People who succeed in blogging have two things in common:
#1 They make sure their blog is setup for success in every area.
#2 They put 100% persistence and dedication into their daily blogging tasks.
Today I’m going to help you with #1 Blog Setup Checklist.
And to make things a bit easier, I’ve divided the checklist into 5 separate blogging ‘areas’:
- Blog Technicalities
- Design & Layout
So this could act as your ‘launching a blog checklist‘ if you’re new to blogging, or it can act as a ‘refresher checklist‘ if you’ve already started a blog.
Of course, you don’t have to implement every single item that I’ve suggested, but it can give you food for thought as to what kind of things you should be implementing into your own blog business.
I also realize that there could be a gazillion other items which could easily be added to this list because blogging is such a mammoth undertaking.
However, I’ve listed what I believe are the main check-points in each area to get you started.
Click on the button images below to be taken to a particular blogging area:
1. Buy Your Own Domain Name
You simply must have your own domain name to head your blog business. Preferably you should use a .com tld than any other extension as it’s the most common, therefore the most remembered by returning visitors. However, if that’s not available just use another one that’s available as there are dozens of them now. i.e. .co, .org, .net etc..
So if you don’t own your own domain, then now is the time to get one. I mean what business do you know that doesn’t have a business name? Running your own blogging business is the same.
I use NameCheap but you can buy domains simply doing a Google search or sometimes you can get a free one with your chosen web hosting company.
Which leads onto….
2. Get Your Own Web-Hosting
Please don’t run your business blog on a free platform such as Blogger’s .blogspot.com, WordPress, Tumblr or any other free blogging service. You don’t own these platforms and they have been known to shut down accounts with no notice.
You need to own your own blog which means you need to pay for your own web hosting. It’s only a very small monthly fee but it’s worth it, giving you peace of mind that your blog is on a stable and reliable platform.
I’ve used MadRooster since 2007, and you can now get a free domain name when you sign up with their web hosting plan which is less than $5 per month!
3. Get Familiar With Your Web Hosting Operating System
Now that you have your own web hosting, make sure you’re familiar with the ‘inside’ of your hosting account. In most web hosting platforms, it’s called cPanel.
Familiarize yourself with tools such as Awstats (your blog analytics/statistics) and File Manager. WordPress is also available from inside the cPanel which can be installed for free.
4. Protect Your Computer Again Viruses
All computers are vulnerable to catching a virus which can have lethal consequences. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have protection for your PC.
Here’s a handy article outlining the best free antivirus and free internet security software.
5. Back-Up Your Blog
This is a biggie guys and girlies! Imagine if someone tried to hack into your blog account or if your web-hosting company got hacked, or your blog just got totally wiped out! It does and can happen.
I use the BackupBuddy WordPress Plugin. It has a yearly fee, but hey, it’s your business we’re talking about here. It’s like having business insurance for an offline business. The $80 a year fee gives you peace of mind knowing that all your hard work is safe and will continue to be safe.
6. Set-Up Comment Preferences
Decide how you want to accept blog comments. Do you want to use the plugin Comment Luv, or Disqus or Facebook comments, or just use the normal comments? Do you want to approve comments first, or can anyone automatically post a comment (not recommended).
Whatever platform you use, make sure you have your comments settings set up the way you want.
7. Install Plugins
There are some plugins that you should install to help you run your blogging business, but ideally you should only install plugins which do things for you which you literally cannot do yourself.
The reason being is that most plugins these days are created by third party coders (not WordPress engineers) and some plugins really slow the speed of your website down and some conflict with the actual wordpress installation itself – which can cause a multitude of technical problems!
So here are the two which I would recommend you have, a
8. Get a Google Account
Weather you love them or hate them, Google is a dominant force on the Internet, so you may as well ‘go with the flow’.
If you haven’t already done so, sign yourself up with a Google Account. This will then give you access to everything ‘Google’ such as their Keyword Planning Tool, GMail, Google docs and much more.
9. Set-Up Google Analytics
Once you’re signed up with Google, make sure to set-up your blog with Google Analytics. Analytics tracks and reports your blog traffic and activity.
This is really important for business blogs as you need to know these things in order to tweak and improve your blog and it’s conversions.
Here’s a great article by Social Media Examiner showing you how to get started using Google Analytics.
10. Familiarize Yourself With Analytics
Get familiar with any analytics you have. Google analytics, your Awstats analytics (in cPanel), Pinterest analytics etc.
You must know and keep track of how your blog is performing and progressing. Where are your visitors coming from? How long do they stay on your blog (bounce rate)?
By knowing these things will help you make decisions about how you run your blog and how and where you can improve.
Design & Layout:
11. Install a Professional Mobile Friendly Themed Template
Make sure you have a lovely looking theme for your blog. Invest a little money to give it a professional look which portrays the right image for your niche.
A good design encourages visitors to click on your other articles, sign up for your newsletter, share your content, and generally helps to make your blog go viral!
I use a theme from StudioPress. They have dozens of ‘mobile friendly’ themes in all sorts of categories, from food blogs, to photography blogs, to beauty blogs and everything in between.
12. What’s Your Brands’ Color Scheme?
Choose two or three colors which go well together to form the brand colors of your blog. Use these colors throughout your blog and on images you use in your blog posts.
Then use these colors throughout all your social online presence, i.e. in your Twitter account, Facebook, Pinterest etc. Visitors and readers with then associate your chosen colors with your blog and brand.
Mine is mainly purple and grey with a splash of gold. I’m just loving purple at the moment!
13. Have a Professional Header Graphic
Either get a header graphic designed or a logo, or both.
I’ve recently had a logo done and just use that in my header graphic. It’s up to you, just make sure that you choose your design and colors wisely. This is your business brand, it’s important.
You can get decent logos done at www.fiverr.com, do a search in Google for logo designers or ask for help in any business-related / blogging Facebook groups you’re in.
If you feel brave enough or have a little experience in Canva or Pickmonkey, then try creating your own logo. It can be very simple and doesn’t have to be complicated.
14. First Impressions Matter
When new visitors land on your blog for the very first time, do they know within a few seconds of what your blog is about / your niche?
When new people land on my blog they instantly know its about women in business because it has an image of a women with a laptop and it actually says ‘she does business – home business ideas for women’ in the logo / header.
Design your blog to make sure people know exactly what you blog about within a nanosecond of landing on your blog. Don’t let them hunt around to find out, they’ll just leave and never return.
15. Have You Organized Your Categories?
Your blog is built on a hierarchy of tiers:
Tier 1 = your home page
Tier 2 = your blog categories
Tier 3 = all of your blog posts
Categories are designed to help you sort and ‘house’ your blog content into specific subjects. This helps keep your content organized and easy for visitors to find blog posts on subjects they are interested in.
Have at least three categories and split your blog posts into each of your categories.
16. Are Your Categories on Display?
Now that you have your categories set up, make sure that they’re on display someway.
You could display your categories in your side bar or top bar so visitors know where to find your blog posts within a specific topic.
I believe that having specific subject-based categories are important because visitors will unlikely be interested in all of your blog posts and will only want to read the ones which is beneficial to them at that precise moment in time. Therefore by clubbing your blog posts into very specific categories easily helps your visitors to find posts they are in need of.
17. User-Friendly Navigation
This goes with the above, so make sure you make good use of menu’s in and around your blog. Also, link to other posts where necessary within blog posts themselves.
18. The 5 Important Pages Your Blog Should Have
To make your blog look like a business and professional blog, create and display these five pages:
- About Me
- Disclaimer Page
- Cookies Policy
- Blog Comments Policy
19. Create a Writing Schedule
Don’t be a hap-hazard blogger. Get organized and set times to write and publish your blog posts. Be consistent.
For example, are you going to write one blog post per week? Two per week? One every two weeks or one every month?
What day are you going to submit your blog posts on? Is this necessary and important to you and your visitors?
Ask yourself all these questions and come up with a schedule which suits you personally and is the most beneficial to your readers.
20. Write 2,000+ Word Blog Posts
It’s a known fact now that short blog posts just don’t cut it these days.
Blogging is just too competitive to not write long, very helpful articles. It’s much more beneficial to write long, meaningful and helpful blog posts rather than short 500 word articles which don’t say much.
What do I mean by beneficial?
Well, writing a 2000+ article on a very specific topic in minute detail does many things:
- Your readers will actually learn something new
- They can take away points to try out in their own life/blog/business
- It keeps readers on your blog longer helping with your bounce rate (Google Analytics)
- It helps with your SEO in that Google will see your blog as popular and rank you higher.
Just think quality over quantity.
21. Social Share Buttons
If you write long, very helpful posts they are more likely to go viral and we all strive for our posts to go viral don’t we?
So make sure you have social sharing buttons on each of your blog posts.
I personally use the Shareaholic plugin which has many options for the design of how you want your share buttons to look like (it’s free).
Of course there are many more share button options to choose from. Floating share buttons tend to be popular, but personally I find them a tad annoying – but that’s just my personal opinion.
Here’s a helpful article outlining 18 top responsive social sharing plugins.
22. Use Striking Images
The internet is getting more and more visual these days.
People like to see colorful, pretty or interesting pictures.
So in each blog post and even in your side bar use nice looking, related visuals. It helps to break the blandness of just all text.
This is especially important for Pinterest and Instagram as people can easily add your image to their boards. Twitter and Facebook are also big on images now, so it does pay to include big images as they can be used as a marketing tool to lead people back to your posts.
23. Create Fantastic Post Titles
You need to use amazing titles for all of your blog posts. They must be catchy and entice the visitor to keep reading.
If you have a boring title, then people won’t even bother reading the first sentence of your blog post.
Here’s an article by Wordstream on Headline Writing Tips to make your blog posts go viral.
24. Blog Posts Search Engine Optimized?
Choose on or two keyword phrases for each of your blog posts as they might get picked up by Google. Then use these keywords in your Title, Headers and spread throughout your posts.
You can use the free Google Keyword Planner to find keywords for each blog post (you need a Google account to access the keyword tool).
I personally use Keysearch.co and absolutely love it – and it costs less than $20 a month.
I then use the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin to help search engine optimize my blog posts.
25. Calls To Action
As a blogger, you’ll be providing amazingly helpful content for free in your blog posts. However, you should still provide a call to action either within and/or at the end of your blog posts.
Because many of your readers will want ‘more’.
So give them more.
- Ask them to sign up to your newsletter.
- Ask them to download a PDF for more info (in exchange for their email).
- Ask them to click through to a related product (though your affiliate link).
- Ask them to read a very related second article.
… you get the gist.
Don’t be shy to ask your readers to do something, many of them will be more than happy to make the next move.
26. Encourage Blog Comments
If a thriving community is important to you in the form of your blog comments, then you must encourage your readers to leave a message.
Comments can actually be really helpful to you because you can learn a lot from your readers and then write new blog posts and create products accordingly.
Encourage comments simply by asking a question at the end of your post. Ask for feedback or their point of view on the subject matter.
Make sure you respond to all comments, it’s only polite.
Also, take note that only a very small handful of your readers will leave a comment. I’ve read somewhere that only about 2% of readers leave comments, so don’t get discouraged by how few comments you actually do get.
27. Your Author Box
Consider having an author box at the end of each blog post. This is easily done in WordPress and there are plenty of free plugins for this too.
I think it’s nice for the reader to see who the writer was behind the article.
I use the ‘Simple Author Box‘ plugin which lets you color co-ordinate your author box to your brands’ color scheme and it also let’s you add your social share buttons too.
28. Related Posts Plugin
Give visitors more options to read your other articles by having a related posts plugin to automatically display related posts at the end of each blog post.
29. Devise a ‘Money Plan’ For Your Blog
How do you intend to make money with your blog?
By selling all your own information products? Through Ad Networks? Affiliate programs? Or a combination of two or three different ways?
Sit and think what would be most beneficial to your readers. Products? Services? Both?
How you can implement these into your blog?
- Side-bar banners
- Links within your blog posts
- Full blown sales pages
- Sell through an email autoresponder (e.g. free course with affiliate links)
- Recommend products in your email newsletter
Monetizing your blog doesn’t (and shouldn’t) need to feel sleazy, it should be a ‘win-win’.
Implement what you feel the most comfortable doing and what your reader would value the most.
30. Learn How Affiliate Marketing Works
Affiliate marketing goes hand-in-hand with blogging, it’s soo easy to earn money with affiliate products – if done correctly.
Read this article on how to earn money by writing affiliate blog posts by Melyssa of melyssagriffin.com.
There’s no point in me expanding further on this topic. Melyssa does a great job at summing up how to ‘effectively’ earn constant commissions through affiliate links, via blog posts, in the above article.
31. Sign Up To Affiliate Networks
Of course you need to find valuable affiliate products to promote to your readers.
Find products to promote by typing a product name followed by the words ‘affiliate program’ into Google and you should be able to find affiliate products in just about every niche.
There are also popular affiliate networks such as:
32. Join Ad Networks
If you have lots of traffic, joining ad networks is a quick, easy and passive way to earn a monthly income.
Basically, an Ad Network is where you join the network as a ‘publisher’ and place the ads (a piece of code) on your blog. Then whenever anybody clicks on those ads, you get paid a small commission for each click.
This is known as ‘pay per click’ (ppc) advertising.
By ‘lots of traffic’ I mean that you should have at least 10,000 page views per month for this monetization method to be effective. Some ad networks won’t accept you if you have too few page views.
Some ad networks:
33. Get a PayPal Account
Sign up to a business account in PayPal. Most affiliate networks pay you via PayPal and you can also put a PayPal shopping cart on your blog to sell your own products.
34. Write Product Reviews
If you love a certain product or service, then why not write an honest review about it. Don’t forget to put a few affiliate links within the review to earn a commission from it.
Be honest and sincere in your review – don’t make it sound like a sales page. Write about the bad points as well as the good points and state why you would recommend this product to your readers.
35. Create Your Own Information Products
Affiliate programs are great, but at the end of the day you only earn a percentage of the product.
Why not earn 100% of the cost of a product!
Start creating your own little information products. It doesn’t have to be anything difficult. Start off with an ebook and put a PayPal ‘buy’ button on your blog and see how it goes.
I’ve done a lot of ‘jigging around’ and updating recently what with websites and my digital products, but I used to sell a few ebooks through eJunkie.com and then SendOwl.com. Both of which I recommend.
36. Start a Newsletter
Keep in touch with your subscribers and direct them to your ‘money’ blog posts once in a while.
Be consistent with the frequency of your newsletter and make sure you include lots of free information too.
I use MailerLite on my other website for my email marketing which is free up to your first 1,000 subscribers. However, there are others such as www.mailchimp.com which is free up to your first 2,000 subscribers.
37. Create Mini Sales Funnels
Set up little sales funnels via an autoresponder such as a free course and sell products at the end of the email sequence.
Do a sales funnel for individual products for best results.
I learned this technique from the lovely Yaro in his Blog Mastermind course (now no longer available).
However, there’s plenty of free information and paid courses on how to do email marketing for passive income.
38. Create a Membership Site
It doesn’t have to be anything massive or overly complicated. You can get software which specifically caters to Memberships such as WishListMember.
Membership sites are great for passive, recurring income.
Learn more about earning through your own membership site with the amazing Membership Guys.
39. Open an eCommerce Store
If you create and sell your own products why not open a separate ecommerce store.
Etsy is popular with creatives, but there’s many ecommerce solutions such as:
Of course you don’t have to create your own products to sell, many ecommerce stores buy wholesale products and sell at retail price.
40. Create Multiple Streams of Passive Income
Set up a few money channels to help you earn an automated monthly income from various different sources.
By passive I mean that you do the work once and then automatically earn money from that source constantly without you doing any extra work.
Examples of passive income streams are:
- A product review with affiliate links which is search engine optimized and gets free traffic from Google.
- A ‘how to’ tutorial which describes how you use a certain product. The reader then buys that product and you earn affiliate commissions.
- A free email course which is set up on an autoresponder and recommends a product at the end of the course.
- You have your own digital product; an ebook or online course and you recruit affiliates to do all the selling for you. This can be set up though www.ejunkie.com or www.sendowl.com.
41. Where Does Your Target Market Hang Out?
Make sure you know exactly who your target market are and where to find them Online.
Write out a description of your ideal customer and include everything about them; gender, age, marital status, interests etc.
Then find them Online. Do they cluster in Facebook groups? LinkedIn or Twitter?
What about forums? What other blogs do they like, frequent and leave blog comments on?
42. Map Out a Traffic Generating Strategy
Once you know who your ideal customer is and where to find them, just go and get em!
Facebook: Run some Facebook ads.
Facebook Groups: Participate in 3-4 Facebook groups.
Instagram: Socialise with others and influencers.
Forums: Get busy on that forum and have a link back to your blog in your byline.
Other Blogs: Ask to do a guest post on the influencers blog. You can then entice some of her readers back to your blog.
43. Set-Up a Pinterest Business Account
Pinterest is an image search engine and your target market are likely to be on there too. So think about utilizing Pinterest as part of your traffic strategy.
You’ll have to make creative images to have any chance on Pinterest, but it can be done in any niche.
44. Create a Facebook Business Page
It’s best not to use your personal Facebook account to promote your blog. Creating a Facebook business account is pretty straight forward.
Don’t forget to brand your colors, header graphic and profile image the same as your blog to keep consistency.
Think about joining Facebook groups where your target market hang out.
45. Twitter & Periscope
Get busy on Twitter and find out about their Periscope video streaming app.
Follow the main influences in your niche and start sharing their tweets, blog posts and start little conversations with them. They might just share some of your content too!
46. SEO for Google
Learn the art of SEO for your blog posts so you can eventually be found organically on Google for dozens of keywords.
47. Put Videos on YouTube
Remember to use keywords in your video titles and descriptions to have any chance of them being found.
48. Host Webinars
I’ve heard many great stories about people building a loyal following solely through webinars, unfortunately I’m too shy to do this. But if you feel that you would be good at hosting webinars, then give this a shot.
Tip: Interview influencers on your webinars and ask them to invite their readers!
49. Interview Experts
Interview experts in your niche and they should share the interview with their followers bringing traffic to your blog.
You can do good old text interviews with top bloggers, or do round-up posts where you ask a couple of dozen experts one question and then publish all the answers together in one ’round-up’ post.
50. Install a Social Sharing Plugin
I know this is also mentioned at #21 above, but make sure you have social sharing buttons on your blog. They really are paramount to help your content go viral and drive more traffic to your blog.
This is easily done via a plugin.
I use the ShareaHolic plugin.
Of course, you’ll have to write an outstanding post in order for people to share it!
51. Write a Press Release
If you have something to announce to the world, then do it through a Press Release. You never know who it will be picked up by!
PRWeb is the biggest Press Release distribution service that I know of with prices starting at $99.
52. Paid Advertising
Once set up, paid advertising automatically drives traffic to your blog on a consistent basis.
Tip: To learn how to generate more traffic to your blog, then I suggest you head over to Ana Hoffman’s Traffic Generation Cafe blog – it’s awesome!
Phew! Were you exhausted reading that, because I sure was writing it!
… but I did enjoy creating this post as I love a good checklist and that’s some blog checklist isn’t it?