Set Up Your New Blog – A Detailed Step By Step Tutorial
This tutorial is a continuation of ‘How to start your own blog’ (you can have a look at it here). In that tutorial, I explained how to choose your niche, register your domain name and install WordPress. Here you’ll learn how set up your new blog so you’ll be a success from the very beginning.
My aim is to make this process very easy for you. And if you get confused at any point, please do not hesitate to send me an email and I will help you out!
Part 1 – The Basics
First, we’re going to set up the basics in your WordPress Dashboard.
Once WordPress installation is complete, you will see your login details on the screen. You will also receive this information via email. Go to http://yourblog.com/wp-admin.php (replace yourblog.com with your blog domain name) and enter your username and password.
After logging in, you will be entered into your blog dashboard. Your role here is that of the administrator, which means you’ll have access to everything in the blog, and you can customise it to your liking. But before doing anything, I suggest having a look at your ‘Settings’, mainly your ‘General Settings’. Do not forget to fix your timezone. This will come in handy when scheduling posts.
You should then set up your profile by going into ‘Users’ – ‘Your Profile’.
Part 2 – Customise
Now it’s time for the fun part! Customising your blog is what makes it more you!
This first thing you want to do is think about the following things:
- What colour palette you want to use. Have a look at Adobe Color CC for some help.
- Create your header/logo. You can do this using PicMonkey (this is my go to image editor)
- Find or take a picture of yourself. This will be added to your side bar, ‘About Me’ page and even on social media, so make sure it’s a nice, professional one.
Next thing you’re going to want to do is choose a theme for your blog. Your theme is the foundation of your blog. This is basically the style of your WordPress blog.
Most WordPress themes will provide:
- the overall style/design of your blog
- your page layouts/templates
- font style
- menu and widget locations
- blog post/archive styles
- additional details
There are two options when it comes to WordPress themes – premium or free. Which one you choose is completely up to you. (On average, a premium theme costs around €50 ($59))
You will probably eventually end up switching to a premium theme, so if you can afford to do it from the very beginning, I suggest doing so.
Here are some great options for a free WordPress theme:
And are some great options for a premium WordPress theme:
Once you have chosen a theme for your blog, you’re going to upload it by going to Appearance – Themes – Upload Theme.
You can now customise your blog theme to your liking. Don’t worry about your sidebar for now, we will talk about customising that later on.
Next you’re going to want to install some WordPress plugins. These will add additional functionality to your blog (from third party developers). You can download plugins from WordPress.
There are hundreds of plugins, but these are the ones I suggest you install:
- Akismet (FREE) – “Checks your comments and contact form submissions against our global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content.”
- Wordfence Security (FREE) – Wordfence adds extra protection to your blog. It block out hackers and sends you an email if anything suspicious is going on. There’s also a premium version of this plugin, though the free version is all you might need.
- Google XML Sitemaps (FREE) – “Use this plugin to greatly improve SEO to create special XML sitemaps which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your site.”
- Yoast SEO (FREE) – This is the best SEO plugin. It uses a traffic light system to guide you to create the best content for maximum optimisation. You can also upgrade to premium.
*What is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)? This is what will help you get traffic from natural and organic (unpaid) search results on search engines.
- Editorial Calendar (FREE) – As a blogger, it’s very important to publish consistently. Editorial Calendar is the perfect plugin to help you do just that. “You can drag and drop to move posts, edit posts right in the calendar, and manage your entire blog.”
- Simple Trackback Validation (FREE) – “Performs a simple but very effective test on all incoming trackbacks in order to stop trackback spam.”
- WP-Optimize (FREE) – “An effective tool for automatically cleaning your WordPress database so that it runs at maximum efficiency.”
- Google Analytics for WordPress (FREE) – “Allows you to connect your WordPress website with Google Analytics, so you can see how visitors find and use your website, so you can keep them coming back.” We will talk about setting up Google Analytics later on.
- Vaultpress ($9/month) – Backing up your blog regularly is extremely important! You don’t want to end up loosing everything if something had to happen.
- All 404 redirect to Homepage (FREE) – This plugin redirects all 404 error links to your homepage.
- Frizzly (FREE) – “Allows you to share your posts on multiple social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and more. You can easily choose on which pages the share buttons should show up and where they should be placed.”
- WP Dashboard Notes (FREE) – This plugin is just an extra organisational tool. I like to have months’ worth of post ideas so I never end up not knowing what I’m going to write about next. WP Dashboard Notes will help you list ideas right in your dashboard.
- Genesis Simple Share (FREE for Genesis users only) – This is a social sharing plugin for Genesis users.
- Simple Share Buttons Adder (FREE) – If you are not a Genesis user, this plugin is for you. SSBA adds share buttons to all of your posts and pages.
- Simple Author Box (FREE) – “Adds a responsive author box at the end of your posts, showing the author name, author gravatar and author description. It also adds over 30 social profile fields on WordPress user profile screen, allowing to display the author social icons.”
- Optinmonster ($9/month) – “OptinMonster is the best conversion optimization software for internet marketers, bloggers, developers, eCommerce websites, and all other small businesses. If you want to grow your email subscribers and improve your lead generation efforts, then you need OptinMonster.”
- CommentLuv (FREE) – “This plugin will visit the site of the comment author while they type their comment and retrieve their last blog posts which they can choose to include at the bottom of their comment when they click submit.” This will increase the likelihood of people commenting on your post.
- WPForms ($39/year) – This is the most beginner friendly WordPress contact form plugin.
- Contact Form (FREE) – Makes it easy for your readers to get in touch with you.
I know this is quite a long list, but you don’t have to download all of them. Just make sure to download the important ones.
After you have downloaded a plugin, you’re going to upload it to your WordPress site. To do this, go on Plugins – Add New.
Proceed to uploading the plugin, then activating it (you can also follow the plugin’s developer installation instructions). Set up your plugins if needed.
You can now start customising your sidebar. This is done by going to Appearance – Widgets.
What should you have on your sidebar?
- Image – The first thing you should put is an image of yourself linked to you ‘About Me’ page. Alternatively, you can put a small bio underneath your image.
- Social Media & Contact – This is where people can get in touch with you or go to your social media pages.
- Option To Subscribe
- Search Box – This makes it easier for your readers to find content based on the keyword/phrase they’re looking for.
- Category List – This makes it easier for your readers to find content they are interested in.
- Archives – For your readers to be able to find older posts.
- Popular Posts or Recent Posts – The reason why I suggest choosing just one of these widget is so post don’t end up overlapping. You have to download a plugin for each one.
- Advertisement – You can put ads in your sidebar, such as Google AdSense (make sure you don’t overload your sidebar with ads).
- Social Web Links – This is where you will add plugins like Facebook Widget.
Part 3 – Social Media, Google Analytics & Email Marketing
Now that you’ve customised your blog, you need to set up your social media profiles/pages. There are numerous social media platforms you can join, but I don’t recommend over doing it, at least not right now.
The top 4:
Make sure you have your photo/logo/header image in your social media profiles, and a clear description of your blog. Of course, don’t forget to include your blog URL.
When possible, make sure you create a business account, and not a personal one.
Google Analytics will track and report your blog traffic. Follow these steps to create a Google Analytics account:
- Go to Google Analytics
- If you already have a Google account, you can go ahead and sign in. If not, press on ‘Create an Account’
- Click on ‘Access Google Analytics’ and sign up.
- Fill in your Account Name, Website Name, Website URL, etc.
- Under ‘Data Sharing Options’, check the boxes next to the options that you want.
- Click ‘Get Tracking ID’.
- From the Google Analytics Terms of Service Agreement that opens, click ‘I Accept’.
- Add the Tracking ID to your WordPress site.
Email marketing is a very important marketing tool. This is how you will email your subscribers, keep your contacts organised, etc.
There are many email marketing service providers, but the top two are MailChimp and ConvertKit. Although these are both great, a lot of bloggers seem to switch over to ConvertKit after a while, so if you can afford to start off with that option straight away, I suggest you do so.
Part 4 – Setting Up Your Menu
Have you figured out what categories you want in your menu? If not, you need to make a plan of what your menu is going to look like.
For example, if you have a health & fitness blog, you might have these categories and sub-categories:
- Health → Children’s health, Healthy living, Health care
- Fitness → Workout, Motivation
- Nutrition → Recipes, Healthy food
Take your time to build the structure of your menu. This will also help when you are making a list of blog post ideas.
What I do is, I add new categories to my menu after I write a post on the topic. That way, a menu category is never empty. Go on Posts – Add New. This is where you will go to write new content.
On the right hand side you will see a menu called ‘Categories’. After you have written your content, press on ‘Add New Category’ and add the menu topic of your choice (if you’re going to add a sub-category, do that now too).
Doing this doesn’t add your category to the menu though. To do this you have to go to Appearance – Menus. On the left hand side you will find your categories menu. Go over to ‘View All’ and add the categories to your menu. Then, go ahead and press the ‘Save Menu’ button.
And that’s it, you’ve set up your WordPress blog! But you’re not done just yet! If you do want to be a success from the very start, do not publish your blog for now. Check out what you should be before launching your blog.
Like I said in this post, starting a blog isn’t a 5 minute thing. It takes time, and I believe that rushing it will backfire. Do it right from the very start. It’s worth it ❤
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