This post is Part 3 of a five-part series on creating a successful blog:
Successful Blogging for Beginners Introduction
Part 1: Discovery – What to Do Before Starting Your Blog
Part 2: Education – What to Learn While Creating Your Blog
Part 3: Creation – You’re here!
Part 4: Launch – How to Launch Your Blog
Part 5: Growth – How to Grow Your Blog
Sign up for the free e-Course and receive all 5 sections in a completable course format. Track your progress as you learn!
Creation: What to Do to Create Your Blog
It’s here! The time to actually start building your blog into its final form. In the Creation phase, you’re going to be doing all sorts of fun things, like branding, theming, and finally, writing some posts. This is going to be the meatiest post of this series, so I hope you’re ready!
This blog plan is created with having a specific launch period in mind, but you could just have your blog open while you’re setting up. I’ve done it both ways before.
Having a launch period made sense for this blog since it was instructional and needed a bit of content in place first (and maybe I really should have pushed my launch back another month but what’s done is done). I didn’t do a launch for my personal blog, which didn’t really require a connected flow of posts.
It’s up to you to decide. If you don’t want to do a launch, just skip the “coming soon” and “launch” stuff.
Create your branding
Branding is your colors, your logos, the style of your graphics. When you’re first starting out, this might change a LOT. Experiment with different styles until you find something you like.
If you’re not graphic design inclined, you can try finding gigs on Fiverr or a freelance design service, find other bloggers who offer design services. If you can’t pay at first, you can try your hand at using Canva, a popular service that lets you easily create your own graphics.
You’re probably going to want to look up Canva anyway, because you’re going to need something to make graphics for Pinterest and your social media pages, as well as for your blog posts. There are also other services that offer a similar experience. You can find these in the Graphic Creation section of my resources page.
Choose or build a theme
There are soooo many themes out there! Picking just one will be difficult. Find something that fits well with your branding or that you can edit to fit. You may even want to build your own if you’re good with web design. You can also hire someone to create a design for you.
Check out themes on Creative Market* and Theme Forest* or from some other bloggers like Kotryna Bass Design and Beautiful Dawn Designs*. You can also find themes right from the WordPress dashboard. Just select “Themes” from the Appearance menu and click the “Add Theme” button.
Start writing posts
Probably the most exciting part about blogging: writing your posts! Your blog posts should contain a few things: a clear beginning, middle and end; at least 1 image (besides your featured image); and a call to action (CTA); and an invite to join your mailing list. Try to create at least one post in each one of your categories.
Just like in high school, you need an introduction, body, and conclusion. Tell your readers what you’re going to talk about (introduction), say what you need to say (body), and summarize or otherwise make your post sound finished (conclusion).
Unlike in high school, you don’t need to be super formal with your writing. In fact, it’s much better if you’re not. Type things out as if you were speaking. Blogs are a much easier read if they’re conversational and fun. Of course, you want to keep your content in mind. Don’t use a lighthearted tone if it doesn’t fit your focus.
Use images throughout your posts to break up long sections of text. At least one of your images should also be Pinterest friendly. if you only include one image in your post, make sure it’s optimized for Pinterest. You also want to remember that images need to be SEOed as well.
Do not use images from Google Images or any other random image search. Unless you’re able to trace the image back to the source and verify that usage rights are available for everyone, it’s illegal to post these images on your blog.
Only use your own photos, photos that you have purchased the rights to use or free public domain stock images. You can usually tell if an image is a free public domain image because it’s released with a Creative Commons Zero, or “CC0”, license.
You can find absolutely free images to use on your blog in a ton of places, but here are a few places I have on my list.
Free stock photos for your blog
There are more out there. You just have to use the magic word to find them: CC0.
Calls to Action
In some cases, your CTA is going to be the email list invite, either through offering a lead magnet (we’ll get to that later) or just straight up asking them to subscribe.
Some other examples of CTAs include asking readers to share your post, follow your social media accounts, or check out a product or service you mentioned in the post. You can also ask a question that they should answer in the comments.
Don’t forget about SEO!
If you did your homework before, you’ve probably heard about a WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO. This plugin will help you write posts that search engines love. There’s a lot more to SEO than just following the guidelines of a plugin, but it can help you remember to do certain things as you write.
The Yoast SEO plugin hard at work on this post.
Also, be careful when you’re using keywords in your posts. It’s a bad idea to keep repeating the keyword over and over again. Use it a few times in your post, and make sure it sounds natural.
You should have your keyword or some variation of your keyword in the
- meta title (which doesn’t have to be the same as your post title),
- meta description,
- first paragraph of your post,
- in a subheading, and
- in the alt tags of your images.
If you pay attention to your SEO plugin, it will guide you in creating all of these things. In fact, the Yoast website has a great guide on the basic SEO concepts tracked by their plugin.
Create a Schedule
Now that you’ve got a bit of a taste of writing posts for your blog, it’s time to create a schedule. How do you feel about writing? How often do you feel like you can create a good post? Once a week? Every day? 3 times a week?
Creating a blog schedule is important because you need to post consistently to keep your website fresh. This doesn’t mean you have to be stressing yourself out trying to create posts every day. I have a friend who rarely posts on her blog, but keeps her Instagram updated.
What type of influencer will you be? If you like to post photos with short descriptions, having an Instagram supplemented by your blog might be a good idea. Why have a blog at all? To collect those email subscribers and have an online presence that is controlled by you.
I’m getting a little bit off topic here so let’s get back to the point: you need to decide how much you can handle. It’s perfectly acceptable to post once every one or two weeks.
I personally have plans to post no more than twice a week once I finish posting all the important stuff I need to have up. This strategy is good if you have the time, but if you don’t, don’t stress. Just do what you can and understand that in time, you’ll build up more momentum.
Remember this one thing: posting every day doesn’t bring you more traffic. Promoting your posts does. Spend 70-80% of your time promoting, and use the rest of the time for posting.
Plan your posts ahead of time to help you create efficiently. Look into creating an editorial calendar. This is basically a calendar plan for what you’re going to post and when. This could be really detailed with all the tasks you need to do to create your posts, or it could simply be reminders of when posts should be finished and published.
You should also write your posts in advance. This way if you’re unable to work on your blog for some unforeseen reason, you don’t have to miss a week of posting. Just remember to play catch up when you can!
Trello*, WorkFlowly*, and CoSchedule* are planning, outlining, and scheduling (respectively) software that I use and recommend. Asana is also a popular task management choice with bloggers who work in teams. I’m also really having fun exploring a new tool I found recently called DropTask.
If CoSchedule is out of your budget, you can try Nelio Content or WP Editorial Calendar. Check your WordPress plugin directory!
Set up social media profiles
Oh god, MORE STUFF TO SET UP? Yes, yes, yes. We’re not done yet! Now you need to set up social media pages. As I mentioned before, you probably only want to actually build up a couple at a time, but you might choose to go ahead and create a bunch of profiles all at once. Just to get it over with if anything.
There are four profiles most bloggers tend to keep; Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I suggest you jump straight into Pinterest, due to the fact that if done right, it will get you tons of traffic. The others are up to you and what’s best for your niche.
Even if you don’t create a Facebook page or group for your blog right away, Facebook is one of the most powerful tools available to you. It’s so easy to find people with similar interests thanks to groups. That makes it a great place to connect with your target audience as well as other bloggers. There are tons of groups dedicated to bloggers that can help you with questions, share tips, and help you promote your posts and other social media outlets.
If you join any of these, be sure to follow me as well! You’ll be able to tell, I’m more active in some places than others lol. You can find me here:
Create a lead magnet
What is a lead magnet? It’s a
bribe gift you give people to encourage them to sign up for your email list. Whatever you create should be something that will benefit your readers. It should be something that sounds so good, they can’t pass it up.
Think about that list of problems and issues you made. What is the most common one? How can you help those people? Create a guide, checklist, planner, or ebook that you can give away that will help people solve this problem. Those are only a few suggestions of things you can make. Make something that makes sense for your own niche.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, take a look at other bloggers who are writing things similar to you. What are they giving out? You might even mail them and ask if they have any suggestions.
Go ahead and sign up for some email lists if you need to. Take note of how other’s lead magnets made and think about what you can do to improve on their idea. Check their comments to see if anyone is talking about the freebie.
Okay, I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself but I really want to stress this point! Email is important. Once people are on your list, don’t forget to actually email them.
So many bloggers collect emails but then are too afraid to email people. They either aren’t sure what to send, or they’re afraid that people will unsubscribe. Face your fears and just email your list. People are there for a reason. They signed up, so they’re expecting to hear from you.
If you’re skeptical, try just emailing once a week. Depending on your goals for your blog, you might end up emailing certain segments of your list a lot. Might as well get used to it now. Here are some ideas if you’re not sure what to send to your subscribers, and find out why unsubscribers are not as bad as you think.
While you’re still building your blog and launching you might not be emailing you list much, but this is still a great time to ask what people want to know. Add a note to your confirmation email or add an automated email to be sent out to every subscriber after they confirm that asks them what they want to know. Include them in your creation process and let them know that you’re doing so. This will go a long way with building a positive relationship.
Create a Coming Soon page
Creating a coming soon page for your blog is a must if you’re going a blog launch. This is a landing page that will allow you to collect email addresses and will link to your social media accounts. This gives you a way to connect with anyone who ends up on your page before your blog is actually ready. They’ll be able to sign up for updates and follow you on social media.
One your blog is live, you can remind them that you exist through an email broadcast. Hopefully, they’ll still be interested and you’ll have traffic to your blog almost immediately.
Plugins can help
With WordPress, you can create a coming soon page either through a theme or with a plugin. When launching my blog, I used a free plugin called Easy Maintenance. This plugin allowed me to design my own coming soon page with the email collecting form and social media buttons that I needed.
I use the Elementor Page Builder to design my pages. This free page builder is so good that once they did finally release their pro version, I had to buy it. If you can’t afford the purchase right away, it’s still a great plugin. Many of the pro features have 3rd party versions that were released before Elementor Pro was even released so you won’t miss out on too much.
If you’re not interested in spending a lot of time working on your own coming soon page design, there are a lot of other plugins out there that come with built-in designs. Just do a search in the WordPress plugin directory and find one that fits your needs.
Next week, I’ll discuss how to launch your blog. During your launch, you’ll start promoting your coming soon page and email list.
Don’t forget that you can sign up for the free e-Course and receive all 5 sections right now. Otherwise, I’ll see you next week!