By David Joel Miller.
What should you do after you have your blog name and your theme?
In previous posts we talked about selecting a blog name, using a free web name or registering that name to yourself and selecting a theme. If you elected to self-host, you had to learn a lot of technical stuff or hire someone to help you. So what steps you need to take next? A will base this on the steps I took using the wordpress.com site to host my blog.
Hang out a welcome sign.
Most blog themes provide a place for a picture at the top of your site. This picture can be changed, but I discovered it’s worth the effort to select a good picture. For my picture, I used some scenery with the words counselorssoapbox.com overlaid. Some bloggers include a picture of themselves or other artwork. Readers will see this picture over and over, and if you link to social media, this can end up being part of your “brand” another way that readers will identify you.
Create some pages.
For most bloggers the page people will first go to, often called a landing page, will be the page you will use for posting. It’s possible in some themes to use a different page as your landing page.
Other pages you might want to create would be an “about me” or an “about the author” page. On my blog, I also have a “contact me” page for readers to contact me directly rather than leaving a comment. If you have other static content, you can create a page for this. On my private practice website, which runs the same theme as my WordPress.com blog, I also have pages for frequently asked questions and local resources. Remember the more pages you create, the more work you are creating for yourself to maintain those pages.
I wouldn’t recommend creating too many pages for various topics. It’s much easier to sort posts by categories which allows readers to see all the posts you’ve written about a topic in one place.
Enable sharing on your blog.
If you have social media profiles, you can enable sharing so that your post, or at least the headline from it, will automatically be posted to your social media. On my blog, I find that in the menu on the left by clicking on settings, followed by clicking on sharing.
My posts are automatically shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and several other sites. I don’t find that these shares automatically result in people viewing my blog, but every little bit helps. Enabling sharing dramatically reduces the time it takes to get the word out about your blog on social media.
Create good headlines for your posts.
Good headlines encourage people to click on your post. Avoid getting too cute. The headline should include a word or words that tell the potential reader what the post is about. Writing headlines is an art. Look at the posts you read for ideas. What made you click on that post? What I found was no one formula for writing headlines works all the time. Don’t automatically use the first headline you think of. I keep a file folder for posts in progress. I start with a title, but by the time I am ready to post this article a better title often suggests itself. Up until you click post you can change the headline.
Learn to use the different heading styles.
I write my posts using Microsoft word. It’s tempting to try to make the piece look attractive by changing fonts and type size. Don’t do that. When you go to copy and paste the article you have written into your blog things can change. Learn to use the headings at the top of the page in word. When you go to paste it, type styles can change but the level of heading, H1, H2, etc. will be preserved.
Headings are used by search engines to help find content that matches what the reader is looking for. Using subheadings correctly makes your post more searchable and may improve its performance on search engines.
Create your post.
Since I create most posts ahead of time, I copy and paste them from my Word document into the blog editor. You can type directly, but that increases the risk of making a mistake. Writing posts is a topic for another day.
Don’t use H1 in the body of your post.
The title of your post will automatically be rendered in the top, H1, setting. Unless your post is exceptionally long having too many H1 will be penalized by search engines. You can’t get more attention by putting everything in bold and caps. That comes across as shouting at your reader, use bold and caps sparingly. This is especially true of marking too many things with an H1 heading style. If you say too many things are important, the search engine will ignore you and rank your post lower or not at all.
Experiment with inserting pictures.
You will probably find this under media. Using one or a few pictures makes your post more interesting. Using too many or too large a picture can interfere with loading on some mobile devices. Increasingly readers are viewing blog posts on their cell phones rather than on computers with large screens.
One way to do your experimenting is to set the post you are working on to publish at a future date. The dashboard on my site is set to publish immediately. To the right of that is the word edit. When I click on that, I can set a post to publish at future date. Once I set that date, I don’t have to worry about accidentally publishing a post for the world to see that is not ready.
Search for pictures you would like to use on sites that offer images for free, licensed under a Creative Commons license. That will avoid copyright issues. Some sites will show you a few free pictures and then also show you pictures you need to pay to use. Most of the pictures I use come from Pixabay.com, and I have been pleased with the pictures. If I can’t find what I’m looking for there, especially for technical pictures, my second go-to site’s Wikimedia Commons.
I discovered pictures can take up a lot of space on my computer. For a while, I was storing them on a flash drive, but that got full. Recently I purchased an external hard drive which allows a lot more space for both pictures and backup files of the things I write.
Besides the blog and books, I write I also create PowerPoint presentations and videos to use in the classes I teach. By saving pictures licensed under Creative Commons, I can reuse those pictures.
When you go to “add media,” you will have the option to upload files or use your media library. Initially, you’ll have to upload everything. Some pictures, like the one I use for my writing posts or the one I use for some of the technical “what is” posts, I reuse repeatedly. Most of the posts need fresh pictures each time. Your media library allows you to find and reuse your pictures.
Once you have selected a picture make sure you go to the right, scroll down, and fill in all the boxes. You will need to insert a caption which will appear on your post. I always put the credit for where I got the picture directly after my title. You can also tell it to place the picture at the left of the text, to the right of the text, or in the middle. Once you click insert into post, it will automatically be placed into your post wherever you left your cursor.
Mark your post for categories and tags.
Categories allow you to lump a group of posts together. I have categories for various mental illnesses, substance abuse, writing and so on. If you know which categories, you will be using, create them ahead of time. You can add new categories at any time.
Tags help search engines find your post. A brief tag like writing probably won’t rank very well and will not bring you many readers. A longer tag like “writing your first blog post” could potentially rank better and bring you more views.
Save your post.
Two possibilities here. You can click “save draft” with a plan to come back and work on this post more. If you feel reasonably happy with the post, you can click publish. If you set a future date, you can now go to your list of posts, click view, and see what it will look like when it finally publishes. If you’re not happy with the appearance, go back to your list of posts and click edit. This will allow you to make changes before the post finally appears.
Excuse the length of this post. Creating blog posts is a skill. There’s a lot more I could have said about this topic. But the important thing is to create your first blog post and learn from the experience. Best wishes on your blogging or other writing, wherever you are in the process. Be sure to leave comments or use the “contact me” form to send me questions. Likes and follows are always appreciated. See you next time as we continue our discussion about the journey of becoming a writer.
You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.