This is my tenth month of blogging and my 116th post. My limited experience does not make me a blogging expert, but through my experience I have learned the basics of what it takes. Three main steps will get you started blogging: planning, creating and following through.
First of all, if you're thinking about starting a blog, you need to determine what your blog's focus will be. What are your passions? What do you know about and care enough about to write blog post after blog post ... possibly indefinitely? From there, consider:
- How often will you post?
- In what format will you post? How-to, personal narrative, news or reviews, long or short posts, formal or informal, photo heavy or with a focus on text? ... Think about the content you plan to post along with the writing style that fits both your content and your personality.
- What is the purpose or main goal for your blog? Maybe you feel compelled to write what's on your heart and mind. Maybe you want to promote a product or service. (The latter is a whole different sort of blog than I'm familiar with, and for that I recommend researching strategies like SEO, for one.)
Once you've planned the topics you want to discuss and the style and format of your blog, you'll need to find a blog platform. I created L+E+S using Typepad, for which there's a monthly fee. Blogger, Tumblr and Wordpress all appear to be free platforms. As you research platform possibilities, consider design:
- Look at blogs that you find visually appealing and that present information in a format that would fit your own blog. On what platform are these blogs hosted?
- What design templates does the platform you're considering offer?
- Can you customize your blog's design?
- Does the platform offer options for composing (via email, mobile device, etc.) that fit your needs?
This morning my blog comment notifications served to remind me that, no matter how small your readership, blog spam happens. You will know spam when you see it, and your blog platform will allow you to mark these comments as spam, swiftly removing them from your blog. Here are more tips to follow once you've started blogging:
- Do your best to keep a regular posting schedule.
- Invite comments and respond to those who comment.
- Make it easy for your readers to follow your blog: Use FeedBurner to offer subscriptions via RSS or email. (Disclaimer: I just learned how to use FeedBurner and am not sure whether there are other methods of adding email and RSS subscription services.)
- Link with love: Link to original sources, give credit where credit is due and use images and artwork that are your own or that you have permission to use. (This post on Tentblogger offers an in-depth primer on image usage.)
- Avoid obsessing about pageviews: When I was talking to my husband about this blog post, Joel remarked that looking at blog stats is like checking your 401(k) balance. If you do track your stats/balance, consider your current work and energy as an investment toward your long-term goals.
If you're like me, you want to know more. Here are a few links about blogging that have served me well:
Talker's Block by Seth Godin: "I believe that everyone should write in public," asserts the ubiquitous thinker and beststelling author.
how to write (a book). a wee rant by Patti Digh: Among her 12 writing tips, Patti advises to "name the direction of your intention."
so, you're thinking about starting a blog by Karen Walrond: Naming your blog calls for careful consideration, and Karen offers valuable advice on blog names and URLs.
Today's L+E+S post provides an introduction to what goes into starting a blog. Fellow bloggers, what tips can you add to this discussion? Aspiring bloggers, what are your questions? Leave a comment here, or contact me via twitter.