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Suzy: Week 4 Goals – Setting Up Her Travel Blog

If you’re wondering what this Case Study is all about, please read the introductory post from Week One.

In last week’s installment of this Case Study [2], we covered Level 2 of the Flow Chart and Suzy’s process of choosing a domain name for her new travel blog.

Level 3 of the Flow Chart is about setting up Suzy’s travel blog using WordPress, and customizing it to get the look she wants and ensure that it performs optimally for the search engines.

I recommend WordPress over other blogging and CMS platforms because it has a simple user interface, making it easy to learn and use for most people.

Many site hosting companies offer “one-click installation” of WordPress. I recommend using 1&1 [3], BlueHost [4], or Omnis Network [5] because they also offer a free domain name included in the cost of your monthly hosting.

Each step in the Flow Chart links to explanations, free tools, and resources [6]
You can find a GREAT video tutorial on the one-click installation with BlueHost [7] at WordPress.TV. The process is similar for most hosting companies that offer this feature.

When installing WordPress, you’ll be asked for the “name” of your blog. In theory, this should be the same as your domain name, but in practice you can call your travel blog whatever you like. However, beware the disconnect! If your travel blog name is different from your domain name, it can cause confusion and send potential readers elsewhere if they type what they “think” is your travel blog’s address incorrectly.

Suzy’s older, established travel blog name does not match her domain name. The domain that matches her travel blog name is owned by someone else, as is the hyphenated version – readers who type in the name of her travel blog in the URL bar wind up at someone else’s website! Her NEW travel blog has a blog name and domain name that match.

Once you have WordPress installed, there’s a little bit of work to do to customize both the “back end” (the administrative interface, where you write and manage posts and pages) and the “front end” (what your site visitors see – the overall layout & design).

There are some good video tutorials in the “How To [8]” section at WordPress.tv that deal with customizing the admin interface to your liking, so I’m only going to cover the two features that I feel are IMPORTANT to change before you do anything else.

There are a number of good resources to quickly learn about the Administrative Interface and other Settings.

Next up – choosing a Theme!

All of your “content” (what goes on your posts and pages) is stored in a database – a Theme just controls how that content is presented – how your site is laid out, and what images and fonts are used in that layout.

There are thousands of Themes to choose from, and many of them are free. You can find TONS of sites that offer free WordPress Themes by simply using Google, but here are a few to get you started:

You’ll find a good video tutorial at WordPress.TV about Previewing and Activating Themes [15], and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is!

For her new travel blog, Suzy chose a beautiful theme that made it very clear what her travel blog is about through the use of the images in the header and sidebar. When you land on her travel blog, even if she didn’t have a good clear domain name, blog name, and tagline (she does), you’d still know exactly what her travel blog is about.

Some important considerations when choosing a Theme:

Although it’s easy (and tempting to change your Theme often, I recommend that you find a Theme that can become associated with your “brand” – so that returning visitors will feel comfortable that they’ve come back to the right website.   That doesn’t mean that you can’t make small changes and improvements over time, but be cautious of a complete overhaul of your travel blog once you have some decent site traffic, unless you advise your regular visitors and subscribers about your plans.

Stay Tuned! Next week we’ll cover my recommended essential Plugins to add, using Widgets to control the layout, and highly important features to incorporate.

~Trisha

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