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My top 10 tips to start a blog

These are not the most regular tips. They go an inch deeper because I know you are smart enough to find out the very simple basics on your own as you go.

Take some as warnings as fixes to these can come with a long trail of complications, especially if you produce your own blog. So it is important to think carefully when you take your first steps.

Here we go:

1. Do not use a free blog

I know, this may not seem a good way to start, but having your own internet host means having a domain that is 100% yours: yourdomain.com versus yourdomain.myplatform.com

A server costs around $100 a year. It will allow you to add more functionality to your site and monetize it. DreamHost, BlueHost are just some of the hosting services available. Shop around!

2. Choose how you want to display your domain

Decide whether you want to use “www.” or not. You need to choose and make sure it matches your permalink structure in the site. You can also choose both options in your hosting service, but only one of them in your permalinks. More on permalinks coming up, hang in there.

3. Redirect

The most important thing if you migrate blogs: do not only import your content from one site to another (something that you can easily do with a plugin). You also need to redirect with a 301 so you don’t lose any SEO, cause error pages and create confusion among your audience. Make sure you do that. You don’t need to 301 every piece of content, you can go in your CSS and do a simple change of code to redirect all at once. Or just use a plugin. 🙂

4. Become a Facebook developer

This will allow you to install some Facebook apps in your blog, like a feed. Or a contest and more. It is important to give visibility to your Facebook page at any cost because Facebook won’t so be Facebook smart.

5. Choose plugins

They are amazing, like a magic wand. Decide what you want to do in your blog and they will do it for you: from xml sitemaps for Google to beautiful “follow us on” widgets like. From anti-spam to video embedding. From plugin packages like Jetpack that come with a wide array of options to those small ones that design your site like favicons.

There are many to choose from and are they are easy to install. These are the top 7 for me as far as keeping my site safe and functional. For design and branding, these 8 plugins will let your blog shine. Just like I love my fashion accessories: they are beautiful and speak about me.

6. Permalinks

When you select your blog’s url structure remember that the canonical option is better than anything else for SEO. Canonical urls are urls with words that “make sense” (they are your title or the main keywords in your title).

An example of canonical url is www.yourdomain.com/post-name/

In WordPress, don’t select the default permalink (?p123). Post name is a better option. Or month/name, etc.

Canonical urls are not only better for SEO but will let you make changes in the future, like creating subdirectories (to create a multilingual blog, for instance).

7. Create a Canva account

It will help you design many things like a pro. From a favicon to the headboard of your blog to anything. Canva is free to use, with a very small payment for only some of the elements. Branding starts with yourself! Read You are your own brand.

8. Share shamelessly

Don’t stop after you publish your creation. Share unconditionally, with no regrets and no shame. Use automatic scheduling tools. I like Buffer, but there are many (Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, for instance).

9. Take SEO seriously

To compete in natural search you must consistently find the keyword or phrase that will be able to provide search engines and readers with the key of what you are talking about. The right word is the best keyword, and it needs to be something users care enough about to do a search. Your keyword must be in the title, url, metadescription and your first paragraph. No matter what they tell you about keywords not being important remember that right now SEO is based on words, so make yours SEO friendly.

10. Review carefully

Review everything and, most of all, your first paragraph. It will be automatically pulled as a snippet by social networks and it cannot be changed later so make no mistakes: make sure the url is right (some systems get confused when you change your titles several times while editing before you publish, and end up with a weird mix of words. Edit your url before you publish because urls cannot be changed).

Dare. Try. Enjoy!

Léelo en español: 10 consejos para empezar un blog con buen pie

Clarisse CĂ©spedes

Journalist and Content Strategist. SEO, sponsorships and video. Follow me on Facebook and @ClarisseCespede.

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