How I Set Up My Blog – 12 Easy Steps for the Technologically Challenged

Blogs for Christian Bands
Cats know all about setting up a Blog

Many bands are now using a blog type website because it is super easy to set up and post your latest updates. Christian bands must have a website. But, if you do not have above average computer skills, they can be a real challenge to set up. It gets expensive if you have to pay a web designer to do it for you. But by using a blog style website bands can keep fans informed about all the latest news and concerts with a few minutes work.

These are my personal notes about the steps I went through to set up my blog. I have received so many compliments and questions about the website that I decided to make my complete notes available to you. I am not a tech. guru – far from it. I struggled with the idea of even trying to create a site myself. But I felt the information I am putting out is so valuable that I could not wait until I could afford to pay someone else to do it for me. So, I decided to embark on the journey of creating my own blog style website as easily and inexpensively as possible while still looking attractive. I kept notes with the intention of not having to do all the research again or remember all the steps in case I accidentally deleted my entire website or ever wanted to do this again (which I definitely will). You are now the beneficiary of these notes. I hope it helps you to see that if I can do this – you can too!

Step One – Choose a Name

● Google ranks sites higher that have their keywords as part of their URL. So, choose a name that is made up of the most likely words people will search to find sites like the one you want to set up. This one step of choosing the best web site name will bring more people to your site than almost anything else. So, take your time and come up with a great name! My keywords are Christian, Band, Resources, Music, Management, and Help

● Keep the name simple, as short as possible and an obvious choice for your company. Remember that your website name does not have to be your company name. For example: my company name is UnLeashed Arts, but this website is only one aspect of what the company does, so it gets a completely different name. Some companies need to use their name, but shorten it for the website URL.

● .com is the best. If .com is not available for your chosen name you have to choose to add a modifier (add extra letters or another word) or use .net or .org. You may have to start over and choose a different name if none of these work for you. My site name is ChristianBandHelp.com.

Step Two – Choose a Web Host

● There are free hosting services available, such as WordPress.com. Here are some disadvantages to using them:

     ▪ your URL will be longer (to include the name of the web host)

     ▪ site will rank lower in Google because of the URL

     ▪ plug ins are limited

     ▪ you are not allowed to advertise

● The amount of recommendations available on which wed host to use is amazing – everyone has an opinion of the pros and cons of each host.

● I tried Bluehost because people I trusted agreed that it is the easiest for people like me, who don’t know a lot about computers and web site building. I still use Bluehost because I agree with the recommendations I received – they have been easy to use with great customer service; even though the customer service I needed was due to my lack of knowledge of computers and web sites.

● Use this link to go to Bluehost. CLICK HERE TO SIGNUP FOR BLUEHOST.COM

Note that I do receive a commission for recommending Bluehost to you – so please feel free to check other hosts, there are a lot to choose from. The rest of the instructions assume you are using Bluehost.

● Click on “Domain Check” on the left sidebar

● Under “I Need a Domain – Enter Domain Name” type in your proposed domain name

● Fill Out the Registration Information

     ▪ “Domain Privacy” – I checked this because it was free

     ▪ “Package Information” – I chose 2 years for $5.95 per month, Bluehost runs sales and specials from time to time – check to see which package best fits your needs. Note that they do not bill you monthly – you pay for the entire length of the package when you sign up.

● Enter your credit card information

● Click on the “Next” Button

● The site will say it is creating order records

● The next screen has a button for “Control Panel” you will automatically be logged on and taken to the Control Panel

● Check the bottom of the welcome message to get rid of it.

 

Step Three – Install WordPress

● From the Control Panel scroll down to Software and Services, click on the WordPress Logo

● Click on the “Install” button at the bottom of the WordPress page

     ▪ Skip Step One – the fields should be filled in for you correctly.

     ▪ Step Two

          – insert the name of your blog (should be the URL minus the .com)

          – create your own password because it will be easier to remember than the computer generated one

     ▪ Step Three – check both boxes

● The next screen will create the WordPress blog

 

Step Four – Choose a WordPress Theme

● Log In to WordPress

● You should automatically go to the Dashboard

● Click on “Appearance” on the left sidebar

● Click on “Add New Themes” under “Appearance”

● You can search for and choose any theme you like. I used Themezee for the clean modern look. Remember that most themes allow you to modify the colors and headers (artwork that usually contains pictures and logos). So, you are primarily choosing the layout you like best.

● Click on “Install Now” once you have chosen a theme.

● Click on “Activate” at the next screen.

Step Five – Install All-In-One SEO Pack

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The goal is to be on the first page of Google searches when people search for keywords related to your website. This plug in makes sure your site looks good to Google and the people searching keywords. It gives you control over the paragraph people see when your site appears on search engine results pages. If you don’t do this Google will grab random copy from your website to use as the description of your website… it usually looks kind of weird.

● From the WordPress dashboard click on “Plug Ins” Then “Add New”

● Type “All-In-One SEO Pack” into the search field, click on “Search Plug Ins”

● The correct plug in should be listed first, Click on “Install Now”

● On the next screen click “Activate”

● Click on “Options Configuration Panel”

● Scroll down a little, the Plug in Status should have a green dot on “Enabled”

● “Home Title” is what appears in bright blue letters on the Google Search Engine Results Page and at the top of your browser on your home page. Be sure to use your keywords in this title, using them twice is even better. For example, I used “Christian Band Help – Your Christian Band Resource”.

● “Home Description” is the paragraph that describes your site underneath the blue home title on the Google Search Engine Results Page. Use your keywords twice again to get higher up in Google searches. I used “Resources to help manage your Christian Bands ministry. Free venue lists, money tips, & The Christian Band Handbook.” You can come back to this plug in at any time to change the description.

● “Home Keywords” are words that you think people may search for to find your site. Type in your primary keywords first, followed by any secondary keywords. I used: Christian Band Help, Christian Band Resources, Christian Band Management, Christian Venues, and Christian Festivals.

● Leave the rest of the setting as they are, the defaults are good.

● Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “Update Options” and you are done!

Step Six – Install Google XML Sitemaps Plug In

This plug in creates a file that lets Google correctly index your website in their system. You’ll never know it’s there once you install it, but it will help Google to help the right people find your site.

● From the WordPress dashboard click on “Plug Ins” Then “Add New”

● Type “Google XML Sitemaps” into the search field, click on “Search Plug Ins”

● The correct plug in should be listed first, Click on “Install Now”

● On the next screen click “Activate”. You never have to do anything else with this!

Step Seven – Install the Google Privacy Policy Plug In

This plug in automatically creates a page on your blog that is a pre-written privacy policy to meet Google’s requirements for websites using AdSense. Websites without a privacy policy rank lower on Google searches.

● From the WordPress dashboard click on “Plug Ins” then “Add New”

● Type “Google Privacy Policy” into the search field, click on “Search Plug Ins”

● The correct plug in should be listed first, Click on “Install Now”

● On the next screen click “Activate”.

I let the policy be a blog post and filed it under a new category I created called “Terms, Policies, and Disclaimers”. To create a new Category:

● From the WordPress Dashboard click on “Categories” (under “Posts” on the left hand sidebar)

● Under “Add New Category” fill in the name of the new category

● I leave the rest blank and click on the “Add New Category” button.

Now you need to edit the privacy policy post so that it gets filed under the correct category.

● From the WordPress Dashboard click on “All Posts” (under “Posts” on the left hand sidebar)

● Hover your curser over the post that says “Privacy Policy” then click on “Edit”

● On the right hand sidebar (under “Categories”) click on the category you created for the policy and unclick on “Uncategorized”.

If you don’t want your policies to be a separate category, you can use a plug in called Exclude Pages and link to it manually within the footer.php file.

Step Eight – Set Up a Google Account

You will need a Google account to get the Google Analyticator plug in and to get Adsense ads. Many of you will already have a Google account. If so, skip this step.

● go to www.google.com

● click on “Sign In” in the upper right corner

● click on “Sign Up for a New Account” in the upper right corner

● Fill in the Required Information

● click on “I Accept. Create My Account” at the bottom of the page

● you will be asked to verify your account through your e-mail – click “Agree” on the pop up.

Step Nine – Set Up a Google Analytics Account

 

Google Analytics tells you about who is coming to your website so you can you’re your marketing more effective.

           

● Go to http://www.google.com/analytics/

● Click on the “Sign Up Now” button in the upper right corner.

● Sign in with the e-mail and password you used to create your Google account.

● Click the “Sign Up Now” button on the right hand side of the page

● On the “Create New Account” page:

     ▪ fill in the account name and your web site name

     ▪ then click on the “Yes, I agree to the Terms and Conditions” box

     ▪ Click on “Create Account” button at the bottom of the page

Step Ten – Install Google Analyticator

 

● From the WordPress dashboard click on “Plug Ins” Then “Add New”

● Type “Google Analyticator” into the search field, click on “Search Plug Ins”

● The correct plug in should be listed first, Click on “Install Now”

● On the next screen click “Activate”

Now you can see information about who is coming to your website from the WordPress dashboard.

 

Step Eleven – Update Your Permalink Structure

Your blog creates a URL for each post you publish, called a permalink. The default link usually does not make much sense and does not help the search engines find your post. This plug in allows you to automatically use the name of your post as the permalink. For example one of my posts used to look like: http://www.christianbandhelp.com/?p=23. Now my post titled “Set List 101” looks like: http://www.christianbandhelp.com/set-list-101/. To make this change:

● From the WordPress Dashboard go to “Settings” then “Permalinks” on the left sidebar.

● Check the “Custom Structure” box

● insert  /%postname%/ into the field

● Click on the “Save Changes” button on the bottom of the page

This is a super easy change that makes the blog look more professional and helps more people find your blog because the search engines have more accurate information.

Step Twelve – Create a Favicon

Christian bands use favicons
This screenshot of Christian Band Help.com points out our favicons.

The favicon is the small icon that shows up before the http:// at the top of your browser. It also appears when your site is bookmarked (or favorited). The default icon is probably your hosting provider or looks like a blank sheet of paper. Either way, it looks unprofessional when it is not customized for your website. It’s an easy fix!

● Create a 16×16 pixel icon (most people use Photoshop, but if you do not have that kind of a program you can use the website Favicon.cc). Look at other sites favicons to get inspiration. Keep it super simple because it is so small.

● Upload this picture into the public_html folder

     ▪ From the Bluehost control panel go to “Files” and click on “Legacy File Manager”

     ▪ A pop up called “Directory Selection” will appear. Check the box that says “Web Root (public_html/www)”. Then click on “Go”.

     ▪ In roughly the middle of the screen click on “Upload Files”, there is a green arrow in front of it.

     ▪ Click on “Browse” and find the file with the icon.

     ▪ “Open” the file, then click on “Upload”

● Rename the file

     ▪ Scroll down to find the file you just uploaded. Click on it.

     ▪ A menu will appear in the upper right corner of the screen. Click on “Rename File”

     ▪ Type favicon.ico into the field and click “Rename”

That’s it! You did it… a professional looking blog style website in 12 easy steps! 

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