At first glance, WordPress can look daunting. There are a lot of buttons and a lot of options. While it’s great to get to know WordPress as you go (since it is a learning experience), there are some essential things you’ll want to get done as soon as you install WordPress. Don’t feel overwhelmed, WordPress does have a lot going on but it’s not a bad thing.
The additional tools that WordPress offers is to give your advanced features, added security and so much more. If you have’t started your blog yet then feel free to read my post: How to Start a Blog on a Budget. Now let’s get through your WordPress setup guide.
A plugin is what enables you to add extra features to your site. It is basically an additional piece of software that allows you to do whatever that plugin is meant to do. You are going to search for two important plugins to get started and activate one that should already be there.
All your options are located on the left of your screen in a blackish color (see image).
So go to the Plugins menu (just click on the option on the side panel). You should already have some plugins loaded there. You are going to want to “Activate” Akismet Anti Spam. No plugins will work if you do not activate them first. Then read through the other plugins and if you decide not to use them, it’s better to delete them. Extra plugins just takes up memory and can slow down your site. Now let’s add some plugins.
How to Install a plugin
At the top of that Plugins page, you can see a button that says “Add New.” You will then SEARCH, INSTALL AND ACTIVATE.
First you want to add Yoast SEO. This plugin will scan through your posts/pages to analyze the level of SEO in them. You can additionally add extra meta-data to your posts for better SEO.
The second plugin you absolutely need is “Rename wp-login.php.” This plugin will give your site added security by allowing you to change your link to your login page.
How does this give your site a boost of security? Most WordPress sites have the same login link (www. examplesite .com/wp-login.php). Changing the link, will make sure no one can have access to your site and hack it. I know for many people coming up with strong passwords is kind of hard and honestly it sucks to remember long and difficult passwords.
This way if you have an easy-ish password, at least they won’t have access to your login link. (I will show you how to change it below in the Permalinks section).
Of course, you are going to want to start out by changing a few things in the setting panel. When you hover over “Settings,” a secondary panel of additional options will come up. Click “General.” Under the General Settings you’ll want to change three things.
First: your Site Title. This will be your site’s identity so make sure it matches your domain. Next, add a tagline. Although this step is optional, a lot of bloggers usually have a tagline.
For example, when I was mom blogging as the “Messy Momma” my tagline was “Making Messy Memorable.” So in some cases it can benefit your site to add this.
This last step is pretty important. Change your Date and Time format. Whatever you choose here is what it will display on your actual site (usually next to a blog post).
If you decided to choose Bluehost as your hosting company an additional step may be necessary. Bluehost gives you the option to display a “Coming Soon Page” before launching your site. In most cases, they automatically enable this.
Be aware that when you are ready to have a live website, to disable this feature. Then Save Changes.
Still in the settings tab, you are going to now click on “Permalinks.” You are going to want to update two things here: your post name URL and your login link. WordPress will automatically make your links to your posts randomly which is ugly and not good for SEO.
Instead of manually changing each post, you can change the structure of all of them. To do this just click on “Post Name” in the permalinks settings to ensure all your posts automatically have this.
Lastly, you want to change your login link. As mentioned above, this will add extra security to your site. The new URL will your website / whatever you choose. It’s best to just come up with something random and then bookmark it to your browser. So you can have www. yourwebsite .com/[email protected]
Super random but also super safe!
You’re going to want to have your profile set up – you can do this by going to Users > My Profile.
In this section you can change your “Display Name.” This name is what will be next to all your posts or at the end of a post. Update your name and make sure it is accurate and then add a “Nickname” which you can then choose to be your display name. Afterwards add a profile picture by using Gravatar. Follow the link there and create a profile to make a Gravatar.
Always make sure to be saving your changes at the end!
Finally the last thing you will absolutely need to do is to choose a theme for your blog. A theme is basically the template to your site. You are going to upload all the coding to your site (already predone by professionals) and this will tell your website how to look.
WordPress has pre-installed themes that you can look through (paid and free). Their automatic installed theme to new sites is the one below called “Twenty Seventeen.”
You can either choose one of the themes that is already there and simply “Activate” it like you would a plugin. But if you decide to purchase a theme from a third party (see my favorites from HelloYou Designs or Bluchic)
To install a purchased theme, you will need to download the file from their site and upload it onto WordPress by going to Appearance> Themes. Click upload and don’t forget to ACTIVATE it.
There will also be additional steps if you decide to get a Genesis child theme. Read this post for if you’re interested in using a Genesis theme.