How to set up a successful blog.

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Starting a blog is EASY! Promoting and maintaining a blog is a little bit more tricky.

These are the blogging resources I use for my blog. Read my post to learn how to set up a successful blog.

Find out how to set-up your new blog, choose your own custom URL and start making money with ads and affiliate links. Next, learn how to share your beautiful blog posts and images online quickly and effectively. Finally, find out how to maintain your blog and how to make the most of available plugins and tools.

Find the tools you need here to become a more successful blogger.

You will want to bookmark or PIN this post to return to!

Blogging Resources. Setting up your Beautiful Blog. Successful Blogging Tools. Oombawka Design.

Setting Up Your Beautiful Blog

When I began blogging I started where many new bloggers start – on Blogger. The Blogger Platform is very user-friendly and a great place to start if you want to test the waters to find out if blogging is really for you. If you do choose to start on Blogger and later decide that “Yes I do want to be a Professional Blogger!” you will eventually outgrow the Platform. You will want to have more control over your content and your site and you will need to move to a dependable platform like WordPress.

I personally wish I had started on WordPress. When I finally decided to make the move, I had more than 1-year of online content and images that needed to be transferred over. It was a big hassle and it took a lot of time to do properly. It also cost me extra money because I had to hire someone to transfer everything over for me and to add all the redirects for my old links. This did not fix all the images which were already floating around online (like on Pinterest) which were watermarked with my Blogger URL.

Whether you start on Blogger, WordPress, or another Platform I definitely recommend you start with a Custom URL for your business. The URL can be transferred to whichever platform you move to and it will stay the same. This is the way to build a successful and loyal customer base. 

If you are ready to commit to being an online blogger then this is the route I suggest you follow. 

Step 1

Choose your Blog Name and Domain

Choose your blog name and a custom URL. Remember keywords are great for SEO and if you can pop one into your URL it will help people find you online. When I started blogging my url was simply Oombawka Design – which is my business name.  But I wanted people to find me when they were looking for the keyword CROCHET – which is the main topic for my site. So, when I transferred over to WordPress I set up a new custom blog URL which included the keyword Crochet. This helps people find my site and helps them know that Oombawka Design is actually about Crochet.

Once you have decided what you want to call your BLOG and a possible URL you want to use, search online to see if someone else is already using it.  All good? Then proceed to purchasing your custom URL so no one else can use it!

I recommend purchasing your Custom URL through:

HOVER

I used to be with GoDaddy but they charge extra for their WHOIS Privacy. Hover includes WHOIS Privacy on all supported domains and they have extremely competitive pricing (I’m saving a lot of money since I switched!). You can check all their pricing options and sales here >>Hover<<

Step 2

Choose your Hosting

Hosting is available from a number of different companies. I have tried GoDaddy and they fell short of my expectations with both site-downtime and customer service. I switched to RFE Hosting in 2017 and the customer service and tech support I received was outstanding. Recently (2021) RFE was sold to another company and since then I have switched over to Big Scoots for my hosting. Did you notice the switch? No one did! It went through seamlessly and I have been happily enjoying even faster site speed since the switch. Learn more about the affordable hosting you can have with Big Scoots here. The also offer Fully Managed WordPress Hosting packages which is great for anyone that doesn’t want the headaches of trying to make things work on the backend of wordpress.

 

Step 3

Link your Domain and Hosting

To complete this step, you need to wait until your Hosting Company emails you your Domain Name Servers (DNS). This can take up to 48 hours.  If you purchased your Custom URL from Hover, once you have your DNS information you will be able to add it to your Nameservers section on Hover. Both Hover and Big Scoots have great customer service so if you have questions send them a quick email for assistance. You can also check out the HELP section on both sites to learn how to set things up.

Once your Domain and Hosting are linked you will be able to log into your site with the instructions provided to you by your Hosting Company and access your WordPress Blog.

Choosing Your Blog Theme

Genesis

Genesis Framework

Check out what Genesis has to offer. StudioPress has a great article explaining why Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress Site.

Genesis:

  • is SEO and schema.org optimized
  • is built on html5
  • includes unlimited features and updates
  • includes automatic updates
  • is secure
  • offers many custom widgets and layout options

You can get Genesis by itself, with a theme or even as part of a pro-package with multiple themes.

Child-Themes

You can see some of my favorite themes here:

Restored316

Pretty Darn Cute WordPress Themes

Creative Market

Custom WordPress Child Themes

I highly recommend Sara from Moonsteam Design. Sara created my custom Oombawka Design Crochet website and I am VERY happy with it! Find out what else Sara offers and contact her through her site Moonsteam Design.

Blog Logo Templates and Custom Logo Designs

There are a few different ways to go about choosing your Blog Logo and Branding your website.

  • design your own logo on Canva or Adobe Illustrator

Depending on the option you choose, the price will vary. Just remember your logo is super important as it is used to visually identify your site and your online content and images (when you use it as a watermark). Your readers will come to recognize your ‘brand’ and changing it later can sometimes have a negative impact for your blog.

When you are ready to invest in your blog logo design, you may want to contact:

Important Policies You Must Have for Your Blog

When I first started blogging I had no clue that I needed to have specific policies in place for my visitors. You can pay a Lawyer to set up your policies (like I did – ouch!) or you can generate policies using online policy generators. I’ve included 3 options below that are available online for free. It is up to you whether you count on these policies to cover you, or if you choose to have your policies professionally written (as I did) by a real lawyer. I cannot offer and I am not qualified to offer legal advice so please touch base with a Lawyer if you have questions about what policies you need to use and how to set them up properly. 

Disclosure Policy

Disclosure policies are super important and required by law in many Countries. You can use this disclosure policy generator to create your disclosure policy.

Privacy Policy Template

This is an easy-to-use Privacy Policy Template for your blog. Just fill in your blog url where it indicates [insert your url here] and it is ready to be added to your site. Get your Privacy Policy here.

Blog Copyright Policy Generator

You can create a blog copyright policy simply and easily with this free online copyright policy generator.

It is also important to note you cannot simply copy and paste words and photos from the internet into your blog posts. Each item online has copyright attached to it – unless it indicates otherwise and is in the public domain. If you are looking for photos you can use which are in the public domain please see my post:  Where to find Public Domain Images. If you see an image you would like to use on another website, you can alternately email the owner of the site for permission to use the image in a post.

Cookie Policy Plugin

You can review my policies here: My Policies (including How to Manage your Cookies) Please note, I reside in Canada. 

Free Plugins You Want to Add Immediately

JetPack

This was the first plugin I added to my site. You can tweak it and use it for so many features. Some of my favorites include the built in mobile theme, Like Buttons, Related Posts, Spell and Grammar Check and Site Stats. Get your free JetPack Account here. A premium plan is also available and you can add helpful features like automated social media tools and SEO tools.

Akismet – Antispam

Akismet filters spam comments from your posts. This is a must-have plugin. Get your free Akismet plan here.

Wordfence

Wordfence is a great security plugin to keep your site safe. It includes malware scanning, firewalls, the ability to block brute force attacks and 9 other features. Get your free Wordfence account here. The premium version is fantastic too and includes extras like the ability to block by Country, check if your IP is generating SPAM and a real-time thread defense feed. Check out the comparison of all the features here: WordPress Security Plugin Comparison

UpdraftPlus

The UpdraftPlus Plugin offers you total peace of mind and the ability to backup your blog data and images. You can schedule your backups and even use remote storage options, like Dropbox. You need something to backup your site in case the unimaginable happens. I recommend UpdraftPlus. I used the free plan for 2+ years and recently upgraded to the Pro plan and it is fantastic. Get your free UpdraftPlus account here.

 

Writing Your Blog Posts

There are many ways to improve your chances of having your blog posts seen online. SEO is key and the best way to ensure you are set-up to succeed from the very start is to install this free plugin from Yoast.

Yoast SEO

This plugin will walk you through the process of optimizing your blog posts for SEO and for sharing online. Follow the handy step-by-step tutorials and sign-up for their newsletter as it is packed with helpful information you will want to know. Especially since our online world changes so frequently!

Once your blog has become more established and you are ready to invest more money into it to make it even more successful, I definitely recommend the Premium Versions of both of these Yoast Plugins:

Video SEO

Premium Yoast SEO

They are definitely worth every cent!

Link Whisper

SEMrush

If you want even more control over you SEO and SEM I definitely recommend SEMrush. It is a super online platform that offers you suggestions for SEO on your posts and pages, checks the quality of your back links and monitors the overall health of your site. 

SEMrush

Must-Have Social Media Scheduling Tools

In order for your great content to be found online you will need to market and promote it across different social media platforms. Different content niches do better on different social media sites so you will need to figure out which site(s) works best for you. Quality images are key and the size requirements tend to change from year-to-year. These plugins keep on-top of the size changes which makes it super easy for you to rock on social media.

To be successful make sure EVERY post you write INCLUDES have at least 1 quality image.

Tailwind

Is a great way to build your social media presence on Pinterest and Instagram. Tailwind has even developed a fantastic automatic Instagram sharing tool for Business Instagram plans. Pinterest plans on Tailwind have a great feature called Tribes. You can join and work with Tribes of people all interested in the same types of posts. This is great for finding fresh, new content to share with your readers and to PIN to your boards. In turn, other online bloggers can find your posts and share them with their readers. Sign-up to try Tailwind here.

Coschedule

Is my favorite plugin. I have been using Coschedule for almost 5 years now. It allows me to schedule my blog posts to share on social media accounts when I am writing my posts. I can determine the frequency of the shares and to which accounts I want to share. I have also signed up for their premium plan which has a great feature called requeue. Where I can select posts I would like to reshare in the future when there are holes in my sharing calendar. I can set the frequency of the shares (like only 1 time a month) and even date ranges for specific posts – for when I have a seasonal item I’d like to reshare. Sign-up to try Coschedule here.

Online Photo Editing Tools

Quality Images are KEY so take the time to make quality images in the correct dimensions for each social platform you share your content on. Sizes tend to change on these platforms from time-to-time too. If you are using a plugin like Social Warfare it will include the sizes right in your post so you know what dimensions you need for social sharing. You can also use a tool like PicMonkey which has specific social media sizes listed in it’s crop drop-down list and collage menu. Canva has amazing templates set up by social media platform and is a great place to start to build your brand images and templates. Visme has fantastic templates for infographics, presentations, charts, reports and even social graphics.

Adobe

PicMonkey

Canva

Visme

Advertising

When I began blogging I never even considered monetizing my site. I applied for advertising after I’d been blogging for 7 months. There are different requirements for each advertising plan. Some require a certain amount of traffic and some require a certain amount of content. If you blog every day and have relevant and helpful content on your site then you will likely be approved much sooner than if you only write 1 post every month. You need to plan ahead if you are thinking about adding advertising to your site. It may take you a few tries to get approved.

Once you are approved, try to balance your ads out on your pages and posts. Too many ads can discourage some readers from visiting. If you notice your traffic starting to plummet you may want to change your placement or number of ads. You also need brush up on your Disclosure Policies and what the FTC requires you to include on your site for different types of posts.

To make your site Google Friendly, please review this article: Steps to a Google Friendly Site

Adsense 

Google Adsense is the most recognized way to monetize your site. They have great articles and tutorials for how to get your site ready for Ads and how to plan and choose where to put the ads on your site. Learn more about Adsense and sign-up for Adsense here.

Media.net

Media.net is also a great way to monetize your site. Yahoo! and Bing Network. Learn more about media.net.  Sign up here for media.net.

AdMob

If you have a mobile app, then this is the advertising solution you are looking for. Learn more about AdMob here.

Ad Management Companies

Once you are established and you are maintaining a certain level of daily traffic to your site you may want to consider working with an Ad Management Company. I currently work with AdThrive and I recommend them 100%.

AdThrive

Find out if your site qualifies for AdThrive.

Ezoic

While I’ve never used their services before, I have also heard a lot of good things about Ezoic. Find out more about Ezoic here.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can be a great source of additional income for you. There are a number of Affiliate Networks available online. My favorite to work with is Shareasale.

Shareasale

Some of the brands I work with through Shareasale include Annie’s Craft Store, Craftsy and Lion Brand Yarns.

Rakuten

Some of the brands I work with through Rakuten include Interweave and Wool and the Gang.

AWin

Some of the brands I work with through AWin include Deramores, Minerva Crafts and Etsy.

CJ Affiliate

Some of the brand I work with through CJ Affiliate include Red Heart Yarns and Michaels.

Amazon

Amazon has a great affiliate program. You can buy almost anything through amazon so it works for many types of blogs.

Other Plugins I Love

NoFollow

No follow all your out going links easily. You can also easily add sites to exclude from the no follow rule.

Cloudflare

Speed up your site speed easily by adding Cloudflare.

 

Great Articles and Other Blogging Resources You Will Find Helpful

Taylor Bradford’s #bloggingedumacation series:

  1. Why You Should Hire a Blogging Coach
  2.  Running a Blogging Business
  3.  Before You Hit Publish Checklist
  4.  How to Improve Your SEO
  5.  Product Reviewed? Now What?
  6.  Common HTML Used in Blogging
  7.  All About Media Kits
  8.  Who are YOU as a Blogger?

How to Run A Blogging Giveaway Part 1

How to Run A Blogging Giveaway Part 2

FTC Disclosures

Building A Blog Community

How to Back Up and Restore WordPress

I hope you find these resources helpful! I plan on adding to the post over time and based on my own experiences.  If there is some other area about blogging, SEO or social media management you would like me to write a post about please leave me a comment on the post.

Blogging Resources. Setting up your Beautiful Blog. Successful Blogging Tools. FB oombawkadesign

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5 Comments

  1. Hi Donna, Getting people to your site is not a simple task. It is important to follow Google’s best practices, to implement proper SEO for your posts and images, to add ALT tags to your images so when people see one of your images online they can find their way back to you, to include great images in your posts so they can be shared on social media (the right dimensions and good quality) and to have your site accessible to many readers. With the changes this past 2 years for https many browsers will warn visitors that sites are not safe to visit and this warning can deter people from staying there once they arrive at your link.

    You may also want to try to find places where you can share links to your content – like All Free Crochet – they take submissions of content links and images and then share those with their readers too. Ravelry is a good platform to use as well – and there are other crochet sites that can be worked with online – you can apply to work with different yarn companies for shared exposure – Link Parties are also a good way to start building relationships with crocheters and other crafters –

    It is a lot of hard work and anyone who tells you any differently is either extremely lucky – or has had some help from someone behind the scenes to make things happen at a faster pace.

    If your goal is to make it a full-time job – or to replace income – you would be best to start your own blog with your own url – then apply for ads through Adsense or other agencies to get started. There are also great affiliate networks out there that you can apply to work with – which in turn will allow you to (with proper disclosures on your posts and links) earn small amounts of income from sharing their sales, products and promos with your readers.

    I hope this helps a bit,
    Rhondda

  2. Love your blog! I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now, though I did not post regularly last year. Just recently retired and am now committed to posting weekly. Do you have any advice on how to drive more traffic to my blog? I have some great crochet patterns and crafting advice there.
    Thanks for your advice!

  3. I would like to see more on this…Stress-Free Seamless Crochet

  4. Hi Cheryl, Thank you 🙂 I’ve made a note of the title for when I pick my next books! Have a lovely week, Rhondda

  5. I hope this is the correct place to leave a blog post, I’m never sure. I would like to see a review of the Rugs for Kids Book, I’m interested in crocheting 2 for my little nieces. Thank you!