A Step-By-Step Guide On How to Create a FREE WordPress Blog and Finally Self-Publish Your Work Without All the Red Tape
So you wanna learn how to self-publish your work without all the hassle and within your budget?
Have you always wanted to publish your work somewhere, but the more traditional methods have so many roadblocks between you and being published?
Are you looking to make a place where your hobby can be out, loud, and proud?
Well, today we’re gonna talk about how to create a free WordPress blog, and how you can finally self-publish your work without all the hassle and red tape.
But first, let me make one thing REALLY clear:
this isn’t a blog post on how to monetize your work.
I’ll mention some ways you might be able to your work at the end, if that’s what you’re looking for, but ultimately this is a post about how to create a WordPress Blog to publish your work as a hobby.
So if all you’re looking for is a creative outlet, this is the place to start!
But that brings us to the question:
How DO you create a blog for your writing?
It’s actually pretty simple, easy, and not completely time-consuming (depending on how much care you put into customization and small details.)
Note that, I’m not going super deep into detail about every little thing you can do with your blog — I just want to help you get started.
I’m also focusing on the free version of WordPress. So, no cool themes and no plugins. I’ve never used plugins before anyway, so I don’t think that’s an area I’m qualified to help.
BUT, I will be going super deep into detail about every step along the way!
Let’s start with making an account.
(Also, I will be using the words “blog” and “website” interchangeably.”)
How to Create an Account
So, first things first, go to the WordPress website.
You’ll see a blue “Start your website” button right in the center of the page. Go ahead and click on it.
You’ll be greeted by the sign-up form where you’ll fill in your email, username, and password.
Or you can sign up with Google or Apple. That’s not how I did it here, nor have I ever done it, but it should be similar enough to the regular sign-up (email + password).
Now you’ll type in the domain name of your website. Make it whatever you want your blog to be called! Then select the free domain option circled in the image below. If you have the money to spare, and you want the other options, go ahead and pick what you want.
Just be aware that I’ll only be discussing the free version.
Then it’ll ask you to select a plan. I’ve circled where you click to pick the free option.
Again, if you want one of the pay options, go right ahead! But I’m focusing on the free plan.
You’ve now created your WordPress blog!
Don’t worry, it’s not public yet. You can launch your website whenever you want, but we have a bit of work to get through to make it ready.
Setting Up Your Account & Launching Your Website
Now that you have your website, let’s start settings things up!
We’re gonna focus on the list to the right for a sec.
The only thing that you should really do from here is confirm your email address. By now, you should’ve gotten an email from WordPress asking you to do as such. All you need to do is click the button in the email. You shouldn’t need to sign in again.
Everything else in that list we’re gonna ignore for now.
Now on the left side of the page, there’s another menu. You’ll wanna go click on or hover over “Appearances,” and then click on “Themes.”
Once you’re on the “themes” page, you’ll see some themes you can pick for your blog.
A theme is just a design for your website (like how it’ll appear, how you use it, and theme-specific tools).
You can pick any of them you want for your website. Different themes are better made for certain subjects.
For example, there are some that are designed more for showing off your art or photography, some are built for podcasting, and some are better suited for writing.
We’re gonna stick with writing for now.
You can sort out what kind of themes you can pick by subject.
Scroll down the page until you see a button that says “Show all themes.” Click it, and you’ll be presented with a search bar.
BUT FIRST, click on the “free” button to the right of the search bar. That’ll keep your options to only the free ones, and hide the premium themes.
You can pick whichever you want, but if you’d like to have a more writing-specific design, search for “writing” or “blog,” and pick out a theme you like.
You can click on the themes to see more information, and click on the “Open Live Demo” to see what it’ll look like on your website.
So go ahead and peruse all the themes, and pick one that you’d like — you can always change it later if you don’t like it or are bored with your current one.
For this tutorial, I picked Penscratch 2.
After you’ve chosen your theme, hit the go back button and look at the grey menu on the left again.
See the “Posts” button?
Click or hover over it, and you’ll the “Categories” option appear.
Now, this is the only complicated part that you’ll have to deal with. It’s not really that difficult, but it can be annoying and a bit confusing.
Even when I was doing this part for this blog post, I got a little messed up myself.
Don’t worry too much, we’ll get through this together.
Basically, we need to create categories so when you write a post, you can tell it where to go. For example, on my website, I created a category for “Blog.” So when I create a post, I can select “Blog” as a category, and the post will appear under the “Blog” section of the website’s menu.
That’s fine. It was hard for me to understand when I first did it.
I’ll just go step-by-step, and you can follow along.
So after you’ve gotten to the categories page, you are presented with this page:
You wanna click on the “Add New Category” button, and then type in what type of category you want. You can keep it as simple as I have on my website, you can just type “Blog” and call it a day. Then every time you write a new blog post, you just need to pick the “Blog” category pictured above.
BUT if you’d like to make a couple of different categories to separate, say, different genres of short stories and poetry, then you’ll need to do a bit more work.
Start by typing in the category you want, and hit the “Add” button.
Say you want a page with all your poetry, and you want the categories “Haiku” and “Sonnet” as a part of that page. You’ll add both of those here, and explain more on that later.
Now, if you want to separate those even further, you enter another category and then click the “Top level Category” switch. After that, a drop-down will appear, and you’ll click on the category that you want your sub-category to be under.
Maybe you write sonnets about tragedy or love. You’ll want to type one of those two, and then click the “Sonnet” button to make it the “parent” of this new sub-category.
When you have all your categories and subcategories ready, look back to the grey menu on the left and select “Appearance” and then “Customize.”
Once you’re on the customization screen, look at the menu on the left. Click on “Menus” and then “Primary.”
Before you can add your categories to use in the menu, you need to first add the pages for your categories.
Again, if you’re going with a simple “Blog” page for everything, you just need to make sure that “Blog” is one of the pages. The theme I chose already had a “Blog” set up, so sometimes you won’t have to add a new page.
Otherwise, you’ll start by clicking on the “Add Items” button, and it’ll open up another menu. You wanna click on the “Pages” tab, and type the name of your new page into the bar circled below. Now click the “Add” button, and they’ll appear on the left-hand menu.
For this tutorial, I’ve used “Short Stories” and “Poetry” as my pages.
Now, after you’ve added them, click on the “Categories” tab.
The categories you’ve already added should appear here. Just click on the word you used for a category, and it’ll appear on the left-hand menu.
For this tutorial, I’ve used “Haiku, Sad, Happy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Sonnet, Love, Hate, and Tragedy.” as my categories.
Once you’ve added all your categories, it’s time to sort them.
If you don’t know which block is a category or page when sorting, look at where I marked below. Each is labeled on the right side of the block.
You sort them by clicking and dragging the category blocks on the left-hand menu, and then placing them in the order you’d like.
When dragging them, the blocks can be stacked either on the same level or staggered. It’s hard to show on an image, but look below to understand a bit better.
You want the categories to be underneath a “Page,” and placed a little more to the right.
That way the category will appear on the menu under the page it’s been placed in.
And now the weird, complicated stuff is finally done!
Now when you’re composing a post in WordPress, all you need to do is click the “Categories” tab on the right-hand menu, and click pick the category you want it to go under.
(Don’t worry, I’ll explain more about that in a moment.)
The rest of the customization is up to you.
Click on the back button a couple of times, and you’ll be back to the original customization menu. From here you can choose different fonts, background colors, add images, social media menus, an archive section, etc., etc.
Play around with the options, and make your website as flashy or plain as you’d like!
When you’re done customizing, go ahead and launch your site!
Do that by going back to the main home screen and click on the launch button on the right.
Congratulations again! You now have a live website to post whatever you want!
“So now that I can post on my blog, how do I even go about that?”
I hear you ask.
Well, that’s pretty easy!
Formatting & Publishing Posts
When you’re ready to start posting, go back to the home screen and click the “Post” button on the left-hand grey menu.
Click on “All Posts” and you’ll be brought to the “posts” page.
Here you can see what’s been posted, what’s waiting in the drafts, what’s scheduled to post, and posts that have been deleted.
To start a new post, click on the “Add new post” button on the right.
Now, you’ll wanna click on the cog icon on the top right of the page. That’ll open a menu for things like tags, categories, featured images, and scheduling your post.
It’s also where you can change things like image and text size, font and background colors, etc.
I just like having it open for easy access. If you open it and hate it, go ahead and just click the cog icon to close it again.
On the top right of the menu, there are two tabs: “Post” and “Block.”
The “Post” tab will show the post’s overall options, and the “Block” tab will show the options for whatever block you’ve clicked on.
I’ll explain what blocks are in a moment.
First, there are two sections here: the title of your post on top, and then the rest is for typing (or copy and pasting) your work.
Once you start typing, a little box will appear with text options. Options such as text alignment, bold/italics, adding links to the text, and adding blocks for images and text.
The button on the very left of the little box is an option to change what type of block you’re using.
Blocks are like these “inserts” (for a lack of a better word) that allow different types of formatting for your post.
For example, before you even start typing, the post’s first block is automatically a “Paragraph” block.
If you want something like an image or buttons for your social media, click on the black square with the plus sign on the right side of the typing space.
A little menu will appear, and you can click “Browse all” to see all the different kinds of blocks, or you can type in the search bar if you know the name.
You can have as many blocks, in any type, as you want. Go ahead and peruse the different kinds.
Once you’ve written your post, go ahead and click on the “Save draft” button if you’re not ready to post.
Or click on the “Publish” button if you’re ready right now.
If you wanna schedule a post, click on the “Post” tab and then the blue text that says “Immediately.” A mini calendar will appear with a clock. Enter the date and time you want your piece to go live, and then hit the “Schedule…” button on the top where the “Publish” button was.
Congratulations for the final time!
You’ve now posted your first piece!
Now you can continue posting whatever you want as often as you want.
And I wish you luck on all your writing adventures.
Conclusion & Monetization
I hope you learned something from this post, and feel inspired to create a space for your own hobby.
I had made one before, and to have that much creative freedom was a lot of fun. It’s not a money maker by any means, but it’s just really nice to have a space where you can write however and whenever you want.
There is no publisher telling you “no” or how they think you should write.
You just get to write.
And I think that’s pretty cool.
Now, if you are looking to monetize your hobby, here’s a few things you can try:
- Create a Ko-Fi or Patreon account and receive donations.
- If you buy the premium plan on WordPress, you can earn money from ads (although, I believe you need a certain amount of views within certain time frames.)
- Compile your work from your website and sell it as an eBook on Amazon: Kindle Direct Publishing. Although, I believe they don’t like you keeping your work up online if you’re selling with them.
- Try submitting some of your pieces to magazines. Here’s a list of places you can send submissions. Note that, publishers rarely want a piece that has already been published somewhere (including personal blogs). Just something to keep in mind.
These are not guaranteed methods, and a lot of marketing and time would need to go into them. ‘Cause readers don’t just magically drift to you and throw their money at you.
An audience requires a lot of your time and investment and consistency. But if all you’re looking for is a creative outlet and hobby, then don’t worry about any of that and just write and publish to your heart’s content!
Thank you for reading, and happy writing!