As a new blogger, you typically have a to-do list at least 120 items deep. It comes with the territory. It seems like you never have a chance to catch your breath or knock some of those items off the list.
With that said, there are a few things you have to do when you first get your blog going. Consider these the crucial first steps (in no particular order) to addressing what your new blog is missing.
Create a Logo or Header Image
Let’s face it. The first thing everyone does when they finally create their little corner of the web is to put up some window dressing. You want to stamp it and call it yours, right?
What better way to do that than to throw up a custom image on your homepage. This may come in the form of a logo or a simple graphic at the top of your page.
It will be your choice how fancy you go with this.
Just, for the love of God, take some pride in it and make sure it looks good – DAMN GOOD.
It’s the first thing visitors to your site see. Make sure it pops, is professional, and portrays what you are all about.
Start Your Mailing List
If you plan on selling anything, at any time, get a mailing list. This is the number one tool in building an online business and something that new blogs are typically missing.
Having a mailing list allows you to have the ultimate connection point with your audience. They have given you access to their email inbox – a personal relationship more than any other way of reaching people. It’s much more powerful, and effective, than simply reaching out via Facebook Ads or other traditional marketing methods.
Almost every entrepreneur online states that the money is in the list. Get your list wired up and running ASAP.
I use MailChimp for my mailing list because it offers quite a bit of functionality at the free level. Check it out. You can always upgrade to a more robust system once your list grows.
Build Your Core Pages
There are certain pages every online business needs. These pages are consistent across most markets and serve as standard mechanisms to learn more about the person, the business, and are quite frankly expected to be there by your visitors.
There are 2 pages every online business should have.
The first page you need to create is your About page. This is the page that tells a little bit about yourself, your business, and what the person can expect by visiting your page. Check out my About page as an example.
The second page you should have on your blog is the Contact Me page. As people visit your site, you want to make sure you provide them the means of contacting you.
If you don’t you are basically turning away business. Don’t do that.
Get Your Key Plugins Up and Running
Plugins provide technical features for your blog and many times run behind the scenes. Here are some of the key plugin categories, and particular ones I use, to help get your blog in a position to move forward with lower risk and a better user experience.
- Spam Filtering – If you offer visitors the opportunity to post comments, you’ll want to make sure you have a tool in place to keep all of the junk off your blog. Trust me, there is a ton of it. I use a plugin from Akismet to help control the amount of spam on my blog.
- Blog Backup – Look, no one likes to think about losing all of our data, but it happens. You need to implement a backup tool ASAP. It isn’t that hard either. Each day you wait takes you closer to the next site failure. I use a nice plugin that backs up my site to DropBox. It’s called WordPress to DropBox (wp2db). Creative, right?
- Social Sharing – Just as you need a way for folks to contact you via your Contact page, you also need an easy way for them to share your message. The easiest way to to this is to implement a plugin that puts social media icons on your posts and pages. This allows people to click a button and immediately share your post with their audience. Brilliant! I use a beautiful icon set called Simple Social Icons.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – You will do a great deal of marketing your content but there are millions of people that won’t find you that way. Let Google bring them to you. The best way to get them to find you is to rank higher in their search engines. In order to do that, you need to have a strategy around particular keywords. Implementing a SEO plugin makes creating keyword rich blog posts much easier. The most popular plugin, and the one I use, is Yoast SEO.
- (Optional) Speed Up Your Site – An additional plugin you may want to look at is a caching plugin. These plugins make your site render faster to the end user by caching particular data. This makes the data readily available and as a result the overall user experience is much better. People hate to wait. Speed up your site and they are much more happy and may actually come back. Load slow and you will probably never see them again. I use a plugin called W3TotalCache for my speed needs. The only reason I have it as optional is I have had some problems with conflicts between W3TotalCache and other vendor plugins. Some things just don’t want to be cached I guess!
One of the hard truths of blogging is you will constantly be updating your site. Whether it is patches or new theme functionality, it’s an ongoing task. Treat it like a house plant, feed it from time to time and pay attention to it. Make sure your blog is not missing critical functionality and you’re online platform will grow stronger with each passing day.