You want to become a fellow blogger! Yay! Please do send me a link to your website when you are all done! Excited to see what you guys are working on. In this post, I will explain 5 things you must consider when creating a blog, and why.
With millions of blogs on the world wide web, it is tough to stand out in the crowd. Recent technologies have made it very easy to set up a blog. However, taking off and sending your blog into space is difficult. As Seth Godin says, you need to be a purple cow.
The early stages of creating a blog are critical when it comes to future success. In today’s crowded environment, you need to do many things right, you need to put in a lot of work, and you need to be consistent. In short, you need to have an Athletic Digital Marketingapproach.
Just because you can launch a blog in a few hours, doesn’t mean you should. You only have one chance to make a first impression. I can’t stress enough that people should put in the time to get every aspect right. A low quality, slow blog full of ads is everyone's nightmare! It is the small things that make the big things happen. Think of the details that will make you stand out.
The first thing you should consider when creating a blog is hosting. The decision you make here will be critical for your success. There are many different providers out there and when I launched Markletic, I spent hours upon hours of doing research. I went to various blogs, trusted sources, asked people in my network and went to online communities such as Reddit.
There are 4 hosting options that you could consider.
- Shared hosting;
- Virtual Private Servers (VPS) hosting;
- Dedicated hosting;
- Cloud hosting.
In my post How to Select your WordPress Blog Hosting Provider, I’ve explained the differences between the 4 options in straightforward language. I highly recommend reading that post when you are evaluating blog hosting options and providers.
For Markletic I’ve chosen to use cloud hosting. Cloud hosting is often called the future of web hosting due to various reasons. Cloud hosting is affordable, secure, reliable and scalable. Another advantage of cloud hosting is that it is lightning-fast. This is especially important when you are thinking about growth hacking.
Page loading speed is critical for SEO. Who likes a slow website? No-one right?! We don’t like slow websites, but Google also doesn’t like slow websites. Their AMP initiative clearly emphasizes this.
2. Content Management System
The second thing to consider is your Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is a digital software that you use to create and manage digital assets, such as your blog posts. For blogging, there are three main options:
There are many things to consider when choosing a CMS. Do you want flexibility? Do you want ease of use? Are you an experienced developer or a hobbyist? What about security and integrations? Is there support and a community?
In a future post, I will describe the differences between the three main content management systems for blogging.
As this post is about blogging, I will advise you to pick WordPress for three reasons:
- The software is free and open-source;
- It is easy to learn and supported by a massive community. Talking about millions of developers and companies willing to help!
- Easy to add functionality and themes. Everyone can use it.
3. Website Layout
The third thing to consider when creating a blog is website layout and design. You only get one chance to make a first impression. The last thing you want is that you have worked extremely hard to create content and that people won’t read it because the user experience is terrible.
I have spent many hours thinking about how I want Markletic to look like. The most important question I asked myself was: “what is the ultimate goal of my website?”. This question sounds so simple but often is hard to answer. I want my readers to keep coming back to my website because they love my content and they also love the user experience. User experience was the most important thing for me. I want my readers to have the best experience possible. Without you, this blog doesn’t make sense to have.
Personally, a hard decision was whether to use a sidebar. I believe I was flying to Dublin when I was drafting my website layout. I saw so many websites with sidebars, I assumed it was good to have! See the first layout draft of Markletic below, it included the sidebar.
I bet you were looking for the sidebar on this website just now! Haha. Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy. I decided to not use a sidebar. Why? Because I want people to focus on my content without any distractions. I want to give them the best reading experience possible.
My advice is to always keep the user experience in mind with everything you do. You want your readers to be happy. Think about your ultimate goal and make decisions based on that. I won’t say names, but visit certain news websites and you’ll see they are bloated with ads. No thanks!
More about this topic in a future post.
4. House Style
The fourth thing to consider when creating a blog is your house style. Your house style says everything about your website and it should be in line with your overall messaging. If your blog is about kitties, it doesn’t make sense to use hardcore fonts.
Branding is everything. Branding is what people think about when they think about your website. It is what they first see, it is an experience and it should be at the core of your blog development.
If you are just starting, you can start with creating a simple logo. Make sure that your logo reflects your overall branding strategy. As an example, I want Markletic to be elegant but still pack a punch at times when it is required. I want people to trust Markletic as a source of reliable information. I want people to feel at home and a place away from all the corporate jargon. That is why I have chosen for an elegant font and trustworthy and tranquil branding colors. But I also included red to deliver the punch.
I am using Google Fonts for this website. I’ve chosen to use Montserrat for headings and my logo and Open Sans for the body of my blog. A great feature that I recommend using, is popular font pairing. This is a feature on Google Fonts that checks the font combinations that websites worldwide use. In the link above, you will see that I picked Montserrat as the font. If you scroll down a bit, you will see that Open Sans is one of the popular font pairings that people are using. Below a screenshot.
Each font on Google Fonts also has a description and why and by who it was created. You can use this information to determine if that font is right for your branding strategy.
The description of Open Sans:
“Open Sans is a humanist sans serif typeface designed by Steve Matteson, Type Director of Ascender Corp. This version contains the complete 897 character set, which includes the standard ISO Latin 1, Latin CE, Greek and Cyrillic character sets. Open Sans was designed with an upright stress, open forms and a neutral, yet friendly appearance. It was optimized for print, web, and mobile interfaces, and has excellent legibility characteristics in its letterforms.”
I felt that this description fitted the Markletic branding strategy perfectly due to its friendly appearance, openness, and optimization for mobile interfaces.
Oh boy… Colors… This took me a long time to figure out. Colors are an integral part of your branding strategy. Every person has certain associations to colors. Red usually conveys a sense of urgency, whereas green conveys a tranquility. This is something you have to take into consideration when picking your brand colors.
My advice is to sit down and think about what feeling you want people to have when they visit your website. For example, many blogs about gyms use the color red. They use this color to motivate people to work out and have a certain aggression and motivation.
My next tip is to keep it simple. Don’t go over the top and stick to a few colors. Use colors to make your call-to-action (CTA) stand out from the rest of your content. Colors are a great tool to place emphasis on something. However, if you use all the colors in the color wheel, people don’t know where to look. With colors, you can guide people and have them look where you want them to look.
The fifth thing to consider when creating a blog is messaging. Messaging and branding are how people are going to connect to you. Messaging is an extension of branding, but it deserves a section of its own.
With so many blogs out there, so many perfect designs, the only real way you will stand out from the crowd is through messaging. Of course, all other factors play a critical role as well. As you can remember, with Athletic Digital Marketing, you need to do everything right to be successful. However, once you have done everything right and people are on your site, messaging is what will create the connection between your blog and your readers.
You need to create a voice for your blog. More importantly, you need to be consistent with it. Try to be personal. With all the corporate language circulating the web, be personal. People connect with people. Especially as a blogger, your most significant advantage is the ability to be personal. When you’ve created a personal connection with your readers, come back to my blog and thank me! Haha. You’ll see the advantages straight away.
That’s it for now folks. These 5 things you must consider when creating a blog. Remember, with Athletic Digital Marketing, consistency, hard work, and efficiency are your key to success.