How To Start A Successful WordPress Blog: Step By Step Guide!
Hi, welcome to SmartBlogIdea. I’m Palash Talukder the Founder & Author of this blog. I originally started blogging to share my learning like everybody else who starts up a blog. But after a while, with a lot of hard-work (and perhaps a bit of luck), my blog has become a source of inspiration for many. You can learn more in about page.
I started my online journey in 2010, and after 5 months of blogging, I moved from BlogSpot to the WordPress platform. (I don’t use my past blog now because of domain problem that I will not discuss here.)
The very first challenge for me was trying to understand how to install and set-up my own blog. That was only the first challenge.
Back then, there weren’t any step by step guide like this one that on how to launch a search engine friendly blog using WordPress. I had to learn the hard way: by trial and error.
This guide is written exclusively for readers like you who want to create a WordPress blog & earn passive income and/or make a career in blogging.
Let’s have a look at our list of topics covered:
- What is WordPress?
- How to buy web-hosting and a domain name for your blog.
- Step by Step Guide to Buying Bluehost Web-Hosting.
- How to install WordPress Blog Yourself (Complete guide).
- How to setup WordPress for the first time.
- Essential WordPress plugins and how to configure them.
What is WordPress?
Before we move ahead, it’s important for you to know why you should be using the WordPress platform for your blog.
There are many other platforms, like Joomla. Tumblr, BlogSpot, and WordPress.com (more on this later), which are free, but then why are 28% of the websites in the world powered by WordPress?
To put it in non-technical jargon: It’s a brilliant blogging platform. Basically, it makes it really easy for technical & non-technical people to make a website.
According to the recent stats (July 2017), 28% of all the websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. In case you don’t know, that’s a lot.
You may know that BlogSpot is powered by its parent company: Google. Likewise, WordPress is powered by its parent company: Automatic. Automattic offers two variations of this popular blogging platform:
- WordPress.org (Self-hosted WordPress)
So, As a beginner, you really only need to know two important things about WordPress:
Unlike standard websites and CMSs that we know of, WordPress is backed by a huge community of freelance designers and development companies that offers free and premium WordPress themes.
One of the biggest challenges for a website today is to have a great design, and WordPress themes are the solution to that problem. Anyone can download a theme for free from the WordPress official directory.
If you want to go a more professional route, you can pay a small amount and get a premium WordPress theme. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can change the overall design and look of your theme.
I personally use the Mythemeshop theme on all of my blogs, including SmartBlogIdea, as it’s the most optimized WordPress theme out there. One reason for this is that this theme has inbuilt schema markup & it has zero compatibility issues with all the popular WordPress plugins.
Currently, I’m using Schema premium theme at Smart Blog Idea.
Tip: If you are not a programmer, don’t waste too much time fixing your theme. Pick a theme from WordPress theme clubs which comes with installation & configuration guide.
Usually, such themes cost anything from $19-$59. Take my advice & save your precious time for something meaningful. I have listed great site for purchasing WordPress theme at the below section.
Here are top 2 websites to pick the theme for you:
- Official WordPress theme directory.
- MyThemeShop (They have free & paid themes) Read: MyThemeShop Review [Update]
Plugins extend the core features of the WordPress software. They help in adding new features to your WordPress-powered websites and there is a WordPress plugin for almost everything.
All you need to do is think of a feature that you want and search for a plugin using Google or the WordPress plugin directory. Once you download the plugin, you can easily add your desired features. No coding involved.
Due to the huge number of WordPress plugins, one can easily get confused with which plugin to use. But don’t worry. After years of personally working with WordPress and collaborating with professional WordPress users, I will help you identify the best and most useful plugins to use.
In the last section of this Guide, I have shared a list of WordPress plugins that you must have on your WordPress blog/website.)
Web-Hosting for WordPress:
Now it’s time to learn about WordPress hosting.
To install your own WordPress website/blog, you need to have web-hosting and a domain name.
What are the features you need in a WordPress web-host?
Below I have mentioned the list of features that you should look for before buying a web-hosting package for WordPress. Don’t get overwhelmed because there are many WordPress hosting network. But it’s important to understand why they’re the best.
One of the important features that you need to see in a web-hosting company is compatibility with WordPress. WordPress uses PHP and MySQL and as such, your web-host’s server should have the latest version of PHP and MySQL.
Always look for a Linux host for WordPress or web-hosting companies which are designed for WordPress. For running a WordPress site, the host’s server should have a minimum of:
- PHP version 7.0 or greater
- MySQL version 5.6 or greater
A web host with excellent uptime is essential. There are many web-hosting companies that offer you a hosting space for free, but they don’t, and can’t, guarantee good uptime. This is just one reason why you should avoid free web-hosting companies, and buy reliable web-hosting.
If your website is down, you not only lose traffic, but it also affects your website/blog’s search engine ranking. Free web-hosts have serious issues with uptime; most of the time your site will go down and customer service will respond with the message:
The best way is to go for hosting companies that offer maximum uptime. That said, it’s impossible to achieve 100% uptime, but anything above 99% is what you should look for.
Bandwidth and Storage:
The higher the bandwidth and storage is, the better it is for your website. There are renowned hosting companies that offer unlimited bandwidth and storage.
In 2017 & coming years, having SSL certificate is essential for a site. It’s an official search engine ranking factor & more over it offers better security for you & for your readers. There are many hosting companies now offer integrated free SSL that is one feature you must look at.
If you are running a blog or simple information based website on WordPress, you can use free SSL. So no need to worry about this, as I have covered only those hostings that are reputed & offers everything you require for running your blog.
Support: Get help in time!
There are times when you will need technical assistance from your hosting company. You should ensure that you could connect with your hosting support team. They should at least offer support by telephone or live-chat. Moreover, ensure that the support is given in real-time so you don’t have to wait for hours to have your issue addressed.
Getting Ready to Launch Your WordPress Site:
To start with, I recommend you use Bluehost for installing your WordPress site. Bluehost is officially recommended by the team at WordPress.org (see screenshot below).
The prices and plans of Bluehost are very reliable and acceptable. For a beginner Bluehsot is the best there is no doubt.
(You can buy hosting from SiteGround which is also recommended hosting by WordPress.org)
How to Buy Web-Hosting and Domain?
To buy web-hosting for your WordPress blog, you need to be ready with your domain name & preferred payment mode. In this section we will look into the things that you need before launching your site:
This is the domain name which you want to buy and use. You will get one free domain name or you can use any of your existing domain names (you can claim your free domain later too).
You can use this free service called Shopify Business Name Generator to find cool domain names for your site.
Since you are purchasing hosting from Bluehost, you don’t need to pay extra for a domain. You will be getting a free domain name with your package and for right now, you just need to find a domain name that you want to buy.
You can make payment via credit card, PayPal, or international debit cards that allow online international transactions.
If you are done with these two things, you are all set to buy your web-hosting & domain for your new blog.
-: Step by Step Guide to Buying Bluehost Web-Hosting:-
To start with, click here & go to the Bluehost site.
Click on “get started now”.
This will take you to a page where you will see the three different packages to choose from.
I have already explained above about the difference between these packages. You can pick the one according to your needs, but for me, I’m going to be purchasing the “Plus” package.
Do remember this discount is only for the first bill. So it’s best to purchase hosting for 2 or 3 years. Click on “select” to select your plan.
Choose a free domain or use your existing domain name:
On the next page, you can either get a free domain name or you can use any of your existing domain names.
Even if you don’t use the free domain feature right now, you can always get your free domain later.
Note: If you are using an existing domain name from some other domain registrar, such as GoDaddy, you need to change your domain’s nameservers to:
If you want to keep things simple, it’s better to enter the domain name you wish to buy in the “new domain” field and your free domain will be activated with your hosting purchase.
Click on “next”.
In this section, you need to enter your details (name, email address, address, etc.) which is pretty straightforward. Make sure you verify every detail (especially your email address, as you will get your login and hosting information sent to your email address).
(Note: The above details are dummy details for reference only!)
This part is crucial and you should pay extra attention at this stage to ensure that you are not overcharged for add-ons that you don’t need. As I said above, pick a hosting package for a 24 or 36-month term, as you will notice the price decreases as the length of service increases.
Also make sure you deselect the option “Site Backup Pro” “SiteLock Security – Find”, as you don’t need them & there are free plugins for WordPress which you can use to get these same features.
You can purchase domain privacy protection in case if you need to hide your contact info. If you are working from office & using your official contact info, then you don’t need domain privacy protection.
Note: You can always add another service later from your dashboard.
Complete Hosting Purchase:
By default, you will see the option to make payment via credit card only, but if you want to make payment via PayPal, click on “More payment options” and it will show you the “Pay by PayPal” option.
Before you make the payment, I suggest you scroll up and verify all the information one more time.
After making your payment, you will see another after-sales page like this. Just ignore everything and click on “complete”.
On the next page, you will get a confirmation for your hosting purchase, and you will see a screen like this one:
Click on “create your password“.
Selecting the Password:
This is the last stage of your web-hosting purchase, and now all you need to do is set the password for your hosting login. You can create a password yourself or you can use their password generator to create a complex password. (Using their generator is recommended. Their password will be very challenging, so if you go this route, copy and paste this impossible to guess the password in a safe place.)
Click on “Create” and that’s it!
Now you are 98% done buying and setting up your web-hosting package.
Log in into Bluehost cPanel:
Check your email inbox for your confirmation email with all the login information for your new web-hosting account. The only thing, which you won’t get in the email, is the password you created in the last step. This is for your own security and the reason why you should have copied and pasted it somewhere like I recommended!
Now, go to Bluehost.com and click on “hosting login” at the top. In the login field type your domain name (username) and in the password field input your password (of course!).
On the next page click on “home”, and you will be at the Bluehost cPanel. That’s it!
Congratulations! You just finished buying your web-hosting and domain name!
How to Install WordPress on Bluehost Hosting?
Login to your Bluehost account and click on “hosting” at the top to go inside your cPanel.
Scroll down to “website” and select “Install WordPress” from the list.
On the next screen, click on “Install”.
On the next page, select the domain on which you want to install WordPress. This is the domain where you want your website to be.
(Note: Here you can decide if you want your domain to be with “www” or without “www”. In 2016 it’s all about shorter URLs, so I recommend selecting the “non-www” option. You will see this option when you click on the drop-down menu.)
Click on “Check Domain” & this is where you will configure the final few settings to install WordPress onto your domain.
Click on “show advanced options”:
In this step, you can select your WordPress username and password for your login. Make sure you don’t select “admin” as the username. Instead, use some random username and create a complex password. Also, keep a check mark on “Automatically create a new database for this information”.
Click on “Install Now”.
This will start installing WordPress. Don’t close the page until it shows that the process is complete. It will take about 1 minute for Bluehost’s WordPress script to install WordPress.
An email will be sent to the registered email address along with the login and password which you can use to login to your WordPress dashboard.
Now your WordPress blog is up & running.
Now the hard part is done & the fun part starts.
Your site has now been born and here you will start adding flavors & your own personal swag to give it some life!