I could have called this post “The Do’s and Don’ts of Blogging.” I have a question that keeps popping into my mail box “How do I start a blog?” A couple of times a week!!! This question comes from all directions: Moms who want to share their story, mom’s whose kids want to start blogs, I could go on. So I thought I would dive in and tackle it and show you that absolutely anyone can start a blog!!! Not the most technical methods, no fancy designs, just getting going in a way that you can learn about blogging and move forward from there. Now, what I did to start my blog was really quite strategic. I married a really technical guy – in the days before blogs where even invented, I saw his potential!!! If that isn’t an option for you then read away:
Se7en Steps to Getting Blogging:
- Get Inspired: Folks kept saying you should write a book, but where a couple of hundred pages in a book is unachievable to most of us, a couple paragraphs a day on a blog is quite manageable. I only started to recognize blogs for what they were a month or two before I started my own blog. As soon as I discovered them I started to devour them… and I read heaps and heaps of them and quickly had a collection that I just loved to read and would’t want to miss out on reading a post!!! Think about your favorite bloggers. What do you like about them? There are so many different blogs out there cooking, crafty, photoblogs, and then pure writing… Why do you love the one’s you love? Is it their style, is it their look, maybe it isn’t even flashy but the writing is awesome. Now what would you like to share, and how could you present your own unique voice, what would you like to do to with your blog?
- Think of a name: Seriously this blog may be a passing phase as you learn about blogging, but it may also be the one. Think of a name you can live with for a long time, a name you like and one that isn’t too obscure and won’t take forever to type!!! I thought our grannies and a couple of friends would be the only people ever reading our blog it never occurred to me that anyone else would… I am so glad I didn’t call our blog: “Whatwedidtodaywhenweshouldhavebeendoingschool.com” or “ThingsIwouldlikegrannytoknowaboutourweek.org” Really give your blog name more than a passing thought… it may just be the blog that takes off, and you want to be stuck with something that is easy for folks to search for and easy for folks to remember.
- Have a look at Free Blog Providers Out There: The two main players are WordPress.com and Blogger.com. Both of them have really easy sign up pages… choose a name for your blog and go for it!!! Really it is that easy to sign up for an account and get posting… Fill in the forms, it should only take a few minutes and read their suggestions and off you go. You are literally moments away from your first blogpost!!!
- Pick a Template or a Theme: Pick a look you like and start blogging, don’t worry about personalizing it from the get go. Learn as you go and adapt and tweak the standard features to suit yourself as you get better at it. You can not learn how to blog and present the perfect website all at the same time – the important thing is to get started. You can change the photographs and so on as you go. The first thing to think about is what to write on your about page… it is the page that most people click on once they arrive at your site and decide they want to explore more… Make it zippy, make it zappy and make visitors feel welcome. And you will need to update your about page from time to time as your blog grows and assumes its personality!!!
- Start Posting: You don’t have to have a month of carefully crafted posts at the ready to begin. How many bloggers suggest that!!! Seriously write what’s on your mind… Just start. You really don’t have to have hours of research under your belt. Take the first step and start posting. Write what you already know!!! Just practice and practice, you will soon find what sort of posting you are comfortable with. For me I like posting lists, some folks like to post a photograph and a quote, others like to write an epic… find your own style and then practice it!!!
- HTML Know How: Initially you don’t have to know html, which is the “language of websites” but after a while you will want to tweak the look of your blog posts and a handy list of basic html will stand you in good stead. Scroll down this link for a great chart of html tags.
- Moderate Your Comments: I prefer to check my comments before they go up on our site – you will get spam: telling you your blog is fantastic and they would like to sell you weird and wonderful pharmaceuticals… delete them. Very occasionally I get a nasty comment… my blog isn’t a nasty place and it is my blog, I feel nothing deleting anything untoward and that includes comments that complain about my endless and appalling spelling or my terrible typing!!!
- Think Like a Big Blog From the Start: It might be fine to call your posts: post #1; post #2, post #3,… for the first week or two but after that you are going to want to choose categories and such… Choose wisely, before you know it you will have a thousand posts and before you even blink again you will have a couple of thousand posts… you need to think about this from the start. How will you want people to find previous posts and how will you make your website easy for them to access past material. Remember if it isn’t easy to find something on your site then people will just look somewhere else!!!
And the Se7en + 1th Thing:
And just because you have read this far I thought I would give you a bonus…
The Se7en Dont’s of Blogging…
- Don’t Publish What You Couldn’t Say to Someone’s Face: Similarly don’t publish what you wouldn’t want your mother, brother, sister, aunt, to read… trust me – even if they have never been on the internet, someone they know has… and it can really be a friendship breaker for them to discover that the gift they made you for your birthday wasn’t actually what you were dying for!!!
- Don’t share all your gory details on the internet: Not even in jest, once it is out there it is always out there. In the same vain, as my Dad always said: “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing.” The world will not crumble if you take a break or skip a typical post time for you…
- Don’t Worry About Making Money: Yes numerically it makes sense that you can make a heap of money from blogging and if that is your motivation then head over to the Problogger he has heaps of “money making tips.” However, it may be a disheartening to hear but there are no get rich quick solutions. If you want to make money from blogging then you will have to put in the hours and work hard at it!!!
- Don’t Worry About Having no Readers: Seriously there are so many blogs out there that nobody is really watching your first fledgling steps into the virtual world. Once you start posting and you get into a blogging rhythm and build up a core of good posts you will be amazed at how many people will start to read your blog.
- Don’t be amazed when Folks Start Reading Your Blog: I am constantly astonished at how many folks virtually wander through our kitchen, on a daily basis!!! Seriously a couple of thousand folks look at my kids scribbles and our piles of laundry and dirty dishes!!! But it is all in good fun and most people are super friendly and will read your blog because they can relate to your blog in some manner of fashion.
- Don’t Become A Stats Junkie: I love watching my stats, most bloggers do!!! And I will never forget the trepidation and joy the first time I noticed that someone I didn’t actually know read our blog!!! Know that the blog world is fickle and some posts that you think will fly just don’t!!! And you will discover that you posted during the middle of an important soccer match. Trust me – fickle!!! Just be consistent and people will start to stick to your writing.
- Don’t Ever Copy What someone else has written: Just don’t ever do it… It is wrong… wrong, wrong, wrong. If you have something to say and someone has already written it for you then link to that site and mention where you found the link… A bonus to linking to someone else’s work is that they often link back to your work too. What goes around really does come back around in the blogworld.
And the Se7en +1th “Don’t”
- Don’t worry about what you don’t know: To begin with just get writing, find your rhythm and your inspiration and go… you don’t need to know about RSS, SEO or anything else. It is a steep learning curve initially and it you will learn as you go, and when you need something to be sure you will figure it out… or ask your readers!!! Trust me there is always someone out there who has encountered the same troubles you have… and they have written about it!!! And let me mention again and again that for blogging advise you just can’t beat the Problogger, follow his blog and you will learn a tremendous amount.
I hope this helps to get your blog off the ground. If you have any questions at all then feel free to ask and I will try to answer them in the comments. I have written a Se7en Blog tip post for Beginner Bloggers before and that has a couple of hints on a couple of topics, for example storing and including photographs in your blog posts. And I have a follow up post on how to do more with your blog… I will post it up for you next week.