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Three Ways to Blog with WordPress
There are three ways to start blogging with WordPress. You can host your own WordPress blog where you have full control over everything, but also the responsibility for maintaining and updating your site. A free alternative is WordPress.com where they take care of the maintenance for you. You may be in charge of your own backups, and that may not be free. Before signing up for a WordPress.com blog, be sure to read and understand their terms of service or you could lose your blog. The third alternative, which is normally free, is to write for a blogging or revenue sharing site that uses a WordPress platform. In my opinion, BlobJob is the easiest of these to use and profit from. You can join BlogJob here. Other sites I know of that use a WordPress interface for publishing are Daily 2 Cents and Writedge. There are probably many others I do not know about.
This is the most expensive WordPress blogging option. I have used many WordPress hosts. Domain name registration and hosting fees, as well as various optional expenses like automatic back-up of your site, can vary. I had been happy with Hostgator as a web host for my main website for several years, but after it was sold, I wasn’t as happy. I have since switched to SiteGround hosting, and I’ve been very happy there. I choose the Grow Big hosting plan because i started a new blog and migrated my old site. You can have multiple blogs on a Grow Big Plan, so it seemed the best deal for me. Now I know my WordPress site there is speedy and secure. Their tech support answered all my questions and walked me through getting my domain migrated properly, even though my situation was more complicated than some others. There is a toll-free tech support line if you run into any problems, although you can install WordPress itself with a click from the easy-to-access control panel. Get your hosting from SiteGround here. Most web hosts have a similar way to install WordPress, Weebly, and other free site builders. Installation is usually the easy part.
I’d like to make a plug for the Pajama Affiliates ad above. I signed up for an Affiliate Master Class they offer because I simply wasn’t making many affiliate sales no matter how hard I worked. I decided when I saw what kind of money these people I had known at Squidoo were making it would be worth the small investment to learn from them. The teacher, Leslie, made over $50,000 on Amazon alone in December, 2015. I saw the proof. I also looked at some of her posts and could immediately see why she was getting sales. Since I only made about $13.00 on Amazon for the entire year, I knew Leslie had plenty to teach me, and my friends who were already enrolled in the course told me how valuable they found it. Clicking the image above will take you to a page that describes all the video courses that are currently open. Some of them are on sale as I write this, but since everyone won’t read this in time I suggest you just click this link for current pricing. I have already learned enough to make a difference so I just signed up for two more courses that were on sale, The Buyer Keyword Bonus course and the Free Advertising with Social Media Course. I know the Keyword Course is going to pay for itself, and I’ve only seen the first video. This sale only lasted until about January 3, 2016, but courses often go on sale for a limited time, so it doesn’t hurt to click. Clicking costs you nothing.
Setting Up Your WordPress Site
Choose a Theme
After installation comes set-up. This is the tricky part. You will first need a theme. You will need to decide if you want a free theme or a premium theme (not free.) I think it’s best to start with a free theme. There are lots of choices. Some are better for those who want to sell products from their sites. Others are better for those who want to show off photos. Some are very plain for those who just want to write their thoughts. I personally like free themes. My favorite is Twenty Fourteen because I’ve used it the most. You can see it on this post from Barb’s Writing Life, a self-hosted site. I like it because it has two sidebars, and I can get a lot into those. I just switched my free WordPress site over to that theme, as well, since I started that blog before there was much of a choice and it needed a new look. It was to the point where I didn’t even want to see it anymore. I haven’t finished customizing it yet, so it’s still a work in process. I have also used Twenty Fourteen on one of my BlogJob blogs, The Sky is God’s Canvas. If you compare the three pages, you will see the full potential of this theme for those who do affiliate marketing and / or want to display their Facebook page, twitter tweets, etc.
Decide what you want to accomplish with your blog and then choose a theme that has what you need. Some have no sidebars, some one sidebar, and some two. Some allow for large header images and some are very plain. I suggest you look through the ones offered, activate the one that looks best at first glance, and then write a post. After that, preview your post and see how it looks with that theme. If you don’t like it, try another.
Customize Your Theme
There is much you can do to customize a theme, but I’m going to start with the first things everyone should do. At the very top of your blog and / or on your dashboard, you will see the word customize. Save your draft, and then click Customize. If you are looking at your dashboard, Customize will appear to the right of it when you mouse over Appearance. Under the name of your theme you will see several headings. The first is Site Identity. Click it. You will find a place to put the title of your site. This can be changed, but your URL can’t be.
Under that you will see a place for your tag line. The default tagline on BlogJob is “Just Another BlogJob Site.” Most of the blogs I visit on BlogJob have left it there. Why would anyone do that? It’s a great place to put a short summary of what your site is about that will add valuable keywords for Google to find. You’d be better off to delete the default if you can’t think of your own tagline than to leave it there. Select the default, delete, and replace with something better. Your title and tagline will show in your header.
The other thing you can do is something I did for the first time on this blog. You can make a favicon (also called a site icon here.) It has to be at least 512 pixels square. It should represent what your site is about. It will show in the browser tab for your site. I found a free public domain image on Pixabay, cropped it to square, and resized it to 600 pixels long and tall to make the square. You don’t have to do this, but you can.
How to Manage Widgets
Another thing you should do at the very beginning before you publish your first post is to get rid of any default widgets in your theme you aren’t going to use right away. They just look odd. If you aren’t selling anything, you don’t need a shopping cart widget. Remove it if you don’t sell products. If you chose a commercial theme, don’t add a product tag cloud or product list unless you are actually selling products from your site. Instead, use the widget for a tag cloud. I also got rid of my meta widget. No one is authorized to log into my site but me, and I didn’t see why I needed this.
I can almost hear someone asking me, “That sounds easy for you, but how do I add and remove widgets?” It depends upon your theme. This image came from “Twenty Fourteen” and until recently this method is the only one I knew about, and this is the hardest. The only reason it’s hard is because the diagrams of the sidebars where you put widgets are at the top right of the page and some of the widgets you will want to use are at the very bottom of the left. If I wanted to add the Jetpack twitter feed, I would have to find it at bottom left and drag it to a space that will open up on the sidebar where I want it. Just to make it easy to understand, let’s say you want to add (BuddyPress Log In) to the left sidebar. I would put my mouse on the widget on the left and drag it to the right sidebar. As it approaches the sidebar, a new space will open. If you need to put information in your widget, click it, fill in the blanks, and save. If you don’t like where it is placed on the list, just drag it to the position you want it in. The only hard part of this is the hand and eye coordination if the widgets you want are on the bottom.
The hardest part of this widget set-up for me is removing widgets. It’s like adding them except you go backward. Instead of dragging widgets from the left to the sidebars, you drag the widgets you don’t want to the very bottom of the left of the page and stick it in an inactive widget slot, which should open up for you when you get there. The image below shows the very bottom of the widget page.
What you can’t see in this image is the widgets you want to remove because they are all the way to the top right. You have to go up there, grab the widget, and just keep dragging down to the left until you finally see the inactive widget box. Sometimes I get to a barrier that stops my mouse before I get there and I have to start over. Persistence pays.
Some themes have an easier way to manage widgets. Take a look at this BlogJob site I did with the Arcade Basic theme. When you first begin your blog there’s a link from the landing page to customize in a large button. If you click it you will see the Customize Panel again, and at the end of the list you will see Widgets. When you click it, you will see this. If I click First Sidebar, it will open to that list of what’s on that sidebar. Click the Add a Widget button and the list of what you can add will appear. Drag it to where you want it.