To kick-off our series of Ultimate Guides about what WordPress can do, we will start by showing you how to build a blog the easiest way possible. From hosting to writing your very first post! This tutorial is meant for people who have zero experience building websites, now you know!
People blog for many reasons, among these reasons are to express what they feel, share what they know, or maybe just to keep an online journal available for public viewing. Sounds neat, yes?
Don’t know how to build a blog?
Don’t know where to start?
Let us help you with this Ultimate Guide on how to Build a Blog. The only guide that you will ever need.
No coding necessary. Just you and a tiny bit of your time.
Table of Contents:
- How To Build a Blog
- Recommended WordPress Themes (Free and Premium)
- How to Install a WordPress Theme
- Recommended WordPress Plugins
- How to Install a WordPress Plugin
- Showcase of Blogs
- WordPress Tips
- How to Write Like Pro Blogger?
- The Shortest Web Design Guest Posting Guide You’ll Ever Need
- 23 Beautiful Premium Tumblr Themes for Your Tumblog
How to Build a Blog – Hosting and WordPress
A few reminders regarding self-hosted and free blogs:
- self-hosted blogs cost money, either monthly or yearly
- self-hosted blogs, in every sense, are more professional
- self-hosted blogs give you total control over features and scalability
- free blogs are, well, free and you won’t have to setup anything
- free blogs are the way to go if you’re just thinking of having an online journal, nothing serious
- free blogs have a set of fixed features – with this you won’t have to touch a single line of code
Self-hosted means you’ll have a domain name of www.yourname.com, while a free blog will give you yourname.blogspot.com. In any case, we will focus on self-hosted blogs in this guide.
Here’s a quick video on how to host your own blog and install WordPress:
There are thousands of WordPress themes out there, free and premium, and it will take you an entire week just to pick the one suited for your needs!
I’ve taken the liberty of selecting two premium themes and two free themes so you can get started easily.
Notes – $35
- Unlimited colors to choose from.
- Fully responsive template.
- Advertisement ready.
- 19 background patterns.
- Constant updates.
- Full support.
Wryter – $35
- Responsive design.
- Slideout sidebar.
- Image slider.
- Shortcodes plugin.
- Easy to customize.
Note on Free WordPress themes: there are shady free WordPress themes out there that have hidden spam links in their codes, and you won’t notice them until it’s too late (or you won’t notice them at all). These can hijack your WordPress blog or even be a risk to your data. So, always download from reputable sources. The two free WordPress themes I’ve listed below are clean and well-made. I highly recommend them.
Best – Free
- 8 widgetized areas that you can use to place text, code, video, image, or even forms.
- Built-in announcement bar (see above “Rean is on vacation!” text).
- Built-in Twitter stream near the footer.
- Fully responsive layout.
- Theme options page to customize the colors.
- Built-in image slider.
- Well, it’s totally free!
How to Install a Theme
Installing a WordPress theme is easy, all you need to do is login to your dashboard and hover your cursor on “Appearance” and a window will slide out, click on “Themes”.
After clicking on “Themes” a new page will appear. By default you will see two themes for the fresh installation. In order to install a new WordPress theme, you need to click on “Install Themes”.
Now you have two options:
- Install via upload
- Install via search
To install by uploading, of course you will need to download the WordPress theme files. After doing so, simply click on Upload.
The next steps will be pretty straightforward:
- after clicking upload, a new page will appear
- click on “choose file” and select your WordPress .zip file
- click “install now”
- followed by “Activate”
Your new WordPress theme is now ready!
For the setup of each plugin, it would be impractical to write a step-by-step guide for each of them since the authors of these plugins have written a guide themselves. All you need to do is follow the links and read the guides – in-depth and to the point!
The most recommended caching plugin for WordPress. What it does is it speeds up your blog, making your website a more desirable experience for every user. It can also save you bandwidth, as it minimizes the downloads and requests made by the user from your server.
Bandwidth is the amount of data your server can accommodate. The more people downloads or requests your website gets, the more bandwidth you are using. When you reach your maximum bandwidth, your website will run very slow and might even go offline.
You can find an in-depth installation guide for W3 Total Cache on the download page itself. It’s tedious, but the time you spend making it work will benefit you in the long run.
The best SEO plugin for WordPress to boost your website’s traffic from search engines. This is how people find your website based on your content and based on their searches. Based on your text content and keywords that you use, people will find you easier.
Everything from your first sentence, focus keyword, title, and page URL will help bolster your ranks on search engines. The plugin will straight up tell you what you need to do, especially under the Page Analysis tab. All you need to do is follow the instructions given.
The example above is a simplistic approach to things just to give you an idea of how it works. In reality, if you want to dominate search engines with your blog you will need to do keyword research and find the perfect keyword for you.
Social media buttons are a necessity today for websites to increase promotion across social media sites. How will people like or tweet or pin your blog post if you don’t have this cool floating bar right beside your blog post? It’s non-obtrusive and won’t make your blog run slow. I use it for my blogs!
LinkWithin is useful for blogs with tens to hundreds of posts to boast, as it shows thumbnails of related posts at the end of each blog post. This will help your readers discover more of your blog’s content!
Let’s admit it, the default WordPress commenting system is bland. With Disqus, you can encourage more discussions by activating numerous rewarding features, both for you and for the commenters.
How to Install a Plugin
Pretty much the same as you do with WordPress themes, you just need to hover on Plugins then click on “Add New”.
To upload a .zip file, just click on “Upload”.
Followed by choosing the file and installing it. After this, all you need to do is click “install now” and “activate”.
To install using the built-in search page, simply click on “Search” and type what you are looking for.
In my case I searched for “All in One SEO”.
So, from here on it’s simple to follow. Just click on “Install Now” and you’re all set!
Showcase of Blogs
Sacha Greif is a designer from Paris who now lives in Osaka, Japan. He wrote the book Step by Step UI Design.
Matt Mullenweg is a founding developer of WordPress. On his blog, Matt shares his thoughts about the online world and other personal stuff.
Patrick McNeil is a developer, author, and teacher. He owns the blog Design Meltdown and authored The Web Designer’s Idea Book series.
My blog, of course! (ahem, self promotion)
You can’t be certain what will happen to your website, so backing up your database and files on a separate location other than your server is highly recommended. It’s free and automatic!
2. How to Create a Favicon
What is a Favicon? Check your browser’s tab for 1stwebdesigner.com and you will see a small icon. You want to have one too? Sure!
- Faviconer – this is where you will create your favicon, or you can design it using Photoshop or Gimp, just be sure to keep a 16×16 or 32×32 size.
- FileZilla – an FTP client so we can install FileZilla. WARNING: don’t fiddle around here too much since you will be dealing with your website’s files directly. Any changes will affect your live website.
- Prepare your favicon (and don’t forget to name it favicon.ico).
- Using FileZilla, login to your FTP.
- Host: ftp.yourname.com (just change it with your own domain, prefixed by ftp).
- Username: you can find this under FTP of your Bluehost dashboard.
- Password: the password you used to login on your dashboard.
- Port: usually it’s port 21
- Once logged in, you will see a list of folders to your right. Click on public_html.
- Upload your favicon.ico here, replacing the default one.
- Wait for the file to propagate!
Find your FTP details here:
This is how FileZilla looks. Click on public_html to find your Favicon.ico.
Easy, right? Just be sure to not tell anyone what your password is! This is basically the brain of your blog!
3. Facebook Like Box
Want this on your sidebar? I’ll show you how!
Next is to fill up all the necessary fields and check/uncheck what you deem necessary.
After setting it all up, click on Get Code. A window will popup and you’ll just need to copy the code.
Hey, don’t judge. I’m lazy, so I just usually use the Iframe version. With HTML5 and the rest I’ll have to insert the code in two different locations, but with the Iframe version I’ll just have to paste it as a widget in my sidebar.
That’s it! You’ll soon see your Facebook like box on your sidebar.
What’s a Blog Anyway?
A blog is more of a general feel than a specific category. It can be used as a means of sharing your ideas and interests – be it personal or for a cause. There are people who blog for money, there are those who blog about their daily lives. It depends on how you want to use a blog.
A few types of Blogs:
- Personal – it speaks for itself. A blog where people share whatever is in their heads.
- Niche – a blog focused on a specific category, or a range of it such as 1stwebdesigner with the web design and web development categories.
- Micro-niche – micro-niche blogs are similar to niche blogs, only the topic is very specific. Example categories are: weight loss, TV reviews, power tools, meditation, and many more.
For the last two, people often leverage the traffic they receive and convert them into revenue via advertisements or affiliate sales.
Note on Recommendations
All of the items I have recommended here, save for the paid WordPress themes, have been personally used and tested by me. From the hosting provider down to the free WordPress plugins and tips. I know that they work really well, and I hope you’ll find the same thing true!
Be sure to read our article about the SEO.
Questions about your setup?
If you have questions about your setup don’t forget to comment below! I will try my best to help you!
If you have additional tips, feel free to post them below!
Now let’s go ahead to more advance blogging.
How to Write Like Pro Blogger?
This part will be all about how to start writing in the first place. We will cover how to find ideas, when to start writing drafts and more, to turn you into pro blogger.
The Writing Process: Getting Ready, Getting into the writing mood and how to avoid distractions
I cannot stress enough how important your work environment and actual writing workflow is. In this age of information overload there is always something to distract you — maybe you have turned on Skype, use an auto email checker, Facebook, Twitter, news reader – you name it!
With so many guest and full time writers working for 1stwebdesigner I have encountered many problems with time management. It’s no surprise, it’s super easy to get distracted. The industry has become very effective in getting your attention in no time. Get smart and effective yourself too!
That’s funny — you were here to learn how to write and here I am telling you now how to get ready to write? Foundations are super important so we will start small and work our way up over the course of this blogging series.
Writing: Where To Write And Start Drafting?
Ok, our work environment is ready, no distractions, our mood is fully optimistic and we want to start! You could hit the ground running right now and you’d get where you wanted to go…eventually. Wouldn’t it be more effective and faster to use a bicycle, bike or car instead? That’s what I’m going to teach you how to do…get where you want to go in less time.
It may not sound too exciting and finding the most appropriate way and platform to write is not always easy or fast, but it’s fully worth the effort in the long run to try different ones and find one that you like. It’s not a bad approach to start writing right away using your favorite WYSIWYG blogging platform, Word or Google Docs. It’s not a bad approach, but we want better; instead of a bicycle we would love to be driving a car right?
You’ll get what’s promised – a new, shiny car just like you wanted. Don’t worry, both Windows and Mac users will be satisfied.
- What are the cons of your current process and tools?
- Why it’s useful to have a desktop blogging editor
- Comparing online and offline solutions
- Innovative writing tools and interesting solutions
Find Article Ideas To Write About and How to Keep Up with the Industry
Step 3 – we’re excited, we have the best writing platform and tools for us to write…what now?
You guessed it, one of the biggest challenges…what to actually write about? In this article I will teach you how to:
- Be sure your topic is exciting not only for yourself but also for your readers
- Know what topics are currently trendy and popular
- Understand how to learn what other people struggle with and how to find a solution for them
I’ve even seen several blogs offering article ideas for people who struggle to find ones! How do you think they get those ideas? Well, of course they have experience and great interaction with their readers and because of this, people share ideas for articles they’d like to see through email, social networks, comments or old fashioned conversation. But what you can do to understand your community in the beginning?
I’ll share just a few ideas right now with you:
- Use social networks as Twitter and search for questions people are having there. If there are problems people need solutions for or questions they need answered you can be sure that they’ve looked on forums and search engines for just those things. Do you have an almost unfair advantage by being able to find out what problems and questions people in your community need solved? You bet!
- Stay open minded and engaged, always be looking for new article ideas as you’re reading news, talking with people, or communicating online.
- Read the top blogs in your niche, stay up to date with the news each day, follow people who break stories and know their industry!
Do Your Research: How and where to find content to work with
Let’s say you have your article idea already, but you really don’t know how many people have written about it, which blogs have written about it or how long ago they wrote about it? If a similar topic has already been covered maybe you can take a different angle then previous writers have. You’ll find out and realize almost every topic has been written about already, but you need to make use of it, understand what’s been done before and how you can differentiate yourself and stand out.
You need to do your research. Now.
Again this article won’t be just about doing research to help you write articles, it will also help you to do your market research. You have a new startup idea? How do you find your competitors or similar companies? You want to be sure your idea hasn’t been done before and you don’t want to repeat the same mistakes other companies may have, right?
Learn how to research your market, no matter if it’s for an article or a startup, everybody need to do their research. Here I will cover how to make use of search engines effectively, a typical Google search or Delicious bookmark search won’t always be enough. Sometimes you’ll want to dig really deep. I’ll cover innovative search engines and effective ways to bookmark and save information so that you can find it easily when you need it.
Blog Post Writing, Formatting: Make it Easy to Read and Scan
I may have mentioned before that it’s really important to write an article outline before writing the article. Do your research and write down the main points you will cover in article. It will make the writing process much easier later on and help you keep your articles more organized.
As you write down your main points, you can work on good formatting! People are suffering from information overload so you have to fight for their attention, the best way to get it is to make your content easy to scan. Writing content that gets peoples attention is really an art which is hard to master, but with the right foundations, which I will give you here, you’ll be better informed than most bloggers. Work to get that attention:
- make use of good and related images
- use bullet points
- interlink your content
- enrich content with good typography and clear content structure.
You’ll also learn about good resources to learn typography and be able to analyze good examples that I’ve found!
Power of Headlines: The Dummy’s Guide to Copy Writing
I will explain the importance of headlines right now – most people won’t even read your article if it doesn’t catch their attention! Sounds scary right? The one line of text that makes up your headline can often be more important than content you worked on for several hours!
This section will be one of the most important as it will help you get both your content read and get your content indexed for search engines.
Writing for search engines or readers?
How to make the right decision? Both of them are important and naturally a reader is much more important than a search engine! However, search engines bring in the most traffic for almost every website, even for 1WD it brings more than 70% of all our traffic!
Ok, before you get too confused to give the right answer, I’ll give it to you – you don’t have to choose! You can write for both your readers and search engines at the same time…but it’s not always easy of course! That’s the reason I dedicated a whole article to this topic. Remember it’s not only the first headline that is important, all other sub headlines in an article are as important as the first!
And that’s where we’ll start the dummy’s guide to copywriting!
Add Spice To Post – Get Feedback, Entertain Readers With New Approach
Your article is finally ready to be published, you may be wondering what now? Is it finished and ready to be shown to the world? Well, yes, it is. But, and there is always a but – you’ve wrote an interesting article now how do you get feedback or a conversation going? That’s what separates a great article from a good article, the conversation that it starts. Of course it depends what you wrote about. In my experience, and from what I’ve seen, the articles that get the most attention and comments are the ones that have at least one of the following things:
- Breaking story – news sites are getting huge attention just by being the first to announce some news
- Controversial opinion – write an opinion piece about something popular. If you’re going to do this though, write a smart article, do your research and back up your opinion. If you write controversial articles just to get attention, you lose credibility.
- New tools or sites no one knows about – this is new, it’s kind of related to breaking stories, but it’s all about just finding new and good solution for problem in your niche. People will be happy if offer fresh solutions to old problems rather than just writing a list of tools that other people have tried. A lot of useful new apps and websites are launching each day.
- Basically it’s all about providing value – put enough energy and efforts into your article research and you’ll be rewarded. You’ll get what you paid for!
- At the end I will also talk about unique and innovative social tools you can add to your blog to get extra attention,and more opportunities to interact with your readers. I was surprised how many I found, I bet you’ll notice 1WD using some of them in the very near future!
- One extra tip – add question at the end of article to get more feedback! People want to be heard and if you invite them to share their opinion, they will!
I will also cover tools like this, Apture for example is to keep readers glued to your site!
Taking Blogging To The Next Level: Guest Writers & Management & Scheduling, Proofreading
If you’re working alone and don’t ever dream about expanding, you can skip this article. If you are thinking about getting help and are open to guest writers you’ll need to work out some kind of management system – maybe at the beginning Skype and email communication may be a good solution, but it really isn’t. Skype can be a distraction, and not everyone has a reliable internet connection so sometimes even if you want to chat, you can’t. Emails rapidly become too clustered and important information and ideas disappear amongst the many email threads.
I want to offer better solutions to keep your team organized. Solutions and tools that I am using daily to take care of article scheduling, writing, and other aspects of 1WD. Growing a blogging business is not easy. It requires a lot of time management, multitasking and organization to take care of everything. This article will be for bloggers who want to grow, but don’t really know how. I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons along the way and have struggled with my time management a lot. I’ll share my experiences and show my current solutions which seem to be working, at least for now.
How To Find And Hire The Right People For Your Business
This is a really tough topic, because it can really make or break your business. I will focus on different hiring solutions including:
- Making use of social networks to hire
- Finding people from your reader base ( if you own a blog)
- Traditional job boards (which ones to choose based on your preferences)
- Innovative, interesting projects to find help
This is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what I will cover in this article. This article will be equally useful to both employers and potential employees! Maybe you are not searching for a job in the right place, or you don’t make good use of your already established contacts or simply don’t notice job offers on sites you love already! For example 1WD is also searching for smart and dedicated people to write for us, why don’t you join the team? Many people just don’t believe in themselves in the first place, but if you aim high, you always will get something better than you expected!
And now back to hiring process – I’ll help you determine what you really need for your business – freelancer, part timer or full timer! Every one of these choices has pros and cons, let’s find out what they are so you can understand what you need for your business!
Set Up Your Blog and Make Use of Fresh Tools to Save Time
Ah, this is classic – but I wanted to write this basic foundation article to show and explain how to get started! I did this article only because I think the way you should start is changing. WordPress isn’t always the best choice and there are many great new tools to make use of when you get started. This startup boom is changing the way we do things..then why not do them better right from beginning?
I won’t go deep into explaining how to set up your blog, instead I will show what new services and tools you should be aware and make use of. For example, did you know about Jetpack, a WordPress plugin bundle giving you easy installation for the most common features you might need for a fresh WordPress blog?
Basically this article will be a little goldmine for everybody – I want to make you think, and show how you can do things, differently from now on. I like how the blogging world is slowly changing and I want to show you a bit of it.
More about getting ideas and some great WordPress themes can be found in this article about Magazine Cover Design.
Now let’s move to one thing that if you write a blog is important to know – Guest Posting. We mentioned already above, but now we are going more in depth. This can really increase your traffic and your blog reputation.
The Shortest Web Design Guest Posting Guide You’ll Ever Need
What if I told you that guest posting is your way to fame? That simply by guest posting you are increasing your chance of getting hired for new projects, or be an authority figure? It only takes 5 minutes of reading.
There are a million web designers out there and every seven seconds there is a new blog that goes live. The connection? It’s competition. At least for freelance web designers.
The truth is, the online world is a very harsh place for freelance web designers, or even web design firms. It takes a gazillion tons of sweat and marketing to be known. People’s attention spans are very short. Who are you again?
Which of the Three Are You?
1. Design blog owner?
There are thousands of active design blogs on the internet and yours is probably one of them. Your problem might lie in the fact that no one is visiting your blog.
How do I promote my blog? To whom should I reach out? Should I spend money on advertising?
[tip]Want to start your own blog? Check out our guide![/tip]
2. Freelance web designer looking for job?
I told you before, the internet is a very harsh place where only the strong survive. Remember MySpace? Facebook came along and now MySpace is only a fraction of what it used to be. Freelance web designers are the same.
How do you tell the world that you are different?
3. Web design firm?
Of all the web design firms out there why should clients choose you? Well, they will probably choose you because of the services you provide. But is that enough? Unfortunately, no. Clients will choose to work with you over other design firms because you are known to them. Becoming well known is not really that hard, all you need to do is establish a constant presence out there. Scrap social media for a minute. It’s “that place where a lot of designers and people who want to have a website” go to that you want to anchor your presence on.
The Real Problem
The truth is, you don’t need to spend money on advertising just to get known. You don’t need to be ultra unique to compel people to visit your website or hire you or use your service. All you have to do is to make your presence known.
Make my presence known? Yes.
The citizens of the internet have a very short attention span. You too. Name at least five new blogs you visited in the past month. Can you? Yes, quite hard right?
I have a solution for that.
And it will only take you an hour to get started.
Why Not Guest Post?
Solution to your problem? Guest posting. Submitting articles and tutorials on blogs will never put you at a disadvantage. You can earn money by guest posting, a lot of people do this regularly and earn a living. Through guest posting you can also shout out to the world that you exist, that you are worth looking at the first time and the second time and on a daily basis.
By guest posting you are establishing dominance, if done right. You get your existence known.
10 Design Blogs to Guest Post On, okay?
(never end a sentence with a preposition, so I added “okay”)
(currently not accepting guest posts)
3. A List Apart
How to Write a Guest Post?
A few things you need to know before whipping out that pen and paper (or keyboard and text editor):
- You should know what you are writing about
- You should have a good grasp on grammar and spelling
- Be persistent
Do the following:
- Visit the blogs I posted above, including 1WD
- Visit at least 10 pages of each blog and check which articles tend to get shared and commented
- From there you’ll know what kind of articles are accepted and what tends to be popular
Then you contact the blog editor or owner. Be sure to read their “Write for Us” page or whatever they may have.
Writing the Article
Once the blogs reply to your guest posting inquiry, that should be when you present your ideas to them. Choosing the perfect idea is crucial to building a long-lasting relationship. Choose a topic that is needed, current, and you have a solution for. CSS, jQuery, Photoshop, HTML5, PHP, and a lot more.
Follow this structure:
- Introduction – in the most simplest sentences tell the readers about the whole article.
- Statement of the Problem – this is important, everybody has a problem they’re trying to solve. Tell them you know what it is and that you have a solution for it.
- Offer a Solution – people love solutions, so should you. Either the solution is a tutorial on how to hack WordPress or design a better logo, this is the place where you drop the “awesome” bomb.
- Conclusion – not necessarily a conclusion. It can be a piece of advice, a more pressing question, or more resources that can help them solve their problem.
Follow this structure and you will write that first guest post of yours in under an hour.
Keep in Mind:
- Provide valuable content. It’s your name that is at stake. Write terribly and even if it gets published no one will be impressed.
- Have a list of blogs to follow and read from on a daily basis.
- Don’t just “post and run”. You should engage with your readers by replying to comments, that way they will know that you’re not a robot.
- Guest post regularly – establish a relationship with blogs.
Special thanks to. Danny is the “Freddy Krueger” of Guest Blogging. He got that name because every online marketing blog you go to he’s always there. And together with hundreds, if not thousands, of people he taught me how to write in under an hour without losing the essence of the whole post.
Maybe you want to use some other platform for blogging like Thumblr. Well we’ve got you covered. In the last section of this article we have prepared some great list of premium Thumblr themes that you can choose from.
23 Beautiful Premium Tumblr Themes for Your Tumblog
Tumblr is a very easy to use platform for micro-blogging. It is very popular these days. Tumblr gives the simplicity and attractiveness that your blog deserves. You can post plenty of things on your Tumblr dashboard including photos, videos, links, text, etc.
But besides all these great things, you will need a great looking Tumblr theme for your Tumblog so that it stands out. It will get more attention from the visitors, thus, making your blog more popular. If you are a professional blogger, then, you would probably know how important it is to have a great looking theme design for the blog.
There are plenty of free themes available on the Internet but majority of these themes can’t give you the best results.
Using beautiful premium Tumblr themes is best for your blog.
- It enhances the experience of your Tumblog.
- It is more powerful and effective when it comes to attracting the visitors.
1. Twisting – $30
2. Encore – $30
3. Soupa – $18
4. UMO Folio – $35
5. Foundation – $30
6. Brick – $30
7. Pandora – $30
8. MIMESI – $30
9. Adventure – $30
10. Felina – $35
11. Serendipity – $19
12. Empire – $30
13. Ceres – $30
14. Kylix – $30
15. FRESCO – $30
16. Impetus – $18
17. Depth of Field – $18
18. Scope – $30
19. FLAT – $30
20. Ellisium – $30
21. Gridly – $18
22. Popcase – $11
23. Photographica – $30
Tumblr has always been the place for bloggers, inspirational searchers, and creative people who are looking to share their thoughts and ideas with other people. The themes above are very helpful in increasing the popularity of blogs. All these themes vary in styles; some are grid-based while others are portfolio style.
But, each one of them provides you the perfect experience for the visitors. With these premium themes, everyone can easily start their own blogs and create the content whether in the form of videos, images or text.
Before leaving, please tell us which theme did you liked the most? Is there any other theme that should be in the list? Please share it with us in the below comment section.