Start a Blog Research Phase – Part 1
Hello! In honor of my one year blog birthday coming up in August, I have written a 4 part series on my lessons learned in my blogging adventures!
Woot, woot! Blog Birthday numero uno!
The first part is called “1: Start a Blog – Research Phase.” I’ve tried to structure this series in a way that will help you, step by step, including my mis-steps.
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|Tip: You will need an empty binder with dividers to get started. Print my organizers for free!|
- Label your dividers something like this:
- 1. January – December (12 dividers) in each place a double paged spread monthly calendar.
- 2. Blog Ideas: Time for a brain dump of all the stuff you plan on writing.
- 3. Accounts: You are going to have a gazillion passwords and such for all sorts of things. Write everything down here in this section so you don’t forget!
- 4. Social Media: Notes about FB Groups to join, worksheets about growing Insta with hashtags, ideas about your social media content calendar and themes, Social Media cheat sheets for content ideas, etc.
- 5. Expenses: Insert a page protector here to hold all your receipts for tax time.
- 6. Trainings: Which trainings have you taken and which do you plan to take? Keep notes on trainings here.
- 7. Branding: You will want to write down hex codes for colors you use in your brand and images. You might even want photos or color copies of your vision for branding. You can share this with others or just keep it as a reminder for yourself when you are making images.
- 8. SEO: I have a keyword list that I add to when I am searching keywords on Ubersuggest. You can print reports and keep them here also.
- 9. Digital Products: You will soon learn that to start and grow an email list you will need to create some sort of incentive for a new user to be your subscriber. Keep your ideas on a list here!
- 10. Email: Grow your subscriber list with email. If you see any good ideas to try for yourself, keep a copy of them here and a lot of paper to keep notes on. You can add a calendar here too, for how often and when and what topic you will be emailing about that week, or month, etc.
- 11. Headlines: Don’t do all this blog writing and then slap a boring headline on it. It needs to be catchy, engaging, solve a problem and other things. Yep, look it up right now and you will see. Print out any good info you find headlines and keep it here to right notes on.
- 12. Pinterest: Did you know that Pinterest can generate traffic for your blog? There is a lot to learn about this. Two things I personally tried and loved and I highly recommend:
- Digital Sheo: Pinterest Reboot 5 day YouTube
- 2. Kayla Butler from Ivory Mix reviewing Pinterest accounts. Lots of great tips!
Have you been looking at other blogs to get an idea of the style and layout that will best represent your topic? Well, if you haven’t, then that should be your first step. I suggest heading over to WordPress.org to see what themes fit your vision. Now don’t get too excited and purchase anything yet, we are still just browsing and getting our ducks in a row.
There are themes for magazine style blogs, business websites, creative portfolio style blogs that showcase artists, musicians, photographers. Some themes are designed for Influencers and travel bloggers or coffee shops. There are over 7000 themes to choose from. Take some notes on which themes you need to take a closer look at.
What’s Your Name?
Observe the name they (you know… the clever web site you would like to model) picked for the domain name and the handles they chose for their other social media. You will want to pick something that is memorable, makes sense, describes what you write about or something that calls to mind nostalgia or something sensory or a certain vibe you are going for. If you want an elegant blog you will want an elegant name most likely. If you want a blog about country style barbecue, your “vibe” will be less elegant and more rustic. You get the idea. There are blog name generators you can find on Google or get creative!
|Tip: Don’t pick a name that is too long. You will be typing that URL out a lot in your future!|
A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.Wikipedia
Think about the way you will be branding your blog. Choose a style that will go with your logo and colors. Branding is important and something I’ve personally struggled with. There is a lot to know about branding and I’m no expert. I will just simply mention that a cohesive look across your social media and blog ultimately looks more professional. It makes your content look less all over the place. I mention Ivory Mix in this next section about photos, but I’ve also learned about Branding from Kayla at Ivory Mix. She’s got a great article about it here:
The ultimate guide to branding for blogs and businesses
Some questions to ponder about photos and design…
- 1. Do you already have photos? Are you taking your own photos? Will you be joining a stock photo membership?
- 2. Will you be paying a designer to create your logo or doing it yourself? Do you know of the free resources available to create your own graphics?
- I personally use Ivory Mix for my photos and graphic templates. I am so glad I stumbled upon this company on YouTube. I have learned so much from them and I love my images. I can’t say enough good things about this membership and how inspiring Kayla’s business and resources are.
There are tons of free photo options like the WordPress free library, Unsplash, Canva free library, Pexels. Keep your eye out for awesome round up blog posts like this one from Kate Doster who has listed tons of free stock photos for female bloggers.
Writing for Your Blog
[Blog, Blawg] a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.Dictionary.com
When I first started my blog I thought blog writing was just an informal platform where I could write on the fly and anything would do. You can definitely take this approach, but if you want your blog to ever show up on Google, you need to write with some Search Engine Optimization strategies. Trust me, you will be happy later if you don’t have to go back and fix your articles because they are getting zero traffic.
I’m nearly a year in to blogging and I’ve just discovered Rank Math for SEO, (Search Engine Optimization.) I wish I’d found it sooner because it has helped me tremendously. I was using the free Yoast that came with my WordPress business site for a long time and it was not getting the job done. Sorry Yoast. Rank Math really holds your hand and gives you reminders for all the different elements of SEO. I use the free version. (Naming your URL, using the alt tag for that same phrase, using headings, writing a description for your page with keywords and more.)
Facebook Blogging Groups
Join a FaceBook Bloggers group! Don’t join too many. It can get overwhelming. But it is a great way to ask questions, get advice and see how other bloggers are promoting their blogs. When we start a blog we tend to think that everyone will be reading it right away, but sadly this is not true. Building relationships and collaborating with other bloggers will help with your domain authority so that the traffic will appear down the road.
Domain Name & Web Hosting
Have you chosen web hosting for your site? Some of the expenses involved will be purchasing a domain name (www.whateveryouchoose.com) and web hosting that you can pay upfront annually or monthly. If you plan to monetize your blog you will not be able to do this on a free site, so keep that in mind when you choose your web hosting plan. I started with a free, then premium, then business plan with WordPress.com.
|Tip: If you plan to monetize your website and blog, you won’t be able to do that on a free platform. Lol, I tried.|
Monetizing your blog can mean many different approaches, not just a shopping cart to sell a tangible item. What are you planning to promote or sell? There are tons of affiliate options out there if you are interested in incorporating products that you like or recommend into your blog posts. I’m affiliated with Amazon, Target, Share-a-Sale, Pigment and Ultimate Bundles. I also sell essential oils through doTERRA.com. These are some of my other favorite affiliate products:
Are you planning to build your site yourself in WordPress? If so, I recommend creating a free practice website before going to work on your actual blog. It is very beneficial to start using WordPress with an actual site so that you can become familiar with the features. This was something I did and it was so helpful. I’m still learning things about WordPress!
Again, knowing what WordPress theme suits your vision is the best way to begin instead of feeling the need to rearrange your site. Take a look too at the Plug-In options that are available in your web hosting. I use the WordPress Plug-Ins that I know have been tested in the version of the theme that I have for my blog.
Well, that’s it for Part 1. Don’t forget to Subscribe so you know when Part 2 of this article is published. Enjoy!Join shareasale.com, Earn Cash!
Hi, I’m Jessica. My blog Sweet & Spicy Essentials is all about things I’m doing to make myself a happier, healthier more focused Mom. Whether you’re searching for good tips on starting your own blog, running your household, getting organized or just trying to get in some “me” time, I’m right there too and I’m keepin it real.