If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog but you’re not sure how to go about it, this post is for you.  It may sound like a daunting task, but you’ll be able to do it in a couple of hours regardless of the type of website you have now, even a cookie cutter site such as Sage, ASI or DC.  This post will guide you through the steps to get up and running easily, while covering all the bases to avoid vulnerability and security issues.

The Platform For Your Blog

We work with WordPress.org because it’s the standard in the industry, therefore it’s what this guide is based upon. There is a confusion between WordPress.com and WordPress.org especially among begginners, who often choose WordPress.com because it’s free and much easier to setup. I’ll admit I made that mistake when I first started, because back then WordPress.org was far more complicated to set up and manage than it is now.  Since both of them have pros and cons, it’s tempting to go the easy route with WordPress.com and be done with it. However, after going through the hassles of changing platforms myself,  I highly recommend (and only work with) WordPress.org. If you want to find out more about how each of them compare, there is a deep dive article here.

WordPress.org is our preferred website platform for many reasons. Companies like Google and Facebook, as well as every media company, from The Wall Street Journal to the local news, are using it for their sites.  It will suit your basic needs at the beginning and there is little learning curve. You won’t have to spend any time formatting your posts and images so they show well.  It’s an easy to use web-publishing platform that gives you a lot of flexibility, allowing you to expand your site as your needs change, without loosing any of the content you have created over time, nor the online presence your content publishing has garnered.

Full disclosure: this is easy to do but not a 10 minute task. You will need to set aside a couple of hours to get it done from start to finish 🙂

The Steps

1.  Create a subdomain to link your blog

First of all, you will need an “address” for your blog that contains your domain in it, such as blog.yourdomain.com. The easiest way to get this done is by asking your domain registrar, they’re usually very helpful and will either explain how to do it or walk you through the steps.

2. Create the right hosting account

Your blog site will need to be housed somewhere. We highly recommend Managed WordPress Hosting, which is the one we will show you, in this case with GoDaddy. This type of hosting includes a whole set of important security features, such as daily backups, WordPress core software updates, and scans,  that will help keep your site safe and secure from malware, all of which you would have to do on your own with standard hosting. It’s the best solution out there and we have all of our websites, as well as client’s websites on this type of hosting. The cost is about $90/year or so.

3. Follow the prompts to install your WordPress blog site

After you create your hosting account, you will login and if you are using GoDaddy it will look something like this:

Once you “click setup” it will take you to this screen below, click on “create a new WordPress site”

It is critical that you fill this form correctly:

  1. Enter the subdomain you created in step one.  You can also use the default address that the system creates and change it later, but it’s best to enter the correct one now, so you avoid wasting precious time later trying to figure it out (been there, done that).
  2. Create your username.  Make sure you don’t use the word “admin” because it’s not safe.
  3. Enter your email address.
  4. Create your password. This is as important as your bank password. Make it a long one, and a combination of letters, symbols, numbers, you get the idea…
  5. Click “save” and your WordPress hosting is now setup!

 

4. Become Acquainted

Take a tour of your new property. Check each of the tabs on the left hand side and explore each of the sections. There is a great video tutorial library section that will be very useful for you to learn more about how to further configure your site .

 

5. Choose a theme and customize

Now it’s time to set your blog site up. Go to the dashboard and click on “customize your site”. The next screen will show 3 default “themes” for you to choose from, any of these will work. There are hundreds of themes available, some are free and some are not. However, you don’t want to experiment with themes at this point, because you will find yourself wasting precious time trying to decide.  Your site theme is very important in how it will rank and perform over time; and there are tons that are not that easy to customize, or not coded correctly.  That’s why it’s vital that you do your homework and choose a reputable provider. Again, at this point, choose one that comes with WordPress and you will be fine.  It’s best to focus on getting your blog up and running and start posting.

Once you select a theme you will be able to add your logo and make a few changes, and you’ll be pretty much good to go.

6. Add your Social Media feeds and share buttons, sign up forms and some other cool stuff

Now that your theme is setup, it’s time to add your social media links and feeds, sign up forms, etc. You can do this just by adding basic plugins available in the plugin section. The process is quite simple, but since there are hundreds to choose from, these are the ones we recommend you get from the start, and they are free of charge:

• Jetpack – it adds Social Media feeds and share buttons, security features and more, and it’s very easy to setup and configure.

• Aksimet – It filters comments to prevent spam, if you choose to have the post comments open

• Yoast – It will help you optimize your blog posts for better SEO

You can also connect it to your email system, such as Mail Chimp, Constant Contact etc, as well as Google Analytics.

7. Link to your website

It is important to keep a seamless experience for your website visitors, avoiding the unprofessional DIY appeal at all costs. Make sure that when they go to your blog they can seamlessly get back to your site and vice versa. This is easily accomplished by having the same links on the main navigation on both sites. Creating these links on both Sage and ASI sites is not that hard, but contacting their customer support and having them do it is faster.

8.Publish your first blog post

Time for your first post!  Writing is a whole other subject covered in more detail here.  For starters, make sure the information is relevant to your business and has value to your potential clients. You can start by writing about questions your prospects and clients ask frequently. You can also write about your own opinions on industry information, making sure you reference the source. In short, try to focus on topics related to purchasing and implementing promotional products in various contexts; because this is the information your ideal clients are likely to be looking for.

That’s it!

You are now ready to show the world your expertise in all things promotional products.  Make sure you set a couple of hours each week to dedicate to your blog;  you will soon start to see your website  traffic soar, and more leads and sales come in the door.