how to start a wordpress blog

In this post, I’m going to show you how to start a WordPress blog.

Step-by-step.

In fact, this is the exact process I used to start mine, without hiring anyone.

So if you’re a lone-wolf type of person like me, you’re going to love this guide.

Let’s jump right in.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you decide to purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you. But rest assured that I only recommend products I personally stand behind.

Chapter 1:

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Despite looking similar, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two completely different beasts.

WordPress.com itself is a hosting service on which you can create a website for free, but with considerable limitations.

On the other hand, WordPress.org is an open-source content management system (CMS) that's free to use.

But a CMS alone doesn’t do much, you’ll need a web hosting service to host your website so you can publish content to the internet.

Granted, WordPress.com does offer paid plans that you can choose from if you need more customizations.

But really, if you’re willing to pay a monthly fee, nothing beats a self-hosted option where you have absolute control over your website…

… and do whatever you want with it.

In a nutshell, unless you’re blogging for a hobby or just need a place to host your online resume, WordPress.org is your best bet.

Chapter 2:

Pick a Niche & Domain Name

Picking a Niche

This is a tricky one, especially for perfectionists like me. In fact, I’d struggled with it for weeks.

I’m a tech and software nerd. I love tech gadgets and geeking out on software. On the surface, it’d be intuitive for me to start a blog talking about tech and stuff.

But let’s be real:

There are enough tech blogs and websites out there. If I’m starting one, I will need a massive team to help pumping out content constantly.

Or I won’t be able to compete with those big boys who started years ago.

And given that I’m super lazy and a lone wolf, I can’t convince myself to do just that.

Plus, just because I love geeking out over tech stuff doesn’t mean I love promoting or even selling it.

So, I decided to put up with my second best niche — internet marketing.

And lo and behold, the more I write about it, the more I realize that I’m equally, if not more, passionate about internet marketing than tech.

So if I had to give a piece of advice, I’d say stick to these three rules:

  1. It has to be something in which you have some knowledge or are interested in mastering a skill.
  2. There has to be enough demand in that market.
  3. People are willing to pay a good amount of money to advertise in that niche.

Let’s talk further about each of them.

1. It has to be something in which you have some knowledge or are interested in mastering a skill

You don’t have to be an expert to be able to blog about something.

Sure, if you already have some knowledge, your blogging life will be easier. But it’s not mandatory.

Why?

As you’re writing about something and researching about it, you’ll inevitably learn more and get better at it.

Here's the truth:

It’s going to take you a while to start getting traffic to your blog.

And by the time that happens, you should already have some knowledge in what you’ve been writing for.

And if you’re interested in mastering a skill in that niche, even better. That’ll accelerate your learning process and boost your confidence quicker than you would’ve expected.

2. There has to be enough demand in that market

Before start writing about something, you need to know there are people wanting to read it.

To do that, we’ll search for a few common keywords in a niche and see how many people are searching for it monthly.

You can use free tools like Google Keyword Planner, but to get more accurate numbers, I’ll use Ahrefs for this example.

Say you’re in the travel niche and you want to know what topics people are searching for.

First, pop the keyword “travel” into Ahrefs’ search bar and click “All keyword ideas“:

Next, skim through and see what stands out to you.

At a glance, there are a few topic ideas that I think would make great blog posts.

Travel backpack” and “best travel insurance“.

Best travel credit cards” and “best credit cards for travel“.

Not only do these keywords have great search volumes, but they also make great post ideas.

You can review and compare a bunch of travel backpacks or credit cards and refer them to purchase and earn a commission.

A general rule of thumb:

If most of the keywords have at least 10K monthly searches, you’re in good hands. Remember we just want to have a gauge of market demand.

3. People are willing to pay a good amount of money to advertise in that niche

Now that you know what keywords people are searching for, you want to see how much people are paying to advertise on those keywords.

We’re going to look at the CPC (Cost Per Click) of those keywords that you think would make great topic ideas.

If advertisers are willing to pay a higher CPC for a certain keyword, that means you can make more ad revenue by placing display ads on your blog…

… if you manage to rank for that keyword, of course.

However, I’m not saying that display ads is the only way to monetize your blog. There are plenty of other ways to do that, which we’ll talk about in a bit.

But I think the CPC of a keyword is a good way to gauge a particular topic's monetization potential before you even start writing it.

Let’s use the examples above again.

Travel backpack” has a CPC of $1.50. Meaning the advertisers are only willing to pay $1.50 for a click to advertise on that keyword.

If that keyword is only worth $1.50 per click, guess how much you could earn with display ads on your blog? Pretty insignificant, right?

But with “best travel insurance“, advertisers are paying $7 for a single click. That’s a huge jump from $1.50.

Just by switching a blog topic to write, you significantly increase the ad revenue potential of your blog post.

Let’s look at another example from above: “best travel credit cards“.

Holy moly! The CPC is a whopping $25!

If you were to write a post for a travel blog, which of these three topics would you want to write about?

I hope you get the idea that I’m trying to convey here. And truth be told, there’s really no best niches to get into. Only one that suits you most.

And here’s the thing:

Nothing is set in stone.

If you start blogging in a niche and soon realize you don’t enjoy it as much as you thought you would, you can always make a switch.

You have absolute control over your blog, remember?

With that, let’s move to domain name research.

Domain Name Research

If you’re starting a personal blog, I recommend using a more generic domain name.

The easiest way is to use yourname.com.

That way, if a niche doesn’t work the way you want it to, you can easily switch to another niche.

But don’t fret too much about this step. You can always change your domain name down the road if you need to.

Oh, sure thing. To do that, I always use Lean Domain Search.

But remember to only use it for research purposes. Don’t register your domain via LDS.

First off, go to Lean Domain Search and enter the word that you want to appear in the domain name. For instance, I want a domain with the word “wolf” in it:

Right off the bat, it tells you how many .com domains with “wolf” are available.

You can sort the list by popularity, length, or alphabetical.

You can also filter the results by where you want the word to appear — start with the search term or end with the search term.

Skim through the list, find your favorite domain — but don't click anything just yet — and move to the next step.

Domain Registration

When you find the domain you want, if you click the domain, you’ll see two options:

The first option is to register now and create a site on WordPress.com, and the second one is to register now with Bluehost.

DO NOT choose either of them.

Let me explain:

If you choose to register with WordPress.com, you’ll be asked to create an account and subscribe to a premium plan because custom domain is a premium feature.

We talked about this earlier:

If you’re willing to pay a monthly fee, you might as well use the self-hosted option, which is WordPress.org.

If you choose the second option to register with Bluehost, you’ll be asked to create an account directly with Bluehost because all Bluehost plans come with a free domain…

(… and Lean Domain Search will get the referral commission without doing anything…)

So, don't do that. 🙂

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that approach. In fact, most bloggers will suggest doing that.

But I personally don’t like managing my domains under a web hosting account. I prefer to have them separated.

Here’s the thing:

It might make sense to have everything under one roof, given the convenience of not having to manage different accounts.

But chances are you might want to move to another web host at some point down the road…

… and it could be inconvenient to migrate the domain from your web host to another.

So to avoid any unnecessary hassles, I always buy and manage all my domains with a domain registrar that has nothing to do with the web hosting company I use.

And Namecheap is what I use. You can use other companies like Cloudflare if you want, but I think Namecheap is, hands down, the best domain registrar available on the market.

Here’s why:

  • Their prices are one of, if not the most competitive on the market.
  • They give you WhoisGuard (privacy protection) for free forever.
  • Their customer service is phenomenal.

And whenever I want to build a website, I’d just log in to my Namecheap dashboard and connect the domain to a hosting plan for WordPress installation.

That way, I have absolute control over my domains if I ever want to make any changes.

Now, let’s search for your domain name on Namecheap and see if it’s available.

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Add the .com one to cart and checkout. On the checkout page, you’ll see the WhoisGuard (again, privacy protection) is included for free forever, which usually isn’t the case for other companies.

PS: Choose a .com domain if possible. If the .com is taken, a .net or .co is fine. Don’t spend too much time on this step.

And with that, you have registered a domain name. Next up, let’s talk about web hosting.

Chapter 3:

Pick a Web Hosting Plan

I’ve used HostGator, Bluehost, and SiteGround in the past; WPX Hosting is what I currently use.

WPX Hosting is great. I’m happily hosting with them so far.

But I think I’m going to switch to another host in the near future, so I’m not sure if I should recommend it. Plus, their pricing options are not as beginner-friendly as others.

SiteGround is great — they use high-speed servers and have great customer support.

(Though not so great from my personal experience.)

But their prices are also relatively higher than others.

Due to their prices and my personal experience, I wouldn’t recommend it.

But if you have the budget to play around, feel free to check it out.

Bluehost — The Best Web Hosting Company?

HostGator and Bluehost are the OGs in the web hosting space.

But it seems like ever since they got bought out by the conglomerate (EIG), their focus has been mainly on increasing revenue instead of improving their products and services.

I don’t have much real-life experience with them in recent years. If you ever think of hosting your website with them, I’d recommend checking out their Trustpilot profiles.

That said, I know every other blogger and their grandma out there is aggressively promoting Bluehost, so I won’t say never ever use Bluehost.

In fact, I walk you through further down this guide on how to create your website with Bluehost, apart from the two companies I recommend in this guide.

So in the end you’ll have three choices. Whichever you choose, it’s your call.

My Top Picks

The two companies that I recommend are NameHero and Hostinger. For the most part, they offer similar bells and whistles, but let’s look at their pros and cons.

  • Offers one of the most affordable prices on the market.
  • Uses high-performance LiteSpeed servers for all plans.
  • Global data centers across different regions to choose from.
  • Simple and user-friendly account dashboard (hPanel).
  • Excellent reviews on Trustpilot.
  • Only 1 email account is allowed and SSH access isn’t supported on their basic Single Shared Hosting plan.
  • Use Cloudflare free CDN as one of their selling points. Really, anyone could get it for free.

PS: A day after I published this guide, I stumbled upon an article by Tom from Online Media Masters about how Hostinger creates fake reviews online and does a bunch of shady stuff to get people to use their service.

If that conflicts with your values, feel free to ignore my recommendation for Hostinger and go with NameHero (or Bluehost if you want). I only tested their performance and customer support for a short period, and I was pretty happy with what I found and their value for money.

  • Uses high-performance LiteSpeed servers for all plans.
  • Offers automatic nightly backups and malware protection for free, applicable to all plans.
  • Provides true cloud hosting solutions by hosting all websites on their private cloud. Yep, that applies to all plans too.
  • offers Cloudflare Railgun™ (worth $200/mo) for free for all plans.
  • Excellent reviews on Trustpilot.
  • only have data centers in the US and Netherlands to choose from.
  • NVMe storage is available on higher plans (though SSD is still the norm now).
  • Still uses traditional cPanel, which is a little complicated (and frustrated) to use.

As to Bluehost — frankly, there isn’t much good to say about them. I mean, they still use Apache servers to host their websites, which is relatively inefficient these days.

Just look at their hosting plans and you’ll notice everything is pretty much the same as years ago, they haven’t changed much even though their competitors are miles ahead.

They still require you to go with the Choice Plus plan to get free domain privacy protection.

As aforementioned, Namecheap has been offering that for free for a long time.

And please forget the Free CDN feature listed on their website. That’s actually Cloudflare’s CDN and anyone can create a free account and enjoy that feature.

However, I do think their foolproof Bluehost Portal is pretty well-designed. Especially for complete beginners to get their hands on.

But newbies won’t be a newbie forever. Once they get the hang of it, they probably won’t need all those superfluous features, no?

To help you choose the right host, I subscribed to all three companies, installed WordPress and Kadence theme, cloned my own site over, and ran some speed tests to find out who performs best.

Bear in mind, though, this is not a comprehensive test over a period of time.

I just ran a simple test on Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom to give you some idea about how each of them performs.

So please take it with a grain of salt.

First, I ran all three sites on Google PageSpeed Insights. And here are how they performed on Desktop:

Hostinger:

NameHero:

Bluehost:

And here are their performances on Mobile:

Hostinger:

NameHero:

Bluehost:

Then, I ran a test on Pingdom for each of them. And here are how they performed:

Hostinger:

NameHero:

Bluehost:

As you can see, Hostinger and NameHero's test results are really close to each other. So you can't go wrong with either one, really.

On the other hand, Bluehost's performance falls a little behind. But that's expected since they still use Apache servers.

I hope this gives you an idea about what you can expect from these companies.

Anyway, Bluehost still is the most recommended web host out there. They offer the most affiliate payouts and do not require an application to become an affiliate, after all.

With all that being said, when it comes to web hosting, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Everybody has different needs.

And so, whichever you pick, I’m cool with that.

But before you make your final decision, I figure you might be interested in their refund processes and experiences.

Requesting a Refund

After finish creating this guide, I requested a refund from three of them. In short, they all agreed to process a full refund for me. But the experiences were a little different.

This is my best refund experience of all. First and foremost, they use Intercom for their live chat service.

This may sound stupid, but I've always had great customer support experience with companies that use Intercom. So that's that.

Anyway, I left a message on their live chat service, and one of their CSRs got back to me hours later. Here's how the conversation went:

The entire refund process was smooth, and I'm pretty happy with it.

NameHero's refund process isn't as straightforward as the other two. You need to submit an Account Cancellation Request along with your reason for cancellation and wait for the approval.

One thing though:

If you check NameHero's payment policy, it clearly states that they will charge a setup fee should you cancel your account and request a refund.

And so here's what I wrote in the request:

Greetings! I want to cancel my account and request a refund. I was writing a step-by-step guide about starting a blog to promote NameHero as an affiliate, so I set up this test account to test the performance and user-friendliness. I also wanted to familiarize myself with the account setup and other stuff to provide comprehensive details in the post.

Now that the post is complete, I no longer need this account. So please cancel this account and process a refund for my order. Upon checking NameHero's refund policy, I notice that a setup fee would be charged should I opt to cancel my account. I was wondering if it's possible to void that fee for me?

Thank you,
Kim

They ended up agreeing to void that setup fee and process a full refund for me.

I'm not sure if they agreed to void that setup fee because I'm an affiliate or they're just generous, but bear in mind that your experience might vary.

The entire process did require more steps, but they responded to my request in less than 24 hours. So it's all good.

Bluehost's refund process is fairly similar to Hostinger's. I contacted their customer support via live chat and answered some questions and they processed the refund for me.

The only difference is that I didn't mention I'm an affiliate.

And here's how it went:

The entire process went smoothly, though the CSR did ask a couple more questions than the other two.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with all of them since they agreed to process a full refund for me promptly.

However, these are just my personal experiences. Please treat them as a reference and take them with a grain of salt.

If you decide to subscribe and for whatever reason have a bad experience with their customer support, no angry emails, please.

Here's a little comparison table to help you make your decision:

  • Hostinger
    $0.99
    PER MONTH
    Crazily affordable pricing options
    High-speed LiteSpeed servers
    Global data centers
    Simple and user-friendly UI
    Phenomenal customer support
  • NameHero
    $2.69
    PER MONTH
    True cloud hosting solutions
    High-speed LiteSpeed servers
    Free automatic backups & malware protection
    Free Cloudflare Railgun™
    Phenomenal customer support
  • Bluehost
    $2.95
    PER MONTH
    Beginner-friendly onboarding process
    Most recommended due to affiliate hype
    Decent customer support
    Feel free to try if you want
    Just don't forget to use my links 🙂

With that, let's move to the WordPress installation.

Install WordPress

To make this guide comprehensive, I show you how to choose your web hosting plan from Hostinger, NameHero, and Bluehost and install WordPress to your site.

So whichever you chose in the previous step, I’ve got you covered. Now choose your preferred web host and get started.

On Hostinger’s website, click See Pricing to view available plans.

There are three shared hosting plans to choose from. For this example, I’ll go with the Single Shared Hosting plan.

You could start with the same plan if you plan only to have one website. But note that with the Single Shared Hosting plan, you could only have 1 email account, 2 SQL databases, no SSH access, 2 subdomains, and 1 FTP account.

So compare the plans and make your decision.

Next, you need to choose your contract. Obviously, the longer the contract, the more you’re going to save.

Personally, I don't like to commit for so long. Especially I know that I might probably shift to other companies anytime soon.

But that’s just me. It might not make sense for you. So choose whatever does.

  1. Make sure the selected plan is correct.
  2. Choose a plan that makes the most sense to you. Don’t forget to look at the plan renewal rate below the price.

Next, create an account with your primary email address.

And complete the payment.

Once the payment is made, your order is confirmed. Now, create a secured password for your Hostinger account.

On the welcome page, click Start Now.

Then you’ll be asked to get a domain. If you’ve been following along, you should already have your domain registered.

But in case you haven’t, you can do it now.

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

So select the Use an Existing Domain option and enter your domain name and click Continue.

Next is to let them know if you need their help. For this example, I’ll skip it.

Before finishing the setup, double-check your domain name and decide where you want to host your website by clicking the edit icon.

Depending on where you want to grow your blog, you might want to host your blog there. For this example, I’ll choose North America (USA).

Now, click Finish Setup.

Your account dashboard shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to prepare. And when it’s ready, click Manage Site to log in.

Instead of using the traditional cPanel, Hostinger has its own hPanel, making managing your website backend a breeze.

I love how simple and organized everything is. If you’ve ever used cPanel in the past, you should know how unnecessarily complicated it is compared to hPanel.

Next up, let’s grab the nameservers to link your Namecheap domain to your Hostinger account.

In your hPanel dashboard, under Accounts section, click Details.

Then you should see Hostinger’s nameservers on your screen. You want to enter them in your Namecheap account dashboard to connect them.

Copy the first nameserver. The second nameserver is basically the same as the first one. Just replace the 1 with 2 will do.

Head over to your Namecheap account, find your domain and click MANAGE.

Under the NAMESERVERS section, do the following:

  1. Change the Namecheap BasicDNS to Custom DNS.
  2. Paste the nameserver you’d copied previously into both fields, then change the second one from ns1 to ns2.
  3. Click the tick icon to save it.

You’ll see this message that reads: “DNS server update may take up to 48 hours to take effect.”

But from my experience, it usually takes much less time to complete the propagation.

While waiting for the propagation to complete, head back to your hPanel and enable SSL on your blog.

From your Hostinger account dashboard, click SSL on the menu bar.

If for some reason, your SSL certificate status shows ACTIVE, you can skip to the next step.

But if it shows PENDING DATA ENTRY (which it should), click Setup.

Select your domain and click Install SSL.

SSL is successfully installed. Great.

Next up, we’re going to install WordPress.

From your Hostinger account dashboard, find and click Auto Installer.

Select WordPress.

Create your WordPress login details:

  • Administrator Username: a username or an email that you use to log in to WordPress.
  • Administrator Password: create a secured password for your WordPress login.
  • Administrator Email: your email address to receive notifications about your WordPress site.
  • Website Title: just enter something, you can change it later in WordPress.
  • WordPress Version: I recommend using WordPress 5.5.x or above, but feel free to choose anything you want.

Then, click Install below.

After the installation is complete, you should see a WordPress section in your hPanel. Click Dashboard.

Under Core, toggle on Force HTTPs. And under Speed & Security, toggle on LiteSpeed for high-speed performance.

With that, it's time to configure WordPress settings. On the same page, click EDIT WEBSITE to log in to your WordPress dashboard.

On NameHero’s website, compare the plans and decide which one suits you best.

If you’re just starting out and don’t plan to launch multiple blogs simultaneously, I recommend Started Cloud.

Given the significantly higher renewal price, I recommend choosing their 3-year plan for maximum savings.

If you’ve been following along, you should already have your domain registered via Namecheap.

But in case you haven’t, you can do it now.

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Choose the final option to use your existing domain, enter your domain, and click Use.

I like NameHero because they don’t pre-tick all the stupid upsells for you upon checking out.

I’m a simple guy — that’s how I define great companies. 😀

On this page, you get to add-on DropMySite Auto Backups and Automatic Malware Scanning for an additional monthly cost.

Please note that NameHero already provides automatic cPanel backup for free, but the retention is limited to one day. Meaning after one day, your backups will be deleted and there’s no way to retrieve them.

However, with DropMySite, you’ll get up to 30 days of retention, which is much more useful. But if you’re new, it can wait.

As to the malware scanning, I believe this is an advanced version of the free one. I’d use the free version first and see how it performs.

Whenever you’re ready, click Continue.

Review your order and make sure it doesn’t contain anything you don’t want. A one-time discount should be automatically applied.

If everything is good, click Checkout.

Enter your personal details and billing information. But note the following:

  1. Create a support 4-digit PIN for your account. When you contact support in the future, they will need this to verify your identity.
  2. Be mindful of the renewal cost when your contract ends. NameHero’s normal prices are dramatically higher than their “new customer” prices, that’s why I recommended choosing the 3-year plan.

Remember to read their Terms of Service and Payment Policy. Then check the box if you agree and click Complete Order.

After completing the order, you should land on the Client Area.

Find your web hosting plan under Your Active Products/Services, then click it.

Next up, you want to grab the nameservers to link your Namecheap domain to your NameHero account.

Copy the first nameserver. The second nameserver is basically the same as the first one. Just replace the 1 with 2 will do.

Head over to your Namecheap account, find your domain and click MANAGE.

Under the NAMESERVERS section, do the following:

  1. Change the Namecheap BasicDNS to Custom DNS.
  2. Paste the nameserver you’d copied previously into both fields, then change the second one from ns111 to ns112.
  3. Click the tick icon to save it.

You’ll see this message that reads: “DNS server update may take up to 48 hours to take effect.”

But from my experience, it usually takes much less time to complete the propagation.

After that, it’s time to configure your WordPress.

Head back to your NameHero account dashboard, and click Login to cPanel.

Under the SOFTWARE section, find and click WordPress Manager by Softaculous.

WordPress Management:

  1. It should show No WordPress Installations found.
  2. If so, click Install.

Now, let’s configure your WordPress installation:

  1. Decide what WordPress version you want to install. WordPress 5.5.x (or above) is great, and I recommend it.
  2. You can leave the Choose Protocol as is. The SSL will be activated automatically anyway. Enter your domain and make sure the In Directory field is empty.
  3. Enter your site name. You can change it in WordPress.
  4. Enter a site description; anything is fine. You can change it later.
  5. Create an admin username for your WordPress site. It could be a username or an email.
  6. Create a secured password.
  7. Enter your email address to receive WordPress notifications.
  8. Then, click Install.

A few minutes later, the installation should be complete.

Find your Administrative URL and ready to log in to WordPress.

On Bluehost’s website, click Get Started.

Choosing a plan:

  1. Decide how long you want to host your website with Bluehost. I’m not gonna judge, I promise. 🙂
  2. If you’re just starting out and don’t plan to launch multiple blogs simultaneously, I recommend going with the BASIC plan.

PS: If you ever thought about choosing the CHOICE PLUS plan because you want the Free Domain Privacy, please don’t.

Namecheap provides that for free, forever.

If you’ve been following along, you should already have your domain registered via Namecheap.

But in case you haven’t, you can do it now.

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Choose Use a domain you own and enter your domain then click Next.

Or you could skip this step for now and click I’ll create my domain later.

Customizing your package:

  1. Fill in personal information.
  2. Make sure your Account Plan is correct.
  3. Some of these boxes might be pre-ticked, double-check, and only tick those you really need.
  4. Enter your credit card details for payment purposes.
  5. Read the Auto Renewal Terms and note the next renewal rates.
  6. Read their Terms of Service, Cancellation Policy, and Privacy Notice. Check the box if you agree with them.
  7. Submit your order.

Once your order is confirmed, click Create Account.

Create a secured password, agree to the terms, and click Create Account.

Your account is ready to go. Great.

Click the button to log in.

Next, log in to your Bluehost account dashboard.

Bluehost has created a series of redundant questions to onboard you. Feel free to skip them if you’re impatient.

First question — how much help do you want?

Next, choose what kind of site you’re creating.

For some reason, Bluehost wants to know if you’re comfortable with creating websites. So tell them.

Now, they want to know more about your site.

Then, tell them what you’d like them to add to your site for you.

Alright, finally a useful question. Enter the name and the tagline of your site.

Phew, finally you’re in.

You should see a bunch of guides in your Bluehost Portal. Kudos to Bluehost for going out of their way to help beginners get started.

Now, let’s grab the nameservers and connect your Namecheap domain to your Bluehost account.

In your Bluehost Portal, click Domains, then click Manage.

Copy the first nameserver. The second nameserver is basically the same as the first one. Just replace the 1 with 2 will do.

Head over to your Namecheap account, find your domain and click MANAGE.

Under the NAMESERVERS section, do the following:

  1. Change the Namecheap BasicDNS to Custom DNS.
  2. Paste the nameserver you’d copied previously into both fields, then change the second one from ns1 to ns2.
  3. Click the tick icon to save it.

You’ll see this message that reads: “DNS server update may take up to 48 hours to take effect.”

But from my experience, it usually takes much less time to complete the propagation.

With that, it’s time to configure WordPress settings.

On the homepage of your Bluehost Portal, click Log in to WordPress.

There you go, you've successfully installed WordPress to your blog. Next up, we're gonna talk about how to configure your WordPress settings.

See you in the next step.

Chapter 4:

Configure WordPress Settings

Now that you’re logged in to your WordPress blog, let’s first set up some basic stuff.

Customize Settings

In your WordPress dashboard, click Settings. You should now in the General tab.

  1. You should have your Site Title and Tagline configured during the WordPress installation. But if you haven’t, you can do it here.
  2. Make sure to change both of the URLs from http:// to https://.
  3. Make sure your Administration Email Address is correct for admin purposes.
  4. Configure your Site Language and Timezone if you need to.
  5. Configure your Date and Time settings if you need to.
  6. Then Save Changes.

Next, under Settings, click Reading.

Under Your homepage displays, the default option should be Your latest posts.

You can keep that option selected until you have a custom landing page designed for lead generation purposes, then you can change it to A static page.

But it’s perfectly fine to keep displaying your latest posts on your homepage. Many established blogs still do that.

Under Search engine visibility, make sure the box is unchecked. You want search engines to index your site.

Next up, let’s configure some settings to prevent spam. Under Settings, click Discussion.

  1. I chose to untick both of these options to avoid unwantedly linking to spammy blogs. You can have them ticked if you want to enable pingbacks and trackbacks.
  2. To prevent spam comments, make sure you tick this option to require comment authors to fill out their names and emails.
  3. I like to get notified whenever a comment comes in and is held for moderation.
  4. I highly suggest ticking both of these options to prevent spam.

Last but not least, move over to Permalinks and change the Permalink Settings to Post name.

You want your post URLs to be SEO friendly, so try to make it short and sweet.

Create a Menu

Now, let’s create a basic main menu so you have something to show on your blog.

In your WordPress dashboard, click Appearance then select Menus.

Then, do the following:

  1. Click create a new menu.
  2. Name the menu whatever you want. Others won’t see it.
  3. Choose where to display the menu. The options here may vary depending on your theme, but let’s just choose the Primary Menu for now.

I like to keep my navigation menu simple, so I only have four pages on it.

Now, let’s talk about how to create them one by one.

Home

To add a link to my homepage, I used Custom Links.

Under Add menu items, click Custom Links to expand the section.

  1. In the URL field, enter the homepage of your blog.
  2. Decide the Link Text you want it to be on the menu.
  3. Click Add to Menu.

Blog

To showcase all my blog posts under one section, I created a category called Blog.

To do that, head over to Posts, click Categories, then Add New Category.

In the Name field, enter what you want to appear on the menu. In the Slug field, it should be the same as the Category Name.

But if your Category Name is longer than one word, then the Slug will have a hyphen between those words.

Now head back to the Menus, you should be able to add the Category that you’ve just created to the menu.

About & Contact

The last two on my navigation menu are About page and Contact page.

These are the easy ones. Just click Pages from the sidebar and Add New to create two new pages.

To create a great About page, I recommend checking out this post by Neil Patel and this post from Copyblogger for some really awesome tips.

For the Contact page, I use the Form feature in Kadence Blocks. It’s free and a must-have — more on that later.

After you add all the items to your menu, you can rearrange them however you want by dragging them up or down.

And when you're done, click Save Menu.

With that, you’ve completed the basic WordPress settings. Great job!

In the next step, we’re gonna talk about WordPress themes and customizing the design.

Chapter 5:

Pick a Free Theme

If WordPress is completely foreign to you, I recommend you start with a free theme.

Here’s the thing:

If you’re a new blogger, being able to pump out content onto your blog is far more important than having your blog designed well.

In the beginning, probably no one will notice your blog, anyway.

(Except, of course, yourself and your mom.)

So a free theme is more than enough to begin with.

Fun fact:

While researching for a free WordPress theme, I stumbled upon Kadence WP — a theme launched a couple of months ago and has been all the rage ever since.

I tried it out, and guess what?

I grabbed their Black Friday deal for the lifetime membership that’s inclusive of all of their products.

I spent a little over a day to customize the theme and let me tell you this:

I absolutely love it!

Before this, I was using the Johannes theme by the Meks team. It's a great theme, and I liked it.

But to make it look amazing, I had to install many plugins to make all those customizations possible.

As a result, pages became really heavy.

Kadence, on the other hand, has many built-in features that I had to install plugins on Johannes — and other themes for that matter — to make those features work.

And Kadence theme and its features are optimized so well to work together.

Meaning I could remove a bunch of unnecessary plugins and still be able to optimize the page loading speed from these:

To these:

The desktop test might not be much different, but the mobile one is huge. Kadence is over 100% faster than Johannes on mobile.

Pretty impressive.

The good news for you is that you can download Kadence theme for free. Or you could get the Pro version to unlock some really amazing features.

To install free Kadence theme, in your WordPress dashboard, click Appearance then Themes.

At the top of your screen, click Add New.

Type in Kadence to the search bar on the top right, then click the Install button.

Once the installation is complete, click Activate to activate the theme.

You’ve installed the best WordPress theme of 2020 (possibly 2021 too). Great job.

Now, I can’t show you every little detail about customizing your blog because design is a highly subjective matter.

What matters to me might not matter to you.

So I recommend playing around for yourself and getting familiar with the theme options and the entire WordPress dashboard.

If you ever feel stuck, feel free to visit Kadence’s Knowledge Base for guidance.

PS: If you're a Kadence Pro user, you can use their support ticket system, should you encounter any issues or need help in any way. Their support is phenomenal — personally tried and tested by yours truly.

With that, let’s talk about the essential plugins that you should have on your blog.

Chapter 6:

Install Essential Plugins

Plugins allow us to achieve results we wouldn’t otherwise be possible without knowing how to code or hiring a web developer.

But installing too many plugins on your blog is a recipe for disaster. Your site will get heavy and load slowly.

No good.

So to find a balance, you should only install plugins that you truly need and are essential.

Now let’s talk about a couple of plugins that I think you should have installed on your site:

1. Kadence Blocks

With WordPress 5.5 update, the Gutenberg editor is getting much better. But Kadence Blocks gives you even more flexibility and functionality to customize your content.

The best part?

Kadence Blocks is optimized to work well with Kadence theme for optimal performance. So install it with peace of mind.

And it’s free. There’s a pro version if you need, but feel free to play around with the free one.

In fact, if you have Kadence Blocks Pro, you should be able to customize your pages however you want.

Meaning unless you want to do some really advanced stuff, you probably don’t need a full-blown page builder like Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder, etc.

Pro Tip: Use the Form feature in Kadence Blocks to create a contact form for your Contact page. One fewer plugin to install on your site.

2. Rank Math SEO

Rank Math SEO is the best free SEO WordPress plugin that helps optimize your posts, pages, and site for better Google rankings.

It also integrates with Google services to provide your analytics in one place to see how well your posts are doing within WordPress.

And a bunch of more other features, all for free.

PS: They've recently launched Rank Math PRO, but please do some research and see if you really need it. I use the free version and don't see myself upgrading anytime soon.

3. Header and Footer Scripts

Sometimes you need to add a code snippet to the header or footer section of your site for verification or tracking purposes…

… this is a great (and free) plugin to do that without having to mess with the site’s coding.

4. ShortPixel Image Optimizer

Images are one of the main reasons why sites are loading slowly. This plugin automatically compresses images on your site without sacrificing the image quality.

Unless you compare the before and after side by side, I doubt you can spot any difference.

I used to manually compress images on Optimizilla before uploading them to my site…

… but after doing some tests, I realized ShortPixel could compress the images to smaller sizes while keeping them at a higher quality.

So I’d say ShortPixel is definitely a must-have plugin on your site.

5. Pretty Links Lite

If affiliate marketing is one of your monetization strategies, you’re gonna need this.

Essentially, what it does is it prettifies your long affiliate links that are full of random numbers and letters, so they look nice and clean.

For instance, my ClickFunnels affiliate link may look like this:

https://clickfunnels.com/?cf_affiliate_id=1478732&affiliate_id=1478732&aff_sub=dashboard&aff_sub2=trial

But after prettification, it becomes this:

https://kimkoh.com/ref/clickfunnels

Much better, right?

6. WP Rocket (Paid) / W3 Total Cache (Free)

Caching plugins are essential to cache your site pages and posts, minify the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript on your site, and so on.

Both WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache are great and allow you to tweak the settings the way you want.

I’ve compared the performance between the two, and honestly, the difference is insignificant.

But WP Rocket does offer more features that work pretty much out of the box, and for that, I like it better than W3 Total Cache.

If you’re willing to pay, I’d say go for WP Rocket. But if you want a free one, W3 Total Cache is more than enough to get you started.

7. (Optional) Akismet Anti-Spam

This is a great tool to protect your blog from spam. If you only have one site, you can choose the personal plan, which is free.

If your blog is new, you probably don’t need it just yet. So only use it if you need it.

Chapter 7:

Write Your First Blog Post

I have a confession:

As a new blogger myself, I’m still learning to write blog posts without judging my writing.

That’s precisely why there aren’t many posts (yet) on my blog — guiltily struggling with perfectionism.

But I want to keep this guide comprehensive and provide you enough value to help you get started…

… so, I decided to include content from two bloggers and marketers that I respect for you to learn from.

This definitive guide by Brian Dean covers everything you need to know to write your first blog post.

Brian Dean is my absolute favorite person in the entire blogosphere. I highly recommend subscribing to him everywhere possible.

Another one is Neil Patel. Though his writing style doesn’t stand out to me, I admire his authenticity and the amount of value he provides on his blog and YouTube channel.

And here’s one of his videos about writing a blog post:

Bonus Chapter:

How to Make Money from Your Blog

Honestly, there are just so many ways to make money from your blog that I don’t think it makes sense to list them all out.

So I’m just going to share a couple of my personal favorites based on my past five years’ experience in the internet marketing space.

1. Affiliate Marketing

This is hands down my absolute favorite way to monetize a blog.

If you run a personal or affiliate blog like me, affiliate marketing is undoubtedly your best bet.

In fact, the guide that you’re reading now is the real-life practice of it.

I researched and tested a bunch of web hosting companies and weed out those I won’t personally use.

Then I wrote a step-by-step guide to show you how to start a blog with the web hosting companies I recommend and would personally use.

And if you make a purchase through my links, I’ll make a commission.

(Did you click my links to purchase, though?)

The great thing is that I don’t have to deal with after-sale service.

Because I bring in new customers and revenue to the company, they happily pay me a portion of that revenue as a commission.

Awesome.

2. Partnerships / Sponsorships

Generally speaking, how this works is that you’re getting paid by a brand or company to promote their products to your readers.

To do that, you need to have already figured out who your audience is and have a consistent readership every month.

When you get to that point, you could add this to your arsenal of monetization strategies.

3. Display Advertising

This may not be the greatest monetization strategy in your arsenal, but it can still be a great source of income with the right implementation.

Ad networks like MediaVine, AdThrive, Google Adsense, etc., offer to pay you a certain amount of money per 1,000 impressions — aka Cost Per Mille (CPM) or Revenue Per Mille (RPM) — to display their clients’ ads on your website.

Depending on your niche, your CPM or RPM could be significantly higher or lower than others.

And suffice to say, to generate meaningful income from this, you need to have a tremendous amount of monthly readers.

4. Digital Products

Once you have developed expertise that people want to learn, you could start creating digital products like online courses and ebooks for sale.

Brian Dean used to be an affiliate blogger before launching Backlinko. When he eventually decided to go the authority route, he started providing insane amounts of value on Backlinko and only making money with online courses.

Nathan Barry, the founder of ConvertKit, had written several ebooks and sold them for great profits. Here’s one of his posts about how to make a full-time income from a book.

So these are the monetization strategies that I would personally use. If you need more inspiration, check out my post about more ways to make money online

So… What Do You Think?

Now I want to hear from you.

What do you think of this step-by-step guide?

Which web hosting company have you decided to go for?

Let me know in the comment section below.

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