How to start a WordPress blog in 2019 (Step by Step)

Are you finally to start the blog you’ve been thinking about for years? Well great! In this post, I’ll walk you through how to start a WordPress blog in 2019 and how to get up and running quickly.

I’ll take you through the step by step process of getting your blog up and running so you can get started.

First, we’ll talk about getting hosting, then we’ll talk about the domain name and what you want to call your blog.

Next, we’ll install WordPress and then we’ll choose the theme for your blog.

We’ll set up the different pages that your blog needs and then we’ll add plugins to extend the functionality of your website. Make it do the things that you want it to do.

Finally, we’ll write our first blog post and then you’re ready to go.

Hosting with Bluehost

To start a WordPress blog, you need hosting. And you need a good hosting provider.

So first, let’s talk a little bit about hosting. When you’re building a site it’s very similar to what’s happening when you build a house.

You have the land that you need to use to put the house on, that’s the same the hosting provider.

The hosting provider has the servers that all of your files and folders will go on.

Next, you have an address and that’s so people know where to find you and the address is your domain name or your web address.

You want to start building your website and your website is your home. That’s what houses all of your files, all of your images, the color structure, the way that it looks, the functionality of it via the plugins.

Finally, you have your mailbox which is your email address and that’s how people can contact you and all of these come together to make up your whole website on the web.

Now, I recommend using BlueHost as your hosting provider. They have great customer support, they are one of the oldest, most established hosting companies out there, they’re officially recommended by the WordPress.org organization, and you can get 50-60% off and a free domain by using my discount code.

From that page, just click on the big green get started button and it’ll take you to the select your plan page.

Bluehost choosing a plan

You can choose your plan here, the biggest difference between basic and plus is with basic, it’s very basic and you’re only allowed one website. Whereas with plus, if you have web addresses or multiple websites that you want to set up then this might be the best one for you.

The recommended choice plus is also good because you get domain privacy and backup, so you don’t lose your blog’s content if something happens, but the price is higher at renewal that Plus.

After you’ve chosen which setup you want, go ahead and sign up with a new domain name that you want since it comes free and click next.

Bluehost account setup

From here you want to go ahead and create your account by filling in all of the account information and then down at package information, you want to verify the package you chose.

I would say you don’t need domain privacy, we normally just turn that off.

Things like the backup site and sitelocker, there are a lot of great plugins and features available within WordPress, so you don’t need that either.

Once you fill out all the information you see the amount that’s being discounted.

Now just fill in your payment information and you’ll have your hosting account set up.

Now that we’ve signed up, we’ll get a congratulations message screen and we’ll just need to click on the next screen where we can create our password.

This password will be used to manage our hosting account. Once you create the password, they will start setting up the account for you.

Install WordPress with BlueHost

BlueHost pick a theme

One of the great things about BlueHost is now they’ve made installing WordPress even easier. From here you can select a theme that you might like to go with your site. Since I’ll be walking you through the whole process, let us go ahead and skip this step.

And now they automatically set up WordPress for you, you no longer have to go into your BlueHost account and install WordPress and go through that process.

Once we get everything set up, you can click start building and we’ll be taken to WordPress dashboard where we can start customizing it.

WordPress dashboard

Now that WordPress is installed, this the dashboard is the backend website where you could go in, make changes to it.

Yours might look just a little bit different but this is the overall feel of it.

Most of the things that we’ll work on are from the tabs of the left.

Let’s take a look at some of the main areas of our website.

The posts area, that’s where you’ll be using a lot of your time, you’ll be spending a lot of your time writing your blog posts for your site and this is where you’ll go to do that.

The media area is where you upload your images and your photos that will be housed on your site.

Pages are very similar to posts, pages are the things that don’t need a date timestamp on them and its for things like your about page, maybe a contact us page.

Comments, if you start to get a lot of comments, this is where you can go to approve or edit those.

The Appearance is where we can go to set our theme for our site or what the site looks like, and then the plugins are where we go to add the different bits of functionality that we want our site to do.

For instance, if you wanted to add an e-commerce shop on here we would go into the plugins area and add a plugin that would allow us to sell on our site.

And then if you wanted more users you could go to the users area to set up new users.

Tools are for importing and exporting things and as you add more plugins you may see this expand a little bit more depending on the plugin.

Finally, we have some settings. We’re going to go into a couple of settings right now. This is where just all of the general backend stuff is. But, the one thing we want to do is we want to change our permalinks.

The permalinks are describing your URL for your website. Some blogs prefer to have their URL structured up by the year, by the month, by the day and under permalinks is where this is changed or updated.

You’ll want to set this in the beginning and you’ll want to stick with this throughout and that’s simply because once you’ve set this up, you don’t want to keep changing the permalink structure so you really want to get that from the get-go.

Here are some other examples of what you could use and if you are doing like a true blog where it’s very important to you to showcase the time and date then you can keep that.

I will say that even for any blog posts that I do, my favorite will always be just doing the title of the post as my URL structure behind my domain name. It’s simple, it’s easy for readers to possibly remember because it’s shorter, and its also better for search engines.

So for me, I prefer that, but I also like category/postname. But, once you figure out which one you want, go ahead and set it now and then really try not to ever change it again.

So, once we’re done there, let’s click save changes and now that permalink structure will be on all of our posts. Let’s go ahead and change the look and feel of our site by picking a theme.

Theme

Now, that you’ve decided to start a WordPress blog, you need a theme.

WordPress installs with the latest theme that they have and for a new blog in 2019 this will be twenty nineteen theme.

You see its very nice big and bold typography. A lot of white space and it really drives the user to read the blog posts.

It might be a little bit plain for some people so let’s go in and look at some changes that we can do. To do that we’ll go to our Appearance and we’ll go to themes.

WordPress theme setup

Now right now for my site, these are all of the themes that are currently installed on my WordPress website and Twenty Nineteen is the active theme.

You can only have one theme active at any time but you can have multiple installed.

You can click on the add new and this will pull in all the available themes from the WordPress repository where they house all the themes.

If you want a premium theme you’ll simply go to the premium theme’s website and you would have to download the theme from there and then upload it separately.

For this, we’re simply going to use the repository and we’ll look for a theme that we want.

Now because this can take quite a while, what I would probably recommend you do is go ahead and go here to find several of the best free blog themes for the latest year. So do that for yourself.

Once you see one that you like. you can go back to the add a theme area and you can search for it.

For example, I know that for this tutorial I want to install Koji.

It’s just a very clean theme and I like the way that it looks. So I’m going to install this.

Once it’s installed you’ll also want to make sure that you go ahead and activate it and then once we activate it, it will become our default theme.

Now you can go to the frontend of your site and it should look different.

Customize your website

To customize we’ll go back to the dashboard. Go under Appearance -> customize and from here we can customize the look and feel of the theme for our site.

WordPress Customizer

Now, yours might look a little bit different because all of these customizations are driven by the theme file. So don’t worry if you don’t see what I see.

Lets quickly go through a couple of these.

WordPress change site identity

In the site identity tab, there is some important information to change. The default value here is “just another blog”, so change that to what you want.

You can setup the logo and favicon(the little logo in the browser tab) for the site here aswell.

For your site icon/favicon you want to make sure that it is a square at least 512 by 512 for this to work the best.

Now go ahead and customize what you would like to change. It could be the colors, header and so on.

Now the beauty about the customization is everything that we’re doing, we’re seeing a preview on the right side, but nothing has officially changed until we hit publish.

So when you’re happy with our changes, you can click publish to update your site.

Great, now that we have our theme set up, let’s go ahead and set up a few pages.

Pages

When we set up a few pages then we’ll be able to create a menu structure and that will make it easy for people to find things on our site.

Go to pages from the left sidebar. By default, you’ll have a couple of pages here.

Click the add new button to proceed to create the WordPress page.

Then you want to give the page a title. Lets say the page is an about page, we could title it about.

Most websites have an about page, maybe a blog page and a contact page so we’ll do a couple of those.

You’ll want to write out your about page under the title, give them some introductory about you and then click publish, to make the page publicly available.

If you instead press save draft, you can come back to the page and finish it later on.

Now go ahead and create a blog page and contact page. We will set them up in a bit

So we created three new pages and now we can go and create a menu structure for our site.

Menu structure

To do that let’s go over to appearance, go down to menus, and click “create a new menu”.

We want this to be our main menu so select “Primary menu”.

Now, add page items, you can in the left side select the pages you just created or the ones you want in the menu.

You can also go ahead and change the name of the menu item and rearrange the order of the pages.

You can even create a submenu by dragging on of the menu items under the other.

You could even do custom links, that just means if you wanted to add your social media profiles you could do that.

If there was a particular post that you really wanted to bring over to your menu, you could do that as well.

When you’re happy with your menu, you will want to click save menu. Once you save that, that will create the menu and be shown on the website.

This is theme related, but when you select the Primary menu, it will nearly always be shown in the header.

So that’s the menu.

Widgets

Now you also see, yours might not have this, but most blogs usually have a sidebar area. The sidebar is usually placed on either of the sides of the main content, for example, the post text.

This is called widgets.

Widgets are small pieces of code, that you don’t have to write yourself and they are placed in different areas on your website.

Under Appearance, Widgets is where you can find these widgets. You will see all the widgets the theme supports on the right side.

On the left side you can drag elements into the widgets on the right side. Then they will be displayed on your website

Let’s start looking at plugins and we’ll do a brief overview of that.

Plugins

So plugins are basically like these little apps that you can add to your website that will make your site do whatever you want it to do.

For instance, you could do a contact form, you can integrate popups, you can create a forum, you can do e-commerce. There’s almost nothing you can’t do with a plugin.

So under “Plugins” in the left sidebar, if you click the tab, you can see your plugins.

By default, there are a few that are automatically installed. These are not activated but they are installed and you can choose whether or not you want to use them.

WordPress Plugin Area

To add a new one you simply click add new and it’s very similar to the themes section. Then you’ll be taken to the plugins repository.

That’s where WordPress has verified plugins to make sure that these plugins do, what they say, they do and that there’s nothing malicious added to them.

Your best bet is to know what you want your site to do and know what type of plugin you’re looking for in order to install that.

So I’m just going to show you the process of installing one and searching for it. For SEO purposes I always recommend Yoast SEO plugin.

It simply helps you keep SEO under control, that the search engine optimization that you want to do for your site to make sure that search engines like Google or Bing or Yahoo can find your site.

So to install Yoast SEO, click add new plugin and then search Yoast SEO.

Just like with the theme, once you install it you’ll want to make sure that you activate it as well.

With each plugin that you activate, they may show a different area as you see with Yoast SEO, now we have an area for Yoast SEO in the left sidebar.

Now that was just to show you how to install one.

Email and contact form

Let me show you how to work with one because we want to create a contact form. The WPForms lite was automatically installed with your WordPress site and that was by BlueHost.

WPForms lite is for contact forms.

But I’ll show you how to work with Optin Forms, also known as GetResponse Forms by Optin Cat.

This plugin is for email forms – to grow your subscriber list.

Note: This plugin is for GetResponse email autoresponder. You can get a free 14-day trial here!

In my opinion, when you’re starting a WordPress blog in 2019, you need to build an email list, to get traffic when you’ve published a new post. GetResponse is one of the best in the business for this.

Click here to learn how to earn money with WordPress and GetResponse!

Show go ahead and add and activate the plugin.

Great, now we can create our first form, so click Optins forms in the left sidebar and then add new.

You can now select the type. This one is going to be a post boxes, since we want to add this to our posts later on.

Now, you’ll have to select a design for your sign up form.

Optin Forms for GetResponse with Optin Cat

Name the form and edit the form on the right side. Here you can hide and show fields. Change colors, text and so on.

We will add this to your post a little later.

So there’s a lot that you can do with plugins.

Again, it really just depends on what you’re wanting your site to do. But there is probably a plugin either free or paid that you can use to make your site do what it is that you want.

That’s the power of the plugins with WordPress.

Okay, now that we’ve got our theme set up, we’ve added some plugins to make our site do what we want. We’ve changed our widget area a little bit.

Creating posts

Now you really want to concentrate on the bulk of what you’re probably going to do with your blog and that to create posts.

So let’s go in and, and kind of take an overview look of how to handle that.

Let’s go to our posts from the left sidebar, I’ll show you everything about it.

By default, you’ll get a hello world post and that is the first one that you can do. But this is the power of what you’re doing for your site.

You’re setting up a blog so you want to set up the posts and start writing. So let’s go in and we’ll just set up a quick blog post and I’ll show you what you’ll be doing.

The title is the URL structure that we talked about. so you’ll want to make sure that whatever title you are a very descriptive thing for search engines as well as for users and

Then you can just start typing. When you’re typing you can move your mouse and change the text above the text.

You can choose if you want it bold, how it should be aligned and if you want to create a list (For this click the first icon).

So you can start typing stuff in like I’m doing right now, I’m just sitting here and writing this text.

So if I wanted to add an image to break up some of this content, I would click the + icon(add block) when you have got an empty text section and then select the image block.

I would then upload my image or bring it in from a URL. If I choose to upload an image I would click upload and select the image I would like to upload.

It can be found under the Media area.

When you’re working with images you also want to make sure that you add alternative text for the image.

When you are working on the image block on the right side, you can write an alternative text for the image, also own as alt text.

This lets search engines know what the image is about but more importantly it’s for accessibility. It lets people who are using a browser reader tell them what the site is about.

You definitely want to make sure that you always add alternative text and that helps both people who can’t see who are on your site and also help search engines know as well.

You can also add video so we’ll do a new line again. I’m going to hit enter and I’ll get a new line and we can find add block and I’ll type in video, to find the video block.

So you can either upload, I highly recommend any time you add video to go ahead and add it to something like YouTube, Wistia, something like that and then insert a link in the video block.

Click Apply and then it will embed that video. So it makes it look really, really good.

Adding the email form:

We created a email form earlier. We want to hit enter again and click the + icon to add a block. Search for optin cat form and then select the form you created.

So once we’re done with that post, we can click publish. So let’s really quickly go through all the things that you’ve done today.

First, we got hosting, we set up a domain name, then we installed WordPress, we got a theme for our site, we set up the different pages including the contact form for our contact page, we added plugins, and we wrote our first blog post.

Lastly, when you’re starting a WordPress blog in 2019, you need know content writing AND SEO to get traffic. Click here to read my checklist.

So now all you have to do is keep going, keep at it, and congratulations, thanks for reading.

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