This is the checklist you probably think of when you’re looking for a checklist to start your blog. It contains the nuts and bolts. If any of the tasks are beyond your capabilities consider outsourcing it, especially if it’s something you’ll do only once or infrequently. It may be less expensive in terms of time and effort if you consider what it will take to learn it yourself. This checklist, or portions of it, can be used to help identify the requirements you need to find someone to do the job as well as giving them a guide to use and checking their work.
Recommended sources to outsource work:
- 99designs (Logo and other graphics work)
- Virtual Staff Finder (Chris has a great program to locate longer term hires.)
Note: All links in this checklist are vetted , i.e., I personally use them or they’ve been used by people and businesses I trust.
Update: View (and print) the Checkvist version of this checklist here.
Checklist 5.0: Blog Set-Up
5.1. Identify Your Blog's Desired Capabilities and Elements. This is about the blog itself. What you want it to do, how do you want it to look. By identifying capabilities and elements, you're less likely to get distracted by bells and whistles and other "shiny things" and just might save yourself time and money.
5.2. Select and Purchase Domain Name.
5.3. Purchase Hosting and record login information.
5.4. Configure eMail. Note: Although you may have set-up a GMail account earlier, use this one when interacting with your audience for a more professional and polished look.
5.5. Install and configure WordPress
5.5.1. Install WordPress through Host Account cPanel
- Clean, easy to read layout
- Favor white or off-white background, NOT black
- /%category%/%postname%/ (if your categories are keyword optimized) otherwise,
5.5.2. Get and Record Your WordPress API Keys
5.5.3. Configure WordPress. Access the following tabs on the left side of the WordPress Dashboard.
184.108.40.206. Posts Tab.
220.127.116.11.1. Posts: Delete default "Hello World" post
18.104.22.168.2. Categories: Add category topics if you have them.
22.214.171.124. Links Tab. Edit Blogroll. Remove the default list and replace it with your own. Tip: As you add links, set "Target" to "_blank" to open in new window so site visitors don't leave your site.
126.96.36.199. Appearance Tab.
188.8.131.52.1. Browse for and select a theme
Free Themes (Generally not as customizable and offer fewer features but worth a look)
184.108.40.206.2. Install Themes Tab.
220.127.116.11.2.1. Upload and activate your theme.
18.104.22.168.2.2. Upload specialized graphics (e.g., logo).
22.214.171.124.2.3. Tweak layout.
126.96.36.199.3. Widgets. Remove "Meta" in the sidebar (because you have better things to put there)
188.8.131.52.4. Editor. Record all the codes (font, link, background, etc) from the stylesheet (see Stylesheet in the right column) to save time in the future when you need to look up those elements. Having it in an easy-to-find file is a lot easier than loading up WordPress and hunting it down.
184.108.40.206. Plugins Tab: Download, install, and activate plugins
Note: This is a list of the most common plugins used for a new blog. I encourage you to go to each plugin's link and read at least the description to get a better understanding of what it does. Additionally, after adding a plugin, retest previously installed plugins to ensure they continue to work. Also note any effects to your theme. If the plugin has any adverse effects, check the plugin's forum comments at WordPress.org for possible solutions. If it still doesn't work correctly, deactivate/delete it and search for an alternative plugin/solution. Also, avoid plugins you don’t need (hence, the idea of identifying capabilities). Together they could slow down or even break your blog.
220.127.116.11.1. Delete "Hello Dolly" plugin
18.104.22.168.2. Akismet. Loaded but inactive with the default WordPress install, this plugin prevents spam commenting. Note: This plugin requires a WordPress API key acquired in 5.5.2. to enable its function.
22.214.171.124.3. All-In-One SEO. Edit title, description, and keywords for your blog as well as individual posts and pages.
126.96.36.199.4. FD Feedburner Plugin redirects your RSS feeds through Feedburner allowing you to track all RSS subscribers. Get a Feedburner account.
188.8.131.52.5. Pretty Link Lite. Cleans up and shorten links. Also has tracking functions you can use to determine how many times a page or downloaded file was accessed.
184.108.40.206.6. Robots Meta. Designates if a post or page should be indexed by the search engines.
220.127.116.11.7. Share Bar. Help your audience share their find on Facebook, Twitter, email, and others.
18.104.22.168.8. Broken Link Checker. Check your site for broken links.
22.214.171.124.9. Google Sitemap Generator. Generates an XML sitemap that helps search engines better index your blog. Additionally, it notifies all the major search engines every time you create and post new content.
126.96.36.199.10. W3 Total Cache. Now that Google considers the time your site to loads, this is a worthwhile plugin to ensure content is dished out as fast as it can.
188.8.131.52.11. Subscribe To Comments Reloaded. Enables readers to sign up to recieve e-mail when comments are made to a post. A great way to keep your readers in the loop and returning to the conversation.
184.108.40.206.12. cformsII. Use this plugin to build forms to collect information from your readers including a contact page.
220.127.116.11.14. Print Friendly and PDF Button. Consider installing to allow your audience the ability to print your article cleanly.
18.104.22.168.15. EZPZ One Click Backup. Used to backup your WordPress site
22.214.171.124.16. WordPress Mobile Edtion. If your audience tends to read stuff on the go, consider adding this plugin to give them a more reader-friendly experience on their phone.
126.96.36.199.17. What Would Seth Godin Do. This will display a custom welcome message to new visitors.
188.8.131.52.18. Track and Evaluate Performance
184.108.40.206.18.2. Google Analytics Plugin. Evaluate your traffic and marketing effectiveness. Get a Google Analytics account before installing the plugin.
220.127.116.11.18.3. WordPress.com Stats. Helps understand your traffic. Note: Requires the WordPress API key.
18.104.22.168.18.1. Google Webmasters Tool Account. Get detailed information about your blog as Google sees it. Some of the features include diagnosing potential problems that impact your search ranking, viewing links to your site from other sites, identifying the top search queries bringing users to your site, getting suggestions for improving your site's HTML, and checking to see if your site's been hacked.
22.214.171.124. Pages Tab: Those admin pages you created earlier? Upload or configure them now.
126.96.36.199.2. Contact (use cformsII plugin)
188.8.131.52.5. Any others you may have written
184.108.40.206. Users Tab:
220.127.116.11.1. Users : Add New. Add a new user as an administrator with a strong password. Note: "Admin" is the most common username making it vulnerable to a hacker attack. Either delete it after you've established your own unique username or change the admin user's role to "Subscriber"
18.104.22.168.2. While you're here edit your profile such as the email address.
22.214.171.124. Settings Tab:
126.96.36.199.1.1. Enter Blog Title and Tagline. Tip: Optimize the tagline with keywords.
188.8.131.52.1.2. Enter email address.
184.108.40.206.1.3. Change the Date and Time options to your local area.
220.127.116.11.2. Writing. Add these Ping Services located at bottom of Writing page.
18.104.22.168.3. Reading. Configure with Feedburner plugin previously installed. Tip: Use “Full Text,” vice “Summary” RSS feeds.
22.214.171.124.4.1. Default Article Settings: Select all.
126.96.36.199.4.2. Other Comment Settings
188.8.131.52.4.2.1. Select “Comment author must fill out name and e-mail” (to discourage spam)
184.108.40.206.4.2.2. Select “Enable threaded (nested) comments…”
220.127.116.11.4.3. Select e-Mail me whenever: “A comment is held for moderation”
18.104.22.168.4.4. Before a comment appears:
22.214.171.124.4.4.1. Consider selecting "An administrator must always approve the comment."
126.96.36.199.4.4.2. Deselect "Comment author must have a previously approved comment"
188.8.131.52.4.5. Comment moderation: "Hold a comment in the queue if it contains 2 or more links."
184.108.40.206.5. Privacy. Check that "I would like my site to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Bing, Technorati) and archivers" is selected.
220.127.116.11.6. Permalinks. Change Permalink Structure. For readability and SEO benefits use either:
18.104.22.168.1. Create a Favicon
22.214.171.124.2. Get a Gravatar. Avatars are often your virtual identity in the blog world.
126.96.36.199. Backup/Clone your WordPress install. Now that the inner workings are set, back it up using the EZPZ plugin previously installed.
5.5.4. Upload and schedule posts for publication.
188.8.131.52. Test your links.
5.5.5. Email / Autoresponder. If you've decided to publish a newsletter or some other opt-in list AND you have some content for it, purchase a service such as Aweber and configure it now.
Congratulations! You're online!
Update: This series is now available in a printable PDF by subscribing to my newsletter (below). Not only can you print them out but receive updates to get the latest info on launching your blog.
Let’s discuss. Throw down a comment if:
It was useful…or not
Something is not quite right (content, order, etc.)
Tasks were overlooked
Tasks require more/less explanation
You have ideas for improvement (content, format, etc.)
It sparked an idea.
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