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CONTENTS

DESIGN
MONDAY Designing a logo for your blog 01

TUESDAY Creating a color palette 16

WEDNESDAY Picking fonts and combining them 27

By: Gerren Lamson

WORDPRESS

THURSDAY Understanding WordPress basics 40

FRIDAY How to buy a domain and hosting 48

SATURDAY How to install a theme 52

SUNDAY How to customize a theme 58

By: Gaby Izarra

LAUNCH

Blog launch checklist 64

How to build a following 68

How to create a press kit 74

By: Alexis Goodrich


DESIGN

MONDAY

Designing a
Logo for
Your Blog
02

Starting from YOUR AUDIENCE COMES FIRST

Scratch Creating a great logo starts with understanding


how your readers will connect with your content
and how that relates to your aspirations for your
blog. Who are your readers? What actions might
So, youve picked out a name for your blog
they take after reading your articles? What
project and youre ready to get started. What
feelings will your articles evoke? Well need to
comes next might seem a little daunting
answer these questions (and a few more).
and make you feel overwhelmed. Its time to
design the logo! Wait, what? Youre not a logo
designer. Thats ok. Youre not alone! Many Lets start with a simple brand exercise a
others have been in your shoes, but they have creative brief. Grab a piece of paper and a pen.
risen to the challenge and come out the other Make five vertical lines so that you create five
side of the logo creation journey victorious. columns on your page. Add these labels at the
top of the page so that you have one label per a
column:

There are many resources available to make this


task an easier one than you think. Well follow a Mission
set of simple, fun steps that should make this an Target Audience
enjoyable process, too! Before you know it, youll Competitors
be able to transform a blank page into a beautiful Brand Personality
logo and identity system that will delight your Reader Feelings
readers, reflect your content, and embody the
mission of your blog.
Next, well fill them in one at a time.

Sounds great, right? To begin, well need to


MISSION
approach this project like a designer. That means
thinking about your audience and how theyll
Write down the mission statement for your blog
perceive your brand through your logo, which
in a simple 140-character sentence. Define the
should reflect your blogs mission and content.
purpose of why you want your blog to exist and
Well start by filling out a simple creative brief
why it matters for your readers.
and building a vision for your logo with an
inspiration exercise. Then, well curate our
samples to align with your brand, and jump TARGET AUDIENCE
into the basics of designing a great logo. Are you
ready? Lets do it! Write down two to five examples of your core
readers. What types of readers do you want

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to attract and keep on your blog? You can add thinking and feeling? Are they delighted or
general types (e.g. stay-at-home moms) or be distracted? Are they curious or concerned? Are
more specific (e.g. international female artists they searching for answers or browsing content?
with no degree between the ages of 1530 doing
experimental work). If other factors such as age, Hooray! Youve completed the first step towards
income, skills, or industry are defining charac- designing your logo. Now that you know a little
teristics of your whole audience or reader types, bit more about your blog project, how it competes
add those details too. with others, and what it means to your future
readers, were ready to start exploring the visual
COM PETITORS side of this exercise. Well use this list to double
check your decisions as you design your logo.
Write down two to three of your blogs
competitors. If youve had your eye on similar
blogs that inspired your project and are in the Shaping Your
Creative Vision
same content space, write those down. If you
dont know who your competition is, Google
search for the types of content your blog may
have to find the names of some of the big players
in your shared market space. Now comes the fun part! Its time to do a little
bit of research and get inspired. Since you just
identified the purpose of your blog, your readers,
BRAND PERSONALITY and your competition, its time to start shaping
your creative vision.
Write down 4 to 8 personality traits that you
want your brand to have. If your blog was a At this step, your job is to start figuring out a
character or celebrity, what would be its core, look and feel of your blog. What is your blogs
best personality traits? Do you want to be fun or aesthetic? Is your blog about D.I.Y. crafting,
serious? Professional or casual? Choose the best fashion and beauty products, or business
keywords that embody the style and personality strategy? Did those three examples bring some
that you want your blog to have. associated visuals to mind?

Think about what style your readers might enjoy


READER FEELINGS
and relate to. The easiest way to do this is to
evaluate what the tone of your content will be.
Write down 4 to 6 feelings that you want your
Are you writing a personal or professional blog?
blogs logo and content to evoke in your audience.
Will it be perceived as high-brow or easy for
Think about their mental and emotional state
everyone to understand? Are you planning for
as they experience your blog for the first time
your posts to be funny, clever, calm, informed,
(or every time they come back). What are they
colorful, elaborate, or simple?

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BUILD YOUR MOODBOARD

Now that you have a better picture in your mind about your blogs aesthetic, its time for the fun part
building your moodboard. A moodboard is a place where youll collect various pieces of visual
inspiration that might inform the identity that youre going to create for your blog. The easiest way to
do this is to start a fresh new board on Pinterest.

Start searching for your inspiration. Look around for visuals that excite you about the identity that
youre going to create for your blog.

Here are some of the things that you might consider searching for and pinning to your board:

Color palettes Fonts


Photos Hand-lettering
Icons Type Treatments
Graphics Interior Design
Illustrations Stationery Design
Logos

As you find pieces of inspiration to consider adding to your Pinterest moodboard, ask yourself these
questions:

Will this sample reflect or complement the tone and content of my blog?
How does this relate to the business Im trying to build?
Why do I like this? What do I like about it?
How might I use this sample as I create my blogs identity?
Does this sample resemble the aesthetic I want my blog to have?

If youre having trouble finding samples to pin to your board, you can search Pinterest for moodboards.
You might just find some examples that would be worth pinning from the work that others have
collected for their creative project.

You might be wondering how many samples your moodboard needs. If youve collected under 20
samples, you might have too little. If youve collected over 100 samples, you might have too many.
Theres no perfect number, but make sure that youve explored a good bit before you call it quits.

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Mood Board
BAKI N G I S HAPPI N ESS B LOG
06

CURATION IS KEY

Youve got a beautiful board of inspiration. You cant stop looking at it. Its glorious! But what next?

MoodBoard Favorites
Its time to pick your favorites. Using a star symbol or your favorite emoji , go back through your
moodboard pins and add a symbol to each one that really matters to you. These curated samples will
have more weight in your decision-making process as you design your blogs logo and identity.

Designing Your Blogs Logo


Before you jump into designing a brilliant logo for your blog, its important to understand what a logo
is and the role that your logo will have in your blogs identity. So, lets talk about your blogs brand first,
and then well review what makes for a great logo.

YOUR BLOGS BRAND

Youre building a brand for your blog. Your brand will define the unique voice and tone of the content,
the visual style of your site, and the impression that it makes on your readers. The word brand even
includes how frequently your readers are sharing your blog and what theyre telling their peers. Your
brand is made up of every piece of content you publish, every interaction you have with your readers,
your logo, and the visual identity system that you use to design your blog and all marketing collateral

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for it (both online and offline). All of these


dynamics (and many more) work in harmony to
make for an effective brand.

HOW YOUR LOGO FITS IN

At the heart of your blogs brand will be the most


important, iconic element your logo. It should
be the one visual that helps new visitors and
repeat readers identify your blog, content, and
mission.

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LOGO

So, getting your logo right is very important. But


dont worry. If youre not a professional designer,
theres still hope! Weve laid out a simple step-by-
step plan to design a beautiful logo that you and
your readers will love. But first, lets go over a few
qualities that make for a great logo:

It should have a defined style that makes


sense.
It must be easy to read at large and small
sizes.
It should be able to be scaled down to smaller
sizes (or have an alternate layout that accom-
modates this need).
It should be adaptable for one-color (black)
and multi-color printing and onscreen.
It should be easy to reverse-out (set it in
white) and drop on a photo.
It should feel natural in and supported by the
visual identity system you create.

WHATS YOUR STYLE?

Lets start with what style your logo should be.

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Do you want it to look crafted or clean? Will it appear historical, retro, contemporary, or futuristic?
What level of minimal versus ornate should it be? How can you make it look more simple instead of
complex?
Go back and look at the curated selections that you starred in your Pinterest moodboard. What trends
in your taste are you picking up on? Use this logo style chart as a reference, and figure out what style
you want to pursue.

PICKING YOUR LOGOS ELEMENTS

Just typing out two words in single sans serif font wouldnt make for a very compelling logo that stands
out. Most logos are comprised of more than one brand element. Using multiple brand elements to
design your logo makes it easier for it to have a defined style, meaningful substance, and better impact.

The main challenge here is starting with as few elements as possible before adding another one in.
Remember, the name of the game is making something simple and memorable thats unique to your
blog. Its a good rule of thumb to only shoot for two to three elements.

WORDS

First and foremost, determine what words you want to include. By now, youve probably got a name,
and that should be where you start. Here are a few considerations:

Is your blogs name a single word, two words, or more?


Is the sequence of the words you chose simple to read?
Will your words be displayed in one or two lines?
Will readers understand what your blogs name means and the content they should expect to
find based on it?
How do the words you are choosing play into the style youre going for?
Are you thinking about adding a tagline? If so, keep in mind that the simplest version of your
logo that doesnt include the tagline will be used in most cases on screen and in print.
If you chose to only use your words as your blogs logo, then youre designing a wordmark (or logotype).

Type layout examples

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According to this study of logos by the worlds top 100 brands, 37% of them use text-only logos. If youre
in doubt, this is not a bad way to go. As the saying goes, less is more!

FONTS

Different types of fonts embody and reflect unique aesthetics that contribute to your logos style. As
you look at fonts to choose from, think about the style that youre designing for. If you want to compare
the fonts that youre interested in, pin them to your moodboard.

If your blogs name is a single word, then youre looking for one primary font. The font that you pick
should be very focused on the style that you want your logo to exude.

If your blogs name has two (or more) words, then its best to limit yourself to working with two fonts.
You can pick one font family that has multiple weights, or you can pick two separate fonts. Keep in
mind that your logo will have a primary (principal) word and one or more secondary (complimentary)
words. Think about how you might emphasize the primary word with a stylish font that embodies the
vision you have for your logo. Its best to use a more simple font for the secondary word(s).

Here are some simple rules to follow as you browse and select the font(s) you want to use:

Use the color black for all of your words as you test different fonts out. This will help you
get the font combination and emphasis on your words right. Color at this stage would be
distracting.
Play with the size, placement, and emphasis (e.g. thickness) of your primary word in relation
to your secondary word(s).
Remember that you should avoid using hard-to-read or overly decorative fonts so that your
logo is legible at any scale onscreen and in print.
Try typing out your word(s) to get a sense of the characters. Keep an eye out for letters that
might be hard to read or too complex.
If you have two or more words, its not a good idea to mix two decorative fonts (script, slab
serif, etc.) or serif fonts. Its best to use one stylish font for the primary word and one simple
font for the secondary word(s).
Its easier to work with uppercase characters when youre designing with two or more words.
Combining lowercase words with each other or an uppercase word is more challenging.

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Heres a cheat sheet and list that you can reference of the different categories of fonts and the styles
associated with them.

SERIFS

Serif fonts include tiny flourishes and subtle details at the strokes of their letterforms. They
communicate literature, history, and printed vibes context.

SANS SERIFS

Sans serif fonts dont have small projecting features at the end of their strokes. They communicate a
modern, minimal, and professional vibe.

SCRIPTS

Script fonts have expressive, ornate letterforms that are created with brushes, calligraphy pens, and
other tools. They communicate beauty, artistry, ornamentation, and motion.

SLAB SERIF

Slab serif fonts are a sub-type of serifs that are worth calling out. They have exaggerated, block-like
projections on their strokes. They communicate strength, structure, and an industrial vibe.

DECORATIVE

Decorative fonts is a wide label. These types of fonts are usually display fonts and exist for when strong
typographic treatments are needed (such as headlines and signage). They communicate thematic,
crafty, high-impact, and style-specific vibes.

Not sure where to start looking for fonts? This list of websites that contain free and paid fonts is a good
starting point. You can search for great font pairings on Pinterest and find quality recommendations
by blog and design professionals as well.

Google Fonts
Creative Market Fonts

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FONT
Ch eat Sheet
12

ICON initials or first letter(s) of your blogs name are


intertwining. This is best used for logos that
Adding a single icon to your logo is a big decision. represent a blog that has a persons name or
Sometimes, it can summarize the mission and persona as the brand.
style of your blog. Later on, it can stand alone as
the identifying mark that readers recognize your Emblem: An icon that is combined with the
blog by. It also can help create alternate layouts type treatment in a seal, frame, shape or other
of your primary logo and be used as the favicon grouping visual device. This requires a little
that represents your blogs URL in different more design skill.
browsers.

Looking for icons to use in your project? Browse


In contrast, sometimes it can be seen as the Icons category on Creative Market for ideas
distracting, confusing, or unnecessary. Using an and assets that you can buy and use in your logo
icon means that youre creating a combination design.
mark, and that usually takes a little more skill. If
youre in doubt about whether or not you need an GRAPHIC ELEMENTS
icon, it might be best to skip it for now.
If you dont want to add an icon but think that a
However, if you think you might want to add type-only treatment doesnt feel special enough,
a brand icon, there are few different types graphic elements might be worth adding in.
to choose from. I recommend exploring the These visuals are supportive embellishments
brandmark or lettermark. that add structure and style to your logos
type treatment. If you want to add some into
Brandmark: A simple symbol or icon that con- your logo, remember that you should use them
ceptually or directly relates to and reflects your sparingly and that they should be lighter in color
blogs mission, style, name, and concept. An and transparency so that they dont detract from
example of this would be the Target, Apple, or your logos type treatments.
Windows icon. If you choose this, then youll
likely be pairing it with some type to create a Graphic elements is a catch-all category. It
combination mark, which is an icon and type includes visual devices such as lines, flowers,
system where both elements can work separately flourishes, starbursts, and more. The list can
and together. go on and on. Heres a look at graphic elements
by category, and examples of how they might be
Lettermark: A lettermark is a simple symbol used:
that uses the initials or first letter(s) of your
blogs name to create an icon. An example of this Dots and circles
would be the IBM, CNN, and EA symbols. Swirls and line flourishes
Lines and dividers
Monogram: A type of lettermark in which the
Flowers

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Leaves and wreaths


Arrows
Feathers
Hearts and stars
Borders and frames
Sunbursts
Geometric elements
Graphic element examples

Need to find some graphic elements that you can use in your logo? Browse the Illustration and Graphic
Object categories on Creative Market for assets that you can buy and use in your design.

COLORS

Picking colors for the logo that youre designing might be the most fun step! The best approach for this
step is to limit your selection to one to three colors for your logo. This will ensure that your logo isnt
too complex, and it will help you create a clear solution thats recognizable and memorable.

Before we jump into picking colors, its important to have a basic understanding of how the colors you
pick will influence your readers. As you read the adjectives below, think about your creative brief. What
is your brands personality and how do the primary colors you pick reflect that?

Yellow Orange Red Purple


Happy, optimistic, Friendly, cheerful, excitement, wise, imaginative,
clarity, warmth confident youthful, bold creative

Blue Green White


strong, dependable, healthy, growth, calm, neutral,
trustworthy peaceful balanced

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the following questions:


Now, go back to your moodboard and see if the Are you designing for two lines of text?
pins that you curated from your inspiration offer If so, do you want to center or left align
any clues about the color(s) that youre drawn to. them?
If youre having trouble picking a primary color, Is there an icon that needs to be mixed
try finding your color(s) on these season-based with your type elements?
palettes on Pinterest: spring, summer, fall, and If so, do you want to place it above, below,
winter. Dont forget to check out this study about left, or right of the type elements?
color preferences by gender, too. Now, make your Are you designing an emblem (e.g. seal or
color picks. frame)?

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER Not sure how to start mixing your brand
elements together? Take a look at some of the
If youre reading this, then youve picked your most common logo layouts below, and decide
brand elements and youre ready to assemble how you want to arrange your brand elements in
them into your logo design. Hooray! Next, well a composition.
explore the basics of putting it all together in a
logo composition. One line of text.
One icon stacked on top of one line of text,
LAYOUT OPTIONS
centered vertically.
One icon with one line of text sitting to the
Depending on the elements that youve selected,
right of it, centered horizontally.
there are a few ways to mix them into a layout.
First, youll need to decide which element needs Two lines of text, stacked and centered
to act as your primary element. Most likely, thats vertically.
your primary word. Next, youll need to figure One icon stacked on top of two lines of
out what your layout approach is by answering text, centered vertically.

Icon and text layouts

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VISUAL HIERARCHY

Next, youll determine where each of your element falls in the visual hierarchy of your logo design. The
way that youll do this is by adjusting the size, color, and value of each element.

CHECKING THE SCALE

Now that youve determined the layout and visual hierarchy of your logo its time to double check your
logos integrity by scaling down the size. You can do this by zooming out or transforming the size down.
Youll want to make it appear at a one-inch scale, then ask yourself these questions:

Can you still read all of the text elements easily?


Can you tell whats going on?
Does anything else feel complex or off?

THE END RESULT

Hooray! Youve got a beautiful new logo for your blog. You might ask whats next at this point. What do
you do with this logo design? Your next mission is to pick a color palette and fonts to compliment your
logo. As you go through these steps, youll also build a brand style guide which will capture all of your
brands design elements.

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DESIGN

TUESDAY

Creating
a Color
Palette
17

Color Your Brand


Now that youve designed your blogs logo, its time to create a compelling color palette for your brand.
Color is a very powerful tool that can contribute to your blogs success. Big brands consider color to be
so important that some of them have protected specific hues through copyright. Building a memorable
color palette is vital to the success of a brand.

Colors impact our brains on a deep level. Researchers have found that 90% of snap judgments made
about a product can be based on color alone, so getting your color picks right for your blogs brand is
essential. Studies have also shown that there is a strong relationship between a brands colors and their
ability to increase consumers purchasing intent, too.

During this simple, fun exercise, keep going back to your curated moodboard and logo design. Think
about the feeling, mood, and image that you want to create for your brand using color. Your mission is
to match your blogs content and style with a beautiful color palette thats appropriate for the types of
readers you want to reach. Easy peasy!

Hues with Intention


Lets go back to the mission you created for your blog. The subject matter that you plan on writing
content for needs to be considered when it comes to picking brand colors.

Colors are packed with hidden meaning, so its a good idea to align them with the themes of your
content, the industry that youre writing content in or for, and what your readers might prefer. Dont
worry. Well unpack what all of this means in a moment. The important thing to keep in mind is that
you need to be intentional with your color choices. What you pick matters, a lot.

BUILDING A SYSTEM

Youve already picked one or more colors for the logo that you designed. At this phase, what youre
really doing is expanding on those selections to build a larger color palette. So dont be scared to go
back to your logo design and adjust the colors that you settled on.

As you go through this exercise, think about your color palette as a system that youll use as you design.

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Youll want your color palette feeling cohesive, beautiful, and ready to use in focused ways as you finish
building your brand and blog.

UNDERSTANDING COLOR PSYCHOLOGY

Colors are imbued with hidden meanings at a conscious and subconscious level. We feel them. We
perceive them differently, and our choices can be influenced by them. Before you pick your brands
color palette, lets talk a little bit about the psychology behind colors and other considerations that
youll want to keep in mind.

GLOBAL PERCEPTION

Research shows that cultures around the world perceive the meaning of colors different. And, to make
matters worse, our personal preferences and experiences make it hard to say that individual colors
have the same effect on everyone.

Thats OK. You cant choose colors that please everyone. Youll have to ignore the fact that red
symbolizes luck in China, pink symbolizes boys in Belgium, and purple stands for mourning in Brazil.
Its too much to consider Western, Non-Western, and specific culture meanings when picking colors.

Although youll want to reach everyone across the globe, make the palette that you and your readers
will fall in love with. So, pick colors that are the most useful and pleasing for your blog and its content.
What colors might help to attract new readers or persuade existing readers to keep coming back?

COLORS BY PERSONALITY

Despite how diverse colors can be interpreted, there are key personalities in Western culture that are
associated with colors that you should pay attention to. There are studies on these that show which
colors are preferred by gender and which ones affect customer spending habits.

Lets unpack these personalities and their meanings together, shall we?

- Red stands for vitality, warmth, ambition, determination, excitement, strength, desire, passion, and
courage. It raises our blood pressure, enhances our metabolism, and attracts attention more than any
other color. How it affects purchasing: it makes customers stop in their tracks with its big, alarming
impact.

- Pink stands for feminine, love, caring, nurturing, kindness, youthfulness, silliness, thoughtfulness,

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and affection. It is a sign of hope, its associated associated with feelings of freedom and idealism.
with being non-threatening, and offers feelings How it affects purchasing: it makes customers
of reassurance and comfort. How it affects feel secure in the transaction.
purchasing: it calms the customers endocrine
system and makes them relax enough to part - Purple stands for imagination, intuition,
with their cash. idealism, creativity, power, mobility, luxury,
ambition, and independence. It combines blues
- Yellow stands for intellect, optimism, cheer- stability with reds energy, conveys wealth and
fulness, happiness, energy, honor, and loyalty. extravagance, and is associated with royalty,
It produces a warming effect, stimulates mental dignity, mystery, and magic. How it affects
activity, and arouses cheerfulness. When its purchasing: it makes customers think the
projected as the color gold, it is associated with product has a rich, beautiful quality.
achievement, abundance, and prestige. How it
affects purchasing: it makes customers energized - Brown stands for reliability, protection,
and increases their appetite. security, comfort, structure, and support.
It is associated with material security and
- Orange stands for creativity, enthusiasm, food, possessions, creates a sense of duty and respon-
social communication, fascination, success, sibility, and is friendly and approachable.
attraction, stimulation, and encouragement.
Its a combination of reds energy and yellows - Black stands for power, elegance, formality,
happiness, associated with the concept of joy, mystery, authority, prestige, and the unknown.
and represents tropical climates too. How it Its the absorption of all colors, the absence of
affects purchasing: it makes customers think the light, and it hides and covers subject matter. How
product is affordable and the deal is fair. it affects purchasing: it exudes sophistication
and high-end quality.
- Green stands for balance, growth, self-re-
liance, harmony, freshness, fertility, healing, - White stands for perfection, purity, cleanliness,
endurance, wisdom, and trust. It is associated beginnings, goodness, minimalism, and light.
with money, represents nature, and evokes It is considered to be the color of perfection
feelings of tranquility, calm, and safety. How it and is associated with faith and purity. How it
affects purchasing: it makes customers think the affects purchasing: it makes customers think the
product is eco-friendly. product is modern and honest.

- Blue stands for trust, peace, loyalty, integrity, - Gray stands for transition, neutrality,
conservatism, responsibility, honesty, sincerity, detachment, and indecision. It is the transition
confidence, self-expression, and stability. It state between black and white, and is associated
reduces stress, slows our metabolism, and is with compromise. When its projected as silver, it

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communicates feminine energy, fluidity, ebbs and flows, emotionalism, sensitivity, and mystery.

Beyond having implied meanings, other color preferences exist that may impact your picks. Lets take
a quick look at general preferences by gender.

Joe Hallock performed a study in 2013 in which he examined color preference by gender. He polled
over 220 people of various demographics from 22 countries around the world. He was able to come to
the general conclusion about the favorite and least favorite colors for males and females. Have a look at
the results, which are listed in the order of most-to-least votes:

Males
- Favorite Colors: Blue, Green, Black, Red, Orange, Gray
- Least Favorite Colors: Brown, Purple, Orange, Yellow, White, Gray

Females
- Favorite Colors: Blue, Purple, Green, Red, Black, Orange, Yellow
- Least Favorite Colors: Orange, Brown, Gray, Yellow, Purple, Green

Additional studies in color preferences and perception revealed more general gender differences with
color for you to consider. Males prefer bolder, brighter colors and shades (darker tones). Females prefer
softer colors and tints (lighter tones). If you know that your blogs content will cater to one gender over
the other, pick colors that are more pleasing to that audience. If youre catering to both genders, find
colors that might work for both male and female. Take these insights with a grain of salt (or two).

So, thats a lot of color meaning! But what does it all mean for you? Now that youre armed with these
great insights, keep them in mind as you enter the next step creating your palette!

Create Your Palette


Weve talked about the importance of color in your brand, the meaning of colors, and a few key consid-
erations. Nows the time. Lets find your hues!

WHERE DO HUE START?

Go back to your moodboard and look at your curated pins. Do you see similar colors across your

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samples? Can you identify color trends that Logo (one to three colors)
you gravitate towards? How might these color Blog Background
preferences measure up in terms of their meaning
Blog Menu
and how your readers might be influenced by
Blog Header
them on your blog? Are any of them a good fit for
Blog Footer
your blogs mission?
Blog Banners or Ads
PRIMARY BRAND COLOR Text: Headers
Text: Links
At this point, its important to identify a primary Text: Body Copy
brand color. This color will be the anchor for your Text: Pull quotes, meta-data, etc.
whole palette. It should reinforce the mission
Primary Buttons
and personality of the brand that youre building.
Secondary Buttons (if needed)
Heres an example of what this looks like:
Business Cards (if desired)
Stationery (if desired)
Theres a good chance that youve already picked it
out and applied it to your logo design as your main
(or only) color. If thats true, and youre happy DISABILITY CONSIDERATIONS
with it, then youre ahead of the game! If thats not
Before you build your palette, we need to talk
true, then choose one color that best represents
about disability. Some of your potential readers
your brand. Go back and adjust your logo to make
may have visual impairments. A report by The
sure that its applied in a primary way.
National Eye Institute revealed that 8 percent
of men and 0.5 percent of women with Northern
EVALUATING COLOR NEEDS
European ancestry have a common form of
red-green color blindness. So, if youre going to
Next, its a good idea to think about all of the ways
have a more male-skewed audience, consider
in which color will be used to design your blog.
these impairments.
Here is a list of common blog elements and use
cases for you to think about. These should help
you build a list of colors that youll need to pick. If you arent sure about the colors that youre
picking, you can upload an inspiring photo that
you might base your picks off of or an image of
As you choose your colors, youll find that you
your color selections into this color blindness
may want to use a similar (or the same) hue for
simulator to see what happens. You may want to
different elements and needs. Its fine to choose
make some adjustments, but try not to sacrifice
fewer colors and have them do more work for you.
the entire tone, style, and feeling that your colors
The important thing here is to make sure you pick
embody, if you can help it.
colors that work together and fill all of your needs.

Lastly, watch out for straining the eyes of your

DE SIGN & L AU NCH YOU R BLOG


23

readers with normal vision. Avoid too much red sense in relation to your blogs mission and
or green, red text on a white background, too content? Will your readers understand your
much reverse (white) text on a dark background, blogs brand through them?
and very light-color text thats difficult to read.
PULLING HEX CODES FROM PHOTOS
BUILDING THE FULL PALETTE
One of the fastest ways to build a color palette is
to pick hex codes out of a beautiful photo. HEX
Here are some simple ground rules to follow:
codes are six-digit numbers (e.g. #8ba753) that
- As you pick your main colors, think about enable you to display a color on a web page. You
how they might be used to create emphasis on may already have an image in mind or on your
your blog. Will they be used to tie together your moodboard that you want to try. If not, you
logo, header, and call-to-action elements (links, can easily find a new one that has similar tones
buttons, banner ads, etc.)? This could be done to one of your favorite pieces of inspiration on
with your primary brand color, or with one or two Pinterest, Unsplash, or good ole Google image
other supportive main colors that complement search.
your primary brand color.
Upload or open your photo in an online color
picker, Adobe Photoshop CC, or your favorite
How will you keep your primary brand color photo editing software. Choose the eyedropper
feeling special and unique? How will the tool. Click on an area in the image and itll pull
entire palette support and complement it? that color out for you. You should see a HEX
code for each color you pull out of your image.
Theres a good chance youll need some light
If you love it, write it down. Make sure to also
and dark desaturated neutral colors for
write down the RGB and CMYK numbers too, if
various web elements for your blog. What
theyre present. If you love the tone and style of
will you pick and how might they be used?
the image that you uploaded, try to pull the most
prominent colors out of it to capture the spirit of
Do the colors you pick feel like they make what you liked!

#e48b5c

#a8dacf

sampling colors from an image

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24

USING COLOR WHEELS & THEORY

Theres a lot that we could dig into as far as color theory. To keep it simple, take a look at these common
ways of combining colors according to theories.

Its very easy to use online tools such as Adobe Color CC to create a palette using a theory or set of
rules. Give it a try and see if you can make some color magic that you love.

Complementary Analogous Triadic

USING SEASON PALETTES

If photos and color tools arent your thing, theres another easy way to pick a color palette for your blog.
Go back to your creative brief and look through your moodboard. Could you align your blogs brand
with a color range thats based on one of the four seasons? You can find some existing color palettes for
spring, summer, fall, and winter vibes on Pinterest. If you use this route, make sure to identify your
primary brand color and secondary colors as you need them.

Spring Summer

Fall Winter

TESTING YOUR COLOR PALETTE

Now that youve built your brands color palette, its time to test it out. The first design to try out might
be a banner ad that other blogs could put on their site to link to your new blog. Next, try applying your
primary and some of your secondary colors to a few potential buttons.

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25

If it feels like your color palette is working well for ADDING COLOR RULES
you, then youre good to go! If it isnt, then make
adjustments or replace colors as needed. The idea After youve listed out color profiles for each hue,
is to make the system work for you. If it doesnt, its a good idea to write down some simple rules.
this is your chance to make corrections. How do you plan on using your primary brand
color? How will you use your secondary colors for
BUILDING YOUR BRAND STYLE GUIDE your blogs brand elements? These rules can be as
simple as a short bullet list that covers how you
Hooray! Youve picked and tested out your color plan to use (limit the use of) each color.
palette for your brand. What now? Lets start a
simple brand style guide that captures the logo Your brands style guide should include your logo,
design and color palette that youve completed so color palette, and a short list of best practices for
far. This guide will be a single sheet that you can how you intend to apply your colors.
reference when applying your brand elements to
your blog design.
Make sure that you leave some room for fonts on
this brand sheet, because thats what youre going
DOCUMENTING PROFILES to add next. Lets build your type system for your
brand and blog!
Youve already picked and refined all of the colors
in your palette. Now, you need to make sure you
have all of the profiles capture for each of your
colors. This means that you need to document
HEX code, RGB, and CMYK profiles. Heres an
example of what you need to pull for each color:

RGB

CMYK

HEX

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Blog Logo

Brand Colors
#A8DACF
#39566E
R: 168 G: 218 B: 207
R: 157 G: 86 B: 110
C: 33 M: 0 Y: 21 K: 0
C: 83 M: 61 Y: 39 K: 20

#A1503E #E48B5C #F9FAF6


R: 161 G: 80 B: 62 R: 228 G: 139 B: 93 R: 249 G: 250 B: 246
C: 27 M: 76 Y: 77 K: 17 C: 8 M: 54 Y: 70 K: 0 C: 2 M: 0 Y: 2 K: 0

Dos & Donts


DESIGN

WEDNESDAY

Picking
Fonts &
Combining
Them
28

Just My Type
Now that youve got a beautiful logo and color palette, its time to finish building your brand style guide
by adding some fonts. While there may be millions of fonts out there to choose from, well use a little
education and a simple list of considerations to help you find fonts that you and the fans of your brand
will love.

Your mission is to find fonts that pair well, are optimized for display on your blog, complement the
type that you used in your logo design. One more quick thing the term typeface refers to the group of
letterforms that are designed to go together. The term font refers to the file that you install to use the
typeface. OK, lets go!

Anatomy of Type
Ever wonder what makes each typeface tick? How can there so many millions of unique fonts out
there? There are many different elements that a designer has to consider when theyre creating each
letterform for their typeface. While you dont have to be an expert on typeface design to pick your
fonts, a good place to start would be learning more about the anatomy of letters and how they work
together in harmony to build a typeface.

There are two quick guides to look at to get your head in the type game. You can use them as references
when you pick your fonts if you need more clarity. We recommend starting with Thinking With Types
Anatomy guide. Youll begin to see what the major design elements are and how letters sit on a line to
compose words and sentences.

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29

Then, if you want a deeper dive, take a look at this glossary of terms sheet by Martin Silvertant. As you
can see, there are a lot of design elements and layout considerations that play into a typefaces design.
You dont have to remember all of these terms, but its good to become familiar with looking at these
kinds of tiny details to understand why a typeface has a certain style, personality, and look.

Interesting stuff, huh? Now that youve taken a crash course on type anatomy, lets talk about
something a little less technical and more fun type categories and styles.

TYPE BY CATEGORIES

Some typefaces look expressive, some give off a casual vibe, while others appear professional or serious.
Why is that? Different categories of type were originally designed for particular uses. They embody
certain styles, have unique characteristics, and give off certain styles. Lets walk-through the five most
common type categories and some of the variations that exist in them.

As you explore these categories, keep thinking about your blogs brand. Youll start to get an idea about
which categories offer the styles that might work best for you.

SERIFS

Serif fonts include tiny details at the end of the letterforms strokes. Theyre easier to read in printed

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30

works (especially at smaller body copy scales) and professional to hand-drawn and crafted
because the serifs guide the horizontal reading types. There are a few basic script sub-types such
flow of our eyes. There are different sub-types of as formal (Bickham Script), casual (Asphalt), cal-
serif fonts, such as old style (Adobe Garamond), ligraphic (Vivaldi), and blackletter (Agincourt).
glyphic (Albertus), transitional (Times New Script fonts communicate beauty, artistry, orna-
Roman), and modern (Bodoni). Each sub-type mentation, femininity, and motion.
embodies a unique style and approach. Serif
fonts communicate literature, history, and
printed vibes.

SLAB SERIF

Slab serif fonts are a sub-type of serifs that


SANS SERIFS are worth calling out. They have exaggerated,
block-like strokes. Theyre also called square
Sans serif fonts dont have small projecting serifs, and they range from bold and thick to thin,
features at the end of their strokes. There are typewriter styles. A few popular examples of
different sub-types such as grotesque (Franklin these would be Clarendon, Archer, Rockwell, and
Gothic), transitional (Helvetica), humanist Courier. They communicate stability, structure,
(Tahoma), square (Univers), and geometric masculinity, and an industrial vibe.
(Futura). Each sub-type carries subtle style
differences and there are varying weights within
sans serif font families that are worth exploring
too. Sans serif fonts communicate a modern,
minimal, and professional vibe.

DISPLAY / DECORATIVE

Decorative fonts is a wide category. The label


display refers to typefaces that are used when
strong type treatments for simple copy are
SCRIPTS needed (such as headlines, signage, and labels).
The styles of these range from very clean to
Script fonts have expressive, ornate letterforms hand-drawn and artistic. They can be flat,
that are created with brushes, calligraphy pens, layered, or three-dimensional. They can be
and other tools. They range in style from clean individual fonts, a font family of various artistic

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31

executions of the same letterforms, or a font places to look: Creative Market, Hoefler&Co, and
family of layers that work in harmony to produce Lost Type.
a rich, layered execution. A few examples of these
would be Argon, Lulo 3D, Troupe, and Caferus.
They communicate craftsmanship, high-impact,
How to Start
specific themes, and style-rich vibes.
AUDIENCE

Like most design tasks, it all starts with the user.


As you browse fonts, think about the audience
that you want to reach with your blog. How will
your readers be impacted by the fonts that youre
picking? Will they enjoy them or be confused by

Picking Your them? Will the fonts get in the way of your content
or be more supportive of (and invisible in relation

Fonts to) your content?

BRAND & LOGO ALIGNMENT

By now, youre probably pretty inspired to jump


Next, go back to your current brand style guide
in and pick your fonts.
and creative brief. Do the type styles that youre
picking support your blogs mission and the
WHERE TO LOOK personality of your brand? Look at your current
logo design. As you select more fonts that you
You can find fonts many different ways online. want to add, weigh it in relation to your logo. Its
Weve got a few recommendations for you if youre a good idea not to use the font you used in your
feeling lost in Google search results. If you want logo design so that it remains unique and special
to browse existing font palettes that others have in relation to the rest of your visual styles of your
put together, head over to Pinterest and check brand. Consider your logos type sacred and try to
out font pairings and font combinations. It might complement it with your picks.
make it easier for you to arrive at the style youre
going. If you start to think that you need to adjust the
type you used in your logo design to make the
If youre designing your blog on a budget, you type system and font combinations work better,
can explore 800+ free fonts in Googles Fonts. If thats OK. Adjust accordingly and get everything
youre running WordPress for your blog, you can looking beautiful and cohesive.
install one of the plugins that lets you replace
your blogs existing font styles with Google Fonts. Pick what makes for the personality of your brand
If youre willing to shell out a little coin for more and the visitors that you want to turn into fans of
unique typefaces, here are a few of our favorite your blog.

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32

CONSIDERATIONS

LEGIBILITY
Your visitors need to be able to clearly read all text on your blog. Some fonts are too thin, too thick, or
too intricate. Whether theyre used as headlines, links, body copy, or buttons, they can create serious
reading problems for your blogs visitors. Test fonts out by typing a sentence and reading it at 9 pt, 12
pt, 18 pt, and 36 pt sizes. If any of the words or individual letters are hard to discern at smaller sizes, its
a good idea to skip that font.

Pick fonts that you are sure your visitors will find legible and easy to read. For body copy, select fonts
that arent too light or bold to make sure that theyre readable at the default 12 pt to 18 pt size for the
content of your articles. For headlines, menus, buttons, and more, make sure that the fonts you pick are
easy to read at the size that theyll be displayed on your blog.

EMPHASIS, SIZE, HIERARCHY


Some fonts are thick, bold, and have a big visual impact. Some fonts are thinner and more sophisti-
cated. Since you have a list of use cases that you need to specify fonts for, you can evaluate the level of
impact that different fonts offer and how that plays into your needs. Think about when a visitor will
arrive at your blog. What pieces of text do you need them to be drawn to and read first? What size,
style, and weight do each piece of text need so that you create the best reading order for your visitors?

Think about the hierarchy that you want to create with your type system. Your headlines will be large
in size. Do you want to pick a font thats thicker to add more impact and emphasis to your headlines,
or would you rather go for something thinner for a more modern look? Depending on which route you
go, youll have to think about the other fonts you pick and how theyll be used on your blogs web pages.

COLOR IMPLICATIONS
In the last section, you built a brand color palette. The options that you created impact the fonts that
youre picking and their hierarchy on your blog. What color are you planning to use for your headlines?
Does this add or detract from the level of emphasis that youve determined you need for them? Is the
color that youre planning to use for your body copy too light? Does it make it hard for visitors to read
your articles? Think through the colors that youre going to match to the fonts that youre picking to
ensure the right hierarchy is created.

INDIVIDUAL FONTS VS. FONT FAMILIES


Some typefaces come as individual fonts. Some typefaces are part of a font family and have many
weight and style options. When picking and using individual fonts, its a good to limit the number of
fonts that you pick to three or four max. The more you pick, the more that youll have to have your
browser load and render for your blogs visitors, which will slow down their experience of your blog.

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34

If you want to go the font family route, choose However, youll want to pay attention to the fonts
only one font family and select the weights that descender height of characters such as q, p, g, and
you want to include on your blog. Limit the j. If they extend pretty far below the baseline,
number of weights you use from a font family youll have to use more leading with this font
to six or less. Dont force your readers to load 20 to make sure they dont connect or impact with
weights in a font family if youre only using a few the line of text below them. This may impact the
of them for all of your text use cases. You can use legibility of your articles body copy.
both 1-2 individual font and one font family suc-
cessfully too, but that should be your maximum KERNING
picks.
Kerning is defined as the distance between
two individual letters or characters. Most font
If you like the look of a particular sans-serif font designers do a good job of setting an appropriate
but the weight you chose doesnt work for many amount of space between all of their fonts
of your use cases, try adding one or more weights characters to optimize it for reading. However,
from the same font family to create a unified there are some exceptions. Some fonts are poorly
look. If youre going for a serif-only look, then a designed. They have random letters that are too
serif font family and the flexibility it provides is close together or set too far apart, which lessens
a better choice than picking two different serif the legibility and readability of the font overall.
fonts. Avoid display fonts that have multiple
layers if youre planning on having visitors load You can test for this by setting a paragraph of
several layers to achieve a certain look that would text in the font youre looking at and examine
be better off served as an image. the words and sentences. Bad kerning becomes
pretty obvious once you know what it looks like.
CLICHS TO AVOID If you pick a font that has bad kerning, it can
This rule is easy to follow. Dont use comic sans create frustrating experiences for you later on.
or papyrus. Theyre widely used and poorly If this happens to you, dont hesitate to find a
designed. If you see other fonts very similar to replacement that has better kerning. You can
these two, you should probably stay away from adjust the kerning for individual words in design
them as well. Besides, there are so many other programs, but there arent easy fixes to correct
better choices! poorly kerned fonts in code on your blog. Avoid
fonts that need kerning adjustment.
LEADING
Leading determines how text is spaced vertically TRACKING
in lines. You can examine this by copying and Tracking is similar to kerning. Its the spacing
pasting text into a paragraph that uses the font of all characters throughout an entire word. If
youre evaluating. This can be adjusted in a youve got a poorly kerned font, the tracking will
design program (its usually set to automatic as be bad. However, if you have a properly kerned
the default) or with code (using the line-height font, it still might need some tracking adjustment.
attribute). No problem. If the font has loose tracking, then there would

DE SIGN & L AU NCH YOU R BLOG


35

be a lot of space between the letters consis-


tently throughout the typeface. That could be
distracting for the reader. If the font has tight
tracking, then all of the words might look like
theyre getting squashed which would make the
sentences more illegible. Type out a sentence and
then a paragraph to evaluate a fonts tracking.
Thin, clean sans-serif fonts for display sizes
You can adjust the tracking in a design program complement light, narrow sans-serif fonts
(such as Photoshop) and you can tweak it in code for your body copy and other type needs. You
(using the letter-spacing attribute). However, can embrace one or two alternate weights
its best to avoid fonts that have very loose or of the sans-serif font family as needed. This
very tight tracking. You dont want to make your creates a balanced, professional style.
readers work harder to enjoy your content.

COMBINING YOUR FONTS


So, maybe by now youve got picked out some
fonts that you really like. But how do they sit
together? Its time to pair and combine them to
see if youve got a winning font system for your
blog and brand.

Bold serif fonts at display sizes complement


INSIGHTS ABOUT FONT PAIRING other weights from the same font family as
Combining the right fonts to create a beautiful uppercase and sentence-case for body copy
result can be challenging. Here are some tips for and text uses. This creates unified, classic lit-
making the right pairings with the right fonts erature-feeling style.
to create a memorable system for your brand
and blog. The main gist of these recommenda-
tions is to separate font choices between your
display needs (headlines) and body copy needs
(everything else).

Classic, medium-to-bold sans-serifs for


display sizes work well with traditional serifs
for body copy and other needs. You can use
Simple script fonts work well for short titles
uppercase and italic styles to enrich your
in display sizes. These pair well with a medi-
serif uses, too. This creates a respectable,
um-to-bold sans serif font in uppercase and
modern look.
lowercase formats for your body copy and

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36

other text needs. This creates a structured


look for your expressive headlines to sit Take these font pairings as loose recommen-
alongside. dations. They arent rules that you should
follow, since rules can and should be broken
to make your type system work for you. Here
are a few last pieces of pairing criteria for you
to consider:

Never use a script or decorative font for the


body copy. Enough said.

Try to avoid one font style and weight used


across all of your blogs type needs. This will
Strong, unique serifs at display sizes pair well
appear flat and under-considered, and it may
with italic or uppercase versions of the same
negatively affect the readers perceptions of
font used for other type needs. This works
your brand consciously or subconsciously.
well if a light, modern sans serif is used for
the body copy too. This pairing creates an Make use of the font that you pick for your
editorial, contemporary style. body copy by using existing styles and
treatments to work for your other type needs
such as buttons, sub-headlines, meta-data
and more.

When working your fonts onto graphics, you


can bend the layout rules a little bit more.
Try setting some body copy text vertically to
see if this approach might work well for your
non-web design uses.
Bold, decorative fonts used in short titles
at display sizes are supported by modern If it helps you make a decision, do research
serif fonts for body copy and other text uses. about the fonts you picked to understand any
This can create a unique, vintage style thats underline sub-conscious perceptions at play.
supported by historical context if done well. Think about these backgrounds and their
meaning if your font pairings appear to be
fighting each other visually and stylistically.

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37

Matching Your Fonts to Use


Cases
If you havent done this already during your font selection and pairing steps, its time to match your
fonts to all of the use cases that you have listed out for your brand and blog. This should help you
determine if all of your needs have been met, and how far you can push the individual fonts or font
family that youve picked. Play with uppercase, lowercase, italics, font weights, increased tracking, and
more to see how far you can make your font work in your system.

TEST DRIVE YOUR FONTS

An easy way to test out your font styles and uses is to build a little banner ad. Pick a stylish photo that
isnt too light or bright. Choose something that exudes your brands style or matches your blogs future
content. Make sure that theres not a lot of visual complexity in your image in the left 1/3 of your image.

Place the photo in a 3/2 ratio rectangle. Now, type out some placeholder copy that might look like a
blog title or call-to-action related to your brand. Set it in a headline (h1) larger size and apply the font,
weight, and size to it that you picked. Do the same thing for a sub-headline, and apply your preferred
font and style to it. Do this again for some dummy body copy. Make sure all three pieces of sample text
are set in white and have a fairly narrow text boundary, such as 1/4 or less of the entire banner ad. Add
a button or your websites URL below your sample copy.

Take a step back and see how it sits with you. Does it all work well together? If theres something youd
change, what would it be? Throw in your logo on the other side of the banner ad at the top or bottom
corner too. Does your logo still feel unique in relation to your type system? If anything seems off, not
memorable, or underwhelming, go back a step or two and make adjustments. Its OK to swap out fonts
to get to the best result for your brand!

After you get the system feeling just right, its time to call it quits. Your work is done here. And its pure
brand magic.

ADDING THEM TO YOUR BRAND STYLE GUIDE

Woah! Youre almost done! The last step is to add your selected fonts to your brand style guide. Youll
want to list the fonts that you used, and add little labels under each that define how theyll be used for
your brand and blog design. If you like, you could include the sample banner ad and other examples

DE SIGN & L AU NCH YOU R BLOG


38

that showcase how the fonts will be used to your brand style guide. Start a second sheet or make your
brand style guide in a tall format such as 11x17 if you want to include them.

You did it! Congratulations! Now, sit back, admire, and celebrate the beautiful memorable brand that
you just built from scratch for your blog. Give yourself a high-five while youre at it, too. You deserve it.

DE SIGN & L AU NCH YOU R BLOG


Blog Logo

Brand Colors

#A8DACF
#39566E
R: 168 G: 218 B: 207
R: 157 G: 86 B: 110
C: 33 M: 0 Y: 21 K: 0
C: 83 M: 61 Y: 39 K: 20

#A1503E #E48B5C #F9FAF6


R: 161 G: 80 B: 62 R: 228 G: 139 B: 93 R: 249 G: 250 B: 246
C: 27 M: 76 Y: 77 K: 17 C: 8 M: 54 Y: 70 K: 0 C: 2 M: 0 Y: 2 K: 0

Dos & Donts Brand Fonts


Ready to build?
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fonts, graphics, WordPress themes, and many
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creativemarket.com/promocode/designyourblog
and apply the discount to your next purchase!
WORDPRESS

THURSDAY

Understanding
WordPress
Basics
42

The Wonderful those changes can also be widely shared among


users, with no restrictions at all.

World of While WordPress itself is free to download, use,

WordPress
study, and tweak, running the software requires,
at a minimum, a web host capable of supporting
WordPress, and your own domain name. Costs
for these services can range from a few dollars
a month to hundreds of dollars, depending on
UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS
individual needs.

The Rolling Stones use it. So do the Dallas


Mavericks, Xerox, and The New Yorker If setting up your hosting feels overwhelming,
along with millions of other bloggers, GoDaddy provides a simple solution. The web
businesses, and organizations across the hosting giant offers Wordpress plans that remove
globe. Free, endlessly customizable, and the fuss of launching a website. Starting at $5.49
always scalable, the open source site builder per month, you get a free domain, an instant
WordPress powers more than a quarter of Wordpress installation, daily backups (which
the worlds websites. Whether youre a new youll find incredibly useful one day), 24-hour
user or a seasoned web developer, WordPress support and a lot of handy services to make your
has the tools to build your site, your way. life easier.

WORDPRESS.ORG OR
OPEN SOURCE AND ALWAYS FREE WORDPRESS.COM?

WordPress began life back in 2003 as a bit of code Search for WordPress, and youll find both
designed to enhance writing productivity. But in WordPress.org and WordPress.com, which
the years since then, its become a robust content are two different, but related entities offering
management system capable of supporting not WordPress site creation tools. WordPress.org is
just individual blogs and small businesses, but the source for WordPress itself, also known as
leading commercial enterprises and organiza- self-hosted WordPress the files that can be
tions with a worldwide reach. used anywhere, for any purpose. WordPress.org
also offers a wide range of tutorials, FAQs, and
One reason for that widespread success is that user communities for help, sharing, and support.
WordPress is free and open source. Anyone
can download the software and use it for any If you dont need the flexibility and range that
purpose, at no charge. But free also means self-hosted WordPress offers, WordPress.com
much more. Any user can also access the source offers a simpler solution. This site is a commercial
code to make changes and improvements and hosting site powered by WordPress where users

DE SIGN & L AU NCH YOU R BLOG


43

can create a free, basic blog with WordPress.coms limited inventory of available themes, or add more
site-like functionality with a range of paid upgrades. WordPress.com also integrates with self-hosted
WordPress sites, so that users can log into their WordPress installation with a single account and add
WordPress.coms Jetpack plugin to the site for social sharing and a range of other functions.

Although WordPress.com offers a basic blog setup for free, users who want an array of customizable
web features may end up paying more than they would for their own web hosting. Custom domains,
additional themes, and other essential website functions are all paid add-ons in WordPress.com and
if youre trying to create a fully operational website, they can quickly add up.

Whats more, although WordPress.com spares users the work of site maintenance and upkeep, your
site essentially remains on rented real estate. That means that the platform retains some control over
your content and doesnt support certain kinds of sites, such as e-commerce and membership sub-
scription sites, at all.

However, if youre willing to invest a bit of time and effort to work with the self-hosted version of
WordPress, you can get all those functions and many more for the cost of a basic hosting account,
domain name, and any themes and plugins you may choose.

Available from WordPress itself or from third-party developers, these add-on bits of software can be
seamlessly integrated into your installation for jobs such as incorporating an online store, creating
newsletters, social sharing, and more. Additionally, once you have Wordpress installed, its yours to
use as you choose. Youll have total control over your sites look, functionality, and content, as well as
the costs involved.

GETTING STARTED WITH WORDPRESS

Even the way you get started with WordPress is a matter of choice. The only thing needed to begin is an
account with a hosting provider such as GoDaddy that supports WordPress.

If your host doesnt already offer a pre-loaded WordPress install, you can download the file package
from WordPress.org as a ZIP file to your desktop. From there, you can upload the unzipped WordPress
files to your host server via File Transfer Protocol, or FTP. Once the WordPress files are in the
appropriate folder, you can activate the new installation and edit the style sheets to get the look you
want, or build your site with an array of themes and plugins.

Most leading hosting providers do include WordPress and the tools to install it among the many site
development options that come with your account. Install Wordpress easily with any GoDaddy hosting

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account, or have it set up for you by selecting one of their Wordpress specific hosting plans.

Now your site is ready to customize!

Although users at just about any skill level can use WordPress to create an attractive, functional site,
it does require some hands-on work to get your site looking and working as it should. But because
WordPress is so widely used, help is only a forum, blog post, or YouTube tutorial away.

THEMES: CUSTOMIZE THE LOOK OF YOUR SITE

Themes are essentially templates collections of files that contain all of the front end elements
needed to control how your site looks and presents your content to visitors. Although any user can
develop a WordPress site from scratch with custom files, themes can save time and effort.

Once the software is installed and activated on your hosting account, its time to choose a theme.
Themes typically include ready-to-use or easily modifiable styling for such things as fonts, colors, post
types, image placement, and page layouts. Users can select responsive (for viewing on mobile devices)
or static themes and add options such as custom headers, backgrounds, shopping carts, slide shows, or
galleries.

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45

Along with themes developed by WordPress itself, new themes are being developed daily by designers
around the world. You can find a wide range of themes on Creative Market to fit the needs of your site. A
new theme can then be installed on any WordPress site using the Add New button on the WordPress
theme directory page.

Whether a theme comes from WordPress or from another developer, it contains some elements that
can be easily customized directly from the sites dashboard. Others can be edited directly in the theme
files themselves, which are added to your sites folders when you upload the new theme.

Dont like your theme? You can change it at any time by choosing another one. In many cases, you
can preview it live with your sites existing content before you install it. Its important to remember,
though, that elements you customized in an existing theme might not be available in the new one, or
they may have to be edited to accommodate a different layout.

For example, if you were running a theme that included a custom header, your new theme might
require an image of different dimensions, or it might not support that feature at all. Changes are never
permanent, though. If you decide youd rather switch back to your previous theme, you can re-install
it at any time with the click of the mouse. Because themes determine appearance, not content, your

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46

stored posts and pages will display in whatever function to whatever theme is active.
theme you choose to run.
Plugins work behind the scenes to customize
PLUGINS BUILD CUSTOM how your site functions, and its easy to mix and
match them to get the features you need. These
FUNCTIONALITY
standalone bits of code can add slide shows
and galleries, social sharing buttons, pop-ups,
Although some themes and plugins may share
payment portals, and more to both WordPress
features, they have very different jobs to do on
and themes. They can help keep your site secure,
your site. A WordPress sites theme controls how
process online payments, and embed content
its content is presented what visitors will see
from other sites. Like themes, plugins are
when they visit.
available from WordPress itself, or from third-
parties.
But because its so easy to change themes,
WordPress chooses to concentrate essential
WordPress plugins and themes work together to
performance features in plugins that can be
create a sites unique look, feel, and functional-
installed on any theme. For example, if youre
ity. Not all of them work with every WordPress
starting an online store, a shopping cart feature
installation, though. Because WordPress is
attached to your theme might be lost if you
constantly being updated, its important to make
switched to different one. But if you have a
sure your version is compatible with the themes
shopping cart plugin installed, itll add that

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47

or plugins you want to install and those are also being updated regularly. Very new software may
carry a notice that its untested with your version of WordPress, so install it at your own risk.

WORDPRESS IS ENDLESSLY FORGIVING

As open source developers tinker with its functionality, WordPress continues to evolve, so users
receive frequent notifications about upgrading to the newest version. But you can make changes to
your site at any time, too.

If something isnt working or doesnt look right, you can simply delete the offending theme or plugin
and start again, or open your sites source files and adjust the code. Make sure youve backed everything
up first, though. Your host should provide backup for your site files and there are even plugins to do
that as well.

FLEXIBLE, SCALABLE SOLUTIONS FOR EVERYONE

Whether youre a beginning blogger, a Fortune 500 company, or someone in between, WordPress
can work for you. The self-hosted free version provides a basic framework for setting up a site, but its
evolving catalog of themes and plugins allows sites to grow and change. A tiny blog needing only a few
pages can use the same tools as it becomes a major magazine or online store with many additional
elements. For larger enterprises, WordPress also has the tools to develop a more complex site right out
of the box.

WordPress is a user-friendly site builder for people of all levels of experience, and when glitches
and difficulties arise, anyone can get help from a large and growing community of WordPress users,
developers, and designers. Because WordPress is open and free to the whole world, anyone can step up
to offer advice or resources for using and troubleshooting WordPress installations.

For users who simply need a quick web page or two, free hosting with simple drag-and-drop interfaces
might be a better choice. But for complete control over your websites look and feel, and the tools to
keep it growing, the wonderful world of Wordpress may have everything you need.

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WORDPRESS

FRIDAY

How to
Buy a
Domain
& Hosting
50

Plenty of commercial blogging platforms your content and your online reputation.
offer free space to set up a blog, portfolio,
online store or other kind of website. But Establishing your independent web presence
those platforms offer little more than rented begins with registering your domain name. If
real estate. To own your little slice of the you own your domain name, it establishes you
internet, you need only three things: your as a legitimate and reputable entity with staying
own domain name, a hosting account, and power, which is especially important if youre
a site building tool to create your website. hoping to build a business, offer services, or
You can set these up yourself, even if youre a make a name as an authority in your field. Giving
newcomer to the online world. your domain a permanent home with a dedicated
hosting provider such as GoDaddy ensures that
you stay in control of your content and your

Why Own Your


brand.

Domain?
Securing your domain through a domain
registrar and buying a hosting account can
take as little as an hour, once youve done your
homework. GoDaddy offers domain services as
When youre using space on a commercial part of your hosting package, making the process
platform like WordPress or Blogger, your address even easier.
typically looks like this: yourname.host.com.
Youd have to upgrade your account to get a
custom domain name or more features for your
site, but its still owned by the platform. Your Setting Up &
Registering
access to your content depends on the platform,
and that access can change whenever the site

Your Domain
modifies its structure, alters its terms of service,
or establishes new rules.

Commercial platforms can be sold, undergo


Hosting providers like GoDaddy offer a range of
transformations that affect the appearance,
services for your new website: a menu of mix and
performance and even the reputation of your
match tools meet all your setup needs.
site, or simply go out of business. If youre
relying on this kind of website for your online
presence, your content could disappear, along Depending on the nature of your site, you
with any kind of authority and following youve might want to add specialized tools such as
developed. Registering your own domain name e-commerce support, advertising, or integration
and setting up your own site with hosting from a with other platforms, but every hosting package
reputable provider like GoDaddy can safeguard should include a basic set of essential features:

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51

DEDICATED WEBMAIL HOSTING PACKAGES AND COSTS

Your host will provide an email address for Web hosting costs vary widely, and its important
your domain yourname@yourdomain.com. to do the math before committing. Typical
GoDaddy hosting plans can serve up to 1,000 hosting packages cost around $50 per year.
e-mail addresses connected to the domain. Hosting providers frequently offer deep introduc-
tory discounts or months of free service for the
SITE BACKUP TOOLS first year, but costs go back to the standard after
that. Since your host will most likely be your sites
Web hosting can take place at data centers with permanent home on the internet, youll want to
physical servers, or in the cloud. In either case, be sure you can live with those costs over time.
your host will provide tools to back up your site
and recover your data in the event of a crash. Basic hosting usually has a one-year term, payable
in one annual sum, but fees can shrink if you
commit to a multi-year package. Some hosting
SECURITY OPTIONS
plans include one or more free domain names
or discounts on registering names with certain
Your host will provide options for site security
TLDs. Tools outside the basic package can come
on every level. That includes antivirus and spam-
with their own fees, such as integration with
blocking features, as well as other protections
e-commerce sites like Shopify or services offering
such as SSL certificates and secure payment
web analytics.
protection for e-commerce sites.

Many leading hosting providers offer packages


SITE INSTALLATION TOOLS dedicated specifically to setting up a WordPress
site. For example, hosting giant GoDaddy offers
Most leading hosts include an array of site easy to launch WordPress packages ranging from
builders such as WordPress or Drupal that a basic setup that includes a free domain for one
make site creation relatively fast and code-free. site, SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) and
GoDaddy includes one-click installations of more 10GB storage, all the way to a Developer package
than 125 free applications. that includes multiple websites, additional
security features, and 50 GB of site storage.
SUPPORT
For those needing more than the basics, but
Your site is online 24/7, and your tech support fewer features than the full featured Developer
should be too. GoDaddy offers round-the-clock plan, GoDaddy also offers a couple of intermedi-
telephone support. ate WordPress plans that include features such
as an SEO wizard for one or more sites, malware
scans, and one year of free SSL (Secure Socket
Layer) certificates for validating a sites authentic-

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52

ity. Plans are often offered on deep discount for the first year, with standard pricing for renewals after
that.

The Last Piece: Site Building


Tools
Once youve purchased your domain and set up hosting, youll need to get your site up and running.
Site owners with HTML and web development experience may choose to create the site externally and
upload it to the host using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client.

But even if youve never seen a line of code, you can create a working website with your hosts basic
WordPress site building tools. WordPress packages from GoDaddy and other leading providers offer
one-click installation tools and round the clock support and set-up help for any (or all) aspects of
setting up your site. With a theme of your choice in place, all you need to do is add content for your
pages and posts, and your site is ready to meet the world.

Registering your domain name and setting up hosting are the first steps toward building a solid and
independent Web presence. Your own piece of Internet real estate gives your website a permanent
home -- and a solid future.

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WORDPRESS

SATURDAY

How to
Install
a Theme
54

WordPress is one of the most popular Free themes allow you to experiment with the
website building tools in the world, thanks in appearance and features of your blog, but options
large part to its vast array of theme options. for customization can be limited. But to give your
Choosing from the thousands of themes site a unique, professional feel, a premium theme
available both from WordPress.org itself from a trusted theme seller like Creative Market
and third-party developers might seem can provide the licensing options and support
impossible but installing your new theme you need to make your blog look its best.
is easy with your sites dashboard tools.

What are A Visual


WordPress Introduction to
Themes? Your Site
A website theme controls how your sites content
Themes are simply templates; unified collections
is presented online. Your theme tells your sites
of files that control what viewers see when they
visitors a lot about you, your brand, and your
visit a WordPress-powered site. Themes control
content at one glance. A theme thats consistent
a sites colors, fonts, image placement, page and
with your personality and perspective supports
post layout, and more, and users can customize
your message and helps attract like-minded
them from the site dashboard, or by directly
readers.
editing theme files.

Choosing a Many new bloggers begin on platforms like


WordPress.com, Tumblr, or Blogger. These sites

Theme for Your


offer a free basic blog site, but users generally
have a limited list of theme options provided by
the platform. You may not find a theme that fits,

New Blog and you may not be able to customize it much.

For virtually unlimited theme choices, youll


If youre launching a new blog to showcase your need to tap into the power of WordPress.
brand, choosing a theme could be one of the most Wordpress along with many third parties like
important decisions youll make and the right Creative Market offer thousands of themes that
choice depends on your goals, your budget, and can be previewed and installed easily.
your expertise.

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55

The Perfect
Theme Blends
Appearance
and Function
Before you go theme shopping, take time to
consider your blogs purpose and your goals for
its future, as well as your own ability to maintain
the theme you pick.

WHATS YOUR BLOGS PURPOSE?

If your blog is intended as a personal site for


sharing your experiences and ideas, youll
probably be fine with a simple theme that
doesnt require a lot of plugins or maintenance
to keep things running smoothly. But if youre
hoping to make your blog the cornerstone of an
online business, youll want a theme that can
incorporate more functions and reflect your
brand consistently to a worldwide audience.

WHATS YOUR MESSAGE?

The overall look of the theme should instantly


convey your style, your personality, and your
blogs message. A cheerful blog devoted to cookie
recipes needs a very different kind of theme than
one for a business event. Choose themes with
colors, fonts, and layouts that capture your sites
uniqueness.

WHATS YOUR BUDGET?

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56

If youre looking to avoid additional costs, WordPress.org offers plenty of free themes that can be
applied to your site. These free themes offer a way to try on new looks, cost-free. The down-side of free
themes is that they are intended to work as is, with limited options for changes.

Premium themes sold by third parties like Creative Market include additional features such as vast
theme options, different licensing options, customer support, and tutorials on using the themes
features. Theme packages are priced to fit just about any budget and can also include installation and
setup.

WHATS YOUR LEVEL OF EXPERTISE?

If you dont have experience with manipulating theme features, you might prefer a theme that works
straight out of the box, with no adjustments required. But if youre willing to work with your theme to
get it looking and performing right, one with many customizable features and functions might be right
for you.

Dont like your theme after all? You can always change it. But be careful about doing so. Switching
themes can confuse and alienate visitors to your site. With some planning, though, youll be able to
find a theme that you and your blog can live with for years to come.

Ways to Install Themes


Third-party theme files can be uploaded directly to your host server via FTP and stored in your sites
main folders. While thats an option that offers experienced users complete control over the theme,
using the sites dashboard tools is an easier and more direct way to install both third party and native
WordPress themes.

Installing Themes from the


Theme Directory
Your new WordPress installation comes with access to the WordPress.org theme directory, a collection
of mostly free themes in styles ranging from very simple to dramatic and sophisticated.

To view the directory and choose new themes, go to your sites dashboard and scroll to Appearance.

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57

From the dropdown menu that appears, select Themes. From here youll be taken to your sites
Themes page, which shows what themes are currently available and active. At the top of the page, click
the Add New button. Youll be taken to the Add Themes page, which opens the theme directory.
Here, you can browse all themes, search for themes by name, or set custom parameters with the feature
filter.

Click on each themes thumbnail to preview the theme and learn more about its features. If you like it,
click the Install button. Youll be taken to a new page where the theme files are being downloaded.
When the download is complete, youll be prompted to activate the theme or view a preview of it using
your own content first.

Once the theme is activated, you can customize it under the Appearance tab, which allows you to
change any of the themes variables such as color or font. Since the themes master files are now in your
site folder, you can modify them from there as well.

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58

Installing Upload Theme button at the top of the page.

Third-Party
Youll be prompted to browse for the unzipped
theme file youve saved. Once the theme has been

Themes
uploaded and installed, click to activate it, and
the theme will appear on your dashboard, ready
to customize. All the theme files will now be
stored in your site files and can be changed there
Installing commercial themes through your site too if you like.
dashboard is almost as easy as using the theme
directory. When you buy a theme from a third
With so many WordPress themes to choose
party like Creative Market, youll receive a ZIP
from, finding the right one for your site might be
file containing the theme files. Unzip the file and
a challenge. But thanks to the tools built right
save the contents to your desktop or to a folder.
into your WordPress site, installing a theme can
be as easy as clicking a mouse.
From your site dashboard, open Appearance,
select Themes to get to the Themes page, and
then select Add New. Youll be taken to the Add
Themes page. However, instead of selecting
a theme from the theme directory, click the

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WORDPRESS

SUNDAY

How to
Customize
a Theme
60

If youre using WordPress to set up a new website, you can choose from thousands of premium themes
on Creative Market to make it look and perform just the way you want it to. But even the most ideal
theme will need some customizing before it becomes completely yours. Some changes are easy to
make from your sites dashboard, while others might require a visit to the theme files themselves. Un-
derstanding the basics of theme customization can help you find the right strategy for making the
adjustments you need.

Customizing from the


Dashboard
Although youve likely chosen your theme to match your brand and message, even the most appropriate
themes need some customizing. Most obviously, youll need to insert your sites name and tagline, if
needed. Other simple changes might involve switching text and background colors or fonts, or adding a
new background or header image.

These changes can be made instantly through your dashboard by clicking Appearance > Theme
> Customize. All basic changes in appearance offered by the theme can be made here. Sometimes a
theme will also offer a Theme Options section where the developer has arranged all the customizable

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61

variables neatly in one spot. Once you save your appearance and functionality of your sites pages,
changes, theyll appear when you refresh your as well as the languages theyre written in.
page.
HTML, or Hypertext Markup Language,
Some changes can be made by adding plugins drives your sites root directory, or main content
to your site. Plugins generally add or modify file. HTML defines the contents of a document,
the functionality of your site, rather than its such as paragraphs, links and images, and where
appearance. However, you might find installing those objects are placed. HTML can also specify
a plugin for example, to create a gallery that certain aspects of an objects appearance, such as
better displays your images is all you need to color, font, and size, but each item is specified in-
make your theme work exactly as you like. dividually.

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a different


THE LANGUAGES OF STYLE AND language used specifically to control a pages
FUNCTION appearance and display. This file is typically
called something like styles.css or stylesheet.css,
Sometimes these kinds of tweaks dont result and it contains instructions for the way your
in the look you want. To make more complex theme will appear across browsers. The look of
changes, youll need to know a bit about the three your theme is defined by its stylesheet.
different kinds of files that govern the content,

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62

Although its possible to insert CSS into your sites main HTML file (called inline CSS or internal style
sheets), todays developers advocate keeping an external style sheet in its own folder that can be linked
to the sites HTML file. That way, the styles expressed in the style sheet apply across your site, and the
file itself can be easily changed or replaced.

Finally, your site contains several PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) files, designated as .php. PHP is
a programming language that adds functionality that HTML alone cant provide. Its used to create
scripts for dynamic web pages and images. However, customizing your sites look and feel shouldnt
require changes on this level.

CUSTOMIZING WITH CHILD THEMES

Though it may seem daunting to make changes to your sites files, you dont have to be a website
developer or a programmer to work with HTML and CSS. Because these languages form the foundation
of websites everywhere, hundreds of tutorials, courses, and guides are available to introduce users to
the basics. Once youve become familiar with the way code works, youll be able to make modifications
without fear.

To customize your theme from its style sheets, its essential to create a secondary version of that theme,

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63

called a child theme. The child theme is simply a copy of your theme that will contain the changes
you want to make. Making changes to the parent, or original, theme files can pose risks. If that theme
is updated, your changes can be lost, and mistakes you make can affect the sitewide functioning of the
theme. A child theme lets you test out your changes or delete the child theme entirely without affecting
the original theme itself.

To make a child theme, youll need to go to your sites folders, available from the control panel of your
hosting account. Within your main content folder is a subfolder titled Themes, where youll find the
style sheet for your theme. Duplicate this file. Create a new folder for this theme and give it a new name,
such as themename-child.

On your duplicate style sheet, change the theme name to the name of your child theme and make sure
that the parent themes name appears on the line labeled Template. Save this style sheet as style.
css into your new folder. You can now make changes to any part of this file without affecting the
parent theme and activate this modified theme from your dashboards Appearance > Theme option.
Your changes should appear.

Customizing your WordPress theme can involve simple tweaks or sweeping changes but with a
working knowledge of website basics, its possible to turn an almost right theme into one thats
exactly what you need.

Ready to build?
Just visit www.godaddy.com/websites/wordpress
and choose a plan that suits your needs.

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LAUNCH

Blog
Launch
Checklist
66

You practically cant have a blog without these internet and that it is consistent from site to site.
items. Weve prepared a handy list of to-dos to Standards compliance also makes it easier for
check off before you launch: people with special needs to be able to make full
use of the internet.

BASIC ITEMS HTML/JavaScript/CSS validation

Web accessibility (WCAG 1.0, WCAG 2.0,


Domain name secured
Section 508, Disability Discrimination Act,
Logo inserted Screen Reader Compatibility)

Web hosting and SSL certificate setup MARKETING AND SEO

Newsletter subscription in place


Understanding user behavior and how users
interact with your website will give you the
STYLE AND CONTENT information you need to market to these visitors
and help to increase your conversion rate. SEO
The look of your blogs layout strongly affects how works when you know how search engines work
readers relate to your content. Always consider and what keywords people search for. Other
what your page elements will look like in search features like photo, video, chat, and social media
results or on different platforms including mobile interaction enhance the experience for visitors
versions. once they arrive at your site.

Correct symbols and hyphenation


Use keywords in titles and content

Proofread texts and checked grammar


Filled description meta tag for important
pages
Text styling

Guaranteed redirect to chosen website


List styling
version
No broken links
Google Analytics or other web analytics
Favicon added system in place

XML sitemap uploaded


STANDARDS AND VALIDATION
Call to action buttons in place
Having a set of standards and validation will
help ensure that everyone has access to the Chat. Make the path from your client to you
information that is being provided on the

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67

the shortest. Images and graphics optimization

Social media buttons Check and release caching where needed

Real photos if possible


REQUIRED PAGES
Reviews and testimonials
There are a few pages that every blog needs to
have. Surprisingly, many companies do not even
SECURITY have about us or contact us pages on their
website. These are quite basic but very important
Internet security is an important aspect of your pages for a company hoping to connect with their
website. Maintaining recommended guidelines customers. How else do you tell them who you are
can be a challenge in the constantly evolving and how to get in touch with you?
arena of web security.

404 Page
Set up backups
About Us Page
Check users accessibility to secret or
hidden pages Contact Us Form

Robots.txt. Close the accessibility to secret Privacy Policy Page


or hidden pages for search engines using
robots.txt TECHNICAL PART

Check your hosting servers capacity


With todays dominance of mobile and other
devices regularly being used for internet use, it is
Turn on email and/or SMS notifications on
important that your website can respond to each
server shutdown
device appropriately. This means that your site
looks good at any size, always at high resolution
PRODUCTIVITY quality, and features user-friendly icons and
buttons like the popular hamburger menu.
Optimizing images can provide some significant
byte savings and improvements to your website Responsive layout
performance. Getting data over a network can be
slow and if responses are too slow then it becomes Retina display ready
an annoyance for your visitor. The ability to cache
and reuse previously obtained information is a Hamburger menu on mobile devices
critical aspect of optimizing for site performance.

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68

FRONT-END PART

The front-end of a website is the visual and


interactive part of the site that the user sees. This
includes colors, font styles, images, menus, and all
the other elements that make up the overall visual
experience. The information should be easy to
read and appealing as well as current and modern
in style.

Clear and user-friendly navigation

CSS animations added

No flash elements

Icons customized

DE SIGN & L AU NCH YOU R BLOG


LAUNCH

How to
Build a
Following
10
Comma ndments
TO BUILDING A BLOG FOLLOWING

Identify your core demo or target readers Keep a regular cadence

Cross-promote and be an active Turn readers into subscribers


community member

Respond to comments on your own site! Optimize for organic search

Invite influencers or guests to post Take advantage of paid search

Create compelling content that is worth Have a social media presence


reading or subscribing to
71

1. IDENTIFY YOUR CORE DEMO OR TARGET READERS

The first step to building your audience is to understand who your audience is. Identify your core
demographic by asking these questions:

Where do your potential readers hang out online?


What topics are they passionate about?
What other blogs do they read?

Once youve got an understanding of who you should be targeting, where they hang out, and what
they care about, begin to craft content that will speak to that audience. Starting with a niche target
audience will help you gain traction quicker than a broader approach to begin with. Marketing expert
Shane Snow explains, Casting a wide net can be good for generating [short-term] traffic, but with a
glut of reading options on the web, passionate blog followers gravitate toward hyper-specific publica-
tions. Thats one of the reasons many niche media sites are growing while mainstream publications
bleed readers.

2. CROSS-PROMOTE AND BE AN ACTIVE COMMUNITY MEMBER

If youve made it as far as to create your own personal blog, its likely youre already active online.
Reading, commenting, and sharing content from related blogs is a great way to cross-promote and
capture some already-engaged-eyeballs. Leave comments that share your distinct point-of-view with
other people in your niche community. This will help you build a brand within your field, and naturally
encourage others to visit your blog to hear more about what you have to say. Forbes business expert
Jacquelyn Smith sums it up well: Be a part of the conversation, both on your blog and of others in your
industry.

3. RESPOND TO COMMENTS ON YOUR OWN SITE!

A sign of engaging, relevant content? Comments! When people start reading your blog, they will want
to comment. If they do, its important to take the time to respond to comments. Doing so helps foster a
sense of community and interaction, which in turn encourages more comments.

Conversing in the comments section also shows that theres a human behind the content and that
you believe in what you wrote (or, alternatively, that youre willing to fix any errors). Social Media
expert Kristi Hines explains the importance of commenting back saying, Allowing visitors to leave
comments on your blog turns a site with informational articles into a community. Visitors will know
they can ask the author questions and interact with other readers, making them more likely to return.

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72

Win-win! What information can I provide that people arent


finding elsewhere?
4. INVITE INFLUENCERS OR GUESTS What would you want to find in your inbox?
Is this topic relevant?
TO POST

Publishing guest posts from influencers in your Sharing your point of view on current events
industry is a great way to add expertise and build is a surefire way to get clicks and shares with
credibility for your blog. Guests are also likely friends everyone wants to be in the know. In
to share your blog with their own audience an interview with Mashable, marketing expert
naturally growing your own. Some good formats Annie Chen explains, Be relevant, interesting,
for guest posts include interviews, guest blogs, or and digestible By giving people stories that are
thought pieces. easy to click and share, youll instantly increase
your reach.

Be strategic in your outreach. Choose influencers


who have a large social media following or who Keeping an eye on pageviews or social reactions
typically have controversial opinions. These is another way to gauge interest in your topics.
will generate clicks and propel the ripple effect of Double down on ones that seem to resonate with
social shares. your audience.

Another tactic is to compile a longer piece that 6. KEEP A REGULAR CADENCE


incorporates feedback or quotes from many
influencers. Start by writing a semi-controversial People want to know what they can expect from
post that highlights thought leaders in the space. you, and they want you to meet those expecta-
Before you publish the piece, send it over to the tions. Try to post 24 times a week so you stay
influencers included and ask for their opinion or top-of-mind with your audience.
stamp of approval. Once someone knows theyve
been included, or are asked their opinion, they 7. TURN READERS INTO
become invested and are more likely to contribute
SUBSCRIBERS
or share the finished piece.

Once people get to your blog, make it easy for


5. CREATE COMPELLING CONTENT them to subscribe to it! Optimize your page by
THAT IS WORTH READING OR adding a call-to-action button like, Want to be
the first to know? Subscribe to My Blog.
SUBSCRIBING TO

This one might seem obvious: Create and share Email signup, social media widgets, and RSS feed
content worth reading on your blog. Before sitting call-to-actions will ensure youve covered all your
down to write a post, ask yourself: bases. These are key to turning one-time viewers
into regular readers.

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8. OPTIMIZE FOR ORGANIC SEARCH

Search engine optimization can seem daunting at first, but once you understand the basics youll be
glad you did.

Do some basic keyword research into your target niche and uncover topics you should be writing
about. You can also use the SEOYoast plugin to make sure your content is optimized from a technical
standpoint. Finally, adding internal links to other posts helps to decrease bounce rate and increase
page authority further improving your blogs optimization.

9. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PAID SEARCH

If youre serious about building an audience, consider spending budget on acquiring followers via
Facebook or Google ads.

Both platforms allow for you to easily test ads: change up the CTAs you use and target different demo-
graphics across multiple ads. Then, based on each ads performance, ramp up what is working for you.
As Neil Patel explains, Paid search has been a measurable, effective way to market for years.

Both Facebook and Google have great resource centers and make it easy to understand what ads are
performing.

10. HAVE A SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

In todays world, having a social media presence is essential to building a personal brand. Employ
the 80/20 strategy: 80 percent of your posts should share other content, like related posts and media.
Then, dedicate 20% of your time to promoting your own work. This will ensure you arent bombarding
your followers accounts with self-promotion while still building your brand and audience.

Be smart about where you spend your time. Think back to step 1: where does your audience naturally
hang out? If youre in the business space, Twitter and LinkedIn will be more effective than Instagram.
Spend your time strategically on the platforms that matter.

Pro tip: utilize features like pin to top of page to showcase your top-converting posts. Utilize all the
features these platforms have built out for businesses. Dont forget old-fashioned outreach!

Following these 10 commandments will help you strategically build your blog audience, but you should

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never overlook the importance of old-fashioned outreach. Reaching out to related blogs with a short,
conversational introduction can lead to many opportunities down the road. At the end of the day,
building a blogging community is all about building relationships.

Finally, make sure to track any spikes in traffic to tactics you implemented, and do more of what worked.
Dont be afraid to pivot your strategy or target audience after six months, and most importantly dont
get defeated. Resist the temptation to water down your content. Double down on POVs that seem to
have worked and continue to build your personal brand.

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How to
Create
a Press
Kit
76

If youre reading to take your blog and brand punchy 3-5 sentences and dont forget to show
to the next level, consider creating a press your personality!
kit. Press kits are a good way to present your
blog and brand in a concise, clear, and profes- 2. EXAMPLES OF TOP PERFORMING
sional manner. They also help journalists and CONTENT
publishers do their job by giving them easy sound
bites, logos, images and necessary information In your press kit, you want to show off the best
all in a single package. content youve created. The idea is to surface
your best creations so that people dont have
Not sure what a press kit is, or how to create one? to go searching for them. Pick pieces that will
Weve got you covered. showcase both your broad and focused POV
this can be content youve published elsewhere,

What is a Press
or links to your own website.

Kit?
3. NOTABLE PARTNERSHIPS

Tell people about who youve worked with to


build your credibility. You should also include
A press kit, also known as a media kit, is a page awards and accolades in this section. Ginny
on your website that contains resources and Soskey at Shareaholic says, Potential clients
information for reporters, publishers, or anyone will want to know if your past relationships align
who wants to write about or promote your with their brand or if youve previously worked
blog or brand. A press kit can exist as a landing with a competitor.
page or downloadable PDF, and it shows a
polished personal brand by presenting the most 4. AUDIENCE NUMBERS
important information in a way that is easy to
digest and understand. Do you have an impressive social following?
Impressive organic growth? Highlight any of
these numbers here. This is especially important
WHATS IN A PRESS KIT?
if you are looking to monetize your blog via
advertising. After a few months, you can begin
If you are creating a press kit, youll want to
reporting your best metrics. (Is your bounce rate
make sure it contains a few essential items. Here
low? Do you have a high number of pageviews?
are some basics to consider:
Unique visitors?) Including these numbers helps
to establish credibility and reach.
1. ELEVATOR PITCH OR STORY

5. TESTIMONIALS
Your elevator pitch and story should be a
summary of what you, your blog, and your brand
Ask happy community members to write you a
is all about. Distill all this down into a concise,

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77

testimonial. They can explain why they like your


brand or what they enjoy about doing business
with you. These also add personality to your
brand which never hurts!

6. CTA

Want people to do something once theyve looked


at your press kit? Include that in a call to action.
Make sure you spell out what the best way is to
reach you for opportunities, as well as if youre
open to guest posts or advertising.

7. LARGE, HIGH-RES IMAGES OF YOUR


LOGO AND BRANDING

Make it easy for anyone to use your logo by


providing them with high-resolution options in
your press kit. Also, include any other relevant
photos! Just like a good blog post, imagery helps
the reader by blocking up the text and drawing in
interest.

Pro tip: include logos with a transparent


background. It will make them easy to use for
many purposes.

Press kits are a great way to condense your brand


messaging into one landing page or PDF. Doing so
reduces the friction of finding out all the relevant
information while removing the need for people
to do any guesswork around what your POV is and
what your strongest pieces are.

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