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.

How To Add An Email Subscription Box To Your Blog

Another of the great questions I got in response to my newsletter is regarding how to add an email subscription box to your website or blog. So I’m going to look at two methods, Feedburner and AWeber.

Feedburner

Feedburner is a service where it makes it easy for people to subscribe to your feed, and tracks all your subscribers in one location. They also provide an email subscription service, where subscribers will receive a daily email containing all your blog posts for that day (no posts = no email, 10 posts = 1 email).

1. Log in/sign-up to Feedburner (to sign-up you’ll need your blog’s RSS feed which will be something like this http://www.your domain name.com/feed/).

2. Once logged in or set-up, click on your Feed name to go to your Feed Stats Dashboard.

3. Then click the Publicize tab – See the image below.

4. In the left hand column you will see an option called Email Subscriptions, click this.

5. Choose how you want your email to be delivered. For now we’ll choose Feedburner.

6. Click Activate to begin the service.

7. You will now be presented with the form code to put on your site. Scroll down past the AWeber instructions to read how to put this on your blog.

AWeber

AWeber is a professional email newsletter and autoresponder sequence service. I’ve been a member of over a month now and have been thoroughly impressed with their service. From the quick technical support, to the flexibility of their autoresponder and newsletter broadcasts, if you don’t mind paying for a great solution then I would definitely recommend giving their 30 day risk free membership a go (note this isn’t free, just risk-free meaning you can get a refund within 30 days).

To create a sign up form, simply sign into your account:

1. Go to List Settings > Web Form. If you have not set up you list you will be asked to enter certain details before being able to proceed.

2. Press the Create Web Form button.

3. On the form details tab enter:
Form Name: Your unique name for the form
Type: In this example we’re just doing the in-line form, we can experiment with others later (like the Pop-over/Hover that appears on my Contact page for new visitors).
Thank You Page: We can customise this later, for now we can leave it as AWeber’s default page.
Ad tracking: You can give you form a name here so if you have multiple forms you can see which one a subscriber used to sign up.
Press Next.

4. The Design Form window will appear. I like to keep the form short and simple, maybe adding the Name box like I have. Just hover over it with your mouse and press the green + button when it appears. You can also add a headline to your form, and change the name of the submit button. You can always change the form options later.

5. Once you press Save you will be taken back to a list of all your forms. You will see a Get HTML column, and link. When you click on that you will be presented with two options: Javascript or raw HTML. I recommend using the javascript form, the difference is with the javascript form you can track the number of times it is displayed (and compare it to number of sign-ups to find out your sign-up rate), and while the HTML form doesn’t allow this, it does allow you to customise the form outside of AWeber. For now we’ll stick with the javascript.

Adding the code to your blog

If you have signed up for Feedburner, or AWeber, then the act of putting the code onto your blog is essentially the same. Here I will show you how to simply add the code to the sidebar of your WordPress blog (version 2.5+) and am assuming your theme is widget enabled.

1. In another window or tab, open your blog. You will need your email code window still open, so don’t close that just yet.

2. Go to your WordPress blog’s management dashboard.

3. Select Design, then Widgets.

4. If you see no widgets here then your theme may not be widget enabled and you will have to add the code directly to your theme files. Please contact me if this is so and I can talk you through the options.

5. On the left hand side, find Text Widget and press Add to add it to your sidebar on the right hand side.

6. Once added on the right hand side, press Edit to open the widget. At the top of the widget you can give the widget a title, such as “Subscribe to Email Updates”.

7. As shown in the image above, copy the code that you’ve been given by your email service (javascript of HTML) into the main body of the text widget. Don’t worry about changing it for now.

8. Once you have the widget title and code in place, remember to press Change to close the Text widget box, and then press Save Changes.

Your subscription box should now appear on your website. In a later tutorial I’ll show you how to change the styling of this. You can re-order your sidebar widgets by dropping and dragging them up and down your sidebar. Just remember to press Save Changes in order to see the results on your website.

You can also put this code in the body of a blog post too, like my newsletter sign up box below! Any questions, or problems please let me know.