Aug
31

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog

Are you thinking of starting a blog? Did you just start a blog but don’t know what the next steps should be? Read all about the first 5 things you need to do after starting a blog. 

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog!

When I started Spoonful of Flavor I had no idea that it would lead me to where I am today. I thought that I was starting a fun little blog to organize my favorite recipes and I was ecstatic when a few hundred people beyond my immediate family read my posts. I knew NOTHING about blogging when I started my blog. Everything I learned about blogging was from trial and error, research or connecting with other bloggers. I learned a lot of things along the way. I wish I knew many of those things even before I hit publish on my first post.

I want to share a few tips to help you succeed from day one. If you want to turn your blog into a business then these five steps are even more important. Yes, even before you publish your very first post, here is what you need to do. If you haven’t started your blog yet read my post about how to start a food and travel blog.

First 5 things to do after starting a blog:

(1) Set up all social media accounts

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog!

Even if you don’t think you will ever use them, set up all of your social media accounts on day one. When anyone asks me about the first step after starting a blog, I always recommend to set up all social media accounts. Setting up your social media accounts ensures that you can chose your name before someone else. At a minimum, set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. You may never use them but at least the accounts are yours.

I actually recommend that you start using all the social media accounts from day one too. The sooner you start to build your following, the better. I waited months to set up my social media accounts. If I knew then what I know now I would have started much earlier. Sign up for new forms of social media too. Being a first adopter of social media is incredibly helpful long-term, especially if you want to turn your blog into a business.

(2) Establish your permalink structure

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog!

I’m sure at this point you don’t even know what a permalink structure is, right? A permalink structure is the fixed web address of a specific post or page. Once you select your structure, all posts will be published using the structure. When I set up my blog, I chose the day and name structure but there are other options as well. If I knew what I know now, I would have chosen the “Post Name” structure. In fact, I recommend the post name structure unless you publish multiple posts with similar names multiple times a day. The post name structure is cleaner and some experts believe that it helps more with search engine optimization (SEO).

Here is an example of the permalink for this post. After the URL, the year, month and day are followed by the title of the post.

http://www.spoonfulofflavor.com/2015/08/31/the-first-5-things-to-do-after-starting-a-blog/

The reason I recommend establishing your permalink structure before you even publish your first post is because you want to stick with the same structure throughout the life of your blog. If you want to change the structure down the road, it is very messy. You essentially break the links to every single post you published until that date. You will have to set up redirects and that can be very messy if you don’t do it correctly. I recommend choosing the “post name structure” or “day and name” or “month and name” and stick with that structure throughout the life of your blog. Do not choose “default” or “numeric” because the structure does not include the name. The name is essential for search engine optimization.  Select your permalink structure, hit save and don’t ever change it again unless you are ready to set up redirects.

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog!

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog!

(3) Set up Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools

I won’t go into detail about how to set up Google Analytics or Google Webmaster Tools in this post. A lot of great resources on how to set them up and utilize them exist. Google Analytics is important because it tracks your blog statistics. You can track how many people visit your site, what posts they visit and what method of technology they use. In addition, you can track demographic trends and discover more detailed information about your readers. Webmaster Tools provides more detailed data on search traffic and trends. Setting up both Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools is very important to track the growth of your blog and target certain trends.

Here are a few links to help you get started:

How to Set Up Google Analytics
Google Analytics Basics
Knowing Your Real Audience by Utilizting Google Analytics
5 Tips to Using Google Analytics to Understand Your Business or Blog

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog!

(4) Create SEO friendly images

I’m not going to go into detail about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in this post because it is a very complex topic. You can save yourself a few headaches from revising posts in the future if you establish some good SEO practices from the start. I purchased this guide, SEO for Food Bloggers, to help me learn a little more about SEO.

Even before you upload pictures into WordPress, you should save them in a way that will be recognized in search results. “IMG1234” is not pretty or SEO friendly. Instead, name your photos the title of the post. I like to name photos with the post title or recipe title and add a number to distinguish each picture.

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog!

Once you upload your pictures to the WordPress media library, add text to the “Title” and “Alt Text” fields. At a minimum, you should have the post title or recipe name in the two locations. I like to also include a short description about the post or recipe. For my Thai Chicken Noodles recipe I include “Thai Chicken Noodles with zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, cabbage, red bell pepper, soy-ginger chicken and peanut dressing.” The additional keywords are not only good for search engine optimization, but are also used in other places throughout the web, such as Pinterest. Pinterest frequently uses the “title” or “alt text” field to fill in the description on pins. Trust me, you do not want to be four or five months into your blog and people are pinning “IMG1234.”

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog!

(5) Install an SEO plugin

Read a little about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before you publish your first post. Familiarize yourself with the basics, install an SEO plugin and continue to research ways to optimize your blog for search engines. I have Yoast SEO plugin, but All in One SEO pack is another option. I like the Yoast plugin because you can start adding basic search engine optimization keywords to your posts without too much research. The plugin is user friendly and adds a little box at the end of each of your posts in WordPress. You can enter basic information such as keywords, meta descriptions, and descriptions or images for Facebook.

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog!

Starting a blog: the first 5 things to do after starting a blog!

I don’t claim to be an SEO expert, Google Analytics expert or any other expert related to blogging. Everything I learned about blogging was by trial and error, research or connecting with other bloggers. The five tips I shared in this post are things that I wish I knew when I first started blogging. I want you to be successful so I am sharing my tips with you. Do you have a question or tip you want to share with other readers? Leave a comment below.

Don’t miss my post on How to Start a Food and Travel Blog!
How to Start a Food and Travel Blog - only three easy steps to starting a blog, plus tips and techniques to make it unique!

52 Comments

  1. Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry

    So helpful! I just started my blog back up again after a 6 month break and I’m loving all the tips you highlighted.

  2. Kelly

    This is such a great post, Ashley! Love these tips!

  3. Rachelle @ Beer Girl Cooks

    Thanks for all the great tips! I found step 4 SEO Images to be super educational! I’m totally going to put this into practice!

  4. sandy

    your tips are very much encouraging for new start up bloggers thank you for taking out time to write beautiful tips for us.

    • Ashley

      You’re welcome, Sandy! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more blogger resources that I am posting in the future.

  5. Life Breath Present

    These are great tips…not just for starting out, but for continuing on! I wish I’d done a bit better when I started out and that I focused a bit more on some of these things during my first year and leading up to my second. Nonetheless, I’m doing better now! :)

    • Ashley

      Thanks for reading! Congrats on entering your second year!

  6. Renee

    These are so great!! Amen and Amen. I so wish I would have done all of these. I could add 100 ideas to this too that I’ve learned over time :) i.e…. start on self hosted wordpress.org so you won’t have to move later, establish posting habits and schedules, and on and on. Thanks for writing! glad i popped over :)

    • Ashley

      Yes, the list is endless, Renee! I completely agree with you about starting on self hosted WordPress!

  7. Jennifer

    Great tips! I just started my blog about a month and a half ago, so I’m constantly on the lookout for more tips. I’m glad to see I’ve done most already, but I really need to work on SEO for my images. Will definitely be doing that better moving forward. Thanks again!

    • Ashley

      Congrats on your new blog, Jennifer! It sounds like you are already off to a great start.

  8. Sarena @ Teal Inspiration

    These are all really great tips! Thanks for linking up with us at the #HomeMattersParty!

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  19. Debbie

    So many people forget about the images.. Great reminder.
    #TurnItUpTuesdays

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  22. Christine at Must Love Home

    Great post! When I started my bog I did not start using social media right away and I so wish I had! Please come and share with us at our party, Friday Favorites, live every Thursday at 7PM at mustlovehome.com. I hope to see you there! Have a great day! Christine

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  24. Casey Smith

    This is a great post Ashley! You covered some of the most important basics that SO many bloggers overlook.

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  27. Katie

    Oh girl thank you so much – SEO makes me insane, thanks for using layman’s terms :)

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  29. Noemi @ Wealthy in Health

    Great tips, thanks! I changed my permalink settings (I didn’t even know, I can change this and I really hated the original version, so thanks a lot!).
    However, I really hate twitter, I don’t understand it and I never use it and it’s just a pain in the ass for me :((( I know, I should change my attitude. Maybe one day… Not today, but one day :)

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  31. Shellie Bowdoin

    These are very helpful tips that can save someone a lot of time from having to go back and redo things the right way! Thanks for joining us on Oh My Heartsie Girl Wordless Wednesday!

    Shellie
    http://www.thefabjourney.com

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  33. Johlene@FlavoursandFrosting

    I love this post Ashley and will definitely be checking out the SEO for Food Bloggers guide! I had huge problems with my permalink structure when I moved from Blogger to WordPress.. it was a nightmare.. You´re so right, it´s one of the most important things to set up right… Thanks again!

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  35. Danielle

    I really appreciated this blog post! I want to share this in my weekly series called “Roll Out The Red Carpet Thursday” – I share bloggers’ amazing posts that I’ve found during the week. I hope that’ ok! Have a wonderful day! :)

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  37. Shushpriya

    OMG!! This is such a good post! I never realised that you should sign up for all the social media! I am going to do it as soon as possible because I think that is a pretty good tip!!>I love your blog it is soo good and the food you make look so tasty!!!

    • Ashley

      Thank you! Yes, don’t forget the social media. I am so glad this post is helpful to you.

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  39. Ishtiak Ahmed

    This is really a useful post for new bloggers. I started my blog few days ago and I am happy to say that I have done all the things you mentioned as important.
    Now, I am moving to the part of SEO and good article writing like this one!

  40. Nia

    Great work! Very helpful tips!

  41. Ludmila

    Thank you for the helpful hacks!

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