Starting a new blog (and business) is an exciting time. But before you launch your blog, make sure you’re ready!
Use this blog launch checklist to to see what you need to have ready before you launch your blog.
Choose the right niche from the start
Before you ever start a blog, make sure and choose a niche that is profitable. If you choose the wrong niche, you’re going to struggle to monetize your blog.
You also want to choose a niche that is popular. If you don’t choose a popular niche, you will forever struggle with trying to get traffic to your website.
When it comes to your blog niche, don’t choose a niche that’s too big or too small. I like to choose a niche that’s 3 levels deep.
For example, health is level 1, healthy eating is level 2, and healthy eating for moms is a level 3 niche.
Here’s my list of the most profitable niches to start a blog. If you don’t choose one of these niches, making money from your blog will always be an uphill journey.
Identify your ideal reader
Before you start writing blog posts, you need to identify who it is you are writing to. When you create content, you are going to write it with this ideal reader in mind.
Find out where they hang out online, what their main problems are, and what common questions they have. It will help figure out what type of content (and paid products) to create.
Find your why
Why are you starting a blog? If you want to be a successful blogger, there are going to be some tough times – especially at the start.
Find a few solid reasons why you want to become a blogger. Is it to share your story and help others? Is it to earn a passive income working from home?
Identify your reasons because they’re going to keep you motivated during the dark early days of starting your blog.
Set blogging goals
What do you want to accomplish with your blog? Set concrete goals you want to achieve. Rather than say you want to make a lot of money, make a specific goal. You’re more likely to grow your blog if you set smaller achievable goals.
Here are example goals you can set when starting your blog:
- Make $100 per month within 3 months
- Average 75 visitors per day this month
- Get 50 email subscribers in the next 2 weeks
- Publish 10 blog posts next month
Pick a catchy blog name
You shouldn’t take forever picking a blog name. Seriously, it’s not the most important thing in the world. There are countless successful bloggers with bad blog names. Ultimately, it’s the quality of your content that will matter – not your blog name.
With that said, you want to pick a catchy blog name that is easy to remember.
For this blog of mine, I chose Do Six Figures and one of my other blogs is Cash The Checks. It doesn’t matter how long your blog name is – what matters is if it’s easy to say and remember.
Stuck on finding a good name for your blog? You can look at my guide on how to choose a blog name here.
Register your domain name
Next up is choosing a domain name. While there are thousands of domain extensions to choose from, stick to the dot com extension. You also want to avoid using numbers or dashes in your domain.
Just keep it simple and don’t worry if it’s too long. The most important thing you should worry about is if it is easy to say, easy to spell and hard to forget!
You can check to see if the blog name you picked is available as a dot com below.
Get blog hosting
If you’re serious about making money with your blog, don’t start on a free blog host. Luckily it only costs a few bucks a month to get hosting for your website.
Here are your options for hosting your blog:
- Bluehost – My recommended choice for new bloggers. A free domain name is included.
- SiteGround – I started with SiteGround, used it for 3 solid years, and left with zero complaints!
- HostGator – Another good option for new bloggers with competitive pricing.
- DreamHost – Another low-cost hosting provider to look at.
- WPX – DoSixFigures.com is currently hosted here – it’s beyond fast and support is the best.
Set up a custom email address
Now that you have a domain name and hosting, set up an email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can set this up in the admin area of your hosting account. Additionally, set up email forwarding so emails going to this address get forwarded to your personal email account.
Get an SSL certificate
Even though you might not be handling sensitive customer data over your blog, you still need to have a secure website. With an SSL certificate, your website will start with https instead of http and you get the lock icon next to the URL in the address bar.
If you don’t do this step, browsers like Chrome will display a “Not Secure” message right next to your URL.
Your hosting company may do this automatically. If not, look for the SSL certificates section in your admin area of your host.
Start a blog with WordPress
Now that you have a domain and hosting set up, we need a way to create your website. One of the easiest ways to get a website (or blog) set up is by using the free WordPress blogging platform.
Most hosting companies have a one-click WordPress install so it’s incredibly simple to get WordPress set up in seconds.
Once you’re in WordPress, familiarize yourself with how the backend works because you’re going to be spending a lot of time here.
Here’s my review of the best platforms to start a blog.
Remove the default WordPress plugins
Plugins add extra functionality to your blog. However, the default WordPress plugins add a lot of unnecessary bloat to your site.
Whenever I start a new blog I first log in to WordPress and delete all of the default plugins.
Which plugins should you install? I’ll go over which ones in the next section.
Install important WordPress plugins
While you don’t need any plugins, there are a few that make your life easier.
Here are the plugins I have installed on my blog:
- Akismet – For getting rid of spam comments
- ExactMetrics – To check my stats and get insights from within WordPress.
- LinkWhisper – This plugin helps me add links to my previous posts.
- Redirection – When you change the URL of a page you’ll need this plugin to redirect the old page to the new page.
- Revision Control – WordPress by default saves unlimited post revisions, which can really bloat up your database. This plugin controls the number of revisions WordPress saves.
- Optimole – If you want a fast blog you should be optimizing your images with this plugin.
- Social Warfare – This is the plugin I use to add social sharing icons on my blog posts.
- ThirstyAffiliates – I use this to turn long affiliate links into shorter friendlier links.
- Thrive Architect – This is the page builder I use.
- Thrive Leads – I use this lead generation plugin to help grow my email list faster.
- W3 Total Cache – Caching your pages means they’re delivered faster to your visitors, and both Google and your readers want fast loading times.
- Yoast SEO – This is the SEO plugin I use and recommend. It’s important to optimize your posts for Google right from the start.
Go here for a list of WordPress plugins I recommend installing on your new blog.
Set your display name on WordPress
In WordPress, go to Users > Profile and add your name. Set it to display publicly instead of showing your username.
Set the correct link structure for friendly URLs
In WordPress, go to Settings > Permalinks and set it to display “Post Name.” This way your URLs will be displayed like this: https://www.yourdomain.com/post-title/
Choose a blog theme
The good news about WordPress is that you don’t need to hire a web designer to design your blog – you just need to choose a good blog theme.
With these two combinations, you can choose from countless templates and then edit the designs as you wish.
Remove extra widgets from your sidebar
By default, the sidebar of your blog is pre-loaded with widgets you may not want displayed.
Keep your sidebar clean by removing unnecessary widgets such as the Meta log-in widget, calendar, categories, etc.
Design a logo and choose your brand colors
When you launch a blog, you’re building a brand too. Part of your branding is your logo, colors, font, and language style.
Design a site icon
While you’re at it, create a site icon as well. A site icon is a square image (similar to the square Canva logo above).
My site icon is currently the number 6. You’ll want to keep this image simple, because this image is resized down and used in browser tabs, bookmarks, etc.
Choose your brand font and colors
Another part of your brand are your brand colors. I chose a shade of blue as my only brand color to keep it simple.
You also want to choose a font or two that you will use throughout your website. I chose Poppins (a Google font) for my blog posts.
Choose two fonts at most. One for your headers/titles and one for your paragraph text.
Create the main pages of your blog
Before you start creating blog posts, you need to create the main pages of your website first.
Rather than just build a blog, I recommend and teach in my courses to build a complete website.
For me, this means creating the following pages: Homepage, Blog page, About page, and Resources page.
I wrote an article here on the best design practices for designing your blog.
Choose your blog categories
Create 3-5 main categories for your blog. To find out what your categories should be, identify your ideal reader’s top 3-5 biggest pain points – these will be your blog categories.
For example, I have 4 categories on this blog: start a blog, grow your blog, get more traffic, and make money blogging.
On my finance blog I have just 3 categories: save money, make money, and get out of debt.
Set up Google Analytics
Checking your blog stats is not only fun, but essential to running a successful blog. Head over to Google Analytics and sign up (it’s free).
When you’re done, you’ll need to add a bit of code to your site. But don’t worry, I recommend using the ExactMetrics plugin to set up Analytics.
Publish your first blog post
Okay, you are now finally ready to publish your first blog post.
Don’t overthink this step. You don’t have an audience and nobody is reading it. The most important part of this is to just get this post published.
I wrote a guide on what to write for your first blog post here.
Write your about me page
Your about me page is going to be one of the most (if not the most) important page of your website. It’s on this page that readers determine whether you are the person who can help them solve their problem.
Rather than making your about page all about you, make sure to connect your story to their problem.
For help writing your about me page, look at my about page template here.
Create content with a purpose
Now it’s time to fill up your blog with some awesome content. It’s important to start off with a solid content strategy. This way you don’t end up writing content that doesn’t work.
You can also go to other bloggers in your niche and see what type of content they’re creating. If you can, see if you can find their most popular posts. Create similar content because if it worked for them, it can work for you.
To help write faster and better blog posts, check out my blog post template here.
Start an email list
Having a base of subscribers is important because most of your blog income will actually come from your email list – not your blog.
Create an opt-in incentive
If you want people to join your email list, you’re going to need something more than a basic opt-in form.
To get more subscribers, create an opt-in incentive (also known as a lead magnet).
You can make a checklist, cheatsheet, printable, template, etc. using Canva, then save as a PDF.
Add opt-in forms on your blog
Here are some key places you should add your opt-in forms:
- In the header of your homepage
- In your about page
- In the sidebar
- In the middle and/or end of every blog post
Create a landing page
To help get more subscribers, create a page specifically for your opt-in incentive. Remove navigation and any other external links on this page. The call to action must be clear: join my email list.
You can add a link to this landing page on your main menu to give this page more attention.
Register your blog name on social media
Let’s scoop up your blog name across social media – before anyone else does. You’re going to want to create accounts specifically for your blog – don’t use your personal account.
Even if you don’t plan to be active on a network, you should still create an account.
Create a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram, and a Pinterest business account. While you’re at it, create a YouTube account as well.
Figure out your monetization strategy
How do you plan to make money? Your monetization strategy will determine your content strategy.
If you plan to make money via ads, then you’ll need to create popular content and write viral-type headlines.
If you plan to make money with affiliate marketing, you should create review-type articles or product comparisons.
If you plan to make money by selling your own products, you’ll need to write blog posts that show your expertise and directly relate to your paid products.
Set up a business account at Pinterest
Once your website is built and you have content, it’s time to start getting traffic to your blog posts. The best way I’ve found to get traffic is from Pinterest.
Other than Google and YouTube, Pinterest is the 3rd biggest search engine, so you’re going to want to make sure people can find you here.
Create a business account, claim your domain, and create a few boards relevant to your niche. Here’s my guide on getting started with Pinterest.
Make Pinterest pins to promote your content
Making pin images is simple using Canva’s pre-made templates.
Aim to pin a new image at least once per day. If this sounds like a lot of work, batch create your pins with Canva, then schedule them using Tailwind
Ready… set… launch!
There you have it, your blog launch checklist!
Rather than wait until you’ve completed all of these steps, I recommend you start and launch your blog as soon as possible.
When your blog is new, it isn’t going to be “ready,” but let me tell you, it’s never going to be ready. Your blog will always be a work in progress, and that’s perfectly fine.
If you’ve found this post helpful, I’d appreciate it if you could save it on Pinterest!
Until next time,