There’s a few sort of picky technical things that your blog needs from you
Starting a blog is a BIG learning curve.
There is ALOT to be done, if you’re wanting to start it RIGHT (and avoid a bunch of headaches in the future.) These three things we will tackle today are perhaps 3 of the things that come up THE MOST when I am talking to new bloggers.
- They struggle with WordPress settings
- They choose regrettable permalink structures (or don’t choose at all)
- They have never heard of Google Analytics (OR they have installed it incorrectly)
These three things will become part of your life today and remain part of your life for as long as you blog… so don’t let this stuff overwhelm you.
You WILL get this!
(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
If you’ve set up hosting, and chosen a theme, and taken care of these 5 things to do before you write your first blog post – NOW is the time to tackle this picky technical stuff.
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.
Let’s get to it!
Configuring WordPress settings
I am no WordPress wizard. And you don’t have to be either!
But really really important thing number 1 on this list of “picky technical things” is configuring your WordPress settings.
Doing this now will help you to get comfortable in your dashboard, but it will also make your whole blog look more professional from the get go.
Melissa, from the White Corner Creative, is awesome at WordPress.
I 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. These are simple things to do, and you will want them done!
Her number 6 thing to do is to create a child theme. I’ve mentioned child themes before (when we talked about choosing a theme you love), and while I know that they are 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 / Extra Theme from Elegant Themes. They already have a child theme available for you to use if you decide to use Divi.)
If creating a child theme just feels beyond you right now, put it on your list of things to look at later. It’s not AS important as permalinks or general settings.
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.
So what’s the big deal about permalinks?
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 don’t set this up now, you will forever have ugly clunky post addresses. If you don’t set this up now, you might have bad permalinks for SEO. (If you don’t even understand that statement yet, that is FINE. We will get there. Just trust me.)
You do not EVER want to have to change your permalinks in the future. You want to set ’em and forget ’em.
For serious. Because as you go along in your blogging career, you will connect those addresses to other posts, to link parties, to pinterest, to Facebook. Those addresses of your posts will be pasted all over. THEN in the future, if you decide you want not-ugly addresses, and you change your permalink structure, you will BREAK all the links that exist already out there online. They will lead no where 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, again trust me when I say that you don’t want to be changing your permalinks in the future.)
Do you know when you click in from pinterest (or somewhere) and you end up at a “page not found” message? Or a page that says Error 404? THAT is what we create when we change permalinks down the line.
I suggest using just the post title, (the way Melissa told you to do it). Having dates in your URL is not a great idea, because 2 years down the road people will SEE right away that the post is outdated. (Even if you’ve UPDATED it, the URL won’t change.)
When I started blogging, I found this post by Ashley at spoonful of flavor to have some of the best beginner friendly info on permalinks. (She suggests leaving dates in your permalinks, however, and I do NOT suggest you do that.)
Google Analytics. A new addiction and a useful tool
You’ve maybe never heard of it, but this is about to become your new best friend.
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.
You will stare at it’s fluctuating numbers for hours on end.
There will be days when it’s 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!)
Set up of google analytics can be a bit intimidating, but you got this!
How to Install Google Analytics on your blog
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 – 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 too many plugins, and you should use them with caution.)
Head on over to watch this video tutorial on installing google analytics on wordpress from Mel at A Prettier Web.
If you, like me, have gone the easy route and are using the Divi or Extra them from Elegant Themes, then installing the google analytics code is soooo 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 install it you 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 pure 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!