How to Start a Blog: The Easiest Beginner’s Guide (Step-by-Step)

by Matt Banner | Get free updates of new posts here | Last Updated on

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Everyone wants to feel and achieve success and happiness in their lives.

You’re here because you’re considering starting a blog.

Forget what you’ve heard about making a blog. Creating your own is very simple and rather quick (no technical experience needed) when you know what you’re doing.

This step-by-step guide below will show you EXACTLY how to get started, so that you can have your blog up and running in a matter of minutes.

Follow These 5 Simple and Easy Steps
To Make a Blog

4 Reasons to Start Your Blog Today

You’re here to make a blog, but here’s a question:

What’s holding you back?

Let’s clear up any doubts you have with 5 indisputable reasons to start your blog today:

  • Become a Better Writer – Practice makes perfect, and blogging gives you the platform to hone your writing skills to perfection.
  • Make Some Serious Money – Successful bloggers bring in all kinds of income from their blogs. Whether they sell ad space, promote products, or sell their own services, there’s money to be made!
  • Blogging Opens up New Opportunities – Sometimes it’s a great mention on your resume, and other times it helps you get hired for consulting or writing services, but either way it benefits your career.
  • Anyone Can Do It – You don’t have to be a scientist or an engineer. Anyone can blog, even if they’re not a writer.

Why This is The Only Guide You’ll Need 

  • Designed for beginners – creating websites and making blog doesn’t have to be overcomplicated with technical jargon. This website guide is super easy to follow along, even if you don’t have a technical bone in your body.
  • No fluff and straight to the point – Your website will be set up the right way, from the beginning. No one has time for information they don’t NEED. This guide was designed to set you up with the only blogging platform you need.
  • Unparalleled free support – It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, I’m here to assist you and make your online life as pleasant as possible. My free help and consultation is available by phone or email, so you can expect all of your questions to be answered fast.
  • Continuously updated – Note the date at the top of this page. I update my start a blog guide multiple times every month.

STEP 1: Define Your Blog’s Niche and Purpose

Starting a blog is actually super easy and you don’t need to be technical or a web developer to make it happen.

Here’s the first step starting your website:

Choose your niche by deciding what your blog is going to be about.

Before you go starting a blog, ask yourself a couple questions:

  1. “Is there anything I’m extremely passionate about?”
  2. “Is there something that I would enjoy blogging about that would seem effortless to me?”

Choosing your Niche

“I want my blog to…”

  • Provide information on a subject I’m knowledgeable about.
  • Entertain people with witty commentary, reviews, and tutorials.
  • Sell my amazing product or service to the people that need it most.
  • Be a personal reflection of my thoughts and feelings – a blogging journal of sorts.
  • Build my brand & promote my business through content marketing.

Let’s dig a little deeper and figure out how we can choose the right niche for our new website.

Remember:

This is all about finding something that you’re both passionate and knowledgeable about. 

Here are a few niche blog ideas to get the brain juices flowing:

  • DIY – If you’re handy around the house, or you at least know how to build something from scratch, create a blog of step-by-step guides. Just don’t blog about “how to start a blog”, that’s already taken, by me.
  • Food – Share recipes, review restaurants, talk about the weird kinds of food in the world today, whatever strikes your fancy.
  • Travel – Are you a wanderlust? Share your experiences with the world! People flock to those that dare to travel or provide tips on how to travel on a budget
  • Fashion – Are you a fashionista? Don’t hold back! The world needs your advice otherwise, we’re all looking like shlubs.
  • Sports – Are you a sports fanatic? Share it with the world! Maybe you’ve got an angle on sports ESPN can learn a thing or two about

Whether your blog’s niche is about cats or something a little more serious, when you’re creating your own blog, you can even narrow down your specific approach so you stand out from the rest of the websites in that industry.

Here are some tips for choosing your niche:

  • Look at your topic and industry, specifically look for what’s missing. What can you provide that no one else is providing?
  • Find the hole in your market and look to see if anyone else is doing something similar. Are they successful? Do they have a following?

In short, your niche is the unique approach you bring to your industry/topic.

Regardless of how competitive a niche or industry may be, passion will always kill the competition.

STEP 2: Choose a Domain Name, Blogging Platform and Host

To get your new website online, you’re going to need three critical things:

  • A domain name (you know, one of those addresses like www.mattbannersdomain.com, that people use to find you online)
  • A website platform (what you’ll login into to create and edit your website)
  • A hosting provider (the service that keeps your website on the internet)

Selecting a Domain Name

Here’s a cool thought: 

By purchasing your own domain, you’re essentially becoming a virtual pioneer, purchasing digital land to call your own. One that isn’t regulated by governments. A blog by the people, for the people.

Want to know the best part?

Having your own domain name will look much more professional than having a website on someone else’s domain (such as myflowerbusiness.freesite.com).

On top of that, having your very own hosting will ensure that your website loads as fast as possible and won’t ever go down for hours at a time (this is extremely important to everyone who visits your website.) With your own hosting, you’re in control.

So, you’re going to need to get your hands on a domain name, and that’s going to be free for you because you’re reading this website guide.

Which Domain Name Should I Pick?

Here’s how to do it:

  • What blogging niche are you most passionate about? Check out other existing websites in the niche to see what other people are choosing for domain names.
  • If you’re making a website for your business, your domain name should be your business name (www.YourBusinessName.com)
  • If you’re creating a blog for yourself, then your domain name should be your own name. My first website was called MattBanner.com.

I chose OnBlastBlog.com as the name of this website because I wanted to help people blast off with creating and growing their own blogs.

Domain names typically end with .com, .net or .org. Recently domain extensions (the end of the domain, like .com) have opened up to include more words such as .us and .sports.

When choosing a domain name, what would I advise? Don’t waste time with anything but .com, .org or .net. Those other crazy domain name extensions aren’t widely known so it will be harder for customers and readers to find you.

Extra Tips on Choosing a Perfect Domain Name for your Website

Here are a few extra ideas to help you select the best domain name:

  • Is it something that people will remember? For instance, if you make a site that sells flower bouquets, selecting a domain such as bestflowerbouquets.com isn’t a good idea. Instead, choose a domain name such as FlowersAreUs.com.
  • Does it reflect my brand? If you have a name for your brand, your domain name should be the name of your brand.
  • Does it make sense? While you can always change domains and rebrand, choosing a domain name that makes sense for your business now and in the next 5 years, is very important to consider.

Here’s a benchmark rule to abide by for domain name: If you love the name of the domain, grab it before someone else does.

Why is WordPress Better than Everyone Else?

CMS Breakdown

  1. It’s Free – That’s right, it’s not a gimmick. The WordPress platform is actually 100% free.
  2. It’s Super Beginner-Friendly – WordPress has features called plugins that are designed for non-technical people, and they are free to use on your website. With plugins, you can add contact forms, comment boxes, image galleries, videos and almost anything you can imagine.
  3. Large Community of Help & Support – Since everyone else is using WordPress as their blogging site, it’s quick and easy to find the help you need. WordPress also offers an incredible library of free resources on their site and video tutorials on Youtube.
  4. Mobile Responsive – Don’t you hate those websites you visit on your phone where you have to pinch the screen to zoom in? WordPress will automatically make your website ‘responsive’, which means it’ll work on all cell phones and tablets people use to visit your website.
  5. Big Brands Love It – Did you know that even the biggest brands in the world use WordPress as their platform? Sony, MTV, CNN, Ebay, Best Buy and even ESPN all prefer WordPress over the rest.

Not to mention, I built OnBlastBlog.com on WordPress too.

For Beginners Looking to Start their Own Blog, I Highly Recommend Going with WordPress

Without question, it’s the most simple platform I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. It’s also flexible and easily customizable that almost everyone from small business owners, and bloggers, all the way to professionals and freelancers, can’t stop raving about WordPress.

You can get your hands on the WordPress platform itself for free, however, a hosting provider and a domain name will cost between $2 – $5 a month. Don’t worry – I’m going to show you how to get a domain name for free and your hosting at a discounted rate.

Your morning coffee will end up being more expensive than your website.

Where Do I Get My
Domain Name and Host?

I’ve always put my sole trust in www.Bluehost.com as my main web hosting and domain provider for my personal and client web development projects. I’ve tried every hosting service out there, and no one was as reliable as Bluehost.

Their website hosting service costs less than a gallon of milk ($3.50/mo) and they will give you a domain name for FREE (saving you $10/yr).

That’s not all though:

When you get your free domain name with Bluehost, you’ll also receive a personal email account: yourname@yourwebsite.com – looks so much more professional than a generic Gmail or Hotmail address, right?

In Step 3, the next step, I’ll show you exactly how to set up and install your WordPress website in minutes. Not to worry – I’ll guide you through the process, with tons of images to use as a reference.

So, if you have any questions or suggestions for this website guide, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Ultimately, I’m around 24/7 and here to help!

STEP 3: Setting Up your New Website

Follow along with the images I have provided for you below and you’ll be set up in no time.

What to do: Open any of the links to Bluehost on this website so you can take advantage of the discount I’ve got waiting for you (Over 50% OFF regular price).

 

Here’s the EASY Step-by-Step Process to Starting a Blog

First, click this link www.Bluehost.com to open in a new tab.

bluehost homepage

That’s the Bluehost homepage where you’ll be able to see some of their offerings, such as additional 24/7 support and their money-back guarantee .

Click on that huge green button that says “get started now”.

Now you’ll see a page (like below) where you’ll be able to choose your hosting plan.

Selecting a hosting plan

 Select the basic package for the cheapest offer. On the next page, you’ll be choosing your domain name. Bluehost will let you know if the name has been taken or not.

After choosing your hosting package, you’ll be on a page where you can check to see if the domain name for your website is available. Use the box on the left to do so.

Use the box on the left to do so. If it’s available, click “next”.

choosing a domain name

Already have a domain name from GoDaddy? You can use the box on the right to transfer your domain name.

If the domain name you chose is available, you’ll see a “congratulations” message on the next page. Now you can begin typing in your account information like you see below.

submitting hosting account info

After typing in your account information, scroll down a little bit to select your hosting package. A 3-year plan might be too much for a beginner, but keep in mind that you can cancel with Bluehost at any time and get a full refund for the remaining months in your plan.

The 3-year package is the cheapest per month, which is what I recommend for everyone to save some dollars.

selecting your plan

 After your plan has been selected, and you’ve unchecked the unnecessary features, simply put in your billing information. When you’re done, just

When you’re done, just click the green “submit” button to move forward.

payment information

Your purchase for your new website is now complete.

Click the “create a password button to select a password to login to your Bluehost control panel.

bluehost welcome

 Now you can use your new password to login to Bluehost. Type in your domain name and password and then click “submit”.

bluehost cpanel login

Next you’ll want to click on the icon “Install WordPress” to set up your blog.

cpanel dashboard

When you’re ready, click the green “start” button to install.

installing wordpress

On the next screen, you’ll see your new domain name there.

Click “Check Domain” to move forward.

Wordpress Install

Last step! Simply put in the name of your website (I put in ‘OnBlastBlog’) and choose the username and password you’ll use to login to your brand new WordPress blog.

Click “Install Now” and it’ll be done in a few minutes.

wordpress login

That’s it! How long did that take? About 9 minutes for me!

Haven’t started? Click the yellow button below to access my instant discount.

 setup hosting and get free domain

Prefer a Video Tutorial?

Check Out this Video That Details the Quick Process:

(Over 50% off through this EXCLUSIVE link).

Stuck? Email me & I’ll do it all for you!

By the Way – If you had trouble installing WordPress with your blog, don’t hesitate to give Bluehost’s customer service line a call or just email me!

If you prefer to read the instructions on setting up your WordPress blog:

After you’ve finished registering for your hosting and domain, you may need to wait around for about a half-hour before the account is approved.

Ready to finish this? 

  1. Enter the Portal

Okay, so go ahead and login to your AMP and select the “Home” page. Under “My Account” you’ll see an option to “Install Popular Software” click on that and select “WordPress Software.”

There are others that you can install, but my personal experience has confirmed what many others will tell you: that WordPress is the best one to use.

  1. Fill in the Details

You’re minutes away from starting a blog, just hang in there! On the software setup page, you place the title of your blog under “Site Name” so for example, I would put “OnBlastBlog” in there.

Put a little description under “Site Description” something short and sweet like this: “A detailed account of cat activity around the world, and speculations about what they’re planning.”

Next, setup a password. Don’t make it something easy, though, make sure that it has some numbers, and one of these various symbols: !,@,$,%,&,*.

Put your email into the “Admin Email” field and you’re good to go.

  1. Go Ahead, Take Her Out for a Test Drive.

Head to www.[mybloghere].com/admin so you’re able to login and start your first post!

STEP 4: HOW TO CONFIGURE YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG TO A DIFFERENT HOST (Advanced Mode)

How to Manually Set Up Your WordPress Blog (Expands)

 

Take a quick look at this handy dandy Blogging Platform Comparison Chart I made.

A fair warning to anyone reading this portion of the article: this is the advanced course.

To ensure your blog installation is correctly synced with the host of your choice, it needs to meet certain qualifications:

  • MySQL 4.2 or higher
  • PHP 4.0 or higher
  • 1GB of Free hard drive Space

 

When you’re certain that all of this checks out, head to the WordPress download link and download the files.

You’ll need to first unzip and extract the files, moving them all to the new file.

Now, open that file and change these lines:

  • define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘database_name_here’);
  • define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username_here’);
  • define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password_here’);
  • Define (‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’); – This one usually doesn’t need anything changed

 

Fill in the database, by inputting the information for each field. If you don’t know some of them or any of them, contact the host’s customer service to receive them. Once you’ve made the edits, click “save” and close the file.

The next step is to make the connection between you and your host’s FTP account. You’re going to need a client program to do this, like FileZilla for example. You’ll need the hosting company’s login information here again here so you can upload and deliver files directly to the host.

Uploading them directly into the primary root directory will allow your blog to be accessed through this URL: www.yourdomainname.com. If you are uploading the files to an individual folder, then the URL will be www.yourdomainname.com/myblog.

Double check that there aren’t any other index files in the there like .html, .htm files. The “index.php” file is the only directory you can use.

Now that your blog is set up, let’s talk about getting it off the ground.

Click Here to Read Why Free isn’t Always Better (Expands)

1. Free Means You Make a Blog Without Your Own Domain

The first thing to understand, is that while you can customize part of the website URL, you won’t have full control over the name of the domain because it’s being hosted by someone other than you.

What if this website was called OnBlastBlog.Blogger.com?

Not as cool, is it?

Starting a blog for free might sound like a good idea because it’s a way to get started without any risk.

It Gets Worse: 

Your website “IDontKnowHowToStartABlog.Blogger.com” isn’t on a platform that’s built to generate revenue.

When you use a free blogging platform like blogger.com, or tumblr.com, your URL is going to include their cut because they are the ones hosting your blog.

This may seem like a minor inconvenience, but keep in mind that people should be able to recall your blog’s URL off the top of their head, otherwise they’re going to forget the website.

You can purchase a domain name through the company to fix this issue, but you’re still not in total control of the blog as a whole, so it only plugs the leak.

2. You Won’t Have Options for Themes, Layouts, and Plugins

Opting for a free blog through one of the sites mentioned above, or others out there, doesn’t give you a whole lot of options when it comes to customization.

Think of it this way:

It’s like getting a burger for free, but you’ve got to pay a premium for each condiment and topping (and the bun!)

3. You Have No Control

When using a free blog hosting website, you have to consider the fact that while the blog has your name on it, you don’t own it.

This is crazy: 

Going the free route gives you absolutely NO control over your blog

For me, that’s a deal breaker.

The website that is running the blog for you owns it, and if they decide they don’t like it, all it takes is the flip of a switch to send your blog to the big website in the sky – for instance, starting a Facebook blog.

If the owners of the website (blogger, Tumblr) decide that your content doesn’t jive with the feel they’re going for, they can delete all of your posts and make your blog disappear.

4. You Cannot Create a Blog That Earns (enough) Money

Granted, you didn’t pay for your free blog, but did you know that many people make money on their blogs?

What’s the bottom line?

 If you’re using a free hosting site, you won’t be able to make much money, if any at all.

Some sites will let you set up a paid advertising plan, but they’re going to take a cut of everything you make. We’re talking 50% or higher.

Again, if you are just starting out and you’re running on a tight budget, I would recommend using WordPress as your main blogging platform.

You can run to Tumblr, or blogger, but when you decide to purchase and host a domain of your own and URL, you will most likely continue using WordPress because of its intuitive design and ease of use.

After 72 million downloads and counting, WordPress has become the gold standard for blogging platforms, regardless of it being used as a free or self-hosted platform.

These are a couple of reasons why I recommend WordPress:

  • There are a number of free layouts and themes available
  • Writing posts, adding pictures, and embedding video is very easy and intuitive
  • You can create custom menus and organize your posts by category
  • Visitors can leave comments and also share your blog on their social media network profiles (check out this handy social media cheat sheet here)

Now that we’ve covered the free options, let’s discuss self-hosting your blog.

THE FINAL STEP: Diving Into WordPress 

We’re not done until you’re 100% confident in how to proceed next. If you’re looking for blog post ideas, stay tuned for more in-depth articles, but for this first one, why not try introducing yourself and write about the purpose and goals of your blog.

Make it personal, but don’t go into too much detail.

Now: 

Let’s look at the WordPress dashboard when you first arrive on your new blog:

Quick Overview of The WordPress Dashboard

Once you’re on the WordPress dashboard, you’re going to see some options:

  • Adding New Content – This is where you add posts and pages, to begin your first post, just click “post” and then “add new.”
  • Layout and Themes – Modify the layout and design of your blog. All you need to do is find one you like and click “install.”
  • Settings – Here you’ll be able to edit the blog’s title, its tagline, and the email address associated with it.
  • Plugins – We’ll discuss these in more detail in a future article, but essentially these are tools you can put in your blog like newsletter sign-ups, contact forms, and other features

 

These options can be a little overwhelming, and that’s a word that I never want you to associate with the WordPress website platform. So, let’s dive deeper and make sure you have everything you need.

How Can I Find a Theme That Works For My Blog? 

Below, you’ll find the default WordPress theme for 2016. It’s nice and clean, but it’s not exactly unique. Take a look:

default-wordpress-theme-2016

A Theme is a layout and design that tells WordPress exactly how your website should look and function.

Here’s the best part: 

There are thousands of these. Some of them are free, some of them come with a one-time fee or a membership to the service.

Here’s How to Find a Theme You Like:

Step One: Login to WordPress 

It’s time to customize your WordPress website. Head to your web address and add /wp-admin to the end of the URL to reach your login page. Once you’ve done this, you should see a screen like this one:

wordpress-dashboard

Step Two: Head to the Themes Marketplace 

Click the paintbrush symbol which is labeled Appearance. This will take you to the page where you can browse and choose from the numerous themes WordPress has to offer.

This is what the page will look like:

wordpress-themes

The search function here is very robust. You’ll have plenty of options for how you want to narrow the results.

Step Three: Choosing Your Theme 

Regardless of your blog’s niche, these are the things you want to look for in your WordPress theme:

What Do I Need in My WordPress Theme?

  • Look for something that is stark and simplistic. Anything too complicated will overload the viewer’s senses and confuse them when they arrive.
  • It absolutely must be a mobile responsive design. A vast majority of your visitors will be using mobile devices. They should have an equally user-friendly experience as people who visit on desktops. If you’re not sure, check the theme’s description and run the demo page through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
  • Make sure the theme clearly states that it’s compatible with all of the major web browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and so on.
  • The theme should support just about any and every plugin you want to install. If there’s any doubt on this front, ask the developer or research the specific plugin you’re concerned about to be sure.
  • Look for multilingual support in both different versions of your website and for different multilingual plugins.
  • If you’re a beginner, consider looking for themes with website builders included.
  • Finally, look for themes with plenty of reviews and options for ongoing support.

 

Step Four: Install Your Chosen Theme 

The Final step is to install the theme you’ve chosen by selecting it and clicking the Install Now button.

An important note: 

Change your theme as often as you’d like in these early stages. It’s best to find the perfect option for your site before you dive into everything. If you decide down the road that you want to try something different, remember this: changing your theme does not delete any posts, pages, or content. 

How Do I Add Content And Create New Pages?

Adding new content in WordPress is simple and easy. Thankfully, if you’ve ever used a program like Microsoft Word in the past, you’ll be right at home here.

Click on Pages or Posts and then Add New.

Adding and Editing Posts

 Let’s take a look at the content creation layout for WordPress:
wordpress-content-creation

In the image above, I’ve labeled all the major elements you’ll see on the create page and create post screens. Let’s break down each of these so you understand what everything does:

  • 1. Title (H1) – This box at the top of the page is where you’ll place the main title of the page or post.
  • 2. Add Media – This button takes you to the tool where you can upload, customize, and insert images into your content.
  • 3. Toolbar – Here we have the various formatting options available to you. Everything from the option to bold text, underlining, italics, and even your header styles can be found here.
  • 4. Visual/Text Tabs – This tab switches between the visual “front end” of the content and the text “backend.” The only time you’ll need to look at the text tab is when you need to add custom codes or short code.
  • 5. Publish Box – This is where you’ll find the options you need to save the draft, publish the post, or update it with new content.
  • 6. Content – This is where the magic happens. All of your content, including images and links, go here.

Adding Pages to Your Menu

When you’ve created pages such as the “About Us” or “Contact Us” options, you can add them to your navigation bar. To do this, click Appearance on the left side of your dashboard, followed by Menus. 

 

Once you’ve reached this page, follow these steps:

  • Find the page you want to add in the list on the left.
  • Check them off.
  • Click “Add to Menu.”

 

Creating Categories and Organizing Your Posts

Now that you’ve made a website, you may be asking: “How do I start a blog?”

It’s simple: 

You just need to start producing consistent content related to your niche and your audience. The various articles and guides you create will be added to your new blog as “posts.”

To keep your blog organized, you may wish to organize your posts into categories. If you have a static web page, a separate category can be formed to house your blog posts.

Here’s how it’s done: 

  • Option #1 – Create your new category by going to Posts -> Categories. 
  • Option #2 – When you’re writing a post, you can create a new category on the right side of the page and your post to it.

Remember to add your new categories to the navigation bar and you’ll be all set!

Settings and Tweaks Within WordPress 

This section’s purpose is to perform the “housecleaning” that any new website owner should do when they’re building websites. These things will add the finishing touches to your blog’s foundation.

Changing Your Blog’s Title and The Tagline

It’s important that you customize both the title and tagline of your blog. Otherwise, it won’t look very professional in search engine results. This is also important for search engine optimization (SEO) as it gives you an opportunity to include your main keywords.

To change these things, head to Settings -> General and fill out the fields below for the site’s title and tagline.

Hitting a creative roadblock? 

If you’re not sure what to place here, here are some tips to help you decide:

  • At this point, you’ve already registered a domain, so you have some idea of what your blog is going to be called. For branding purposes, you can make the name identical or similar to your domain.
  • Ask yourself: “What’s my blog’s purpose?” What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Use descriptive language or phrases that describe you.
  • Misspell something on purpose or create a new term that describes what you do.
  • Balance the title between professional and personal, depending on the nature of your blog.

Disabling Comments on Your Posts and Pages

Depending on the page/post, or the nature of your blog in general, you may not want comments. If that’s the case, for specific pages, you can follow these steps to disable comments:

  • When you’re working on creating a new page or post, look for the “screen options” button in the top right corner. Click to open it.
  • Next, click the discussion box and you’ll see another box appear for “Allow Comments.”
  • Un-tick this box to disable comments on that page only.

Would you rather disable comments altogether? 

This is also easy to do:

Go to Settings -> Discussion and un-tick the option that says “Allow people to post comments on new articles.”

Creating a Static Homepage

A static page is different than a blog page. In the case of a static homepage, it never changes. If you want your homepage to stage the same, regardless of what’s going on in other parts of your website, follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings -> Reading 
  • Choose a page you’ve created to become a static page for your site. “Front Page” is the homepage page, while “Posts Page” is the front page of your blog.
  • If you don’t choose a static page, WordPress will use your latest posts and show them on your homepage. So, it may be important to create a static page, based on the goals of your website/blog.

Editing The Sidebar

When you’re choosing a WordPress theme to get a new website online, they will almost always have a sidebar on the right side (some cases it’s on the left).  This feature is great for user-friendliness, but often the default sidebar includes things you don’t need.

To edit your sidebar and customize to your liking, follow these steps:

  • Go to Appearance -> Widgets in the dashboard.
  • Use the drag-and-drop feature to add and remove different boxes from the sidebar.
  • Don’t worry about the HTML box, this is for using custom code.

What Should I Put in My Sidebar?

  • When you’re making a website, your sidebar should be organized from highest to lowest priority.
  • The top element depends on what you’re website is trying to accomplish. For some, this is a widget with your About Me information.
  • For other websites, a short opt-in form is the top element of their sidebar so they can collection email subscribers.
  • Other elements beyond these include your latest posts, social media buttons, and additional navigation.
  • You should stay away from posting awards, a ton of social fees, and archived posts. There are better places for these.

 

Installing Plugins to Maximize Your WordPress Experience 

Here’s a question you may be having: 

What’s a plugin?

Plugins are the name given to programs that add additional functions to the base version of WordPress. Think of them like a blogger apps. They give you the option to add features quickly and easily.

Without plugins, you would have to set up a website for yourself, along with all of the little features you want it to have. These offer a much easier way to add functionality.

Here are just a few of the things plugins can do for WordPress:

  • Track your visitors and their behaviors
  • Modify and monitor your SEO efforts
  • Add contact forms and opt-ins for your email list
  • Speed up your website
  • Backup your website
  • Add a comments platform to your website
  • Protect your website from hackers
  • Compress and optimize images
  • Much more

How to Install Plugins on WordPress

Installing plugins on WordPress is as simple as installing themes:

  • Go to Plugins -> Add New
  • Search through the thousands of available options
  • Click install and activate to finish the process.

What to Look For in WordPress Plugins

  • Make sure it’s something you need. Installing unnecessary plugins can slow down your website.
  • Look to see if it has a large number of reviews.
  • Make sure it was updated recently, and consistently since it was created.
  • Check to see that the plugin is compatible with your version WordPress.
  • If you have any questions, reach out ot the developer before you purchase or download the plugin.

Essential Plugins For WordPress

As you get started with plugins, you’ll probably find a lot of them that you want to download. Let’s start with the most crucial ones first:

1. Yoast SEO 

This plugin singlehandedly demystifies SEO for new WordPress bloggers. Once you’ve installed it, you’ll find the widget beneath your posts. It will give you the opportunity to customize the URL, Title Tag, and meta description of the post or page right then and there.

You can also input your main keyword to get a detailed analysis of how well it’s used across all the on-page elements. These are just the basic features as well, so it’s easy to see why this plugin should be first on your list.

2. Google Analytics 

Tracking the number of people who visit your site, how long they stay, and what pages they visit are the beginnings of a robust analytics approach. This plugin makes it easy to connect your website with the Google Analytics

This will allow you to understand how your website is performing and eventually use that data to improve your marketing and your usability.

3. Contact Form 7 

It’s common to have a contact form on your About Me page, and this plugin allows you to set one up with ease. Using this, you can give your visitors the option to send you a  message without having to open their email software or leave your website to do it.

4. Wordfence 

WordPress security is a hot topic right now, and it always will be. Hackers are constantly looking for new ways to get into websites. By downloading a security plugin, you can protect your site from harmful visitors and software.

5. W3 Total Cache 

The last plugin I would recommend to have from the very beginning is W3 Total Cache. This incredible plugin immediately gives you a speed boost. While it has a lot of advanced features, simply installing and activating it will make a difference in an of itself. WordPress security, so let’s not let this one go to the wayside.

The best thing you can do from here? Explore and check out the options. When you’re putting together your post, check out the various fonts, tools, and the useful “Add Media” button to put pictures in your post and embed videos.

Now that you know how to create a blog, I want to show you a few practical strategies you can use immediately to build a successful blog.

From blogging best practices, to dummy-proof WordPress SEO tips, to link building guides, all the way to getting direct insight from other industry experts, I’ll personally show you how to make your own website and make money through blogging.

Thank you to everyone for going on this journey with me. Spread the word, share this page with others and show them how to start a blog. Everyone deserves success and happiness, so spread the word!

Matt Banner

Matt Banner headshot

Hey! The name's Matt. I'm a seasoned blogger & Wordpress developer. I've consulted with Fortune 500 companies and now I'm here to help you get started with your blog. Follow me on Twitter.

Comments

  1. lgrey@gmail.com'Lilian Grey

    Wow, what an amazing and informative guide. I really appreciate all of the insight that you’ve provided. Very thorough!

    Reply
    1. Matt Banner Post author

      You’re most welcome Lilian. Anything to help you get started blogging!

      Reply

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