How to start a Blog- 10 essential steps for a successful blog

How to start a blogFirst Option

In case you are a beginner and don’t wish to spend on a website and associated expenses, you can start a blog on blogger.com, which is the blog publishing service by google and its free.

About Blogger

blogger

Usually, the blogs are hosted  at a subdomain of blogspot.com by google (for example if you are traveljaunts, your blogs will be hosted at www.traveljaunts.blogspot.com) but if you wish you can also have your own registered domain (like www.traveljaunts.com) so blogspot.com domain publishings will be redirected to the custom domain. A user can have up to 100 blogs per account.

  • Available designs– There are customizable design templates to choose from.If you wish you may also choose to create your own templates using CSS.  You can present your blog in various ways: classic, flipcard, magazine, mosaic, sidebar, snapshot, and time slide. Besides readers still have the option to choose preferable views irrespective of the default view selected by the owner.
  • Languages- There are close to 50 language available on e eblogger.
  • Country-specific blogger addresses- You can also have country specific url to manage content more locally
  • Integrations -It integrates beautifully with googleplus, facebook, twitter, pinterest  etc for social sharing, wordpress to export the content to, MS-word for editing , Ad sense for revenue generation
  • Mobile friendly – Blogger has launched mobile apps for mobile users. Users can post and edit blogs, share pics and links on Blogger using their mobile devices without any hassle.
  • No limit on no of posts or pages and you can invite others too to write on your blog for generating more content.

Advantages

Its free and is supported by google – Meaning you don’t have to worry about exposure, search engine optimization etc.

User friendly – You can easily manage your blog on this platform without any having any technical skill as it is optimized for non technical users. You need not install a software, buy a domain ,worry about hosting etc.

Monetize your website with AdSense – Google ads are based on per click and are quite profitable hence while you can enjoy all the benefits of free blogging platform, you can also earn and make profits by generating quality content on your blogger site which has better exposure and traffic.

Disadvantages

Limited design template for non technical users –  One can design a custom template only when one knows CSS but for non technical users , the design templates are limited to what is being provided on the platform.

Owned by google– The site is owned by google. You can only display advertisements allowed by google.

Limited customization– Many features which are otherwise possible in your own website using plugins etc may not be possible on blogger.

Conclusion

Blogger is one of the most popular platforms especially for the newbie in the blogging world. To start a blog , this comes handy. Initially, I started my journey of blogging too with Blogger .Whether it’s perfect for you? Then look at two things- 1. What is your purpose ?  2. What is the investment that you can make, if at all?

Second Option

If you just want to start writing, creating content without having monetization as your primary aim, then blogger is the solution.  However, if you are thinking big and serious about building your own identity and business in the long term and can afford to spend a little then use wordpress. Why?? Read below….

Why choose wordpress for blogging

Simple, it is the best content management system. It’s no wonder that over 50 million websites have been built on wordpress platform. It is an open source, the software comes for free to everyone around the world. There are many CMS (content management systems available) from open source to paid but for blogging specifically, wordpress is easy and reliable especially if you are not one of those like me who  wants her own custom design in addition.  You do have enough design template readily available on wordpress to start with , free as well as paid ones to run your website successfully. Down below I have tried to give details on each and every aspect of making your perfect website on wordpress. These are for beginners as well as users who are already on wordpress and would like to get some useful tips for best results. I have divided the articles into sections. You may choose to read whatever is relevant to you

Now lets see ….

How to create a WordPress Website

wordpress

Select a domain

Domain is the identity of your website. For ex.  www.travel-jaunts.com Users can identify your website by the domain name.Domain name and the url may not be same. Domain name is part of url. There can be many components to the url. Let’s understand each one

Url- https://apps.artiliving.com/index.php/registration

Here

https is the protocol that tells the browser how to retrieve the data. Protocols could be https, http, ftp or sftp.

www.artiliving.com is the primary domain and apps. is the subdomain.

.com the end of domain name here is top level domain (TLD) .When you buy domain names you will see options like .com, .org, .net , then county specific like .in , .uk, .ca and also brand or product specific like .tech, .media etc

index.php , is the path to the resource on the server.

registration – is the anchor to take the user to the specific page or place on the page.

This is just for understanding basic terms, you needn’t get bogged down by any of these, your primary concern is to select a name for your website and search the availability of domain name options on the site of the providers.

Select the domain name which is short, sweet and easy for users. Make sure there is no copyright infringement or trademark issues when you take up a name. If your users are local, you may go for country specific TLD like .in , .uk  to save on costs but if that is not the case  .com is more popular and well recognized. In addition ,if you are registering .com domain , then you might want to buy all other  TLD versions as well including local TLD for branding.

Where to buy a domain

You can go any of the hosting sites ,few are listed below to search and buy a domain name

Bluehost

Godaddy

Hostgator

In some cases domain comes along with hosting like on www.siteground.com but you can buy domain and hosting separately too. Infact, it is a preferred option for security sake. I have bought the domain names at godaddy and hostgator however all of my hosting is with bluehost.

Ok, once you have decided on a domain name, search for its availability on the sites mentioned above. Follow the instructions on the site to buy the available domain of your choice for the tenure that you want.You can buy domains for 1 year, 2 years , 3 years and so on. Decide based on your budget and the offers since longer tenure means better pricing.

Choose a hosting package

Domain is your legal ownership to the internet space and hosting is the place where you will store your website files. The performance of your website depends on the hosting hence it is quite an important decision. Good part is you have the option to change the type of hosting as well as the hosting provider .Besides, most hosting providers have 30 days refund policy if you are not happy with their services and offer.

There are various kinds of hostings available now

Shared hosting – Linux or windows

Managed WordPress hosting

VPS hosting & Dedicated server hosting

Cloud hosting

What to choose from here depends on your purpose and funds.

I have tried shared hosting, managed wordpress for my blog and VPs server hosting for my ecommerce website.

There are pros and cons to each of them.

Godaddy gives managed wordpress hosting, a single click installation and site migration but they don’t allow an important cache plugin and hence I had to leave godaddy. Their customer support is just not good however the hosting does comes at comparatively cheaper costs in India. If you are shifting your hosting from another server to godaddy server, all they ask is your old domain name and all files get migrated to their server.

Hostgator and blue host have good reputation India, but don’t provide site migration services if you already have a website and need to change the hosting server. When shifting your hosting from one server to another, you would have to shift each and every file using FileZilla or something similar.

Now let us understand what these hosting packages mean

Shared Hosting

Good option when question is about saving. Due to economies of scale, the Shared hosting comes at a much lower cost as a single shared hosting server can have hundreds of websites and in turn many users. It like running a joint family, one kitchen that serves all. Disadvantage is, if one goes bad ,all others get affected too. As there are many websites running on the same server, one website with problems can create all others to slow down or even bring to a halt. And all this is quite unpredictable.

Hosting providers do keep checking on the security and performance issues though and if you have a tight budget, you can look for shared hosting option from the following providers

Bluehost

Siteground

Hostgator

Godaddy 

 

VPS hosting

Virtual private server (or VPS) is similar to a shared environment but with limited users and hence the side effects are not many. Issue is the budget, it does require you to spend more compared to a shared hosting but ofcourse it is lesser when compared to the spend on dedicated server.

Unless you have lot of server space requirement and too many things at stake, dedicated servers may not be necessary. VPS hosting can give you the balance between the two, shared hosting and dedicated server. Besides the budget , VPS does take care of the unpredictability issues associated with shared hosting.

In VPS hosting,because you have a dedicated part of the server , you have more tools and admin options at your end.

A few VPS preferred providers are

Bluehost

Siteground

Hostgator

 

Managed WordPress Hosting

As the name suggests, it is for wordpress sites only and you can’t install other applications like jhoomla, drupal etc. The entire architecture is tuned to work as per the wordpress needs. It is optimized for running wordpress websites efficiently. Advantages ofcourse , the speed is much better, there are auto updates, the support is wordpress oriented.

Caution– Please check first with your hosting provider if they support all the necessary plugins that you would want on wordpress before buying the hosting plan.

WordPress hosting is the best option for a blogsite if you are on wordpress. You can buy the wordpress hosting from

Bluehost

Siteground

Hostgator

Flywheel

WP Engine

Godaddy ( If you want least cost and are not bothered about a few plugins to be necessarily there)

 

Connecting the domain to the hosting server

If you have bought the domain along with the hosting plan, this is automatically taken care of but if your domain is with one provider and hosting is with other , setting the domain is required.

To point your domain to the hosting server location, you need to do the following

Get the hosting IP address and name servers from the hosting provider

Go to the domain providers website, go to your domain account and then to DNZ zone file and change/modify the domain name servers to the name servers provided to you by the hosting company. It usually takes 48-72 hrs for the change to take effect.

Upload WordPress and install it

Managed wordpress hosting has wordpress already installed in it. However if your hosting is not a manged wordpress, you will have to install the wordpress package to start a fresh new website.

Please note: If you already have a wordpress site and you are shifting your hosting then no need to install wordpress again, you just need to upload all the files to the new server location through FTP or SFTP and create the database for the site to start running.

To start the website from scratch, intall the wordpress software. Usually most hosting providers have one click installation for software packages and they help you create a database too. If not, manual installation needs to be done.  Don’t worry just go to wordpress. org and download .The WordPress Codex has the complete installation guide.

Create a database

A database is where all your website data is stored, including your content (i.e. posts, pages, pics and comments, user data etc). To load a page, wordpress queries the database for the relevant information.

To create a database go to the C-panel (Control panel) of your account on the host server. Go to databases, you will see MySQL database option there. Click on it and click on the option – create database. Choose the username, password . In case you find this difficult, your host providers will assist you with the whole process. Watch this video for help

If you are importing the database from your previous site, then go to phpmyadmin in the c panel of the old website hosting,export the database file. To import the existing old database onto the new hosting , again go phpmyadmin in the c panel of the new host account and click on import database.

Modify WP Config file

After you are done creating the database, you require to modify the wp- config file. Modify the database name, user, password and host namely DB _NAME, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD and DB_HOST  which would be localhost.

Choose a wordpress theme

Theme is the design template for your website. After you install wordpress, you would need to choose a theme to start with. You can change theme anytime. There are numerous themes available which can be customized to suit your need. Go to worspress.org and check for options available. There are free themes as well as paid themes. You can see the user reviews as well there. You can also have a totally custom made theme for you though it may turn out to be expensive and dealing with IT developers is a challenge in itself.

There are a few pointers when selecting a theme which can help you make a better decision.

  1. Clean and rock solid code
  2. Responsiveness
  3. SEO friendly architecture
  4. Speed optimization
  5. Compatibility with the latest wordpress version and plugins
  6. Extensive support and documentation

Great design is a given. Security,speed and SEO are of high importance to survive in the blogging industry. Before you make any decision whether to go with a free theme or buy one of the premium themes available, just check to what extent the customization is possible since the theme providers do not offer any support when it comes to custom design. They offer support only to install the theme and if there are any issues in the default design. That too you have support forums. You must also check the color options, and the features if that can take care of all your requirements.

Where to buy wordpress themes

Free themes you can check on wordpress.org, infact you can search and activate them directly on your wordpress dashboard. For premium themes I have the following suggestions

Mythemeshop

Studiopress

Themeforest

WordPress.com

First two are highly recommended . Here’s my review on schema theme from mythemeshop

Powered by WP Review

Essential Plugins

Your wordpress platform is not ready yet. You need to apply few basic configurations/plugins to the platform to make sure that your site works better.

  • Akismet for spam control- Activate this plugin using the API generated.
  • Yoast SEO – For Search Engine Optimization
  • WP Backup – To craete and restore backups of your website.
  • Jetpack plugin
  • W3 total cache- For speed optimization
  • No follow for external links and Login lockdown
  • Sucuri security Plugin
  • WP subscribe which supports mailchimp to send newsletters etc.

Customize your theme

  • Insert your logo/site identity
  • Change the theme colors as per your logo
  • Customize the header and footer as per your need.
  • Build your navigation menus
  • Change the font color and size as required.
  • You can also import the demo theme to start with.

Create Pages/Posts

Some pages are essential for example homepage, About page , Contact page and Hire me or the products/service page. For blogsites, it is the blog page.

Home page

You have two options here. Either have a static page or a dynamic page . You can show your blogposts page on your homepage which will keep getting updated with the latest posts or else you can have s static page which tell a little about you and your work. Third option is to have a custom designed homepage  which would be combination of static as well as dynamic.

About Page

This is all about you, your work , why you decided to do this and how you can relate to your users.

Contact Page

Give your contact details here. If you would like to be contacted at your physical address, give a map too along with address, phone no. and email contact. You can also use contact forms here for users to send messages directly.

Blog page

This will have all the posts based on your categories and tags. If you are selling products or service , make it easy and quick for the user to see your offerings and search for whatever they need.

Search Engine Optimization for wordpress

What’s the point if all this hardwork if no one gets to know about your content and there is hardly any traffic on the website. You need the targeted traffic (users) visiting and interacting on your site and hence the important part is to do search engine optimization for your blog site.

Some basic stuff required for that…

  • Create an identity – basically title and tagline.
  • Set up Permalink URL structure for organic traffic.
  • Remove /disable pingback and trackbacks to avoid spam attacks. Ensure you have applied plugins for security as recommended above. Buy Sitelock security if needed.
  • Make sure to implement Google’s recommended  practises for your tags, categories etc on the blog ( this is important to avoid Google Panda Algorithm penalty)
  • Not just on page optimization but also off page optimization needs to be done which would mean creating good quality backlinks
  • Set up and install your social media account – facebook, twitter, linkedin, googleplus etc.

The best available plugin for SEO at present is SEO by Yoast. It handles the technical on site optimization & helps in  optimizing your content. It has real time content analysis functionality and many more features to make your website work.  With search engines changing their algorithms often , it is not very easy to make a comprehensive list for SEO here. However my tip is create the quality content that your users would find useful and interesting. If content is in place everything else will find a place too.

Guess now you are good to go 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: