Hurray! You’ve finally decided to have your own website.
The only problem is that you don’t know where to start.
But that’s ok, because I’m here to take you by the hand.
And I promise you that if you follow these steps, I’ll make it enjoyable as much as possible.
So let’s get started.
Learn How to Start A Blog
Blogs or simply (web logs) has started out as a way to journal or take notes of your online journey. Blogs have now evolved into more than just personal “diaries”.
Today, blogs are used by a lot of small businesses,professionals, and even by big companies like Google.
Probably, the 2 biggest reasons that many people (including myself) are using blogs as part of their marketing strategy are because:
1. Blogs are easy to manage. – Just login, enter your blog updates, proofread and hit the publish button. Once, the blog has been setup, it can be a very powerful marketing machine.
2. Blogs gets more visibility from the search engines – Compared with a traditional static HTML website, I’ve found that my blogs have more visibility (rankings) in the search engines. This could be because of Pings, Trackbacks, Social Sharing and Commenting systems that blogs have.
If you are convinced that blogs are important for the success of your business or online presence, then congratulate yourself because most of your competitors still have static websites and you are way ahead of them.
Should I Get a Free Blog (Hosted) or a Self Hosted blog (own Domain name)?
If you have a business and you would like to present your brand professionally to potential clients, would you rather show yourbrandname.wordpress.com or www.yourbrandname.com?
It doesn’t make sense to build a blog on free platforms like www.blogger.com, especially if you are selling products and services.
Having your own domain name also allows you to create your own professional email that has your domain name on it.
Example: [email protected]
Getting your own domain name is easy. I’ve outline these steps for you to follow:
1. Brain storm potential domain names.
It’s important to choose a domain name that is easily remembered. Don’t put hyphens in your domain names. If the domain name that you like is not available, try to add a modifier at the end of the domain name like adding hq for headquarters. Never use numbers on your domain names, unless it’s part of your business name. Try to incorporate keywords in your domain name because they can help you rank for that keyword in the search engines, just remember not to overdo it.
2. Register your domain name at any domain name providers
You can find many domain name registrars (They register, check and save the domain name for you) online. But I have used Namecheap and 1and1 for most of my websites. I like namecheap because it’s quick and their support desk is awesome, but with 1and1 I could get a big discount especially when they run their promotions from time to time. *You can buy your domain name from Hosting providers like hostgator. Details below this post.
3. Only choose a domain name that ends in .com .net or .org
I’ve bought .info websites before because it’s a lot cheaper, only to find out that it doesn’t rank very well in the search engines because it has been associated with web spam. Don’t buy these other domains not ending in .com, .net, or .org. Note: If you are ONLY targeting a local country for your search engine traffic, then a country specific TLD (top level domain) name would help you boost your rankings locally.
Buy a .ca domain if you are providing products and services in Canada.
Buy a .ph domain if you are providing products and services in the Philippines
4. Buy the domain (you have an option to buy a domain for 1 year or more) and Complete your Profile.
Enter your name, address, and contact details. ICANN requires that you use a REAL and Verifiable contact details, otherwise you risk the possibility of getting your domain blacklisted. If you want to hide these details from Public, you may want to choose a Whois Privacy subscription. Namecheap and 1and1 provides 1year of Whois Privacy protection for free.
Now that you have bought your domain name, you’ll need to link it a Web Host or Hosting Provider.
What is a Hosting Provider?
It’s basically where you host the files (images, videos, documents, articles) on your website.
Your content has to be “Always Available” online, so you need a reliable and fast hosting provider. Your domain name is just like an address. Without a hosting provider, people who visits your site will see nothing but a blank or default domain page.
There are basically 3 types of Hosting providers (regardless of brands)
1. Shared Hosting
2. VPS Hosting or Virtual Private Server Hosting
3. Dedicated Servers
Shared hostings are the most basic types of hosting packages. They are cheap, and easy to setup, but they won’t be able to handle a website with lots of traffic (500+ visits/day). If you reached this threshold, your hosting provider my temporarily lock your account because you are violating their “fair usage” policy.
Shared hosting accounts costs around $3-$10 per month. I highly recommend going with a shared hosting plan if you have a new website without lots of traffic. Upgrade your hosting packages when you’ve reached this threshold. I use the Hostgator Baby Plan (3 years) for my niche websites. Use this coupon: TRAFFICSALAD25 to get a big 25% Discount.
Virtual Private Servers or VPS Hosting packages are more expensive since they have a separate allocation of CPU resources. It’s a lot faster than shared hosting since you don’t compete with hundreds of other websites out there. The only problem is that you’ll need to set it up properly, and it’s a little bit harder to setup than a shared hosting account. The VPS Hosting packages usually costs around $20 – $50 depending on the allocated resources. The one that I use is the 2 XEN VPS Hosting 1024 Memory, 60GB Space VPS Hosting from Namecheap, and I’m really happy with it.
Dedicated Servers are best for websites that receives high volumes of traffic. We’re talking about thousands of visitors each day. They usually cost about $100+ per month and usually requires more technical setup. I can’t recommend any Dedicated servers, because I haven’t used one yet.
Most hosting providers like hostgator, allows you to buy the domain name and hosting from them at the same time(see image below). If you haven’t bought your own domain yet, they you can definitely save the hassle because you can get your own domain name within hostgator.
But in case you have bought your domain separately from your hosting account, you’ll need the DNS settings of your Hosting provider. Usually they can be found in the email that was sent when you bought the domain. And they would look like these:
DNS Settings : 192.168.0.101
DNS Settings : 192.168.0.102
Add these DNS Settings to your Domain Registrars (Namecheap settings or 1and1 settings).
These are the IP addresses of your hosting account. Basically, you’ll connecting them with the domain name you just bought so that they are communicating with each other. If you have just signed up with your domain name, you’ll to need to wait for about 24 hours before your new domain name is ready and propagated across the internet.
To check if your site is ready, open your favorite browser and type in your new domain name. If it shows an error, then your domain is not yet ready. You will know that your domain name is ready when you can see the splash page of Hostgator (or the splash page of the hosting provider that you are using)
After connecting your Domain and your Hosting account, we can now start installing a Blog on your hosting domain. And our favorite Content Management System is WORDPRESS.
There are many CMS or Content Management Systems out there like Drupal, Joomla and a whole lot more.
But I’ve chosen WordPress for a number of reasons:
1. WordPress is FREE and it’s being used by a lot of people. The search engine love wordpress sites and they gain more visibility from the search engines.
2. WordPress has a huge option of themes and customization capabilities. You can create great looking and yet highly functional websites with wordpress.
3. WordPress has Tons of Powerful plugins and scripts that you can install (FREE and PAID Plugins). These plugins allows me to create membership websites, create private posts, email marketing, video plugins, social sharing buttons, the lists goes on and on.
And if you are using Hostgator, it’s very easy to install your first WordPress blog.
Most Hosting providers have a CPanel account that you can use as a central command dashboard for your entire hosting account.
Here are just some of the most important things that you can do with your CPanel account.
1. You can choose 1-click installs of WordPress Blogs.
2. You can create your own branded emails ([email protected])
3. You can install a lot of customizations in Cpanel. You can create subdomains, you can create a ticketing system or probably start your own forum using Cpanel applications.
To access your Cpanel Account, simply type in your domain name and include /cpanel
And it will ask for your username and password. Enter these details and welcome to your Cpanel dashboard.
Install the WordPress CMS software using FANTASTICO.
Fantastico is a simple to use software that allows you to install a lot of software and applications in your hosting account. Select WordPress in the left hand menu and follow the instructions to complete your wordpress installation. Keep a hard copy of your username and password.
After installing wordpress, you can check out your website by simply entering your domain in any browser and this is what it would look like.
But that’s ok, because I’ll be showing you how to create beautiful and fully customizable wordpress blogs using wordpress themes.
What are WordPress Themes?
WordPress themes are like skins and templates that allows you to quickly change the look of your wordpress blogs.
Basically there are Free and Paid Options, and if you have coding and programming skills, you can optimize most free themes to suite your needs.
But the easiest and best route that I’ve taken is to choose PREMIUM themes, simply because of these criterias:
1. Choose a Premium Theme that has support for Responsive Design.
Responsive Design means that your website will still look beautiful even if you are going to browse it in different devices. Responsive designs are very important for today, because a lot of people are already using their mobile phones to search and browse the internet.
2. Choose a Premium Theme that can be quickly customized to suite your needs and that doesn’t compromise speed.
I want my site to load fast since the search engines are considering speed in ranking websites. I also want a theme that allows me to provide me with what I need. If I need to a membership site, there is a wordpress theme for that. If I need an ecommerce site, there’s another premium theme that would be best for that. If my site showcases a lot of pictures, galleries, etc, then there’s are several wordpress photography themes for that.
Here are my Top Recommended WordPress Themes
1. OptimizePress – This is one of the easiest to use and most powerful Membership themes today. It allows you to quickly create modules, membership access, private posts, social commenting system, etc. Integrate it with Membership plugins like S2member, Wishlist, or Digital Access Pass and you have a fully functional membership theme that you can use to provide members only access of your content.
2. Genesis Theme – This is a fully responsive WordPress theme that acts as a framework. A WordPress framework theme allows you to do a lot of customization on your website, from fonts, padding, css styles, and even different page layouts (squeeze pages, landing pages, home pages, blog posts). It requires a little bit of tweaking but with the genesis theme, the support forum is great and there’s a huge community to help you with your needs.
3. Woothemes – Beautiful, Plug and Use wordpress themes. If you don’t have time to fiddle with a lot of code, and you’d like to have a fully functional, beautiful wordpress websites in just a few days, then Woothemes might be a great option for you. It contains a lot of added features like, their customized widgets, woo sidebar, woo dojo, woo features, etc. These add-ons allows me to create professionally looking websites in just a few hours.
The fastest that I’ve done with a premium wordpress theme is a fully customized website in less than 3 hours, and everything was up and running.
Now that you’ve changed the look and feel of your wordpress blog, it’s time to install some WordPress plugins.
What are WordPress Plugins?
Think of wordpress plugins as add-ons for your blog that provides extra benefits. There are tons of WordPress plugins out there, and chances are, there’s a plugin for whatever function you need for your wordpress websites.
Here’s my Top List of WordPress plugins and Why I use Them
1. Backup Creator – Saves an entire copy of your website automatically. Syncs to FTP, Amazon or Dropbox.
There’s nothing worse than having lost all your blog posts and pages because you were hacked or your blog’s security was compromised. This happened to me before and all my content was deleted. It’s not because of hacking, but because of a corrupted database. Good thing I have Backup creator installed. I simply uploaded the backup of my entire website to ftp, then choose this file as my backup , and within a few minutes, I have my old site up and running like nothing happened. This is a MUST tool. It’s a Premium plugin, but it’s
2. Google Analytics by Yoast – This plugin integrates with Google Analytics easily.
You can’t improve your traffic and website, if you can’t measure it. Install Google analytics tracking code without fiddling with your PHP files or finding </head> tags. With these plugin, you’ll just need to authenticate your google analytics account and choose the right profile. And did I say that the Plugin is Free.
3. WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast or SEO Ultimate – The only SEO Plugins that you’ll need.
If you are just starting out with blogging, I highly recommend WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. It includes an on page optimization checker which helps you determine if the content you’ve written is optimized for the search engines.
While the SEO Ultimate plugin allows for easy optimization of meta data if you have a lot of existing content. I’m using SEO Ultimate if I have a lot of posts that I need to optimize quickly. But if I’m starting out a new blog, I would always use WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast.
Yoast’s plugin also has an XML Sitemap that you can use to submit your website to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster tool so that they will crawl your website faster.
4. Fast Secure Contact Form – You can easily add a contact form in your contact page using this Plugin, but if you would like something that is more advanced, you can use a plugin like Vita which allows contact scheduling and more.
5. Quick Cache – Speed is now critical to search engines because it’s now a ranking factor. You may want to install a Browser Caching plugin like Quick Cache to help you speed up your website. This works by caching images and files locally to a visitor’s cache, decreasing drain of resources on your server and hosting.
There’s definitely more plugins out there. But these plugins are the most fundamental requirements for any new blog.
Now that you’ve installed your blog, added a wordpress theme, and plugins, it’s time to create your very first post.
How to Publish your very first post…
A. Login to your wordpress dashboard. The login page can usually be found after your domain name and wp-login.php = http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-login.php
B. Enter your username and password
C. Navigate to the Left sidebar then select POSTS then ADD NEW
Follow these Steps:
2. This is where you type and enter your blog post. You can use the different icons above to modify your blog posts. You can change H1 headings, italicize, bold, underline, create a hyperlink and more.
3. The default category is Uncategorized, and I try to create relevant categories for my posts. This helps users and the search engines find relevance about my website. This also helps my websites rank better in the search engines.
4. You can choose to publish, save in draft or schedule your post to go live anytime you specify. Make sure that you’ve proof read your article before making it live. If you’ve made an error, you can edit your published article and then click the update button to reflect the changes.
5. Tags are keywords. I recommend that you include relevant tags for your website. These tags are not considered by the search engines, but they can help your users find relevant content on your site, especially if you have a large blog.
I’ve created a new niche site/blog from scratch and they will be revealed in my newsletter series. If you would like to learn more about it, click the button below