You can’t start a WordPress blog in 10 minutes. And you can’t start one in 10 hours either. You know why? Because it takes countless hours to customize WordPress and get things done and make things look like the way you want (unless you are a WordPress geek).
And hey, I didn’t even count the time required to actually create content. That’s the real purpose of a blog, right?
First things first.
I’m going to assume that you have already purchased a domain name, web hosting plan, and have installed WordPress (either manually or automatically via your web hosting control panel). If not, you should. 😉
So, I have just installed WordPress at http://www.minterest.in (a demo WordPress site that I have temporarily created to write this very blog post).
And the idea is to reverse engineer Minterest (this blog) — by installing and customizing the WordPress theme and the set of WordPress plugins that I’m using on this blog. However, there are few limitations as the demo site doesn’t have (real) content.
I have tried to replicate as many things as possible from this blog on the demo site so that both look identical.
101 Things I Do After Installing WordPress
Let me repeat. This is not another start a WordPress blog in 10 minutes kind of a guide. This is not about how to purchase a domain name and web hosting plan and install WordPress. And no, this is not a WordPress Theme customization guide either.
Instead, this is all about the things that you want to do after setting up WordPress (for the first time). A step-by-step WordPress customization guide.
This is how the demo WordPress site looks like (after installing WordPress for the first time on a new domain name and web hosting plan with the default WordPress theme).
- Login to WordPress Dashboard (http://www.example.com/wp-login.php).
- Upgrade WordPress as the version that you have installed via the web hosting control panel may not be up-to-date.
- Buy a premium WordPress theme and install and activate it. I have purchased the Smart Passive Income Pro theme (powered by the Genesis Framework) from StudioPress.com
- After theme activation, here’s how it looks like (before customization):
- Change the default WordPress login username (if you haven’t personalized it during the installation phase).
- Change the default website title (or “Site Title” as WordPress calls it). In other words, give a name to your blog. Tip: Go to General Settings.
- Add a “Tagline” for your WordPress site.
- Change the “WordPress Address (URL)” and “Site Address (URL)” to add “www” to the website address (or leave it intact if you do not prefer to add www to your URLs).
- Adjust “Timezone”.
- Adjust “Date Format”.
- Adjust “Time Format”.
- Adjust Reading Settings (to customize the number of blog posts shown on the home page as well as on the RSS feeds).
- Adjust Discussion Settings (to control the management and display of comments and links to your blog posts/pages).
- Adjust Permalink Settings (to customize the URL structure of your blog).
- Customize WordPress Personal Options.
- Add Categories and Tags (to organize all your blog posts). Tip: Check out 12 WordPress Settings & Features That You Should Know [Level 1.0] to know the difference between a category and a tag.
- Customize Genesis Theme Settings.
- Create a Menu (for your website navigation).
- Add, organize, and adjust individual menu items.
- Set Menu Locations.
- Create and organize Widgets (to personalize the theme).
- So here’s how it looks like (after basic customization):
- Customize WordPress further by using its in-built Customizer.
- Add a Site Icon (a favicon and app icon for your WordPress site).
- Change colors.
- Add a header image and/or logo.
- Adjust site layout.
- I just added a Site Icon, changed Colors, and added a logo.
- Change the look and feel of your blog by editing its Stylesheet (it obviously requires some coding skill so do not touch the codes unless you know what you’re doing).
- Now the blog looks like this:
- Remove unwanted default plugins like Hello Dolly, Akismet, cPanel & WHM Site Software, etc.
- Install and customize Genesis Simple Edits plugin (to customize the footer of your Genesis powered WordPress site).
- Install and customize Digg Digg plugin (to add floating social sharing buttons).
- Install and customize WordPress Related Posts plugin (to add related posts at the end of individual blog posts).
- Sign for a free WordPress.com account.
- Install and activate Jetpack by WordPress.com plugin — to supercharge your self-hosted WordPress site with the cloud power of WordPress.com.
- Connect the plugin to your WordPress.com account.
- Configure and customize the plugin by activating the required features and deactivating the unwanted features.
- Install and configure Contact Form 7 plugin and add a Contact form to your blog.
- Reserve your blog’s brand name on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, etc.. Check out the Top 30 Social Networking (& Web 2.0) Sites.
- Install and activate Simple Social Icons plugin (to link to your social media channels from your blog sidebar).
- Go to Widgets to customize “Simple Social Icons” and add social media icons on the sidebar.
- Create few dummy blog posts.
- Create your About page.
- Customize the navigation menu items again.
- Create additional pages or categories or tags or a combination of all of them (depending upon the nature of your website).
- Set up FeedBurner for your WordPress site and point your RSS feed there.
- Install and activate Genesis eNews Extended plugin (to add an email subscription form on your blog sidebar).
- Go to Widgets to configure “Genesis eNews Extended” and add FeedBurner email subscription form on your blog. It also works with third-party email marketing software like MailChimp, AWeber, etc.
- Sign up on Gravatar.com to create your profile picture (or Globally Recognized Avatar). You can sign up on Gravatar with your WordPress.com account.
- Add “Genesis User Profile” widget to the sidebar to show your bio.
- Organize widgets once again as you might want to rearrange or remove or add new widgets. For instance, I removed the “Archives” and changed the order of the existing widgets.
- Here’s how the blog looks like now:
- Install and activate Yoast SEO plugin (to optimize your WordPress site).
- Configure and customize the Yoast SEO plugin:
- Write a Title for your homepage.
- Write a Meta description for your homepage.
- Define title and meta description templates for your blog posts, pages, and media.
- Customize the indexing options of your blog posts, pages, and media.
- Define title and meta description templates for your blog categories, tags, and archives.
- Customize the indexing options of your blog categories, tags, and archives.
- Define title and meta description templates for your author archives, date archives, and special pages (search and 404).
- Customize the indexing options of your author archives and date archives.
- Prevent search engines from indexing the subpages of archives.
- Link your social media profiles with Yoast SEO (just enter your social media profile URLs/username in Yoast SEO plugin).
- Add Open Graph metadata for Facebook in Yoast SEO plugin.
- Customize Twitter Card metadata in Yoast SEO.
- Set up XML Sitemaps for your WordPress site via Yoast SEO plugin and customize it.
- Enable/disable Breadcrumbs on your WordPress site via Yoast SEO depending upon your website niche and personal preference.
- Customize your permalinks further (if you want) via Yoast SEO.
- Customize your RSS feeds to include a link back to your website at the end of all blog posts.
- Set up Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) — to verify your website ownership on Google search engine.
- Set up Bing Webmaster Tools — to verify your website ownership on Bing search engine.
- Set up Google Analytics — to track your website traffic.
- Create your professional email address (email@example.com). Tip: Try Gmail aliasing.
- Here’s how the blog looks now (it looks the same as the previous one as everything I did after that is hardly visible to the readers).
- Install and customize Dynamic To Top plugin (to add a scroll to top button on your blog).
- Install and activate Ultimate Nofollow plugin (to nofollow links).
- Install and activate Page Links To plugin (to redirect individual blog posts and pages to a URL of your choice).
- Install and activate Simple URLs plugin (to create, manage, and track external links from your WordPress site).
- Install and customize TinyMCE Advanced plugin (to enhance your WordPress Composer).
- Personalize your WordPress Composer screen.
- Rearrange different boxes using drag and drop.
- Minimize boxes that are need not be accessed more often.
- Use the “Screen Options” tab to add more boxes like Discussion, Slug, Author, etc.
- Hide unwanted boxes to save space.
- Click the “Toolbar Toggle” button to get more formatting options.
- Test whether your WordPress site is mobile-friendly or not with Mobile-Friendly Test by Google.
- Test your WordPress site at different screen resolutions with Screenfly.
- Install and configure WPtouch plugin (to automatically create a mobile-friendly version of your WordPress site that passes the Google Mobile-Friendly Test).
- Install and configure W3 Total Cache plugin (an advanced plugin to optimize the speed and performance of your WordPress site).
- Sign up on Disqus.com (the most popular comment system).
- Install and configure Disqus Comment System plugin (to replace the default WordPress comment system with one powered by Disqus.com).
- Set up Google Custom Search Engine for your WordPress site (if you want).
- Add a blogroll (if you want to link out to external websites from your sidebar).
- Add more users (can be Administrators, Editors Authors, Contributors, or Subscribers) to your WordPress site (when you want).
- Set up a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for your WordPress site (if you want). Tip: Try Cloudflare (it’s free!).
- Install and configure iThemes Security plugin (to secure and protect your WordPress site).
- Install and configure UpdraftPlus Backup plugin (to backup and restore your WordPress site).
- Customize WordPress Dashboard to suit your workflow.
- Take a backup of your entire website via your web hosting control panel.
- Write and optimize and preview and publish your first (real) blog post. Repeat!
- And (finally!) now the blog looks like:
Recommended (for beginners):
- 12 WordPress Settings & Features That You Should Know [Level 1.0]
- 9 WordPress Settings & Features That You Should Know [Level 2.0]
- 10 WordPress Settings & Features That You Should Know [Level 3.0]
Note: The order and the requirement of the above steps would depend upon your chosen WordPress theme and also your personal requirement.
I have noticed several times that whenever I create a new WordPress site, I end up doing the same things over and over and over. So the above steps are the ones that I personally follow when I create a new WordPress site.
I haven’t expanded the above bullet points as I intend to create screencasts and tutorials over time that further explains the above steps. So this listicle is more like a checklist that I think will be useful for you as well (when you start a new WordPress blog).
Finally, it’s very much possible that I have missed an important step or a feature or anything like that. So let me know as a comment below if I missed something here.
Also, if you find any of the above-listed steps difficult then again let me know, and I will find a relevant resource/tutorial to help you out.
Happy Blogging! 🙂