*This post has been updated here & there over the years but got a major re-haul on 9/6/17
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Before you dive head-long into installing WordPress and broadcasting your new blog to the world, there are some things to keep in mind while creating it. Consider these tips for beginners, before creating & launching your new WordPress site.
Mistake #1: Using a Poor Layout or Design
One of the most important features of your blog is that it should be easy on the eyes. A clean layout without a lot of clutter (think poorly placed graphics or too many ads) makes for much happier readers.
With Google’s rules about websites having to be mobile “friendly” (i.e., websites that are optimized for any device, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops) it would be blogger suicide to go with a static theme and not a responsive theme. In fact in April of 2015, Google started penalizing any/all websites that weren’t mobile-friendly, as part of its new algorithm. So if your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, it won’t show be showing up in Google search engines as often.
And while there are plenty of free themes out there, not all are created equal. If you have the means to do so, buy yourself a theme! Our first theme was just $15 and I LOVED IT (so did you!). But time goes on, businesses grow and earlier this year (2017) I decided we needed to upgrade to a new theme (the one you’re experiencing now). Our reasoning for the new theme was mainly due to the enhanced User Experience and greater customization options. *If you get the chance to poke around our website, you’ll notice we’ve adjusted our trajectory towards more creativity (design, photography, custom graphics, etc).
If your blog doesn’t show up in a search engine, then your traffic will suffer a fate worse than death (okay, that’s an overstatement but no SEO means no traffic which equals no revenue). Try the top free SEO plugins such as All-in-One SEO or Yoast to help you craft SEO friendly posts and pages.
Another great plugin, although a paid one, is Squirrly SEO. It sits right in your post editor page, guiding you in making your post human friendly as well as providing an on-screen keyword research tool. While you can get it for free, the paid version is well worth the money.
Mistake #3: Not Utilizing Social Media Sharing Buttons
Share, share, share…and share some more! But there are so many apps and plugins to choose from. I’ve always been a huge fan of SumoMe apps BUT as of late, they started charging for ANY integration with email providers and once free/amazing list of marketing plugins just keeps dwindling. Fortunately, I recently discovered that BluChic had their own Social Share buttons (free and lovely!), including a specific plugin just for showcasing your Instagram photos (usually in the footer area of your website, like I have chosen but you can put them anywhere).
This plugin allows a new reader that stops by my site to see who I am “behind the scenes” with my family, enjoy my (beautifully branded) inspirational quotes and there’s a follow button to my IG account right at the bottom. This way if a new reader isn’t ready to commit to my email list just yet, they can easily chose to stay “in touch” by literally keeping an eye on me and the goings on of Alegria’s Muse!
Mistake #4: Turning Your Sidebar Into a Hall Closet
Don’t put just anything in your sidebar or at least, use it as a place to put stuff that you otherwise wouldn’t know where to put it. This goes hand-in-hand with Mistake #1 and can cause your blog to appear “messy” (you’ll want to keep things organized to stay sane!) for lack of a better term. Your sidebar is a good place to show off your featured content, social sharing buttons, as well as any advertising but try not to overload it with ads. You can also use it for your newsletter sign-up form as well as a little blurb about yourself.
Mistake #5: Using Bad Images/No Images
If you’re not using images in every one of your posts, even if it’s just a featured image (like in this post), you’re losing out on a lot of readership. Not only do people love visual content, but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest posts need them to get any sort of traction across social media platforms. There are plenty of places to find free stock photo images and if you’re at all good with a camera (we’re all professionals, thanks to Instagram!), you can take your own photos. If you have the means to go the extra mile, you should definitely pay for premium stock photo images. Some great places to use are Fotolia and Big Stock Photos, which have reasonably priced monthly subscription programs.
Mistake #6: Not Updating Your Site With Fresh Content
When you update your blog, you’re doing two things: providing new, juicy content for your readers and providing search engines with “pings” letting them know your blog is alive and well. These pings help drive traffic to your blog, so it’s in your best interest to keep up with your posts! Your readers will also know that you’re actively involved in your blog and they’ll want to “stay tuned” for more great content!
Mistake #7: Installing Unnecessary Plugins
I admit I’m somewhat guilty of this, but I’m getting better (promise!). Plugins that are not being used should be deactivated and uninstalled if you do not plan on using them again. Why? The unused ones, especially the ones that are still active, can slow down your website because of the massive amount of resources required to run them. Also, pages that take too long to load can be frustrating, right? Long page loads also tend to drive the average person (who is usually impatient) away from your website.
What about you? Do you have any blogging tips you’d like to share or any questions about the ones we’ve shared? Please leave us feedback in the comments section!