Blogging / Et Al / SEO

Six-Part Checklist for Setting Up a New Blog

In the last month or so, I’ve set up a few brand new blogs, and for each one, I used the same skeleton of a checklist to keep myself on track. Truth be told, setting up a blog on its own domain from scratch can be a bit tricky if you’re not paying attention, so I thought I’d share my checklist with you all today.

Part I: Set Up Domain Name

Perhaps the trickiest step of the whole process. All web hosts are different in how they instruct you to set up add-on domains, subdomains, name servers, etc., so even if you’ve done one, you haven’t done them all. Just follow the directions that your web host gives you, and you’ll be fine.

  1. Purchase domain name.
  2. Direct domain name servers to my web host.
  3. Set up domain name as a subdomain on my web host.
  4. Direct domain name to subdomain.
  5. Create FTP account for new subdomain.

Part II: Install WordPress

This is my overly-simplified version of the Famous 5-Minute WordPress Install. Again, this can be tricky if you’ve never done it before, but it’s really not too difficult. Just dive in and do it.

  1. Create MySQL database and unique user and unique password.
  2. Customize wp-config.php file to match MySQL information.
    • Change table prefix from wp_ to my site’s initials (i.e. sja_). (This amps up the security of your database.)
  3. Upload WordPress files to the designated directories.
  4. Run WordPress installation.
  5. Change admin password.
  6. Add myself as a new user.
  7. Review and change default settings.
  8. Create a sample post with a sample comment.

Part III: Upload and Install Plugins

For each of the plugins below, I upload them, activate them, and review/change their default settings. All of the blogs I manage get these plugins:

  1. Akismet
  2. All-in-One SEO Pack
  3. Broken Link Checker
  4. Feedburner Feedsmith
  5. Google Analytics for WordPress
  6. Google XML Sitemaps
  7. MobilePress
  8. Subscribe to Comments
  9. Stats
  10. WordPress Related Posts
  11. WPtouch iPhone Theme

Part IV: Set Up Google Webmaster Tools, Analytics & Feedburner

Google provides three services that I find essential in my blog management: Feedburner, Analytics, and Webmaster Tools. If you already have a Gmail account, you can use it for these services. In the case of the Springfield Bloggers Association blog, I created its own Gmail account in case I pass the blog development to someone else.

  1. Create and optimize Feedburner RSS feed for blog.
  2. Create and optimize Feedburner RSS feed for comments.
  3. Add both new RSS feeds to Feedburner Feedsmith plugin settings.
  4. Add blog to Google Webmaster Tools dashboard.
  5. Verify blog by creating and uploading the specified file to my blog’s directory.
  6. Submit sitemap.xml file created by Google XML Sitemaps plugin to Webmaster Tools.
  7. Create Google Analytics account for blog.
  8. Add blog’s tracking number to Google Analytics for WordPress plugin settings.

Part V: Set Up Blog Theme

This step can take a long time if you’re picky. If, however, you comfortable using a theme as it was designed, it goes pretty fast.

  1. Install desired blog theme.
  2. Customize header with unique banner.
  3. Add copyright information to footer.
  4. Customize sidebar with desired widgets.

Part VI: Complete Miscellaneous Tasks

And here’s where you’ll begin to feel like you’re blogging because you are. Yea!

  1. Create blog categories.
  2. Create blogroll.
  3. Add pages and fill with content.
  4. Write a few starter posts.
  5. Delete sample post and comment.

Once I’m done with all these tasks, I spend some time tweaking the design (I’m picky) and fine-tuning my content. In some cases, I’m ready to share the blog with the world right away, but for other blogs, I’m collaborating with other bloggers, so announcing the blog is put off until it’s exactly as we want it.

Hope this post helps you organize your new installations! (And certainly, if there are steps you think I’ve missed, send ’em my way.)


13 thoughts on “Six-Part Checklist for Setting Up a New Blog

    • @xgravity23 Glad you liked it!

      @lorraine Be careful when using it. Sometimes it will bog down the speed of your backend. I think you can set it to only run checks at specified intervals.

  1. Webmaster Tools will also provide link integrity testing for you Lorraine.

    Very comprehensive Sarah. I would add some WP Settings details:
    1. Discussion – close comments on posts older than 14 days. check
    2. Reading – For each article in a feed, show FULL FEED (but we’ve chatted about this before 🙂
    3. Permalinks – choose day and name, improving SEO on your posts

    And I’d recommend the following plugins:
    WP125 and WPads when you’re ready to start advertising on your site

  2. What are some arguments for closing comments on posts older than 14 days? I have a couple posts/series of posts that generate comments regularly (like the my Google Analytic series). If people stop commenting, fine–no need to close comments; if not, isn’t the interaction on your site good, no matter how long after the initial post?

  3. re SEO, look at the permalink for Sarah’s post. WordPress shows up in the title which is much greater value than in the story.

    re closing comments, its a backup element for spam commenting issues. Akismet works very well but when you look at spammers, they tend to target older posts.

    • Thanks, Steve, for your advice to Linden and Lorraine. I would add to your SEO/permalink comment that WordPress allows you to write the file name for your posts. I don’t do this very often, but I think I read on Copyblogger that keeping the titles short (but with a few of your keywords) hits both SEO and keeps the link length manageable for sharing. And I’m still in deliberations about the summary vs. full RSS feed. Haven’t looked at my stats in a while, but I might leave the dark side.

  4. @steve: Thanks, that makes sense. I guess I haven’t ever considered it because I don’t have much spam that makes it past Akismet. I really want a capcha plug-in like Blogger has natively, but I haven’t found one that works right (or maybe I was doing something wrong!).

    @sarah: I vote for full RSS feeds. I’ve taken to using Google Reader on my iTouch, and I love being able to read IN gReader. @gdbauma does the same thing, so I usually skip over your blogs when I’m reading on the iTouch (and sometimes even when I’m reading on a computer) because I want to stay on gReader and read everything there without getting distracted. I just read later when I have time (and remember!). Just my $0.02. 🙂

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