How to NOT Look Like a Completely New Blogger: 8 Important Actions You MUST Do


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I’m assuming you’ve launched a self-hosted WordPress blog and you’re familiar with the WordPress dashboard since you read part one of the WordPress tutorial series. So, it’s time to…

Celebrate! Pour your favorite beverage, a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, a nice hand-crafted ale, an aged single malt whiskey, soda, or vitamin water. Whatever you like, pour it and celebrate.

If you’ve not yet launched your blog, I recommend you read these posts first:

  1. What is a Blog? Is Blogging Right for You?
  2. 3 Things You Must Overcome to Start a Blog
  3. Building a Brand that Wins
  4. Beginners Guide to Hosting: Why You MUST be Self-Hosted
  5. How to Create a Blog Name that WINS

When you first start a blog, the last thing you want to do is come across as a complete newbie. Especially if you have a goal to build an email list and monetize from the get-go.

There are eight extremely important new blogger action-items you must do, right after you start your blog, to keep from looking like a complete newbie.

Important new blogger actions Pinterest Pin

Click here to pin this image

So, read each section verbatim and complete each item to kickstart some positive brand perception and help you look more like a professional blogger.

 

Setup SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

The first item on your new blogger action-item list is to add SSL.

It’s important that you have an HTTPS protocol for your site. If not, Google will display it as “Not secure”.

You may be wondering what this means. Even though I included the name in the header, you can just refer to this as “SSL”, a security protocol, or just simply “encryption”.

What does SSL mean?

As mentioned earlier, SSL means that you have an encrypted (safe) connection between your web server and the browser.

SSL is now a standard requirement for most browsers. As a result, most hosting providers provide this standard security protocol for free through “Let’s Encrypt”. Siteground does (as discussed in Beginners Guide to Hosting: Why You MUST be Self-Hosted).

You can read more about Siteground’s free “Let’s Encrypt” here.

If yours doesn’t and you’re within a refund window, I would suggest you switch to Siteground. You can follow my guide in the link above.

This is what Chrome will show if you don’t have SSL set up for your domain…

Not secure warning in Chrome

If you signed up with Siteground, here’s how you set up your free “Let’s Encrypt” SSL.

Free Let’s Encrypt

There are two ways you can get to the “Let’s Encrypt” page. First, you can click on “My Accounts” from the main Siteground dashboard. Then, click on “Extra Services” in the sub-navigation area.

Siteground - My Accounts
Siteground Extra Services

Then, click on “Manage” in the “Let’s Encrypt SSL” section. If you have more than one domain, you’ll see your primary domain listed.

Siteground Let's Encrypt

Or you can click on “My Accounts” and go into your cPanel.

Siteground cPanel

Then scroll down to the Security section and click on the “Let’s Encrypt” icon.

Siteground security area

They both get you to the same place. So, choose whichever you prefer.

You’ll land on the “Let’s Encrypt” page. Here you can manage existing certificates or install new ones. For this exercise, you’re going to install a new one.

Sitegroun let's encrypt page

Select your domain from the domain dropdown menu. Then, select the “Let’s Encrypt SSL” radio button (mine was pre-selected so I’m assuming yours will be too) and click “Install”.

You should see the following success window. Click ok.

If you don’t see this, click on the “Support” menu item, scroll down to the bottom of the page to the “Request assistance from our team” section and contact Siteground.

SSL success

Be patient. It can take a few minutes for the installation to complete. After you’ve given it some time, head back to the “Let’s Encrypt” page using one of the methods above.

You should see your domain name listed with a status of “Active”.

SSL active

HTTPS Settings

Click on the “Select an Action” dropdown and click on “HTTPS Settings”. You’ll see the following prompt.

Siteground manage HTTPS settings

Switch the HTTPS Enforce option to “On”. This will make sure you site is encrypted.

An additional prompt will display for “External Links Rewrite”. It’s recommended that you enable this to ensure any external content on your site is also encrypted.

Siteground external links rewrite

Once you turn on “External Links Rewrite” click “OK” and you’re done. It should be active fairly quick (within a minute or two).

Be sure to check it by typing your domain into Google. If everything is setup correctly, you should see the “https” as part of your domain.

HTTPS site secure

If you didn’t sign up with Siteground, but your hosting provider provides free SSL, be sure to follow their guide or install steps to set it up for your blog.

You can always get free SSL directly from Let’s Encrypt as well.

Delete “Hello Word” post (or any sample post your theme created)

The second item on your new blogger action-item list is to delete the “Hello World” post.

Not every theme will include the “Hello Word” post. But a large majority will, and you’ll want to delete it.

If you don’t see the “Hello World” post with your theme, you’ll likely have some other type of sample posts which you’ll want to delete.

Navigate to the “Posts” menu item, in the main navigation, and click on “All Posts”.

WordPress All Posts

My test blog doesn’t have the “Hello World” post, but rather has a “WordPress Resources at SiteGround” post. This was automatically created by Siteground.

I’ve added a post called, “Hello World” for the sake of this tutorial so you can see what it looks like.

Hello World post

Next, hover over the name of the Title and you’ll see some options appear below.

Hover over post

Click the “Trash” link and you’ll see the post disappear.

Then, you’ll see a notification at the top of the page with the option to “Undo”. So, don’t freak out if you ever delete a post by accident. You can always recover it.

hello world delete confirmation

Bulk Actions

You can also perform bulk actions on multiple posts. I’ve never used this, but it could come in handy if you have several drafts that you’d like to delete.

Simply click on the checkbox next to each post that you’d like to change, select the action you’d like to take, and click “Apply”.

Post bulk actions

Now, you shouldn’t see any sample posts. Your posts page should say, “No posts found.”

Bulk items deleted

Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to add posts later in the WordPress tutorial series. 😊

Lastly, you can always view posts that you’ve removed by clicking on the “Trash” item above the “All Categories” drop down.

Trash
NOTE: When you “Trash” a post, it’s not permanently deleted from your blog. So, these are still using storage. If you know you don’t plan to use them, I recommend that you permanently delete them.

Check the posts you want to delete and select the “Delete Permanently” item from the Bulk Action dropdown. Then click “Apply”.

You won’t have an option to undo this. So, make sure you want to permanently delete these or save a copy offline.

Delete permanently

Voila, you’ve deleted the sample post.

Delete sample page(s)

The third item on your new blogger action-item list is to delete any sample pages.

Most themes will include a sample page or two to give you an idea of what a page looks like. You’ll want to delete these.

The steps are almost exactly the same as deleting the sample post, but instead you’ll be on the “Pages” page.

From the dashboard, either hover over “Pages” and select “All Pages” or click on “Pages”.

WordPress dashboard Pages

You’ll see something like this…

WordPress Pages

I’ll discuss, in more detail later in the WordPress tutorial series, how to add pages and which pages you need to add.

For now, I just want you to delete any sample pages your theme or hosting provider may have created.

Follow the same instructions, above, as the sample post to delete the pages.

Remember, once you select trash, you’ll also need to delete permanently in order for them to be completely removed and not take up storage space.

Delete old themes

The fourth item on your new blogger action-item list is to delete old themes.

By default, WordPress installs several themes for you to use. They’re typically titled for each year and at the time I wrote this, they’re Twenty Nineteen, Twenty Seventeen, and Twenty Sixteen.

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You’ll probably find another one that you’ll like better than these free themes. So, I recommend you delete all but one for now.

Leave whatever theme is currently active so you at least have a framework in place until you select another theme.

Although having multiple themes in WordPress won’t directly affect the reader experience, it indirectly affects it by slowing your site down.

If you don’t use them, they’ll take up storage space. Plus, you can always add them back later if you’d like.

To delete a them, hover over the theme and click “Theme Details”.

Theme details

Here, you’ll see a quick preview and will be given more details about the theme. Look on the bottom right side of the window and click “Delete”.

Delete WordPress theme

Press “OK” on the confirmation pop up and the theme will be deleted.

Theme delete confirmation

Then, repeat these steps for any other default themes.

Just to reiterate why we’re doing this, these themes take up storage space and you’ll likely never use them.

So, it’s better to delete them then to have them sit there taking up storage. Plus, you can always add them back if you’d like.

Remove meta widget from sidebar

The fifth item on your new blogger action-item list is t0 remove the meta widget from the sidebar.

I’ve never seen a blogger keep this unless it was a newbie who never removed it 😊

Meta widget

No one really uses RSS feeds anymore, so this widget is just taking up real estate on your sidebar. There are several other useful widgets that you can place here instead.

Hover over “Appearance” and click on “Widgets” from the sub-menu slide out.

WordPress appearance widgets

Navigate to the “Blog Sidebar” and locate the “Meta” widget. It’s typically always the last one and these are in the same order they appear on your site.

Widget Sidebar delete Meta

Click the red “Delete” link and viola, it’s gone. Just like anything else, you can always add this back if your heart desires.

Update permalinks

The sixth item on your new blogger action-item list is to update permalinks.

What are permalinks you ask? A permalink is the URL for your blog posts. It’s what comes after your top-level domain (i.e. www.learntoearnblogging.com/permalinkhere).

Most blog post permalinks are defaulted to date and post name. Here’s what it looks like in WordPress and in the browser.

permalink example
Permalink example date

Kind of clunky, right?

Why? Because you want to make it easy for readers to navigate to.

For example, if I wanted to tell someone how to access my post on building a brand, I could very easily tell them to go to “learntoearnblogging.com/brand”.

Nice and simple.

But if I had the default permalink structure, I would have to say, “go to learntoearnblogging.com/2018/10/22/brand.”

I don’t know about you, but it’s not easy to explain or type.

Change your permalink structure by hovering over “Settings” and clicking on “Permalinks”.

Permalink settings

WordPress will provide several options for you to choose from. Post name is basically the blogging standard. It’s what I use and what 95% of bloggers use as well.

However, you’re free to choose whatever structure you desire.

If you choose something other than post name, keep in mind that you’ll want your URL to be short and simple.

Adding in dates, numbers, or any custom structure will add length and complexity.

Next, select your permalink choice and click save. That’s it—you’ve updated your permalink structure.

Unless you want to change it back from some reason (which I wouldn’t recommend), you’re good to go.

Select Permalink
permalink example post name

Ahh, much better.

Update admin name

The seventh item on your new blogger action-item list is to update the admin name.

Your admin name will display as the author name with each post (unless you disable the name from showing).

It’s the name that you chose for the admin name when you installed WordPress.

Let’s check to make sure it’s something meaningful and that you didn’t leave it as “Admin” or something else that’ll make you look like a newb.

Hover over “Users” and click “All Users”.

WordPress users

You should only have one, so click “Edit” on the user.

Edit user

There are several settings that you may want to change, which we’ll cover in more detail later as part of this WordPress tutorial series.

For now, I want you to click the “Display name publicly as” dropdown and select the name that makes sense for you.

I personally use my first name. But, you can choose username (that you chose as part of the WP install), nickname, or any combination of first and last name.

Admin username change

After you’ve made your selection, click save at the bottom of the page.

Create a Gravatar

The eighth item on your new blogger action-item list is to create a Gravatar.

When you reply to a comment on your blog or comment on someone else’s blog, typically an avatar displays next to the name you provide.

Gravatar example

This is a standard practice among most WordPress themes and comment plugins.

However, a default icon will display when an image has not been provided.

Gravatar default icon

This is your digital handshake, you’ll want to make the best first impression you can.

So, why would you not want to provide a photo of yourself? Exactly, you wouldn’t.

How do you set up a Gravatar? Click on the link I just provided and log in with your WordPress.com credentials (it’s free to create).

NOTE: If you’re self-hosted through WordPress.org, you’ll still need to set up a WordPress.com account.

When setting up your account, use the same email address you use for the Admin account on your self-hosted site. Otherwise, you’re Avatar will not work correctly.

I made this mistake in the beginning and used an email address other than the one I set as my Admin email.

It took me a while to figure out that those had to match. So, don’t make that same mistake.

How to create a Gravatar

Now, follow these simple steps:

  1. Set up your profile – Fill in the basic profile information (i.e. name, about me, website, etc).
  2. Click on “My Gravatars”
Gravatar profile
  1. Add an email address – Again, make sure this is the same email address as your self-hosted Admin email. You will be sent an email to activate your account.
Gravatar add email
  1. Add a new image
Gravatar add new image
  1. Upload image
Gravatar upload image
  1. Choose file (assuming you chose upload new)
Gravatar choose image
  1. Crop image – Using the cropping tool, crop your image to the desired size as needed. Use the previews on the ride side of the page for reference.
Gravatar crop
  1. Choose a rating for your Gravatar (your Gravatar may not display on all sites based on your rating. It’s recommended you upload a “G” rated image for wider use)
  1. Select email address – Select the email address to use with your Gravatar. Make sure it’s the same as your Admin email. Or select “Do not use this image yet” for later use.
Gravatar select email

That’s it! You’ll now start seeing your Gravatar used when replying to comments on your blog and when you post comments and replies on other blogs.

Conclusion

Congratulation! You’ll now come across as someone who looks like they know what they’re doing (even though you might be a complete newbie).

Let’s recap what we did in this post.

We performed some important new blogger action-items for WordPress:

  1. Setup SSL
  2. Deleted “Hello Word” post
  3. Deleted sample page(s)
  4. Deleted old themes
  5. Removed meta widget from sidebar
  6. Updated permalinks
  7. Updated admin name
  8. Created a Gravatar

Did I miss anything? What else have you done to ensure you don’t look like a complete newbie? Respond in the comments below.

Then, be sure to read part two of the WordPress 101 Tutorial series. It’s all about customizing your WordPress theme.

P.S. Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share! The blogging gods will reward you 😉


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