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This is a good time for us to discuss how you go about creating your top blog. We just discussed the importance of creating something that is every bit as professional as your inspiration for your logo. Now it’s time to take the same approach to creating your own website.
Again: it needs to look just as good as the best in your niche. Cut no corners and don’t accept anything that anyone could consider to be unprofessional or amateur.
Okay, so I’m not going to go into massive detail here about how to create a blog. It’s really very easy to get detailed instructions on how to do things like signing up for a hosting account and setting up WordPress, so you don’t need me to go over it in-depth here.
What I will say though, is that you do need a hosting account – probably with a service like BlueHost – and you will probably want to use WordPress to create your site.
WordPress is a site builder and ‘content management system’ that will allow you to create new posts as easily as clicking ‘post’ and manage existing posts just as easily.
What’s more, is that you can completely change the look and feel of WordPress by installing new plugins and themes and there’s a huge, thriving community filled with people who will help you to get to grips with it, answer any questions you have and build entirely new tools to help you out.
This will be particularly important for us later on, because we’re going to be using a lot of plugins in order to help us promote our site and grow it faster.
WordPress now powers a third of the web and is used in some of the biggest and most successful sites on the web – such as the BBC, Forbes, Mashable, Android Authority, The Four Hour Blog, Smart Passive Income and many others. In other words, it is a tried and tested commodity which removes a lot of the guesswork.
We know that WordPress sites can be highly successful and so when you use WordPress, you can rest assured that it’s not the design or the code of the site that is holding you back.
If you’re not successful yet, then you need to concentrate on other aspects of your business rather than worrying about the way the site has been built.
WordPress is also completely free and very easy to install. Through BlueHost’s cPanel, you can actually install WordPress with a single click.
This will make life much easier for you, so don’t consider using any other strategy – it will ultimately waste your time and create more opportunity for things to go wrong.
Once you have WordPress installed, the next step is to choose a theme. The great thing about WordPress as mentioned is that you can install new themes very quickly.
You can browse for themes through WordPress’ own tool but I don’t recommend using any of these – most of them are not terribly well designed and what’s more is that they will be used on so many websites that yours won’t be unique!
So instead, head over to a site like Theme Forest and be prepared to pay a bit for a professional looking theme.
This isn’t going to be astronomical (we’re talking in the realm of $30) but as we’ve already seen, a professional site is an absolute must if you want others to take your site seriously and get excited about it.
Make sure to check the previews and pick something that is responsive (meaning it adapts to the shape and size of the screen looking at it), that is crisp and uses high definition images and that is relatively minimalist and not too overcrowded so that it looks busy or complicated.
Better yet is to pay a professional design company to build you a theme from scratch, but if you want to hold off you can wait until your site has picked up some momentum before you go about doing this.
Finally, you want to customize the theme yourself. This will start by using your logo in the header and from there, you want to make sure that the colors of the rest of your site match that header.
You might also want to think about implementing a different background, moving widgets around, choosing whether you want to add or keep the slider etc.
Think about the type of content you’re going to be writing and whether the layout will be conducive to that.
For instance, many themes are very image focussed and this is particularly true if you choose a theme that has a slider (meaning it will rotate through large, crisp images that come from your blog posts.
This is great if you have a good camera and if you like to make lots of high quality images for your articles – but if you don’t have the means of making or acquiring said images then it can actually be a bad thing!
So make sure that you only feature images heavily if you have the ways and means to make them!
Now your blog is up and running, you can enhance its capabilities with some plugins. These are small programs that will add features to your site or to the control panel behind the scenes, thereby giving you more control over your content.
There are some plugins that are essential and others that can help a great deal when it comes to getting your site on the fast-track to success. Here are some that you should consider installing:
WordPress SEO by Yoast
WordPress SEO from Yoast is your one-stop-shop for search optimization and makes the process very easy. It’s the one recommended by the most users and lets you control things like the title of the post as seen by spiders as well as checking your keyword density and more.
We’ll talk a little more about SEO in future but for now, this is a good start to get a little more love from Google.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache can speed up your website by using caching. This means that certain images and other elements won’t need to be loaded from scratch each time a visitor lands on your page. It’s a useful strategy and might help to reduce your bounce rate by appeasing impatient viewers.
LinkWithin will place related posts at the bottom of each of your articles that way giving your readers an easy way to find more of your content.
This is a great way to keep people on your site because they’ll want to keep on reading and won’t come to a ‘dead end’ after they finish the post they’re on.
One of the few downsides of WordPress is the way it can attract spam comments, which can in some cases make your life a constant process of deleting nonsense posts.
Akismet is the best plugin out there for reducing that spam count and can make every blogger and site owner’s life considerably easier as a result.
XML Sitemap is a great plugin that can help you to generate a sitemap for your blog with a single click. In turn this will help Google to index your site and any new posts so it’s definitely worth an install.
Jetpack is not just one plugin but actually several that all come from WordPress.com themselves. This includes site stats (for those without Analytics), email subscriptions, social networking tools and more. It comes pre-installed and it’s more than worth the couple of seconds of setup.
If you want to monetize your blog with AdSense but don’t want to get too fiddly with it, then AdSense Explosion is an ideal choice giving you just enough control while keeping things simple.
It has had a few problems, but the support is good enough to make it the go-to AdSense plugin for many a blogger. Again, we’ll talk about this more in future but for now, you can install this, add your own AdSense code if you have it and start profiting right away!
All in One Favicon
All in One Favicon is the simplest way to add a Favicon to your site – that being the small image that comes up next to the title in the browser. This will make your site look more professional and increase your brand awareness in moments.
While Jetpack gives you some webstats, they pale in comparison to the in-depth nature of Google Analytics that will really allow you to see how your site is performing and hone it to perfection. This plugin means your site will be Analytics ready with no hassle adding code to your pages manually.
If you go with a pre-made WordPress theme, you’re still going to want to edit it to make the design yours. Changing the typography is one important way to do this, and this plugin makes that simple.
Go back and look at those top blogs in your niche again that I told you to note down. You’ll notice that all of them have a very nice, crisp font that is easy to read. That’s important because it’s going to make people want to spend time on those sites!
Styles allows you to easily change many more aspects of your WordPress theme right from the WordPress Customizer.
Disqus is the best comments system for many reasons and will improve the look of your comments section as well as making it incredibly easy for users to post and for you to manage. This also creates a new way for people to discover your site – through the Disqus community itself.
Optimize Database will help to keep your database clean, thereby keeping your site sprightly and avoiding errors.
Woo Commerce is one of the best and easiest ways for businesses to sell products directly from their site and thus monetize their blog. More on this later again. The plugin is free, but payment gateway extensions will cost you a little ($25-$75).
Formerly known as ‘Better WP Security’, this is a plugin that provides numerous ways to further improve the security of your blog – an important consideration for any business.
Bottom of Every Post
This is a plugin that allows you to add a section of code at the bottom of every post. Pretty simple! It’s great because it’s going to let us add our opt-in form later on, the way that people sign up to our mailing list.
This is one of several plugins that will allow your visitors to quickly and easily share your content on their social media pages. It’s a quick way to get more likes on Facebook and Tweets on Twitter, which in turn brings more visitors to your site.
Instagram Widget by WPZOOM
This is going to place a feed with your Instagram pictures right into a widget, ideally on your homepage. This will allow people to see that you are active on Instagram and get a taste for the kind of content you share.
That means more followers and it means your site will look much more active and interesting.
Twiget Twitter Widget
In a similar vein, Twiget allows you to show your Twitter feed. This is great because it means people can see that you are active on social media and get a taste for the kind of content you create. In turn, that will mean that you can gain a lot more followers on there a lot more quickly!
YouTube Channel from Aleksandar Urosevic is a very powerful tool that will embed your YouTube videos into your sidebar – either your latest video or a random one. In a moment we’re going to discuss in depth why YouTube is such an important part of your business plan!
Choose The Right Platform
Find The Perfect Domain name
Choosing The Right Hosting is Very Important
Always Keep Regular Backups
Setup Google Analytics from Day 1
Setup a Professional Branded Email Address
Start Building an Email List Right Away
Setup Unique Contact Forms for Each Use Case
Pay Attention to Image Copyrights and Licenses
Onsite SEO Optimization is Important for Growth
Keyword Research is VERY Important
Catchy Headlines are important for Social and SEO
Repurposing Content is a Secret Weapon for Expert Bloggers
Videos are a Great Way to Boost Engagement and Stand Out from the Crowd
You can Re-share Old Posts to Boost Traffic
Diversify Your Income Stream
Consistency is Key
Streamline a Flow for Storing Your Blog Post Ideas
Setup a Place to Manage All Your Passwords
Connect Multiple Emails with Your Gravatar
Comment on Other Blogs and Networks to Grow Your Brand
About Page and Start Here Pages Are Very Important
Social Media is Important But Always Remember It’s Rented Land
Start Building Brand Recognition
Leverage Social Proof When You Can
Website Speed is Very Important
Content Upgrades and Exit Popups are Magic
Ignore Haters and Turn-off Distractions
Don’t Obsess Over Perfection
Always Use the Best Tools to Get Ahead
1. Get Organized or Go Broke! (Free Downloads)
2. Invest More in Your Blog (3 Investments to Consider)
3. Understand That Blogging is an A to Z Thing
4. Collect More Emails, NOW!
5. Facts Tell and Stories SELL
6. Don’t Pretend to Be the Expert. Become the Expert.
7. Keep Your Blog Design Clean and Professional
8. Traffic > Monetization – in the Beginning
9. Master ONE Source of Traffic Before Moving on to Another
10. Add These Free Blogging Tools to Your Arsenal (1 Hour)
11. Stop Fearing Failure and Learn to Embrace It
12. Make Sure Your Blog is Mobile-Friendly
13. Successful Blogger = Successful Marketer
14. Focus on Selling High-Priced Products
15. Create a Serious ‘About Me’ Page
16. Your Blog Isn’t About You (80/20 Rule)
17. Shut Up and Blog Already!