Last Updated 27 February 2017
I strongly recommend that you use WordPress as the software platform for your blog or website. Over the past 10 years I’ve built more than 50 blogs and websites with WordPress. As a result, I have my process finely-tuned. Now it only takes me a few hours to install and setup a new WordPress blog. In the following guide, I’ll show you how you can do that too.
Oh, and that’s not just installing it… but configuring the settings and adding the most useful plugins for features such as search engine optimization, social media sharing and more.
If you follow this tutorial closely, you can install your first WordPress site in approximately 10 minutes.
And within a few more hours, you’ll have many important plugins installed and configured.
Please bookmark this page now. You might also like to download this information in PDF format.
WordPress is free but you’ll need a web hosting package which costs a few dollars per month, and your own domain which costs $10-20 per year. If you’re not willing to invest around $100 to $200 for a year of web hosting then you should seriously consider whether blogging is for you. Imagine if you were setting up an “offline” business such as a retail store. You’d have rents, insurance, fit out costs, salaries and more. This is the ONLY business I know where you can get all the essentials so inexpensively.
Full Disclaimer. This is not the only way to set up WordPress, but it’s the way I do it. Many of the plugins I use and recommend are free. Some of the optional plugins come at a cost. If you don’t want them, don’t install them. If you are doing this as a business you should be investing in appropriate software and tools. Assume that any links to paid tools are affiliate links, which means that I might receive a small commission if you purchase them.
Here’s what I cover below:
- An Introduction to WordPress
- Part 1 (15 minutes): Setting It Up: Arranging web hosting, domain registration, and installing WordPress.
- Part 2: (20 minutes): Adjust Some Important WordPress Settings
- Part 3: (20 minutes): Set Up Your Author Profile & Gravatar
- Part 4: (10 minutes): Changing Your WordPress Theme.
- Part 5: The Most Important Plugins You Should Install.
And soon, I will be adding these additional parts:
- Part 6: Connecting to Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics (still to be added).
- Part 7: Making it Fly: Changing Favicon, Lightbox Subscriber Forms, Push Notifications, Advanced Landing Pages, Custom Post Types & Views, Membership Sites.
An Introduction to WordPress
Why WordPress? As I mentioned above, I’ve been using WordPress for around 10 years now. I wrote my very first website in 1999 using raw HTML. Next, I used Microsoft’s FrontPage, then Joomla. When WordPress first came out, I hesitated, because in my opinion it was still inferior to the other tools. But within a very short space of time the developers improved it so much and added so much functionality that it quickly became the most popular website software. WordPress is renowned for its Simplicity, Functionality, and Flexibility. Here is an article I wrote on 12 Reasons to Use WordPress.
WordPress is available in two ways.
- WordPress.com (Free): At WordPress.com, you can quickly set up a blog using a very basic but functional (read “crippled” or “hamstrung”) version of WordPress. I do not recommend this, for the same reason I don’t recommend putting your main blog and content at Tumblr or Blogger or Medium. In most cases where you blog on someone else’s platform, they own your content or domain name (e.g. yoursite.wordpress.com). At the very least, you lose everything or are at their mercy if they suddenly close down. Remember Squidoo? It’s gone and all of the pages of content disappeared with it. Also, you may not be able to scale up with large amounts of traffic and it can be difficult to move your content later. It is better to start off right, with Option #2…
- Self-hosted WordPress software from WordPress.org (Free): this is the option to choose. You’ll need your own web hosting package, which will cost a few dollars per month, and your own domain name (I’ll show you how to get that free for the first year). You don’t even need to download the software from WordPress.org. This software is so popular that when you get your web hosting package it is already built in as an option, and only takes a few clicks from your Bluehost dashboard to install.
Now I’ll show you how to get your own web hosting package and domain, and install WordPress, in around 10 minutes.
Part 1: Get Your Hosting & Install WordPress (10 minutes)
In this section, you will learn how to purchase your web hosting package and domain from BlueHost and install WordPress.
Before You Begin
In preparation for setting up your WordPress blog, gather together the following:
- The name of your blog. Examples: “Gary McLaren, Author” or “Terri’s Gardening Tips”. Don’t worry, you can change it later.
- A domain name, which you either own already or you have checked is available. I recommend using a .com domain.
You can also check domain availability at NameCheap but don’t buy your first domain there because you’ll get your first domain free in the next step with your Bluehost package. (Later, if you set up a second site, NameCheap is a good place to register the second domain).
- Your email address, which you will use for notifications from your website, and also to register with WordPress.
- Your credit card to pay for web hosting.
Step 1: Go to Bluehost
Click here to go to Bluehost’s web site. You will see something like the following:
Next, select your plan. I do not recommend the basic plan, because it has some limits on space and storage and you can only host 1 website. Also, you can see that your first 1 domain is included free in all plans.
Depending upon the current plans and pricing you see, I recommend you choose either the “Plus” or “Prime” plans, and click on “Select”. You will see the following:
Enter your domain name in the appropriate box and click on “Next”. You will see the following:
Enter your account details, being very careful to type your email address correctly. Now it is time to confirm your package selection:
Bluehost offers a full refund for 30 days and a prorated refund after 30 days (at the time of writing this). So there is really no reason not to join the 3 year term, unless you’re on a very tight budget. If that is the case then choose 12 or 24 months, although you will pay a slightly monthly higher rate.
I recommend keeping Domain Privacy Protection turned on if you don’t want your email address to be made public. Otherwise you can un-check it, but that might result in spammers sending you unwanted emails.
I suggest un-checking the other 3 options as you probably won’t need them. There are other ways to handle backups and security, and you can still add these later if you change your mind.
Finally, enter your payment information and agree to Bluehost terms. Please note that Bluehost does not allow adult-related sites or sites which contain profanity, so if you plan to have a blog or website which contains those, you may want to consider another hosting company.
When you are ready, click on “Submit”.
That’s it! If your payment processed successfully you now have your own domain name, and hosting package.
You should now be able to log in to your dashboard at Bluehost and install the WordPress software on your site.
If you get prompted at any stage to “Pay a Pro” to install WordPress for you, skip that option.
It’s easy to do it yourself and here are the easy steps. This will take less than 5 minutes.
In your Dashboard, scroll down until you see the “Website” section.
Skip the “Install WordPress” button and instead click on “One-Click Installs”. This goes through a slightly easier wizard. You will see the following welcome screen:
Click on WordPress. You will then see the “Do It Yourself” screen:
Click on “Install”. You will see the following:
Check that your domain name is selected from the drop down menu. Some people choose to install WordPress in a sub-directory. This is not recommended by me in case you know what you are doing and you have a good reason for doing so. Otherwise don’t enter anything in the directory box. Ignore the grey-colored “directory” placeholder word that’s already in the box. It won’t affect your installation.
Un-check the options to install Optin Monster and Form Builder by Constant Contact.
Click on “Check Domain”. You will now see a progress bar showing the progress until you see the following:
Click on the box to “Show advanced options. You will see the following options appear:
Enter the following details:
- The name of your site.
- An admin username. It is best to make up something original.
- An admin password. The password they suggest for you should be a good one. If you make up your own password, you should use a combination of numerals, letters (upper and lower case), and special characters (such as @ and %).
- Check the boxes for “automatically create a new database” and “I have read the terms… “.
Next, click on “Install Now”. You will see a progress bar climbing until the following appears:
At this stage, the installation of WordPress is already complete. If you see the “Installation Complete” message but the progress bar is only showing something like 65%, don’t worry. You can ignore the messages to buy a WordPress Theme. You don’t need to do that here. Instead, click on the link to view your WordPress credentials. You should now see something like this:
Your credentials are the login details that you will use to log in to your WordPress blog as administrator. Write down your login details carefully. Be careful as the password contains numerals as well as upper and lower case letters. A ‘0’ may look like an ‘O’ but it’s different. It’s a good idea to “copy and paste” these details into another file for saving.
After you have taken note of your details, click on the URL which ends in “/wp-admin”. You should now see the following login screen. If you don’t see it, or there is an error message, try reloading the page:
Now log in using your username and password. You will see the following screen:
Click on “I don’t need help” to skip the wizard. You will now see the WordPress Dashboard:
This is the “back end” of your new website, where you can control how the site looks and functions. You will notice a message near the top that your site is currently displaying a “Coming Soon” page. Click on the link in “Once you are ready to launch your site click here”. You will see the following:
Click on the link to view your site. Have a quick look at it and then go back to the dashboard by clicking on the name of your site in the top menu, as shown in the following screenshot:
So your website is installed and live. But you don’t have any content yet. You’ll have plenty of time to add that later, but for now, let’s just quickly create a new post.
In the menu on the left of the Dashboard, go to Posts → Add New. The editing window will now open like this:
This is a visual “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) editor.
Type a title for your post, then add a few words of content in the large box under the word Paragraph. You can format it with bold, italics, bullet lists and more. Try making your words bold now by highlighting the words and clicking on the ‘B’.
If you click on the “Text” tab, you will be able to see the HTML code for the page.
You can switch back and forth between the Visual and Text tabs whenever you want.
Now click on Publish.
Later, you will want to create some categories for your posts and add your posts to the most appropriate category.
What Are Posts and Pages?
You will use this editor to create both your posts and your pages. What’s the difference between posts and pages? Here’s the answer from WordPress support:
“Posts are entries listed in reverse chronological order on the blog home page or on the posts page if you have set one in Settings → Reading. If you have created any sticky posts, those will appear before the other posts. Posts can be found in the Archives, Categories, Recent Posts, and other widgets. Posts are also displayed in the RSS feed of the blog. You can control how many posts are displayed at a time in the Reading Settings.”
“Pages are static and are not listed by date. Pages do not use tags or categories. An About page is the classic example.”
In other words, as a WordPress blogger, it makes sense to publish many of your updates as posts. However, if the information is core content, especially evergreen content which you want your audience to come back to again and again, then you should consider publishing it as a page instead of a post.
Important: This is not a full WordPress tutorial. It is a guide to installing and setting up WordPress quickly. For some very good, comprehensive tutorials on using WordPress, I recommend WP101.
Part 2: Adjust Your WordPress Settings
Now we will take about 15 minutes to adjust some of the important WordPress settings.
In the menu on the left of the Dashboard, go to Settings → General.
- Check that your site title is correct, e.g.
- Give your site a tagline, e.g.
- Check your email address for sending admin messages to people is correct.
- Adjust your timezone. When you publish a post, do you want it to have your local time on it, or the time in another timezone, such as Eastern Standard Time in United States?
In the menu on the left of the Dashboard, go to Settings → Writing.
Scroll down until you see Update Services, then copy and paste the following recommended ping services. Each one should be on a separate line.
At the bottom of the page, click on Save Changes.
Before we adjust the reading settings, we will delete some of the sample content which was installed with WordPress.
Go to Posts → All Posts.
Select the check box next to the sample “Hello World” post and then click on”Trash”.
Now go in the main menu to Pages → All Pages and delete the page “Sample Page” by sending it to trash.
Now we will create two new pages.
Go to Pages → Add New.
In the box with “Enter title here”, enter the word “Blog”.
That’s it! This is a special page you will use to display blog posts, so in this special case you should not enter anything into the main content area.
Click on “Publish”.
Now for the second page. Go to Pages → Add New.
In the box with “Enter title here”, enter the word “Home”.
In the main content area, type “This is my Home Page”.
Click on “Publish”.
Now, in the menu on the left of the Dashboard, go to Settings → Reading.
Right at the top of this page you need to decide whether the Front Page (that’s the page that appears when someone types www.yourdomain.com into their browser) should display your latest posts or a static page.
If you choose a static page, then set the Front Page to “Home” and the Posts Page to “Blog”.
At the bottom of the page, click on Save Changes.
Go to Settings → Media.
Scroll down to Uploading Files.
Un-check the box for “Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders”.
At the bottom of the page, click on Save Changes.
Go to Settings → Permalinks
Under common Links, click on the option for “Post name”.
At the bottom of the page, click on Save Changes.
Part 3: Set Up Your Author Profile & Gravatar
Go to Users → Your Profile. Scroll down to the “Name” section.
Enter your First and Last Names.
Enter a Nickname. The nickname exists to give you an option to set the display name (in the next step) to something other than your username or real name.
Choose how you would like your name displayed. There are several options based on your actual name, username, or nickname.
Next, scroll down to the “About Yourself” section.
Enter a brief bio for yourself under “Biographical Info”. There are a number of ways for this to be displayed under posts, using certain themes, plugins, or code. We will take care of this under plugins.
At the bottom of the page, click on Update Profile.
Connect to Gravatar (20 minutes)
Set up your profile image at Gravatar. It’s not essential, but well worth it. Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. Gravatars are now integrated into WordPress. If you update the Gravatar image later, it will be updated everywhere!
To set up yours, click on the link provided under Users → Your Profile → About Yourself → Profile Picture
Click on “Create Your Own Gravatar”
Click on “I already have a WordPress.com account!”
On the Manage Gravatars page, click on “Add one by clicking here!”
On the Upload Image page, click on the “Upload new” button.
On the Upload New Image, click on “Choose file” to navigate and select your profile image. After selecting your image, click the Next button.
You will now have a chance to crop your image, then save it!
That’s it!. Your Gravatar image should now appear beside any comments you make on your own blog and other blogs.
Part 4: How to Change Your WordPress Theme
Now let’s choose a different design of your WordPress site.
Go to Appearance → Themes. Near the top of the page, click on “Add New”.
Part 5: The Most Important Plugins You Should Install
Install Jetpack from WordPress
In the menu on the left of the Dashboard, click on Jetpack. Jetpack is a powerful set of services from the people at WordPress.com. You will see the following:
If you have don’t yet have a WordPress.com account, click to create one for free, before continuing.
If you do have an existing account, click on “Connect Jetpack”. You will see the following:
Click on the button “Select Free”.
Jetpack’s recommended features include:
- Sharing: Twitter, Facebook and Google+ buttons at the bottom of your posts so that visitors can easily share your content.
- Subscriptions: your visitors can subscribe to your blog while commenting, or via a separate email subscription widget.
- Gravatar Hovercards: so commenters can link to their Gravatar accounts and profiles.
- Contact Form: allows you to build simple forms for visitors to communicate with you.
- Carousel: brings your photos and images to life as full-size, easily navigable galleries.
- Photon: serves your images from Jetpack’s image CDN, which speeds up your site.
- Related Posts: highlight relevant content at the bottom of each post.
- Single Sign On: enables you to log in to all of your Jetpack-enabled websites with one click using your WordPress account.
- SEO Tools: for improved results on search engines and social media.
To jumpstart your site, click on “Activate Recommended Features”. You can always turn these off and add others later. A Jetpack dashboard with Site Stats will appear once it’s finished.
Install Akismet for Antispam
Akismet is a powerful tool for preventing spam comments on your blog. The free, basic plan is for personal, non-commercial usage. If your blog is commercial, you need to upgrade to the Plus plan at $5 per month.
Alternatively, you can use another product, Antispam Bee, instead of Akismet. It’s entirely free. Further down this page, you’ll learn to install plugins, so if you want to use Antispam Bee, make a note somewhere and do it with the other plugins later.
For those who want to install Akismet now, go to the menu on the left of your website’s Dashboard, hover your cursor over Jetpack until a menu appears, then click on Akismet.
You can probably connect via Jetpack, but if not you may be prompted to get an API Key. Click on “Use this account” or “Get an API Key”. The following will appear when you are done. I have blanked out my API key for privacy.
You should be able to leave the options as shown above. That’s it, Akismet is now reducing comment spam for your site.
Install Simple Author Box Plugin
Remember we wanted to make your author profile automatically appear under each of your blog posts. Here is a plugin to do that.
Go to Plugins → Add New.
In the search box, search for “Simple Author Box.” You should see this in the results:
Click on Install.
When it finishes installing, click on Activate.
Next go to Users → Your Profile. Scroll down to the Contact Info section.
You will see that there are some new fields added now where you can enter your social media accounts, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Enter your account details, then click on Update Profile at the bottom of the page.
If you view any of your posts now (you probably only have one so far), your author profile, which you created earlier in this tutorial, will be in an author box underneath the post.
To change the appearance of the author box, go to Plugins → Installed Plugins. Locate Simple Author Box and click on Settings.
That’s It! You’re Done!
Well, at least you now have WordPress installed and set up on your hosting service and a few of the most important plugins installed. From here, it’s up to you to publish great content and add additional plugins that will make your blog your very own.
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