So You Wanna Start a Blog, Do You?
WayLay shows you how to do it!

You can’t possibly be a reader of this blog and not heard me go on and on about WayLay. Wayne and Selina have a little web design company out of Las Vegas, Nevada.

One day, I cried out on Facebook about a problem I was having with my server which was Go Daddy at the time. I was in the middle of a MESS trying to move my site somewhere else and they swept in, onto my Facebook page like Internet Gods and came to my rescue. Literally. They said “Leave it with us. We’ll fix everything, my child“. And they did. For no reason other than wanting to help me.

I’ve been singing their praises ever since. I’ve gone to them with questions so weird they didn’t have an immediate answer, but they always, always went away to figure it out then came back to show me what they came up with. They’ve never once said “Gee, I don’t know. I guess your’e out of luck“. They say, “Gee, I don’t know. It’ll be fun to figure it out.” First of all, I always respect someone when they admit to not knowing something. It’s usually the sign of a really confident, smart person. Second of all, how can you not love someone who emails back on their wedding day to APOLOGIZE for not being able to answer your question right away, because … well … they’re getting married in an hour!

The question I get asked more than any other question is How did you start your blog, and how can I go about starting one too?

Wayne and Selina are going to answer that for you right now.

 

How To Set Up A WordPress Blog

“I really want to start my own blog, but where do I begin!?” This is a question that we get quite often and so today, we’re going to walk through the basics of getting your blog up and running in less than 10 minutes!

Our process at WayLay Design is a bit different and a little more advanced, but this process will work for those that are just getting started and have little to no knowledge of how this whole internets thing works.

 

A Brief Introduction:

Before we go diving into the process and the steps necessary to get yourself up and running, we’d like to take a second to sort of explain it in Layman’s Terms so that you understand what each step of the process is all about.

So let’s think about building a website just like building a house. The first thing you need to do, is get an address for your new home. This will be how people are able to find you. In regards to your website, this is going to be your domain name.

Once you have your address, you then need to purchase a plot of land in which to build your house. This is your website hosting. Now that you have your address and your land, you can begin building your house on it (your website).

As you build your house, you will organize the layout and content into individual rooms. These will be your categories and pages.

Getting Your Domain Name and Hosting:

While there are many many domain name and hosting options out there, for purposes of this post we are going to use our personal favorite, SiteGround. Generally we like to keep domain names and hosting through separate companies, but again for the beginner this is going to be the easiest way to go about it. The total cost for this without any add-ons is $83.40 ($6.95 per month) for a year. Not a bad deal for a domain and hosting.

Since Karen’s blog, is more established she needs a more powerful host.  She uses ServInt.  ServInt is great and well priced for larger sites with higher traffic demands.

 

To get started, you can click here: SiteGround.com and click on the “Order Now” button on the right side of the banner.

On the next page it will ask you if you would like to register a new domain name (which they will include for free) or if you already have a domain name that you would like to associate with the hosting account.

Notice on this page that you will see just above the “Proceed” button that you have 30% off, “their highest value coupon”.

 

 

You only receive the 30% off if you purchase your domain and hosting for a two year period. However, to get this offer while purchasing only a one year period, click the “Proceed” button to go to the next page. After this page loads, click the “Back” button in your browser and you will get a popup with an offer to save 30% off. Just click the big pink button. This will give you one year of hosting and domain name for $6.95 per month.

 

 


 

This will bring you back to your billing information with the 30% off now applied. At the bottom of this page, you will notice the “Domain Services” and “Extra Services”. Technically you can uncheck all of these as they aren’t necessary, but if you feel you would want to keep any of them you can.

 

 

Getting Started:

After you have submitted your payment, you are ready to go immediately. SiteGround offers a very simple set up wizard and will ask you specific questions including if you would like them to install WordPress for you. SiteGround does a great job of guiding you through the entire setup process and it should be very easy to follow along. Within just a few minutes, your WordPress site will be up and running, ready for you to begin. This entire process should take less than 10 minutes.

Choosing Your Design:

WordPress by default offers a very basic, core theme. Very few people actually use this theme, so you will probably want to find another. A quick note about readymade themes, while there are some that look great from the front, we find that often times users have difficulty in getting them just the way that they want for easy editing in the admin. This is because the theme is designed for the masses and it’s impossible to foresee every possible way that a user may want to modify the theme, so the idea is to create them with a basic set of options that would be applicable to most users, but may fall short of expectations once installed. Free themes are a good place to start since they don’t cost anything and you can see what options are available for that particular theme.

Paid themes are another way to go. The paid themes are a bit better looking and generally have more options for you in the admin for greater control over the look of your site. Paid themes often offer better support should you have any issues down the road.

Either of these options generally work fine for most beginners, but as you go you may find that you want a very specific set of features and controls in your admin for the easiest way to modify the look of your blog or you may want a completely custom design to ensure that your site doesn’t look like anyone else’s that may be using the same theme as you. This is where custom themes come in that are built specifically for your site.

These are built around only want you want and are not “bloated” with options that you will never use. Of course to have something custom built isn’t necessarily “cheap”, but if you want to make sure that no other site looks like yours and you are able to modify exactly what you want easily, this is your best option in the long run.

To search for themes from your WordPress admin area, you can click on “Appearance > Themes”. On the themes page, you can click “Install Themes” from the tab at the top. From there you can search themes based on color, number of columns, features, etc.

If you have downloaded a theme from somewhere else, this is also where you can upload it by clicking the “Upload” link near the top under the tabs. Once you have your theme installed, you can begin customizing it by exploring all of the theme options available as well as setting up all of your administrative information such as name, email, etc.

Plugins:

Plugins are pre-made, website helpers.  They’re little programs that are very easily  downloaded to WordPress.  With every WordPress installation, there are few base plugins that we recommend using to help you with your SEO.  Plugins are easy to install

All In One SEO Pack: This plugin allows you to enter keywords and titles for each of your posts for better indexing in search engines.

Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin creates a search engine friendly sitemap of your site for faster indexing of your site URLs. It also notifies search engines every time a new post or page goes up on your site.

Permalink Settings:

Another thing that we recommend doing is changing your site URLs over to SEO friendly URLs. This is also better for your SEO.

An example of the default URL looks like this:
http://www.waylaydesign.com/?p=123 (which tells search engines nothing about what’s on the page and doesn’t help with keywords in the URL)

An SEO friendly URL looks like this:
http://www.waylaydesign.com/sample-post/ (this tells the search engine the title of the post and will be used to match keyword searches through search engines)

To change your Permalink settings, login to your WordPress admin and choose “Settings > Permalinks” from the left sidebar menu near the bottom. On that page, choose the “Post Name” option and save your settings.

That’s it. You are now ready to begin writing your first blog posts and publishing them. Again this is a very basic set of instructions intended only to get you up and running. We have included some resource links for you below to help you along beyond the setup process. We hope that you have found this information useful! Happy blogging!

Try WordPress Out:
If you would like to see how the basic backend admin area of a WordPress site works you can go to the link below and use the login details. This demo site is reinstalled every few hours so feel free to create posts, pages and modify the appearance of WordPress.

http://demo.opensourcecms.com/wordpress/wp-login.php
Username: admin
Password: demo123

Hosting and Domain Account:
SiteGround

Learning WordPress:
First Steps With WordPress

Free Themes:
Free Themes WP

Paid Themes:
Elegant Themes

We are available for hire if you prefer to have a custom site built or need any assistance in setting up your blog and theme. Please feel free to contact us if you would like any additional information on the services we offer. http://www.waylaydesign.com

 

************************************

Note from Karen!

 

I know this all seems confusing, but once you get going and install WordPress it’ll all make sense.  So if you’ve ever thought to yourself … Well, hell.  I should start a blog, you probably should.  Do it today.

Thanks to Wayne and Selina at Waylay!


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35 Comments

  1. Linda J Howes says:

    But what if you already have a host? Do you wait for it to run out?
    And can you use a web page builder that is installed on your computer such as “iWeb”?

    • Selina says:

      Hi Linda!
      Good questions! You can use your current host if you already have one and yes, you can use any type of web page builder that you have.

      All you would need to do is create your pages in iWeb and then upload them to your hosting account via FTP. Hope that helps!

  2. Mary Werner says:

    WOW, I will probably never start a blog but you have sure given great instructions in an easy to understand format. I will remember your name for future reference to others!!!! Thanks for all the information.

  3. Kari C. says:

    This is the best, easiest-to-understand explanation I’ve ever read (especially for someone like me who is totally clueless when it comes to that kind of stuff). I’ve been wanting to get my own domain and hosting and move to WordPress but have no clue how to go about it. I will definitely check out Waylay Design. Thanks for sharing!

  4. It’s even easier if you get your husband to set it all up for you, and every time you have a problem you run to him with a sad face, and he will fix it 😉

  5. Patti says:

    Nice! Those are really great instructions! Great job!

  6. Dawna Jones says:

    Karen, this is so nice of you to share with people who have a difficult time understanding this kind of thing! Fortunately I have a friend who is also a web designer who has been so good to me in this area,but I love reading up on this because you never know when you might have to resort to doing it yourself. Good luck to everyone that is going to give this a try!http://www.dawnajonesdesign.com/

  7. Anna says:

    Just to be clear, this is for wordpress.org users, not wordpress.com, correct?

    • Selina says:

      Hi Anna,
      Yes. This is for WordPress.org and not WordPress.com. With WordPress.com, all you have to do is sign up and start blogging.

      You are more limited with the .com platform because you can’t use plugins to add functionality and you can only use premade themes.

  8. debbie says:

    I have recently started a blog with wordpress, thesis theme. Is there a tutorial somewhere to learn how to make it more creative with custom titles and sidebars?

  9. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Very interesting!!! Thanks!

  10. Barbie says:

    Wayne and Selina are the best! They did my entire site and I LOVE it and them. They are honest and integral people and are so good at what they do! The BEST.
    Thanks Waylay for a such an informative post!

  11. Margaret says:

    Ha. Of course you posted a few days after I started a freebie blog on WordPress.com. Now what? Is it really difficult to switch over? I’m just dipping my toes in as I figure out exactly what I want to say and how.

    • Selina says:

      Hi Margaret!
      Actually, looking at your site, you only have two posts so it’s way easier to move it now than later. The theme that you are using is free for WordPress.com subscribers, but not free to use on WordPress.org. If you’re not married to the theme, you can find many others available for free based on the instructions above.

      Because there is so little content, it’s not really worth “moving”, but rather setting up your new WordPress.org and just setting it back up again and adding your posts. Hope this helps!

      • Margaret says:

        Thanks, Selina!
        I might consider this. I’m only 3 posts in, but I’m having fun. Where do you think the make or break point is for doing a move vs. restarting on WordPress.org? Just curious…

        • Selina says:

          Well, it really depends on the content of the site itself. The more photos and comments you have, the more difficult it becomes as you have to export from one site and import into another.

          Any time you do this, it’s not a guarantee that everything will be imported correctly, and the larger the file size of all of the WordPress data, the more likely it is that the process will timeout and be incomplete. You can also re-import the same file, but that risks duplicating the sections of the file that were already imported, so it’s a lot of double-checking to make sure that everything comes out the same on the WordPress.org site as it is on the WordPress.com site.

          The biggest WordPress-to-Wordpress transfer we ever took on had over 400 blog posts and was a bit tricky to get it all smoothed out (although we have had one where we had to manually transfer over 600 web pages to a WordPress platform because the original website was built using standard HTML files).

          Another consideration is redirecting all of your old site links to your new ones (“301 redirects”) to avoid having all of the links to your site that show up in search results from being broken (if your URL’s end up being different after the move). This can be very tedious if you have a lot of pages/posts.

          I guess a good rule of thumb would be if it takes longer to copy and paste all the content from one site to another, then it’s better to do a “move” instead. Most likely you will need professional help if your site gets large enough to warrant a move instead of recreating the site yourself manually.

  12. Laura Bee says:

    I’m not sure the world is ready for me.

    Maybe one day, because now I have the knowledge! 🙂

  13. Leona says:

    Options I had not even considered. I’m very excited! Thank you Waylay and thank you Karen for inviting them to post. Amazing to find such a generous blogging community. I hope to be in the position soon to pay it all forward. 😉

  14. Hi Everyone,
    I started with a wordpress.com blog and after 8 months,I moved my blog to a wordpress.org and had Wayne and Selina from Waylay do my site redesign.
    They are the BEST COMPANY I have ever worked with. Ever. They answer every.single.question with an answer in real english that I could understand. I have learned so much from them. I also learned that I was a computer dummy. LOL.
    I am now starting to help others with their blogs. Incredible.
    After my site went live, my blog traffic stats went up 700% . Yup, that’s right 700%. I could barely believe it myself.
    I owe KAREN and WAYLAY a great deal for the success of my blog.
    Let’s go out for a big PAAAAaaaarty !!!!
    Cheers !!
    Lynne

    • Thank you so much Lynne! We really appreciate you taking the time to leave such a nice comment. We are so happy to see one of our clients thrive as well as you have. All we did was redesign your site, your success is all you. We’re still up for the party though 😉 Just let us know when and where 😉

      Cheers to you!
      –Wayne and Selina

  15. Marti says:

    Hi Selina,

    I was wondering if anyone has ever told you and Wayne enough how utterly COOL you are? And have they really thanked Karen adequately for being willing to spread the word?

    You guys are sooooooo great! And … oh wait. I just looked above and Lynne is pretty much saying everything I meant to say. Haha!

    Thanks Karen! Thanks WayLay!

    (And yes, I will answer that latest email Wayne sent me when I’ve gotten just a tad more sleep)

    • Karen says:

      Agreed! They’re wonderful to work with. Those crazy newlyweds even emailed me on their wedding day to say they might be late responding to a question I had. Because … it was their wedding day. ~ karen!

      • Lol, Karen. Even though it was our wedding day, we felt soooo bad about not having got back to you. Thanks for understanding 😉

        We really appreciate all the exposure you’ve given us, even though we’ve never met. Hell. We’ve never even Skyped.

        Seriously though…thanks for everything. We sincerely appreciate it.

        Wayne and Selina

    • Selina says:

      Oh Marti! Go on….no seriously…go on 😉 We don’t try to be cool, we just do what we do and stay who we are, the rest just works itself out.

      And no…we have not adequately thanked Karen for spreading the word about us, and I don’t think that we’ll ever be able to.

      Thank you Karen for the recommendation to Marti, and thank you Marti for giving us the opportunity and trusting us with your project.

      And yes…we are awaiting a reply on that last email 😉

  16. Eva says:

    I was wondering if you do your own photos? The best blogs I’ve seen also have great pics. So I’m guessing that it helps to be pretty handy with a camera in addition to having some IT skills to get a blog rolling.

    • Karen says:

      Eva – Indeed. And yes, I personally take all my own photos. But this post wasn’t on how to build a *successful* blog, just on how to get your starter blog up and running! ~ karen

  17. Cathy says:

    I’d like to offer another glowing recommendation for WayLay. I’m so grateful to Karen for posting about them. Wayne and Selina have been absolutely terrific to work with on a redesign from an html site to WordPress. We’ll be relaunching the site soon, and I know everyone’s going to LOVE the new look and improved navigation.

  18. Nikki Gentry says:

    I own two online businesses, which were both created by Wayne and Selina. They really are amazing to work with. I am so pleased with my online storefronts!

  19. Thanks for this Karen! Really! I’ve been debating on whether or not to take hobby blogging to the next level and this post was helpful as searching reviews for a good hosting site is hard so I went to your site b/c I trust your honesty. So thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Alex! That’s the kind of compliments I like. In fact I just turned down a $4,000 endorsement for a free refrigerator because as a rule I don’t like the manufacturer and don’t find them to be reliable. I was going to have to mention how great they were in a post. I do not think they’re great so I had to turn it down even though it would have meant a free $4000 fridge for me. 🙁 So the search continues. ~ karen!

      • If it’s the same manufacturer of all the appliances in our old condo I don’t blame you. 3 out of 4 of the main ones – dishwasher, microwave and washing machine – died within 2 years. All brand new. I won’t touch their name. I totally get it.

  20. nancyeileen says:

    I have begun.
    I’ve started my blog, and I’m already embarrassed about 2 things regarding my blog!
    Im using wordpress, its relatively easy to use, but I can’t get past not being able to upload photos to my gallery without that photo be posted as a single post…of a photo…posting :/

  21. Hi there, I wish for to subscribe for this web site to obtain most up-to-date
    updates, thus where can i do it please help.

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