Starting a blog seems pretty simple: you have a burning issue you want to talk about, and you write. Right?
Not so fast. If you’re serious about blogging, it’s worth putting some thought into your blog “brand”— that is, how the blog will look and feel. Creating brand guidelines lets people know who you are and what you do. It helps create consistency with your approach to the blog and signals that this is your blog, not someone else’s.
Think of it this way: you’re in the school cafeteria, and you’re wondering which group to sit with. The way each group looks and the personality they each present helps you to decide if it’s a group you want to be with. Similarly, your blog’s brand will help you attract the kind of readers you’re looking for. The brand is a signal to your potential readers that you’re the table at which they want to sit down.
It’s a good idea to consider your blog’s brand before you start building or writing anything. Try creating brand guidelines (a document that explains how your blog looks and feels) and an explanation of why you want your blog to appear this way. This ensures that the image you present as a blogger is consistent.
It also helps to ensure that anyone who works with you on your blog, from guest writers to developers to advertisers, will hire you for jobs that fit with your blog’s personality.
Whether you start creating brand guidelines or not, your blog will have a visual identity. As soon as someone lands on your blog, they will form an opinion about it based on how it looks. That’s why it’s best to control what you can.
The elements of your visual identity include:
Logo and masthead: A logo is a way for readers to remember you and your blog and a masthead or banner image runs along the top of the page. It indicates that this is a publication to take seriously.
Brand colors: Your brand should have a color palette that includes a dominant color and one or two accent colors. Consider adding an action color for links and buttons.
Imagery: What type of image will you use on your blog? Are you a black-and-white photo kind of person or do you want to dabble in cartoons? Do you want stock images or original work? A consistent approach to images elevates your blog.
Fonts: You’d be surprised how much personality a typeface can bring to a blog. Consider not just how it looks but how easy it is to read. Are you fun and flirty? Serious and literary? Whatever your choice, there’s a font for that.
How you sound
A brand is not just found in the look and feel of the blog. It’s also in how you sound. When creating brand guidelines, consider your tone of voice. Your tone is the written reflection of your visual brand. It helps you to connect with the right people.
For example, the tone of voice for a teen lifestyle blog will be very different from that of a DIY blog. Thinking about how you definitely don’t want to sound can help. Some different approaches are aspirational as opposed to authentic and instructional versus entertaining.
You may want to create editorial guidelines to make this clear. Editorial guidelines will be a good reminder of what tone of voice you want to use. If you have or want to have multiple writers for your blog, having clear guidelines will ensure a consistent writing style no matter who authors the post.
Taking time to create brand guidelines and consider how you want your blog to look, feel, and sound will help get your blog off to a great start.
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