Domains, Hosting, WordPress, oh my! a.k.a How to build your own WordPress Website part 1

Domains, hosting, WordPress – it all gets our knickers in a twist, am I right? I get emailed a lot about where to start with building your own WordPress website, I know it can be quite daunting, so rather than gorging on all the WordPress articles in the world, you can read this one and receive all the information you need to know to set up your own website and get to grips with right here and now.

First up, did you know there are TWO versions of WordPress.

  1. WordPress.com is the free version that has limited functionality but it’s not good for a professional site.
  2. WordPress.org where you pay for external hosting and you can make into an all-singing-all-dancing website. Or, you know, one that shows off your photos beautifully and will make your couples want to book!

So, here’s how to start:

Sit down with a cuppa and get your notebook, a pen and your wallet out; you’ll need your card to pay for a couple of things.

Do you own a domain name?

Firstly you need to purchase your domain name.

I like to use Namecheap (although there are a gazillion others out there like 123reg, GoDaddy etc). I like Namecheap because it’s super simple and easy to use, plus they have great live support.

So, to see if your desired domain is available, type your desired domain into the search bar.

If it’s available, there will be a number of options available to purchase it such as .com, .co.uk, and many others. The industry standard for commercial businesses is – .com or .co.uk. There is a debate on whether to choose .com or .co.uk as your main domain name. I would always advocate buying both if they are both available in order to protect your brand.

The domains are cheap to buy per year, but it is a ranking factor (albeit not a major one it would seem any more) if you buy for several years at a time, so if you’ve got the cash upgrade to purchase for 5 years, that is best.

Do you have a host?

Now you’ve chosen a name for your house, you need to find some land, i.e. your own corner of the internet on which your website will sit: your hosting.

I recommend Siteground – I host my web design clients on Siteground and they’re brilliant with customer support. Go for the basic package to begin with as you don’t need anything more. Logging into Siteground you’ll be asked to hook up your domain name with your hosting. They’ll walk you through this but they also have an online tutorial and even better, Namecheap also have live chat now so if you do get stuck you can go back to them and ask for help there.

Now that you have hosting, you need to update your domain provider and add the settings that your hosting provider give you – these are called nameservers. In a new tab, if you’re using Siteground, go to My Account, then Manage Account for the domain you’re working on and then the nameservers are on the left hand side. Go back to your domain provider in the previous tab and find “Manage DNS”. This can be a little tricky the first time you do it, which is why I’m so keen on you choosing providers that have good customer support! This will take up to 24 hours to update and then you’re ready for the next stage.

Now it’s time to install WordPress.org

Assuming you’re using Siteground, go to cPanel and under Installers, select WordPress.

Here’s a full guide on how to install WordPress on Siteground – don’t be scared, it’s really not as complicated as it sounds. Like I say, Siteground are very helpful and will walk you through the process.

You’ll be asked to note down your username and password provided by Siteground for your WordPress install. Make a note of these details and so you’ll be able to access your new website backend via yourwebsite/wp-admin

Do you have a look in mind?

Once WordPress is installed, you need to choose a look. I imagine you may have heard of various themes you can purchase like ProPhoto and more. I would personally start off with something cheaper, ideally free as you’re starting out. I’m a recent convert to Divi by Elegant Themes and now design all client sites on this platform, as they’re a drag and drop builder making it easy to build in blocks and they have great customer support.

When you’re researching themes, be sure that the theme:

  • Is fully responsive (not just mobile friendly, actually look for the word ‘responsive’)
  • Has great reviews
  • Is updated regularly
  • Has a good support system
  • Has a clean design (you can add more in if you want to, but it can be harder to take away depending on the theme)
  • Has a flexible layout
  • Has great documentation (because, like Ikea, you may not read the instructions until you’ve tried it once or twice on your own but it’s really great to have them in any case because unlike Ikea they should be useful to you!)

My advice to you is, don’t get too hung up on this part. I know plenty of creatives get stuck on how the theme/template looks, but actually further down the line, when you book a Healthcheck with me then I may suggest you change the layout of the pages to convert your readers to customers better, and I want the best for you and what you do for your website.

Once you’ve bought the theme…

You can download your selected theme, it will be a zip file and you need to install the theme by doing this:

  • Log in WordPress admin.
  • Select the Appearance panel, then Themes.
  • Select Add New.
  • Find the theme that you downloaded just now
  • Use Upload link in the top links row to upload a zipped copy of the theme.

Next is to choose the pages you need on your website to support your clients to trust you and choose to book you – coming up next week!

For now, let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Maddy xo

P.S. Full disclosure – this post contains affiliate links so I get a little bit of moulah if you make a purchase. I do not, however, endorse products I do not use and trust completely.

Guest Blogging : What Is It And Why You Want To Do It

Is your business’s blog languishing in the corner, lost and forgotten, starting to gather dust? If so, don’t worry, because you’re not alone. You may be surprised how common it is!

I think if people knew the benefits that a good blog can bring to their business, there might be a lot more sparkly high-functioning blogs out there!

Blogs are important for attracting potential customers to your site. They can give visitors useful, enjoyable content on a regular basis. Blogs also provide a chance to use links that show Google and other search engines that your website is high-quality and meaningful. But have you considered that your blog could also be an awesome networking opportunity?

One such kind of networking is guest blogging.

Simply put, guest blogging is where two or more bloggers within the same or similar industry write blog posts for each other. This allows them to create useful links between their businesses and increase traffic to each other’s sites.

Have you considered guest blogging? Why not talk with some local businesses or other industry suppliers (only ones you’d want to be associated with!) and suggest guest blogging on each other’s websites?

Here are our five reasons why you should start guest blogging :

  1. It’s a fantastic way to increase your site’s organic search views and lead potential customers to your site..
  2. Strength in numbers is a real thing! Forming friendships (and partnerships) with other businesses in your niche will strengthen brand awareness and grow your following.
  3. Guest blogging generates interest and discussion in new ways for your business, and for your industry.
  4. It allows you to share your valuable knowledge with a wider audience of potential customers.
  5. Guest blogging creates valuable backlinks to your website which helps to increase your search rankings.

So what are you waiting for? Start guest blogging! Find out HOW in our super helpful (free) PDF guide How to Become a Guest Blogging Superstar.

How long should a blog post be: The inside scoop on how to blog

The first thing you should know is: There is no one size fits all answer to writing blog posts. Soz about that. But this is why you’ll find such different answers all over the web.

In my talks I give the advice that you should have at least 500 words as this provides enough content to be nice and juicy, usually supports the need of the reader (what query they have, and is it answered) and is pleasing enough for the reader to stick around and spend time on the page. Because 300 words is a bit short and doesn’t really provide anything more than the basics but search engines LOVE long content like 1500+ words BUT do your readers really want to read that much about whatever you’re writing about?

What I’d like to ask you to consider is – what is the goal of your blog post? Because I guarantee they won’t be the same each time.

Sometimes, they’ll be to push the sales of a particular product or service.
Sometimes it will be to increase the awareness of what you do.
Sometimes it will be to maximise on the PR around an event you were involved in (styled shoot, real wedding, pop up shop, party, etc etc)

How often should I blog?

You need to be blogging regularly. If you get a flurry of inspiration don’t be tempted to publish all at the same time, instead use the scheduling tool on your website . Whether it’s once/twice/three times a week or month, just do it regularly. Use the scheduler on your website platform to select a date and time to publish and use Facebook scheduler / Buffer to share your posts.

What should I blog about?

  • Sit yourself down and brainstorm the topics your clients ask about.
  • You should think about what you want to say and to whom you want to say it.
  • Look in your inbox, what are the most common questions? What questions are you always asked by your clients? What are you asked by fellow professionals and peers? Write about those topics first. (Like I wrote this one!)
  • Address a specific question and you’ll get the readers in.
  • Read wedding blogs designed for your audience. Check out Top 100 Wedding Blogs for inspiration.
  • Share other people’s blog content. Do not copy and paste their posts, but instead write a couple of paragraphs about the topic, then link to the blog post and email them with a compliment about how much you enjoyed their work.
  • Write about what projects you’re working on right now.
  • Always feature your real weddings if you’re a wedding pro.
  • Keep a Google Doc / Word doc of article ideas on your phone so you’re never stuck for an idea.

Make a plan for 2018

Next you need to organise what you want to share in your blog posts and rotate:

  • Tutorial posts or “How to” posts. (They build trust for the reader and they’re great for SEO)
  • Resource lists (list local services and be thorough with your information, contact the businesses and let them know you’ve linked to them, they might link back! Call the posts things like “Top Ten Wedding Venues in London”
  • Checklists (yes, they’re prolific, but oh boy are they wildly popular, don’t dismiss them as they’re also potentially viral on social media including Pinterest). Make sure the lists are informative to your reader and in line with your business values.
  • Infographics – this relates to being helpful to your couples. They’re also hugely popular on Pinterest. Use a free tool like
  • PiktoChart to convey some useful information. Search on Pinterest and see what’s already out there.
  • Guest posts on your blog – featuring guest posts from other professionals in your field is a great way to share audiences, and to associate yourself in a particular area so that readers know more about you. Reach out to other pros and ask them if they’d like to write for your blog. Writing a few short questions for them if they say yes will help inspire them to be specific.
  • Guest post on other blogs – Publishing on other people’s blogs earns you a new audience, boosts your traffic as the link on the new site will earn you a great backlink to your site.
  • Interviews – interview pros you admire in your field, perhaps get their take on the current trends in your area, interview yourself so potential clients can see what you’re all about! They want to get to know you before they trust you to book your services.
  • Sponsored posts – if you choose the right blog for you and your audience, then purchasing a sponsored blog post can give you great visibility that generates good quality leads.

Is there a particular way I should format a blog post?

Whilst there is no set way, there is a format that I would recommend

Consider your title:

Write your title with your keyword phrase, then a detail about the topic then couple’s name
E.g. London Wedding Photography – The Ritz Wedding – Harry and Sally
OR if it’s a tutorial post keep it simple:
E.g. How to learn origami in 5 easy steps
If you want to be more creative with your blog posts then use the keyword phrase first, then the funny title afterwards. It’ll help your ranking by using the keyword phrase whilst also appealing to your target audience.

Introduce that proves you identify and understand the problem you’re about to solve for the reader (they don’t know about the range of your photography skills, they don’t know how to put together a particular theme, they don’t know about the skills you have to offer, the list goes on)

Share your expertise by understanding the problem. Show off great examples that demonstrate your expertise (the best images from that wedding, or great photography for a DIY tutorial)

Conclude with a purpose and call to action (what do you want them to do next?)

So, there you have it, the inside scoop on how to blog and how long a blog post should be. BUT there is so much more you can do to create clever content that ranks on search engines AND gets you found by your target client, so we’ve created this FREE downloadable PDF for you to read through and put into action….‘cos we’re feeling generous – it’s Christmas after all!

With warm & Christmassy hugs
Maddy & Team Shine xo

16 Ways To Take Care of Yourself When You Work at a Computer

We know what it’s like at this time of year, the wedding season is over and you’re sitting for hours at your desk editing / admin-ning / working away on your business. Having a sore neck, back and shoulders (and everything else in between) doesn’t need to be a given when working from your computer. I know from experience on running a full-time online business that self care is important and gets pushed down the priority list *if only you could just send those final 10 emails already*. Phew.

I got the fabulous Team Shine together recently and we decided to share how we all take care of our minds and bodies when sitting at a computer for hours on end.

So here we are, we have 16 ways to take care of yourself when you work at a computer – there are quite a few reference links here for you to enjoy, and we promise, we’re not affiliates of any kind 😀

1. Get up and stretch regularly. Do you ever go into one of those work-time-warps and look up from your computer screen 5 hours later? Setting a timer in your calendar at hourly intervals can be a really great solution, even if that mini-break only means putting the kettle on, you’re still encouraging yourself to get up from the screen for a few moments, move around and think about something else.

2. Drink plenty of water. Now, I hate to admit it but common sense might be onto something here. We are made up of 70% water after all so it’s hard to expect our brains and bodies to be in tip-top shape if their constantly dehydrated! As a reminder to drink more (water… not gin) try having a big glass of water next to your desk when you sit down to work..

3. Drink herbal tea rather than caffeinated drinks. If you know me then you’ll know that I am a coffee and tea connoisseur, however the last 6 months I’ve been switching over to mainly decaf and I tell you, it really can make a huge difference to your concentration and energy levels. Many of the women on Team Shine also try to drink less caffeine and stick to herbal tea or decaf and have noticed it makes a difference too.

4. Starting off the day with a walk. I may be the least physically active person I know, so I try to start each work day by leaving the house and going for a stomp. I listen to a Spotify playlist called “Walking Like a Badass” which may amuse you. If you like rock music, you may enjoy it too, you can follow along here. Even if you walk around the block to get yourself a sneaky (decaf) latte, then you’re still ironing out some of those kinks before you sit down and get cracking (pun intended).

5. Writing an end of day review specifically for my work day. Call it an ‘end of day review’ or just a scribble in your diary, writing a few words about what you are grateful to yourself for today can be a really supportive practice. Here at Team Shine love to emphasise what we’re grateful for and have found it to be so supportive when it’s so easy to spend all our time dwelling on the negative / sh*t you didn’t get done that day!

6. Getting a screen that’s the right height for you. Do you find yourself slumping over or rounding your shoulders when you work? I had the worst posture but since I got a laptop stand to prop up my laptop it has stopped my neck being at such an awkward angle, highly recommend! I found it so supportive that now all of Team Shine have laptop stands for their work and we love using them achieve the correct height for our posture. It is affordable, portable, lightweight, easy to adjust, comes in multiple colours (including gold! If only they had a pink sequin one…

Here is a great (if not slightly grey, soz) image to show good posture at your desk:

Source: http://ergonomicsfix.com

7. Get a proper chair (your bed doesn’t count) We all know the temptation of not getting out of bed, propping up some pillows and working in your PJ’s but it really is the worst thing to do for your posture. Here on Team Shine we are big fans of this Ikea chair as it was voted within the top 9 ergonomic office chairs in April 2017 and really doesn’t break the bank.

8. Using an alternative/body-friendly desk and chair
There are so many different ways that you can work, and often it can be nice to be able to switch things around to give your body a break from one position. At Team Shine you can find us working at standing desks or sit down desks, alternating chairs, sitting on a meditation cushion and a low table or even the occasional yoga ball! It’s all about switching things up so that your muscles don’t get worked too hard in one position.

9. Your hands need looking after too. Whereas some people might be terrified of clowns and buttons (seriously, look it up, it’s a thing!), I’m terrified of carpal tunnel and RSI (repetitive strain injuries). Investing in a cool ergonomic mouse, for example this one named the ‘Penguin‘ is a perfect way to support our wrists. This is also a great website for ergonomic keyboards and other desk supports. Some of us love our gel cushion wrist rest (increase ergonomics of the keyboard), but a rolled up tea towel can work, too.

10. Not forgetting our favourite wobble cushion here
Now it may look like I’m recommending some kind of torture device to you, but I swear this is the real deal, I mean look, they come in hot pink! My spiky cushion supports my posture and eases back pain as I’m working and it’s way more comfortable then it looks, I swear. I’d really recommend you give this a try throughout your work day, even if it’s just for a few minutes here or there.

11. Listening to ambient music whilst you work.
Depending on the work, I like to listen to meditation talks or classical film soundtracks on Spotify, it really helps and is totally worth the few minutes you might ‘waste’ Googling the film trivia. I love music – it sets the tone and really makes work so much more fun, it’s quite often Rihanna or best of musicals playlist (esp Les Mis!) or lately I’ve been really into Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full of Lead. Here’s to dance parties with yourself on one of your tea breaks, it’s only going to get your body moving, what’s not to love?!

12. Take care of your feet/knees/hips and heating! I don’t have an adjustable office chair, so will often put a rolled up blanket under my feet to keep good hip/knee/foot alignment and I love to have a hot water bottle in the mix when it is even a touch chilly. It’s good to just scan your body from time to time, see which area might need a little help and make adjustments accordingly, it really is the ultimate in self-care.

13. Remember to streeeeetch. Going back to our suggestion earlier of taking short timed breaks, here is a program that you can use on your computer that will remind you to take a 1min break with stretches and movements – exercise videos included – it’s very funny, and you can set the timing to suit your needs which is really helpful!

14. Go outside for a few minutes. If you’re feeling like you need a breath, just do it! Go outside or open your windows and get some fresh air in your lungs. When anxiety, stress or tension comes up this can be a really great way to just refresh. We love to do this at Team Shine, especially when it feels like you really really need to hurry and get something done, these can be the best times just to take a moment, and breath.

15. Look outside the window. I have my table positioned so that I can look out the window whenever I can, this helps to relax the eye, as by gazing into the sky you will relax the muscles that continue to strain while looking at the screen. Being a global team that loves to travel, there are always different seasons and different countries to look around at whilst we’re working!

16. Go chat with someone in real life. I find that the best breaks – along with the dancing – can be catchups with friends. Real life connections really do bring fresh air into the brain and sometimes even new ideas and solutions! It can be easy for us all to feel like there is always too much to do, but prioritising socialising with dear friends is always a good plan – just don’t drink too much or you’ll have a killer hangover and that’s never fun when you’ve got to work! (Ahem.)

I know as much as anyone how much our work days can feel like a complete time-crunch, however, it really does pay off to take a few moments throughout our day to just relax and prioritise our mental and physical health as well!

Do you have tips you’d add to the mix?

Maddy & Team Shine xo

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