This is the 3rd part out of 10-part step-by-step series “How to Start a Blog”.
Once you’ve registered a domain and set up hosting, it’s time to get your WordPress website up and running, with some of the major plugins.
In this part we’re going to:
- Install WordPress
- Configure some important WordPress Settings
- Install some important WordPress plugins
- Launch your website!
The rest of WordPress tweaking and plugin configuration will get done in the next part 4: WordPress Plugins and SEO Tweaking.
BTW if you’re still looking for a good profitable niche and the name for your brand check out part 2: Choosing Profitable Niche and Direction. And if you haven’t yet started with WordPress check out why you should.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and I may recieve a small compensation, at no cost to you. Know that I also recommend only the best products that I’ve personally used and tested.
Let’s install WordPress!
Bluehost WordPress Installation
We’re going to be setting up some main WordPress settings after Bluehost and installing a few important plugins. Complete plugin and WordPress tweaking will be explained step-by-step in the next part 4: WordPress Plugins and SEO Tweaking.
1. Choose a Theme
Or you can just skip this step, select the theme later on, and change it as many times as you’d like. Now, click Start Building, wait a few moments.
From WordPress Dashboard you can create and view your posts and pages, add plugins, customize it however you want, and change almost any setting you can think of.
Every time you log in, you’ll be brought here. And your site is up!
So this is basically “almost” it – you got WordPress installed. Just a few tweaks left from here to make the actual website live and running.
2. Add New User for Security (if Necessary)
If you go to “Users” and see that you are the admin, meaning that your username is “admin”, you may want to change that, for security reasons.
Reasoning for that is that someone might break into your account by simply using “admin” as your username and possibly guessing your password
If this is the case, you should add new user, and delete the admin one.
Steps to add new WordPress user:
- Hover on “Users” and click “Add New”
- fill out the information,
- check “Send user notification”,
- choose “Administrator” as your Role,
- Click “Add New User”.
Remember your Password.
I suggest using a password manager, such as LastPass. It can remember hundreds of passwords for any website, and generate secure passwords on the fly.
Now Delete the admin user. That’s it. Next we configure some main WP settings.
3. WordPress Main Settings
We’re going to go and configure some of the most important WordPress Settings.
Launch Your Bluehost Website
…if you haven’t already.
Keep in mind that, if you bought domain on a different site other than Bluehost but you chose Bluehost hosting, make sure you go to my part 2 and follow instructions to add custom DNS nameservers.
To launch, just go to your WP Dashboard, click Bluehost and hit Launch.
Wait a few minutes. Now your site should be up and running.
Congrats! You have a new website.
Configure Important WordPress Settings
A few things to change immediately.
- Site title. For example: “John Smith | Solving All Your Insurance Problems”
- Tagline. This is just one sentence what you do
- WordPress Address and Site Address. If you got SSL enter “https://YourDomain.com”
- Email address. Your email.
- Save changes
Next, click on Reading. Choose your Homepage type.
For my website, I have:
- Homepage as a static page (but you can put “your latest posts” as well)
- Homepage is “Start Here” and Posts page is “Blog”
- 10 posts per blog page.
- Feed – Summary
Next, we need to change Permalinks.
Permalinks are permanent URLs for your pages and blog posts, as well as your categories and archives. It’s an address that links to your content.
If you look above in URL field, you can see the structure of my permalink.
It is “post name”.
Whenever I create and publish a post, it will follow “post name” structure. The best practice is to change your permalinks to “post name” as well.
Steps to change your permalinks to post name:
- click on Permalinks in Settings
- change it to “Post name”
- Save changes.
WordPress Plugin Settings
If you look at Settings options, you may notice that your Plugins settings are also here.
We’re not going to set up this right now.
Google Analytics setup will also be covered there.
For now, we’re just going to install some major and important plugins, and leave the tweaking and setup configuration for the part 4 of my “How to Start a Blog” series, in which I share and teach how to “Create a blog” and run your online business.
Install Best WordPress Plugins
What are WordPress Plugins
WordPress Plugin is just a piece of software that “plugs-in” to your WordPress site.
WordPress Plugins extend functionality and add new features.
They always integrate easily and give you many useful options to use, some of which are quite important for your site to function properly and rank on Google.
There are thousands of them, and I personally have around 20.
A few suggestions when it comes to installation of WordPress plugins:
- Try to avoid installing plugins you’re not familiar with, they can slow down or break your blog website
- Try to avoid installing those plugins that you don’t actually need
- Think about removing deactivated plugins, because they can slow your site down
- Try to avoid installing plugins with low rating
- If you’re just starting, try not to install too many plugins all at once
To get the most out of WordPress, you may need to pay for some of the plugins.
I suggest only the plugins that I’ve used for many years, and have a lot of positive experience with.
Depending on hosting company you have chosen, some of these plugins will already be installed, such as WP forms, WP Cache or Jetpack, but some of the most important ones wont be there.
Which WordPress Blog Plugin do You Need?
Generally, these are WordPress plugins that you need:
- measure your visitors and analytics (Google Analytics, WP Statistics)
- improve performance (Autoptimize, WP Rocket, WP Super Cache)
- create SEO friendly blog with a sitemap (Yoast, All in One SEO, Rank Math)
- share on Social Media (this one is tricky, because of GDPR in on, and many Social plugins take your visitors’ data. Try Sassy Social Plugin)
- have spamming protection (Anti-spam, Akismet)
- email marketing automation – Newsletter (Mailchimp, Convertkit)
- do WordPress backups on your own (UpdraftPlus)
- manage Affiliate links (ThirstyAffiliates)
- have many writing extras (Elementor, Easy Table of contents, Ninja Forms, Table Press, etc)
- and possibly improve security with a good Firewall (Sucuri Security premium firewall is best)
These are the best options that I currently can recommend, there are many more and if you need a complete list let me know in the comments.
Best Free WordPress plugins
Depending on the niche you’ve chosen and the way your site is going to be set up (ecommerce store, forum, etc) you may need even more additional plugins.
These are some of the best free WordPress plugins:
- Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights (PRO version)
Connects Google Analytics to your WordPress site and gives you many options to customize your Google Analytics tracking service
- W3 Total Cache
Probably the Best Caching Plugin on WordPress. I use it for AlekMitch.com and I couldn’t be happier. It offers minifying (though I use CloudFlare for that), CDN set up, CSS and JS defering, optimal caching, and probably anything you could ask for and more.
- All in One SEO (PRO version recommended)
Has everything Yoast has and I’ve been using it for quite some time now. Offers all the SEO options you might need, including easy sitemap and robots.txt creation.
- (Optional) Autoptimize (alternative: WP Rocket)
Affiliate link management plugin. Main feature: replaces all the different affiliate links on your site into links that look nice and standardized to your own rules. Premium features include: Automatic Keyword Linking, Amazon API Importing, Advanced Statistics Reports, etc.
- UpdraftPlus (alternative: Jetpack)
One of the best backup plugins. Very easy to use and quick to backup. Offers various external backup locations, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.
- Anti-spam (alternative: Akismet)
WordPress plugin that offers protection again spamming in comments. Very good.
- Mailchimp for WordPress (alternative: OptinMonster and ConvertKit)
Best free plugins to write newsletters and opt-in forms
- Easy Table of Contents
Automatically inserts table of contents into posts (or pages) based on configuration you specify. Can be customized further.
An excellent drag-and-drop page builder, able to build amazing pages without knowing single line of code. Just drag and drop objects and customize them. Pro version adds Global widgets, theme builder, WooCommerce builder, and more.
- GDPR Cookie Consent
Makes your website GDPR compliant. However, you need to configure it to conform to some GDPR rules.
I’ll explain each one what it does and which settings to use in the next article, part 4.
Some of them might be a little tricky to set up, and you may spend more time than you anticipated, but they are worth it.
Setting up most of the plugins will be thoroughly explained in the part 4: WordPress Plugins and SEO Tweaking.
Best WordPress Plugins
- Elementor Pro
Depending on how good you want your site to look, offers Global widgets, a WooCommerce builder, theme builder, marketing integrations, and much more.
- WP Rocket
It can bring your page load to under a second. An all-in-one optimization and performance plugin, increasing speed considerably. Similar to Autoptimize. NO headaches setting up.
Probably the best email opt-in plugin. Exit intent technology, inline forms, full screen overlays, and much much more.
- Sucuri Security
Ads an excellent firewall, which is a must have if you’re looking for a great firewall solution.
An excellent email marketing automation tool for your newsletter, and email campaigns. It will help you build your audience, and increase number of readers.
There are a few more, but for now I recommend that you check out at least these ones.
Connecting Google Analytics to WordPress
I won’t go into all the detail here, just to mention that MonsterInsights adds the Google Analytics code itself, so there should be no need to edit the theme or add any code.
You do need to go to Google Analytics, log in to Google and add your site. After that just install MonsterInsights plugin, and immediately start their setup wizard. Follow the steps and you’ll be good to go.
In case you wanted to change add the code manuall (withouth the plugin or using Google Tag Manager) go here:
Appearance > Theme Editor
Once you’re in Theme Editor, click on “Theme Header” and paste the code just below the opening <head> tag, and if using Tag Manager copy the other part of code right after the opening <body> tag.
If you’re not profficient with code, just use the plugin and you’ll be fine.
Bluehost offers free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate.
It’s usually automatically enabled if you checked it during installation.
If you don’t have that and use Really Simple SSL plugin, you can click on the last WordPress settings – SSL – and can check if the SSL is set up on your site. If it’s not, you need to go to your settings on Bluehost and enable it.
If no SSL is available to you, go to “Plugins” and download plugin Really Simple SSL. Enable it.
Make sure when you click on SSL settings that SSL is enabled, and that the SSL certificate is detected on your site.
Don’t worry about your website look and design, we’ll cover all that in part 7: Logo, Theme and Design.
For now, let’s just install major plugins.
Create an Email Account With Bluehost
If you’re going to run a business, you need a corporate email.
You can go fine with a generic email, such as Gmail, but it’s best to look professional and use a proper corporate email, ending with your own website domain.
To set up email with Bluehost follow these steps:
- Go to Bluehost, log in and Click on Email
- Fill in the required information: choose your email, password and select Unlimited mailbox quota
- Click Create Account. Then click Set up mail client.
Keep this open. You’re going to need all this info if you’re going to connect your Bluehost email to your Gmail, and control it through Gmail.
This is completely your choice, but I recommend controlling all email through Gmail.
One last thing you could do, is set Gmail to control your Bluehost email, so you could read and send emails that come into Bluehost inbox, from your Gmail account.
Gmail has much more functionality than most others email providers.
Jump to part 4 immediately and keep going.