Would you enjoy suddenly discovering how to set up a blog or website from scratch and avoid wasting time when building your site?
There is a lot of information around here (and across the web) on different aspects of setting up a blog or website. With that said, I think it’s time to outline all of the steps involved so that you know exactly how to set up a blog or website.
I use the words blog and website interchangeably. This is because almost every website that wants to take advantage of content marketing should have a blog and a blog is essentially a website.
There are different areas to focus on in order to know how to set up a blog, they breakdown as follows:
- Choosing a Niche or Topic
- Finding a Domain
- Choosing a Web Host
- Selecting a Platform
- Installing WordPress
- Configuring WordPress
- Creating Content
- Finding Visitors
(Image Credit: Sufi Nawaz)
Choosing a Niche or Topic
This is either the easiest or most difficult part of the process when grasping how to set up a blog. Why? Well, if you already have a local business or some other form of offline business, it’s easy to determine what your website is going to be about. A plumber is obviously going to have a website about plumbing. A painter is going to have a site about painting. And so on… Chances are when you already have a business offline, you know that it can be successful online as well.
The difficulty comes when you don’t already have an offline business. Meaning you need to select a topic or niche. Just because you can have a the best website about mongolian yak fur lined underwear, doesn’t mean there is a market for it.
Finding a Domain
Prior to buying your domain name and setting up your hosting, you should put thought into the website itself and what you hope to accomplish with it. Let’s say you already have a brick-and-mortar business and you are trying to expand online. In this case you should probably use your business name as your domain name.
Alternatively, let’s say that this new blog of yours is a completely new venture. You don’t have an offline or online brand and you want to start from scratch. At this point you need to decide if you want to go with a keyword rich domain or a brand-able domain.
A keyword rich domain would be www.DogTraining.com and a brand-able domain would be www.DoggyAcademy.com. There are pros and cons to each style of domain. The first one is usually a good idea if you are looking at creating a smaller website and perhaps selling affiliate type products while relying on a lot of search traffic. The latter is something that you could build a brand around and develop an authority style website with.
Choosing a Web Host
I wrote a fairly lengthy article on the subject of finding a web host. Instead of rehashing the same statements again it’s best to read the article:
Selecting a Platform
In the past, a website was a series of html documents that were all hosted on a web server. These days, the preferred method of creating a blog is with software called a Content Management System, or CMS. Common CMSs are WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc. In a more simpler state, Blogger or TypePad serve as basic CMSs.
I’ll admit that I am biased based on my background and the type of work I do, but I believe WordPress is the best choice for many. The problem is that not all versions of WordPress are created equal. There are two flavours off WordPress, WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I wrote a well received article at ProBlogger.net on WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.
The version I prefer is WordPress.org since it is the self-hosted version. If you are interested in how to set up a blog for yourself, I encourage you to read the article on ProBlogger and explore the differences further. I’m sure that you won’t be surprised to learn that the rest of this article is going to resolve around the WordPress.org version of WordPress.
Hopefully you did your research and chose a web host that has a “one-click install” service or something similar. With this option you can login to your web host’s control panel and install WordPress. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of clicks and you will have WordPress installed. Should you have any problems installing WordPress via this method, contact your web host’s support. They shouldn’t have any problems helping you through the process.
In the unfortunate event that you have chosen a web host that doesn’t install WordPress for you, you will need to do it yourself. There is documentation on WordPress’s website that will walk you through the manual WordPress install process.
In case you haven’t chosen a web host yet and you don’t want to read the entire article above on choosing a web host, I recommend Dreamhost and to save on your hosting fees make sure to use a Dreamhost promo code.
WordPress is great software to work with but it does require an investment in time. The more you work with it, the less time you need to set it up. There are a lot of settings to configure in WordPress and there is no easy way to push a button and be finished.
When you are first learning how to set up a blog or website, you may be a bit overwhelmed. It’s not difficult but there is a lot to absorb. The nice thing is that WordPress will work out of the box but you should spend some time to optimize the settings.
I created my WordPress tutorial in order to make the setup and configuration of WordPress an easy process. I also make sure to recommend a few plugins and theme sources along with a few other best practices.
Now, the hard part.
Creating content that will entertain, as well as, educate or solve a problem isn’t an easy process. It starts with understanding your ideal reader and knowing what they will be looking for. In order to know what they are looking for, again, you’ll have to do some research.
If you have an existing business, write down all of the questions that you get asked on a regular basis and start writing articles as a response to those questions. Supposing that you are starting from scratch, you can start writing articles as if you were talking to your ideal visitor. In either case, you may also want to do keyword research to see what people are searching for. This will attract some traffic from search engines and start building traffic to your site.
When I work with students or clients, I often recommend what I call the “Rule of Fives”. I wrote an article on this topic at Remarkablogger.com. I suggest reading it to learn about this in more detail.
The “Rule of Fives” concept is simple. Start off with 5 pages and 5 categories. Then create 5 posts for each of those categories. This will give you 5 pages and 25 articles for your site. When you first launch your site, post half right away and then schedule the other half to post to your website after you have launched your site. This accomplishes a few things. First, it makes it so you have content on your site when visitors first visit your site. Second, it gives you content to ensure there is always something new on your site for returning visitors. Finally, it guarantees that you have the theme or topic of your site well defined for yourself. If you can’t come up with 25 articles for your site then maybe it’s not the best topic for you.
When trying to discover how to set up a blog, the mistake many new bloggers or website owners make is thinking that “if your build it, they will come”. Sadly, this isn’t the case. Unless you spend time promoting your new site, you will not attract any visitors.
There are four ways that you can find visitors which will hopefully turn into new customers.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Guest Posting
- Social Sharing
- Paid Ads
SEO is attractive to many since it is free… kind of. When SEO is done correctly, your site will rank well for the keywords or phrases that you are targeting. Traffic will come to your site from clicking on the search results. This is generally free but it can get costly when you are looking at ranking for a highly competitive phrase and you need to hire someone to do the SEO work for you.
The best thing you can do in the beginning is to make sure you have optimized the pages on your site to the best you your ability. Using a plugin like Yoast’s SEO plugin for WordPress will often help you to optimize your pages. From there you need to build links back to your website and this can be a little more difficult to achieve. Remember to optimize one page/article/post for one keyword or phrase.
Guest Posting can be time consuming because you need to seek out websites that are similar enough to yours and are also accepting guest posts. However, these articles are often very effective at attracting new visitors since you can get in front of your target audience if done effectively. You can also get a link back to your site which helps your SEO.
Glen at ViperChill wrote a thorough post on guest posting and I recommend checking it out to learn more about guest posting: Guest Blogging: The Ultimate Guide.
Social Sharing is also great at attracting new visitors. Especially if your site is related to a topic that people like to talk about. You should consider which social networks your target audience is on. For example, if you are a site about quilting patterns then you might want to include a link to share your content on Pinterest since there is a large female demographic on Pinterest. On Google+ there is a large male demographic so you may want to share your motorcycle travel routes website there. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon appeal to a broad demographic so it’s advisable to make sure you are also sharing your content on those sites.
On the other side of the coin, if your site is about private medical conditions, then you might have a hard time getting people to share articles on their personal conditions. In that case, you should look into the other options listed here.
Paid Ads are obviously not free. This means that you will have to pay for results but as long as you are trading quarters for dollars, you’re alright. Places like Google AdWords is a good place to start but can get costly in a hurry. I prefer Facebook ads since you can easily target a specific demographic.
This is a topic that I am not an expert on so take a look at resources like I Rock Paid Traffic to learn more.
That’s How to Set Up a Blog
This is the ten-thousand foot view on how to set up a blog or website. There are a lot of other minor details that are involved in actually getting a website online. As you probably noticed, I didn’t go into great detail on all of the steps but directed you to resources that will give you the direction you need. I highly recommend following all of the links in this article in order to make sure you grasp the entire concept.
So, any questions? Feel free to ask questions in the comments to clarify any of the points above.