Blogging & Building a Blog
There are several different varieties of websites available on The Internet, some function as an online version of your latest company brochure, and others provide an entirely interactive online experience. Your choice for the type of website you have will be based on the size of your imagination and budget. These days, some people are opting to use a blog as a website, and sometimes to function as a website with an integrated blog component. To the average visitor, the site may look like a standard website, but to the trained eye, you can see the difference between a traditional website, and a website built on a blogging platform like WordPress. This brief tutorial is going to go over the major steps you need to take in order to create a website and/or blog.
Websites vs. Blogs
Blogs provide a way to establish yourself as a thought-leader in your field, and regular blogging on a consistent schedule can help you grow your small business because it allows you to build web traffic by providing useful information to your blog’s visitors. One good thing about blogs, versus say a regular website, is that blogs are better for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes because a blog is updated more than a traditional website, thus prompting search engine spiders (or robots) to crawl your blog pages more frequently and increasing your chances of being found through search engine results for specific keywords.
Blogger vs. WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
When you decide to build a blog, you'll find that there are a number of options to choose from. You can build a free blog using Blogger, make a free blog using WordPress.com, or you can create a WordPress.org blog for free on your own web hosting account. The difference betweent the three options is price and professionalism. Most free sites like Blogger and WordPress.com give you a limited number of options of what you can do, both in terms of design as well as the type of content you display on your blog (specifically, some free blogging account services restrict your ability to use advertising and pay-per-view links to earn revenue). Additionally, when someone makes the move to start blogging professionally, it's an instant red flag of a "newcomer" to see someone using a myblogname.blogger.com or myblogname.wordpress.com domain name. Both of these URLs scream "I'm either too cheap or too poor to afford to look professional, so don't take me too seriously!". Each of the three options has their pros and cons, but the remainder of this tutorial, will focus on building a WordPress.org account, which requires the need for a web hosting account and a small amount of technical savvy which most every day web users have. The biggest benefit to using a WordPress.org blog is that you get all the good stuff that comes with a WordPress blog, but you get to be in control of it and how it runs.
Building a WordPress.org Blog
Choosing a domain name is typically the first step in building a WordPress.org blog. Choose a name that accurately reflects on the content of your blog, or if you're building yourself as a brand, just use your own name as the domain for your blog. The next step is securing a web hosting account. There are plenty of web hosting options to choose from, however we recommendation for GoDaddy web hosting because they offer two especially attractive hosting options: 1) Economy Hosting and 2) Deluxe Hosting. Economy Hosting is about $60/year and is good for a person that knows they'll only need ONE blog. The Deluxe Hosting option lets you host MULTIPLE BLOGS (up to 25, based on the number of MySQL databases that come with the account), which means that you can have more than one blog/website hosted from this account at the same time from different domains. The Deluxe Web Hosting account is ideal for someone that knows they want more than one website/blog, or someone who believes they'll be experiencing a high volume of web traffic.
Next, choose a theme (see the descriptions below for the type of theme) and plugins for your blog. The choices for themes and plugins are vast, but the minimal plugins you need should provide you stats of who visits your blog (available in the Jetpack Plugin), spam protection to keep unwanted comments/users away (via the Askimet plugin), a SEO plugin to help with your search engine optimization (like the SEO All-in-one Pack plugin), and finally a mobile adaptation plugin to adjust your blog for mobile phones.
Adding a WordPress Theme
When you first install WordPress, it comes with a generic theme already installed. The last step to designing your WordPress.org blog is to add a theme, which is a customized template that provides the overall look and feel for your blog. WordPress.org provides a limited database of free WordPress themes for you to choose from, but there are also several additional purchase options for creating a website/blog with serious professional appeal.
Premium WordPress Themes
There are a variety of reasons why you may not want to go with a free WordPress theme that you find on the web. (Read this article entitled: Why You Should Never Search For Free WordPress Themes in Google or Anywhere Else). Yes, the free WordPress themes provided directly from the Wordpress.org database are safe to use, and many of them are nice, however if you're considering blogging for business, it's best to take your blog's design to the next level, and incorporate a premium WordPress theme that provides the customization and style that many web users are used to when they look for quality content on the web.
Of the Premium WordPress Themes offered, the Genesis Framework and its associated Child Themes are highly recommended. The Genesis Framework is a search engine optimized design framework that makes building a professional-looking WordPress blog possible. The framework comes packed with all the bells and whistles you need in a professional blog, along with state-of-the-art security and easy customization to add widgets and advertising to your heart's content. Essentially, the Genesis Framework makes it easy to design a professional WordPress blog is a fraction of the time it would take if you went and searched out themes and found all the plugins and options you wanted within it. Since incredible functionality is already packed into the framework, your biggest challenge is deciding which one of the many Child Themes to Choose from.
For example, the Corporate Child Theme is a great theme for small businesses to begin customizing. This theme works as-is out of the box, or you could play around with it further to give it the look and feel that you want for your brand. Another example would be the News Child Theme which would be great for a news site or website with content that is updated frequently. If those examples look familiar, it's because some of the biggest companies on the web are using the Genesis Framework!
The Genesis Framework alone is very reasonably priced, and you can add a Child Theme to your purchase for a very low cost. It's one of the best and economically priced ways to get a WordPress blog built, if you're going to do it yourself. Of course, if you want to have more than just ONE child theme to choose from, you can opt into the (Pro Plus All-Theme Package) , which includes the Genesis Framework, EVERY theme they make, unlimited updates & support, access to detailed tutorials, and access to all future themes they create.
Mid-priced Premium Theme Option: Simple Themes
The next best priced option is Simple Themes which has a nice array of well-designed, easy-to-install themes with three pricing levels. The Starter Membership lets you access the themes, plus 3 months of technical support, the Plus membership is 6 months of technical support plus a few extras, and the Developer Membership includes 12 months of technical support.
Low-priced Premium Theme Option: Elegant Themes
The lowest priced option is Elegant Themes, which are a moderately priced alternative that provides more than 60 themes for one low price. You pay one fee on an annual basis, and have continual access to their catalog of themes, any additional themes that they add, as well as support from the local Elegant Themes community of members and theme-users. It's a really good alternative for the person who wants to get started with blogging, but has never done it nor any major web design work.
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More on Themes: Specialty Themes
Sometimes you need to build a website for a specific purpose, but don't have all the time in the world to code and tweak it. During these times, you should consider turn-key theme option solutions that let you get up and running easy with themes that have been designed around your specific business initiative (e.g. Sales, Auctions, Real Estate, etc.). For this reason, you should take note of these 7 Premium Themes from Premium Press that make creating an e-commerce site a cinch!
ShopperPress is a fully featured shopping cart theme for Wordpress, suitable for selling all types of products, services, and digital downloads online. It includes 20+ store designs, unlimited installations, lifetime free support and upgrades!
DirectoryPress turns a Wordpress blog into a powerful online directory website with lots of features, import tools and built in payment gateways. It includes 20+ directory themes, unlimited installations, lifetime free support and upgrades! Get DirectoryPress - The VIP Version
The Classifieds Theme is a powerful, secure, SEO friendly classifieds theme for Wordpress with lots of professional features and extra classified website designs. It comes with 20+ extra classifieds designs, unlimited installations, lifetime free support and upgrades!
CouponPress turns any Wordpress blog into a professional coupon code or voucher code website with lots of coupon site features, in minutes! Includes 20+ coupon website designs, unlimited installations, lifetime free support and upgrades!
The RealtorPress theme is a turn-key ready "out of the box" real estate website solution for both individual realtors and real estate companies. You simply install, select your template, add or import your real estate property and your ready to go! Get RealtorPress - The Real Estate Theme
AuctionPress is a powerful auction theme that harnesses the power of Wordpress to create 'ready-to-go' SEO friendly auction websites that can be setup in minutes with little or no programming knowledge required! Get AuctionPress - The Wordpress Auction Theme
MoviePress is the ideal solution for creating niche market video websites for almost any online niche! Get MoviePress Now!