Perfect! I am sure you are. Blogging is GREAT! It is a wonderful hobby and it is even better as a career option (ONLY if you take it seriously).
But where should you start? Do you know how to create a blog? These questions might be creeping up your mind right now.
I understand that. But you DO NOT NEED TO WORRY.
This Blogging guide is meant to HELP YOU.
WordPress Guide: How to start a blog?
In this guide, I have explained how to make a blog from scratch. And did I tell you that this is specially crafted for beginners. Which means that YOU DO NOT NEED ANY PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE OR TECHNICAL KNOW-HOW. Everything is explained in a simple step by step manner and complemented by helpful screenshots. If you want to know how to properly set up a WordPress blog, look no further. You will be up and running in 10 minutes only.
N.B.- This is a very comprehensive guide. Make sure you bookmark it for future reference.
Here are the things that you are going to learn in this WordPress Guide:
Why WordPress is considered the best blogging platform
How to get the Best and Cheapest WordPress hosting
Installing wordpress – how to install WordPress in cpanel
How to configure WordPress basic settings
How to install WordPress plugins
Which are the must have plugins and how to set them up
How to create and edit a post and page (along with basic onpage SEO)
Why is WordPress the best blogging platform?
There are so many reasons to choose WordPress. It is the undisputed king of blogging platforms. Want some reasons? Here are a few:
It is simple and easy to use.
It has a huge community that keeps on developing the platform.
It is updated very regularly.
The availability of so many plugins to expand its functionality beyond imagination.
You can basically make any type of website using WordPress.
The availability so many themes to get any look you want.
Stable and fast.
It is free and open source; modify it as you wish.
Google loves WordPress.
Some stats about wordpress:
WordPress powers approximately 25% of all websites.
WordPress accounts for 45% of all Content Management Systems. Big guys like TechCrunh, BBC America, Time Inc, Sony Music, Mozilla blog and Reuters blog trust WordPress.
Trust me. It’s the best one out there.
Getting started – How to get the best and cheapest WordPress hosting?
To start with, you would need a hosting and a domain name.
These guys give you the best WordPress hosting. I have personally used both of them and they are awesome. You get unlimited hosting space and unlimited bandwidth with both of them. Bluehost offer comes with free domain included in the plan (recommended for beginners).
Here are the steps to start a hosting plan in 5 minutes:
3) Choose either “starter” or “plus” plan (recommended).
4) Click Select on your chosen plan.
5) Next you have to select a domain name (comes free) for your account. Type in the domain name you want and click next.
6) If it is not available, try another domain name.
7) Once you have got your domain name, you will be sent to the sign up page.
8) Fill in your correct details and confirm the plan duration. I would recommend a 3 year plan as it would save you money in the long run. Uncheck the other options to save money. You can always get them later if you need them.
9)Enter the billing information and click Next. Complete the payment steps and its done. Details for operating your account will be mailed to you.
Installing wordpress – how to install WordPress in cpanel
You may be wondering how to install WordPress in the first place. But let me tell you something. Installing WordPress is very easy :-), if you hava a cpanel hosting like the ones I recommended above. Just do the following:
Log in to your cpanel (the url for cpanel and login details will be emailed to you by BlueHost or Hostagator; please check your mailbox).
Scroll down to Software/Services section.
Click on the QuickInstall icon.
Under the “Blog Software” menu on the right, there is a link for WordPress.
The next screen shows you details about the WordPress version and its install size.
The next screen asks you about where you want to install WordPress.
Select the domain you want from the dropdown list (if you have multiple domains in your account).
If you want your blog to be installed in a subfolder, enter the name of the subfolder in the box beside the domain. For example if you want your blog to be at yourblog.com/myblog, then enter “myblog” in that box. Otherwise leave it blank.
Keep enable auto upgrades checked and enter the other details. All your blog related emails go to the Admin email. Make sure you enter an email that is in use.
Fill in the other details too.
Do not choose the name “admin” as the Admin user.Choose something different. Once you have filled up the details, click on the Install button.
That is it. Once your installation is complete, it will show the Congratulations screen. You can now access your blog by typing your url or clicking the link provided. The admin area link is also there. Click it and use the username and password provided to you to log in to the backend of your WordPress blog.
So, now you have successfully installed your blog and logged on to the admin area. But this is just the start. There is a lot more left to do to properly set up your blog. Let’s get on with it.
Configuring the basic wordpress settings
One of the first things that you need to do after installing WordPress is to modify some of the basic settings. Making these changes will enhance the security, search engine friendliness, user experience and certain other essential aspects of your blog. Don’t worry. It is quite easy. You can easily do it with the help this step by step guide.
Before you can make any changes to the settings you have to log onto your WordPress admin dashboard. Go back to the earlier step to see how to do it. After every change you make to your settings, make sure you click save settings at the end of each page.
Set up the title and tagline
The first thing to do is to set up your blog’s title and tagline. Go to Settings > General.
The title of your blog will already be there, as you had entered during installation of WordPress. You can change it if you like. Add the tagline for your blog. Make it short and interesting. You can also change the e-mail address that you had entered during installation.
Prevent user registration
On the same page, there will be an option for membership. Uncheck the “anyone can register” check box.
This will save you a lot of trouble in fighting spam. Anyways, with the advent of list building services and feedburner, default WordPress subscription feature is no longer useful. Try to get users subscribed to your e-mail list or feedburner instead.
Set the correct time zone
Again on the same page, there is an option to set the correct time zone. Set the correct time zone and select the date and time format you want.
Disable email publishing
Now go to Settings > Writing. Go to the “post via e-mail” section.
Clear the text boxes under this option. This would disable any posting via e-mail. This is not a necessary feature anyways. If you need to post, you can easily log into your account and make the post.
Update the ping list
On the same page, you can update your ping list. The Ping list is basically a list of update services, that gets notified or “pinged” whenever you publish a new post. In turn, these “update services” process your ping and updates their proprietary indices with your update. By default, WordPress only has one service http://rpc.pingomatic.com/ on the list.
Adding more services may make your posts get indexed faster. For a start, you can include the following services in your list. Just copy and paste to the following to your Update Services box . (Source:http://www.dessky.com).
In the first url, replace www.yourdomain.com with the actual address of your blog
Go to Settings >Reading. Here you can set the number of posts you want to appear on your blog’s home page.
Keep the number between 7 and 10. For the “each article in feed” option, select summary.
Configure the Discussion settings
Under the discussions options, you need to modify a lot of things. I’m going to tell you what each option does and give my personal recommendation, but it is up to you to decide what to do. Go to Settings > Discussion.
Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article:This will send a ping to any blog that your link. Keep it checked.
Allow link notifications from other blogs: This will create a pingback/trackback in the comments section of one of your articles that was linked to from another blog. I suggest you to keep this option enabled.
Allow new people to post comments:It’s obvious isn’t it. Keep it enabled.
Enable nested comments
Enable “allow nested comments”. Set it to 3 levels deep. This will promote better interaction among commenters. Also, enable the option “comment author must fill out name and e-mail”. This will reduce spam to some extent.
Do not break comments
Uncheck the option “break comments into pages”. You would ideally want all the comments to appear on a single page. Also, set the option to display older comments at the top of the page.
Set the criterion for a comment to appear on your blog. Either make all the comment manually approved or at the very least check the option “comment author must have previously approved comment”.
By this , you will reduce the chance of a spam bot spamming your blog. It is best to manually approve all comments before they appear on your blog.
Set avatar display to show avatars. Set maximum rationg to G- suitable for all audiences. For the default avatar option, I generally use “mystery man”. If a commenter does not have a custom logo, the mystery man logo is shown instead. You can also set it to Wavatar or MonsterID if you like.
Update the permalink structure
The next and one of the most important things for you to do is to change the permalink structure. By default WordPress uses a structure like yourblog.com/?p=123. This permalink structure does not contain any information about the content of the post. It does not give the search engines any clue about what the topic of the post might be. This is bad from a search engine optimization perspective.
Go to Settings > Permalinks.
Change the Permalink structure to either the “month and name” or “post name” format. Both the formats would include keywords in your URL giving you a search engine optimisation advantage.
Create an author account
Before you start posting, you should always create an author account. Whenever you want to publish something, do that through the author account and not your admin account. Why?
This is because , if you use your admin account, anyone can know your admin “user name”. If one knows your admin “user name”, it becomes easier for them to hack into your account and cause damage. You certainly do not want that. Therefore you must create an author account first.
While logged in as an administrator, go to Users > Add New on your dashboard.
Fill in the necessary details.
From the drop-down list, select the user role as author. Click “add new user”.
That is it. If you want to know how you can select an author for a post, it described later in the how to create a post section.
How to install plugins in WordPress
Now you have installed WordPress. You have also made the essential changes to basic settings. What’s next?
Next we focus on “giving wings” to WordPress. Yes, we are talking about installing plugins; plugins which make WordPress such a wonderful blogging platform. For those who are unsure, plugins help to extend the functionality of your core WordPress installation.
There are so many plugins to choose from that it can be overwhelming for you. So, I have shortlisted must have WordPress plugins for you. All of these are free plugins. So, let get started.
Firstly I will show you how to search for, install and activate any plugin. After that we will learn how to set up these essential plugins for them to function properly. Ready?
Installing plugins from WordPress.org
To install any plugin, you have to locate it first.
Go to Plugins > Add new.
Type in the name of the plugin you’re looking for. Alternatively, type in some keyword related to your plugin. Hit the enter button.
The results page will now display a list of plugins matching your search query. It will also display whether the plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress or not.
There will also be a more details button. Click on it. Can you see the detailed page for this plugin? Here you can find the details about the version, author, compatibility, ratings, number of downloads as well as change history and other details.
There will be the “Install Now” button.
Installing plugins from your computer
What if you have downloaded a certain plugin to your computer? And it is sitting in zip format on your computer?
You can install such plugins too. Go to Plugins > Add new.
At the top of the page, there is a button named “upload plugin”.
You have to click on it.
In the next page, click browse and locate the plugin in your computer.
Then have to click on “install now” button.
Choose the plugin you want to install and click the install now button. This will install the plugin. Once installation is complete, it will show a message about successful installation of plugin. Below it there will be a link to activate the installed plugin.
Click this link to activate your plugin. Or you can also activate the plugin at a later time.
To do this go to Plugins > Installed Plugins.
You can see a list of plugins that are already installed in your blog.
Below each plugin there is a link to either activate it or deactivate it.
By clicking the link, you can activate an inactive plugin or deactivate an active plugin.
Setting up the most important WordPress plugins
Now that you know how to install any plugin, go on and install the following plugins. Do not forget to activate them.
All In One SEO Pack
Black Studio TinyMCE Widget
CE Nofollow to WP-Link
Contact form 7
FD Feedburner plugin
Google Analytics by Yoast
Google XML Sitemaps
Simple Share Button Adder
Updraftplus – Backup/Restore
W3 Total Cache
Done? Good. Now let me show you how to set up the options for each plugin to work optimally.
All In One SEO Pack
It is a complete Search Engine Optimization plugin that helps you rank better in search engines.
The default settings for this plugin are good. You do not need to tinker with them. To know how to put this plugin to use, check the “how to create a post” section below.
Black Studio TinyMCE Widget
A full fledged editor for widgets that allows you to edit widget areas in the same manner as posts and pages.
Go to Appearance > Widgets.
Among the available widgets, there is one widget named “visual editor”. This widget has been created by this plugin.
Drag the widget to any widget compatible area of your blog. A full-fledged text editor will appear that will allow you to enter any type of rich text or other content without worrying about HTML.
CE Nofollow to WP-Link
Give you option to add nofollow to links in the main content part.
Whenever you insert a link in the text editor, and insert link pop-up box appears.
This plugin simply inserts an option to add “nofollow” tag to your links in that pop-up box.
If you want to nofollow a particular link, you have to check the box.
If you do not want to nofollow that link, keep the box unchecked.
Contact form 7
Generates contact form to collect user suggestions, queries and more.
Go to Contact > Add new.
You will see a default contact form.
To make this contact form appear anywhere in your site, all you have to do is to copy the code above it and paste it wherever you want it to appear. For example, you can create a “contact us” page and then paste this code on the page to make it show the contact form.
You can edit your default contact form by adding appropriate tags. There is a drop down menu titled “generate tags” on the right.
FD Feedburner plugin
Redirects the RSS feed of your blog to the Google Feedburner feed.
Go to Settings > Feedburner.
There is a box titled “redirect my feeds here”.
You have to enter your feedburner feed in this box.
To obtain the feedburner feed, you have to sign up to Google feedburner and setup your feed.
Google Analytics by Yoast
Allows you to enter the latest Google Analytics tracking code without any coding knowledge and does a lot more.
Go to Analytics > Settings.
“Check” the manually enter UA-code option.
Obtain your analytics code from Google analytics and manually enter it in the box given.
Under the universal tab, check “enable universal tracking” and “enable demographics and interest reports”.
After this step, you have to enable the same from the Google analytics account. Go to Admin > Property > Property Settings in your Analytics account to do it.
You may also want to track downloads. You can do it in the advanced tab. There is a box to indicate the file types, for which you want to track the downloads.
Google XML Sitemaps
Generates XML and HTML sitemaps of your blog and also notifies Search Engines whenever a post is made.
Go to Settings > XML-sitemap.
Reach for the “post priority” option and select “do not use automatic priority calculation”.
Under the “site map content” box, you can choose which type of content you want to appear in your site map. The default settings is to include homepage, posts and static pages.
Under the excluded items box, you can choose to exclude posts from certain categories from appearing in the site map. This is useful if you have certain content which you do not want to appear on the site map. All you have to do is to categorize such content under a certain category and then set the option to exclude that category from appearing on the site map.
You can also exclude certain posts if you need to.
The next box labeled “change frequencies” gives you the option to set the frequency at which you expect your content to change it. The default options are okay but you can modify it depending on your need.
The next option is to set “priorities”. I would suggest setting posts priority to 0.8.
Simple Share Button Adder
Adds prominent share buttons to your post to allow users to easily share your work.
This plugin also gives you a lot of options to play with. Go to Settings > Share buttons.
Under the basic settings, you can choose where the share button should appear. You should show your share buttons in the posts as well as pages. Do not use the share buttons in categories and archives.
For placement, I would suggest to show the share buttons after the post.
You can also modify the share text that will appear before the share buttons. I use the default text “sharing is caring” but you can come up with your own ideas.
You can also choose the image set to use; I use Somacro.
Below that option, you’ll find the drag box which allows you to select the services that you want to appear on your blog. Select the services you need.
Now come to the styling tab. Set button size to 35 pixels, alignment to left and padding to 6 pixels. You can also edit the appearance of the share text and the container to match your blog.
Next, you have to go to the counters tab. For new blog, I would recommend you to uncheck the share count “show” option. Once you have gained some popularity, you can enable this option.
Go to the advanced settings tab. Check the first two options “open links in new window” and “add no follow tags to links”. Also do not forget to include customize text message for e-mail share and twitter share.
Extends the functionality of default WordPress text editor.
This plugin automatically adds a number of buttons to your default WordPress text editor to extend its functionality. In order to avoid cluttering the space, it only adds some of the available buttons . You can choose which button to add and which button to keep unused.
Go to Settings > TinyMCE Advanced.
You will find a number of unused buttons. Drag and drop the unused button switch you want to appear on your text editor.
If you do not need certain buttons, drag them from the text editor and put them in the unused buttons box.
I would suggest adding text color, font size, font family and the find and replace buttons. You can easily customize your text editor depending on your needs.
If you prefer a clean look, you can also choose to remove as many buttons as you want.
Updraftplus – Backup/Restore
Makes regular and scheduled backup of your blog.
Options for this plugin can be found at Settings > Updraftplus Backup.
Go to the settings tab under Updraftplus Backup.
Here you can set file backup intervals as well as database backup intervals. I will suggest you to schedule backups at least on a weekly basis.
Set the “retain this many backups” option to 3.
By default, backups are stored in a local folder. You can choose a remote storage to store your backups. Depending on which option you choose, you may need to fill up the details. Dropbox and Google drive are good options.
If you want your local backup copies to remain, click on “show expert settings”. Uncheck “delete local backup”.
You can also manually backup your blog by clicking on “backup now” button under the “current status” tab.
To download your backup to your own computer, you need to go to the “existing backups” tab. From there you can download each of the backed up archives.
W3 Total Cache
Speeds up your blog by various means including caching.
Go to Performance > General settings.
Here you should at least enable page cache, browser cache and minify.
Set the page cache method to disk: enhanced.
Set the minify mode to auto and cache method to disk.
Whenever you activate or deactivate a new plugin, make sure you empty your cache by going to performance > empty all cache.
This is another plugins that gives a host of options. I would suggest you to use it with the default options.
You should perform an initial scan of your blog by clicking on Wordfence > Scan > Start a Wordfence Scan. Make sure everything is secure.
As we are using a separate caching plugin, we should disable the caching function in this plugin. Go to Wordfence > Performance setup and make sure the “no performance improvement” button is activated.
If you want to block certain IP addresses from accessing your site, you can go to Wordfence > Blocked IP. Enter the IP address in the box and click on “manually block IP”.
You can also block certain countries from accessing your site by going to Wordfence > Country blocking options.
Writing your first post in WordPress
You have installed WordPress, modified the basic settings and successfully set up all the essential plugins.
The backend is all sorted out. You have a pretty solid base.
Now it is the time to move to the frontend stuff. By front-end stuff, I mean “how to make your content appear in your blog”. WordPress provides two ways of achieving this:
By creating a post.
By creating a page.
And I’m going to teach you both. But before that, you may want to know about the difference between a post and a page.
Posts are entries listed in reverse chronological order on the blog home page or on the posts page.
They use tags and categories.
Simply put, when you blog, you are going to make posts on a regular basis.
Pages on the other hand are static and are not listed by date.
Neither do they use any categories or tags.
An “about me” page is a good examples.
Pages are usually linked to menus from the sidebar or at the top of the blog.
Pages a written less frequently and often used for comprehensive guides covering a broad topic or category.
Enough of the explanation. Let us learn how to create a post in a WordPress blog. Here are the steps.
how to create a post in a WordPress blog
Open the WordPress dashboard.
Place your mouse over the “Posts” option. A menu will come out, click on “Add New”.
The new post page will come up. Here you can create your new post.
Above the text editor is the box for the title of the post. Write down the title of the post.
Once you have entered the title, the Permalink will appear below the title box. Click on edit button to edit the Permalink. (TIP: have your keywords in the Permalink).
Next you can come to the text editor. Put the actual content of your post in this text editor.
There is a text based mode and a visual mode. For beginners, I would suggest use of the visual mode. You can type your content just as any word processor.
You can also copy and paste content from other sources. If you do not want the source formatting, go to the edit menu and then click on “paste as text”.
To format any piece of text, select the text and press the appropriate formatting button. You can make your text bold,italics,underlined and much more by pressing the appropriate button.
Aligning your text, creating bulleted lists, changing text color is done just like any other word processor.
The “read more” tag is often used in WordPress. This tag tells WordPress to use the content before the tag as the excerpt for that post (that is displayed on homepage). Put your cursor and click on the place where you want to place this tag. After clicking, click on the “insert Read more tag” button. This is how you create excerpts for your posts.
You can also insert tables just like any other word processor. Go to the table menu, click on insert table and select the number of rows and columns you want.
To insert a link, select the text, click on insert menu and then click insert link. In the resultant box, put in the URL of the link and click ok.
To insert an image or other type of media, you have to first click at the place where you want to insert it. Then go to the insert menu and click on add media.
If you have the media or image on your computer, click on upload media. Browse for the image to upload it. Alternatively you can drag your image to the upload media box. Once upload is complete, put in the title, caption, alternative text, description; also set the alignment, size and whether you want to link it to something. Once you’re done, click on insert into page.
Alternatively, if the image is present in some other website, you have to click insert from URL option. In the page that comes, put in the URL of that image and give a title. Click on insert into page. If the host of the image has prevented hotlinking, this method will not work. You will have to download the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog.
While writing the content, you can always have a preview by clicking the preview button. Make sure you preview before you publish.
You have to assign your post to a category before you publish. If you do not assign a category, it will be to assigned to the default category. Select the appropriate category from the category box on the right. You can select more than one category too. Click on “add new category” button to create a new category. While creating a new category, a pre-existing category can be assigned as a parent category. For example, the category “Adsense” may come under the parent category “Monetization”.
You can also assign tags to your post. Go to the tags box on the right and put it in the relevant tags separated by comma.
Below the text editor is the excerpt box. This allows you to write custom made excerpts for your blog post. You may use this if you want to create your own summarization of the blog post. This is not very essential.
Below the excerpt box is the discussion box. Check the allow comments option. You should also leave the allow trackbacks and pingbacks option checked.
Before hitting he publish button, make sure you are publishing through the author account and not the admin account. In the “add new post” page, click on the screen options at the top and check the “author” option.
Now scroll down on your page. Below the discussions box, you will find the author box. Select the author account from the drop-down menu. Make sure you do not use the admin user as the author of any post.
Below it is the All in One SEO Pack box (if you have installed the plugin as per my recommendation) where you can do basic onpage SEO.
Add the title in the title box. This is the title that will appear in the search engine results page. As a general rule, make sure you put your keyword in your tile.
The description box below is meant for a short description of the page which may be shown on the search results page. Write a description that will persuade the users to click on your link and visit your blog.
In the keywords box below it, list the important keywords for your post. Separate the keywords by comma. Do not use the variants of the same keyword again and again. Keywords may help the search engines a little, in understanding what your post is about.
Leave the other options in the “All in One SEO Pack” box unchecked.
Once you have written the content, preview how the post looks like.
If you need a break, click on save draft. You can edit your post and later time.
Once you’re done with editing and are happy with the post, click on publish. That is it. These are the basic steps you need to know to create a post.
Once you have published a post, you can edit it any time.
Go to “Posts “button in the dashboard and click “All Posts”.
A list of already published posts will come up. Place your mouse button above the post you want to edit. A menu will appear below the name of the post.
Click on edit. Now you can edit your post as you like.
If you do not need to edit the content but other things like title, description, then you can also use the quick edit button.
Once you’re done editing in either case, you have to press the update button.
You can create and edit new pages in the same manner. Instead of the posts button, you will have to reach for the “pages button” and click “add new”. The rest of the process is same, except the fact that you do not need to add any category or tags.
So there it goes. Now you also know how to create and make your content appear on your blog. You have successfully completed THE WordPress GUIDE coursework.
Finally. We have reached the end of this comprehensive DIY guide on WordPress blogging. I hope it has been helpful for you. I am sure that by now, you are quite comfortable and familiar with the basics of WordPress blogging.
Am I right? (After all, you can always refer to this fabulous guide if you need any help)
So, now that you know everything you need to start a blog (and), it is your turn to take action.
GET STARTED. ALL THE BEST.
For any blogging related query, you can contact me through the Contact Me page. I would be happy to help.
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