New WordPress blog blueprint for success or (how to avoid your blog becoming a giant suck hole of time)

I’ve just finished another round of analyzing old posts, filling in missing keywords, tagging articles, working in affiliate marketing and overall, trying to make this mish-mash of articles, photographs and random ramblings appear to have been written with some clarity of focus (although they may or may not have been at the time).  I’ve spent countless hours, tweaking and refining, adding and deleting plugins, working on design and trying to plot trends of the future.  In short, I allowed my blog to become a giant suck hole of time.

The kind of blogger I’ve determined to become is like the magician that turns on the industry and reveals the secrets.  I’m not being strictly altruistic, I’m getting focused.  You can learn from my mistakes and keep your blog from becoming a giant suck hole of time as well.

Beginning bloggers, take heed:

If you want your blog to ever make any money, set up your blog with this in mind.

1.  Don’t use blogger, typepad, free wordpress blogs or anything but your own unique domain.  Sure, free seems attractive but there’s always – I repeat, always a cost to free.  I guarantee if you start making money on your blog, you’ll regret having .whatever between your catchy name and .com.  There are so many other disadvantages to the free blogging setups that it’s really another whole article.

2.  I recommend you get your own web hosting – personally I use and love for a variety of reasons.  (a) it’s about 8 bucks a month and the storage and bandwidth is unlimited, allowing me to host a gazillion other blogs and websites (which I charge people for).  You can install your new WordPress blog with one click – it’s that easy.  You don’t have to be an expert on FTP to modify your dreamhost account, they offer web ftp and it’s easily accessed from your control panel.  Dreamhost will also give you your domain for free for a year when you activate your account.  So do it.

3.  Install your WordPress software and open an account at wordpress.com.  You’ll need an API to activate your Askimet spam protection and your wordpress.com blog statistics (you can quickly see your stats on the dashboard).  Pick a template that allows you to easily customize your look and once you’ve got what you like, keep it.  I’ve spent countless hours messing with the look of the site and it’s just a giant suck hole of time.

4.  Open the following accounts.  Google AdSense, Amazon Affiliate Account, and Google Analytics.  Install the WP-Insert plug-in and set up your sidebar, header and footer widgets to optimize ads.  If you don’t have a paypal business account, open one if you want to ask for donations.  You can do any of these things later but I’m trying to help you avoid wasting time.  If you know you want to make money from your blog, plan it from the beginning.

5.  Change the default setting on how your posts and pages are titled.  Go to the settings and choose the format that allows the title of the post to be spelled out in the url versus the “page=number” format.  After a year of blogging on this site, a friend suggested this to me; how embarrassing.

6.  Think ahead about what you want your blog to be about – it doesn’t matter what it is but pick a theme.  Maybe you want to blog about Crohn’s disease or mesothelioma lawyers (I understand they pay big bucks when someone clicks on their google ads), or whatever it is.  Think about the keywords associated with your topic.  Create categories from those keywords.  Must credit my friend with this one as well.

7.  Write excellent articles about your topic.  Use the SEO pluging to create hand crafted excerpts, description, and add keywords.  Be sure to properly categorize and tag the articles.  Add a photograph if you can.  Articles with photographs are more appealing to readers than without.  Then and only then, go to your facebook and/or twitter account and share the link in a status update.  Facebook and twitter is it’s own suck hole of time and I use it very sparingly, preferring to spend my time focused on making money, not playing Mafia Wars or Farmville.  And I really don’t care what people think of me on facebook – I only have a handful of real friends there and the rest are complete strangers.  My real friends get phone calls and emails from me with an occasional nod from me on facebook.

8.  After you’ve focused on what your blog is about and written some great keyword rich internet articles you can go out into the blogosphere and make comments, join blog carnivals, blogroll, guest post and all of the things that every blog writing about how to make money with your blog suggest.  But beware, these activities have the potential to become a giant suck hole of time.  If you have unlimited time, go for it, but I prefer to spend my blog time crafting keyword rich, informative content under the theory that if you build it, they will come.

If you will do these things from the beginning, you’ll have a much better chance of success without wasting a huge amount of time.  If however, you have to go back and fix a years worth of blogging to optimize your content, well, that’s the price for poor planning and it’s probably worth it to get back on track.  That’s how I’m choosing to think of my countless hours in the black hole of the blogosphere.  As always, I wish you the best of success in your blogging endeavors.  After all, this isn’t a competition unless you believe my prediction about Google Real-Time Search.