Thinking of starting a blog? It can be overwhelming to know where to begin! With so much advice out there on what a blog should be, how it should look, whether or not to monetize, WHEN to monetize… well it can be easy to feel defeated before you even start. And so much of the information out there is either super specific to a certain niche or business model, or it’s exceptionally vague and doesn’t give you the tools to really apply the ideas. I’m a big believer that the best way to reach goals it to break the big picture down into attainable baby steps, and look for benchmarks that have progress that’s quantifiable and can be tracked as you go. So today Im giving you my 3 baby steps for starting a new blog.
Baby Step #1 – Your blog begins and ends with it’s name.
The single most important choice you will make when launching your blog is also the very first – the name. Don’t rush this essential step! It will define every aspect of your brand moving forward. Grab a cup of coffee, a notepad and pen, and sit down in a place that makes you feel inspired, because it’s time to brainstorm. Ask yourself the key questions: What do I want to blog about? Who do I want my readers to be? What am I hoping to say with this blog? As you work through these questions, write down any and all keywords that come into your head. These don’t need to be names or taglines right now, just any word or theme you find yourself drawn to as you work through the broad strokes of what your concept is really about. Once you’ve completed this list, tear it off the pad and set it next to a fresh blank sheet. Work through the words you’ve written and try to create thoughtful name ideas that incorporate these themes. Don’t censor yourself – any idea, no matter how ridiculous, is valid at this stage. You never know what later concepts they may end up birthing. When you feel yourself closing in on a central idea, begin to narrow it down to your top three. When selecting ideas to be in this final trio, now’s a good time to start googling your ideas to see if any other recognizable brands are using your name already. It’s never fun to get all set to launch your brand, only to discover all of the relevant domain names and social media handles have long since been taken. So make sure each itm that makes your top three has been checked for these sorts of issues already. Once you have your top three, your first brainstorming session is done. Don’t choose your winner at this point! Its a good idea to play with all three for at least a few days. Talk to friends and family about them. Run them by people who read blogs in your niche. See what gets traction until a clear winner surfaces. Then pat yourself on the back – because you’ve just completed the most important step!
Baby Step #2 – Own your social real estate.
Once you’ve chosen your name, the next step is crucial. No matter what your current plans for your blog, don’t take another step until you grab up not only the domain name for your blog, but also ALL the relevant social media handles. The most common mistake I see too many bloggers making is to wait until they’ve “made it” before taking this next step, and in too many cases that’s simply too late and the real estate is already occupied by someone else by then. Even if your current plan is to stay small, don’t give up your options before you’ve even launched your site. You simply never know where this blog may lead, and it’s important to own all the social media real estate you may need to keep your brand cohesive down the line. You don’t even have to use them yet, but make sure you plant your flag before they get snatched up from under you. The most important places to grab up a plot for your blog?
- (Google+ – It’s better safe than sorry to grab this up, but I personally don’t use the platform)
Baby Step #3 – Define your brand visually
Now that you’ve taken care of some of the early logistics, its back to that brainstorming phase. Before a word is typed or photo is posted, your blog needs a beautiful design. The number one factor readers and advertisers take into account before they even consider your content? How your blog looks when they get there. The visual identity of your brand is the main way people determine what your brand is really about, and more importantly how it makes them feel. The best way to tackle this step is to create a Pinterest board. Remember collaging all sorts of cut out magazine pictures and fabric swatches on bulletin boards for inspiration? This is sort of like that, but updated for the digital age. You can even keep this board secret if you’re not ready to share your plans, but keeping it public can also help increase excitement for your brand and get potential readers invested in the behind the scenes process before launch day. Consider if you have a color palette in mind. Pull together images that give you the emotional feeling you want your brand to portray. Decide if you’re looking for sassy or sophisticated, muted or bold. This is where your dreams really start to come into view, so really put some time into your board. If you are hoping to blog for profit, it’s absolutely paramount to invest in a designer. A designer can come at many different price points and levels of investment, but its the single most important investment you can make into establishing a blog that will be taken seriously by readers and advertisers alike. (And if you’re in the market for a designer, can I take two seconds to say that working with Whitney of Heart & Arrow to create my brand was a dream. Cant recommend her enough.) Your branding board will be the jumping off point when you are ready to hire a designer, so make sure you’re pulling together a clear and consistent feel of how you see your design taking shape. To see the branding board I created for The Joy Parade, just look here.
So those are my three baby steps to get you started down the road to launching your very own blog. Whether you’re looking to blog for profit, as a hobby, or somewhere in between, these three important steps will help set you up for success wherever your blog ends up taking you. Stay tuned for regular features giving my insights in tips into launching and maintaining a successful blog. Feel free to tell me in the comments below what blog related topics YOU’D like to see me tackle!