You’re ready to remove the training wheels and finally go out on your own. This is where WordPress.org comes in.
WordPress.org is the free WordPress content management system. You don’t pay anything for it and you access and change the source code however you like. In this section, I’ll cover it in two ways; for people who are starting on WordPress.org a fresh and for people who are moving from WordPress.com.
If you’ve not yet read the previous piece, you can find it here.
You can skip to a specific point:
- Getting traffic
- Monetizing your site
- Moving or setting up WordPress.org
- Setting up
- Customizing your site
- Creating content
- Keeping up with analytics
- Monetize your site 2
- Know your limits
4. Moving or Setting up WordPress.org
This is where you’re now really on the way to creating a successful blog. You’ll have so much more freedom and earning power to do so.
Although I’ve never personally moved from WordPress.com, it’s relatively similar and straight forward.
In order to move to WordPress.org, you need to:
Get a Hosting Provider and a Domain name
Whether you’re moving or starting off with WordPress.org, you need to get a hosting provider if you have a domain name, just get the hosting. The beauty of WordPress is that it’s so widespread that hosting providers have dedicated services just to cater for WordPress and WordPress related queries. Personally, I use Namecheap. As the name suggests, they’re domains and hosting is pretty affordable. You can get a domain name from as low as a hundred shillings for the first year and hosting for five hundred shillings per month. I’ve contemplated moving this site to a local hosting service such as Kenya Web Experts, Hostnali, Webhost Kenya and so many more, including Safaricom, but the thought of having my website offline for hours has made me avoid it. I’ll host all my future websites locally, I promise.
Domain names are relatively cheap when you first buy them so that shouldn’t be a problem.
Once you have your host and domain name, for those who were on WordPress.com, you’ll have to speak to your hosting provider and ask them on the steps you need to take to migrate your site to their service and they will assist you. As I said, I’ve never done that process, but I expect you’ll be assisted from start to finish.
For those just starting, you’ll have to download and configure WordPress yourself. There should be a simple app installer in the interface that you’re provided with by your host.
5. Setting Up
After WordPress is installed, you’ll need to set up an appropriate theme depending on your subject matter. For starters, there’s no need to go with a premium theme, you can get a nice free theme that suits your purpose to start with like these.
First thing you need to do after installing WordPress is to configure Google Analytics. I made the mistake of not having my analytics set up from the word go.
The way WordPress works is that you can use plugins to set up various things or you can write the code yourself. I’m suspecting you’re not interested in writing code. You can use a simple plugin called Google Sitekit, which is a one-stop-shop to enable you to connect your site to Google. You’ll also need to go to Google Analytics to finish setting up analytics. With the Sitekit plugin, it’s really straight forward, you can check out some tutorials on the intricacies of connecting it to your site.
After that, you’ll need to install some essential plugins. These are among the WordPress must-have plugins:
If you were on WordPress.org then you’re definitely going to want this little bad boy. This plugin brings some of the important functionality from WordPress.com over to WordPress.org. So if you still want to continue with WordAds, you’re definitely going to want this. Other than that, it will give you some security features, backup functionality, site optimization and some basic Search Engine Optimization, which we’ll talk about later.
It has a free version and a paid version.
- Insert Headers and Footers
I can’t begin to express how important this tool is. It’s really simple but very important. On this journey of building a successful blog, you’ll find that sometimes you need to add some lines of code to the header or body of your site. It gets really finicky when you try to edit the theme’s code directly. That coupled with the fact that you might have to create a child theme so that when your theme updates, your code remains intact, otherwise it would be flushed away.
With this plugin, you just copy whatever code you need to copy and paste it into the text box and voila, just like that. No messing around with your theme. You’re going to want this.
- Yoast SEO
This one basically just helps your site rank better on Google. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, in case you’re wondering. This basically means that you’re making the site easier for search engines to find. It will help a lot when you’re writing articles as it will show you a couple of important things to remember to include such as internal links, SEO titles, readability of your piece and so on.
There’s also a free and a paid version. For starters, the free version works just fine and will get you by for a few months before you need to upgrade.
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. This plugin will generate versions of the pages on your site that can load faster on mobile phones. Google likes pages that load faster, so if you have AMP enabled, your site is going to rank better in Google’s search results.
FYI, it’s free.
This is a security plugin. It limits the number of times a user can enter the wrong password. If someone enters the wrong password a certain number of times, it denies that IP address more opportunities to continue trying password combinations. This is especially useful when you’re trying to defend against brute force attacks that try out every possible combination to break into your site.
I’m sure there are more plugins that you might need but these are good enough to get you started.
6. Customizing Your Site
This is relatively straight forward. WordPress comes with a visual editor that allows you to make changes to your site and see them live. You’ll need to work on your theme and set it up the way you like best. There are very many possibilities when it comes to customizing your site that I don’t think we could cover in this post.
After this, you’ll probably need to work on getting traffic on your site, whether you moved from WordPress.com or are just starting out on WordPress.org. This is because sometimes it takes a while before Google indexes your site’s new location or something like that, so you need to give it some momentum as you wait for those organic views to start coming through.
7. Creating Content
Now, by this point, I’m sure you already know how to create content, but you need to know how to create content that sells because, at the end of the day, you’re selling something and you want it to really sell if it’s going to be a successful blog.
You want to come up with a consistent publishing schedule and stick to it. Make sure you’re writing high-quality articles, articles that average five hundred words plus, those are the ones that will get you higher up in search engine rankings.
Always make sure to link back to other posts on your site and create a beautiful internal link structure that will keep readers engaged and on the site for longer. Remember, the longer you have visitors on the site, the more time you have to sell to them.
You want to pick a specific niche and maximise on the amount of information you can put out on that niche. This will make your site the go-to place whenever people are searching for things online. Whatever you do, you do not want to be a generalist, not at the beginnings at least. It’s very difficult to make it this way.
A good posting schedule can be about once or twice a week.
8. Keeping up With Analytics
Remember those analytics we installed earlier, they’ll come in handy right about now. After you’ve had a couple of posts on your site, you want to check your readers’ behaviour and understand what they like to read and when they read it.
One metric that always ticks me off is the bounce rate. This basically means the percentage of people who navigate away from your site after viewing just one page. For different niches, the bounce rate differs, but I like to keep mine below 20%. Considering that this website generally has articles that average 300 – 400 words, that means the guests checked out a couple of articles before clicking away from my site.
Different niches need to be monitored differently. Perhaps another niche might need you to monitor the pageviews or unique visitors, it all depends on what you want to achieve. Always make sure you’re looking at these to know what your audience likes.
9. Monetizing Your Site 2
You’ve built a credible website and now you’re getting decent traffic. It’s about time to start monetizing your website and make it the successful blog you want it to be.
Now, there are different methods you can use to monetize your site, it all depends on what you’re doing. You can monetize your site by
- Selling affiliate products.
- Selling your own products.
- Writing sponsored posts.
- Joining an ad network.
- Selling ad space on your site.
- Accepting donations.
- Charging subscription fees for access to premium content.
I’m not sure if this is all of it, but these are pretty much the most common methods. I could go on and on about each one of these but the post would be too long, just do a little digging on your own and you’ll find all the info you need.
10. Know Your Limits
This is especially true when it comes to advertisements. Have you ever clicked on a site and were ambushed by 4 banners on all sides of the screen, a pop-up and a pop-under? Don’t be that side.
Know how many advertisements are enough, know how many posts are enough for a set period, know how long you have to put out quality content, know the limits of what you write about, basically just know your stuff. If you start getting out of hand, you’ll lose traffic and that’s not good.
There are very many advanced options you can get into to speed up, optimize and improve your site such; as linking it with a content delivery network to speed up load times, verifying it with search engines, sending out newsletters and so many more. I believe the more you travel this journey, the more you’ll learn what you need.
Granted, this is not a guarantee for a successful blog, but it certainly is the path many have taken to get there. If you follow these tips, you’re very likely to come up with a successful blog. The most important thing, however, is to keep on keeping on. Blogging is about consistency!