Who hasn’t dreamed of being a blogging guru? From sleeping in every day to working from home, bloggers have it all. Whether it’s an angry twitter rant, or a particularly intricate review of the new summer blockbuster on Facebook, we’ve all wanted the internet to read what we have to say. But how do you even imagine starting a blog? Prepare to make that a full-time job because we’ve spoken to thriving bloggers to get their input.
Read on for tips on starting a blog, straight from the pros.
What kind of blog should you create?
Not many people enjoy the task of starting something from scratch. Most of us find it intimidating to stare at a blank screen. But bloggers use completely different skills when they blog, as opposed to when they write essays.
If you’re too tired to keep up with journaling, blogging is a great alternative to curate your life experiences. “I just always loved sharing my life online whether it was through blogs or social media. I started this blog, though, because I was planning to quit my job to travel the world (spending all my life savings in the process) and just wanted to record as much of it as I could,” said travel blogger Adam from Travels of Adam.
Sometimes people use blogs to network and create a client base. “I wanted to have a way of sharing what I was learning with other people who might want to do the same, or make some other dramatic lifestyle change, and I also wanted a means of potentially attracting clients or customers to whatever business I decided to maintain while in-transit,” said Colin Wright from Exile Lifestyle.
College students should think about how a blog might help them in their chosen field of study. “I’m currently studying a double degree in International Studies and Media (PR & Advertising) and a lot of my friends at college who also studied media had (or were thinking about having) blogs. Where’s Beth was born out of a desire to practice my writing and also to have my own little space on the internet where I could write about whatever I was passionate about,” Beth said.
We’ve heard of fake dating profiles, fake Facebook profiles and fake IDs, but no one wants write a fake blog.
Create a bond of trust with your readers. The more authentic you can be, and the more you can share with them, the more they’ll want to listen to your opinions. “I think the word authenticity is overused, but honesty is so important in blogging. If you’re looking for followers, the reason why people follow blogs is because they want to be able to see a bit of themselves in you,” Adam said. “Anything less looks great, but it’s hard to build up that trust and those connections which are just so important to keep blogging,”
Your own style is crucial. Your individuality produces a style that other people want to look at. “Figure out who you are and really be true to that. It’s very tempting to be a ‘me too’ writer, and try to copy something that’s already working for someone else, but chances are, that will only diminish your own, unique voice,” Colin said. “Take the time to understand yourself, and share that with the world. Sand down some rough edges, and sharpen others, so that you’re the most you that you’ve ever been before.”
Write What You Know
Generally speaking, someone who’s never left the U.S. might not be the best authority on living in Hong Kong. Try and base your blog on what you know and what you love. If you move on and your tastes change, then embrace that. We don’t go through life liking one thing forever. Your followers will adapt to your material if you decide you need a change, and you’ll gain new followers in the process. “Probably the number one rule that my blog runs by is write what you feel most strongly about,” Beth said. “If you pick a topic or an area to focus on that you fall out of love with, change it up! It’ll keep you interested in writing regularly and also fuel your passion for what you’re writing about—in my case my love of food and travel has only grown!”
Focus On the Writing
While messing around with fonts and graphics can be fun, people will flock to your blog to read your work. Growing as a writer means learning to focus on your content, as opposed to the superfluous details. The followers will come later. Start with the basics and work up from there. Try to post as regularly as possible to maintain your follower base. Each time you post, make sure the writing is clean, crisp and relevant.
According to Colin, bloggers should focus more on their work. “Don’t get bogged down by worrying over having the perfect blog design, the perfect social media presence, the perfect marketing plan. Those things will come with time. Most important is to write a lot and to grow as a writer by doing so. Too many people suffer from ‘analysis paralysis,’ and use all those other things as an excuse to avoid actually writing and publishing regularly,” he said. Think of it this way: Would you decorate a cake before you actually a cake before you actually finish baking it?
Every blogger worries that no one wants to read their work. The internet produces trolls and haters galore. Putting yourself out there can leave you feeling vulnerable. But don’t worry. The best works of writing/art/music all bare a piece of their creator’s soul.
Bloggers write because they love it. “Don’t overthink it. Blogging and the internet are a place for experimentation. Use it as a playground, do what you want to do and just enjoy it,” Adam said. Don’t worry about not being confident enough. Muster up the courage to press the “publish” button. You don’t have to share it with everyone you know on Facebook. “If you’re thinking about writing a blog, set it up and start writing. Even if you don’t share what you write with people until you’re super confident it really doesn’t matter. Blogging should be first and foremost about you and what you love,” Beth said.