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Whether you’re an aspiring developer or a website owner eager to expand your site’s capabilities, understanding how to create a custom WordPress plugin can significantly improve your site’s performance and user experience because you’ll be able to cut down on unnecessary features that can slow things down. 

In this beginner’s guide, we will walk you through the essential steps on how to build a WordPress plugin, how to use it effectively, and how to ensure that it meets your specific needs. 

Why develop a WordPress plugin

Creating a WordPress plugin allows you to customize your website to meet your unique needs while also enhancing its functionality and adaptability. Take a look at these main justifications for why developing a unique WordPress plugin is good for you: 

  1. Customization 

Using WordPress plugins, you may provide your website with special features and capabilities that aren’t available in pre-made themes or already existing plugins. This modification allows you to create a custom user experience for your visitors. 

  1. Performance optimization 

You can minimize any damaging effects on the performance of your website by creating a custom plugin that is light and effective. It helps yield better user experiences and quicker loading times.

  1. Compatibility 

When you make your own plugin, you can make sure that your plugin is compatible with WordPress core updates, other plugins, and your website’s theme. By doing this, you can keep your website running smoothly and steer clear of any future problems.

  1. Security 

By having complete control over the code, you can put strong security measures in place and lower the possibility of vulnerabilities that might put your website’s security at risk. 

  1. Monetization 

By putting your valuable and distinctive plugin up for sale on different markets, you may be able to make some money from it.  Offering premium features or support services can increase your revenue because it can appeal to a variety of users who require more advanced functionality or dedicated assistance.

Additionally, if you update and refine your plugin continuously based on feedback, you can maintain its relevance and desirability in the marketplace. This can improve product quality while also fostering user trust and loyalty.

  1. Development of skills 

Learning the ropes of creating a WordPress plugin allows you to gain knowledge about the WordPress platform and improve your web development skills. As you delve into plugin development, you’ll become proficient in PHP, JavaScript, and possibly SQL, which are essential for crafting effective WordPress plugins. This experience also enhances your problem-solving abilities as you navigate through coding challenges and integration issues. Over time, you can expand your skill set to include WordPress theme development and custom website solutions. This then broadens your expertise and makes you a more versatile developer in the tech community.

How to create a WordPress plugin step-by-step guide

Step 1: Create your first WordPress plugin

  1. Begin by creating a new folder in your desktop or document directory and giving it a name like “plugin-tutorial” or “first-plugin.” 
  2. Next, create a new file using your preferred text editor and save it within the plugin folder as “plugin-tutorial.php” or “first-plugin.php.” Ensure that the file has a .php extension, but the name itself can be anything you choose.
  3. Open the PHP file with your text editor to begin editing.
  4. First, add the plugin header to your file. This comment block informs WordPress of your plugin’s name, version, website, author name, and other relevant information.
  5. After adding the plugin header, you can start writing the plugin code underneath it.
  6. In this example, we will create a simple plugin that appends a message at the end of each article, encouraging users to follow us on Twitter.
  7. Copy and paste the following code below your plugin header block, making sure to replace the Twitter and Facebook profile URLs with your own before saving the changes.
  8. Now, navigate to your computer’s desktop and create a zip file containing the plugin folder.
  9. For Mac users, right-click on the folder and select “Compress plugin-tutorial.” Windows users can right-click on the folder and choose “Compress to zip file.”

Step 2: Install and activate your first WordPress plugin

Now that the plugin has been created, it’s time to install and test it. For detailed instructions, refer to our guide below on installing a WordPress plugin.

  1. Navigate to your website’s WordPress admin area and go to Plugins > Add New.
  2. Click the Upload Plugin button at the top to reveal the plugin upload box.
  3. Select the Choose File button to pick the zip file you recently created. Then, click the Install Now button to upload and install the plugin.
  4. Once the installation is complete, activate the plugin.
  5. Now, visit your website to see the plugin in action.

All of your single posts now have a new paragraph at the end.

Step 3: Submit your plugin to the plugin repository

To increase your plugin’s visibility and usage among WordPress users, you can submit it to the plugin repository.

  1. First, you’ll need to create a ‘Read Me’ file for your plugin. Open a blank text file and save it as readme.txt in your plugin folder.
  2. The readme.txt file should follow’s readme file syntax, as the information you include here will be displayed on your plugin’s page on

Let’s briefly discuss the WordPress plugin readme file syntax so you can customize it for your plugin.

  1. The first line of the readme file should be your plugin’s name, which will be displayed as the plugin’s title in the plugin directory.
  2. The next line is Contributors, which lists the user IDs responsible for managing your plugin on If you don’t have a user account, you can create a free one to obtain your user ID.
  3. ‘Requires at least’ and ‘Tested up to’ indicate the WordPress versions your plugin is compatible with, while ‘Stable tag’ refers to your plugin’s version.
  4. You can keep the ‘License’ fields as GPL and retain the same URL.
  5. Next, edit the Description section to explain your plugin’s functionality.
  6. After editing your plugin’s readme file, remember to save your changes.
  7. Your plugin is now ready for review by the plugins team. To submit your plugin, you’ll need a free account.
  8. Go to the Add Your Plugin page, and if you’re not logged in, click the please log in button.
  9. Once logged in, you can upload and submit your plugin for review.
  10. Click the Select File button to choose your plugin’s zip file, then check all applicable boxes and click Upload.

The plugin review team will examine your plugin code for common errors and security checks. After approval, you’ll receive an email with a link to your plugin’s Subversion (SVN) repository hosted on

Step 4: Using Subversion (SVN) to upload your plugin

Subversion is version control software that enables users to modify files and directories while maintaining a record of changes, managing different versions, and facilitating collaboration.

Installing an SVN client on your computer is necessary to upload your plugin to Windows users can use SilkSVN or TortoiseSVN (free), while Mac users can install SmartSVN or Versions App.

We’ll demonstrate the process using the Versions App for Mac. However, the procedure is quite similar across all SVN apps with a GUI.

  1. After installing the app, open Versions and check out a copy of your WordPress plugin’s repository by clicking the New Repository Bookmark button.
  2. In the popup, provide a name for this bookmark (preferably your plugin’s name) and add your WordPress plugin’s SVN repository URL.
  3. Click Create to connect to your repository.
  4. Versions will download a copy of your plugin’s repository to your computer. Right-click on your repository name in the browser view and select Checkout.
  5. Specify a folder name and location for storing the local copy of your plugin on your computer, then click Checkout.
  6. Versions will create a local copy of your plugin. Copy your plugin files and paste them inside the trunk folder of your local repository.
  7. You’ll see a question mark icon next to new files in Versions. Select the new files and click Add to include them in your local folder.
  8. Now, click on your local repository and hit Commit.
  9. In the resulting popup, you’ll see a list of changes and a box to add a commit message. Click Commit to proceed.
  10. Your SVN app will sync your changes and commit them to your plugin’s repository.
  11. After uploading your plugin files to the trunk, tag them with a version.
  12. In your local copy of your plugin, copy the files inside the trunk folder. Then, open the tags folder and create a new folder within it. Name it after the version number. Ensure that the version number matches the one in your plugin’s header.
  13. After adding the new folder in the /tags/ folder, you’ll see a question mark icon next to the folder name in the Versions app. Click Add to include the folder and its files in the repository, then click Commit to sync your changes.

You can continue editing your plugin files in the local copy and commit changes to sync with the repository. If you make significant changes to your plugin, create a new version by putting it in a new folder named after the version number. Make sure this version number matches the one in your plugin’s header.

You can now preview your plugin in the plugins directory.

Step 5: Add artwork to your plugin on allows you to include artwork and screenshots with your plugins. These elements must adhere to standard naming conventions and be uploaded using Subversion.

Plugin Header Banner

This large image appears at the top of the plugin page and can be either 772 x 250 or 1544 x 500 pixels in JPEG or PNG file formats. It should always be named as follows:

  • banner-772×250.jpg or banner-772×250.png
  • banner-1544×500.jpg or banner-1544×500.png

Plugin Icon

This smaller, square-shaped image file is displayed as a plugin icon in search results and plugin listings. It can be either 128 x 128 or 256 x 256 pixels in jpeg or png file formats.

The icon file should be named as follows:

  • icon-128×128.jpg or icon-128×128.png
  • icon-256×256.jpg or icon-256×256.png


Screenshot files should be named using the following format:

  • screenshot-1.png
  • screenshot-2.png


  1. You can add as many as you like, and these screenshots should appear in the same order as the screenshot descriptions in your readme.txt file.
  2. Once you have prepared all the artwork, place it in the assets folder of your plugin’s local copy.
  3. Afterward, you will notice a question mark icon next to the assets folder. Click the Add button to include the new asset file in your repository.
  4. Lastly, click the Commit button to upload your files to the repository. After some time, the artwork will appear on your plugin page.

Create your own plugin today!

Learning how to create a WordPress plugin is a fantastic skill that boosts your website’s functionality and helps you kickstart a career in web development. This beginner’s guide has walked you through the essential steps to develop, test, and submit your plugin to the repository.

By sticking to the outlined best practices, you’ll make sure your plugin is safe, efficient, and works well with different WordPress themes and plugins. Plus, creating custom plugins can open up new opportunities for making money and growing professionally in the field of web development. As you continue to develop your skills and take on more complex projects, you’ll find yourself able to create unique, customized solutions. 

Create a WordPress plugin FAQ

Can you make money making WordPress plugins?

Yes, you can make money by creating WordPress plugins. If you create a unique and useful plugin, you can make money from it by selling it on plugin marketplaces, your own website, or by offering premium features and support.Be sure to provide proper documentation, support, and updates to ensure your customers have a positive experience with your plugin.

Who can build a WordPress plugin?

Anyone with basic programming knowledge and a good understanding of WordPress can build a WordPress plugin. This includes web developers, designers, and even website owners who are willing to learn and invest time in creating custom solutions for their sites.

Are WordPress plugins written in PHP?

Yes, WordPress plugins are primarily written in PHP because it’s the main scripting language used by the WordPress platform. However, plugins may also include other web technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, depending on the specific functionality they provide.

Can I create a WordPress plugin with JavaScript only?

While WordPress plugins are primarily written in PHP, it’s possible to create a plugin that primarily uses JavaScript for its functionality. However, you would still need a PHP file with the necessary plugin header information to register and activate your plugin within the WordPress ecosystem. Once the plugin is activated, you can use JavaScript and other web technologies, such as AJAX, to interact with the WordPress API and provide the desired functionality.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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