Want to start a blog? Start here first!

I’m so excited that the #SummerBlogSocial is here!

For those of you who don’t know, #SummerBlogSocial is a virtual event being hosted by Liz of a belle, a bean, and a chicago dog and Jessica from Four Plus an Angel (and if you’re not reading these ladies yet, WHY NOT???).

Liz and Jessica figured that just because some of us don’t get to go to BlogHer ’11, only the biggest blog conference of the year, that doesn’t mean that we can’t network, learn, and grow as well.

 

For this installment, I’m going to write about what helpful tips I would give an in real life friend who was interested in starting a blog.

Well guess what? I DO have a friend who is interested in starting a blog! We’ve talked about it briefly, and I tried not to inundate and overwhelm her with too much information. I mean, she just wants to know how to get started, and I could tell that the words “hosting,” “domain,” and so on were just freaking her out.

 

1. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO BLOG ABOUT. I don’t think everyone has to have a niche, but do you want to blog about your kids? Your political convictions? Your journey with infertility? Do you want to anonymously unleash onto the blogosphere the burdens of your job as a teacher/social worker/circus clown? One of the funniest blogs I have come across is Tales From Library Land, where the author writes anonymously about her experiences working in — you guessed it — a library. I only wished she posted more often than she does. Of course, there are also wonderful bloggers like Alex of Late Enough, who flawlessly mix it up. Because sometimes you need to be schooled on what this debt ceiling thing is all about, and sometimes you just want to learn how to high five yourself when you don’t really want to touch other people.

So knowing what you want to write about is great, but guess what? It’s probably going to change. So…

2. EMBRACE CHANGE.  Many, many bloggers will tell you that they started off wanting to write about one thing, and their whole blog evolved into something totally different. I’m one of them. I started my blog as a way to keep family and friends (and myself) updated on the growth and milestones of our infant twins. But what ended up happening was that I rediscovered my love for writing, which I’d had since I was a kid. What I DIDN’T realize was that there was a whole world of public bloggers out there who wrote about more than just little Billy’s latest well check and “Oh look! We went to the park!” Once I became a part of that world, my writing slowly evolved to be less about my kids (although they definitely pop up a lot) and more about me. As in what makes me happy to put on this site.

But before we get too ahead of ourselves…

3. START FREE. Did you know that hundreds of new bloggers give up within the first three months? Make sure this is something you want to maintain. You can start free blogs effortlessly on Blogger and WordPress.com. If you find out it’s not your bag? You’ve lost nothing. If you love it? Then you can build from there. But you’ll also have to…

4. REALIZE THE COMMITMENT. Yes, blogging IS a commitment. When I blogged for family, I posted whenever I felt like it, be it three times in one week or once in three months. When you’re blogging for an audience, you want to keep the posts coming, in turn keeping your readers returning, your numbers up, and make yourself attractive to potential sponsors. But before we get too crazy talking about sponsors…

5. SET SMALL GOALS. Once you enter the blogging world, you’ll come across tons and tons of bloggers who all seem bigger and better than you. Their writing is wittier, their site is prettier, and their Google Friend Connect numbers are in the triple (or quadruple!) digits. Surely they’re making thousands (of pennies!). Don’t fret. You’ll get there. Or maybe you won’t. Even Dooce started her blog as a hobby, and I’m sure she never could have imagined that she’d be where she is now. But even though we want to take it slow, you also need to…

6. SET LARGER GOALS. Do you eventually want to sell ad space on your site? Do you want to host giveaways? Are you open to migrating to self hosted  Wordpress? Do you want to have Target run an entire ad campaign around you? Well who doesn’t! But don’t forget to…

7. BE PATIENT. You’re not going to gain 300 subscribers overnight, get 68 comments on every post, or have 42 people retweet your link. Maintain your authenticity, and your readers will come. But while we’re talking about retweets…

8. GET YO’SELF ON THE TWITTER! Seriously, it’s where we all hang out. You’ll soon realize that Facebook is the sleepy little town that dies down at 6, while Twitter’s like the party in the big city that goes on all night. But it’s also a warm an supportive community of bloggers that will help you out and become your friends. And give you someone to talk to when you’re supposed to be going to bed.

9. FIND A COMMUNITY.  There are tons of communities out there for networking, learning the ropes, and gaining readers and finding new writers. Check out Blog Frog for a community that suits you and your blog, join Studio 30 Plus if you’re over 30 and wordy, and the Theta Mom Community and SITS Girls to find supportive bloggers and social media mavens. Interested in honing your writing skills? You have to check out The Red Dress Club and Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.

10. BE YOURSELF. Be authentic. Period.

 

So what are you waiting for? Get that blog started! And don’t forget the most important tip of them all, HAVE FUN!

And don’t forget to check out some of the other fabulous bloggers participating in the #SummerBlogSocial!

 

Join the Conversation

41 Comments

  1. Blogging is a total commitment. I think that is why most people quit within 3 months.

    And why wouldn’t a person want to be on Twitter if they have a blog? I mean, what else are you going to do with your day, clean? Yeah right. 😉

    1. Right? Why would I clean when I can just complain to all my twitter friends about how messy my house is? And they understand?

  2. Absolutely great tips! These are actually all things I wish I had known before I started blogging. Not that it would have stopped me, just would have been more prepared 🙂

    1. Me too, although I didn’t even know this world existed. I started mine because a friend of mine did to help keep up with her kids’ growth and milestones.

  3. Thanks so much for calling me wonderful. I asked someone what my niche was once… psycho squirrels and awkwardness? Zombies and parenting? Liberal, god-loving weirdos? So I stopped asking.

    And I totally agree that blogs evolve and it’s okay to let it happen.

    xoxo

    1. You’re so welcome! I love the variety of content you provide. Your site is like a happy place for me.

  4. This was so helpful, especially since I JUST started my own blog 3 days ago. Free? You mean people pay to blog? Earn? You can earn money doing this? I am lucky to have a coherent thought these days and attempting to put that thought down in written form? Well, who knows what could evolve here. I have so much to learn. Thanks!

    1. Well, by paying to blog, I mean that you can purchase your own domain for $10, which I highly recommend. And instead of running on blogger or wordpress.com, I run on wordpress.org, which is self hosted. So I had to secure my own server hosting, but I have a lot more freedom with my site. And blogging’s not going to necessarily pay the bills, but you can earn money by running ads on your site or by doing sponsored posts. That’s a little more than you need to think about being only 3 days old!

  5. I love this list! It’s so warm and authentic and not at all preachy – just like I imagine you would be IRL. 🙂

    I love your Facebook/Twitter analogy. And thank you for posting #5. As someone who often feels intimidated or beaten down by GFC numbers, I needed to be reminded of that. In fact, just today, I mentioned in my post that my blog was turning a year old this month and I’ve had several comments basically saying, “You’ve done all THIS in a year?” And I’m looking around going, “What? What have I done? I still only have 90 GFC subscribers. That’s pitiful.” So, I definitely needed to read #5 and remind myself that GFC isn’t everything and I’m actually doing OK at this blogging thing.

    1. Thanks Kristin! What a nice thing to say. 🙂 I’m blown away sometimes when I come across someone on Twitter or in blogging who looks up to me like I’ve looked up to others like Liz. It’s kind of an out of body experience.

  6. Yo’self! hehehe I love Twitter. I used to hate it but now that I have bloggy friends to talk to, I could be on it all.day.long. I can’t believe what Twitter did for my blog numbers!
    I’ve also changed my focus a lot in the past few months. I’ve been talking a lot less about Blake and more about myself!

    1. I just didn’t really know how to use it! I was on there and would tweet out links to freelance articles i would write, but had no idea how it actually worked until I started spending more time there and started using tweetdeck.

  7. So now Jessica has revealed how she manages to LIVE on Twitter… 🙂

    Your description of Facebook made me giggle.

    I agree that having goals is SO important!

    1. I wish I had better goals, as I’m sure you’ll see in my personal strategy, but I definitely think small and big are both good!

    1. Me either. I can’t imagine what I did with all of my time before I was heavy into all this. Clean? Play with my kids? The possibilities are endless.

    1. Thanks Galit! I struggled with a bit of a bloggy identity crisis before I switched to this platform. I’m glad I went with my gut.

  8. I love tip #2! You just have to let the blogging lead you wherever. That way you’ll enjoy it, and enjoying it helps you stay inspired and keep great ideas and content flowing.

  9. oh man, two great things about your blog: your design and your language. They’re both refreshing and real. I’m already a fan, and i’ve barely read the first paragraph.

    reading on now…

    1. Thanks, Bill! What a great comment to open up. I joined your GFC yesterday too. Finding new blogs you like is awesome.

  10. These are great tips. Patience is a virtue in the blogging world! Your point about being authentic & active is so true. Good things will come if you keep plugging along.

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