Inside: Learn how to start a WordPress blog on Bluehost in under 15-minutes. Plus, discover a reliable content strategy that generates unlimited blog post ideas.
Want to start a blog that converts visitors into fans and pulls website traffic from Google?
If you do, then you’ll love this complete and proven WordPress guide to launching a successful blog in 2020. (Even if you’re a beginner).
Plus, simple steps to personalize your blog using the best WordPress themes and plugins.
What You’ll Discover:
- How to make your visitors and Google love you so you get more traffic.
- The best WordPress themes for easy customization and scalability.
- The best WordPress plugins for SEO, speed, traffic, and leads.
- A method for generating instant blog topic ideas (creativity NOT needed).
Although, this “how to start a WordPress blog tutorial” has several sections…
… it has two core objectives.
- How to create and start a WordPress blog in 15 minutes or less.
- How to generate blog post ideas (without fail).
That being said…
Let’s get into it.
How to Create and Start a WordPress Blog: (What’s required?)
To create and launch a blog on WordPress is simple. They’re only two things you need:
You can sign up for a web hosting account and get a FREE domain name at my recommended service provider – Bluehost.
As mentioned… your domain name and a web hosting account are “table stakes” for starting a WordPress blog.
But, to have a successful blog, there are a few other things you need to know and do.
Keys to a Successful WordPress Blog
The truth is…
Writing incredible content will only take your blog so far in the search engines. Contrary to what most people believe. To be able to win the hearts and minds of your visitors, you must serve two masters – Google and your readers.
Here’s your blog success formula in a nutshell.
And their mission is no secret… here it is.
In short, you must master the art of publishing content in a way that both your audience and Google loves.
- Use a larger body font for easy viewing on mobile (16 – 20 px).
- Write between the 5th and 8th-grade level. (Readability grader here.)
- Use short paragraphs with transition words in between.
- Divide content ideas using subheadings (ie, H2, H3 tags, etc.)
- Use bullets and lists.
- Edit for grammar.
- Use mixed media (ie, images, videos, and audio).
When you incorporate these formatting tips in blog posts…
… visitors tend to consume more content and stay longer on your site.
And longer “time on site” is a positive ranking signal in Google’s search algorithm.
Google loves this metric and boosts your blog ranking higher in their search engine. This, in turn, gets more visitors to your site.
Your visitors reward you by sharing, revisiting, and linking to your site. These actions signal to Google that your website is relevant, useful, and trustworthy.
And these signals further propel the popularity and rankings of your site.
(The process repeats.)
And this is why you serve both masters!
This is NOT a WordPress.com Tutorial
Instead I’ll show you how to start a blog using self-hosted WordPress so that you have full control. This is critical if you want to make money with your blog.
Step 1: Buy Web Hosting and a Domain Name
You deciding to choose WordPress over other blogging platforms was a smart choice. Out of the box, it has many built-in advantages.
WordPress is great when it comes to security, flexibility, scalability, and SEO.
Before I became a full-time SEO consultant back in 2010, I worked at one of the fastest-growing hosting companies in the US… so I learned a few things.
When it comes to choosing a hosting provider, there are three core things you should consider.
Having said that…
I recommend Bluehost to anyone who is starting out and wants to quickly get their blog launched. I’ve used them from the beginning and use them for client sites today.
Their performance record has been stellar with (99.99%) uptime and a fast load time of (0.4 seconds).
But what’s most impressive to me is their consistent level of customer support.
When I first started my consulting business, I deleted my client’s website. (Not good!)
I was panicking, and I called them around 2:00 in the morning.
To my surprise… a welcoming voice answered!
Moments later, my client’s site was restored and back online. (I couldn’t thank them enough.)
Here are a few other reasons I recommend Bluehost.
Sign up for WordPress Hosting at Bluehost
To get started click here to go to Bluehost. (Note: The homepage is always changing. )
So you’ll either see a “get started” button or you’ll scroll down the page to see the current paid hosting plans.
Choose a hosting plan that best fits your needs. All three plans already include a free SSL certificate, which is great security and visitor trust. So this won’t be a determining factor.
If you plan on hosting more than one site you’ll need either the Plus or Choice Plus.
Note: If you want the ability to restore your site easily in case of a technical catastrophe (ie, you break the website or your site gets hacked), I recommend Choice Plus because it includes CodeGuard Basic Backup…
… and CodeGuard Backup will automatically backup your site daily.
Also, if you choose Choice Plus, make sure to activate the backup service to your website. You do this inside your Bluehost account.
If you only need hosting for one website and are willing to do backups manually (or with 3rd-party plugins), the Basic plan will be a great fit.
So choose a plan and click the “Select” button.
On the next screen you have three choices:
- You can pick a new domain. (Note: You get this free.)
- You can use a domain you already own.
- You can “skip” and add it later. (There’s a link at the bottom.)
Tips For Choosing a Great Domain Name
1. Pick a (.com) if possible. Other popular options are (.net, .org, .co, and .blog).
2. The shorter the better.
3. The easier to spell the better.
4. Don’t use hypens (ie, off-road-auto-parts.com).
5. Don’t use trademarked names (ie, disneybirthdaycakes.com).
If you want to create a new domain for your blog, enter “your domain name” and click the “Next” button.
The final step is your account, package, and payment information.
Make sure you enter your information correctly (especially your email). You’ll receive your WordPress login information and receipt via email.
Lastly, enter your credit card information and agree to Bluehost’s Terms and click the “submit” button.
Step 2: Add Domain to WordPress
Now that you’ve purchased your domain name and web hosting account. The only thing left is to install WordPress and your domain onto your hosting account.
The good news is it takes “zero” technical skills to get this done.
You should have received your WordPress login instruction from Bluehost you via email. Follow the instructions and log in. (If not, reach out to them via chat or phone.)
The first time you log in you might see a “pop-up wizard” that will walk you through the WordPress setup.
If you didn’t see the pop-up wizard click the “My Sites” tab on the side. Then click the Create Site button to launch the WordPress wizard.
Once you click on the Create Site button, you’ll enter your site name and site tagline. Both of these can be changed later so enter your domain name and any tag line. Then click “Next” to continue.
Make sure you see your domain name under the domain heading. If you don’t, click the arrows and select it.
More than likely, all the Helpful Free Plugins will be selected. You can keep them all selected, or you can “unselect” them.
I usually keep Monster Insights since it’s a convenient way to check general Google Analytics stats from WordPress.
This is your last page before you’re redirected to the WordPress dashboard. So make a note of your “Username” and “Password.”
Then click the Login to WordPress link.
Note: You can always log in to your WordPress dashboard by going to “yourdomain.com/wp-login.php“.
When you click the Login to WordPress link you’ll sometimes see a “Loading WordPress” screen. (See below.)
When the loading WordPress screen finishes, you’ll be inside your WordPress dashboard.
You’ll notice a “Coming Soon Active” button highlighted in the menu. This means you temporarily have a “coming soon” page in place of your WordPress blog.
A coming soon page is helpful, as it gives you time to customize your WordPress site before you go “live” to the public. So when your site is ready to go “live” – make sure to deactivate the Coming Soon page.
While the “coming soon” page is active. Visitors will see the page below. But, because you are logged into your account, you’ll be able to see your WordPress blog.
By default, every WordPress installation comes loaded with the famous “Hello World!” post. To see what your site currently looks like hover over the “home icon and site name” and click Visit Site.
Your site will look very basic until you customize your theme and configure your WordPress settings – which we’ll do soon.
Now… let’s move on so you can write your first blog post.
Step 3: Write Your First Blog Post
To create your first blog post hover over the “Post tab” in the WordPress sidebar. Then click “Add New.”
Creating a blog post inside of WordPress is very intuitive.
Add your title, type your text, and add any media (ie, images or videos.)
Then hit the “Publish” button.
Boom… You published your first blog post.
Now’s time to let the world know you launched your blog.
Click the Tweet Button below to send out the image so that you start building buzz for your future blog reveal.[tweet_dis_img]
Step 4: Customize WordPress Theme
The WP admin panel is, in essence, the control panel for your entire WordPress website. And the first time you poke around the WordPress Admin dashboard (or WP Admin) it might look a little intimidating.
But, after the initial setup and customizing your WordPress theme – using WordPress is simple.
I say “simple” because when you publish new blog content you’ll mainly be using three tabs – posts, media, and pages.
Overview of WordPress Admin Dashboard
Posts: Add, remove, or edit posts and categories to your blog.
Media: Add, remove, or edit media (ie, images and video) to your media library that can be used in posts and pages.
Pages: Add, remove, or edit pages to your blog or website.
Appearance: Change your WordPress theme, customize your site (ie, colors, typography, and logo).
Plugins: Add or remove WordPress plugins.
Settings: Update General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media, and Permalinks.
WordPress Plugins: (Adding Functionality)
WordPress comes with a few plugins already installed. Typically, you’ll see Akismet, Bluehost, Hello Dolly, Jetpack, and any other plugins you selected during installation.
So what is a WordPress plugin?
Plugins are a cool way to extend functionality to your blog or website without having to know or do custom coding. This saves you time and money.
Each plugin acts as a separate piece of software that integrates with WordPress. There are thousands of plugins (some free and some paid).
Where to find WordPress Plugins?
You can access free WordPress plugins by clicking “Add New” under the Plugins tab on your site. Or you can visit the official WordPress plugin directory.
Removing Default WordPress Plugins
But before adding any new WordPress plugins, delete the “Hello Dolly” and the “Jetpack” plugin as they aren’t needed to optimize your site.
Activate Akismet Anti-Spam Plugin
Next “Activate” the Akismet Anti-Spam plugin. This plugin is essential for fighting comment spam created by bots and nefarious internet trolls.
Once the Akismet plugin is activated, click on the link in the description to set up your API key needed or the plugin.
Once on the Akismet page, you’ll need to set up an account. Once logged click the “Add Subscription” button.
You’ll land on a pricing page. If you’re starting out I recommend you click the “Name Your Price” option because you’re able to use the plugin for free.
Next, name your own price or move the slider to $0.00 if you want to use the plugin for free. Then add your personal details, verify, and click the “Continue” button.
Copy your Akismet API key.
Enter your API key into the Akismet plugin settings.
Finally, customize your Akismet settings and click the “Save Changes” button.
Done. Your Akismet plugin is now setup.
(BTW… most plugins don’t require an account to use them, so future plugin installs will be much quicker.)
How to Install WordPress Plugins?
To add and install any new WordPress plugin hover over the “Plugins” tab and click “Add New.”
If you know the name of a particular plugin type it into the search box. If you have no idea type in a “keyword” that would describe the function best (eg, contact form).
In the example below I typed in “Yoast SEO” because I’m looking for that exact SEO plugin.
Once you find the plugin you’re looking for “click” the “Install Now” button.
When the “Install Now” button will turn to “Activate” … click it.
You’ll now see your new plugin active on your WordPress plugins page.
Best Essential WordPress Plugins (2020)
To say that I’ve tested out a lot of WordPress plugins would be an understatement. The truth is, I’ve wasted more time and money trying out plugins than I care to admit.
But, what I can say from all the frustration is the fewer the plugins, the better.
In other words, don’t use more plugins than you need to. Limit your plugins to ones that enhance your site’s performance or user experience.
Considerations When Choosing Plugins
1. Every plugin added (in most cases) reduces site speed. (So be mindful.)
2. Free plugins aren’t always supported and updated. Paid plugins usually are.
3. The more plugins you add, the greater likelyhood of plugin or theme “conflicts.” Meaning your theme or other plugins don’t work correclty.
4. The more plugins you have requires more time to configure correctly.
That being said… here (in my opinion) are the best WordPress plugins to use in 2020 if you want to optimize your blog and grow your audience. My plugin preferences are based on experience, functionality, and performance.
Some are free and some are paid, but these are the core plugins I use on every WordPress blog.
- Akismet: The best way in the world to protect your site from Spam.
- Cloudflare: Speeds up and protects your WordPress site.
- Contact Form 7: Creates a simple, but flexible contact form.
- ConvertBox: The easy and intelligent way to convert visitors into subscribers.
- ConvertKit: The best email marketing software for bloggers.
- Elementor Pro: Customize your entire theme all with “one” page builder.
- Insert Headers and Footers: Easily adds tracking scripts or pixels to your site.
- PrettyLinks: Shrink, track and share any URL on the Internet from WordPress.
- ShortPixel: Optimizes images automatically, while protecting image quality.
- SumoMe: Free tools to automate your site growth and social shares.
- TweetDis: Creates “tweetable” quotes and images.
- Ultimate Addons: Extends Gutenberg functionality with feature-rich blocks.
- W3 Total Cache: Dramatically improves the speed and (UX) of your site.
- WP-Optimize: WP-Optimize makes your site fast and efficient.
- Yoast SEO: The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress.
How to Change WordPress Theme?
Switching out WordPress themes is not difficult when you first launch your site. But changing your theme after modifications and many published posts can create problems. – so choose wisely from the start.
What is a WordPress Theme?
A WordPress theme is a visual template of your website. It’s the overall design, look, and feel of your site. Themes are either free or premium (ie, paid).
Unlike plugins, changing out a WordPress theme is not as straight forward as one might assume. This is especially true for older sites with lots of existing pages and content.
Changing a WordPress theme is similar to remodeling a home. Yes, you can always update the look of your home, but it’s still a hassle. So it’s not something you want to do on a whim like you could with WordPress plugins.
How to Choose a WordPress Theme?
Picking the wrong WordPress theme can stifle your blog’s growth in the future. So it’s important to choose a theme carefully when you’re first starting out.
Fortunately, with so many WordPress themes available (free and premium), choosing a good looking theme isn’t hard. Here’s what to look for:
Best WordPress Themes for Blogs
There is no shortage of free WordPress themes on the market. And most free themes in the Theme Directory can be accessed from within the WordPress dashboard.
However, if you’re planning on running your blog like a business, I would shy away from using a free theme. If your blog is a hobby, then a free theme should work fine.
I always use premium themes for the reasons mentioned above. And there are two themes I use for myself and clients.
These themes are great for building a blog because of simplicity, speed performance, and unique built-in features.
But they’re also the best themes to use with Elementor – my preferred page builder.
This site, Marketing Chopz, is built using the Astra Pro theme. Then further customized with the Elementor Pro plugin.
Note: One of my favorite features of both these themes is the ability to import “starter or demo sites” and “page templates” onto your WordPress blog.
This drastically speeds up the design process when customizing your site. In essence, your website, and pages are created (and designed) at the click of a button.
You’ll still want to make a few tweaks to personalize your blog, like colors and fonts, for instance. But for the most part – you’re done. (It’s incredible.)
Make a Backup of Your Site
Unless you’re changing the theme on a brand new site, it’s good practice to make a backup incase of a technical catastrophe.
How to Manually Install a WordPress Theme?
Click on Themes in WordPress
In the WordPress Admin, hover over the Appearance tab and click Themes.
Add New Theme
On the Themes page, click on the Add New Theme box.
You can either upload your premium theme or select a free theme.
Upload Premium Theme (Parent and Child)
Select your theme’s zip file and upload it to WordPress. Most premium themes have both a “parent theme” and “child theme” zip file. Both need to be uploaded.
Install Theme Files
Once your file is uploaded, click on the Install Now button.
Activate WordPress Theme
Once your file theme is uploaded click on the Activate link. (Note: both the parent theme and the child theme need to be uploaded. But, only the “child theme” will be active in the end.
Confirm Child Theme is Active
Once your child theme is active you will see it marked “active.” Your new theme is now installed and you can begin to customize it.
View Your New Premium WordPress Theme
Click the Visit Site link to see your new WordPress theme.
Step 5: Generate Blog Post Ideas
The fact that you got your WordPress blog setup and launched is a great accomplishment in itself. (Give yourself a pat on the back.)
But now the real work begins – creating the content.
Like most new endeavors, it’s a lot easier to come up with content ideas when your blog is new and you’re eager to publish to the world.
However, what happens when the excitement wears off and inspiration for fresh content fizzles out?
Here’s the good news.
I’ll show you three powerful methods to generate infinite content ideas in a matter of minutes, NOT months
You’re going to learn:
- The Amazon Look Inside Method
- The BuzzSumo Method
- The Answer the Public Method
With these strategies, you’ll never get stuck trying to come up with blog post ideas or fresh content.
Let’s get to it.
1. Amazon Look Inside Method
The Amazon “Look Inside Method” is a quick and effective way to come up with relevant content from industry experts (ie, authors).
- Go to Amazon.com.
- Find popular books in your niche.
- Look inside the book cover and get blog content ideas.
Step 1: Select the”book” category, then type in your niche.
Step 2: Look inside the book.
Step 3: Write down content ideas for future blog posts.
2. The BuzzSumo Method
The BuzzSumo Method finds the most popular content shared across social media and ranks it by social engagement.
This gives you great insight into what topics and styles of content are “hot” in your niche.
- Go to BuzzSumo.com.
- Type in topics or URLs of popular websites in your niche.
- Create content that is similar to the best-performing articles.
Step 1: Type in either keywords or a competitor’s URL.
Step 2: Find articles with lots of social engagement and create similar types of content.
The Answer the Public Method
This is one of my favorite tools for discovering content topics that are looking for a solution to a particular question (or problem).
Since most of the results come back in the form of a question…
… the answer you provide makes the content especially useful to readers.
- Go to AnswerThePublic.com.
- Type in your topic idea.
- Download the CSV file.
Step 1: Type in your keywords
Step 2: Download CSV file
By now, you’ve realized that starting a WordPress blog is a lot simpler than most imagine.
And scaling your website as a business will be less painful if you build it on a solid foundation (using proven and supported WordPress themes and plugins).
Moreover, starting a WordPress site is the easy part…
… publishing useful content that satisfies both visitors and Google is the real challenge.
So, serve both masters and prosper!
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