These are my personal 5 critical steps for starting a new WordPress blog. I will be going pretty in-depth so get your pen and paper out and take notes! I’m sharing with you my own experience with blogging and to hopefully avoid the same Blogging Mistakes I’ve made!
So, you want to join the world of blogging? Great! Welcome to a wondrous world where you get to share your ideas, views, wisdom, tips, recipes, or anything else you wish to convey with the written word! Before you write word one though follow these steps to avoid the pitfalls I’ve made personally.
1. Choose Your Domain Name
Hopefully it isn’t too late. But choosing your name for your blog is so important if you wish to be noticed on the web. I used my game moniker ‘avgjoegeek’ and I’m paying the price for it. Don’t make the same mistake as me!
- Use any type of special characters such as hyphens if you can avoid it. People trying to find your blog will always goof it up and therefore never find you.
- Make the name so long people cannot easily remember your URL. www.thisreallylongurliseasilyforgotten.com vs. www.iloveshorturls.com – See what I mean?
- Use some obscure URL that isn’t even close to the subject matter of your blog.
- Try and have the main keyword of the subject of your site in the URL.
- For example if you are trying to build a site about muffins and wish to share your recipes with your reader then a good domain name would be www.bettysmuffinrecipes.com It has both of the main keywords (subject matter) you are trying to use in your site!
- Keep it short! The more catchy and short the better. If you take a look around the web to the sites you go to you will start to see a pattern. Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Twitter, avgjoegeek (;-p) all have one thing in common. They are short to the point domain names that match their Brand! You instantly recognize them. This is what you are trying to do.
But – don’t fret if the domain name you are looking for isn’t available. You can try a few alternatives (like I did). There are different domain types like *.net, *.info, *.biz, *.ly etc..
Go to GoDaddy’s Domain Lookup tool (I’m not an affiliate) to search for your perfect domain name and get it registered quick! Then come back here for the next step.
2. Installing WordPress
You have your domain name and you decided to host it yourself. Fantastic! WordPress is one of the best free blogging solutions out there. Not only because it is easy to use and customize, but because search engines such as Google like it too! SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a whole different subject though.
Now you’re ready to install WordPress on your host!
Do NOT Point Your Domain Name To Your Host – Yet
First and foremost – keep your domain “parked“. In other words do NOT point it to your host as you still have a TON of work to do before you “flip the switch” to the internet. I know it sounds crazy just trust me on this one.
You should be able to access your host without needing to point your domain name to it. If not? You need to think of changing your host!
Taking some Security Precautions During Your Install
To try and keep the script kiddies from “hacking” your website you should at least do this as a bare minimum when installing your blog.
Change these Settings for their Defaults during the Install Process:
- Database Name – Although it is some random name ‘wp123’ you should change it to something a little more obscure. Keep it to all lower case letters and numbers though. Example: brb319
- Table Prefix – This is defaulted to ‘wp_’ . Make it a bit more difficult for hackers to find: Example: br_
- Admin User Name and Password – Please NEVER use the default “Admin” for the account. You can use anything you want but that one little word!After you create your WordPress administrator name – make sure that your password is complicated – I’d suggest making it at least 8 in length with at least one Upper Case letter, one lower case letter, one number, and one special character (*!#% etc..) Example: Pa$$w0rd1!
Oh.. and have your initial settings sent to an outside email address (i.e. your gmail, yahoo, msn etc.) so you don’t forget anything and have to start from scratch.
This is a pain in the butt to do but it could save your blog later!
3. Install Your Theme and Plugins
Were at the halfway point! Now the fun begins! You get to design your WordPress Page!
If you need help with installing a Theme or even what a Plugin/Theme is? Go to the WordPress.org Codex – you’ll need to do a little bit of reading. But most of this is pretty intuitive and WordPress tries to make it as easy and painless as possible. I’ve provided a couple links below to get your started:
Whether you decide to “hand code” the entire page, hire a professional, or download a theme for your site – you want to get all of this squared away BEFORE you have your website “go live”. It is just easier this way.
I decided to go the “half-way” route by purchasing a premium theme called Thesis. But then I like geeking out and figuring out how to do things by myself. This was just a personal choice and if you can hire a professional, or find a theme that is already made – that is perfectly fine too!
I do suggest that you spend some money on a “Premium Theme” vs. the free ones though. They tend to have features and they look alot more professional than what you can get with a free theme.
Install your theme and whatever plugins you are planning to use. Make sure everything works, and that the site is designed the way you want it.
4. Learn How to Back Up Your Site!
Gotcha – I bet though I was going to say TURN IT UP! I apologize but backing up your site is crucial for so many reasons. There are hardware failures, hackers, or if you need to move to a different host – you need to have a good backup for your website to restore it back to service quickly.
I perform a site backup using three different ways (Yes, THREE!):
- I backed up not only the entire site, but the wordpress settings, the database, and my theme settings onto my home computer.
- And I backed the whole mess up to an online storage. I use DropBox – but there are other free storage services out there.
- I use a service called CodeGuard now to perform all of my backups. I was tired of having issues with WordPress timing out and not backing it up. You can check out the review below:
Read More: CodeGuard WordPress Backup Review
OK, Finally you can…
5. Turn It Live!
So you have everything just the way you want it. Before you turn it live lets go through a brief checklist:
- You installed WordPress using the above Security Measures
- Your WordPress site looks exactly the way you want it.
- You know everything works!
- You have a backup!
- You have some initial content (you do don’t you?).
TURN IT LIVE!
Go ahead at this point and have your domain name point to your host where your WordPress install is.
This is only the start of your blogging experience! Stay Tuned on what you should do after you have your Blog Live.
Update: There are a lot of other mistakes you can make as well. A big one is trying to follow trends or the money rather than your heart and what you love to write about. Oh… and list posts. OMG the lists posts.