Ever since I wrote this post on reasons to use Weebly, I've wanted to create an in-depth guide to setting up a blog or website, with tips for using the Weebly creation tools.
Basically, this is the all the stuff I wish I had been able to find in ONE place when I started this website.
If you are looking to start a blog this year, this guide will get you from sign-up to published Weebly site in just a few easy steps. I also give a brief tour of some of the basic features to help get you started (including all the hidden SEO options!)
Ready? You could be a website owner in less than hour! Let's get started:
1. Sign Up for a Free Weebly Account
Before you build your website or blog with Weebly, you will have to open an account. This is completely free. When you land on the home page, just click sign up and fill out the form below.
Next you will be prompted to choose whether you want to set up an online store or not. Go ahead and choose the "not now" option.
You can do this at anytime so you won't be missing a special opportunity.
2. Choose Your Website Theme
There are several free themes to choose from, and they have them organized by best use. (Some themes can be found in more than one category.)
It doesn't actually matter if you choose a one category over another. Any theme can have pages added or deleted to customize it to your needs. So just pick the theme that you like best.
You can change theme at any time, but if you want to try out some of the others, I recommend doing so while you just have your skeleton pages set up.
Some themes can change the look of your site dramatically, (usually header images) and it's a lot of work to readjust a large number of pages and images.
3. A Brief Tour of Weebly Website Features and Tools
General Settings: Naming Your Website
Once your theme is in place, you probably want to give your website a cool name. (If not, it stays titled as the name of the theme).
To do this, click "settings" at the top of your page.
It will take you right to "general settings" and show you a box where you can change the site name.
On the same page you can:
- Change the time/date for mat
- Choose your site category (business, blog, etc.) for SEO
- Upload a custom favicon
On the left sidebar, you will see a category marked SEO:
- Your site description
- Meta keywords
It also has the place for your header and footer codes. You will need those if you want to add Google Analytics, newsletter forms, and share buttons.
At the bottom of the left hand menu is an option marked "blog". This is where you can customize your blog page by:
- Setting the number of posts per page
- Setting up your comments section
- Turning the sidebar off and on
If you turn the sidebar on, it will only appear to the right. There is no option to place it to the left that I know of.
Note too, there is a place to set a post header and footer code. You can copy and paste coding here for newsletter forms, ads, affiliate banners, etc.
Setting Up Pages on Weebly
Which pages you will ultimately choose depend entirely on your needs or vision for your website and blog.
From the pages screen, you can add, delete or change the name of an existing page:
To add a page, click the plus sign. It will prompt you to choose a page type. You can go ahead and customize this right now with the pages you know you want to have.
When you create a new page, you have the option to change the header style, the privacy settings, and the SEO.
When you open the SEO option, you will see lots of places to fill in all that good stuff that search engines love:
- Page title
- Page description
- Meta keywords
- Header and footer codes
I ignored most of this stuff for way too long. Once I got around to filling it in I noticed an almost immediate boost in search traffic from different search engines.
So definitely take advantage of all the SEO options Weebly offers.
On your pages list, all pages (static, blog, store) can be rearranged by dragging and dropping them in your preferred order. They will appear this way in your navigation menu, and extra pages can be nested.
You can do this by dragging them under and slightly to the right of another page. If you have numerous topics, nesting the pages keeps everything organized and your menu clean.
Customizing Your Fonts
This is also where you will find the option to make changes to your coding. We will look at that in a minute. First, check out all the options for changing your titles and text sizes:
If you are new to designing a blog please remember that dark text on a light background is easier for your readers. Also, font size is important.
Text that is too small is very hard to read, especially on small mobile devices.
It is very tempting to go crazy with different font styles, sizes and colors. For the comfort of your readers though, it's best to stick with a consistent style.
In order to really see how your choices look, you can make a test blog post. Let's look at how to build a blog post, then I will show you how to publish and upgrade your Weebly site if you want more options.
By clicking the "edit html/css" option on your theme page, you are given access to the coding for your website.
If you don't know anything about coding, then I don't recommend you play around over here.
Last year I was able to tweak and headed the coding to make my site a little less "generic", but the newer templates are a bit harder, and older tips found online don't always work anymore.
If you have a coding question, I suggest visiting the Weebly community boards and asking. They are super friendly and helpful.
You could also find a great coding pro on Fiverr to do it for you for a reasonable price. Otherwise, it's probably best to leave the coding alone for the time being, and focus on building your content.
3. How to Build a Blog Post With the Weebly Editor
The Weebly editor is 100% drag and drop. This gives you a lot of flexibility when you create your post styles.
This is the basic structure I use for a blog post.
TIP: If you want to save some time, once a week set aside an hour or so and build a few blank posts with all of your elements in place. Save them as drafts and you can simply fill them out when you are ready to publish a post.
When I build a post (or a "template" draft), I start with basic elements. I know I will want a header image, an opening paragraph of text, a "read more" break, and the main body.
You can type your main body into one text module, but breaking it up into several allows you to insert other modules in between, like in this post where I added images between all the text.
First, hit the blue button at the bottom for "new post".
Once your post is open, give it a title, and start draggin' and droppin'!
Then add your other elements below in order. Hint: they will be in the right place when the blue line lights up, as in the image above.
You can also place modules side by side. This looks very cool and magazine-like on static pages but doesn't work well on mobile view, where the different boxes may be pushed out of alignment.
To make my images, I use my own or public domain stock images (I recommend Pixabay). I then edit them in PicMonkey photo editor to overlay colors, shapes and texts.
PicMonkey basic is free to use and if you want to upgrade to the Royal version, it only costs about $33 per year (and you can access tons of fonts, overlays and special effects.)
For a test post (make sure you filled in some titles and text to test your font settings), you can go ahead and hit that orange button up there that says "post".
If this is a real blog post, then you first want to go to the blue button on your left that says "post options". When that menu slides up, click "advanced".
This opens up even more scrumptious SEO opportunities for you. Your post description is what shows up under your page title on search engine pages.
No matter what, you definitely want to fill that out each time you publish a post!
Building a standard (static) page and a blog post are pretty similar, so I won't repeat the instructions here.
When you do any page, including the home page template that comes with your theme, you can move modules anywhere you like, rewrite the text, customize buttons, use spacers to divide all of your elements, and more.
Once you are done with your with your post, click the orange button. You will see this message.
When you click the "X" to close that dialog box, you will have two buttons in the upper right hand corner. Click the blue one to "publish". (until you do, your post is not live).
Since you haven't yet set up your Weebly domain, you will be prompted to do so after clicking publish.
4. Publishing Your Weebly Website
Now it is time to make this baby official.
You have to decide now whether you want to use the free version or upgrade to a paid version.
Weebly has five different levels you can choose from, and all are priced reasonably for the features you get.
I recommend the Starter and Pro versions if you are just beginning because they have bonus features that will really help you build your blog or website into a business.
All paid versions come with hosting and a free domain name (for one year) included in the package. No need to shop around! You also get your store pages, so you can test out your ecommerce dreams without having to sign up for any external sites.
If you have an Etsy shop, you can even set your Weebly store to show your Etsy items right on your website.
Before you decide, check out the comparison chart for all the Weebly plans.
When you click "upgrade" or fill in the prompt after publishing a post, you will see this page:
Since I don't need another website at the moment (and my husband would probably kill me if I bought another domain :D ) I will just tell you that it takes about 5 minutes to set up from here:
- Click the plan you want.
- Fill in your info to the right.
- Click the "buy now" button.
Congratulations! You have a website, a domain, a host, and an ecommerce store all in one place!
Set Up a Weebly Website Less Than an Hour
I know this post is long, because I wanted to help you feel familiar with the Weebly editor, since it does feel a lot different than other platforms.
However it only takes a few minutes and steps to set up a basic Weebly website!
To sum it up:
- Sign up for Weebly
- Choose a theme
- Go to settings and name your website
- Click "upgrade" or "publish"
- Choose a plan
- Fill in your information
- Click the buy button
Before I go, I want to be totally transparent. I will not claim that you can "set up a money making blog in less than an hour". Yes, you can set up the basic website/blog like I have shown you here.
However, you will still work for several days (or weeks, or months!) customizing your images, writing your content, filling out your sidebars, etc.
Also, earning an income from blogging doesn't happen in less than an hour. You will have to build a social following, market yourself, get approved for ads and affiliates, or even create your own products to sell.
I will say that in less than an hour, you can have your own website, and be well on your way to growing your business. The first step is the biggest, and if you can do that, then I totally believe in your ability to succeed, no matter which platform you choose!