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How to Start a Blog or Website: 3 Ways to Build Your Online Presence

Setting up a blog or website for personal or business use is not as difficult as you might think it is. Basic knowledge of HTML is an asset, but no programming experience is required. In 2012, when I was in New Zealand, I worked at a digital marketing agency and learned about GoDaddy, MailChimp, and WordPress.

Preparation

Before starting your own blog or website, prepare yourself by download The One-Page Blog Planning Sheet.

1. Starting a blog or static website

If you want to start a blog or static website I recommend using WordPress or Squarespace. Both offer great themes and an intuitive content management system (CMS), which is the front-end user interface that allows users, even with limited expertise, to add, modify, and remove content from a website without the intervention of an administrator. Using a CMS is as easy as using Facebook. My personal website and the static website of Awaken&More are both run on WordPress.

On WordPress you first select which kind of website you need, then you proceed to find your domain name, which should be equal or similar to your brand name. You either choose a free plan with a .wordpress.com ending or purchase a customized domain name with a .com ending. You can also use a domain name you already own. When I signed up, it was possible to purchase a customised domain name, while being on a free plan. I had to pay only 18 Euros per year. However, this is no longer possible. The cheapest plan is called Personal and costs 4 Euros per month. It currently includes a domain registration and privacy protection. Each plan includes a selection of 121 free themes. Whether you select the free plan or a paid one, the next step is to learn how to use WordPress.

A more advanced solution is to purchase a web hosting plan from GoDaddy (or HostGator), which includes a free domain name, and then use the 1-click install to upload and self-host your WordPress theme. You can read about the difference between the fully-hosted WordPress.com, and the self-hosted version, whose software is available for free at WordPress.org here. If you select the self-hosted version and use GoDaddy as your web hosting platform, make sure to search for GoDaddy coupons. They can be found online throughout the internet and you could end up paying as little as 1 Euro per month. However, subsequent years are often more expensive.

My personal blog uses the free Rebalance theme by Automattic and the hosting is managed by WordPress.com. The advanced solution requires more work. First, select a free theme on WordPress.com, then scroll down on the theme description page, and finally download the theme for free. Alternatively you could select a paid theme on ThemeForest, which is a website that offers much more theme choice.

Once you found your theme, you need to convert the downloaded folder into a .zip file and follow the steps provided by GoDaddy. Afterwards you can log into your WordPress theme and follow the instruction on how to install the theme through the .zip file. Then you can proceed to the WordPress tutorial as the CMS is the same as the one from WordPress.com. The only difference is that you host your theme on an different web hosting platform than on the one managed by WordPress.com.

Once you run the WordPress theme, you can start adding plugins, which can be downloaded from WordPress.org or other sites such as CodeCanyon. When you downloaded a plugin, simply go to the WordPress sidebar Plugins, click on Add New, and then press Upload Plugin and upload the plugin .zip file. Read this article on GoDaddy to find out more about the powerful functionality that you can add to WordPress via plugins.

It is very convenient to create an email address that uses the domain name address, such as info@claudiomarseglia.com. WordPress explains how to set up email forwarding. Once the WordPress email forwarding setting is installed, you have to change some settings in your mail program. Apple Mail users have to go to the Accounts settings, select the current email account, go to the email address, set a comma after the first address, and then simply type the new email address you created. If you want to create more than five email addresses, then you need to follow this instruction and open an account with Zoho. This worked well for Awaken&More as Zoho comes with a free plan that includes up to 50 free accounts.

Once you set up your blog or static website, you can start creating content and publishing it through your selected CMS.

2. Starting an online shop

If you want to start a blog or website including an online store, then I recommend Shopify. Visit their site, add your account information, and proceed to set up the online store through their intuitive design and detailed instructions. Some WordPress themes also offers store options, however, it can become complicated for first-time users to set up stores that are secure and ensure legal compliance. Shopify offers everything you need, together with great-looking modern designed themes.

3. Hiring a programmer

Sometimes a theme, even if it is customisable, does not reflect your idea. If you have a clear vision, then you might need a programmer who can understand your needs and knowns how to design and programme a website that reflects your vision. Due to the simplicity of WordPress, I recommend asking your programmer to programme as a WordPress website. Furthermore, as more and more people use mobile devices, ask your programer to use a responsive design that can adapt to different screen sizes. If you want a very specific website, hiring a programmer is the way to go. However, do not go directly to your local web agency. Most web agencies outsource their programming work to freelancers and act as mere middlemen. Cut out the middleman and hire a programmer directly on Freelancer or Upwork. It is not difficult when you know what you want, understand the rating and review system, have a clear process, and possess solid English communication skills.

I hope you enjoyed this overview.

Copyright © 2020 Claudio Marseglia. All rights reserved.

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