Looking for the ultimate blog startup checklist? You’re in the right place!
Did you recently start a new blog?
Need a blog startup checklist?
Hi there! I’m Chantal. I’m a mom of two and the owner of this site. Welcome!
I remember when I started my first blog (way back in 2014), and it was confusing and intimidating! I really didn’t know what to do.
I ended up spending hours on end reading tutorials and watching YouTube videos about how to get started.
Hopefully, this list will save you a little bit of that headache!
While the times may be a little different now, I still 100% believe in the power of blogging and the potential it has to change your life.
So if you’re just getting started blogging with high hopes, I’m here to tell you that it is not too late. You just want to get started the right way so that you don’t have to spend a few years lost on the internet (like I did) before getting any results.
Since my first blog, I’ve started several other blogs.
By now, I have blog startup almost down to an art.
Honestly, there are so many things that need to be done when you start a blog. Different bloggers will tell you different things, but if you’re new, a little direction can’t hurt.
Regardless of the advice you get, blog startup doesn’t have to be an ugly, frustrating process – it’s actually quite fun!
I’ve found that whether you’re brand new or you’ve been at it for a few months, there are always more things to be done in the blogging world.
The list I have brought to you today is full of things that should be done as soon as you can after your blog startup. Actually, many of them should be done before you officially launch your blog (go public and start promoting), but some can be done as you go.
However, don’t think that you should do them all in one day. Pick 2-3 to work on per day (or even per week) and work your way through. (The blog startup list is is no particular order.)
These tasks will help you get started on your blogging journey but remember that you may not need to do all of them. You may even add others that aren’t here.
I think that each of these tasks is important for blog startup, but you may have different goals than I do. (Make money?)
P.S. Some of these tasks assume that you use WordPress for your blog. If you use SquareSpace or another blogging platform, some of these might not apply to you.
The Ultimate Blog Startup Checklist
1. Install a theme to help customize your blog.
Themes are pre-built styles that you can just slap onto your website to make them pretty. You can change their colors and a bunch of other things, but they help you format and build pages and layouts. I love themes from Restored 316. (The theme you see here is called Create.)
This is one of the more enjoyable items on my blog startup checklist, so have fun!
2. Change your permalinks to “custom” or “post name.”
If you’re using WordPress, check your dashboard settings under “permalinks” to make sure that your URLs will not just have random numbers or dates in them. Instead, they should have titles/names or keywords.
This will help with SEO (that’s search engine optimization) and make your URLs a bit prettier and more user-friendly.
3. Install the Yoast SEO plugin to help you learn search engine optimization.
Plugins confused me when I got started blogging. Think of them like apps you’re installing on your site to help you do specialized tasks. YOAST SEO acts as a guide to help you write better posts for Google.
4. Set up a Pinterest business account for your blog.
Pinterest is a great way to start getting traffic to your website. For new bloggers, it’s a great way to get started finding an audience. For me personally, it has brought me anywhere from 20,000-50,000 visits per month.
Set up a Pinterest business account and then find out how to optimize it with this post.
5. Change your comment settings in WordPress.
Unless you want to get a bunch of spam or weird comments on your blog articles, you may want to consider changing your “discussion” settings.
You can choose when to get notifications and when to approve comments. I personally like to manually approve all of the comments and I opt out of an email being sent to me when someone writes one.
6. Set up an email account just for your blog.
A Gmail works but I personally have an official website email that forwards to a Gmail account. Your web host will provide email options, so set up an email with your host (mine is Siteground) and then you will be ready for any other services you may need down the road. Some plugins and services require that you have one!
P.S. This is one thing on my blog startup checklist that I wish I hadn’t ignored back. in the day.
7. Add a Gravatar to customize the user experience.
You know how when you’re commenting on a website, there’s a little thumbnail picture? That will be there when you respond to comments on your own website, and it will be blank unless you add a Gravatar picture. You can add your own and it will show when you comment on other blogs as well!
8. Add a logo & icon.
Maybe this should be higher on my blog startup checklist, but oh well. If you can’t buy a professional logo then keep it simple by making one with Canva. I do 100% of my design in Canva and recommend it to everyone!
9. Set up an Instagram account for your blog.
Obviously, this is optional, but if you’re serious about getting brand partnerships and a loyal audience, I recommend it. You don’t have to be on every single platform to do well, but Instagram is a good one.
10. Sign up for free services to automate your social media.
There are a lot of free trials and other free services that can help you plan out and automate your social media. They are optional but you might find that they save you a lot of time.
10. Change your time zone in WordPress.
It can be really helpful to change your time zone if you’re automatically sending out newly published posts to readers. However, since you have the ability to reach people all over the world, this is optional.
11. Activate the Akismet plugin to block spammers.
You will quickly learn that spam is prevalent in the blogging world. Bots and creeps are everywhere, unfortunately. You can automatically block them with a plugin. I use one called Askimet.
12. Set up a Flipboard account for your blog.
Flipboard is sort of like an online magazine where bloggers and other websites submit their work. It can help people find your blog.
13. Create a FB page & group for your blog.
If you’re serious about building a brand and getting traffic, you may want a Facebook page for your blog. Use matching profile pictures and colors to solidify your brand.
14. Set up a Youtube channel (optional).
This is an option if you’re going “all-in” and looking for another revenue stream, but it’s time-consuming. If you’re planning on supplementing your blog with videos, try it out.
15. Make a Twitter account for your blog.
Yep, I guess people are still using Twitter. 🙂 Here’s mine.
16. Make cover images for social media.
Once you set up social media accounts, you’ll want to customize them. Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook all have the option to add a cover photo. I use Canva to make mine.
17. Make a favicon/icon for your site.
I mentioned this earlier but I’ll mention it again because it’s easily confused for a logo. This will be a smaller, branded icon that will show up in web browser tabs. It can also be used as a substitute for your logo when appropriate.
18. Upload a professional photo for your social media accounts.
I use the term “professional” loosely, as these days, your iPhone photos should do the truck. However, I highly recommend using a picture of yourself and using the same one consistently across all social media accounts.
19. Fill out your “about me” page.
Building a loyal audience starts with building trust. Tell people more about you and your website by filling out your About Me page. Most themes will have a pre-built one that you just have to edit.
20. Create a contact form.
If you want to give people (or brands) the ability to contact you, you can do that with a fillable form. There are all sorts of plugins that can be used to make these!
Your theme may already have a “dummy” page dedicated to this, so check for one before making one from scratch. If you plan to sell anything, run ads, or be an affiliate, you’ll need one of these at some point.
22. Sign up for an email service.
One major mistake that I made early on was to skip over email marketing. I didn’t collect email subscribers and I’m sure I missed out on a lot because of it. Once I wanted to start selling my workout programs, I didn’t have that audience to sell to. So now I use MailerLite to collect emails and market my programs.
23. Create an email freebie (opt-in) to send newsletter subscribers.
Of course, not many people want to sign up for email newsletters unless they benefit from it somehow. That is why most bloggers offer a freebie or “opt-in” incentive in exchange for the email. I offer mine a library full of fitness trackers and PDF downloads so that they can get some value.
24. Sign up for Google Analytics
This will help you learn how people are getting to your site, as well as what they do once they get there. Don’t worry, setting this up is as easy as installing the Google Site Kit plugin.
25. Add the SumoMe plugin to your site for easy sharing & signups.
Some themes also have a sharing plugin, but you definitely need one so that people who love your content can share it!
26. Make your site mobile-ready.
Your theme will play a role here, but you can help your site look good and perform well on mobile devices with a plugin if it’s not already optimized.
27. Create categories for your blog posts.
Once you have a handful of posts written, you’ll want to put them into categories that help readers find what they want. You can do this in the WordPress dashboard under “Posts.”
28. Submit your site to major search engines.
You will want to submit your sitemaps to search engines in order for them to know your site exists. I generate sitemaps using the Jetpack plugin but there are others that do it.
29. Sign up for a StumbleUpon account. (No longer!)
There are still a ton of places to share your content online. It just depends on your niche.
30. Write 5+ posts before going “live” and beginning to promote your site.
No one wants to visit an incomplete site, and Google doesn’t like dead-ends. Make sure you’ve written quite a bit and edited your site before you go “live.”
31. Decided what widgets to put in your sidebar (if any).
Widgets are kind of an older thing and some themes don’t even have them anymore. However, you can still see them on a lot of sites on desktops or larger screens. These are just little blocks of info or places to add content.
Most people have a short “about” blurb, maybe a picture of themselves, or things like a disclaimer in their sidebar widgets.
32. Put social media “follow” buttons on your site.
Your theme will probably have a spot for this at the top but also in the footer. Just be sure to actually add your links.
33. Apply for “rich” pins using Pinterest’s rich pin validator.
You need your pins to be fully “readable” on Pinterest, so make sure you have your business profile set up and that you use this validator to set things up properly.
(I know, it’s a lot. But soon you’ll be a pro, trust me!)
35. Ask to join Pinterest group boards.
This may or may not be a thing of the past. At one time, being on group boards was important for Pinterest traffic. I personally still use them all of the time, but I Pin to my own boards more than ever, too.
If you get invited to a group board that is relevant to your niche, it’s not a bad idea to accept. You can pin to it in hopes of reaching an audience beyond your personal followers.
36. Sign up for Tailwind to start automating your Pins and scheduling Instagram posts.
Tailwind is a Pinterest pin scheduler (it also works for Insta) and it was a big deal when Pinterest was hot. I still use it sparingly, but find that for some niches, Pins actually do better when manually Pinned.
However, it can be helpful to get some traction when you’re starting out, and since there’s a free version, it’s worth a try.
37. Sign up for ShareASale to start selling as an affiliate on your blog.
If you aren’t familiar with affiliate marketing, you will learn pretty quickly that everyone is using it. (Here’s a post explaining how affiliate marketing works.)
You can find the marketplace I use (ShareASale) here. It’s full of brands to partner with to make money on your blog.
38. Create 10+ boards on Pinterest that are related to your blog topics.
This is an underrated item on my blog startup checklist. Fill them with relevant pins and don’t forget to give each board a description. This helps Pinterest figure out your niche.
39. Plan relevant social media posts.
Don’t just blindly post whatever you feel like posting. Consider each post’s purpose and audience before posting.
40. Make a blog post schedule.
This is up to you. I, however, have always just posted whenever the urge hit me. This ensures that I’m writing from a good place instead of being robotic, but it also has made it harder to take the “serious business” approach. Again, it’s really up to you!
41. Brainstorm blog post topics.
I love doing this. Pinterest and other blogs are my favorite source of inspiration. It’s always nice to have a big long list of potential articles.
42. Do research on what ad network you may want to use on your blog.
I am lucky enough to be with Mediavine for my fitness site, but that takes some work! Just know that if you plan to make money from ads on your site, it’s going to require some pretty serious traffic. My ad network requires 50,000+ monthly sessions but others require a little less.
43. Find other bloggers in your niche and follow them on social media.
I do this to connect with others and also to get inspiration. Sometimes this leads to the opportunity to collaborate and if anything, it’s just networking.
44. Set goals you want to reach by the one-year mark.
I like to set blog goals every year to make sure that what I’m doing it actually paying off. I also keep detailed notes on what I’m working on or new strategies I’m trying. This helps me figure out what to quit doing.
45. Keep a notebook on the things you do and learn.
I already mentioned this, but I feel like it is important to be able to look back and see what you’ve accomplished. It’s also good to remember what’s working and what isn’t.
46. Take a free social media marketing course.
There are all sorts of courses out there, so don’t get overwhelmed. Just be careful not to take too many at once, and always take the free ones first!
47. Completely fill out your profiles using relevant keywords on social media.
Keywords are the search terms that people might use on Google, Pinterest, Instagram, and more. Make sure you think about what your ideal audience might be typing in before you write your descriptions.
48. Fill out the descriptions on your Pinterest boards, too.
This is actually super important. If you aren’t sure what to write, you can do a little “keyword research” by testing them in the Pinterest search bar. If you don’t get enough results, try something else.
49. Start commenting on other blogs in your niche regularly. Make connections!
I did this a lot back when I started, but now I do it less because I’m so busy with other things. However, it’s still a good way to make yourself known to other bloggers.
50. Read a few blog posts about how to get started making money with your blog.
I guess I should have put this at the beginning of my blog startup checklist, but here it is. If this blog of yours is going to be a side gig (or your career) you may want to read this post about how to make money blogging.
Whelp – that was a lot!
Did I miss anything on my blog setup checklist?
If you’ve been a blogger for a while, what would you add to this blog launch checklist?
Also, if this blog startup checklist was helpful to you, let me know in the comments!