If you have a fresh WordPress installation and wonder what comes next, I have created a list of basic and essential steps you should take to secure and improve your brand new blog.
Let’s dive in (in no particular order) to ensure you hit the ground running.
Basic Website Details
I personally suggest you immediately update your blog’s basic details, as this only takes a few seconds. Search engines also tend to crawl your website pretty quickly (even without any content published yet), so it really doesn’t hurt to get this out of the way.
Go to Settings>General to update information such as:
- Site title: Your main blog title, which can be anything you’d like
- Tagline: A short description of your website
- Membership: Whether anyone can sign up (create usernames) on your website. Leave this disabled if you don’t intend to have multiple contributors
- Timezone & date format: Adjust your timezone and desired way for your blog to handle day/time
Click “Save Changes” once done. We’ll come back to the Settings page later on, as there are some useful (albeit more optional) things to explore.
Sample Posts and Pages
A new WordPress installation comes with some sample posts and pages simply to give you an idea of what published content would look like. Needless to say, these should be deleted.
Visit Posts>All Posts and Pages>All Pages.
Then, delete the Hello World! post/page by hovering over them and clicking “Trash.” You may also click the checkbox next to each entry, then clicking the Bulk Actions menu, followed by “Move to Trash.”
Update Profile Details
Your profile page allows you to enter a short autobiography, along with your desired display name (this means you don’t necessarily have to use your real name publicly).
Click Users>Your Profile to change these settings accordingly.
You may also configure other optional entries such as an avatar and changing your default email/contact info.
Click “Update Profile” when finished.
Update Your Permalinks
Your permalinks represent the way your posts/pages URLs are formatted. For example, you may choose to display the date on each post’s URL such as:
You may also select a simpler, yet unfriendly way of displaying links, such as:
The latter example is not very friendly toward search engines, so I suggest you stick to something more descriptive. The average blogger uses the “Post name” option, which looks like this:
Go to Settings>Permalinks to get started.
Click “Save Changes” when finished. You may also change these settings at any time in the future without breaking your blog, so no worries.
Change Your WordPress Theme
Changing your blog’s theme is one of the most exciting parts, as this helps add a visual identity to your website. However, this can also make you overthink things.
To avoid any headache, decide whether you want a minimalist theme or something more feature-rich:
- Do you wish for your content to have most of the attention with very little else in the way?
- On the other hand, do you wish to display fancy things, change your sidebar layout, make use of flashy / expandable menus, and give your website a very “premium” feel?
The above questions can help you decide what kind of theme to aim for.
Click Appearance>Themes to visit the main Themes screen. Then, click “Add New” to explore a virtually endless amount of WordPress themes.
You can type any desired feature into the Search bar such as “minimal” (for a list of simple layouts) or other keywords such as “forest” (for an eco-friendly blog, for example).
Finally, you may either preview the desired theme or simply click Install to effectively add it to your blog.
You may also see what it looks like by visiting your blog’s homepage afterward. Most themes can be configured further from the back-end.
Add & Remove WordPress Plugins
Plugins can make or break your website – both figuratively and literally. Even as a new WordPress user, you should have a fair idea of which plugins you’ll be using by the time WordPress is installed.
Click Plugins>Add New in order to search for any desired plugin and install it. Otherwise, click Plugins>Installed Plugins to manage existing ones.
Tip: Try not to install too many plugins, as these can gradually slow down your blog depending on the plugin (and features) in question.
Recommended plugins: It’s highly recommended you install WordPress plugins based on backup purposes, security, virus protection, and analytics. Search by related keywords (on the above screen) to find them.
Add Essential Pages
Let’s go back to the subject of pages now that the more important things are out of the way. Essential pages are those you might expect to find on any given website, such as:
- About Us page
- Contact page
- Any other page deemed important by your blogging goals
Click Pages>Add New to create a new static page, which is always visible as a core part of your blog’s homepage. From here, add a title into the page editor’s Title field, followed by any other detail into the main body.
Click “Publish” once ready, then repeat the same procedure for any other page you wish to add.
Display the latest posts or a static page on your blog’s homepage: Click Settings>Reading, then change the desired setting from the “Your Homepage Displays” section.
If choosing a static page, select the Static Page radio button and assign an existing page. This setting is ideal for giving your blog’s homepage a more professional look as opposed to displaying the latest posts.
Install the Classic Editor plugin: While you don’t really need this, many users have reported that the WordPress classic editor is easier to use than the new, default editor. This allows you to create new posts and pages with ease.
Keep an eye on theme & plugin updates: Once you have several items installed, always keep an eye on anything that may need updating. Click Dashboard>Updates to view everything that may be outdated; WordPress can then help you update a plugin/theme automatically from there.
The above steps are highly important for your blog’s overall health and ease of use. But don’t stop there! Keep exploring new plugins and themes and make replacements as needed. This all depends on your short-term and long-term goals as a blogger.