Blogging = survival of the fittest.
It's seriously a jungle out there, and for newly hatched blogs, it's even harder to survive.
But, there are a number of things you can do right away as a “hatchling” to immediately gain ground “in the wild” and transform yourself from a newbie, to what may seem like a seasoned pro.
Below is a list of things (big and small) that you can do as a newbie, so you don't stand out as a newbie.
1. A Professional Looking Domain Name
If you haven't built your blog yet, I recommend grabbing a domain name and hosting package from a web hosting provider such as Bluehost. [Full Disclosure: I'm a compensated advisor and an affiliate for Bluehost.] You can easily build your blog with their one-click WordPress install (in less than 4 minutes), and you'll have the benefit of having a professional looking domain name.
So, instead of having something like:
yoursite.wordpress.com or yoursite.blogspot.com
…you'll simply have:
The free blogs you can setup on wordpress.com and blogspot.com aren't bad. In fact, there are many successful ones out there—but if you're planning to be a successful long-term blogger, then you might as well start on a self-hosted site.
2. Update the Favicon For Your Website
A favicon is the little 16×16 icon that appears next to your web address at the top of most browsers, and it sometimes shows up next to the tabs or in the bookmarks section too.
A new blog usually has what looks like a blank sheet of paper, or sometimes it's your hosting provider's logo. Either way, it screams “Newbie” to a lot of new visitors. Spend 5 minutes to update your favicon, and it can be a small detail that makes a big impact.
To update your favicon, you'll need to place a 16×16 pixel icon (named favicon.ico) into your website's root folder. For WordPress users, that's directly into your public_html folder. You can create a picture file in Photoshop and simply rename it to favicon.ico, or you can create one easily for yourself on a website such as Favicon.cc.
3. Update Your Permalink Structure
The permalink is the URL that your blog creates when you publish new blog posts. By default, they usually come out looking ugly, like this:
https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/?p=123 (where p=123 simply means post #123)
Not cool, and it definitely doesn't do any good for search engine optimization.
Before you write your first blog post, you should change the permalink settings to simply be the name of the post that you create. For WordPress users, it simply means doing exactly what the picture below shows:
Under Settings > Permalinks, click on Custom Structure, and insert the code below into the Custom Structure field:
Your ugly URL problem solved, and now you look like you know what you're doing.
4. Skip the Unnecessary Plugins and Widgets
What's nice about WordPress is that there are tons of plugins and widgets to choose from that can do a wide variety of things for your blog, which makes customization really simple. The problem with this feature is that a lot of people tend to go overboard.
Not all plugins and widgets are useful. Be conscious about what plugins and widgets you're placing on your site, and remember that sometimes less is more.
What good does a calendar on a blog do anyways?
5. Do Not Add an RSS Counter
New blogs should never include an RSS counter, because a counter with only 9 subscribers is basically a huge sign that says: “Hi! I'm new at this!”
Leave it out until you have over 100 subscribers (at least), and then you can incorporate it into your blog if you really want it on there. In the meantime, work on your content and making other parts of your blog awesome.
6. Add a Video To Your Blog
A quick and easy way to establish yourself as someone who knows what their doing as a blogger is by adding a video onto your blog, preferably somewhere in your sidebar.
A nicely recorded welcome message, or even a quick tip to share with new visitors can definitely make you stand out from even the more experienced blogs in your niche.
7. Format Your Blog Posts
Newbie bloggers almost always write excellent material. It's probably because they're super excited about starting a new blog and the possibilities of what's ahead.
However, the format of many newbie posts always end up looking the same: a long, undivided post that resembles an essay.
In other words, the posts are lacking headings, subheadings, bold keywords, italics, lists, white space, pictures, charts, diagrams, and even links!
Take a look at some of your favorite blogs, and you can see that most are made up of several different parts, which makes it far easier to read and consume.
It might take a little practice, but if you can start off by writing blog posts with an eye-pleasing format, you'll be far ahead in the game.
Darren from Problogger.net wrote a fantastic post about how to polish your blog posts, which I definitely recommend you read before you even begin to write your first post.
Tips From SPI Readers
I know I've only begun to scratch the surface about how to not blog like a total newbie, so I'm going to pass the baton to many of the SPI readers out there who do have experience with blogging, to hopefully add their own tips too. So please, feel free to leave a comment below with 1 tip that you'd give anyone who wants to start blogging tomorrow.