Diego Ortuno Rosales

Webdesign+Writing for business

The best way to create a free blog with WordPress. (For beginners, year 2024)

Start your free WordPress blog. This complete tutorial will guide you step by step through setting up, writing and publishing your blog.

Diego Ortuno Rosales

Author, web designer, librarian

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If you want to start a blog, there are countless options on the Internet, each one fighting to position itself as the best. As those who know me, read or work with me know, I only recommend what I have tried, used and found to be of good quality.

Starting a blog is the easiest part of the process. Writing it and maintaining it can be much more difficult, but if you have a clear objective in mind you just have to keep moving forward, like someone who wants to reach the top of a mountain and must push themselves to keep moving forward. The conquest of the mountains is of incalculable wealth.

I've worked with Blogger for personal use for 2 decades and with WordPress professionally enough to know all its pros and cons. If you just want to start a personal blog, go for Blogger (blogger.com), it has everything you need, it's very easy to use and free.

WordPress, on the other hand, is a more modern system with advanced and dynamic design. It has customization options, both in the front appearance and in the internal configuration. If this is what you are looking for, grab a coffee or tea and let's go for it.

WordPress

In this post I will tell you how to open a free blog with hosting and payment system. WordPress.com. It is a practical option, quick to implement and free. But before going to the steps to do it, I will tell you about 2 better alternatives, in case you have in mind to expand your website later. The limitations of WordPress.com are, on the whole, quite annoying and I will elaborate on them later. It is important that you know your options so that the horizon of your trip is clear and you know what to expect in the future.

(If you are not interested in knowing the alternatives, go directly to the steps and just click on this image ↓).

The 2 best alternatives are built with the operating system original of WordPress, which is downloaded for free from WordPress.org. I also suggest using a hosting other than WordPress.com, much less expensive and with better service.

The first alternative It is the best because you can launch the website online and build it live, without any limitations. Although there will be at least some installation process and the domain must be paid for, the medium and long-term effort will help reap the best fruits.

The second alternative It is building your blog or website in the memory of your own computer and then, when it is ready, launching it on the Internet.

Note: WordPress.com and WordPress.org They are two different companies, although they share part of the name and logo.

WordPress.org

44% on the Internet uses the WordPress operating system, the most popular on the planet and is downloadable free from WordPress.org. It is open source and the countless applications (called plugins) free and paid that are added allow the construction of websites with a creative horizon that goes beyond the stars.

If you want to launch your blog right away, you will need to pay for the domain and perhaps hosting, depending on your choice.

You can get the domain very cheap at Namecheap.com. Most domains are priced around $9 per year. Additionally, your domain can acquire commercial value.

Hosting a small site is free on Cloudflare.com. Another cheap option is Amazon (AWS) (charges month to month from around $5). I build my websites on one of the fastest servers in 2023: Siteground. It is more expensive (much less than WordPress.com), but if you want to position yourself big on the Internet, this is your best option.

If you want me to take care of installing the hosting and domain for your blog, contact me and let's have a conversation.

If you don't need to launch the blog right away, you can host the WordPress operating system in your local memory and build your blog there. When it is ready you can review the hosting options to launch it on the Internet. Soon I will write a tutorial on how to do it.

Pros

  • Infinite creative horizon for your blog, website, personal brand or business.
  • Open source for custom configurations.
  • You have at your disposal a constant production of countless free and paid applications and tools (plugins) to assist and improve your website in all aspects. From security, design, performance improvement, to integration of original payment buttons from your own country.

Cons

  • Domain and hosting may require payments.
  • The breadth of options can cause a bit of confusion when setting up.
  • The first steps to follow require taking certain steps that are not so intuitive at first glance.
Of course, to counter these cons I am here to help you.

WordPress.com

The free version of WordPress.com has the basics necessary to build a blog with a design that is pleasant to look at and read, easy-to-understand functions, and good customization capacity. Plus, all hosting and domain installation steps are already covered.

In that sense, WordPress.com is a practical option.

The WordPress.com Settings Panel imitates to that of the WordPress operating system. It is a lower version and closed because it removes access to many options in the original version.

Pros

  • Quick installation (hosting and domain already included).
  • 1 GB hosting and free domain (ending in .wordpress.com).
  • Easy to set up.
  • Professional design to choose from multiple themes.
  • Good security, speed and performance.
  • Facilities for collecting payments.
  • Learn to use an operating system similar to the original WordPress.

Cons

  • Compared to a website built with the original WordPress operating system, the options for web building are very limited.
  • If you want to expand your website, the payment plans are very limited, expensive and with mediocre service.
  • There are many walls to block the growth of your website. For example: the use of additional applications (plugins), which are free in the WordPress operating system, require payment for a very expensive hosting plan.

WordPress.com is a good option for a blog or website gratuitous and simple.

How to Create a Free Blog with WordPress.com Hosting

We'll do a basic installation, walk through the features and configuration options, and see how to manage content.

It is advisable to follow all the steps to save time.

Basic installation

Go to WordPress.com and press Begin at the top right of the page.

Create an account with your email or through Google or Apple.

Then it will ask you to write and select a domain name. Just type it and a list of available domains will appear. I chose stale coffee because I love it and drink it every day. WordPress.com's free plan allows you to create a domain name that ends in .wordpress.com. Press on the button Choose.

Remember, it is better to choose a paid plan elsewhere than on WordPress.com. I have had several clients regret paying here. 

Once you pressed the button Choose A collection form for value $0.00 will appear with a button Continue. We press on this one.

Now we will choose the free plan by clicking on the button Get started for free.

Now a form appears to select the website objectives. Make your selection, just Write and publish.

Now we will enter the name and description of the blog.

Pro tip: make sure they are very short. The name, up to 5 words, and the description, up to 12. Less is more, quality > quantity. Pro tip 2: these steps can be edited later, with this practice we save time and learn.

And here we are. Your website is now installed, congratulations! Now we can start creating content, customizing styles and publishing.

In this transition screen we can go to the WordPress dashboard or Explore designs, but we'll go where we came from: writing the first entry (as an exercise).

Content management

Before we continue, let me explain a couple of things real quick.

As we already said, WordPress is an operating system, and to be more specific, it is a content management system (CMS). What does that mean?

A content management system (CMS) is software that helps users create, manage and modify the content of a website without requiring technical knowledge. That is, it allows you to create a website without having to write code or know how to program.

In WordPress you can create 2 types of content: posts (posts) and pages (pages). What is the difference between the two?

  • Publications: blog posts. Pieces of content displayed in reverse chronological order (latest post first, older posts next) that you'll spend the most time on.
  • Pages: They are more static. Typically you find them in the navigation menu. These are where you put your contact information (“Contact” page), your personal story (“About me”), the main blog page, and that sort of thing.

Write your first blog post

So we continue with the exercise of publishing our first blog entry. On this screen I highly recommend that you press the button Take the guided tour. This guide will teach you how the block editor. This is very important because you will learn and know how to:

  • Use the blog post editor.
  • Access all configuration and styling tools.

I will still review the guided visit.

Now we will add a title and write some text. For example, I wrote the following:

Block format

As we saw in the guided tour, each piece of content is ordered by blocks and each block has a format. The first 2 blocks are common and default paragraphs, no formatting needs to be applied to them. The third, the quote about the chorus of the song, well, it is in quote format. How do we apply this format?

I continued drafting the following steps to introduce Lanie Gardner and embed her cover from Dreams on Youtube and I thought it would be a good idea to create 2 columns, one with text and one with the video because it is vertical.

Move the pointer mouse on the right side of the empty paragraph and clicked on the “+” sign to add the block and in the list of formats I searched columns. So I selected 50/50.

I copied and pasted the text from the previous paragraph in the left column and in the right block I searched Youtube to embed the video with the URL address. That's right, I just copied the page address of the cover's YouTube video and pasted it there.

Preview

In my opinion, it is turning out quite well. Let's preview on tablet and cell phone. This is very important because most people use cell phones much more than any of the other devices and if we want them to read us, we must take them into account.

Pro tip: Upload images optimized for cell phones. That is, image files that, ideally, weigh up to 50-70 kb. If you upload files in WEBP format, even better. A great tool to convert JPG and PNG files to WEBP is the page Bulk Resize Photos, very easy to use, which I have used with all the images in this entry on my blog and the one on Café y rock. In this post I show you the best way to optimize the images on your website.

For that we go to the top right and click on the icon between Save as draft and the button Post.

To conclude, I added a couple of final paragraphs to the review and clicked on the Publish button. Then the right column showed me a list of features that I recommend reviewing.

For example, you can decide whether the entry's visibility will be public, private, or password protected. You can select the date of the publication. Be now, that is, date and time when you press the publish button. In the past, if you want to show a day in the last month as the publication date. You can schedule to publish in the future, for example, on Friday of the following week at 8 in the morning...

Organize your posts

It is important to add category and tags. One (1) category for each post (in my case I put taxes) and the tags you want (in my case, lanie garder, fleetwood mac, stevie nicks, 70s rock, dreams, covers, female voice, female grace, rock lyrics, romantic lyrics, poetic lyrics…).

Categories and tags are important because they help organize information and search engines like Google find publications more easily. By creating the Tributes category I am differentiating my reviews on Original songs. With tags I describe all the things the post is about.

Finally we click on Publish and then on Next steps and then publish the blog itself.

Blog post

With this you can now publish your blog at once.

Congratulations! You already have a blog and website.

Edit your pages

In the left bar of the WordPress dashboard we go to the Pages menu. Once there we go to the three points to the right of the page we want to edit and press so that the options are displayed.

In this case we only have the page About and above the page list there is a button Add new page. In this case we are only going to press on the option edit and this takes us to the page to edit it.

The explanation of this page and its function is very clear. Its editing is the same as that of the block editor of the blog entry. I'm going to modify the content and add an image block.

It remained like this:

You can see the full website at cafépasadoyrock.wordpress.com.

Topics

Simply put, themes give your blog a design. Each theme can modify its own fonts, colors and structure. A blog theme will come with default layout of publications archive, which is the page where blog posts are listed, as well as another default layout for each post. A store theme, on the other hand, will have designs for your product archive and for each individual product.

There are several free default themes and you can change the appearance of your blog by going, in the left bar of the WordPress dashboard, to the menu Appearance, submenu Topics.

Depending on the theme, once selected you can change its colors, fonts, style by clicking below on Personalize. It will then open a new screen, like this one, where you will use the WordPress theme customizer:

In the case of the current theme, changing the style requires paying for a Premium account, so I'm going to leave it as is because it seems sufficient to me. However, I can preview a change from the Site editor.

You can try other themes to see if they have more free customization options for free.

Plugins

Now, the plugins are very, very interesting, but they are not available in the WordPress.com free plan. You have to expand to a level plan Creator ($25/month) to get them and that plan is very expensive. However, you should know what they are.

In short, plugins expand the functionalities of the website. They can add contact forms, new design options, or turn your blog into a public forum with paid membership. They can do anything a programmer can build and there are mountains of them.

But while you're on the free plan, learn what WordPress can do on its own, which is quite a bit too. If you are interested in doing something with the plugins, you will get a better deal talk to me.

The benefits of improving your experience as a blog writer

Now that you have a free blog up and running, why would you want to invest money in it?

Imagine this: maybe at first you just use it to write various random notes. Afterwards you will receive 1, 2 or 10 constant readers. Maybe 10 times that. At the end of the day, you're writing something useful, entertaining, or persuasive and that attracts a lot of eyes.

Memory and performance

If you're uploading photos, at some point you'll hit the space limit. If you receive many visits, the server will have to make more efforts to open your website on each new visiting device and the provider (WordPress.com) could limit visits, damaging the visitor experience and notifying you that if you do not pay, there is no more cake.

Personalization

Additionally, you will want to have a custom domain name like cafeyrock.com, instead of the one that has .wordpress.com in the end. You will also want to remove the WordPress banner in the website header.

Expansion of functionality and design

Access to third-party plugins and themes becomes infinite and the functionalities turn this free website, a little paper airplane, into an interstellar cargo spaceship. With plugins you can install features like Yoast SEO to give your website a little boost in search rankings, or Contact Form 7 to create more advanced contact forms. If you organize events for your community, you can install something like The Events Calendar to keep everyone informed.

Professional support

Lastly, there is professional support. Because a website is a machine and requires advice, maintenance and updating. Support is really important because if your blog becomes your business, you will need it. Sometimes websites crash and that is normal. With support you can solve these problems much faster and easier. Without it, you will have to rely on the community. The community is amazing, by the way, but they don't get paid to help you quickly. In addition, each website is unique because technology and artistic creativity merge in web design and development.

Maybe in the end it depends on whether blogging is actually your distraction or your business. If it is your business or you plan to turn it into one, I have already said it several times, Contact me so we can see your best options.

How does WordPress compare to other free web services?

There are websites like Wix or Weebly with free plans for those who are starting out. However, they specialize in building websites, while WordPress, from the beginning and until today, specializes in blogs. In reality, its only competitor due to inertia and age is Blogger.

On the other hand, Blogger is very small and lacks functionality. Especially if we compare with the universe of own and third-party themes and plugins that, thanks to WordPress's open source, continues to grow. Wix and Weebly have plugins and themes in a closed environment and their number (and quality) is tiny in comparison.

Wix and Weebly can perhaps help you with an informative website of 1 to 4 static pages, although even that can be achieved with better results in WordPress.

On top of everything, your website would be locked on their servers. Your migration is cancelled. You may be able to migrate certain content, but everything that had its own functions is impossible to move.

On the other hand, the WordPress operating system, downloadable and free from WordPress.org, can be installed on multiple server companies around the world and when migrating it is possible to keep the website intact.

Do you have doubts or questions?

Write me a comment, I'm happy to respond.

Build your free WordPress blog now

If you want to return to the part of the tutorial where the steps to follow to start your blog are, click on the following image.

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