Many of you ask me for advice about starting your own blog and I try to give quick tips here and there as best as I can, but today I thought it would be great to share an entire post dedicated to starting your own blog. You probably already have a few ideas in mind for names and content, but if you’re feeling completely lost don’t worry because we’re here to help! The main thing I want to show you today is how simple it is to set up a platform to publish your content. There are many different platforms to choose from, but today we’re going to discuss Squarespace because it’s the platform we use and in my opinion is the easiest and most seamless. So let’s get started!
Before You Begin
Hopefully you’re reading this post because you already have the key components of starting a blog - like a name and a niche. Although you can change these at anytime, it’s important to try to find something permanent that you’ll love forever - especially because you don’t want to confuse your audience by constantly changing things up and it can get costly to buy new domains - so pick name a stick to it.
Squarespace makes it super simple to search for and buy domains. Check to see if yours is available here. You can then purchase your domain following the steps below once you've signed up for your account.
Pro tip: do a quick social media search to ensure you can have the same name on any platforms you want to use. Our best advice? Keep it simple and easy to spell (a lifesaver).
1. Pick Your Template
Squarespace has a variety of templates available. Our favorites are Five (currently using), Farro (great for high quality imagery), Avenue (for simple galleries) and Anya (great for seamless scrolling on one page) - all gorgeous and easy to customize to your liking.
2. Customize Your Site Title & Header
Your header is essentially the first impression. It's the first thing visitors see when they enter your site so consider it very important. You'll want to make sure it’s branded with either your logo or site title and easy to navigate. If you have a custom logo, you can upload it here or choose to stay with the matching font of your template. We chose to use our logo that also include the name our website.
3. Set Up Your Site Navigation
You think about your navigation in terms of the topics you want to cover so that your readers can easily find your content. You can see how we’ve broken out our navigation into Food & Drink, Travel, Living, and more. If you decide to add footer navigation, make sure you replicate the main header so the two match in order.
4. Create An "About Me" or "Contact" Page
People like to know who are they reading about and engaging with. Your About Me page will introduce you to readers and should give a bit of background information on you. You can combine your About Me page with a Contact page or keep them separate. We've done it both ways, but have them broken out into separate pages right now. Choose whichever way you prefer to do it - combining helps declutter your site navigation.
5. Connect Your Social Channels
If you haven't noticed, blogging is all about connecting and engaging with other people so you'll want to make it easy for readers to find your social channels. Instagram will likely be your biggest channel so make you start with that account. Place your social handles at the top near your header and in your sidebar or footer if you're template has either. Squarespace makes it easy to set up connections, just watch this video if you need additional help.
6. Begin Blogging
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Head to the blog section under your “Pages” and click the "+" symbol add your first post. We'll use our post "The REAL Cost of Buying a Home" as an example.
I always leave a text box at the top of every post because it changes the format, but play around with it and decide what you like best. At the top of each post I recommend always using a main image that has a text overlay featuring the post title - this will come in handy in the future when you want to pin your posts and when readers begin to pin your posts! You can use Canva to easily add text overlays to your images if you don't have photoshop.
You can add tags and categories to help readers find your posts and to make it easier when you want to add "Summary Blocks" to share specific content across your home page or even other blog posts.
Additionally, you can enter into the "options" tab to customize your content further. I regularly use the Post URL box to make sure my URL dates match the post publish dates whenever I have draft content going live or am pushing previously scheduled content live. You can also choose to feature content, which will also come in handy when using "Summary Blocks" on your homepage.
Pro tip: Before pushing your blog live, make sure have 5 - 10 posts up to keep readers engaged. You can write these all at once and use the options tab to change the dates in the URL so they seem more authentically published. We recommend building out your content log even further and using the "draft" or "schedule" options so you always have a backlog of content ready.
BONUS: 7. Constantly Customize
You should think of your template as a guide to designing your blog rather than letting it stand as is. While no two blogs are ever the same, you can make yours stand our even more by tweaking the template and adding your own elements. Don't stress out about this too much, trust me you will end up changing things around throughout the years, but keep it in mind.
We added a sidebar to all of our pages that includes the social media handles, newsletter sign up, archives, our pinterest board and more. Check to see if your template included a sidebar, otherwise you will have to play around with your home page and manually create one yourself.
We used a "Summary Block" on the home page to showcase our most recent posts using the "featured post" filter I mentioned earlier. You can do a lot with the "Summary Block" feature so it's important to use tags and categories accurately so that you can easily group your content together. The block below the featured post on our homepage also a "Summary Block" that automatically pulls in our most recent posts.
If you've read our "How To Make Money Blogging" post then you may have noticed the "Additional Resources" summary block at the bottom - this is where tagging and categories come into play and become a life saver! I have tagged every resource post with "resource" and created a summary block that automatically pulls in each article using the tags option. This has made it super easy for my readers to navigate to other posts that they may find helpful.
We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to start a blog using Squarespace. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact us here. You can find additional resources below.