How to Get Started with WordPress: The Complete Beginner‘s Guide

WordPress powers over 43% of all websites, and for good reason. This open-source content management system (CMS) makes it easy for anyone to create a beautiful, functional website or blog without needing to know how to code.

In this step-by-step beginner‘s guide, we‘ll walk you through everything you need to know to get up and running with WordPress.

A Brief History of WordPress

Originally created in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, WordPress began as a simple blogging platform. The name WordPress is an abbreviation of "WordPress blog." Over the years, WordPress evolved from a simple blogging tool into a full-featured CMS that now powers everything from personal blogs to Fortune 500 company websites.

Some key milestones in WordPress history include:

2005 – The first official WordPress release. WordPress quickly becomes the most popular blogging platform.

2010 – WordPress 3.0 "Thelonious" is released, marking WordPress‘ transformation from a blogging platform to a full-featured CMS.

2021 – WordPress powers over 43% of all websites, far surpassing competitors. New block editor brings improved editing and customization options.

Today – WordPress continues to be updated and improved by a large open-source community. With thousands of free themes and plugins, the possibilities are endless. vs

Before installing WordPress, an important decision is whether to use or

  • The self-hosted open source WordPress software you can run on your own web hosting account.
  • Offers endless customization and control.
  • Requires purchasing hosting and a domain name separately.
  • Recommended for most users who want full control over their website.

  • Free, hosted blogs from without needing separate hosting.
  • Less flexibility and limited customization options.
  • Cannot install all themes and plugins.
  • Best for basic blogs without need for advanced features.

For the rest of this guide, we‘ll focus on the self-hosted which gives you full flexibility over your website.

How to Install WordPress (Step-by-Step)

Ready to get your WordPress site up and running? Here‘s what you need to do:

Step 1: Get a Domain Name and Web Hosting

A domain name (e.g. and web hosting are required to run WordPress. Many excellent and affordable hosting options exist, but we recommend sticking with well-known hosts that specialize in optimized WordPress hosting such as:

  • Bluehost – One of the top recommendations for hosting WordPress sites
  • SiteGround – Very fast hosting with excellent support
  • WPEngine – Created specifically for hosting WordPress

Step 2: Sign up for Web Hosting

Once you‘ve selected your web hosting provider, sign up for one of their shared hosting plans. For most users, shared hosting meets the needs for running WordPress sites.

Set up your account details and register your domain name if you don‘t already have one. Most hosts make the initial sign-up process quick and painless.

Step 3: Install WordPress with Your Host

Reputable WordPress hosts like Bluehost include one-click WordPress installation options through cPanel or their own custom control panel interfaces.

Once your account is set up, simply find the "One-Click Install WordPress" option and let your web host handle automatically downloading WordPress, creating the database, setting up vital configuration files, and more.

After a minute or two, WordPress will be completely installed and ready to set up!

Step 4: Log Into Your WordPress Dashboard

After WordPress finishes installing, your host will create a temporary password for accessing your WordPress admin dashboard.

Go to and enter the admin username and password provided by your host to login and access the WordPress backend for the first time. This is your powerful WordPress dashboard from which you can control everything on your site.

Upon first login, take a minute to change your password to something secure you‘ll remember. Leave the username as is.

How to Set Up and Customize Your WordPress Site

You now have a fully functioning WordPress site ready to customize to your needs. Here are the key steps to take next:

Choose and Install a Theme

Themes control how your WordPress site appears visually. Thousands of free and premium WordPress themes offer different site layouts and design options to choose from.

From your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Themes. Switch your site to an appealing, professional theme by hovering over your desired theme and clicking "Activate". Search for themes by keyword to narrow options down.

After activation, click Customize to tweak your theme‘s colors, fonts, and other settings. Add your own logo and branding elements here as well.

Install Essential Plugins

Plugins add extra functionality to WordPress. While your theme controls the design, plugins handle specific features and tasks like contact forms, ecommerce, SEO optimization, security, and more.

From your dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New. Search for essential plugins to install such as:

  • Yoast SEO – Helps you optimize content for search engines
  • WPForms Lite – Adds contact forms and surveys
  • WooCommerce – Enables you to sell products online
  • WP Rocket – Dramatically improves site speed

Search for and install other plugins tailored for your particular site and needs. Over 55,000+ free plugins are in the WordPress repository.

Import Sample Content

At this point, your WordPress site likely looks very empty and sparse. Rather than starting from a blank slate, use pre-made sample content to give your site an instant head start.

Many themes include sample content downloads consisting of images, pages, dummy posts, menus, etc. Or, import posts from another site using the WordPress importer.

Populate your site upfront with sample content as a starting point for editing. You can tweak or delete anything you import later on.

Create Your Own Pages and Blog Posts

Of course, the most important step is creating your very own content!

Navigate to Pages > Add New to create new website pages. Likewise, add blog posts at Posts > Add New. The WordPress content editors make writing and formatting your pages or posts simple, even for total beginners.

Set up crucial pages like About and Contact, along with a blog for regularly publishing content. Pages make up the structure of your site while blog posts attract visitors and traffic.

Start Creating Your Content Calendar

With your site taking shape, it‘s time to map out an ongoing strategy for creating fresh content. Maintaining a regular content calendar speeds up your workflow while keeping your pipeline filled with great new posts.

Consistency is the name of the game. Commit to publishing new, valuable content on a fixed schedule whether that be daily, a few times a week, or even once a month.

Work backwards from publishing dates to assign yourself deadlines for topics, headlines, writing, editing, image creation, etc. Plot all of this out on a calendar view to stay on top of everything.

Over time, measure what content best connects with your audience. Double down on more of that while phasing out less effective post types. Refine both your process and messaging.

Why Choose WordPress? Pros and Cons

At this point, we‘ve just barely scratched the surface of everything possible with WordPress. Let‘s recap some of the key pros and cons as you continue your journey:


  • Open source and completely free software
  • Powers over 40% of all websites
  • Easy for beginners to learn and use
  • Customizable themes and plugins
  • Scales to enterprise-level sites
  • Strong SEO capabilities out of the box
  • Huge community resources for help and support


  • Hosting, themes, and some plugins cost money
  • Can feel overwhelming for total beginners at first
  • Security requires vigilance for updates, backups, and plugins
  • Advanced customization requires developer skills

With the right approach and expectations, the pros far outweigh the cons for most website owners. WordPress empowers people to turn their ideas into reality!

Ready to Get Building?

Congrats, you now know how to get started with WordPress and have the foundations in place to create an awesome site from the ground up!

It does take consistent time and effort to build a truly thriving site – but the payoff down the road is worth every bit of effort.

We covered the core basics here to help get you up and running. For even more detail on optimizing, growing, and succeeding with WordPress long-term, check out these expert guides:

[Essential Guide to Starting a Successful WordPress Blog]()
[Complete Guide to Optimizing WordPress Performance in 2022]()
[How to Make Money from an Adsense WordPress Blog]()

Here‘s to growing your perfect WordPress-powered site! The internet awaits your unique knowledge, creativity, and passion.

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