First Steps To Take When Starting Your WordPress Blog (Part 2)

First steps to take after starting your blogToday I’m continuing where I left off in my last post with more steps to take when you are starting your blog.  (You can read that post here.)

12. Set Up Google Search Analytics

Google Analytics is a free site where you can get stats about your blog or website to help you judge the performance of your content.  Using Google Analytics you can see your site’s number of users, page views, and average session duration.  Also, you can see where readers are visiting from, how long they are staying, and many other stats.

This is a great article written by Kristi Hines on Moz.com that lists everything you need to know about setting up Google Analytics and the types of reports you can run.

13. Add A Favicon

A favicon is a logo or graphic that is used as a browser and app icon for your site.  I use the WordPress theme Make for MyNewTwist.com, and info on this theme says the favicon should be square and at least 512 pixels wide and tall.

In the Make theme, you can go to Theme>customize>general>site identity to add your favicon.

14. Create Social Media Accounts

As you first start your blog or website, you may not be thinking about using social media, but it’s a good idea to go ahead and register names associated with your brand in case you want to use them later.  You can use tools like Namechk to quickly see if the user names you want are available.

If you want to make it easy for readers to follow you or share your content, social media is essential, and it is easy to set up.  Some WordPress themes give you the ability to link your accounts automatically.  For instance, I am using the WordPress Make theme, and instructions for adding social media accounts are given in their handbook.

Also, there are many plugins you can use to add customized share buttons, post your content automatically.

15. Disclosure Policy

Do you have plans to monetize your blog?  If you do, it is the law for your site to have a disclosure policy.  Some bloggers recommend generating your policy at disclosurepolicy.org.

16. Build an Email List

If you want to be able to let your readers know when you have new blog content and drive traffic to your site, you will want to build an email list for your blog.  Jetpack has an email subscriber option, and MailChimp is recommended by many.

What tips would you add to my list?

Click here for my free blog checklist pdf (no email required).

 

First Steps to Take After Starting Your WordPress Blog

What are the first steps to take after installing WordPress?   I know you are ready to dive right in and start writing your first post, but first be sure to take plenty of time to pick a theme and change the settings on WordPress to fit your blog or website needs.  Need some help deciding what needs to be done?

First steps to take after starting your blog

1.  Select a WordPress Theme

Ready to customize your site to fit your blog or website goals?  You can choose premium themes, but there are actually a ton of free ones so you’ll want to check those first.  To get to the list of themes, from your WordPress admin panel, click on Appearance>>Themes>>Add New.

You’ll find a feature filter that is particularly useful, and from here you can choose different options such as layout, features and subject.  You’ll also want to decide how many columns you want and what features you’ll want to be able to customize.  Don’t forget that choosing a responsive theme is vital to your blog or website.

This is where the fun starts!  Click on Apply Filters and see what themes fit your criteria and catch your eye for layout and design.

2.  Enter your Blog Name and Tagline, Timezone, Date and Time Format, and Email

Enter the name of your blog, and if you wish, add a tagline.  The tagline is a good place to tell the world what your site is about!  Enter a short phrase or slogan to identify your blog.  Enter your admin email address.  To make these changes, go to Settings>>General.

3. Set Up WordPress Permalink Structure

What are permalinks?  They are the URL’s of content that you publish on your site.   Default permalinks are not SEO friendly, but it’s very simple to change them.  Simply go to Settings>>Permalinks.  There are several options to pick from such as Day and Name, Month and Name, and Custom.   It’s commonly recommended that you pick the post name for your permalink.

4. Check Search Engine Visibility

Don’t forget this one!  Make sure that you go to Settings > Reading Settings > Search Engine Visibility to confirm that this box is not checked.

5. Remove Default Content

After you’ve installed WordPress, you will see that there is a default “Hello World” post, a sample comment and sample page.  Now’s a good time to delete those so you don’t forget to do it later.  From your dashboard, go to Posts>>All Posts to delete the sample “Hello World” post.  To delete the default sample page, go to Pages>>All Pages.  Then you can click on Comments to delete that default.

6. Add New Categories

Categories make it easy to organize your site and for people to find your content.  Categories can be set up when you set up your site or as you write your posts.  To add or change categories, go to Post>>Categories.  There will be a default posts category called Uncategorized.  After you add your own categories, you can delete this if you want.

7. Install Crucial Plugins

Plugins add features to your site, and the list of plugins you have to pick from is endless!  Some of the most significant ones for you to consider installing are:

Jetpack:  Offers “30+ features to optimize your site, speed, and traffic”.  A favorite feature is their in-dashboard traffic statistics.  Jetpack also offers traffic and SEO tools, security and backup services, discussions and community, writing and content creation.

WordPress SEO by Yoast:  “ is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today for WordPress.org users. It incorporates everything from a snippet editor and real time page analysis functionality that helps you optimize your pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between.” (Side note:  Yoast also has a great SEO blog on their site!)

Anti-spam:  Akismet is a popular plugin to reduce or eliminate spam comments.

Security:  It’s very important to protect your site from attacks.  Do your research to find the best plugin to suit your needs.  WordFence came highly recommended to me, as well as  Bulletproof Security  and Secure WordPress.

Backups: Another important plugin to install from the start of your site is a backup.    You don’t want to lose all of your hard work in case of malware attack or if your site is somehow deleted.  Choose a plugin that will backup automatically on a repeating schedule and help you restore your data quickly when you need to.  I am currently using Updraftplus to backup MyNewTwist.com.

8. Update Discussion Settings

The discussion settings (Settings>>Discussion) gives you the option to allow readers to post comments on your posts, if their comment must be manually approved, and if you want to be emailed when a comment is received. There are several other comment selections on this page as well.

9.  Create an About Me Page

The About Me page is a great way to introduce yourself to your visitors.   Many people say that this is one of the most highly trafficked pages on their site.  You can link this page to your menu or add a widget to your sidebar.

I think that the content of your About page depends a lot on your reason for your site.  Are you blogging mainly for fun?  You could list random things about yourself like your hobbies or the reason for starting your blog.  Include a photo of yourself if you like.

Is the purpose of your blog or website to promote your business?  Tell people how you can help them.  Let them know what your skill sets are or what you are knowledgeable about.

10.  Add A Contact Page

Adding a contact page is important for every website so that you have an easy way for readers to get in touch with you.

If you installed the Jetpack plugin earlier, you’ll see that they have a contact page option.    Contact Form 7 is another popular plugin.  You can use their Captcha feature to help screen out spam, and it will also allow you to have multiple forms.

11.  Update Your Profile

Go to Users>>Your Profile, and take a few minutes to fill out this page.  There are several things to enter here like your name and publicly-displayed name.  There are also fields for your social media handles.

Once you have completed these steps, you are well on your way to getting your site set up. I will continue in my next post with some optional steps you may be interested in.   Be sure to check back or sign up for my email list so you won’t miss it!

 

How to Build a Style Guide for Your Blog or Website

Blog Style Guide

How to Build a Style Guide For Your Blog or Website

In order to build a consistent look and feel for your blog or website, one of the first things you need to do is to build a style guide.  This can be as simple or as detailed as you want.  The important thing is record your choices so that you can easily stay on track with your design for a cohesive look and feel.

Color Theme

First on the list is picking your color scheme. Most people recommend choosing 3-5 colors for your scheme.  You may already have something in mind, but if you don’t let me introduce you to a great free tool – Adobe Kuler Color Wheel.  The site is fairly self-explanatory, and you can generate your own theme or browse from tons of themes that have been submitted by others.  But one of my favorite ways to use this site is to upload an image with colors I may want to use and the tool automatically generates a color pallet for me!  Check it out here https://color.adobe.com.

Another fun site you can use to help you decide on your blog’s color palette is Colorcombos.com.   Not only does this site have great tools to help you choose a color scheme, but is has a neat feature called Color Scheme Extraction Tool.   Type in the address of any website, and this tool will extract a color scheme from it!  Fun to play around with!

Find a combo that you like?   Be sure that you jot down the RGB and hex codes for your colors on your style guide.  For example, here is the color palette I plan to use for this blog:

colors for mynewtwist.com

Fonts

Font size and type can be used to add personality to your blog and make it stand out.  Do you want your site to have a playful and fun feel, or are you looking for a more elegant or sophisticated tone?  This is one of the main questions you should ask yourself when deciding on fonts.

You’ll want to decide on font size and type for at least three different categories in your site:   headings, subheadings, and text.  Again, you will want to keep the same settings throughout your blog or website to keep that cohesive look. PicMonkey has a great article,  Font Pairing Like a Pro, that can help you decide on what fonts to use.

After you have made your choices, don’t forget to check for readability on both large screens and smaller screens like cell phones or tablets.  Your font combinations may look great on a desktop, but look like a blur on a cell.

Images

Images and graphics that appeal to you and work well with your color scheme and blog tone should be listed here.  These are the ones that you will use repeatedly throughout your site.

Blog Post Ideas

Some people recommend having a stockpile of blog articles ready to go when you launch your site, and others say it’s ok to start with one or two.  Whichever way you decide, the blog style guide is a good place to make a list of posts you are planning to write, or just jot down your ideas.

Click here to get a free printable of my style guide!

Did you use a style guide when you started your blog or website?  What other items would you find useful to include?

 

How to Earn Extra Money with Ebates

How to Earn Extra Money With Ebates

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, so if you use them I may earn a commission at no cost to you.

How many of you like to make a few extra bucks when you get a chance?  I know that I do!  One of the best ways I have found is to use Ebates.  It couldn’t be easier to use – simply sign up with their app or at Ebates.com.  When you go to their site, you can see stores that have special sales or extra cash back offers.  To make a purchase from their home page, search for the store you want to shop at and click through their link.

Let’s use JC Penny as an example.  I went to ebates.com and searched for JC Penney.  This page lists their promotions for this particular day – 15% off site wide and 6% EBATES cash back.  Simply click on “shop now” and you will be taken to their site.

Make money with Ebates

An even easier way to earn money with Ebates is to install their cash back button in your browser.  Every time you make a purchase from one of their partner sites, you can automatically activate the cash back.

Ebates browser button

 

Another great way to earn extra cash with Ebates is to use their refer-a-friend program.

Make money with Ebates refer-a-friend

During this particular promotional period, refer friends to Ebates, and as soon as they make $25 in qualified purchases you will get $25 and they will get $10!

When and how do you get paid?  Here is the info from the Ebates website:

Ebates payment information

You can receive your payment via a “Big Fat Check” or they will deposit to your PayPal account.

Currently, you will receive a $10 bonus just for signing up!  Click HERE to sign up for EBATES, get a $10 Welcome Bonus, and start making extra money today!

 

 

Choosing a Web Host – A Guide for New Bloggers

Choosing a Web Host-A Guide for New Bloggers

Once you have decided on a niche and website name, you will need to choose a web host.   When I first looked for a web host, I knew absolutely nothing about where to begin.  After doing some research, these things seemed to be the most important items to keep in mind when deciding on a web host.

  1. Affordability
  2. Shared hosting plan
  3. Support
  4. Money-back guarantee
  5. Multiple add-on domains
  6. Backups

I looked at my options and went with what seemed to be a popular host for some bloggers.  After some difficulty I was able to get my site up and running but I didn’t seem to be able to get the support that I needed as a complete novice.  I decided that maybe I really wasn’t ready for all this and asked for a refund of my money.  Many web hosts will refund your money within 30-45 days if you aren’t satisfied, so be sure to check on this before you make your decision.

Whew!  This was kind of a setback for me but after a few months I decided I was ready to try again.  This time I did more research and decided to give HostGator a try.    As they say – “Webhosting Made Easy and Affordable” with a “99.9% uptime guarantee, 45 day money back guarantee, and best of all 24/7/365 technical support.  It was so easy to get my WordPress website up and going using their one-click installation.

When you sign up with HostGator, you can tell them what your needs are and they will give you recommendations on what plan to purchase.  They offer 4500 free website templates, or you can very easily use WordPress, Joomla, or other CMS platforms.  They also have a ton of video tutorials if you find you need more information.

I hope this post will help you choose the right web host for your blog!

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the Right Niche For Your Blog

Finding the Right Niche For Your Blog

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for over a year now.   After being laid off from my long-time job, I decided to retrain in a different field.  I started taking classes in web design, and that has given me the motivation to start my blog.  However, I have been stumped on exactly what I wanted to blog about.

Do you have that problem too?  There are tons of blog posts out there covering the subject of finding your blog niche, and I have got some ideas reading through those.  Many suggest that you ask yourself these questions to help define the topic and objective of your blog:

  1. What do I love to do in my spare time?
  2. What blogs do I enjoy reading, and what are they about?
  3. Are you an expert in any topic?
  4. What would I like to know more about?

Write down the answers to these questions, and see if any of the topics fit together.  Are any of these areas things you feel you could write about for years to come?  Think about your target audience – are any of these things they would be interested in reading about?

After writing down the answers to these questions, my answer was obvious.  I love reading blogs about website design and earning side income.  And in answer to question 4, these are definitely things that I would like to know more about.  Are these the only things I plan to blog about?  No, actually I haven’t figured it out completely but I am ready to get started!

How to find your blog niche

 

Have you been wanting to start a blog but been dragging your feet because you aren’t exactly sure what your niche is?  It’s time to stop procrastinating and just get started!

 

 

How to Choose Your Blog Name

How to Choose Your Blog Name

 

Does choosing your blog name seem like an impossible task?  Sometimes one of the hardest things to do is to come up with a blog name that you love.  Here are 4 tips to help you come up with a great name.

Make A List of Words Associated With Your Blog

One of the best ways to help you decide on a blog name is to make a list of things your blog is about and what your objective is.  Read more