8 Smart Steps to Start a Blog — Your Simple Guide
Want to blog?
Look, I never had any idea how and where to start when I wanted to.
So I had to research and learn everything from other bloggers like you’re doing.
The truth is, it’s easy.
Sit tight for me to help you start yours today.
To begin with, I want to know:
Would you be on a mediocre blogging platform?
Self hosted WordPress is the best. You would love it.
I’m talking about WordPress.org. It’s the most used CMS.
Sites like New York Post, TED, USA Today, TIME.com, TechCrunch, and many others are on it.
According to ManageWp 22% of new US registered domains alone runs on WordPress.
Sure, it has taken over half of the platforms on the internet already.
Meaning, you’ll have to learn some important basic settings in WordPress from this post.
Okay, let’s dive in.
Once you’ve chosen to use WordPress.org as your blogging platform…
1. Find a good web host
You’ve got to give your blog a name. And you’ve got to store your files somewhere that has not less than 99% up time, too.
The good news is most web hosting companies today offer both domain name registration and the storing of files. So, a good web host can handle all that for you.
Even though no web hosting service is perfect, WordPress.org recommends that we use SiteGround.
There are other good web hosting providers like:
This blog is hosted on SiteGround. What do you think?
You have your hosting now. So, it’s time to…
2. Install WordPress
SiteGround has made it easy to do the installation yourself — it’s just a click.
Using their Step-by-step WordPress Installation Guide, learn how to do it. Or watch the step-by-step video below:
Wow! You have WordPress fully installed. What’s next?
3. Choose a theme that would appeal to your audience
This blog is built with “Authority WordPress Theme” by MyThemeShop.
You’ll find thousands of free themes in the WordPress theme directory.
But don’t use any of those for the following reasons: some can break over a period of time, and there may be malicious codes in them.
Like I did, you may choose to use one of those free themes for a while and later switch to a paid one.
Read how free WordPress Themes can Sabotage your blog from the “7 Warning Signs Your Free WordPress Theme is Sabotaging Your Blog.”
Quickly, learn how to install WordPress themes from here (affiliate link).
4. Install plugins
Your new blog wouldn’t survive without WordPress plugins.
There’re plugins for…
Keep your blog safe from hackers.
You may choose to use Sucuri. This plugin gives me updates of what happens to my blog via emails.
And it cleans up this site when it’s infected with malware.
Alternatively, go for iThemes Security. This plugin also solves your backup issues. Backups insure against mistakes and the unexpected.
Search engine optimization
Yoast SEO is mostly used by bloggers these days.
Social media engagement
Give your audience the chance to share content on your blog with others on social media.
You can learn how to install WordPress plugins from here (affiliate link).
5. Install widgets
The default widgets on a WordPress blog is not useful.
So, you’ve got to install useful ones to get rid of the default widgets. But ensure you don’t get your sidebar cluttered.
Only use what your audience need.
There’re widgets used by most bloggers online. They’re the “Most Recent Posts,” “Most Popular Posts,” “Categories,” and “Text” widgets.
The Text widget is used to embed codes in your blog’s sidebar.
Take a close look at the screenshot of Gallople’s sidebar below:
Notice that my sidebar is not cluttered to take readers attention from the main reason why they visit my pages. It provides visitors with content that benefits them.
Look at the only two widgets I use for this blog in the screenshot below:
They’re the “Text” and the “MTS Popular Posts” widgets.
Learn how to add and use widgets in WordPress from here.
6. Set up a user-friendly permalink structure
The most crucial part in creating a blog is the setting up of your permalink structure.
Which of these two do you prefer?
- The WordPress default or plain permalink structure: “http://gallople.com/?p=123“
- Or the post name permalink structure: “http://gallople.com/start-a-blog“
You chose the second structure, right?
Because it’s not ugly, and can easily be remembered. It’s appealing to the eyes.
To set up a user-friendly permalink structure, go to “Settings” on the left hand side of your WordPress dashboard. And place your cursor on it for “Permalinks.”
Click on it to get the “Permalinks Settings” page that shows a list of options:
On this page, select from the “Common Settings” options “Post name.”
It’ll give you “http://gallople.com/sample-post/,” like I’ve selected for my blog pages.
Now, you have a blog.
But before you do, delete all default pages.
Open your WordPress dashboard. Go to “Posts.” And click on “All Posts” to delete the “Hello world” post.
Then, go to “Pages.” And click on “All Pages,” too to delete the “Sample page.”
It’s time to boost trust online with these…
About page: Brand your blog with a thorough “About Us” page. Make it epic.
Start here page: You can call it the “Getting Started page.” Direct users to the core of your blog, especially, the most important pages.
Terms of service and Privacy pages: These pages shows people how trustworthy your blog is.
Sitemap page: Help visitors to easily find your site pages with this page.
Contact page: Ideally, let your contact information match your whois information on this page.
Let me proof something to you here:
Hope you got it?
Start to communicate ideas, thoughts, and what your business represents with…
Your posts must be part of your overall plan to be successful online.
Learn to write better blog articles from here if you’re struggling the first time.
Make your posts part of the blog design:
Make them interesting and attractive.
Design your blog posts with a good combination of colors, images, videos, formatting and any other embeds that will keep your visitors on-page.
You’re a blogger now. And you may need people to contribute to your new blog. If you don’t, then you have to simply disable the membership registration under “General” Settings on your WordPress dashboard.
8. Start building your email list
Why should a visitor sign up to your list? What have you to offer him?
You must give out.
And what you give serves as an incentive for your blog visitors to sign up. I’m talking about “lead magnets” here.
Your lead magnet could be a white paper, an ebook, free webinar, must watch video, a survey, checklist, “cheatsheet”, etc.
You may even promote the incentive you’ve created. Let people know it’s there to be grabbed for free.
Yes, you can start a blog!
Use this guide to begin the process today.
What do you think? Do let me hear from you in the comment box.
Originally published at gallople.com on November 8, 2016.
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