In today’s episode we’re going to continue our deep dive into the foundation of your online business: your website and blog. We’re going to cover the key content pages you need, how to test your site before launch, how to write great blog posts, and how to launch your site.
This is part of a free content series called the Definitive Guide to WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs. In the previous episode we discussed everything you need to do to put the technical foundation in place such as choosing hosting, installing WordPress, and configuring required plugins. With that in place, you are ready to move on to content creation, testing, and launching your site.
In this episode you’ll learn:
- The key content pages your site needs to have before launch
- How to test your site for security, performance, and functionality before launch
- How to make sure your first blog post grabs your audiences attention
- Tips for launching your site and leveraging your social media platform
- Download the free Blog Planner and Blueprint below
- Read my Definitive Guide to WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs
- If you haven’t already, get your hosting, domain name, and WordPress installation completed
- If you haven’t already, get your site architecture (theme framework, theme, plugins) set up
- Set aside 2 hours to create your core content pages (Home, About, Contact, Blog)
- Set aside 2 hours to test your site using the checklist and links in the Blog Planner
- Launch your site!
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
Transcript DownloadDownload a PDF of the Transcript
Hey everybody, Dave Ziembicki here. Welcome to StrongStart.fm. My mission is to help you design, automate, and outsource the technology of your online business. In today’s episode we’re going to continue our deep-dive into the foundation of your online business, your website, and blog. We’re going to cover the key content pages you need, how to test your site before a launch, how to write a great blog post, and how to launch your site. This is a part of a free content series called The Definitive Guide to WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs, which will be linked to in the show notes over at strongstart.fm/008.
In the previous episode we discussed everything you need to put the technical foundation in place such as choosing your hosting, installing WordPress, configuring required plugins, and so on. With that in place, you’re not ready to move on to content creation. Depending on the purpose of your site, certain static pages like the homepage, or about page, and others need to be configured and the content created for those pages. You want to ensure that prior to launching your site you will have content populated in some of these critical pages.
First page we’re going to talk about is your about page. The common misperception of this page is that this should be your life story and your background and all the things that you’ve done and accomplished in life to build credibility and build influence in your space. But really, what the about page should be about is your actual users and your audience and your potential customers. When somebody comes to your site and they’re navigating around, oftentimes the about page is one of the top five most visited pages on a particular website or blog, and that’s where something peaked the reader’s interest and they decide, “Hey, I want to find out a little bit more about what this site is about.”
The key here is making sure that your about page reflects the interest and the needs of your readers. You can have a different page that provides even more background on yourself and the things that you’ve accomplished, but that stage comes later. The first thing that a reader wants to know about is, “Is this site relevant?” People bounce off of websites within seconds if they don’t find something that’s of interest to them and something that they think is going to keep their interest over the longer term. You really want that about page to be all about the needs and desires of your readers and how your content is going to help them achieve their goals.
This about page is critical real estate for your site. For sites focused on converting visitors into customers, the about page should be more about the customer needs than about you. Even if your site is purely a hobby, making the content about your readers and their needs is going to resonate more with them. Questions that you might want to answer on your about page really come back to your ideal customer, your customer avatars, or any of the research that you’ve done ahead of time in choosing your particular niche that you want to write about.
What you want to be mentioning as close to the top as possible in your about page is some of those gaps or needs that your audience has that your content is going to address. Obviously, this is going to be highly dependent on whichever particular area you’re deciding to write about and to build your brand around. It is key on this page to make sure that you’re calling those things out, because the main thing you want people to come away with once they visit your about page is, “Wow! This is a site that’s answering some critical questions or is going to help me achieve goals or fulfill some desires that I have in any particular area. I want to hit the subscribe button, or I want to share this content.” That’s really what you want your about page to be driving that type of your behavior in your audience.
The next page that you want to think about and should be linked to from your about page and from everywhere else on your site is your contact page. You want to make it as easy as possible for your audience to reach out to you. You should create a dedicated contact page that is easy to get to from anywhere on your site.
On your contact page, you want to list all the channels such as email , phone, social media, chat that you want to make available to your audience. Obviously, you want to make sure that the channels you list are ones that you actually monitor and engage on. The worst thing you could do with a nascence or new website and blog is to list a whole bunch of channels on there. Finally, once maybe you get some people interested in your content and they have some questions for you, they put it out to a channel you’ve listed there, but you don’t get back to them for a week or two.
For a new blog, you’re going to most likely be scratching around for a little while before you get consistent readership, and engagement, and comments, and things like that. When you do, you want to make sure that you’re on those things as quickly as possible and being very responsive to your audience. That’s what build up the engagement overtime is when the next person who’s thinking about making a comment or getting contact with you, if they’re able to see that you respond very quickly, then it’s going to encourage them to provide their feedback or reach out to you even more. Again, you do want that contact page to be available pretty much from everywhere on your website. If you have sidebar links and navigation on your site and things like that, these main topic pages; the about page, the contact page, and some of the others we’ll talk about here, you want them to just be one click away from wherever the user is on your website.
In some cases, you may want or need your contact page to actually have a web form where a user could type in their name and email address and things like that if they need to be able to contact you. In some cases, which we’ll talk about more at the professional level, there actually might be some legal requirements to do that. There are some things out there in certain countries like in the United States, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and a few other things that basically require you to provide a way for people to contact you in case you happen to be utilizing copywritten content. Maybe you pull an image off the web and you don’t do a proper search and make sure that you are able to use that on your site from a copyright perspective. There needs to be a way for somebody to get content with you to ask you to take that down.
We’ll talk about that a little bit more at the professional level where we’ll add form capability to our websites. Just for now, realize that you might want to be considering that on your contact page, and I’ll include some links in the show notes too, some content for how to create that type of form on your contact page.
The next key page to talk about is your blog posts page. That’s the page that you’re most familiar with for blogs that you go to where it’s basically an ordered list of all of the blog posts that they’ve written, with most recent at the top and then you’re able to work your way back in time through all of the content that is in that particular blog’s RSS feed.
Depending on some of the choices that you made that we talked about in the previous episode about whether you want your homepage to be your blog page or whether you want to have more of a static homepage and then have your blog be hosted on the separate page on your site, that’s going to really determine which of these pages you’re going to edit. If you have a static homepage, then that means somewhere else on your site, usually your domain name/blog, is where you’re going to point your posts page to.
There are a couple of options here. WordPress gives you one by default and many of the different theme frameworks and themes that we talked about give you a couple of different options for those pages too. Generally, when you’re going to be pointing people to your blog or to your most recent article, that’s the link in the page that you’re generally going to be sending them to. You do want to think about that page and the layout there.
A couple of the options that you have on a page like that is; one, do you show the full content of all of the posts on that particular page? What that means is if you’re writing relatively long content and you decide on your post page to show the entire article, people are going to have to scroll through a lot of content on that page. Let’s say you have a couple of articles, all of them are several thousand words each and you configure WordPress to show the full article and you configure that blog post page to display, let’s say, three to five posts before you have to click a button to move on to the next set of pages. That could be a lot of scrolling. That could take a fair amount of time to load. You need to consider how much you want displayed on that blog post page, because it does have an impact from a performance perspective, and just scrolling and some effort that you’re putting on the user there.
An alternative is to basically have that posts page only show excerpts of your blog post, and there are ways to configure that to say, “I only want to show the first 500 words, or specific character counts,” or something like that.
On my particular site, that’s basically what I do. I use a plug in there that I’ll link to in the show notes that lets me control the amount of the excerpts that’s shown on the post page, and basically I choose to show maybe the first few paragraphs of that particular post so that the headline is there, the introductory paragraph and maybe an image or two and then there’s a read more button which you would have to click to then drill into the post and see the rest of it, pretty much your choice at this point. Again, just be aware of the performance impacts and the how much extra effort you’re putting on your audience to be able to get to your particular content.
We talked about your about your page, your contact page, and your blog posts page. The other one obviously that’s critical depending on that choice you made of whether you’re going to have a static homepage or not is what your homepage looks like. One of the things that I talk about in The Definitive Guide to WordPress for online Entrepreneurs is, generally, I recommend having a static homepage, because one of the things that we’re going to talk about once we move to the professional level is being able to collect email addresses from your audience and start building your email list. That’s going to be one of the most critical things that you’re going to do in your business and in your online business.
Given that the homepage is going to be probably your most visited page on your site, that’s something where you really want to think through what that content looks like. I don’t generally recommend having your blog post page be your homepage, because that content is going to change overtime, and when somebody lands on a blog post page, it’s not immediately clear what they should do. Should they scan all the articles you’re showing? Should they click to each one? There’s almost certainly no call to action that’s highly visible on a blog post page. Maybe it’s in the sidebar, buried at the top or bottom, or something like that, but there isn’t a unique focus of that page.
For your homepage, generally, what I recommend is treating your homepage like a landing page. You want there to basically only be one thing on that homepage, which is something that will entice the visitor into providing you their email address and then exploring your content. When we get to the professional level, we’re going to talk about things like lead magnets, content upgrades, free downloads. Basically, some key piece of value that you can provide your audience in return for their email address.
The idea is for your homepage is to use that as the landing page for that particular piece of content so that you’re helping your user out right from the first click, but you’re also starting to establish that a little bit deeper and longer term engagement with them by enticing them to give you their email address and letting you contact them in the future.
I’ll link in the show notes to an article about a concept called the Upside-Down Homepage, and this is by Bryan Harris over at videofruit.com. What he talks about is, is basically having a lead magnet and a call to action at the very top of your webpage and basically flipping it upside down. If you go to almost any homepage today on most blogs and most sites, you’ll see a ton of navigational links at the top. You’ll probably see featured posts and articles at the top. Really, it’s only once you get all the way down to the bottom of the page, maybe there’s a list of ideas, or pages, or a call to action, or something like that. The Upside-Down Homepage concept is the exact opposite, and that’s basically putting the lead magnet, putting a big call to action button, or forum, or something like that right at the top of the page. It’s very clear what you want the user landing of that page to do. I’m going to give you something and in return for it I’m asking for your email address.
Just like you would have guidance for landing pages to eliminate all other distractions, you want to move page navigation and menus and all that kind of stuff to the bottom. Get all that stuff out of the way so that it’s very clear you want that user to do one thing; type in their email address, get that free download, and then you can start pointing them on to the rest of your content.
That homepage design is obviously going to vary depending on what you do. If you’re in a service-based business, you want to have your offer up there, be a free consultation. If you’re in the information product business, you want to put one of your most popular lead magnets up there, something that you know resonates with the type of audience that you’re trying to attract. It will vary based on your niche. Again, I’ll link to that article. I strongly recommend reading that, and then considering going with that static and upside down homepage type of concept.
As for other pages that you want to have ready for launch, that’s going to vary depending on your niche. You might need to have product and service pages up there if your business is related to selling various products, or if you’re in the service industry. You might want to have an appointment scheduling type of page if you’re in a service business.
If you’re going to be creating lots of content across a couple of different topics, you may also want to configure what are called category pages. Most WordPress themes that build on top of core WordPress are going to have this capability by default. What that means is, is when you create your blog post, you’re able to create and assign them into categories. You might have a category called personal productivity, you might have another category that’s called copyrighting, whatever your topics are.
A category page means that you’ll be able to go to one link, usually a link that is your domain/the category name and it will show you all of the posts where you said it was a part of that particular category. Some themes and especially with the page builders and so on that we wrote — Or that we talked about in the previous episode, you could configure category pages as well if you want them to have a custom design and custom layout. A lot of people do like to do that so they can use more of a gallery type of view of the post that are in that particular category. That may be something you want to add to your site as well.
Again, before you move on into the next phase, you just want to think about from your niche, from your business perspective, what are those key content pages that you need to have behind your website in place before you launch? You want to go with at least those first couple that we mentioned about contact page, homepage, blog post page, and then the others that are relevant to your particular niche or business.
The next step in the foundation level as we’re getting near the end here and getting ready to launch your site, is you have to do a testing phase on your site. This is one of the most overlooked topics in all of online business technology. Testing is critical to make sure your site is configured the way you want and that all the different user paths through your site, like links, functionality, and so on work correctly.
What I mean by user paths is think about the experience that your users are going to have when they land on your site. What pages are they going to land on? Generally, if you’re going to be writing weekly, or daily, or frequent blog post, that’s mostly what you’re going to be marketing on social media, “Hey! I just wrote a post about X, Y, Z. Here’s a link to it.” You’d be tweeting that, putting it in your Facebook page, and so forth. In a lot of cases, your users are going to be directed right into your site into a particular blog post or page.
What you want to think about there is where might they navigate to off of that page? If you have sidebar content, you want to make sure that every single link in your sidebar works correctly. If you have navigational menus in your theme, you want to make sure that clicking all of those takes you to the desired page. The last thing you want to do again with just launch blog is to have broken links and navigational elements that don’t work, or functionality that doesn’t work. That’s just going to be an immediate turnoff to people that are visiting your site and they likely won’t be back if they run into a page not found type of error or a broken functionality on you site when it is their first visit to your site.
At a minimum, you want to test the following elements. First, you want to navigate to your homepage, your about page, your contact page, and the blog pages that we talked about earlier and verify all the design and content. Ideally, you want to do this from multiple web browsers. Definitely, try Chrome, and Safari, and Edge, since that’s the default browser in Windows and make sure across each of those three browsers, your site is looking like you want it to, first, on desktop, and then move over to mobile device.
You also need to test and validate all of your content pages across different devices. One of the things that’s key in this space today is with mobile viewership of websites dominating the traffic today. The vast majority of the views of your website are going to most likely be for mobile devices. While most of us are offering our content and doing our initial checks on nice widescreen monitors with huge amounts of real estate and full screen browsers and so forth, we need to remember that most of our viewers are going to be looking at it on the relatively small phone screens in various formats and we need to make sure that our content can scale down and the design of our content scales down correctly when viewed on mobile devices.
Since most of us don’t have 10 different cellphones floating around and multiple devices and screen resolutions beyond just maybe a phone, a tablet, and a desktop, there’s actually a whole category of tools out there that let you simulate and view what your site will look like from a number of different devices. The one I use is called Screenfly, and I’ll add a link to that in the show notes. What’s nice about that is basically you navigate to whoever page you want to test. Let’s say you’re going to test your homepage. Across the top of the screen and inside of this site, you could click on the different device type. Here’s what — You could click the button for iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Android tablet and so forth, different screen rotations and resolutions, and it’s going to render your website as if it was being displayed on those devices.
What’s pretty cool about that is you’ll be able to see, “Oh, wow! When my site tries to scaled down to single column for a relatively low resolution cellphone screen, all I’m seeing is my sidebar instead of my core content,” or something like that. These tools help you find those types of issues that might be going on inside of your theme.
Generally, the recommendations that I’ve talked about in episode number seven about the different theme frameworks and themes already are mobile friendly and generally are not going to run into these issues. Every once in a while, especially if you’re using the page builders and you’re starting to do complex things with some of your pages, you may run into these issues. Again, as part of a step on testing, you want to go to these key pages and test them across a couple of those different device types and resolutions.
The next thing you want to do is you want to back up your entire site. Now, in episode seven we talked about some of the mandatory plugins that I recommend, one of them being a backup tool. I happened to use BackupBuddy. There are a couple of different very good options out there, but the first step you want to do at this point, because you’ve created some of your core content pages and you just tested them, is you want to do a backup of your site. Then, I can’t emphasize this enough, I would like you to go in and delete one of the pages that you just created. Go into your about page, copy off all the content maybe to a Word Document, or something like that, but I want you to go into WordPress and delete that about page completely. Empty it out of the trashcan.
Then, what I would like you to do is to do a test restore of your site from your backup. I’ve been in the IT industry for 20 plus years, worked with government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to customers having issues and they say, “Hey! We’ve got backups, but we can’t restore them,” or “the restore failed,” or “the process didn’t work the way we thought it would and now we’ve lost data.” That’s because they didn’t make it a habit of actually testing the restoration of their backups.
There are tons of places that don’t even do backups at all, and then once they have enabled a backup, they pat themselves at the back and say, “Great, we’ve got backups now.” Those backups are useless you’ve actually proven that they can be restored and that they’re going to bring your data back.
Right now, before you’ve launched your site, before you’ve written tons of content, now is the time to do a test of that functionality to make sure that you’re able to back up your site, move the backup to a different location on a different type of storage and that you’re able to restore your site successfully. If that restore works, then your about page come back and you will not have lost any data. If that restore doesn’t work, then you just found out something very important, which is you have a problem with your backup process or your tools or whatever you happen to be using there. Even though it’s a little bit of a pain, I definitely recommend that you do these steps and not skip that part.
Once you’ve tested the backup and restore capability, the next thing you want to do is publish a dummy blog post. Just create a test page, put some dummy texts in there, hit the publish button, because what you want to be testing at this point is that your RSS feed actually works. Once you’ve published that over in an RSS reader, you want to subscribe to your RSS feed for your blog and make sure that that test post is showing up in that feed and that will prove out that all of your setting and configuration from that perspective inside of WordPress, and then the notification service that you use for RSS and all stuff is working.
The next thing even though your site probably only has a few pages now is I would run what’s called a broken link check on your site, and I’ll include links in the show notes to some services that do that. One free one is called brokenlinkcheck.com. Basically, what you do there is you type in the address of your website and it goes and scans every single link on your site and make sure that those links return proper results, that they don’t go to a 404 page not found type of error message.
The reason for doing this is, is that when you deleted the default content in your WordPress install, or as you’ve been creating some of your pages for your website, you may have configured a hyperlink to one of those pages but then later deleted it, or changed its name, or something like that and forgotten to go update the original hyperlink. What a broken link checker will do is tell you, “Hey, I’ve gone into my site and this particular link doesn’t work, it returned to 404.” It will give you a list of any of those that are happening on your site and then that will help you go in and basically fix those.
The next thing you want to do on testing is run a speed test on your site. There’s a bunch of different sites that do this. The two that I use are called pingdom.com and gtmetrics.com. Again, those links will be in the show notes over at strongstart.fm/008.
What those sites do is basically allow you to type in your homepage, your blog page, or pretty much any page of your site that you want, and it goes and loads the page. As it’s loading, it does a detailed analysis of how long each step it is taking. It’s going to come back and tell you things like, “Hey, it took eight seconds to load your homepage,” which, by the way, would be a horrible homepage load time. What it will do is it will tell you, “Because you put a gigantic image as your image and you didn’t compress it.” You might be downloading a four megabyte stock image or something like that and that’s what’s causing your slow load time.
At the professional level which we’ll talk about in a future podcast episode and which I’ll cover in addition to my Definitive Guide to WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs, we’re going to go into performance testing and a bunch of the different things you can do to speed up your website in detail. Those get fairly technical, so we’re not going to do that right now at the foundation level.
Here, the reason for this speed test is just a gut check. If those sites are telling you that your site is taking eight seconds to load, you do have a problem, you need to fix at the foundation level. If it’s coming back at four seconds or less, that’s pretty much where you want to be at this point. The ideal case is two seconds or less. At four, you’re getting up there where you’re actually going to be losing some readers because they just aren’t going to wait for your particular site to load, because it gets pretty technical in fixing a lot of those issues. Generally, if you’re four below, that’s okay for this foundation level.
If you’re above that, what I would recommend doing is engaging the support of your hosting company, because at this point you have a very generic and plain WordPress site, your hosting company will be able to help you troubleshoot speed issues when it’s a relatively simple site like we have at the foundation level. They should be able to help you get below that four second number.
The next test you want to do is run a security scan of your site. One of the mandatory plugins that we talked about in episode seven was some form of security plugin that’s going to be able to do a routine security check against your site. What that’s going to do is from a remote location it’s going to run a series of scans against your site to make sure that you’re not open to any common attacks or have any critical vulnerabilities on your hosting platform, on the server that your site is running on, and in your WordPress configuration.
Again, at the foundation level, you’re probably not going to be familiar with or understand all of technical details there. Luckily, these plugins give you a pretty simple results report. Usually, it’s a red, yellow, or green type of scenario. Again, if you have any red issues, that’s where you want to take a pause and think, “Okay. I probably need to figure out how to fix these.” Again, that’s something that your WordPress host will probably be able to help with, because, again, at this foundation level, we’re really just using a pretty plain version of WordPress.
There may be some things here related to your theme framework or some of the other choices that you made. Again, all of the recommendations that I’ve included in this series includes support, at least a little bit at the free level and certainly when you use the paid versions of the different theme plugins. Again, if you’re running into issues with any of these tests, use the resources you have available to you. Don’t spend hours searching Google or Bing for how to fix WordPress sites if you’re not technical. Fire off an email to the support staff at these other sites. In a lot of cases, they’re going to ask you for admin access to your site, and you have to consider that, but at this point at the foundation level you likely don’t have sensitive content on your site, so it shouldn’t be a problem in creating a separate admin account. Give it to that vendor for a short period of time, and then when they’ve helped you fixed your problem, change the password of delete that account.
I would never recommend giving them your admin account. Whenever I do this with plugin providers or contractors that I’m using, I create account that’s specific for them, I give them the password, and then as soon as they’re done, their work for me, I either kill that account, delete it, or I change the password so that they no longer have access to it.
Depending on the features and functionality of your site, there are maybe some other things that you need to test there. If you’re using additional plugins beyond the minimums that I recommended to provide certain functionality, you obviously want to go through and make sure that that functionality works.
Again, I mentioned at the top here that the different paths that your users might take. Again, you want to put yourselves in the shoes of your users. What happens if they land on your homepage? Where do you want them to go from there? Do all those links work? If they land on that blog page, making sure all those things work. If you’ve created a contact page that has all your different social media links on there, you want to go through and make sure they’re linking to the locations that you want. A lot of us have multiple Twitter accounts, or multiple Facebook accounts, and things like these, so you want to make sure that they’re hooked up to the right ones. It’s basically just putting yourselves in the shoes of those users and making sure that you’re giving them a high quality experience.
Once your site is fully tested, now you’re ready to create your first blog post, your first piece of core content. Already, between the couple of episodes in this WordPress Content Series, we’ve covered a lot of ground, and each of the topics could itself be an entire book. I hope I’ve distilled them down to the most important items and it helped save you time in getting to this point.
The key to building a blog that converts visitors into customers though is nailing this foundation level so that you can focus on the content. You’re not ready to author your first post and you can be confident that when you press the publish button, that post will reside on a professional looking, high performance, SEO optimized and secure WordPress installation. That was the point of the foundation level.
One thing to think about when preparing to write your first post is the style you intend to use on an ongoing basis. Meaning, are you going to focus on really long formed content, maybe do one blog post a month, but where that’s an epic post and it’s thousands of words and it’s really detailed, or you’re going to go for short posts, quick winds for your readers, posting daily or at least weekly or something like that. Are you going to use formal or informal language? Are you going to primarily be text-base or add visuals for emphasis?
As with everything else we discussed so far, copyrighting will increase an importance proportionally as you move to the move advanced levels with your site. What I mean by that is how polished and professional your content looks? How well it’s written? How well it’s edited, or whether you are continually driving users toward various calls to action. Sometimes these are called micro-commitments, where you’re trying to progress your reader through a series of steps up to the point where you ask them for bigger things, like an email address, or even a purchase of one of your products.
A way to think about micro-commitments starts all the way up at the headline. In the headline, for your article, the first micro-commitment is reading the headline. The next commitment is being interested enough to read the first line of your post. From there, you progress them into your first paragraph and into your first subtopic, and maybe into you first call to action.
The art and science of copyrighting is about how to use language and content to progress people through towards the goals that you’re trying to achieve for them. Especially when you’re creating your first blog post, there are just so many different things that you ideally want to keep in mind. It’s difficult for anybody to write well from scratch without some kind of guide or outline.
In the show notes, I’m going to link to a couple of blog post formulas and outlines that I use, basically, as a checklist for each time I write a post. I may not think of all 50 headline tips or techniques that maybe I read about at some blog posts. Whenever I find good things like that, good lists, and checklists, and so forth, I add them to my Evernote file so that I create checklists for each part of my blog post template. You could have 30 to 50 different things that you may want to think about form a headline perspective.
Headlines are just so critical for getting attention in today’s world. Your readers are bombarded with different forms of content and different channels and thousands of posts a day screaming for their attention, you have to get in front of them with a proper headline or they’re never even going to become aware of your content.
Once you have your headline in place, as I mentioned, progressing them through your content is an art form in and of itself. You don’t want the first paragraph of your blog post to be 50 lines, or 100 lines, or something really long and complicated to read. In fact, a lot of people recommend just having the first paragraph of your blog post be a single line, sometimes even a single word. Again, you want the micro-commitment of getting them to move to the next line, and then to the next paragraph and so forth.
I’m going to quickly just cover a very generic outline for your first blog post to make sure it meets the certain minimum requirement so you don’t forget any of the important ones that may impact the reach or ranking of your post. Later, you’ll likely create several different outlines for the different types of posts you might create, so maybe you’re going to do list posts, you’ll do maybe infographic-based posts, epic long form content, and so forth. You can’t go wrong by following at least one of the basic copyrighting structures.
There’s one that you’ve probably heard of before, which is the old tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them format. What that’s all about is basically having a quick introduction to what you’re going to cover in the post, then getting into your core content, and then reviewing the content that you’ve created and adding a call to action at the bottom. That’s the most simplistic form of a blog post type of template, and if nothing else, at least start with that as the minimum for your first post.
Expanding on that a little bit though is you can’t get a little bit more advanced. Again, you want to really be thinking carefully about your headline, then you want to have that introduction. From the reader’s point of view, tell them what they’re going to get from reading the post. That’s what’s going to hook their interest and make them want to read more. Then you want to think about your subheadings and content. Again, especially if you’re writing longer form content, you don’t just want giant blocks of texts. What you want to do is basically have your content be what’s called scannable.
Today, most people don’t even really read long formed content. The majority of your audience is going to scroll through, look at the headings, look at the subheadings and decide whether they’re interested or not in spending a certain amount of time reading your content. A lot of people will bounce at that point, but your core audience, if you’re addressing their needs, or their desires, those headings and subheadings are what are going to draw in their interest. Then, they’ll scroll back to the top and read through your post over a longer period of time, or in more depth.
Again, you want to think about your subheadings and content and have those really be highly useful to your audience. Sometimes, posting a question in your subheadings is good. Sometimes having structures or lists helps. Again, you want to think about before you even write your post, what is the general structure going to be. Headline; what’s the introduction or first paragraph and then what are your subheadings or groups of content going to look like?
The other thing you want to be thinking about at all times is your call to action. To close your post, you want to maybe reiterate the top two or three points you want the reader to leave with. Then, if you have a particular call to action, which I recommend you always should, ensure that that is highlighted as well.
A simple call to action could just be something like, “Watch out for the next blog post where I’m going to cover X, Y, Z in more depth.” In most cases, as well talk about at the professional level, I recommend always having some form of opt-in based call to action for almost all of your posts, if not all of them.
Generally, on all the blog posts that I do and podcasts, there’s always some form of lead magnet or a content upgrade that I create related to that post which is the primary call to action for that, ‘cause, again, I’m trying to build my e-mail list and get people subscribed to my content. Again, we’ll cover that more at the professional level, but for every one of your posts, you want to be thinking about what that call to action is that you’re asking your readers to do.
That outline of heading, intro, subheadings, and then summary, or call to action, is pretty simple, but each part of that can be taken to much deeper levels. There are entire articles and even books out there just about headlines. The topic of copyrighting launched one of the most successful blogs of all time in the online business space, Copyblogger.
For beginners though, you don’t want to worry too much about this. It’s far more important that you get in the habit of putting out quality content, then ensuring that every single word, phrase, and paragraph is fully optimized. That will come in time. I do strongly recommend though as you continue authoring content, you should continue to expand the outline that I put here and include progressively more detail. What I mean by that is, is that the checklist, or the things that you always want to remember as you’re starting to construct a blog post, you want to build that overtime so that you get more and more robust, more and more detail, more and more methodical in your content creation so that you’re not all over the map, and that one post looks well edited and well-prepared and then another one looks low quality and like you didn’t put the time into it.
A big part of your brand is what your content looks like and how well its edited and written and so forth. You do want to make sure you’re getting better at that overtime, and one of the ways I found to do that is just, again, to continually build that checklist of things that I want to think about each time I’m inside WordPress and editing a blog post.
Once you’ve created that first blog post, are you now ready to launch your site? At this point, I’d recommend one more step before we get to launch, and that is I really think you should launch with at least three blog posts already written and published. It’s the same guidance most people have when they talk about launching a podcast. You want to have at least a couple of pieces of content already published so that when you get that first reader to your site and they’re looking at that first blog post of yours, they’re able to go to something else. It’s, again, to build that habit of keeping them on your content, keeping them in your site, giving them additional value.
Generally, I would say pick three blog posts that you want to launch with and have those be core, or what I call pillar content. What that means is when you think about your audience, when you think about all these content you’re going to be creating in the brand or business that you’re building it’s pretty likely you’re going to cover a couple of topic areas. Even if you niched down pretty narrowly, you’re probably going to have multiple audiences. Even in the most narrow of niche, you’re going to have at least three audiences. Somebody who’s brand new to your site never heard of you before. Somebody who has looked at your content and seen some of your content before and then maybe somebody who is an actual customer of yours. No matter how narrow the niche you go, you’re going to at least have those three different customer types. You might have different content for each of those different types of audiences.
Generally, if you think about the categories, or the main forms of content and topics that you’re going to create, it would be good to select and create one blog post for each of those major topic areas and launch your site with that core set of content. Once you’ve done that and you’ve got those couple of posts created, now you’re ready to launch your site. At this point, after all of the work that we’ve done together in this series, you’ve put the foundation level technology in place, you’ve created all of the static content that backs up your website. You’ve created your first three blog posts. You’re now ready to launch and start promoting your site.
What should you do now? When you launch your site, you want to make sure that the result is people subscribing to your RSS feed and becoming regular readings of your blog. Again, by having those three posts there and published, your readers are going to see that commitment level and the quantity of content that they’ll be compelled to subscribe to.
With those three or more posts published, launching your site means announcing it through any channels you have available. When I say channels, what I mean by that is what I call your minimum viable platform. You most likely have a Twitter account, or Instagram, or Facebook. You might have a large network of friends and colleagues, [inaudible]. Whatever channels are available to you, you basically want to leverage those and say, “Hey, I’ve launched this blog. Here’s the key topic areas that I’m covering. Here’s why it might be a value to you.” It’s basically leveraging the network effect or whatever platform that you already have to at least get the word out there that you’ve got a new location, you’ve got this blog, you’ve got this new content.
For each of your posts, obviously, you want to think about what is my social media strategy for each of my post. Generally, what I do with my mine is on the day of publish, I’ll tweet about my new blog post three or four times. I’ll put a post out to my Facebook fan page. I’ll put a post into my Facebook group about the post, and I’ll basically leverage most of my channels. On Instagram, I’ll make a header photo that shows something related to the post and either update the link to my bio or just say go to my blog page. Basically, whatever that post launches, I want to hit a lot of my channels and build that awareness that that new post is out there.
For the next couple of days, afterwards, I’ll continue to mention it, but I’ll mention it fewer and fewer times as the days go by. Maybe I’ll mention that three or four times in a day I publish, then maybe tow on the day after, and then maybe one on the second day after I publish. From there, I put it into a rotational schedule. There are scheduling tools like Meet Edgar, or CoSchedule, which basically let you archive your social media post and then repost them on a periodic basis.
Especially if your content is Evergreen, meaning it stays relevant for a long period of time, you can continually message that out to your social media channels. You just don’t want to be doing it tons of times — Dozens of times a day or anything like that. Once it’s been published and it’s out there for a little while, mentioning it a couple of times a month, maybe once a week or something like that is perfectly fine.
Especially during the launch phase, you do want to reach out to friends and family and ask them to mention your new site to their friends and associates. If you’re lucky enough to generate comments on your first post, be sure to engage the commenters as quickly as possible. For anyone who mentions your blog or engages with you on social media, you want to thank them immediately, and not just in a direct message. Leverage your channel to thank them so that it can help theme expand their reach. Remember, the goal here is helping your audience. By mentioning them, you help them build their audience, because they were nice enough to go out of the way to mention your brand, your site to their audience.
If you have access to influencers in your niche, then send them an email letting them know you launched a blog, and include a few key points from your initial content. You might get lucky and have them mention it to their much larger audiences.
Later, in future parts of this series, when we get to the professional and elite levels, we’ll talk a lot more about influencer outreach. For now, these are just shots in the dark of basically letting those folks know that you’ve got some interesting content out there. I would throw in there just a line or two about how it helps their particular audience. Maybe you cover a different angle of a niche that that influencer is in, or maybe you cover something that is related to that particular niche.
Let’s say you know influencers in the fitness industry and your niche is going to be about helping trainers create their own websites and social media channels and things like that. You might reach out to those influencers and say, “Hey, I’ve got something that might be of interest to you and your audience.” Again, that might generate some interest from them.
The other thing you want to be sure to do is update all your social media profiles, and then forget in their forums and groups that you belong to, to include links to your new site. In almost all of these social channels and forums, you have the ability to have a bio section. Now that you have a new website and blog, you want to make sure that your bio in all of those networks is updated with your new domain and your links to your blog.
Down the line, later, once you have lead magnets, or free content, and things like that, you may actually want to have your bio linked to a landing page, or a part of your website that has great content and that’s going to trigger, again, that e-mail opt-in. For now, at least make sure that your bio and all your social networks includes your particular domain name.
Then, within reason, when you engage in these groups, and forums, and social networks, whenever it’s relevant, it’s perfectly fine to link back to the content in your blog post. You don’t want to be spammy and you don’t want to be doing this all the time, you don’t want to join a forum and then have your first post inside of that forum be, “Hey, go look at my content on this other site.” You want to engage naturally and, basically, where you have content that helps your audience, just offer it up. Nothing wrong with doing that. Again, you might be surprised with the amount of traffic and engagement you can get from being a good participant in forums and Facebook groups and so forth.
To wrap it up, from this point forward, blogging, or podcasting, or ecommerce, or whatever you might do with your site, moves from being easy, to requiring a really commitment to creating content on a regular schedule. Here, I think the key is don’t overestimate your abilities. I’ve fallen into this trap myself. You don’t want to commit to a daily blog posting schedule if you’re new to blogging. You will burnout probably within a month, if not sooner, because it’s very difficult to write good content quickly.
What i would suggest is commit to at least a weekly publishing schedule, and that’s basically the minimum amount you can do where it appears like you’re creating consistent content for your audience. Basically, across the board, no matter who you talk to, one of the keys to success in blogging, podcasting, and all of online business, is the consistent creation of content, on whatever consistent schedule that is, even if it’s monthly. Some people are very successful and have very successful blogs with huge traffic writing only a monthly post. However, that monthly post is usually an epic guide or some kind of really incredible piece of content. Of course, it takes a month to create it, but they’re getting the results there, because it is such a unique piece of content that it ranks highly.
Other people are successful with the blog post a day type of schedule. Start in the middle there with weekly, and then get your feet under you and then figure out what’s going to make sense for your audience and what’s going to make sense for the amount of time and commitment that you’re able to bring to your new website or blog.
At this point, we’re going to wrap up this content series on the Definitive Guide to WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs at the foundation level. If you’ve made it this far and you’ve been working along as you go, you’ve got your site up and running. You’ve got your static content created. You’ve got your first blog post published, and you’ve launched your site. That’s a big accomplishment. You should take a minute to celebrate. Celebrate with your friends, with your family. You’ve already made it much further into this process than most people do. By following this foundational format, you are on a much stronger platform and foundation and configuration than if you had just sort of winged it and followed those five-minute build a blog type of articles. You’ve got a really robust foundation here that you can build an entire business on.
Just with the technology you’ve put in place, there’re people out there that are already making hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars based on a WordPress online platform and content creation and information products. That’s the path most of us here are on, and we’re working through that together.
For the show notes and links to all the resources mentioned in this episode, be sure to head over to strongstart.fm/008. In the show notes you’ll find the link to the Definitive Guide to WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs as well as a detailed blog blueprint and planner, which gives you a checklist and specific step-by-step guidance for implementing all of the steps in this foundational level deployment of WordPress.
I want to thank you for tuning in to this episode and we’ll see you on the next episode of StrongStart.fm.