How To Run a Football Blog: Part 1 – Setup

15 May

Hello and welcome to a new series I’ve decided to run after a little bit of coaxing from various people. This will be a 5 week course on how to run a football blog. Whilst I’m not saying I’m the greatest football blogger out there, nor am I the most profitable, I do think I at least know a wee bit on what I’m talking about. As such, this is a blueprint for new football bloggers to get a blog up and running. However, I believe there is a lot that is useful stuff in here even if you are not a new blogger!

About Me

As well as running You’re Supposed To Be At Home, I pay the bills by using a mixture of my day job as head of International SEO at a small marketing firm (which sounds more impressive than it is), and run my own sites as well on the side. As such, I feel that, whilst I’m not the best writer in the world, I know a few bits and bobs on how to SEO and market a website.

Disclaimer

In writing this, I am going to suggest a few tools and services I use. First off – I use the same tools or service. I do not suggest anything that I don’t use or recommend myself. However: a few of the tools are affiliate links. As such, if you click the link and purchase: I get some cash. If you don’t like that, simply Google (or Bing, I prefer Bing!) the tools in question. They’ll turn up and I won’t get a penny. That is fine!

My chosen choice for blogs is WordPress

 

Setting Up The Blog – What Platform To Use?

There are two main platforms in which to begin blogging – WordPress and Blogger. Blogger is a service run by Google which allows a lot more for free. WordPress is a free service as well, and is open source, which means that anybody (yours truly included) can develop themes and plugins and release them onto the market. Many of the top themes and plugins are free. However, whilst the software is free, if you don’t have a domain name or hosting space, you will have to settle with WordPress.com hosting. Whilst free – WordPress.com hosting is a lot more restrictive as to what you can or cannot do on it.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I would suggest signing up with WordPress.com. Pick a theme and start blogging. Also at this point, I’d suggest signing up to Twitter and interacting with the Twitter community as well. Make sure your twitter handle is as close to the name of your blog as possible.

2 Weeks Later – Go Self Hosted

Are you enjoying blogging? Enjoy writing about football and want to take the next step? Well the next step is to go self hosted. Self hosted requires a little bit of investment, though less than many people think – you can get a blog self hosted for less than £50 a year. In going self hosted, it has the following benefits:-

  • Full Control – Your hosting will allow you to control and manage the blog effectively. If WordPress.com or Blogger.com were to ever go down or change their terms and conditions, then you will be fine.
  • You Legally Own Your Own Content – A worrying trend in Blogger.com services is that Google technically owns your content. I’m not a lawyer but reading through their terms and conditions that is what is suggested. In self hosting, you will own your content and you can do what you want with it.
  • You Can Start Earning Money – The main drawback of free services is that you cannot earn cash for your hard work. In self hosting, you can do what you want with your hosting. Including earning some cash.
  • You Are Perceived to be Bigger – A domain name ranges from 99p to £10 a year. I generally trust bloggers that aren’t wordpress.com or blogspot.com domains a lot more.
  • You Are Boosted in Search Engines – Although we won’t be looking too much as search engine traffic in this guide, having a self hosted blog does boost your search engine traffic.

What You Need To Be Self Hosted

To become self hosted, you need two things. A domain name and a hosting provider. Your domain name is the www.[something].[something] you use to access your site on the internet. Your hosting is a computer permanently attached to the internet in which you place your files to access them (in this case, your WordPress files).

Recommendations

Hosting Recommendation – Hostgator

All of my websites are hosted by Hostgator. This US hosting firm use great servers and are rarely down. Secondly (and more importantly) their technical support is second to none. Quick and knowledgeable, any issues I have had have been sorted within 24 hours. Most issues are solved there and then. I couldn’t recommend enough.

Click here to visit Hostgator’s Website.

Domain Name Registrant – Each to their Own!

There are plenty of domain name registrars out there. As such, many of them are similar. However, I use a combination of 123-reg and Godaddy for my domains.

Click Here To Visit 123-Reg’s Website

Click Here To Visit Godaddy’s Website

The 3 Sentence Guide To Getting Your Domain Pointed At Your Site

When you sign up to Hostgator you will receive login details with your username, password & your nameservers. Log into your Domain Registrar (123-reg or Godaddy), find your domain name & find the option to “change DNS” or “change nameservers”. Change the two nameservers on your registrar to the Hostgator Nameservers mentioned in sentence one.

The 1 Sentence Guide To Getting WordPress Installed On Your Hosting

Read This.

Chosen Logo Designer - Blog Design Team

 

Getting A Logo Designed

The easiest way to stand out from the blogosphere is to get a logo designed. You can either do it yourself, or here are some cost effective ways of doing it:-

  • Fiverr.com – I’ve known a few bloggers to get a logo designed by fiverr.com. It’s a bit hit and miss (often I’ve known bloggers to get 4 or 5 logos designed on this, and pick the best), but if you fancy an uber-cheap way to get a logo designed by somebody other than yourself, use this.
  • Blog Design Team – I’ve used this multiple times & recommend it. Quick, easy, simple, multiple revisions. A proper logo designed by some great graphic designers in the Philippines for less than a night out. Superb.

Click Here To Visit Fiverr.com

Click Here To Visit Blog Design Team

Picking A Theme

I recommend designing a logo before picking a theme as in doing so you get an idea on what colour scheme you wish to use for your blog, and your theme. Many bloggers design their own logo and shell out for a theme. I recommend the opposite. With a little bit of searching you can find a great theme for nothing.

WordPress Free Themes Directory

 

Recommended Free Themes – WordPress.org Repository

To find a theme for free, I recommend checking out the WordPress.org Theme Repository. That contains themes that are certified clean (many WordPress themes aren’t clean, read this post so you know why).

The One Sentence Guide To Installing Free WordPress Themes from WordPress.org

Read This.

Recommended Paid Themes – None Really

There are plenty of great paid themes. However most simply aren’t worth the money. You’re more saving time rather than getting access to many new features. However two that I recommend are Genesis Theme Framework (highly recommended) and WooThemes (slightly recommended). However for most bloggers I’d stick to free themes.

I would suggest you avoid Thesis. The code is bloated and much of the functionality that should be Plugin driven are theme driven.

Click Here To Visit Genesis

Click Here To Visit WooThemes

Plugins

Plugins are fairly straightforward. They are ways in which you can expand WordPress’ functionality with extra features. For most blogs, you’d want a selection of these. They are easy to install and, by and large, easy to use.

The One Sentence Guide To Installing Free WordPress Plugins from WordPress.org

Read This.

Recommended Plugins To Install

I recommend you install the following plugins:-

  • Yoast WordPress SEO – Will be discussed in this tutorial. The best plugin out there for Search Engine Optimisation.
  • Yoast Google Analytics – Allows easy integration of Google Analytics which will be discussed later.
  • WP Email Capture – (disclaimer, this is my plugin) Allows you to capture email addresses so you can send out newsletters (will discuss more later).
  • Akismet – (comes pre installed). Prevents comment spam. This is a must.
  • Twitter Tools – Allows you to automatically tweet new posts to your twitter account.
  • Contact Form 7 ­– Allows the easy creation of a contact form. Useful for advertising enquiries/guest blog enquries.
  • Tweet Old Post – Periodically tweets posts from the archive to your site. Good for maintaining a level of interest even when you are not able to tweet.
  • WP Super Cache – Does some cool stuff in the back end of WordPress which means that if your site gets a lot of hits, then the speed of your site isn’t affected. Recommended, even if you aren’t sure what it does.
  • WordPress Database Backup – Backs up your WordPress Database & emails it to you, good in case things go wrong.
  • Digg Digg – Adds social media buttons to your posts, allows posts to be easily shared.

Google Analytics can see where your visitors came to your site from

 

Install Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a piece of software that allows you to track your visitor numbers within the site. It’s a free piece of software and extremely powerful. To install Google Analytics, first you need to create an account on Google Analytics, which is linked to your Google Account. Once you’ve done that, do the following:-

  • Click on the “Admin” button located at the top right hand corner of the screen.
  • Click “New Account” and create a new account, filling in the relevant details.
  • Once done, click on “New Property”, give it a name, place your URL in the “Website’s URL” and then click “Create Property”.
  • Then log into your WordPress account & go to “Settings > Google Analytics”. Authenticate your account with your WordPress installation, and then link your WordPress account with the correct Google Analytics account. Click “Update Google Analytics Settings” and you’re done!

Install Google Webmaster Tools

The next thing you must do is set yourself up with Google Webmaster Tools. This gives you an overview on how your site is performing within Google, what it thinks the main keywords for your site are. It also crucially lets you know if your site has been hacked or is distributing malicious software & will let you resubmit the site to search engines. It’s very useful in letting you know how Google sees your site.

There are two ways of getting your website verified within Google Webmaster Tools. First you need to login to Google Webmaster Tools with your Google Account details you either have or created in the previous step.

When you have done that, click on the “Add a Site” button to add your site to Google Webmaster Tools, put in your site URL within the box that appears and you’ll be given a choice on how you’d like to verify your site. Click “add a meta tag”. Copy the meta tag.

The location of the Meta Tags in Google Webmaster Tools

In your WordPress Administration, click on “SEO”. At the bottom there is a box entitled “Webmaster Tools”. Paste the copied meta tag into there. Click “Save Settings”.

The Box in Yoast WordPress SEO where to place the Google Webmaster Tags

Automate Website Backups

It is important to back up your blog. Fortunately it’s easy to schedule the backups. To begin with, click on “Tools > Backup” in the WordPress Administration.

Scroll down to “Schedule Backups”. Click the button next to the frequency of backups you are after (weekly is great), check all the boxes on “extra tables to backup”, and enter your email in the box above Schedule. Click Schedule and you’ll have backups set up, emailing you copies of your backup!

The Scheduled Backup Box

Congratulations! You Now Have A Blog!

Congratulations, you now a great blog and a platform for sharing your thoughts a bit more seriously than before. Now what to write? Well, anything you want. However in the next part I will share ways in which I get posts written, including structuring your football blog, scheduling posts and jotting down ideas at matches quickly and easily. Check back in next week for the post, or sign up to the newsletter to get it into your inbox next Friday. See you then!



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About Rhys Wynne

Rhys Wynne is the editor & creator of You're Supposed To Be At Home. For his sins, he is a Colwyn Bay & Liverpool fan, and a serial blog creator. You can follow Rhys on twitter here.

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