So you’ve finally made the decision to start a blog! That’s great news and many congratulations.
And since you’re on a roll, I’d like to share my 8-point checklist for starting a new blog with you.
These are just a few essential things you need to do after installing WordPress, before committing to write your first post.
Note: This post is really for people starting a blog for the first time, however, if you’re not new to blogging, maybe you’re starting a second blog, you can still use the checklist below as a refresher if you like.
I’ll assume that you have already purchased your domain name and hosting and that you have WordPress installed successfully into your new blog.
If you haven’t even got this far yet, click here to read my WordPress setup guide.
Right, let’s get started.
Starting a new blog? What to do after installing WordPress
Tip #1: Delete the sample page and “Hello World” post
If this is your first ever WordPress blog you might not know to do this.
When starting a new blog with a fresh WordPress installation, by default, you’ll usually be greeted with a “hello world” post and sample page that’s already been published.
What you need to do once you’ve logged into your WordPress dashboard is to immediately delete both the sample post and the sample page, you really don’t need them. See image below.
Simply hit trash and then head over to the trash folder to delete them permanently.
When you’re ready to start writing your first post, you can just head over to Posts > Add New.
Tip #2: Delete the default plugins
The next thing you want to do is head over to Plugins and delete all the default plugins that came with your WordPress installation.
Except maybe for the Akistmet plugin, you’ll probably need that one much later on when you start getting a few comments on your blog. For now, though, you can just deactivate it if you wish.
Tip #3: Change the permalink structure
This one is entirely up to you, however, I would highly recommend that you consider changing the permalink structure to a more simple format.
To change your permalink, simply head over to Settings > Permalinks and change from the default permalink to either ‘date and name’, or ‘month and name’.
The setting I’d personally recommend using is just ‘post name’, as this is a more ‘human’ and ‘search engine friendly’ permalink structure.
Once you’re done, hit save changes. See image below.
Note: On latest versions of WordPress, the “post name” is already selected by default, so you don’t have to make any changes in this case. But just double check to be sure that this is the case, it doesn’t hurt.
Tip #4: Install only essential plugins
After deleting the plugins you didn’t need in tip #2, it’s time to install the plugins you do need.
If this is your very first blog and you’re not too sure what a plugin is or does, let me briefly explain.
If you don’t need to read this, just skip this part entirely and move onto Tip #5.
What are plugins for WordPress? – WordPress plugins are add-ons that you install into your hosted WordPress site.
The purpose of plugins is to extend the functionality of your WordPress website for both admins and users.
For example, adding the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin will allow you to accurately optimize your site, content pages, and blog posts, for better search engine visibility and performance.
Adding the WooCommerce plugin will enable you to turn your WordPress site into an eCommerce platform, where you can sell products.
If you want to add a functionality to your WordPress blog or website, the simplest way to do it is to install a plugin. The WordPress plugins repository has over 50,000 plugins to choose from.
Alternatively, if you don’t wish to plague your site with plugins, you can hire a developer to perhaps hard code something specific into your site to add functionality. Remember, though, this option usually takes time and will most likely cost you.
OK so here is a list of the top plugins I’d personally recommend installing into a new blog.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast (Joost de Valk) – For all your on-page and site wide SEO needs.
- Google Analytics for WordPress (Monster Insights) – For installing Google Analytics tracking code.
- Google XML Sitemaps (Arnold Brachhold) – To create SiteMaps to submit to Google Webmaster Tools, but please note that WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin includes built-in SiteMap feature.
- WordFence Security (WordFence) – Secure your WordPress site from brute force login attempts.
- BlogVault Real-Time WP Backup (BlogVault) – Professional WordPress backup solution.
- Better Delete Revision (Galerio and Urda) – Useful tool to help you delete unwanted post and page revisions.
- Social Warfare – The fastest and most feature packed advanced social sharing plugin for WordPress on the planet.
- Better Links Pro – Affiliate link cloaking and management tool.
- WP Super Cache (Donncha O Caoimh) – Website cache plugin.
How many plugins should I install?
Now for the burning question.
How many plugins should you have installed on your WordPress site?
Well, that greatly depends on what you want your blog to do.
As a rule, I don’t usually install more than around 20 plugins on my blog, that’s my top number personally.
Remember, the more plugins you add to your blog, the more your page loading time and general website performance will be affected.
I would also recommend only installing the plugins that are frequently updated, and avoid any plugins that haven’t been updated for the last two years or more.
Premium plugins are great because they’re coded with security, performance, and stability in mind, and, they are updated regularly.
Tip #5: Disable user registration
For a new blog, you don’t really want anyone to be able to subscribe just yet.
Perhaps later on if you decide to accept guest posts or create membership pages. For now, though, this setting can be left un-ticked.
With new versions of WordPress, as default, this is disabled in any case, but do double check this.
Go to Settings > General and check that the membership box is left un-ticked. See image below.
Tip #6: Change discussion settings
You can choose whether you want to accept comments on your blog or not, and also make any other changes to your preference.
Perhaps you don’t want anyone to comment on your blog, or you only want registered users to comment.
To change your preferences go to Settings > Discussion.
Tip #7: Install WordPress theme of your choice
Again if you’re starting a new blog for the first time and aren’t too sure what a theme is, or where to get one even, let me explain briefly.
Skip this part if you don’t need to learn about WordPress themes.
What is a WordPress theme? – A theme is simply a skin that you install into your WordPress site to make it more personal to you and your online brand.
I’m currently using a in-house custom built child theme that is powered by Genesis for this website.
To install a theme simply go to Appearance > Themes.
Tip #8: Install your Google Analytics tracking code
In point #4 I recommended a list of useful plugins to install into your WordPress blog.
One of these plugins was the Google Analytics for WordPress.
This plugin makes installing and configuring your Google Analytics tracking code or script, a lot simpler than trying to paste the code manually into your Header.php file yourself.
Once you’ve installed the GA for WordPress plugin, simply go to your Google Analytics account and generate a new code.
Then come back to your WordPress dashboard and go to Insights > Settings and add just the UA-XXXXXXX-XX part of the script provided, into the box, as shown below.
Or you can just click the Authenticate with your Google Account button.
You’re ready to blog ‘n’ roll!
That’s it, you’re done, eight simple but very essential things to do after you’ve installed WordPress on your brand new blog.
You can now officially start writing your first blog post. Best of luck with your new blog.
Once again I do hope this post has been useful to you, whether you’re new to blogging or simply starting a second blog.