How to make your first WordPress blog awesome
Have you been putting off setting up your first WordPress blog?
I so get it! If like me, you're not especially techy then it can be easy to feel a bit overwhelmed and to assume that setting up a blog will be WAY too complicated to accomplish without paying out a fortune for someone to provide technical support, design and goodness knows what else...
Good news! It's absolutely possible to set up a great looking, professional blog, even without design or programming experience!
There's a reason that WordPress is used on more than a quarter of ALL websites - it's easy to set up, user-friendly (even for a non-techy like me) and comes with tons of easy to edit templates so you don't need to be a superstar designer to get a professional looking blog.
Blogging gives your business a huge bonus so grab a cuppa, a pad and pen and I'll tell you the key things you need to consider for a successful first WordPress blog.
Choosing a niche
If you're setting up a blog for an existing business then this part should be fairly straight forward because you'll basically be blogging about things related to that. It does take a little thought though and there are a couple of considerations that you should iron out before moving to the next step.
How broad or narrow do you want your niche to be? A broad niche allows you to cover more topics and gives you more scope to reach a larger audience. HOWEVER, go too broad and your blog probably won't be specific enough to really capture people's interest.
Not sure what I mean? Well, let's say you have a book selling business and you specialise in historical books about World War I. You may be tempted to broaden your blog to cover a wider range of books - this might help you reach a new audience of people who aren't that interested in reading about World War I but are eager for information on the French Revolution....
Your World War I fans may end up going elsewhere and you may lose your 'specialist' advantage by entering a wider pool. I know who I'd pick if I was looking for a great book on World War I and I had the choice between a World War I specialist and a general historical book seller...
Choosing a great domain name
The next thing you need to do is to decide on a name for your blog and purchase your domain name. If you've already got a business then you're going to want to use the same name so as not to cause confusion.
If you're setting up your business and blog at the same time or are just wanting to get a blog up and running on its own, then a good name can play a big part in its success. Here are a few tips to help you avoid some common pitfalls...
Your name should relate to your niche. Pretty obvious? Hopefully! You want to be found easily when someone is looking for info on your niche so it makes absolute sense to make sure your name fits the bill.
On a similar subject, don't try to be too clever. Funny puns and so on might get a laugh but they may hamper your SEO - that's to say, your ability to be found in search.
Also, keep it short and simple. You want people to remember it and be able to spell it or they won't be able to find you!
Hosted or Self-hosted?
Ok, this is where it starts to get a bit technical - but stay with me! If I can understand it, then you can too. 🙂
When you set up your blog with WordPress, you can choose whether you want WordPress to host it, or whether you want to go with a separate hosting company. Not sure what the heck I'm on about? Here's a handy infographic to break it down for you...
In a nutshell, if you're just blogging for fun then WordPress hosting is free and can save a whole heap of hassle, BUT if you're looking to blog for your business then self-hosted is probably the way to go because it allows so much more flexibility. It's an important decision to make before you get started because moving from hosted to self-hosted once you've got going can be a pain you may want to save yourself.
Choosing a Theme
When you set up a blog with WordPress, you will be asked to choose a theme. This is what determines the key design elements of your website. There are plenty to choose from - some are free (hurrah), but again, if you're blogging for your business, then it's worth considering a premium theme because this will come with more technical support and features.
When you're choosing your theme have a think about how you want your blog to look. Here are a few questions to ask yourself...
- Do you want a side bar on your pages to give space for things like a subscription box, ads or social media feeds?
- Will images play a big part in your blog? If so, choose a theme that will allow you to showcase these.
- What kind of 'look and feel' do you want your blog to have? Will it be a magazine style, minimalist or a more traditional list of posts?
- Is your theme mobile/tablet responsive? This is a key one. These days, your readers will be visiting your blog on their phones and tablets more than ever before, so it needs to work as well on these devices as it would on a PC or laptop.
- Lastly, once you think you've chosen a theme, have a look at what other people say about it. Check out the reviews and make sure there aren't any issues or problems that you should be aware about first - especially if it's a premium theme that you'll be paying for!
Getting started - your first pages
Ok, so you've got your blog up and running - now it's time to add some content - eeek!
You'll no doubt be keen to get your first post published, but before that there are two really important pages that you need to get nailed.
Your 'Contact Me' page
If blogging is part of your marketing strategy then you want your potential customers, as well as other businesses who may want to work with you, to be able to contact you quickly and easily. Get this page set up as soon as possible!
Your 'About' page
If people are visiting your site, they'll want to know all about you. A bit of personality goes a long way towards making readers warm to you, your blog and your business.
Adding a picture of yourself will give this page even more reader appeal. Make sure you choose your image carefully though - if you're blog is about legal advice for small businesses, then you probably shouldn't add a picture of yourself at the pub, slugging back a bottle of vodka...
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