There are myriad blogger platforms out there, but if you’re just getting started, stick to the well-known free platforms such as WordPress, Blogger, or even Weebly.
With WordPress, you can create a free blog with a reasonable amount of customization; also, most web hosts provide WordPress as a free single-click install. If you’ve never used WordPress, you will be a bit bewildered, but once you get familiar with the interface and plug-ins, you’ll like the amount of control you have to customize your site.
Blogger was created by Mr. Williams in San Francisco in 1999. The company almost didn’t survive the dot-com bust; the owner had to fire his entire staff in 2000. However, Google bought it in 2003 and the rest is history. While it’s never a bad thing to write content on a blog site owned by the largest search engine on the planet, I’m a little cautious of Google’s history of suddenly cancelling a service.
Weebly isn’t recognized as a blogging platform, but the service is well integrated and easy to use. Based on my experience, I'd say that if you want to get up and running quickly, use Weebly’s drag-and-drop templates.
Whichever platform you settle on, be sure to keep the look of your blog clean, simple, and easy to navigate for newcomers. I also recommend you keep your blog clutter free. And by clutter free, I mean no ads or a limited number of ads. Of course, opinions on how to monetize your blog differ; that’s an article for another day.
Write in Your Niche
Writers must find their voice, but bloggers must find their niche! There are hundreds of thousands of active blogs, and the blogosphere is littered with the corpses of well-intentioned, enthusiastic bloggers who got started only to quit a few months into it. The biggest reasons for blog failure are exhausting your ideas, losing your enthusiasm for the work involved, or throwing up your hands in frustration at the lack of audience.
I’m guilty of giving up a past blog adventure for the last reason. I enjoyed writing it, but at the time, I couldn’t figure out how to grow my audience. My mother was always most encouraging, but having just one fan gets old.
Write for Yourself, not Your Audience
I didn’t agree with this advice when I first read it, but I now find myself repeating it for one simple reason: when you write only what you think your audience wants, you risk losing the very essence of your writing inspiration.
Today, I blog about what I want to learn, explore, research, or delve into. It’s much more fun, and I’m (hopefully) more interesting to read, but in the end I don’t actually care. When I write for my own blog, I write for myself (and my Mom, bless her). I no longer regurgitate what’s already been said, and I don’t care as much when I’m wrong. And that leads me to my next point.
Keep Your Antennae Up and Carry a Recording Device
I’m always surprised to see where my latest inspiration came from, but I’m no longer taken off guard: just this morning, I was inspired by two fantastic ideas at my Toastmaster’s club! (Here’s a shout-out to my Rise and Shine in Victoria, BC; you are fantastic, creative people, all.) I made sure I jotted legible notes in my notebook because every time I don’t immediately write them down or record them on my phone, ideas and inspiration evaporate like morning dew in the heat of the daily distractions.
Risk Being Wrong
A blog can become more intimidating once you start to gather an audience. After all, you don’t want to blow it by being completely wrong about something… Or do you?
The problem with needing to always be right is it leads to analysis paralysis. There are times when breaking news affecting your niche requires you to immediately write and share ideas! If you wait until you are 100% certain of all your facts and figures, your voice will be lost from the conversation. I certainly don’t mean you should make it up; you don’t want to lose all credibility. Just weigh in to the best of your ability. Besides, I found out the hard way that, right or wrong, bloggers are still going to get called out on their opinions. So thicken your skin and expect derision from your readers from time to time.
Celebrate the Trolls
They exist, and they are flourishing. Trolls are the mushrooms that thrive in the darkness of anonymity who enjoy attacking your facts, your thoughts, indeed, your very right to write. My first reaction when I found myself on the receiving end of a troll’s tender ministrations was embarrassment (Oh crap! Did I get my facts wrong?). Then came the apologies, then resentment, and finally moral outrage. None of these emotional stances from which I wrote my replies and explanations did anything to deter my troll. Rather, it delighted and encouraged him! It went on like that for months until a wise woman suggested I embrace my troll. So I did. As long as the troll’s comments weren’t rude and crude, I started to have fun with him and that led to many rounds of witty repartee. What did I do with the rude and crude comments from this and other detractors? You remember what the delete button is for, right?
Keep to Your Writing Schedule
If you don’t make your blogging a part of your daily workflow, after your initial enthusiasm wanes, you will feel like you are participating in a gruelling uphill assault. It’s exactly the same psychology as going to the gym regularly. When you go to the gym only sporadically, or “when the spirit moves you,” you feel like you are always starting over and never moving forward in your physical journey. Without developing a regular discipline, a regular rhythm, your muscles will ache, your ligaments will stiffen, and your willpower will wither.
Once you figure out your ideal time of day to write and you stick to it for a good period of time, you’ll start to experience the magic of sliding into the blogging discipline without the need to exert your willpower. Okay, maybe that’s stretching the truth, but you will develop deeper reserves of energy and the ability to sit down and write. Even better, you will start to plan your content in advance, which will help you keep your blogs topical and interesting for your readers.
I hope these tips and tricks inspire you onward in your blogging journey. Let me know how it’s going for you, because I need a steady diet of good ideas and inspiration as much as you do, my friends! Oh, and by the way, I kept the best tip for last…
Enjoy Your Day and Write Your Way