The DIY Blog Designer

Whether because of budget or other reasons, you are planning on designing your blog yourself from start to finish.

Well, if you want to make the process easier and more efficient then this checklist and guide are aimed at you.

DIY + Designer Support

You want to get your blog up and running quickly and then learn to edit and manage it at your own pace.

This checklist and guide are aimed at helping you get properly prepared so the blog design process is smooth & fast.

I'm Hiring a Designer

You are leaving the whole blog design process in the hands of a professional blog designer.

This checklist and guide will help you work better with your blog designer and give your designer what they need to do a great job!

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin

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INTRODUCTION

The purpose of creating this Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide is to help you to achieve a smoother blog design process.

Success in any endeavor, and life too, often comes down to how prepared you are.

When it comes to designing a blog, following the steps on the blog checklist will help you ensure you've got a good foundation.

BTW: This Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide is also quite applicable to company Websites and eCommerce Stores.

 

1. Defining Your Blogging Goals, Purposes & Niche.

FREE Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide 1Image by Marisa04 from Pixabay

This first blog design checklist step could very well be the most important step.

The 'Why' & The 'What' for Your Blog

Understanding why you want to design a blog and what your goals are will serve to guide all the other steps.

You need to know why you want to start a blog. You must also define what you want to achieve.

If you plan to design your own blog then you need to have the above as a point of reference or a way to keep your design focused.

If you are planning on hiring a blog designer, then you ought to give them the same.

Blog Purpose & Value

What are your visitors going to expect from your blog?

Knowing who your audience is and what their expectations are is vital to the success of your blog.

You need to know 'Who' and 'Why' and so does your blog designer, even if it is you.

What are You Blogging About?

Your blog needs content. You need to be clear on what that content focuses on.

Knowing the topic can also help your designer to do a better job. They will be able to look at other successful examples of similar blogs.

So step #1 on your Blog Design Checklist is to define:

  • Why do you want to start a blog? (Money, fame, helping others, etc.)
  • What purpose does your blog fulfill, from the point of view of your visitors? (Entertainment, learning, solutions, etc.)
  • What goals do you want your blog to achieve? (Income, traffic, number of people helped, etc.)
  • What Niche, Industry or Topic does your blog focus on? (Travel, fitness, business, etc.)

Regardless of whether you are choosing to design your blog yourself or you are hiring a professional blog designer, it is important for both you and your designer to understand your goals and motivations.

 

2. How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Blog.

FREE Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide 2Image by GordonW

Your domain name is the address where people find your blog, website or eCommerce store.

How you go about choosing your domain name can have an impact on your blog.

Thus, it is a vital step in this blog checklist.

Choosing a Keyword-Based Domain Name

A popular method for choosing a domain name is to include a keyword related to your blog niche or topic.

This, in theory, can help with rankings. Of course, it really only works of your content is exceptional. Or you have little to no competition.

In a world full of competition, it can still give you a slight edge.

Brandable Domain Names

Brandable domain names are those names which are catchy and easy to remember.

They usually roll off your tongue in a smooth manner and are uncomplicated and short.

Typically, they are made up names or are obscure forgotten words with relevant meaning.

Personal Domain Names

Many people use their own name as their domain name.

If you are happy to become your own brand and your name is fairly unique then this could be a good option.

Personal domain names can be quite brandable. They are often easier to acquire so long as your name isn't John Smith.

Domain Name Length

Another important factor in choosing a domain name is its length.

Generally speaking, shorter domain names are better.

This is because they tend to be easier to remember. Google also appears to favor shorter domains. Probably because when you start to add pages to your site, your page addresses can get a bit long.

Staying beneath 12 - 13 characters and no more than 2 words is optimum. This is however not a hard and fast rule, just a guideline.

.Com versus the TLD World

Firstly. TLD stands for Top-Level Domain.

A top-level domain (TLD) is one of the domains at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet.

.Com is the most popular TLD of them all. As such it is not always easy to find great domain names that are not already registered.

Because of this, many people have chosen to use other TLDs such as .co, .net and a host of other options.

.Com is the most recognizable Top Level Domain. First prize is registering a .com.

If your chosen name is a must-have and is registered by someone else you can either try to purchase it (can be ridiculously expensive). Otherwise, you will have to use another TLD.

If you use another TLD just make sure the .com domain is not an active site. Sharing the same brand as someone else is not going to help you stand out and could even land you in hot water.

Tips for Getting the Domain You Want

It is important to remember that your domain name cannot contain any punctuation or spaces in it.

It can, however, contain dashes and numbers. (Just don't overdo the numbers or dashes as it can make your domain look less trustworthy.)

Also, remember... DO NOT CHOOSE A DOMAIN THAT CONTAINS A REGISTERED OR TRADEMARKED BRAND'S NAME IN IT! You could land yourself in hot water.

If the name you want is taken and it is a bit more generic or keyword-based you can try adding additional words to it.

For example, you can add 'my', 'the', 'a' or 'pro'. Then check if the name is available.

Step #2 on your Blog Design Checklist then is:
  • Come up with several domain name options.
  • Check them for keyword inclusion, branding or personalization.
  • Assess the domain name length.
  • See which domain names are available as .com or other TLDs.
  • Register a domain name.

Step #2 & #3 on the blog design checklist can be combined, so keep reading. Or you can click here to go straight to my web hosting recommendations and step-by-step setup guide.

 

3. Getting the Right Web Hosting Account for Your Blog.

FREE Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide 3Image from rawpixel.com

Every blog, website and eCommerce store needs a hosting account.

This is where the files, and content that make up your blog live.

11 Essential Web Hosting Features

When it comes to choosing a web host, there are plenty of options.

However, not every hoster is the same. Some are better than others.

When I look for a web hoster I want to see that a number of essential features are covered.

Here they are...

1. Storage & Bandwidth Capacity - It is important that you get a hosting account that gives you enough storage space and bandwidth. This will allow you to grow your site without having to constantly upgrade.

2. SSL Encryption - SSL (HTTPS) encryption should be standard. Google does not like unencrypted sites and neither do your visitors.

Your web host must support SSL certificates. If they include LetsEncrypt SSL automatically then its a bonus. You can always upgrade to a paid SSL later if you want.

3. Multiple Domains & Sub-Domains - Next, you should have the ability to add several domains and sub-domains to your hosting account.

This allows you to expand your blog or website across sub-domains or set up a copy of your main website to test changes if you wish.

4. Developer Features - This is not as technical as it sounds. You just need some basics in place.

Your hosting account must give access to the latest versions of PHP and MySQL and allow you to have multiple databases and FTP access.

5. Speed Optimizations - Everyone likes a fast loading website, which is why Google ranks fast loading websites higher than slower sites.

If your web hoster offers multiple speed enhancements then you are usually looking at a great host. Personally, I've found A2 Hosting to be one of the fastest options around.

6. eCommerce Support - Most good hosters do offer eCommerce support. It's always good to check though. You never know when you will decide to start selling online.

7. App Installation Tools - The last thing you want to have to do are scary technical installations of software and apps. You will want to make sure your web host includes an auto app installer like Softaculous to make your life easier.

8. Email Accounts - You are going to need one or more email accounts for your blog. Make sure your web host supports adding multiple email accounts with spam protection.

9. Security & Reliability - Hackers are very real. Make sure your hoster has good security in place and an uptime guarantee.

The last thing you want is your website getting hacked or your site going down when you've just launched a new marketing campaign.

10. Customer Support - You will want to be able to get in touch with your hoster easily. They should have a good reputation for supporting their customers and offer it 24/7/365.

11. Great Value for Money - Last but not least. Your web hoster should offer great value for money. Expensive does not always mean better value, just as cheap does not mean cost-effective. A price point somewhere in between usually means value for money.

Thus, step #3 on your Blog Design Checklist is:
  • Make sure your web hoster has the right features.
  • Make sure they offer good support.
  • Make sure they offer great value for money.
  • Buy a hosting account. You will need it before you can design your blog.
  • Save your account login details in a safe place. Your blog designer will need them.

Click here for a complete step-by-step guide to getting a web hosting account with my recommended web hoster.

 

4. How to Create a Basic Brand Identity for Your Blog.

FREE Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide 4Image by GordonW

All the steps in the Blog Design Checklist are pretty essential. However, step number 4 of the Blog Checklist is definitely one of the most important steps. Especially when it comes to your blog design.

Branding is about creating recognition & trust to increase communication.

To do this you need to define a consistent visual identity as a bare minimum.

You will need a logo, a brand color palette, and a basic font usage guide.

Putting this together is not as difficult as you might think. You need not spend a fortune on professional branding consultant just to start your blog or website.

What is Your Brand all about?

This is the first step and you need not over-think it either.

A simple way to do this is to identify your character and who your audience is.

Is your brand fun, conservative, playful, humorous, etc. Is your audience, largely men or woman or a bit of both, Young or old, wealthy or middle class, etc.

Remember, branding is what makes your blog, or your business more human and thus allows for interaction. If you are your brand then you need to define 'you'.

Again, don't overdo this step, you just need a basic idea to get started and you can evolve your brand over time.

What Color Palette will suit your Brand Identity & Audience?

Color plays an important role in branding because of its power to communicate.

Different colors can communicate different things. The brightness or dullness of your colors affects mood.

One of the best ways to select your color palette is to use a color selection tool.

I like to use Adobe Color, which is free to use. You can even get a free account which will allow you to save color palettes and import and export them too.

Your Logo - The Key to Your Blog's Brand Identity

If you a taking the time to read this blog checklist & prep guide, then you are probably quite serious about designing your blog the right way.

Having a logo that people can easily recognize and associate with your blog is important if you want to grow your blog.

Now when you are just starting out, there is really no need to spend a fortune on logo design. However, you still want to have a logo design of decent quality.

So you have a few options...

  • If you do have some budget for starting your blog and you want a great quality logo, then starting a logo design contest could work well for you. Visit Design Crowd for more information on starting a logo design contest.
  • Another option is to use a logo design generator. Designhill.com offers a free logo generator that you can use to generate different design options. Once happy you can purchase your favorite logo design from just $20 for the basic design. If you want additional logo files and options you can opt for a higher specced package which is also quite affordable.
  • The next option is to use logomakr.com's free logo builder to design yourself a logo. Another free logo building option is Freelogodesign.org. Both offer you the option of upgrading to more professional logo design at a small fee.
  • Lastly, you can try your hand at designing your own logo. If you know your way around design software you may want to simply design your own initial logo. Software options include Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, Gimp. My personal favorite option is to invest in Affinity Designer or Affinity Photo.

A few final logo design tips:

  • Remember to use your brand palette within your logo design.
  • Don't overcomplicate your logo design. The best logos and are simple and easy to remember and recognize.
  • If you are planning to use your logo for a long time, make sure you get a vector file. If you plan on getting a professionally designed logo later on then you don't need to be as concerned. But at the least make sure your logo is a transparent PNG file and as high resolution as possible.
  • If you can, make sure you own the copyright to your chosen logo design. If you are just getting a short term design and plan to get a pro design later then the copyright is less important.
  • Lastly, do not copy anyone else's logo design.

Choosing Font's for Your Brand Identity

One of the most important things about creating a brand identity is consistency.

If you don't keep your color palette fonts and logo usage consistent then your brand will likely come across as confused.

Thus, make sure you choose your fonts carefully and do not chop and change between different fonts.

Usually, a choice of two fonts for online web use and two fonts for offline print usage is a good practice.

You may even want to choose only two fonts and use them for both web and print.

Since you are starting out, it is best to opt for free fonts. Google fonts are an ideal choice.

If you want to use Google fonts offline you can also download them using Skyfonts.

Ideally, you should use a single font for headings/titles/navigation and another font for your body text.

To complete step #4 of the Blog Design Checklist:
  • Define your brand's character and personality in a way that appeals to your audience.
  • Create a color palette that matches your brand's personality.
  • Get a good quality logo design.
  • Select fonts to be used consistently in your branding.

The above are guidelines rather than rules. Yes, there are best practices that are worth following, but sometimes going against the grain is needed.

When building your blog brand keep in mind the purpose of branding: Recognition, Trust & Communication.

 

5. Gather Your Social Media Profile Links & Logins.

FREE Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide 5Image by Erik Lucatero from Pixabay

Social media is an important part of blogging. When you write blog articles, you need to promote them. Social media networks give you this opportunity.

Thus, an important step in this Blog Design Checklist is to gather your social media links and login details.

Setting Up Your Social Media Profiles

There is, of course, more to simply gathering your social media profile links for your blog designer or for yourself, if you are designing your own blog.

You may already have a number of social profiles or you may still be setting them up.

Either way, you need to take a look at your profiles carefully. Are your social profiles consistent?

Have you used logos and cover images that clearly identify your profiles as being yours. Would a follower from Facebook instantly recognize your profile on Twitter?

If you are a blogger or you are your brand then having a professional-looking profile photo is a great alternative to a logo.

As part of the login gathering process, make sure you create a consistent branding theme across all your social profiles so that you can easily be recognized.

Social Bios, Intros & Website Links

Another key aspect of setting your social profiles up is making sure you have written a bio or intro for each profile.

You could use the same bio or write up on each social platform or you may want to customize it a little depending on the platform used.

It is important to tell your potential followers what you do and why they ought to follow you.

Additionally, you should make sure each of your social profiles has a link to your blog. Some platforms allow you to add links to other social networks, fill these in if they are available.

Integrating Social Media Into Your Blog

If you are planning on embedding social widgets such as Instagram or Pinterest feeds on your blog then your blog designer will need your social logins to set them up.

If you are not designing your own blog then make sure you can trust your blog designer and they have a privacy and data usage policy.

In general, it is best to set up social integrations yourself. If you are not comfortable doing it then just make sure you change your passwords once you designer has set up the integrations for you.

Even if you don't embed any widgets, do make sure you have social icons linked to your social pages on your website.

It is good to include social links on your blog in multiple places such as in your header, footer, sidebar and on your contact page.

To sum step #5 of the Blog Design Checklist:
  • Create a list or spreadsheet with all your social profile links.
  • Make sure to add all your social email, usernames and passwords to this spreadsheet.
  • Ensure all your social profiles have branded logos and cover images.
  • Do write bios and link to your website and other social profiles where possible.
  • Keep your login data safe and do not give it out to just anyone.
  • Change passwords after integrations are done if you've hired a designer.

Social media and blogging share a symbiotic relationship. Make sure you connect the two together and get them both working together to increase your traffic and followers.

 

6. How to Create a Sitemap & Navigation Structure.

FREE Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide 6Image by GordonW

One vitally important step on the Blog Design Checklist is to create a Sitemap for your blog or website.

A Sitemap, in it's simplest form, is a list of the pages and posts on your website.

In a more complex form, a sitemap is a map showing the relationships between your web pages.

Unless you are building a large website with a lot of content your sitemap need not be huge or complicated.

For a blog, it can be even simpler.

It should, however, indicate which pages are your most important pages. These are normally the pages that will appear in your Primary Navigation.

It is worth indicating on your sitemap, which items should be part of your Primary Navigation and which ones should go in your footer.

Blog Navigation Structure

Typically, you might see a navigation structure like this on most blogs:

Primary Navigation

Home | About | Post Category 1 | Post Category 2 | Post Category 3 | Contact

Footer Navigation

Popular Blog Posts

  • Post 1
  • Post 2
  • Etc.

Legal (Pages Grouped)

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Affiliate Disclosure

If you offer any products or services then you would usually include a link in your primary navigation.

It is important to keep your primary navigation limited to just a few items. Between 5 - 9 is acceptable with 7 being a sweet spot. Too many options make it difficult for visitors to select from the options.

Site navigation is an extremely important aspect of the design of any blog, website or eCommerce store.

The scope of this part of the Blog Checklist does not allow me to get into all the details and why it is important for both your visitors and search engines.

I will, however, write an Essential Bloggers Guide covering navigation and sitemaps in greater detail in the near future.

To wrap up step #6 of the Blog Design Checklist:
  • Create a list of all the pages you want to include on your blog or website.
  • Include a list of blog posts to be added if you have any pre-written.
  • Indicate which pages should appear in your primary navigation and their order.
  • Indicate which pages should have links placed in the blog footer.

Don't worry if your sitemap and navigation do not look complete or you feel it is not perfect. You can always make adjustments to your blog or website's navigation down the line.

 

7. Gathering Content for Your Pages & Blog Posts.

FREE Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide 7Image from rawpixel.com

The reason for your blog or website's existence is to share your content with your target audience.

Your blog or website design is a frame for your content and should complement it. The layouts of your pages should make your content easy to access and not make it harder to read or interact with.

Should you Design a Blog with or without Content?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to designing a blog or website.

  1. Some designers and their clients believe that the design should be done around real content.
  2. Other believe you can create the design around dummy content and simply replace it later with the actual content.

There are of course pros and cons to both of these approaches.

For a long time, I used to follow the first school's approach. I liked to design websites around the client's content and have a complete looking website for them to review.

The problem was...

I often had to wait for the client to supply the content and often it was incomplete and unedited. This meant I often ended up writing the missing pieces of the content myself.

This led to 95% of the pre-launch design changes being content changes and spelling corrections to the client's own content rather than the site design.

As you can imagine, this slowed the design process down considerably.

But there was another problem that became clear. Most of my clients had a hard time writing copy and creating content for their website.

This was because they had a hard time visualizing the content placement.

The content placement and formatting on a blog or website are different from the content placement and formatting of a book or a brochure.

Web pages typically include several types of content, these include:

  • Headings & Sub-headings
  • Paragraph text
  • Call-to-action
  • Excerpts or snippets
  • Hero images
  • Featured images
  • In-page/in-post images
  • Navigation and link text

All these types of content contribute to the structure and usability of a website.

My clients' difficulties with creating content were not their fault. It was my fault!

Why? Because I failed to educate them about what was needed content-wise.

How to Create Content for Your Blog or Website

First, let's separate your content into two types of content.

Informational Content - this is the content that forms the main copy and images on each of your web pages or blog posts.

Informational content is written to communicate with your audience. It is sometimes aimed at selling and sometimes aimed at educating.

This content can generally be written or created separately from your blog or website design.

Design Content - this is content that forms part of the blog design and includes such things as headings, calls-to-action, excerpts, hero images, and a few more items.

Design content is best done as part of the design process as it aids navigation and site usability. If you are hiring a good designer they will normally take care of this type of content in one of two ways.

  1. They may create a wireframe layout of the website indicating the placement of various content pieces.
  2. They may create the entire website using dummy content which you can replace with your own once written.

Both of these approaches will help you visualize what content will be needed and where it will be placed.

The first approach is typically more expensive as it is more time-consuming. This is because you will be working more closely with your designer/s and more discussion will be needed.

With the second approach, you are relying on your designer's skill, experience, and guidance. My Blog Starter Packs favor this approach. This helps you to visualize the placement of your content and so more easily know what to write and where to place it.

If you are designing your blog yourself, then you will need to mock up a basic wireframe and plan the placement of your content yourself.

In the near future, I will release comprehensive bloggers guides covering wireframes and design as well as content creation.

Thus, step #7 of the Blog Design Checklist goes as follows:
  • Write informational content for the pages listed in your sitemap.
  • Gather any photos or images that you want to use. These can be your own images or you can get either free or paid stock images. Here is a list of the top free stock image websites you can browse.
  • If you are using a designer, find out if they will be using wireframing or doing a complete design with dummy content. You will need to discuss the process with them to know how best to work together.
  • If you are designing your blog yourself, then create a wireframe sketch so that you can visualize the design content needed.

All content on your website or blog has a purpose! If you are into DIY you will need to educate yourself as much as you can.

If you are hiring a designer, do not be afraid to ask questions. A good designer will be happy to answer your questions and should be asking you many questions too.

 

8. Setting up Your Blog Communication Systems.

FREE Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide 8Image from rawpixel.com

As we near the end of this Blog Design Checklist, it is time to contemplate yet another important step.

How will you communicate with your audience!

Now obviously, your content is in itself a communication. But there are other systems that are also important.

These include your contact page, the commenting system as well as your email list building tools.

Setting Up Your Contact Page

Keeping your communication lines open is the key to success in life, not just blogging.

As important as it is for you to communicate with your audience, your audience also needs to communicate with you.

Every blog, website, and e-commerce store must have an easy to find 'contact' page.

You should always make it easy for people to get in touch and communicate with you.

As a blogger, you need not publish details like your phone number or address. You should at the very least provide a contact form and/or an email address.

As a company with offices, you certainly should provide these details in addition to a contact form departmental email addresses. Adding a Google Map is also a good practice.

Now, sadly, you will also get a lot of spam. So, I will provide some tips on dealing with spam this at the end of this chapter.

Blog Post Commenting

When you write a blog post it is worth knowing what your audience thinks of it.

Do they love it? Do they hate it? Did they feel something was missing? Too long? Not enough detail? What additional topics do they want to see you write?

The more feedback you can gather the better your blog articles will become.

Thus, an essential part of your blog design is the integration of a commenting system.

Now if you are designing a WordPress blog then you will already have a commenting system built-in.

The default system is not bad and for most new bloggers it will probably do just fine.

There are of course many commenting plugins that you or your blog designer can integrate if you feel you need additional options.

As part of this Blog Design Checklist, you should be sure to write a 'commenting policy' for your blog. Feel free to look at my commenting policy and copy and edit as you wish.

Email List Building

If you want to be a blogger then you need to build an email list.

Your email list is one of your most valuable assets as a blogger!

If you want to drive traffic to a new blog post, you send an email to your mailing list.

If you are promoting a new affiliate's product or service, you send an email to your mailing list.

If you are launching a new product or service of your own... well, you know what to do.

Your mailing list is like gold and you should treat it as such.

First and foremost, your mailing list must be permission-based. This means your subscribers opted-in.

Never add people to your mailing list, especially if you do not know them.

By all means, add your friends and family but let them opt-out if they wish.

Now building your mailing list is an art form which I cannot detail here. For the purposes of this blog design checklist however you need to be thinking with the following:

  1. What mailing service will you be using? Will you be using an external service such as MailChimp or a built-in service like Mailpoet? Personally, I like to have my emailing tightly integrated with my blog, so I've gone with Mailpoet. I'll fill you in on this great plugin in another article though.
  2. How are you going to collect emails? Are you going to use a static mail sign-up form or a popup, or other means?
  3. How are you going to entice your visitors to part with their email addresses? This is quite important as emails are becoming increasingly valuable. In general the more value you offer in exchange then more subscribers you will get.

So start working out offers for point three right now. You may not have it ready as part of your initial blog design but you need to start working on it as soon as possible.

Dealing with Spam

Dealing with spam can be time-consuming and when you are busy figuring out how to start your blog you don't want to lose too much time.

So here are a few simple tips:

  • Make sure your comment system anti-spam features are turned on.
  • Invest in an anti-spam service such as Akismet when your spam starts to increase significantly.
  • If you publish your email address, use an email address encryption plugin.
  • You can add a reCAPTCHA field to your contact forms.
  • Use a double-opt-in on your mailing list signup forms so that spammy email addresses don't ruin your mailing list.
So to sum up step #8 of the Blog Design Checklist:
  • Create a document which lists out your preferred contact details such as email, phone, etc.
  • Be sure to ask your blog designer to set up a contact form.
  • Ensure your blog has a commenting system in place.
  • Start writing a commenting policy.
  • Choose an email service and decide how you want to collect email addresses.
  • Start coming up with ideas for valuable content you can exchange for email addresses.

As with each of the steps on this checklist, there is always more information to uncover. While I cannot include all the finer details, the above basics should help you make the blog design process smoother.

 

9. Best Practices for Creating a Blog Content Pack.

FREE Blog Design Checklist & Prep Guide 9Image from rawpixel.com

Regardless of whether you are doing your blog design yourself or you are hiring a blog designer, the design process will be smoother if you have gathered together all the items on this blog design checklist.

How to Organize Your Blog Design Content

As you work your way through this blog design checklist, you should be organizing your information.

You should organize your information as if you are presenting it to a blog designer.

This means your content and info needs to be well structured, clear and easy to understand.

If you are your own blog designer then it will help you too and you will thank yourself later.

As you can see there may be a fair bit to type up. You are a blogger so this should be no sweat.

Using Text Documents and Spreadsheets.

Here are some options:

  • Google Drive (My personal choice as the info can be organized, stored and shared very easily. It is also free until you reach your storage limits. I will cover some other reasons to use Google Drive in future guides)
  • Microsoft Office (Paid)
  • LibreOffice (Free)
  • OpenOffice (Free)

Next, you should create a folder for all your content. Call it Blog Design Project or something else descriptive.

The information for each item of this blog design checklist should be in its own document or spreadsheet.

You should use a descriptive document title and you can even number the documents to give them an order.

If the written content for each page and post is not too long you can use a single document as long as you clearly label the start and end of each page.

The content should match the sitemap you created.

If your content is long then rather use separate documents. You could also group related content into a single document.

Formatting Your Documents

When you type up your info and page content, be sure to use headings.

Breaking content down with headings is good for your readers and for search engines. This applies to both contents for your blog and information specifically for your blog designer.

DO NOT USE FULL CAPS IN HEADINGS!

If you want to use full caps on your site then you can do this with formatting. If you type in full caps and you want to change it later then you or your designer will have to retype it out.

Your content should be easily copied and pasted as it will save a lot of time when it comes to formatting.

Use bullet points, bold, italics where necessary. If you are including links to other sites or social pages then you should make it a live link and not just text.

Gathering Images & Graphics

All your images should be contained in a separate folder.

If you insert the images into your documents that will need to be re-saved by your designer, which is time-consuming. This is okay if you place them in a document for reference and also in a folder.

Be sure to clearly name your images and reference which image goes where.

You should also provide high-resolution images. Large images can always be made smaller. Small images will deteriorate when enlarged and look bad.

To conclude step #9 of the Blog Design Checklist:
  1. Read the above organizing and formatting guidelines.
  2. Work through steps 1 - 8 following the guidelines provided in step 9.
  3. If you've used Google Drive you can then share your project folder with your designer.
  4. Otherwise, if you've used other software you can zip your folder and send using Dropbox or WeTransfer.

Finally, don't stress about getting everything perfect. Just do your best.

You do not need to overthink anything. Just be clear and concise with each step.

If you are not sure of something then ask questions. Ask your designer, or drop me a line in the comments.

 

10. Should You Go DIY or Hire a Blog Designer or Both?

Blog Designer - GordonWridgway.comImage from rawpixel.com

Finally, step #10 on the Blog Design Checklist.

Well, actually, this is not really a step. It is more of a choice.

You may already have made the choice, but if not let's take a quick run-through of your options.

DIY Blog Design

You may have opted to design your blog yourself. Your reasons may be varied. Some popular reasons to build your own blog include:

  • You want to learn how to manage and edit your out blog and have control without having to rely on a designer.
  • You may feel you will be able to save some money doing it yourself.
  • You might already be a designer so doing it yourself is the natural option.

There isn't really a downside to being a DIY designer other than the time it takes for you to learn. The more time you spend learning the more experience you gain and the more competence and confidence you will get.

My blog is actually focused on you, the DIY blogger and designer. Why?

Because I've been there myself. I've researched, tried and tested everything I know over the last decade.

It is well worth taking this route and it is the route I recommend. With one caveat though.

It takes a long time to learn everything you need to know and you will never stop learning. My goal is to take some of the time out of your learning experience and get you up and running faster.

But more on this at the end of this article...

Hiring a Blog Designer

If you have a reasonable budget then it is often worth hiring a blog designer. Hiring others to help you is always a good idea if you can afford it and the most popular blogs are often run by a founder and their team.

The main reason for hiring a designer is their experience and ability to build quality blogs. Experience comes at a cost but you should look at it as an investment rather than a cost.

The Best of Both.

Finally, you have the option of being both a DIYer and hiring a designer.

If you have loads of time to learn how to design a blog then DIY is fine. If you want to get blogging sooner rather than later then you want to get a blog up and running fast.

Building a blog yourself or getting a designer to do it for you will take some time.

As a blogger your most important task is to produce content rather than building blogs.

For this reason, I created Blog Starter Packs.

You get to benefit from a high-quality predesigned blog which features premium WordPress plugins.

All you have to do is add your content and then get on with doing what bloggers do.

For all the details and benefits click here.

Now you can learn everything you need to know about blogging and blog design at your own pace while gaining valuable experience as a blogger.

Conclusion

If you want to learn how to start a blog then you should do so at your own pace in the way you want to do it.

Experience and the ability to do things for yourself is important. That said, nothing worthwhile is ever built alone.

Even as a lone blogger your success depends on others, your audience.

So use this guide as you will. Design your blog or get someone to help you design it.

Most importantly, be a blogger, do what bloggers do and be of value to others. And make sure you HAVE FUN!

Go Build a Better Life with Your Blog!

If you enjoyed this guide please let me know in the comments below. If you use this guide then let me know how it went for you.

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