How to start blogging: Setting up a self-hosted blog
Yesterday we talked about defining your blogging goals in order to determine whether you should go with a free, hosted platform or a self-hosted situation. Now let’s get serious. How exactly do you set up a self-hosted blog?
Here’s a refresher:
Free / Hosted: Great for personal journal blogging, easy & free, some customization, but you can’t run ads or have sponsored content (OPTIONS: Blogger.com, Typepad.com, WordPress.com, Tumblr), long URL (evolvedmommy.wordpress.com instead of evolvedmommy.com)
Self-Hosted: Complete customization, tidy URL (buy your own domain), ads / sponsorship allowed, costs a little bit of money. Great for niche publication or lifestyle blogging.
You have words. Lots of words. Let them out in the way that only you can.
How to set up a self-hosted blog
Pick a domain
This should be relevant to the type of content you intend to write, and it should represent your unique personality. These things will come to define your personal brand. Go for the .com.
Even if you think you have the perfect name and the .com is not available, do not be tempted to buy the .net, .biz, .org, .us or any other extension. No.
While you’re buying domains, go ahead an buy your name (ex: stephaniemccratic.com) before someone else does.
If you are writing about balancing work and life, and you love acorns because they represent new opportunities, strength and hope, you may not be able to get acorn.com, but you might try acornadventures.com, acornadvice.com, officeacorn.com or something else similar.
Set up your platform
Head over to wordpress.org to set up your platform.
Remember, this is not the same as the hosted platform wordpress.com, although the two are related.
Buy A Theme
Go to ThemeForest and pick a design theme you like. You’ll still need to buy or create a logo, but this is the overall look of your site.
PRO TIP: Do not use a free theme. Why? Because free themes are usually built by beginners or SEO tricksters who hide dirty code or links in them.
Customize Your Blog
You want to keep plugins and widgets to a minimum so that your page does not load slowly. There are a few key plugins that you’ll want to install right away.
Must-have WordPress Plugins:
- Akismet (This one is the MOST important because it’s your spam comments filter)
- Google Publisher Plugin (connects you Google AdSense & Webmaster Tools to your site)
- Google Site Verification pluging using Meta Tag (Connects your Google Analytics to your site)
- Google XML Sitemaps (helps search engines index your blog)
- Jetpack (traffic stats and other fun tools)
- WordPress SEO by Joost de Valk (makes SEO super easy)
- WP Super Cache (good for page load time)
This is your sidebar area. From the dashboard go to Appearance > Widgets and look around.
Think about what is important to you “above the fold” because fewer than 12% of visitors will ever scroll down on your blog.
Some Widget Ideas:
- Embed an email signup form (go to MailChimp to set up an account and grab the HTML code for the list subscribe form)
- Add social media icons to encourage people to connect with you across the Internet
- Place ads (I like Passionfruit as opposed to Google Adsense because I make actual money with them)
- Add a Blog Roll with links to other blogs you enjoy
- Show links to your favorite posts
- Highlight your achievements and credentials
Blogger tip: If you get stuck try a simple Google search of your issue. Chances are, someone else has hit the same wall and has the solution.
Here’s a great infographic from wpbeginner