You have now installed your WordPress blog and it is online for anyone with the URL to see. You may be thinking that you are all ready to go live, publish content and create your own empire, but installing WordPress is just the first step in your blogging career. To make your launch successful there are several elements you need to keep in mind. This is a list of must-haves you need to take care of before publishing your first article to make your new blog awesome.
Check out here for a detailed list of things to do after starting a new WordPress blog.
Make an introductory page where you explain about your project, about yourself and what your site helps people with. Tell people what your purpose and your mission is. Don’t be shy, include a picture of yourself. If possible get a professional to take a high-quality picture. If I go to your about page, how long will take me to find the purpose of your site? Is it clear within the first seconds, or do I have to read through endless paragraphs to find out? The more concise and kick-ass your story, the easier it will be for your readers to promote you.
Make a page where people can get in touch with you. Contact Form 7 is the plugin I usually use to add a contact form to a page like this. It can even be inserted into your about page. It is very simple and effective. This will be very useful in order to get reader feedback, to get connected to other bloggers and maybe even to attract sponsors.
Do you need more pages?
Depending on the style and the topic of your blog you might want to add more pages. Many blogs have a “New? Start Here” type of a page where they introduce a first-time visitor to the topic with a simple and beginner friendly overview. Some have pages that focus on attracting customers such as Consulting page or Services page that list details on your products and allow people to book an appointment.
Create a Sitemap
Your sitemap lists all the posts and pages that are accessible for search engines to crawl and index. Basically having a sitemap helps Google and other search engines learn more about your content and hopefully also send you more traffic. I usually use Google XML Sitemaps plugin to create a sitemap.
Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a useful tool to track and analyse your visitors. It provides you a lot of data to see where they find your content, a lot of geographical data, how visitors like your content and much more. This data will help you make better future decisions such as what type of content to publish, where to go in order to attract more readers and more.
Add the URL to Google Webmaster Tools
Webmaster Tools is useful tool to track the progress of your site in search engines and also for Google to provide you with feedback on what you can improve. One of the first things I do there is to verify my URL and submit the sitemap. Then I regularly keep an eye on this as Google sends messages according to what kind of things they discover. Keeping an eye on these messages helps you stay on top and quickly react to warnings such as potential spam attack or similar.
Create Social Media Profiles
Create profiles on Twitter, Facebook and/or any other social media platform where your target audience is. Make sure to link back to your URL from the profiles and vice versa. Don’t just create profiles at every social media site, be focused on sites with most potential. Introduce consistent branding elements to these profiles from your own site. This will help you promote your site better and will be your main point for attracting visitors to your new content.
Positioning and branding elements
There are some other key elements that are worth considering when creating a new blog. These are your positioning – what is the purpose of your blog? Who do you help and how are you different from all the other competitors? This leads you towards easier implementation of different designs aspects, the way you create content and most of the other day to day decisions can be guided by this. For more see this guide.
Get a great design theme
Some of the above branding decisions will lead you towards design choices such as color, font etc. This means you will be ready to start looking at the different design theme options. WordPress has thousands of them. For a complete step-by-step process on choosing the design that fits take a look here.
Play around with the different plugin options
After the initial design aspect has been taken care of, you can start tinkering with the theme of your choice. The easiest way to do that, to make changes and to add new features and functionality is to use one of the many WordPress plugins. For a list of tested and recommended plugins that you can start with go here.
Write your first post
Then write the second one. Then the third one. The content is everything so you must start building lots of content that attracts visitors. Beware that your first post might suck, but keep doing it. You will learn from your initial mistakes. You will become better at knowing what people want and you will become better at creating content that satisfies the needs of your audience. Follow this checklist of things to do before publishing a new post. It is useful if you create a content calendar and choose a schedule you want to post on. I have been posting 3 times a week for more than a year after starting this blog. It creates a momentum and helps you attract and build a loyal audience.
Add some great imagery to your content
Never forget that the web is a very visual place. Especially in social media, using great imagery helps you cut through the noise and attract more attention to your own content. Make sure each and every post you publish features at least one social media friendly image. For details check out this guide.
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That’s it. You are on the roll and ready to conquer a piece of the online world. I hope that these tips give you a good head start. After you write the first few articles is where all the fun (read: hard work) starts. You need to promote your content, you need to continue writing new posts regularly and optimise everything as you go along and learn. It is a fun ride though. So do enjoy it. Good luck!