You’ve started your blog.
With those first few fledgling steps, you are now officially ahead of the majority of people who ever dreamed of earning an income from a blog.
But before you really get started hammering away at your content, here are a few things I recommend that you do before you start cranking out your posts.
I tell you this not to sell you stuff, but to highlight the mistakes I made when I first got started. This isn’t EVERYTHING you need to know…..there’s a lot to know, but not so much that you should wait to start. I’ll link the get-started-blogging posts all at the bottom of this post as I work through them and get more of them up.
And here we go……
Don’t Put Off Setting Up Your Permalinks.
What are permalinks? Look up at the URL that is in the browser. On this site, you’ll see something like https://momadviceline.com/making-money-blogging-as-a-beginner/ (which is the URL of another recent post).
In that URL, you can see the name of the blog (or course), along with the title of the post. That URL also gives you a pretty decent idea what the post is going to be about if you click on it.
However, in WordPress, the URL does not default to this set up. In fact, in most cases, the default URL in WordPress kicks out a URL that looks like:
The thing is….no one tells you in the beginning that the appearance of the permalink matters. And yet, it does. Users who are skimming through the various blog articles in the search results look at the URLs when determining which articles to click on.
Invariably, they will select articles that show something in the URL title that relates to their search, or just looks nice and neat. They will shy away from the jumbles of letters and numbers and backslashes. They don’t want to waste their time on articles that don’t give them the information they are seeking.
Further, depending upon who you ask, search engine optimization experts will tell you that having the keywords you are centering your blog post around can improve the visibility of the post in the search results. I’m no expert in SEO, so don’t take anything I say about keywords in the URL as THE WORD, but the research I’ve done suggests that the URL matters for SEO purposes.
SEO is an ever changing and moving target, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the SEO impact of the keywords in the URL. Instead focus on the very real impact of the URL on the user, and the influence it has upon whether or not the user will take a chance on your article.
I do know that setting up your permalinks to the blog post title or to actual words versus gobblety-gook looks a lot neater, and if you don’t do it right away, it is a HUGE headache to deal with.
If you don’t set it up right away, and decide to do it later, you end up with broken links to all your blog posts all over the place. It isn’t unfixable….you can do a 301 redirect from the old gross URLs to the nice new neat URLs using a free WordPress plugin like ReDirection, but it is still messy and it could still have a negative impact on the ranking of your site.
I tell you this because I did it the wrong way more than once. And I ended up with messy URLs, tons of broken links, and a giant cluster to clean up. And frankly, I don’t even think that I totally understand what sort of impact all of those 301s have (or had) on the site.
So how do you set up permalinks when you start your blog?
Step one: Go to your admin dashboard
Step two: Click on “Settings” from the menu options on the left, and then click on “permalinks”
You’ll see a screen pop up like the one pictured below.
You can make your changes here. You can customize the URLs extensively, but I just stick with the post name.
If you are using Yoast, you can also over-ride the WordPress settings here for permalinks as you get ready to publish a post. I recommend though that you get the permalinks set up in the WordPress settings area just in case you forget to edit the permalink in Yoast (which I do frequently).
Don’t Forget To Set Up Branded Email Addresses
Next, I recommend that you set up at least one or two email addresses, such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You’ll have a contact form set up, and you’ll want to make sure that the contacts from that form go some place associated with the site, such as your official website email.
I set those emails up to forward to my gmail or other account I check more regularly, so that I don’t have to go and log in and see if there are any worthwhile emails (usually not).
I use these branded email addresses to set up accounts specific to the blog, such as social media accounts, like Pinterest, or affiliate programs. That way, if I ever decide to sell the site, it will be very easy to transfer everything over, as nothing will be associated with my personal email accounts or my Google/Gmail account (as many are).
I have make the mistake multiple times of starting accounts for a particular site with email address that weren’t associated with the site (my general business or personal accounts) and then was later very sorry about it.
Having a branded email address also makes you look more trustworthy and professional, as influencers, customers, and readers will question why it is that a website would have a gmail address rather than a branded domain address.
When I have tried to hire writers, or engage other services for my blog, the lack of a branded email address actually caused me some problems, because they didn’t believe I was actually the owner of my website. I had to go through some more complicated identity verification procedures that ended up resulting in my just looking for another service provider.
The branded email address just creates another layer of trust. In a world of the internet filled with people trying to take advantage of others, I totally get it.
If you don’t know how to set up an email address with your domain name, reach out to support with your host. I use Siteground on the majority of my sites, and it is completely free to have a handful of email addresses with my momadviceline.com domain.
Siteground’s support (in my humble experience having reached out to them many times) has been nothing short of awesome, positive, and very efficient. This is one of the reasons I recommend them for people who are just getting started (because I am often a tech-moron and they help me).
This link above is an affiliate link. If you click this link and spend money, I might receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I only refer people to products and services that I am currently using or have used in the past.
(Actually, while I am thinking about this, I should set up some emails for some of my other sites….on my to-do list, whoops).
Don’t Post To Your Blog in a Willy-Nilly Fashion: Instead, Create A General Framework for All of Your Blog Posts
While you might have ideas for thousands of different kinds of posts (and I do whenever I start a new blog), I recommend wholeheartedly that you consider establishing a consistent formula for your posts.
Aim for a similar word count, structure, and number of images/videos. This way you will be able to create content that is of a consistently high quality. But not only that, when it comes time to monetize your website with display ads (like with Google Adsense or Ezoic), you’ll be able to insert ads into your articles more easily and consistently.
Ad Inserter plugins often give you the option to insert a specific ad code after x number of paragraphs, or after the xth image, or underneath the xth headline, so if you set your ads to be inserted after the 3rd image, but your post doesn’t have a 3rd image but has a lot of text, your post will be missing an ad spot and you’ll lose that opportunity to earn money from your readers.
When you start paying attention, you’ll see that a lot of the big and established bloggers are doing this.
To set up your own general framework for posts, first, decide on the general goal for words in the post. I find the posts in the range of 1500-2500 words perform the best on my site and earn the most from display ads, but opinions from bloggers differ.
Once you have a total word count goal, you can select a consistent number of words for your intro, body sections, and then outtro. Get an idea of how many images or videos you’ll need to get for each post and where you want to put them.
The above graphic is an over simplified example, that might be over the heads of some folks who are just getting started. If you are at a place right now where everything is completely overwhelming, and formatting the posts like the graphic is just TOO MUCH, have no fear. There is always time to come back later and do this, or to just start doing it later when you have more expertise and confidence in your abilities to create content for your blog.
Track Where Your Photos Came From
I think a lot of people fail to do this (me included). It happens now and again that a blogger will be contacted by a law firm when a certain photo is found on a blog. That photo might have been copied by the blogger from another website, or maybe legitimately purchased from a stock photo site. Either way, when they accuse you, you will want to be able to identify where exactly the photo came from.
There are groups out there who are running bots that hunt for the existence of certain files, so you can’t really just rely upon the hopes that the creator or a photo or graphic just won’t know if you have copied something without getting permission.
If you don’t keep track, or you don’t do it consistently, then you won’t really be able to defend yourself against them. A lot of people would rather just pay a penalty than go through the trouble of defending themselves with a lawyer when the documentation of the photo doesn’t exist.
Regardless of the outcome, the experience is a stressful one.
Plan from the beginning to avoid copyright claims for images and video. If you don’t want to keep a log of the photos you use, then consistently take your own photos, or get them from the same stock photo site or a couple of the same sites.
And definitely, most definitely, do NOT just randomly right-click on a photo that you want to use from Google Images search results, or from another website. That is asking for trouble right there.
I think in the future, I would like to move to have my own photos on all of my sites. Not only would I be 100% secure from copyright trolls, my site would absolutely unique. I think new bloggers are often worried about the quality of their own photos, without realizing how much authenticity and value the reader gets from them.
People who spend much time on the internet are used to brilliant and beautiful stock photos, to the point where the photo barely registers. But a personal, unique photo, even one that doesn’t look professional or even very amateurish is something that will stop a person and dramatically increase the amount of time spent on page.
Have a Plan For Where You Want Your Blog To Go
A lot of blogs fail because people don’t create a roadmap for themselves. This happened to me multiple times. The best way I can explain it is that I felt like someone had given me a bag of puzzle pieces and I was expected to put together the puzzle without the box/picture.
If you don’t know where you are going with things, you shouldn’t be surprised if you end up off track.
It doesn’t really matter what the plan is, so long as you have one. It could be that you make a plan for the first month. How many posts, or how frequent. Which keywords. Which topics. Just having a roadmap of what you want to accomplish in the short term and in the long term.
And naturally, that roadmap will be changed you and your site grows and changes as well.
I started this blog right here with the goal of monetizing it with Google Adsense display ads, and then once the blog got enough traffic, to move it to Ezoic.
Ezoic accepts blogs once they reach at least 10,000 sessions a month. Once I had enough traffic to apply, Ezoic’s ad tester easily multiplied the monthly earnings of the blog by more than 4x. I recommend it to anyone who is new to monetizing with display advertising (Adsense, for example).
If you think that your blog would qualify for Ezoic (or want to see if your site could get accepted, here’s a link to help you get to the right place to get started.
Again, this is an affiliate link. People who refer other bloggers to Ezoic get paid 3% of the earnings their referred blogger earns, at no cost or loss to the referral. If you aren’t ready to apply for Ezoic now, or you aren’t interested in using my link, it’s cool. But when you are ready to apply, try and find someone who is an affiliate and use their link, because those commissions help massively the small creators who have sites like this one.
The most important thing you can do when are interested in making money from a blog is to take action as much as possible, and as consistently as possible. The people who make the big bucks as bloggers are the one who show up every day, and try their hardest to keep posting content.
They are always learning, and implementing new concepts as they learn them. They know they are going to make mistakes, but they don’t make those fears stop them from taking action.
If you want to start a blog, then start.
New To the World of Blogging? Check Out These Other Posts.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.