Starting a blog is one of the easiest and complicated things you’ll do when you decide to start your online business.
In today’s article I’m going to give you 12 of the most important steps to take before you hit Publish.
3 Things To Do To Start Your Blog
Before we dive into the 12 things to do before hitting Publish on your first viral post, I want to make sure you’ve actually started your blog.
If you haven’t, no problem. In a few minutes you can choose your domain, host, and launch your WordPress blog. In fact, one of my most popular posts is called “How To Start A Blog In 28 Minutes or Less”
Step 1: Choose and Buy Your Domain Name
What’s in a name?
It’s one of the most important things to consider when you decide to start a blog!
But don’t get too caught up in your domain name. I started and rebranded 3 times before I even made a penny blogging.
When you start your blog with Bluehost (see more on that below on Step #2) you can choose your domain name during the sign-up process.
Step 2: Choose Your Web Host
Everyone needs a host. Kind of a like a parasite. A blogging parasite.
My favorite host is Bluehost, because are seriously blogger friendly. The sign-up process is easy and hassle-free, which you’ll learn to really appreciate down the road as you experience challenges and set-backs.
Step 3: Launch WordPress
Again, if you choose Bluehost, then at the end of the hosting process, you’ll click “Launch website” and WordPress will be automagically installed and you get started with the next 12 steps.
I’ve repeated these steps to create 2 blogs that make anywhere between $3000-$6000 EACH every single month.
12 Things To Do After You Start Your Blog
- Set Up the Permalink Structure
- Delete The “Hello World” Post and The Sample Page
- Install the Most Important Plugins
- Add A Title & Description
- Check the Commenting Settings
- Make Your Blog Pretty with a WordPress Theme
- Add Google Analytics Tracking Code
- Add the Most Important Pages
- Setup an Opt-In Form and Build Your Email List
- Add a Sitemap to Your Blog
- Don’t Forget the Favicon
- Choose Your Make Money Strategy
If you want to start a blog that makes money, then follow these important steps when setting up your blog.
If you already have your blog set up, go through the following steps to make sure you have all of the steps in place.
Once you’re all set up, you’re ready to start:
- creating viral blog posts
- getting traffic from Pinterest
- Using SEO to get traffic
- And start making money with affiliate marketing
Click on each of the links above to learn more about each.
1.) Set Up Your Permalink Structure
Permalink is WordPress’ fancy way of saying “url structure.”
A sample url or permalink is: https://yourawesomewebsite.com/your-awesome-blog-post
So, permalink in WordPress is url for all posts and pages.
If you go to Settings > Permalinks, check what the default permalink setting is. If it’s set either to ‘date and name’, or ‘month and name’, you need to change it.
We want to have our blog post or “keywords” in your URL.
I highly recommend you to choose the ‘post name’ or the Custom structure.
The last one allows you to add the category to the URL, which can help with organization.
I prefer “post name” because to me, it’s a cleaner look, so as long as you have “post name” in somewhere in your URL, you’re good.
2.) Delete The “Hello World” Post And The Sample Page
Once you publish your WordPress blog, your first post is called “hello world” post and you’ll have a sample page published.
These are just examples for you to see how your posts and pages will look like, so go ahead and delete those right away.
All you need to do is to click on Trash and then find these two items in the trash folder to remove them from your site forever.
If you are looking for an affordable hosting company to start a blog, I recommend Bluehost.
When you start getting more traffic (more than 50K/month), you might want to explore other hosting options. I recommend WPX Hosting when and if you do switch.
When you use my link to Bluehost, I receive a commission, and you get hosting + free domain name + free SSL certificate (https) for just $3.95 per month.
3.) Install The Most Important Plugins
Plugins are what gives your blog LIFE!
You’ll use plugins to optimize your SEO efforts, to generate leads, make sales, prevent spam, install html code into your website, and much more…
Plugins, free AND paid (sometimes you need to spend money to make money) is what makes WordPress the best for bloggers.
Plugins are additional functions of your blog, which you can add with a simple upload and install process without having to code anything on your own.
The only downside of plugins, is they can slow down your website speed, which is also important for ranking on Google.
You could also face a security risk due to plugins because they tend to be easier to breach than your WordPress login page.
So, you don’t want to add ALL the plugins! Just the most important ones for running a money making blog.
However, you can’t entirely avoid using plugins. It simply makes no sense. Just make sure that for each important feature you use the best plugin offered on the market. I’ll give you the names of the three plugins, which I consider absolute must-haves for any blogger.
- Antispam Bee – blocks spam comments and trackbacks efficiently and without captchas. It is free of charge, ad-free and compliant with European data privacy standards (doesn’t store the IP addresses of your users). You can only use it with default WordPress comments, not with plugins like Disqus Comments or Jetpack. You can choose a setting there, once a commenter has been approved, his other comments will be automatically accepted without review.
- Yoast SEO – this is a plugin that helps you take care of your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in every post and on your blog in general. SEO is essential for your blog in the long-run because it ensures that users searching on Google will be able to find your posts somewhere around top results for the relevant keywords. An alternative to Yoast, is All-in-One SEO
- UpdraftPlus – it’s currently the highest-ranking backup plugin on wordpress. org, has a free version. Backup into the cloud (Amazon S3 (or compatible), Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace Cloud, DreamObjects, FTP, OpenStack Swift, UpdraftPlus Vault and email) and restore with a single click.
- Headers and Footers plugin – this plugin allows you to insert html code into the <head> or <body> of your website. Don’t let the word “code” scare you.
You’ll only use this for verifying your website occasionally, adding Google analytics tracking code, and a few other times you’re requested to do so.
Usually, you’ll be given instructions on where to insert the code.
- Social Warfare plugin, which I’m using on my blog to add social media buttons to every post. It’s highly customizable, and I recommend you to get the paid version because it allows you to recover your social sharing data if you lost if after switching the plugins, and it allows you to set a Pinterest-optimized pin description with hashtags, which will be automatically applied to all the images on your page. The paid version is $30/year for one site and has a great discount for 5 sites if you run several blogs.
- WP Tasty Plugin – This is my favorite Pinterest focused plugin. You can add unlimited Pinterest images without having to add them to your post. You can also add a universal Pinterest description, title, and disable pinning on images that aren’t great for Pinterest.
Click here to check out WP Tasty…
How many plugins can I install on a blog?
That’s a difficult question because there is no recommended limit, but one thing is positive – the more plugins you have, the slower your site works.
Your page loading times is a very important thing to consider optimizing. Not only is it important for user experience, Google keeps a very strict eye on page load time, which affects your rankings.
Research the plugin before installing, always making sure to add plugins that are frequently updated, has good reviews, and is recommended by other bloggers.
The plugins I shared with you here I’ve done research on and you’ll find these are used by many top bloggers.
4.) Add Title and Description
This is a simple way to tell Google and social media sites the name of your blog and the main description of what your blog is all about.
You don’t want to forget about this, because the default WordPress title and description usually does not do your blog justice and it’s not good for SEO purposes.
When you think about the title and description tags for your blog, don’t forget to add some keywords, which helps users and Google understand the main topic of your site.
To can set up your blog title, head to Settings – General, and on this page first thing you see is blog title. You can set this as well in the SEO plugin if you are using Yoast SEO, find the Titles & Metas section and head to Homepage tab.
5.) Update The Commenting Settings
Comments can be a great way to not only communicate with your audience and readers, you can get valuable feedback on your articles. Sometimes, bad, but remember, ANY comments help with SEO.
I wouldn’t recommend disabling comments in your blog, but some restrictions for commentators are necessary because you can’t afford to have tons of spam, which often comes in between genuine comments, and you can’t afford 24 hours monitoring your comments to delete spam.
In my blog, I always receive comments for moderation and manually approve each one to be published under my posts. Of course, it takes some time as well, but at least, I can dedicate some 10 min a day to comments and not worry that my blog is under spammers attack at any time of the day.
How to check and update your comment settings? Just scroll down the Discussion settings and choose the boxes according to your preferences.
6.) Choose A WordPress Theme
It’s time to make your blog POP!
So, you’ve registered your domain, set up hosting (with Bluehost or WPX), and set up a few other WordPress basics, it’s time to choose a theme.
Your theme is what gives your blog some design elements, it allows you to customize your sidebars, headers, menus, etc…
You want to differentiate your blog from the other millions of blogs out there, right?
There are many free theme options, but I recommend going with a paid theme, because you’ll be saving loads of time and money down the road.
lso, having a premium (paid) theme solves for you many money-making tasks because they usually have a structure and features that help you in generating revenue from your content.
The Genesis Framework is the most popular among professional bloggers (like me). The Genesis Framework is like the foundation and frame of a house, the “bones.”
Then you’ll download a Child Theme to add the fixtures, paints, colors, and accessories.
Genesis Framework was developed by a company called StudioPress, they also offer their own child themes. Go to the StudioPress website and browse the various themes and choose one that best fits your vision.
I start all of my blogs with Genesis Framework along with a StudioPress and when I’ve later had my website professionally designed it was easy to customize the code.
Once you downloaded a theme, the installation is very simple. Head to Appearance > Themes and upload your new theme.
Eventually, you might hire someone to design a custom WordPress site. You can find designers and programmers on websites like Fiverr or Upwork.
7.) Add Google Analytics Tracking Code
If you’re anything like me, you’re going to become addicted to checking your numbers, particularly how many people are on your website or have been on your website.
You can track almost everything! How many visitors come to your site, where are they located, which traffic source they are coming from? And it’s so exciting to see the traffic growth over time! This is why you really should set up Google Analytics code on your blog as soon as possible.
Google Analytics is a free and the most powerful tool in the market, so set up an account here and get your tracking code. Google has clear instructions on where to paste their code, but to make it shorter, you just need to paste it before the closing <head> tag.
Use the Headers and Footers plugin I mentioned before.
8.) Add The Most Important Pages
The following are MUST-HAVE pages right when you start your blog. You don’t have to create them in any particular order, but all are very important:
About – If you don’t promote yourself, no one else will! If you’re honest and transparent about who you are and what you do, you’ll instantly become more popular. Be genuine and update your About page as you continue your blogging journey.
Don’t make these About page mistakes:
- Writing it from the third person, this is not a Wikipedia article about you.
- Making the About page too generic and impersonal.
- Having just a long text with no images or photos.
I know that putting these pages together can be quite boring and confusing. Don’t spend too much time on them, they should be pretty generic. Of course, you should put them in your own words, but here is a disclosure policy generator you might find useful at disclosurepolicy.org.
9.) Set-up An Opt-In Form and Start Building Your Email List
This may seem intimidating at first, but believe me the money is in the email list! In order to start collecting email addresses and sending emails, you’re going to need an Email Service Provider/Email Marketing Software.
I’ve tried many different email platforms over the years and I’ll provide you with my 4 favorites.
Getresponse – Getresponse is the best all in one email marketing software that has the lowest learning curve. You can easily create forms to get email address, integrate with custom forms, and send emails in a matter of minutes.
ConvertKit – ConvertKit is the most popular among professional bloggers. You can do everything you can with Getresponse, but they have slightly better marketing automations and they have a great affiliate program.
Aweber – Aweber is a basic email platform great for beginners and affiliate marketers.This would be a great start for beginners.
Active Campaign – Active Campaign is for serious marketers who rely on marketing automations, workflows, and more…You can send emails, track buyers, clicks, and more…
As a beginner, I would recommend starting with Getresponse or Aweber. After 1 year or so you may want to look into Active Campaign or ConvertKit.
There are 3 areas on your blog that are the best for generating email addresses:
- After Your Blog Post
- In Your Blog Posts (ClickPops)
I’ve use the above methods to generate over 50,000 leads over the last 3 years.
10.) Add A Sitemap To Your Blog
For best SEO results, you should have a Sitemap file to tell Google to search your website. The sitemap helps Google understand your blog’s structure and crawl it efficiently.
If you installed the Yoast SEO plugin, you need the Sitemap in the plugin settings. Make sure you have it toggled to “Enabled.” This will automatically generate a Sitemap file according to your settings.
For the sake of SEO, all blogs are recommended to have a Sitemap file. This file helps Google search robots better understand your blog’s structure and crawl it more efficiently.
You are not using the Yoast SEO plugin, another helpful plugin is Google XML Sitemaps.
As soon as your file is generated, just go to the Google Webmaster Tools (this is a free tool, if you are not signed-up for it, do it asap) and submit your sitemap URL to Google.
You will find it under Crawl – > Sitemaps. A sitemap created by Yoast SEO always has an URL ending on /sitemap_index.xml.
An alternative to doing this yourself is to head over to Fiverr and pay someone a few bucks to do all of this for you.
11.) Add A Favicon
Have you ever noticed the little image that appears next to the site title in the browser tab? That little image is called a “favicon.” You can create one from your blog’s logo or you can use any relevant image. For example, I use a little funnel image to depict I help bloggers with sales funnels.
If you don’t upload your own favicon, you’ll be given the default WordPress image and you don’t want that. It only takes a couple of minutes to add a favicon to make your blog appear more professional.
Favicon is always displayed in the browser tabs and helps users identify and remember your site better.
The size of a favicon is 32 px by 32 px, you need to find a way to make your favicon stand out and look good in such a small size. After you created the image, change the file extension to a .ico file.
Then head to WordPress and find a way to upload your favicon under Appearance -> Customize. Depending on your WordPress theme, the tab where you can change favicon can have different names. In X-Theme which I currently use, it’s called Site Icons.
12.) Choose How Your Blog Will Make Money
This is my favorite part about starting a blog!
There are 3 ways to make (good) money blogging and I’ll list them in order of my personal favorites:
- Creating and selling your own digital products
Most bloggers are intimidated with the thought of creating an ebook, program, or course.
The truth is, I was also. In fact, it took me 4 years to finish my first digital product. Now, 4 years later, I’ve created almost 10 different digital programs.
Most bloggers, complicate their ideas. Start with something small. For example, if you’re a food blogger, you could create a cookbook with your most popular recipes and sell it for $9.99. If you’re a finance blogger, you could create a small ecourse selling a way to boost your credit score in 90 days and sell it for $47.
Once you start selling stuff (and people buy) you’ll get feedback and eventually you’ll be selling your products or $97, $497, and even $4,997!
The fastest way to becoming a 7-figure blogger is with digital products. I haven’t made 7 figures YET, but I’m about half way there!
- Affiliate marketing
With affiliate offers, you are essentially selling other people’s stuff. You sell their items and you get a commission. Can be Amazon Associates or
Private Offers. Amazon Associates is the internet’s largest affiliate program.
Amazon sells over 500M products and has a great degree of trust with customers, so it’s a fantastic place to start if you’re promoting any kind of physical product on your site.
There are many other affiliate networks that serve as a marketplace to connect businesses to publishers (like you) to create affiliate partnerships.
Here are a few of the leading networks:
- Commission Junction
There are many other networks, as well as some businesses who prefer to run their own affiliate program without using a third party network. In those cases, you’d need to contact the company directly and ask if they have an affiliate program.
One of my personal favorite affiliate programs that I make over $50,000/year is ClickFunnels. I’ll share more on ClickFunnels in other emails. Learn more about the ClickFunnels affiliate program here.
- Google Adsense
When I started my first blog I told myself “I’ll never have ads on my website, they are annoying.”
It’s kind of like when I had my first child, I said “I’ll never sit them in front of an Ipad.”
4 years later, ads on my website and my kids sitting in front of an ipad (monitored and only for a short time when I gotta work on something).
Anyway, this ecourse is NOT about parenting (unless you’re a parenting blogger), it’s about blogging as a business!
I was able to join Mediavine a little over 1 year ago and now make about $3,500/month on about 150K (average) visits to my health and weight loss blog. See “proof” below:
Ad revenue is great, IF you’re getting alot of traffic.
Your new blog is all set now! That’s it, now you set up the twelve vital details which will make your way to blogging success shorter!
I wish you to achieve the best results with your new blog and hope this list of things that many new bloggers completely forget about in their first months, will be helpful for you!