How To Start a Professional Blog with WordPress
So you want to learn how to start a blog. Not just any blog, a professional blog so you can become a professional blogger. First, what is a blog? A blog is just a part of a website where you publish content in chronological order that is organized by category.
It’s the content part of your website where you publish blog posts. On a well designed website, it should be the it’s own section of a website. Like for this website you’re on now, the blog is found at websitecreativepro.com/blog.
It’s primary function is to get search traffic from Google and to then turn that search traffic into email subscribers, product sales, advertising clicks or social shares.That’s why you should start a blog. Because you want to grow your traffic and then convert that traffic into a specific purpose.
Can a blog really make money? Yes! Words, images and video all put together can become a very valuable and profitable asset.
Given the right content and audience, a high traffic blog can make money. It’s simple, but not easy. Let’s get started.
How To Start a Blog Made Easy
This “how to start a blog” tutorial will cover a variety of topics you need to understand in order to build a successful blog. What we’re going to be doing in this tutorial is creating a website and then adding a blog to it. I’ll show you how to design your blog and what type of content you should publish so you can get search traffic.
With traffic and attention you can then make sales of products you’ve created or products you’re promoting as an affiliate, grow your email list and get social shares to expand your reach.
Let’s get started blogging:
- The best blogging platform
- Choose Your Blog Topic
- Create a website and start your blog
- Blog design inspiration
- Install a WordPress Theme
- WordPress Plugins
- SEO for Bloggers
- Writing Blog Posts Correctly
- Content Marketing
- How Blogs Make Money
The Best Blogging Platform
With starting a blog you have two options – self hosted or using a free platform. Self hosted means you create your own website that YOU own using a domain name and a web host that you buy.
On the back end you have a few different options for what will power your website. Website builders like Wix and Squarespace or content management systems like Movable Type, Drupal, WordPress and even custom built solutions.
WordPress is the leader because it is designed for blogging and content creation first and foremost.
What about Blogger.com or WordPress.com?
Using a free platform means you don’t pay for hosting but you also don’t own your website and have very limited control over it.
If you’re just looking to setup a personal blog and have no intention of making into a profitable asset and just want to share thoughts or ideas then I would use blogger.com with a custom domain name from Namecheap.
Why Does Everyone Use WordPress?
Very easy to setup. WordPress is so popular all web hosts now come with simple 1-click install of WordPress.
Easy to use. Creating content, adding products, pages, images, videos and links to your website is so easy with WordPress. WordPress is used by some of the biggest brands in the world like CNN and the BBC to manage their content publishing.
Total control over your blog. WordPress comes with some excellent tools so anyone can learn how to use to create a beautiful website. WordPress themes make designing your website the way YOU want an easy and fun process.
Excellent support community. WordPress is has a thriving community so you can always get help and advice for any aspect of your blog.
WordPress is secure. It’s constantly updated and supported so you never have to worry about running software that is out of date.
Great SEO – WordPress can be setup with ease for proper SEO. There are also countless SEO tutorials you can follow and all assume you’re using WordPress.
Choose your blogging topic
Do not be a money chaser. Too many people start websites and blogs on topics they read. What they end up doing is creating blogs that are simply echos of more popular blogs. Instead, think about what you’re really interested in and can provide value on.
Here is how you pick a blog topic:
1 – What are your skills? What do you know how to do that other people don’t know? What do people ask you for help with or advice on?
2 – What can you talk about and write about effortlessly? For a blog, you should confidently be able to write 100+ topic ideas.
3 – Money – What do people pay for in your topic?
Additional questions to ask yourself first:
- Am I interested in starting a long term project on this topic?
- Can I easily produce 100+ content ideas for this topic?
- Does this topic have a lot of potential questions to answer and low competition phrases I could rank for?
- Are there a lot of other sites on this topic? You want competition. Are these websites under 3 years old?
- Is there any angle for my site? Why would someone use my site over a competitors?
- Is there potential to rank for some big keywords that can drive a lot of traffic?
Find the intersection of these three ideas and that should give you some idea about what topic you should create a blog about. It does not even need to be something “sexy” – It could be (and probably should be) something totally practical.
My friend for example learned how to sail a boat and because of that experience created a how-to blog for those looking to get started sailing.
While those money chasers are spinning their wheels creating low quality blogs about making money online or yet another generic tech blog, wondering why they don’t have traffic and looking for short cuts – my friend is actually making money by providing something helpful to the world.
Create a website and start a blog
Now we need to create a website so we can start blogging. For this we will get a domain name, a web host and install WordPress. Three simple steps.
1 – Get your domain name at Name Cheap
A domain name is the web address for your blog. My personal blog can be found at edgeofdavid.com. You’re going to need to come up with a good, catchy domain name.
You have a few options for choosing a domain name. You can go with something that is brandable, your actual name or a keyword focused domain.
Don’t stress over this too long. Branded domain names are best for blogs. Keyword focused domains are ideal if a website offers a very specific service and registering your name provides you with the ability to pivot on topics.
Simply visit Namecheap.com, and enter in your desired domain name. If it’s available go ahead and register it. If it’s not available, think of something else.
The reason we use Namecheap.com is because we want to keep our web host and domain name service separate. If you ever decide to change web hosts it’s a pain to do so if your domain name is registered at the web host.
- I would suggest getting your domain name for 2 years.
- Whois guard protects your privacy and is included with your purchase.
- With domain names you can only register them. This is a yearly cost everyone pays.
Get your domain names at our preferred domain registrar.
2 – Get a Hosting Account at Bluehost
Bluehost is the #1 recommended web host for WordPress. They are an excellent starter host and provide all the tools, service and hosting you need to grow your website to 50,000 pageviews or more per month.
They provide excellent shared hosting at a great price. Perfect for new websites and blogs. Once you have a website that gets around 1,500 visitors a day and is over 50,000 pageviews, consider moving your website over to WPX Hosting.
They are much more expensive, but are a great host for established, high traffic websites. But if you’re just starting out Bluehost is right for you.
Bluehost comes with four different pricing plans:
- Basic – Expensive and can only have one website.
- Plus – Ideal for growing a website to around 1000 visitors a day and 30k monthly pageviews.
- Choice Plus – Perfect for growing medium sizes websites to 1,5000 visitors a day and around 50k pageviews.
- Pro – For website that get 100,000 visitors a month but we suggest WPX Hosting once you get to this point.
The Plus and Choice Plus plans are the best. In general, most bloggers should go with Choice plus and buy a 2 or 3 year hosting package. This provides enough resource to grow your site into a high traffic blog.
Once you make a purchase you’ll have to add a primary domain to your account:
To setup your domain name make sure to click “use a domain you own” since you registered your domain name at Namecheap, a domain name registrar.
Next fill out your payment information and proceed through the on-boarding process. Finally, you’ll be presented with your Bluehost dashboard:
Your website, if you filled out “use a domain name I own” will state “temporary box.” The next step we need to connect our nameservers to our hosting account.
3 – Connect Your Nameservers
Now it’s time to connect your hosting account to your domain name. This is done through changing the nameservers at Name Cheap to that of your hosting account.
It takes 5 minutes and it’s just a simple copy / paste process.
Look for your welcome email from Bluehost:
Nameservers for Bluehost are ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com. You need to update your domain DNS setting at Namecheap now.
Log into Namecheap, click on “manage” for the domain name you want to edit:
Where it says nameservers you simply need to select “custom DNS” and then input your nameservers form Bluehost. Make sure to save and then wait 30 minutes for your domain and hosting account to propagate.
That’s all there is to it, now it is time to install WordPress.
4 – Install WordPress
You need a content management system to help publish content, organize and edit your websites design, pictures, video and the overall user experience. WordPress is the best choice for blogging and publishing content online.
To get started with WordPress we need to create a website with our Bluehost account:
Create a website with WordPress
Installing WordPress with Bluehost is very easy. In your dashboard simple click on “my sites” and click on “create site.”
Set some admin details for your website:
Site name should match the URL of your website. For example, our site name is “Website Creative Pro.” Add a tagline if you like. Both the site name and tagline can be changed or deleted within WordPress.
Also click on the “advanced” tab where you can enter an email address which will be your recovery email as well as an admin user name and password of your choosing.
Choose Domain Name
Next you will be able to choose your domain name. You should only have one domain name but with your hosting account you can add multiple domain names. Install WordPress on the root domain. You do that by leaving the directory option blank.
When ready go click on the “next” button which will begin the WordPress installation process. Upon completion you’ll be presented with this page:
You have now created a website! Congrats.
How To Log Into WordPress
You can log into WordPress from your Bluehost dashboard or you can log in via your WordPress installation.
To log into your WordPress powered website all you need to do is visit example.com/wp-admin
To log into your website now, all you have to do is go to website.com/wp-admin and put in the user name and password you made when installing WordPress.
This is how you will log into your website from here on out.
Welcome to WordPress.
Verify your SSL certificate is working correctly
With your Bluehost account you get a free SSL certificate installed on your website. That means you should see a little “lock” icon in your web browser. If not, contact Bluehost support and they will fix it quickly and easily.
In order to check your SSL certificate:
- Log in to your Bluehost portal.
- Click on the “my sites” tab.
- Find your website and click on “Manage Site.”
- Go to the “Security” tab.
- Under “security certificate,” you will find your “free SSL certificate” status.
Welcome to WordPress.
Blog Design Inspiration – What will My Blog Look Like?
For the professional blogger, there are a few layouts that work.
- Visual Menu
The blogroll is a no frills default style of any WordPress blog. This layout shows your latest posts first and the rest of the posts in chronological order.
This setup is good because it allows readers to find your latest content very easily. It’s weak though on introducing people to what your site is about.
If you lack design skills or your website does not have a lot of content, then go with the blog roll layout.
A visual menu homepage layout is ideal because it leverages a call to action at the top of the page and the footer. It also introduces visitors to specific guides and the latest blog posts. Website Creative Pro uses a visual menu layout.
This layout works because it has a clear call to action that quickly introduces the website and let’s a visitor know what the site is about, but more importantly it helps grow your email list or drive traffic to an important page (like how I drive traffic to my create a website tutorial here on websitecreativepro.com on the homepage).
You need to create a dedicated homepage and a blog post page.
Ramit built a 7 figure education business off the back of a one man blog he started. Now, he’s the face of his brand and on his homepage drives traffic to a quiz that leads into you submitting your email (and thus growing his list which directly impacts his business).
How to create a homepage with WordPress
I would start a blog using the blogroll layout. Once I have published 10 pieces of content, I would then create a dedicated homepage. In order to do that first create two pages with WordPress. I would call one page “home” and the other page “blog.”
Next go to “settings” in your WordPress dashboard and click on reading.
Here is where you can set your a page for the homepage and another page for the posts page.
Your next task is to design the homepage. We have numerous video tutorials on how to design a blog. Checkout our TwentyTwenty theme tutorial on YouTube.
The best permalinks for blogs
Permalinks are the URL structure of your blog post. In WordPress you have a few different options:
/Post-Name – Perfect for smaller sites that are never going to have more than 50 pages of content.
/Category/Post-Name – Perfect for large websites that will have 1000+ pages of content and multiple categories.
/Date/Post-Name – Perfect for time sensitive content like news.
/blog/Post-Name – Best URL structure for most websites. Go with this one in most instances.
Let’s change it to something more helpful and logical. Here’s how to change it:
Settings >>> permalinks
What Is The Best Permalink Structure?
For most blogs, the ideal URL structure is this to have /blog/post-name type setup. Simply click on custom structure and set your permalinks as follows:
It helps give a nice structure for search engines and it helps separate blog posts from pages and affiliate links.
If you want to nerd out and learn more about the why, read the best permalink structure guide.
Install a Theme
Let’s design your blog. This sections will show you how to install a WordPress theme. With themes you have both free and paid options. Checkout our continually updated guide on the best free and paid WordPress themes.
When you’re in your WordPress dashboard, go to appearance, themes and then add new.
Click on the theme you want to install. It will be downloaded and installed right from the WordPress directory. Make sure to click “activate” to make it go live.
Look through the themes to see if anything catches your eye (you can also sort by most popular). Just click the theme to install it with the click of a button.
These are themes you have to buy. They are not listed in the free WordPress directory. You buy them from a theme design shop. To install a premium theme:
Go to appearance, themes, add new then you have to UPLOAD the theme you just bought and downloaded.
Choose the ZIP file you want to install (your theme) and then click “install now” to install the theme.
Leave it as a zip file after downloading it. You can only upload compressed ZIP files.
The most popular premium themes:
In the WordPress community there are a few premium themes that are currently the most popular. Most themes incorporate some type of block or drag and drop editing. No theme is best. Themes are just tools. Pick a premium theme and learn it. Then you’ll be able to design whatever you want.
Astra – The Astra theme is the most downloaded theme for WordPress. The free version is feature rich and allows you to easily create a blog or website. You can also use the Astra Sites plugin to download pre-made websites (free and paid).
Ultra Theme – Website Creative Pro uses the Ultra theme. Excellent homepage, elegant, simple layout for blog posts that focus on readability. Specific control over the look and design of individual pages. Use ULTRAPRO for a discount.
DIVI – DIVI is one of the most popular themes in the world. It has a front end page builder allowing you to have a lot of control over the look and feel of your website.
Avada Theme – This is the best selling theme on Theme Forest. It’s a theme that comes with the ability to customize various aspects of your theme however you want as well as coming with different templates you can download and use.
Hello Theme – Made to work with the pro version of the Elementor plugin, this theme is a “blank slate” plugin that allows you total control and flexibility over your website.
Essential WordPress Plugins
A plugin is a a piece of software that acts as an extension for WordPress, giving it new features and functions. There are thousands of plugins you can install. What plugins you install is dependent upon what you need.
You can install plugins that add social share buttons, affiliate link management, contact forms and so much more.
To add a plugin to your website is a simple process. Simply navigate to plugins and then click add new.
The most essential plugins for any WordPress blog are:
Checkout our list of essential WordPress plugins.
SEO For Bloggers
There are a two essential plugins all blogs should have. These plugins help with your blogs SEO and load speed.
SEO? SEO is short for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to structure your blog and it’s content so you can actually rank for various phrases in Google as away to get visitors to your website.
SEO is a billion dollar industry and there is a lot to learn. But one key thing you can do right now is to lay the foundation for strong SEO for your blog.
Yoast SEO – The best SEO plugin for WordPress
One absolutely essential plugin for helping you optimize your website for search is the Yoast SEO plugin.
To get started with, go to plugins >> add new and the search for “yoast SEO.” Install it and activate it.
What this plugin does is that it allows you to edit the meta data for your posts and pages.
By installing Yoast, you can easily edit titles, the URL slug and the meta description for all published content. It also gives a readability analysis for your content. Yoast SEO also creates a helpful sitemap for your website that you can submit to Google Search console to help index your site quickly and to get data on how Google sees your website.
Last, it enables your blog to have breadcrumbs enabled. Breadcrumbs give search engines and visitors a clear idea of where they are:
home >> blog >> category >> post title
You see this at the top of every blog post here on Website Creative Pro and it’s intentional. While not the prettiest, it helps visitors and search engines navigate your site with ease. This is achieved through pasting Yoast SEO shortcode for breadcrumbs into the top section of my blog posts.
Smush It – Image optimization
Smush It is a WordPress plugin that compresses your images upon upload to your website. It reduces the file size and makes your website load faster. Simpy add new plugins and search for “Smush It.”
This plugin is a big deal because you’re going to have a lot of images uploaded to your website over time. This plugin will optimize every and all images.
How to write blog posts correctly
Writing content for a blog is not the same as a paper for school. There are a few things you need to know.
When writing a blog post title make sure it has a searchable keyword or phrase in it. Like if I was tying to rank a post for “best cheap headphones” I would make sure to have “best cheap headphones” in the title of the blog post.
I would also add something extra on it to make it more click worthy. Something like “best cheap headphones for introverts” is a much more specific. Again though, related it your topic. If headphones and introverts makes no sense for your blog topic don’t publish irrelevant content.
Make sure to use a largish, 14px+ size font. You want your website to be easy to read.
Don’t make massive paragraphs too. No one wants to read a wall of text. Write 3-5 sentences then hit that enter button. This helps reader retention, time on site and again makes for a easier, more enjoyable reading experience.
It’s fine to have a sentence be all alone like this one.
Pictures and video
Use at least 1 picture in every blog post. Make sure the picture is a jpg and is of a small size, under 50 mb. This ensures your page loads fast.
Don’t steal pictures! You can find many places to get free, high quality pictures by checking out this page that is part of our resources.
Use pictures only when it’s demonstrating something or it’s the feature image of a blog post.
Inter-link your own content and link to other websites regularly. You can and should go back into older blog posts and link to newer content when it makes sense.
One page one purpose. Stay on message with each post you write.
Have a call to action. Ask your visitors to share your website or subscribe or buy your product or whatever! Ask them to do something.
I suggest you take some time out to read about some web design practicesdo’s and don’ts.
In online publishing, you can choose between H1 – H6 tags. You can select the tag you want to use here:
H1 is for the title of the page. The title you put here should already be marked as H1 by your theme. You should never use H1 for your actual content.
Next, use H2 for your main topics, then H3 for sub topics and H4 for topics within the sub topic and so forth.
Tags are important because it tells search engines what’s important and it gives a logical structure that helps search engines understand you content but also make it much more easy for visitors to scan.
Check Your Grammar
No one is perfect but a lot of mistakes makes you look dumb and it turns people off from trusting you. Check and double check your writing.
Make sure your titles and meta are done correctly
With the Yoast SEO plugin you can change the way the title and meta description is presented to Google.
Write what people actually want! It’s all about that 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you should be writing on proven topics. 20% of the time you write whatever you want (because you may stumble on a topic people love).
Sounds simple enough but most bloggers end up writing all the time about what they think and feel or current events. Instead write for what people want, this will result in you creating content that is valuable and ti will result in you getting search traffic.
The types of content you should create:
Questions that answer questions people type into search Engines. How to do ______ in 15 minutes flat.
Shareable, list oriented blog posts and infographics that people will share on social media. The 7 best _______ you need to know about!
Long form blog posts that are the best on their respective topic.
Focus On Providing, Helpful Valuable Content
Value is not copying other more popular websites. Value is being a small part of the solution for someone else. Maybe you create a piece of content, a buying guide or a tutorial that helps someone in some small way.
Your goal with content marketing with a blog is to be very helpful and to then elegantly convert your traffic into email sign-ups and customers.
Build a Brand
Brands stay on topic and become the trusted authority in a given area. A good blog should be a brand and that brand should have relevant, related content. A blog about travel, personal finance and dating is going to struggle.
Google wants to rank and index brands, a blog about multiple, unrelated topics is not an authority.
How to Start a Blog Conclusion
So that is it for our “how to start a blog” beginners guide. If you found it helpful make sure to share and bookmark this page as it’s constantly updated. Starting a blog is easier than ever and you should be up and running in a day. If you want an advanced guide, take a look at our course.
Want to learn how to make money with a blog? Checkout our dedicated guide on how to make money blogging.
Resources used in the video tutorial:
- Bluehost – They are the #1 recommended web host by the team behind WordPress.
- Namecheap is our domain name registrar where we suggest getting your domain names.
- Base WP is our theme in this video but you can use whatever theme you like.