So...You Want to Start a Blog?
By far, the most popular question I get from my Facebook friends, real-life friends and readers is "how do you start a blog?" besides, of course, "what's your favorite cupcake?" (psst...that's another question for another post). Recently, three people have asked me about blogging within the last week. So instead of copying and pasting the same email with my best practices once again, I've decided to finally sit down and write a blog about well, blogging.
Now before we begin, I want you to know I'm not an expert by any means. If you're looking for a quick way to get a million subscribers, you should probably stop reading now. If, however, you're looking for a fun way to express yourself and think you have something interesting to say that's worth sharing, then this is for you.
Now let's get this blogging party started. Here are the three things you'll want to brainstorm before you put your blog out in the world:
- A name: if you have one in mind, great! If not, no worries. Write down everything that comes to mind and ask your friends for feedback. Ideally, you want something short and sweet so it's easy to remember and you'll want to snatch up the social media handles for brand consistency. For example, LTintheCity.com is the name of my blog, my Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts. Heck, I secured my handle on Tumblr, Snapchat and Periscope and I don't even use those! When in doubt, use your name (firstnamelastname.com). You can always change it later.
- A topic: It could be anything--food, fashion, fantasy football...or all three! An important thing to keep in mind, however, is you can't be all things to all people. The most successful blogs are the ones that cater to a niche. Are you an expert on a certain subject? What do you have to offer that no one else is doing, or how would you do it differently? Whatever you decide upon as a topic, remember to keep it authentic. People can spot a phony a mile away and the Interwebs will tear you apart if they think you're faking it.
- A platform: One of my favorite bloggers, Awesomely Luvvie, has a great post about this very topic on her tech-inspired website, appropriately named Awesomely Techie. Personally, I prefer Wordpress. It's like the iPhones of blogs, user-friendly and it looks good, too. But Squarely has a good rep, too. It depends on your level of technical expertise (aka can you code?) and your design experience. I don't really have either, so Wordpress is my platform of choice.
Now that we've covered the bases, it's time to determining your frequency. Daily? Weekly? Monthly? While you may ideally like to blog every day, if you're just starting out it's best to start off slow (say every other week or so) until you establish a routine.
Hit the ground running too soon and you're more likely to stumble (both in blogging and in real life, true story). The key here is consistency. Remember, quality > quantity. Create compelling content, post regularly and the readers will come (and, more importantly, return). But if you're just posting to be posting without really having anything to say? You're setting yourself up for failure...and that's not fun.
Last, but not least, it's time to think about your content. You can have the prettiest blog on the planet, but if no one cares about what you have to say, what's the point?
Unless you're Vanity Fair or The New York Times, no one is really reading 1,000-word posts online (people just don't have the attention span). So for blogging, I'd try to cap it around 500 words, otherwise, people tend to lose interest. And, as annoying as "listicles" can be, they are popular for a reason (just ask Buzzfeed)...10 Ways to Such and Such give people an idea of what they're going to get out of the post and how long it's going to take them to read it. I keep a running list of ideas on my phone and started an editorial calendar to keep track of upcoming posts.
And try to incorporate at least one image per post (people aren't going to sit through a whole page of text). Check out this link for FREE images. And, if you're a creative of color like me, then you'll LOVE CreateHER Stock, a free stock photo source featuring women of color. P.s. You can check out my interview with the founder Neosha Gardner in my #GirlBOSS series.
For expert tips, check out these resources:
And a few blogging and branding experts I love:
Anyone can start a blog, but it takes dedication and drive to maintain one. And it takes a LOT of patience and perseverance to create a successful one. The most important thing is to have fun and not take yourself so seriously. Best of luck with your blogging!
Do you have additional questions? Ask me in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
(Photo via CreateHERStock)