Starting a New Blog? Here Are 5 Things You Should Do First That Will Save You Time and Drive Results Faster

New Blog Tips

I have written hundreds of posts in my career. 

Many of them (over half) have been removed or consolidated with other posts. 

I "wasted" a lot of time initially blogging. I hate to call it a waste though because writing so much and learning from my mistakes was training that money couldn't possibly buy. 

I want to save you the time and energy though so I've put together a blog post here that you should read BEFORE you start a new blog.

If I had this post when I started, it would have saved/made me thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours. 

1. Spend Time on Your Niche Selection and Domain Name

I will be the first to admit, is a terrible domain name. 

It isn't memorable, it is hard to spell and it just isn't very good. 

The success of this blog is totally in spite of the crappy domain choice. 

Even if you already have a domain name in mind and purchased, spend a little bit of time pondering the question, "is this a domain name that I could see scaling with my business?" 

Here are some quick tips for choosing a good domain name.

  • Make it easy to spell. Now, people don't do nearly as much "direct domain searching" as they did in the early 2000s, but you should still have a domain that someone could type into their browser bar without having issues. 
  • Make it easy to remember. Whatever niche you're in you will face constantly growing competition. The easier that your domain is to remember, the more traffic you will get. Personally, I use for my travel bookings. I really don't know if they are better than the competitors (there are a LOT of competitors) but for some reason, it is first to mind and memorable to me. 
  • Make it short if possible but focus on clarity first. I say "if possible," because you shouldn't sacrifice clarity for brevity. Yes, having a domain under 10 letters is really cool but not if it doesn't convey the purpose of the blog clearly to the reader. A great example of a long domain that still does well is Yes, it is wordy BUT it is very easy to remember. 

If you have the budget to do it, don't be afraid of purchasing a premium domain name. 

Investing a few hundred dollars up to several thousands of dollars could prove to be one of the best decisions you have ever made. 

If you need help finding inspiration for blog names, check out Start with basic words and see what combinations are available. 

Find domain

Oh look, is available!

As far as choosing your niche goes, check out my article on niche brainstorming for more details on that. 

Basically, you just want to make sure that the niche is big enough, not overly saturated, in a topic you're interested in and has people that are willing and able to buy. 

2. Decide on Basic Fixed Style Elements and Stick with Them

When analyzing my productivity and where I was spending most of my time, one thing really stuck out to me. 

I was spending hours in crafting images for my blog posts. 

Most of these images were for featured blog images. These are the images that you see as thumbnails and at the top of each post. 

I find them to be important BUT I shouldn't have been spending so much of my own time creating them. 

Also, you might notice this blog has a lot of different styled elements throughout. When I transitioned to Thrive Themes (more on that next) I started getting fancy with call out boxes, quotes and other customizable elements. 

These are great BUT I was making the mistake of not keeping a constant style. This meant two things. 

  1. My blog didn't have a uniform look and feel.
  2. I was spending too much time on each element's design. 

I am NOT a designer so why should I keep spending my time trying to be?

What I am doing now is much better. 

Now, I save templates for elements that I use over and over. 

This allows me to easily paste them into my posts and edit the content within them while maintaining a consistent styling. 

Thrive Themes is fantastic at this. 

Thrive Themes content editor

This will save you an insane amount of time and make your content look more consistent. 

As for featured images, I have three recommendations. 

Design Tip #1 Unless you absolutely love creating your own graphics, are good at it and have the time to spend, don't make new custom graphics from scratch each time you write a post. 

You could easily find yourself spending more time designing than writing! People read your blog for your words, not the fancy designs. 

Ironically, doing them yourself can end up hurting your bounce rates and overall perceived blog quality. 

I found that many of the featured images I made over the past two years look much worse in hindsight and are impossible to read when in thumbnail form. .

Design Tip #2 You don't actually need more than stock photos as featured images

I fell in love with text overlays on my featured images. 

I spent time messing with typography (font pairings, spacing, line heights etc.) and lacked consistency while wasting time. 

You can absolutely use stock photos as featured images and ignore writing the title of the post over the image if you'd like. 

Consistency is key here. 

Some of my favorite blogs have ridiculously simplistic featured images but they have consistency and serious style. 

One blogger who does this very well is Neville Medhora of

This is what his most recent post looked like. It's just a crudely drawn stick figure .GIF file (which is clever, I have never tried using .GIFs as featured images before!)

The title sits above the image and is in the same default text every time although it's not shown in the image above, I wanted to keep the awesome GIF to show you 🙂

Design Tip #3 If you want text, create a template in Canva and stick with it

I get it, text overlays look great. I love them too. 

Now, you can get that cool text overlay look AND avoid wasting so much time by simply creating a template that you can reuse over and over again. 

Here is how. 

How to Create a Featured Image Template in Canva

STEP #1 Create an account at (you should already have one!)

This is free and easy. I pay for a premium plan but you don't have to. 

Canva sign up

STEP #2 Create a new design and choose "Blog Title"

If your blog requires a larger or smaller featured image, you can adjust the size accordingly. I find the default blog title fits nicely on my Thrive Theme (the one I use is called Performag by the way).

Create featured image post for blog

STEP #3 For each new post, change the text and the images

You can do this yourself OR simply hire a professional designer to make one of these for you so you have the best foundation possible.

Make sure that they make it in Canva or something similar so you can easily edit it. 

Once you have the template in place, you have little you can mess up. 

You can still have that personal feel and add relevant stock images or your own photos but you don't have to start from scratch each time!

This brings me to point 3...

3. Start with the Best WordPress Theme You Can Afford 

My goal is to help internet entrepreneurs of all income levels make money online, so I do try and push free options as often as possible to newbies BUT I am done recommending free WordPress themes for two reasons. 

  1. Putting some "skin" in the game and dropping some cash for a premium theme that you can use forever is a great investment.
  2. Transitioning into a new theme is messy, inevitable and costly. I don't know many bloggers who started with free themes and never upgraded to something paid. The time and energy they spend getting their new theme transitioned costs them so much more than just getting something good right out of the gate. 
  3. Thrive Themes isn't that expensive. As I mentioned earlier, the new theme suite I recommend is called Thrive Themes. It has made my blogging process so much easier, customizable and systematic. It includes a bunch of additional tools as well as just blog themes (lead collecting plugins and more) but the themes alone are worth every bit of the $19/month (paid annually) that it costs. 
Thrive Themes Cost

Digital marketers are spoiled. We don't have the massive costs that entrepreneurs who sell more tangible products do. 

These small investments will go a very, very long way. 

4. If It's Not Great, Don't Write It

Did you read the part about how I've written over 250 blog posts?

The truth, most of those were garbage.

They were just "ok," but most didn't drive traffic, build my brand or make sales.  

Don't just spray and pray. So many bloggers just barf out as much content as they can and hope something sticks. 

I highly recommend that you craft each post with purpose and have a repeatable process for choosing topics and crafting the blog posts themselves. 

I have outlined this entire process in my free ebook "The Perfect Blog Post." I highly recommend that you grab a copy and read it before you start writing anything!

Get a FREE copy of the perfect blog post

Learn How to Make Serious Money Blogging WITHOUT Writing Hundreds of Posts

Ok, that is all, now, get going!

About the author

Nate McCallister

Nate is the founder and main contributor of He is a lifestyle entrepreneur who spends his time building businesses and raising his two kids Sawyer and Brooks with his beautiful wife Emily. His main interests include copywriting, economics and piano.


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