If you aren’t new to my blog, you may have noticed that things have changed around here! When creating a website platform of any kind you want it to be organized, user-friendly and appealing and this was my focus when developing this website!
Starting a blog is time consuming and tricky if you don’t know what do to or where to start. I consider myself a beginner blogger but upgrading my site helped expand my tech knowledge significantly! If you are new to blogging or have an interest in creating a social media platform of some kind the following will likely be useful to you:
Option #1 – Free Blog or Website Platform
If you don’t have a blog base and aren’t sure if blogging is for you, creating an account on WordPress.com is a great place to start! Once you’ve created your account, select a free template that fits your blog needs and customize it to your liking.
No cost, it allows you to expose your content and is very easy to use. Safe choice for bloggers who aren’t yet sure they should invest! Requires little to no maintenance.
You do not own your domain name, customization options are limited and doesn’t look as professional.
I recommend this option for new bloggers who want to dip their toes in the blogging world. I took this avenue for the first year, to allow myself to invest in the activities I complete on a weekly basis.
Note: You can upgrade you WordPress.com site, at a monthly cost, to unlock more advanced features!
Option #2 – Web Host Option
This approach has more steps and represents more of a learning curve but has plenty of benefits.
You own your domain name and have control over your website. Allows you to design and integrate any settings and features you want. Appears more professional.
Has a monthly cost which can be very low or quite high depending on your needs. Requires some maintenance.
Web Design Service 🖥
To begin this journey, I contacted a web designer friend Mike, the owner of Designful.ca, to enquire about upgrading my blog layout. He is incredibly knowledgeable and his businesses focuses on the following:
- Design services for websites, logos, posters, apparel, printing and business cards
- Video editing, 3D modeling and 3D Video rendering, YouTube introductions
- Photography services and photo retouching
- Software & App Development
- Marketing consultations (can touch on email campaigns and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to help you reach the first search page on Google)
I had never worked with Mike prior to this and am so thankful he was willing to guide me. He got back to me in no time and the work began…
Step 1: Find and purchase a wordpress template
When selecting a template, it’s ideal that it comes with Visual Composer! I completed a search on ThemeForest for a template design that fits my blogging style and made sure it included visual composer.
Do not rush this step. They have tons of options and each template has many customization options, so filter through them until you absolutely love one. It’s important to keep in mind that the cost is in US dollars.
Note: If your template does not have Visual Composer you can always purchase it separately.
Purchase Theme: ✔️
Step 2: Find a Web host
This is where your blog or website will live. I was referred to GreenGeeks and think it was a perfect fit. When you sign-up for three years, it costs as little as $3.95 a month, plus it includes your free domain name (which you need) for as long as you keep the service. It takes seconds to sign-up and register your unique domain name. You can sign-up Here.
Customer service wise, GreenGeeks has been awesome! We’ve had to submit various tickets to resolve problems I was experiencing on my end and they responded very quickly (within minutes the majority of the time) and always provided useful resolution options.
Please note: The GreenGeeks links in this article are affiliate links! Any purchase made after selecting it will help support my blog articles and, for this, I thank you ❤️
Find a web host: ✔️
Step 3: Register your domain name
Skip to step #4 if you registered with GreenGeeks as your web host, since the domain name step is completed upon registration. If, however, you want to purchase your domain name through another website you can do so and link it to any web host you choose, including GreenGeeks.
When it comes to choosing a Domain name, this website has tips and tricks to consider during your brainstorming process.
If you own a domain name already, make sure to transfer it, don’t cancel it. If you cancel it, it will take days or weeks to become available again and sometimes it doesn’t at all apparently.
Register domain name: already ✔️✔️
Step 4: Setup your new template on WordPress bakery
For this step, I let Mike (Designful.ca) take over. He setup the new template on the WordPress bakery platform/through my web host and transferred my existing blog data to the new template. He kept me informed and was really efficient with doing so. If you don’t know how this step works, feel free to contact Mike as he took care of all this.
Fun fact: You have the flexibility of meeting in person or discussing/working together remotely which is very convenient.
New template setup: ✔️
Step 5: Customize your template using Visual Composer
This is where Visual Composer becomes key. Now your new template set up, your work begins. You have to organize, customize and create your website/blog. A good start is finding the page colour options and site typography settings (aka text styles and format) and start playing with those. Templates come with pre-set page options which you can modify or you can create new ones. Visual Composer helps you edit your website by letting you select functions rather than have to code the content.
It’s basically all trial and error and, I ain’t gonna lie, it requires TONS of patience. If you get stuck, google your specific request or ask help from your web developer. You can hire someone like Mike, to complete this step on your behalf or to help guide you with various steps! I think learning the editing features on WordPress bakery and with Visual Composer is key to feeling comfortable using your site in the long run.
A few useful things to do:
1 – Install free plug-ins such as WP fastest cache, Contact Form 7, Sassy Social Share, and Updraft Plus Backup (this type of plugin is important since it allows you to backup your site in the event you crash it, trust me it happens)
2 – Upgrade plugins depending on your needs (I had to upgrade WP fastest Cache for about $60 Canadian because my site was not running quickly)
3 – Compress your images using an application like Compressor.io
4 – Create a Mailchimp account and personalized campaigns if using a Mailchimp Subcriber plugin
Customize template: ✔️
Step 6: Peer review of your site
It’s a good idea to have someone knowledgeable review your site content. This will help identify any potential gaps, mistakes or even provide useful suggestions. I asked friends, family and my web developer to filter through my blog to see if they had any suggestions!
Peer review complete: ✔️
Creating your own blog won’t happen overnight but it’s well worth the time and effort you invest. By following the steps above you can successfully design a blog that represents your individual style!