How To Start A Blog Step-By-Step Guide (Updated 2017)

How To Start A Blog Step-By-Step Guide (Updated 2017)

If you have ever wondered how to start a blog, you are in luck because that is exactly what I am going to show you today.

How To Start A Blog

20 minutes is all you need to start a blog, and you DON’T need any knowledge of HTML, coding, or graphics design. When you decide to start a blog, and begin to look into everything involved, you may become frustrated or overwhelmed. The best thing to do is start fresh and break up the steps into a more manageable process.

Blogging is quickly becoming one of the best and most popular outlets of communication. A blog allows you to share information, share ideas and spread knowledge to a large audience of people and you can customize your blog in any way you see fit in order to become noticed and gain popularity in the niche of your choosing.

Blogging allows you to become a better writer, a better person, and you can even make money in the process if you follow all the steps and dedicate your time and resources to your success.

I will walk you through the whole process in a moment, but first, let me tell you my story…

Four years ago, I didn’t know the slightest thing about how to start a blog. Greatly excited by the prospect of creating a blog of my own, I went ahead to register my first blog domain name.

Then, I became confused. I didn’t know what to do next. I struggled for 18 days, invested time and energy to understand the new “blog,” checking Google for stuff like “how to create blog” without grasping anything.

Everything I found seemed technical. I got frustrated.

In despair, I abandoned the new blog domain name for… 6 months.

Then, I went back to the previous domain name, having eventually learnt that I needed not just a domain name, but also a hosting account to open a blog.

So… I started my first blog and struggled with each step because I had no one to guide me. You can set up a blog in 20 minutes, but it took me six months the first time out.

Over the years, I’ve learnt a lot about blogging, and I’ve set up many successful blogs for myself. I’ve also shown thousands of people how to create a blog of their own, by themselves. I know what best practices to use and the mistakes to avoid.

I want to help you avoid all the pains I endured.

Benjamin Franklin said, and true are his words:

“Experience is a hard master, but fools will have no other.”

So, learn from history, not experience. I will tell you how to make a blog that will succeed so that you can forget everything else.


Just follow the simple step-by-step guide below, and your blog could be ready in 20 minutes.


Please note, if you get stuck while making your blog, please feel free to get in touch via Richard@HowToStartABlogOnline.net, and I’ll be glad to help you out for free.

Starting a blog in 7 steps

Step 1: Know WHY you want to start a blog

When you know your destination, finding your direction becomes easier, right?

People start blogs for different reasons. Today, blogging is a great way to:

  • Become a better person. Blogging helps you think clearer, communicate with intentionality and build your creative flair.
  • Improve your writing. Writing proficiency comes with regular practice and starting a blog helps you write regularly
  • Make your voice heard. Gone are the days when only powerful politicians and wealthy people in business could air their views. Now, you, too, can!
  • Make a difference. Do you want to help people take control of their personal finance? Start your own blog. You wish people would exercise more, make healthier meals and rest better? Start a blog.
  • Get published. The world is changing, and traditional publishers are falling into irrelevance. Smart authors now make a blog, build a loyal audience and publish their works. This approach works always.
  • Make money. It takes time and commitment, but people make real money from blogs. I’ve made tens of thousands of dollars myself from blogging. And many folks I have taught how to open a blog are doing fine too.

If you’re still undecided, see 34 Reasons Why You Should Start A Blog. (opens in a new tab)

You can start a cool blog for any or all of the above purposes. Just use this simple guide, and you will see how easy it is.

Step 2: Decide WHAT your blog will focus on

notebook

People start different classes of blogs.

Travel blogs. Vegetarian blogs. Romance blogs. Writing blogs. Marketing blogs. Political blogs. Religion blogs. Fashion blogs. Photography blogs.

So… what type of blog should you start?

What will be the focus or theme of your blog? This theme is called a niche –– and you should have one.

The best is to choose a niche you are passionate about. Blogging is to be enjoyed. You know, there’s fulfillment in connecting with others and providing helpful information. You’ll experience this joy, and be able to do it for long if you are passionate about what you blog about.

When I finally launched my first blog, I found I was really passionate about writing and publishing. So, I made that my niche and was able to connect with, learn from and impact many nice people. I even made money from it. I was fulfilled.

A niche is important for several reasons and can also lead to increased profitability for your blogging platform. Consider the resources you have, how easy it will be to attract advertisers for this niche, and what is the competition in this niche category? However, if profitability is not your key focus, then consider your strengths and factor them into your blogging content. If you have expertise in a specific niche, it will definitely work to your advantage when starting your first blogging site.

There are also advantages to choosing a niche if you want to begin blogging for a small business. If you are starting a small business, then you will want to focus your attention on your strengths and gain market appeal for your products.

Choosing a niche for your small business will also allow you to reach potential customers because you will be able to accurately describe the products and services you are offering while finding new ways to step away from your competition. Yes, you can be as successful as the next business doing the same thing as you, but the key to greater success is focusing your business on appealing to the right people while allowing yourself the opportunity to reach new potential customers along the way.

Most of the time, people that are shopping online already know what it is they are looking to buy. Having a niche allows you to describe better what you are offering and it makes it easier for the average internet user to find your particular website because they are actively searching, not just browsing.

Scalability is another factor that most small business owners will likely consider as they set up their blog and website and choose their host company. Choose a web host company that can grow with your business. It can be detrimental if you dedicate all your time and resources on a web host company or blogging platform that you quickly grow out of; a lot of hosting companies will not allow you to transfer your site and content to another which means you could ultimately have to start all over as your business grows.

What are your hobbies?

What do you feel happy doing? What are you always excited to talk about to your friends?

Is it fashion, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, food, traveling, relationship, movies or fiction? That is probably what you should be blogging about. If you are passionate about it, you can keep sharing useful information about it.

Create a WordPress blog today, and talk about what you love, what you know, and what you’re learning. It’s easy, and you CAN do it.

Step 3: Decide WHICH of the blogging platforms you’ll use

The question, “How do you start a blog?” has many alternative answers. You can do it on blogging platforms like:

  • Blogger: e.g. yourfashionguy.blogspot.com
  • Hosted WordPress: e.g. yourfashionguy.wordpress.com
  • Self-Hosted WordPress: e.g. yourfashionguy.com

The first two options are free. But they can also be clumsy and ugly, don’t you think?

WordPress is by far the most popular and fastest growing blogging platform according to a recent web technology survey. Millions of people use it, including me. That’s because WordPress makes it easy to create your blog.

WordPress is easy to use, even for a beginner, and you do not have to have previous technical knowledge to use their dashboard. You can create your content and even paste text from a Microsoft Word or Google Doc to add to your chosen layout.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org (Self-Hosted)

​There are two types of WordPress blogs. Don’t pick the wrong one! Here’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

If your interest is to start a WordPress blog to make money, advance your career, or gain followers a self-hosted WordPress.org blog is more professional. It’s called self-hosted because you own the blog and the domain name.

WordPress.com offers users free hosting services and a free domain name (that ends in . It’s easy for beginners as well. So what’s the catch? You do not own the blog.

With WordPress.com you will experience limited control. WordPress.com chooses the ads they will place on your site so that they can make their revenue on your free blog site. So you will not be able to add any ads or easily make money from your blog with that version. If you are a non-profit the ads will be annoying for your audience.

You are limited to the amount of storage you can utilize and if you want to have a better domain for your WordPress blog, then you will have to pay for the upgraded service to receive these better features.

You are also limited with the design. While you have the option of customization, you will still have to adhere to the free list of themes that the WordPress provides for you. However, you can purchase a theme upgrade for approximately $30 per year.

The other disadvantages one can expect from using a free blogging platform are outlined below in more detail:

The free blogging platforms aren’t really free.

Free blogging platforms (like Tumblr, Medium, Blogger, or WordPress.com) come with TONS of annoying limitations that just enslave you. Here’s 5 of them:

Limit #1

Limit #2

Limit #3

Limit #4

Limit #5

So, the smart choice is to go with a self-hosted blog.

A big advantage to choosing a self-hosted WordPress blog is the control you can maintain over the software that is used. A lot of companies choose to limit or exclude plugins or widgets. Keep this in mind when you are making your decision about the hosting company you choose or whether it will be more beneficial to you to self-host your blog.

Self-hosting also allows you to change hosting companies later if you decide you need to move to something with more features and upgrades. You will have the option to upgrade to a dedicated server or a virtual private server in the future with ease.

If you are considering a self-hosted WordPress blog, then you will have to find a hosting company. There are several hosting companies available in this industry including HostGator and BlueHost just to name a couple. Initially, you will sign up to receive their hosting services, and then you can install WordPress on their servers with 1 click.

How much does a self-hosted blog cost?

Turns out, not much.

What you will pay to set up your blog is less than a movie ticket. First, you’ll need a blog domain name – usually sold for $15 but I’ll tell you how to grab it for FREE.

Second, you’ll need a hosting account which costs less than $72 for the first year.

I’ll show you how easy both steps are in a moment.

Step 4: Decide which web host to use

In my many years of creating and managing blogs, I’ve learnt from bitter experiences that NOT many web hosts are awesome. I’ve used some big name web hosts in the past, and while they make sweet promises, their hosting services are not really that good.

  • The host company servers often had issues and make my sites load slowly and go down too often (this gave me nightmares in day time)
  • Their customer care and technical support agents were often too lazy, clueless or too busy with other things to properly offer help when I needed it
  • Some web hosting companies also do some aggressive, spammy marketing like installing plugins or placing their links on my websites without my consent

Before choosing the web hosting provider you will need for your blogging website, you should know your hosting needs and research the host provider’s reliability and uptime guarantees that are in place. Decide what kind of website you will be building, decide if you will need to utilize any Windows applications, and will there be a need for special software or specific software versions such as PHP.

A small shared hosting account is a good choice for beginners because it is more affordable, easier to maintain, and may be sufficient enough to start your first blogging site. Upgrades to a virtual private server or dedicated server can come later as your site and site traffic grows.

Server reliability is essential because you do not want to risk your site going down for extended periods of time. If your site goes down, it can result in lost revenue. Uptime guarantees are also important, and a web host provider that operates on a powerful server with a stable connection should be able to guarantee their users at least a 99% uptime guarantee.

BlueHost Web Hosting for your Blog

BlueHost is one hosting company that is even recommended by WordPress for anyone that is considering starting a WordPress blog, or even any other blog. BlueHost offers limited hosting space and bandwidth and they also provide free email, a free domain name, and even free advertising offers. BlueHost is optimized for WordPress and continues to meet WordPress Standards.

BlueHost also offers special discounts and promotions for their web hosting services and offers support and resources. They are a bigger web hosting company, therefore, they have more resources than a smaller web hosting company would have. They are focused on their customers more than they are focused on increasing their own revenue.

BlueHost provides affordable pricing and is especially affordable for beginners. They provide their new customers with onboarding services that will help educate the user on how to properly set up their website from the very beginning. Onboarding allows the user to see if the services the web host service is providing are manageable and meeting their expectations.

With BlueHost you will have access to a wealth of knowledge and information from the experts and they offer great technical support in case you run into any problems while building your new blogging website.

However, BlueHost is not the only option when it comes to web host providers. HostGator is another large company that focuses their attention on the affordability and ease of use required for the beginner to the more technical aspects that a novice would be looking to receive.

Today, the reliable web host I recommend is HostGator.

Why HostGator is reliable

#1: they provide 24/7 customer support through chat, phone, or email and in my experience, their customer service reps are helpful, polite and professional.

#2: they guarantee and provide an incredible server uptime of 99.9%. Very few web hosts can match that feat.

#3: they give you SSL – if you don’t have SSL (https://) for your site then you could be losing traffic from Google.

#4: their service is extremely easy to use, and they have an option that is specifically tailored to WordPress. Whether you’re an expert or a non-geek, they’ll make your experience memorable.

#5: they offer unlimited email accounts and websites.

#6: they are giving howtostartablogonline.net readers a 30% discount by using the coupon code htsabo.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of HostGator, and if you sign up through any of the links on this page, I may get a little commission (at no extra cost to you). But this didn’t influence my recommendation because all hosting services have similar programs. I recommend HostGator because I have personal experiences with them and honestly believe they offer amazing quality.

#7: they have a 45 Day Money Back Guarantee.

Step 5: Register Your Domain Name

First, click here to go to www.HostGator.com and then click “Start Your WordPress Blog Now” for hosting.

On the next page, enter the domain name you want to register, choose the domain extension (I would go with “.com“), and HostGator will automatically let you know if it is taken. HostGator will then ask you if you want to add other extensions. I recommend at least picking up the .net and .org if they are available.

On the next page, choose your web hosting plan. I recommend the “Hatchling Plan” because this is probably your first blog. If you plan to get more, you can always upgrade the hosting plan later, as your blog becomes more successful.

Next, you will create a login and security pin. Be sure to take a minute and note these items somewhere so you can access them later.

The 3rd step on this page is to enter your billing information.

4th is the recommended add-ons. I recommend you get the HackAlert monitoring but the other two items are not as valuable.

Review your details and at the bottom of the page and be sure to check the box indicating you agree to the terms (after you have read them of course)

Next, be sure you need to enter the code htsabo in the ‘Enter a Coupon Code’ section for 50% OFF! And click the “Validate” button.

Finally, click “Check Out Now.

The next page shows that your order is successful.

Congratulations! That’s all it takes to create a web hosting account with the HostGator web hosting provider.

Step 6: Setting Up Your WordPress Blog Site on HostGator

To set up your WordPress blog site, you will need to login to your Cpanel. Just head over to your welcome email from HostGator and find the Cpanel login details and besides the text “Your Control Panel” you will see the URL to login:

Go to the URL indicated and login. Next click “Get Started with WordPress” under the Special Offers section.

Next, click the “Install” button. And follow the prompts to install WordPress on your new domain. Be sure to use your real email address so you can get your WordPress username and password.

That is all the settings you need to change, finally, click Install at the bottom. The installer will take a few minutes, and finally, you will see the success screen.

Now your WordPress blog site is up and running. Great Job!

Step 7: Login to your new blog and start blogging

Open a new browser tab and go to “http://YourNewBlog.com/wp-admin” (replace “YourNewBlog.com” with your blog domain name). Login with the username and password you copied in step 5 above.

You will see your blog dashboard; this is the “back side” of your website from where you set everything that your readers see on the “front side”.

Look to the left of your dashboard, and you will see menus.

If you want to publish a new post on your blog right away, that is entirely fine. The post doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be published, to get you started. So, go ahead and do it.

Hover the mouse on “Posts” and click “Add New” from the sub-menus that pop out.

Add the title of your post in the first tab and the content in the second tab.

Hit “Publish”.

When the next page loads, click “View post” to see how your new post appears to your readers.

Woo-hoo! That’s all there is to creating a blog. 20 minutes is all you need.

Next, it’s time to take your new blog from good to great.

How Do You Make Your Blog Look So Good?

To create a successful blog, customize it to look unique and beautiful by installing the right theme and choosing suitable plugins.

The Genesis Framework allows you to efficiently and easily build a website with WordPress. Genesis is secure and suitable for even a beginner, and it provides your site with an SEO foundation to help you create a more successful blog. SEO stands for search engine optimization and this is important when it comes to your site’s rankings on search engines. You will want your site to be seen and moving up in these rankings can be essential to establishing a successful blog.

The Genesis Framework is regularly updated so that you can be ensured that is always compatible with the latest WordPress versions available. The updates will not interfere with any customization you have done on your site. Finally, the themes are relatively inexpensive, and it awards the user the opportunity to change, delete, or reconfigure anything you wish on the site.

How Do You Get Traffic To Your Blog?

And once your blog is up and running, be sure to check out my 101 actionable tips for getting traffic to your blog

Social media is one of the best ways to advertise your blog, and it only takes the presence on a couple of social networking sites to gain exposure and increase the web traffic to your site.

Identify your target demographic for your blog post and then research which social media platforms this demographic is more likely to use. A few examples of frequented social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. It takes hard work and dedication to build a community online and find the best platform in which to share your blogging content. WordPress Sharing allows you to share your content to social networks and also gives you stats right in WordPress.

You can include buttons on the bottom page of your blog to allow sharing across social networks, and you can also customize these sharing options on WordPress. If you have a self-hosted WordPress.org website, then you can use the Jetpack plugin for these sharing functions.

Sharing your content across social media networking sites allows your information to be shared and readily accessible to your demographic which can help increase web traffic and revenue for your blog and business site.

Can You Make Money Blogging?

Yes! There are many bloggers that make money as a full-time living and others that just do it for extra pocket money.

How to Add Links to Your WordPress Blog

How to Add Links to Your WordPress Blog

by Scott Chow | April 11, 2014

If you are new to blogging with WordPress, you are probably wondering how to create links from your blog to other pages on the internet.

Creating links allows you to share useful information from other sites with your readers.  This allows you to connect with the global the internet community, and it is the reason the internet is sometimes referred to as “the web”.

The process for creating a link on your blog depends on where you want the link to show up.  I am going to show you how to add a link in your blog post and also in your sidebar menus.

 

How to Add Links to a Blog Post

Adding a link to within a blog post is actually rather easy.  The process I will explain also works for adding a link to a page.

 

    1. To start with, login to your WordPress dashboard and either create a new post or click to edit an existing post.  When you have done that you should be on the post editor screen.
      blog-post-link-1
    2. If you don’t have any text in your post yet, you will want to type whatever you want the link text to be.  This is what is known as the “anchor text” of the link.  For example, “Click here” is a popular anchor text.  Once you have the text you want for you link, you will need to select the text with your mouse to highlight it.  In the example below I have highlighted the text, “create a hosting account”.
      blog-post-link-2
    3. Now you will need to click on the paperclip icon (circled in red) just above the blog post text box.

blog-post-link-3

  1. You will then see a pop-up box.  In the text area called “URL” you will enter the address of the page that you want to link to.  IMPORTANT: The address must start with either http:// or https://
    blog-post-link-4
  2. Once you have put in the address of the page you want to link to, click “Add Link”.  Then you will need to click the blue “Update” button to update your post.  The link will now be visible on your blog for everyone to see!

 

 

How to Add Links to Your Menus

Now we are going to see how to insert a link into the sidebar menu of your blog.  The sidebar is the area where you might see things like links to your recent posts, recent comments, or categories.  It is also a popular place for bloggers to put something known as a “blogroll” which is simply a list of links to other recommended blogs.  Here is how to add links to your sidebar menu:

  1. Go to “Plugins ==> Add New” and type “link manager” in the search box. Click “Search Plugins”.
    sidebar-links-1
  2. You should see the Link Manager plugin first in the search results.  Click “Install Now” and then click “Activate Plugin” on the next page.
    sidebar-links-2
  3.  This plugin has created a new item in the left menu of your WordPress dashboard called “Links”.  Go to “Links ==> Add New” to add a link.
    sidebar-links-3
  4. Now you can enter in the link text (anchor text) in the “Name” box, and the address of the page you are linking to in the “Web Address” box.  When you are done, click the blue “Add Link” button on the right.
    sidebar-links-4
  5. Now that you have created the link, you need to choose where it will go on your blog.  To do this, go to the left menu of your dashboard and select “Appearance ==> Widgets”.
  6. Now you are on the widgets page.  Widgets are simply helpful tools that you can add to the menus of your WordPress blog.  On the left of the widgets page you will see the available widgets.  On the right of the page you will see your menu areas (your menu areas may be different from the example depending on the theme you are using for your blog).  To add a widget you simply drag-and-drop it from the available widgets to menu you want it to appear in.  We want to add the “Links” widget, so we are going to drag-and-drop that into the appropriate menu.
    sidebar-links-5
  7. Once you have put the “Links” widget where you want it you can select any options you want and then click the “Save” button.
    sidebar-links-6
  8. Your link is now live in your blog sidebar!

How to Use Jetpack Publicize

How to Use Jetpack Publicize

by Scott Chow | October 2, 2014

Before beginning this tutorial you will need to install and activate the free Jetpack plugin. Read this post for instructions on how to install Jetpack.

Promoting your blog and new posts when you publish them is a major part of the battle when it comes to building up a successful website. To help streamline the process, Jetpack includes an extremely useful feature called ‘Publicize’ which will automatically share new posts on specified social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, whenever they are published. In this chapter, we’ll take a look at how to set up this invaluable feature to help spread the word about your new content.

Jetpack supports the following social networks for automated posting: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon. You can also define your own additional custom services if you want to promote your posts on social networks which are otherwise unsupported.

 

Activating the Publicize Feature

If the Publicize feature is disabled, you will need to activate it before you can link your social media profiles in order to have Jetpack post and promote your blog posts on your behalf.

  1. In your administrator dashboard, click “Jetpack” in the top-left corner, scroll down the page and click “View all Jetpack Features”.
  2. Scroll down the list of features until you find “Publicize”. Click on the link and click “Activate” on the window which appears.
  3. In the same manner, also activate the “Sharing” feature, since it will allow you to add social media sharing buttons automatically to your posts.

jetpack-publicize-1

 

Connecting to Your Social Networks

In order to have Jetpack publish posts on your social media profiles on your behalf, you will need to give the plugin your permission to access them:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Sharing in your administrator dashboard to connect the social media accounts you use with Jetpack.
  2. Click on “Connect” beside the name of the social network you want to add, and enter your username and password.
  3. Once your connections to the services you wish to use have been approved, a list of them will appear in the “Publish” box whenever you write a new post.

jetpack-publicize-2

Whenever you publish a new post, it will automatically be shared on your connected social media accounts, including an image such as a featured image, an image attached to the post or any other image that Jetpack can find in your post (in this order of priority). Note that only posts will be publicized; static pages, draft posts and duplicate posts will not be publicized.

 

Adding Sharing Buttons

In the Sharing page in your administrator dashboard, you’ll also be able to add sharing buttons automatically to every post that you publish, allowing your readers to quickly and easily share your posts on their own social media profiles.

  1. Drag the buttons you want to add to your posts from the “Available Services” section to the “Enabled Services” section beneath it.
  2. Modify any additional options, such as “Sharing label” and “Button style” as required. Any changes will be displayed in the “Live Preview” window above.
  3. Click on “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page, and the sharing buttons will go live on every post on your blog.

jetpack-publicize-3

With sharing and post publication set up, a great deal of your social media promotion will already be taken care of, and Jetpack and your readers will be able to start spreading the word about your hard work!

Setting Up Visitor Stats for Your Blog

Setting Up Visitor Stats for Your Blog

by Scott Chow | October 2, 2014

Before beginning this tutorial you will need to install and activate the free Jetpack plugin. Read this post for instructions on how to install Jetpack.

While there’s no end to the plugins available for self-hosted WordPress blogs which track and display various stats, using the Jetpack Stats feature via the Jetpack plugin is one of the easiest and most convenient methods.

Because the Stats module is automatically enabled when you first set up Jetpack, you shouldn’t need to take any additional steps to enable it. In this chapter, we’ll explain how to view your stats and what they mean, as well as how to configure and customize the module to better suit your requirements.

 

Viewing Your Website’s Stats

To view stats, you will need to add the Site Stats widget to your administrator control panel as explained in the following steps:

    1. Go to the main page of your administrator dashboard by clicking on “Dashboard” close to the top-left corner.
    2. Click on the “Screen Options” button to the right, and check the box beside “Site Stats”. With this option enabled, you will be able to review the number of visits to your website, the most popular pages and the search times which people are using to find your website.

jetpack-stats-1

  1. If you want to find a more comprehensive overview of statistics pertaining to your WordPress site, navigate to Jetpack > Stats in your administrator dashboard. On this page, you will be able to review additional information about referrals, subscriptions and clicks.
  2. Even more statistical information is available on wordpress.com, which you can view by navigating to wordpress.com/my-stats and logging into your account.

jetpack-stats-2

Using the WordPress.com Stats module, you can easily get a snapshot of your website’s performance without even having to leave the administrator dashboard. However, for a more comprehensive solution, you can also use a popular tool such as Google Analytics without any issues.

Setting Up Email Subscriptions to Your Blog

Setting Up Email Subscriptions to Your Blog

by Scott Chow | October 2, 2014

Before beginning this tutorial you will need to install and activate the free Jetpack plugin. Read this post for instructions on how to install Jetpack.

Jetpack includes a subscriptions module which allows your readers to easily subscribe to your blog in order to receive updates by email on the latest comments and posts. This powerful feature helps to encourage more of your visitors to become regular readers, and it is one of the most effective solutions for setting up email subscriptions for a typical blog. Instead of using your own hosting package to handle the potentially large volume of emails you’ll be sending out, Jetpack uses the servers at WordPress.com, and best of all, it doesn’t cost anything either. The Subscriptions service should be activated by default once you have set up Jetpack, but you can turn it on and off from the Jetpack > Settings page as with any other module belonging to the plugin.

By default, email subscriptions will already be already be turned on, and your visitors will see checkboxes when they leave a comment on one of your posts or pages. When a reader leaves a comment, they will be able to choose up to two options including email notifications when someone posts a follow-up comment or when you publish a new post. Additionally, you can place the Blog Subscriptions widget in any desired widget area or add the option to subscribe anywhere else on your website by using a small piece of code.

 

Using the Jetpack Subscriptions Widget

By far the quickest and easiest way to set up email subscriptions is to use the widget, which will be available as long as the Subscriptions module is activated (which it should be by default).

  1. In your administrator dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Widgets and look for the “Blog Subscriptions (Jetpack)” widget in the left-side column.
  2. Drag the widget to the preferred widget area, such as the Primary Widget Area which is the main sidebar on your site. It will be activated immediately.
  3. Configure the activated widget by clicking on its name in the right-side column to display the available settings.
  4. Enter your own widget title, optional text to display to your readers and the text for the subscribe button if you don’t want to use the default options.
  5. Check the box beside “Show total number of subscribers” if you want your readers to see how many people are currently subscribing to your blog.
  6. Click on “Save” to save your changes, and they will appear on your site immediately.

jetpack-subscriptions-1

 

Using the Jetpack Subscriptions Shortcode

By pasting the shortcode for the Jetpack Subscriptions module in the HTML for your website, you can place a subscription form anywhere on your website, without having to be restricted by the widget areas which are available with your currently active theme. The required code is as follows:

[jetpack_subscription_form]

By adding some additional modifiers, you can also customize the subscription form to the same extent that you can customize the widget. The available modifiers are as follows, and they need to be added within the shortcode brackets as illustrated below:

  • To change the title, use the following syntax:
    [jetpack_subscription_form title="Your title"]
  • To change the subscription text, use the following:
    [jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_text="Your subscribe text"]
  • To change the text on the subscribe button, use the following modifier:
    [jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_button="Sign Up"]
  • To display the number of current subscribers, use the following code:
    [jetpack_subscription_form show_subscribers_total="1"]

 

Simply replace the bolded text with that of your choice. You can use multiple modifiers (including all four if you wish) simply by placing each one within the brackets, leaving a space between each one.

Now that you have set up email subscriptions for your blog, anyone can subscribe simply by entering his or her email address. Once they subscribe, the reader will receive a confirmation email whereby he or she will need to click “Confirm Follow” to start receiving updates from you. Finally, you can also customize the content of the emails to a degree by navigating to Settings > Reading in your administrator dashboard and changing the feed settings to “Summary” so that only post summaries are shown in the emails.

jetpack-subscriptions-2

How to Increase Website Traffic

How to increase website traffic
Image from Google Analytics (WebsiteSetup.org)

Have you struggled to increase your website traffic, even though you’ve tried every “method” out there?

No matter what you do, your website traffic numbers don’t budge…

And your website doesn’t make enough money.

Well, I have some good news…

You DON’T need to be an expert at copywriting or SEO to increase your website traffic.

I’ll walk you through the whole process in a moment, but first… Why is getting traffic so dang hard?

The problem: most likely, you’re focusing on the wrong metrics and reading the wrong content…

You see, there’s a lot of content out there about how to increase website traffic. Some of it old, some of it okay, but none of it really that actionable…

Here is what’s lacking: a proven system. One that you can implement with your website right now, and see your website traffic skyrocket in a matter of weeks (or even less).

When you have the right system, it’s really not that difficult to increase website traffic.

At that point, it’s just about following the right steps and BOOM – before you know it you’ll see exponential growth in your traffic numbers.

So, what system am I referring to? It’s the same system that I (and many others) have already used to increase website traffic.

The system is comprised around three steps:

Step #1: Optimize Your Website Content (jump to step 1)

This is the foundation of the system. If you want to truly increase website traffic, you first need to make sure your website content is optimized. Otherwise, the traffic will be fleeting and only temporary.

Step #2: Crush It With Social Media (jump to step 2)

Once your website is prepared for more traffic, you must start driving traffic to it! You’ll discover how to do this with the unique social media strategies we’ll outline.

Step #3: Master Content Outreach (jump to step 3)

Social media is only one part of the puzzle. You must also get your content in front of new audiences. You’ll discover how to do this as well (even if you don’t have hours of extra time to write guest post after guest post)…

How’s all this sound? Let’s jump in and get started with the system!

Step 1: Optimize Your Website Content


1. Know Your Current Traffic Statistics

Before you start growing your website traffic, you need to know your current traffic stats. This is your baseline. From here, you can see how your efforts are affecting your traffic growth.

So, make sure you have your Google Analytics tracking code set up. (If you don’t have it set up yet, do it now).

Once you have at least a few days of traffic under your belt, check your website traffic report on Google Analytics.

Here are some of the most important metrics you should note:

  • Unique visitors
  • Pageviews
  • Pages per visit
  • Average time on site
  • Bounce rate
  • Traffic sources (direct, search, and referral)
  • Exit pages

2. Check Website Traffic Often

You’ve probably heard of the old saying, “What gets measured, gets managed.”

Well, it’s true! You’ll be testing new traffic strategies, and you need to know how they’re performing.

So, check your website traffic often – at least a few times a week. This way, you’ll know what’s working, and what’s not, and you can double down on the good stuff to maximize your traffic growth.

3. Create a Better Content Marketing Strategy

Here’s where many businesses fall off the tracks. They either don’t have a content marketing strategy, or if they do, it’s seriously off the mark.

You can try all the SEO hacks, but without a solid content marketing strategy, you’ll be wasting your time.

So, how do you create a better content marketing strategy? Before we get into that, let’s talk about the types of content that should be included in your strategy:

  • Blogs
  • eBooks
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics

A good content marketing strategy has a mix of all these different types of content. Now, as for your actual strategy…

It should include the following elements:

1) The primary goal of your content (i.e. Increase traffic, generate leads, etc.)

2) Your audience, defined (i.e. Who are they? What are their biggest pain points? How can you help them through your content?)

3) How you plan to add value and set your content apart from the competition

4) Frequency of posting

5) Content amplification (i.e. How will you get your content in front of more eyeballs?)

4. Write More Compelling Blog Headlines

A compelling headline is what sells the content. If you want your content to be read – and also to rank in search engines – then great headlines are key.

Now, there are two things you must optimize for with your headlines: Social traffic and search traffic.

To do so, your headlines should have the right keywords, the right length, and also be compelling enough for social media users to click on them.

To find the right keywords, use Google Keyword Planner. Plug in some possible search terms for your blog post idea. For example, if you’re writing a post about how to quit your job, you can plug in terms like, “How to quit your job,” “How to quit your 9-5 job,” “How to quit your job and travel,” and perhaps even “How to become an entrepreneur.”

Here are the results of that query:

Using Google Keyword planner
Google Keyword Planner for the keyword: ‘How to quit your job’

From here, you know that “How to quit your job” and “How to become an entrepreneur” get the two highest average monthly searches, and you can choose which to include in your title.

From there, you can use some of these compelling headline templates so that the title is also compelling for social media:

(Note: just try and keep your title under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in Google Search.)

  • “How X Can do X” (i.e. “How Employees Can Quit Their Jobs and Become Entrepreneurs”)
  • “X People/Things Who Are Doing X” (i.e. “15 Brands Who Are Crushing It on Instagram”)
  • “How to Do X (Even If [Obstacle])” (i.e. “How to Start Investing [Even if You Don’t Have Tons of Money Saved Up]”)
  • “How to X” (i.e. “How to Get More Followers on Instagram”)

And here are some general tips for writing better headlines:

  • Use list posts (i.e. “10 Ways to Do X in Record Time”)
  • Ask a question
  • Create curiosity
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Aim to trigger emotion in the reader
  • Use alliteration occasionally
  • Use power words
  • Make the value as clear as possible

5. Write Better Content

A great content marketing strategy with catchy headlines won’t matter if you don’t have compelling content. Any readers who come to your site will just bounce out immediately – and that will make for an ugly traffic report.

So, how do you write more compelling content?

You can start by infusing these hacks into your writing…

Hack #1: Hook readers in from the beginning. People have low attention spans. If you don’t have a compelling “hook” at the beginning of your blogs, people will click off in seconds. You can hook them in by teasing the benefits of the article (see the intro to this article for example!), telling a story, or stating a common problem that your audience faces.

Hack #2: Use shorter paragraphs. Avoid long paragraphs and huge blocks of text. The more scannable your content, the better. So, try to keep paragraphs under 5-6 lines (ideally 2-3).

Hack #3: Read your writing aloud when editing. What looks good on paper doesn’t always sound good. So, by reading your content aloud, you can discover clunky phrases – and any errors will jump out to you.

Hack #4: Tell more stories. Stories connect with us emotionally and drive us to take action. Add stories into your content to prove arguments, hook readers in, explain a problem, and for whatever else you can think of. Stories are gold.

6. Use Eye-Catching Photos

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? We think so…

Eye-catching photos can do wonders for your traffic. They can make your blog more visually appealing so readers stay on your site longer, and they also make your content more shareable on social media.

In a study by Socialbakers, researches found that images on Facebook constituted 93% of the most engaging posts, compared with all other status updates.

When you combine your title with a strong image, you give it the best opportunity to generate traffic and clicks.

The best part? You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars paying for stock photos. You can use free stock photo sites like Unsplash to find hundreds of eye-catching images (without having to spend a dime).

7. Internal Linking (important!)

Internal linking refers to adding links from one page on your website to another page on your website. This can mean you’re adding links from one blog post to older posts, or from certain pages to other pages.

Most websites don’t use internal linking nearly enough. Sure, you shouldn’t overdo it with 40-50 internal links in each blog post – but there is a happy medium.

Why bother with internal linking? These types of links are useful because they help your readers navigate your website, help improve the search rank of the pages you link to, and help define the architecture and hierarchy of your website.

Here’s how you can get the most out of internal linking:

  • Create more content. The more quality content you create, the more quality content you can link to. It’s really that simple.
  • Use the right anchor text. Using our previous example: if you wanted to internally link to the “how to quit your job” blog post, you can write a sentence in another blog, like “Once you know [how to quit your job], you can start a business and travel the world.” In this case, the reader has a compelling case for clicking on the link because of both the anchor text (“how to quit your job”) and the context of the sentence. There is a clear benefit from clicking the link.
  • Link to relevant content. Don’t link for the sake of linking – always link to content that will add to your readers’ experience.
  • Don’t overdo it. Anywhere from 5-10 internal links can be used in a 1,000-word blog post. Any more than that and you’ll overdo it.

8. Conduct a Content Audit

What if you could delete and third of your content, and yet triple your website traffic? Well, that’s exactly what Todd Tresidder did.

He conducted a content audit, deleted a third of his content, and saw a massive increase in traffic.

You see, when you’ve had a website for several years, you can start running into problems like redundant and irrelevant content that no longer matches up with your message.

By conducting a content audit, you can solve these problems.

A content audit can also improve your SEO ranking. Think about it: quality is the new SEO. Google wants the best quality experience for their users, and by conducting a content audit, you signal that you’re trying to deliver the highest quality experience.

So, how do you conduct a content audit? Before we get into it, here’s what you need to do first…

Go through your entire archive of content and put it into a spreadsheet – every page and every post. Check off and categorize each one according to one of four categories:

1) Keep (good content that will stay on your site)

2) Improve (it’s on-brand, but needs updating)

3) Consolidate (for example, short content on a similar subject can be combined into a single post)

4) Remove (delete because it’s irrelevant or off-brand)

From there, use this step-by-step for conducting the content audit:

Step #1: Edit and improve the content in the “Keep” and “Improve” categories. Consider creating lead magnets for higher traffic articles.

When analyzing this content, use the following criteria:

  • Is the formatting on point?
  • Are the images SEO friendly?
  • Is the writing quality up to par?
  • Is it easy to scan and read?
  • Is the title optimized for search engines AND social media?
  • Are the affiliate links correct?
  • Are there enough internal links? Can older posts link to newer posts?

For posts that you update and consolidate, make sure to delete older comments that are no longer relevant, so as not to confuse readers.

Step #2: Consolidate the shorter, similar blogs into new blog posts.

You’ll probably have several groups of similar posts to consolidate. Once you consolidate them, you should:

1) Choose the most popular blog post of the consolidation grouping.

2) 301 redirect all of the other blog URLs of the consolidation group to the URL of the most popular blog.

(Note: A 301 redirect is a way to send users and search engines to a different URL than the one they originally requested. The redirect saves 90-99% of the link juice to the redirected page. Implementation of the 301 redirect depends on your web hosting – so contact your host for how to do this.)

Step #3: Delete content from the “Remove” category.

Simply delete the content you no longer see fit for your site!

Now, the content audit isn’t an easy process. But if you put in the work and actually do it, you can see some great results with your traffic numbers. So, we highly recommend giving it a shot.

Step 2: Crush It With Social Media


9. Share Your Content the Right Way

In terms of how to get traffic to your website, social media is the next big key. You need to make sure you share your content the right way so that you get highest increase in traffic.

Here are some tips for sharing your content so that you get the most engagement, shares, and traffic:

Tip #1: Optimize for each platform

Social media posts appear differently on different platforms. So, you need to optimize your posts so that each can be eye-catching and shareable.

For example, for Facebook, a great post constitutes the following:

  • A high quality photo (like we talked about earlier)
  • Quality description (according to a study by TrackMaven, posts with 80+ words get 2X as much engagement
  • A compelling link description underneath the photo

Do your research and learn how to optimize your posts for the other social media platforms as well, so you can get a higher amount of shares, engagement, and traffic.

Tip #2: Create a sharing schedule

How often are you sharing content on social media? That’s where a sharing schedule comes into play. This schedule helps keep you organized, so you’re not over-sharing or under-sharing your content.

Your schedule should answer the following questions:

  • Which social messages are sent immediately after publishing content? For which platforms?
  • Which messages are sent the next day?
  • Which messages are sent in a month? Two months?

With a consistent schedule, you won’t have to scramble every time you post new content. You’ll know exactly which platforms to post on and when to post.

Tip #3: Don’t be spammy

If a post doesn’t pick up steam the first time you share it, don’t try to keep reposting it the same way.

This is spammy behavior and will turn your audience away if you keep doing it.

Instead, aim for a good mix of social media content – share blog posts and videos, as well as content from other influencers, and also share other interesting and value-adding statuses.

Tip #4: Add sharing buttons to your website

Sharing your content out the right way is important – but an added bonus is if you can get your audience to share it straight from your website. To do that, you need some easy social sharing buttons.

There are plenty of free social media share buttons on WordPress. Select the one you like best, and place the share buttons directly below your articles.

Tip #5: Post during peak hours

According to Hubspot, here are the best times to post to the biggest social media platforms:

(Note: Snapchat isn’t listed here, but you should be posting throughout the day on that platform!)

  • Facebook: Weekends between 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.; Wednesdays between 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays between 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Twitter: Mondays through Fridays between 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.; Wednesdays between 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
  • LinkedIn: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at: 7:30 – 8:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Plus, Tuesdays between 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
  • Pinterest: Evening hours everyday and 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.; Fridays at 5:00 p.m.; Saturdays from 8:00 – 11:00 p.m.
  • Instagram: Anytime Monday through Thursday, except between 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

10. Dominate With Quora

Dominating with Quora is one of the best ways to become an authority in your industry and increase your website traffic.

If you haven’t used Quora yet, here’s a quick synopsis of the platform from its founder, Adam D’Angelo:

“Quora connects you to everything you want to know about. Quora aims to be the easiest place to write new content and share content from the web. We organize people and their interests so you can find, collect and share the information most valuable to you.”

The format is quite simple: People ask questions, and you post answers. And if you post good answers with relevant links back to your site, you can receive a big boost in traffic.

Here’s how can you start dominating with Quora:

1) Open a Quora account. Go to Quora.com and create an account.

2) Create and optimize Your Bio. Your bio is what people see when they click your profile. So, optimize it by adding a few sentences about yourself and your experience in your industry, as well as a link to your website.

3) Select relevant categories. Quora offers thousands of categories for you to choose from. Choose carefully, because your Quora feed will be filled with questions based on these categories. Aim to add at least 10-15 relevant categories.

4) Search for great questions. This is key. The better the question, the better the chance your answer will go viral and bring you thousands and thousands of visitors. What constitutes a great question? Look for the following:

  • Correct grammar
  • Nice formatting (i.e. bold, italics, etc. Not just a giant block of hard-to-read text)
  • Relevance to your industry
  • Are fairly new (don’t have any great answers yet)

5) Post strong answers. You must follow up those great questions with strong answers of your own. Here’s how you can write a strong Quora answer:

  • Use the first few lines to hook them in. Users can only see the first 3-4 lines in their feed, so you need to hook them from the beginning so they’ll click on your answer.
  • Tell stories. Some of the best Quora answers contain personal stories of beating obstacles and figuring out problems
  • Use correct grammar and formatting. If your answer isn’t scannable and easy to read, users probably won’t bother reading it.
  • Add relevant links back to your site. Throughout your answer, sprinkle a few relevant links back to your website. The more relevant they are to the question, the more clicks and traffic they will generate. You can also end your answers with a link to your lead magnet, concluding with something like: “Want to know more about how to start a business? Check out my free checklist with 10 steps for starting your first business!” and link to the lead magnet (in this example, the checklist).

Used right, Quora can be a powerful traffic generator for your website. And unlike most other social media, a viral Quora answer can generate steady traffic to your website for a year or more. So, make sure not to overlook this platform.

11. Post and Promote on Reddit!

Reddit is another powerful, yet underused social media platform that can increase website traffic. If you can find where your audience hangs out on Reddit, and deliver the right content, you can generate tens of thousands of visits literally overnight.

(That’s right – you don’t have to hit the Reddit front page to make a big impact!)

So, how do you find your customers on Reddit and promote your content the right way?

Use this 2-step strategy:

Step #1: Find Your Relevant Subreddits

1) Once you go to Reddit.com, use the search box in the top right hand corner of the screen.

2) Search for a relevant keyword and hit “enter”.

3) From here, you’ll find a list of subreddits related to the keyword. Skim through each one and subscribe to those you think are a good match.

4) Repeat this process for the most relevant keywords related to your business.

Got it? These will be your target subreddits. These are the places your audience hangs out on Reddit.

Step #2: Post and Add Value

Once you know your target subreddits, it’s time to start posting.

(Note: before you post in a subreddit, make sure to look at the posting rules for that subreddit on the right sidebar.)

You should include a few elements in your posting strategy:

1) Answers questions and respond to comments in popular threads. This will build your reputation.

2) Post a link to one article per week in the most relevant subreddit (if you can get 100-200+ upvotes on the link, you can expect upwards of 2,000-3,000 visits depending on the subreddit)

3) Always focus on adding value. Balance your links with good advice so you don’t appear spammy.

4) Mix it up. Don’t just submit links to Reddit. Switch it up and add text versions of your blog posts or advice, then, add a link to your post at the end.

5) Post at the right time. Let’s say you want to post in the r/Entrepreneur/ subreddit, but there’s already a post in the #1 spot with 200 upvotes, and it was posted 4 hours ago. If you post then, you probably won’t overtake that #1 spot, and you’ll get less traffic. However, if you wait a day, check back, and see that the new #1 spot only has 12-15 upvotes, then you have a golden opportunity. It will be much easier for you to hit the #1 spot and get hundreds of upvotes.

Step 3: Content Outreach


12. Use Republishing to Get Featured on Large Websites

Your website and social media are optimized, but you still need the final step: get your content in front of new audiences.

One of the best ways to do that is to get your content republished on large publications. This is ideal because you won’t have to spend hours writing tons of guest posts every month – and you can also get the link juice from large publications with high rankings.

Now, you may have heard the myth that republishing is bad for SEO. However, Matt Cutts, Google’s “Head of webspam” dispelled this myth. In reference to republishing content, he said, “I wouldn’t stress about this unless the content that you have duplicated is spammy or keyword stuffing.”

So, you’re in the clear here.

As for how to get your content republished on larger publications, it’s a simple process:

Step #1: Find large publications in your industry that republish content.

Large publications have huge content needs. So, if they allow republishing, and you have good, relevant content, then you’ve got a good shot.

With a simple search through their “contribute,” “write for us,” or “guest posting” page, you can see if they allow republished content.

So, find 5-10 large publications in your industry and start this process.

Here are a few publications that republish content to get you started:

  • Entrepreneur
  • Huffington Post
  • The Next Web
  • Lifehacker
  • The Verge

Step #2: Choose relevant content for the publication

What type of tone, style, and content is the publication looking for? Which one of your content pieces matches up with this tone, style, and content?

If you don’t have any content that matches up exactly, you can tweak it to make it a better fit.

Step #3: Pitch the Publication

Your pitch is key. It’s best practice to submit an original piece of content first, so you get your foot in the door before pitching content from your site.

So, you should always be networking and trying to connect with influencers. The more influencers and connections you have, the easier it will be to get published on the larger publications.

As for the actual pitch, here’s how to do it right:

  • Craft a strong subject line
  • Make sure to pitch the right editor
  • A reference to a personal connection (if possible)
  • A quick explanation of how your content will add value to their audience
  • A link to the content (or a Word doc)

Step #4: Prepare your content

Once your pitch is accepted, you need to prepare your content for republishing. Here’s a process you can follow:

  • Review and follow the site’s publishing guidelines
  • Aim to include 3-4 backlinks to your blog posts, as well as a bio with a link to a lead magnet (if you have one)
  • Change the title (so Google doesn’t get confused when ranking the posts)

With this strategy, you can get 3-4+ posts a month republished, without much extra work on your part. And these can bring you a ton of traffic.

13. Get More Guest Posts With This Outreach Strategy

It’s nice to get your content republished, but you should still write 2-3 guest posts a month (or more, if possible). Guest posting helps improve your SEO rank, and it also introduces your content to new audiences.

Now, when it comes to guest posting, the outreach email is very important. But we have an outreach strategy that works well, and we recommend you try it out.

Here’s the basic format:

1) Introduce yourself and explain that you’re a huge fan of their work. Reference something you learned from a specific blog post, ideally one that is a few months old.

2) Explain aside from thanking them for the awesome content, you’re also reaching out because you’re interested in writing a guest post for them. Tell them you have 4 ideas you think their audience would love based on some of their most popular articles.

3) From here, go to Buzzsumo and type in their URL. Then, take a screenshot of their top results. Here’s an example below using Entrepreneur.com:

Results from buzzsumo

4) Send 4 related guest post ideas that are somewhat related to these most shared topics on Buzzsumo (include the title and a 1 sentence explanation for each idea).

5) Explain that you know they’re busy, and that you can write everything up and sent it in one Word document. Also explain that you’ll handle all the editing as well, so it’s all super easy for them.

6) Close it out by promising that it will be engaging content that their audience will love, and asking, “What do you think?”

7) Sign off with your name and website URL

That’s it! That’s all it takes to get more traffic.

You no longer have to wonder about how to increase website traffic.

If you take action and use this proven system, you will get more traffic to your website – and that traffic will stick around for the long haul.

To recap, here is the three-step system:

Step #1: Optimize Your Website Content

Step #2: Crush It With Social Media

Step #3: Master Content Outreach

Interested in getting your visitors back to your website? Build an email list. Here are couple of well-known email marketing software that I recommend using.

You now have all the action steps. So, start putting this system to work and take your website to the next level.

Best Free WordPress Plugins

You don’t have to be a coding expert or a design whiz to create an awesome WordPress blog or website.

In fact, my two most read guides (how to start a blog & how to make a website from scratch) are aimed towards beginners who have no coding experience whatsoever.

But to really make your WordPress website stand out – you’ll need to use WordPress plugins.

What are WordPress plugins? Why do you need them?

Thanks to the help of plugins, you can make your website slick, secure, and lightning fast in a fraction of the time.

The cool part? Some of the best plugins are free.

But you need to know which plugins to choose, and which to avoid. Otherwise, you’ll do your website more harm than good.

Here’s the problem…

With over 40,000 plugins to choose from, you may have a bit of analysis paralysis.

Some plugins are harmful to your site, and an overall abundance of plugins may slow your site down.

How? Well, plugins require your site to make additional HTTP requests and/or additional database queries. Both of these things slow your site down.

So, you need to choose your plugins carefully, and also keep your plugins up to date.

How do you do that?

Well you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I lay out the best free plugins for your WordPress blog. So, get ready to bookmark this post and come back to it whenever you’re in need of a new plugin!

But before we get started, here a few plugin tips for 1) getting the most out of your plugins and 2) making sure they don’t bog down your site

  1. Delete any plugins you no longer use or need. These may be unnecessarily slowing down your load speed.
  2. Find high quality plugins. It’s usually not too many plugins that cause problems on your site, but poorly coded ones. So, look for plugins with great reviews and lots of installations, as well as the plugins we’re going to list here.
  3. Update your plugins regularly. Don’t allow your plugins to get out of date. Older versions of plugins can also slow your site down.
  4. Do your research. Don’t always rely on good ratings and installations. Check support forums and reviews to see how the plugin is working for other people.

Okay, now let’s dive into some of the best free plugins…

Here are the Best (FREE) Plugins for WordPress Blogs and Websites

Content & Sharing


1. Floating Social Bar

Social bar for WprdPressHow often does your content get shared on social media?

Ideally, the more, the better. If you can increase those social shares, you can get more traffic, exposure, and revenue.

And one of the best ways to increase traffic and social shares is with the Floating Social Bar plugin.

You see, many social share plugins are heavy and can slow down your site. But Floating Social Bar stays slim because it only supports major social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.

What’s more, the plugin only loads scripts when necessary – it shows a replica image with all the share counts until a user scrolls over the social share buttons – so your site can stay as fast as it normally is.

Download it here: Floating Social Bar

2. Broken Link Checker

Broken Link checkerYour visitor excitedly loads up your webpage, only to be dismayed when it doesn’t work. So, they click off your site, possibly never to return again.

Broken links on your website can have a big-time negative impact. They can stop search engine crawlers, lead to lower website traffic, and create a subpar user experience. All of these things can take a chunk out of your revenue stream.

The solution? Stop broken links dead in their tracks, and correct them before it’s too late.

You can do this easily with the Broken Link Checker plugin.

It quickly finds all broken links on your website, and allows you to fix them immediately.

Download it here: Broken Link Checker

3. Relevanssi

How easy is it for visitors to navigate your site? Well, if you’re still using the default WordPress search bar, it may actually be quite difficult.

Visitors use your search bar to quickly find content they’re interested in. If the search query doesn’t return anything useful, they’ll be left disappointed, and may click off your site.

That’s the problem with the default WordPress search bar…

It organizes search results by date instead of relevancy, and also doesn’t allow you to index custom post types for searching. And so, the search results are quite subpar.

The solution? The Relevanssi plugin.

Relvannsi delivers search results in order of relevancy, plus has some other cool features, like:

  • Fuzzy matching. This allows you to match partial words, in case complete words don’t match
  • Option to disable search. If you don’t want the search bar to appear on a certain post type, you can easily disable it.
  • Highlight search terms. When users click through the results, it will highlight the search terms within those results for easy navigation.

Download it here: Relevanssi

4. Contact Form 7

Contact formThe easier it is to contact you, the more visitors will do so. And as a result, you can develop a better relationship with more visitors, address more objections people have to buying your product or service, and create a better user experience.

And the easiest way for visitors to contact you is through the Contact Form 7 Plugin.

It’s simple, easy to install, and easy to customize.

Download it here: Contact Form 7 or read my full tutorial here.

5. Page Builder by Site Origin

Not a design, coding, or html expert? We feel your pain…

But with the right plugin, you don’t have to be. You can build your page exactly the way you want it without messing with any code.

And best of all, with the Page Builder plugin by Site Origin, it’s completely free.

What’s more, it works with any WordPress theme. So, you can create sales pages, squeeze pages, and more, all in an efficient (and free) way.

Download it here: Page Builder by Site Origin

6. WP Review

Do you review products/services on your website? If so, WP Review is a must-have plugin.

It displays your ratings for your posts in Google’s search results. You can customize it so that the review shows up as stars, points, or percentage ratings as well.

What’s more, this plugin used to premium, so you know it is high quality.

Download it here: WP Review

 

Analytics


1. Jetpack

Do you have trouble managing your WordPress site? The fact is, there’s a lot that goes into site management, and it can be overwhelming at times.

But, it doesn’t have to be.

With Jetpack, you can easily manage your WordPress site from one centralized location.

Here are some of the features included in Jetpack:

  • Traffic growth and insights. You can turn on the “related posts” feature, which makes related posts appear underneath your blog posts to increase the time visitors stay on your website.
  • Security. Jetpack protects your site against spam logins and comments, and also monitors your site for downtime.
  • Image performance. It automatically optimizes images and reduces bandwidth.
  • Centralized management. Easily manage plugin menus, publish posts, and view enhanced site stats.

Download it here: Jetpack

2. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO plugin for WordPressSEO should be a priority of every website. The better your SEO, the higher you’ll appear in the search engines, and the more traffic you can get.

That means more chances for conversions and revenue.

There are thousands of SEO strategies out there that are beyond the scope of this post.

But a simple way to start improving your SEO right now is to download the Yoast SEO plugin.

Here are some of the features you get with Yoast SEO:

  • Page analysis. Before you publish a post, it checks images to make sure they have alt tags that contain a focus keyword. It also checks whether the post is long enough, and whether you’ve written a meta description with a focus keyword.
  • Meta and link elements. This allows you to control the pages that show up in the Google search results.
  • XML sitemaps. The plugin automatically creates sitemaps and notifies Google and Bing of their existence.
  • RSS optimization. This increases your chances of working with chosen keywords.

Download it here: Yoast SEO

3. Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

As you probably know, it’s important to keep a close eye on your analytics, so that you understand your visitors’ behaviour.

As the old saying goes, what gets measured gets managed. And Google Analytics allows you to measure visitor stats better than anything else.

Here are some of the features of this plugin:

  • The Google Analytics tracking code. This is the fasted and most reliable tracking code that Google has to offer.
  • Visitor metric dashboards in WordPress install. You can easily see all the metrics in one place.
  • Simple installation. It integrates with Google Analytics API, so you just need to select the site you want to track and authenticate it, then you’re good to go.

Download it here: Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

 

Security & Speed


1. Sucuri

Sucuri plugin for safetyYour website security should be at the top of your list of priorities. All it takes is one attack to throw your website into turmoil.

And so, you need to be prepared with the property security defences.

One of the best forms of security is the Sucuri plugin.

Here are some of the ways it protects your site:

  • Security activity audit logging. This monitors all security-related events within your WordPress site.
  • Post-Hack security options. This helps you to take the right actions if your site does get compromised.
  • Security notifications. Get notified whenever there is a security-related event on your site, so you’re always in the loop.
  • Remote malware scanning. Scan your site for malware, and get alerted if any anomalies appear in your code.

In short, if you want your site to be secure, this is the plugin to use.

Download it here: Sucuri

2. Duplicator

Have you ever lost a site because you didn’t have it backed up? If so, you know how frustrating it can be.

And if not, we promise you it’s something you definitely don’t want to deal with.

Backing up your site regularly is like insurance. It prepares you for the worst-case scenarios, which sometimes happen.

And you can back up your site easily with the Duplicator plugin.

All you have to do is run the plugin, have it zip up your site, copy it to the new server, and run the installer file.

Download it here: Duplicator

3. W3 Total Cache

Site speed is one of the most important aspects of your website. When visitors have to wait more than 2 seconds for a page to load, they’ll start clicking off your site.

There are several ways to speed up your site – from using a faster host, to optimizing images, etc.

But one of the easiest ways to keep your site running quickly is with the W3 Total Cache plugin.

It saves a static HTML version of your site, so it doesn’t need to generate new pages all the time.

This reduces the amount of requests made to the server and database, and helps pages to load more quickly. This leads to happier visitors and better search rankings. So, it’s really a no brainer!

Download it here: W3 Total Cache

Conclusion

WordPress plugins can have a powerful effect on your website or blog. But a common mistake is when you choose too many of them, as well as when you choose the wrong ones. This mistake can harm your website and slow it down.

To avoid this mistake, choose your plugins from this list. Each of these plugins will positively impact your website in one way or another, and help you improve your visitor experience.

How to Customize WordPress (Step-by-Step)

How to Customize WordPress (Step-by-Step)

Teaching you how to build and launch a shiny new website or a blog using WordPress is what we’re all about here at WebsiteSetup.org.

Keep in mind that this is a follow-up guide for those two WordPress tutorials:

  1. How to Make a WordPress Website
  2. How to Make a WordPress Blog

This guide also assumes that you’ve already installed WordPress to your domain via WordPress web hosting. If you haven’t done yet, here’s a primer for Bluehost (a hosting company that I recommend).

What Can I Do With WordPress?

Let me be honest with you, WordPress is a brilliant platform for creating websites and blogs. It’s relatively easy to master, it packs a ton of features, and on top of all that, it’s also really customization-friendly, so to speak.

In other words, if you want to change anything about it – and I do mean anything – WordPress allows you to do so in one way or the other.

The following guide covers a lot of ground, and gets you through the process of WordPress customization from start to finish.

Let’s begin with:

1. Once You’ve Installed Your WordPress Website (or a Blog)


Okay, so at this point, you have your website launched – as in, made available for the world to see – you have your WordPress theme selected, and everything looks more or less like you imagined it.

So now is the time to take care of some important, yet not that obvious steps that will help you make your site look exactly like you want it, make it safer, easier to manage, and optimized for the search engines.

Here are the individual steps:

1. Set permalink structure

Or rather, set correct permalink structure.

The thing is that WordPress comes with default permalink structure out of the box, but it’s not the most optimized one. That’s why you should fix it right upon making your site available to the world.

If you go to your wp-admin / Settings / Permalinks, you’ll see this:

permalinks

This “Plain” permalink structure doesn’t let you create descriptive URLs for your posts and pages, which is bad not only for SEO, but also for your visitors. Change that setting to the one labeled “Post name” (visible above).

2. Make sure the site is visible to Google

This is a quick check, but a very important one, if you want your website to ever rank in Google for any keyword.

Go to your wp-admin / Settings / Reading, and make sure that the following checkbox remains unchecked:

SEO visibility

3. Get site backups taken care of

Backups are always your most important asset in case anything bad happens to your site.

Who knows, maybe one day your hosting platform fails and you’ll lose the site temporarily. Or maybe it falls victim to a hacker’s attack. Those things sometimes happen, but they are less painful if you have a working backup stored someplace safe.

The easiest way to have this taken care of is to install a backup plugin, and then let it work on autopilot – backing up your site every day without your supervision.

For a free solution, try out UpdraftPlus. For a top-tier solution – one that also offers a range of additional security features – go with VaultPress.

4. Enable traffic analytics

As a website owner, you need to know how many visitors you actually have at your site, and how they are accessing it. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s so, so much more that you can learn about your people.

Luckily for all of us, the most in-depth analytics tool is available for free. I’m talking about Google Analytics.

You can hook it up to your site by going to Google Analytics’ official website and following their getting started guide.

To make the final integration steps easier, get the free MonsterInsights plugin.

5. Get a security plugin

In all of WordPress’ glory, it’s also a platform that’s often a victim to hacker attacks or malicious software that tries to take advantage of various security holes in one way or the other.

Unfortunately, due to WordPress’ popularity, those attacks happen more often each year. Even though the platform itself is not what you’d call bad in terms of security, we can still make things a lot better with an additional security plugin.

The one I recommend is called iThemes Security – a free plugin. The good thing here is that it offers most of its magic right out the box, so there’s nearly none initial setting up to do.

6. Enable caching and connect to a CDN

Those two technologies usually go together, since they both impact the performance of your site and its speed – the time it takes to deliver the site to your audience.

In short, when a visitor enters the address of your site into their browser bar and presses Enter, a lot of things happen. Many of them can be optimized to effectively make the waiting time shorter. And that indeed matters. For instance, it’s reported in a study that 47% of people won’t wait longer than 2 seconds for a website to load … where by “won’t wait” I mean that they will leave and go to some other site instead.

Caching and CDNs are two of the most effective ways to fix that.

First, caching. In itself, it’s a fairly boring topic, but its core is that it takes some of your website content and stores it in a way that allows that content to be served quicker when the next visitor asks for it.

A CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. Basically, it’s a network of servers that take your site’s static content (such as images or other content that doesn’t change that much) and deliver it to your visitors from the server of the nearest geographical location.

Now, how to get all that goodness:

  • Caching is something you can enable by installing a plugin called W3 Total Cache (free). It works mostly on autopilot, so there’s no need to go through its many pages in the WordPress settings menu (but I still recommend you at least read them to find out what’s possible).
  • When it comes to a CDN, I have two alternative recommendations (get just one):
    • If you’re looking for a free solution: CloudFlare (suitable for new WordPress sites).
    • If you don’t mind investing in your site performance: KeyCDN (great even if your site starts growing in the future).

I urge you to read some more about both of these topics. All the solutions recommended here do quite a bit of explaining in their documentations / website materials.

7. Create new user accounts

After the initial installation of your WordPress site is done, you end up with a single user account – the main administrator account.

First order of business: make sure that the username is secure.

Yes, the username. We’re not even getting into the passwords yet.

Long story short, if your username is anything like “admin”, or “siteadmin”, or “administrator”, or anything like this, it is poor for security and you need to scrap it!

To do this, you actually need to go to wp-admin / Users / AddNew, and add a completely new Administrator user account. Only this time, make the username not obvious.

Delete the old admin account once you have the new one added.

Second order of business: make sure that your password for the admin account is safe. Here’s a great quick guide on that.

Third order of business: create a separate Editor account for yourself. This account you will use for all content creation/editing purposes. An approach like that is much safer than using your admin account for everything. This way it’s less possible to mess something up by accident.

To do this, go to your wp-admin / Users / Add New again, and create a completely new account selecting the user role of Editor:

editor

2. Customize Your Theme


This part is probably the main thing on your agenda when it comes to launching a WordPress site that fits your needs 100%.

I mean, with every WordPress theme, no matter how quality it is and what awesome features it offers, there’s always something. There’s always that little, or slightly bigger, something that you’d like to change before you can honestly call the final result “yours”.

And that is exactly what we’re discussing in this section of the guide.

1. The limitations

First things first, the individual customizations that we’re just about to go through, won’t be available in every single WordPress theme on the market. Basically, your specific theme selection will highly impact your ability to follow through with certain changes.

Unfortunately, old themes, or themes that haven’t been updated in a while, won’t have that much to offer you in the realm of customization. For new and/or modern WordPress themes, this isn’t an issue.

Note. If you feel that your theme might not be up to par, and that you probably could use something that’s slightly more in tune with the modern standards, feel free to visit our other guide, and go straight to point #5.

2. Understanding the WordPress Customizer

In short, every modern WordPress theme allows you to customize various details of its appearance and features through the built-in WordPress Customizer – it’s available in WordPress right out the box.

In other words, many of the customizations we’re presenting in this guide involve the Customizer in one way or the other. That’s why it’s important to get yourself familiar with it.

You can access the Customizer by going to wp-admin / Appearance / Customize. This is what you’ll see in the left sidebar:

customizer sidebar

On the right-hand side, there’s the preview of your site – it changes in real time as you do any modifications.

Depending on the theme you’re using and the plugins you have installed, you’ll see more or fewer modules in the Customizer’s sidebar, so don’t worry if your sidebar doesn’t look quite like the example above.

To begin, just spend a couple of minutes browsing through the individual sections in the Customizer and check out what awaits there.

Okay, next step:

3. Set a custom header

The header together with the logo are, by far, the most identifiable parts of any WordPress website.

Depending on your theme, the header and the logo might be regarded as one thing. In this case, you can handle them both in one place, but here let’s keep things standardized for most scenarios – hence separating the two.

To work with your header, go to the Customizer, and then click on the box labeled either “Header”, “Header Image”,  or something similar (this changes from theme to theme).

If it’s your first time there, you’ll probably see something like this – aka not much:

header image blank

To begin, just click the “Add new image” button. This works just like the standard WordPress uploader for media, nothing fancy.

There is a small caveat, though. You’ll notice that WordPress suggests certain image dimensions for the header image. Example:

suggested dimensions

Depending on your theme, those numbers will vary. Now, the caveat is not to pay attention to that at all.

Yep, you’re reading this right.

What you actually do is always try to pick a high-quality, high-resolution image, and then scale it down afterwards using WordPress’ own tools.

For example, I went with a nice image that’s 1920×1080 – so more than the recommended dimensions. After uploading it, I just click “Select and Crop”:

upload header image

At this point, WordPress provides me with its own set of tools for making sure that my image fits the theme’s space limitations:

header crop

And just like that, I have a header image:

header ready

4. Set your logo and favicon

To set/upload your site logo, go to the Customizer, and click on the box labeled “Site Identity” (unless there’s a dedicated box labeled “Logo” or something similar).

There, you’ll see this:

logo customizer

Two things we’re going to do here: (a) set the logo, (b) set the site icon.

Starting with the logo. First off, setting aside all the marketing and branding qualities of your logo, from a purely technical point of view, a good logo should be saved as a transparent PNG file (as in, without a background). Once you have such an image, just upload it by clicking on “Select logo”. You will again get to use WordPress’ tools for cropping and adjusting the final image. Here’s my result:

logo chosen

The next step is setting the site icon, also known as Favicon. Traditionally, the best idea is to take your logo, remove any text from it, and then set it as the site icon. This works well because site icons occupy very little space in the visitor’s browser bar, so the simpler they are, the more readable they will be.

To upload your site icon, just click on “Select Image” in the Site Icon section of the sidebar. Once done, you’ll see something like this, along with the preview of the icon:

fav preview

5. Adjust colors

Some WordPress themes let you customize the default colors used for things like the website background, links, main texts, secondary texts, and more, depending on the specific theme.

You can do this all in the “Colors” section of the Customizer:

colors

Apart from that, you can also choose from some pre-defined color schemes – visible in the image below.

I encourage you to experiment with this and select colors that go along with your business identity and branding.

6. Set a custom background

At this stage, most WordPress themes support customizable backgrounds, which includes not only setting the colors – as mentioned in the previous point – but also custom background images.

This is done in Customizer’s “Background Image” section.

Once you pick up a background image from your hard drive, you’ll see this:

background image options

Some important details:

  • Background Repeat – this defines what happens when the visitor scrolls down the page and eventually runs out of your background image.
  • Background Position – pretty self explanatory, but switch between them to see the difference.
  • Background Attachment – here, Scroll means that the image will scroll along with the rest of the site content. Fixed means that the image will always stay in one place.

7. Additional theme-based customizations

Since there are thousands of themes available out there, and many of them add their own blocks to the Customizer, covering all imaginable possibilities in this guide is simply impossible.

So at this point, I just want to encourage you to browse through all the Customizer sections available in your current theme, and experiment with what you find there.

Just to give you an example, here’s how many additional Customizer sections you can come across in some of the more feature-rich themes:

x customizer

8. Plugins to use for theme customization

Here’s a list of other useful theme customizations you can enable by installing some interesting plugins:

  • Page Builder by SiteOrigin. Great for adding entirely custom content elements and custom layouts to your pages and posts. One of my favorite plugins.
  • NextGEN Gallery. Create and showcase great-looking image galleries.
  • Content Views. Nice plugin if you want to display your blog posts as a grid, rather than the standard WordPress list.
  • Unique Headers. Create original headers for individual posts and pages.
  • Shortcodes Ultimate. Add custom content blocks to your website content (such as buttons, lightboxes, lists, tooltips, and more).
  • Portfolio. Use it to showcase your work / projects. Great for business websites.
  • Related Posts. A very nice way to display links to related content right below your posts.
  • Custom Sidebars. Create unique and customized widget areas throughout your posts and pages – more than what’s available in WordPress by default.
  • Easy Google Fonts. Truly awesome plugin if your current theme doesn’t allow you to change the default typography.
  • Strong Testimonials. A cool plugin to have if you’re running your WordPress site for a business purpose and you’d like to showcase testimonials from your clients.
  • Simple Custom CSS. Last but not least, a really useful plugin if you want to get into some more advanced customizations involving tweaks to the CSS styling of your site.

3. Set up “Menu” and “Widgets”


I don’t think there are many websites out there that don’t have any menus at all. Maybe those small, business-card-like one pagers, but that’s really not the effect we’re going for in this guide.

So … you need menus!

Here’s how to work with menus in WordPress:

Go to your wp-admin / Menus. This is where everything takes place. Begin by checking the individual pages that you want to have in the menu, and then click “Add to Menu”, like so:

add to menu

At this point, you will see your new pages on the right-hand side. The cool thing here is that if you want to rearrange the pages, everything works with drag-and-drop. But the main thing to do here is to assign the menu to one of the available locations and save it. Like so:

assign menu

Right now, you have your new menu created and assigned to the main menu area.

For more variety, you can also create separate menus for things like your social media profiles, or anything else that makes sense. WordPress doesn’t limit you in any way here.

But where to display all those additional menus? – you ask. This is where widgets come into play.

All WordPress themes come with at least one widget area, but usually more. Widget areas define the specific spaces within your theme design where you are allowed to display custom blocks of content.

You can see what this is about by going to wp-admin / Appearance / Widgets. There are available widgets on the left, and widget areas on the right. What you do is quite simple: just grab a block from the left and drag and drop it somewhere on the right.

widget drag

Really cool stuff, and easy to use. Following this path, you can, for instance, take all of your additional menus and display them as widgets.

But widgets go actually way deeper. I highly encourage you to check out the widgets you currently have available (depends on your theme and plugins), and see what cool stuff you can place throughout your site design to make it more interesting to the readers.

3. Confirm Your Website is “Mobile-Friendly”


Please bear with me as I say this, but in my opinion, making sure that your website is optimized for mobile viewers is more important than making sure that it’s optimized for desktop.

It’s not that I wholeheartedly believe in the principle itself, but I do believe in raw data. It just so happens that mobile traffic is now bigger than desktop traffic (data confirms). This means that by not having a mobile-optimized site, you’re potentially losing website traffic.

Okay, enough preaching. So what to do?

First, you need to check if your current design is mobile-friendly. There are a couple of ways to do that:

1. Go to automated tests.

Two popular solutions include:

  • Mobile-Friendly Test by Google
  • Mobile Friendliness Test Tool by Bing

There’s no inferior tool among these two. It’s a good idea to use both, and see what they have to say about your site.

Simply go to any of the above, enter your website URL, and wait for the results. Takes only a minute.

If you’re lucky, both Google and Bing will say that your site is optimized. That’s good. You can stop reading this section of the guide.

If not, you will be given some suggestions and tips on what you can do to improve the situation. I’m not going to go through those here, since every website scenario is different, and anything I’d share here wouldn’t be applicable in most cases. So in short, just follow the tips given by Google and Bing.

Note. It’s worth to check not only the main URL of your website – the homepage – but also a small set of subpages, particularly:

  • your blog listing,
  • example single blog post,
  • example single page,
  • any custom landing page you have.

2. Do manual tests.

You can carry out the manual tests yourself. They are more about your own subjective impression of the site’s mobile-friendliness, rather than data-based calculations.

To begin, go to the WordPress Customizer. There, take a look at the bottom left corner:

device switching

Those buttons allow you to switch between common device sizes, so you can see how the site behaves. It’s a very handy tool, and it lets you see if everything is in order. Make sure that:

  • all texts are readable,
  • images aren’t too big or too small,
  • ideally, there are no horizontal scroll bars,
  • the balance between image size and text size is correct (so one is not overpowered by the other),
  • the menus work properly (sometimes it’s an issue with mobile design).

Apart from WordPress’ own tool, you can also use the options available in the Chrome browser. To get the goods, go to the main menu and access the “Developer tools”, or just press Ctrl+Shift+i on your keyboard (Win).

From there, you can click the “Toggle device toolbar” button:

toggle device toolbar

After doing so, you will be able to alternate the viewing mode between specific popular devices. For instance, you can view your site like it appears on the iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5, Nexus 5X, and more.

I encourage you to use both Chrome and WordPress’ tools to really examine how your site behaves, and check if everything is in order.

3. Fix things

If your current theme doesn’t pass the mobile-friendliness test, unfortunately there’s not much you can do without getting your hands dirty and going through a lot of source code.

In an extreme scenario, you might have to pick another WordPress theme. After all, if a theme is not mobile-friendly approaching 2017, it doesn’t look good on its reputation.

But don’t panic! You can still experiment with the following. There are two alternative paths you can take if you don’t want to change themes:

(a) Experiment with “tune-up” plugins:

  • Easy Google Fonts – This one I already mentioned earlier. You can use it to change your typography settings in order to make texts more readable on mobile.
  • Responsive Menu – It’ll help you fix your menus and make them mobile-friendly.
  • Adaptive Images for WordPress – It’ll help you load your images more effectively on mobile.

(b) Get a mobile plugin:

There’s a plugin called WPtouch. Once enabled, it checks every visitor coming to your site, and if they’re on mobile, it displays them a separate, alternative version of your site design.

Again, it takes over the appearance of your site on mobile completely, so your visitor no longer sees your current WordPress theme.

If you don’t want to change your main theme, and your site is still not mobile friendly, then the WPtouch plugin is probably the best solution.

5. Set Up Your Homepage


For a long time, WordPress has neglected the whole idea of homepages altogether. Your only options were to either have the default blog listing as your homepage, or to take one of your standard pages and assign it as the homepage.

These days, however, we have a lot of options. Some of them coming from “team themes”, others from “team plugins”.

Let’s deal with themes first.

Depending on the theme you’re currently using, you might have some custom homepage options available. Example from a popular free theme:

custom homepage options

All of those sections marked here take care of customizing a specific part of the homepage. Again, those options are different from theme to theme, so we won’t get into them. I do, however, encourage you to closely examine what’s available in your current theme.

In a nutshell, if the theme offers any homepage customizations, use them as widely as you can.

If not, there’s a workaround.

Start by creating two new pages:

  • call the first one HOME; leave it blank (no content); publish that page,
  • call another one BLOG; also leave it blank and publish.

Then go to your wp-admin / Settings / Reading. There, assign HOME as the “Front page” and BLOG as the “Posts page”, like so:

homepage setting

At this point, when you go to your main domain, you’ll see a blank page.

That’s where plugins come into play. If you want to keep things free and on a budget, there are two options:

  • the previously mentioned Page Builder by SiteOrigin,
  • and Live Composer.

I’m using the former. Once you install and activate it, when you go back to edit your new HOME page, you’ll see a new tab:

page builder tab

When you click it, you’ll go to the SiteOrigin builder. This is where you can set custom layouts and content elements on your homepage.

Some example content blocks you can use (just a small portion of what’s available):

SiteOrigin Widgets

In general, I send you over to SiteOrigin’s documentation and examples. Those docs will show you how to use the plugin effectively.

Here’s an example homepage built this way:

siteorigin homepage

As you can see, tuning up your homepage can be a lot of fun. Generally, I don’t recommend you to work with your theme’s source code to tweak the homepage manually. Even if you somehow manage to get the visual effect that you wanted, you can never predict how the changes are going to behave once you update WordPress, or even when viewed on other devices. Working with your theme’s or plugins’ native features doesn’t cause the same problems.

6. Create IMPORTANT Pages in WordPress


Speaking of the homepage, it’s also worth mentioning what other pages you can use on your WordPress site apart from the main one.

Here’s a quick list, mainly just headlines – I’ll let you figure out what you can put on all those pages:

  • About – tell people about yourself and the site.
  • Contact – let your visitors contact you.
  • Portfolio.
  • Services and products.
  • Team.
  • Getting started – tell people where to get started with your content.
  • Client testimonials.
  • Tools and recommendations.
  • Coupons.
  • Content archive.
  • Support.
  • Career.
  • FAQ.
  • Advertising.

7. WordPress SEO (and what you need to do)


SEO is a crucial element for most websites on the web, and also a crucial part of website customization. Frankly, without SEO, it’s more difficult for your audience or customers to find you via Google. Not good!

Now, there are two sides to SEO:

  1. On-page SEO.
  2. Off-page SEO.

Off-page SEO is about everything you do outside of your site … things like talking about your brand elsewhere, convincing people to link their site to yours, getting social media shares for your content, etc. Let’s leave that for now.

On-page SEO is about everything you can do to optimize your individual WordPress pages to be more Google-friendly. This is what we’re going to cover here.

WordPress comes with some built-in SEO optimizations, but not a lot. That’s why you need a plugin to boost things up. The most popular and the best one is called Yoast SEO.

That plugin is incredibly feature-rich. To cover all those features here would require a guide of its own, so I’m just going to focus on the absolutely crucial stuff, and then let you do further reading/tuning-up if you’re interested.

Let’s begin with going to wp-admin / SEO. Then switch to the “General” tab, and view the introduction tour. It will explain how to work with the main sections of the plugin to make your WordPress site optimized.

yoast tab

After that, go through each of the other tabs and provide the info you’re asked for. The “Webmaster Tools” tab is particularly important as it allows you to hook up your site to the Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools (both deliver crucial insights about your site’s SEO health).

Next, go to wp-admin / SEO / Titles & Metas, and fill in all your preferred page titles and meta descriptions. This helps to optimize the default versions of those pages. If you’re not sure about some of the toggle switches, you can safely leave them with their default values.

The next section – wp-admin / SEO / Social – is where you can hook up your social media profiles, and enable both Facebook Open Graph and Twitter Cards – those will help you get your content more visible on those platforms.

Next, go to wp-admin / SEO / XML Sitemaps. Basically, the only thing you need to do there is make sure that the sitemaps are enabled (the top toggle button). XML sitemaps are used by Google to navigate your website, and eventually get to your individual posts and pages.

At this stage, you’re pretty much done with the main settings, but you should also have a look into your individual posts and pages, and tweak their specific SEO parameters too. In short, when you go to edit any post or page, you’ll now see this box at the bottom:

yoast content optimization

  • (a) – the main SEO snippet that’s visible in Google searches. Tweak this first.
  • (b) – the main focus keyword of the page. Set it to the phrase that’s the most important for you when it comes to that specific page.
  • (c) – tips on how to optimize your page based on the focus keyword.
  • (d) – additional tab offering tons of useful tips on how to improve the page’s readability.

Note. It’s crucial to tweak the SEO parameters for your most important posts/pages, including the homepage!

8. Add Social Media Integration


The last thing we’re going to take care of when it comes to tweaking and customizing your WordPress site is getting some proper social media integration!

Social media is just essential. It’s how a big part of your audience ever finds your content, and it also has an impact on your SEO (this has been proven by Moz.com some time ago).

Long story short, your goal with social media integration is to:

  • make it easy for people to share your content,
  • make those individual shares optimized,
  • share content yourself effectively and at the right time,
  • be on all the main social networks,
  • make it easy for people to follow you,
  • track your social media popularity.

Here are the tools that will help you do so:

  • Share/like buttons. The best way to get yourself some of those is to use the Share Buttons & Analytics by GetSocial plugin. It’s free, and it gives you a set of very good-looking and functional buttons for all networks. Plus, you can place those buttons in various places through your site design (no matter what theme you use).
  • Posting your content automatically. A very neat trick you can implement to make your work with social media much easier is to get yourself some kind of an auto-posting plugin. The one I recommend is called Revive Old Post. After a short configuration, it will pick a random post from your archives, and share it across your social media profiles.
  • Make your shares look good. By default, if someone shares your content on social media, the share itself includes just the title of the post and a link to it. However, if you get a plugin like WPSSO, you can include images into the structure of the shares, plus make them much better looking and thus much more likely to be spread.
  • Follow buttons. Lastly, you need some nice follow buttons that will encourage your visitors to add you as a social media friend. There’s a great generator for Twitter here, and a plugin to get a similar thing for Instagram.

33 Ways to Monetize a Website (or a Blog)

 

Making money from your website isn’t a myth. It’s doable by everyone.

In fact, turning a part-time, hobby blog into an income generating asset is fairly common with a bit of luck and some hard work.

At the very least, you should be able to make enough to cover your basic expenses for a domain and hosting. You might even be able to replace your income (and then some).

Keep in mind that the strategies listed below range from easy and passive, to ones that require a TON of on-going work (so make sure you pick something that suits your site and lifestyle preferences).

There are 33 total tips in this guide, but let’s start with the ten most popular (and predictable) site monetization tips.

monetize-a-website

P.S. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve started a blog or created a website. Those methods work for both.

10 Most Common Ways to Make Money with Your Website

Making money from your website isn’t easy. But these ten tips are probably your best bet.

1. Affiliate Marketing (.. and affiliate links)

Affiliate marketing (Method 1)
Examples of a successful affiliate sites: Booking.com, TheBestVPN.com

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular (not to mention quickest) ways to make money from your website or blog.

Start by finding a product you like and would recommend. Then on your website, you endorse the product and promote it to your website visitors and email subscribers. If the product or service resonates with these people, they’ll click on your affiliate link, purchasing the product (while you get a split of the sale price).

The commission might be anywhere from 30% of the product or service price, up to as high as 70%. So for example, if the split is 50% and you promote an e-book that costs $100, you’ll get $50 for simply referring the buyer. Pretty sweet deal, huh?!

Where can I find products to promote?

  • Commission junction – offers reliable products with on-time payments.
  • ShareASale – mostly clothes, accessories, and other offline goods.
  • Clickbank – high percentage payouts, but there’s a lack of GOOD products to promote.

2. Pay Per Click Advertising (Google Adsense)

Example of a successful Google Adsense site: Mashable.com

AdWords are the advertisements that show up on the top of Google search result pages.

AdSense is the reverse, allowing publishers (which includes bloggers and other website owners like yourself) to tap into Google’s immense advertising network so that other advertisers can run ads on their website.

The best part about this system is how simple everything is.

Once you sign up, Google will place a simple code on your website that will identify the content of your site and start displaying relevant advertisements. For example, if your site is about pets (dogs & cats), Google AdSense will start showing your visitors ads for cat food, dog training and more.

You get paid each time someone clicks on the ad. (Yes, it’s really that easy!)

Your cut might be anywhere from $0.50 to $5 per click. However, when your site has enough traffic, you can make hundreds (if not thousands of dollars) each month.

How to apply for for Google Adsense?

  • Apply for AdSense – Before applying, make sure you keep up with their latest Terms Of Service, though. Google has very strict rules, so it’s hard to get (and stay) approved.

3. Sell Ad Space

InSelling ad space (method 3)corporating Google’s AdSense on your website is just one way to make money from online advertisements.

Another is to simply sell your own ad space directly to companies looking to sponsor different blogs. For example, you can come up with a price for each space, like: “Sidebar banner ads will cost $xxx per month”.

You can get paid depending on how many visitors you get. Typically this is quoted as a dollar amount per one thousand impressions (or CPM). So for example, you might see it as: $5 CPM. If the website gets 100,000 visits a month, that ad price translates into $500 bucks.

The good thing about this approach is that if your site gets a ton of traffic from different sources, your simple banner ad pricing can go up to as high as $5000 per month! However, the obvious downside is that if your site doesn’t get a lot of traffic, you can’t expect to earn as much either.

The other common method when selling ad space directly from your website is a simple direct price. Here you simply name a price (based on what you think it’s worth, relative to what the competition might be charging), and get paid upfront at the beginning of each month. This pricing is also generally a simple flat fee, not tied to a Cost Per Click like AdSense.

Where can I let others know that my website is selling ad space?

  • – The most popular one.
  • AdvertiseSpace – I haven’t tried it, but it should be a good alternative.

4. Sell Your Own Digital Product (Ebook for Example)

Selling digital product (method 4)You have the potential to make the most money on a per sale basis when you can sell your own directly.

That’s because there’s no middle-man or person in between you and the buyer that’s taking a ‘cut’ from the money earned.

This approach seems fairly straightforward because you can simply sell these products directly through your website and get paid immediately. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple in reality.

Creating good products that are well made and polished require a ton of time and additional resources (like design, content, etc.). So there’s a lot of ‘hidden costs’ in both time spent or contractors to collaborate with. Selling your own products on your site also bring up problematic issues like payment gateways (how are you going to collect payment?), shipping (how are you going to mail or distribute the products?) and taxes (oh man, don’t get me started).

And if that doesn’t sound like enough work already, you’ll also need a well designed, persuasive landing page to make sure your product has a strong conversion rate.

Additional resources:

How to sell products on your website.

How to set up a PayPal “Buy Now” button on WordPress

5. Accept Donations from visitors

Accept donations (method 5)Don’t have a ton of monthly visits, but you do have a strong, engaged community? Simply ask your readers to donate!

Accepting one-off donations isn’t a fast road to wealth, however, it can help you cover expenses in the short-term if people like what you have to say and want to support your journey.

For example, PayPal offers little donation buttons that only take about ten minutes to add to your website, offering you a quick way to recoup what you might be spending on a good web hosting, new product creation, research, and all of the other costs to maintain a healthy, active blog.

For example, web.archive.org makes a lot of money from donations (most likely due to their millions of visitors per month).

How to set up donation buttons?

  • How to take donations on your website – The right way.

6. Accept sponsored posts & articles (…but use nofollow tag)

Sponsored posts and articles (method 6)One of the common ways to making more money from your website means getting those visitor numbers UP.

Once you’ve done the hard work of building steady traffic to your site with an engaged community, there are a few different ways to monetize your hard work.

For example, many companies go out of their way to look for blogs that will feature their sponsored content. ‘Native advertising‘ like this works well because it still lines up with your site’s primary content, so it comes across relevant and transparent.

You can also review the products from a company in an ‘advertorial’ that’s part content, part advertisement. For example, if your website is all about the latest iOS games for iPhones and iPads, the creator of one of those ads would LOVE to have you review and feature their app to your fans.

When done right, this can create a win/win scenario. However done poorly, with irrelevant or inauthentic site content, and it can erode all of the reader’s goodwill you’ve worked so hard to create in the first place.

For further reading:

  • How to make money through sponsored posts and reviews – About.com

7. Generate ‘leads’ for other companies

Get leads to other companies (method 7)Businesses thrive off new leads coming in their door to inquire about their products or services.

It’s no surprise then that they’re always on the lookout, searching for creative ways to find new sources of leads to help them grow.

For example:

Let’s say you have a website about teaching math skills. Your reader’s information (like their email address or phone number) would be of great value to different online schools who’re looking to sell their courses to eager, proactive students.

Basically, you’re connecting the dots; playing the matchmaker by introducing two parties who can benefit one another. While it’s similar to how affiliate marketing works, in this case it doesn’t actually matter if your reader ends up purchasing their product or not. They’re just looking for an introduction at this point.

Where can I find such offers?

  • MaxBounty
  • Neverblue
  • Peerfly

8. Build an ‘Email List’

Build an email list (method 8)Spend any amount of time reading blog growth tips, and you’re sure to come across people saying “the money’s in the list“.

They’re referring to your email list, which comprises your most loyal readers. The objective is to convert as many strangers who visit your site for the first time into passionate followers who want to stay up-to-date on your latest work or content.

Admittedly this is a long term strategy (and you definitely won’t get rich overnight). But it’s one of the best, long-term methods to profitably growing your blog into a full-fledged, money making enterprise.

Never lose sight of the importance in creating relationships with your followers, however. Offering great information or free help is a perfect way to start. Spamming people with unsolicited offers is one of the fastest ways to abuse reader’s trust and sabotage your long-term goals.

How exactly does it EXACTLY work?

  • Listbuilding 101 – Probably the best introduction on the internet.
  • How to build a list with your website
  • Best Email Marketing Services

9. Set up an e-commerce site (hard work is required)

Set up an ecommerce site (method 9)Websites don’t have to be just content. They can be centered around tools or products in an online store.

Be forewarned, though:

There are literally hundreds of thousands of eCommerce websites or online stores. Make sure that yours is filling a unique niche, with a detailed strategy and the latest marketing techniques to stand out from the crowd.

How do I create a successful online store/shop?

  • How to Make a WooCommerce Shop (WordPress)
  • How to Make Shopify E-commerce Store (Shopify)

10. Flip Your Websites (Create -> Sell -> Reinvest)

Sell your website (method 10)Believe it or not, there’s almost always a market out there for your website.

That means if you’ve built up a following  (or possibly even sold a few products or included advertising on your site), you might be able to sell it to someone else and make a quick buck.

To be honest, I typically don’t suggest people plan on flipping their website or blog. (I’m a bigger fan of creating something for the long term.)

But you can’t deny how lucrative it can be. For example, if your website is making $500 per/month through selling ad space, you might be able to sell the site for $5,000 – $10,000 (which is about 12x – 22x monthly income).sellwebsite

Another interesting option is to sell ready-made sites, These are MUCH cheaper, but there’s still some money to be made.

Where can I sell my site?

  • Flippa – The most popular website market.
  • We Buy Websites – Another popular marketplace.
  • FEinternational – Mostly for high-end websites.

We’ve counted down some of the most popular ways to earn money from your website.

However, we’re only just scratching the surface.

Below are another 23 ways to make money with your website.

(Keep in mind that some of them are slightly connected with the ones above yet they are little ‘out of the box’.)

 

Another 23 ways to monetize your website

23-ways-to-make-money-with-your-website11. Sell text-link ads (NOT RECOMMENDED) – There’s still a demand for text-links ads (believe it or not). But please keep in mind that these violate Google’s Terms of Service (which means you run the risk of getting penalized).

To avoid it, simply keep the ‘nofollow‘.

12. Set up “infolinks” – Infolinks are a great alternative to AdSense advertisements, that are very easy to setup. However, the downside is that they aren’t high converting, and the payouts (on a per click basis) are also quite small.

13. Use monetization widgets – These are also very similar to Google Adsense, so they’re worth trying out as an alternative.

14. Set up RSS feed ads. – Exactly what they sound like. Ad space for sale in-line with content from an RSS feed.

15. Give away premium content for extra $$$ – If you are producing mind-blowing, awesome content that visitors can’t get enough of… you can always try asking them to pay for some of it! (Crazy concept, huh?!) I’m personally fine with paying for premium content. However, don’t ask people to pay right away. Instead, stay focused on growing an audience and visitors first.

16. Start a private forum or coaching class(es) – Most of us have unique skills that others can benefit from. Setting up a simple forum or classes is an easy way to (a) help others and (b) generate recurring income at the same time.

17. Create a job board – Setting up a job board on your website is another simple, easy way to collect additional money when people accepting different job offers from various companies or individuals.

18. Offer consulting – Offering consulting gigs and providing services can help you bring in decent sums of money while other forms of ‘passive’ revenue take a little time to build up. You can offer these services via email, forum and or even Skype.

19. Add “hire me” page on your website – Your new website or blog is also a perfect place to feature your freelancing services. Showcasing samples or evidence of past work will help greatly increase your chances of getting hired.

20. Sell or rent internal pages – These aren’t very common, however, you might be surprised at what people would be willing to rent or spend money on!

21. Display pop-ups advertisements – Pop-ups can be extremely annoying. However, they’re also another easy way to make some quick money.

22. Use content lockers – ‘Content locking’ is similar to hiding or protecting pieces of content until a visitor takes some action to redeem it. For example, maybe you want them to pay a small amount, or perhaps click on an advertisement.

23. Display audio ads – These are relatively new and are becoming increasingly more common. Personally, I haven’t tried it. But I have read some articles and it definitely looks promising.

24. Sell an e-book – This one is a no-brainer. Many people sell e-books through their site. Some examples: If you have a website about recipes and cooking, you can easily create and sell your own recipe book. The same applies in almost every single other niche.

25. Create a conference around your website – Lots of work, but a huge potential payoff as well.

26. Set up a teaching program – Kinda like a cross between selling your own content and offering consulting or services.

27. Host paid webinars – Similar to the last tip, which is largely a mix of consulting through content.

28. Create a membership site – Yet another tier on the ‘info-business’ model that has the added benefit of bringing in recurring revenue.

29. Offer coupons (with affiliate links) – People are eagerly looking for discount & promo codes for everything from clothes to travel vacations. If you can (find and) offer a valid one, you can also get a cut of the revenue too.

30. Host polls on your website – Hard to believe, but easy to do!

31. Offer writing gigs – You can easily make $20 – $30 per 500-word articles writing for other companies or individuals. There’s also a huge potential for fluent speakers of different languages, as many companies want their websites translated by those who speak the native language.

32. Create a paid directory/business page – You charge people for listing or submissions to the page.

33. Just copy what others are doing – My personal favourite! 😉


P.S. If you wish to use this infographic on your website, feel free to do so.

  • Download the full infographic here (.png)

P.S.S. If you know any other ways to monetize websites, let me know in the comment section. I’ll add it to the list and credit you by putting your name under it.

How to Start A Blog Today

How to Start A Blog Today

A Free Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide to Create a Blog in 20 minutes

Updated June 12, 2017

Are you looking for a free, easy, step-by-step guide on how to start a blog?

My free guide on this page will show you how to create a blog that is beautiful and functional, all in an easy step-by-step tutorial (with pictures).

Ready to start the simple step-by-step tutorial? Click here to go to Step #1

My name is Scott Chow, and I am going to be your guide on this journey to building a successful blog. I have been building blogs and websites since 2002. In that time I have launched several of my own blogs, and helped hundreds of others do the same.

I know that starting a blog can seem overwhelming and intimidating. My free guide was designed just for beginners, and requires only the most basic computer skills. So whether you’re 8 or 88, you can have your blog ready to go in less than 20 minutes.

I am not ashamed to admit that when I was first learning how to build a blog I made a ton of mistakes. You can benefit from more than a decade of my experience so that you don’t repeat these same mistakes. I created this free guide so that anyone can learn how to blog quickly and easily. And if you get stuck at any point, please send me a message and I will do my best to help you!
Skip the rest of this introduction and start building your blog!

What is a blog anyway?

In short, a blog is a type of website that focuses mainly on written content, also known as blog posts. In popular culture we most often hear about news blogs or celebrity blog sites, but as you’ll see in this guide, you can start a successful blog on just about any topic imaginable.

Bloggers often write from a personal perspective that allows them to connect directly with their readers. In addition, most blogs also have a “comments” section where readers can correspond with the blogger. Interacting with your readers in the comments section helps to further the connection between the blogger and the reader.

This direct connection to the reader is one of the main benefits of starting a blog. This connection allows you to interact and share ideas with other like-minded people. It also allows you to build trust with your readers. Having the trust and loyalty of your readers also opens up the door to making money from your blog, which is something I discuss later in this guide.

Should you start a blog?


One of the misconceptions about starting a blog is that you need to be a great writer to be successful. Nothing could be further from the truth. People read blog sites to get a personal perspective on things, so most bloggers write in a very informal and conversational style.

In addition, you don’t need to be an expert on your topic in order to have a successful blog. For example, readers of a cooking blog don’t want to read a textbook from a food scientist, they want to hear the experiences of someone who has actually cooked some real meals, mistakes and all.

To be successful as a blogger there is really just one requirement: a passion for your topic.

At its heart, blogging is about sharing your knowledge with the world. Choosing a topic that you are passionate about makes the process of starting a successful blog so much easier. Writing about more than one topic is totally fine too. As long as you are writing about things that you are genuinely interested in, your passion will shine through and keep your readers interested.

So why would you go to the trouble of blogging? There are a few reasons:

    • Make money from home. Blogging can be quite lucrative if done correctly. The top bloggers in the world obviously earn quite a bit, but even a part-time blogger can expect to make a nice profit if things are done correctly. The best part about it is that blogging is a form of passive income, since you can spend just a few hours a week writing a blog post and then continue to make money from it long after the blog post is written. I go into much more detail on how to blog for money later in this guide.

 

    • Share your story. A blog allows you to have a voice and be heard. You can share your story with the entire world if you so choose. One of the most common ways blogs are used are as a diary where the blogger writes about their daily experiences so that friends, family, and others can all be a part of their lives.

 

    • Recognition for yourself or your business. No, you probably won’t have paparazzi following you around because of your latest blog post. But a successful blog can gain you a ton of recognition in your respective field. Many bloggers are known as experts just because of their blogs, and some have even gotten book and movie deals based on their blogs.

 

  • Find a community. Blogging at its heart is interactive. You write a blog post and people comment on it. This is a great way to connect with people who are interested in the same things as you are. Blogging allows you to teach these people based on your experience, and it gives you the opportunity to learn from your readers as well.

 

The good news is that the internet is exploding with growth right now. More people than ever are online. This explosion in growth means more potential readers for your blog. In short, if you are thinking about starting a blog then there is no better time than right now.

 

How to Start a Blog in 6 Steps

Learn how to create a blog in about 20 minutes following these steps:

  1. Pick a blog name
  2. Get your blog online
  3. Customize your blog
  4. Write & publish your first post!
  5. Promote your blog
  6. Make money blogging

Let’s start your blog!

 

Step 1: Pick a blog name

The first step to finding a good blog name is choosing your topic.

If you’re not sure what to blog about, there are a few ways to find a good blog topic:

    • Hobbies & passions. Hobbies or other interests you are passionate about are a great place to start. Cooking, travel, fashion, sports, and cars are all classic examples. But even blogs about more obscure hobbies can be successful, since the your audience is literally anyone in the world with the internet.

 

  • Life experiences. Everyone has lessons they have learned through life experience. Sharing this knowledge can be incredibly helpful to others in similar situations. For example, I recently helped a woman start her blog about being a fireman’s wife. She has a lot of experience and knowledge to share with others about this topic, and it has helped her connect with others in similar situations.Think about the things you have experienced in life. This could be related to your family (example: a blog about being a stay at home mom), work (a blog about experiences dealing with clients), or other life experiences (a blog about dealing with a troubling time such as a disease or divorce, or about a happy time such as preparing for a wedding or a birth of a child).
  • A personal blog. A personal blog is a blog all about you. This will include a variety of topics, from things you do on a daily basis, to random thoughts and musings. This is a great way to share you thoughts with the world without having to stick to just one topic.

Once you have a topic it’s time to choose your blog name.

A good blog name should be descriptive so that potential readers can instantly tell what your blog is about just from the name.

If you are blogging about one specific topic then you will definitely want to include that in some way in your blog name. Try not to get hung-up on just one word though. For example, a cooking blog doesn’t necessarily have to have the word “cooking” in it. The words “food”, “recipes”, and “meals” would also let people know that your blog is about cooking.

If you are planning to create a personal blog where you discuss a variety of topics then I recommend using your name, or some variation of it, since your blog is all about you. For example, I own the blog scottchow.com. You can also add your middle name or middle initial if you find your name is already taken. Or you could use a variation like “Scott Chow Blog” or “Blogging with Scott”.

Once you have some blog name ideas you will need to choose a domain extension.
A .com domain extension is the most preferred, but .net or .org work as well. It is also important to note that for the purposes of a blog domain you cannot have any spaces between words. So “Blogging with Scott” becomes bloggingwithscott.com

Now that you’ve got your name and have picked an extension it’s time to make sure that no one else has already registered the same name:

                        See if your blog name is available

Note: You cannot use any spaces or punctuation other than dashes in a domain name.

 

If you find that the name you wanted is already taken there are a few things you can do:

  • Try a different domain extension. If the .com version is already registered you may still be able to get the .net or .org version of your blog name.
  • Add small words. Words like “a”, “my”, or “the”. For example, this site is called TheBlogStarter.com instead of BlogStarter.com.
  • Add dashes between words. For example, scott-chow.com

 

Step 2: Get your blog online

Now that you’ve got a name picked out it’s time to get your blog online. This might sound hard or technical, but the steps below will walk you right through and make the process easy.

To get your blog up and running you need two things: blog hosting and blogging software. The good news is that these typically come packaged together.

A blog host is a company that stores all of the files for your blog and delivers them to the user when they type in your blog name. You must have a blog host in order to have a blog.

You also need to have the software to build your blog. In this guide I will be showing you how to build a blog using the WordPress blogging software, because it is the most popular, customizable, and easiest to use.

post-itThe blog host I recommend, and the one I show you how to use in this guide, is BlueHost. I personally use BlueHost and I recommend them for all new bloggers because:

  • They will register your blog name for you for free, making sure no one else can take it.
  • They offer a free, simple installation of the WordPress blogging software (which I show you how to use in this guide).
  • They have been recommended by WordPress since 2005 and currently host over 2 million blogs and websites.
  • They have helpful 24/7 customer service via phone or web chat.
  • They have a money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied for any reason.

Use any BlueHost link on this site to make sure you get the special discount price of $2.75 per month. BlueHost compensates me when you purchase through my link, so my services are free of charge to you! In fact, if you have any trouble at all setting-up your blog with this tutorial, just contact me and I will do it for you.

1. Click here for the special $2.75 per month rate on BlueHost and then click “get started now”.

2. Select your plan. I recommend that new bloggers get the Plus plan since it has the unlimited features you will want as a blogger. But if cash is tight you can start with the Basic plan and then upgrade in the future. Click “Select” to choose your plan.

3. Type in your domain name in the left box and then click “next” to start the registration process.

  • If you already own a domain name and want to use it for your blog, type your existing domain in the right box and then click “next”. Only use the right box if you have previously paid to register a domain!

4. Fill out your billing details on the registration page.

5. You will also need to choose your hosting package and options.

  • I like the 36 month option since it gives you the cheapest monthly rate, but the 12 month package has a lower up-front cost. Either is a good choice.
  • I uncheck the boxes next to the other products when I sign-up. You can always get these products later if you decide you need them.

6. You will then need to create a password for your account. Once you do that your blog software will be automatically installed. Click “Log Into WordPress” to be taken to your blog.

You should also receive an email with your blog log-in details. (NOTE: The login details for your blog will be different than for your BlueHost account.)

Having trouble installing your blog? Get help here.

Step 3: Customize your blog

Logging in

To start with, you will need to login to your blog. Go to http://www.yourblog.com/wp-admin to bring up the login screen (replace “yourblog.com” with your domain name). If you are unsure of your login name or password, check the email that was sent to you from BlueHost that has this information.

Changing your blog design

Once you login you will be in the WordPress administrator area. This is where you can make any changes you want to your blog.

Everyone has a different idea of how they want their blog to look. One of the great things about a WordPress blog is that you can change your entire layout and design with just a few clicks.

In WordPress, blog layouts are known as “Themes”. What is a blog theme? Themes control the entire design of your blog. To change your theme you are going to click on the “Appearance” tab on the left menu.

You will see several themes are already installed on your blog: Twenty Seventeen, Twenty Sixteen, etc. These are well-designed, clean-looking themes that can work for just about any type of blog. In fact, many of the world’s top bloggers use one of these themes.

Unless you have a very specific design in mind for your blog, I suggest you use one of these themes to start with. For our example, let’s use the “Twenty Twelve” theme. In order to activate the theme on your blog, hover over the theme and click the “Activate” button. That’s it! You have changed the entire design of your blog with just one click!

If you don’t like any of the themes that are already installed you can easily choose from thousands of other free themes. To install a new theme, click on the “Appearance” tab on the left menu and then click “Add New”.

This is the theme search screen. By clicking the “Feature Filter” you can search by color, layout, and more. Check the boxes that you want and then click “Apply Filters”.

Now you can browse the themes that have the characteristics that you want. When you find one that you like click the blue “Install” button.

Once the theme is installed click “Activate” to activate the theme on your blog. To see your new theme in action, go to your blog and take a look!

Changing your theme is the simplest way to customize your blog, but there are lots of of other customizations you can do. Check out my full post on customizing your blog for an in-depth step-by-step guide. You can also watch the video at the end of this guide to see me completely customize a blog from scratch.

Step 4: Write & publish your first post!

Now that your blog is up and running it’s time to actually do some blogging!

Go to the left menu and click on “Posts”.

You will see there is already a post there. This is a default post on every new WordPress blog, and we don’t need it. To delete it click “Trash” just under the post.

To begin writing a new post, click the “Add New” link.

You are now on the post editor screen. Enter the title of your post in the top box and then begin writing your post in the lower box.

If you would like to add a picture to your post, click on the “Add Media” button and click “Select Files” to upload a picture from your computer. You can make adjustments to the picture size on the next screen. When you are ready click “Insert into post” to add the picture.

Once you have finished your post just click the “Publish” button on the right side of the screen to publish it.

Publishing Your Blog

Even after you have written a post your blog may still be showing a “Coming Soon” page.

When you are ready to make your blog public just click the link near the top to remove the “Coming Soon” page.

Congratulations! You now know how to publish content on your blog!

 

Step 5: Promote your blog

Creating a well-designed blog and writing great content is just the start. In order to get readers for your blog you will need spend some time promoting it, especially when you first start.

One of my favorite ways to get readers to my blog is to post links on my social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. This is great, because not only do your friends see the link, but if your friends share the link with their friends it automatically multiplies your readers. If you have created high-quality content on your blog then social media is a great way for your blog to go viral.

In addition to getting new readers to your blog, you will also want to make sure your current readers are coming back. This is where email marketing plays a big role. By collecting the email addresses of your visitors (with their permission of course), you can then notify them when you post something new on your blog. This keeps people coming back to your blog, which not only gives you more readers over time, it also allows you to build a closer relationship with your readers.

Email marketing is too big a topic to cover well here, so I created a separate guide to email marketing for those who are interested (hint: every blogger who wants more readers needs to read this guide).

For more tips on promoting your blog make sure to check out my in-depth guide to blog promotion.

Step 6: Make money blogging

Once you have put in the effort of creating great blog content and promoting your blog, making money from your blog is actually the easy part.

There are several ways you can make money blogging, from selling your own products or services, to getting paid to write reviews of products on your blog. But the easiest way to make money from your blog is to sell advertising space.

Once you have a popular blog, advertisers will be hounding you for the opportunity to advertise. The best way to take advantage of this situation is to use Google Adsense. They find the advertisers for you and all you have to do is place the Google Adsense code on your blog to start running ads. Google Adsense takes all of the hard work out of the process and just cuts you a check.

I go into the full details of how to set up Google Adsense for your blog here. For more information on making money from your blog see my full guide here.