If you are a WordPress beginner, you will find this "Ultimate Guide to Blogging on WordPress for Beginners" written by WordPress expert, Susan Velez extremely helpful. Susan runs the blog Susan Velez, where she helps non-techies start, grow, and monetize their blog.
- How to Start a WordPress Blog for Beginners
- 7 Free Tools That Will Make You a Better Writer
- How to Make Your WordPress Blog Pinterest Friendly
Is WordPress Easy to Use And What You Need to Do Before Blogging
I'm not going to lie, WordPress is not an easy platform. Especially, if you've never used it. As a new blogger, it's so easy to waste time on things that aren't important.
While it's true that there's always something new to learn as a blogger. The truth is that if you get these foundational items down at the beginning, you can always learn the other stuff as your blog continues to grow.
My First Experience with WordPress
I still remember the first time I set up my first WordPress site for a client. It took me over 8 hours. The site was ugly, but I was so proud that I finally figured it out.
Today, I've been working with WordPress for over 8 years. I am now managing over 35 sites for clients and the basics come pretty easy to me.
I thought I would go ahead and share 11 tips that you can use to help you build a solid foundation on your blog.
Plus, I'll also show you how to implement these tips so you won't walk away wondering what to do.
Important Foundations to Follow
I am a huge believer in setting up the best foundation possible. Once you've implemented these tips, you can then start focusing on writing amazing content for your readers.
So, follow along and let's make sure that you didn't miss a step while setting up your blog.
1. Set A Strong Password
We've all heard of the importance of using a strong password. I personally use Roboform to generate a 35-character password for my blog.
I'm no fool and I know that hackers are smart. This is why I make it a point to change my password every 3-6 months.
I got this idea from my banking account. They require that I change my password every 6 months, so I figured why not do this for my blog as well.
How To Change Your Password
Changing your WordPress password is extremely easy, once you're logged in.
1. Head on over to Users >> Your Profile.
2. Scroll down until you see Account Management.
3. Click on the Generate New Password button. You can either let WordPress generate the password for you, or you can create your own.
Don't forget to update your changes to make sure that your profile is updated.
2. Delete Unused Themes
I still don't understand why some people want to keep all the themes on their blog that they were once using and no longer use.
For security reasons, you want to make sure that you don't have a bunch of inactive themes on your blog. However, I personally think it's okay to have one inactive theme in case something happens with your active theme.
You'll be able to activate your inactive theme to keep your blog going (don't laugh, I've had that happen to a client). Thankfully she had an inactive them available and we just activated it and her site was accessible online.
However, if you're one of those bloggers who has not taken the time to delete your unused themes, let me show you how to do this.
It's easy to do and won't take any time at all. Be sure that you have a backup on hand, just in case something goes wrong.
Deleting Themes Using cPanel
You can do this via FTP or your cPanel hosting account. For this tutorial, I'll be logging into my hosting account.
1. Go to cPanel then go to File Manager and choose your domain.
2. Next, go to wp-content >> themes.
3. You'll see all the themes installed on your WordPress blog. Make sure that you don't delete the active theme. If you're using a Framework for your blog, make sure that you don't delete that.
4. To delete a theme you're not using, just highlight the theme and then click Delete.
Now you should only have your active theme available for use.
If you still haven't found the right WordPress theme, don't forget to check out Tiffany's WordPress themes.
3. Start Optimizing Your Blog for Organic Traffic
You're going to be writing a ton of content on your blog. One of the best things that you can do is make sure that you're optimizing all your content.
Eventually, as your blog starts to age you'll start to notice that your Google organic traffic will start to increase.
I recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin because it will help you ensure that your blog post is properly optimized.
How to Use Yoast SEO
First things first, you'll want to make sure you've done your keyword research or have an idea of what you want your post to rank for.
Recommended Article: SEO For Beginners: How to SEO Your Blog Posts
Once you know what keyword you'll be targeting, it's time to add it to the Yoast SEO plugin.
This will help you stay on track while writing your blog post. Then you can check your score before you hit publish.
You'll notice that I have a green light on both the readability score and the SEO score. To tell you the truth, I don't always get a green light on the readability score.
If this explanation was not thorough enough, here's a great article that will show you how to make the most out of the plugin.
4. Creating A Backup
If you're just starting your blog, you might not even think a backup is important. However, if you get this taken care of from the start, you won't have to worry about it as your blog starts to grow.
Using A Free Plugin
You can pay for subscription services like BlogVault or VaultPress. However, if you're blog is brand new, I recommend using the Updraft Plus plugin.
It's easy to set up and did I mention, it's free.
Setting Up the Plugin
Once you've installed the plugin, head on over to your plugins and click on the Updraft Plus settings.
You'll be taken to your Updraft Plus dashboard. You can choose to create a manual backup, which I recommend if you don't have a backup plan for your blog right now.
Setting Up Automatic Backups
Now let's go ahead and create an automatic backup. This way you can focus on growing your blog and NOT worry about whether or not you'll lose your blog.
You're going to have several different options of where you want to store your backups. When I used the plugin, I stored my backups on Amazon S3 storage. It's cheap to use and you can access your backup even if your hosting account goes down.
Let's quickly run through these settings:
Files backup Schedule: Choose how often you want your files to be backed up. Your files won't change very often unless you're changing themes or adding new plugins. I think it’s okay if you choose weekly backups for your files.
Database backup schedule: Your database will change anytime you add a new post or make any changes to your blog. It's important that you backup your database more often than your WordPress files. It wouldn't hurt to choose a daily backup for your database.
Retain scheduled backups: You'll notice that it's set to keep 2 copies of all your backups. You can leave it as the default number or increase the number of backups you want to keep on hand.
Setup your remote storage location: Choose where you want to store your backups and go ahead and set it up. I won't cover this as there are several different options that you can choose from.
Email: Check the box to get an email notification saying that your backup has been created.
Everything else, go ahead and leave as default.
Now click save changes and that's it.
5. Remove Dummy Content
WordPress installations come with helpful demo content to help show you the publishing features of the software.
You'll get a sample page called "Sample Page" and a demo blog post called "Hello World." Be sure that you delete both of them before you publish your blog.
To delete the post or the page, all you have to do is click on the delete button.
6. Make Your Links SEO Friendly
WordPress comes pre-installed with default permalinks set up. Personally, I prefer to use an SEO friendly permalink.
If you take a look at Tiffany's permalinks, you'll notice that she's using the SEO friendly permalink.
*Note from Tiffany: I recommend choosing the "Post Name" permalink structure.
Don't spend too much time on this, read this if you want to know what the best permalink structure is for your blog.
7. Update Your WordPress Software
WordPress releases updates on a regular basis to help prevent vulnerabilities. You'll know if your software needs to be updated if you see a notification when you log into your dashboard.
I know that it can be scary to update your blog if you've never done it. Remember, we've set up a backup plan for your blog. As long as your blog has been backing up, you should be good to go.
Go ahead and click on the update your software and follow through on the prompts. It doesn't take long and before you know it, you'll be running the latest version.
8. Keep Track of Your Visitors
Once you start promoting your blog and working on growing it, you're going to realize just how much work goes into it.
You want to make sure that you know which marketing methods are working to drive traffic to your blog and what isn't.
This will help you determine which blogging tasks you should continue doing and which ones you should drop.
Here's a great tutorial on how to add Google Analytics to your blog.
9. Make Your Content Shareable
It's going to take you a long time to write amazing content that helps your readers solve problems.
Don't make it hard for people to share your content. Take a look at one of Tiffany's blog posts, it's been pinned on Pinterest over 25,000 times and the post has over 26 thousand shares.
Now I can see why Tiffany shares her Pinterest tips on how she increased her page views.
There are so many different plugins that you can use. So, I won't go over a specific plugin. Instead, I'll tell you what I look for when sharing content.
Get People to Share Your Content
People are lazy, we all are. If I read an amazing blog post and I can't find the share button, guess what, I'm not going to give that post any love.
As bloggers, there's always so much to do. I don't have time to dig around someone's site just to share content. If you want your content shared, then you need to make it as easy as possible.
Add clickable Tweets to your content. You might have seen them inside of people's blog posts. All you have to do is click on it and it tweets it out for you.
It doesn't get much easier than that.
You need your content shared and the best way to do that is to make it as easy as possible for people to share.
Don't spend too much time trying to find the right plugin. Just choose one and if you don't like it, you can always change it later.
You need to start working on growing your blog.
10. Setup Your Author Profile
It's your blog and you should be proud of it. Take your time to set up your author profile and let people know who you are.
Take a look at Tiffany's author profile you'll see what she's passionate about and what you can expect to find on her blog.
You want to let people know a little bit about your blog and why you started it.
Go to Users >> Your Profile and scroll down all the way to About Yourself.
Don't worry, you can always change this later as your blog starts to grow. Just make sure that you add something here when you get started.
11. Let People See Your Face
One of the things that most new bloggers do is hide behind their blog. They may not actually be trying to hide, but it sure looks that way.
If you're serious about building a successful blog, then you need to take the time to set up a gravatar.
You only have to do this once and this image follows you around online. Here's a great tutorial that will show you how to do this.
That's Really All You Need to Do
Now that you've run through those steps, that's all you really need to do to get started blogging. Yes, there are other things that you'll need to learn as you continue working on your blog.
However, you don't need to worry about them from day one. If you've completed all the steps above, you can figure out everything else one step at a time.
What You Should Focus On
The only thing you should be focusing on when you're brand new and trying to grow your blog is writing amazing content that people want or need.
Then you'll need to make sure that you're following the 80/20 rule to blogging success. Otherwise, no one will ever see or share your content.
Final Take Away
One of the biggest mistakes that most bloggers make when they start their blog is they think they will see success right away. While some people do have success right away.
The truth is that it takes time to start seeing traction on your blog. Put your head down and keep working towards your blogging goals.
Treat your blog like a business and one day you'll look back and see the online empire that you created.
Don't worry about getting stuck with WordPress or not knowing what to do. You'll learn the basics as you continue logging in and working on your blog.
Before you know it, you'll know exactly what to do and what's important and what isn't. Remember, no one was born with WordPress knowledge.
Most of us just had to learn by getting in there and working with it on a daily basis.
Did you already complete all these foundational steps when you set up your blog? If so let me know, I'd love to hear how your first experience was.