You’ve been thinking about it for years and have finally decided to start your blog. Congrats! Now comes the hard part, getting your site site up and ready to share with the world.
Domain, Hosting & SSL
Getting a good hosting plan is key to a good start to your blog. While there are a lot of great hosts out there, I personally use and recommend Siteground (I get a small commission if you sign up using this link); they offer great customer support, good prices and free SSL certificate with your domain. Their Start Up Managed WordPress plan is usually enough for just starting out and you can always upgrade when you get huge.
Once you’ve set up your hosting account and domain, make sure you create an SSL Certificate for your site- it’s that little green lock that shows up in your domain bar. Most hosting plans offer this for free and it’s easy to set up. Keep in mind that if you don’t have it, you will show up lower in search engine results.
Most hosting plans come with free WordPress setup to make getting started as easy as possible. Simply log into your hosting panel and look for something called installations. This will have multiple popular platforms, including WordPress. Keep the basic settings (don’t forget to write down your admin password) and install. Voila! You have a WordPress website.
To log into your new site, go to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin (change yourdomain.com to your domain name), here you’ll log in and start blogging away.
Choose A Theme
Your site’s appearance is probably the most important thing to you right now, but I suggest that you get a free working theme to start out and focus on your content before spending a lot of time and money on customization. WordPress offers a lot of free themes that work well and will get you started.
To access the free themes on WordPress.org, go to Appearance > Themes and choose Add New. You’ll see thousands of free themes, which can be slightly overwhelming. Try searching for terms that are related to your blog subject or just browse until you find something you like. When you find something, click Install and go back to the Themes dashboard to activate.
When you first take a look and your new website, you’ll realize that this looks nothing like the nice thumbnail you saw when you chose it. That’s because you haven’t filled in any information yet. First thing’s first- set up a few test blog posts under Posts > Add New. Create a title, throw in some content and add a Featured image, then publish. It’s always helpful when tweaking options to have something to work with.
If you’re still not seeing anything on your home page, try going to Appearance > Customize and tweak the options you find there. Often, theme designers will put their theme design tools here and you can change the settings to get the look you want. Some themes haven’t been updated for a while, so if you really don’t like your current theme, it’s easy to swap out for a new one.
Make Some Pages
There are two ways you blog will display content Posts and Pages. Posts are articles, blog posts or anything you’ll be adding regularly or categorized and dated. Pages are for content that is static and won’t need to be organized; things like About Us, Contact or Terms & Conditions. Creating Pages is similar to Posts, except you won’t be able to categorize.
You will also be able to decide what you want to show for your Home Page. Most blog sites will choose to show their most recent posts, but you may prefer to have static content. By default, WordPress sites show recent posts but you can change to a page by going to Settings > Reading and choosing Show a Static Page and select the page you want. Click Save Changes and you have a new Home page.
Menus, Menus, Menus
Let’s talk about menus. For some reason, menus in WordPress are really difficult for people to wrap their heads around. Each theme will deal with menus slightly differently but they all start from the same point. To create your first menu, go to Appearance > Menus.
Name your new menu anything, then click Create Menu.
Now that you have your new menu, you’ll need to do a few things. There should be a few options under Menu Settings. Here you’ll see Primary, but in your theme it might be called something different. Click the checkbox that is next to Currently set to: Main Menu.
Next, add some Posts or Pages. In the Add menu items column, you’ll see some options. At the top are Pages then Posts then Post Categories. You can expand each section by checking the arrow to the right. Pick a few options to populate your menu. The order can be changed by dragging the name block around. You can also create dropdown menus by pulling the block slightly to the right. Click on Save Menu and you have your new menu.
Keep It (SEO) Friendly
WordPress sites are naturally SEO magnets, but when you’re creating content, you might need some help to stay focused on optimizing for search engines. Yoast maintains one of the best SEO plugins to help you make your site rank higher in search engines. To install, simply go to Plugins > Add New and search for Yoast. Click on Install, then Activate.
Now, when you add posts, you’ll see a new option on the page.
The plugin will allow you to set a focus keyword and build a post around it, reminding you to write clearly and over the 300 word limit. You can also set how search engines see your content and change the image displayed. It’s a helpful tool if you want to try to increase traffic.
Now you should have fully functioning blog. However, if you run into any issues, or need help getting set up- get in touch and we’ll let you know what we can do.