If you would like to know how to start a blog with WordPress then you are in the right place. I have made hundreds of websites with WordPress and want to give back and help you out. This guide will serve as a blue print of what you need to do to make a WordPress blog site.
The first step in getting your blog up and running is getting hosting.
GoDaddy, Blue Host etc. are great for starters, go with one of these companies. If your site does become bigger then it can be moved or upgraded. Don’t get caught with this, they are all really similar and have mostly the same features.
Get a Domain
Don’t Spend All Day Picking it Out. Choose something and go with it. You can have a hundred different domain names pointed at your site. Start with one you like. Select a Keyword in your niche or your name or something to that extent. Remember that the domain name doesn’t make the site. The site makes the domain. You could have the best domain name out there, but if your site isn’t all that great then it will not matter.
Try to get a .com. Google says it doesn’t devalue your domain if you don’t have a .com, but it is the most popular and most common. It would be worth noting to pay attention to other domain extensions in the near future. Domains that end in .ly, .lawyer, .guru, etc. I want to see if these catch on. They tend to be more pricey, but if they catch on and you get in early it could be a great business move.
As said before, there could be a number of different domain names pointing at your domain. So don’t think that the first one you go with is the one that is set in stone. Choose one and go with, add another if needed. Don’t get caught in the upsells that these sites offer, get the domain only, you don’t need any of the other things they are promoting.
You can make the process a little cheaper by going to google and typing in GoDaddy Promo Codes. There is almost always a promo code for a .com domain name for under $3.
Install WordPress on your domain
Most hosting companies have an easy one click install once you add your domain to a hosting plan. You will need to setup your login username and password and provide an email address. The rest will be done for you, It will only take a couple of minutes and your WordPress will be installed. In order to login to your new site you will need to go to yourdomain.com/wp-admin. Once you login you will be taken to the WordPress dashboard.
The video below walks through step-by-step how to setup a WordPress blog.
Selecting a WordPress Theme
I Recommend Going with a premium WordPress theme over a free WordPress theme. You can get premium themes at a lot of different places around the internet. I mainly use Themeforest and Elegant Themes, these are two good options that will get you going in the right direction. I know you might be complaining about paying for a theme, but you will thank me later. If you follow the guide and pick out an established theme it will save you lots of time and headaches. Choosing a premium WordPress theme allows you to do so much more than a free theme.
Themeforest is going to have a lot of options when it comes to premium themes. You need to make sure that you do your due diligence when selecting a theme. That involves going through comments and seeing the sales numbers. You will also need to take a look at the author and make sure there are communicating when there is an issue.
Elegant Themes have some great themes, the number one theme the offer is Divi. The cool thing about ET is that you buy the package as a whole and get access to all the themes they have. You also get access to the plugins they offer. The Bloom and Monarch plugins are my favorite ones and are on just about all the sites I make.
Look at the comments and support
What you are looking for here is to see if there are a lot of comments. Scan through these and see what they are about. They could be about the theme not being updated or they could be about how to use a feature of theme.
As you glance over these questions you want to see the theme author replying back to the customers. This is important and shows that the theme author is active and up to date with what is going on with the theme.
If the theme author does not seem to be replying back and questions are not being answered this is a red flag. I would keep this in mind while choosing a theme.
Look at the sales of the theme
Lots of Sales and a good rating are good. They show that the theme author usually stays up to date with what is going on. It is important to know this because WordPress updates could affect the theme you are using. You want to make sure that the theme updates with the most current version of WordPress
No Sales, go to the next theme. This doesn’t mean that the theme is not good. It just means it really has been tested by users yet. I am not willing to do a trail and error report for the theme, so I would not spend my money on a premium theme that has a low amount of sales. This comes from experience as I have bought themes that had low sales and each one of them had there own issues.
Check out the layouts the theme offers
Take a look at some of the demo sites that they have made with that particular theme. Make sure there is something similar to what have been looking for. If you are doing a regular blog site then you probably don’t need something that is overpowering
With the premium themes you can load a lot of the pre-built sites they have made. If you are just starting out I would not recommend this. Once you load a mock site then theme settings completely change. You should first master the theme so you know what the settings are and how they work. After you do this then load the mock sites, on a new theme and play around with them.
Does the theme come with a page builder?
There are many options when it comes to page builders, the two I really enjoy using and I would recommend are the Visual Composer and the Divi Page Builder.
Visual Composer page builder for WordPress
In my opinion this is the best page builder out there right now. It has a lot of different features for just about anything you need. Don’t expect to be an expert at using this builder right out of the gate. Just like anything else it will take some time and experience to master. Once you have some experience with the Visual Composer the possibilities are endless.
You can buy this page builder by itself on codecayon. You can use it on any theme.
Divi page builder from Elegant Themes
The Divi page builder is really nice and will work well for beginners. This page builder is simpler than the Visual Composer and easy to use. The features are a little less though and, as with the Visual Composer, will take some time to learn and master. If your just starting out with no experience in WordPress I would recommend learning this one first. This page builder is only available at Elegant Themes. However, you can use this page builder on any theme.
Is there documentation with the theme?
This is basically a guide to the theme. It will let you know if something is possible with that theme. It should also give you some direction on how things are done with that particular theme. This will vary from theme to theme. The documentation basically serves as a frequently asked questions forum and is a valuable reference. If you need to know something about the theme this is the first place you should look.
Installing a theme inside WordPress
Installing the theme inside of WordPress is a fairly easy task. You want to login and go to the dashboard. On the right hand side you will see Appearance, under that select themes. Once in this section go to upload theme and select the zip file that contains the theme.
Installing a WordPress theme through FTP
Depending on your hosting and settings you may need to install your theme via FTP. If you are unfamiliar with FTP you will want to check out Filezilla. FTP allows you to transfer files to the backend of your website. You will need to get your database information from your hosting account and put that into Filezilla. Once connected go to public html>wp-content>themes. Unzip your theme file that has your theme in it and drag and drop this over to the theme folder. Once all the files are transferred your theme is ready to go.
Do I need a WordPress child theme?
It is important that you install a child theme along with your main theme. A child theme allows you to make changes and keep those change through out theme updates. If your theme updates and there is no child theme in place your changes will be lost. However, if you do have a child theme your changes will be there and allow the main theme to be updated. It is important that your child theme be the active theme on the site.
Most premium themes come with a child theme. The child theme should only contain a couple of files, style.css and functions.php. The child theme is small and you should be able to upload this via the WordPress dashboard no problem. Once again, make sure that the child theme is the active theme for your site.
Setting up the Theme
Each Theme is different and differs from theme to theme. Many themes can be used in more than one way. This is where mastering a theme really pays off. You can use one theme on multiple sites and have completely different looks on all of them. Get familiar with the backend of the site and where you need to go to make changes. This is your control panel, also known as the dashboard. It will take some trial and error to see what each item does and how it works as a whole.
Installing WordPress Plugins
There are a few themes I recommend when you are first starting out.
Wordfence is a great security plugin that you should be using for your new blog site. It will send you emails whenever there is suspicious activity on your site and has a number of other great security features as well. I suggest going through the tutorial they have whenever you first set it up.
Use this plugin to keep your site hidden until you are ready to go live. Keep in mind that no site is ever perfect. Don’t wait forever to go live. Get your site up and running and make changes as time goes on.
You will want to get Yoast SEO for search engine optimization. This is really an all in one solution and will really help you when writing blog posts and focusing on keywords. It keeps you on track.
Selecting a logo for your blog
You will need an identity for your blog, so you will need to make a logo. You can also have the logo made for you for a relatively low cost. This will save you time while you get your site setup.
Making your own logo
You can make your own logo in Photoshop (or Gimp, it’s free). The logo doesn’t have to be anything over the top. In fact, now days, logos are simple. Not a lot of moving elements. You want to have something that fits your niche. I really like the simple text logos. You can make a simple text logo in Photoshop fairly easily. If you haven’t worked in Photoshop before don’t worry, I made this simple tutorial on how you can make your own text logo. When it comes to color selection I like to stick to 2 colors, tie these colors in with your website.
Get a logo on Fiverr
If you haven’t heard of Fiverr.com then you are missing out. Fiverr is an online marketplace where you can get a number of different services including graphic designs, like logos. They start at $5 and go up from there. The final price and what you get depends on the person you buy from and what they offer. Some things you want to look would include the average number of items in a persons queue and the seller rating they have. A longer queue time means that you will be waiting, but also means this persons work is in demand. I have used Fiverr before and the designers have come up with some really good things. If you don’t have time to learn Photoshop then give Fiverr a try.
Styling your WordPress blog
There are a lot of things that go into styling your blog. You want to make sure that the colors you use are ones that match your logo and fit your brand. Do over do it. A busy site could lead to users being confused. Pay attention to details. If your logo has an element that makes it different try and fit that into the style of your blog. Small details tie your brand together and really make the look and feel of the site much better than those with out the small details.
Install Google analytics on your website
Installing google analytics is easy. You will need an analytics account. Go to https://analytics.google.com to get one. You will need to go through the setup. It is pretty easy. This way you will know how much traffic you are getting to your site and where it is coming from. Don’t sit there and look at it every hour after you launch. View it once a week, in the meantime get to writing some blog posts.
Go live with your blog
Once you get your website to a certain point it is time to go live. Deactivate the maintenance plugin and get out there. Tell your social media channels about your new site and start blogging. Have a few posts in line to post immediately or over the first few days. If people aren’t going to your site, don’t freak out. It takes time to get traffic. You will need to hustle and get the word out. You will need to make interesting content that keeps peoples attention and creates engagement.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]