How to start and grow a WordPress blog: A comprehensive guide

Experts share their know-how

Grow WordPress Blog Impact

When it comes to finding valuable information on the internet, there’s no shortage of blogs boasting to have the best insights around. And why wouldn’t they? Small businesses or bloggers positioning themselves as thought leaders can drive more traffic to their sites, increase brand recognition, and establish relationships with potential customers. Blogs offer a way to connect with your customers and/or readers in a manner that is personable, relatable and approachable. That’s why it’s helpful to understand how to start and grow a WordPress blog.

This guide compiles the collective knowledge of experts whose insights into the blogosphere can help you develop a WordPress blog that works overtime for your business or personal brand.

Regardless of your niche, a blog can make a positive impact on your online identity. It’s time to ditch the misconceptions that might be holding you back.

Having a blog is important. It’s even more important to have a fully functioning and easy-to-use platform that ensures your words can be found, read and shared. Enter WordPress, a tool used by 27 percent of the web to create stunning blogs for a variety of uses. With customizable themes and designs, SEO- and mobile-friendly features and plenty of support, it’s a surefire win for anyone looking to start a blog.

How to start and grow a WordPress blog

  1. Name your blog.

  2. Set up your blog.

  3. Customize your blog.

  4. Secure your blog.

  5. Publish content on your blog.

  6. Get eyes on your blog.

  7. Make money on your blog.

  8. Measure success and move forward.

For the remainder of this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of blogging, using WordPress to spread your message to the masses — from setup to publication — and measuring your content’s success. And we’ll do all of this with the help of expert contributors from the GoDaddy Blog.

1. Name your blog

Let’s dig into the first step for starting a blog — giving it a name. How do you incorporate it with your brand? Is the matching domain name available? These are just a few things to consider when naming your blog, and we’ve got plenty of advice to make the process more productive.

Let’s go!

Grow WordPress Blog Perfect Domain Name
“10 tips for choosing the perfect domain name” by Andrea Rowland

Choosing a domain name is similar to choosing a company name — it requires a lot of thought and consideration. Your domain name is your identity on the web; you want to make sure you choose a domain name that not only fits your business, but is also easy to find and promote.

Grow WordPress Business Domain Graphic

Follow the steps below to help you pick the perfect domain name:

1. Make it easy to type. Finding a domain name that’s easy to type is critical to online success. If you use slang (u instead of you) or words with multiple spellings (express vs. xpress), it might be harder for customers to find your site.

2. Keep it short. If your domain name is long and complex, you risk customers mistyping or misspelling it. Short and simple is the way to go.

3. Use keywords. Try using keywords that describe your business and the services you offer. For example, if you’re a glass replacement business, you may want to register GlassRepair.com or GlassReplacement.com.

4. Target your area. If your business is local, consider including your city or state in your domain name to make it easy for local customers to find and remember. Example: PhoenixGlassRepair.com or GlassRepair.nyc.

5. Avoid numbers and hyphens. Numbers and hyphens are often misunderstood — people who hear your website address don’t know if you’re using a numeral (5) or it’s spelled out (five) or they misplace or forget the dash. If you need these in your domain, register the different variations to be safe.

6. Be memorable. There are millions of registered domain names, so having a domain that’s catchy and memorable is essential. Once you’ve come up with a name, share it with close friends to make sure it sounds appealing and makes sense to others.

7. Research it. Make sure the name you’ve selected isn’t trademarked, copyrighted or being used by another company. It could result in a legal mess that could cost you a fortune, as well as your domain!

8. Use an appropriate domain name extension. Extensions are suffixes, such as .com or .net, at the end of web addresses. These can have specific uses, so make sure to choose one that works for your business. The .com domain extension is far and away the most popular, but it can be tough to get a short and memorable .com domain name because it’s been around for so long.

A bevy of new geo- and industry-specific domain extensions — like .photography, .nyc and .guru — offer a great opportunity to register short and highly relevant names.

Pro tip: You don’t need to build a website for every domain. Just forward any additional domains to your primary website.

Grow WordPress Blog Domain Infographic
Read Maxym Martineau’s article, “Give your website traction with a .blog domain,” to learn more about how small businesses and bloggers can benefit from this new domain extension.

9. Protect and build your brand. To protect your brand, you should purchase various domain extensions, as well as misspelled versions of your domain name. This prevents competitors from registering other versions and ensures your customers are directed to your website, even if they type it incorrectly.

10. Act fast. Domain names sell quickly — so register your favorite domain names as soon as possible. If you’re having trouble finding an available name, domain registrars like GoDaddy will suggest alternate names during your domain search to help you find the perfect domain name.

Read the full article.

Grow WordPress Blog Memorable Names
“How to choose meaningful, memorable blog names and related domains” by Kelly Hardy

Blog names fall into two categories:

1. The name that encompasses the purpose / focus / feeling of your blog. Blog names like TechCrunch, Business Insider and Lifehacker quickly let the reader know exactly what they’re getting into.

2. The provocative name that captures your imagination before you start reading. Blogs like The Daily Beast, The Oatmeal and DeadSpin brand themselves online with catchy monikers that don’t quite let you know what you will find when you visit but are compelling enough to make you click.

Despite their difference in nature, these blog names have something in common: They are short, memorable and catchy.

Whether it is a direct description of what you do or a provocative nudge, your blog’s name is its calling card. It is the first impression a reader will get of your work and will always be associated with your blog.

Choosing a recognizable blog name

When you are launching your blog, you’ll want to come up with a recognizable blog name that fits your style and personal brand. First, decide if you want a name that is literal or provocative. Whichever path you take, remember the blog names that also make the best domain names are striking and concise.

Next, brainstorm a list of words that describe:

  • Your blog’s topic area (e.g., parenting)
  • Your blog’s primary purpose (e.g., give parenting tips)
  • Your target reader (e.g., parents)
  • Your location (e.g., New York City)
  • Your blog’s tone (e.g., witty)

Note: If you plan to launch a blog for your personal brand, brainstorm a list of words that describe you and what you do.

Now head over to thesaurus.com and search for related words to add to your list.

Editing time. This is the really fun part, time to cull your list down to the words that resonate the most. Keep only those you think will stick.

Then start putting words together. Try different verb tenses and variations of the words on your shortlist. The goal is to come up with three strong blog name options. Send this shortlist to your most internet-savvy friends for feedback.

Choosing a domain that fits your blog

With the perfect blog name in hand it’s time to find the complementary domain name. Let’s say you’ve got your heart set on naming your blog “NY Parenting Tips.” You might find that the .com version that name — nyparentingtips.com — is available. That’s great. You’ve also got lots of other options.

You’ve worked hard to come up with the perfect, most recognizable blog name that is on the left of the dot, so now you can use the letters on the right of the dot to either complete a phrase or sentence or as a way to help categorize your blog.

In addition to traditional domain extensions, you now can register domain names with highly descriptive extensions — domain endings that describe your industry, interests, location, lifestyle and more.

Pro tip: If you’re building a personal brand with your blog, look at registering a personal domain. The .me domain extension can help you tell your story at a glance.

Read the full article.

Grow WordPress Blog Baby Foot

5 naming tips for your bouncing new blog

Like the name you give a child, the naming of a blog is not something to be taken lightly. Here are some pointers to help you come up with a brand-worthy name for your bouncing new blog.

1. Are you representin’? Consider whether you want to be the face of your blog. Do you want your name in the URL?

2. Are you playing it straight? Decide if you want an eccentric name, a play on words, a name that means something only to you, or a name that blatantly states what people will find on your blog.

3. It’s like magic. If you’re comfortable letting an algorithm pick your blog name, you could use an online name generator like Cool Name Ideas.

4. Stick to the basics. Keep a few online naming basics in mind when you’re coming up with your blog’s moniker. It should be short (one or two words – three is pushing it), catchy, memorable, pronounceable, unique and easy to spell.

5. Keep SEO in mind. Do a little research to figure out what keywords people type into search engines to look for the type of info you plan on putting out. Try to incorporate keywords into your blog name.

Read Ashley Grant’s full article for more tips for naming a blog.

Quick Checklist: Name your blog

Let’s tick off your to-do list for naming your blog:

  • Brainstorm blog and domain names.
  • Consider different domain extensions.
  • Get feedback.
  • Complete domain registration.

Time to nail down your blog name: 1 hour+

Additional resources

Make sure your blog name and related domain are just right with these helpful resources:

get domain

  • Infographic: Choosing a blog name. Weigh the pros and cons of choosing a personal blog name that uses a full name vs. nickname.
  • Why to brand your blog with a custom domain. Learn how a custom domain name can help you build your blog and business.
  • Whimsy vs. clarity. Consider these factors when naming a blog (or a business).
  • Getting a domain on the aftermarket. Get tips for using the domain aftermarket to find valuable domain names.
  • Domain security best practices. Protect your new domain name with these tips.

2. Set up your blog

Now that you’ve chosen a blog name and registered the related domain, it’s time to set up your blog. Read on for instructions surrounding initial setup, theme selection and more.

Grow WordPress Blog First Website
“How to build a WordPress Website for the first time” by Stephani Worts

Let’s explore how to build a WordPress website on your own with minimal headache and expense, and start building your online presence.

A WordPress website is easiest to think of in terms of layers. WordPress is the center-most core layer. It’s the framework on which everything else rests. The content of your site (your text, images, videos, etc.) make up the next layer. This is the most important part of your website, and where you want to focus. The outermost layer is the theme, which is the window-dressing of how your content is displayed.

The beauty of WordPress is you can easily add content without having to alter your core structure.

You can expand, remove or edit without any change in functionality. You can also choose to change your look (i.e., your WordPress theme) without losing any content or again, changing the structure. WordPress handles HOW to display it all for you, so all you have to worry about is WHAT to display.

Grow WordPress Blog Plugins Graphic

The final “big” component of any WordPress website that is worth mentioning are plugins. These are small, additional pieces of code you can add onto (or plug INto) your website to add non-standard functionality. Think of your mobile phone – some functions are included as part of the standard phone software, but you install an app when you want added capabilities.

Plugins are like apps for your WordPress website.

What you need to build a WordPress website

To create your first WordPress website, you’ll need a domain name and hosting. And of course, you’ll need WordPress — or you can use GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress option and skip to the front of the line with an easy setup wizard designed to make creating a WordPress blog hassle free.

There are a few other things you’ll need to get your website up and running:

Content — What are you going to say?

Images — Because an all-text website would be incredibly dull.

Theme — WordPress comes with several defaults installed, and there are many free themes to choose from beyond the default options. If you prefer a certain look, there are also themes available for purchase from online sources.

Setting up your WordPress website

The single easiest way to set up WordPress is to start with a hosting account specifically designed for WordPress websites. With a GoDaddy Managed WordPress account, for example, WordPress is already installed for you.

Many hosts will offer a one-click option or simple directions to install WordPress directly from their control panel. Even without these, any hosting account will allow you to run WordPress provided you have a database in which to store the site information and a location to upload the WordPress files.

Editor’s note: Read the full article for step-by-step instructions on creating a database, uploading WordPress files, installing WordPress, entering your credentials, setting your username and password, and setting your URL writing rules by configuring Permalinks (don’t skip this step).

Getting to know the WordPress dashboard

You access your user dashboard at yourdomainname/wp-admin. This is where you will log in using your username and password. From the WordPress dashboard, you can control every aspect of your website. All of the main sections are located on the menu to the left. Under each of these main headings is a sub-menu of options.

Posts are generally used for content that is updated frequently, such as blog articles. For content that does not change as frequently, such as an About Me section, it is better to use Pages.

Under the Settings tab, you can change how your posts and pages display, set your time zone, change the administrator email address, and more.

The Appearance menu is where you will control your theme and everything related to the visual display of your website. Here you can select a theme, upload a new theme, or make customizations to the theme you are using.

The Plugins menu allows you to view plugins currently installed and add new ones when you wish. Only plugins that are activated can be used on your website.

The Media page is where you can view, edit or delete images you have added to your WordPress website.

Choosing a theme for your WordPress website

While the most critical piece of any website is the content, you should also give careful attention to your theme.

The theme affects how your website is displayed and the overall impression it gives to your visitors.

There are many things to consider when choosing a good theme, but this article has some great tips to get you started. Overall, you want a theme that is stable, clean and easy to work with. Many themes are also highly customizable, allowing you to change colors and backgrounds with ease. This can help you achieve a more unique look that better suits your website design idea.

Adding content to your WordPress website

Nearly all content is added via a Post or a Page in WordPress:

  1. Click to add a new Page or Post.
  2. Enter the title information.
  3. Enter your content in the larger box.

You will see two tabs on the right, Visual and Text. Make sure you are editing in the Visual tab. The Text tab shows you the code markup if you need to make specific code changes.

Within the content box, you can add bolded text, italics, or even insert images. To insert images, click Add Media. The buttons across the top of the content box provide additional functionality.

Along the right-hand side, you will see some additional options. You can also save an item in draft format if it is not yet finished. This saves your changes, but does not make them live to your website. Only Posts and Pages that are published will be visible.

There is so much that WordPress can do that we have hardly scratched the surface. If you would like to learn more, check out the WordPress Codex and the WordPress article archive on the GoDaddy Blog.

Grow WordPress Blog WordPress Websites
“An easier way to get started with WordPress” by Andy McIlwain

WordPress powers more than 25 percent of websites across the world. But with 50,000+ plugins to choose from, thousands of themes, and a relatively complex interface, it can prove an overwhelming task for beginners to get started with WordPress.

Yes, there are plenty of excellent resources covering the basics of using WordPress. But wouldn’t it be great if getting started with WordPress was more intuitive — a natural part of the new user experience?

WordPress Websites from GoDaddy make it easier for anyone to build a WordPress site from scratch.

From a startup wizard to responsive themes and baked-in SEO, this new site-building tool is tailor-made for small business owners who want to get started with WordPress in less time, no experience required.

Quick Start Wizard. It begins with the Quick Start Wizard. You’re asked some questions about your business and the site you’re building, then we populate your site based on the information you provide.

Starter themes. WordPress Websites also makes it simpler to choose a theme — a major pain point for many WordPress novices. We worked with Lift UX to craft a set of beautiful, open-sourced starter themes. They include the features and layouts you’d expect from a top-notch premium WordPress theme, including being responsive, so they look and work great on mobile devices.

Starter content. From there, we automatically add the relevant pages and starter content, complete with images, forms, and other website essentials.

Theme customization is a big part of what makes WordPress so appealing. But not everyone has the web dev chops to do it on their own. That’s why we’ve partnered with Beaver Builder to bring the plugin’s excellent drag-and-drop page website building capabilities to WordPress Websites.

Quality images. Images are a crucial part of any website, but finding good images can be a real challenge. So we’ve included free access to thousands of high-quality, royalty-free images for virtually any industry.

Built-in SEO. SEO is a must-have for businesses trying to get found online, so we’ve included GoDaddy’s Search Engine Visibility with some plans. This step-by-step SEO wizard walks users through on-site optimization to help them get found on major search engines.

Email marketing is another integral part of doing business online, so we’ve also bundled GoDaddy Email Marketing in all plans. A signup form is automatically added to your site to collect email addresses, and you can also add a form to any widget area.

Video tutorials. If you want to grow your WordPress skills, check out WP101’s excellent series of video tutorials. They’re also included in WordPress Websites.

In your language. WordPress is global, and so are we. So the WordPress Websites user interface and starter content is available in the 30+ languages for every market that GoDaddy serves.

Robust, reliable hosting. WordPress Websites is built on the same infrastructure that powers our Managed WordPress hosting. That means server-side optimization, multi-cluster scalability, automated updates, daily backups, and 24/7 technical support are all included.

And since it’s all WordPress, you’ll always be able to add new features from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, or choose a new theme from the WordPress.org Theme Directory.

Read the full article.

Quick Checklist: Set up your blog

Let’s recap the simple steps needed to set up a WordPress blog:

  • Decide on a WordPress platform.
  • Install your WordPress website.

Time to set up your WordPress site: Less than 1 hour with GoDaddy WordPress Websites (Managed WordPress).

Additional resources

Ready to learn more? Check out these additional resources:

Get Website

  • GoDaddy WordPress Websites. Build a powerful WordPress site fast with our exclusive Quick Start Wizard.
  • How to design a website when you’re not a website designer. Avoid newbie web design mistakes with this how-to guide.
  • WordPress Codex. Repository for WordPress information and documentation.
  • WP 101. Video tutorials to help you learn the ins and outs of WordPress.

3. Customize your blog

Now that you have the basic setup out of the way, it’s time to customize your blog — the first step on your journey to grow a WordPress blog. Take advantage of WordPress’s plethora of themes, widgets and plugins to create something truly unique that speaks to your brand.

Grow WordPress Blog After Installation
“What to do after you install WordPress” by Nile Flores

When you first install WordPress, you might not be quite sure what to do next. If you’re a WordPress beginner, it’s normal to need a little help at this stage in the game. Let’s look at what plugins you should install, what kind of theme you should choose, and some beginner tips that will help you get those first pieces of content up.

Recommended plugins for WordPress beginners

There are a few really essential plugins you need as a WordPress beginner, to build a sturdy foundation for your blog.

1. Security plugin. The majority of hackings, code injections and malware incidents happen randomly. A security plugin can inform you of the infection, and clean it for you so you can get back to what you like doing, like creating content.

2. Backup plugin. Sometimes you make a mistake, and that’s where a backup plugin can help. If you have GoDaddy Managed WordPress, backups are included. For other shared hosting plans, you might find UpdraftPlus is a strong backup option for your WordPress site.

3. Contact form plugin. A contact form makes it easy for website visitors to get in touch with you, while helping to protect you from unwanted emails. Ninja Forms is a robust, free plugin that’s easy to use.

4. Social share button plugin. Placing social share buttons on your articles allows your blog readers to easily share your post to popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Try a simple plugin like SumoMe.

5. SEO plugin. A plugin like Yoast SEO for WordPress can help guide you through optimizing your blog content for search engines. The Yoast SEO plugin also gives you an analysis tool to tell you if your blog post is lacking keywords, images and more features that could help your article rank better.

6. Traffic tracking plugin. If you plan to market your website or make money from it, you need to track your traffic. Google Analytics by MonsterInsights allows you to add Google Analytics tracking so you can keep tabs on your website visitors’ behavior.

Tips for choosing a WordPress theme

Your first WordPress theme might not be perfection — so you might want to do some theme shopping. There are thousands of WordPress themes available, so here are some tips on how to choose the right theme for you.

1. Choose a theme that has a design format you like. You want it to look great, so choose a theme that has a look that you’ll love.

2. Make sure the theme is currently being developed, and regularly updated. Choose a theme that’s current and well-supported to avoid major problems if your theme becomes vulnerable to malware infections or outdated in code.

3. Choose a theme that has excellent reviews. Whether you’ve picked your theme from the WordPress.org Theme Directory or some other place, look for reviews on the theme. If there are no reviews or poor reviews, choose another theme.

4. Don’t choose a theme just because it looks like it has all the bells and whistles. Sometimes it’s not such a great idea when a theme has all the things in the world built into it. It weighs down the theme, and can create conflict with other plugins.

5. Choose a theme that comes with documentation to help you set it up right. Choose a theme that promises to provide documentation on how to set it up like the preview. Once you have set up the preview version, you’ve actually learned a little about how to use your theme, so you can change things out like your logo or some color schemes.

Read the full article.

Grow WordPress Blog Add Plugins
“The right way to add plugins to WordPress” by Andy McIlwain

WordPress is a wonderful choice for a content management system (CMS). After a quick installation, you can get straight to publishing content, adding users, and customizing your site’s look and feel.

But the true power of WordPress doesn’t come from the core software — it comes from all of the additional functionality that you can add via plugins.

In this article, we’re going to cover the fundamentals of WordPress plugins: what they are, where you can get them, how to tell the good from the bad, and how to add them to your site.

Editor’s note: For detailed installation instructions, read the full article.

What are plugins?

Plugins extend the capabilities of WordPress. You can think of them as upgrades or add-ons for your website. For example:

  • A form plugin, like Contact Form 7, will let you create forms in WordPress.
  • An eCommerce plugin, like WooCommerce, will let you add an online store on your WordPress website.
  • An analytics plugin, like Google Analytics by Yoast, will connect your website to Google Analytics.

Free vs. premium WordPress plugins

Grow WordPress Blog Install Plugins Graphic

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of WordPress plugins: free and premium.

Free plugins are low risk for the cost. They’re an easy way to get started with plugin experimentation. The trade-off is that, in most cases, there’s no guarantee for support with free plugins.

What about Premium? In WordPress lingo “premium” is just another name for “paid.” And just because you pay for a plugin doesn’t mean it will necessarily be of better quality than a free plugin. Whenever you’re considering paying for a plugin, it’s a good idea to do some research about the plugin first.

Where do plugins come from?

There are three major sources of plugins:

The WordPress Plugin Directory is the most popular source. All of the plugins in the directory are free to use. For each plugin you’ll find an overview of its features, reviews from users, and a compatibility rating for different versions of WordPress.

Commercial marketplaces such as CodeCanyon act as a “middle man” between plugin developers and users. The quality of marketplace plugins, and the level of support they have, will depend on the individual plugin author.

Developer websites enable you to buy a plugin directly from the developer. Documentation, support, and complementary plugins (e.g. extensions or add-ons) will often be found on the same developer site.

Installing WordPress plugins

There are three ways to install plugins:

1. Installing a plugin from the WordPress Plugin Directory. This is the easiest method, but only works for plugins that are available in the Directory.

2. Uploading a plugin .zip file. This is the easiest method for installing plugins purchased from a marketplace or developer website.

3. Manually installing via FTP. This is the most complicated method, requiring some knowledge of FTP. It’s typically done when, for whatever reason, you’re unable to use the other two methods.

What about plugin updates?

Like WordPress itself, your plugins will receive periodic updates. These updates typically fix bugs in the plugin code, patch security holes, or improve the plugin in some other way. While WordPress plugin developers try their best to ensure their updates won’t break anything, stuff happens. Sometimes an unexpected hiccup during a plugin update can cause bigger problems.

To play it safe, you can create a staging version of your site. (Here’s the rundown on how to do it with GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress).

You can test your plugin updates on the staging site before running them on your live (production) website. It’s a bit of extra work, but the precaution can be well worth it — especially if you’re working on a business website and can’t afford any downtime!

Read the full article.

10 best practices for WordPress bloggers

Grow WordPress Blog Best Practices

Check out 10 best practices for blogging on WordPress:

  1. Blog consistently and frequently.
  2. Do keyword research to tackle topics people are searching for.
  3. Make it easy for blog visitors to share your articles.
  4. Use enticing images to enhance your content.
  5. Make sure your blog has a newsletter.
  6. Make sure your blog is mobile-friendly (and loads quickly).
  7. Make your posts easy for readers to consume.
  8. Share your content.
  9. Repurpose your content.
  10. Keep your WordPress site up-to-date, backed up, and secure.

Read the full article by Nile Flores.

Grow WordPress Blog Common Problems
“How to fix 3 common WordPress problems” by Julie Deneen

As a WordPress consultant, I see the same questions and frustrations time and time again. Here are three common WordPress problems along with some solutions to try on your site.

Problem No. 1: Messed up spacing in the WordPress edit screen

  1. Remove any extra html that reads like   in the TEXT view.
  2. Paste text into the post after you’ve enabled plain text mode in the editor.
  3. Highlight the offending text and click the eraser button so it will clear extra formatting.

Hint: Avoid trying to micro-style your text. Just use the predefined headings, bullet points and/or block quote, and don’t try to treat WordPress posts like a Word document.

Problem No. 2: How to figure out what is causing an error or white screen after an update

  1. Deactivate all of your plugins. Did the error disappear? If yes, then re-install your plugins (one at a time) to determine the faulty one.
  2. If uninstalling your plugins did not affect the error, try reverting to the WordPress default theme. If the error disappears, the issue lies with your theme.
  3. If you’ve tested both plugins and themes without resolution, call your hosting company. You’ll want to check and see if they have a backup available or if something is causing the error on their end.

Pro tip: Consider getting a hosting plan like GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress that includes free backups.

Problem No. 3: You can’t get a Facebook preview image to appear when you share a post.

  1. Make sure you have a set featured image.
  2. Use plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast, which gives you a particular spot where you can upload a photo JUST for Facebook.
  3. If you’re sharing your home page (especially if it’s static), make sure you’ve set a featured image for the page itself.
  4. Experiment with sharing the shortlink vs. the long permalink.
  5. Try copying and pasting the link directly rather than simply clicking a share button.
  6. If you’re sharing on a page you manage, go ahead and use that nifty upload image button and try manually updating it (not available for profiles).

Read the full article.

Quick Checklist: Customize your blog

Let’s recap some key action items to customize your blog:

  • Get to know the WordPress dashboard.
  • Decide on a theme.
  • Select your must-have plugins.
  • Try out the text editor to prep for future posts.

Time to customize your WordPress blog: 1-2 hours, to get started with the basics

Additional resources

If you want to learn more about installing and managing WordPress plugins, widgets and further customization, here are a few great resources:

  • Ignore these WordPress dashboard features. No, you don’t need to know everything.
  • All about WordPress themes. Get the scoop on how WordPress themes work.
  • Managing Plugins (WordPressCodex). Get info straight from the gurus over at WordPress.
  • 15 things you must do with Yoast SEO. Here are 15 things you must do after installing Yoast to make sure your site benefits from this killer plugin.
  • Plugins blacklisted from GoDaddy Managed WordPress. Check out this help page to ensure you’re using accepted plugins on your site.
  • Yoast’s WordPress SEO Guide. Yoast is a robust tool — get all the know-how direct from the creators.
  • Creating a Ninja Forms WordPress contact form. Make sure your readers can reach you. Add a Ninja Forms contact form to your WordPress site.
  • Creating a contact widget in WordPress. Looking for other contact form options? There are plenty of widgets that can get the job done.

4. Secure your blog

After all that time you spent perfecting your the look and feel of your WordPress blog, and creating awesome content, the last thing you want is to leave it open for security vulnerabilities. As you begin to grow your WordPress blog, the following articles will help you get started on the path to a more secure WordPress site.

Grow WordPress Blog Improve Security
“10 simple ways to improve WordPress Security — even if you’re non-technical” by Jennifer Bourn

WordPress security starts with you.

I can’t emphasize enough how important this idea is when it comes to caring for and maintaining your WordPress website. When you launch a new WordPress site, you become a website owner, and as a website owner, it is your responsibility to take care of it, to care for it, and to keep it safe and healthy. The good news is that you don’t have to be a tech-wizard to keep your WordPress site secure. Even if you’re non-technical, you can take steps to improve WordPress security. Here’s how.

1. Use strong, unique passwords and a password manager. The most simple website security measure you can take is to use strong, unique passwords. When creating your passwords you should make sure they include:

  • More than eight characters
  • A mix of uppercase and lowercase letters
  • At least one number
  • At least one special character

Do not use the same password for multiple websites or online profiles, and do not use your WordPress password for anything else — especially for a social media profile. Use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password to manage all of your unique passwords and provide you with one master password.

2. Do not share your password with anyone. Your WordPress password is your WordPress password. Do not share it with anyone else, not even your team members or business partners.

3. Update WordPress every time an update is available. While incremental WordPress updates are pushed out automatically so you don’t have to lift a finger to update your site to the newest version of the software, the major updates don’t work the same way. For major releases it is up to you to update WordPress to the latest release.

To protect the security of your site it is best to always keep your sites updated to the most current version of WordPress.

grow wordpress blog fence
In the words of Jarrett Gucci, founder of WP Fix It: “Securing WordPress is like the process of securing your home. You’ve got to pick a location that is safe, set up security for your home, and only give access to people you trust. With WordPress, you want to pick a reliable location, or web host so your site is safe, set up secure plugins and themes, and then, only give access to people you trust.” For the full article, read “15 WordPress Security experts weigh in with their top WordPress security tips” by Nile Flores.

4. Keep all WordPress plugins updated to the most current version. If you have five plugins installed on your WordPress site that are two to three versions out of date, every one of those plugins could post a security threat to your site. Every time a plugin releases an update, you should back up your site and update the plugin.

5. Keep your theme updated to the most current version. It is important to delete any WordPress themes that you are not using from your site.

6. Disable and delete all unused plugins. Trust me, the last thing you want to deal with is managing and keeping plugins you’re not even using up to date. Disable and delete them. Even unused plugins can offer a backdoor into your blog for a hacker.

7. Invest in managed WordPress hosting. Not sure how to perform a full backup of your site? Don’t want the stress of keeping WordPress up to date? Want better security, speed, and performance? Skip the shared hosting and go with a managed WordPress hosting solution.

8. Actively manage cPanel and/or FTP access. Just as you should never share your WordPress password with someone else, you should never share your cPanel or FTP password with anyone else.

9. Keep your operating system, all software and browsers current. Your WordPress site can become vulnerable to malware attacks and security hacks through outdated software on your computer, including old operating systems, and old browser versions.

10. Encrypt your home/office WiFi network. When your home WiFi network and office WiFi network are unencrypted, the data is passed through the network in plain text and anyone can log into your network and see everything that is being transferred. You should never log into your WordPress site on an unencrypted WiFi network.

Read the full article.

Grow WordPress Blog SSL Encryption
“Do you need SSL encryption if you don’t sell anything on your website?” by Judith Kallos

Many people think securing a website with SSL (SSL encryption) is necessary only if they’re selling products or services via their website and collecting credit card or payment information. What many website owners do not realize is that SSL encryption has other very important benefits for small business owners.

What exactly is SSL encryption?

Grow WordPress Blog SSL Graphic

SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, is an encryption technology that creates a secure connection between your website’s server and your website visitor’s web browser. This allows for information to be protected during transmission between the two.

Without SSL encryption any computer could intercept the transmission from your browser to the server.

This includes the transmission of credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and other sensitive information.

When your site is secured you’ll see that little green lock in the left corner of your browser’s location bar, followed by the website URL beginning with HTTPS. Data that is sent using HTTPS provides three key layers of protection:

  1. Authentication: Confirms visitors are on the right website, yours, and builds trust.
  2. Data integrity: Customer data cannot be corrupted or modified.
  3. Encryption: Visitor activity cannot be intercepted while browsing your website.
Grow WordPress Blog SSL Windshield
Think of an SSL certificate as a giant windshield for when you drive on the information superhighway. You wouldn’t head out on your local freeway — especially at night in a rural area — without something between you and all the bugs. In much the same way, an SSL certificate protects your site — and its visitors — from many digital bugs, worms and other nasty web creatures. Read “Does your website need an SSL certificate?” by RuthAnn Hogue to learn more.
Photo: David SalafiaCompfight cc

But what if you are not doing any eCommerce on your website?

SSL benefit for your website visitors

Having an SSL certificate installed on your website not only encrypts your customer’s data transmission on your site, your SSL certificate also confirms you are the legitimate and verified owner of your website. Your SSL certificate is a confirmed credential that you are who you say you are. That builds trust!

SSL benefit to search rankings

SSL encryption can help your website rank higher in search results. In August 2014, Google confirmed that it would start to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. In September 2016 Google announced they would begin marking “ HTTP sites that transmit passwords or credit cards as non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure.”

SSL benefit to encourage contact

Having an SSL certificate in place to ensure that your contact form transmission is encrypted will encourage site visitors to reach out. This is especially true if you are asking for more detailed, personally identifiable information. Seeing that HTTPS and green padlock will add to the trust perception and let potential contacts know their submission is protected and that you are not a fly-by-night operation.

Read the full article here.

Grow WordPress Blog SSL Infographic

Quick Checklist: Secure your blog

Be sure to take these steps to secure your blog:

  • Set up a strong password.
  • Update WordPress themes and plugins, as needed.
  • Update your preferred browser and OS, as needed.
  • Add an SSL to your blog.

Time to secure your blog: Less than 1 hour to start, then as needed

Additional resources

Want to learn more about securing your WordPress site? Check out these additional resources:

  • Get SSL CertificateHow to stay on top of WordPress security issues. WordPress is an open-source platform — take note of these tips to stay on top of security issues.
  • How to secure your WordPress website. Take these four easy steps to secure your WordPress site.
  • Security tips for plugins, themes and extensions. Don’t forget to keep the extras safe.
  • How to safely share user access to your WordPress site. Give access to your designer or developer without granting them the keys to the kingdom.
  • Video: What is an SSL certificate?. Watch to learn the basics of SSL certificates.
  • How to install the best free WordPress security plugin. A step-by-step guide for installing the free iThemes Security plugin.
  • Strong website monitoring tools. Stay on top of page load time, performance and security checks with these tools and tips.

5. Publish content on your blog

Wow! Way to grow a WordPress blog! You’ve selected a name, set up your site, customized your blog, and added all the necessary security, and now it’s time for the fun part — publishing content. Read on to learn how to establish yourself as a blogger, create strong content, plan for articles and more.

Grow WordPress Blog Editorial Calendar
“Editorial calendar: The content, keywords and SEO connection” by John Jantsch

When done well, combining content, SEO and social media strategy creates a potent inbound marketing concoction that drives sales while constantly increasing in overall value. But effective content marketing is about more than just showing up and blogging.

You might be sharing the valuable piece of advice in the world about your subject, but if your content doesn’t rank on a search engine results page, it won’t get you very far.

The good news is that with a little planning and discipline, it’s easy to create content that has an impact, both on your search engine rankings and on your bottom line. The trick is to organize your attack with an annual editorial calendar that will serve your SEO needs as well as your overall marketing needs.

Start with keyword research

The most important part of planning your editorial calendar is buckling down and doing some serious keywords research. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find terms related to the starter keywords most commonly associated with your business — helping you expand into other keywords and keyword phrases that work for you.

Once you have some keywords that seem to be pretty promising, the next step is to bring them over to Google and try them out. You want to look at a number of things:

  • What articles show up when you run a search?
  • What are the auto-suggestions generated as you type in your keyword?
  • What questions haven’t been answered by the top ranked pages so far?

If you want to take your keyword research even further, there are many other tools that I recommend.

Turn keywords into editorial calendar themes

As you look at your keywords, themes will start to emerge, which will let you organize everything into broad categories. For planning an annual calendar, I like to find three core themes and nine supplemental themes — a theme for each month.

A core theme is something you’d find on your home page, in your website’s navigation, or even in the title. A supplemental theme is not quite as important, but still a major component of your brand.

One you have your themes, you can look at the calendar and organize them based on what’s going on in each particular month. From there it’s a matter of populating individual months with ideas for content, and perhaps breaking those jobs down into smaller tasks like research, outlining, first drafts, and so on.

Building content modules around keywords

By building your editorial calendar around keyword themes, you create the opportunity to increase the breadth of your content — making it not only more searchable, but also re-usable for other forms of content.

For example, once you’ve identified your keyword theme, consider choosing titles for the associated blogs as if you were assigning chapters of an eBook. Think of 10 to 15 titles on a table of contents that could work as standalone blog posts.

Maximize content marketing impact

Maximizing the impact of your content marketing strategy requires planning content that is not only useful, but also SEO friendly. By putting thorough SEO research into the planning of your editorial calendar, you’ll be on your way to creating content that also offers the search engine results you’re looking for.

Read the full article.

Grow WordPress Blog First Post
“Tips for writing your first blog post” by Sally McGraw

Yes, your launch post is important — it’s where you’ll introduce yourself, set the tone for your blog and tell the world why you’re adding your voice to the blogosphere. But blogs are linear feeds, which means your launch post won’t be front and center forever. So if you can craft a unique, articulate and inspiring masterpiece for your first go around, then kudos to you. But if you can’t, then don’t sweat it.

Your first post will not make or break your blog.

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind as you prepare to write your first blog post:

Forget the numbers.

Optimizing blog posts for searchability and shareability is a vital practice, but don’t worry about those things for your launch post. You’ll be posting regularly and sharing through your own social media channels, so there’s plenty of time to feed those robots with yummy content. Right now, focus on crafting a meaningful and expressive piece of writing that will help your audience connect with you.

Mission and message.

Use your first post to set the scene, even if you’ve got an “about” or “mission” page already present. You need to lay some groundwork for the readers who’ll be with you from day one, and for those who will want to pour over your archive. Diving headfirst into your topic without any prelude means missing the opportunity to establish your mission. Tell people what it is you hope to accomplish with your blog and explain how you plan to deliver your message.

Find your voice.

A thought-out mission is a must for your blog, but you also need to spread your message using a writing style that feels natural, normal and quintessentially you.

The voice you use in this first post should be the voice you use forever, so make sure it comes naturally to you. If you’re an academic don’t try to make yourself sound overly casual, or if you’re laid back don’t try to sound pedagogical. Stick to you!

Set yourself apart.

If you’re launching your blog right now, you’re likely aware that the field is rather crowded, regardless of your topic. So why exactly does the world need another mommy/fashion/tech/travel/cooking blog? What will you be adding to the conversation? These are the questions you can answer to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

The real work of building a robust, thriving blog is in creating and posting high-quality content on a regular basis, promoting it, and building a community around it. But you can’t do any of those things if you don’t write your first post to get the ball rolling. So get typing, introduce yourself, and prepare to enter the wonderful world of blogging.

Read the full article.

Write blog posts that convert readers to customers

Grow WordPress Blog Butterfly

When you write a blog post, what is the real reason you cast your content out into the world? If you’re a business owner, the answer to that question should be easy to see: You’re writing a blog post so you can use your content to convert your readers into customers. Your primary goal is to generate interest in products and services. Here’s how:

1. Build your topics from your services and solutions. Write down the products or services you offer. Then write down the product’s or service’s solutions. Now turn each solution into a blog topic that gives the user information about how to solve the problem on their own.

2. Show off your expertise. You’ve pulled in your target audience with an engaging topic; now deliver on the promise with a piece of content that reflects your expertise. Highlight your unique selling proposition by sharing details about your special process or thoughts on the topic.

3. Create a desire for something you do or sell. You’ve given your reader information about how to solve their problem, now throw out a small pitch. Remind them that what they want or need is attainable — using the tips and info you provided.

4. Add a crystal clear call-to-action. End your post by telling the reader exactly what they need to do to make it happen. You can use a call-to-action that goes right for the sale, or you can take the reader through a slower sales process by offering another piece of content that further shows how you can solve the problem.

Read Raubi Perilli’s full article.

Grow WordPress Blog Virtual Storefront
“Using your blog as a virtual storefront” by Julie Deneen

If you are a businessperson wondering if a blog can really help your small business, the answer is yes. But in order to make your efforts effective, we’re going to have use our blogs like virtual storefronts.

A professional blog will:

  • Use your knowledge to bring people closer.
  • Build authority on the web.
  • Get in potential customers’ heads, even if you don’t get their business right away.

Signage, advertising and commercials vs. SEO & social media

There are several ways to market your business online — whether your services can cross the globe or you’re a local hairstylist serving a particular location.

Set up a Google business page so that you start showing up in local search results when someone is looking for services in a particular area.

Join Facebook groups or other online communities that service a town or city.

Offer incentives on your blog through giveaways and coupon codes that can be used online or in person.

Install an SEO plugin on your blog and make sure every post is optimized for keywords that zero in on your niche and location.

Set up Facebook or Google ads that expertly target internet users in a certain area.

Continually add new and relevant content to boost your ranking in search results. The more people link back to your site, the higher you’ll climb.

Cooperation with other businesses vs. cooperation with blogs in your niche

Blogging is as much about sharing other people’s content as it is about yours. If your blog and social media profiles show your customers that you’re willing to give out information, even from competing sites, you will quickly gain authority on the web.

Content curation is one of the most time consuming but well spent ways a blogger can grow their following:

  • Get an account with Feedly and track all the other blogs in your niche.
  • Use Hootsuite, Buffer and other social tools to help manage your content sharing.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a guest post from another blogger and vice versa.

Front window display vs. give ‘em something they haven’t thought of

A blog gives you endless possibilities for putting something in someone’s head they never would have thought of on their own! With a brick-and-mortar store, the shopkeeper will carefully display the best outfits or toys, showcasing them in a way that makes people stop and look in and wish they could have the items.

Good photography is key online. Create blog posts with visual graphics that are easy to pin on Pinterest.

Combine your products and services and tell a story in your post. If you offer cooking classes for example, create a recipe showcasing various products that can be purchased at your workshop for a discounted rate.

Don’t forget your email list!

The single most effective way to reach your potential customer base is through email marketing. Start building your email list the second your blog goes up. You should have opt-in forms on the sidebar, below every post, as an option on your menu bar, and perhaps even as a pop-up.

Read the full article.

5 tips for creating quality images for your blog

Grow WordPress Blog Camera

Imagery is an important part of any well-done content strategy. It brings your readers in and keeps them there once they’ve arrived. Images are share-worthy and a great way to increase engagement and entice more readers.

1. Shoot often. You’re not going to capture a great photo if you only bust out your camera once in a blue moon. Like everything else, becoming a good photographer — even with just your phone — requires practice.

2. Use natural light. Avoid your on-camera flash like the plague. Covering your photos with natural light helps them share the vivid story they were taken to convey.

3. Go behind the scenes. People interested in what you do like to get the deets on how you do it. A behind-the-scenes look can make for a great piece of social content.

4. Get some accessories. You can create engaging, powerful images on your mobile device with just a few accessories — like tripod and remote shutter.

5. Brand your images. Stick to a consistent style so readers learn to recognize your images at first glance. Consider using easy photo editing software to add your logo.

Read Amanda Rodriguez’s full article.

Grow WordPress Blog After Write Post
“What to do after your write a blog post” by Ashley Grant

You sweated, you cried, you wrote, you pulled your hair out, you wrote some more, you edited, you re-wrote and finally, after you all was said and done, you published your blog post. Now, it’s time to let people know about it. Here’s how to grow your WordPress blog:

Include the perfect image. If you didn’t add an image to your blog post before you published it, go back right now and insert a picture.

In the words of Marie Forleo, Tweet it out, Yo! One of my favorite ways to get readers over to my blog is to tweet about my latest posts. Get creative. You’ve got 140 characters to make a strong impression.

Use hashtags. Using hashtags helps your tweets gain visibility when people search for specific keywords — which can translate into more clicks, reads and retweets.

Share everywhere. Share that awesome photo you included in your blog post with a link to the post on any social sites you — and your customers — frequent. Facebook. Pinterest. LinkedIn. Instagram. You name it.

Comment on similar blogs. Spend some time checking out with other bloggers in your niche are writing about. When you take a few minutes to leave a thoughtful comment, you might get a bonus — the chance to include a link back to one of your posts.

Pitch it. Perhaps you wrote a post that could get you on TV, the radio or even in the newspaper as an expert source. Keep an eye on local news stories; if you’ve written a post that relates to a current or trending event, send the news desk a brief summary of your post along with a link to it.
Email your post to your subscriber list. Fresh blog posts are brilliant fodder for email newsletters. Feature your latest, greatest post in your next email to newsletter subscribers.

Read the full article.

Quick Checklist: Publish content on your blog

Let’s recap must-do’s for publishing content on your blog:

  • Do keyword research.
  • Develop an editorial calendar.
  • Create quality content.
  • Publish your first blog post.
  • Promote your content.

Time to publish initial content: 1-2 hours for a simple post (it will get easier) + ongoing for content planning and promotion

Additional resources

There are a lot of different ways to publish content on your blog. If you want to expand further, check out these additional resources:

  • start marketingThe secret to writing engaging content quickly. Struggling for words? Learn how to write, revise and write again to boost your skills.
  • Curating content for your blog. This content curation method will make your blogging life easier.
  • Write your own damn website content. From not burying the lede to creating headline magic, a pro writer gives tips to writing website content.
  • 7 places to find royalty-free images. You don’t have to pay too much for high-quality images. Look here first.
  • Are you getting too personal on your blog?. Just like you don’t tell your mother everything, there are certain things you should keep off your blog.

6. Get eyes on your blog

Now that you’ve got some kick-ass content live on your blog, it’s time to get some eyes on your work. Read on to learn how to grow a WordPress blog via SEO, social sharing, guest posts and more.

Grow WordPress Blog Steps SEO
“7 simple steps for blog SEO” by Nathalie Lussier

Do you hear the words Search Engine Optimization and immediately conjure up a bunch of scraped content stuffed with artificial-sounding keywords? Or maybe you know you need to up your blog SEO in order to appear in the search engines, but you just don’t know where to get started.

No worries. Read on for some top tactics to make your blog rank better in search engines and show up for your top keywords — all in seven simple steps.

Grow SEO Blog SEO Graphic

1. Choose one keyword theme per page or post. We often think we need to rank for a really competitive “magic phrase” and that our main home page should be what shows up in search results. But search engines actually index separate pages and blog posts, so you can have a ton of different keyword-optimized posts that act as doors for people to enter your website through. Focus on a specific keyword theme.

2. Research the keyword. Check out how much competition your keyword has — and whether anyone is even searching for it. You might think that people are searching for “Brooklyn restaurants,” but what they’re really searching for is “Brooklyn TexMex restaurants”… and if you own a TexMex restaurant, then you know you’ll want to pick the most specific keyword. Google Trends is an easy tool for keyword research.

3. Work that keyword! Since we’re talking about blog SEO, include the keyword in the title of the post, in at least one subheadings, the first paragraph of your blog post, and naturally throughout the rest of your copy.

4. Fill out your meta tags. Depending on your blogging platform, you might have built-in fields to specify a page’s meta description, title, and keyword tags, or you might need to install a plugin. If you’re on WordPress, I recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast. Once it’s installed, you’ll see three new fields to fill out each time you publish a blog post.

5. Include your keyword in Image Alt text. If you add an image to your post, make sure that the “alt text” (alternate text) on the image has your keyword in it. Everything in your post is a signal to the search engines.

6. Get some inbound links. Now that you have your posts geared toward specific keywords, it’s time to get some links to your content. There are many different ways to get the search engines to recognize your new post … some of the easiest ones are to share your post on social media.

7. Publish great content. Make everything you publish on your blog something that’s worth reading and sharing. When you publish great content, the search engines won’t be able to stay away, and more people will find you, too!

Read the full article.

5 ways to get more blog traffic

Grow WordPress Blog Traffic

Use these five strategies to get more eyes on your blog:

  1. Avoid a “post it and forget it” approach to blogging. Promote the heck out of every blog post.
  2. Stick to topics related to the niche you’ve chosen.
  3. Establish a consistent, reasonable publishing schedule.
  4. Limit the amount of advertising content on your site; instead, look for other ways to make money blogging.
  5. Keep close tabs on page load times. Be sure to compress images and host with a reputable company.

Read Ashley Grant’s full article.

Grow WordPress Blog Darren Rowse
Watch Kate Volman’s video interview with Darren to get more tips for driving traffic to your blog.
Grow WordPress Blog Email Subscription
“Why all bloggers should offer an email subscription” by Aaron Rosell

Situation One: Your blog is — let’s be honest — a celebrated utopia for readers near and far. It seems you can’t put up a new post without getting 20,000 views before lunch. You need an assistant to manage your email subscription list. You actually wish celebrities would stop constantly tweeting links to your stuff, because it keeps crashing your servers. “Apologies for the downtime,” you tweet for the third time this week. It’s exhausting.

Situation Two: Your blog is but a digital tumbleweed, drifting sadly across the sands of the internet. Each time you write a post, you spend hours choosing the perfect sentence structure. You compose it carefully, thoughtfully, not unlike an orchestral opus — surely this will go viral on Facebook — only to click “Publish” and get a text from your mother 40 minutes later. She appears to be your only reader. (To be fair, she loves the post.)

It’s safe to say the majority of us can relate to Situation Two (hi, Mom!). But the truth is, both bloggers described above have tons to gain from a well-crafted email newsletter. Here’s why I believe every blogger should offer an email subscription.

Earn subscribers and drive more traffic.

Fortunately, I happen to have a friend named Chelsea who’s a.) an amazing blogger, and b.) already doing everything right when it comes to email marketing. We’ll use her fashion blog truelane as an example of how the right email content can be any blog’s perfect sidekick.

Use a signup form on your blog to kickstart the email subscription process.

 

For any first-timer, the first step is building a signup form that you can use to gather new email subscribers through your blog. Chelsea’s signup form sits happily on the right sidebar of her site.

An email newsletter shouldn’t simply redistribute your posts via email. It should act as a “teaser” for your posts, prompting your readers to click through and read the full thing on your blog.

With the goal being to encourage visits to your blog, you’ll want to avoid offering all your blog content through email. Instead, use an excerpt-style approach to entice your email subscribers to click through and read the rest.

Establish yourself and build trust

Grow WordPress Blog Email Graphic

Building an email newsletter grants you the chance to further establish your expertise, offering exclusive content that might never even appear on your blog. Chelsea uses a few great content strategies in her email newsletters:

Weekly recap. In a more condensed fashion, Chelsea recaps the posts that went up on her blog during the week and links her readers to them. For anyone who might have missed her individual blasts, this is a nice at-a-glance review of the content that slipped past.

Travel feature. Though Chelsea got her start in fashion, a newly growing component of truelane is the Travel section. In this email, she uses her newsletter as an opportunity to remind her readers that she’s writing travel posts, too — and she links them to her favorite one from the past week.

Personal touch. We get a personal window into Chelsea’s life as she heads to Nashville for the weekend. Plus, we get to bask in great television together.

Social media. At the bottom, Chelsea’s “Social Standouts” section aggregates her favorite truelane social media posts from the week. Now, her email subscribers get the chance to check her out on Instagram and other social platforms, and the outreach is full-circle.

The higher up you place a link in your content, the more people will click it.

 

Another beautiful quality of email marketing is that it empowers you to stretch beyond the thematic limitations of your blog, establishing yourself as an actual person and a lover of other topics, too.

Read the full article.

Grow WordPress Blog GoDaddy Email Marketing
“Why GoDaddy Email Marketing and WordPress are meant for each other” by Emma Wilhelm

At GoDaddy, we relish the dual simplicity and complexity of WordPress. It’s a great platform to help small businesses get online, and that’s pretty much what gets us out of bed in the morning. Our Managed WordPress platform is perfect for the the aspiring author, the Main Street coffee shop, or the indie musician — people who want a gorgeous, functional website without a lot of fuss or expense.

GoDaddy Email Marketing is a natural companion to the WordPress platform. Here’s why.

GoDaddy Email Marketing and WordPress both embrace simplicity

The team behind WordPress is proud of its simplicity, and for good reason! They’ve brought classy web design to the masses — no easy feat. Our mission is to do the same for email marketing, and GoDaddy Email Marketing might just be the simplest email marketing on the planet.

Our software is designed to help you create a clean, modern, branded email in minutes.

Our email composer makes it easy to drag and drop a variety of text- and image-based modules to build the perfect email. You can also create a unique Theme with colors and fonts that reflect your brand.

GoDaddy Email Marketing is WordPress-friendly

WordPress and GoDaddy Email Marketing are both simple to use, and they’re also simple to use together! With the GoDaddy Email Marketing Signup Forms plugin, you can place — you guessed it — a signup form on your WordPress site.

WordPress users with a GoDaddy Email Marketing account can use the plugin to add signup forms using (1) a widget (great for sidebars), (2) a shortcode (great for inline text) or (3) a template tag (great for developers). There’s no need to worry about matching up fonts and colors. When you use the plugin, your signup form will automatically match the style of your WordPress theme.

Get complete setup instructions here.

GoDaddy Email Marketing is built for bloggers

WordPress-based bloggers will feel right at home on the GoDaddy Email Marketing dashboard. Like WordPress, we make it easy to draft, edit and send (or post) content. If you also sell products and services, you can use email to run subscriber-exclusive deals, host email-based courses or send coupons on subscribers’ birthdays.

Like WordPress, GoDaddy Email Marketing has complexity

By design, we’ve kept the complexity of GoDaddy Email Marketing out of view. But like WordPress, it’s a sophisticated tool, and when you’re ready for more advanced options, we’re ready for you! We offer add-ons like personalization tags and triggers and have a host of useful integrations with apps like Facebook and Eventbrite.

Read the full article.

Quick Checklist: Get eyes on your blog

To recap, take (at least) these steps to get eyes on your blog:

  • Optimize each blog post.
  • Establish a publishing schedule.
  • Get social.
  • Look into email marketing.

Time to get eyes on your blog: About 2 hours, then ongoing

Additional resources

Interested in driving even more traffic to your site? Browse these helpful resources to cover all your bases:

Get Search Engine Visibility

  • 10 ways to improve Google keyword ranking. Want to boost your blog’s ranking? Take note of these keyword tips.
  • Meta tags and the head section of a website. Aside from adding appropriate keywords to your blog, you’ll need to pay extra attention to meta data and headers.
  • Pro SEO tips for driving traffic to your WordPress blog. Use these tips to squeeze as much SEO juice as possible out of your WordPress blog.
  • Video: Facebook Marketing tips from Mari Smith. In this Q&A, Mari offers insight into Facebook marketing for small businesses.
  • How often should you promote blog posts?. Once a day? More? Learn more here.
  • How to promote your blog when you’re a brick-and-mortar store. Capitalize on potential customers with a blog that speaks to their needs.

7. Make money on your blog

While there’s no get-rich-quick scheme associated with growing a WordPress blog, there are a number of ways to make money with your blog. If you’re looking to turn your hobby into a full-time job (or even just a side hustle to rake in a little extra cash), our experts have the tips to help you get there.

 

Grow WordPress Blog Make Money Blogging
“How to make money blogging” by Nile Flores

Are you wondering how to make money blogging? Yes, you certainly can. Whether you’re a pro writer or a budding blogger, if you’ve got great topics and a killer voice, there are people looking to pay you for your skills. But remember, blogging isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme — it requires work and effort. From sponsored posts to affiliate marketing, here’s how to make money blogging blogging. Let’s dive in!

1. Write sponsored posts for your own website

Sponsored posts are articles you write, either for your own blog or someone else’s site, about some product, service or company. There’s a couple ways to get into sponsored posts:

Potential sponsors contact you. Sponsors might contact you, either through outreach programs or of their own volition, to request posts for specific audiences. They’ll contact you and work out a rate, but keep in mind that some sponsors offer free items in exchange for work.

You create a page for sponsors to request a media kit containing your rates, your traffic stats and what you can offer. Media kits help you look polished and professional, and you don’t have to worry about the headache of negotiating a price with sponsors.

Become part of a blogger opportunities or outreach program. There are a lot of different programs available to bloggers to get them exposed to other brands. Check out the full version of this article for a handy list.

2. Try affiliate marketing

With affiliate marketing, you sell other people’s products and services while enjoying a percentage of the sales. The key here is not to force it — if you have a blog that talks about items, say tech gadgets, you can make suggestions to your readers without coming across as overbearing.

3. Become a virtual assistant blogger for another blog site or sell articles to other websites

Being a virtual assistant blogger gives you the freedom to work for one or several blogs on either a per-article price or per-hour rate. Often, it’s referred to as “ghost blogging” and you don’t receive author credit. Here’s how to find opportunities:

Visit job boards or forums to look for bloggers seeking ghost writers. You’ll likely have to submit work so the blog owner can determine if your voice is congruent with the blog’s style.

Write some articles and sell them. Pre-writing articles for sale can give you a leg up when it comes to securing funds. Talk to bloggers about your posts and determine whether you’ll offer re-written versions or sell exclusively.

Pro tip: Consider creating a page or section on your blog with a list of article titles for sale.

4. Get hired to blog regularly for a bigger company

Although some companies invite bloggers into their network, there are others that post job listings. Check sites including MediaBistro, ProBlogger Jobs and Freelancer.com to look for blogging gigs.

5. Join networks that do ad sharing

When an ad that’s tied to your article within their network is clicked on or viewed, you get a small percentage. Here are a few ad sharing networks for bloggers:

6. Join Google AdSense or other ad networks

If you want to do more than subbing work to other ad sharing platforms, consider hosting ad networks on your site. Ads can be links, banners or even video, and the potential for passive income from clicks is viable.

Read the full article.

Grow WordPress Blog WooCommerce
“How to start welling on WordPress with WooCommerce” by Douglas Karr

WooCommerce powers more than one-quarter of all online stores — a testament to its strength as an eCommerce platform.

While you can sell items through some integrations online with payment processing services, the ability to take a credit card and provide a transaction doesn’t mean that the solution is an eCommerce solution. These solutions have the following key features:

Product pages — provide multiple views and levels of product specifications, along with dynamic pricing capabilities and quantity adjustments.

Shopping cart — a page or object that contains all of the items added during the shopping session. Users can update quantities or delete items.

Checkout page — a conversion point where users can provide payment information and submit an order for fulfillment.

Account pages — the ability for a customer to set up an account, view orders, and manage pertinent contact, delivery and payment information.

Payment integration — the ability to accept and process credit card data, or integrate with a system like PayPal, Amazon Payments or Stripe that provides that service.

WooCommerce provides all of these features elegantly within the WordPress platform.

WooCommerce is a free plugin, with more than 350 extensions that extend its capabilities to inventory management, payment gateways, point-of-sale systems, shipping, subscriptions, reporting and many external products or internal features.

Before you start selling with WooCommerceGrow WordPress Blog Ecommerce

A key step before configuring WooCommerce is to install an SSL certificate. This can be a fairly technical process — unless you’ve signed up with GoDaddy Managed WordPress. In those cases, you can apply your SSL certificate easily to your WordPress instance from your My Account screen.

A properly installed SSL Certificate and SSL connection ensures that any communication between the user and the server is encrypted and not sent in clear text.

Read the full article for installation instructions.

Setting up products

Once your store is configured, you can start setting up products. Setting up a product is similar to setting up a page or post, just with more options to configure.

Capture metrics

To monitor and improve your store sales, it’s essential that you install and configure a plugin to add eCommerce metrics and data capture to your Google Analytics account. Install the WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration.

Now start selling products on your blog!

Read the full article.

Grow WordPress Blog Using Social Media
“Using social media to make your blog more profitable” by Ashley Grant

Ask any blogger out there and odds are they will tell you that using social media is a great way to drive traffic to your website. Traffic is great, but can using social media actually make your blog more profitable? The short answer is yes. Let’s take a closer look at three reasons why pairing social media with your blog can make you more money.

1. Social media + blogging = big benefits. Using social media boosts your profitability potential by bringing would-be customers to your website. The more traffic you have, the easier it is for your site to earn money.

2. You’ll get better ranking on search engines. Search engines now give more weight to the content shared on social media sites like Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and more.

3. You can gain niche-specific traffic. When you use niche-specific hashtags to help promote blog posts on social media sites, other social media users who are following similar hashtags are more likely to find you.

Turning traffic into money

Now, how do you translate that traffic and your engagement on social media into income?

Sell advertising space and sponsored posts. Bloggers with a higher number of social media followers are more successful at selling ad space on their websites and securing sponsored posts. Why? Because brands know that a site owned by a blogger with a strong social following has much higher traffic potential that a site owned by a blogger who doesn’t engage on social media.

Link to sales pages. You can use valuable blog content to entice site visitors to check out sales pages. Maybe you’re selling an eBook called “Make More Money Blogging” on your website. You could write a blog post about the time you set up a carwash in your backyard to supplement your fledgling blogging income, with a link to your eBook sales page in the post.

Leverage your expertise. Awesome blog posts about your area of expertise, coupled with strong social media engagement, can set you up as a thought leader — and that can lead to paid gigs. Each post, share and like boosts your authority just a little higher in the ranks.

Read the full article.

Quick Checklist: Make money on your blog

To recap key strategies for making money in an effort to grow a WordPress blog:

  • Write sponsored posts.
  • Choose an ad network.
  • Try affiliate marketing.
  • Sell your articles.
  • Sell products on your site.
  • Establish yourself as a thought leader with social media to generate jobs.

Time to set up your blog for to make money: 2-5 hours, then ongoing

Additional resources

Want to unlock the full, monetary potential of your blog? Check out these resources:

  • Get Social Media Management3 ways to make money from your WordPress site. Take a deeper dive into monetization.
  • Unexpected sources for sponsored blog posts. Broaden your content horizon with these unexpected sources.
  • Increase your cashflow with freelance writing jobs. Need a little extra cash in your wallet? Don’t be afraid to freelance.
  • Has your blog become all biz and no fun? Steer clear of the monetization trap. Money is all good and well, but don’t forget why you blog. Keep your goals, readers and interests in mind.

9. Measure success and move forward

From increased traffic, to shared posts, to thought leadership and more, there are plenty of ways to measure the success of your blog. Evaluate your goals and where you’d like to go so you can move forward with a high-functioning WordPress blog.

Grow WordPress Blog AIDA
“How to tell if your blog is working (and how to fix it)” by Tom Ewer

What return does your blog offer your business? It’s tough to say, because many of the benefits of blogging are intangible. There’s also not a simple, clear-cut way to attach a single metric to it. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to fly blind any longer. By applying a simple, old-school copywriting framework, you’ll soon have a better understanding of visitors to your blog and know how to make changes that will attract and keep more of them.

Why a blog’s success is hard to measure

The most beneficial aspects of blogging (and social media in general) — namely awareness or thought leadership — are typically intangible and somewhat abstract. That’s makes it tough to quantify your results, and that which cannot be measured cannot be improved, or perhaps more fundamentally, justified.

The other complicated issue is that blogging (and social media) is mostly serendipitous. The guy or gal who hits one of your blog posts today might not make a purchase for weeks or even months, but it was your blog that introduced them to your business.

Compare that to something a more straightforward, like Google AdWords, where the benefits (or lack thereof) are transparent, letting you see exactly how much money is spent and how much is returned in revenue.

So if it’s tough to measure conversions, where do you begin analyzing progress?

Why an age-old copywriting acronym should guide your analytics

AIDA is a copywriting framework that has been used for decades to move people through an advertisement or piece of content, hitting on all the key influential stages before eventually purchasing.

Awareness, the first step, is obviously about grabbing their attention with the headline and lead. Next your goal is to build Interest and keep them reading long enough until they start to Desire what you’re offering. If all goes well, Action is the next logical step. And we all like action.

It’s a simple idea, but it offers a basic framework that can also be applied to any website or blog — the steps are the same. Initially, your goal is to attract attention. Only then can you build trust with people and provide an easy transition into the more “commercial” areas of your site.

How to tell if your blog is ‘working’ with AIDA and analytics

Start by identifying at least one or two metrics for each category that we defined above. The following are a few recommendations to help get you started, but ultimately it’s up to you to determine which metrics might be the most appropriate for your own blog or business.

  • Attention: Unique visitors and traffic sources
  • Interest: Bounce rate, time on site, and average pages per visit
  • Desire: Conversions (such as email signups and freebie downloads)
  • Action: Sales!

Creating a Custom Dashboard in Google Analytics will help eliminate all of the distraction and over-abundance of information. Under Dashboards in Google Analytics, click New Dashboard, and begin adding “Widgets” for each new metric to track. You can also choose between a simple numbers-based metric, or view the information as a graph or chart:

Just getting a few basic metrics up and running will help. However, the real benefit will be in comparing this information to your results over the past 30 days, previous quarter, or even prior year. Inserting additional context like this will help you see which way your results are trending.

How to use ‘AIDA’ analytics to fix your blog

AIDA provides a fantastic framework for optimizing your site. Start with Awareness, say, by working on increasing the number of social shares per blog post by making sharing options more prominent.

Next is Interest. When you have a potential customer on-site, ideally you keep them around and improve your bounce rate through providing additional options for them to continue reading.

Then focus on Desire. This is where you latch onto your customer with micro-conversions (which happen before a purchase). This is good time to go after email subscription opt-in so you can send updates.

Finally, we have Action. This should be the result of all previous steps, which many times might look like a Pricing page, where interested people can now take a look at their options for becoming a customer.

The most important thing is to test and measure.

 

Not bad, eh? Of course, we’re just scratching the surface here, but I hope that the above examples give you some inspiration. The most important thing is to test and measure! Make changes, measure the effect, then react accordingly.

Read the full article.

7 tips to boost your blog post’s performance

Grow WordPress Blog Boost Performance

When you hit publish, how can you be sure that your post is going to stand out from the rest?

1. Did you cover the topic extensively? Is there a way you can provide more information, or perhaps a different angle/viewpoint?

2. Do you provide helpful external resource links? Link to relevant and credible sites with more information.

3. Did you sprinkle tweetables throughout the text? Identify one or two catchy and short quotes that would make good tweets. Embed a tweet button right in your post so all someone has to do is click the button and tweet out the quote with a linkback to your post.

4. Have you organized the copy with attractive dividers and images? Use block quotes, headings, bulleted lists and images to break your text into bite-sized chunks.

5. Does your headline grab the reader’s attention and describe the post accurately? Create a title that accurately describes the post and at the same time, adds some suspense or sparks curiosity.

6. Have you embedded any relevant Pinterest boards? If your post fits well with Pinterest, create a pinnable graphic and embed it into the post so a reader can simply add it to their board with one click.

7. Is there a call-to-action at the end of the post? What do you want your reader to do at the end of the post?

Read Julie Deneen’s full article.

Grow WordPress Blog Archive
“Making the most of your blog archive” by Sally McGraw

The internet at large would have you believe that if it’s not hot, new and now, it’s useless junk. But this is simply not true: Your older blog content still has value. Here are some things you can do to breathe new life into archived posts:

Push them out in tweets. Create a list of pithy descriptions for your greatest hits posts — ideally two or three pre-written tweets per post to keep your feed from looking canned — and schedule them in between newer content.

Reference them in related posts. Many blogs have “related post” widgets that highlight three or four archived gems at the end of each new post. You’ve likely written about certain themes and topics repeatedly, and directing readers to your past posts reminds readers about the depth of your expertise.

Grow WordPress Blog Republish Content
Republishing content allows you to breath new life into an old post, maximize your resources, and work smarter. Read “How to republish content the right way” by Raubi Perilli for solid strategies.

Re-post on holidays or when you’re vacationing. If you blog while vacationing, you’ll definitely keep the readers coming … but you won’t actually be vacationing. Consider lining up some archived favorites to publish automatically so you can enjoy time away from your laptop.

Mention in newsletters or link roundups. Both newsletters and link roundups should focus mainly on current content, but there’s no reason you can’t include a “posts you might have missed” section.

Offer them as guest posts. Guest posting is a fantastic way to reach audiences beyond your own and build relationships with other bloggers. It’s also time-consuming and generally low on the priority list. The next time you get a guest post request, consider offering a refreshed and revived post from your archive.

Naturally, you’ll want to cherry-pick items from your archive for all of these purposes. Some old posts aren’t worth resuscitating, and you only want to tout your best content. But if you’ve got a couple dozen posts that were big winners when they first went live, they can be winners again.

Read the full article.

Grow WordPress Blog Load Time
“Quick tips to optimize WordPress site load time” by Stephani Worts

While there are a plethora of factors that can impact a site’s loading time, there are a few basic and relatively simple things you can do to decrease the wait.

Start at the server: htaccess is your friend

Server-side caching can make a big impact. Before your user ever even requests your site, you can have settings in place to make that request load faster. These changes involve editing your site’s .htaccess file, which should be in the root folder of your website. You’ll need FTP/SSH/cpanel access to edit this file.

One wrong move in the .htaccess file can make your website inaccessible — so try these changes during off-hours, and make sure you have a backup of the .htaccess file to restore if that happens.

Editor’s note: Read Stephani’s full article for more technical tips to decrease WordPress site load time.

Go beyond the server: Optimize your content

Let’s face it, if your content is sloppy or ill-conceived, no amount of caching or compression is going to save your load speeds. Fortunately, there are a few easy techniques for optimizing your content that can make a big difference.

Say goodbye to oversized images. One of the biggest culprits of slow loading time in WordPress is image size. When you upload an image via the standard WordPress Media Library, you upload the full-sized image. WordPress will simply scale down that image to smaller sizes; the overall file size of that particular image remains the same.

The most obvious way to avoid this problem is to resize images before upload.

If you don’t want to take the time to resize every image by hand, though, you can spice up the vanilla WordPress media uploader with the use of a plugin like Imsanity.

Compress images even more. Another handy tool to reduce image size is an image optimizer, which takes the image file and removes any unnecessary data bytes stored within. This is a lossless technique, meaning you end up with a smaller image without any loss of image quality. And again, there are plugins to handle this for you. Check out the EWWW Image Optimizer or WP Smush.it.

Tell ‘em what to expect. Search engines prefer images with specified sizes. If the height and width of an image already is specified in the code, the browser doesn’t have to take the time to interpolate every image.

Read the full article.

Grow WordPress Blog Content Audit
“Content audit: Prep your blog for a successful year by reviewing posts” by Jennifer Priest

If you’re looking ahead to build out an editorial calendar for the coming year, it’s a great time to conduct a blog audit to assess what’s working for your blog. By optimizing your proven, high-performing content, you can supplement your new content and develop a content strategy that’s sure to turn heads. Repurposing, republishing, and monetizing previously published blog content can lighten your workload and increase revenue.

There are four steps to auditing your past blog posts:

1. Identify your top posts.

First things first — you need to find your best-performing posts. There are a couple of ways to do a content audit by using different analytics programs across the internet and even within your own blog.

Google Analytics. Use Google Analytics to identify your top 10 to 20 posts each month over the past year. Then make a list of your top posts for the last 12 months and all-time.

Pinterest Analytics. Visually, what did people find appealing from your blog? Look at the all-time performance for your domain in the Pinterest Analytics dashboard. Export the list of Power Pins, Most Saves pins and Best Search pins for your domain.

Facebook Analytics. Though Facebook’s analytics tool only reaches 90 days into the past, it can be valuable in helping you determine which content performs best with your audience. In Insights, look at the “Posts” view. Sort by reach and engagement to view the top posts for the last 90 days. Export the data to look deeper.

Posts list on your blog. Go through your posts list. Which posts might be rewritten and republished next year? Which are missing information? Which should be deleted? Make notes detailing which should be edited, deleted, repurposed and/or linked to future posts.

2. Analyze trends to build out your editorial calendar for next year.

Look for common threads between the posts that were top performers on your blog, Pinterest and Facebook. Examine comments on blog posts, and note the number of shares to identify the characteristics that make that post resonate or stand out to your followers. Consider the following:

Voice and point of view. Are you sharing humor, honesty or a certain tone in your writing that helps readers connect with your content?

Topic. Is the topic timely? Does it reach a certain demographic within your larger following? Are there several posts in the same genre or general topic?

Trendiness. Is the topic trendy and possibly out-of-date for the coming year?

Pain points. Do the posts solve a common problem? Posts that save money, provide solutions to problems, and show how-to’s have high value to readers and good potential for repurposing.

3. Identify posts for editing, repurposing and deleting.

Start with your top 10 posts from this past year, and then work through them in chunks as time allows. The posts on your list should fit into one of five categories:

Edit. These are posts that are missing information, need information removed, or need an edit to improve the usefulness of the post.

Monetize. Turn posts into money makers through affiliate marketing, partnerships, adding product links, adding content upgrades and other money-making strategies.

Republish. Identify posts that can be updated and republished again this year. Some can be republished as an individual post, or they can be grouped together and republished as a new product, such as an eBook.

Skip. These are posts that are monetized, hit all the key marks for SEO and content, or are sponsored and cannot be edited.

Delete. These are irrelevant posts that no longer fit your brand message and get little to no traffic. Do not redirect these links — a 404 error tells search engines to stop indexing that post because it no longer exists.

4. Optimize the posts.

Optimizing posts is an all-around beneficial practice. It improves the reader’s experience, boosts search engine ranking, reinforces your brand, generates leads and email subscribers, and helps you make money.

Paginate posts to increase ad revenue, lower bounce rate, and improve readability by breaking up an existing high-traffic post into multiple pages. Rewrite the content to help propel the reader through the pages of the post.

Monetize. If you already have affiliate links on the post, make sure they are working and that the product is still available. Add a relevant content upgrade with an email opt-in to capture leads.

Rewrite posts. Improve popular posts by rewriting them to add valuable information.

Republish posts. Identify evergreen posts over 12 months old that can be updated and republished as if they were new posts. Rewrite the post, adding new information, monetization, and other improvements outlined above. Publish these edited posts as new posts with a new date, keeping the original post URL the same so that you don’t lose any referral traffic.

Create a product from posts. If you have a popular group of posts, you can pull content from them and turn them into an eBook for sale or to use as a content upgrade.

Read the full article.

Quick Checklist: Measure success and move forward

To recap, take these steps to measure the success of your WordPress blog:

  • Sign up for Google Analytics.
  • Revisit / audit your blog archive.
  • Rework / republish existing content.
  • Review traffic numbers to plan new content.

Time to begin measuring success and planning ahead: 3-5 hours, then ongoing

Additional resources

Want to take your blog to the next level? Check out these resources to prep your WordPress blog for continued success:

  • Recycle! Stop making your content strategy a one-hit wonder. Don’t let old content go to waste. Learn what you could do with previously published posts to invigorate your content strategy.
  • 8 easy ways to become a faster, more efficient blogger. Want to avoid writing slumps? Check out these tips to keep your blog prolific and engaging.
  • Google PageSpeed Insights. Check your blog’s page loading speed.
  • Learn how lazy loading (done right) can speed up your WordPress site’s page load time. Learn how to load resources on your site — only when the user needs them.

That’s a wrap

You did it. You worked your way through this guide, and now you’re armed with all the resources and knowledge you could need to start and grow a WordPress blog. Whether you decide to use one or all of the tools and advice we discussed, you’ve won. Take a look at all that you’ve accomplished. It’s pretty nice, isn’t it?

Now that you’re ready to take your blog to the next level, check out our 5-step blogger business plan.