Blogging is one of the FIRST social media platforms you should invest time in. Through it, you can be found and shared on the Internet, you can show what you’re made of, and you can personally connect and interact with others. That being said, most people don’t know how to set up a blog and they don’t have the money (usually several thousand dollars) to pay someone else to do it… at least not at first. In an effort to convince you to jump in with both feet, I want to tell you about my struggles and successes in creating a blog.
I attempted to set up my first blog a few years ago when I wanted to share my feelings and struggles as an executive wife. I knew it wouldn’t be the most professional-looking site, but I was determined to do it myself. I posed a question on LinkedIn, asking where to get my domain and all the other stuff I needed, and the majority of responses said that GoDaddy was a great domain site because of their awesome support (that proved to be quite true) and WordPress was my best choice for hosting because there are so many free third-party themes and plugins for it. I followed that advice and purchased my first domain, wingspouse.com.
Buying a domain was incredibly easy and cheap! I think I paid $4.99 after finding a promotion code. After I purchased it, I stared at the computer without a clue what to do next. I called support. GoDaddy walked me through the few questions I had to answer, the most important one being what path I wanted to use for my blog. I didn’t know at the time that I could have multiple websites set up on one domain, so I set up my blog as wingspouse.com. I later realized I should have made it wingspouse.com/blog so I could have a company website with a blog and I made that change about a year later.
Once the domain was up (about 30 minutes, I went back into GoDaddy and selected WordPress as my host. After a short time, I had a webpage ready to sign into and write. (I don’t remember how I got there the first time, but any time I want to edit my blog now, I go to the subdirectory wp-admin under my domain path.) However, ads were plastered all over the place. That’s when I learned that if I didn’t want ads, I needed to pay for the hosting. I purchased hosting from GoDaddy for about $50 for the year and reinstalled WordPress. I had to choose between Windows and Linux, and the GoDaddy rep told me it didn’t really matter as long as I wasn’t having any custom programs done. I chose Linux and never regretted it. I quickly discovered that I needed to enter my own information into the Settings area of the website admin page so my blog title was correct and it worked the way I wanted it to.
I wrote a blog post so I could see how it would appear, and began experimenting with the default template. It wasn’t “me” at all. I googled “free WordPress themes” and was overwhelmed by all the wonderful choices. I went through several different looks before settling on one (which I later changed as I got more familiar with complicated stylesheets/themes).
Then I discovered widgets. These mini-programs vary by theme and are accessed in the Appearance section of your website admin page. With these widgets, I was able to control what appeared on the sidebar of my page. It took me a while to figure out I could insert code into a blank text widget to do some things that weren’t offered. Most importantly, I wanted to have those retweet and share buttons I saw on other blogs, so I found the code for the ones I wanted and inserted it into the wiedget. That worked okay for a while until I discovered that I could add plugins to do some of that kind of stuff, too.
Plugins is a separate section in your website admin page. If you click Add New, you can search for plugins that do all kinds of things. I found one called Digg Digg that I still use today for those share buttons because it is so customizable. I also use one to redirect one of my tabs to my other domain, and one to add some extra words for search engine optimization. I didn’t know I needed a lot of what I now have until I talked with others. One by one, I added a plugin for this or that, and sometimes I can’t even remember why I have a few of them now.
That’s all there was to it! Since then, I have edited the code, and figured out better ways to use my categories. Every day I learn something new that makes my blog a little bit better. I take it one step at a time, and I’m glad I got out there rather than putting it off for another day. If my business picks up and I need some of the bells and whistles (like shopping cart), then I’ll pay someone to help me out. Until then, I’m going to do my best to keep it simple and affordable.
How about you… Do you have a story to tell about your first attempt at setting up a blog? Maybe you are further along than me and can tell me how to get that blasted “Featured” title off my BrowneKnows website?!