This post gives sixteen tips specifically for the new blogger. These tips are lessons learned by the author that will save new bloggers time and energy in setting up their new blog.
I am a total newbie who had never used WordPress.org before. In fact, anything technology related tends to give me a raging headache. Perhaps we have that in common? I am enrolled in a course on blogging and had to bite the bullet and learn how to do WordPress.org starting a few months ago. There are many surprises in the process of setting up a brand new blog and this post will outline 16 little-known things you need to know as a brand new blogger.
The process for me was way slower than I ever dreamed because there were so many things to learn, many of which surprised me. To save you some of the time and money I lost learning the hard way, here are some tips on what you need to be aware of when you are setting up your brand new blog:
1. WordPress.org takes more time than you would expect to learn.
Give yourself grace and time to learn. Based on how many people have written blog posts about how easy setting up a blog is, I expected it would be easy and likely done after only two sessions. No, no, no! You need to know the lingo about things like widgets and plugins. My solution for my ignorance was to take a free WordPress.org course, called “Understanding WordPress-How to Navigate Self Hosted WordPress” offered by Grayson Bell over at Imark Interactive. It was very worth it to get the basics about the technologic side of blogging down before doing any other training on blogging.
2. Blogging is not as cheap as you were led to believe.
So, the initial allure that draws you in is that self- hosting your blog is only 3-5 $ (USD) a month. However, there WILL be add-ons.
You will need to buy a domain ($20.00 for me), possibly a SSL certificate (mine was included with my web host SiteGround), security plug-ins ($20.00 for me), social sharing plug-ins ($29.00), and a subscriber service (I am using free MailerLite for now but this can become expensive depending on the number of subscribers). It is very likely you will want to buy a course as you learn to blog. You may need tech support.
I would say the minimum to expect as start-up fees would be $150 to $200 (USD). If you buy courses it could be over $1,000.00 (USD) depending on which course you buy. Plan your budget with your eyes fully open on this.
3. Blogging is not fast, it takes a lot of up-front time investment.
So at four hours a week, it took me ten weeks to get my two blog sites up in rough form. That included 5 posts each with Pinterest images and some affiliate links. So that is about 16 hours per blog spread over two months (32 hours total). I will do a full review later of the blogging course I am in right now, the Elite Blog Academy 3.0 by Ruth Soukup, but I think the fact I got so much got done so fast is definitely linked to the course I am in and the accountability it has created for me. I tried launching a blog on my own about 2 years ago on Squarespace and I never did get it launched.
There was another person in this course who reported she did about 5-6 hours a day to launch her blog, or about 35-42 hours a week. She got her blog up looking pretty near perfect in a month (that’s about 140 to 168 hours!). So, that gives you a range, 16-170 hours to get a blog site up for a total newbie on WordPress.org. Either way plan for a minimum of 40 hours to get your site up, even in rough form if you don’t want to be too stressed and you want more time to learn and perfect your site. The time commitment will significantly eat into the rest of your life, so try and organize ahead of time to make sure you keep balance for all the most important things in life. Burnout is a real thing among bloggers.
4. You will need to get your legal house in order for blogging.
At a minimum, you will need Terms and Conditions for use of your blog, a Privacy Statement, and a disclosure clause on your website. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new piece of legislation in European Union (EU) which bloggers who deal with clients in the EU will need to ensure they are compliant with. There are WordPress plugins that are specific for all of these to help you.
5. You will need an address which can be sent to your subscribers and made public.
When you ask people to subscribe to your site you will need to use a service like MailChimp to manage the lists and the emails sent to subscribers. To sign up for one of these services you will need to give a physical address. If you give your home address, that address will go to each one of your subscribers! To avoid publishing your home address, I would suggest you rent yourself a physical mailbox. The other option is to use ConvertKit which lets you use their address, but they are pretty expensive for bloggers just starting out. Right now, it is more reasonable for me to rent a mailbox and use free MailerLite.
6. The online world is changing at rocket speed.
Please don’t just rely on any YouTube video or article on the internet. Even some blogging courses still sell outdated material. Anything older than 2 years is likely already not up to date. Facebook algorithms, Pinterest algorithms, legislation governing blogging, reviews on the best web hosting site, and reports of plug-in updates that are faulty and crash your site-they all change QUICKLY. Make sure any advice you receive is current (in the last 12 months). I find it helpful to be part of a blogging Facebook group as I often hear about changes in such groups.
7. If your web host doesn’t provide an SSL certificate for free or for a very reasonable price when you are signing up, shop around.
Google penalizes sites that are not SSL secure. Mine was free with SiteGround. The other thing I absolutely love about Siteground is they help you if you are technologically challenged. Many tech issues I have had like setting up my G-suite email account, they helped me promptly for no extra cost.
8. Make sure you install a security plug-in on your site.
Apparently, it is common for hackers to run computer programs trying millions of passwords to try and overtake WordPress accounts. Wordfence has a simple feature, included with their free plug-in, that limits the number of login attempts.
9. Research the pros and cons of different web hosting services.
The one everyone traditionally recommends has had some major issues recently, so do your homework to understand the current pros and cons. In Grayson Bell’s “Understanding WordPress-How to Navigate Self-Hosted WordPress” free course he explains the pros and cons of each of the major web hosting companies, and based on his review, I went with SiteGround. They have provided excellent tech support. Their service came with both a free SSL certificate and free security scanning software. So far, I am very happy with them.
10. Put a “Coming Soon” cover on your site as you develop it.
SeedProd has a free plug-in called “Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode” which works really well and is easy to set up. This way your “under construction website” is not visible to the world.
11. If you take a course make sure it is suited to where you are starting.
Every course has a main target audience, none is ideal for everyone. Remember, some reviews of courses are motivated by commissions and not truly objective. New bloggers have very different needs than experienced bloggers. Take your time to make sure you get into a course appropriate for a newbie.
An ideal course for a total newbie who has never used wordpress.org before would: cost less than $200.00 USD, help you get your website up within 12-15 hours, cover the basics of WordPress.org, provide a Facebook support group, include basics like security and legal, have information within it which is fully updated at least yearly, and be streamlined (e.g. just the basics-not hundreds of pages of material).
Don’t get caught in the trap of buying endless courses either, especially if you have no income from your blog yet. Only buy what you need for the stage you are at, otherwise, you could easily become overwhelmed, frustrated and broke.
12. Optimize your images in your post to make them use less memory space to speed up your site.
A free service called TinyPNG does this for you and you can upload a plug-in to your blog and do it right on your blog.
13. To facilitate higher ranking on Google, upload the Yoast plug-in to do your Search Engine Optimization.
14. Don’t try to be on all social media channels as you begin.
Focus on one at a time. For bloggers, Pinterest is considered the holy grail of driving traffic to your blog. Learn and master Pinterest before branching out to other social media channels.
15. Make sure you back up your blog often.
Blogging is time-consuming, so you certainly don’t want to lose your work. UpdraftPlus plug-in is free and can automate back-ups.
16. Any affiliate links need to be made “no-follow” to avoid google penalization.
If you plan to monetize your site, you will likely be putting affiliate links in your post. Google does not look favorably on blogs with affiliate links that “follow”. Learn how to mark your affiliate links “no follow”.
Question For You-
Are you also working on setting up a brand new blog as a tech newbie? Please let me know if there are other things that you think new bloggers may not be aware of that you would include in a list.
Key Take-Aways: This article has outlined commonly overlooked tidbits of information that new bloggers with little technological skill need to be aware of before they begin work on launching a WordPress.org blog.
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