Checklist? Ha! It looks more like a mini guide to me.
I went full Super Saiyan to compile this massive blog launch checklist. There is just so much I learned over the years that I want to share with you all.
Post may contain affiliate links. Read discloser for more info.
This checklist is something I wish I had when I first started blogging 2 years ago. I struggled a lot to find answers to the most basic questions and worst of all I realized along the way that sources like Reddit were more helpful to me than blogs. It’s crazy.
Some very popular blogs placed the best software last on the list just cause they didn’t offer an affiliate program!
Me being the researcher I am, I would dig the truth to the very core.
So my point is that I had to jump through many hoops to get the quality info. And before you say why I didn’t buy a course and save myself the trouble, I was broke as fudge. The only thing I could afford was hosting.
I tried my best to provide something of value but of course, it’s not perfect by any means and I will keep updating it.
Even if you have launched your blog, this list has some tips that you might find useful.
Now, let’s get down to business!
Blog Launch Checklist
First things first, CLEARLY specify what niche you want to pursue and why.
Are you in for the money? If so, can you imagine yourself writing 100+ articles in the same niche?
A clearly defined and researched niche will make your blogging journey SO MUCH easier.
I know how profitable lifestyle blogs or beauty blogs are, but I can’t imagine myself writing 100+ posts in those niches.
If you barely tolerate writing in your niche, you WILL give up. Or the content you will produce will be mediocre or low quality in nature. You can never compete with a person who loves writing for the same niche.
That’s why it’s so important that you pick something you love or have a deep understanding of.
It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Know Your Why
Why are you choosing the said niche(s)?
Do you have something better to say? Are you filling the gap in the market? Want to gain exposure and be famous? Or maybe you just want to earn a nice passive income on the side?
It’s fine BUT you must know your why first.
I picked my niches based on my understanding and knowledge of the subject. I won’t say I like writing about business tips over spending time with my family, but it’s something that I enjoy writing for sure.
Defining why you are starting a blog and choosing a niche is the main step. The rest of the journey becomes much easier.
Know Your Competitors
After knowing your why, the next thing you have to do is know your competitors.
Conduct a competitor analysis by searching the top 5 sites in your niche. Don’t make the mistake of pitting yourself against the corporate giants. They cater to a very general audience and they have sufficient resources to stay at the top through SEO and heavy marketing.
Your competitors are the bloggers who just started like you did and are now successful.
The top names in your niche. Research them and look at their top posts. Find what works.
Ubersuggest gives you 3 tries per day for free to conduct competitor analysis. It’s more than enough for beginners.
How do you plan to earn money from your blog? It is very less likely you are reading this post to start a personal passion blog.
If you are investing time, money, and effort, you want to know how you will reap the benefits of your labor.
I wrote a post about popular ways you can monetize your blog from day one, so do check it out.
Do you plan to make money through affiliate marketing? Ads? Or do you plan to sell digital products? Maybe your services?
Clearly define at least 2 methods that you plan to implement on your blog to make money. If it’s affiliate marketing, know the names of at least 5 programs you plan to join.
If it’s ads, understand how much traffic you need and what you can expect to get in ads return. (all niches have different ads returns)
Blog Post Ideas
Before even buying my hosting and domain I wrote more than 100 blog posts topics I would want to write about.
If you can think of at least 50, you are good to go!
This is why I said picking a niche you like is a necessity.
(I can’t imagine myself writing 100+ blog post ideas for a fashion niche!)
Write and save all your blog post ideas on Google docs so you can access them anywhere.
Conduct keyword research and find all low-competition keywords you want to rank for. (Ideally a score below 20)
Google keyword planner (free) provides you with all the keywords your competitor is ranking for, which is amazing. (Just pop in your competitor’s Url)
Google suggestions on Google search results and related searches are a gold mine for finding relevant keywords. People also ask is another way to add more content to your posts and also understand user search intent.
If any site with a low (below 15) DA ( domain authority) is ranking on any particular keyword, snatch that.
Install Mozbar extension (free) to find out websites DA.
SEMrush is best if you can afford it but if you are tight on budget, Keysearch is a very good option. Of course, it’s limited BUT it gets the job done.
Write At Least 8 Posts
Select 8 topics from your list, and start writing. I don’t recommend buying a host or domain BEFORE you have at least 8 posts at hand.
Protip: Write the most popular posts that a lot of people are interested in reading. This is where your competitor analysis will come in handy.
Here is a post I wrote about how to write reader-friendly blog posts. (I detailed the best tips to write an easily readable blog post)
I like to use Google docs but you can also write them in Microsoft Word or a notepad.
Tip: I recommend not worrying so much about SEO if you are a beginner. And try your best to write quality content. It takes 6 months for Google to rank your site. You can always optimize your content for on-page SEO later. (But search the keywords)
Choose Domain Name
Hopefully, now, you are clear about your niche, and your blog topics.
Now, you want to choose a domain name for your blog.
Check your domain name availability and purchase your domain from reputable domain providers.
For me, Namecheap is the way to go. The domains are cheap, they have good customer support and they are not a hassle to work with.
At this point, you want to purchase a host to build your blog.
If you are a beginner blogger, I recommend Bluehost. They offer the perfect deal for new bloggers coupled with a free domain for 1 year.
I also used them, and so far they didn’t disappoint me. They have good customer service which I desperately needed as a new blogger.
In short, I got what I wanted to get started.
Access Your Dashboard
After buying your hosting and domain, you need to access your WordPress dashboard.
Here is a complete guide on how you can install WordPress.
After installing, access your WordPress dashboard by writing,
‘yoursitename/wordpress-admin.com’ on the URL.
Insert your username and password.
By default, your username is your author’s name on the blog, which looks really tacky and unprofessional. You want to change that to your real or nickname.
To do so, Edit my profile > Add a nickname > Update Profile.
Changing your permalink is important so your blog pages and posts Url looks professional.
To change permalink:
Go to Settings > Permalink > Post Name > Save
If you have a published site with all internal in place and you have started marketing your site, changing the permalink at this point will negatively affect your search ranking. Since all your existing links will be broken.
That’s why it’s so important to change it from the start.
Install Essential Plugins
Install your essential plugins right away.
- Security plugin
- Backup plugin
- Anti-spam plugin (if you plan to enable comments)
Here is a detailed post about essential plugins for WordPress sites, so do check it out here.
I use Akismet Anti-spam to filter spam, Updraft for backup, and Wordfence plugin for site security.
Your site needs to be in maintenance mode when you are designing it.
One benefit of using Bluehost is that I didn’t need to download a maintenance mode plugin when I first launched my site but not every host provides that benefit.
To check, open an incognito tab and paste your site link into the URL. If you can easily access your half-designed site, then you need to download a maintenance mode plugin.
I use seedprod whenever I want to change my site’s design.
Other Important Plugins
The above three are a must on your blog but there are other plugins you need to make your site functional.
- Caching plugin (important)
- Yoast SEO plugin (important)
- Contact form plugin (semi-important)
- Page builder plugin (semi-important)
- Monster Insights (semi-important)
- Image optimization plugin (semi-important)
A Caching plugin is important for your site speed, Yoast SEO takes care of XML sitemap, claiming social media handles, and also guides you for on-page SEO.
Delete Excess Plugins
Your WordPress site comes with many excess plugins you don’t need.
Delete all the useless plugins you don’t need.
If you downloaded a maintenance mode plugin but now you have launched your site, delete that too.
Don’t just deactivate them. You can always install them later if you need them.
Your blog theme should be mobile-friendly, lightweight, and responsive.
Some themes look great but they are bloated with coding and take ages to load. Some severely lack creative freedom.
You want a theme that can strike a balance between the two. And also that is compatible with most page builders.
A page builder should always be used sparsely. If you completely depend on a page builder to design your site then your site speed will suffer greatly.
A lightweight theme solves many problems. I recommend using themes like Astra or Generate press. Both are lightweight and blazing fast.
Read here if you want to know the best WordPress themes pro bloggers use!
UX Friendly Design
A user-friendly design is ultra important for your blog.
If all your main pages and posts can’t be accessed from the homepage, it’s not a very user-friendly design.
The links to your contact page, about me page, services, shop, latest posts, and categories/niches should appear on the homepage.
If it takes multiple clicks to get somewhere on your blog, the visitors WILL leave your site as they find it difficult to navigate.
(Heck, I leave too)
Don’t get caught up with the design and lose your site’s user-friendliness!
Resize and compress images before you upload them on site.
Any image on your site should not go over 90kb max.
Un-optimized images significantly impact site speed so, either use a plugin or manually resize and compress them before uploading them on WordPress.
Read this post to learn in detail about image optimization.
Since I don’t use many images on site, I manually compress them using Pixlr (free).
I first set all my images on custom set dimensions in Canva so they all are the same size before I compress them. Large web photos don’t need to be more than 1300×900 in size.
Do all your pages have the same feel and look?
It’s important to have consistent blog branding. It doesn’t matter if it’s minimalist or too creative.
However you want to brand your blog, all areas on your blog need to match.
If you downloaded a premade theme template, check if you missed an area or a widget to match your branding.
What are the color codes of your blog brand?
If you don’t know what color you want to use, just google color contrasts and palettes. There are literally thousands of ideas and matches you can get.
Once you decide on the colors, copy the codes and save them on a digital notepad. These colors represent your blog branding.
Don’t waste time adjusting the color shades on your WordPress editor.
For making blog graphics, I use Canva.
Canva is a professional graphic designing software that has thousands and millions of elements, illustrations, templates, stock photos, vector graphics, and much more.
I keep talking about it on my blog because it’s pretty easy and simple to use, unlike Adobe Photoshop or illustrator.
(I had a pretty hard time learning a simple thing on Adobe Photoshop)
Canva also has a Pro version that unlocks millions of graphics, templates, and other important features.
Your logo also needs to be resized and compressed.
Whatever logo you make, check if the icons and fonts you use are available to use commercially.
Crop all the transparent areas around your logo so it fits well and perfectly on the top bar of your WordPress site.
Most people try to fit a 500×500 logo on the bar, which results in a very small logo image!
Also Read: Best Free Logo Maker Sites On The Market
I use Canva (yet again!) to design my logos as they offer loads of templates and designing options for free.
ProTip: You can take advantage of the Canva Pro Free trial so you can have maximum creative freedom to design your logo since the transparent background is not available in Canva free version.
Favicon is a small image that appears as your site identity. It can be changed from your WordPress theme customizer.
By default, all sites on WordPress use a WordPress favicon as their site identity.
You need to replace that with an icon of your own.
Your favicon like your logo should be unique to your blog.
A gravatar helps you get identified on the web as it shows your profile picture on the author and when you leave comments on your or others blogs.
It’s a necessary part of your blogging business and your brand identity.
System Fonts vs Google Fonts
If you are a beginner, you may not know the difference between the two. I’ll explain briefly without getting too technical.
System fonts are pre-downloaded fonts on WordPress, while Google fonts need to be fetched from the web so they take a while to load, significantly increasing your site’s load time.
So, try to use system fonts in your theme to increase your site speed and reduce the ‘render-blocking resource’ problem.
System fonts include Verdana, sans serif, Roboto, Tahoma, etc.
Set a tagline for your blog. Taglines appear on the search results when people search up your blog.
Here is how to set your tagline:
Appearance > Customize > Site Identity
Create an about me page and let your personality shine! Your about me page is going to be the most popular page on your blog.
About me page is a mixture of why you started a blog, your blog missions, a little bit about your background and personal life etc.
This page is important because it’s the only page where your readers can connect with you. They want to see that someone is publishing the posts from the other side of the screen.
You can add your socials, post links, affiliate links, subscription form or a CTA to enhance your page.
Add a contact form on your contact page so that businesses and your followers can contact you through your blog.
The contact page is very important as all sponsors and businesses email you through that.
It’s best if you don’t provide your email address on your blog (to avoid spam!) and insert a contact form instead.
You can use a contact form plugin like WP forms.
Add a ReCaptcha to the form too!
If you want to sell anything on your blog or have affiliate links, it’s a must that you have all legal pages on your blog.
Legal pages protect you from unnecessary lawsuits if someone decides to get petty.
You can make your own legal pages or buy a bundle to save time.
I was pretty broke back then, so I made them on my own (it took me around a week or two).
Don’t copy and paste legal pages from other blogs!
Your primary menu should include contact about me, categories, etc. Things that your visitors might want to see.
The menu can be edited from the WordPress theme customizer or Appearance – Menu – Primary menu.
If you want to make a new menu, simply click on the create a new menu from your WordPress dashboard.
Your footer menu should have your legal pages.
You can also include your social media links, recent blog posts, logo, primary menu, some affiliate links, or subscription forms in your footer menu.
You customize your footer menu the same way you customize your primary menu!
You need a subscription form to collect emails on your blog.
Insert a subscription form on the home page, sidebar, or after posts and a popup form to collect emails from your visitors.
Don’t make more than a single pop-up form or it looks too spammy.
Pop-ups do very well if you offer a freebie!
What email collection software you should use greatly depends on your niche and how many emails you plan to collect and send each month.
Mailerlite is a good option if you are on a budget.
Social Media Plugins
Most social share plugins are bloated with coding and significantly reduce your site speed.
But you must insert a social share widget on your website.
It’s best to embed a clean shortcode. A plugin that most bloggers use is social warfare.
Lead Magnet / Freebie
Offering a freebie or lead magnet is a surefire way to grow your email list.
Of course, with so many things on your plate, it will be hard to make a lead magnet at the start.
Fret not. You have plenty of time to make it after launching your blog.
A lead magnet can be anything that will offer some value to your readers and will entice them to sign up for your newsletter. For example, printable daily planners, templates, a pdf or small ebook, some tips, course pictures, etc.
Bootcamp courses are also very popular among visitors.
Most bloggers (including me) make most lead magnets on Canva. It’s easy and hassle-free. Especially if you want to make a template or downloadable freebies like daily planners or pdf.
Cloudflare (CDN) provides an extra layer of security (protects your account from DDoS attacks and other malicious users) and helps make your site speed faster.
To keep it simple, a CDN (content distribution network) makes copies of your website on different servers worldwide, so your site can be instantly accessed without much load.
For example, if you reside in California and someone wants to access your site from Japan, they will easily get access from the Japanese servers instead of American servers.
Bluehost already has a built-in Cloudflare icon so you don’t need to do much to activate it.
By default, it’s automatically enabled on an active Bluehost site.
Uff! It’s getting too technical!
Social Media Handles
You can sign up to multiple social media handles if your brand name is available BUT it’s best if you only focus on using one at the start.
I strongly recommend starting with Pinterest.
A lot of things are going on in the first 6 months of launching your blog and if you try to do everything, you will burn out and waste all the effort.
A lot of people make this mistake (I did too), get traumatized, and quit blogging altogether.
Google Analytics tracks and analyses visitors to your website. It then gives you a full report on how visitors interacted with your website.
You can live track your traffic and learn all about which pages or posts are popular on your site, your visitors geographical location, and much more.
Google Analytics plays an integral part in strategizing your blogging journey.
The best of all is that it’s completely free to use.
Connect all your social media handles on Google analytics so you can track them too.
Google Analytics by MonsterInsights plugin I mentioned above helps you easily connect your Google Analytics account.
Google Search Console
Connecting your website to the Google Search Console is ultra important so Google can crawl and index your pages.
This helps you monitor, maintain, and improve your presence on Google.
This is where the Yoast SEO plugin comes into play. Yoast Seo allows you to enable and view XML sitemaps. You submit these sitemaps to the Google search console so they can be crawled and you can easily monitor your position on Google through the search console.
If you plan to use Pinterest to market your business, always make a Pinterest business account.
With a Pinterest business account, you can see your Pinterest analytics, run ads, see trends and what’s popular, enable rich pins and claim your website. (See! it’s a no-brainer!)
You need to launch your blog before you can do this step.
The best way to claim your Pinterest account is using Yoast SEO plugin.
But if for some reason you are not able to, then you need to download the Headers and Footers plugin. Or manually insert the Pinterest HTML tag directly into your theme’s header.
Here is how to do it manually:
Pinterest > Settings > Claim Pinterest > Copy the HTML tag (ignore the other two) > Next
Coming back to the WordPress dashboard:
Appearance > Customize > Theme Settings > Select the Header/Footer Script > Enter Html tag in the Header Scripts section.
Click verify on Pinterest!
Join Blogging Groups
I had to insert this on the checklist because many bloggers neglect this important step.
Joining a blogging group helps you a lot in your blogging journey. You understand and feel heard when you see other bloggers helping each other, sharing concerns and success stories.
If you are shy, you don’t need to engage instantly BUT you should join a few groups.
Blogging or working from home can get pretty lonely and it’s easy to lose sight of this when you have so much to do. And you won’t understand its importance until you are nearing burnout.
Now we are nearing our blog launch!
Check if all the links on your site are working properly. These include social media links, main menu and footer links, internal and external links on blog posts, and any other buttons or links on your homepage.
Check if your subscription form and contact forms are working properly.
The comments section, pop-up forms, and subscription forms need to be protected by ReCaptcha to avoid spam or bots.
Check Site Speed
Resize and optimize your images well and don’t go berserk over styling. The main downside of page builders is that it gives you a false sense of choice.
If you use fancy animations and stylings, your site speed will crash. Unless you are a web developer and you made your own custom theme.
Add A Recaptcha To Your WordPress Login
To protect your WordPress admin and dashboard from spambots and brute force login attempts, add a Recaptcha form.
First, make an account on Google ReCaptcha and then Install Advanced noCaptcha & invisible captcha plugin and set up ReCaptcha on your login.
Only use v2 ‘i am not a robot’ or ‘v2 invisible’.
(I use the first one)
Don’t use V3 as it does nothing except inform you about spambots!
Finally! It’s time to launch your blogging website!
Review your website one last time to see if you missed something.
Trust me it happens.
If everything is clear, press launch!
Now, your website is live. To check, open an incognito tab and paste your blog link to see your newly launched website.
If you see an outdated design instead of your latest one, delete your site cache and check if all your theme customizations are published.
Your site design will not get updated if you design it in a draft mode. You have to publish it. (I almost tore my hair trying to figure this one out!)
Phew! That was long!
I tried my best to provide the maximum amount of info in the shortest way possible.
I hope this checklist provided something of value to you. Visit the other posts I have linked in case you want to learn something in-depth.
With that, I am wrapping up this post. Best of luck to your business!
See you in the next post. Bye!