One of the common mistakes that many new bloggers make is to go live too early or before it is actually ready for mass acceptance. In the third post of this series, let me share a few experiences which could be useful tips for some of you to prepare your new blog for launch!
Phase 5: Create & configure initial content
After setting up your WordPress blog as per our last post, it is now time to start building the initial content and content relationship entities such as tags, categories and permalink structure. There may be a few other things such as some default sidebar widgets but they are not as important as the content itself.
Initial content checklist
The following are the bare minimum content you must have before you can think of making the blog public.
- The very first post should be a welcome post that explains the motive behind your blog and what you intend to offer
- The welcome post should be followed by three or four (or more if you can) posts that underline the main subject of your blog and the cause you explained in the first post
- One or two pillar posts  that are long ‘reference’ material or timeless informative posts that collects many tips or ideas together in one post e.g. ’25 blogging tips’, ‘Top 10 birthday gift ideas’ etc
- Your ‘About’ or ‘Profile’ page that provides a short write-up or description (not a detailed resume) about the author. You should not ideally launch a new blog without an author description. Normally blog readers develops a patronage model over the time and they hate anonymous posts 
Depending on the number of posts you want to have before launch, this phase may take 5-10 days or even longer. Make sure that you timestamp the initial posts in such a way that it gives a rough idea to the new readers as to how often you post on your blog. In my case, I write three to four times a week and right now it is one post every other day.
It is very important to make sure that your posts (and especially the initial ones) are written in good language and without any grammatical or spelling errors. Ideally regardless of which editor you use, you need to do a thorough spelling/grammar check in your favorite word processor application before the draft gets publishable quality. Another important thing to remember that you may stick to your own hand-written posts and not any cut-pasted-from-elsewhere content for your new blog.
What is the ideal number of posts you should have prior to launch? There’re no hard rules however never ever launch a new blog which has less than say, 8 to 10 posts  to begin with. You should also make sure that these posts spread across a number of categories that are logical groups asserting the main subject that you are dealing with in your blog.
Categories, Tags and page slugs
Wordpress is a beautiful platform when it comes to Search Engine Optimized content creation. The tags, categories and page slugs can help a lot to increase the visibility of your content on the web. If you take care of your categories structure in the beginning itself, you may save a lot of time later on house keeping activities. You may read one of my previous posts on tags to learn more on how tagging process can be streamlined and optimum number of categories arrived at.
This is one of the most neglected features by most of the beginners. WordPress provides a number of options as to how your blog post URL should be appearing for the public (humans as well as search bots and spiders). The default permalink structure will provide a URL that shows the post internal ID. i.e ‘http://www.dollarshower.com/?p =19’. There are several other options such as naming the post URL using day and name, month and name etc. However you can set up a custom permalink structure using the tag ‘/%postname%/’  so easily and you get a human readable, beautiful URL for your post which now look like ‘http://www.dollarshower.com/ads-and-affiliate-compensation-methods’. Now, this is not only human readable but search engine friendly as well. There are many other tags that you can use to customize your blog post URL but I preferred to use this one. Please note that you still have the possibility to change this default structure for individual posts using the page slug property when you edit them.
Adding additional plugins
After you have created some initial content you may now think of including some additional plugins for organizing the content. I use several plugins such as Brian’s Threaded Comments, DragonDesign Sitemap Generator, Executable PHP widget and many more. You may also use several default widgets such as ‘Blogroll’, ‘Tag Cloud’ etc at this point of time. However, please make sure that plugins such as the ‘Sitemap Generator’ are configured not to inform the search engines as we are not ready yet. You may opt to add these plugins and widgets at any point of time in the future as well.
On that note, I would like to conclude this post. Please provide your valuable comments on this post and do not forget to book mark (use the links below) if you found it useful. In the next post I shall talk about how you can Do your own SEO (Search Engine Optimization) after which your blog will be ready for a preview.