Start a Blog
Start a blog

Step #4: Feel the Power of WordPress by Installing and Customizing Your Blog

This step is all about installing and customizing your blog and preparing it to be indexed by search engines.

WordPress is a very powerful tool that lets you create your blog in any way you can imagine. Once you install it, you’re ready to customize your blog, make it your own, and start blogging.

Installing Your WordPress Blog

Most of the hosting providers offer a one-click install WordPress so it’s pretty easy and I believe there is no need to explain it further. But if you think you’ll need help with this here’s how to install WordPress on Dreamhost.

How to Install WordPress On DreamHost Using One-Click Install

Installing WordPress at DreamHost is easy. Just log in to your panel and select One-Click Installs.

Dreamhost one click install

From the One-Click-Installs list, choose WordPress, then enter the following:

  • Install to: Choose your domain for installation.

The second textbox is for installing into a subdirectory (if you don’t want to install it in the primary directory).

For example, if you want it installed into example.com/blog then select example.com in the first dropdown menu, then type in the word blog in the second textbox.

  • Select Database: Choose the Automatically Create Database because this will create a new database for your site.
  • Click the Install it for me now button and within 15 minutes, you’ll get an email with details for completing the installation.

When WordPress is finally installed on your site, you can log into it at:

example.com/wp-login.php

Wp login

Now when you have your blog installed, it’s time to customize it.

Customizing Your Blog With Theme and Plugins

Your theme is the design of your website. The purpose of the theme is to help your visitors find the information they are looking for and the plugin is a software that can expand functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites without knowing a single line of code.

You’ll be fine with free themes, so don’t worry about getting a paid theme.

How to Install A Theme and Plugins for Your Blog

Ideally, you want a theme that has a design layout that helps you to achieve your goal. Your theme should be looking good and be usable and simple.

So make sure that your theme isn’t too complicated and choose only themes that are optimized for mobile devices.

I can suggest checking two themes. Astra is the one that I use, and the second one is Total. You’ll be totally fine with free versions but if you need more customization their pro addons will satisfy even the most demanding ones.

To pick a theme:

  •  Log in to your WordPress dashboard
  •  Go to Appearance, then click on Themes.
  •  Choose Add New

Now you can search for a theme in a search box and install it, or upload a theme that you downloaded in .zip file.

Pick a theme wp

Here’s how to do it in both cases:

Install a theme from the WordPress directory

To install a theme from the WordPress directory just enter the theme’s name or wanted feature and click the Install button.

Install a 3rd party WordPress theme

This is how to install a 3rd party theme.

  • First click on Add New 
  • Click on Upload Theme
  • Select Choose File and find a theme that you downloaded in .zip format and select it
  •  Click Install Now

After installing your WordPress theme, click on Activate and you’re done.

To see how it looks like from your navigation menu go to Appearance and then:

  • Click on Themes and you will see all your installed themes
  • Find a theme that you want to preview and click the Preview button

After you have installed your theme it’s time to add desired functionalities, and that is done by installing plugins.

The process is ths same as when you were installing your theme, just click on plugins instead of themes so I won’t go in details here.

WordPress plugin directory

There are some categories of plugins that every website need:

  • SEO plugins (my recommendation is Yoast SEO)
  • Performance plugins (my recommendation is WP Super Cache and Imagify).
  • Security plugins (my recommendation is Sucuri).
  • Social Share plugins (my recommendation is Social Warfare).

When you are done with installing plugins you’ll want to prepare your site for SEO.

Setting Up Your Blog And Getting It Ready For Search Engines

If you want to have a blog that drives traffic and get to page one of Google, you have to learn SEO (search engine optimization).

There are plenty of SEO guides out there but only a few tell you about the most basic things like how to create a sitemap, submit it to search engines, and how to get your site indexed. So here it is.

How to Create Sitemap and Submit it to Search Engines

A sitemap helps Google to discover the great content you create. If you installed and activated the Yoast SEO plugin we recommended earlier, creating a sitemap is easy and quick.

In the left side menu of your WordPress dashboard, click SEO, and then:

  • Click General
  • Click the Features tab
  • Find the XML sitemaps option and make sure the switch is On

There’s your XML sitemap. Now, you need to submit it to search engines.

But first, you need the URL of your sitemap:

  • Click the question mark icon next to XML sitemap
  • Click the See the XML sitemap link (this will open a new tab in browser)
  • Copy the URL in the address bar

How to Submit Sitemap to Google Search Console

  • Go to Google Search Console and sign in using your Google account
  • Select your site from the left side menu (If you have never used Google Search Console before, you need to click “Add property” and follow the steps given before you continue)
  • Go to Index, then click the Sitemaps option
  • In the Add a New Sitemap, enter the URL of your sitemap and click Submit
Adding sitemap to Google

How to Submit Sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools

Go to Bing Webmaster Tools (you’ll need to create an account if you don’t have one)

  • Go to My Sites section, and click your website (If you haven’t used Bing Webmaster Tools before, enter your blog’s URL in the Add a Site section and click Add)
  • In the left side menu, click Configure My Site and then click on Sitemaps
  • Enter the URL of your sitemap in the Submit a sitemap section and click Submit
Adding sitemap to Bing

You’re done.

How To Use Google Search Console to Get Your Blog Indexed Fast

After you’ve submitted your sitemap, stay in the Google Search Console because now you’re going to get your blog indexed.

  • Go to Check URL and enter the URL of your blog and press Enter on your keyboard

This will open a new page that looks like this:

Request indexing Google search console

Click on Request Indexing and that’s it.

You should do this every time you publish something new or make changes to your blog. Your posts will get indexed a couple of minutes after going live

When you finish this step it’s time to craft some pages that every website should have.

Creating the Essential Pages for Your Blog

When you are just starting your blog you might be wondering if there is any important page that every website should have. Well, there are five of them:

  • homepage
  • about page
  • contact page
  • privacy policy page
  • blog page

Homepage

The Home Page is like your front door. Not every visitor will use your front door to enter your blog but it’ll probably be one of your most viewed pages. Make sure it delivers the right message.

In WordPress, you have two options. First, your homepage can be a list of your latest posts. And second, it can be a static page. Creating a good static homepage is not easy, but it’s important so make sure you deal with it as soon as possible.

About Page

Even the name of this page is About me, it’s not actually about you. It’s about what are you offering to your readers. They want to know a bit more about you, but mainly they want to know how you are going to help them.

So don’t make this page all about you. Instead, try to answer these questions to craft an ideal About page that will hook your readers before you throw in your personal bio.

  • Why should they read your blog?
  • What will they get from your blog?
  • What types of posts do you publish?
  • How did you get started with your blog?

Also, it’s good to put your call to action in several places within your About Page.

Contact Page

Even if you have your contact information in the footer of your website, you still need a Contact page.  You want to make it easy for them to reach you because it is the best chance to transform a prospect into a customer.

Privacy Policy Page

Your Privacy Policy page refers to how your website collects and uses visitors’ information.

Just search on Google for a Privacy Policy Template, and adapt it to fit your website, or go to Privacy Policy Generator, which will create a customized privacy policy page with your website name inserted where it’s needed.

This is the must-have page because Google won’t index your blog without it and it’s sometimes included as a draft in your WordPress installation.

Blog Page

A blog page is just a page where your posts will be published. All you have to do is to create a new page, usually, the title is Blog but you can call it whatever you want, and publish it.

When you craft all essential pages it’s time to create content that will fill those pages up.

4 replies on “How To Start a Successful Blog That’ll Make You Proud (An Ultimate Beginners Guide)”

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  3. Reply

    Such a descriptive and insighful article. Thank you for all the tips. Keep it up!

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