Blogging,  Lifestyle

Build-A-Blog: Creating a Successful Blog from Scratch

So you’ve decided to start a blog. First, congratulations! Even taking a few minutes out of your day to read this means your on the right track. You’re actively looking for ways to do this thing RIGHT. In my humble opinion, you’re in just the right place, because just a few months ago I was on the search for content like this and now I have my very own travel blog. Now, whether you are trying to jump into the travel niche or lifestyle, or beauty there are some best-practices. In this series, I’ll give a high-level overview of what you need starting day one and for the next couple of weeks, I’ll continue to add on with other Build-A-Blog posts. Now before you jump into the goods, I’d take a quick minute to put your email in below so I can let you know when another Build-A-Blog post is coming your way. That way, we can work through this thing together, a post at a time!

What you need day one…

When first deciding on starting a blog, or any creative outlet for that matter, you must plan. Planning goes much further than brainstorming a name and buying a domain. In blogging, your first step should be deciding on a niche. Your niche is what your blog will be focused on. If you like the idea of eventually monetizing your blog this step is important, you have to make sure the topic of your blog is profitable. This means claiming your blog is just a “general lifestyle” blog is not going to cut it. You have to think about what your passions are, what topics you just can’t shut up about, what makes you excited. You’re not going to get that from “lifestyle”. Don’t get me wrong, lifestyle blogs are often the most successful but they also always have a focus. It’s much easier to start off with a focus, grow your following, then expand.

Deciding on a niche and focus

Personally, I decided to start a travel-specific blog after taking a 2-month trip overseas that provided me endless content. My niche was obvious. When you may not have the obvious choice set out in front of you it may be a little more difficult. A good way to decide is to make a list of 3-5 things that you are passionate about, love, or even just have a slight interest in. Say you come up with fitness, fashion, and social media. From those three interests you can derive a focus; what’s your favorite part of fitness? Do you like keto? Do at-home workouts get you excited? Let’s consider fashion; do you have an obvious infatuation with shoes? What about handbags? These things all direct you to your niche.

Don’t rush this step, you need to make sure whatever niche you choose is one that you won’t get tired of too easy. Ask yourself, what do you love, what do you give advice about, what do you get complimented on often? Call a few friends to solidify your choice.

Once you decide that you are now a fashion blogger who loves a good shoe, you may want to start early in thinking about profitability. You’re already in a good place for when you build out your blog to be ready for partnerships since you have a focus. You’re a fashion blogger with a focus on shoes, later down the line when you reach out to brands you’ll discover that specificity is good. The audience you attract will be more engaged because you have specifically what they are looking for. That’s what brands look for; an engaged audience as opposed to a big one. Yes, the big brands partner with people with a lot of readers, but a blog with 1,000 readers with no comments or interaction is not as valuable as an account with active readers who are clicking links.

Picking a “catchy” name

Now, this is the hard part. There are ALOT of bloggers out there, all who take different approaches when naming their blog. Some just use their full name; EricaBynes.com, some focus on their blog’s topic; wondertheworld.com, and some are like me and find a combo of the two ericaeverywhere.com. Deciding on Erica Everywhere was not an easy feat and took me a nice little minute. The name of your blog is important and cant be a rash decision, but when you know, you know. In order to get the name that’s perfect for you, I have a few tactics.

First, a good idea is to try and describe your blog in a few words that can take on a name. A good example would be Marina De Giovanni’s notamodel.tv blog. She is a fashion blogger, which is implied by the mention of model, but you can tell by the title she wouldn’t be your typical pristine and perfect fashionista. It perfectly lines up to her blog where she drives home that you don’t have to be a model to look good and dress well.

Another way to brainstorm would be to write a short paragraph on what your blog is about and pick out words that could make a good name. For example: “I want my blog to convince people that they can truly go anywhere their heart’s desire. I want people to know they don’t have to navigate traveling alone and that they can always come to my blog for a quick tip. I also want my blog to emphasize that travel can be done on a budget and wondering the world is worth the money.” Some words I would pull:

  • anywhere
  • wonder
  • world
  • travel / travel tips
  • budget travel
  • money
  • navigate

Keeping in mind I want my personal name in my blog name I could test out words with it. “TravelWithErica” Nah, “EricasTravelTips” not a chance, “WonderWithErica”, getting there, “EricaAnywhere”, hmmm not to bad. It’s okay if you don’t think your name is necessarily “catchy” the real importance is your content. Don’t stress yourself over the name but don’t ignore it’s importance either.

Purchasing Your Domain Name

Once you’ve found the perfect name the most heartbreaking thing could be checking for its domain availability a couple of weeks later and it being taken. The domain name is essentially the name of your site, what people will type in the URL bar to access your blog. Once you decide on a name you can do some research to figure out whether it is taken or not, and if it is free you will have a chance to claim it.

There are plenty of sites where you can check if your domain name is taken but by far the easiest is namecheap.com. There, directly on the home page, there is a search bar when you can input your blog’s name and see if the site already exists. If it does exist Namecheap will provide you with a few alternatives that you may want to consider. If none of the alternatives are ideal it may be back to the drawing board. The first names I wanted for my blog were all taken which led me to Erica Everywhere so don’t be discouraged.

type in your desired name and search!
If it shows up with a check you are good to go!

Once you find your domain name to be available you can go ahead and purchase it. Yes, your domain name will cost money. If you are serious about blogging you have to be willing to INVEST in yourself. I’m definitely not made of money but I have invested in my blog and it has always paid off. I spent about $9 buying my domain for one year, and you will have to continue to renew it each year or pay more to buy for a longer span of time all at once. Try not to wait too long to purchase your domain but if you need time to think, take it.

Go ahead and add to cart if you’re ready to pounce!
A checkout button will pop up where you can proceed to buy
Select your desire length then confirm and put in your payment details!

I purchased my domain name from the same sight I searched it on; Namecheap. Later on in the series we’ll learn how to connect the domain to your actual site but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After purchasing the domain name, when you try to navigate to it, there will be a blank or error page. Congratulations, that ugly error page is all yours!!! You did it you have your very own URL!

Create Your Logo

Your logo is what people see at the top of the page when they first enter your blog. It sets the tone. It highlights your aesthetic. Your logo welcomes readers to the page. I would argue that blog logos aren’t your typical logo. There is no intricate shaping or design needed. Often blogger’s logo is just the name of there blog in a funky font. Long story short, you do not need to hire a graphic designer to play with fonts and colors, you just need canva. Canva is a blogger’s best friend when it comes to anything marketing and is specifically helpful with creating a logo. Canva will help you long after your logo creation so I suggest playing around with it if you haven’t already. The best part; it’s free!

Although I use canva for most everything now, I actually started off working on my logo on picmonkey. I would also suggest pic monkey if you have a very specific idea and your head and want to start from scratch. Picmonkey does require a payment plan after the initial 7-day free trial. Although I ended up with a picmonkey logo I’m confident I could’ve made a similar design on canva. If you’re already wary about spending too much money on this new endeavor I’d definitely point you toward canva.

Considering you have followed the steps above, you should now have a good idea as to what your blog will be focused on. Considering your focus and name think about what you want your blog to look like. I suggest visiting several blogs with a focus on logos and picking out things you like about them. When deciding how to create mine I was inspired by many logos I had come across. A common theme was simplicity; nobody, including the big bloggers, goes out of their way to create some super creative logo. It was usually a cursive-like font with maybe an underline or a brushstroke. Now if your blog is based on creative design please for all means think outside of the box. If your blog is more “laid back” or simple stay on-brand. See below for some of the designs I curated before deciding on my current logo:

Next Post… Let’s Get Techy

While you work through the goals for this post let me know if you need a little extra help on something! You can leave a comment or go to my contact page and I’ll be in your inbox within 24 hours! See you next post when we’ll jump into the techy stuff. It can be a little confusing to navigate on your own but we’re in this together. Read the next post here. View all Build-A-Blog posts here.

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