8 Tips for Writers Who Want to Start a Blog
In this world of super quick social media gratification, is labouring over a blog still worth the effort? As with all parts of the marketing mix, there is no one size fits all answer but we do have some guidance to help you make your mind up about blogging.
Above all, remember not to listen to anyone else. You don’t have to blog to raise your profile as a writer. If you feel like blogging is something you’re being forced into against your will, you probably shouldn’t blog. You’ll hate it, and your readers will be able to tell.
If, on the other hand, you are interested in blogging and want to give it a whirl, don’t be intimidated by the software or commitment. Blogging sites are becoming easier to use all the time and many a blog has quietly died after a single entry. If that fate befalls yours, that’s okay, you tried, it wasn’t for you, move on. But you might also find you enjoy it and discover a new shared community. A community who would love to buy your books...
Know why you’re writing
Set yourself a clear vision about why you’re blogging and who you are writing for. Blogging probably won’t bring you riches or a book deal but it might bring you closer to your audience. If you have an idea about who you’re writing for then you’ll know how to write. And don’t be put off by initially low viewing figures. It takes time to build an audience. Knowing who that audience is will help you find them.
What should I write about?
Whatever you want! Some people keep blogs that are purely personal, and some are more topic-oriented. Just as with your writing, train yourself to notice topics which are perfect for blogging. What’s your passion? Which topics do people tend to ask you opinion on? If you are writing about a topic you’re passionate about, it’s going to be much, much easier to find motivation to write about on a regular basis. And once your blogs are published, keep an eye on your website statistics to see how people are finding your site, and what’s drawing in the crowds!
Set time aside
As with all writing, if you're going to start your own blog, schedule time in for it. Commit. Don’t just say, ‘oh I’ll write a couple of blogs a month’, say ‘I’m going to write two blogs a month in one sitting at the weekend / in the car outside the school gates / etc.
It has to be good, not perfect
Blogs don't have to be perfect, they just need to read well. Dedicate time to polishing up your prose in your books. Your blogs can be looser and more informal.
Spread the word! This is your creation and if it’s worth writing then it’s worth sharing. You might be surprised to find out that a lot of people are interested in what you have to say. If you are on social media, make sure to link to your blog from your profiles so people can graduate from your tweets to your blogs, and, of course, vice versa.
If people visit your blog only to find your most recent post was three months ago, they won't come back. You don't need to blog every day but you do need to write regularly. How regularly depends on your own schedule, and the topic you’re covering.
If you read a post you like on another site, or feel you have something to add, leave a comment or send the author a message on Twitter. Join the conversation, make connections and develop your online network. Be genuine – if your only motivation is self-promotion people will see through you instantly.
Guest blog instead
There are thousands of magazine style, content driven websites alive today. If your writing style and passions align with one of them, why start your own blog when you could become a contributor for them? Let them worry about driving traffic to their site. As a writer, you’ll no doubt write well. Content driven websites are always looking for well-written, informative content. It’s a good match.
Getting started – Choose a blogging platform
You want to blog. Now all you need is a platform from which to share your opinions and expertise with the world. Here are a few of the biggest players in the market
Wordpress is the most commonly used blogging platform out there, and for good reason. It’s easy to use for beginners but has lots of options for those who want to get more involved. There are two ways to get started: if you have a domain name and hosting you can install the software directly on your domain and or, if you don’t have hosting, you can host your blog on wordpress.com for free.
The grand dame of Blogging sites, Blogger is now owned by Google, so if you have a Google account you can get started with ease.
Tumblr’s probably not the best platform for journaling, but if you’re just looking for a place to collect inspiration, share links and reblog cat pictures it’s a perfect solution. Tumblr is easy to use and a very popular platform.
Medium is a bit of a new kid on the blog, but it’s quickly becoming a respected home for longform writing. Medium also allows you to email out a draft if you have someone willing to take a look at it for you.
Do you have blogophobia? Here are Tat Usher's confessions about blogs.