One year ago I did not know the next thing about blogging or how to make money with a blog. Like everybody reading this article, I surfed the net and used email, but I literally knew nothing about the online world of blogging and affiliate marketing. Over the past year that has all changed. As a part-time blogger, I've started to make thousands of dollars a month online.
Like you, my time is limited. I have a wife, two teenagers, and a full-time job. So I have very little time each day to devote to blogging. But it can be done. And the first step in the process is learning how to pick a domain name, sign up for web hosting, and set up your blog. All of this can be done in under 20 minutes once you get the hang of it. In this article I'll walk you through the basics of how to set up a site. If this is new to you, trust me, it's much easier than it may seem. So let's get started.
Picking a domain name
The name of your site is one of the most important decisions you'll make when setting up a blog or website. And generally, you want to consider two important factors. The first factor is branding. You want the name to be memorable. If you are promoting an off line business, for example, a domain name that matches the name of your company is obviously critical. But even if your business is entirely online, a memorable domain name can help you build reader loyalty and trust. This is the approach I took with my site, The Dough Roller. Exactly how well I accomplished that goal I'll leave to you, but the people I talk to say its catchy and memorable. That's the goal if your focus is branding.
The second factor to consider are keywords. Keywords are the word phrases we all type into Google, Yahoo! or other search engines to find information on the Internet. When selecting a domain name, consider what keywords are relevant to your site and include theme in the domain name. There are at least two separate SEO benefits for having a keyword rich domain name.
First, the URL of a page is one factor Google's search engine algorithm considers when ranking pages. If your site is about mortgage loans, having those keywords in your domain name will help your site rank well for those and related keywords. Second, you will find that most sites that link to your homepage will use your site's name as the anchor text of the link. Having links to your site that use keyword rich anchor text can mean a huge boost in the search engine rankings for your site.
Having selected your domain name, you now need to get your new site hosted. There are many, many web hosting services available. And if you ask two bloggers which one is the best, you are likely to get at least three different answers. No matter what web hosting service you consider, there will be those who absolutely hate the web host, and those that love it. I've used three different web hosting services over the past year, and for me, Bluehost is hands down the best.
The reason I like Bluehost is because I can get technical support on the phone usually in under 60 seconds. Is Bluehost ever down? Of course it is. But so far it has been very reliable for me. Regardless of which web hosting service you choose, getting your new domain hosted is the second step. Most services can easily walk you through the process, and you can always phone technical support. I've put a separate article together that visually walks through setting up hosting and installing WordPress with Bluehost.
Setting Up WordPress
I use WordPress for all of my sites for several reasons. First, it's free. Second, it is widely used and many developers have made free themes and plugins to use with WordPress. Three, search engines, particularly Google, seem to rank WordPress blogs well in the search enging rankings. And fourth, it's easy to use.
With Bluehost and most web hosting services, you can install WordPress with just a couple of clicks. Once installed, there are some critical WordPress plugins that need to be installed. The first plugin is called Google XML Sitemaps. Sitemaps tell search engines like Google and Yahoo! what pages are available on your site for crawling. They give search engines a road map to your most important content. With the Google XML Sitemap plugin, generating a XML-compliant sitemap is a snap.
The second critical plugin is called HeadSpace2. The functionality of HeadSpace2 could fill 10 articles. For example, you can set a single page or post to use a WordPress theme other than the one you've selected for your site. You can set global meta keywords that get inserted into all of your site's pages. You can insert your Google Analytics (more on this next week) id into HeadSpace2 to track your site's traffic. I highly recommend this plugin if you have the time to understand how to use it. If you do, you should read the HeadSpace2 plugin page.
Related Posts is the third plugin, which automatically inserts related posts at the end of each post. This gives your readers some additional articles related to the topic if they want to keep reading. But the plugin also has a big SEO benefit. Internal links, that is links from one part of your site to another, are absolutely critical for SEO purposes. I'll even go so far as to say that they are more important than back links. And the related posts plugin ads relevant internal links to all of your posts.
And that's it. As I said at the start, you can get to a point where you can have a new site up and running in under twenty minutes. I've written a more detailed tutorial on how to start a money making blog using WordPress that you can check out if you want a more detailed set of instructions. The tutorial covers other steps such as picking and installing an optimized WordPress theme and configuring WordPress.