10 Important To Do When You Start a Blog (Checklist!)


starting a blog

This is definitely not a technical post on how to set up a blog. Can’t help you there! However, there are plenty of resources out there. However, this is just a short checklist for things to do once you start a blog.

Recently, I was talking to Megan, who I met on Instagram because we both have dystonia (different types). After reading her brand new blog, I had a few suggestions for her, so I thought I would come up with a quick checklist for new bloggers!

  1. Create a new email. This email should only be used for blog communications. You can list it on your blog, email other bloggers, and interact with brands through this email. Don’t mix your personal email and new blog email. I was able to set my email up through my domain (I don’t know how – my husband did it), but a simple gmail that is related to your blog’s name should suffice.
  2. Get a headshot! You will need a picture that you can use everywhere. Even if you just have a friend try to take a few flattering photos of you or crop a photo from someone’s wedding, pick a flattering photo, make any edits (the ability to make it square is important because a lot of places want square photos) is important.
  3. Limit yourself to two “usernames.” Your Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and all social media should go together. I know it’s not possible to always get the same name everywhere, but try to keep it consistent. Shorter names are better, so if you’re having a Twitter conversation, half the tweet won’t be take up with your handle. Also, use the same profile picture everywhere.
  4. Since most people already have social media accounts, decide if you’re going to incorporate your current accounts or create new ones. I never thought about this at first. After a few months of blogging, I was interested in growing my blog through my Instagram, so I started to promote it. However, later, I realized that it was kind of creepy that people could just scroll back through years of pictures. So, I created a separate account. In hindsight, I wish that I’d made my handle shorter. It’s easy to change, but that would require updating a lot of profiles.
  5. Set up a Gravatar account with your new email and new profile picture. That way, when you leave comments, which you’ll find out how important that is later, your picture will show up! Pictures will make you stand out and keep your brand consistent. This will help you when you comment on any system.
  6. If you are NOT on Blogger, read up on how NOT to be a no-reply blogger. This took me several attempts, but I finally got it. Basically, you make a fake blog (you will need a gmail address to get started, but you can use any email as your reply email later) and use your new email and picture, so when you comment on a Blogger blog, you’ll know if the person replies. Go to this post and look at the third section. The screenshots are PERFECT.
  7. Start reading blogs! You don’t have to comment, yet. You can start by reading “big” blogs. Then start checking out other commenters, people on the sidebars, etc. Over time, you’ll start to read people who you connect with. I’ll have a follow up post on this!
    >>> You don’t need to copy these blogs, but the more you read, the more ideas you’ll get. You’ll start to see what you like and don’t like.
  8. Research Link Ups. These are premade content for you, plus you’ll have a chance to find new blogs because most ask you to comment on a few others. They change a lot, based on the hosts’ schedules, but a few that I like are:
    Grateful Mondays
    Wednesday Wishes
    Weeks End (your favorite post you wrote from the last week)
    Blogger Love (share 5 favorite posts from other bloggers)
    Between the Lines (a monthly book club link up with good discussion questions)
    Top Ten Tuesdays (if you LOVE books like me, these are prompts about books. The topics are posted in advance, so you can get several ready!)
    > Basically, the link ups are endless. There are link ups for recipes, crafts, and any interest you might have. Things like Weeks End, Five on Friday, or any type of Currently or Coffee Date link up will expose you to new bloggers. You could probably have a blog of nothing but link ups, but it’s nice to mix it up.
    Here are tips on finding more!
    > Check out the top of blog pages because some people keep lists.
    > Google!
    > Check out Twitter hashtags. You might miss the first one, but you’ll know when the next one is.
    > As you read blogs, you’ll see people participating and you can put it on your calendar to participate in ones that interest you.
  9. Make sure your blog is visually appealing. Have your headshot at the top, links to social media under that, and any other things you want on your sidebar. Less is more, but don’t leave it bare. A busy blog is a blog that people don’t want to read. (I’m not kidding, I read a post about that, but only about 20% of the page was dedicated to text. The orange and blue didn’t help, either).
  10. Have fun! This is your hobby! Maybe you’ll make money. Maybe you won’t. But, if you do it right, you’ll make friends. Stay tuned for how to find your blogging community from scratch!

 

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

Categories: blogging Tags: ,
5 Easy and Small Changes to Make Your Blog Better


As a blogger and avid blog reader, I’ve noticed a few things that are missing from even the best blogs.

Better Blog: 5 Easy & Small Changes to Make Your Blog Better {And Easier to Share!}

At first, I thought that there was a reason for things that I thought were “common sense” to be missing. Since the bloggers were much more experienced than me, I asked them about some of these things. Guess what. They hadn’t thought of it! There are so many things that go into creating a blog – past just writing posts – so even the best bloggers miss a thing or two.

I thought that I would share a few common mistakes that are easy to change because I find myself sending a quick email to a friend to remind her to that she might want to make that change. Now, I’ll just send a link 😉

Most of these tips have to do with enhancing your blog to make it easier for current readers to share or new readers to catch up! Feel free to leave your tips in the comments!

5 Easy and Small Changes for a Better Blog:

  • Add sharing buttons. There are tons and tons of ones to chose from, depending upon what platform you use, but you really need them.
  • Adjust the settings of the sharing buttons. I can’t count how many times I go to share a post through Twitter and it says “via @sharethis.” Then, I have to track down the blogger’s Twitter account, so I can give them the appropriate credit. So, I am less likely to share, especially if it is a lot of work to find your handle (see the social media button tips below!)

You can even adjust the “Tweet This” plug-in setting (I figured that out while I was writing this post!) to include your handle, too! I notice that feature is missing on a lot of people’s “Tweet This” sentences, too.

  • Since people are visual, try having a “start here” page that has your favorite posts with images (all the same size and shape) or place images that link to your favorite posts on your sidebar. These get the most clicks, especially from new visitors.
    **If people are interested, I can write a post about how I made my sidebar pictures that link to my favorite posts on my WordPress blog**
  • Keep your front page “about me” that’s under your picture short, sweet, and unique. Liking coffee isn’t unique – tell me why you blog, what you blog about, or why you show up to your blog day after day! Don’t forget to link to your longer “about me” page!
  • Finally, don’t forget to have your social media buttons at the top of your sidebar, under your picture! People may want to track you down on Twitter (like when I want to share you posts), follow you on IG (because I think you take fantastic pictures), or stalk you on Goodreads (because I love books and think you have good taste). Just make sure those buttons are there!

What easy tips would you give a new (or experienced) blogger to make their blog more easy to share or navigate? What kinds of things do you run into a lot, but wish people would fix? (Like how I wish people would not have via @sharethis)

 

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

Categories: blogging Tags: ,
Favorite WordPress Plugins 2014

These are my favorite WordPress Plugins, as of 2014. (Don’t you hate when you pull up a post that is 5 years old and the plugins are out of date?)

favorite wordpress plugins

Add Signature

Alpine PhotoTile for Instagram

CommentLuv

nrelate Related Content

WordPress Editorial Calendar

WordPress SEO By Yoast

I use a ton of plugins, but these are my favorite by far. I’ve listed them alphabetically, but I am not sure what I would do without the WordPress Editorial Calendar anymore. I tried the pen and paper calendar, but it just got scratched to pieces! Additionally, I think using CommentLuv is just a really nice way to help promote other bloggers who comment on your blog. Plus, it doesn’t have the annoying captcha!

 

What are your favorite plugins, if you use WordPress? If you don’t, what do you use and why?

Categories: blogging Tags: , ,