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Your checklist for a new, profitable blog or site
Today, building and launching a new website is easier than ever. But when your primary goal is to build a site that generates revenue, it’s critical to invest time in developing a strong marketing strategy and building a site that supports your goals and audience. Use this checklist to ensure your new website sets you up for success as an Amazon Associate.

Choose subject matter that will attract a large audience

Personal passion about a topic is key, but for a blog to have the potential to make money it takes more than enthusiasm to write an article. Do the main keywords for your topic generate a broad search volume? Is the topic still current? Can you monetize with this topic? If you cannot answer yes to these questions, consider other subjects before you start building your site.

Be thoughtful about your domain name

The ideal domain name will allow your website to develop over time. While a name tied directly to your topic in a very literal way will make your subject matter clear, it could prove limiting over time. A brand name that is more open-ended will give you the opportunity to evolve as you grow. Register the domain at a reputable domain registrar separate from your web host so you can easily relocate hosting services later. Also consider matching your new domain name with available social media handles and registering them all together, even if you don’t plan on using every popular social channel right away.

Choose your host provider

When building your website, find a balance between a good-quality hosting company and a reasonable price. Many professional hosting providers offer entry-level prices, so you can get started at a more affordable cost. If you’re planning on using a content management system (CMS), look for a web host that specifically supports the CMS you plan on using. If you’re not sure, ask about CMS support and upgrade options if your hosting capacity needs to increase.

Install your CMS carefully

If your web host already supports your CMS of choice, it may offer one-click installation or similar quick setup to get you up and running. If not, take your time with the installation. Usually you can find detailed instructions on the CMS’s website and/or video tips online; just be sure to look for the information produced within the last year or two.

Sidestep unimportant plug-ins

CMSs can be enhanced with useful plug-ins to enable new features. But don't overdo it: each plug-in makes the CMS a little slower and possibly less secure, so only install actively maintained plug-ins from reputable authors. Verify that your plug-ins are compatible with your specific CMS version and always backup your site prior to installation in case something goes wrong.

Create an attractive layout

First impressions are important, so your website layout should suit your chosen topic and be pleasant and logical to use. Pay attention to using the right colors, matching fonts, a professional-looking logo, and other graphical elements that will have a positive impact and build credibility with visitors.

Fix the bugs

Before you launch your new website, test for technical bugs and errors and ensure there are no incorrect headings, missing images, or font problems. You can perform checks on your site’s code at free markup validation services websites. Validator.w3.org is an online validator from the organization that maintains the HTML spec, and validation is also built into most HTML editors.

Test on major browsers and devices

Visitors to your site will use many different devices and browsers. It’s important to check that your site works in all major current browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Also check built-in web browsers on the latest iOS and Android devices, including phones and tablets.

Generate content

Before your new site goes online, you need a plan for keeping it fresh. Brainstorm content ideas by using a mind map, doing competitor analysis, and conducting new research into possible content areas. Use the Idea Hub in Associates Central (under the Promotions tab) for up-to-date content ideas such as deals, bounties, seasonal/holiday events, trending offers, interesting finds, top-rated products, and more.

Pre-populate your site

Under no circumstances should you start with an empty site. Have at least four to five quality articles already written to ensure your debut is engaging enough to keep your new visitors sharing your content and coming back for more.

Proofread everything

Before publishing a new article, read it thoroughly and make sure spelling and grammar are correct—and take the time to fix any mistakes you discover after a piece goes live.

Design your homepage with new visitors in mind

Your home page is the "shop window" of your site, with many new readers either coming there directly or after reading one of your articles. Include a brief introduction explaining what your blog is about and list the latest and most popular articles. Your visitors should immediately recognize what your site is about and find it easy to discover additional content.

Provide legal and privacy statements

Depending on where you conduct business, your website may be required to provide certain legal notices, such as cookie warnings and other legal and privacy notices. For example, the European Union requires compliance with its General Data Protection Regulation while California enforces the California Consumer Privacy Act. Legal websites, some free, provide suggested wording.

Optimize for search engines

Implementing the fundamentals of search engine optimization (SEO) will ensure search engines can find and index your website. There are many strategies for improving search results but always focus on writing relevant, authentic content to get the biggest natural boost to your SEO rankings.

Measure load times

Search engines have increasingly placed emphasis on quick loading times. The average web user will leave if a website takes too long to load, which means less traffic and lower revenues. Use a speed test tool to analyze your website and identify areas that you can improve through, for example, image compression.

Analyze usability and accessibility

Ask your friends or family to use your site and give you feedback about anything they find confusing. A site that works well for those relying on assistive technologies such as screen readers will make your site more usable—and has the added benefit of improving your SEO rankings. Check your site using a web accessibility evaluation tool.

Install analytics

Use a web-analytics tool to find out how your website is performing, what content is particularly popular, and where there are problems. A number of free and powerful analytics tools are available online. After you pick your favorite, take some time to ensure all tracking is installed correctly. Then act on your findings to improve your website.

Set a backup schedule

Few things are more frustrating than losing content to technical problems or a hacker attack. A good hosting service will ensure a backup is made regularly, but there are also many useful CMS plug-ins that offer this service, too. Regularly back up your files, including your website’s database, so you can reinstall an up-to-date version in case of disaster.

Plan your mid-term content

Many new website owners and bloggers start with a lot of dedication, but begin to struggle after the first few weeks. A content plan for the first stage of your site’s lifespan can help avoid this. You don’t have to plan every single article, but important content or upcoming events like peak shopping moments can and should be planned in the longer term.

Monetize early

When should you begin to put money-earning links on your website? It doesn’t have to be from the outset, but you should still begin relatively early. You’ll gather a lot of valuable experience and can try different types of monetized content to see what works best. No matter when you choose to start, you should think about how to integrate content for monetization from the outset.

Get started today

Using this checklist will help you avoid serious mistakes planning and building your new site. But don’t get bogged down aiming for 100% perfection; it’s more important to just get started and gain some experience. As you get feedback and results, your initial plans can always change.
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