Hey beautiful mumma’s…
So if you read my post Is starting a blog right for you? and you’re here now, I take it you’re ready to learn more about how to start a blog and the tools you need to do it!
What you’ll learn today…
Within this very extensive post, I’ll share with you the most important parts of starting a blog, along with all the tools I use myself to get it up and running!
I’ve made it as simple as I can, because I know from personal experience how hard it can be when things are made complicated…
I don’t want to make it hard for you. I want to show you that it really is possible to start a blog & that it can be simple and easy to do.
By the end of this post, you should have a functioning blog set up and ready to go…
So let’s get into it lovely!
“This post does contain affiliate links throughout and if you make a purchase using one of my links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you”.
- What you’ll learn today…
- First things first… Picking a Niche & deciding what to blog about!
- Choosing a blog name!
- Getting a Domain Name!
- Blogging Platforms
- Getting Your Hosting Sorted!
- Installing WordPress
- Nameservers – what they are and what to do with them!
- SSL Certificates
- Setting up a Professional Domain name Email Address
- Logging in and getting into the backend of your WordPress dashboard…
- Choosing a Theme for your blog!
- General Settings
- Header and Navigation
- Homepage Settings
- Adding a Favicon!
- Create a Logo or Header
- Adding some Plugins (and not the air freshener kind)
- How to install the plugins and how you can find them!
- Anti-Spam by CleanTalk
- All in One WP Security & Firewall
- Coming Soon Page, Under Construction & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics (formerly GADWP)
- Social Sharing Buttons – Grow by Mediavine
- Shortlinks by Pretty Links – Best WordPress Link Tracking Plugin
- ShortPixel Image Optimizer
- Pin it Button on Image Hover And Post
- SG Optimizer
- Yoast SEO
- Connecting the Yoast SEO plugin to Google Search Console and adding a Sitemap
- Changing your Permalinks & Setting your Timezone!
- Creating the Important Pages
- Having a Plan & Setting Goals for your Blog
- Brainstorm blog post Ideas
- Deciding how often you want to post!
- Writing your first Blog post!
- Get yourself a Graphic’s Creator
- Make sure your blog posts are relevant to your niche
- Completing the Yoast SEO Plugin Info!
- Getting an Email Marketing Platform to start growing your Email List + Adding a ConvertKit form to your blog post!
- All the Styles – Header Styles, Subheader Styles, Field Styles, Button Styles, Guarantee Styles & Powered by Convertkit…
- Header Styles
- Subheader Styles
- Custom Field
- Field Styles
- Button Styles
- Guarantee Styles
- Powered by ConvertKit
- Adding your ConvertKit Opt-In Form to a Blog Post
- Adding an opt in form to your blog post using the “Email Opt-In” module from Divi
- How To Embed An Opt-In Form Using A Shortcode
- How To Create A Modal Opt-In Form Using ConvertKit
- Setting up any Social Media accounts and connecting them to your blog!
- All the Tools used within this post!
- Blog Launch Checklist!
- Launch Your Blog…
First things first… Picking a Niche & deciding what to blog about!
First of all, you need to know what you're going to start a blog in…
This step is called “picking a niche” & you can check out more information on this from the infographic below…
Deciding what to blog about and what topics you want to discuss, will create the structure for your whole blog!
The niche you pick will also fall into one of several blog types, which also plays a part in the decision making process (depending on what your vision & plan is for blogging in the first place).
The thing about blogging is, although you have free reign to write about whatever you want, you can't really talk about all kinds of different things on one blog…
Well you could, but it would be very confusing for your readers.
People visit blogs to get information on things they're interested in or they're browsing looking for answers to problems they have.
If they come across a blog which has answers to their question of “How do I maintain a healthy weight”, they're more than likely expecting the blog to be full of health, diet & fitness information.
For the same blog to then have information on fashion, parenting or gardening for example, would be completely confusing and would broaden your niche far too much, meaning you'd struggle to be found and rank in Google.
Picking a niche will be one of the biggest things you'll do when you start out…
You need to pick a niche which is:
- Popular enough that people are searching for it all the time.
- One which has the potential to make money with products & services you can provide (whether they be yours or other people's (this is known as affiliate products).
- A topic which is broad enough that you'll have plenty to talk about, but not too broad that you'll be hidden among all the internet noise.
- A niche where people are already spending money.
Choosing a blog name!
So after deciding what to actually blog about, it's time to look at choosing a blog name…
Choosing a name is really important as it reflects what your blog and brand is all about, however, when choosing one, don't take forever to do it!
Take a day or two to brainstorm some ideas and see what kinds of words go together, sound good together and feels good to you.
Take a look at other blogs in your niche and see what kinds of names they have – for inspiration.
Once you've come up with some ideas – ask family and friends what they think of the name you've come up with, or see if they have any ideas too!
You want to be unique and stand out!
I know we all want the perfect blog name, but seriously, do not waste a ton of time on this.
Your blog name needs to:
- Resonate with what you're talking about.
- Show off you, your brand and what your blog is about.
- Be short, punchy and catchy.
- Simple and easy to remember.
- Is something which you like.
- Reflects who your blog is for.
Getting a Domain Name!
Once you've decided on a blog name, it's time to get a domain name.
A domain name is your online address and it needs to reflect your brand and what your blog stands for.
It should match your blog name as well!
So for me, my brand and blog name is bloggingformums and therefore the domain name I chose, was bloggingformums.com.
My blog is all about teaching other mums like me how to start their own blog – so my domain name reflects that and my brand.
When choosing a domain name, try and think like a visitor to your blog.
When you visit a blog, what kinds of names stand out to you?
How accurately do they represent that company's brand?
It's good to look at other blogs to get an idea and a feel for what other people do.
It can really help you decide on the things you like and don't like for your own blog!
You also want to think about these few things when getting a domain name:
- Try and get the .com version of the domain, because most people tend to assume and type a .com into their browser when searching. It's also the most popular version to have.
- Use your keywords so that people know instantly what your blog is about.
- Keep it short, as URL's which are too long won't be remembered and will take too long for people to type (they'll get fed up & leave).
- Don't use hyphens.
- Avoid using numbers.
- Check Social Media platforms that you are going to be using to see whether your potential blog & brand name is available there too. You want to be consistent across all areas, so people know who you are… You'll be spreading brand awareness.
- DO NOT copy other websites names or any names relating to Trademarks. YOU WILL get into trouble.
- Don't pick a domain which is too “limiting”. As in, if you have a domain name which is something like icecreamdesserts.com, for example – you'll only ever be able to talk about desserts with ice cream and that could really limit the content you can produce and share.
Always remember that your domain is the first thing people see, it's the very first impression you get to make on potential readers – so really think about it!
If you get stuck with picking a blog and domain name, don't panic – you can always use your own name as well…
You are able to change it in the future if you need to, but know that it is tricky to do and people tend to get to know you from the off, so changing your brand/blog/domain name later down the line, could affect all that you've built!
Where to get your domain name from…
I get my domain names from Namecheap – a great website for some of the cheapest domain names out there…
It's so simple to use.
First of all, you need to sign up for an account.
I won't go through this as I'm pretty sure you've signed up for many accounts before and know how to do this… I have however put a couple of screenshots below to show you what the site looks like and where the sign up button is)
Once you've signed up, you just enter the name which you'd like to use as your blog domain (the one you've chosen after brainstorming & researching as previously explained in the post).
(I've just used tastyfoodforkids as an example)
Then simply click on the red button with the magnifying glass and see what comes up…
I love how at the time of writing this post, it was Christmas time and they had a cute little gingerbread man on their homepage!
I always love stuff like that (I'm easily pleased)…
Purchasing your domain name…
Once you've typed your desired domain name in and clicked search, it will come up just like in the image below.
If the .com is available, it will come up with a green tick next to it and an “add to cart” button.
Of course, you don't have to go with the .com.
There are many alternatives and it depends what's available, where you live and whether you prefer to use something else which is more fitting to you and your brand.
Once you've purchased the domain name, this part is done for now and you can move onto the next step!
Now you've purchased a domain name, let's talk about blogging platforms and what they are and do!
A blogging platform is basically a service used to publish your content on the internet.
If you want to blog, you have to have a platform in order to do so and we're going to look into this in more detail now!
Choosing a Blogging platform!
There are quite a few platforms out there, but I'm going to concentrate on just the one.
It's the one I use and know about and I always want to share and teach you things which I use myself!
There are two versions of the platform I use.
It can be very confusing as they're called the same, but the URL ends differently.
WordPress.org is the one we are going to be using.
But before we get stuck in, below is a brief outline of how they are different.
WordPress.com is a great option for people who just want to sign up and start publishing content, however, you never own your blog and you'll always have the “wordpress.com” URL tagged onto the end of your blog name.
This can make you look unprofessional as a blogger and give the impression you aren't serious because you haven't invested in yourself.
(I always say that if you're serious about blogging, you have to invest in it as there are going to be some costs involved)
WordPress.org is where your blog is self-hosted.
This means you have full access and can customize everything within your site. (this is the one I use)
It has a super simple dashboard (the back end of your blog where you'll be putting everything together) and it has hundreds of different plugins you can use within it, which help your blog function more efficiently (don't worry, I'll be talking about plugins later).
WordPress.org is used by over 60 million blog and website owners online.
It's versatile, easy to customize and is brilliant for both beginner and seasoned bloggers!
When you self-host, you have your own domain name which you have purchased (like we talked about earlier on in this post) and can pretty much do anything you want to make your blog look and feel exactly how you want it to.
Using WordPress.org means you have complete control over the design and what you can create.
You want to be using this version, as you want to have full control over what you do with your blog!
I will only be showing you how to set your blog up with WordPress.org as this is the only one I've used.
Before we get into the WordPress installation stage however, there's one other step we need to do first!
It's getting you some hosting!
Getting Your Hosting Sorted!
Next up is the hosting company!
The hosting company provides services and technologies, so that blogs and websites can be viewed on the internet.
They do this by using special servers to host them.
Hosting is a necessity for any site, because without it, there'd be no blogs and websites online.
As always, there are many companies which can provide hosting, however, the one I'm going to show you is the one I personally use – Siteground.
They are absolutely amazing…
I've used a few hosting companies in my time, but Siteground are by far the best!
They have unbelievable customer support and will help you with anything.
I've messed up so many things on my blog and didn't have a clue how to sort it out and they've always got me out of it & had me back up & running within a few hours, if not sooner.
They also have a live chat feature, which quite frankly, I couldn't live without sometimes.
If I have a problem, I can hop on there and someone will be there to help within minutes.
This is a great option to have when you want to get back on track & blogging again fast!
It's not the cheapest of hosting companies out there – but it is by far the best and most reliable I've used.
I'd rather pay a bit more for a service and know it's going to help me when I need it most.
If you head over to Siteground, you'll need to sign up for an account.
Again, I'm not going to run through this, but you just click on the “Hosting” tab as per the image below to get started…
You can then choose the “WordPress Hosting” tab to continue…
Siteground have 3 plans available:
I use the GrowBig plan, as I have a number of websites I host with them, but when you're just starting out, you can use the cheapest option for just one website – the StartUp plan.
As you grow and add more sites, or go over what this plan allows, your hosting plan can grow with you… so you'll never have to worry about it not being right for your needs!
Next up, just click on the “Get Plan” button to get started…
Once you go onto the next screen, you'll need the domain name, which you have purchased from Namecheap.
This is the blog name and domain you've chosen, as per the previous steps in this post!
You'll see from the screenshot below, you now need to click on the “I already have a domain” and enter your purchased Namecheap domain name and click proceed…
Then you just complete all your details and payment information and click the “Pay Now” button at the bottom of the screen.
There are some additional options you can choose if you wish to add them, but they aren't necessary for now.
A Siteground account has now been created for you and you're able to log in with the email address & password you created when signing up.
Once you've logged in to your account – Siteground looks like the screenshot below.
You can see all the different tabs, making it easy to navigate around your account.
The “Websites” tab is where you should be able to see the new domain name you've added to the account.
Here is where you access the website's cPanel – the control panel for your whole blog!
We look at this in more detail later on in the post.
The “Services” tab is where you can see your account type (my plan type says GrowBig, as that's the hosting plan I'm on – yours will say StartUp…)
You can see on the screenshot below that it shows the domain name for the account (mine shows as bloggingformums.com but yours will eventually show your domain name here).
Your domain might not show up here yet, as we haven't installed WordPress as of yet, but it will show here once that has been done.
Woohoo, you're doing fab my lovely…
I know it's a lot to do and take in, but you only have to do this once when you set your blog up!
It's a one time thang…
So let' go ahead and actually install WordPress onto your blog.
WordPress is pretty simple to install and the following part of this post will show you exactly how to get it installed onto your blog domain…
First things first, click on the “WordPress/Joomla Toolkit” tab as per the screenshot below:
Once you’ve clicked on it, you end up going to what’s called the “Cpanel”.
This is the control panel for your blog and is where you manage all your web hosting accounts!
The screenshot below is my bloggingformums.com Cpanel.
You can see how many icons there are for different things to manage my blog.
It looks complicated, but you won’t use half of these things (at least not in the beginning anyway).
Next up – Scroll down to the icon “Wordpress” (it’s situated within the Autoinstallers section) and click on it.
You will then come to a screen where you can actually install WordPress…
Click on the “Install Now” button.
Make sure that your domain name is showing in the “Choose Installation URL” and add a Site Name and Site Description that resonate with your blog (this is just for your reference).
The “Admin Account” section is REALLY important!
This is where you need to make a note of the Admin Username and Admin Password.
You can change this to something you want or you can just leave it as the one showing.
It's entirely up to you – just make sure you write it down as you're going to need it soon!
Click “Install” and then it will load WordPress onto your domain.
You'll know it's working as it will have a “Checking the submitted data” percentage running.
Once it's done installing, you'll get a screen where it says “Congratulations, the software was installed successfully” and you'll be given the WordPress Admin link so that you can enter the backend of your blog.
Copy and paste this link into a Notepad document or a Word document etc, as we'll need it soon.
BUT… there's another thing we need to do first before we can log in to our WordPress Admin dashboard.
Something which I forget so often, and only realise I haven't done it when I get the screen saying the site can't be reached…
We need to change the Nameservers within our Namecheap account dashboard, so that both Siteground and Namecheap can work together to create our blog…
So let's look into Nameservers in more detail…
Nameservers – what they are and what to do with them!
A Nameserver is any server which has a DNS software installed on it.
The actual “Nameserver” part refers to the server which is owned by a web host (such as Siteground) which is used to manage domain names associated with their customers (such as you and I).
DNS stands for Domain Name System and is a database which converts a domain name into an IP address.
The domain name you type into your browser when you're looking for something, uses Nameservers to find the IP address.
That is all way too techie for my liking, but you don't need to look too much into any of this.
You just need a basic understanding of the terms used often when it comes to setting up your blog and to know roughly what it is these techie sounding things do…
We'll now look at exactly how to change the Nameservers when using Namecheap.
Start by logging into your account with them (which you would have created when you purchased your domain name) and then make sure you're on the “Dashboard”.
Then click the “Manage” button.
You'll then get this next screen where you need to find the Nameservers section and click on the drop down menu.
Click on “Custom DNS” as we're going to be entering custom Nameserver info in here.
There will be two Nameservers we need to complete:
- Nameserver 1
- Nameserver 2
Here we enter the Nameservers which are found on our Siteground Cpanel, under the “My Accounts” section.
Copy and paste Nameserver 1 in first and then copy and paste in Nameserver 2 and then click on the little blue tick button to Save them.
It will then save and a message will come up saying that it could take up to 48 hours for the updates to take effect.
Until this is complete, you'll have to wait as we can't move any further forward…
You'll know when it's complete as you should receive an email from Siteground to say your WordPress site is live, with the login link enclosed (just like the one below)
That's it for the WordPress installation…
Next up is installing the FREE SSL Certificate we need to have in order to make your blog secure.
But firstly, I've just given a bit of background (simply) to let you know what SSL Certificates are.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer.
An SSL Certificate is a secure protocol developed for information to be sent securely over the internet.
It does so by activating a small padlock and the “https” protocol.
Websites that have it show the small padlock in front of the domain name (just like my bloggingformums blog) below.
This allows secure connections from web servers to web browsers.
It does so by encrypting everything and ensures a private connection for both you and your site visitors.
If you click on the little padlock next to the domain name, this information below will come up…
This is on my site and shows the connection is secure and that I have a valid certificate.
Before I had installed the SSL Certificate, my site was not secure and I received the message in the screenshot below, stating that my connection was not private.
You don't need to worry about what all the ins and outs mean too much, it's just important to have this certificate installed on your site, so that it's secure.
I get freaked out by too much techie talk for sure!
The great thing about Siteground is, their hosting packages support the FREE Let's Encrypt SSL.
We're going to install this now and it only takes a few minutes.
Log in to your Siteground account and head over to the “My Accounts” tab at the top.
(You can see that the new domain has been added and yours should show on this screen too now!)
Click on the cPanel button so that we can access all the icons we saw earlier.
You then need to scroll almost to the bottom of the screen where you'll find the “Security” section.
You need to click on the “Let's Encrypt” button.
As you can see from the screenshot below, I have an active Let's Encrypt Certificate for my bloggingformums domain.
You need to scroll down as we need the section which says “Install new Let's Encrypt Certificate”.
Make sure your domain is showing here and that the button is on the “Let's Encrypt SSL”.
You'll then have a “Successfully Installed SSL” pop up appear.
You'll know it's done correctly when you see this!
Just click ok and you'll be back to the same screen as before.
Refresh the page and your domain will then show as having an active SSL Certificate.
And that's it – it really is fairly simple to get all this techie stuff done and dusted. (remember it only has to be done the once).
If you do get stuck though, Siteground also have a full tutorial on how to install the Certificate + you can always contact them on their live chat and they'll help you out there and then to get this setup!
Setting up a Professional Domain name Email Address
It's important to have a professional looking email address when you're blogging and I'm going to show you how to set this up now from your cPanel and link it to a Microsoft Outlook account.
Please don't worry though if you don't have an email client such as Microsoft Outlook, which I talk about in a minute.
You can create a blog email address using a gmail account or something similar, if this is all you have.
I have a gmail account as well for blogging for mums!
I'm not going to show you how to configure a gmail address to your cPanel though, BUT – Namecheap do have some instructions on how to do this here…
If you don't have Outlook, just follow the instructions for setting up the email address within cPanel only and then follow the above Namecheap tutorial!
Log in to your Cpanel, scroll down and select the “Mail” section and click on the “Email Accounts” tab.
Then you will come to this screen which you need to create a password and add your desired email address in.
It will automatically pull across your domain name into the “Email” box, but I recommend you change this.
You could change it to be your name, HR, Support etc – anything like that at the beginning (depending on what you want to use the email address for).
In my case, my email address would read as email@example.com because I am a solo blogger and I've used my first name at the front, to make it sound professional, yet friendly.
This sounds like a professional email address, which you can use for your readers.
You can see that I have two professional email addresses for my blog, in the screenshot above.
I have a regular named one and a support one.
You're able to create as many as you like here.
Click on the “Generate Password” button and copy and save the password that comes up.
You can then “Create Account”.
Once you've created the account, the new email address will show up and it now needs to be configured.
Click on the “More” button and a drop down menu will appear – click on “Configure Email Client”.
Another screen will appear with a lot of information on.
You'll need these details in the highlighted grey box as we're going to do a manual configuration.
This is all you need to do within the cPanel.
The actual configuration is done via an email client.
I use Microsoft Outlook and always have, so that is what I'm going to show you how to configure today.
Open Outlook and then click on “File” and “Add Account”.
Copy and paste in your new “professional” email address.
Click on the “Advanced options” and tick the box for setting the account up manually.
Choose the IMAP option…
Enter in the Server details (this is yourdomainemailaddress.com), Port details (this will be within that grey box) and Encryption method information, which is SSL/TLS and click “Next”.
Enter your password which you generated when creating the email address in cPanel and Connect.
You then need to wait while it configures and tada! It's done!
This will then add your email address to Outlook and a test email will come through.
That's it – all done…
Now we're ready to go ahead and log in to the WordPress dashboard.
Logging in and getting into the backend of your WordPress dashboard…
This dashboard is the place where you'll be working from all the time!
Here's where you need the Username and Password I asked you to note down earlier on in the post and the link that was in the email confirmation from Siteground.
Click on the link within the email or copy and paste it into your browser and then the screen below will appear.
You need to enter the login details into the sections as shown.
You'll then be logged in!
And here it is – the first glimpse into the WordPress dashboard…
You can see the menu on the left hand side, where you'll find everything you'll need to create your blog!
I don't want to go into everything in too much detail as it's all pretty easy to navigate and simple to use.
It's also really easy to know what's what!
I just want to give you a brief idea on what there is within the dashboard, so it's not so daunting!
Let's start by seeing whats on the menu on the left hand side.
This is where you will navigate around the whole dashboard:
- Home – this is where you can click to get back to the main home of your dashboard and you'll see a lot of information about plugins you'll have installed and statistics and activity that takes place.
- Updates – If you click on here, you'll be able to see whether your theme and plugins (we'll talk about these soon) require any updates.
- Posts – this is where you'll write all your blog posts from. You simply click on “Add New” to do this.
- Media – this is where all photos, videos, audio files etc will show that you add to your blog (there's nothing to see here at the moment)
- Comments – this is where comments will show from readers of your blog in time. You can choose not to have comments if you'd rather not, but I highly recommend keeping this as readers always like to voice their thoughts and opinions.
- Appearance – this is one of the big ones that holds all the areas to customize the look and feel of your blog. There's far too much to go into on this post, however, I will be talking a bit more about choosing a Theme later.
- Plugins – another big one which will be covered later on. This is where we upload plugins (pieces of software) to make our site better and more effective! On the screenshot below you can see one called “Hello Dolly”. This comes standard with all WordPress sites and isn't needed, so you can delete this.
- Users – this shows all the users who can access your dashboard. At the moment this will just show you and your username, but eventually you may hire people to work for you and make them admins etc on your dashboard, so their username details would show here too.
- Tools – there isn't a lot to show here, but you import and export files from here and it also has a site health check tab, which shows any recommendations WordPress may have for your blog. I have done a screenshot of my blog and it has made two recommendations for me to look at (I better do that lol).
The final section within the menu is the “Settings” tab.
This one also has a lot within it and controls the way your site functions, such as the URL, the date format, how you want to display your front page etc.
Just check out the different tabs and get a feel for what they do, as we will change some of these later on.
Thinking about Theme Colours…
Before jumping in and choosing a Theme, I wanted to briefly touch on colours for your blog…
Colours are important to think about.
They define the look and feel.
You want colours which are visually nice to look at and entice readers to check out your blog!
You want to pick some brand colours that go well together and match the theme of what your blog is going to be about.
For example: If you’re going to be blogging about relaxing techniques for people who are anxious and need to stay calm – you may want to look at colours like blue, pink and green, as these all represent quiet, calm and peace.
Doing a bit of research into colours and branding would really help you.
You want to choose colours which you like, as well as ones which show your blog off the best they can!
My brand colours consist of coral, navy, gold and pinks…
These are the exact colours below.
They go well together and make my blog feel really nice to look at and work on.
Check them out for some inspiration…
Choosing a Theme for your blog!
Now we're a bit familiar with the dashboard and where things are, it's time to get started with actually creating your blog!
And this starts with a Theme.
So what is a theme?
Well my lovely we're about to check this out…
A Theme is a selection of style sheets and templates used to make the look and feel of your whole blog…
It can be changed and customized to suit you and there are both free and paid themes available.
When you set your blog up, WordPress automatically comes with a few basic pre-installed ones.
However, there are many sites out there offering free and paid themes. Be careful and only download themes from reputable sites, as you don't always know what's in them and they could potentially harm your blog and computer.
I would only use sites recommended to you when starting out, and I'm going to talk about some very soon!
Things to think about before choosing a theme!
Before just diving in and picking a theme, let's have a look at some things to think about:
I've bullet pointed them to make it easier to read!
- What features do you want? What does your blog need? Do you need to be able to make lots of customization's? Do you need it to be Social Media friendly? What colours do you want on your blog? Make sure your theme has colour options if you want your blog to look colourful, or does it need to be more serious and practical? Visual appearance is important. Are you going to want to have a lot of images? These are all things to think about when choosing a theme and you need to make sure the theme you choose is right for you and your blog.
- Choose a Responsive theme! Make sure when you get your theme, that it’s responsive. This means you want it to look fab on Desktop computers, Laptops, iPad's and Mobile phones, without the look and feel being affected on each device. So many people are now on iPad's and phones these days that you HAVE to cater for this with your blog.
- Plugin friendly! Your theme needs to be compatible with plugins, as you’re going to be using a few to make your blog function properly. There's plugins for all kinds of things including spam control, social media, email marketing and more…
- Drag & Drop Page Builders! This basically means a plugin or theme, which has the ability for you to drag and drop things within your editor, when creating pages and posts. It makes life sooooooo much easier! I’ve literally found it a lifesaver for simple use and to make the layout of my blog look so much better. I use a theme called Divi, which includes the page builder, but if you have another theme, they do have the separate page builder plugin, which is one of the best out there (you just need to make sure whatever theme you have is compatible). The reason I use Divi for everything is because it’s simple, easy and has everything all in one place for me! I'll be talking more about Divi soon!
- Regular Updates! Choosing a Premium theme will make sure you always have regular updates carried out. Regular updates are important to keep the theme running smoothly, updated and to sort out any bugs. Free themes do offer support, but a lot of the time it’s quite limited. A company may offer both free and paid versions of themes, however read over what the differences are, as you’ll be getting less with the free version.
- Customer Support – always see whether there is customer support available. If anything goes wrong, you’ll want to be able to get in touch with someone about it. There's nothing worse than having a site down because of theme issues you can't fix! A blog which isn't working means your content isn't getting out there and money isn't being made.
So after looking into all these points, really research a good theme. Check out reviews and ratings of the theme from people who’ve actually used it and make sure it has everything you want and need.
Now we can look at what themes are out there and actually get one installed…
But before you do this – maybe have a break and have a cuppa as we've gone through so much up to this point and there's a lot to go still!
I don't know about you, but since becoming a mum, I can't concentrate as well as I used to. I get easily distracted and can go off on a tangent looking at stuff on the internet when I should be working – ooopppsss!!!
So if I feel like this, I have a coffee break to perk me up and give me time away from my computer screen…
Once you're all refreshed and raring to go again, head back to your dashboard home page, so we can continue setting your blog up!
Click on “change your theme completely”, from the home dashboard, so we can have a look at what themes are available for us to use and try out.
Here you'll find any pre-installed themes on your site.
If you click on the “Live Preview” buttons, you can see what they look like.
Have a play around and see what you like and don't like with the pre-installed themes.
These ones are completely FREE to use by the way as well.
Alongside these, there are some WordPress.org ones too.
If you click on this, a whole array of different themes come up. You can search through and see if any of them take your fancy and then you need to install and preview them.
These are also FREE themes…
Note: Don't have too many themes installed as it will slow things down. You can easily delete them, so maybe just have two or three at a time until you decide on one.
Once eventually decided, just have the one you are using and a default one as well.
I use a paid theme on my blog.
I have used free themes before, but I found them more problematic than not, because of the lack of support and regular updates required to keep an active blog going…
Using the Divi theme allows me to have so many more options and customization's.
I really cannot recommend Divi enough as it's so simple to use and I can do a ton with it.
If you can afford to get a premium theme, then I recommend going for it now, so that you don't have to change things over at a later date…
But… I'm very aware that when you're just starting out and you're a mummy and may not have a lot of spare cash (because it all goes on the kids right!!!), a FREE theme is ok to start with.
Talking of FREE themes, I want to let you know where you can get an awesome freebie from…
It's the super popular “Responsive” theme from Cyberchimps.
This is great for starting out as it has ready to use websites built in, is fully customizable, responsive and is compatible with a lot of popular, well used plugins.
Uploading your Theme!
Once you've chosen a theme, it needs to be uploaded…
I'm going to show you how to upload a theme to your dashboard now.
I'll be using the Divi theme for this tutorial as that's the one I use, however, the process is the same for any theme you upload.
Once you've downloaded the zip file from wherever you're getting the theme from, you need to upload it!
To do this, go to “Appearance” and click on “Themes” and you'll get a similar screen to the one below!
Click on “Add New”.
You can then click on “Upload Theme”.
Upload the zip file and then click on “Install Now”.
Once it's installed, it will show as “Theme installed correctly” and you can activate it by clicking on “Activate”
It's then installed, activated and ready to use!
As simple as that…
NOTE: Sometimes, in order for themes to work, they require some other plugins (as per the screenshot below). This can happen a lot with the free themes.
If this is the case, upload those plugins from within that screen (you can simply click on the “Begin Activating Plugins” and it will upload them all.
You then either click on them individually to activate them or you can click on the plugins white box (like below) and this will tick all the plugins which aren't activated.
Click on “Bulk Actions” and select “Activate”. This will do them all in one go…
If you had to do the above for your theme, that's all that's required.
We can now preview the site to see what it looks like.
To preview it, hover over the little house icon in the top left hand corner and it will come up with “Visit Site”.
Right click on “Visit Site” and it will open in a new tab.
Before, it looked like the first screenshot, which was a pre-installed theme (this is the Twenty Twenty theme and I actually think it's a pretty nice theme to use as well).
Then after installing the new downloaded “Divi” theme, it looks like the screenshot below…
It still looks very basic as nothing is on your blog yet and we haven't created anything, but it shows you how you can change the look by just uploading one zip file and maybe activating a few plugins if your theme requires it.
So what can you do with the Theme?
So you've installed a theme and now we can look at how to customize that theme a bit.
Every theme will have different things you can customize – so this part of the tutorial may not look the same for you, and some of the things may not be available in the theme you've chosen!
Start by clicking on the “Customize” tab so we can have a look at the different things to change.
The changes made here are in effect across your whole blog!
I'll run through the basics with you so you know what each tab does, however, I won't go into huge depth, as I'll do a blog post further down the line about Divi in more depth…
The screenshot below shows what it looks like within the “Customization” section of your dashboard.
You have a live update of what you change on the right of the screen, and all the menu tabs are to the left!
It's really easy as you can just click on a tab and change the settings to suit you and what you want.
Let's start with the “General Settings”
I just wanna check in with you first though…
How are you doing my lovely mummy!
Keeping in there I hope…
I know it's a loooooooooot of information to take in, but this stuff only has to be done once AND you don't have to do it all in one go.
You can always come back to it if it becomes a head masher…
This post isn't going anywhere!
Just because I've explained it all as simply as I can, doesn't mean I don't know how hard it can be to put it all into action, especially when there's sooooo much to do.
Just Remember – it's a marathon, not a sprint and I've got your back every step of the way
Before we get going with all the details of the Customizer – I just want to let you know that after each change you make under a section, you need to click on the “Publish” button for the changes to take effect…
So, first up is the General Settings.
Under the “General Settings” tab, you can change the following:
- Site Identity
- Layout Settings
We’ll have a brief look into each of these now!
This is where you can change the Site Title and also have a site tagline.
The Site Title is what your visitors will see at the top of every page on your blog. This is usually the name of your brand/blog/company etc…
The Site Tagline is simply a short statement placed right underneath your title… It’s a brief description of what you and your company/brand/blog are about!
The Site Icon (or Favicon as it’s also known) is the small icon you see in the browser tabs for companies. This is important to have as it makes you look professional. (I’ll be showing you how to do this later).
You can see mine is a simple “b” within a pink circle for my bloggingformums brand.
(since writing this post, I've actually changed my favicon slightly to the one below)
This section is where you can change the layout of your whole blog.
You can have a “Boxed Layout”, where everything is kept within a box.
It will look like the screenshot below…
You can change the width of the sidebar, if you want to have a wider sidebar, depending on what you’re going to show in there! (In the screenshot below I’ve made the sidebar as wide as it will go to show you).
You can also change the accent colour of your blog here too. (I’ve just changed it to a hot pink for this tutorial).
Here is where you can choose fonts you like and change the sizing.
I only change the “Body Text Size” and the “Header Text Size”. I don’t touch the other options for letter spacing and line height.
On bloggingformums, I have the following fonts and sizes:
Heading fonts: Raleway
Body font: Open Sans
Heading 1: size 40 px
Heading 2: size 32 px
Heading 3: size 27 px
Regular post text: size 16 px
Divi’s default theme happens to be Open Sans, which I didn’t realise when I chose my fonts.
You can have a different header font and body font or you could have the same font but different versions of it… (like in the screenshot below).
It’s automatically set to the “Default Theme Font”, but you can easily change this to whatever you like.
What I will say on fonts is, always pick ones which are easy to read on all devices and that aren’t too squiggly.
Squiggly may be pretty, but it isn't easy to read all the time (sometimes they give me eye ache lol).
There’s no point having amazing content on your blog, if the font is too difficult to see and read!
You can check out FontPair where you can see variations of fonts, to see what you like and what go well together.
The last option under the general settings is the background.
Here is where you can change the colour of the background, or you can use an image…
I've never used an image personally as I have my background as White, as I think it’s cleaner, crisper and makes it easier to see the content, but you can have whatever suits your blog.
Remember, your blog wants to look fun and enticing, but at the same time it needs to be practical and easy to see and read everything on there – so don't over complicate things…
I changed the background to pink in the screenshot below to show you where to change it.
If you want to upload an image, just click on “Select Image”
You can also remove and change the image from here as well.
There are some options to change the look of the image on your site too.
You can change the “Background Repeat” and the “Background Position”.
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail with this as I've never used an image background myself across my whole blog!
You can have a play around with it though and see what feels right for you.
Header and Navigation
Next up is the header and navigation settings.
Here is where you can add a logo, change the menu settings and show social share icons in the header, among other things.
Again, I’m not going into a lot of detail with all these, as it would literally take hours to go over it all thoroughly, but I want to show you all the different tabs within the Customization function.
This changes the look and feel of the menu, which currently sits in the top right hand corner of your blog.
The screenshot above shows the current default menu position along with how the logo sits too.
If we change this to the “Centre” for example, you can see it moves the menu to the centre, along with the logo (screenshot below).
We can also have the navigation menu vertical. It can be placed to the left or the right!
For the sake of this tutorial and the fact I prefer it, I've placed the “Header Style” back to the default settings, however, you can choose many different options including:
- Centered Inline Logo
- Slide In
Check them all out to see which one you like and feels the most comfortable for you personally!
Primary Menu Bar (and Secondary Menu Bar as they are the same)
Here is where you can change the look of the top menu bar.
There are quite a few things you can customize here.
The image below shows it at it's default settings.
The things you can change are listed below:
- Make the menu full width
- Hide the logo image
- The menu height
- The logo maximum height
- The text size and letter spacing
- The text font and font style
- The text colour and background colour
- Dropdown menu
- (This will be activated if you have a menu which uses a dropdown). I don't have one on my own blog, but I've nabbed a screenshot of my dads business website which I also designed and created to show you an example…
You really can make it as unique as you want!
Fixed Navigation Settings
The fixed navigation settings is for when your readers are scrolling the page.
Here you can change a number of things…
You can remove the logo, so that when the reader scrolls, it disappears from the top of the screen.
The first screenshot is what it looks like with the logo, and the second is when it's been removed.
You're also able to change the background and font colour for the scrolling menu.
It can be one colour to start with and as soon as someone starts scrolling, it can be another colour (as per the screenshot below).
This section is where you can add or remove the search icon and show Social Share buttons too.
There's also the option to add an email or phone number if you wish.
The Footer section is the part at the bottom of the screen, which should not be neglected in your blog.
The footer is a great place to have your important pages for people to check out (more on this later) and also to have social share buttons and a FREEBIE as well!
You can check out mine below…
I wanted it to be bright and to pop!
You always want to design your blog so that every element is enticing and interesting for your readers to look at.
I'm not going to go through every sub section now, like I've done with the ones above.
I think you get the idea of how you can check out each of the tabs and customize them for your own liking and needs…
I'll only be going through the ones which I feel really need it!
Let's get back to it with the Column Layout…
You can change the look of the footer using columns.
There’s a whole array of different layouts you can have.
If you change this, you won’t necessarily see anything right away, especially as we’re just starting out designing your blog.
As you add things into your footer area, they will show up in the columns you add here!
In the screenshot below, I’ve selected a 3 column layout and have changed the colour to purple for now!
This is where you can show social share icons – or not!
It’s up to you whether you want to have them here.
I do, as I think it’s a great way to make your readers aware of the social media platforms you have.
If you don’t want to have them here, that’s absolutely fine, as you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to have social share buttons within your posts and maybe on a floating sidebar too…
When it comes to customizing the buttons, this section is for when you use the “Button” option within the Divi builder.
I have added a button to the Sample Page within the customizer to show you how you can change the style of the button.
You can change the colour of the button border, text and size etc…
You can play around with this to get the buttons how you want them to look.
I've created a big button for my home page…
This simply puts changes into place that you want for all your blog posts! (text size, header size etc…)
It will pull the settings through when you write your posts and add in the header text, meta text etc…
Meta text is a summary which describes the content of a web page.
In our case, it's describing who the post is by, the date it was posted and the category it's been placed under.
Menus are where you create the pages you want to add to an individual menu within your blog…
You usually have a choice of 3 menu locations :
You can use one or all of the locations…
I just have a “Primary Menu” on my blog!
These can also be made into drop-down menus (like I’ve shown earlier on in this post).
A menu can be created for whatever you need it to do!
You start by clicking on “Create New Menu”.
You can then decide what style of menu you’d like.
For simplicity, I’ve just chosen to do a Primary Menu for now and I’ve named it “Main Menu”.
I then clicked “Next”…
And clicked on “Add Items”.
This is where you can add some pages in.
I’ve added similar pages to what I have on my blog to show you: (on top of the Home and Sample Page already there)
- Contact Us
- About Me
Once you’ve done this, they'll show up in the top right hand corner (or wherever you decided to have your menu).
This is also where you can decide whether you want your menu in several locations (as per the screenshots below).
And that’s it for the Menus (well the basics anyway as I don’t want to get overcomplicated on this).
What is a Widget?
It’s a funny little word “Widget”.
It made me laugh when I first heard it, but it basically means a component which performs a specific function, to allow you an easy way to control the sidebars and footers of your web pages.
As you can see from the screenshot below, some widgets have already been added into the sidebar, when we set this WordPress site up.
You can amend these and add information in, by clicking on the drop down arrow for each widget.
If you click on “Add a Widget” from this screen, it will open up a menu with all the other widgets available.
I have added the “Calendar” widget as an example, to show you how it gets added to the sidebar really simply.
This is simply where you decide which page you want as your “Homepage”.
You can either have your latest posts showing (which a lot of blogs have) or a Static page.
I’ve chosen the Sample Page as the static page as an example.
Woohoo! You've learnt some basics for how to Customize your Theme!
You did it!
You've learnt the basics of how to customize a theme within WordPress.
You now have the starter skills to create an amazing looking blog…
Remember – I've only shown you the basics for now. There is so much more you can do with the customizations available to you.
Adding a Favicon!
What is a Favicon?
Next up we’re looking at Favicons…
But first – what is a Favicon?
It’s a little image that reflects your website and brand and gives viewers a preview of the site they’re visiting.
It sits on the left hand side of the browser address bar tab and is usually 512 x 512 pixels.
Creating a Favicon!
Favicon's are really simple to create and you can create one in a number of programs.
I use a program called Canva Pro.
Canva is completely free to use, however, as with most services, you do have to pay to unlock more features.
I started out using the free option for a while, but when I needed to do more, I upgraded to Canva Pro…
I use it for creating pretty much everything I have images for, including social media posts and my logo!
My favicon is super simple and reflects my brand.
I’ve used a “b” for blogging for mums, one of my brand colours (a soft pink) and a brand font too.
(As per earlier in the post, I've now changed my favicon slightly)
I've quickly gone into Canva and created a favicon for this tutorial, which we'll use in the next step…
Below is the very basic favicon, but it's bright and stands out.
Of course you don't have to use Canva as there are many programs and softwares out there.
You may already use something awesome you're familiar with.
Another option I recommend is Powerpoint.
I only use Powerpoint however for my printables and freebies!
Adding your Favicon to WordPress!
To add your newly created favicon, we need to go back into the Customizer.
So head on back over to “Appearance” from your dashboard and then click on “Customize”
And click on “General Settings” and “Site Identity”.
Here you can click on “Select Site Icon” and upload it.
Once you’ve uploaded the favicon, you’ll be able to see it in the browser address bar.
And that’s it – you have a favicon uploaded!
All these steps really are straight forward and simple, when it's broken down and you can literally see your blog coming together.
Create a Logo or Header
Most WordPress themes allow you to add a logo or header image to your blog.
Every theme is different, so where you add it differs from theme to theme.
Some you add within the Customizer, but others may need to be added elsewhere – like Divi…
Divi has a section within the dashboard menu.
This is another place where you can set up your options for your whole blog!
When you create and change these settings, they will save across all posts, pages and everywhere else…
Again, as Divi has so much you can do with it, I’m not going through all these options here.
Today, I’m just going to show how you can upload a logo…
You need to start by actually creating your logo.
You want to really think about what resonates with you and your brand and what type of logo would suit your blog!
Sometimes people have images, some just have text (like me).
People will remember your logo and attach it to you and your blog/brand, so have a play around with logo ideas and see what looks and feels right for you…
Canva has some great templates for you to use and get inspiration from, so check some of them out!
You can see in the screenshot below how many different variations and styles you can have.
Canva has a logo maker option you can check out too, so you won't be stuck for ideas with all these resources at your fingertips!
Every theme will have different size measurements for logos and header images, so you’ll want to check out what's best for your theme…
Divi standard logo image size is: 93 pixels x 43 pixels. I however found this too small, so the dimensions I used on my logo are – 854 pixels x 222 pixels.
Every logo will be unique, so you just need to play around and see what size is best for your blog and theme!
I’ve created a quick logo in Canva and downloaded it as a transparent PNG file.
I’ve uploaded it and then clicked on “Save Changes”.
That’s the logo uploaded to WordPress, however, you do have to do a little fiddling around with it back in the Customizer, to get it to look right when using Divi…
Go back to the dashboard and click on the following:
Appearance > Customize > Header & Navigation > Primary Menu Bar
And then you’ll see the “Menu Height” and “Logo Max Height”.
Just play around with the toggle button until it looks right and then click “Publish”
You then have your logo uploaded and looking good…
I'm just doing another quick check in before we continue putting your blog together!
If you want to grab another coffee and a bite to eat – do it!
Regular breaks are a must when this amount of information is being absorbed and mega action is being taken…
Adding some Plugins (and not the air freshener kind)
There really are some funny words in the blogging world – widgets, favicons and now plugins…
The only plugin I’d ever heard of before entering into this amazing world of bloggers, was the air freshener ones that plug into the sockets!
These are completely different kinds of plugins.
They’re a software which can add specific features & customizations and are essential for the everyday running of your blog.
There are thousands of plugins available, but when starting out, you don’t need a lot.
As you grow and you need to add different things, you can introduce more, but I want to share with you the few that I use and wouldn’t be without.
You also only want to be installing plugins which are trustworthy, because oh yes – there are many out there which are not and will damage your blog!
(Another thing to bear in mind is that the more plugins you have installed, the slower your site will be, so we don’t want anything unnecessary).
Pretty much all the WordPress sites when set up, come with the “Akismet Anti-Spam” plugin. You can delete this before we start, as I’m going to show you another anti-spam plugin which I use.
Before we start installing, you need to know how to install the plugins and how you can find them…
How to install the plugins and how you can find them!
There are two ways to install plugins:
1) You download it from the internet and upload it (remember to be careful they’re legitimate & trustworthy)
2) Search plugins from within the “Add New” plugins section where you can also see it has several plugins featured.
There are different ways you can search for plugins, as per number 2 above.
You can search by:
Each plugin will show you how many active installations there are, when it was last updated and whether it’s compatible with your WordPress site.
You can also click on the “More Details” and it will bring a pop up box with all the information you need about that plugin.
They also show a star rating out of 5, so you can see what people who’ve used the plugins have rated it.
All plugins are installed the same…
For each plugin, you either:
- Upload it, install it and activate it (if it is one you have downloaded from the internet) OR
- You just search, install and activate (if it’s one you’ve searched for within the “Add New” section).
You then click on “Install Now” and then “Activate”.
So let’s get into it and start installing some fab plugins you’ll need…
What it is?
You’ve probably heard of Spam (not the meat variety) as most of us have spam folders within our email inboxes.
It protects your site from any spammy things getting through and hurting your blog!
This plugin isn’t a free one, but it is super cheap at £7 per year! (remember I said some things are going to cost you some money along the line – this is one of those things).
- Stops spam comments
- Stops spam contact emails
- Stops spam registration
- Stops spam subscriptions
- Compatible with mobile users and devices
- Checks and removes existing spam comments and users
- Compatible with GDPR EU (General Data Protection Regulation) + many, many more features…
Once you’ve installed this plugin, you need to follow the instructions below to set it up…
The first screen which will come up, looks like the screenshot below and you’ll need to get an “Access Key”.
You can see that in the “Protection is Active” section, everything has a red cross next to it.
Click on “Get Access Key Automatically”.
The screen will buffer for a while and then it will come up like the screenshot below, showing a key code within the box and all the items in the “Protection is Active” section have a green tick next to them.
Click on “Save Changes”.
And that’s it… (there is an advanced settings tab, but I’ve not touched this).
You now have an anti-spam plugin installed to protect your blog.
What is it?
Although WordPress itself is very secure, this plugin adds extra security and a firewall to your blog.
- Reduces security risk by checking for vulnerabilities & implementing and enforcing the latest recommended WordPress security practices and techniques
- It doesn’t slow your site down and is completely free
- User accounts security
- User login security
- Database security
- User registration security
- File system security + many more features (a lot more features).
This is all you need to do.
You can go into the “Settings” and check things out, but I haven’t touched any of this or changed anything.
What is it?
This plugin allows you to create a coming soon page, or an under construction/maintenance page, if you need to work on your site and not have it live!
Once you set a blog up and you publish posts etc, these all become live and can be seen by anyone who comes across it on the internet.
When you start out, it can be a good idea to have a plugin like this so that they don’t see anything until you’re ready to launch your blog to the world!
I used this plugin for a long time while I was building out my blog with all my pages and posts and you can see in the screenshot below what it looked like in Maintenance Mode.
It made me feel comfortable knowing I could work on it all behind the scenes and all people would see is a screen saying something cool is coming soon, and not accidentally stumble across a half finished About Me page lol…
- Works with any WordPress theme
- MultiSite support
- Customizations for the look and feel + many more…
Once installed and activated, you need to do a little work on this plugin!
Head into the “Settings” and click on the “Content” tab…
Complete the form like the screenshot below (obviously using your own words, favicon and logo if you want to add these).
Save all changes and then click on “Live Preview”.
You can then see a simple, yet effective web page that will come up if anyone enters your blog domain name.
What is it?
Google Analytics is basically a plugin which analyses the activity which takes place on your blog.
It is done by adding a tracking code to your blog and then you can view the analytics from your WordPress dashboard.
- Real time traffic source details
- Real time number of visitors
- Tracking – Track downloads, affiliate links, emails etc
- Google Analytics reports + more features
Once installed, head to the settings and you will see it asks you to create a free analytics account
You need to follow the instructions before you can authorize the plugin!
Once you have followed the instructions and set up a new account for your analytics, you need to click on “Authorize Plugin”.
The screen below will then appear…
Click on “Get Access Code” and you’ll then be taken to a page where you need to allow ExactMetrics to view the analytics data.
You’ll get a code come up which you need to copy.
Paste this code into the “Access Code” section back in your WordPress dashboard Google Analytics Settings and save it.
The plugin will then all be authorised and you’ll have a “Plugin authorization succeeded” message.
You’ve now installed 4 plugins my lovely mumma! Woohoo… a few more essential ones to go!
What is it?
A social share plugin is a must so that your readers can share all the great blog posts you’re going to be putting out.
The Social Sharing Buttons by Mediavine is a great all in one plugin, which can link to your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Linkedin accounts for FREE! (you need to upgrade to the pro version to link to others)
- Multiple share button locations
- GDPR Compliance
- Social share counts
- Easy installation and setup
- Customizable button labels + more
Once you’ve installed and activated it, you need to click on “Go to the plugin”…
If you want to add share counts, you can click on the link which shows you how to do this. You can also click here and it will take you to the instructions as well!
It’s a really simple plugin to use.
You have the options of a “floating sidebar” or “inline content”. You can have both as well if you wish. Just toggle on or off your preferred preference.
A floating bar is great to have on all your posts and pages, but the inline content sharing buttons are great for within blog posts.
Once you have decided what you want – click on the settings tab and you’ll get taken to the screen where you can customize your social share buttons.
I’m not going into any detail on this as it’s pretty straight forward. You can customize it to how you want it to look with the different options available.
Just remember to save your changes once you’re done!
What is it?
This plugin allows you to shorten links to use your own domain name and will make your affiliate links much cleaner looking.
I use the free version as this is perfect for what I need, however, it does have a pro version also!
- Allows you to create clean, simple links from within your WordPress dashboard, that can redirect to another URL
- Tracks the number of clicks per link
- Cookie based system to track visitor activity across clicks
- Temporary or Permanent redirection for your pretty link + many more.
The same as on all the above plugins, install and activate (I don’t know why, but I hear myself saying it like a robot lol).
It then gives you step by step instructions right there in the dashboard to show you how to create pretty links!
What is it?
This is a plugin you don't want to be without!
Every blog has a lot of images on it and lots of images cause slow site speeds!
The plugin will optimize any image or PDF on your site and it's so easy to use.
With this plugin, you can do so much, even with the free version.
- Compresses PNG, JPG, GIF and PDF's
- No file size limit
- Updated regularly
- Can compress all your past images
- Increases your blog's SEO ranking
- “Bulk” optimizing + so many more…
Once installed, it will ask you to request an “API Key”.
Click on “Sign up to get your API key” and enter your email address…
The API key will then be emailed to you.
You then just need to enter the API key and click “Validate”.
Once it's validated, it will come up with a success message.
There are a lot of options, but I leave it all set to the default settings.
You also get to use the “Bulk Optimization Tool” to optimize all the existing images on your site (if you have any).
That's it, it's all set up and ready to use as and when you upload images.
It's so easy as it's a “set and forget” plugin.
What is it?
This plugin enables you to pin your blog posts, pages and images into your Pinterest boards.
Pinterest is a great platform for sharing blog posts and creating beautiful, enticing images.
I am definitely going to be utilising Pinterest a lot more…
- Ability to show or hide pin it button in posts and pages
- Show pin it button on image hover
- Customizable button hovers
- Multilingual + more features
Once installed, you can choose where you want to show the Pin It buttons and also the size of the buttons (I have it clicked on “Yes” and “Large” size buttons for my blog).
It’s really easy to get to grips with and one of the simplest pin- it plugins out there.
What is it?
This plugin has been developed by Siteground for sites which are hosted by them ONLY.
It works by linking your WordPress blog with their Performance Services.
It helps to improve WordPress performance and deals with caching, system settings and anything else which will keep your blog working fast!
By having this installed and enabled, you’re getting the best from your hosting and site.
They also have a tutorial here where you can see exactly how to use it and set it up.
- Supercacher settings
- Environment Optimization
- Frontend Optimization
- Image Optimization
- Plugin Compatibility + many more…
Once installed, you access it by clicking on “SG Optimizer” in the dashboard and it looks like the screenshot below…
You can leave it with the defaulted settings or follow the tutorial instructions I gave the link for above and set it up to suit your needs!
The final plugin I want to share with you is one you really, really should have and it’s one of my favourites.
What is it?
This is the #1 WordPress SEO plugin out there!
It has a free and a paid version.
I am currently using the free version, but am pretty soon going to be upgrading to the pro as it has so many more features I want to check out.
We’ve talked about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) earlier on in this post and it’s a huge part of blogging!
If you have this plugin, it will help you massively with your SEO, helping you to rank higher in the search engines…
- Title and meta description templates for more consistent snippets in the search engines
- SEO analysis tool
- Readability analysis tool
- Looks after your visitors and the search engine spiders + more…
Once installed, you’ll get a “First- time SEO configuration” option come up on the screen.
Click on “configuration wizard in a new tab and complete this set up.
After completing this, take action on anything it’s asked you to do!
You can see that I need to fix a couple of issues on this test blog.
I had to uncheck the box for Search Engine Visibility.
I also had to change my permalink structure to “/%postname%/” which is the recommended structure for your URL’s in posts (I'm going to be talking a little more about permalinks further on in the post).
You can see in the screenshot above it states you should almost never change permalinks when a site is live, so now is the ideal time to do it, while your blog is in “coming soon/maintenance mode”.
Once you’ve changed this – save changes!
You can now see below that there are “0” problems!
We can’t really go too much into this one until you start writing some posts, as this is when the SEO comes into play!
You can now take a look and see all the plugins you’ve installed and what all your hard work has done.
That’s it for this plugin (and all the plugins I’m recommending for now).
As I come across new plugins or things I may want to upgrade or change, I'll update this post!
Connecting the Yoast SEO plugin to Google Search Console and adding a Sitemap
Google Search Console basically looks after the health of your blog and makes sure everything is ok in regards to its performance.
It takes care of any bug fixes and errors and gives you insight as to how search engines see your blog!
A Sitemap is used so that search engines can index your site easily and the Yoast plugin updates automatically, the more content you add to your blog.
Using the Yoast plugin makes it easy to do both of the above things!
Firstly, let's look at connecting Yoast to the Google Search Console (this part does involve contacting Siteground, or whoever you use to host your blog)
Click on “SEO” and “Search Console”…
If you haven’t set up a google search console account, click here to do this first!
Add in your domain name under the “Domain” property type and click continue…
You then need to reach out to Siteground Support within your Siteground dashboard and ask them to paste in the TXT record into the DNS configuration.
I always find the live chat option is great, so reach out to them there first and see if you can give them the TXT code that comes up (as in the screenshot below).
They may say you have to submit a ticket as it’s more technical, in which case you can do that…
It may take Siteground a while to sort this, but they’ll let you know once this has been done!
Once they’ve come back to you to say it’s done, you’ll need to Verify the site.
And that's it. You'll have been verified…
The image below shows that this domain has been auto verified, but that's only because I already own the primary domain (blogging for mums) and I am also already connected with Google Analytics.
Now I want to show you how easy it is to set up your Sitemap!
Start by going back to your dashboard > SEO > General…
Click on the “Features” tab at the top!
Make sure the “XML sitemaps” option is toggled to “On”and click on the question mark, which will open up some text.
Click on “See the XML sitemap” and it will open a new tab!
The link in the search bar is the link you'll need to copy and paste into the Search Console in a moment…
Head on over to the Google Search Console (which you set up earlier) and click on the Sitemaps tab at the side.
Now copy and paste in the link which was created a moment ago (like the screenshot below) and click “Submit”.
It will then show that it has submitted successfully!
You've now successfully set up and connected Yoast with your Google Console and set up your Sitemap within it too.
All done… you deserve a coffee break for sure!
Changing your Permalinks & Setting your Timezone!
I briefly touched on Permalinks already in this post, but wanted to talk more about it here, as it’s really important…
So a Permalink is a “Permanent Link” as the word suggests!
It’s the full URL which includes your domain name at the front and then a slug (the URL which comes after the domain name) and is used across all the pages, posts and other content on your site.
Having a simple permalink makes things simpler and easier for your readers to share and is also better for SEO!
It’s super easy to do and once it’s changed and set – you don’t need to worry about it again!
Ideally, you want to do it before you launch your blog, so that it’s visibility isn’t affected in anyway.
From within the Dashboard, click on “Settings” and then “Permalinks”
You then have many options you can choose from for the structure of your permalinks.
I’ve always, always had “Post name” as my settings, but you can have whatever suits you and your blog!
Just like in the warning though – it’s best never to change this when your site is live, as it could cause issues with your URL’s.
Setting Your Timezone
You'll need to check the time zone settings under the “General Settings”
Most of the time this is preset and defaulted correctly, to wherever you are in the world, but always check that it is right.
You can also change the date format, time format and the day of the week you want your week to start on..
I keep these to the default settings usually.
Creating the Important Pages
Every blog has what we call the “Important pages”…
These can differ from blog to blog, depending on what pages you want to have, however there are definitely 3 pages you must have on your site!
- Terms & Conditions
These pages are all easy to create and I created mine using the Divi Page Builder (which is within my Divi Theme), along with simple templates, generated via companies online.
When it comes to the legal pages required, I’m only going to briefly talk about what they are and what they’re for, as it can go into a lot of depth, which I don’t want to use this blog post for.
I'll give you the links to 3 companies I use or recommend, along with further information to help you generate these pages.
The links will be for a free option, a cheap option and a more expensive option!
As you and your blog grow and you start to sell products and services – you should definitely pay for some better quality templates (the cheaper option or the more expensive one).
The more you grow, the more you’ll be selling and using advertising, therefore your legal liabilities will increase, so you want to make sure you’re covered!
The 3 companies I’m going to mention:
The tutorial below will ONLY go into showing you how to generate and create the pages for the free option, which is the simple, free generator.
We’d be here forever if I showed you how to use every single option available.
The two paid options are very similar in that you get templates, but they’re more in depth and cover more!
I feel that this is the most important page to have on your blog!
Every blog should have this for legal reasons, because you’re collecting personal information from users, such as emails, addresses, payment details etc.
Users want to know that the information they provide you is safe and by having this page, you’re showing your users that they can trust you with the care of their details.
It’s also a requirement for third party services you may use.
WordPress do provide a briefing of what is to be included, so you can have a read of this here to get an idea!
It’s ok for me to share some templates with you and show you how to use them, but you should definitely get yourself well acquainted with the legal documents required for your blog (as I’m not a lawyer and cannot give advice on the ins and outs of the policies).
All the options I’ve mentioned offer templates. The third option (for when you’re selling and advertising) offers templates which have been created by a lawyer for entrepreneurs with online businesses, so they’re more meaty and in depth!
This is a good option to go with when you’re earning a bit of money from your blog and can afford to invest more!
This is a super simple and easy template to use!
Firstly, just enter in your blog name and your blog URL and click “Next”…
(you can see it has a preview on the left hand side of the template wording)
Then complete the information and click “Next” again…
That’s it – super easy right!
You can now “copy text to clipboard” and paste it somewhere, such as a notepad document, as you’ll need it to add into a page within your blog!
Now we need to move back into your WordPress dashboard to create the page this information is going to go on!
I create all my pages using Divi, as it’s also so simple to use!
From your dashboard menu, click on “Pages” and “Add New”…
Then decide whether you’re going to use a premade layout or are going to build from scratch.
I’ve chosen “Build from Scratch” just to show you simply how to create this page.
You’ll want to put some thought into how you want your pages to look across your blog.
You’ll want to make sure they’re similar and compliment each other in some way.
It looks clean, professional and serves its purpose of advising my readers of the legal stuff they need to know!
You should check out the template library Divi has, as they have a ton of layout packs to choose from.
The great thing with Divi’s layout packs, is that they have templates for all the main pages for your blog.
Check out the screenshot below to see an example.
It’s a great way to have a smooth and consistent theme and style throughout your whole blog!
Anyway, I‘ve gone off track completely, but I LOVE Divi so much lol!
Once you’ve chosen a layout, a pop up will appear asking you to “Insert a Row”.
You get several options to choose from, but for this page, choose the first option (which is one row).
I’ve then chosen the “Text” module to start!
I then headed into the Design tab and clicked on “Header Text” and changed the “Heading Text Alignment” to centre and the “Heading Text Size” to 60px…
You’ll then have a nice centered heading on the page.
Next up, you’ll want to add a new row and select the one row type again, along with the “Text” module…
(You need to make sure it’s on the “Text” tab and not the “Visual” tab to paste in the text)
At the bottom of the screen, there’s a little purple circle with 3 white dots in – click on this…
It will open up some more options. Click on the “Publish” button to publish your page.
You can now “Exit Visual Builder” and “Save & Exit” to leave the page creator.
It doesn’t look perfect and you will need to go through and make it look nice and presentable and suited to your blog and needs, but you get the idea of how to create a page for your legal documents!
You can add it to the top of your menu bar, or into a footer at the bottom of your page!
Click on “Appearance” and “Menus” and click on “View All” under the Pages.
You can then see it’s been added to the Menu Structure with all the other pages.
Scroll down to the Menu Settings and select where you want it to be placed and “Save Menu” after your selection.
As per the screenshots below, it has now been added to the top Menu bar…
And into the footer as well!
It’s done and it’s added to a Menu…
All the other legal pages will be created exactly the same, so I won’t be going through this bit again with the Disclaimer and Terms & Conditions pages.
You’re smart and know you just need to add in the correct page title and correct pasted text from the generator!
You can then tweak them and play around with them until they look exactly how you want them to (remember – Divi does a lot because it’s an amazing tool).
That was a lot to go through – simple, but a lot…
Give yourself a pat on the back (and another break…)
You’ve done a good job!
Right – coffee break is done and now we’re on a roll for the next legal page… the Disclaimer Page!
The Disclaimer page is there to protect you from legal liabilities for the content you publish on your blog. It does so by limiting your liability to others, while helping protect your rights also.
You can check out my Disclaimer Page here…
Copy and paste your disclaimer text into a notepad and repeat the instructions above to create your Disclaimer Page in WordPress, using Divi.
Add it to the Menu bar (and footer if you wish) the same as before also…
Finally we move onto the last legal page I’m going through and that's Terms & Conditions.
Terms & Conditions Page
This page sets the rules, rights, responsibilities and terms for anyone using your blog!
Check out my Terms & Conditions page here!
Although it’s not required by law, it is something which I highly recommend having.
Follow the instructions exactly the same with creating the page and adding it to the menu…
You’ll then have all the legal pages you need for now!
As well as legal pages, there are other pages you may want to have on your blog!
- My Story
- The Blog
- My Toolbox
I don't need to show you how to create each of these pages, but I will run through what you can have on them.
At the end of the day, you can be as creative as you like as long as the pages serve a purpose and aren’t over cluttered with too much going on…
The homepage is the first page a visitor will see when they come across your blog!
Some blogs use a default homepage, which tends to show all their latest posts alongside a sidebar (showing freebies and ads).
This is what’s known as the “standard homepage”
I’m not a fan of the standard homepage, because I just feel that with it being the first page your visitors will see, you want to give an amazing impression and give them a good starting point to your whole blog!
My homepage has a big, bold call to action at the very top, which offers a freebie to help mums figure out what they want to start a blog in!
This is a great way to get people to sign up to your email list from the off…
I then have a bit about what the blogs about and what my visitors will get from it, following my top 3 posts which will help my lovely mummy’s get started blogging!
Finally, I have my footer bar which contains my freebie offer once again (it’s good to give multiple opportunities for visitors to sign up) some social media buttons, disclaimers, my support email address and the legal pages…
It’s simple and not overdone, but has everything on there I want my homepage to have.
The contact page is basically where someone can go to reach out to you!
I have a basic contact form on mine, which I created in Divi with the “Contact Form” module.
I added my custom colours to it and made it look pretty, but it’s really simple for people to get in touch with me here!
I also have my support email address at all times within my footer, so people can contact me that way as well.
Having a way to contact you makes people trust you more, as they know they can reach out if they get stuck or have a question!
You want to make sure people feel comfortable knowing they have a way to make contact.
My Story Page
This page is my “About Me” page, except I didn’t want to call it that, so I named it “My Story”…
Everyone loves to find out more about a person – it’s human nature and I think it’s really important to share a little of yourself and your life, if you want people to know, like and trust you!
I share a little about myself and my life with my husband and children, along with what I love to do, my passions and how I really want to help other mummy’s like me start a blog!
I always check out a blog’s “About Me” page, as I love to put a face with the name/brand (most people have a photo of themselves on their blog as well – you should too!).
Because we can’t interact with each other face to face, having a story and a photo of yourself on an “About Me” page will let people get to know who you are and what you’re about…
You can check out “My Story” page actually on my blog here…
Blog pages are there to house your blog posts…
It’s an easy way to have them all in one place, making it simpler for your readers.
You can have a sidebar and utilise that for freebies and other advertising you might want to do, or you can just have it for posts like I do at the moment…
Some bloggers like to have headings for different topics/categories within their menu tab.
When these links are clicked on, the reader gets taken to a page with posts relating to that category…
There are so many different ways you can style your blog and it really comes down to what you like, what needs your blog has and how you’re going to serve your readers!
Check out some of the blogs you love and see how they put their blog pages together for inspiration.
I always do this if I’m having a moment where I can’t think how to design something.
It’s one of those things where you’re going to need to try something and see if it works and tweak it as you go along.
The more you blog, the more visitors you’ll have and hopefully you’ll be able to see what works with them and what doesn’t.
Trial and error is a big thing in blogging, that’s for sure!
This page is a great opportunity for making some money…
This is where I have affiliate links to products and services I use to keep my blog running smoothly.
I have a disclaimer at the top letting all my visitors know that I receive a small commission from purchases, so that I’m being honest and transparent with them.
I’ve broken mine down into sections to make it easier to see what’s what, but you can put yours together however you want.
You don’t have to include this page at the beginning if you don’t have anything to recommend. It can be added in at a later date when you do!
The main thing to remember with setting any of these pages up – they don’t have to be perfect. They just have to get done…
The beauty of using WordPress and Divi together is, you can always change things at anytime, so as you build your blog up and add more content, you can easily and simply add or remove sections into your pages.
Having a Plan & Setting Goals for your Blog
I feel we should always be dreaming big, because having hopes and dreams is what pushes us and motivates us every day.
It’s the dreaming big which leads us to setting goals, which gives us the reason to take action so we can achieve those dreams.
Having dreams and goals in the things we do, moves us forward in life!
Just wanted to put this out there today…
So it’s all well and good having a blog to write and publish posts, however, you need to have some kinda plan as to what you actually want to achieve with it in the long run…
Now I’m not saying you need to have clear, crystal goals right now, especially when you’re just starting out – not at all…
You’ll be concentrating on so many other things to get your blog up and running, but you do need to have a focus on what you want to be getting from your blog!
Ask yourself this question…
Why are you blogging?
Do you want to blog to:
- Help people
- Share your advice
- Make money (hopefully this isn’t your only reason, but it’s a good motivation to blog for sure)
- Promote your business
- Reach more people out in the world
- Find a job etc…
Knowing why you’re blogging in the first place will help you set some much needed goals!
It’s the same as when you’re brainstorming and writing blog posts – you need to be writing with a purpose, not just writing for the sake of it, or to fill your blog up!
Your blog needs to have a purpose for it being out there…
I blog because I LOVE it and couldn’t imagine doing anything else, but I also want to help as many mums as I can (just like you) start a blog so they can share their awesomeness with the world!
That is my goal – to reach as many mums as I can sharing my knowledge of blogging.
I feel I would be doing myself and you guys a disservice, if I didn’t share what I know.
What’s the point in knowing something if I’m not going to help others with it…
Goals for your Blog
There’s no set rhythm or rhyme to goals and how they should be set.
Everyone's goals are individual and unique to them, depending on where they want to get to and what they want to achieve.
Having both short term goals and long term goals are something you need to consider for your blog.
Short term goals can be as simple as getting your first blog post written within the next 2 weeks, or it could be getting your first email subscriber within the first month!
Whatever your short term goals are, they’ll help you get to your bigger, long term goals.
For me, I have roughly 3 daily goals of important things I want to get done that day. (I just write these in my notepad)
My daily goals are usually things like sending out an email (depending on what day I’m sending it), creating a pin image or two for a blog post, post on Pinterest/Facebook, publish a post etc…
I also have weekly, monthly and yearly goals of what I want to achieve.
My weekly goals are usually things like writing a blog post, putting together an email, recording a video for my blog post, planning the outline for the following weeks blog post etc…
My monthly goals would usually be a round up of all the things I want to get done in my daily/weekly goals.
The bigger long term goals are for things like:
- How much money you'd like to make.
- Making enough money to quit your job.
- Increasing blog traffic
- Creating a course
- How many blog posts you’d like to have written over the entire year
- How much time you want to spend each week on your blog etc…
So that’s a brief look into how I like to plan and set goals for my blog, but as I said, when you’re just starting out it can be overwhelming to have to try and have a whole heap of goals to think about – so you can do this more when you’ve been blogging for a month or two and have a feel for things more…
When you start, be more geared towards the processes you need to go through, as the goals will come later!
What do you want people to gain from your blog?
When a visitor comes to your blog, what is it you want them to get from it?
Are you a blog which gives news stories, so you want them to get the latest news to keep them well informed for the day…
Are you a blog which gives fashion advice, so you want them to know how to dress smart for the day…
What is it you want your blog to do for a visitor when they stop by:
- Make them laugh
- Inform them of something
- Teach them something
- Inspire them etc…
Whatever your blog’s about, think about what it is you want your readers to take away from it when they leave!
What Income do you want to earn from your blog?
Are you wanting to make money from your blog, because it’s totally possible and many bloggers make a lot of money this way…
If so, you need to have a plan of action in place as to how you’re going to do that.
You also need to look at how much money you want to make…
Do you want to make a little bit of money, maybe just enough to cover a few bills every month or…
Do you want to make a lot of money – enough to replace your whole monthly job income?
Maybe you’re looking to make enough to pay for holidays and a few spa treat weekends every year (all mummy’s need a spa weekend)…
These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to how much money you want to make from your blog!
Unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees (we wish lol), so having solid “Money Making Goals” in place will set you on the right path…
The above are all things to think about when you’re setting goals and planning for your blogs future!
Brainstorm blog post Ideas
So, you have a blog set up now (basic, but set up and you can tweak and add things as you go and gain more confidence) and you’ve set some goals for what you want to achieve with your blog.
Now it’s time to brainstorm some ideas for your blog posts, because a blog is nothing without content…
Whatever niche you go into, you’re going to need to do some research to find out what people actually want to read about…
Get a notepad and pen (or google docs as I like to use for this) and write (or type) down some ideas you come across.
Look at what other blogs are writing about around your topic!
Check out their top posts and see what points they’re making in them.
What can you do better?
How can you write something better?
Look at the comments readers have left on the posts and see what they’re asking for, what they like and dislike about the post, what they didn’t get from the post.
You can then use these comments to write posts for your own blog, for things that are missing within the posts already out there…
DON’T STEAL OTHER BLOGGERS CONTENT THOUGH…
This is just an inspiration exercise, not a time to plagiarize someone else’s work.
You can get into serious trouble for taking other people’s stuff, plus, you don’t want to just copy and paste other’s blog posts and rearrange a few words – this isn’t ethical or right either…
Be unique and come up with your own style to get your information out there.
Find problems people are having
When it comes to problems – we all have them, on everything, so you’ll always be able to find problems and issues in whatever niche you’re in.
People are constantly searching online looking for answers to things…
I was just on google searching for “How to clean my washing machine the right way” lol!
Find those problems and provide a solution to them within your blog posts.
Everyone loves a bit of Google and that's because it’s super powerful…
I love the suggestions that it comes up with when you type something in.
I typed “How to start…” and you can see it automatically comes up with the most searched keywords.
I also love the “People also ask” section, as this can also give you some fab blog post ideas on things you may not have even thought about, but which are relating to your niche!
Quora is a question and answer site and is great for getting blog post ideas.
You can simply sign up and select 10 or more topics of interest to you (so you would select things that are to do with your niche) and then these come up within a feed.
The feed shows up with questions relating to your chosen topics.
You can then search through and see what people have been asking questions about… (a whole heap of blog post ideas)
It even allows you to ask your own questions, which is also a great tool to get information.
There’s a couple of great little tools I came across to get ideas for posts and even post titles.
The first one is called the Portents Idea Generator and it’s super easy.
Just enter in a subject and click the arrow and it will come up with loads of weird and wonderful title ideas for you, which in turn gives you actual ideas of post content!
The second tool is called the Blog Ideas Generator where you enter in a noun (or a few nouns) and then it will also come up with some cool ideas for posts.
You can also sign up to their email list and download a further 250 blog post ideas – not bad hey!
There are probably a lot of others out there you can check out, but these are the ones I’ve used (and laughed at a lot)…
Places where we spend such a massive amount of time nowadays (unfortunately) are Social Media platforms.
BUT – alongside just endlessly scrolling at really tasty looking food the mum from the school run has made and flawless celebrities we want to look like lol, it can be extremely useful and amazing for finding problems for your blog posts…
People love to join groups and ask questions all the time, so maybe join a couple of good Facebook groups within your niche and check out the posts being made and the comments also.
These groups can be a goldmine for finding topics for posts!
You can just ask your readers…
Once you have a few blog posts on your blog and people have left some comments, ask them what they want!
You can also do this when you have email subscribers…
Ask them what they want to hear about from you!
Ask them what kinds of content they prefer (written posts, videos, both).
The power of actually asking people what they want is incredible and will help save you a lot of time just writing about things no one wants to hear about…
Another little gem I’ve found along my blogging travels is the Keywords Everywhere Tool.
This is a Chrome extension (so yes, you will need to have Chrome to use it) and once installed, it comes up with “Related Keywords” and “People Also Search For” down the right hand side of the screen!
You can see in the screenshot below that I typed in “How to start a blog” in Google’s search bar and then all the related keywords and things people also search for came up…
The final thing I would like to talk about in this section is “Mind Mapping”.
Brainstorming ideas using a mind map is fab because you never know where your ideas are going to end up!
The things that can pop in your head can be crazy!
They’re a great tool for planning out ideas and posts and you’ll be surprised how far you’ll go with them…
I use a tool called GitMind and it’s completely Free!
Check it out and start having some brainstorming fun…
Deciding how often you want to post!
How often you want to publish your posts is entirely up to you…
The whole idea behind blogging (and why so many people choose to do it) is because you can fit it in around you and your life!
Being a mum has a lot of challenges – with time and getting everything in we need to do, so make sure when you’re deciding how often and when to post – you find something you can stick to and what works around you and your kids!
Having a plan at this stage will help in weeks, months and even years to come…
Whatever you decide, being consistent and posting when you say you’re going to post is super important.
As you grow (and you will if you put in the hard work and stick with it) you’ll find that your readers will come to know when you post.
They’ll almost expect you to, as they’ll get into a routine of knowing what days and times your blog posts come out.
Be completely honest with yourself.
If you know that you can’t post once a week, then don’t try and push yourself to post once a week.
Post every two weeks instead, or even every month!
The main goal is to be posting consistently and to post amazing content.
If you know by posting once a week, it's going to be a hash job of throwing something together quickly, just because you want to get a post out there, DON’T!!!
It can do more harm than good to your blog.
Your readers would much rather wait and have something awesome to read, than have you post something you’ve not put any time and effort into.
It will show – trust me!
It may take a few months to get into the rhythm of things, but that’s ok as we all need time to get to know what suits us and what doesn’t.
It’s that whole trial and error thing again.
Scheduling your Posts
Once you know when you’d like to publish your blog posts, it’s time to think about scheduling those posts, so they alway go out when you want them to.
There are plugins available which you can install and set up to do this, however, the one I use is not a free one – it’s roughly £30 per year and it’s called WP Scheduled Posts!
I’m going to show you how to do it using the Gutenberg editor for FREE!
Scheduling your posts to go out on certain days and times is also great for making the most of “busy traffic times”.
You may be sleeping soundly when you want your posts to go live – that’s fine as you can “set and forget” your posts to go out at times and days/dates of your choice.
That’s the beauty of scheduling…
So with the post, once it’s written and you’re ready for it go out – you can either post it immediately, if that’s what you want to do (I wouldn’t as this is what we’re talking about scheduling posts here for) or you can schedule it for a specific time and date…
Within the post editor itself, head over to the right hand side where you’ll see the “Document” section.
Click on the “Status & visibility” tab and it will open up the “visibility” and “publish” options.
Under the “publish” option, choose a date and time you want to schedule your post for and then click on the big blue “Schedule” button!
It will then come up with a confirmation screen, making sure this is when you want the post to go out (date & time).
Click on “Schedule” and it’s all set up and ready to go.
You’ll then get a final confirmation stating it’s all scheduled to go out on the time and date chosen.
That's it – super simple!
Now you just need to write some posts to actually schedule…
Writing your first Blog post!
This is an exciting time – writing your very first blog post!
You’ve come so far in your blogging journey already, because you’ve set a whole blog up from scratch and now you’re ready to get some content on there.
Before you launch your blog, you ideally want to have between 3-5 posts already on your blog.
Putting a blog post together comes in stages:
- Preparing your post
- Writing your post
- Editing your post
The PWE as I call it… (Prepare, Write, Edit)
Concentrate on preparing your post properly and writing will be something you can flow through and enjoy.
As long as you think about who you’re writing for, what you want to tell them and how you’re going to structure your post, you’ll make the process for yourself a lot easier.
The first posts you should always start with, are your Pillar Posts…
I have my 3 “Pillar” posts, which are on my homepage and are the lengthy, in-depth posts!
Pillar Posts are the foundation posts which support your blog and are usually larger posts with between 1000-2000 words.
They’re the posts written on topics which are actionable, engaging and will help your readers the most.
They’re also posts built to withstand time – the ones which can be updated and added to whenever required!
All other blog posts stem off the pillar posts and usually you’ll find many interlinks between pillar posts and all the other content you write, because the pillar posts will be referred back to over & over again.
You’ll probably find that once your blog has been going for a while, the pillar posts are the ones which generate you the most traffic!
Writing blog posts will eventually become a rinse and repeat cycle, as you’ll follow the same methods (whether it be mine or you create your own).
It will get easier and you’ll get more confident, the more posts you write.
Practice makes perfect so they say…
Earlier on in the post you brainstormed some ideas for blog posts.
Now you’ll need to take one of those ideas and plan out your blog post.
I can’t stress to you enough how it will make your life so much easier, if you plan your blog posts out!
I know you want to just sit down and start typing whatever comes into your head (I want to do this so bad sometimes), but not planning your posts out properly can end up wasting a lot of your time.
I mentioned how I have this on my Toolbox page as well, but I always, always have a disclosure for using affiliate links within my posts too.
I place it at the top of my post, before the reader gets into it!
This covers me and also let’s my readers know that if they do purchase something via one of the links within my post, I’ll receive a small commission from this, at no additional cost to them.
You have to be honest and transparent with them, or you could get into trouble. Also it's just courteous to let them know…
Purpose of the Post
Before I start writing anything, I always think about what the purpose of the post is going to be, because every post should have a purpose, which aligns with your blogs overall strategy…
Whether it’s to solve a certain problem, get a discussion going or getting them to download your amazing freebie – each post should always have a plan!
Look at these 3 things to determine your blog posts purpose:
- Why are you writing the post? (is it to get affiliate or product sales, more traffic etc).
- What do you want to get out of the post? (more email subscribers, sales etc).
- How is the post contributing towards your blogs overall goals? (reaching those subscribers & money goals etc).
I always hate the whole “Keyword Research” thang…
It’s been drummed into me (and everyone else) that researching Keywords is all you need to think about when it comes to having great blog posts and getting seen in the search engines…
But that’s simply not true!
Yes you should have a look at what keywords you want to have in your post (a couple of long-tail keywords will do) but you don’t need to get stressed and overwhelmed trying to find the right ones…
Long-tail keywords – What are they?
The screenshot below was taken from “Yoast”.
It explains perfectly what long-tail keywords are…
If you let it, keyword research can end up being extremely time consuming (and a waste of time) if all you’re doing is trying to find the perfect keywords.
Your time is much better spent writing an awesome blog post from the heart, rather than having the keywords at the forefront of your mind.
Keyword research should NOT be your main focus…
Making your content relevant, on topic and the best out there, is what’s going to make you stand out from everybody else and rank higher.
That doesn’t mean to say though you should neglect checking out keywords for your topic…
I use the Keywords Everywhere tool (for Chrome) which I touched upon earlier, to help me find relevant keywords and also the Google Keyword Planner, both of which you need to sign up for, but they are free to use.
I’ve also just found out that Yoast offers a “Google Suggest Expander” so I’m going to check this one out as well…
That’s all I’m going to say about keywords because although they are important, they’re not the main focus of writing posts…
Use bullet points throughout your posts.
Not only does it make it easier for your readers, but it breaks things down into sections of bite size chunks!
Having a ton of text on a screen, with no images or breaks makes it super difficult for readers to stay engaged and interested…
You don’t want readers to get bored of your longer posts, which are going to be full of text.
Just because you’re explaining something in depth, doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, colourful and pretty to look at as well.
Linking to Social Media Platforms
It’s a good idea to have links to your social media platforms within each post.
I use the Divi Layout Block (within the Gutenberg editor) or the Divi Social Media Follow Module (already mentioned previously) to add my social media buttons simply and easily within my posts.
I use the “Floating Sidebar” option, as in the screenshot below, where they just float at the side of the screen all the time (this is used with a plugin called Grow by Mediavine formerly Social Pug).
And also within my posts too…
You can add them wherever you fancy!
I usually like to have them at the end of the post, just before the comments section and this is added via a module in the Divi theme (see below image).
The great thing about Divi is, it lets you place social media buttons on posts and pages, or not, if you don’t want them there…
I also like to have the social buttons in my footer bar (these were added when I custom created my footer).
It’s so easy, because you just add in whichever social platform link you want!
Call to Actions
A call to action is exactly what it says on the tin “A call to take an action”.
It is designed to drive your readers to take action (on whatever it is you want them to)…
A good call to action leaves your readers feeling compelled to click, because they are intrigued and want to know more.
Call to Actions are called “CTA’s” for short in the blogging biz!
So what can a CTA be:
- A freebie download in exchange for an email address.
- Asking your reader to leave a comment.
- Having a Quiz for them to take.
- Asking for a social share.
- Getting them to read more, with a “Read More” button.
- Asking them to join your newsletter.
- Links for readers to click on to be taken to further posts/websites or downloads…
The list is endless as you can have pretty much anything as a CTA…
I use lots of different CTA’s…
I have links for printables readers can download.
I have my primary & main freebie download, which goes at the bottom of each of my posts.
I also link to other blog posts, where I feel it can help my readers even more.
It also helps with Google ranking and your SEO…
Once you have several posts, you could also have related posts under your articles, to keep people on your site for longer.
Every blog post you write should always have at least one Call to Action.
Don’t let a reader leave without asking them to do something!
Have a clear structure for your posts
I find it easier to have some kind of structure when putting my posts together.
Yes, not all your posts are going to be uniform all the time, but if most of them can, it’s easier for you who’s writing them and your readers, who’ll get to know the look and feel of your posts when they’re reading them.
My posts all have the title, then a quote, my “What you’ll learn” introduction paragraph, my affiliate disclaimer, a pin image and then the actual blog post content etc…
I like to set mine out this way as they feel clean, structured and to the point.
I also use the same fonts and font sizes throughout (different ones for normal text and heading text).
Again, it keeps it looking uniform across my whole blog…
Get yourself a Graphic’s Creator
Blogging involves a lot of images and graphics.
My blog is full of screenshots, Pin images, featured images, stock photos, vector graphics, icons… (and breathe lol).
Creating them though is one of my favourite parts of blogging.
I don’t really think of myself as very creative, but when you get me in front of my computer on a “creating images” day (yes, I do call them that lol) I get super immersed and passionate.
I love being able to create unique graphics and watching my posts transform from boring pieces of text, to beautiful, colourful posts & pages.
It’s truly amazing what images can do for your blog!
I know when I check out a blog post, I love it when there’s screenshots to help and colour.
It just feels a lot nicer for me to read!
There are tons of tools out there you can use…
But I’m only going to mention the two that I use myself.
Canva & (Canva Pro)
Canva is an amazing tool for creating graphics.
You can do so much with it and create anything you can think of…
Not only can you design things from scratch, but it also has a ton of templates for everything you can use…
You can see from the screenshot above that it has 50,000+ templates to choose from, in all kinds of categories…
I get lost in looking through all the beautiful designs sometimes.
Canva is free to use, although as with many services, it has a PRO version!
The FREE version of Canva offers the following (and it’s a lot):
- 8,000+ templates
- Hundreds of thousands of free photos + graphics
- 100+ design types
If you can’t find something amongst all that, you’re crazy lol!
Canva Pro however, does it all and you can get a 30 day free trial when you sign up!
- Upload your own fonts & logos & 500+ premium fonts.
- Download PNG images with transparent backgrounds.
- Background remover with one click (great for photos).
- Animation + Gif creations.
- 4+ million free photos, graphics, icons and illustrations.
- Unlimited folders to organize your designs.
- 100GB of storage.
- Resize your designs to any format in one click.
- Brand Kit – create logo, fonts and colour palette.
- 60,000+ free templates.
- Build a team and have unlimited members.
I always say if you can start with something for free – do it until you can afford to upgrade!
The thing with Canva is, I used the free version for a long time and then I decided the time had come to upgrade to Canva Pro.
It just offers so much more and I wanted something which was simple to use and had a lot of functionality..
If you want to learn how to use Canva for creating freebies and printables, you can do so by checking out my post here!
Powerpoint is another extremely powerful software for creating and designing.
When I first heard of PowerPoint, I thought it was just for creating slide deck presentations, but boy was I wrong…
It can do so much and I’ve created pretty much all my printables & infographics using it.
Above are some of the printables and graphics I’ve created in PowerPoint.
You can do loads with it and it comes with shapes, icons, SmartArt, WordArt, animations and so on and so on… so many options to create fab graphics, printables – whatever you want!
I wanted to mention PowerPoint as I know a lot of people have the Microsoft package already.
You don’t need to go and buy it though, because Canva is free to use and you can do almost all the same stuff in there.
Make sure your blog posts are relevant to your niche
The last point I want to mention when it comes to writing your first (and all) posts – is to make sure it’s relevant to your niche…
This is extremely important when you’re first starting out, because every blog post needs to have a focus in order to find an audience.
Branching out and talking about things completely off topic will cause your blog to fail (at least it will in the beginning).
People usually head to a blog to find certain information they’re after and it’s easier for them to establish a relationship with you if they know from the off, what it is you’re actually talking about…
You need to make it easy for them to know what you’re about, as soon as they hit your blog!
If your blog’s about “Cooking to Lose Weight”, then make sure all your content is related to this.
For example – having posts like “How this delicious curry will help you lose 5lbs” (I’m not sure many curry’s will do this lol) and “Use these 10 ingredients in every dish to shed that baby weight” are related to your core niche…
Keeping the content on track with your topic will help you become established as an expert, so people will want to keep coming back.
When you’re an expert and you recommend products and services, people will listen to you and want to purchase the things you recommend.
This is a great way to get those affiliate sales which help monetize your blog!
Once you’re more established, you can branch out into other things if it feels right to do so, but when getting yourself off the ground, sticking with the one niche and topic is a good idea!
Completing the Yoast SEO Plugin Info!
Now that you have a blog post or posts written, we need to add in the information to the Yoast SEO plugin…
This is what’s going to help you rank in the search engines and should be completed for every single post you write.
THIS SHOULD ALWAYS BE DONE AFTER YOUR POST IS WRITTEN… IN THE EDITING STAGE…
Once installed, it usually places itself at the bottom of your blog post.
There are three things you need to complete:
- Focus Keyphrase
- Meta Description
Let’s look at them now, so you know how to fill them out.
The screenshot above shows all the sections we’re going through below, as you’ll see them in your dashboard.
This is the phrase that you want to rank for in Google, when people are searching on the internet.
It can be one word, but is usually a few words, which is classed as a long-tail keyword (which we touched upon briefly, earlier in the post).
You want to include your keyphrase in places such as an introduction, titles, headings and subheadings and your meta description (which we’ll talk about in a minute).
So for example: if we’re writing a post about “10 things to do before bed to get a better night’s sleep” we could have the following kinds of keyphrases:
- 10 things to get a better night’s sleep.
- Sleep better with these 10 things.
- Wake up feeling refreshed after doing these 10 things.
The slug is the part of the URL which tells people what the content is about on that post/page (not the creature leaving a trail of slime everywhere it goes lol).
In order to boost your SEO as best you can, you need to write a good slug…
You can do this by adding your keyword into it and making it short, simple and descriptive.
You don’t have to include words like “the”, “and”, “a” etc… but you do need to make sure the slug makes sense.
The meta description is usually one or two sentences long and is there to get someone to click on your link.
An ideal meta description is short, sweet, can contain things like a call to action or your keyword, but it conveys the message of what your blog post/page is about!
It needs to match the content within the page/post you’re matching it too, otherwise you’ll probably have a high bounce rate (the % of people who come onto your site and then leave, rather than viewing other pages).
155 characters is what’s considered an ideal length at this point in time, however, you can have whatever you feel is right..
As you can see from the screenshot below, a green bar comes up when it’s the right length.
If it goes over, that bar goes to orange…
Once you have written the description, you can preview it as a mobile or desktop preview.
Assign it to a Category
It’s also important to assign your blog post to categories, as it makes it easier for readers to find things they’re interested in and looking for.
I have a few categories which are all relating to the topics I write about on my blog…
The Divi theme automatically places the Categories menu at the side (or bottom) of my post dashboard!
You can add new categories right here on the screen. You simply click on “+ Add New Category” and then type in the name you want and click the “Add New Category” light blue button.
A tag is a word or two which describes the content within your post.
It’s important to add these tags in for every post you write.
There is such a thing as overuse of tags and Yoast says here, that you shouldn't use tags which don’t relate the current post to any others on your blog!
Tags should not just be made up, they should be keywords that people search for, so think about what other posts the one you’re currently writing, relates to.
Tags should be gone through regularly and updated, as and when you add new content to your blog!
To add a tag > go to Posts > click on the post you want to add them to > see the “Tag” menu on the right hand side…
It’s so easy as you type in the tag words you want to use and click “Add”.
They’ll then show up in a list below the add box.
That’s all you have to do to add tags!
The final element I want to talk about in writing your first blog post, is how to add a Featured Image (even though I don't actually use Featured Images myself currently).
Setting a Featured Image for your blog posts is a great way to give an idea on what the post is about.
People love to visualize things and a good image can intrigue your readers to continue reading the post.
The best kinds of images are original, if you can, but you can use Creative Commons stock images and photos.
Creative Commons is a licence that enables free distribution for work done by others.
If an author wants to give rights to other people to share, use and make modifications to their work, this licence allows them to do so.
I only really use Canva Pro, because they have over 60 million (yes you heard that right) premium stock images, photos, videos and graphics, which is more than enough for all my blogging needs!
Adding a Featured Image
To add a featured image, there’s a menu at the side of the blog post dashboard…
The image will usually show near your post title, but this depends entirely on what theme you're using.
If you are using Divi, it has the option to have a “full width post title” module or a “regular width post title”.
They both do the same though, except one is full width…
Here you can change what you want to show:
- Comments Count
- Featured Image
- Featured Image placement
It’s really versatile and you can show whatever options you like.
With regards to the Featured Image, you have a couple of options of how you want the title to appear:
- Below Title
- Above Title
- Title/Meta Background Image
The screenshot below is the image below the title.
This next image is the image above the title.
And the final image is the title/meta background image. This one is where the title is over the image and can look really nice with the right image.
If you're using the Gutenberg editor, then you can add a “Divi Layout” block and choose the “Post Title” module within there.
The final thing I want to mention when writing your blog posts, is whether you want to have a sidebar or not.
Sidebars can be added to posts and pages, but you can choose whether you want them on each post/page you create.
Sometimes you may want one and sometimes not!
They can be placed in multiple areas, depending on your theme.
They’re known as “Widget-Ready” because you can add things into them with a drag and drop motion!
As you can see in the image above, there are many different widgets you can have.
There’s options for a sidebar and footer areas too.
Your theme may also allow you to have the sidebar on either side of the page, vertical or horizontal…
You simply just drag and drop the widgets you want into the area you want them to show.
You can see in the images below that the widgets within the sidebar match the ones on the blog post page…
You can also decide not to have a sidebar at all.
This is done from the menu under “Divi Page Settings”
I haven’t got any sidebars at the moment, but that’s not to say I won’t in the future.
I just don’t have a need for one right now.
A lot of bloggers use them to advertise products and services, to show things like their recent or popular posts and to have their archives etc…
It all depends on what your blogs needs are, as to what you want to display…
Freebies, also known as Opt-Ins, Giveaways, Sign-Ups, Lead Magnets, incentives and Free gifts…
They’re all the same thing – something which is given away to your readers for free, in exchange for an email address!
Creating your Freebie!
Creating a freebie is where you can really let your creative juices flow.
As people, we love getting something for FREE – it’s human nature…
Bloggers tend to use freebies to entice readers to join their mailing lists!
A freebie is offered in exchange for an email address (and this is done using an email marketing software, which I’ll talk more about in the next section).
I always LOVE giving things away to my readers and I often have more than one freebie per blog post.
Not only do I love creating them, I feel great knowing that I’m giving away valuable information, that can be used, implemented and taken action on…
I put just as much love and care into my freebies as I do for something I’d sell.
Just because you’re giving it away for free, doesn’t mean it should be a load of rubbish.
Never treat your freebies as tat!
Bad freebies will mean people won’t touch your paid products.
Make readers think that if the free stuff is great, then the paid stuff would be unreal…
As explained in the section above, I use Canva Pro and PowerPoint to create all my freebie giveaways!
Canva even has a Design School, with tutorials to help you learn how to create awesome projects.
I use a mixture of templates, which I customize and change to make my own (Canva Pro), next to creating graphics and freebies from scratch (usually within PowerPoint).
This can take a lot of time to start with (especially if you’re a bit of a perfectionist like me) but as you create more and more, you’ll get quicker and more confident in your creative skills!
Freebie creation will then become a natural process alongside every blog post!
It really is a lot of fun to do and you can let your imagination run wild!
I’m not going to show you exactly how to create a freebie using these tools within this post, as I’m going to do separate posts at a later date – it would also make this already very lengthy post even lengthier.
Try and think about the following things when creating your freebies:
- Always create something to give away, which is relevant to your blog and niche.
- Try and create a freebie for each blog post (this could be a Content Upgrade) and is something which reflects the post content, but gives your readers that bit more – a bonus piece of content… It also sees you staying fresh with the freebies you’re giving away.
- Add your freebies to your homepage, within blog posts and in the sidebar!
- Don’t create a freebie which is too long or too short.
- Keep it to the point and ALWAYS give something which can help your readers.
- Put time and thought into your freebies – plan them out as you would a blog post (although it won’t need to go into as much depth as a blog post plan).
What kinds of things can you have as a Freebie?
There are many different things you can create as a freebie…
- Video Courses
- Email Courses
- List of Resources
- Transcripts to a video or audio recording
- Quick start guide
- Case Studies…
Plus many, many more ideas…
You can literally giveaway anything, as long as it’s of value and helps your readers!
So go ahead now and think of one thing you can create to compliment your blog posts!
Put in the time and effort to create something really great, that you’re proud to give away.
This will be your main, primary freebie and can feature anywhere on your blog…
Mine is my “What Should You Blog About” printable, as this will help any new mums with the first step, when they’re new to blogging.
Once you’ve created a freebie, you’re ready for the next stage, which is getting yourself an email marketing platform – a must for any blogger who is taking this seriously…
Just Checking In on you!
How you hanging in there lovely…
I know this is one of the biggest, craziest blog posts you've probably come across…
It's a huge amount to take in and put into action, but I know you can do it and we only have a few more things left to cover!
This post was never meant to be done in one sitting, as it takes time to create things and put everything into place.
You're so close to the finishing line of having your own beautiful blog set up and ready to take you into your blogging future…
I couldn't go through this post without checking in with you regularly. to make sure you're ok 🙂
And you can reach out to me at any point!
Getting an Email Marketing Platform to start growing your Email List + Adding a ConvertKit form to your blog post!
So, what is an Email Marketing Platform?
It's a piece of software which is used to collect email addresses and helps you create and send your own email messages out.
This is just a brief overview of what they do.
They do a whole range of other things including:
- Landing page creation
- Form creation
Its a software that can deal with all your email marketing needs!
Collecting emails and building up your “subscriber list” as it’s called in the blogging world, is something you need to be doing right from the very start!
I’ve heard so many bloggers say that if they could do one thing over again – it would be to start building their email list right when they began their blogging career!
It’s an extremely powerful strategy and one where you can offer your readers a great freebie in exchange for their name and email address (just like we talked about above).
The idea is, you give away a free gift and then send them weekly or monthly emails etc (depending on what you want to do and what suits your blog niche and goals) where you can share other great content and inform them of products and services you recommend…
It’s a way of staying in touch with them and building a relationship and many subscribers stay on their bloggers lists for years.
If you always give great content and genuinely help your readers wherever you can, you’re going to build sustainable relationships with your audience.
Give, Give, Give and it will come back to you…
So who do I use for my email marketing?
I use a company called ConvertKit…
I’ve used loads of different email marketing platforms over the years and there are many out there to choose from including:
However, ConvertKit is the one I absolutely LOVE…
It’s not the cheapest option out there, but it’s definitely not the most expensive either.
It’s also the simplest and easiest one I’ve ever used and that makes a huge difference to me.
The interface is also extremely simple and easy to navigate around, which you need it to be, as you’ll be in it a lot once you get going…
It's just started giving a free option, where you can build landing pages and forms for free!
This is so cool and was only introduced in 2019.
Once you’ve built up a bit of a list and want to start emailing them, you can upgrade your account to access all the fab features ConvertKit has to offer!
If there’s one piece of advice I can offer, it’s to pay for an email marketing provider as soon as you’re able to afford it.
It’s one of the paid tools I can’t stress enough, you should have, because it’s the tool which is probably going to help you make the most money over time!
A free platform that’s great to use is Mailerlite and is also fairly simple to get to grips with…
If you start out with a free option, when the time comes for you to move on to a paid one, you’ll need to move all your subscribers over to a new platform (if you don’t stay with your current free choice).
Mailerlite has a paid option so if you do start out with them, you can go onto the paid version at a later date and not move everything.
Everyone is different and it’s a case of seeing which platform you like and get on with.
They all pretty much do the same thing, just to different levels and ease!
I’m going to run through how ConvertKit works, as it’s the one I use and know about…
How does ConvertKit work?
The way an email marketing provider works is to connect with your blog using embedded forms and landing pages.
It can also be done via API (Application Programming Interface), where you use your account name & key to connect the two!
If you’re going to use the API (which you probably will), you’ll need to install the ConvertKit plugin first.
If you go to the plugins section from your dashboard and click on “Add New”, then type in ConvertKit, it will come up!
Install it and head to the “General Settings” for ConvertKit and enter in the API Key and API Secret and save changes…
This then links your blog and your ConvertKit account together!
When you sign up for an account, you can find the account details under your “General” account settings.
This is where your “API Key” and “API Secret” details are.
They’re the options you have to connect your blog to ConvertKit.
There are also many ways you can add opt-in forms into your content and have people sign up to your email list…
Creating an Opt-in form in ConvertKit
Once you have a freebie created, an opt-in form can be added to your blog.
There are many types of opt-in forms and the options ConvertKit offer are:
- Pop Ups
- Sticky Bars
All these options can be used throughout your blog.
It’s a case of testing them all out and seeing what converts the most readers into subscribers!
It’s also a lot of fun creating different forms and seeing how they work…
ConvertKit is the email marketing software I use, however, most email marketing platforms offer these form types.
So you need to start by creating a form.
I’m going to run over this very, very briefly…
You’ll want to spend some time playing around with the form types and getting to know what they do and how they work!
Once you’re signed in and on the ConvertKit dashboard, click on “Landing Pages & Forms”.
Scroll down and click on “Create New”
Then choose whether you want to create a form or a landing page…
For the sake of this tutorial, I’m going to choose a form and the “Inline” type.
Then you can choose from a number of beautiful templates (all fully customizable).
I’ve just gone for the simple “Mills” form.
The first thing I always do is name my form, as when you start creating more and more, you’ll want to be able to find it straight away.
You then have the chance to customize the whole form and get it exactly how you like it.
Before we get into it, you can see from the two images below what the form looked like before and after all the customization's.
I wanted to place this here now, so you can see the difference. I didn’t put a ton of effort into it, because I just wanted to show the basics and what could be done.
There are four sections to customize:
- Incentive Email
- Advanced Settings
The Styles section is where you can change:
- Background colour
- Border radius
- Have a background image if you like
- Change the background opacity
I’ve changed the background colour and the border radius to show you how it looks.
This is where you can change:
- Custom Domain
- Page URL
- When a visitor subscribes to the form
Here I’ve not touched the “Custom Domain” or the “Page URL” section as I want to redirect to another page, so I’ve left these blank.
If you want to set up a Custom Domain, you can check out the details here of how to do it!
I’ve checked the “Redirect to an external page” under the “When a visitor subscribes to the form” and added in a URL for a “Confirmation” page I created.
I want people to receive this confirmation page once they’ve signed up, as it gives them instructions of what they need to do.
You can see from the one I created, that it makes reference to the freebie they’ve opted in for with an image – so they can see what they’re getting, and details of what to do next to get the freebie!
The checkbox is usually ticked by default on this option in Convertkit, because it’s extremely important and recommended you use it.
Within the blogging industry, there’s a thing called:
Single Opt In” vs “Double Opt In
Single opt in is where a person enters their name and or email address, clicks a button to get a gift and they’re automatically added to your email list – knowingly or not…
Some bloggers still use this method still, because they want to make the process for their reader as simple and quick as possible.
The thing is, nowadays we’re all so protective of our information and with all the data protection (especially GDPR General Data Protection Regulation that’s been introduced in Europe since May 2018), most tend to go for the double opt in to protect themselves.
Double Opt In is where an incentive email gets delivered to the person when they click the button and they have to physically go into their inbox and confirm they want to be added to your email list.
It seems like a long winded process, but it really isn’t and for the sake of your reader taking a couple of extra minutes to do this, you’re not only making sure they’re happy to receive further emails and information from you, you’re making sure your email list is full of people who actually want to be there.
Subscribers who confirm are more likely to open and read your emails and it protects you from spammers.
To do it, you’ll need to check the “Send Incentive Email” box and click on “Edit Email Contents”.
Then go ahead and create a really awesome email (you can see the one I use below).
ConvertKit has a help tutorial here as well for you…
You can then choose either the “URL” option and enter in a URL link you want them to be taken to OR, select the “Download” button and “Choose a File” to upload (which is what I do).
This will be the freebie that you want to give away…
Finally we get to the “Advanced Settings” where you can decide what you want to happen when return visitors click on something they’re already subscribed to.
I have it clicked on “Show Custom Content” and just have a simple sentence saying you’re already subscribed!
You can also click on the “Invisible reCAPTCHA” as this makes sure the people who are signing up are human lol, with the little “I'm not a Robot” box!
You can read more about this here…
All the Styles – Header Styles, Subheader Styles, Field Styles, Button Styles, Guarantee Styles & Powered by Convertkit…
Once all the main components are completed for the form to work, you can now customize the actual style of the form…
The header and subheader styles are where you make the form come to life, because you change the text to say what you want it to…
Do a bit of research and see what other people’s opt-ins are like on their blogs, as this can give you some inspiration for how to word things and how they make them look with images and graphics etc (remember to not copy though as you’ll get into trouble).
I’ve found a couple of great examples of opt-ins, on some of the blogs I love…
They're all different, unique and have a clear call to action…
Back to our form – the header style is super simple to change and you can change the font size, colour and weight.
You can also change what the header says here as well, so really think about what you want to say and what message you want to convey to your readers, to get them to subscribe…
You also change the text here for the subheader along with the font colour and size.
Again, think carefully about what your wanting to say and make sure the subheader compliments the header.
This is a custom field box you can add in, if you want to have a person enter their name when subscribing…
You can just have an email address when setting up this section of the form, which a lot of bloggers do, or you can have a first name as well.
It’s entirely up to you, although you must have the email address – obviously lol!
I like to have the name and email address fields, because of the personal touch of sending out an email and addressing my subscriber personally with their name.
I feel it builds a better relationship and makes your subscriber feel like you're talking to them and them only.
This is how I like to receive my emails from the bloggers who’s lists I’m on also.
I like the “Hi there Leah…” at the beginning of the email, because it feels more personal.
This is the email address box where you can change the font colour, border colour, border radius and font weight…
I tend to leave the border radius and font weight as is, but amend the colours of the font and border to match my brand!
The button is one of the main elements that stands out to someone, when they’re checking out an opt-in.
Have a bold, popping colour and one which is consistent with your brand!
We talked about brand colours a lot earlier on in this post and how important they are for your whole blog.
Colours believe it or not do have an effect on whether people click on things.
There’s even research to back this up…
It's a case of trying and testing out different colours and seeing what works for you.
I’ve used red in the tutorial, as it’s a bright bold colour, which attracts a lot of attention.
Change the text to something urgent and appealing. Something which grabs your readers attention, so they just have to click!
You need to be authoritative, to the point and draw attention to the button…
You want to influence your readers with what they see and read…
You can read some more about this here.
I never touch this part of the form because I like what it says and it's letting your readers know that you won’t spam them and that they can unsubscribe at any time!
This should ALWAYS be kept on all your forms…
Powered by ConvertKit
The final element on the form is the little link at the bottom, which simply says “Powered by Convertkit”
I leave this on all of my forms, because if someone clicks on it, it’s linked to my affiliate account with Convertkit and I’ll receive a small commission if one of my subscribers joins…
Once you’ve done all this – you’re done and you can save the form. You can save as you go along as well, which I highly recommend, incase your computer jams up and you lose everything!
So now you have a form created, we need to place it on your blog…
Adding your ConvertKit Opt-In Form to a Blog Post
Adding your ConvertKit form is super simple to do and there are a couple of ways you can do it!
I've included ConvertKit’s tutorial page on this as well, for any extra help you may need.
1 – Setting a Default form for all pages and posts
This is done under the ConvertKit Settings within your dashboard.
You select a form from the list (if you have more than one form) and this will appear on all your posts and pages by default.
2 – Setting a form for an individual post
This option is where you choose a specific form per blog post and page.
This is definitely the better option, because once you start creating more and more freebies and opt in forms, you’re not going to want the same one showing all the time.
You also have the option here to have no form showing at all, which a lot of pages may require.
You scroll down to the bottom of the editor from within the post (you must have the ConvertKit plugin installed to do this) and then simply click on the list and “Update”.
This will then save the form into this post, which you created over in ConvertKit.
You can see in the above screenshot what it looks like when this action has been taken.
So that’s how you create your Convertkit form and add it to your blog posts.
We’re now going to look at how to create an email optin form, using the module for this within Divi.
Adding an opt in form to your blog post using the “Email Opt-In” module from Divi
To add an opt in form to your blog post, go to the post within the dashboard that you want to add the form, and add a “Divi Layout” block.
Next, add in the “Email Optin” module…
An opt in box will then come up and you’ll need to customize this to say what you want it to.
Make sure it’s enticing, lets your reader know what it is they’ll get and how it will help them!
Once you’ve customized it, you need to click on the “Email Account” under the “Content” tab.
Select who your email client is (mine is ConvertKit so I’ve selected this one from the list) and which list you want the email address to be added to.
The next tab to go onto is the “Fields” tab and you can make sure the “Name” option is selected.
And finally, the “Success Action” tab is where you can decide whether to display a message when someone signs up, or whether you want to redirect them to a URL (which is what I do as I redirect them to a thank you page).
You can now see the full blog post with this email optin module used…
I also made two more videos showing how to add ConvertKit opt-in forms to your posts.
The first way is using a shortcode and the second way is by using a modal form, which is triggered by clicking a link…
How To Embed An Opt-In Form Using A Shortcode
How To Create A Modal Opt-In Form Using ConvertKit
I filmed these additional videos so I could show you all the options available for creating opt-in forms within ConvertKit.
Setting up any Social Media accounts and connecting them to your blog!
Pretty much all of us are on some kind of Social Media platform – if not all of them…
When you first start blogging, you want to stick to just one or two platforms.
Do some research and find out where your target audience is hanging out!
The idea is to get really good at being social and sharing your content on one platform and also build up an audience of raving fans.
You can learn all there is to know and really get to grips with it, BEFORE you move on to another platform.
Once you’ve decided which platforms to go with, you need to set up your accounts.
I’m not going through that at all, as you either know how to do this already, or you can find out how.
I have a Facebook Fan Page…
And a Pinterest business page…
And I’ve just set up an Instagram business account, as I want to start sharing content on there too eventually…
You’ll need to create some graphics for headers on some of the platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube).
Again, stick with your branding colours and fonts etc… and have something which is congruent and follows suit across all your platforms.
You want people to instantly know it’s you – and people do that by either recognising a photo of you, a logo, or a particular colour etc…
Once you’ve set up the social media accounts you’re going to be using, it’s time to add them into the plugins and blog posts/Pages!
Connecting Social Media Platforms to your blog
Social Media Module – Divi
Because I use Divi, there are modules that are built into the theme and page builder, to add social share buttons within posts and pages.
Divi uses the module called “Social Media Follow”
You simply click on the little settings cog and add whichever social media platform from the list and then “Add New Social Network”.
Then you can add the social media link.
Then click on the “Icon” tab and have the link target in the same window or open in a new tab (I always select open in a new tab).
There’s also an option for showing the follow button too…
There are many other elements you can customize, so play around and see what you like.
Here’s how it looks within the post…
Social Link Block – Gutenberg Editor
I also use the built in Gutenberg editor with Divi and you can add a “Social Link” block for social share buttons.
Once you have the block, click on each of the social media icons and enter in your social platform links.
There’s even a toggle button, so you can move the icons into whichever order you like!
Plus some other customization's, such as the “alignment” and icon style.
It’s amazing how much you can do with this free editor and with the drag and drop blocks, you can really create unique posts and pages.
Here’s the post with the social share buttons on.
Creating fab posts and pages is really awesome when you can mix it up with both the Divi builder and the Gutenberg editor!
I don’t know what I’d do without them both…
Grow by Mediavine (formerly Social Pug)
This is the social share plugin I use to have the floating sidebar buttons (I only use it for the floating sidebar buttons).
I’ve already explained how to set this up and use it under the “Adding Some Plugins” section within this post, so I’m not going to go over it again.
It’s super easy to do though.
All the Tools used within this post!
Because this has been such a loooooooooooong post, it’s so easy to forget all the tools used, so I thought I’d make it easier for you and list them all here…
I’ve listed EVERYTHING, so you can just click on the links and access them all.
As per the affiliate disclosure at the beginning of the post, some of these links will give me a small commission if you purchase through them.
- Microsoft Outlook
- Anti-Spam by CleanTalk
- All in One WP Security & Firewall
- Coming Soon Page, Under Construction & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics (formerly GADWP)
- Gutengerg Editor Plugin
- Social Sharing Buttons – Grow by Mediavine (formerly Social Pug)
- Shortlinks by Pretty Links – Best WordPress Link Tracking Plugin
- ShortPixel Image Optimizer Plugin
- Pin It Button On Image Hover And Post
- SG Optimizer
- Yoast SEO
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Free Generator
- A Self Guru
- Portents Idea Generator
- Blog Ideas Generator
- Keywords Everywhere
- Google Docs
- WP Scheduled Posts
- Google Suggest Expander
- Google Keyword Planner
I don’t think I’ve forgotten any, but you never know with a list that long 🙂
Blog Launch Checklist!
Oh my goodness, you’ve done it my lovely…
You’ve set up your blog and written your very first post(s).
Congratulations from the bottom of my heart xxxx
You should be super duper proud of yourself and how far you’ve come.
I’m soooooooo proud of you and you definitely need to celebrate this huge milestone in your blogging journey…
So, it’s time to do a quick run through to make sure everything is ready to rock and roll…
Once you’ve done everything within this blog post (I know there’s so much involved when first starting out) you can then check out my Blog Launch Checklist!
Get the Blog Launch Checklist!
Go through it alongside this post as it will really help you to get your blog launched!
Launch Your Blog…
So, you’ve read this mammoth post and hopefully grabbed the Blog Launch Checklist (above)…
Now's the time for you to actually LAUNCH YOUR BLOG!
- Make sure you've published your first pillar post and scheduled your other two (or however many you have) for when you want them to go live!
- If you used the recommended maintenance mode plugin – it’s time to turn that baby off, so that people can find your blog in the bloggersphere!
Your blog is now live and on the internet for all the world to see…
You conquered problems, you pushed through the barrier of fear and made something amazing happen.
Your blog will bring you a whole lot of joy in helping others and hopefully an income in the future too (along with issues and other things you’ll have to overcome lol).
You got this far undeterred, so don’t give up when things get tough on the road ahead!
Keep showing up and you will make a difference to someone out there.
Consistency is the key to your success…
This is just the start…
You’ve set the blog up and now with dedication, motivation, hard work and patience, it’s time to turn it into something special.