Learn how to easily set up a WordPress blog on Bluehost with this step by step tutorial and create your first blog post in as little as 20 minutes!
How to create a blog using WordPress can be intimidating if you are new to blogging. But in this post I’m going to show that it’s surprisingly simple! You don’t need a lot of money to get started either, Bluehost has great packages for beginners that start as low as $3.95 per month, which include a FREE domain name and unlimited bandwidth.
This way you can quickly make your money back without having to worry about overhead cost!
In this step by step tutorial, I’m going to show you:
- How to use WordPress on Bluehost
- How to start a WordPress blog
- How to publish a WordPress blog
- How to change your username in WordPress (to make your site more secure)
- How to install and change a WordPress theme
- How to customize a WordPress theme
I’m also giving you a list of really useful tools to install and use to make your blog successful.
I have been blogging for 8 years and it has completely changed my life.
It’s helped me branch out as a food and product photographer, recipe developer and food stylist. Blogging allows me to work from home and choose my own hours. I can also take long vacations and work from anywhere in the world.
You can’t beat that.
My blog has over 750 recipes, 10,000 subscribers, 400,000 monthly visitors, and my work has been featured in publications such as Bon Appetit, The Cooking Channel, Self, Shape, Country Living, Woman’s Day, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Fitness and Prevention.
And last year I made $127,000!
Anyone can make money with a blog, all you need is a hosting company, a domain name and access to WordPress.
Also, you don’t have to wait until you have a bunch of posts published before you can start making a few bucks. There are plenty of affiliate programs that are easy to join like Shareasale, Amazon Affiliate and Rakuten Network.
But before you fill out those forms, let’s get you set up with hosting.
Disclosure: This post contain affiliate links of products I use and highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.
The first thing you will need is a hosting company
The first step to creating a successful blog is to find a good hosting company.
If you want to be serious about blogging, DO NOT start a blog for free.
It’s very difficult to make money on a free blogging platform because you have limited control over it. The templates are basic and don’t look authoritative. Visitors to your blog will see you as someone who blogs as a hobby instead of taking you seriously. Companies also don’t like to work with blogs that are hosted on free platforms (sponsored posts, direct advertising, etc).
It’s best to start on the right foot to avoid having to deal with unnecessary problems in the future, such as moving your blog to a proper hosting company and doing 301 redirects on all your links. If you have a solid base to build your blog upon, you are golden.
Think about this for a minute:
- Bluehost offers deals for as little as $3.95 per month, which is less than a chai latte at Starbucks!
- You are investing in your future and creating your own freedom. Isn’t that worth something?
Bluehost is one of the most established and well-known hosting brands on the internet. They are excellent for beginners and starting websites because their platform is so easy to use. Here are some of the advantages you get with Bluehost:
- Free domain name (the name of your website – you usually have to pay for this separately).
- Free access to WordPress.
- Free email address.
- Bandwidth is unmetered – this means you don’t have to worry about your blog crashing if it suddenly gets a ton of traffic. Whether you get 5 people or 10,000 people visiting, you will be charged the same amount. That’s huge!
- Extensive library of training videos (Installing a WordPress theme, setting up mail, how to embed a video, etc…) Their videos make it easy for everyone to successfully build a website.
- Full refund if you cancel your account within 30 days. Or prorated refund for the remainder of your hosting term if you cancel Bluehost after 30 days.
- 24-hour technical support via chat, ticket or by phone.
How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost
2. Select Your Plan
There are three options to choose from – basic, plus and prime. Since you are just getting started, I recommend going for the cheaper plan which is all you need. You can always upgrade later (I did so after two years).
3. Choosing Your Domain Name
The domain name is the name of your website (mine is pickledplum.com). There are no additional charges to this since Bluehost gives it to you for free!
Finding a domain name can be difficult since many of them are already taken. But don’t let this deter you! Think of word combinations that represent what you will be blogging about.
Blogging about photography? Then try snap, photos, foto, pix, frame, shutter, etc…
If you are having trouble finding something that’s available, the other option is to make up a word that stands out and is easy to remember.
I chose Pickled Plum because I wanted a name that represented my Japanese roots (I’m half Japanese). I’ve had a love affair with umeboshi (Japanese for pickled plum) since I was a little girl so naming my blog after these pickled delicacies seemed appropriate.
The key is to not overthink here because you will drive yourself crazy!
Remember that your goal is to create content so you can start making money blogging. Just pick something you like, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and go with it. If you decide later that you really don’t like it, you can always change it.
I also recommend going with a .com over .net or .co since it’s more common and looks more authoritative. My blog used to be pickledplum.net because when I was looking to purchase it, .com was taken. I stayed with .net for a while but as my blog grew, I was ready to move it to a .com.
I contacted the person who owned the .com extension and was able to purchase it for a reasonable price. Best decision ever!
Imagine if I had waited for pickledplum.com to become available – I may have never started a blog!
4. Bluehost Pricing (Selecting The Best Plan)
This is where you decide how much you would like to spend on your hosting. As you can see, the monthly fee is cheaper if you sign up for 36 months than if you went with 12 months.
My recommendation is to go with 36 months and this is the reason why:
If you decide to cancel your account after 12 months, Bluehost will refund you for the 24 months you haven’t used.
So no matter how you look at it, the cheaper monthly fee will always be better since you can cancel anytime, and get your money for the unused months back!
Canceling is also super easy. Customer service is very helpful and nice too! There’s no jumping through hoops to get to your refund, it’s all done in a very straight forward manner.
You can uncheck all the other options for now since you technically don’t need them.
If anything I would recommend choosing the Site Backup Pro (it’s always good to have a backup) and the SiteLock Security to prevent hackers and spammers from accessing your blog.
Bluehost has its own security service installed and it’s a very strong one so you don’t need SiteLock, but it’s always good to double up on security for added safety.
For now though, leave them all unchecked as these are services you can add later.
After choosing your plan, enter your payment information and click submit.
Create a password and, Congratulations! You can now access your Bluehost account which will automatically take you to the WordPress installation process.
Installing WordPress In Bluehost
Before we dive into this chapter, let me quickly explain the difference between Bluehost, WordPress, plugins and themes. Since some of you are new at this, understanding what a hosting company is versus a blogging platform versus plugins and themes can be super confusing. I know it since I’ve been there!
So as a just in case, I’ll explain the difference.
Bluehost is where your blog is going to live. Think of Bluehost as an apartment complex where you are renting a space. That’s where your blog is going to live and stay for as long as you want to keep it there.
WordPress is a blogging platform. It’s basically a blank space that you fill with your writing and images, just like the walls of your apartment.
A WordPress theme is the style of your blog, your own personal architect/interior designer! This is where you pick the colors and the layout of your blog.
Plugins are like furniture and ornaments in that they make your room more useful and prettier. If you want a subscription box to your blog page, that would be a plugin you would have to add.
Now let’s install WordPress!
- Log in and in the Welcome page, click on Log in to WordPress.
- Next you will be asked about the kind of site you would like to set up – business or personal. That’s totally up to you or you can skip this step and click on I don’t need help.
- The next page is Pick A Theme That Inspires You. Don’t sit on this for too long as you will be able to change your theme later.
I find that it’s better to pick a random one (the ones offered are FREE), write a couple of posts and change it afterward. The reason for this is because it’s hard to know what your blog will exactly look like without any content in it.
Most bloggers (if not all!) will go through several themes before settling on one they like. It took me almost four years and five complete redesigns before I felt truly satisfied with the esthetics of my blog. Even now I constantly find ways to make it better and more user friendly!
How To Use WordPress On Bluehost And Publish A Post
Now that you are set up with WordPress you will be logging into your blog from a url that looks like this -> yourdomainname.com/wp-admin (replace yourdomain with the name of your blog).
You don’t need to log into to Bluehost to have access to WordPress.
This link will take you to a page with a login box like this one.
If you didn’t pick your own username and password, I strongly suggest you do so.
Now usually the default username given is admin but I suggest changing it into something else since hackers know about this, which makes your site more vulnerable. Pick a username that you can remember, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as the password, and then save it (more on this below).
Now that you are inside WordPress, click on Posts and Add New to create your very first post.
As you can see, there are a lot of functions you can use within a post, but there are a few important ones you should know about.
- Add Media button. This is where you can add images and videos to your posts. Click on the button and you will be taken to another window where you can upload your content.
- Add a link. Highlight the words you would like to link and click on the chain to add the url.
- Publish Immediately. This is great because you can schedule your posts to go live on a specific date. I use this with every single one of my posts since I usually have about a month’s worth of content pre-shot and written. Click Edit and choose a publishing date.
- Preview. This shows you what your WordPress blog post is going to look like.
- Save Draft. The most important button as far as I’m concerned. Get used to saving your drafts as often as you can in case you accidentally close your window, get booted out of WordPress or something crashes and ends your connection. The last thing you want is to lose hours of hard work and see it vanish before your eyes, like it never existed!
- Text shows you the HTML of your page. For example, if you wanted to add a banner to your page, you would click on text and add the html code there so that it comes up as an image on the visual side.
- Edit button is to change the url of your post. I ONLY recommend changing the url BEFORE the post is published. Changing it after can cause 404 errors and you could lose traffic from sites that were linking to that specific page. Changing the url is good for titles that are too long. For example, if you title your post Best Comfort Shoes For Women And Men Over The Age Of 65, by default the url is going to look something like www.yourblogname.com/best-comfort-shoes-women-men-over-age-65. That’s too long! Google doesn’t like long urls, so you could rename it www.yourblogname.com/best-comfort-shoes-for-seniors.
- Paragraph has a drop down menu where you can find H1 to H6 tags which are important to include in a post for seo purposes.
And there you have it. You are minutes away from publishing your first piece of content!
Click the green Publish button when your post is ready to go live.
If you accidentally publish your post while in the midst of creating it (happens to me sometimes), no worries! Just go to Satus and set it to Draft, or click Edit where it says Published, and schedule to publish at a later date.
If you would like more information on how to set up a WordPress website, check out WPBeginner. You will find a wealth of information and tons of tutorials, all WordPress related.
Keep reading as I explain how you can change your username in WordPress, change and install a new theme, and how to customize a theme. I’m also give you a list of useful tools to create a successful blog.
How To Change You Username In WordPress
If your username is the default username in WordPress, it’s a good idea to change it.
Most hackers are aware of this so when they hack into accounts they use the default admin username to access them. Now all they have to figure out is your password and boom, they are in. Changing your username into something else makes it twice as hard for them to get passed the front door.
First, log in to your WordPress account and under Users, click Add New.
- Add your new username under Username. As I previously mentioned, you don’t have to come up with some crazy complicated username that you may not be able to remember later. Anything new is better than the default admin.
- Where the password is, click on Show so you can copy, paste and save it somewhere safe. This password is different than the one you were originally given so make sure to write it down and save it somewhere safe because we are about to delete the admin user.
- Under Role, change it to Administrator.
Click on Add New User and that’s it. Just make sure you have the new username and password saved somewhere!
Now you will need to log out of your account and log back in with your new username and password.
- Log back into WordPress with your new username and password.
- Go to Users -> All users
- Find Admin and delete it.
That’s it, you are done. Now your blog is twice as safe!
Changing Your Theme From Inside WordPress
Every now and then you may feel like your blog needs a makeover.
As your blog takes shape, you might decide that you want to change its style or add certain features that your current theme doesn’t support.
You can start by looking through the FREE themes available in the WordPress Themes section of your dashboard, under Appearance -> Themes.
These are great as a starting point since you can try as many as you want for FREE!
Here you can browse through the free themes available.
Using your cursor, hover over the design you like and click on Live Preview. This will show you what your blog will look like if you choose this theme. If you are happy with what you see, go ahead and click on Activate.
You can easily go back and forth between templates by simply clicking on Activate.
Installing A WordPress Theme That’s Imported
If you decide to import a theme, make sure that it comes from a reliable source. WordPress does NOT recommend you import FREE themes unless they are listed here, in the Official WordPress.org Themes Directory.
I used a FREE theme for the first couple of years of blogging but eventually moved on to something that offered more features and customization options.
As for where I purchase my themes, I go to Studiopress for premium WordPress themes. Their themplates are stunning and offer lots of different functions. The other advantage of using Studiopress themes is that you get special deals – amazing deals – after your first purchase. You never have to pay full price again.
Elegant Themes is also another company I recommend but not because I’ve used them. I know of them through many successful bloggers who are very happy with their templates.
Importing a theme is slightly different but just as easy.
In your WordPress Dashboard, go to:
Appearance -> Themes -> Add New (the button is at the top of the page, above the themes).
Next to Add Themes, click on the Upload Themes button.
Click on Choose File and upload the ZIP file (the zip file will be inside the folder you have downloaded after purchasing the theme). Click on Install Now and click on Activate.
How To Customize A WordPress Theme
Now that you have a theme picked, you can play around with the font sizes, colors, menu and other features.
To customize your theme, go to your WordPress dashboard and click on Appearance -> Customize.
As you can see, I’m using the Brunch Pro Theme which is actually a child theme paired with the Genesis framework.
* WHAT IS A CHILD THEME?
A child theme is a WordPress theme that inherits its functionality from another WordPress theme -> the parent theme. Child themes are often used when you want to customize or tweak an existing WordPress theme without losing the ability to upgrade that theme.
From here you can make all the changes you desire to give your blog the look you have in mind. Every time you click on something you will see a preview on the right side of the screen. So say for example I change the text color from black to pink, I would see the text in pink on the right side.
Once you are happy with the changes, click the green Published button.
Additional Tools To Create A Successful Blog
Now that you know how to set up a blog on WordPress, here are a few additional tools I recommend checking out. You won’t need all of these right away so I suggest you bookmark this page and come back to it later, when it’s time to do some upgrading.
You have published a few posts and now it’s time to see where the traffic is coming from.
Is it coming from organic Google searches or from social media channels like Twitter and Facebook? Or better yet, one of your posts was shared by a big site like Buzzfeed and you are getting a sudden spike in traffic.
First of all, how do you find out that Buzzfeed is sharing your content and which one of your post has gone viral?
That’s exactly what Google Analytics is for. It’s a very powerful FREE web analytics service that shows you where your visitors are from, how long they stay on your bog, which one of your post is the most popular and how your blog is being found.
Installing Google Analytics should be a priority since you need to know what your visitors like about your blog in order to become successful at blogging.
Yoast SEO Plugin
Another FREE tool you should install as soon as you have created your WordPress blog is the Yoast SEO plugin.
SEO (search engine optimization) is basically writing content that’s optimized for organic searches. This means that in order for people to find your posts, you will need to rank high on searches in Google, Bing and other search engines. One way to help your posts gain traction is to focus on seo by adding keywords to your high quality content.
Then Yoast can help you create a sitemap, set up meta titles, shorten you urls, and give you pointers on the content of each of your posts.
There are even colored dots showing you what needs work (red) and what looks good (green).
Once your blog takes off you will want to connect with your readers by sending them weekly newsletters (my traffic always spikes when I send out a newsletter because I have over 10,000 subscribers) or inform them on new products you are selling. If you want to make money as a blogger, it’s essential to have a strong email list!
Your loyal followers will want to know what you are up to and are more likely to purchase something from you than a random visitor to your site. I have three locations for my signup boxes:
- One in my sidebar.
- One that lightbox popup which is a web form that appears on top of the webpage that you are viewing.
- One at the bottom of each post.
I use Optinmonster because they specialize in high converting signup boxes and have a extensive library to choose from. I can also see which boxes are converting well – my lighbox popup converts at 68% versus 23% for the one in the sidebar – and their customer service is by far the best I’ve experienced online. I have the basic package which costs $9/month.
I currently use ActiveCampaign because of their advanced automation system and competitive prices for bloggers with bigger mailing lists.
But for the first three years of my blogging career I used Mailchimp and was very happy with it. The reason being that Mailchimp is FREE to use – 100% FREE – for up to 2,000 subscribers! It’s also very easy to set up since they have tons of beautiful pre-made templates that only need your content added before they can be sent out.
Getting a blog off the ground is a lot of work and part of your job as a blogger is to share your content on social media. The more eyes you can get on your content, the better!
Buffer is a social media management platform that schedules posts, tracks the performance of your content, and manages all your social accounts in one place (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, Linkedin).
By using Buffer, you can schedule content to publish across several social media platforms days ahead of time. This means instead of having to worry about posting stuff a few times a day every day, you can do it once a week by setting up a posting schedule. I’m not 100% sure but I think you can schedule posts up to 3 weeks ahead. This is a huge time saver!
Canva is a wonderful tool for creating graphics for your posts (look at my blue and white polka dot page breaks – that’s done in Canva) to make reading your content easier. When you only have blocks of writing pasted onto your pages, it can be tiring for the eyes to follow.
Breaking up your paragraph with images, infographics and cute designs will liven up your posts and make them more engaging.
You can also create pins for Pinterest and design eye catching graphics for other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Landing Page Builder To Sell Your Product(s)
A landing page builder is essential when you are selling your own product. They look beautiful and convert extremely well.
The pages are also mobile responsive which is extremely important these days since most people use their mobile devices to browse and shop online. This is money well spent when you have a product ready to sell. Since using Leadpages, my ebook sales have tripled!
That’s it for this How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost tutorial. If you have any questions or would like to share some helpful tips, leave a comment at the bottom or send me an email using the contact form. If you liked this post, check out my top 9 Best Affiliate Programs For Food Blogs.