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 an all around great guy.


  1. Good sharing Brian, and that’s some pretty good stuff to get people started. What’s funny is that the only plugin I have that you mentioned is Akismet, and that’s because it comes with the program. 🙂 Good luck to your wife.

  2. Hi Brian,

    I also started a blog about 2 months ago and followed almost the same procedure. Though I haven’t created any domain email id, I’m only using Gmail Id but I think its important to have your domain email ids.

  3. Hi Brian,

    This post is gold, because not only do I dig the niche – me and my fiancee are animal nuts, and 3 cats are sitting by/on me as I write this – the steps you’ve taken are sound, practical and smart.

    I started Blogging From Paradise 3 weeks ago, after I knew it was time to make the shift. I recall you noting how my old blog was offline, via tweeter…thanks again BTW ;)…..and that I’d been thinking about the shift for so long.

    I found the domain, bloggingfromparadise – which surprisingly was not taken – and proceeded to start my new blog intelligently. My first blog was practice. I had success with it, but for 4 years, I had to test and tweak much, and I didn’t start intelligently at all.

    Lessons learned. Oh yes, ditto on Facebook and Hootsuite. I use Pro to automate some updates and FB places a low priority on them, so even though I still send some out through FB I do more manual posting these days.

    Thanks much Brian.

    Tweeting in a bit.

    Have a great day, fellow animal lovers 🙂


  4. Hi Brian, congratulations on your 5th grandchild! That’s neat now that your wife is starting to blog – it sure will help you with yours, right? Interesting point you made about the Buffer and Facebook Pages, I knew it didn’t get many views but didn’t think about it much until I read your piece here.
    I’m always learning Brian, right now looking for new plugin that makes something slide vs a pop up. Haven’t found it yet.
    Thanks for sharing and have a great rest of the week there.

  5. Hi Mitch, There are so many great plugins the hardest part is keeping them down to a reasonable number. This new blog is a little easier since it’s so simple plus we’re going for that “minimalist” look. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used the word minimalist. lol

  6. I do it primarily for people that wouldn’t normally take the time to discover our normal channels of communication Pankaj. Often those are the messages you don’t want to miss; legal departments or the government, for example. If I’m unintentionally infringing on someone’s copyright, for example, I don’t want to miss that one warning before they take legal action.

  7. Thanks Ryan, you are living the dream, that’s for sure. I’ve been following your progress and I’m a little jealous. 😉 And I think that living in paradise is making you a better blogger because you’re finding some pretty creative ways to use your experiences as lessons for other bloggers. Hey, that might be a post idea for you.

  8. We’re all in the same boat Lisa, it’s impossible to keep up with everything. What works and is recommended one day might be a cardinal sin the next. I was listening to a lady that has half a million Facebook fans and manages to keep her exposure up without advertising. She says they have to post all day long and every post has to be created individually on Facebook. She posts once an hour! I have no idea hour she can survive like that unless she has a team helping her or something.

  9. nice for this post it helps me
    She posts once an hour! I have no idea hour she can survive like that unless she has a team helping her or something.

  10. Hey Brian,

    Well aren’t you sweet to create those sites for your family members and I’m sure your wife really appreciates you doing the animal one for her. I love animals and especially funny or caring videos about them.

    I know that anyone wanting to do this may not remember every step they took. I created another one not long ago and I had to rack my brain trying to remember everything because we oftentimes forget everything we did.

    I will admit that if you post something on Facebook using Buffer that people aren’t eager to check that out as if you didn’t use a third party app. Facebook is that weird site that prefers you be on there posting in order for your content to be shared but then again I thin it depends on who you are. I know a few people having great success posting that way. I’ll have to check out your post on that.

    Sounds like you’ve been busy Brian but I’m sure this was fun. Enjoy your weekend.


  11. It is tough Adrienne, I handed the blog over to my wife and she seemed to have a handle on it. Then a couple of days ago I checked and noticed she hadn’t been posting. I asked if she needed help and she said, “No I got it, I’ve posted almost every day”. I thought I better go in and see why they weren’t publishing; maybe she was clicking save without hitting publish. Nope, nothing there in the drafts. To make a long story short, she was posting on Facebook thinking it would show on her blog. lol She’s never really had an internet life much beyond Facebook so I guess she got confused. I’m going to sit down and create a checklist with her this weekend. She’ll kill me if she sees I posted this. Lol

  12. Oh bless here heart, it’s quite the learning curve isn’t it! I hope she’s not too upset and doesn’t find this post. Hey, we all have to learn but I’m sure she’s got a better handle of it now, or so you hope right.

    You’re just so sweet to do this for her Brian.

  13. Hi Brian,
    Just a week back, I’ve started a new blog. I’ve gathered some useful points here, so I’m gonna apply these steps to my new blog. Till now I didn’t thought about domain email id, all the times I’ve used gmail id only. From now onwards, I’ll use domain email id only. Thanks.

  14. Hi!

    I have recently bought my new domain and I am so much glad to get on this blog and read all your advises. Though I am going to apply all of these on my newest blog …

    Thanks ;)!

  15. Nice post

    The first steps are very important for any process to start. I have also created a blog 3 months back and i already happy as I could find my blog working well and also get a good amount of traffic to the articles I post. I could do it as i have some experience working on my friends blog who is senior in blogging . I could learn many things from him and that helped me .

    I usually market my blog in social media as it plays a very good role in internet marketing. I have also started affiliate marketing and hope it goes well. But its a fact that I still have to learn a lot to improve my skills for which I have to concentrate on the basics which you have mentioned in the above article.

    I hope this post would help many bloggers especially beginners.

    Thank you for sharing.

  16. Hey Brian,

    Ummm, basic steps for me but not for newbie bloggers. I still remember those days when i used to search for 1-2 days to install a blog.

    As far as the blog concept is concerned, you need to make it clear as a lot of people make mistakes regarding this and you can’t be successful if you don’t have a clear concept for your blog.


  17. Good deal Avinash, I hope it helped. 🙂

  18. Sounds good Ammar Zeb, keep me posted.

  19. Thanks Sagar, traffic is good. As far as affiliate marketing, I recommend spending time earning trust and building a list.

  20. This is pretty basic stuff Siraj, I’m glad you could contribute. I agree, goals and concept need to be at the forefront. Thanks for that.

  21. Thx for the tips. I’m using most of those plugins, and I just went to check out mashshare. It looks very clean. But, not sure if you can get it to include, LinkedIn, pinterest and G+.

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