Alright, alright, alright, future bloggers to be! You're just gonna love this one. Considering how many people have been asking me to write this article in the last couple of months, I feel confident to say that. So, the ultimate checklist for starting a blog is finally ready!
Now, let me prepare you before we start:
My checklist is a bit different than what you probably already read online.
Meaning, I won't just feed you the bullet points of the steps you'll need to take.
Subsequently, make some room in your day, would you? Because 2,500 words are coming your way!
This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure here.
Honestly, I shouldn't even have to bother with that question.
But to make sure that all the basics are covered, I'll answer it anyway.
For starters, if you're a complete newbie on the blogging scene and you're about to start your very first website, you'll need help and guidance to do it the right way.
Above all, it's always a smart decision to borrow the wisdom and experience of the people who already walked that path.
This way, you'll be able to skip most of the mistakes almost every person makes in the first months of blogging.
Most importantly, though, to turn your site into a thriving business online, you gotta make sure that you're building it on a solid foundation.
Quite frankly, no two websites are exactly the same.
Be that as it may, there are certain steps that 99% of the bloggers take before, during, and after their site have been built.
In other words, no matter if your blog is going to be about personal development like Ivan's website here or about travel like the one of my friend Stefania here, the building process is more or less the same.
And to make this article as easy to digest as possible, I'll break down all the info into a few separate categories.
Generally, when you get the blogging bug, you shouldn't rush yourself to take action.
Meaning, once you decide on a blogging topic, the worst thing you can do is to buy your domain name the very same day.
Instead, how about you wait for a minute?
There are a couple of things to consider first!
Ultimately, ask yourself why you have the desire to start a blog.
Do you need a place to just share your thoughts and opinion with the world? Or maybe you're determined to build a powerful money-making machine that will allow you to stay and work from home?
Strangely enough, too many people skip this step. And you don't want to do that. Can't see a single reason why?
For example, if you want to have a hobby blog, then a free blogging platform will be fine to use.
On the contrary, if monetization is your number 1 concern, then you'll have to go with WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com.
Related: WordPress.com or WordPress.org
To clarify, a niche is a small segment of the market that your website's main topic will be focused on.
Now, this decision is very important. Especially, considering some niches are more profitable than others.
So, to make sure that your future content will bring you sales, you most definitely have to do some research first.
Let's say you want to start a gardening website. The best thing you can do is to go online and explore what the biggest blogs in this field are doing.
Are there ads on their pages? Do their posts have thousands of shares on Social Media? Or do the owners sell their own products?
Once you do the research, you'll have a much better idea about what to expect from your own blog.
As your website grows, your strategies will change over time. The online market is evolving constantly and you have to adjust your work accordingly.
However, when you start with clear goals in mind, it will help you to stay focused and organized.
Meanwhile, try not to go too overboard with the end game you have in mind.
Chances are, you won't be able to gain 10,000 email subscribers in your first year of blogging!
So far, you've done the research and you've decided on a niche.
What happens next? How do you move forward with your business?
Actually, here is where the fun part begins!
A note on your domain name:
Basically, think of one or two words that will best describe your business and could turn into a kick-ass brand.
According to this article, there are far more advantages to have a short domain name than a longer one. You may want to keep that in mind!
If you want my opinion, you should purchase a domain on .com.
Related: Web Hosting Services Reviews
Not that you own a brand, you want to have an email that reflects that brand.
Nowadays, most of the hosting services will offer you the chance to set up a domain email address for free.
Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? You can't expect to manage your email campaigns from your personal email, can you?
Call me crazy, but after I lost a few months trying to make the best of my free theme at the time, now I'm a firm believer that you should go for a Premium Theme from day one.
I mean, you're building a business, aren't you? Currently, time is your most precious asset.
Then why should you waste it (just like I did!) on a theme that could never deliver for your business on all fronts?
This website is powered by Rise Theme from Thrive Themes.
Related: Thrive Membership Review
But if building your email list fast is not your number 1 goal (Thrive specialize in that), then I believe that Elegant Themes won't disappoint you.
Now, what I mean by that is to simply get rid of the unnecessary stuff and take care of a few small things:
For instance, here is what you can do first:
a) Delete the dummy content - "Hello, world" and "Just another WordPress Website";
b) Make sure your theme's font size is large enough (at least 16px) and easy to read. If not, you can always set up a different one;
c) Set "Post Name" as a default of your permalink structure. Attention, pals - don't skip this step. As a rule of thumb, your permalinks will affect your SEO, so make sure that they will show your post name instead of random symbols.
Actually, this is optional. Your website is not going to fail if you don't have a tagline.
However, having one will help your visitors to understand what your blog is about in a matter of seconds.
Even more, a tagline is a nice way to present your message in just a couple of words.
Firstly, you need to be aware of the fact that too many plugins will slow down your site.
Then again, you can't really do your job properly without at least a few of them.
Likewise, here are the ones you absolutely can't go without:
a) Yoast SEO - for optimizing your content. In my opinion, the free version does good enough job, so you don't have to get the paid one straight away.
b) Social Sharing Plugin - you have a lot of choices. Personally, I'm using Social Warfare Pro ($29/year), it's priceless for driving traffic from Pinterest.
c) Plugin for Google Analytics - considering Google Analytics and Google Search Console are a MUST to study your website's data, you'll need a plugin to help you install the tracking code. Actually, you can do this manually, but if you're not comfortable messing with your site's Editor, it's better to get a plugin. Again, plenty of choices here, I'm having the free version of Monster Insights.
d) Cloaking plugin - when you start to add affiliate links within your content, you'll need a plugin to make those links pretty. And to not let Google see a naked affiliate link coming from your blog.
The one I use and recommend is Thirsty Affiliates.
Basically, there are particular pages that you'll find on almost every website.
Make no mistake, you'll need to have them too!
a) Contact (guilty, haven't added mine yet!) and About page - to give your visitors the chance to get to know you and to get in touch with you.
Being transparent about who you are will build trust with your audience. Even more, it's a common knowledge that people don't buy products or services from individuals they don't trust!
Likewise, every time you add affiliate links within your post, you need to disclose them at the beginning.
Related: How To Become a Super Affiliate
Finally, you're ready to begin creating your awesome content!
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In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that your hard work is about to begin.
Because there is just so much to do and not enough time in the world!
Now, to make the process as easier as possible, here are some blogging tasks that you may want to complete in your first month:
I know, this may look like something you can always do a bit later.
Personally, I believe that it's important to have a logo from the start.
When you add a logo, people will start to recognize your brand sooner rather than later.
And if you can't afford a graphic designer, there are many websites online that will allow you to create one for free.
So, you have a business and now you need to promote it.
What better way to start than on Social Media?
To be honest, I believe that you shouldn't spend all your time on every social network there is.
Of course, your website can have profiles on all of them, but it's better to focus your efforts on one or two as a source of traffic.
Quite frankly, I can't stress enough how important is to focus on your email list from day one.
But what you could possibly offer when you barely have any content?
For starters, you can ask your audience to join your newsletter. Certainly, that's not a perfect solution, but it's better than nothing.
As your content begins to pile up, you can change your forms and start to offer freebies. Trust me, those ones will convert much better!
Now, you can sign up with a free email service like Mailchimp to handle your email subscribers. Once your business takes off, you'll be able to secure a paid service that offers much more like Convertkit, it's what I'm using currently.
Certainly, this checklist for starting a blog could never be complete until I mention the power of the landing pages.
Once your site begins to gain traffic, you will need to create a high-converting, professional looking landing page.
Ultimately, when you focus your marketing efforts on the most valuable product you're promoting, you have to lead your readers to a page that's specifically dedicated to that product.
Personally, I only trust Thrive Landing Pages for that task and I can't recommend them enough!
By all means, one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website is to comment on other sites.
Related: How To Increase Your Blog Traffic
If you create an account on Gravatar first, your photo will appear every time you leave a comment.
Besides, people will feel more comfortable to visit your site when they're able to see who's the real person behind the brand!
Hopefully, my checklist for starting a blog will be of a great help to you.
In the end of the day, to build a whole online business is not the easiest thing in the world.
So, there is nothing wrong with getting a bit of extra help, is there?
Anything missing from that list?
I'll be happy to read your suggestions!
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