When you first get interested in blogging it is not obvious how complex creating a successful blog will be. Like any other business, there are many variables that must be addressed correctly. The more of these you understand and handle, the faster your blog will grow and the more success you will have.
While you could start with a free WordPress.com blog, if you are serious about turning a blog into an income generating business we do NOT recommend doing that. If you aren’t sure you’ll like blogging you could use a free blog to find out. Other than that do NOT use a WordPress.com based blog for business because there are restrictions against using the free version to make money.
Their system is also usually painfully slow, so if you’re serious don’t waste your time there. Go directly to buying your own domain and installing WordPress on it.
If you are not technically inclined, we strongly recommend hiring someone to handle the technical details for you. Let them:
- Buy the domain you desire – why you must own your own domain and how to find the perfect name.
- Recommend the best place to host it
- Install WordPress
- Install a custom Theme
- Install desired plugins and Widgets.
Unless you are a programmer able to create your own, your Theme should be one that is professionally designed, thoroughly tested, and that offers ongoing support (important so that your blog continues to work as WordPress versions, plugins, and widgets may change). After years of research we decided on Thesis. All of our blogs originally used that Theme.
Later, when Thesis 2 was late coming out, we switched GrowMap to Genesis and it is what we use on any new blogs we decide to create. Some of our blogs are still on the original Thesis.
Themes and especially Thesis can be customized in both layout and design. Your Theme installer can alter the number of columns and where sections appear on the page. If your budget allows consider also paying for custom design features. Someone who installs blogs will have some design skills and more complex changes will require someone who specializes in design.
EVERY BLOG SHOULD HAVE:
- A Blog or Business Name – ideally one that is memorable, easy to spell, and not terrible common so it can be easily found online
- A Blog Logo that can also be cropped or reduced and used as your Avatar on Social Networking sites, your Gravatar in blogs and a Favicon.
- Blog / Business Slogan also called a Tagline – critical to make it instantly obvious what your blog site is about
- Search function – ideally in the top right in either the header or the right sidebar
- Pages for about, contact, and any others specific to your business
- An obvious way to Subscribe to RSS, Subscribe to email, Follow on Twitter and other options you desire
Serious bloggers all use over a dozen plugins and widgets that they have researched and configured. These are important for getting your blog indexed in the search engines and to improve your interactions with your readers. Let your expert do this for you too.
- Social Warfare – amazing social sharing plugin with Click-to-tweet and Twitter cards built-in plus the ability to share 3 different images to different social networks.
- Yoast SEO – we have Twitter cards turned on in Yoast so the featured image from the WordPress field goes to Twitter and a different image in Social Warfare goes to Facebook and LinkedIn. We often use a third image such as an infographic to go to Pinterest.
- Wordfence – essential to protect your blog from hackers.
- CommentLuv – we use CommentLuv Premium which is no longer available or updated, but the free version of CommentLuv is still in the WordPress plugin repository.
Never invest your limited time in learning something that you only need to have done once.
If you desire to become an expert then by all means learn this; if you are primarily a writer or running a business focus on those skills instead.
Here is where we are so far:
- Domain purchased and directed to your hosting company
- WordPress installed
- Theme installed
- Theme Design customized
- Widgets and plugins installed
- Blog Name, Logo, Slogan and Favicon, pages, subscription options
By having all of the above completed by someone who has vast experience knowing what to do and how to get it done, your new blog is now ready for content and traffic.
Instead of spinning your wheels and wasting time learning all of the above you can focus on learning how to use WordPress including how to use tags, keyword phrases and fill in the SEO plugin information. You will also want to improve your copywriting. Create some quality content first and then you can move on to how to use various methods to drive traffic to your blog. See the links in the reference sections below for additional information.
Do NOT be tempted to skip any of what we have recommended above because to do so will limit your success!
These recommendations are the result of hundreds of hours of research and collaboration on Web design, usability, SEO, blogging, WordPress, plugins and widgets, copywriting, and testing what drives conversions. Choosing the wrong Theme, failing to add SEO friendly content behind the scenes, not making it obvious what your site is about, not making your blog easy for your readers to interact with – any of these mistakes will hurt you.
Ready to get started? While there are many who can assist you, we rely on Derek at Threaded Web (@dereksemmler) for both this blog and our new Joint Venture niche blogs that include related stores full of affiliate products. Derek is enormously talented at working with affiliate product feeds. More on that in a future post.
Sammy at SearchFriendlyWebDesign (@searchfriendly)provided our original installation and Theme and still works with us. He is usually extremely busy for good reason. We recommend you contact him if you need a custom search friendly business Web site built.
How do you make money with your new or existing blog? Subscribe now so you won’t miss future posts on that very subject.
[NOTE: Thesis is so flexible and can be modified so much that there are many design mistakes or omissions that can be introduced. Do NOT assume that anyone who can figure out how to make changes is qualified to make them!]
MORE ON CREATING A SUCCESSFUL BLOG:
- How to Make Money With Your Business Blog
- Blogging Best Practices: Enabling Your Readers to Subscribe to Comments – adding plugins for CommentLuv, KeywordLuv, Subscribe to Comments
- If I Could Start My Blog Over Again – Points to give thought to BEFORE you buy your domain name or start blogging.
- How to Become an Authority Blogger
- Master Your Muse and Multiply Your Blogging Effectiveness
- Why Should YOUR Business Have a Blog? Blog Your Way to Credibility and Authority
- ProBlogger: How to Treat Your Blog Like a Business
- Joe Paluzzi Junta42: Building a Marketing Asset (take the red pill)
- Don’t make this major common mistake: readers DO NOT care about your business – they care about themselves! Copy MUST BE about What’s In It For THEM.
- Reality Check on Average Blogging Incomes
- Don’t Fall for Those Who Are Living the Pro-Blogging Lifestyle By Selling YOU The ProBlogging Dream
- Peter Lee shares an example of a REAL Blog Income: Work From Home April 2009 Blog Income Report – We recommend his blog to any serious bloggers. He shares what works as he learns and tests new methods.
- WordPress 2.7 Works in Thesis – Contains many links to Thesis reviews and additional information about Thesis