I have noticed that there are many useful articles on the net, about how to open a blog, but most of them are old and do not fully correspond with the actual reality, with the new requirements. This guide is meant to be complete, for everyone’s sake, and a good starting point for years to come for those who choose to handle blogging in a niche, whatever it is.
From the start I want to mention that in this article I will talk about a self-hosted blog. That means a paid hosting service and your own domain. This gives you the opportunity to monetize your work. Also, a paid hosting pack and your own domain comes with other features such as the possibility of using a premium design (or customized one) or the ability to use all sorts of plug-ins that bring substantial improvements.
If you open a blog just for the idea of making money without having something to say or without bringing anything new or information that can be useful, you better give up. In this situation is much better for you to work something else before banging your head with all the technical information you need for opening a blog. You can be in the situation which you have to pay your hosting bill and you only have a couple of three articles written. Or, worse, you write as a grabbed day and night and then find out that someone is reading what you are writing.That’s why it would be best for your articles to be well documented and to do some research before writing about a particular subject.
If you have something to say and you like to express yourself in writing or you have knowledge that might be useful to someone else you can also think about the financial side of your blog (earning money from it). At least as a way of maintaining what you want to do, and why not, as a way of life. There are many people who live from blogging and there are still places for new ideas on the market.
Things you’ll need
# 1 Domain
Let’s go to the practical side. You’ll need a domain. Domain meaning something like http: //www.yourdomain.com or other extensions such as .net, .info, etc.
If you want to buy a domain, I recommend namecheap.com. They are the most reliable and have very good prices. My iulianm.com domain is bought from them.
# 2 Hosting
The next step is buying a hosting pack. Choosing a company that provides a good hosting services sometimes can be difficult. With luck and research you can choose a company with that you can collaborate many years. Namecheap offers a good shared hosting plan. Shared Hosting is cheaper and it’s enough if you just start a blog.
When you grow your blog and you have a lot of visitors a day, you will switch to a dedicated server that can support all visits. But to reach this level it takes a lot of work and effort. The shared packages from namecheap also offer the option to install a blogging platform (eg. WordPress), whit just a few clicks.
# 3 Platform or CMS
WordPress is in my opinion and in the opinion of many of bloggers by far the best platform and I strongly recommend it. The reasons are countless:
-it’s the most popular, most used and therefore maintained,
-it’s used by the most important bloggers,
-it offers many vital plugins, many plugins are free,
-it can be used for almost everything from blogging to presentation sites or online stores.
# 4 Template
And now let’s talk about the theme. When I say the theme I refer to the templates. This how the blog it looks, how it’s visually organized and works in the visible part of the reader.
I use the premium theme Avada, which I am delighted with and I think it is worth the money. Avada Theme is the best-selling WordPress theme of all time with over 300,000 sales in 2016.
Avada offers free technical support for six months from purchase (which, by the way, is highly responsive and professional) and over 35 demos that can be used for various situations, from the Lifestyle blog to Freelancer website or for photographers.
# 5 Plugins
As a blogger or WordPress.Org user there are a few plugins you can not miss if you want your WordPress website to be a professional one and optimized for search engines and visitors.
The main free plugins that you should install and set are:
Which allows the visitor to send you an email message if he wants to contact you, why not, for an advertising offer from which you could earn some money. Or maybe just for a feedback.
Which stops spam comments like those who do not comment on topic, but just want to sell you something.
As the name says is a search engine optimization plugin. An important feature is that it lets you bring canonical URLs, for your articles that do not repeat in search engine results. Repeating links on your blog is a bad thing. Another feature is setting keywords for articles, but this does not really matter nowadays for Google. All in One SEO Pack also offers other features such as creating an XML map of the blog that can be registered with Google Webmaster Tools. The XML map improves visibility in search engines.
Reduces the upload speed of the blog by creating a cache version and compressing certain files. It also offers other features like using a CDN, but this option is for large and very large websites. An alternative to this plugin is W3 Total Cache.
These are just the strictly necessary ones. Over time, you may need a few more. Generally, it’s good not cluttering your site too much for not increase the load time. No one likes a site that loads very slowly, and if this happens, the visitor might stop visiting your site.
In the first part of this article, I’ve listed and described some of the stuff you need to open a professional blog with everything you need. I will continue with a few other points, the next one on the list being:
# 6 Subscribe to articles
You can give your blog readers the opportunity to receive your articles by email as soon as you post them. This can be done using a service like Feedburner that I recommend. Email subscription is important in blogging because you keep your readers up to date with your latest posts.
Any blogger who respects himself, either at the beginning of the road or with old states, wants his articles to be read as often as possible. Feedburner can help you by sending your articles by email to those who want it and subscribing to your feed.
They can unsubscribe whenever they want. For this reason, it is good not to clutter your readers with too many articles. If they receive too many emails, most of them will unsubscribe, you will lose readers. You should offer “little and good,” as a superior of mine said when I was in the army. And it seems to me a wise counsel. So you too. Provide rare and quality content.
An alternative to Feedburner is MailChimp.
From what I noticed, on the net, you do not find much in blogging guides included this step. Google Webmaster Tools are very important and all great bloggers use these tools.
Maybe this is more technical and harder to explain, and that’s why blogger did not want to explain this step. Or perhaps some of them has not done them either by themselves. Or maybe they just keep them it secret, being something for webmasters and not for the average blogger. However, the Google Webmaster Tools settings are, I repeat, very important.
If you want your blog to be seen by the most important search engine, Google, you might want to make a few settings in Google Webmaster Tools. The most important thing would be checking your site in Webmaster Tools and bringing here an XML map of your website. It sounds complicated, but it’s not.
This step can be done very easily. You will need to copy a verification code and pass it into the check box in the All in One SEO Pack plugin. Below are some screenshots that show you what it’s about.
Click the red check button in Webmaster Tools. Then you will receive a message that your website has been successfully verified. If this does not happen, it means that something has not been done, for example, the code has not been copied and passed into the dedicated field properly. Remember, you only have to pass the code between the quotes.
Verification code in quotes:
The field in the All in One SEO Pack plugin for verification in Webmaster Tools:
The message “Website was verified” after the verification code was entered and the red check button was pressed:
The XML map of the blog can be built from a few clicks with the All in One SEO Pack.
Where to create map with the All in One SEO Pack:
Where to find the map in the All in One SEO Pack:
How the XML map of the blog look like and where to find the map link:
The URL of the map that I’m telling you usually looks like this: http://domainname.com/sitemap.xml. It must be registered in to Webmaster Tools in the dedicated section.
Where to test and register the XML map:
The XML map is a pretty important component of your blog if you want your blog and articles to be easily found by as many people as possible in Google searches. You will not find too many bloggers that will tell you about the XML map. I mentioned it because it is very important and all great bloggers use it. Registering the XML map to the Webmaster Tools is important too.
This Google tool allows you to check a main thing – how many visitors you had on a particular date, month, or week, for example. When I said visitors I mean the number of unique visitors. These are, in fact, the number of IPs from which the blog was accessed. This is a very important metric and it means a lot for advertiser and people or companies that want to promote themselves through your blog.
Those who want to advertise on your blog and pay for it are primarily interested in the number of unique visitors. The more you have, the more you can get paid, and it will be better for you.
So Google Analytics is a statistics tool. As I said the main thing that interests a blogger and a customer are the unique visitors. But with this tool you can also check the number of returning visitors, the number of visits, the cities and countries from which the blog was visited as well as statistics about it. And many other stats.
Google Analytics is indispensable for any blogger.
At the end
Of course, there are many components that make a blog to be a successful one. Components that include not only the technical side but also blogger writing skills. Let’s see some of them:
- It is important to write as correctly as possible. For that there are spell checkers like reverso.com or gramarly.com. If you have any doubts about the correctness of an article or phrase you can consult these websites.
- Over time, you may need to install additional plugins. For example, when you collect many images you may need a plugin to reduce their size (Kb) all at once. Or you may have invalid links. Then you will need a plugin for redirect pages that no longer exist (errors 404) to the main page. Or to a page you choose. 404 errors are not well seen by Google and may decrease your position in searches. Remember, it’s a good idea to have as few plugins installed as possible so your site it will load as fast as possible.
- You can download and use free images on your websites from pixbay.com, pexels.com or others.
- Creates a network of backlinks by leaving valuable comments on other blogs. Or by other methods such as guest posting or forums.
- Write well! Make a research on the web before you write an article so the information you give to the readers to be a correct one. If you have any opinion, it has to be sustained with valid arguments and it has to be firm. Nobody like hesitation.
- Write. Write. And write. Read other blogs or use apps like Flipboard for getting some inspiration.
- Promote your articles on networks like Facebook or Twitter.
- Be informed about blogging.
- Be consistent. Post daily or set up yourself a schedule.