The creative process of starting a blog with no design experience

creatingblog

You don’t need to be a professional, but you do need to want to learn.


The support I’ve gotten over the past few weeks in regards to We The Story exceeded anything I could have imagined. From bloggers I’ve followed for a long time, to friends and family, I really am grateful for every person who’s even bothered to click or like one of my posts.

When I was looking into the idea of potentially starting a blog, I found that the resources online came from people who had already established a loyal following and achieved a readership of about a thousand views a month. It goes without saying that I do not have that kind of following. Obviously. More than that, they’d all made a profitable business out of blogging. Now, I’m not saying that any of that is negative. In fact, I’d be lying if I said that making money off of doing something I’m passionate about wouldn’t be amazing. But I think it’d be beneficial for some people to see what creating a blog is like with very little background in publishing, branding or web design.

Coming up with the name “We The Story”

A long, long, time ago, way before “We The Story”, I had wanted to start a blog called “The Artful”. At the time, I was obsessed with art and just simply wanted to write about artsy people and arsty things. After weeks of trying to figure out what the general direction of the blog would be, I established that it just wouldn’t get any more narrow or concrete than that. So I ditched it. It just didn’t move me.

TheArtfulLogo.jpg
The logo I made back when I thought my blog would be called “The Artful”

The question I struggled with at that point was “what’s my niche?”. I hate that word but realistically, I can’t write about everything and expect to grow a dedicated audience. So I focused on what I was passionate about that wasn’t as broad as “art”. And that thing was storytelling. I’ve been obsessed with different mediums of storytelling for as long as I can remember; music, books, podcasts, documentaries, TEDtalks, conversations with strangers, YouTube, etc. Storytelling has this otherworldly power to captivate ideas and make meaning out of events/topics/people that we would otherwise never understand. Art is just another way to tell stories.

Once I realized that this blog was going to be about storytelling and sharing ideas, I knew I had to incorporate the word “story”.

From then on, figuring out the name was very much like what we were taught in high school. Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm. I took out my notepad and wrote “The Artful”, because at that point that’s all I had. I sat on my bed, stared at my wall and thought of taglines that would best suit the idea of storytelling. So I wrote “oh, the stories we tell”.

I learned throughout the process of brainstorming that the more you try to force words, logos and ideas that you can’t fully relate to, the more your motivation to continue working with fizzle away. Realizing that “oh the stories we tell” was not true to my character saved me so much creative energy. So I ditched it.

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I still felt connected to “story”. I jotted down the words stories, writers, artists etc. and other words that I felt best encapsulated storytelling. The process of brainstorming almost felt like I was having a conversation with myself, bouncing ideas off one single brain.

Eventually, I landed on the concept of being an artist and more specifically how their purpose is to tell stories in whatever way they see fit. In that case, the lives they live are essentially stories in and of themselves. The same is true for every human on Earth. Our lives are stories that are playing out every minute. From there, I wrote “Be The Story”. It was close but still not it. It felt a little cliche and almost like I was forcing the metaphor of seeing life as a book with chapters.

Then I said “Be The Story” out loud. I wondered what it would sound like if I replaced “Be” with “We”. Once again, I said it out loud. I wish there was a more exciting way that I came up with the name “We The Story”, but all I had to do was change “Be” to “We” for it to finally feel right. The moment I wrote it down I knew that this was not only going to be the name of my blog but the main focus of the logo.

Designing the logo and finding inspiration

On my quest to find inspiration for a logo, I rummaged through Pinterest and saved all of the designs that I thought would be simple enough to put my own spin on but would also look sleek. Here’s some examples of designs I saved.

 

The theme throughout these saved posts is pretty evident; double layered texts, cursive writing, shadows and pastel neutrals. At least, I’m assuming it’s evident.

After that came the actual designing. I used Illustrator and a couple of fonts to create my logo. I knew that I wanted the logo to be words rather than a symbol, primarily because designing is not my strong suit. Playing to my strenghts, I decided that my logo would simply be focused on typography and words.

In my graphic design class, I remember my professor telling us to begin every design with a sketch on good ‘ole pen and paper. So that’s what I did.

Through experimentation, I found that I preferred the layered text and cursive designs. Designing this on Illustrator was VERY simple. All I had to do was choose two complimentary colors (yellow and salmon) and layer on some black cursive text. And just like that, my blog had a face! Gratata! (PS. do people still say “gratata”? It was my favourite word in grade 9. RIP vine).

Tagline

Finding the tagline took me longer than I had anticipated. Before I officially published the blog, my tagline was “stories inspired by the everyday”. Then one day at work, a customer I was working with tried on a pair of dress pants. She told me that they made her “feel like she could talk the talk” in her next meeting. Immediately, I was like “damn, what a sentence”. I thought about how I could incorporate it into my blog.

I knew that this blog had a whole lot to do with thinking and talking about my thoughts. So I just added “thinkin’ the thoughts” to “talkin’ the talk”. And just like that, I had a tagline. See? Inspiration is everywhere, my dudes.

Social media feeds

Hilariously, I thought that by the time I’d publish my blog I’d have these elaborate and well thought out photos of me on city street corners in flowy dresses. I even thought that by now I would have traded in my $20 dirty-ass white Champions from Payless Shoes (aye, shout out) for a sleek pair of flats. If anything, my sense of fashion has turned from “Mediocre at Best” to “Unsure if I’m making a statement or genuinely comfortable with the fact that I’ve worn my dad’s Roots sweater for the 6th day this week”.

I’m happy with the funny, the uncomfortable and honest realities of life. Not only will I never have a picture perfect Instagram feed, but I just don’t think it’s necessary if the whole point of blogging and documenting my life is to be real.

Final thoughts

So that’s how We The Story came to be! I’m sure there’s about a million more things that I could touch on, but these are the ones that I wish I knew prior to designing my blog. I hope in some way this inspires and kicks you (kindly) in the ass to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. Trust me, the doing-of-the-thing is better than the thinking-of-the-thing. Y’feel?

Summary

  • Lesson #1: Stick with the ideas that make you feel like you’re onto something.
  • Lesson #2: Don’t pretend to be artsy or eloquent or anything that doesn’t reflect who you are and what you stand for. If it’s not something you’d say in person, it’s not something you’ll say online.
  • Lesson #3: Look for inspiration everywhere. Pinterest, eaves dropping on conversations, etc.

Signing off!

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I should never say “signing off” ever again.

Author: Chantal Hermetz

Hey, hi, hello! My name is Chantal Hermetz, writer and creator of We The Story, where I tell stories inspired by the everyday. I'm a 20-year-old happy mess of a human chasing my dream of telling stories through writing and various other creative mediums (finger painting in wet cement is next). More formally, I'm a Media and Digital Communications student at Western University and *often* take part in activities that involve coffee and beer. *Photo credit: @beccaserenaphoto

19 thoughts

  1. Loved this! My 22 year old daughter is a final year digital media production student at university here in Jamaica. She’s been giving me useful tips on creating better graphics for my own blog. She says she appreciates that I actually want to learn 🙂 Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this – few bloggers are willing to be so honest and open about how they got started. It’s really inspired me to take a harder look at my own blog and see if I’m being true to what I want, and if I’m making the most of what I’ve got. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Girl, I can relate to so many of these things from starting my own blog! I had the hardest time coming up with a name -seriously, I think that might be the hardest thing about starting a blog in some ways. Also, totally agree with staying true to who you are. If you’re pretending to be someone else because you think that’s what is expected (believe me, I’ve done this!) it takes all of the fun out of it!

    Liked by 1 person

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