How To Start and Set Up Your Own Blog This Weekend
It’s my belief that we all have value to share; no one has your unique view of the world based on your individual experiences. If you feel called to start a blog, you definitely should take the plunge and go for it, you’ve probably got nothing to loose and you never know who your blog could help or where the experience could lead!
When deciding to start your own Blog, probably the first big decision is going to be which platform or content management system to use. With a bit of googling you’ll soon realize there are extensive options. Here’s 5 reasons why WordPress is awesome that you may not know about and how it might be the right fit for your blog:
1. WordPress Is Awesome
WordPress powers about 24% of the all sites on the Internet, which is incredible and also demonstrates your in good hands!
It’s extremely powerful, adaptable, secure, easy to use, cost-effective and I’ll go so far as to say it has everything your looking for, plus everything that you hadn’t even realized you needed yet.
2. You Own The Rights To Your Website
WordPress is an open source (free!) Content Management System or CMS for short. When creating a web presence with WordPress you own your website – which is important because it means you are in the driving seat and what you say goes. Websites built upon other platforms and frameworks do not necessarily grant you ownership. It’s definitely worth verifying your rights of ownership before committing to a platform, framework, designer or developer.
3. Extensive Design & Functionality
WordPress websites offer ever increasing design, functionality and features due to its structure to utilize themes and plugins. “Can WordPress do this?” It’s one of the most common questions and I’ve honestly never said no.
WordPress websites are very cost-effective because they are 100% owned by their owner. This means the website maintenance costs are in your hands to choose a domain name and hosting service provider, usually costing less than $200 a year. Where as a ‘platform’ provider may charge a monthly fee (which you’ll be committing to indefinitely) to use their platform and host your website.
5. It’s A Win-Win
From a clients point of view – WordPress is very easy to use – No one wants to receive a new beautiful site if managing or tweaking it puts your stress into overdrive.
From a designers perspective – it’s vital your client’s web platform will be easy to manage (if they choose to do it themselves) be SEO-friendly, secure and adaptable to new features and technologies that the future may bring. WordPress delivers in all these areas.
Decide between WordPress Free or Premium
You might have seen that WordPress has two platforms; WordPress.com and WordPresss.org. So what’s really the difference between the two versions and which one should you choose?
WORDPRESS.COM is a free-hosted blogging platform
WORDPRESS.ORG is an open source content management system (or CMS for short), that requires hosting, but you can do ANYTHING with.
If you already have WordPress but you’re not sure which one you have, here’s a super simple tutorial to check for yourself.
WordPress.COM Is Right For You If:
You’re ready to dip your toes into blogging or to create your own web page for free and you’re open to transferring to WordPress.org if your site expand later down the track.
– Great free option to get started; you won’t have to purchase a domain name or website hosting.
– Hosting, security and backups included
– You can upgrade to a custom domain such as yourblog.com
– Integrate with social media channels
– In-build features including statistics, sharing and comments
– Themes are limited to WordPress.com’s theme catalog
– Plugins are incompatible; you won’t have access to any cool features that plugins provide.
– If you wish to upgrade later on it’s relatively simple to transfer your site to WordPress.org
WordPress.ORG Is Right For You If:
You know what you want and your ready to go after it! Or you love options and you’re ready to explore them!
– It’s inexpensive to get started; you’ll just need to register a domain name and purchase website hosting.
– You’ll have access to almost an unlimited number of premium WordPress themes to update the styling of your site
– You’ll have access to all WordPress plugins to extend functionality to your site
– You can create any kind of website, such as; a blog, online store, portfolio website, marketplace etc.
– You can add any kind of features; galleries, bookings, eCommerce, courses, etc.– You’ll maintain full control and own all the rights to your site
If you decide WordPress.com is the right fit for you now, you can sign up free here and get started straight away.
Or if you decide you would like the flexibility that wordpress.org offers, keep reading how to get started and set up your site!
Set Up Your Site
Domain + Hosting
First you’ll need a domain name and a good web hosting company that knows WordPress. I recommend Name Cheap or BlueHost.
Name Cheap* is a full provider of domains, hosting and SSL certificates. They have the quickest and most helpful customer service I’ve experience from a web provider! and I really appreciate registering everything under with 1 provider because it makes managing and renewals so much easier.
BlueHost* has cheap and solid hosting if you’re just starting out with a personal blog or small business website. I don’t think their suitable for high traffic commercial or eCommerce sites – for these I’d recommend Name Cheap above.
In most circumstances, installing WordPress is a simple process that takes less than five minutes to complete. All best WordPress web hosting companies allow you to install WordPress with few clicks with an auto-installer. Here are the steps to install WordPress yourself (or you can always ask your hosting provider nicely if they could install it for you!)
1. Simply login to your control panel (cpanel account for short) – your hosting company would have provided this information when you signed up to host your website. Go to your control panel URL and login with your username and password. Look for Softaculous icon or WordPress installer icon. You will find them under Auto Installers section.
2. Clicking on any of these icons will launch Softaculous auto-installer for WordPress. First you will see an overview of WordPress. You need to click on the Install tab to continue.
3. Softaculous will now ask you where you want to install WordPress.
Choose HTTP for every situation, except if your are launching your site with eCommerce and processing payments, then choose HTTPS It’s up to your personal preference if you would like http://www or http:// – It doesn’t matter which one you choose but you will have to remember it as this will be your proper URL.
After that, you need to choose the domain name where you want to install WordPress. Most users want to install WordPress in their domain name (like example.com In that case, you need to make sure that the ‘In Directory’ field is blank. Scroll down a little, and you will see the site settings section.
4. Under this section, first you need to provide a title and description for your WordPress site. (You can easily change this later.)
Next, you need to choose an admin username, password, and email address. Make sure that you enter correct email address in the admin email field. This is where WordPress will send notifications and password reset link if you ever forgot your password.
The rest of the options on the screen are optional. You can now click on the install button to install WordPress.
5. You will see a progress bar with installation status. It will take a couple of minutes, do not close the window until the progress bar reaches 100% otherwise this may affect your WordPress installation.
6. You will see a success message after the installation is finished. It will also show you a link to your website and another link to your WordPress admin area.
7. To login to your WordPress dashboard click the “Administrative URL” and login with your chosen username and password.
For future reference; login to your WordPress dashboard by placing /wp-admin on the end of your domain, for example: http://www.sugarandcode.com/wp-admin
And that’s it, you’ve successfully installed WordPress!
Choose a Theme
WordPress websites offer ever increasing design, functionality and features due to its structure to utilize themes. A “theme” is like a skin or design for your site, that styles your content – essentially it’s the web design. When choosing a theme I’d suggest deciding which features you’d love to have, then previewing the live demo site for each theme that interests you.
Where to find gorgeous blog themes? Etsy and Creative Market (or our store!) are a great place to start.
All of our themes have built-in color and layout options available, so keep that in mind as you’re scanning through the live preview site. Choose a theme that will require the fewest customizations and one that most closely resembles your ideal site.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed for which theme to choose and you’re feeling decision fatigue, you can always start with a free theme. You don’t necessarily have to commit to a design and purchase paid premium theme.
I have created a free theme called Blogging Babe! You can find the details here including live preview and free download.
I also created a round-up blog post of 8 Free Feminine WordPress Themes for bloggers and female entrepreneurs.
I also have a collection of premium designs and web design kits which you can browse.
Upload a theme
Please note, if you’ve selected a theme that uses a framework, (like our themes which use the Genesis Framework) you’ll need to install the framework, first before you install the theme. Don’t worry, the process for installing a framework or a theme is exactly the same.
Using a framework (such as the genesis framework that i build my themes upon) usually offers extra benefits than using just a stand alone theme such as seo, security, speed and performance, and because this functionality is separate from the design, the code operates at its peak!
1. Go to your computer folders and find the zip file you saved to your computer. Unzip the file by right
clicking on the zip file and choosing “Extract All” or “Unzip”.
2. After it’s unzipped you should see the theme zip folder, a framework zip folder (if your theme uses one) and any other extra files your theme designer has provided.
3. Log in to your WordPress.org account and click on “Appearance” then “Themes” on the left hand side of your dashboard.
Next click on “Add New” at the top of your page then click on “Upload Theme”.
Click on “browse”, find/choose the Theme zip file you saved to your computer, then click on “open”.
Click on “Install Now” then click on “Activate”.
You’ve successfully uploaded your theme!
Adding a new blog post in WordPress is quite easy (Just navigate Posts > Add New Post) but in this post I thought I’d explain some the features that make up the content editor and the hidden gems you may not know are available. Let’s go!
Introducing The Content Editor
The first text area on the content editor is for the post title and just underneath it you can edit the URL of your post. Remember to use keyword-rich titles and url’s that describe what your post is about and the benefit readers will receive from reading it.
Below the post title is the Content Editor and this is where you’ll write your post.
If you write your blog posts elsewhere offline, be sure to press the “Paste As Text” button in visual editor before pasting your text. This will remove any formatting style of the text so it displays in your theme’s style.
It’s more user friendly to use the content editors Visual Editor rather than the Text Editor. The Visual Editor has been compared to an online version of Microsoft Word with it’s similar layout and formatting options.
On the other hand, text editor is a plain text editor where you can actually see the HTML or write your own.
In the footer area of the content editor, WordPress will show you the word count for your post.
As you write, WordPress will automatically save a draft of your post. The post editor shows your current draft and autosave status in the footer next to word count.
How To Add Images + Media
Above the Content Area there is an “Add Media” button. By clicking on it, this will launch the media uploader in a pop-up window where you can upload new images or select images previously uploaded stored in Media.
Simply click insert into post to insert an image. Repeat the process for multiple images. WordPress comes with some basic image editing tools such as resizing and aligning.
Hover your mouse over the image to display the aligning and editing options. To edit the image, click the pencil icon which will bring up the WordPress image options. Here you can select sizing, alignment and link options.
And when your image is ready, just click update.
How To Add Videos
Instead of uploading videos straight to your WordPress media library, it’s a much better idea to upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo, then simply paste your video URL in the post editor.
And that’s it! WordPress will now display your video.
Adding Categories & Tags
You can sort your posts into categories and tags. The categories and tags meta boxes usually appear in the right hand column, below the publish box. Categories and tags help you organise your content for your readers.
Adding A Featured Image (Post Thumbnail)
Simply click on the “Set Featured Image” button and it will bring up the media uploader pop-up. You can select an image from your previous uploads or upload a new image from your computer.
If your post is displaying without an image thumbnail, this will be the reason why!
Your publishing options for your posts can be managed at at the top right box in the WordPress post edit screen
1. Save Draft button stores a draft of the post or page that you are working on. WordPress also auto-saves your posts as you write them.
2. Preview button shows a live preview of your post. You can use it to see how your post will look after publishing.
3. Status allows you to set a status for your post. WordPress automatically handles post status for drafts and published posts. Unless you are using a plugin to add custom statuses, you don’t need to worry about this option.
5. The next option allows you to password protect a post in WordPress.
7. Click on the edit link next to Publish, and WordPress will display the time and date options. You can use this option to schedule posts or create back dated post in WordPress.
8. Move to trash allows you to delete a WordPress post. Deleted posts live under trash, and you can restore them if you need to for up to 30 days.
9. Finally, the publish button makes your WordPress post public. Remember if you scheduled a post, then it will appear on your site on the scheduled date and time.
Cheering you on,