Hindsight. You know what they say about it, right?
There have been so many mistakes — nay, let’s call them lessons learned — since I first started my blog a million years ago (2007). Most of them have been constructive, and helped me make my blog its own business, and then make my business another business with the launch of Make Media Over.
But had I started with some best practices that I now recommend to my clients, I think I would have saved myself a lot of time, some serious money and a ton of stress. So I hope that by sharing them with you, you’ll reach your own goals!
(And as I can attest, it’s really never too late to restructure, fix and move forward with these best practices. So if, like me, you have been doing things one way for years, don’t be overwhelmed. You eat the elephant one bite at a time…and I swear, that’s my last folksy saying for this post.)
5 Things to Do From Day One in the Blogging Business
Start with a self-hosted WordPress.org website.
I have migrated myself and clients from Blogger to WordPress. From WordPress.com to WordPress.org. From Squarespace to WordPress. There are so many options out there, and yes — FREE! EASY TO BUILD! ONE CLICK INSTALL! — is very tempting, but if you have any intention of making your blog more than just a hobby journal, I think you save yourself a lot of stress and heartache by just jumping right to WordPress.5 things to do from day one in the blogging business.Click To Tweet
You have control over your design. You unlock all of the tools a person could need. You can successfully monetize through ads, sponsored post, e-commerce sales and more.
In the grand scheme, it’s not a large investment for hosting (and you can start with a free theme even though this is another place where I think a premium theme is worth using — see my recommended resources).
Two bonus things I would do on WordPress itself:
- Use excerpts right away
- Set featured images from the start
Operate as a business.
Boy, oh boy. I’m playing catch-up on this one and it’s no fun. If you are going to:
- run ads
- offer sponsored posts
- sell products or services
- use affiliate links
- sell against your newsletter or social media platforms
- make money or offer advice
BE SMART. Create a separate PayPal and/or bank account for your business and at least consider your business structure.Save yourself some stress down the line and be smart about your blog business setup now!Click To Tweet
I am not a laywer. I’m not an accountant. But I’ve consulted both as I’ve incorporated and cleaned up my accounting. And if I could go back in time, I would have started with this structure instead of trying to retrofit now.
(And make sure that you do speak with a tax expert — paying estimated quarterly taxes is NO fun but it can save you a lot of heartache at tax time.)
Set up analytics and Google Search Console.
It’s astounding to me how many clients I work with who have been blogging for years, have a ton of page views, make a lot of money…and don’t have their Google Analytics and Google Search Console verified.
Not only is it crucial when working with brands, it gives you critical information about your audience, your top posts, your search traffic and any issues that you may have with malware, manual actions from Google and more.Do you have Google Analytics and Google Search Console installed (and verified) on your site?Click To Tweet
And it’s FREE:
The sooner you set these up, the better, because they can only collect data once they’re installed. So if you’ve been blogging for a year and install the code today, you won’t really have a good measurement of your traffic for the previous 365 days.
Build an email list thoughtfully.
I know, I know. You’re probably sick of every coach, consultant and all of the self-proclaimed ninjas and gurus telling you you have to have an email list. You don’t have to. It doesn’t magically bring you page views or sales. You have to work it (and work with it).
But step one is collecting email addresses, and doing so with purpose. What value can you offer your readers? What do you do with the list once you have it? How easy do you make it to sign up?
I use two tools that have really changed my email marketing game:
(But I have more details and recommendations on my Recommended Resources page!)
Wear the white hat.
The other tips in this post are a bit more specific and more strategic. This one is just a reminder. You’ll see a lot of bad behavior on the Internet. There are a lot of successful, well-intentioned bloggers who just don’t know the rules for disclosure, nofollow links, etc.
You do. So even when it feels like you’re the lone ethical holdout, your reputation and integrity are worth the effort.