This is a good time for us to discuss how you go about creating your top blog. Cut no corners and don’t accept anything that anyone could consider to be unprofessional or amateur.
The Basics of How to Use WordPress
Okay, so I’m not going to go into massive detail here about how to create a blog. It’s really very easy to get detailed instructions on how to do things like signing up for a hosting account and setting up WordPress, so you don’t need me to go over it in-depth here.
What I will say though, is that you do need a hosting account – probably with a service like BlueHost – and you will probably want to use WordPress to create your site.
WordPress is a site builder and ‘content management system’ that will allow you to create new posts as easily as clicking ‘post’ and manage existing posts just as easily.
What’s more, is that you can completely change the look and feel of WordPress by installing new plugins and themes and there’s a huge, thriving community filled with people who will help you to get to grips with it, answer any questions you have and build entirely new tools to help you out.
This will be particularly important for us later on, because we’re going to be using a lot of plugins in order to help us promote our site and grow it faster.
WordPress now powers a third of the web and is used in some of the biggest and most successful sites on the web – such as the BBC, Forbes, Mashable, Android Authority, The Four Hour Blog, Smart Passive Income and many others. In other words, it is a tried and tested commodity which removes a lot of the guesswork.
We know that WordPress sites can be highly successful and so when you use WordPress, you can rest assured that it’s not the design or the code of the site that is holding you back.
If you’re not successful yet, then you need to concentrate on other aspects of your business rather than worrying about the way the site has been built.
WordPress is also completely free and very easy to install. Through BlueHost’s cPanel, you can actually install WordPress with a single click.
This will make life much easier for you, so don’t consider using any other strategy – it will ultimately waste your time and create more opportunity for things to go wrong.
Choosing Your Theme
Once you have WordPress installed, the next step is to choose a theme. The great thing about WordPress as mentioned is that you can install new themes very quickly.
You can browse for themes through WordPress’ own tool but I don’t recommend using any of these – most of them are not terribly well designed and what’s more, is that they will be used on so many websites that yours won’t be unique!
So instead, head over to a site like Theme Forest and be prepared to pay a bit for a professional-looking theme.
This isn’t going to be astronomical (we’re talking in the realm of $30) but as we’ve already seen, a professional site is an absolute must if you want others to take your site seriously and get excited about it.
Make sure to check the previews and pick something that is responsive (meaning it adapts to the shape and size of the screen looking at it), that is crisp and uses high definition images and that is relatively minimalist and not too overcrowded so that it looks busy or complicated.
Better yet is to pay a professional design company to build you a theme from scratch, but if you want to hold off you can wait until your site has picked up some momentum before you go about doing this.
Finally, you want to customize the theme yourself. This will start by using your logo in the header and from there, you want to make sure that the colors of the rest of your site match that header.
You might also want to think about implementing a different background, moving widgets around, choosing whether you want to add or keep the slider, etc.
Think about the type of content you’re going to be writing and whether the layout will be conducive to that.
For instance, many themes are very image focussed and this is particularly true if you choose a theme that has a slider (meaning it will rotate through large, crisp images that come from your blog posts.
This is great if you have a good camera and if you like to make lots of high-quality images for your articles – but if you don’t have the means of making or acquiring said images then it can actually be a bad thing!
So make sure that you only feature images heavily if you have the ways and means to make them!
Top Plugins for Bloggers
Now your blog is up and running, you can enhance its capabilities with some plugins. These are small programs that will add features to your site or to the control panel behind the scenes, thereby giving you more control over your content.
There are some plugins that are essential and others that can help a great deal when it comes to getting your site on the fast-track to success. Here are some that you should consider installing:
WordPress SEO by Yoast
WordPress SEO from Yoast is your one-stop-shop for search optimization and makes the process very easy. It’s the one recommended by most users and lets you control things like the title of the post as seen by spiders as well as checking your keyword density and more.
We’ll talk a little more about SEO in the future but for now, this is a good start to get a little more love from Google.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache can speed up your website by using caching. This means that certain images and other elements won’t need to be loaded from scratch each time a visitor lands on your page. It’s a useful strategy and might help to reduce your bounce rate by appeasing impatient viewers.
One of the few downsides of WordPress is the way it can attract spam comments, which can in some cases make your life a constant process of deleting nonsense posts.
Akismet is the best plugin out there for reducing that spam count and can make every blogger and site owner’s life considerably easier as a result.
Jetpack is not just one plugin but actually several that all come from WordPress.com themselves. This includes site stats (for those without Analytics), email subscriptions, social networking tools and more. It comes pre-installed and it’s more than worth a couple of seconds of setup.
While Jetpack gives you some webstats, they pale in comparison to the in-depth nature of Google Analytics that will really allow you to see how your site is performing and hone it to perfection. This plugin means your site will be Analytics ready with no hassle adding code to your pages manually.
Disqus is the best comments system for many reasons and will improve the look of your comments section as well as making it incredibly easy for users to post and for you to manage. This also creates a new way for people to discover your site – through the Disqus community itself.
This is one of several plugins that will allow your visitors to quickly and easily share your content on their social media pages. It’s a quick way to get more likes on Facebook and Tweets on Twitter, which in turn brings more visitors to your site.