Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How to Build a Blog Site from Scratch

Once you’ve set up your self-hosted blog on WordPress (or whatever platform you decide to use), next you’re going to want to begin building your blog.

How to Build a Blog Site from Scratch

Over the years, I’ve built over a dozen blogs, many of which were built the wrong way, unfortunately. Which required me to go back and start over.

Eventually, I learned that building a blog is a lot like building a house. Minus the fact that building a house is way more difficult and labor intensive and, oh yeah, super expensive.

But other than that, they’re pretty much the same. 😉

In all seriousness, though, building a blog site from scratch requires you to really contemplate what you’re trying to accomplish and what you want this “thing” to look like.

You should think of it like a construction project. Sure, you could just start building, but it’s not going to look as good as it would if you spent some time thinking through all the pieces you want to include, and why you want to include them.

This article will give you the “blueprint” for what your blog should look like. So whether you’re just getting started blogging, or you’re like I was and you’re tired of doing it the wrong way, this article should help.

Every great blog has six essential pages, and if you want your blog to be great too, you should include them. The first three are absolutely necessary, and the second three are optional but recommended.

Here we go…

1. Home Page: The first thing blog readers see (Essential)

Your homepage is a snapshot of what your entire website is all about. It should be short and informative without being exhaustive. Think of it as the headline to your website. It’s the first thing most readers will see, and if you don’t captivate their attention now, you will lose them forever.

So, ask yourself:

  • What problem are you going to solve with this blog?
  • How are you going to help people?
  • What is the purpose of this website?
  • What do you want people to do once they visit your website?

Your homepage should answer these questions and include the following:

  • An email subscription form (if you don’t have an email marketing tool I recommend ConvertKit, which allows you to embed forms like this on your website).
  • A picture or graphic. This can be aspirational—the ideal outcome for your reader, like a picture of a happy customer or person—or it can simply be a branding opportunity—in which case you’d just share your picture or brand icon.
  • A paragraph or two about you and/or your brand. Just give us a snapshot, linking to the About page so people can read more. Again, think of this as an introduction. Tell them just enough to get them hooked.
  • Important links to other key content on the website: including your About Page, Blog Page, and Subscription Page.

You can see a screenshot of my homepage below:

Goins Writer Home Page

2. About Page: Where your blog readers get to know you (Essential)

The second most important page on your blog/website after your homepage is your About Page. This, as I have said before, is the one of the most neglected pieces of real estate for many bloggers.

It’s often something that we throw together with little thought, not realizing that it will likely be one of the most visited pages on our blog. My about page is the #2 most visited page on my blog after the home page, which is where any new visitor typically lands.

So, yeah. Your about page is pretty important. In a nutshell, it should be an overview of who you are, what you do, and what the reader will get out of reading your blog. A good about page should include these three elements:

  • Welcome
  • Compelling promise to the reader
  • Call to action (like “sign up for my email list!”)

I wrote an entire article on this, so if you want to read more, just click the following:

The Most Overlooked Piece of Real Estate on Your Blog

3. Subscribe Page: How you will stay in touch with your readers (Essential)

This page is dedicated to getting new email subscribers to your list. You should tell your readers what they get when they sign up for your email newsletter list, why they should sign up for it, and what to expect from you.

You can also include other ways to stay in touch with you.

You can also dub this the “Free Resources” page and use it to promote lead magnets (i.e. free eBooks and other resources that people get when they join your free email newsletter list).

To see an example, check out my subscribe page.

4. Blog Page: How readers can encounter your recent work (Optional)

This is where your recent blog posts go. Depending on how much blogging will be a part of your website determines how much importance you give this page. But I recommend having a dedicated page for your blog that simply lists recent blog posts. You can see mine here.

I don’t recommend having your Blog Page be your Home Page, because that can get confusing in terms of what you’re asking the reader to do. Your Home Page should remain clean and focused on the big-picture goal of the website, whatever it is.

For my Home Page, I want to encourage people to sign up for my email list. But at the bottom of the page, I link to my blog and other resources so people who are just browsing know where to go.

5. Start Here Page: Where readers can get started without feeling overwhelmed (Optional)

This is optional but recommended if you already have a lot of content that may be confusing for new readers. For my blog, I did this once I had several hundred articles and didn’t want people to miss some of the essentials. So, I created a “Writing Tips” page with links to my best articles and included it in my main menu.

The purpose of a Start Here Page is to give a new reader the “Cliff’s Notes” version of your website and let them know where they should go first to begin their journey with you. This can be a list of your top articles, favorite books or stories, products you offer, or free stuff that you don’t want them to miss. Whatever it is, the goal is to give them one page with a list of things to do or read so they don’t miss out.

A great example of this is David Molnar’s website which teaches you how to be a better photographer. On his “Start Here” page, he has a series of free trainings that he offers, and depending on what your photography needs are, he helps you quickly navigate to the right resource.

David Molnar Start Here

6. Resources Page: How you can help your readers (Optional)

A Resources Page is also optional, but it makes a lot of sense if your blog is teaching someone how to do something or you’re sharing tips and ideas from your life and you want to curate all your top recommended resources in one place.

How do you know you need a Resources Page? If you find yourself recommending the same books, courses, or resources over and over again, then you probably do.

This page ought to include the resources that have been most helpful to you and/or what would be most helpful to your audience. This may include resources you have created, like books and courses, or it can simply be a list of tools, reading material, and other resources that have helped you.

A Resources Page can be a good source of affiliate income for some bloggers. One blogger who has done a great job, Pat Flynn, talks about how he makes at least five figures a month just off this page. Pat has told me before that this is one of his most visited pages on his website and, obviously, a great source of income for him.

Pat Flynn Resources

You can see my Resources page here.

So those are the six most important pages for your blog.

Which of these was the most helpful to you? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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