One of the biggest mistakes I see new bloggers make is that they don’t see their blog as a brand. To be memorable and a website that people want to visit you need to have coherent content that is useful and unique and it helps to have some kind of theme. Even if that theme is ‘The things I like’.
A big question to ask yourself is are you the face of your blog? In some niches, it will most likely have to be you unless you have contacts that will be models for your photos. For example, beauty bloggers are the face of their blogs as they use themselves when posting makeup looks. Different niches such as books or video games don’t need you to show your face to a camera, so the face of your blog could be an avatar or logo.
Name and URL
Your name and URL are really important for multiple reasons. Firstly, it needs to be memorable for people who read your content. If they don’t remember your name, they may never come back because they can’t find you again. This is also similar for your social media handles, you wan’t people to remember who you are when you try to engage with them.
For your URL you need to think about whether you will purchase your domain or whether you will stick to the free wordpress or blogspot domains. Although you can switch from wordpress/blogger to a self-hosted domain if you plan on making this a long-term project or a business I would always go for self-hosted as soon as possible. This well help with your readers remembering the correct URL and it will also help with your SEO as the longer your website is live it will help increase your DA score.
Speaking of SEO, it’s sometimes helpful to use search engine friendly keywords within your name and URL. For example, a lot of beauty blogs will include keywords such as lipstick, makeup or beauty within their names. This isn’t necessary to build a good blog though, and many bloggers will use their name as their personal brand. It’s also important to try and make your URL easily searchable. If you’re using numbers in your name and URL, you need to stay consistent as to whether you’re using the numerical version (10) or the written version (ten).
Try writing down some ideas for your blog name – find words that suit you or you niche, connect words, create phrases and try to be creative.
Mission and Vision
A lot of bloggers don’t really think much about their blog before starting. There was no thought into where they wanted their blog to go, or why they’re writing. Most just started writing about what they were interested in and didn’t think too much about the future. And I was one of these people. But if you take some time to sit and think about what you want from your blog, and where you want it to head it gives you some clarity about why you’re blogging.
A mission statement is the what, who and how of your blog. This is where you define the purpose behind your blogs content. Your mission statement will help steer you to the projects and sponsorship’s that are relevant to your brand. This will also help ground you into what your blog is at this time. If your mission statement doesn’t look anything like your blog, you need to work on changing one of the other.
A vision statement defines what you want your blog to become and the impact it will create on the readers. This is going to help you know what direction you want your blog to head in. If your vision statement includes wanting to make a sustainable income, you know that you’re going to have to work on getting sponsored and signing up to affiliate networks. If you wan’t to build up to provide a weekly podcast or newsletter, you know you need to set up YouTube or a mailing list.
Picking your target audience is really important as you want to write your content for the right people. If your content isn’t relevant to people, then they will end up not reading it and not returning. This will increase your bounce rate and also lower your views in the long run.
I would get Google Analytics as soon as possible so you can also keep an eye on who is reading your blog from your marketing efforts. You may need to tailor your posts differently than how you first thought. For example I knew writing about beauty was mainly going to be a female audience and I expected 18-24 as my age range as that’s what I fall under. I basically thought I was writing for people just like me, but actually half of my audience is the 25-34 age range. This shows me that my university posts that I originally wrote as a category on my blog was maybe not as relevant for my audience.
Tone of Voice
Whether you’re the face or not, you’re also going to have to think about the brand persona your blog encompasses and the tone of voice. Your TOV will depend on your mission and vision statements. Why you’re blogging, who your readers are and what you want in the future are all factors into your TOV.
If you’re blogging for professional reasons for colleagues and you want to increase your authority I would go for a more formal and professional TOV. If you’re going for daily lifestyle blogs that are based around yourself, then a less formal and more friendly tone will be good.
You can also think of a celebrity or a character that you want your brand to sound like. For example, if your blog was a really informal one and you wanted to sound a bit kooky or eccentric then you could aim to write like Phoebe from Friends. Staying on the Friends theme, if you blog was more academic then maybe Ross would be a better character to use. But always base this on your previous statements and make sure it fits your content and audience.
A tagline is a way to give a quick overview of your blog’s personality and topics. This is where you can explain your brand in a one liner that encourages people to continue reading your website. For example, if I’m looking for fashion blogs to find outfit inspiration and I’m clicking through to multiple different blogs, I’m more likely to stick on the blogs that have fashion or style in their tagline. I probably won’t find much outfit inspiration if I’m on a car blog will I?
You can optimise your SEO by using keywords related to your content. So my tagline is simply books, beauty and lifestyle because I blog about books, beauty and lifestyle. So if people search for book blogger, beauty blogger or lifestyle blogger I have a slightly higher chance of being in those search results. As with your blog name and URL, you may go for a personal brand or a professional brand in that case your tagline could describe yourself. E.g. ‘Marketing and Management student working in PR’.
Aims and Goals
Goals for you blog are targets that you want to reach. For example I set myself social media follower goals for 2018. Goals should usually be SMART goals to make them more accessible when planning how to achieve them. If you haven’t heard of SMART goals before they are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. Therefore I want to gain 300 followers on Twitter by the end of 2018 is a SMART goal.
Your blog aims are more long term and your goals should assist you with your aims. You aims should also then assist with your vision statement from before. One of your aims could be that you want to start monetising your blog within a year, or that you want to go into full-time blogging. Aims could also include wanting to work with X brands. They are less specific than your goals, but should also be realistic as you don’t want to demotivate yourself.
Colour Palette and Logo
Your colour palette and logo should be consistent across all platforms in order to make you more recognisable. I would advise stick to pick 3-5 colours that you want in your palette and work with these when designing your websites, header and logo. The reason why I would say limit yourself with colours is because you don’t want your website to look too busy as it may also come across as messy. Poorly designed websites often will have high bounce rates as people are less likely to click on other pages.
If you don’t have the skills to create your own logo I would highly recommend getting one designed for you. Your header will always be the first thing readers see when they click on your site, and if it looks bad, it will give of the vibe that your blog isn’t great and they may leave before they even read anything. They don’t have to be a strain on your bank balance at all. I’m currently offering header designs for £5 and separate logo’s for £3. If you’re interested please email me.
What do you offer?
So you’ve made your mind up and branded up. But what do you really have to offer your readers? Are you writing reviews for products, or are you giving inspirational talks? How is your content going to be useful for these people reading your blog? I would sit down while branding and pick out your niches and topics and also plan out about a months worth of content. Figure out how much you want to post per week and make an editorial calendar. You won’t have to stick with this once you’ve started, but it’s important for you to know what content you will be offering.
Do you have a USP?
So you know a bit about what content you’re going to create and how it’s going to be informative. But is it unique? There will always be some content that is over-saturated in the blogging world (cough – Naked palette releases – cough) but you need to think about what can you bring to the table. Are you bringing a professional background in your topic or just a passion for it? Or are you creating unique imagery for all your posts that aren’t the same as other bloggers? You need to find something that differentiates you from other blogs to try and encourage people to visit yours on a weekly basis rather than once every 3 months.
Stay on Brand
One of the main things about creating a brand is staying on brand. If you’ve set your colour palette to be pastel colours, don’t create assets in your blog posts with bright neon green text. If your TOV is professional, don’t start using emojis and swear words in your posts. The biggest part of being a brand is sticking to the guidelines you’ve set out for yourself!