Blogging First Steps

My Latest Niche Blog And The First Steps I Took

Just me with something to say:
I’ve setup three blogs for family members in the last month and I thought I’d take you through the early steps I took getting the latest one started. It’s just a simple blog I made for my wife where she’ll show animal videos she liked called Amazing Animal Watch. Some newer bloggers might find value in the basic steps we take to soft-launch a blog.

Your Blog Concept Or Idea

Before any blog we need a concept or idea (See Simple Steps Before Starting A Blog). Both my wife and I love animals and a lot of our “Facebook” time is spent sharing those videos with each other. She (Kim) thought it would be cool to have her own blog where she could share the videos she found on YouTube.

I thought, “Heck yeah, that’s a great idea!image - tweet this Not just for the blog but for a learning experience. Don’t tell her this, but I’ve been wanting to get my wife involved in my blogging obsession, umm – I mean business, for years. This is the perfect way to get her hooked and eventually become part of Hot Blog Tips. 🙂

Your Blog Domain/URL

Next, obviously, is a domain; we needed a great domain. I prefer self-hosted WordPress blogs and that requires our own URL. I’ve written a lot about domains lately so I won’t go into too much detail right here. Since the blog posts will have embedded videos, it didn’t take long to find Amazing Animal Watch. Taking advantage of the new Generic Top Level Domains I recently wrote about, Branding Opportunities With The New Generic Top Level Domains, I did secure as well. I’m not sure if we’ll use that domain but at least we’ve secured it just in case and it wasn’t a big expense through NameCheap$, my recommended domain registrar.

Related Domain Posts:

Blog Setup and Plugins

We wanted Amazing Animal Watch to be a simple blog; very easy to consume as well as easy to post. I found a free WordPress theme, Gridiculous, that both looked simple and was responsive (works on all computers and mobile devices). As far as plugins, I only used seven for now but I may add more later for backup and security.

Plugins Installed and Activated

  1. WordPress SEO by Yoast
  1. W3 Total Cache
  1. Mashshare – Social networks & Mashshare Share Buttons (upgraded/paid)
  1. IGIT Related Post With Thumb
  1. Fast Secure Contact Form
  1. Akismet

Contact And Communication

I setup email accounts, as I do for every site, of admin, postmaster, & abuse using the domain email. Then I setup forwarders so each of those emails is then forwarded to a single Gmail account I setup for this blog. This is something I do for every blog I setup and I think it’s important, as is the contact form that also gets forwarded to that Gmail account.

Okay, real quick, why would anyone want so many Gmail accounts and how can you keep up with them? There are several reasons to separate different blogs starting with the possible sale of one. In this case, the email is then forwarded to my wife’s main Gmail account. I setup the account to be able to send and receive as if it were from the original account. If anyone needs to know how to do this, let me know and we’ll record a short video tutorial.

Social Media

Next I setup her social accounts. I didn’t want to overwhelm her with every social media platform but I did want to secure the profiles using the method I wrote about last month, How To Find Social Accounts When Your Brand Is Already Taken. Amazing Animal Watch (AmazingAnimalWatch) is just too long for some platforms and I wanted a uniform social profile ID for every account so I used WatchAnimalVids.

Even though I setup most of the major social platforms, I wanted to concentrate only on those that made the most since. I knew she wanted a Facebook page since that’s where the idea originated so we have that. Next, Twitter and Pinterest made sense for the type of content we post – embeded videos. I also setup Google Plus and YouTube but we’ll work on those later if the blog takes off.

Twitter: Earlier this month I wrote Repurposing An Old Twitter Account For A Nice Start On Your New Brand and that’s exactly what I did to create her Twitter profile. I took an old account I wasn’t using and re-branded it to WatchAnimalVids. That account has over 450 follows right now and posts many times a day thanks to Buffer. Nothing to jump up and down about but its better than starting from zero.

Facebook: I have more on Facebook below but I wanted to mention how to mass invite your friends to your Facebook page. I just sent this method to our VIP List so you can see the email on our AWeber archive.

Hey, if you liked that tip and aren’t already a VIP List member, sign-up free now.

Points Worth Mentioning

There are a couple of things I thought worth mentioning before I finish up.

Facebook Hates Buffer I’ve used Buffer on and off over the years but never really “got it” until I recently upgraded. I have a post coming soon that will go into the details of how I’m getting the most from Buffer but I want to mention that it doesn’t work well with Facebook. I mean, it works by posting the content alright but few see the content posted and even fewer engage with it. Sound familiar?

Facebook seems to like things from Facebook so anything coming from a third-party site gets very low priority. Second, posting via Buffer injects the small post thumbnail or video.

TIP: I think it’s much better to create a large image and post it as an image with a description and link rather than posting just a link and letting the Facebook machine do the rest.

Speaking of video, It looks like Facebook hates YouTube too. lol By that, I mean, Facebook video seems to outperform YouTube videos on Facebook. Since we’re using other people’s videos, I’m at a loss on the best route to go so feel free to leave me your advice in the comment section.

Sheryl Loch suggested I use a Daily Motion Publisher account to earn a little extra income. I believe Scott Craighead has suggested Daily Motion before as well. I think that’s a great idea for the blog but I still need a better strategy for Facebook.

Google and SEO

Truthfully, I did nothing to make Google like the blog – yet. Other than adding the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast, I’ve done zero SEO. In fact, I don’t even use the plugin the way it was designed and I’ve done no keyword research whatsoever. I know, that sounds pretty irresponsible but I look at it as a test or case study more than anything else.

I’m tracking analytics, social shares and interaction and I thought it would be interesting to see if a blog could work if it were just a blog. You know, without the huge learning curve we all struggle with in the beginning. I’ve installed the analytics code but didn’t bother setting it up properly with things like goals.

Seriously, my wife doesn’t fully understand the difference between typing a domain into an address bar, searching for it or typing it into Facebook. That’s not a slam; it’s just to point out that if I can make blogging so simple she can do it, anyone can. Not long ago I spent over half an hour talking her through copy and paste over the phone so she could copy a password to log into something. Lol

With that said, we will want to eventually monetize and Google will need to help out. In the mean time, I asked her to add a little more unique content to each post. We’re still going to focus on content without keyword research. It’s a little like shooting into a field blindfolded, in my opinion, but I want to keep things super simple for now.

Over To You My Blogging Peeps

There you go; a handful of very basic steps to take when setting up your first blog. I’m really looking forward to diving deeper into this subject later and possibly creating an entire series on starting out. Anyway, I appreciate your time and feel free to leave any comments or questions below, I’m here for you. 🙂

I like to leave an action step, tweetables, quotes, and an extra form of content (slideshare/video/mindmap) but today I’m already at 1,500 words and a ton of links so I’ll leave that for you if you so choose. Feel free to add your story, actions, quote or tweetable below.

I’d especially love to hear about your story and what things you learned, whether on your blog or a clients.  Hey, make a post about it, if you like, and drop the link here. We’ll see you, take some kind of action everyday and blog on. ~ Brian

About Brian Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and all around great guy. Subscribe to our
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