functionality down the line.
So it may pay you to opt for a premium theme from the outset. It will save you plenty of time (and headaches) having to re-customize your website.
I also started with a free theme, but I had issues with mobile responsiveness – which is like major important for Google rankings – so I switched to the Genesis framework by StudioPress. [Note: I am a Studiopress affiliate. This means that I will earn a referral fee, at no cost to you whatsoever, if you sign up using this link. I would really appreciate your business].
Personally, I’ll never use any other theme and you’ll probably hear the same from any other Genesis user.
WordPress doesn’t come with any page builders. It includes its own editing screen for pages and posts.
If you know how to code using php, HTML and css, you can create a your own layouts and styles.
Don’t get me wrong here – you can still use the WordPress editor to build your posts and pages. You just don’t have the flexibility to change layouts and include text boxes, for example, without coding knowledge.
But the beauty of a page builder is that you can do all of these things without having to write a single word of code.
Now I know this article is geared towards helping you to create a blog for free, but a page builder like Elementor will help you immensely.
There is a free version which offers most of the features you need to get started, but you’ll need the Pro version for things like forms that offer easy integration with email service providers, sharing buttons, testimonials and a ton of other features.
See pricing below.
As a matter of fact, even professional coders use page builders to build their own websites.
It makes life a lot easier because you can create a blog using any, or a number of designs, with just a few clicks of your mouse.
Because of their popularity, new page builders are springing up all the time, but there are a few tried and tested ones that are worth mentioning.
I will not be going into all of the ins and outs of these, but I did want to touch on these in this tutorial.
BACK END AND FRONT END BUILDERS
For starters, there are back end page builders and front end page builders.
A front end page builder, as the name denotes, is a page builder that you use on the front end when writing a post or page. You can immediately see your website design taking shape as you add elements to your page.
A back end page builder is used on the back end of the WordPress admin panel. Furthermore, you add elements and content without being able to see the changes you make. This means you have keep previewing your page to see what the changes will look like if the website were live.
Now known as WPBakery has been around for a number of years. It can be used on the front end as well as the back end which makes it very versatile.
Irrespective, I have had firsthand experience with certain themes where the front end builder becomes problematic.
Elementor page builder is relatively new but it’s fast become the #1 page builder in the marketplace.
It’s considered to be “the” page builder to use and with very good reason.
The developers are at the cutting edge of technology and very innovative, adding new functionality to the software all the time.
Additionally, Elementor produces fully responsive layouts and you can switch from PC to tablet to mobile mode with a single mouse click to see how your site will look on each device.
By the way, the Pro Version will only set you back about $49. [Note: I am an Elementor affiliate. This means that I will earn a referral fee, at no cost to you whatsoever, if you sign up using this link. I would really appreciate your business if you decide to use Elementor].
You may be interested in reading my article about how to speed up WordPress loading time with Elementor and, in the process, gain a multitude of features that you can use to build your pages.
Beaver Builder is another excellent page builder.
It’s a front end page builder and comes with a number of templates to help you kick start your web building.
As with Elementor, Beaver Builder also allows you to view your responsive site on different devices.
SEO or search engine optimization is a prerequisite for any website. It’s easy to create a blog for free but if your website is not properly optimized, your chances of ranking well within Google search results is slim.
Yoast is not optional. It’s essential. You cannot create a blog for free and hope to make money without Yoast.
And by the way, the free version of Yoast is all you’ll ever need.
Yoast is an SEO plugin that ensures you comply properly with both on page and off page search engine optimization.
Firstly, Yoast analyses the readability of your content to ensure the following:
- Proper use of heading and subheadings
- Adequate use of transition words
- Avoiding excessive use of passive voice
- Sentence and paragraph length
- Ease of reading
Additionally, Yoast analyses your SEO in the following ways:
- Correct keyword density
- Use of meta description
- Adequate title length
- Slug length and use of stop words
- Keyword use in URL’s, headings and placement in paragraphs
- Image alt attributes
- Use of follow and no follow links
Furthermore, Yoast allows you to choose whether you want your particular page or post indexed by search engines.
From a Google perspective, Yoast generates a sitemap for you automatically, for use in your Google search console.
There are numerous configuration settings, too many to mention here, all made easy with a configuration wizard.
Apart from Yoast or a similar SEO plugin, there are no other really essential plugins that you have to install. Any others are purely at your own discretion.
I hope this tutorial has been helpful in assisting you to finally start your online business.
Apart from the cost of hosting, which with Bluehost will set back all of $39 per year (domain included), you can basically create a blog for free and go on to make money online using the WordPress platform.
Best of luck.