Blogging 101: how to set up a blog quickly

Setting up a blog or website can be overwhelming.  Here is a quick breakdown with recommendations of resources, products, and services to help you figure out how to set up your blog (and/or ecommerce website) the best way possible!

Set Up Hosting

The first step is to set up an area to host your website. This will be where your website (or blog) will be hosted (parked or sitting).   It is important to find a reliable host to ensure that your website is accessible to your clients.

Choose a Domain Name

A domain name is the address of the website or blog.  This is where you can choose the fun www .______.com name! (Or .org, .net, or any other variety out there!) The key is to look for something easy to remember but reflects your brand and business.   Domain names can range from a couple dollars and into the thousands depending on popularity and demand.

Tip: Most hosting sites provide domain name purchasing services.  Keep in mind that you don’t want to have too many long letters or similar to another website.

Consider making an investment in alternative domain names that differ from your business name as well.  Such as our sister’s site is TheLawTog, however, as a vendor of photography contracts the domain www.digitalphotographycontracts.com is also used and pointed to www.TheLawTog.com. So when the alternative name is typed in it will still load TheLawTog to potential visitors.

Build your Website

This one should be pretty self explanatory in what you are to do. Build it!  The website acts as your virtual storefront and should be treated just as important (if not more) than an actual storefront.

Determining the type of website or blog platform can be overwhelming as there are many different options out there.  One of the most popular blog platforms, albeit with a learning curve, is WordPress.  The use of plugins, themes, and widgets allow for a completely customized view with limited or no coding knowledge needed to set up your blog to your preference.

Tip: I strongly suggest finding a theme to place onto WordPress.  This will come with a preloaded skin on the site that you have chosen, and often these sites provide tutorials for finding your way around to easily customize.

Recommended:     ThemeForest Themes (aff link)

Build Your Blog

The website is your hello or storefront; your blog is the handshake or hug that you will give to your clients. This is actually where the majority of your potential clients should land if you are using a blog as an efficient marketing tool for your past and current clients to talk about you.

Recommended:  ThemeForest Themes (aff link)

Note: If you want to work with a theme for a WordPress platform, you will need to acquire a WordPress.ORG (NOT .COM) and the theme will load onto the WordPress platform.  It’s like WordPress is the cake, and the theme is the icing and decorations!

Once the blog is set up, don’t just let it sit there! Institute blogging into your normal client workflow by efficiently blogging on a routine schedule with fresh and engaging content.

Recommended: BlogStomp  (aff link) for quick resizing of photos

Make It Work For You (SEO)

What is the point in having this all online if no one is finding it, and if no one can easily navigate it to find what they need to book you?

One of the most important aspects of web traffic is SEO or Search Engine Optimization.  In layman’s terms, this is how your website catches the eye of the search engines and delivers it to the searcher.  It’s no fun blogging and blogging and blogging, only to get no traffic! Here are some tips to increasing your search engine optimization and your web presence which will result in PRESENTS!

*Tips to optimizing your time online:

Name your site appropriately – You’re probably thinking DUH! But seriously – put yourself in the shoes of a potential client. What would you search to find a certain type of photographer in your area? Try to incorporate this into your site title!

Site description – Same as site title! Write a real description to grab the attention of your audience, but also make sure to include the key words needed. If your key words now aren’t working, try googling your area and find how your competitors pop up!

Update frequently – People want fresh content. Web searches want fresh content.  Make sure you’re updating frequently. Set a goal and blog.

Have relevant content – No sense in blogging if the content isn’t relevant! Find an area that you are knowledgeable in and that you think your readership will like to read!

Categorize your blog posts – Be consistent in categorizing of your blog posts. Make sure these categories are relevant!

Keywords– We discussed this above, but beware on writing TOO many keywords! Search engines are coded to label these sites as spam, thus, making your labors a waste!

Pair Flash Sites with Words– Without getting into technical computer mumbo jumbo, flash sites look pretty but don’t drive SEO. Make sure to include a description or descriptive text title on your flash splash page.  Without it, the computer spiders that are searching wash right over you! Tip: Many mobile devices cannot properly operate flash, look at having a site that is not flash based.

Image Descriptions– As photographers, we probably get into a groove of labeling our pictures by our client name and date of session. Potential clients have no clue about this! Rename your images before you upload them. (i.e.  Top_Halloween_Recipes_For_Kids.jpg)  See: How to Prep Images for Blog

Now what? I’ve done all the above!

TRACK your audience – Use an analytics tool such as Google Analytics. It is amazing how much traffic you may actually be getting but never comment!

Link on social media – What good is having relevant and fresh content if you’re not going to get the word out. Help out the search engines and post on your social media accounts!

Give it time! – It doesn’t happen overnight. Seriously!  It’s like rolling a snowball–it takes some time to get going, but once it’s big, people will notice!

Get a newsletter list going! – If you are letting people come onto your site with no alternative to get your information except to contact you, then you are missing out! Capture these bypassers with a newsletter list that entices them for future information blasts!

Tip: Don’t spam or over email them! They will unsubscribe or delete emails!

Recommended:  Mailchimp  and Madmimi both offer free newsletter services with subscription forms up to a certain number of subscribers!

Analogy Recap

If you’re still confused, here’s a little recap with (hopefully) some better ways to understand how this all works.

  • Domain Name:  Address of your home
  • Hosting: Neighborhood where your home (website or blog) will be built
  • WordPress (or like website platform):  Foundation of your home (upon which your home  will be built)
  • Theme or Skin: Exterior set up (what client sees) such as your shutters, paint, etc. with interior controls
Blogging 101: how to set up a blog quickly

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