How to Start a Blog – A Complete Guide for Beginners

How to Set Up a WordPress Blog. How to Easily Install a WordPress blog on Bluehost.

Since I started with my first WordPress blog back in October 2005, I’ve been in love.

My first blog was a sports blog where I gave my funny (sometimes) opinions (all the time) on sports. I loved doing it for two years. At the time, sports blogging was still young so it was great to be a part of that. I made some money off it from advertisements. Not a whole bunch, but enough to pay for my domain and hosting every year.

(I did some searching and found my old blog in the digital archives. Wow looking at it brings back a lot of great memories.)

Even when I went through my phase of “What should I do with my life?”, I knew I wanted to have a blog of some sort. I love the ability to communicate through a blog. I love the community and meeting others writing about the same topic. I loved how it wasn’t static like a website and the newest content would always be on top.

Last year, I wrote a post last year about 10 reasons to start a blog today and I still believe all 10 are great reasons to start a blog.

Don’t start a blog thinking about money though. That’s a mistake many make, including myself. Don’t get me wrong, money can be made from your blog or because of your blog.

However, if you’re starting a blog with the sole focus of making money, you’ll lose sight of the other amazing benefits.

Starting a blog should be around a topic you enjoy. It could be an outlet for your creative writing, a collection of your travel stories, sharing your newborn baby with friends and relatives, your favorite dessert recipes or yoga for kids. Seriously the possibilities are endless.

When you start a blog, you will get so many benefits that money can’t buy.[click to tweet]

Here are just some reasons:

1) You will meet a variety of great people

Whether it be through comments, e-mails, or social media, you may be surprised at how quickly you meet people on-line. And by meet people, I mean legitimately form genuine relationships.

Bloggers are some of the nicest people out there. The blogging community is friendly, encouraging, and genuinely cheering for you to succeed. You can join that by having your own blog.

I’m not comfortable networking in a big room full of people I don’t know. So having an online presence is a much easier way for me to meet people so when we do meet face-to-face it’s like seeing an old friend.

2) You can reach unlimited people all over the world

If you’re talking to the person sitting across from you while having coffee, you can only share your message with that one person. If you’re doing a speech, you can only share your message with however many people are in the room.

If you have a blog, you can reach an unlimited amount of people all over the world. You could be sleeping or on vacation for a week, and still share your knowledge, expertise or advice with anyone who wants it.

3) It is a great creative outlet

Some people like to knit, paint, or play a musical instrument. I like everything about blogging. By having a blog I get to be creative. My blog is my online piece of real estate. It started as a blank page, and I was able to design it however I wanted. I love that.

Writing has become a great outlet for me too. I used to hate writing in high school and college, but mainly cause I was writing about essays I didn’t enjoy. Now I enjoy taking what’s in my mind, organizing it in a blog post, and sharing it here. It’s very satisfying.

4) It can lead to a book deal

Do you dream of having your book published and on shelves of major bookstores? Start a blog first.

If you can start a blog and build a huge audience, your chances of getting published increase dramatically over having no blog, no audience, and just a book idea.

Pamela Slim has a book called Escape From Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur (great book)which started out as a blog by the same name. She didn’t start the blog with the intention of writing a book, but later was approached to write a book on her expertise.

Another blog to book is 1000 Awesome Things, by Neil Patel.

Neil started posting awesome things every weekday, the site grew, got a book deal, and it turned into a New York Times #1 bestseller.

In this post on Tim Ferris’ blog, a first time author wrote about how he got a seven figure book deal.

And remember that, in a very real way, publishers aren’t buying just the idea.  They’re buying your “platform” (blog readers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, etc.). Remember this term and use it.

And you can begin to get those readers, followers, and fans from your platform – a WordPress blog.

5) It changes YOU

I started blogging as a personal tool to journal the changes that I was making and sharing that. But somewhere along the line, blogging began to change me. It has allowed me to tap into parts of me that make me feel alive.

While there are many articles written about why you should blog to grow your business or become an expert or make a whole bunch of money… the best recommendations are still found in the personal realization that blogging changes you – the writer.

Setup Your Own WordPress Blog Before You Sleep Tonight

If you’re looking for an easy way to create a web presence and start sharing your ideas online, the best way to do this is to create a blog.

If you’ve wanted to start your own, but unsure how, this tutorial is for you.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to:

  1. Get a domain name and web hosting for your site
  2. Easily install WordPress and get all of your content up on the web. I take you every step of the way.
  3. Configure your settings and site so it looks more professional
  4. Optimize your site with plugins and widgets
  5. Create your first post, page, and a simple contact form

I recommend you follow along in order I present it below.

You don’t need to be technical at all. We’re not going to be tweaking any code. Trust me I barely know how. Later down the road, if you want to learn a bit, you can, but creating a blog with WordPress is very easy for non-tech people.

Two announcements before we get started:

1) If you get stuck at any point in this tutorial and need help, I’d be more than happy to assist you. You can get in touch with me via email or in the comments. I’m serious. Please ask me questions if you get stuck. I’d hate to see anyone get frustrated and want to quit because one step seems too difficult.

I’ve helped new bloggers who’ve emailed me about getting started, so I’m happy to help many more.

2) I recommend some specific products and services in this tutorial. Be aware that these aren’t your only choice; they’re simply what I use personally and recommend.

Full Disclaimer: If you choose to use the domain and hosting option and some products I recommend in this tutorial and click my links to get to it, I’ll earn a commission (though there is no extra cost to you). I want to be very clear that there are not the only choices available. This is simply the ones I’ve been using since the beginning, and I’m very satisfied. If you do choose to use my link, thank you! 

 

Get a Domain and Hosting

The first step to building your site is to choose how you’re going to have it hosted. There are a number of ways to put up a website. For instance, you could just create a free blog at WordPress.com, or Blogger.com.

While they make it so easy to get started, it’s not what I recommend.

I believe the way to go is to have your blog on a self-hosted site with your own unique domain name. Every single blogger I know goes this route.

One reason is because you control everything on your blog. Some of the free options have restrictions and they can pull your blog at any given moment. That would suck.

If you want to do what 99.9% of the bloggers do out there, get a self-hosted blog. Still it’s totally up to you. If you want to go easy and try out blogging, then use a free site like WordPress.com.

Whether you go the free route or self hosting route, you first need to do this:

Choose a domain name.

The freedom with having a self-hosted blog and your own domain is naming it whatever you want. If I created a free blog at WordPress.com my blog address would be GetBusyLivingBlog.wordpress.com. Not so sexy.

When coming up with a name of your blog, don’t make it too long. Instead of Getbusylivingblog.com what if I decided to call it Livingyourlifetoyourfullest.com. That’s way too long I think.

If you’re unsure of what to name your blog, lean towards more clear and simple. Make it easy for someone to remember. If you tell someone your blog address, they immediately have an idea what it’s about as well.

Here are some examples:

  • NomNomPaleo.com – full of delicious paleo recipies
  • Nerdfitness.com – fitness for nerds
  • Smartpassiveincome.com – creating passive income
  • Suitcasentrepreneur.com – running a location independent business

If you are an author, artist, or your name is synonymous with what you do, you may want to use your name as your domain. That’s fine. However if you want to create a blog around a certain topic like cooking or gardening, then don’t use your name.

Make sure your domain’s spelling is very easy to spell for someone. This way, you’ll be able to mention your domain easily in casual conversation, and the person you’re talking to will be able to find it without worrying about the spelling. The goal is to make it easy for people to remember you and find you.

Also try and stick to a .com. If the domain name you want isn’t available, try the .net version. You can use dashes, but try and stay away from it.

How can you figure out if your domain name is available?

One way is to go to Namecheap.com and type the domain you want.

Namecheap blog domain setup

 

If the domain name you want is available, it will let you know. Here I searched for dogtrainingforcats.com. Naturally a blog about dog training for cats isn’t in hot demand, but it’s yours if you want it!

Finding a domain for your WordPress blog

Before I created this blog, I knew I wanted to call it Get Busy Living. However, when I checked to see if it was available, it wasn’t. The .net version was also taken.

Finding a domain for your WordPress blog

Don’t go by the “may we suggest” either. Their ideas are not even close. So I just decided add a -blog to the end of my domain name so I could keep the words get busy living in it.

You might have to get creative to get the domain you want.

Once you find a domain name that is available, then you’re done. Don’t worry about anything else on the page. Don’t register a domain there or sign up for hosting. Ignore it all.

The purpose of this was to find out if the domain you wanted was available.

(Note: In the future, if you want to create other websites or blogs, Namecheap.com is a great place to register a new domain. That’s where I go for all mine. Just Google search for a coupon code cause they’re always floating around and they change all the time.)

Once you have your domain name, now it’s time to get you some hosting.

Securing Your Domain and Hosting

When you sign up for the first time for a hosting plan, it will come with one free domain. That’s why you didn’t need to purchase it in the step above. So the domain you came up with can be used. That makes it even easier to get started.

Just like there are different types of cars you can buy, there so many different options when it comes to hosting. I’m not going to get into the more complex and pricier solutions. Mainly because you won’t need it when you’re starting out.

What I have used and recommend is the basic shared hosting plan from Bluehost. There are plenty of good hosts out there, so Bluehost certainly isn’t the only one you can use; however, I’ve been hosting all my sites through them since 2005. I’ve always been more than satisfied.

Their plans are pretty cheap, and they have one click install for WordPress (I’ll show you later).

You can choose to sign up for a 12, 24, or 36 months. The longer you sign up for the cheaper it will be per month. There is no long term contract. You can cancel anytime and get a refund of the remaining months you have left. There is also a risk free 30 day money back guarantee.

So this tutorial assumes you are using Bluehost; however, if you choose another host, these instructions should be pretty similar to what you need to do.

Go to Bluehost and click the big button that says “Sign Up Now”. On the next page, you’ll see two choices. If you need a domain name, then enter the domain name you want in there.

We already checked with Namecheap.com so we know what we type in will be available.

Setup your Bluehost Account for your WordPress Blog

 

For those options you can leave unchecked. I use a different option to backup all my sites. The “Domain Whois Privacy” is up to you. If you have it, what it’ll do is hide your contact info if someone is searching to see who is the owner of your domain.

Finishing filling out the form with your personal information and how you will pay.

On the next page, BlueHost will next ask you to “Select the Upgrades that Best Suit Your Needs.” I would skip all of these. Click the Complete button at the bottom of the page.

Now you need to choose a password for your account. Click on the create your password link. You should create a strong password. If you want, you can use their password generator.

Use the Password Generator option to create a strong, difficult-to-hack password. Copy this to the clipboard by pressing Command-C if you are on a Mac or Control-C if you are on a PC. Now click the Paste button to paste the password into the appropriate fields. The click the Create button. This creates your new BlueHost account.

Make sure you keep that password in a safe place. The password they create won’t be easy to memorize (unless you have a photographic memory). So write it down somewhere.

Then you will be asked to login to your domain. Use the password you just selected. Since you previously copied it to the clipboard, you can paste it with Command-V on the Mac or Control-V on the PC. Now click on Login.

You may have to click through another upgrade offer. Feel free to decline by kicking on the “No thanks” link and proceed to the next screen.

Now you should be at the cPanel (short for ”Control Panel”). Dismiss the “Need Help Getting Started?” dialing box.

How to Install WordPress

This step may seem complicated, but if you signed up with Bluehost, it’s going to be very simple.

I made a video to show you how easy it really is to install WordPress. I’ll walk you through each step. It took less than four minutes to install WordPress.

Congrats!

You should now have a fully functioning WordPress installation! If you visit your site right now, you’ll see the title with the default WordPress theme.

Next go to your WordPress dashboard by going to http://yoursitename.com/wp-admin.

Type in your user name and password that you just created. You should have gotten an email from WordPress with that information as a reminder in case you already forgot.

Quick Tour of the WordPress Dashboard

Before we get to creating a post, let’s take a tour of WordPress. Don’t worry if it all seems overwhelming at first. It’s really not.

Quick tour of the WordPress Dashboard

 

Updates – shows you how many updates that need your attention. Always a smart idea to keep your plugins and WordPress updated for security purposes

Jetpack – a collection of tools you can use for your blog. Will show you soon how to activate it.

Posts – This is where you can view current posts or create new ones.

Media – This is where all your photos, videos, audio, or whatever media you have uploaded will be located. Typically it’ll be filled with just photos.

Pages – Pages are different from posts because they can focus on just one thing. When you create a post, it shows up on your blog’s front page and the newest content is put on top. A page is more of a static page. It’s good for content you don’t change often like your about page, contact page, or resources page.

Comments – Here you can see what comments have been left on your blog. You can reply to comments, edit them, or delete spam comments.

Appearance – This is where you can customize the look and feel of your site. You can select different themes, add widgets, and create a navigation bar.

Plugins – This is where you can manage your plugins. Plugins are tools that can help your WordPress blog. There are tons, and I’ll cover some important ones to install later.

Users – Every blog probably has at least two users: admin, the account initially set up by WordPress, and the user account you, as the author/owner of the blog, use to write posts. But maybe you want more; perhaps you want several authors for your blog. If you want a person to be able to post to your blog, that person must have access to a user account; typically, every person will have her or his own user account.

Tools – WordPress Tools provide you the ability to speed up WordPress for your local machine, import content from other sources, export your content, or to upgrade your WordPress software to a new release. Personally, I’ve never used it. It might be for advanced users.

Let’s Change Some Settings

Go to your dashboard and go to Settings —-> General

Setup your WordPress Blog Settings in your Dashboard

Here you can see the name of the site that you created earlier in Bluehost. If you want to change it, you can change it here. Also add in a tagline that describes your site. You can always change that as well. When you’re done, scroll down and click “Save changes”.

Next under Settings go down to Permalinks. Here you will want to click the option for Post Name. By default WordPress will show your posts as Yourdomainnam.com/?p-123. It’s ugly and it doesn’t help with Google search rankings. So you want to change it so the name of your post title will show up at the end. Much better looking.

Changing WordPress permalinks

Widgets

Set Up WordPress Widget SidebarA widget is tool that allows you to add content and features to the sidebar. If you look on my blog, everything in the right sidebar is from a widget. I can remove widgets, add them, and reorder them very easily.

On the sidebar click on Appearance —-> Widgets.

When you’re on the widgets page, you’ll see in the middle the variety widgets you can add. Those come with WordPress. When you install plugins, sometimes they will appear as a widget.

Go to the right of the screen and you’ll see Main Sidebar. Here is what is currently showing on the sidebar when you visit your new site.

I suggest you remove some widgets that you don’t need.

  • Search
  • Meta
  • Recent comments
  • Archives

This you can leave for now or remove. It’s up to you.

  • Categories

After that you’ll just be left with recent posts

To remove the widgets you don’t need, just click the arrow to expand the box, then click delete. After it’s done, the box will disappear. Don’t worry it’s not gone forever. It just moved back to the middle with the other widgets.

To move a widget to the sidebar, just click and hold the widget you want from the middle, then move it into the Main Sidebar. You can also rearrange the order of your widgets. Again just click and hold the title of the widget and move it. It will automatically save.

In this screenshot, you can see in the widget for Search. If you wanted to title it something else, you can add a title that will show up on your sidebar. After you type in the title, you have to hit save or else it won’t change.

Now your sidebar is cleaned up! This is going to be prime real estate for your blog. You don’t want to clutter it too much in the future. Trust me, it’s very tempting to add a lot of widgets because there are so many great ones available.

Put only what will help.

If you need some ideas and inspiration visit some of your favorite popular blogs and see what they put in the sidebar.

Create your first post

Posts are the main focus of your blog. Posts are the writings, discussions, and thoughts of the blog owner and contributors. Posts, in most cases, are the reason a blog exists; without posts, there is no blog!

Go back to your WordPress dashboard sidebar on the left and click on Posts.

You will already see a post there titled “Hello World!” Delete that post.

Then click on New Posts. (Hint: You can just hover over Posts in the sidebar and a pop out menu will appear where you will see New Posts.)

How to Create a WordPress Blog Post

 

You can see where the headline and main text of your post goes.

I’ll give you a tour of the other parts of this page.

1) This is your toolbar. You’ll become very familiar with it over time. The first thing you want to do is make sure the toolbar is fully expanded. Then you can see more formatting options. You can do so by clicking on the icon I highlighted in green.

The icon I boxed in red will take you to full screen mode. Really nice when you’re writing and don’t want any distractions.

The blue box I highlighted shows Visual and Text. You can alternate between different views. Visual is where you will be writing your post. Text is where you can see a bunch of HTML code. For now, always be writing in the visual tab.

2) In this area it tells you the stats of your post. The default status is draft. After you publish your post then that status will change. Visibility can either be public, password protected, or private only to you.

You can also preview to see what your post will look like before it is published. Just click Preview and it’ll open into a new window.

You can also schedule posts to be published on a certain date and time. Great if you’re on vacation, but still want new posts to be published.

The Save Draft buttons saves your work. You will do that often before you hit Publish. If you’re working on a post, you definitely want to hit the Save Draft button often. That saves your work and you won’t lose it if your computer freezes up and you have to reset (that’s happened to me and it sucks).

Publicize: you can have  your social media sites automatically share your post when you publish it. You’ll have to login to each account separately to connect it to your site.

Format: I honestly don’t know what this is for. I have never changed it from standard.

Categories: You can categorize each blog post. You definitely don’t want to category to be uncategorized. Just click Add New Category or select one from Most Used if you have created some categories already. 

3) You may want to add photos to your post. First click on the Add Media button. You can drag and drop your photo or find it on your computer to be uploaded. Once it is uploaded, you’ll see a screen like this.

How to add media to a WordPress blog

 

 

In the red box, that’s where you can add in a title, caption, alt text, and description.

In the blue box, you can align you photo to be centered, to the left, or to the right. You can also resize your image, but you should do that before you upload it if it’s a really large photo.

Click Insert Into Post and now you have a photo on your page.

How to Install WordPress Plugins

Plugins help add features to your WordPress site. There seems to be a plugin for everything. It’s easy to be like a kid in a toy store and get carried away. I’ll give you a list of plugins I use and recommend to start out.

  • Askimet – controls SPAM comments. Already installed in WordPress. Will need to activate it. Step-by-step below.
  • All in One SEO – Helps optimize posts and pages for search engines. Can be found in WordPress plugin directory. Here’s how to configure it once you install it.
  • W3 Total Cache – This plugin will speed up your website’s load time by caching your pages and posts as static pages which take less time to load when someone is visiting your website. In the middle of this page, tells how to set it up .
  • Jetpack – a collection of tools that come with WordPress. Also needs activation, which I show how to do below.

First you need to know how to install plugins. For this example, we will install W3 Total Cache

1) Look in the left sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. Go to Plugins —-> Add New

2) In the search box, type W3 Total Cache.

3) Click Search Plugins

4) Find W3 Total Cache. Below the name of the plugin, click Install Now.

5) After it’s done installing, you’ll need to Activate Plugin.

6) Done! That plugin is now downloaded and activated.

You can install many plugins this way because they will be listed in the WordPress directory. Just do a search.

If the plugin needs to be set up like W3 Total Cache does, look in the left sidebar in the dashboard to find where it’s located. Refer to the plugin’s website or a Google search for details how to set it up.

If the plugin you want isn’t listed in the WordPress directory, you’ll have to download it from the owner’s website. Or it might be a paid plugin, which you have to download. It will be in a zip file.

If it’s a .zip file, here is how to install it. 

1) Go to Plugin —–> Add New

2) Look for the Upload link

3) Choose file and find the zip file located on your computer. Upload it.

4) Finally Activate Plugin

Jetpack Plugin 

This is a plugin that is included and already installed. It’s a great plugin because it has so many features. I’m going to walk you through how to set it up.

How to install and setup the WordPress Jetpack plugin

 

You’ll find Jetpack in the left sidebar of your dashboard. When you click on it, it’ll take you to this page (above). You’ll need to Connect to WordPress.com.

When you click that link, it’ll take you to the next page where it asks you to enter your email and password. However you likely don’t have an account yet. So find the link that says “Need an account?” On the next page, you’ll create your account.

Check your inbox for an email sent to you to activate your WordPress.com account. Click the link and it’ll ask if you want to authorize Jetpack. Sure you do. Once you do that, it’ll take you back to your WordPress dashboard.

Congrats you just added Jetpack! The message in the blue box should be different than what you see above. You will see a variety of features it has. You can click the Learn More button to find out exactly what each does.

Let’s just focus on just one for now.

Site Stats

In the left sidebar, under Jetpack, you will see it now says Site Stats. That page shows you basic stats like how many page views you had for today, which sites visitors came from, top posts and pages, what keywords were used to find you in search engines, and the most popular links users clicked on. Stats are just for that day and the day before.

It’s great for basic stats. Good to get you started. I use this for a quick daily snapshot of stats.

If you want more detailed stats, you’ll have to set up Google Analytics.

Setting up Askimet

Now let’s set up another plugin that is already installed with WordPress.

1) Go to Plugins —-> Installed Plugins

2) Activate Askimet

How to Setup Askimet in WordPress Blog

 

3) Click the link Sign up for an Askimet API Key

4) It will take you to a new page. Click the big blue button that says Get an Askimet API Key

5) You don’t need to fill out the form. Remember the WordPress.com account you just set up? You’ll be using that. Find the link that says I already have a WordPress.com account.

6) Login with you email address and password for WordPress.com then authorize when it asks.

7) It will ask you to Choose a Plan. Don’t worry Askimet is 100% free. Choose the personal plan.

8) It asks how much “What is Askimet worth to you?” Just slide the button to $0. If you want to donate that’s fine, but it’s a free plugin so no need. Submit your contact info.

9) You’re done! On this page you will see your Askimet key. It will be a bunch of numbers and letters. Write it down or copy (CTRL-C or CMD-C) it. Open a new tab in your browser and go back to your WordPress Dashboard.

10) Go to the Jetpack —-> Akismet configuration

12) Copy and paste the API key from above into the text field.

13) Click the Update Options button.

Now you’re protected from spam comments. It’s not 100% perfect. You’ll have to monitor your spam comments because some legitimate comments might slip through. Still it is better to have it activated.

More Advanced Plugins

These are other plugins I use that save my butt. You may not need them now, but if your blog starts to grow, you may want to consider it. They are paid plugins, but worth every penny to me.

Sucuri Security

Awesome services that monitors malware and cleans it up. There’s nothing more frustrating than having your site affected with malware. This service scans for malware and notifies me if it’s been hit (it has a few times). They go in and clean it up. Highly recommend it.

Backup Buddy

I use this to backup all my WordPress sites. It will back up everything, widgets, themes, plugins, files and SQL database. With BackupBuddy you can schedule it to backup automatically and have them sent to Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, an FTP server, or your email. It’s good to know my sites are safe in case I need to restore them.

How to Update WordPress Plugins

Sometimes you might see a number next to the Plugins in the left sidebar. That that indicates is how many plugins have a new update. It’s important to keep your plugins updated.

It’s important to do that to keep hackers away. Trust me, I’ve been hacked and it’s not fun.

WordPress makes it very easy to update plugins. When you go to that page, you’ll see a list of the plugins that need to be updated. All you have to do is check the box next to the plugin. If you have more than one, you can choose select all. Then click update plugins.

How to Update WordPress Plugins

Then just wait. That area that showed the plugins may go completely blank. Don’t worry. Just wait.

When it’s done, it’ll tell you which plugins were updated successful. Navigate to another page and your dashboard will refresh and the number will go away.

Create Your First Page and a Contact Form

You might not want to publicly show your email address on your site, but you do want a way for someone to contact you. The solution is to create a contact form. The Jetpack plugin makes it very easy to customize and create a contact form. You can see what my contact form looks like.

To create yours, go to Pages —-> New.

First you’ll want to name your new page. Name it anything you want. Then you’ll want to click on the icon highlighted in blue.

How to create your first WordPress Page and Contact Form

That will bring up your screen where you can customize your contact form.

How to create your first WordPress Page and Contact Form

 

You can remove boxes you don’t need. For example, if you don’t care if users give you their website, then remove that box. Just click the ( – ) button.

In the Email notifications tab, you specify where emails are sent. By default, it will send to the email address you used to create your WordPress blog. If you want to send it to a different one, you can add it here.

If you make any changes here, be sure to save it.

You can also make a box a drop down, a checkbox, and other options. You can also move the boxes around. When you’re done, click Add this form to my post.

You will see some weird text. Don’t worry about it. It makes sense.

You can add in text before and after the weird text. Just don’t mess with anything between those two.

You can click the Preview button at anytime to see how your page looks. Go ahead and try it.

When you’re happy with it click Publish and now you’ve just created your first page. 

Set Up the WordPress Menu Bar

After you hit publish on your contact form page, go to your main page to see what it looks like. You will see the page was automatically added to your menu bar. It might seem like a great thing, but it’s not.

How to set up the WordPress menu bar

(In this example above, I created a page called “Another Test Page”. So that’s why you won’t see it on your menu bar.”)

The reason it is not good is because in the future you may create page that you want to let only certain people see. For example, on my blog, once a reader subscribes to get my free ebook, it will direct them to a page where they can download it. That page I don’t want known publicly. Sure it’s available to anyone who knows the link after they subscribe and it’s not really a huge secret if others know, but I still don’t want it be in the menu bar.

Also if you create a lot of pages, you don’t want them all in your menu bar. It will be cluttered.

I’ll show you how to customize your menu bar to show only what you want.

Your menu bar is prime real estate. So choose wisely what you will include there.

Selecting a New Theme

WordPress makes it very easy to quickly change the overall look of your site with themes. There are thousands of free and paid WordPress themes to choose from. Just depends on what theme appeals to you.

Here is a sample of where you can find WordPress themes:

WordPress directory (free)

Woothemes

ThemeForest

Elegant Themes

What I use here is the Standard Theme. I settled on this one after searching for a long time. I customized it myself with the help of the support forums.

How to Install Your New Theme

Whenever you got your theme, it probably came in a .zip file.

Once you have the final .zip file, it’s time to install it.

  1. On the WordPress Dashboard, hover over Appearance and click Themes.
  2. Click the tab at the top that says Install Themes.
  3. Find and click the link that says Upload.
  4. Choose your .zip file and and click Install Now.
  5. Make sure the theme was installed successfully, and click Activate.

How to Install a WordPress Theme

 

Every theme has a different way to set it up. Just check the documentation or their website and they will take you step-by-step on how to set it up.

Search and Browse Themes

Looking at the picture above, you can see links for search, featured, newest, and recently updated. You can find themes that are in the WordPress directory. If you search, you can narrow your search with a variety of options.

You can also preview the theme to decide if you want to install it.

You’ve now set up up a WordPress blog!

Congratulations!

You should have your own WordPress blog now. If you have already set up your blog, please leave a comment with the your site’s URL. I’d love to see what you have created.

If you’ve skimmed the post first, I hope you’ll bookmark this page when you’re ready to set up your blog.

If you want to learn more about your hosting, Bluehost offers several how-to videos. That includes “How to Setup Your E-mail Accounts.” So now you can have your own customized email account @yourdomain.com.

If you’re looking for more blogging resources, visit Problogger, Smart Passive Income, Think Traffic. The archives are filled with valuable advice.

For podcasts about blogging don’t miss Blogcast FM and Smart Passive Income podcast.

Now it’s time to create content and share it with the world.

How to Start a Blog That Matters

Some of you may want a blueprint on how to grow your new blog into something great.

Usually getting started on this part is the hardest. This is where a lot of people get confused and overwhelmed. They want a blog that people will read and be successful, but don’t know what they need to do.

They could spend hours and hours searching Google and making common mistakes most beginners make. Or they can learn from someone who has helped clients launch or grow blogs that attract from 10,000 to 100,000+ visitors per month

That’s why I highly recommend my friend, Corbett Barr’s, course about how to start a blog that can build a business, start a movement, land a dream job, meet friends all over the world, launch a writing career, or explore your creativity.

He also is the founder of ThinkTraffic.net and co-founder of Fizzle

He’s taken everything he’s learned with the same strategies he uses for his one-on-one clients created the course “How to Start a Blog that Matters”.

Who’s this course for? 

You want a blueprint to create a blog that will get readers and make an impact.

It’s not about just starting a blog (that’s easy), but starting a blog that could be a huge success.

What if you already have a blog?

It’s up to you how you use this course. You could start a whole new blog from scratch or you could keep your existing content and relaunch.

You could start on a new domain, import your content, and redirect your readers to your new blog. That way you won’t lose any traffic.

Or you could stay at your current domain, do a small redesign, create some epic content, and relaunch with a bang by following the course.

Bottom line: It’s a course you’ll want to take if you want a blog that could make a difference and change your life. 

What’s in it? 

It’s a 90 day course take gets you to take action in a structured setting.

Here’s everything you get in the course:

    • 13 weekly step-by-step action plans
    • Over 8 hours of video
    • Answers to FAQ’s from the first 800+ students.
    • A 60-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee (he want you to be 110% satisfied)
    • 4 very special bonuses videos.

In 90 days, you will build a solid foundation for your blog. you could be ahead of many bloggers who have been around 6-12 months.

Learn more and join the course

Thank you and Please Help Share

If you made it this far, you’re awesome. If you read every single word I wrote and followed every step, I love you. 🙂

I spent about a week on this post to make it as helpful to you.

If you found it helpful, please take a second and help share this post on Facebook, Twitter, G+, or Pinterest. You can find those button under the orange box below. Thank you!

A great tutorial on how to set up your own WordPress blog before you sleep tonight. [click to tweet]

Finally, did I miss a step? Anything I should add that would be helpful? Need some advice on your domain name or anything else?

If you have any comments or questions, ask in the below or send me an email.

 

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  • thank you for your great idea! one of the most happiest thing to do over the weekend 😉

    • Congrats on starting your blog! Thanks again for sharing Wendy.

  • Really nice post for beginners but I’ve a question I’ve bought my domain name and hosting from godaddy and by default jetpack wasn’t installed on it and when I’m trying to manually install it I’m getting an error. I’m using elemin theme.
    Thanks

    • Are you using WordPress? When I installed WP, it was already installed inside. It shouldn’t have to do anything w/ your themes.

  • Great post, thanks for the helpful ideas on which plugins to use. Will look into some of them.

  • Teaching English in Taiwan

    HOLY AMAZING POST! You really went into tons of detail. We use wordpress too, and I honestly think it’s the only way to go for blogs nowadays.

    Anyway, on to point number 2. It really is amazing how you can draw people from literally all over the world with just a few interesting pieces. When I started seeing hits coming from small little cities that I have never heard of before it got me really excited to write more, hoping to connect with even more people.

    Great blog, great post, keep it up!

    • Thanks so much! Do you live in Taiwan now? If so, how long have you been there?

  • Tim

    Hi, thanks for the reply. Yes, I am in Taiwan…have been here about 7 years now.

  • I really hope you can help! I jumped the gun and bought my URL through wordpress – but it’s not like the downloadable wordpress site builder. It’s just a free blog and I was too eager to protect my URL and now I have a url that redirects to wordpress.com. Is there a way to go back and do the build your own site while keeping my url?

    please help!

    • Hi Heather. So let me make sure I understand your situation. You signed up for a free blog at WordPress.com. Then you bought the domain through them. So now you’re domain is hosted on WordPress.com. Now you want to have a self hosted blog, and keep your domain Gratefulglow. Correct?

      • Hi Benny,

        Thanks for replying! Basically yes. I read in your blog that you shouldn’t go the route of signing up for a free blog through wordpress. Unfortunately I read that after I’d already started the free blog (instead of downloading the site builder and hosting on Bluehost, etc.) I don’t mind hosting through WordPress, but what I’m wondering is: Can I still build my own site through WordPress (instead of using the free blog creator) and keep my URL/hosting on wordpress even though I’ve already gone the “free blog” route and purchased my domain through this.

        Does that make sense? Thanks again!