Blogging is an easy way to share your ideas and knowledge with others as well as a great way to make some passive income. If you’re considering starting a blog, you’ll need a domain name, hosting service, WordPress software, some useful plugins and a theme. This article will guide you through the entire process of setting up your blog within minutes.
Sign up on WordPress
WordPress is the most popular publishing platform on the internet. It’s used by a whopping 47% of the online population, and it has been consistently growing since its launch in 2003. The platform makes it easy for users to publish content, design their website or blog, and even promote their site with little technical knowledge required.
They generally have a discounted price on their plans whenever you check. At the time of writing this blog, they are offering a 70% discount on their 1 year plans.
What You Get is –
- 1 Website
- 10 GB SSD Storage
- Custom Themes
- Chat Support
- FREE Domain for the first year
- FREE CDN
- FREE SSL for the first year
All of the above for a total cost of $35.40 per annum.
NOTE – You will have the option to find and select a domain name while purchasing the plan.
Setting up WordPress
You are one step closer to creating your first WordPress blogging website. Now we will make a few changes to optimize your website.
On the left hand side you should be able to see Settings. Hover your mouse over Settings and select General.
Inside the “General Tab” you should be able to this screen below.
- Site Title – This will be the name of your website.
- Tag Line (optional) – A very short brief of your website. Please generally use their vision or mission statements.
- WordPress Address (URL) – This will be auto populated. No changes required here.
- Site Address (URL) – This is how your website can be accessed. It will have http://yourwebsitename.com. The only change required here is to change the http:// to https://
- Administration Email – No change required
- Membership – You can check the box if you want others to register to your website.
- New User Default Role – Leave it as Subscriber
- Site Language – Leave as English (USA) or change to English (UK) depending on your location.
Finally, select your time zone, date and time formats and hit save. Change nothing else here.
Your homepage displays – Select a blog post (considering that you are creating a blogging site). Let everything else be just the way it is. No changes required. In case the Search Engine Visibility box is checked, then uncheck it.
Discouraging search engines from indexing your website means that you content won’t be visible. Since we want our content to be visible we uncheck the box to ensure crawlers can discover and index our website.
GeneratePress – WordPress Theme
GeneratePress is a minimalistic WordPress them that is widely used by bloggers. The theme offers great features and takes up less space (loads faster as compared to other FREE themes). You should be able to see Appearance on the left. Hover over appearance and select “Themes”, then click Add Theme.
You will see a search tab on the right hand side. Type in Generate Press and click on Install, then activate.
After the theme has been activated, click “Customize”
You should be able to see the site name which you set up earlier. In my case, it is Dhiren Mulani as you can see in the image.
Here you can customize your website towards your liking.
- Site Identity – You can change your site name and tag line.
- Layout – Change the way your website looks, add/remove side bar, change header width, footer width, primary navigation etc.
- Colors – Self explanatory, choose the colors for your website.
- Typography – Choose the font and font size of your website.
- General – Select Icon Type and option to always underline links.
- Menu – Create a main menu and set up it’s location.
- Widgets – Decide what widgets you would like to display on your sidebar, header or footer.
- Homepage Settings – Display blog posts or static page.
Come out of the customization tab back to your WordPress dashboard and hover your mouse over “Appearance” and select “Menus”
Under the Menu section you need to name your menu and add content to the same. You can set this up later since at this point you won’t have much to add to the menu.
This is a screenshot of my menu and as you can see I have added my “tags” under the “category” which is a part of my main menu. I have asked you to set this up later as at this point your website is empty.
Let’s create a few pages to add to the menu.
About Us – The about us page is simply your mission and vision for the website. You can talk about who you are, why did you decide to start this blogging website, who are you planning to help with your content etc. You can go to almost any website to get an idea of what to write in the about us page.
Contact Us – I don’t think any explanation is required here. The contact us page is to help others get in touch with you via email or phone. In case you have a local business you may want to add the address or a map.
To create a page you need to go back to your WordPress dashboard and click on Pages > Add New
For example, the title will be About or About Us and below that enter the text about you. Once you are done click on “Publish”. If you need more time to add more content about your website on that page you can select “Save Draft” as you can see on the top right of your screen.
Repeat the steps for all the pages you like to set up.
Once you have created these pages go back to Menu and create one.
Step #1 – Give a name to your menu. (Only you can see the menu name, it’s not visible to others)
Step #2 – Add the pages from your most recent tab that you can see of the left.
NOTE – As you can see in the screenshot above, all of my tags are appearing one below the other however my category is slightly more to the left.
This is because I have created a dropdown option for my website menu. As you can see only Digital Marketing appears on the menu and the rest appear when you hover over.
At this point you only have 3 or 4 pages so ensure they are all aligned on under the other in a straight line. When you have added more content and want to create a submenu (dropdown) all you need to do is click and drag the tiles towards the right and WordPress will add it as a submenu.
Let’s move on to plugins
Here are a few essential plugins that you will need to optimize your website. These are mostly free or freemium plugins that you can install and supercharge your website.
To install any new plugin you need to find the plugin tab from the left and select Add New
Google Site Kit
Google site kit will integrate your Search Console, Analytics, Adsense and Page Speed Insights into a single screen. All you need to do is create your account(s) on the respective platforms and you are done. The site kit plugin will guide you with the steps required to create and connect the accounts.
It also places adsense code into your website for you. This means when you apply and get accepted into google adsense you don’t have to put the ad codes to your website. This plugin will take care of that for you.
Easy Table of Contents
Again, free to use plugin which automatically creates a table of contents based on your hierarchy (H1 – H6 Tags). Even in this blog post that you are reading, the TOC that you saw at the start was autogenerated.
NitroPack is a freemium plugin that supercharges your website ensuring your website loads the fastest. This is important especially for mobile rankings. If you have a slow website, you may never be able to rank in the Top 10 for any keyword, regardless how valuable your content is.
This plugin will guide you how to install and activate the plugin with your WordPress. With the click of a few buttons your website score (Page Speed Insights) will increase.
A freemium plugin that helps you optimize your content for SEO. If you don’t have a clue of what SEO is, then this plugin will help guide you create SEO optimized content which ranks. After all, what’s the point of writing blogs upon blogs when there is no one to read it.
It will also assist you in generating a sitemap and robots.txt.
Sitemap – This is for search engines to quickly discover content on your website. Yoast will create one for you and also guide you how to submit this on Google Search Console.
Robots.txt – This is for either allowing or restricting access to certain pages (content) on your website. Generally, sensitive information such as emails, user ID and passwords. Robots.txt prevents the crawlers accessing and indexing those pages.
GTranslate is a freemium plugin that gives the reader/visitor the option to view your content in a different language. You will never have control on who visits your website so it is important that you leave a few popular language options open in case your audience is more comfortable with another language that is not English.
Above are all the plugins I use with GeneratePress for the website that you are currently on. The 5 plugins mentioned above are all that you need to get stared with your website.
Incase you are wondering, Pretty Links is a plugin used to track affiliate links and TablePress is used to import excel data into WordPress. If you plan on using affiliate links or import excel data into your website you can download and use these plugins, they are FREE.
Permalinks are basically the URLs of your website. I have written a blog on which permalink structure you should use (the most SEO friendly) in this article here.
Just make sure you choose the correct permalink structure for your website and stick to it!
It’s not like you can’t change it later but it’s a hassle. Literally all the internal links on your website would break and you will have to get into the hassle of using a 301 re-direct for all the internal and external links. It’s not worth it! Take your time and choose the right permalink structure for you and stick to it.
You Are All Set!
With this let’s conclude this blog post. You now have a website which is properly set up and superfast. All essential plugins have been installed and activated. The only thing missing is content, so go ahead and start writing to your hearts content.
On the left hand side of your dashboard you must have already seen a tab that says “Posts”, just click on Posts > Add New.
PS – Here you can read more on how to write SEO optimized content