How to Make a Free Blog – on WordPress.com (A Complete Step-by-Step Video Guide)
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When it comes to setting up a free blog (I mean: really free), there’s arguably no better to go about it than by using WordPress.com. Used by millions, WordPress.com is easy to use, powerful, and a more than capable service for both personal and business websites – absolutely ideal for anyone who isn’t quite web-savvy enough to run a website from their own self-hosted WordPress (learn more) set up.
So what’s involved? How do you get started?
Let’s take a look: step by step!
How to Make a Free Blog – on WordPress.com (A Complete Step-by-Step Guide):
WordPress powers over % of the web, making it the most popular content management system in the world. But between the need to choose hosting, buy a domain, and set up the rest of your site, it could be costly and time consuming. Luckily, with WordPress.com, you can sign up for an account and have a website in minutes. And the best part? It’s completely free. In this video, we’re going to show you how to set up a great-looking free blog using WordPress.com with no steps skipped. Let’s get started. The first thing we’re going to do is navigate to WordPress.com and click on the Get Started button. You might notice that there is a Compare plans button as well, and while there are paid accounts on WordPress.com, we’re going to be signing up with the free for life plan. First we’ll be asked some questions about the website we want to create. We’ll name the site Joe’s Tech Blog, and then we’ll be asked the topic. You can see when we start typing the topic, we’ll be given suggestions. I’m going to choose technology. Finally, we’ll be asked what the primary goal for our website is. We can choose from share ideas, to promote our business, or showcase our portfolio. Since we’re creating a blog, we’re going to choose share ideas. Then we’ll click Continue. Now we want to give our site an address. So I’ll type in some keywords, and WordPress.com will make some suggestions for premium domains that we can get or other domains we can purchase. It’ll also make the suggestion on a free domain. You can see that joestechblog is pretty common, as a number is affixed to the end of it, so let’s try to pick something that’s more unique. You can see if I use my last name with the word tech, we can get a free WordPress.com domain, so we’re going to go ahead and choose that, and then we’ll be presented with the plan that’s best for us. And when you’re ready to take your blog or website to the next level, you can upgrade at any time, but for now, we’re going to choose the free plan. We’ll put in our email address. Our user name will be the domain that we chose on the last screen, and then we’ll choose a password. And our account will be set up. At this point, you should get an email to confirm your account. So go ahead and log into your email, and click Confirm Now. Once you confirm your account, you’ll be brought to a dashboard with a checklist of things you can do to continue configuring your website. You can see that we’ve already completed three of these steps. We’ve created our site, we picked a website address, and we updated our site title. The rest of this stuff is actually optional, so we can choose whether or not we want to do it. We don’t need to upload a site icon right now, and we may not have one ready, so we’re going to skip over this. We are going to create the tagline though because we can help peak readers’ interest with a little bit more detail about the site. So we’ll click Do It, and then we will add the site title. Now we’ll click Save Settings and return to the checklist. We’ll also upload our profile picture to personalize our website a little bit more. So we’ll navigate to where our photos are. Once our photo is uploaded, we can choose to crop it into a square, so we’ll pick the best square part of the photo, and then we’ll click Change My Photo. It will get uploaded, and it will be public. While it uploads, we might as well add more information here, like our first and last name. And if you want to put a little bit of a bio here, you can choose to do that too. We’ll also change the public display name to Joe, instead of our user name. We’ll click Save these Details. And once all of our information is saved and our photo is uploaded, we can go back to our checklist. I did this by hitting the back button in the browser, which is the easiest way to get back to this checklist. Once we’re back to the checklist, we can actually choose to ignore these last three steps for now. Yes, we’ll want to choose a contact page and of course write our first blog post, but there are a few things we need to do to finish configuring our website. For example, on the left hand side under Personalize, we can click Customize to choose the theme. WordPress has chosen the Independent Publisher theme for us. While this is a good theme, we want to try to find something a little bit different. Here’s how. You can see that we’re presented with a number of different themes to choose from, both paid and free. We’re going to want to filter these a little bit to make searching them easy, so I’m going to click on Creating a Site for a Blog, and I’m going to choose only free themes here. There are a few really nice themes, and even better, the easy to use themes are labeled with the Beginner tab. Now we’re still given a lot of choices here, and that could be a little bit overwhelming. If you’re not sure which one that you like, you could always click on the three dots to see a live demo, and here you’ll get a good idea of the look and feel of your new theme. Or you can click on the Info button to see everything that the theme has to offer. Once you find one that you like, you can click the three dots again to activate the theme, and then once it’s activated, you can click Customize Site. Now I really like the Lovecraft theme, and that’s the theme that we’re going to use for this video. But we are going to see how we can customize it a little bit. And there are two ways for us to do that. We can click the Customize button that we see up top. Or if you want to customize your theme later, you can click on Customize under the Personalize heading. Now the customizer is going to be different depending on the theme that you have enabled, but in general, it allows you to make changes to your website in realtime and your website updates so you can see those changes in realtime. Don’t worry though. If you’re just playing around, none of those changes will go live until you hit the Publish button. So for the Lovecraft theme, we can do some things like change the colors and background. WordPress.com even makes some palettes available to us which are predetermined color schemes that we can choose for our websites. I’m a fan of this featured palette with the light green, so I’m going to go ahead and click that one. We’re also given the opportunity to change fonts and header images, and even make some changes to our content option. I would encourage you to get into the customizer and start playing with everything that is available to you. But with our colors and backgrounds changed, we’re going to click the Publish button. Once it’s published, we’ll X out of that, and now that we have a custom theme, we can go ahead and view the site. You can see that the site still shows up within the frame of the WordPress dashboard here, but we can fully interact with the site the way we want. And now with our theme chosen, let’s start populating our content. Our homepage includes the default post that WordPress.com blogs come installed with and a contact page that’s been pre-populated for us. In order to view and add more blog posts, you can click on Blog Posts under Manage, and you’ll be brought to a list of all of your published and drafted blog posts. We’re going to get rid of the first, or default, blog post, and then we can click on Add New to add our own. Once we do that, our dashboard will change to an editor experience, and the first time we open the editor, we’ll be given some Tool Tips to walk us through the process of creating our first post. Once we go through all the Tool Tips, we’re going to start adding our content, so we’ll add a title, My Thoughts on the iPhone, and then we will add our content. So we can start typing our content here. We have a simple visual editor bar where we can bold text and add links, and we can choose to upload media like images or audio. With our content populated, we’ll add a new category, and we’ll call that Phones and Mobile Devices, and then we’ll add some tags, iPhones, IOS, Mobile, Cell. We can also choose to upload a featured image, so we’ll click that button, and then we’ll click Add New. We’ll be given the opportunity to upload an image from our computer, and once that’s uploaded, we can set featured image. You can see that it shows up above our title here in the WordPress.com editor. The rest of the options are for related blog posts activities, like sharing. We can do things like connect our Facebook or Twitter account in order to automatically share. We can change the slug, which is the blog post URL, the end of that. And we can add a location and excerpt, and choose to turn off comments and track backs. Ping backs and track backs are when other blogs or websites link to our blog posts, they’ll get listed in the comment section. And if we’re happy with that, we can go ahead and click Publish. Once our blog post is created and we go back to the blog post screen, we can see that we have a brand new published post. Creating pages works a lot in the same way as creating a blog post, so if we click on Site Pages, you’ll see that we’ve got two pages. This is our blog post page which we can’t modify, and the content page, which we can. We can also create a new page if we want, and we’re brought to an editor that looks exactly the same as the blog post editor. So if you want to do something like create an About page, you can do that here. You’ll notice that the settings are also slightly different. We do have Status and Featured Image, so we can add a Featured Image for our pages as well. And then we do have Sharing and more options, but we also have Page Attributes. We don’t necessarily need either one of these when managing the content of our blog. So once we have our page content in place, we’ll go ahead and click Publish. Before we go, we should take a look at the Configure settings on the left hand side. So as mentioned before, we can click Sharing to connect our social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and more. We can also add other authors to our blog, so if we want to have more than one writer, we can do that. And then, we have some premium features. So if I click Plugins, you’ll see that we can look at the Plugins that are available to us, but we can’t install them unless we upgrade to the business plan. So this is something to consider during the life of your WordPress.com blog. If you want to continue to have it free, you can do that for life, but if you want to do things like have a custom domain or install Plugins, you’re going to need to upgrade to a paid plan. The same thing goes with domains. Again, we can add a domain and register it right from WordPress.com. However, we will need to upgrade to a premium plan for that. Finally, under Settings, we’ll find some information about our blog, like the title and tagline, the site icon that we talked about earlier, and the timezone. I would recommend setting the timezone to your timezone, and you can do that either by using the UTC offsets, or by picking a city that is closest to yours. So I am on the East Coast of the United States, so I am going to find New York in this list, and now my timezone is set. This is important for publishing to your website. When you publish a blog post, the published time will be set using the site timezone. I would also encourage you to take a look at the rest of this information. Another nice feature of WordPress.com is that if you want to move to a WordPress.org site where you do set up your own hosting and domain, you can do that by exporting your data and taking it anywhere you like. So we’re going to go ahead and save these settings. That’s it for this video. We now have a free WordPress.com blog, where we’ve added our first blog post, a custom page, and managed some of the settings. I encourage you to look at the rest of the settings, explore the themes and other options, and really make your WordPress.com blog your own. If you liked this video, be sure to click the thumbs up and subscribe to WinningWP for more great content.
Anything to add?