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