There is so much information to take in and learn when you’re a new blogger it can literally make your head spin. Okay so your head won’t spin but you can get a headache from all there is to know about blogging.
There are hundreds if not thousands of posts about blogging that focuses on building a solid community, having awesome content, and driving traffic. All important information to take in and I highly recommend that you implement in order to become an expert blogger.
But, making sure your blog is set up properly from the back end is just as important. Without the right settings your blog won’t function smoothly and because of it, you’d lose visitors.Here's an exclusive 'how to' checklist for new #WordPress #bloggersClick To Tweet
A WordPress Checklist for New Bloggers
When I started blogging I couldn’t afford to pay for a designer so I set up the blog myself. But, there were some settings I missed during the set up and caught after I was live. I put this WordPress settings checklist together so as to help make sure you don’t forget anything during the set up process.
To start with I’m going to cover choosing a host provider, selecting an eye-catching theme followed by disclosures and privacy policies. Then I’ll walk you through the WordPress settings and give you a list of plugins for your blog.
You Need A Good Hosting Provider
First of all, make sure you have a reliable hosting provider. As your blog grows, and I’m sure it will, you want to make sure your host will be able to support all your data and files and who will be there for you 24/7 by phone, email or live chat when you need them.
I’ve been with HostGator* since I started blogging and so far things have been great. They have different packages to choose from and they start as low as $3.96 a month. They make it easy to start a new blog or if you’re transferring from another blog, they walk you through it step by step or do it for you.
An Eye-Catching Theme
You know you have to have an eye-catching theme to showcase your style and one that’s easy to install and easy to customize.
Elegant themes* has a variety of themes and for as little as $69 a year, you get access to all their themes, updates, and premium technical support.
You can also check out StudioPress* for more modern, mobile-responsive themes.
Having a disclosure on your blog encourages trust between you, your readers and also the advertisers and sponsors you partner with. It shows you’re an ethical blogger and are upholding the integrity of your blog.
If you plan on doing sponsored posts or product reviews you’ll need a disclosure policy to let your readers know you are compensated for some of the content on your blog and how it influences your blogging about the products and services you promote.
If you need to create a disclosure policy for your blog, check out my products page for affordable templates.
There are so many plugins out there to make your blog run efficiently and give you all the bells and whistles as your counterpart’s blog. But did you know having a lot of plugins can slow down your site’s load and response time?
While all plugins are optional there are some ‘must-haves’ plugins you should have installed:
Akismet – To protect your blog from spammy comments
Broken Link Checker – Checks your blog for broken links and missing images.
Jetpack by WordPress – This plugin has a lot of extras for your self-hosted WordPress blog. There are lots of options but I would definitely activate the following:
- Contact Form
- Enhanced Distribution
- Extra Sidebar Widgets
- Gravatar Hovercards (more about Gravatars later in this post.)
- Jetpack Comments (more about comments later in this post)
- Mobile Theme
- Related Posts
- Site Icon
And finally, be sure to install Jetpack Extras and Jetpack Popular Posts to get the widget to display your most popular posts. Click here to get more details about JetPack*.
Maintenance Mode – Let visitors know when your blog is down for maintenance.
Online Backup for WordPress – this plugin automatically backs up your WordPress database and file system.
Wordfence Security – Protects your blog from being hacked.
SEO Yoast – This all-in-one plugin helps you make sure your blog posts and pages are optimized for search engines.
WP Edit – This plugin allows you to edit your content by adding H1/H2 titles, fonts, and other styles.
WP Smush – This plugin reduces image file sizes to improve your site’s performance.
WP Super Cache – This plugin generates html files from your WordPress blog. After an html file is created, your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the heavier PHP scripts.
Over on the left of your WordPress dashboard you’ll find a settings tab to set general settings. The good news is many of these are default settings. Unless you feel comfortable adjusting the settings I would leave it as they are displayed.
In the General tab:
- Make sure to enter your site title
- WordPress Address (URL)
- Site Address (URL)
- Email address
- Tick the membership box if anyone can register on your site
- Assign a new user his/her role – Subscriber, Contributor, etc. I would leave it on subscriber.
- Set the time zone
- Select the date format
- Set the time format you want displayed
- And upload your site icon – when you upload a site icon your icon will appear in the tabs of your windows. Like this image below.
In the Writing tab:
- Set the format of emoticons
- Select your default post category
- Select your default post format (it should be set to standard).
In the Reading tab:
- Select how you want your front page displayed. You can set it to show your latest blog post or a static page from the pages you created on your blog.
- The number of blog posts and syndication feeds should be set to 10 but you can change that if you like.
- Select how you want your posts to appear in the feed, full text or summary.
- Leave the Search Engine Visibility unticked.
- Select how you want your related posts to appear. Tick both boxes to show a “Related” header and tick the box if you want to use a larger layout.
- Under follower settings there is default text but you can change it to personalize it for new subscribers.
In the Discussion tab:
- The three default article settings should be ticked.
- Select your comment settings. These are the settings I have:
- Select your email settings.
- Select the comment settings. I have the “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” ticked.
- Under comment moderation select the number of links to hold a comment. You can also hold comments by writing key words that could appear in the content, name, URL or email.
- You can also select key words to blacklist comments.
- Make sure the “show Avatars” box is ticked
- Tick the Gravatar Hovercard if you want to see the people’s profile. If you don’t have a gravatar, and I recommend you get one, click here to set one up.
- Select your maximum rating – I have G-rating ticked.
- Select a default avatar for commenters who do not have a gravatar.
- Under Jetpack Subscription Settings you can select whether visitors can subscribe to your posts or comments.
- Type in your greeting text. This is what readers will be above the comments section.
- Select your color scheme.
In the Media tab:
- Select the thumbnail size. The standard size is 150×150. Make sure to tick the “crop thumbnail…” box.
- The medium (300×300) and large (1024×1024) sizes should already be set.
- Tick the box under Uploading Files to organize your uploads into monthly/yearly folders.
In the Permalinks tab:
- Under common settings select how you want your URLs to display. I recommend ticking the “post name” box.
- The “Optional” section is blank.
Remember to save any changes you make.
Now lets set up the user tab. The user tab is where you can set your color scheme, proofreading preferences and add your email and social media links for your bio box that appears below your posts. And this is where you would change your password if you needed to.
First, fill out your name, nickname, contact info like email, website and social media links Google+, Twitter and Facebook.
Then add your bio in the About Yourself section.
Next, add WordPress SEO settings and make sure to tick the ‘Enable Genesis Admin Menu’ and ‘Enable Import/Export Submenu’ boxes under User Permissions.
Scroll down to Author Box and tick ‘Enable Author Box on this User’s Post’ and ‘Enable Author Box on this user’s Archives’
Lastly, choose your blog layout settings if you don’t want the default layout of your theme.
There are various commenting systems you can use such as Disqus and CommentLuv. You can’t go wrong with whichever one you choose, just be sure to keep your non-blogger visitors in mind so that it’s easy for anyone to leave a comment whether they have a blog or not.
Also keep in mind some comment systems come with a price. I started with CommentLuv and paid for the license but now I’m using Jetpack’s comment system to accommodate every visitor and it has worked fine.
Menus and Categories
And last but not least, keep menus and categories to no more than three words. To make sure you use keywords based on your niche use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to see which terms are used for searches.
When you log in click “find new keywords”. Then, under “your product or service” enter your keywords, product category, double check the default settings and click “get ideas”.
And There You Have It
I know it’s a lot to take in, right?
If you’re not comfortable configuring these settings yourself, I’m here to help. Contact me so we can talk about a great deal you can’t pass up!
What are some of the things you missed when you set up your blog? Let’s take a walk down memory lane and share your story in the comments below!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links I receive a commission. However, that does not play a part in the products or services I promote. My ultimate goal is to share products and services I would use and have used myself.