Blogging gives you the priceless opportunity to share your story to the world. To put it simply, you are creating an online diary of your personal life or business, promoting it as your creative portfolio, as well as encouraging your audience to do the same. It is, perhaps, one of the best outlets of free communication.
Before you start building up the visuals of your blog, you must lay out the foundation. Identify the WHY’s behind the creation of your future blog. One way for this is determining the niche of your blog.
Going down to specifics allows you to have less competition in search rankings. It also lessens the “clutter” on your site, and makes it easier for you to gather a following of frequent visitors that are looking for specific interests that are same as yours. While it is okay to blog about anything under the sun, narrowing your specialties to a few creative portfolio makes it more convenient for everyone.
We have three main “ingredients” in order to create a blog:
Web hosting services are like the landlords of the World Wide Web. They lease you a space for your blog or website or your virtual creative portfolio and just like a real estate contract, web hosting services offer you time-constrained “contracts”.
Ultimately, web hosting service enables your information to be distributed and available to the public through the Internet. A web hosting service allows you to have unlimited access for your site to be placed on the web.
2. Site Builder and Content Management System (CMS)
Site builders and CMS platforms are “construction” tools that let you build your own website, creative portfolio website or blog. The best example of this WordPress.
My blog https://theblogcreative.com/ is powered by WordPress.
However, there are some downsides with free blogging sites such as WordPress. Since it’s completely free, you technically do not have any ownership of your content. Your blog can also be shut down by the admin when your blog’s content is ever deemed inappropriate.
3. Domain Name
Domain name is the URL of your website that your visitors type in to get access.
- Your domain should be simple yet something that can capture attention so that your visitors will be able to remember it. However, stay away from words that are too fancy.
- If you can, use your personal name.
- Stick with using .com, .net, or .org.
DAY 1 : Getting a Web Host, Picking and Registering Your Domain Name, and Installing WordPress
For a web hosting service, I am recommending you to use SiteGround. SiteGround is also recommended by WordPress itself. Their services include everything that you will be needing in cultivating your virtual creative portfolio or a blog in the long run.
SiteGround have some notable pros for those who choose it as their web hosting service provider:
- Awesome Support. They offer 24/7 customer support for any issues that you will encounter. Their CSRs are highly responsive at the earliest time possible and monitors their customers’ comments and inquiries through various channels such as in the comment section, phone calls to their designated hotline, etc. Courtesy and also extensive knowledge of database solutions of their employees are also key points for SiteGround’s excellent customer service.
- Secure. A lot of our personal information goes into our blog and creative portfolios that’s why it is only crucial to entrust your safety to a reliable web host. Cybersecurity attacks are common and can happen to anyone no matter how small or big your online blog is so we’d rather not wait for the time of getting victimized before acquiring a good web host. Some notable security features of SiteGround are: their malware scans for your site, a regularly updated web application firewall, and their HTTP/2 technology for their servers.
- Fast. Speed is one of the top priority of any site owner. Let’s be honest that buffering sites drive us crazy! Every second count now and if we are faced with a loading screen for a measly three seconds, we’re out. That is why SiteGround always has the latest technology to back you up for speed problems. One of which is their own SuperCacher, that enables faster loading of your web content. They also have NGINX web server technology that speeds up the static content of your blog.
- Affordable. SiteGround offers three plans for their web hosting services:
Since we’re just starting out with a blog or a creative portfolio, the StartUp plan is the most sensible choice. It gives you just enough features to enjoy and integrate to your fresh blog. Some suggest though for the GrowBig plan when using for WordPress. This is also a good choice at a good price point if you have a little bit more money to throw (and it’s just a $2 dollar difference than the cheapest plan anyway). SiteGround lists down what you will get for each of these plans.
- Reliable. There are good reasons why SiteGround is suggested by WordPress. They have the most suitable features that every WordPress user needs as if it’s tailor-made for them. There are also countless of good reviews online for SiteGround averaging on 9 out of 10 star ratings. What we want for a web host is something that can continually cater to our blog’s needs as new updates are released in the market.
It’s easy enough to create an account with SiteGround and purchase a plan for web hosting. In their homepage, just click the ‘SIGN UP’ button.
Choose among the three plans and click ‘ORDER NOW’.
Select ‘Register a New Domain Name’ and enter your preferred domain. Remember the pointers when choosing a domain name. Click ‘Proceed’.
You will then be taken to final step where you have to fill out personal information as well as your payment details. You can see your total fee at the bottom. SiteGround also offers domain registration and some other extra services which you can just tick off. Click ‘Pay Now’ when done.
After that, you have to install WordPress through SiteGround. Log in to your SiteGround account and go to the Support section.
Select WordPress and fill out the information required and click ‘Submit’.
DAY 2: Configuring WordPress and Picking a WordPress Theme
When you finally finished installing WordPress, we can now start making some tweaks in it. In your WordPress Dashboard, go to the Settings tab and then General.
Make changes as according to your preferences for your creative blog. Note if the time zone is set correctly. If not, adjust it.
Click Save Changes when done.
We are now going to change our permalink structure. In the Dashboard, go to Settings then Permalink.
I have mine set on Day and name. For reasons of specificity, I would like my blog and creative portfolio visitors to easily track down my blog posts and images by the day they were posted.
Most people choose Post name instead because it enables a cleaner URL. However, since my blog’s niche is web design, an ever-changing industry that gets upgrades as time goes by, I want my readers to be able to view the most recent posts for their reference.
Next, go to Reading. Here, you will see options on what displays on your homepage, number of posts that appear, etc.
Make changes as according to your preferences. Don’t forget to click Save Changes at the bottom when done.
We will also be needing to delete WordPress themes or plugins that are no longer in use. This will help create space for customization because the more space consumed, the more the slow down the server.
To do that, go to Appearance then Themes.
I have actually minimized the clutter here before so it’s pretty empty right now except my active theme, a Divi child theme. I have two others but I’m keeping them here for now. My Divi theme is from Elegant Themes.
To delete inactive themes, simply click Theme Details then hit Delete at the bottom right corner.
For plugins, go to Plugins → Installed Plugins in the left sidebar of the Dashboard. Check off the ones you want to delete and then select Delete from the drop-down menu. Click Apply.
If you have deactivated plugins, delete them as well.
Bloom plugin takes care of my optin forms that appear on my sidebars, pop-ups, etc.
Since I cannot do a walk-through of all my plugins (as it will take time, also we might not be picking the same plugins for our site), I highly suggest you take time to explore the settings for all your plugins. Trial and error won’t hurt.
To add a plugin, go to Plugins in your Dashboard. Click Add New.
Go to the Popular section to see the most recommended ones.
Click Install Now for the plugin/s of your choice. When it’s done installing the plugin, an Activate button will appear for you to enable the plugin for your site.
For recommendations, install Yoast SEO which will allow you to add title tags, keywords, descriptions, etc. to each of the post you create. For social media sharing, I am using Monarch. Social media sharing plugins enable visitors to your site to instantly share your blog and blog posts and the creative portfolio into their personal social media accounts. It’s a perfect way to gain more traffic to your site.
We will now be installing a fresh new theme for your blog and make some customization. Go to Appearance then Themes.
Click Add New.
Browse among the themes available.
You can also do a live preview of your chosen theme. Just click the Preview button.
You can make further adjustments with them after you have installed it and activated it as your active theme. You can use the Custom Editor (pictured below) to adjust settings while seeing the changes live.
To go the Custom Editor, go to Appearance then Customize.
The Custom Editor looks like this:
You can just explore the various settings in the Custom Editor until you get the look you are aiming for.
But since it’s rare for themes inside WordPress to be of limited options, most people opt for premium themes from external sites. I am using Divi by Elegant Themes.
Installing Divi is discussed in my Website Makeover Course (The Visual and Vibes of Your Site, Looking for Potential Themes to Use). When you have already downloaded it and had it installed, you can go back to the Custom Editor to make changes.
DAY 3: Creating a Blog Post, About Page, and Contact Page
Creating a Blog Post
Finally, we can start on creating our very first blog post. Our blog posts are the backbone of our blog and one of the “main attractions” besides our products and portfolio. For this tutorial, we will be using the generic WordPress interface.
In your WordPress Dashboard, go to Posts and then All Posts. Just delete the default WordPress blog post title “Hello World!”. Go to Add New still under Posts.
This is how it looks like:
Add in the title for your blog post and the text on the corresponding blank sections. Formatting your text here is pretty self-explanatory. If you are familiar with MS Word or any other word software, you can easily use this.
For more formatting options, click the Toolbar Toggle button.
You can categorize this new blog post. The default category for new WordPress accounts is only ‘Uncategorized’ but since mine is all set up, I already have a bunch of categories made beforehand. you can set up posts for your creative portfolio as well.
We can now get to customizing our SEO for this specific blog post. Scroll down to the Yoast SEO plugin. You can see the changes you make to your keywords and meta description live, just as how it will appear on search engine results.
You can also a feature image, just repeat the steps on how we uploaded an image for the content earlier.
When you’re happy with your first blog post, just click Publish. For preview, click on View Post.
Your site’s About page is one of the first things that a visitor will check out on your blog or your creative portfolio. A lot of online entrepreneurs hire content writers to create a highly-enticing About page that can transform a mere visitor into a committed customer.
Here are some tips when writing an About page:
- Talk about the reason behind the creation of the blog/business blog/creative portfolio. A good way to start is telling a BRIEF story about yourself and/or your blog/business blog/creative portfolio. Here, try to paint a very imaginative picture for your site visitors so you can exactly capture their attention.
- Give empowering details. A good About page should only be encouraging. We want our visitors to frequent our blog from time to time and the key to that is capturing them once and for all, starting with your About page. People want something that they can relate to because that is what they will need.
- Use factual information only. Contrary to some recent instances, creating pure fictional accounts of your life can lead to devastating results. People love to scour the internet for who’s who and if you ever try fooling them just to gain some extra limelight, it may backfire on you. Being genuine goes a long way.
- Know your audience. People don’t want show-offs. They go for the ones who are providing useful service and inspiration to others. When creating an About page, make it seem like you are having a one-on-one chat with them. Put yourself in their shoes and think of what would they want to get to read on your About page and eventually, what would they get from being a frequent visitor/potential customer for your blog and creative portfolio.
From this point on, we will be using the Divi Builder to create the rest of our blog. Divi Builder just makes it easier for you to create the content of your blog through it simplified drag and drop functions that even novice bloggers can make use of.
The Divi Builder takes away the pain of manual customization and actually has ready-made templates that contain modules that you can assemble on your own.
Click Load Layout to see the ready-made themes and templates that Divi made. There are tons of choices so you will never not find anything that can fit your taste. Moreover, you have unlimited power to adjust the settings and make them more personalized.
Here you will see various layouts for different genres. In the search box, typed in ‘About’, so the layouts available for About pages show up.
They have preset ‘About Me’ and ‘About Us’ templates. Since this is a personal blog (you can always expand later, let’s say, when you hire a team to run this personal-turned-business blog), choose the ‘Simple About Me’ layout for now. Click Use This Layout.
You will then see that it has predetermined modules for this particular layout. However, you are given the option to remove (by clicking the ‘x’ button) and add modules (by clicking the ‘+’ button), rows, sections, etc. as you desire. This has special sections for the title (Fullwidth Header), the content (Text), and other elements that you can add in for your about page regarding your creative portfolio and the blog. I will not be discussing this in full-length as this will take time but the best route of learning with the Divi Builder is through exploration. The Divi Builder is a highly functional and powerful tool so it is best to make the best of it.
You should also make edits on your Yoast SEO plugin at the bottom to earn higher ranking in search engines. Remember, your About Page will be one of the most-visited pages in your site.
The changes you make do not save and go live on your blog unless you click the Publish button. If you want to see how it looks like before you save your changes, click Preview.
Your Contact Page lets your visitors reach out to you. If you are doing a personal blog, this might be optional but can always be added when your followers grow over time. If you’re going to do a business blog or a creative portfolio, then this is very important for you to continuously build your network. You will be putting in your contact information where your visitors can send you a message or call you about what you are offering on your blog and the creative portfolio . I would recommend that you have separate email, number, etc. for your blog purposes, especially if it’s a business blog or a creative portfolio. In that way, it will be easier for you to handle these messages and not have them mixed up with your personal ones. You can also put in here your social media accounts if you have any.
The process is the same as how we did the About page (and will all be the same whenever you create new pages).
Dashboard → Pages → Add New.
Divi Builder → Load Layout. You just search for Contact Page and choose one in the premade Contact Page layouts from Divi.
Click on your preferred Contact Page layout and hit Use This Layout. Make changes and you’re done! Your Contact Page do not necessarily need sentences. Your contact information and for what platform they are being used.
DAY 4: Having a Mailing List and Linking Between Your Blog Posts
Having a Mailing List
Having a mailing list allows you to keep track of all your subscribers and send them newsletters and updates regularly. Your blog and creative portfolio visitors are not guaranteed to visit all the time especially with the ever-growing population of bloggers. And if ever a visitor decides to subscribe, their name and email go directly to your mailing list. You will then be needing a mailing list provider.
I am using MailerLite. I am using it for my Freebie Library. And you will see that once again, I am advertising my products. It’s really a good way to “shove in” your products to your customers on any chance you have in order to get them to subscribe or purchase them.
MailerLite has tons of incredible features scoping from your mailing list, email marketing, etc.
They also competitive prices as well as a FREE subscription when you have 1,000 subscribers and below.
You just click the blue ‘Sign Up’ button at the upper left corner and enter your basic information:
Here is MailerLite’s getting started article to help their customers with setting up their account. What I love the most with MailerLite is that they give you the best services that you will be needing for having a strong and fully functional mailing list. They even have easy-to-follow video tutorials for the newbies that will help a ton for not-so-techie bloggers. You don’t have to hire a VA to do this for you because you can do this all by yourself with little time and effort.
Linking Between Your Blog Posts
Linking between your blog posts is a terrific way to drive more traffic to each of them. More often than not, your blog posts will be interrelated with each other and rather than rewrite similar sections or subtopics between two or more posts, you can just link them to the current blog post that you are writing, In that way, your visitors you will be obligating them to view the related blog post/s and thus upping the stats for the current post and the related post/s.
It’s easy enough to set up the links. If you are familiar with setting up hyperlinks in MS Word or Google Docs, this one goes the same for the WordPress editor.
Highlight the text referring to the related blog post.
Click the chain link logo in the menu bar.
Copy the URL of the blog post and paste it. Click the ↵ when done.
This technique is also a great way to showcase your readers that you have enough information about your niche and that they no longer need to go out and search for external resources.
DAY 5: Creating a Homepage and Having a Niche for Your Blog
Creating a Homepage
Your homepage or main page will be the front-runner of your blog so I cannot stress enough how dazzling it should be. It will be the first thing that your site visitors will see and this homepage should entice them to explore your site even more and eventually subscribe to you!
My homepage is filled with blurbs for various products and services that I am selling, links to my blog posts, and of course, optin forms. To put it plainly, your homepage should give your visitors a sneak peek of your blog.
Creating a homepage is done just as how we created our About page and Contact page earlier. You just search for a premade Homepage layout in the library.
But now, we will be utilizing Divi’s Theme Customizer that lets you make further changes and see them live as you make some tweaks.
In your WordPress Dashboard, go to Appearance then Customize.
This is what the Custom Editor looks like:
I discussed a little bit more of the Theme Customizer in Website Makeover Course (Customizing Your Website).
There is another extravagant feature of Divi — the Visual Builder. The Visual Builder lets you make changes on the site itself without the modules of the generic Divi Builder and the sidebar menu of the Theme Customizer.
You just need the click the purple ‘Enable Visual Builder’ button at the top when doing a preview of your blog.
*See: Visual Builder from Website Makeover Course.
Having a Niche for Your Blog
When you are just starting out, you might want to start with one single niche. A niche is a specialized section (usually in the marketing industry) that has a special focus on the mother topic and all its subtopics. For example, The Blog Creative is all about web designing and the business that can sprout from that specific niche. Having a niche enables you to have a strong, close-knit, and a large number of following that falls in line with your specialty.
Your subscribers can also easily identify you and say “Hey! It’s that person who is really good with [insert your niche]!” They will be able to recognize you better as a master of your craft.
One technique to create an air of credibility for your blog is providing testimonials. Testimonials serve as great tools to encourage your followers not only to subscribe but also to buy your services and products. I gather as many testimonials as well as I can get from my customers from various social media platforms and the ones sent to me personally as they would be a big help for my blog and business to thrive.
Remember to advertise your services and products as much as you can. Let them know your latest releases and keep yourself updated as well with the best and freshest services you can offer just as how my Pinterest Branding Pins service is up right now (see what I did there?).
I chose a few of the testimonials I have received from my previous customers and posted them on my blog so I can show “supporting proof” of my skills for my would-be customers.
DAY 6: Creating a Newsletter Form
Your Newsletter Form is a mini section that allows visitors to enter their name and email to subscribe to your mailing list. They are famously dubbed as call-to-actions. By subscribing to your mailing list, they receive newsletters from your blog about new posts or updates which will then push them to revisit your site from time to time. Newsletter Forms can come in many different styles like static ones found in your sidebar or pop-up ones that appear whenever someone views a page or a post. The technique here is to have as much optin forms appearing on your site so you can relentlessly encourage your visitor to finally give in and subscribe.
I am using a plugin for all my optin forms — Bloom. You just download the plugin and activate it just as we discussed here.
In your WordPress Dashboard, look for the Bloom in the menu sidebar.
Click Optin Forms then New Optin.
Select the type of optin you want to create. For now, let’s create a ‘Widget’ optin which is a static optin placed at the sidebar. Note that we can create as many forms of optins throughout our blog so we can encourage our visitors to subscribe. Our other optins can be pop-up ones that appears only when someone views a blog post or a page on your blog and can easily close the pop-up whenever they want to. That way, the blog wouldn’t be too crowded with optin forms. I have all sorts of optin forms scattered on my blog.
It’s time to make some edits! First, create a name for your optin form. This name will not be appearing on the actual optin form but just for you to label it and have it distinguished from all you future optin forms. Also, select your mail provider.
Click the gray button ‘Next: Design Your Optin’.
Bloom has ready-made templates which you can customize according to your preference. Click one template and scroll down and click ‘Next: Customize’.
Here, you will be filling in the information on the text that will appear in your Subscribe optin form and also, edit the appearance. You can preview your optin form by clicking the blue Preview button or the one with eye logo. When done, click ‘Next: Success Action’.
In the Success Action section, you can choose either a success message will appear or the visitor will be redirected to a URL when they subscribe. A simple “Congratulations! You are now subscribed to [insert blog name]” will do.
Click Save & Exit.
Your mailing list provider will do the job of distributing the newsletters regularly and now the job left for you is to create helpful and interesting content that will draw your subscribers to check out your blog whenever you newsletter notify them of new posts and updates. Remember that the reason they subscribed is the fact they loved a blog post or any content on your blog and they are expecting the same or even better quality content from you.
Day 7: Social Media Share Plugins and Redirect Links
Having social media share buttons on your blog lets your visitors share your posts or any of your shareable content to their own social media accounts and hopefully, let their own followers know of your blog which can bring in more traffic.
I am using Monarch for the social media share buttons on my blog. Just install and activate the plugin just as we discussed. See Website Makeover Course (Plugins and Footer, Monarch Social Media Share Plugin).
See how many external links I used in this particular blog post? That is what you call the art of redirecting links. I am endorsing those sites (SiteGround, MailerLite, Elegant Themes) because I know how helpful they can be with creating a blog. The Blog Creative owes a huge thanks to them!
And as a display of gratitude, we can do affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is a business referring other business for their services that the former acquired from the latter. This way, it is a win-win situation for both as they are earning customers and money from the connecting traffic they gain from each other.
I am using Pretty Links plugin to manage my redirect links. After you have installed and activated the Pretty Links plugin, it will appear on your Dashboard.
Click Add New Link.
Type in the Target URL (e.g. https://www.siteground.com/)
Type in the name of the site (e.g. Siteground) next to your blog’s URL in the Pretty Link section.
You can put in a title for the particular Pretty Link.
Now, whenever you mention a particular resource site included in your Pretty Links, instead of linking the site’s actual URL, you can instead put in the Pretty Link you have for that site.
With Pretty Link, you can track of every click and redirects to a particular Pretty Link that you created.
And there you have it! Within a week, you can set up a blog and the basic elements that you will be needing for it to skyrocket. Of course, you can always work more than a week in setting it up. Just know that what’s important is that you will be including your best facets into the content because passion fuels it harder more than anything else.