Meet Monica from The Elgin Avenue, your Blogging 101 guru for the day. Monica has been blogging for four and a half years, two of those as a full time blogger. Find out a bit more about Monica below and read the full post for her tips on naming and designing your site!
Hi! I’m Monica from The Elgin Avenue. Amanda and I exchanged emails a few years ago after I fan-girled her apartment DIYs. I live in the UK, a stone’s throw from London, but Amanda and I managed to arrange a meet up in NYC last November and since then we’ve been supporting one another’s endeavors on the reg. In the four years since starting The Elgin Avenue, I have learnt a lot – from how to approach brands as a newbie blogger, to how to juggle studies, a full time blog and waitressing in a Pizzeria. I’d love to share with you what I’ve learnt along the way.
As we all can agree, first impressions are super important. Think of your blog’s name and design as the basis of people’s initial judgements of your site. Because of this, the two need to be on point, expressing exactly what you want your blog to portray right off the bat.
Choosing a Name
Your blog’s name should sum up, or represent, what you are communicating with your site. If possible, include an SEO friendly term in your domain. Amanda for instance has nailed this with Advice From A Twenty Something – Amanda’s domain name sums up exactly what her blog is about.
It needn’t be that literal though. For me The Elgin Avenue subtly communicates my brand’s lifestyle message. The Elgin Avenue is an area in London, much like the West Village in New York, which is stylish, community-driven and populated by young professionals and families. The real Elgin Avenue’s selling points are what I look to reflect in the content of my blog.
Purchasing your domain name:
When registering your domain name, go through a reputable domain name site such as GoDaddy. Think of your domain as your online real estate — you do not want any unwelcome squatters! Buy your domain, and keep a record of when your domain name will expire. You pay for your domain name for a certain amount of time. I advice buying it for at least twelve months (they tend to cost about $10-$15 a year).
If the domain you’re set on is unavailable, don’t worry! Get creative and play around with subtle variations. For example, if theelginavenue.com wasn’t available, I could have used the-elginavenue.com or theelgin-avenue.com. You can even substitute the .com for .me or something similar.
If you can, purchase multiple variations of your domain (since they’re pretty affordable). For example, Amanda owns both advicefromatwentysomething.com and advicefroma20something.com. She redirects one to the other so that users can type in either one and go to the same place.
Creating the Initial Design
Your impressions are formed in the first three seconds of logging on to a website. So the initial look and feel are very important and can even make or break your site. Especially in this lifestyle space, readers are looking to you as a style guru, so the design of your blog needs to be stylish too, and reflect your style.
Here are some basic design rules to live by:
1. K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple Stupid. One of the oldest tricks in the book!
2. If you have the budget, use a designer to help create the look and feel of your site, and a coder to install it. Make sure the designer also creates a logo for your brand that you can use across channels.
3. Stick to no more than three colours. One accent colour, and two neutrals works well. For example turquoise blue, pale grey and black. And lots of white space – your readers want room to explore.
4. Do not overlook user experience. Try to think from the perspective of your reader when organizing your categories and layout. Can you easily access what you’re looking for without going through too many steps?
5. Make sure all of your social icons and contact information are easily accessible, particularly if your goal is to grow your audience and turn your blog into a business.
One of my top lessons with blogging: if you don’t know how to do something, reach out to someone that does! Don’t by shy or embarrassed or stubborn, it will save so much time.
See how Amanda’s site design has evolved over the years:
Some helpful resources:
Leap Marketing & Design is an excellent site for lifestyle publisher templates and design assistance.
Elance is a site where you can post design and coding jobs to an open market of Elance approved professionals, who will contact you if they feel they have the relevant skills you are looking for. All fees are worked out between the freelancer and the client (you) but money changes hands through Elance so if you aren’t happy with the work Elance has your back.
Chloé Digital is another great technology resource for fashion publishers, I’d advise anyone who is looking to blog professionally to reach out to Chloé and her team for advise and support.
Amanda also highly recommends Elembee for your design and coding needs. She not only provides custom design services, but offers tons of tips on how to customize WordPress yourself on her blog. Amanda has worked with her for years and would go no other way!