- FREE Bonus
- What to expect….
- STEP #1: WEB SOFTWARE – What is WordPress and why do most successful bloggers use it?
- STEP #2: HOSTING – Finding a good home base for your blog
- STEP #3: CREATING YOUR BRAND – Choosing and registering your domain name
Setting up Hosting
- STEP #4: WORDPRESS SET UP: A first look at your site & features
- STEP #5: PICK A THEME – Styling your site to awesomeness
- STEP #6: PLUGINS, MAILING LISTS & GOOGLE ANALYTICS – Turning your blog into a performance ninja
- STEP #7: BLOGGING & MARKETING TRAINING – Learning from the MASTERS
- A Small Request
- Other SassyZenGirl Books:
- About the Author
Copyright ©2015-17 by Gundi Gabrielle/HDC Enterprises LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Successful Blog Series – Book 1
While all attempts have been made to verify the information provided in this publication, neither the author, nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretations on the subject matter herein.
This book is for entertainment purposes only. The views expressed are those of the author alone, and should not be taken as expert instruction or commands. The reader is responsible for his or her own actions.
A few affiliate links are included throughout this book. All products recommended have been personally used and tested by the author. Reader or purchaser are advised to do their own research before making any purchase online.
Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, including international, federal, state, and local governing professional licensing, business practices, advertising, and all other aspects of doing business in the US, Canada, or any other jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the reader or purchaser.
Neither the author nor the publisher assumes any responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of the purchaser or reader of these materials.
Any perceived slight of any individual or organization is purely unintentional.
Great to meet you! – I am excited to help you get started with your first blog!
As a thank you for purchasing my book, I prepared a FREE report that’s exclusive to you, my readers. Just click on the link below to download:
FREE Report: How to pick a marketable Domain Name that will rank well and create a real buzz in the blogosphere
Picking a marketable Domain Name will be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Sure, you can always change it later, but why not pick an awesome name right from the start?
In this FREE Report I compiled the advice from the top dogs in the blogging & marketing business to help you get started the right way and save you years of frustration.
PS: you will also receive a free subscription to my travel blog SassyZenGirl and if that’s not for you, no worries, you can unsubscribe immediately after you receive your free report. Just click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the welcome email.
You have some great ideas, but no audience to share them with.
Tech stuff scares you, and building your own website seems as impossible as climbing Mount Everest.
People have told you to start a blog. And you have many great ideas. You love writing.
You also heard how much money successful bloggers make. And the awesome number of people they can reach around the world.
Sounds intriguing. Fascinating really. Definitely something you would like to try, but you don’t know how, and all that tech stuff scares you.
And……you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a web designer. If you start a blog, you have to do it yourself.
Not really! If any of the above rings true, you have come to the right place.
You will find that starting a blog is surprisingly easy – and inexpensive! – and really doesn’t require any tech skills.
So take a deep breath, grab a coffee, and enjoy the ride!
Who Am I?
Well….I tell you who I am not! – a super-duper hi-tech web geek who can’t relate to newbies with no prior tech skills or experience.
My background is in music. For many years I toured the world as a conductor and pianist/organist, playing Carnegie Hall and many other famous venues, even performing for the Pope. I ran a successful music company and learned through smart marketing how to fill large concert halls and get the attention of the press. And I used my company as a social entrepreneur to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders, an organization I greatly admire.
Three years ago I took a break from this exhilarating, yet exhausting life and started traveling, mostly road tripping all over the US and now around the world.
I discovered blogging and writing as a wonderful new creative expression, and after publishing my first book and writing a little amateur blog for a while, decided to up my game and study with the top guns in the blogging world.
Along the way, I also discovered web design as a new freelance business.
Everything I have learned is condensed into this little book to help you get started with a cool blog the smart way. And without reading tedious manuals or pulling your hair.
I remember how overwhelming it was when I first started – especially all those tech words – and I want to spare you some of the frustrations and beginner’s mistakes that I made.
I will break it down step by step. Explain every funky word, so you don’t have to google it (as I had to…frequently) – and share some tools that worked for me.
Initially, there will be a small learning curve like with anything new. Don’t be discouraged if – on occasion – something may seem difficult or you can’t figure it out. Sometimes, stepping away and coming back the next day is all you need (or a walk with your dog…;-)
Steady does it, and if you keep at it – step by step – you will find that within a short time things will become a lot easier, and you will actually enjoy working on your blog.
Most of all, never forget WHY you are doing it. You obviously have something wonderful to share with the world, and you are passionate about it. Keeping that in mind will get you passed the few blocks you might encounter along the way.
At any time, if you have questions or feel stuck, feel free to[* email me*].
And …… don’t forget to send me a link to your new blog once it’s up and running. I can’t wait to see your masterpiece and share in the excitement. And starting a blog is a wonderful and exciting adventure!!
Sounds good? – then let’s get started!
How this book works:
This guide is divided into 3 parts:
Covers all the technical aspects of getting your blog up and running.
[* Web Software – *]What is WordPress and why do most successful bloggers use it?
[*_Hosting_ – *]Finding a good home base for your blog
[* _Creating your Brand_*] – Choosing and registering your domain name
This is where the fun begins! – Taking the basic structure and turning it into a great looking, highly functional site.
[_ _]WordPress Set up – A first look at your site & features
[_ _]Pick a Theme – Styling your site to awesomeness
Plugins, Mailing Lists & Google Analytics – Turning your blog into a performance ninja
A massive resource chapter with some of the best (and mostly free) blogging & marketing training available.
Blogging & Marketing Training _][_- Learning from the MASTERS
Instead of reinventing the wheel, learn from the best and save yourself years of struggle and frustration.
If you are interested in blogging, you have probably heard of WordPress and might be wondering what all the fuss is about.
Well….quite simply, WordPress is the website software that most blogs operate on.
First released in 2003, it quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, powering more than 70 million websites today.
Wordpress is not just a blogging tool though, but is also well-suited to build highly flexible, feature rich websites. And it is VERY easy to use, requiring no knowledge of complex codes, html, or the like.
If you are comfy with Microsoft Word, handling WordPress will be a breeze. It uses a similar editor to format pages and you can design and update your site without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a professional designer.
Even better, it is completely FREE, because WordPress is an “open source project,” meaning hundreds of volunteers from all around the world are constantly evolving and improving code and features.
There are thousands of “plugins”, “widgets” and “themes”…..
Yep… that’s exactly how I felt in the beginning, but all those funky words will be explained in the coming chapters, not to worry….
In addition, “WordPress is made to do SEO well” to quote Matt Cutts from Google. “SEO” stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. Those are the tools and techniques that help your blog rank high on Google and other search engines, so people can find you easily.
If you are looking for a simple tool to build your site without any tech knowledge — no other system is this easy!
We all love free, but don’t skip this one….
With WordPress new bloggers sometimes fall into the “freebie trap” – meaning they sign up with “free” services like Blogger/Blogspot, Weebly or WordpressCOM (the latter being an overpriced profit site, not to be confused with the non-profit WordPress.ORG which offers the free WordPress software and lots of support).
Now….…I am “Miss Frugality” and always like to go the free route whenever possible. You probably, too, right…?
However, as I’ve learned the hard way (my first blog was with blogspot and I also had brief experiences with Wordpress.com…ugh….), this is one area where choosing the freebie route is a terrible idea – and it’s not something you can just change down the road. It will cost time and effort if you do…..
Plus, we are talking about $3/month – not some major expense! – and most everything else you will need for your blog comes FREE! – (another great thing about WordPress).
The cost I am referring to is related to “hosting” your site.
What is hosting?
To put it simply, a hosting service is the home base for your blog. It “stores” your blog’s data – all the pages, design, files, archives, etc., – and also functions as a “broadcasting station” to beam all your awesome content into cyberspace.
With a freebie site you don’t pay the 3 bucks for hosting, but instead run into these major problems:
1) Your site looks amateurish! – Anyone with even a little experience can spot a free site from miles away. They look terrible, and they will detract a lot of potential subscribers who will be turned off by an ugly, unprofessional design.
Not cool…..not cool at all!
2) You want to [build a mailing list *]and use[ autoresponder campaigns*]? – Forget it! – Not possible, and how are you going to build an audience without them?
[*3) Customization & marketing features are extremely limited. *]Worse, installation of important apps and features are mostly impossible. You will spend time building a free site and then find out later all the things you cannot do. Really frustrating! – Trust me, I’ve been there…..
It’s like being denied access to the majority of smart phone apps, just so your cell phone bill is zero.
4) Free blogs don’t provide full control. This one is huge! Your content, everything you write, will be owned by the hosting service and they decide how it’s presented and whether to display ads – unless you pay extra. And they can shut you down at any time for any reason and don’t even have to tell you about it. That means all your content will suddenly be gone – including all backups! You will be left with nothing!
Not fun, when you have just started to build a following….
[5) *]Worst of all,[ their name will show in your address*] which immediately points you out as a newbie and an amateur:
- OR -
If you have ever considered monetizing your blog or attracting advertisers – and what serious blogger doesn’t? – this will kill your chances right there!
So, to save $3/month – basically the price of a cup of coffee – you give up substantial income possibilities down the road – AND – you look like an amateur!
Even little “Miss Frugality” found out quickly that that was not a smart way to go and changed her ways.
So….check out the next chapter and see what hosting options are available and what feels right to you.
If you are at all serious about blogging and building a following for all the wonderful information you have to share, free services will not keep you happy for long….
Now, let’s find a good home base for your blog!
In the last chapter I explained what “hosting” is. In this chapter we will go over the important factors to consider when choosing a good hosting company. Price is obviously one prime factor, and there are a few others.
I will share one example that has worked well for me – after some rather bad experiences initially – so you can save time on research and get started TODAY!
If you want to know what the main factors are that make for good web hosting, here is a list of the Top 10 Factors (with my top web hosting choice at the bottom).
The 10 Important Factors when selecting a Web Hosting Service
1) Good Uptime/Reliable Servers: should be 99%
This is super important and ensures that your website will always be up and running. Cheap companies often have server downtimes, meaning your website will be down, noone can find it – sometimes for hours or days at a time…
2) cPanel Backend
cPanel = Control Panel – the best control panel backend available. Don’t worry if that sounds complicated – it’s super easy to use and you will rarely have to deal with it once it’s set up
3) Free WordPress Installer
Ideally, this is offered during sign up, so you just click a button and the system does it for you. Any good hosting company should have this!
4) Unlimited Disk Space and Bandwidth
Unless you suddenly get something like 100,000 daily visitors to your site (unlikely in the beginning), you should have no limitations in your usage.
5) Free Backups
You should still have your own backup program (will be discussed in the plugin chapter), but your hosting company should also backup everything – and for free, of course
6) Free Site Transfers
If you already have a site and want to transfer it to a new hosting company at a better rate/conditions, your new hosting company should do this for free.
7) Top Notch Tech Support
Minimal wait times for online chat or phone support (don’t use Bluehost if this is important to you – their support was terrible when I tried them and often takes 30 min to even get to someone – and then they will be talking to 4 customers at once….ugh….)
8) Money Back Guarantee of at least 30 Days
9) Low Price = around $5 per month
for 1-2 sites you should not pay more than $5/month – be careful though with $1-2 hosting sites. Their quality is usually bad, lots of downtime, no customer support etc – and google often considers them spammy and occasionally bans all sites hosted there…..
10) Good Reviews from reputable Review sites
Now that you know what to look for you can start researching online. My top web hosting choice – where I host all my sites – is InMotion Hosting.
They check out on all 10 Points, offer a 90 day money back guarantee – the only service in the industry – and are awarded year after year:
“Best Web Hosting Company”
“Best Web Hosting for WordPress”
“Best Web Hosting for Small Business”
by the top review sites. Doesn’t get much better….;-)
[* This special link will give you a whopping 56% discount *] – so give it a try!
Keep that window open. We’ll return to it in a few minutes, after we go over choosing and registering a name for your blog (your “domain” name)……
This is an exciting part of the process: finding a cool name for your blog or business.
It will become your online identity for years to come and define your blog and what you stand for, well beyond just cyberspace.
You probably played with a few ideas and asked your friends for feedback. And maybe you already found an awesome name for your blog, one that you are really excited about.
There are, however, a few more factors to consider when choosing a domain name – your brand name – including whether it is marketable and user-friendly.
You probably remember the free gift I offered in the beginning. Now would be a good time to check it out, even if you have already decided on a name. It is always good to validate and consider all factors:
FREE Report: How to pick a marketable Domain Name that will rank well and create a real buzz in the blogosphere
This report contains tips and advice from the top dogs in the business and can help you avoid common beginner’s mistakes that will cost you down the road.
If you can’t think of a good name, but have a few keywords that you would like to include, these tools can help:
Next, you need to check whether your dream name is still available. These are the three best-known domain name registrars and you can quickly check there (I usually go with NameCheap):
If your desired name is available, great, you can purchase it – or – purchase it from InMotion hosting during sign up in the next paragraph – that way you don’t have to change “nameservers” later, see end of chapter).
If your dream name is not available, you might find a variation that works, keeping in mind the .com and ‘dash’ rules described in the free report.
If you can’t make a final decision yet, don’t let that stop you. Just pick an interim name so you can sign up for hosting and start building your site.
Once you settle on a final name, you simply register it, and “point” the old name to the new (super-easy to do – your hosting company will help you with that at no extra cost).
Now, let’s get you set up!
First, go back to the InMotion discount link from the last chapter. You can also click here to open it again (just make sure you open it in a new window).
You should arrive at this screen:
If you don’t see the $3.49 discounted price for Business Hosting, try clicking the link again or send me an email. The regular price is much higher – more than double.
Once you are on the correct page, click on Business Hosting and then the Launch option. If you want to explore the 3 different options, just scroll down and there will be a detailed comparison chart of all features included.
The Launch option offers up to two websites per account, and that is usually enough. You can always upgrade later or choose a different option if you need hosting for more than two sites.
Next, choose 12 or 24 months. The price will go up slightly for the shorter version, so I usually choose 24 months.
Click continue and enter your chosen domain name.
InMotion will let you know if your name is already taken, in case you didn’t check before. Otherwise, you will be led to the next screen.
Just ignore the offer and click continue.
On the following screen, fill out your information.
Adding domain privacy is advisable, unless you don’t mind getting spammed with web design and SEO offers for several weeks after you sign up.
VERY important is that you select Install WordPress two tabs down. This way, WordPress gets installed automatically, and you don’t have to worry about it later.
After that, just add your payment info and click purchase. You are now paid up for the next 1-2 years of hosting!
Next, you will receive a welcome email with your login info and the option to set up a password.
Open the email and first, scroll ALL the way down. You will find the following WordPress login information, specific to your account:
1) wp-admin link
2) user name
Save that info for later. You will need it in the next chapter to log into your WordPress account.
Next, scroll back to the beginning of the email and click on the red link that says: “To get started, set your password here”.
This will get you logged into your InMotion admin area.
Please note, that you just received TWO different logins:
login for your hosting account (in this case, InMotion). Here, you will manage your domains, email accounts, and other tech set up for your website.
Don’t worry, you won’t spend much time there, and the few things you need can easily be handled by tech support in just a few minutes.
login for your WordPress account, the one I asked you to save. WordPress is the web software that will allow you to design your website. It will become clearer in the next chapter, but just as a little heads-up.
Inside your Hosting account (login info from _]TOP [_of the email) click on:
My Account -> Manage My Account
and you will see the following screen:
Don’t worry about all the different icons for now. The most important feature will be your cPanel (left arrow). That’s the area where the technical management of your websites and hosting takes place (NOT the design – that happens within WordPress and we’ll go there in just a few moments).
Let’s have a look:
I marked some of the more important features to help you get oriented. The Getting Started Wizard and Video Tutorials are very helpful. Short ’n sweet and easy-to-follow. You can also use them later to set up your email accounts once your site and contact form are set up.
Two additional areas that you will occasionally use are
To add a new domain use Addon Domains. To “point” and old domain to the new use Redirects.
options like Softaculous (to install apps like [WordPress) _]and[ _]Merchant Accounts
Again, if any of this tech stuff ever feels overwhelming, just chat with the friendly guys from tech support and they will do it for you in a few minutes. Easy – peasy.
This also goes for changing Nameservers if you purchased your domain with a registrar like NameCheap or GoDaddy, rather than with your hosting company.
Nameservers connect (“point”) your domain name – yourawesomeblog.com – to your hosted site.
If you purchased your domain through[_ InMotion_] during sign up, you are good to go, no further steps needed.
If your domain is registered elsewhere, you need to point nameservers from the registrar to your hosting company.
Sounds complicated, but is really easy. Simply go to your registrar’s account and click on:
Manage My Domains -> Manage Domain Settings
You will see something like the following screen:
Click on Manage (blue link) under Nameservers and insert the nameservers where you see them above:
It can take from a few minutes to 24 hours to update, but your part is done.
Now that we got your blog all set up, you are ready to get creative and design your site.
[_Congratulations! _]- You have passed the technical steps of setting up your blog. Now it’s time to get creative and design your site.
This will be fun……
If you chose InMotion and picked the option for automatic WordPress installation during sign-up, you are ready to go.
If you chose another hosting service, check with their tech support or video tutorials and install WordPress to your site. It’s usually very simple and straightforward.
During sign up you were given a WordPress admin user name and password, and you saved it, remember? Be sure to keep that information safe. You will need it whenever you want to access your site.
Now, let’s use that info and log into your [_WordPress _]admin board for a first look around. This is the place where you will edit and customize your site.
First, enter your domain name plus /wp-admin. You can just copy and paste the link you saved from the welcome email):
(obviously, replace YourAwesomeBlog.com with your blog’s name….;-)
Next, enter your user name and password:
You should now see the following screen:
This is the basic structure of the WordPress admin area, or “back end”, as it’s also called. This is where the magic happens.
On the left, you will see a black vertical side bar with a number of options. At the top of that bar is Dashboard. Selecting this option will always get you back to your admin area from Previews, Customize, etc., so it’s important to know where it’s located.
Now, click on My Blog and then Visit Site. This will always give you the finished look of your site, as people will see it when they enter your url (minus the black WordPress bar at the top).
At the moment it looks very bleak, but that will change soon, once we install a “theme” in the next chapter.
For now, let’s just get an overview of the basic WordPress functions – without worrying about style and design.
Go back to:
My Blog (top left corner) -> Dashboard
and let’s see what else we can find in the menu.
In the left menu bar, underneath the dashboard you will see Posts, Media, and Pages.
Pages vs Posts
Quite simply, “posts” are blog articles with time and date stamps, whereas pages are static (like a home page, about page, or contact page). You will probably use both in your blog, and they are customized in different areas within your WordPress admin board.
Try clicking on each, and you will see a few options coming up: Add New, Categories, etc. This is where you create and edit pages or posts.
To start a new page/post, simply click Add New and you will be led to a template that looks very similar to a word document with formatting options.
It is pretty self-explanatory and you can preview and update (=save) your page on the right.
Here, you can upload pictures, video and audio. You can also upload media directly from the Page/Post Editor by selecting Add Media.
This is the next menu option and will be one of the most important areas for designing your site. You can upload and customize your theme, create menus, edit widgets, and a number of other cool features.
The items in Appearance will vary slightly depending on the theme you choose, but most items are the same.
“Plugins” are to WordPress what apps are to smart phones. We’ll cover them in detail in Step 6 but for now, just think of them as additional features like a contact page, facebook/twitter buttons, marketing tools, design features, etc. Whatever you could ever need, there will be a plugin for it.
Each theme already comes with a few plugins, and you can add as many as you like or need. Most are free and can be installed right from the WordPress plugin area. (explained in Step 6)
This allows you to add additional users who have permission to modify your site, like a business partner, web designer, or tech support.
Additional customization features. All pretty self-explanatory. It’s a good idea to look around the various options after you install your theme to get an overview of what is where. It may seem a lot at first, but once you use it a few times it will become easy and intuitive.
Congratulations! – You now have a basic understanding of how WordPress works.
In the next chapter we will put that knowledge to work and write your first post!
Now that you have taken a first walk around your WordPress admin area, it is time to start designing your site and creating your first blog post.
Excited? – let’s do it!
There are several options to find a good theme – both free and paid – depending on your needs.
First, let’s clarify what a THEME is:
A theme is the “face” of your blog. It creates the overall design and style of your site as well as the individual page and post layout.
Think of a car: the WordPress software is what runs the site (like the engine, transmission, etc.). The theme provides the exterior (the body and trim of the car). This is what your visitors see when they come to your site.
When choosing a theme you have 3 options:
1) a free theme: can give you a basic start
2) a [low _]to _medium priced premium theme (ca. $10 – 40):
most free themes can be upgraded to this option
3) an advanced high priced premium theme (ca. $60 – $150)
A good place to start is WordPress.org. They have a wide range of free themes, many with the option to upgrade to a premium version at a reasonable price.
For most new websites this option will be enough, at least to get you started. Especially, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money in the beginning.
You can try a free version and see if it’s easy to use. If you like it, you upgrade to the premium version and gain access to more advanced features – which you will probably need eventually.
A lot of the higher priced themes are more complex, with lots of extra features that sound great, but can be confusing in the beginning. And sometimes you need “coding” (e.g., complex web designer lingo) to adjust them to your needs (even if the description claims that you don’t!).
A simpler theme with not too much “schnick-schnack” is a good way to start and learn the basics of WordPress. Once you are more comfortable and feel there are additional features that you need, you can always upgrade. By then the learning curve will be a lot shorter.
Many features can be added with plugins (apps) and don’t necessarily require a different theme – though there are certainly a number of good reasons to eventually upgrade once your site is growing. But then you will have a much better understanding of what you need, rather than being overwhelmed with a flood of new words and strange features that you have never heard of, let alone know how to use.
Eventually, you will want to switch to an advanced theme, because the features and overall functionality are amazing. But when you first start out, it’s most important to get you going without too much frustration or a long learning curve.
If a theme is driving you crazy, change it! – It’s not worth the aggravation and there are plenty of other themes that will serve your needs and are easy to use.
A great advantage of premium themes is tech support. Even as a beginner you might have specific needs or questions and having tech support will save you a lot of time.
Most themes though – even free themes – come with a “tour” to guide you through the basics and there are thousands of Youtube tutorials for any theme under the sun.
Another great resource for premium themes is ThemeForest. Some of the most popular blog themes are listed there with plenty of reviews and testimonials.
To be honest, I found this whole process a little overwhelming in the beginning. A lot of the features were new to me and I didn’t know what they meant.
If that doesn’t scare you or you already found a theme that you like, feel free to skip to the next section. But if you would like a few pointers, I’ll be happy to share:
I initially started on Blogger/Blogspot (remember, those “free” sites from Step 1…..?) . It was a waste of time, and the constant limitations eventually forced me to move elsewhere.
After some rather frustrating experiences with more advanced themes that had dazzled me with amazing features but were much to complex for a beginner, I found an easy-to-use (and free) theme on WordPress.org: Vantage Theme
I used Vantage to build the following site:
It has nice features, including a slider for pictures, a large collection of beautiful icons and [_Page Builder _]plugin which makes it super-easy to build different pages. Simply drag and drop, play with colors, fonts, etc., import images, mp3s or video – all super-easy and no coding needed.
Looking for a theme with “Page Builder” or “Content Builder” will make your life a LOT easier as they are very intuitive and easy to use.
Vantage was well reviewed and starts with a free version that can be upgraded to premium at any time. There is no fixed price for the premium version, which is unusual. It is by choice, whatever you feel it is worth to you – so even $10 can get you the Premium version.
If you want tech support though, the minimum is $15 (one-time) – and I HIGHLY recommend that you pay at least that much.
I know this is a recurring theme throughout this book….;-) – but I can’t say it often enough: having efficient tech support by your side will save you a LOT of time and make your designing experience much more enjoyable.
Vantage’s email support is superb! – Fast, efficient with easy-to-follow instructions. They really go out of their way to help you.
There is one amazing tool you can add even as a beginner to give you advanced features (= Option 3) and an awesome look while being incredibly easy to use: Thrive Content Builder.
I used it to build my main site:
The base theme here is Vantage and adding Thrive Content Builder (TCB) brought in a whole new range of features, a cool look and most of all a simple drag & drop builder right in the finished page (you will see what I mean at the end of this chapter when we write your first post).
TCB comes with [_Thrive Landing Pages. _]Those are designated download, sales, email sign up or “coming soon” pages, as well as some pop up forms (=“Lightboxes”). You might not need them when you first start out, but later, especially once you have ebooks or courses to sell – or even your freelance services – they will become an important part of your blog.
Do you need Thrive, just to get started? – Absolutely not! – But it’s good to have as an option for later.
If you are brand new, don’t worry too much about advanced features. A free theme like Vantage will be fine to get you started and once you know better what your specific needs are, you can always add Thrive Content Builder or upgrade to another theme.
Whatever you decide, it is important that you are comfortable with your theme, because it will be your daily companion for years to come and shouldn’t be a constant frustration.
Installing your Theme
Now let’s install your theme!
If you chose one from WorkPress.org, you can upload it directly from the WordPress admin area:
Simply go to:
Appearances -> Themes
click Add New
enter the Theme name into the search bar on the right or find it by scrolling down the listings.
Hover over the Theme’s image, click Install and when a new screen opens, click Activate.
That’s it! – Your chosen theme is now running the show.
If you purchased a theme through another site, you were given a download link. The downloaded package will include a zip file and this is what you will upload to your WordPress account.
[Appearances *]-> [*Themes *]->[ Add New ]->[ Upload Theme*] -> Choose the theme’s zip file from your download folder -> Activate Theme
Once your theme is activated, take a tour to check out features and see where things are. Or just go through the options on the left side admin bar and click a few to get familiar. Most will be self-explanatory.
As themes can vary greatly in structure and usability, we will only cover a few general basics here.
A good place to start is Appearance. You will find:
Every theme will vary in options, but you always want to have responsive enabled in both layout and navigation. This ensures that your site looks good on any mobile device – phones, iPads, etc.
This option will take you to a different screen where you can customize the overall settings for your site: fonts, colors, header/footer styles, etc.
You can also set a static front page depending on your preferences. Static refers to a classic home page, like[_ luxurypetcompanion.com_] vs. a blog page with changing blog posts, and date/time stamp as well as comments.
This is usually the first page people see when they visit your site and a good place for a photo slider (=slide show). Sliders can be found at the bottom of the left admin menu, often called Meta Slider). Not every theme comes with a slider, but there are plugins you can add.
To set up a menu, select Edit Menu and then one of the options on the left side: pages, posts, etc. Once the tab opens select Add to Menu and fill in your menu titles, etc.
Widgets are features that can be added in the side bars, header or footer. Things like a search bar, social media icons or an About section. Also an Archive or a list of most popular posts. There are many to choose from and this will be another fun (and easy) part of your design experience.
Pages & Posts
As covered earlier, there are two different areas to design posts and pages, because they function differently. Blog posts, for example, have time/date stamps and comment boxes. Both are found in the admin bar at the top left. Click on either and then Add New. From there, you can enter your text, media, etc.
Now let’s publish your first post!
Publishing your first Post
Posts -> Add New
The following screen will open:
Enter a page title, something like “Welcome” or “My First Post”, or whatever else comes to mind.
In the edit section, be sure you are on the Visual tab, not Text, and type something. Format any way you like, using the options at the top, very similar to Microsoft Word.
Now let’s add a picture.
Add Media -> Select Files -> find your picture and upload it -> Insert into Post at the bottom right.
You can also fill out the info on the right screen (title/caption, etc.)
Next, click Preview in the upper right hand corner. The preview will open in a new window and you will see your first post in a basic design:
Close that window and click Publish on the upper right side.
Congratulations! – you have just published your first post.
Next, you will want to change the design of your site and make it look more appealing. This will vary greatly with each theme, but the basic principles are always the same.
A good place to start is Customize (under Appearances) and set header/footer styles and colors, as well as font styles. This will also change the look of the individual pages and posts.
Next you might want to configure a Menu (also under Appearances). And then design each menu item under Add Pages. For a blog menu, use Add Posts. For the front page use Home Page (under Appearances).
These are some general pointers to get you started. The simpler themes are pretty intuitive and don’t need much additional explanation beyond the steps given here.
If you still feel overwhelmed, a video tutorial is a great way to jump start your designing efforts. Most themes have video tutorials on their support page and also offer a start up tour right within the WordPress admin area.
YouTube offers tutorials for pretty much every theme under the sun. And WordPress.org and WPBeginner.com are additional great resources.
The most important thing will be not to get overwhelmed or stop altogether. Just take your time and go at your own pace.
Getting a basic site up and running is not that complicated and you can always add more features later. The more you work with WordPress – and your particular theme – the easier it will get. And eventually it will be really fun!
For now, we got your first post published!
Time to celebrate…
What the heck are “plugins”….?
Well…to make it simple, plugins are to WordPress what apps are to smartphones. They add cool features to the core WordPress software.
Some are essential, some are just fun, and we will cover both in this chapter.
There are thousands of WordPress plugins available, offering an abundance of options to customize your site. You will figure out what you need as you keep building and modifying your site, and it may change over time. There is a plugin for pretty much any feature you could ever need, but initially it is best to start with just a few. Too many active plugins can slow down the performance of your site and cause extended loading times for visitors.
Below is a list of 5 essential plugins that are widely used in the blogosphere, and I recommend you start with those. All of them are free (as most plugins are).
To install a plugin, simply go to Plugins (right underneath Appearances), click Add New and enter the name of the desired plugin in the search bar on the right.
Once your plugin comes up, click Install Now, wait a few seconds, and when a new screen appears click Activate Plugin.
You can deactivate and reactivate plugins at any time by going to Plugins -> Installed Plugins.
Click on Bulk Actions and familiarize yourself with those options. They can also be found underneath each plugin.
If you downloaded a plugin to your hard drive – usually the case with paid plugins like Thrive Content Builder – click on Upload Plugin at the top of the Add Plugin window and continue from there.
5 Essential WordPress Plugins
Blocks spam comments. Really important unless you enjoy cleaning up your “Comments” section every day.
A security plugin that protects your site from malware (viruses) and hacks.
W3 Total Cache
The most powerful performance plugin for WordPress sites. Dramatically improves the operational speed of your site.
An excellent choice to back up your site on a regular basis. You definitely want a backup plugin!
WordPress SEO by Yoast
“SEO”…..that word again!
If SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is new to you, don’t worry, there will be more information in the final chapter.
Understanding SEO is really important, because it is the key ingredient for bringing more visitors to your site. It’s what makes your site rank high in search engines like Google and Bing, so people can easily find you. Without proper SEO your site will get lost in cyberspace.
I takes time for SEO techniques to bear fruit and improve your ranking – at least a few months initially. That’s why it’s good to get started right away by at least adding some basic SEO info to your pages. That way your blog has time to build a web presence over time.
You don’t need to understand all the ins and outs of SEO right now. But at least have it set up and put a title and a few keywords in to get you started (see Step 7 for more info). You can always modify them later once you had time to get more familiar with SEO, but don’t ignore it completely, even if it may feel a lot right now.
For now, you can check out my free 4-part video series on Beginner SEO. Part 3 “On Page Optimization” is most important for you at this stage as it covers how to set up and structure your posts so google can find and rank them (10 min video).
[Yoast SEO _]is widely considered _THE best tool to help you optimize your pages for search engine ranking. Provides feedback on your page/post content, pointing out things you might have forgotten or could improve. Also includes optimization for social media.
Easy to use and even offers a tour when you first open it:
Another important plugin is [Google XML Sitemaps. *]This tool helps search engines analyze (= “crawl”) your site to determine ranking. However, Yoast SEO includes *XML Sitemap feature, so you can skip the google version.
5 more Awesome Plugins
[_The following plugins are helpful and widely used, but not essential in the beginning. If you feel overwhelmed, just skip to _]_Google Analytics _[_for now. Otherwise, read on for some more cool WordPress apps: _]
A popular (and free) floating [*social media sharebar. *]“Floating” means the sharebar stays with the reader as they are scrolling down the text. This plugin comes with a lot of other cool features – all free – and it looks pleasant.
Contact Form 7
If your theme doesn’t come with a contact form, this plugin is the most widely used option with over 9 million downloads. It includes CAPTCHA, Askimet spam filtering, and multiple templates that can be customized to your needs.
Click to Tweet
Allows you to place a “click to tweet” button next to a quote inside a blog post.
Considered one of the best plugins of all time, this one is huge – a monster really, jam-packed with more than 30 features (“Modules”), including:
Monitor* – notifies you by email if your site fails to respond along with details of total downtime – REALLY important
[*Related Posts][_ -_] automatically searches your database for related posts and adds links under your posts. This becomes important once you have an archive of old posts. By listing older posts that are related, you can engage your readers further and provide additional info that might be helpful to them (without having to manually search through your archives).
WP Stats* – a quick overview of your site’s traffic right in the dashboard
Contact Form* – if your chosen theme doesn’t have one
Photon* – speeds up image delivery
You won’t need most of them in the beginning and it’s best to only activate the ones you really use. Otherwise, they will slow down the performance of your site. If you are not sure which ones you need, just leave them all deactivated and come back later when you have a little more experience.
To find out what each module is for, simply click on it. A box will open, explaining the feature – often with a little video – and how to configure it if needed (like connecting to your social media accounts, etc.)
The most important tool for analyzing and tracking your blog traffic will be Google Analytics. It is the industry standard for website analytics and an absolute must.
Google Analytics helps you to assess how well pages, posts and features are doing, where to best place a newsletter sign-up, or how to improve search engine ranking.
If you ever want to work with advertisers, PR agencies or sponsors, they will want statistics pulled from Google Analytics, so it is important to get it set up from the start.
Even if you are not planning to monetize your site, it will still be an important tool to help you measure what works and what doesn’t, and how to grow your audience.
If this feels overwhelming, don’t worry, you don’t have to apply it all right away.
I will help you set up your GA account, and then you can leave it for a while and focus on other things – like designing your site and writing cool posts.
There are many excellent articles on how to best use [_Google Analytics, _]and in good time you will want to read some of them. For now, though, let’s just get you set up and have that out of the way.
Setting Up Google Analytics
Go to analytics.google.com and sign up by following the prompts. If you don’t have a Google account yet (e.g., through a gmail address) you will be asked to create one, but you can use your regular email address (doesn’t have to be gmail).
Next, you will be guided to this screen for Google Analytics sign up:
Click Sign up and on the next screen follow the prompts:
[*Account: *]This will be the “umbrella name” for your GA account. You can have several different websites under one account, but this is the overall name. You can use your blog’s name or any other name.
Property: Enter your website name and url.
Scroll down and click, Get tracking ID.
Next, you will see some code – no need to panic…;-) – just hang in there…
First, go to
Admin -> Property Settings -> turn on each of the tabs under Advertising Features. This will give you additional data from each visitor. These need to be turned on from the start to deliver accurate data.
Now back to the code. Thankfully, there is a great plugin that will place the code for you, making things very easy:
If you haven’t already installed and activated this plugin, do it now, and then click on the Google Analytics tab in the left WordPress Admin bar.
This will lead you to Basic Settings. Make sure that Google Analytics logging is enabled, and select the correct Analytics Account. Then press Save.
Next, you will see a message in your dashboard: “Don’t miss your crawl errors: connect with Google Search Console here.”[_ _]
Click on the link, then click on Get Google Authorization Code.
In the pop-up, click Allow, and then copy and paste the prompted code into the box. Then click Authenticate and Save Profile.
Seeing Your First Statistics
Google updates data several times a day. Go to Reporting and try the various options in the left hand sidebar. To see who is on your site right now, click Real time -> Overview.
Of course, you won’t see anything right after set-up, so give it a day, or at least a few hours, and then check again.
As your site grows, this will be really fun and also give you valuable insight for improving your site.
Mailing List & Email Marketing Services
The final tool we will explore in this chapter are mailing list services. This is where email addresses go when someone signs up to your newsletter.
These services provide sign up forms as well as landing pages like “please confirm your subscription” and so on.
They also manage your email campaigns and help you schedule automated responders or an email series. And they will send out your newsletters.
As usual, there are many options to choose from, but the following two are the most widely used among bloggers:
Unlike most services described in this guide, switching mailing list companies is not without challenges.
The main problem is that ALL your subscribers have to resubscribe when you switch to a new service.
To clarify: yes, your new mailing list service can import your subscriber list, but they are still required by law to ask every subscriber to opt in again. Otherwise, they would be spamming them.
Naturally, not every subscriber will do it – some simply forget or are too busy – and you will loose quite a few.
Therefore, it is really important to pick the “right” service for your needs from the start and most bloggers use AWeber.
MailChimp starts with a free version up to a certain subscriber number, but you can’t do auto-responders etc. And it’s not as user friendly as AWeber.
But, again, it depends on what your needs are, so, maybe check out both and/or do AWeber’s 30-day free trial before making a decision.
There are millions of blogs in the blogosphere (love that word…;-), but many are “ghost towns” with few if any subscribers. The problem is usually not the content quality, but rather a lack of understanding of how successful blogging works – both on the writing and the marketing side.
To be a successful blogger takes a variety of skills:
– improving your writing/blogging style
– finding content that is trending
– search engine ranking (SEO)
– generating traffic and building a subscriber list
– social media marketing
– finding your niche
and much more.
[*The next book in the SassyZenGirl Successful Blog Series will go more in-depth *]into:
* choosing a blog topic that works
[_* the writing style of blogging _]
- and most of all -
* how to drive traffic to your blog!
* how to monetize your blog
#3-5 cover additional methods of traffic generation:
a MUST for every blogger or website owner
Understanding SEO is the foundation for everything else and will change
* how you structure your site and
* how you write your posts!
[_It is very important to apply these principles from the start, _]
because otherwise, you may have to rewrite everything later.
Without proper SEO Optimization you will not be able to rank.
[_Also, ranking and building trust with the search engines takes time, _]
– another reason why applying SEO from the start
Is so important.
#4 – Social Media Marketing
Winning Strategies for Quickly
Growing a Following on:
#5 – Kindle Bestseller Publishing
One of the easiest and fastest ways
[_to grow a following _]
for your blog, business & social networks
while establishing yourself
as an authority in your field
….and you get paid in the process
month after month
LEARNING FROM THE MASTERS
I have also put together a list of some of the best training available, grouped by topic. Most of it is free and comes from the top bloggers in the world, sharing their tips and insights.
Studying even a few will save you a LOT of time and frustration and will also connect you with other bloggers in your field.
There are a lot of simple things you can do that will greatly enhance your chances of being successful, and these are the guys to learn from. They are the best of the best, some of the biggest, most successful bloggers and online marketers in the world, and they offer a TON of free information, courses and ebooks that will save you time, and help you get started the right way.
If you want to be successful, make your voice heard AND make money along the way: learn from the best!
So here we go:
- SmartBloggers.com – Jon Morrow’s training program – one of the most successful bloggers in the world with an amazing life story to tell
- ProBlogger.com – the other top authority on anything relating to building a successful blog. His ebook 31 Days to Building a Better Blog is a classic.
- CopyBlogger.com – THE top resource for online writing and running a successful blog
- EnchantingMarketing.com – excellent tips for brilliant online & copywriting delivered in “snack-able” form….
- MOZ’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO – a must-read for anyone serious about improving their web presence and a great introduction to the world of SEO; MOZ is [_THE _]authority on SEO with weekly webinars, ebooks and articles
- BackLinko.com – awesome and very unique tips on SEO and link building
- Beginner SEO Video Series –
- GuestBlogging – Writing guest articles for well known blogs is one of THE most effective strategies to build a following for your blog. This is the best course around. Includes a “Black Book” with editor’s emails for some of the highest ranked blogs on the internet (incl. Forbes, Huffington Post and Lifehacker) – This is a paid course, but WELL worth it!!
- BlogTyrant.com – great site with lots of easy-to-understand information
- All sites in this chapter offer great info in this area
- SocialTriggers.com – Derek Halpern’s site offers some of the best marketing advice you will ever hear. He is one cool dude……
- TravelBlogSuccess.com – These guys are the leaders when it comes to building a successful travel blog and monetizing opportunities. You want to get paid to travel? – These are the guys to learn from.
- LocationRebel.com – The most comprehensive site on this topic with numerous freelance BluePrints to help you get started with a location independent business in web design, copywriting, Kindle Books, online courses, SEO, freelance writing, PPC and much more.
Sean Ogle who runs the site is an all around great guy and always ready to help, and the Location Rebel community can be a great resource on your path.
[ Beginner Training – A Collection of Free Resources*]
New Bloggers – Start Here
How to set up a new Blog in 10 min.
How to make your Blog Posts go Viral
Black Book of Editor Emails for Huffington Post, Forbes etc
A Little known Trick for getting your Writing Featured on the Huffington Post
You made it to the end – Congratulations!
I hope you are happy with the results and enjoy building your blog. You now have a clear roadmap and can start rockin’ in cyberspace.
Blogging is an exciting journey, and while there will be ups and downs as with any path worth taking, if you keep at it and keep improving your skills, the sky will be the limit.
If you feel a little overwhelmed from time to time, just go slowly, step by step, maybe 30 min per day, and within a short time you will be amazed at what you have achieved.
Steady does it, and if you are passionate about all the wonderful things you have to share with the world, a brief technical learning curve will not stop you!
Once the technical set up of your blog is completed, this book will show you how to attract an audience and monetize to your blog. It’s the next book in the blogging series:
I wish you all the best and much success on this new adventure. Don’t forget to have fun along the way! You will grow your audience a lot faster if you enjoy what you do..;-)
And please send me a link to your new blog once it’s up and running – I can’t wait to see what you have created!
Wishing you all the very best – always!
PS: If you haven’t claimed your FREE Bonus, you can still do it here
Before you go, I’d like to thank you for purchasing my book.
I know you had many guides to choose from, but you took a chance on mine. You rock…;-)
If you found the information helpful and think others might benefit as well, it would be awesome if you could take a brief moment and[* leave a review on Amazon.*]
This feedback will help me to keep writing guide books that help you get results. And if you loved it, then please let me know….;-)
Dankeschön & Auf Wiedersehen….
[*# 1 B E S T S E L L I N G *]
S U C C E S S F U L B L O G S E R I E S:
YOU STARTED YOUR BLOG
6 STEPs to:
Growing an Audience,
Writing Viral Blog Posts
& Monetizing your Blog
[*THE SASSY WAY TO *]
RANKING #1 IN GOOGLE
[*WHEN YOU HAVE *]
A Beginner’s Guide to
Search Engine Optimization
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
CRUSH IT WITH:
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Explore the “real” Bali…
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More Zen Traveller guides following soon:
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#1 Amazon Bestseller
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How I left an international music career,
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And began exploring the most amazing places on earth
[_ - for less than $50 a day - _]
…..and how YOU can do it, too!
[_Covers everything from: _]
- FREE flights & accommodation to
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If you want to see the world without spending a fortune – [_or _]- are looking for long term location independence, this book will get you started!
Gundi Gabrielle is a 5-time #1 Bestselling Author, Internet Entrepreneur and Digital Nomad.
As a former Carnegie Hall conductor and Concert Organist, she decided 3 years ago to make a bold change in her life, packed up a few belongings and drove all the way from Santa Monica, California, to Alaska. She has been traveling ever since and loves exploring this beautiful world without being tied to one place.
She has road tripped through all 50 US States and parts of Canada, lived in several European countries for a number of years and visited most of Europe, as well South America, Southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand and many countries in South East Asia and the Middle East.
She runs the Travel Lifestyle Blog SassyZenGirl, writes travel and blogging books and often house or farm sits along her travels, nurturing her love for animals and solitude.
She has no plans of settling down anytime soon….
SassyZenGirl TRAVEL BLOG
SassyZenGirl on FACEBOOK
SassyZenGirl on INSTAGRAM
SassyZenGirl on YOUTUBE
LuxuryPetCompanion HOUSE & PET SITTING
[_InMotion Hosting _]
Name finding Tools:
Domain Name Registrars:
FREE Report: How to pick a marketable Domain Name that will rank well and create a real buzz in the blogosphere
Thrive Content builder plugin
Plugins are best uploaded from within the WordPress admin area
5 Essential WordPress Plugins:
W3 Total Cache
WordPress SEO by Yoast
5 more Awesome Plugins:
Contact Form 7
Click to Tweet
New Bloggers – Start Here
How to set up a new Blog in 10 min.
How to make your Blog Posts go Viral
Black Book of Editor Emails for Huffington Post, Forbes etc
A Little known Trick for getting your Writing Featured on the Huffington Post
STEP-BY-STEP: A Proven, Easy-to-Follow System for Starting a Blog from Scratch. You have thought about starting a blog, but always put it off, because tech stuff really scares you? You often wondered how top bloggers actually make money? - and what training they had to become successful? Or you might be a freelancer / business owner trying to use the internet to spread the word about your products and services? This book will teach you how to start a cool blog the smart way - no prior experience is necessary - and you might even have fun along the way…. Building a Foundation for Success While some guides promise to get you started with a blog in under an hour - or even 5 minutes - the reality is quite different. Like with anything new there is a small learning curve and the occasional frustration. Sure, you can rush through it and quickly set something up - without any design or features. But that’s probably not a good success strategy. This book is not about starting a “quickie” blog, but about building a solid foundation for long term success. This includes advice from some of the most successful bloggers in the world, like the guys behind ProBlogger, CopyBlogger, Moz and BoostBlogTraffic who have generated a combined income of more than 50 Million Dollars through their blogs. A well-thought-out Strategy will get you there a lot faster Starting a successful blog is not just about learning the technical aspects. That is only the beginning - and even there your choices can make or break you, right from the start. We will cover the different aspects you need to consider for each of the 7 Steps described in this book, including choosing a marketable domain name, a good hosting company, mailing list services - and monetizing strategies. You will find that - with a few pointers - starting a successful blog is - by far - not as complicated as you might think. Though it will take more than just an hour…;-) Thanks to an amazing software called WordPress, it has become very easy to start and manage a blog without paying expensive designers or learning complex “code”. If you are comfy with MS Word, this will be a breeze… More importantly, it will soon become fun to design your own site and update it yourself. You might even help others to start their blog…. This book follows a proven 7-Step formula with numerous screenshots to illustrate each step. It will give you the tools to get started with your new blog in easy-to-understand language and provide you with a massive resource chapter for further training. Here is what you will learn: Step #1: Web Software - What is WordPress and why do most successful bloggers use it? Step #2: Hosting - Finding a good home base for your blog Step #3: Creating your Brand - Choosing and registering your domain name Step #4: WordPress Set up: - A first look at your site & features Step #5: Pick a Theme - Styling your site to awesomeness Step #6: Plugins, Mailing Lists & Google Analytics - Turning your blog into a performance ninja Step #7: Blogging & Marketing Training - Learning from the MASTERS Would You Like To Know More? Download now and start your blog today! Scroll to the top of the page and select the BUY button.