Go to WordPress.com to start a free blog. The obvious disadvantage of a free blog is lack of branding. Your website address will look something like this: www.username.wordpress.com.
A free blog on WordPress will not allow you full control over customisation and will serve third-party advertisements. Start a free blog if you are still working on your content and such. However, link it to a domain name of your own as soon as possible.
We do not recommend having a free blog for a craft business or any kind of business. Its shows you are an amateur, which is an impression we never want the buyer get.
The best way to start your blog is to get a domain name of your own. You absolutely must reserve a domain name as you soon as you decide what to call your online craft business.
You can link the domain name to your free WordPress blog. The linking service is $13/year at the time of writing this article. However, while you will have your own website address of your blog, this will still not remove the 3rd party advertisements.
You can choose the premium hosting package at WordPress for $99/year (at the time of writing this). This gives you more versatility and features on your blog and removes third-party advertisements which is important if you want to maintain a professional look to your website.
However, the best practise to set up a WordPress blog is as follows. We highly recommend you follow this route to begin with. It will save you a lot of time and effort later on.
Domain Name & Blog Hosting
Start with a domain name and use a web hosting plan.
For a good hosting solution, we highly recommend:
DreamHost. (Get $50 off with only our link.) We recommend DreamHost for WordPress hosting. Not everyone gets to discover this gem of a web-hosting service. But it is the winner of “Best Hosting Service” for 3 years running now (at the time of writing this article).
It may seem very slightly expensive as compared to some other hosting companies but they end up charging the same or more amount once you go beyond the offers you see on the first page. Dreamhost shows you upfront what you need to pay and there are no additional hidden charges.
And the good news is that if you go through our link, you will get an immediate $50 off on the annual package.
We feel that Dreamhost offers more services and comparable services from any other host cost much more.
We highly recommend going for at least 1 year, because its cheaper, you have a 97 days money back guarantee ( the longest any web hosting offers) and you can cancel anytime even before 1 year and get balance of your money back.
Getting your own domain name and website is not difficult. Just follow the steps. It does not take more than a few clicks to get your own domain name, choose the hosting plan and setup a WordPress blog on it. Everything is very user friendly.
The following are some screenshots of the screens that will appear.
This is the first page you see. If you click on the blue box that says Learn More, you will be taken the Dreamhost shared hosting information. However, if you scroll down the page, you will see that they offer much more from specialised WordPress hosting, Virtual Private Servers and even Dedicated Servers.
As a beginner you want to start with the shared hosting, so click on the blue box and move to the next step.
Here you get to see how much the shared hosting costs you and more details about it. Click on the yellow box to continue or scroll below to read more about what their shared hosting plans offer you.
One of the most crucial things that separate the better shared hosting from others is the kind of resources they allocate to you. Sure others might give you a cheaper price, but they will be so darned slow that it will be frustrating. Your website will be down more often than not. Any extra load even when you are editing posts will make your shared server shut you down.
For one price Dreamhost allows you to host unlimited number of websites on a single plan. Which means that you can have any number of domains or blogs running for a single price.
The next step asks you to create an account. Your email and the password you use will be the login to your control panel from where you can do everything including buying domain names and install WordPress in a single click.
The next step will ask you if you want to pick out a domain or use an existing one. Or you can skip this step altogether if you haven't finalised the domain name yet. Another great thing about Dreamhost is that you can also register your domains with them so all your stuff in under one control panel. They have over 300 domain extensions to choose from apart from the usual .com, .net, .org etc.
If you are using a domain name that you already own, you will be very easy instructions on how to point it to your hosting plan.
And yes, the first domain name you choose with your hosting plan is free for you.
After the domain name step, you will be asked to choose whether you want to pay monthly, yearly or 3 yearly. Definitely go for the yearly payment. They are very clear advantages to it. You will save money, you will not have to pay month after month and it feels much better to be done for entire year.
Besides, don’t worry about it because you are covered by a 97 day money back guarantee, no questions asked. And even if you want to cancel before the year is up, you get the balance money as refund. Don’t think that by choosing an yearly payment you are locked in for a year. You are not. You are just paying less because you are paying in bulk.
This is the only add-on you are offered and not like the dozens of confusing options that other hosting services offer that increase the cost of the hosting package in the final steps. Anyway, you don’t need this right now, so move on without opting for this offer.
That’s it. Make the payment and you are ready to start your blog. Once you log in to your Control Panel, you will see “One Click Install” under the “Goodies” section in the sidebar. Click on that. You will see the option of installing WordPress. Just click on it, choose the domain on which you want to install, and you are done.
Don’t even worry about this because you can ask us any question you have about this process. Comment below or send us an email if you are more comfortable with that.
You also have one of the fastest and most responsive customer care you will find that will help you in great detail with everything.
Once you have the blog setup, you will want to spend some time going through all the options. One of the first things we you will need to do it get a good ’Wordpress Theme’ for your blog, so you can get it looking just like you want to.
WordPress Themes are small packages of files that you can upload on your WordPress blog by going in to the ‘Themes’ options.
Great , well designed professional ‘themes' are the reason that a WordPress blog can be a full fledged website. Add some great ‘plug-ins’ and you have every functionality that a full blown website can have. We have spoken about plugins next.
By using WordPress Themes, you can make your blog look just the way you want. These themes are pre made and you can change the entire look of your website by changing the theme.
You will already have a lot of themes preinstalled. These are themes that are provided to you free of cost from WordPress. You can start with these.
There are many options within each theme which allow further customisation to colour palettes, position of key elements, different fonts etc. You can make any kind of changes in your WordPress blog by changing the theme options.
However, your customisation options will be very limited if you use the free theme templates that come with the WordPress Blog installation.
But for great looking blogs with great features, you will soon need to start looking at 3rd party WordPress Themes providers.
WordPress Plugins are small programs that you can install on your WordPress blog by going in to the Plugins sections. They add virtually any kind of functionality to the blog. For example, if you want to display your Facebook page stream or a ‘Like’ button on your blog, do a search in the plugins section and install the Facebook plugin.
Similarly, if you want to do search engine optimisation for your blog, download and install a plugin called SEO by Yoast. This plugin with allow you to allow your entire post and tell you what all you need to do to make it more search friendly.
There are plugins for every kind of functionality and customisation you might want on your blog. Think of plugins similar to Apps you download on your smart-phones and devices. Different apps, plugins serve different functions, are easy to install and a great many of them are for free.
The large collection of plugins is one of the major advantages of starting a blog on WordPress.
These are some great plugins we recommend for your blog:
- JetPack by WordPress.com: This plugin ads some very useful functionality to your blog like uptime monitoring, automatic post sharing on social media, sharing buttons, extra blog speed through CDN and much more.
- SEO by Yoast: This plugin will help you understand and implement some great SEO optimisation for your blog giving you better ranking with Search Engines.
- Ad Injection: A truly valuable plugin for inserting ads or images in different places on your blog without having to edit any code. You can also rotate multiple ads.
- PopupAlly: A great pop-up form plugin for your blog that integrates with any email marketing you may be using.
- WordPress Ping Optimizer: Prevents search engines from getting notified too often about your posts and preventing penalties.
- WordPress Database Backup. A plugin to automatically backup your blog on a regular basis so you never loose your hard work.
Logos and Graphics
One of the first elements that you will want designed for your blog is a great looking logo. You can do this yourself in Photoshop or get someone to do it for you on websites like Fiverr.com. You will find an amazing number of people ready to do an amazing amount of work for you for just five dollars.
Mostly all themes allow you to have a text based logo as well. And these actually look pretty great as well. To get going you need to go into your theme options, choose a great font, choose the appropriate font size and write the name of your business. It will appear as a logo in your blog header. This often looks so good and professional that we continue to use just this on a few of our other blogs.
You can follow the same principle and create a text based logo easily on programs like Photoshop and Corel. You will have many more options of fonts, mixing colours and experimenting with effects like shadows, emboss, 3-D etc. Once you are done you can save your work as an image and upload the graphic as a logo in your theme options.
If you intend to put a lot of pictures on your craft blog and I recommend that you do, choose a WordPress theme that showcases photographs. Also get a Flickr account that you can link to your blog. Flickr is very user interactive and allows you to easily create albums that your visitors will love browsing through.
Link to Social Media
Do you have a Facebook page? Or a Pinterest board. Make sure that it is linked to your website. Your website visitors can become your social media fans and followers, where people who follow you on social media and find your website.
Linking a WordPress blog with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and all other social media is very easy. This functionality is easily achieved by downloading the free Facebook plugin or the free JetPack plugin. These plugins also allow people to easily share your posts on social media website of their choice.
If you intend to sell your crafts on your website, there are a few simple ways to implement this. Gone are the days when setting up an e-commerce site was complicated and expensive and required hiring someone with specialised knowledge. There are 2 simple ways you can make your website and blog e-commerce compatible, by using 2 great services. They are completely self serve, allow you to do everything yourself and take the headache out of managing core aspects of an online business.
Use Shopify. : This is wonderful platform that helps you create a wonderful gallery of products with ease and sell with convenience. It is very easy to setup and allows you to do everything yourself. Online payments, shipping rates etc. are all integrated in the system. Many other crucial aspects of an online business are handled for you so that you can concentrate on whats most important, your product!
While this article is not meant to be a complete guide of things you need to do to set up as website, it outlines the important steps you need to follow.
Do Not Start Without Email Signups
We cannot stress the importance of this enough. Do not start a blog or a website without a way to capture leads from your visitors. If you have no way of taking their email, phone number or any other contact information, you are wasting a lot of the traffic on your website.
The commonest and the most effective way of capturing prospective buyers on your website is with an email sign up form. An email sign up form in the industry norm and people who are interested in your business will be happy signing up.
We will talk about email marking in more detail later. But for now, sign up with GetResponse. We use it and in our opinion it is what you should sign up with. You get a free 1 month trial, great templates for creating newsletters and emails and is better priced than many others. Use the above link to get $30 to start your new account with.
This article is also not comprehensive in explaining ‘how’ to implement each of the steps listed above. There you will have to go through a bit of a learning curve for yourself. However, this article does point you in the right direction of where to start.
We hope to cover the topic of how to start a blog in its full scope in a new and dedicated category on this blog. For now, we believe that things like hosting, starting a blog, email signups have become so easy, that if you are ready to spend some time learning, you can implement them on your own.
Take things easy and give yourself a week or two to put everything in place.
You do not have to do it all at once. However, the quicker you get all the essential elements of a website in place, the better your results will be.