Blogging can be a fun and exciting, but getting it setup can be a daunting task. For those of you who aren’t sure where to start, I’ve put together these 12 steps to take your new blog from idea to reality.
This article is a continuation of my 12-step starter program. To start at the beginning, check out Starting a Blog, Part 1.
#7: Update your settings
It’s a good idea to take a few minutes to go through the Settings section of your WordPress Dashboard upfront. This will familiarize you with the options available and make sure that you have these options set the way you want them from the start.
Here are a few settings you’ll want to pay special attention to:
- Site Title (in Settings > General) – This should be the title of your blog and with most screens will display at the top left of your website.
- Tagline (in Settings > General) – Your tagline is used to give a quick description of your blog. It should be short yet descriptive. It typically displays beneath your site title.
- Email Address (in Settings > General) – Any notifications of comments or new users are sent to this address. Make sure this is set to an email address that you check frequently.
- The entire Discussion section (in Settings > Discussion) – Read through each of these options and decide how you’d like to handle comments on your blog. Comments are good – they let your readers connect with you and create wonderful online dialogue. Just make sure you’re comfortable with what is posted on your website.
- Permalink (in Settings > Permalinks) – Out of the box, WordPress gives you an ugly, non-SEO friendly link structure (like myblogsite.com/?p=123). Use the Custom Structure option and update it to use either /category/postname/ or /postname/ for the best SEO. (Plug /%category%/%postname%/ or /%postname%/ into the custom structure box.)
#8: Install plugins
Plugins are a great way to give your blog advanced features with no coding skills whatsoever. Want to add social sharing buttons to your blog? Add a contact form so your readers can reach out to you? Add a great image slideshow to one of your posts? Install a plugin! There are literally thousands of plugins available, and you can find, install and activate your favorites using the Plugins section of your WordPress dashboard.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few free baseline plugins I recommend.
- Jetpack by WordPress.com – This plugin is one of my favorites because it gives you over 30 features in one plugin. Features include social sharing buttons, contact forms, enable reader subscriptions and more. Visit jetpack.me for a full list of features.
- All In One SEO Pack – This is one of the most popular WordPress plugins available, and I can see why. This plugin automatically takes care of the SEO basics for your blog; all you have to do is activate it. For those who want to get their hands dirty, All In One SEO Pack allows you to fully optimize your SEO. It also gives you easy Google Analytics integration, which is a must for tracking your blog’s traffic statistics.
- Akismet – Akismet protects your blog’s commenting system from spam by automatically filtering all submitted comments and allowing you to review the questionable ones before they are posted. This plugin comes pre-installed with WordPress but does have to be activated. While this plugin is also free for personal sites, donations are encouraged and appreciated.
#9: Install Google Analytics (or other tracking mechanism)
Measuring your marketing efforts to understand your return on investment is key, and your blogging efforts are no exception. Setup Google Analytics on your WordPress website to track your site visits, average time on site, traffic sources and more.
If you installed the All In One SEO Pack plugin mentioned above, setup is easy.
- Go to this plugin’s General Settings and find the ‘Connect With Google Analytics” button.
- Sign into the Google account you’d like to use to access Google Analytics
- Follow the instructions on the screen.
Once you’re setup, you can visit googe.com/analytics to monitor your site traffic statistics.
#10: Make a list of potential posts
It’s so much easier to figure out what your next blog post is going to be if you have a list of topics to pick from. Make a list of at least 10-20 potential blog posts to get started. Keep your list in a place that’s easy for you to get to so you can add to it whenever your next great blog post idea strikes. (I use Evernote to keep my list on my iPhone, iPad, work and home computers so I can get to it whenever I need it.)
#11: Start writing posts and build up your site content
Now to the part that is going to take a commitment: writing your blog posts. You already have a list of potential posts so work from that.
#12: Start promoting
Once you’ve been blogging for a couple months and have built up a decent library of content (at least 20-30 posts if not more), it’s time to let people know it exists. Great SEO takes time to build up, so in the meantime you won’t get readers if you don’t let people know about it. Create a promotion strategy that includes social media sharing and stick to it with each post you do. Make sure you have a social sharing option on your post pages so readers can easily share your content, too. You’ll also want to link to your blog in your social media profiles and on your website.
While this is certainly not an extensive list of everything you should do to setup your blog, it’s a basic overview of the essentials to get you started with your newfound passion for blogging.