Getting Started with your New Blog
If you don’t have a blog yet, read How to Blog :: The Manual to get started. It’s not that difficult and it’s the first step to building your own online brand. In the future, your earning potential might have a lot to do with how connected you are on the internet and a blog is the networking machine to get you there.
As far as I’m concerned, WordPress is the only way to go if you’re serious about leaving your mark in cyberspace. It’s free software, so hosting space is all you’ll need to pay for. If you have the time and energy to hack around and figure it out, there are a million hosts out there that will rent space to you for under $10 a month.
If you’d rather stay away from code and server languages, you might want to check out my partner hosting company, The Genius Tree, where you can get a pre-installed blog with all plugins that you see here on Genius Types. (You would also have the added benefit of access to my team of blog experts for advice.)
Either way, there are several standard actions you’ll want to take once you’ve got it online to maximize the potential of your blog. It took me months to figure most of this stuff out, but here’s the checklist I wish I had when I was getting started:
1. Set up Akismet
Akismet is an anti-spam plugin that comes with your WordPress installation. It’s an absolute must for anyone who is serious about blogging. Comment spam is an enormous problem and this plugin all but eliminates it.
I’ve already had over 21,000 spam comments deflected by Akismet and Darren Rowse has passed the 2 million mark. If I had to spend all my time deleting spam comments, I might just consider giving up blogging all together.
Setting up Aksimet requires acquiring a WordPress API key. You get an API key after signing up for a free WordPress account. Once you have the key, activate Aksimet by clicking on “Plugins” and then “Aksimet Configuration” from your WordPress dashboard.
(Access your WordPress dashboard by going to http://yourBlogURL.com/wp-admin.)
2. Set up Feedburner
FeedBurner is absolutely necessary for any serious blogger. It’s a service that makes it easy for people to subscribe to your blog and keep track of updates.
Setting up a FeedBurner account will give you an entirely new RSS feed with all the bells and whistles that FeedBurner provides. To make sure there’s no confusion, it’s important to set up FeedBurner from the start so that none of your subscribers get left behind.
Go to FeedBurner.com to register your feed for free. Once you have the new feed, click on “Options” and then “Feedburner” from your WordPress dashboard and enter the feed address in the space provided.
(The Genius Tree Blogs come with the FeedBurner plugin installed. If you don’t have it already, get it here.)
3. Google Webmaster Tools
Your first step on the way to mastering Search Engine Optimization is to register your site with Google. Since Google gives a certain amount of credit for seniority, it’s important to make sure to alert them of your site as soon as possible.
Once your account is set up, you must verify your blog to activate the account. The easiest way is to choose “add a meta tag” and copy the code into your header by clicking on “Presentation,” then “Theme Editor,” and then “header.” (Make sure to backup all the files in your wp-content folder before you start to modify files.) Be sure to paste the code somewhere between the head tags.
Once your site is verified, register your sitemap with Google to make it easier to index your site.
Register your sitemap with Google by clicking on the “Sitemap” option in Google Webmaster tools. Choose “add a sitemap” then “add a general sitemap.” The address of your sitemap should be http://yourblogURL/sitemap.xml.
4. Set up Google Analytics
When I first started blogging, I used a $50 software package to track my traffic stats for three months before I figured out that Google had free software available with even more functionality. The amount of insight that Analytics provides is amazing and should keep your curiosity occupied for hours.
Add the code to your header by clicking on “Presentation,” then “Theme Editor,” and then “header.” Paste the code below the body tag. (Again, make sure your wp-contents folder is backed up before you modify files.)
5. Set up Google AdSense
While we’re on the Google kick, you might as well sign up for Google AdSense to start making some money. AdSense is a service that places content-specific ads on your site and pays you every time someone clicks on an ad. AdSense clicks bring in anywhere from $.05 to $.50 per click at first and increase as the demand for your ad space increases.
Once you have an AdSense account, you can use the “AdSense Setup” link to create the perfect ad shape to fit your site. Paste the code in your theme template by clicking on “Presentation” then “Theme Editor.”
Tinkering with different AdSense arrangements in your theme always seems to lead to missing code and jacked up themes, so be sure to backup your files before messing with your theme.
6. Register with Technorati
Technorati is the standard measuring stick for the blogosphere. They rank over 80 million blogs based on incoming links from other blogs. Each time a blog links to yours, you get one point of authority. As your blog grows, your Technorati rank will get lower and lower.
7. Start a Backup Regimen
If you become a serious blogger, you’ll spend hundreds of hours in front of your computer. To protect your investment of time, its extremely important to get on a regular backup regimen.
From your WordPress Dashboard, click “Manage” and then “Backup.” Select all tables and choose “save to server.” This creates a backup of your WordPress database onto your server.
Next, use an FTP client (Smart FTP for PC or Cyberduck for Mac) to download your wp-content folder (inside the public_html folder). Since your database backup is inside this folder, you should have all the critical files you need should anything happen
8. Become an Amazon Affiliate
The Amazon affiliate program is one of the most common affiliate programs used by bloggers. It’s easy to use and Amazon sells just about everything under the sun.
9. Sign up for Text-Link Ads and LinkWorth
Text-Link Ads and LinkWorth serve as a brokers between your blog and advertisers who wish to purchase text-links. You typically won’t be attractive to advertisers until you start generating some traffic, but it doesn’t hurt to sign up so you’re ready when the time comes.
10. Start Blogging!
Whew! Now that we’ve gotten all the busy work out of the way, it’s time to start blogging! Nothing on this checklist matters without quality content. I’ve found that the two most important factors in blogging are:
1. Useful Content
2. Consistent Posting
See you in the blogosphere!