So You’re Ready To Blog…

You’ve read my previous post about deciding whether you’re ready to start a blog and the green light has appeared.  Now what?

Step One: Name Your Blog

(If you are a vendor with an existing company name (and you plan to add a blog with your existing company name on your site) move on along to Step 2.)

It sounds quite obvious but naming your blog is not as easy as it sounds.  After brainstorming blog names, you will first need to verify in the US Trademark Database (TESS) that your chosen name is not taken.  You will also want to verify with Whois that the .com of your chosen name is available for purchase.

Step Two: Branding

I cannot stress enough how important branding is to your new blog.  This includes color schemes, fonts, and most importantly your blog logo and header.  You want your blog to be a reflection of you, your company, and your content.

Think of brands you use on an everyday basis.  What makes you choose Tide vs. Cheer?  Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi?  A generic granola bar may taste almost exactly like Quaker, but how likely are you to choose generic?  What makes you lean towards brands that you trust?  It isn’t always taste, usefulness or tradition – in some cases it’s as simple as the overall appearance of the product on the shelf.

The web is the same.  You may have the best content in the world but if your blog/site is poorly designed and difficult to navigate, you’re not going to generate the readership you want.  So when you’re branding, as difficult as it may be, you’re in Field of Dreams land.  “If you build it (and have excellent content, and market yourself, and make sure you SEO your site properly, all of which we’ll discuss soon!), they will come”.

Step Three: Sketch Your Layout

In Photoshop, Powerpoint, or with stick figures (my preferred method), begin sketching out your blog’s look and feel.  Do you want a 2-column or 3-column layout?  How do you want your front page to appear?  Do you want to immediately display excerpts or full-text posts?  What information do you want to display in your sidebar?  What information do you want included in your posts’ headers?  Their footers?  What navigation elements are essential?

This is a daunting task but before any technology is implemented you need to have a vision!  Review as many blogs as possible for elements you want to incorporate into your preliminary design.  This is also the time to work with your graphic designer on any special illustrations for your site, or to gather the best photos of your work to display.

Now that you have a good idea of the look and feel of your new blog, it’s time to get technical!  Next up: a series of posts on Building Your WordPress Blog!

So You Think You Want To Blog?

Bloggers are:

  • IT developers
  • Librarians
  • Intellectual property experts
  • Editors
  • Graphic designers
  • Advertising execs
  • Marketing gurus

As small business owner, entrepreneurs, or hobbyists, if you are considering adding a blog to your business the first question that you should ask yourself is:

“Why am I blogging and what do I hope to gain?”

Blogging offers lots of amazing rewards but comes with a great deal of responsibility, and each time you put a post, a tweet, or an email out into the blogiverse you are representing yourself or your business… that’s a lot of pressure!

Sit down to think for a moment about the blog you hope to create, the audience you want to reach, and the true reason you want to start a blog.  Make a pro/con list.  Consult your business plan.  Read other people’s blogs to get an idea of the audience you may want to reach and the network you want to join.  Then ask yourself…

“Am I qualified to blog about _____?”

Whatever your chosen topic, you should be a subject matter expert in that field.  Your field may be yourself.  It may be your business.  It may be your own taste.  Clearly you are an expert in all of those!  But let’s say you want to start a blog about gardening.  What can you add to the gardening blog industry?  Do you personally garden?  What do you know about growing specific plants, vegetables, or flowers?  Are you prepared to answer questions from readers and advise them on making their garden grow?  If the answer to these questions is no, stop here.  Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and do not start a gardening blog.  But if you’re a bona fide gardening pro, then the last and most important question is…

“Do I have time for this?”

For many of us, blogging is a full-time job (on top of our full-time job).  It’s a huge commitment.  You must take the time to realistically assess whether or not you will have the time and energy to devote to your site.

If you’re a brave soul and are ready to jump in feet first, I’m going to be doing a series of posts to help you get started. I remember vividly how it feels to be brand-new to the blog world and tackle the setup of a website, so we will go back to basics, answer all of your burning questions, and you will be blogging in no time.

If you’re on the fence, well, that’s OK too.  Starting a blog is not a decision to be made lightly, and we’ll have much more discussion on the realities and benefits of blogging, and why it may or may not be for you.

For all of you experienced bloggers reading, what other factors should those who are thinking about creating a blog take under consideration?

Welcome to Edit and Post

I’m beyond excited to unveil Edit and Post to you.  This website has been in the works for so long now that at times I thought it may never materialize, but here it is and here you are.  So welcome!  It’s my hope that Edit and Post will inspire you to think more closely about your blog, about your business, and about your goals.

My name is Ami and many of you may know me through my wedding and living blogsite Elizabeth Anne Designs or via Twitter.  Through Edit and Post, I will be sharing the blogging knowledge that I have gathered over the existence of Elizabeth Anne Designs as well as general business suggestions and tips.

Edit and Post will get quite technical at times, but along the way I’m going to try my best to give clear and concise instructions for those of you looking to code aspects of your site.  So if you don’t know a z-index from an index.html or CSS from RSS, you’re in the right place – my discoveries are your discoveries.  My goal is for Edit and Post to be a forum for discussion so please comment or contact me with any specific questions that you may have or topics you would like to see on Edit and Post.

To help you get to know me better, here is a little bit about my background…

Founded in October 2007, Elizabeth Anne Designs welcomes thousands of visitors daily and is one of the leading wedding blogs in the industry.  Both Elizabeth Anne Designs and Edit and Post are WordPress-based blogsites, for which I do all of the design and coding in addition to editing and publishing each post.

While I may chat about weddings on Elizabeth Anne Designs, my education and experience is in finance and accounting.  After graduating from Converse College with Bachelor’s degrees in both Accounting and Finance, the husband and I made our way to the wonderful city of Chicago.  I attended DePaul University and received an MS in Finance, and rounded out my education with an MBA from the University of Chicago, where I concentrated in Strategic Management and Organizational Behavior.

I’ve worked in the accounting and finance field for over 11 years, always in mid-size, high-growth companies where I can truly get my hands dirty.  If you can’t tell from the way that I run Elizabeth Anne Designs, I love to get into the details and understand all of the complexities and intricacies of a business.  I want to know what makes them tick – where their strengths and weaknesses lie, how they handle their human capital, where efficiencies can be gained, where investment is needed, and where technology can improve their business model.

And where the potato chip closet is, of course.

A big thanks goes to Heidi from Idieh Design for creating the Edit and Post logo and to Liene Stevens, Julianne Smith, Cyd Converse, and Heather Crabtree for inspiring me daily and encouraging me to bring Edit and Post to life.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!