Blogging And Email List Building With WordPress
The simplest way to build a blog by far is by using WordPress. This is a ‘CMS’ (Content Management System) and a website builder. It’s completely free and it’s powerful enough that it’s behind most of the biggest sites on the web. In fact, WordPress powers a whopping 25% of all websites and blogs on the net!
Best of all? It couldn’t be easier to use and comes with endless support and expandability.
If you find an app on the web that’s designed to help bloggers to reach bigger audiences or run their site more easily, then you can bet it’s going to be aimed at WordPress users. Using anything else is just making life unnecessarily difficult – so make the wise choice.
Getting Set Up
Before you get set up, you’ll first need your domain name and hosting account. You can get both these things through a hosting provider and what this will mean is that you have an address people can use to find you (your domain name) and a space to store your files online (your hosting). The easiest way to do this is to get both at the same time and this is what most hosting accounts will offer you when you go through the default options.
There are many different hosting companies out there, so you may want to spend some time comparing what you get and how much you pay. One thing you want to look for ideally though is something called ‘CPanel’.
CPanel is a control panel that will come pre-installed on your server space and this will allow you to manage your site a lot more easily. One good example of a hosting account that comes with CPanel is Bluehost (www.bluehost.com)
When choosing your domain name, think very carefully. At this point, you need to select a brand for your website or business if you haven’t already and this is something that’s going to have a huge impact on your future fortunes.
A brand is not only a logo and a company name. More than that, it is a ‘mission statement’ and a set of values that ties all your products together. This is what will make people feel as though they know what to expect when they read one of your posts or buy one of your products and it is what will make your business into a movement that people can get behind, feel part of and feel excited about.
This ties in very closely with your value proposition and your target audience. How can you convey the lifestyle that you’re selling immediately with a single word and a single image?
Spend some time working on this until you get something you’re happy with and also make sure it’s catchy, easily memorable and that it works well as the name of a website.
To install WordPress, all you now have to do is to log in to your CPanel and then look for the ‘one click installs’. Here you’ll see a one click installation option for WordPress and if you click that option, it will walk you through the steps necessary. Hit ‘show advanced options’ though and make sure you take the time to put in a password and username, as well as a name for the blog itself.
After a couple of seconds, your blog will now be installed and if you navigate to your domain, you’ll see it there! It’s a little empty at this point though.
Setting Up – And Basics of Good Design
Now you have a blog, it’s time to start turning it into something people will actually want to look at and that you can be proud of.
Thankfully, WordPress makes all this pretty easy too!
To get started, you need to find the dashboard which is located at: www.example.com/wp-admin. Point your browser there and use the details you entered earlier to log in and start making changes.
In the settings, you can easily change your site name, the title and the ‘blurb’. Along with this though, you’ll also want to come up with a unique layout and color scheme for your site – which is probably going to tie in closely with the colors and the look you selected for your log (if you have gotten to that point yet).
To manage this, you need to head over to ‘Themes’ and from there, you can browse through a wide array of different looks for your website. These will include free themes that you can install straight away as well as paid ones which will generally have a slightly more professional finish. Find something that works with your overall brand but remember that you will be able to customize this further later.
Another thing to make sure is that theme you pick is going to have a ‘responsive design’. Responsive design means that a website changes shape and layout in order to conform to the size of the screen that it’s being viewed on.
Most themes will say if they are responsive (and most should be) and you can test this yourself by opening them in the browser (select ‘Live Preview’) and then changing the size of that window. It should move around to fit to the size dynamically and in that case, you know that it will look great on large monitors and tiny phone screens.
Remember how we learned earlier that over 50% of web traffic came from mobile? That makes it incredibly important that you are catering to that audience.
There are a few more things to look for with your theme too. For starters, you should look for something with a nice large font that’s crisp and easy to read on a high-contrast background. A sans-serif typeface that has a large font size and that’s on a white background is a good starting point.
This way, your site will be a pleasure to read. Your page should also load quickly and you should use large buttons instead of small hyperlinked text for your links – people need to be able to hit these buttons with their large fingers when they’ve just woken up!
Ultimately, when selecting your theme you need to ask yourself: can this complete with the very best content in your niche? Look at your top competitors and ask if your site is better than theirs. If it’s not, then keep looking.
And if you want to find a wider selection of themes, note that you can also look on external sites. A good example is Theme Forest (www.themeforest.com).
Once you have your theme, you can also spend a little time looking through the plugins. These are small ‘apps’ that will run right on your site. They include widgets that appear in the sidebar and they include things that change your dashboard in order to give you more ‘behind the scenes’ options.
As an example, you can install the very basic plugin ‘Round Social Media Buttons’ which will add round buttons to your site for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram etc. They look great and they link people straight to your accounts so they can start following you if they decide they like your content.
How To Build an Email List From Your Blog
Your blog is important because it’s where you will be posting your articles and your posts. This is where you can really get your opinions across and make your point and it’s what will bring people back to your site time and again.
At the same time though, this is also a good place for converting your one- off visitors into long-term fans. One of the best ways to do that is to collect emails, which you may recall as the number one marketing method in terms of ROI.
The aim here is simple: to get people to enjoy your content so much, that they decide they want more of it, that they don’t want to miss future posts and that they want to be included in the VIP stuff that you put out.
So you need to keep delivering consistently high quality blog posts so that people will want to sign up. But you also need to make sure that they have the tools and the options in order to do that…
To get started then, you’re going to need to get yourself an ‘autoresponder’. An autoresponder is a piece of software that will manage your contacts and make it easier for you to send out emails to a large list. Not only does this let you send emails to hundreds or thousands of people at once without needing to use BCC – it also does things like allowing people to unsubscribe and filtering for spam.
You can also use an autoresponder to send automated content from your blog, to monitor how many emails are being opened, to schedule messages and much more.
So you’re going to need one and there are three main choices when it comes to choosing one: Aweber (www.aweber.com), MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com) and GetResponser (www.getresponse.com). There are other options, some of which are cheaper (or even free), but these three major players have the most support from plugins and external features so it’s worth signing up for one of these accounts.
Now you’ll be able to make your ‘opt-in’ form, which is the form your users can use to sign up. Make sure this is placed prominently on your site: add it to the bottom of your blog posts, put it in your sidebar as a widget and even use a plugin like SumoMe in order to have it show up in a pop-over window when people visit your page.
Another trick? Talk about your mailing list regularly in your blog posts and even on your social media. Tell people how you have exciting content on the way ‘if you’re a subscriber’ and tell people why they should bother to sign up. Don’t just leave your opt-in form quietly and expect people to sign up of their own accord – give them reasons to and make sure they can’t miss that form!
Creating an Incentive
One more great strategy is to add an incentive to your mailing list. This can be something like a ‘free report’ and the idea is that your audience will get access to the free content and the free information in exchange for handing over their details and letting you message them further in future. Using an incentive is a great way to convince people to sign up if they were previously on the fence about it and it can help you to make a lot more money.
But at the same time, you also need to make sure people aren’t only signing up for the incentive. Really the ‘best’ incentive is that they want to hear from you more and they’re excited to receive your correspondence. Make your incentive a nice added bonus and not the main attraction – it will result in a more targeted list!
Okay, now you know the exact steps on how to build a blog using WordPress, it’s time to actually start executing that plan. If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up via the comment box below.
It’s open for a reason, you know? 😉
Ari Tumijo is a full-time Brand Consulting Practice Executive as well as Head of its Digital Strategies with Rayan Daniyal Consulting (RDC) brand practice. He possesses 5 years of digital marketing experience and this website is the result of his continuous seeking and sharing of knowledge. With RDC, he is responsible for developing the solutions for clients seeking to improve their digital presence and brand equity in the social media space. In addition to account servicing role, Ari is also involved in business development for Brand Capital, a subsidiary brand of RDC. He has a Diploma in Mechatronics Engineering and spent his early career years in F&B Management and Semi-conductor industry.