New bloggers can feel overwhelmed with so much information about what they should or shouldn’t be doing. From a blogger who’s been there and done that, here are seven things that you should be doing as a new blogger to build a foundation for a successful blog.
Having a blog of your own is exciting, but challenging. There’s so much to learn and do. On top of that, there’s no shortage of information suggesting what you should be doing as a new blogger. It can get really confusing and overwhelming fast!
From this new blogger who’s been there, I’ve learned a few things that I think other new bloggers can benefit from. Everything from activities that are time-wasters to things that I’ve neglected to consider early on, I’m sharing my list of seven things new bloggers should be doing to set themselves up for success.
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Start With A Good Platform
To save yourself a lot of future re-work, it’s best to start your new blog on a good platform. For most bloggers, that’s going to be WordPress.org.
It’s important to mention that there are actually two WordPress platforms – WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I wrote a post about the two platforms, but here is a key difference. WordPress.com offers a free, basic plan, but there are limitations in terms of monetizing your site. In order to do that, you would need to upgrade to a paid plan.
WordPress.org requires that you have hosting for your site, which you have to pay for. But, once your site is set up, you can decide how to monetize your site, whether to include paid ads, etc. To learn how to set up your blog site, check out this tutorial.
Be sure to explore the different platforms that you’re considering, and choose the one that best fits your plans for your blog – both current and future.
Plan For Growth
This brings us to the next point – plan for growth. As a new blogger, you might be thinking “Growth? I just want someone to read my blog.” But, look ahead, stay optimistic and create an approach that considers the future growth of your blog.
A good way to do this is to write out a plan for the things you’d like to incorporate into your blog in the future. Some of those things might include:
- Other products (like ebooks, printables, etc.)
Once you have a picture of what you might want to do with your blog, long-term, you’ll be able to better plan for it’s future.
Focus Your Niche
If your goal is to eventually make money from your blog, then it’s vital that you focus your blog’s niche. Here’s an easy, three-step plan to help you do that:
- Identify your top 3 to 5 topics that you’ll blog about. For example, this blog’s primary focus is on side hustles. But you’ll also find content on productivity, entrepreneurship, personal finance and blogging, as they relate to side hustles.
- Create content categories in WordPress for these 3 to 5 topics. To see what this looks like on a real blog, check out the “Categories” link on the top menu of this site
- Write content on these topics to maintain the focus and build authority for your site.
Think About SEO
You may have heard of SEO, or you may even be somewhat familiar with it. Whatever your SEO experience, think about SEO for your blog sooner rather than later.
It’s much easier to do things the right way from the start, then to go back and course correct. (As someone who is working through a site audit to correct my SEO mistakes, I can’t emphasize this enough.)
While SEO is a broad and complex topic, for new bloggers there are four areas to focus on when you’re getting started.
- On page – This is what you do on each page and post on your site to maximize it’s SEO for Google and other search engines. (But, mainly Google.)
- Site structure – Strive for a clean site structure. This include silos for your content (see the previous section on how to create categories – aka silos). You’ll also want to set your site up with Google Analytics, so that you can start tracking your traffic. Check out this post on how to set this up on your site.
- Keyword research – Be sure to research keywords for your posts and pages to help with SEO. Google has a free keyword tool that is excellent.
- Yoast SEO plugin – Once you have your WordPress site set up, you can add the Yoast SEO plugin. The basic plugin is free, and it works really well to help you analyze your on page SEO for each post and page.
Because SEO is such an extensive topic, and so critical to your site, I highly recommend the Stupid Simple SEO course. I have personally purchased and used this course to help improve my SEO, and feel that it has made the process so much more effective and efficient.
Set Up Tracking Systems
Another new blogger habit that great to establish from the beginning is setting up and using tracking systems. For this site, I have set up an Excel spreadsheet with 3 tabs. One is for my site silos, the next is for affiliate links and the third is for affiliate link tracking.
For the silos spreadsheet, I have a column for each category with the corresponding posts listed under each one. As I add a new post, I also add it to the spreadsheet. This helps me to see how many posts I have in each category (silo) and which posts I should interlink to within each category. It also helps me make sure that I’m only including a post in one category, which helps with SEO.
For affiliate links, I have a column labeled “Page Name”, and then a column for each affiliate program that I’m signed up for. I have each post and page on my site in the first column, and then I place an “X” in each column where there’s an affiliate link in that post or page.
This is very helpful if you need to update your affiliate links, as happened to me recently with three different affiliates. Instead of trying to remember where the links were and quite possibly missing a few, I just go to my spreadsheet.
For affiliate information, I list each affiliate, the details (i.e., cookie length, payout rate, etc.) and the affiliate link. Then, if I decide to add an affiliate link to a post or page, I just find the link on the spreadsheet.
If there are other activities related to your blog that you think you should track, I would recommend starting that early on and making it a best practice.
Start Your Email List
Don’t wait until you have lots of traffic to start your list. Help yourself engage with your early adopters by starting your email list when you launch your blog.
This site has used ConvertKit from the beginning. I’ve been very happy with the platform and service. The basic monthly fee is $29, but you can get a free trial using this link.
After you’ve started your email list, be sure to schedule regular emails to stay engaged. It took me awhile to get into this practice, but I’m glad that I did.
Focus On One Social Media Platform
While I’d recommend you set up accounts for all of the different social media platforms you plan to use, it’s generally better to focus on one platform to start with. Then, once you’re established on that platform, you can add others.
I started on Pinterest, which I think is the best for new bloggers. I then added Instagram, and recently started posting to Twitter. It will take time to build your following, but it helps to give yourself that time and build gradually as you go.
Focus your new blogger time and energy on activities that will help build your blog’s foundation. Be intentional with your time, and persistent in your new blogger habits. All of these will help you establish useful practices that will contribute to success.
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