5 Things To Do When Starting A New Blog

Starting a new blog is always a difficult process. There are so many things that can go wrong, and if you put a step wrong at this point, it’s likely to haunt you well into your first year. The best way to counter these risks is to plan meticulously. When launching the blog you can simply put this plan into place, which hopefully will reduce the need to keep on tweaking your set up.

I’ve listed five things you should include in your plan. They way you decide to approach each of these aspects of your blog will depend on what you want to achieve as well as your experience. As someone who’s set up a number of blogs, some more successfully than others, I’ve offered my thoughts on each. but please consider each carefully before setting up your blog.

  1. Permalink Structure – You have to get this right first time. Changing the permalink structure mid way through a blog’s life is an absolute nightmare. I’d recommend having the post title in the permalink, similar to the approach I’ve taken with this site. By doing this you will rank higher in the search engines and allow people to clearly see what the post is about from the URL alone (remember, you can’t control how other people link to you, so have a fall back).
  2. Policies – There are a number of policies you will need to establish before you start your blog. The main ones you need to decide on are Commenting/Trackbacks (moderated? Allow links? No follow links?), Privacy Policy (What are you going to do with the email addresses, names and other stats you collect?) and Monetisation (Will you carry ads? Will you sell links? Will you accept paid for content?). When you have thought about these aspects, write them down and be sure to add this information to your site. To read the policies of this site, see the about page. Comments are not moderated, but there are anti-apam measures in place.
  3. Data Structure – When coming up with the plan mentioned above, you should really come up with a list of topics you want to write on. These should become the categories you use to classify your content. One advantage of doing this early is that you can give some serious thought to the phrasing used. It also helps to quickly give your new readers a quick overview of the topics covered by the blog. It should also prevent you having to come up with new categories as you go, which can be problematic.  And now, with WordPress 2.3 you have Tags to consider.  You need to ensure that your categories and tags are clearly defined to avoid getting yourself into a confusing situation with overlapping tags and categories and no clear categorisation policy.
  4. Strategies (navigation, promotion, SEO) – As many of you will be aware, just starting a new blog and putting content up isn’t going to be enough for success. You have to seek out readers and draw them in. There are many techniques you can use to do this, which I won’t get into here. With that in mind, one of the most important things you can do when establishing a new blog is to come up with a marketing strategy. This should be long term.  You will also need to come up with a strategy for content.  How often will you post, on what subjects and where will you find your inspiration?  Also, take a look at some others who occupy the same niche, what do they do well, what can you do better, what got them to where they are today?  Learn from others and don’t reinvent the wheel.
  5. Implementation – You will need to decide on the blogging platform you intend to use, along with whether you will be hosting it yourself or using a hosted solution.  Most people will stick with that they know, but starting a new blog is a fantastic opportunity to experiment a bit and to see if other platforms have moved on.  You will also need to think about themes and plugins, and map the two together.  For example, if you decide to use a theme that relies on a certain plugin, what will you do if that plugin stops getting updated and becomes incompatible with the latest version of your software?  Along with these considerations, PLEASE make sure you have backup and recovery plans in place.  And if you do, test them at least once a month.  And remember, it’s not just the database that needs to be backed up but all the files as well, including those that you upload to add to your posts (e.g. images).

I hope those five points give you something to think about.  I absolutely believe that having a plan is one of the most important things when starting a new blog.  Something else that I find useful is the strategy point above.  After six months it’s incredibly useful to revisit this strategy to see if it still aligns with what you are currently doing.  if not, why not?  And is your current approach wrong, or is the strategy wrong?

What do you consider when starting a new blog?