One of the best ways to get attention in the online world is to create a stunning blog. Preferably a WordPress blog, because they’re cheap and easy to create and probably 94% of the websites in the world are built in WordPress, so that is going to get more attention from Google than a Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.com site.
PS: There is some confusion between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, which I think is deliberate. WordPress.com is a cheap knock-off version where you have little control over how your site looks and probably less reach with Google. WordPress.org is the one you want – especially if you want to monetize. You own your content fully, and since it is the most popular, there are tons of tools to customize your site however you wish. It does have a bit of a learning curve, but not as much as it used to.
See my helpful post on choosing a blogging platform.
Just a plug in case you are a techno-phobe. I’m happy to build a site for you if you don’t want to mess with all the tech stuff of getting a site up and running. I specialize in building simple, quick, and affordable WordPress websites, and I usually can get one up and running within about a week. Contact me if you’d like a quote.
Get Your Name and Hosting Set Up
I hear a lot of buzz about the cost of setting up a blog, but really, it doesn’t have to be that expensive. I’ve started up lots of blogs (I run 3 sites myself and I’ve built a bunch for clients!) and it takes 3 basic things and costs about $150 bucks. That’s not bad for a website that can be active for years and that you can monetize if you wish. And I hope you do – blogs are a lot of work, but they can be quite profitable.
- Site name/domain name. This costs less than $15 bucks per year. My only advice in this area, is NOT to go with GoDaddy. I bought my first site with them and they are a nightmare to deal with. I prefer to combine my hosting and my domain name together so you are only dealing with one company for your annual renewals.
- Hosting. This is sort of like picking a cell phone provider. Some are great and some suck. BlueHost is BAD. I don’t care who you use, but do NOT use them. People will push you to use them because they pay an outrageous commission, but they have a very bad reputation. Siteground is my hero. I love them and I’ve used them for many years on ALL of my sites. Why? Their customer service is legendary. I can get a live person within 5 minutes every time! That’s like Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket right there. Cost – less than $50 for your first year. Use my affiliate link – Siteground and I’ll set up your security and plugins for FREE! Just Email me.
- Legal Pages. You are required by law to have certain legal policies on your site. When you are dealing with legal issues and/or lawyers, that is not the time to go cheap or copy some knockoff from your cousin. Bloggers do get sued on occasion. I use Amira Law for all my legal pages and contracts. Cost: About $100 for the basic package and again, if you use my link, I’ll set up the pages for you on your site for FREE. Just Email me.
So, there you go. You have spent around $150 and you are ready to start your life with a successful blog.
PS: Siteground offers a free blog transfer if you have a site on an existing platform, free SSL, free 30 day backups (very important if your site crashes) and free security monitoring. That’s a lot more than most blog hosts offer.
How to Create a Stunning Blog
Now that you’ve gotten the basics out of the way, it’s time to create a stunning blog site that you will want to show off to your friends. So, there are a couple of tasks here to create your WordPress blog, but they’re fun ones!
Pick your Theme Colors
Take your time with this and choose CAREFULLY. You will be seeing these colors for a very long time. Go to Pinterest and search on blog color themes or mood boards for tons of choices. I suggest 2-3 main colors plus 1 neutral like black, white, or beige.
Really look at how each color pairs with the other colors. My colors for this site are gold, burgundy, a mid-range blue, and black. Gold and burgundy – great. Burgundy and blue – great. Blue and gold – great. No divas in the group, everybody gets along. My other site – Navy blue and gold with pops of black or white. My lifestyle site – I keep changing my mind, but right now it’s 3 shades of teal with white.
Once you have your colors set then you can start choosing your logo.
Create your Logo
Good news is that creating a logo can be free or very inexpensive. But it’s an important part of your branding, so you want to nail it on the very first try.
If you’ve got some design chops, you can use tools like Canva to create your logo for free. But there are a lot of things to consider with a logo. It has to be very clear. Someone should be able to sell in 2 seconds exactly what your blog is about. It should work in a variety of sizes – small to large. A very complex logo with lots of swirls and curlicues isn’t going to work if you scrunch it down to fit in the corner of a Pinterest pin or other graphic.
If you incorporate colors into your logo, how are you going to add it to graphics with color? Will you need to put a white box beneath it to make it show properly? That’s great if your logo is a distinct shape, like a circle, square or rectangle, but what if it’s long and skinny? I’m just saying, you need to take these things into consideration before you just pick a pretty design because you like it.
I have a guy on Fiverr who creates my logos for me. We do them in black and white, usually a circle or a square, and we work on adding just the right amount of detail to them. Costs me about $15 and it’s well worth it, because my design chops are great, but I tend to fall in love with impractical designs and try to make them work. On Fiverr, he has lots of examples I can use as a starting point and then doctor them up.
Now that you have your name, host, colors, and logo, it’s time to start with the stunning part of how to create a stunning blog design – the theme.
Choosing a Blog Theme
Your theme is important. It’s literally the engine that runs your blog and controls how things are going to look. It defines where the headers go, where you can add colors, embeds decorative elements, and sets up how your home page and content will look.
However, your theme also has to keep your site secure and functioning properly and that’s where a lot of people go wrong. Any goober can create a pretty theme and throw it out there in the marketplace, but it might not be mobile-friendly (might not look good on a tablet or smartphone) and it might not have good security features. In the case of a theme, you want style, but you also need substance. I had a bad theme once and it was a nightmare trying to fix it up so it would work properly on mobile and not crash.
You also want one that is not a huge bloated memory hog that is going to slow your site down to a crawl and kill your ranking with Google. I’ll let you in on a secret – the theme for this site is AWFUL. It’s over-complicated and slow, but I’ve got a lot of custom coding on my main page and my sales page I’ve got to deal with before I can change to a different theme, so I’m kind of stuck with it for the time-being. It’s going to be a days-long project and I don’t really have the time to mess with it just now.
Also, there are literally THOUSANDS of themes out there so it’s super easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis. Let me help you out. Kadence WP theme is the one I recommend and it’s the one recommended by my tech guy. There’s also a WordPress plugin called Kadence Blocks that has lots of little templates you can plug into any Gutenberg site. It is:
- Lightweight and fast
- Easy to customize
- Mobile compatible
Putting it All Together
OK, now that you’ve got all the pieces to create a stunning blog site, it’s time to roll. It’s time to set up the theme, create a nice header image in your brand colors with your logo, and start setting up your blog. Don’t forget your legal pages too.
If you decide you need help, I’m here for you. Reach out if you’d like me to help you with any point in the process.
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