Creating a blog is a great way to generate new business, increase your visibility in your market and to establish yourself as an expert in your field. But I know that if you’ve never created a blog before, the thought of creating one that not only works but also looks great and on-brand can be daunting.
As I’ve created quite a few WordPress blogs in my career, I’ve broken down the process step-by-step so you can do it too, easy-peasy. And it will all take under an hour to do, so in no time you’ll be ready to start creating some AWESOME content.
Here’s how to start a blog for your small business on WordPress in under an hour — free step-by-step checklist included!
1. Choose a name
What do you want your blog to be called? You might want it to the be named after your business, or you might want to have something a bit more creative, like mine (technically, my business’s name is Jessica Dante Consulting. BORING!)
Do a bit of a brainstorm of what you might like to call your blog and write all of your ideas down— brain dumps are the BEST. Once you’ve dumped (sorry, I couldn’t resist) then you’ll want to narrow the list down. Get rid of anything that doesn’t inspire you or you’re not that crazy about.
Once you have just a few strong options, you’ll want to do the following:
• Check if the URL is already being used. You can do this by using GoDaddy’s Domain Search, but also use Google to see if there are any close variations already being used.
• To save yourself money and embarrassment, write each name out as one word to make sure your URL doesn’t form any inappropriate or strange phrases. Example– WhoRepresents . com ….
• Check on social media to see if the corresponding usernames have already been claimed.
Finally, when you’ve narrowed your list down even more, run the names by some people you trust to see which ones they like— it’s great to get a second opinion from an outsider.
When you’ve chosen your name (YAY!) then let’s get started with actually getting your site and hosting.
2. Buy your domain and WordPress self-hosting
There are two types of WordPress blogs, one being free, but as a business owner who will be using this site to generate income, you’ll totally get that investing in self-hosted WordPress is the best way to go
The benefit of a self-hosted WordPress blog is that you have so much more functionality than the free WordPress.com option, meaning you can add some funky plug-ins that will make your site do incredible things, create content that is much more likely to show up in Google, and much more.
Self-hosted WordPress is not as easy to use, but if you ever get stuck, someone’s already made a blog post or Youtube video to show you how to do LITERALLY anything you could possibly want with your site, so just Google your problem. This site, The Abroad Guide and Love and London are ALL on self-hosted WordPress.
Ok, you’re convinced? Great. So let’s keep going. Now you’ll need to buy your domain and hosting.
I’ve used GoDaddy for years and highly recommend getting your hosting and domain through them. Their prices are decent but why I stay with them is that their customer service is just incredible. When I was creating this site, there were some instructions I needed to follow that were just too tech-y for me to understand, so I gave them a call and the support guy walked through it step by step with me, and we even had a nice conversation about Italy while we were waiting for the final step to be finished! I’ve always had a great experience with GoDaddy.
Start off with choosing the Basic hosting package. This will be sufficient enough to get you going.
Once you’ve selected the Basic package, you’ll get the option to choose how long you’d like your term length to be. I’d recommend a minimum of one year, especially because GoDaddy will give you a free domain in the next step if you choose a term length of one year or longer, and usually it’s cheaper per month to go with a longer term too.
There are a couple more add-on options on this page, and these can vary depending on what type of promotions GoDaddy has on at the moment. I rarely add anything on at this stage, but read through them to see if anything is of interest for your particular business or situation.
The rest of the steps are pretty self-explanatory (you’ll choose your free domain name next), but make you find a promo code before you purchase! There are always GoDaddy promo codes floating around the internet, especially for new customers, so Google “GoDaddy promo codes” and get yourself a discount.
Once you’ve purchased (HOW EXCITING!!) then you’ll need to follow these easy steps to install WordPress for your site. Then you’re set!
Need a printable checklist to get this done? Keep reading!
3. Choose a theme or hire a designer
Now this is the fun part! There are SO many themes to choose from for your blog that you could be searching for days.
When it comes to choosing a theme, you’ll want it to fit in with your existing branding, if you have any. This is super-important— you want your customers to find your blog and immediately know it’s yours because of the look. You may want to consider investing in having a designer create a custom theme for you so that your branding doesn’t get lost in a generic WordPress theme.
If you don’t have strict brand guidelines yet or you’re just getting started with your business, then choosing pre-made theme is a great way to start branding yourself.
Where to find pre-made WordPress blog themes:
I recommend starting your search on ThemeForest, which has a pretty big selection and variety of themes. The themes I’m using for this site and The Abroad Guide were found on Themeforest. Although there are tons of options, you can filter by rating (IMPORTANT!), look, number of columns, and more.
If you’re looking for something simple, there are plenty of independent designers that sell pre-made templates. I purchased my theme for Love and London from Pipdig, which wasn’t very expensive and the designer behind it, Phil, is brilliant and so helpful, a big positive of working with an independent designer like him. You can also pay to make customizations to your theme, designers love to help you make your theme your own.
What to look for when choosing a WordPress blog theme:
• Responsiveness – make sure that the theme is mobile-friendly, and test it on your own phone/tablet before purchasing
• A clean and simple design— don’t get complicated, people like clean, simple and easy-to-use these days
• Good ratings, comments, and/or testimonials
• Has a blog capability — make sure it’s not just a one page theme with no option for blog content
There are plenty of free WordPress themes available, but one thing you should NOT skimp on when it comes to a blog for your business is a high-quality theme. It’s 100% worth the investment, and just as you wouldn’t let your physical store look like crap, you should treat your blog the same — it needs to give a great first impression.
Once you’ve purchased your theme, you’ll get instructions on how to install it on your blog— it’s easy, I promise!
4. Make a header image/logo
Some themes may come with a header design or logo already made for you– you can use that, but for branding purposes you should create your own. If you’re not a photoshop pro (I’m not!) use Canva or PicMonkey to design your header graphic, or ask one of your friends who does graphic design if they could create something for you.
Since your header image is probably the first thing that visitors to your site will see, make it count!
5. Create an About page and a Contact page
If someone randomly stumbles across your blog, they’ll want to know about the person and business behind it. Create an About page that lets visitors know who you are, what your business is, and how it can help them. Link to your social media accounts, your newsletter sign-up page, and everywhere else they can find you and your business. Include a photo of you too!
If you need some help with what to include on your About page, Melyssa from The Nectar Collective has a great About Page post you should read.
You’ll want a Contact Me page too, so people know how to get in contact with you, of course! Your contact page should be brief and succinct— you can include your social media channels again, answers to commonly asked questions, and how to reach you.
To create a page in WordPress, select the Pages tab in the left-hand navigation and then select “Add New”. Easy.
6. Add the Yoast SEO plugin
Yoast SEO is the first plugin you should set up on your WordPress blog. This is the plugin that will allow you to optimise your site and blog posts to show up in search results— HUGE.
To get it, navigate to Plugins in your WordPress left-hand navigation bar, click Add New, and search for Yoast SEO.
Once you’ve found it, click install, and then click activate plugin once it’s installed.
I’ll eventually create a super-simple post on how to set up this plugin, but for now, this video tutorial will help LOADS.
And that’s it— you’ve created a WordPress blog for your business in under 60 minutes! Now you’re ready to create and publish blog posts — ideally, you’ll want to have 5-10 posts already live on your site before you start to publicize it on social media, in your email newsletters, etc.