Since I started blogging back in July, I’ve had several friends ask how they could get started. My blog has received a very good response rate, which shocked the crap out of me. I’m nearing 3,500 views and I’ve only done 33 posts since day 1 (July 1). I’m definitely not an expert, but I think I can help people who are interested in getting started. Here is what has worked for me so far:
1. How to choose a blogging site. The top two blogging sites are Blogger.com and WordPress.com. They are both free, unlike WordPress.org which involves a cost. I have hosted a blog on both sites. Blogger is easy, but I much prefer WordPress. The benefit of working with WordPress.com is that when your blog is getting a lot of attention and you have advertisers barking at your door, you can easily transfer your blog to wordpress.org and sell advertising space.
2. Most of the time when someone talks about wanting to start a blog, they follow with a statement about how they have nothing to write about. What interests you? What are you doing right now? What’s new in your life? I bought a new house, so I started writing about that. My mom is an incredible dessert-maker/decorator, so I’ve been begging her to do a blog with recipes and pictures. Maybe you have a really good sense of humor about random topics that everyone can relate to. A blog doesn’t have to start out about “something,” it will eventually evolve into what it’s supposed to be.
3. Facebook. When I first started blogging I wasn’t overly familiar with Twitter or the blog world, so I used Facebook’s status update to put up a link every time I made a new post. Facebook is an ideal way to ‘test the waters’ and see how your “friends” respond to your writing before you start promoting it everywhere.
4. Check out what other people are writing. If you love to travel, Google “travel blog” and read through what pops up. If you love bonsai trees and no blogs about bonsai trees come up in your search, then you probably have a very open market – snatch it up!
5. Once you’ve started writing your blog, begin “following” other bloggers with similar topics. Comment on their posts and periodically reference their work in your own posts. Blog sites track where readers found your site: search engines, referral sites, e-mails, links, etc. Once bloggers see your interest in their stuff, they comment on yours and attract more people to it. It’s the circle of <blog> life.
6. Include as many links as possible. If you write about a miter saw, include a link in the words so readers can click to see what a miter saw is.
7. If you really want to dig into the blog world (which is a totally different planet), create a Twitter account that coincides with your blog. You may have 200 friends on Facebook that will have access to your blog through a link you’ve posted, but your Twitter friends are mostly people you’ve never met that have the same interests as you. If you blog about donuts, you may not have many Facebook friends click on your donut blog. But if you have 200 Twitter friends who also blog about cakes, sweets, candies, etc, you will probably get much better readership through Twitter than Facebook.
8. Get creative. Use plenty of pictures and illustrations.
9. Don’t be intimidated if someone is writing about the same topic as you and they’ve been doing it a lot longer. Do you have any idea how many couples have home renovation blogs!? Each writer has a different perspective and a different way of writing, so it doesn’t matter if you’re the first or 100th to write on a topic.
10. Just do it. You can come up with a million reasons for why you can’t, and time commitment is not a good reason! My favorite blogger does one or two posts week, and I’m on the edge of my seat every day hoping for a new one! (PS, read her. She’s awesome!) There’s something refreshing about getting your voice out there, even if it’s a blog “about nothing” (I love Seinfeld references).
My favorite well-established blogs:
One more thing, if you’re still not convinced, there’s a craze about 365-challenge blogs now where you do something every day for a year. If you like photography, take and post a picture every day (or do 3 in one day and schedule the posts to show every day ) This girl was a quick sensation for her “new dress a day” blog. Blog about a different flower every day, incorporate a new word into your vocabulary every day and talk about how you used it. There is so much you can do and it sounds like a lot of work, but it’s fun! And your eyes are opened to so much more throughout the day! Good luck! Just do it!