Blog Branding: 10 Things to Consider Before Starting a Blog (part 5 of 10)

This post contains affiliate links which means we may be compensated if you choose to make a purchase after clicking on one of the links.

What is your blog brand? What is your blog going to look and feel like?

When someone arrives to your blog the look of your blog should match the content of your blog.

For example, when someone walks into a hardware store, if that hardware store had the look inside of a doctor’s office waiting room, the “feel” would be wrong. The same applies for your website.

If you are a blogger who blogs about gardening and the look and feel of your website is sterile and sleek with minimal color, the feel would be off similar to walking into the above mentioned hardware store.

How do you create the look and feel for your blog brand?

Good question. There are a few things you should consider when branding your blog. Your blog should have its own signature style. When people arrive at your site, they should immediately know where they are. For example, if someone blindfolded you and walked you into a Lowe’s store and uncovered your eyes and asked you where you were, you would not say you were in Home Depot because even though they are both home improvement stores they each have their own signature style, very different from the other’s.

Things you should consider when branding your blog include:

  • The Name of Your Blog
  • Colors
  • Logo
  • Fonts
  • Decorative Elements

Things to consider when naming your blog.

Naming your blog comes easy for some people and difficult for others. Sometimes the difficulty arises simply because the name someone chooses for their blog is already taken as a domain name. But other times it comes about because of just finding it difficult to come up with a name. To help with this a bit there are a couple things you may want to take into consideration as you name your blog

  1. Does the name you are considering reflect the goals and purpose of your blog?
  2. Will the name cause any confusion for your readers?
  3. Will you choose to name your blog a generic name or after yourself?

If you are considering naming your blog after yourself, here’s one more thing to take into consideration.

Many people believe naming a blog after yourself is the best option. I believe this to be true for some people but not for others. For example, if you are a writer and will be blogging to promote your written works, etc. then yes, name your blog after yourself and purchase the matching domain if it is available.

If you are blogging simply for your own enjoyment or for journaling/diary purposes then naming it after yourself would be fine. And if you are growing your blog for a business to earn some income then using your own name may or may not be a good decision.

When is it not a good idea to name your blog after yourself?

If you have as a goal for your blog to grow a business which has equity and you can one day sell it, then I believe it is best to NOT name it after yourself.

As an example, I will use this website (faithfulbloggers.com). I purchased Faithful Bloggers from the prior owner back in January. I am actually the third owner of Faithful Bloggers. If this site had been named “Suzie loves Jesus and Blogging.com” it would not have been worth as much to me because my name is not Suzie. Does that make sense?

If you grow a blog to a point where it is earning income and making profit, then you have created something of value (an asset), at that point you could at any time choose to sell it. You could still sell it if it is named after yourself, I just believe it will be more difficult and may not have as much value. This is an aspect of naming your blog or website which I have rarely seen discussed. 

How do you choose colors for your blog?

Colors:  Thinking back to the audience you are writing for (we discussed choosing your niche in part three of this series "Who is Your Audience"). When you are considering colors, consider if the colors you are choosing are a good match for your chosen niche. Think of other businesses or websites which cater to your chosen audience. Are they using similar colors?  Don’t copy them but you can use them for inspiration, remember your style should be your own, not theirs.

Choose colors which resonate with you but which also match what you are blogging about. Look in the home goods aisles of your favorite store, do you see a comforter set with colors which speak to you? Do you see a mug with a pretty pattern in colors you like? What do you have around your house which has a set of colors on it which you are drawn to?

Another good place to go to explore possible color palettes is www.colourlovers.com. If you visit that website and click on “browse”, you’ll be able to explore color combinations to your hearts content. If you would like to play around with some color combinations visit PicMonkey.com and check out their templates. Spend some time exploring the options and playing around with the tools.

How do you choose fonts for your blog?

Fonts, like colors, suggest a particular style. For example, some fonts are rounded and playful, some are sleek and crisp. Some fonts are serif fonts and some are sans serif. If you have no idea what a serif is, I will tell you. A serif is that little line that is at the bottom or the top of some letters.

These are examples of Serif fonts:

Picture1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

“Sans” means “without”, therefore, sans-serif fonts do not have those little lines.

These are examples of Sans-serif fonts:

 

 

Choose fonts which match the style you are aiming for. Look at other websites in your niche and see what types of fonts they use.

 

Some good rules of thumb are:

  • You should stick to at most 3-4 fonts on any page or website.
  • Don’t constantly change fonts.
  • Don’t use fonts which may be difficult to read.

One of the most important things to do with your branding is to be consistent. Whatever you choose, do it all the time. If you choose one font, stick with it, once you choose your colors, always use them and if you choose to brand your images, do it all the time. Consistency is key.

If any of the blog branding aspects seem overwhelming to you, you have options other than doing it yourself.

PicMonkey Photo editing made of win

You could hire a designer to set up the visual aspects of your blog. If you are looking for a designer you may be able to find one on Fiverr.com. On Fiverr.com you can browse through the portfolios of designers and find someone who's work resonates with you. Or, alternatively you could visit Picmonkey and play around with templates and logos. Picmonkey is what I use to create almost all the images here on Faithful Bloggers. They have a free version which has tons of tools for you to use. The paid version is very reasonably priced.

 Alternatively try out www.canva.com and play around with some of their templates. The templates at those two websites have prechosen fonts and colors to make some of these decisions easier for you. By looking at the templates you can see examples of fonts which will look good together as well as color combinations.

I know this is a lot to think about if you are just starting out your blog. Just take it one step at a time and remember, nothing is permanent. You can change the colors or fonts on your blog any time you choose. Just choose something to start and take it from there.

Happy Blogging.

To see the other posts in this series: 

Blog Posting Schedule: 10 Things to Consider Before You Start a Blog (part 4 of 10)

With you answers to the questions from the first three posts in this series, you can now answer a new question:  What is your posting schedule going to be?

It is a good idea to establish what your blog posting schedule is going to be, right from the start of your blog. Posting schedules for bloggers range from posting every day or even a couple times a day to posting once a week or even once per month. None of those schedules are wrong.

Your blog posting schedule should be just that, YOUR posting schedule, not someone else’s.

If you do online research on what is the best posting schedule for blogging, you will find a wide variety of answers. But the truth is, what may be right for one blogger may not be right for another. There is no “one-size fits all” answer.  What is important is that you be comfortable with whatever you choose for a blog posting schedule.

When you are choosing how frequently you are going to post new blog content here are some things you should take into consideration:

  • Can you come up with new content at that frequency?
  • Can you do that long term?
  • Is the schedule you are considering a good fit for your family?
  • Is the schedule you are considering a good fit for other work/social/etc. things in your life?
  • What frequency would your readers want to hear from you?
  • What frequency would be a bother to your readers?

I have read writing by many people who recommend posting daily. I do not necessarily agree with this. A daily posting schedule works well for some blogs and for some niches but not for all.  

Although I understand why they find this important, I know for me personally that schedule would not work for a number of reasons. First, I think it’s unnecessary, second, it would be just too overwhelming for me and the other things in my life, and third, I don’t think my readers want to hear from me that often. However, I do know there are bloggers who do post according to a daily schedule and it works for them and their blog. Remember, what works for one does not necessarily work for another when it comes to blog posting schedules.

One of the keys when it comes to choosing your blog posting schedule is consistency. You should choose a schedule which you believe you can maintain consistently. You are going to be writing and posting at this frequency for a very long time so choose wisely and then be consistent.

Why is consistency so important?

Consistency with your blog posting schedule is important because you are basically training your readers in what to expect from you. If you post at a regular schedule, they grow to expect that schedule. In addition, when you post on a consistent schedule, you will see the traffic to your website will also be consistent. However, if you post at one schedule and then change it on your readers, you will see that the traffic to your website also changes.

There are two types of changes with posting to your blog which could occur. The first is, you begin with a heavy posting schedule, maybe posting every day. Then you change it and just publish a post once a week. Your readers will see this sudden drop and wonder what is going on.

The other change is the opposite where you are posting once a week and then suddenly you are posting constantly. Your readers will notice this as well and if the thought “Why on earth is she sending out so much information?” crosses their mind, they may unsubscribe to your mailing list. Consistency is key, choose a schedule and stick to it.

Once you choose a blog posting schedule you will have to decide how you are going to fill those posts.

If you think you will have any trouble coming up with content by just sitting down to a blank page or computer screen, here are some ideas for content.

  •    Consider scheduling guest posts
  •    Do some product reviews
  •    Write a blog post series (like this one)
  •    Post a video post.
  •    Post images with brief captions
  •    Record an interview of someone in your niche

These are just a few of the methods you can use to come up with creative content for your blog. If you add some of these ideas from time to time between regular blog posts, the variety will help to keep your readers engaged and it will help you keep your posting schedule commitment.

If you would like some more ideas for how to fill you blog posts, you can download our free tool: 25 Blog Post Ideas for Christian Bloggers, it can be found in our Freebie area along with other helpful resources. Click Here:  Take me to the FREEBIES

Find Your Niche : 10 Things To Consider Before Starting A Blog (part 3 of 10)

This post contains affiliate links, for more information see our affiliate statement.

Who are you writing for? 

This is an important question to ask yourself before you even set up your blog. Finding your niche first can provide you direction when it comes to naming your website or blog a name which will resonate with your readers. It can also help guide you in your decision regarding the colors and branding look which you choose for your blog. In addition, when you brainstorm a list of potential writing topics for blog posts, knowing your niche will help the ideas flow more freely. 

If you are a Christian blogger, you have tremendous opportunity online to share regarding your faith. 

When people arrive at your blog or website you want them to stay awhile.

The best way to do that is for your site to have a clear purpose. There must be something there which resonates with them in order for them to stay. If you are a gardener who also loves fashion and cooking, these three things may be too disconnected in the mind of your reader for you to write on all three topics. for example, if someone who is seeking gardening tips arrives at your website but the page they land on has an article on the new dress you purchased and how stylish it is, you will probably lose the reader.  

However, if you choose to write about your gardening adventures and you also include cooking and recipes using things you've grown in your garden, now you have an attentive audience.

You could even throw in an article or two on the latest gardening hat to protect gardeners from the sun while gardening. This way you are adding in your love of fashion but still keeping it focused on gardeners.  

How to find your niche audience.

When choosing your topic, one very important thing is that you be interested in it. You will be writing about the topic for a very long time and it will get boring quickly if you don't like the topic. Narrow down your audience. By this I mean, don't just write to computer geeks, write to computer geeks who play games or computer geeks who build websites. Don't just write to moms, write to Christian homeschooling moms. Don't just write to those who have lost a loved one, write to those who have lost a child, or who are single after the loss of a spouse. Narrow it down and then write to that audience.

Make sure when you narrow it down, you don't narrow so much that there isn't enough to write about. 

If you are not sure who you want to write for begin by making a list of the things which you love. What are the things which resonate with you or which you enjoy doing in your spare time? Your hobbies and interests are topics which you would probably enjoy writing about. They are also the topics for which you would probably have the greatest ease coming up with content. 

If you need ideas for possible niches there are many places to go for ideas.

Take a trip to your local library and browse the books. Go to the non-fiction section and notice how the books are broken down into categories on the shelves. All the computer books are together, all the business books are together. They are even further broken down into business start up, business funding, business marketing, etc. As you browse through the books, notice the topics you are drawn to, those are good potential niches.

You could also visit a store which has a large magazine selection. You'll notice magazines are written to niche audiences. Home magazines are written to southern home owners, or owners of barn homes, or to those who like DIY projects at their home. They are also written to those who like the cottage look, or those who like victorian style, or those who prefer contemporary style. Magazine niches also make good blog niches.

Another thing to think about as you are finding your niche is that a niche is solving a problem.

For example, for the above magazine readers the problems might include "How do I decorate with cottage decor?", or "How do I do that DIY project?". The problem a person might need solved could be as simple as "What is the next knitting project I'm going to knit?" (and you'll provide the answer), or "What can I cook with all this zucchini from my garden?" (and you, the expert gardener, will provide the recipes). 

Another way to explore possible niches is to visit www.amazon.com and browse through the categories. Read book reviews. If a book topic resonates with you, explore what other subjects that author has written on, maybe they have a niche they write for. 

Take a look at article websites such as ezinearticles.com. You will see that their categories are further broken down into subcategories. These subcategories are all possible niches for your website or blog. 

Things to consider as you choose your niche

There are a few things you should consider as you choose your niche audience for your blog. One thing you must take into consideration is the answer to the question which we asked you in the first post in this series "Why Do You Want To Blog?" If your answer to this question was that you are blogging for a hobby or for personal enjoyment then your niche won't matter a whole lot. However, if you are blogging for profit, or to grow a business or ministry, or even if you are blogging for a hobby but would very much like to grow a following then choosing a niche is important. 

  • If you are blogging in hopes of making any money from your blog, you will need to choose a niche which can be profitable and for which you can produce ongoing content. Explore how much demand there is for your topic, then explore how much competition you'll have.
  • Can you produce amazing content on the subject? As of 2013 there were 152 million blogs on the internet. If you want to be noticed you are going to have to put out some pretty amazing content. Competition can be fierce, but it can also be a good thing if we allow it to push us on to excellence.
  • Are you giving yourself enough flexibility? As I mentioned before, don't narrow down the topic to the point of not being flexible or not providing enough possible content. 
  • Am I going to love this topic forever? Or, is this hobby I'm currently enjoying just a passing phase?

I hope your gears are turning with thoughts of possible niche audiences you can write for. Go visit your library or book store and write down possible ideas. Then once you have chosen a possible niche spend some time brainstorming a list of potential topics you could write on which fall under that niche. If you can brainstorm a decent list of topics, then you may have found your audience. 

To read the other posts in this series:

(part 1 of 10) Why do you want to blog?

(part 2 of 10) Which Platform Should You Choose? 

Happy Blogging!

To receive regular tips and downloads to help you in your blogging journey, sign up below. 

In addition, when you submit the form below, you will receive a password to access our member area where you will find helpful resources. 

Why You Need a Blog Post Planner

Why You Need a Blog Post Planner

If you have not been using a blog post planner, boy are you missing out.

But a blog post planner is only a part of a larger system. With just the planner the same thing happens. You sit at your desk, you take out your blog post planner, you begin to plan a blog post aaannd…nothing. You are blank. So, I want to show you how I use a blog post planner.

Read More

Why We Moved from Wordpress to Squarespace

NOTE:  I am not being paid by Squarespace or Wordpress for this post. 

Moving to Squarespace

(UPDATE March 2018: As I expected when I wrote this post, I received some nasty emails from Wordpress diehards. Seriously people? I clearly state in this blog post that Wordpress is a good platform, I clearly state that it is the RIGHT choice for some people, just not for me and maybe not for others. Why people have a need to verbally thrash someone who has a difference of opinion I will never understand. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another...and that's ok folks! Hey, if you love Wordpress, you can still come over for tea.)

There have been lots of exciting things going on behind the scenes here at Faithful Bloggers. We've been planning and prepping but in addition to all that, we've been super busy with moving. By moving, I don't mean an actual physical move, I'm talking about a move from one web platform to another. We moved from Wordpress to Squarespace. I have moved (physically) a great big number of times and although a physical move has it's challenges, a web platform move has it's own unique set of challenges, none of which are any fun at all.  As you all have read, Faithful Bloggers changed ownership. At the time of purchase, Faithful Bloggers, Faithful Devotions, and The Faithful Bloggers Directory were all on Wordpress. I wanted to make that work, really I did. But I just couldn't. I know I'm probably about to get a bunch of you upset with me, but before all you Wordpress diehards get all hot under the collar, hear me out and read this entire post, because I really do believe Wordpress has a place, just not for me. And I think it may possibly not be the best choice for many other people, depending upon what they are looking for. You also should know, this was not my first experience with Wordpress, I've been there before. 

I know there are about a bazillion websites on Wordpress, I know it's a great platform, but it is not the only platform, and it's not the platform for me. I believe it really depends on what you are looking for whether Wordpress is the place for you to call home. Below is a run down of the pros and cons of the two platforms, so if you are just starting out, you'll be able to make an informed decision. And if you are dealing with any frustrations with either platform, you'll have an idea of what the other offers. Please note: Any time I mention Wordpress, I'm talking about a self hosted wordpress site. 

So why did I move?

Basically it boils down to the fact that I want to write, blog, and create great products, not work on a website. Squarespace allows me the luxury of doing just that. Let me explain further. Here's a few of the reasons I moved:

  • Squarespace has an incredibly clean, clutter free interface. It's also easy to use. Like any sort of software it does have a learning curve, but it's click and drag format is generally user friendly. Also, if you are just starting out, you should know that there will be a learning curve on either platform, but I feel it's fair say, you will have a longer learning curve on Wordpress. 

  • Live Chat!  I love this about Squarespace. When I have questions, I can just hop on live chat and get assistance immediately. Granted, their live chat is only available during daytime hours (eastern time zone), so you 3:00a.m. bloggers may not find this a benefit (unless of course you're a 3:00 a.m. blogger around the world from the eastern time zone). 
  • Domain, Design, and Hosting all in one location. I cannot say the transfer of the domains to Squarespace or the transfer of the entire site to Squarespace was the easiest thing I have ever undertaken (it isn't even in the top 10 easiest things). In all honesty, I didn't have to move the domains to Squarespace, that was a choice I made to have everything in one place, taken care of by one group of people. I know, Wordpress is free, but hosting is not and I'm paying similiar for Squarespace as I was for self hosting with Wordpress. The other thing that is not free (if you are considering Wordpress) is if you need someone to fix code or anything else for you. With Squarespace you are a paying customer, so unless you've monkeyed with the code on your site, they are there for you. If your Wordpress experience has been to email on a regular basis with your hosting company to get things fixed, you'll probably love Squarespace. I tried to recall if there had ever been a time when I had to email Squarespace, and although I can't say for sure, I don't remember any. I have used their live chat a few times. 
  • I HATE CODE.  I mean, I REALLY hate it!  Some people love it, some people tolerate it, some people hate it, I'm definitely in the third group. I have no business playing around with the inner workings of my website, nor do I want to. With Squarespace I don't have to deal with code. There are times I may have to copy and paste a portion of generated code into a code block but other than that, no code. This does not mean that those people who love code, can't access coding on Squarespace. If you are of the "I Love Code" camp, you can code to your hearts content on Squarespace. Here however is where I think Wordpress has a place. If you are the type of person who absolutely has to have the ability to manage every detail of your website, and you love that stuff, Wordpress will probably feel like home. But if what you are looking to do is write and blog and not have to deal with code hardly at all, you might want to consider Squarespace. 
  •  No 3rd Party Plug-Ins. There are about 5 million plug-ins (I might be exaggerating just a little) available on Wordpress. They are used to get your site to do just about anything you can imagine, there are probably plug-ins to get your site to do your laundry for you. Having so many options has it's positives and negatives. On the one hand, you have options. Options are good. Except at times, I found the options overwhelming. On the other hand, Wordpress is an open platform and anyone can author a plugin and make it available on Wordpress, this too is good and bad. Once your Wordpress site is up, you are going to load lots of plugins on your website, because you need them to do things like add forms to your site and numerous other tasks. These plugins are all authored by different people and they all need to be updated. If you overlook updating them, this is where issues occur. This is the open door hackers use to hack Wordpress sites. When I purchased Faithful Bloggers, it had been hacked and neither myself nor the prior owner, Tishia, were even aware of the hack till I started poking around in it. 
  • To some people, these next two things might seem nitpicky, but I'm creative and very visual so these were big for me. There were a few things design-wise in Wordpress that drove me batty. The first is the themes. Even though there are thousands of them, you read the description and it says "custom color", but then you load the theme and begin the preview and by "custom", they meant you can choose from, blue, red, pink or green (or some other limited selection depending upon the theme), that's not "custom". Granted, there are some which offer true "custom color" but why on earth do I have to go through the process of loading them and begin the preview process in order to know that for sure. The other design thing that drove me nuts is when I was choosing a font in the theme, which you can't do in all themes, the drop down menu just had the names of the fonts, all written in the same font, not in their own font. So I had to actually try the font in order to see what it looked like. I know there are premium themes which you can buy on Wordpress and they probably offer more flexibility, but it seems to me that out of thousands of choices, there should be a couple that don't drive me nuts. Wordpress does offer tremendous flexibility, if you know code or are willing to pay someone to make the changes you are wanting. Squarespace uses templates as well, and there are many less templates to choose from, however, I have found they are much more customizable for someone who doesn't want to deal with code. The font on any part of my website can be any font I want it to be and the color is truly customizable. I need to have the capabilities to do these things myself, to do them quickly and efficiently, and without having to play with code, Squarespace offers me that.
  • It's Just Easier. Less monkeying around with back end stuff frees up more time for writing and blogging.  As I said before, I'm looking to write and blog, not play with my website. When you write a post on Squarespace and you need to insert anything, a form, code, a calendar, a map or a whole slew of other options, all you do is click to add it right there in the text. You don't have to go to a plugin to get your form. See this videofor more details.
  • I have another site on Squarespace which I have had with them for 7 Years. In that time, I have never had my site go down, and I've never had an issue with messed up code. It's also never been hacked. I know there are first times for everything and I may just have been fortunate but it's a pretty good track record.

A couple other things you might want to know about Squarespace.

  • Your website doesn't have to be a blog. This wasn't important for me for the Faithful Bloggers website but it is for the other business my family owns, and it might be for one of my readers so I'm including it. On Squarespace your website can just be a website. Our family business website does include a blog but it has a non blog front page as well as many other pages. If you'd like to check it out visit www.homecareNHME.com.  You may notice it has a similar layout to the new Faithful Bloggers site, you should know this was intentional, not required, there are plenty of other templates. I used the same template for simplicity for myself. I felt that because the sites were so unrelated industry-wise, no one was going to say "boy your site has a similar layout to the Faithful Bloggers site", (except, all of you now). I also could have made that same template look very different. One other thing you may find useful to know is that on Squarespace you can have more than one blog on your website. If you want to see why anyone would want or need that, take a look at this very website. The main Faithful Bloggers website is set up as a blog, but if you click on the "Directory", that is also set up as a blog. Then you can click on "devotions" and that is set up as a blog as well. 3 blogs, all on one website.  
  • Just because I discuss the ease and simplicity of Squarespace, does not mean that a Squarespace website can't have all the bells and whistles. You can build a very dynamic and professional site on Squarespace (again, see the website I mentioned in the prior point, it has pretty scrolling images on the front page).  

A few things about actually making the move.

  1. I mentioned earlier that the move was not easy,  but don't let that scare you. If you have a straight forward blog with minimal things which would make a move challenging such as signup forms, etc., then if you decide to move to Squarespace it will be relatively easy and straight forward. The things on the Faithful Bloggers site which made it difficult were things like the forms, and the directory and a few other challenges like that.  

  2. If you decide to transfer your domain to Squarespace (which is not required), you should know the  transfer can take from 1-15 days, my tranfer took 6 days (I'm not very good at waiting).
  3. If you have a mailing list, Mailchimp integrates better with Squarespace than Aweber or other email services. You can use the other services with Squarespace but Squarespace is set up so you can automatically connect to Mailchimp when you load a form. I moved  the entire mailing list from AWeber to Mailchimp which made the move more challenging. UPDATE March 2018:  I moved my email platform to Convertkit.

In summary:

If you are the code loving, website fidgeting type I would recommend Worpress for your platform. To go along with Worpress I would recommend MomWebs.com for hosting (their tech support is very quick to respond). I also recommend AWeber  or Convertkit for your mailing list. 

However, if you are the, "I just want to write and blog and not monkey with the backend" type, I recommend Squarespace, and for your mailing list, I recommend Mailchimp or Convertkit.

Yes, You Can Blog! How To Start Yours Today

I know a few people who have never heard of blogs.  It amazes me, yet I remember when I first discovered the world of blogging.  I found a new world.

I began reading a few blogs, then more blogs, then more blogs.  Then, I decided to give blogging a try for myself.

You may be asking, 'Can I blog?'

YES, YOU CAN BLOG!

There are many reasons to start a blog:

  • Journal your progress in your goals.  Your goals may be spiritual, personal, or physical.  I am blogging about my weight loss, or as I like to call it, Healthier Habits on my personal blog.
  • Journal your family memories and/or photos.
  • Share your hobbies or expertise with others, That knowledge you possess is bound to benefit another person out there, whether it be blogging about your tried-and-true recipes, crafts, hobbies or made-for-sale items.
  • Share your love of books. I love to read.  I enjoy telling others about books that I believe will encourage or benefit them in some way.  I have several book reviews listed on my personal blog.
  • Share your love for animals. Show off your pets pics and funny stories!
  • Express your passion, whatever it may be!

I started out with the intention of sharing my goals, and it has blossomed into more than that!  I blog about personal goals, books I love, freebies and giveaways that I have entered or am hosting via my blog.

Happy Blogging!

~Tami