How To Plan & Set Up A Blog – With FREE Printable Planning Sheets

How To Plan and Set Up A Blog

Hi beautiful people! Welcome back to my blog; happy to have you here. I set this blog up literally days ago, so I thought maybe it would be an interesting post to show you how I planned this blog and share the method that I use to plan and launch. (Oh, and you’re getting a wee bit of that promised Stationery-porn with glimpses into my bullet journal.)

Before we begin, here’s the crazily basic blog planning sheet where you can jot down all your initial ideas and possibilities before we start to narrow them down and polish them up.

How To Set Up A Blog Planning Sheet

For those of you who don’t frequent the depraved side of the web that is Reddit, TL;DR means “too long, didn’t read” and is your quick summary of a section for you lazy skim-readers so you can get the main points quickly. Let’s go.

Step 1: Identify your blog’s purpose, your vision for it and where it’s going to go

TL;DR:

⦁ A lot of decisions will need to be taken with this in mind
⦁ For example, SEO (search engine optimisation) – Google favours websites with authority and reputation within an area, so if you’re concerned with ranking well (a business blog not a personal one) you’d want to write a majority of your content around one subject.
⦁ Also helpful when picking hosted vs self-hosted and deciding what equipment you need.

This may sound strange – why do you need to be thinking 10 years down the line already? – but I would say this is one of the most essential things that you can do. Make it really clear from the outset where you want your blog to go. You don’t need to worry about how to get there yet.

Why?

Well, look at it like this:

If you’re running a personal, just-for-fun blog, you don’t need to worry about page-speed and coding and expensive themes. It’s just for fun – you can keep it simple, right?

If you’re running a blog that you want to eventually turn into a business, you’ll probably need to go self-hosted. I’ve gone this route before and, while it’s great in terms of options and what your site can do, it’s a pain in the backside if you don’t need it. Constant maintenance, constant money going out and constant headaches.

Knowing where you want your blog to go and what you want to do is going to big-time help when you make decisions like this – and it’ll help you avoid making mistakes. (Like buying a £600 camera for “blogging” only to never need it.)

Step 2: Start thinking about what you want your blog to be about

TL;DR:

Things I’d recommend doing:
⦁ Look at other people’s blogs
⦁ Consider your blog’s purpose – if you want to run a blog that is dominant in a particular field and will consistently rank on Google for a topic, you know that you need to write about this topic.
⦁ Consider your hobbies, your interests and your day-to-day life
⦁ Check your Pinterest account for content that you like; if you don’t have a Pinterest account, make one and start to curate so you can really see what kind of thing you’re interested in

Now, this is where most bloggers go wrong – they assume that they’ll always be inspired and ready to write. Yeah . . . if only. Half the time people just go “I want a blog!”, they make one and then . . . “oh, I have no idea what to write”.

Make sure that you plan out what your blog’s content is going to be. Are you going to be writing in-depth content? Study tips? Tales about your travels across the world? It’s helpful to think about the sort of content you’ll enjoy writing – and, more importantly, that you’ll be able to consistently chuck out.

Remember that your content is the most important part of your blog. It needs to be interesting, engaging and you actually need to have some. Don’t skip out this step.

Take notes on content you want to write about – add in some category sub-headings and even fill out some post ideas underneath. Start getting a feel for what your blog is going to be about; this will come in handy later when you start to think about things like naming it, your design, etc.

Step 3: Identify a growth strategy

TL;DR:
⦁ How are you planning to grow your blog? Different approaches mean you’ll need to do different things and optimise your blog in different ways.
⦁ WordPress.com is easy to use (as it works as almost a social media platform) – but limited in comparison to self-hosted
⦁ Are you going to use media like Pinterest? This will mean needing quality images and content that would perform well on sites like that.
⦁ Social media? How are you going to interact?
⦁ SEO? You’ll need to optimise your site and content differently – SEO means things like page URLS, design, speed etc. all need to be taken into account.

The next thing you need to do (I know, you’re sitting here thinking “Jesus Christ, Mia, when are we actually going to get to the setting up the blog part of this?” – but I want you to set your blog up properly, okay?) is think about how you’re going to promote and grow your blog.
Seriously, take a few moments and think about it. A lot of people I’ve spoken to seem to believe that they can write something and people will flock . . . but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. And the kind of annoying thing is that each different method of promotion comes with a different to-do list.

If you want a crazy engaged audience full of supportive and brilliant bloggers, you can go the social media route – but you have to be a supportive and engaged blogger. You have to reciprocate and be active on Twitter chats and Instagram and, if you’re like me and totally crap with social media and with absolutely 0 free time, social media advertising can be tiring as hell.

If you’re looking for an audience that will organically grow over time and without much effort, (and you want a massive viewership) you’ll be looking at SEO – your blog being found on Google. This is more difficult and will take longer to pay off, but once it kicks in it becomes passive growth and you can sit back and watch people roll in. However, if you’re going this route, you’re going to need to be a lot more specific in a lot of your decisions. For example, content will need to be longer (1,000 – 2,500 words is optimal for Google).

For me personally, WordPress.com works best as it acts almost like a social media for bloggers. Your site is automatically entered into the directory under your post’s tags (so if you tag “fashion” your post will appear under “fashion” in the reader and people interested in fashion blogs can find you) and people can follow your site easily. Again, however, this is a social media type situation wherein you need to be active. I enjoy being an active blogger and interacting, so this suits me well – but if it isn’t what you want it might not be the right route for you.

Step 4: Name your blog

TL;DR:
⦁ Make sure it reflects you and/or your content (it’s easier to get other bloggers and people to check out your blog if they can tell what it’s about)
⦁ Is it good for SEO?
⦁ Will it age well; does it limit your blog? Cassie’s Cupcake Corner doesn’t allow for much wiggle room outside of cupcakes.

I know – you probably thought naming your blog would be the easiest part of your day, right? One of the first things that would be on this list.

You weren’t expecting the cross-examination just to get you to this seemingly insignificant point.

Well. Sorry.

The thing is, though, your blog name is important. It’s important for people’s first impression of your blog, for search engines, for your overall brand. You want to take some time to think about it and make sure that it fits in with everything that you plan to do and where your blog needs to go.

Quick Break – Now is when you need to set up a blog. You have your name (and therefore a domain) so pick a host and register your site.

Step 5: Sort out your branding

TL;DR
⦁ Pick a colour scheme and look for your blog that will instantly convey what it’s about; minimal is always a safe bet
⦁ Create a logo
⦁ Create a favicon (the small icon that appears in the browser next to your blog’s Title)

Okay, so I may be slightly biased as I’m a branding-junkie (it’s what I want to study at uni), but I think blog design and branding is so important. The right branding can make your blog look professional and polished, while giving people an insight into your content immediately. And shitty branding . . . well, nobody wants shit branding.

Your blog design and branding covers your theme, your logo, your header, your sidebar . . . everything. It can be as done up or as basic as you like.

To this point, I really like my new blog logo.

Step 6: Create some “base content” for your blog

TL;DR
⦁ Even when your blog is new, it’s still helpful to have something for people to read that encourages them to stay and follow you
⦁ Having an About Me page is good for this – just have something available for people to read
⦁ Get some draft content up too; this means that you can have some posts written in advance to upload so you’ll always have content to upload

And now we’re done! I know; you’re relieved. Get some base content up for your site so that people that stumble across it will have something to encourage them to stay. As a new blogger, you can get away with not having a lot of content, but having the essentials is always a great way to snag your first couple of followers.

Okay, so here is how I planned and set up my new blog! After I did all of this, I also went ahead and set myself some blogging goals that I’ll be sharing with you . . . at some indetermine point in the future. I hope this helped someone somewhere – do you guys plan your blog or do you just kind of wing it? Let me know below.

Peace,

(Next post is tomorrow at 10am!)

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