If you look at my two blogs, they’re relatively straight forward. No fancy fonts, no sparkly backgrounds and no amazing sidebar graphics. Part of that stems from working under a newspaper Editor who instilled in me the rules of simplicity – lots of white space, clean lines and good images.
However, I have learnt a few tips on how to pull together a basic blog to serve most needs. If you’re using a free blog platform, you’ll be able to skip much of this.
So here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Once you have your host and domain name (for those of you going with the WordPress.org option), visit your host’s cpanel. It looks like this in Hostgator (just excuse that weird box in the middle of the image. Obviously someone’s playing around with Hostgator at the moment):
- Once you’re in your cPanel, scroll down to “software services’’ and then “QuickInstall’’. Click on the WordPress icon and follow the prompts.
- Once it’s installed, you’ll be presented with this:
- In WordPress, click on Appearance and Themes and start clicking through to find the theme that best suits what you’re hoping to achieve. You can choose how many sidebars you would like, width of the content area, size of the header and more. This blog uses the Genesis Theme. However, I also love ElegantThemes. Check out Divi – it’s divine and super easy to use!
- Add a header to the site, which you can design yourself or pay a professional. Again, Three Li’l Princesses was “homemade” (as you can tell!) and a professional did Kellie O’Brien Media. My favourite design programs are PicMonkey and Canva.
I might add at this point to be conscious of the name you give your blog for those not doing this as a business. Trying to explain the Three Li’l Princesses URL is never very easy. It’s like naming your child a simple name, but using complicated spelling.
You can play around with changing fonts through your theme. If all this feels a little overwhelming for you, but you have a desire to make it “look pretty’’, then it’s wise to enlist a designer to do this or play around with it yourself. If you need help, please send us an email.
Once upon a time I recommended people use Feedburner. This allows readers to view your content via RSS or email subscription. However, as an online marketer, I now recommend clients use email marketing systems instead of RSS readers to keep the relationship going with their audience, due to the flexibility. I recommend Mailchimp if you’re starting out and Infusionsoft if you’re a little more further along in your business.
Go to Appearances > Widgets where you can design what’s going to go in your sidebar and footer. It’s a good idea to add a small “About Me’’ (more on how to do this later), the Social Media Widget to connect with you outside the blog, and highlight either your latest service, resource or blog posts.
Join Google Analytics. This will provide you with a look into the traffic that is coming to your site – how many, what pages they viewed and how they came to find your site. It will also give you an idea of how engaged your readers are.
Create pages within your site. An About Me page and a Contact page are a good start. You may also have product pages, an online shop, services etc. Go to Pages and Add New. Once you’ve named your page and added content, you’ll need to add it to the navigation on your site. To do this, go to Appearances and Menus. You’ll then be presented with a page like this:
Under Pages on the bottom left hand side, click on the page you want to add to the menu, click Add to the Menu and it will appear in the right hand side. You can change the order by dropping and dragging, which is how it will appear across the top of your blog/website. You can also tier the pages by dragging them to the right, so whatever is above it becomes its parent page. For example, if I moved Free PR inward, the About page would become its parent page and will only be seen when hovering over About on the navigation of your blog.
- Through your HostGator cPanel create an email address. For eg, mine is kellie (at) kellieobrien (dot) com (dot) au. A word of warning, always obfuscate your email address as I’ve shown it here, otherwise the spam bots will pick it up.
Phew, that was a long one! In the next post, we’ll talk about plugins and how they can make your blog more user-friendly.
Don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I’ll help walk you through it. Also, if you’ve noticed something on my blog that you’d like to know more about, feel free to ask. I’m more than happy to share my experiences.
*As a disclaimer, the * links is a referral link. So if you decide to work with the company in the future, I may receive a commission. However, it doesn’t mean you will be charged any extra for using their services.