You’ve — finally — started your own blog then! That’s awesome, truly.
But, your journey of blogging has just begun.
There’s a long road ahead, so you’d better buckle up.
You know, as much as I’d like to say start a blog and you’re all set, it is not true.
Once you create a blog you’ll have to do lots of things, initially.
Lots of set-ups and stuff, to ensure your blog is a hit.
In this post, I’ll be highlighting 15 things you ought to do — in the first 60 days as a blogger — to ensure your blog’s well setup and you’re ready for this exciting journey.
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I hope you’ve decided your niche, got your hosting and WordPress set-up.
If not, you can check out my FREE guide to Starting A Blog.
Once you’ve got that off the list you’re cool to go ahead (a few of these I’ve already covered in my Starting A Blog guide, so if you’ve been already through it just move on)
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Get a nice theme for your blog
Okay, once you install WordPress this is what your blog will look like:
Pretty shit, right?
That’s what you have to change.
A theme is nothing but a piece of software that makes your site look better and easy to navigate.
Now there’s a lot of debate on free theme vs paid theme.
In my opinion, a professional looking paid theme is always good, as it provides many more features than free themes.
I use SPI theme from StudioPress and would recommend the same (though choices should be different according to your niche). Elegant themes also have a great collection.
But, hey, as a starter or if you’re low on budget, you can start with a free theme and perhaps, move on to a paid theme, later, as your blog grows.
Selecting a theme comes down to some important aspects…
To know more about selecting the perfect WordPress theme, check out this post: Selecting the Perfect WordPress theme
Here are some reputed theme shops:
- Elegant themes (Elegant theme gives you an option to access all paid theme with one time fee).
- Themeforest (cheap).
Once you’ve found out the perfect theme for your blog…
Here’s a guide to installing a theme: How to Install WordPress Themes
Install only required Plugins (WordPress speed up)
Plugins are simple software that’ll help you with lots of the technical stuff, like getting rid of the default page heading, SEO, creating contact forms, etc.
Here’s a compiled list of necessary plugins to getting started:
- Yoast SEO: This will help you with all the SEO stuff on your website. (In case you don’t know what SEO is, I’ve covered it later in this post)
- Sucuri: An important plugin when it comes to website security.
- Hide Title: Pages on your WordPress website will display titles by default. By installing this plugin you’ll get an easy one click option to hide them.
- W3 Total Cache: This plugin will improve your website’s user experience by improving site load time.
- Jetpack: A WordPress plugin which comes in with a suite of functionalities, like traffic insights, website performance, security, and much more.
- Akismet: Checks your comments for spam and gives you an option to review comments before they appear on your site.
Setting up these pages on your blog is a must
Every blog should have select minimum pages to better organize data and make it easy for the user to access it.
Here’s a quick overview to adding pages on your blog:
Here are a couple of pages to get started with:
This is the page where people will land on when they enter your website URL into the search bar.
For example, when you enter http://growingmetrics.com into the search bar, this is where you’ll be taken.
So, that’s my website’s home page.
Check out these well-crafted home pages by some top bloggers:
About Us page plays an important role for any blog (or a website in general).
This is where new users (and potential customers) will get to know more about you and your blog.
So, you want to make sure, you craft your about page well.
Here’s a list of 12 About Us pages that you could consider as reference while crafting yours.
A Blog page is just a collection of all the blog posts you’ve published to date.
It’s a good to have a separate blog page and is practiced by almost all the top bloggers.
If you offer any service you can let people know about it in this section.
Say, you are good at web designing…
You can let people know, you could help them in designing their website — on this page.
You could also add products, if you have any, to sell.
Like a WordPress theme you’ve built…
Or… a course, perhaps, like WordPress tutorial.
Understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Hey, I just Googled WordPress Tutorial.
Check out the results:
Have you — ever — wondered why one result ranks or shows up above other on Google.
Like, in this example, the post by WPBeginner ranks on top, followed by SiteGround’s article.
Why is it so?
The answer is, to rank posts in their Search Engine Result pages, Google uses more than 200 factors.
And a few of them are directly from your blog.
These are known as On-page SEO factors.
So, if you ever want your articles to show up on top for particular search terms — you’ll have to get started with understanding the basics of SEO.
Check out this massive guide by Moz to understand everything you need to about basics of SEO.
Targeting one social media (Important)
Social Media plays an important role in shaping the image of your blog.You want to be active on platforms where majority of your target readers hang out.
Say, most of the folks that you want to read your blog are of Facebook, get on Facebook.
They’re on Twitter? Sign-up on Twitter NOW.
What — 90% of the beginners do, as soon as they’ve started their blog, is they sign-up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit and every other social platform they can find. Facepalm.
That’s exactly what I did, when I started out.
But along the way I’ve realized — that’s exactly what you should NOT do.
Start small, if your ideal platform is, say, Twitter – Create a Twitter handle. Get some engagement. Build some new relationships. Get some traffic and once you’ve established yourself on that platform, perhaps, you can think of moving on to a different platform.
Create an editorial calendar for your blog
An editorial calendar is nothing but a content creating and publishing schedule for your blog. Then be it a blog post, a video or an infographic.
This is, roughly, how the process of creating an editorial calendar goes:
- Brainstorm ideas: Write down some ideas that you think could help your audience.
- Schedule those ideas: Suppose you pick up 4 topics, you think will help your audience create a publishing schedule when you want to publish them.
- Create Content: Once you have a posting schedule in picture, you can start researching more about your topic and create your blog post.
There are many tools that could get you started with creating an editorial calendar:
- Google Calendar (free)
- Google Spreadsheet (free)
- CoSchedule (paid)
Follow Your Editorial Calendar
Well, yep, this was coming. You know, creating an editorial calendar is easy. But then following it is the actual hard work. You’ll perhaps follow it for a week or two.
But, after then, what?
You’ll start procrastinating, stop following our calendar and FAIL.
This happens with most of the beginners.
And thus, 95% of the blogs are abandoned within 3 months from starting it.
Creating Content for your blog
One of the most important questions, around which your blogging journey revolves: How do you create content, compelling enough, so that people will want to come back to your blog?
Here are the basics to get you started:
Write irresistible headlines
80% of the people will only read headlines and leave your blog post as the headline is not compelling enough.
So, if your headline is not good enough — you are done, even if the rest of your post is incredible.
Neil Patel has shared a Step-by-Step guide to writing strong headlines.
Create mouth-watering introduction
A headline prompts your reader to continue reading your post, but a good introduction is what ties them to your actual content.
Craft data driven content
Ah, the main part. This is what you work most on, right?
Content that’s data driven and isn’t already repeated over a thousand times works well.
WordStream has an article that outlines how to write a great blog post.
Start Building an email list (Collecting Subscribers)
As soon as you start your blog, you must start building your email list.
Basically, what’s an email list?
An email list is a list of people who are interested in your content and would like to get a notification in their inbox whenever you publish something new.
See all these emails?
These are from different bloggers and websites that I visit regularly.
So, I subscribed to these websites.
And I get notifications of all the new blog posts, product launches, etc. right into my inbox.
The mistake most of the beginners do is, they ignore building a mailing list and instead concentrate on getting more Facebook likes.
Here’s a quick comparison of 5000 facebook likes vs 5000 email subscribers:
Every time you post on Facebook, 300 people are expected to see that post and if it contains a link, 4 people are expected to click through.
On the other hand, speaking of an email list, over a 1000 people are expected to open the email and if it contains a link, almost more than 180 people are expected to click through.
(Note: The above data is based on industry average, it may vary depending on your niche and a dozen other factors)
To store all your emails, you’ll need an email marketing software.
You can get started for free with MailChimp, which will allow you to store 2000 email addresses, also you can send up to 12000 emails every month.
After signing up for new MailChimp account, here’s how to connect to wordpress.
Once you’ve set-up your MailChimp account, here’s a basic idea of how MailChimp works.
A great way to start getting subscribers is using free tools suite by SumoMe.
Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, i.e you would fill a small portion of my pocket, if you are buying from above links with no extra cost for you.
Ensure your blog’s easy to navigate. When someone lands on your site, they want to know more about you and what you offer. But if that someone cannot find a way to get to your About page or your Blog, she’ll just let it go.
You’ve just lost a reader who was interested in your content.
Don’t do that. Make it extremely simple to browse through your blog.
Mobile Responsive Blog
It’s expected that more 50% of all the Internet activity will be done using a mobile device by 2017.
And if that’s the case you want to make sure, your blog is ready for being displayed from a mobile.
This largely depends on the theme you choose.
To test if your website’s Mobile responsive, use Google’s Mobile Friendly test
Website Load Speed
Site Load Time plays an important part in user experience.
If your website takes too much time to load, people just go back and search for information elsewhere.
And thus it’s vital, you ensure your website loads lightning fast.
You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check out your blog’s site loading speed.
Follow other top blogs
Following other top blogs will keep you informed of the progress others are making.
You’ll get an understanding of what you will have to do next to stay on the right path and building your blog.
So, make sure you’re notified every time a top blog in your industry publishes some new content.
This can be done by directly subscribing to their blog or if you’re more active on social media, perhaps, following them on Twitter or Facebook.
Marketing Your Blog
You just didn’t come all the way to just learn how to start a blog, right?
You want people to come to your blog, read your stuff and acknowledge you for that.
But, these people just don’t show up automatically.
You have to promote your content strategically for them to show up on your blog.
Get started with this Traffic generation course to bring people back to your blog from different places.
Test, Test, Test
Becoming a successful blogger largely consists of learning something new, testing the idea and trying to figure out if it will work.
In my first three months as a blogger, I did a lot of mistakes and this is one of them — I used to go through a lot of content, dozens of blog posts, ebooks, podcasts, videos, basically everything I could get my hands on to become a better blogger.
I accumulated a lot of information by this approach.
But, unfortunately, it was the wrong way.
I learned a lot but did not actually test it to find out if it worked.
As a blogger, testing should be an integral part of your blogging strategy.
Don’t hesitate to test.
If something works, that’s great. Let people know about it.
And if something doesn’t? That’s awesome too. Let people know all the same.
What’s the best time to publish a blog post? Test and find out?
Long content works or short? Test and find out.
What social media platform will be best for me? Test and find out.
The list goes on.
It’s your turn now.
You want to take your blog to the next level, right?
And in order to do just that, follow the above mentioned 15 things and you’ll have a stronger foundation to your blogging journey than most.