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A few more things before you start blogging
My previous lesson, 5 things to do before you start writing was meant to set a good foundation for you to be ready to start blogging. You COULD start now.
But one day you would really regret not having done these things also, and I just couldn’t let that happen to you. There is SO much to blogging, so many aspects of it, that you just can’t cover it all in one post.
So where are we now?
You’ve purchased hosting, and you’ve chosen a theme. You’ve taken care of those 5 things to do before you start writing (right?). You know what you will blog about. Blog email is set up and ready to go.
And you are SO ready to get to the part where you do some real blogging.
It’s coming – I promise! Soon. Just a few more little things you want to get done before you start writing. (Well, maybe you don’t really want to get them done, but I would if I were you.)
Things you’ve never even heard of before need your attention today. You need to configure some WordPress settings (if you haven’t done so in tutorials). Your permalinks need your attention. And so does your Google Analytics.
Configuring WordPress settings.
I am no WordPress wizard. But really really important thing number 1 this week is configuring your WordPress settings. Doing this will help you to get comfortable in your dashboard, but it will also make your whole blog look more professional.
There are people out there who are far better than I to direct you in how to set up WordPress, and I have searched high and low until I have found just the right one of those people for you.
Melissa, from the White Corner Creative, is awesome at WordPress. I love love love her post 6 Things to do immediately after installing WordPress. Go there. Read it and follow along with her while she tells you how to configure your general settings, your reading settings, your permalinks, your posts page, and your categories.
(Her number 6 thing to do is to create a child theme. I’ve mentioned child themes before (in my post on choosing a theme you love), and while I know that they are super important, I also know that make one I will not. (Blogging is already taking everything I’ve got. I believe I probably COULD make one, with Melissa’s guidance – she has a post on how to do that too.) BUT I took the easy route and am using the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes. They already have a child theme available for you to use if you decide to use Divi.)
So go configure your WordPress settings, ESPECIALLY THAT PERMALINKS THING SHE TALKS ABOUT, and I will be here waiting for you with really really important thing number 2.
But wait, why am I harping on that permalinks thing?
Ok, sure, we can talk about that some more. Your permalink is that string of words (or words/letters/numbers) at the top of the page in the address bar that is the fixed web address of your post. If you do not set this up now, you will forever have ugly clunky post addresses.
For serious. Because as you go, you will connect those addresses to other posts, to link parties, to pinterest, to Facebook. Those addresses will be posted all over. THEN in the future, if you decide you want not-ugly addresses, you will go change your permalink structure and you will BREAK all the links that exist already online. They will lead nowhere because you will have changed them.
That would be very very bad. People would click on your pins or your Facebook posts and find…. nothing. (If this is sounding confusing, just trust me when I say that you don’t want to be changing your permalinks in the future.)
I found this post by Ashley at spoonful of flavor to have some of the best beginner friendly info on permalinks I’ve ever read.
Google Analytics. A new addiction and a useful tool
You’ve maybe never heard of it, and I definitely betcha never wanted to stare at a fluctuating little number on a screen before. Well, it’s coming my friend. The day that you will just stare and stare. (And take screenshots and send them to your husband.)
There will be days when your little fluctuating number will make you sad. There will also be days when it makes you realize that you are winning at blogging. (If you don’t install google analytics now, there could be days in the near future when you are winning at blogging and you don’t even know it!)
Google analytics shows you how many people visit your blog, and how long they stay, and what they read while they are there. It will also show you what brought them to your blog, and as you try and grow your reach this information will be priceless to you.
Set up of google analytics can be a bit intimidating I hear, if you don’t have the amazing Divi theme from Elegant Themes. (Yes, I must keep mentioning it, because honestly it’s 50% of the reason I’ve been able to build this blog…)
If you are not using Divi –
You need to get a google analytics account from https://www.google.com/analytics. That part’s not hard. You’ll need to create a Google account (if you don’t already have one) and confirm it through the email they’ll send you.
Once you’ve filled in all the account info, click the “get tracking Id” button, and it will give you code. (Yup, code.) This code needs to be pasted into your blog header code. (I am not the one to tell you where to find your blog header code, I’ve never laid eyes on mine.)
BUT – you need not do it this way, if you are computer confused. There are plugins available to help you (Plugins are like apps, that you can download and add to your blog, that give it functionality it wouldn’t otherwise have – but be warned, you can have tooooo many plugins.) Head on over to watch this video tutorial on using a plugin for your google analytics on wordpress from Mel at A Prettier Web.
If you, like me, have gone the easy route and are using Divi, then installing the google analytics code is toooo easy –
→First, create a google account and confirm it through the email they’ll send you.
→Sign into google analytics with that account.
→You’ll see this, click that sign up button:
→ It will take you to a page where it asks for all your website info (not pictured.) Fill it all out and scroll to the bottom of that page, and click the “get tracking id” button.
→It will give you a tracking code. Yes, CODE. (This is why I love Divi.) Highlight and copy that code, everything in the box under “website tracking”. (Use control + c after you highlight something to copy it quickly.)
→Go to your WordPress dashboard and on the bottom left of your screen click “Divi – Theme Options”. Then Click Integration. Make sure “Enable body code” is ON, and paste the code to the box where it says “add code to the <body> of your blog.
Regardless of which way you do it and which theme you use, you really, really want google analytics running on your site from the start. I believe that the only way to build a profitable blog without it would be by fluke. Don’t worry too much yet about what it does. Just know that it’s running and that is awesome. (If you aren’t feeling overly overwhelmed yet and you wanna know what google analytics is telling you here is great post on the basics of analytics by socialmediaexaminer.com. You will want this information eventually!)
YAY! Well done, getting all this stuff done before you start blogging. I promise, you will not regret it!