Blogging for Entrepreneurs III – Choosing The Right Hosting & Design To get you started, you need to find a right web host and a decent design
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After the second part of the Blogging for Entrepreneurs, you already know the importance of correctly setting up the core pages of your blog. You may have decided how to create your "About me", "Short Bio", "Products/Services", and "Contact" pages, but you may still have questions about selecting a right hosting plan and design of your blog. Let's address them all in this post, right away.
Your blogging platform
You will have a choice to pick one from Wordpress, Blogger, Tumblr, Typepad etc. I personally like and recommend Wordpress because of its ease, user-friendly interface and plenty of features to make a blog look great.
How to Select the Best Hosting Service & Plan
To get you started, you need to find a right web host first. With so many service providers available, it is natural to feel a bit confused. Consider these points before choosing a hosting. For instance:
Know the server speed and uptime - A website that loads fast creates a good first (and happy) impression on your visitors. More than 79% of online users never use a website that loads slowly. A large percentage abandons your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds.
Pay attention to the server space - You usually do not need terabytes of space. But go for a relatively higher server space if your blog revolves around visuals and videos.
Check the availability of support. Always consider the level of support you get from your host. You would need to talk to them quite often in the first few years, trust me. Sometimes, you get the opportunity to talk to other users and the support staff in a forum, but other hosting providers may not have this option available. Just ensure you select a service with 24/7 support.
Check the cost. No matter how impressive a hosting plan sounds, it is of no use if it is out of your budget. Determine a reasonable budget and do not try to cut corners here. If it seems affordable, check the availability of other features to get a well-rounded hosting plan. There is a reason why I have kept the cost at the last. It is important but not the most important deciding factor. A good hosting plan should range between $8-12 per month for blogging starters.
Additionally, you should be checking your blogging host or blogging platform for the availability of security features. Some hosting plans will offer free and others wouldn't. It is worth to invest some money in buying SSL for your blog. Readers wouldn't be very confident about your brand if they see a prominent "not secure" written next to your URL in address bar.
Moreover, get some security plugins such as Sucuri to keep your blog off the malware.
Design of Your blog
Once you have selected a hosting plan and blogging platform, you will be up with the task of designing your own blog. Again, I believe that the use of WordPress and similar platforms make it easier to design a blog with easy to customize themes, drag and drop functionality and various built-in plug-ins. Still, consider these points to ensure an impressive and compelling blog also the one that is easier to monetize.
What Will the Primary Content Type
What kind of content you'll create more frequently? Is it videos? Or text posts? Do you feel easier with creating visual posts or more comfortable with a podcast? You can find a relevant theme based upon your primary content. It is important to choose your theme right because it may come with relevant plugins and widgets to ease your blogging efforts as well as a reader-friendly look and feel.
Decide whether you want a blog or website cum blog
Do you plan to offer some of your services as well? Do you wish to build a personal brand with your blog? It will be sensible to design your homepage differently so that your new visitors get the desired impression about you.
A blog will have a landing page displaying the latest posts whereas a website cum blog may have a more navigational look around your personal brand. The homepage may showcase your USP, your services and products and latest events etc. Both ideas work well, but you need to make a decision to design your landing page accordingly.
For example, my blog landing page showcases more about me, what I do while it leads to the latest blog posts. This kind of landing pages works like a reception that leads the visitor to a desired page or information they are looking for.
Design Tips to Remember
Whether you have a standalone blog or you are designing a website cum blog, keep the following tips in mind to make it a pleasant and useful experience for your visitors.
- Keep it Simple
Keep the design as simple as possible. Understand that the ultimate reason for your visitors to come again is to read and see your content, so focus on that instead of creating a flashy blog with a distracting colour scheme all over the place.
You may select colours that reflect your own personality – they should be upbeat but not overpowering. In any case, do not opt for a colour scheme that contains more than 3 colours. I repeat; the focus is on readership, not flaunting designs and colours.
- Impressive Logo
If you haven't already invested in a logo design, do so now. Not only will help you with your marketing campaigns, it will also make it easier for your visitors to remember your brand identity. Not to mention, it will help align your website colour scheme with your logo.
Do not underestimate the importance of using plug-ins when creating your blog. Some will contribute to the aesthetics and some will make the blog more useful. Some of the essentials if not all include Akismet to stave off comment spam; JetPack to optimize your blog for search engines; Wordfence Security to block malicious networks and attacks; Yoast SEO to make your blog more visible in search engines, Sumo for social media and many more.
Hire a Strategist & Designer
When you have little clue about how to design your blog or website, consider hiring a strategist and a designer.
A well-designed blog can take your personal and business brand far. A strategist will help you plan a powerful blog with all essential functionalities and features that align with your goals. Whereas a professional developer can implement the strategy and information architecture to create that powerful blog.
This one-time investment can save you plenty of time and effort while you focus only on creating useful content for your audience.
Rope in a Blogging Coach
If you're not currently thinking of hiring a strategist, at least decide to work with a blogging coach to make your blog work and stay on the right track while you experiment with several new things in your blogging journey. A right coach will help you sail through all hurdles associated with blogging for entrepreneurs. So, know your options and utilize them well.
Know When to Hire a Designer
If you know the ins and outs of SEO and have the time to spend, you may want to go ahead and customize your blog on your own. When you have a business to run, it is highly unlikely though to have ample time in hand, and that is when hiring a blog designer or developer makes great sense.
While you can certainly work with the designer and give your input, the designer will handle all the technical aspects such as customizing a theme to set up a perfect blog. A good website developer also works with a strategist to help layout a plan. You can check that plan, tweak it with your input, and ensure that you're ready to give your competition a run for their money.
Customizing a theme can be a messy affair especially when you're not tech savvy. So consider delegation.
Over to You
Blogging will work for you if you lay a strong foundation right from the word go. Now you know how to write your core content pages, have some design ideas when to hire a professional designer when to seek the help of a coach and begin right from step one. Go get your blog set up today!
I am glad to complete the foundation of a blog with this post. We will be starting with how to write compelling content that converts in the next post.
Keep watching this column.