The Ultimate Checklist to Setting Up a New WordPress Blog

Blogging has evolved over the years to becoming a cultural thing. Each blog represents the voice of someone passionate (at least I hope that each blogger is passionate about what they do) about what they like to write about. However, it is no longer just open up a new blog and write away. There are tools that bloggers should use that can help their site. Here is an ultimate checklist to setting up a new WordPress Blog.

Please note that this checklist covers several areas for a blogging and not directed toward a singular blog niche. The areas of the checklist are separated into the following areas.

  • Focus of Site
  • Branding and Design of Site
  • Security
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media

Focus of Site

Without a focus, why bother having a website? Your readers would be confused on what to expect on your site. It is okay to have a blog that has random topics, but focus boils down to several areas.

  • What the site is about?
  • Who are you trying to reach? (your target audience)
  • What do you want to do with your website? (your goals for your site)

Each one of these areas are what you will always turn to as it is much like a business plan. You want people to do something on your site whether it be share, comment, subscribe, or buy something. Without establishing the answers to each of these questions, you cannot master how to convert your site’s visitors to the areas of your site that you truly want them to visit.

So, in a way, this is where you do your brainstorming.

For this area, please feel free to read more on site focus in the other articles on my site:

Branding and Design of Site

People connect and remember brands that have done something to get them to react. Aside from the obvious products or services that a brand may provide, with online blogs, it can be done through:

  • Site Name
  • Design / WordPress Theme

Your site name is of course going to say something about you or the services you provide. Whether you are focusing on optimizing it for search engines or in the case of this site, Blondish.net, you are wanting something memorable for people to associate you with, it all ties into branding. Once you have chosen a name that fits what you do, you need to be consistent with how your brand is portrayed. For example, if you provide internet technical services, obviously, you do not want people to confuse you with fashion.

The design of your website is definitely factor with branding. It IS a virtual business card. People should be able to come to your site and within the first minute, get a clear gist of what you are about. Design can be from the actual graphics of the site and logo, to even how your site is organized or viewable in multiple browsers including mobile devices.

In this section for branding and design, some of these articles may help you.

Security

Billions of people are online, and some of them are not very nice. Your blog can be at risk if you do not take serious action to prevent your site being hacked. The number one piece of advice when running a WordPress powered blog is to make sure it is up to date. After that, your plugins and theme need to be up to date. This is the first line of defense.

Of course, you definitely can harden you WordPress site’s security with hardening techniques or even security and anti-spam plugins. I normally suggest Growmap Anti-Spam Plugin and Akismet (which is provided by default with each WordPress installation) for handling comment spam. However, Akismet tends to produce false positives, which means that you may be missing comments from people who are really not spammers. There are other plugins out there, but I have found them to be a bit bulky and therefore, not really a viable option for larger blogs.

Hardening the security of your site usually involves placing code snippets in the htaccess file of your web hosting account that prevent spammers or other people from accessing specific areas of your WordPress blog or even the backend administration area.

Feel free to check out my article on hardening or securing your WordPress site.

Another issue with security involves with who you allow to use your website. If you have a multi-author website, you will need to pay attention to what roles you are giving them and furthermore, what they can do on your site through that role. Role Manager plugin does a great job of specifying in detail what a person can and cannot do.

Another great plugin is Login Lockdown. Please note that from the time this article has been published that the plugin has not been updated in 2 years, so use at your own risk

Search Engine Optimization

A lot of people use to believe search engine optimization was based on just backlinking and tweaking your content. It is more than that. It involves:

  • Keywords
  • Linking from within your site and outside of your site
  • You site’s design and organization
  • How much engagement and syndication is going on about your site.

When you planned your site, you have to know what keywords you want to focus on in order to make sure that it is listed correctly. For example, if you have a site that focuses on technology, you do not want it to be listed with fashion sites. Your articles should also reflect this by keeping true to your site’s focus.

You do want to take advantage of linking to other resources both within your site and from other websites to build links and even more so, your site’s authority. Don’t be afraid to refer to other articles or have a plugin like YARPP (Yet Another Related Post Plugin) to try to keep your readers interested in staying on your site, which decreases your website’s bounce rate.

As for themes, no matter if you use a free theme, a premium paid theme, one that you designer, or perhaps a theme designed by someone you hired, you definitely want it to be clean, loads decently, is flexible for you to work with, and is easy to use. Because of mobile use, it is definitely a good thing if you want to have a mobile version of your site, but please note, that if you are trying to go for valid coding, HTML5 blows that concept out of the water.

You can still check your site at the W3 Validator, but you will want to ignore the errors for code related to your mobile theme.

A really good WordPress plugin to assist with your site’s SEO is WordPress SEO by Yoast. You can customize your search engine listing down to the pages and posts on your site. The WordPress SEO plugin also has RSS feed enhancements, breadcrumb navigation options, and even can build your site’s XML sitemap. So in a way, it almost does it all.

However, if do not use an SEO plugin like WordPress SEO for Yoast, it is important to have a valid sitemap for your site. You can certainly try Google XML Sitemaps which is a nice alternative XML sitemaps plugin that even notifies search engines about your site.

Remember, even though WordPress comes SEO ready out of the box with its well written code and fewer database tables versus other content management systems, you still have to write unique and quality content. Plugins just add a little more help.

Here are some related articles to SEO:

Social Media

Social media has become a big dog in how blogs bite the dust or succeed. Google has even come to recognize that even having a site and relying on a computer to crawl your site, does not mean your site will become popular. The answer is that despite the fact that “Content is King”, our real people are the queen… or as I say – “While Content is King, Visitors are Queen.”

We all know the queen has a lot of power, even in chess, and marriage. :)

For your new WordPress blog, you should focus on the following arrows for your social media strategy:

  • Plugins
  • Where you want to have a presence
  • 3rd party resources

You can write all day, but really, you need to make it easy for people to share your blog’s articles. There are many social share plugins. I normally recommend Digg Digg or even Sociable, which add social share buttons on your site. Both give different ways you can display the icons on your site for the best impact for converting your visitors to sharing.

You need to tell people about your site, so obviously, just sitting at your computer looking at your site is not going to do anything. You need to go outside of your site and find people that are interested in what your site is about, and perhaps even other interests you have. You cannot be shy about it, but you certainly cannot just spam the crap out of people as soon as you introduce yourself.

There are millions of blogs, thousands of forums, and hundreds of social networking websites. Of course, you do want to have a presence with big players like Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. However, there are also places that may be specific to your niche. That is where you need to be.

WordPress can do many things, but you do not want to overload your hosting account’s data resources. You might want to try using 3rd party resources for pinging your site, or automatically sharing posts across several networks. This saves you time and not having to install another plugin on your blog. One of the 3rd party resource sites I like to use for publishing my articles is Dlvr.it. Another resource I like is the Facebook App called RSS Grafitti that you can put your blog’s RSS feed in and allow posts to publish to your Facebook fan page OR your profile.

Of course, there plugins like Tweet Old Post and Twitter Tools that can be installed in WordPress to publish to Twitter. Tweet Old Post actually allows you to re-share articles to Twitter, so all those evergreen posts will not stay dusty.

Please note that you may want to install other type of plugins based on what functionalities you need for your website. You may need to even make a new plugin or hire someone to make it for you. WordPress can do it! :)

When you are starting off with a new blog, you do not need to overdo it. You are still learning the waters, trying to pump out content, and even trying to engage with people that you hope become regular readers that help syndicate your site.

What type of WordPress blog do you run? What plugins do you use for your site? Any other advice you might like to share with newbies that are setting up a new WordPress blog?

Comments

  1. says

    I Visit daily many sites but This site article is very nice because this site content is very nice and this is google friendly site. thanks for good articles.

  2. says

    I’m thinking to switch on worpress, but I’m not sure what is better WordPress or blogger? Anyway your content is great and it’s can be implemented on blogger too, so thank you for your great tips.

  3. says

    Would have loved to have this list when I threw up my first blog – it didn’t last long, but I learned a lot so my 2nd blog – the one I have now, was vastly improved. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • says

      I would have loved to have such a list when I first started out, but when I started blogging, it really was not popular yet… and most of everyone who got in blogging over a decade ago, they were learning the ropes too.

  4. says

    Oooh la la there is heaps of really helpful information here Nile. Did you ever think about turning it into a book. The world wants to know about WordPress and you’ve heaps of offer then in this post alone!

    I’m saying this like a book is written in the blink of an eye but I do feel you already have the content!

  5. says

    Nile,
    what extensive tutorial this is it!!!! Wow, if I had this when I first start thinking to create a blog… I would be a pro by now haha :-)

    I never knew anything about most of what you teach here.. who knew about Branding, Desigh, or security???? Anyway, somehow I am surviving and I know that with people like you in our group here, together with many otehrs… sooner or later I will have the opportunity to learn enough to make a mark for my self.

    Thanks so much once again for sharing such a profound information for all of us to benefit.
    nickc

    • says

      Hi Nick!

      I teach about anything that deals with the creation, maintaining, and promoting of a website. Becoming a pro at blogging will take a lot of time, but it is definitely possible if you have the passion and drive. Bloggers are a lot luckier today than 10 years ago… mostly because those were the learning days when even WordPress was new.

    • says

      You can trying installing WordPress on your local machine. There are directions on WordPress.org, in the codex section on how to do that.

  6. says

    Nile,

    I could write another post about how GREAT your post is!!!! Love the plugins you recommend like Yoast, YARRP(sp?), GASP. Love how you remind everyone that SEO is also about Internal links and Outbound links not just Inbound links from other sites. There are so many things on this list. Important things. However, it’s overwhelming for the new person,and even the experienced blogger, to remember all the important things that need to be checked off to make sure you got a great, marketable, user-friendly WordPress Blog or WEbsite!

    Great List and thanks for sharing!!!

    ~ Jupiter Jim

    • says

      This was not a one day job to write this post as I seriously needed to sit down and think about this. All the lists for these types of plugins and more… people just starting out don’t need all that flash. They need to get a site started, and then they can invest time in tweaking it. I see too many people wanting to start a new site and focusing on everything else before the content.

      I am glad you liked my post and my plugin suggestions.

  7. says

    Niles, this is a great example of the types of articles anyone needs to have on their site. Great pillar content articles that share links to other relevant articles under specific topics are great for SEO.

  8. says

    Great post, Nile! You are so right about just focusing on the basics of blogging, and figuring out the purpose of blogging. The interesting thing, though, is how it seems like, as you are writing, that you might think that you are going to be writing about one thing, but the things that you realize interest you are completely different, and watching the way the blog evolves.

  9. says

    Hi Nile, may I know if you have any other recommended related post plugins. YARP consumes so much resources that is why I remove it on my site. Do know know a code that I can put on my site to reflect related post even without plugin. Thanks…

  10. says

    Hi Nile,
    Now this is a page to bookmark. thanks for such a comprehensive list of items to consider with your blog. for me I think the most important is the focus and the ideal reader. That one has evolved for me and continues to to do. My broad category is right, but the tight niche I need to move towards is evolving as I write and realize what I want to achieve from my blog. I only started my new blog in Sept ’12 so i am happy with my results to date. I am learning everyday!

  11. says

    Hi Nile,
    I really appreciate your post here. Really good stuff and can really help many individuals in the blogging world particularly the newbies. They will surely find this helpful if they wanted to start a wordpress blog.
    Kudos!

  12. says

    Hi Nile!
    Really cool sharing, I missed few things from the list when I set up a new blog. Sometimes I missed about the social media, I think social media is important today.

    • says

      Frank- Why would I put a link cloaking plugin if I were a newbie blogger? That does not make any sense. It defeats the purpose of this post and my upcoming book.

  13. says

    Hi Nile Excellent post,
    Covering almost every steps, from the birth of website to its maturity, but you must have to consider the security and update issues regularly, as mention by Nile. There is no Update of Login Lockdown plugin since two years, and everyone aware from Black Hole of hacking (BLUELAYER MEDIA scam is a good example of bad hacking). Now its upon to you how would you like to go with your website.

    Thanks for sharing with us.

  14. says

    Definitely bookmarked and sugared this post because it’s got some great bullet points. Have been seeing a lot of posts about security lately so I think that’s a sign of how important it is.
    Thanks for this!

  15. says

    This is great. I could have used it 2 weeks ago when I started a new wordpress site. It took me 2 or 3 days to remember all the plug ins and everything I needed to add to it. Will keep this for future reference.

  16. says

    Hi Nile,
    I did not realize that about login lockdown not being updated in over 2 years. Do you know of an alternative plugin?

    So true about blogging. So many non-bloggers believe that all bloggers do is write posts and that’s it. We both know that writing posts are just the tip of the iceberg.

  17. says

    Totally thorough checklist, Nile.

    I’ve got to admit, that while I understand what most of these things are for, I don’t usually have the patience (or in-depth knowledge) to really put all the working parts together.

    I’m a big believer in outsourcing these tasks so you can stick to what you do best…. writing, marketing or whatever.

    Of course, if you’re very technically endowed (which I’m not), then this is a great list to work from.

  18. says

    REALLY liked this. It is these very items that make a big difference in a client coming back to you or not. Sometimes as a designer I am find I am not as detail oriented because I’m not a developer even though I normally do all the site launches. Looks like I need to brush up :) Thanks!

  19. says

    Wonderful post chock full of pertinent information. It’s so full, you could make it an ebook…..oh, maybe you have already! This is one to bookmark because it has so many references. Plus I can not retain it all in one reading.
    Thanks a bunch Nile!
    Lynn

  20. says

    That’s a smart idea. I put one of these together a while back, for my own reference, as I was building so many sites. I kind of fell out of the habit of using it, because my methodology has changed so much, but a revised list based on my current setup might be worthwhile. It included things like remembering to setup Google Analytics and Google Apps for the domain.

  21. says

    Nile,

    Wow! In this one post you are certainly showing just how much you have learned and continue to incorporate into your blogs. People just starting out often feel overwhelmed and your information can really help them to get set up well.

    I have used many of the plugins you mention but , of course, there are several I have not used. Never heard of Divr.it

    Warmly,

    Dr. Erica

  22. says

    Nile, I don’t know how I could possibly add anything to your post!! Great info all packed into one very helpful post. I am already using a number of plugins you’ve mentioned, but you’ve given several others I am going to look into.

    Willena

  23. says

    I will have to come back to this post and read all the recommended topics. You covered a lot of questions that I have been writing down to ask. Learning WordPress is a bit daunting at first but thankfully it is getting easier as time goes on. As always I love reading your posts Nile.

  24. says

    Love this article Nile.

    Talk about giving value lady, you sure have here.

    I would have loved to have come across this information
    when I first started my blog…what a help that would have been.

    Thanks Alice

  25. says

    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing great article about tips for creating new word press blog. This very useful online bloggers. Keep it up such a great posting like this.

    Regards,
    Sekhhar Reddy.

  26. says

    Fantastic site and great detail on setting up a new wordpress blog, we have recently started ours and look forward to putting some of the info in to practice.

    Thanks
    Nobigdeal.com.au

  27. says

    I’ve been looking for information that you can advance the afforts my blog, I was lucky to find this and posting your article very help me.
    thanks for sharing with us…

  28. says

    THANKS for your nice post.I am blogging in blogspot and now want to convert into wordpress.I have seen that this site is useful for wordpress blogger as well as blogging

  29. says

    If you are using WordPress I cannot stress to you how essential WordPress SEO from Yoast will be as mentioned by the author. This plugin is free and can handle most On-Page SEO Factors for your website with ease. It might seem a little overwhelming at first, but take the time to learn everything and you can have your websites doing very competently in the search engines which will bring you more traffic.

  30. says

    Great post. I’ve been using Better WP Security for about 6 or 7 months now and think it’s great. I switched to that becuase I had been using Login Lockdown but it messed with a new premium theme I’ve been using on my newer sites. BWPS has a Login section that will do the same, plus a ton of other features. I also really like WP Firewall 2

  31. says

    Great post, because every time i had to see whether i forget something or not while setting up a blog or doing modification to my blog but now i can just see this checklist and do step by step setting up of blog

  32. says

    Hi Nile! I am always on the lookout for decent WordPress websites and I like yours. You are correct (obviously :)) about all the WordPress needs. My biggest issue is security. I build a lot of WordPress websites for myself and for clients and I see a constant flow of attacks on websites. I have become paranoid. I am still not sure how to solve the issue.
    I recently had 17 of my sites in one hosting go down for a week, and the “experts” at the hosting company just deleted everything and got 4000 website owners to re install their own websites from the backups again. can you believe that?

  33. says

    Hello Nile..
    WordPress is a awesome place to build website.But as you said we must have to check some things. Security is the one of the most important thing as you said.But by proper attention and care,we can save our site from attackers.Thanks for nice sharing.

  34. says

    This is an example of what we all need to be doing on our sites: providing excellent educational content! Thank you, Niles, for all that you do. If anyone is needing a guide to get started building a business online, this is one place I’ll be directing them!

  35. says

    You have stressed well on the topics like Branding, Social Media and security aspect. Also, Taking into consideration that WP is a resource hogger, I feel you could have stressed on limiting the use of too many plugins as it can ruin the blog by slowing it down.

    • says

      Nikhil- That is where you are wrong. WordPress doesn’t hog resources right out of the box. It is what you put on your site in terms of plugins, and the traffic you bring in, both real people and bots. If you are a new website and having issues with your hosting already, try troubleshooting and weeding out plugins you really don’t need. Shared accounts are really a nice solution for startups, but they are only allotted some much data resources versus VPS, reseller, dedicated, and cloud hosting. Try a CDN, a cache plugin, and as you grow and make money, make sure to invest in a web hosting package that can handle your site.

  36. Amit Tripathi says

    Creating wordpress blog now a day is very easy , you just need to know some basic information that this article is taking.

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