If setting up a new blog, there’s plenty you’ll want to make sure is in order before its launch. But what should you do just before launching your blog? Below are some of the important things to do first, based on my own experience and from online advice.
Note I assume you’ve already done the basics of setting up a blog: finding a host, choosing a domain name/blog name, picking a blog niche, setting up SSL and site analytics, etc.
Check spelling and grammar
A very basic tip, I suppose, but you should check for any spelling or grammar mistakes before going live.
See how your blog looks in multiple browsers
If you’re setting up a self-hosted blog (versus using Medium, Tumblr, etc.), you might want to check how your site looks in Chrome (or another Chromium-based browser like Edge), Firefox, and (if you have iOS/Apple devices) Safari. You should also check to see how your blog looks on mobile devices.
Set up your blog’s search engine optimization (SEO)
Make sure your blog’s search engine optimization (SEO) is set up and optimized, covering basics such as social media appearance, sitemaps, etc. For WordPress users, a few plugins can help with this:
Several pages should be set up alongside your blog, including:
- An About page. It should explain the purpose of your blog/site, and give some basic info about the author(s).
- A Contact page. Site visitors should be able to reach you somehow, whether it’s through a contact form or a plain email address. The former is more recommended these days, as an email address is more prone to spam.
- Any other legally required pages or elements, such as cookie warnings. Some other pages or requirements might also vary depending on site needs, such as cookie warnings if your site’s based in or specifically serving the European Union; this is usually via a bottom-of-the-page pop-up. Some WordPress plugins, such as Jetpack, offer a cookie pop-up feature.
Add social network links and buttons
While social media definitely has its downsides, it’s often still a major part of bloggers’ online presence. As such, linking to your social networks should be done, usually in the sidebar, header, or footer.
As for which social network links to include, it depends on what works for you, and which ones you’re actually using. A photography blogger will want to include links to Instagram, Flickr, or other similar sites; a video blogger will want to include a YouTube or TikTok link. However, I wouldn’t go overboard in listing every social network available. If you can’t decide, sticking with Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram, plus an RSS feed link, are safe choices. On my blog’s sidebar, I include links for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the RSS feed.
Blog posts should also include social share buttons above and/or below the posts. If using WordPress, you can use various plugins for this, including Jetpack. Again, the number of buttons shouldn’t go overboard, and should be limited to the most popular social networks and/or which social networks draw traffic to your blog. At a minimum, I’d include Facebook and Twitter share buttons, which are the share buttons I include for my blog. I also include a share button to email a link to the blog post, but some might not want such in case of spam concerns.
Add an email notification or newsletter sign-up box
Newsletters have taken off in recent years, as a way to avoid social media’s downsides. As such, including a newsletter sign-up box in the sidebar, footer, or below blog posts has become popular. Similarly, a basic email notification sign-up box for when new blog posts are made is another option. The latter also doesn’t require as strict compliance to anti-spam laws; newsletters require listing a physical street address.
Check the blog’s navigation links
Make sure your blog’s navigation menus, bars, etc. are functional and don’t have any errors.
Check for broken links and contact forms
Make sure your blog’s links and contact forms are all in working order.
Modify the blog sidebar and footer
Make sure your blog’s sidebar and footer are in order. This includes adding any desired elements (newsletter sign-up form, recent post links, copyright notice, etc.) and removing any unwanted elements. If it’s a WordPress site, it’s advised to remove the default login section from the sidebar (under Appearance > Customize).
Check permalinks in WordPress
In WordPress, make sure the blog permalinks are set to be “pretty,” and not to the plain default (with numbers in the URL). Go to Settings > Permalinks, and choose “Day and Name” or “Post Name,” depending on whether or not you want to include the post date in the URL.
Test your blog’s loading speed
While I didn’t cover every point, I hope I hit the major aspects, and the above serves as a pre-blog launch checklist. That said, if there’s anything you feel should be included, please let me know in the comments below.