Blogging is a lot of work. Starting a blog is even more work. It can be overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. You may feel like you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into and wondering if you took on more than you can handle. When I attended Blend last month, several bloggers were asking questions about setting up their blogs. It made me remember how when I started Skinny Fitalicious, I wished there had been a checklist I could’ve followed to setup everything before hitting publish. Well here it is! Your checklist to start a blog.
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Find a website name you want & that’s available
The last thing you want is a blog website that doesn’t match the name of the bran. That would be like having a website called Target, but typing in Walmart to get there. Readers associate a website name with what they type in to get there. Research available domains here. Your domain research should also include social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest & Google+. You want them to be similar, if not the same. It’s easier for
Buy and register your domain
You can register your domain through different hosts. You can find several by doing a simple Google search. Bluehost and GoDaddy are the two I recommend. I highly recommend when you buy your domain, you go self hosted.
Create social media accounts
Do this as soon as you purchase your domain otherwise they may become unavailable.
Setup your email
Create a unique email using your blog name for readers, brands and PR people to contact you. You want to keep it consistent with your blog name and separate from your personal email account.
Install a theme & customize it
Browse available themes and find something with a simple layout and preferably a white background. It’s been proven readers prefer white to other backgrounds. Add your pages and menus.
Connect social media accounts
You can easily connect your social media accounts to your blog. It will help you initially share your content you publish until you graduate to more advance apps that help with this.
When you create a blog post, you want the website of that post to contain the title of your post. Most blogging platforms have permalinks defaulted to something generic. Without permalinks set to “blog posts,” your post’s address will be www.xxx.page1.com. Page1 isn’t descriptive enough for search engines to find your content. Set your permalinks to “blog posts” so it will shows as www.xxx.posttitle.com. It will keep your content searchable and evergreen.
Create a logo
You can use PicMonkey to create a simple logo for your blog header. You should also create a logo for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest while you’re doing the one for your blog. They should be consistent. If you’re not creative, you can always pay someone to do this too.
Write your about page
This is the most important page on your blog. Think of your about page as your blog resume. Tell your readers about yourself, why you blog and what you value. Remember to update your about page regularly. Then add a headshot of yourself to your home page with a sentence or two snippet about yourself to greet new readers that stop by.
Hellobar allows readers to sign up easily for your mailing list. Even if you’re not planning to sent emails to your readers, you want to have this from the start. When your readers sign up, they will get an email when a new post is published.
Create a mailing list
I use MailChimp and as of now mine only sends RSS updates. If you only send RSS, consider installing Send Images to RSS.
Make your site mobile friendly
As of this year, Google changed it’s policy forcing anyone with a website to ensure their site was compatible with mobile devices. You are now penalized if your site isn’t mobile friendly which means less chance for your site showing up in a search engine. WP Touch is an easy plugin to make your site comply. You can verify your site’s compliance here.
Installing a few simple plugins from the beginning will save you a lot of time and annoyance down the road. There are tons of plugins available & maybe one day I’ll write a post about my favorite ones. Not to overload you right now, I recommend these to get you started.
- Akismet to detect & file away spam comments
- Imsanity so you don’t overload your website with large images
- CommentLuv reward your readers by automatically generating a link to their latest blog post
- PinIt is button your readers can use to pin your images
- Related Posts this will automatically share previous content related to your blog post
Setup your site backup
This is something often overlooked until your site goes down and you have nothing. Your site can easily go down with one buggy plugin. This happened to me last week. You can use the standard WP backup, but honestly if you’re not code savvy then you will have no clue what to do when things go wrong. Thankfully I subscribed to VaultPress. It’s a subscription backup service for WP blogs. They had my site me up and running in 30 minutes and without losing anything. The customer service was stellar. Well worth the investment! And I gained a new reader! After my site was up, she cruised my recipes and emailed them to friends.
Register your blog
You can and should register your blog when you start. It will increase its chances of being included in search engines. There are a zillion different sites you can register your blog. I recommend these: Google, Bloglovin, Healthy Living Blogs, Blog Catalog, On Top List
Setup Google Analytics
Don’t question it, just do it. Create a google analytics account and link it to your blog immediately. This one of my biggest lessons from when I started my blog and I still pay for it to this day. Steal Blog Genie’s GA dashboard. It has everything you need at a glance and it’s really easy to install.
Install SEO by Yoast
This plugin will help you with SEO. It enables directly in your post so you change things while you’re drafting and before you hit publish. I’m still trying to learn SEO and clean up old posts. Doing this from the beginning, will make your life a lot easier down the road.
You may not be thinking about making money when you start your blog and that’s ok. One thing I wish I had done when I started mine was install ads. You can cover the basic expenses of starting and maintaining a blog with just a few simple ads. I found Google Ads were the easiest to setup when I first started. Later you can setup more. Some of my favorites are Amazon, Sovrn, Swoop and BlogHer.
More Blogging Resources
When are you starting your blog? If you’re a blogger, what are your tips?
Lots of Health, Food & Love,
Linking up today with Amanada @ Running with Spoons