Just Getting Started?

A Smart Checklist For New Bloggers

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A Smart Checklist For New Bloggers

For those of you ready to begin a blog (and wanting to do it right), you might be looking for some evidence that you are on the right path.  Most bloggers struggle to get started. So here’s a head start for you.

 

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This checklist is a summary of my strategy for blogging.  And I hope it helps you!  You might also find my daily checklist for Twitter helpful as well.

 

Want to print this for your bulletin board?  Visit my free marketing and branding downloads page.

 

But this post isn’t a daily checklist, it’s a “when you are ready to write” checklist.  Because most of us can’t afford to blog everyday.  And many of us don’t have audiences that want new content every day. Although I will say when I started two other blogs earlier in my blogging career, I did write every day on each for 90 days.

 

Why?  Well, because someone said I should.  To establish content and a consistency (to show readers that I wasn’t going anywhere).  You can visit my job search and career blog or my new ideas blog (rather quiet now). And see a few other examples.

 

Here’s the checklist.  if you have any questions, please share them in the comments.

 

Blog Structure and Content

 

  • Do you know the primary purpose and theme of your blog?
  • What are your categories?
  • What are your keywords?
  • Who are you writing for (target profiles)?
  • How often will you write?
  • What is your permalink style (should include the title of post)?
  • Do you have an email feed sign up?
  • Do you have a Facebook “Like” box?
  • Do you have sharing buttons for Twitter, Facebook, etc?
  • Is your photo or your logo “above the fold” so all can see it?
  • Have you optimized your sidebar?  (e.g. add categories and recent posts – remove “archive”)
  • What other “engagement” widgets or plugins can you add?
  • Do you have a blog roll? Create a list of 10 blogs that you like and link to their posts in yours.  Comment on their posts.  Re-tweet their stuff.

 

Before You Write

 

  • Create an editorial calendar for the month.  Have a theme for the month (or week).
  • What is your topic?  Is it consistent with the main theme of your blog?
  • What keyword or words will you focus on?
  • Who are you writing for today?
  • What’s your voice/personality?

 

While Writing

 

  • Use short sentences, subheads, numbering or bulleting systems.
  • Headlines should include keywords, be attention-getting and be less than 60 characters.  Avoid gimmicky or “too clever”.
  • 1st paragraph is important to keep someone reading.  Use story, promise or startling fact.
  • Is your blog about you? Unless relating an experience to make a point, it should not be
  • One link per 120 words (4 per post).  Generally two internal links and two external links.  Make sure you use keyword driven anchor text. And consider linking to posts more than blogs (creates a trackback so that others will see it).
  • Add links to your LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or Facebook pages.
  • Ask a question at the end of every post.  To draw comments.

 

Before You Publish

 

  • What’s your word count?  Good target 500-750 words.  Avoid <300 and over >900. Break longer posts into two smaller ones (Tues/Thurs)
  • Do you have a photo in the post?  What is it titled and what alt tags have you added to it?
  • Choose only one category for each post
  • Include at least 10 tags that are unique to the post and include your primary keyword (s)
  • Check links (to make sure they work).
  • Preview the post to make sure it looks right
  • Check your spelling

 

After You Publish

 

  • Share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (twice), StumbleUpon (you can use your own buttons to do this).
  • Re-tweet version with heads-up to those your featured or linked-to in post or grab a compelling line and use that instead of your original title.
  • Respond to comments, say thanks for Retweets, shares and likes.

 

I hope this post answers some of your “how do I get started” questions.  If you have more questions or if you need more information, please comment below or send me a note.

 

Blogging can be a powerful tool to establish your brand promise.  But it can also be an inefficient activity if you are not doing it right.

 

What’s on your blog checklist to create a compelling post each time you sit down to write?

 

Thanks robstephaustralia for the photo via Flickr

Tim Tyrell-Smith focuses on marketing, brand development and business strategy for emerging and established organizations. A veteran executive in consumer marketing, Tim started his marketing career with Nestle USA and has since worked in product management on premium brands including Nestle Quik, Tree Top Apple Juice, Mauna Loa Macadamias and Meguiar’s Car Wax. He was most recently Vice President of Marketing for a private equity owned food company in Southern California. He lives with his wife and three kids in Mission Viejo, California.

Tim Tyrell-Smith – who has written posts on Fix, Build And Drive™.


About the Author

Tim Tyrell-Smith focuses on marketing, brand development and business strategy for emerging and established organizations. A veteran executive in consumer marketing, Tim started his marketing career with Nestle USA and has since worked in product management on premium brands including Nestle Quik, Tree Top Apple Juice, Mauna Loa Macadamias and Meguiar’s Car Wax. He was most recently Vice President of Marketing for a private equity owned food company in Southern California. He lives with his wife and three kids in Mission Viejo, California.

Comments (16):

  1. Thanks for the list. I could use this.

  2. Hey Lani – You are welcome. 🙂

  3. Great list with so much to think about!

    Thanks for compiling 🙂

    • Glad you found it helpful. Are you new to blogging?

  4. When you posted to two blogs everyday for 90 days what defined a successful post for you? Has that changed? Do you care more about views, comments, or shares/likes? Any advice for people that want to blog to generate leads and convert readers into customers?

    Great list! Makes my head hurt thinking about all of those things.

    • Hey Mike – Early on it was about establishing my own voice/writing style and covering a breadth of topics within my category. A successful post was different than others already out there. A challenge for new bloggers is finding a way to stand out in a very crowded space. Unless you write only on breaking news, the odds are that your topics have all been written on before – so you have to find a different way to deliver your views. Like most bloggers, I appreciate views and comments, shares and likes. But I am far less concerned with that these days. I know when I have written something really good or hit a nerve. And the challenge to innovate within my subject has become more important than the views. To generate leads and convert requires engagement through relevant content. So I usually recommend that people write a target reader profile – who are they writing for, what do they care about and what are there pain points? That way you can write with them in mind each time. In the post, I suggest asking questions to get engagement started (a comment or share) but you can also create a custom landing page for specific content that your target will find especially interesting. You can see an example here: http://timsstrategy.com/becoming-a-business-coach-is-it-right-for-you/

  5. speechless nothing more to add…thank you for posting this…

    • You are welcome Nitoy – appreciate that feedback. 🙂

  6. Tim – Interesting and helpful post! Do you have any tips on what not to do when starting a blog?

    • Hi Jenny – What not to do? Oh, there’s a few thoughts floating in my head. Will write a post for early next week. OK? 🙂

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  11. Thanks Tim! I’ve watched your business evolve since 2007 and am inspired by your story. This article provided answers to nearly all the questions I’ve had about blogging as I consider embarking on this journey. Really useful, again thank you.

    • Hey Roz – You are very welcome and I’m glad to hear you’ve been following that long. You might be the only one. 🙂 Appreciate your feedback and let me know when you’ve written your first post.

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