How I Started a Succesful Blog on WordPress (Guide)

Let me start this by saying that over two years ago I had no clue what blogging meant, how to do it, or where to even start a website.

I seriously thought blogs were where people went and complained about their spouses or what their cat had for dinner.

But then I stumbled upon a bunch of personal finance blogs and found myself intrigued. Fast forward 30 months later and now I am telling you how to start a  blog on WordPress using Bluehost.

And I can confidently tell you how to do it because the truth of the matter is that I have come a long way. In fact, I didn't even know what a “WordPress” or a “Bluehost” even was.

The extent of my internet knowledge went about as far as signing into my online billing accounts each month and checking ESPN.

I say that, and less than six months in I was making a $1,000 month from digital marketing (using what I did with my blog) and made $5,3000 my first year blogging.

So here is to you kicking butt with your new blog and saving time and money that I wasted making countless mistakes!

Blogging Basics: What is Bluehost and WordPress?

Let's start with the basics when it comes to blogging. You don't need to be an expert to start and you can't have everything be “Perfect.” However, there are some simple concepts you will want to understand.

Starting with what is Bluehost and WordPress?

Bluehost – is a server that hosts your blog & website.

WordPress – is the platform you run your blog with.

Now here is what is cool.

Use this Bluehost link and you will get hosting for 3 years, a FREE domain name, the WordPress.org platform, and the SSL security certificate (https) in about 5 minutes for less then $150.

For example MoneyLifeWax.com is my domain and the “S” at the end of https indicates I have the security certificate – important for ranking high on Google.

It is really that simple and once you have done that you have officially started your first WordPress blog. Start a blog with Bluehost.

(Already got a domain name? Read at the bottom how to transfer your domain name.)

Let me teach you how to start a successful blog here, starting with your domain name!

1. Blogging Basics: Choose a Domain Name

Make sure you think your domain name out. You actually don't have to choose a domain name right away when use use Bluehost/Wordpress. You can set everything up and even start designing then go back and add your domain name.

Do not do what I did and come up with a really long, and not so good domain name – Moneylifeandthewholeballofwax …. Yeah who is typing that in?

When I first started my blog I was ecstatic that my original domain name was available… I am pretty sure in 50 years it will still be available. So I had to switch to Money Life Wax, which is much shorter.

Also lucky for you, like alluded to before, Bluehost provides a free domain name so you won’t have to pay $45 like I did. If you end up changing your domain name that is ok and not hard to do – so don't worry.

Bluehost is my go to for hosting for several reasons. In addition to the free domain and the WordPress platform, Bluehost support is awesome in my opinion.

Switching from Wix was an absolute nightmare (because of Wix not WordPress) and the Bluehost support was top notch walking me through everything.

When you start your blog and need someone to TALK to the 24/7/365 Bluehost customer service is phenomenal. Additionally, most companies and bloggers use a WordPress/Bluehost combination, the most powerful combo on the internet.

Screenshots to help you step by step set up your Bluehost/Wordpress Blog-

  1. Select the basic plan for $2.95 a month (you don't the fancy professional plans)
bluehost blog

2. Choose your domain name (you should have already thought this one out – short, catchy, and niche specific)

choose a domain name

3. Fill out the user info and pay for your new blog!

I always recommend buying the 36 month package (it is the cheapest) and the only add-on worth keeping checked is the domain privacy protection. The domain privacy is super important so your personal info isn't shared and it is worth the $36 for 3 years!

creating a blog with bluehost

And just like that you now have a domain name supported by Bluehost, (By the way Joshisthebestblogger.com is available if you want to use that domain name!)

Bonus step when setting up a blog on Bluehost!!!…

4. One additional step – go ahead and turn on the HTTPS security certificate.

It is free and simple.

This will make your blog rank higher on google aka better search engine optimization (SEO) and people will feel more secure using your blog. The “S” is something people look at when divulging personal info!

  1. Just go to your Bluehost login.
  2. Click my sites.
  3. Click manage site.
  4. Click security.
  5. Toggle on free SSL certicate.
adding ssl with bluehost blog

Now onto the fun stuff – navigating wordpress. This is WordPress basics made simple.

2. Setting Up Your WordPress Blog 101

Here is where I think I can add a ton of value when it comes to blogging. Honestly, I read other bloggers how to guides and they make it seem so simple (and it is), yet I still had lots of questions more so pertaining to WordPress.

My big question was this:

How do I navigate this left-side toolbar and what does all of this mean???

I alluded in my early mistakes blogging post, I wasted time with Wix, then I wasted more time learning WordPress without just looking up a simple how-to tutorial. Lucky for you, this can serve as your how-to tutorial!

Here is a simple rundown of wordpress.

Once you login to your WordPress site, you have several options on the left hand side. For starters you can access most things from several places, like the create a post feature which can be found in several locations.

Dashboard – pretty generic place to navigate your site, create posts, view site stats add posts etc.

wordpress dashboard new bloggers

Jetpack – this is a standard wordpress plugin, which plugins we will cover in a few, where you are able to do a couple cool things. You can view your site stats on here, create social media share options that are automatically added on posts, etc. Jetpack is free with WordPress.

Posts – this is where you can add new posts, edit posts, manage blog post categories, manage blog post tags. I would go ahead and create 5 categories or so that are niche specific to your blog. My blog categories are How to Blog, Budget Help, Finance Mindset, Inspiration, Make $ Money, Saving Tips and Student Loan help.

Media – this is where you will find all the media you have uploaded. All the pictures you have created with Canva will be stored here… Wait what is Canva you ask? That is great tool to create blog and social media images for free – no need to do the paid subscription!

Pages – this is where you create pages, for example the About Josh, Home, Contact Me are all pages I created. Just simply click “Add New” and you will create a page. Pages I would recommend starting with:

-Create a custom Home Page which is simple using widgets and Elementor which I will discuss below in plugins.

-Create a kick a$ “About Me” page.

-Create a “Contact Me” page using the form feature with in the create a page. Just don't include your email address.

-Create a Privacy/Disclosure page. Just go ahead and create something generic and get it over with. Heck you can copy mine if you want, I don't care – just take out the Money Life Wax stuff.

Comments – pretty self explanatory, but this is where you can manage comments. When your blog starts to grow you will get some comment spam, but don’t worry I have some ways to help you avoid that – a setting tweak and awesome free plugin.

Appearance – this is where you essentially design your blog. I am going to cover themes and widgets below. However, within the appearance tab is a very important tab, “Menus.”

3. Setting Up Your Blog Menu 101:

The menu tab is how guests will navigate your site.  After you have setup your pages and categories, the next step is to structure your menu. Here is a screen shot of my menu below.

wordpress blog menu setup

Setting up the menu is easy. Just select the “Pages” you want to be on your menu bar – aka across the top of your website. Just select the pages you want to use, then tap add to menu. And your done.

choose menu pages

Here is the Money Life Wax menu bar:

student loan blog menu

Some other cool things to consider under the menu – drop down features & categories.

If you notice I have one of my categories as a menu option that will take you right to this post actually – How to Blog Like a Boss'.  Instead of selecting pages, I selected categories and then selected the “How to Blog” category and then added it to the menu.

wordpress blog menu setup

Structuring your menu so that there is drop down feature. If you hoover over the categories or contact me menu options on my blog there is the automatic drop down feature. Once you establish your pages and categories, then add them to your menu. You can slide pages, posts, categories, you name it under other menu options.

This automatically creates the drop down feature or a “sub item.”

Users – this is straightforward, if you want to allow others access then feel free. However, all you really need is to just create your own profile! Don't leave it as just admin.

Tools – if you are importing things from other sites this is where tools comes in handy, but chances are you won’t even need this.

Settings – you will have to adjust some settings depending on a few things, like the theme you use. I won’t go in to super amounts of details but in a nutshell, you will need to access the discussion settings aka comments. Also reading and writing settings.

Everyone has there own preferences, but here is a screenshot of my current settings.

how to start a successful blog

Discussion settings:

discussion or comment settings wordpress

Reading Settings – aka how your blog posts appear.

reading settings

That should pretty much cover everything you need. Things will sometimes need to be adjusted depending on your theme!!!!!

4. Choosing A Blog Theme

Here is what I will tell you when it comes to themes. There are two ways to go.

Option 1: Start with a free them and learn how to create and design your blog and don't worry so much about what your site looks like. I think I focused more on my site's appearance then I did blogging – which is why I started a site in the first place.

There is a learning curve that occurs as you blog more, write more and read other blogs. You see what you like/don't like and you can sorta start to create your design in your head.

Option 2: If you have a couple dollars and you want to go ahead and get an awesome theme then I highly recommend the Genesis framework through

Studiopress. For about $95 you will get the Genesis framework, the free theme and then you can pick another theme (that brings the total to $95).

I would highly recommend having a goal of getting to the point where you will use the Genesis framework. It is a super clean professional look for your site. My first few themes just did not sit well with me… here is what the early Money Life Wax blog looked like.

first blog

5. Plugins For Your New Blog

Ok, plugins are what make WordPress the best in my opinion.

I'll save the reasons why it was a no brainer to go from Wix to WordPress, but plugins are one of the many reasons. However, at the same time the amount of plugins available can be overwhelming.

I remember starting my blog and saying ok, what do I use and where to I even start?

I reached out to another blogger and asked him to please screen shot me his plugin list!  So here is a screen shot of the current active plugins I am using:

wordpress plugins for blogging

As you can see, I am not currently using an overwhelmingly large mount of plugins.

Here is a quick rundown of the plugins I recommend. Akismet Anti Spam, Jetpack, ConvertKit and Yoast SEO are standard WordPress plugins that come with your new blog. Keep them.

Akismet will help with comment spam. Jetpack does a few things like boosting your site speed, tracking visitors and offering social media shares. ConvertKit is ideal for collecting e-mail subscribers (free under 1,000 subscribers) and Yoast is all you need to rock out SEO!

My 1st recommendation – use all 4 of these for free. YOU DO NOT NEED TO PAY OR UPGRADE THESE PLUGINS. The free option works best for now. As your blog grows and you start to make some money, then you can explore paid plugin options.

Yoast SEO – Search Engine Optmization… ahhh. For starters, it will take time to get your blog ranking on page 1 of Google, but give it time and it will happen (that is what I keep telling myself actually). Just make sure for every Post & Page you fill out the Yoast SEO feature at the bottom before you hit publish.

Focus keyword for this post is “How to start a blog”. That is about in-depth of SEO as I will get in this post. Learn about SEO here.

Other blogging plugins I recommend…

Zigtrap – This is a free plugin that basically helps prevent comment spam. What spammer autobots do is they fill out every possible aspect of a form in order to insert their “comment.” This is hidden/invisible feature that only autobots detect aka giving themselves up, therefore not getting their comment submitted for your review. I really enjoy this free plugin!

Blogging Tip: If your blog ever gets screwed up or isn't working properly after adding a plugin or updating plugins, simply uninstall all your plugins. Then reinstall each one at a time. Just take a screenshot beforehand to know what you had!

What sumo does is make your life easy. The email subscriber pop ups are easy to use and you can link them right with your Mailchimp account. I also really like how their share buttons look with the mobile version of my blog. Additionally, you can link your Google Analytics right to your Sumo plugin and you are all set!

Elementor: Elementor is an absolute game changer for new to web-design people like myself. They offer everything you would need to build custom pages. My about me page is a perfect example of a template that I was able to customize.

elementor themes for blogging

The next cool thing about Elementor is the fact you can save pages or posts you design as widgets, then use them in the widget section which is found under “Appearance.” I use Elementor to edit all my blog posts and customize everything on my site. Use my exclusive link to get an awesome plan with Elementor – it is worth the time and money.

Elementor widgets

6. Setting Up Your Blog Widgets!

A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page which makes it easy to customize your page.

My theme and home page is all widget based. I used widgets I design with Elementor, save as a template, then upload to the widget section of my page. Here is a screen shot of all the widgets I use:

widgets I use to blog

As you can see, I used the Elementor Library – then select the templates I saved to customize my blog. It is super simple and I have found it easy to make tweaks. I just access the Elementor plugin when editing pages then save the template and add it to my library.

7. Transferring your Domain Name (Most likely won't apply to you)

Transferring or pointing a domain name isn’t really hard. In fact I had to do it because I originally started my blog with a different server – platform combo.

Simply go to the domain option with whomever you purchased your domain with and re-point the domains using the Bluehost name servers pictured below. If you are having trouble call Bluehost or use a Youtube video!

name server bluehost blog

If you followed step by step what I just laid out you will have a blog in no time that is clean and functional. You will learn to tweak things as you go, but this is a really simple process to getting started. When I help others with their websites, this is the exact process I follow and the tools I use!

Here are the blogging tools I recommend:

Bluehost as low as $2.95 a month.

ConvertKit for all email campaign (It's free now too!)

Elementor for website design ($45 for a year's subscription)

Money Mix Insiders – Your blog won't be successful no matter how pretty it is if you don't land eyeballs on it. Read up on the blogging insider group I am part of that has helped my blog grow in 2020!

Stupid Simple Seo – the only course you will ever need to take for your blog. If you want to have traffic to your blog from Google you won't “Just figure it out.” You will need to learn how to efficiently and effectively do it! This one course has changed my blog.

Hope this helps you create an awesome, simple, productive and fun blog! Read more about the mistakes I made and some simple ways to clean up your message and blog focus here.

start a wordpress blog

Q: What is your biggest question when it comes to starting a blog?