Welcome new blogger! These beginner blogger tips are for you…
Don’t be scared – you can do this!
I remember wondering how to start a blog and jumping into WordPress for the first time.
I was, like, what’s THIS list of things???
My first blog was a hobby blog about a favorite topic of mine. A few years later, I started a business and am now running two blogs to help people on two entirely separate topics. The hobby blog was my proving ground, where I figured out what worked and what didn’t. Good times, low risk! You may be there, too, or starting out by diving headfirst into a huge blog or even a business. In either case I say “welcome, beginner!”
Oh, in case you’re wondering, here are what some of the screens on the “back end” of WordPress mean:
(Disclosure: this page contains affiliate links, which means if you buy from those links there is no extra cost to you, but I do get a small commission)
BONUS TIP #1 (yeah, right up front, just for you!)
If you pick a good WordPress hosting company they will walk you through setup and answer questions for you.
So here are 8 beginner blogging tips I believe will really help you make the most of getting started. If you’d like more tips on how to start a blog, and other important topics, join my growing audience and receive an email with the best blogging tips as I find them.
1.Pick a Domain that matches your blog’s intention
- .com or other
- Not too long
- No confusion (numbers, words that can be spelled more than one way)
- Consider future social media
Your domain name is your online identity. You want to pick something that is essentially your brand name. It could be your own name if you plan it to be about you and things you want to help people with or teach them. It could be something that identifies with your area of expertise. It could be a nonsense word that sums your purpose. Choose it wisely.
If you’re stuck on what to use, there are few online tools that can help you decide on a domain name. Just search for something like “domain name ideas generator”
Even though there are a bunch of domain extensions, the .com is still the best one for a business or when you want to look super professional. If you find the perfect name but .com is not available, take a look at the other choices like .net and see which one seems right to you.
Don’t make it too long, because it’s harder for people to remember and to type out. Don’t put the confusion factor into the name by including numbers (which might be either spelled out or an actual number), also don’t use words that can be spelled two ways (like road and rode)
Finally, consider what social channels you’ll want to use in conjunction with your domain name: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. If you want to enter the domain name you’re considering and see if it’s available AND what social channels might still be available to claim, check out knowem.com.
Think about who your audience will be and speak to them
Since the main goal of your website is to communicate to an audience and build a rapport with them, think about how you’ll speak to them. Friendly, conversational, coaching, teaching? Each could have a different tone. Choose a style that will keep your audience engaged. You no doubt will understand your topic, but if you’re somewhat new to it you may want to invest some time studying forums where people talk about the topic. You could pickup some interesting insight to use in your content, plus learn some terminology you weren’t aware of. What words are common in their world? Also, if you are writing to beginners, keep your language simple and use a tone that helps bring them along with you.
The term “avatar” is often used to describe the typical audience member you’re trying to reach. An example avatar: Jim, who is 35 years old, understands basic auto mechanics, and is trying to learn more about transmissions – or Mary, who is a stay at home mom with grade school kids and wants to learn more about Pinterest. Think of your Jim and Mary when you write… have a conversation with them and picture them receiving the information you’re providing.
Get a reliable web host (WordPress or otherwise)
You choice of web host is very important, because they are going to be your go-to for technical questions, they are going to assist you in setting up your site if needed, they are the interface between you and the internet. You need to choose a highly recommended one, with solid support and competitive prices. If you are using WordPress for your site, you’ll want a host that does WordPress hosting.
In current times, you also want a host who can set you up with a secure domain name. People are looking for security when visiting sites, providing information, and purchasing from them. You want a host who can provide an SSL certificate so your site is online with https:// in the URL and not http://
(Definition: URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It’s the web address you type into your browser)
You’ll also want a host that will take care of regularly backing up your website in case something happens to it.
My choice of hosts for my business is SiteGround. I’ve been using them since 2018 for my websites and haven’t had a single disappointment. I’d recommend them highly if you’re looking for a great WordPress host! They’d be perfect for your non-business blag as well. I also use and recommend BlueHost. Take a look and compare.
Add a favicon
- Think about a logo of sorts that you can turn into a favicon … A favicon is the little image in your browser tab that helps you stand out from all the other tabs. Even if you just need to create one in Paint or powerPOint or an online favicon generator, you ought to make one. You can install it in most themes (look for something like Appearance, Customize, General Settings)
- Hosting discounts for longer time periods
- Themes (WordPress themes page filters)
- Ability to change to another theme
When you first start out, especially if you have a business site or a limited budget, you really ought to stick with basics. When you get your hosting, compare hosting plan costs, even within the same company. You’ll see many times the price quoted is based on a three year signup. That’s good if you’re in it for the long hall but you should also think of your goal. Example: If one year hosting is $100 and three years is $250, you have a bargain. However if you decide to just quit after a year for whatever reason, you’re probably out $150 dollars. I’m just saying, think about your budget and make the best decision for you.
As you learn more and grow your site, you can branch out to more premium versions of plugins, etc. Baby steps – there are plenty of good, free plugins and themes to start with. Not to say you can’t buy the better versions, it’s just you ought to pick and choose wisely because you can go through a bunch of money and then realize your site isn’t gaining traction.
Also, look at the theme you plan to use. Make sure it can be changed relatively easy if you need to. For example, some of the drag and drop premium themes use handy little “shortcodes” which are invisible when you use that theme, but if you revert to a different theme, they can be left all over your site and require manual removal.
If you’re new to blogging, check out the standard free WordPress themes that come with your installation, or go to WordPress.org and look under “Themes”. They have a handy filter to help you narrow down your choices. Try to make sure you get what is called a “responsive theme”, too. This means the theme adjusts its layout very smoothly based on the user’s screen size and resolution. They also provide for better readability and usability on tablets and smartphones.
- Optin forms
- Double opt in
Privacy concerns are growing worldwide. They should be, too, with all the things you read in the news. When you setup your website, you need to take care of a few basics related to privacy (Note: I’m not a lawyer so this isn’t legal advice. You should consult an attorney to get the best advice. However, this is educational material that can get you thinking about your privacy responsibilities as a website owner).
Opt-in Forms: When people opt-in to your email list (and you should have an email list! Assignment: when you’re done with this article, please sign up for mine. I’ll send you the good stuff I learn and help you stay up to date on current trends!)
When people opt in to your email list, you need to make sure you include an opt in checkbox that is NOT pre-checked. They MUST check it themselves to show they chose to do so. Most email service providers include this in their opt in forms. I use and love MailerLite, and they have this form and a more robust GDPR compliant form built into their template choices. Give them a look.
Finally, a double opt-in is a smart choice. That means when someone subscribes to your list, they will get an email asking them to confirm they actually intended to opt in. Once they confirm, they’re on your list. MailerLite handles all this, as do other providers.
Email Service Provider
- Free versus paid (# of subscribers, features)
- Segment/Group subscribers
Since I mentioned email service providers, I might as well help you some more! They are the backbone of your email list. You can pay for one of their plans or you can start on one of their free plans until you get a certain number of subscribers, then jump to a paid plan.
The email service provider you choose should include a way to incorporate automation into your subscriber response plan. The beauty of automation is that you can set up a series of emails that go out based on a trigger event. For example, say you have a new subscriber and you want them to receive a series of introductory emails that welcome them, then begin to explore a topic with them, then go deeper, perhaps eventually leading to a sale. The automation handles all that once you set it up. Invaluable!
You also should have a provider that allows you to segment subscribers. For example, you write a post about flashlights. When somebody opts in to your email list from that page, you can assign them to the “flashlight lover subscriber group” That way when you have more flashlight info to send out, you can tag those subscribers specifically. Pretty awesome and easy!
Finally, support. Go with one that’s there for you. I use MailerLite and they always answer my questions in a timely manner and have a great help page with lots of useful videos.
So, here are some well-known and reliable email service providers you can choose from. Compare what they offer and jump on in.
- Oh my, there are SO MANY plug-ins! But don’t despair, there are a handful of useful ones every blogger should use.
My # 1 must-have: Yoast SEO – There is a real nice free version and a premium version that adds some extra magic. This plugin will look at every post and page you create and score it to help you optimize for SEO. Is your snippet the right length? Does your focus keyword show up the right way and in the right places? Are your sentences too long or begin with the same word? Are you using active or passive voice? How is your subheading distribution? What’s your Flesch Reading Ease score? How did you do with transition words? You get it… Powerful, and free!
Here are others I find very useful and you should look into:
- Better Click to Tweet – I favor this one among several others like it, but basically it allows you to set up a box statement in your content with something you want people to tweet, which attributes your website. Here is how one of these looks from one of my earlier posts:
When they see this box, they simply click it and it pre-populates a tweet to send out from their Twitter account. The tweet will contain a link to your site and your Twitter handle. Cool, huh?
- TablePress – allows you to set up tables very easily and embed them in your posts and pages
- Pretty Links – This plugin allows you to create totally readable, easily speakable, and exceptionally memorable short links using your WordPress-based website and domain name. So, instead of xyz.com/how-to-get-a-realy-cool-design-on-your-stationery, you end up with xyz.com/cooldesign (or whatever you choose to name it)
Before we stop, here are two BONUS TIPS for you, ones I don’t usually let out of the bag!
When you start to get comments on your site, you will no doubt notice so many of them are junk created by bots or spammers. You need something that will filter them for you.
First BONUS TIP is to setup WordPress so that you have to approve comments before they get published. That way you can allow comments on your blog posts that are actually related to your content and bring helpful conversation to your readers.
Use something like Akismet or Sucuri to help you block spam and intercept attempted logins from outsiders that could make a real mess of your site.
So there you have it, 8 beginner blogger tips that will get you moving along!
ADVICE: There are so many more things to learn, and I spread the word every time I find something new or something old that bears repeating. Sign up for my emails, I won’t spam you, I’ll just pump you up with knowledge!
One favor – Tell me one plugin you personally find AMAZING that every blogger should use, we’ll all benefit from your kindness!
P.S. – so glad you read down this far! You’re so diligent – have a FREE Printable Blog Post Checklist!