Once you have started a blog using whatever hosting company you have chosen you will need to start writing and setting up your blog.
If you followed my How to Start a Blog with Bluehost post, you will have downloaded WordPress as the content management system to write and manage your blog.
You should by now have received your login information for WordPress (note: this is always separate from your hosting company login).
Login to your WordPress account.
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The WordPress Dashboard
The WordPress Dashboard is where you are going to be spending most of your time, behind the scenes of your blog. It is the central information center of your blog.
The WordPress dashboard will look something like the picture above. Everyone’s dashboard will look slightly different, but this will give you an idea of what the dashboard looks like. It always has that black strip on the left hand side.
The First Things to do in WordPress
Check (and change) your Permalink Structure
As long as you haven’t already written any posts in WordPress on your blog yet, you can check what your permalink structure is, and make changes if needs be.
The reason I am stating as long as you haven’t already done any posts, is because if you have, and you then change this permalink structure, it will affect now your links appear and cause problems like broken links. That sounds technical, and you really don’t need to know what that means at this point. Just know that you should only do this step if you are freshly starting your blog, and you haven’t published or written a post yet.
Go to the Settings tab which you will find in that black space on the left hand side of your WordPress dashboard.
Click on Settings. Then select Permalinks.
You will see the list of common settings, as above.
If it is not already selected, click on, and select, Post Name. This way your urls (the address of each post you publish) will show as https://yourblogname.com/thepostname. This is the best way for your blog posts to appear.
Change your User Name
WordPress will automatically show your user name as Admin. You do not want that as your user name, because hackers are on to that and it is not secure (hackers know admin is the default user name).
Change your user name to one that is known only to you. To change your user name you will need to create a new user. Do this following these steps:
Users>All Users>Add New
Fill out the information for a new user.
For role, select “Administrator”
Save all your changes
Logout of WordPress
Now log back in to WordPress using the new username you just created, and using your password.
Go to Users>All Users
Hover over the username “Admin” in the list.
Click the delete link
Attribute all posts and links to the new user.
Confirm the deletion.
Now you have a secure login, using a login name known only to you.
Plugins are are pieces of code and instructions that make WordPress do certain things. For instance there are plugins for things such as scheduling your posts, sharing your images, monitoring your SEO and more. Plugins are a way of personalizing WordPress. WordPress is the same for everyone straight “out of the box”, but plugins are a way of personalizing WordPress.
It is very easy to add a plugin to WordPress:
In the dashboard, go to Plugins.
Select Add New
There is a search bar at the top, where you can search for the plugin that you are looking for. For instance, you would type “Yoast” here for the Yoast SEO plugin.
Click Install Now
Once the plugin is installed, you will need to click Activate, so it will start working.
Once a plugin is activated it will start doing whatever job it is set to do.
Many plugins will have an entry that appears in the black bar on the left hand side of your dashboard. For instance, in the dashboard view below, you can see that I have the WooCommerce plugin, SEO plugin, Social Pug etc. These are all plugins, with their own controls set inside those entries on the control panel.
If I click on the Social Pug plugin, it opens up a menu of different options:
With regard to plugins – only install what you need.
It is tempting to install all sorts of plugins, because they claim to do things that you think you need. But plugins can unfortunately really slow down your website, and you don’t want to do that for many reasons.
Choose only a few plugins that you really need.. Delete those you are not using. Delete any unnecessary plugins that appear in your dashboard when you first start up WordPress.
For instance, WordPress always pre-installs a plugin called Hello Dolly. It doesn’t do much, but it means something to WordPress because it was their first ever plugin. But you don’t need it – just delete it. Along with any other plugins that you really don’t need that may come pre-installed. It is easy to delete a plugin, just click delete next to the plugin. If the plugin is in use and has been activated, just click deactivate and then delete it.
Edit Your General Settings
You will need to edit your General settings in WordPress.
Go to Settings > General
Edit the Site Title and Tagline. Here you can put the name of your site or blog name. The tagline is just a short phrase that describes what your site does. It is like an additional little marketing information tool for your site. For instance, if you have a knitting site called Clicking Needles, your site title would be Clicking Needles, and your tagline would be something you chose to describe it, such as “knitting ideas and instruction for everyone”.
Email Address. Put an email address here where you would want to get notifications. This could be your business email address or your personal address. Wherever you want to get notifications about things relating to your site.
Change the Timezone. This really isn’t that important, but it is if you want to do things such as schedule posts in advance.
Start Writing your Posts in WordPress
When you are ready to start writing, it is very easy to write a post!
Note: At this stage I want to describe the difference between a post and a page. WordPress lets you write posts and also pages.
A post is also a somewhat permanent thing on your site, but each post will be different. It can also be edited anytime you want to. Think of a post as an article that you put on your site. Whenever you add something new to your site, you are usually adding a post (article). For instance, you are writing about a caramel apple pie that you baked. This would be a post.
To Create a New Post in WordPress
Login to WordPress
Click on the + (plus) sign at the top of the site, next to the word New.
A drop down menu will pop down. Select Post from here:
A template will pop up that you will fill in with your post:
I have indicated with the arrow above where you will write the title of your post.
The star indicates where you write your actual post.
When you are ready to publish, just hit Publish, which appears in the box on the right hand side.
To Create a New Page in WordPress
Just follow the instructions above as for writing a post. But instead of selecting Post after you hit the plus sign at the top, select Page.
You will write a page pretty much the same – with a title and the page details in the body marked with a star.
There is far more of course to starting a blog, and running a blog, but this will all get you started on your way!