Starting a blog is not easy - BUT it doesn't have to be super complex either! When it comes down to it, you need to do four major things before you get your new blog out there. Everything else is just gravy and can be tweaked and refined later.
The four things you have to do to start a blog are:
Today I'll walk you through how I went through these four steps with Femtrepreneur and how you can apply them to starting your own blog (whether it's your first, second, or third!).
One day in June 2014, I was eating tacos with my boyfriend and said that I bet I could start a much better blog now if I started from scratch, compared to when I started blogging 3 years ago.
I was buying us lunch with some money I had made from my blog that month, and I felt like I was finally starting to really “get” this whole blogging economy and ecosystem.
Everything just started to gel, and I could see how successful blogs were built, designed, and maintained, and what it took to get there. I had this feeling that I could do in 6 months what had taken me 3 years of trial and error with my first blog.
So I got to work on Femtrepreneur, an idea that had been floating around in my head for months. I asked my boyfriend if he thought the name was too cheesy, but he said it had exactly the right amount of cheese (I hope he was referring to the blog name and not the tamales in his mouth).
Here’s how I got Femtrepreneur off the ground. If you’re new to blogging or about to start another new blog, this is how to go from nothing to launch without losing your mind (or second guessing every little thing and putting off your new blog launch). Perfection is my enemy and should be yours too.
I must warn you, it’s all too easy to get stuck in the “research” phase of launching your new website, blog, and business. You spend hours and hours looking at everyone else’s stuff and before you know it you’re wondering why you’re even trying to do your own thing.
This is going to sound really dumb: before I started “researching” ideas for what I wanted Femtrepreneur to be and feel like, I didn’t think there was much else out there like it. I knew about the big-name internet business dudes, but I didn’t really know about any ladies. (This is crazy - because there are tons of cool business ladies online).
But that’s why I wanted to start this blog, to highlight the ladies. I quickly realized there were tons of other awesome business ladies with tons of helpful business blogs out there, as long as you know where to look. This gave me a good idea of what was already out there, what wasn’t, and the gap I’d be filling.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
Do your research, but put a timer on it. Say you’re only going to “research”, pin, obsess, and go down that rabbit hole for a week or two at most. Then focus on YOU and your stuff.
In my research I saw a lot of websites with similar looks and feels, and I knew I wanted to do something a little different.
I know that most business coach websites or blogs with similar content to mine had the header with the fun photo of the lady on top, the opt-in box right under that, and then content below for a reason: that layout really WORKS. It converts.
But, I was still on the fence about how much “me” the site was going to be about, and I wanted my branding to stand out. So I decided to do a simple header, and really highlight the content.
I gathered my inspiration for the design on Pinterest and in real life.
The week that my boyfriend (also my graphic designer) and I were going to start working on the site, we went to a Mid-Century Modern exhibit at a museum, and got really inspired by the fonts, colors, and materials we saw there. That MCM style - the colors, the birch wood grain, and the simplicity - is apparent in the final design. I wanted it to recall those elements without looking “retro” or “vintage”.
I’m not going to lie, it took A LOT of trial and error before I approved the design as you see it now. There were fights about color schemes and font choices. I’m happy with it now.
Ultimately, when it comes to design I just go with my gut. My boyfriend, who is more technically trained in graphic design, was concerned I was breaking some “rules”, but I went with what felt right.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
Come up with a design that is simple, unique, and represents YOU. Don't try to make the fanciest, most elaborate blog design. Choose a few simple colors and fonts and focus on the content. Your website should be a reflection of you, but your content is where you'll really shine.
I spent a month writing 10,000 words a day (yes, 10,000). This was an extension of the previous 6 months, during which I wrote a 500 page book. I was so used to writing so much every single day, that it didn’t seem like a big deal. It had become a habit at that point, and I was just trading in one topic for another when I started working on content for Femtrepreneur.
I wrote about 35 long-form, super-informative articles. I wanted to have a nice buffer of content, because I knew once I “launched” there would be a lot of other tasks going on as well. I was also just feeling super inspired, motivated, and full of tons of ideas.
Now, I tend to write 1-2 posts each week. It’s much more manageable. I still write 10,000 words a day - but some of those words become content for eBooks, courses, clients, sales pages, copy, etc.
Before I began creating content, I came up with a list of categories and topics I was going to write about it. Of course, it all pertains to business and entrepreneurship, but I came up with some specific topics (like selling vintage online and making money blogging) and ideas for future posts.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
Come up with 3-4 categories your going to talk about on your blog. Now write a few posts for each category so that you have some content in the que for when you launch your blog. You want to have at least a few awesome articles lined up at all times - that way you can still post when you're behind on writing and you can fill up your blog with awesome content from day one.
I use an editorial calendar to get this all organized, you can download my free 12 month editorial calendar for bloggers here.
When I was officially ready to show people Femtrepreneur, I was in the XoSarah Blog Club and E-Course so those babes were the first to see. I got some exposure from Sarah who mentioned my new site (which she had lots of input on during the design phase!) on Twitter.
I focused my energy on using Twitter to get initial traffic and followers. I added lots of fun people that were right up my alley and got to chatting.
I was so confused about Twitter at first. Then I started to treat it like a big public texting situation - and I began making new friends.
Basically, I could text anyone who I thought was cool or badass and let them know in a public way. I’ve been using Twitter like this since then and it’s worked really well. Just let it be fun and pretend like you’re texting your new crush. (If I tweet at you I probably have a girl crush on you!).
Once I had a few blog posts up, I started posting those on Twitter in a rotation. In the Badass Babes E-Course, Sarah recommended doing at least 5-10 tweets a day, so 3 promotional tweets (about blog posts or products), 2 personal tweets in between, and then just random stuff throughout the day. I set up Buffer so that I could actually keep up and just bang out a week’s worth of tweets in one sitting.
I spent time designing a recognizable, branded series of blog post graphics optimized for Pinterest, and created a new one for each blog post. I pin those to Pinterest when I post a new article and that is my second biggest source of traffic. I actually had an image and corresponding blog post “go viral” on Pinterest this month - which was awesome. I got an email from Pinterest about how popular it was getting. Honestly it happened by chance, there’s no “system” I know of for getting viral on Pinterest (yet!).
After a couple of weeks, once I had a few more posts up on the blog, I was mentioned on another bigger blog which sent some traffic my way.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
Once you get the ball rolling, I suggest focusing on guest posting just as much as you post on your own blog. Choose one or two social media channels and really rock them. Don't spread yourself too thin - just focus on where your audience hangs out. It won't happen overnight but it will happen!
Setting up, designing, preparing and launching a blog is definitely a big (fun) job, but you don’t have to get caught up in the details. You’ll have plenty of time after you launch to tweak, fix, and refine your website. I get a lot of emails from people spending months and months working on their blog before it’s “ready” to be shared. But the faster you get it out there, the faster you can respond to your readers comments and get some feedback!