Starting a Blog with WordPress: Everything You Need to Know - Rank Right Now

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Starting a Blog with WordPress: Everything You Need to Know

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I'm Michael Peggs

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A blog isn’t merely a platform through which you can share your thoughts and feelings. It may also serve as a very powerful marketing tool. By consistently posting valuable content, businesses can establish themselves as industry authorities, define their brand identities, and cultivate relationships with followers.

This isn’t just speculation. Major brands such as Marriott have successfully used blogs in this capacity, proving that sometimes the simplest content marketing channels are among the most valuable.

Of course, to leverage a blog to your benefit, you first need to understand how to start one. This guide will walk you through the various steps in the process, introducing you to your options as you begin experimenting with blogging.

Why You Should Start a Blog with WordPress

There are many different platforms and Content Management System (CMS) options to choose from when starting a blog. However, this guide will focus on WordPress. The following are key reasons why we recommend WordPress.org:

Ease-of-Use

WordPress is an ideal blogging platform for several reasons. First, the interface is very similar to that of popular word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs, making it very easy to use, even if you’re a beginner.

This is also worth remembering if you plan on hiring bloggers to create and post content. Because WordPress is both popular and easy to use, odds are good they won’t need much (if any) additional training . That may not be the case if you rely on a CMS or blogging platform that’s less intuitive and more technical.

Plugins

You’re more likely to attract readers to your blog if your entries are SEO-friendly. Luckily, WordPress allows users to install plugins that expand its features and capabilities. Many of these plugins perform SEO analysis on pieces of content. This makes it much easier to develop an effective content strategy. Browse your options to find a WordPress SEO plugin that’s right for your needs. We recommend Yoast.

Themes

WordPress users can select from a very wide variety of templates (or “Themes”) when deciding how to format their blogs. Many of these templates are responsive, meaning they’re designed to appear well-organized on both desktop computers and mobile devices. That’s particularly important now that people browse the Internet via mobile devices more often than via computers.

Being able to select from a variety of Themes also makes it easier for you to maintain a consistent visual brand. That’s essential. WordPress also makes it easy to switch from one Theme to another, ensuring you don’t have to waste significant amounts of time reformatting your blog if you realize its appearance could be improved upon. Best part? Thousands of themes are free, saving you time and money since there’s no need to hire a designer.

Website Integration

Perhaps the (second) best reason to use WordPress for your blog is because it can integrate directly with your website. That’s key. Several other blogging platforms require you to create a blog that’s separate from your website, limiting your potential return-on-investment.

You want to host your blog on your site because you want your site to be a primary resource for customers to learn about your business AND consume your content. Hosting a blog directly on your site, along with formatting it properly and using the appropriate template, is another way to ensure brand consistency.

It also makes it easier to boost conversions through your blog. For example, maybe you post an entry that covers some of the various services you offer, and their major benefits. When your blog is attached to your website, it’s easy for readers who want to learn more about your services to do so immediately without jumping to a different domain, which may lead to confusion and a poor User Experience (UX).|

How to Start a WordPress Blog

The points explained above describe some of the more noteworthy reasons Wordpress is the ideal blogging program for most individuals and brands. Now that you understand why it’s right for your goals, the following points will explain how to go about creating a WordPress blog.

Create Your Bluehost Account

It’s worth noting that you can create a free WordPress.com blog without paying for web hosting services. This may seem like the ideal option if you’re on a budget. That said, it’s best not to go this route if you’re planning on using your blog as a marketing tool. The URL for free WordPress.com blogs will be formatted as “[your site name].wordpress.com.” This has a negative impact on branding.

You’re better off integrating WordPress.org with a site for which you own the domain. Bluehost is a good web hosting option if you haven’t created your site yet, as it’s not only affordable (plans can cost as little as $5 a month or less during promotions), but also integrates with WordPress remarkably easily. You can also migrate an existing WordPress site to a Bluehost account if you started with a free blog. WordPress has even frequently recommended Bluehost to people starting their first sites or blogs. Additionally, you can cancel your Bluehost account whenever you choose, making it an ideal option if you’re just now beginning to experiment with blogging.

Bluehost also offers a free domain registration when you start your account. Instead of registering your domain through another party, you can simply use your chosen web hosting platform.

When you start your account and register your domain, you’ll be able to choose your plan, as shown below:

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Select one that’s right for your budget, but seriously consider your needs before making a choice. It may be worth paying a little more than the bare minimum in order to take advantage of more features. Of course, you can make the necessary upgrades later if you determine you need more features than your chosen plan offers.

Install WordPress

Now that you have created your Bluehost account and registered your domain, you can install WordPress. Begin by logging into Bluehost with your primary domain (or username) and password:

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This brings you to your Bluehost Control Panel:

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Head to the “Website Builders” section, and select “Install Wordpress”:

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This brings you to the following page:

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Click “Start,” and WordPress will immediately begin installing directly to your BlueHost account. Then you’ll be able to choose which domain you want to use WordPress with. In this case, that will obviously be the domain where you want to host your blog:

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Finally, you can give your blog a name. During this step, you also have the option of changing your default username and password. Once you’ve made the changes, all you have to do is agree to the Terms & Conditions, select “Install Now,” and you’re ready to get started:

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The installation typically doesn’t take much longer than a few seconds.

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Now you’ll receive your site URL. This is also the address of your blog. Additionally, you’ll get a login URL, so you can add and manage entries.

Don’t use the same password for your blog that you also use for your Bluehost account. It’s important to have a separate, high-quality password, to guard against others accessing your information or manipulating your blog. Someone could easily alter or destroy a substantial amount of your marketing content if they were able to accurately guess your password. The benefits of creating a strong one are worth the extra few moments it takes to do so.

Choose a Theme

Now you’re ready to start choosing a theme. Take your time with this decision. Although you can often edit many components of a theme, such as the color scheme, it’s important to find one that accurately represents your brand while also achieving your goals.

For example, if your brand is extremely visuals-oriented, you might select a theme such as Twenty Seventeen, which allows you to include a large header video or picture to introduce guests to a page:

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Now you’ll receive your site URL. This is also the address of your blog. Additionally, you’ll get a login URL, so you can add and manage entries.

Don’t use the same password for your blog that you also use for your Bluehost account. It’s important to have a separate, high-quality password, to guard against others accessing your information or manipulating your blog. Someone could easily alter or destroy a substantial amount of your marketing content if they were able to accurately guess your password. The benefits of creating a strong one are worth the extra few moments it takes to do so.

On the other hand, you might want to use a blog for multiple purposes, such as to promote items available in your eCommerce shop. In this case, you might prefer an option such as Astra:

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You should also be aware that some WordPress Themes are free, while other premium Themes come with a fee. Because you can change your Theme whenever you wish, after experimenting with free options, you might eventually decide that a premium option is better-suited to your needs.

That said, when you first begin using WordPress, you’ll already have a customizable default Theme to work with. While you should definitely make a point of finding a brand-appropriate Theme in the long run, if you’re new to WordPress and simply want to familiarize yourself with its various features, it’s completely acceptable to start learning the basics with the default Theme.

When you are ready to choose a new one, click on “Appearance” in the WordPress dashboard, then select “Themes”:

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When you select “Add New,” you’ll be provided with a range of options from which to choose:

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Because there are literally thousands of free WordPress Themes available to bloggers, you can sort your options by “Popular,” “Featured,” and “Latest”:

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You may also use the search tool to find Themes that match specific preferences, including color scheme, features, purposes, etc. For example, maybe you own a restaurant, and want a theme that’s right for this industry. You could search accordingly. Doing so would bring up such Themes as these:

If you’re interested in a Theme, click “Preview” to get a better sense of how it would look on your site:

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Once you’ve found a Theme you’d like to work with, select “Install Now”:

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After it has installed (which should only take a few seconds), click “Activate Now,” and you’re ready to start using your Theme:

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After it has installed (which should only take a few seconds), click “Activate Now,” and you’re ready to start using your Theme:

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Experiment with the various features of your Theme, and remember you can always switch or upgrade to a different Theme if you decide you’re not satisfied with your initial choice. Eventually, you could even hire someone to develop a custom WordPress Theme, which may be the best option in the long run if you want to clearly define your brand.

Adding Blog Posts with WordPress

To add a post with WordPress, first login to your account. This will bring you to the dashboard. Select “Add New” under “Posts.” This brings you to a page where you can create and edit a post:

As you can see, the format is very similar to that of a typical word processing program. Again, remember that you can add plugins to expand WordPress’ capabilities as well.

Once you’re done drafting a post, you can save it, or publish it immediately. However, as the screenshot above illustrates, if you have multiple writers for your blog, you can also give certain individuals administrative duties. Instead of directly publishing drafts, writers can submit them for review, ensuring low-quality content doesn’t wind up on your blog. This is an option to consider if you don’t have time to write the blog yourself, and thus need to hire other writers for help.

Helpful Bluehost WordPress Settings

Using WordPress with Bluehost is very easy. It’s free to install, and the customizable Themes allow you to develop a blog that truly represents your business’ branded identity.

To make the most of WordPress, it’s important to understand certain essential Bluehost Wordpress settings. They include:

General Settings

Your blog’s name and description fall under General Settings. Although there are instances when it makes sense to give your blog the same name as your domain name, this isn’t always the case. Just make sure the two names are similar or related if you choose to give your blog a different name. This is another key element of brand consistency.

Don’t overlook the value of your blog’s description either! Also referred to as a tagline, WordPress blog descriptions help search engines determine when to include it in relevant Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Make sure it accurately represents what types of content readers of your blog can expect to find on it. It’s easier to create a strong description (and, for that matter, blog title) if you first conduct keyword research, focusing on the types of keywords people would use when searching for the type of general content you post.

General settings also gives you the option to determine how your blog’s URL will be formatted: “http://www.yoursite.com” or “http://yoursite.com”. No option is universally “better” than the other. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

Reading

Reading settings allow you to determine what guests see when they first visit your site. With the default Reading settings, they’ll see the latest posts, but you can adjust them so that, for instance, guests arrive at a specific landing page of your choice.

Discussion

Allowing readers to leave comments on your blog may be a good idea. It adds a degree of interactivity and communication, which may be key to engaging certain users. Additionally, a comments section could theoretically serve as a useful source of feedback about your blog and overall content marketing strategy, although you don’t necessarily want to use it as the sole resource for this information. Sometimes the same regular readers (with the same regular praise or complaints) will typically post in the comments section, meaning you’re only getting feedback from a select few individuals. Their impressions may not reflect those of your entire customer base.

With the Discussion settings, you can determine what steps a reader must take in order to leave a comment. Some bloggers allow readers to leave comments easily and directly, while others require them to take extra steps, such as providing their names and email addresses. You might consider requiring this if you’re worried about spammers. Additionally, you can choose to review comments before allowing them to be published, ensuring you have a greater degree of control over the content of your blog’s comment section.

Media

WordPress allows users to upload images to a Media Library. This helps you save time when drafting blog posts in the future. Rather than finding new files to upload every single time you want to include an image in a post, you can simply go to your Media Library and select the image you wish to include. Using the Media settings, you can set the dimensions for images in your Media Library.

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Once you’ve taken the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll have a blog to begin experimenting with.

That’s key. For a blog to deliver a substantial ROI, you need a strong blogging strategy. To some degree, developing one should involve researching blogging and content marketing best practices. Be vigilant when doing so. Best practices can change over time for many reasons, including changes to Google’s algorithm, changing consumer habits, and much more. Staying abreast of these developments is key to understanding how to leverage your blog to its full potential.

However, if this is your first blog, playing around with WordPress, trying new blogging strategies, and experimenting with content ideas will also help you develop a plan for success. These steps are simply to help you get started.

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