Welcome Back Freedom-Seeker
Congrats…you’ve come a long way and you can now call yourself a Blogger!
In the previous post 14 Effective Tips For Starting Your Amazing New Blog we set up your hosting, installed WordPress, chose a theme, and added some plugins. In this post, I’m going to explain 8 Critical Ways To Optimize Your New Blog For Success. So, let’s get started.
1. Heading Hierarchy & Paragraphs (H2)
Optimizing your new blog means setting it out correctly from the start.
If you haven’t written articles or posts before, they are quite different from emails. A post needs a particular structure making it a good experience for the reader.
Break it up into small paragraphs, well-spaced apart and use headings to separate the paragraphs using a ‘Heading Hierarchy’.
At the top of the post, is the post title so this is using Heading 1 (H1). After my intro outlining what the post will be about I start the paragraphs with Heading 2 (H2). If you want to make a specific point or highlight something within the paragraph use H3.
Headings create a good reader experience, but they also allow Google to understand what your blog post is about. Google bots ‘crawl’ over your site (I know, it sounds creepy – welcome to websites)
They are looking for markers that tell them what your post is about. This will let Google know how to rank your website and posts in the search engine.
BTW…this is the beginning of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Something worth looking into but at your own pace, particularly the use of keywords in your post title, headings, and paragraphs where suitable. But, don’t fret about it now.
Blogging is a big learning curve. There’s always something new to learn and we’re all on the same curve…just at different points. The trick is not to let it worry you. There are heaps of resources around to help you like Google, Youtube, and other bloggers. Just take your time and enjoy the process. It’s fun and quite addictive!
Google Ranking Won’t Happen Overnight. (H3)
It takes time for Google to establish that your site is worthy of their UX (User Experience). Don’t worry about that for now. But getting into good SEO and post-layout practices will be well worth it for various reasons. Here’s a great article about using headings.
As explained in the linked article, it’s unusual to go beyond using H1, H2, and H3.
WordPress Classic Editor VS Gutenberg Block Editor
In case you’re not aware yet, there are two ways to write posts on WordPress. One is the Classic Editor which has always been part of WordPress. A more recent addition is the Gutenberg Block Editor.
Personally, I prefer the Classic Editor but it’s worth you playing around with both to see what you prefer. Also, eventually WordPress will no longer support Classic Editor. But there are always page builder plugins that will help you add styling to your site.
Setting Out Your Paragraphs
As an example of a paragraph size, I probably wouldn’t have one any longer than this one. Sticking to a max of 4 sentences or less where possible is a good practice to get into.
This is because readers find it uncomfortable being faced with large blocks of text within a post. Remember, this is a blog post, not a textbook…it’s supposed to be enjoyable reading.
It’s a good idea to have white space between your paragraphs. Once again, this stops the page from looking cluttered and daunting to your readers. You don’t want to scare them away with massive clumps of text close together.
Also, breaking your post up with great images creates interest as we humans are very visual. We like to see images, not just read words. Keeping some white space between the text and the images will make the page look ‘clean’ and easier on the eyes.
The best way to come up with your own style of post is to join the email lists of other bloggers, particularly in your niche, to get ideas for your own layout and content. The optimum words here are ‘get ideas’.
Please don’t be tempted to outright copy their content, you could get your hand slapped…possibly by a lawyer! Remember, anything someone else writes belongs to them, it’s their copyright. But, the same goes for your content. It’s your copyright.
This brings us neatly to our next subject:
2. Make Your Blog Legal
Your blog is a business, and like any other business you need to optimize it correctly when it comes to protecting yourself legally.
DON’T PANIC!. I don’t mean you need a lawyer. But, there are some pages you must to have on your website as a precaution to cover your backside.
You can choose to have pages that are related to where the legal entity of your business is based, eg where the address of your company is. For example, my LLC is Australian, so I chose to have my legal pages drafted in Australia.
A word of caution:
Please don’t try to use free templates available on the web and amend them yourself. Not a good idea as they won’t be worded correctly and chances are they won’t stand up in court in the unlikely event you find yourself in a dispute.
Remember…this is your business and one day in the future it could be bringing in a lot of money. Make the investment now, and gain that peace of mind.
You don’t need to engage a lawyer to do this. You can purchase the pages usually in a blogging package, relevant for various countries. Just add in your business details.
If your company or blog is based in the US, I recommend aselfguru.com (affiliate) Amira is a lawyer and a blogger so you will be sure to get the correct info from her.
3. Cookie Disclosure
My blogging business is registered in Australia but my readers can come from anywhere in the world. So, I need to have a Cookie disclosure on my site…particularly a GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) for readers from the EU.
There are many to choose from but you only need a simple one and I recommend ‘CookieYes’ plugin. You can install this like any other plugin and it can be customize it to suit your theme.
4. How And Where To Add Your Copyright Info
Always, add the name of your blog to the website footer with the words Copyright or the symbol © (check out my footer) including the current year and keep it updated each year.
5. You Must Declare Use Of Affiliate Links In A Post
If you are adding affiliate links to a particular blog post, you must disclose this within the post. This way readers clearly know that you are recommending products and services that you will receive a small commission for if they purchase using your link. Don’t forget to mention that there is no additional cost to the buyer.
I have my full blurb about my use of affiliate links in my sidebar, including the link through to my full Disclaimer/Disclosure page so my reader can get more info. Then I make a notation next to each product within a post that is an affiliate link.
On your Disclaimer/Disclosure page, explain what affiliate links are, that you only ever recommend products and services that you use and trust, and explain again that there is no additional cost to the buyer.
You can also advise them that these commissions help towards the cost of running your blog, and thank them for their support. It’s a nice touch.
Eventually, you may have affiliate links in every post so it’s a good habit to get into. Don’t be afraid to have affiliate links, your readers are used to them. We’ve all seen them on blogs…they’re nothing unusual.
6. Here’s A Recommended Table Of Contents Plugin
Once you’ve created your blog posts using the correct heading types, it’s a good idea to create a Table Of Content (TOC). You can see mine at the very top of the post. Some readers are time-poor or have a short attention span and prefer to jump ahead, so a TOC is great for them…and this is an example of ‘adding value’ to your blog.
For this to work properly, pay attention to getting your headings correct. I realized this when my TOC just wouldn’t work correctly. Guess what, I’d been so carried away writing the post that I hadn’t noticed I’d used ‘paragraph’ instead of H2.
My poor TOC was confused! Easily fixed…just frustrating until I figured it out.
So…the easiest plugin to create a TOC is Table of Contents Plus. It’s free and really simple to customize to suit your blog theme colors. There are others, do your research, but this is a simple and effective one to get started with.
When you are on the Customizer screen, make sure you check ‘Post’ and ‘Heading Text’ to show on top of the TOC.
You can change what you want your TOC title to say. I suggest you check the ‘Allow the user to toggle the visibility’ box, and check the ‘Hide table of contents initially’. Also, check the ‘Show hierarchy’.
Then choose the ‘Custom’ option so you can change your colors to suit your theme. Make certain to leave the hash symbol in front of your hex code as this will style the plugin to match your theme styles…clever hey? Change your font size to whatever you choose. I suggest no smaller than 110.
Don’t forget to hit the ‘Update Options’ button at the bottom. Now check at the top of your blog post and you should have a very neat, professional table of contents.
7. Site Kit By Google – How To Install & Use It
This is Google’s web analytics software. It’s a free plugin everyone uses to provide analytics about whose coming to your site and checking out your content. It gives you invaluable info about where your readers come from, what they clicked on, which pages get the most engagement, what time of day they are on your site allowing you to see which of your content they are viewing the most.
This is a fantastic insight that allows you to tailor your future content to suit the type of audience that’s following you. It’s best if you use it from day one. Even if you are initially choosing to have a hobby blog. Chances are you may want to turn it into a business in the future.
It also gives you info about the ‘health’ of your website like mobile usability (a huge thing to pay attention to…everyone’s on mobile) and also site speed which how quickly your site loads for the visitor.
If your site loads slowly, often because you haven’t optimized the size of your images, people will just ‘bounce’ away and that’s not what you want.
In the past, we had to use two tools that are a little bit daunting, namely Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
First, install the plugin as you have with all others plugins.
In your WP dashboard, navigate to Plugins, then New, search for Site Kit, click Install and then Activate. After you have activated it, you will get a Success message page and ask you to start the setup. This will then take you to the setup page and you will be asked to sign in with Google.
After signing in, Site Kit will ask to access your Google account. Click ‘Allow’. Next, you will be asked to verify that you are the owner of the website you are installing Site Kit on. All you have to do is click ‘verify’ and you have installed Site Kit.
Next, you’ll need to allow your site to access Google account data, say OK to this, followed by clicking the button to set up the Search Console. That’s it!
Now you’ll be prompted to visit the Site Kit dashboard where you’ll see the Google Tools.
Don’t worry about the other options on the page like Adsense, Analytics, and PageSpeed Insights. Just pay attention to the Search Console which you’ve already connected.
The next step is to connect your Google Analytics account to your Site Kit plugin. Inside your Site Kit Dashboard, you’ll see click ‘Analytics’ click ‘Connect Service’. Once again you’ll b asked to log into your Google account and authorize Site Kit to access your Google account data. Go ahead and allow it.
Next, you will be taken back to your Site Kit dashboard in WordPress, where you’ll see ‘Analytics’. You will be prompted to choose your Analytics account > property > view. The chances are that if you are new to blogging and website, you won’t already have an Analytics account…so we’ll select the option to create a new account.
Go to googleanalytics.com
Click the gear icon at the bottom left to take you to the admin panel. Click on ‘Create Property’
On the next screen, enter the name of your blog. Leave everything on the page the same unless you want to change the time zone or currency.
NOTE: You can create multiple properties on your Google Analytics account and have a different time zone and currency on each one. (not sure why you would, but it’s an option)
Scroll down and click ‘Create’. No messing with the tracking codes that we used to have to install on the website. Site Kit takes care of it all. It’s so much easier…Brilliant!
Just go back to your Site Kit dashboard on your website and scroll to Analytics. Choose the property you have just created in Google Analytics and choose ‘All Web Data’. (refresh the page if you need to) Then click ‘Configure Analytics’ to finish the set-up.
Now you have really relevant info at your fingertips about how your site is performing and the user engagement. If you really want to Geek-Out, you can go to Google Analytics and Search Console websites to get more in-depth info. But for most times, the info coming through from Site Kit will be enough.
8. You Should Start Building An Email List Now!
Many new bloggers think that being on social media is super important, and it is. However, many feel that starting an email list from the get-go isn’t necessary. But, trust me…it is super important to start growing an email list at the start of your blogging journey.
Social Media is great to have for engagement, and we’re so used to it that it seems the natural choice to get started will ALL the platforms at the start. After all, you want to be found by your readers.
Firstly, even with the best intentions, you won’t master all the platforms well, so concentrate on the ones that will get you the most engagement. Typically this will be Pinterest and Instagram…maybe Youtube if you’re ready to be on camera.
BUT…the really big issue is that while being on some SM is necessary as a blogger, there’s an issue that we all deal with regularly…the dreaded Algorithm change!
You see, social media companies can and do change their algorithms regularly, and they have complete control over your account. You could have built up a great, loyal following on Instagram for example, and overnight an algorithm change can wipe out your entire account.
It may get restored, but will it be in the same condition, or will you have lost hundreds of followers?
Even at the very least, if you don’t lose your account, you may lose some functionality that directly affects your ability to gain followers the same way you did in the past. It’s all so hit and miss and unpredictable.
Yes, you should have your social media presence, but always be prepared for issues…they’re regular. Relying solely on it to bring you your followers is a risky strategy long term.
Your Email List Is Yours. You Own It. You Control It.
So…the best way to stay ahead of the curve is to build something that the social media giants don’t control, and can’t wipe out overnight. That’s your own email list. The list belongs to YOU and you are in complete control of it.
The people on it have chosen to opt-in to hear from you, and hopefully, buy from you when you create products or use your affiliate links. It gives you the security of staying ahead of the SM giants. (Some would call them corporate bullies…but you didn’t hear that from me!)
Yes, we definitely need to build a social following BUT, we don’t have to be completely at the mercy of FB, Twitter, Pinterest etc.
BTW…I’m assuming that blogging and building an email list is totally new to you, but if you know all about it then please disregard this info.
In order to be able to build an email list, you need a type of ‘hosting’ company, similar to the hosting for your website. These are email service providers, aka ESPs. There are various ones to choose from but most bloggers will tell you there is really only one choice.
Introducing ConvertKit – The Bloggers Choice
Just about all bloggers choose ConvertKit (Affiliate) as their ESP…here’s why.
ConvertKit was designed by bloggers FOR bloggers and is quite literally the best email marketing software available. It has all the functionality and great tools that bloggers need, such as the ability to create fabulous landing pages and opt-in forms to be embedded on your website.
Plus, ConvertKit offers a Free option for email broadcasting for up to 1000 subscribers. This includes unlimited landing pages and opt-in forms.
This is fabulous for when you’re just starting out and you want to watch the budget. You can always upgrade to their other plans as your list grows and you need to make use of more complex options available.
Get started with ConvertKit (Affiliate) today and learn all about building your valuable email list.
As you build a bigger list you will need to change over to a paid subscription but I’m sure that by the time your blog is taking off, the pricing won’t be an issue at all. Even then, the starting price is very reasonable…currently $29.
Readers are savvy and they want something in return for their precious email address…and why not! They don’t want just anyone popping into their inbox. It’s a personal, private thing.
So in order to encourage readers to sign up for your list, you will need to create freebies known as opt-ins as an incentive. I’m sure you’ve seen your share of these over the years.
Being able to deliver these opt-ins digitally and immediately, along with a ‘Thank You’ message to your subscribers is super important.
Later on, as your business grows and you change to a paid plan, you’ll be able to set up excellent email funnels, allowing for delivery of different emails to different subscribers depending on the action they took, what they purchased or where they are in your funnel.
Sound like gobbledygook?
No problems. ConvertKit has brilliant tutorials and runs regular free webinars to assist you with really getting the best out of their software.
‘Woman Be You’ isn’t that old, so I’m also still learning. But I know there’s a heap of training info available, so I’m completely confident you will be able to find the answer to any questions you have.
For now, just know that being with ConvertKit is the best way to start building that all-important list of loyal fans…that YOU control!
Yes, as you can tell, I’m a big fan. I did my research…and any company that makes it super easy for me to run my business gets a double thumbs-up!
Another Reason An Email List Is Important
As bloggers, as much as we want to genuinely connect with our readers and share our message, what we are all aiming for is the freedom that comes from a ‘passive income’. This is the ‘Freedom’ part of working for yourself. It’s not just about being your own boss and setting your own hours.
It’s about time freedom, and this can be achieved by creating products such as E-books, courses, and other digital offerings that can continue to sell long after you created them…even while you sleep or frolic on a beach somewhere. Now that’s true freedom!
But you can’t sell on Social Media anywhere near as successfully as you can to your loyal followers on your list. You want to cultivate the right audience for your brand and content…people who have got to know you, like you, and trust you. These people are much more likely to buy products from you in the future.
They become your ‘Tribe’. A group of followers who are super interested in your content and message. It resonates with them and this is what blogging is all about…connecting with like-minded people.
Even if you choose to be a hobby blogger initially. Sooner or later, someone will ask you “why don’t you teach us how to do X, Y, or Z?”. So, you’ll find yourself creating products.
Like the owners of the goat farm in the previous post. They made products all about treating goats with bloat, among other things. BANG!…hobby blog turned really successful online business.
So do yourself a huge favor. Sign up for ConvertKit now, at the start of your blogging business. Watch the tutorials and you’ll easily be able to get started. Building a list really is that important.
Hopefully this post has given you a good understanding of some of the ‘moving parts’ related to blogging. It really is a lot of fun once you get it all set up. You’ll experience such a thrill when people read your blog and interact with you.
Don’t be intimidated by the tech stuff. Just work through it slowly and if you get stuck, send me a message or Google it!
New, let’s get you started writing your first blog post.
As always, I hope this post has been valuable for getting you started on your amazing blogging journey. Which parts really helped you?
Let me know in the comments, I love to hear from you and please share on SM.
Hey, I wished I had read this post before I started my blog. Great advice, Lady. I definitely will look into ConvertKit. I never heard of it. I’m just using GMail.
I will also reconsider trying to start an email list. Thanks again!
Yes, ConvertKit is great. It’s recommended by just about everyone. It’s only used for building an email list (not sending general emails)so you will need an option on your blog for people to sign onto your list. Look at making a nice free gift to thank them for signing up.