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Cheat Sheet for Beginning Bloggers

How to Start a Blog geekgirlslife.com

Starting a blog and not sure where to begin? I compiled cheat sheet for beginning bloggers like yourself. Sure, there’s a lot of content on the web about starting a blog and its difficult to know what to do first, which is why I put all favorite tips into one place. That way you can cut through the noise and get your blog up and running faster.

Before we get started, its important that you don’t try and do everything at once. Master one section, then move on to the next, it’s the fastest way to grow your blog and make search engines happy.

Blog Platform

When I started my blog, I knew absolutely nothing about design, coding, and HTML. Thankfully Word Press makes it very easy to setup your site for free. Follow the Word Press setup and you’ll be up and running in 5 minutes.

WordPress.com geekgirlslife.com

Word Press walks you through picking a website name and also, offers pre-made themes based on the type of website you want. And you can come back, change themes or upgrade plans whenever you want.

Word Press allows you to start for free, yes free. However, later I realized I wanted to monetize my site and have readers take me serious, so I purchased a dot com address and upgraded my site to the business plan. A dot com web address gives you credibility. Upgrading to the Business Plan gave me great plugins, more themes, affiliate HTML linking and additional support. 

Check Out Word Press here

Blog Posts

I recommend beginning bloggers have 10 -20 solid blog posts before you spend time (or money) driving traffic to your blog. While it doesn’t hurt to do a little grassroots traffic driving, you’ll want readers to stay awhile and look around. Your readers won’t do that if there’s no content, makes sense right? 

We all learned about writing styles and paragraph structure in school; please toss that lesson aside while blogging. Long detailed paragraphs look overwhelming to internet readers so we are going to do things a little different.

Check out your favorite bloggers, most likely, they have short paragraphs of 2-3 sentences. This is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, especially when you are reading on a mobile device. 

Readers will immediately jump ship if the paragraphs look lengthy and that impacts your bounce rate. If you are an English aficionado, this may bug you, but you’ll get used to it, promise.

Headers are a great way to break up a lengthy blog post while keeping the reader engaged, this also helps SEO.

Grammarly

Starting a blog requires attention to detail and that includes grammar. Misspellings and typos eat away at your credibility. Which is why I highly recommend signing up for Grammarly. Think of it as a supercharged spelling and grammar check for the web.

One of my favorite features is the goal-setting option. Grammarly will ask you how you want the piece to read; including audience, formality, domain, tone and Intent. Grammarly adjusts their recommendations accordingly.

Grammarly Set Goals geekgirlslife.com

Grammarly offers a free option and a premium version with more features. It offers browser extensions, which automatically checks your typing while online. Not only can it check your blog posts, Grammarly will spell check in real-time, including social media, message boards and emails, etc.

While using, Grammarly underlines typos in red and clicking that word gives you a better option. If you aren’t sure why a word is underlined you can click to get more information.

After you finished a document, Grammarly provides you with a Performance Score. This includes word count, readability score, reading time and an overall Performance Score.

Grammarly is thorough and has helped me improved my writing. My performance scores were rather embarrassing when I first started. My newer pieces are much cleaner with higher beginning performance score.

Grammarly isn’t perfect, it won’t write a blog post for you, but it adds a significant amount of professionalism and consistency to your writing.

Sign up for Grammarly here

Social Media

Obviously, you want to drive readers to your blog. Social Media is a key component. Potential readers follow you on socials and when you post new content followers will click to read it.

Setup up separate socials, instead of using your personal accounts. It never hurts to post your content on your personal page, but it’s not a realistic strategy long term. 

Business Pages give you options that you do not get on your personal pages. To grow a business you need a business page so that your fans can like it. Random readers won’t start liking personal accounts…because its creepy.

I recommend setting up, at a minimum Facebook and Pinterest business accounts, don’t worry they are free. In my opinion, setting up Instagram and Twitter are ideal, as well. Most of my traffic comes from Facebook and Pinterest, but I still drive a small amount of traffic with Instagram and Twitter. Make sure you post your content to your socials after every new post. We will talk about scheduling below in more detail.

YouTube is an exceptional way to grow followers. If you develop a YouTube following you can monetize that as well, adding another revenue stream for you.

For continuity try and get the same username on all your social accounts. It’s very important to link to your social sites on your actual blog and vice versa.

Showcase Content

Check out Facebook Groups for beginning bloggers. Everyday they pick a theme where you can post new blog posts, your socials, feedback, etc. In return, you’ll help fellow bloggers out by reading their posts and following them on socials.

This is also a great way to see sites with great content, and gives you a chance to see blogs with terrible content. This helps you know what to do and what not to do.

Here is a list of non conventional places to showoff your blog:

  • Mix (formally Stumble Upon)
  • Bloglovin
  • Flipboard
  • Quora

Design Graphics with Canva

Graphic engagement is very important on social media, specifically on Pinterest. Think of it as a visual search engine.

Canva helps you design engaging graphics for your social media. Whether you need a Cover Banner for Facebook or the perfect Pinterest Info-graphic Canva can help. The templates and royalty-free pictures make it very easy to create beautiful content without a graphic design background.

Check out all the Pinterest graphics we’ve made for our Geek Girl’s Guide to Life board

Click here for your 30 day Free Trial for Canva

Plugins

Plugins are apps for your blog. They help you add different elements and layers to yours website, without knowing anything about HTML or coding. You will find thousands of available plugins through Word Press. Lets walk you through my two of my favorites.

YoastSEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Which is a fancy way of saying you want to make your blog attractive to search engines like Google and Bing so they rank you. This plugin makes it so easy by showing you how to do that on every page and post.

Again, I knew nothing when I started my blog and got it ranked on Bing and Google due to YoastSEO. And if search engines are ranking your site organically you are getting free blog traffic. And YoastSEO is free.

MailChimp

If you ask 100 successful bloggers what they would have done differently in the beginning, most of them would say growing their mailing list. Once you have subscribers you can send out newsletters, posts and downstream it could help funnel revenue streams by driving traffic to affiliate links or your store.

MailChimp is user friendly. I’ve add the subscriber plugin on my site and it collects the information for you and stores it for you. Even better you can create your newsletters and email blasts right on their site and its free!

Signup for Mailchimp

Scheduling posts

There are a lot of sites that schedule posts for you and they work just fine. My absolute favorite is Tailwind. They offer scheduling of social media posts, Pinterest tribes, Smart Bio links for Instagram and statistics that show you what works and what doesn’t. Tailwind also auto posts your content at times it knows your readers are online. This cuts down on so much research for you, not to mention freeing up your time to write posts.

Check it out and signup for the free 30-day trial, that’s how I got hooked. It’s a lot of content, but Tailwind offers user videos for almost every feature (and there’s a lot) on their site. Tailwind single-handedly grew my Pinterest engagements in a week just with their Pinterest Tribes.

Signup for Tailwind here

Analytics

You’ve created great content, started driving traffic from Social Media and people are reading your blog, that’s great. Now you need to figure out what’s helping drive traffic to your site. I recommend signing up for Google Analytics, Google Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Don’t worry they are all free services and extremely beneficial.

You’ll learn about SEO, what keywords are working on your site, what time your readers are engaged, how long they stay on the page, what regions read your blog the most etc. These tools give amazing reporting and diagnostic tools for your site.

This is a great way to learn what works, what your readers want and how to reproduce it in the future.


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Make Some Money

Beginning bloggers want to know the same thing, how can I make some money. There’s a lot of ways to monetize your site, keep in mind this doesn’t happen overnight, despite the thousands of YouTubers telling you its a get rich quick business.

Let me be very honest, the chances of you making 10k a month immediately is unrealistic. After years of hard work that is certainly attainable, but don’t expect that to happen tomorrow. If you are reading a blog or watching a video that says you can make 100K immediately, jump ship, you are about to get scammed into buying a bullshit course.

My first goal was to make $100 and then to earn $1,000. As I hit each goal, I update it. A lot of hard work went into just hitting my first target goal. But the hard work pays off it just takes time.

Now that we got the semantics out of the way, let’s talk about how to get started. 

Amazon Associates

geekgirlslife.com Amazon Affiliate posts

Signup for Amazon Associates, this is their affiliates program. If you help drive traffic to Amazon (through personalized links) and that person buys something in 24 hours you get a commission for that sale. Here’s an example of one of my most popular Amazon Affiliates driving posts. 10 Must-Have Items for Fall

Make sure you post a blurb on your page, or social media post stating you may get commission from the posts. Amazon provides the exact verbiage, but you must do this or Amazon will terminate your account.

There are a lot of affiliate marketing sites out there, I earn the most from Amazon. A close second is Target’s affiliate program.

Amazon takes beginning bloggers, but you must have a website setup.

Google AdSense

Google AdSense is a great way to make money for your site. I use the auto-placement feature because Google does all the work for you. Its a simple concept, the more traffic you get, the more revenue you’ll get. Do not click on your Ads, Google will suspend your account.

AdSense lets you control how many ads appear on your pages and posts. Don’t go overboard with ads, think about how many websites bombard you with pop-ups, flyovers and an Ad post every sentence, it makes the content unreadable. The goal of your blog is to keep people engaged.

Site Shops                                                  

Setting up shops is another revenue stream you may want to add to your site. Currently, I use 2, Teespring and RedBubble. But there are tons of options from Etsy to Shopify.

Teespring allows you to create designs right on their site, which I love. RedBubble allows you to upload designs and sell it on shirts, mugs, leggings, even Shower Curtains if you choose. Both Teespring and RedBubble prints and ships the designs for you and you split the proceeds with them.

Get Started

I highly recommend beginning bloggers slowly incorporate all the topics we’ve discussed in this post. Don’t try and do it all these things at once, you’ll get burnt out. Remember, having great blog content is the most important thing you can do to ensure success. Great blog content always beats spammy sites in the long run.

Remember, even with perfect SEO it can take 3-6 months for search engines to find you. Many writers start blogs and when their readership doesn’t blow up after a month, they quit. Give it time to marinate and Google and Bing will catch up with your hard work.

Check back for updates as we continue to find new tips and tricks. Good Luck! Drop us a comment if you have a favorite topic you want to learn about.

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12 comments on “Cheat Sheet for Beginning Bloggers

  1. coopermoon

    I love grammarly, I cannot spell, at all 👀

  2. Very informative! I found out so many things I didn’t know. I am going to use your tips to improve my blog!

  3. Great post!

  4. Thanks for the info! Some I’m doing, some I’m not. The details for each item are greatly appreciated.

  5. Very helpful post!

  6. Lydia//Everyday Superhero Training

    Great tips!! This was super helpful

  7. This is super useful!

  8. This is such a great, easy to understand breakdown of what it takes to run a blog! The jargon and tools used can be really daunting at first, it’s nice to see them broken down and explained so concisely to get folks started 😁

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