4. Planning Your Blog
The second part of your blog planning includes defining the basic details about your blog, as well as the creation of a blogging strategy. With this, you will have a comprehensive list of everything you need to start a blog.
Some bloggers find this to be quite an easy decision. They use their name, and that is it. Using a personal name as a blog name is definitely one choice you should consider, especially if you want to promote yourself and build a personal brand. The great thing is that it (probably) is unique and recognizable.
Alternatively, try brainstorming some ideas to come up with an ideal blog name. Start making a list of words as you respond the following questions:
- What is your blog about?
- Do you know any synonyms for these words?
- Are there any other words relevant to the topic?
- What are the names of your competitors (you might want to avoid these terms)?
- Start combining the words in phrases
- Use other tenses or word forms in the phrases
- Take a look at the list and think what would be a nice name (to be used as a domain name as well, to be used on social media, to be a part of a logo, etc.)
When you think about your blog name, you should not focus on this phrase only. Think beyond and imagine how this name would be implemented in your entire blogging strategy. Is it a name you will love using five years from now? Is it professional enough in case you decide to turn your blog into a business?
Domain, or domain name, is a specific part of URL used to identify particular web pages. It is a general recommendation that your domain matches your blog name. It is easier for people to memorize the URL and it is better for SEO.
Once you have the blog name, use a tool like this one to check if the domain name is available. In case the domain is not available, you will see alternatives that might give you some ideas to use a different domain or perhaps change the blog name altogether.
Each domain has an extension. The URL ends with a dot (after the website/blog name) and a domain extension. The most common extensions are:
- Generic extensions – .com, .net, .org
- Sponsored extensions – .edu, .gov
- Country code – .it, .dk, .de, .uk
- Custom domain extensions – .life, .blog, .club, .site
While choosing the name and domain, it is helpful to check if that name is available on other platforms as well. It is most likely that you will have a Facebook page, Twitter profile, or other social media profiles. Use the namechecker tool to check the availability of your blog name on different platforms.
Logo and graphics
The next step involves a bit of creative work. Once you have a blog name, you need to come up with the visual content to present your blog. These are elements featured in one of these places (or all of them):
- Blog header
- Blog sidebar
- Social media
- Email templates
- Documents and other original materials
- Paid ads
One option is to design these graphics yourself. You will start with a logo and images for social networks. Currently, social network profiles require the following image dimensions:
- Facebook – Cover image: 828 x 315, profile image: ≥180 x 180
- Twitter – Header image: 1500 x 500, profile image: 400 x 400
- Instagram – Profile image: 110 x 110, image thumbnail: 161 x 161
- LinkedIn – Profile image: 400 x 400, cover image: 1536 x 768
- Tumblr – Profile image: 128 x 128
- Google+ – Profile image: 250 x 250, cover image: 1080 x 608
Many tools, such as Canva, Pablo, Photoshop, can be used for creating these visual materials. Alternatively, you can hire a designer to create these for you.
In both cases, it is essential to think about visual content that will represent your blog in the best way. It should be something relevant to the blog name. Have in mind that these images help you create your online identity. Online users will soon start recognizing your logo and relating it to your online presence.
Once you have the blog name and the visual materials, you can go on to create social media profiles. As you know, there are so many different social networks online. Some of them are more popular than the others. Some are more suitable for certain blogs, while others might not provide enough exposure.
There is no rule that states which social network profiles you need to have. Instead, think about this:
Create profiles where the blog name is available
Even if you do not plan on using a particular social network, create profiles just to make sure you register your blog name. A particular network might grow in the future, or you might find new strategies to explore it. Finally, you prevent someone else from grabbing your blog name on that network.
Choose a couple of networks you want to be active on
Obviously, you cannot be active on all social networks. Not only is it time-consuming, but chances are that it is probably not worth the effort. Instead, choose a couple of the most popular networks. Due to their popularity, it is believed that they will bring most exposure for your blog.
Monitor the statistics to find out about the performance
As you start blogging, you will redefine your social media strategy and discover if you need to change your focus when it comes to social networks. Some social networks might not bring you any benefits, which is why you could skip posting on those.
Have in mind that being active on social networks requires time from your part. Besides posting content, you will also need to respond to feedback, monitor the statistics, etc. Always make sure that social network you use actively is really worth the effort and that you are productively spending your time.
The points listed above make up the essential elements you will need to start a blog. Once you have all of that, it is time to think about what you want to do with your blog and how you want your blog to grow. Having a blogging strategy helps you plan everything and be prepared for the challenges that will occur along the way. It will also enable you to stay organized and have an approach that is always in accordance with your original vision.
Goals represent the activities you want to achieve with blogging. There can be a lot of different blogs, depending on the type of blog and content published on it. To help you keep things organized, use the following list to define your vision, as well as long-term and short-term goals you want to realize:
- What is the purpose of your blog? (e.g., help others, educate, share what you know, etc.)
- What do you want to achieve in one/two/five years? (e.g., turn your blog into a business, keep blogging as a hobby, hire an assistant, etc.)
- What are your monthly goals for the current year? (e.g., build your mailing list, generate [number] visits, publish [number] articles, collaborate with another blogger, etc.)
By answering these and similar questions, you actually get the exact goals you want to achieve. Always try to be realistic about what you want to achieve and how long do you think it will take you.
Now it is time to focus on content planning. First, you have one goal you want to set up related to content planning as well. How often do you want to post on your blog?
Obviously, the decision is based on the amount of time you have (if you are the only blog author). Make sure you create a plan that you find comfortable. You want to make sure you provide extraordinary content, not a series of articles written in a rush just to keep up with the busy calendar.
The frequency of posting might increase or decrease over the course of time. You might get busier on other projects. On the other hand, you might expand your team, and you get other bloggers to write for your blog, which will then help you increase the frequency.
Either way, try planning this as a reference for content calendar and the evolution of your blog productivity.
Create content calendar
Content calendar represents the schedule you want to fulfill during a certain period. It is recommended to create this calendar monthly. Besides the dates for publishing, the content calendar can also contain the topic titles. The advantage of planning your topics in advance is that you get a full picture of content you will publish on your blog and how that content contributes to the realization of your global goals.
Determine content types
It is only natural to explore different content types. However, in the beginning, you might want to choose which ones to focus on. You also want to make sure you diversify content. So one week you publish a list, one week there might be an interview, etc.
Another relevant aspect of blog planning is defining the target group. Think about the people you want to reach. In your opinion, who will read your blog? Who will find it relevant and interesting?
Have in mind that you cannot aim to satisfy all of the online readers. It is impossible to create content that will appeal to all age groups, people from different regions, etc. Your target group might be more or less broad, but it certainly is a specific group of people who have something in common.
Usually, you will define the target group by some of these criteria:
Out of all these criteria, the behavior is the most diverse criteria, with lots of options to narrow down your target group. The behavior of the online users can be an indicator that they might be interested in your blog and the content you will be sharing. Here are some typical behaviors you can consider when defining the target group:
- Visiting a particular website/blog/page
- Prior purchases
- Expressing interest in a topic/service/product
- Having a hobby/habit, etc.
With this process, you aim to define the exact online users you want to reach. This will make your blogging strategy more focused on the people you are trying to reach. Your content will be adapted for them. Your online presentation will be the one they can relate to.
Although you do not have any content to promote yet, it is useful to think about promotion tactics in advance. These tactics include the channels you want to use to promote your blog content. Some of those are:
- Social networks
- Email marketing
- Paid ads
- Link building
Thinking about these in advance will help you focus on the things you will need to prepare. For example, you will need to work on building a mailing list to be able to use email marketing to promote your content. In case you plan on using paid ads, you will have to plan a budget for this promotion.
More promotional tactics and accurate explanations on how to use them are thoroughly explained in one of the following chapters.
Blog monetization includes different strategies to earn money from your blog. When first starting a blog, you might not want to monetize it, but this might be a plan you will develop in the future. You can also start implementing monetization tactics early on. Either way, it is helpful to know that about different ways you can earn money from your blog.
Check out this topic in details, in one of the following chapters.
Even though you cannot predict everything, nor can you know in advance where your blogging will take you, it is helpful if you have some long-term plans in mind regarding your professional career and how blogging can contribute to it.
When making plans for your blog, try to be as specific as possible. Avoid generalizations and general goals. Having goals that you can actually turn into doable actions is what makes your planning successful, which eventually leads to the accomplishments of your goals.