Today I'm going to share part one of "branding" Fit for a Bride and beginning this blog. I've been wanting to talk about this for awhile, not because I'm an expert (I'm certainly not!), but because I've learned a lot along the way. I hope that you can learn from my story, and especially avoid some of the big (costly!) mistakes that I made.
First, I want to share how I came up with the idea for this blog.
Back in the summer of 2011, I went to the Making Things Happen intensive hosted by Lara Casey. The whole purpose of the event is to help you discover what fires you up! What are you afraid of? Why aren't you tackling your passions? I shared with the group (group of strangers, mind you! Scary!) that my dream was to be a fitness guru. I wanted to be a freelance writer and work with magazines like Oxygen and Women's Health. I wanted to share my story and ultimately, inspire others. I wasn't sure how, but when I left, one thing was clear: wherever I was headed, fitness was a part of it. This is how I described my ideal self in my Making Things Happen notebook:
I am a writer and I am passionate about fitness! I have learned to love my body and everyday I declare to myself: I am beautiful and deserve love from others. I am NOT on a diet, but I maintain a healthy diet. I am a marathon runner and role model. I am dedicated to helping women love themselves and achieve their best selves through my writing and small groups. I freelance for major health and wellness magazines, I blog, and I am working on a best-selling novel (dream BIG, right?). Above all this, I seek to serve God and spread the message of His powerful love. God is the center of my marriage and all my personal (and business) relationships. My husband and I travel often, play video games together, and live by the water.
That November, I ran my first marathon! No doubt inspired by the words I'd spoken a few months prior. Not long after, I revamped my lifestyle blog, Sincerely Sara, got a killer design and fell in love with blogging all over again. I realized blogging was my freelance. I had no idea how to freelance the traditional way, but I already knew how to blog!
Fitness blogging went great with wedding blogging, in my opinion. After all, I'd only ever been a blogger in the wedding community, and I love this community! Then it dawned on me that this type of blog didn't exist (fitness/wedding)! Eureka, I found my niche! Among all the hundreds of wedding blogs out there, not a single one talks about women's health!
I loved my idea, but had no clue what to call this blog. I knew the name was important, too. I'd always envied other's adorable blog names like The Broke-Ass Bride and the Knotty Bride, all so clever! I wanted my name to be like that, catchy and easy to remember. I tossed around a bunch of ideas, until I landed on Fit for a Bride! I loved it because it had a double meaning! "Fit" as in strong; "Fit" as in fitting! Voila! I tested out a lot of tag-lines, too! Ones like:
- Inspiration for the health-conscious bride
- Tips and Tricks for a Wedding Day Health
- Food for thought
- Health & Beauty on Weddings
- A New Lease on Weight Loss
- A Confident Bride is a Beautiful Bride
- A Lifestyle Change
- Wedded Weight Loss
- Inspiration for Real Brides
- I do choose health!
- For the New Mr. & Mrs.
- Engaged in Love & Healthy Living
The very last idea stuck, probably because I love anything with alteration!
Once I had the name and the tag-line, I couldn't get the idea of my brain! I was exploding with ideas for features and posts. I also started dreaming up what the website would look like! It just so happens that around the same time, my husband and I took our annual anniversary vacation. We went to a secluded cabin for a week and the entire time, I dreamed about Fit for a Bride. In fact, on the way there, I picked up water colors and crayons from the local Wal-Mart and for the next few days started drawing out my dream website.
I got the idea for the illustration from own of my own wedding photos...
Photo by Meredith Perdue
Aaron (my hubby) loved the idea too. He thought Fit for a Bride was catchy and he encouraged me to dream up! I was super excited with the way things were going and I even started to write the first few posts! I checked the submission and advertising pages of other blogs, and drafted those. I was on a roll, but there was still quite a long ways to go before my idea would come to life.
When I returned from the cabin, I contacted Joy, who designed Sincerely Sara. She'd always been such a pleasure to work with and I'd never worked with anyone else anyway! She was fast, too. She usually had a design done and back to me within days and installed within a week (yep, you read that right!) and she was incredibly intuitive, making the process really easy on my end. Joy, you spoiled me!
Around this time, however, Joy was 8 months pregnant and when I emailed her with the idea, she reluctantly responded that she simply couldn't take on another project. I was really disappointed, of course! But I thought, “How hard can it be to find another designer? ---> This is where the blogging tips start! Finding a designer isn't easy!
In hindsight, I might have just waited for Joy to become available. Venturing into the branding/design world was down-right scary, especially as I discovered the true cost of things and the wait lists, and then with the back-and-forth emails... all of that's to come in Part Two (tomorrow)!
For now, here are my tips for just getting started!
Tips on Conceptualizing a Blog:
*Love the subject matter: Blogging is like brushing your teeth; you have to do it every day. Be sure you love whatever you decide your blog is about! You may even consider combining more than one topic like I did, whether that be fashion plus food or antiques and bargain shops. Try to be unique, but stay true to your passions!
*Come up with a catchy title: It doesn't have to rhyme or anything, but it should be memorable. You don’t want it to be too long or really complicated either. Consider searching Godaddy.com for ideas. I punched in “fitness bride” and other combinations for weeks trying to come up with a name. Hint: GoDaddy will provide alternative titles if the one you’ve searched is taken- this is a great way to brainstorm possible names!
*Use Keywords: Consider including a key word in your title or tag-line. This will maximize your SEO potential. Google Trends is an excellent source for keywords. Punch in “bride” or “weight loss” and see what the top searches are- again, another great way to brainstorm names!
*Purchase the dot-com: Most dot-coms aren’t expensive (read: $10/year) and nowadays, most blogs use Wordpress.com and are self-hosted (versus the old way, which was .blogspot or .wordpress.com). If you want your blog to reach a larger audience one day, it’s a good idea to go on and purchase the dot-com since you’ll eventually switch over anyway.
*Bounce ideas off of others: Ask your friends and even your guy what they think. If they can’t figure out what your blog is about based on the title and tagline, you may want to keep brainstorming. Don’t let others discourage you, of course, but remember that a blog has a lot to do with its audience and you want people to be able to catch on easily!
*Go ahead and dream, but don’t be naive (like I was!): It’s a lot of fun to sketch out your dream website, but it’s important to know that when you’re just getting started, realistically, your blog will probably be pretty basic. Web design is expensive and even though I didn’t want to hear this at the time (and I bet you don’t), it’s not a good idea to invest in a fancy blog design and brand, especially if you haven't started!
In Part 2 read how I turned to Etsy after learning Joy couldn't do the blog, then paid a lot of money and unfortunately, didn't end up with my dream website :(