You’ve chosen your niche.
You’ve set up your website.
And, you’ve brainstormed tons of interesting blog post ideas.
But now, you’re stuck.
How much content do you need to start a blog?
Should you write 3, 5, 10 or 20 articles before launching your site?
You search around the internet and get all sorts of answers.
“Why can’t they make up their minds,” you ask yourself. “Just give me a freakin’ number already.”
Well, that last part was me (in my head). But…
You know the feeling.
So if you’re confused, frustrated or even annoyed that the blogging gurus aren’t giving you anything definitive, this article will help you make sense of it all.
By the end, you’ll know exactly how many blog posts you need to publish when you launch your blog.
Yeah, I know, you’re probably sick and tired of hearing those two words from me.
But, hear me out…
At the bare minimum, you can launch with one blog post.
But if you do, it better be a good one.
And by good one, I mean an EPIC post.
Think about it for a moment…
That single article represents your entire blog. So, it’s the only thing that anyone who visits your site can judge your blog on.
If it sucks, they may get the impression that anything else you publish later on won’t be much better.
That’s why it has to be great!
It’s the “magnet” that will lure them back in.
Ok. So, we know that ONE POST IS THE MINIMUM. But, how many posts should you publish?
Here’s why I said it depends.
Where’s your traffic coming from?
Keep in mind that your blog is meant for your audience. In particular, it’s geared towards one specific person, your customer avatar.
He/she is your target reader.
And, now that you know who your reader who is, your next goal is to find where they hang out.
- Are they in Facebook? If so, which groups?
- Are they in Pinterest? If so, how do you get them to visit your site?
- Do they read or visit any forums? If so, which ones? Are they in Quora, Reddit or some other niche-specific board?
This is all part of your market and audience research. Both of which are important aspects of your blog’s planning stage.
What Does Traffic Have to Do with How Many Posts You Launch With?
Depending on where your traffic source will be coming from, you’ll want to cater your posts, publishing frequency and number of articles to that platform.
For SEO / Google Traffic
One to three articles is enough to start.
With SEO you’ll be applying the 80/20 rule.
That is 80% of your time will be promoting your posts while 20% of your time will be spent on writing.
That’s because the reality of Google rankings is that if your article doesn’t have links, it won’t rank.
… if it doesn’t rank, no one will see it simply because people searching for that keyword will click on the articles that Google puts in the top 5 or top 10 results for that keyword.
This is why SEO is a long-term game.
It takes time to build links and authority to rank on Google.
That said, here are a few ways you can use to increase exposure and backlinks to your blog:
- Create high-quality content. This is key because people are more likely to link to articles that are uniquely valuable.
- Guest blogging on other websites
- Being interviewed by other bloggers
- Featuring other bloggers in your blog and letting them know about it
- Creating roundup posts that feature experts in your niche
- Using social media to increase your audience reach and the number of shares
Pinterest is one of the quickest ways to get traffic when starting a blog. It’s the reason why I suggest going with Pinterest while you work on building your site’s authority for SEO.
That said, Pinterest works very differently from Google.
In this case, the more blog posts the better.
The key is to produce high-quality content. Otherwise, people won’t be interested in reading them.
With Pinterest, the more blog posts you have, the more images you can pin on the platform. This gives you more opportunity for people to find your site there.
Having more posts also lets you experiment and test different images. This is key when starting out as it allows you to get a feel of what users on Pinterest like to repin or click on.
So, if you’re looking to get traffic from Pinterest, having 5 posts is a good start.
But don’t stop there…
… add at least 1 post each week.
This ensures that you always have something new to share. That way you don’t end up just repeating your pins over and over again.
Last but not least, make sure to A/B test your pins.
While it does mean more time and effort spent per post, it also helps you learn to understand what works and what doesn’t faster.
Here’s how to do it
For each post, you write,
- Create 3-4 images. Make sure to use different fonts, colors, and images.
- Test the headlines for the images as well. Try crafting 3-5 click-worthy headlines to see which one Pinterest users like to click on most.
The most important thing with A/B testing is that ONLY change one component at a time. This allows you to know what specific item makes one pin successful or go viral.
Here, you aren’t going to need a lot of posts. But, it does help to write articles as well.
Since videos are what’s going to bring visitors to your site, it’s a good idea to focus on them.
But, the articles on your site will let them get more information. It will also allow you to promote products or get visitors to sign up for your email list.
There Is No Correct Answer
In general, 1 to 5 posts are enough.
Again, depending on which traffic source you’ll be focusing on.
While you may not have a lot of readers visit your blog in the beginning, having a few posts lets them click around and see what you have to offer.
This gives them a better idea of what your site is about, the quality of your articles and what kind of value they can get from reading it.
As such, 3-5 articles allow you to show them what you’ve got much better than just one piece of content.
That said, you don’t want to go overboard.
Writing too many articles may mean delaying and delaying the launch of your blog.
From experience, I’ve found that the best way to learn is just to jump in and try…
Then, adjust as you go along.
This allows you to get feedback from your readers before writing more articles.
Doing so is ESSENTIAL because you may realize that your audience prefers a different writing approach. Or, they may like some types of posts over others.
Have a Few Posts Drafted and Ready to Be Published
That said, it’s also a good idea to have another 3 to 5 posts drafted and ready for publishing.
This will let you get ahead of your editorial calendar.
I like to have at least 3-6 months’ worth of content in the backburner just in case.
Doing so lets you schedule your posts such that WordPress will publish them automatically when the date comes.
This frees you up to do other work or in case life gets in the way when the time comes. You never know when your 9-to-5 job gets more hectic, the kids get sick or you’re saddled with extra chores or errands.
Finally, have another 10-20 article ideas lined up
By this, I’m referring to blog post ideas.
You don’t have to research them or make their outlines, just having the ideas is enough.
This saves you from having to brainstorm when the time comes to write since you already have a collection of blog post ideas in the pipeline.
So, to summarize, start your blog with:
- 1-5 published blog posts (1 is enough to launch)
- Have another 3-5 posts drafted and ready for publishing
- Be ready with 10-20 more blog post ideas
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
Last but not least, throw perfectionism out the window.
This was one of my problems when I started out. You try to make everything perfect, tweak things here and there, fix the format, design the images to the point you where you waste a lot of time doing so.
Don’t do what I did!
It’s not worth it!
And, it won’t help you get more visitors.
Instead, focus on quality and getting them done.
As long as you produce good content, your site has a neat, clean design and offers easy navigation, you’re good to go.
What Kind of Blog Posts Should You Start Your Blog With?
Now that you know how many posts to start with, the next step is to figure out what kinds of posts you can write.
Here’s a list of the common types of blog posts.
- List Posts. List posts are one of the most popular types of posts. You’ve probably read many of these before. They essentially give you a long list of tips about a topic. Some examples of list posts are “20 Reasons Why You Should Start an Email List” or “Top 10 Things Your Blog Needs ASAP”.
- “How-to” Posts. “How to” posts are another kind of popular post. Together with list posts, they’re rank among readers’ favorites. Here, you explain how to do things. Often, this involves taking the reader through a step by step process. But, there are other variations as well. “How to” posts are popular because people come to your blog to learn about and solve their problems. Thus, a “how-to” articles show them something of that nature.
- Answer a Reader’s Question. This is an amazing post because it engages your audience. By taking one or many of your readers’ questions you can come up with a post that provides the answers. That’s two birds with one stone. Not only are you able to encourage your readers to communicate more, you’re also able to help them with a question they’ve been having difficulty with.
- Case Studies. Depending on the niche you’re in, case studies may or may not be practical. That said, they work best in niches where you can create an experimental situation or follow a guru’s advice and put a certain strategy to the test. This is why case studies are popular in blogging. Everyone’s looking for a new way to improve an aspect of their blog, be it traffic, building your email list or getting more shares.
- Blog Series. This is a series of posts that focus on one idea. But, instead of presenting them in one long article, they’re broken up into shorter pieces that are released one after the other. This is a great way of splitting up an extensive subject into several sub-topics. For example, if I were to write a comprehensive guide on blogging, it will be long because there are so many subtopics to cover. So, instead of doing that, I can opt to make a 7-part blog series about starting a blog. Here, each post will cover one subtopic like setting up your blog or how do blogs make money.
- “Best of” Posts. These are roundups of the best things about a certain topic. For example, you can create an article focusing on the “Best Tools for Bloggers” or “Best Restaurants to Visit While You’re in Arizona”.
- Comparison Post / Vs. Post. When you want to compare two items, be it products, software services or even blogs, you use the vs. or comparison post. It’s like a tale-of-the-tape they use in boxing where they pit the stats of the boxers before a bout. In this case, you’ll focus on the features or characteristics of the two items being compared.
- Review Posts. If you want to let your readers know about your experience with a particular product, event, situation or service, a review post is the way to go. Review posts let your readers know about something useful you’ve uncovered and can’t wait to share with them. In doing so, it gives them a recommendation in case they’re looking for such a product or service. It likewise helps them during their decision-making process.
- Resource / Tools Posts. Whatever niche you’re in, you’ll likely find certain tools and resources that are very helpful. This post lays out the different products and services that you like and use. It also explains how these items can benefit your users.
- Q&A Posts. Question and Answer posts let you compile a list of questions that your audience is interested in and give them your answers. They’re some kind of an FAQ but more flexible. That’s because you can make Q&A posts about a topic or a whole range of topics.
- Interview Posts. This type of post features another person. Often, the interviewee is someone well-known in your niche. Or, it can likewise someone you admire or has achieved success. That said, interviews can be done via blog post where you email the person the questions and get the response back before putting them together in content form. You can likewise do a video or audio interview as well.
- Podcasts. Podcasts are a mix of regular blog posts and videos. That is, they’re audio “posts”. Podcasts are popular because they’re easier for your audience to digest. It takes less effort to listen to a podcast than to read an article. Plus, you can listen to it anywhere, even while on the train, running on a treadmill or driving to work. For you, podcasts offer two major benefits. They’re easier to create because it’s simpler to talk than to write. Also, talking makes you more “present” to your blog’s visitors. They’re better able to relate to you better because they hear your voice as opposed to just reading your words.
- Personal Post / Behind the Scenes Post / Day in your life. These are more personal in nature. They come in different varieties, but all have one common feature, YOU. Personal posts allow you to connect with your audience more than regular blog posts do because they’re able to put themselves in your shoes, especially if you talk about something they can relate to.
- Before & After Post. One of the best types of posts that help sell products and services are before & after posts. These show you how a particular product or service helped improve one aspect of your life, business or anything else. These work really well for sales and marketing because they show readers how that item can make a difference. As such, it works as a testimonial to the efficacy of the product or service.
- Traffic and Income Reports. You can likewise publish income and traffic reports to help inspire other bloggers. This is a great way to be transparent and show people how you work. If you decide to do so, make sure to keep track of all your revenue sources as well as expenses. This will make tallying things up at the end of the month easier.
Types of Blogs Posts You Can Create When You Don’t Have Time to Write
Let’s face it, sometimes, we just don’t have enough time to write a long, in-depth post.
But that doesn’t mean that you should just sit down and quickly type one out for sake of publishing an article.
When it comes to your blog, it’s always good to remember QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
- This goes for blog posts.
- It likewise works for website traffic.
- And, it sure applies to email subscribers as well.
Don’t ever, ever forget that!
The good news is that there are a few types of blog posts that require much less writing and researching. This means they don’t take as much brainpower, effort or time to create.
But the best part is, they don’t compromise the quality of your blog’s content.
Here are some you can try when you’re crunched for time.
- Ask Someone to Write a Guest Post. Because of the value of backlinks and extra exposure, other bloggers are very open to writing guest posts on your blog. As such, it lets you get “free” content. That said, it’s important to choose bloggers who you know will write high-quality articles that focus on topics your audience is interested in.
- Do an Expert Roundup. An expert roundup is a list of tips and advice from influencers in your niche. You can get their thoughts on a specific topic by emailing them a question. Then, compile all their responses into one list. While it does take a bit of work to find the emails, send the questions and compile them, it’s still much less than writing a full-blown in-depth article.
- Feature Reader’s Comments and Social Media Posts. This is another good alternative. You can sift through your blog and social media comments to see things that your readers have mentioned. Doing so can shed light on what they want more from you as well as other feedback. You can then compile these comments into a post and ask your visitors what they think.
- Link Roundup. A link roundup is a collection of interesting posts in your niche. This lets your readers see what the trends are as well as what other bloggers are talking about in the industry. Doing so also gives you some goodwill to other bloggers for featuring them.
- An Index Post of Your Top Articles for a Category. This makes it easy for your readers to find all the useful articles you’ve published on a sub-topic. For example, if you’re writing about arts & crafts, you can make an index post of all your drawing or painting related articles, with a short description under each article link.
- Curated Posts. These are a collection of different posts compiled into one article. But, the twist is that you want them to have something unique to show. Popular examples are images, videos, and quotes. For example, you can do an image curation post about Delicious 3-Ingredient Breakfasts. This will feature 3-ingredient breakfast ideas from around the web. For each recipe, you include an image of the meal and a short description.
How Many Blog Posts Does It Take to See Exponential Traffic Growth?
You’ve probably heard or read the phrase “blogging is 20% writing content and 80% promotion”.
And I’d have to agree with that.
The only exception to that is if you’re able to create such unique and amazing articles that:
- Have information that isn’t available anywhere else in the web
- Are extremely useful, informational and actionable
If that’s the case, you may be able to get away with just posting your newly published articles on social media and have them go viral.
The other exception is if your brand is already well-known.
If that’s the case, you’ll be able to piggy-back on your brand to get followers and backlinks to build authority.
That said, for the rest of us, we need time to promote our blogs and get the word out.
Otherwise, no one will see your awesome content. It’s like the question of the tree falling in the forest,
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Sadly, that’s how the internet works.
If you don’t market, promote or build enough authority to rank, no one will ever get to see any of your content, no matter how epic it is.
So, going back to the first question: How Many Blog Posts Does It Take to See Exponential Traffic Growth?
The answer is, it depends on how well you do the following:
Promote on social
For a new blog, social media is the best place to start getting traffic.
The reason for this is that traffic from Google takes a long time to build up.
- First, you have Google’s Sandbox. That’s Google’s safeguard which keeps sites from ranking in its search during the first 3-6 months.
- Then, you have to build backlinks. This takes time even if you’re good at networking and doing outreach to other bloggers.
For this reason, during your blog’s early days, you’ll get most of your traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media platforms.
The key is to figure out which 1-2 platforms work best for you.
Getting other people to share your content
In addition to promoting on social, you need to get people to share your content.
Sharing your own content and building your follower base takes time.
But, you can speed up the process exponentially if you can find a way to get people who visit your site to share your posts.
This allows your content to be seen by a larger audience.
If you get lucky and have a few influencers share your articles, it can quickly increase your followers as well.
How consistent you are with content and promotion
Blogging is a numbers game.
- The more followers you have, the more traffic you get.
- The more backlinks you get, the higher your rank in Google, which in turn, increases traffic.
- The more blog posts you have, the more likely people will find something interesting to read.
This is why in addition to the first few posts you create before launching your blog, you’ll need to make sure you publish new blog posts consistently.
This gives your readers something new to look forward to. Otherwise, they’ll stop coming because there’s nothing new to read.
Unfortunately, while everyone agrees that consistency is key, there’s no definite answer on how often should you publish a post.
You’ll have to figure this out yourself.
That’s because there are so many factors that affect this. They include your niche, audience, how much time you have for blogging, do you write short or long posts and many more.
What traffic source are you targeting?
Different types of traffic sources require different strategies to be successful.
Here are some of the most common traffic sources blogs get.
I’ve split up the different types of social media because each platform has its own unique characteristics.
- Ads. Advertising is the fastest way to get traffic. As long as you pay for it, you’ll be able to get some visitors to your website. The catch is, the traffic stops once you stop paying. So, it is costly.
- Pinterest. This is what I believe is the best way new blogs can get traffic. It’s free. And, you can build traffic fairly quickly. That’s because Pinterest runs on its own internal search engine. So, if you do Pinterest SEO decently, you should see visitors come to your blog.
- YouTube. This ranks about the same as Pinterest. But, it works better for bloggers who focus on video as opposed to writing blog posts. Because YouTube also runs on its own internal search engine, optimizing your videos for YouTube’s SEO allows it’s users to find you.
- Facebook. There are many ways to get visitors from Facebook. The most obvious is to grow your followers. Doing so lets them click on your posts to visit your site. But, as a beginner, it takes time to grow your followers. So, a better approach is to find Facebook Groups and join the discussion. This allows you to network with other bloggers and at times promote your blog posts.
- SEO. Google search is by far the best long-term traffic source. It’s free. And it’s constantly changing so new keywords keep coming out. Plus, traffic volumes are through the roof. The catch is that you need to rank in the top 1-4 positions of a given keyword to get solid traffic for a blog post. That takes time.
- Other blogs. Getting featured, doing guest posts, leaving comments and being interviewed by other blogs gives you exposure to other bloggers’ audiences. This opens new avenues and readers. But, again, it takes time to build relationships.
Is your website getting any links?
Links are the result of outreach and link-building campaigns, although some sites do get links naturally because they’re well-known or because they produce such high-quality content.
That said, you need backlinks from other blogs to rank on Google’s search.
Links are one of the biggest ranking factors in Google’s algorithm. And, without them, it’s hard to get a lot of consistent traffic from search.
This is why in addition to writing content you need to promote it.
Is your content high-quality and unique?
The internet is full of information.
As such, you need to make your content unique and valuable.
Otherwise, there’s no incentive for a reader to visit your blog as opposed to other websites.
And, in all likelihood, they already have a list of their favorite blogs to read.
So, the question comes down to:
What do you have that will make them leave what they’re currently doing or reading to make time in their day for your blog?
If you can answer that, then, you’ve got a foundation on which to build your content strategy.
What kind of content are you writing?
In addition to writing high-quality posts, it’s important to know who your audience is.
For example, I write for people who want to learn to start a blog that makes money. This lets them supplement their income or replace it altogether. That way they can live on their own terms.
As such, if I wrote about food or arts & crafts, it would confuse my readers.
This means that just because I enjoy food and art doesn’t mean it belongs in my blog. I need to be aware of who reads my blog and what their needs are.
Similarly, trying to tackle all aspects of blogging is hard to do for one person.
So, I focus on beginner bloggers.
For this reason, you won’t see me writing a lot about conversion optimization or paid traffic, both of which are more advanced topics.
That’s because they’re not that important YET when you’re just launching your blog and trying to make your first $1,000 or getting to $5,000 a month via blogging.
Are you building your email list?
While it’s not going to be your biggest traffic source, your email list is your MOST VALUABLE SOURCE OF TRAFFIC.
That’s because they’re your loyal readers and followers.
As such, they’re the ones who share your content and are most likely to buy your products and services.
Of course, that is assuming that you’ve got an engaged email list.
The other important point is that your email list is the only source of traffic that’s YOURS.
By that I mean you can reach them any time you need to.
This isn’t always true for other traffic sources. For example, your rankings may drop when Google updates its algorithm. The same is true for social media, where traffic can fluctuate.
This is why it’s very important to grow your email list.
Are you retaining the traffic you’re getting?
Getting traffic to your blog is one thing, keeping them is another.
How many of your visitors actually come back?
Try checking your Google Analytics. This will let you know how well you’re retaining your visitors.
Another way to get an idea of who likes coming back again and again to your blog is to check your Direct visitors. Direct visitors are those people who type in your blog’s name in their browser directly.
They don’t get there by clicking on a link from another page, through advertisements or by searching on Google.
Instead, they know you and intentionally type your blog’s URL to see what’s new in your site.
The number of direct visitors is one way you can tell a blog is well-known, influential or authoritative.
To do so, try checking a few of the big blogs in your niche using SimilarWeb’s Chrome Extension. You’ll notice that a good chunk of their visitors come from direct traffic.
So how do you increase your blog’s retention rate?
- Collect visitors’ emails. Having them in your email list allows you to engage in 1-on-1 conversations.
- Get to know them via surveys, quizzes, and questionnaires. These are quick and simple ways to get to know them better so you can cater your content to their needs.
- Engage them and make them part of a community. You can do this via the comment section. Or, better yet, create a Facebook Group where everyone can get to know you and your readers better.
Are your readers engaged?
One of the things you realize as you evolve from a beginner blogger to one who’s more experienced is that numbers lie.
What does that mean?
When I started blogging, I remember focusing on how many visitors I got.
But, over time, I realized that the traffic size isn’t nearly as important as what kind of traffic you get.
More importantly, this is likewise the case for your email subscribers.
What’s essential is that those who visit your blog are engaged readers. They join in the discussion and they’re active participants.
This is likewise the case for your email subscribers.
The reason is that they’re also the ones who will likely end up buying from you. And that’s where your blog’s revenue comes from.
As such, having a large number of visitors is great.
But, if they never come back, or don’t participate, odds are they won’t be purchasing anything from you. Ever.
So how do you increase engagement?
- Encourage them to leave comments and reply to comments
- Get them to join your email list and respond to them when they email you
How does your blog look?
Design plays a huge role in marketing.
This is why large blogs spend tons of money on designers to make their websites look good.
One way to look at it is to compare blogging to a car. The content you write is its engine. As such, the higher quality your articles are the more powerful the motor and faster your car can go.
But, if the exterior of your car looks like crap, no one will care to look at it, much less buy it.
So, it won’t matter how fast or powerful your engine is. No one will bother to look at it closely enough or even consider it in the first place.
This is why it’s important to make your blog look good.
Nobody enjoys visiting an ugly blog.
… and if they somehow end up finding you, they’ll leave fairly quickly.
That’s because we all just books by their covers.
The good news is, you don’t need it to win any design awards to make readers like visiting your blog.
All you need are:
- A clean design that makes it easy to read
- A menu and sidebar that doesn’t take a rocket scientist to navigate
- Clear formatting
- Font types and sizes that are pleasing to the eyes
- Colors that complement one another, and that aren’t too dark or too bright
How to Launch Your Blog (Plus Things You Should Do Before Launching)
Finally, just because you have the articles published doesn’t mean your blog is ready to go.
That’s because there are a few other important things you’ll want to take care of before launching your blog.
Here’s a comprehensive list.
Some items you’ve probably already done. If so, you can skip them and only focus on those that you have yet to do.
Planning Your Blog
These are the things you do before you install or set up your blog.
It doesn’t require anything fancy.
All you need is your internet connection and you’re ready to go.
- Choose a niche. What will your blog be about? Ideally, you want to choose a topic you enjoy writing about, one that’s profitable (has buying interest) and you have some experience in. The first 2 are MUSTS. The last one is negotiable. That’s because you can write from a perspective of an expert (if you know the topic), or a beginner (who’s learning about the topic).
- Pick a Blog Name. You don’t need to overthink this one. But, don’t rush it as well. Ideally, choose something that will let your visitors know what to expect. If you want a step-by-step guide, check out my article on how to choose a name for your blog.
- Get to Know Your Audience. Audience research is key. They’re the ones who will read your blog, follow you and ultimately buy your products. So, you want to know them as intimately as possible so you can help them solve their problems.
- Research Your Competition. Another key task is to do competition research. This lets you know who the major and minor players in your niche are. It also lets you decide if a niche is too competitive or too small a market. The benefit of doing this early is it lets you know who to make friends with. That’s because with blogging, your competitors aren’t really competing with you, they’re actually your friends who can help you succeed.
Setting Up Your Blog
Once you’ve finished the planning stage, you’re ready to get your blog all set up. A lot of these steps involve getting your blog installed and looking professional.
As such, you’ll start with a bit of technical stuff before moving on to design and branding.
The good news is, blog creation has matured to the point where you don’t need to know how to code to build a website.
In fact, it takes but a few clicks of your mouse to get things set up.
The Technical StuffThis is probably the section many of you don’t like. Unfortunately, there’s no going around it. At some point, be it your blog, email list or course creation you’ll need to tackle some technical stuff. On the upside, it doesn’t get very technical. The key is knowing what to do which I’ll take you through step by step.
- Hosting. The web hosting service I recommend for beginner bloggers is Bluehost. It’s cheap, fast, easy to use and offers solid customer support. Your host is where your blog’s physical files are saved. As such, the quality of their servers matter. This ensures that your website is up 24/7 and your blog posts load quickly.
- Register a Domain. If you sign up with Bluehost, you’ll get a free domain that comes with it. You’ll be able to choose the blog name you want when signing up for their hosting services. Essentially, your domain name is your blog name plus the “.com” at the end. I recommend going with the .com since it’s easier for your followers to remember.
- Set up WordPress. Once you have your domain name and blog host set up, it’s time to install WordPress. This is fairly easy because of the one-click installation process. WordPress lets you create your blog without having to do any coding or programming. It’s why about 30% of all websites on the internet use WordPress. That’s a lot considering e-commerce stores use different software and big sites hire their own programmers.
- Choose a WordPress theme. Your theme provides the base design of your website. This is why it’s important to get a good one. The best themes allow you to design everything in your blog including its colors, fonts, and text size. Additionally, they are responsive (adjust to different screen sizes), SEO-ready and load quickly. Here are my recommendations:
Free WordPress Theme: Astra + Elementor Page Builder
- Astra is the WordPress theme. It’s free with a paid version if you decide you need extra functionality later on when your blog grows.
- Elementor Page Builder is a plugin that allows you to design your blog posts and pages using drag and drop. This makes it easy to change colors, positions of components and text within each page. And, it’s free. There is a Pro version that you can pay for if you want extra features.
Paid WordPress Theme: Divi Theme
- The Divi Theme integrates the page builder into it. So, you can do the same things the free combination above does with fewer components. In addition, you get technical support as well.
- Install WordPress plugins. Once you’ve decided on the theme, it’s time to install some plugins. While the theme provides the design structure to your blog, plugins add extra functionality. This includes things like security, backup, spam control, and SEO.
- Add SSL to your site. SSL encryption ensures that data that passes through your site is secure. This is important considering you’ll be gathering personal information including names and email addresses. If you sell products, buyers will also need to provide their credit card information and home or business address in some cases. Having an SSL certificate keeps sensitive data safe from prying eyes. How can you tell if your site has SSL? Check the http before your blog’s domain name. If it shows https://, then your site has SSL.
- Set up Cloudflare. Cloudflare is a free service that makes copies (caches) of your blog onto its data centers around the world. This allows your site to load fast even if it’s accessed by someone across the globe.
Branding isn’t very crucial in the beginning because your site won’t have a lot of visitors.
… But, it’s good to have it set up.
That said, something basic is enough.
I truly believe you’re better off focusing on other aspects of your blog’s foundation during the first few months of your website.
It also lets you save your money for other essentials you may need as your blog starts out.
Later on, once you’re getting established, you can upgrade your design and branding to make it look uber-professional. By that time, you’ll have extra cash to spend on higher-quality designers.
Here are the basic branding components to set up.
- Logo. The easiest way to create a logo is to make a text-based logo. This is what many companies like P&G, NASA, and LinkedIn use. The reason for this is that they’re easy to create using Canva. Yet, they look good and professional. Text-based logos are also easy to add to your images if you plan on sharing pins on Pinterest.
- Colors. Your brand colors make it easy to identify you. Plus, they make your blog look pretty. The key with colors is to know which combinations work well with one another. You don’t want to use colors that clash. Or, those that can make your blog look ugly. Similarly, too dark, dull or bright colors can make it visually unappealing.
So how do you choose your brand colors?
Go to BrandColors.net.
It shows you the color combinations that big brands use.
Since they’ve done their research, you can piggy-back on that without spending millions to research which colors work.
So, go to BrandColors.net, then:
- Start by choosing one color, your base color (this can be any color you like or a color that suits your niche)
- Then, find which companies use that color
- From the companies that use that color, see which combinations you like most
- Keep doing this until you find a set of colors that you feel truly represents your brand
- Copy the HTML color codes so you can use them in your WordPress theme
- Fonts. Fonts make it easier or harder to read your posts. As such, it’s important to choose the right ones. When it comes to fonts, both the font type and size matter. In addition, do choose a good font combination that allows your subheadings and content text to complement one another.
- Go to FontPair.co. This site features different font pairings for subheadings and content that blend well together.
- Choose a font pairing that represents your blog. And, look good together.
- Take note of both font names for the pairing you selected
- Apply the fonts in your WordPress Theme
- Add a favicon. Your blog’s favicon is the small icon that shows up on the left side of your browser’s tab when a page is loaded. This lets you know which website that tab shows.
- Tweak your design. Make some final changes. After you’ve added your colors, fonts and favicon, make some (temporary) final adjustments to your site’s design. Don’t worry, you can keep adjusting as you go along. Just don’t spend too much time doing so that you end up focusing less on other more important things.
- Set up your sidebar. Decide what items you want and don’t want to put in your sidebar. What you place there really depends on you. A good way to find inspiration is to take a look at the sidebars of your favorite blogs then decide from there.
- Add an easy to use and clear navigation menu. Your main menu is very important. Its goal is to allow new visitors to easily move across your site to find what they’re looking for. But, don’t put too many items on the menu. For the most part, your home page along with the 3-5 main categories your blog is about will make up your main menu.
- Create your legal pages. These are one of the most important pages of your blog. Although almost nobody will visit them, it’s important to put them up because they keep you safe from liability and let your readers know that their private information is safe with you.
- Set up a custom email address. Having a custom email address makes you more professional when you reach out to other bloggers or communicate with potential sponsors. For example, if your blog’s name is peachesandcream.com, wouldn’t it be more professional to send emails from firstname.lastname@example.org as opposed to email@example.com? BTW, peaches & cream is just something off the top of my head. I don’t know if anyone owns that blog name.
- Set up your gravatar. Your gravatar is the photo of you that shows up when you leave a comment on blogs, both yours and others’. It is a free service. More importantly, it makes you look more professional when you leave comments on other blogs.
- Create an about page. Lastly, there’s your about page. This is one of the most important pages in your blog because it introduces you to readers. When a new visitor comes to your blog and gets curious to know who’s writing the article they’re reading, they can refer to your about page to get to know you. This is one of the easiest ways to connect with your audience.
Testing Your Blog’s User Experience
Don’t let the heading of this section intimidate you, this part is actually quite easy. All you’re doing is double-checking how your site will look and perform.
This is important because you want to make sure your blog looks perfect no matter what device or where any user tries to access it.
- Check if your blog is mobile-friendly. This ensures that your blog appears as it should look in mobile devices. Considering that most of your readers will likely be using mobile devices to access your site, you want it to look “right”. To do so, go to Google Mobile-Friendly Test and enter your blog’s name. The tool will then tell you if your site is mobile-ready or not and show you a screenshot of the URL you entered.
- Do a speed test. Page load time is important for both Google’s ranking algorithm and user experience. The faster your site loads, the less likely visitors get tired of waiting for a blog post to show up. Similarly, Google considers page load speed as a factor in its ranking algorithm.
Here’s how to check your website’s speed/loading time:
- Go to Pingdom Website Speed Test
- Next, enter your blog’s name
- Choose a server location (“test from”)
- Press “Start Test”
This will show you how many seconds it takes for your site to load.
If you haven’t set up Cloudflare yet, you may notice that your blog’s load time in other parts of the world is slower. That’s because of the extra time it takes for data to travel there.
Cloudflare eliminates that lag time so your website loads quickly even if the visitor is located in other parts of the globe.
- Navigate through the menu and pages. Do some simple user testing to see if your blog’s navigation works properly. Or, if you missed any items on your menu. The goal here is to make it easy for users to get to anywhere in your blog. Additionally, it should allow them to search for specific keywords or topics. Ideally, you should ask someone else to do this. Watch what they do and ask them for feedback. This will let you see how your visitors are likely to navigate through your blog.
Tracking and Monitoring
Like the previous section, this is another heading that sounds daunting.
Yet again, it’s not.
The goal for this part of your blog setup is to allow you to monitor your site. This includes traffic as well check if there are any errors.
- Google Analytics. This is a free service Google provides that allows you to track and monitor traffic to your website. This information lets you analyze where your visitors come from and what pages they visit among other things.
- Google Search Console. In addition to Google Analytics, you’ll also want to set up Google Search Console. This is likewise a free service you can use to analyze your site. This time to track which posts are indexed as well as if there are errors in your website.
- Create an XML Sitemap. An XML sitemap lists out all your blog’s posts and pages. This allows Google to understand how to crawl your website. It’s like a map that Google’s crawlers follow to discover all the pages in your blog. If you installed Yoast SEO, then you’ll be able to create a sitemap with just a click of a button.
Now that all the setting up is done, it’s time to get down to business.
That is, creating content.
Here, it’s time for you to decide what you’ll write about and how you’ll go about writing it.
Here’s a quick summary of the basic steps.
- Brainstorm blog post ideas
- Do the research and create an outline for your post
- Write content
- Proofread and edit your content
- Add high-quality images and relevant videos
- Make sure all the links in the post are working
- Add categories and tags
If you want a more comprehensive list, check out my step-by-step guide to creating your first blog post.
Similarly, you can go through my list of things to do before and after you publish a blog post here.
Set Up Your Social Media Channels
Finally, set up your social media accounts.
In addition to signing up for them, set up your profile pages and tweak their designs as well.
Now you know exactly how many blog posts you need before you launch your website.
More importantly, you understand why you’re writing that many articles.
… along with what kind of content you can write.
I’ve laid out the all the things above.
Plus, how to successfully launch your blog step by step so you don’t have to spend time researching and piecing together partial information from around the web.
I know how much time that takes! And it’s not something I want you do have to do.
I’d love to know what kind of content you decide to go with to launch your blog. And why did you choose to go that route?