Happy Wednesday, friends! (Or as I like to call it, “Mike-mike-mike-mike-mike” Day. The camel thought it was funny.)
A couple of weeks ago on the blog, you learned that I LOOOOOVE blogging.
More than one girl probably should. The point is, however, that this little passion of mine isn’t so little anymore, and I’m sharing everything I’ve learned in a multi-part series on the blog to help YOU start and grow your own side hustle blog! Because hey, it’s an amazing outlet that you can be as much or as little as you want, and the best part? This little piece of online real estate is all yours.
Last time we covered why you should consider blogging and what you need to be thinking about to get started, including a name, topic, budget and desired platform. The platforms we discussed, Blogger, WordPress.com and WordPress.org, vary in budget and limitations; however, because my experience is primarily with WordPress.org and because it tends to be the most confusing of the three to set up, I’m going to proceed under the assumption that we’re tackling a brand new WordPress.org site.
(Don’t recall the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? Check out my previous post and skim to the bottom under “Platform” for a refresher.)
When you start with WordPress.org, you’ll need to get a web host, domain name and (ta da!) WordPress.
Those first two do cost a little money, but not much. And many web hosts have a convenient WordPress install option that takes the technical side out of it and gets things all set up for you in five minutes or less. Again, refer to my previous post for recommendations on hosting and domain name websites.
Need further help getting WordPress installed? I highly recommend checking out tutorials like this one that will walk you through it step by step. Or, just contact me by posting your question below or using my contact page, and I’ll help you out with getting all set up! We’ll have you logging into your brand new site in no time.
Once you do have WordPress set up, you can log in for the very first time to your WordPress Dashboard.
Your login url will be something like “www.yourdomainnamehere.com/wp-login.php”. I recommend bookmarking this page for easy access, as you’ll be visiting a lot while maintaining your blog!
Once logged in, you should see a setup similar to this:
This is a great time to spend a few minutes taking a look around and familiarizing yourself with the tabs and functionality.
A few key things to know from the Dashboard screen:
- Dashboard: A quick overview of blog posts, comments, news and activity. This can be customized to feature different information, and you can install plugins for this, as well. (More on plugins later.)
- Posts: Where you go to write a new blog post, or check out the ones you’ve already written! All of your posts, past and present, are stored here.
- Media: This is your library of images, PDFs, audio clips, video clips, etc. All media is collected in the library, and can be accessed from anywhere else on the site.
- Pages: Different from Posts, your Pages are your separate pages on the website; you may just have one page, your blog feed, and that’s perfectly fine! But if you choose to have an About page, a Contact page, etc, this is where you set up and design those.
- Comments: Anytime you get a comment on your blog, you’ll get a red notification circle next to the word “Comments.” You can also choose to be notified by email so you never miss a visitor.
- Appearance: This is where you access your current installed themes and where you find and install new themes. The next post in this series will tell you everything you need to know about choosing and installing the perfect theme for your blog.
- Plugins: The Plugins directory is like a toy store of gadgets and features you can install and use on your website. They can enable your website to do everything from set up a cool floating social media share bar and adding a pretty email newsletter signup form to checking for spam and creating an ad system for your blog. Again, I’ll be sharing my list of plugins I love in an upcoming post!
- Users, Tools and Settings: These tabs include basic functionality for setting things like your desired home page, who has access to your site and at what level, and setting up the site title and tagline. You can explore these and make adjustments for your site as necessary.
By clicking the button at the top left of the screen with the house icon and your name, you can view your site live at any time.
Since your site is up and live, you may not want to reveal all the goods just yet!
And you totally don’t have to. If you want to keep your site hidden for now or tease at something good to come, you can easily install and customize a Coming Soon page for your blog. This is a free and quick way to continue building your site on the back end while your visitors only see a pretty page telling them the site is coming soon!
To do so, you’ll have to first track down a Coming Soon template that you like. This could come in the form of a theme or a plugin. You can easily go to Plugins > Add New, and search “coming soon” to pull up a list of Coming Soon plugins to choose from. You can quickly see each plugin’s rating and times downloaded for a reference, or click “More Details” to read about the plugin, who made it, reviews, etc.
Note: I highly recommend downloading plugins with ratings of 4 or higher. Those with anything less sometimes tend to either not work properly or cause issues on your site that could do more harm than good.
If you’d rather use a Coming Soon theme, you can search on Google for “free coming soon wordpress theme” or go to a site like Themeforest and search “coming soon.” Themeforest is mostly paid themes, so if you’re looking for a good free option, a site like this will have a pretty decent list of coming soon options.
Once you’ve chosen your Coming Soon plugin or theme, you’ll just need to activate and customize it.
If you chose a plugin, you’ll have to go to Plugins > Installed Plugins and activate the coming soon plugin you just installed. (You also get the option to do this immediately after installing, and that works the same way.) Once installed, you’ll likely be able to customize it by accessing it in your side menu panel; sometimes, it gets moved under a top-level menu tab, such as Settings or Appearance. Click the tab to access the plugin, and follow instructions on-screen for making any necessary customizations.
If you chose a theme, you’ll have to download the theme to your computer (even just to your desktop is fine), and then navigate to Appearance > Themes, and click Add New. Click Upload Theme, then Choose File. You’ll want to make sure the plugin is in a zipped file; navigate to the file on your computer to upload. WordPress will tell you whether or not you successfully uploaded your theme, and again, you will find your theme available to access and customize in the side menu panel of your screen.
Note: When you are logged into WordPress and click to view your site, you may NOT see your Coming Soon page; this is perfectly ok. Many plugins and themes operate so that only those who are not logged into your site see the Coming Soon page.
Once you have your Coming Soon page set up, you are ready to move on with customizing your WordPress site to your heart’s content! Next week, I’ll be sharing how and where to find the perfect theme for your blog, and how to get it installed, as well as essential plugins and favorites that I recommend. It will be jamPACKED with more great info, so keep checking back here to learn what to do next!