I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried to start a blog about a million times. From all the way back in middle school when I made a custom Tumblr dedicated to Evan Lysacek (honestly thankful this was never published) to many, many graphic design blogs I almost launched over the past few years. Something trips me up every time: I don’t think my photography is good enough, I’m too caught up in agonizing over design decisions, I didn’t narrow down my topic far enough, and I have no idea what I really want to say.
But these days, launching a blog doesn’t have to be a huge production. In fact, I’m positive you can do it all in a weekend (or less!). Thanks to our platform of choice, Squarespace, the design and setup of your blog will be a breeze. Which just leaves finding your niche and actually writing your initial posts. Sounds way more doable, right? Follow our five steps below and you’ll be launched in time for a celebratory glass of champagne on Sunday night.
Pick your niche
Before you start building out your blog and writing your posts, narrow in on a specific area of expertise. What topics excite you? What do you want to write about and where do you feel you’ll add value?
If you don’t know what niche or topic you want your blog to focus on, pull out a blank piece of paper and take a few minutes to write down everything you’re interested in. Seriously, write down everything that comes to mind. Then, look over your list and think about each item you wrote down. Why are you interested in that topic? What drew you to it? Do you have a lot of opinions surrounding it? Do you want to further your own knowledge regarding it? Remember that you can combine areas of interest as well—you might want to write about travel and fashion, so key posts could focus on what to pack, what you wore where, city-specific capsule wardrobes, etc.
It’s also helpful to recognize that your blog niche doesn’t have to stay the same forever. You might start out writing only about freelance career tips, but once you’ve cultivated an audience, find that you want to write more about yourself and your day-to-day life. Choosing an initial niche is helpful because it gives you (and your audience) a solid road map for where to start.
Secure your domain + build out your site
Now for the fun part. Once you’ve narrowed in on your niche, it’s time to choose your blog name and template. It’s easy to get stuck agonizing over which name to pick, but my advice is to keep it simple. You can’t go wrong with blogging under your name—either just to get going or as your forever blog identity. A few things to keep in mind when choosing a name:
- Check that the domain for that name is available
- Check that any social handles you’ll need are available (Instagram, etc.)
- Do a google search to ensure no other blogs have a similar name. You want to make sure your readers will be able to find your specific site.
When you’ve landed on a name, it’s time to design your site. Squarespace is our platform of choice for websites and blogging—with beautiful, plug-n-play templates, you’ll be up and running in no time. Plus, you get a free domain name with any Squarespace annual plan. Win, win.
The niche you decided on earlier will help determine what your site design should focus on. If you’ll be writing long-form posts with lots of emphasis on text and links, you’ll want a template that is easy to navigate, read, and explore and isn’t too image-heavy. If you’ll be blogging about your favorite recipes, you’ll want a template that lets you easily add ingredients and cooking instructions. If you’ll be blogging about your style, you’ll want an image-friendly template with space to add shopping links. And so on.
Squarespace offers tons of pre-built templates with demo content in place to help you see how your blog might look when you’re finished. Start with one of their designated blog templates or browse all the templates and build something totally unique.
Pro-tip: Don’t get too hung up on the design initially. I’m a perfectionist (and a graphic designer) and sometimes I get so wrapped up in what something looks like that I spend way too long tinkering with it … and it never actually gets published. Luckily, Squarespace’s pre-built designs are already minimal and visually arresting, so there’s not much you’ll need to do. Don’t worry about having a logo just yet, update your site title and then use one of the hundreds of pre-loaded fonts in Squarespace to create a text-based logo that will work perfectly for your launch. Here, I used Bennet Banner for a striking, serif look.
Write your first posts
Now that you have a site backend to work with, it’s time to start writing and uploading your posts. I prefer to write my posts directly within Squarespace so I can test how they will look with images, links, and text callouts.
When writing your posts, keep your target reader in mind. What are they looking for? What are they coming to this post hoping to find? Think about these questions as you write each post to ensure that you’re presenting your information in a way that is helpful to your readers.
Design-wise, make use of visual hierarchy to organize the layout of your posts. Have you ever landed on a site or blog, saw a huge block of text, and just navigated away immediately? Same. Reading one long, never-ending paragraph can be daunting and you don’t want to lose readers before they even get started. Squarespace has built-in hierarchy for text, so all you need to do is label text you want bigger as “Heading” (either “Heading 1” through “Heading 4” based on your desired size) to create bigger, bolder text and draw your readers’ eyes. Break up your text with bold calls to action and tips. Add value with freebie downloads and further resources.
Optimize for SEO
Once you have at least five posts ready to go (you’ll want to ensure that readers landing on your new blog have more than one post to read), optimize each post for SEO to take advantage of any organic Google searches for your topic. Key SEO features to add for blogging:
Add SEO descriptions (also called meta descriptions)
SEO descriptions are usually 300-500 words that describe your page to a search engine (like Google). Add your page description to all pages on your site and include keywords to get your pages in front of more people.
Create custom blog post URLs
Your URL is the exact address of a page that shows up in a search bar. Add keywords from the title of your post to your blog post URLs to ensure your posts are showing up in those keyword search results.
For more SEO tips:
Now that your blog posts are in and your SEO is finalized, you are ready to launch your blog. Announce your launch on social media to get readers excited and be upfront about your posting schedule so they know when to tune in for new posts. Start by promoting the posts you already have uploaded within the site and start tracking how your audience is responding. What posts are getting the most views and engagements? What posts do readers seem the most excited about? As your blog grows, you’ll have more and more data to utilize to create the most interesting and helpful posts for your readers.
Further reading from TEG:
This post was in partnership with Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.
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Original source: https://theeverygirl.com/how-to-start-a-blog-this-weekend/