Blogging 101 – How to Setup an Amazing WordPress Blog in Just a Couple of Hours
In these step-by-step instructions and video tutorials, you’ll learn how to setup a WordPress blog in just a couple of hours – from buying a domain name (URL), setting up a hosting server, email forwards, WordPress installation and configuration, installing important plugins, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and a few additional tutorials on how to be an amazing blogger.
Before we begin, here are two clips that will help you understand why you might want to set up your own blog:
Ready to start?
1. Purchasing a domain name + hosting service:
Domain name is simply the URL you’ll be using (like YAHOO.com or CNN.com). When you buy a domain name you’re really buying the rights to use that name for a limited time. Hosting, on the other hand, means a physical space on someone’s hard-drive (server) where your blog’s/website’s files will be stored. To have a website or a blog you’ll need both. When visitors type your domain URL into their browser, they will be redirected to the files stored on your hosting service. You can purchase the domain name separately from the hosting but it’s not recommended since most hosting services (like Bluehost, 1&1, etc) will give you 1, 2 or 3 free domains with your hosting service (GoDaddy, for example, do no give free domain with their hosting so you’ll have to pay for both if you want a domain as well).
My personal choice for hosting/domain provider is either Bluehost or 1&1. I’m sure you’ve heard of GoDaddy but I find Bluehost to have way better page-load–time, customer service, prices, features and overall experience. Bluehost is also the only hosting provider I found, that will give you your money back if you’re not satisfied (no questions asked) beyond the initial 30 days all the other provides do. 1&1 is the only hosting provider I found that offers month-by-month payment package (which can be a plus if you just need hosting/domain for a few month) but be aware that the month-by-month plan is way more expensive than any other plan with any other provider. Their customer support is ok once you manage to get a hold of them on the phone (which I found challenging at times). I’m not a big fan of GoDaddy even though they are probably the most well known provider. They are more expensive overall, you get less for your $$$ (no free domain with your paid hosting, for example), and their customer service is bad in my experience. Here’s a detailed comparison between the three:
Before choosing a domain name, think about YOU as a BRAND. What would you like people to know about you? How would you like others to perceive you? To identify your self-branding goals, you can use these tools:
USEFUL: Bluehost | Customer / Tech Support: 1 (888) 401-4678
IMPORTANT: You want the Linux hosting (default) and not the Windows hosting, even if you have a Windows operating system.
NOTE: The hosting packages shown in this video may have changed. Visit Bluehost for current packages & pricing.
2. Installing WordPress in a one-click-super-easy-let’s-do-it-go-go-go:
NOTE #1: In the following video, they recommend to choose the domain without the www (2:11m). My personal recommendation would be to actually choose the domain WITH the WWW.
NOTE #2: You can jump/start at 0:59m as the first 59 seconds are just bla bla bla…
USEFUL: If you need further assistance, call Bluehost’s Tech Support: 1-888-401-4678
3. Logging in to your WordPress blog for the first time:
Once you’re done with Bluehost’s one-click installation process, go ahead and visit your wordpress’ dashboard:
http://YourDomnainName.com/wp-admin (obviously replace YourDomainName.com with your own domain name).
Here’s a video about the WordPress Dashboard:
4. Configuring WordPress:
At this point, WordPress is installed on your domain. If you visit http://YourDomainName.com you should see your blog. It should looks something like this:
Now you’ll need to configure the basic settings for your blog. To do so, visit your admin page (also called Dashboard):
We’ll now change some basic settings for better performance, UI, overall look, SEO, and more. On the left menu of your WP Dashboard, click:
To add the ‘www‘ prefix to your URL (if you missed that part during the installation), go to SETTINGS / GENERAL / For both WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) add www
Under SETTINGS / GENERAL / Timezone – pick your city or timezone (hit Save Changes)
In this GENERAL settings page you can also pick/change your site’s title and tagline.
SETTINGS / WRITING / Update Services (copy/paste this instead of whatever is in the box- the first URL on the list is the one currently in the box):
(hit Save Changes)
SETTINGS / READING / I recommend changing both the “Blog pages show at most” and the “Syndication feeds show the most recent” from 10 to 15 or 20 (hit Save Changes).
SETTINGS / DISCUSSION / Comment Moderation
Click here and copy/paste this list of words into the Comment Moderation box.
(the list is originated from the GitHub Comment Blacklist for WordPress project)
SETTINGS / DISCUSSION / Before a comment appears / Uncheck the box: Comment author must have a previously approved comment (it’s a pain in the neck to moderate each comment and a good anti-spam plugin (which we’ll install later) will do the trick.
SETTINGS / PERMALINKS / Common Settings - Check ‘Custom Structure‘ and copy/paste this:
5. Installing & Activating Plugins:
On the left menu, under PLUGINS / click Installed Plugins. You’ll notice that the one-click WordPress installation already installed for you a few plugins. To be honest with you, aside from the Sidekick and Akismet plugins (comes with Bluehost installation), the rest of the plugins auto-installed are junk in my opinion so lets remove them by checking the box right next to all of them (except the Sidekick and Akismet), changing the Bulk Action box at the top to Deactivate and hit Apply. Then, check them again and change the Bulk Action box to Delete, hit Apply –> Delete these files and data.
There are million and a half plugins out there but it’s important not to install/activate too many, or your blog will become super slow. I’ve composed a list of (what I think are) the top 25 must-have plugins every wordpress blog should have. To install/activate all of them all at once, we will use a plugin called Multi Plugin Installer (otherwise, you will have to install/activate each of them manually).
PLUGINS / ADD NEW / use the search box in the top-right corner to find: Multi Plugin Installer, install it and then activate it. Once you do, a new item will appear toward the bottom of your Dashboard’s menu: Multi Plugin Installer. Click it, and in the big box, copy/paste the following list of plugins:
Hit the blue Install & Activate Plugins and refresh the page to see that all 25 plugins have been installed. You’ll noticed that some of the plugins add a white notification box at the top of your dashboard. You can safely hit hide on all of these boxes.
6. Plugin Setup & Optimization:
Some of the plugins you just installed require initial setup and/or configuration. In this section I will go over some of these initial plugin setup. With each of the plugins, I’ve included a link with more info in case you want to learn more about what they do.
On the left menu, under SETTINGS:
Bad Behavior Plugin
SETTINGS / Bad Behavior / Under Logging, change from Normal to Do not log HTTP requests (not recommended). Then scroll all the way to the bottom and hit Update.
(Bad Behavior is a great plugin to prevent/fight spamy comments on your blog but unfortunately the log file it creates never delete/clear itself and eventually bloat your WordPress database. Even though the author of the plugin recommends not to delete the log, I strongly recommend you do so). You can find more detailed info about this plugin here.
Revision Control Plugin
SETTINGS / Revisions / Change both Posts and Pages from Unlimited to either Do not store or to Maximum 2. You can find more detailed info about this plugin here.
TinyMCE Advanced Plugin
SETTINGS / TinyMCE Advanced / scroll all the way to the bottom, click Import Settings, copy/paste the following code into the big box and hit the blue Import. You can find more detailed info about this plugin here.
WP-Optimize (not under SETTINGS, below it) / click the plugin’s SETTINGS tab (not the SETTINGS on the main WordPress’ menu, but at the top of the page after you clicked the WP-Optimize). Under the Auto Clean-up Settings, check the Enable scheduled clean-up and optimization. Also check Remove unapproved comments (in addition to everything else that’s checked) and hit the blue SAVE AUTO CLEAN-UP SETTINGS. You can find more detailed info about this plugin here.
cbnet Favicon Plugin (SETTINGS / Favicon)
cbnet Favicon adds a cool favicon to your blog. Favicon (short for favorite icon), also known as a website’s icon or bookmark icon is a 16×16, 32×32 or 64×64 pixel square icon associated with a particular website or webpage. You can find more detailed info about this plugin here.
Here are some favicons inspiration:
7. Installing a theme for your blog
Before you install a new theme on your WordPress blog, a few things to consider:
- Find a theme that you like – consider the overall look, the number of columns, the size of different elements on the page (logo, images, widgets, etc).
- More important than finding a theme you like, is finding a theme that supports your branding statement. Is the theme helping you brand yourself / your business the way you want it to? What does it communicate about you/your brand visually? Is it too busy? Does it look professional?
To install a theme, on the left menu of your WP Dashboard, under Appearance, click Themes. On the top bar, click Add New and browse for the right theme using the Search, Featured, Newest, etc tabs.
A better alternative to WordPress’ built-in theme catalog (in my opinion) is to search for a more recent, SEO optimized, beautifully designed theme on the web.
Here’s the google search I use.
8. Howto Blog:
Understand Blogs – Blogs in Plain English:
Understand Categories and Tags:
Understand the difference between post, page, category and Tags:
Adding/writing a new post:
Adding/writing a new page (vs. post):
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