How to Start A Blog

I was asked by one of my Twitter followers this week how to blog. Honestly, I can’t believe I’ve never written about it.

Why you should blog is here.

Why should you blog?

In my view, there are two aspects of blogging: the writing and the technical.

Obstacles

My nemesis is motivation.

Other people are daunted by the technology.

Still others, time.

All of these things can be overcome.

We know that one of the keys to being social is content. Too many people, including myself, think there’s nothing more to be said. Here’s an excerpt from that post:

What if I have nothing to say?

Have you ever thought to yourself that everything meaningful has already been said? Maybe it has. I’m sure there is another blogging series or posts that are better than this one. But this is my creation and the words come out in my voice.

Believe me, you, too, have ideas. You have your own style. You have a voice. You can add value to the world. Are you worried you’ll just state the obvious? Maybe the obvious isn’t that obvious.

“Everybody’s ideas seem obvious to them. Maybe what’s obvious to me is amazing to someone else.” Derek Sivers 

Just Write

You just have to do it. This is what all of my friends tell me. I tend to write in binges, much like everything else in my life.

Carol Stephen recommends using a timer:

“Yes, you can write in small increments. Yes, it will help your startup. Back when I started to exercise, I gave myself an out whenever I went to the gym. If I didn’t feel better after 15 minutes, I allowed myself to leave. During many years of exercising, I’ve only left twice. So set that timer for 15 minutes and get going! You can do it!”

This is what helps me.

Get a blogging buddy. Carol Stephen is mine and she writes about it here.  Some people need gym buddies, I need a blogging buddy. We brainstorm, she asks me about my drafts (in a very nice way but I know she’s like – why haven’t you clicked publish yet?), and otherwise toss around crazy ideas.

Catch your ideas. I write my ideas in notes on my iPhone. I can add to it later and copy and paste elsewhere. You may want a paper and pen. Whatever works for you is what works. Period. If the technology hinders the writing, it’s not helpful.

Compose in a plain text editor. Formatting uses a different part of the brain. Formatting is about space and art and writing is different.

Proofread by reading your post backward and out loud. Spell check doesn’t catch grammar issues, double words, or something that doesn’t make sense. Trust your ears. Often, I read it to my husband. If I’m writing something technical, I may have him read it to make sure I’m communicating with “the regular Joe.”

Many of my friends recommend building up a backlog of posts so they can be more evenly or regularly published. Clearly, I don’t do that. But you may want to follow their advice.

Also, a blog is not an essay or thesis paper. Now, Google may like 2,000 word posts, but will your audience? Will writing 300 to 500 words be easier for you?

Educate and ask for a response. Solve a problem. Use humor (what not to do).

I always say, just start. Make some short, some long. Do what feels good for you. You’ll get a sense of who your audience is and what the length tolerance target should be.

Find at least one photo for each post because it looks better. I usually take my own photos and use Canva for the graphics. Easy. But I have also used photos from a Creative Commons Flickr search. Don’t steal images. You could really get yourself in some serious legal trouble. Training yourself to look for shots that might be good for blog posts also sparks ideas. Win-Win.

Technical

You’ll need a computer and an internet connection for sure. Some blogs can be edited with your phone but that would be really frustrating. A tablet would be better if you don’t have a laptop or desktop computer.

My SEO friends Pam Aungst and Oscar Gonzalez say your blog should be on your website. If you don’t have a website, you can buy a domain and hosting for reasonable prices. This blog is hosted on SiteGround.

However, people don’t always have the budget for a shiny website and hosting. I say, don’t let that stop you.

Find a Blogging Platform. I started with wordpress.com. I had my blog there from 2011 until April of 2015.  It’s free and easy. Create a username, blog account, choose a theme, and post. There are other blogging services but I’m not a fan. Google has Blogger, Yahoo has Tumblr.

Think of a Name. It might be you “Bridget Willard” or your Persona “You, too, Can Be a Guru.” Think of a tagline, graphics, and/or photos that will represent your new brand. All of this can be changed, but in order to get a username, blog name, and/or domain name, you’ll have to have a list of choices because your first or second choices may be taken.

Editorial Calendar. 99% of people I know suggest having some kind of idea of what you will post and how often. I’m a rebel personally, but for work we use Google Sheets. Co-schedule is another popular option, too.

Grab a pice of paper. Write down some ideas. Choose a publishing day (Tuesday, for example). Plot them on a paper calendar. The holidays may inspire your posts. For example, if you are a home economics person you may have an idea for “Valentine decorations” that would be perfect the first week of February and a “Valentine Breakfast” menu for the second. Holidays can give you a lot of idea fodder. It’s okay to exploit that. I mean, that’s half of Pinterest’s pins.

Learn basic HTML. You may want to take a class or go through the tutorial at w3schools.com. This will help you overcome the fear of the tiny bit of code required for blogging (links, images, etc.).

Just do it!

Find your first blog and post it.

Now, if you’re on social media, you may want to share it. Just do it in a strategic way, not everywhere at once, be more intentional.

If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer or refer you elsewhere.

What are your tips?

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