How to Start a WordPress Blog With WPEngine
BY BRANDON VAGNER, CPA, Ph.D., & WALLET WIT FOUNDER
Some links below may be affiliate links. For more info, please check out the disclosures.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to be writing this article on how to start a blog. My online journey started a few years ago and it’s been one heck of a ride. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned about online business, but I’m going to keep this article short and sweet with a purpose of getting you all the information you need to start a blog today.
Quick Advice: Start your online journey as soon as you possibly can and don’t worry about your blog being perfect.
Starting a blog is one of the best decisions you can make. I had just started my PhD program after working as a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) for a number of years when I decided to start my first website. I had read all about people making money online, but I was very unsure about the whole process. Eventually, I decided to go for it, because my wife and I really needed some extra income to help us get through those PhD years.
I have been able to earn significant amounts in passive income via my websites, that I otherwise would not have earned. I’m very fortunate for that, because it helped my wife and I through some very hard financial years as I went through my PhD program. So, I’m here to tell you that it is possible.
Can a blog make $1,000,000 per year like you read about? Absolutely it can, but it’s also a great tool for people just looking to earn an extra $1,000+ per month. That extra money per month goes a long way for most households and it’s why I’m so passionate about online business. A blog can help put food on the table for some and it can create an incredibly powerful passive income stream for others who push to take their online business further.
Below I’m going to go through the steps to create a blog, but If you take away anything from this article, I hope it’s how important it is to go with a hosting service provider that is high quality. I made a huge mistake choosing my hosting provider when I first started out, and it really cost me….BIG Time….BIG BIG Time.
That said, I highly recommend WPEngine for so many different reasons. I’ll get into those reasons in more detail below, but you want to start by locking in your plan with the highly recommended premium hosting provider, WPEngine. Here are the WPEngine Pricing Plans. If you’re just starting out, go with the Startup Package. It is money well spent.
Many people fall victim to purchasing cheap hosting when they’re first starting out. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I did too. Looking back on it, I think it’s because people just want to dip their toes in and don’t want to spend hardly anything when they’re first starting out. I completely get that, because I was there too, but it’s really the last thing you want to do, because all blogs have so much potential to be revenue generating now and you need a strong foundation.
The quality of your hosting service is your foundation when it comes to blogs and websites. You definitely want to build your blog with wordpress, and to do so you need a high quality hosting provider like WPEngine. Without a high quality hosting provider, you’ll be risking speed, security, and profits.
WPEngine was ranked as one of the leaders in managed hosting providers by G2 Crowd users. They continually receive high rankings and are regarded as one of the best for great reasons.
FAQ – What is the difference between a blog and a website?
A website contains pages such as a homepage and other key pages. A website can also have a featured blog where informational articles are written and the most recent blog post is displayed at the top of the main blog page. You are currently reading a blog post. In wordpress, you have the option to create a page or post (i.e. blog post).
Notice that I have a blog within my website. The blog feature comes with wordpress . I hope that helps you see the difference between a blog and website.
I am going to assume you know what you want your blog to be about and already have a business name in mind. Once you have that down, here are the steps to follow.
How to Start a Blog with WPEngine
STEP 1: Purchase a Hosting Service
This is where WPEngine comes into play. A hosting service provider, such as WPEngine, houses your website on one of their servers. The quality of a server makes a BIG difference on the speed and security of your website.
I’ve learned my lesson from both a speed and security standpoint. A few years back I went with a hosting service provider that was supposed to help increase my website speed. It was a complete nightmare. The server ended up getting hacked and the hosting service provider “lost” my website for a period of time. They ended up “finding” my website, but it was a disaster. I lost so much development work during that issue it wasn’t even funny. Not to mention, my Google rankings dropped almost instantly due to the website issues caused from the server hack. Long story short, you want a hosting service provider that has security as a top priority.
WPEngine blocks 2,000,000+ attacks daily for its customers. I haven’t had one single security issue with WPEngine.
Back to that speed thing….If you go cheap on your hosting service provider, be prepared to have a slow loading website. I went through multiple hosting service providers before I found WPEngine. Once I found WPEngine, speed was not an issue at all. I highly recommend WPEngine for speed.
WPEngine is hands down my #1 recommendation when it comes to hosting providers. The WPEngine team built their platform specifically for wordpress users, which you most likely will be if you want to easily start a blog. Their platform handles one of my more advanced wordpress websites and I’m still able to get page download speeds under 3 seconds. It’s great!
STEP 2: Purchase a Domain Name
You cannot purchase your domain name through WPEngine, but it’s super easy to purchase a domain name via GoDaddy and then point it to your WPEngine platform. I’ll show you how below…
So, first head over to GoDaddy now and purchase your domain name. Then, head back here to learn how to setup the rest. Simply type your desired domain name in the search box on the GoDaddy homepage and hit “Search Domain” to see if your desired domain name is available.
STEP 3: Add a WordPress “Install” Within the WPEngine Dashboard
Adding a wordpress “install” will create what WPEngine calls a “production environment.” You can name this whatever you wish to name it. I like to name the install consistent with what my brand is for each of the different websites. This will make your life easier in the future when you monitor activity via the dashboard.
Simply hover over installs within your WPEngine top menu and select “Add.”
STEP 4: Point Your Domain at WPEngine
From Step 2 above, you should have purchased your domain name from GoDaddy. You now need to point that domain name to your WPEngine install. You do this within your GoDaddy dashboard. Here are the detailed steps for you to follow.
4.1: Locate your A record in your WPEngine install as shown below
4.2: Access the Domain DNS Page Within GoDaddy
Sign-in to your GoDaddy account; go to My Products; find your domain in the listing of domains; select DNS as shown below.
4.3: Insert your WPEngine A Record from step 4.1 above into your GoDaddy “DNS records.”
Once you’re in the DNS Records page within your GoDaddy account, locate Type A and change the “Value” to the A Record number string you got from your WPEngine install (step 4.1 above). NOTE: Do not enter the number from my example. Your A Record number string is unique to your WPEngine install.
You also need to ensure that the “Value” for your www CNAME is “@”. See my screenprint below as an example.
STEP 5: Select “Domains” Within the WPEngine Dashboard
Once you’ve completed steps 1 -4, go to your production environment dashboard within WPEngine, select “Domains” from the menu on the left of your screen. NOTE: Recall that your install is the production environment you added within step 3 above. My install name is walletwit.
STEP 6: Select “Add Domain” Within the WPEngine Domain Page
Once in the domain page, click “Add domain” as shown below. It’s about halfway down the page. You need to add the naked version (e.g. walletwit.com) and the non-naked version (e.g. www.walletwit.com) of your domain. Notice that the non-naked version includes “www.”
STEP 7: Set Primary Domain & Add Redirects
Once both the www and non-www versions of your domain have been added via Step 6 above, you are now ready to select one as the Primary Domain.
This is the only step that can be a little confusing. It’s obvious that your website users can only go to one domain. That is either going to be the www or the non-www version of your domain that was added in Step 6 above. Whichever one you decide to go with will be your Primary Domain. Your Primary Domain can be set via clicking Set as primary.
Once you have your primary domain set, you can redirect the other domain by clicking Add redirect and specifying which one you want to redirect.
Here is how my setup looks for one of my websites. Notice which domains I instructed to redirect to www.walletwit.com, which is the domain I set as my primary domain.
STEP 8: Update Your URL in the WordPress Dashboard
8.1: Access your wordpress dashboard and from the menu click Settings –> General
8.2: Once you’re in the General Settings, update your (1) WordPress Address (URL) and (2) Site Address (URL) to reflect your primary domain.
Recall, you set your primary domain within WPEngine during step 7 above.
STEP 9: Setup Your SSL Within WPEngine (OPTIONAL)
“An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and encrypts information sent to the server using SSL technology. Encryption is the process of scrambling data into an undecipherable format that can only be returned to a readable format with the proper decryption key.” – GoDaddy
You should also know that it’s a factor Google looks at when it comes to search rankings. That said, it’s recommended to have an SSL on your website for SEO purposes.
Here is the great thing…It’s already included in all the WPEngine plans. So, you don’t have to pay extra for it!
9.1: Verify the DNS update is complete
After completing steps 4-8 above, it can take up to 48 hours for your DNS update to propogate (i.e. complete). It needs to complete before you setup your SSL. You can check the status at https://www.whatsmydns.net/.
Just like you see below, input your primary domain name; make sure “A” is selected; hit search; and verify that the displayed IP address matches with your WPEngine install A Record from step 4.1 above. If it doesn’t, give it a little more time to propogate and check again. If it’s been more than 48 hours, contact WPEngine support. They are great!
9.2: Select the SSL option from within your WPEngine install menu.
9.3: Select “Add Certificate” Within the SSL WPEngine Install Page
9.4: Order your FREE SSL Certificate
Once you make the order, you’re almost done. You have to wait until the order goes through, but then you will need to enable the certificate as shown in step 9.5 below.
9.5: Select “Secure All URLs” – SSL Certificate
My primary domain name includes “www.” That is why for that certificate I selected “Secure all URLs.” All you have to do is select “Expand All” over there on the top right for your primary domain. It’s possible you might want your non-www version as your primary domain. If that is the case, then that is the one you would click to expand. Once you have your desired primary domain expanded, just select to “Secure all URLs” and save changes. You’re all done with adding your SSL certification at that point.
STEP 10: Setup a CDN Within WPEngine (OPTIONAL)
You’re going to want to setup a CDN. It’s FREE with all WPEngine plans!
Before you setup the CDN, you need to make sure you received the completion email from WPEngine. It is recommended that you wait until your SSL install is completed before you attempt to enable your CDN.
10.1: Select the CDN option from within your WPEngine install menu.
10.2: Select the radio button to “Enable CDN” and click save.
STEP 11: Access Your WordPress Dashboard
You’re almost to the fun stuff….We need to setup your wordpress login password so you can access your wordpress dashboard. I have a screen shot below that shows you exactly what I’m going to describe next.
11.1: Within your browser, enter your primary domain name followed by /wp-admin
For me, it would be www.walletwit.com/wp-admin
11.2: Enter your WPEngine install name in the username section
For me, I called my install walletwit. So, that’s my default username
11.3: Select forgot password
This will generate a password for the login. The email account that will receive the password reset will be the email you used to login to your WPEngine user portal.
STEP 12: Add a Theme Within Your WordPress Dashboard
12.1: Select a Desired WordPress Theme
Have you ever seen a website that looks really really good and then one that looks really really bad? Well, styling of a website is largely determined by which wordpress theme you go with. WordPress is the engine that powers your website, but the theme determines how good your website looks and how easy it is to make updates/changes to your website design. Now, you can certainly customize any theme to make your website look the way you want, but beware that major customization will likely require a developer. That said, it’s very important to go with a high quality theme from the beginning.
A high quality theme will likely have multiple templates you can pick from. Meaning, developers already spent a TON of time getting each specific template to look a certain way.
Also, a high quality wordpress theme will be much easier for you to work with on a daily basis AND they usually come with great support.
I didn’t known any of this when I first started out, and I ended up purchasing a theme that was awful. It caused many headaches and wasted time.
I finally discovered one of the best themes out there, Avada. I highly recommend it for so many different reasons. They have TONS of templates to choose from, their support team is excellent, they keep their theme updated so it’s compatible with wordpress updates, etc.. The list literally goes on and on. Check them out at the link above.
Once you make a theme purchase, here are your next steps.
12.2: How to add a WordPress Theme through Your WordPress Dashboard
Once logged into your wordpress dashboard (see step 10 above), go to Appearance –> Themes
Next, select “Add New,” upload the theme files, and active the theme. That’s it! You’re good to go!
STEP 13: Go Have Fun!!! Congrats on Starting Your Blog/Website!
If you found this article helpful, please feel free to give it a share with your friends. They might be wanting to start a blog too.