So if you followed my guide in Part 1 you will have chosen your Niche, Decided on a domain name and purchased it and set up a web hosting account with an easy one-step install and now you are ready to go and sat there staring at a blank page wondering what the hell next.
Well, one of the first things you are going to want to do is probably change your blog design a little so in this post, we are going to talk about blog design and themes and also how you go about writing your first post.
Now everyone wants there blogs to look super pretty. I get it, I certainly wanted mine to look pretty and why not. I do want you to remember this though. Do not spend all your time and effort in this area as there are plenty of ugly blogs out there making good money.
Blog content is king and always will be. You can have the prettiest blog in the world but if your content sucks you will not get any traffic. If you don’t get traffic then you will struggle to earn money from your blog.
So most new bloggers will be just like me when they first gain control over their blog. You will sit there looking at this pre-made design and think how the hell does I change this.
The great thing about any kind of WordPress blog is you can change the design of your blog with just one click of a button. Ok, it can be a bit more involved than that but that is the gist of it really.
You do this by changing blog Themes. So what is a blog theme and how do I use them to change the way my blog looks?
A blog theme is a kind of like a package that controls every aspect of how your blog looks. When you start out with your fresh WordPress site you will have a free WordPress blog theme installed.
If you click on the left-hand side of WordPress under the tab Appearance. This will take you to a different section whereby you can change your WordPress blog theme and the way in which it works.
As you can see in the above screenshot there at the top of the dropdown menu is Themes. This is where you can change the WordPress blog theme you are given at the start of your WordPress install.
As you can see from above when you click on themes it takes you to this page. Now your page may look different to mine as mine has the Genesis framework and a paid Genesis theme which is the Foodie pro theme.
Paid themes are great as they generally offer more functionality and greater support etc. However please note that at the beginning of your blogging journey you do not need to pay for a theme. There are plenty of pro bloggers earning good money who still use a free WordPress theme. It is whatever works for you.
As you can see in the screenshot above hovering over the theme will give you the option to activate that WordPress blog theme or you can preview it which is what I would advise. This will give you an insight into how it will look.
Twenty Seventeen is one of the cleanest free blog themes around and I would advise that you have a close look at that one before making your mind up. There are literally hundreds of WordPress blog themes available and you can spend too long looking if you are not careful.
You can change up the inner workings of your theme by clicking on the Customise tab which is just under appearance. This will let you add and remove widgets as well as sort out where everything is placed etc.
Customizing can be a bit difficult to master for someone who hasn’t spent a great deal of time working with WordPress themes so dont worry too much.
What I would say is that most of the changes you make are only permanent if you hit the publish button at the top of the customize page. You can see how the changes you make affect your site before hitting publish where it will then save those changes.
To my mistake, I found I made 2 or 3 changes in one go then struggled to go back and undo those changes and became a little lost. I eventually got there but I would say take it one step at a time with design.
The main changes to your WordPress blog theme would be adding categories to your menus and selecting where those menus go.
Customizing can take some time so don’t worry about it for now just get a theme that looks good from the start and work on optimizing it later on.
Once you are happy with your new WordPress blog theme then we can move on to writing your first post.
This a super exciting time when creating your first post. When you click on the left-hand menu under posts it will bring up a dummy post that is standard for new WordPress accounts. Simply hit the trash and send it to the bin. You won’t be needing it.
The next thing you need to do is to hit the Add New button which is under the posts section on the left and this will take you to the post editor screen which is where you will spend most of your time.
You will have the options in front of you for adding a title and paragraphs, Along with images. If you do add an image make sure it is either an image you have taken yourself or it is one that you have the right to use.
I once got caught out using a google found image and the guy who took the original picture tracked me and sent me a message asking for payment etc. Luckily after a long chat, he let me off and gave me the warning to be careful in the future with just using any old image.
Don’t get caught doing the same thing as it can end up being very costly and could even end up being a legal issue.
Remember whilst writing your first blog post to hit the save draft regularly in case your computer fails or anything else that might result in you losing work. There is nothing more frustrating then working hard for several hours only to lose work when the power cuts off or you close the tab accidentally.
Once you have finished your post you can preview it by hitting the preview button on the top right of the page or you can hit publish.
Don’t worry if you are not quite ready to hit publish as you can change it to Schedule and Schedule out as many posts as you want and change the date of publication. If you change your mind you can simply go in and change the date again.
There are a few mistakes that I made when I started my first few posts and I’m sure countless other bloggers have as well. Here are a few tips to get you started with your first posts.
In the above image, you can see some misspelled words that are underlined in Red. This is a downloadable Chrome app called Grammarly It works quietly in the background and lets you know about any misspellings in your work.
One quick click of a button and Grammarly changes it to the correct spelling and or Grammar.
Length Of Post:
When I started I think my first post was around 800 words. This is not a good idea. Most posts should be at least 1500 words and ideally, you want to try and aim for 2000 words as a benchmark.
Think of it this way the more words there are then the more keywords you are likely to rank for leading to higher rankings on google which in turn brings more traffic and some income.
This is not possible on your first post but try and link back to your blog on more than one occasion per post in the future.
Linking back to your own blog is a great way of keeping people on your blog for longer.
As I said above make sure you have either taken the images yourself or you have brought the rights to them.
Images break up the text a bit and make it easier for the reader to digest the content as it is more pleasing on the eye.
You should also potentially add a Plug-in called Smush which squeezes the file size of your image and in turn, this makes your blog load quicker which is important. I will go over Plug-ins in a later post.
I haven’t gone into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in this post as it would take up an entire post or collection of posts just on that topic.
But believe me when I say it is the most important thing ever if you want your posts to be read and you want them to start ranking on the top of google searches.
All I will say is in the beginning I downloaded and installed a Plug-in called RankMath. It is free to use and gives your post a score out of 100 when it comes to it being optimized for SEO.
Now it isn’t the be-all and end-all of SEO. In fact, it just gives you some handy pointers while you compiling your post. You should certainly start to learn SEO elsewhere and become a master of it.
In the beginning though and for the first few weeks and posts then Rankmath will certainly help you out.
So that covers picking a WordPress blog theme and making your blog theme work for you with regards to how it looks and performs. You have also created your first post or at the very least are in the process of doing so.
WordPress blog themes won’t make or break your blog but picking a good blog theme with great functionality can make your blogging life a lot easier believe me.
There are so many WordPress blog themes out there that it can all become a bit confusing but whether you pay for premium blog themes or you stick with free blog themes try not to focus too much on them.
Content and SEO remain king in the game. I look forward to seeing you all in Part 3.