Let's Get Your Blog Started!
As we embark on our new endeavor "Whole Made Living", I thought it would be fitting to share the process of how a blog is started and then transformed into a fully functioning information dissemination station! I will go through the steps from start; to going live with the site to help try and make the process a little clearer. All of the products and solutions that I will mention here, we use or have used on this site.
Decide On Your Domain Name
This one sounds super easy and you more than likely have a good name or two already picked out or on your short list. Now is time to start thinking about your blog's "Brand". Your domain name will be the billboard for your blogs brand on the web.
Should You Use Keywords In Your Domain?
It's time to introduce...SEO (Search Engine Optimization)! SEO is something that you should become intimately familiar with during the course of your blogging career. I will get into SEO in more detail in future posts but for now I will just say this about it...SEO is the fuel that will power your blog or website to success.
Your blog's domain name is one of those items that can go either way with SEO. Keywords in your domain name can help you in your rankings but it may not be the best overall strategy. Recent studies have also shown that keywords in the domain name help less for SEO after some fairly recent Google algorithm updates.
My personal opinion on this is to use a more brand-able domain name, something that actually gets your message across to your visitors without stuffing it full of keywords. You will have plenty of other opportunities to get your keywords craftily placed into your sites content. Don't start out by turning off your potential visitors with an awkward keyword stuffed name.
You can go to your Hosting Providers website to see if that perfect domain name is available and snatch it up!
Pick Your Web Host
What is a Web Host? It's the company that's providing you a little bit of space on their web servers for you to make your blog visible to the world. They do all of the server management and keep the computers healthy so you don't have to worry about it.
When first starting out with your blog, you probably won't be needing a massive hosting plan since the traffic will be fairly low. What you will want is a plan that is scalable so that you can increase your storage and bandwidth as the need arises.
I have used several web hosts over the years for different blogs and websites. Each one has their pro's and con's and I'm not going to get into all of that here. I will tell you that the one I have settled on for this site is A Small Orange. They have amazing customer service that has taken care of my questions every time immediately. Their prices are great and their up-time is reliable. It's also super easy to get your blog set up and running with them.
You will probably want to start out with one of their "Shared Hosting Plans". A shared hosting plan means that your site is on the same web server as other sites, bringing the cost down for everyone. In the beginning phases of your blog, this will usually be more than adequate for your needs.
Pick Your Blogging Platform
The blogging platform is basically a CMS or Content Management System that controls how your website works. Using a blogging platform like WordPress makes the process of making your website/blog much easier. If you didn't use a blogging platform, you would have to manually code the entire website yourself using programming languages like HTML, CSS, PHP and others.
The most widely used Blogging Platform is WordPress and for good reason. It is very well supported and updated and has evolved over the years into an easy to use and relatively secure platform. It is easy to set up and use for a beginner and it is also extremely full featured and extensible for a seasoned pro. It is also...FREE!
If you chose A Small Orange as your hosting provider, you can easily set up WordPress through their online cPanel interface.
Design Your Theme
So far you have picked your domain, chosen your hosting provider, plan and gotten WordPress installed and running on your site. You type your domain name into your browser and it is...visually underwhelming!! Now it's time to start working on the aesthetics of your blog!
Coming up with the visual look of your site is one of the most exciting, yet daunting parts of the blogging process. My suggestions in this section assume that you are using WordPress.
Designing a visually appealing theme for a blog requires a great deal of programming knowledge as well as web design savvy. You have to take into account how your site will look on numerous screen sizes, different types of devices, different browsers and the list goes on and on!
Lucky for you, people with the knowledge on how to make websites behave have already done most of the work for you! WordPress comes with many free themes that you can use on your blog and do some minor customization on them to get it to look more unique. These free themes are a great starting point and are a very fast way to get your site up and running cheap.
Premium Themes & Frameworks
Now that you have a few posts up on your blog, you might be looking at it and wanting to take it to the next level visually. This can be done using the free themes but it can usually be done much easier using one of the Premium Theme Frameworks.
Theme Frameworks take the functionality of WordPress and extend upon it with even more features and options. They add their own ways of allowing you to customize your theme which are sometimes more intuitive than the native WordPress themes.
There are several premium theme design companies that have taken theme design to a new level. They make products that are very sharp looking when first set up and can be easily customized with little programming knowledge to be totally unique. The premium theme framework that we use for Whole Made Living is the Genesis Framework by StudioPress.
The Genesis Framework takes a little getting used to but their site has tons of information on it to get you started and keep you moving. It also has a huge following and most any question you have can be answered with a quick Google search.
One thing to remember when using WordPress is that the visual design of your blog can change without affecting the content. I am telling you this because it allows you the flexibility to get your content written and get your blog up and running even before you have absolutely perfected the aesthetic portion of your blog to your liking. If you are anything like me, you can sit there and nit pick at every little bit and never be satisfied with the look. Knowing that you can change the look later gives you the freedom to just get moving. You can come up with a complete new theme and drop it on your blog and give it a fresh new look with very little effort.
Start Crafting Your Blog's Amazing Content!
That's enough info to get you started and on the path to a successful blog. Once you get it set up and running, it takes a lot of work and persistence to get your site and posts ranking in the search engines and circulating through the social circles. That is a topic for another post and I will be covering that soon. Until then, here is the quick summary of what needs to be done to get yourself up and running!
- Choose and purchase your domain name
- Sign up with a hosting provider
- Set up your blogging platform (i.e. WordPress)
- Choose your theme or Framework
- Blog Away!!