If you’re interested in starting your own money-making blog, be sure to check out my course Hobby to Pro, which teaches how to build a profitable blog based on your own hobbies.
If you’ve just installed WordPress for the first time you may be a little confused or even overwhelmed.
Don’t worry, WordPress is pretty easy to use and you’ll learn quickly. But there are a few things you should do after installing WordPress, and I want to go over them in this article.
This article assumes you’ve already installed WordPress on your own domain, but if that’s not the case please see my page on How to Start a Blog, which walks you through the process of setting up a web hosting account and installing WordPress.
Now, here are 11 things that I recommend you do after installing WordPress.
→ Related reading: How I’ve Made Over $1 Million Blogging
1. Get an SSL Certificate Installed
An SSL certificate will add security to your site and protect both you and your visitors. In years past, the SSL certificate was only necessary if you were collecting any kind of personal data from visitors (like processing credit card transactions), but today every site or blog should have an SSL certificate. If you don’t want your site to be marked as insecure by Google or web browsers you should have an SSL certificate installed.
It may sound intimidating, but if you’re using a good hosting company there is really nothing to it. I recommend Bluehost for new bloggers and they’ll provide you with a free SSL certificate. You can simply contact Bluehost support and ask for help getting the SSL certificate set up.
Once you have the SSL certificate installed your URL will start with “https” instead of “http”. I recommend doing this first before setting up other things on your site, but really you can have the SSL certificate installed at any time.
2. Choose a WordPress Theme
A “theme” is essentially the template that controls the look and feel of your WordPress-based blog or website. When you install WordPress it will come with a default theme, but you will want to change this or else your blog will look very generic.
Regardless of the purpose and goals you have for your blog or website, the appearance matters. You’ll want it to give a positive first impression to new visitors so they are more likely to come back.
When it comes to WordPress themes you can use a free theme or you can buy a theme. I don’t recommend using a free theme unless you’re starting a personal blog and you have no aspirations of growing a large audience or making money with the blog. With a free theme you will get no technical support from the theme developer, so if you run into issues you are on your own, or you may be lucky and get some help from other WordPress users. Free themes are also less likely to be updated in the future. As new versions of WordPress are released your free theme may no longer be compatible and your site will break. Even worse, free themes are often poorly and inefficiently coded, which creates problems with many plugins, leads to slow loading pages, and could even pose a security risk.
One of the reasons I recommend that you go with a premium theme right from the start is because you can get a good theme for a very reasonable price. And most of the leading WordPress themes today allow you a great deal of flexibility to customize the look of your site without touching any code.
There are a lot of different designers and companies offering WordPress themes. For the past few years I’ve only used themes from two different companies, and I use them on all of my websites. I highly recommend both Elegant Themes and Thrive Themes (read my review of Elegant Themes here).
Elegant Themes customers get access to two different themes. Divi is an extremely versatile theme that you can use for portfolio sites, small business sites, and even blogs and e-commerce sites. It comes with several different layouts and you can completely customize just about everything without touching any code.
The Extra theme from Elegant Themes is my personal favorite, and it’s the theme I use here at VitalDollar.com. It’s perfect for blogs and news/magazine style sites. It’s well designed, gives you a great deal of flexibility in the layout, and allows for a ton of easy customization. I use Extra on several websites and I love the theme.
You can get a membership to Elegant Themes for $89 per year. That membership entitles you to updates whenever their themes or plugins are updated, customer support, and the right to use their themes and plugins on multiple websites. They also offer a package that gives you lifetime membership and access for $249. I purchased a lifetime membership several years ago and it has been a great investment. I can continue to use their themes and plugins and I’ll never have to pay for them again.
Thrive Themes offers a Theme Builder that gives you full control to completely customize the look of your site with a drag-and-drop editor (no coding required). A membership to Thrive Themes will cost you $19 per month and will provide access to their Theme Builder and a nice collection of premium plugins.
Hobby to Pro is my online course that teaches you how to build a money-making blog around your hobby. It's the same approach that I've used to make more than $1 million with photography blogs. The course includes 90+ video lessons to walk you through the process.
3. Configure the Basic Settings in WordPress
There are a few settings in WordPress that you’ll want to change. In the left sidebar of the WordPress dashboard go to Settings > General.
In the General Settings you want to make sure that you’ve entered your Site Title and Tagline. If you’re stuck on the tagline don’t worry too much about it, you can always change it later. Also, check the “WordPress address” and “Site Address”. If you had the SSL certificate installed already be sure that these URLs start with “https”. If you haven’t installed the SSL certificate it would be “http”.
Lower on the General Settings there will be some other things to change. I recommend making sure that the box for “anyone can register” is unchecked. Also set your timezone and the date and time format that you want to use.
When you are done with that, click on the “save changes” button.
Next, go to Settings > Discussion. A lot of these settings are personal preference. I prefer not to get emails about comments, but you can set that however you prefer. I also like to auto approve comments if the comment author has a previously approved comment.
Click the “save settings” button when you are finished.
The last settings we’ll change are the permalink settings. Go to Settings > Permalinks. I recommend checking the box for “post name”.
Click the “save settings” button when you have selected the permalink structure.
4. Set Up Your User Profile
Next, click on “Users” in the left sidebar. If you’ve just installed WordPress there probably will only be one user account listed here, which is your own. But later on you may add user profiles for other writers, editors, or members if you have a membership site.
If your username is “admin” I highly recommend that you use a different username. Over the years many hackers have targeted the admin username, so using something different can help for security purposes. You can’t change the username once the user profile has been set up, so if your username is “admin” you will need to create a new user and give it the role of administrator. Then logout and login with the new profile and delete the profile with the name “admin”.
In the user profile you can enter your first and last name, as well as the way you want it to be displayed publicly. Be sure that the email address listed in your profile is a good email that you have access to. The email address is not publicly listed on your site, but if you forget your password and need to reset it you will need access to your email.
Then, enter a short bio in the “biographical info” field. Most WordPress themes will display the author bio at the end of blog posts. Some themes will give you the option of whether or not you want the bio to be displayed.