If you have an eCommerce business, you may feel that you already have a good presence on the Internet, and that having a blog is an unnecessary and time-consuming commitment. While it’s true that maintaining a blog requires a level of commitment and attention, if you don’t have one you are missing out on a chance to build loyalty and trust with your customers by providing valuable expert insights and information and allowing them to get to know you on a more personal level – and you are ultimately missing out on a great opportunity to drive traffic to your site.
Setting up a blog is relatively easy, and one of the most popular blog systems is WordPress. Setting up your blog through WordPress is a fairly simple process, and once you know a few things about it, you will be ready to get started.
|The first thing you need to know is that there are actually two types of WordPress blogging systems:|
The difference? WordPress.com is a free system, but also quite limited in options and templates. In addition, it is not meant for commercial use. There are limitations to what kind of affiliate links, product links, and even advertisements you can have. WordPress.com is great for people who only want a blog and have no interest in generating real income. If you are selling online, or even just thinking about selling online, you may eventually want to earn some income directly from your blog or even turn it into an eCommerce site for your products.
WordPress.org is similar to WordPress.com in that it is a blogging platform at it’s core, but it allows you far more flexibility with advanced options, plug-ins, and other ways to customize your blog to fit your needs.
Setting up a WordPress.org blog is relatively easy – it just requires a few more steps:
1. Select a Domain Name (this is the URL name of your blog). You can typically purchase your domain name through the web hosting company you choose, or you can purchase it from a company that buys and sells domain names, such as GoDaddy.com.
2. Sign up for a Web Hosting service. You need a web hosting service to store your blog files and share them on the Internet for you. The files you upload to your web host will be shown to the readers of your blog through the web.
There are many different hosting companies. Although you can search out a hosting service on your own, WordPress recommends BlueHost as their top pick for hosting a WordPress blog. As a blogger, I have used BlueHost for the last couple of years with zero downtime and their tech support is great even for beginners. It is also relatively inexpensive.
3. Point your Domain Name to your web host. To do this, return to the site where you purchased your domain name. Log in and follow the sites instructions for pointing your blog URL to the host site you have chosen. If you purchased your domain through GoDaddy, their instructions and customer support are second to none.
4. Install WordPress on your web hosting account. Since each hosting service is a little different, follow the instructions from your service provider to install WordPress to get it up and running. If you choose to use BlueHost, you just need to log into your account and use their one-click install. If you choose a different host for your site, it’s a good idea to see if they offer a simple installation process for WordPress.
5. Install your WordPress theme. Access your WordPress Dashboard by logging into your account (You will receive an email with the log in info as soon as you install WordPress. Save this!) Your log in address will always be http://YourBlogName.com/wp-admin, so you can bookmark the admin URL. Once you have logged in, you are ready to install your theme. This is where you select the colors, fonts, blog layout and more.
There are thousands of free themes, and you can spend many hours searching through them. There are also ‘premium themes’ available for a small fee. WordPress usually comes pre-installed with a couple of default themes. If you are a beginner, I’d recommend starting with one of these.
You can also purchase themes from a third-party service such as Elegant Themes. One advantage of a paid theme is that you know you have someone there for tech support if you have any problems with it, and you can be confident they are updated, as WordPress issues frequent updates to keep your blog secure.
Once your blog is set up, you’re ready to start blogging! Most people consider their first blog post to be the hardest. Think about what you want to say and what message you want to greet your customers or clients with. Also, plan to blog on a regular basis. This is probably the most important piece, and sometimes the hardest. Don’t set yourself up to fail by promising yourself and the audience that you will blog ‘EVERY DAY’. Frequency is less necessary than consistency.
Don’t get caught up in the thinking that every single blog post much be earth-shattering. Share some humorous comics you find, or a cute saying. Photos are great. Did you go somewhere for your business this week? A trade show or another place? Post a photo. Keep it easy and enjoy yourself. You know who your audience is so just speak to them. Some people find it helps to do a number of blog posts all at one time, and then simply schedule them to appear on a regular basis. Whichever way you choose, be creative – and have fun!
This guest post was contributed by Kat Simpson. Kat is a trusted eCommerce author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, as well as a successful Amazon merchant. Currently Kat is the hosts the popular weekly eCommerce Podcast That Kat Radio and an active Facebook Group ThatKat.