Friday, 30 August 2013

Blogging your way to a business - Week one, getting started & branding

Today's post is a little different, please don't run away for the lack of interiors, delicious recipes or my latest home tour, hang around and read what I have to say, especially if you're a blogger and can identify with long hours spent at the keyboard.

It has been more than two years since I started my blog, initially titled 'Blooming Art', focusing on my paintings and daily life, little did I know my passion for home decor would lead me where I am today. Now titled, "Lee Caroline - A World of Inspiration", my blog has evolved into a place to share beautiful images of interiors, before and after makeovers, gorgeous homeware, DIY ideas, delicious recipes and so much more. Along with the growth of my blog which has now reached over 352,000 Blogger page views, I am excited to be approached by businesses and the chance to form relationships with some well known brands (more about this next week). With this in mind it has made me think about brand engagement and important things I should have put in place at the start of my journey. Mistakes can be fixed, however it is far better not to make them in the first place.

For me blogging is not about money, its about doing something I love and if it means two hours on the computer or 24 hours and not a penny back but simply the reward of a comment from a reader, then I am happy. I blog for the sheer joy of being able to share my discoveries with my readers, if it brings a monetary reward this is the 'cherry on the top' or the 'icing on the cake', so to speak...blogging must come from a love, whether it be interior design, food, pets, gardening etc, it has to be something you are madly passionate about, without the passion there is unlikely to be success. Personally, I think the most rewarding aspect of blogging has been the friendships I have made across the world, whether business or social, there are some amazing bloggers and many of these have become my friends.

Your Name/Brand:

The  most important point when starting a blog, or business is its name. If I had known in the beginning the direction my blog would follow, I may have chosen a different name, however already established It would be foolish to change my name at this point in time. What I may have to do is change my catch phrase, 'A World of inspiration'. My inspiration could be anything from fashion to pets and although it leaves my options open, my blog is specifically about the home and I am aware I need to incorporate this into my catch phrase (ideas welcome)...I doubt I will  be another 'Martha Stewart' and I am not sure I would want to go in that direction, however I recognise the importance of keeping the name 'Lee Caroline'. Therefore, I plan to develop my brand, making it more easily recognised. A new banner, logo, font and social network buttons are currently on my mind. These are important factors to think about when starting out, (another mistake I had to correct).

Branding is a post in itself and a lot of us have different thoughts about this subject, however it is important before launching a new company, blog, product etc, your name or brand can carry you through whatever direction you may go. You may wish to choose your actual name as I have done (excluding my surname), or you may want to select something short and catchy, if I had the choice again it would have chosen something short and catchy. With any idea it is best to move 'forward', not 'backwards to go forwards' and I have learned by trial and error during my blogging journey. Over the next few weeks I've decided  to share a series of posts with  tips and hints, do's and don't do's to help you with your blog.

Some bloggers will say 'being there at the start, before blogs quadrupled and inundated the internet, is a reason for their success." I agree it may have given some bloggers an advantage, however, I also disagree with this comment. I know bloggers who have been around for a year that are successfully turning their fabulous blogs into a businesses and others that have been blogging 10 years and don't make a single penny from the long hours they work. Some are quite happy to blog away without commitment and I want to add at this point, once you begin to earn an income from your blog you will have to work harder and longer, there is not turning back, however, the benefits and friendships you make along the way can be totally rewarding, income or no income.

Starting out - don't fail to take these steps:

  • Choose the name of your company wisely make sure  it is not in use by another company. You can use a domain checker for this (Google 'domain checker') and I recommend you check worldwide not just, or or Whatever country you may be in, there just might be another Jo Blogs elsewhere
  • Make sure the name you choose will be used across your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google + or any other social network pages you may choose to join. I failed to do this as I opened my Twitter account before I started my blogThere are thousands of social network platforms that would bewilder even the most experienced networkers. However, important ones in my mind are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +. Unless you want to be on your laptop 24/7 I would say that these are enough to start with.
  • Make sure your email address is the same name as your business
  • Purchase a domain, you can do this very reasonably or use a free host such as Blogger, or Wordpress
  • If you choose a free platform, choose a 'dot com' rather than a 'blogspot' there will be no need to migrate if your blog grows and expands
  • Once you have chosen your name think about spending a little money to get someone to design a blog or website banner that will have a professional look. There are many small companies on the internet that will do this at very little charge, again you can Google this information.
  • If you are computer savvy you may want to download GIMP which is free and similar to Photoshop, It may help you with your own design and I find GIMP extremely helpful when creating mood boards, specific fonts or layering words over images
  • Think about branding, what is your blog/business about, what are you trying to portray to your readers?
  • Always use high resolution images, small images increased in size will not look sharp and professional
  • When it comes to images, remember scale down large ones, don't increase the size of small ones or you will end up with a fuzzy look
  • When you are writing your posts, choose a font that is browser compatible. Not all fonts are recognised by every browser, instead your font may show in 'default' meaning you may have a very pretty italic font flowing on your pages whereas, someone else may be looking at the page on another browser and see the font show up as size 16 courier, (example only) - Keep fonts simple, I use Trebuchet on my blog, it's modern, neat and easy to read
Of course I couldn't write a post without at least one image so I have created a board of brands you may or may not be familiar with. Some a simple font, such as Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley, the names themselves a brand. Others use clever design to play on their names such as Kenzo and Matt Blatt and some have a catchy well designed logo such as Bombay Duck and Cush & Nooks. Cush & Nooks brand speaks clearly about her colourful homeware.  Vic who owns Cush & Nooks has a wonderful blog you may want to visit.

I will end here today so as not to overwhelm new bloggers, next week I will cover some important facts about copyright and in particular the floating "Pinterest" pin which you will see that I am not using at the moment for a very valid reason of breaching copyright. Yes, I know of one blogger who had to pay a large sum of money to Getty Images for using an image from Pinterest that belonged to Getty. There are some other important facts you may not know about using images especially with regards to Pinterest, I will cover these next week.

Hopefully you have learned something today, don't be scared away, blogging is a fabulously rewarding past time that anyone can enjoy and once you learn some hints and tips you will be surprised where it may lead you.


  1. Great tips Lee!!! I am lucky enough to be married to a web designer/developer so he sorted out all the logo and website things for me. I really should put more emphasis on my blog. Although for me the blog is secondary to my business, and not my main business activity, I realise how important it can be to gain loyal customers. I admire your dedication to blogging and ability to come up with lots of consistent and great content!! Look forward to more tips :) - Olivia x

  2. Thanks for sharing these tips, Lee. And I must agree that consistency is a must if you want to make a steady image for your company. You can try out different themes, but make it sure that you use the same pattern, logo, or design for your product.

    Layla @Sacramento Marketing Labs


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