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How to start a blog: 10 pro tips

Want to learn how to start a blog that stands out among the thousands of others? Simply follow this expert advice.

The web, and in particular the blogosphere, is a crowded place. With so many blogs out there, it's important to make sure you know how to start a blog that stands out from the crowd in more ways than one. And the basics of a brilliant blog start with the design.

The first thing your readers see when they visit your site needs to be eye-catching and engaging. It needs to be attractive, creative, and clever. But more than that, your blog design needs to speak to your readers. It needs to tell them why you're different, what you're offering, and why they should take the time to read on.

So, do you need to know how to start a blog that will attract and enthrall? Here are seven tips that will get you started then take your offering from interesting to inspirational...

01. Choose a blogging platform

There are a huge number of templates available to you on Squarespace

There are several blogging platforms out there from traditional mainstays Blogger and Wordpress to relative upstarts Tumblr, Squarespace and Ghost – or if you're feeling bold and know your code you can create your blog from scratch. Which platform you choose will very much depend on what you're most comfortable using, how involved you want to be with the creation process, and what you plan to put on it.

The good news is that most of these platforms are either free or have a trial session so you can give it a whirl and see if it suits you.

02. Decide upon content

You want to learn how to start a blog, but do you know what you want a blog for in the first place? Blogging for the sake of blogging is pointless and you'll soon get bored and your carefully crafted site will soon be home to nothing but tumbleweed.

Sometimes it is a good idea to grab a pad and pen before you even start and jot down the types of blog posts you'd like to be publishing, and it will always be a reference point you can come back to if the ideas seem to have dried up. Only then should you move on - you know how to start a blog, now it's time to design and populate it...

03. Keep things simple

How to start a blog - simple
'Looks Like Good Design' (http://lookslikegooddesign.com/) keeps things simple, making its design stunningly effective

When creating a design blog, it can be tempting to go crazy. After all, you want your blog to stand out and people to remember you. How harmful can a rainbow of colours and a plethora of fonts be?

The answer is: very!

Keep your blog design simple. Stick to no more than three colours, and three fonts. With fonts; you need a heading, subheading and body copy font. Your main text font can then be enhanced by different weights or attributes, but keep these to a minimum.

04. Use contrasting colours

How to start a blog - colours
The design of The Fox is Black - http://www.thefoxisblack.com/ - is based on a simple black and red colour scheme

Don't go crazy, and keep to a simple colour scheme. Contrasting colours can work well in the right design. It's a good rule of thumb that your blog features a main primary colour, a shade of grey, and a colour for your call-to-action.

05. Embrace white space

How to start a blog - white space
The 'Lovely Package' blog - http://lovelypackage.com - isn't afraid to make use of white space

When finding inspiration before you create a design blog, don't be afraid of white space. On the contrary, white space can really enhance your design and keep it looking professional.

Don't be afraid to leave some parts of the design empty where it warrants it. You should also use white space as borders to help highlight key parts of the blog. Remember, sometimes less really is more.

06. Keep your design goal-driven

How to start a blog - goal driven
The blog of web design education resource Treehouse features a prominent call-to-action

Is the purpose of your blog is to get conversions - whether that's sales, sign-ups, or enquires? If that's the case, then everything else comes second. This means you should create a design blog that is designed with three things in mind:

  • Topic: what is your blog about?
  • Value proposition: what makes it unique?
  • Audience: who is your main target audience?

To get conversions your design blog needs a strong call-to-action in its design. Be that headlines, prominent buttons, or even arrows. A goal-driven design will help your blog convert, and keep visitors coming back time and time again.

07. Follow conventions

How to start a blog - conventions
The Superdream blog - www.superdream.co.uk/blog - makes its posts easy to navigate

It can be easy to forget about the important features of a blog when getting creative with the design. Whatever your blog ends up looking like, make sure you keep the main conventions of a blog in place. These include:

  • Sidebars
  • Headers
  • Subscription options
  • Author attribution
  • Search bars

These all make your design blog easy to navigate which is a highly important feature. Keeping these elements in place will make your content easy to find, and keep your visitors on the blog for longer. Together, all this adds up to a goal-driven design.

08. Experiment

How to start a blog - experimant
Typography blog Typeeverything - http://typeverything.com/ - has taken an experimental approach to its top-level navigation

Although for the most part it's important to follow conventions, it's also important to break the rules from time to time!

Your design blog is what you make it. It's your outlet for your thoughts, feelings, and expertise. That means you shouldn't be afraid to play about with the rules of design.

Try a few new elements, and experiment with colours, fonts, and placement. By mixing things up, you create a visually exciting experience for your audience. Just make sure that your readers can always find your posts, and exactly what they're looking for.

09. Make it responsive

With three million mobile web users and counting, your design blog will be missing out on vital traffic – and goal completions – if it's not responsive. Work closely with a designer and developer to help produce a design that is both eye-catching and functional.

Your blog is what you make it, and it's important you keep your personality in there. By following these tips, you can help get your blog off the ground and get people talking.

10. Promote it!

There is no point in knowing how to start a blog without learning how to promote it too... This is where social media comes into its own. Create Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages for your blog, or use existing accounts to shout about it. If you are involving a lot of images in your blog, why not set up Pinterest and Instagram accounts too.

Most modern blogging platforms such as Squarespace provide integration for everything from Twitter and Instagram to Tumblr and Dribbble, so you can spread the message quickly and effectively.

Words: Craig Stewart/Superdream

Craig Stewart is managing editor of Creative Bloq. Superdream is a leading creative agency, specialising in website design. If your blog could do with a lick of paint, speak to their team of designers today to see what they can do for you.

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