Starting your first blog something you’ve been thinking about? Chances are, in today’s world, you probably know a blogger. With new bloggers popping up left and right, it makes it seem like the task of starting a blog is super easy. To be honest, when we first started our blog, we thought it was a simple process too. There’s a ton of little intricacies and loose ends to be tied when starting your first blog, and a lot of them aren’t that obvious. There’s so much to do when starting a blog that it can be dizzying to figure out where to start. In this article, we’re sharing what we feel are the most important tips to starting your first blog.
First and foremost, we should draw the line in between blogger and influencer. Those two terms are used pretty loosely in the social media world, but have slightly different meanings. To lay it out there, a blogger can be an influencer, but typically, influencers aren’t bloggers. Confused? Being a blogger means that you own and manage a blog (a website) where you share ideas, products, life stories, recipes, whatever it may be. “Influencer” is a relatively new term that’s been used more heavily in the last year. “Influencer” is essentially a word to categorize the people who are super popular on Instagram (probably), but use that as their main platform. In short, bloggers write articles and manage websites, influencers don’t.
There are tons of things to check off the list when starting your first blog, but as long as you have the below points covered, you’ll be in really good shape when making the decision to go “live” with your site.
Starting Your First Blog
Tip #1: Purchase a Domain Name & Choose a Hosting Service
One of the first steps to creating your own website is to figure out what to name it. Something we learned early on in the process was that you have to buy the rights to use a specific website name. Luckily, the process is pretty easy and purchasing a domain name is pretty affordable and is billed on an annual basis. We personally recommend GoDaddy for purchasing domain names, but a few other popular sites include SquareSpace, Google Domains and Wix. The price for a domain name varies based on how popular it is, but typically it shouldn’t cost you more than $10-20 per year.
Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with purchasing a domain name is choosing a hosting service. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this before. The concept is super simple. Your website has to be hosted on a special computer called a server. In plain terms, your site needs to have a home somewhere in order for it to be viewed on the internet. When people type in the name of your site, your server will connect with them and let them view your website. Obviously, this process is really high level computer technology that most of us don’t have the capacity to do ourselves. That’s why you pay companies who host hundreds of those special “server” computers to manage it for you. As mentioned above, we prefer Go Daddy for it’s customer service and easy learning curve, but other great alternatives include Wix and SquareSpace.
Your hosting service will act as the home for the backend of your blog. From GoDaddy.com or SquareSpace.com, you’ll be able to log into your dashboard to add pages, make any edits, manage different site themes, customization, posts, basically everything.
Tip #2: Pick Out a Template
In our personal opinion, a good template is what makes or breaks a site. A template is basically how your page is set up, how it looks, operates and brands your blog. Luckily for all of us, there are some really talented designers out there who sell their blog templates at really affordable prices. There are a number of place to go when trying to find the right template for your blog. A few favorites of ours include Theme Forest and Etsy.
Theme Forest is a massive catalogue of templates, built for almost any hosting service. It allows you to search by the kind of website you’re starting, whether that be a business oriented site, a fashion blog or a photography portfolio. With thousands of options at prices ranging from free to over $100, there’s really something for everyone.
Etsy is our personal go-to. Small-shop designers with big talent sell their blog templates for prices usually averaging around $50. There’s hundreds of options listed on Etsy. We personally love buying templates from the smaller sellers on Etsy because they tend to be much more attentive when it comes to customer service or troubleshooting matters. Another added benefit of buying on Etsy is the uniqueness of a lot of the designs. Because these are smaller sellers, the designers are highly creative, stylized and offer tons of customization options. If you’re having trouble finding choosing where to start your search, check out these Etsy sellers for some inspiration: 17th Avenue Designs, Underline Designs, Munich Paris Studio.
Tip #3: Write a Few Articles
One of the key steps to starting and launching a blog is the content. Prior to your site going live, you want to populate it with starter content so there’s something to see, read or do on your site when you do the big reveal. These first few articles are really important for setting the tone for your blog. It lays out what people can expect to see from you if they visit your website and introduces people to your brand and your style (writing style, photography style, etc.).
It’s pretty standard for new bloggers to do an introduction post as their first post. It lets you say “hey” to your new readers, welcome them to your site, and explain what you’re all about. The first post is a really important opportunity to brand yourself and your blog, so don’t forget to build in some strategy when writing this post.
A few tips for the other starter articles: identify your areas of focus. If you’re running a beauty blog and you intend to cover topics like skincare, affordable brands, makeup tutorials and trends, then your first 5 articles could cover topics like summer skincare, best drugstore makeup brands, a smokey eye tutorial, and the hottest makeup trends of the season. Along the same lines, if you’re running a lifestyle blog focusing on fitness, great restaurants and travel, your first few articles should span those topics.
Tip #4: Design a Logo
This one might seem obvious, but we need to include it here because it’s super important. Design yourself a logo. This should be one of the first things you do when branding your blog. What’s Nike without the Swoosh or Chanel without the classic C’s? Logo design isn’t always easy, but it’s always important. It’s what sticks in your mind when you think about a lot of brands, and that goes for blogs, too.
If you’re one of those super creative Photoshop gurus, then definitely give logo design a shot. You can save yourself a ton of money by doing it yourself, plus you get the added benefit of maintaining control over the design process. If you have no idea how to graphic design, don’t worry, you’re like most of us. We suggest checking out Freelancer.com. It’s a site for freelance designers to get jobs, and for smaller businesses to hire designers for cheaper prices than those quoted by established design firms. You can post your project and let designers bid on the job, so you get the opportunity to look through some resumes, different price points, and pick the one that works best for you.
Another thing to keep in mind when logo designing is different logo configurations. You’ll most likely need, at the very least, a horizontal version and a version that’s vertical or “stacked.” There’s no limit to where you’ll be using these logos, so it’s best that you have a few different configurations of the design so you can always be using the best version for the situation.
Tip #5: Build a Style Guide
Of all the tips, number 5 might be the most important. Do yourself a favor and build yourself a style guide before doing the deep dive into customizing your site. A style guide is essentially who and what your brand is from a design standpoint. It’s been described before as the “DNA” of your brand and your image. It lays out your:
- Size and style (bold, underlined, Italicized, etc.)
- Header fonts
- Main text font
- Logo font
- Number fonts
- RGB and CMYK color photos
- Main colors, accent colors, link colors, header colors
- Stylistic points
- How photos should be laid out
- Where to use special characters or certain logo configurations
- Mood board for overall tone
- Target audience
- Target age group
- Target gender
Basically, anything you can think of that defines what a brand is should be included in your style guide. It’s a way to ensure that you stay focused and on track when building your blog. It’s easy to get sidetracked and chase every good idea that pops into mind, but following a style guide will help you stay true to your vision. Branding yourself establishes who you are within the blogging industry and space, so the more consistent you can be about who you are and what your brand is, the better.
Starting your first blog definitively requires some commitment and hard work but if blogging is something you’re truly passionate about the hard work is well worth it. Checkout the Wolf Blog for more tips on blogging and content creation, like our post on blogging on a budget!