Blogging is great way to build a personal brand. Moreover, the power and popularity of the inter-web gives a blog unlimited reach. In one of my posts I cover the topic of building a personal brand through social media. Check it out here. Below is a step-by-step layout of how to get a blog going.
In this section I’ll give you some great tips on how to build a professional looking blog, whatever the subject. Always remember to keep the style of your blog aligned to what you are writing about. It’s no use having a blog layout like this one if you are blogging about snowboarding or tattoos. So think long and hard about what theme will best suit your blog – I know I neglected to give enough thought about this when I was starting out.
If you prefer watching videos than reading, check out this cool little course through udemy which teaches you how to build your own website/blog on WordPress. It costs $29, but is worth the money, as it transcends building a website and covers the all important SEO, and shows you how to integrate WordPress into an e-commerce/online store setup.
Step 1: Registering your domain name
Many people find that the name they want to register is already taken. I know I spent days brainstorming for the right name because some of my favourites where already taken at ‘dot com’. Unless you want your blog to target an audience in a particular region, it is imperative that you go for a ‘dot com’ registered domain name. This is the one people remember, and it is the only web address suffix that is truly universal. The site I used to register my domain was godaddy.com.
Step 2: Hosting your blog
Once you’ve registered a domain name you will need to host your blog by finding a web host. Web hosts basically grant your blog/website space on their server, and in exchange will charge an annual fee. There are plenty on web hosting companies out there. I would would recommend Dreamhost.
Something to bear in mind, and something that I did not pay closer enough attention to, is if you buy the domain name from godaddy.com and then host it at Dreamhost you will have to ‘point’ the domain name toward Dreamhost. This is nothing complex, but still requires a bit of effort, and in due course I will post a video of how to do this. Many neglect to do this and then cannot understand why their site never appears! If you can’ t be bothered doing this, then just spend one or two dollars extra and buy the domain from Dreamhost.
Step 3 : Choosing a blog platform to build your blog on
Well….there are quite a few players in this market. I’m sure even if you are new to the blogosphere you will have heard of WordPress, tumblr and blogger. WordPress is the undisputed king of blogging platforms, and I’m not just saying this because I use it – just google ‘the best blogging platform’ and you’ll see just how many people share the same sentiment as me. Some platforms like tumblr and posterous are superior for micro-blogging (posting straight from email), but as a serious blogger platform WordPress is hard to beat. It is the most user-friendly platform and because it is so widely used it has very good support, and there is pretty much a forum for every question you may have. But personally the two best aspects of WordPress: Theme and plugin functionality, which I will go into more detail further down this post.
Step 4: Sync your blog platform with your web host
This literally takes a few seconds, and simple instructions will be provided on godaddy
Step 5: Choosing a theme for your blog
One of the benefits of WordPress is having a wide array of themes to choose from. As I’ve said at the beginning of this post, it is vital that the theme you choose fits the ethos of your blog, so preview as many themes as possible. I personally have not found a WordPress theme which like enough to make my blog theme, and you might find the same thing. The great thing is there are loads of other companies offering themes specifically for WordPress. Some of them you will have to pay for and others are free. I presently use a free theme from Woo Themes. This company has a superb range of themes catering to all tastes They’ve got business style themes, themes for visual/portfolio blogs, and themes for online shops – Remember many professional websites are built on WordPress. Check them out, its worth a look.
Step 6: Designing a logo
Depending on the blog theme you choose, your logo parameters will vary in size. Most of them will give you the dimensions, and once you know that then you or a design professional can design a logo for that space. I recommend using two design resources depending on your budget:
1. www.fiverr.com – As the name suggests, everything on this site costs just 5 dollars. The designs obviously reflect the price, but nevertheless are still very good value. The great thing about this website is that the turnaround time is very fast.
2. www.99designs.com – This website gives you the freedom to choose how much you want to spend, and then through crowdsourcing, a number of designers will compete for the design you are looking for. If you dislike any of the designs, you are entitled to a full refund.
Step 7: Finishing touches
Now that you have completed all the fundamentals of building a blog, and you are happy with the way it looks, you can begin posting and putting your opinion out into the blogosphere – yeah!! To make your blog function that much better I recommend downloading plugins. Below are 5 of my top plugins:
1. All-in-one SEO pack – a very simple to use SEO tool
2. Google XML sitemaps – helps google, bing and other search engines index your blog better
3. Jetpack for WordPress – A multifaceted plugin which inclued the anti-spam plugin ‘Akismet’ and a great social sharing plugin called ‘sharebar’
4. Online back-up for WordPress – like the name suggests
5. Thumbs excerpts – Like the name suggests, it automatically creates thumbnail images for your excerpt posts (if you choose to use them) using the images that you insert into your posts.
To customise your blog more and generate greater aesthetic appeal, widgets are the answer. Widgets have more of a physical presence than plugins and usually appear in the sidebar or footer of the your blog. They are downloaded through the WordPress plugin directory. Below are my top five widget picks:
1. Text – this allows you to insert any text or HTML code. The flexible widget out there
2. Search – allows you to insert a search box into your blog
3. Recent comments – fairly rudimentary, but a must have
4. Recent posts – same again
5. Reallsimpletwitterwidget – I don’t use this on my current blog, because my theme includes a tweet feed. This is a really nice widget as it comprises of a nice box featuring your latest 5 tweets
Check out this great video below on how to build a blog in 4 days: