In 2015, I started using Solo Build It! for WordPress (SBI! for WP) to create my fashion blog, newinspired.com.
However, there were a few steps that I wasn’t prepared for…
Hosting and Domain Name Registration
Domain name registration and finding hosting were the most challenging parts of using Solo Build It! for WordPress.
I wish I could say that I did this by myself, but I had to ask someone (my sister) for help.
We registered my domain name with GoDaddy, then hosted the site on Pair — the same hosting service that my sister uses for her other active sites.
Even now, setting up emails to go to my Apple Mail confuses me to no end.
Making my site secure and enabling an SSL certificate was super easy though. I literally had to click one button and it was done.
Per year, renewing the newinspired.com domain name costs $10 USD, while hosting costs $21.53 USD.
Finding and evaluating a WordPress theme that I liked was fun, but took a while.
I made sure to follow the SBI! for WP advice and primarily looked for themes on legitimate sites.
I ended up purchasing a full license for a “Foodie Theme Pro” from StudioPress for $129.95.
Before I found that theme, I had gone through a ton of others on StudioPress and ElegantThemes.
A lot of WordPress theme sellers are safe and legitimate, and will give you your money back if it turns out that the theme is not for you. Make sure to read if the seller has a money-back guarantee or not though!
And make sure to follow the Solo Build It! for WP Action Guide’s advice on where to find themes.
After I installed my theme, I customized it…
Simply decide how many columns you want your site to be, then upload your header image. The colors, typeface, and typeface size throughout your site can all be customized.
Similar to having fun with picking out my WordPress theme, I had a lot of fun finding plugins.
Sometimes plugins can work against each other, but we’ll get to that in my #2 favorite plugin.
My top plugins?
1. “Sticky Nav”
My theme does have a navigation bar on the top… but, I wanted the navigation menu to stay in place when my readers scroll through the page. So I simply downloaded a plugin to make this possible.
2. “Instagram Feed Pro”
I don’t do a lot of social media for newinspired. One platform I do use is Instagram. To be honest, this plugin has been tough to figure out and properly implement. Some WordPress plugins have excellent support, and lucky for me, Instagram Feed Pro is one of them.
It still doesn’t work exactly how I want it to, but I’d need to change my Mediavine settings (Mediavine has a convenient plugin for WordPress) in order to make my Instagram feed display at the bottom of every page (I think, at least). To be honest, I’d rather have the passive income from Mediavine than the Instagram feed on all my pages.
You can use WordPress’s built-in comment system for allowing comments on your site, or a variety of other plugins (like Facebook comments). I felt that Disqus (pronounced “discuss”) was the best option for my site’s commenting system though.
I didn’t want to limit people’s ability to comment on the articles (by making them log into Facebook to comment). Plus, a lot of other sites in the fashion niche use Disqus.
This way, my readers may already have a Disqus account. If they don’t, they can easily comment as a guest. I can also modify the commenting settings so that I can approve comments before they’re published.
Pages vs. Posts
When it comes to organizing your website architecture on WordPress, you can decide if you want to publish your content as pages or posts.
In the beginning, I published as “posts.”
… But then I realized that I wanted my blog to feel less like a blog and more like a traditional, evergreen website — even if I still refer to newinspired as a “blog.” It’s really just all semantics!
So, going forward, all my writing is published as “pages.”
Google ranks “pages” and “posts” the same way. There’s no discrepancy between the two.
However, when people are on your website, they won’t see the date the “page” was published, but they will see the date written if it’s a “post.”
Google shows what date your “page” or “post” was published.
… but, you can always update the page (or post) and change the date at the same time.
Categories and Tags
WordPress allows you to create categories and tags, so that you can group all relevant “posts” together and organize your blog better.
However, you can’t add a category or tag to a “page.”
How did I get around that?
By installing a plugin, “Add Categories to Pages.”
This was important because I want my pages to be categorized.
This way, when I write a new review about something like a cashmere sweater, it can live under a specific “slug” of newinspired.com/reviews/ and newinspired.com/cashmere-challenge/.
I can share these links to folks who want to read more reviews or more about all the cashmere sweaters on my blog.
Pros and Cons of Using WordPress and SBI! for WP
From my experience, these are some pros and cons of using Solo Build It! for WordPress versus the all-in-one version of Solo Build It!.
This is the ultimate downside to choosing SBI! for WP over Solo Build It!. While Solo Build It! includes hosting and domain name registration, you have to figure out these things yourself when you build your blog with WordPress.
Sites hosted with Solo Build It! are super secure. WordPress sites not so much, as I’ve learned the hard way.
In 2018, my site was hacked. The hacker replaced every single page with phony pharmaceutical ads. My Google rankings for every single page were gone.
With the help of Solo Build It!’s WordPress guru, we were able to beef up my security, reinforce my site and get my pages re-listed in Google.
Right now, I’m struggling with sending emails from my newinspired email address in Apple Mail. It likely will never be resolved, because I just can’t figure out how to fix it. If I were using Solo Build It!, I’d have access to their support team for problems like this. Or I could use SBI!’s built-in Webmail.
Similarly, you might run into issues with your plugins that will make you feel like they’ll never be fixed (like my Instagram feed not showing at the bottom of every page).
Brainstorm It! and the Action Guide
Brainstorm It! (a keyword research and evaluation tool) and the Action Guide are two of the key online business success factors for Solo Build It! members.
They’re also included in Solo Build It! for WordPress… along with the forums and a ton of other resources, of course!
Any plugin is available in WordPress. It also can push your site to the next level. Installing services like Mediavine (for ad revenue) or Sumo (for newsletter subscriptions) is so easy… and really makes a difference to your bottom line.
And if you want to add a store to your site, you can choose from many excellent WordPress ecommerce plugins.
With unlimited themes and plugins, your site can be 100% customized. To go the extra step, I downloaded a free Google Fonts plugin to let me play with more fonts.
General Work Environment
With WordPress you can make any changes you want on the go. You don’t have to overthink how many columns your site is or where the search bar is. These changes are simple to make and you can easily do it yourself.
Basically, the ability to change the format of your website is so simple and simple enough to figure out.
How Much Does It Cost to Start Your Blog With SBI! for WP?
To give you an idea how much money you may need to invest in your first year, here’s an example of my expenses.
Domain Name: $10 per year
Hosting: $21.95 per year
Domain name and hosting are, obviously, the most important parts of having a WordPress blog. I’m on a legacy plan for hosting, so the price is significantly reduced. Most hosting plans start at $5.99/month.
Theme: $129.95 (one time cost)
The theme is a fixed cost. Once you install your theme, you’re set and don’t need to think of buying a new one for a while. If you want to update your look and feel later on, it’ll cost you again though.
Sumo: $276 per year
Growing an email list is something I’ve done from the beginning. I use Sumo to collect email addresses via a pop-up on my site. The price I pay for Sumo is their legacy price, because I joined prior to their price hikes.
Now Sumo costs $468 a year. There may be a less expensive “join my newsletter” popup maker, but I’ve yet to find it.
Instagram Feed Pro: $48 per year
A plugin to display my Instagram feed in my footer.
Photoshop: $251.88 (or $20.99/month)
newinspired is image heavy. I like having my images in specific formats so that they all look (mostly) uniform… this means that I use Adobe Photoshop to edit them the same way.
SBI! for WP subscription: $149 per year
With the current introductory price it’s only $99 for your first year or $9.99 per month if you choose the monthly subscription.
So my total cost for the first year of blogging was $886.78. This includes some optional expenses that you may not need, like Photoshop or Sumo.
I am six years into creating my blog and still use my SBI! for WP subscription. Even if you’ve read the Action Guide already, it’s useful to go back every now and again and refresh your memory. Plus, it gets updated regularly, as things change quite often in the online business world.
Access to the comprehensive collection of articles is also helpful. I’m still discovering new tips and strategies that help me grow my online business.
And the help and community in the forums are priceless, whether you’re a beginner or an old-timer!
Is Solo Build It! for WordPress Right for You?
Admittedly, WordPress is a lot to take on in the beginning.
Only you can decide if your business will benefit from the variety of features that WordPress has (like the range of plugins), or if Solo Build It!’s all-in-one package is the better fit for you.
Because you get the Action Guide and access to the forums (there’s even a WordPress-specific sub-forum), SBI! for WP makes it definitely easier to build an income-generating website or blog than starting with WordPress on your own.