What do you want your website to convey? Why do you want to blog?
These are the first questions you must ask as you begin the process of setting up your WordPress website. The answer to these questions will set you on a starting path, give you direction and assist in design.
Your website or blog will indeed change over time, which is why I recommend the WordPress platform. It’s completely customizable and easy to understand and is the most widely used platform on the planet. There are also an unlimited amount of tutorials and tools available to help you realize your vision.
Pick a host
WordPress has two different available platforms. A WordPress.com website is free. You do not get your own domain name so your URL will be WordPress.com/username. You do not have the option to monetize this type of site and your design options are very limited. I highly recommend starting any type of project with a self-hosted WordPress.org site with a host company. This type of WordPress site is fully customizable. You can set up a store or put ads on this type as well. To get started you need to pick a host. Your host will take care of your site for you and update the WordPress software. They also make sure it functions properly and back up your site regularly. I recommend two, Go Daddy is the one I use. HostGater is also a popular company but there are many great options. Check out Whoishostingthis for a fully accessible list Cloudwards web hosting reviews for another list. But before you set it up you must choose and purchase a domain name. Pick your company now and purchase a domain name from them.
What’s in a name?
Thinking of a name? Do a search for it in on your host site in the domain name search before you do anything else. Is it available? OK, now do a search for the name on the web and on every social media platform on the planet. KnowEm is a great service for this. The name you choose is available? Fabulous! Go for it. Immediately! An hour from now someone may have purchased the name out from under your nose and now wants to sell it to you at 5 times the cost.
You need to have consistency across the web for maximum impact. It’s hard to change mid-stream. Consider picking something else if your name is similar to another popular company or someone that seems to have a questionable reputation. Kitchy names or ones that are a play on words are great. Keep in mind that a non-descriptive name might be best. You might want to change your focus along the way or write about more than one topic.
Now go to Gmail and create an email address with that name. A Gmail account is important as it sets you up with a Google account and allows you to post to Google+. Then grab the name on all the social media platforms using your Gmail account whether you want to use them or not. You are staking your claim on the web.
Craft a mission statement
Your mission statement is a short description of who you are, what you do, or what you hope to accomplish. It is usually no more than one sentence long. You will also need a tagline, just a few words that tell people what you are about.
Once you have purchased your domain name it’s time to purchase a WordPress hosting plan. Choose the best plan for your budget and situation. A three-year plan is usually a good value. In reality, this is the best $100 bucks or so you will ever spend. You now have unlimited power! Call your company directly and get help from a human being. They are happy to walk you through it. You will need to set up a strong password, so have in mind what you want to use and keep it in a safe place, or several places.
Here is what the back end of your host account will look like. You can always get to your website from here. I have blocked out my personal info. You can also login to your site by going to yoursitename.com/wp-login
When you click on the Manage tab under Managed WordPress you should see your domain name at the top. This shows that your account is pointing to your domain name.
Choosing a theme
A WordPress website theme is the look and feel of your website, it’s style. Browse the web for websites in your genre and get an idea of what you like. There are a lot of free themes offered right on your WordPress dashboard but I would definitely recommend paying a little bit of money for a nice one. You will get regular updates and support if you do. And they generally function well and look nicer. Sometimes a company will offer a free version and a paid version. This is nice because you get to try it on before you buy. But all themes offer previews. This will probably be the hardest choice you make. But don’t stress too much it’s easy to change if you want to later. Make sure the theme will look good in the colors and font you are thinking of and absolutely make sure it is responsive, that is, it looks good on all devices, your phone, your tablet, and your laptop. It should say that it is. It should also support woo commerce in case you ever want a store. There are many wonderful choices on Creative Market or Elegant Themes. Pick one that is not a Genisis Child Theme to start out. This type of theme requires 2 layers of functionality and quite a bit of extra expense. That being said, if you are somewhat tech-savvy, themes built on the Genisis framework can be quite beautiful.
OK, now we are ready to create your website! Whether you are taking one of my classes have images and text ready to populate your site. This way you will get the most out of our time together. You have the option of a face to face in person class (if you live in the Midcoast Maine area) or a video conference class.
Book a mentoring session here.