I got a lot of great feedback about this post so I created a PDF version that you can print out and use like a checklist! Download the PDF.
It is a very exciting time, you just started your first blog. But now what do you do?
I have seen so many bloggers that start their blog and then realize just how much work it really is to get all the things they want and need. They get overwhelmed, and then they lose interest, and then they stop blogging.
That is why I put together this checklist of 25 things you should do for your new blog. Having a checklist will help you see what you need to do and keep it organized. If you can not do them all at once, try for a couple each day! This list is just a starting point, but it will give your blog the start it deserves.
- Change permalinks: Permalinks make your links all pretty! This changes it from a bunch of codey goblly goop to something your readers (and search engines) will understand. WordPress Tutorial on changing permalinks.
- Adjust Timezone: It is important to adjust the timezone on your blog so that the time of posts and comments are accurate. This is also important if you intend to schedule posts.To change your timezone visit Settings > General and adjust the timezone.
- Change your blogs name and tagline: When you first install WordPress you may have setup a name and tagline depending on how you did the install. To change it visit Settings > General, its the top 2 options. Don’t leave the tagline as “just another WordPress blog”.
- Delete the default content: WordPress comes pre-installed with a sample post called “hello world” and a sample page called “sample page”. Visit your posts and delete the sample post and then do the same for the sample page. Remember to empty the trash!
- Edit Username and Password: Some installers give you a default username of admin and a random password. You should never use the admin name of “admin”, its too obvious. Change the username and password and then delete the admin account. WordPress tutorial on changing username and password.
- Create an about page: An about page should tell your readers what they can get from reading your blog. Even though it is called an about page, it really should have very little about you. Check out my about page for a good example!
- Create a contact page: A contact page allows people to get in touch. A contact form is pretty standard along with some social media accounts that people can reach you on. Let people know where to find you! And most importantly be sure to interact when they do!You can use a plugin like ninja forms to create a contact page, very simple!
- Create a Resources page: A resources page, like this one, shows off all the tools and services you use. The items will carry from niche to niche, but you should definitely have one, they are extremely valuable to your readers.
- Affiliate disclosure policy: An affiliate disclosure policy tells your readers that you have affiliate links on your site and lets them know how they work. I suggest having one (actually its now the law). It is my belief that being honest and transparent is the best policy anyways. To see an example check out my affiliate disclosure policy!
- Create your first post: Now that you have your blog, create your first post! Maybe an introductory post is in order or jump right into your main subject.
- Create a Twitter profile: Twitter is awesome for engaging with new potential readers and customers. In my opinion it is the easiest social media network to grow your following on. Create a profile and start tweeting! Check out this great resource on using twitter: Moz Twitter userguide
- Create a Google plus profile: A lot of people say google plus is dead, they could not be more wrong. While it does not have the numbers Facebook does, it does have better engagement. Create a page and start interacting with people, your following will grow slowly, but… they will be fans for life.If you are looking for your first person to circle, circle ThriveWP! Check out this guide on using Google plus.
- Create a Facebook page for your blog: Facebook is one of todays most popular social networks. I have a major love hate relationship with it, but its kind of a necessary for an online presence. Here is a good read about setting up a business facebook page. Also, why not like ThriveWP on Facebook!
- Youtube, Linkedin, and Pinterest: I think that having an account on all the major social networks is important but don’t spread your time too thin. Pick 2 social networks and pour most of your time into those.If you are going to do a lot of videos, a youtube channel is needed (captain obvious here). Pinterest is great for a foodie blog or an arts and crafts blog, or really anything visual. LinkedIn is perfect for the more business side of things.
- Add your social profiles to your site: Now that we have all these cool social profiles we need to let the readers know about them. Add the social icons to your site (I suggest in the sidebar or the footer) and let your readers know they can find you on there.Don’t go crazy and post them everywhere, be tactful. You can use this plugin to add them easily or do it yourself.
- Add social share buttons to your posts: I suggest you use the add this plugin. It is light weight and does what it should. Giving your readers an easy way to share your posts makes it a lot more likely to happen.
- Install Akismet: I think as soon as you create a new blog it sends a message to the spam ninjas to come find you. If you don’t have something to manage the spam you will be over-run! Akismet is a great free option for stopping all of this spam.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast: This plugin is the one SEO plugin you need. Install it, and your WordPress site will be on its way to the top of the rankings. It will however need some configuration. I suggest reading Yoasts guide to configuring the WordPress SEO plugin.
- Make a backup: Backups are like insurance for your blog, you never want to deal with them till they are needed. Ideally you should make a backup at least once a week and before any big changes are made (like a new version of WordPress). While doing them manually can be done it takes a lot of time.A plugin I use is Updraft Plus. The free version will download your backup right to your dropbox! Easy to setup and configure Once you are done installing, make your first backup!
- Change your theme: Having the default theme installed says you are a complete newb. A lot of new bloggers install WordPress they never get past that step. You see a lot of blogs with the default theme installed. While it is a nice theme, it kind of lets everyone know you just are not that serious.There are a lot of free themes out there, and some of them are great. A free theme is meant for someone just getting started, but when you want to take your website a little more serious then get a premium theme. They come with higher quality code, have better support, and in general look nicer. I suggest the themes from studiopress, they are awesome!
- Add a custom favicon: The favicon is the little image in the tab. Having a custom one helps create your brand. Read here for my guide on creating a custom favicon.
- Email list signup forms: Create one right away. No if’s or buts, do it. You wont regret it. I didn’t create one for my first blog till 6 months later, I cringe thinking about all the signups I lost.You can signup with Mailchimp for free but it doesn’t allow you to create an autoresponder till you pay.Aweber is the industry standard for creating e-mail autoresponders. The first month is a dollar, so cant hurt to try it out.Once you have your mailing list you definitely want to show the signup box prominently on your blog. There are plugins for both Aweber and Mailchimp that help with this.
I suggest having the form in your sidebar, about page, and at the bottom of your posts. I don’t suggest popups when your blog is just starting, you need to show the readers your value before asking for their information. (example, at the bottom of this post, after reading how awesome it is you will want more and subscribe!).
- Add Google Analytics: I suggest installing an analytics package right away. This will allow you to gauge how your blog is doing and see how many people are coming to your site! Google analytics is pretty easy to use and is free.I suggest using the Google analytics WordPress Plugin to insert your code.
- Signup for Google Webmaster Tools: This is another great service by google. It gives you insight into how Google sees your website. It has little tips about how you can improve and is an invaluable tool. Read this guide on using Google Webmaster Tools.
BONUS! 5 Things not to do with your new blog!
- Leave it to die: Seriously. It is going to take time so if your first 10 posts doesn’t go viral, don’t give up!
- Have advertisements everywhere: Nothing says I just want to make money like having a blog with 2 blog posts and more ads than you can count. Placing advertisements tactfully or even better yet using affiliate links within your blog post is a much better strategy.
- Skip promoting your posts: You work hard on your blog! Be sure to let everyone know where to find it. Send out tweets and post on the other social networks whenever you create a new post. You should spend a lot of time on promoting your work.
- Ignore comments: When someone comments on your blog be sure to respond. Not only does it show you are around and accessible, it increases your comment count!
- Be like everyone else: While modeling yourself after some of the top bloggers is ok to do, don’t be just like them. You are unique, you have a message, get that message out there. The best thing you can do is show your personality, be you! Set yourself apart.
Now that you have completed this list of 25 things you should have a blog that is ready for prime time. Just remember, blogging is an adventure so approach it like one. You never know what is around the corner. Stay with it, keep posting, keep promoting (tactfully), and keep having fun!
What are your next steps?
Let me know in the comments what your next steps are with your blog! Post a link to your new blog so the Sminso community can see what you have made! I can not wait!
You can also Download the PDF version of the checklist, so you never lose it!
Download the New Blog Checklist