I have a WordPress Blog. Now What?

The “now what?” moment has hit many of my clients, and I don’t like to leave them hanging. They may just want an install or upgrade but usually I end up straying into more technical aspects and even, dare I say it, blog consulting!

Blog Settings

First things first, change your password. You get given a random password, it’s hard to remember and you’ll forget it. Yes you will. Go to your profile and change it. In fact, to be even more secure while you’re there you can set up another admin user with a different username. Then log out, log in with the new admin username and delete the user called “admin”. This is because everyone knows WordPress blogs have a username of admin and this makes it slightly easier for them to try to hack into your site.

Delete the standard Hello World post. And it’s comment.

Update the About page. A standard one will have been created for you so edit it to your needs.

Change the tagline for you blog. It says “Just another WordPress weblog”. Your theme may or may not display this tagline, but the default is not what you want it to be.

Get rid of all the default standard links in the blogroll. Why link to sites that might not be relevant to your blog or it’s readers?

Configure your discussion options. Here you can set whether blog comments are left automatically or they’re held for you to approve. I like to put “An administrator must always approve the comment”, as nothing worse than spam getting through even if you have anti-spam plugins installed.

Configure Permalinks. Permalinks are the part of the URL that comes after your domain name when on a single post or Page page. WordPress handles these automatically so you don’t have to (though you can alter them if you really want to). My preferred format at the moment is /%post_id%/%postname%/ which gives the post number and then the post name (obviously).

Create Categories. This is an important step, as they will help organise your content on your blog. I like to think of categories as broad folders, like Cars or Birds. You can add categories whenever you like so you don’t have to think of everything up front.

There are many more things to do, such as set up Feedburner, change your theme, change you comments wording, add an email subscription box, set up Google Analytics and so on, some of which I will cover in future posts.

Blog Content

The above is all very well but the time comes where you actually have to write for your blog! The following is written by my blog mentor, and friend, Yaro Starak, who is opening the doors to his Blog Mastermind coaching program today!

“In every bloggers life comes a special day – the day they first launch a new blog. Now unless you went out and purchased someone else”s blog chances are your blog launched with only one very loyal reader – you. Maybe a few days later you received a few hits when you told your sister, father, girlfriend and best friend about your new blog but that”s about as far you went when it comes to finding readers.

Here are the top 10 techniques new bloggers can use to find readers. These are tips specifically for new bloggers, those people who have next-to-no audience at the moment and want to get the ball rolling.

It helps if you work on this list from top to bottom as each technique builds on the previous step to help you create momentum. Eventually once you establish enough momentum you gain what is called "traction", which is a large enough audience base (about 500 readers a day is good) that you no longer have to work too hard on finding new readers. Instead your current loyal readers do the work for you through word of mouth.

Top 10 Tips

10. Write at least five major “pillar” articles. A pillar article is a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good “how-to” lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.

9. Write one new blog post per day minimum. Not every post has to be a pillar, but you should work on getting those five pillars done at the same time as you keep your blog fresh with a daily news or short article style post. The important thing here is to demonstrate to first time visitors that your blog is updated all the time so they feel that if they come back tomorrow they will likely find something new. This causes them to bookmark your site or subscribe to your blog feed.

You don”t have to produce one post per day all the time but it is important you do when your blog is brand new. Once you get traction you still need to keep the fresh content coming but your loyal audience will be more forgiving if you slow down to a few per week instead. The first few months are critical so the more content you can produce at this time the better.

8. Use a proper domain name. If you are serious about blogging be serious about what you call your blog. In order for people to easily spread the word about your blog you need a easily rememberable domain name. People often talk about blogs they like when they are speaking to friends in the real world (that”s the offline world, you remember that place right?) so you need to make it easy for them to spread the word and pass on your URL. Try and get a .com if you can and focus on small easy to remember domains rather than worry about having the correct keywords (of course if you can get great keywords and easy to remember then you’ve done a good job!).

7. Start commenting on other blogs. Once you have your pillar articles and your daily fresh smaller articles your blog is ready to be exposed to the world. One of the best ways to find the right type of reader for your blog is to comment on other people’s blogs. You should aim to comment on blogs focused on a similar niche topic to yours since the readers there will be more likely to be interested in your blog.

Most blog commenting systems allow you to have your name/title linked to your blog when you leave a comment. This is how people find your blog. If you are a prolific commentor and always have something valuable to say then people will be interested to read more of your work and hence click through to visit your blog.

6. Trackback and link to other blogs in your blog posts. A trackback is sort of like a blog conversation. When you write a new article to your blog and it links or references another blogger”s article you can do a trackback to their entry. What this does is leave a truncated summary of your blog post on their blog entry – it”s sort of like your blog telling someone else’s blog that you wrote an article mentioning them. Trackbacks often appear like comments.

This is a good technique because like leaving comments a trackback leaves a link from another blog back to yours for readers to follow, but it also does something very important – it gets the attention of another blogger. The other blogger will likely come and read your post eager to see what you wrote about them. They may then become a loyal reader of yours or at least monitor you and if you are lucky some time down the road they may do a post linking to your blog bringing in more new readers.

5. Encourage comments on your own blog. One of the most powerful ways to convince someone to become a loyal reader is to show there are other loyal readers already following your work. If they see people commenting on your blog then they infer that your content must be good since you have readers so they should stick around and see what all the fuss is about. To encourage comments you can simply pose a question in a blog post. Be sure to always respond to comments as well so you can keep the conversation going.

4. Submit your latest pillar article to a blog carnival. A blog carnival is a post in a blog that summarizes a collection of articles from many different blogs on a specific topic. The idea is to collect some of the best content on a topic in a given week. Often many other blogs link back to a carnival host and as such the people that have articles featured in the carnival often enjoy a spike in new readers.

To find the right blog carnival for your blog, do a search at blogcarnival.com.

3. Submit your blog to blogtopsites.com. To be honest this tip is not going to bring in a flood of new readers but it”s so easy to do and only takes five minutes so it”s worth the effort. Go to Blog Top Sites, find the appropriate category for your blog and submit it. You have to copy and paste a couple of lines of code on to your blog so you can rank and then sit back and watch the traffic come in. You will probably only get 1-10 incoming readers per day with this technique but over time it can build up as you climb the rankings. It all helps!

2. Submit your articles to EzineArticles.com. This is another tip that doesn’t bring in hundreds of new visitors immediately (although it can if you keep doing it) but it”s worthwhile because you simply leverage what you already have – your pillar articles. Once a week or so take one of your pillar articles and submit it to Ezine Articles. Your article then becomes available to other people who can republish your article on their website or in their newsletter.

How you benefit is through what is called your “Resource Box”. You create your own resource box which is like a signature file where you include one to two sentences and link back to your website (or blog in this case). Anyone who publishes your article has to include your resource box so you get incoming links. If someone with a large newsletter publishes your article you can get a lot of new readers at once.

1. Write more pillar articles. Everything you do above will help you to find blog readers however all of the techniques I’ve listed only work when you have strong pillars in place. Without them if you do everything above you may bring in readers but they won’t stay or bother to come back. Aim for one solid pillar article per week and by the end of the year you will have a database of over 50 fantastic feature articles that will work hard for you to bring in more and more readers.

I hope you enjoyed my list of traffic tips. Everything listed above are techniques I’ve put into place myself for my blogs and have worked for me, however it”s certainly not a comprehensive list. There are many more things you can do. Finding readers is all about testing to see what works best for you and your audience and I have no doubt if you put your mind to it you will find a balance that works for you.”

The Blog Content section of this article was written by Yaro Starak, a professional blogger and my blog mentor. He is the leader of the Blog Mastermind mentoring program designed to teach bloggers how to earn a full time income blogging part time.

22 thoughts on “I have a WordPress Blog. Now What?”

  1. I really enjoy your short list of tips on improving a WordPress blog. Thanks for sharing, I hope you’ll continue to write more stuffs like this.

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  3. Hi Joel! Your article is extremely informative – thank you. I have a question as a new blogger: I have a wordpress.com blog (www.zenfriend.org) and I would like it to look more like this site (http://yogalifejourney.com), namely to have the social media sharing functions, easy email subscription, etc. How can I do that? Any insight you can provide would be most helpful. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Stacey – I usually work only with wordpress.org blogs mainly because you can do these sorts of things easily. An email subscription form is usually through someone like AWeber, and the Yoga site you sent uses a customized Thesis theme with the Share and Follow plugin – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/share-and-follow/ which I don’t know if it is available for wordpress.com blogs. It might be, take a look!

  4. It's funny you say that as I had exactly the same problem when I changed my posts too. After about a week though it seemed to sort itself out. You could always try downloading a new plugin from the LinkWithin site and seeing if that makes any difference?

  5. Hi Joel, I'm so glad I found your blog. I have LinkWithin plugin on my blog and I also used redirection to change the permalink on my posts. Now I am getting duplicates of posts in the linkwithin thumbnail displays at the end of the posts. Check it out at http://amyhagerup.com. Help! What should I do?

  6. It's funny you say that as I had exactly the same problem when I changed my posts too. After about a week though it seemed to sort itself out. You could always try downloading a new plugin from the LinkWithin site and seeing if that makes any difference?

  7. Hi Joel, I'm so glad I found your blog. I have LinkWithin plugin on my blog and I also used redirection to change the permalink on my posts. Now I am getting duplicates of posts in the linkwithin thumbnail displays at the end of the posts. Check it out at http://amyhagerup.com. Help! What should I do?

  8. You would put it in the Stats/Tracking Scripts section (in Thesis Site Options I think). It might be called something else depending on the version of Thesis you're using but try that option.

  9. Joel –

    Digging up an old article. My question relates to BlogTopSites. Where do I put the HTML code I'm given? I'm using the Thesis theme and not sure if I put it at bottom of Custom, Custom Function or Layout so it appears throughout the entire site.

    Thanks.
    Dave

  10. Hi Gene,
    No problem, very annoying when email is the only means of communication and you’re weren’t receiving my replies! I’ll send you a note in a minute. With regards to Pillar Articles, they should be published in your blog. To stop them getting lost usually people create an Articles page which is a main menu link and on it lists all their pillar/opinion/feature articles. A plugin called Articles can help manage this list if necessary.

  11. Hi Gene,
    No problem, very annoying when email is the only means of communication and you’re weren’t receiving my replies! I’ll send you a note in a minute. With regards to Pillar Articles, they should be published in your blog. To stop them getting lost usually people create an Articles page which is a main menu link and on it lists all their pillar/opinion/feature articles. A plugin called Articles can help manage this list if necessary.

  12. To Joel and all Joel’s viewers, this is an apology for the kind of pissy remark I made in my last comment.

    JOEL DID RESPOND TO MY REQUEST FOR HELP … AND TIMELY, TOO! His reply somehow got lost in my email bins.

    kiniguy

  13. To Joel and all Joel’s viewers, this is an apology for the kind of pissy remark I made in my last comment.

    JOEL DID RESPOND TO MY REQUEST FOR HELP … AND TIMELY, TOO! His reply somehow got lost in my email bins.

    kiniguy

  14. Hi Joel,
    Great in-depth article. Very helpful.

    Question: Should “Pillar” articles be sent to a static page on your blog? It seems if they go in archives, they’ll get lost to view.

    2nd question: Are you no longer manning the “Here to Help” feature on this blog? I’ve sent in two requests in the last 5 days (one was a follow-up) and no reply. Really need some help with my WordPress.org site, and willing to pay for it.

    kiniguy

  15. Hi Joel,
    Great in-depth article. Very helpful.

    Question: Should “Pillar” articles be sent to a static page on your blog? It seems if they go in archives, they’ll get lost to view.

    2nd question: Are you no longer manning the “Here to Help” feature on this blog? I’ve sent in two requests in the last 5 days (one was a follow-up) and no reply. Really need some help with my WordPress.org site, and willing to pay for it.

    kiniguy

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