A Powerful Blog Setup Checklist for Starting A Successful Blog from Scratch
I live on checklists. It’s easier to manage your day with checklists, right? The same thing goes with blogging too. If you’ve a blog set up checklist, you can easily find out ways to improve your rankings and sales.
Over the years I have created a lot of blogs. Most of them are profitable and some of them didn’t bring me even a penny. During the last 5 years, I have seen so many changes in the blog design, creating content and Google updates.
If I analyze the profitable blogs that I built over the years, I noticed that I carefully followed a checklist.
If you are setting up a new blog, here’s the most comprehensive checklist you can use to start a successful blog from scratch.
Do you really need a checklist for starting a new blog? Well, yes if you want to go in the right direction of creating a successful blog that actually makes money.
Before we begin, for beginners, I highly recommend using WordPress over any other blogging platform. It’s fast, reliable and secure. You will also have access to thousands of plugins and themes so you don’t have to be tech savvy to manage your blog.
If you want to create a blog that matters, you definitely need a solid blog setup checklist that will increase the chances of making your blog a success.
So are you ready? Let’s jump into the details.
Table of Contents
- Ultimate checklist for starting a new blog
- Define your target audience
- What’s your blog about?
- What’s your monetization strategy?
- Optimize your site for SEO
- Create an editorial calendar for your blog’s content
- Create a successful content creation strategy
- Layout a content promotion strategy
- Create a list of bloggers in your niche
- Decide 3 topics you are really passionate about
- 3 essential elements you must not ignore
- Absolutely essential pages you need to include on your blog
- Final touches to your blog
- Final thoughts about the checklist for starting a new blog
Ultimate checklist for starting a new blog
Define your target audience
Want to launch a successful blog from scratch?
Then understand what problems you can solve and define your target audience first. Once you analyze it, list out the types of customers who suffers from the problems that you can solve and start gathering information based on location, market sectors etc..
Ask yourself all types of relevant questions to understand more about your customers like who will gain more from your offer.
The days has changed a lot that, we don’t need to wait for a specific time to watch any TV show. We can watch at our convenient time and from any place in the world. So, start segmenting your market like with whom you want to work high net worth individuals or with certain geographical location people or with manufacturers, accountants etc.
To define your target audience better, look internally at your business like in what areas you have expertise, do you posses any special knowledge on any topic, Are you good at dealing certain types of people etc..
By analyzing these questions will get you an idea and helps you in establishing an attractive offering also it will be easy to know from where to start.
Look at your market to see what else you can offer. Ask question to yourself, “How can I uniquely solve the problem”. If you are unable to answer to some of the questions that are mentioned, you need to work on more before you start targeting your audience.
What’s your blog about?
Before thinking to launch a new blog, imagine your ideal blog reader. If you don’t know who you’re actually helping with your blog, you will never succeed.
It doesn’t matter whether you are blogging for money or fun, you need to find “target audience” for your blog. Once you know who you are targeting, it becomes easy for you to create top notch contents and drive more traffic to your blogs.
Here’s a great guide on finding target audience for your blog.
What’s your monetization strategy?
Building a profitable blog that makes money is not really hard if you have a clear strategy about the type of monetization strategies you want to use.
Most beginners fail to make money blogging because they don’t create a monetization strategy. They mostly consider blogging as fun and they don’t put serious efforts in building targeted audience. That’s why they fail to make money or they end up making peanuts from their blogging efforts.
Optimize your site for SEO
Once you defined your target audience, start optimizing your site for SEO. Without SEO, you can’t build a successful blog.
Write helpful content. The more content you have in your blog, the more visitors you will attract to your site. Both website visitors and search engines love the content. If you really want to please search engine, create “quality content” which means including facts, statistics, infographics, videos, tutorials etc.
One golden rule to be noted while optimizing your site for SEO is fill title tags and meta description with your seed keywords. Title tag tells search engine what your page is about. It is recommended to have 70 characters or less in title tag which includes keywords related to that page.
Meta description gives little more information about your page to search engine. When a user search for something in Google, it highlights those keywords in both title and meta description so it is very important to include.
Some of the other on-site SEO elements that you can look are: header tags, image name and alt tags and bolding some texts to get reader’s attention which also helps search engine to differentiate which is important information and other keywords in the post.
Create an editorial calendar for your blog’s content
Without a proper planning strategy, it is difficult to achieve any goal.
Even for writing your blog’s content, create an editorial calendar. How it helps?
- You can schedule your own blog posts.
- You can gather ideas.
- It helps in managing and scheduling social media posts.
- You can schedule content creation like infographics, ebooks etc.
- You can track events like conferences, holidays etc.
Editorial calendar gives inspiration to execute the ideas you have. A good editorial calendar includes:
- Details about what type of content you are publishing.
- Details of who is writing content.
- Measurements to track the goals like what you hope to achieve.
If you are using wordpress for your site, there are many editorial calendar plugins to help you.
- Editorial calendar: With this plugin, you can track the post status, can create and manage drafts very easily.. It also gives you an overview of scheduled posts where you can move via drag and drop.
- Edit flow: Wanna make editorial comments and keep track of your content budget then this plugin is the best for it.
- Co Schedule: It is the plugin which takes the functionality of other editorial calendar plugins and make it even better.
Create a successful content creation strategy
Great content is the key to building a highly successful blog. Just don’t rehash content in your niche, write problem solving contents that your audience love to connect with you.
Make sure to find great blog post ideas by using tools like Moz Open Site Explorer or Buzzsumo.
Don’t write what you think will go viral, write what your audience really wants to read. After all, successful blogging is all about caring your readers. You can also use surveys to take feedback from the readers who are relevant to your blog’s topic.
Also find a consistent blog posting frequency and stick to it. Create blog posts in advance and schedule them according to your blogging frequency to build a loyal readership around your blogs.
Layout a content promotion strategy
The one mistake most of the beginner bloggers does is they put lot of effort in writing content but don’t spend enough time in promotion.
You should follow 80/20 rule if you want to increase your brand in online. You should spend 80% of your time in promoting your blog posts and 20% of your time in writing content.
If you want your content to be seen by huge people, here is the strategy to use.
#1. Make the best use of social media: Just by looking at other bloggers profile and posts, you can tell what they are doing on social media. Make sure you follow these three tips to get success in social media.
- Observe what social media platform your audience uses the most. Never waste your time by promoting yourself where you won’t be seen at all. If your audience uses facebook, then focus on growing your page and reach out to maximum number of people.
- Optimize your posts based on social media platform. Don’t share the same post across all social media. Change promotion according to it.
- Include images. The post with images attracts more audience. So, do visual promotion too..
#2. Give something to blogging community: Join relevant pinterest group boards, facebook groups and communities like Triberr. Sharing posts here not only helps in gaining audience but also helps in building relationships with other bloggers in your niche.
#3. Build relationships with top bloggers: The best way to build relationships with top bloggers is through blog commenting. Make a list of top 20 bloggers in your niche and start commenting on their posts daily. Select 5 blogs from the list and leave thoughtful comment daily. Guest posting is yet another efficient strategy to build relationships. Spend more time on writing guest posts for other bloggers rather than on your blog.
#4. Repurpose your old content: In every post you write, give a cross link to your old posts if any relevancy. Observe which of your older posts got massive response. Rewrite your old post with infographics or videos or podcasts or images and share it on social media again.
Get more from your old posts by continually promoting them on social media. If you want to grow audience very quickly then spend more time on promoting your stuff.
Create a list of bloggers in your niche
One of the most important factors that make or break any new blog is this: your connections with other bloggers. If no one knows you, you’re going to fail miserably. Start building connections with other bloggers, create a list of 30 to 50 bloggers in your niche before launching a blog.
Why should you create a list of relevant bloggers in your niche?
- To leave blog comments: Blog commenting is the easiest way to get to know other bloggers. If you leave thoughtful comments on other blogs, you will get more traffic and you’ll also building links to your sites (even if they are of no-follow). They help you quickly index your blog posts.
- To write guest posts: To rank higher for any keyword you are targeting, you need quality links from other sites. Without having links, you simply can’t rank for a keyword by having a new blog. If you don’t rank higher for keywords, you won’t be able to generate any traffic from search engines. So make sure to write quality guest posts for others in your niche to quickly build good links.
- To connect with them on social media: Social media is the new SEO. If you are a beginner, social media sites like Facebook, twitter can help you increase your blog traffic. Write great headlines and you will attract more people to read your blog posts. If you are connecting with top bloggers in your niche and if they somehow like your posts and tweet about them, you will get a ton of traffic that will impact your overall SEO.
- To build strong relationships: Relationships with other bloggers go a long way. Even if you want to spread your brand awareness offline, you can use your online connections. So start considering blogging as a way to grow your name instead of thinking it just as a money making source.
Decide 3 topics you are really passionate about
The most common question I get from new bloggers is, “what do I blog about?”.
If you’re also one among them, this article helps you.
My suggestion for any new blogger is to pick any 3 topics that you absolutely love to talk about. Think about any 3 topics that you are really passionate to blog about (even if your efforts are not bringing you money or traffic). It’s easier to build a profitable blog if you spend quality time on crafting great contents.
3 essential elements you must not ignore
#1. Pick a memorable domain and use the best web hosting
I know choosing a good domain name is really hard. If you’re on a limited budget, getting a great domain name for your blog is almost impossible. Here are few solid tips for getting a domain name that matters.
- Pick a domain name that is easy to remember and type
- Avoid numbers and hyphens
- Always choose .com extension
- Search for your favorite domains on ExpiredDomains.com (and try your luck to get a great domain on a limited budget)
- Use domain suggestion tools like Domainr.com for finding domains quickly
Web hosting is another crucial factor that will highly impact your search engine rankings as well as your website loading times. I would strongly recommend you Bluehost for all your hosting solutions. They not only give you a free domain name but they are also the most reliable leading web hosting providers.
#2. An appealing design
Whether you know it or not, design is the king online. If you have an appealing design for your blog, you’re already halfway succeeded in quickly grabbing attention of the first time visitors.
I highly recommend Elegant themes if you want to get your hands on a large number of themes at a low price.
#3. Must-have plugins
There are over 20,000 plugins available on WordPress directory. WordPress is known for its plugins.
Here are few plugins I’d recommend.
- Akismet (to stop spam comments)
- SEMrush (a detailed review of how it increased our traffic by over 5000 visits a month)
- Contact Form 7 (to easily create contact page)
- Long tail Pro (to find long tail keywords to increase your search traffic)
- XML sitemaps (to create a sitemap for your blog to quickly index your posts by Google)
Absolutely essential pages you need to include on your blog
About page: Without having an about page, how can someone even know who you are and what you like. Make sure to create an about page before even launching the blog and tell your readers how can you serve them. Most beginners write all fluff on their about pages. Make your about pages about your readers, not you!
Services/products page: If you want to build a profitable blog, make sure to include service page or hire me page from day 1 on your blog. Offering services through your blog (like content writing, logo design or anything you can offer) is the quickest way to make money from blogging.
Contact page: This is a must. Provide your contact page at the top or bottom of your blog where your readers or visitors can easily find your contact page to get in touch with you.
Final touches to your blog
So far, we’ve discussed about a lot of essential things from creating target audience to installing few must have plugins on your blog. Now, we’ll talk about few more things that matters a lot for launching your blog.
Attention grabbing logo: Use site like Fiverr to get amazing logos for your blog for just $5. A great logo is a must if you want to create a professional design for your blog to attract more audience. Try to include a tagline for your blog in your logo design to make it easy for readers to understand what your blog is about at first glance.
Set up social media accounts: Once you set up your blog, create social media links on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ etc. Try to name the pages on social media sites similar to your blog name to get prominent results for your blog on Google search results.
Add Google Analytics: If you want to find out where your visitors are coming, you need to add Google analytics to your blog. Setting it up is easy by following this guide.
Build an email list from day 1: If you want to make more money from your blog, you need to create a lot of passive income streams. To get it done, you need a thriving email list. Every top affiliate marketer and blogger in any industry makes majority of their money using their email lists. So start building email list from day 1 if you want to make money blogging even when you sleep.
Make sure your blog is both mobile and search friendly: After mobile-friendly update from Google, every website owner is now more focused on making their blog design mobile responsive. If you don’t want to lose traffic from mobile visitors, make sure to create a mobile friendly site. Search engine friendly design includes faster loading pages, mobile responsive and better navigation.
Final thoughts about the checklist for starting a new blog
From my experience, I can say that, to create successful blog from scratch, you need a solid blueprint (I call it as a blog setup checklist).
And you MUST follow a proper checklist if you are starting a brand new blog. Why? The reason is simple, by following a blog setup checklist, you will know what to do and most importantly what NOT to do.
By having an ultimate checklist for starting a brand new blog, you can create better content, drive more visitors from search engines and create long lasting relations with other bloggers in your niche.
So what do you think? Do you find this checklist useful for starting a successful blog from scratch? If you have any questions, shoot them up in the comments below and I’d be glad to respond.