I have been using WordPress on Bluehost for the past 12 years for my full-time blogging business, and I’ve learned so much of the technical stuff that seemed hard at first. In this post, I’ll clearly explain how to get started, and also some tips to help you make your site successful.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links to Bluehost. We do earn commissions for referring traffic to them. But, we’re also not willing to sell our integrity for a few dollars. Most hosting companies have affiliate programs. We choose to recommend Bluehost because we think they’re the best option for people getting started with WordPress.
Bluehost makes it easy to set up a WordPress blog. All you have to do is:
- Create your Bluehost account (I can save you some money on this step)
- Pick a domain name (Don’t worry, I’ll explain what you need to know here)
- Install WordPress in a few clicks
- Log in to your WordPress site and start designing (SUPER easy)
- Get traffic to your new site (I have some great tips for this!)
When I started my first blog, I had no idea how to get traffic so it took me a few years to get any momentum. I learned a few tricks that skyrocketed my progress and now I have started multiple successful blogs and have earned millions of dollars in income for my family–all with WordPress. I’ll do my best to share the most important things I’ve learned in this post.
The first step is to start your Bluehost account. Click here to check the current price of Bluehost. Clicking the link will open in a new tab. That link will give you a special discount that Bluehost was kind enough to offer Income School readers.
I remember being nervous before starting my first Bluehost account. Bluehost is cheap, but for me as a college student, it still felt like a lot. That turned out to be the best investment I’ve ever made! I’ve remained a loyal Bluehost customer because they are CHEAP, reliable, have surprisingly good customer support, and they make the technical part of working with WordPress really easy.
The Tech Stuff Is Easy
When you make a website, you’ll have lots of pictures and text for people to see. Those picture and text files will be on a computer somewhere in the world. That’s your hosting. When you buy hosting, you are paying a company to make your website files available to anyone.
You will also need to choose a “domain name” to put on your Bluehost account. A domain name is the .com name that you pick so people can type it in and find your website. This website’s domain name is incomeschool.com, for example. You could pick a “.net” or a “.co.uk”, but I HIGHLY recommend sticking with a .com domain name even if it’s hard to find one that’s available. Don’t stress over this because you can always change your domain name later, and that only costs about $10.
You used to need to type computer code to make your website, but WordPress completely solves this. Wordpress is free software that you’ll put on your hosting account to make it incredibly simple to put pictures and articles on your website.
You may have heard of free blogging platforms like blogger, Tumblr, etc. These solutions aren’t adequate for any serious website project. Using the WordPress software on Bluehost, you’ll be able to endlessly customize your site, add powerful functionality with a few clicks, and you’ll OWN your site and have total control of it.
Not to mention, free blogging platforms don’t have any tech support like you’ll get with Bluehost. I’ve called Bluehost at midnight when I messed up my site and they had me back up within 5 minutes. Awesome!
Step 1: Create Your Account
The first thing you will do is to create your account. Click this link to get the special discount and start your Bluehost account in another tab. Then you can come back to this article in this tab to follow the tutorial to get you started.
When you create your account, you’ll have options for the basic, plus, or prime plans. I recommend starting with the basic account for your first WordPress blog. Later, you may want to create more blog sites (it’s addicting!), and you can always just upgrade your account for a couple dollars to get the plus account which allows you to put an unlimited number of WordPress sites on one account. Yep, unlimited! Yet another reason to love Bluehost!
Step 2: Choose a domain name
On the next screen, you’ll choose a new domain. This is the .com name of your website (and we do recommend choosing a .com name and not a .net or anything else).
You WILL be frustrated during this step as you’ll likely find that all of the short and easy names are taken. My recommendation is to not stress over this. It’s easy to get a new domain later for just $10 and add it to your account. Don’t let this stop you from getting started. Just pick one!
One trick to help you get a good domain name is to think of your topic. Let’s say your site is about makeup. MakeupTutorial.com is probably taken, so add a modifying word to the start or end. For example, MakeupTutorialCentral.com or MakeupTutorialQueen.com or THEMakeupTutorial.com, etc.
Here is a list of modifying words that can add to your title to find something available:
- Prince/Princess or King/Queen
- Central, HQ, Roundtable, Hub, Space, Zone, etc.
- Tips, Inspiration, Ideas, Design, etc.
- Boss, Guru, Expert, Wizard, Genius, Genie, Champ, etc.
- Extra, Plus, More, Bonus, etc.
- The, One, A, i, My, etc.
Again, don’t obsess over your name. All of the short names will be taken. You can make any name sound good once you design up your site and have good content on it. Remember how ridiculous the name “iPad” sounded before we all got used to it? There were feminine hygiene jokes for months until the iPad became a solid brand.
Step 3: Uncheck all the boxes
On the next page you’ll be given a bunch of options for add-on services from Bluehost. Hint: you can actually just uncheck all the boxes and save some money. You don’t need these additional services. It may SEEM desirable to add services like “Search Engine Jumpstart” but you do NOT need it to rank well on Google. My sites get millions of pageviews and I do not pay for this.
Trust me. Just uncheck all the boxes.
Now you’ll need to create a password to access your Bluehost account. Your account is now set up.
Step 4: Install WordPress on Your Hosting
WordPress is software that gets installed on your hosting (the computer that makes your website available to users). For example, WordPress makes it so you can just press an upload button and attach a picture to your post instead of writing out HTML code to attach that picture. It makes writing on your site fast and easy.
On most hosts, installing WordPress is a pain that involves downloading and uploading files, creating databases, and using an FTP client. On Bluehost, it will do all that for you and walk you through the process automatically.
Start by logging in to your new Bluehost account. Click the blue “log in” button.
Now they’ll invite you to pick a theme. A “theme” is the basic layout of your site. Choose a free theme from the list. Don’t even think twice about which to choose right now. I’m going to talk about themes further down. You can change to a better theme after getting your site set up.
Now you’ll click on the Blue “Start Building” button. This will take you over to your site’s WordPress dashboard and WordPress will be fully installed on your site.
If you have any problems with any of these steps, Bluehost has excellent technical support. You can click the chat button on their website or call their support number any time and they’ll get your site straightened out right away.
Step 5: Log in to Your WordPress Site
The Bluehost part is done now and you’ll only RARELY even need to access your Bluehost account.
Right now, you’ll access your WordPress site by clicking on the blue button I mentioned above.
In the future, you access your WordPress site by going to yourdomainname.com/wp-admin (obviously, the “yourdomainname.com” needs to be whatever domain you chose). Remember that “/wp-admin” part. That’s what you’ll type in every time you want to get into your site. You’ll type it thousands of times over the coming years.
Now you’ll log in with the username and password for WordPress that you either set up when you installed WordPress, or if you didn’t pick a user/pass, then Bluehost will have emailed you the user/pass.
Step 6: Sign Up for My Free Newsletter (Yep—free!)
I have always tried to make my blogs as helpful as possible for the people who come to them. To thank you for spending some time on Income School today, I put together several case studies of websites I’ve made. In those emails, I tell you how much the blogs earn, how much traffic they get, and how long it took me to make the sites.
Best of all, I promise to only occasionally email you and only when I have something awesome to share! No garbage. No Spam. Just good, helpful tips for building a really successful website. And I will never, ever, ever sell or give your email address to other companies no matter what they offer me.
So if you’re interested in building an awesome website and want to learn how to make a passive income from it, just enter your email address on this web page to get access to this free content!
How to Get Traffic to Your Website
Now that you have a WordPress website up and running, you will of course want to get traffic to it. LOTS of traffic!
Getting people to your site and learning to monetize it are in-depth topics. In fact, I have a very popular program called Project 24 where I work with you and teach you everything I’ve learned about how to get traffic and earn money from your site.
But here are the most important things you can do to get traffic.
- Write long articles. It may seem like you’d want to write short, quick posts that quickly give someone an answer to a question they googled. However, that doesn’t work. After writing thousands of blog posts over the years, I looked at my stats and guess what? The 40 posts that get the most traffic are ALL over 3,000 words long. Over and over again, I see that the top Google search results are long, meaty, extremely helpful posts.
- Write fewer opinion or “human interest” stories, and write more posts that directly answer questions that people would google. Instead of writing posts like “Why Photoshopping photos is cheating”, write posts like “How to Do Skin Smoothing in Photoshop.” Answer people’s questions and you’ll get traffic. This site isn’t about YOU, it’s about YOUR READERS.
- Don’t quit too soon. It’s perfectly normal when I start a new blog to get <50 pageviews per month for the first 6-8 months. Google takes a LONG time to test your site out and see if it belongs in the higher search engine rankings. Then, about 8-12 months after you write your post, it starts taking off on Google. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see any progress in your first 6 months. It happens to me too, and I’ve been doing this for years.
How to Monetize Your Website
If you’re here, it’s likely because you want to build a website with a purpose. For a lot of people, at least part of that purpose is to earn an income.
There are a few ways that I monetize my websites to start earning money. These are listed in the order that I do them.
- Affiliate Marketing. This is where you link to other people’s products and earn a commission for the referral. The easiest affiliate program to get started with is Amazon.com. We’ll talk more about how to do that in a minute. There are thousands of other affiliate programs out there like Clickbank, Share-a-sale, and CJ.
- Advertising. Without considerable traffic, it’s hard to earn much income from advertising. Since advertising only earns about $10 per 1,000 pageviews, I don’t really worry about advertising until I reach about 10,000 pageviews per month. At that point, I use a service called Ezoic.
- Information Products. These are your own digital products that you sell on your site. They can be ebooks, videos, audio guides, really anything that you can think of that people can download.
I don’t recommend that you start making information products until you have a strong audience. And only sell them if you’re willing to make an ongoing commitment to your site. As soon as you start selling stuff on your site, it gets less passive. No matter what your product is, there will be some amount of customer support required.
- Physical Products. You can also make or source a physical product to sell from your site. This makes your site even less passive and it’s not a good fit for most niche websites. However, it can be a good way to further monetize a niche website, especially if you want to make it your full-time job!
Do These 10 Things As Soon as WordPress Is Installed
Let’s get your website set up right the first time. Follow these 10 steps before you do anything else.
#1 Set up Permalinks. Every time you make a new webpage or write an article, WordPress will automatically create a URL (web address) for that page. Wordpress has a template for what this address should be so it’s not just totally random. The bad news is that the default template won’t make sense to anyone but you.
If you stick with the default, all of your pages and posts (articles) will have an address with the format “yoursite.com/?p=102.” Changing your permalinks will remove the gobbledygook at the end and make it more memorable.
It’s easy to change. When you log on to the WordPress dashboard for your site at yoursite.com/wp-admin, go to the left side menu and hover your mouse over “Settings”. When the drop down menu appears for settings, click on “Permalinks.” Then pick a new template for your permalinks. I like the one called “Post Name”.
#2 Back up Your Site. You need to do this. It’s happened to me where I spend hours, days, even months on a site and with one fell swoop… it’s gone! You need a backup in case you mess something up.
If you save a backup regularly, it won’t matter if something breaks or if your content gets deleted. You can quickly revert to a previous version of the site and you’re back up and running.
If you use a good host, like Bluehost, your site will get backed up for you. If you have a problem, just call them and they’ll get your site back up and running in minutes. They’ve done it for me. Still though, it’s a good idea to save a separate backup at least occasionally. There are many good backup plugins you can use for this. Our favorite is called ManageWP. It costs about $1 per site per month and manages your full backup, plus a bunch of other cool stuff.
#3 Delete All the Plugins and Install These Ones. Plugins are just little software programs that add features to your WordPress website. Wordpress already comes installed with a few plugins and you really don’t need them. So delete them.
On your WordPress dashboard, on the left side menu, go to “Plugins” and click on “Installed Plugins”. On this page, you can check the box next to each plugin and then, using the drop down that says “Bulk Actions”, select “Delete”. Confirm that this is indeed what you want to do.
Now, go to the top of the Plugins page and click “Add New”. The page to add plugins has a search box. Type each of these into the search box and install and activate the following plugins.
- Shortpixel – This plugin will resize all your images and is the #1 most important plugin for making your site pages load lightning fast.
- Shortlinks by Pretty Links – Best WordPress Link Tracking Plugin by Blair Williams (not the paid pro version, the free one)
- Amazon Affiliate Link Globalizer by Attila Gyoerkoes, Markus Goetz (Woboq)
#4 Install a Good Theme. A WordPress theme is basically the framework for making your site look awesome. The theme determines the layout, fonts, and functionalities.
There are many free WordPress themes. Some even come pre-installed. DON’T use these free themes. They often have issues with plugins that can bring down your site. And they aren’t very versatile or customizeable.
There are lots of great premium themes out there that aren’t that expensive. Our favorite that we had developed specifically for these kinds of sites is called Acabado. Click here to see current pricing and decide if this theme might be right for your site.
Now, don’t go looking to customize your site beyond what the theme is designed to do. Before you buy your theme, explore their site and look at demos. Make sure that at least one demo looks how you want your site to look. One big mistake that people make is that they buy a theme, install it, and then try to make their site look a way that their theme wasn’t designed for. It’s like swimming upstream.
Start Writing Good Posts. Now it’s time to get writing. To attract users to your site, you’ll want to write good content that isn’t too short. The mistake a lot of people make is writing posts that are 500 words long. My recommendation, don’t write any posts under 1,500 words. I shoot for an average of more like 2,000 with the occasional 3,500-4,000 word post. Data shows that these posts rank better on Google! If you want to learn how we write our posts directly from us, you might consider our Project 24 program. You can learn all about it by clicking here.
#6 Resize Images Before Adding Them to Your Site. Pictures are an important part of a website. But a lot of people make the mistake of uploading full-resolution images. If your picture files are too big, it will make your web pages load slowly. Nobody wants that.
Whether you use Photoshop or the free website ResizeImage.Net just make sure you scale down your photos before uploading them to your WordPress site. For full-width photos, we scale them down to 900 pixels wide. For small photos and featured images, we scale them all the way down to 350 pixels wide.
***If you installed Shortpixel on your site, you don’t need to do this***
#7 Sign Up for Amazon Associates. If you want to make a passive income from your site, the first affiliate program you need to sign up for is Amazon Associates. Just google “Amazon Associates” and sign up. It’s free and they won’t reject you like your high school girlfriend did.
Once you’re signed up, you’ll get a tracking ID for your site. Copy that tracking ID. Now go to your site and click “Amazon Affiliate Link Globalizer” and click on “Settings”. Paste your tracking ID into the box next to Amazon.com. Now, the plugin will automatically add your tracking ID to any links on your website to Amazon so you can earn money from them.
#8 Block Spam Comments. You may have noticed that we had you install a plugin called Spam Honeypot. This helps to catch a lot of spam comments that people post on your site. But it won’t catch everything.
Spam comments make your site look trashy–like your high school girlfriend. So in addition to using the Spam Honeypot plugin, here’s what I recommend. Go to “Settings” and click on “Discussion” on your WordPress dashboard. Here you can actually disable comments if you don’t want to worry about them. What I do is under “Before a Comment Appears” I check both boxes. This allows me to look at all comments before they go live on my site.
I also recommend you go to the section called “Comment Backlist” and in the box, type out every word your high school girlfriend used when she dumped you. Just dump out your pottymouth in this box so any comments that use those words won’t appear on the site. One word per line. My list contains a lot of vulgar words as well as several prescription medications that started appearing in a lot of spam comments on my sites.
Do that and a lot of spam and inappropriate comments will be filtered out automatically.
#9 Be Authentic and Helpful With Your Content. The best approach to getting lots of satisfied users on your site is to be remarkably helpful. Write articles that answer people’s questions and solve their problems. When you recommend products, don’t constantly try to sell stuff. Offer products that really benefit your readers. They’ll be more likely to click on your links and you’ll get a lot more traffic in the long run.
#10 Change the Password to Your Site to Something Hard to Guess. You might be surprised how often WordPress sites are being hacked. People have computers running algorithms trying to guess admin passwords for WordPress sites constantly. I actually have a site that receives over 200 attempts per day to guess my username and password! Make sure you use a unique password that you don’t use on any other sites. I like to create totally random passwords. Pick something only you would know, like the sweet names you used to call your high school girlfriend. I really miss that girl.
Let’s Do This!
Starting a blog is exciting. Almost everyone in the world has a computer that they can use to access YOU and your ideas through your blog. Don’t give up when you get bored of writing after a few weeks. Keep after it and make a site your high school girlfriend would be impressed by. She might want you back.