If the idea of starting a blog scares you, don’t worry. This post will give you a little inspiration and explanation about the process, as well as some reassurance that every blog starts small and has the potential to bloom.
Why should I start a blog? Who’d read it anyway?
I asked myself those same questions. The fact you’re reading this proves people actually read blogs.
Why should I bother? Shouldn’t I stick to my real writing?
I also wondered about this. I worried that blogging would be just another distraction from the real work I’m trying to do (writing my first novel). But, just as an athlete cross-trains, blogging keeps your writing muscles warm and ready. Sure, you can distract yourself with thousands of non-writing tasks, like Facebook, laundry, TV, eating, organizing photos…or you can add blogging as another way to strengthen your writing.
Blogs are like roses. With time, attention, and care, blogs, like roses, have the potential to grow stronger and touch many people in different ways. When you first start blogging, you might struggle with the thorny “newness” of it all; as you cultivate it, you’ll develop your unique variety, watching it grow before your eyes.
Which varieties are best?. Some simply look beautiful. Others bloom and die quickly from neglect. The truly great bloggers are in it for the long haul, knowing the benefits come with time, determination and a passion for what they’re working on.
Pick something you like to write about…something you know…and you’re set. Nothing’s too obscure. In February 2010, Google reported 88 billion searches per month, so there’s bound to be someone somewhere looking for what you’ve got to say.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to be afflicted with hypergraphia (the uncontrollable urge to write) to find time to blog. Set your own pace. Twice a month is a good starting goal.
And sharing is what blogging is all about. Whether you’re imparting advice, showcasing your writing talent, cataloging family history, recording the events that your children or grandchildren or students go through…it’s all worthwhile stuff that other curious humans want to know about. Keep your ideal reader in mind when you’re blogging. Think about him or her stumbling onto your blog and saying, “Now that’s what I’m talking about. I was looking for something like this.”
Each blog entry is a chance to connect with another human being, to share a common circumstance or impart wisdom or perspective. Write confidently, knowing you’re able to do that. Everyone is. All you have to do is start.
Blogging’s good for you!
According to Scientific American, there are health benefits to blogging. I also
really enjoyed this blog post by Ricardo Sanchez of On Techies, called
“Blog More. It is Good For You“.
WHERE TO START?
I love working with WordPress because it’s so intuitive. It takes minutes to set up a blog. Then, once you commit a few hours to playing with the buttons and learning your way around the dashboard, you’ll be up and running.
I know you might be scared to start a blog. I was, too. When I finally jumped in, it felt just like getting a new cell phone: exciting and new at first, then maddeningly frustrating learning all the new features. You just want to scrap the whole effort and go back to life as it was. But hang in there. I found these links easy and essential to setting up my blog:
Once you’ve written a post (or entry), don’t forget: people need to find it! That’s what TAGS are for. Just think about TAGS as the words people will use to search for your blog. For instance, for this post, I used the following tags:
Benefits of blogging
Why should I blog?
Why should I bother blogging?
Is blogging real writing?
How to start a blog?
I’m scared to start a blog
How do I start a blog?
Starting a blog
I love to write
SPREADING THE WORD
When you want to increase traffic to your blog, you can utilize Google Insights for Search. Click here for the video to learn about what topics people are interested in around the world.
Here’s one of the most helpful posts I’ve read about increasing traffic to your blog. My new favorite thing is linking your posts to blog carnivals, which collect and link blogs of similar topics, styles, etc. for readers to enjoy.
You’ve got questions about blogging? I did, too. Maybe this virtual Q&A will help answer some:
Q: How long should a post be?
A: Brevity is key (I’m still working on that one), but pack your post with helpful info if possible. Add links, pictures, opinions, ideas, questions, surveys. Make your readers want to come back for more.
Q: How long does it take to get followers to a blog?
A: Patience, patience. It takes time and consistency. One extremely helpful activity is to check out other blogs, and leave comments on the ones you like. It’s polite blog ettiquette to reciprocate a visit with one of your own. Leaving a comment is always appreciated. Here’s my analogy: Every visit to my blog feels like a visit from Santa Claus; every comment left on my blog feels like Santa stayed, had some cookies, and left a note.
Q: Isn’t a blog just like an online diary that you’re sharing with the world? Isn’t that weird?
A: I thought the same thing at first. “What could I possibly share that other people will want to read?” Ask yourself, “What’s my goal?” Do you want to show you’re an excellent writer? Knowledgeable about a topic? Capable of organizing issues into a comprehensive format? Willing to update regularly? If you answered yes to at least two of those questions, you’re ripe for blogging.
Q: What if I make a mistake and the whole world reads it?
A: The good news is, the whole world won’t see your blog unless you know how to target the whole world (or your name is Facebook). If you make a mistake, you can always go back in and change your post. Nothing’s set in stone. You can edit or delete a post (minutes or months) after you’ve written it. The bad news is, once someone reads it, they’ve read it, and that’s that. But be brave. Everyone has something worth sharing.
Q: What separates good bloggers from bad bloggers.
A: No real answer here. Every blogger is different. Some bloggers are prolific and make me extremely envious…but that doesn’t mean they’re better bloggers than others. They just post more often.
In my opinion, good bloggers share things you’ll want to share with others. That, quite simply, is the distinguishing characteristic between blogs and traditional diaries.
Q: What if I don’t want my mom to read my blog?
A: Then don’t give her the link.
Q: What if she finds it anyway?
A: Lie and tell her it’s not you.
Q: There are so many other bloggers out there with thousands of followers, professional photographs, eloquent words, and all the time in the world to write. I work full time, want to blog occasionally, and don’t have the slightest clue where to begin.
A: First, they all started from zero, too. If you want to build a huge blog or a massive following, you’re already doing the right research for it. However, I think a great blogger does more with his/her life than just blog. You’ve got to live life, breathe the air, be with people, and not just sit at your computer day and night accumulating posts.
And as far as where to begin, just follow the tutorials mentioned above. It’s a process, but little by little, you’ll get the hang of it, and soon you’ll have a blog with archives and followers and — most of all — a stronger sense of your own voice as a writer.
Good luck, and keep me posted on how it goes. I’d love to hear how your cultivation progresses.
Photos taken at the Merrick Rose Garden in Evanston, Illinois.